November 2015 Mind of the Missionary

The 180th annual meeting of our association will be memorable. On Monday we met at our youngest and northernmost congregation, Calvary of Fayette. Sam Wiggins moderated the meeting. He and Glenn Sandifer were re-elected to the leadership position. The theme was SERVE ON by Starting Something New, Evangelizing, Revitalizing Churches, Volunteering, and Engaging Culture.

We looked at the new things God is doing among us with a focus on Rubies for Life at Aliceville FCI. We were taught by Bro. Tommy Winders regarding how and when to share the Gospel. We are to be Fishers of Men. Ours is a Great Commitment, Great Commission, and Great Commandment. By video Bro. Mike Hall shared with us what he had learned at New Salem over his 40 years as pastor there. The church has grown greatly and is now housed in a beautiful facility. It began 70 years ago in a brush arbor.

Seventeen of our churches reported regarding what God is doing in and through their ministries. Regular visitation, firewood, cookies, and other service ministries were reported. Care for the young, the lost, and the elderly were highlighted.

Bro. Tim Meherg of Reform set the stage for the meeting with the traditional introductory message. Great music. The offering for the Children’s Home totaled $558.

The afternoon ended with a wonderful fellowship dinner furnished by the host church. God has a great church at Calvary. Beautiful people in a beautiful building—focused on being real Christians.

On Tuesday we gathered at Galilee in Panola. While its history stretches back nearly 165 years, it is the newest member of our association. Among those in the congregation that day were at least five persons who helped with the re-building of the church after its fire in February 2006—Henry and Gypsey Helmers, Gene Ferguson, Don Pritchett, and Charles Ashcraft. It was moving to see the fruits of this labor. Bro. Bob Little, pastor, shared a video which told the story of the fire and the reconstruction.

Among the things Bro. Mike Hall shared with us concerning his learnings from 40 years pastoring the same church had been the need to be flexible. When the projected discussion of the relationship between Gospel and Blues music could not be done as placed due to a death of a family member of one of the presenters, Bro. Bob handled the teaching by demonstrating how he has taken the music of the Blues, baptized them with the Gospel message, communicating it to hurting, lost persons. This was an important learning.

Volunteers reported on mission trips to Ohio and Romania sponsored by the association. Janet Estis provided a heads up on the On Mission Celebration, scheduled for February 20-24, 2016.

Bro. James Hammack spoke to the messengers concerning how to use social media in a biblical manner and thus use it as a Gospel witness.  Very helpful. Then Bro. Gene Dawkins brought the annual missions sermon.

Eight of our churches reported concerning what God has been doing in and through their congregation. The offering for ALCAP totaled $301.

The meeting was concluded with a fellowship meal provided by the host church, Galilee. Another great church.  Another great day.

The attendance at Calvary was 78. The attendance at Galilee was 57. We will be meeting in 2016 at Flatwoods on Monday and Mineral Springs on Tuesday.

So SERVE ON. Individuals, groups, churches. Three GCs.  Great Commitment, Great Commission, and Great Commandments.

October 2015 Mind of the Missionary

Basic Beliefs is the title of a course I am teaching at the prison camp currently. It is offered through Samford Ministry Training Institute. It is the fifth in a set of courses leading to a certificate in Christian Ministries. Our purpose is to equip the Christian inmates to be effective witnesses, godly persons, and Bible teachers in churches upon their release. Connecting to a church upon release can be crucial for them. They will be a benefit to the church, make friends, and be helped in finding employment.

Glenn Sandifer and Mel Howton taught the previous classes with good results. Clay Carroll, the recently arrived new head of Religious Services, wants to see the SMTI program expanded both in the camp and in the prison. Several of our PBA ministers received this certificate when we were offering these courses at the PBA office. With so many internationals at the prison, there is an awesome opportunity to send out missionaries, effective missionaries, from right here in Pickens County through this program. With the very popular and effective Rubies for Life, we are impacting many lives here and, in days to come, around the world.

The course I am teaching includes eight topics—authority, God, humankind, salvation, Christ, the Christian life, the church, and last things. These are important topics for all Christians to know what they believe. I have published extensively on all of the topics except the last one. My thoughts on it reflect the historic premillennial position, not the complex dispensational one. I could hope that all of our churches would commit to studying these topics. You can find some of my writings on most of these topics on the webpage I will be glad to help the churches prepare for studies of these topics. They might be scheduled on Wednesday nights or Sunday nights in our churches. James Hammack of West End is our new Discipleship Director. He will be encouraging us all to be serious about discipleship studies.