Praying for our Missionaries

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Every time missionaries step foot in our churches, they ask us to pray for them.  Every time a missionary sends a letter, he or she mentions some specific prayer requests.  Yet, since it can be difficult to track all of the individual needs of each missionary that we support, we tend to pray something like this, “God, bless our missionaries!”  Am I right?

A few months ago I ran across some words written by the original pioneer, church-planting missionary, the Apostle Paul.  In his letter to the Christians in Rome, he asked for prayer in some specific areas:

Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. (Romans 15:30-32)

I believe that we could have a powerful impact in the lives of our missionaries if we were to specifically intercede for them and ask God to grant them:

  1. Deliverance. Paul was under genuine threat from the unbelieving Jews in the Jerusalem area.  He also faced dangers and threats elsewhere in his travels.  The same is true for all of our missionaries.  Some live in areas of political and social unrest.  All of them live a lifestyle of constant travel, which poses its own risks.  We all face spiritual assault from our enemy.  We must pray that our missionaries be delivered from danger.
  2. Acceptance. Paul was involved in a commendable effort to bless the saints in Jerusalem.  Churches across the first-century world had partnered together (through Faith Promise!) to bless the suffering believers in Israel.  And yet, even though these ministry intentions were good, it did not guarantee that it would be well-received.  Missionaries give of their heart, time, and resources to bless the people they are ministering to around the world.  They travel the country sharing their burden and the cause of world missions with pastors and churches.  These efforts and intentions are amazing, and yet, it does not guarantee that they will be well-received.  We must pray that our missionaries’ efforts and service be accepted.
  3. Joy. We would like to assume that Paul was always filled with joy as he traveled and served the LORD.  But if you have been involved in ministry for long, you know that there are countless circumstances and experiences that drain or steal our joy.  And when we aren’t serving with joy, it can become miserable!  Missionaries (as anyone else) need God to be their Source of joy, and to lift them up as they press on in carrying out the will of God.  We must pray that our missionaries be filled with joy as they serve.
  4. Refreshment. Serving God in any ministry, and in any location, can be exhausting physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  That reality is exponentially greater when a missionary is far removed from his family, home church, and native culture.  The isolation can be brutal at times.  Even when missionaries return for “furlough,” it is often far from a time of rest and renewal, as they need to report to their supporters, which involves constant travel.  We must pray that our missionaries intentionally seek times of personal, marital, and family refreshment while they are on the field, and especially while they are on furlough, and we must be their greatest cheerleaders as they do so.

Yes, we want God to “bless our missionaries.”  But I invite you to take Paul’s prayer requests, and make them a regular part of your prayer for missionaries.  The impact will be greater than you can imagine.

WBF President’s Post: Did You Know?

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This is an exciting time to be a part of World Baptist Fellowship!  God is doing a renewing work in many of our hearts and churches as we seek to become more engaged and effective in reaching lost souls for Christ and planting autonomous, reproducing churches around the United States and around the world.  It is an honor to lead our national Fellowship at this crucial moment in our history.

In the months that I have been serving as president, I have learned (or been reminded of) some things about World Baptist Fellowship that you may not be aware of:

  1. World Baptist Fellowship is an affiliation of three autonomous corporations: World Baptist Fellowship, Inc. (national fellowship), Arlington Baptist College, Inc., and World Baptist Fellowship Mission Agency, Inc. Each has its own Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws.  That means that no one entity speaks for the other two.  That means that no one entity exercises authority over the other two.  That means that the decisions of one do not always reflect the perspective of the other two.  Each corporation has its own purpose and function – connected, yet distinct.
  2. World Baptist Fellowship is a partnership of churches, not pastors. Our national Fellowship, unlike others in fundamental Baptist circles, is a network of churches.  Each church that chooses to be affiliated with WBF and any of its approved ministries can have up to three (3) voting delegates.  These delegates are submitted by each pastor on an annual basis, and are the ones who nominate and elect individuals to serve in different capacities.
  3. World Baptist Fellowship ministries share the same Statement of Faith. The World Baptist Fellowship, Arlington Baptist College, and WBF Mission Agency each hold to exactly the same doctrinal positions, which unite us as fundamental Baptists.  This Statement of Faith appears in the By-Laws of each corporation.  There are specific issues that we disagree on (sometimes intensely!), but we respect the autonomy of each local church and church planter, while holding to the same Statement of Faith.  There is far more that unites us than divides us.
  4. World Baptist Fellowship ministries are linked through the election process. Even though each corporation is autonomous, they are directly linked and held accountable to one another through the annual Election of Officers.  The General Assembly of World Baptist Fellowship chooses the individuals who will serve as the Board of Directors of Arlington Baptist College and the Mission Committee of the World Baptist Fellowship.  These directors and committeemen are chosen to represent the values and mission of the national Fellowship.  This keeps us all connected.

The ministries of World Baptist Fellowship, as well as the churches and pastors of World Baptist Fellowship, are dependent upon one another.  The success or failure of one ministry directly impacts the others.  We are not in competition.  We are on the same team, and our cause is the Greatest Cause in human history!

I encourage you to get engaged in the regional and national efforts of World Baptist Fellowship.  Pray for me and our national officers and Board of Directors as we have begun to tackle some structural issues within our national Fellowship.  We are committed to bringing greater clarity around our mission and vision, and are restructuring how we function to allow greater representation and participation from pastors, regional fellowships, and missionaries.  It is an exciting time to be a part of World Baptist Fellowship!  Will you partner with us?

WBF President’s Post: We Are World Baptist Fellowship

Who are we?  What exactly is the World Baptist Fellowship?  What difference does it make anyway?  As we seek God’s leadership and direction, and confront the needs and challenges in our world and in our church ministries, I have found that it is often helpful to come back to our identity and purpose as a fellowship of churches.  I believe our name says it all:

World – World missions, world evangelism, and church planting is our passion, inspired by the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Baptist – We clearly and unapologetically adhere to Baptist distinctives and doctrine.  From Biblical authority and the autonomy of the local church to the two offices and ordinances given to the local church, we share a common doctrine that has uniquely identified our faith and forefathers back to the very times of Christ and the apostles.  As fundamental Baptists we hold to the “fundamentals” that have been under attack in recent centuries, such as the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures, the virgin birth and deity of Christ, and the bodily resurrection and return of Christ.
Fellowship – We are not a denomination, but an informal network of churches, distinct and diverse in many ways, but united and like-minded in our commitment to the Word of God and to the Great Commission, believing that together we can accomplish far more for the cause of Christ than any of our churches could ever accomplish alone.

If you believe in these principles, and have a broken heart for the unreached millions around our nation and around the world, I invite you to be a part of World Baptist Fellowship.  I want to challenge all pastors and churches, that are connected in any way to World Baptist Fellowship, to commit to helping us engage one another as churches and expand our partnerships around the country.  Imagine the impact we could have every year for the Kingdom of God:

  • If pastors challenged and led their congregations to multiply and plant a new church in the next 12 to 18 months (in their own region or even further away)
  • If regional fellowships committed their resources (volunteer teams and equipment) to rally around a new or struggling church with outreach events or targeted efforts
  • If the national fellowship selected a home missions church planter to highlight each year with a strategic project that would give them a massive boost forward
  • If pastors in unengaged regions prayed about starting new regional fellowships, such as on the west coast, the central plains, or the northeast
  • If missionaries had a constantly growing and multiplying network of churches that they could contact for financial partnerships in their global calling

Yes, we need to gather for inspiration and encouragement with other pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders.  But one of the greatest ways to fuel that inspiration and encouragement as a fellowship is to cast and pursue a strategic vision together, and to gather to celebrate specific goals that have been accomplished by serving together.  We must not just be a fellowship of convictions and values, but of actions and teamwork.  Imagine what God will do!

I invite you to get engaged (or re-engaged) with World Baptist Fellowship, through our national and regional conferences, through our fellowship projects and initiatives, and through our Mission Agency and college.  Our next national meeting will be hosted by Connersville Baptist Temple, in Connersville, Indiana, under the leadership of Pastor Tim Billups (October 10-12, 2016).  Join World Baptist Fellowship in our efforts to partner together to reach the world.

 

The Key to a Powerful Prayer Life

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I believe in the power of prayer.  I believe that you believe in the power of prayer, or you probably wouldn’t invest the time to go to a prayer meeting, or to spend personal time in prayer.  I imagine that you could tell stories of answered prayers in your life, and you can probably quote some verses that refer to the power of prayer.  But let me challenge you to dig into a verse that gives one of the keys to a powerful prayer life.

In the last chapter of his epistle in the New Testament, James pens an entire passage that illustrates the power of prayer, when we are going through trials, when we are sick, or when we have sinned.  He even gives an example of a powerful prayer warrior named Elijah.  But all of these thoughts culminate in the phrase at the end of vs 16: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  Let’s dig into those words, and try to discover the key to a powerful prayer life.

Digging Into The Text

An important part of studying a text is to define the words, not so much in the secondary language (English), but in the words originally used by the author, and inspired by God Himself.

  • Effectual fervent – In English these are two words, but they are translated for a single word in Greek.  These two words appear in the KJV in other places, but are not always the same original word. James uses the word energeo, which means to work, function, produce, be in action.  In other parts of the KJV New Testament energeo has been translated “accomplish,” “brought about,” “effective,” ” effectually worked,” “performs … work,” and “works.”  The idea is pretty clear.  James is referring to prayer that actually accomplishes things, that gets things done in the spiritual realm.
  • Availeth – The word James used is ischyo, which means to be strong, powerful, mighty; to be capable of, to be healthy.  In other New Testament places it is translated into English as “able,” “strong enough,” can do,” “healthy,” “overpowered.”  That power and potential is intensified by the word “much,” (Gk poly: many, much).  In other words, prayer can reach a place of great power, tremendous might, incredible strength.
  • Righteous man – These two words also come from a single Greek word: dikaios.  It speaks of a person who is righteous, just, and upright before God.  It speaks of someone’s personal relationship with God.  The other phrases in this verse revolve around this one, point back to this one.

So, as we bring these words and definitions together, we see that prayer has unbelievable power and potential to accomplish great things, to perform unbelievable works, to be incredibly effective in someone’s life and in the Kingdom of God.  But here is the key: it all revolves around a person’s relationship and standing with God.  They key to a powerful prayer life is your own walk with God.

God Promises to Bless the Righteous

All throughout the Scriptures you read of promise after promise, blessing after blessing, that are directed at the righteous, the just, those who are upright before God.

  • Psalm 5:12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.
  • Psalm 34:15, 17, 19 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. …The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. … Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
  • Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
  • Proverbs 11:28, 30 He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch. …The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
  • Proverbs 15:6, 29 In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble. …The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
  • Proverbs 21:21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

There are so many more passages we could read, but you get the point.  There is a direct link between the righteous (those who pursue righteousness and godliness in their life) and the promises and blessings from God.  And those promises include your prayer life.

The term righteous does not speak of people who are perfect or sinless, but of those who have humbled themselves before God in repentance, and have been clothed by the righteousness of Jesus.  Righteousness always comes through repentance and faith, not just to be saved, but also to walk uprightly as a Christian.  These promises are for believers who walk in submission, obedience, and humility before the Lord Jesus Christ.

You want to have a powerful prayer life like Elijah?  A prayer life that gets amazing things done?  The most important thing you can do is examine your heart before God (Psalm 139:23-24).  So, how is your walk with God?  Perhaps before asking God to do anything for you, the best place to begin is by asking God to look inside you.  “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

A Message for America

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Every Fourth of July, as we celebrate our Independence Day, we sing songs that celebrate the blessings of God upon America.

America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!

God Bless America

God bless America, land that I love, Stand beside her and guide her

Through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans white with foam,

God bless America, My home sweet home.

Star Spangled Banner

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Even though I am an American, and can be biased, I believe it is safe to say that no nation in history has been blessed by God in the unique way that the United States of America has been.  This does not mean that we are God’s chosen nation (that title belongs only to the nation of Israel), nor that we are superior or of greater value than anyone else, but we have undoubtedly been one of God’s blessed nations.

God has blessed the USA, and has brought us through tragedy, conflict, war, and countless other challenges. But we make a serious mistake if we presume that God’s blessings on America will always be there, that He will bless us no matter what.  Nor can we go to the other extreme and begin to preach doom and gloom on America because we have drifted so incredibly far from God and the Bible.

