See them with compassion

Tonight at church I taught from Matthew 9:35-38.

Matthew 9:35-38 NKJV
35  Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
36  But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
37  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
38  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

We can learn a lot from Jesus about how to bring in a harvest of souls. Jesus went to all the cities and villages. Everyone deserves an opportunity to hear the gospel.

So why do we often pass by so many places and people, opportunities given for us to share, without sharing? Why do we neglect preaching the gospel to so many? Why are billions in our world without a gospel witness 2000 years later?

Jesus also healed people with every kind of illness and disease. He met the physical and temporary needs of people as well. Why do we so often neglect meeting the needs of those we can obviously see?

Verse 36 shares a key to understanding the motivation of Jesus–compassion. When he saw the people he loved enough to die for, he was moved with compassion. The reason we don’t share the gospel, and the reason we don’t meet the needs basically boils down to the fact that we don’t love them and don’t have compassion for them. We must see them with the compassion of Jesus.

When we see them with compassion we will work the harvest, and we will pray for the Lord to send more workers into His harvest. There truly is a great need. How many in our world would become followers of Jesus if someone would share with them about Him?

On the way home from church I stopped for gas, and I saw an arrest by the Niota police and a McMinn County deputy. They had two young men and a young lady. I watched as they uncuffed the young men and let them go, then as they hauled the young lady away.

I wondered what was going on, so as I passed one of the young men, I asked. He shared an unfortunate story with me, and I walked back toward my truck. Suddenly I realized the Holy Spirit of God was prodding me to go talk to these young men. I was moved with compassion toward them.

I walked over and began the conversation, and I told them it was a divine appointment. I spent about 45 minutes sharing the Gospel and answering their questions. They were not ready to surrender to Christ tonight, but they were interested. I found out they were from the Rossville/Chickamauga, GA area, so I told them I had a friend who was the pastor of Oakwood Baptist (Darrell Henry). One of them said, “Oh man, that is right next to your place, man. This can’t be a coincidence. That is so weird. His friend is the pastor at that church.”

With God there are no coincidences. The Harvest is ready. Where are the Laborers? They will come when they look out at the multitudes and SEE THEM WITH COMPASSION!

Pray for Steven and Chris that they will become committed followers of Jesus, surrendering to Him as Lord.

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We Just Can’t Help It

Today when I picked up my children from school, my middle child, Sophie, who is in the 5th grade excitedly told me, “I saved somebody at school today Daddy.” A little taken aback, I inquisitively replied, “You mean you led someone to faith in Christ today?” Looking in the rear view mirror I could see her smiling and shaking her head yes.

Both proud and excited, I said, “Tell me about it.” She proceeded to tell me the girls name, Savannah Moses. She is a classmate, and she used one of the tracts we had picked up at the Southern Baptist Convention this summer (Your Life: A New Beginning). These tracts are produced by NAMB (North American Mission Board). I use them frequently, and keep them stocked up at the church. It is the same tract she has seen me use personally.

She said she just sat with Savannah and read through the tract on the playground, and when they got to the prayer, she said that Savannah wanted to pray it, and she did. She also said that she filled out the information follow up form inside the tract, but unfortunately she didn’t bring it with her. I asked her to get the address and phone number of the girl next week so we can follow up. Hopefully this will be the first of many who are brought into the family of God because of her obedience and willingness to share.

I heard one time that less than 5% of Southern Baptists ever attempt to lead someone to Christ. Sometimes it is difficult to step up and share. We all often get nervous and come up with plenty of excuses to delay the witness, which we rarely ever complete if we don’t do it immediately. The truth of the matter is that if we really LOVE JESUS, we would share the Gospel naturally!

In Acts, Peter and John were commanded not to teach nor preach of the name of Jesus. They would not stop. In fact they could not stop themselves. In Acts 4:20 they replied, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”(NKJV). They just couldn’t help talking about Jesus!

When you really love someone, you can’t help but talk about that person. He or she is a constant subject of conversation. When we really love Jesus we cannot help but speak about Him. Loving Jesus means loving others enough to tell them about his atoning work of salvation. It should happen because, WE JUST CAN’T HELP IT!

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Another Missed Opportunity

I ran across a funny illustration about the importance of sharing your faith. God is no respecter of persons. Jesus’ atoning work is available for all who will believe and trust in him by faith. It is our responsibility to give them the opportunity by sharing the Good News, by telling them about The WAY!

