Joining Hearts and Hands In Mission with Christ

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?

Appeal To Heaven

“Four our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”  (Philippians 3:20)

Appeal to Heaven FlagWhether you are aware of it or not, our nation was actually created on a very personal and powerful appeal to heaven. Let me explain.

Some know it as the “Pine Tree” or the “Liberty Pine” flag. Others call it the “Tree of Peace” flag. Still others know it as “Washington’s Cruiser” flag. It may be best known as the “Appeal to Heaven” flag. But whatever its moniker, it plays a significant role in the history of our nation. Nearly a full year before Betsy Ross was commissioned in 1776 to sew the “oh-so-familiar” Stars and Bars, the “Appeal to Heaven” flag was chosen to fly over America’s first naval vessels.

The American colonies found themselves in turmoil in the summer of 1775. Shots had been fired. King George had declared the colonies in rebellion. When unanimously appointed as general over the Colonial forces on July 3, 1775, George Washington quickly commissioned (at his own expense) six schooners to be used in intercepting British military supply ships. These six ships quickly became known as “Washington’s Secret Navy”. But lacking a flag to fly under Washington carefully chose a white background with a large green pine tree in the center and the words “An Appeal to Heaven” boldly emblazoned across the top.

There were several events or thoughts of significance behind these choices. The Pine Tree was chosen for several reasons. It had long been a symbol of importance to the colonies.

Known as the “Tree of Peace” it had been a sacred sign of the Iroquois Indians for over 1,000 years in America. At a very troubling time in their history, a peacemaker convened six large tribes from the Great Lake areas and brokered peace and unity in the region. The treaty was ratified by burying their war hatchets under a great pine tree. Thus came the familiar phrase still used today of “burying the hatchet” and the symbolism of the pine.

In 1744 the Iroquois leaders met with the colonial leaders to describe to them their form of government. Benjamin Franklin began publishing their ideas and then in 1754 formally presented “The Albany Plan”, proposing that the colonists form a union loosely patterned after the Iroquois Confederation. As the Continental Congress met in 1775 the Chiefs of those Six Nations were formally invited to attend their Philadelphia meeting. Thus the “Tree of Peace” began to be known as the “Liberty Tree” among the colonists and would begin to appear on coins, medals, banners and all sorts of flags– especially those flown in the fight for freedom.

Along with the influence of the Native Americans an act by the King of England concerning the harvesting of pine trees in the colonies added greater meaning to this symbol. The colonists depended heavily on the wood from the pine tree for many aspects of their livelihood. This wood was used to build homes, furniture, tools, ships, and to make fire. These New World pines were old growth trees and were rumored to be some of the best in the world. With diameters of six feet and heights reaching 230 feet the King sought to harvest the best of these pines for use in constructing vessels for the British Royal Navy. Utilizing the “Broad Arrow Act”, the king ordered soldiers to mark certain trees for use of the king without regard to the location of the tree, even if on private property. That “Broad Arrow Act” infuriated the colonists and strengthened the pine tree’s symbolism in American society.

But how about the phrase “Appeal to Heaven”? Where did it originate and what is its significance? It is actually a call to action from the pen and heart of an English political philosopher of the 17th century by the name of John Locke. Those words along with many others came to influence the formation of American government. Locke, in his Second Treatise of Civil Government, published in 1689-90 lays out the idea of a Natural Law established by our Creator wherein the government are granted inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and property. (Does that sound familiar?) Then he goes on to say that when the body of people, or even individuals, find themselves deprived of their rights and appear to have no appeal hear on earth, then they indeed have a liberty to “appeal to heaven”. And even if they are far outnumbered and out supplied God will come to their aid as they take a stand for that which is right.

With that in mind it might be important to note that it is reported that Washington carried one of these flags into every battle in which he fought. It might also be noteworthy to share that just a few months after Washington’s Secret Navy officially launched, one of their schooners, the “Lee”, overtook and captured a British Brigantine, named the Nancy, and seized muskets, flint, gun powder and other supplies that would end up supplying the American forces for more than a year. This seizure inspired the Massachusetts navy of 25 ships to defend the coast from the British. In 1776 Massachusetts adopted this flag for its own navy and eventually allowed their navy to be absorbed into the United States Navy

So now the flag stands, not just in our American history, but as an inspiration (if not a clarion call) specifically to American Christians to once more come together in unity, bury our hatchets, and appeal to heaven for help. It is a call to action to lay aside those petty issues which tend to divide us, bury the hatchets of racial, denominational and generational prejudices, and unite: in humbling ourselves, praying, seeking God’s face, and turning from our wicked ways.

