A Pastor’s Tuesday

Began the day with a cup of coffee and the Word!

Was encouraged and blessed by a daily Bible verse text from a dear brother in Christ.

Ministered the Word to two still-grieving hearts; shared from what I had read earlier in the morning.

Spoke an word of encouragement to one whose world has been shattered.

My wife and I attended the adoption ceremony at the county courthouse for a precious foster child who is now the daughter of one of our church member’s.

Made a Dunkin run for this first day of peppermint mocha coffee!

Reminded myself to think biblically.

Visited one of our church family who is recovering from heart-valve replacement surgery. Thankful for Psalm 4 and prayer!

Helped my wife pick up some things at Sam’s Club.

Fought my flesh.

Dropped off some books, a DVD, and a thank you note to a long-time Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16) in my life.

Listened to Adrian Rogers preach as I traveled to Kingsport.

Reminded myself to think biblically.

Experienced another “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17) men’s book lunch where we discussed a biblical theology of work, shared life events, and prayed together. A transparent, honest exchange among men.

Connected with a missionary friend via Whatsapp.

Listened to Chip Ingram teach on prayer as I traveled for my next appointment.

Met with our assistant pastor for our weekly ministry meeting. Another time of “iron sharpening iron.” God met with us in a very special way.

Received a text from my wife that her cousin has maybe a day or two left on this earth due to cancer. I called my wife on my drive home to come alongside her and hopefully bear her burden.

Was reminded that Jesus could come right now as I was exiting the interstate and saw the view from the top of the hill.

Received a humorous phone call from my oldest daughter that produced a needed “belly-laugh.”

Fought my flesh and the attacks of the devil.

While waiting for and helping with supper preparation, I answered texts and emails, called a church member to sing Happy Birthday, and chatted with my wife as I caught up on other events of the day. So very grateful for my wife who faithfully serves at home to make our home a place of refuge from this world. The meal was delicious comfort food.

Reminded myself of God’s promises.

Spent the evening helping my wife who was not really feeling well. Also, answered and read more emails, read some helpful blogs and worked on prep for Wednesday and Sunday’s messages.

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, [b]unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [c]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you [a]therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead [b]at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Timothy 2:22-3:5; 3:13-4:2)

Another day of experiencing the sufficient grace and eternal love of God!

A Pastor’s Monday

The rambling thoughts of a pastor looking back over a Sunday . . .

I wish I had said that better.

Did I do my best?

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58)

Was the Lord pleased?

Did I handle the text accurately?

Will that message stand at the Bema?

Lord, what would you have me preach next Sunday from Mark 12:35-40?

Sure was good to see them back again!

Why didn’t anyone respond to the invitations?

I hope they will not be hurt in any way because I failed to recognize them.

That song was powerful. How challenging, convicting, and Christ-centered!

I should not have let that get me down.

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Heb. 12:3)

Those testimonies were so encouraging!

Lord, I need You.

How uplifting were his words to my heart!

Why don’t folk return on Sunday night?

Lord, forgive us for our pride
When our faith becomes a show,
Dressed in righteous deeds to hide
All the stains below.
We have judged Your sons and daughters
For the sin that is our own.
May we now forgive each other
And lay down our stones.
Forgiven, forgiven,
Through the blood of Christ
We are forgiven.
(Forgiven, Brittany Born, Kate DeGraide, Rebecca Elliott)

Thankful for the Spirit’s illumination of Christ during the Lord’s Supper.

I never got to speak to that visitor.

How awesome to see that prayer answered!!

Satan is attacking it seems on every front.

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

They’ve been gone for two Sundays now.

Thankful for the Word to share with a hurting, confused heart.

Lord, I need You.

What a blessing to see how the Word and worship affected biblical change!

What trials will come my way this week?

