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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Tidings of Great Joy To All People!

Irun Town Square (2)

Christmas is a glorious time of the year here in the States to hear the celebrated proclamation of Christ’s coming to earth to be born to die and to rise again (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 2:6-8).  How interesting and blessed to enter into a secular arena (store, restaurant) and hear the songs of Christ’s incarnation and redemption as well as in local churches throughout our land.  Even though, sadly, America becomes more and more pagan and agnostic, the message of great joy which shall be to all people (Luke 2:10) is given during this season.

While in Spain, I met Iñaki,  who doesn’t wait for just the yuletide season to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ.  Every first and third Saturday, he, along with others, sets up a booth (pictured above) in the town square of Irun, a city of the Bidasoaldea region in the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Community.  Without shame or fear, Iñaki hands out tracts and booklets as well as personally shares the liberating, reconciling truth of salvation for sinful men through Christ alone.  His enthusiasm and commitment to announce the Good News is “off the charts” and contagious (Mark 16:15; Romans 1:16). Obviously, I could not understand him, but communicated with him through a faithful translator. I say that to say this, that if I had never understood a word, I would have fully grasped his passion via his countenance, tears, gestures, and pointing to the picture on the wall.  To say Iñaki was animated about it would be an understatement.  The disappointment was all over him because the Saturday before, rain prohibited him from his passion, but the anticipation of the next Saturday had already eclipsed the regret knowing that it is all in God’s hands anyway.

Inaki Moreno

In the spirit of this season, let’s unwrap the gift that is in us, this treasure in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:5-7), and let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).  Perhaps the Lord has not led you to set up a booth in the town square, but the whole world is out there for you to proclaim the tidings of great joy!   Just as you sing without fear “Joy to the World” or “O, Come All Ye Faithful,” speak to others about this marvelous gift of grace, a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Fighting for the Forgotten

Basque Shepherd

Upon receiving my latest edition of WORLD magazine, I read the following front-page headline:  DANIEL OF THE YEAR, Frank Wolf, “A career in Congress spent fighting for the forgotten.”  Virginian Congressman Wolf has given the past thirty years plus of his life to travelling to some of the most dangerous places in the world to do something about suffering in seemingly forgotten areas.  As the WORLD article reported, “As part of his work in the House of Representatives, he traveled to hot spots like Cold War-era Romania, oppressed Tibet, communist China, beleaguered Sudan, and war-ravaged Iraq, often focused on the plight of religious minorities persecuted by government officials and extremists.”  Congressman Wolf retires this month, but his work will continue.  When he visited Ethiopia in 1984, he said, “What I saw and experienced in Ethiopia . . . fully awakened me to the suffering of other people.  And as both a U.S. c congressman and a Christian, I knew I had to do something about it.”

December 2-11, my wife and I spent time with other “Daniel’s” like Congressman Frank Wolf.   These are missionaries located in the Basque region of Spain who have given their lives “fighting for the forgotten.” This northern region of Spain bordering the Bay of Biscayne and the Pyrenees Mountains is unique unto itself.  The Basque people are a very proud people holding onto their national traditions and guarded in their approach to other Spaniards and outsiders.

What causes me to consider them “forgotten” is the impact of cold, lifeless religion that has left them suffering in their agnostic, sinful condition in these small mountain villages or large cities.  Many, many Basque people have never heard the gospel, never read a Bible or heard the name “Jesus.”  This land is virgin territory for the Good News.

How my heart was moved by a lone shepherd leaning on his staff as he tended his sheep near the small village of Zegama. He stood all alone, seemingly forgotten, quiet and forlorn. I waved at him as we passed by on our way up the mountain to the Aierdi Farmhouse.  On the third pass, he finally acknowledged my wave.  Here is a man, most likely unsaved, a shepherd in need of hearing the gospel of the Good Shepherd (John 10:10-11).  My heart ached as I realized that I could not speak to him in his own language. Just as quickly, though, I rejoiced because of the dear missionaries who have given their lives to learn his language and “fight for the forgotten;” who live near him and have a burden for him as well.

