Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2009

Landscapes

One of my greatest joys in deputation is getting to see new landscapes.  Most of my time has been spent in PA, VA, and WV, recently, and these states definitely have much for the eyes to look at.  I also remember traveling up and down alongside the St. Lawrence River in Quebec in May 2008.  The views along the river were magnificent.  I had supper with Pastor Rioux and his wife in the small town of Cacouna, where it is said that some of the most beautiful sunsets can be enjoyed.  Of course, the eastern states mentioned above have their own beauty to offer.  I absolutely love the windy, two-lane roads through the mountains.  I hate to travel the interstates, because I miss much of the local beauty.  So it’s a real thrill when I can get away from the semi trucks and divided highways to wend through the mountains and towns.  I’ve learned much about the physical landscape of this area in my travels.

I’ve also learned much about the landscape of fundamentalism.  I’ve experienced everything from the so-called progressive fundamentalists and to the rabbid KJV-only crowd.  In fact, the latter crowd are not comfortable with saying “The King James Version.”  It’s “The King James Bible,” since it’s the only true Bible. 

Thankfully, there’s a more balanced and biblical fundamentalism out there than the two types mentioned above.  Some of the churches are struggling and seem to be giving up hope, but thankfully, there are some vibrant congregations of fundamentalists who are making real impact upon their community.  The former group is often made up of mostly faithful elderly members, and the pastors struggle to find the answer for the church’s future.  But the latter group has a good mix of the elderly and the more youthful.  As I think back over the almost 60 churches in the eastern US and Quebec (not to mention those I visited on ministry travels to Haiti, Chad, and Papua New Guinea), I praise the Lord that He continues to raise up generations of those who fear God and desire to uphold the fundamentals of the faith.  I’m refreshed by the pastors who refuse to allow their churches to be infiltrated by worldliness. 

At times, however, I can get discouraged, because a relatively small group of believers in these churches are active in evangelism, and many of the younger generations are becoming enthralled with worldly Christian music.  I wonder what will become of fundamentalism in 20-30 years.  Where will we be with the English-version controversy?  Where will our music standards be? 

The Lord encouraged me this morning with the passage on the unjust judge in Luke 18.  The Lord gave this parable to encourage unrelenting prayer and undying hope in God’s purposes.  He ends the parable with a searching question: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (NKJV).   I heard a preacher explain that Jesus was really referring to “the faith,” but, though the article is present in the Greek, I don’t think the context allows it.  The parable encourages the believer to continue praying and not to lose heart that God will bring about justice for His elect.  Prayer is the greatest demonstration of faith and a sure sign that we haven’t lost heart.  God has promised that the body of faith will never be destroyed, but He does pose the question–will there still be the faithful on this earth when the Son of Man comes back?  There will be if the faithful don’t lose heart and stop praying!!

My heart has been burdened by the defeatist attitude of some fundamentalists that I’m meeting.  They seem to lack faith, and they may not be praying much for God to change the situation.  According to their pastors, they definitely aren’t actively obeying the Great Commission.  Do Christ’s words that there is a harvest into which He is sending laborers no longer apply to 21st-century America?  Is He no longer building His church in our land? 

Let’s not lose heart!  Let’s give ourselves to fervent prayer and to prayerful labor!  Balanced, biblical fundamentalism IS the answer for today’s hurting, dying world!  Let’s keep our focus on the true core of fundamentalism–the gospel–and then proclaim it to all!

Read Full Post »

A pastor asked me this question last night, so I figured I would answer it in my blog.  I remember having the same question when I thought about missionaries on deputation, and I assume others also wonder about this.  So let me give you a day in the life of this deputizing missionary….

I wake up at around 9 am, after spending a good bit of the night watching sports on ESPN.  I have to get up by 9 at a hotel in order to get their continental breakfast before it closes.  Then after spending about an hour at breakfast, I mozy back to my room to take a shower and get ready for the day.  After spending a couple hours in devotions, I finally get to work.  I call a few pastors, but then it’s time for lunch.  So I jump in my car and head to a fairly classy restaurant to enjoy a well-rounded lunch.  When I get back to the hotel, I just have to take an hour nap to recover from the wonderful meal.  That leaves a few hours left in the day to check email and Facebook.  Then at around 4:30 I begin looking for a nice restaurant for a meal.  After the meal I get to watch my sports again for another 5-6 hours.  And that’s a typical day for me on deputation!

