First Baptist Church
Newton, IL

Worship News Update - 5/16/2022

Greetings folks!

Our study in Genesis continues this Wednesday at 6 p.m.

This Sunday, May 22, there will be a joint CE Board/VBS personnel meeting at 6 p.m.  We will meet to finalize VBS plans and to discuss information about Kookaburra Coast! ! ! VBS starts three weeks from today on June 6!

Wednesday, June 15, is going to be a busy one for the folks of our church!  First, the ladies are planning a Ladies Day Out.  A trip is planned to the Amish home of Barb Hostettler in Arthur for lunch.  We leave the church at 10:30 to make it for lunch at 12.  In the afternoon, we will shop in Arthur, including a stop at Beachy's Bulk Foods.  Then, back to the church by 4:30.  Cost of the lunch is $20 and we need your reservation by June 1.  Contact Judy George or Gloria Bradley.  Make checks to FBC ABW.  

That evening, there will be a Men's Dinner for Father's Day.  All guys, young and old, are invited!  This will be at 6 p.m. and will be catered by Hartrich's.  No cost, but we do need reservations!  Call the church office or sign up at church.  

Don't forget the Israel and Prophecy Conference with Steve Cook and his guest from Israel, Aharon Yahav. This is planned for Saturday, July 30, at 6 p.m., and Sunday, July 31, morning and evening (6 p.m.)  This will be a unique opportunity to hear about Israel and prophetic events shaping up even now!    
Pastor Steve

Pastor Steve Willis

Tuesday May 17, 2022

Some time ago, an acquaintance told me about an incident she experienced when she attended her granddaughter's dance recital. While she was leaving, a young lady was holding the door open. A number of people ahead of her exited through the door. When she passed her young benefactor, she said "Thank you for holding the door open!" The young lady replied, "Your welcome! And you are the first person to thank me for doing this!" Isn't that a shame? Yes, it is, but not surprising.

Folks have had problems with gratitude all the way back to the time of Christ. Do you remember the incident involving ten lepers whom Christ healed? You can read about this in Luke 17:11 - 19. Ten men afflicted with leprosy sought help from Christ. Christ healed all of them, and he told them to go show the priests that they were healed. Only one of them took the time to thank Christ for his healing. Christ responded, "'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?' Then he said to him, 'Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'" (17-19)

Isn't that something? And as we saw earlier, this behavior is still common today. Well, don't let it be common with you. Don't be the one to not say thanks. Others may not thank you when thanks are deserved, but you can't cry over spilled milk. And you can't control the actions of others. What you can control is your own behavior. Make sure to give thanks when thanks are due; and make sure you thank God! It's what should be done.

Pastor Steve
Monday May 16, 2022

I have always been fascinated by the Argiope aurantia. You probably know this creature by its more common name - the yellow garden spider. These black and yellow arachnids are the ones that weave very intricate, precise, circular webs that serve as the stereotypical spider web. I hope you have had the opportunity to see one of these webs up close, and maybe even had the chance to watch one being created.

My first experience with one came at my grandparents' home when I was a young boy. I remember sitting on the steps of their large front porch and watching a web being spun in a bush right next to the steps. I was fascinated watching the web being created. These webs are a marvel of engineering, yet are created without any rulers, transits, levels, or anything that humans would need to use to get the get the proper spacing and levels correct. At night, the spider will consume the inner circle of the web and then rebuild it during the day.

When I observe phenomena such as this in nature, I gain new appreciation for the marvelous creativity of our wonderful God. These little displays are simply microcosms of his grand ability and skill. I believe God has placed these little reminders in our world to say to us, "Don't forget who I am or what I have done or what I am going to do." We shouldn't need any reminders, but frankly I am glad they are there. As we view them, they should instill within us a sense of awe and wonder of the grandeur of God and his marvelous work.

Psalm 40:5 says, "Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare." Isn't that the truth? Let the spider webs of the world speak to you about the wonders of our God!

