Pastor’s Perspective – October 2015

This newsletter marks the final quarter of 2015. It is remarkable to look back over the past 9 months and see how much transition this church has experienced and navigated by the grace of God. We have lost, we have gained, we have failed, we have succeeded; all of which is used of God to build His testimony in our lives and in the life of this church.  As we have seen this year, we are not exempt from experiencing each life stage that is mentioned in Ecclesiastes 3; otherwise known as the “time for everything” passage.

 

Whereas 2015 began with much transition, it also began with much prayer, hope, and aspiration to a fresh work of God in and through us.  Upward Basketball and Cheerleading had record enrollment, the Search Committee was eagerly receiving resumes for the vacant Youth/FMC Director position, and our church began discussing the opportunity of mission work in Canada—to name only a few. With that said, Upward was a success, God sent us Josh Rinker (and family) as our new Youth/FMC Director and the Canadian Vision Team and the Missions Committee has reached a long sought after decision concerning partnering with a church planter in Canada.

 

For those of you who are new, here is the short story on the potential of a mission partnership with Canada.  The Mission Committee and I assembled a group of people to investigate a potential partnership with a North American Mission Board church planter in Canada.  The Mission Committee spent several weeks seeking God’s direction in touring two cities in Canada, Toronto, Ontario  and Vancouver, BC.  The Vision Team went to Toronto in May and then Vancouver in July.

 

We met with our Southern Baptist Convention church planters in both cities and learned how God was assembling so many diverse pastors (and their families) in Canada to literally reach the world with the Gospel. For Canada’s government, and most of it citizenship, is open to immigrants and refugees from all over the globe. So much so that I learned that the Canadian distinctive is now a blend of international cultures, religions, and ideals.  The planters had great stories of success, however, they also has stories of the reality and hardships of planting churches in a country in which Christianity is in its rearview mirror by a least 2-3 decades. The soil is hard in reaching Canadians with the Gospel.

 

OKAY! What does all of that mean?  For months it has been written and said that a report will be given to the whole church as to whether or not the Vision Team and Missions Committee perceives the potential of this church partnering with a church planter in Canada.  As of Wednesday evening’s Mission Committee meeting I can officially say that it is a joint recommendation that this church partner with a church planter in Vancouver, BC. Whoop, Whoop! Hip, hip, hurray! Praise the Lord! In case you didn’t know, it makes my heart happy that we are at this point because I truly believe it is God’s will for this church.

 

However, this is only a recommendation to the church. The church needs to continue to be in prayer and at an upcoming business meeting will vote yes or no as an act of seeking the lordship of Jesus in this matter. Here are some specifics to our recommendation:

 

The church plant is Zendeh (Living) Church, which is a Farsi-English church that seeks to reach out to the Farsi-speaking population of 50-60 thousand people throughout the Greater Vancouver Region.

The church planter is Amin and his wife Sepideh. They came to faith in Christ in Iran, after which they had to flee to Turkey as refugees. They came to Vancouver in 2006, filled with a passion to reach out to other Farsi speakers with the good news of Jesus Christ. They became church planters with the West Coast Baptist Association and are key leaders in the Zendeh (Living) Church and the Kanoone Zendegi (Life Community Centre).

See http://www.vancouverchurchplanting.com/zendeh-living-church/ for more biographical information.

The commitment is 3-5 years which includes a monthly contribution and the potential of sending mission teams of approximately 6 people up to 4 times a year.

 

This is the bare essential information.  The Vision Team and Mission Committee has much more information to share in the weeks to come. Let me close this article by sharing with you my thoughts about this partnership. First, if this is God’s will, our church will be on the front lines of assisting Iranian Christians to reach Iranian Muslims (and others) with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Second, the longevity of this partnership excites me because in the Book of Acts churches plant churches.  This partnership will be a concentrated ministry to assist Zendeh Church in evangelism, ministry, and to support its church planter and his wife. If this comes to fruition, many of you will be on Canadian soil meeting and serving with Amin and Sepideh. You will get to know them and the members of their church.  They will get to come here and meet us, too. In fact, I cannot wait until this church can meet and hear Amin and Sepideh’s testimony and passion for the ministry of Zendeh Church. Third, this church will be a part of God’s work in evangelizing Canada so that Christianity is no longer in its rear view mirror but impacting the culture and people for the glory of God.

