August 2020 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

August 2020

“In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them… So the Temple of the Lord was restored to service.  And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because of what God had done for the people, for everything had been accomplished so quickly.”  (II Chronicles 29:3,35-36 NLT)

Hezekiah’s father was King Ahaz one of the  wickedest kings that ever served in the history of Israel. His life was a disaster from the decisions he made like the closing of the Temple to his placing of altars to foreign gods on every street corner in Jerusalem. This was Hezekiah’s inheritance. One even wonders how he had the sense to reopen the doors of the Temple of the Lord and seek Him.

I notice four key words in these passages: reopen, repair, restore, and rejoice. They seem like great words of hope that I believe can be used in our lives today. However, these actions must be used in this order. We are being told that our businesses, our schools, our churches, even our minds must be reopened. Why must these be reopened? Are they to be reopened just for the sake of reopening? No, they are to be reopened to lead us to the point of rejoicing for what God has done.

As you read II Chronicles 29, notice the amount of hard work in the repair and the restoration of the Temple which took place before the rejoicing of the people occurred. Many times whether it is our businesses, schools, churches, lives, etc…, we are willing to reopen, but we are not willing to do the work of repair and restoration necessary to bring about the rejoicing of all the people.

It reminds of Jesus’ statement on counting the cost, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?…Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14.28,33) Repairing and restoration must be an essential part of our reopening our churches and our lives. We must allow Christ to do his work in our churches and in us. If not, both will suffer dramatically.

The same is true for our present society. Reparation and restoration must be sought if our nation can be healed. It is our responsibility as Christ’s followers to lead that fight. We cannot shrink away from our responsibility. However, many times, we have not counted the cost. To repair and restore our communities and our nation, we, as believers, must do more than stand up, we must do the tedious work of reparation and restoration.

Let us begin asking ourselves the hard questions: Are we, the church, doing all we can to mend our communities? Are we, the church, getting our hands dirty or are we running in fear from the difficulties that our communities are facing? I remember the history of our past where Christians went where the bubonic plague ran rampant, where leprosy overtook societies, and where the Spanish flu hit the hardest. We, the church, must step in to reopen, repair, and restore, so that all the people will “ rejoice because of what God has done.”

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

July 2020 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

July 2020

“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20.24)  

 

I recently read an article on how to better fish for crappie in the “Alabama Living” magazine. The author talked about the different types of bait and lures as well as the areas to catch crappie. I was impressed with his knowledge on the subject.  I’m sure he has a lot of practical experience or better said, he’s done a lot of crappie fishing.  

This man was intently fixed on his subject. He never wavered. This started me thinking about how Christians are responding to the coronavirus and the protests. I’m afraid that it has caused us to allow our non-Christian world to shape how we act and become distracted.  As believers, we have one task…teaching, preaching, and living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If anyone could have been distracted, it would have been the apostle Paul. As he met with the Ephesian leaders at Miletus, Paul boldly stated how he would not stop testifying “to the Gospel of God’s grace” despite all the physical and spiritual barriers trying to stop him.

Also, the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him if He was the Messiah or should they look for another? This would have been the perfect time for Jesus to make a social, racial, economic, or political statement, but Jesus didn’t spend his time talking about social injustice, racial inequality, economic problems, or political issues. Does that mean these issues  weren’t  important, NO!

Jesus had another motive – fulfilling the task that His Father gave Him. Jesus’ response to John’s disciples was the repeat of His reading from Isaiah 61 when He began his earthly ministry, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Luke 7:22) Notice how many times Satan, the religious leaders, the disciples, and others tried to change his purpose, but He persevered all the way to the cross. His earthly ministry was complete when he said, “It is Finished!” 

However, for Christian leaders and believers, we can easily get distracted from our main task which is teaching, preaching, and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is this message that turned the world upside down, that has brought down empires, that has changed societies, and transforms the world. So, in this time of uncertainty, don’t take the bait! May we remain faithful to the task that God has given us to teach, preach, and live the Gospel.   “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  (Hebrews 12:1)

 

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

June 2020 Mind of the Missionary

“I know that you(God) can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42.2)

The question that most people have been asking during COVID-19 has been, “Why is God doing this to me, to my family, etc…?” Personally, I think that’s the wrong question. The question should be, “What is God doing during COVID-19?” Some believe that God is bringing judgement. Others believe that He is preparing us for the final days. And yet others are expecting a great revival, even an awakening. Honestly, I don’t know which is the correct answer. However, there are three areas where God is working in people’s lives.

