Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Santa Elena

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28: 18-20)

Santa Elena is in the district of Las Paz, Honduras, near the Guatemalan border. Last year a medical/dental mission team in Santa Elena ran out of medicine and had to turn away about 2000 people. When our leaders (Pete Bernstein, Bob Slay, and Dave Neisler) heard the report of such great need in Santa Elena they immediately began to chart a course for our church.

As a result of their leadership, we are undertaking the largest mission venture in our church to date. As you read this we have 49 missionaries, thousands of dollars of medicines, and over 3500 copies of the Scriptures in their language. We are praying for a mighty move of the Spirit of God. I am praying for over 500 to trust in Christ alone for forgiveness of sin in our time in Santa Elena.

Last year, revolution broke out in Honduras during our time in the country. I am praying for another massive revolution to sweep the country, not one of political uprising, but one of spiritual uprising that changes the very fabric of the country. Can you imagine how 500 dedicated followers of Christ could absolutely alter the landscape of Santa Elena?

Will you pray like never before? My prayer for Honduras:

  • That God would do something more amazing than we could ever ask among the people.

  • That God would soften the hearts of the residents of Santa Elena to the gospel.

  • That the protestant churches in Santa Elena would be strengthened as a result of our time there.

  • That every member of the mission team would walk by the Spirit of God and boldly spread the good news of the knowledge of Christ throughout Honduras.

  • That the people of Honduras will see the power of Jesus.

  • That God would protect the team physically and spiritually during our travel and stay in the country.

  • That all we do, in word and in deed, would be for the glory of King Jesus.

Pray Hard! Pray Often! Pray!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Recently I came across this precious tribute to “Dad” from an anonymous author. It is simply entitled: “A Letter To Dad”

There are so many things I’d like To tell you face to face;
I either lack the words or fail to find the time and place.
But in this special letter, Dad, you’ll find, at least in part,
The feelings that the passing years have left within my heart.

The memories of childhood days and all that you have done,
To make our home a happy place and growing up such fun!
I still recall the walks we took, the games we often played;
Those confidential chats we had while resting in the shade.

This letter comes to thank you, and, for needed words of praise;
The counsel and the guidance, too, that shaped my grown-up days.
No words of mine can tell you, Dad, the things I really feel;
But you must know my love for you is lasting, warm and real.
You made my world a better place, and through the coming years;
I’ll keep these memories of you as cherished souvenirs.

I think more families would be healthy and there would be a massive decline in divorce if more families had a father in the home the way I had a father in my home. My dad modeled for his five children his convictions about right and wrong, about morality and immorality. And it is clear from my siblings that he has passed on biblical values to his children by the way he modeled those values in his own life. God reminds us that His words must be on our hearts before we can impress them upon the hearts and minds of our children. And if we wish for our sons and daughters to accept the idea that there are absolute standards of right and wrong, then we must let them see that we believe it ourselves. We cannot impart truth apart from honest, meaningful relationships. We are to teach diligently when we sit, walk, lie down, and rise up. In other words, God wants us to teach his truths in every relational interaction with our children -- even the most mundane.

I am proud to say that my dad modeled Christlikeness for me. The impact of his influence in his children is reflected in his grandchildren and I am confident it will be seen and felt for generations to come.

Thank you Dad for teaching me right from wrong. Thank you Dad for helping me understand what it means to sacrificially love your wife. Thank you Dad for teaching me how to be loving father. Most of all, thank you Dad for modeling Christ to me. You made God a part of your everyday life experiences. You taught your children to see God in all aspects of life, not just those that are church related. So, thank you Dad for pointing us to Heaven. I love you dad! Happy Father’s Day!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Love Loud Through The Great Commission

Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth.” (I John 3:18)

This week we (Jerry, Zack, Jay and me) are attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando, Florida. This year’s convention theme “Love Loud Through The Great Commission” will be what some are calling a watershed moment in the life of our Southern Baptist Convention as the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force final report is presented for adoption Tuesday afternoon by chairman Ronnie Floyd, pastor from Arkansas.

I know the report has given birth to more debate and opinion than perhaps anything else in Baptist life for about two decades. I also recognize that much is at stake. I must confess that I have never delved in convention politics over the years. The demands of both a growing home life and a busy pastorate have held me captive for many years. I do believe it is time for my church to step up to the plate, but not necessarily in terms of heavy convention activity. We already do that in many respects. I currently serve on the Alabama State Board of Missions and our church is a major financial contributor to Southern Baptist life.

It is time for our church to step up to the plate in terms of the greatest need facing Southern Baptists. The greatest thing at stake, more than any denominational change that may come as a result of the GCR task force vote of the messengers, is the lostness in our nation and in our world. The fact remains: we are not impacting lostness in a way that elevates the glory of God. The statistics reveal that we are in fact losing ground while having more resources and more missionaries than ever before.

For example, in 1972 we baptized 140,000 teenagers as compared to 75,000 in 2008. In 2008 we baptized 33,000 less than we did in 1950, and we have more churches, more people, and more resources than we did in 1950. Consider these facts:

  • 7 billion human inhabitants living on planet earth.
  • 1 billion are believing Christians.
  • 6 billion people are lost.
  • 3.5 billion have never heard the Gospel.

Is it hard for you to imagine that there are still some 6000 people groups around the world that have never heard the Gospel in their language? These facts have gripped my heart, and I want to lead my church to step to the plate in a way we never have before.

So, l will listen prayerfully as the report is shared and as the debate ensues. I ask you to pray fervently for God’s Spirit to fall over the messengers in Orlando. I ask you to pray that in the midst of our debate, these facts will not be lost in the crowd. In fact, I am praying that a great spiritual awakening will occur as we confess all things that we have allowed to divert our attention away from the Great Commission. May God be glorified as our beloved convention “Loves Loud Through The Great Commission!”


Monday, June 7, 2010

Stirring the Waters

“I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Revelation 3: 8)


Last week I was blessed to observe my Aunt Leslie’s baptism at Newton Springs Baptist Church (my home church). What an incredible worship experience of worship and praise. My aunt came to faith in Christ about 10 days earlier when my brother had an opportunity to share his story and then walk my aunt through the gospel message of personal salvation in Jesus Christ. Last Wednesday that little country church was filled with family and friends visibly seeing the outward evidence of an inward transformation. Man it was mega-awesome!

I was reminded on the drive home from Kentucky just how significant that little church has been – and still is – to the Kingdom. The impact of Newton Springs’ ministry is felt every time I have the privilege to stand and declare the precious Gospel message. You see, Newton Springs Baptist Church, led by Pastor Eddie Harpole, is not simply a small building on a hill in the country. The church is a group of people with great faith in a BIG GOD. That’s why I am so thrilled to hear all that God is doing there.Those who believe in a big God are those who do great things for God. He delights in taking ordinary people and doing extraordinary things through them. Is there an ambition in your heart to know God and do something great for Him? Every Christian should want his or her life to count for eternity. The key is to possess a high view of God.

The size of our God determines the impact of our lives. Churches with a big God conduct extraordinary ministry. That’s the lesson of the church in Philadelphia. They ministered in one of the smallest of the seven cities, and yet the believers there had the greatest opportunity for ministry before them. Why? Because they had the biggest God. Possess great faith in a Big God! You never know what doors God may open…

One Sunday as they drove home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, there’s something about the preacher’s message this morning that I don’t understand." The mother said, "Oh? What is it?" The little girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. He said God is so big that He could hold the world in His hand. Is that true?" The mother replied, "Yes, that’s true, honey." "But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true, too?" Again, the mother assured the little girl that what the pastor had said was true. With a puzzled look on her face the little girl then asked, "If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?"

The church at Philadelphia was faithful to God with what they had. And God opened doors for them which led to greater ministry opportunities. God is opening doors of greater ministry at Newton Springs Baptist Church – not because of their location or their size – but because of their faithfulness!

I Cor. 16: 9For a wide door for effective service was opened to me…”

II Cor. 2: 12Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and a door was opened for me in the Lord.”

Col. 4: 3Praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ.”