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Archive for October, 2009

declare

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!  Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. (Psalm 96:1-2)

Just this past week, I noticed a trend during our Wednesday evening service.  In keeping with our harvest-emphasis, I gave the small group of gathered believers opportunity to share about any successes or rejections they had experienced thus far in their attempts to share their faith with their friends or even invite them to church.  A few individuals began to share testimonies that really made me rejoice as a pastor.  One shared about his diligent attempts to connect with a friend who is under heavy conviction in order that he might share the gospel in-depth with this friend for whom he has prayed for years.  It was exciting to hear this man’s passion and desire for his friend’s salvation.  Another shared an incident from earlier that afternoon when, in the course of stopping by a repair-shop, he engaged a man in a conversation that led into a deeper discussion of religious matters.  He offered to pray for the man concerning some of his trials and invited the man to attend our church soon.  Again, I was glad to hear this report simply because it reflected an intentional desire to engage a total stranger, to listen to their problems, to offer to pray, and to invite them to church.  Granted, I would love to see these engagements result in a full-blown sharing of the gospel, but I will rejoice nonetheless.

Both of these men encouraged me with their stories of sharing and engaging.  But what I noticed that challenged me so much was the sense of exotic awe with which the rest of us listened.  We listened as if we were hearing strange, exotic, reports from a faraway places.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am glad that we were listening intently, but my concern is with the fact that we listened as if we hadn’t heard this kind of sharing in years.  Ulitmately, we were carried away by these men’s words and stories precisely because their stories were so strange to us.  We are so unaccustomed to sharing our faith in our daily life and reporting these accounts to others for prayer that when we do intentionally share, it feels almost prideful, and as if we have really accomplished something special for the Lord.

And that’s what troubles me.

Again, don’t get me wrong.  There was no pride or wrong intention in the hearts of these men sharing, in fact, they were sharing in response to my request to do so.  But why is it that sharing our faith has become so rare that hearing stories like these sound so alien to us?

The Psalmist tells us that telling others of our deliverance should be a day to day occurrence.  It should be a natural response to the presence of Christ in our lives.  In fact, rather than the occasional “sharing story” being rare, circumstances in the life of the Christian should be the exact opposite.  Instead, the day when we DON’T share Christ’s love to someone else verbally should be the rare occasion.  Instead of witnessing the gospel to the lost once every thirty days or so, there shouldn’t be more than one out of thirty days in which we don’t share Christ with the lost.

Sharing Christ with the lost and telling others of God’s deliverance shouldn’t feel like such a rare, exotic occasion.  While it should certainly be exciting whenever we hear of a witnessing encounter, that excitement and those reports should be the rule rather than the exception.

So how is it with you?  Do you tell others of God’s deliverance in Christ from day to day?  If given the opportunity to testify about a witnessing encounter this week, would you have one to tell?  Or would you sit back and listen with amazement as someone else told of an encounter and think to yourself, “boy, I sure wish I could open my mouth and share Christ like so and so does…”

Wake up church.  We cannot afford to sit in silence any longer.  Tell someone today of Jesus and his love.

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fall-harvest

I sincerely want every member of SHBC to check out this story at the Western Recorder website and read it carefully and thoughtfully. Here’s the story: http://www.westernrecorder.org/wr/wrsite.nsf/stories/200941-Awakening

God is pouring out His Spirit in a magnificent way upon this church in Morehead. Clearly, they are in a season of revival for which they have longed, and now, with this outpouring of God’s Spirit, they will enter into a season of discipleship, deepening of the converted, and hopefully, prolonged harvest. I pray for this church and hope sincerely that they will continue to experience this great movement of God’s Spirit!

Even more exciting to me than reading the confirmation of this movement of God (I had heard about this earlier this week at a meeting), is the fact that this is the VERY SAME AGENDA that I have been promoting at our church for the past four weeks. I have been attempting to pass on to you all as a church what God has laid on my heart as a pastor, namely that it is time for us to labor in light of the harvest! As a church, we must wake up to the fact that if we do not begin to take part in God’s economy of sowing, cultivating, and harvesting, we will die within a few short years. I have been encouraging you all to “lift up your eyes” to see the lost and hurting people all around you. I continue to encourage you to specifically and diligently pray for 2-3 lost people that you have some contact with in your life. Tomorrow is a day of church-wide prayer and fasting for the lost and for our church. Will you participate?

Beyond looking and praying, I am challenging the folks of SHBC to share their faith with these 2-3 people for whom they are praying. A simple personal testimony is a good start. Have you shared yours lately? Finally, I am asking you all to invite your friend (or family member, etc…) to church with you on the morning of November 1st, bringing them to breakfast at 8:30, small groups at 9:30, and morning worship at 10:45, to hear the preaching of Dr. J.D. Payne, who is going to deliver the gospel to them in fuller, expositional form. All of this is geared toward making you a participant in the Lord’s harvest.

SHBC, it is far past the time for us to wake up to this reality. Unless we corporately begin to sow, cultivate, work, and pray for harvest, we will never experience the kind of great outpouring of God’s Spirit that we read about above. The irony for me is that I have been pressing on churches the need for almost the EXACT process that this pastor is describing in Morehead for many years now. I had “Harvest Days” for years in Grayson, but never with this kind of result. Now, I am seeking to create a culture at SHBC that is driven by a desire to see God’s harvest in our congregation.

Read Jesus’ words in John 4:35-38. Read his words in Matthew 9:35-38. There can be no question that we must begin to look upon the fields, specifically take note of individuals who are in need of salvation, and then compassionately go to them and tell them of Christ and invite them into His presence! I cannot see how this could even be questioned by any well-meaning, well-read Christian. The question is whether or not we will be obedient to the words of Christ.

The pastor in the above article admits that when he issued the challenge for his congregation to work to see 100 people saved in three weeks, that he and many others didn’t believe it was possible. But look what God did in that church much to everyone’s surprise! I believe with all my heart that the same and even more can happen at SHBC!

Do you?

If you believe in the potential for harvest, then you must also believe in the necessity of sowing. Join us in intentionally praying, inviting, serving, sharing, and presenting Christ to our community throughout the remainder of our Harvest Days 2009.

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“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1, ESV)

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY SOUTHERN HEIGHTS BAPTIST CHURCH!

It is my joy to serve as the pastor of Southern Heights during this very special time in our church’s history. This month, we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Southern Heights Baptist Church. On October fourth (10/4), we will celebrate this momentous event in our morning worship service by getting together with old members, staff, and friends and worshipping the LORD of the church together. We will hear the Word of the LORD from former pastor Monty Carter, a man who has himself experienced the healing and mercy of the LORD in the past year. Following the service, we will share a meal together and then enjoy an afternoon of celebration, reflection, and reminiscing. I do hope you will attend!

However, in the midst of all of this, let us never forget the WHO and the WHY of our celebration. As the words of the Psalmist remind us, we are not the ones deserving any applause. It is not our name that should be exalted or praised at the anniversary celebration, but rather the name of the LORD. Though our church is comprised of wonderful, loving, and godly people, we are not strong enough, smart enough, rich enough, or spiritual enough to have sustained a local church for fifty years. We acknowledge that, as human beings, we are flawed people who lack full commitment and faithfulness. Had the continued existence of our church depended on any one of us, we would have failed long ago! But thanks be to God that HE is the one who has remained present in the midst of our church for all of these years. He has guided us, sustained us, empowered us, and cared for us as His people. Without the LORD’s preservation, this anniversary celebration would not be possible!

And so our celebration this month should be more than just meals, memories, and reminiscing; it should be a genuine act of worship directed to the God who birthed, grew, sustained, guided, and still lives in the midst of the Southern Heights Baptist Church. Because it is His steadfast love and faithfulness that has brought us this far, we must direct all of our praise, thanksgiving, credit, honor, and glory directly to him as we celebrate our first fifty years. To do any less would dishonor God.

However, I hope that our anniversary celebration is more than just a look backward. It is natural at times like this to reflect on the past, but looking at God’s faithfulness through the years must do more than fill us with “warm and fuzzy feelings.” It should motivate us to look to the present and the future and anticipate the great things that God has yet to do in our church. In the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor (Revelation 1-3), Jesus always begins by acknowledging some things that the churches had already done in their past, either right or wrong. However, he always goes on to include hopeful words of encouragement about the churches and the future reward that they could attain if they would only respond in faith and obedience to Him.

I believe that Southern Heights has a rich and blessed past, one for which we should always thank God. However, I also believe that the best years are yet ahead of us! God is not finished with our church. May we look to the wonderful foundation that has been laid during our first fifty years of ministry and build on that foundation in the years to come. Until the day that the Lord of our church returns, may we continue to minister and be found faithful!

So happy anniversary Southern Heights! And thank you LORD, for your faithfulness to our church! Thank you Lord, for the faithful, godly, loving, and supportive Christians through whom you have worked through the years to make this celebration possible, and may you continue to bless us and make disciples in our midst until Jesus returns!

Honored to serve,
Pastor Terry

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