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

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.

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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!

My Greatest Heartache in Ministry

 

Africa Camp 1

For the past two weeks I have savored the awesome blessing of spending the first half of the month of July in Africa serving the Lord, seeing souls saved, and ministering together with dear brothers and sisters in Christ through the ministry of The Wilds Camps Abroad!  This trip to South Africa and Malawi was a definite “get-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone” trip.  Although I had made other mission trips, I had never visited a third-world country.

Since coming home, I have intentionally entered in my journal my “take-aways” from this journey.  One in particular stands out to me above all others.  I am ashamed to admit it, but I must say that before this trip, I had prayed, but I had not prayed so fervently, so frequently, so specifically, and as trustingly as I did while in Africa.

Without reservation, all that we experienced by the hand of the Lord was absolutely in direct response to prayer!  We watched God answer in so many ways, and we had a “front-row seat” to watch it happen for His glory and our good!!

Africa Camp 2

 

For instance, without going into great detail, after three days of training the nationals how to operate a teen camp, the first day arrived with great anticipation but a bit of fear of the unknown.  It’s 8:00 a.m.  Where are the campers? We looked out in the yard of the mission compound to see only one teen camper.  You read that correctly . . . one teen camper.  Undaunted but not knowing how to gather more teens, Dan, our leader make the absolute best decision.  He looked at all of the workers and said, “Let’s gather in small groups and PRAY for GOD to bring in campers.”  That’s exactly what we did.

As our group cried out to God for a manifestation of Jeremiah 33:3, for God to surprise us, He did exactly as He promised!

Within 30 minutes or less, the gates to the mission compound opened and a pick-up truck laden with a bunch of eager teens entered the grounds.  Moments later, the scene was replayed.  Eventually, we had 88 teens to begin our first day of camp!!  We saw God at work!! What a time of praise we had as we then saw some of those precious souls hear the gospel and respond to the call of salvation!!

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You may be puzzled as to why I have entitled my post “My Greatest Heartache in Ministry” when the past few paragraphs have been about God’s amazing work in my heart and the lives of others.  Quite frankly, I will say that my greatest heartache in ministry is the lack of prayer among God’s people . . . me included.

I’ve seen folks get up way early to be at church to go on some church fellowship trip.  I’ve seen believers pack out an auditorium or outdoor arena to hear their favorite singer or group and sometimes pay a hefty price for the ticket (Oh, and drive two hours to get there.) I’ve seen church members not miss a business meeting so they could vote their way.  And on and on I could go, but ask a group of believers to attend a prayer meeting, a prayer advance, or even pray, and . . . well, you know the rest of the story.

When are we as believers who have the very ear of our Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent God (Psalm 34:17), the blood-bought invitation by our Righteous Advocate and Great High Priest to enter into the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16: 1 John 2:1-2), and the Holy Spirit to intercede for us (Romans 8:26), when are we going to make prayer a blessed, expectant, humble, dependent, relational priority of our lives?

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-8)

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

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!

The Making of a Man: Adventurous Dave & Mike

Most men love adventure!  Whether it’s the quest to run and complete a 50K, to climb and repel a sheer rock wall, to soar through a canyon like a bird (Wingsuit – Base Jumping Video), or thread the Bonsai Pipeline and all with a GoPro camera, I’m sure each of your have your definition of adventure!

We had the privilege of hosting two men of adventure this past weekend at our local church.  One man, Dave, left a comfortable position in West Virginia to move his family without the promise of full financial support to a larger city, Raleigh, North Carolina, to start a church in the inner city near North Carolina State University.  The other man, Mike, left the comfortable confines of Florida, doing what he loved, and moved to southern Spain for several years.  While there, he learned the Spanish language and helped to plant churches while raising a family of four.  Seven years ago, he moved to the Basque country of northern Spain to an area steeped in tradition and a completely different language.  Once again, to help a church and serve in an already established ministry among the Basque people as well as other internationals.  Both of these men are just ordinary men who have given their lives to Christ, a life of adventure of faith and courage.  Trusting daily for the supply of God’s grace and watching the Lord always provide spiritually, mentally, socially, financially, and emotionally.

You want adventure?  Give your life as a disciple to completely follow Christ!  Jesus said as recorded in Luke 14:26-27, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”  A disciple of Christ . . .

  • Risks his life for Christ.
  • Walks by faith in Christ.
  • Lives by the Word of Christ.
  • Give his life to proclaim and pursue Christ.
  • Goes wherever Christ leads him to go.
  • Trusts his life to Christ for now and eternity.
  • Suffers and stands for the cause of Christ.
  • Learns of Christ “while sitting at his feet.”
  • Bears the cross and the reproach of Christ.
  • Serves all for the sake of Christ.
  • Willingly surrenders his family to Christ.
  • Give his all to Christ.
  • Lives for the day he will see Christ.
  • Prepares for the day when he will stand before Christ.

