Joining Hearts and Hands In Mission with Christ

Romans 13:11

“. . . knowing the time, that now it is time to awake out of sleep. . .” (Romans 13:11)

One of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (at least for some people) is difficulty staying awake. Yet despite that symptom, one of the side effects of part of the medications used to treat Parkinson’s is (of all things) sleepiness. In fact, warning labels on some of the medications speak of the danger of falling asleep without notice.

I happen to be one of those who battle that sleepiness. As I battle each day to stay awake physically, it has put me to thinking just how much God’s children battle falling asleep at the wheel spiritually. Because of such, I’d like to take the next few months to address the issue of being roused from our slumber.

I am afraid that there are a number of things lulling us to sleep spiritually at a time when the risk is too high and the dangers are too near. Did you know that there are at least sixteen injunctions in the scripture to awake? I don’t know that I’ll try to address all sixteen, but there are some very critical ones that we need to look at together as they particularly relate to our day and age.

The first one I’d like to address with you is, awaking from the dream of the “good old days. Virtually every week I run into at least someone who longs for the good old days. I am afraid however, that instead of awakening to the day of present opportunities, far too many of those longing for the good old days are actually desiring to slumber in a day(s) that has/ have been idolized into being so much better than it was or they ever really were.

We’ve created in our minds a day that really never was. But worse than that, we long to bask in those days rather than face the challenges of this present age.

Let me see if I can show you what I mean. We long for the good old days, when soldiers were dying by the thousands battling in World Wars? We dream of the good old days when children were crippled with polio for lack of a vaccine? We long for the good old days when at two in the morning we were still sweating it out, praying to be able to fall asleep without air conditioning? We yearn for the good old days when we had no indoor plumbing or hot water on demand, and the whole family took their baths in a #2 wash tub?

Likewise, we idolize the good old days when our church services drew big crowds, but half the men might slip down to the spring to enjoy “the recipe” during the services? We dream of the good old days when the church house was packed, but a good number of folks were there only because social stigma forced them to be? We long for the good old days when the pews were running over, but more than half came simply because it was the best entertainment available at the time? We yearn for the good old days when the numbers may have been bigger but the conviction of God or the love of the Lord was not what compelled them to come?

Instead of slumbering in the past, we need to wake up to the present! Let’s consider that a little closer using the scripture above. Paul tells us that “knowing” the time. But the “knowing” he refers

to here is not the word we generally would think of as “knowing”. It is not the Greek “ginosko”, which relates more to factual information. It is instead a word more related to seeing, “eidotes”. It literally means: “having looked upon”, “having contemplated”, “having perceived”, “having understood”. So then, we need to ask, “Having perceived what?” The TIME! And this time, is not “chronos” time, but “kairon” time.   It is an opportune time! It is an open window kind of time. It is an appropriate season time. So let me share with you, Ledford’s reviled translation of this passage:

And, having perceived this opportune time, that hour out of sleep we should have already been roused.

Just as soon as you and I realize what a present opportunity lies before us, within the hour we should have already been awakened out of our sleep. We are already a “day late and a dollar short”. In other words, “time’s a wasting”.   There is no time to day dream about earlier glory days! Now’s the time to “carpe diem”—seize the day!

I don’t know about you but I feel the words of an Easter song rising from the depths of my soul:

Awake, my soul, and sing

Of Him who died for thee!   And hail Him as thy matchless King

Thro’ all eternity!

Amen!

Have You Prepared Your Heart?

‘Nevertheless . . . thou hast prepared thine heart to seek God.” (2 Chronicles 19:3)

Have you prepared you heart to seek God? Hang on to that thought for a minute, we’ll get back to it shortly.

Jehoshaphat was one of the godliest kings Judah ever had. His name means “Jehovah-judged” and like the desired New Testament evaluation, I believe God’s judgment was “well done thou good and faithful servant.” Jehoshaphat was thirty-five when he began his reign and reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem.   2 Chronicles 17: 6 says that “His heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord.” Looking a little deeper into that verse, I discovered that what the King James translated as “lifted up” is the word “gabbahh” in Hebrew. It literally means that Jehoshaphat’s heart “soared” in the ways of the Lord. Wouldn’t that be a marvelous way to be remembered—as someone whose heart “soared” in the ways of the Lord?

A good part of the reason Jehoshaphat soared in the ways of the Lord, was that he grew up in a godly home and witnessed time and again how God came through for his dad, Asa, and the people of Judah. Whether it was deliverance from the attacking Ethiopians or Libyans or watching society change for the better as Asa ordered the abolishment of pagan gods and a return to worship of the one true LORD; Jehoshaphat was able to see firsthand the mighty work of the Lord in and through his dad’s life.

But Jehoshaphat witnessed both positively and negatively the importance of seeking God and listening to his prophets. For thirty-five years Judah lived in peace as Asa listened to and depended upon the Lord. But then in Asa’s thirty-sixth year of reign, Baasha, King of Israel, set up a blockade at Ramah prohibiting

anyone from going out or coming into Asa. Instead of going to the Lord about it, Asa called upon Ben-Hadad, King of Syria, to come to his aid. While the alliance worked as far as King Baasha was concerned, the seer Hanani stepped forward and reprimanded Asa for not relying upon the Lord. Then Hanani reminded Asa of something it would behoove you and me to cling to each day. Hanani told Asa that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) Isn’t that a glorious assurance? But Hanani’s reprimand just made Asa angry and not only did he have Hanani imprisoned, Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of his subjects as well. Needless to say the last five years of Asa’s reign were down hill. Even severe disease failed to drive Asa back to God.

But let us get back to Jehoshaphat. Even though Jehoshaphat soared in the ways of the Lord, he too made a major mistake in his walk with the Lord. Even though he successfully assembled five government officials, nine Levites and two priests to take the book of the Law and educate the people about it to the point that a fear of the Lord fell upon all the surrounding nations, Jehoshaphat made a marriage alliance with Ahab–the then reigning king of Israel. And when Ahab asked him to go to war against Syria at Ramoth Jehoshaphat agreed. It proved to be a debacle, with King Ahab being killed and God having to come to Jehoshaphat’s defence.

Afterwards, God sent Jehu, the son of the seer, Hanani, that he had sent to Jehoshaphat’s dad, Asa. Jehu asked Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” Then Jehu warned Jehoshaphat that because of such, the wrath of the LORD had gone out against him. But then Jehu gave this reassurance to Jehoshaphat, “Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you . . . have set your heart to seek God.” That’s all it took for Jehoshaphat. Instead of getting angry and

imprisoning Jehu, Jehoshaphat set out on a personal campaign to bring revival to the people of Judah. And when a multitude of Ammonites, Moabites and Meunites assembled for battle against Judah,

Jehoshaphat not only set his face to seek the Lord, he proclaimed a fast and assembled all of Judah to seek the Lord. It worked! God gave them great victory.

Which now brings us back to that question I posed you at the beginning of this article, “Have you prepared your heart to seek God?”   Whether you realize it or not, we, just like Jehoshaphat, have helped the wicked and loved those who hate the LORD. We have embraced the world and its wicked ways. We have made an unholy alliance. It is time we confessed and sought to bring revival to our land. It is time we prepared our face to seek the Lord. It is time we proclaimed a fast and called as many people as will to come seek the Lord as well.

Preparing my heart,

Brother Doug

Though He Slay Me

What an unfathomably challenging time 2013 has already proven to be! How our hearts break and our prayers go out for Krisi, Marleigh and Neileigh, as well as the Hagen family, the family and the Trinity church family.

Likewise our hearts wrestle with and our cries storm heaven over battles of precious friends and co-laborers we find facing this new year fighting cancer, or confronting a brain tumor, or coping with debilitating back problems, or discovering heart issues, or coming to grips with other overwhelming obstacles.

Such difficult days remind me of my own life nearly three decades ago. I sat on my bed one morning with tears running down my cheeks crying out to God confessing, “Though you slay me, yet will I trust you!” God was allowing some things in my life at that moment that were totally contrary to and virtually making impossible almost everything I believed He had called me to do and be as a pastor. I just could not understand why. Why would he not only allow but enable me to come this far only to jerk the rug out from in under me. Yet from the promise of God’s own word I knew He had plans for me– “plans to prosper me and not to harm me.”