First of all, there has been an increase in prayer. Jeanet Bentzen, Director of the Study of Religion at the University of Copenhagen states “internet searches for the topic of prayer surged to the highest level during the past 5 years…surpassing all other major events that otherwise intensify demand for prayer…. The rise in prayer intensity supersedes what the world has seen for years.” Prayer is how believers cope with crisis, but non-believers are seeking for answers. Fortunately, this time, people are looking to God because they have seen that science, other religions, and technology do not have an answer. As believers, we need to help our unbelieving family and friends seek God for His guidance, His protection, and His salvation.

The increase of Bible reading is the next area of growth during the pandemic. Lifeway Christian Resources has seen a 62% increase in their sales of Bibles since the same time last year. Ben Mandrell, Lifeway CEO, states “people often go to the Bible as a source of hope in times of crisis and uncertainty….people see a God who is with us during our suffering.” My concern is that those seeking help in God’s Word are “hunting and pecking”. It is our role as believers to show unbelievers and doubters Bible passages which speak to their needs. We have a great opportunity not only to share our faith, but allow God to speak to these “seekers”  through His Word. Nicky Gumbel stated at an online Easter conference, “There’s no football, there’s no sport. There’s no entertainment. People have time to hear the Gospel.” My prayer is that those who hear His Word will find Him.

Finally, the last area of growth is the number of views of Christian programming and worship online. Viewing is difficult to measure. A normal “view” lasts between 3 – 5 seconds. If the pastor/teacher or program doesn’t captivate the attention of the viewer, then he’s gone. However, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, “24% of US adults say their faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic”. This is good news! As I’ve spoken to many of our PBA pastors, they want to continue their online ministry. I applaud them for this aspiration. I do believe that online ministry must be more than just a worship service. It must capture the attention…not with fireworks or spectacular events, but with talking on the issues which concern the non-believer. It needs to be understood that this is the majority of the audience who will be viewing the programming after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. My biggest fear is that those who are interested or make decisions for Christ will not engage in follow-up discussions or attend a local congregation.

The focal passage states that nothing can thwart or hinder God’s plans. The coronavirus was not caused by God, but God is doing His work through it to bring His people and non-believers closer to Him. May we be do all that we can to make that message clearly understood.

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

Baptist Center Reopening

The Pickens County Baptist Center of Stansel will be reopening on Wednesday, May 20th.

The hours of operation are: Wednesday to Saturday 8am- 2pm.

To insure safety for yourselves and our volunteer staff, we ask you to

take the following precautions:

 

  • Wear a facemask
  • No more than 10 people inside the building at one time
  • No children inside the facility
  • Maintain social distancing

 

We look forward to your return and are grateful for your years of faithful participation.

In the case of emergencies, please contact Mr. Sam Wiggins at (205)561-8993 or

Bro. Lyle Dease at (251)769-6923.

May 2020 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

May 2020

“In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,…”  (I Peter 1.3b)

 

Easter was different due to COVID-19. Each of our pastors had to make quick adjustments to their special worship services since Easter is the largest attended worship service of the year. Thankfully, almost all of our Pickens Baptist Association churches  were able to meet with their folks through online or drive-in services. However, it wasn’t the same. Claren saw this post by Lana Lollar, wife of Bro. Jordan Lollar of Ethelsville BC. I wanted to share it with you.  May these words bring you comfort and strength during these trying days.

