As we just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, we are all still recovering from the overeating, the family gatherings, and the cleaning up the mess. Thanksgiving Day is a day to be thankful for all God has blessed us with. Every day we should give thanks, but it is good to have a day set aside to remind us.
As we were making the long drive back home from Missouri, I was reflecting on the many blessings God has given me, and it wasn’t long, I lost count of the many, many blessings. I enjoyed time off work to visit family and friends. I enjoyed some rest and down time. I enjoyed a wonderful feast of all the things I love to eat and had many leftovers. And I must say, I enjoyed the desserts!
I was reminded of the verse which says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with who there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17). God has truly blessed me, and I kept counting my blessings.
The hymn writer, Johnson Oatman in 1897, penned these powerful words:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done; Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
There are the obvious things we are blessed with such as our family, our friends, our salvation, good health, and all the things we often think of. But my mind wondered even further, and I realized how blessed I truly am. I am truly surprised at what the Lord has done!
And I kept counting.
I am blessed to serve as the Disaster Relief Director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, serving alongside some amazing teammates and remarkable volunteers.
I am blessed to be a part of the work of the Lord through my local church, through the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention, working together through the Cooperative Program.
I could go on and on listing how God has blessed me, but rather than looking at my list, begin to count your own blessings, and you will be surprised at what the Lord has done.
I have learned over the years that at times the simplest of actions can have the greatest impact. I have had people in the past thank me for everything I did for them. As I reflect on what I did, I really couldn’t think of much, if anything that I “did.” I would often respond with, “I didn’t do anything.” And then their response was, “But you were there.”
My presence in their time of need, grief, tragedy, and loss would in itself be what they need. It did not seem like much to me, but to them it meant the world.
I have a friend who loves to get greeting cards in the mail. She loves to read them, read them over and over and display them where she can be reminded of kind words and thoughts. A simple card means a great deal to her.
I have discovered during times of disaster, the things that matter most are often the simple things. A meal or a blanket. A card or a prayer. A shoulder to cry on or a word of encouragement. Sometimes even just being there.
I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:42, “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (ESV)
The “little ones” refers to those who may seem insignificant or unnoticed. Those who are unimportant or have little. Those who have lost everything in a storm. Helping someone with the simplest of things like a cup of cold water to quench a thirst can mean a great deal to someone.
When you serve others, even in simple ways, you will pour a blessing on someone, but in turn, you are blessed as well. In the disaster relief ministry, we experience this over and over again. We feel we are going to serve others in their time of need to bless them, but so many times we are the ones being blessed. We often call it the “double blessing.”
I often wonder if we would take time to look around and see the needs of others and with a simple act, make a huge difference in someone’s life.
• Pray about it. • Prepare for it. • Plan on it. • Present it.
You might just experience that “double blessing” yourself. And maybe, just maybe, lives will be changed.
Learn how you can be involved in the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief ministry by visiting kybaptist.org/dr for more information.
There are times we don’t always see things like Jesus does. We struggle with it often, and as I look in the scriptures, the disciples struggled with it too. There are several times recorded in the Gospels where Jesus had to correct them. I sometimes will ask myself, “when will I ever learn?”
I am reminded specifically of the passage in Luke 18:15-16 where people were bringing their babies to Jesus so that He might touch them. What did the disciples do? They tried to prevent these parents from bringing their children to Jesus.
And I love Jesus’ response to them, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” I can hear the tone of His voice. I can sense the compassion and love He had for these precious little ones. I can see the smile on His face.
I have watched children, even my own grandchildren and love the innocence of their hearts, the excitement for life, the joy simple things bring, and a smile that will just melt your heart. When did we lose those things as we grew up? Why don’t we look forward to a new day with excitement? We can learn so much from our children.
And yes, I know children can be loud, obnoxious, and even disobedient. But let us love these children enough to spend time with them. To teach them. To show them new things and experience this world. To tell them the truth, correct them when they are wrong, and hug them when they hurt.
Most importantly, let us love them enough to show them the compassion and love of Jesus. May we tell them about Jesus and how He loved the little children. May we disciple them, teach them, and tell them about how Jesus loved us enough to die on the cross for us.
May we not be so consumed with our own lives that we miss what our children can teach us. What they can show us. And just maybe, the excitement they have for life will be contagious just enough that it will rub off on us.
Let me encourage you to take a few minutes to: • Pray for the children in your life… that they will know Jesus. • Play with the children in your life…that you may bring joy into their day. • Prepare to learn from the children in your life…that you enjoy each day a little more.
Maybe loving children like Jesus will ultimately change us.
Last Sunday, June 4, was the Southern Baptist annual Disaster Relief Sunday. This is a day set aside to recognize and thank the thousands of Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers who serve faithfully, selflessly, and with a heart for the Gospel.
Kentucky Baptists alone has over 2300 trained volunteers and counting. Many churches across our convention recognized volunteers in various ways last Sunday. They are an incredibly special group of people who simply love the Lord and love the people they serve.
These KYDR volunteers are not part of an organization, but rather a very special family. They take care of each other, watch out for each other, and look forward to serving with each other. And the wonderful part of this family, there is always room for more.
However, these volunteers do not serve because they desire to be recognized or looking for a pat on the back. They serve for several reasons, most of which the world does not understand.
They serve because they are CALLED. God has placed a call on their life to serve through this awesome ministry. Disaster relief gets people out of the pew and into the field to meet people where they are bringing help, hope and healing to those who are hurting. God gives that passion deep within their hearts, calling them to serve. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
They serve because they are COMPASSIONATE. During Jesus’ ministry on earth, we find many times in the scripture when Jesus was moved with compassion to help someone who was hurting. He would meet their physical need which would open the door for their spiritual need. We see the disaster relief ministry do the same. Volunteers are moved with compassion to help those who are hurting and suffering. We reach out to meet their physical need and the door is opened to share the love of Jesus.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:” 1 Peter 4:10.
They serve because they are CHARITABLE. Disaster relief volunteers are very generous and giving by nature. They desire to bless others as God has blessed them. They give of their time, their energy, their resources, and even financially. They have experienced God’s blessing and generously serve others.
“The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.
They serve because they are COOPERATIVE. This ministry is the Cooperative Program in action. They work with their friends. They work with those they have never met. They work with those across the state or even across the country. They cooperate with other state conventions and ministries. And through those working relationships and opportunities, they will make lifelong friendships.
You can learn more about the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention by visiting www.kybaptist.org/about-CP.
Learn more about how you can become a trained disaster relief volunteer and our upcoming trainings at www.kybaptist.org/dr. Also, support those KYDR volunteers who are in your church with prayer support, resources, and financially. Your support in assisting with fuel, meals, equipment and more is very much needed. And finally, let them know how much you appreciate them.
My wife and I are quite different when it comes to packing for a trip. She will spend days making her list so she does not forget anything. She will begin to lay out her clothes in various piles in the bedroom. She does not pack them in the suitcase until the last minute as she may change her mind. She will spend several days getting everything ready, then pack her suitcase.
I, on the other hand, will wait until the last minute, count how many days we will be gone and throw what I need in the suitcase, zip it up and I am ready to go. The reality is she will always have what she needs, but I run the risk of missing something.
And she loves post-it-notes. They keep her plan in place, keep her focused, and all she has to do is work her plan. Of course, it helps keep me on track too.
The reality is the time to get ready is before it is time to go.
Now I understand we cannot always be ready and prepared for everything that will happen in our lives. But when it comes to disasters, there are some steps your church can take to be a READY Church to minister to your community during those difficult times.
I looked up the definition of the word “ready” and found this definition: “in a suitable state for an activity, action, or situation; fully prepared.”
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief ministry can help you become a READY Church in your community. With a three-step process, you can lead your church to have a strategic focus to minister to your community in times of crisis or disaster.
First, PREPARE. The time to prepare is now. Bejamin Franklin said, “You may delay, but time will not.” READY Church enables the church to prepare for times of disaster. It is not a matter if the disaster or crisis will come to a community, but when. Churches need to be ready to respond promptly and properly. We can help you prepare.
Second, CONNECT. To maximize your effectiveness to your community, preparation is a must but also the connections in the community are critical. Those connections need to be made long before any crisis or disaster happens. We can help you connect.
Third, RESPOND. Once a crisis or disaster strikes, it is time to respond. Your planning, preparation and hard work is now ready to be put into action. By having a well thought out plan, making key connections in your community, you now can respond well as you minister effectively to your community.
You can learn more at kybaptist.org/readychurch. Through your giving to the Cooperative Program, this training can be available to your church or association at no cost by calling the Disaster Relief office at the Kentucky Baptist Convention at 502-489-3401.
I am a very visual person. I learn by seeing and doing more than reading and listening. It is just the way God made me. But when I read or listen, I have to visualize something that I’m reading that will allow me to fully understand.
That’s one reason I love the parables Jesus taught. Jesus would give great object lessons to teach the spiritual truths. Seeing the visual example helps me understand the spiritual truth.
I was reading Matthew 7:7-8 and I love the illustration of the asking, seeking and knocking. I can see a visual picture in my head which helps me understand the spiritual truth.
