July 2019 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

July 2019

“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 15.5-6)

While I was attending seminary in New Orleans, Claren and I had the opportunity to attend the 1984 World’s Fair.  We had a great time walking through the pavilions, especially China, because it seemed so mysterious at the time.  Then, there was the space shuttle, the window to the universe.  Last, there was the kid’s wash.  It sounds childish, but it was super hot, and the water helped cool us down.

If you didn’t attend the SBC Annual Meeting last week in Birmingham, you missed an opportunity to see how our convention functions.  It’s like a mini-World’s Fair with the exposition hall full of SBC or SBC recommended colleges and seminaries, the IMB and NAMB booths, Guidestone, the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, Lifeway, and other ministries within the SBC. There was time for lunches and dinners for all of the different entities. The great thing is that some of them were free. You just had to make your reservation ahead of time.

In between sessions, you had plenty of room to walk, sit, talk, and maybe even catch a quick nap.  I met folks that I knew from Alabama, from the IMB and NAMB, and even met a few new people. The SBC annual meeting is a great place to experience the life of our convention…our cooperative program in action.  Just this past weekend at the Bicentennial celebration in Aliceville, I met an African-American man whose church is a member of the SBC.  He said he couldn’t believe how much the SBC has to offer.  I believe similarly…we, as members, don’t always know or appreciate what we have.

On top of all these great things, you get to hear and participate in some great worship and preaching/teaching.  These men who spoke inspired me to fulfill the meeting’s theme, “Gospel Above All” from I Corinthians 15.4-5.

As the PBA moves forward, I would like to challenge us to put the “Gospel Above All”.  Paul wrote, “Whatever you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Col. 3.17)  I would even add our desires and thoughts.  May all that we do for Jesus be what motivates us to fulfill God’s purpose through Pickens Baptist Association!

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

June 2019 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

June 2019

“Brethren, be even more diligent to make sure your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.”  (II Peter 1.10)

 

Aaaahhhh, it’s summer!! It’s time to get away, and enjoy time with family and friends. I’m not a qualified travel agent, but I did look up some of the best US family vacation sites. You could choose Disney World-Orlando, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Gatlinburg, TN, or the sugary white beaches of Destin, Florida. Of course, none of these are inexpensive.

No matter how you spend your vacation time at the river, the beach, or in the mountains, don’t forget the One who made them. The biggest tendency during the summer is to unplug oneself from our daily routine of prayer, Bible study, and local church attendance. We use the excuses: “It’s not convenient!” or “I’m on vacation!” or “No one in my family will go with me.” Or “I don’t won’t to have to get up early for that!”. Unfortunately, they are probably the same ones we use back home. (OOOO, that’s harsh, but true.)

Peter, in verses 5 – 7 of this same chapter, makes a list of characteristics that we, as believers, should “add to your faith”.  Then, he says, “if you possess these qualities…, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive…”.  Notice, how Peter states it,  “to keep from being ineffective, unproductive, and never stumble.” It is a diligence, a  persistent working or an effort to grow in our faith. This isn’t working for our salvation, but it is a “working out of our salvation.” We need to understand that our growth just doesn’t happen.  It takes an intentional decision on our part to become faithful disciples of Christ.

So, as you are with your families and friends this summer, enjoy it!! However, be diligent in walking with the Lord. “ And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6.9)

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

May 2019 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

May 2019

 

“Christ was truly God,…He gave up everything and became a slave, when He became like one of us.” (Philippians 2.6 – 7)

Recently,  in one of our churches, the offering envelope on the side panel was found in the offering plate…”To God”. It was told to me that a child had written this statement as the offering was taken on that particular Sunday. I believe that child truly understood what the purpose of giving is. It is giving all that we have for God.   

Paul’s statement of Christ’s sacrifice was one of complete humility. Jesus “gave up everything” or as the Greek says it, “He emptied Himself”. In other words, nothing was left of Himself. As we ponder Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, it’s impossible to do so without realizing how He gave all that He could to redeem all of mankind. There’s a phrase that we use, “he’s spent,  or she’s spent”.  It means the person has given all that he can give until he can’t give anymore.

In a sense, Christ did that for us when “came in the likeness of men”. He spent Himself. Notice, the anguish and the sorrow that Jesus expressed in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was all coming to a focal point of His death on the cross. It was drawing nearer and nearer, and He sought the strength of His Father and the other disciples through prayer. Fortunately, Jesus found the comfort He needed through His Father because the disciples’ spirit was willing, but their flesh was weak.

