Tearing Down the Walls

In November of 1989, the East German government announced it would allow limited travel across the West German border.  within hours of this news, hundreds of thousands of East and West Germans gathered around the Berlin wall.  A massive celebration erupted and people began spontaneously tearing down the wall with hammers and chisels.  The rest is history, and in October 1990 Germany was reunified.  The wall that had divided the people was brought down.

May I ask, are there any walls in your life that divide you from others?  Walls that place you on one side and separate you from those other folks?  Perhaps the young adult with more tattoos and piercings than you find comfortable?  Maybe that Syrian family that just arrived at the airport?  Could it be the Latino family who moved to your neighborhood?  Or that homeless person standing on the street corner near your workplace?  And if you really want to get personal, how about those Samaritans?

In Jesus day, there was a huge invisible wall that stood between Samaritans and Jews.  The two cultures had hated each other for over a thousand years or so.  Jews believed that Samaritans were half-breeds, and those who had rejected the true faith by marrying pagans.  A Jew counted a Samaritan as a little less than a stray dog.

Jesus, however, broke all the rules.  Jesus had reached out to a Samaritan woman at a well and shared that God was more concerned with worshipping in spirit and in truth than whose family you were born in.  Jesus showed us that God loves the world…every person in the world.

That is why we read in Acts 8 that God sent Philip to preach Christ in the city of Samaria, and revival broke out.  God’s hammer was tearing down walls.

But God was not through.  He sent Philip on a second cross-cultural mission, and as he journeyed, his path intersected with an Ethiopian eunuch.  Philip shared with him the truth of the Gospel, and the Ethiopian became a baptized follower of Christ.  The walls of race were hammered to the ground, and the two became brothers in Christ.

Walls always divide us.  God desires to bring down the walls and to unite us as family in Christ.

We cannot experience the life that God wants to give us unless we are willing to lay aside our bias and prejudice. Who is the Samaritan in your world?  Who is the Ethiopian eunuch that God has brought across your path?   Will you take God’s hammer and help Him bring down the walls?

Kentucky Baptists have always been willing to go to the airport and travel to the farthest corners of the world for the sake of the Gospel.  God is asking us today; will we be just as willing to go to the airport to meet a refugee family for Christ’s sake?  Would we be willing to go down the street and offer a little hospitality to the family that looks a little different from us for Jesus?

Will we be those who tear down the walls?

Interested in becoming involved with a refugee family, contact the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief office to learn more at (502) 489-3527 or by ewmail at [email protected]

 

 

Will Your Life Count?

Where does time go?  It seems only yesterday that I was playing right tackle for the Greenback Cherokees.  Just minutes ago, I was looking into the eyes of the most beautiful girl in the world as I said, “I Do.”  And our children, how could they all have grown up so fast?

Somewhere it hits us all.  Maybe it is at your grandmother’s funeral.  Perhaps it is when your older brother left for the Marines.  For some of us, it is when we make our first house payment, or at our daughter’s wedding.  But there comes a time when we realize that life is more than ballgames, pizza, and homework.  Time is marching on. The days of our life pass quickly.

The Bible tells us that God has ordained the days of every person’s life.  In Psalm 139:16, we read, “All the days ordained for me were recorded in Your scroll before one of them came into existence.”

Our life is a gift from God and a seed of our parents.  Every life is unique.  There is no one exactly like you in the universe.  No other person can live your life.  When your days are done, there is no recycling bin to recreate you for another round of use.  We only have one chance to make our life count.  So can I ask you, what are you doing with your one-and-only life?

When all is said and done, will your life have counted for something?   Will it have mattered for eternity’s sake?

Can I ask you a couple of questions?

  1. If you had lived in Nazi Germany as a believer in Christ, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?
  2.  If you had lived in Alabama in the 1960’s, would you have spoken out against racism?
  3. When your grandchildren discover that you lived among the wealthiest generation in the history during a time when someone dies of starvation every 2.5 seconds, and a child dies from unclean water every 20 seconds, how will they judge how you chose to live and what you did with the blessings that God has given you?
  4. In a time when 2/3 of our world still needs the Gospel, can you name one thing last year that identified you as being on mission for Jesus?
  5. At your funeral would there be enough evidence in your life to convict you as a Follower of Christ?

