Rediscovering the Power of the Gospel

One of the heartaches and tragedies of churches and Christians is the fighting among ourselves. Somehow, division has become part of the DNA of Baptists, especially independent Baptists. Yet, division tends to stunt growth. We discover in Galatians 2:1-16 that division stalled the growth of the early church.  A confrontation occurred between Paul & Peter because of the treatment a new people, Gentiles. But Paul did not want differences to slow down the Gospel.

Tom Messer spoke on this topic, Rediscovering the Power of the Gospel, Monday night at Baptist Bible College for the 2016 Fellowship Week of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. Theme of the conference is ‘ALL IN.’ (You can read Tom’s bio below.)

Sometimes people get stuck in the past. But our past is a point of reference not a place of residence. We need to discover something that moves us forward. The only thing that will move us in that direction is a deep commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tom shared three things about the Gospel from Galatians 2:1-16.

The Nature of Gospel Power. Paul criticized the Galatians because they embraced a ‘different Gospel’ (Galatians 1:6-9). But you can’t expect a different Gospel to have the same results as the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. The simple Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful.

The Gospel is the only thing that truly changes the lives and eternity of people. When a person accepts the true Gospel of Jesus Christ into their life, it plants a divine nature that changes people from the inside out. It does not just change behavior. It changes the very core of a person. It is the “power of God unto salvation.”

To add to or subtract from the Gospel diminishes the power of the Gospel. If we add or subtract from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can’t expect the same results. The power rests in its exclusivity and sufficiency. We live in a time when many preach that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the only way to Heaven. Others think it needs some help – add a few rules or restrictions. But the Gospel is enough to change lives.

The Hindrances of Gospel Power. In Galatians 2 Peter and Paul wrestle with the outworking of the Gospel with people who are culturally different. One hindrance to the gospel was theological clarity. It is important to really know what the Gospel is. We get into trouble with our methodology when we have a lack of theological clarity. We tend to be better at methods than theology. Church leaders and churches need to get back to really understanding the Gospel.

Another hindrance was insecurity of leadership. Peter was the true leader.He was good on the gospel but he allowed his cultural shadows to keep him from connecting to the people who were different, Greek Christians. It is easy to allow our past to prevent us from growing. Church leaders that don’t have gospel clarity tend to manipulate others to agree with them. Worship style, Bible versions, Music taste are things that can divide Christians. We tend to demonize what is different or idolize what we like. But not one of these has the power that the Gospel has. We need to repent, fall in love with God and go deeper in our understanding of the Gospel.

Secret to Gospel Power. Our tendency is to shrink our bandwidth. We think if we’re not totally alike, you can’t be part of us. But the more firm grasp you have of the gospel, the more flexible you become about everything else.  You stop arguing about the lesser issues. If you get the Gospel right, you broaden your bandwidth. If you don’t get the Gospel, you narrow your bandwidth.

How do you get that? Paul accused Peter that he did not “walk uprightly according to the gospel.” They were not living the Gospel. In other words, the Gospel puts out a line and you measure everything by the line of the Gospel. It’s like a bunch of people trying to measure 36 inches with our hands. We would all have a different measurement. And we would probably try to compare our measurements. But to truly see if we are right, we need to get a yardstick and measure. Instead of measuring other ministries by my own measurement, I should measure others by the Gospel.

According to Paul, when you do that you discover true freedom (“liberty”) and fellowship (“right hand of fellowship”). Don’t demonize or idolize, but fall deeply in love with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You can also read some of my articles about the Gospel: Clean Blood – Ebola & the Gospel, The Gospel in your Hand, Stevie Nicks & the Gospel.

Tom Messer has been at Trinity Baptist Ministries in Jacksonville, Florida since 1982. In 1992, he became senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church and president of Trinity Baptist College. Dr. Messer enjoys spending time with his family, studying the Bible, reading books on the Christian life or church growth, eating barbecue or seafood, and playing golf. He’s also a fan of basketball, football and baseball.

 

Baptist Bible College celebrates 66 years of ministry in 2016. As a 1982 alumnus, I am pleased to celebrate this event at my alma mater. These have been some of my thoughts of the Monday, May 2 evening session.

Please share your thoughts.

When will Jesus Return?

