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Beautiful fall decorations adorned our sanctuary as we gathered to worship Sunday morning at Mill Creek Baptist Church. Doug Cory greeted the congregation, welcomed visitors and opened our worship service with prayer. Special prayers were requested for Jimmy Easter, Bentley, Donna, Joe and those in Louisiana in the hurricane. Mrs. McCaine shared a praise. In announcements, we will sponsor the Triumphant Quartet to sing at Blankenship Park in Southwest City on Sunday, Sept. 20. It is a free concert, but you will need to bring a chair.

Rick Lett taught the adult Sunday school lesson, a study on our relationship with God, how we honor Him and the commitment to one another in a marriage. Janet Chaney shared information about the Reuben L. South offering that will be taken in September. All of the money stays in helping with the gospel in Missouri. She also read a humorous story about staying calm and keeping your head in all situations. Ask for God's help even in the simplest things.

The congregation joined in singing hymns of praise, led by Karen Gardner with Susan Cory at the piano. Karen provided special music as she sang, "One Day At A Time."

Scripture for God's message was from Colossians 1:9-13 as Brother Mark Hall brought us the sermon, "Change, I Want That Walk." He talked about how most of us do not like change but there are two things that do not change. God and the word of God. "There is good change in our lives as we grow in the Lord. Don't get down if you feel unworthy of the Lord. It's people who think they are worthy that we should worry about. We should all strive, yearn and desire to grow in the Lord. How do we know if we are growing and changing? Do you have more knowledge of God's will and spiritual understanding today than you did yesterday? It is not: change different but change better. Paul's walk shows us a healthy and spirit-filled walk with Christ. There will always be people in four stages of this walk."

Brother Mark told us that the first stage in the walk is fellowship. "There are those who are new to the church experience. If it is a healthy, spirit-filled church, they will keep coming for the good fellowship. They may not be saved yet, but they come for the fellowship with people in the other three stages."

The second stage in the walk with Christ is the relationship stage. Brother Mark told us we come from relationship to the cross for salvation to have a relationship with Christ. "If you are growing and changing, you won't be content in the second stage. Now you want to grow in knowledge and wisdom and want to become involved. That begins the discipleship stage. That's where you become hungry to learn. And in the Lordship stage, you make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life. You are naturally fruitful when you take on the characteristics of Christ. When the lordship stage grows, the fellowship crowd grows. People come and want that fellowship and we then grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord. When the lordship takes hold, God's work and will are carried out of the church and into the world." Brother Mark told us that the devil has his own stage and that is abandon ship. "The devil wants the fellowship crowd to fall out before they get to the cross. He wants to stall your ship and create a bottleneck in your relationship with the Lord. A church that stalls out is like a car out of gas."

Brother Mark asked, "How do you get from relationship to discipleship? A growing Christian desires more Jesus and wants that walk. They aren't afraid to get out of the boat (the church) and take it out to the world. Brother Mark referred to Matthew 14:22-30 as it talks of Peter who wanted to get out of the boat on the rough sea and go to Jesus. There were two disciples in the boat, but only Peter got out of the safe boat as Jesus walked on the water and called on Peter to do the same to come to Him, took him by the hand and caught him. Brother Mark told us that the church is our boat. "We are safe in our boat, but it gets rough outside of the church. It is nice and safe in our boat on Sunday mornings, but even Peter got out of the boat to go with Jesus. Peter walked on what he used to sink in. He had taken control of what controlled him. Just as Peter began to sink in the water and Jesus saved him, Jesus Christ helps us in the storms of life. When we are sinking in sin, He is there for us. It may be in His time and we may suffer in our consequences for a while, but we don't have to be afraid because Jesus tells us in verse 27 'Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.'"

In closing, Brother Mark told us that fellowship to relationship takes getting out of the boat and going to the altar because Jesus is there. "Are you a water walker? Every stage gets you closer to God. In lordship, you walk with confidence in an abundant life. You walk above what you used to sink in with Jesus Christ. Whatever controlled you, you now control when you walk worthy with the Lord. The most important decision is in the relationship phase and that is an eternal decision. I pray that you grow in spiritual knowledge and walk worthy in the Lord with His lordship."

Our hymn of invitation was "Jesus Paid It All," and Rick Lett gave the benediction. We invite you to worship with us Sunday mornings at 11. Sunday school begins at 10. Everyone is welcome at Mill Creek Baptist Church, located 3 1/2 miles east of Noel, just off Highway 90.

Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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