ASK…and it will be given to you helps me understand the importance of praying. The focus is not on what we are asking for, but from Whom we are asking. When we understand from Whom we’re asking, it helps us to keep in perspective of what we ask for. When we understand the “Whom,” it helps to get “me” out of the picture.
SEEK…and you will find helps me to remember to always look for opportunities to serve the Lord. To look for times God wants to use me. And seek those opportunities to have Gospel conversations. When I am seeking the things of God, I am sure to find what He has for me and what He has to teach me.
KNOCK…and the door will be opened to you reminds me of the wonderful experiences God has for me. Through saying yes to God and going through the doors He opens, I have seen the miraculous, the majesty, and I have seen the moving of God in my own and others’ lives.
I get reminded of this so many times when we are called out to respond to disasters. When I pray, I want to follow the “Whom” I am praying to, so I may receive God’s best in my life. I have settled for too many times and have learned to seek God’s best. So, my ask of God is to use me.
When we are called out to respond to disasters, I want to seek those opportunities for God to use me to encourage others, to disciple others, to allow God to teach me, and to seek opportunities to have Gospel conversations with those we meet.
When we are called out to respond to disasters, I want to knock on the door where God leads me. And when God opens the door, I know I will experience only what God can do.
If you would like to become a Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer, please visit kybaptist.org/dr for more information.
You have heard the expression “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I have also wondered if you can say something similar as, “If you fail to equip, you are equipped to fail.”
What I mean is if I fail to learn to drive a car, I will likely fail miserably if I get behind the wheel to drive. If I fail to learn to operate a stove, I will fail miserably at cooking. If I fail to learn to operate a lawn mower, I will fail miserably at mowing my lawn.
The reality is I am fully capable of all those things. Sometimes even a little instruction allows much of the process to make sense and then it simply requires some practice, time and confidence. Before long it becomes very natural.
God has called all of us to be equipped for His purpose. Yet, He wants us to be equipped to serve with knowledge and excellence.
I’m reminded of the verses in Ephesians 4:11-16 which speak of the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry for the building up of the body. I especially like verse 16 which says, “from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Using a simple acrostic of the word EQUIP, may this be a reminder where we all need to be equipped to serve:
E = Expect. As a believer, expect that God has called you and wants to use you for His work.
Q = Question. Ask questions from the very One who has called you how He wants to use you.
U = Understand. Understand your assignment. Do your homework and be prepared for what He calls you to.
I = Involvement. Get involved. It is one thing to learn about something. It is totally different to be involved.
P = Practice Put into practice what He has equipped you to do. Equip yourself to serve.
Discover your own spiritual gifts and grow in them. God has given you gifts, skills, abilities and He calls us to use them for His purpose and glory. Be equipped to serve. Be willing to serve. Be available to serve. And you will be blessed by serving.
Not only should you equip yourself to serve but be intentional about equipping others to serve with you. Multiply yourself so others will experience the mission God has called us to.
The Mission Mobilization Team has several Every Church on Mission workshops scheduled across Kentucky in February. Join one of those workshops to prepare you and your church to take the next steps in mission mobilization. You can learn more by visiting www.kybaptist.org/ecom.
The other evening, we were home watching a movie and my wife needed to tell me something so I reached for the remote and pushed pause so I could give her my attention. If I had not, I would have continued to be distracted by the movie and missed something important I needed to hear. It is good to hear the important things!
Not only is it good to hear the important things, but it is also good to pause and remember the important things of the past. As we are coming to the end of 2022, we should hit “pause” and reflect on all God has done in our lives over the past twelve months.
There are so many things I am grateful for, and all God has taught me over the past year. He continues to mold us and make us more like Himself and show us who He truly is. There are several things which come to mind.
I am reminded of His PROVISION The past year has been a year of disasters. We began 2022 still cleaning up from the western Kentucky tornados, small disasters throughout the commonwealth all year, and then the major flooding in eastern Kentucky, with Hurricane Ian in Florida immediately followed. But God provided the volunteers, the finances, the equipment and the opportunities. He changed lives in the midst of difficult days and reminded me of His provision. He is good.
I am reminded of His PROTECTION The work of disaster relief can be dangerous. Cleaning up debris, cutting up trees, preparing hot meals and so much more present its unique dangers. Even the travel to and from on the highway can be treacherous. I am so grateful for God’s protection of His faithful servants to protects us from the dangers around us. He is good.
I am reminded of His PROVIDENCE I am constantly reminded I am not in control. Only God is but I get to be part of what He is up to. He puts us all in places or allows us to meet just the right person at the right moment which opens a door of opportunity that changes lives…and mine. I think back over the moments of what we originally thought was a disruption of our plan, actually became a teaching moment or opportunity in which we recognized only God could plan. I am grateful for His continued interest in me. He is good.
