Sandwiches & Stories

“You used a Black & Decker drill to perform surgery on a man in jail?”  That was my response a few years ago as an OB-GYN doctor serving in medical missions in Africa told her story while we were gathered around our dining room table.  Even better was the fact that this man later came to believe in Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior (John 3:16; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-13).

This story was one of probably a thousand or more in my lifetime! Growing up in a pastor’s home provided many opportunities for evangelists, college presidents, pastors, and missionaries to put their feet under our kitchen table and/or sleep in our guest bedroom.

I can remember as a grade school aged boy sitting at the kitchen table after an evening church service listening to all kinds of ministry stories.  Those memories are also a part of my junior and senior high school days as well as college.

With eyes wide open and ears open even wider, those narratives told me that life was full of blessings, fun, hardships, trials, laughter, questions, burdens, answers to prayer, rich in Bible knowledge and application, and tears to name a few.  But no doubt about it, those stories from real Christians revealed a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ and an unshakable faith in an awesome, faithful, promise-keeping God!

Interesting enough, I did not learn until long after I had left home that it was my dad who invited most of those folks home.  My mom really did not like duty in the kitchen.  That was just not her “cup-of-tea.”  I share this to encourage you.  Our meals were usually very simple.  The table was not elaborately set.  Mom used what she had, and in our early days at home, that was not much.

You see, it was not the food at the table I remember or how the table was decorated that has left an indelible impression upon me.  Most assuredly, it was all those hours in the presence of simple servants of the Lord.

How grateful I am that many, many times, my folks would let me stay up on a school night way past bedtime to sit under the influence of such godly men and women.  The eternal influence in their eyes was always more important than the temporal influence.

May I encourage you to host missionaries, evangelists, preachers, and other servants of the Lord in your home?  How cool it is to have a faithful missionary from a far-away land while eating dessert share accounts of God’s grace, protection, and answers to prayer!  What an impact it is to listen to a preacher tell about a lost soul receiving Christ as his Savior or expound the Word while eating a grilled cheese sandwich!  Oh, how wonderful to hear a college president while enjoying a bowl of corn chowder share how the Lord provided the school’s needs at just the right time!

Parents, your children need to experience this!  They need to experience it often.

Prepare the guest room, fix some sandwiches and invite a servant of the Lord into your home.  By the way, be sure to open your ears, too!

Sunday Worship in Mzuzu

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One the blessings of our journey to Africa was the opportunity to keep up my journal entries. These writings are very dear to me.  They recount my walk with Christ, my relationship with Denise, the grace blessings of every life as well as many, many other things that my mind would not recall.

Here’s a partial entry from Sunday, July 9

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What a glorious day!! Sunday worship at Charity Baptist Church was a huge blessing.

  • God gave grace to preach the first service.
  • The congregational singing was powerful; watching Daniel and Mark Anton lead the congregation is fun to watch; then other men get come up to lead a song which they call a special; the choir of young folk was awesome.
  • The offering is received by folks going forward and putting their offering in a basket while the congregation sings.
  • Matt preached a powerful sermon from Ruth 2 on the subject of grace.
  • The service ended in a very touching way. Pastor Daniel had the whole USA mission team line up across the front.  Then he said, “I want our church to come up and greet you and place a love gift in the basket.  It won’t buy the team a car but it will buy you a Coke.  When you all drink it, think of us and pray for us.”  Wow!  These poor folks gave out of their poverty.  As we sang, hugged and swayed, what a special time it was!!!
  • Another brother stood and shared what a blessing it was to have blacks and whites worshiping together in the unity of Christ.

Love Offering

Youth Choir

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From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Gospel Family

 

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Different languages and accents.  Various colors of skin.  Diverse worship styles. Different college backgrounds.  Varied cultural differences.

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That’s what I saw in South Africa and Malawi among the natives, the missionaries, the transplants and the travelers.

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Whether it was on a plane, in a mission compound, in a Sunday morning service, at a café for breakfast, in the middle of a bunch of teens, or gathered at a camp, I saw something that touched my heart in some very special ways.  It was a foretaste of Revelation 5:8-9 which reads,

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,

And to open its seals;

For You were slain,

And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

For sixteen days I had the blessed privilege to experience the multi-faceted family of God all radically changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ; people from varying tribes and tongues and people and nations.

