Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It was one year ago today that I began this blog, seeking to chronicle my church planting internship with the North American Mission Board. While I have been negligent in recent monthly updates, I wanted to provide you with some reflections as my internship winds down. What have I learned this year?
First, I recognize my need to grow in grace. This past year has exposed areas of sin and negligence that I need to work on in the strength of the Holy Spirit. By God's grace, I have been approved by NAMB as a church planter, and I have also been blessed with progress in my spiritual walk. At the same time, the words of the Apostle Paul remind me of my need to continue pursuing godliness: "For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works" (Titus 2:11-14 HCSB).

Second, intentionally reaching out to my neighbors in love with the hope of the gospel needs to be my lifestyle, not simply a year-long exercise for my church planting internship. Loving my neighbors is not optional, nor is evangelism merely an internship requirement. Yet how easily these responsibilities can become squeezed out by other pressing daily concerns. I must remain intentional to continue serving Christ as He has called me to live.

Third, I have seen the necessity of community in evangelism and discipleship. The highlight of this year has been leading a Gospel Community Group. Together, we have encouraged one another, helped one another, held one another accountable, cared for one another, prayed for one another, and loved one another. Christians are called to live life together in service to God, and I have definitely seen the fruit of this biblical truth through our group. I am reminded of the biblical warning of this close-knit life together: "But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception" (Hebrews 3:13 HCSB).

Fourth, the urgent need for a gospel presence in Utah. I assume that I do not need to reproduce the many statistics which clearly show the spiritual darkness which permeates the Salt Lake Valley of Utah. Suffice it to say that my heart continues to be deeply burdened for the light of Jesus Christ to permeate the state. If it is the Lord's will, may He use me in bringing the gospel of perfect righteousness in Christ to Utah!

Fifth, Christ will be glorified through the salvation of sinners and the advancement of His church. Upon Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, our Savior gave a wonderful promise to His church: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it" (Matthew 16:18 HCSB). The kingdom of Christ will advance. And it will become manifest in Utah. Praise God!

As a result, I am excited to enter 2015. My church planting internship may have completed, but my service to Christ will continue as long as He gives me breath. May He be glorified through my life, my family, and my church!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

This September was a busy one for me and my family. First of all, we had a lot of preparation to do for our first neighborhood alliance fall kick-off picnic. Over the summer, as I have gotten plugged in to our neighborhood alliance, I have actually become involved in the leadership of this community organization. So I had a lot of planning and preparation to carry out. But it continues to be a great opportunity to get to know my neighbors better and to serve them.

The picnic itself was a great success. My Gospel Community Group was involved, and we were able to meet and begin developing relationships with those living around us. The neighborhood alliance estimated about 150 people came to our picnic, and I was able to spend a little time with many of them. Hopefully, I will be able to continue getting to know them and share with them the gospel of Christ.

Secondly, I have begun the formal process of assessment as a church planter with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. My wife and I have completed a number of assessment tools over the last few weeks, and now we are waiting for our summary report.

With this in mind, please pray for God to use this assessment as a tool to guide us toward a ministry which will glorify Christ and make Him known. We are also praying for wisdom through this process as we consider what our next steps will be. Thank you again for all of your prayers and encouragement.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

As I mentioned previously, my family devoted the month of August to prayer and fasting. This past month was definitely a time of drawing close to the Lord and seeking His guidance and wisdom. I am so thankful for the time I spent in prayer drawing near to the throne of grace. Christ has greatly helped me as I consider the path moving forward in ministry.

I was also asked to preach twice in the month of August. First, I had the privilege of opening God's Word to the saints at Covenant Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee. With my mind focused on prayer, I thought that it was only fitting to preach from Hebrews 4:14–4:16, "Let Us Pray!" Second, my pastors asked me to preach a sermon in a series going through Hebrews 11. You can watch my message from Hebrews 11:8-10, "Abraham: A Pilgrim Faith" (simply fast forward past the first minute of the video due to technical difficulties with your Bible open.)

Furthermore, it was my joy to lead our Gospel Community Group as we sought to reach out to our neighbors. We threw a back-to-school ice cream social at an area park and had nine people who were not a part of our church show up! Additionally, we are planning to be involved this month in a major neighborhood fall kick-off picnic, so our hope is that we can meet many more neighbors and share with them the love of Christ. Please join with us in praying that we can continue building on the relationships with those that we meet.