I hope you enjoy this clip by comedian Bob Smiley: Hot Tub Cartoon

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Missed Opportunities

One of the things that always upsets me when I give it much thought is missed opportunities, especially those missed opportunities to glorify God through evangelism.

We recently visited Hilton Head Island, and we spent a couple of days in Savannah, GA. It was a great family trip. We really enjoyed the scenery and the family time. While we were there, I experienced a few of those missed opportunities.

I’d like to share one of them that that keeps coming to mind. It happened like this:

We had gone down the elevators to the river walk area sort of behind the City Hall building. As we walked along, I noticed a young African American man making flowers and different trinkets out of cane leaves (or some type of leaf that favored corn leaves). It was interesting art work, and it really had my interest.

As we passed him about the time I turned my eyes away from him, he came walking up to try to hand a piece he had made that looked like a rose to Levi. Apparently he noticed Levi’s demeanor and realized his special needs and had some compassion for him. It really caught me off guard, and it took a few seconds for me to realize what was happening, but I thought it was sweet of him (Often I forget that my son looks and acts different enough for people to be immediately aware that “something is different”).

We tried to explain to the young man that Levi just isn’t interested in that type of thing. If he can’t throw it or make a noise with it, to him it is useless! However, this young man was persistent, and finally one of the girls took it from him to give to Levi later. We thanked him and he returned to his bench to continue work.

I went back and gave the guy a tip, and told him we really appreciated the generous gesture. I noticed he looked pretty rough, and I wondered as I walked away what his life was like, if it was a rough one. A few minutes later that I thought, “I missed a great opportunity to tell him about the free gift of salvation God has given us through Christ.”

We had already paid for a carriage ride through the city, and I knew if I went back to talk to this young man, I would miss this ride with my family. So I let it pass 😦

I’m not sure if this young man knows Jesus, but if I get back to Savannah, I’m going to try to find him at that same location. If any of you see him, will you please help me make up for my missed opportunity? Someone please tell him about The Way to God through Christ!

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Sharing the Way

I have tried my best over the years that I have followed Jesus to be sensitive to opportunities He gives me to share the Gospel. I wish I could go back and redo many of those opportunities I have left behind, but I cannot! God forgive me.

Most often I share the Gospel with people who come to me after a preaching/teaching session or when I knock on their door through intentional saturation evangelism (Attempting to share the gospel with every person in a geographical area such as a neighborhood or street or city).  Occasionally an unusual instance occurs, and this is what happened last week while I was attending the SBC in Orlando:

Ivy, Sophie, and I walked down the street from our hotel to eat at a place called Pizza Aroma. I really didn’t want Pizza again, but they insisted, so after looking at their display (which looked GOOD), I gave in.  We ordered sat down and ate. It was delicious!

While we were eating a young Spanish speaking man walked into the restaurant. As he passed our table I greeted him with an Ola. He responded with the same. As we exited the establishment a few minutes later he introduced himself, and we had a brief Spanglish conversation.

He appeared to be leaving, but I was prepared to share a tract with him. I had at least one Spanish tract in my pocket. I asked him if he would take it and read it. He accepted, and after quickly perusing the first page or two, he turned and looked desperately at me and said, “I need.”

Seizing the opportunity, I asked him if he would like to sit and talk and pointed to some outdoor tables. He accepted, and I sat and shared with Him about “The Way” provided by Christ for us to be pardoned from our sins and given eternal life.  As I shared about Jesus, he shared more about his life, and he eventually prayed a prayer of repentance and faith, surrendering to Christ as Lord. We exchanged information, and I hope he will remain in touch.

Please pray for Geraldo Antinelli that God will lead him to a become a part of a great church which will help him to grow to a mature, reproducing believer.

Click here if you would like to know how to become a Christian

If you are already a Christian, you must SEIZE the opportunities God gives you to share the Gospel. It may be the only chance for salvation some people ever have!

SHARE THE WAY!

