Baptist Testimony Volume 51 Number 10 November 2005

From Where I Stand
Maynard H. Belt
MARBC State Representative

2005 Annual Report

“…I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” Ephesians 3:7

Paul’s testimony became mine as I claimed the above verse on the day of my ordination into the gospel ministry. I have never ceased to marvel that God would choose me to be one of his servants. In February, Ann and I will observe our 40th year in full time pastoral ministry and I can not adequately express how honored we are to have had such a call in our lives. It seems like only yesterday that we packed our few belongings in a U-haul and headed North to our first pastorate which numbered about 40 people, an old parsonage and $45 a week in salary. We couldn’t have been happier!

The last fifteen years have been spent serving our State Fellowship and this past year’s ministry has equaled the previous fourteen! We traveled some 28,500 miles (including our Brazil trip and 3 trips into the Upper Peninsula), speaking in 41 churches while being away from home 57 nights. Some of our other journeys included 2 weeks in Brazil speaking at the BMM Brazil S. Region family camp; National GARBC Conf. and Annual State Rep’s meeting in Lakeland, FL; and Blueprint Seminar in Schaumburg, Ill. I also attended board meetings at Baptist Mid-Missions (OH), Continental Baptist Missions (presently serving as chairman of the Presidential Search Committee) and Bible Tracts, Inc. (Bloomington, Ill). I had the privilege of servicing more than 100 of our churches in some way or another, participating in scores of consultations with pastors and deacons, and writing articles and editing the Baptist Testimony, MARBC Messenger and Barnabas File. I also attended many of our regional Fellowship meetings, Men Modeling the Master Seminar, and coordinated our two annual MARBC Men’s Retreats (nearly 600 in attendance this year). Ann, though continuing to struggle with some health challenges, has traveled with me most of the time and every week spends hours keeping records updated, caring for office detail, especially preparations for the state meeting. In fact, when we are home, the office is our central domain.

As Ann and I begin our 16th year of ministry with our State Fellowship, we are fully aware that, though our heart’s desire to continue is as strong as ever, our bodies are feeling the toll of not only the numerous health challenges over the past few years but also age (I never thought I would say that). Though our cancers remain in remission, largely due to your faithful prayer support, we find it increasingly difficult to faithfully keep pace in servicing our 200 plus churches. Having recently shared our future with the Council of Fifteen, our present plans are to continue our ministry with you this coming year, allowing the search committee to seek God’s choice for the next man to serve in this very important role in our Fellowship. Someone who can give our MARBC the needed energy and vision for the days ahead. I am pleased with the Council’s diligent efforts this past year in Strategic Planning for the future of the MARBC. It would be my heart’s desire to pass the mantle on at the 2006 State Conference, which will be held in our home church, West Cannon Baptist Church in Belmont, October 23-24. We do not yet know what the next chapter holds for us in our lives but the Lord has always seemed to have a place – and if health permits, under less demanding circumstances, we will continue to serve the Lord until, as the old hymn goes, “The roll is called up yonder!”

Please continue to pray for us as we anticipate this next year to be full of activity. Lord willing, Ann and I will return to Curitiba, Brazil, in March where I will be teaching a 25 hour module in the Regular Baptist Seminary on “The Local Church in the Books of Acts” with emphasis on Pastoral Theology. Thank you for letting us partner with you. Please know that we love you dearly, and count it a high honor and privilege to serve as your representatives in ministry for Christ.

“The future is our friend if Jesus is our Lord!”

I guess I have always been somewhat of a futurist. Albert Einstein once said, “I never think of the future–it comes soon enough.” But I have been just the opposite. Maybe it is because I am getting older, but I think about the future all of the time. Over the years, I have worried over the future, tried to predict the future, made stupid statements about the future, and even laid awake at night waiting for the future. Yes, I would certainly identify myself as a futurist. I suppose that I could justify my position by saying that my interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there. But even I must admit that sounds a little canned!

When I read the statement by W.W. Wiersbe, “the future is our friend if Jesus is our Lord,” it reminded me to keep a proper focus for truly Jesus is my Lord and that does make all the difference in the world. Enoch was a friend of God and walked with Him through 300 years of wicked times. Then one day, he walked right into the presence of God. Believing in the sovereignty of God, that He sees and knows all, encourages me to take deep breaths and once again rally my trust in Him. I am working on being more like Martin Luther who said, “Even If I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would
still plant my apple tree.”

I wonder if those of us in ministry and faithful local church service do more thinking about the future than most. The future of our churches; the future of our ministries; the future of our children. It just
seems that we are always living in the face of the future. We are always living with the challenge of change.

The Prophet Isaiah says much to encourage us regarding the future: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous hand. For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you'” (Isa. 41:10, 13). The other day, I watched my young grandson reach his little right hand into the secure hand of my son. It brought back memories when he and I walked along hand in hand, not a worry in the world. How blessed we are to know that with the Lord holding our right hand, we can walk right into the future, planting our apple trees along the way!

Yes, the future is our friend if Jesus is our Lord. John Oxenham, noted English businessman, writer and one of my favorite poets, has penned this little verse that might aid us as we daily live in the face of the future.

Lord, give me faith! — to live from day to day,
With tranquil heart to do my simple part,
And, with my hand in Thine, just go Thy way.

Lord, give me faith! — to trust, if not to know;
With quiet mind in all things Thee to find,
And, child?like, go where Thou wouldst have me go.

Lord, give me faith! — to leave it all to Thee,
The future is Thy gift, I would not lift
The veil Thy love has hung ‘twixt it and me.

–Maynard H Belt

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