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Archive for March, 2008

Meeting was held on Monday, March 17th, 2008 at the Fairview Baptist Church in Ashland.  I attended the meeting Monday evening, along with two others from our church, as messengers from FBC Grayson.  Truly, the meeting was very non-eventful.  There is not much of substance to report.  However, in the interest of presenting information for my readers, I submit the following summary.

         Meeting was called to order by Pastor Jim Nichols, Moderator

         Welcome, scripture reading, prayer, adoption of Order of Business and the enrollment of messengers was handled without incident. New pastors include A.J. Toney at South Shore FBC, and Dickey Tiller, now at Liberty Baptist Church.

         WMU Report by new WMU director, Lisa Nickell (Sandy Hook) was brief, told of recent meeting, encouraged churches to get involved inWMU and told of upcoming Annual Meeting in Bardstown, KY, 3/28-29. 

         Nominating Committee presented the following list of officers for 2008-2009 (effective September 18, 2008):

o       GAB OFFICERS FOR 2008-2009

§         Moderator: Ronnie Mayes (Rose Hill, Ashland)

§         Vice-Moderator: Mike Blankenship (Catlettsburg, Oakland Ave.)

§         Treasurer: Butch Kiger

§         Asst. Treasurer: Larry Withers

§         Clerk: Stan Williams (Cannonsburg FBC)

§         Asst. Clerk: Ric Frazier (Louisa FBC)

 Other Officers for 08-09:

o       Sunday School director- Ric Frazier (Louisa FBC)

o       WMU Director- Lisa Nickell (Sandy Hook)

o       Seminary Extension- Floyd Paris (Unity, Ashland)

o       Evangelism Director- Charles Stewart (Rose Hill, Ashland)

o       Asst. Evangelism Director- Jim Nichols (Wildwood, Ashland)

o       Music Director- Jeff Ferguson

o       Brotherhood/ Disaster Relief Director- Curt Smith

o       Missions Development- Fred Boggs

o       BYC Representative- Terry Leap (FBC Grayson)

o       Student Ministry/ BCM- Jeremy Harris

o       Pastoral Ministry/ Media Library- Sandy Adams (Lloyd FBC)

o       KY Childcare Representative- Dorothy Crace

o       Discipleship Training- Mike Blankenship (Catlettsburg, Oakland Ave.)

o       Family Ministry- OPEN

o       Stewardship Director- OPEN

o       Baptist Builders Director- OPEN

         The Nominating Committee also recommended the following future meetings:

o       SPRING 2009- March 16 at Cannonsburg FBC, speaker: Butch Kiger

o       FALL 2009- Sept. 21 at Louisa FBC, speaker: Dr. Bill Mackey

         Nominating Committee: A.J. Toney, Ric Frazier, Dorothy Crace, Stan Williams, Annette Boyles

         Following the Nominating committee, there was a Treasurer’s Report which reported the following for 2007:

o       Associational Center: $121,487.00 budgeted/  $103,538.68 spent

o       Education: $5,775.00 budgeted/ $3,284.61 spent

o       Family/ Community Ministry: $800 budgeted/ $0 spent

o       Missions: $23,550.00 budgeted/ $6,791.74 spent

o       Proclaiming: $2,500.00 budgeted/ $1,438.11 spent

o       Worship: $1,500.00 budgeted/ $0 spent

o       TOTALS:  $156,612.00 budgeted/ $115,053.14 spent for 2007 year.

         Furthermore, current balances as of 12/31 are as follows:

o       Total Cash and Bank Accounts balance: $207,598.20

         Following financial report, a VBS Report from Brother A.J. Toney; he announced he would be stepping down as VBS director this year and that associational VBS training session would be Tuesday April 22nd. Other details pending.

         Officers were elected by body, no opposition.

         No Miscellaneous business brought to the floor.

         Disaster Relief report brought by Harold Moore, Curt Smith is not present because he is actively serving with Disaster Relief.  This is an important ministry which the GAB has always participated in diligently, but we need new volunteers for this important ministry.

         An offering for Disaster relief was received (I forget amount exactly, but it ended up being $300-$400).

