Archive for the ‘Church Planting’ Category

Fall Update

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

It has been some time since our last update on-line.  We are wrapping up a busy summer and beginning an equally busy Fall/Winter season.

This summer and fall, we had tables at the Farmington Fair (largest local fair), the Wilton Blueberry Festival, Kingfield Days, and Phillips Old Home Days.  It was a tremendous investment of time but has paid off with eternal fruit.

Our Fall Conference in September was a wonderful success.  The theme this year was “Seeking the Old Paths,” and it was a great time of preaching, fellowship, and spiritual refreshment.  I have put the audio from this conference on-line (see the post below).

I also completed our “Why We Use the King James Version” video DVD, which has been very well-received.

Thank you once again for your continued and faithful support of us by holding us up in prayer and assisting financially.  We are entering the challenging Winter season, so your support is that much more vital and welcome.  Thank you.

Please pray for God’s guidance and wisdom for us, as well as for more open doors.

Thank you,

Bro. Ron.

“Supposing that Gain is Godliness”

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Many of our fundamental churches have been influenced by the worldly philosophy that “gain is godliness.”

We can all point to certain money-crazed charismatics who teach on television and radio that financial increase is a sign of God’s blessing and that God wants all of His people to be rich. The Bible calls these people “men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness” (I Timothy 6:5) and adds “from such withdraw thyself.”

Yet this very philosophy has influenced our independent Baptist churches. Preachers and evangelists are pointing to financial gain as a sign of God’s blessing on them, and some are even laboring for this type of gain. We give great influence and prominence to the big colleges and churches, who have the big money.

If money, buildings, and crowds were an indicator of God’s blessing, then we should all convert to Roman Catholicism right now.

We need to look with spiritual eyes, not worldly eyes. Remember, we are not laboring for an earthly reward. If God has called us to labor on a certain field or in a certain way, money and comfort-of-living should never enter into our mind as a “confirmation” of His blessing. We ought to simply pursue the work He has assigned to us, whether or not the money and recognition are there.

The next time someone remarks, “The offerings in Pastor XXXX’s church are up over $700 a week – God is really blessing there!” open your Bible to I Timothy chapter 6 and let the Bible purge them of that charismatic philosophy before they do any more harm to God’s work and to God’s people.

If the Bible is not enough to convince them (it often is not enough for those who are influenced by worldly charismatic thinking), give them a history lesson.

William Carey is recognized as “the father of foreign missions.” As he labored in England, sometimes working two jobs in addition to his pastorate, he lived in abject poverty.

When he tried to convince pastors of the need to evangelize heathen nations, he was met with indifference. When speaking of this need at a pastor’s fellowship, one prominent pastor said, “Young man, sit down and be silent. If God wants to save the heathen, he will do it without your help or mine.”

Carey finally convinced enough churches that world evangelism was possible and was the duty of God’s people, and he left for India with promises of support. In India, the money he had brought with him did not last long, and he and his family were soon experiencing dire need. Support from home was slow in coming, and much less than needed. For years he lived and labored in poverty, living at times in a Bengali’s garden house and later on a homestead in the jungle, often not having food for meals. His wife turned on him. The influential East India Company opposed his work.

He saw little fruit in his ministry for the first seven years. The one person who made a profession to Christ was not faithful. Discouragement seemed to beset him on every side. Most of our churches today would have dropped him from support during those first years.

After seven years, the situation began to improve, and gradually support from home increased and he got a well-paying job as a professor at a college in Calcutta. Even during this time, however, Carey lived in poverty by choice, keeping only 10% of his college salary and putting the other 90% directly into the mission. He and his fellow missionaries lived in a common house eating meager meals and wearing clothing that back in England would have been considered beneath any professional. The only exception to clothing was that Carey, after consultation with the other missionaries, purchased a suit of better clothes to wear when he went to teach at the college in Calcutta.

The time of relative prosperity didn’t last. Soon, enemies began circulating nasty rumors among supporting churches back in England, and support plummeted. The mission board, which he had helped create, cut off funds to the mission, believing the rumors rather than the missionaries themselves. Carey found himself, again, immersed in financial difficulty and turmoil.

No, financial gain is not a sign of godliness or of God’s blessing. The approbation of fellow preachers is not a sign of godliness or God’s blessing. Professional success is not a sign of godliness or God’s blessing.

