January 2022 Mind of the Missionary

“But I trust in You, Lord; I say, ‘You are My Lord.’ My times are in Your hands.”

Psalms 31:14-15a

 

“Time is what we want the most, but what we use worst.” William Penn

 

Mr. Penn’s quote is so true, isn’t it? We have all these plans, but we seem to squander the time that we are given. It sort of slips through our hands. Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.” I know that I have wasted a good bit of time. Even as I am thinking of 2022, I’m sure that I will misuse some of the time that God will give me. I do not say this flippantly because as humans we have the tendency to use our time as we want. We forget that time is not ours, but it is the Lord’s.

David in Psalm 31 speaks of taking refuge in the Lord and how he will trust in the Lord in all areas of his life. Notice that his key statement is “I say, ‘You are My Lord.’” He recognizes that God is his Master, his Boss which makes it possible for David to make the next statement…”My times are in Your hands.”

This leads us to ask the question, “In whose hands are our times?”, “In whom are we entrusting our lives?” David surely knew. He trusted only in the Lord. It is so easy to allow time to dictate to us rather than allow the Lord to lead our lives and our times.

There will always be responsibilities to family, to friends, to work, and to whatever, but it is our decision to allow time to run us. As we are finishing the Christmas season and starting the New Year, how many times have I heard someone say, “I’ll be glad when it’s over! My time has just been so busy.” Why has it been so busy? Are you allowing others and yourself to set your time? Or are you leaving time in the hands of the Lord?

As 2022 begins, may we say as the Psalmist David, “I trust in you, Lord: ‘You are My Lord.’ My times are in Your hands.”

 

Until Next Month,

 

Bro. Lyle

December 2021 Mind of the Missionary

“Remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

The apostle Paul was referring to his hard work among the Ephesians and the importance of not being a burden upon the church. Also, in this statement, he mentioned that through his “hard work we must help the weak”. It’s interesting that this idea of “helping the weak” can be found in more than 10 Bible verses. If you tie in Bible passages about “helping the poor”, there are nearly 30 more.  In both cases, these words mean to help the physically as well as the spiritually weak. It is not a command, but it is our duty as believers to help those who are weak and poor.

In our Pickens Baptist Association churches and other churches and organizations throughout Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States shoeboxes are being shipped to local, regional, and national Operation Christmas Child drop-off locations from November 15 – 22.  Nearly 575,000 volunteers worldwide—with more than 270,000 of those in the U.S.—are involved in this process which reaches more than 170 countries and territories. What a Blessing!

 

We’ve put 2 pictures in this newsletter to represent our giving in the Pickens Baptist Association. Mr. Gaines House donated much of his card collection that he has accumulated over the years to OCC, so these children can have the same joy that he has received from them. Also, Mrs. Peggy Strawn and Camryn Faison of  Aliceville FBC are seen packing a shoebox together. Mrs. Peggy said, “Camryn and I had a very good conversation about the boxes she packed. ‘I love that each child gets to learn about the love of Jesus…’”.

 

I believe this is what Paul meant when he quoted Jesus, “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. Mr. Gaines, Mrs. Peggy, and Camryn are just a small number of those in Pickens Baptist Association participating in this ministry which will touch nearly 10 million children this year.

 

Pray, seek, and watch where God may lead you to give this year in Pickens County. This can be done through Mission Pickens of Mineral Springs Baptist Church, the Food Pantry at Highland Baptist Church, the Angel Tree ministry promoted by the PBA WMU, the Baptist Center Holiday boxes, and the Pickens County DHR for Foster children just to name a few. However, you choose to help the weak and the poor will be a blessing because giving is better than receiving. 

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle

November 2021 Mind of the Missionary

“Be strong and courageous. Do not frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”   (Joshua 1:7)

On Monday, November 8 from 6:00 until 8:00 pm at Carrollton Baptist Church, there will be a special celebration called “A Night of Encouragement and Evangelism”. It will be a time for pastors, leaders, and church members to be encouraged by Dr. Kevin Hamm, Sr. Pastor, and Tanner Vines, Minister of Worship, of Gardendale FBC. Our Alabama State Board of Missions Evangelism Department will sponsor this event to honor your hard work during these difficult times of COVID.

 

Our Scripture passage focuses on God’s encouraging words to Joshua as he begins leading Israel to the Promised Land. Joshua is a man who has watched Moses, his mentor, do some amazing things from defeating the Egyptian armies to leading the people of Israel over the previous 40 years to the entrance of the Promised Land.

