Joining Hearts and Hands In Mission with Christ

Connecting With Missionaries From Around The World

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17

There are some folks I’d love to connect with one more time before I leave this old world. Some were from Missouri. Others were from Louisiana. We and another couple were from North Carolina. One couple came from Virginia. Yet another found their roots in Brazil. But we had all found our way to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX and over a three year period or so grew extremely close. We prayed together, worshiped together, witnessed together, sometimes studied together, at times repaired our vehicles together and, from time to time shared together plans about our futures.

Ted & Cathy were heading to Africa. Richard & Rachel were committing to Chicago. Mike & Janice were going to Portugal. Roger & Sue were planning to serve in China. We had tentatively looked at a possibility in Oklahoma and more seriously at one in Tennessee; but had yet to hear precisely where God was going to lead us.

All of us cherished our time together knowing that it would shortly come to an end as God sent us out to varying places around the world. In fact, as time to launch out grew closer and closer we began to teasingly question each other, “E.E or C.W.T.? When you are out in the jungles of Africa, which will it be?” It was sort of our insider challenge more than a joke. Most would probably have no earthly idea what we are talking about, but let me see if I can explain.

It all had to do with evangelism strategies—ways of sharing the gospel. E.E. Stood for “Evangelism Explosion” a method of sharing the good news, created by Dr. D. James Kennedy, the then senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. It was such an effective method of sharing the gospel that the Southern Baptist Convention negotiated with Dr. Kennedy to use his method throughout the convention. As such, South Cliff Baptist church (the church where several of us were members in Fort Worth at the time) had actually become an international training center. People came from literally all over the world to learn how to share the gospel more effectively.

But then someone with a powerful enough voice to be heard within the ranks of our Southern Baptist Convention began to question if we were not smart enough to develop a witnessing strategy of our own. Thus was born a close facsimile of E.E. Called C.W.T. That stood for “Continuing Witness Training.” About that same time South Cliff’s senior pastor changed. So on the “meet the pastor night” before the prospective pastor would be heard and voted on the next day, one of the seminary students asked a very direct question about E.E. Versus C.W.T. The response of; “I see no need to change anything that doesn’t need fixing.” seemed to satisfy the inquisitor, but nevertheless six months later we found ourselves shifting from E.E. to C.W.T. as an entire church. And so our insider question began. It was really a reminder that the method didn’t matter, the mission was and still is the same. We were all to be witnesses. We were all called to share the good news wherever we went. Those connections and that phrase still stir the coals of commitment within me and create a yearning to connect yet one more time.

During those seminary days there were so many connections that provided not just comradery, but challenge and commitment, and concern, and correction and even change. As the scripture itself says, “Iron sharpeneth iron…” That is why it so excited me when we started talking of an “on Mission Connection Revival” here within our association. It is a chance for everyone in our Association to experience something of what we experienced in seminary—connecting with missionaries from around the world in a way that greatly enhances our commitment to God, our concern for one another, and our call to be a witness for Him.

Based on a simultaneous four-day revival format each participating church will have a different assigned missionary in their own church for each of the five meetings—Sunday morning, Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, and Wednesday night. Not only will they get to rub shoulders with missionaries from around the world, we are praying the Holy Spirit will move powerfully among us during that time and we’ll see people come back in service and commitment to the Lord, we’ll see unsaved folks get saved and we’ll even see people get called to full-time Christian ministries.

But for that to happen, just like a regular revival, God’s people need to begin now to pray, and promote, and prepare, and pursue how God will use you to make it happen.

Doug

Continue In The Faith

If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…” Colossians 1:23

Have you ever faced an issue that you felt like you were in over your head? Did you begin to wonder if you needed to call in the big guns to assist you? Have you ever felt like you just needed someone who knew a little more than you did to come alongside and address with real authority whatever the issue was? I really believe that is how the letter to the Colossians came to be written.

Did you know that Paul never started (or for that matter) never even actually visited this church to which he was writing? It looks as if this church may very well have been started by a lay person named, Epaphras, whose name (by the way) means handsome (I’ll give you that for free).

