Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Let’s Not Lose Our “Jerusalem”

“The Old saying (well at least since “God for Us”) is “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.”  While this is a timeless truth, the “Praise and Worship’' revival made the saying a part of every Church and Christian’s life.  He is ‘good’ and He is ‘good all the time.’ AMEN.
These are the words which I carry in my heart today.  At the beginning of 2016 God goodness called and brought me to a new ministry position, an Associational Missions Director.  Having worked in and around Southern Baptist Associations for 40 years in almost every position and on every committee imaginable, already I feel at home in this vocational work.  Although God is good is all He does, He has especially been good to me in that, He has resisted every opportunity I’ve given Him (over my lifetime) to “Through me under the bus” AND He continues to give me health, strength, and the heart to join Him in His Kingdom’s work of purveying His word.  Coming to this position as an Associational Missions Director and now giving the task of a “Missionary” gives me a great pause because not just the WORLD, but the American Culture is in desperate need of a renewing, refreshing, reawakening, and reviving touch from God through His manifest Holy Spirit.  I long to be a catalyst in this process.
Let’s face it, TODAY, the big thing we hear is to “GO”.  This is good because ‘going’  was always Jesus’ beginning point.  In Matthew 4 after His temptation, Jesus called the new disciples to Himself and then we are told ‘going on from there.’  Jesus began by ‘leading them to “GO.”  After concluding the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus came down off of the mountain, healed the leper, and told Him to “Go”.  By the end of Matthew 8, He had also told the Centurion to “GO.”  In Matthew 10 He sent the disciples out by saying, “As you GO.”  This theme continued TO and THROUGH the experience of the cross finding its pinnacle in Matthew 28 and by extension Acts 2.  The call is and always will be to “GO.” 
So many people, specifically preachers, are so fixed on ‘their definition’ of the word “GO” that they seem (maybe they haven’t, but it sure seems like they have) missed the priority of Jesus’ commission.  It is true that we need to “Go” to the foreign land in a strategic and effective way to win the lost to faith and make disciples of those who trust in Jesus.  It is equally true that we need to “Go” to the “Pioneer” areas of this great land, to those who have not had the opportunity to hear and respond to Christ by faith.  This must be a part of ‘who we are’ because of ‘whose we are.’ 
Having said that, this is where many people are today.  We are going places, starting Bible Studies, creating preaching points, and planting new churches.  This is the spiritual movement of today.  From this movement, many good and great things are happening and I pray continue to happen.
My heart-cry is this:  Let us not lose our Jerusalem trying to reach the utter most part of the world.  Our Judea, our Samaria, and the rest of the world are vitally important, but if we lose our Jerusalem, then we have no base from which to launch our mission.  Besides that, if we lose our Jerusalem, then we lose our earthly families, our loved ones, & our friends.  One of the saddest attitudes that I hear these days is; “They had their chance, they have plenty of churches in their area, it’s time to move on’ or “We need to spend our money elsewhere.” 
Additionally, people (actually many ministers) seem to desire to abandon the ministry of the State Conventions and Associations in lieu of supporting pioneer for what we call International Missions.  Certainly these missions should be a part of our mission strategy, but let’s not abandon our JERUSALEM as this was Jesus’ first priority of Acts 1:8.
Statistics tell me that the two counties I have responsibility for have a lost rate of 60% and today I was told by a pastor friend of a different denomination that his statistics indicate that every county in Mississippi has no more than 40% in the faith and connected to a church.  While we do not need to abandon our mission beyond the state borders, WE MUST, WE MUST, WE MUST, invest time, effort, energy, and yes, money to reach our Jerusalem for Jesus.  Jerusalem represents the heart, soul, and center of our faith
What will it gain a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul – “Jesus”
Let’s not lose our soul. 

Sunday, February 07, 2016

A New Beginning

When most of my friends & many colleagues are announcing their retirements, I am grateful that God has seen fit to give me a new assignment AND I am THANKFUL for that new assignment.  For the last 41 years Deboria and I have moved around the southeast doing our best to serve the Lord wherever we were.  This has been a great 'turn of the page' and a 'new chapter' in life and ministry.

For over 15 years, I served as a "Music Minister" (today called a "Worship Minister") and then, after getting my relationship with God in order, God called me to preach - which I have attempted to do since 1992.  God is good as in my weakness HE has always been strong.  Through the good & the not so good, God has been a constant companion, encourager, and leader ever by applying discipline as I've needed it.  As I have said many times in the pulpit, "I am thankful God has never taken the many opportunities I have given Him to 'throw me under the bus', but rather has always been patient with me and my loving Father.  Today His faithfulness, goodness and mercy, continues to follow me.

On January 1, 2016, God opened a very special door of ministry which is indeed a new direction for me.  Becoming the Associational Missions Director for the George Greene Baptist Association has already proven to be such a blessing that any words seem to fall short.  After only one month with this responsibility, I feel both honored and humbled.  So many great people in this area are followers of Christ, so much comradery, and still so much work to be done, - and I honestly believe we can "Reach the World From South Mississippi." 

This transition has felt a little like I imagine Joshua feeling when, in Joshua 1, God told Joshua, "Get up and GO".  To the wonderful churches, the great churches, and the outstanding pastors, I say 'thanks' for your prayers, support, and willingness to allow the Lord to lead.  God's best is yet to come.  GRACE.

BY THE WAY, if you read this, please OFFER A PRAYER that God will intervene and help us sell our house very quickly.  MY WIFE NEEDS ME.  GRIN.

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