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My Take on the GCR

I am excited about the opportunity next week to attend the Southern Baptist Convention 2010 in Orlando, FL. It will be my first opportunity to attend in several years, so that only adds to the excitement. Unfortunately I was not able to be there last year when the vote to establish the “Great Commission Task Force” was passed. While, I still believe Southern Baptists are one of the most effective organizations of evangelical churches in cooperatively fulfilling the Great Commission, I was surprised to see so many opposing the idea of researching our effectiveness as a cooperating body. Why would anyone burdened for the unreached peoples of the world not want to do whatever it takes to more effectively seek to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8)?

On May 3rd when the report was released, I read it early in the morning, and I saw nothing that concerned me, but only a few encouraging steps and a reaffirmation of the task that our Lord set before his followers as he prepared to ascend to the Father. The Report (Read the GCR Report Here) is composed of seven components. I will make a brief summary statement on each:

Component #1 of the report states: GETTING THE MISSION RIGHT–As a convention of churches, our missional vision is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.

This statement is clear and concise and it states what should be the purpose of every church in the world. Any group or organization that fails to support this component cannot claim to be an evangelical church.

Component #2 of the report states: MAKING OUR VALUES TRANSPARENT—All Southern Baptists are encouraged to embrace and adopt these core values:

  1. CHRIST-LIKENESS
  2. TRUTH
  3. UNITY
  4. RELATIONSHIPS
  5. TRUST
  6. FUTURE
  7. LOCAL CHURCH
  8. KINGDOM

How could anyone oppose the idea of Christians everywhere adopting these important values for believers? Each of these should be common themes preached regularly from Bible-Preaching Pulpits! Each person’s personal walk with Christ can have either a positive or a negative effect upon those who question the authenticity of the Gospel. As someone once said, “Your life may be the only Gospel some people ever read.” They must see Jesus in it!

Component #3 of the report states: CELEBRATING AND EMPOWERING GREAT COMMISSION GIVING–Thus, we will call upon Southern Baptists to give as never before, to support the Cooperative Program as never before, and to celebrate every church’s eager and sacrificial support of Great Commission Giving at every level.

If Southern Baptists are going to fulfill the Great Commission within this generation, we must give more to efforts to reach those who are unreached. I was shocked in Seminary to learn how little of our percentage of giving through the Cooperative Program is actually used to support church planting efforts. It disturbed me, and I knew then that something needed to change in regards to that system. The percentage of giving some state conventions are withholding seemed like thievery. I applaud the GCRTF in addressing this issue, and I hope cooperating churches within the SBC give more generously to all cooperating efforts, but GREAT COMMISSION GIVING must INCREASE dramatically!

Component #4 of the report states: REACHING NORTH AMERICA–we will ask Southern Baptists to unleash the North American Mission Board for a new era of leadership and service to Southern Baptists, pushing back against the lostness of the United States and Canada.

Some have stated that NAMB exists to subsidize state programs, but I have always felt that the main reason for NAMB is to plant churches and establish witnessing opportunities in those communities in our great nation which have little access or virtually no access to the Gospel. The restructuring hopefully will provide more opportunities for established churches to send out Great Commission families to new mission fields in our own nation where they can establish churches which will also be mission sending centers!

Component #5 of the report states: REACHING UNREACHED AND UNDERSERVED PEOPLE GROUPS WITHIN NORTH AMERICA–we will ask Southern Baptists to entrust to the International Mission Board the ministry of reaching unreached and underserved people groups without regard to any geographic limitation.

With the great diversity of people groups in the United States, giving the IMB the responsibility for reaching the international groups within our own borders is a brilliant move. They already have the structure for training and reaching many of these people groups, and it provides another cheaper alternative to reaching some of those unreached people groups in our world. If we can win them while they are here, when they return to their own people, they can take the Gospel with them!

Component #6 of the report states: PROMOTING THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM AND ELEVATING STEWARDSHIP–The Cooperative Program is a partnership, and both the SBC and the state conventions have important work to do. This means an important and continuing leadership role for the SBC Executive Committee as well.

As I have already stated, giving must increase. Churches must cooperate more intimately and combine resources more effectively to reach more people as quickly as possible. Jesus is coming soon!

Component #7 of the report states: THE CALL OF THE NATIONS AND THE SBC ALLOCATION BUDGET–an intention to raise the Cooperative Program SBC Allocation Budget percentage received by the International Mission Board to 51 percent.

