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.”

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

The focus of my blog posts this week has been on our Grace Giving Missions Sunday at BCBC.  Truth is, every day of our life is a focus on the grace of God because by grace we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9) and by grace we operate in life (2 Corinthians 9:8).  Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve.  Grace is the principle upon which God operates in our life. Therefore, these “coupons” we clip are gifts of His grace to undeserving people who stand in Christ alone, redeemed, justified, and forgiven (Romans 3-5).

Coupon #1:  Denise, My Wife

I certainly do not deserve such a godly, Word-filled, hard-working, caring, loving, lady of prayer and faith as my wife!  For 35 years we have been working by grace on our marriage.  One of the things that she has seen fit to do through the years is to make our house a home.  A man cannot do that.  Only a woman with her touch can make your home a place where you are accepted, love, and . . . fed as the picture shows.  How cool to walk in the house this week and see fresh homemade French bread on the counter.  She knows me so well.  In moments she said, “You want a piece?  Get some butter.”  Wow!  What a grace blessing Denise is to my life in so many ways!!

Coupon #2: Souls Coming to Christ

How awesome to hear the testimony of teens coming to Christ for salvation!!  How awesome to hear when anyone comes to faith and repentance for salvation through Christ alone (Five Questions), but to hear about precious teens in their public schools coming to Christ is super-awesome!!  My friend, there are no schools, work-places, government, or countries closed to the gospel (Romans 1:16).  My, my, my what a thrill to hear of fifteen students getting saved in one school!  Wow!! Glory!!!!

Coupon #3:  Grace Investments

When you reach my age, you are able to look back over your life and rejoice in the people God put in your life to make spiritual and ministry life investments!  Yesterday, we were able to have lunch with two faithful, glowing, caring servants of the Lord who made those investments in us while we were serving in Indiana from 1986-2000.  One of the awesome blessings to our hearts is that these two servants have not really retired.  Dr. Taylor is no longer the senior pastor of Colonial Hills Baptist Church, Indianapolis, IN, but he teaches a seniors Sunday School class and supports his pastor and the ministry that he loves so dearly.  His dear wife, Joan, continues to serve alongside him in the class just as she has done for many years.  These folks are investors, champions, encouragers, and trophies of God’s grace!

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)

Joining God In His Work With His Resources

 

missions

This week, I have been writing primarily to the congregation of Boones Creek Bible Church.  One of the most blessed aspects of this ministry is joining God in His work through missions!  Every Sunday we are brought up to date about two of our supported missionaries through our Adopt-A-Missionary Ministry.  Each missionary family is “adopted” by one of our church families.  How stirring to hear what God is up around the world as these families give their reports via pictures, videos, praise notes, and prayer requests.  Friend, the most exciting event on the planet happens every time a lost soul repents and receives Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. (If you have never been born again, please take time to watch this: Five Questions)

This Sunday is Grace Giving Missions Sunday.  This is a special day as look to the Lord for His direction in how He will provide for His mission’s work through His people.  BCBC Family, would you consider the questions below after reading the following passages:  Matthew 6:25-33; 28:18-20; Mark 12:41-44; Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 and Philippians 4:16-19.

  • What part will you play in mission’s giving this year at Boones Creek Bible Church so we as a body of believers can be obedient to the Great Commission?
  • Have you been asking God to reveal to you the amount that He would have you trust Him for each month?
  • How big is your God?
  • What is the value of a soul to you and your family?
  • What do you need to set aside that is temporal so you can give for the eternal?
  • What does your wallet, your checkbook say about your heart for missions, for the lost?
  • What will your children learn about giving to missions from your example?
  • How much celebrating via giving will you do in 2017?

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 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 9:7-8)

His Heartbeat

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It was one of those moments!!  I’m seated on the front row of our church auditorium Sunday morning as we watched an Operation Christmas Child video.  Within seconds I was captivated.  There I viewed precious children wearing huge smiles of joy as they received and opened their shoe boxes!  Greater still was the testimonies of children who had received Christ as their personal Lord and Savior as a result of this initiative.  Then I realized that these children were not only gripping my heart, but it was touching the hearts of many around me.  Our church is buzzing with excitement this month as we participate for the first time in OCC!!  Missions is the heartbeat of God! Look at the cross and empty tomb.

