A “Thank You” from our missionaries, the Catalan Family

We recently were able to help our missionaries, John Mark and Kristin Catalan, welcome their newborn baby, Jasmine Faith, into the world by hosting a baby shower in her honor at South Charlotte Baptist Church.

The ladies of South Charlotte Baptist Church did a wonderful job hosting the baby shower.

Click the image below to read “Thank You” that was written by the Catalan Family to the SCBC family!

A “7 Star Teen” Is…

Saved

“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee…” 2 Timothy 1:5

Knowing that our life here on this is temporary (James 4:14), first and foremost our desire is that each teenager has a 100% assurance that they have put their faith in trust in Jesus Christ and in Him alone for their eternal salvation.

Soul-Conscious

“Therefore said he [Jesus] unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2

Just as Jesus Christ came to this earth to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) we strive to encourage teenagers to see people the way that Christ did – as individuals who are lost and in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ and that with that thought in mind that they would take seriously the command of Jesus to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

Seeking God

In today’s society, people are seeking after so many different “things” – money, possessions, fame, and friends – all in an effort to find fulfillment and satisfaction.

May King David’s cry be that of our teenagers,

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;” (Psalm 63:1)

Serving

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

Jesus came to serve others.  We should follow His example.  Unfortunately we live in a world of “Me first!”  It is not natural to serve others.  Therefore, we teach our teenagers to serve others.  The words of an old gospel song are very true, “Jesus, Others, and You – what a wonderful way to spell JOY!

Surrendered

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  (Romans 12:1, 2)

Jim Elliot, missionary martyr to the Auca Indians in South America, said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  A Christian cannot be truly used of God until they have first surrendered themselves to God.  Through the preaching of God’s Word, we would desire that each teenager come to the place in their life where they could honestly say from their heart, “Not my will but Thine be done!”

Separated

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,”  (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

A ship is fine if it is in the water.  However, when the water gets in the ship, there’s a definite problem.  Although it is difficult it is also very necessary to teach Christian teenagers to be separated from the world and unto God.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”  (1 John 2:15-16)

Studying God’s Word

The Bible is our final authority for both faith and practice.  As such, God’s Word should make up the major portion of a Christian’s spiritual diet.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  (2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:15-17)

South Charlotte Baptist Church & Academy desires to come along side of parents and help them to see their teenagers develop into “7 Star Teens!”

A Pioneering Spirit for God

 

 

 

 

 

Go West, young man,” are words that were coined by John Soule, an Indiana journalist, in 1851. However, most people falsely credit Horace Greely, an American author and newspaper editor. Mr. Greely did, though, in 1841 in the New York Tribune write, “Do not lounge in the cities! There is room and health in the country, away from the crowds of idlers and imbeciles, Go west, before you are fitted for no life but that of the factory.” Indeed, following the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, hundreds of thousands of individuals headed west in search of gold!

History is filled with individuals who are remembered as pioneers. Individuals who had a pioneering spirit. A pioneering spirit is defined as “a willingness to endure hardship in order to explore new places or try out new things.

Our country was discovered and settled by individuals who were pioneers – individuals who left their own country and came to live in a place that had never been lived in before.

The Bible is also filled with individuals – men and women – who were pioneers. This morning we have read about one such pioneer – a man by the name of Abram. Abram was called by God to leave the land of his birth and to go to a place that he had never been before so that God might use him to be a blessing to “all families of the earth.” (Genesis 13:1-9)

Now, as we look at Genesis chapter 13, we can see the formation of a pioneer – a pioneer for God! These “ingredients” are necessary if we are to be a pioneer for God!

Abram was blessed and was used to be a blessing to “all families of the earth.”“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

Simply put, it would be through Abram and his family that God would bring forth the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

“THE book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Matthew 1:1

 

Abram was blessed in that he was used by God to be a blessing to others. Again, it was through Abram that the Savior of the world was born into this world.

However, did God need Abram? No. God could have chosen another means by which to bring Christ into the world. But God chose to use Abram; God desired to use Abram.

If you have received Christ as your Savior than God desires to use you to be a blessing to others by being the channel through which others learn of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Does God need you and me? No. But God desires to use us! In fact, I believe that God has a greater desire to use us than our desire to be used by God!

 

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:13-15

So what was it that allowed Abram to be blessed and to be a blessing to others? What ingredients did he possess that led him to be a pioneer for the Gospel?

Abraham had to listen. (Gen. 12:1, 4)

 

When God spoke, Abram listened.

Christians, are you listening? Are you eagerly listening to the voice of God?

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15

Christians, God is speaking; He is speaking through His Word. Are you listening?

Unfortunately, we are too often like the Israelites of old when God, through His prophets, said…

“But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.” Jeremiah 17:23

If we desire to be a pioneer, we must listen to the voice of God; to the Word of God!

Abram had to follow. (Gen. 12:1)

If we are going to be a pioneer, we must follow God – anywhere!

Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus! Anywhere, everywhere, I would follow on!

Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus! Everywhere He leads me I would follow on!

Unfortunately, we too often are only willing to follow God if we can determine where! Are we willing to follow God regardless of where He leads are the path that He chooses to lead us in?

Abram had to be obedient. (Gen. 12:4)

This goes hand in hand with the previous point. If you are going to follow God you’re going to have to be obedient. If you are obedient than you are going to follow God. Unfortunately, it could be, that some have no intention of following God because you have no intention of obeying God.

Understand this – The blessings of God can only be found through obedience to God.

We must also keep in mind that there are others who are depending upon us to be obedient to God! (Example: Jonah and the city of Nineveh)

Abram had to be yielded. (Gen. 12:3)

Have you ever opened a container of play-dough only to find that it is as hard as a rock? If play-dough has hardened what is it good for? Nothing. The only thing to do with it is to through it away.

God said to Abram, “I will make of thee…” Abram had to be yielded to God for that to happen.

To be a pioneer for God, you must remain yielded to His working in your life.

Abram had to be dependent.

He was completely dependent upon God.

  • “I will shew you…” He was dependent upon God to show him the way.
  • “I will make you a great nation…” He was dependent upon God’s work in him and through him to make of him a great nation.
  • “I will bless you…” He was dependent upon God for His blessings.
  • “I will make your name great…” He was dependent upon God for God to exalt him and make his name great.
  • “I will make you a blessing…” He was dependent upon God to use him to be a blessing to others.

As Abram set off in obedience to God’s command, he was completely dependent upon God for everything.

To be a pioneer for God we must come to the place of complete dependence upon God for everything.

NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was founded on October 1, 1958. NASA, and everyone who has been associated with the organization, has always been a pioneer. Although President Dwight Eisenhower established NASA, it was President John Kennedy who focused NASA on sending an astronaut to the moon by the end of the 1960’s. In that endeavor, on March 3, 1959, The Pioneer mission, as it was called, achieved something that the United States had never done before. The Pioneer 4 probe became the first American spacecraft to escape Earth’s gravity! Then, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on the surface of the moon! NASA’s vision was and is to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.

Our vision should be to reach new heights for the glory of God and to reveal to a blind and dying world the benefits that can only be found in Jesus Christ! Do you have what it takes to be a pioneer for your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

Message preached on Sunday morning, August 20, 2017. Click here to listen to audio of message.

Master Clubs is Almost Here!

Master Clubs @ SCBC Begins on Wednesday, September 6!

Children from Preschool to 6th grade are invited to join us each Wednesday evening during the school year for this exciting program.

The purpose of Master Clubs is to evangelize, disciple, teach, train, and provide opportunities for children to serve God now! Click here if you would like to learn more and then plan to join us on September 6 for Master Clubs!

The Missing Piece in Education

It is impossible to put together the puzzle of education if 1) you are missing a piece or if 2) you have a wrong piece. I would like you to keep that in mind as I begin the message this morning. I believe that, as I go, you will begin to understand what that missing piece is and what that wrong piece is that is often substituted in its place.

The two most important, political documents in the founding of the United States of America are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. 56 individuals signed their name to the Declaration of Independence and 40 signed their name to the Constitution of the United States. Many of those individuals were products of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. All three of those colleges were founded to train preachers.

In 1646, Harvard adopted “Rules and Precepts” for its students to abide by:

Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him (Prov. 2:3).

In 1650, Robert Ludlow, drafted the “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut”, considered to be the first constitution in America. In that document, we find the first public education laws:

It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the scriptures, as in former times…It is therefore ordered by this court and authority thereof that every township within this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty households, shall then forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children, as shall resort to him, to write and read…

Children were to be taught to read and write so that they could understand the laws of the land and were to be taught the “grounds and principles of religion” so that they could understand God’s Word.

Benjamin Rush, a physician, a proponent “public education,” and a signer of the Declaration of Independence was educated at Harvard. In 1798, in addressing the “mode of education proper in a republic,” he wrote…

I proceed in the next place, to enquire, what mode of education we shall adopt so as to secure to the state all the advantages that are to be derived from the proper instruction of youth; and here I beg leave to remark, that the only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.

…the religion I mean to recommend…is that of the New Testament.

[Religion, liberty, and learning] mutually assist in correcting the abuses, and in improving the good effects of each other. From the combined and reciprocal influence of religion, liberty and learning upon the morals, manners and knowledge of individuals, of these, upon government, and of government, upon individuals, it is impossible to measure the degrees of happiness and perfection to which mankind may be raised.

Horace Mann was an American politician and education reformer, best known for promoting universal public education. Although he was trained as a lawyer, he eventually became the secretary of the board education in the state of Massachusetts in 1837. In 1849, in writing about the Massachusetts system of “Common Schools” shared some history about the educational system in that state. Children in that state were to be taught and nurtured.

If, as is supposed, this word [nurturing], now obsolete in this connection, implied the disposition and the power, on the part of the teacher, as far as such an object can be accomplished by human instrumentality, to warm into birth, to foster into strength, and to advance into precedence and predominance, all kindly sympathies towards men, all elevated thoughts respecting the duties and the destiny of life, and a supreme reverence for the character and attributes of the Creator, then how many teachers have since been employed, who have not nourished the children committed to their care.

So, even by 1849, something – several things – had gone missing from public education one of which he stated as, “…a supreme reverence for the character and attributes of the Creator…”

The Missing Piece in Education – the knowledge of Jesus Christ

Notice how Peter begins his letter in 2 Peter 1:2…

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,”

Grace and peace are found through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ. If we want our children to find peace, we must not leave Jesus Christ out of the education of our children. Some may say, “We understand that. That’s why we bring our children to church and involve them in the activities of the church. But, they still need to receive an education so that they can make a living!

Notice what Peter gives as the key to “life and godliness” in 2 Peter 1:3…

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”

God has given us ALL THINGS that pertain unto life and godliness. Everything that we need as it relates to “life and godliness” can be found through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Regardless of your choice in educating your children, you must never neglect the foundational component of education – the knowledge of God. And, you must keep that in the forefront!

“Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic text book in all fields. God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.” – Noah Webster

Still, I understand that parents are concerned in making sure their children get a good education so that they will be able to learn a skill and pursue a career path. The Bible does not really speak to education in the sense of learning a skill and pursuing a career. There are, however, many careers that we see mentioned in the Bible – not just “full-time ministry” careers. Just in the book of Genesis, we are introduced to careers in agriculture, husbandry, the arts (music), manufacturing, and engineering. Throughout the rest of Scripture we are introduced to other careers such as medicine, business, culinary, and the list could go on. I believe that God is more concerned about your child’s career path than even you are. But I must remind you…

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in Him then teach your children to trust in Him. Acknowledge Him in every area of your life and then teach your children to acknowledge Him in every area of their life! God then promises that He will direct your paths and He will direct your child’s paths!

Parents, may I ask you a question? Do you know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – what occupation your child is going to pursue? No. Does God? Yes! I firmly believe that God desires to direct the paths of each young person and that includes their future career path! I firmly believe that God will direct the paths of each young person if we will allow Him – and that includes their future career path!

Unfortunately, in today’s society, more trust is usually placed in a diploma or an “institution of higher learning!” Parents, don’t make that mistake. Parents, don’t divorce the education of your children from the knowledge of Jesus Christ! Don’t separate the religious from the public!

Do you trust God with your child’s education? Do you trust God with your child’s future? I say that because I have heard Christian parents, whose children are deciding upon a college to attend, say, “I really don’t want my child to go that far away from home to go to college.

Do you know Jesus Christ? Do you have the “knowledge of Jesus Christ?” Have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior? Are you growing in your knowledge of Jesus Christ? Peter ends his letter in 2 Peter 3:18…

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

Growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ is a life-long pursuit. We should never stop growing.

Do your children know Jesus Christ? Have they accepted Christ as their Savior? Are they growing in their knowledge of Jesus Christ – even in their formal education? Is there something missing in your child’s education? Are you fully trusting God to direct the path of your children?

Watch Out For the Fool

It would be well for us to be reminded of the four, main types of individuals that are found within the pages of the book of Proverbs:

The Simple

We are all cursed with at least a little bit of simplicity, particularly young people.

“And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,” Proverbs 7:7

Being simple is not necessarily good or bad. A simple person, because they lack understanding, is easily influenced. Calling oneself simple is more a recognition of a fact. Once you recognize that you are simple, you can then make a conscious choice to allow yourself to be influenced in the right direction – toward wisdom.

 

The Wise

This individual accumulates (knowledge), assimilates (understanding), and applies (wisdom) Biblical principles in their lives.

The Fool

This individual is the opposite of the wise. They do not seek to accumulate, assimilate or apply Biblical principles. They simply want to “follow their heart,” which is just another way of saying that they live by their feelings.

“A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” Proverbs 18:2

The Scorner

The scorner takes foolishness to a whole other level. Whereas a fool says in his heart that there is no God; the scorner seeks to knowingly set himself up as god. Why? Because of pride.

 

“Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.” Proverbs 21:24

“A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” Proverbs 13:1

Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, under the inspiration of God, seeking to warn his simple son of the dangers of foolishness and to challenge his son with the blessings of wisdom. God seeks to use the book of Proverbs in our lives for the very same reasons! Let’s turn our attention to Proverbs chapter 26. As you continue to read, refer back to Proverbs chapter 26.

The Folly of Fools

  • Honor is inappropriate for fools. (26:1) Because of this, it is incumbent of parents to lead their children to wisdom! Foolish young people grow up to be foolish adults who, instead of honor, find only dishonor.
  • Fools talk a lot. (26:2) They are “full of hot air.” They talk a lot without saying anything of value or importance. This is one way in which you can discern an individual who is a fool.
  • A fool requires civil government because they have no self-government. (26:3)
  • Don’t come down to the level of a fool. (26:4) Sometimes it is best to simply not respond to foolishness at all and simply ignore it.
  • Respond to a fool with God’s Word. (26:5) However, there are sometimes when foolishness needs to be corrected. Use God’s Word at those times when a fool must be corrected.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:16

  • Don’t place your confidence in fools. (26:6-9) I have been told, “Hire for character; then for competence.” An employee who has high character is of more value than one who has high competence but little character. Do you want your children to get a good job some day? Do you want them to do well in whatever vocation God calls them to? Do you want them to be held in high regard by their future employers? Then focus on their character development.
  • A fool’s confidence is misplaced. (26:10) Psalm 14:1 tells us, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” A fool places confidence in themselves and their own abilities. And yet, that does not take away from the truth…

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10-11

  • A fool is addicted to his foolishness. (26:11) Foolishness is just as addictive as drugs or alcohol. This is why it so important to seek to bring a child to Christ at the earliest of ages! However, lest we think that there is not hope for a fool, let us remember Romans 6:1-2

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

“God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

  • There is something more dangerous than being a fool! (26:12) While pride and foolishness go hand in hand, it can be taken a step further. I believe that the question, “Seest thou a man in his own conceit?” is a reference to a scorner. I believe that Proverbs 26:12 is really a warning: “Don’t continue on in your foolishness! It will lead in only one direction and that won’t be the right direction! Even if you are a fool, there is still hope!

The Manifestation of Foolishness

There are other types of individuals who are mentioned in the book of Proverbs. These types of individuals are simply manifestations of foolishness that we can use to identify foolishness in ourselves, first of all, but then in others. Why? So that we might help them!

 

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

The Slothful (26:13-16)

  • A lazy person is full of excuses for why they won’t work.
  • A lazy person is addicted to sleep.
  • A lazy person will lack even life’s basic necessities because of their unwillingness to work.

Notice what it says of a lazy person in vs. 16. No compare that to vs. 12. A lazy person is pushing the limits of foolishness and beginning to cross the line to becoming a scorner.

Application? Be a hard worker and teach your children to be hard workers!

The Talebearer (26:17-28)

It’s interesting to note that Solomon, in this chapter, gives more attention to a talebearer than he does to the slothful as if to say that the talebearer is more dangerous than the slothful. The slothful is a danger to himself. The talebearer is more of a danger to those around him!

