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,

dale

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!!

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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

Joining God In His Work With His Resources

 

missions

This week, I have been writing primarily to the congregation of Boones Creek Bible Church.  One of the most blessed aspects of this ministry is joining God in His work through missions!  Every Sunday we are brought up to date about two of our supported missionaries through our Adopt-A-Missionary Ministry.  Each missionary family is “adopted” by one of our church families.  How stirring to hear what God is up around the world as these families give their reports via pictures, videos, praise notes, and prayer requests.  Friend, the most exciting event on the planet happens every time a lost soul repents and receives Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. (If you have never been born again, please take time to watch this: Five Questions)

This Sunday is Grace Giving Missions Sunday.  This is a special day as look to the Lord for His direction in how He will provide for His mission’s work through His people.  BCBC Family, would you consider the questions below after reading the following passages:  Matthew 6:25-33; 28:18-20; Mark 12:41-44; Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 and Philippians 4:16-19.

  • What part will you play in mission’s giving this year at Boones Creek Bible Church so we as a body of believers can be obedient to the Great Commission?
  • Have you been asking God to reveal to you the amount that He would have you trust Him for each month?
  • How big is your God?
  • What is the value of a soul to you and your family?
  • What do you need to set aside that is temporal so you can give for the eternal?
  • What does your wallet, your checkbook say about your heart for missions, for the lost?
  • What will your children learn about giving to missions from your example?
  • How much celebrating via giving will you do in 2017?

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 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 9:7-8)

A Giving Celebration

 

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“God directs his people not simply to worship but to sing his praises before the nations. We are called not simply to communicate the gospel to nonbelievers; we must also intentionally celebrate the gospel before them.” (Tim Keller)

One of the many ways we can “celebrate the gospel” before nonbelievers is for them hear how God meets our needs for His work and His glory!  How sad that the unbelieving world sees us storing up treasures here, even going into debt for temporal things that have no eternal value, and they never heard the stories of how our great God supplied our needs and especially provided so we could get in on the blessing of giving!!  God wants you to celebrate not grumble or be a Mr. Scrooge.

The following passage describes one of the many celebration activities in a believer’s life:

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 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 9:6-8).

One of the most joyful events that occurs in any church service is when the offering is received!  Think about it.  Look at the following based upon the above passage:

  1. God promises that if you sow bountifully, you will reap bountifully.
  2. God does not pressure you to give.
  3. God does not want you to be miserable when you give but joyful.
  4. God is able to provide so you can get in on the blessing of giving.

Indeed, it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35), even when you do not think you have to give.  God is able!  So, when it comes time to give, do not look at your wallet, look at your God Who 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 Cor. 9:8).

Therefore, people of BCBC, preparing to give and then giving to missions in 2017 should really make you celebrate when you consider 2 Corinthians 9:15!!

I am looking for much celebration in the days to come!  God is able!

His Heartbeat

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It was one of those moments!!  I’m seated on the front row of our church auditorium Sunday morning as we watched an Operation Christmas Child video.  Within seconds I was captivated.  There I viewed precious children wearing huge smiles of joy as they received and opened their shoe boxes!  Greater still was the testimonies of children who had received Christ as their personal Lord and Savior as a result of this initiative.  Then I realized that these children were not only gripping my heart, but it was touching the hearts of many around me.  Our church is buzzing with excitement this month as we participate for the first time in OCC!!  Missions is the heartbeat of God! Look at the cross and empty tomb.

Prior to the OCC presentation, one our church members shared the good news of God’s working in another missionary endeavor in Salt Lake City, Utah.  What a thrill to see and hear the testimonies of children and adults declaring their desire to be publicly identified with Christ in baptism; announcing their decision to follow Christ and be His disciple!  One adult, newly saved, walked in off the street, asked to be baptized, and the tank was filled during the morning service so this “Ethiopian treasurer” (Acts 8:26-38) could be obedient to the Lord!!  Missions is the heartbeat of God! Look at the cross and empty tomb.

What is missions? In its most direct and simple form, missions is Matthew 28:19-20, 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 . . . .  Furthermore, Psalm 96: 3 says, Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!  Also, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Missions is the heartbeat of God!  Look at the cross and empty tomb.

How wonderfully blessed to be a part of a church that is involved in the heartbeat of God!  This month, our focus is on Grace Giving Missions, the means whereby we support these and other missionary endeavors each year.  My challenge today in this post is really directed to our church family.  As you seek the Lord in prayer this week for what He would have you give each month for missions, would you ask yourself this question, “What is my heartbeat for missions?”  Before you answer that question, take a long look at the cross (Matthew 27:27-54).  Then stand for a while at the empty tomb (Matthew 28:1-10).  Do you have God’s heartbeat for missions?  Matthew 16:26 says, For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  The Lord placed more value on a man’s soul than the wealth of the world.

I believe those moments like Sunday morning in church are a result of your heart beating like God’s heart because missions is the heartbeat of God!

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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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?”