October 2020 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

October 2020

“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,’ says the Lord. ‘You expected it to be much, but see, it turned out to be little ….’”

(Haggai 1:7 – 8)

Last week, I was reading an article by Dr. Ronnie Floyd, SBC Executive Committee President. He started his article about the “deep and increasing burden” that God placed on his heart concerning our present situation in the United States about the state of our SBC churches, the fighting among Christians, and the division in our nation. He spoke of his needing to take time to pray and fast before the Lord to know how to speak to these issues. Upon finishing his time of prayer and fasting, the Lord led him into a time of personal repentance which included humility and brokenness. It was based on his reading of Haggai especially chapter one.

As I read through these same passages, I became moved, too, but maybe in a different way. Notice, how the Lord Almighty says, “Give careful thought to your ways.” Then, the Lord gives specific instructions to the people of Israel to rebuild the temple. After the exile in Babylon and Persia, the people returned all excited about the rebuilding of the temple, but opposition from neighboring nations discouraged them from finishing the project. God sent Haggai, the prophet, to remind them to “give careful thought to your ways” because the people didn’t hesitate building their houses of luxury and comfort, but they didn’t finish the main work which was the rebuilding of God’s temple. God, Himself, said, “build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored”.

During our strange times, this is the question that we must ask ourselves, “our we taking pleasure in the Lord’s house and honoring him?” This passage speaks to the perseverance of His people. Are we persevering during the coronavirus? Have we given up? Do we feel that worshipping indoors is impossible? Have we forgotten the importance of gathering together as a body of believers? Many of our PBA pastors have told me they feel that some of their members will NEVER return to the church building. Don’t get me wrong, I know that the church is the people. I know some of you are high risk… BUT, the church is not the church unless it gathers together somewhere, sometime, and somehow. Watching worship on your TV, I-phone, or I-pad just doesn’t get it.

Brothers and Sisters, it is time to persevere. It is time to move forward and do the work of the Lord. In Haggai chapter 2, the word of the Lord came to Haggai to share with the Jewish leaders, “Be strong, all you people of the land, and WORK. For I am with you, declares the Lord Almighty”. The Lord is with us even during this pandemic of COVID-19. “Give careful thought to ways” that you can meet with your fellow believers and continue doing the WORK of the Lord!

 

Until next month,

Bro. Lyle

September 2020 Mind of the Missionary

Mind of the Missionary

September 2020

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread of and to prayer…Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people…”  (Acts 2:42, 45 – 47)

Is it possible to have a healthy church in an unhealthy environment? If there were ever an unhealthy environment, it would have been during the time of the early church. The Roman Empire hindered the church through beatings, persecutions, and crucifixions. Notice how the apostles especially Peter, Philip, and Paul carried the Gospel beyond Jerusalem. The book of Acts shows us how “boldly and without hindrance [they] preached the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 28:31)

During COVID-19, have we allowed our churches to become unhealthy? What is a healthy church? A healthy church is one that worships, evangelizes, disciples, ministers, and fellowships. I heard it explained like this…imagine a 4-legged table. If you take away or shorten one of the legs, what happens? It either falls or wobbles. The same is true of an unhealthy church. When a church is not worshipping, evangelizing, discipling, ministering or fellowshipping, it is not a healthy church.

But Bro. Lyle, you don’t understand what’s happening? I do, and I don’t. It’s true that I’m not pastoring, but I do believe there are opportunities for us to experience a healthy church in this unusual time.  First of all, I applaud you for using various methods for your churches’ worship. Even, some of you have been offering your Bible study in-person and online. That’s great!

However, are we still seeking opportunities to share the Gospel, to disciple new and mature believers, and to fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Yes, these may be harder to accomplish, but these purposes can be done. Of course, it may mean meeting outside our church buildings, finding times that are uncomfortable, or giving up a personal activity or two. But, isn’t having a healthy church and fulfilling God’s purposes more important than our comfort?!

Again, let’s use the early church as an example. It many times met in catacombs. Yes, catacombs, an underground cemetery!  I’m not saying “Go meet in a cemetery or a mausoleum”, but let’s try something “outside the box”. Every church must decide how to fulfill its church’s purposes, but I do believe that our PBA churches can become healthy in an unhealthy environment.

Whatever we can do at PBA to help you become healthy or grow healthier, please contact us. We have trained leaders to serve YOU!

Until next month,

 

Bro. Lyle

OMC Weekly Prayer Guide

On Mission Celebration 2021

Weekly Prayer Guide

 

Week of Prayer Topic
7/26 – 8/1 Pray that the planning team will be led by the Holy Spirit in all decisions.
8/2 – 8/8 100% Participation by PBA Churches
8/9 – 8/15 Selection of Missionaries and their encouragement (Ps 112:6-7)
8/16 – 8/22 Pray for the families who will host missionaries in homes during the OMC.
8/23 – 8/29 Pray for the OMC team leader (Bro. Lyle) as he oversees all the planning for the OMC.
8/30 – 9/5 Pray for FAMILIES to be on mission for God.
9/6 – 9/12 Pray for strength and perseverance for missionaries (Is 40:31)
9/13 – 9/19 Pray that churches will develop a deeper commitment to pray for missions and missionaries.
9/20 – 9/26 Pray that the promotional team will be creative as they promote the OMC.
9/27 – 10/3 Pray for CHURCH missions.
10/4 – 10/10 Pray for the provision for the missionaries. (Phil 4:19)
10/11 – 10/17 Pray that churches will increase their financial support of missions.
10/18 – 10/24 Pray that the hospitality committee will find an abundant of volunteers to help with the OMC.
10/25 – 10/31 Pray for ASSOCIATIONAL mission opportunities. (Visit pickensbaptist.com for more info.)
11/1 – 11/7 Pray for open hearts as the missionaries share the gospel. (Jer 24:7)
11/8 – 11/14 Pray that missions will come alive to all those who participate.
11/15 – 11/21 Pray that the special events team will find opportunities for the missionaries to share their story outside the churches during the week of the OMC.
11/22 – 11/28 Pray for STATE missions. (Visit alsbom.org for more information.)
11/29 – 12/5 Pray that the missionaries will find joy in the trials they face. (Ps 126:5-6)
12/6 – 12/12 Pray that individuals will make life changing decisions about being on mission with God.
12/13 – 12/19 Pray that the financial team will make wise decisions in raising/spending funds for the OMC.
12/20 – 12/26 Pray for NORTH AMERICAN missions. (Visit namb.net for more information.)
12/27 – 1/2 Pray for the darkness to be lifted in the area the missionaries serve. (Is 61:1)
1/3 – 1/9 Pray that churches will reevaluate their methods of church-wide missions.
1/10 – 1/16 Pray for missionary kids.
1/17 – 1/23 Pray for INTERNATIONAL missions. (Visit imb.org for more information.)
1/24 – 1/30 Pray for divine opportunities for the missionaries. (Col 4:3-4)
1/31 – 2/6 Pray for churches to broaden their mission’s commitment.
2/7 – 2/13 Pray for pastors to promote missions in their churches.
2/14 – 2/20 Pray for the protection and safety of the missionaries (Ps 121:8)
2/21 – 2/27 Pray for the Lord to work and for lives to be changed during the week of OMC.

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