Let’s Carterize!

wp-1463974026394.jpg How would you respond if you heard this statement about your church  “I would never be accepted at __________Church because I could not break through the clique.” 

For years as a pastor, one thing I have pushed for so much is that our church be really friendly.  Without sounding arrogant or haughty, I believe we are an extremely friendly church. When you walk through the front door, you will be warmly greeted and then by many others.

So, why would such a statement be made?

I’ll answer it this way:  We must do a better job of “Carterizing” others!

Rod and Hope Carter have been married for 70 years and charter members of BCBC for 60 years.  Their health has failed them greatly, so they are not able to do as they once did.

For years, I have watched Rod “campout” in the church foyer just looking for visitors, especially young singles and/or young couples as well as others.  As soon as they entered the building, he was getting acquainted with them.  His greeting was only the beginning of what I am calling here, “Carterizing.”  He would invite them to his house for dinner or out to a restaurant after the morning service and would do the same in the evening.  He made sure some other BCBC folks were invited to join the group.  He wanted folks to go to the next level of relationship and communication.  He wanted those guests to know he cared; that they needed to become a part of the BCBC family of believers.  The bottom line is, he went beyond just a greeting. He was willing to get involved in their lives.  I can call the roll of those who would testify right here!

How do you Carterize?

  1. You come to church expecting to meet visitors, sit with them during the service, and have your meal planned and prepared so you can invite them to your home. If it is not a visitor, it is someone who has been attending for a period of time, yet you haven’t gotten to know them.
  2. When you plan your weekly calendar, you build in an evening to have guests in your home or meet them out for a meal or ice cream or time at the park.
  3. When you get together, you ask questions, you listen, and you share time in the Word and prayer.
  4. Be listening with all your heart as you look for ways to minister and really care.
  5. Invite visitors or repeat guests to your men or ladies’ ministries, small group Adult Bible Fellowship, camp retreats, etc. You have to be intentional.
  6. When at church, do not gravitate to the folks who make you comfortable. You reserve your personal conversations for a later time.  You are there to minister to others like Jesus did.
  7. Make your guests believe they are the most important people on the planet.

You see, getting involved in people’s lives takes planning, preparation, prayer and perspiration.  Instead of coming to church and just being friendly, you must “Carterize!”

Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:41-47)

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)

A Parent’s Best Gift

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Let’s go back to the Sears Christmas Wish Book I mentioned yesterday.  So many memories..

Here’s a few of them:

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Wow! A banana seat bicycle!  Pop a wheelie!
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Can you taste it?
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This was serious right here!!

How many times I would pour over the pages of the catalog, mark what I wanted, then proceed to my mom and dad and say, “You know what I want for Christmas?”  And how many times did I hear them say, “We can’t afford that.”

What could they afford?  The same thing that every parent can afford—time.

When I survey Scripture, I see God’s instructions to parents taking time not money.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

  • To train, discipline (which is teaching, instructing, and correcting) and nurturing takes time.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

  • Often children get into trouble because they are just crying out for someone to pay them some attention. They want to know where you will draw the line.  It takes time to teach what is right, what is wrong, what to do to stay right, and what will happen if we choose to go our own way.

Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

  • Please note again the meaning of discipline and the need to take time to be diligent to fulfill the complete picture of discipline/discipleship. If a child does need a spanking, it should not be a quick strike out of anger, but a time of loving correction and training.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9        And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

  • Once again, you cannot teach, train and disciple on the run. It is your lifestyle.  It takes time.

Parents, your greatest investment on this earth will be your children.  They don’t need you to buy them things to make up for where you have failed.  They need your love, attention, character-training, and fun times.  They need you to teach them the Word of God.  They need to hear how you came to salvation.  They need you to pray with them.  They need you to make spiritual applications of life with them throughout the day.  They need you to teach them how to work, how to eat, how to be hospitable, how to serve others, how to talk, how to be a blessing to others, how to make their beds, how to get up and make the day count, how to cook, how to do life in general by the grace of God.

They need you.  They need you every day.

Parents, this Christmas, rather than spending so much money, spend a lot of your time.  Give your children something that will eclipse that banana-seat bicycle.  Give them the best gift—your time; give them you.

Target, Starbucks and Happy Holidays

 

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Wow!  Now that’s a troubling, profane trio!

Really?

I like shopping at Target. They have spacious aisles, a quiet atmosphere, good product selection, and usually decent prices.

I love Starbucks.  The coffee is outstanding, the conversation around the tables is engaging, the staff is usually friendly, and it’s a genuine coffee shop.

I love the holidays.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are tops in my book right under Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  And they are holidays filled with happiness and joy.

Now, I realize that my troubling, profane trio is a concern to thousands.  Then I read about Jesus in the following passages:

Matt. 9:10           And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house (Matthew’s), behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Luke 14:1             One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.

