Joining Hearts and Hands In Mission with Christ

Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts

“Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give…a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Call it “our limited exposure.” Or perhaps “our protected environment.” Maybe “our inexperience.” It might even be labeled “our hillbilly ignorance.” Call it whatever you like, but it was nothing of which one should be ashamed. The truth of the matter was, that it was merely a lack of understanding or exposure. It was simply something that was yet to be learned.
As we were growing up, if we came upon something we had never done or known about before my daddy used to always say, “Well, you’ll never learn any younger.” What a depth of truth in that simple statement! It was his challenge to put away or fears, put away our excuses, admit our ignorance or inexperience, but set to work to change it.

The incident I am recalling was one involving my oldest sister. She has lived in Chicago now more that fifty years. But at that time she had been there only a short while. It was approaching the season we are right now entering. She had gone into work and on the way up in the elevator she noticed that one of her co-workers had a little dark smudge on her face. Not wanting her to be embarrassed later in the day, my sister discreetly called it to her attention. In a very curt manner her co-worker responded, “It’s Ash Wednesday!” and stepped out of the elevator in a real huff as if she had been majorly offended.

Three thoughts immediately come to my mind: “Well, you’ll never learn any younger!” and “What an opportunity to share something of your faith with another!” (on both my sister’s part as well as the offended co-worker’s part) and “I wonder how many similar opportunities you and I let slip by.”

Unbeknownst to my sister’s co-worker, unlike Chicago, my sister grew up in an area where the majority of folks hardly knew what a Catholic was. There were perhaps three Catholic churches in the entire county that had over 170 Baptist churches. Then only Catholic church that I was really aware of growing up was located in the county seat and up until my high school years it actually had its own school. So we had virtually no exposure to Catholics and their beliefs.

What a wonderful lead in that little black smudge could have been share how all of us have sinned and are in need of a savior. What a natural privilege to point out that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Oh the smudge! I had almost forgotten. My priest deliberately put it there this morning! I went by church before I came into work today. It is my reminder that I am made of dust and will one day return to dust. It reminds me that the Bible says that it is appointed unto man once to die, and then comes the judgement. So it also reminds me that I need to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. It reminds me that Christ died once for all, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. It reminds me that if I confess my sin, He is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.

“That one little black smudge on my face reminds me that there are all kinds of ugly black sins in my life hidden under the surface, and that for the next forty-six days until we Celebrate Easter and what Christ did for us by dying on the Cross, I need to really focus in on those sins, ask God to forgive me and seeks Him to help me to live differently. I needed to be a witness of my risen Savior. Thanks for helping me remember what it’s all about!”

“By the way, do you have a living relationship with Jesus Christ like that?”

Instead of my sister walking away somewhat embarrassed that shes had even brought it up, she could have walked away having heard a sincere, spontaneous presentation of the Gospel. When it comes to witnessing, the devil would have us believe that we don’t know how. But as my daddy would say, “You’ll never learn any younger!” How many similar opportunities are you and I passing up? When’s the last time you shared the Gospel with someone? Have you ever shared a witness? March 6th is Ash Wednesday this year. Why not ask God that between March 6th and Easter Sunday April 21st he would help you to not only be sensitive to a chance but to actually help you to share the Good News with someone who needs to hear it!

You’ll never learn any younger!”
Brother Doug

And Be Ye Thankful

“…and be ye thankful.”  (Colossians 3:15)

Well, I’m sitting here at my desk just thanking the Lord. I’ve been thinking about the “Mobilize to Evangelize” gathering we had on October 23rd. I was thanking God forthe 523 that attended representing 21 different churches. That was a hallelujah just by itself! I thanked him for the $1977 that was received in offering to defray expenses. I thanked Him for the Jordans and the marvelous job they did singing and leading us in worship. I still have chills running down my spine from “People Need the Lord”. And “I’d Rather Have Jesus”. I thanked him for Mike Stone and the God empowered preaching he did. I thanked God for the pastors who not only shared with their congregations of the event, but also for those that ended up in the altar asking God to forgive and to send a fresh anointing from on high and then themselves being prayed for. I thanked God for Fred McCoy and his diligent efforts that helped make last evening such a success.

Like the little boy in Mike’s illustration last evening said as he prayed to God thanking Him for the worship service that he had been a part of earlier in the day, “God it was just so good I wish you could have been there”. How I wish you could have been there, if you weren’t. What a call to repentance? What a challenge to pray and go and share!

But as wonderful as it all was, I know we can walk away and really not be changed one whit. It made me think of an old “proverb” – not biblical, but certainly pertinent to what I am presently addressing. I’m sure you have probably heard it, “the proof is in the pudding”. I am always fascinated about the origin of such sayings, so let me share with you a little about that before I get to the application.

The original proverb actually said, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. There is some disagreement as to whether it was first used in the 1400s or the 1600s. And the pudding they were talking about was not “nanner” or the other kinds of soft sweet dessert we think of today. It was instead mincemeat or other meat with spices packed into a casing (like polish sausage) and then boiled. Sometimes that “pudding” could go bad and you couldn’t tell it by looks. If you ate it and it didn’t make you sick, the proof of the pudding was in the eating. The proverb has come to mean that the proof is in the after results.

I am praying that proof be in the pudding with last evening’s Mobilize to Evangelize event. I am praying that it will not just have been another meeting, but that its residual effect will actually grow. I am praying it will continue to touch lives and convict hearts, and ramp up our concern for and efforts to reach the lost. I am praying we won’t just be talking about “a wonderful meeting where God showed up”; but rather others will begin talking about the powerful meeting that changed the course of history itself. I am praying they will refer to the meeting where many Baptists in Gordon County got right with God and got to witnessing. I pray that there will be such a radical change that it will only be explainable to mighty moving of God.

But I also want you to know that there are going to be more opportunities to meet together this year and worship and pray and seek a fresh anointing from God that (we pray) results in real revival. We actually have three more meetings planned in 2018. Rather than those events being at a singular meeting place for the entire county, we are planning simultaneous regional meetings that we pray will result in even greater participation. There will actually be four different meeting places for each of these three events.

These three events are all scheduled on a Sunday evening and will occur at a church in each of the four regions.

Mark these dates (January 21st, April 15th, and August 19th 2018) on your calendar and begin praying now that God will use them mightily to motivate us to be the “fessed up, prayed up, overwhelmingly loved and in love children of God, who can’t help but share their faith with others” believers we need to be.

So here I sit, thanking God and appealing to him that we might see as never before the lost that need to hear, and our need to share. I want to see that statistic that 95% of believers will never even attempt to share their faith in their life change us in the Gordon Memorial Baptist Association this year!

Discerning the Times

“…how is it that ye do not discern this time?”  (Luke 12:56)

Vibrant colors everywhere. I love this time of year. In college I learned that inside every leaf there are miniature color factories that on a cue from nature begin to kick in and out-produce the chlorophyll factories that have made the leaves so green through-out spring and summer. I viewed them with a microscope and even drew pictures of what they looked like. As those factories begin to fulfill their duty, various shades of yellow ranging from pale lemon to deep golden hues, with bright almost neon yellows somewhere in between, begin to emerge and then dominate. Light tangerine orange shades running all the way to bright Tennessee orange hues start to take over. Reds varying from candy apple or fire-engine to an almost violet hue begin to dominate.

Growing up in Western North Carolina (where the largest variety of tree species in the world exist) fall was almost always marked with a brilliant display of God’s kaleidoscope of colors. The mountains almost appeared ablaze with his handiwork. When we saw those autumn colors begin to dominate we knew that fall was upon us and winter was just around the corner. We started thinking of packing away the summer clothes and pulling away the summer clothes and pulling out the sweaters. Preparations certainly had to be made for the changing times.

It reminds me of a question Jesus asked as he spoke intimately with his desciples one day. He said, “…you can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern the time?”

We see clouds start to rise up out of the west and we figure rain is on its way. We see winds begin to blow up from the Gulf of Mexico and we discern a warm spell is headed our way. But we have a hard time reading the spiritual condition around us.

The same discussion is mentioned in two different gospels. One is in Matthew and the other is in Luke. Interestingly, and I believe intentionally, God inspired the use of two different words for what the King James version simply translates as “discern” in both instances. The statement made and the question asked by Jesus use two very distinctly different words according to whether you are reading it in Matthew’s gospel or Luke’s gospel.

In Matthew 16:3 the word for “discern” used there is “diakrino.” It is a compound word—a combination of “dia” meaning “distinquishing.” But the essence you and I need to capture of this word is that “through distinquishing,” you and I make a discernment to condemn or reject that which is wrong.

However in Luke 12:56 the word for “discern” there is “dokimozo.” This word means to “test” or “examine.” But the purpose of this “testing” or “examining” in this case is to “accept,” “affirm,” or “approve” that which is right.

You know, to be a disciple of Christ it takes both. We have to work through issues to figure what is wrong and reject them. Yet, at the same time we also have to test and examine other issues to make sure they are right and accept and affirm them.

Very few things in our world today are clearly black and white. Most everything has been blended to a muddled gray. A lot of decisions are made by what is called “situational ethics.” We don’t discern the occasion, we simply make a judgement call often based more upon emotion or feelings than the actual rightness or wrongness of the situation. But Jesus was indicating that his followers ought to do better. In fact, he declared that we are nothing more than a hypocrite if we cannot learn to discern the times.

As I have studied these two passages, I have felt the need to confess and to request God’s help in better discerning the times. How about you? As this new church year begins, will you ask God to help you discern the times.

“He that wasteth his father or chaseth away his mother…bringeth reproach” (Proverbs 19:26)

We’ve reached that time of year again, that we try to really focus in on the family. We come to honor our mothers. We come to congratulate our graduates. We come to acknowledge our fathers. And did you know that predating an official Father’s day or Mother’s day, the second Sunday in June has long been recognized as Children’s Day. We come to celebrate our children.

Even before god gave us the church, he gave us family. Yet never in the course of history has the family been more at risk and less appreciated! So many times we fail to realize just how important the family is! Often is the time we neglect or even reject family.

Both my parents have gone on to glory now. I don’t have them physically with me any more. But if anything, that has caused me to appreciate them even more.

My dad was a self-employed carpenter with just a sixth grade education. Ye he developed ways of working math in his head that would astound you. He could figure fractions and cut out a set of cabinets faster than you could nail them togeher. He could look at a job and figure in his mind everything we would need in the way of materials.

With four children to raise he often worked 10, 12, sometimes even 18 hour days, many times 6 days a week. Yet on Sunday afternoons he still found time to take us on walks through the woods, or would load our bicycles in the back of the truck and take us up on the parkway to ride. He’d talk mom into packing us a picnic and off the whole family would go on a wondrous Sunday afternoon adventure. We’d discover cross rocks or devil’s snuff boxes or jack-in-the-pulpits or the chill as well as the thrill of sliding rock. He had an infectious smile, a song on his lips a wisdom that exceeds education, a love for life and family, and feet that were so ticklish you best never touch them!

Mom made it through the eleventh grade. (That was as far as high school went at the time.) She was the cook, the cleaner, the seamstress, the launderer, the bookkeeper, the nurse, the taxi, the grade mother, the lecturer, the organizer, the tearwiper, the “hug-you-til-it-hurt” caregiver, the somewhere guilt-ridden insecure loving mom who never knew her own mom because she had died giving her birth. I never recall a time that mom corrected you but what she also reminded you she loved you but wanted others to like you as well.

Early in my formative years my parents stopped going to church. Disillusioned by a church that had trouble getting along with each other, let alone a preacher, they simply dropped out for a number of years. But Christian songs were a real part of both mom’s and dad’s life. I have many pleasant memories of the whole family singing songs of faith around the piano. And though we had no official family devotional time, the Bible was still read and seen as a guide for our lives.

Over time Dad started taking us, and then going with us kids, to church. I remember how proud he was when he found out God had called me into the ministry. I remember as well how deep his faith became when he discovered he had cancer. I remember as well how my Mother in her early seventies recognized she had just gone through the motions when she had been baptized as a young girl and came back in commitment to Christ in her later years.

Now why am I telling you all these things? That proverb partially quoted above—found in the 26th verse of the 19th chapter that says: “He that wasteth his father and chaseth away his mother is a son that causeth shame and bringeth reproach.”

My parents were far from perfect, but they were good parents, who did the best they knew how with what they had! I am so glad I didn’t waste them or chase them away. I owe them a lot for being where I am today! I pray I’ll not cause them shame or bring them reproach. How about you?

Brother Doug

In Due Season We Shall Reap, If We Faint Not

National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer – May 4, 2017

“…in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

He is risen? He is risen indeed! And with no disrespect whatsoever, I would add, “And so have many of you!” You have risen, not just from death to new life in Jesus Christ, but also to the occasion. You have stepped up to the plate and shared the good news of Jesus Christ. You have participated in “The Big Invite” and my, oh my, how it has had an impact on our country.

I want to share with you some of the reports I have been hearing as a result of participating in “The Insanity of God” video and/or “The Big Invite.”

Damascus had forty-three worshipers on Easter Sunday morning. Hallelujah! That’s just about twice their usual attendance.

Hill City had approximately 40 visitors on Easter morning bringing their total atendance to 150. Praise the Lord … that’s nearly three times what they averaged in attendance over the last year. And it gets even better, they had 2 saved and 1 re-dedication. Praise the LORD!

New Town gave over 275 invites and had 500 on Easter. But just a few weeks prior they had 700 attend a “Jordons” concert where 7 were saved, and a wild game supper where 7 others were saved! Bless HIS Holy name, God is active and alive in New Town!

Echota, that friendly church on the hill, that usually averages less than 75 on Sunday morning gave out 5000 invitations. That is correct—5000 invitations! In the process they saw 19 non-faith-based businesses give out invitations to their employees. They inspired two other churches to take Echota’s invitation and customize it to their churches. They had people witnessing who had never witnessed before. They added extra seats in the sanctuary in anticipation of increased attendance. (That’s planning in faith!) To make a long story short, they ended up with 200 in worship on Easter and saw 4 baptized. Bless the Lord, oh my soul!

New Zion had 11 visitors for Easter Sunrise service with a total of 41 there. Their “invitations sent” sheet disappeared and everybody had to go back and recall invitations they had given. Nonetheless, they know they sent out at least 75 invitations and had 18 responded by atending Easter Sunday morning. Praise God from who all blessings flow.

Meadowdale baptized 1 and had 3 saved on Easer Sunday morning. Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus our blessed Redeemer!

Belmont set a new record with 250 in early service. They baptized 12 in that service. They were aiming for a goal of 600 in overall worship attendance Easter Sunday morning and eded up with 718 and had 2 more saved in the simultaneous worship services at 11:00 am. They had 60 visitor cards filled-out Easter Sunday morning and made some kind of contact with each one by Monday morning! Halellujah to the Lamb!

Sugar Valley had one of the largest crowds in attendance that Mitch could ever recall. They counted 476 in Easter morning worship and baptized 3 this past Sunday. Glory to God in the highest!

Bethesda hit a new high with 178 attending the early service and then another 227 in morning worship, giving them a grand total of 435. Wesley got to baptize 10, the week after Easer. Glorious is thy Name, O Lord!

Salem viewed “the Insanity of God” video in March and found the altar full with people praying. They had approximately 15 visitors on Easter Sunday morning.

And that’s just what I have heard so far. I’ve been in contact with the state but they have not yet been able to compile the information enough to verify we have indeed invited a million on Easter. But if other places are like our churches here in Gordon County it is looking very promising.

Let me tell you dear ones, the gospel is America’s only hope. And God has left it to you and me to be sure it is shared. How I thank you for doing your part! I challenge you to encourage one another to continue to be about the Father’s business! May we all go out with His love in our hearts and His good news in our mouths!

Brother Doug

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