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

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.