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

March 2022 Mind of the Missionary

“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Ps. 85:6 ESV)

On Friday and Saturday, March 18 – 19, Dr. Terry Long, Associational Missionary of Choctaw Baptist Association, will be sharing with us about his personal experiences of genuine revival as well as other times throughout Christian history when God’s Spirit has fallen upon His people. I personally invite our PBA pastors, members, and communities to participate in the “When Falls the Fire” conference.

In Psalm 85, the Sons of Korah recognized that God’s people upon returning from exile in Babylon were still suffering under the consequences of their sin against God. As worship leaders, they wanted to know from the Lord, when could they experience revived hearts in order to rejoice again because it had been over 70 years since God’s favor was upon them.

Although we have many people and some churches who are seeking Jesus fervently, there are many who are not. As believers, we realize that we have been affected more by society than we have affected society. One of the hallmarks of revival and awakening is “a significant impact upon the community at large” (Terry Long). Long talks about the Welsh revival of 1904-1905 whereby “Whole towns and villages were caught up in revival…There was such a drop in crime that police officers formed quartets because there were virtually no crimes to process…It is said that mules had to be retrained because their owners had stopped cursing and the mules didn’t recognize their voices!”

Oh, that God would move like this among believers and churches in Pickens County! A.W. Tozer wrote, “There is no limit to what God could do in our world if we would dare to surrender to Him with a commitment that says, ‘Oh God, I hereby give myself, my family, my business, and all I possess to You. Take all of it, Lord’”.

William Paton Mackay composed the hymn “Revive Us Again” during the Scottish Awakening of 1859-1860. The second verse reads, “Revive us again, Fill each heart with Thy Love, May each soul be rekindled with Fire from Above”. Honestly, I don’t know what God will do through this “When the Fire Falls” conference, but I’m asking you to make a commitment to pray for revival until it comes. It may not come for some time, or it may come quickly, but may all of us see God’s Spirit work mightily through us in Pickens County!

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle

February 2022 Mind of the Missionary

“He (Paul) proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ-with all BOLDNESS and without HINDRANCE.” 

(Acts 28:31 NIV)

 

What is boldness? There are many New Testament passages which use this word directly especially in the book of Acts once the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.  It is more of an idea of courage in the Old Testament, but it seems to be more than just courage. The technical definition is “a willingness to take risks and act innovately; confidence or courage” (Oxford Dictionary). So, courage is among the terms used to describe it. However, I return to the first section where it states “a willingness to take risks and act innovately”.

Paul definitely took risks and acted innovately in his ministry. He was truly unorthodox. His salvation experience was unorthodox. His taking the Gospel to the non-Jewish nations was unorthodox. His practice of the Judeo-Christian faith was unorthodox. There was nothing “normal” about Paul, and I love how Luke wrapped up the book of Acts by saying, “He(Paul) proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ-with all BOLDNESS and without HINDRANCE”. Whether as a free man openly sharing the Gospel or as a prisoner sharing the Gospel with his “companions”(prison guards), Paul did so with boldness and without hindrance. Nothing stopped him! 

As US citizens, we are fortunate to live in a country where we can openly share the Gospel. Yes, there are some inconveniences, but there are NOT any hindrances to our proclaiming and teaching about Jesus. If there are any, I believe, we place them on ourselves.

Recently, I’ve been reading about the pastors and families who live in what’s called the “Red Zone” of Colombia where the “Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia” (FARC) make their home. Their churches are told what to preach, how to distribute their offerings, when to close due to the preaching/teaching of the pastor, and to face physical and mental persecution on a daily basis.

About what do we as US pastors have to complain? “I don’t get paid enough.” “I don’t have enough time with my family and friends.” “ I don’t

have a week or 2 weeks paid vacation.” Truly, about what do we have to complain? I’m not saying that some pastorates aren’t more difficult than others, but tell the truth, do you have someone with an AK-47 in your church waiting for you to say the wrong thing??

As proclaimers and teachers of the Lord Jesus Christ, may we be bold and not allow anyone to hinder us from doing the work of the Kingdom of God! What does this mean? It means we need to pray together, to study His Word together, and not be in competition, but cooperate together. Notice how Paul did not upon depend himself to win the western world with the Gospel. He poured himself into men and women of strong Christian character who took the message of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. May we do the same!

 

Until Next Month,

Bro. Lyle