Jesus mixed and mingled among sinners, and as you read on in Luke 14, you see it was for the purpose of calling men and women to be His disciples.  His last command before ascending into Heaven was, Go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  Indeed, Jesus renounced sin, but He called sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

I am greatly disturbed by some of the decisions of Target, Starbucks, and the general pushing of Christ out of Christmas.  I must say something and stand against unrighteousness. Nevertheless, there is a divine call that supersedes all of this—Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).  I have that same divine command upon me as do all disciples of Jesus Christ.  We have what the people in Target, Starbucks, and the whole world need (John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 4:7).

Bottom line.  The greatest way to curtail sin, unrighteousness, and unholy living is the gospel.  As I say to our congregation so often, you do not go to the grocery story just to buy a gallon of milk.  You go with a heart for people, looking for the Lord to connect you with some precious soul that needs Him.

It is so wrong to condemn the world for living what they are, and then not sharing what they can be in Christ.

So, if your conscience does not condemn you, go ahead on over to Starbucks.  Get a cup of coffee, and don’t grumble about the price. Then, engage in conversation with someone to build a relationship that will lead to sharing the gospel that day or in the future.

As I have heard and repeated many times, the gospel changes everything.

Oh, and you’ll have a happy holidays, too.

 

“In other words what frees you to live radically for others in this world is the confidence that this world is not the main world.”

Your Doorbell is Ringing!

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It happens almost every Thursday at 4:00 in the afternoon!  Our doorbell rings and standing there are our two precious neighbor children.  If the weather is warm, they are peering in through the glass to see if anyone is coming to let them in.  Their anticipation for Bible Club is infectious!  For almost two years, these two have made their trek across our yard to learn God’s Word!  They have become like grandchildren to us!

I wish you could have seen them yesterday helping my wife bake cookies which served as their object lesson.  Each of them had their own bowl to mix their ingredients as well as their own set of gooey chocolate chip cookies on their own cooking sheet.  As I watched this process, here’s what I saw:

  • Cam loves to eat and who doesn’t like to indulge in a dollop of cookie dough!! So there he was, hanging over the mixing bowl, eagerly looking back-and-forth at my wife, and asking several times, “Can I lick that?!?!”  What a sight!  And, when he had his first opportunity to eat a baked cookie, he didn’t even wait to see if my wife had the milk poured.  With gusto he asked, “Can I have some milk, please?  I wanna dunk my cookie!”  And dunk he did!
  • Cal is of a different personality, of course, but in her polite way, she too was eager to partake of those warm morsels. She also dunked her cookie in her milk but in such a girlie fashion.  How precious to listen to her pray and thank the Lord for their snack.

What makes all of this so wonderfully joyful?  Without a doubt, the pure act of discipleship that takes place in our living room, kitchen, backyard, porch and/or dining room every Thursday.  Yesterday, I watched Denise, with great patience, instruct with great detail how to proceed through each step of baking cookies.  And when all was said and done, the “disciples” absolutely enjoyed what they had learned, and the “discipler’s” heart was filled with great satisfaction, contentment and joy!  The “disciples” even ran home with great joy to show and share with their parents what they had learned!

When you are involved in discipleship, what a rich blessing to teach a hungry soul the ingredients of God’s Word.  When they taste and see that the LORD is good (Psalm 34:8), they are excited to go share their joy and what they have learned with others (John 4:29).

We have a commission, not a suggestion (Matthew 28:18-20).  God’s way is always perfect (Psalm 18:30).  His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 9:8).  Are their children in your neighborhood who need “cookie lessons” during their summer break?

I sure hope your “doorbell” is ringing this summer!

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.  (Matthew 28:18-20)

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?

Lessons From a Hernia

All my life I have lived in full speed, all-out, never-sit-still motion. Every day is an adventure. I believe in being loyal to the end and give it all you got. This can be a positive in many ways, but life lived like this can also have some disadvantages. My independency, impatience and let’s go attitude does not bode well at times with following the Lord, my Shepherd. So, when He needs to get my undivided attention to do some whittling and training, He chooses something to really slow me down. As a matter of fact, to literally stop me. Two years ago it was eye surgery. This time it is hernia surgery. So, what have I been learning in slow motion from my patient, merciful, loving, sovereign God?

Lesson #1 – You must slowdown in this busy world of good things and make time for the best thing.

When you are laid aside for a number of days, you have the opportunity to read more, pray more, listen more, worship more, think more, and prioritize more. What delight to spend a whole morning (after you come off of pain meds) in the Word, in communion with the Lord, reading books, blogs, and articles, in prayer, writing in your journal, listening to sermons, etc. All of that to say, a time like this makes you hunger for more. Because our lives are so busy with good things, we fail or are slack in the area of the best things. Therefore, such is the need to plan your week and your month to really spend time with the Lord. I don’t know what that will look like for you and your schedule, but if Christ is to be sought first (Matthew 6:33) because to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21), then what will you plan for this week, this month?

Hint: When you come to the end of this month of November, will your heart be filled to overflowing with gratitude for your God?