  • A talebearer is stupid. (26:17) That’s really the only way that you can describe someone who would walk up to a dog and take it by the ears.
  • A talebearer is reckless. (26:18-19) Most of us were warned by our mothers, when we were children, “Don’t play with matches.” However, talebearers didn’t learn that lesson. They do not care what kind of fires that they start. They simply enjoy starting fires. Then, after the damage is done, they stand back and say, “I was only joking. I really didn’t mean it,” etc. By that time, the damage has been done.
  • A talebearer is not pleasant company. (26:20) I would rather have a small church that was made up of people who truly loved God and loved one another than have a large church that was infected with even just one gossip!
  • A talebearer has a heart problem. (26:21) This goes without saying.
  • A talebearer is dangerous. (26:22) The wounds inflicted by a talebearer are some of the most painful wounds known to mankind.
  • Talebearers are smooth talkers. (26:23-26a) Take everything that they say with a “grain of salt.” Don’t believe everything that you hear. Take to heart the admonition of James, “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
  • Talebearers will eventually be found out for what they truly are and will have a taste of their own medicine. (26:26b-27) What will eventually happen is that they will drive away their friends until all they are left with are other talebearers. They will eventually turn on one another and begin to destroy one another like a pack of wild, hungry wolves.
  • A talebearer doesn’t truly love others. (26:28) Instead, their hearts are filled with hatred.

We have choice. We can allow God’s Word to work in us and through us to make us a wise individual or we can allow ourselves to drift towards foolishness. As parents, we must do our due diligence to develop the character of our children by leading them to Christ and then warning them of the dangers of slothfulness and talebearing. Above all, we must pray one for another that we will walk in the path of Biblical wisdom.

But His Hand Is Stretched Out Still

In Isaiah chapter 9 we find the phrase, “But His hand is stretched out still.” In the midst of pronouncing judgement upon the nations of Judah and Israel God continued to extend His mercy and grace.

But His Hand Is Stretched Out Still…To Save

I recall an incident as a child when I had jumped into the deep end of a swimming pool – even though I didn’t know how to swim! I was so thankful for the hand of a life guard which reached down and pulled me out of the pool to safety!

The hands of Jesus Christ were stretched out upon a cruel cross upon which He was crucified so that He might offer eternal salvation to all who would believe in Him.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:16-17

But His Hand Is Stretched Out Still…To Comfort

We all can probably remember the comforting hand of our mother or grandmother when, as a child, we would fall and scrape our knee on the pavement. In those times we simply wanted the touch of someone who would sympathize with us and say, “Let me kiss it and make it all better!” You know what? That gentle touch usually did the trick! Somehow it made us feel better!

We can get pretty “banged up” in this wicked world. Jesus Christ offers that comforting touch if we will simply come to Him in humility and simple faith!

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

But His Hand Is Stretched Out Still…To Help

When I was a teenager I was stubborn (as were most of us). I recall one specific instance when, needing to repair my car, I refused the help of my father. (He ended up fixing the car for me when I gave up in utter frustration!) Now, as an adult, there have been those times when I have picked up my phone and called my father and asked, “Dad, I need some help.” At those times my father has always been willing to help – even willing to drive hundreds of miles to give me the help that I needed!

How foolish of us to stubbornly struggle through our day when Jesus Christ has His hand stretched out ready and willing to help us!

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

What do you need today? Salvation? Comfort? Help? Remember, “…His hand is stretched out still!”

Protect Your Church

I trust that this comes at no surprise but, Satan does not like the local church.

He hates your local church – the church that your family attends; the church where you find love and acceptance; the church where you find spiritual nourishment. In fact, Satan would love nothing more than to see your local church destroyed!

Paul, when he last met with the leaders of the local church in Ephesus, issued this warning:

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:28-30

We must all take the responsibility to protect our local church. Allow me to share with you three things that we must all do in order to protect our local churches from being destroyed by the work of Satan.

Take personal responsibility to be right and stay right.

Paul told the the Ephesian elders to, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves….”

In 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul told Timothy…

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Each individual must pay close attention to their own spiritual health and well-being. Our spiritual health and well-being is directly related to what we do with God’s Word.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3

We must spend time allowing God to speak to us through His Word and we must spend time speaking with God through prayer. We must daily “walk with God.”

Take responsibility to help those who are weak.

Paul said that “grievous wolves” would enter into the church in Ephesus “not sparing the flock.”

When a pack of wolves attacks a herd of animals, they will focus in on those animals who are sick or weak; the younger animals; the animals that have strayed or been separated from the rest of the herd.

Paul told the church in Galatia…

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

There are those within our local churches who – without being unkind – are young in the Lord; those who are spiritually weak; those who have become separated from the church body for one reason or another. Those are the individuals whom we need to encourage and build up in the Lord.

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

We need to pray for the other members in our church family. We never know when someone may being going through a difficult time. We need to encourage them. As God lays the name of an individual upon your heart, send them a postcard. If you don’t know what to write on the postcard simply share a Bible verse that God could use to encourage them. If you see someone who has “dropped out” of church, send them a text message to let them know they were missed. Invite a church member, who isn’t in the habit of attending Sunday school, to join you for Sunday school.

