Free Tract Design Downloads

SmileyTract FrontBelow is a tract design which we have found useful. We call it the Smiley Face Tract, and it was inspired by a similar design made by my good friend Pastor Robb Foreman in Midland, TX. They found, as we have, that almost no one turns down a tract with a big yellow smiley face on the front. Pictured is the tract designed for Providence Baptist Church in Anna.

We’ve customized it for a few churches but decided just to put this out there for any independent Baptists who would like to use it for their church. It is a 3×5.5 flat card that fits perfectly in a front pocket.

We order ours through Uprinting.com. They do good work and it is very easy to use their site. Of course, you can order from anyone like you.

SmileyTract BackDownload the “front” file, then add your own information to it in Microsoft Word. Save it as a PDF. You will need both files, front and back (the back file is already a PDF). At Uprinting.com, select “flat invitations,” the 3×5.5″ size, and upload the files. With these files, you can order as many as you want, whenever you want, without a middle man.

Here are the links to the files:

  1. Front
  2. Back

We are making these free for all to be used by churches. Hope that they are a help to someone. God bless!

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Appearances Can Be Deceiving

download-5Genesis 42:36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.

Jacob had no idea what God was doing.

Twenty years earlier, Joseph had disappeared from Jacob’s life; his sons deceived him into believing that his beloved son had been eaten by a wild beast. Twenty years later, a famine gripped the land, and in desperation he sent ten of his remaining sons to Egypt to buy bread, keeping Benjamin behind for safekeeping. Then, only nine of his sons returned, leaving Simeon in Egypt, and with the fearful pronouncement that they would not see Simeon again unless they returned with Jacob’s youngest son, Benjamin. And, they were terrified to find stolen goods inside the sacks of food that they had brought home.

In frustration, Jacob declared, “All these things are against me!”

That was the situation from Jacob’s perspective. But what was really happening?

Over the last twenty years, Joseph had gone through his trials and come out the Vice Pharaoh of Egypt. Through his God-given wisdom, he had guided Egypt through the seven years of plenty so that they had enough stored away to survive the years of drought. When Jacob’s sons arrived to buy bread, it was Joseph that they appeared before; they did not recognize him. It was his plan to get them to return with Benjamin, no doubt to make sure a similar fate had not befallen him in Joseph’s absence. He had commanded his servants to place the “stolen goods” in their sacks of food.

Jacob said, “All these things are against me!” But nothing was further from the truth. In God’s providence, all things were working together for the glory of God and the good of His people. Certainly, some things in Jacob’s life were the result of the law of sowing and reaping; but there is no denying the work of God’s superintending providence in his life as well.

God had placed Joseph in the position of power to save their family. And through these events, Jacob was going to see his son again!

Sometimes, appearances are deceiving. We do not know what God is doing. His hand of providence works in ways beyond our understanding. How would YOU have taken Joseph and made him Vice Pharaoh of Egypt? Probably not the way that God did it – through a pit, Potiphar’s house, and prison. But God has His ways and they are not ours:

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. (9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Trust God! Appearances can be deceiving. What may seem to be AGAINST you may actually be God working FOR your good.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

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Dear Jacob – You Reap What You Sow.

jacobGenesis 31:4-7 And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock, (5) And said unto them… (7) And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.

In reading once again the life of Jacob, I am reminded that God has established an unswerving law in both the natural and spiritual realms – the law of the harvest, or the law of sowing and reaping. The unbelieving world calls it karma – what goes around comes around. Paul described the true nature of this unchanging law:

Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

The law of the harvest has three aspects:

  1. We reap what we sow. The law is the same whether we sow good seed or bad. If you want a good harvest, sow good seed; if you sow bad seed, don’t be surprised when a bad harvest comes up!
  2. We always reap later than we sow. It takes time for the harvest to grow.
  3. We always reap more than we sow. Jesus told us that one seed could return thirty-fold, or sixty-fold, or a hundred-fold (Mt. 13:23).

In Jacob’s early life, he was a deceiver, a trickster. His twin brother Esau was carnal and worldly, but seems to have at least been upfront in his actions, bad as they were. Jacob, though, was not above stooping to take advantage of situations (like selling a bowl of soup for the birthright instead of simply feeding his brother – how many of us would charge our relatives for a bowl of soup if they were hungry?) or lying and deceiving his father to steal a blessing.

In Genesis 27, it is a sad story. Instigated by his mother (it was her manipulative plan from beginning to end), Jacob dressed up in goat skins and did his best to sound like Esau, and lied to his father, even bringing the Lord’s name into his deception (vs. 20). In the Continue reading

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Christian Parents – But Lost Children!

Carlson-Family_Sitting-in-Church_Mac-CoB-3297One of the saddest thoughts in the world is that Christian parents, who have been genuinely born again and are on their way to heaven, will raise children who will end up dying and going to hell.

Is this possible? Of course it is. Salvation is not hereditary. We are not saved because our parents or grandparents are saved. It is not something we inherit. We are not Christians because our family members are Christians. Salvation is entirely personal. God does not have any grandchildren – only children, those who have personally received Jesus Christ as their own Saviour. Without that personal faith, there has been no regeneration, no salvation, no giving or receiving of eternal life.