Truth is, you do not need to travel 5,000 miles to Spain to “fight for the forgotten.”  They live next door to you, work alongside you, ride on the bus with you, attend your school, etc.  They are gripped in the cold clutches of their sin and have never heard the gospel. Many of their children have never heard John 3:16 or the simple children’s Christmas song, “Away in a Manger.”  God has not forgotten those around you in your community, and He has not forgotten these Basque people, and therefore, neither should we.  We must fight for the forgotten.  We must do something about it.  What sacrifices will you make this Christmas?  Where will you go to reach the “forgotten?”

Trick or Truth

The first time I can remember observing Halloween, I was five years old. How excited I was to wear my Yogi Bear costume, knock on our neighbor’s doors, receive candy, and then go eat candy! To me it was a simple evening of clean enjoyment. My parents made it that way. Instead of making an issue out of it, they just made sure it was an evening given to what was right.

Much has changed in 50 years. That’s why I am sharing two very well-written articles on the subject of Halloween. The balanced approach of John MacArthur’s writing is informative, practical, and spot on. David Mathis’ article adds to the first, but turns our thoughts in a direction that will make us think and hopefully understand, “The gospel changes everything!” Please be sure to read each article in its entirety.

Christians and Halloween – John MacArthur

Sent Into the Harvest – Halloween On Mission – David Mathis

I’m sure you will handle Halloween as you believe is right before the Lord. These two articles say what is in my heart, give the basic reasons for what we do at Boones Creek Bible Church, and why, if I am able (due to recent surgery) will be going door-to-door to GIVE out GOSPEL tracts and a GIFT to my neighbors. Oh, by the way, if you are wondering, I’ve grown out of my Yogi Bear costume. 🙂

 

Friday’s Findings

7 Things Your Church Needs From YouTim Challies writes one of those, “Man, I wish I had written this one!” blog posts. This is spot on.

Practical Evangelism HelpWhat if faithful evangelism didn’t involve anything extra but simply intentionally doing what you already do?

Making Time for Romance When Life Is Too BusyThis is one of my favorite marriage blogs. Here’s some practical tips that will help you add what is often missing in so many marriages today!

The Importance of Family Mealtime“Our family table can never be replaced by a restaurant table!” This was a good follow up comment to this blog post written by my precious wife who went to great lengths to provide wonderful food and great memories around the table! Thanks, Hon!

It’s All in the Presentation – One of my favorite moments from the Cosby Show.

 

Three-Hundred-Million Years From Now

Monday, I began reading a book entitled One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill.  The introduction contains a compelling question:  “Three-hundred-million years from now, what will be the only thing that will matter?”  Before you read on, please consider this question and give an answer.  (I’m waiting to type any further while you formulate your answer . . . . . . .)
The author goes on to say, “Will it matter what kind of car you drove?  Will it matter who won the NCAA football and basketball titles this year?  Will it matter who you took to the homecoming dance?
Cahill gives his answer in the next paragraph.  “Three-hundred-million years from now, the only thing that will matter is who is in heaven and who is in hell. And if that is the only thing that will matter then, that should be one of the greatest concerns now.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:11, The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. If is of the utmost importance for Jesus to reach the lost, shouldn’t it be a major priority for you?”
What was your answer?
The author goes on to say, “The real question then is:  What are you doing of significance today that will matter three-hundred-million years from now?”
As I was typing this, I received a phone call from a dear man that attended our church a long time ago. We have kept up with him here and there. His life had recently spiraled out of control due to alcohol and drugs. The call was this dear man sharing the good news that he had just trusted in Christ as his personal Lord and Savior!  Three-hundred-million years from now, this dear brother will be in Heaven as will the man who cared for his soul!

Romans 10:9-15  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

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?

Friday’s Findings

As we close out this week, I’m sharing some links/blogs that have impacted me this week.  I believe they will be of encouragement to you.

 

Christ’s Body: The Mission of the Church —Watch as Jason Ormiston delivers a message that all believers need to hear.  (Bob Jones University Chapel, September 24, 2014)

  • You would also be greatly edified by listening to Dr. Steve Pettit’s messages on Walking in the Spirit.

