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?

The Nature of Neglect

The title of our new Sunday School study is Out of CommissionGetting Every Christian Back to the Great Commission.  As you have seen in a previous post, the picture of an old truck graces the front cover of the book.  The author says, “The old, out-of-commission truck is an example of the cost of neglect.  What had once been a useable truck was put out of commission simply through neglect.  It is also an example of the possibility of repair.  The neglect can be reversed.” (p. 5)

This week, Wayne “put his thoughts to paper” like he did last week Have Ya Got the Time and has written  a home-spun piece about this subject of neglect.  With joy and the hopes you will take it heart, I share what the Lord gave him early in the morning on his back porch.

Neglect does not usually take place over-night. Take the old country store in the photo. It is located in Washington County Tennessee, but could be in any part of the United States.

Please, indulge me as I exercise some “literary liberties.” Think back 100 years. It is the year 1914.… This is the country store. The nearest town is 18 miles away, the road is dirt and the transportation of choice is a team and wagon or the mule. The store is the center of the community. In one corner is the beloved Post Office. A 4’by4’ squared dedicated to the United States mail. The shelves are lined with items that cannot be growed or made on the farm. You can also buy farm tools, shot-gun shells and sewing notions. Everything from Anvils to Zippers.

It had a front porch at one time, its gone now. Neglect. The roof is saggin’ and the walls are cavin’ in. Neglect. It is not safe to go inside now. Neglect. What we see is a visible application of neglect. …

Our Sunday School classes at our church are beginning a study on neglect. The neglect of God’s command in Matthew. The command we call the Great Commission….Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Matt 28:19).

Can you see what happens when we neglect?

This, neglect, can also take place in the life of a believer. Our lives become un-useful as a testimony of God’s grace. When we don’t spend time with God in his word, the front porch, where we can talk and fellowship with Him, begins to rot away and disappear. When we don’t spend time with Gods people,… Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Heb 10:25).…we allow the “vines” of the world to take over and eventually consume us. Very soon, we come to the place as the old country store, out of place.

So, remember the words of Jesus……..The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly…(John 10:10).

If we continue to do the things we’ve always done, we’ll continue to get the results we’ve always got.

Ponder on that, and don’t NEGLECT!

Scripture For Today:  Amos 6:1-7; Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 12:35-48; 1 Timothy 4:14 (Read it, meditate on it, pray it back to God, put yourself in the passage, and obey it.)  Be sure to have your study questions answered and be ready to give your whole heart to class discussion and the Great Commission!!

Reaching Your Own People

Last night in Prayer Meeting, we watched a portion of Dispatches from the Front, Episode 3, I Once Was Blind.  “The third episode . . . goes deep into the lands of West Africa, lands broken and bloodied by years of horrific civil war, desperate poverty, and dark religion. For centuries Islam and demon worship have held millions in the grip of fear, violence, and blood-guilt. However, the Gospel is changing all of that!”  What a powerful testimony to the power of the Gospel as demon worshipers are being converted to Christ and are making a difference for Him!  We even have one of church members headed to West Africa on a medical mission’s trip very soon to reach people in darkness with the light of the transforming Gospel!!

As I watched along with the rest of our congregation, a statement caught my attention as never before.  As Tim Keesee, Director of Frontline Missions, narrated, he made a statement about how these Liberian believers “were reaching their own people with the Gospel.”  How often when a native missionary comes to our church and we think, “Wow!  That is the best way; a native going to reach his own people.  He doesn’t have to spend time learning the language or the customs.  He can start preaching the gospel as soon as he returns to his native land!”  Then it struck me; I need to see myself in the same vein.  I can “reach my own people with the Gospel.”  They live across the street from me.  They speak my language.  They have many of the same customs.  They are in my family. Now, I’m not very good at reaching the Hispanics or Bosnian or Chinese in our area, but I can reach the East Tennesseans!  They are my own kind!!  J

How about you?  Are you reaching your own people with the Gospel whether they be Hispanics or East Tennesseans? What would it take for you to be fully engaged in the Great Commission?  You speak their language fluently!  Go tell them about Jesus!!

Scripture For Today:  Luke 9:6; Acts 8:4  (Read it, meditate on it, pray it back to God, put yourself in the passage, and obey it.)  Are you going everywhere?  Be sure to keep reading and answering your study questions for our first Sunday in the study of Out of Commission.  Looking for God to touch down in each class!!


Out of Commission

“We are not called to hold the fort, but to conquer the world.  We are not called to merely preserve the faith, but to advance it.” (Paul Washer)

What a compelling charge to the saints of God!  This reminds me of the following recorded words of Jesus Christ:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature  (Mark 16:15).

For the truck pictured above, there’s no conquering, no advancing, no going!  Now, there was day when that truck was new, shiny, functional and the engine was revved up ready to go!  It was on the move!  Remember the day you were born again and the successive weeks thereafter?  You told everyone about your salvation.  You were exciting to share the great work of the Gospel in your life!  You were on the move!  Question—When it comes to sharing the gospel today, July 23, are you parked, rusting, and out of gas or conquering, advancing, and going?

For the next eight weeks, the teen and adult small group SS classes of our church will be using this book as a resource guide along with Scripture to help us be greatly involved in the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ, the Great Commission!  In other words, we are  moving from theology to “legology;” from fleshly response to Gospel work to heart-change about Gospel work; from talking about the Gospel to talking to someone about the Gospel; from doing nothing to doing the good works because love works; from rusting to relaying the Words of Life; from being parked to pursuing; from being out of commission to being engaged in the Great Commission!  These will be exciting days as we “look under the hood” and see the Lord exchange “the broken, worn out parts” for functional ones and “tune up” the others by His grace for the special supernatural work of “conquering, advancing and going”!

Scripture For Today:  Romans 1:14-16  (Read it, meditate on it, pray it back to God, put yourself in the passage, and obey it.)

Pals Brigade

Without question, a Jr. Burger from Pal’s is always a winner!  How dare them build an eating establishment so close to our church!! 🙂  Now, this blog post is not about a brigade of church members heading to Pals for a burger after the evening service on Sundays or Wednesdays.

The June 20, 2014, edition of the Knoxville News Sentinel, carried an article entitled “Pvt. Smith’s rescue strikingly close to ‘Saving Private Ryan’” (News Article). Within that story was mention of the Pals Brigade of World War I fame in which there were “some 9 million soldiers” killed.   These pals battalions of the British Army were made up of men who enlisted with the promise of serving together with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.  As a result, “it was common for families to lose more than one son.  Communities sometimes found that a single skirmish could wipe out a generation of their men.”

After reading the article, I was deeply moved at the desire of these men to serve together with their family and friends, even with the looming threat of death, and to be known as the Pals Brigade.  As “Pals” they fought and died together for the cause of freedom. They gave up their liberties for each other to be pals in the fight.  They gave up their homes to join their pals in the war.   After all, they were a part of the Pals Brigade.

In his speech to encourage men from Liverpool, England, to join the Pals Brigade, the Earl of Derby said, “This should be a battalion of pals, a battalion in which friends from the same office will fight shoulder to shoulder for the honour of Britain and the credit of Liverpool.”  Two days afterwards, 1,500 men had joined the brigade and in the next few days, three more battalions were formed.  Near the end of 1914, fifty towns had formed battalions and larger towns formed several.

Every local church needs to be known as a Pals Brigade made up of born again individuals who would join with their blood brothers (Romans 5:1-11), family members (Romans 12:5; Ephesians 1:5; 4:25) and co-workers (2 Corinthians 5:20) to serve and fight together for the lost souls of men and women!  There’s the Adult Sunday School battalion, the Teen battalion, the Senior Saints battalion, the Deacons battalion, and the Pastoral Staff battalion.  They are trained in the boot camp of prayer and are striving together for the Gospel!  As Paul exhorted the church at Philippi, Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27).

You know, if a “Pals Brigade” does go down the street after church for a hamburger, they are not going to Pals just to eat. They are going side-by-side, striving together, looking for someone to hear the gospel.

The man instrumental in starting our church, Dr. Gillis Partin, wrote:

Souls for Jesus,is our battle cry

Souls for Jesus, we’ll fight until we die!

We never will give in,

While souls are lost in sin!

Souls for Jesus,is our battle cry!

The Destination of Your Conversation

Airports are intriguing places, especially international, larger airports. People are everywhere, strolling along, in a hurry, eating, talking, captivated by their smartphones or ipads, trying to get through security and various other ingredients of airport life ultimately with a ticketed destination. I love watching people and talking to total strangers. How interesting it is to find out where they are from, where they are headed, and why they are travelling to their declared destination. My wife and daughters chuckle at me because I ask questions and get to know folks in such a way that the next step would be an invitation to come home with us. If their life has taken them to any destination near where I have lived or have relatives, these complete strangers and I have just about become kinfolk! J

Without sounding off here, the truth is, I have a destination. I am trying to break down barriers to get an opportunity to share with them the Theme of themes, the Journey of all journeys, the King of all kings, and the Lord of all lords . . . the Savior of lost souls, the Lord Jesus Christ. As I said to someone recently, “I will probably never see you again, but I sure want to know that I’ll see you in heaven.” Often this opens the door for the gospel, and at least, a gospel tract.

Today, you may not be in an airport, but you will probably be around a lot of people. What will be the destination of your conversations?

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).

40 Days of Prayer & Fasting: Day #18


Speak Up!

Evangelist Tom Farrell often says, “The Bible is not a book of suggestions, but a mandate from God.”  That same thought can be rendered “The Great Commission is not the Great Suggestion.”  You and I have been given a directive, a calling, a mission, a purpose, a plan and a life from the KING OF KINGS AND LORD AND LORDS, Go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).  What a blessed privilege to be a mouthpiece for Deity; to have clear direction for lives; to know what the Lord expects of us; to have a divine purpose; to have a reason to live!  The Gospel must be proclaimed by YOU.

Scripture Passage:  Acts 26:1-23

1.  Do you live your life obedient to the mission Christ has given you?

2.  In your life right now, is it the Great Commission or the Great Suggestion, something you can take or leave?

3.  Do you think often about the lost condition of people who have never heard of Christ?

4.  Are you intentional in your witness for Christ and for His glory?

5.  Are your conversations guided by pointing others to the Theme of themes?

6.  Who are you building a relationship with today?  Who will you talk to today?

Reminder:  Our goal for these 40 days of prayer and fasting is that God would so revive and change us that we would both pray and act as the people of God for the glory of God!   To act as the people of God is to be His witness!