In 2001 Christian radio host Harold Camping stated that Judgment Day would take place on May 21, 2011 and the end of the world would take place five months later on October 21, 2011. Most Christian groups did not accept his predictions. However, quite a few around the world did accept his findings. Some followers of Camping gave up their jobs, sold their homes, stopped investing in their children’s college funds, and spent large sums of money promoting Camping’s claims.

In mockery, some atheist groups hosted ‘Rapture Parties’. One group gathered  and released human-shaped helium balloons to simulate souls rising to heaven while playing The Doors’ song ‘The End’ on a boombox.

When it didn’t happen, Camping adjusted his numbers and said May 21 was a ‘spiritual’ judgment, and the end would still be on October 21. Finally, in March 2012, Camping ‘humbly acknowledged’ that he had been misled, that his attempt to predict a date was ‘sinful’, and that his critics had been right in pointing to the text we will read today.

Camping is not the only one to try predict the end of the world and return of Christ and probably not the last. However, had they heeded Jesus’ words in Mark 13:24-33, they would not be deceived by all the predictions.

As you read this passage about Jesus’ return, you will find three truths regardless of all the crazy predictions…

1- Jesus is coming again (Mark 13:24-27)

Jesus’ disciples thought that the destruction of Jerusalem would be the end of the world. But Christ sets them straight and shows that the day of Christ’s coming and day of judgment are after a terrible tribulation. Perevious signs were given, like earthquakes & wars. But the ‘Tribulation signs’ were in heaven. Jesus says this will mark the end and His return.

Jesus distinguishes prophecy from guesswork. Jesus gives a sure prophecy – He will return. He gives a basic timeline to work with, while NOT giving us a date and time. Why doesn’t Jesus just come out and throw out a date? His emphasis is clearly that the date and time is not so important as how we consistently live our lives in the knowledge that it is coming at any time. But in His His infinite knowledge He doesn’t want anyone to misunderstand, He will return.

2- Jesus’ return is soon (Mark 13:28-29)

Jesus uses a parable of a fig tree to explain His return. Just like a fig tree shows signs in the spring that summer is near, we are to look around and see signs that the end is coming. We don’t know at which exact day or hour, but we can tell when the season is coming.

It is interesting that the fig tree is a symbol in the Bible of Israel. Earlier, Jesus cursed a fig tree because it had leaves, but no fruit. This represented Israel’s works without spiritual fruit. Now he tells His disciples that a fig tree with leaves will be a sign of His soon return. Could this be a  hint that Israel will be a nation again? I think it is.

In AD 70, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. In 135 AD, was the end of Jewish national life. A pagan temple was built on the Temple Mount and the land was renamed Palestine – after the Philistines. The nation lived under a curse for almost 2,000 years. But on May 14, 1948, Israel was declared a sovereign state. The fig tree has come back to life. The rebirth of the nation of Israel may be a sign that His coming is soon.

3- Jesus’ return gives hope (Mark 13:30-33)

Jesus does appear to give a hint of the time of His return. He says ‘one generation’ will witness these events. The ‘one generation’ to which the Lord was speaking could not refer to the disciples because that generation has long since passed away. Some think it refers to Jews as a race. The Greek word for ‘generation’ can also mean ‘race’ or ‘family.’ I personally think it is the ‘one generation’ that sees the signs He’s already mentioned – the regathering of the Jews into a nation. This could be the generation that sees Jesus return. Something to think about.

Regardless, the fact that Jesus will return gives all Christians hope. Whatever we are going through, it will all be okay one day. Whether we go in death or in Christ’s return, the believer in Jesus will be free from all the problems of this life. Won’t it be wonderful?

But even though we know the end is coming and it ma be soon soon, we do not know the day nor hour. Jesus said our job is to watch and pray. He may not come back in our lifetime, but we still need to be ready. Will you be ready when Jesus returns?

You can read some of my other articles about the return of Jesus: Ready or Not, Here He Comes, Signs of the Times, The Great Tribulation.

 

Real Men and Women Pray

If Christians spent as much time praying as they do grumbling, they would soon have nothing to grumble about.