 



Pastor’s Perspective – September 2015

Realizing I sound like Captain Obvious, however, September is here!  At what point did the lazy days of summer become merely a     concept and not a reality?  Our church certainly had a very busy and   productive  summer. The Sunday evening reports of mission trips and camps have been wonderful learning how the Lord worked in the lives of so many people these past few months.

 

Since Labor day marks the unofficial ending of summer, a very special anniversary in my life happens.  For it was in August 2009 that I   officially began as your pastor. The significance of that anniversary was manifested to me on our Back-to-School Commissioning Sunday.  When I invited Kindergarteners to come forward I realized that those children were not even born in 2009.  Wow! 

 

In seminary I was taught, we were taught, that significant and meaningful ministry is not measured by seats in the pew, the                implementation of the latest and greatest ministry program (for those come and go), or even the amount of speaking engagements offered on an annual basis.  Significant and meaningful ministry is measured by a pastor living life with his congregation and its community. In fact, I was taught in seminary that blessed is the pastor who gets to live and experience a long tenure with his congregation—experiencing with them, life, death, highs, lows, first day of school, graduations, marriages and then the birth of the next generation.

 

Tongue firmly planted in cheek, I was also taught in Seminary that pastoring a church is a lot like marriage. If you can make it through year 7, then the likelihood of success increases exponentially. Here we go!

 



Pastor’s Perspective – August 2015

Rick Simmons and I had lunch do not get to have lunch together as often as I would like.  In fact, the last time we had lunch we spent time discussing the view of call weekend for Josh Rinker and the church’s unanimous vote to call him as the next    Youth/FMC Director. Both of us were—and still are—excited about Josh’s call to the church.

 

As like other lunch discussions, however, the conversation turned to the topic of trucks.  Who doesn’t appreciate the newest truck model at the dealerships?  Oddly enough, Rick and I determined that we no longer have an interest in what the big three annually introduce to the market.  Rick’s reason is his to share. Mine, however, is      twofold.  First, I would never, ever, ever buy a vehicle that is valued nearly half (sometimes more than half) of the purchase price of my home. Second, I am no longer impressed by the new models.  What I am impressed with is a well restored truck of the 1980s and early 1990s.  I believe that is a result of age; for those era trucks are the trucks of my teenage years.

 

I am 42 years old and I can honestly say the past the Lord has given me is wonderful.  Its comes with blessings, great memories, wonderful experiences, and close relationships. Mingled in are times of brokenness, doubt, fear, uncertainty, and sadness; however, every good and difficult time has been used of God to grow and refine me into the man I am need to be for His glory.

 

Therefore, what are you doing with your past?  Does it pull you back, propel you to the future, or paralyze you in the present? God’s plan is that your past prepares you for the present so that you can glorify Him each day.

 

Adults, why not lead your kid(s) by example and live a life lived well lived to the glory of God!  Show them what God can do with one’s past and present.  Inspire them to serve the Saviour.  Help them to see that the past is not what destroys a person.  The past is what makes a person; provided one’s past has be restored by the wonderful redemptive hands of God.

