Taking Care of Your Heart

“Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

I have served in active ministry for the sake of my Lord for forty years, and in my role as Disaster Relief Director for the last decade.  Ministry is not for the faint of heart, weak, or timid.  Our calling often requires us to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of Christ and others with long hours and stressful days.  This can wear on us spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

I was reminded of this in May of 2017, when I began having some neck pain and numbness in my left arm.  When this continued for several days, I decided to call my cardiologist.   I was quickly scheduled for a heart catheterization, and the result was three stents placed in my coronary arteries.  I am thankful for God’s sufficient grace, and that I could catch this health problem before it caused more serious issues like a major heart attack or stroke.  God has reminded me afresh that I cannot serve him well if I do not take care of my own health.

I would encourage you as a minister to:

  1. Develop a regular discipline of exercise.  I have found a morning 30-minute exercise regimen to be best for me as I often lose control of my afternoons and evenings as ministry needs arise during the day.  Find a type of exercise that you enjoy and can maintain. For me, it is walking or riding a stationary bike.
  2. Maintain a healthy diet.  It is easy in ministry to eat on the “go” and to make less than healthy choices.  I am disciplining myself to watch my portion size, to eat more vegetables and fruits, and to watch my cholesterol and fats.  I thank God that eating healthier has increased my energy for His sake.
  3. Get Proper Rest.  We all need a good night sleep.  God recharges the body when we allow it to rest and trust the events of the day to Him.
  4. Take time to get away from ministry for brief periods and to allow God to restore you.  Unlike the Energizer Bunny, we will run down without some down times to relax.  Ministry can be demanding and stressful, even when things are going good.  Burnout and Compassion Fatigue are damaging to us and our families, and can be deadly to ministry.
  5. Rely on the strength of God’s Holy Spirit to help you begin and maintain good health practices.  If overeating is a weakness for you, then ask the Spirit to help you fight the urge to make unhealthy food choices.  If lack of exercise is your problem, then ask God to help you set your alarm and get up a few minutes earlier.

God has reminded me that I cannot minister effectively if I neglect my own physical, emotional, or spiritual health.  God cares about our bodies.  He gave them to us.  He wants us to do all we can to keep our bodies healthy and active for His sake for the days that He has appointed us.  Take care of yourself for your sake, but even deeper for His sake!

“For you were bought at a price.  Therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

What’s a Lollapalooza?

I recently had the privilege of attending a lollapalooza put on by Dexter Baptist Church in western Kentucky.  Pastor David Little led his church to plan and implement the lollapalooza event as an effort to reach out to their community. I had never attended a lollapalooza and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. In fact, I’m not sure I could’ve spelled lollapalooza without googling it on my computer.   

So where did this word come from?  Legend and Encyclopedia Britannica have it that musician Perry Farrell claims to have named a large international music festival Lollapalooza back in 1991 after hearing the word.  The popularity and use of the word grew.

People have developed this positive association with ‘-palooza’ and it’s become kind of shorthand.  People have hosted a saleapalooza, gameapalooza, kidzapalooza, doggiepalooza and a variety of others you’ve no doubt come across.

Webster’s dictionary defines a lollapalooza as one that is extraordinarily impressive; alsoan outstanding example”.

What Dexter Baptist did was indeed, “extraordinarily impressive”.  This church that normally averages around 60 in Sunday morning worship had 89 people attend their lollapalooza that included music by a Christian band, free food (and lots of it), door prizes and giveaways, bouncy houses and games, and a presentation of the gospel.  The most exciting thing about their lollapalooza was that four individuals committed their lives to following Christ and another person recommitted his life to Christ.

Dexter Baptist also set “an outstanding example” of how a church can reach out and touch more people through a community event like a lollapalooza than they do on any given Sunday morning.  Yes, it took lots of planning, work, promoting and inviting.  But it was worth it to see so many spiritual decisions made.

The church went outside, the community was engaged and it was a great evening together.  But nothing was more “extraordinarily impressive” than the life transformation I witnessed as people experienced the salvation of Jesus Christ.  Let me challenge you to follow the example of the Dexter church and plan something extraordinarily impressive to reach your community for Christ.

The Kathy J. Strange Answer Center – Sharing Christ Through Social Ministry

 

For nearly 18 years men, women, boys, and girls have heard and seen the gospel message lived out through the efforts of the Kathy J. Strange Answer Center in Henderson, KY.  In the year 2000 a couple of churches in the Green Valley Baptist Association saw the need for a social ministry in their area, and the Center was started in September of that year as a ministry of the Association.

The Answer Center is named after its founder, Kathy J. Strange, a retired social worker who had a vision and a heart for ministering to the people of Henderson, Union, and Webster counties.  She wanted a place where people could come and shop for needed items and have the gospel of Christ shared with them.  A place where they could see and feel Christian love.  Kathy served as Director of the ministry for a nearly 15 years, before being diagnosed with cancer.  She passed away in December 2015.

The Center continued and, according to Director of Missions Bill Patterson, has been a strong ministry for a number of years.  “It is like the face of the association now,” said Patterson.  “It is the number one social ministry of the association and has a great evangelistic outreach.”   Last year (2017) 31 professions of faith were reported as a result of the ministry and so far they have seen 6 professions of faith in 2018.  “That is why we do what we do,” said current director Jeff Burke.

Jeff, along with Nancy Brown, a retired school teacher, and nearly 90 volunteers from the Green Valley Baptist Association churches, serve on the average of 105 – 110 persons each week by providing clothing and household items to those who have a need.  They are on pace to serve nearly 4200 in 2018.

The Center is open every Saturday (except for the fifth Saturday of the month or holidays) from 9:00 – 10:30 AM.  Clothing is laid out just like a department store and the families come in to “shop” every other month.  When the family enters the Center they are given one bag for each person in the household, and can fill the bags with as much clothing as they can put in them.  Donations have been very generous, which allows them to give out extra bags to the families if needed.  The clothing includes coats in the winter months and they are beginning to carry school uniforms for the children.

In addition to clothing, the Center also has household items such as towels, sheets, pots & pans, dishes, etc.  Director Jeff Burke shared about a couple who recently had 5-year old foster twins placed in their home.  They had gotten help with clothing but did not have beds for the twins.  There were no beds at The Answer Center when they came in but, the very next day, Habitat for Humanity called saying they could provide $100 vouchers for families to come and buy anything out of the Habitat store, which “just happened” to include beds.  The family got their clothing, the beds they needed, and the family is now regularly attending church.

Another success story was told of a lady and children that came from a local shelter to get clothing.  After working with her for about three months, the lady not only got clothing, but found Jesus.  She was saved, baptized, and continues to be active in a local church.  She moved into her own apartment, and the center helped her with household items, cleaning supplies, hygiene items, and a fan.  She got a job at a local fast food restaurant, then went to school to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.  She now works full time in a nursing home.

Each year mission teams come to serve at the Center.  Recently 160 young people with World Changers came to serve and some of the students said, “we just feel the presence of the Lord in this place.”

The Center has close ties to the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board.  Both Jeff Burke and Nancy Brown are Kentucky Mission Service Corps Missionaries in their roles at the Center.  They receive grants from the Eliza Broadus Offering which helps meet the needs of the families they serve.  In May 2019 the Center will be hosting a free medical and dental clinic in conjunction with the North American Mission Board dental trailer and the Kentucky Baptist Convention Missions Mobilization Team.

“It is a great blessing to serve at the Center,” says Nancy Brown.  “Every day it is amazing to watch God meet the needs.  As a teacher I prayed ‘for’ my students.  Now, when they come to the Center I can love them, hug them, and can now pray ‘with’ them.”  How rewarding.  Needs are being met and lives being changed at The Kathy J. Strange Answer Center.  Kathy’s vision lives on.

To see how you might volunteer or assist this ministry contact the Green Valley Baptist Association office at 270-827-9867.