I want to share with you a message that was first delivered to the nation of Israel, but that was also directed at any and all nations, including the USA. It is A Message for America.  It reminds us that the future of our nation, the future of God’s blessings, rests at the heart of our country.  And the key to turning our heart back to God is not found in politicians, lawmakers, and courtrooms.  It is found in the local church.  It is found in the Gospel (Jeremiah 18:1-10).

I love it when God uses object lessons to get His point across.  In these verses we find that God sent the prophet Jeremiah on a field trip.  He sent him down to the potter’s house, to watch this craftsman do his work (vs 1-2).  When Jeremiah got down there, he began watching the potter mold and shape a vessel out of clay.  At one point, the potter saw something he didn’t like in that vessel, so he lumped it together and started over.  Here was the key: the potter did whatever he wanted to do with the clay (vs 3-4).  That is when God began to make his point (vs 5-6). 

The LORD stated emphatically that He is the Potter, and the nation of Israel is the clay, and the LORD has every right to do as He pleases with this nation.  The clay has no rights to demand, or explanations to demand.

Romans 9:20–21 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

The LORD then makes a couple of statements that we, as Americans, but more importantly, as Christians, need to take to heart:

 

No matter how blessed a nation has been, it can forfeit God’s blessings (vs 9-10).

God says that even if a nation is on a positive trajectory, even if it has a positive track record, and is experiencing the blessings of God, it cannot presume or assume that those blessings will always be there no matter what.  God is not under any obligation to bless them, especially when they begin making choices against Him.  That is exactly what had happened to the nation of Israel.  King David had been graciously given amazing promises by God, promises of an eternal kingdom, and those blessings were experienced for generations.  But even Solomon, the wisest and most blessed man in human history, began to make choices and to walk a path that was contrary to the Word and will of God, and it was his son who would experience a civil war and the dividing of the nation.

There are those who presume that God is somehow on the hook to bless us, simply because we wave the “Red, White, and Blue,” or we travel with an American passport.  It is undeniable that God has blessed us indescribably as a nation, but we are foolish to presume or assume that those blessings will continue just because we are Americans, regardless of the paths that we choose.

As a church, we must also be careful not to presume that God’s blessings will always be upon us, no matter what we choose, how we walk or behave.  God has blessed Vandalia Baptist Temple in unbelievable ways over the past 60 years, but just because God has blessed, and is currently blessing, we can make choices that forfeit the blessings of God.  We can lose focus on what truly matters to God, and why we exist as a church, and God is not on the hook to continue blessing.  In fact, when we begin to focus more on ourselves, on our preferences, on our comforts, on our traditions, on “holding the fort,” and not on doing whatever it takes to reach our community, to make and multiply disciples, to plant multiplying churches, God can pull His hand of blessing back at any time.

The same is true of your life individually.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you have walked with God, pleased God, and served God in the past, and God has blessed you and your family for it, that God is somehow on the hook to continue to bless you for the rest of your life, regardless of the choices you are making today.  God does not owe you and me anything!  He is the Potter, we are nothing but clay.  When your life, heart, and attitude no longer are pleasing to God, you too can forfeit God’s blessings.  It is true of our nation, of our church, of our families, and of our own heart.  But the opposite is true as well:

 

No matter how evil a nation has been, it can obtain God’s blessings (vs 7-8).

There is never a shortage of doom-and-gloom prophets.  Of course, many people thought that that was what Jeremiah was in his day!  But the truth is, God is always a God of grace, and God is always willing to receive those who turn to Him, no matter how far they have strayed.  That was the situation in Israel.  God’s people had turned their back on God for generations, and were now experiencing the heavy hand of God’s judgment.  But God’s message was clear: any nation, even if it is on the path to destruction, even if it appears that all hope is lost, can once again obtain God’s blessings.  It was true of Israel.  It was true of Ninevah in Jonah’s day.  It is also true of America.

Yes, our nation has not just drifted away from God, it seems that we are on a sprint to run as far away from His Word, His values, and His principles as we possibly can.  We are calling right wrong, and wrong right; we are calling good evil, and evil good. 

Isaiah 5:20  Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

We are not just defying God’s Word, but we are celebrating it, and encouraging others who are doing so.  Christians get slaughtered around the country or around the world, and virtually nothing is said from our nation’s capital, but homosexuals are allowed to be recognized as “husband and wife,” and our White House gets decorated with the colors of the rainbow.  God-fearing Christians are called bigots, and Christian-hating liberals are called open-minded and tolerant.  Everything seems backwards, or upside down!  It’s like we are Alice in Wonderland:

Alice: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

Cheshire Cat: “I’m not crazy. My reality is just different than yours.”

Sounds like America, doesn’t it?

That is why some Christians have virtually written America off when it comes to God’s blessings.  We are headed for condemnation and there’s no turning back.  Even extremist groups are pointing to every act of violence, every murder, every act of terrorism as the final judgment of God upon America.

But remember what God says here in Jeremiah.  Even if God has already set in motion a plan to pluck up, pull down, and destroy a nation, He is still willing to reverse course, hold back the judgment and extend grace, mercy, and blessings.  There is still hope!

That can also be said of a church.  Just like the churches in Revelation, even when a church has lost its first love for God and for lost souls, even when a church is experiencing tribulation and hardship, even when a church has compromised doctrinally, even when a church has not confronted sin in its midst, even when a church is dying and on its last legs, even when a church is spiritually lukewarm, there is still hope!  There is still a God-given opportunity to experience God’s blessings again, to experience revival, renewal, and rebirth.

Friend, the same is even true in your life.  I don’t know how many times I have heard people say, “I’m just too far gone.  I’ve done way too much.  You just don’t know or understand my past.  God would never accept me.  God would never forgive me.  God doesn’t want me.  I might as well just do whatever I want, because there’s no hope for me anyway.”  Friend, that may be how you honestly feel, but that doesn’t make it true.

The Bible says that even “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).  The Apostle Paul was the chief of sinners, a die-hard enemy of Jesus and enemy of Christians, and yet he experienced the grace and forgiveness of Jesus.  Even the thief on the Cross had his sins forgiven moments before he died, and personally met Jesus in paradise that very afternoon!  If you are alive, now matter how sinful you may be, Jesus stands ready to receive you, forgive you, and make you new, if you come to Him on His terms.

 

God’s blessings upon any nation are tied to its repentance.

What is it that makes such a difference in these nations?  What is it that turns a nation’s destruction and condemnation into blessing and restoration?  What is the key?  The turnaround happens when that nation “turns from their evil” (vs 8a), when they have a change of heart, a spiritual change of direction.

The Bible calls that “repentance.”  It involves a 180* turn, from following sin to following God, from choosing our way to choosing God’s way.  And when God sees that in the heart of a nation, He turns a curse into a blessing, condemnation into salvation.  It happened in Israel, it happened in Nineveh, and it has even been true in the United States.

Throughout our nation’s history, there have been key, pivotal moments that turned the tide, that changed everything, that brought the blessings of God upon our nation again and again.  Forty years before the Declaration of Independence, local churches, influenced by the powerful preaching of evangelists like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, were spreading the Gospel in towns and cities across the colonies and the frontier lands, from Philadelphia, to New York, to the southern cities.  Thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children were repenting of their sin, and turning to Jesus Christ for salvation, in a revival wave known as the Great Awakening.  These individuals understood the grace of God, the freedom found in the Gospel and in Jesus Christ, and the need for humility and brokenness before God.  It was that generation out of whom our Founding Fathers would emerge, leaving the imprint of Jehovah God in our founding documents, on our currency, and on our buildings and monuments.

Twenty-five years after the Declaration of Independence, a Second Great Awakening began to spread across the northeast and the Midwest, as local churches were impacting their communities and our nation was being changed from the bottom up, from the inside out.  This wave of spiritual repentance ushered in a movement that tackled social reforms, like the dangers of alcohol, the first seeds of the abolition of slavery, and women’s rights.  It wasn’t the result of reforms in Washington.  It was a nation being changed through the influence of the Gospel and local churches carrying out the Great Commission.

During the years before and after the Civil War, there was a Third Great Awakening, and this wave of spiritual repentance across our land led to denominational networks carrying out the work of God, and the growth of missionary work around the country and the world, including through the leadership of pastors like Dwight L. Moody in Chicago.

Then in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, following World War II, America experienced another explosion in evangelism and church planting across our country.  As our country was experiencing a cultural revolution, Gospel-preaching churches were growing by leaps and bounds, Bible colleges were in their hay-day, preachers were going out to plant churches, and missionaries were being sent all over the world, especially by fundamental Baptist churches.  It was during this wave that Vandalia Baptist Temple was planted by a preacher named Herman Bond.

Every wave of spiritual repentance in our country brought the blessings of God over and over.  You see, that is what God is looking for – even today!  The blessings of God upon our nation will not come as the result of the perfect bill or law in Washington.  We cannot hang our hopes and dreams on a politician or political party.  What God is looking for is repentance, in America, in the state of Ohio, in the greater Dayton area, and even at Vandalia Baptist Temple.  And when God sees people repent, and have broken hearts before God (even as Christians and churches), He sends His blessings.

Luke 5:32  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Acts 3:19  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord

Acts 17:30  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Acts 20:21  Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Revelation 2:5  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

But you see, repentance is a response to hearing and understanding the Gospel.  And the spreading of the Gospel lies in the hands of the local church.  It is the local church that is the hope of America and the hope of the world.

That is why the ministry of the local church is so important.  That is why the mission is so urgent.  That is why we are passionately committed to building bridges to every generation, culture, and community with the Gospel.  That is why we are asking you to continually invite your friends, neighbors, and community to come to church and hear the Word of God.  That is why we are asking you to help us go into other communities, as our church is about to do in Old North Dayton, to love and serve people, to shine for Jesus, and one day, maybe even plant a new church there.  That is why we are taking our kids VBS outreach, not just to the walls of our own facilities, but also over to a local apartment complex, and then over to a local city park.  We are going where people are who need to hear and understand the Gospel.  Church, it’s on us!

As Christians in America we have got to stop blaming unbelievers for the condition of our country.  We have got to stop blaming “sinners” for acting like “sinners.”  We have got to stop thinking that if we yell loud enough, or argue strongly enough, or post enough rants on social media, that people who are “dead in their trespasses and their sins” are somehow going to get their act together and begin acting like the salt and light that our world needs.

What our nation needs, in order to restore and preserve God’s amazing blessings, comes back to our very existence as a local church.  It doesn’t matter how blessed we have been in the past, if we aren’t walking in repentance and humility today, we can forfeit God’s blessings.  It doesn’t matter how far we may have drifted from God, individually, as a church, or as a nation, there is still hope to experience the blessings of God.  But it all comes back to that one word: repentance.

If you, as a Christian and church member, are not currently engaged in the cause of the Kingdom, in reaching lost souls with the Gospel, then what God is looking for from you today is genuine, humble brokenness and repentance.  Our community and nation needs a change of heart, and you have the answer.  Nothing in your life is more important than the eternal souls of people – in your family, in your community, in our region, in our country, and around the world.  Maybe God is calling you to get re-engaged in ministry.  Maybe God is calling some of you to be preachers and church planters (around the region, country, or world).  God entrusted the Gospel to the local church, to you and me.

But perhaps you have an even greater need today.  You aren’t experiencing God’s blessing upon your life, because there has never been a point in your life in which you genuinely repented of your sins and turned in faith to follow Jesus.  Maybe you look the part on the outside, but there’s never been a change of heart.  Until that happens, nothing you try and do or change is going to work.  You will still remain broken and lost before God.  What you need is to respond to the Gospel, to God’s invitation, and come to Him for forgiveness of sin and eternal life in Heaven.

God’s message to Israel in Jeremiah’s day, is God’s message to America today.  But more importantly, it is God’s message to you and me.  Will you respond to God’s voice and calling today?

WBF President’s Post: A New Beginning

I feel deeply humbled and honored to have been asked to serve the World Baptist Fellowship as your President.  Even though it was something that was never in my mind and heart, I am willing to serve our pastors and churches in seeking God’s vision for the coming years of our Fellowship.

I love the World Baptist Fellowship!  I understand that it is not the only family of fundamental Baptist churches and pastors, but it is my family, and for many of you, it is your family.  It was always an honor to represent the WBF as a missionary around the country and overseas, and it is still an honor to now be involved as the pastor of a stateside church.

From our roots as the World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship, we have stood for the fundamental doctrines of Scripture, such as the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, the virgin birth and deity of Christ, and the imminent, bodily return of Jesus.  We have also been a Fellowship that is passionate about world missions and church planting.  As you find within many of our local churches, we are a very diverse network of churches and pastors, with varied views and convictions on certain matters, and yet united around the greatest purposes in the Kingdom of God.  I tell our congregation all the time:  Our differences are not liabilities to get rid of; they are assets, blessings and benefits that we need to celebrate.  In fact, the entire message of the Gospel is about all different genders, nationalities, ethnic groups, cultures, languages and generations brought together by the Cross of Jesus.  Our unity, despite our diversity, is what displays the power of the Gospel to the world.

As President, I want to hear from you.  I am praying for God to give us a clear vision and some God-sized initiatives that we can rally around and partner together on to make an eternal difference.  Some of these initiatives include:

  • Restoring the function and leadership of the Fellowship Board
  • Creating a WBF website and social media presence
  • Opening an account to fund our Fellowship projects
  • Launching a Top O’ Hill Restoration Fund
  • Seeking sponsorships for pastors of church plants and struggling churches to attend our national meetings
  • Developing our church planting network to give church planters far greater access to resources and assistance

I am forever grateful for our past and heritage as the World Baptist Fellowship.  We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.  However, I have no desire to relive or recreate the past.  I want to faithfully and passionately serve the Lord and His Kingdom in my generation, and intentionally serve the generation to come.  Will you join me in seeking God’s vision for the World Baptist Fellowship?  I can’t wait to see what God has in store!

How Much Is Too Much?

Indigenous missions – the ultimate goal of the church-planting missionary.  Every missionary-in-training has learned to describe an indigenous church as self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting.  The question is not so much, “What is our goal?”  The question is, “How do we reach it?”  There are about as many answers to that question as there are missionaries.  In fact, how we answer that question will describe our philosophy of ministry.

If one of our primary goals is to establish a church that is self-supporting, how much resources should the foreign missionary provide?  There are missionaries who advocate no financial involvement whatsoever – the nationals should do it all.  The idea is that the nationals should learn to support the work and carry the full responsibility from the very beginning.  On the opposite end of the spectrum are missionaries who build an enormous enterprise of churches and/or national pastors, which relies almost exclusively on foreign funds (primarily from the United States).

Surely the answer lies, as in all areas of life and ministry, in a balance of both extremes.  Missionaries at times have misspent valuable years of ministry waiting for nationals to “learn” something they have been taught in principle (generosity, sacrifice, giving, faith), but have never seen or witnessed in their “pastor.”  At the same time, there have been large ministries that crumble when the foreign missionary and his funds are no longer present.

There are definitely no “pat answers” or rules that apply to every ministry, culture or circumstance regarding this issue.  So what do we do?  How should we approach our ministry?  When should we “pay the bill” and when should we abstain?  Here are some questions to consider as you seek to answer these questions in your ministry context:

  • What example am I setting to my church members (I Peter 5:3)?  King David sacrificed greatly and personally to build the Temple before asking the Israelites to take part and follow his example (I Chronicles 29:2-5).

  • What example am I setting to future national pastors?  The missionary is often the only example they have of personal sacrifice and commitment.

  • Does my involvement lead my church members to look to me or to God when they face a financial challenge (I Corinthians 2:3-5; II Corinthians 4:7)?

  • Am I just teaching about faith or am I demonstrating it (I Corinthians 11:1)?  Our greatest influence will be through what we model, not what we teach.

  • What would the long-term repercussions be if my financial support were no longer available?  The adjustment will always be difficult, but it should not cripple the work.

Only the LORD can help us answer these questions in our particular circumstance and ministry.  May He give each of His servants wisdom and discernment.  The indigenous work depends on it.

How have you faced these challenges?  What have you found to be a healthy balance?  Take a moment and share your thoughts in the comment section below.