These first two questions are easier, aren’t they?  They are just hypothetical.  I want to believe that I would have had the courage to stand against evil and racism.

It is those last three questions that trouble me at times.  For they are not hypothetical.  These are about the choices that I am making today with my life.  We choose each day what we will invest our life.

You and I were created by God to make a difference for His sake in our allotted time.  To make our life count now and beyond the grave.  To do our part to fulfill the Great Commission of Christ.  In the end, nothing else will really matter.

Are you on mission for the sake of Christ?

Will your life count?  

Want to learn more about how to make your life count?  Contact the Missions Mobilization Team at the Kentucky Baptist Convention at (502) 489-3530 or [email protected]

Global Hunger Sunday

When Southern Baptists observe Global Hunger Sunday on October 8, they will be called to act on the commands of Scripture.  The Bible tells us that when Jesus saw the hungry and hurting multitude in Matthew 14, “He had compassion on them…”  He healed and fed those who flocked to Him.

Scripture is filled with God’s compassion for the afflicted, broken, and hungry.  Isaiah 58:10 teaches, “And if you offer yourself to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness and your night will be like noonday.”

Compassion is more than a warm, fuzzy thought.  Compassion is a movement and desire in your gut that compels you to act.  The Global Hunger Fund gives us a way to act on the gut-wrenching scenes of need that are painted across the landscape of our world.  The Global Hunger Fund presents us opportunities, as God’s people, to make a difference for the sake of Christ.

The Global Hunger Fund gives us the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to:

  • a single mother and five children suffering from famine in Lesotho;
  • a Christian family needing a touch of hope in the refugee camps of Northern Iraq;
  • an infant needing clean water in a remote village in Mozambique;
  • a hungry child in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky;
  • and to the multitudes weary and hurting in forsaken corners of our world.

Since its inception in 1974, Southern Baptists have given more than 235 million dollars through the Global Hunger Fund to meet needs both at home and abroad.  Tragically, in recent years, the amount given to the Global Hunger fund has been decreasing.

However, hunger needs have not diminished, nor has God’s love for those who are hungry, sick, and thirsty.  This God-driven fund helps families survive disaster and famine, provides clean water and medical care, improves health and nutrition, and most importantly helps countless people to hear of the hope and Good News of Jesus Christ.

On October 8, will you do your part in helping Southern Baptists respond to a hungry world?

Would you consider giving the cost of a meal out to help provide food for a hungry family in Eastern Kentucky?

Would you consider giving a gift of $25 to provide clean water in a forgotten village?  

Would you give $100 to provide medical supplies to a refugee camp in the Middle East?

Would you consider giving $500 to provide food for widows, orphans, and single mothers in a famine-stricken village?

Would you give a gift of compassion that someone may know the hope of Christ?

Give to the Global Hunger Fund on World Hunger Sunday, October 8!

Why Get Trained?

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief offers several training opportunities every year for volunteers to become trained in disaster reponse., and to get connected with this Christ-centered ministry.

Why get trained?  Let me give you several reasons, why it is important to be trained if you want to respond in a positive and effective way in times of disaster:

  • People that are not connected with trained and self-sustaining organizations often rob resources from those suffering in the midst of a disaster.
  • Untrained people are much more likely to get injured, hurt, or expose themselves to health hazards, as they are typically unfamiliar with potential risks in a disaster zone.
  • Untrained volunteers are often unprepared to provide appropriate assistance and correct information to those affected.
  • Untrained volunteers lack expertise to genuinely help those who have suffered loss, and are unprepared to handle the emotional trauma of victims.
  • Untrained volunteers are unprepared to work long, stressful days in austere and rugged living conditions.  
  • Spontaneous volunteers typically lack familiarity with situation assessments and incident management; and, because of this, usually end up being in the way, rather than providing meaningful help.
  • Untrained volunteers create atmospheres where scam artists, who seek to prey on hurting and vulnerable people, can get site access in disaster settings under the guise of being a volunteer.
  • The greatest reason to train is that God deserves our very best in all that we do.  In order to achieve this, discipline, effort, and knowledge are required.  Trainings are an opportunity to grow as believers, so that we are ready when God calls.

Disasters will come.  Therefore, let me encourage you, be prepared to serve by being trained.  Victims deserve that.  Other disaster relief workers deserve that.  But most of all, our God deserves that!