At any rate, Epaphras apparently came to trust Jesus as Lord under Paul’s ministry. He apparently learned about Jesus and got saved while living or visiting Ephesus. But when this handsome dude got back to Colossae, he along with a well-to-do fellow named, Philemon, witnessed to folks and established a church there, perhaps even in Philemon’s house.

But then some “know-it-alls” came into the church there at Colossae and tried to upset the applecart. They started insisting that salvation and forgiveness depended upon Jesus plus something else—including angel worship and acts of extreme self-denial. Believers began to have doubts about their relationship with Jesus Christ. So Epaphras made an emergency trip to Paul in Rome to seek his advice in dealing with these issues.

Paul quickly let it be known that what these “Gnostics” were calling for was not right. He took some time to remind the Collosians, as well as you and me, that Jesus alone is sufficient. There are really only two things you must do in order to have Jesus present you holy, blameless, and beyond reproof before Him. There are only two conditions that must be met! Do you know what they are?

#1. You must CONTINUE!

“Epimenete” is how it is stated in the Greek. It is a present indicative, which means it is an on-going process. You must keep on keeping on. You must remain. You must persist on. You must preserve. You must prolong to stay. You must constantly adhere to. You must continually embrace what? FAITH! You must continue in faith. Of course to continue in it means you had to at some point in time have put your faith in Him.

And it cannot be just any kind of faith. Paul clarifies that it must be “founded” or “grounded” faith. He insists that it must be the kind of faith that will keep you to the culmination of this life. It is a faith that it is by God’s gift of grace you are forgiven and made right with Him. It is a trust that if you confess your sin he is faithful and just to forgive your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. He will present you spotless before the heavenly Father if you will but continue in faith that he will do so for you. #1. You must continue in FAITH!

#2. You must not be moved!

Every time I go see my movement disorder specialist, I know that part of my exam will involve the doctor standing behind me, suddenly tugging on my shoulders and telling me not to let him move me. It is not me simply deciding to move or not move, but literally bracing myself against someone else trying to move me.

That is what Paul is talking about here. He uses a compound word: “meta”–against and “kineo”– movement. But you must not be moved, you must be against movement, from what or where? HOPE!

And this hope is not just some pipe dream or unassured wishful thinking kind of hope, but rather it is a confident expectation. It is an assured confidence in the HOPE of the gospel—the “euangellion”–the good news. The message: Jesus SAVES! Jesus Saves!

While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. To as many as believe on Him, to them he gave the right to be called sons of the living God. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.

“My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…I wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” How about you? Are you continuing in the faith? Are you not being moved away from the hope of the gospel?

In a society where the majority think that all roads lead to God and faith in Christ is viewed as radical extremism, are you still clinging in faith to Christ alone and his blessed hope? Easter is almost upon us are you still continuing in faith that the old rugged cross made the difference?

Connect

“Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer…” Isaiah 56:7

Connect – to join together, to unite, to associate or relate. As we launch more deeply into 2016, I want to remind you again that our associational focused effort for this year is to connect:

  1. Connect with missions.
  2. Connect with fellow saints.
  3. Connect with revival.
  4. Connect with God!

Praise the Lord a number of our churches are already doing just that! Although we have planned events throughout this year to help us connect – D-Now in March, VBS clinic & GCRC in April, SPLASH Gordon in July, On Mission Connection Revival in August and a Sunday School clinic yet to be announced—we’ve already started the New Year connecting!

A group of men from one of our churches joined together to move a lady who couldn’t afford to pay a mover. They connected—with fellow saints and missions!

Another group of men are coming to the rescue of a financially-strapped church in the area to do some work to alleviate some water issues the church is experiencing in their basement. Again connecting with fellow saints and missions is a result.

Several churches have taken the initiative to join together in worship on Sunday evening. It’s just another way of connecting.

On January 6th, forty-something of us gathered at Meadowdale to pray with Dr. White for lost family and friends, for our churches, for our nation and for revival. It was a marvelous way to start the New Year and yet another chance to connect not only with fellow saints, but with God and with revival.

Our Lord made a wonderful promise to connect with us over in the book of Isaiah. The words used in the King James version are “gathereth” and “gather” but they actually mean very much the same. The word in Hebrew is “qabats”. It means to grasp, to collect, to assemble, to gather, to connect. It is a promise particularly to the Gentiles, to those who seek God yet are not a part of his original chosen people. In other words, it is a promise to you and me!

