Archive for May, 2017

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James Batchelor

“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Titus 1:9

The Lord has been gracious, teaching me through Godly men and through churches that hold firmly to God’s word.  He has given me a mind and a desire to teach and also to stand up for God’s word and right doctrine, even in the face of opposition.

My parents were new believers when I was born.  I was raised in attendance at church and at a young age accepted the Lord’s free gift of salvation from my sin, a lifetime of service to him, and a rich reward of eternal life.

As a young teen I began regularly praying to the Lord for wisdom, finding encouragement in James 1:5 and being convinced of the message of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes regarding the benefits of wisdom.  I was encouraged by men in the Church who saw my spiritual growth and taught me and encouraged me answering my enumerable questions and refuting my incorrect thinking.  I learned, in kind, to challenge others who were teaching what was not in accordance with what I’d been taught or what I’d learned through personal thought and meditation on God’s word, always hoping to either be sharpened or to sharpen others.

Through high school, college, and as a newly married I taught Bible studies and sought to push on the faith of my peers, meeting with other guys, hearing about their lives, and teaching them what I’d been taught.

At First Baptist Church I’ve been a part of the International ministry since 2008.  I’ve been blessed to teach and share the gospel, seeing the fruit which God provides.  I’ve been a part of home fellowships both teaching and hosting.  Prior to having children, of which Sonya and I currently have 5, I also enjoyed playing bass guitar during worship each week.

When I was first asked to consider serving as an elder at First Baptist, I began to feel the great weight of the task, to bear a great responsibility in feeding, caring for, watching over the flock of God while I myself am still a sheep.  I ask for your prayers and seek your encouragement and strengthening to please God with the work he has prepared in advance for me to do.

Jason Burgin

My prayer for First Baptist Durham is the same as Paul’s prayer for the Colossian church in Colossians 1: 9-10: “…that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  Over the years I have felt the Lord leading me toward serving in the role of an elder to accomplish this prayer at First Baptist Durham.

The Lord has established deep roots and given me great affection for our local body of Christ.  The Lord called me to First Baptist Durham at the end of my junior year at NC State when I was asked to lead worship for the summer youth retreat.  I served that summer, and began coming to the college group and leading worship.  It was a blessing to be under great bible teaching in the college ministry, and I was also blessed to have so many Godly friends and mentors to encourage my walk with Christ.

I soon met Sara on a college rafting trip.  She was a student at UNC and I was at NC State, so the Lord brought us together at First Baptist Durham.  We married several years later and I am thankful every day for such a treasure and Godly wife.  She is a Proverbs 31 woman and I am a Proverbs 31 husband who praises her.  We are blessed to have four children, dedicating them here and raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  We are truly grateful for the faithful expository preaching of God’s word and especially in the youth and children’s ministries at this season of life.  It is a wonderful place to raise a family in Christ.

Given the firm foundation and comfortable environment provided by the Lord at First Baptist Durham, I began feeling the Lord moving me to get uncomfortable and to rely on Him more.  A short-term work assignment to Brussels, Belgium presented itself and I felt the Lord leading me to take my family overseas.  Despite the humanistic, worldly culture in Brussels, the Lord led us to a Baptist church where we met wonderful friends who encouraged our walk with Christ, and new opportunities to serve became available. The experience was a leap of faith into an unknown world and we consistently experienced the Lord’s provision and sustaining power.  Proverbs 3:5-6 became even more vivid to me through the experience as we trusted in the Lord with all our hearts and leaned not on our own understanding.  In all our ways we acknowledged Him and He made our paths straight.

When it was time to return to the US, we were excited to come back to First Baptist Durham and had a greater appreciation for the treasure we have in this local body of Christ.  The Lord gave me a desire to serve in a deeper way and I soon began co-teaching home fellowship meetings.  In 2012, I helped serve as an interim worship leader on Sunday mornings.  I was given opportunities to lead men’s summer book studies.  I also began helping more with the Men’s Ministry and encouraging a culture of discipleship relationships among men in the spirit of Proverbs 27, “Iron sharpens iron…”   I have had the pleasure of being in a discipleship relationship for years now and it has been a blessing to be able to share our joys and struggles as we walk with Christ and meditate on His word together.

God continued growing me in greater understanding of His word and softened my heart to help others along in the church body.  Several years ago, the Lord opened my eyes to a young man who had been visiting FBC for years but only attended the Sunday morning worship service.  I reached out to get to know him better and asked if he wanted to read Galatians together.  He agreed and we studied Galatians verse by verse for several months.  He was also engaged to be married, so we talked about God’s plan for the role of a husband and father.

The Lord also opened my eyes to new opportunities to witness.  I met a neighbor who was joining the catholic church and we began meeting on Wednesday nights to read the Bible.  For over 2 years we read verse by verse through John, Galatians and half of Acts before he moved away.  I grew in greater understanding of the word and how to discuss doctrinal differences in a non-compromising and loving way, caring for the salvation of my neighbor.