 



A Word from Josh

Kayla and I recently celebrated our 12th anniversary. We had the opportunity to spend a short weekend in Branson kid-free. My mom and dad were brave enough to watch our four boys for the two days we were gone. On the second day we were there, we ventured down to Silver Dollar City. If you haven’t been there in a while, they have made some great improvements, most noticeably with their roller coasters. I love roller coasters, but I had not been on one in almost 8 years. We decided to start with one of the big roller coasters first. As we waited in line, the excitement started building and I couldn’t wait to get on the ride. We made it to the front and buckled in … then we started the slow journey up the first hill. As we headed up, a knot formed in my stomach. I started to get really nervous and then thought to myself, “Why am I doing this?” Once we made it to the top, I couldn’t believe how crazy I was to think this would be fun. Then …the drop. I didn’t scream; but only because I was too busy holding my breath. The coaster zoomed down the track through sharp turns and     upside down loops. What started out a little nerve racking, turned out to be a great and exciting ride.

 

Our weekend visit to FBC Desloge was a lot like this experience. We traveled about four hours from Miller, MO and I was excited the entire time. We checked in at the hotel, rested for a little while, and then headed to the church to meet the deacons and their families. As we were driving from our hotel in Farmington to the church, my stomach started to knot up and I felt nervous. I thought, “What are these people going to be like? Will they like us?” Then, just like the roller coaster … we walked in to meet everyone and the whirlwind weekend officially started. Only it was better than the roller coaster. The next morning began with a tour of the Parkland area,    followed by a delicious BBQ lunch and a meet and greet with a great group of youth and their parents. Later that day I attended committee meetings, another church     dinner and a Q&A time. Then the next morning Pastor Bradford was brave enough to let me preach the Sunday message. The vote immediately followed and what a    blessing is was to be accepted by the whole church family. The entire weekend was incredible. I enjoyed the great conversations, the interaction between FBC Desloge and my family, and especially the food. I am so thrilled that God has led me to be a part of this loving church family. What started out a little nerve racking, turned out to be a great and exciting ride.

 

Josh Rinker

Youth/FMC Director

 



Your Pastor’s Perspective – June 2015

Have you looked at your summer schedule yet?  I did a few weeks ago and kinda wish I hadn’t!  Wowzers…what was I thinking when I committed to so many things?  I know what I was thinking. God is doing a lot though this church and I want to be a part of as much of it as I possibly can. As I think about the events of this summer I also stand in awe.  Not in awe of the stuff.  I stand in awe that this church is in a watershed* moment of time. 

 

Here is what I mean by watershed. Picture the totality of a winter’s snowfall on the Rocky Mountains.  In the springtime snow on the lower peaks begin to melt.  Depending upon which side of the mountain the snow is on determines where the melt will flow.  For certain, the water shedding off of one side of the Rockies will never mingle with the water shedding off of the other side.  In fact, the water will flow further part in two different locations.

 

How is all of this imagery relevant to our church’s summer?   This summer our church will be making two decisions that will determine if we are flowing into God’s will or flowing away from God’s will. First, in a few weeks we will be determining if Josh Rinker will be our new Youth/FMC Director.  Josh has the God given potential and desire to serve our youth very well and potentially take our FMC to the next level.  In fact, when he and I spoke, it was evident that he has a huge heart for FMC Ministry and developing a roadway for our FMC patrons to become FBC members.

 

Second, in July the Canadian Vision Tour Delegation will be in Vancouver, British Columbia learning about church planting there.  This delegation, the missions committee and Pastor Bret and I will be poised to report and recommend to the church if and/or where God wants FBCD to partner with church planting on Canadian soil.  This commitment to church planting is so much more than planning future mission trips.  It is about establishing, developing, and nurturing a relationship with a church plant in Canada for years to come. It will mean we will be sending people and resources to the church plant.  It will also mean people from the Canadian church plant will come here and be a part of what we are doing in the Parkland.

 

Two exciting decisions with two significant results.  I pray our decisions will reflect this church flowing into the will of God.  For flowing away from God will would be heart-breaking. Have you been praying? Have you been seeking?  Have you been hoping?  Are you ready?   