 “ For many years now I would dare to say that, if we’re honest, Easter has been about us. Buying and showing off pretty dresses, matching outfits, shiny new shoes, taking pictures and posting them all over social media. Extravagant Easter baskets and goodies, Easter egg hunts. Now stay with me… don’t get me wrong, I have done all of this and the next Easter we get to be social, we will more than likely have coordinating outfits and get a nice family picture. The problem is not all of that. There’s nothing wrong with getting a new dress to wear to church for Easter, matching your kids so adorably and taking pictures and giving them Easter baskets filled with goodies. However it’s all about our motive. What’s our priority? Who’s really in the spotlight? What are we truly making it about? Since no one is shopping (except online) and our church buildings will be empty other than pastors and possibly their families doing online services, perhaps this is one of many ways God is reminding us that Easter is about Him and Him alone. EVERYTHING is about Him! About how Jesus paid the ultimate price by dying on a criminal’s cross to pay our sin debt. He was buried and stayed in that tomb for three days. Praise God He’s no longer there! On that third day he arose so you and I can have life eternal in Him! Maybe Easter 2020 is going to eliminate distractions we usually have so we can focus on our risen Savior! So we can worship Him as the body of Christ in His holy presence wherever we are! So we can celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and keep our minds on Him. So we can teach our kids from home about the love of Christ and what true worship looks like! Let’s change our perspective from dwelling on what Easter isn’t going to look like this year to what God is wanting to do and show us this year! All things work together for the good of those who love God(and are called according to His purpose)! Let’s open our hearts to Jesus and be changed like never before! “

March 2020 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

March 2020

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints.”  (Psalm 116.15)

Last week was one of those tough weeks of ministry. They don’t happen often, but they do come when you least expect it. Four men that I knew passed from this life into eternity.  A couple of them were unexpected which made the news harder to handle.

Mr. George Kyles of New Salem Baptist Church was a faithful Christian husband, father, patriarch, and friend to everyone. He led worship at New Salem for over 25 years and others churches for a few more years in addition to his singing with “The Singing Men of Pickens County”. Each time I was around him, he made me feel part of the Pickens County family. I will be miss his smile and special greeting.

The next loss was my wife’s, Uncle Sonny, or Davis Henson. He was an engineer that helped build almost all the paved roads and bridges in Washington County, Alabama. He was a quiet man who could hide his humor to the point that you didn’t know if he was serious or joking. Of course, Uncle Sonny would not let you know which one it was. He, too, was a faithful follower of Jesus who loved his wife, family, friends, and local church-Chatom Baptist Church.

The third loss was Lamar Duke, the church planter strategist for the Alabama State Convention. I met Lamar during our time in the Pennsylvania/South Jersey convention in the 1980s while serving as a church planter. He was planting near Atlantic City, NJ, and we were in Central PA. Both of us being from Alabama hit it off immediately. When Claren and I returned from international missions, I found out that Lamar was the Alabama church planter strategist. I contacted him, and he began to put me to work training other church planters. He always had a heart for evangelism and church planting. Lamar continued to share his faith and lead others to Christ even while in the hospital.  

Finally, Dr. Gary Farley, our former Associational Missionary, passed away on Valentine’s Day. Honestly, it was a shock because I understood he might be going home by the end of February. His influence within Pickens Baptist Association and the state of Alabama is unprecedented.  Dr. Farley wrote numerous articles and books on the importance of rural and small town churches and associations. He was re-energized with the coming of FCI-Aliceville to Pickens County. He poured out his life leading the PBA to become involved with these ladies through the “Rubies for Life” and “Kairos” ministries and the Samford Ministerial Training Institute classes. Of course, I can’t forget Dr. Farley’s red socks and harmonica. I’ve been asked several times if I wear red socks or play the harmonica. Unfortunately, I don’t, but I may for a day just to honor him.

Like I said earlier, last week was a tough week with four friends dying. The hope that I take with me is that each of these men are precious in the sight of the Lord today.

 

Until next month,

 

Bro. Lyle

February 2020 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

February 2020

 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him? Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.”    (I John 3:17 – 18)

 

January has been an interesting month with many different opportunities for ministry. John’s teaching should be our guide as we reach out to those who are less fortunate. Here are just a few examples.

Janet Estis, PBA WMU Director, wrote the following summary:

A group of 7 from our association traveled to Cleveland, MS, to distribute the Christmas Backpacks. Those on the trip represented 3 of our PBA churches (Pleasant Hill BC, FBC Pickensville, and Friendship BC). Our association partnered with 2 Hispanic congregations and the sponsor church there to do the distribution. In addition, we had 8 from the Lamar Baptist Association (2 different churches) join us on the trip. We helped with a block party that had inflatables, face painting, games, salvation bracelets, Bible story & color sheets, music, and food. After eating, everyone heard the gospel message that was shared by using a large Evangecube. Bro. Lyle and Mrs. Claren Dease shared in both Spanish and English. Finally, the backpacks were distributed by ages. A total of 115 backpacks were given out. It was a great time to be together and minister together. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)     

 

On Saturday, January 11 at the Carrollton Service Center, the PBA WMU had scheduled a First Responders dinner. However, due to the F-2 tornado that hit the Settlement Road community just west of town, the dinner became a time of sending meals to the First Responders onsite rather than hosting them. More than 80 meals were delivered along with 40 persons being served at the Service Center. It was an unexpected opportunity to minister.

Another example of ministry was our PBA Acteens group led by Claren Dease (as seen in the photo) prayed specifically during their meeting for Derek Richardson of New Salem BC and Lamar Duke, Church Planter specialist for ALSBOM.  Amy Richardson wrote of the prayer time, “Thank y’all so much for praying for us! We would not have been able to make it through all of this without all the prayers being lifted for us!”

Ministering to others doesn’t always look the same. Just like this month, some of it is deliberately touching the lives of children. Another is adjusting to the needs of people helping others who are hurting. Sometimes, it’s just actively praying for healing and comfort during someone else’s crisis. Whatever form ministry may take, let us remember John’s admonition…”we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action”.

 

Until next month,

 

Bro. Lyle

January 2020 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

 

January 2020

 

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

(Acts 20.35)

 

As Paul had his last visit with his dear friends of Ephesus, he reminded them of his hard work, their need to work hard to help the weak(poor), but to do so remembering a saying of Jesus that was being used in the local churches…”it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Christmas is not the only time of year in which this principle should be practiced, but  it seems most emphasized now. Recently in our association, there were 3 visibly clear examples of this principle.

The first would be the Firewood Ministry of Ethelsville Baptist church. I’ve asked Bro. Jordan Lollar to share the how and the why it began as well as its growth through the years. He writes, “it started ten years ago with a few men in the brotherhood of the church seeing a need of people that burned firewood as their source of heat for the winter needing help with cutting and splitting wood. Some people were not able to split their own wood so they would have to buy it which took money away from groceries, medicine and other things. The first year there were around twenty people involved, and they hauled 18 truckloads of wood. With every load of wood that was delivered, the people were prayed with and the Gospel was shared with them.

                Through the past ten years the ministry has grown tremendously. This past November there were over 35 churches represented, 142 people and 146 loads of wood delivered by 2:00pm in one day. It was amazing to see everyone working together for a common cause to help others and to show God’s love through a warm fire.

This ministry is unique to me as I have never seen another like it, and we are so blessed to be involved in it.”

The next example was Mission Pickens at Mineral Springs Baptist church. Through the leadership of Bro. David Blakney, Emelia Reece, and its volunteer team, more than 500 children received Christmas gifts. However, the ministry does more than give the gifts away, it takes time to share the Gospel of Jesus with each family member, as well as, provide hot chocolate and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Over the years, many have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Finally, the PBA Baptist Center sponsors Christmas Food boxes for needy families. 15 boxes filled with gift certificates from Piggly Wiggly and Wal-Mart were included with the regular box of food from the food pantry ministry. The Christmas Food boxes have been a great way for our PBA churches to bless others that are less fortunate. 

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” May this saying of Jesus always be our purpose as we serve Him during Christmas and all year round!

 

Until Next Month,

 

Bro. Lyle

December 2019 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

December 2019

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”         (Psalm 107.1a)

As I was preparing for this month, I ran across this interesting article on “3 Root Causes of Ungratefulness” by Kristen Clark of Living with Gratitude Ministries. They are envy, entitlement, and unrealistic expectations. This is how she describes each one.

First of all, envy is a condition of people who walk through life painfully obsessed by the advantages enjoyed by others. This strong desire within them causes significant resentments leading to anger and unhappiness. Next, entitlement is a belief that one deserves certain privileges, benefits, or advantages. These individuals value relationships based on what others can give them and are dissatisfied when they don’t get what they feel they deserve. Third, unrealistic expectations are like having the ability to read the mind of others, or dropping everything  to accommodate their needs, or feeling others should give, give, give, while they give nothing in return.