So in utter brokenness I came to ask God for his forgiveness for failing to trust him, for being so angry with him, for thinking I had to (or even could) do things on my own. From the very moment I prayed that prayer, things began to change in my life. A peace passing understanding took over and though the immediate circumstances didn’t change, I did!

I honestly believe it is going to take that same kind of utter brokenness on the part of (at least the majority of) God’s children before we are ever going to see revival. And I am afraid there are many more (in both number and intensity of) difficult days ahead before we are going to see that brokenness happen and that revival come. So precisely because of such there is something
I want to share with you and even challenge you to put out on your refrigerator as your daily reminder to live by in the days ahead.

Instead of some New Year’s resolutions that are so quickly broken or forgotten, I’d like to offer you something different. It is a “daily creed.” I ran across while reading a book written by an orthopaedic surgeon. She actually died in a kayaking accident, went to heaven, talked with Jesus and was told she would have to come back to earth to be a support for her family, and husband’s
health when their son would die.

Baptists are generally not known as being a people of creed. We believe in the autonomy of the church and the priesthood of every believer. We don’t think anyone should be forced to adhere to mere man’s beliefs. But I affirm to you that a creed (in this sense at least) is merely a confession of faith. This “daily creed” is a solid reminder that ought to keep us on track with God even
through the worst of storms and the most difficult of seasons. It is an “I believe” confession to God and to ourselves. So here it is:

I believe God’s promises are true!
I believe heaven is real!
I believe nothing can separate me from God’s love!
I believe God has work for me to do!
I believe God will see me through and carry me when I cannot walk!

Even as this year has started off so “faith-testingly” difficult, I challenge you to come believe with me!

 

As When One Letteth Out Water

“The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention before it be meddled with.” Proverbs 17:14

Have you ever tried to put tooth paste back in the tube once it was squeezed out? Have you ever tried to retrieve a raw egg once you dropped it? Have you ever tried to put water back in a pipe once it’s found a place to leak out?
As many of you probably know by now I returned home about three weeks ago from a short trip to North Carolina only to discover a small leak had developed in a supply line in one of our upstairs bathrooms. Opening the front door and smelling mustiness, then finding water dripping in the doorway from the hallway going into the kitchen, I rushed upstairs to discover the source. Once I had closed the valve to the leaking supply line, I rushed back downstairs to assess the situation and see what most needed to be done next. A quick move of some living room furniture and placement of a half- dozen buckets and I figured it was time to call my insurance.

Then is was time to start gathering up water. Some two hours, several gallons of water, an unintended fast sit down on the stairs, a removal of some carpet and padding at the landing at the top of the stairs later, and ten p.m. fast approaching, I figured I was fighting a losing battle. It was time to simply stop and go get some supper. Now more than three weeks later we are still waiting to get back into our house.

With us entering into what I have come to call “family season” — what with Mother’s Day, Father’s day, graduation, family vacations and such– all my adventure got me to thinking about a couple of scripture passages and some practical advice for families. One scripture I have quoted above.

That first part of that verse says “the beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water.” What you and I need to realize is that the “strife” that verse is talking about is not just any old “run-of-the-mill strife.” Rather it is a very particular kind of “strife.” It is literally: “a quarrel, an argument, a heated debate, a contentious confrontation.” In today’s vernacular we might say “the beginning of a big blowout,” or “the start of a rip-roaring fuss” is just like turning the water on.

Now envision with me all the mess I discovered in my house once the water started to flow—two bedrooms, two-and-a half baths, a hallway, a living room and a third of a kitchen devastated. Our house has been torn apart for weeks and it will be months before we get everything nearly back to normal. Then start thinking of all the spiritual, physical, emotional, mental havoc any sort of fight could begin to create in your home.

Is it any wonder that the last half of that verse says: “therefore leave off contention before it is meddled with.” In other words, “reel yourself back in!” “Stop your wrangling!” “Hush your chiding challenge!” “Silence your obstinate grappling!” “Quit trying to pick a fight!” In fact the Hebrew word translated “leave off” is actually a somewhat violent word. It literally means “to pound.” In other words “pulverize such thoughts or words.” “Beat such thoughts out of your brain.” “Don’t just leave such challenges alone, literally throw them away from yourself just as far as you possibly can.” “Kill them before someone hears and foolishly accepts your challenge?” “Before someone decides to ignorantly respond back to your water releasing words that can never really be mopped back up reject them yourself.

