Friday, December 17, 2010

My Ordination

On December 5th, God allowed an event to take place in my life that I never imagined I would experience. By His grace, I was ordained into the Gospel ministry. It was truly a sacred, sobering day that I will never forget. I was blessed to have the following men on my ordination council: Jim Phillips (my grandfather), Jack Baskin, Clayton Shumpert, Thurman Wade, Ray Warren, Steve Sparks, Don Prosser, Wayne Sosbee, John Banks, Josh Ayers, Patrick Henry, and my pastor, Derik Lawrence. John Wilkerson (pastor of First Baptist Church of Long Beach), Stephen Benefield (veteran missionary with whom we will be working in Cambodia), Paul Chappell (pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church), and Fred Fies (pastor of McKee Road Baptist Church) all gave a personal challenge to me via video for the ordination service.

Three highlights from that sacred evening stand out in my mind. First, my father's and grandfather's presence in the ordination council was both humbling and stirring. I thank God for my Christian heritage. My grandfather has been, and still is, greatly used of God in the ministry. My father, although not in full time ministry, has been a rock of consistent Christian living. May God give me the grace to give this gift to my son and daughter.

Second, the fact that my pastor has been involved in my life since I was thirteen years of age is a priceless gift. Pastor Lawrence was my youth pastor throughout my middle school and high school years. I was saved under his ministry. I was called to full time ministry under his ministry. He has seen me in spiritually tumultuous times of rebellion, and yet showed great love and understanding. And now he is my pastor and mentor in my adult years. What an honor and blessing. (Just a side note: I'm not the only kid from his youth group that is serving the Lord. There are dozens of "kids" who are married and serving the Lord that were in his youth group. That says something about his leadership.)

Third, hearing my wife's testimony during the ordination service- a testimony I have heard many times- ministered to my heart as if it were the first time I had ever heard it. The fact that Linda is willing, and not only willing, but eager to go to the land from which her parents fled- a land in which three of her older siblings perished- speaks volumes to me of her love for the Lord and her commitment to Him. I have never wondered if Linda was completely supportive of our going to Cambodia. I thank God for Linda.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where Love is Felt

Several weeks ago, my grandfather, Dr. Jim Phillips, was preaching at Faith Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California. Knowing that he was within ten minutes of my in-laws' house, I called him and asked if he would visit them. He had actually already planned on doing that. The only time he had ever met Linda's family was at our wedding over three years ago; but he was thrilled to see them again.

He asked me for all the names of Linda's siblings. He asked me what he should call Linda's mother and father. He wanted to make sure he was culturally prepared for the visit.

Before I go any further, let me explain something about Linda's family. Linda and her siblings have never had a grandfather. Their father's father was killed by the Khmer Rouge in the early 1970's. Their mother's father has never left Cambodia. While Linda, Dena, Dana, Vicki, and BJ were growing up in Long Beach, California, their mother's father was in Cambodia. Furthermore, in Cambodian culture, elderly people generally do not show affection to young people- even to their own grandchildren. Typically, the grandchildren are expected to serve the grandparents; but often (not always) this is done with very little affection shown by the grandchildren or the grandparents. In the minds of Linda and her siblings, this has always been their idea of what a grandparent is.

When my grandfather showed up at their doorstep on that Saturday afternoon, he completely revolutionized their idea of a grandfather. He entered the house, hugged Linda's parents, and then he did the unthinkable: he began calling Linda's siblings by name and giving them hugs. They had a wonderful visit, and my grandfather quickly found out how wonderful my wife's family is.

Toward the end of the visit, my grandfather invited them to come and hear him preach the next day. There was no pressure, no pushing; just a simple invitation.

That night I receive a phone call from Dana, Linda's 22 year old sister.

"Chad, we got to meet Grandpa- he is the sweetest man! We're gonna go hear him preach tomorrow if we can get a ride."

The next day, Dana, Vicki (Linda's 18 year old sister), Dena (Linda's 24 year old sister), and my mother-in-law went to Faith Baptist Church and heard my grandfather preach. Dena had not been to church since she rode the bus to Pacific Baptist Church when she was a little girl. Dana had been to church one time in the past ten years. I was honestly shocked to hear that they had gone to church.

On Monday, I received calls from Dena and Dana. Neither could stop talking about my grandfather being such a loving person. In fact, Dena said that when she hugged him the last time, she did not want to let go of him.

I was thinking about this whole situation. Why did my wife's family, who were not even interested in church, just suddenly decide to go hear my grandfather preach? They don't know that he is a respected preacher. They don't know what God has used him to do in the ministry over the past 50 years. They don't know the legacy he has left in the independent, fundamental Baptist movement. But they know one thing: he loves them. And that's what makes the difference.

"Where love is felt, the message is heard." -Jim Phillips

Sunday, November 28, 2010

An Embarrassing Moment on Deputation

I love meeting young people in the churches that we visit. I love everyone, but I have an especially great time joking around with kids and teenagers when we visit a church on the deputation trail. One way that I break the ice with children and teenagers when I am introducing myself and my family is attempting to guess their names. It goes something like this:

Me: So, what's your name?

Kid: It's...

Me: Whoa, whoa...stop...let me guess...Jerome!

Kid: No.

Me: Okay....Mickey!

Kid: (Giggling) No!

Me: Okay....Harold!

Kid: (Laughing) No!!

Sometimes I will guess twenty to thirty times, and usually it is a great way to show kids and teenagers that the Phillips family is having a great time on deputation. But today it backfired.

I had just met a 12 year old girl named Bailey. Next to her was what appeared to be a 9 year old girl with shoulder-length blonde hair. So, I began the name-guessing game.

Me: "So, what's your name?"

Kid: "It's..."

Me: "Wait, wait...let me guess....Meredith!"

Kid: "No."

Me: "Okay...Jessica!"

Kid: "No....keep guessing."

Me: "Ummm....Brittany!"

At about this time, Bailey, the 12-year old girl whom I had just met, and who happened to be the cousin of the kid whose name I was attempting to guess, began whispering something to me with her hand over her mouth. It took me a couple of seconds to realize what she was saying.

"He's a boy, not a girl!"

"Oh," I replied, "okay...well...what's your name, man?" (Emphasis on the "man")

(Interestingly, the boy's name was Haven. Even if I had just asked him his name, I probably would have still thought he was a little girl.)

I tried to think of a smooth way out of the embarrassing situation; but my wits failed me. It was one of those awkward moments in life when there is no escape from looking like a total idiot.

Hopefully this doesn't happen again. :^)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Anthem Every Church Should Have

It is a good sign when I walk into a church on a Sunday morning and see several people who are NOT wearing suits, ties, and knee-length dresses. When I see this, I can pretty much surmise that I am in a church that is reaching out to people; and that is a great thing. On the same token, I become a bit concerned when I enter a church on a Sunday morning and EVERYONE is dressed perfectly. Obviously, the reason for my concern is that this is a sign that the church is content with its current status, and perhaps even views unchurched visitors as a burden rather than a blessing.

I was in a church on a Sunday morning in which everyone was in their Sunday best. The pastor preached for about an hour on several hot-button issues, all issues that the average unchurched person in America would not understand. In all of his ranting and raving on issues, I don't remember hearing a clear presentation of the Gospel. Had I brought a first-time visitor to church that Sunday morning, I would have been grossly disappointed.