Prior to the OCC presentation, one our church members shared the good news of God’s working in another missionary endeavor in Salt Lake City, Utah.  What a thrill to see and hear the testimonies of children and adults declaring their desire to be publicly identified with Christ in baptism; announcing their decision to follow Christ and be His disciple!  One adult, newly saved, walked in off the street, asked to be baptized, and the tank was filled during the morning service so this “Ethiopian treasurer” (Acts 8:26-38) could be obedient to the Lord!!  Missions is the heartbeat of God! Look at the cross and empty tomb.

What is missions? In its most direct and simple form, missions is Matthew 28:19-20, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you . . . .  Furthermore, Psalm 96: 3 says, Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!  Also, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Missions is the heartbeat of God!  Look at the cross and empty tomb.

How wonderfully blessed to be a part of a church that is involved in the heartbeat of God!  This month, our focus is on Grace Giving Missions, the means whereby we support these and other missionary endeavors each year.  My challenge today in this post is really directed to our church family.  As you seek the Lord in prayer this week for what He would have you give each month for missions, would you ask yourself this question, “What is my heartbeat for missions?”  Before you answer that question, take a long look at the cross (Matthew 27:27-54).  Then stand for a while at the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1-10).  Do you have God’s heartbeat for missions?  Matthew 16:26 says, For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  The Lord placed more value on a man’s soul than the wealth of the world.

I believe those moments like Sunday morning in church are a result of your heart beating like God’s heart because missions is the heartbeat of God!

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

Looking back over this past week, there are so many grace blessings that my heart is overflowing.

Andrew, Dale and Mike


Last Friday, I had the privilege of participating in the funeral, and on Saturday, the burial committal service for a precious lady, Dixie Gouge. I wrote about it in last week’s post.  Another grace blessing from this event was serving together with two other pastors.  Mike Garland was baptized as a young man by father when Dad pastored Forest View Bible Church, Johnson City, TN, of which Ralph and Dixie Gouge were members.  Mike is also a nephew of the Gouge’s.  The other pastor is my son-in-law, Andrew, who is our assistant pastor at BCBC.  What a joy to stand between these two men that have special ties to my heart!  God is so good to let you clip such blessed grace coupons! 

Two hams!


What a special treat to minister to our neighborhood, especially the family next door to us. Their two precious children come to our home every week for Bible club.  They are our adopted “grandkids” and are such a blessing to our hearts.  Here we are having some silly fun time!

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Mr. D doing what Mr.D does best!!

Pioneer Children’s Club, Wednesday nights: How grateful to be in the midst of people who love children and demonstrate a passion to see them be more than just good kids; better yet, godly kids.  Even better is the passion of Mr. D who wants to see these precious children and their parents come to Christ for salvation!  He is faithfully out knocking on doors and doing bus visitation on Tuesdays in preparation for Wednesday nights!

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Apples of Gold Decor

Apples of Gold Ladies Mentoring Ministry: Last Saturday, we hosted twenty people at our home for the AOG Celebration Dinner. My wife had every decorated so beautifully.  She and her helpers prepared delicious soups, salad and desserts. What a special blessing it was to eat outside, and then to be gathered around the fire pit sharing testimonies and singing songs under a starlit sky.  God is so good!

Last Day to Go with the Gospel

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This was in the subject line of an email that showed up in my account last week sent by an evangelical children’s ministry.  Immediately I thought, what if today was the very last day to share the gospel?  What effect would it have upon me?  What would change about my day?  What would be different about my decisions? Who would I want to talk to about Christ?  Then I realized, today could be the last day for me here on earth.  The Rapture could occur today or the Lord could call me Home.

You know, I think that if we really, really believed that each day we lived was the very last day for us here on earth “to go with the gospel,” our motives, attitude and goals would be different.  The gospel would have a profound, immediate effect upon us.