J. Edgar Hoover (former FBI Director) once said, “The spectacle of a nation praying is more awe-inspiring than the explosion of an atomic bomb. The force of prayer is greater than any possible combination of man-controlled powers, because prayer is man’s greatest means of trapping the infinite resources of God.”

Jesus saw fault in the Pharisees’ prayers because they were hypocritical (Matthew 6:5) and in the pagan’s prayer because it was mechanical (Matthew 6:7). So, He shows us how to pray right in Matthew 6:9-15. We call it the ‘Lord’s Prayer.’ But it is actually the ‘Disciple’s Prayer.’

What should we pray about?

1. God’s Glory

In prayer, God’s concerns are first priority, and our own needs are second and committed to Him.

  • His Name

Because of Jesus, we can call God “Father.” Though all are God’s creation (Malachi 2:10), not all are His children (John 1:12). Only salvation makes us a child of God. To“hallow” His name is to make it set apart, separate, and special.

  • His Kingdom

Jesus’ kingdom will come at His second coming (Matt. 24:27). But His kingdom comes personally to people by conversion (Matt. 18:1-4) by Christians living by His commands.

  • His Will

It is foolish to resist it, wisdom to discern it, and wise to do it.  Though God is sovereign, it is clear that He also commands us to exercise his our will in certain areas. Pray believing prayer makes a difference. Pray that God’s will becomes our own will. Pray that His will prevails on earth as it does in Heaven.

When our life (and prayers) are self-centered, we are concerned with: 1- Our own name – embossed on letterhead, headlines in news, defend it when it is attacked. 2- Our own empire (kingdoms) – bossy, influence and manipulating to boost our ego. 3- Our own will – always wanting our own way and getting upset when it is finished. But we should be concerned with God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will.

2. People’s Needs

Putting God first will not eliminate our needs. To not pray about them at all is as great an error as to allow them to dominate our prayers.

  • Daily Bread

‘Daily Bread’ is symbolic of our physical needs. It is not only a petition but an affirmation that God has takes care of us. We are to rely on the Lord one day at a time. God responds to our needs day by day.

  • Forgiveness

Our failures put us in God’s ‘debt’ since we own Him complete obedience. Sin is a moral and spiritual debt to God that must be paid. Because sin is our greatest problem, our greatest need is forgiveness. This forgiveness is from a ‘Father’ not a ‘Judge.’

We are to forgive because it is the character of righteousness, it reflects God’s own gracious forgiveness, it frees our conscience of guilt, it benefits the whole family of believers, it delivers us from God’s discipline, it brings God’s forgiveness. The emphasis is that those who have received forgiveness will forgive others. This is not forgiveness for salvation, but forgiveness for fellowship.

  • Protection from Temptation

‘Deliverance’ and ‘Lead me not’ is the negative and positive of the same request – to be free of evil. God will deliver us if we call on Him.

Martin Luther said, “We cannot help being exposed to the assaults, but we can pray that we may not fall and perish under them…You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

I heard a story that reminds me of the importance of prayer. Shortly after Dallas Theological Seminary was founded in 1924 came to the point of bankruptcy. All creditors were going to foreclose at noon. In a payer meeting with Dr. Chafer, Harry Ironside prayed, “You own a cattle on a thousand hills. could you sell some and sent the money?” While praying a tall Texan in cowboy boots went into the business office. “I just sold two carloads of cattle in Fort Worth. I’ve been trying to make a business deal but it fell through. If eel compelled to give it to the seminary.” The secretary took it to the office. Dr. Chafer took the check. Exactly the amount of the debt. He turned to Ironside and said, “Harry, God sold the cattle!”

You can read my other Sermon on the Mount articles: Life Redefined: Sermons from The Sermon on the Mount.

Some of my other articles about prayer include: 9 Facts You Should Know About Prayer,Prayer – Talking with Someone You Can’t SeeGod, Prayer and my Stolen iPhone, The Prayer of Jabez.

The Great Tribulation

EndofDays-Image5The doctrine of the Tribulation is important and should be understood by every Christian. There is more space in the Bible given to this 7-year time than the 1,000 year Millennial kingdom, heaven, hell, or just about any subject except salvation and the promise of Christ’s second coming. It is mentioned at least 49 times by the Hebrew prophets in the Old Testament and at least 15 times in the New Testament.