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The family of God needs no introductions; our spirit bears witness with each other (Romans 8:16).

The family of God doesn’t see race but grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The family of God loves one another (John 13:35).

The family of God honors one another (Romans 12:10).

The family of God rejoices and weeps together (Romans 12:15).

The family of God serves one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

The family of God encourages each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Why? Because of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!! (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 3:9).  What an awesome family around the world from every tribe, tongue, people and nation that will one day gather around the Throne in Heaven!!

From a Pastor’s Heart,

dale

Clippin’ Grace Coupons

The complete life of a believer in Christ is all about grace.  We deserve an eternity in hell because we are sinners under the wrath of God (Romans 3:9-30; Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are totally unrighteous (Romans 3:10).  But when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), God accepts us in Christ by His grace (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-9).  From that point on, we live by God’s grace, we are sustained by God’s grace, and we are empowered to live for Him by grace as His disciple (Matthew 4:19; Luke 14:26-27, 33).

So, whenever I write this post about clippin’ grace coupons, it is my way of recognizing the truth of Ephesians 2:7, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  God is so very good to us, and sometimes like Andy Griffith would say, “Extreee good!”

Here’s a few grace  coupons God has allowed me to clip in the past two weeks.

Grace Coupon #1:  Running toward the sunrise at the beach

Denise and I love to get up early on vacation and watch the awesome display of God’s handiwork!  She walks, and I run.  What a time we have together!

Grace Coupon #2:  Seeing the elk at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountain Park

What a special treat to hike this area as well as Big Creek with a dear friend and fellow hiker, Rick Stoner!

Grace Coupon #3:  The Beauty of Cataloochee

Grace Coupon #4:  Singing in the Sun 2017

What a special treat to attend two nights and hear such groups as Mark Trammell Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, The Talleys, Gold City, and Triumphant Quartet.  Better than the singing was the preaching of Evangelist C.T. Townsend and Dr. Herb Reavis and seeing many souls come to Christ!!  A special thank you to the Life FM for the great seats.

An unexpected blessing on the second night was to sit right behind a young girl from back home, her husband and their daughter.  Then, to find out that a dear friend of mine and his wife were a section over from us!  He and I have shouted, praised the Lord, wept, and rejoiced at many Southern Gospel concerts.

 

Grace Coupon #5:  Worshiping With Our Daughter & Son-in-Law, Whitney & Paul

I Could Punch Him in the Mouth!

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Recently while listening to an angry man, those words were uttered and then ended with a bit of a smile as if it made his indignation acceptable.

Folks, we live in an angry world!  And you are asking me, “Did you just climb out from under a rock?!?!”

Well, truth is, in the past few weeks I have heard and seen the fruit that comes from that root.  Anger, wrath, bitterness from an evil heart destroys.

What does the Bible say about anger?  Please take time to read these passages and let them sink into your heart.

  • Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
  • Proverbs 14:29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
  • Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
  • Proverbs 16:32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
  • Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
  • Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
  • Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
  • Ephesians 4:26-27, 31 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
  • Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
  • James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Anger rooted in a selfish, sinful, deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) always produces fruit that damages and often destroys lives, homes, churches, marriages, and the world around you.

If you are person given to anger, please soak your soul in these truths from God’s Word.  Repent, be reconciled, and memorize these passages.  Better to think on truth that sets you free than on the offense that will eat you up inside and cause your heart to be outwardly exposed.

To be angry about trifles is mean and childish; to rage and be furious is brutish; and to maintain perpetual wrath is akin to the practice and temper of devils; but to prevent and suppress rising resentment is wise and glorious, is manly and divine. (Isaac Watts)

Go ahead . . . punch him in the mouth.  Then, who’s the fool?

A Masada-Sized Fear!

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As we pulled up into the parking lot, there it was . . . the main transportation to Masada . . . a cable car suspended in mid-air!  Folks, my take on this is, man made it and therefore it can break.  There was no way I could ride hanging from what to me was a thin thread with thousands of pounds suspended from it.  When the moment came for our group to board, the crowd was so large that I slipped away.  No one missed me until they were on their way up the mountain.

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For five years, I have been dogged by the fear of knowing I would probably “return to the scene of the crime” someday.  Also, Craig, who organizes these trips, has threatened me non-stop ever since!

So, Monday morning, January 16, after a dip in the Dead Sea, it was off for a stop at En-gedi to view where David hid from King Saul (1 Samuel 23:29), and then . . . Masada.  I wanted to be like David and hide again, but I knew I needed to face this fear by God’s grace.

Same story as five years ago.  The bus ascended the parking lot and there in my view was that cable car.  As we entered the complex and received our tickets, I was praying and so were others.  Craig came to me and said, “I want you get in the middle the cable car, face the mountain, and keep your eyes on me.  I promise you, it will be okay.”  I did exactly as he said.  My knees were a bit rubbery, but it wasn’t long until we were at the summit.  The doors opened, and by grace, I had conquered another fear in my life!  My! What views and history I had missed by slipping away five years ago.

As I walked around on that massive rock plateau of what was once Herod’s fortress (Masada), I thought about Craig’s words to me.  They are absolutely spot-on for dealing with any and all of our fears.

  1. Get in the middle of the cable car. Whatever that fear is in your life, you need to get right into the middle of it and meet it head on!  Don’t make excuses for it!  Don’t try to make it what it is not.
  2. Face the mountain. Yes, your fear(s) may be a mountain to you, but instead of running from it, taking some false remedy to overcome it, or living in that fear the rest of your life, face that mountain!
  3. Keep your eyes on me. This final command is the most important.  Hebrews 12:2 says, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God.

The word looking means “to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something.”  This is not a quick glance but a fixed look on something.  For all the fears of life, you must fixed your eyes on Christ.

That fixed look begins at salvation as you see Christ alone as the only Savior (1 Timothy 4:10, We have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers), Redeemer (Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 1:18), Reconciler (Colossians 1:20-21), Rescuer (Colossians 1:13), and Justifier (Romans 3:24; 5;1) for sinful man.  He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.  This is proven by the fact that He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, the place of authority.  There is only one way to Heaven and that is through the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  Jesus is not A way; He is the ONLY WAY.  You must turn from all other religions and self-helps to Jesus Christ alone.

Then once you are truly born again, you live the rest of your life with your eyes fixed on Christ through faith in His Word because now Christ is always for you (Romans 8:31-39). Peter stepped out of the boat in faith, but he began to sink when he took his eyes off of Christ (Matthew 14:22-33).  The Lord’s words to Peter sum up all of life after salvation when He said, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid (14:27). Our Savior never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).  He is our Shepherd Who leads us even in the valley of the shadow of death, but we are to fear no evil, because He is with us (Psalm 23:4).

What do you fear?  Let these words sink into your heart.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. . . . For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:10, 13)

By the way, all the way up the mountain, Craig talked to me.  In the midst of your fear, rather than listen to yourself and others as well as the distractions of your fears, listen to Christ.  Read and meditate on His Word that addresses all the fears of life.

So, get in the middle of the cable car; face the mountain; and keep your eyes fixed on Christ!

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in the Ministry

I do not deserve anything.  I am unrighteous (Romans 3:10) and a sinner (Romans 3:23).  How blessed (Ephesians 1:3) to be able to say with confidence, “I know I am saved by the grace of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9), to be able to sing “Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone,” (Colossians 3:15-17), and to rejoice in the assurance of heaven (John 14:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Another grace gift that I do not deserve is the blessed privilege of marriage.  That blessing is increased by virtue of God placing us in ministry together where we serve side-by-side. As I pastor, my wife is my faithful ministry companion who prays for me, disciples ladies and children, and makes our house a welcoming place to bear one another’s burdens.  In the midst of grace-enabled ministry, we both understand that our first ministry is to each other.

Therefore, in what is usually a busy time of the year, we begin the holiday season by visiting a local coffee shop.  There we pull out our calendars and schedule dates that help us set aside time to continue to build our marriage so we are fit to minister to others.  Hence, we are preparing to clip more grace coupons.

Yesterday was one of those dates and it included a trip to our favorite restaurant in Pigeon Forge, TN, The Old Mill Pottery Cafe and Grille.  We like it so much that while attending the Couples Advance in November, we enjoyed their scrumptious food three-days-in-a- row.  (We got others hooked on it, too!)

Then we spent the rest of the afternoon and first part of the evening in one of our top five favorite places . . . Dollywood.  How amazing to walk along hand-in-hand in the midst of a gazillion Christmas lights, sit through three shows that unashamedly gave the gospel, and to be entertained and welcomed in a wholesome way!  Oh, by the way, the coffee and warm, fresh cinnamon roll was good, too!  Brrrr, it was cold outside!!