 

Honestly, if I were in a similar situation I’d be thinking, how could I do what Moses did? Well, God had these encouraging words for Joshua; “Be strong and courageous. Don’t be frightened or dismayed because the Lord your God will be with you”. God knew that Joshua was not Moses, but God also knew that Moses was not Joshua. Joshua need not compare himself to his former leader. Joshua could only be sure of one thing…God would be with him wherever he went.

 

PBA pastors, leaders, and church members have been put in difficult situations with difficult decisions. Remember who you are in Christ and the words that He has spoken to you during this crisis. Please don’t miss this opportunity because I’d love to see you there!

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle

October 2021 Mind of the Missionary

October is traditionally “Pastor Appreciation Month”. Many churches celebrate this month honoring their pastors and staff while others celebrate it some other time of the year. Unfortunately, there are many churches who do not recognize their pastors and staff at all. As a former church planter/pastor, I cherished the times in when our churches showed kindness towards Claren and me. It made us feel appreciated for the work that God called us to do.

Pastoral ministry is not like any other vocation because most of what a pastor does is not seen publicly. Everyone knows that he only works only one day a week, maybe two if there’s a Wednesday night prayer meeting. However, a faithful pastor does so much more. He visits; he calls, he texts; he emails; he preaches; he teaches, he prays for the flock; he travels to where members and non-members are; and I could go on.

However, COVID has made the pastors’ task much more stressful and different. Each one has had to work with church leadership to decide whether or not to meet, how often, and when to reopen. The pastor has not been able to visit in the hospitals and nursing and private homes as is his custom. Special events like revivals, homecomings, VBS, and other gatherings have been postponed or rescheduled. Honestly, it’s been a super stressful time for our pastors.

As Pickens Baptist Association churches, take time this year to remember and appreciate your pastors. Here are just a few ways that you can celebrate them:

  • Pray for them. It sounds easy, but prayer is hard work. Pray for his family, his ministry, and his health. Pastoral Ministry is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. Look it up!
  • Encourage them. Write him a card; send him a text or an email; tell him face-to-face that you appreciate him and his ministry.
  • Stand by his family. Most pastors leave churches and the ministry because of the treatment of their families. If a pastor’s wife and/or children are not loved and appreciated why would a pastor want to stay?
  • Recognize your pastor and his family in October or some other time during the year. Make them feel special because they are special. They are YOUR pastoral family!
  • Give the pastor a special gift. It doesn’t have to be a financial gift. It could be a date night, a baby-sitting night, a special dinner, but something that lets them know that they are a blessing to your church.   These are just a few ideas. Be creative and think of ways to remember your pastor and the ways that he serves your church. As Paul said, “…esteem very highly in love….” 

    Until Next Month,

    Bro. Lyle

September 2021 Mind of the Missionary

“…and so I have fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.” (Romans 15:19b-20)

I believe this is one of many mission statements by Paul. It expresses how he did ministry. He was not afraid to go as God led him with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. I understand what he is saying because I Love Missions! I don’t just enjoy going on mission trips, but I love being involved and living missions.

I remember that day in Connecticut when the Holy Spirit spoke to me as I was reading Isaiah 6. As I came across verse 8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord say, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ and I said, ‘Here I am. Send Me!’”  My life changed forever. I had no idea where I was going, or what I’d be doing. I just knew God called me to missions. Fortunately, God led me to Claren who loved missions as much as I. It has definitely made His call easier to fulfill.

Every September is the emphasis of the Myers/Mallory State Missions offering for Church Planting, Church Revitalization, WMU, Partnership Missions, and Disaster Relief. These monies are used to strengthen the work of these areas within the state of Alabama. This year’s goal is $1.2 million dollars. The Pickens Baptist Association gave over $11,000 dollars last year. That’s good, but I sense that all of us can do better.

The namesakes of our Alabama State Missions Offering are Kathleen Mallory and Martha Myers. Kathleen Mallory felt God calling her to promote missions education through the Alabama and National WMU. In 1909, Kathleen became Alabama WMU’s Secretary/Treasurer. While in 1912, she became the National WMU Secretary/Treasurer for 36 years. She wrote that “substance and self” were all a Christian had to give and that these gifts should be “fragrant with self-denial”.

Dr. Martha Myers started her missions career during her third year of medical school. She participated in a Foreign Mission Board (IMB) program which allowed her to spend two months doing medical work at Jibla Baptist Hospital in Yemen. This experience changed the course of her life. She quickly finished her senior year of medical school, internship, and residency through the University of South Alabama. Then, Dr. Martha attended seminary classes and began learning Arabic. Eventually, she was appointed by the Foreign Mission Board to serve as a medical doctor in Yemen. She served sacrificially there for 25 years. Sadly, her life ended on December 30, 2002 when she and two other American missionaries were murdered by a member of an al-Qaida cell. One of her most memorable statements was, “Things don’t matter, but people do.”

