While preparing to record my weekly radio broadcast, the Lord led me to this illustration and used it to speak a needed word of exhortation to my own heart. Hence, I share it below in hopes it will encourage you, especially pastors and their flock.
When he was appointed as the pastor of a church in Cambridge, England, in 1783, Charles Simeon was delighted. The people of the church did not share his joy. Many of the prominent members of the church opposed his convictions on reaching the lost with the gospel. To show their displeasure they locked their pew boxes during the service and left them empty so that those who came to hear Simeon preach had to stand or sit in the aisles. Eventually God began to work, and Simeon’s ministry had a powerful influence on the nation of England and the world through his efforts to encourage missionary work.
During the dark days of opposition Simeon wrote: “In this state of things I saw no remedy but faith and patience…. It was painful indeed to see the church, with the exception of the aisles, almost forsaken; but I thought that if God would only give a double blessing to the congregation that did attend, there would on the whole be as much good done as if the congregation were doubled and the blessing limited to only half the amount. This comforted me many, many times, when without such a reflection, I should have sunk under my burden.”
Opposition does not mean that we are doing things wrong—often it is evidence that we are doing things right. If we allow ourselves to be deterred from doing anything unless we have complete approval, it is certain that we will never accomplish anything of value. Rather than being discouraged by opposition, we should take comfort in God’s faithfulness and keep on doing what is right.
Stretching out his hand and with tears in his eyes, he said, “Soon this hand will touch the hand of my Jesus.”
These words were spoken last Saturday by a dear man of God who has given his life to faithfully proclaim and live out the excellencies of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor Bud Parker has been diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor that is affecting his mobility and vision. As I sat by his side in his humble mountain home, the affects of cancer were readily seen, but the grace of God was much more manifest. It didn’t take long to realize I was seated in the presence of a man who is ready to go Home to Glory!
There were many more times of rejoicing than notes of sorrow as we conversed. During his lengthy stay in the hospital, the Lord enabled him to share the gospel with many, and three precious souls came to salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). We talked of the ministry joys of past years, the privilege of preaching the Word of God, the joy of mentoring so many men in the ministry, as well as rejoicing in all the folks who had come by to visit.
With his precious wife, Mildred, seated across the room, he looked at me and then her and said, “I am ready to go to heaven, but I don’t want to leave my bride of 58 years. The other night, the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid. She was My bride before she became your bride. She is the apple of my eye’.”
Especially at a time like this, the Word of God is the very best comfort, assurance, and hope. While reading 1 Peter 1:1-8, Pastor Parker’s eyes would glisten and then fill with tears. Some of the passages he quoted along with me as best he could. At one point, he raised his hand to rejoice!
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Near the end of our visit, I noticed that his wife, two of his daughters and other family members were on the front porch. I invited them to gather in the living room, and we sang a medley of songs about heaven. My, what a glorious time we had as we lifted our voices and hands in praise to our great God! Indeed, what a day it will be when our Jesus we will see!!
Watching the grace of God in its total sufficiency from my front row seat was an honor and a blessed encouragement! This dear man of God is living out the words of Tom Hayes’ song, New Grace.
All of grace is my story All the way from earth to glory, Since by grace He lifted me from sin and woe; Living grace He has extended As on Him my heart depended, And He’ll give new grace when it’s my time to go.
CHORUS: Grace not yet discovered, Grace not yet uncovered, Grace from His bountiful store; Grace to cross the river, And grace to face forever, There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.
VERSE 2: There’s been grace for every trial, There’s been grace for every mile, There’s been grace sufficient from His vast supply; Grace to make my heart more tender, Grace to love and pray for sinners, But there’ll be new grace when it’s my time to die.
CHORUS: Grace not yet discovered, Grace not yet uncovered, Grace from His bountiful store; Grace to cross the river, And grace to face forever, There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.
In October 2018, the pastor of one of China’s best-known underground churches asked this of his congregation: had they successfully spread the gospel throughout their city? “If tomorrow morning [our church] suddenly disappeared from the city . . . , if each of us vanished into thin air, would this city be any different? Would anyone miss us?” Leaning over his pulpit and pausing to let the question weigh on his audience. he said, “I don’t know.” (The Guardian, January 13, 2019)
The persecution in China continues and the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ is being tested. So much so, that the aforementioned pastor is now in detention with his wife.
My heart in writing this post is not to just simply move on in reference to these believer’s plight, but I too was challenged by this pastor’s question. If tomorrow morning Boones Creek Bible Church no longer existed, its doors were closed by the authorities, would the Tri-Cities be any different? Have we spread the gospel around our four county area?
Only God knows the full influence of Christ we have made upon our area in sixty plus years. Nevertheless, what affect am I, are we, having on our neighborhoods for the cause of Christ? At our work? In our schools? How are we using our homes for discipleship? Are we living out the gospel as well as sharing the gospel? Are we making a difference for eternity?
For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 ESV)
As the last of the children got off the van and headed to their apartment homes, I got back into our church van with tears in my eyes. Vacation Bible School is over for 2019.
God, in His incredible grace, gave us an awesome week! Grace enabled a young boy to be born again. Grace gave tired, faithful workers the ability to love, serve, and be energized every night. Grace overcame the flesh and led our workers to be unified around the gospel. Grace overwhelmed us with answers to prayer. Grace provided wisdom for the workers to overcome obstacles. Grace produced compassion for all kids of every race. God’s incredible grace was on display every night!
My tears, though, were mostly for these kids who rode the van. Their world is one of drugs, sin, selfishness, abuse, alcohol, and no hope. They will not be under the sound of biblical teaching every night next week. They will be allowed to roam in the night. They will have to fight to survive.
We will seek to follow up with these kids in the days to come. We will pray for a miracle of God’s grace to break the chains of sin in the hearts of their parents and in that apartment complex. We will trust in God’s incredible grace to do the miraculous for His glory!
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Praying with tears that soon they will be tears of rejoicing because of God’s incredible grace!
This is an awesome time of the year! The apex of history is the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection from the tomb (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 26:57-28:10; 1 Corinthians 15). This event sets Jesus Christ and Christianity apart from ALL other religions around the world.
How important that our children understand the truth about Christ and Easter. There is no problem with enjoying eggs, candy, bunnies, and baskets, but our younger generation must know the truth, and Christ, Who is Truth.
“How in the world could I carry on a conversation with folks from India? I don’t even like to talk.”
This was the transparent admission of a lady who had recently hosted a family in her home from a totally different land, speech, and culture. As she shared her story, she quickly admitted that the evening was one of rich blessings! During their meal together and discussion around the table, she and her husband learned of God’s work in a far off land; His answers to prayer; His working in the hearts of lost souls; His provision of peace, power, and protection; His encouragements to these precious servants of the Lord even in the most difficult of times. She was more than glad she had stepped out of her comfort zone. Her invitation to “Come!” set the stage for some “unexpectedly happy results.”
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality (Romans 12:13).
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9).
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2).
In the Hebrews passage, the writer is not advocating hospitality on the off chance that one might happen to receive an angel as a guest but rather because God is pleased when believers are hospitable. Sometimes unexpectedly happy results follow acts of hospitality. It was highly esteemed in the ancient world and was certainly very important for Christians. Accommodations at inns was expensive, and in any case inns had a bad reputation. But as Christian preachers traveled around, believers gave them lodging and so facilitated their mission. Without hospitality in Christian homes, the spread of the faith would have been much more difficult. (The Expositors Bible Commentary, p.146)
You see, when you invite folks into your home, it’s not you or your house they need to see; it’s Jesus. His invitation to you and everyone is always, “Come” (Matthew 11:28-30; 14:29; 19:14; Luke 6:47). Therefore, in following Christ, you, too, say to others, “Come.” That invitation opens up another opportunity to share Christ and to live out the gospel. Remember, Christ is the initiator in the invitation to come; therefore, you follow His lead and be the initiator in inviting others.
Have you recently taken the opportunity to host someone in your home? Have you prayed about it? Are you willing to trust in the grace of God to help you experience the joy of hospitality? How about the next guest speaker or missionary who’s coming to your church? (You want to really encourage the heart of your pastor? Look at the church calendar to see when the next preacher or missionary will be at your local church. Weeks in advance, tell your pastor you are more than glad to host them for a meal and/or provide their lodging!) What about the family that’s been visiting your church for the past couple of Sundays? Thought about having your neighbor over for a cup of coffee?
Don’t be looking for an angel, but do remember “God is pleased when believers are hospitable.”
“How would you like to go to Africa for 16 days and serve with CampsAbroad in South Africa and Malawi?”
“Do what? Are you kidding me? Wow! How cool would that be? Wow!”
My heart started racing a bit, my mind going from hither and yon.
After some explanation about the trip, some info about travelling to a third-world country, and the dates, I said I would pray about it, but I already knew I might as well be packing my bags.
Of course, I said yes. (How interesting that those sixteen days were completely empty on my calendar, which is rare. Also, the initial call came on the first day of our evangelism training conference at the church I pastor.)
As I considered all we had talked about, I must admit there was a bit of fear . . . fear of the unknown. Where would we be sleeping? What would we eat? How would we travel? How long would our flights be? Could I be gone from Denise for 16 days? Dan had travelled to Malawi four years ago, but we were headed north to be with folks neither of us knew. Questions upon questions, and . . . they all centered around me.
Then one morning, the Lord led me to Luke 18:29-30,
So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
No more questions. Truth is, when you are a follower of Christ living for eternity with eternal values and for God’s glory, there are no questions, fears, worries, doubts, just a “Yes, Lord; I surrender.”
Surrender to the will of God is the best choice . . . always. As for God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30).
Are you willing to leave all for Christ? Remember, when you do, the present and eternal gain is perfect. You will never regret following Christ!
This week my wife has written some extremely insightful, practical and helpful posts about the issue of children coming to Christ for salvation at an early age. These writings would be extremely helpful for parents and anyone who works in children’s ministries.
Having received Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at the age of five, this is a subject very dear to my heart.
As a pastor, I have had the joy of seeing many children born again over the years. How precious is a tender heart coming to Christ in simple faith, taking God at His Word.
How would you respond if you heard this statement about your church “I would never be accepted at __________Church because I could not break through the clique.”
For years as a pastor, one thing I have pushed for so much is that our church be really friendly. Without sounding arrogant or haughty, I believe we are an extremely friendly church. When you walk through the front door, you will be warmly greeted and then by many others.
So, why would such a statement be made?
I’ll answer it this way: We must do a better job of “Carterizing” others!
Rod and Hope Carter have been married for 70 years and charter members of BCBC for 60 years. Their health has failed them greatly, so they are not able to do as they once did.
For years, I have watched Rod “campout” in the church foyer just looking for visitors, especially young singles and/or young couples as well as others. As soon as they entered the building, he was getting acquainted with them. His greeting was only the beginning of what I am calling here, “Carterizing.” He would invite them to his house for dinner or out to a restaurant after the morning service and would do the same in the evening. He made sure some other BCBC folks were invited to join the group. He wanted folks to go to the next level of relationship and communication. He wanted those guests to know he cared; that they needed to become a part of the BCBC family of believers. The bottom line is, he went beyond just a greeting. He was willing to get involved in their lives. I can call the roll of those who would testify right here!
How do you Carterize?
You come to church expecting to meet visitors, sit with them during the service, and have your meal planned and prepared so you can invite them to your home. If it is not a visitor, it is someone who has been attending for a period of time, yet you haven’t gotten to know them.
When you plan your weekly calendar, you build in an evening to have guests in your home or meet them out for a meal or ice cream or time at the park.
When you get together, you ask questions, you listen, and you share time in the Word and prayer.
Be listening with all your heart as you look for ways to minister and really care.
Invite visitors or repeat guests to your men or ladies’ ministries, small group Adult Bible Fellowship, camp retreats, etc. You have to be intentional.
When at church, do not gravitate to the folks who make you comfortable. You reserve your personal conversations for a later time. You are there to minister to others like Jesus did.
Make your guests believe they are the most important people on the planet.
You see, getting involved in people’s lives takes planning, preparation, prayer and perspiration. Instead of coming to church and just being friendly, you must “Carterize!”
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47)
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)