The Monday evening service at Houston Bible Baptist Church began with a full sanctuary and a good spirit. Pastor David Barbee welcomed the attendees and stated that he hoped this meeting would be an encouragement to those who needed it (it was, and no doubt many did). We enjoyed lively congregational singing and specials by two pastors, Derek Eckels (Nixa) and Joe Decker, Jr. (Springfield).
The preacher in the evening meeting was Pastor Bob Reagan, now serving at the Fundamental Bible Baptist Church in Summersville. Bro. Reagan asked us to turn to 2 Timothy 3, and read verses 12-17. His title was “But Continue Thou…”
Pastor Reagan began by reminding us that every growing Christian has a vision. One of the difficulties of pastoring is that the work of the ministry can cause us to lose sight of that vision. Instead of thinking about the future, we focus on the short-term. This explains, Bro. Reagan argued, some of the reasons pastors hang on to their position too long. It is possible to take thirty years to build a work that can be ruined in five. Some pastors do this because they never made financial preparations, others never trained a replacement, and some reached their goals but never made new ones.
The preacher encouraged not to be like this, but rather to emulate Paul and think of the future. We need to train others in our churches to continue to serve God in these ways:
- Continue in His Word. We can never allow ourselves to get over our commitment to studying the Bible.
- Continue in His love. Busyness is no substitute for being in love with our Savior.
- Continue in the Faith. Teach others what exactly it is we believe so that they can understand false teaching clearly and refute it carefully.
- Continue in the Ministry. Remember 1 Corinthians 15:57-58.
- Continue to Train the Next Generation. Not only did Timothy need to stay faithful, he needed to pass on what he learned from Paul.
He finished with a thought from William Booth on the secret of his success: “God has had all of me.” Does God have all of us?
Pastor Derek Eckels (Calvary Baptist Church, Nixa) was the first speaker on Tuesday morning. His sermon was titled, “Who Do Your People Follow?” His text was John 1:19-37, but he first led us to Isaiah 40.
Bro. Eckels reminded us of the importance of the one who came in the spirit of Elijah, John the Baptist. He was one of the figures that ranks above most others in biblical history. While God loves all of his people, some have had more pivotal roles in the history of redemption than others. John was one of those people. His birth, ministry, and message were all prophesied about in the Hebrew Bible.
This was a very important man, no doubt, more important than we are. But what was John’s view of himself? John simply saw himself as a voice. A voice, the preacher told us, does not have to be seen, only heard. In other words, he removed himself from the equation. He was not the Savior, nor did he pretend to be the Savior.
As important as John was, his goal in ministry was to point people away from himself and to Christ. The product of this ministry was that his disciples followed Jesus.
If any prophet or preacher had an excuse to magnify himself, it was John. And yet John was not even important enough to have a personality-based ministry.
At the end of your ministry, what will the product you left behind say about your attitude while you were here? Are people under your ministry following you, or through your ministry, are they knowing, following, and loving Jesus?
The next session Tuesday morning brought Joe Decker, Jr. to the pulpit, where he preached from Ezekiel 13:1-16.
The setting is the captivity. False teachers are misreading the circumstances. They are telling people it is a time of peace, that they ought not be alarmed about the situation.
At the heart of much false teaching, Pastor Decker explained, is the tendency to read providence. This was repeatedly the case with the false prophets spoken of during the captivity, and it is also the case with prosperity theology, one of the worst perversions of the gospel in our day (and unfortunately one of the biggest American theological exports).
Just because things are going well materially or economically does not mean our message ought to be “everything is ok.” God’s truth has always been separate from whether or not his people feel like they have political power. Bro. Decker warned that political affiliations obscure our message.
False doctrine, the preacher explained, is often perpetual. Most heresies are not new, but are actually old heresies repackaged. Ezekiel draws a picture in the text of a poorly built wall that needs repairing but will eventually fall.
Whatever false doctrine we encounter, we must remember that despite its constant repairing, all lies will eventually fall. We must preach with this confidence and carefully teach the Word to our people so that they will see clearly through the lies.
The last speaker at the meeting was Pastor John England. Bro. England has been in Williamsville, MO for the last couple of years, starting the Black River Bible Baptist Church.
The message was entitled “God Is Able.” Bro. Barbee noted that Bro. England was going to talk about what God has done in their ministry at Williamsville.
Bro. England read from both Ephesians 3 (with an emphasis on verses 20-21) and Daniel 3. In the text, we were reminded of the greatness of God in these ways:
- He is able to save people.
- He is able to deliver us from all kinds of problems.
- He is able to supply all of our needs.
In all three of these characteristics of God, the preacher told us some of the amazing things God is doing at this new but growing church. They often have Sunday morning attendance in the 50’s (almost all of them from the town, which has a population of 340). This last Sunday, Bro. England recalled how nearly all of their first time visitors had been people that he had arrested in his first year there. They have seen several people saved, and have had 22 baptism services.
Pastor England’s message was a great way to end the meeting. We were encouraged to hear about what God was doing in Williamsville, and were glad to praise the Lord along with Bro. England.
We were treated to a fantastic lunch at the close of the services. Bro. and Mrs. Barbee and the congregation at Houston were wonderful hosts.