  • John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

It is foolish and unbiblical for the Christian parent to believe that his or her child will go to heaven (of course!) without a personal salvation experience. My children were born sinners and needed the same salvation as every other sinner who has ever lived; the only thing they inherited from me was a sinful nature (Romans 5:12). The reason my kids are saved today is, first of all, by the grace of God; but humanly speaking, it is because they were taught the scriptures, kept in an environment that emphasized salvation, and when they understood the gospel each one made the decision to receive Jesus personally and individually.

Sadly, however, many parents do not show much concern for the eternal well-being of their children (and even their grandchildren to come). The parents are saved, but they are out of church. The parents heard the gospel, but the kids never do. Oh, maybe they drop in somewhere for Easter or Christmas – but this often only serves to harden the heart, equating religiosity with repentance and regeneration.

  • 2 Timothy 1:5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-15 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; (15) And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Timothy was saved because his mother and grandmother kept him in the scriptures, which made him wise unto salvation. His mother and grandmother took responsibility for his eternal well-being, and made the difference.

How can we raise up our children so that they will be wise unto salvation?

I.TAKE YOUR CHILDREN TO CHURCH.

Start this Sunday. Put them in Sunday School. Put them under the influence of godly people and a constant gospel message.

II. KEEP YOUR CHILDREN IN CHURCH.

I believe in childhood conversions. I also believe that some childhood conversions are as worthless as monopoly money at Walmart (frankly, some adult “conversions” are as well). I know this because many times these kids, as teenagers, while at youth camp or in a revival, suddenly get convicted and saved, and then say that sometimes they can’t even remember what happened when they were little kids.

The sad thing is that some young parents stay around church just long enough for their five year old to make a profession of faith – and then they drop out of church.

My children have grown up in church and all made early professions of faith – but I kept praying for them as they got older – just in case! I prayed that if their childhood professions were not real that they would come to a place where they truly exercised repentance and faith. I know that goes against the philosophies of some, but when it comes to my own child’s eternal destiny, I wanted them to BE SURE. And to know it, and not spend years doubting it. Or worse, to not get saved at all, and just grow up to be an unsaved Baptist. I believe some of the prodigals we pray for are not really prodigals – they are not saved. We ought to be praying for their salvation, but instead we are trying to pray lost people back into our church memberships.

I have seen teenagers come under conviction, say that they were not saved and needed to be saved, and get genuinely saved – only to hear the parent say, “Oh no, he got saved when he was four – I have the baptism certificate to prove it!” Oh, we must be careful when it comes to the souls of our children!

Keep your kids in church. Keep them under gospel preaching, and take them to revivals, and send them to youth camp. I want my kids to hear as much Bible preaching and as many gospel invitations as possible.

III. HAVE A CHRIST-HONORING AND GODLY HOME.

It’s not just going to church. Just going to church produces hypocrites, if we aren’t practicing anything at home. Set the example for your kids.

IV. KEEP PRAYING FOR YOUR CHILDREN.

Never, never, never get so lukewarm and backslidden that you cannot or do not pray for your children.

How awful to be a born again Christian, and not to be concerned about the eternal welfare of our own children! If you are out of church, I encourage you to get back into a good Bible-preaching church immediately. Get in and stay in. Make the difference for your children and grandchildren, like Timothy’s mother and grandmother.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

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Divine Arithmetic In The Church

arithmeticIn a recent message, we touched on some of the different ways in which the Holy Spirit works in the local church. We make a mistake when we think that God only grows the church in one direction. Many grow discouraged when they do not see that one dimension of growth. In the church of Jerusalem, often the model of church growth, we see the Holy Spirit working in four different ways, which we call His “divine arithmetic.” Consider:

I. ADDITION.

  • Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
  • Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
  • Acts 5:14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.

This is an exciting time in any church – when people are getting saved, baptized and added to the church. It is always a blessing to see people added to the Lord, being saved from their sins and born into God’s family. It is also exciting to see people joining the church and increasing the membership. If a church doesn’t grow, it will die or at least become stagnant.

II. SUBTRACTION.

  • Acts 5:5-10 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. (6) And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. (7) And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in…(10) Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

Here, we have a situation in which God subtracted two from the church membership – by death! It certainly caused quite a stir. A righteous fear of God filled the church. We know of other situations in the New Testament in which members were excluded because of sin (such as the young adulterer in 1 Corinthians 5).

But not all subtractions are negative. God can remove people from a church for various reasons. Sometimes, people move away, and it is the will of God.  Perhaps God wants to use them in another church. Sometimes it is the best thing for the church (if the person is a bad influence), sometimes it is the best thing for the member being moved (if the current situation is not healthy for them), and sometimes it is to be a blessing in another church (where they are “added”). As a pastor, I have always enjoyed people moving to my church more than people moving away, but sometimes God does work by subtraction. (Of course, so does the devil, and many people simply backslide out of God’s will for their lives, or are mislead by others.)

Sometimes, preachers and church members get discouraged when the attendance trends downward for a time (“it ain’t what it used to be!”) – but we should understand that such times happen in churches and we should trust God and work harder to see addition.

