The Passing of an Era

Judges 2:7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.

An era was coming to an end. Joshua, the faithful, godly leader of Israel had come to the end of his journey. Soon those of that generation would all be gone. The nation would be at a crossroad. Would that generation pass on to the next their heritage and commitment to stay true to Jehovah? Sadly, they did not, “…and their arose another generation…which knew not the LORD.”

Similar circumstances continue in the present. This was evident just recently as I attended the funeral for Evangelist Dr. Neil Cadwell. As I looked around, there were a lot of “grey heads” in the congregation, many of which had been classmates of Dr. Cadwell in those early days of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College. I was struck with the reality that an era was passing.

In fact several eras have already passed within the fundamental movement. For most of us serving in this present era, the former eras are just the stories of the fundamental-modernist controversies and accounts of the ministries of men such as Riley, Jones, Stranton and others. They are just history we read about and sadly, often don’t understand or properly interpret. Why does this happen and what should be our response?

The Inevitability of Time

Time is no respecter of persons. Solomon makes this rather clear in Ecclesiastes 12. When a youth we think we are invincible, yet time takes its toll upon each of us. King David discovered the effects of time upon his own ability to lead his troops. At one event he was almost overcome and had to be rescued, 2Sam. 21:17. Age brings a reduction in strength and sight.

Distance brings a natural reduction in fellowship and influence. The children of Israel were made aware of this affect when the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh returned to the east side of the Jordan. They had erected a great altar as a visible memorial that they and those on the western side were one people, Joshua 22:24, 25.

Death brings an obvious end of the influencing presence of one we love and admire. Joash was the little prince saved by Jehoiada the High Priest. He was hidden from his evil grandmother, Athaliah, who would have killed him to secure her ambitions. When Joash finally ascended the throne, he was a godly king all the days of Jehoiada. But, alas, it was at the priest’s death that he drifted from a place of righteousness.

Each of these preceding dynamics are inevitable. Yet must we simply resign ourselves to the diminishing of God’s favor because time marches on? In future posts we will examine the reasons for negative effects and a proper response.

Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 1:02 PM  Comments (1)  

They Come in Threes

They say that they come in threes, funerals that is. I am not sure who “they” is. Neither can I confirm the truthfulness of the statement. I suppose it depends when you start counting. Almost a self-fulfilling prophecy it seems.
What I do know is that First Baptist in Laurel, Montana has suffered the loss of three prince servants of the Saviour this year, already. The first was Brother Greg Trout, missionary to Ireland. Though his service the Emerald Isle was short, we trust his influence continues to touch those he was reaching out to. The second was Dr. Wayne Musson, retired pastor. Dr. Musson had preached the Gospel for over 50 years. While some may remember him as a war-horse of a previous era, my memory is a bit different. I remember a man who loved his savior, the Word, and to preach. His last official sermon was to the Christian school kids of First Baptist Academy. Even singing them his “Grumbler” song. An old war-horse? Perhaps. But more importantly a man who still desired to be used in the service of the Saviour.
Lastly, and most recently was the promotion of dear saint; Mrs. Judy Cherry. When health permitted she could be found always serving the Lord. Whether that was as a Sunday School teacher, assisting her husband, or washing dishes in the church kitchen, hers was an attitude and action worth emulating. In fact each of these servants left a legacy to be followed.
We know that the Lord’s servants are precious to Him.

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Are we living our lives in such a way that faithfulness is modeled for those we leave behind? Are we living in a way that others are spurred to serve? Or, in a way that causes them to spurn the service of Christ? Are we living for now or later?

Published in: on July 28, 2016 at 12:19 AM  Comments (3)  
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The Call

Pastor, how do I know that I am called to the ministry? That was my question almost 30 years ago. He responded with a simple, yet profound answer.

  1. Desire. “Walt, the Bible says that a man should desire the office of a bishop.” (1Timothy 3:1) If a man has to be coerced into serving the Lord, unless his heart his changed he quite likely will have the attitude of a hireling rather than a shepherd (John 10:13).
  2. Ability. “Secondly,” he said. “If you are called to preach, there will be some drive or push to write or preach. You may find yourself reworking the sermon you are listening to. Perhaps thinking, ‘he should have/could have used this verse or passage’.” The Bible says a pastor should be ‘…apt to teach.’ (1Timothy 3:2)
  3. Opportunity. “Lastly is the issue of opportunity to serve. Do others see this potential gift in you? Do you have open doors to preach or teach?” While we all have the responsibility to witness and serve the Saviour, the opportunity to lead in ministry is not universal.