The bottom line is that when God gives us a job to do, we are to labor at the task regardless of circumstances. If we have to look to earthly things as confirmation of God’s calling, then we never believed the calling to begin with. When you know what you are to do for God, pursue it with all your might and with all your resources, regardless of money, possessions, glory, and other people’s approval.

Our reward is not down here. This world has nothing to offer us. Our hope lies above.

Hudson Taylor lived in poverty in China, sometimes not knowing where he would be sleeping the next night. Because of his state, the guardian of the woman he wanted to marry did not immediately give her approval. He was considered a ne’er-do-well because he was not associated with a mission board and had no steady income.

Taylor buried his eight-year-old “daddy’s girl” and two babies in China. His house was looted and burned down. His wife died. Yet, he kept his eyes above – not looking to the circumstances of this world as confirmation of his calling, and not considering for a moment that money should be considered a stamp of approval or sign of God’s blessing on his ministry.

Brothers and sisters, if we are truly living for God, there is a great possibility that we will never see financial prosperity or wealth.

George Műller lived as a pauper in Bristol, sometimes giving his last bread and butter to a house guest, and often not knowing where the next meal for he and the orphans would come from. Fellow Christians told him that he was a fool for living the life of faith and reliance upon God for which he is so respected today – they said he would only bring shame to God by his manner of life.

Even when money came more easily during the latter part of his life, he kept the bare minimum for his own expenses and put everything else into the ministry. He did not consider that the money was a reward for all the hard work and sacrifice he had put in over the years (he had labored for God, not for money). Nobody would have faulted him for taking a little for himself, for buying better clothes instead of mending the older ones, for buying a nice house. But, he didn’t. In fact, he never owned a house. After his wife died, he even relinquished the rental house he had been living in and moved into one of the rooms in one of the orphanages he had built.

Műller said, “A servant of God has but one Master. It ill becomes the servant to seek to be rich, and great, and honored in that world where his Lord was poor, and mean, and despised.”

When so many great men and women of God throughout history have endured severe poverty, hardship, and deprivation, how dare we look to money, cars, nice suits, and nice homes as a sign of God’s blessing – or as something to even be desired in our Christian ministry!

I was naïve about this. I thought, “I’m doing God’s work, so God will send all the money, and the more I work for God, the better finances will be, because, after all, ‘God provides.’”

What I discovered through experience was something very different. Yes, God provides. But sometimes that provision is in the form of affliction which tests your determination and faith. Sometimes He presses your life through financial hardship to the point that you don’t think you can bare it. Sometimes He teaches you to live on less than you ever thought possible. Sometimes He teaches you that the things you thought were “necessities” are really only “wants.” Sometimes He compels you to give up material things that you thought were very important.

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept they word … It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statues. (Psalm 119:67,71)

Often God provides for us by bringing us low and shaking us up.

My family is now living on less than 2/5 of what I was making before surrendering to preach. We’re still living on bare plywood floors. We just installed second-hand carpet in the children’s rooms upstairs. We have to keep the house at 50-55 degrees for most of the winter. There’s a five gallon bucket under the kitchen sink because the elbow on one of the drains leaks so much. We hang clothes from the ceiling in the kitchen/dining room because it is expensive to run the dryer. We get our clothes as hand-me-downs or from Goodwill. Every car I’ve bought since becoming a pastor has been at least 8 years old. The driveway has so many ruts and rocks in it that we have to drive it at 5 mph. Winters are cold and laborious and expensive.

God has used me more this year than in all the eight previous years, yet income has dropped to its lowest, and the work I did locally to supply steady income for our household was lost when the company I worked for dismissed all of its independent contractors (including me) this Spring in order to save staff jobs. Our meager savings disappeared within three months.

But not one of the statements above is a complaint! To the contrary. God has been so good and gracious to allow us to continue ministering here.

Being able to serve God is a privilege. Without that purpose, I could have twice the money but still be aimless, desolate, and hopeless. It is through God’s grace that I continue to minister on His behalf, and I don’t look to the things of this world as confirmation or signs of His blessing. In fact, financial prosperity has more pitfalls than blessings for God’s people.

