Monday, July 11, 2011

Just Some Thoughts on The Journey

I am a blessed man. God has blessed me so very greatly. He has blessed me first of all by saving me by His loving grace. I have the best pastor’s wife any man could ever pray for. Together, Kristie and I have been blessed with three awesome boys and have opened our hearts and our home for another child at God’s leading. On top of that, we have been blessed with the privilege to serve the Lord at a most awesome church, Walker Baptist Church.

The last several months have been especially trying. Being a pastor is one of the most fulfilling and yet painful jobs a person can have. As believers, we are commanded to love one another (John 15:12). In our Box family devotion time, we have been reading 1 John and one of the themes we have been looking at is how our love for one another, as believers, is directly connected to our love for Him. In fact, our love for one another is actually a witness to a watching world. Jesus Himself said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35, ESV). Love for God and love for one another are inseparable.

Over these past several months, God has been doing some great things in my heart and has even used the unkind and unloving expressions of others in this process of purifying my heart. For instance, my love for people has been tested. Thankfully, through prayer, I can honestly say, by God’s grace, I love everybody, even those who are not loving toward me. In fact, I can honestly say I would get up right now and go to the aid of any person, regardless of their love for me, or lack thereof. It is quite easy to have compassion on individuals who are kind and loving toward you, but what about those who are not? Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:43-45, ESV). So, its not just our love for one another as believers that demonstrates our love for God, but also our love for our enemies.

Our Lord has also been gracious to show me issues of pride in my heart. I believe C.J. Mahaney described it best when he said, “I am a prideful man, seeking to be humble by the grace of God.” I am not sure that I would have seen those things had it not been for the circumstances I have endured recently. Its not easy to have individuals tear you down and at the same time point to something or someone else they declare to be superior to you. Perhaps, as you read this, you know something of this feeling. Perhaps, you have people tell you or make you feel as if you are not good enough. We can either respond to such things with anger, or we can allow those cruel and painful things to be used by God to bring humility in our lives. Only God can take such things that are intended for evil and bring good out of it. Thankfully, He has reminded me that He didn’t call me to be anybody other than who He makes me by His Sovereign Grace. That is why Paul wrote, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Cor 15:10, ESV).

Finally, the Lord has taught me a lesson in patience. I have been reminded to wait on Him and to trust Him, not only with my situations, but also with the outcomes. He will take care of me. In the mean time, I will cling to Him. I will stay in His Word. The Psalmist wrote, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts” (Ps 119:92-94, ESV). I will not return evil for evil, but will give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all (Romans 12:14-21). I will seek to love everyone, to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. I do this to bring glory to my Father, who saved me by His loving grace. And I do this in the hope that the world might see the love of Christ in me and they too would glorify the Father. I love you all. God bless each of you.

Finishing The Great Commission

Imagine for a moment that you are in a room filled with people who are, you included, starving to death. Suddenly, by no merit of your own, you are chosen out of the crowd, given food to eat and then commanded to begin distributing food to all the others who are starving. Immediately, you go to work. You take a basket filled with bread and you go to the first row of people and give them bread, some take it, some refuse it. You keep distributing the bread regardless of the response. After some time, you have offered bread to the first ten rows of people and yet ten rows of people remain. So, you get more bread and instead of going to the back ten rows, you return to the first ten rows and begin to distribute bread again. After you have completed a second distribution of the first ten rows, you do it again. You begin to think of what a great job you have done in distributing bread to the first ten rows and how you have been faithful to offer the bread even when refused. Yet, what you are missing is that among the back ten rows, there are people dying of starvation, and as the bread distributor, you have neglected the commander’s orders to distribute bread to all of the people.

Prior to our Lord’s ascension, he said that we are to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). He said that we are to make disciples of ALL nations (Matthew 28:19). That means we are to spread the gospel here in our town and state, but we are also to spread this gospel to the ends of the earth, that the glory of God may be known among all the nations of the world.

Our International Mission Board has identified 3800 people groups remaining in the world that have been classified as untouched and unreached, meaning they have never heard the name of Christ, have no current access to the Gospel, and there is no current strategy to reach them. Left alone they will die in their sins apart from Christ. I don’t know about you, but I cannot be satisfied with continuing to give bread to the first ten rows while neglecting the back ten who are starving. And the reality is, this is a problem for which we cannot hire enough missionaries. This will take every church getting involved. As the pastor of Walker Baptist Church, I do not plan to stand around and do nothing. My plan is for our church to be involved. The goal of the Southern Baptist Convention is to have at least 3800 churches adopt one of these people groups. I am asking you to join me now in prayer as we seek God’s plan for our involvement. I will also be attending a conference on September 7 in Marietta. I would invite as many of you as would like to go with me. The conference will better inform us of ways we can be involved in this global effort. Let me know as soon as possible if you will join me for this event. The cost is $20.

Brothers and sisters, this is a very serious matter. We have been commanded by our Lord to spread the gospel. Will you join me and the rest of our fellow SBC churches as we together embrace the ends of the earth and do our part to finish the Great Commission. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14, ESV). I love you all.