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Illustration comes from a book written by Francis Schaeffer

 



Your Pastor’s Perspecitve – May 2015

May is upon us and the reality that 2015 is nearly half over absolutely boggles my mind.  Last week my son began the daily report of how many days of school are left until summer vacation. It’s not that he dislikes school. He just likes summer better!

 

As I think about summer, I do so with an eye on the church calendar.  Folks, things are not slowing down at FBC Desloge. There are so many ministry, missions, camps, and fellowship opportunities this summer.  Many of these are provided for our members to invite family and friends to attend in order to give them  exposure to what the Lord is doing through this church.  All of these events are meant for our members to both serve and participate in various means.

 

Certainly, I want all of us to enjoy our summer vacation times with family and friends.  However, we would be remiss if summer was used as a means to “checkout” of church for 112 days of summer vacation.

 

Now let’s turn our attention to a glorious event in May: Graduation!  Students in High School, College, and beyond will be receiving diplomas and degrees as a mark of the mastery of the course content of that particular level of education. It is an exciting time of year for        graduates and a bitter sweet time for parents. In reality, Becky and I are only three years away from Cherith’s High School graduation. When I think about that I am reminded of years spent watching her (and all of our kids) grow. However, I also know that as a parent my job before God is not to position my children to accomplish my will for them, but to accomplish God’s will. 

 

Here is what I hope to prevent. When I was a student chaplain in college, my heart broke for students who were in majors they had no passion for. They were in those majors because mom and dad told them to do it.  That is miserable.  For those blessed few that God was able to put in majors that He had gifted and prepared them for, they absolutely blossomed, became    better students, and had a greater zeal for the Lord.

 

So parents, if your young adult child is at a point in his/her life that a decision needs to be made about the future, robustly advise him/her.  Might I caution to only give advice so that your child ultimately responds to God.  I say this because Becky and I have seen firsthand     parents telling their children what career to pursue or what major in college to earn.  As a parent I understand that natural tendency.  However, our job is not to direct our young adult children’s lives.  Our job is to point our young adult children to the Lord and help them to discern God’s will for her/him.

 



Your Pastor’s Perspective – April 2015

Many of you have informed me of your interest in Canadian mission work I’ve been writing about for a few months.  This has made the Missions Committee and me excited about the church’s excitement over Canadian mission work. 

 

Let me share with you what we know about our future participation in  ministry on Canadian soil.  A delegation of staff, Missions Committee members and a deacon will travel to Toronto in May  and Vancouver in July to attend a North American Mission Board Vision Tour for those areas.  It is during that time the delegation will get a chance to be on the field chatting with the NAMB coordinator and the church planters in that specific area. This will help us to determine which city is God’s call for our church to assist in evangelism and church planting. 
 
The delegation from our church will first and foremost seek God’s direction.  However, they will also look at aspects of Toronto and Vancouver’s church planting need in way of resources,  teaching teams, preaching teams, construction teams, outreach teams etc.

 

After the July Vision Tour, the delegation will report back to the Missions Committee and ultimately to the church.  It is then that a prayerful decision will be made as to where we will begin focusing energy on church planting on Canadian soil.  This will allow us to use the Fall season to fully educate ourselves about the souls that live in that targeted area including, but not limited to, their culture, history, and other demographic variables. For the best way to reach the lost is to know the lost.

 

The Exciting Part

 

You may think that  everything written before and above excites me.   Not necessarily.  I cannot wait to do ministry on Canadian soil.  What excites me, however, is that this potential endeavor mirrors that of the Book of Acts.  Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Luke and others went on three recorded missions trips to preach the Gospel to the lost and to plant local churches.  That is absolutely vital to the work of the Great Commission as manifested in the Book of Acts.  Where souls were saved, churches were planted and nurtured for years. 

 

What excites me is The First Baptist Church of Desloge gets to take part in planting a church on Canadian soil. A church that we will have a prolonged relationship with and a personal and financial investment with, too. I am excited that we will get to rejoice and cry with the church plant as God works and wills and souls are saved and added to that church.  How awesome is that?!  Our Kingdom Footprint—reaching the Parkland, reaching Canada, and   reaching the world through the agency of our Cooperative Program dollars and people boarding plans, cars, campers, or whatever taking the Gospel with them as the go—increases as God    bestows His favor upon us as we willingly be Ambassadors for Christ.   

 



Pastor’s Perspective – March 2015

Hold on to your hats!  Not because of coming Springtime winds and storms, but because of the beginning of a very, very busy time of year.

 

In just a few weeks our Upward Basketball and Cheerleading season will be over. So far this has been an absolutely fantastic season. Crowds, teams, games, halftime devotion/worship; all of it has been a pleasure to watch.  Like last year, however, we want to do our best to invite to our church those in Upward who do not have a church home. Therefore, on Sunday morning, March 15 we will have “Pancakes and Handshakes” prior to Sunday School.  This will give us an opportunity to invite Upward folks to our church for a meal and to experience fellowship, discipleship, and corporate worship with us.

 

Your participation with “Pancakes and Handshakes” is vital for a couple of reasons.  First, your attendance will build excitement in the fellowship hall and in your Sunday School class.  Second, when you come to “Pancakes and Handshakes” make it a point to sit with our visitors.  Make them feel welcome.  You can sit with your friends at other times, but during this particular Sunday make sure our visitors feel loved and comfortable by your conversation and by helping them to navigate our building. By the way, please, please, make sure you submit an RSVP to “Pancakes and Handshakes.”  Butch Hammack’s Sunday School class is hosting this event.  Your RSVP will ensure plenty of food is prepared. See the bulletin and flyers in the foyers for RSVP slips.

 

Many of you may not know that this year’s Upward Award Ceremony speaker is John Park.  He was used of God last year during our Spring Revival.  I know he will be used of God again as a great way to close a great Upward season.  As of writing this article, the Upward Commissioners and church staff are working on a plan to do two award ceremonies based upon age divisions of the teams.  If you have seen the crowds on any given Sunday, you will realize the only way to accommodate a safe and comfortable awards ceremony is by having two ceremonies. Look to the newsletter and/or upcoming bulletins for more details.

 

Finally, March will end with another event that is meant to help connect our Upward patrons to the church.  On Palm Sunday evening the church will host Pastor DJ Edwards who will perform an evangelistic magic show.  This will be a great evening for the family to attend AND for you to invite your neighbors and friends.  DJ is certainly a gifted minister and magician. I know he will wow us.  I also know he will take us to Jesus and present the beautiful gift of salvation he earned on our behalf on the cross.

 



Your Pastor’s Perspective – February 2015

          Missions.  What comes to your mind when you read or hear that word?  Personally, I understand that word as a daily lifestyle.  Christians and local churches need to be on mission daily.    Anything less warrants disobedience and thereby sin.

With that said, Christians and local   churches are often led to participate in mission  projects that are scheduled at various times for  various places. For example, in addition to the daily missions of this church through the Family Ministry Center and many other things that happen on a daily basis, there are also seasonal missions like Upward Sports and targeted mission trips which are local, within the State, within the country, and international.

Therefore, I would not say this church is mission-minded.  It is mission-driven.  The reason I can boldly say that is because I have been on staff of churches that have not been overly concerned with missions outside of their Cooperative Program contributions—which is very important!  The fabric of multi-diversified missionary work fits well upon the body of believers gathered at this church. Are we perfect in execution, implementation, and volunteer force?  No.  But I do not know of any church that is.

Let’s take a moment and think about our approach to missions outside the borders of our country. In recent years this church has partnered in Romania. It has also sent various members to West-Africa, Haiti and then Peru. These last three trips have been a tremendous blessing supporting establish work by other churches.  Isn’t now the time that our church begins to seriously pray and consider partnering with the mission boards of our Southern Baptist Convention and become a united force reaching a specific geographical location with the Gospel?

I think now is that time!  Whereas we have served in the mission field outside the boundaries of our country in the south and the east, perhaps we need to look north into Canada.  That’s right.  According to the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of our convention, Canada is a greatly  unreached country.  The catholic church has sold off most of its property which is now being used for museums and malls or it’s sitting vacant.  According to the NAMB coordinator in Quebec, Canadians do not even trust the work of the Roman Catholic church.  That is why now is a strategic time to plant evangelical churches in Canada.

          The prospect of Canadian work is really full circle for me.  My heart was warmed to Canadian work while I pastored in Kentucky.  It was during the Annie Armstrong Easter offering week of prayer the church began to pray for seven Canadian missionaries. As I prayed and learned more about their work in Canada, my spirit was compelled with the possibility of assisting with their work.  The church I was at did not share that vision with me.

Last Spring NAMB invited Becky and I to come to a conference in Nashville as they revealed their strategy to reach North America with the  Gospel. Becky and I ended up sitting at the Canadian themed table, thereby rewarming my  desire for a better  Gospel presence in Canada. A few Sunday evenings ago, I had a very impromptu discussion in the sanctuary about our church’s strategy reaching the unchurched in 2015-16.  Many wonderful thoughts were expressed.  One, however, caught my attention and captured my heart.  It was asked that night about looking at Canada as a missions destination. My heart was very excited about that conversation.

Again, all our international mission trips have been GREAT! I think each one of us would say, if possible, to do all of them over again.   However,  is the foreign missionary this church exerts only in the role of seasonal support to other churches’ foreign missionary work? Are we to take a stand, get our hearts wrapped around a region of the world that has a minimalistic Gospel presence, and become the lead church to reach that area with the message of God’s grace? My heart says yes!

Therefore, I have passed along to the Missions Committee, via Mike Edger (chairperson), information given to me by the four NAMB Canadian coordinators so that we can begin to learn, pray and understand what kind of role  our church can have in advancing the Gospel in Canada.  I will say, as a church, we are well suited for Canadian work.  For they need workers to preach, teach, serve, construct, help, pray, assist, and-on-and-on-and-on.  Join with me and turn your prayers North and see if your hearts are also warmed by the potential of working the Canadian fields white for harvest.

 



Your Pastor’s Perspective – December 2014

“In the early 1990’s I committed my entire life to Jesus following Him on a daily mission trip called the Gospel Ministry.  About mid-December 2014, however, I was reminded of something this church says over-and-over again—namely, you do not have to go on a mission trip to share the Gospel with the lost. In mid-December I received a call to share the Gospel with a Park Hills man living on hospice.  Without going into all of the details, I presented the Gospel and eventually the man made a confession of faith.  Praise the Lord!

As I pen this article it is the third week of Advent and I am already thinking about all of the evangelistic opportunities this church will have in 2015.  At the forefront are 260+ athletes that will be pounding the gym floor playing basketball, cheerleading and hearing about Jesus.  Then there are summer mission trips and volunteers going to various camps.  Those last two require a faith commitment of time and money to go serve Jesus away from home.  This church will gladly support, pray and send all of our members who are led to go.  However, again, you do not have to go on a mission trip to share the Gospel.  You can—MUST—do it where you live.

That is why new in 2015 this church is going to commit to be in every parade the Parkland and to evangelistically tail-gate at NC and Central’s Homecoming football games. I asked for funding in the 2015 budget to do this. It is approved.  Now all I need are people who desire to help with this outreach so that our church can become more visible with the Gospel in our surrounding communities.   If you are not led to go on a mission trip or help at the various camps this year, would you consider opening your heart to the idea of representing the Lord and this church by serving in 2015’s community outreach ministry? The church needs creative and crafty people to make relevant parade floats,  pass out literature, throw candy, cook tail-gating food and love on those celebrating small-town life with us.  Pray about it and let me know.