Over the past ten days, my wife and I have enjoyed many blessings of ministry of which here are ten. They are shared here for God’s glory and appreciation for His kindness to us in these days of such sin and sorrow!
1. Officiating and directing a wedding! Wow! How special to see two lives brought together in the will of God! The wedding was Christ-exalting and so very romantic! I love weddings!! (Side note: In respect of the newlyweds, I will not post any pics until they do.)
2. Providing a place to rest in our home for two days for a fellow servant in ministry! Quiet walks, prayer, porch time, mountain drive, sharing scripture, etc.!!
3. In 2014, my wife and I had the joy of leading the Missionary Teen Retreat in the Basque region of Spain. We have kept up with several who are now young adults. Daniel and Jessica celebrated their first anniversary with a return trip to Gatlinburg, TN. Their anniversary celebration included worshipping with us in both Sunday gatherings plus a meal and afternoon spent at our home. What a special treat! I call that “clipping grace coupons”!!
4. Preaching the Hebrews 12:12-19 passage in the morning gathering at BCBC!! What a solemn and joy-filled honor it is to prepare and preach the Word of God verse-by-verse!! The Word works!! (2 Timothy 3:16; 4:2)
5. Leading and teaching the Biblical Counseling Elective on Sunday mornings!! “The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.”
6. Follow-up visitation of church visitors. Made to feel so at home with these folks!!
7. Having coffee with a young man from our church who just finished his first year of college. My heart was greatly encouraged to see how he has grown both spiritually and as a young man!!
8. Discipleship with another man in our congregation. Met for lunch and read together through a chapter of Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes. Iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17).
9. Small Group gathering on Thursday night! What can I say?!?! A highlight of every week! Singing, prayer, transparent testimonies, Bible study, fellowship around the bar counter and in the living room, laughter, tears, bearing burdens, and rejoicing in answered prayer!!
10. Attending a high school graduation of a young man that has attended BCBC through his teen years. Another opportunity to encourage a young man to follow Christ, not his heart!!
That’s only 10! There were so many more!! Oh! How marvelous is the goodness and grace of God!! And, I got to share in all of these with my wife, except for #8.
It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it. (Proverbs 10:22)
In my child/teen years attending school, it was important that you wore green on March 17th. Why? It had nothing to do with St. Patrick, the man. It was to avoid a classmate pinching you due to not wearing the color of the day! If you did not wear something green, be sure you were in for a long day!!
But really, who was St. Patrick?
Here’s an article from The Gospel Coalition written by Mike Pettingill that will shed some very interesting light on this man.
Today most people know St. Patrick for green beer, banishing snakes from Ireland, using shamrocks to teach the Trinity, or his walking stick growing into a living tree. Indeed, none of these legends has anything to do with the real Patrick.
However, the factual accounts of Patrick, missionary to Ireland, are even more compelling than the folklore. Telling the true story of Patrick provides an inspiring lesson in God’s grace and mercy.
While other 1,500-year-old characters in history are difficult to research because too few writings have survived time, Patrick is hard to study because so much has been written about him. The bulk of the writings on Patrick are lore, fiction, and embellishment. In uncovering the real Patrick we must sift through ten fictional accounts of his life to find one factual work.
From Slave to Evangelist As a teenager Patrick was kidnapped, taken from his home in southern Britain, and sold into slavery on the island of Ireland. During his six years as a slave he converted to Christianity and earned a reputation as a fervent evangelist. In the dark of the night Patrick escaped his bonds and fled Ireland. Following a long journey home he entered theological training and full-time service to the Lord. God spoke to Patrick in his dreams and told him that he would return to Ireland and serve as a missionary to the people who had kept him in servitude.
In AD 432, 25 years after fleeing Ireland, Patrick returned to the place of his bondage. He did not return with malice in his heart, but as a missionary eager to convert the Irish. Patrick served in regions of Ireland where outsiders had never traveled. While roaming through Ireland he preached to pagans and also instructed Christian believers. Patrick trained Irish helpers and ordained native clergy. He was bringing a new way of life to a violent, war-oriented pagan culture. His work was both groundbreaking and Christ-honoring.
“Daily I expect to be murdered or betrayed or reduced to slavery if the occasion arises,” Patrick wrote while serving in Ireland. “But I fear nothing, because of the promises of heaven.”
Many brutal kings and warlords felt threatened by Patrick’s work. In order to obtain the favor of local leaders and to gain safe passage, Patrick paid penance, or bribes, to authorities. He used the rulers to gain access to their lands just as they used Patrick to gain wealth and favor with Christians. Of the bribes he paid, Patrick proclaimed, “I do not regret this nor do I regard it as enough. I am paying out still and I shall pay out more.”
Missionary Ahead of His Time In fifth-century Ireland women were a commodity. Selling a daughter or arranging a politically strategic marriage was common and advantageous to a family. Patrick upset the social order by teaching women they had a choice in Christ. As God converted these women to Christianity, some became full-time servants of Christ in the face of strong family opposition. Patrick told women they could be “virgins for Christ” by remaining chaste. This newfound control was appealing to many women, but it angered many men who believed Patrick was taking away their prized possessions.
At the time many scholars regarded Ireland as the end of the earth, or at least the edge of the inhabitable portion of earth. The collapsing Roman Empire supported many beliefs that civilized society was drawing to a close. Politicians and philosophers viewed Ireland as barbaric and untamable. Many Christians did not believe the Irish were worthy of being saved. At that point in history, Patrick truly served as a pioneering missionary to a forgotten people.
Patrick advocated learning among Christians. He promoted the ascetic life and monasticism. The Irish culture did not place great value on literacy or education. Patrick, however, promoted studying the Scriptures as well as reading books written by fathers of the faith.
Recovering the True Patrick Patrick entered an Ireland full of paganism and idol worship. But just a few short decades after Patrick arrived, a healthy, Christ-honoring church was thriving. The Irish church was so strong that in the centuries to come it would send missionaries to evangelize much of continental Europe. Patrick’s legacy lives on through the countless spiritual grandchildren he left to continue his work.
Patrick lived in a way that brought honor to God. His devotion and resolute obedience offer examples for all followers of Christ. Patrick stood in the face of great challenges and did not falter. His service, his life, and his unwavering commitment to spreading the gospel of Christ are as commendable today as they were in the fifth century.
We as Christians have allowed the modern, secular customs of St. Patrick’s Day to steal away one of the greatest missionaries in Christian history and reduce his memory to leprechauns, green beer, and fictional tales. Let’s take back our beloved servant of Christ and share God’s glory achieved during the life of Patrick the missionary to Ireland. Let’s share the true legacy of this great Christian evangelist.
What a great day to share the gospel as the Lord opens the doors and . . . go ahead, wear green! No need to be fearful of the pinch! Share the good news!!
You know that when you are stepping forward for Christ, you open yourself for attack from our enemy, the devil.
Sunday evening we were blessed at BCBC to host some humble, faithful missionaries who left their secular, stable profession while in their forties to give the rest of their lives to reaching lost souls for Christ. Now in their late sixties, they are still moving forward, even asking the Lord to give them twenty more years for Him!
He shared from his recent personal study of the life of Joshua some truths that had impacted his heart. We listened to a man who knows His God, walks by faith, and is a living testimony of the power of the gospel as seen in 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10.
He began by saying, “You won’t feel the pressure of the devil against you if you are not on the front line!”
His first principle was, “Life is hard, but God is faithful.” Joshua was nearing 90 years of age when he became the leader of Israel. The LORD spoke the following to Joshua as recorded in Joshua 1:5-10, No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua needed to hear these words because hardship and trial would come; life is hard. In the face of those trials, these truths from the LORD would help him remain faithful. They would encourage him “to be passionate, unflinching, and moving forward with much intensity. The most important thing that God wants to accomplish through you may still be in the future. And Joshua was nearly 90.”
His second principle was, “God is with us no matter where we are or what we are going through.” He went on to remind us that “God may be the source of that hardship. God is always at work in our lives. Nothing happens to us by chance.” [It is very likely that Joshua had served in Pharoah’s army before the Exodus. Foreigners were common in the army of Egypt. Moses considered him sufficiently battle-tested to appoint him leader of the Israelite defense against the attack of the Amalekites at Rephidim (Exod 17:8-16). Since Joshua was apparently known to Moses, he may already have been in charge of organizing the undisciplined crowd of slaves who had escaped from Egypt into orderly marching columns. Bible Gateway]
His third principle was, “Don’t forget the history of God’s faithfulness to you.” Joshua could look back to the attack of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16), and he would be reminded of such faithfulness. “We need to rehearse in our own ears the history of God’s faithfulness.”
He said in closing that we need to recall these truths when, as a friend of his once said, “we are tribulated.”
“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!
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
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.
Different languages and accents. Various colors of skin. Diverse worship styles. Different college backgrounds. Varied cultural differences.
That’s what I saw in South Africa and Malawi among the natives, the missionaries, the transplants and the travelers.
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.
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!!
“How would you like to go to Africa for 16 days and serve with CampsAbroad in South Africa and Malawi?”
“Do what? Are you kidding me? Wow! How cool would that be? Wow!”
My heart started racing a bit, my mind going from hither and yon.
After some explanation about the trip, some info about travelling to a third-world country, and the dates, I said I would pray about it, but I already knew I might as well be packing my bags.
Of course, I said yes. (How interesting that those sixteen days were completely empty on my calendar, which is rare. Also, the initial call came on the first day of our evangelism training conference at the church I pastor.)
As I considered all we had talked about, I must admit there was a bit of fear . . . fear of the unknown. Where would we be sleeping? What would we eat? How would we travel? How long would our flights be? Could I be gone from Denise for 16 days? Dan had travelled to Malawi four years ago, but we were headed north to be with folks neither of us knew. Questions upon questions, and . . . they all centered around me.
Then one morning, the Lord led me to Luke 18:29-30,
So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
No more questions. Truth is, when you are a follower of Christ living for eternity with eternal values and for God’s glory, there are no questions, fears, worries, doubts, just a “Yes, Lord; I surrender.”
Surrender to the will of God is the best choice . . . always. As for God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30).
Are you willing to leave all for Christ? Remember, when you do, the present and eternal gain is perfect. You will never regret following Christ!
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!!
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!!
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, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 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.8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-8)
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)
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!