I also began teaching the third grade BFL class how the entire Bible tells the story of God redeeming a people unto Himself through Christ.  It is a joy to reach children at that age to ensure a strong foundational understanding of the Bible.

Last year, an opportunity opened to lead a breakout session during the men’s retreat on being a Godly husband and father.


Ira Curl

To all those who are loved by God and called to be saints:
“And I am sure of this, he who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 2:6)

Praising Jesus, my Lord and Redeemer, I want to begin my testimony with this scripture because these words don’t just give me the comforting assurance of what His eternal plans are for me, but also some needed perspective into how our Lord continues to shape me to His ends. God has so generously blessed me, and the fruit of those blessings I see in my loving wife Julia and my four precious children, Sam, Sarah, Anna, and Daniel. I truly believe our life together is a temporary foretaste to the riches that await in heaven!

The son of two loving parents, Andy and Sandra Curl, and the youngest of three boys, I was born and raised in Durham to a nominal Christian family. I remember a Bible on our book shelf and an occasional “thank the good Lord for dinner!” but never acknowledgement of His Lordship in our life. Unfortunately, the eternal truth of Christ, emptying Himself and taking the form of a servant, absorbing God’s divine wrath and raising Himself from the grave, always took a back seat. But, praise God, through His great mercy, He began a good work in me. From an early age He drew me closer to Him by giving me a desire to commune with Him through prayer. I wasn’t really sure who I was supposed to be praying to though. God or Jesus? I’m so thankful for those memories because it reminds me that although I didn’t yet know Him, he knew me and was calling me to Him.

Praise God for His patience with me, for as I grew into a young man, ignoring His calling and pursuing a self-destructive and godless lifestyle, He continued to seek me out. I see now that He used an increasing sense of emptiness and remorse for my sins that gradually began to overwhelm me. This, and witnessing God’s hand overcome the devastating effects of alcohol addiction in my father’s life, and then mercifully bringing he and my mother to a living faith, compelled me to seek out the truth of the gospel and surrender my life to Jesus.

Since that day in September 1998, so many faithful brothers and sisters have poured into me. Just as Christ, emptying themselves and becoming servants. It is their Christ-like example that reminds me that my life is not my own and just as others have blessed me, I’m called to pour out those blessings on others. My prayer is that God will use me to manifest His grace in that same humble, selfless and Christ-like spirit. I’m so thankful to Him and our church family at FBC for the opportunity to serve as a deacon for our church body. Whatever capacity I’m called to serve, it will be my privilege and to His glory!

Robert Oakley

I was raised in a Christian home the latter half of my childhood. At the age of 10, I placed my faith in Jesus Christ at a Billy Graham crusade held at Carter-Finley stadium in Raleigh. I grew in my faith through middle school and high school but wandered away from the Lord during my first few years of college. Christ, however, never forsook me! To this day, I look back and see how faithful the Lord was in keeping me from going too far down an earthly path of idolatry. The summer before my senior year in college, God opened the eyes of my heart to see that there was no true joy, satisfaction, peace, and life seeking the things of the world. I repented and re-dedicated my life to Christ: to know Him, serve Him, and make Him known. I returned to college a completely new person! On my first day
back at school, I met Stacy. That encounter, orchestrated by the Lord when I was alive in Him again, led to a beautiful friendship, romance, and marriage. I praise God so much for Stacy, our marriage of nearly 29 years, and our children Morgan, Taylor, Carrson, Nathan, Hannah, and Ellie! God has used them in many different ways to encourage and challenge me in my walk with the Lord. Stacy and I were baptized at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh and we have been members of FBC Durham for about 5 years.

As I reflect on my walk with Christ, God’s grace and faithfulness stand out to me. The Lord has stilled my fears and strengthened my faith during times of trial by taking me to promises in His Word. Oh that I would learn to trust Him more! God has also blessed me with a wife, parents, friends, and a church that speak God’s truth into my life when they see me complacent or in the midst of a crisis. One of my favorite verses that sums up my relationship with Christ is 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I am very weak, but He is infinitely strong! In terms of gifts, the Lord has given me a passion for service especially in the areas of mercy ministry and children’s ministry. My family and I have been blessed to be involved in a ministry to children at Liberty Street Apartments and a ministry to adults at the Durham Rescue Mission. My desire is that God would enable us to build relationships with people in the community through acts of service that lead to opportunities to speak His truth into their lives with the ultimate hope that they become brothers and sisters in Christ.

I am incredibly humbled to be considered for deacon at FBC Durham. I fall far short of the example set by one of the first deacons, Stephen (Acts 6 and 7). Yet, I know God is at work in my heart cleansing it of sin that I might be useful to Him and prepared to do any good work (2 Timothy 2:20-21). He has given me an eagerness to serve as deacon and a desire to make the most of this opportunity. By the power of the Spirit and the prayers of the saints, I hope to serve in such a way that the gifts of each believer at FBC Durham can burn brighter and result in more Christ-likeness in the body, more lost people coming to faith in Christ, and more glory for our risen Savior!

