Branch News

02
Apr

Glory Revisited

I have been so blessed over the past week. The Glory of Easter has come and gone and we are still basking a little in its effect on us and our church. We had one precious person who prayed to receive Jesus (that we know of). All that work and labor, heavy lifting and sewing, cooking and watching kids, practicing lines and harmonies – is all worth it if even one person comes to Christ.

That’s kind of how I see the cross. God knew what the outcome would be when He sent His Son to die for our sins. He knew who would come. Yet somehow I feel as though He would have done it if you were the only one.

So what did we learn this year? Well, we start with Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was amazing (and Diane was pretty incredible also) and I think I gained some fresh insight to how she might have felt at various points along the way through the story of her son. She displayed great grace and courage in the limited views we have of her in Scripture.

The thief on the cross reminded me of some precious truths. One is that I am just like him. Well, I would rather be like him than the other thief. Really, we are all going to identify with one or the other. Either we turn to Christ and receive Him as our Savior and Lord (Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom) or we reject Him and choose our own sin and suffering (If you are truly the Messiah then save yourself and us!).

What about Jesus? Did we find anything new or different in the Son of God? For me, I can only say that Daniel’s portrayal of Jesus this year helped me to better sense how Jesus might have felt as He offered Himself to Israel and was rejected by their leaders. It is somewhat horrifying to think that their true king, their Messiah, came and stood before them… and they killed Him. They rejected Him and what He stood for. They crushed Him.

Yet I also see that Jesus is the Cornerstone, the Rock, the builders rejected. Yet He was the Chief Cornerstone. All who stumbled on Him would be broken but all upon whom He falls will be crushed. Jesus confronted the evil in those men. He didn’t avoid the battle. He welcomed it.

The story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is so powerful. Each year we try to tell it from a different perspective. But it is the same story. It is the same story that you heard when God spoke to your heart and called you to be saved. It is the same story for all who come. God has no favorites. We all come the same way. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.

One older gentleman who came shared with me after the service, “You just can’t imagine what an impression this program has made on me.” Well, if we are truly hearing it with the eyes of a sinful, condemned man then it made quite an impression on us as well. The only ones who weren’t impressed were the Pharisees who thought they didn’t’ need anything from Jesus.

So I can imagine this older man’s impression. I still can feel the weight of my sin, my hopelessness, my loneliness, my confusion – when Jesus saved me. I still feel it and I still kneel before Him to say, “Thank you.”

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

14
Mar

So at what point does the old, old story of Jesus become too old and worn to matter?

I have sung that old Gospel song I Love to Tell the Story for most of my life. It has been a part of the fabric of my understanding for about as long as I have had any (no wisecracks at this point, please). But let’s examine this question. How long should we keep on telling this old story? Is it time for something new? Something better?

In order to really think this question through we will have to look at the story then and the story now. Let’s start with the story then. The Bible clearly defines it for us. God sent His Son into this world – the Creator became a part of His creation. That is an amazing thought in itself. Jesus created this universe with a word of His power (John 1:3) and then He became the living, tangible expression of God’s identity and image and being as the Logos (logos), the eternal Word become flesh (John 1:14). So there is in this old story this element – the eternal. What is the expiration date on eternal? Hmm. There isn’t one?

Then let’s think about the time in which Jesus was born. God’s Word says “when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman…” (Galatians 4:4). When the time was right God sent Jesus. The original word here has the idea of time becoming full just as when we are pouring a glass of water until suddenly the glass is full and brimming and threatening to spill over.

That is the moment Jesus stepped into time and into this world. The very moment when He was most needed. The timing was perfect.

The element that made Jesus birth and life and His death on a cross for our sins so essential is the vast need of an entire race of people. The Old Testament records the unwelcome news that every person who crossed its pages was a sinner. David, Moses, Abraham, Rahab, Sarah, and Ruth – all were sinners in need of forgiveness. God also made it clear from the Garden of Eden onward that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.

This is the entire reason for the sacrifices of lambs and goats and bulls – the life of the innocent to cover the sin of the guilty. Over and over again they came to make atonement for their sin with the blood of a substitute. Yet while this temporarily covered their problem it did not settle the issue. It could not. The blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).

So that was then. What about now? What has changed?

The human race hasn’t changed. We are all sinners and we all need someone to save us.

