Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Deacon Election at WBC - Part I

As I mentioned in the monthly newsletter, I will be posting some thoughts over the next two or three weeks regarding the importance of deacon election at our church. As I mentioned in the article, in Acts 6:1-7 the first deacons were selected so that the apostles might be able to "devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word" (Acts 6:4). The result of this was the "Word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied" (Acts 6:7). Thus, when men "full of the Spirit and wisdom" (Acts 6:3) are chosen to serve in various capacities as a deacon, the ministers of the Word of God are able to focus their attention on prayer and the Word. What results is a healthy church that is reaching the lost and seeing them saved. As you begin to consider who to nominate for the position of deacon:
(1) Pray for God to show you someone who loves Jesus Christ.
(2) Pray for God to show you someone who loves Wynne Baptist Church.
(3) Pray for God to show you someone who loves to serve without getting noticed for doing so.
(4) Pray for a group of men to be selected who are committed to serving in order for prayer and the ministry of the Word can be kept central in the church.

This is so important Wynne Baptist! The health of our church and the glory of God are at stake in seeking and obeying the will of God.
More to come...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The LORD of Hosts Cares for His Flock

I experienced something last week that reminded me of the importance of having regenerate church members. I will not recount the circumstances here, for those involved are unaware and the point can be made without it. Though I knew the truth, I saw it first hand: unregenerate church members (those who are not 'born again' followers of Christ Jesus) can seriously damage the integrity of the church, the spread of the Gospel, and trample on the glory of God. The "church" by definition means "called out ones." Those who have been "called out of darkness" and brought into His "glorious light." A church is a gathering, or a group, of those kind of people. Changed people. Transformed people. Enthralled with Christ people. Thus, membership within the church is to be taken VERY seriously.
Reading through Zechariah I came across these glorious words in chapter 10:
"the LORD of hosts cares for His flock...and will make them like His majestic steed in battle...they shall be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them...their hearts shall be glad as with wine...their hearts shall rejoice in the LORD."
That affirmed it for me (as if I needed any more's all through the Bible!). God cares for His flock. They will be majestic on the earth (because of Him). They will be glad in Him. They will rejoice in Him. Those who belong to the LORD find their heart's delight in HIM!
Those who associate with His people and label themselves as His people, but have never been saved and rescued through hope and joy in the Gospel (unregenerate church members) only communicate to the lost world that being on a role of a church and "attending" church is the ticket to heaven. Likewise, churches who allow for unregenerate humans to be on their role are deceiving these people into thinking they truly are saved when they aren't! All the way around, then, this is a VERY BIG DEAL!

Consider this quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon:
"By all means, let us bring true converts into the church, for it is a part of our work to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded them, but still, this is to be done to disciples and not to mere professors; and if care not be used, may we do more harm than good at this point. To introduce unconverted persons to the church is to weaken and degrade it; and therefore an apparent gain may be a real loss."


To all church members who may come across this, I challenge you to ask yourself whether or not you are truly converted and are being transformed into the image of Christ. I also ask you to consider what are some implications for having unconverted men and women as members. I also encourage you to contemplate ways this can be remedied. It is a BIG DEAL. The LORD of hosts cares for His should we.

I also want to point you to a new blog that started yesterday. It is located at one of my favorite web-sites and ministries. The ministry is called "9 Marks." You can get to the blog by clicking here. I feel sure that it will be full of solid information on how to get, keep, and maintain healthy churches for the glory of God and the evangelism of mankind.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Back from the Convention in San Antonio

Many of you WBC folks are asking me how the Southern Baptist Convention was in San Antonio, TX. My response? "Boring." It really was. But that's a REALLY good thing...for the most part. What I mean is, by and large, the fact that it was boring means that there weren't any "major tension" moments where we all disagree about important things. Most everything that was brought up was agreed upon with small amounts of questioning and debating. The debates were healthy and kept with a spirit of love. So, it is a good thing when we had a convention that was boring. It means that, by and large, the SBC is doing well.
Are there some issues that were avoided? Yes. Should there have been some discussions concerning certain theological issues? Perhaps. But if they were, I cannot say for certain it would have solved anything. Some issues would have only hurt the convention, not helped it, I'm afraid. There are some issues that, at times, we must "agree to disagree."
Though some things frustrate me about our convention, overall I am proud to be a Southern Baptist. It is a convention that wholeheartedly believes the Bible is the inerrant and Holy Spirit inspired Word of God. Because of that, I am able to stand behind the pulpit of WBC every week and preach the Word without hesitation. In fact, WBC would get mad if I didn't. Also, the SBC is a convention that is totally committed to reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All Southern Baptist's believe that Jesus is the ONLY way to God and, thus, people must know the Gospel in order to be saved and have assurance of eternity with God when they die. So, I am proud to be a Southern Baptist. You can read more about what all went on here.

One event I attended that blessed me tremendously was a "breakout" session at the Pastor's Conference on Monday. Roy Fish led one of the sessions on evangelism. I could have listened to him for hours. He has been a long time professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has influenced some of my heros of the faith in Southern Baptist life. I was anxious to hear him teach on this all-important topic. His outline was as follows:

I. Reasons for the Decline in our Efforts in Evangelism
(1). A growing universalism in the U.S. - Many, even within the church, do not believe that unbelievers will go to hell.

(2). A distorted Calvinism - Those who believe that God's sovereignty means that He will bring salvation to lost sinners without using us to share the Gospel with them, will not evangelize. They will "depend on God to do it all" to a fault.

(3). A moral and spiritual relativism - So many today do not believe in absolute truth or even moral absolutes.

II. How Can We Improve What We are Doing?
(1). Personal Evangelism - Primarily by building relationships with neighbors and friends and co-workers.
(2). Organizational Evangelism - Go after lost church members!
(3). Theological Evangelism - Do not just exalt the one who leads someone to faith in Christ, brag on the people who are trying. "Sowing is just as important as reaping!"
(4). Literature Evangelism - Use the internet, tracts, books, etc. to get the Gospel in people's hands.
(5). Major on children and youth - Be dogmatic about Jesus being the only way to God.

He said many things that really challenged me and encouraged me in personal witnessing. I leave you with these two quotes from Fish, that again, make me proud to be a Southern Baptist:

"The Glory of God is vitally tied to our reaching lost people for Jesus!"

"The most driving motive for winning people to Jesus is that people will be in hell if they die without Him...Every single person in our world is going to spend an eternity somewhere."

Thank you, Dr. Fish, for an incredible lecture. May we seek to bring God glory and prevent souls from going to hell by winning more and more people to Christ!

Friday, June 8, 2007

God Never Sleeps...Hallelujah!

I am writing this Friday morning, at 9:30 am. I just got off the phone with Randy Presley, who is taking a team of six to India for a week and a half.
Yesterday when the team arrived at the Memphis Airport they were told their flight to Chicago was cancelled. They found another one and, as soon as they boarded the plane, were told to get back off due to horrible weather in Chicago. They finally made it to Chicago yet they missed their connecting flight to London because of the delays in Memphis. The news from the airlines last night was, "we cannot guarantee a flight out tomorrow OR the next day..." It didn't look good. The team stayed in a hotel last night. People prayed they get to India so the lost there could hear the Gospel and for people from WBC to grow a deeper passion for missions.
Randy told me a few moments ago that they have a direct flight to New Dehli, India later today.

Consider these words from the psalmist:
"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand...The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore." (Psalm 121, ESV)

God, who keeps His children, will NOT slumber. He neither slumbers NOR sleeps! He stayed up all night working on behalf of His children who are committed to taking the Gospel to the nations.

I find it ironic that Wednesday morning at 3 am I was with the West Africa team, praying for them before they left the church parking lot. In that prayer I thanked God that He was awake listening to us ask Him for help.
Our help comes from the LORD and He never sleeps. He is up. Up listening to His children's requests. Up working out His sovereign plan so that He gets the glory for all that happens. He is up keeping our going out and and our coming in. What a wonderful and sleep-less God (not because He is anxious, but because He is so powerful and mighty He doesn't need sleep!) we serve!

God is committed to the nations being glad in Him. It will be done. Remember to pray for those in West Africa and those headed to India. Pray that "the nations would be glad and sing for joy." (See Psalm 67)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Philippians 4:8 - "The Ultimate TV Guide" Continued

I just finished reading an article (blog) by Al Mohler (President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY). He discusses the importance of getting outside and enjoying God's creation, using our experience with nature (being outside instead of inside with our eyes fixed on a TV screen) as an opportunity to worship God. You can read his comments here.
As he quotes in his article from Psalm 19:1 - "The heavens are declaring the glory of God and the skies are proclaiming the work of His hands."
Let us stand in awe and worship our Creator,
Bro. Matt

Monday, June 4, 2007

Philippians 4:8 - "The Ultimate TV Guide"

Bro. Al Jackson, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama called Philippians 4:8 "The Ultimate TV Guide." I agree. It reads: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (ESV). That eliminates much from what comes through the TV screen. I think it is good advice. Actually, it is a command from the word of God. Thus, God wants us to think about that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Wynne Baptist Church, let's remember this during the summer. Use down time to read the Word, read a solid Christian book, build a relationship with a lost neighbor, etc. Let's not waste our time in front of the television.
I have also linked something I found challenging and inspiring here. It is pastor John Piper (pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN) talking about the danger of movies and media and how it can cause us to waste our lives. Listen (it only lasts about 2 minutes) and heed his advice.

Let's Love the Lord our God with all our Minds,

Bro. Matt