Check out these opportunities for training in 2017 and 2018:

September 16, 2017 – First Baptist Church of Richmond

January 13, 2018 – First Baptist Church of Grayson

February 10, 2018 – Mexico Baptist Church in Marion

March 10, 2018 – Shelbyville First Baptist Church

April 14, 2018 – Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green

September 15, 2018 – Immanuel Baptist Church in Corbin

For more information, contact the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief office by phone at (502) 489-3527 or (866) 489-3527, by email at [email protected], or register for training at www.kybaptist.org/dr/.

 

Why Ready Church?

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has developed a strategy plan called ‘Ready Church” to help local churches to minister when disaster strikes in their community.  Ready Church seeks to assist churches in preparing a response strategy for disaster and crisis events  for the sake of Christ.

Why Ready Church?

Because most churches and organizations fail to prepare for any kind of disaster, and thus are caught unprepared and ill-equipped to minister in times of crisis.

Why Ready Church?

Because Kentucky averages a flood event every 6.5 days.

Why Ready Church?

Because Kentucky averages 14 tornadoes a year.

Why Ready Church?

Because Kentucky lies along the New Madrid earthquake fault line.  It is estimated that a 7.0 magnitude earthquake or larger would impact 90,000+ people in Kentucky.

Why Ready Church?

Because Kentucky communities will be impacted by ice storms, loss of electricity, fires, industrial accidents, workplace and school violence, and other crisis events in the coming days, 

Why Ready Church?

Because people need the compassion of Christ in the loss of disasters and crisis events.

Why Ready Church?

Because people need Christ, and are often opened to the Gospel when compassion is demonstrated in the midst of crisis.

IS YOUR CHURCH READY?

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

For more information or to schedule a consultation to help your church become better prepared for disaster events in your community, contact the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief office by phone at (502) 489-3527 or (866) 489-3527, or by email at [email protected]

 

 

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief: Celebrating 33 Years of Ministry

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief began as a ministry outreach of the Kentucky Baptist Convention in 1984.  For 33 years, the trained volunteers of disaster relief have brought help, healing, and hope to those affected by disaster.

During this time, over 25,000 volunteers have been trained, and Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has developed incredible resources that can be mobilized in times of disaster.

Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief (KBDR) is a ministry of Kentucky Baptist churches that is supported by gifts to the Cooperative Program and the Eliza Broadus Offering for State Missions.  These gifts enable KBDR to mobilize the following mobile disaster relief units in times of disaster:

  • 4 Mobile Kitchens – capacity of 68,000 meals per day
  • 27 Chainsaw/Flood/Wildfire Recovery Trailers
  • 2 Mobile Communication Units
  • 7 Mobile Shower Units
  • 1 Mobile Laundry Unit
  • 2 Mobile Childcare Trailers
  • 3 Mobile Water Purification Units
  • 1 Roof-Tarping Trailer
  • 1 Kuboda Skid-steer, Mobile Lift, and 2 Fork-lifts

When Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief was there.

When 9-11 shook the core of our nation, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were among the first responders to arrive in New York City.

When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Louisiana, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief helped serve over 1.3 million meals the first week.

When the Kentucky ice storm paralyzed almost half of the Commonwealth in 2009, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief mobilized chainsaw teams, mobile kitchens, shower units, and response to 18 counties.

When the Haiti earthquake rocked this poverty-stricken island in 2010, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief sent 17 teams to minister in the midst of the rubble.

When a F-3 tornado leveled the small Kentucky town of West Liberty, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief had chainsaw teams, chaplains, childcare teams, shower units, a communication trailer, and a mobile kitchen on the ground in less than 24 hours.

When Hurricane Sandy unleashed its fury on New York City in 2012, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief was the first on the ground.

When floods destroyed over 1000 homes and took 23 lives in West Virginia in the summer of 2016, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief provided almost 40,000 meals, assisted in 214 flood clean-up jobs, and made almost 1000 Chaplain visits.

When famine gripped millions of people in Lesotho and Zimbabwe in 2016 and 2017, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief partnered with the International Mission Board and Baptist Global Response to provide over 1 million meals to starving people in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

And not only was Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief there serving faithfully in countless disasters for the last 33 years, every Kentucky Baptist church was there.

