October 2022 Mind of the Missionary

“Now when they saw the BOLDNESS of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”  (Acts 4:13)

The phrase “boldness” is used to describe how Peter and John spoke to the crowds. It became obvious to the religious leaders that they had been with Jesus. It leads me to ask, Is it obvious that we have been with Jesus? Are we bold in our speech, in our conduct, in our faith, and in our love to the point that people recognize to whom we belong?  I guess that’s the million dollar question. Can people recognize Christ in us?

Paul, Luke, and John use the phrase, “in Christ”, over 75 times in the New Testament. Mostly, this phrase is used to describe our relationship to Him. If this is the case, then we should be reflecting Him, should we not? Paul writes, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Ephesians 2:10)  There it is. We, his followers, were created-His Handiwork-to do good works for Him. We should be reflecting Him in this lost and dying world.

For this reason, I’ve been led to this theme for our annual meeting, “Dangerously Bold!” As Jesus’ followers, it becomes necessary for us to be bold in every area of our lives in order that the unsaved know that Christ lives in us. Brother Tim Jones of Pickensville FBC will speak on this theme in the afternoon session of the meeting. I look forward to hearing how God will use Brother Tim to share this message.

I invite our pastors, messengers, and church members to attend this year’s annual meeting at Friendship BC outside of Reform on Monday, October 10. The times for the 1st and 2nd sessions are changing, so please make a note of it. The first session begins with registration at 2:45 pm and the meeting at 3:00 pm. The afternoon session will feature our state and associational leadership sharing how God is working in the state of Alabama and in Pickens County. The 1st session will end with a worship service and Brother Tim’s message on our being “Dangerously Bold!”

In the evening session which will begin after supper, our entire focus will be on associational, national, and international missions. At this moment, it seems as though all the missionaries that the Pickens Baptist Association sponsors will be in attendance. That’s incredible! It’ll be the first time this has happened since I’ve been your Associational Missionary. I’m super-excited! 

To finish the evening, Brother Mike Owen, Harvest Mission-Brazil missionary, will preach and share what God is doing through his quilombola ministry in Northeastern Brazil. Come, Hear, and Participate in the Joy of how God is using the PBA to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle     

September 2022 Mind of the Missionary

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”   (I Peter 1:6 – 7)

 

About a year ago, Claren and I went to one of our sister churches near Columbus to see Dennis Swanberg, the “Swan”, as he likes to call himself. We were introduced to his Christian comedy several years ago through my in-laws. I know what you’re thinking, your in-laws? Yes, my in-laws. Believe it or not, this time they were right on target. This man just made me laugh at loud through his stories and jokes on video and DVD.

Well, Claren and I went looking forward to the same type of experience, but in person. Everyone can always use some laughter to brighten his day. Even Solomon said, “A glad heart makes a happy face;” and “A cheerful heart is good medicine;”. As Dennis shared his stories and jokes with us, Claren and I began to notice something else. He was sharing Biblical principles through his stories. There was a purpose behind his insane comedy. Dennis wanted us to experience God’s abundant life.

This got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing)…what if “The Swan” came to Pickens Baptist Association! Well, I contacted his son who put us down for Monday and Tuesday, September 26 and 27. It was just that simple. I couldn’t believe it.

So, pastors, deacons, and seniors, Dennis Swanberg will be our speaker for the Deacons/Wives banquet on Monday, September 26 at 6:30 pm at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church. The cost will be $10 per person. Then, he will speak at the Sr. Adult Revival on Tuesday, September 27 between 10:00 am and noon at Carrollton Baptist Church. There is NO cost for this event. More information will be released at the beginning of September.

Since our meeting “The Swan” last year, I decided to use his devotional book entitled, “Breakfast, Bible, and Bull”. He said that his mother wasn’t too happy with the title, but he explained to her that it’s a MAN’s devotional book. I liked that. I have one more week before I finish. It’s been interesting to read about his life and ministry. I look forward to him being here. I hope you will, too!

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle

August 2022 Mind of the Missionary

“Today salvation has come to this house,…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”   (Luke 19:9a,10)

Zacchaeus experienced salvation on the day that Jesus visited him at his house. He went from being a despised Jewish tax collector to a transformed man in Christ.  Don’t we desire salvation for everyone…our family, our friends, our neighbors, and even our enemies!? Unfortunately, the statistics tell a different story. Presently, the baptisms to members ratio has reached 1:60 in our SBC churches. In Pickens County, the 2021 statistic is 1:47. This is better than the national convention, but are we content with this number? I hope not. Our desire is for every new believer to take that first step of obedience of baptism as quickly as possible.

On Saturday, August 20, Daniel Wilson, Director of Evangelism for the Alabama State Board of Missions, will conduct a training event for our PBA churches called the “Gospel for Everyone”. This emphasis is directed to each of our churches distributing a packet of materials to all houses, trailers, and apartments in your surrounding church’s area. On that Saturday, each church will receive a packet filled with a tract, a copy of the Jesus DVD, an example letter to place in the packet, and a map or maps of your church’s community.

It will be your decision as to how quickly you distribute the packets. For instance, you can do a one weekend blitz, a one month blitz, or a one quarter blitz. The idea is to put this material in all the residences of Pickens County. Each church can decide how it will speak to the people at each residence. You can attempt to speak at all of them, at some of them, or none of them. No matter what your church decides, please make sure to leave your packet. Make sure that your letter has contact names, phone numbers, and addresses for your pastor and church. The Evangelism team of PBA is ready and willing to help if your church needs “foot soldiers” to canvass your community.

Zacchaeus had a life-changing event by Jesus coming to his house. Your church’s commitment to visit the houses in Pickens County will have the same affect. As we all know, non-believers are not going to drop-in to our churches without someone visiting and/or contacting them. This is one way to accomplish that task.

Plan to be with us on Saturday, August 20 from 9:00 until 11:00 am. You will receive further information as we get closer to the date.

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle

July 2022 Mind of the Missionary

“You are Light of the World.”

(Matthew 5:14a)

 

What do VBS, missions trips, and Brunswick stew have in common? They most commonly happen during the summer months. The Pickens Baptist Association has been very blessed with 20 churches reaching their communities through Vacation Bible School. Through the music, crafts, and Bible stories, the children are hearing a clear message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As these children hear the Gospel, not only will they hear, but also, their parents will, too. That’s what you want!

The Pickens Baptist Association is sponsoring 4 different mission trips this summer. The annual Brazil mission trip took place from May 27 until June 5. There were some travel “hiccups” leaving the US, but the team persevered and arrived to complete their task of evangelism, social ministry, and building a chapel for the new body of believers in Maior Campo (Big Country/Field), Brazil. Many heard the Gospel message and nearly 200 accepted Christ. AMEN! Thank you, Mr. Buddy Kirk, for faithfully leading this team.

Three other teams will be commissioned in July. They are the Carlisle, Pennsylvania team, the Forgotten Children’s Ministries team, and the Whitehall, Montana team. Each of these teams will do distinct ministries from evangelism, church planting, prayer walking, evangelistic surveys, and social ministries. Pray that each team member will be a “light in the darkness”.

Our passage from Jesus’ teachings on the Beatitudes shows us the importance of shining our light. My emphasis this month is on local, national, and international missions. As I said to one of our pastors recently, we cannot be witnesses or a light for Christ if we don’t witness or shine for Him where we live. How true this is! Christ has placed us, His Body, in Pickens County to “shine before others” in order that God may be glorified. Let’s Be Lights for Christ!

Oh, the Brunswick stew…I mentioned it because many of our churches and businesses make and sell it to prepare our stomachs for the cooler weather whenever that will be. Also, I just like it!

 

Until Next Month,

 

Bro. Lyle

June 2022 Mind of the Missionary

“ Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”    (Isaiah 64:8)

I must admit I’m not a craftsman, nor a mechanic, nor a handyman. I don’t know why. My father was able to fix or build anything. My brother did a pretty good job himself. I guess it skipped the oldest child. I know occasionally my father-in-law didn’t understand my ineptitude…“Anybody should be able to fix this or that!” Well, meet Mr. Inept! However, I do know how to call in the expert to fix or build that I cannot do.

The same is true concerning ourselves. We work, work, and work trying to do this or resolve this problem in our own lives without realizing that it is God, the Father, who is the Potter who shapes our lives. When we allow Him to work on us.

