Monday, August 30, 2010

A Lifestyle of Commitment

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Fifty-five years of marriage! Fifty-five years of commitment in the midst of some years that seemed easy and some that were very hard. Fifty-five years of “doing life together.” Fifty-five years of sharing together. Fifty-five years of experiencing the joy and the pain that inevitably comes from raising five children. Fifty-five years of personal sacrifice.

My parents recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary today (8/27/2010). They began their journey in very humble surroundings. They were married in a small missionary Baptist Church not far from Hammond, IN. They had no money to speak off, just a love whose flame is still being fanned fifty-five years later.

I remember the house we lived in just off Highway 41 in Hammond that was filled with the seven of us and a cousin for a short period of time. The home seemed massive to a five-year-old. When I went back several years later to see the house after my uncle’s funeral service, I could not understand how my parents managed all eight of us in what was in reality less than 1000 square feet. I look back now and understand that when love is present – square footage is irrelevant!

We moved to Fordsville, KY to a rental house, and then to another until my parents purchased the small farm in 1968. While some changes have been made to the home over the last 40+ years, one thing has never changed – the sense of loving family I experience every time I journey back home for a few days.

It was there that my greatest childhood memories constantly come to life: discovering Jesus Christ, camping out with my friends, fishing all day, wrestling with my brothers (ok, fighting), watching my only sister be spoiled rotten, learning how to dance, playing in the snow, walking the train tracks to school, all those Thanksgiving meals and Christmas presents, and learning how to play basketball with a goal nailed to a tree in the back yard.

Like most families, not all memories in that farm house marked me in a positive way: the time my dad tried making money by raising a bunch of pigs, the day a dog bit me while out in the barn, the long night I spent in bed the first time I tried chewing tobacco (I think I was 8), and the summer day I stood by the door and watched as my mom was told that my brother had drowned. Those memories are still present – I have just decided to forget “what lies behind and press on to what lies ahead.”

Today my parents enjoy nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

All their family, with one exception (me), lives within an hour of their home.

Their health, while not anywhere close to what it once was, still allows them an occasional opportunity to travel south to Alabama to see their favorite offspring! In short, after fifty-five years, they are still much in love.

So, as I sit in my office offering praise to my Heavenly Father for two parents who loved me best by loving each other most, I am reminded of the agape love Paul instructed the Ephesian Christians to emulate. A wife who prays for her husband to be the spiritual leader God has commanded him to be, and a husband who loves his wife like Christ loved the church –unselfishly and sacrificially. I am extremely thankful today that, in spite of difficult days of pain my parents endured, they were steadfast in their love for one another. They modeled the meaning of marital commitment for me. I pray that Julie and I will do the same for our boys.

Mom and Dad - I am so proud of you. I am so thankful for you. I love you both. Happy Anniversary!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Agape Love

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (John 15: 10-17)

Yesterday in worship, we shared together in the Lord’s Supper; the supreme act of love. We were reminded of the depth of the Father’s love for us and that we are called to “no longer live for ourselves, but for the one who died and rose again on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:14-15). What does “agape love” look like in a church that wants to make a difference?

Love meets the needs of others before it meets the needs of self. Love stretches beyond tragedy and touches every area of our life. Wouldn’t it be great if when people talked about our church they wouldn’t say, “That’s that large church, but that’s that LOVING church?”

Love leads people to Christ rather than forcing them to Christ. Love leads people to Christ. Love is infectious. And in a world that is starved for love, if the church will learn this principle and be a loving community, it will draw people to Christ.

The story is told of a preacher riding on a bus, and a drunk comes stumbling on, sitting down beside him. The preacher immediately took out his Bible and began reading Scripture to the man. Then he announced to the drunk, "Don’t you know that you’re going to hell?" The drunk said, "Oh, no! I got on the wrong bus again!"

The world needs to know it’s going to hell, but the best way to lead the world away from hell is to show them how to get to heaven. We need to communicate a message of love, for love leads people to Christ.

Love sees people for what they can become rather than what they are. Read Matt. 25: 31-40 and listen to Jesus declare: “As surely as you have done it to the least of these.” In 1 Corinthians 6, the apostle Paul paints a picture of what the church really is. He talks about how the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Then he gives a long list of those who will not get into heaven. They are the sexually immoral, the idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers. None of those, he says, will inherit the kingdom of God.

Then he says, "This is what some of you were." You see, we are standing beside all of these. We are sinners, too. Our list of sins may be different, but we all have a list! But then Paul says, "You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." That’s the church! We’re no different than anyone on this list, except we have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus.

Phil LeMaster tells the story of a lady riding a bus in New York City on her way to a very important business meeting with top executives. She was wearing a very expensive dress. Sitting in the seat beside her was a little boy of about 9 or 10 years of age. After a few minutes passed, the little boy began swinging his legs back and forth and accidentally got her dress dirty.

