A Missionary’s Biography

One of the books I am currently reading is a biography of the life of Dr. David Livingstone… entitled, The Daring Heart of David Livingstone, written by Jay Milbrandt.  Dr. Livingstone was a fascinating man.

On one occasion, as he stood before a group in order to explain his work in Africa, he spoke of his call to be a missionary:

“Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay?  Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter?  Away with the words in such a view and with such a thought!

“It is emphatically no sacrifice.  Say rather that it is a privilege.  Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment.  All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us.  I never made a sacrifice.”

What a perspective!  Would that we would all… including myself… view our lives and  ministry in such a way!!

2 Ways to Live On Mission with Your Family

If our family… our immediate family who lives under same roof or our extended family we may see every day, every week, or at family reunions… are those closest to us, then they are certainly those to whom we can most often show and share Christ.  How do we do that?  Depending on the relationship, we can:

  • Be Instructive to Children

When it comes to a parent’s role in a child’s life, he/she is the primary discipler.  Not the pastor, not the youth minister, not the children’s minister… but the parent.  We cannot delegate our child’s spiritual growth to a church, school, camp, or trip.  Others can help, but WE are responsible to teach and model the gospel to our kid.  Remembering Deuteronomy 6, we demonstrate the good news to our children… in everyday ways, using everyday objects and stories.  We help them understand the motives behind disobedience.  We pray for them… and with them… and encourage them to pray themselves.  We explain baptism and communion to them while they watch as we partake.  We read the Bible… sometimes out loud, we have family devotions, we pray.  As the opportunity arises, we explain how much God loves them… and what Jesus did for them on the cross… and why He did that.

God has placed us on mission to those He’s most-closely entrusted to us.  Our own children are part of our mission field.

  • Be Faithful to Adults

In the 10 Commandments, we are told to “honor” our parents.  But, the New Testament also speaks to adult relationships… echoing these words over and over in different ways.  The Bible tells servants how to behave toward their masters (employees to bosses?), wives toward unbelieving husbands, husbands toward unbelieving wives, and every Christian toward those in authority.  As Jesus faithfully laid down His life for us, we are sent to the unbelieving adults in our family.  As Jesus revealed the character and work of God through His actions, death, and resurrection… so we can reveal God’s character through our own words, actions, and death to self.

God has placed us on mission to those He’s most-closely entrusted to us.  Those adults in our family are part of our mission field.

Your Closest Neighbors

Jesus told us to love our neighbors.  When asked to specify who those neighbors are, He implied that EVERYONE is our neighbor.

The greatest act of love from a believer is – of course – to show and share Christ with those who are lost.  And we should be willing to show and share Christ with EVERYONE.

Everyone includes our families!

The largest group of people we interact with on a regular basis are those under our own roofs.  They are our closest mission field, and – sadly – often the most forgotten mission field.  There’s no one with who we share our lives with more than our spouses, our kids, our parents, and our siblings.  Being on mission cannot skip over those closest to us in order to get to those around the world.

After giving the Shema in Deuteronomy 6, God commanded Old Testament Israel to teach these important truths to their children in as many everyday ways as possible.  This sentiment continued throughout the Old Testament, as God instructed His people to make His ways known to their “children and their children’s children”.  Later, in the New Testament, Jesus encouraged children to come to Him (even as His disciples attempted to keep them away).

Unless your family is uniquely blessed, there are likely those within your immediate or extended family who do not yet know Christ.  Some of them may be rejected Christ outright.  Do your best to live on mission with your family.

As we enter into this season of summer of mission trips… and Vacation Bible Schools… let’s do what we can to share Christ.  Let’s share Christ around the world… and in our community.  But, let’s also show and share Christ in our own homes… with our own families!

6 Reasons Why VBS Is A BIG DEAL!

Ah…Vacation Bible School, there’s nothing like it.  Screaming kids, water games, snacks with gummy worms hidden in them.  What kid wouldn’t be up for a week of summer fun?

As we enter into VBS season, I hope our adults and youth are also getting bit with the VBS excitement bug!  Sure, we have to manage all those sugar filled, crazy kids.  But hosting a great VBS is worth the cost!  Here are 6 reasons VBS is a big deal!

  1. VBS gives us the chance to connect with our community!

    Yes, some kids spend their entire summer hopping from one VBS to the next.  But, when they drop into our VBS, we should be thankful!  Each time we connect with a new family, we develop a better picture of what our community is really like.  VBS will help us better understand how to minister to our neighborhoods.

  2. VBS gives us the chance to demonstrate the love of Christ!

    In today’s world, conventional Christianity is becoming increasingly unpopular.  But, the best argument against the stereotype of the “angry Christian” is to love our neighbors.  VBS gives us the chance us to do just that!  As we serve our neighbors’ and co-workers’ kids, we can dispel many of the myths some people have about your church.  Paul encourages us to do just that: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).  VBS provides our church a premium stage for wowing the world with the love of Christ!  Remember the words of our Savior, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).  Let’s highlight God’s love this summer!

  3. VBS give us the chance to fulfill the great commission! 

    Evangelism is not just something missionaries or preachers do.  Nor is it something we do “somewhere else”.  Jesus said all of us are to be making disciples (Math 28:18-20)!  We need to be sharing the gospel in “the uttermost parts of the earth”, but we also must talk about the good news of Jesus in our towns, homes, and ballparks!  VBS gives us an amazing venue for reaching and discipling the kids in our own community!  By participating in VBS, we get to experience the joy of obeying Jesus’ mission call!

  4. VBS gives us the chance to connect with the unchurched! 

    Many kids only come to church during VBS.  By breaking out the wacky games, we can reach the unreachable.  And if it takes playing a few games and sharing a few snacks to earn the opportunity to share Jesus, why wouldn’t we do that?  VBS expands the reach of the gospel into our community!

  5. VBS gives us the chance to work as disciples alongside other disciples!

    Believers tend to get to know other believers best when they’re working side by side in ministry.  I have seen deep friendships grow as people get to know one another by serving snacks, making crafts, doing silly motions while singing songs, etc.  Many people who never really got to know other people in their own church family were able to do so by working in VBS.  As different ages work together… people of different interests work together… maybe even people on different sides of an issue work together… we get to really know one another by working together!

  6. VBS gives us the chance to see people saved! 

    This is the big one.  We do VBS every year because God saves.  We welcome kids to church this summer because God uses VBS leaders to open the eyes of the blind.  And I’m not just talking about the “bad” kids or the unchurched kids.  I was saved at a VBS… and I came from a good family, was in church every Sunday, and was considered a “good” kid!  Anytime the gospel is present, the Holy Spirit can move in powerful ways!  He often works through VBS.  In fact, in many churches, VBS sees more people come to know Christ in a personal way than any other ministry we do in any other week.  In fact, in some churches, VBS sees more people saved in that week than all the other weeks put together!  Let’s hope and pray God uses your VBS to bring many to salvation!

My 1st Week as a Director of Missions

I preached my last sermon at Lonoke Baptist Church on Sunday morning… and started my first day as Director of Missions of the Faulkner Baptist Association on Monday.

I moved some of the boxes of books from my old office to my new office early on Monday morning.  I met with many of the pastors of the Association for a breakfast… then unpacked some boxes.  I got to meet several of our churches’ college ministers at a planning session they’d planned… then went back to office to unpack more boxes.  On Monday night, I packed more boxes and loaded them on my truck.

On Tuesday morning, I unloaded those boxes into my new office… and spent about 3 hours unpacking boxes.  On Tuesday afternoon, I met with a task force on Pastor Appreciation Month at the ABSC building in Little Rock.  On Tuesday night, I packed more boxes and loaded them on my truck.

On Wednesday morning, I unloaded those boxes into my new office.  Then I went to Cold Springs Camp to get a tour from Gene & Lori Chambliss.  Then I had lunch with a pastor and part of his staff.  On Wednesday afternoon, I packed the remaining items into my truck.

On Friday night, I will spend some time with this summer’s camp staff at their orientation retreat… and already have 2 preaching service scheduled within the association.

It has been a busy week (and I haven’t even included all the errands dealing with selling our house and searching for our next house).

I know there may not be any spiritual value in this post… nor any devotional edification.  But, many of you have wanted to know what is going on and how my week has gone… so here it is.  Eventually, I’ll be able to sit down and think deeply again…

On to Our Next Adventure…

As you may have heard by now, I have resigned as pastor of Lonoke Baptist Church (LBC) in order to accept the call to be the Director of Missions at the Faulkner Baptist Association (FBA – Conway & surrounding area).  My last Sunday at LBC will be Mother’s Day morning, May 14.

This has been a difficult decision for me and my family… just as it was when God called us from our last church to LBC.  It’s always difficult to leave good friends and a good situation, even if you’re as confident as faith can be that God is leading you elsewhere.  We have come to view God’s call as more of a transfer within His Kingdom work… as though we are being moved from one “factory” to another… but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy move.

I know many of you are not familiar with Southern Baptists and how our churches might cooperate together.  Some of you may be curious as to what a “Director of Missions” does.  My ministry will consist of:

  • ENCOURAGING the pastors and staff of the churches within the FBA.
  • Helping the pastors of these churches EQUIP the members in their churches to do ministry; this will be done primarily through workshops, conferences, and clinics.
  • ENGAGING the churches of the FBA in mission work and church planting.
  • There will also be the ETC things that are a part of any ministry, and I will be working with the leaders of the FBA as they conduct their ministries.

I will still be preaching… that’s always been my favorite part of pastoring.  I will be preaching in the churches of the FBA… and anywhere else I am invited!

Some of you have been asking me how you can pray for us (and I appreciate that!):

  • Pray that our house in Lonoke will sell… and for a price that allows us to invest in our next home.
  • Pray that we will find the house that becomes a home… somewhere in the FBA area.
  • Pray that Tana (my wife) finds a teaching job in a school district local to the Conway area.  I’ve never met a better teacher, and she loves what she does.
  • Pray that we will find a church there that becomes our church family.
  • Pray that I will be able to adjust to this new ministry; all I’ve known for 32 years is pastoring a local church.

Thanks for caring…

Scott

Psalm 109… an Imprecatory Psalm

Last night, in our Mid-Week Study, we looked at Psalm 109.  This psalm doesn’t sound like a song David should be writing… nor does it sound like a song that would be fun to sing!  This psalm is an example of an imprecatory psalm… a psalm that calls down curses on someone.

I.  The Persecution  (v.1-5,22-25)

David felt as though he was being ruthlessly attacked.  A group of people were slandering him with horrible lies.  When he tried to do kindness toward them, they repaid it with treachery… evil for good, hatred for love.

The result was that David felt poor, needy, skin and bones… near death.  In fact, he’d prayed and fasted over the situation so often, he was starving himself to death!

II.  The Petition  (v.6-20)

To this point in the psalm, David had done what we would all expect him to do… he poured out his heart, honestly, before God.  But at this point of the psalm, David does the unexpected.  He prays a detailed list of things he hopes God will do to those who have been harassing David!

  • Give them a taste of their own medicine  (v.6,7a,16-20)
  • Don’t listen to their prayers  (v.7b)
  • Don’t bless their families  (v.8,9,10,12)
  • Don’t bless their finances  (v.11)
  • Blot out their family name  (v.13-15)

David wasn’t just wishing the worst on those who were against him; he also wished the worst on their wives, their parents, their children, future generations, and anyone who might know them!

David was angry!  And he wasn’t holding anything back!!

APP:  Most of us have been where David was.  We’ve felt lied about, been spoken hatefully to, and have had our good deeds not only go unnoticed but been repaid with evil.  Our heart was wounded.  There seemed to be no way to set the record straight.  So, what do we do?  There are some things we can learn from what David… and some things we would do well to avoid.

III.  The Protection  (v.21,22,26-31)

  • God’s Unfailing Love  (v.21,26,30,31)
  • God’s Unchallenged Power  (v.27-29)

Because David believed in a sovereign God, he rejoiced in spite of the attacks against Him.

 

What can we learn from this psalm?

  • We are not David… and may not have the right to pray as David prayed.

David was God’s chosen king of God’s chosen people.  When he spoke, he often spoke on behalf of God and God’s people… to God’s national enemies.  We may not have that right; instead, we have the privilege of forgiving personal enemies.

  • Honesty is always best… even when it’s honesty we should be ashamed of.
  • If we hope God will have mercy with us (as David expressed, even in this psalm), we must be willing to extend mercy to others… to forgive others… and to ask God to forgive others.
  • When you feel as David felt, express your feelings… and then  give God the opportunity to heal your wounded heart.
  • No matter how God might handle the situation, be sure to praise Him.

