Come On In!

Hospitality Quote

“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.”

Come on in!

 

I Surrender!

Paardeberg Mt. Retreat 1
Paardeberg Mt. Retreat, South Africa – 1st Evening of Camp

“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.

Africa 1
Traveling north to Mzuzu, Malawi

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!

Let Them Come to Me

kids salvation

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.

Here are the links:

How to Tell If a Child Is Ready to Be Saved

What’s Wrong with Waiting Until a Child Is Older to be Saved

What if Your Child Doubts Their Salvation

Preparing a Child’s Heart to Know Christ

Let’s Carterize!

wp-1463974026394.jpg 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. When you get together, you ask questions, you listen, and you share time in the Word and prayer.
  4. Be listening with all your heart as you look for ways to minister and really care.
  5. Invite visitors or repeat guests to your men or ladies’ ministries, small group Adult Bible Fellowship, camp retreats, etc. You have to be intentional.
  6. 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.
  7. 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)

I Met Jordan

Jordan

Living in the mountains of East Tennessee gives many reasons for rejoicing and thanksgiving! The scenery changes every day and every season through the myriad acts of God’s creative, sustaining, sovereign hands.  How often I find myself singing “How Great Thou Art,” and “How Great Is Our God!”

Yesterday while driving back from Asheville, NC, I had in my mind to stop along the creek near Rocky Fork State Park near Flag Pond, TN.  Major rains had descended upon us through the night so I knew the waterfalls would be awesome, and it would provide a peaceful place to sit and commune with my God in prayer.

The Lord had other plans for which I am oh so grateful.  When I turned onto the Old Asheville Highway, there was a bearded man with a full pack and hiking poles which immediately signified an AT thru-hiker.  Since I love to hike, especially on the Appalachian Trail, this was a great opportunity in many ways!  Upon offering him a ride, he threw his gear in the back of my car, and we headed for Erwin and Uncle Johnny’s.  What a special treat to listen to his recent weather-related stories as well as the back-story of his life.

The very best part was the joy of talking about eternal life, listening to his answers, caring for his needs and ministering to him Christ Who has finished the work of salvation for all sinners including Jordan and myself.  What a special privilege!!

Please pray for my new friend, Jordan, as he hikes the trail.

Meeting Jordan was the highlight of my day!!

 

Here are two links to his story and the reason for his AT journey:

Jordan’s Story

Jordan’s AT Thru-Hike

 

Here is a video link for you to learn how you can have a personal relationship with God and know for certain your sins are forgiven and that you have a home in Heaven forever.

The Gospel Message

May I Introduce You To . . . . .

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What is your purpose in life? Please answer before you read on.

Yesterday morning while waiting on my coffee to brew, I scrolled through Instagram and came across these words from Dr. Charles Stanley:

When He (God) saved you, He saved you to do what? To walk in relationship with Jesus Christ so that everybody who meets you meets Him.  Therefore, you have a definite purpose in your life for being saved besides going to heaven.

That middle sentence arrested my attention and churned in my mental mill all day long.

When I was a young boy on into my teen years, I traveled with my dad to many preacher’s meetings and Bible Conferences.  He always introduced me to as many preachers as was around him.  What a privilege to shake their hands, both men of renown and lesser known men, and to hear many of them preach.  Some of them even stayed in our home.  My life was and continues to be enriched by being around such men.

Just as my father would introduce me to those men, those of us who know Christ as our personal Lord and Savior have the greatest privilege and purpose, to introduce Jesus to those who meet us!  In all of life, it does not matter if others know us or remember us.  What matters is if they are introduced to Christ through us!  If when they meet us, they meet Jesus!

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20).

People will meet Jesus in us when . . .

  • When daily spend time reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on the Word (Joshua 1:8). You are what you think, so the Word must be in our mind (Proverbs 23:7)
  • When we have met with our God in prayer in the morning and live in the atmosphere of prayer throughout the day (Matthew 6:6-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  • When we love Him with all of our heart (Matthew 22:37-40). You talk about the ones you love such as your spouse, kids, or grandchildren.  What about the Lord?
  • When we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit’s number one responsibility is to point to Christ, so when we surrendered to the Spirit in us, Christ is magnified (Philippians 1:20).
  • When you choose to personally live for Christ alone (Philippians 1:21).
  • When we love others as Christ does (1 John 4:12).
  • When we verbally tell others about Christ in fulfilling our purpose of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • When you talk of Him in conversation, not to show off, but because He is your life (Colossians 1:27).

So, as you go about your day today, who will others meet . . . you or Christ?  Who is the most important?

Making Investments

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There she lay.  Her earthly labors were over.  Her bodily tent had been comfortably tucked inside a beautiful, stained wooden casket adorned with a regal spray of flowers.  Her days here were over, but her life in Heaven had only just begun for all eternity on Saturday (John 14:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:7-8).

As her pastor approached the podium, he read from Proverbs 31 and then described her life by two words, one of which was, investments.

An investment is “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”  This dear lady, 83 years old, had spent most of her making investments . . . into people.

She invested . . .

  • The gospel into lost souls of every walk of life not matter who they were, the color of their skin, or their lot in life.
  • Time and energy in prayer crying out to the Lord.
  • Time and effort in prayer crying out to the Lord for the salvation of her husband. God heard and answered her prayer!
  • The Word of God into her children, her grandchildren, and her Sunday School class by her teaching and her example.
  • In “throw aways,” people that others did not want to “touch.”
  • In her pastor by encouraging him and praying for him.

I am quickly reminded of what Jesus said as recorded in Mark 10:42-45, But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Jesus came, died on the cross, and rose from the tomb to make an eternal, soul-saving investment in any one who would receive Him (John 1:12).  Barbara Chandler, a devout follower of Christ, made investments in others for the cause of Christ to lead others to Christ because Christ lived in her (Colossians 1:27).

I never knew her in this life. No matter, even in death, she made an investment in me.

What are your plans in 2017 to make investments in people, to make a difference other’s lives, to make those eternal investments?  I believe it’s called laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21)!

And What’s My Excuse?

old-man-bed-300x197-472bc8572c06daa1c0c459c297779531

She has lovingly taken care of her husband since his dementia diagnosis in 2005.  Now he lies in a hospital bed at home in their beautifully decorated sun room with full-blown Alzheimer’s.  Demonstrating her marriage vows, she wipes his face, pats his head, speaks to him in terms of endearment, cleans up his bed, combs his hair, and listens for any signs of life.

Her home is beautifully attired with all the dressings for Christmas, but one stands out among all others.  Next to her beloved husband’s bed, she has prepared a second tree, “just for him, although he doesn’t even know it’s there.”

“His biological clock has not stopped working.  He wakes up nearly every morning at 5:00 a.m.”  She sleeps in the bedroom next to the sunroom so she can respond to his needs through the night.  “He will cough, but it’s not a real cough.  I think it’s just a ‘Hey, I’m awake cough,’ and I get up to go check on him.”

Sunday evening, my wife, another couple, and I stopped to sing Christmas carols to them.  She had the bar counter prepared with Christmas goodies and fourteen cups set out waiting to be filled with warm apple cider or hot chocolate.  In the midst of her trial, she had gone to great lengths to prepare for company.  I was saddened that she expected a “small crowd,” and it was only a very small crowd of four.

While visiting around the counter and enjoying the tasty treats, this dear lady said something that arrested my attention.  “Last week, I invited some of my friends here for a meal.  We had a house full.  These are folks from up on the mountain where I’m from.  I am concerned about one lady in particular.  I’m not sure she is saved.”

Wow!  I mean, wow!  Here’s a lady whose life is consumed with the care of her husband, and she intentionally prepared a large meal, invited guests to her home, and all for the purpose of sharing the gospel.  In the midst of caring for her born-again husband suffering from the awfulness of the sin-curse and will one day know no more pain or memory loss, she reaches out in compassion to those who will suffer for an eternity in hell, if they do not receive Christ as their personal Savior (John 1:12; 3:16-17).

Enough said.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

And of some have compassion, making a difference (Jude 22).

Target, Starbucks and Happy Holidays

 

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Wow!  Now that’s a troubling, profane trio!

Really?

I like shopping at Target. They have spacious aisles, a quiet atmosphere, good product selection, and usually decent prices.

I love Starbucks.  The coffee is outstanding, the conversation around the tables is engaging, the staff is usually friendly, and it’s a genuine coffee shop.

I love the holidays.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are tops in my book right under Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  And they are holidays filled with happiness and joy.

Now, I realize that my troubling, profane trio is a concern to thousands.  Then I read about Jesus in the following passages:

Matt. 9:10           And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house (Matthew’s), behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Luke 14:1             One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.

Jesus mixed and mingled among sinners, and as you read on in Luke 14, you see it was for the purpose of calling men and women to be His disciples.  His last command before ascending into Heaven was, Go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  Indeed, Jesus renounced sin, but He called sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

I am greatly disturbed by some of the decisions of Target, Starbucks, and the general pushing of Christ out of Christmas.  I must say something and stand against unrighteousness. Nevertheless, there is a divine call that supersedes all of this—Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).  I have that same divine command upon me as do all disciples of Jesus Christ.  We have what the people in Target, Starbucks, and the whole world need (John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 4:7).

Bottom line.  The greatest way to curtail sin, unrighteousness, and unholy living is the gospel.  As I say to our congregation so often, you do not go to the grocery story just to buy a gallon of milk.  You go with a heart for people, looking for the Lord to connect you with some precious soul that needs Him.

It is so wrong to condemn the world for living what they are, and then not sharing what they can be in Christ.

So, if your conscience does not condemn you, go ahead on over to Starbucks.  Get a cup of coffee, and don’t grumble about the price. Then, engage in conversation with someone to build a relationship that will lead to sharing the gospel that day or in the future.

As I have heard and repeated many times, the gospel changes everything.

Oh, and you’ll have a happy holidays, too.

 

“In other words what frees you to live radically for others in this world is the confidence that this world is not the main world.”