So what is the Tribulation? Here is a concise chronology:

  1. Antichrist. A world leader (Antichrist) will make a peace treaty with Israel. This world leader will unify all governments and through his Prophet, all religions. Only those with his ‘mark’ will be able to do commerce.
  2. Evangelists. God will send 2 evangelists (Moses & Elijah) into the world. Possibly through their efforts, 144,000 Jews will be saved and help evangelize the world. In the middle of the 7 years, the evangelists will be killed then resurrected. All will see it.
  3. Temple. The Antichrist will rebuild a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and sacrifices made. But he will suddenly proclaim that he is God and his Prophet will demand worship of his image in the Jewish Temple. Jews will run and hide in the mountains surrounding Jerusalem.
  4. Terror. Continued worldwide catastrophes, natural and supernatural, will reduce the world population. Earthquakes, meteors, floods, sickness, drought, demonic attacks will plague the people of the world.
  5. Return. Armies of the world will converge near Jerusalem in the Valley of Megiddo. Jesus will appear from Heaven with his angel army and destroy the armies of the earth, including the Antichrist.

Mark13:14 talks about one event in the middle of this 7-year period (3 ½ year mark). It is called the ‘abomination of desolation’. In simple terms, it is an act of sacrilege that results in widespread destruction. Mark tells us to understand this in light of the prophecy of Daniel (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11).

‘Abomination’ refers to pagan idolatry and sacrifice (Deuteronomy 29:16-18; 2 Kings 16:3-4; 2 Kings 23:12-14). Daniel’s ‘abomination’ refers to pagan idolatry that would occur in the Temple and cause the Temple to become ‘desolate’ or empty. The first fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy occurred in 168 BC by Antiochus Epiphanes. He sacrificed a pig to Zeus on the sacred Temple Altar. This act incited the Maccabean wars.

A future fulfillment is yet to come. Jesus’ language in Mark 13:14 is interesting. The Greek word used for ‘abomination’ is neuter’ while the word used for ‘standing’ is masculine.’ We don’t catch the meaning in English. But listen to it this way: “When you see the abomination that causes desolation stand where he does not belong….” The abomination is ‘he’, not ‘it.’

In the middle of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will proclaim himself God. The False Prophet will set up His image (possibly a statue) in the Holy of Holies in the rebuilt Temple. When that happens, the Jews are told to run from the city because destruction will be next.

I believe this passage is given so that those living during the Tribulation will have some instruction on how to live and survive. Bible prophecy will be coming to life right before their eyes.

But what about us? If it is true that Christians go through this time of Tribulation, what can we apply to ourselves?

Objections to Obedience

Jesus instructions include running when the ‘abomination of desolation’ takes place (Mark 13:14-23). The state of urgency brought by the ‘abomination of desolation’ was not only a sign to run, it was also a test. People would have to choose to obey Jesus’ warning and run from Jerusalem. But some might have difficulty. Jesus speaks of four obstacles that might prohibit their escape. Today, we have the same obstacles that keep us from obeying Jesus.

1- Possessions. Time will be short. A person on a housetop will have to move as if escaping a burning building, taking the outside stairs instead of going through the house to pick up valuables. Laborers in the field must never go back to the end of the furrow to retrieve an outer garment. To let possessions reduce the urgency by a split second is to flirt with destruction.

2- Family Obligations. Pregnant women and nursing mothers will be unable to respond as fast as necessary because of the burden of children. In danger, love often overrules the natural instincts of survival. Families refuse to leave behind the elderly, pregnant, young or sick. Sensitive to the reality of mother love and family loyalty, Jesus can only sigh ‘woe’ for pregnant women and nursing mothers whose delay will mean the difference between life and death.

3- Physical Nature. Because the seasons are out of human control, Jesus warns of winter weather. The flight from the city might be blocked. Again, timing is critical.

4- Public Pressure. In time of tribulation, desperate people grab for false hopes. Anyone who promises salvation becomes a savior and public opinion will say, “Here He is!” False Christs will fool people because of the human tendency to hold onto the thinnest thread of hope. Spectacular signs and wonders performed by false Christs add to the deception.

Are your ready for Jesus’ return? Are you living a life of obedience? If not, run to Him without delay. Don’t let any of these obstacles keep you from obedience.

