“That God might be known as God”

God is zealous for His own glory. In fact, He refuses to share His glory with any other (Isa 42:5-9). But what does it mean that God is glorious? Simply put, as a noun ‘glory’ means honor or praise. As an adjective, ‘glorious’ means having honor or praise; something that is very beautiful or delightful ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/glorious).  Thus, to say that God is glorious means that He (alone) is worthy of receiving honor or praise; that He (alone) is perfectly beautiful or delightful.

sunThe Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 11 are helpful here: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways (v 33)! For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (v 36) (comments about the glory of God are drawn from Tom Wells, A Vision for Missions, 114-115).  Paul’s point in verse 33 is that we know little, especially when it comes to the ways of God.

In fact, His ways are beyond our understanding. We cannot figure them out. However, there are some things we do know; those things made known to us by God. Ultimately, all things serve the purpose of God. All things are for the glory of God (v 36). As Wells describes it, “Behind all else lies the glory of God. Always and everywhere, God is to shine forth. This is true in missions, as in all else. This is why God is forming His church” (A Vision for Mission, 114).

The church is formed regardless of the culture and generation for the express purpose of giving glory to God (Eph 3:21). As Jesus followers we do all that we do, even the seemingly routine, for the sole purpose of God’s glory (1 Cor 10:31). This understanding does not negate our concern for the needs of people; rather, it prioritizes those needs. People are not first; God is first. “Our first goal is ever and always the same,” Wells insists. “We seek to bring praise to God. That—above all else—is the purpose of missions” (A Vision for Missions, 114)!

Above the needs of people, as great as those needs are, is the glory of God. The purpose of missions is to gather peoples from every tribe, tongue, and nation for the praise of God (Rev 5:9). David Brainerd, missionary to the American Indians in the 1700s, was driven by the prospect of God’s glory among the world. What kept Brainerd, who suffered great physical illness and mental depression, on the field among the American Indians? His journal entry on August 23, 1743 reveals his motive:

“My soul was concerned, not so much for souls as such, but rather for Christ’s kingdom, that it might appear in the world, that God might be known to be God in the whole earth” (A Vision for Missions, 123).

What was first for Brainerd? “That God might be known to be God in the whole earth.” How does a man remain committed to bringing the gospel to people amidst horrible suffering? He must be convinced that God is worthy to be known simply for who He is. Why did he endure hardship in order that American Indians would come to know Jesus as Lord? He did so in order that God would be known as God. God’s glory is the motivation for missions. Proclaiming the gospel among unbelievers so that they turn in faith and repentance to Jesus is the means to the end—brining glory to God, making God known to be God among the whole earth!


Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

West Liberty -7 Louisiana Floods: Worst U. S. Disaster Since Hurricane Sandy

West Virginia Floods Devastate 1200 Homes, Many Lives

EF-3 Tornado Leaves Damage in Mayfield, Kentucky

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods certainly reek havoc on individuals, but house fires, vehicle accidents, and community violence can be equally devastating to families.

Disasters are always about loss.   Calamities can rob people of homes, material possessions, income, personal keepsakes, normalcy, emotional stability, and loved ones.  The loss is real.  It can be emotionally, physically, and spiritually overwhelming.  These catastrophic events often force people to live with intrusion, vulnerability, and a longing for escape.

The trauma of a disaster throws people off balance and always produces significant change.   Survivors often experience shock, numbness, fear, frustration, confusion, guilt, grief, and anger.  They are often left to depend on strangers for the basic necessities required to get through another day.

Disaster Relief ministry reminds those affected that we care and even deeper…God cares.

Titus 3:14 urges us, “And our people must also learn to devote themselves to good works for cases of urgent need, so that they may not be unfruitful.”

Disasters create doors of opportunity for us, as followers of Christ, to offer compassion to those affected by loss and pain.  The Bible teaches us that this is just the right thing to do when our neighbor is hurting.  Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me…inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25: 35-40).  When we reach with compassion to the vulnerable and displaced, we are honoring Jesus and sharing His love.

Disasters also open tremendous doors for the Gospel.  Survivors gladly welcome those responding to help them.  This creates opportunities to share the hope that is within us.  In crisis events, compassionate acts of service and empathetic listening often open gates to share the Gospel.

Tragically, most churches are unprepared with a strategy to respond effectively to events of crisis within their community.  Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief seeks to train volunteers and partner with churches to bring help, healing, and hope to those affected in times of disaster.

Is God calling you to get involved and to be more prepared to serve effectively for His sake among the hurting?

To find out more about training opportunities and disaster relief ministry contact us at www.kybaptist.org/dr or call us at (866) 489-3527,

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things!

Going Outside is NOT an Option

What do you think of when you hear the words, “go outside”?  I’m reminded of those times as a child when I was in the way and my mother would say to my brothers and I, “you all need to go outside and play”.   We knew exactly what that meant and would go outside to escape the consequences that would follow if we didn’t.   Did anyone tell you to go outside when you were a child?   Has anyone told you recently to go outside?

Go Outside logo

Church planter, entrepeneur and author Alton Lee Webb, in his book, “Go Outside”, challenges Christ followers regardless of age or experience to go outside.  But not to play, because going outside is serious business and it’s not an option.  It’s God’s urgent mandate to those of us who have chosen to follow Him.  Lee reminds us that we are challenged through Paul’s writing in Hebrews 13 to go outside the city to worship God in acceptable ways in the unholy places.  We are called to be imitators of Christ to those who’ve not yet seen Him.