Truth is, there’s no one I’d rather share these grace gifts of God with than my wife.  Sometimes, we are just like two kids again just soaking up the moment!

We returned home refreshed, blessed, closer to each other, and ready to clip more grace coupons as we minister to others today and through this Christmas season!  God is good!  Grace is sufficient!

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)

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

Every week ministry is filled and enriched by God’s grace.  No matter what kind of week it has been, grace has been sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) and overflowing (2 Corinthians 9:8).  Here’s another peek into some of the grace coupons I clipped in recent days.

COUPON #1:  COUPLES’ ADVANCE

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Several years ago, I attended my first Men’s Prayer Advance, and I have never been the same since.  The MPA is the highlight conference for me each year.  Last week, my wife and I attended our first Couples Advance.  The fact that is was held in Pigeon Forge, TN, made the event that much sweeter!  How we love East Tennessee and the Smokies!  More importantly, how wonderful to come apart for three days and intentionally work on our marriage by the grace of God.  This past June we celebrated our 35th Anniversary, and we both love the gift of marriage and love being married!  Seriously, sometimes I feel like we are still on our honeymoon.  But, because we are two sinners saved by grace (Ephesians 2:1-9) and accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6), we need the searchlight of God’s Word to show where we must grow and change to be more like Christ (Ephesians 5:18-33). Of course, the Word works (Hebrews 4:12)!  What a blessing to get honest with God and each other.  The marriage triangle says it all:

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COUPON #2:  PREACHING THROUGH REVELATION


He that can toy with his ministry and count it to be like a trade, or like any other profession, was never called of God. But he that has a charge pressing on his heart, and a woe ringing in his ear, and preaches as though he heard the cried of hell behind him, and saw his God looking down on him–oh, how that man entreats the Lord that his hearers may not hear in vain! – Charles Spurgeon

Preparing to preach from this awesome book every Sunday takes considerable time, prayer, and digging.  To mine out the truths and deliver them without a sensational spin as well as be true to the text is a chore but a delightful one. I often think of a line from the movie, Sheffey, when he preaches his first sermon and runs out of the church in fear.  Shed McCombs, in the face of Sheffey’s protests and not willing to let him quit, declares, “Tis a fearful thing to preach the Word of God!”  Indeed it is, but I must say, how grateful to be grace-enabled to preach Revelation in these last days!

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in the Ministry

Seeing Young Men Continue:  As was mentioned earlier in the week, Boones Creek Bible Church celebrated its 60th Anniversary last Sunday. What a special treat to have two young men in particular attend the service who once were integral servants in this ministry.

For seven years, Todd Jones, led our congregational singing and choir and taught Sunday School.  Every weekend, he and later on, his wife and family, would drive up from Greenville, SC, to serve with us.  Today, they are back in Greenville where he serves on the music faculty of Bob Jones University.

Along the same time, the Lord led Adam Smalley to our congregation as he completed his medical school training at East Tennessee State University.  While here, he taught Sunday School, used his musical talents, served as a Timothy member with the deacons and grew to be a major part of this ministry.  Now, he and his family are living in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving at Colonial Hills Baptist Church as a deacon and small group leader.

How honored to have these young men and their families back at BCBC for our special day.  May their tribe increase!

Seeing Older Men Continue:  Dr. Bill Hall has been an evangelist for 61 years.  He has been a part of my life for as long as I’ve been alive, and I’m 57.  He has held meetings in churches my father pastored as well as for me, and here at BCBC.  In 1963, although in evangelism, he started a church in nearby Greeneville, TN.  His evangelism challenge to us this past Sunday was what we needed to hear and heed!  How grateful I am to still have a man of his character, passion, and wisdom as my friend and co-laborer in the gospel ministry.  He’s in his early eighties, but his heart beats for Christ like a teen!  Check out his Personal Message.

Seeing the Gospel Continue:  Wednesday evening, we hosted “Trunk or Treat” in our gym.  What a thrill to see the gospel opportunities that came our way via children and parents alike! Lives are changed by the gospel, and we live each day by the gospel!!  The power of the gospel continues because the tomb is empty, and it motivates us to continue!

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)