How thankful I am for that wise pastor’s influence in my life. That man was Pastor David Smith. He pastored the Great Hope Baptist Church in Barco, NC. I was a young sailor feeling the draw into Gospel ministry. He was gracious and generous with me, giving me many opportunities to preach and teach the precious Word of God.

Thank you Pastor Smith!

In His Service,

Pastor Widdis

Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 5:27 PM  Leave a Comment  
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A Heartfelt Thank you!

A few months ago we were all shocked by the sudden home-going of our dear friend and brother in Christ, Missionary Greg Trout. We were naturally grieved over the loss we felt as well as acute concern for his dear wife Marta.

The Lord has been so gracious in this time of sorrow and transition. Marta’s brother was able to go to Ireland and assist her with the details of returning to the states. Her daughter, Shawna, prepared to receive her home and did much of the footwork in preparation for her dad’s memorial service. What a blessing to have family to help in such times. That’s what family is supposed to do, isn’t it?

The Lord worked all the details out. Marta made it home, the Saviour was honored through the service and God’s word that was preached in Ireland will not return void! Many have asked or wondered what will Marta do now? She will do as she has always done – faithfully serve the Saviour she loves. She has settled back in to service here at First Baptist; singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, willing to serve wherever the Lord leads.

Just as we anticipate our family to come alongside us during a time of need, so should our church family. As the Trout’s home pastor I had asked their supporters to continue their regular support up through the month of March. This would give Marta some time to seek the Lord’s will. Not only was support continued but a transition fund has been collecting. Both of these mission’s projects has come to a close. Funds are no longer being accepted for this fund. You are welcome to send any gifts to Marta personally if you wish. Those who have contributed are welcome to contact the church concerning the final amount or disposition of these funds.

As Marta’s pastor and on behalf of her, let me thank you for being such a loving, caring, and generous “family.” May the Lord bless you for your expressed affection for His servant.

Joh 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

In His Service,

Pastor Widdis

Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 4:38 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Missionary Trouts’ Service

Fellow Servants,

A few weeks ago we had the home-going service for Missionary Greg Trout. Greg was a longtime servant here at First Baptist. He was a man quite happy to simply be serving in the background. He will be missed.

We started a fund to assist his wife Marta with the transition from missionary service in Ireland to back home, here in Montana. I had requested that you not only pray for her but express that concern and love tangibly with a contribution to Marta’s Transition Fund. Many of you have, thank you. This will be a great blessing to her in the days ahead.

Greg’s service had been live streamed for those that had the capability to access it. Here is the audio of that service for those who were not able to be with us on that day.

In His Service,

Pastor Widdis

Published in: on January 2, 2016 at 1:20 AM  Leave a Comment  
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The New Year

As I write these thoughts the New Year’s Day is fast drawing to a close. Many have already made their resolutions for 2016. While, normally, such resolutions only serve to give us a false sense of determination, it doesn’t have to be so for a Christian. That is, if your choices for the new year are in light of your relation to Christ and submission to His spirit. He promises to enable us to live and walk in the power of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). Let us as children of the heavenly father resolve to depend upon His enabling for this new year that we may finish it well and not with regret.
Last year, here at First Baptist, our theme was “Joy in Jesus.” My final sermon to our church family was entitled “Finishing with Joy.” I would like to share it with you. May the Lord be even more real to you this year!

In His Service,
Pastor Widdis

Published in: on January 2, 2016 at 1:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Merry Christmas

I trust that you had a wonderful day with your family and loved ones celebrating the birth of the Saviour. Oh, I know that there are those who insist that it certainly couldn’t have happened on this day. Others dismiss the day altogether due to the commercialization of Christ’s birth. Or, because in an ever widening circle, there seems to be no mention of Christ at all. But, was that not how it was on the day that Christ was born? The people seemed ignorant of his coming, the religious ruled were indifferent of it and to Herod it was only an irritant to be dealt with. The world has never been overly receptive to our Saviour. Why should I expect them to give Him proper admiration now?
Some year ago I wrote a little booklet concerning the day He came. As I approach the end of this day that we set aside for that purpose, I would like to share a small portion of it. The booklet was entitled “The Day He Came.” If you would like I would be glad to send you a complementary copy. And now the excerpt:

The Promise

Over 2700 years ago, there was a king who was in a rather precarious position. His nation was being threatened by two larger nations that were in alliance against him. Syria and Israel (the northern ten tribes of the descendants of Abraham) had joined forces against Judah (the southern two tribes of the descendants of Abraham). Ahaz, the current king of Judah, is promised deliverance from them, and God offers to give him a sign to validate this promise. However, Ahaz is a wicked king and not a believer of Jehovah. In an act of false piety he refuses to ask for a sign. As a rebuke, God gave the promise of a sign of His choosing, the birth of a son, the birth of a king, by a virgin.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

This was not the first time God had made this promise. It began oh so long ago in the Garden of Eden when God promised to send the seed of the woman to crush the head of man’s greatest enemy, Lucifer himself. And there had been hints of it down through time by a revelation here, an appearance of God to various people and so forth. That had been so long ago, and, over time, promises are forgotten and man becomes dull to the truth of God.