  • We would live separated unto the gospel (Romans 1:1).
  • We would not be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16).
  • We would long for souls to be saved by the gospel (Romans 10:1)
  • We would make it our aim to proclaim the gospel (Romans 15:20)
  • We would not want to hinder the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:12)
  • We would pray for boldness to share the gospel (Ephesians 6:18-19)
  • We would endure hardship for the gospel (Philippians 1:14)

So, what will be different about your day today as well as your weekend based on the truth of the gospel and the promise of Christ’s imminent return (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)?

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27)

To the People in the Pews: Love Works

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There are so many things to praise God for in looking back over yesterday at Boones Creek Bible Church!  One of which was the official beginning of the Love Works initiative!  Through loving God with all our heart and our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39), we want to reach the world around us for the cause of Christ.  With the Great Commission as our authority (Matthew 28:18-20) and Jesus Christ our example (Mark 10:45), we desire to accomplish the following goals:

  • Express the love of God through works of kindness and compassion (Matthew 9: 36-38; 25:40; James 1:27; Jude 22)
  • Share the Gospel of Christ with as many people as possible (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8)
  • Impact our community as a body of Christ (Matthew 5:16)

In the days and months to come, we will be fulfilling these goals in feeding the poor, serving others in the public schools, public offices, restaurants, and college campuses, going door-to-door, serving through our Sunday School classes, basketball tournament, community clean-up,  etc.   The response of our people was so very encouraging today!! Thanks for all your suggestions as well!

A great illustration from Scripture as to how love works is found in the account of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).  We as a body of believers will do as Jesus said, “Go and do likewise” (10:37). Love works, and it all begins in earnest next Sunday in the community around our church!!

To the People in the Pews

As a follow up to yesterday’s messages from Philippians 2:3-4, consider and answer the following:

Quick Review

SS: Unless we live in Christ-centered unity, our gospel testimony is of no effect.

  1. The gospel is effective when we are not selfish (2:3a)
  2. The gospel is effective when we are not conceited (2:3b)
  3. The gospel is effective when we are humble (2:3c)
  4. The gospel is effective when we are focused on others (2:3d-4)

Questions for Application:

  1. List 25 ways you are selfish. How do these areas you listed hinder your gospel witness?  How do they hinder the gospel witness at BCBC?  At work?  At school?  In recreation?

 

  1. As you prepare for your day, what is uppermost in your mind as you choose your clothes, your activities, your goals, your plans—what people think of you or what they learn of Christ from you?

 

  1. How have your pursued Christ this morning? What did He say to you through His Word?  Remember, we do not pursue humility.  We pursue Christ is the definition of humility in bodily form and character.  As we pursue knowing Him, meditating on Him, and learning His Word, humility becomes a part of our life.

 

  1. What individuals will be the focus for prayer and witness today? Will you be ready for a complete stranger that God may send your way?  Remember the word, “look.”

 

  1. What did God say to you at the end of the sermon? What did you put into sentence form?  How will that truth be fleshed out in your life today?

 

Let’s keeping growing and changing!  Be intentional for the gospel today!  And remember, Love Works!!

The Making of a Man

Last Tuesday’s blog was the first entry in the weekly series entitled, “The Making of a Man.”  As I said in that blog post, January 6, my heart’s desire is to see us be genuine, Spirit-filled, Christlike, servant leaders . . . men of God.  Obviously, to do so, we MUST be in the Word of God on a daily basis reading the Word and letting it read us.  Also, I mentioned that oft-repeated statement, “Leaders are readers.”  So, in today’s post, I want to share some book titles that have impacted me in my relationship with Christ, my wife, my children, my ministry and life in general.  Many of these books can still be purchased in book form, or as many of us do today, you can get the Kindle edition.  Men, let’s read the Bible first, and then let’s read other good books so we can be made a man of God!

Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes

“The Christian leader’s vision of God makes all the difference in his life” (p.163).  I have read this book several times and have even used it with deacons and men’s meetings.

Disciplines – Kindle Edition

 

The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, Hans Finzel

“Top-flight leaders really aren’t born, they learn by trial and error.” (p.18)

“My greatest fear is that our best days were our past days.  I loathe the thought that we should fade into irrelevance” (p.71).