This is the reason that Jesus became a man – so that He could be our substitute. Because He was without sin He could die and pay the price for my sin and for yours. That sacrifice is timeless and it is forever. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…” (Hebrews 10:28a). He paid the price for all people throughout history as well as all who live today and He did it ONCE. It never has to be repeated and it never can be.

So is the old, old story still relevant today? YES! A thousand times, YES! And for all of eternity we will sing some variation of I Love to Tell the Story! It will never grow old and it will never be out of date because it is the greatest expression of love that has ever been or ever will be.

“So sing with me. I dare you to! Cause there’s an empty cross! There’s an empty tomb!”*

Forever grateful to Jesus,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

P.S. Join us in telling the story of Jesus this Easter! Everyone needs to hear it. Some have never heard…

*from Empty, The Glory of Easter 2016

05
Feb

Saturation Praying!

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Turning the Tide in America

There is an uneasy feeling in our land today. We see it reflected in racial issues and in political debates and in terrorist attacks and in many of the headlines in our news. There is a lot of talk but there is very little action that is meaningful. I think that is a reflection that for the most part people don’t know how to respond. The whole thing is overwhelming. But God is still on His throne…

I want to share with you some thoughts on how we begin to turn the tide of affairs in our nation and in our communities. I believe that it starts with us – the people of God. It begins with all of those who profess the name of Christ. “For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17, HCSB)

In the Old Testament we see a pattern of judgment and mercy. God’s people would forget the Lord who had blessed them and helped them and been so faithful to them. They would turn to other gods and then God would begin to send judgment and affliction. Finally, they would begin to cry out to God for relief and He would raise up a deliverer. I believe that we have turned away from God in some key areas and we need to begin to cry out to Him.

The short answer of how to turn the tide is that we need to begin to pray. We need to pray for our church, our pastor, our youth ministry, our ladies ministry, our children’s ministry, etc. We need to begin to pray for the Gospel to become real and the presence of God to be so powerful within our church family that we truly experience revival.

But we need to go beyond our walls. Some of you are already laboring in prayer for our Body. We also need to pray for the people all around us. It is my burden that we need to pray for EVERYONE in our family, our neighborhood, our community. We need to pray without ceasing. We need to pray fervently. We need to pray with love and with the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to pray in faith.

So look around you. You see that house you drive by every day? Pray for those people. Some may say, “But I don’t know who they are or what their spiritual needs are.” Doesn’t matter. Pray that God will work in their hearts.

“But they already go to another church.” Pray for them anyway.

“But they aren’t very nice to my children.” Pray for them especially!

“But they are different than I am…” They need prayer. You need the practice. What’s the problem?

Make it a point that you pray for every home on your street or neighborhood. We need to saturate this country with prayer. We need to ask God to pour out revival on our church and on ALL the churches!

Can we turn the tide in a country that has sunk so low as ours? It is in God’s hands. But He told us to pray and to ask and to seek and to knock. Let’s start with seven days of concentrated prayer. On Monday, Feb. 1, we will begin.  February 1 – 7 will be our beginning point. After one week we will evaluate and go from there.

Who is with me? You don’t need to sign up somewhere! You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission! Just get down on your knees and begin to cry out to God for your family, your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers, your enemies… well, you get the picture.

May God visit us with an outpouring of His love and grace. May we never be the same.

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit.” (James 5:17–18, HCSB)

 

08
Jan

Top Stories of 2015

The Year In Review

It always bugs me a little at this time of year when the news media begins to review all the top stories of the year. I think it bugs me because it’s hard to take in that another year has gone by. It isn’t all bad for us to look back and so I have come up with some of the top stories from FBC Branch during the past year. I may have skipped some or included some that you might not think were all that big. Let me know what you think.

Prayers Answered – We saw God work in great ways in a number of our folks – Mona Mahl, Jimmy Don Sigler, Leeann Swain, Cheryl Martin, Sheila Carson, Linda Brewer, Gene Carson, Mike Cunningham, Ron Stubblefield.  Some of these we are still praying about but God definitely heard our prayers and answered. Thank you, Lord!

We also saw some prayers that God answered in ways that we wouldn’t have chosen – James T. King, Shirley Burton, Janie Roberds, Ethan Beason, S.J. Hopkins and Reba Hammond were all ones from our family and extended family that went home to heaven this year. One of the greatest answers to prayer that I saw this year was when Lowell Parker, 82 years old, received Christ as his Savior and then was baptized.

