The Gospel Family

 

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

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

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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.

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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,

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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)

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

Every week ministry is filled and enriched by God’s grace.  No matter what kind of week it has been, grace has been sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) and overflowing (2 Corinthians 9:8).  Here’s another peek into some of the grace coupons I clipped in recent days.

COUPON #1:  COUPLES’ ADVANCE

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Several years ago, I attended my first Men’s Prayer Advance, and I have never been the same since.  The MPA is the highlight conference for me each year.  Last week, my wife and I attended our first Couples Advance.  The fact that is was held in Pigeon Forge, TN, made the event that much sweeter!  How we love East Tennessee and the Smokies!  More importantly, how wonderful to come apart for three days and intentionally work on our marriage by the grace of God.  This past June we celebrated our 35th Anniversary, and we both love the gift of marriage and love being married!  Seriously, sometimes I feel like we are still on our honeymoon.  But, because we are two sinners saved by grace (Ephesians 2:1-9) and accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6), we need the searchlight of God’s Word to show where we must grow and change to be more like Christ (Ephesians 5:18-33). Of course, the Word works (Hebrews 4:12)!  What a blessing to get honest with God and each other.  The marriage triangle says it all:

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COUPON #2:  PREACHING THROUGH REVELATION


He that can toy with his ministry and count it to be like a trade, or like any other profession, was never called of God. But he that has a charge pressing on his heart, and a woe ringing in his ear, and preaches as though he heard the cried of hell behind him, and saw his God looking down on him–oh, how that man entreats the Lord that his hearers may not hear in vain! – Charles Spurgeon

Preparing to preach from this awesome book every Sunday takes considerable time, prayer, and digging.  To mine out the truths and deliver them without a sensational spin as well as be true to the text is a chore but a delightful one. I often think of a line from the movie, Sheffey, when he preaches his first sermon and runs out of the church in fear.  Shed McCombs, in the face of Sheffey’s protests and not willing to let him quit, declares, “Tis a fearful thing to preach the Word of God!”  Indeed it is, but I must say, how grateful to be grace-enabled to preach Revelation in these last days!

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in the Ministry

Seeing Young Men Continue:  As was mentioned earlier in the week, Boones Creek Bible Church celebrated its 60th Anniversary last Sunday. What a special treat to have two young men in particular attend the service who once were integral servants in this ministry.

For seven years, Todd Jones, led our congregational singing and choir and taught Sunday School.  Every weekend, he and later on, his wife and family, would drive up from Greenville, SC, to serve with us.  Today, they are back in Greenville where he serves on the music faculty of Bob Jones University.

Along the same time, the Lord led Adam Smalley to our congregation as he completed his medical school training at East Tennessee State University.  While here, he taught Sunday School, used his musical talents, served as a Timothy member with the deacons and grew to be a major part of this ministry.  Now, he and his family are living in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving at Colonial Hills Baptist Church as a deacon and small group leader.

How honored to have these young men and their families back at BCBC for our special day.  May their tribe increase!

Seeing Older Men Continue:  Dr. Bill Hall has been an evangelist for 61 years.  He has been a part of my life for as long as I’ve been alive, and I’m 57.  He has held meetings in churches my father pastored as well as for me, and here at BCBC.  In 1963, although in evangelism, he started a church in nearby Greeneville, TN.  His evangelism challenge to us this past Sunday was what we needed to hear and heed!  How grateful I am to still have a man of his character, passion, and wisdom as my friend and co-laborer in the gospel ministry.  He’s in his early eighties, but his heart beats for Christ like a teen!  Check out his Personal Message.

Seeing the Gospel Continue:  Wednesday evening, we hosted “Trunk or Treat” in our gym.  What a thrill to see the gospel opportunities that came our way via children and parents alike! Lives are changed by the gospel, and we live each day by the gospel!!  The power of the gospel continues because the tomb is empty, and it motivates us to continue!

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Clippin’ Grace Coupons In Ministry

A Place to Meet with God and Study His Word:  Since returning from our time away in August, I have rearranged my schedule.  As a pastor who has been preaching the Word for 41 years, it would be real easy to coast along in sermon preparation.  Recognizing the need of keeping my heart on fire and hearing directly from the Throne of God, I have made it a point to give Monday and Tuesday to digging in the Word, sitting at Jesus’ feet, seeking God’s face for my messages.  I do not want give the congregation I love so dearly “leftovers” or a “fast-food” sermon.  My sheep need good grain that comes from the hand of God.  So, with that in mind, the Lord has graciously provided a place that has become very dear to me.  A place where my cell phone has almost a non-existent signal; a place of extreme quiet; a place removed from the distractions of home where my study is located; and a place that causes me to be very intentional.  This is a huge grace coupon!!

Mentoring:  Our neighbor’s two children attend Pioneer Club, our Wednesday children’s ministry.  If a child has to miss a night, they can make it up during the week.  So, what a thrill to help my little buddy next door with his assignment.  I had a hard time holding back the tears.  He is so precious, and like a grandson to us.  He is all boy!!!  Thank You, Lord, for another grace coupon!!  God, you are so good to me!!

Country Living:  Our home is a genuine gift of God’s grace.  The story behind it and how He has used it in these three years for ministry has been and is awesome!!  Here’s the view yesterday morning.  I never tire of the quiet, the cattle across the way, the sunrise, and the time spent in prayer and in God’s Word . . . here in the country!!  Love those grace coupons!!

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

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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)

Friday’s Findings

What can you find today?  What will you find today?

The Lord GodBut from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deut. 4:29)  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Rich TreasureI rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure (Psalm 119:162).

Knowledge of God  If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:4-6).

Wisdom I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me (Proverbs 8:17).

GoodHe who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he (Proverbs 16:20).

Answered Prayer“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

RestCome to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 28:28-30).

LifeFor whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:25).

An Empty TombBut they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[a] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments (Luke 24:2-4).

Weakness of my FleshFor I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find (Romans 7:18).

Sufficient GraceLet us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

So, as you go throughout your Friday, what will you find?  What are you looking for? That depends on where you look, the surrender of your heart, and the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.  God is pursuing you today.

 

Here’s something else you will find to be helpful.  Looking so forward to Evangelist Aaron Coffey and the team being with us March 15-20, 2015.  This powerful message was delivered last night at Bob Jones University.  Listen here: January 15, Aaron Coffey.