You can also read my other articles about prophecy: 3 Signs of the End Times, The Signs of the Times, What will happen next? Will you be left behind?

The Signs of the Times

I remember during the Gulf War, many pastors preached on prophecy. It seemed like we could be at the end of time. I’ve learned that times of war tend to do that. Because we feel unsettled, many Christians feel like the end must be near. When World War I broke out, Christian leader C.I. Scofield speculated that it was the start of Armageddon. Many Christians said the same thing during World War II. This was repeated during Israel’s 6-day war. And now with all the conflict in the Middle East, many preach about Babylon, the second coming of Christ, and the battle of Armageddon.

I have mixed feelings about this trend. On one hand I think it’s good to look forward to Jesus’ second coming. It’s good to live our life in light of that hope. On the other hand, living our life too far into the future can lead us to neglect life in the now. And when our ‘predictions’ are wrong, we look like a fool in the eyes of a critical world.

So it with caution that we look at Mark 13. Mark 13 records what is called Jesus’ Olivet Discourse. It is by far the most difficult passage in the book of Mark. Along with its parallels in the other Gospels, it is one of the most difficult texts in the New Testament because of its prophetic language and because of the nature of prophecy itself (multiple fulfillments culminating in a final fulfillment).

Following a discussion about the destruction of the Temple (Mark 13:1-4), Jesus shares some signs to the end of time (Mark 13:5-13). Yet, rather than giving details about the future, Jesus is more interested in preparing His people. So, I will do the same.

Jesus warns us not to panic as the end nears. The signs of the times He gives have been happening through the centuries. Yet, like labor pains of a pregnant woman, as the end gets closer, these events will occur more often and strengthen in intensity.

Jesus lists three categories of events:

  1. Religious cultism, such as false prophets who claim the authority and power of Christ’s name for their predictions. This is a natural result of man’s search for meaning outside of God’s will and Word.
  2. Social upheavals, such as wars and rumors of wars. These are natural to human nature that is ruled by self-interest.
  3. Physical catastrophes, such as earthquakes and famine. These follow the imbalances of natural law in the precarious ecological system of the universe.

Jesus mentions 5 things that will happen as the time draws near to the end:

(1) Persecution by the Religious. It is estimated that 60% of those who profess Christ are under persecution. It is estimated that more Christians, worldwide, have been martyred for the cause of Christ in the last century than in all the previous 19 centuries put together.

(2) Witness to the Gentiles. In spite of persecution and possibly because of persecution, the gospel is being spread. ‘First’ is not a declaration of chronology but of priority. Preaching the gospel is more important than securing one’s own safety. The Gospel is the priority.

(3) Filling of the Spirit. Not if the disciples would go on trial, but when they go, they are not to worry about defending themselves. The Holy Spirit would give them God’s peace and the words to say. Jesus is not referring to preaching, but to defenses before councils and governors.

(4) Betrayal by Families. Persecution and pressure can be so bad, that families will turn against each other.

(5) Hatred from the Public. Christians will be hated by all people. Have you noticed that people today are tolerant of about every belief system but Christianity. When you stand up for Bible truth or the exclusiveness of the Gospel, you are labeled an arrogant bigot.

So, what is the Christian response as the end of days comes closer?

  1. Don’t be Afraid. Just as false teachers come and go, so do worldly crises. Even when the world’s situation gets worse, God is in control. It is as if Jesus were saying, ‘The worst possible thing you can imagine will happen and will be repeated many times. But when it happens, don’t be afraid, don’t assume this is the end, don’t follow false prophets.
  1. Stay on Mission. Both apostles and later disciples were not to escape into apocalyptic fervor nor become passive observers of the final events. Our calling is to be faithful witnesses to Jesus and the rule of God throughout the difficult series of events God brings into being.
  1. Guard Yourself. In verse 9, Jesus shifts from a large, global viewpoint to the personal situation of the disciples. The disciples must have been rocked to their roots to hear all the warnings of Jesus. So, he encourages them not to fall away under the pressure and persecution.

We live in exciting times. Is this the ‘end of days’? I don’t know. But I know that during times of turmoil and terror people are more open to the good news of Jesus Christ. As we watch war and terror broadcast into our homes, many people feel the world is out of control. But we have a message of hope that’s real. It’s a message that’s anchored in God. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.”