Yeah, right!  If you know me at all, you know that I would never live like that.  But I do wonder if people sometimes wonder if missionaries spend their deputation days like that.  And maybe some do.  But not me.  Let me give you a real day in my life.  Let’s take yesterday….

After spending the morning hours getting ready, I began the day by strategizing which pastors to call.  I spent the entire morning calling pastors, most of whom I had already met in my travels.  I also sent a few emails to pastors, since the phone route wasn’t connecting with them.  I was able to set up one meeting in WV and another in SC.  The second was a pastor who returned my call–a very welcomed surprise!  Between phone calls, I answered some work emails and chatted with a consultant through Skype.  I also proofread the next prayer guide that BI will send out.  I eventually took a break for lunch.  I went across the street to McDonalds for a burger and fries. 

After lunch I make some more phone calls, while also doing some internet research.  As I make these phone calls, I have to strategize my travel plans.  Praise the Lord for Google maps!  Between phone calls, I paid a bill, sent a thank you letter to a supporter, thanked the last church I was at, wrote a thank you note to the pastor who took me to lunch on Tues, and answered a questionnaire for a church in MD.  Later I sent out an email to new consultants, encouraging them to join us for the BI Retreat and Consultant Seminar this summer.  I answered questions that a consultant raised about a project I assigned to her.  And I sent a letter to the chairpersons of the various committees that I have formed up. 

I had to meet a pastor at 4pm, so I headed out at about 3:40.  My GPS did me very wrong yesterday.  The pastor was only 10 minutes away according to Google, but my GPS took me 40 minutes away, way into the country!  It’s never been so wrong, so I thought I could trust it.  Now I know better!  I had to postpone that meeting until today.  So I entered the address for the church where I was going to attend prayer meeting, and started heading there. 

A pastor from eastern PA returned my call.  Since he’s a Hyles-Anderson graduate, you can imagine what we talked about.  We ended up talking for 1.5 hours!!  I found a pizzeria close by the church, so I grabbed a quick supper and then headed to church.  I had a great time of fellowship at this church.  I had no idea that this was the church of Amy Riddell, a retired missionary who helped translate the Waali Bible that we are soon to publish.  It’s also the home church of Bethany Boston, a Northland graduate who is helping us with some linguistics projects.  I had a great time of hearing the Word, praying with Mr. Boston, and fellowshipping.  I spent around an hour talking to the pastor after church.  Then I went back to the hotel to check my Facebook account and get to bed. 

So there’s a day in my life!!

Normally, I’m staying at someone’s house, so I don’t quite have the flexibility that I do here at the hotel.  Plus, I end up spending a few hours a day fellowshipping with the hosts. 

Today, I think I’ll focus on various work projects.  We are trying to determine every step we should go through for a language project, and I’m the chairman of that committee.  If you only knew how complicated the process is!!

Read Full Post »

Thanks so much for praying for my back.  Since Wed night, I have been able to sleep through the entire night.  I still wake up after 6 hours of sleep, but I am able to go back to sleep pretty quickly.  What a blessing!!  “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psa. 4:8).

I wasn’t able to meet with many pastors in VA or WV, but I did establish some good relationships with the ones that I did meet.  On Tues, I enjoyed a long talk with Pastor MacAvoy in Glenn Allen, VA, and then lunch with Pastor Alvis and others at his church in Powhatan, VA.  On Wed, I dropped by to visit Pastor Reberts in Winchester, VA, who warmed up to me quickly when he saw Pastor Minnick’s picture on the back of my brochure.  Then I went to lunch at Cracker Barrel with Pastor Wright of Berryville, VA, and had a great time getting to know him.  As I headed over to WV, I dropped by to visit Pastor Moran in Morgantown, WV, and joined them for prayer meeting.  On Fri, I met a few more pastors at a dinner welcoming a new pastor into the Fairmont WV area.  Thanks to Pastor Wayne Cooper of Lowman Baptist Church (a supporting church) and Tim Amundson (a BI representative) for working that out for me!  On Fri night, I renewed acquaitance with Don and Marjorie Harrelson.  Don and I were GAs together, and he pastors Cumberland Bible Church in Cumberland, MD.   So it looks like I should get around 7 meetings out of those three days of PR.  Praise the Lord! 

Last night I dropped by to visit a friend, Greg Knupp, in Athens, PA.  He wasn’t in, but I’ll be calling him soon.  We headed down to Nichols, PA, and I met Pastor Park and renewed acquaintance with a former student, Alden Park.  We had a great time of fellowship.  I hope to get at least one meeting from these two contacts.  I’ll be meeting with more pastors this week, so continue to pray that the Lord will direct me to churches who would be willing and able to partner together with me. 

After a year and a half of delay, I was finally able to meet Pastor Proper in Elmira, NY, and minister to his church.  The original date was Dec. 2007, but we were iced out.  So the next best date was yesterday.  They have  been giving me half their Christmas offering for the past two years, so it was a blessing to finally get together with them.  I spoke in all three slots, and the Lord really helped.  I wasn’t able to use my notes for the third slot, but the Lord helped me to remember all that I wanted to share.  God is good! 

Read Full Post »

I’m currently in Virginia, but I will be heading to West Virginia this afternoon to stay with Wayne Cooper and his family.  Wayne and I were GAs together at BJU, and now his church supports me.  I hope to meet some pastors while I’m in his area.  I’ve already made some solid contacts here in Virginia.  On Friday I will be staying with Don Harrelson and his wife.  Don and I were also GAs together, and he pastors a church in Cumberland, MD.  On Saturday I drive through PA on my way to southern NY for a meeting on Sunday.  Then I come back into PA on Tues.  So it’s five states in five days–VA, WV, MD, PA, and NY!  Praise the Lord for safety on the miles I’ve done so far; pray for continued safety. 

Pray also for my back, especially that the pain at night would go away.  The pain wakes me up at around 4 or 5 am and I have a hard time sleeping much after that.  I really need good sleep so that I can have enough energy to stay awake as I travel these many miles. 

The Lord gave me a great meeting with Bob Harrison and his church, Fellowship B/C in Baden, PA.  It was great to renew fellowship with him.  I traveled east and had a meeting the following Wed at Faith B/C in Lebanon, PA.  I really enjoyed Pastor Wayne Burggraff and his church.  Their interest was high and their offering was generous.  Plus, they treated me like a king during the three days that I was there.  I also enjoyed my time with Pastor Eugene Zorbas at Tabernacle B/C in Manassas, VA.  It was good getting to know him better and meeting up with Bill Banegas, a former student of mine.  It’s neat to see how the Lord is bringing a godly lady into his life.

Read Full Post »

I’m thankful for the two days of break from speaking that I was able to enjoy after the Bible conference, but I was concerned about how my back would do on Sunday since I had to speak three times in two different churches.  But the Lord proved Himself faithful once again by how He answered prayers.  I had a difficult night on Saturday, partly because of my back and partly because of the time change.  But thankfully, I was able to take an hour nap on Sunday afternoon to make up for the rough night.  Though it rained almost the entire day, the Lord kept me safe as I had to travel a number of miles to the churches.   I’m also thankful that though I spoke three times yesterday, I had one of the best nights in a while last night.  I did wake up, as usual, at around 3am because of some pain, but since it was minimal I was able to get back to sleep without having to take pain pills.  A first in a while!  What a blessing! 

More importantly than how the Lord answered prayers about my back is the way He answered them concerning my ministry.  The Lord allowed my ministry to be well-accepted in both churches.  In fact, the assistant pastor of the first church asked for testimonies before I preached in the afternoon service.  Around 4-5 people spoke about how the Lord ministered to their hearts by what I preached that morning.  One man testified to the encouragement it gave him as his mother is presently being admitted into a nursing home and as his father just had a minor car accident yesterday.  What a blessing to be used of the Lord!

Read Full Post »

To God Be the Glory

I can still remember what I thought when I committed to going to this missions conference two weeks ago–Am I crazy, or what?!  I committed to going when I was still on pain medication, but then as I weaned myself off the meds, I realized how sore and weak my back really was.  At that time I also found out that I would be speaking 3 times on Sunday, every night of the week, in a chapel, and in two Bible classes.  And it turns out that I spoke in four Bible classes.  How would I ever make it? 

When I first arrived at the church on Sunday, my back felt quite weak.  I didn’t stand for any of the hymns so that I could preserve my strength.  I had to lean hard on the pulpit to relieve the stress on my back.  I sat on a stool during Sunday school.  Thankfully, I had a long afternoon to rest, so I could make it through the evening service.  Monday morning got started off early with a Bible class at 9:30 and then another right after the first.  After returning to the hotel to rest, I had only a few hours and then had to get back to church again for the evening service.  Thankfully, Tues and Thurs were restful with only one speaking session.  But I had to spend most of Tues preparing for Wed.  I hadn’t prepared anything yet for Wed’s Bible classes, so I had to work on something for that.  As I spoke in those classes, I sat on a stool to make sure I had enough strength for the entire day.  I never got to go back to the hotel, because I was constantly involved in various activities.  After the evening service I took a hot bath, iced my back, and took some pain meds.  I still woke up early in the morning with pain, as I did every other night.  Hopefully that will end soon, because I’m not getting enough restful sleep, though I’m not doing too bad. 

Now that I have made it through the week, I can thank the Lord for how He helped me fulfill all 12 speaking engagements.  My back feels much stronger than Sunday.  In fact, I have to be careful what I lift, because I still need to keep from lifting anything over 10 lbs. 

Beyond the victory with my back, I praise the Lord for the ministry that I was able to accomplish.  This week’s ministry was probably more fulfilling than any other week of deputation ministry.  I praise the Lord for the liberty He gave in the pulpit and for the response to the preaching.  I was especially concerned about how things would go with the teens on Wed, and the Lord really answered prayers there.  I’m also thankful for the many opportunities to minister one-on-one to the people.  And to have them minister to me!  I’m so appreciative of the very generous offering from one of the churches (the other church is sending their check to BMM).  It will greatly help with the medical bills. 

I look forward to hearing how God continues to work in these two churches.  I believe the missions conference really stirred them up for home and foreign missions. 

Now I have two days of rest (and meeting pastors) before I have to speak three times on Sunday in two different churches.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been so busy at this conference that I haven’t had time to update my blog.  I have already spoken 6 times in the past two days, and the Lord has greatly blessed.  When I found out two weeks ago that I would be speaking three times the first day, I wondered how I was going to do it.  I found out Sunday night that I would also be speaking three times on Monday, and that the first slot would be at 9:30am on Monday. 

But the Lord proved Himself faithful by giving me the strength and by blessing the preaching of His Word.  I was tired and sore at the end of the morning on Sunday, but it wasn’t too bad.  The past two nights have been difficult, but I hope it will get better tonight.  Thankfully, I have been getting sufficient sleep to feel rested. 

More important than how He’s helped me with my back is how He has helped with my preaching.  I have sensed real liberty as I preached, especially Sunday morning and this evening.  At these two services, there were five decisions for dedication, and fifteen decisions to be more faithful in witnessing, respectively.  Praise the Lord!! 

I speak only once tomorrow (evening) but then I speak four times on Wed: two Bible classes, one chapel, and an evening service.  Pray for the Lord’s blessing as I speak to students in the Christian school and to believers at Mt. Carmel.  I spoke at the Church of the Open Door on Sunday (all day) and Mon evening and will speak there once more on Thurs.  I look forward to a day of rest and catching up on work tomorrow.  But I praise the Lord for the opportunities He’s given me to minister the Word!  What a privilege to be able to minister the Word as my full-time “work”!

Read Full Post »