You prepare a table right before me
in the presence of my enemies
though the arrow flies and the terror of night
is at my door I’ll trust you Lord
Surely goodness, surely mercy,
right beside me all my days,
and I will dwell in Your house forever
and bless Your Holy Name
(Psalm 23 Surely Goodness, Surely Mercy; Shane & Shane)

I missed them today. Need to follow up.

Sure grateful for all those who are so faithful.

Must get some exercise today.

I did a poor job communicating that announcement.

Lord, how can we reach out to that hurting family down the street?

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:8)

I should have taken the opportunity to shepherd the flock better at the end of the members meeting.

God gave grace again.

Lord, I need You.

I’ll be back next Sunday, Lord willing.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Teammates

Whiteface Mt. New York

A dear friend recently said to me, “Every time I pray for you, I pray for your wife. You two are a team!”

He’s right! We are!

We became a team on June 20, 1981. We have worked through marriage, parenting, ministry, and the stuff of life as a team. That teamwork has had a strong presence in our lives in the past week or so.

Last Monday, while on our way for a supper date, I ran my car through the car wash. As I pulled up to clean out the inside of my auto, I noticed a dear pregnant lady struggling to vacuum her built-low-to-the-ground four-door. Denise and I looked at each having the same thought. Gently I approached the lady and asked if I could vacuum her car. I quickly pointed to Denise to help ease the situation. She was a bit reluctant but then gratefully received my invitation. While I worked through the debris in this lady’s automobile, Denise introduced herself and began a gospel conversation. Every once-in-awhile, I would look from my task and say to myself, “I’m so glad we are teammates!”

Thursday through Saturday, Denise had the rich privilege of ministering God’s Word at Wolf Mountain Camp, Grass Valley, CA. The three days were peppered with texts, photos, and phone calls between us. We prayed, wept, laughed and rejoiced together as we saw God’s grace in action from a front row seat! During her speaking sessions, I prayed. While sharing Christ on the plane with a 39 year-old, I prayed. While Denise listened and counseled with these ladies of many nationalities, I prayed. While leading a dear lady through the plan of salvation and witnessing her transformation by the power of God from darkness to light, I prayed. I’m so glad we are teammates!

The past two and a half years have been a steady trial, and it continues. Some things occurred on Sunday that I permitted to create a spirit of despondency in my heart on Monday. Denise is my cheer-leading teammate. Throughout Monday and Tuesday, she prayed, cared, encouraged, and ministered to my heart. Her cry to the Lord Tuesday morning was, “Lord, would you fulfill Jeremiah 33:3 for Dale today?” By noontime, that prayer had been answered in an Ephesians 3:20 way. Furthermore, when I came home for supper, she had prepared an appetizer to enjoy while she completed her final meal prep. That was her way of saying, “I love you. I’m for you.” I’m so very glad we are teammates!

May I strongly encourage you husbands and wives by the grace of God—be teammates. Work through your conflicts together. Pray together. Serve together. Worship together. Parent together. Play together. Walk through this life hand-in-hand. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33). This is teamwork as God planned it. I’m glad Denise and I are teammates!!

A Much-Needed Reminder

This past weekend was a much-needed refreshment for my soul. Ministry in the past year and a half has been difficult. While seated by the lake at the Wilds, the Lord pointed out this passage to me. Reluctantly, I must say that I had forgotten some of the ingredients of gospel ministry, of following Christ. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, reminded me last Saturday morning.

But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (2 Cor. 6:4-10)

Pressing forward in His grace!

The Sum of It All

 

img_20180818_093301527
Grace Baptist Church, Bluefield, WV (4th-6th Grade)

Ministry.  That really sums up my life.

Having grown up in a pastor’s home, that’s basically all I’ve known.

I have fond memories of moving from town-to-town in my school days.  (We lived in ten different towns and fourteen houses, and served in nine churches.) Although I did not like to leave my friends, I always made new ones in the next move.   And, oh the many precious souls who impacted our lives during those years!  How marvelous to see many precious ones of all ages come to the saving knowledge of Christ!  Oh, the joy of seeing answered prayer on so many fronts!

Of course, I remember many of the difficulties of ministry as well.  When I was in the third grade, the church took up a petition one Sunday morning while we were out of town and voted my dad out of the church. Why?  Because he preached salvation by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), and my mother played the piano with too much gusto, or as they said, “She put too many runs in the piano.”

I could write a year’s worth of blog posts about ministry, but . . .

Ministry . . . is Jesus (Mark 10:45).

Ministry . . . is the continuation of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (Acts 1-2).

Ministry . . . is following Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 19:10).

Ministry . . . is making much of Jesus—-He’s the issue; He’s the complete reason; He’s the “celebrity;”  He’s the cause; He’s the only -ism; He’s the message (Colossians 1:15-18, 27-28).

Ministry here on earth has its share of delights and disappointments, fun and failure, joy and jams, selflessness and selfishness,  relationships and rejections,  blessings and battles, etc.

The only way to see ministry biblically fulfilled and to run the complete race of ministry until the Lord calls you Home is wrapped up in one word:  submit (Galatians 2:20; James 4:6-8; 1 Peter 5:5-10).  Submit every facet of ministry, including what is mentioned in the previous paragraph and . . . yourself to Jesus everyday.

John the Baptist said it so well when he spoke of Jesus, “He must increase; but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

That sums up ministry.

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!

Life Is Never Boring

Back yard

A peek into my Thursday:

Up at 5:30.

Dunkin Donuts coffee, time in the Word and prayer on my back porch while watching the fog roll in. . . and then out.

Write in my journal.

Send out a few texts to encourage others.

See pictures of a new grandbaby of one of our church family.

Take coffee to my wife.

Read the newspaper, my wife and daughter’s blog, and a few tweets.

Add a few pictures to our church Facebook page.

See what’s been happening in the world via World Magazine site.

Receive an encouraging word from an “everydayer” texter.

Communicate with a missionary concerning an upcoming visit in September.

Talk to a guest speaker who is coming this Sunday night to preach.

Send anniversary greetings to one of my dear friends.

Help my wife a bit in the kitchen as she prepares food to minister to a burdened soul.

Rejoice over answered prayer!!!  Watch God at work!!

Put some of the final touches on Sunday AM’s message.

Leave a “Love is . . . ” cartoon for my wife on the towel covering the freshly baked bread.

Receive a phone call that brings tears of joy!!

Lunch on the back porch.

Begin working on Ephesians study.

Hurt for the tragedy in Barcelona, Spain.

Get rid of a stack of stuff that is not necessary.

Answer emails.

See some church family in the parking lot of a local store.  The smiles on their boys’ faces was priceless.

Listen to, counsel and pray with two lives that are bent and broken under the load of sin.  Grateful for the healing balm of God’s Word.

Watch others minister to the hurting.

Disciple a new believer.

Listen to a song that causes my heart to rejoice because the song repeats the phrase, “In the middle of it all, there is Jesus.”

Share a few thoughts for Sunday’s bulletin.

Enjoy an Ale-8.

Count blessings.

Reflect on some of my reading from this morning in 2 Kings 3 where Elisha tells King Jehoshaphat, For thus says the LORD, . . . This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD (3:17-18).

Have watched God at work all day through the mundane and the important.  Nothing is too hard for our God. It is always a light thing for Him because “in the middle of it all, there is Jesus.”

My Greatest Heartache in Ministry

 

Africa Camp 1

For the past two weeks I have savored the awesome blessing of spending the first half of the month of July in Africa serving the Lord, seeing souls saved, and ministering together with dear brothers and sisters in Christ through the ministry of The Wilds Camps Abroad!  This trip to South Africa and Malawi was a definite “get-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone” trip.  Although I had made other mission trips, I had never visited a third-world country.

Since coming home, I have intentionally entered in my journal my “take-aways” from this journey.  One in particular stands out to me above all others.  I am ashamed to admit it, but I must say that before this trip, I had prayed, but I had not prayed so fervently, so frequently, so specifically, and as trustingly as I did while in Africa.

Without reservation, all that we experienced by the hand of the Lord was absolutely in direct response to prayer!  We watched God answer in so many ways, and we had a “front-row seat” to watch it happen for His glory and our good!!

Africa Camp 2

 

For instance, without going into great detail, after three days of training the nationals how to operate a teen camp, the first day arrived with great anticipation but a bit of fear of the unknown.  It’s 8:00 a.m.  Where are the campers? We looked out in the yard of the mission compound to see only one teen camper.  You read that correctly . . . one teen camper.  Undaunted but not knowing how to gather more teens, Dan, our leader make the absolute best decision.  He looked at all of the workers and said, “Let’s gather in small groups and PRAY for GOD to bring in campers.”  That’s exactly what we did.

As our group cried out to God for a manifestation of Jeremiah 33:3, for God to surprise us, He did exactly as He promised!

Within 30 minutes or less, the gates to the mission compound opened and a pick-up truck laden with a bunch of eager teens entered the grounds.  Moments later, the scene was replayed.  Eventually, we had 88 teens to begin our first day of camp!!  We saw God at work!! What a time of praise we had as we then saw some of those precious souls hear the gospel and respond to the call of salvation!!

Africa Camp 3.jpg

You may be puzzled as to why I have entitled my post “My Greatest Heartache in Ministry” when the past few paragraphs have been about God’s amazing work in my heart and the lives of others.  Quite frankly, I will say that my greatest heartache in ministry is the lack of prayer among God’s people . . . me included.

I’ve seen folks get up way early to be at church to go on some church fellowship trip.  I’ve seen believers pack out an auditorium or outdoor arena to hear their favorite singer or group and sometimes pay a hefty price for the ticket (Oh, and drive two hours to get there.) I’ve seen church members not miss a business meeting so they could vote their way.  And on and on I could go, but ask a group of believers to attend a prayer meeting, a prayer advance, or even pray, and . . . well, you know the rest of the story.

When are we as believers who have the very ear of our Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent God (Psalm 34:17), the blood-bought invitation by our Righteous Advocate and Great High Priest to enter into the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16: 1 John 2:1-2), and the Holy Spirit to intercede for us (Romans 8:26), when are we going to make prayer a blessed, expectant, humble, dependent, relational priority of our lives?

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-8)

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

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)

Thank You For Serving!

It happens almost every Sunday night.  After a very full day of ministry, at some point between leaving church or an after-church fellowship and getting into bed for a good night of rest, I find myself looking back over the day with a sense of amazement and awe.  So very much happened!!  I can still hear the voices of people sharing their burdens, singing their hearts out, asking life questions, telling me of answers to prayer, sharing a testimony; the chatter, the children, the laughter, the tears, the “Pastor, what about . . .?”, etc.  Then I go back over Sunday School class, the AM Service and the PM Service as well as replay my preaching over and over wishing I had said that or left out that.

Somewhere in those thoughts comes to mind ALL the people involved in ministry throughout the day at BCBC that serve upfront and behind the scenes.  They are those who set up the gym for SS and then put away the tables and chairs, those who come to early prayer meeting, sound room workers doing a multitude of things for sight and sound, greeters ready to welcome and be hospitable, one who gets an umbrella and walks people from their car to the carport in the pouring rain or parks the cars for some of our ladies, nursery workers dealing with precious and sometimes not so precious babies, janitors, deacons who are all over the place doing seven things at once, coffee makers providing that ever-needed java jolt, secretary work that didn’t end on Friday, teachers leading their classes, musicians playing and singing, people being intentional to reach other people with a hand-shake and a smile or the gospel, and on and on it goes throughout a typical Sunday.  The purpose of this blog today is to say to all who serve at BCBC on Sundays as well as Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, THANK YOU!

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:3-6).