25 Years of Ministry

I saw a blog post for the 25th anniversary of Bible Gateway yesterday and gave them a shout out. I’m celebrating an anniversary of sorts myself this month. In January 1993 I announced a call to preach. I’m not sure of the exact date and taking a look at a January ’93 calendar didn’t help. That doesn’t really matter though. 25 years ago I told our church family that God was calling me into ministry and I was ready to answer that call. So here’s a brief recap of what God has done in my life since then. Continue reading

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The Irony of Missions

missionsI remember listening to missionaries tell stories and share slide shows – not Power Point projections, actual slides on carousels. They were from “the mission field” a place with terrible roads, lack of electricity and unsafe drinking water. They worked with people that looked, dressed and spoke differently than we did. What I knew about missions as a child is that they were far away, in difficult to reach places, and we needed to fund missionaries to print Bibles and build churches. I also hoped, at a young age mind you, that God didn’t call me to the mission field because I didn’t want to go. Continue reading

Have You Heard the Good News?

Screenshot 2013-06-09 at 1.26.46 PMJohn the Baptist sent his own disciples to Jesus, asking if he was the one promised or should they wait for another. Jesus responded “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers  are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” (Luke 7:22) Have you heard the Good News? And if so, who told you? Continue reading

Fred Luter’s Call for African-American Missionaries

Fred Luter with Tom Elliff

Fred Luter with Tom Elliff

Fred Luter is the first African-American to serve as SBC president.  But of the 4,900 missionaries serving the International Mission Board, only 27 are African-American.  That’s only 1/2 of 1%, despite the fact that 1 million of the SBC’s 16 million members are African-American.  There are far more Hispanic and Asian missionaries in the field, and Luter would like to promote change.

“A lot of our African American churches are in the ‘hood,” said Luter, who pastors Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La. “It’s a daily fight every day. [People ask me], ‘Why do I need to go to Africa, Asia or Europe? We need to get people saved in this community.'”  “It’s a both/and approach,” Luter said. “We need to reach the people in our neighborhoods and get African Americans out on the foreign field.”

Read this article in full at Baptist Press.  

Here’s Our Chance

Today is Halloween, which happens to be one of a long list of things Christians disagree about.  At our house we carve a Jack-o-lantern and hand out candy, relegating the holiday to a children’s event only.  We have good friends that turn off all their lights, go to bed early, and complain that people still knock on their door.  Christians disagree on celebrating Christmas, voting in elections, serving in the military, consuming alcohol, and even the use of caffeine.  How Christians feel about _______ always depends on which one you ask.

Hurricane Sandy may go down in history as the worst weather-related disaster in our nation’s history.  This is our chance to be the body of Christ.  More than teaching rhetoric, Jesus taught his disciples to go and do.   Continue reading

Just Ask the Gardener

not really our gardener

There are certain things you get used to.  When you grow up with electricity in every room, and with hot and cold running water, its easy to forget that most of the world’s population does not have those things.  The same is true in ministry.  On any given day, I will have students in my class from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Thailand and South Korea.  I have had students from Japan, China and Russia, but none right this minute.  Most days I don’t even think about it as this is “normal” where I live and work.

One of the blessings of the ministry I work in is the unique blend of individuals God has brought together to do the work.  My wife and I came from Georgia, but we have friends from Colorado, New Jersey and Alaska.  One couple came to serve with us after spending 16 years on the mission field in Nigeria.  Every person that’s here left behind a church that misses them; all of our fellow missionaries were church deacons, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders and such like back home.  I listened to a good sermon tonight about the three parables in Luke 15 delivered by our gardener.  Yeah I know, right?

If one of my students had a question from scripture, he or she could easily ask our campus minister or Bible teacher.  But would you take the same question to a bus driver?  I happen to be an ordained minister and a school bus driver.  Our gardener plants flowers and designs landscapes 6 days a week, and pastors a small Presbyterian church on the weekend.  He is just as qualified to answer Bible questions as our basketball coach – who has also traveled to Rwanda to teach English and to other countries doing medical missions.

Stephen Tracksel said “I am not a great man of God, I am a man of great God.”  The next time you turn on the tap or flip a light switch, try to remember where all blessings come from.  And the next time I wave at the gardener, I will try and do the same.  May we all be instruments of His will.