Straight to the Heart

 
 
 

Who Was Lottie Moon?

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13, ESV).

 
During the month of December, we are praying together for the Southern Baptist Convention missions agencies, and in particular, for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LCMO) for International Missions.  Beginning with the first Sunday in December, we will be taking part in this special offering as a church for the first time in over five years. Over the last five years, we have had a line item in our budget for the LMCO, but we want to give you the opportunity to participate above and beyond your regular giving.
 
As we close out the year, let me encourage you to continue your regular, cheerful, sacrificial giving. However, we also want to give you an opportunity to give above and beyond your usual contributions. 100% of the LCMO goes directly to resource international missionaries on the field.  We ask that you pray about what you can give to support the spread of the gospel to the nations through this annual offering.  In case you don’t know why this offering is named after Lottie Moon, below is a brief biography from the International Mission Board.
 
 

Lottie Moon December 12, 1840—December 24, 1912

Today’s China is a world of rapid change. It’s home to 1.3 billion individuals-one-fifth of the world’s population. Village dwellers flock to trendy megacities with exploding populations, and China holds its own in the world’s economy. It’s very different from the vast farmland Lottie Moon entered in the 1800s, but one thing hasn’t changed: China’s need for a Savior.
 
Lottie Moon – the namesake of the international missions offering – has become something of a legend to us, but in her time Lottie was anything but an untouchable hero. She was like today’s missionaries and was a hard-working, deep-loving Southern Baptist who labored tirelessly so her people group could know Jesus.
 
Her Mission

When she set sail for China, Lottie was 32 years old. She had turned down a marriage proposal and left her job, home and family to follow God’s lead. Her path wasn’t typical for an educated woman from a wealthy Southern family. However, Lottie did not serve a typical God. He had gripped her with the Chinese peoples’ need for a Savior.

For 39 years Lottie labored, chiefly in Tengchow and P’ingtu. People feared and rejected her, but she refused to leave. The aroma of fresh-baked cookies drew people to her house. She adopted traditional Chinese dress, and she learned China’s language and customs. Lottie didn’t just serve the people of China; she identified with them. Many eventually accepted her, and some accepted her Savior.
 
Her Vision
Lottie’s vision wasn’t just for the people of China. It reached to her fellow Southern Baptists in the United States. Like today’s missionaries, she wrote letters home, detailing China’s hunger for truth and the struggle of so few missionaries sharing the gospel with so many people – 472 million Chinese in her day. She shared another timely message, too: the urgent need for more workers and Southern Baptists passionately supporting them through prayer and giving.
 
In 1912, during a time of war and famine, Lottie silently starved, knowing that her beloved Chinese didn’t have enough food. Her fellow Christians saw the ultimate sign of love: giving her life for others. On Christmas Eve, Lottie died on a ship bound for the United States, but her legacy lives on. So today, when gifts aren’t growing as quickly as the number of workers God is calling to the field, her call for sacrificial giving rings with more urgency than ever.
 
How much does High Pointe plan to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year? Our goal is a modest $40,000.00. Please join us in praying that we meet our goal, and seek the Lord’s guidance as to how much you will be able to give toward that goal, for the sake of the gospel of our Lord.
 
 
Love,
 


Speaking Life-Giving Words to One Another

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…The lips of the righteous feed (shepherd) many…”

(Proverbs 10:11, 21, ESV)

At a board meeting some time ago, the chairman asked the board members what we had been reading. At the time, one of the brothers was reading Scottish Puritans: Select Biographies. He shared with us James Fraser’s twelve rules for ordering his conversations. In God’s providence, I was preaching through Proverbs and as I matter of fact, that next Sunday, I was preaching on “Taming the Tongue.” The counsel was so helpful that I used it in applying the sermon to ourselves.
 
Sadly, we live in a culture – and I am talking about the Christian culture – that we need to remind ourselves of such heart-exposing, conscience-convicting, wisdom-providing counsel ourselves. Let me encourage us, then, in this way – before we post anything on social media, before we send an email, before we respond to another brother or sister, review these twelve rules and choose to speak life-giving words. I’ve updated the language and added applicable Proverbs. You may find these twelve rules in the Memoirs of the Reverend James Fraser of Brea, Scotland 1798.
 
1st Rule: Speak nothing sinful: Lying, cursing, scolding, backbiting, gossip, slander – anything that dishonors God or neighbor.
13:3, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
 
2nd Rule: Speak no idle words: Will what I speak profit or is it vain, empty?
25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”
 
3rdRule: Speak not much:
10:19, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
 
17:27-28, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
 
4th Rule: Speak soberly both as to matter and to manner:
Not loud, obnoxious.27:14, “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.”
 
