Monday, June 1st
A large assembly of pastors, their families, and congregants of Berean Baptist Church met together for the first service. After some singing and introductions, Pastor Jeffrey Ables invited Evangelist Mike Gass to the pulpit. Bro. Gass serves at Harvest Baptist Temple in Medford, OR.
Bro. Gass read from 2 Kings 16:10-16.
How did Israel get here? How did gods people get to the point that they had a king ruling over them that was instituting changes in the temple, accompanied by a priest that consented with his plans? The reason this account unfolds like it does it because legacy is important.
How will your church be remembered? We tend to think that we will be remembered for the good things, but the reality is if we blow it, that is what people will remember. Decisions have consequences.
So how did Israel get to this point? The story of Ahaz begins with Joash. Joash represented a new begining for Judah. At seven he took the throne following the death of the wicked queen Athalia. Mentored by the godly Jehoiada, Joash did right in the sight of The Lord. After Jehoiada’s death, Joash forgot his kindness, and started in an evil direction. Joash began trusting God, but eventually quit.
Amaziah was Joash’s son. He came to the throne next, and he served righteously, but not with a perfect heart. After a great victory (by God’s help) he stole his defeated enemies idols and never worshiped God again. Amaziah never really fully trusted God, and he quit serving righteously as well.
Uziah was next. He sought The Lord, and God blessed him. Uziah obeyed God’s law, until pride entered his heart. When he tried to enter the priest’s office, God struck him with leoprasy, and that is how he would die.
Uziah’s son was Jotham. He came to power and also began to serve God obediently. But one thing he never did was enter the house of God. And as he ignored God’s house, the people became corrupt.
And then we come to Ahaz, not righteous at all, but rather an isolator. It was Ahaz who removed the brazen altar from the temple, and replace it with one patterned after an altar in Syria.
Our legacy will not be discovered in the good things we do, but in the bad decisions we make. As ministers, we must remember that disaster in the future begins with decisions in the present.
All attendees were treated to homemade pie and cookies following the service.
Tuesday, June 2nd
Bro. Gass was the first speaker Tuesday morning. He directed us to Jeremiah 2:1-21.
Israel was special to God: their service to Him was holy, their relationship with Him was protected. So how did they come to hate him? How does that happen?
1. They walked after vanity (2:5). Those who involve themselves in vanity eventually become vain. The Israelites became obsessed with empty things, and then became empty themselves.
2. They lost their moral compass (2:8). The nation stopped asking the question, “What does God think about this?” God’s standard was no longer their point of reference. Our people need to be asking the question, “What does God think?” Not only do we need the right question, we need the right relationship with God. God’s people had a distorted view of right and wrong because they had neglected their God. Third, they lost their moral compass because they “walked after thing that did not profit.” Our world today is abounding with distractions to the Word of God, and we need to set the example for the churches we minister in by keeping what is important at the center of our lives.
3. They were willing to exchange their glory (2:11-13). The only glory they truly had was their connection to God. But they walked away from that for a belief system that attempted to ground their glory in lesser things. Haven’t we done the same (i.e., materialism?)
4. They were spoiled by their own compromises (2:14-19). Their destruction was an inside job. Their downfall was the outcome of their own decisions. The very things we have decided to give our hearts to today are the things that are destroying us the most.
5. They became a degenerate plant (2:21). God had planted them “a noble vine.” But they forgot their heritage and ignored how God had blessed them in the past.
Bro. Gass encouraged us to not let our churches go down this same path.
The second speaker was Pastor Shane Mallard (Emmanuel Baptist Church, Dexter, MO). He led us to two Texts, John 1 and Matthew 3:1-6.
John the Baptist is remembered for making much of Jesus Christ. From the time he leaped in his mother’s womb, all the way to his beheading, his emphasis was not self, but rather the Messiah that he came to preach.
John’s preaching made it clear that he was not the Christ, he was just the servant. He was the one sent to prepare the way for the Messiah, not to take the stage for his own glory. He recognized Jesus Christ as the pre-eminent One.
John recognized himself as simply the friend of the bridegroom. In Eastern weddings, the friend of the bridegroom played an important part in the beginning of the ceremony, but quickly faded off the scene to let the groom himself take the center of attention.
John joyfully accepted his position as a servant to Christ. Our responsibility must also be clearly understood and joyfully accepted. We are here to know Christ and make Him known: in that respect, we are very much like John.
Why did Jesus say that John was the greatest man ever born at his time? Was it because he made himself great? No, it was because he made much of Christ.
How can we pattern our ministry like John the Baptist? We can do this by recognizing three things John was given by God. These things are similar to our God-given responsibilities.
1. A heavenly mandate. God sent John to introduce God’s people to the Messiah. We have a mandate from heaven: to introduce people to Jesus Christ.
2. A heavenly mission. John’s mission was to bear witness of the light. He spoke for the Messiah: he was a witness of the light. A witness does not come to the stand to impress, to entertain or to be interesting: they are called pong for one reason, to be truth-tellers. We are witnesses of Christ. Our mission is to be truth-tellers about Jesus.
3. A heavenly message. John’s message was the message of repentance. The people must repent if they were to enter the coming kingdom. If they did not repent, they could not follow their Messiah. We must also preach the message of repentance. We cannot offer grace to people who see no need for grace. Like John, we must issue the call to repent so we can proclaim the grace that is in Christ.
Our job is simple: to let God be God, and serve Him for His glory.
Pastor Joe Decker, Jr. (South Campbell Avenue Baptist Church, Springfield, MO) was the final speaker. His message came from Luke 18:18-30.
Pastor Decker began to relate the account of Jesus conversation with the rich young ruler. Though on the surface level, he seemed to be asking Jesus some sincere questions, the way Jesus responds demonstrates that there was more to this than meets the eye.
The young man was filled with the pursuit of temporal pleasures, and the only thing between him and fulfillment of those pleasures was the fear of death.
He begins by calling Christ “good master.” Jesus’ response basically implied, “Are you calling me God?” The man did not recognize who Christ was.
Jesus then questions him regarding the law. The man claims complete innocence. So not only did He not really see the truth about Christ, he didn’t see the truth about himself.
Christ tells him that if he wants eternal life, he should give up everything he has and follow Jesus. Why is Jesus saying this? Because He is getting to the heart of the issue.
What is the issue that Jesus wanted to deal with? Surrender. The man was not ready to hear about eternal life, because he was not surrendered.
Preachers need to deal with the deeper issues, not just the outward results of those issues. We need to deal with the disease, not the symptoms.
Preaching separation without surrender will only bring people into bondage. If we only teach separation, we are giving people bondage instead of freedom.
We can deceive ourselves into thinking that true freedom is the enjoyment of worldly pursuits, but that’s really a trap. Freedom is found in renouncing those pursuits, and following Christ.
The heart of the issue is this: are we willing to follow Jesus? As preachers, are we willing to call others to follow Jesus? Christ’s message to the world is not one of accommodation, it is one of total surrender to His Person. May we live and proclaim that message.
After the close of the service we enjoyed fellowship and a barbecue lunch.
– David Harris