III. MULTIPLICATION.

  • Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied…
  • Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

When a church goes from simply adding people here and there, to actually doubling and tripling in size, it is an amazing time. God can still do it!

IV. DIVISION.

  • Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

For six chapters, the church of Jerusalem was added to, subtracted from, and then multiplied – and then God split it and scattered the members abroad. This resulted in many new churches being started in Judea, Samaria, and many other areas. In another example, in the great church of Antioch, the Holy Spirit divided Paul and Barnabas from the church and sent them to the mission field.

Certainly, Satan is also in the church dividing business – but his divisions come from heresy, hard hearts or the works of the flesh. When God divides a church, it is for the furtherance of the gospel.

What is our part in all of this? To seek to carry out the Lord’s Great Commission, to be His witnesses, to preach the Bible and do all we can to win souls, baptize believers, and train disciples. The Holy Spirit, the Administer of the churches, will do His work – adding to, sometimes taking from, sometimes multiplying, and sometimes dividing.

After 15 years at LBC, we’ve seen all of the above. We have seen constant additions (not every day, or every Sunday perhaps, but constantly and consistently over the years, including this year). Every year, our church directory includes new names. We have seen subtractions. Every year, our directory takes a few names off. There have been times when our church has doubled or more than doubled in a short amount of time. And we have seen times of division, including recently, when the Holy Spirit divided a good family from our church to start a new church in a growing area.

Don’t be discouraged. Keep on pressing on and trust God! God wants to grow His churches, although His ways are not always the ways we might choose for ourselves.

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DO RIGHT – AND THEN LEAVE IT IN GOD’S HANDS

186There is an old and admittedly cynical saying that “no good deed goes unpunished.” Though it is certainly not absolute truth (many good deeds certainly are rewarded), it certainly feels true sometimes.

Joseph-in-the-pitSuch a thought may have entered Joseph’s mind during his 13 years of trials and hardships, from the Pit to Potiphar to Prison and finally to Pharaoh’s throne. Had Joseph done wrong by being the good son in a family of reprobates? No, but his good deeds led him to be betrayed by his brethren and sold into slavery.

Had Joseph done wrong when he steadfastly refused to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife? No – but his refusal led to a false charge of attempted rape and a prison sentence.

Did Joseph do wrong when he cared about the butler and sought to encourage him by interpreting his dream? No, but the butler forgot his promise for twenty four more months. Joseph may have scratched 728 more marks on his cell wall, one for each day from the time that the butler forgot him to the day that he was suddenly called to Pharaoh’s office. The next day, he was Vice Pharaoh over all Egypt!

David did right, and behaved prudently (1 Sam 18:14) – and yet was hated by jealous Saul, who even sought to have him murdered. Seven years of David’s life were spent in the wilderness, as a fugitive, simply because he had done right. Twice, he could have killed Saul and refused to do so. Doing right may have prolonged his situation – but God worked it out for the best in the end.

Jesus went about doing good – but people still hated Him Continue reading

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It’s More Fun To Give To The Grateful

teaching-gratitudeLuke 17:11-19 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. (12) And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: (13) And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. (14) And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. (15) And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, (16) And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. (17) And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? (18) There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. (19) And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

In this familiar story, the Lord was very gracious to heal this group of ten lepers, but was very disappointed when only one bothered to return and give thanks; the other nine went on their way, healed – but apparently ungrateful. All received the same blessing, but only one was a blessing back to the Lord Jesus through the return gift of gratitude.

Paul reminded us of what has been called “the forgotten beatitude” –  “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35). It is more blessed to be the giver than the receiver.

When I was a child, I looked forward to Christmas, primarily for what I hoped to receive. As an adult and a father, I look forward to Christmas primarily for the joy of watching my children receive their gifts. It is more blessed to be on the giving end. It is a real joy to see my kids enjoying their present – and I sure do like it when they give me a hug and say “thank you!”

However, when there is no gratitude rendered, much of the joy of giving is lost. Jesus should have received thanks from ten men, but only got a tithe of what He deserved – one man’s gratitude.

It’s more fun to give to those who express gratitude. To be sure, we should give whether people are grateful or not (Jesus DID heal the nine), but it is much more enjoyable when people express gratitude. It makes you want to give them more! Conversely, when people are not grateful, it makes us want to give them less!

Is there not a spiritual lesson here for us? God loads us daily with benefits – but do we give Him thanks? Are we grateful – and do we express it? The nine healed lepers may have felt gratitude for their sudden good fortune, but they did not express it to Jesus. Gratitude must be expressed personally, and not just on Thanksgiving Day as we rush to eat our turkey and dressing.

Do we rob God the Father of some of the blessing of giving to us when we do not give thanks daily and for all His blessings? Do we miss out on blessings simply because we are not more grateful? Only the one leper who returned gave glory to God and received the extra word of assurance – “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”

Gratitude is not just an attitude – it is a duty, an obligation, a sign of good character. It is something to be expressed. Do you say “Thank you?” Are you fun to bless?

Just a thought. Thank you for reading and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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