But God never forgets. He always keeps His promises. God was the founder, controller, and fulfiller of all time. The promise was at hand. The fullness of time had come. That fullness was the day He came.

Galatians 4:4-5
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

The Story

A poor Jewish couple made their way to the city of Bethlehem. They had been traveling for three days. Nazareth was roughly 60 miles from Bethlehem, but the journey was longer on account of taking the long way around to bypass Samaria. Mary was quite far along in her pregnancy, and Joseph was thankful for the donkey. Even though it was old and a bit sway-backed, it was better than Mary having to walk all that way. Caesar had decreed earlier in the year that all the empire was to be taxed and pledge an oath of allegiance to him. The Roman Senate had bestowed upon him the title “Pater Patriae” and was requiring all the citizens to pledge allegiance to him. It was rumored that there had almost been a rebellion among the Pharisees in giving this allegiance. Herod the king was livid about it and had fined all of them (estimated at 6,000). Pheroras’s wife (Herod’s sister-in-law) had paid their fines to release them. There was always a great amount of intrigue about the palace and Herod’s family. All this hubbub was of no concern to Joseph and Mary. They were simple folk from Nazareth and had only been married for six months, he a simple carpenter and she a young maiden expecting her first born child.

It was fortunate for them that this Tebheth had had less than the normal rainfall, as the old Rabbis would say “Good is the year when Tebheth has no rain.” And good it was as so many were on their way to their ancestral homes for the census. While this increase in travelers made procuring lodging a bit of a difficulty, it did greatly cut down on the threat of bandits.

As they came into the valley surrounding Bethlehem, they were reminded of why this town was called the “house of bread.” The green of the olive trees mingled with the colorful blossoms of the almond and peach. The beauty of the valley was a welcome sight to these travelers. Evening was approaching as they entered the city. Bethlehem was buzzing with people. From all over, people had come to register for the census. Joseph could tell that Mary was exhausted and needed to rest. He went from house to house and all the inns, yet there was no room to be found this night. In desperation he came to the last available door to request lodging.
“I am sorry, we are all full; you will have to look elsewhere.” Joseph almost turned away, but then looked at the inn keeper pleadingly.
“Please sir, my wife is with child and her time is near. Is there no place where we may find shelter?” The inn keeper was about to turn them away with even more vigor until he saw Mary. She looked much like his own daughter, and of the same age. A thought flashed through his mind of how he would like his daughter to be treated in similar circumstances.
“Alright, but all I have is the stable behind the inn. The temple shepherds keep their lambs there when they come in from the field. Right now they are out by the Migdal Eder and will not be in for a few days. You may stay there until you can find more suitable accommodations.”
“Thank you, sir. May the Lord Jehovah greatly bless your generosity!”
“Yes, yes, yes. I will see how you are faring in the morning.”

Joseph led Mary to the stable and settled his wife as best he could amidst the typical items one would find in a stable. Mary soon fell asleep. As soon as the donkey was attended to, Joseph did likewise. It was late in the night when Mary woke him.
“Joseph, it is time. The child is coming!” In a short time, Joseph was holding a little boy in his arms. As he looked into his eyes, there was a feeling that filled his heart that he could not explain. All the events of the previous year were running through his mind: Zacharias the priest’s vision of the angel Gabriel, the appearance of the angel to Mary, the pain he felt when he heard that his betrothed was with child, the confusion of what to do, the words that the angel spoke to him. Now here he was holding the child Jesus in his arms.
“Sir, may we see the child?” Joseph was brought out of his thoughts with the coming of some shepherds. Without even thinking, he held the boy so that the shepherds could see him. They all fell to their knees and gave praise to God.
“How did you know that there was a child here?” Joseph asked the shepherds.
“The Lord sent an host of angels to give us word that the Messiah was born this very night and told us where to find him. Those directions led us to this very stable.” As fast as they had come the shepherds left singing and praising God for the child.
“Yes,” Joseph though to himself, “this is the Messiah. That is what the angel said…”

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Whatever your position concerning Christmas day and its observance, He came. He came for us. For that we can all be thankful for it certainly was “good news for all men.”

Published in: on December 26, 2015 at 1:00 AM  Comments (2)  
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Trout Service

Dear Friends,
For those that have been keeping up with the situation concerning Missionary Greg Trout; his funeral service will be held at First Baptist Church in Laurel, MT. It will take place this coming Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. Please continue to keep the family in prayer. Marta will be traveling back this weekend.

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Published in: on December 11, 2015 at 11:38 AM  Comments (1)  
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Grieving #2

Dear Friends,

Many have asked about the services for Missionary Greg Trout. I do not have those details yet. I am anticipating next week for the service. When those details are finalized I will post them.

For those who read the previous post, that presentation was given as a Sunday School lesson for the members of First Baptist. I am making that audio available as well. Please continue to keep Marta and the family in prayer, as well as us here at First Baptist, that we might be a blessing to her when she returns.

In His Service,

Pastor Widdis

Published in: on December 8, 2015 at 2:35 PM  Leave a Comment  

Grieving

Friends,

This past Thursday the family of First Baptist Church in Laurel, Montana received a very unexpected blow. Our dear friend and brother, Greg Trout went home to be with the Lord. Greg had been a long time staff member of First Baptist and had gone to Ireland with his wife Marta to preach the gospel.

He had been suffering from an infection in his lungs that was giving him asthma like symptoms and causing him to pass out and loose consciousness. Of course we began to pray for this pressing need. Yet in our prayers for his recovery, as is often the case in situations like this, we don’t fully know what the Lord is seeking to accomplish in our lives and the lives of those around us. At such times we can be comforted by the reality the Holy Spirit’s ministry.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

In this long journey of Greg and Marta’s travels on deputation and finally arriving in Ireland, their one desire was to submitted to their Saviour. Even in this most recent struggle they were totally surrendered to Him. Their desire was God’s will in their life, not just God’s blessings for living. In the Lord’s wisdom, it was time for Greg to go to heaven. “But, what about our prayers? Didn’t God hear them? ” You may ask. Of course, we have a God that hears our prayers.

Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he hearth the prayer of the righteous.

Let me remind you that prayer is not for the purpose of getting what we want from God (Ja. 4:3). God is not an indulgent parent satisfying the whim and wishes of a spoiled child, even if those wishes seem righteous. Rather prayer is our submission to His will, and an act of acknowledging  our dependence upon Him.

In light of the circumstances of the passing of Greg Trout let me share some thoughts that I trust the Lord will use to help and comfort you.

Wonder – The Why of our Questions.

Romans 9:20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

Of course when we receive news of this nature we are shocked and almost immediately ask, “What happened?” This is natural. There seems to be an inner need for us to have an answer for the for the events that take place in our lives. But we can quickly digress to questions of curiosity. “Did you do this?” “Why did you not do that?” Such questions may be innocent but harmful. We can inadvertently introduce doubt in the mind and cause the one already grieving and suffering to think that they are responsible for the loss.

Certainly such questions should never be asked out of a sense pride. Subtly implying that, somehow we would have done the “right” thing and hence the outcome would have been different. That is sinful.

Never should we question the Lord’s wisdom. He knows the end from the beginning.

Waste – The Wisdom of Submission

Matthew 26:8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?

Mary was rebuked for her great gift to the Lord. The disciples saw it as a waste. The Lord saw it as an act of worship. Like the disciples we, at times, when face to face with the loss of a life, see only the loss and not the gift.

Was it a waste to travel the many miles on deputation to spend so short a time on the field of service? Was it a waste to incur all the financial expense without the visible return on our investment? The answer depends on the value we place on the souls of men and women; boys and girls. The answer depends on the value we place on our worship to the Lord. Do we have the omniscience to see the eternal impact of a life lived for God? Were we investing for a return in this life or eternity? I am not dismissing the normal desired intent of missionary service, just reminding us that we are not the master, just the servants. The Lord has the right to use His servants as He wishes. He owns me by right of creation and redemption. Perhaps Greg’s example will inspire others to go to the Emerald Isle and thereby multiplying the work of the Gospel in that nation.

Worship – The Willingness of Sacrifice

2Corinthians 8:5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

2 Corinthians 12:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

Our Saviour gave His life. Our heavenly Father gave His one and only begotten son. All this, that you and I may have the privilege of coming to Him. What have you given His to show your love and gratitude? Would you give yourself to Lord?

Walk – The Way of Action

James 2:17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

What does Marta and the rest of the family need now? Certainly they need our prayers for the Lord’s comfort and wisdom in the days ahead. Marta, specifically, will need our help. There is a great transition coming in her life. There is the move back to America. The establishment of normal living without the aid of her husband. Could you help. All can pray. Some can give. If you are so lead you may send gifts to the church designated for Marta’s transition fund. Thank you.

First Baptist Church, 400 7th Avenue, Laurel, MT 59044

Published in: on December 6, 2015 at 9:40 AM  Comments (2)