Pastor Steve
Sunday May 15, 2022

"The pilot is unconscious and I have no idea how to fly this airplane." This statement did not come from a TV show or movie script. It was uttered to air traffic controllers just the other day by a passenger on a Cessna 208 aircraft flying from the Bahamas to Florida. The air traffic control room got busy. Robert Morgan was one of them, a controller who is also a certified flight instructor.

Morgan got on the radio to communicate with the "pilot." "He was really calm," Morgan said. "He said, 'I don't know how to fly. I don't know how to stop this thing if I do get on the runway.'" Morgan told the person to listen to him very carefully. Guess what? There was absolutely no push-back from the pilot! He knew better - his life and the lives of the others on that flight depended upon his following Morgan's advice explicitly.

Morgan issued a series of instructions, "Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate Try to follow the coast either north or southbound. We're trying to locate you." This situation had a marvelous conclusion. The person flying the plane made a safe landing at Palm Beach International Airport. The landing rated 10-out-of-10, in Morgan's view. No report on the unconscious pilot was available, but everyone else on the flight was just fine.

Can you imagine what was going on in that passenger s head through this? We probably can't, but we need to develop his listening skills. We need to listen to God just like he listened to Morgan. Listening to Morgan, and doing what Morgan said, made things turn out right. There was no backtalk, no second guessing, and he certainly didn't say, "You know, I think I can do this on my own." I think we will find that listening to God will vastly improve our experience in life.

Jesus said, "Whoever has ears, let them hear." (Matthew 11:15) Why should we listen? Because, "Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many." (Proverbs 4:10) We are told to "Give ear and hear my voice, Listen and hear my words." (Isaiah 28:23) We should listen as if our life depended on it.

Pastor Steve
Saturday May 14, 2022

It is graduation time here in our community. We have students moving up to another level of their educational pursuits as they move into the high school training ground. There are students leaving high school to pursue educational and vocational goals. College graduates have come to the goal they have been pursuing for most of their lives. All along the way, there were teachers, counselors, administrators, and support staff who worked together to build into the lives of these young people so they might develop personally and prepare to contribute to the lives of others. Each of these mentors occupied a certain segment of the process - they took over from others who had been invested in the lives of the students earlier and then prepared them for what was ahead. In the majority of cases, folks involved in this process will never actually witness the "finished product," but are still committed to do what needs to be done to train young lives for the future.

Those involved in the process are like the craft people who create fine musical instruments. Luis Antonio Rojas, who played double bass for the Mexico City Philharmonic, describes the process of creating a worthy instrument: "You must age the wood for 80 years, then play the instrument for 80 years before it reaches its best sound. A craftsman must use wood cut and aged by someone else, and he will never see any instrument reach its peak during his own lifetime." Isn't this an apt description of the educational process?

This process not only takes place in our schools and society, but takes place in our churches. We need to be committed to this educational model knowing that we may never see the "end product" but realizing how important it is to be committed to this process. We need to train others to carry on what has been done before and needs to be continued. This is why God said, "Now this is the commandment--the statutes and the ordinances--that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children's children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long." When it comes to training others, we must be committed to the process in spite of the fact that we may never see the product.

Pastor Steve
Friday May 13, 2022

I learned something new the other day. I found out that the state of California is named after a fictional island that appears in a book written in 1510. Spanish author Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo penned "Las Sergas de Esplandien" (The Deeds of Esplandian) in 1510. This book described the exploits of Amazon-like warriors that lived on California, a paradise island rich in gold and precious gems. The protagonist, Esplandien, helped them in their derring-do. The novel was so popular that when explorers under the command of Hector Cortez landed on what they believed to be an island on the Pacific coast, they named it California. So, there you go.

As I think about the origin of names, Acts 11:26 comes to mind, "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." The thing is, they were not called Christians because they were popular. The people of Antioch were using the term as a derogatory epithet. They were being called Christians because folks were mocking them for being "followers of Christ," which is what the Greek word "christianus" (Christian) means. This was what they intended to be, so being called "Christianus" actually was an unintended compliment.