This attitude appears to be quite common in our world today. It is not that it hasn’t been present before, but with technology and media being what it is, ungratefulness is shoved in our faces. Paul wrote, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him,…” (Romans 1.21a)

However, thanksgiving must be the believer’s attitude. I believe there are at least 3 ways to move from ungratefulness to gratitude. One is recognizing that we don’t deserve anything. As a followers of Christ, we should understand that we don’t deserve God’s love, mercy, faithfulness, and especially his forgiveness, but He did it even when we didn’t deserve it. Romans 5.8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Our understanding that we don’t deserve anything helps us to appreciate all that we have.

The second recognition is what we do have, it all comes from God. Now, that is a different way of looking at life, isn’t it? Everything-our family, our job, our house, our car, our health, our car, our food-everything comes from God. Jesus said, “If anyone comes after me, deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9.23)  By denying ourselves, we begin to see from God what it is we truly need and then, He’ll provide it. I’m not there yet!

Finally, the third movement is recognizing God for who He is. Maybe, I should have put this as the first point because if we, as followers of Christ, get this right, then gratitude becomes much easier. According to one source, there are 955 names for God. Here are 8 of them: ELOHIM – My Creator; JEHOVAH – My Lord God; EL SHADDAI – My Supplier; ADONAI – My Master; JEHOVAH JIREH – My Provider; JEHOVAH ROPHE –  My Healer; JEHOVAH NISSI – My Banner; and JEHOVAH MARADESH – My Sanctifier. As we read and study God’s Word, the descriptions and names for God are found within its pages. This helps us to discover more and more who He is and who He isn’t. Our growing understanding of God helps us understand how best to talk to Him as well as what to expect from Him.

May you all have a Blessed Thanksgiving by recognizing God and knowing that all we have comes from Him!

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

 

November 2019 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

November 2019

“And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”    (Luke 15.23 – 24)

In this parable of the Prodigal Son, the father restores his son’s authority, honor, and rescues him from slavery. Why not celebrate? His son went from death to life, was lost and was found. All of us enjoy celebrating…births of babies, salvation of people, anniversaries, weddings, the building of a house or a church. The list is numerous. The point is celebrating accomplishments is a good thing. In the last few days, Pickens Baptist Association has reason to celebrate.

Nearly 70 deacons and wives with some pastors and wives attended the annual Deacons/Wives Appreciation Banquet. Bro. Ken Allen of the Alabama State Board of Missions spoke that evening challenging us to be servant leaders. (Bro. Jim Swedenburg of Pickens County was originally scheduled, but he had unexpected bypass surgery which made it impossible for him to be with us. Continue to pray for him as he recovers.) Mrs. Lauren Morris Averette sang several songs accompanied by her father, Ricky Morris. I enjoyed getting to know better some of our deacons and wives that I only see occasionally. Thank you Highland Baptist Church for hosting us!

On Saturday, October 12, more than 40 youth and leaders gathered at Mineral Springs Baptist Church for a dodgeball tournament. 2 girl’s teams and 4 boy’s teams competed for the prizes. The youth of Mineral Springs won the top prizes, but Stansel’s teams gave gallant efforts. There was a brief appearance by some of the leaders, but those 2 matches went by quickly. I’m grateful to Mineral Springs for allowing us to use their gym. Thanks to Lowden Richardson, youth pastor of Fayette FBC, who spoke on the certainty of our salvation.

This past Monday, October 14 was the Pickens Baptist Association’s annual meeting at Aliceville FBC. The theme was “Living for Jesus” from Colossians 1.10. There were  messengers and guests who participated. Bro. Glen Kennedy presided over his final meeting because he has accepted the call to become Associate Pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Coker. May God greatly use him there!  He will be missed.

Brother Mike Hall and Mr. Gordon McGlawn were elected as Moderator and Vice-Moderator of PBA for this next year. I look forward to ministering with them.

It was exciting to hear the different ministry and missions reports and preaching. One even added a bit of humor. The reports from the Alabama Children’s Homes, ALCAP, State Missions, and Alabama Christian Higher Education helped give us a better understanding of how our financial gifts are used to further these ministries.

A shout out to Bro. Jed Smart, Mrs. Bridget Crepps, and Bro. Charlie Wilson for handling all the details from lunch to the announcements to the worship and special music. It made the day go smoothly. I’ve heard say how was it possible to do so much and finish on time. Well, thank you, Aliceville FBC!!

Finally,  PBA has much to celebrate. We have been blessed with a rich heritage of missions and ministry, but we must continue looking forward celebrating at the appropriate times what God is doing around us.

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle