WHY MISSIONS?

This summer we have the largest number of people engaging in mission trips in our history. The largest group is going to Oregon. There will be forty three in that group. They leave this weekend. Another group of eighteen leaves for Myanmar today. Our Moldova team was the second largest group that we have sent to Eastern Europe. They had a great experience and shared the gospel with thousands by children’s ministry and bible distribution. All of this activity and more raises a question among some as to why this is important.
1. It is important because of the command of Jesus. Jesus said we would be witnesses where we are and also to the uttermost parts of the earth. (Acts 1:8) You will never realize the true magnitude of the church and her task if you never engage in missions.
2. It is important because of how lost the world is. In many parts of the world the church is weak and outnumbered and struggles to even get the attention of the population around them. Just the presence of groups of committed Christians who have come a distance to touch lives raises the visibility and importance of those believers who live in the midst of a host of unbelievers. They suddenly are seen as valuable people to those around who marvel at the guests who have come to work with them.
3. It is important because of the opportunity for spiritual growth. Most people who have engaged in missions will tell you that their sense of their spiritual gifts and abilities have been greatly expanded while serving in one of these adventures. They truly are spiritual adventures in which you can sense the presence of the Lord and his pleasure at the efforts you are making to touch a lost and dying world. You have the opportunity to witness the power of the gospel and the impact the message of Jesus can make in the lives of people. This is life changing for you as well as those you touch.
I could go on of course. There are many other reasons. Let me close with this. Why is Crestview Baptist Church such a unique church? I submit to you that it is directly related to the way so many of our people have moved from being spectators to participants in ministry. There is nothing so transformational as making the choice to truly be the Body of Christ doing the things he did to change the world. “UNTO HIM BE GLORY IN THE CHURCH THROUGHOUT ALL AGES, WORLD WITHOUT END.” (EPHESIANS 3:21)

Dan Wooldridge

CONFIRMATION OF MY LAST POST

I had no sooner posted on the need for awakening in America until I received an email which extensively quoted Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham who was calling for urgent prayer in the first seven days of July for revival in our nation. She shares the same convictions that the Lord has impressed upon me. I urge all who read this to commit to special prayer for national awakening beginning tomorrow. She also calls for a seven hour fast on the seventh of July. I will plan to participate in this emphasis each day and in the fast on the seventh day. As if this statement by Mrs. Graham Lotz was not enough, this afternoon, I took my first look at Joel Rosenburg’s book IMPLOSION. Joel shares his personal insight that we will either have revival or ruin in America. I have been having the same sense of alarm in my own heart. I spoke this in one of my two sermons on Sunday and noticed the surprise on the faces of many in the room. Many of us are asleep aboard the Titanic. It is time to awaken!

Dan Wooldridge

AWAKENING

I must pause from my series of blogs about Israel and speak on an urgent subject. I have become keenly aware that we are at a watershed moment as a nation. Through the years, I have often sensed an urgency for America to turn to God with a fresh vigor and faith. However, none of those times were nearly so dark as the hour upon which we have arrived today. As a part of the baby boomer generation, I have lived through the great days of the fifties and sixties when churches were springing up everywhere and people commonly agreed on the importance of faith. I also saw the Jesus movement of the seventies and its hopeful signs of renewal. The mega-churches of the eighties through the present have obscured the demise of a nation dotted with thriving small congregations. We now live in an era of empty or nearly empty churches that once thrived in America. I have read article after article by distressed Christian leaders at the demise of the American churches. This is occurring at a time when the forces of secularism are working tirelessly to wipe away the history and culture of America as it relates to our heritage of faith.
Many Americans do not realize that we have been here before. Before the American revolution, an awakening occurred which many credit as having not only caused rapid growth in the church, but unified the colonies into a sense of their common cause and heritage. Old divisions were dealt with by the moving of God’s spirit and a fledgling nation began to emerge which would have the force of vision to take on a superpower for their independence. That time is referred to in American history as the First Great Awakening. From roughly 1790 to 1830, the Second Great Awakening occurred. It came at a time when the secularization of Europe was creeping into America, and the heroes of the young were the skeptics and atheists of Europe. Many pinpoint the arrival of Timothy Dwight as the president of Yale as the beginning of this great movement of God. The spiritual demise was reversed and the great century of evangelism and world missions was born and lasted throughout the 1800′s even through the American Civil War. This time was greatly enhanced at the end of the eighteen hundreds by a layman’s prayer meeting revival that swept the nation.
Lord, do it again!

Dan Wooldridge

BETHANY BEYOND JORDAN

It is amazing how you can look at maps and teach and preach for decades and still not have a grasp of a place. Sitting under a pavilion on the shores of the Jordan near where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist crystallized the event in my mind. There we were just a few miles north of the Dead Sea. The muddy Jordan had many guests who were being baptized. We had also done baptisms but had chosen the clear waters near the Sea of
Galilee for our site. Here Jordanian soldiers face Israeli soldiers day after day insuring the security of the border. Bethany is just across the river from us. There are steps down to the river from both sides. We sang praise songs as we meditated on what happened here. It was here that God spoke from heaven and the Holy Spirit made a visible descent at the baptism of Jesus. Here Jesus stood with us in the waters of baptism where he was fully submerged to show forth his burial and resurrection which lay only three years ahead of that amazing moment. Here Jesus stood for us as he accepted his role of dying for our sins which was also revealed in his baptism, thus the image of burial. Here it became clear that Jesus always stands above us as the sinless Son of God. The wonder of our triune God was revealed at Bethany beyond Jordan that day. The Father spoke, the Spirit descended, and the Son submitted. He would submit in the symbol of baptism foreshadowing his submission to die for us on the cross. The stirring of pilgrims from all over the world revealed the sacredness of the place. He is truly Lord of all.
Dan Wooldridge

LUNCH IN OLD JERICHO

Many Holy Land tours are hesitant to enter Jericho since it is a Palestinian area on the West Bank. Our driver actually knew the owners of a restaurant right next to the archeological digs for the old city of Jericho. Jericho is regarded as the oldest city on earth with a continuous history. It was already a city of over 3000 years of age when Joshua led the people of Israel in battle against it. A tremendous amount of archeological work has been done there since the beginning of that particular science. Many people do not realize that the science of archeology is one of the newer sciences. Some modern methods have been developed since 1900 with other techniques only available in the last few decades. Many things once regarded as legendary or mythological are now historically verified by the research in this field of study. As we stood outside the restaurant massive digs were being conducted just across the street. I thought of all the discoveries that have been made in the last hundred years that have underscored the truth and reliability of the Word of God. Jericho is in an arid place not too far from the Jordan river. above Jericho rise the mountains of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. In a matter of only a few miles the terrain changes dramatically and the vegetation becomes lush and green. Jericho is arid and Jerusalem is a garden. A short trip from Jericho brings you to Bethany beyond Jordan. We sat on the Israeli side of the river and imagined the baptism of Jesus which occurred just below us in a muddy portion of the Jordan in the semi arid lands of the Jordan just a few miles from the Dead Sea. We sang a hymn as we shared a look into the Word of God and eyes turned toward us from all around. It was a sweet witness to several Israeli soldiers who stood guard since the Kingdom of Jordan was just across the river. They graciously interacted with us and posed for a few pictures. Israel is vigilant at all times lest the attacks of the past are repeated. Not so many years ago, Jerusalem was having bombs detonated on buses all over the city by those who would terrorize the nation. They have brought these realities under control for now and work constantly to keep things that way. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Psalm 122:6

Dan Wooldridge