The term "Christian" is used in many applications in our world today. As a followers of Christ, our lives should give true meaning to the term "Christian." There should be nothing fictional about this name as it applies to us. To quote the eminent philosopher, Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."

Pastor Steve
Thursday May 12, 2022

Dwight D. Eisenhower experienced the winding, narrow roads of Europe during World War II, as he made plans to move troops, equipment, and supplies from one place to another. So, when he became president, he used these experiences to persuade Congress to pass the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 leading to the construction of our present-day interstate highways.

Can you imagine what travel by automobile would be like had this not been done? Well, some of us can remember what travel was like before interstates; however, there weren't nearly as many vehicles then as there are now. A way was prepared for future access.

This is what we need to be doing as followers of Christ. We need to be preparing access for others to find Christ. It was said of John the Baptist that he was the "voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'" (Matthew 3:3) We need to be doing this as well. We need to do what we can to level out the roads, take down the mountains, build bridges over obstacles, and whatever else needs to be done so that others may see the way to Christ. How are you doing in your spiritual engineering?

Pastor Steve
Wednesday May 11, 2022

Yesterday, Scherry and I were traveling south of town on 33 when we saw a sizeable cloud of dust up ahead in a field. As we got closer, I could see that the cause of the cloud was a tractor working in the field. I was impressed by the size of the dust cloud. The field equipment was totally enveloped. Saying we have received a great deal of rain in recent weeks is a bit of an understatement. I was amazed that the ground had dried out that much in such a short period of time, making the large dust cloud possible.

The effects of the absence of moisture were evident. It doesn't take dirt long to dry. It doesn't take long for us to dry out physically if we don't have moisture. And it doesn't take long for us to dry out spiritually in the absence of a good drink of spiritual refreshment. Many of us may be walking around in "dust clouds" because we are not replenishing ourselves correctly.

God warns against this, "They have turned away from me, the spring of living water. And they have dug their own wells, which are broken wells that cannot hold water." (Jeremiah 2:13) We need to make sure we are doing what we should to maintain a good relationship with our Father. We can easily experience a "dust bowl" in our spiritual lives if we don't hydrate regularly.

In our physical experience, a dry mouth, a thick tongue, headache, and weakness are the results of dehydration. If we experience spiritual dehydration, the effects can be bitterness, worry, guilt, and fear. Make sure you are doing what you should to stay hydrated so you can avoid these problems. Get plenty to drink!

Pastor Steve
Tuesday May 10, 2022

We sometimes use merisms when we want to emphasize the extent of something. A merism is a figure of speech that uses two contrasting parts of a whole to describe the whole. One might use the phrase "we searched high and low" to mean that you searched extensively. Another example is to say "He knows that from A to Z" when you want to say that someone knows something well.

You can find many uses of merism in the scripture. As a matter of fact, the Bible starts with a merism, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) Psalm 139 contains a number of merisms "You know when I sit and when I rise," (vs. 2); "You hem me in behind and before." (vs. 5) Ecclesiastes 1:1 10 is a list of fourteen merisms. Ironically, the very last chapter of the Bible contains a a merism. Revelation 22:13 says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."

Christ is describing himself here, and is telling us that He is the first and the last when it comes to, well, when it comes to everything. He is the One who created all things (Colossians 1:16), and He is the one who brings all things to an "end" by creating everything new. (Revelation 21:1 7) Within the scope of this merism used to describe Christ is the idea that not only is He is control of all things; He knows all things. He knows big things, like the future of the world, and he also knows "little" things, like your future. You can say that He knows you from "A to Z." In light of that, it would be good to put your life in His hands. You won't find anyone else who knows you, or cares for you, like this. He knows you, He loves you, He has plans for you - so give Him your "A to Z."

Pastor Steve
Monday May 09, 2022

"Always read the fine print" is advice we know and understand. Many of us have been "zapped" in some way because we failed to notice a disclaimer in a piece of advertising or perhaps in a contract that was not really in plain sight. I mean, the statement was there all right, it was just printed with a much smaller typeface and maybe even placed in a position in the form or on the screen that was not readily apparent.