Spiritual Sneezes

In this week’s mid-week study, we looked at Psalm 102 (because it was the 102nd day of the year).

I.  The Psalmist’s Trouble  (v.1-11,23,24)

  • His Plea  (v.1,2,24)
  • His Problem  (v.3-11,23)     He had a problem with:

… his Flesh (v.3-7)

… his Foes (v.8,9) &

… his Friend (who was actually God!) (v.10,11,23)

 

II.  The Psalmist’s Testimony  (v.12-22,25-28)

The psalmist was about as low as he could feel.  But, through faith, the sound of praise became louder than the sound of pain.

He took the focus off himself and began to focus on:

  • God’s Eternal Nature  (v.12)
  • God’s Compassion  (v.13,14,16,18-22)
  • God’s Eventual Earthly Reign  (v.15)
  • God’s Faithfulness  (v.17)
  • God’s Omnipotence  (v.25)
  • God’s Unchanging Nature  (v.26-28)

APP:  Do you ever feel as the psalmist felt?  We all have!  Some days are just down days.  But, don’t dwell in the down days too long.  Don’t spend too much time focusing on yourself.  Instead, do what the psalmist did… look, by faith, to the Lord.  Things will look different when we compare your situation to God’s situation.

ILL:  Check out the 2 “spiritual sneezes” given in this psalm for your encouragement… v.12,27.  Both of these verses start with a spiritual sneeze: “But You…”

Your situation is temporary; God is forever!

Psalm 95

In our mid-week study this week, we looked at Psalm 95 (because it was the 95th day of the year!).  Here’s the outline we used…

I.  God is Great  (v.1-7a)

This part of the psalm is a call to worship; jubilant worship, not worship as usual.  The psalmist invites us to “shout joyfully” and to “kneel before the Lord”.

APP:  I wonder why we – as believers – don’t do these 2 things more often than we do…

Why are we to do these 2 things?  Because God is great!  He is a great Creator and a great King, and we are privileged to be His people.

We are to praise God for:

  • His Creative Work  (v.4,5)

He made everything… and keeps it going.  Praise God!

  • His Redemptive Work  (v.1-3,6,7)

He is the Rock of Salvation… and the Shepherd of the Sheep.

 

II.  God is Grieved  (v.7b-11)

The opposite of a worshiping heart that pleases God is a hard heart that grieves God.  Imagine seeing God’s wonders and not submitting gladly to Him!  Yet, we do that much too often…

During the Exodus, the self-willed Jews paid a high price for their sin; they died in the wilderness and never entered the Promised Land.

  • The Terrible Rebellion  (v.8,9)

In spite of everything God did for them, they refused to obey Him.

  • The Tragic Results  (v.10,11)

They struggled and suffered throughout the 40 years… and for eternity afterwards!

 

CONCL:

Do you want to enjoy your life of faith?  Then take the time to appreciate the greatness of God… take time to praise Him.

Do you want to inherit all God has planned for you in this life?  Then be an active participant in worship and praise.

A hard heart leads to a hard life… so keep your heart soft toward God.

Psalm 81

In this week’s mid-week Bible Study, we looked at Psalm 81.

Asaph wrote this psalm… to the chief musician… to be played on the harp David brought back from Gath.

I.  The Things That Were  (v.1-10)

Asaph exhorted Israel to praise God for what He had done for them in their past… especially delivering them from Egypt.  He even gave 2 reasons for praising God:

  • Obedience… it was commanded by God as part of their feast days.
  • Gratitude… it was the least they could for all God had done for them.

APP:  How often do you look back at what God has done for you in your past?

II.  The Things That Are  (v.11,12)

Asaph complained about Israel’s stubborn independence.  In spite of all God did for His people, they would not listen to His Word nor do His will.  So, God chose to let them have their own way.

APP:  One of God’s most painful judgments is to simply allow us to have our own way.

III.  The Things That Might Have Been  (v.13-16)

Asaph described the blessings Israel forfeited because of their stubbornness.  Their lives could have been filled with blessings… and their obstacles would have been removed.

APP:  They could have looked back over their lives with rejoicing at every point; instead, they had to remember with regret.  But, here’s the hope that’s always available in God… the things that might have been can be today if we will let Him have His way.