FIRST-PERSON: Star-spangled opportunities
PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) -- As our country celebrates the Fourth of July, how will you shine for Jesus?
Plan ahead to use one of these simple, fresh ideas as an individual, small group or church to show support for elected officials and those assigned to keep peace in your community:
-- Purchase a nice Bible for your town's mayor, signed with words of prayer and encouragement.
-- An adult class could sign a thank you and prayer card to be delivered with a big sub sandwich tray for the city building.
-- Prepare addressed envelopes to government leaders -- from local officials such as the police chief and city council members to senators, congressional representatives and the president. Each person writes one personal prayer note or the entire group could write prayer/thanks notes.
-- A children's class draws fire trucks and praying hands for firefighters. Deliver them with homemade cookies.
-- Each gesture of encouragement can include a Scripture, church business card or brochure and an invitation to worship.
-- Our church did a "Seal a Badge with Prayer" ministry, assigning each individual police officer in our city to a church member for faithful prayer.
-- Encourage a chaplain. Check out the "War stories" video clip at namb.net/videos-chaplaincy about our Southern Baptist endorsed chaplains. Call your state convention office for the name of a nearby chaplain you can encourage.
-- Hear their story: If you're involved in an adult small group or planning the worship service, consider inviting a chaplain, veteran or returning service member to share a Christian testimony.
-- For a weeklong challenge, members of your small group could watch for military, government leaders, police with the intention of personally expressing thanks and promising prayer. Share your stories the following week.
-- Faithfully encourage church members who are deployed for our military. Send prayer notes. Check restrictions and prepare a fabulous care box with plenty to share. Include a Bible designed for that branch of the military, available in Christian bookstores. Send an extra Bible to be shared.
-- Encourage a military family. If the serviceperson is away from his or her family, ask how your group can assist them. Keep the family on your prayer list, faithfully asking God's protection and wisdom. Do something special for the kids. Know the family's needs. If there's an emergency or illness, be there to help.
-- Picnic prayer: Hosting a neighborhood gathering for the 4th? Don't forget to offer a prayer to thank God for government leaders.
Why should we pray and express thanks to our nation's leaders? The apostle Paul instructed Christians to pray for kings and all who are in authority, asking God to help them, interceding on their behalf and giving thanks for them. In 1 Timothy 2:3, he wrote, "This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth." There's our reason. Shine!