Top Ten Mistakes – Kindle Edition

 

The Masculine Mandate:  God’s Calling to Men, Richard D. Phillips

“It is virtually impossible to find a man greatly used by God who is not strongly devoted to prayer.” (p. 39)

“God intends for man to have a [wife] who bears God’s image along with man, and who with man can look upward to God and live for Him.” (p. 58)

Chapter Five, “Man as Shepherd-Lord,” is an excellent read.

Masculine Mandate – Kindle Edition

 

Power Through Prayer, E.M. Bounds

Here’s a little book that every man of God must read!!  A classic.

Power Through Prayer – Kindle Edition

 

There are many, many others, but these are just a few.  I’ll share more in later posts.  Men, let’s take the challenge to read, to share, to grow, and to make a difference for Christ wherever we live!

To the People in the Pews

What an awesome day the Lord gave us yesterday as we gathered to worship our great God!  There are many things to mention, but three things stand out in context.  Our 2015 theme at Boones Creek Bible Church is “Love Works.”  The whole goal is doing more than talking about reaching people for Christ.  We are being intentional about investing our lives in tangible ways to reach a lost world for Jesus Christ through every ministry, home, and person connected with BCBC. Through a conference I attended last summer in California and the subsequent study by all of our adult Sunday School classes of the book Out of Commission, the Lord has so challenged us to “hit the streets.”  Like a song I heard years ago that asks some penetrating questions,

“How can we reach a world we never touch?

How can we show them Christ if we never show them love?

Just to say we care will never be enough . . .

How can we reach a world we never touch?”

So, our goal yesterday was to begin laying the groundwork for where we are headed this year.  I preached from Philippians 2:1 and 1 John 3:16-18 used a quote from the book in both sermons found on page 215, “We are surrounded by needs.  We live in neighborhoods and communities desperate to see the love of God. And what is our response?”  Then I asked the congregation to personally answer the question, “What is my response?”

Here’s the three things that happened yesterday with all of this as a backdrop:

  1. When I gave the invitation at the end of the morning sermon, several came forward to pray for lost souls, to respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading in their lives, and for anyone who needed to receive Christ. Out steps this lady that I had met for the first time before the service began.  As she came forward, two of our ladies were walking with her.  Betty had stepped out at the invitation to make a public profession of her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  You see, during the Christmas break, these same two ladies had visited with her, gave her the plan of salvation, and she trusted Christ alone as her Savior and Lord!  What was the response of these two ladies?—Go and tell others about Jesus.  “How can we reach a world we never touch?”
  2. For years, I have prayed on and off that the Lord would raise up someone in our church who had a burden to use our church van to bring folks to hear about Christ. The Lord has heard my cry and my heart’s desire.  Words cannot express the joy in my heart to see that van leave the parking lot today and see young and old being brought to church.  By the way, one of those was Betty, mentioned above.  What was the response of this dear man who drove that van?—Go into the streets of our town and compel them to come.  “How can we reach a world we never touch?”
  3. At the conclusion of my message last night from 1 John, I put the quote and question on the power point one more time. The focus was on them thinking through what is their honest response.  After small groups met to pray for the lost and for boldness to reach people this week, I said, “When you witness for Christ this week, let me know about it that I may rejoice with you.  Send me an email, call me, or shoot me a text; just let me know!”  Around 7:45 p.m., I received a text from a church member that said, “Gave a tract to the self-serve cashier at the grocery store” and then a smiley face was added to her text!  Wow!  What was the response of this dear lady who handed out a gospel tract?—I must obey.  “How can we reach a world we never touch?”

I wonder, what will your response be this week, each day, to reach a world desperate to know the love of God?  May I offer a few suggestions?

  • Take a loaf of bread to your next door neighbor as an act of love and kindness.
  • Invite folks to your house for coffee and dessert.
  • Take a baby gift to the folks down the street celebrating the birth of their child.
  • Walk through the ICU waiting room, introduce yourself, and ask if you can pray with them as a gift of love and compassion.
  • Do some project for someone that lives near you or works with you as an act of genuine love.
  • Fix a meal and deliver it as a gift of love.

“How can we reach a world we never touch?”