The Purpose of Ministry

We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:39)

Don’t look at the temporary cost of love, and shrink back from confidence in God’s infinitely superior promises. If you shrink back, not only will you lose out on the promises; you will be destroyed.
Hell is at stake in whether we shrink back or persevere. It’s not just the loss of a few extra rewards that hangs in the balance. Hebrews 10:39 says, “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed.” That is eternal judgment.
So, we warn each other: Don’t drift away. Don’t love the world. Don’t start thinking nothing huge is at stake. Fear the terrible prospect of not cherishing the promises of God above the promises of sin. As Hebrews 3:13–14 says, “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
But mainly we must focus on the preciousness of the promises and help each other value above all things how great the reward is that Christ has purchased for us. We must say to each other what Hebrews 10:35 says: “Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” And then we must help each other see the greatness of the reward.
That is the main task of preaching, and the main purpose of small groups and all the ministries of the church: helping people see the greatness of what Christ has purchased for everyone who will value it above the world. Helping people see it and savor it, so that God’s superior worth shines in their satisfaction and in the sacrifices that come from such a heart.
– John Piper

Repairing a Fractured Faith: Timothy Paul Jones on His Conversion and Ministry

It all started in a library.

A product of a Christian upbringing, Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, was the first in his family to attend college.

And the culture shock was real.

“It was a Christian college and the professors, for the most part, believed the Bible, but they didn’t believe the Bible quite the same way I had been taught to believe the Bible,” Timothy said with a smile. “For us it was King James Version only and all these extraneous things, but in college I started learning about the New Testament text and all these things I never knew about and I found myself questioning my faith.”

Enter the library job.

Timothy, a preacher’s kid, began work in an academic library surrounded by thousands of books and plenty of time.

One night, as he shelved books returned that day, he looked down to find Bertrand Russell’s 1927 essay Why I Am Not A Christian.

“I was questioning my faith in a lot of ways, I was struggling with certain things, and so I just thought, ‘Huh, this is interesting. Why I Am Not A Christian.’”

After reading Russell’s essay, Timothy continued to run into conspiracy theories about Jesus and, as a result, the next several months were spent poring over every skeptical and atheistic work he could get his hands on.

“My faith just began to fracture and crack beneath the weight of all I was reading,” he said. “I was simply not prepared to answer any of the questions that I was being faced with.

“I had never heard about apologetics, I didn’t know what apologetics was. It wasn’t anything I was familiar with at all; I was just reading all this stuff that was attacking the faith in so many different ways.”


As his crisis of faith continued, Timothy discovered C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.

Due to Lewis’s books being banned at his Christian grade school, Timothy’s interest was piqued.

“I began to read and see there is a reasonable case to be made for trusting in Christ,” he said. “But more than that, what really got me was [Lewis’s] sensibility. He wasn’t panicking as if the faith was under attack and he had to angrily respond in attack or anything like that. It was simply, calmly, saying and showing there is a reason to believe in Jesus Christ.”

Maybe it was that calm, winsome way of communicating that did it, or maybe it was Lewis’s prudent way of making sense of the world in a way that told a bigger and better story than he had heard before, but Timothy was hooked.

Over a brief course of time, he was introduced to other writings from F. F. Bruce, R. C. Sproul, and others that took his curiosity from questions to conviction. Conviction about Scripture, reasons for the Christian faith, and, most importantly, the bigness of God.

Timothy, who has authored or contributed to more than a dozen books, went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature before getting his master of divinity in church history and New Testament studies and a doctorate of philosophy with an emphasis on the psychology of faith.


Timothy is now the associate vice president of the Global Campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., as well as a C. Edwin Gheens professor of Christian family ministry.

He also teaches courses in applied apologetics and serves as a pastor at the Midtown congregation of Sojourn Community Church.

Fueled by his own internal struggle to find good reasons for what he thought true about the Bible, Timothy landed in teaching and writing on apologetics in effort to prevent others from struggling the same way he did.

Family ministry, though not his primary focus in research and writing, was his focus as a pastor, minister, husband, and father.

So how do those two fields connect?

“When I teach my class here, for example, on apologetics and the local church, a lot of what I’m doing is talking about what are the factors that contribute to college students losing their faith?” he said. “What are children’s natural inclinations about God and how do we correct false views of God in a way that makes a faith that is more resilient for the future? That’s a lot of what we do, which is the nexus, it’s that point where family ministry and apologetics do interconnect with one another because both are about developing resilient faith that will last into the upcoming and forthcoming generations.”

Firmly persuaded that the call to apologetics is not a call for a certain gender, profession, or role within the church, but for the church as a whole, Timothy is convinced of the necessity of women being trained to reasonably defend the faith.

“Some of the most important apologists in the world are going to be mothers because they are going to hear the questions a long time before the rest of us,” he said. “We need to train our young women to be apologists. We need to train our young single women to be able to mentor young girls and try to help them unpack the issues they are facing in the challenges to their faith. That’s part of what we ought to be doing because 1 Peter 3 is not given to one particular class within the church, this is given to the whole church.”

Timothy and his wife Rayann have been married for 23 years and have four daughters, Hannah, Skylar, Kylinn, and Katrisha. They reside in Louisville.

A Merry Heart

This a true and humorous report that reveals what level of thinking our generation has; just enjoy;

These are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published
by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while the
exchanges were taking place.
______________________________ _
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
______________________________ ______
ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.
______________________________ _______
ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.
______________________________ ________
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his
sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
______________________________ ______
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He’s 20, very close to your IQ.
______________________________ ___________
ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honor, I need a different attorney. Can I get a
new attorney?
______________________________ ___________
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.
______________________________ ___________
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town, I’m going with male.
______________________________ _______
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant
to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
______________________________ ________
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you
performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
______________________________ ___________
ATTORNEY: ALL of your responses MUST be oral, OK?
What school did you attend?
______________________________ ___________
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
______________________________ ___________
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?
______________________________ ________
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

We all should enjoy a good laugh regularly–a merry heart does good like medicine!

To Scotland and Beyond

Returning to Scotland was always the plan.

Burdened for the people of Scotland to know and embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Matthew Spandler-Davison left his job in Scottish Parliament in 2002 to participate in a ministry internship at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. 

The next year, Matthew moved to Louisville, Ky., to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with every intention of returning home to Scotland and planting a church.

“When I came to seminary here, I came with a strong conviction that I was not going to be that guy that doesn’t go back to Scotland,” he said. “The struggle we have is that in places like the UK, we lose our best because they get trained up and they don’t go back. I didn’t want to be that guy.”

But God had other plans.

Matthew Spandler-Davison is the executive director of 20schemes, an organization committed to building healthy Gospel centered churches for Scotland’s poorest communities through church planting and revitalisation.

Though born in Norway, Matthew, 37, grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland, where he now knows of only six Gospel-preaching churches in the entire city of almost 237,000.

“Most of them have considerably less than 100 people in those churches,” he said. “For me to come [to the States] and see so many churches and so many good churches and faithful churches, and to be in a seminary that is literally pumping out thousands of ministers every year, was such a culture shock for me and it just increased my burden for Scotland.”

Matthew’s home church in Scotland, where he was converted as a teenager, does not have a pastor nor can they afford one. Even if they could, Matthew said there are no men to hire.

“I know churches in Scotland that have been sitting without a minister for years and have been desperate for a minister to come but there’s no one applying,” he said. “There are churches around here where, if a job opens up, you get hundreds of resumes. A job opens up in a church in the UK and you may spend three, four, or five years before you get your first resume from somebody interested in that position.”

With that kind of weighty information, Matthew was plagued with the question: How can I be here and yet see such a need there?

Yet, in 2004, God called Matthew and his wife Tracy to plant a church in Bardstown, Ky.

“There were many churches but not healthy Gospel-preaching churches in the area so we were convicted to plant a church and start a small group Bible study in our house,” he said. “It was a Tuesday night meeting that became over time a church, not necessarily by design, but it developed into a church. But from the very beginning, the first year of our church, we had a mission trip to Scotland. From the very beginning we were thinking through, ‘How can this church really be used by God to see a church established and planted in Scotland?’”

Enter Mez McConnell.

Mez, the pastor of Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh, Scotland, grew up in a scheme, served time in prison, and was himself caught up in addiction.

When released from prison, Mez was converted. He moved to Brazil and started a church among street kids before experiencing the same convicted as Matthew.

“He was surrounded by all these missionaries and he thought, ‘Who is sharing the Gospel back home? Who is starting churches back home?’” Matthew said. “So he felt led to go back to the United Kingdom and went to this little community on the edge of Edinburgh called Niddrie.”

A community known for poverty and violence, Niddrie was a place people typically avoided. And it was just the place Mez planted a church in 2007.

“I was fascinated by a number of things,” Matthew said of meeting Mez in 2011. “One, his own story. Second, the fact that he is seeing a church growing in Scotland. That is unusual to see a church grow in Scotland. I’m used to seeing struggling churches but he’s seeing a church thrive. He’s seeing people come to faith. He’s seeing a church grow through conversions.

“And the fact that it’s in a scheme, that we’re seeing someone come from heroin addiction be converted and now being trained for ministry in this little church right there in Niddrie, Edinburgh, a church of 60 or 70 people, I was just so excited.”

Though the men differ in personality and background, they share a love for the church, a love for the Gospel, and the same heart and passion for church planting in Scotland.

“I want to see churches like this established right across the schemes of Scotland,” Mez told him. And right then and there in the backyard of Mez’s house, the pair started mapping out what would become 20schemes.

“Let’s do it,” Matthew told Mez. “Let’s come together as two churches where we can watch this ministry and let’s recruit workers. Let’s get other churches to partner with us. Let’s raise some money and plant some churches right across Scotland.”

Matthew smiled. “That’s how the Lord in His providence and wisdom uses a little church in central Kentucky to do the very thing I felt like I was called to do: plant churches right across Scotland.”

Now, five years after launching 20schemes, the organization has seven church planting teams in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glascow, all at various stages of planting or revitalizing the Gospel work in Scottish schemes.

“It is incredibly exciting to see what the Lord is doing, to see His church built right across the most unlikely parts of Scotland in the schemes,” Matthew said. “As you reach the poor then other churches across the city will take note. You cannot deny Gospel transformation in the poorest parts of your city. When you see a community that has been transformed by a Gospel-preaching church, when you see someone converted from heroin addiction to life in Christ Jesus, when the government has been pumping money into these communities to try to deal with the drug culture and the decay and the urban blight, and yet you see a church started and all of the sudden families are transformed because of the Gospel—people will take note of that. I don’t think that will just affect the schemes but the whole of Scotland for the sake of the Gospel.”

“That’s what Jesus does, right? That’s where He went first. He went first to what seems foolish to the world. He went first to the most unlikely of places and yet the leaders took note. The Pharisees took note, the governor took note, the tax collectors took note, because they saw a transformation happening in the most unlikely of places, and I think that’s what’s going to take place in the schemes of Scotland.”

The country, which is home to almost 5.5 million, is not the poorest nor the least reached nation in the world, but there is a great need for the Gospel and a great opportunity to meet it.

“There’s a wide open door right now, there’s a great opportunity to come and be a part of this ministry,” Matthew said. “Ministry is actually pretty easy there. You’re not trying to create ministry opportunities, it’s everywhere. In fact, people are very open to having spiritual conversations.

“Jesus is worthy to be worshipped in the schemes of Scotland. We’re convinced of that. There are parts of Scotland where He is not being worshipped today and so our motivation is that Jesus be worshipped amid the poor of Scotland where He deserves to be worshipped and across the poorest of Scotland. Who will go? Who will join us?”

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