She knew a child that age had to belong to someone on the bus. The lady looked at her dress, looked at the woman sitting on the other side of the boy, and said, “Look what your son did to my dress. Will you please tell your son to keep his feet to himself?” The lady replied, “That’s not my son! I have never seen him on this bus!” The little boy was embarrassed and said, “Miss, I am sorry I got your dress dirty.” He dropped his shoulders, moved to another seat, and began to cry.

The woman went over and sat next to the little boy and said, “I am sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude.” He said, “That’s alright.” She said, “Are you going somewhere alone?” He said, “I always travel alone. My mom and my dad are dead. I live with my Aunt Maggie, but when she gets tired of me she sends me to my Aunt Elizabeth.”

The lady said, “Are you on your way to your Aunt Elizabeth’s?” He said, “Yes, but she is not home very much. I sure hope she is home tonight, because it sure is cold.” The woman looked at the boy and said, “You know, you are awful young to be riding on the bus alone.”

He said, “It’s ok. I never get lost, but sometimes I do get lonely. When I get lonely, I look for someone that I think I’d like to belong to, and I set real close to them and I pretend that they are my family. That’s why I was so close when I got your dress dirty. I am sorry.” The lady then took the little boy, pulled him close, and she hugged him. All he wanted was to belong to somebody.

Now I don’t know whether that emotional story is true. But I know this: It’s true in someone’s life today. Perhaps it will be the person pumping gas next to you, or the grocery cart you bump into, the car that parks beside yours at work, or maybe even the student seated next to you. Will you express the love of Christ to those beside you today? Will you determine today that you will no longer live for yourself, but for the One who died and rose again on your behalf? Simply: will you LOVE today?

Until Next Week,

Dr. Derek

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

God's Gospel, V

What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him." (I Corinthians 2:9)

The immortal sayings of the missionary Jim Elliott echo in my heart every time I read about the martyrdom of another missionary, as was the case yesterday (07/21/10) when I read about the martyrdom of Rashid Emmanuel and his brother Sajid. They were gunned down July 19 while they were headed into a Pakistani courtroom awaiting trial for “blaspheming” Islam’s prophet Muhammad.

Rashid, according to the Baptist Press release, was the leader of United Ministries Pakistan, a “group of believers, committed and dedicated to preaching the Word of God and helping the poor and downtrodden.” The ministry was located in the Waris Pura slum, an area of 100,000 people in a metro area of 5.4 million people.

Doesn’t their faith statement sound like our faith statement? The only difference being we say it without fear of death. In Pakistan and the surrounding Muslim countries, to say it and live brings with it an almost certain untimely death. Rashid was 32 and his brother in his early 20’s.

Allow the words of Jim Elliott to reverberate in your heart:

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Nothing in this life is worth living for unless it is worth dying for.”

When it comes time to die, make sure all you have to do is die.”

Never forget that great hope of the Christian faith – the thing we all look to for comfort, encouragement, and the strength to move ever forward in the faith – that a day is coming when our glorious King will part the skies and return to establish his kingdom, finally and forever. Never forget that a day is coming when God will make all things right, when evil will be eradicated forever, and that righteousness will reign forever. Remember the words of the prophet Isaiah:

Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,
and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!
And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness.
Her people will be a source of joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and delight in my people.
And the sound of weeping and crying
will be heard in it no more
.” (Isaiah 65:17-19)

What a day that will be. The final consummation of the Gospel! Forest Gump’s momma is not correct. When he asked what his destiny was she replied, “You’re gonna have to figure that one out for yourself.” Well, I am thankful we were not left to figure out eternal destiny for ourselves. God in Christ has paved the way for us, and it is spelled HEAVEN! That’s our destiny. Rejoice!



James Intensive Bible Study begins this Wednesday at 6:15 at the north campus sanctuary.

AWANA begins this Wednesday at 6:00 PM. Why don’t you come at 5:00 PM and enjoy a fellowship meal prior to AWANA.

Wednesday Fellowship Meal – begins this Wednesday night (5:00 PM) with hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, baked beans, cake and cookies, and all the sweet tea you can drink. Call the church office and make your reservation today!

The Loft – this Wednesday at 6:30 PM. Come early to the Basement (south campus) and hang out with other students after school, then purchase some food (5:30 PM) at incredibly low prices prior to worship. Last week we had about 100 students at The Loft. Jay is the man!!!

Fifth Quarter – This Friday night at The Basement (south campus) as soon as the JHS football game ends until about 11:00 PM. We need more cookies and snacks than ever before. Please call Jay today and tell him you are donating cookies, chips, 2 liter’s, money, an all expense-paid vacation to glamorous Fordsville, KY, etc. (Wait, that was for me. Sorry!) We do need lots of refreshments for an anticipated 150 students.