  • Spend a “Thanksgiving morning” reading the psalms, singing songs of gratitude, and writing in your journal what God reveals to you during this time.
  • Keep a gratitude list through the month, not of what God has done, but for Who He is.
  • Read articles, blogs, or books about giving thanks.
  • Have your family share points of gratitude at your daily meal times as well as what God has revealed to them during each day of their time in the Word.
  • As you study your SS lesson, ladies Bible study, or your regular Bible reading during the week, make a conscious effort to praise the Lord for what He teaches you. For instance, you have just answered a question that causes you to think about the greatness of God or His works, so you stop right there and have a session of praise before the Lord.

Psalm 100

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

Outreach Opportunity Month

As I watch the farmers around my house cut hay and prepare for winter, my thoughts have drifted to harvest time and colder temps.  These are great days to look on the fields (Luke 10:2) and pray for harvesters and a harvest.  But, we do not just pray, we get involved.  For the dear congregation of Boones Creek Bible Church, I offer on this the first day of October, some outreach ideas for you to exercise the heart and compassion of Christ and be a laborer in the harvest field of opportunity!  Start or continue to build relationships that point to Jesus Christ.

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

  • Invite a group of folks to your backyard, build a fire, and make s’mores. Play a game.
  • Bring someone to the Community Caring Closet at church, October 18-29, that could use some clothes and some gospel care.
  • Prepare your car trunk with goodies for Trunk or Treat night, October 28, at church. Have a theme for your and bring some other kids.  After the service, all the children will walk through the parking lot receiving your goodies.  Great opportunity for you to connect with the kids and be a blessing to them!
  • Reverse Halloween: It’s the one night of the year when most folks are at home and eager to answer the door. Of course, residents will be surprised when they get treats instead of having to give them out. Go door-to-door to distribute bags of goodies containing candy, Christian DVDs or CDs, a gospel tract, a book, a card, etc.
  • Help a neighbor rake leaves and/or take in their summer furniture; just offer to help in some way.
  • Family Free Car Wash: Make up signs saying “FREE Car Wash” and “No Tricks, Just Treats”. People will stop and ask, “What’s the gimmick?” Tell them, “We’re Christians, and doing something for you, at no charge, is one way of letting you know that Jesus loves you and so do we. We want to treat you today by washing your car for you.” Most people will stand outside while their car is being washed. This is a good time for friendly talk, to invite them to church, and if possible to ask them about their relationship with the Lord Jesus. As they leave, give them a tract and information about our church.
  • Prepare a harvest basket of fruit, cookies, etc and deliver it to a policemen or fireman as way to say thanks. Be sure to include a gospel tract, a personal note of thanks with your address, and church information.
  • Lead a church service at the local nursing home by singing, reading Scripture and prayer.
  • Distribute donuts, hot chocolate, and a gospel tract at a local bus stop.
  • Bring in breakfast for all the teachers at a local school near you.
  • Go door-to-door in your neighborhood and ask how you can pray for them. Write it down and go back in a week or two to find out how God answered.  If possible, have prayer with them at the door.
  • Offer an evening or Saturday to help a single parent. That may include babysitting, fixing things, helping maintain a car, help cleaning the house, etc. Ask questions and be a good listener. Perhaps offer to pray.

Opportunities are everywhere because people are everywhere!  See the harvest?

They’re Everywhere

Yesterday after the service, we did something that I am grateful does not happen very often.  Since Andrew and Allison wanted us to look at an apartment with them, we ate our Sunday dinner at a restaurant.  We usually eat at home which is our preference. Nevertheless, on this Sunday, I’m so glad we ate out.  There they were, everywhere . . . people.  One that stood out in the crowd was our server.  She had a most pleasant personality and a ready, “ . . . and I’m here to take really good care of you.”  And that she did.

When our meal arrived, I said to our server, “All of this has come from the good hand of the Lord and we are going to thank Him for it by prayer.  How can I pray for you?”  After a moment of silence and tears starting to well up in her eyes, she said, “I’ve made some bad decisions and messed up. . . I need prayer.”

Yes, you see, they are everywhere; people.  People who are hurting.  People who need the Lord.  People who need someone to listen to them.  People who are so empty.  They come in every form and fashion.  They come with baggage from their past.  They have broken hearts, broken homes and broken lives.  They are everywhere.

As we were so vividly reminded last week in our revival meetings, people bring people to Christ; people point people to Christ.  Who’s serving you at the restaurant?  Who’s scanning your groceries? Who’s standing in line with you at the checkout?  Who’s taking your payment for your gasoline?  Who’s next door?  Who’s sitting next to you at the ball game?  People.  They are everywhere.

This dear server listened as we shared Jesus with her.  She acknowledged that she was a true believer, but had run away from the Lord.  The tears continued.  We left her with a tract, a word of encouragement and the offer to reach out to us in the future.

Yes, they are everywhere.  Who’s standing next to you right now?  Who will cross your path today?

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.  Then saith He unto His disciples, “The harvest truly is plenteous” (Matthew 9:36-37a).