It begins in verse 6 where God says, “Also the sons of the stranger, (foreigner—non Israelite) that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants…”

Verse 7 then declares, “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer…”

Then verse 8 goes on to say, “The Lord God which gathereth the outcast of Israel sayeth, ‘Yet will I gather others…’”

For the next few minutes I’d like to focus in on verse seven in our connecting. It seems like life has a lot of valleys these days. Everywhere you turn, you see folks struggling. You find even children of God, discouraged and somewhat fearful.

May I ask you a very personal question? “When is the last time God brought you to His holy mountain and made you joyful?” I have a real sneaking suspicion that if it has been a while, it is not God withholding, but we who have failed to join to Him and to serve Him and to love His name. Does Hebrews 11 verse 6 not say, “for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him?”

God wants to connect with us and bring joy unspeakable and full of glory to us. But that will not happen until you and I are not just hesitantly willing but actually longingly, actively, pursuing Him.

Let me ask yet another intensely personal question. “How well is your church known for its praying?” Is it one of the first and foremost things that it does?

I am a firm believer that when we truly connect with God, prayer will become a vital, every day, on-going, constant and continuous part of our lives. In fact, if you’ll excuse me, I think it is time I prayed again! I certainly don’t want to loose connection or a lost connection when it comes to my Lord! How about you!

May I encourage you to allow the Lord to gather you to his holy mountain and make you joyful in his house of prayer? If you and I would commit to connect with the Lord that way this year, my, what a powerful witness I believe you and I could become for Him!

Redeeming the Time

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Epesians 5:16)

As I site down to write this article, great concern is engulfing as a large portion of the world. Isis has taken credit for bringing down a Russian airliner, has attacked Paris and is threatening to attack the United Sates. Our President has voiced his desire to permit refugees from Syria to come to America, while thirty governors are refusing to allow them to enter their states. Presidential candidates are talking of closing down mosques that appear to be a threat to national security or safety, possibly opening a door that could come back to bite Christian churches in the future as we watch our religious liberties disintegrate.

Meanwhile, David Platt, the President of our Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, is regrettably having to bring some 700 to 800 missionaries back home. While his heart’s desire is to send out more missionaries, fiscal soundness demands we put our financial house back in order before we will be able to do so.

It is a time many a Christian is feeling overwhelmed. In April, I began writing some articles about “awaking”. I spoke of how we are being lulled to sleep at a time when the risks are too great and the dangers too near. I talked about ceasing to dream of the good old days that really never were. I spoke of awaking to our powerlessness and His power – our need to awake and put on strength. I addressed our need to awake and arise from the dead that Christ might give us light. Then I considered our need to awake and standup. Instead of living in defeat, we need to see the hand of God at work and take our stand for him that we might see things change. I was on a roll.

But then I felt I needed to address some other issues as we neared the end of our associational year and looked toward a new one. But now I once again feel compelled to get back to that awaking issue. In fact the scripture I quoted above is just two verses down from Ephesians 5:14 where we are commanded to individually awake and arise so Christ will give us light.

We are commanded to “Wake up! And get up! with the promise that Christ will give us light, and then verse 16 says, “redeeming the time for the days are evil”.

I want to take the next few minutes for you and me to awake to the need of “redeeming the time because the days are evil”. The word is “exagorazomenoi”. It means to be buying up, to be ransoming, to be purchasing, or be redeeming. In other words, you and I need to go on a major spending spree. We need to be purchasing back lost time. We need to be buying back ground that has been lost. Like Boaz for Ruth, you and I need to be “kinsmen redeemers” for Christ’s bride, the church and those that need to be added to it daily.

Just how do you and I go about purchasing back the time in these evil days? I really believe there are four major ways! If you and I are going to redeem the time, I believe we will have to do so by: Praying! Fasting! Witnessing! Giving!

When the disciples found themselves incapable of freeing a young man of an evil spirit, they later asked Jesus in private why they were not able to do so. He simply replied, “This kind can come forth by nothing but prayer and fasting”.