Every Kentucky Baptist church was there, because your gifts to the Cooperative Program make ministries like Disaster Relief possible through the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Together by our support of the Cooperative Program, we are bringing help, healing, and hope to the hurting and hopeless.

Thank you Kentucky Baptists for your gifts to the Cooperative Program and for  supporting Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief!

 

 

 

The Importance of Prayer

Haiti - 3I have learned that there are some problems in the world that are bigger than us, and some tasks that are beyond our human ability of achieving.  There are some things in this world that only God can do.

One of those God-sized tasks is the Great Commission. Taking the Gospel to every people, tongue, and land is beyond any of our abilities, but with the Lord, all things are possible.  God has promised a coming time when he will gather people from every tribe, language, and corner of the globe around His throne of grace.

Our calling as the church is to “Go” and make disciples of all nations.  As we go, we need to remember that this is only possible by the power of God’s hand.  This is why prayer is vital.

Jesus commanded us, “But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).

Power to change the world will come through prayer.  Power to reach the world will be released through prayer.  The Great Commission will be achieved through the prayers of God’s people.

How can you be a vital part of reaching our world for Christ?

  • Establish a daily time of prayer, and be serious about it.
  • Adopt a method of praying.  Change your routine from time to time.  Develop a prayer journal.  Try prayer walking.  Pray through scripture passages (the Psalms are one of the best tools for this method).  Meditate on Scripture.  Make a prayer list and faithfully pray for each of the requests.  Make sure that praise, thanks, and confession are part of your prayer time.
  • Pray for a specific people group and for missionaries by name.
  • Pray for the Lottie Moon International Mission Offering, the Annie Armstrong Mission Offering for North America, and the Eliza Broadus Offering for Kentucky State Missions. Pray for the Cooperative Program as it remains the lifeblood of Southern Baptist mission work across the globe.
  • Pray for God’s calling on your own life.  How does God want to use you to fulfill His Great Commission?
  • Pray fervently and with passion.  You are going before the throne of God, and spending time with the one who sits high and lifted up.
  • Seek to be known as a person of prayer.  What better way to be known by God and by others?

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)

Counsel for The Called

Lesotho-4God has called every believer to go into all the world and to make disciples.  Mission volunteers can be used by God to reach the nations, and to make tremendous impact on the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

Here are my top ten tips for believers who seek to serve internationally::

  1. Do not expect other cultures to be like your own.  Everyone has a tendency to think that  our own culture is the norm.  It is not always good or bad, it may just be different from your own.  Avoid being critical of other cultures, or comparing it to America.
  2. Be a learner.  Ask questions.  Learn about local customs.  Embrace new foods and new experiences.  Show genuine interest in the people that you will meet.  Knowledge of others and culture will always strengthen your witness.
  3. Learn some language.  Not all of us are gifted in language, but most of us can learn a few words.  Learn to say ‘Hello”, Goodbye”, and “Thank you”.  Nationals appreciate our effort in even small ways, and it demonstrates that we want to build relationships.
  4. Treat others with dignity and respect.  Put others before ourselves as the Scriptures teach us, whether they be nationals or fellow team members.
  5. Have a servant spirit..  Christ demonstrated the effectiveness of a servant spirit in His ministry, and calls us to do the same.  A servant spirit opens doors for the Gospel and makes us a better team member.
  6. Welcome others into your presence.  Be open to people.  Seek to engage others in culturally appropriate ways.  Kindness, smiles, and a gracious attitude are bridges for the Gospel. 
  7. Demonstrate a spiritual depth.  Prayer, Bible study, and worship  are foundations for maturity in Christ.  You cannot share what you do not possess.
  8. Be fluid.   Things will not always go as planned.  Trust that the Holy Spirit is working in the changes, and go with the flow.
  9. Demonstrate a passion for Christ.  Be ready to share your story and what He means to you.
  10. “GO”.  You will never be used by God until you say “yes” and go.  The Mission Mobilization Team at the Kentucky Baptist Convention has challenged every church to “Send One More” in the coming year in a missions cause.  Would you be that one or, even better, would you take someone with you?

A lost world is waiting.

“And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are  the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15)

 

 

The Heart of Leadership

Perhaps no Biblical leader faced the questioning of his leadership like Moses.
The Book of Numbers shares that every time Moses turned around, someone was murmuring, grumbling, and questioning his direction and judgement.  It is not easy to lead any group of people, and the family of faith is no different.