I am very pleased with the decision to increase the normal CP allocation given to the IMB from 50% to 51%. This should have been done long ago. Most of the unreached people in the world live in the international community. Why would we keep half of the money given through the CP inside the United States when 90% of the world’s unreached population lives across the seas? My only regret in this is that it’s not more than 51%.

CONCLUSION: It is difficult for small churches like the one I pastor to feel greatly involved in the great task of fulfilling the Great Commission apart from the organizational structure of the SBC. I am pleased with the report delivered by the GCRTF, and I look forward to supporting their proposal next week at the SBC in Orlando. Hopefully as our churches become more burdened for our world, the action taken by the SBC to reach each person in our world with the Gospel will become even more effective and more dramatic! It’s time to tell the world about Jesus!

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Urgency to Share

The report has just been released that Gary Coleman , child star from the hit show Different Strokes, is dead at 42.

I have not been a huge Gary Coleman fan, but I did enjoy watching the show as a child, and I remember being amazed that he was as old as he was when I discovered he was older than me. The fact that he was small and cute gave him a great deal of success early in life.

When I read the news of his death, I thought for a brief moment about his life. It has been one filled with trouble; alcoholism, depression, a lot of grief. It’s a shame that so many young stars wind up living such unfulfilled lives. Having everything this world has to offer, they still lack the JOY that can only come from a right relationship with Jesus!

My heart dropped, wondering if anyone had ever bothered to share the Gospel (The Good News) with Gary Coleman. Did he ever know about the fulfilled life that Jesus came to give?

In John 10:10 Jesus said that He came to give life and to give it to its fullest!

Unfortunately it doesn’t appear as if Gary Coleman lived a blessed life. Almost all the news I heard of him in his adult life was negative.

In 2009 someone in the world died every 2 seconds. How many of them left this world without ever hearing about the love of Jesus? Whose fault is it?

As I thought about this child star’s life and sudden death, it reminded me of the urgency to share the Gospel with the World! We have a great responsibility! Let’s Get it Done!

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The Way Word for the wayward

In my first post I attempted to explain a little bit about why I chose the title I did for my blog. While I might have explained that “derek in Hebrew means “road” or “way,” I think I failed to communicate the significance of the play on those words with the word “wayward.”

I did share a little bit about my wandering. I was wayward. It is nothing unusual. We all are–or have been. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah summed it up pretty well.

Isaiah 53:6 NKJV  All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

The apostle Paul reminded us in his letter to the Romans (chapter 3) how unrighteous and wayward we all are. “No one is acceptable to God on his own! Not even one!”

The only way the wayward can be made acceptable in God’s sight is through the imputed righteousness of Christ. That comes through personal repentance and faith in Him and His saving work of grace.

The apostles declared that Jesus is the only way of salvation:  Acts 4:12 NKJV  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Jesus also claimed Himself that He was the exclusive way to God:

John 14:6 NKJV  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Jesus is The Way for the wayward!

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The Blogger

So I guess I have now entered the wonderful world of blogging. How often I blog is yet to be determined, but my reason for blogging is one–to provide another opportunity for me to share the Gospel and the Word of God with whomever will listen, or in this case, read.

I chose the title for the blog to be “The Way Word.” The reason for this phrase is because early in my preparation for ministry I discovered that my name, “Derek,” is the word for “The way” or “The road” in the Hebrew language. Since I am writing to share the written word with others about “THE WAY” and “The Word” I thought it made sense.

I hope that made sense.

I look forward to sharing what God is doing in my life with family, friends, and whomever finds their way to this site.

After trying my best for many years to live my life for God under much of my own power and failing, I now understand that as a surrendered servant of Christ, my life is not even my own to live. It is Christ’s to live through me (Galatians 2:20).

While I am still far from where I need to be, I am more excited about what Christ is doing through me than ever before in my life. I believe this became possible when I became so broken over where I was in my personal struggle, that I was willing to give up my own aspirations for myself. I simply cried out be right with God and be and do whatever He wanted.

My life is not my own, it belongs to Him (1 Cor. 6:20), and I have more joy than I ever thought possible. I am still faced with many challenges, but my love for Jesus has never been greater.

Many today, and some of you are still seeking THINGS in your life for fulfillment. You have made a commitment to Christ, but you have not given Him yourself, really.

Something to think about–Do you live, or is it Christ living through you? It may be the day for you to die and let Christ live!

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