Remember the lives of these two ladies as you pray and seek how much your congregation’s goal will be this year. Don’t ever say, “We can’t do that!” With God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19.26)

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle

August 2021 Mind of the Missionary

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and an eyewitness of the sufferings of Christ,..”  (I Peter 5:1)

A couple of months ago, I knew that I could not attend this year’s Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville due to a previous ministry commitment, but I did want an eyewitness account of what happened. So, I spoke with Bro. Robert Heard to share his perspectives. I hope his words will give some comfort and encouragement to you as to the direction and new leadership of Southern Baptist life.

My Perspective of the 2021

Southern Baptist Convention

Before going to this year’s Southern Baptist Convention, I was a little apprehensive about what would happen and what the future would hold for our denomination.  The social media posts by many pastors and leaders in the convention were very negative.  The news reports painted a bleak picture of racial tension, sex abuse cover-ups, and partisan bickering that could lead to the end of the Southern Baptist Convention as we know it.  From all I had read, I truly believed and still do that this was one of if not the most important conventions since the conservative resurgence in 1979.  I described it to many of my friends and colleagues as a watershed moment.

The false narratives spun by many in the main stream media tell of boisterous debates, “liberal” policy statements, and a major rift in the convention.  That is not at all what I encountered.  What I experienced was being part of over 15,000 Southern Baptists kneeling in prayer before our Heavenly Father to plead for Him to unify us around the cause of evangelism and discipleship.  I saw the convention and the convention leadership make several clear and unambiguous statements about the need to end sexual abuse and racial discrimination.  I heard calls for unity, love, cooperation, and gospel-centeredness.

The convention passed many important motions and resolutions.  One of the most important was the adoption of a vision statement calling for us as Southern Baptists to “to reach every person for Christ in every town, every city, every state, and every nation” before the year 2025.  This vision calls for us to increase missionaries, churches, leaders, and giving to see the Great Commission accomplished. The convention took a strong stand against abortion – what many have stated is the most pro-life statement in the history of our convention.  Steps were taken to provide more transparency in how we deal with sex abuse allegations among our churches.

Many have pointed out in their social media reporting that the Southern Baptist Convention consists largely of predominately white congregations.  They failed to report that the worship team leading us to God’s throne each session consisted of people from multiple ethnic origins.  Three out of the four men nominated for convention president were nominated by minority individuals (two by black men and one by a woman of Asian descent).  I saw people of varied ethnic backgrounds praying for each other, worshipping side by side, and displaying harmony that is not often seen in our world today.

I saw the gospel and missions put at the very center of all that Southern Baptists focused on during the meetings…and that’s the way it should be.  I had the privilege to witness sixty-four missionaries commissioned to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.  The messengers voted to increase our missionaries by a net of 500 over the next five years.  Evangelism was emphasized as was discipleship.

I came away encouraged and excited about the future of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It is my hope and prayer that the calls for unity, love and cooperation will be heeded, and we will be able to fulfill our Lord’s command to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).  This task can only be achieved if we work together and unify around the essentials that unite us as Southern Baptists – the gospel, missions, discipleship and cooperation through the Cooperative Program.  If we do this, then great days are ahead.

July 2021 Mind of the Missionary

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”  (Galatians 5:13)

Our nation is on the verge of celebrating its 245th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and it appears as though we have retreated from its original purpose to declare ourselves an independent country with no need of God. With all the entanglements in which we find ourselves these days (i.e. politically, economically and socially), we do not have a clear understanding or a clear direction.

I am not a sailor.  But I remember while living in Uruguay, the early navigators would seek out the Southern Cross to lead them in the right direction. Well, it appears as though, our nation both Christian and non-Christian must return once again to the liberty that only Christ can offer us. It is only through Him that we can have true liberty and freedom. 

Paul writes that we “have been called unto liberty”. However, we have used our liberty and freedom as an excuse to “sow our wild oats”, “do whatever we want to do”,  and “live however we want to live” without regard to others. This is not the way life should be, but our independence has led us down a path of arrogance, self-indulgence and short-sightedness. In turn, this lifestyle is not making us free, but it is enslaving us more and more to our own sinfulness. Sadly enough, our Christian community is not immune to this slavery.