How do we find ourselves this Easter season? Is our spirit willing, but our flesh is weak? Have we “given up everything” for Jesus? Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16.24) Will we desire to follow Christ this Easter and give up everything for Him? 

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

April 2019 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

April 2019

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

(Luke 9.24)

Recently, I finished reading Charles Sheldon’s book, In His Steps. I saw it in the PBA library and had always wanted to read it, but never had the opportunity. It is a fictional story of Raymond First Church, and its encounter with a gentleman who appeared at the end of its worship service asking questions of the congregation. This stranger asked some startling questions from the pastor’s message that morning. First, “if what you call following Jesus is the same thing as what He taught…what did He mean when He said: ‘Follow Me!’?”.  Second, “What do you mean when you sing, ‘I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way?’ Do you mean that you are suffering and denying yourselves and trying to save lost, suffering humanity just as I understand Jesus did?”.

The pastor gave a challenge to the congregation the next Sunday to ask themselves the question, “What would Jesus do?” for an entire year. Those who were serious would come to the fellowship hall of the church and begin the journey. On that first Sunday, more than 50 individuals took up the challenge. The book follows the lives of some of those persons and shows the blessings and the consequences of their decision.

I’d like to share one of those stories with you. Mr. Alexander Powers was the railroad superintendent. It was a very lucrative job with much status in the Raymond community. Upon seeing the situation of his workers, he decided to make a nice break area for the men to enjoy during lunch and other free times during their work day. Also, he asked the local pastor to come and share the Bible with them.

Everything seemed to be going quite well for Mr. Powers until one day he found a letter on his desk addressed to him. It contained a document that proved that his railroad company was in violation of the Interstate Commerce Laws of the United States. Mr. Powell now had a very difficult decision to make. Would he do as Jesus? Or would he not do anything to keep his job and status in the community and with his family? Mr. Powers chose to do as Jesus would. It cost him his job and his status in the community. His family was furious with him for making such a decision.

I remember the “WWJD” movement in the 90s and early 2000s. Did it have an effect and transformational change on our society?  Overall, no, it didn’t. Why? Because a phrase can’t do anything unless we, as believers, are willing to live it out. Mr. Powers faced a real dilemma…go along with the crowd or lose everything for Christ. He chose to lose everything for Christ.  Are we, am I,  willing to lose everything for Christ?

March 2019 Mind of the Missionary

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,…

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,…”

(Matthew 20.26,28)

 

Recently, I participated in two activities that showed me the importance of allowing others in the body of Christ to use their gifts, abilities, and talents. I watched some of our pastors, leaders, and church members talk about their church’s and our association’s vision. It was great to sit back and listen to our folks seek God’s direction. I was truly amazed!

 

Jon Bloom of Desiring God ministries said, “a servant leader sacrificially seeks the highest joy of those he serves.” It made me think of Jesus as He poured three years of His life into 12 disciples. He taught; He celebrated; He rejoiced; He cried; He performed miracles;  He rebuked; and He loved them. Through His serving them, they saw what it meant to serve, and this service would fill them with joy…a joy that would overflow. (John 15.11)

 

During the last week of His life, Jesus stated, “anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works.” (John 14.12 NLT)  One of my goals is for our people to discover their best ways to serve our Lord Jesus Christ..to do those “greater works”. Over the next few months, you all will have several opportunities to serve and do those “greater works”. This could be through evangelistic outreach projects, training events, and mission trips. Whatever the opportunity might be, may God show you how to best serve Him in His Kingdom.

 

Until Next Month,

 

Bro. Lyle

August 2018 Mind of the Missionary

“After this I looked and there before me there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language….And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7.9 – 10)

 

I am sitting in my bunk writing this newsletter to you all from Monte Redondo, Honduras. It has been a great 3 days of ministry and evangelism. Our team has worked at the girls’ home, worshipped bilingually, visited 2 kindergartens, and street witnessed in 2 nearby communities seeing many accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Before my trip here, I was with our team at MissionLab in New Orleans where they worked with children in the morning in a local plaza, ministered and prayed with the homeless in Jackson Square in the French Quarter, prayer walked, sorted food at the largest food bank in Louisiana, and worked at a local thrift store which supported a men and women’s drug/alcohol recovery ministry.

It has been exciting to see our folks from Pickens Association touching the lives of persons from Brazil to New Orleans to Honduras. In the next few weeks, there will be others who will travel to Portland, Oregon to partner with Justin and Chandra Martin of Remedy City Ministries and others who will partner with Resurrection Baptist Church in Isabela, Puerto Rico. We have already heard the good news of how the family in Isabela who had its tree cut down by the Disaster Relief team that went in February, not only began to attend, but now has been baptized and are active members in this church.

I have heard reports of others like Ethelsville Baptist Church who have gone to Guatemala and Mississippi on mission trips. Youth groups who have participated in M-fuge and Centrifuge. I’ve also heard of our churches who have had revival services and how these have been times of refreshing and recommitment. What a great summer this has been for our PBA churches! I pray that you’ve been an active part of it.

Notice what John, the beloved disciple, saw in his vision from the Lord. He saw a great multitude of people from everywhere, from every ethnic group on earth crying out loud that salvation belongs to our God and His Son, Jesus. Whether our outreach is in our local church, our association, our state convention, our nation, or in another nation, our goal is to see every person of every people group know Christ as his Lord and Savior. May we, as Pickens Baptist Association, be faithful in fulfilling this task!

 

Until next month,

 

Bro. Lyle

July 2018 Mind of the Missionary

“So, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.” John 8.36

 

Freedom!! Isn’t that what all of us want? No matter your position on the undocumented persons who are coming to the United States, these folks are coming here to experience something that we, as citizens, many times, take for granted. The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Look at the conditions from which these families and individuals come, and one can understand why they want to be here.

Jesus promises us freedom, too! This freedom means deliverance from our slavery to sin and freedom from the power of the evil one – Satan. However, as you observe our Christian culture today, it mimics our own ungenerated society. Recent surveys reveal that in almost all areas of life like abortion, promiscuity, divorce, homosexuality, etc…the church reflects the society in which it lives. In other words, there is NO difference between Christians and non-Christians.

This makes me ask the question, what have we done with our freedom in Christ? Do we want the freedom that Christ promises us? Or do we want Christianity light? What is Christianity light? It is a Christian faith that forgets the teachings of Christ and lives for oneself. For example, Jesus teaches us, “Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9.23) and “Whoever wants to be first among you will be a slave to all.” (Mark 10.44) These are challenging words for us as believers today. Everything around us says, “Please yourself first!” However, Jesus’ path of freedom shows us that our life is His. Our life should reflect His. Our freedom is based not on how we feel or what we want, but upon our trusting and walking in Him.

Peter wrote, “For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy command delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to its own vomit, and a washed sow returns to wallowing in the mud.’” (II Peter 2.21 – 22) As we celebrate our nations’ independence this year, may we also celebrate our freedom in Christ by denying ourselves and being a slave to all. This way, we truly will be free.

 

Until next month,

Bro Lyle

June 2018 Mind of the Missionary

Pastors and churches, if you were able to find a way to help your church grow, would you do it? Well, I have good news for you. There is a way…it’s called Vacation Bible School! Lyle, you’re crazy (yes, that’s true)! However, regarding VBS, it’s the #1 outreach activity in our Southern Baptist churches. For example in 2017,

  • More than 2.5 million children attended VBS
  • Over 155,000 prospects were discovered for our churches
  • 70,135 children/youth/adults made salvation decisions
  • Greater than $6 million dollars for missions were given

In Alabama, nearly 50% of our churches celebrated VBS. Over 200,000 people enrolled with more than 7,000 decisions for Christ. In Pickens Baptist Association, 21 churches with 1,532 enrollees participated last year. This is great news! Notice, VBS has become the strategic outreach tool for churches to touch their communities with the message of Jesus Christ. VBS presents the Gospel message through a fun-filled, spiritual adventure which provides concentrated Bible study with real-life practical application.

Our associational VBS team is available to help and give you ideas to strengthen your outreach. Contact Amanda at our PBA office @ 205.367.8632 or @ pbassn@centurytel.net. Also, our state convention has a full slate of resources to help your VBS teams (https://alsbom.org/vbs/). Our desire is for you to create great opportunities to connect your church with your community.