Folks Saved – We saw God work in a lot of people’s lives this year – and all of these are a direct result of prayer. We saw people saved through our Easter Program, Summer Youth Camp (8 saved), VBS (6 saved), Day Camp (2 saved), Mission Trip (492 saved), Fall Revival, Fall Festival (5 saved) plus several who were saved in our Wednesday night youth services. I don’t have exact numbers for some of our events but the Lord knows. We had an awesome year in sharing our faith. Praise God! He alone receives the glory!

We also got to see a number of folks follow the Lord Jesus in baptism this year. We had 8 in one service, 3 in another, plus several more. Pray for God to keep moving!

Youth Pastor Transition – At the end of August, we saw a huge shift in our youth ministry. Dusty Wright and his family left our church to find a church home nearer to their home in Danville. They are still praying about where God would have them to serve. We love them and miss them very much but we are thankful for some 14 years that Dusty gave to our youth ministry. They did a great job.

It was amazing to see that when Dusty felt led to move on, God had already prepared James and Rebecca Cunningham to step up and take their place. The transition was about as seamless and painless as it could have been. I praise God for the positive way that we were able to love on Dusty and Amanda and their family as they left but also to welcome James and Rebecca. God is still blessing and we praise Him for our youth ministry.

Well, 2015 has been a pretty good year. It’s had its ups and downs. But I’m thankful for all God has done and has brought us through. What more could He have done? Now there is a tough question to answer. Only He knows. But surely if we had been more attentive to His Spirit, more obedient, more filled with faith – He could have worked in even greater ways. But God is so gracious. He is about to set us up with a brand new year filled with brand new possibilities. 2016 is going to be an adventure. Are you ready? I hope so. I am thankful for each of you and I love you all. You are such a blessing to me and to my family. I love my church family! Pray for God to do even greater things in this coming year.

With a grateful heart,

Pastor Tim Hobbs

18
Dec

The Day Star Dawns

The Day Star Dawns

“So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19 (HCSB)

The prophecies pointed to the Messiah coming to Israel. But hundreds of years had gone by with not even a word from the Lord. That makes the moment even more dramatic. In a dark and dismal place a pinpoint of light appeared. An angel spoke to a young Israeli woman.

Her name was Mary and even though she was descended from the royal line of the kings of Israel, she was insignificant in the world’s eyes. God doesn’t look on the outward appearance but on the heart.

When the angel spoke, Mary wondered what sort of greeting this was.

“Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”

She was deeply troubled by this and the angel immediately reassured her.

“Do not be afraid, Mary…”

God knew Mary. He knew her heart. He knew her faith. He knew her name. He knew everything about her. And so there is just this marvelous mystery as to why it was this girl? Why in this little town?

And the answer comes back to us. Why not here? Why not now? The time is fulfilled and all is right for God to send His Son to be born of a woman. The world is dark and the night is growing but this announcement is the beginning of the end of darkness.

And so it began. In a little backwoods town called Nazareth where a young woman lived in hope and anticipation of the day she would marry her betrothed, Joseph.

It was an unlikely place. It was an unlikely choice. It was an unlikely scenario for the Son of God to make His entrance. And it only got more unlikely from there.

But that is the way that our God loves to work. He chooses the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. He loves to work in unlikely places and with unlikely people. Does that mean that God could even use you and me?

When the angel spoke to Joseph it was to reassure him.

“Joseph, Son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

And so the light has come – deep within the womb of a young virgin girl from backwoods Nazareth. She has a carpenter who is pledged to her in marriage. Joseph was a righteous man. Humble. Strong. Poor. They were perfect.

Their job was to bring the Messiah, the Son of God, safely into the world and to raise Him as their own. In return He would die on a rugged cross for their sins and for ours. Mary was the opposite of Eve. Eve brought sin to all men but Mary brought salvation to all men.

The lamp is shining. The world continues in its darkness but for all those who are willing to turn from their darkness to the Light of Christ can be rescued from their plight. Christ is able to bring His light into our darkness. Our darkness? It is the darkness that causes us to turn to a bottle of pills or a bottle of whiskey or a one night stand or a desperate moment of anger and hatred that results in pain and suffering to those on the receiving end. It is a darkness that suffocates and strangles and consumes all who live in it. Hell is the home of ultimate darkness.

