Monday, November 23, 2009

There is a Time: and That Time is Now

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.”(Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)

I just finished reading about the life of missionary David Brainerd, a 27 year-old missionary to the Indians of Crossweeksung, New Jersey. On November 3, 1745, a day he described as “a remarkable work of grace, he baptized 14 Indians who had professed faith in Christ. Of those, six were adults. One was an eighty year-old woman and two fifty year-old men who were notorious as town drunks. One of the men was a murderer as well.

What is remarkable is the amount Brainerd accomplished in such a short period of time. He was born in 1718, saved in 1739, and shortly thereafter entered the ministry, was instrumental in the Great Awakening while at Yale University, and later appointed a Presbyterian minister and missionary to the American Indians of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

David Brainerd described the day he joyously baptized 14 new converts as “a day when the Holy Spirit dramatically altered their lives.” Brainerd wrote in his journal, “Through rich grace, none of them have been left to disgrace their profession of Christianity by any scandalous or unbecoming behavior.

A year later, at the age of 28, David Brainerd, diagnosed earlier with tuberculosis, knew he was dying and that his time with the Indians was nearing an end. On November 3, 1746, a year to the day he gloriously baptized 14 converts, Brainerd visited each family in their home to say goodbye before his return trip to New England. That very evening he rode off, having completed his mission. A year later David Brainerd was dead at the age of 29. His “season of life” had come to an end.

David Brainerd accomplished much in his short time as a minister to the Indians. Like Brainerd, our lives have seasons as well. There is a time for everything. Today as you have opportunity, redeem the time that is before you and accomplish much for the Kingdom of God. I was recently reminded of how quickly our “season” can change with the accidental death of a dear friend at the age of 48 – my age! In a moment God can call us to Himself. In the twinkling of an eye our time “to plant or harvest, kill or heal, tear down or build up, laugh or cry, grieve or dance” will end. Yes, there is a time to be born, and a time to die.

Let’s be active in what God is doing and even see people put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ while we have opportunity. Let’s labor for Christ as long as we have breath. Ultimately, all of us will come to a final season, a season of death. We do not know the order or length of our seasons, but we can touch lives for the Gospel’s sake as we have this day! Remember one of our Christmas sayings, “Jesus is the reason for the … season!” Today, make Jesus Christ your reason for living! Trust Him and follow Him today. And never forget – He will forever be your reason for dying. Paul said, “For to me to live as Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) Let’s make that our theme verse as well.

Until Next Week,

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Divine Appointment in Ogdensburg

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a certain man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16: 9-10)

About 2 months ago, God placed a burden on my heart for the 27 million unchurched in the state of New York. Last week I traveled to Syracuse to meet with Lamar Duke, church planting strategist for the Baptist Convention of New York (BCNY) and Tommy Echols, church growth strategist for BCNY. We explored possible partnerships in Syracuse on Wednesday and then Thursday we traveled into the North Country to visit the churches of the Thousand Island Baptist Association (10 churches). Our last two stops took us to Richville Baptist Church and pastor Johnny Nixon, a young Alabamian with 5 small children. He has done a marvelous job and his church has grown to about 50. We felt a kindred spirit with him as he talked of both the facility and ministry needs of his church.

Our last stop Thursday was Ogdensburg, a community of about 12,000 adjacent to the St. Lawrence River, a rock’s throw to Canada. The only evangelical church in the area is Grace Baptist Church, a congregation of about 25, and pastored by Don Thoms. When we met Don, he asked where we were from. When Kenny Burell told him we were from Jacksonville, he looked stunned as he told us his daughter Stacey attends Jacksonville State University.

Then we knew, we had stepped into a divine appointment. He said, “My daughter attends church in a barn called EaglePoint! Pastor Don then noticed me and said, “Hey! Wait a minute! Don’t you preach there? I heard you this summer while visiting with my daughter!” We were frozen in our tracks, aware that we were in the midst of a divine appointment. We all had God bumps the size of golf balls all over us! God had answered our prayer for crystal clear clarity by saying out loud in our hearts, “This is it!” He probably knew our flesh would get in the way and we would look elsewhere.

Pastor Don shared his burden for the people of Ogdensburg and his desire to see another great spiritual awakening take place in New York. He gently spoke of his people and how their church wants to grow. Then he said, “Please come and help us!” We knew we had received our Macedonian call. As we debriefed back at the hotel it became clear to each of us where we sensed God was directing us to in New York.

This Wednesday night at 6:00 PM, I plan to share with you the details of our trip and the recommended steps for our mission partnership in New York. I encourage you to prayerfully search your own heart and how God will use you to help reach the unchurched of New York. Until then, please covenant to pray for pastor Don Thoms, his wife Susie, and the people of Grace Baptist Church.

On Mission,

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New York, New York

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10”13-17)

This week I will be traveling to Syracuse, NY along with Zack Casey (south campus worship pastor), Kenny Burell, and Steve Spears. We will be meeting with Lamar Duke, who leads the Missions/Church Planting division of the Baptist Convention of New York. Several weeks ago God burdened my heart for the state of New York while attending a missions mobilization meeting in Anniston and led by the North American Mission Board. The sheer lostness right in our back yard is staggering. Here are a few facts about the need in New York.

Fast Facts:

· The population in the territory served by the BCNY is 26 million.

· The area is 95% unchurched.

· 25 million unchurched people live in the territory.

· 429 SBC churches serve the area

· That is 1 SBC church for every 61,000 unchurched persons. In the south the ratio is 1 SBC church for every 1,000 unchurched persons.

· One out of 3 adults in NY State does not speak English at home.

· One out of 5 in NY State was born in a foreign country.

· 10% of the lostness of North America lives in the territory of the BCNY (Baptist Convention of New York).

· North America is the 3rd largest mission field in the world today.

· Since 1990 the USA has been receiving more evangelical missionaries from other countries than all the evangelical churches and mission agencies combined have been sending from the USA to other countries.

· North America is the only continent where Christianity is not growing.

I would ask you to fervently pray in these days that God would show us where, when, and how He wants us to “Get In The Game!” We have been blessed with so much! We are on active duty status in Jacksonville (Jerusalem). We help with mission work in Anniston and in Birmingham (Judea). Next year we plan to send more people and resources to Honduras (Uttermost) than ever before. All that’s left is our “Samaria” to fulfill our Acts 1:8 challenge.

Could it be that getting actively involved in church planting efforts in New York State is the call God has set before us? If so, will you accept the challenge? Will you make an investment of time and resource in hopes of making an eternal difference in the lives of over 25,000,000 unchurched residents of New York State?

Are you looking for a ministry in the church? Let us help you find your place at either of our campuses. Are you looking for a mission in the world? Look no further any one of our mission ministries designed for one purpose: To bring glory to God through the redemptive message of hope found in Jesus Christ.

On Mission,

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Deacon's Reward

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:1-7)

I just left the funeral service for Alice Henderson Arnett, age 95, and a longtime member of our church. The service honored her commitment to Christ and served as a tremendous model for every man who aspires to the office of deacon. Rodney Sprayberry, as her deacon, modeled the true meaning and purpose for deacon ministry in the life of the church.

Let me give you a little textual background on the early church in Acts. The early church, with thousands of new believers from all over, attempted a form of communal living and, actually, it succeeded for a short while. Then carnality entered the church. Jerusalem had a large minority of “Hellenistic,” or Greek-speaking Jews who, though they spoke no Hebrew because they lived abroad for centuries, returned to Jerusalem because it was their holy city.

They had a background of Greek culture, while the Hebrews in Jerusalem closely followed the Mosaic Law. Naturally, a misunderstanding developed. Both of these groups were Jews. Since the wealthy of the Christian community had sold their goods to provide for the poor, some of the Grecian Jews felt their poor and widows were being neglected in favor of the more traditional Hebrew-speaking Jews.

When they came to the apostles with the problem, the result was the calling of a congregational meeting. They saw that the corporate witness of the church was at stake. The apostles wanted to devote themselves to their ministry: prayer and the ministry of the Word. They knew their priority was praying, preaching, teaching, and the studying of the Word.

Now, let me say that this text is crying out to me today. This text is convicting me today. Today’s pastor is expected to be more like a corporate CEO than a man devoted to prayer and the preaching/teaching ministry of the Word. My calling is “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). My calling is to mature the saints to do the work of the ministry.

The solution to this problem lay in the calling out of godly men in the church to serve, literally “waiting on tables.” These men, evidently the first deacons, were to have the characteristics that every born-again man should possess:

Integrity - “men of good reputationThese men had to be men of honest report. Their honesty was to be unquestionable. Servants must set an example of godliness for their people to follow. And they must be qualified spiritually regardless of their position in the world or their human ability.

So the issue here is integrity. The dictionary defines integrity as “the state of being complete, unified.” When I have integrity, my words and my deeds match up. I am who I am; no matter where I am or who I am with. Some argue today that image is everything. Integrity is everything. Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are.

Intimacy - "full of the Spirit" - G. Campbell Morgan says, "A man full of the Spirit is one who is living a normal Christian life." It is the life lived in intimacy with the Savior. The men selected in this chapter as godly men lived in dependence upon God's Spirit and not their own strength.

To be a godly man is to be fully yielded to the Spirit's control in every area of life. Stephen and Barnabas are prime examples of intimacy with the Spirit of God. Is it obvious to the congregation we serve that we are men filled with the Holy Spirit?

Insight - “full of wisdom” - They were to be spiritual men who possess biblical and theological knowledge, and the practical wisdom to apply biblical truth to the situations of everyday life. That was very important.

I Chronicles 12: 32 describes some wise leaders of Israel as “men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.” How do you become a wise man? Psalm 19: 7-11 tells you what the Bible can do for you if only you will read it, meditate on it, and obey it. God’s Word is the basic book.

Influence - Notice the influence of godly men in the life of the early church (v. 7):

The Word of God spread

The number of disciples increased

A great number of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith

Now back to Alice Arnett’s funeral service. Rodney Sprayberry understood the meaning of “widow ministry.” He lovingly cared for her, going to see her often. He would take his family along and together they would minister to Alice. He stepped into her life in such a way that, upon her passing, the family wanted Rodney to speak at her service. Rodney modeled the impact a deacon can have on a widow by the way he demonstrated faithfulness to his calling as a servant.

There have been many times when I have been proud of the ministry our church provided for people. I have never been as proud of a deacon as I was yesterday as Rodney verified the impact of authentic deacon ministry. The meaning of Acts 6 was clearly seen in the honor Alice’s family bestowed upon Rodney. It was also clearly seen in the humble manner with which Rodney loved and cared for his widow. He serves as an example for every deacon who wants to fulfill his calling as a “head table waiter.” Way to go Rodney! May others take notice!

Until Next Week,



We had about 1200 at our fall festival and discovered several prospects. Pray for the follow-up on these families. Our volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure a successful festival. The ladies from the Wade Freedom House came early and stayed late. They were (are) such a blessing.

We will have deacon ordination November 22 at 6:00 PM as a part of our joint worship with both our campuses. We will also honor our new members following the ordination with cake and punch for everyone in the fellowship hall. You will not want to miss this service. We will be ordaining Tim Royster, Brandon Pisacrita, and Gary Peden.