A few other suggestions are:

  1. Be proactive in evangelizing those who participate in your Vacation Bible School. This is the one opportunity during the year when children/youth/adults are a captive audience. Make time each day to share the message of Christ to them. I realize that there is usually 1 day given for the pastor or VBS director to share, but remember that not all the folks will be there every day. So, don’t miss this opportunity!
  2. Decide what you will do with your offerings and promote it. If you don’t have something specifically planned, here are some ideas. Justin and Chandra Martin of Remedy City Ministries, Portland, Oregon are NAMB missionaries which the association supports. Also, your offerings can be donated to one or all of the 5 summer trips sponsored by Pickens Baptist Association. Another suggestion is giving to Baptist Global Response. BGR is the way to show the love of Jesus to those in need. Through gogbr.org/catalog or call 866.359.2852, a church VBS can choose 25 different ways to use your offerings to minister to the hopeless, homeless, and hurting in our world. 100% of your offerings will go to your choice of ministry.
  3. Finally, make sure to do follow-up. What’s follow-up? Follow-up is contacting the children/youth/adults who participated in your Vacation Bible School. It is important that you follow-up within a week or two after VBS. If not, you’ve basically lost them. As you do your planning, include follow-up! The growth of your church depends upon it.

Again, Vacation Bible School is a sure way to evangelize your community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do It!!

 

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

May 2018 Mind of the Missionary

Many years ago, George Berkley asked a question that continues to baffle people until today, “If a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Technically, we can say that God hears it. So, yes, the fall made a sound, but no human ear heard it.

Believe it or not, the same is true of communication. If a church is doing great things for the Lord or is hurting and doesn’t communicate it to others, then who is listening?? NO ONE!!

One of the hardest tasks we have as an association is the lack of communication with one another. There could be dozens of reasons for this lack of communication like lack of time, jealousy, “It’s too hard”, stealing of sheep, “We’re a small church, and no one cares about us.”, or “We’re a big church, and we don’t need anyone else.”

Paul had a similar problem with the Corinthian church regarding spiritual gifts…”The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ and the head cannot say to the foot, ‘I don’t need you!’” He reminded the church it was “the body of Christ and each one of you is part of it.” (I Corinthians 12.21,27) All 34 of us are the body of Christ partnering together as an association with shared goals and purposes.

From our earliest beginnings of the Philadelphia Baptist Association their shared goals and purposes went “forward in the work of Domestic Missions. The pastors were requested, and the churches urged, to be liberal in aiding them to visit destitute churches and settlements. “EVANGELISTS” were sent into, remote regions, especially South, to preach the gospel, and counsel the feeble churches, and instruct the scattered disciples of Christ.” As I read this history, I see how both pastors and churches were “urged” to care for one another…communicate. Sound familiar!?

For our body, the association, to function healthily, we must communicate with one another. May the Lord Jesus Christ continue to bless and use the Pickens Baptist Association in relation to our communication with one another. Let us allow these words of Paul to stimulate us to partner together…”Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (I Thessalonians 5.11)

 

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

April 2018 Mind of the Missionary

“Joseph is still alive!” But when they (the sons) repeated to Jacob everything Joseph had told them…their father’s spirits revived. Then Jacob exclaimed, “It must be true! My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him…”

Genesis 45.26 – 28

 

What is revival? How do you know if your church and you are experiencing revival?

Usually, we, as believers, think of revival as a set time(s) in the year to schedule worship services with a rousing preacher to stir our hearts. However, very little in the way of being revived occurs…very little change in our lives and very little change in the church.

Gary McIntosh states that “revival refers to a spiritual reawakening from a state of dormancy or stagnation in the life of the believer.” Notice, this is a reviving of a believer not a non-believer. This means somewhere along the way, we, the church, have lost our focus, lost our passion, and lost our connection to God. We must be revived, reawakened.

Charles H. Spurgeon used this definition and illustration of revival. It is “to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired.” His illustration depicts “a person who has been dragged out of a pond nearly drowned, the bystanders are afraid he is dead…The proper means are used to restore animation” (life); suddenly, “the rescued man opens his eyes, sits up, and speaks, and those around him rejoice that he has revived.”

Recently, I attended 2 revival services in our local churches, but this time I noticed that a reviving was happening in both. Joe Fondren of Cross Roads BC put it this way, “We, at Cross Roads, find ourselves in a rut! Stuck with the routine. So I prayed! Prayed that God would move us. I scheduled a winter revival. Something out of the routine. The speakers were God sent. Revival starts after the time of preaching. God began to move! People were responding! Satan’s power over doing nothing had been removed. Pulled out of the rut by the Word of God! Eight additions to Cross Roads, 3 by professions of faith today, we still have people coming in search of a church home. Praise, Honor, and Glory be to God!”

During this Easter season, may you experience a revival of the soul to the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, so that the church rejoices with you.

Blessings,

Bro Lyle