How I Learned to Win Souls — You will find this practical post by a dear man of God, Dr. Don Sisk, to be a rich blessing in obedience to the Great Commission.  One other feather in his cap is the fact that he is a UK Wildcat fan! 😉

Parenting – Have We Lost Our Way?— How grateful that we have the blessed opportunity to support this family on the mission field.  Here are some very timely questions that need to be answered in regards to modern-day parenting.  If you are a parent, please read and answer with genuine honesty and transparency.  Here is hope for you.

Are You Leeching the Local Church? — Enough said.

Eliminating and Concentrating — Help for busy ladies!

The More I Do It, The More Exciting It Gets!

“The more I do it, the more exciting it gets, and the more I want to do it!”  These are the words of an older gentlemen who has captured the vision and passion of Christ for lost souls.  He is one of many in our church who because of Christ’s last words (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15) are joining the ranks of an empowered community of believers who are commissioned for the gospel!  As a matter of fact, the man mentioned above and a deacon went visiting after church last night and saw a dear lady trust Christ as her Savior!

This has been an awesome summer of conflict, conviction, challenge and change in my life!  We have seen some interesting things take place at our church of which surprised many, but God has used it to strengthen His church and prepare us for His ministry, the Great Commission.  During my first trip to the Spiritual Leadership Conference in Lancaster, CA, back in June, the Lord convicted and challenged me about having a greater heart for the His harvest (Matthew 9:36-37; John 4:35).  Upon returning, the Lord led me to have all of our adult Sunday School classes and Teen Class study Dr. Paul Chappell’s book, Out of Commission. We are currently in the middle chapters of this book, and it is being used of the Holy Spirit to convict, challenge and change.  This is a final piece of the puzzle after studying Trellis and the Vine and The Exchange.  We even have an old “out of commission” truck in our parking lot to remind our folks of how we need to change to being Great Commission people.  This past Thursday through Saturday, businessmen from our church gathered at Elijah’s Harbor, Greeneville, TN, with other businessmen to learn how to use their business opportunities to be more an evangelistic center on mission for Christ. How marvelous it is to see the ministry of BCBC change from an inward focus to outward and upward focus of discipleship going-and-teaching (Matthew 28:18-20).  We have had our adversaries, but the grace of God is always greater!

Just as our brother said, “The more I do it, the more exciting it gets, and the more I want to do it!”  That excitement is growing because our mission is one of light and life!  The most exciting event in life is watching a soul be delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, through faith in the cross work and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13).  Yes, it’s getting more and more exciting!!

Gospel Risk-Takers

When I think of someone being a risk taker, immediately my mind goes to Extreme Sports adventures such as BASE jumping, whitewater canoeing, ice climbing, wing suit skydiving,  free running, slacklining, cliff diving, and a many others.  Folks involved in such escapades are risking injury or loss as they seek for the next extreme rush of excitement.

In recent days, I’ve been reading 1 Corinthians and have been stirred by the words of a genuine risk-taker, the Apostle Paul.  He was a gospel risk-taker!  His life, motivated by the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14), was lived for the sake of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:23).

For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! . . . For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:16, 19-23).

Then we read in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 the dangers he endured in his risk-taking adventures of advancing the gospel. With far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;  in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food ,in cold and exposure.  Now that’s extreme adventure, or dare I say, extreme sports?

You want an exciting quest?  You want an emotional rush?  Be a risk-taker for the gospel!  Be willing to really put your life on the line! Forget about what men think of you and consider your character before God and share the gospel with family, workers, strangers and friends.  Join up with a team and go on a mission’s trip to some remote area of the world. Get involved in the lives of those who are forsaken, hurting, abused, trashed, and shackled by the grip of sin.

Jumping off a cliff only gives you a chance to expand your ego.  Being a gospel risk-taker gives you the opportunity for reward in Heaven with eternal ramifications.  Ice climbing may result in a few clapping for you when you reach the summit, but when you have the opportunity to see a lost soul come to Christ, you are privileged to join the saints and angels in the heavenly chorus of rejoicing that once again has eternal significance.

So, what kind of risks will you take today for the gospel’s sake?