Joining Hearts and Hands In Mission with Christ

“For My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts”

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 56:8)

I have said it for years, but I was intensely reminded of it when I viewed the Lifeway release of Nik Rikpen Ministries’ documentary video, The Insanity of God, “Were it not for the prayers of believers in other nations being lifted on our behalf, American Christians would not be here today!” I want to pick up on that thought and actually expand our Associational Annual meeting challenge or emphasis for the year to a three-fold challenge specifically focused on implementation between now and Easter!

Do you recall what our challenge from the annual meeting this year is? It is a challenge to pray! But to that challenge I’d like to add another. I want to challenge your church to view the documentary, The Insanity of God, some time during the month of March.

Now I want you to know up front that doing so will take some effort on each church’s part. I have already written Nik Ripken Ministries to find out what needs to be done to have a public viewing of the video. There will most probably be a licensing fee and a form of some sort indicating how many viewed the video. (I am guessing on all that right now.) But I do know, it will involve more than just getting a copy of the video and showing it at church.

Don’t let the term “documentary” turn you or others off. This is not some dry presentation of facts; this video will keep your attention! However it is approximately 90 minutes in length so that would entail perhaps a lengthier service than several of our churches would be accustomed. Yet it is also something the entire church needs to see. So you may need to plan a unique timing for a Sunday morning service, or really push your entire congregation to let them know they don’t want to miss this if you plan for a Sunday afternoon or evening. I would plan for a two hour service. It really needs to be more than just a movie presentation. It needs to be a worship service with an invitation. I’ll warn you ahead of time that you need to have some tissues available and be prepared to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. It is that powerful!

Then in light of what you see, I’d like to couple that challenge with yet another challenge that has been issued by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. Though later in the spring than usual, Easter is still rapidly approaching and a challenge has been issued from the Georgia Baptist Mission Board for the more than 3000 churches in our state convention to invite a million people to church on Easter Sunday morning! Can you imagine one million people who don’t know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior all in church in Georgia on Easter Sunday morning, hearing perhaps for the first time in their lives about the resurrected Lord? If only one percent accepted Christ that day that would be ten thousand new believers in one day. That sends shivers down my spine. It almost sounds like something out of the book of Acts! In words that you’ll understand far better once you’ve seen the video, “Is Jesus worth it?”

Now just in case your church does not participate but you have read this article and are interested in participating yourself, I will have at least one video that can be checked out from our office.

Pray! Watch the video! Invite an unsaved friend, family member, or “pure-T” stranger (or maybe even several) to church on Easter. That’s my three-fold challenge for you between now and Easter. Pray! Place some fears to the side! Put your faith into practice! Start living in the Power of the Resurrected Christ!

Brother Doug

Come Over…and Help Us

“…Come over…and help us.”  (Acts 16:9)

Have you ever thought you wanted to do some particular something, but for some unexplainable reason or other things just never fell into place properly for it to happen? Have you ever had a specific plan in mind but then it became quite obvious that God had a different agenda planned? Learning to be sensitive to the Lord’s leadership is perhaps one of the hardest skills we learn as His children, yet it can be the most rewarding. Nothing is more fulfilling than to realize that you have worked in harmony with God to accomplish his divine design.

In the 16th chapter of Acts Paul shares of one such experience in his life. I really wonder if God had to let Paul flounder for a bit because of a poor attitude. Paul had proposed to Barnabas that they return to the churches they had helped to establish earlier. Barnabas was agreeable and thought that they ought to take John Mark with them. Paul didn’t like the way Mark had deserted them on their previous journey and refused. A sharp contention arose between the two so they ended up parting ways at the time.

Three lessons quickly come to my mind:

  1. Even dovoted Christians can make bad mistakes & hurt fellow believers.
  2. If God had to depend upon perfect people he’d never get anything done.
  3. Poor attitudes can hinder our hearing God well.

Paul and his new partner Silas, visited some of the churches. They took on Timothy as the replacement for Mark. Then they thought they would launch out into a new work. But they started toward Asia where Ephesus and Hierapolis would be, but God shut the door. Then the KJV says they “assayed” to go into Bithynia. I don’t know about you, but I don’t “assay” much that I’m aware of, so I had to look a little closer at the word. That word in Greek is “peirzao.” It means “to test through the idea of piercing.” So you might say a fair translation of “assaying” would be that they “took-a-stab-in-the-dark” at Bithynia. They weren’t really sure which way to turn. They had no clear directive from God. They were struggling to understand His will. But again, God closed the door.

I can just imagine by then, that Paul was beginning to do some heavy duty praying. He had never been more unsure of himself in all his life. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Paul didn’t (right then and there) fall on his knees to confess and ask God’s forgiveness for his part in the big blow-up with Barnabas. We do know that immediately after that, God gave a vision to Paul at night of a man of Macedonia asking him to come over and help them.

Paul turned toward Europe rather than toward Asia. Think for a minute. You and I might not be Christians today had Paul not heard from God at that precise moment!

Now I say all of that to say we are launching out into a new year. There are all kinds of opportunities to be used of Christ to build His kingdom, but you and I need to be sensitive to His directives.

As a result of SPLASH I am now getting numerous “Macedonian calls” throughout the year to “come over and help us.” Right now I have an eighty-six year old lady awaiting a handicap ramp. I have a couple needing some help with a roof. I have a hospitalized lady needing work done on her home before she can return.

Most recently, I have had a request from the Healing Hands Clinic for people who are willing to prep and paint and perhaps remove and replace carpet and/or other type flooring.

I need to know of individuals and church groups who might be willing to take on some of these opportunities as they arise. And of course with every one of those opportunities should come an opportunity to share the love of Christ and the gospel message.

Have you heard the Macedonian call today? If so, could you call and let me know. Then we’ll see if we can’t connect you with a mission inspired by the Lord.

Brother Doug

There Shall Be Showers of Blessing

I awoke this morning with a song on my heart and mind. Today however, I was singing new words to this old familiar song of faith. Instead of singing, “There shall be showers of blessing.” I was singing:

There have been showers of blessing,
Oh, how last night they did fall.
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain.

The song I had been singing in expectant faith could now be sung in grateful praise & proclamation.

The rain actually started before I went to be last evening; but my, what a blessing to wake up hearing the rain still falling early this morning. That desperately needed and long-prayed-for rain, finally fell. My heart leapt within me as I awakened to that reality this morning. I was almost giddy with the goodness of God. I wanted to shout about his marvelous grace and mercy!

But then I remembered there was a second part to my praying and to God’s promise. It’s a promise not just for physical rain, but for God’s spiritual blessing from above. Did you know it is indeed a promise found in the scriptures? As referenced above, that promise comes from Ezekiel 34:26. Did you know that there is actually a very personal promise included with it? Did you know that there is a promise from God there to make YOU a blessing?

Let me sort of put this promise in context. God has just reprimanded the priests, (the pastors of that day) the “shepherds” for not properly feeding his flock. In verse 4 he has very pointedly accused them of failing to:

strengthen the diseased,
heal the sick,
bind up the broken,
bring back they that have
been driven away, or
seek that which was lost.

There are some mighty harsh allegations. God virtually accused these men of allowing God’s flock to become prey of the enemy. I am afraid that many a pastor in our day has done the same. They too have failed to feed, and strengthen, and heal, and bind up, and bring back the scattered, and seek the lost. As such, we have become prey of the enemy. We have strayed from God. We have lost ground. We have greatly weakened our witness.

Yet God turns around and says in verse 22, therefore I will save my flock and they shall no more be a prey. Then in verse 24 he says, I the Lord will be their God. And then in verse 25 he says I will make with them a covenant of peace Then verse 26 says, “I will make them a blessing…there shall be showers of blessing. And verse 27 declares, “They shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke.”

While I am praising God for the blessed rain showers, I am still awaiting the salvation and spiritual showers that will set us free.

Some of the hymn I am still having to sing in faith:

There shall be showers of blessing
Precious reviving again.
Grant to us now a refreshing
Come now & honor they Word.

There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Brother Doug

Compelled To Pray

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7)

Well, what a marvelous time we had at our annual meeting!  The attendance was good.  The spirit was tremendous.  The challenge was great.  We were (and are) compelled to pray!  Pray for unity, pray for courage, pray for anointing, pray for boldness, pray for the lost, pray for revival, pray for God-sent laborers!

I’d like to take my article this month to encourage you more in that direction.  To do that I want to take a close look at a couple of commands God gave Peter to share with the saints.  But before I do, I want to get your mind to churning about how sometimes even the simplest of things can be misunderstood.

It’s amazing how even the simplest of statements can often be misinterpreted or somehow lost in translation.  For example, several years ago I was asking one of my students about her favorite food.  She had grown up in the Caribbean islands and then south Florida.  Yet, not unlike many young folks, her favorite food was hamburgers.  It all sounds pretty mundane until I tell you that our discussion at the time was in Spanish and I used the more formal word for hamburger I had learned, “hamburguesa.”  However, she was used to the less formal, more Americanized, form for the word, “hamburger.”  So when I said “hamburguesa”, she thought I said “hamburge y cervesa.”  Now for you who don’t know Spanish, that means, “hamburger and beer.”  My face turned red as I started shouting, “No, no, no!”  What I thought was a simple hamburger had suddenly turned into an embarrassing hamburger & beer.  Something had somehow gotten lost in translation.  Keep that thought of misinterpretation or getting lost in translation in mind as I direct your attention to the passage listed above from 1 Peter chapter 4.

Here are what appear to be two very simple, straight-forward commands.  So what are they?  The King James Version says:

  1. Be ye therefore sober
  2. Watch unto prayer

Simple, right?  That is until you start filtering it through our life experiences and understanding, and then we may miss the true meaning by a mile.

For example, when you think of “being sober,” what immediately goes through your mind?  If you grew up in a home where alcohol was abused, you immediately think of not being drunk.  But if you grew up in a home with very strict rules you immediately think of a very somber, straight-laced, not a hint-of-a-grin approach to life.  Yet, neither of those interpretations capture what was intended here.

