It is a runner’s trick: When running uphill, never look too far ahead. In fact, it is recommended you look no further than six to seven feet in front of you. From that perspective, any hill looks flat. If you keep your head down, put one foot in front of the other, and concentrate on the moment, you eventually crest the hill.

It’s a coach’s mantra: Play the game at hand. In any given game, it might be tempting to dream ahead about regional championships, World Series or Super Bowls, but every good coach encourages his or her athletes to play the game in which they are currently competing. Score points now. Run fast now. Hit the shot now. Dreaming of the future, without taking care of the business at hand, eliminates many future opportunities.

This past Sunday, during our church conference, we embraced and committed ourselves to the 2018 Mission and Ministry Plan (budget). We affirmed and encouraged a slate of volunteers for the education and administrative ministries of the church. There was a genuine sense of excitement around the continued growth of the church and the expansion of our work in the world, but I had to take a deep breath and remind myself, there is still a month and a half left in this year. We still need to finish strong in our present work. We still need to put one foot in front of the other and generously give our resources and energies to the present climb.

During the months of November and December, our internal ministries expand with the opportunities afforded by the Holy Days of Advent and Christmas. Our ministry in the community and world are also heightened with multiple requests for assistance and the end-of-the-year funding of our mission efforts in the world. Your gifts have always been generous and strong in these final months as we crest the fiscal hill. Here’s the good news: we are on track to fully fund all ministries and mission efforts again this year! If our gifts in November and December match our gifts from last year, we will – as folk like to say – make budget. So, give a little more than you gave last year during these two months. Let’s keep our minds and hearts in the year at hand and on the work at hand. Then, we can start the expanded ministries of 2018 with a strong finish behind us. God has blessed us at First Baptist. Let us continue to give generously and be a blessing in return.

— Jim