But in heaven we won’t need the sun or the moon or the stars. There, Christ will be the light of that place. There will be no darkness on the inside or on the outside.

That’s what Christmas is about. The real Light of Bethlehem was not the star in the sky. It was a baby in a manger. The darkness… is ending. It has to end because the Day Star has dawned. His light is shining and growing. He will vanquish every kind of darkness from us.

I pray that you have experienced His marvelous light. I pray that you know Him and that your entire soul is filled with His light. Merry CHRISTmas!

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

07
Nov

From the Pastor’s Desk

The Seal of God

A cattleman often uses a branding iron to mark and identify his cows. The brand they carry indicates who owns them. The brand might consist of initials or an abbreviation of the ranch name. Circle T or Lazy S or  Bar K – every brand is registered to its owner.

Traditional branding is done with an iron that is heated in the fire and when it is applied it immediately burns and singes the hair and skin producing a permanent scar that will always indicate ownership. Today some use a freezing process, tattoos, or ear tags.

I’m thankful the Lord doesn’t use a branding iron on His children. One of my favorite Far Side cartoons pictured a cowboy heating up his branding iron in the fire. Close behind him, cows inside a corral watch with very big eyes. Then you look at the branding iron. It is enormous. It says, “This cow belongs to Daryl Jones so hands off.”

Yet the Lord does have an identifying mark that defines His own. His “brand” on us though is on the inside. Some might want it to be an external thing – our haircut, our clothing, our bumper sticker on our car. No. It’s in the inner man. Here is the way that God identifies those who are His.

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30, AV)

God seals His children with the Holy Spirit. This seal  is a permanent work of God in our lives that will last until the day of our redemption. In other words, it will be there until the day God calls us to heaven.

You are sealed. What does that mean? This seal indicates three things: your identity as a believer, God’s unique role as your Lord and the sign of your security in Christ. 1) We are His children. 2) He is our Father and Friend, Savior and Lord, Master and Owner. 3) He is our security – He keeps us saved. We are sealed because we are His.

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14, AV)

The seal of God is your mark of authenticity. Yet it is inside of you. It is not something you can wear on your sleeve. It is something that will be seen and discovered by the joy and happiness that Christ brings to those who are His own. It will be seen by your faithfulness to Jesus and your willingness to lay down your life for your Lord.

So what brand are you wearing? What is it in your life that identifies you? If you are following the devil, then know that he has put his stamp on you. If you are following the world (and ultimately the devil) then know that the world has pressed and squeezed you into its mold. But this is not to be true of God’s people.

We have been called to something that is greater and higher and better. We have been called to be His.

I am just grateful to be included in His herd.

Your pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

 

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19, AV)

26
Oct

Raised to Walk in Newness of Life!

Baptizing New Believers!

It has been a great summer and fall. This past Sunday evening we were blessed to be able to celebrate some of the victories God has given us. Three precious young people followed the Lord Jesus in baptism and joined the church. We are so thankful for Austin Franklin, Renee Loyd, and Allison Porter. They each one have come to Christ over the past few months and are just beginning their walk with Christ. Pray for them that they will be a great blessing to the Body of Christ here at FBC Branch and pray that we will be a great blessing to them!

Another blessing! Marilyn McCollum joined the church during our Sunday morning service. We thank God for bringing Marilyn to our family.

Below:  Allison being baptized by Pastor Tim Hobbs


Allison Porter 2Allison Porter 3

03
Oct

It’s Your Turn

Your Turn…

Having stood in my share of lines, I can well remember what it’s like. You stand there and you’re tired of waiting. You’re watching everyone else go ahead of you and wondering when it will be your turn. Then it comes.

“Okay, buddy, you’re up. Hey what are you waiting for? It’s YOUR turn!”

Suddenly what you’ve been waiting is here and now you feel a little queasy. Your hands feel a little sweaty and you wonder why you were so anxious to get here.

If only you could find out what it’s like from someone who had already gone. But they’re not coming back this way. You take an uncertain step and now you’re at the door. Nervously you reach for the door handle just as it flies open.

There are a lot of times when we have to wait for our turn – at the dentist’s office or at the Revenue Office or at Outlaw Run. When your name (or your number) is called it immediately evokes a response.

“Am I really ready for this?”