I am reminded of His PROMISES There are so many promises of God I find in the Scriptures which encourage us in our time of need. He is always with us; He will never fail us; He is our strength and hope; and the list can go on. As we search the pages of the Word of God, His promises are found throughout the pages. And He reminds of His promises just as we need them. He is good.
I remember a friend of mine from my church in Missouri who we all called “Geezer.” He and I shared a favorite verse in the Bible which simply read, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). As good ole country boys we shared our own version that read, “Shut up and listen!” We would often smile at each other and one of us would say those words to the other because we both needed to remember to pause and reflect on God and who He is.
What a good God we serve. Remember to push “pause” and be still and listen closely. Do not miss the important lessons. He is good.
When you hear your church or an organization talk about taking a mission trip, whether a few days to a couple of weeks, does something in your spirit tug at you to go? You hear about the work they may be doing, the difference it can make, and the opportunities it will provide. It pulls at your compassion, and you consider your options. And too often, I hear of people changing their mind, making up excuses, or just do not get signed up. And honestly, they miss a blessing.
I am reminded of many in the Bible who said “yes” to God when He called them. In particular, I think of Abraham when God said to him in Genesis 12:1, “Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”
Can you imagine going somewhere blindly without really knowing what will happen next? But in reality, we do that every day of our lives. We do not know what the day will bring so all we can do is simply be on mission where we are and let God direct our path.
However, when you go on mission, take a mission opportunity, say “yes” to God, I have learned going really does change lives. Not only to those I minister and care for, but I am changed.
When disasters strike and Kentucky disaster relief volunteers respond, there are some things I have noticed. And this is true with anytime we go on mission.
God Takes Us to the Unfamliar. Every time I respond to a disaster; every time I go on a mission trip; every time I say “yes, I’ll go,” God takes me to unfamiliar places. There are new people to meet, new sites to see, new opportunities to experience, new skills to learn and so much more. And He changes me.
God Shows Us the Unexpected. I have learned no mission trip has ever gone as planned. The reason: I am not in control. God is. I have experienced tire trouble in a strange town only to have an unexpected encounter to have a gospel conversation. I have seen God set up divine appointments with someone that only God could schedule. I have had people come up to me at a gas station asking for prayer or for a Bible which opened doors for ministry. All completely unexpected. I am reminded, I am not in control, God is and in unexpected ways, places and time. And He changes me.
God Teaches Us the Understanding. When Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet in John 13, He said to Peter in vs. 7, “Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” There are so many times in the going and even in the doing I do not understand the why. But I have learned to trust and know God will show me. Not always in my time, but His. And as He teaches me, understanding comes. And when the understanding comes, He changes me.
The next time God tugs at your heart calling and compelling you to go on mission for Him, will you take that step? Will you say “yes?”
Let God take you to the unfamiliar, show you the unexpected, and teach you the understanding. And I promise you, your going will change you. He changed me.
As we have all watched Hurricane Ian make landfall on the news and weather stations, there is no doubt a stirring in our hearts for those affected by this massive storm. We are all amazed at the magnitude of this storm, the power it has to create such destruction, and the amount of rain it has produced. Once again, our hearts hurt with those who are hurting.
Southern Baptists are mobilizing to bring help, hope and healing to those who are hurting. Feeding operations are currently being set up and operating. Mobile shower units, recovery units, chaplains, support equipment and more are being sent to provide for the needs of people.
It’s time to pray.
It’s time to pray for those who have been directly affected by this devastating storm. Many have lost loved ones or their homes. Many have lost their jobs and belonging. It’s time we pray for them that their immediate and long-term needs are met.
It’s time to pray for those who are mobilizing to bring help to provide meals, clean up the debris, and restore needed resources. It’s time to pray for their safety as they travel and work.
It’s time to pray for financial support to come to purchase supplies, food, water, fuel, household items and more. The needs will be enormous. It’s time to pray how you can give to support the relief efforts.
It’s time to pray that even in the midst of this destruction, God would open doors of opportunity to have gospel conversations with those who are asking “why?” Southern Baptist chaplains are mobilizing to care for the emotional and spiritual well being of those who are hurting.
It’s time to pray for the local churches who have been affected and the pastors who are caring for their congregations. The needs will be great. It’s time to pray for churches who can partner with churches to lend support and make a cooperative kingdom impact.
It’s time to pray that the God of heaven will bring a revival to this land. As big and powerful as this storm has proven to be, our God is bigger still. May we cry out to Him to meet our need.
It’s time to pray.
Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1