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!

The Gospel Family

 

AFrica 7

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

Africa 4

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

Africa 5

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.

Africa 6  Africa 3

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

Let Them Come to Me

kids salvation

This week my wife has written some extremely insightful, practical and helpful posts about the issue of children coming to Christ for salvation at an early age.  These writings would be extremely helpful for parents and anyone who works in children’s ministries.

Having received Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at the age of five, this is a subject very dear to my heart.

As a pastor, I have had the joy of seeing many children born again over the years.  How precious is a tender heart coming to Christ in simple faith, taking God at His Word.

Here are the links:

How to Tell If a Child Is Ready to Be Saved

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

What if Your Child Doubts Their Salvation

Preparing a Child’s Heart to Know Christ

Motion Songs, Scripture Memory & Joy-Filled Believers

kids_at_church

Last night in prayer meeting, we shared in a family-friendly service.  After singing a couple of gospel songs, one by request, we had the kids up front leading the singing of some good, old children’s songs, two of which had motions.  It was fun to look back at the adults who were doing the motions as well, especially on singing “Only a Boy Named David.”

After singing “Boys and Girls for Jesus” we took prayer requests for the unsaved.  How precious to hear these children and adults mention their loved ones, friends, and neighbors’ names.  We then broke up into small groups with adults and children praying out loud for the lost.  How sweet to hold a 4 year old boy in my lap as he prayed in his own precious way, and it was not a short prayer either.

When we gathered back together, we sang the old gospel song, “I Love to Tell the Story.”

I’ve challenged our congregation to memorize Ephesians 4:1-16 over the next two months.  Hence, we then worked on 4:1-3 as a family or in small groups.  The drill was to say 4:1-3 five times aloud in unison as a group.  Then, one person in each group would take the lead in saying the passage leaving out words for the rest of the group to fill in.  This was a blast!  The laughter and joy of memorizing Scripture was so cool!  Then some of folks stood and recited 4:1-3 which was followed by encouraging applause.

We then took Ephesians 4:1 and broke it down word-for-word learning the meaning and the application.  How cool to watch everyone search through Ephesians 1-3 to find what Paul meant when he said in 4:1 to walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called.  The kids did a great job with their answers straight from Scripture.

What a precious time we had as a church family in community last night.

The ice cream treat with my wife and the sunset afterwards was an added blessing, too!

From a pastor’s heart,

Dale

The Message of Good Friday

 

skull-hill-golgotha (2)
Golgotha, the Place of the Skull
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:6-11)

It’s About the Cross

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Want to know more about Christ’s death for you?

A Masada-Sized Fear!

israel-days-67-064

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.

israel-days-67-067

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 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)

The Greatest Tragedy

greatest-tragedy
slideshare.net

Almost every day, I scan through the headlines, Latest News and Watch Now sections of foxnews.com. Here are some of what made yesterday afternoon’s news:

  • An Execution: Hunt for criminal after sheriff’s deputy killed
  • At least 2 dead after magnitude-7.8 earthquake hits New Zealand
  • France remembers 130 killed in Paris attacks 1 year ago
  • Georgia prepares to execute man who killed ex-girlfriend 15 years ago
  • Pennsylvania inmate arrested in 2008 murder of New York teenager
  • 18-year-old charged with murder in road-rage beating
  • Father and son die in hiking accident near Northern California lake
  • Rocker Leon Russell dies in Nashville at 74
  • Four Americans killed by suicide bombing in Afghanistan

Wow! Deaths, killings, murders, . . . one tragedy after another.  The Word of God addresses these scenarios and gives us the root cause of them all.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man. (Matthew 15:19-20a)

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44)

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:1-4)

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a)

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27).

How sad to see an innocent life snuffed out because of a selfish, wicked heart.  How painful to see the effects of sin! How awful to watch men and women play out the defilement of their hearts.  And we say, “How tragic!”  My friend, none of things in the aforementioned news headlines rank as the greatest tragedy.  And before I go any further, I am not heartless nor belittling the agony or pain described in those headlines.  Nevertheless, the greatest tragedy occurs every day on earth when a man or woman dies in their sins, rejecting the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Who paid for their sins, and therefore slips into eternity never again having the opportunity to accept the free-pardon of sin through Christ.  In short, the greatest tragedy today is when someone dies and goes to hell . . . and they do so by their own choosing.  Jesus Christ came to earth, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins as our substitute, and rose from the tomb to prove He is Who He said He was and is, and . . . He did it all for you. No one needs to die in his sins and go to hell, a place reserved for Satan and his demons, because God so loved you, my friend, that He gave His only Son, the only one like Him, to die in your place so you would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

The greatest tragedy . . . an eternity in hell.

The greatest triumph . . . eternity in heaven.

If this post today has piqued your interest, has created within you a desire to know more, would you take 17 minutes to consider just Five Questions and their answers.

17 minutes vs. eternity?  Please take time to watch it now.

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

13315745_10156920906275693_9222308029701167350_n

Life is all about the grace of God.  We do not deserve anything except hell because of our sinful state.  But in His grace, God has provided salvation for all men (John 1:12; 3:16; Ephesians 2:1-4, 8-9; Titus 3:5).  Then, in and through His grace, He provides so many undeserving gifts everyday of our lives (John 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:4-7).  How easy it is to dwell on all the bad around us that we forget to focus on the grace of God which is transcendent over all (Romans 5:20).  So with that in mind, my goal for Friday’s blog is to share with you from a pastor’s heart some of the “grace coupons” in ministry that I’ve been able to “clip” over the past seven days. So here we go!

  1. Worshipping on Sunday at Boones Creek Bible Church! One of the many true blessings of a Sunday at BCBC is joining with our congregation as they sing.  With raised voices, uplifted hands and glowing countenances, praise is abundant!  Many Sunday mornings on my way to church I find myself saying, “I can hardly wait to sing with my brothers and sisters in Christ today!”   Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).
  2. Seeing ladies cry out in prayer, singing, and worship as they joined together for three hours in the presence of the Lord at BCBC. You can read a bit more about it on my wife’s blog post Friday Favorites.
  3. When I was an earlier teen, my dad pastored a church here in south Johnson City, TN. Words cannot describe what a grace blessing it is to be living and pastoring in the same area that has always been so special to me.  When we moved here from Bluefield, West Virginia, two men, Stacey Tester and Ralph Gouge, came from Johnson City to assist us.  They made a huge impression on me.  Stacey and Ralph have since gone on to Glory, but today, I have the privilege of participating in the funeral for Dixie Gouge, Ralph’s precious wife.  Furthermore, Ralph and Dixie’s daughter and three of their children are part of the BCBC family.  Also, I saw Ralph and Dixie’s son this week which was the first time since we moved away.  As we sat in the Gouge’s living room and reminisced about our time here and about my parents, I thought, “Lord, how good you are to me, and how good to be still connected to my dad’s ministry in such a blessed way!”
  4. Joy in ministry is often mixed with sadness and sorrow as even mentioned above. Yesterday I stood by the bedside of a dear man whose body is riddled with Alzheimer’s. His wife has faithfully stood by his side and cared for him with love and great compassion for several years.  With Bernice on one side and me on the other, we shared Psalm 23 and then sang several songs:  In the Sweet By and By, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, Heaven Is a Wonderful Place, Until Then, I Have Found a Hiding Place, and others.  As a pastor, I am so grateful for the opportunity to minister the balm of God’s Word and the blessed encouragement of song that gives encouragement for today and expectation for the future.  It is all by His grace!
  5. Finally, there’s the blessing of preaching and teaching the Word of God!! Currently, I am preaching through Revelation . . . the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  How timely; how sobering; how hope-filled!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ . . . . To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.  (Ephesians 1:3, 6)

#mondaymarriagematterspart4

Bike Ride
Continuing the journey of intimacy

Today I will end the week of posts with the last of six reasons why marriage matters (#mondaymarriagematters).

Marriage matters because of its unique intimacy.

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25).

The greatest relationship in all the world is found in the redemptive, justifying work of Jesus Christ on the cross that makes us, who were at one time enemies of God, now reconciled to God, and no longer at enmity with God but set apart to Him for eternity (Romans 3:9-31; 5:1-11; Colossians 1:20-22).  That relationship is offered to all men by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Peter 1:2-4).  The cross and resurrection proves that God the Father sent His Son to reconcile the world back to Himself to be restored to eternal fellowship (John 3:16).

There is another special relationship that cannot be duplicated on this planet in any other union except between what God has ordained between only a man and a woman.  That uniqueness is the intimacy found in a husband-wife relationship.  For intimacy to flourish in a marriage relationship to its highest level there must be integrity, trust, and openness.  Adam and Eve were completely at ease with each other at this highest level because at this point in the narrative there was no evil.  There was genuine, pure openness.  Even though evil abounds in our world and in our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), genuine believers in Christ have the power through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to experience blessed intimacy with God the Father and in marriage (John 14:16-23; 15:1-27; Romans 8:1-39; Ephesians 5:18-33).

Marriage matters every day of the week, month, year and your life.  As you grow in your intimacy with your spouse, you will be glad you took intimacy seriously.

Here’s my testimony to intimacy that I hope will encourage you: The Gift of 35 Years