I remember a TV ad from a restaurant chain saying they are going to give away free breakfast sandwiches. Wow! That's great! Just don't fail to notice the little sentence at the bottom of the screen "with the purchase of a breakfast sandwich at regular price." This is still a nice offer, but the sandwich is not exactly free.

Aren't you happy that God doesn't use fine print? Whenever he makes a statement about something or gives a promise, there isn't any disclaimer. We read in Psalm 18:30, " As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him." Everything you need to know is laid out right there before you. Of course, you still need to read it! It's just you don't have to worry about needing to pull out the magnifying glass to make sure you have read it all!

Pastor Steve
Sunday May 08, 2022

While looking for readings for our Ladies' program last week, I came across one quote that really struck me - "A mother is the type of person that, upon seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, says, 'I really don't care for pie.'" Upon reading this, I thought, "Well, that sounds like Mom," except for the part about declaring she doesn't like pie. Mom liked pie, so she wouldn't lie. She would just say, "You take that piece of pie." And if you were to protest, she would just look at you with a lovingly stern expression and say, "You take that piece of pie!"

Often, I have spoken about being others-centered. I think, no, I know, that my mother was the most others-centered person I have ever known. She just could not find a comfort zone unless everyone around her had found a comfort zone.

I love Philippians 2, and Mom was the epitome of a Philippians 2 follower of Christ: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (Philippians 2:3 - 4) Mom lived this edict.

To put it another way, allow me to continue with the pie analogy. Mom would never ask, "Does anyone want this last piece of pie?", if she was asking for herself. She would assume someone else does and that someone else should have it. I must confess, I don't think I've quite gotten there yet, but it isn't because I didn't have a good role model to emulate.

If it sounds like I am bragging on my mom, well, I am. Isn't that what sons should do?

Today is Mother's Day, and I want to honor the memory of Mom, and to wish all of you ladies a very happy Mother's Day! Thank you for all that you do and for being all that you are.

Pastor Steve
Saturday May 07, 2022

In years gone by, churches living along major traffic routes at times would pick up unwanted CB transmissions over their PA systems. Many years ago, I was attending a funeral at a local church that was interrupted by a broadcast of a passing trucker. Needless to say, this was not an appropriate moment for this to occur. I am not a real electronics whiz, but I think the use or shielded speaker cable and the decrease in CB usage has pretty much eliminated this problem.

There were times when this intrusion could be rather humorous. During a worship service, a pastor started to pray, "Dear Heavenly Father. . ." The congregation erupted in laughter when his prayer was interrupted by "Hey there, good buddy!" The Lord had spoken! The pastor was His friend!

Maybe this wasn't actually God's voice, but being God's friend is real. The issue of friendship with God is addressed in scripture. Exodus 33:11 tells us, "the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." Abraham is called the friend of God. (II Chronicles 20:7) I have always understood the "friend" of Proverbs 18:24 to be the Lord who is always there for His followers - "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

Jesus addressed friendship with Him. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) Christ continues, "You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." (vss. 14-15) Christ wants to be our friend. He wants to be that friend that talks to us "face to face." He wants to be that friend that "sticks closer than a brother." He laid down his life so that He could be our friend. He tells us that to be His friend, we need to listen to what He says and follow Him. I am glad that Christ is more than my "good buddy," He is my friend. I hope He is yours.

Pastor Steve
Friday May 06, 2022

It has been said that a watched pot never boils. I beg to differ. A pot will boil, if heat is applied, whether we watch it or not. Of course, this idiomatic expression is not meant to be taken literally. It is a way of stating that when we are waiting for something, it seems as If time is frozen, and that it is taking forever for the awaited event to occur.

At face value, this sounds like a negative experience, but it is my contention that we need more of these "watched pot" experiences in our lives. That is, we need more times when it seems as if time is frozen. Usually, we are in so much of a hurry that we fail to fully experience life's little treasures. This can be especially true when it comes to taking time to experience our walk with the Lord (heavy emphasis on walk here).