Then somewhere in the future annals of history some generation to come may learn of a time when God’s children listened and obeyed the Lord as he beckoned and were able to see their land healed. May the pine tree’s triangular shape remind us of our heavenly Father, his precious Son and the indwelling Holy Spirit calling us to action—pointing us heavenward! May its evergreen boughs remind us of the eternal impact our actions can have. And may those words indeed encourage us to make our appeals where they can truly be heard and granted.

I am asking for as many churches as will to focus their worship this July 3, 2016 toward that end. We are calling it “Citizenship Sunday” A call to solemn assembly by the Gordon Memorial Baptist Association Seeking Christians to come in repentance and appealing to heaven on behalf of our Nation.

Doug Ledford

Waiting on the Lord

“…let none that wait on thee be ashamed…” (Psalm 25:3)

My sisters and I were huddled on the roof of the basement porch waiting—not for the fire department to arrive and rescue us, but for something we considered to be far more important. It really wasn’t as precarious a place to find ourselves as it might seem. It was probably about a four foot by four foot concrete slab. To get there, you simply had to climb over the carport wall out onto the roof of the entry porch below. It wasn’t for any sort of daring thrill getting there might afford us. It was instead the view that porch roof offered.

We had simply chosen that space, for it afforded us the best view of where the road to our community began at the bottom of the hill. Perched atop the porch roof we could see the very moment someone turned off NC Highway 209 onto that dirt road known as Miami Drive nestled in what was affectionately referred to as Bowlegged Valley by some and Skunk Holler by others.

We had our eyes set and our mission in mind. You see, we were anticipating a party. But we could not go to it until the ones who had invited us got back home to throw it. And so we waited, not so patiently, craning our necks and straining eyes, not wanting to miss the very moment the Meloneses turned between Rule Noland’s and Louisa Boyd’s houses and began the ascent up Miami Drive.

And though it seemed the time would never come, it did indeed finally arrive. And that afternoon I tasted for the first time, those browned twisted salt-laden snacks known as pretzels. I remember the whole incident so vividly for I recall my dad teasing me later that night as I cried with my legs so painfully cramping that it was those twisted up pretzels I had eaten were now twisting up the muscles in my legs. Yet I reasoned in my mind that even if that was the case, they were still worth it. It had been a glorious day filled with wonder and surprise. It had all been well worth the wait.

If the Lord can give us such pleasant memories of such simple things here on earth, can you begin to fathom what kinds of plans He must have for you and me on the other side of glory? It sometimes makes me long for a basement porch roof where I can see the very moment He turns up the road to the house. How about you?

It also whets my appetite of how and when He is going to answer prayers that I have lifted before His throne. It reminds me that those too will be worth the wait. I can certainly sympathize with David as in the first verse of the 25th Psalm he declares, “Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.” And then in verse three he says, “Indeed none of those who wait for You will be ashamed.”

The word in Hebrew is “qavah”. It literally means: waiting together, tarrying together expecting together.” Are you getting my drift? Praying often involves waiting. And waiting is easier done in the company of like-minded friends or family. As the scripture itself says, “Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

Gary Bowman and I spent most of last Thursday not just learning about prayer and how to pray, but actually praying. Based around the Battle Plan for Prayer, book written by the Kendrick Brothers and inspired by the movie, “War Room” the seminar was designed to move God’s children from basic training to targeted strategies in praying.

One of the things we must always remember is that praying is an on-going process. We are taught over
and over again throughout the scripture to keep on praying, to not lose heart, to not get discouraged, to be persistent. What seems like delay is really only an opportunity to keep on praying. It is a chance to remind God and yourself just how important what you are praying for really is. We serve a loving God who does indeed want to give us the desires of our hearts.

Are you praying for Revival? Have you swallowed your pride, voiced your concern, sought Him, and repented of your sin? Just keep doing so and wait! It will be worth it!

Doug

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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