You can read some of my other articles about the future: 3 Signs of the End Times, What Will Happen Next?, Will You Be Left Behind.

Bahamas Day 4: One More Going to Heaven

IMG_3586Today (Thursday) was the last ministry day of our missions trip with Champs Missions in The Bahamas. It started out with pineapple or coconut tarts. These are like foot long rolls with stuffing inside. Yum! Yum! Very filling.

Because it was raining this morning we ended up going to the only real mall on the island – Mall at Marathon. We walked around and watched a group of school students perform a drum line. It was great! And missionary Rick Schuessler was able to get his vehicle inspected and registered.

IMG_3544The afternoon was spent going door to door. We were in a very poor section of town. We met many nice people. Met a pastor of a Haitian church. And led one young man to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Our missionary, Rick, will follow up with him and help him grow in his new faith in Christ.

IMG_3564On our way back to the hotel, we took a side trip to a nice beach. The locals call it “Jaws Beach” because some think it was the location for some of the movie shots of the movie ‘Jaws’. But I haven’t found anything online to let me know if this is true. Regardless, it was a beautiful beach.

In the evening we visited Atlantis. This is a luxurious resort on its own small IMG_3616island, Paradise Island. It is accessible by toll bridge. We visited after-hours and saw rays, sharks, and many fish. The Atlantis Bridge Suite is the most expensive suite in the world at $25,000 a night. We ended our trip with a stop at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Throughout our walk-around we passed expensive yachts and saw millionaires. But the experiences I would rather spend the day with the poor of Nassau than the very rich. We have been able to see many blessings during our week.

It was a long, hot day. But we were able to see one man come to Christ. Tomorrow is a day of shopping and snorkeling. It will be a fun day to spend time together.

You can read my other blogs about our missions trip to The Bahamas: Bahamas Missions Trip 2016.

Bahamas Day 3: Speaking in Creole

IMG_3498I am midway through our missions trip with Champs Missions in The Bahamas. Weather today was a little cooler – low 80s and breezy. But still a wonderful day!

We start everyday with devotions and prayer. Rick Schuessler shares some great insights into life on the mission field that can be translated into life at home. His emphasis is ‘missions is relationships.’ And we have made some great relationships.

IMG_3494Another Day at School. Our early part of the day was spent at Teleos Christian School. This is our third day in a row that we have had some contact with these children. We are starting to get to know their names and a little about them. Remember, missions is all about relationships. We had lunch at the school. One lady makes hot lunch for everyone. Today the choice was barbecue ribs, fried chicken or curry chicken. Side dishes are rice and cole slaw. I had curry chicken. Hot, spicy and delicious!

Car Trouble. I didn’t spend much time at the school because I drove around the island with Rick trying to get his vehicle inspected. Some things here are the same as in U.S.  – like department of motor vehicles and long lines. Here’s what we did: First stop – Vehicle was inspected, passed, but determined that it was a business vehicle so needed to go to the main inspection spot. Second stop – Vehicle inspected, did not pass because of brake lights. Third stop – NAPA auto store to get brake lights, but had no tools to get burned out lights removed. Fourth stop – Rick’s friend, Darren, had tools and we removed burned out lights. Fifth stop – Returned to NAPA and bought brake lights. Sixth stop – Returned to Darren’s and replaced brake lights. They work! All this and the car still needs to pass inspection. Maybe tomorrow?! Just another day in the life of a missionary.

IMG_3503Historical Stops. We visited the ‘Queen’s Staircase’ and Fort Fincastle. The fort was built in 1793 (along with others) in case Napoleon of France attacked Bahamas since it was British. A102-foot staircase was hand carved out of solid rock as an escape from the fort to the ocean by about 600 slaves. It took 16 years to complete. It was later named after Queen Victoria who abolished slavery when she became queen in 1837. They were ready for an attack that never came. Are you ready for the attacks against your life?

IMG_3520Bible Studies. We finished the day going to Bible Study. Rick & Traci Arquette attended New Testament Independent Baptist Church and watched an interesting movie, ‘Ordinary Guy.’ I remember that movie from the 80s. The rest of us (Perry, Eglinsdoerfers, and myself) attended a men’s Bible study at New Maranatha Baptist Church. This is a Haitian-speaking church. Pastor Lukens Sentil invited me to speak. I did a Bible study on the Character Qualities of Joseph, husband of Mary. I spoke and a member of the church interpreted in Creole (form of French). Eleven men attended. All the men were from Haiti.

Joseph. Just as God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, He chose Joseph to adopt Jesus and be His father-figure. God did not need a man to birth His Son, but He did place a man in His life to rear His Son. Some of His character qualities: (1) Righteous (just), (2) Faith, (3) Self-control, (4) Hard worker, (5) Worshipped God, (6) Loving, (7) Wise.

Our discussion revealed that men struggle with the same issues: passion, thoughts, jobs, etc. Though our language was somewhat of a barrier, our hearts were knit together. Tonight was a real treat for me. Joining men from two churches, two countries, and two languages. We prayed for the peace of God, love of Jesus, and unity of the Holy Spirit for our lives, family, and churches. Amen!

You can read my other blogs about our missions trip to The Bahamas: Bahamas Missions Trip 2016.

Bahamas Day 2: Run, Witness, Play

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Morning run view at sunrise.

It is our second day of our missions trip with Champs Missions in The Bahamas – April 3-9, 2016. While yesterday was rainy, today was gorgeous – sunny with a warm, tropical breeze. I was able to take a run along the beach today. I could do this everyday.

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Our team ready for the races.

We started the day helping a Track & Field Competition for smaller private schools. Since we worked with Telios Christian School on Monday, we knew some of the students and coaches. The event was held in the
Bahamas National Stadium
. This was home to the World Relays. It was a lot of fun. Perry Cisco was the ‘official’ starter. Kindergarten through high school competed in running events such as 100 meter dash, 400 meter run, etc.

IMG_3465

Perry starting the 100 meter dash.

In the afternoon we went door-to-door visiting in one of the poor neighborhoods. We met many people and invited them to a nearby church, Freedom Baptist Church. We also had the opportunity to share the gospel. People in the Bahamas are very religious. Even in the public school, the Bible is taught as a subject. However, most do no have a personal relationship with Jesus. I talked with a woman 82 years old who cannot attend church because of her age. But she knows Jesus as her personal Savior. Perry talked a long time with a man who had lots of questions but didn’t make the decision to trust Christ as Savior. We left some material and pray that he and others continue to search for the truth. Religion isn’t enough. You must have a relationship.

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Rick & Traci handing out chalk.

In the evening we went to a neighborhood park that is near New Maranatha Baptist Church. This is a new restart of a Haitian group of believers. We will be meeting with the men on Wednesday night. Thanks to Vicki Schmucker we were able to give the children sidewalk chalk to draw on the blacktop. Then we gave them candy suckers left-over from our Easter egg hunt at Faith Baptist in Adrian. The kids were loving it. Even the older teen boys quit playing basketball so they could draw pictures on the court. It is a way of building friendships with the neighborhood. We might come back and visit a second time. But even if we don’t, we have helped the future outreach of this new church by making positive connections with families and children. So many Christians forget that friendship is an important part of evangelism.

IMG_3479This playground is the area that I had my iPhone stolen (read about it here). New Maranatha Baptist Church is by the alley the man ran away from me. So, this area has a special place to me. People down here still remember that event. They simply say it was a miracle I got it back. The pictures you see in my Bahamas blogs were taken by the same iPhone.

We ended our day with a snack – frozen daiquiris. These have no alcohol and are delicious. My favorite is Miami Vice – strawberry and pina colada (coconut) mixed. Three nights in Bahamas and we have eaten these two times. You have to try them.

You can read my other blogs about our missions trip to The Bahamas: Bahamas Missions Trip 2016.

 

 

Bahamas Missions Trip 2016

missions-trip-to-bahamas-1-728My church, Faith Baptist Church, took a missions trip to The Bahamas  with ChampsMissions on April 3-9, 2016. We had six attend: Rick & Traci Arquette, David & his son, David, Eglinsdoerfer, Perry Cisco, and myself.

This was our second missions trip to The Bahamas. We had such a great time the first time, I thought I would write a blog about our adventures on this trip. I hope you will take a missions trip. Champs Missions & Rick Schuessler do a great job.

Many people snickered when we said we were doing a missions trip to The Bahamas. This place is usually associated with luxury rather than need. But if you step a few streets beyond the tourist areas, you will experience extreme poverty. The Bahamas is really a group of 700 islands in the Caribbean. Our destination, Nassau, is the capital. This island (New Providence) has a population of about 250,000 on about 80 square miles. There is a tremendous need for the gospel and spiritual growth of new believers. We are so happy to have a small part in their spiritual life.

Day 1: In the Classroom

Day 2: Run, Witness, and Play

Day 3: Speaking in Creole

Day 4: One More Going to Heaven

Bahamas Day 1: Serving in the Classroom

missions-trip-to-bahamas-1-728I am on our church’s second missions trip with Champs Missions in The Bahamas – April 3-9, 2016. This time I thought I’d blog updates of how each day went. My hope is to encourage others to make a missions trip. And also to log our week so we can remember what we did this week. It’s great to serve the Lord in this place.

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Our Team: David, Rick, David, Perry & Traci.

Our flight with Jet Blue was great. Because it was inexpensive, I anticipated it to be pretty rough. But it was fine. We arrived at Detroit Metro Airport early (3am) and the lady at the counter opened up early to check us in. We had a layover in Boston, then a 3+ hour flight to Bahamas. Our only problem was waiting on the runway at Nassau for an open gate. But, I would recommend Jet Blue.

Since we arrived late on Sunday, we just went back to check in to El Greco Hotel. It’s not luxurious, but clean and close to the beach. We drove around the island and saw some of the poverty. Then we went back to the motel, got our t-shirts and went to bed a little early.

Our first full day, Monday, was spent at Teleos Christian School. It is a ministry of New Testament Independent Baptist Church. They have 165 students. All students in The Bahamas wear uniforms.

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Pastor David preaching in chapel.

We arrived in time to hear Pastor David Adams preach in chapel. The students have been on Easter break and this was their first day at school. Pastor David preached from Daniel 5 when King Belshazzar of Babylon had a party while Persia was attacking his capital. The king had a false sense of security. Rather than preparing for battle, he threw a party. And the king had no sense of holiness. While drinking, he called for the dishes of the Jerusalem Temple brought in and used them to toast to his gods of gold and wood (money & possessions). Pastor David commented about The Bahamas: “Our nation is not going to be judged – it is being judged – because here is no respect for God or the things of God.” I think the same can be said of America. The king had gone too far. God’s hand appeared on the wall to inform him that his kingdom would soon be gone. You never know when your time is up. So be ready!

On a side-note: When a student appeared to be sleepy, Pastor David had him stand up so he could wake up. I thought it would be a good idea back in America when I preach, but he said it probably wouldn’t work. But it would be fun to try.

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Traci & David in the classroom. Last year our team paid for and laid the flooring in this room.

We spent the rest of the day helping in various classrooms. The school is an A.C.E. school. Each student works on ‘paces’ at their own pace. Some of the classrooms were more organized than others. At times, it seemed like organized chaos. Perry Cisco became a lead teacher when his teacher left for the day. Also, I think Traci Arquette was a little challenged. As a school teacher, she wanted to do more but not able to. She ended up helping in kindergarten.

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Lunchtime at school.

It rained most of the afternoon, so we were unable to do our ministry at the park in the evening. So we toured the island. We saw the home where Anna Nicole died. We also stopped by the park where I had my iphone stolen last year. Missionary Rick Scheussler wants to purchase a church building to restart a Haitian church. We stopped and listened to wonderful music in Creole from some young people. The building is going to need a lot of work.

We arrived back at the hotel and are ready to get some sleep. Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be a big day of Track and Field. Several Christian schools will gather to compete at a local stadium. We will be helping them and building relationships.

For the first day, this has been wonderful. It always surprises me that, even though we are in the same place, the ministry is so different. Last time we were with a big group of about 20. This time we are only 6. But it’s been wonderful. Stay tuned for more updates.

You can read about my stolen iPhone here: God, Prayer and My Stolen iPhone.

You can read my other blogs about our missions trip to The Bahamas: Bahamas Missions Trip 2016.