Jesus had "watched pot" moments. On more than one occasion, we see Christ withdrawing from his usual activity of teaching and healing to freeze time with the Father. "But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray." (Luke 5:16) Please take note of the word "often" here. Forgive me for being redundant - just call this a "watched pot" moment - but this means that his action was the rule, not the exception.

Do you remember what I wrote about yesterday? When it comes to our relationship with the Lord, watching a pot boil needs to be the rule, not the exception. "And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12) I have often said that if the Savior of the world felt the need to have these times, how much more should we be planning for them in our busy lives? By the way, don't try to say that you "can't even boil water." This excuse will not hold water here. Just make sure you watch the pot!

Pastor Steve
Thursday May 05, 2022

Today is the National Day of Prayer. I encourage you to spend some time today in prayer for our country. Pray also for your community and your church. The other day, I read an article about an interview that took place on the eve of a recent day of prayer. The interviewer asked the Day of Prayer spokesperson that, in light of the declining moral values of the nation, "Does that mean the Lord didn't listen to last year's prayer?"

Let me say a couple of things here. First, we need to let God answer our prayers the way He wants to answer our prayers. This is a matter of trust. God sees things differently than we do, and God is in a better position to know what is going on. Isaiah 55:8 tells us, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." So, have faith in His ability and His plan.

The second thing to consider is how we look at prayer. Prayer is more than just asking and receiving. Prayer is a conversation we have with God where we talk to Him because we love Him and He loves us. We talk to Him because we want to draw nearer to Him. Usually, we like to talk to people we love. If the only communication we have with someone with whom we have a relationship is to ask for something, that is sort of sad. We talk to people we love to build our relationship, not beg for results.

When we pray, we are enriched by the growing bond with the Lord. James 4:8 says, Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. This should be our motivation to make every day a day of prayer.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday May 04, 2022

I had an experience in student teaching that was a startling dose of realism. My supervising teacher had given me a teaching assignment on the anatomy of the heart in his advanced biology class. I was brimming with confidence as I started the session. My confidence received a little knock when one of the students asked me about an issue associated with the pericardium. I had no clue what he was talking about, and I stammered as I gave a rather weak answer. After class, I found out after class that the student was a son of a local cardiologist, I still made a valuable observation: despite my degree, I had a lot to learn.

As I have proceeded through life, it seems that, to paraphrase the White Rabbit, "the hurrieder I learn, the more I don t know." And that is true. The limitations of life make it impossible to know all things, and there are a number of questions for which I may never know the answers, This is true about life in general, and also true in our spiritual lives.

I recently came across this statement that offers an helpful perspective on this: "Long ago I came to the realization that as a finite human being I do not have the mental capacity to grasp fully what is infinite and eternal. I also have learned that what matters most is not gaining more knowledge about life's mysteries but putting into practice what God has clearly told me. As I do that, I will become the kind of person He wants me to be." Knowledge is power, but knowledge that is not put into practice is useless.

James addresses this. He wrote, "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 who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." (James 1:22 25) James also wrote, "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4:17) Knowing is important, but it isn't a problem that we will not know everything. What is a problem is knowing something and not doing anything with that knowledge.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday May 03, 2022

There are many examples in nature of things that are beautiful, but can actually be deadly. A puffer fish looks so cute, especially when "inflated", but is the second-most venomous animal on earth. A tiny dart frog looks like it wouldn't harm anything, but the poison on its skin is deadly. Early Native Americans used the poison on their darts to create more effective weapons. Belladonna and Rhododendron are attractive plants, but can be lethal if ingested. Belladonna is particularly devious in that it produces lovely berries that really look good enough to eat.

These deceptive things in our natural world serve as a reminder of something, or rather someone, else that mimics the pattern of having an attractive appearance but is actually quite deadly. Christ commented on the character of Satan when he called him the "Father of lies." (John 8:44) Paul wrote this about Satan, "And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." (II Corinthians 11:14)

The statement of Paul about Satan is found in a larger warning about those who proclaim false messages. There are those who proclaim attractive messages but what they are saying is not truly rooted in the reality of scripture. We need to be aware of this and be discerning when it comes to folks who are making claims supposedly based in scripture but are not true.

I John 4:1 offers this advice, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world." This was good advice for John's readers, and still applies today as we still have those who use the scripture for their own means. Remember, even that which is beautiful can be deadly!

Pastor Steve
Monday May 02, 2022

Yesterday, I wrote about May Day and how it was a day celebrated in older times as a time when the season is changing to spring-like conditions. That is happening this year, as in most years, but it really is sort of taking its time to do so. Cooler temperatures and a lot of moisture is what have been experienced for the most part so far. But we know that, at some point, warmer weather will be here, water will bring green, and we will fully experience a change in season.

Our lives are like that - we move from season to season, just as does the weather. We know that the next season is inevitable. Sometimes those seasons bring with them concerns and questions. This is especially true in the later seasons of life. Questions and anxiety can arise as one is faced with the increasing need of support from others, deteriorating health, financial concerns, and other issues.

Whatever season we are in, we need to make a choice. We either allow our fears to dominate our thinking and bring anxiety or we "cast our care upon the Lord because he cares for (us)." (I Peter 5:7) We should try not to waste the season, but, as Paul said, to make "the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:16)

Because of the presence, the promise, and the provision of God, we can make the most of the time in every season of life by following Christ and living as he lived - forgiving others, living in obedience to the Father, service others with joy and generosity, and allowing His spirit to dominate our thinking and our emotions. Make the most of the season you are in consider it a blessing from God!

Pastor Steve
Sunday May 01, 2022

Today is May Day. It seems in my school days of yesteryear, we made more of an event of this than we do now. Recently, I spoke with a few folks about May Day, and they offered memories of some of the practices they had at home and in school to observe the day. Some European cultures still make this a day of celebration. In ancient Celtic cultures, this was a spring holiday The newness of life and a return to more enjoyable conditions was what was celebrated in ancient festivals.

We may be back and forth on whether we need to celebrate May Day, but I am of the opinion that we should. Actually, I think that as a follower of Christ, I should celebrate every day. Now, you may ask "For what reason?", or you may say, "Well, what if I don't feel like celebrating?"

To the former inquiry, I would say that a child of God has a reason to celebrate every day. Earlier, I mentioned that the ancients celebrated May Day because of the newness of life and a return to more desirable conditions. That has taken place within us. We have experienced new life. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come." (II Corinthians 5:17) Even though we struggle with issues, inwardly we have been returned to more favorable conditions and are being renewed daily. We have been forgiven from sin and given new life.

Jeremiah wrote, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23). II Corinthians 4:16 tells us, "Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." I think all of these answer the second question above as well. Yes, we struggle, and, yes, we have things that weigh heavily upon us, but we still have much to celebrate. Our earnest focus on celebrating the things of God helps us with our burden.

Psalm 118:24 encourages us to remember "This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." So, it is May Day and I encourage you to celebrate. I also encourage you to celebrate May Two Day, May Three Day, and so on and so forth.

Pastor Steve


Weekly Schedule

AM Worship - 9:00 AM
Sunday School - 10:30 AM
PM Worship - 6:00 PM
Dinner - 5:45 PM
Cross Training - 6:30 PM
Prayer Time - 9:00 AM


Our Pastor

Pastor Steve Willis

Stephen G. Wllis has been the pastor of the First Baptist Church since August of 1983. He and his wife, the former Scherry Roth, are natives of Ironton, OH and were married in 1977. Steve has an A.B. in education from Marshall University in Huntington, WV and a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary. In October 2004 he received his Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Theological Seminary. He has been active in ministry since 1971, serving as an evangelist and as a pastor before moving to Dallas in 1979 and then to the pastorate in Newton after obtaining his master's degree. In addition to his ministerial duties, Steve is a member of several committees and boards in Jasper County. He has served as president of the Jasper County Ministerial Association and Newton Rotary, and is currently the secretary-treasurer of the ministerial association.

Scherry is a graduate of ITT with certification in interior design. In Ohio she worked as a secretary and then with the Ohio Department of Health and Human Services. She was a secretary in Dallas at Dallas Theological Seminary. After moving with Steve to Newton, she took some time away from the workplace to have two daughters, Stephanie, born in 1983 and Megan, born in 1985. When both the girls were in school, Scherry returned to the workplace, first at Arndt's Stores, then as a painter with Hidden Blessings, and since 1994, as a secretary for the Jasper County Unit #1 School District. She retired in June of 2016. She is active in the church as leader of the Children's Choirs and directing the adult choir.

Megan graduated from Judson University, Elgin, IL in December of 2007, and received her ThM from Edinburgh University (Scotland) in August of 2008. She married Casey Robbins in February of 2014, and they have one child, Sullivan. She also teaches English at Williamsfield High School.

Stephanie is a graduate of the University of Illinois (2005) and received a master's degree from Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia, in May of 2007. She is now a speech pathologist with Southern Ohio Educational Services in Portsmouth, Ohio. She married Jimmy Bailey in July of 2009. Jimmy is a teacher and coach with the New Boston, Ohio, School District. They live in Wheelersburg, OH. They have two children, Madelyn and Cullen.


For those of you not currently attending church on a regular basis we would like to extend an invitation to you. Regular church attendance can make a big difference in your life. Worshiping God, learning more about Him and enjoying fellowship with other Christians is a very rewarding way to spend Sunday morning. Our service at the First Baptist Church starts at 9:00 AM and we hope you will join us soon. You will be greeted by some of the friendliest people in downstate Illinois. If you sometimes feel that there is something missing in your life this could be a great opportunity to fill that void. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Through faith in Him, the void you have can be filled. He said in Matthew 11:32 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

A good way to find out what you need to do to place your faith in Him is to find a church where you can learn what it means to have a relationship with Christ and what that can mean to you. If you are too far away from our location, please try to find a church near by. It can change your life. If you would like to invite Christ to come into your heart as your Savior and Lord, you may do so by simply asking him to do so. Here is what you can do to receive the free gift of eternal life he offers:

1. Acknowledge that you have sinned and need to be forgiven.
Romans 3:23 - "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Romans 6:23 - "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."
2. Believe that Jesus died for you and wants to forgive you and give you the free gift of eternal life.
John 6:47 - "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."
3. Confess your sins to him and ask him to come into your heart as your Savior.
Romans 10:9-10 - "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

If you are now enjoying all the benefits of being part of a church family, wherever it might be, we offer you a challenge. In your community there are people waiting for you to extend an invitation to them. We urge you to find them, invite them to your church and show them how a relationship with Jesus can enrich their lives. The Word of God ends with an invitation. Revelation 22:17 says, "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Be an inviting person!

Our Church

Welcome to the internet home of the First Baptist Church, located at 400 W. Washington Street in Newton IL. This church was established in January of 1886 as the Newton Baptist Church. The first pastor was J.W Reed who served until 1891 and again from 1896 to 1898. The first meetings were held at the Presbyterian Church until 1892 when it was decided to build a new church. The actual construction was started in 1893 and completed in 1895. The first services in the new building were on April 27th. In 1957 a new educational wing and fellowship hall were added.

The name of the church was changed from "Newton Baptist Church" to "First Baptist Church" on July 25th, 1926. The church has had 31 pastors since its inception including our current pastor, Dr. Steve Willis who has served since 1983.

Our mission is to delight God by developing a church full of people whose integrity is beyond question, whose faith is beyond reason, and whose compassion is beyond compare.

Services at First Baptist start at 9:00 am every Sunday morning followed by Sunday school at 10:30. Our Sunday evening service starts at 6:00 and CrossTraining Bible study is held each Wednesday at 6:30. From September to May, we have CrossTraining classes on Wednesdays for ages 3 through the 8th grade. Our High School group is entitled CIA (Christians in Action) and meets on the first and third Sundays at 6 p.m.

We would like to invite you to join us next Sunday. You will find us to be a very friendly family of believers that loves our Lord and truly enjoys our Sunday morning fellowship.