JSU students will be moving in this week. Come to the BCM about 8:30 AM Friday if you are available to help incoming students get settled in the dorms.

Deacon Elections – Please make sure you have submitted your recommendations for Deacon this week. We will start the screening process immediately so get them turned in to the office asap.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

God's Gospel, IV

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21)

Jesus began his ministry telling people to “repent and believe” in the gospel. That clear and concise command – repent and believe – is what God requires of every one of us in response to the precious gospel message. Peter, at the conclusion of his message at Pentecost, told people they must “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus
(Acts 2:38).

Paul summarized his ministry in Acts 20:21 declaring the need to “turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Later Paul described how Jesus sent him “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God [that’s what repent means], that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” So, the Bible makes it clear that faith and repentance is what marks those who are Christians.

A true believer in Jesus Christ is one who turns away from his/her sin and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ – and nothing else – to save him/her from sin and the coming judgment of God that will be unleashed upon sinful humanity in the coming future. Faith is, biblically speaking, “A rock-solid, truth-grounded, promise-founded trust in the risen Christ to save you from sin” (Greg Gilbert). And let me add that this is faith alone, not some good work or good deed that we try to credit to our account. It is totally given to us as a gift of grace. In short, putting our faith in Christ means that we utterly renounce any other means of being counted righteous before God.

Repentance is the flip side of the faith coin. It is a turning away from sin, a hatred of sin, and a resolute heart that desires to forsake it forever. Repentance is not feeling sorry for sin, much like we do when we are caught speeding and we receive a traffic ticket. No, repentance is absolutely crucial in our response to the gospel. We must turn from our sin and then resolve to kill any remains of it in our lives every day as a reborn follower of Jesus Christ. We must hate our sin and remember that we are at war with it until we are gloriously transformed in eternity. William Arnot, in Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, put it as succinctly as I have seen:

The difference between an unconverted and a converted man is not that one has sins and the other has none; but that the one takes part with his cherished sins against a dreaded God, and the other takes part with a reconciled God against his hated sins.

Whose side are you on today – your sin’s or your God’s? You see, inner transformation results in an outward display of righteous character. Do not confuse righteous character with perfect character. You must daily kill the remains of “hated sin” in your life as you look to perfect character in heaven. Until that day come for each of us as “repentance and faith” followers of Jesus Christ, we must live like Jesus lived and bear the fruit of righteousness in our lives on a daily basis.

When you stand before God at judgment, I wonder what you will put before him as a means of admittance into his kingdom? Good deeds? A godly attitude? Church attendance? Family Life? Will you say, “On account of these, justify me!” Or will you cry out, “O God, do not look at righteousness in me. Look at your Son. Count me righteous, because I have died to sin and placed my eternity in Him alone!

Wow! Righteous because of Jesus! I like the sound of that!



I want to praise the Lord for an incredible week in New York serving Richville Baptist Church. I am so proud of the way our people served the Lord. We were able to accomplish all the tasks the church asked us to do. We enjoyed a wonderful time of worship with their church on Wednesday night. Our church sent 32 to NY this year on mission. Two weeks ago we had over 40 working at Kitty Stone Elementary School. That means we have had well over 100 on mission this summer in our church. I can’t wait until September 25 and “Mission Jacksonville.” Mark your calendars and participate as we wrap our arms around the city of Jacksonville.


Tuesday at 10:00 am, we will be distributing care packets to our teachers at Kitty Stone Elementary School and Jacksonville High School. Then, starting at 7:00 pm (KSES) we will be prayer walking both school campuses. Prayer walking is praying on-site with insight. We will be praying for our teachers and students as the new school year starts Wednesday. Why not come and participate in both of these events as we “stand in the gap” for our students and our teachers.

I want to encourage you to pray for us as a staff as we manage our budgets in these tumultuous economic times. I do want to encourage you to catch up on your stewardship commitments now that vacations are over. Our ministry and mission ventures are dependent upon your faithfulness. I praise the Lord as our stewardship chairman shared last night in our deacon’s meeting that our 2010 receipts are ahead of what we gave this time last year. Thank you for your faithfulness.

We have some families who lost their jobs last week. And we still have several who are looking for employment. I would ask you to pray for wisdom and discernment as they seek God’s will in these days of uncertainty.


Wednesday at 6:15, Steve and Kelly Godwin will be sharing about their mission trip this summer at a camp for inner-city kids in Michigan and the incredible opportunities they had to share Christ. This is just one of many mission ventures taken by our people this summer. Please come and celebrate with us this Wednesday.

Saturday (8:00 am shotgun start) at Silver Lakes Golf Course is our Megan Brittain Charity Golf Scramble to raise money for cancer research at the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. This year’s event is our largest ever in terms of teams and prizes. Pray for the precious volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make the charity an incredible event. Pray as the gospel is shared prior to the start.