Paul shows both Christian and non-Christian a better way…”use liberty for an occasion to serve one another by love”. Of course, this is a self-less love, an unconditional love which only comes through a relationship in Christ Jesus. It is through this relationship with Christ that the believer should not seek his own desires, his own ambitions, and his own freedom, but should serve others by loving them. The believer now seeks the best for his family, his friends, his coworkers, his neighbors, and yes, even his enemies. 

Christ’s death on the Cross made this type of love possible. Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) In other words, there are no more entanglements; there is no more enslavement; there is no longer a lack of clarity of understanding and direction. He, the Son, has set us free to serve others by His love.

On this Independence Day, remember not only that our liberty has been bought with the price of soldiers giving their lives for ours, but also remember the price that Jesus Christ paid for us to be free to serve others by His love.

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle

June 2021 Mind of the Missionary

 “’I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters’, says the Lord Almighty.”

(II Corinthians 6:18)

Honestly, I never had really celebrated Father’s Day until I began attending and serving in local churches. Since my earthly father was not present in my life very much, I didn’t understand the importance of celebrating Father’s Day. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that this area of my life was affected greatly. I did not appreciate the role that fathers have in families and society. Unfortunately, our present culture is suffering from the same problem.

Many who have experienced my situation or have been abused by their fathers have disregarded the role of fatherhood. I do not feel that way. As a believer in Christ at the age of 13, God became my Father. For some reason, I never blamed God nor did I heap all of my negative feelings on Him. I understood that there was a difference between my earthly father and my heavenly Father. I’d like to share some of those distinctions with you.

First of all, “God so loved the world”. No matter how much I didn’t feel my earthly father’s love for me, I knew with all my being that God loved me. I can’t explain it. I can’t show it to you. Maybe, I can’t physically prove it, but I know that God loves me. It’s obvious that He loves me through the sending of His Son, Jesus, to die for my sins and giving me a new and abundant life. However, God the Father loves me for who I am and expects me to live for Him. It is not enough that He loves me for who I am, but He wants the best life for me.

Next, God saw me when I was a long way off, was filled with compassion for me, ran to me, and restored me. God sought me out. It’s great to know that our heavenly Father comes looking for us. Jesus said of Himself, “I have come to seek and to save that which was lost”. I was in that condition. I was abandoned by me earthly father, and yet, God ran to me and restored me. He had compassion for me. He saw my condition and did not hesitate to find me. WOW! That was different.

I could say more, but I’ll end with this distinction. God took away my worries about my needs. My father’s absence caused our family to suffer economically, physically, and psychologically. It took me years to forgive my earthly father for his actions, but God the Father showed me that by “seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness” that all the needs of my life would be met. God was and is faithful. He has been my Father when I was fatherless.

During this Father’s Day season, if your earthly father has been a failure or is not all you need him to be, remember that God the Father is trustworthy, dependable, and faithful to be your Father because we are his Children.

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

May 2021 Mind of the Missionary

 Therefore  we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

Isn’t this a great picture? The Russell and Dahlberg boys were recently baptized at Aliceville FBC after their decision for Christ and their public profession of faith. You can see the gleam and excitement in their eyes as they begin this new life in Him. It reminds me of my beginnings as a believer at 12 years old. I accepted Christ at our church’s annual youth revival. I didn’t necessarily understand much regarding this new faith, but I began to grow and walk in Him. I joined the afterschool Bible study, carried a small Bible with me everywhere, and even led a morning devotion in our home room before classes each day. Although we didn’t have a discipleship class as such in our youth group, we had younger Christian couples who guided and taught us how to live for Christ. All of these things helped me to grow in my understanding of this “walk in newness of life”.

What about you? Can you remember those early times of your new faith? Did you grow? Did you have a deep abiding love for Christ more than anything else? OR Have you lost your joy, your peace, and your love for Jesus? Has your “walk in newness of life” become your “walk in oldness of death”? Peter wrote, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit’ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.’” (2 Peter 2:21 – 22)

These are difficult and harsh words written by Peter, but ones that are true. Watch and observe the life of someone who has walked away from his/her faith or has lost his/her passion for the Lord. There is an “oldness of death”. It is as if this person is living as a non-believer rather than a person being transformed by Christ. I have experienced it in my life, and thankfully, Christ kept calling me back to Him.

Recently, we’ve come through the Easter season and now we are moving toward Pentecost. The disciples found themselves in an “oldness of death” when Christ died, but they were made to “walk in newness of life” when they saw Him resurrected and even more so when they were filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. May the presence of the Holy Spirit be renewed in us, and may these five boys continue to grow in their “walk in newness of life”.

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle