Category Archives: Missions

Georgia Baptist Convention

For the last three days, my family and I have been in attendance at the Georgia Baptist Convention. This year it was held at First Baptist Church of Jonesboro.

I wish to commend those who planned this year’s meeting. The spirit was absolutely phenomenal, much more so than one would normally expect at a business meeting. While much important business was dealt with, the emphasis seemed to be on refocusing on Christ. The music was the best it has ever been and the preaching was outstanding.

I also would like to congratulate my dad on being elected as one of our vice-presidents. This is a well-deserved honor and I know he will serve our convention well in this new opportunity that God has opened.

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Let The Games Begin

After months of preparation, posturing and politicking on the part of the Chinese, the Olympic games are ready to get underway tonight in Beijing. I must admit to feeling somewhat conflicted about these games. I am still scratching my head as to how China wound up as the host to begin with, given their track record on human rights and other issues.

However, I also see this as an opportunity for the gospel to be carried into a place where it is not always welcome. In addition, there will be many visitors from other nations that are closed to the gospel. Let us pray that the Christians who are able to attend the games will take advantage of every opportunity to share the good news while they are there.

As a form of a Weekend Survey, tell us what you are most looking forward to in these games? Experts predict a strong showing from our ladies’ gymnastics team, our swim team looks to be formidable as well. I think, though, that I am most interested in seeing if our men’s basketball team can reclaim their spot atop the heap. I am a big fan of Mike Krzyzewski and it seems that he and Jerry Colangelo have assembled the most talented team we have fielded in several years, perhaps since the original Dream Team. In the few glimpses I have had of them in their exhibition games, there seems to be a good chemistry between the players that was missing in Athens. 

What are you looking forward to seeing?

A Gift Fit For A King: Gold

An integral part of the Christmas story is the magi, or “wise men” as they are commonly known. Those intrepid followers of a star who traveled from regions in the east came and brought lavish gifts as an act of worship. They refused to be turned back by the hazards of the journey. King Herod’s deceitful intrigue did not hinder them. Neither were they disallusioned to find the king they sought in circumstances that were less than those befitting royalty.

 When they found Jesus, they brought to Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. During this Christmas season, I want to examine each of these gifts and how we can give similar gifts to the King ourselves. While each gift has its own significance, the most important factor in this part of the Christmas story is the Lordship of Christ.

As we think of gold, obviously this speaks of wealth. A king is one who is worthy of riches. These men recognized that fact and paid Him tribute accordingly.

Is Christ the Lord of our wealth? Do we honor Him with our giving? How about with our investments and spending?

We should be willing to submit all of our possessions and wealth to the sovereignty of our King, realizing that they are but a trust from Him.

A good way to honor the Lord with our wealth during this season is to give a special gift beyond  what we would normally give. Missions, special ministry projects, charity, etc., are all excellent opportunities to bestow a “birthday gift” in the name of our Savior.

I hope that your Christmas will be blessed with the joy that comes from knowing the King.

In Defense of Cooperation

California mega-church pastor, Rick Warren, has been catching a lot of fire lately for extending an invitation to Sen. Barak Obama (D-Illinois) to speak at an AIDS awareness conference being held at Saddleback Community Church today. Conservative evangelicals and pro-life groups have protested this move, pointing to Obama’s position on key issues such as stem-cell research and abortion rights.

For those who may not be aware of my position on these issues, I am dead set against using embryonic stem-cells for research and I am against abortion as well. There are a number of issues on the political level in which Obama gives me cause for serious concern.

Having said that, I must confess to being a little perplexed by the verbal hailstorm that is pouring down on Warren. Also scheduled to speak on the program is Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), a staunch supporter of the rights of the unborn. After all of the political diviseness that our country has endured in the last couple of years, I personally find it refreshing to see politicians from both sides of the aisle working together on something that truly addresses a tremendous human need.

The point that seems to be getting lost in all of this is that this is not a pro-life or pro-choice matter. It is a matter of human decency and Christian compassion. In a large sense, this is the “pure religion” of ministering to widows and orphans that the Apostle James described. If we believe that the AIDS problem is going to remain confined to a particular region or social demographic, we have our head in the sand. While I do not always agree with everything Warren does, I applaud him for his efforts to address this situation.

Some would argue that the greatest priority is the Gospel. To that I would say a hearty “Amen!” But there is the simple fact that you cannot share the good news with someone after they are dead.

I hope that those who are criticizing Warren’s approach in this matter will rethink their position. By working together to fight this monster, a lot of good can be accomplished. Perhaps some lives will be extended so that the Gospel may be given to them. Perhaps the general population of Africa will come to realize the importance of morality. Perhaps, just perhaps, Sen. Obama may come to realize that if the life of an infant stricken with AIDS is worth fighting to save, then the life of the unborn may be worth it, too.

I am praying for the success of this venture. I hope you will too.

A Special Blessing

Pine Park Baptist Church was especially blessed last night to have as our guest, Gladys Rojas, of Peru. A good friend, Mrs. Barbara Payne, had gone to Peru last year on a short-term mission trip and had met Sis. Gladys who served as an interpreter for the missions group. As it worked out for her to visit the U.S., we had the opportunity for her to come and share her testimony with our church.

What a blessing it was.

She testified of how missionaries had led her to Christ and how she was now witnessing for the Lord herself. God had also provided, through missionaries, for her healing from a deadly parasite.

Her love for the Lord was obvious and her gracious spirit was captivating. It was such a blessing to see actual results, “in the flesh”, of the resources and efforts that are placed in missions.

Thank you so much Sis. Gladys and Sis. Barbara for sharing this opportunity with us.

A Friend in Need

Let me tell you about my new friend. His name is David Eldridge and he is the pastor of Eastlawn Baptist Church in Pascagoula, MS. I had the opportunity to spend a little time with David this past week as I traveled with a group of men to the Gulf Coast on a recovery mission.

David, in his late twenties, is a graduate student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary working on his doctoral studies. Anyone who has ever tried to split time between studies and working knows what a challenge that can be.

Eastlawn Baptist Church is a fairly old church. At one time, the neighborhood around it was a place of prosperity. The church was thriving with over 600 in weekly attendance. Over a period of time, the neighborhood underwent a transition as many of the wealthy residents moved away. Attendance began to decline and by the time David arrived as pastor about a year and a half ago, they were running only about 85.

Then came Hurricane Katrina, pushing a storm surge that flooded the church with six feet of water. The inside of the building was destroyed by the water along with the homes of the whole neighborhood. The people of the church began to try to put their lives back together. David and his wife lost their home along with most of their members. The first service after the storm, they had less than 25 in attendance.

Shortly after the storm, a large church in another town called David and asked him to come be their pastor. This would have been a perfect opportunity for him to simply walk away from the rubble and get a fresh start in his life and ministry. Instead, he thanked the church but politely declined their offer. He feels that God knew that Katrina would devastate this neighborhood before He led David to Eastlawn and that God wants him to stay with these people and shepherd them through this process.

David has continued his studies at seminary. He and his wife have had to work at putting their home back together (still in progress). In the middle of all of this, they had a baby boy this past December. He is not only overseeing the reconstruction of the church, but also the homes of several elderly and widowed members of his congregation. While there has been a great outpouring of volunteer help from around the country, the responsibility of coordinating the recovery and rebuilding has fallen on his shoulders.

I told you all of that to say this, David desperately needs our prayers. He is exhausted. He is frustrated by slow-moving government agencies and insurance companies and contractors who are trying to gouge his people. He is trying to be the husband, father, pastor, student, and coordinator that he must be.

Please uphold this man of God and his church before the Lord. If you can, put them on your prayer list at church. I realize that this is only one story among many from this tragedy, but it is the one I know. Our brother needs a special measure of God’s grace to uphold him during this time. May he be strengthened with all might according to God’s glorious power.

Out of Town

I will be out of town until Saturday evening. I am going back to Pascagoula, MS, with some men from my Baptist Association. We will doing some repair work for Eastlawn Baptist Church.

Please pray for our trip and this church. Hurricane Katrina dealt these folks a devastating blow.

In the meantime, if you want some good reading, go visit my brother and tell him I sent you.

God bless and have a great weekend. If I get back in time, we might do another weekend survey.