Our hope and purpose as God’s servants need to lie beyond this world, or we will be the most miserable people on the face of this earth.

Let’s don’t put conditions upon our service to God.

We should not say, “God, I’ll serve You if you keep the money flowing.”

Or, “I’ll serve You if I can keep my standard of living.”

“I’ll serve You if I can have my nice clothes.”

“I’ll serve You if I can keep my hobbies.”

“I’ll serve You if I don’t lose my house.”

“I’ll serve You if I have good health.”

“I’ll serve You if I can live with electricity and running water.”

“I’ll serve You if I can have people’s respect.”

Don’t make your faithfulness contingent upon temporal things. Don’t be guilty of “supposing that gain is godliness.” Receive what God gives you and be thankful for it. Be grateful for His provision, whatever it might be.

No, it’s not easy, but it gets easier as we grow toward Him. You’ll find yourself in prayer more. You’ll find yourself more humble, and more sensitive to other people’s needs. You’ll find yourself looking more to God and the next world and less to the things of this world. You’ll find God using you in surprising, unexpected ways.

I ask you to pray for me, my family, and the ministry God has given us. Pray that we are faithful to the end, and that He is able to use us in the way He wants to. I also want to pray for you, particularly if you are enduring hardship for the sake of your ministry on God’s behalf. You have a lot of brothers and sisters that are struggling just as you are, laboring alongside you. Keep your eyes on Him.

A Momentous Day

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Sunday was a big day — the Church voted to create a church-planting organization!  This is a great step forward in our vision to see churches planted in rural New England towns.  We’ve had $135 given specifically toward this purpose, so we only need about $165 more … where the Lord leads, the Lord provides.  I hope to have an update on this very soon.

Defeating Defeatism in our Churches

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Have you noticed the spirit of defeatism that pervades Christianity today?  It seems that many fundamental Christians are assuming that the battle is lost.  They’re resigned to the idea that Bible-believing churches are no longer “relevant” to the world and that we are destined to get smaller and smaller with every passing day.

I can understand why some fundamental Christians would believe that.  We watch around us as good churches fail and close their doors.  We watch as worldliness slithers its way into good, solid churches until it pervades and conquers them.  We watch as people discard long, firmly-held convictions about the Bible and step toward the left into positions more palatable to mainstream, worldly Christians.

During these past two years, I have seen more compromise and failure in fundamental churches and Christians than ever before in my life.  I have seen and heard of good churches closing their doors because there aren’t enough people left.  Worldly music has crept into churches I thought would never fall into the rock and roll death trap.  Churches, in numbers I have never seen before, are discarding their King James conviction.

Christians are panting after the world, drooling uncontrollably, yearning for the approbation and acceptance of a fallen, violent, sensual, hateful, angry, licentious, sin-hardened society.  And, they’re standing up in church on Sunday trying to justify this addiction to a sin-ridden culture as an attempt to be “relevant.”

Once solid churches are looking for the money, the crowds, and the social position afforded by bringing worldly culture — including fleshy music, sensual dress, and faddish theology — into their midst.

It’s no surprise, when you consider that, as a preacher, standing firm on traditional doctrine, Bible truths, wholesome music, and the Bible versions issue (which is really about the underlying question of the very existence of God), often means having a small church, little prominence in the community, and a small or no salary.

Meanwhile, if you bring in just a little bit of the world into the church, you can get a larger crowd, more respectability,  and a better salary.

It’s an easy choice … if your motive is a larger crowd, more respectability, and a better salary.  Based upon what I have seen in the past couple years, this does appear to be the motive of the majority of preachers.  Few are willing to drive an older model car, live in a modest house, buy their clothes at Goodwill, work outside jobs, and pray in money day-by-day for daily expenses — just to pastor a small congregation at a little church that barely takes in enough in tithes and offerings to keep the doors open and the lights on. [If this is you, contact me so we can pray for each other and encourage each other.]

One after another, the churches fall.  It’s like watching a California mudslide.  One by one, two by two, and three by three they fall, plummeting down slippery slopes to the certain destruction that always results from worldliness.  I have never seen a church come back. Once a little worldliness is introduced, such as the shallow “praise” choruses, the mudslide increasingly gains momentum until it pulls the house down.