If you and I are going to be redeeming the time because the days are evil, we are going to have to spend more time in prayer! We must reveal (not to the Lord) but to ourselves and those around us, our seriousness, by doing without (fasting) to focus more clearly on how desperately we need God’s intervention. Pray and fast!

Share the gospel! Revelation 12:11 foretells of God’s children overcoming the devil in the last days by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. We are not only going to have to wake up, and get up and stand up, we are going to have to speak up We must share the good news with a world that is lost and dying before it is everlastingly too late. Witness!

And we are going to have to give up. We are going to have to dig deep in our pockets. Now is no time to let up on sending missionaries – we need to be giving more now than ever. If you and I would just push a little bit harder to give a little bit more to our Lottie Moon Christmas offering, maybe by the end of next year we can celebrate that we are once again sending out missionaries; not having to call them back home. Give!

You want to be redeeming the time for the days are evil? Then Pray! Fast! Witness! And Give!

Wishing you and yours a truly Christ-filled Christmas and a most blessed New Year!

Brother Doug

Surely I Am More Brutish Than Any Man

Surely I am more brutish than any man…” (Proverbs 30:2)

“Mea culpa!” It’s my fault. I made the mistake. I somehow missed getting one of our churches which had birthed a new Sunday School class this past year. And it was so exciting because they made it an even dozen that rose (no pun intended) to the challenge to birth a new Sunday School class in 2015. My apologies and my congratulations go out to South Calhoun Baptist Church!

In the meantime, I feel so dumb. Do you ever do something that makes you feel stupid? Do you ever feel like you desperately need a word of encouragement? Do you ever struggle with understanding God’s word and properly applying it to your life? Do you ever feel like the “dummy-on-the-block” – that everybody else seems to be getting it, other than me?

Have you ever heard of Agur? His name meant “gatherer” or “assembler”. He most probably “gathered” or “assembled” wise sayings of his father. As far as I know he is mentioned only one time in the Bible. If you are not careful you may gloss right by his name, quickly writing him off as someone of little or no significance. Yet he was given a powerful word from God to share with us.

In the first verse of Proverbs 30, Agur is listed as the son of Jakeh. Your and my initial response to that is, “So what?” The name, Jakeh, is not familiar to us either, so we quickly move on, dismissing Agur’s background and/or his ancestry. But to do so is to be guilty of the very prophetic word he speaks.

If you peruse the scriptures just a bit, you’ll find that Jakeh was a symbolic name for Solomon. “Jakeh” means “obedience”. Solomon was the “obedient one.” He was Jakeh and Agur, his son, received a prophecy, or oracle, from God to share.

So what was this word from the Lord? You might call it, “A word of encouragement for the stupid.” Now why in the world would I say that!

Agur begins his prophesy in verse 2 by saying, “Surely I am more brutish than any man…” And then he goes on to say in verse 3, “I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.”

Now if you are like me, the first thing you think of when you think of being brutish is being “mean, or cruel, or insensitive.” But that is not the only meaning of brutish. Brutish can also mean: “displaying a lack of reasoning or intelligence.” The Hebrew word that the KJV translates as brutish is “baar” and it literally means “to kindle or burn, to consume or waste.”

Thus the NKJV, the RSV, the NASV, the HCSB and the ESV all translate that word as “stupid.” “I am too stupid to be a man” or “I am more stupid than any man.” The NIV translates the word as “ignorant” and says, “I am the most ignorant of men.”

Why does he consider himself so? He thinks himself stupid, or ignorant, because he failed to learn wisdom or have knowledge of the holy or Holy One.

But then Agur goes on to share a glorious promise or truth from the Lord. In verse 5, he declares, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.”

I don’t know about you, but that is one of those verses to which I find myself clinging. Sometimes I can be so stupid! So many times I can miss the boat. I fail to understand and/or apply God’s word to my heart as well as my actions.

Have you ever questioned your reasoning ability? Have you ever done something and wondered how in the world you could be so foolish? Have you ever received a marvelously wonderful gift, but then just carelessly squandered it away? I surely have!

But if I can just remember to run back to God and his word and put my trust in Him, he’ll still protect and care for me. It’s not just a word of encouragement. It is a blessed promise!

Are you going to claim it or will you just remain brutish?

Brother 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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