Now, men, that’s a life of adventure!  That’s a life filled with purpose! And your Servant Leader, Conqueror, Shepherd, King, Armor, and Captain of your salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, always leads you in His triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14)!!  And He records it all on His eternal “GoPro” in order to reward you one day at the greatest moment of your life outside of your personal salvation!

So today, if you are men who have been truly born again (John 1:14; 3:16; 14:6), then let’s join Dave and Mike and live a life of adventure with Christ!  The rush of base jumping, kayaking, running, or other extreme sports can be satisfying and fun, but it only last for a short while.  Adventure for Christ lasts a lifetime, is every day, and has eternal rewards! Are you ready for some real adventure?

Better Be Ready!

A winter storm is coming!  Frigid temps, deep snow and ice are on their way.  Quick, get to the store!!  Gotta buy milk and bread! (Personally, I’ve never eaten a milk and bread sandwich, but when the snow flies, I guess it might be good.)  Nevertheless, I am intrigued at how glued we are to the forecast when we receive a winter storm warning.  That announcement has a controlling affect upon businesses, homes, churches, government, schools, highway crews and many others. Look at Facebook!  Try to shop in the grocery store.

How many times in your life have you heard, “There’s a winter storm warning in effect for . . . ,” or something similar?  And when you do, what is your response to such a predicted event?  What kind of planning begins to take place in your life?  Do you shrug your shoulders, run to the grocery story, look up in the skies, check your phone updates, begin to think of “Plan B,” and/or complain?

Seriously, there are two events that should grab our attention every day of our lives.  We were reminded of these in our “I Love Missions” Conference this past weekend.

1)  The promised return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

2)  The greatest tragedy of this life—a lost soul going to hell (Hebrews 9:27)

This most blessed event and the most tragic event could occur today!!!  What’s your response?  Are you moved more by the prediction of a weather forecast or the promises in God’s Word?  Something more eventful than a winter storm is coming.  Better be ready!

If you have never received Christ as your personal Savior and Lord; if you are not sure that heaven is your home, please go to the following link: The Exchange Message. Scroll down the page and watch the video entitled, “You Can Have a Relationship with God.”

If you are interested in what Scripture says about death and hell, please check out this brief biblical study found here: What Does the Bible Say About Hell

Friday’s Findings

MTR11 Spain Deck View

Usually on Fridays, I share some links that I have found in the past days that I believe would be of some interest to you.  Today, I want to share some different findings. The Lord graciously and unexpectantly provided for Denise and me to travel to Spain on December 2nd to be the guest speakers at the Missionary Teen Retreat 11, Aierdi Farmhouse near Zegama.

While we were in the Basque country of Spain, we found . . .

  • Faithful servant missionaries who have given their lives to reach the Basque people for Christ. They labor for the Lord day and night at the 300 plus year old farmhouse, at Lighthouse Baptist Church, in Bible studies, so often entertaining folks in their homes, teaching English, leading intensive discipleship seminars, living in community among the Basque folk, lodging and providing for mission teams and retreats, creating ministry opportunities through the week, and all by the grace of God.  Not once did I hear them grumble or gripe . . .    (Philippians 1:3-5, 27; 2:13-14)
  • The next generation of missionary kids taking up the mantle from grandparents and parents to reach these dear Basque people, to carry on the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
  • The Lord relocating one missionary family back to the States that has served in the Basque country for several years and providing another family to take their place before any of them knew this would take place. As we heard from Andy Bonikowsky, “God likes to surprise us” (Jeremiah 33:3, which you do not know).
  • Nearly 30 young people who want to be used for the Lord today and in the future. If their hearts were not already tender to the Lord, they all certainly became that way as the retreat ended.  They are normal believers looking for answers from the Lord through His Word for life and want to finish well in preparation for the Bema (2 Corinthians 5:9-11)
  • Once again that the Word works! (Hebrews 4:12)
  • Teens who love to sing! (Psalm 98:1; Colossians 3:16)
  • Many villages that need a gospel witness. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; 16:6-10)
  • That preaching through a translator (“interrupter”) has its challenges!
  • Coffee to be super strong stuff!! (I really liked it.)
  • Few stop signs and many, many roundabouts.
  • Narrow roads and fast drivers.
  • Sheep everywhere, even being herded up the road you’re travelling in, so you just wait.
  • Beautiful waterfalls, steep mountains, narrow canyons, and the fingerprint of God everywhere!
  • Quaint little villages steeped in tradition.
  • Thousands of people who need the Lord!
  • God has warmed our hearts more and more for these people and this region of the country.

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