I believe in the biblical teaching of modesty; but the most important thing an unsaved woman needs to hear when visiting an Independent Baptist church is NOT a fifteen minute temper tantrum against women wearing pants. I believe that the King James Version is the correct English translation; but going on a ten minute "face-ripping" session about the corruption of the other versions on a Sunday morning is NOT the first and most important thing a lost visitor needs to hear. The FIRST thing a lost visitor needs to sense and hear preached is the amazing love of Christ. Not only do they need to hear that message preached, but they need to sense the love of Christ in our spirit when we preach it. I believe the best way to help an unsaved person understand issues of personal separation is to first see them saved, and then to help them through personal discipleship. (Of course, it is absolutely necessary for a pastor to preach the whole counsel of God; and I believe that Sunday and Wednesday nights are wonderful opportunities for a pastor to deal with issues of personal separation, reasons for why we use the King James Version, etc. But when dealing with these issues, I believe we should remember that we not only need to speak the truth, but we need to speak the truth in love.)

With all that being said, I would like to share the lyrics of a wonderful song written by Bro. Cary Schmidt, one of the assistant pastors at Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, California. The song is entitled, "This Must Be the Place." I believe this should be the anthem of every Independent, Fundamental Baptist church.

Souls on the street, addicted to sin

Selling themselves to survive

Not understanding the love they could find

In a place where God's love is alive.

They doubt that they could meet the standards necessary,

And fear that they'd find judgment

Rather than a sanctuary.

The neighbor next door keeps the house looking good,

But the home is collapsing within.

Pressures of life pull a family apart,

And temptation's destruction begins.

They doubt the church could have the answers necessary

And fear they'd find rejection rather than a sanctuary.


This must be a place where a broken heart can mend

This must be a place where the outcast finds a friend.

For we cannot lift the fallen if our hand still holds a stone,

And their sin that seems so great to us is no greater than our own.

There must be a point where shame meets grace,

And the church must be the place.

Jumping Into the Deep End

If I had to explain how I feel right now about our upcoming move to Cambodia, I would use the following analogy.

I feel like a kid who has had a couple of swimming lessons. He can somewhat hold his own in the shallow end of the pool. And then, his dad takes him by the hand and begins to lead him to the high dive. "Son," the dad says, "I want you to jump of this high dive into this water that is 20 feet deep. Don't worry- you've been practicing for this, and if anything goes wrong, I'll be there to help you."

God has taken me by the hand and is leading my family and me to what seems like the "deep end." I'm nervous. I question whether I am ready for this. At times, I doubt myself. But I am reminded of Psalm 107:23-30: "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep." This verse and the verses following teach me that it is in the deep waters of life that we see the Lord do the greatest works; and it is in the deep waters of life that we truly see His hand of providence and provision.

I do have reason to be nervous if our mission is dependent upon my strength and ability. But I have the confidence to jump into these deep waters because I know that God has led me to this "high dive", that He has prepared me for this "jump", and He will be there to help me when I feel like I'm about to "go under."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Questions and Answers

Recently, I was considering the reality of the decision to follow the Lord to Cambodia. I guess these thoughts were triggered when I looked at the calendar recently and realized that our departure is only four months away. As I have been thinking about this life-changing move we are preparing to make in just a few short months, I have asked myself some questions, and have been assured with some answers from God's Word.

What would cause us to leave our family, our friends, and our comforts and move to a country like Cambodia? What would motivate me to learn a language like Khmer? Why would we go to a predominantly Buddhist country and tell them of Jesus Christ, knowing that if they accept this Jesus they will be ostracized from their families and ridiculed by their countrymen?

Here are a few answers that have given assurance to my sometimes frail heart.

1. Because of the command of Christ. In all of the Gospels and in the Book of Acts, Christ issues the command to His church to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. I like the words of Jim Elliot: "Why are you waiting on a voice when you already have a verse?"

2. Because of the constraining love of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:14 states, "For the love of Christ constraineth us..." Praise the Lord, I am a recipient of God's love; and it is that very love that has compelled me to go to such a spiritually dark place like Cambodia, where most of them know nothing of the love of God. The verse goes on to say, "because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again." Christ's love constrains us, it compels us, to carry the light of the Gospel to Cambodia.

3. Because of the cry of the Christless. Most people in Cambodia are not waiting with open arms for us to arrive with the message of the Gospel. Many of them are angry that we preach a message that is in direct conflict with their religion. But they are crying. While many will not admit it, they are crying for truth. They are crying for love. Their religion and superstitions have left them spiritually, emotionally, and even physically empty. I believe that the only true answer to their spiritual plight is salvation in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Tonight, the during the last service of the missions conference at Harvest Baptist Church in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, I had the privilege to sing "A Passion for Thee" for the offertory.

A passion for Thee
Oh, Lord, set a fire in my soul
And a thirst for my God!
Hear Thou my prayer
Lord, Thy power impart
Not just to serve
But to love Thee with all of my heart.

After I finished singing, Pastor Kurt Skelly made some insightful remarks about the message of the song- the fact that our service for God should flow from a sincere love for Him. Then, he made the most profound statement concerning true service for God that I have ever heard.

"True service for God is not about output; true service for God is about outflow."

How true this is.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Being a Realist

Tonight I was in a service at a large fellowship meeting. There were many missionary families present, as well as many pastors and laymen. I went alone because my daughter was sick, and my wife needed to be with her. I slipped in a few minutes before the service started, greeted some familiar, friendly faces that I have met on the deputation trail, and took my seat. The choir sang wonderfully; the congregational singing was lively; the preaching was great. Yet, I felt unsettled in my heart.

Normally, I would love this setting. But tonight, I kept thinking thoughts along these lines: "Here we are, all wearing our happy faces, enjoying the magnificent choir, listening to a well-known preacher- but this isn't reality. Reality is being in Cambodia where people aren't patting you on the back. Reality is being discouraged because you have been soul winning for weeks, and have little to show for it. Reality is being in a country where they have no concept of camp meetings, revival meetings, fellowship meetings, or big-name preachers. Reality is smelling the stench of an open sewer as you walk to the market. Reality is the brothel across the street from the church."

Now, I'm just being transparent. And don't misunderstand me. I'm not against fellowship meetings. They definitely have their purpose, and I appreciate them. I'm just against thinking that fellowship meetings are the pinnacle of the Christian experience. I'm against the mentality that says, "Man! Here we are at this big meeting! This is what it's all about!" I appreciate the fellowship at these kind of meetings; but the hyped-up fellowship meetings are not "what it's all about."

Then, this thought hit me. "For me, reality needs to be serving the Lord with a heart of sincerity and full of joy, even if no man ever recognizes me."

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Phillips Family Setup Fund

Thank you for taking a minute to find out what the Phillips Family Setup Fund is all about. If you will look to the right-hand side of the screen, you will find a brief description of the Setup Fund, as well as a detailed list of items we will need to purchase immediately upon arrival to Cambodia on March 29, 2011.

If you would rather send a check, please make check out to:

Macedonia World Baptist Missions
(In the memo line of the check, just write "For Chad Phillips Setup Fund")

and send to this address:
Macedonia World Baptist Missons
P.O. Box 519
Braselton, GA 30517

Thank you, and God bless!

-The Phillips Family, servants to Cambodia

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Dark Places of the Earth

Psalm 74:20- "Have respect unto the covenant; for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty."

If there ever were a spiritually dark place in this world, it would be the country of Cambodia. The Gospel first reached Cambodia in 1923 when David Ellison went in as the first evangelical Christian missionary. From the time the Gospel entered Cambodia until the Khmer Rouge took over the country in 1975, very few Cambodians turned from Buddhism, animism, demonism, and ancestor worship to Christ. The number of Christians in Cambodia on April 17, 1975- the day of the Khmer Rouge victory- was approximately 10,000, not even one percent of the country.

In addition to the educated class, the Khmer Rouge also targeted religious people of all types. Before 1975, there were thousands of Buddhist monks in the country. By 1979, there were only about 50 Buddhist monks who were still alive. Of the 10,000 Christians, it is estimated that 90 percent of them perished in the "Killing Fields."

Throughout the 1980's, the Khmer Rouge were fighting another brutal civil war with the Vietnamese-installed government in an attempt to regain their power, and Cambodia remained shut off from the rest of the world. In 1994, Cambodia finally opened its doors to outside influences, and missionaries re-entered for the first time since 1974.

Yes, the Gospel reached Cambodia in 1923; but what little presence of the Gospel that was there was almost completely annihilated during the "Killing Fields." The missionaries who entered Cambodia in the mid 1990's- missionaries like Rodney Ruppel- came into a country that had been without a strong Gospel witness for twenty years. Additionally, these missionaries had the responsibility of ministering to a people who had been through genocide and corruption unparalleled by any other country in history.

Because of its oppressive spiritual darkness, Cambodia is "full of the habitations of cruelty." It is one of the top countries in the world for the heinous practice of child prostitution. In Cambodia, honesty is not seen as a virtue, but rather as a weakness. To say that the government is corrupt would be a drastic understatement. Indeed, Cambodia is a country in desperate need of the "light of the glorious Gospel of Christ." Please pray for us as we carry the light to this dark place.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Special Missions Conference

From October 27-31, God allowed us to be at Bible Baptist Church in Matthews, NC for their missions conference. This is a dear church to our hearts for a couple of reasons.

First, my grandfather, Dr. Jim Phillips, pastored this church for 21 years (from 1978-1999). Under his leadership, God allowed the church to see thousands saved, baptized, and discipled. The church grew from an average of 50 to over 700. Scores of people who were members of Bible Baptist are now in full time ministry. Praise the Lord, the church is still moving forward under the pastoral leadership of Dr. Ron Allen.

Second, Bible Baptist Church is the church where I was dedicated by my parents to the Lord back in 1982. How thankful I am to God for giving me the opportunity to come back to Bible Baptist 28 years after I was dedicated to the Lord and preach from the pulpit from which my grandfather preached for 21 years. It is only of His goodness and mercy that such a wonderful event could take place. I can look back on many times of my life where God should have just taken me home. But He has allowed me to live for Him, and He has added bonus blessings along the way. God is good!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Give to Missions?

I have heard some awesome preaching on deputation. I even wrote an article entitled, "The Best Missions Message I've Ever Heard." Since I wrote that article, God allowed me to be in a missions conference at Tucson Baptist Temple in Tucson, Arizona, pastored by Brent Armstrong. The preacher for the conference was Dr. Austin Gardner, pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, and veteran missionary to Peru for nearly 20 years. I want to take just a minute and comment on how God used his preaching in a great way.

If I could summarize Dr. Gardner's preaching in one short sentence, it would be this: he helped us understand the proper motive for being involved in missions. It hasn't happened too often in my presence, but I have heard preaching in the past that really did everything but literally twist people's arms to give to missions. Bro. Gardner did not do that. Here is the heart of the messages that he preached: if we are in love with Jesus, then we will naturally have a desire to give to Him and to what He loves. That's it. That is why we go to the mission field, and that is why we give to missions- because we love Him. And really, it all starts with Him; because the only reason we can love Him is because He first loved us! I just love Biblical preaching!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Best Missions Message I've Ever Heard

Last night in the third night of the missions conference at Tri-state Baptist Temple of South Point, Ohio, Dr. Clayton Shumpert preached the greatest missions message I have ever heard. His text was Isaiah 53. He preached a simple yet powerful message on everything that Christ did for us and everything that Christ is to us. The premise of the message was this: "If you know Him, you will love Him; and if you love Him, you will serve Him." There was no arm-twisting or guilt-tripping in the message. He preached on Christ being the Sent One, the Suffering One, the Sin-bearing One, the Silent One (he opened not his mouth), and the Satisfying One (He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied...). He made a statement that was profound. "Any missionary who has surrendered to go to a mission field had to first come to a point where he truly appreciated all that Christ had done for him." Why are there so few surrendering to go? Perhaps it is because so many Christians today feel like they deserve what Christ did for them. And if we feel that way, there will be no true gratitude to the Lord for all that He did for us on the Cross. When we truly come to the point where we realize that without Christ we have no hope, I believe we will begin to serve Him in sincerity.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Moon-like are You?

It's interesting to me that in Genesis 1, the moon is called a light. Skeptics have tried to use this to discredit the Bible by saying ridiculous things like, "Ha! See, the writer didn't even know that the moon is merely a reflector of the sun, not a light in and of itself!" Obviously, God was referring to the function of the moon as the means of giving off light at night; He was not going into scientific detail about how the light is produced. God was referring to the fact that He made the moon to be a light in the darkness. The moon was made to reflect the light of the sun.

"Ye are the light of the world..." In the same way that the moon has absolutely no power to give off light apart from the sun, we cannot give off the light of the Gospel apart from the Son. 2 Corinthians 4:6 reads, "But God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts..." We are not the source of the light; we are merely reflectors of the light that has shined in our hearts. Isn't it interesting that in both instances, something that is not a light in and of itself is called a light by God? The moon was made to give off the sun's light to penetrate physical darkness; we as Christians were made to give off the Son's light to penetrate spiritual darkness.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Challenge in Cambodia

Stephen Benefield, the missionary with whom we will be working when we get to Cambodia, emailed me the top three questions that Cambodians ask him when he is soul winning. These three questions give us a glimpse of the formidable spiritual challenges that await us in Cambodia.

1. Do you give people a salary? This is referencing the fact that many Cambodians are not nearly as interested in receiving spiritual help as they are immediate financial help. This is understandable. These people do not know the Lord. They live in extreme poverty. It is natural for them to focus on the immediate, tangible need for money and other material goods. Please pray that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we might know how to help them look beyond their physical destitution and see their dire spiritual condition and their need for Christ.

2. If I become a Christian, can I still go to the wat? "Wat" is the Khmer word for temple, and in this context it is specifically referring to a Buddhist temple. This question helps us understand that many Cambodians are willing to add Jesus to their godshelf, but not many are willing to turn from their idols to serve the true and living God.

3. Is it true that when a person becomes a Christian they have to abandon their parents? This is perhaps the greatest spiritual challenge that faces missionaries in Cambodia. When Jesus said that He brought not peace, but a sword, this is exactly what He was referring to. Many Cambodians who have turned to Christ have done so knowing that such a decision would bring persecution and ostracism from their families. In the Cambodian mindset, to turn from the parents' traditions is to turn from the parents themselves. Pray that Cambodians who are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit for salvation will have the courage and spiritual strength to turn to Christ regardless of the threats of family, and that they will be living testimonies of God's grace in the sight of their families.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Walk at Liberty

Psalm 119:45- And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

Society today dupes us into believing that true liberty comes when we shrug off all rules, responsibility, and accountability. The guidelines and precepts found in the Bible are, according to secular spiritual skeptics, straightjackets that prevent us from living truly liberated lives. To them, freedom is found in living a life that is free of "traditional" rules and "outdated" codes of conduct. But are they right?

The verse quoted at the top of this article teaches us that true liberty is found when we seek to fulfill God's predetermined precepts. Imagine that! That freedom is found in obedience- that is almost paradoxical! But notice with me a couple of practical illustrations that have assisted me in understanding Psalm 119:45.

In any sport, it is the rules of that sport that give us the freedom to be able to enjoy the sport. In fact, without the rules, you don't have a sport. Although it is absolutely hilarious to imagine, golf would not be a very fun sport if your playing partner just randomly decided to tackle you in the middle of your backswing. By adhering to the rules of the game, we are able to fully enjoy the benefits of the game.

Imagine with me a math teacher who has a new, revolutionary philosophy of teaching that abandons the "traditional" rules of math and embraces a more "free" approach. This new teaching method would no longer bind students to the strict, rigid laws of mathematics, but would allow the students to just experiment with numbers, and write their own equations. After all, these students should not have to endure the shackles of the Pythagorean theorem, the quadratic formula, and other binding "traditions". They should be free to express their own approach to math. But would there really be freedom? Obviously, the answer is no. There would be bondage. The students would be bound to a perpetual state of ignorance. Interestingly, the rules of mathematics are the very agents that give us the freedom to learn.

1 John 5:3 reads, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandment: and his commandments are not grievous." The truth, regardless of what more "enlightened" individuals may say, is that God has established predetermined precepts and rules for life. Life that is lived within these guidelines experiences all the joys that God intended. A beautiful picture of this is marriage. Some of the greatest joys of human existence are found in the covenant relationship of marriage. This is exactly what God intended. With marriage comes companionship. With marriage comes security. With marriage comes the undefiled sexual relationship. With marriage comes children. With marriage comes wonderful memories. With marriage comes...rules. When the rules of marriage are broken (infidelity, failure to fulfill the God-given roles of husband and wife, etc.), the freedom that is found within the marriage is greatly hindered. And the same is true in regards to our lives and God's precepts.

And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Walk in Love

Ephesians 5:2- And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor."

Here we are given a very simple command: to walk in love. The love to which this command is referring is the same love found in 1 Corinthians 13, and the same love that is mentioned in Galatians 5:22. It truly is a simple command; and yet, it is a widely unheeded command.

The word "walk" is in reference to our way of life. This verse is not teaching us that there should be certain times when we love; the verse is teaching us that our very lives should be characterized by Christ-like love. I feel like I have achieved monumental spiritual victory when I have lived ten percent of my day in the love of Christ. But I am still missing the point of this commandment by ninety percent! God wants me to "walk in love."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Taking a Short Rest Before the Rest...

We are thankful that we will be heading home next week after a three and a half month long stretch of deputation meetings. Praise the Lord, before we began this particular leg of deputation we were receiving fifty percent of our needed support; now we are receiving just over seventy percent. Lord-willing, we will be home in Loganville, Georgia for a couple of weeks, during which time we will be with family and friends from our home church. When September arrives, our schedule will be full throttle until December. At that point, we will be within just a few months of leaving for Cambodia. I guess you could say we are taking a rest before the rest....of deputation.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"That Ye Love One Another"

I am thoroughly enjoying reading A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot. Her boldness for Christ and her devotion to Christ have greatly challenged me in my walk with the Lord. The following excerpt from her diary is an indictment on all of us who are co-laborers in the harvest field, and yet cannot love one another and serve peaceably with one another. I am not speaking of ecumenicism; I am speaking of like-minded, fundamental Baptists who serve the same God and hold the same convictions, but allow pride and the flesh to cause unnecessary and harmful strife.

After being told by a veteran missionary in India that missionaries "always do fall out with one another, and then make it up," this was her response, which she recorded in her diary:

"We have never lived like that (speaking of the workers at the Dohnavur Fellowship, the orphanage that she founded). We could not bear to live for one minute out of love with one another. I suppose this answer sounded simply silly to the one who knew so much better than I did about missionary life."

May God have mercy on us if we as co-laboreres in the harvest fields cannot learn to love one another, forgive one another, and serve peaceably with one another.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Don't Delude Yourself

The following is an excerpt from the book, A Chance to Die, The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael, by Elisabeth Elliot. The first quotation is by Elisabeth Elliot, and it is a description of how Amy Carmichael felt about "good" missionary meetings (for example, a meeting like our modern day missions conferences) back in England. The second quotation is taken directly from Amy Carmichael's diary.

"How could people at home write of a 'delightful' missionary meeting? Had they absorbed nothing of needs unmet, cries unheeded, griefs uncomforted? Did they attend for nothing but the tea and cake, the conversation, the chance to examine exotic curious, and then tell themselves that they were doing all that could be expected of them?" -Elisabeth Elliot

"Missionary work is a grain of sand, the work untouched is a pyramid...Face it. Look and listen, alone with God. Then go, let go, help go. But never, never, never think that anything short of this is being 'interested in missions.' Never, until this point is reached and passed, delude yourself into thinking that you care at all." -Amy Carmichael

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Cambodian Martyr's Story

The Cambodian Christians who were slaughtered during the Killing Fields over three decades ago were truly a perfect picture of true commitment to Christ; and, like those martyrs mentioned in Hebrews 11, the world was not worthy of them. And yet, their stories are seldom told in most churches and Christian circles today. The following is an excerpt from the gem of a book, Killing Fields Living Fields by Don Cormack. This is the account of a bold Christian named Haim, who, with his wife and children, would be martyred for their unrelenting faith in Jesus Christ.

Haim's entire family was rounded up that afternoon. They were "the old dandruff", "bad
blood", "enemies of the glorious revolution", "CIA agents". They were Christians.

The family spent a sleepless night comforting one another and praying for each other
as they lay bound together in the dewy grass beneath a stand of friendly trees. Next
morning the teenage soldiers returned and led them from their Gethsemane to their
place of execution, to the nearby viel somlap, "the killing fields".

The place was grim indeed and bore many gruesome signs of a place of execution. A
sickly smell of death hung in the air. Curious villagers foraging in the scrub nearby
lingered, half hidden, watching the familiar routine as the family were ordered to dig
a large grave for themselves. Then, consenting to Haim's request for a moment to
prepare themselves for death, father, mother, and children, hands linked, knelt together
around the gaping pit. With loud cries to God, Haim began exhorting both the Khmer
Rouge and all those looking on from afar to repent and believe the gospel.

Then, in a panic, one of Haim's young sons leapt to his feet, bolted into the surrounding
bush and disappeared. Haim jumped up and with amazing coolness and authority
prevailed upon the Khmer Rouge not to pursue the lad, but allow him to call back the
boy. The knots of onlookers, peering around trees, the Khmer Rouge, and the stunned
family still kneeling at the graveside, looked on in awe as Haim began calling to his son,
pleading with him to return and die together with his family.

"What comparison, my son," he called out, "stealing a few more days of life in the
wilderness, a fugitive, wretched and alone, to joining your family here momentarily
around this grave but soon around the throne of God, free forever in Paradise?" After
a few tense moments the bushes parted, and the lad, weeping, walked slowly back to his
place with the kneeling family. "Now we are ready to go," Haim told the Khmer Rouge.

But by this time there was not a soldier standing there who had the heart to raise his
hoe to deliver the death blow on the backs of these noble heads. Ultimately this had to
be done by the Khmer Rouge commune chief, who had not witnessed these things. But
few of those watching doubted that as each of these Christians' bodies toppled silently
into the earthen pit which the victims themselves had prepared, their souls soared
heavenward to a place prepared by their Lord.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Reflections at Salem

Last week I took my family to Salem, Massachusetts. When most people think of Salem, the first thought that enters their minds is "The Salem Witch Trials." However, we did not drive to Salem to investigate that rather insane chapter of American history. We went to Salem to learn more of the man after whom we named our son. We went to witness the very place from which Adoniram and Anne Judson sailed away nearly two hundred years ago as America's first foreign missionaries.

As my family and I made our way down to the wharf from which Adoniram and Anne Judson sailed back in 1812, I could not help but imagine what it must have been like on that day. They were so young, only twenty-three years of age, when they boarded the Caravan at the Salem wharf and said goodbye to their loved ones. This would be Anne's final goodbye, for in just a few years, she would be in the very presence of the One for Whom she was making this sacrifice. For Adoniram, over thirty years would go by before he returned to New England. During those thirty plus years, he would bury several of his precious children and his beloved wife Anne; he would faithfully spread the Gospel for seven years until he saw his first covert; he would spend nearly a year locked up in a death prison; he would have a new marriage with Sarah Boardman, but after only a few years her death would part them. And yet amidst so much suffering, God would use him to bring about the birth of the Burmese church and the translation of the Burmese Bible. He would also write the first Burmese-English dictionary, which would be used by generations of missionaries after him.

As I stood there and looked upon the waters of the Atlantic, I imagined the Caravan being right in front of me. I could see a gathering of people as they said farewell to this committed young couple. I could see their parents and their siblings weeping, comforting each other as they wondered when they would see their son, their daughter, their brother, their sister again. This scene played out in front of my eyes as I held my son, Judson. Then, my attention shifted from the distant past to that present moment. My focus changed from imagining a past event to examining the present state of my own heart. I thought, "Am I willing to pay such a price to obey and serve the Lord?" And then I wondered, "What is my level of commitment? Will I serve the Lord as long as it is convenient? What about when I am called to pay a price? Will I remain faithful then?" And then I looked at my children. "Will my son be a man who is committed to Jesus Christ? Will my daughter be willing to follow the Lord wherever He leads?" O, that I were more committed to the One Who died for me! O, that my children will accept Christ as their personal Saviour at the youngest age possible, and live a life that pleases Him! O, that God would use us as we live and labor among the Cambodian people! May we stay faithful to Him Who is ever faithful to us.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Friendship at a Laundry Mat

We thank the Lord for the opportunity we have had over the past couple of weeks to get to know a sweet lady named Nagwa. We met her at a laundry mat in Concord, New Hampshire. Linda gave her a Gospel tract, and she received it happily. We talked to her for nearly the whole hour we were in the laundry mat, and before we left she invited us to her home. She is a refugee from Sudan, and was brought up under the teachings of Islam. She has a four year old son named Mohammed and a two year old son that she calls "Baby." (I can never remember his real name.) We went to her house, and she welcomed us warmly. She made us some authentic Sudanese food and some Sudanese tea, which, I must say, is some of the best stuff I have ever had. She has become a good friend over the past few weeks, and we thank God for allowing us to meet her.

Through Nagwa we met another lady who is also a refugee from Sudan named Isol. She, like Nagwa, is a very sweet, personable lady, perhaps a little more shy than Nagwa. She has a little boy who is four days older than Judson name Obala. She has become a good friend as well.

Praise the Lord, both Nagwa and Isol came to Landmark Baptist Church of Loudon, New Hampshire last night, along with their children, to hear me preach and present our ministry. I preached on the love of God out of 1 John 4. 1)The Definition of God's love- God's love is unconditional and sacrificial. 2)The Display of God's love- Christ's substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection. 3)The Demand of God's love- for those of us who have received Christ as Saviour, there is a demand on our lives to live not for ourselves, but for Him Who died for us and rose from the dead.

By God's grace, I preached Christ crucified and risen from the grave. Both Nagwa and Isol listened. Please pray for these dear ladies, that the Holy Spirit will deal with their hearts about their need for Christ. Pray for us, that we can continue our relationship with them. God has really knit our hearts to them over the past couple of weeks.

The Killing Fields: A Perpetual Nightmare

To understand the people to whom you are ministering is absolutely vital. For us to understand the Cambodian people, we cannot separate the current state of Cambodia from the horrors that took place thirty-five years ago. In Cambodian history, the years 1975-1979 have been given the grim title, "the Killing Fields." It is estimated that over twenty-five percent of the population of Cambodia perished during those bloody years.

Some may ask, "What relevance does the genocide thirty-five years ago have in Cambodian ministry today?"

Consider the following thoughts. Three million Cambodians died in a span of four years. Among those were skilled workers, intellectuals, and the next generation of entrepreneurs. In fact, these types of people were prime candidates for execution, because the Khmer Rouge considered anyone with education to be the most serious threat to the communist revolution. With these untold hundreds of thousands of potential leaders, businessmen, and teachers being executed, a social vacuum was created, stunting the economic growth of Cambodia substantially, and creating a destitute society composed mainly of refugees with limited education. That is one of the reasons Cambodia is considered the poorest country in Southeast Asia. Ministering in Cambodia involves seeing utter and complete poverty every day. Many of the people have lost hope, and have accepted the fact that not only were they born in absolute destitution, but that they will die that way as well.

Cambodians are known for their serene, peaceful smiles. On the surface, Cambodians are some of the friendliest, most cordial people in the world. But festering beneath many of these facades are hatred, bitterness, and anger. If you have ever met a Cambodian aged thirty-five or older, most likely you have met someone who lost multiple loved ones during the Killing Fields. My mother and father-in-law lost three daughters during that nightmare. My mother-in-law will talk about it, but my father-in-law still has a serious struggle. In fact, one day we were watching a documentary about the Killing Fields in his house. In the documentary, a former Khmer Rouge soldier was being interviewed, and he very casually described that his job as a Khmer Rouge officer was to execute children. His description of his former atrocities was eerily nonchalant. My father-in-law walked in about that time, listened for a second, and in a rage demanded that we turn off the documentary, and then he stormed out of the room. Many Cambodians still struggle with bitterness because of what happened from 1975-1979.

The following are some sober comments made by various journalists throughout the years concerning the Killing Fields of Cambodia:

"...Cambodia has achieved a distinction which has so far eluded even those countries unfortunate enough to experience the full weight of terror brought to bear by even the most monstrous tyrants of our time; it is the first country to be transformed into a concentration camp in its Cambodia, ignored by the outside world, the unburied dead cry for vengeance, and the living dead for pity; and cry, both, in vain."

(Bernard Levin, The Times April 22, 1976)

"Having emptied and vandalised the cities, Angka Loeu (The Organisation on High, aka the Khmer Rouge) proclaimed the birth of a new 'Democratic Kampuchea' and proudly declared, 'More than 200 years of Cambodian history have been virtually stamped out'. It is difficult to dispute that claim. Within a few days, the Organisation on High had advanced faster and further than any other revolutionaries of modern times toward obliteration of an entire society."

(John Barron and Anthony Paul, Murder of a Gentle Land, Reader's Digest Press, 1977)

"Cambodia is synonymous with utter disaster, a blood stained experiment in social engineering which left over two million dead...The Khmer Rouge had a paranoid hatred for anything to do with love and its expression: husband and wife, children, family, culture and religion."

(Elizabeth Becker, When the War was Over, Simon and Shuster, New York 1986)

"The Khmer Rouge were Marxist fanatics. They laid to waste the golden harvest fields, transforming them into blood red killing fields."

(Haing S. Ngor, Surviving the Killing Fields, Chatto and Windus, London 1988)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Thought

Either Christ is the answer, or He is not. If He is not the answer, then what in the world are we doing? If He is the answer, then why in the world aren't we doing more?

Could it be that we really do not believe that He is the answer that this sin-sick world needs? Or are we so cold and indifferent in having the answer that we are perfectly content to do nothing with it?

I believe that Christ is the answer that this sin-sick world needs. I believe that His substitutionary death on the cross of Calvary was the propitiation for my sins, and not for mine only, but also for the sins of the whole world. I believe that His burial and His resurrection from the dead validate His claims that He is not just a man, but that He is God in the flesh. I believe that God desires to reconcile the world to Himself through salvation that is in Jesus Christ, and I believe that this ministry of reconciliation has been given to every believer. Christians, we do have the answer. Why are we doing so little with it?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me. -John 14:6

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Marks of a Fantastic Missions Conference Pt. 3

I believe that this mark of a fantastic missions conference could be the most important, outside of having the power of God upon the conference. A third and very crucial mark of a fantastic missions conference is connection between the people of the church and the missionaries. I believe the key in seeing this accomplished can be summed up in one word: time. If the people do not have time to get to know the missionaries, then they will not get to know them.

This begs the question, "Why is it so important for the people to have a connection with the missionaries?" Here are a few thoughts.

1. The best picture of missions for the people of a local church is the missionaries themselves. When people have the opportunity to get to know missionaries on a personal level, missions ceases to be an abstract idea, and becomes a personal involvement. I believe that some of the most missions-giving churches are those churches that have a missions conference in which the people have plenty of opportunities to get to know the missionaries.

2. When the people of the church and the missionaries establish a good connection at a missions conference, the also establish a good prayer base, and this is a two-way street. Not only are the people better equipped to pray for the missionaries (because the missionaries are no longer just faces on a prayer card, but real people with real needs), but the missionaries are better equipped to pray for the church.

3. The more time the missionaries have with the people, the better the opportunity is for the missionaries to make an impact on the church- especially on the young people of the church. *On a side note, I believe it is vitally important to expose the teenagers to every missionary that comes through the doors of the church. If a missionary is just in for a Wednesday night service, it would be great if the teenagers could come and see the missions presentation before going to the teen service.

4. Having been in a few meetings in which a good connection was not made between the people and the missionaries, I can tell you that in those situations the entire atmosphere of the conference is a bit insipid. In order for an exciting, vibrant atmosphere to be present in the missions conference, there must be ample opportunity for the people of the church and the missionaries to establish a solid connection.

There are many venues that provide great opportunities for the missionaries and the church members to get acquainted and build solid friendships. Having a meal before each service that is open to all who want to attend is a great opportunity. Strongly encouraging the people to visit each display both before and after the services can also be rewarding. Allowing the missionaries to be a part of the various Sunday school classes on Sunday morning can be very beneficial. If at all possible, having all the missionaries in for the entirety of the conference, as opposed to having each family in for one night only, is the best way for the people to get to know the missionaries.

These are just some thoughts.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marks of a Fantastic Missions Conference Pt. 2

After discussing this topic with my wife, we came to the conclusion that another mark of a fantastic missions conference is organization. While great missions conferences may vary in different areas, one area they all have in common is that they are organized.

On several occasions, I have received a letter, an email, or a packet over a month before the conference began that gave the schedule of the conference (what time to arrive, where to meet, what night I was presenting our ministry, activities, etc.). It is difficult to put into words what that does to the heart of a missionary! It builds a spirit of anticipation within my heart, and it sends me the message that this church is serious about missions, and that they are eagerly anticipating our arrival. It shows that the missions conference is not just being thrown together at the last minute.

I am not suggesting that a church that does not send the schedule to the missionaries in advance is an unorganized church. We have been a part of some great conferences that did not send the schedule in advance; but they did have a schedule!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Marks of a Fantastic Missions Conference

We have had the opportunity to be in numerous missions conferences over the past eight months. I want to use the next few entries into this blog to discuss some common characteristics that I have found present in those missions conferences that were fantastic, not just mediocre.

Characteristic #1: There is an evident spirit of anticipation amongst the pastor and the people.

You can just sense it! From the moment we step out of the van and shake that first person's hand, whether it be the pastor, a staff member, or a lay person, a spirit of anticipation and excitement is present. Here is the key: this spirit of anticipation and excitement does not happen by accident. It is the result of months of prayer, planning, and promoting.

Pastor, make the missions conference the highlight of the year for your people. If possible, make it several days in duration. When the conference is just a one or two day meeting, it is difficult for the missionaries to get to know you and the people. Hopefully, these missionaries that you invite will be an extension of your church for decades to come, and they will be partners with you in the ministry. The more time you have with them, the stronger that bond will be.

A spirit of anticipation will not be built by simply going through the motions. Begin praying that God will truly empower the conference. Begin planning, and ask God for wisdom in how each day will be scheduled. Finally, begin promoting the missions conference a couple of months in advance, and encourage every member to become a part of reaching the world with the Gospel through his/her faith promise commitment. I believe these steps will help in having a truly fantastic missions conference.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Some Deputation Thoughts

The following are just a couple of thoughts that helped me when we were on deputation from 2009-2011. There are varying views on how to approach deputation, and there are good men who hold to all of these views. I certainly don't claim that my view is in any way superior to anyone else's; these are just some approaches that proved to be successful for our family.

1. It is not necessarily a bad thing to be in one church for the a.m. and p.m. services. I found that it gave me a better opportunity to know the people and spend time with the pastor. I enjoyed the Sundays when the pastor required me to be there for the whole day. Usually, I would teach Sunday school in the morning, and preach and present in the evening. Also, most of the time in these situations the pastor would take us out for lunch, and we would get more time to get to know him. I really enjoyed these types of meetings, because if this church is going to be a partner with us in ministry for decades to come, I would like to spend at least a little quality time with the pastor and the people. Sometimes when a missionary is only involved in one service, it seems like a "roll in, roll out" situation with no real connection. Not always, but sometimes. You just have to feel the situation out. There are times that it is obvious that the pastor only wants you in for one service. In those situations, you don't want to push yourself on him to stay for an additional service.

I would say that our meetings were broken down into three categories:

  • Regular meetings for only one service, either Sunday morning, Sunday evening, or Wednesday evening- about 38 percent of these churches partnered with us for financial support.
  • Regular meetings for both morning and evening services on a Sunday- about 50 percent of these churches partnered with us for financial support.
  • Missions conferences- about 81 percent of these churches partnered with us for financial support.

2. My preference was to stay in a missions conference from the first service until the final service, without missing a day in between, even if I was not scheduled to do anything. Why? First, it gave us an opportunity to really get to know the pastor and the people. I made good friendships all over the country with people that we met at missions conferences. I never felt that I was wasting my time by staying for the entire missions conference. I loved walking away from a church with the feeling that we had gained true partners in ministry, not just support money. Second, it gave my family a few days in one place where they could get some rest and get into a routine, at least for a few days. This was especially helpful to my wife, since we traveled with two children under the age of three. Third, when we were in a missions conference from beginning to end, we felt that we made some wonderful memories with the pastor, the people, and the other missionaries. We were in many conferences where a real spirit of camaraderie was developed amongst the missionary families. Fourth, it gave us an opportunity to serve and be an encouragement to the pastor and the people. Fifth, spending more time with people naturally endeared them to our hearts, which makes it easier for us to pray for them. Sixth, the more time we had with the people, the better opportunity we had to influence them for the cause of Christ. We were in some conferences where I believe God used us to really help some people take steps in the right direction.

These are just some thoughts.

But Also in Power

Paul, by the moving of the Holy Ghost, penned these words to the Thessalonian believers: "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achai."

Incredible. These Thessalonian believers became what every pastor or Sunday school teacher wants his converts to become. Notice the progression: we see that they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; then they became followers (disciples) of Paul and of the Lord; then they became examples to the churches in Macedonia and in Achai of what a church should be. That is what we call fruit that remains!

But how did this happen? It certainly wasn't an accident. Another question: why don't we see this more often in our own ministries? I believe this passage in 1 Thessalonians 1 gives us some vital keys to having a vibrant, growing ministry.

1. The first key is that the gospel did not go to these Thessalonians in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost (v. 5). This is huge. How many times have I gone to the door while soul winning, said all the right things, had the perfect smile on my face, and yet walked away knowing that nothing was done to further the Gospel in that person's life. Now, I recognize that not everyone is ready to trust Christ as his Saviour. I also recognize that every person has a free will to choose whether or not to trust Christ, even when the Holy Spirit is working in that person's heart. But I have to admit that many times I have brought the Gospel in word only, and not in the power of the Holy Spirit. Little time was spent in prayer in the morning hours, begging and pleading with God for His power.

2. The second key is that these Thessalonians saw what manner of men Paul and Timothy were. (v. 5b) In other words, Paul and Timothy lived godly lives. They lived what they preached. And not only that, but they lived in such a way that the Thessalonians could see them. It is not enough just to live a godly life; we must live our lives in the plain view of other people, so that they can see how the Christian life is to be lived. It is directly related to one of the qualifications of the bishop. Can you guess what it is without reading ahead? Hint: it is found in verse 2 of 1 Timothy 3. The answer is "given to hospitality." This literally means, "fond of guests." I believe that the lives of Paul and Timothy were open books for the Thessalonians to read. I believe if Paul had an office, he would have had an open door policy for new believers to come and and ask questions about the Christian life. Of course, there must be a balance. We must not do the work of the ministry at the expense of our families, and I am not implying that. But we must be willing to tear down unnecessary walls of selfishness so that we can mentor new believers and model the Christian life. Again, Paul said, " ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." Paul modeled the Christian life so that the Thessalonian Christians could see it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Four-Month Stretch

We leave Saturday for a four-month long stretch of traveling without returning to Georgia. Here's where we're going:

Faith Baptist Church- Pikeville, TN- May 1-6 Missions Conference
Gospel Light Baptist Church- Rogers, AR- May 9- All Day
Calvary Baptist Church- Connersville, IN- May 12
Grace Baptist Church- Attica IN- May 23-26 Missions Conference
Bible Baptist Church- Jacksonville, AR- May 29-June 2 Camp Meeting
Landmark Baptist Church- Louisville, KY- June 6-11- Presenting Sunday, and staying for their Vacation Bible School for the rest of the week.
Bible Baptist Church- Norwich, NY- June 13, a.m. service
Bible Baptist Church- Sydney, NY- June 13, p.m. service
Emmanuel Baptist Church- Hooksett, NH- June 16-20 Missions Conference
Sequoia Baptist Church- Visalia, CA- June 21-25- Flying out for their teen camp
First Baptist Church- Caldwell, NJ- June 27- All Day
Community Baptist Church- Groton, CT- July 11-16- Presenting Sunday, and staying for their
Vacation Bible School for the rest of the week.
Community Baptist Church- Pascoag, RI- July 18
First Baptist Church- Monticello, IL- July 25 All Day
Southside Baptist Church- Effingham, IL- August 1- a.m. service
Greenland Baptist Church- Beecher City, IL- August 1- p.m. service
Maranatha Baptist Church- Rantoul, IL- August 8- All Day
Calvary Baptist Church- Urbana, IL- August 11
Calvary Baptist Church- Gays, IL- August 15- a.m. service
El Vista Baptist Church- Peoria, IL- August 15- p.m. service
First Baptist Church- Clinton, IL- August 18
Go home for a breather before the busy fall schedule- August 22

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Have you ever hit the "ignore" option on your cell phone when someone was trying to call you?

Webster defines "ignore" in this way: "to refuse to take notice of."

What are some reasons we choose to hit that "ignore" option on our phones? Here are a couple of thoughts:

1. We are simply too busy to take the call. Now, this does not mean that we dislike this person who is trying to call us. In fact, we will probably call this person back at our convenience. But basically what we are saying when we hit that "ignore" option is that this person is simply not important enough to interrupt our activity. Again, we may not necessarily have a dislike for this person who is trying to call; he is simply not important enough to cause us to stop what we are doing and take his call.

We may ignore his call, and five seconds later receive a call from someone who has great influence upon us, who is important enough to cause us to stop what we are doing and hear what he has to say.

2. This is a person we are trying to avoid. We simply do not want this person's input or influence. We have no intention of calling him back, because we do not want to speak with him-period.

I'm sure there are many more reasons to hit "ignore", but I believe these are the top two reasons.

It causes me to think about a verse in the Bible, where Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in..." This verse was written to a church, a body of believers, not to the unsaved. Jesus was saying, "Hey, remember me? Your Saviour. Your first love. I want to have access to your life. I want to be a welcomed guest in your home. I want to be the number one influence in your life. But I'm an outsider."

Here is reality. Jesus stands and knocks on the door of our hearts. We have a choice: will we open the door, or will we just ignore?

Have you ever hit "ignore" on Jesus? Is it because you are just too busy to respond to Him? There are other influences that you answer, influences that are truly a priority in your life. But when Jesus is trying to get your attention, you are not willing to stop what you are doing to answer. It's not that you dislike Him; you just don't hold Him in high enough esteem to allow Him to interrupt your schedule.

Or is it because you are trying to avoid Him? You know He is going to correct you for some sinful habits. You know He is going to make some changes. You know He is going to make you uncomfortable. You hear Him knocking, but you pretend that you're not home. You ignore Him.

I have ignored Him too many times, but I don't want to repeat that terrible mistake. I hate to be ignored, especially by someone whom I have helped. Christ has helped me more than any person. How could I ignore Him?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Be Good to Him

(Aunt Marty is pictured here, sitting down. My Aunt Linda is standing with her, wearing the red sweater.)

I always loved Aunt Marty very dearly, although my time with her was always limited. We always lived several hours apart, and only saw each other at family gatherings every couple of years. But she was a part of my life. She saw me grow from infancy to manhood, and every memory I have of her is a precious one.

I knew she was a Christian, and that she loved the Lord; but because I never had much time to spend with her, I never knew the depth of Godly wisdom that she possessed. But I saw a display of that wisdom on February 7 of this year. It was the last time I would ever see her in this world.

We were in her home town, Columbia, South Carolina, for a meeting on deputation. Had she not been in such poor health, she would have come to hear me preach that Sunday. She so badly wanted to see my children, Elisabeth and Judson. So, after church, we stopped by for a quick visit. She was struggling that day- it was everything she could do to sit up in her chair. But she was elated to see the children. After a few minutes, it became obvious that we needed to leave so she could rest. She kissed the children goodbye, and I helped my wife take them out and put them in their car seats.

"I'm gonna come back in and have a quick word of prayer with you, Aunt Marty," I said as I walked out of the room with one of the children in my arm.

My wife stayed in the van with the kids, and I walked back in the house, not knowing that this would be my last visit with Aunt Marty- and not knowing that she was about to say something that would impact my life.

As I entered the room, she was doing something I had never seen her do- she was crying. She knew her time on this earth was short. I sat beside her and prayed with her, holding her hand. After I said "amen", she gripped my hand as firmly as she could.

"You have such a beautiful family, Chad," she said.

"I know, Aunt Marty. God has been good to me."

The next four words she spoke will stay with me as long as I live.

"Be good to Him."

O, that I could live my life for the sole purpose of being good to Him! What power is in those four words! When I reflect on my short life, so many days have been spent doing the opposite of being good to Him. Those days are the darkest of my life. The best days have been those in which I have endeavored to put a smile on His face. O, that I would heed Aunt Marty's advice every moment of every day! May I live my life to that end.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

(Repost) What is Success in Soul Winning?

I recently heard a preacher give an account of over 300,000 people being saved in India in one ministry in one year. I must confess, I was a little bit skeptical when I heard that report, but I hoped that my skepticism was wrong. The next morning I went soul winning with this preacher, and I quickly learned that my skepticism was justified.

At our first door, we woke up a young man in his mid-20's. I typically try to be considerate of people, since I am an uninvited guest at their doorstep- especially when I have woken them up! But this preacher was not feeling very considerate that morning.

"Well, we have woken you up this morning!" he said.

"Yes- I worked late last night," replied the young man.

"Well, give me two minutes to show you how you can go to Heaven when you die- you want to know that, don't you?"

"Umm, sure, yeah..." the young man hesitantly replied.

The preacher gave a quick overview of the Gospel, and what happened next blew my mind. Without asking the young man if he understood what had been presented, and without asking him if he would like to receive Christ, the preacher jumped right into, "Bow your head and close your eyes if you would." (I thought, "Well, I guess he is going to pray and ask God to give him understanding.) Then the preacher said, "Repeat after me: I know I'm a sinner...I know I deserve hell...Jesus, come into my heart and save me so I can go to Heaven. Amen."

I must confess, I peeked at the situation while the prayer was taking place. The young man's face was a face of unconcern, and it was obvious that he was just doing this to be polite.

The preacher began giving me tips for soul winning after we left the door: Never ask them if they are 100% sure that they will go to Heaven- if you do that, they have an opportunity to say "no." Always say, "You want to go to Heaven, now don't you?" They have no other choice but to say yes.

The next night, he used his soul winning experience as a sermon illustration. "That young man was SAVED!!!" he shouted while pounding the pulpit. Many amens followed. I sat disgusted, because I do not believe that he was saved. Why? Because a couple of necessary components of salvation were missing; namely the conviction of the Holy Spirit and true repentance.

If the 300,000 Indians were saved in the same manner as that young man, I'm afraid for their souls. Many fundamentalists have reduced salvation to saying yes to a couple of questions and praying a little prayer. I believe they do this so that they can claim to be successful soul winners. But what is true success in soul winning?

I find it interesting that some pastors will use Adoniram Judson as a sermon illustration, praising his life and ministry in Burma; and yet, had those pastors lived in Adoniram Judson's day and had they been one of his supporters, they would have dropped him like a bad habit, because Adoniram Judson did not see his first convert until his seventh year in Burma.

I believe that success in soul winning comes in several forms. Sometimes success is simply sowing the seed. Sometimes it is watering the seed. Sometimes it is reaping the fruit, and having the privilege of leading someone to Christ. Ultimately, we are not the soul winners; the Holy Spirit is.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Where we're going...

The next few weeks have us going all over the place, praise God. What a blessing to see much of the United States before we leave for four years.

Providence Baptist- Augusta, GA
Colonial Baptist- Rogers, AR
New Life Baptist- Dalton, GA
Harbor Baptist- Charlotte, NC
Gospel Light Baptist- Rogers, AR
Faith Baptist- Fairless Hills, PA
Layton Chapel Baptist- Spring Lake, NC
Promised Land Baptist- Gastonia, NC
Cornerstone Baptist- Richmond, KY
Eastside Baptist- Greeneville, TN
Gap Greek Baptist- Monticello, KY
49th Street Baptist- Anniston, AL
Bible Baptist- Gainesville, GA
Faith Baptist- Pikeville, TN

We praise the Lord for opening these doors for us. Please pray for safety and a closer walk with the Lord as we travel.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Consecrated Lives of Jeff Jupp and William Borden

The word "consecrate" literally means "to place into the hand." When a person consecrates his life to the Lord, he is placing his life in God's hands. I want to describe how God used this word "consecrate" to direct my family to Cambodia.

Bro. Jeff Jupp came to Lancaster Baptist Church during my sophomore year at West Coast Baptist College to present his ministry at the missions conference. The presentation dealt with a little, obscure country in Southeast Asia that I had never even heard of- the country of Cambodia. Bro. Jupp's zeal and passion, along with his stirring presentation, made a profound impact on me. Weeks went by, and I could not stop thinking about Cambodia. Bro. Jupp's son, John, was one of my classmates in college, and was a casual friend at the time. I approached John one day and told him of the profound influence his father had had on my life, and asked him if his father would be interested in my going to Cambodia on a missions trip and working along side him for a few weeks. John's response was, "Absolutely! My dad actually wants someone from the college to come and help him. Just write him a letter and let him know what is on your heart."

Thrilled at the possibility of going to Cambodia, I wrote Bro. Jupp a letter introducing myself and offering to spend a few weeks with him in Cambodia when he arrived. However, Bro. Jupp never read that letter, because just a few days after the writing of that letter, the Lord saw it fit to take Bro. Jupp and his ten year old son home. They were traveling on deputation in Arkansas when they were involved in the fatal wreck. In one day, my friend John lost his father and his ten year old brother. My heart was broken for him, and questions began arising in my heart. "Why, God? Bro. Jupp was going to do a great work for You! What is the purpose in this?" For months I asked this question; and for months I wondered why God had burdened my heart for the Cambodian people, and then taken the very man whose testimony was used to burden my heart in the first place. Little did I know that Romans 8:28 was about to become very real to me.

About six months after the home-going of Bro. Jupp, I attended the Spiritual Leadership Conference in Lancaster, CA, under the leadership of Pastor Paul Chappell. Pastor R.B. Oulette preached the closing sermon, and he preached on the topic of consecration. His final two illustrations that he used to close the sermon were the lives of Bro. Jeff Jupp, one of his good friends, and William Borden. I had never heard of William Borden until that night; and God would use the testimonies of both of these men to profoundly impact my life.

William Borden graduated from high school in 1904 at the age of sixteen. His parents were the owners of the Borden Dairy Company, and William was to be the successor of the family business. For his graduation gift, his parents sent him on a trip around the world: he visited various parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe. While on this trip, William, already a devoted Christian, felt God was leading him to be a missionary to the foreign field. He felt a special burden for the Muslim Kansu people of China.

He attended Yale University, and during his time there he was used of God to spark the fires of revival amongst the student body. He had the testimony of a young man of God with wisdom and spiritual maturity beyond his years. After doing graduate work at Princeton, he went to Egypt to study Arabic in preparation for the Muslims in China.

While in Egypt, at the age of twenty-five, he contracted spinal meningitis. Before he ever planted a church, before he every translated a piece of Scripture, before he ever discipled a new convert, he died at the young age of twenty-five.

As I listened to the story of that young man's life, I still asked myself, "Why? Why Bro. Jupp? Why William Borden? Why did they die, when they were going to do so much?" The answer came at the end of Bro. Oulette's telling of the story.

After William Borden's death, his Bible was found. In the front cover, these three phrases were found: "No reserves. No return. No regrets." At Borden's funeral, twelve other men surrendered to take his place on the mission field.

When I heard that William Borden's death was instrumental in the calling of twelve other men, I realized that those twelve men might have never gone had it not been for the life and death of William Borden. Immediately my mind went to Bro. Jupp and his son. I knew that Bro. Jupp did not die by accident. There was a purpose. And I knew in my heart that at least a small part of that purpose involved me. That night, I consecrated my life to the Lord, and surrendered to go to Cambodia. That was nearly five years ago, and I am just as stirred today as I was that night. Praise be to God.