Blake Woodlief

The Lord had been moving in my heart for some time, and when I was in the fifth grade, I accepted Christ as my personal Savior. By God’s grace, I recognized a need for Jesus in my life, and during a Sunday morning service altar call, God moved me to make that decision. Soon afterward, I was baptized in believer’s baptism. My family attended a Baptist church on the eastern side of Durham, where I was active in various youth activities growing up.

After my senior year in high school, my family moved and my church membership moved to another denomination. Throughout college and most of my 20’s, I was fairly regular in church attendance, but not very involved in church life, experiencing no real growth as a Christian. Although I did read the Bible some, I was not receiving much in the way of teaching or Bible study, and there was very little fruit associated with a growing and maturing walk with our Lord. I tried to strike a balance between a rigid Christianity of moral do’s and don’ts, blended with satisfying selfish pleasures and sinful desires. This was, in effect, a miserable Christian existence, with little or no testimony to the goodness and grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

God was patient with me though, and after my marriage to my wife, I recognized the need to establish a true Christian home, and I began to take my faith more seriously. Joining with her in membership at FBC, I began to listen and respond to God as He taught me through His word, and my relationship with our Lord became a priority.
God continues to reveal to me His sovereignty, holiness, order and grace, of which I am eternally grateful. I’ve had opportunity to serve in the past as a deacon, teacher, and in other areas of responsibility within this church body. If elected, I look forward to continued service in whatever way God leads.

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Preparing for Worship – May 28, 2017


Hymns and Songs We Will Be Singing on Sunday:

Come, People of the Risen King
Here Is Love
Come, Praise and Glorify
10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord, O My Soul)
Blessed Assurance

Sunday’s Sermon:

Andy Winn’s message on Sunday is “God Is Enough” based on I Peter 1:1-9. Read and meditate on this scripture passage for Sunday as you prepare for corporate worship.

Pray for Our Leaders:

Preaching: Andy Winn
Welcome and Call to Worship: Jared Snead
Leading in Prayer: Andy Winn, Walter Lee, Joel Harford and Jared Snead
Leading in Praise: Jared Snead and the Worship Ministry Team
Scripture Reading: Jason Burgin




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Preparing for Worship – May 21, 2017


Hymns and Songs We Will Be Singing on Sunday:

We Lift You Up
God the Uncreated One (King Forevermore)
Psalm 62
Show Us Christ
It Is Well with My Soul 

Sunday’s Sermon:

Andy Davis’ message on Sunday is “The Lamb Opens the Seals” based on Revelation 6:1-17. Read and meditate on this scripture passage for Sunday as you prepare for corporate worship.

Pray for Our Leaders:

Preaching: Andy Davis
Welcome: Chase Jenkins
Call to Worship: Jared Snead
Leading in Prayer: Andy Davis, Ben Zweigle and Jared Snead
Leading in Praise: Jared Snead and the Worship Ministry Team
Scripture Reading: Gary Gronewald
Lord’s Supper: Andy Davis


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Preparing for Worship – May 14, 2017


Hymns and Songs We Will Be Singing on Sunday:

Praise the King
The Lion and the Lamb
Christ Is Mine Forevermore
What Wondrous Love Is This
Come, Behold the Wondrous Mystery

Sunday’s Sermon:

Andy Davis’ message on Sunday is “The Lamb on the Cross Has Become the Lion on the Throne” based on Revelation 5:1-14. Read and meditate on this scripture passage for Sunday as you prepare for corporate worship.

Pray for Our Leaders:

Preaching: Andy Davis
Welcome:  Kevin Schaub
Call to Worship: Jared Snead
Leading in Prayer: Andy Davis and Jared Snead
Leading in Praise: Jared Snead and the Worship Ministry Team
Scripture Reading: David Cates
Parent/Child Dedication: Andy Davis

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Preparing for Worship – May 7, 2017


Hymns and Songs We Will Be Singing on Sunday:

Crown Him with Many Crowns
All Creatures of Our God and King
Glorious and Mighty
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
Before the Throne of God Above

Sunday’s Sermon:

Andy Davis’ message on Sunday is “The Throne of God, the Center of the Universe” based on Revelation 4:1-11. Read and meditate on this scripture passage for Sunday as you prepare for corporate worship.

Pray for Our Leaders:

Preaching: Andy Davis
Call to Worship: Andy Winn
Leading in Prayer: Andy Davis, Brian Young and Jared Snead
Leading in Praise: Jared Snead and the Worship Ministry Team
Scripture Reading: Herbert Rivera
Commissioning Prayer: Andy Davis

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