A Word from Walker
September is a busy month. Kids are back in school; businesses are pushing for better results in the last quarter of the year; and churches are ramping up to plan for their last big events. With the specter of COVID still hanging around, every plan any family, school, business or church makes is currently tempered with an alternate back up option just to make sure no one is left holding the bag. Uncertainty that stems from a Pandemic that never seems to be quite finished adds a type of unique anxiety into the mix as people wonder what they can count on or even remotely prepare for.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” This is a verse that has comforted me many times during the last eighteen months. It is a reminder that we can only do what we can do, and a sovereign, good, loving God stands above everyone and everything (including a nasty virus) and orchestrates his marvelous agenda through every circumstance. This is a bedrock of our hope as Christians. This doesn’t mean that we stick our heads in the sand. We should be sober, intelligent and wise when it comes to COVID. I have little patience for conspiratorialists and internet-appointed doctors with regards to this Pandemic. I think everyone over twelve years of age should get the vaccine. I don’t think it should be required. I think masks (unless of the N-95 variety) have limited impact. If I made you mad or upset with these comments it won’t cause me to lose sleep.
At the same time, there is no risk-free solution for anything in this life. Using isolation and paranoia as a strategy for protection isn’t a healthy practice for anyone, especially a child of God. The simple truth we need to embrace time and time again is that we are broken people living in a broken world. Nothing will change that until one day when heaven meets earth and Jesus rights all wrongs and perfects the imperfect. Until then, we seek to be good stewards with our bodies, time, money and even the earth we inhabit. That is the best anyone can do.
With all that being said, we have planned two big events this Fall. First, our Annual Meeting will be held at Glenn View Baptist Church on October 19th from 5:30-8:30pm. We will be providing child-care for kids up to age twelve and will have a Food Truck there to provide a meal. Todd Unzinger, the new Executive Director Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of NC will be our guest. You will not want to miss this event.
Also, on November 8th from 6:00-8:00 pm we will have a “Men’s Banquet” at First Baptist Church Stanleyville. Our featured speaker will be Lt. General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin and our music will be provided by Chosen Road. This will be a great event to bring friends or family who don’t know Christ to hear a stirring message and be encouraged by great Bluegrass music. The cost for this event is $15 per person.
I hope to see you at each of these important events. In the meantime, be smart, be safe and walk by faith.
Your fellow servant in Christ,
When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” Luke 10:17-19
When Jesus sent out the seventy-two followers He did not give them direct instructions about the many situations that they might find themselves in. He essentially told them to go in His name and live among the people sharing their faith as they went. He did warn them that there would be “wolves” and even challenged them not to take a lot of money or stuff. There is so much in this brief passage in Luke 10 that we won’t possibly unpack it all, but take some time to marinate, meditate, or digest this passage when it comes to your missional objective.
We are completing a wonderful month of missional objectives as many of our churches have boldly reached out to their communities through partnerships with local agencies, direct relationships with schools, serving those in need, sharing the Good News, and making a difference right where they live! It has been such a blessing to serve with and walk alongside of so many of you as you have sought to make an impact in your community. You have invested time, money, and energy to communicate the love of Christ through acts of kindness and service. In so many cases it has not gone unnoticed. I have proudly been the recipient of thank you notes, personal expressions of gratitude from area leaders, and other testimonies of lives impacted and even changed by your faithfulness. I count myself blessed to be able to see both sides of such efforts as I know that many of you may never hear expressions of gratitude, but you serve tirelessly for the sake of the gospel.
Another thing that I appreciate about Luke 10 is that the seventy-two were empowered by faith. Just as Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” So many times, we have a sense of that which God has for us, but we don’t have the whole story or all of the details. Just as God’s Word serves as a “lamp” for our feet, faith often only provides enough light for each step (Psalm 119:105). Our feet still must have the readiness of the gospel (Ephesians 6:15). Without ready feet, we are not prepared for the everchanging events of life (such as COVID?) that often assail us. How are your feet looking these days? Are they weary and bruised from the Covid pivot dance that you have been forced to execute more than you ever dreamed necessary? Submit to the renewal of the Holy Spirit and strive to not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9) for at the right time we shall see a great harvest if we don’t give up!
This may mean that the vision that you once had for a ministry needs to change. I know, I know, we don’t like that word very much…CHANGE! Sometimes it is necessary and even unavoidable. I have spoken with so many in ministry who have had to make significant pivots through this season. A director of a food pantry recounted to me recently that they have seen such a decline in hunger initiatives that they are now helping people to learn how to complete employment applications! Talk about a pivot! If they were not engaged in the community and in constant conversation with people under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, how would they know to make such a change? Every context is different so I can’t make a cookie cutter pronouncement about your location, but God can show you. Scripture reminds us, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:17) Similar to those who responded to the Macedonian call (which looked like a man in their vision) only to arrive and be greeted by a woman (aka Lydia the seller of purple), our journey of faith can have many twists and turns! This may not be a big shift in our minds, but in that day it was monumental. What monumental shifts are you going to face in the days ahead that will require a holy boldness?
As I bring these thoughts to a close, don’t miss the fact that Jesus did not send them out with a warning about snakes, scorpions, and demons. He simply mentioned that they would be among wolves. Whatever we face in service, it can be treacherous at times. Sometimes we envision that legendary “hedge of protection” that is prayed for so many times in religious circles, but life is full of what Bunyan called in Pilgrim’s Progress the Slough of Despond (swamp of despair). As Covid threatens once again and many question what the future may hold, are you steadfastly vigilant for that which God has for us to do to help those in need? It may not look like anything we have ever done before. It may require faith beyond that which we have ever practiced in life. It may look like wolves, snakes, scorpions, and even demons. You may not carry a money bag or even (Heaven forbid) that spare pair of shoes! Do you know the same Jesus that the seventy-two knew? Will you resolve to live a life saturated with faith that can guide others to hope in times of utter dismay?
Just because our Missions Blast month is over, our calling to engage the harvest remains and we must be faithfully vigilant! What are your next steps of faith in your community? How can we walk with you in those steps and support your boldness?
Until He comes…go!