How much sweeter all our homes would be if we could all learn to do just that! And my oh my how much more pleasant and how much more powerful a witness our churches would have if we could learn to do the same there. This same chapter 17 begins by saying: “Better a dry morsel and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife.” And then verse 19 declares: “He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.” God, please help us not to turn the water loose! Keep us from causing strife! Amen

It’s Not Just For Children Anymore

And Philip ran thither. . . and said, ‘Understandest thou what thou readest?’ And he said, ‘How can I except some man should guide me?’. . .” Acts 8: 30-31

I have spent the past few months trying to encourage you and convince you of the need for revival. And while I would encourage you to continue to pray for such until our churches are changed and our nation is impacted, I would be derelict if I didn’t remind you that there are other issues and ministries that also need our attention. One such issue that is equally if not (at least statistically in terms of winning souls to Christ) more important is VBS. Though the numbers vary a little from year to year, somewhere between twenty-four to twenty-eight percent of our salvations each year come from Vacation Bible School. That is actually more than we traditionally reach in our revival efforts! With that reality, we really need to concentrate our efforts and our prayers the next couple of months
on winning people to Christ through VBS!

Let me share with you a testimony I ran across the other day. It is from Katie in Kentucky. She says:

I love Vacation Bible School! I was not raised in a church
that did VBS so it was a fairly unknown concept to me until
I started attending a Christian Bible College. Even then, it
wasn’t until I had first hand experience with VBS a couple of
years ago that I REALLY understood what goes into it. But
let me tell you this, I know VBS changes lives, because, as
an adult, I watched it happen before my very eyes. I know
VBS changes lives because it changed MY life, as an adult.
It didn’t change my life when I was 5 or 8 or 11. It changed
my life at 24. It opened my eyes to a fun-loving, adventure-
filled God who delights in children of all ages and desperately
wants His people to know him and his character and
salvation.

Praise the Lord! What a testimony! But, now you are probably wondering why in the world I have a passage from the book of Acts listed above. I do because I really believe it may very well relate to the very first Vacation Bible School! Let me see if I can show you what I mean.

Philip, a layman , a deacon, in the First Church Jerusalem had made a trip to the city of Samaria and begun to share the good news of Jesus Christ. People listened and a real movemnt of God broke out. People were getting saved right and left. When the apostles back at First Church Jerusalem heard what was happening, they sent Peter and John over to help with the effort. Then on their way back home they shared in villages and towns all along the way with similar results. But in the midst of this mighty soul-saving movement of God, an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip and told him to leave these wonderfully stirring meetings and head south to the Gaza desert.

There Philip encountered a man who had been on vacation. It was not just any old vacation but a religiously driven one. He’d been to Jerusalem to worship. (I might ought to challenge you here to personally consider taking a deliberately religious vacation. Consider going to Ridgecrest, NC to our Baptist Conference Center there. They offer various programs throughout the summer designed for families to worship while having fun in the beauty of the mountains.) At any rate, this fellow was heading back home, still excited about his vacation, trying to read his Bible. Hmm? Vacation, Bible, are you beginning to get my drift? The only thing he was needing was a teacher! He needed some schooling! And what did God do to make sure it happened? He pulled a deacon out of exciting revival-type meetings to go meet this man in the desert? If you don’t think Vacation Bible School is important to God you better think again!!! Philip jumped right on board and began to teach and to share Jesus Christ. And what was the result of this impromptu Vacation Bible School? SALVATION!–not just for he Ethiopian eunuch but for hundreds of others with whom he would go back and share. That very day before he headed on home that eunuch was baptized as a new believer in Jesus Christ! Folks that’s what it’s all about! And if you ask me from what I’ve read from here in the scripture and from Katie’s testimony, Vacation Bible School is not just for children! Make it a real evangelistic outreach of your church this summer! I’m already geared up and ready to hit the road to meet you there!

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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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