After riding Outlaw Run (at Silver Dollar City) I would have to say I probably wasn’t prepared. I don’t really care for rides where you go upside down. Some of you are laughing at me right now. But let’s call your name and let you stand up in front of a large crowd of folks and give them a speech or a talk or a sermon about something. Now who’s laughing?

Okay, so we all have some things that make us nervous. Let’s get to the big one.

Are you ready to die?

If suddenly you were ordered to stand to your feet and answer if you were a Christian and all this time you had a gun being shoved into your face, then what? Could you do it? Are you ready? It’s your turn…

I know we talk about eternal life like its way out there somewhere but in reality if you are saved you have eternal life now. Still, there is some fear associated with death because we haven’t been there before. But wait…

There is one who has been there and who has returned to the land of the living. His name is Jesus and He is the King of Life and the Lord over death and the grave and hell itself. He is the eternal God who came in the flesh and personally devastated and decimated the grave. He tore it up. He finished it. Like the Ultimate Boss.

So there is at least one person we can go to find out what it’s like to die. We have One who has already walked the long dark valley of the shadow of death and has defeated every foe. This is good news! If there is even one who can assure us that there is something beyond the grave and that in fact the words of Scripture are absolute truth then that is the best news I’ve ever had.

So there it is. Life is so clear and certain and long that death seems so far away and yet we also know that it could come at any moment. Our challenge is not to live for that moment and give Christ our life then – it is to live for this moment and give Christ our life now.

You may have been waiting a long time. But… it’s your turn.

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

 

“The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.“ Proverbs 14:27 (KJV)

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.“  John 5:24 (KJV)

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4 (KJV)

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2 (KJV)

“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”  2 Timothy 1:10 (KJV)

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”  1 John 3:14 (KJV)

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 (KJV)

15
Sep

Fall Revival Services

 

 

 

 

Sam Moore
Bro. Sam Moore

 

We are very excited to welcome Bro. Sam Moore to First Baptist, Branch. Bro. Sam will be with us for a special week of revival services beginning on Sunday, Oct. 4, and going through Wednesday, Oct. 7. We are praying for a great move of God during our revival services. Sunday services will be at 11 am and 6:30 pm. Monday through Wednesday services will be at 6:30 pm. We want to invite everyone to come out and hear annointed preaching from Bro. Sam, great worship and singing, and a powerful time in God’s presence.

Bro. Sam was born again when he was 24 years old and called to preach shortly after his conversion. He began his ministry at age 28 and served as a pastor for 22 years of four different churches, one in North Carolina and three in Arkansas. His last church was a new church plant which he and his family began in September 2000. He has a degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina (1995).

Having sensed God’s call on his life to be an Evangelist, he resigned the pastorate in 2009 to enter vocational evangelism as a full-time Southern Baptist Evangelist.

In addition to being a pastor and church planter he has preached several revivals, crusades, harvest days and bible conferences in the states and has kept a full schedule since entering full-time evangelism. He has preached several evangelistic meetings in other countries such as Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Haiti and India.

While as a pastor he served our convention on associational, state and national levels. He has also served on the board of directors for “Fires of Revival” a ministry based in Zachary, Louisiana.

He is a personal soul-winner and has trained several churches in personal evangelism. He has a burning passion to see lost people saved and to see the local church revived. While it is evident that Sam has the call and gift of an evangelist, because of his years of experience as a pastor, he is especially sensitive to the needs of each church he goes to and is an encouragement to the pastor.

He and his wife Annette, have three grown children, one son and two daughters and they have two grandchildren.

They make their home in Bentonville, Arkansas and are members of First Baptist Church of Bentonville.

11
Sep

E5 Incredible Marriage Retreat

We are getting very excited about our marriage retreat. It is jointly sponsored by Victory Baptist Church in Backgate, AR, and Branch First Baptist Church. Our sessions will begin on Friday, September 18, with check-in at 9:30 am and our first session beginning at 10:00 am. We will wrap up on Saturday morning before lunch. We are having the retreat at Camp Paron and it is a truly lovely and restful place. The cost is $100 and includes your lodging and three meals and your conference materials. We do our best to make this a laid-back, low key approach to giving your marriage a shot in the arm. Couples, we would love to have you join us! We have some spots left so please sign up today at www.vbcbackgate.com. This is an awesome way to invest in the most precious relationship you have on this earth – your marriage.CampParon-Rotator3