         Brother Harold Cathey brought the DOM report.  The highlights are as follows:

o       The large bank account balance is due to the fact that he desires to lead the association in building a conference center for the GAB.  Pray for this endeavor.

o       Bro. Doug Virgin, DOM of Huntington Association invited all pastors to attend upcoming “Building Bridges” conference which will encourage more joint missions efforts between the GAB, Huntington Association and Scioto Association (SB associations of the KYOVA region).   

o       Free copies of “Praying Effectively for the Lost” are available courtesy of Bro. Lee Thomas, author.

o       Bro. Cathey expressed his thankfulness for the GAB, its churches and its pastors.  He is thankful for our stand on Baptist heritage and is glad that we are not having to address many of the “messes” that other churches/ associations address.  He encourages us to continue to stand firm.

         Following this report, Pastor Tom Melvin (Pastor, Greenup First Baptist) brought the sermon of the evening, entitled “The Model Church,” from Matthew 16:13-20.  The model church believes the Bible, preaches the cross, is led by the Spirit of God, loves the brethren, witnesses to the lost, acts on faith, and worships and works.

         Meeting was adjourned, refreshments followed.            

OBSERVATIONS/ PRAYER REQUESTS:

1. Pray for more workers to rise up and get involved in our association’s Disaster Relief Work.  This is a great ministry that really puts a “human” face on Southern Baptists for the world.  It is a good-works ministry that allows us to impact lives and present Christ to the lost in a tangible way.  However, Southern Baptists are struggling to enlist younger workers to commit to this ministry and the volunteer-corps is graying.  Pray for this ministry.

2. Pray that our association will have more vision for missions-involvement and that we will prayerfully consider new ways to be involved in local missions.  In 2007, we used only 29% of the actual dollars that we budgeted for missions and $0 (zero) was spent on family and community ministry according to the report.  Pray that we would have greater vision for how we can use these approved dollars for the expansion of the Kingdom in our region. 

3. There was no approval or mention of our association’s KBC Mission Board representatives.  I only mention this because I have queried about this previously and been told that we handled this at the spring meeting.  I feel that for our association to be represented well at the state level, we should know who our representatives to this important board are and hear a report about their contribution to the work of the KBC. 

4. Pray for wider involvement of more individuals from the broad spectrum of churches represented in the GAB.  We are an association of some 50 churches and yet many of those churches are not participating at all in the life or leadership of the association.  We must always remember that we can accomplish more together than we ever can alone. 

5. Pray for our association’s leadership, that they would know the will and mind of God for doing missions locally.  

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Just last week in our church, while preaching through the gospel of Luke, I addressed the passage in Luke’s version of the Beatitudes (6:20-26) where Jesus spoke to his followers and told them, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God (20b)…” followed by “but woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.” (24)

 

As a church, we wanted to get our arms around what this actually meant.  Could this mean that all Christians must be economically poor?  Surely not, for later in the New Testament Paul gives Timothy instructions about how to disciple the rich in the church to use their wealth wisely and by so doing, to honor God.  There is nothing inherently spiritual about being poor, especially if the poverty is caused by foolishness or laziness.  Is it speaking merely of “spiritual bankruptcy” or poverty of spirit alone, as Matthew includes in his accounting of the beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12)?  Although I do think that the greater emphasis of this verse speaks to the spiritual aspects of these qualities, I do not think that we should totally ignore the real, material implications of the passage either. 

 

I concluded my teaching on the passage by indicating that these characteristics (i.e. poverty, hunger, weeping, willingness to be ostracized for the gospel) while having literal and concrete applications, speak primarily to a spiritual reality whereby the true follower of Christ embraces these values as a real possibility when considering what it means to follow Christ.  Blessing in the heavenly and eternal sense will come to those who are willing to live lives characterized by these qualities if that is what it takes to follow Christ wholly.  Conversely, those who refuse the call to follow Christ but instead pursue the sensual and temporal pleasures of this life (i.e. material riches, sumptuous dining, a “party” mentality demonstrated by unceasing laughter and mirth, and acceptance and popularity in the world) will ultimately face “woe” because of their choices.  Their unwillingness to embrace the King and Kingdom values will result in short-term satisfaction, but eternal disappointment. 

 

But I never realized one week ago just how powerful an illustration of these principles would arise in our culture this week.

 

All week, America has heard the torrid details of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s illicit affairs with prostitutes while governing New York.  The Governor spent upwards of $80,000 on high-dollar sexual escapades with a VIP escort service out of New York City.  His family is doubtless devastated and shamed.  His professional career is ruined.  His wife is broken and certainly his children embarrassed.  His hypocrisy is inexcusable. 

 

Following his announcement, apology, and resignation, America began to learn about another individual; the young (22 year-old), attractive, high-dollar prostitute named “Kristen.”  As the story unfolded throughout the week, Kristen became a virtual celebrity, having her songs downloaded (she is an aspiring musician) by the thousands online and having 1-million dollars offered to her by a leading pornographic publisher if she agrees to appear nude in his magazine. 

 

Now before I go any further, let me say that I truly feel sorry for this girl.  I realize that she came forth declaring that she “loves her life” as a prostitute and that she has presented herself as someone who is almost “proud” of her life as a “glamorous call-girl.”  But peel beneath those outward layers, and I believe you will find a very sad person who is longing for authentic relationship and intimacy, the kind that cannot be bought and sold.  I believe that her true heart’s longing is for the very kind of intimate love and acceptance that the Lord Jesus Christ offers to all those who forsake this world and follow him.  I, for one, will be praying for this young woman, that she will find genuine love before her life is completely ruined by a string of one-night-stands from desperate, lustful, lonely, hypocritical men who merely want to use her for temporary pleasures.  I hope you will pray for her as well. 

 

But my point is that her situation exemplifies well what Jesus spoke of in his beatitudes.  Here is a woman who will likely become a “mini-celebrity” because of her gross immorality and involvement in a sexual scandal that has ruined lives.  She will undoubtedly appear on various television venues, secure book deals, make lots of money promoting products, and perhaps even become a millionaire by posing nude in a magazine.  If so, she will have chosen her path and she will have her reward in this life and “receive her comfort in full.” 

 

Meanwhile, I tried to ponder just how many millions of authentic, dedicated Christians today (not to mention throughout the ages) have lived their lives in relative obscurity and often even in poverty because of their decision to follow Christ.  How many pastors today struggle bi-vocationally to shepherd God’s people and simply provide the essentials for their family?  How many seminary students the same age as this young woman are laboring 20 hours per day between school, work and raising a family so that they can effectively serve God in a church where they will likely scrap and scratch just to survive?  How many missionaries forsake lucrative careers in other fields to follow the call of Christ to a foreign land where they will be alone and ostracized for the sake of the gospel?  How many Christians in foreign lands today choose to follow Christ even though it may mean being isolated from their families, losing their jobs, and perhaps giving their life?  I’ll bet if you asked them, they wouldn’t trade the riches they have in Christ to be in the position of this celebrity prostitute either. 

 

When you compare the two value systems, one exemplified by a prostitute-celebrity who is glamourized and embraced by the world, and the other exemplified by millions of followers of Christ who rather choose poverty than the riches of this life, then the value system set-forth by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount becomes very understandable, real and tangible. 

 

Ultimately, who will fare better from an eternal perspective?  Jesus says that the poor obtain the kingdom (or reign) of God in their lives, both for now and eternity.  And what about those who reject the King of Kings only to follow their own twisted ethic leading them toward the pursuit of riches and celebrity in this life?  Jesus, again, says something of great significance to them.  Paraphrased, Jesus says “you might as well enjoy the riches of this life, because it is all you will get.” 

 

Ultimately, this is the same dilemma that the Psalmist faced in Psalm 73, where he envied the “prosperity of the wicked” (v. 3), until God showed him “the end” of the wicked (17), that ultimately they would face eternal judgment.  Then, David concluded that “the nearness of God is my good” (27), demonstrating that he had learned a lesson about envying those who are rich in this life, for they are often so at the cost of their own eternal good. 

 

Of course there is more to be said about what news-stories like this one imply about the state of our culture.  A passage in Isaiah comes to mind, where God condemns those who “call evil good, and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness,” (5:20).  There is something inherently wrong with a culture which jumps on stories like this to raise people like a home-wrecker and prostitute to the status of celebrity.  What kind of world do we live in where the people of God are regularly mocked and ridiculed while criminals, liars, murderers, thieves and prostitutes achieve cult celebrity-status?  But methinks that is a diatribe for another time… 

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Below is the article that I wrote today for next week’s local paper.  It will appear in the local paper the week before Easter and is geared toward making Christians ponder just how important the literal nature of the resurrection is for the church and the gospel in a time when many no longer focus on such propositional, apologetic issues of the faith.  I still think it is vitally important for Christians to insist upon the historical truth of the resurrection because I believe that someone else thought it was of vital importance… JESUS!  Enjoy the article…

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)

We live in a difficult and sometimes frustrating time in which compromise and accommodation are too often the norm for Christians.  There are many today who feel that they can hold to a watered-down, feel-good version of Christianity devoid of any controversy.  There is an increasingly popular stream of “religious” thought today (which some call Christianity) that allows one to talk much of “God” and “spiritual things” without ever confronting the more controversial and exclusive claims of orthodox Christianity, such as the virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement and the bodily resurrection of Christ. 

The Easter holiday however, does not allow us that luxury. 

You see, it is on Easter (I prefer Resurrection Sunday) when a great portion of the world is focusing specifically on Jesus Christ, God’s Son and the death he endured on Calvary’s cross followed by his resurrection from the dead.  On this holiday the watching world is wondering if the resurrection was real, and if so, what it means to us today.  On this day more than perhaps any other, thoughtful Christians should be equipped with Biblical answers about the resurrection. 

In preparation for Easter Sunday, I would encourage every Christian to read the account found in John 2:18-22.  It is one of the most important passages in the New Testament for understanding the significance of the resurrection.  It is here that Jesus bases the validity of everything he taught and said upon the reality of his resurrection from the dead.  When the Jews asked Jesus about his source of authority, He in essence responded by pointing them to the inevitability of his bodily resurrection.  The apostle John tells us this in verses 21-22, when he comments that Jesus’ words about the rebuilding of the temple were actually a veiled reference to his own body, his own death, and his own resurrection. 

This truth has great meaning for Christians today.  We have a historical, verifiable, and intelligent reason for believing that Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God and the savior of mankind.  That reason is the event of Jesus’ bodily resurrection.  A real event in history, witnessed by eyewitnesses (1 Cor 15:3-8) and almost covered-up by public authorities (Matt 28:11-15).  Put simply, without the physical resurrection of Jesus, Christians would have no reason to trust in Jesus any more than any other self-proclaimed messiah or religious leader who has sought an audience throughout the centuries. 

But if the resurrection is indeed true (and I affirm that it is!), then everything changes.  This is why the apostle Paul says that without the resurrection, the Christian faith is a sham, but if the resurrection is indeed true, then the gospel message has the power of God to radically transform lives (1 Cor 15:12-20).  Jesus’ resurrection is God’s “stamp of approval” upon his messianic claims.  Without the resurrection Jesus is just another religious fanatic.  But because it is true, we have grounds to believe that Jesus alone is God’s exclusive savior and that He alone is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).  After all, how many other religious leaders or teachers verified their claims by rising from the dead after having been dead for three days?

The church ought to boldly proclaim to the world on Easter and on every other day that which the apostle Paul boldly and confidently proclaimed to the Romans, that Jesus was “declared (to be) the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness (i.e. the Holy Spirit)” (Romans 1:4).   

Without the resurrection, there is no Christianity.  It may be controversial and it may even put us all in the uncomfortable position of standing on a truth that is based in the miraculous and verified only in the scriptures.  But I would suggest that this bold proclamation of and stand upon the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is, in the end, what will distinguish genuine, energized Christian faith from mere “god-talk” and “spirituality.” 

May God bless you as you celebrate and live in the power of the resurrection!

Pastor Terry Leap

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