Finally, a brief article about my church planting internship was included in the August issue of Woman's Missionary Union's Missions Mosaic. As a result, I received birthday cards from the following churches and individuals letting me know that they were praying for me and my family:
  • A Dear Sister, Colonial Beach VA
  • A Dear Sister, Conway SC
  • A Dear Sister, Decatur GA
  • A Dear Sister, Enterprise AL
  • A Dear Sister, Jasper GA
  • A Dear Sister, Milam TX
  • A Dear Sister, Nashville TN
  • A Dear Sister, Owensville MO
  • A Dear Sister, Rydal GA
  • A Dear Sister, Spartanburg SC
  • A Dear Sister, Transylvania LA
  • A Dear Sister, Warrensburg MO
  • 411 Chapel Baptist Church, Madisonville TN
  • Alpharetta First Baptist Church, Alpharetta GA
  • Alum Spring Baptist Church, Culpeper VA
  • Anacoco First Baptist Church, Anacoco LA
  • Baptist Temple Church, Victoria TX
  • Bethlehem Baptist Church, East Durbin GA
  • Cedar Bluff Baptist Church, Falcon MO
  • Center Grove Baptist Church, Rock Spring GA
  • Charleston First Missionary Baptist Church, Dawson Springs KY
  • Charles Town Baptist Church, Charles Town WV
  • Chesterfield Baptist Church, Chesterfield SC
  • Crane First Baptist Church, Crane MO
  • Cross Memorial Baptist Church, Morgantown NC
  • East Park Avenue Baptist Church, Norton VA
  • Eubank Baptist Church, Eubank KY
  • Fairview Baptist Church, Woodville TX
  • Fellowship Baptist Church, Bitam AL
  • First Baptist Church, Cabot AR
  • First Baptist Church, Drakesboro KY
  • First Baptist Church, Huntsville AL
  • First Baptist Church, Lecanto FL
  • First Baptist Church, Mount Olive AL
  • First Baptist Church, Old Fort NC
  • First Baptist Church, Raytown MO
  • First Baptist Church, Siloan Springs AR
  • Flippin Memorial Baptist Church, Mount Airy NC
  • Friendship Baptist Church, California MO
  • Friendship Baptist Church, Warner Robins GA
  • Hillister Baptist Church, Hillister TX
  • Kirby Baptist Church, Gaffney SC
  • Kirvin Baptist Church, Kirvin TX
  • Lone Oak Baptist Church, Paducah KY
  • LaFayette Baptist Church, LaFayette KY
  • Lanier Baptist Church, Baton Rouge LA
  • Lime Branch Baptist Church, Cedartown GA
  • Lone Oak Baptist Church, Robbinsville NC
  • McRae First Baptist Church, McRae GA
  • Milford Baptist Church, Leary GA
  • Miracle Baptist Church, LaVergne TN
  • Mount Hermon Baptist Church, Taylorsville NC
  • Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, Austell GA
  • Northvale Baptist Church, Harrison AR
  • Oak Grove Baptist Church, Oak Grove MO
  • Second Baptist Church, Dyersburg TN
  • Springdale Baptist Church, Dublin GA
  • Trinity Baptist Church, Wynne AR
  • University Baptist Church, Arlington TX
  • Vista Baptist Church, Belen NM
  • Zion Hill Baptist Church, Cabot AR
As you can tell by the length of this list, I am simply overwhelmed by the encouragement and support that my family has received this past month!

Monday, August 4, 2014

With my family's time in Utah earlier this summer, I have not been writing much about my church planting internship here in Kentucky. But I have not lost focus on my ministry here. Through the summer, I have sought to be intentional in building bridges with my neighbors.

To begin with, I have continued to bring treats from my daughters to our neighbors. I have been able to meet several families now and have begun building friendships with them. My hope is that these relationships will continue to grow so that I can share and show the love of Christ to them.

My gospel community group has also been meeting through the summer. We have been devoting much of our time to praying for our community as we consider ways to reach out to them, and this past month we began prayer walking through our neighborhood. I hope that this can become a regular activity for our group, as we ask God to bless our efforts to serve our neighbors in love.

Speaking of focusing on our neighborhood, I continue to enjoy participating in our community's neighborhood alliance. It has been a great way for me to get involved, and I am even now leading our alliance in planning a fall neighborhood party. What a great way to serve and get to know those living around us!

At the same time, this summer has also shown me of my need to grow in godliness. I am more convinced than ever that I will be used by God as much as I am faithfully reflecting His holiness. One practical area where I want to focus my attention over the next few months is in my family being more hospitable. As the Apostle Peter instructs us: "Be hospitable to one another without complaining" (1 Peter 4:9 HCSB). Or as we read elsewhere: "Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2 HCSB). After all, being hospitable is a requirement for pastoral leadership (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8)! So please pray that I will be more faithful in this area of my life.

Finally, as many of you know, my family has set aside the month of August for prayer and fasting about our future. We do not want to move forward in our ministry plans without God's wisdom and blessing. So we have committed to pray. If you would like to join with us this month, please do so! We look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us as we seek to glorify Him.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Today is the fifth and final update about my family's Utah missions trip. In this video, I answer the question "What's Next?":

Thursday, July 31, 2014

In the fourth update of my Utah missions report, I want to share with you some of the key ministry leaders in the Salt Lake Valley that I was able to meet:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In today's Utah missions video update, I focus on what my family learned about living and serving in the Salt Lake Valley: