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Are You Really Listening?

You would most likely agree with me that we live in a very noisy, disruptive world. Groups and individuals are clamoring to express their positions and perspectives. Many times it seems that rather than pursuing healthy and constructive dialogue, the goal is to see who can shout the loudest and longest.

Something seems to be missing in this tsunamic cacophony: the art of listening with discernment. Several years ago, I came across this helpful illustration that emphasizes the importance of attentive listening.

Back in the days when the telegraph was the fastest method of long distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse Code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background.

A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office. The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other anxious applicants in the waiting area.

After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They muttered among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified.

Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, “Gentlemen, thank you for coming, but the job has just been filled.” The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, “Wait a minute, I don’t understand. He was the last to come in, and we never got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair!”

The employer said, “I’m sorry, but the last several minutes while you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out a in Morse Code. The message stated, ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. Therefore, the job is his.”

The newly employed young man’s situation illustrates how important it is to listen carefully for the right message. The external noise of the current cultural and political environment regularly emits mixed signals and conflicting messages. Amidst this noisy background, God shares His loving, truthful guidance. Jesus declared, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

Often in His Word, God discusses with His children their need to listen to Him. In one short paragraph in Psalm 81, God challenges the people of Israel regarding their easy distractability: “O, if you would listen to Me (81:8) … But my people would not heed my voice (81:11) … Oh, that My people would listen to Me”(81:13).

James comments on this critical spiritual need in James 1:19-25, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

Three times in the Book of Hebrews (3:7; 3:15; 4:7), God warns believers who are tempted to turn from God and His voice through His Word, “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

Christ reaffirms this in His message to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:19-20, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

In a noisy, tumultuous world, it is critically important for the children of God to continually cultivate the good discipline of prayerfully listening to God’s voice through His Word. The Biblical antidote to daily discord and controversy is to “be still, and know that I am God,”( Psalm 46:10).

You have His Word on it!
KEF 04 2017

MARBC Core Values Regional Town Hall Meetings

The MARBC Council of 16 continues the development of a series of core values which were presented at last fall’s MARBC Conference. A series of strategy meetings are scheduled in various regions of the state. The purpose of these meetings is to review these values and then spend quality time in an interactive discussion with those present. You are encouraged to attend one of these important meetings to assist the association in sharpening its ministry strategy.

Regional meeting dates and locations:

CMARBC (Central Association) meeting: annual meeting, Tuesday, April 25, First Baptist Church, St. Louis, MI, 9:00 a.m. – Noon (lunch included)

SMARBC (Southern Association) meeting: spring meeting, Lansing Avenue Baptist Church, Jackson, MI, Tuesday, May 2, 9:00 a.m. – Noon (lunch provided)

UPMARBC (Upper Peninsula): Tuesday, May 9, Bible Baptist Church, Ishpeming, MI, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (lunch provided)

NMARBC (Northern lower Association) meeting: First Baptist Church, Petoskey, MI, Thursday, May 11, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (lunch provided)

MARBC Talents for Christ scheduled for Saturday, April 29

MARBC Talents for Christ – Exciting and Time-Sensitive Information!”

We are pleased to announce that the MARBC will be conducting an in-state Talents for Christ competition this spring. We are grateful for the invitation by the pastoral staff and church family of Good News Baptist Church in Grand Rapids to host this year’s event. The competition will be held on Saturday, April 29.

MARBC teens desiring to enter the competition in individual and group categories must register online at the national Talents for Christ website by March 3.

Register for state and national Talents for Christ competition

Further details regarding the state competition will be available in an upcoming MARBC Messenger.

2017 CPR Projects are now being Coordinated. Will you help?

The MARBC office has been contacted by churches interested in assisting a church in need of CPR assistance. The assistance offered includes both ministry and building related projects. Please contact the MARBC office soon so that projects can be coordinated with these willing churches.

Contact the MARBC Office for CPR assistance and/or information

We thank God for projects already arranged for this year that involve DVBS, outreach, and building projects.

Two Special CPR Projects for your consideration

Pastor Phil Devaney, Britton Bethel Baptist Church in Britton, shares that due to a storm earlier this spring the church needs to re-roof our parsonage and perhaps the car-port at the church as well. The church already has the materials, but needs laborers to do the roof project. The project is scheduled for June 1-3.

Pastor Devaney shares, “Sadly, our knees ache from hours of kneeling and prayer, and our backs hurt from carrying many burdens over the years (in other words, we are old). If you could assist us, we would love to hear from you.”

Contact Pastor Phil Devaney at: (517) 451-5415.

Email Pastor Phil Devaney for more details

Pastor Scott Kroeger, Colon Baptist Church in Colon, shares that the church is preparing for a roofing project this spring. Would you and your church be willing to assist this sister church with funding, materials, and/or labor for this important project? Often several churches partner together to help meet such a need, which is the purpose of the CPR Ministry.

Email Pastor Scott Kroeger for more details

Be sure to inform the MARBC office if you have a special need that can be assisted by a CPR partnership, or if you would like to participate in a CPR project.

Speaking and Ministry Schedule

Ken Floyd ministry photo 2011

Ken Floyd, MARBC Ministry Director

Ken is scheduling Sunday speaking ministries in 2017 and beyond. He is also available to share in special ministry seminars, consultations, and pastoral search orientations.


Ken’s upcoming itinerary:

April 25 CMARBC (Central Regional Association) Annual Meeting, Core Values forum, First Baptist Church, St. Louis, MI

April 25 GRARBC (Grand Rapids Regional Association) Pastors and Wives Appreciation Dinner, Alpine Baptist Church, Comstock Park, MI

April 27 Evangel Baptist Church, Taylor, MI, Leadership meeting

April 29 MARBC Talents for Christ, Good News Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, MI

May 2 SMARBC (Southern Regional Association) Annual Meeting, Core Values forum, Lansing Avenue Baptist Church, Jackson, MI

May 4-5 Clarks Summit University trustee board meetings

May 7 Shelby Road Baptist Church, Shelby, MI

May 8 Bible Baptist Church, Ishpeming, MI, pastoral search orientation meeting

May 9 UPMARBC (Upper Peninsula Regional Association) Prayer Day, Core Values forum, Bible Baptist Church, Ishpeming, MI

May 11 NMARBC (Northern Lower Michigan Regional Association), Core Values forum, First Baptist Church, Petoskey, MI

May 18 MARBC Council of 16 Executive Committee meeting, Forest Hills Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, MI

May 18 First Baptist Church, Newaygo, MI, pastoral search committee orientation

June 4 Northeastern Baptist Church, Kalamazoo, MI, pastor’s installation service

June 11 Grace Hispanic Bible Baptist Church, Grant, MI, anniversary Sunday

June 27-30 GARBC Annual Conference, Sandy Cove, MD

July 16 Orangeville Baptist Church, Plainwell, MI

August 13 Grace Baptist Church, Canton, OH

September 10 Calvary Baptist Church, Ludington, MI

September 12 MARBC Council of 16 meeting, Calvary Baptist Church, Lansing, MI

September 23 Closed Door Ministries board meeting, Jenison, MI

October 23-25 OARBC Annual Conference, Shawnee Hills Baptist Church, Jamestown, OH

October 30-31 MARBC 75th Annual Conference, Forest Hills Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, MI

Ken has several dates available in the second half of 2017 for speaking and consultations.

Contact Ken for speaking and ministry information

We are extremely grateful for your prayer support as Ken and Sharon travel and minister.
Contact Ken for speaking and ministry information by email:  ten.cbramnull@dyolfk

MARBC Council of 16 (2017)

Terms ending in 2017:
Chris Weeks, Kent City Baptist Church, Kent City
Ken Pierpont, Jr., Evangel Baptist Church, Taylor
Scott Florida, Alpine Baptist Church, Comstock Park

Terms ending in 2018
Tom Townsend, Calvary Baptist Church, Battle Creek
Doug Crawford, West Cannon Baptist Church, Belmont
Marc Herron, First Baptist Church, Caro

Terms ending in 2019
Jeff Burr, Forest Hills Baptist Church, Grand Rapids
Dave Sill, Shelby Road Baptist Church, Shelby
Mark Cizauskas, First Baptist Church, Rochester

Regional Representatives
Steve Ayers, Faith Baptist Church, Benzonia (Northern)
Phil Devaney, Bethel Baptist Church, Britton (Southern)
Aaron Hadley, First Baptist Church, Edmore (Central)
Lewis Hague, Blessed Hope Baptist, Escanaba (UP)
John Nixon, North Park Baptist, Grand Rapids (GR)
Scott Church, Trinity Baptist, Muskegon (Western)
Jack Dowden, Emmanuel Baptist, Flint (Eastern)

Council of 16 Officers:
Dave Sill, Chairman
Jeff Burr, Vice Chairman
Aaron Hadley, Secretary
Mark Cizauskas, Treasurer

Fragrance in a Foul Smelling Environment

I recently had the privilege to minister in the Flint area. While there, I passed billboards and viewed commercials that advertised the arrival of a display of Titanic artifacts at the Sloan Museum in Flint. It has been over a century since it’s tragic collision with an iceberg, causing over 1,5000 people to perish. Yet, the display of the ship’s remnants continues to draw large crowds wherever they are exhibited.

When deep-sea divers were searching the wreckage of the ocean liner Titanic several years ago, among the items recovered was a leather case containing 40 small vials of perfume oil. The little bottles, which probably would have been sold in New York as the ingredients for cologne, belonged to a businessman from Manchester, England. When they pulled the case from the water, the fragrance of the oils filled the air, even after being submerged for almost a century.

“To smell something that smells the same as it did on the Titanic before it went down is simply incredible,” said Graham Jessop, an expert in the retrieval of such artifacts. That must have been a high quality perfume. The quality of that perfume allowed for an undeniable and unavoidable aroma of wonderful fragrance.

One time a woman slipped into the dining room after dinner, carrying a small vial. She broke it open and poured it on the head of the honored guest. The room was filled with the smell of very expensive perfume. “What a waste,” some of the guests said. “We could have sold that and helped the poor.” (The perfume cost almost a year’s pay.) But, the man she anointed cut their complaints short. “She’s done a beautiful thing. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” And indeed it has!

The woman in the story was Mary of the village of Bethany and her story is shared in John 12:1-8. The world in which she lived reeked with the stench of political oppression, warring ideological factions, and blatant immorality. Survival involved keeping a low profile and avoiding controversy. Because of her love for Jesus, Mary risked rebuke from the crowd and gave the very best she had. Her motives were as pure as the oil she offered. Even now, two thousand years later, her sacrifice is still remembered. And the aroma of her sacrifice is as sweet now as it was then.

The current culture blows putrid winds across the landscape of humanity, leaving in its wake an angry wave of intimidation. This intimidation is especially directed towards those who embrace Biblical values. Like Mary of Bethany, the church of Jesus Christ has the opportunity to step forward and humbly offer the oil of sacrifice.

It is essential in a world steeped in the stench of sin that the church effuse a gospel-centric aroma. 2 Corinthians 2:15 shares, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” Christians are further admonished in Ephesians 5:2 to “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

Christ calls us to give our best – our best love, our best service, our best offering. Our service is a sweet-smelling sacrifice to Him. “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) And because it is offered to Him, it will always be remembered. He deserves it. And He will notice!

You have His word on it!
Ken Floyd
February 2017