I recently heard a message from a pastor who used two of Jesus’ sayings – “apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5c) and “With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 b) His point was we, as God’s creation, can do nothing, only God can do His work. That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Or Does it? For some reason, we like to give God a hand. Truly, it should be God’s hand guiding us!

This week, Claren and I got to meet our newest addition to the family – our great nephew. His mom and dad are learning what it means to be parents. They have the honor of shaping and molding the life of this little one. They will be sharing with him their Christian faith. Our great nephew is clay in their hands. During these first few years, whatever he believes will be what they believe until our nephew can begin to reason and to think for himself. What an awesome responsibility!

This is what God is doing with us. He wants to mold and shape us in His image. Listen again to the words of the great hymn:

Have Thine own way Lord
Have Thine own way
Thou art the potter I am the clay
Mold me and make me after Thy will
While I am waiting yielded and still”

May we allow the Lord to mold and make us after His will! However, we must be still for Him to work on us.

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle

May 2022 Mind of the Missionary

“When I recall to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” (II Timothy 1.5)

 

Mother’s Day is almost here! It is the third most popular holiday after Christmas and Easter, and why not? Mothers have a great influence on the life of a child. She carries her child for nine months. She is the main person who feeds him/her; who bathes him/her; who changes him/her; who puts him/her to bed; plus she may be working inside or outside the home. No offense men, but we’re not as strong as we think we are. Mothers have a strength and grit that men don’t.

I remember when my mother and father separated and then divorced. My Mom resolved to care for my brother and me. She got up early and did a newspaper route from her car and worked at her regular job for twelve hours just to make ends meet. Unfortunately, I have not always grasped the sacrifice that she made for us. As she got older, this took a toll on her body, but her influence taught me the importance of providing for one’s family.

As my brother and I got older, Mom made sure that we were attending our local church every opportunity that presented itself. Her openness made it possible for me to hear the Gospel and respond to it when I was 12 years old. Later, when I was 19 and had the opportunity to do a missions project which then led to service in a Baptist mission center in Connecticut, Mom encouraged me to do it. Her influence and encouragement were important to the growth of my Christian faith.

All of us can think of those moms who have a negative influence upon their children. Most psychologists agree that this influence affects a child even more than a positive one. They are the ones who practice over/under or uninvolvement; who practice little or no discipline; who practice strict or rigid discipline; who withdraw affection and attention; and who practice shaming them.

As we see in the life of Timothy, his mother and grandmother led him to faith in Christ. He was not “drug” to Christ, he was led to Him by their influence. Moms, I’m grateful for what you do for us!

William Ross Wallace penned the poem, “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle”. This is one of the stanzas:

‘Women, how divine is your mission Here upon our natal sod;

Keep, O keep the young heart open Always to the breath of God!…

For the hand that Rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

Mothers, may you continue to be a positive, Christian influence on your children!

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle

April 2022 Mind of the Missionary

“I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall NEVER die. Believest thou this?”

John 11:25-26

 

As much as we hear these words of Jesus, putting them into practice is very hard. Why is it hard? Because we’ve never died before. We’ve had loved ones, family members, and friends die, but we haven’t personally experienced it nor can we without leaving this physical world. This was the situation that Martha was living as her brother, Lazarus, had died, and she knew that “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”

When we experience the death of a loved one, do we not ask Jesus the same question, “Lord, if only you had healed, or protected, or been here, he/she would still be alive today.” Yet, Jesus continues asking us, “Do you not believe that you who believes in me will NEVER die?”

Death has been all around us during the COVID pandemic. Now, with all that is happening in Ukraine, we are reminded of death on a daily basis. If it’s not innocent families, it’s innocent mothers, or it’s innocent children. War does not play favorites. It kills everyone in its path, the guilty as well as the innocent. It’s not fair!

However, Jesus reminds us during this Easter season that He is “the Resurrection and the Life”, and no one will die eternally by believing in Him. This is the HOPE that we have as believers in Jesus. No matter how hard it might be to wrap our finite minds around this concept. It is TRUE!

In my daily reading this morning, I read from Ezekiel 18.30b-32 – “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and Live!” God does not want us to die.

Will we not learn that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to give us eternal life and life in abundance? May this Easter be the year in which we are certain that we will never die!

 

Until Next Month,

 

Bro. Lyle