Joining Hearts and Hands In Mission with Christ

A Day of Remembrance

“I exhort…that…supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks, be made…for all that are in authority. 1 Timothy 2:1

It was started as a day of remembrance for those who died in service of the United States of America. The details as to exactly where and when it began is somewhat fuzzy, but in 1868, May 30th was officially declared as a decoration day or a memorial day to give proper honor to those soldiers who fell during the Civil War. The date was deliberately chosen since it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.

General James Garfield conducted a service at the Arlington National Cemetery that day with 5000 participants who decorated the graves of 20,000
Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. By 1890 all the Northern states had adopted it as an official holiday. Finally in 1971 by the National Holiday Act of 1971 (in order to assure another three-day-holiday weekend) declared Memorial day to be the last Monday of the month of May.

But do you recall the first sentence I wrote in this article? I wrote that it was initiated as a remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.The intent was not to simply honor those military men and or women who died in battle. It was intended to remember all those who gave their lives in service to our country.

I believe that includes firemen, rescue workers, police officers, state troopers, deputies, or anyone who gave his/her life in service to our country. Any kind of a civil servant who puts his life on the line for our protection and safety May 30th is a day of remembrance for me. May 30th 2003, my nephew gave his life in service as a State Trooper in North Carolina.

It’s been 16 years now. But the memories are almost as fresh as the air I am presently breathing. I close my eyes and I can see that little three-year-old boy dressed in a trooper uniform just like his dad’s sitting atop the caisson that would carry his dad’s body the last mile to Stuart Auditorium the Lake Junaluska Assembly grounds where they would conduct his dad’s service.

Hundreds upon hundreds of law enforcement officers from all over North Carolina and surrounding states were gathered to pay their final respects. And then as the funeral service ended and the procession made its way some three miles to the cemetery the entire distance was lined by citizens along the side of the road, heads bowed, hands over hearts in honor and appreciation of the life that had been lost in service to his fellow men.

That’s why I draw your attention to the scripture above to challenge you to do a couple or three things this Memorial Day. Number one, just like the scripture urges, while there is still time, pray for those who are in positions of authority that enable you and me to live peaceful lives in godliness.

And to make sure you and I thoroughly understood just how bathed in prayer these people need to be, Paul gave four different kinds of prayers you and I need to be making.
Supplications: humbly begging, petitioning.
Prayers:earnest, intense worshipful praise.
Intercessions:pleading on behalf of another.
Thanksgiving:The word there is “eucharistia”. The Lord’s supper in a number of denominations is often referred to as the eucharist. With the same thankfulness that we express to Christ as we celebrate how he gave his life that we might live, we need to be thankfully praying for those in authority.

Will you pray those kind of rich prayers on behalf of those in authority in order that you might live in peace and godly submission?

Secondly, will you take time this Memorial Day to thank an officer, thank a rescue worker, thank a deputy or a sheriff, thank a fireman, thank a state trooper, thank a military man or woman? Let someone know how much you appreciate them and their efforts to keep us safe.

Thirdly, would you offer those same kind of deep prayers for the families of those who have lost a loved one while he/she was working to protect you and me. Pray for the families of those who have given their all on your behalf and mine that we might live quite lives of dignity.

Brother Doug

April Will Begin Ushering In A Number Of Opportunities

Well I don’t know if April showers will bring May flowers but I do know April will begin ushering in a number of opportunities over the next few months. Like April 30th will usher in our Association VBS training clinic. Connie Wofford has pulled a great team together that I know they will be an inspiration and a blessing.

Which reminds me of a story one of my fellow AM’s, Dan, shared recently and I asked if I could share with you. Dan’s not just a co-missionary here in Georgia, he and I went to the same high school back in North Carolina. He was in the class just below mine.

At any rate, like I, also graduated from Southwestern Seminary. He finished a couple years ahead of me and in February, after he graduated in December, he went to work at First Baptist, Cleveland TN as their Minister to Adults.

In April the pastor called him in and informed him that part of his new job would be to direct VBS. With just two months at that point to get it all together, Dan almost panicked. But with God’s help and a bunch of wonderful volunteers he and they managed to pull it off ministering to more than 400 kids each day with several salvations by week’s end.

But the thing Dan remembered most from that VBS was a young boy named Jimmy. Jimmy rode one of the four buses Dan had mapped out to pick up children from low income neighborhoods near the church. Dan recalled how excited the young lad appeared as he stepped off the bus with a big smile on his face.

It was quite obvious that this was Jimmy’s first time attending VBS. One of the clues was the dress shoes he wore. Dan figured that Jimmy’s Mom must have thought that since he was coming to church, he needed to dress up a bit. But on the second day as Dan watched Jimmy play on the church’s asphalt parking lot with those same dress shoes, he casually pulled Jimmy aside on the way back in to class and told him it was okay to wear tennis shoes to VBS. Jimmy quite honestly, openly, and unashamedly told Dan that he had outgrown all of his other shoes. These were the only ones that fit. He had to wait until school began to get new ones.

Dan, touched by the child’s situation, shared it with his teachers. They immediately pooled enough funds to buy Jimmy some new tennis shoes. They discretely found out his size and on Thursday sent him home with some new shoes and socks. On Friday, Jimmy came in beaming with is new shoes on and an even brighter smile.

That week, Jimmy made a decision to give his life to Christ, because he saw Christ’s love being demonstrated by his VBS teachers.

That’s why Dan and I love VBS. It’s our chance to reach out with others across America to 2 1/2 million boys and girls of all ages for more than just an hour a week to share with them the love of Christ. Last year there were over 70,000 decisions made for Christ.

Vacation Bible School! Your church needs it!There are Jimmies (and Jills!) out there that need it! I hope you are planning on having one and getting your workers trained and prepared for it. I hope to see you at our VBS Clinic at New Town Baptist Church, Tuesday, April 30th at 6:30 pm. Who knows what Jimmy you and your church might reach!

Which brings me to another opportunity coming up April 29th through May 1st 2019. As a lead-in-to the National day of Prayer on Thursday, May 2nd I am asking our churches to commit to pray:
Monday: Prayer for our Schools
Tuesday: Pray for our Fire, Police & Rescue workers
Wednesday: Pray for our Churches & our Government
Thursday: Meet at BB&T Park Noon- 12:15 pm to pray for “Revival”

As you pray for schools you might want to make arrangements and prayer walk your adopted school and or deliver a “goodies” package to the teachers and other staff.

As you pray for fire, police, and rescue workers make a deliberate effort to personally thank at least one such worker.

As you pray for churches and our government you might want to join with another neighboring church to encourage and strengthen one another.

As you pray for revival come in a real spirit of humbleness and confession. God’s people must seek his face before we’ll ever see revival!

And of course SPLASH is just around the corner- a real opportunity to have a local hand-on ministry & worship experience.

Brother Doug

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.

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Associational News

New Town Baptist will be sponsoring a Women's Conference on Saturday, May 4, 2019, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm. Cost $10, lunch provided. Frances Worthington will be the speaker ...
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