5th Rule: Speak not rashly or hastily:
29:20, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
 
6th Rule: Speak weightily, seriously:
26:18-19 | “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking.’”
 
7th Rule: Speak in Faith: Do you know and believe what you’re saying?
12:22 | “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”
 
8th Rule: Speak Prayerfully: Have you prayed about what you will say?
15:29 | “The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
 
9th Rule: Speak timely and purposeful: 
15:23 | “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is.”
 
10th Rule: Speak in Fear: keep a bridle in your mouth.
8:13 | “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”
 
11th Rule: Do not let your neighbors’ faults be the subject of your talk, even if true.
16:24 | “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
 
12th Rule: Speak not of yourself or your worth:
16:18 | “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
 
Love,
 


Why Do We as a Church Give Over 10% to Gospel Work Beyond Our Walls?

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.  For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.  Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace.  But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you— see that you excel in this act of grace also.

(2 Corinthians 8:1-7, ESV)
 
God has sustained High Pointe financially over our last thirteen years together. By the grace of God – manifested in your joyful giving – our financial support of missions has steadily increased. Throughout this same time, the Lord has allowed us to pay down a significant portion of the approximately $4,500,000 debt High Pointe had when I arrived. As of today, the remaining debt totals $1,043,316.08. Our monthly loan payment went from about $29,000.00 in 2005, to just over $6,000.00 in 2018. We praise and thank our gracious heavenly Father for His kindnesses toward us and His generosity through you!
 

Unfortunately, if you looked at our worship bulletin last Sunday, you will have noticed that we are about $158,701.00 behind our budget goals for 2018. Although this is a significant amount behind our budget expectations, by God’s grace, we are in the best financial footing we’ve ever had in thirteen years. We are underspending our budget, and we have about $20,000.00 in reserves. Additionally, although our budget income is not what we estimated it would be at this point in the year, we continue to give over 10% of our operating income to gospel work outside of High Pointe.

 
By giving so generously during our financial limitations as a church, the elders want to model generous, sacrificial giving. We also want to communicate that giving is a great joy, that it is more blessed to give than to receive – even when we think we can’t afford it. We desire for all of you experience the joy of giving just as the Macedonians did when they gave out of an abundance of joy and out of their extreme poverty (2 Corinthians 8-9). We can’t afford not to give, for there is great blessing and resulting joy when we give generously and sacrificially.
 
When I first arrived, we were communicating the very opposite of generous, sacrificial giving. Instead, it was as if we were saying, “We can’t afford to give right now, so we’ll keep everything you give right here at High Pointe.” Can you see the conflicting message that sends? Can you see that this is not good stewardship? God does not bless us so that we would hoard His blessings; He blesses us so that we would bless others. Therefore, we want to continue modeling gospel-driven giving as a church. We want to keep stepping out in faith and give out of our abundance of joy in what the Lord is doing among us and in our world, and we want to allow our difficult financial position to overflow in a wealth of generosity.
 
To be sure, this does not mean it will be easy. However, we will not let circumstances like debt hold us back from doing God’s will and God’s work. So, we will continue giving over 10% of what we receive from your regular giving to gospel work outside of High Pointe, while also diligently tackling our debt and funding ministry.
 
Two years ago, under similar financial circumstances, we went to the church and planned a special offering for the first Sunday in December. We don’t expect to do that this year. Instead, we are planning on emphasizing the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, beginning in December. Once again, we want to communicate that it is the Lord who provides, and we will faithfully and sacrificially give so that those who presently do not know Christ, may hear the gospel and respond.
 
Would you join us in this act of faith and love, evidenced by our own generous giving? Pray about your present level of regular giving. Perhaps you’ve never contributed, and you need to begin. Maybe you have given regularly, and the Lord may lead you to increase your present level of giving. Or it could be that the Lord will lead you to continue giving at the level you have been faithfully contributing in the past. In whatever way the Lord leads, let’s commit together to give generously, cheerfully, and regularly out of an abundance of joy and our present financial situation so that God would be glorified, the lost would hear the good news, and so that we may be filled with joy. As you excel in everything, see that you excel in this act of grace also.
 
Be sure to go to our website to learn about different ways you can give at High Pointe. Click HERE.
 
Love,
 



Juan Sanchez

Juan Sanchez (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. In addition, Juan serves as a council member of The Gospel Coalition, co-founder and president of Coalición, assistant professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He has authored numerous books, including 1 Peter for You and Seven Dangers Facing your Church (forthcoming March 2018). Juan and his wife, Jeanine, have five daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren.
 
    

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