Leadership is crucial for a pastor or spiritual leader within the church.  A charismatic Refugee DR Team - Ugandapersonality, natural gifts, and a seminary education are certainly important, but they are not the key to leadership.  In challenging moments, the ability to lead hinges on trust.  Very few will follow someone that they do not trust.

As I talk to church leaders today, I am amazed at their vision, passion, and knowledge.  Most are far more gifted than me, and I am excited about the future of the church.  Yet there is one area that concerns me as I talk with the next generation of leaders.  I am concerned that many do not seem to understand the importance of developing trust as they work with people.  It is my experience, that you cannot lead and influence people for the long haul without trust.  I fear that this is one of the reasons that results in so many short pastorates and church conflicts.

Here are crucial insights that I have learned about developing trust that will strengthen your ability to lead effectively:

  1. Trust must be earned.  Trust cannot be demanded or assumed.  In fact, if you have to demand spiritual authority, then you probably have no authority or influence.
  2. Trust takes time.  A congregation may love you and have even chose you to lead them, but it takes time for them to trust you.  I have found that the ability to lead effectively develops with time and often begins to mature after 4-5 years.  It was after 10 years that I saw my ability to lead move to new heights as I served as pastor in South Central Kentucky.  Longevity increases trust.  Hanging in there with people increases their trust in you.
  3. Trust comes with consistency.  People are always watching us as leaders. If they see consistency in our message, approach, ethics, and our dealings with people, then it will develop trust.
  4. Trust will rise from integrity.  Do you follow through with commitments?  Do you honor your word?  Do you keep promises?  Broken commitments destroy trust.
  5. Trust will grow when we are willing to be transparent.  Trust grows when we let folks see who we are, and admit our shortcomings and mistakes.  People are more likely to follow a sincere leader than a phony pretender.
  6. Trust is more likely, if folks see that we lean on Jesus.  Congregations do not need us to be the savior.  They need pastors who will lead them to know and walk with our Savior Jesus Christ.   People gain confidence in us when they see  that we walk with the Lord, and are seeking His direction.

Without trust, it is difficult to lead.  Trust matters.

” Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.”
(1 Corinthians 4:1-2)

 

 

 

Backpacks Provide Hope for Children at Christmas

17.3 million of the children in the U.S. live in poverty, trapped by circumstances beyond their control.  Almost 1 million of them live in Kentucky, where 26% of our children under the age of 18 live in poverty.  That means that for 1 out of 4 children, Christmas doesn’t always come with the promise of gifts—or even a Christmas meal. Every day is more about survival than celebration. But we can help change that.

One very practical way that Kentucky Baptists can reach compassionately the needy children in our state is through the Christmas Backpack Project. Last year, there were over 50,000 backpacks distributed in 13 states by missionaries and church planters, and 15,000 of those went to children in KY.  Each backpack is a tangible expression of God’s love – and is filled with gifts of clothing, toys and food items. But the greatest gift in each backpack is a copy of the true Christmas story.  It may hard to believe, but many children have never heard the Biblical account of the true Christmas story.

Last year, there were over 1,500 decisions for Christ as a result of the gospel message that is shared with each backpack.  An exciting thing about those decisions is that many of them were made by parents and grandparents of the children receiving the backpacks.  The backpacks don’t just provide hope to a needy child, they impact the whole family.

A little girl named Gracie received a backpack and sent the following thank you note:  Thank you for the backpacks. I’m so thankful for all the cool stuff I got. My friend and I both got some gloves and a Holy Bible. We are reading the Bible together. Thank you!”

When the backpacks are received by children living in difficult circumstances, not only are the children and their families affected, so are those who prepare and pack the backpacks.  Many churches report that their whole congregation was involved in this ministry, young and old, including those who can’t travel on a mission trip. Some churches reported that working together on the backpacks helped them to focus outwardly on the needs of others rather than upon internal church issues.

Evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!”   How devoted are you to reaching children for God?

Let me challenge you and your church to commit to preparing and packing backpacks for children to receive this Christmas.  It all starts with you – but ends in someone coming to know Jesus Christ and the true Christmas story.

For more information, or to register your church’s participation in the Christmas Backpack Project, visit:  www.kybaptist.org/backpacks