“Sophronesate” is the Greek word used here.  It literally means to be right-minded.  In other words have the right attitude!  Develop a Christian mindset.  Think like a child of God ought to think.  And this is something you and I are commanded to do.  It is not an optional approach to life; it is a must, if we are truly his!

So how about that second command?  Watch unto prayer.  Again let me ask you a simple question.  When you think of watching, do you think of actively participating or do you think of observing from the sidelines?

You don’t suppose that God inspired Peter to tell us that you and I need to be standing on the sidelines watching and waiting for the time to come that we need to pray?  Not at all!  The Greek word for “watch” here is “nesthate.”  It actually means to “be full” or “to replenish.”  Do you see how our understanding immediately changes with that insight?  Instead of waiting and watching for those times to arise when we see our prayers are not needed, this verse is actually saying we need to be constantly replenishing our prayers.  We need to always be full of prayers.  By the way, prayers here is plural, not singular.  That is just another solid reminder that this is an on-going task.

And our prayers are not to be some mindless sort of rote or even simply careless.  The word for “prayers” here is “proseuchas.”  “Proseuchas” prayers are “earnest” prayers.  They are from the depth of the heart prayers.  They are intense, sincere prayers.

Oh what peace we often forfeit.
Oh what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Compelled to pray.  It is this year’s challenge, this year’s focus.  May I challenge you even as Peter commanded:

Be right-minded

Be filled with earnest prayers

Brother Doug

And Ye Shall Be Witnesses Unto Me

“…and ye shall be witnesses unto me…” (Acts 1:8)

The “ye shall be” in the verse cited above is a plural not a singular “ye”.  In the Greek the word is “esesthe”.  It is the 2nd person plural form of the future tense verb “eimi” meaning “shall be”.  In our Southern vernacular we’d say “y’all”.  Or in my mountain upbringing we might even say, “yunces”.  The point being, it is all inclusive.  Nobody is left out.  You, y’all, yunces, however you slice it, it involves us all.  Every one is expected to be!

With that in mind I want to share with you from the seventh chapter of Avery Willis’s book entitled, Biblical Basis of Mission, a condensed version of an imagined summit between Satan and his emissaries of darkness and deceit as they began to battle the growth of the new found Church in the first century A.D.

Satan opens the summit saying, “We need a new strategy.  Since the Pentecost sensation, our strategy of intimidation and murder has not stopped the church.  Their leaders are not our problem, be we can’t stop the ordinary people.”

Then another demon added, “They talk about Jesus spontaneously, whether they have a leader or not.  When we scatter them by persecution, it is like trying to stamp out a grassfire.”

And another chimed in, “When we kick them out of synagogues and public meeting places, they just worship in their homes.  When we have services banned, they go to the catacombs”.

As the evil spirit beings sat in silent despair, Satan suddenly stood to his feet and declared, “I have it!  We’ll make Christians think that only leaders can witness.  We can tell them that leaders are different and no one else is equipped to do their jobs.”

Then another demon suggested, “We can tell the leaders they should have authority in the church.  They’ll gladly fall for that! Then we can give pastors so many different jobs to do that they won’t have time to pray, or study the Word, or to equip the saints, or to otherwise help the church to grow”.

“Right”, injected another evil one,  “And we could give the pastor special designations or titles to make him different.  For instance, we could say he is ‘full-time’ so the members will think their ministry is only part-time.  We could say he is the servant of God so members would think they aren’t.  We could even say he has surrendered for special service so that they think their service isn’t important. We’ll make them all think he has special status and that they are rank amateurs.  We could even make them believe that missionaries who go to other races and places are holier than anyone else so that they would never dream of being a missionary.  Our kingdom will not be in danger if we can keep church members passive and we have to fight only overburdened leaders”.

Chilling thought, isn’t it?  I am not so sure how imagined it is.  As I write these words, we have just recently completed SPLASH 2016 and I can begin to see possibilities of reversing those lies from the pits of hell.  I think we averaged 166 folks, not counting drivers and cooks, and some other behind-the-scenes people, reaching out in direct witness to people right here in Gordon County.  Some may have sung, played bingo, or simply visited with a resident in a nursing home.  Others may have put a roof on a house or trimmed shrubbery.  Still others may have worked in a backyard Bible club, or a Boys & Girls club or Imagination Station.  Others may have painted or done repairs.   Still others may have been sharing door-to-door, or preaching on a street corner, or sharing in a fire house or police headquarters.  But the simple truth of the matter is, when it was all said and done more than 50 new souls had accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.  And there is no knowing how many more will yet come to trust Him as a result of our efforts.  Hallelujah!

By the time you read this, we will be in the midst of, or just finished with, our On Mission Connection Revival.  We are praying that even more will sense their call to missions.  It is only as every single one of us begin to realize that all of us are needed to truly impact our world that we will ever get that job done.

People need the Lord!  But you may be the very one God intends to tell them.  As someone said to me just the other day, “I don’t know about you, but God is convicting me that I need to be doing a whole lot more about sharing Jesus with others.”  Could God be saying the same to you and me?

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A Big Thank You to Trinity for hosting the “Mobilize to Evangelize” with special music by Jordan Family Band and special speaker Mike Stone. All was blessed by being there ...
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