Meanwhile, the only media coverage fundamental Christians get is when a preacher molests a little boy or some self-promoter prays for the President to get brain cancer.   Where are the TV stations when a wife-beater gets saved and a family turns from violence to peace?  Where are the newspapers when a drunk gets saved and becomes a productive member of society?  Where is the media when a man gets his heart right under some old-fashioned preaching and throws away his pornography or becomes a better employee?

It is so easy to despair, and I understand why fundamental Christians often do. But, if we entertain a spirit of defeatism, then defeat is certain.

The fact is, we will only be defeated if we accept defeat.

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

God never asks us to accept defeat.  We are — at the very least — to stand and face the enemy.  In fact, when we read about the “armour of God” in Ephesians chapter 6, we find that the weapon and armor are only effective when we are facing the enemy.  When we retreat, we are exposed and not completely protected.  That “shield of faith” can no longer quench the “fiery darts of the wicked.”  We are vulnerable when retreating, which explains why that is when most Christians fall.

When we begin to assume defeat or a defeatist mentality, then the enemy has us right where they want us.   We are strong when we stand and face the enemy, Sword in hand, clad in the armor of God, refusing to give ground.  We are weak and vulnerable when we retreat.

God not only gives us the admonition to stand against the enemy, but also gives us the armor to defend against them.   Plus, He gives us the ultimate weapon to pierce the enemy’s own defenses.  Why do we sit down and let the enemy move ahead?

I’ll answer that question in a moment.  First I want to share a quote from a famous general.  I love this quote, and you may have heard it from me before.

In World War I, Field Marshall Foch was in command of the French forces defending against the German invasion.  France was pervaded by a spirit of defeatism, much as our fundamental churches are today.  Everyone expected the enemy to roll into the country and take Paris, as they had a few years earlier during the Franco-Prussian war.  The Germans seemed unstoppable, and there was little optimism left in France.

As the Germans advanced, Field Marshall Foch wired this message to Paris:

“I am hard-pressed on my right. My center is failing. It is impossible to move. The situation is excellent. I attack!”

And he did.  Despite his seemingly untenable situation, he launched an offensive instead of retreating and the enemy assault ground to a halt.  For the rest of the War, the lines between the two armies moved only a few hundred feet.  His decision to attack instead of letting the enemy push him back or wither his army away through assault and attrition saved the nation.

I believe that our Captain is calling for us to attack today.  I believe that He wants us to advance, not retreat or whither away.

We look at circumstances and think, “These are the Last Days.  It’s all over.  The enemy is winning.  More churches will close or go liberal.  Fewer people will have the character to stand for sound doctrine and holy living.”  Then, we make decisions accordingly.  We accept defeat as if it is inevitable, and by accepting it, defeat does become inevitable.

But God is calling for us to advance.

I don’t believe that this is a time to roll up the carpet and lock the doors.  And, it’s certainly not a time to become softer in our preaching.  In fact, if anything, we should become bolder and harder in our preaching.  These are Jeremiah days.

Here’s the problem.  Fundamental Christians themselves have become so enamored of this world and this nation’s culture that they don’t care to stand for the Old Time Religion anymore.

Our Captain sounds the horn and calls for  advance, but few join Him.  The bulk of us are sitting back in the trenches, our weapons unready, listening to our CDs, watching our TV shows, planning our futures, counting our money, promoting ourselves, surfing the Internet, or just plain worrying about whether or not the Captain really has the resources He needs to advance.

The Captain calls, and a handful of men and women grab their weapons and climb up out of the trenches, and charge across the muddy battlefield at His side.  The majority stays in the trenches where they don’t have to deal with the enemy fire, or the mud, or the other inconveniences of Battle.  They are neither answering their Captain’s call to arms nor supporting their brothers and sisters who are trying to advance against the enemy.

And, if the enemy gets too close to their trench, they pick up their CDs, their TV, and their money, and they retreat back to the next line of trenches.  But this is where many of them fall — not advancing against the enemy (when their God-given armor protects them), but when they are giving ground to the enemy and retreating, arms full of this world’s things.  The more encumbered they are with the things of this world, the more likely they are to be wounded.

The enemy has no problem shooting you in the back.  In fact, that’s about the only place they can shoot you.

The faithful Christians are advancing into enemy territory.  They are crying out for reinforcements.  They are pleading for supplies.  Some are pinned down by enemy fire. Some are engaged in fierce combat.  Some are throwing up new fortifications in new territory, freshly taken from the enemy.  They are depending upon their brothers and sisters to be behind them, or beside them, supporting them.

But where is the support?  Where are the rest of the troops?  They are back in the trenches, too enthralled by this world to move from the trenches to the battlefield, while their faithful brothers and sisters are being wounded, enduring unrelenting assault, or finding themselves simply unable to advance because so few of the troops showed up for the battle.

Then, many of the faithful begin giving up their gains, considering them to be too small to be significant, or considering their positions to be untenable without the support of their brothers and sisters.

If I could give only a 10-second message to all King James, fundamental Baptist, it would be this:  “We are hard pressed by the left.  Our center is failing.  Modernism and worldliness are flooding in from every direction. It’s time to attack!”

This is a time for advance, not retreat.  It’s time to solidify our positions and to use them as a base to achieve greater gains.  It’s time to search out the faithful brothers and sisters who are serving in isolated, under-supported positions and support them.

And, brothers and sisters, it’s time to put more resources into reaching America  for Christ. International missions is necessary and it is a wonderful privilege to support a missionary bringing the Gospel to a foreign land, but we need to start shoring up our own foundations here in America.  If we don’t make some significant gains here in our own country during the next decade, we will not be able to support international missions anymore.

When ninety percent of our troops here in America are in retreat from or falling in the face of the enemy’s advance, we need to redouble the effort and resources for the missionaries serving right here in our own nation.  We need to support the rescue missions, the domestic church planters, and small churches at a much higher level if we seriously expect to make advances or even hold our own in America.  If we begin making gains again in our nation, then a massive expansion of foreign missions actually becomes feasible.

The fact is that we currently have the resources in our midst to both support foreign missions at its current level and to dramatically expand “home” missions.  But, those resources are tied up at the moment.  They are tied up in the big houses and cars of Christians who are obsessed with being “middle class” while the country around them is going to Hell.  They are tied up in the bank accounts, hobbies, properties, boats, clothing, jewelry, and other encumbrances of Christians who have forgotten that we are pilgrims in a foreign land.

We have become much too comfortable in this world.  We are striving to achieve this world’s norms instead of the next world’s goals.

This is a time to advance.  Defeat is not an option — in fact, I’ve read the last chapter of the book and see that defeat never happens.  Our Captain wins this war.

Today, He has given us, as a whole, the resources and people we need to make great gains.  Let’s cut the cords that bind us to this world, climb out of the trenches, and charge the enemy at the side of our Captain.

The outlook seems gloomy when we look at circumstances, but remember that a handful of Christians who left the upper room filled with the Spirit — the cross before them and the world behind them — eventually conquered the Roman empire.  They were ready to die to advance the Gospel.  They gave up everything that this world offered them, in order to advance the Gospel.  They didn’t care what the world thought, and they didn’t encumber themselves with the things of this world.  The opposition seemed overwhelming with the whole world against those 120 faithful, but they nonetheless charged the enemy lines and won, planting churches all over the known world.

We can do that today, too.  We can climb out of the pews and start new ministries.  We can bring in more on the buses.  We can go out across the countryside planting little churches (and don’t forget that 2-3 little churches can be pastored by one preacher — that model worked for our ancestors on the frontiers, why not today?) across this nation instead of giving over huge swathes of territory to the enemy.

Don’t discount small churches.  A small church is always better than no church — where there is even a little church, there is hope. Where there is none, there is no hope.  Only darkness.

Let’s follow our Captain out of the trenches.  Let’s advance.

A Time to Advance

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

We’re recording the preaching every week, now.  Here’s Sunday’s message — “A Time to Advance” — which coincides with the theme for our upcoming Fall Conference.

VIDEO

This video is in Flash format. If you do not have the free Flash Player, you can download it here.

video loading …

AUDIO:

A Time to Advance (MP3 Audio), Sunday, July 19, 2009 AM, Pastor Meldrum.

New video update

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I have just posted a new video update on the church planting project on YouTube.com. The video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeFlnhQKAl4.

If you are a YouTube.com user, you can subscribe to our “channel” there to be automatically notified when we post a new video update.