Turn a deaf ear to gossip and criticism.

Paul warns the Ephesian elders,

Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:30

One thing that probably brings more damage to the cause of Christ and is the ruin of many good churches is gossip and criticism.

These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19

Satan loves it when the members of a local church begin to participate in gossip or begin to give ear to gossip and criticism. Why? Because he doesn’t have to lift a finger. He simply sits back and allows the individuals of that local church to do his work. He then just relishes in seeing another church destroyed.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Proverbs 4:23-24

One of the ways in which you can protect yourself and protect your church is by not giving heed to gossip and criticism.

When someone comes to you and begins the conversation with, “Did you hear?” or “Did you know?” it is likely that what is to follow is nothing more than gossip and criticism. What should your response be? Simply say, “If I’m not part of the problem; if I’m not part of the solution, I do not want to hear about it!” Then direct the individual to the appropriate party so that the situation can be resolved properly. If the individual has a heart’s desire to resolve the situation properly than they will have no problem going to and speaking with the appropriate individual.

We must all take the responsibility to protect our local church! The local church has a mission of eternal importance – the Great Commission. We must maintain our focus and not allow ourselves to pulled away from the real battle – the battle for souls!

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:4

May God help you and use you to protect your local church!

We Need More Noah’s

Thank you for allowing me, as your pastor, to attend the Spiritual Leadership Conference being held at Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, CA.

In the morning service, Dr. David Gibbs preached a wonderful, “spot on” message from Acts 4:33 entitled, “Great Grace.”

“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.”

In the evening service, Pastor R.B. Oulette preached a tremendous message from Hebrews 11:7 entitled, “We Need More Noah’s

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, wmoved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

It was such a tremendous blessing that I wanted to share it with you right away. Click here to listen to “We Need More Noah’s!”

You can watch the services live each night (remember that Lancaster Baptist Church is in the Pacific Time Zone, 3 hours behind Charlotte!) starting at 6:30 PM. (That means they start at 9:30 PM in Charlotte.) Click here to watch the services live!

Update from Knysna

A request for Knysna, South Africa was shared last night in our mid-week service. The following is an update:

 

 

 

 

Thank you all for the words of encouragement and concern since we shared our burden yesterday. Here is an update.

I left Julie in Cape Town early this morning to return to Knysna. We were there to assist my 87-year old mother as she underwent surgery for cancer on Monday. The surgery was a success and she is recovering well.

We watched the tragedy of Knysna unfold from a distance yesterday afternoon, not expecting the fires to spread so rapidly with devastating consequences.

Our immediate concern was for the wellbeing of our ministry team and for our church families. We tracked their frequently changing circumstances on social media. It very quickly became clear that the fires were out of control and even the authorities knew there was no way to stop them. The unusually strong dry winds fanned the flames relentlessly.

Once we had peace of mind that the evacuation of the Knysna residents was being well managed, we turned our attention to the status of our own home. Even though one of our team families had earlier “broken in” to find refuge, it soon looked as though the fires on the hill behind our house were headed that way. That family made for a nearby residential island to find safety.

Early this morning I drove 5 hours to Knysna from Cape Town. I was not prepared for the sights and smells that greeted me. Emotion welled up as I passed through the scorched hills framing the entrance to the estuary on which Knysna sits. Tears came easily as I drove along the smoky, and thankfully, rain-soaked streets of our beloved town.

The fire has decimated countless hectares of what was once beautiful “fynbos” vegetation. The smoldering scene resembles the aftermath of a fiery battle. The scarred remains of homes,  restaurants, and businesses attack the senses and appear somewhat unreal, something one might see in a war movie.

The wind-driven fire has seemingly chosen random targets to consume in its anger, while leaving other structures completely untouched–a phenomenon I am struggling to reconcile in my mind.

The residents of Knysna are left stunned and grieving. Some of us have been spared with no loss at all, while others have lost all of their earthly possessions. Our home is completely untouched, as are the homes of every one of our ministry team partners. The same is true most of our church families.

To God be the glory! He answered your prayers. He answered our prayers. He is opening ministry in front of us. We pray for this daily, and now He has spoken.

And so ministry continues. Ministry of a different kind begins. Our faith in Him never wavered. Our love for Him has deepened. Our resolve to share the Gospel is as strong as ever.

Please pray for fertile hearts.

Your missionaries,

DAVE & JULIE