Going outside involves getting out of our comfortable place and stepping into something unfamiliar in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Going outside is discovering and using our gifts and talents for God’s glory, not mine.  Going outside is seizing opportunities to do for others at my own expense.  Going outside is recognizing and addressing the needs right in front of us that God has equipped me to meet.

The world is not coming inside to us.  If we’re going to reach them, we must go outside – and that is risky and messy.   Not all of us like taking chances, but there are many out there who have.  Lee shares his story and those of others who’ve decided it was time to get off the bench and get into the game, serving those they wouldn’t normally be associated with.  The stories inspire and challenge me to serve others more than I currently am.  They stretch me to push through myself and quit looking for someone else to do what God has equipped and purposed me to do.

Jesus was the ultimate outsider when He came to earth to redeem you and me.  If I’m going to be a Christ follower, then I too, must be an outsider.  However, if I’m completely honest with myself, some days I’m much more of an insider and nothing like Jesus.  But I’m not giving up – because being outside is a lot more exciting and brings so much more meaning to life, now and eternally.

“Go Outside – get up, get out, change the world” by Alton Lee Webb is available at http://altonleewebb.com/product/go-outside/ or from Amazon.com.

A Great Mission Field

back to school

It’s “Back-To-School” time and many students are getting help from Kentucky Baptist churches and ministries all across the state through their back-to-school community missions outreach programs.

Last week I made a trip to Monticello, KY and picked up 170 pairs of athletic shoes from Evangelist Dale Rose, with E & E Warehouse, and delivered them to Amy Wilhelmus at the Moore Activity Center in Covington, KY.  The trunk and back seat of my car could hardly hold the boxes.  There were nice shoes of all colors and sizes.  These, added to shoes that Amy has collected throughout the year, will be used to serve approximately 200 students that come to the MAC on Saturday, August 13th, for help to begin the new school year.  Some of the shoes are donated and others purchased from a monetary donation designated for school shoes.  Socks, school supplies and hygiene items will also be given to each student and, along with these items, the Gospel message will be presented.

This is just one of the many similar events that are going on throughout the state.  John Morris, with God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell, shared that the students at their KidStock 2016 event were excited to receive school supplies and shoes but that most importantly they all heard the Gospel.  John told a 9-year old girl that he loved her new shoes, to which she replied, “Do you know where I got them?  The lady inside said that Jesus gave them to me because He loves me!”

But, the ministry does not stop with these one-time back-to-school events.  Many of our ministries work with schools throughout the year to meet the needs of the students.  They help to provide school supplies all year long, as well as hygiene and clothing items that the students may need.  Many ministries have ongoing food backpack programs where they send food home with the children for the weekend.

Still other ministries have after school tutoring programs for the children throughout the year.  Some ministries, such as First-Priority, FCA, and B.R.E.A.K. are privileged to teach the Bible and lead students in worship during their school day.  Missionary Beth Arnold, with Bible Released-Time Education Association of Kentucky (B.R.E.A.K.) in Corbin, says our students are “possibly one the most unreached mission fields in our country.”

Our students have many needs.  The need for food, clothing, and other material items.  The need to be cared for and loved.  And, most importantly, the need to hear the Gospel.  Jesus loved the children and we must too.  There is a great mission field among the children in our neighborhoods.  May we commit to pray and care for our children and youth.

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Mark 10:13-14


Where do we begin?

When it comes to mobilizing for missions, where do we begin?  I mean, what should ultimately drive us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth?  Is it that 4.2 billion people are unreached with the gospel or that nearly 200 million have no one taking the gospel to them?  Perhaps it is the reality that more than half of the people in the world live on less than $2 each per day, and one billion people are engulfed in extreme poverty, living on less than $1 each per day (The Poverty of Nations, forward by Rick Warren).

In his book, A Vision for Missions, Tom Wells shares of hearing a missionary say, “A need will not keep you on the mission field. People will rebuke and repel you” (7).  While often times a need motivates missionaries to go, need alone will not keep them there or even keep them going back in the case of short-term missions in partnership with long-term strategy. Everywhere we look there are tremendous needs, which regularly overwhelm the missionary. Often adding to the frustration of the enormous needs is a lack of response by the people to the missionary’s work. What then, as Wells asks, is left? The answer: God.

God is and must be the ultimate reason for missions. We begin with God. Wells rightly argues that “God is worthy to be known and proclaimed for who He is, and that fact is an important part of the missionary motive and message” (A Vision for Missions, 9). For missions to be at the heart of the church, God must be at the heart of the church. Jesus followers gripped by the greatness of God cannot help but speak about the greatness of God among all nations, not simply because people need to know about Him, but because He is worthy to be known.

earth-1388003_960_720My intention is not to minimize the need for the salvation of mankind or the call to be benevolent, but to maximize the worthiness of God to be known for who He is.  If we are not careful our primary focus will be upon mankind rather than upon God. As one pastor describes it, you can magnify with a microscope or with a telescope. A microscope magnifies by making tiny things look bigger than they actually are and a telescope magnifies by making gigantic things (like stars and planets), which look tiny to the naked eye, appear more as they really are (John Piper, The Dangerous Duty of Delight, 17).  A proper starting place for missions is to function as a telescope for God.

Therefore, we must begin with God and His greatness. Wells asks passionately, “Where are the missionary candidates who are panting to make Christ known for Christ’s sake? Do they exist? They must exist, for these candidates are Christians. And surely a Christian wants his Saviour to be known” (A Vision for Missions, 110).