Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review God's Providence

I attempted to preach a sermon Sunday from Genesis 50:19-20 entitled "How I Got Over". Joseph taught us that one of the first steps we need to take to is to Release Our Past; however, there are other steps we need to make. Another step we need to make is to Review God's Providence.

The elephant in the room, the unmentioned mentionable, the question that seems to hit the lips of society is when a tragedy hits, when bad things happen, where was/is God? I see it all the time and if you think about it, so do you! An earthquake happens, a mudslide in California takes place, a tsunami in the Orient strikes, a tornado falls in the Midwest and CNN, ABC, FOX NEWS will convene a panel with religious experts engaging in the field of Christian Apologetics trying to explain where was God and why did He allow this to happen?

The consensus of the public is either God does not exist or He does not care. If HE cares, HE is powerless to stop it because after all, bad things can only mean, GOD was not there. Joseph teaches us this concept is not true because he says if you want to know How I Got Over, all you have to do is Review God's Providence.

Without the systematic traditional theological Biblical survey language, Providence simply is "To Go Before" and "To see After". The story of Joseph suggests this is true and he begs us just to Review God's Providence. The phrase "The Lord was with Joseph" becomes a common thread woven through the tapestry of Joseph's testimony.

Even when he was sold he was still secure because God was with him. When he was with Potiphar, he still prospered because God was with him. In problems, he is still promoted because God is with him. While enduring fabrications and falsifications, God still shows favor by letting Joseph go to "The King's Prison". In prison, God is still with Joseph, when others forget, God remembers and in due season, Joseph is positioned in the place God has arraigned from the beginning because God will go before and see after.

When we Review our life, it is tempting to say God has forgotten about us. Death, loss of friends and family, pink slips and over draft notices can make you say Where is God? We mistakenly believe that "favor" is the absence of problems. God should stop the factory from shutting down. God should prevent my doctor from giving me a bad report on the MRI. God should stop my family member from dying but favor is not the absence of problems but rather it is the prosperity of God's children even through problems because GOD has gone before and seen after.

I am reviewing God's Providence. God was there when General Motors closed down on February 24, 2006. He went before and Saw after so on June 26, 2006, General Motors in Arlington, Texas offered me another job. I walked away as the assistant to the Pastor of the Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church on the fifth Sunday December 31st, 2006 but because God went before and saw after Easter Sunday Morning April 6th, 2008, I became the Pastor of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. When I walked away from the provisions and the protection of General Motors, The Lord has Gone before and Saw after and provided my buy-out parachute to allow me to work full-time as a Pastor.

As you read this blog, you may be tempted to think that 2010 was a bad year. You may think that God forgot you, abandoned you or left you all by yourself. I invite you to slow down, sit sown and write down all the bad things that happened in your life in 2010, I bet you will discover that God was there all the time.

Review God's Providence,

Owens

A Great Book on the Providence of God is by D. A. Carson, "The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story", not systematic or theological but a character driven devotional walk through the Bible on the Providence of God. Good read.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Release Your Past

How I Got Over! How I got Over! My Soul Looks back and wonders How I Got Over! I wanna Thank Him because He brought me, I wanna thank Him because He taught me, I wanna thank Him because He kept me, I wanna Thank Him because He never left me. I gonna sing Hallelujah, I gonna shout troubles over, I gonna thank God for being so good to me.

Whatever version you sing or singer you listen to, Mahalia, Aretha or Vickie the words are still powerful and inspiring. On this last Sunday of the year, I can not help but look back on what God has done for me in 2010. I realize that we have been trained that this song is to be sung when we cross over to the other side but I realized this song can be sung now because it is a song of reflection and remembrance.

Time and vocabulary limit me from saying all I could say about how good God has been to me this year so I brought a witness. His name is Joseph. The dreamer who saw his future but didn't understand all of what he saw. The boy that was cast in a pit, sold for a profit, was accosted by the first "Cougar" in the Bible, Potiphar's wife, thrown into prison but ultimately was elevated next to Pharaoh. Joseph can tell us How to make it Over.

Joseph tells us the first thing we need to do in order to make it over is to RELEASE YOUR PAST. Some people can never move into the future because they are held hostage by their past, what happened to them, who lied on them, who mistreated them. Every time they see the person they review and remember so instead of releasing their past, they REHEARSE THEIR PAIN. They live life as a perpetual victim instead of the promised victor.

No one would have been angry with Joseph if he told his brothers off. It would be expected. After all, they plotted against him. After all, the cast him in a pit, they sold him for a profit. But Joseph doesn't do this, instead he Releases His past. He says, "God did this, and not you. He sent me ahead of you to preserve you, to secure a remnant".

In saying this, Joseph is no longer the Victim but rather he is the Victor. Someone reading this needs to Release their Past. All of us have family that mistreated us; people who have lied on us; acquaintances who ate and drank in our presence while we had nothing, but God allowed this to happen, not to destroy us but to develop us.

When you have become free from you past, you live in that freedom. Have you ever met someone who describes to you something that happened to them? In their description, their breathing changes, their voice becomes elevated, the color either leaves or changes in their faces. You can tell they have become disturbed. The amazing part of this is they are describing something that happened 10 years ago but because they have never let it go, it sounds like it just happened yesterday.

When they see the person, they walk the other direction, frown up, become upset, even leave church, because they are still the Victim. They make future relationships pay for past ones. They refuse to accept future blessing because of past disappointments but God wants us to follow Joseph's example and free ourselves into victory by releasing our past.

I have written too much and hopefully will synthesize this by the time I preach it as this is just the first point but I leave the blog with this: Look at you body. All of us have a scar! Somewhere! There is a place where we fell, were struck or cut, scratched or scraped that left evidence.

When you point to the scar, you remember the story. You remember what happened. You remembered you cried, the blood, etc. However, what you can not remember is the Pain. You remember there was pain, but somehow the pain of the event is gone. If it wasn't then every time you remembered the event, you would cry, but the pain is gone.

That's what God does for us when we RELEASE OUR PAST. We remember the event, we remember the experience but we live in the Emancipation FROM the event. We are no longer a VICTIM TO but rather we are VICTORS FROM.

Yes, we have scars, yes we have wounds, yes we have evidence of battles, scrapes and dust-ups but God has freed us. Now our scars are our testimony, I am free, You meant to kill me, you tried to destroy, the scar is the proof you meant it for my evil but God meant it for my good.

I am going to the pulpit and pray this works out but I am shouting because God just gave me something that I didn't write. FOR ALL MY SCARS GOD HAS GIVE ME SOMETHING BETTER THAN COCOA BUTTER, I AM COVERED BY HIS BLOOD.

HEY GLORY, KEEP RUNNING

Owens

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas contrasts

R. G. Lee, that great Baptist preacher once wrote: “There never was another Who caused all creation to be ransacked in pursuit of words appropriate to convey to human hearts and minds His glorious pre-eminence.

There never was another Who was a human child and also a divine Son; Who was wounded by Satan and Who, at the same time crushed Satan; Who was appointed the Savior of men, yet was crucified by men; Who was Judge of men; yet was led as a felon from one tribunal to another.There never was another Who died and was buried and yet lived; Who saved others and Himself could not save; Who had no sin in Him, yet all sin on Him; Who was the King of Glory, yet wore no crown but a crown of thorns; Who, in the glory He had with God before the world was, had the angelic hails of heaven and yet, on earth, gave Himself to the murderous nails of men!

There never was another Who was the Prince of life, yet died on Calvary; Who was as old as His heavenly Father and ages older than His earthly mother.There never was another Who was the victim of a Roman cross and victor at a Jewish grave.There never was another Who poured all seas, all lakes, all rivers out of the crystal chalices of eternity, yet on a cross said with a mouth hot like a parched desert that cries for rain, ‘I thirst’”.All of this was written to describe the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Jesus Christ was born in the meanest circumstances, but the air above was filled with the hallelujahs of the heavenly host. His lodging was a cattle pen, but a star drew distinguished visitants from afar to do Him homage. His birth was contrary to the laws of life. His death was contrary to the laws of death.

No miracle is so inexplicable as His life and teaching. He had no cornfields or fisheries, but He could spread a table for 5,000 and have bread and fishes to spare.... Three years He preached His Gospel. He wrote no book, built no church, had no money back of Him. After 2,000 years, He is the one central character of human history, the perpetual theme of all preaching, the pivot around which the events of the age revolve, the only regenerator of the human race.

Was it merely the son of Joseph and Mary who crossed the world's horizon 2,000 years ago? Was it merely human blood that was spilled on Calvary's hill for the redemption of sinners, and which has worked such wonders in men and nations through the centuries? What thinking man can keep from exclaiming, 'My Lord and my God!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Santa Theology vs. Grace Theology

It is unfortunate that many people learn their theology from songs rather than Scripture. That is to say, many people base their beliefs on the beat of the song rather than the basics of the Bible. It reveals itself in many ways and applications but one time it is clearly seen is at Christmas.

The Christmas song "Santa Claus is coming to town" says "He is making a list and checking it twice, he is gonna find out who is naughty or nice". Parents have used this song as a bargaining tool for better behavior. Individuals have used this as an incentive to give or not give to someone.

Santa Theology suggests "Only the righteous deserve a Christmas gift"
Santa Theology suggests "Give only to those who are good"
Santa Theology suggests "Give to those who have earned it".

And whether you realize it or not, many people use "Santa Theology" in their lives. Wives decide whether or not they will be intimate with their husbands based on behavior" We give gifts to people based on whether we like them or they have been good to us. Children believe they should be rewarded for keeping a room clean or bringing home good grades.

However, this flies directly in the face of the Bible and Grace Theology. Luke 2:10-11 (HCSB) "But the angel said to them, 'Don't be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: [11] today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David."

Therefore the good news of great joy isn't just for the good people; it is for all the people. Even people who've committed great sins. Grace, unmerited favor, something I have not earned and can't pay back, God's riches at Christ's expense. I HAVE THIS GIFT BECAUSE OF GRACE.

Some of you think you woke up today because you were so good yesterday (Santa theology) but I woke up today because God looked beyond my faults and saw my needs (Grace theology). Some of you believe you drive what you drive, wear what you wear, live how you live because you earned it (Santa theology) but I am driving, wearing and living like I am because Jesus said to my creditors, his debt give it to me and my credit that I have with you, give it to him. (Grace Theology).

The good news of great joy is for all the people so let's tell the good news of grace and not Santa.Go tell it on the Mountain, Over the Hills and everywhere, Go tell it on the Mountain that Jesus Christ Has come.

Owens

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Living Life In Between the Waves

Living in South Bend, Indiana has its unique challenges. Great town! Great people! Great environment and yet there are challenges. The snow season has kicked into high gear and in order to survive it, one must learn how to live in between the waves.

We receive "System Snow", "Clipper Systems" and "Lake Effect Snow". System Snow is the mildest of the three. There is advance warning! It won't stay around long and usually it won't leave too much precipitation, maybe 1" to 3" inches.

Clipper systems are seasonal, usual coming from November through February. They are fast moving, can appear out of no where, not much if any notice and can be very intense in a short amount of time leaving large patches of precipitation.

Lake Effect Snow is the worst of the three. It is a dumping! Large amounts of snow that never seems to end. It comes in waves and depending on which way the wind blows, it can miss you to the east, miss you to the west or it can hit you dead center. As of this blog writing for the season we are at a snow total of 14.5" inches of snow. Watching and dealing with this snow gave me a Word for someone.

Many times we hate the season of our lives and we pray for God to change the season. We groan, agonize, plead and fast for God to remove/change/alter the season, when God is trying to teach us how to live in between the Waves.

For some it is cold in your lives, no warmth, no sun, just cloudy cold days where you wonder will it ever get better. It does. IT IS IN BETWEEN THE WAVE. During the winter here, we may go 30 to 40 days without the sun shining, however even in between the clouds, the sun is so powerful, that even when the clouds won't leave, there are times the sun leaves an indention where the "GRAY BECOMES BRIGHTER". It's isn't the sun, it isn't clear skies but it is a reminder the Sun is still there. Gray becomes not as gloomy, not as dungy, GRAY BECOMES BRIGHTER.

There are times we need to remind ourselves that even when the clouds in our lives won't roll away, God is still powerful to shine through the clouds and leave an indention.

There are seasons in our life where it looks like it won't stop snowing, raining, storming, thundering, precipitation won't end. How do you live with it. The first year here in South Bend the winter season yields 119" inches of snow. Last year, it yielded 78" inches of snow, so far this year 14.5". Someone asks how do you do it? It's easy, you live in between the waves.

It changed my spiritual live when I realized this in my natural life here in town. IT DOES NOT SNOW ALWAYS. It only seems like it does but it will stop. YES, more is coming, YES, more is on the way, YES, it is only a temporary break, but IT IS A BREAK. During that break, we dig out, we shovel through, we make room, we clear space, so that when the next snowfall comes, it doesn't stack higher than we can see.

God always gives you a break in between the waves, so I don't need Him to change the seasons. Yes it would be nice, Yes it would be great, YES I WOULD LOVE IT. But I waste time arguing with God to change something that is due to the season I am in. It won't be 80 in the winter, it won't be sunny during cloudy times, it won't be dry in the middle of rainy season, so just find your IN BETWEEN WAVE.

It's the place where I find peace WHILE the storm rages, it is the sanctuary I worship in WHILE trouble is all around, it's the hiding place I rest WHILE my enemy is trying to subdue, it's the pocket of praise I find in the middle of my hell, it's the encouragement in the Lord that strengthens me so I can deal with the next attack that is coming.

Sometimes between the 6" inches of trouble that you are going through now and the 12 inches of desperation that will follow that and the 8 inches of disappointment that is the after affect of that, it's tempting to ask, plead, fuss, cry out to God to change the season but God can teach you how to live in between the waves. Dig out, shovel through, climb over, burrow out. LIVE LIFE IN BETWEEN THE WAVE

OWENS

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rosa parks: "It just takes one person"

Rosa Parks

It amazes me how many people don't seem to realize the historical value of this date in history. It seems like more people are paying attention to man-made concerns than actual history. While I appreciate the massive pandemic of AIDS, let us never forget the epic pandemic of racism that even now still pervades our society.

I had the thought while reading this great history. It doesn't take a lot of people to change something. It just takes one person who is willing to say I have had enough and I won't stand for this anymore. Our churches would be better if one person would just say, I have had enough. Our schools would be safer, if one parent would say, I have had enough. Thank God Rosa Parks made this declaration. It just takes one person.

On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks, with one single act of ‘defiance’ that would launch the Montgomery Bus Boycott, became the first lady of the Civil Rights Movement.

Many of us grew up with the notion that Parks simply didn’t want to give up her seat because she was tired from work. But as she revealed in her autobiography “My Story,” she knew very well what her decision to disobey bus driver James Blake would mean something.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her. As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, “Why do you push us around?” The officer’s response as she remembered it was, “I don’t know, but the law’s the law, and you’re under arrest.” She later said, “I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind.”

We thank you, Rosa Parks, for helping change the world.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This Christmas, Who Will Take the Son???

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, "Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art." The young man held out this package. "I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this."

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. "Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift."The father hung the portrait over his mantle.

Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. "We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?"There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, "We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one."But the auctioneer persisted. "Will somebody bid for this painting. Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?"Another voice angrily. "We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh’s, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!"

But still the auctioneer continued. "The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?"Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. "I’ll give $10 for the painting." Being a poor man, it was all he could afford."We have $10, who will bid $20?""Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.""$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?" The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel. "Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!"A man sitting on the second row shouted, "Now let’s get on with the collection!"The auctioneer laid down his gavel. "I’m sorry, the auction is over.""What about the paintings?"I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!"

In all of your getting, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Don't Forget to take the Son. The man who gets the son gets everything.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rev Benjamin Holmes Obituary



Holmes, Pastor Benjamin On December 21, 1930, Pastor Benjamin Holmes was born in Leslie, Georgia to Lynwood Holmes and Victoria Smith Holmes, Sr. Leaving a lasting legacy, he made his Heaven-bound transition on Monday, November 22, 2010. In addition to his parents, five brothers and a granddaughter preceded him in death. He was a respectable, gentle boy and the ninth of ten children. At an early age, Pastor Holmes accepted Christ as his personal savior and never let go. He was a faithful member of Shady Grove MBC in Leslie, Georgia and of Pilgrim MBC in Gary. In 1953, Pastor Holmes married the love of his life, Leatra Purnell Holmes.

To this union, they were blessed with six beautiful children: Yvonne (Rev. Willie) Nichols, Evelyn, Ben Jr., Jeanette (Council) Jones, Antoinette (*Thomas) Gaines, and Melissa. Pastor Holmes was the organizer and pastor of the New Friendship MBC for 53 years! He was employed at the Combustion Engineer Corp., US Steel Mill, the Gary Community School Corporation, and the chaplain for the Gary Steelheads. Pastor Holmes graduated from A.S Stanley High School in Americus, GA. He then attended Fort Valley State College. He received a Doctor of Divinity Degree from the Theological Institute in Houston, Texas; an associate Degree from Calumet CoIlege and a BA in Religious Studies and Pastoral Psychology.

Pastor has mentored and ordained numerous licensed ministers. Multitudes looked to him for direction, encouragemet and mentorship. Pastor Holmes has been awarded innumerable awards for commendations: Tolle-Mann Community Service Award; 2009 Outstanding Pastor of the Year, Midwestern Baptist Laymen Fellowship, Honorary Attorney General for the State of Indiana, Awarded Pastor Of the year by GMOR Theological Seminary, officially certified by the Sunday School Publishing Board in Nashville, TN., distinguished Leader Awards from God's First Ministry, and Instructor for District and State Conventions.

Cherished forever, Precious memories of Pastor Holmes' dedicated life will be shared by his loving, devoted, "easy on the eye" wife of 57 years and best friend, Lady Leatra Holmes; six children, seven grandchildren: LaKisha, Terrance (Tamika), Tarriesha (Rev. Royce Sr.), Antoine, James, Anthony, and Damion II, eight great grandchildren, four sisters: Lucille Franklin, Eleanor Mays, Izora Frank, and Gennie Williams, the entire body of the New Friendship MBC Family, and a host of many nieces, nephews, cousins, fellow yoke men, other relatives and friends. "Well done thy good and faithful servant", you will be greatly missed!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

It has been two years since the entire family has been back at mommas house for Thanksgiving. The past two years my brother and me have been celebrating Thanksgiving in Canfield, Ohio at his house with the girls doing the "Man's Thanksgiving. We would always have a good time and the girls loved it with many of our "non traditional foods" along with the classics.

However, it has just taken a couple of minutes to realize how wonderful it is to be back home. Eating out of the pot, food everywhere, starting fights, mom already ready to get the belt, my aunt's undying passion for the Dallas Cowboys, plus, I forgot how much family I have. Good Lord, this many people in here, I need an offering plate!

The Lord has blessed my mother, Angeline Owens to see 75 years. Today is her birthday. Although we have tried to cook and introduce our man food into this tradition, we quickly were reminded, THIS IS HER HOUSE. She is an amazing woman and I thank God for her everyday. I wouldn't be the man, Pastor or even father I am if it was not for her.

The weather just became normal as when I first arrived, it was in the 80's and 70's but I left South Bend in the 30's so I needed it to cool off. I have become a Northerner. I need it cool in November.

I plan on thinking about the goodness of Jesus, thanking God for all He has done, spoiling my girls, picking fights and gobble till I wobble.

No running, call a medic, MAN DOWN

Owens

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thou Shalt Not FaceBook

New Jersey pastor orders church to get off Facebook because too many couples are using it to cheat

A Christian pastor in New Jersey is commanding his church leadership to get off Facebook because he says too many congregants are using the social tool to cheat on their spouses. The Rev. Cedric Miller, at Living World Christian Fellowship in Neptune, N.J., has issued an ultimatum to roughly 50 married church officials: delete your Facebook accounts or resign.

Miller said that over the past six months, some 20 couples at his church have sought his counseling for infidelity problems because either the husband or wife had reconnected with an old flame on Facebook or were using the site as an online singles bar to pick up men and women.
"I've been in extended counseling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half," Miller said. "What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations, and there have been physical meetups. The temptation is just too great."

The pastor, 48, plans to preach about the subject on Sunday, but concedes that, while the associate pastors, deacons, minister and other leaders must follow his orders, he can’t tell the congregation what to do. Miller had asked married church members to share their passwords with one another, but that solution didn’t seem to be working.

"The average citizen is going to see my action as controlling, not that I care about that," Miller told the Asbury Park Press. "I'm not concerned with being politically correct. I'm trying to save families and marriages."
Miller, a married father of six, has a Facebook account, but said he will deactivate it this weekend.

WHAT DO YOU THINK:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We've Come This Far By Faith

The story is told of an old farmer who had a strawberry farm. He was on his knees pulling out weeds when he noticed there were runners on the berry plants. From each original or mother plant a number of slender shoots like arms reached out in all directions.

They were thin, green stalks creeping along the ground and after reaching out about six inches, the end developed roots and they penetrated in the ground and began to grow upward being nourished by the mother plant to help bear more berries.

Then the new plant began putting out runners and after growth of about six inches, it penetrated into the ground and started a new plant. The berry plants were multiplying…bringing forth more fruit. This is what God wants us to do—become effective responsible reproducing Christians. He wants us to be productive—reaching in all directions bearing fruit for Him.

We celebrated our 85th church anniversary and we thank God for allowing Macedonia to make it this far. Special thanks to Pastor Paxton Reed of the Northlake Community Church of Huntersville, North Carolina for preaching a powerful sermon "The Power of Weakness" from Judges 6. Also, special thanks to everyone who volunteered their time, skills and services to make this event possible.

To all the kitchen workers and servers, no one knows the headache and heartache that it entails feeding church people but we made it. May God give you back everything you expended.

Someone might ask, "How did you make it 85 years"? We are the fruit of Pentecost, the plant kept putting runners. Paul and Barnabas, then Paul and Silas, Paul's second Missionary Journey produced new runners, In Macedonia, in Ephesus, In Berea, In Philippi, In Thessalonica, but the Church is still running.

We ran until in 1925 The "Gospel Light Mission Was Formed which was the birth of Macedonia. The plant kept putting out runners from Pastor Young, to Pastor Alexander, from Pastor Lemon to Pastor Childress, We kept on running.

From Pastor Trotter to Pastor Johnson, from Pastor Matthews to Pastor Jackson, We have kept on running. Buildings changed and locations were moved but the Macedonia Church never stood still. God used Pastor F.D. Johnson to create more runners, one of his thin stalks turned into Macedonia's next Pastor in the person of Pastor Pettus and the church kept moving.

The church kept running under Pastor Williams and by the grace of God, Macedonia is still running. Albert Goodson said it better than I can so I leave you with the words our forefathers used to sing before we got the praise teams and projectors:

We've Come this far by Faith , Leaning on the Lord
Trusting in his holy Word, He's never failed me yet
Oh-------------Can't Turn Around
We've Come this Far by Faith

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Snails, Sloths, Turtles and Tortoises, Learning how to Wait


"It was perseverance that got the snails to the ark".


Charles Spurgeon


How do you get something to move that by nature doesn't want to move? How do you deal with anything that goes slower than you want it to? Are you patient? Do you wait it out? Do you bide your time?

The amazing challenge I am learning about ministry within the church is everyone does not move at the same pace. Let me be clear that all is well, everything is fine and I have no complaints. I am not talking about anyone, I am just talking about what I am talking about. We have some rabbits, cheetahs, gazelles and even some greyhounds in all of our ministries. Fast thinkers, fast reactors, not prone to sitting still and if you aren't careful, will get ahead of you.

I must admit a character flaw in me. I don't mind fast people as I myself have been known to engage in some speeding moments. In ministry, how do you deal with the slow ones. Just like in all ministries, we have people who go too fast, we also have those you go slow, or move so slowly, you can't even tell they are moving at all.

For every rabbit there is a tortoise, for every cheetah there is a sloth and for every leopard there is a snail. Since we don't get to pick and choose who or even how we minister to the people we are called to, How do you deal with the ones that move slower than you would like? It is clear they are moving, it's just not as fast as you would like.

An old book I am re-reading which seems like I am reading it for the first time is Charles Swindoll's book in "Three Steps Forward Two Steps Back: Persevering Through Pressure" and it is blessing my life. We grow and we learn not when things come our way instantly but when we are forced to wait. There is a benefit to snails, THEY TEMPER US! There is a benefit to sloths, THEY SEASON US! There is a benefit to the tortoise, THEY MELLOW AND MATURE US!

J.B. Phillips has a great paraphrase on James 1:2-4. I have always looked at in from a trials view and not from a waiting and developing view that will teach endurance but it says:


"when all kinds of trials and tribulations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.



Owens


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Extra Strength

I hope and pray that everyone had a blessed time in church on yesterday where you received a Word from God that helped glorify and edify God for the living out of these days here on earth.

Church was great, I feel like I could have done better (I always feel like that anyway but today more than normal). I have been studying getting reading to preach on the armor of God, I have been blowing past and running every red light God gave me on, last night I stopped at the light. VS. 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

It hit me last night through a personal attack I was encountering. It doesn't matter what you have ON YOU, if you don't have the right thing IN YOU. VS 10 is God putting in us what we need so we can know in 11-17 how to use what we have on us. We talked about today, The Source of our Strength, The Scope of Our Strength, The Security of our Strength. The source is IN THE LORD, The scope is His power which is the same power in us that was used to raise Christ from the dead (Kratos) and the Security is found in his Might.

I think I sucked today but at the end of the presentation if God is pleased, then that's all that matters. I do feel I connected with some people like me who needed some "EXTRA STRENGTH". How about you? Have you ever had a day where you needed a little extra kick? Push? Boost? Have you ever had a day where it seemed as if you were a step short, slower than normal and you needed some "EXTRA". Paul knew that day was coming so he reminds us what God did for us.

I want to draw your attention to the word "strong" in Ephesians 6:10. It is the Greek word endunamao, a compound of the words en and dunamis. The word en means in. The word dunamis means explosive strength, ability, and power. It's where we get the word dynamite.
Thus, this word endunamao presents the picture of an explosive power that is being deposited into some type of container, vessel, or other form of receptacle. The very nature of this word endunamao means that there necessarily must be some type of receiver for this power to be deposited into.

This is where we come into the picture! We are specially designed by God to be the receptacles of divine power. When Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord, he is essentially saying, "Receive a supernatural, strengthening, internal deposit of power into your inner man." God is the Giver, and we are the receptacles into which this power is to be deposited.

Paul knew you and I would desperately need supernatural power in order to successfully combat the attacks the enemy would bring against us. That's why he urges us to open our spirits, souls, and bodies to God so we can receive this supernatural strength.

Ephesians 6:10 could be translated to mean:
"... Be infused with supernatural strength and ability...."
"... Be empowered with this special touch of God's strength...."
"... Receive this inner strengthening...."

God wants you and me to have this supernatural strength and ability! We are the special receptacles or containers He created to possess this phenomenal power.

God gives us EXTRA STRENGTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Owens

Friday, November 5, 2010

Let it Snow, God Help Me!!!!!!!!!!

It is November 5th and it is snowing in South Bend. This was not unexpected, this is normal. I do live within the snow band that comes off of Lake Michigan. I realize that this summer was much hotter than South Bend is used to causing the temperature of Lake Michigan to be warmer than normal; thereby causing a greater potential for a heavy precipitation winter.

I even felt the snow coming on Tuesday when all the clouds gathered in and the sun went away like winter does here in South Bend. With that said, I still want to lead a mass prayer vigil to ask all South Bend residents to fall on their knees and repent of their sins so that God may turn his anger and send the snow to Cleveland.

Cleveland showed their unrepentant and flaky nature by turning on Lebron, so send the snow to Cleveland. In fact, Lord send the snow to Canfield, Ohio where my brother lives. He loves snow Lord. He has a snow blower and loves to pull it out and compete with his neighbors to see who can clear their driveway faster, Send it to Canfield.

Lord, if you choose not to send the snow away, then help me deal with it and Lord, help all my prayers to be like this one, if I can not have my way, then help me learn that your way is better. so if that's the case, LET IT SNOW LET IT SNOW LET IT SNOW

God Help Me

Owens

Monday, November 1, 2010

Please Tell Your Face!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love Southwest Airlines! I love the Boeing 737 series of planes that they use; I love the friendly, funny and sometime talented flight crews that serve us as well and I love the overall flying experience. Because of my experience, I have developed a SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FACE.

Southwest does not use assigned seating but rather it is open seating called up by the letter A and the number 1 up to 60 in numerical order and B and C following. A typical 737-300 or 500 series plane can hold 137 passengers. I make it a point to ask before I board whether or not the flight is full or not because that will determine what my face will look like, my SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FACE.

A 737-300 or 500 series place has ABC, DEF seating which causes in an open seating arena for people to grab the aisle seat or the window seat, leaving the middle seat open. If I know the flight is not full, I want a seat to myself; therefore I use MY SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FACE. I don't want anyone seating next to me so my face shows it. I wouldn't say it is a mean face but it certainly isn't nice. As my church reminds me all the time, I am a very handsome, charming man; however, if I am tired, irritated, or something is on my mind, I can look MEAN AS HELL,( church members words). Imagine what I can look like if I TRIED to look mean.

If the flight is full, I have a different tactic. Since all the seats are going to be taken anyway, it is useless to try and scare someone away because someone has to sit by me; therefore, I put on my other SOUTHWEST AIRLINE FACE. I am charming, smiling, engaging, dang near flirting (my church members who read this are nodding their heads). I choose who I want to seat by me by trying in my facial expression to invite them to take a seat. After all, if I have to be couped up in this plane sitting next to someone, I would rather it be next to someone who is pleasant to be around.

We do the same things in churches today. We bring our FACE to church. Either it is our "don't mess with, Don't bother me, Don't sit here, why are you here face, or its our, We are glad you are here, won't you have a seat, Is there anything I can do for you face. Many visitors have already made their assessment about our churches by the way they are received by the people, especially our faces.

You can say you love the Lord all you want to, "We are a friendly church" and all of that but if your face doesn't show it, they won"t believe it. Some members have left churches where they loved the singing, were fed by the Word and enjoy the Pastor but they can't stand the "FACES".

God told Jeremiah in 1:8 not to be afraid of their faces because sometime people can scare you. I wish sometimes people could see how they look in church; distressed, sitting on a tack or pin, sucking on lemons or a sour patch jolly rancher and we wonder why people don't want to come to our church. Look at your face.

In BTU(another discussion, another day), it wasn't Biblical, there is no chapter and verse, no Greek or Hebrew interpretation, but they sang "
If your happy and you know it,
then your face will surely show it,
if your happy and you know it
Say Amen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Raven

Where has the time gone? You are six years old but to me you were just born yesterday. You just refuse to remain a baby. Taller, bigger and more beautiful than ever. I hope you have a wonderful birthday. Daddy loves you baby girl.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Deacon Ordination Sunday











The Lord allowed the Macedonia church family to witness history as we ordained eight men for the service of Deacon on Sunday. It had been 32 years since Macedonia witnessed an ordination service for deacons, and the wait has been even longer for an ordination service held at our church.
Our church is a great church but like all churches, it is full of people striving to be better but have not yet arrived. We had some deacons who had been ordained the "old-school way: public counsel in front of the church and others who had been appointed deacons, no ordination ceremony. It caused for some division where some church members saw some deacons as "real" deacons and others as "pretend" deacons.
The Lord put it my heart to bridge this gap and after three years, He gave me the opportunity to do so. When we first arrived at Macedonia, we began a DDT Class(Deacon Development Training). Like DDT, I impressed on these men, either you could be used to clear space, make room and achieve progress, or you could exhibit the negative consequences of DDT and explode, cause death and destruction and be a walking time bomb for our church.
We studied the qualities a deacon should have in Acts 6:3 and I Timothy 3. We instituted visitation for the sick and shut-in, hospital and bereavement visitation as well as Lord"s Supper Distribution for the sick and elderly. We engaged the men to do more in worship besides devotion; entrusting them with the responsibility of worship leaders with a servant mentality.
We presented eight(8) candidates for the office of deacon and we are proud to say, Seven(7) received a full recommendation to exercise the rights, privileges and responsibilities of a deacon and one received a probationary recommendation pending further review and examination.
I am proud of these men and I thank God for giving me the chance to work with such a fine group of servants who put God first, support their Pastor and will work for the betterment of Macedonia. These men are:
Deacon Christopher Dudley
Deacon Kevin Howard Sr.
Deacon Jerry Malone
Deacon Perry Patton
Deacon Frederick Prince
Deacon Luther Taylor SR.
Deacon John Williams
Deacon Jerry Willis SR.
Special Thanks to our Four Horseman (our senior deacons) Deacon Calvin Manns, Deacon Roosevelt Starling, Deacon Henry Turner and Deacon Levi Trotter for all of their work that has laid the foundation for these men. Also, special thanks to our Moderator and Preacher for this occasion, Dr. Keith D. Witherspoon.


Friday, October 15, 2010

So you want to be a Deacon

Deacons in the early churches of the New Testament period were selected on the basis of these Christian qualifications:

a. SERIOUS PURPOSE — "Likewise must the deacons be grave." (KJV/3:8) or, "Deacons, too, must be serious." (Williams/3:8) Semnos (grave) comes from the root word meaning "to reverence" or "to worship." Persons in the presence of a deacon should feel reverence for spiritual matters.

b. HONEST IN SPEECH — "Not double-tongued" (KJV/3:8) or, "sincere in their talk" (Williams/3:8) "Double-tongued" means saying one thing to
one person and something else to another. A deacon should thus be in
control of their tongue. They should not deceive anyone. They should
speak out for righteous causes. They also have the responsibility for being
slow to speak angrily. Their word must be honest. Gossip, tale bearing,
idle talking, or slander are not a part of a deacon's nature.

c. TEMPERATE IN LIVING - "Not given to much wine" (KJV 3:8) or, "not addicted to strong drink." (Williams/3:8) The deacon should be free
from any intemperance that would injure him and the family and
make ineffective his Christian witness in a non-Christian world
devoted to a variety of willful excesses in personal living.

d. STEWARD OF POSSESSIONS - "Not greedy of filthy lucre" (KJV/3:8) or, "not addicted to dishonest gain." (Williams/3:8) While deacons believe that material possessions are not evil or filthy, They are not
controlled by a greedy obsession to obtain all the material possessions
they can. They will have a caring concern for the needs of others;
and they will desire to share material possessions with others.

e. SPIRITUAL INTEGRITY - "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure
conscience." (KJV/3:9) or, "they must continue to hold the open
secret of faith with a clear conscience." (Williams/3:9) This means
deacons should believe sound doctrine, and should hold firm to their
convictions. Their spiritual integrity is above reproach.

f. PROVED SPIRITUAL MATURITY - "Let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless."
(KJV/3:10) or, "They too should first be tested till approved, and then,
if they are found above reproach they should serve as deacons."
(Williams/3:10) This means that they should demonstrate these
spiritual qualifications before being elected. Their daily attitudes,
speech, and conduct should be observed for an appropriate period by
fellow Christians. "Blameless" means that no one could level a charge
of wrong doing against them. Only after they have thus been tested
and proved true should they be elected.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

100th Centennial Celebration Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church




Pastor Woodberry says it best when he says "Mount Olive has survived because she is a Bible-Believing church. The thing that sustains a church is not fads, fancy programming or novel ideas but the Word of God". From a frame building in "Rattlesnake Bottom" to a larger structure on fourth (4th) street to a newer more modern facility on Wisconsin to the place where I was born on twenty-seventh and Kelly to the present-day campus on forty-second and Kelly, God has been good to Mount Olive.
I had the honor of preaching at Mount Olive for the kick off of this great celebration. There always has to be a "sacrificial lamb" but I was glad to be back at my home church. Besides funerals or celebrating my Pastor's anniversary, I haven't been back since 2006 so it was a little overwhelming. (DANG THAT'S A LOT OF PEOPLE PACKED IN THAT CHURCH)
I was so proud of the Macedonia Church family who followed me to Oklahoma City. It did me well to look out in the sea of humanity and see my life-line in my church family. Mount Olive put on the big pot and the little pot. T-shirts, shopping, dinner and great church, it was a great learning lesson for our church.
I have always said one day I will make Pastor Woodberry and the Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church proud to be able to call me a son. I am proud of my pastor and church but I haven't always been a good son but thank God, He gives us another chance. The parable of the Fig tree lived in Mount Olive on Sunday.
To Pastor Woodberry and the Mount Olive Church, Thank you for letting me come back and to Macedonia, Thank you for letting me come back home to 1862 N. Olive Street.
By the way, the best part of Sunday, WAS BAPTIZING MY GIRLS RAVEN AND LABRAIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
oWENS

Friday, October 1, 2010

To Restore is to show Love

What Does It Look Like? It has hands to help others, feet to hasten to the poor and needy, eyes to see misery and want, ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.
Augustine
I have been transformed! I have been changed by God through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on Calvary and by accepting Him as my Savior, I experienced TRANSFORMATION. I am now employed. I have a job and a ministry. God has called me to be a witness. I am God's official REPRESENTATION.

We are not known in the world because we carry a name tag, wear a cross around our neck or tote a large Bible but rather we are known through our actions.
John 13:34-35 (New Century Version)
34 "I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. 35 All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other."

It is easy to love people who are lovable. The Koala bear is so cute an cuddly and the newborn baby smells so wonderful, it is both addictive and appealing to love these types of people but can you love the porcupine personality or the person whose smell from the stink of sin makes it hard to embrace them. Can you love them?

What about the person who messes up? Falls short? Does the unthinkable? What is our response to that person? We should restore them, that is place in demonstration what God has done for us.

Katartizō (to restore) literally means to mend or repair and was sometimes used metaphorically of restoring harmony among quarreling factions in a dispute. It was also used of setting a broken bone or putting a dislocated limb back in place. That is the figure used by the writer of Hebrews in calling on believers to "strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed" (Heb. 12:12-13).

Spiritual believers restore a fallen believer first of all by helping him recognize his trespass as a trespass. Until a person admits his sin, he cannot be helped out of it. Once he has done that, he must be encouraged to confess his sin before God and turn away from it in repentance, sincerely seeking God's forgiveness.

Restoration of fallen brothers and sisters is always to be done in a spirit of gentleness, which is characteristic of those who walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). A Christian who is critical and judgmental as he attempts to help a fallen brother does not show the grace of Christ or help his brother, but instead stumbles himself.

After a church has exercised proper discipline, the members should "forgive and comfort" the one who has been disciplined, "lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow" (2 Cor. 2:7). He should not be regarded "as an enemy, but [admonished] as a brother" (2 Thess. 3:15).
From the caution each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted, it is clear that even spiritual believers can stumble. They are made of the same stuff as those who have fallen. Because the exhortation looking to yourself is so vital, Paul uses a strong word (skopeō, to observe or consider) in the present tense, which emphasized a continual, diligent attentiveness to their own purity. They, too, could be tempted and even fall into the same sin for which they disciplined a brother.

The attitude of every Christian should always be the attitude of Jesus. And when a believer needs to help discipline a fallen brother, he should ask for a special portion of Christ's love and gentleness. If the Father does not want even one of His own to be devastated (Matt. 18:14), and if "the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them" (Luke 9:56), how much less do His followers have the right to be destructive rather than helpful?

What does your love look like? What type of love does our church display?

Owens

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You Who Are Spiritual

"I have often thought that if I ever fall into a paraptōma [trespass], I will pray that I don't fall into the hands of those censorious, critical judges in the church. Let me fall into the hands of barkeepers, streetwalkers, or dope peddlers, because such church people would tear me apart with their long, wagging, gossipy tongues, cutting me to shreds".
John MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Galatians

Who is spiritual? What determines if someone is spiritual? Is it found in your dance? Tongue? Praise? Giving? Everyone is not spiritual!!! The paraphrased comments of James Boice are still blessing me as I deal with this area, " It is not in emotional highs but rather it is in concrete situations that the reality of the Holy Spirit is demonstrated in our lives." Your shout may not reveal your substance but conflict and crisis will unveil what may have been covered and cultivating in your life.

Transformation: The word "brethren" (adelphos) means to belong to the same people. It speaks of those who have the same parents or parent. It denotes fellow believers, united to one another by the bond of love. It suggests being united by a common cause or calling. Those to whom Paul wrote were united by their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in... I am part of the Lord's family because he changed me.

"Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass..."

The word "man" (anthropos) speaks of a human being, with the added notion of weakness, by which man is led into a mistake or prompted to sin. It has reference to the body and the soul. Paul was here lifting up the power of sin over human nature.

The word "caught" (prolambano) means to take before, to hinder or to take one by deterring him, that is, before he can escape or hide his crime. This word means to surprise. Sometimes sins overtake us rather than us overtaking sins. Caught implies that the sin was not premeditated. The word was once used to describe a Roman legion which had been overrun by a Jewish military force.

Representation: When this event happens, God calls on the people who are spiritual. All who are members of the church are not prepared to deal with the person caught or overtaken in sin. Those whom Paul urged to deal with the sinning saint were the spiritual.

The word "spiritual" (pneumatikos) always implies power. It speaks of those who are spiritually mature. It also speaks of people and things that have their origin with God and that are in harmony with his character and conduct.

This word speaks of all that is produced and maintained by the operation of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual person lives under the control of the Holy Spirit and manifests the fruit of the Spirit in his life. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This spiritual state is reached by feeding on the word of God and through prayer. It is maintained by obedience to God and devotion to him and his work.

The only way that we can be prepared to deal with a sinning saint is through the sins of others becoming our concern. Their sins should not be our concern for the purpose of picking the skin off the wound. We should be concerned about the sins of others so that we can help bring healing.

You who are spiritual, in this context, refers to those manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. These believers with Christlike character traits produced by the Holy Spirit encourage faltering Christians. The legalist is judgmental, harsh, and condemning toward those who struggle with sin (Acts 15:10). They know the law, and they know the consequences of falling short of obedience to the law. But they do not know mercy.

We will deal with Demonstration when we deal with RESTORE

Owens

Monday, September 27, 2010

Grace In Action

"It is easy to talk about the fruit of the Spirit while doing very little about it, so Christians need to learn that it is in concrete situations, rather than emotional highs, that the reality of the Holy Spirit in their lives is demonstrated".

James Boice

In the 1988 presidential campaign, commentators and voters made much about the character of the candidates, especially those who were rumored to be womanizers. One of the leading candidates had ridiculed another man who had fallen under public attack for his conduct toward women. This leading candidate dared the press to follow him and try to find any misconduct on his part. The press took him up on the dare. Some time later news media published photos of this man himself on a yacht in the Caribbean with an attractive lady who was not his wife. The name of the yacht, prophetically, was Monkey Business. The scandal grew so large that this candidate was forced to withdraw from the campaign which he might have won.

A similar incident happened during the eighties with moral scandals that rocked the Christian television industry. A leading television evangelist was caught in a moral lapse which made headline news all over the United States for a long time. I recall hearing an interview with another television minister who leveled a scathing rebuke of the evangelist who had sinned. I was taken aback at the intensity of this attack; However, it wasn't long before the story of this second evangelist's moral lapse was on newspapers and weekly news magazines across the nation.

Both the television evangelist and the leading presidential candidate were arrogant in their condemnation of others, and their own indiscretions were revealed a short time later. Paul warned of that attitude in this final chapter of Galatians. He encouraged us to treat gently other Christians who have fallen into sin, all the time watching out for ourselves, lest we also be tempted.


Paul was writing to the Galatians because he was concerned about how the church should treat a person who has committed an act of sin. To be clear, God is the only one authorized to tell the church how we should handle someone who has sinned, not politicians, not newspapers, not television talking heads and certainly not people who are not part of the body of Christ in general or that particular church in specific.

Prayerfully, we will talk more about Galatians 6 this week as I am starting to learn how to juggle school and church a little better. Sunday we shared this text and titled it Grace in Action and the brief points were:

I. Be Godly----Pick People Up vs 1
II Be Gentle--Hold People Up vs 2-5
III. Be Giving---Build People Up Vs 6

Friday, August 27, 2010

Almost Christian


I began this week driving with fellow pastors down to Louisville, Kentucky to attend school at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I must admit I feel and have felt like a fish out of water because in the "religious talk and jargon", I know the information and I belong in the school but it does seem like everyone else is on a "DSL CONNECTION" while I am on "DIAL-UP".
Its a three to three and half hour drive one-way to get to school so it provides a lot of time for reading, sleeping or conversation. The conversation is the car was about "Moralistic therapeutic deism", not normal religious jargon I use day to day.
One of the Pastors is a Youth Pastor and is going after a Master of Arts in Youth and Family Ministry. In his Program Development and Planning Youth Ministry Class, this concept came up.
Many church members do not expect much from their youth pastors or don't even have a youth minister position. It is seem as a position to help keep our children away from drugs, prevent pre-marital sex, and exhibit good moral behavior. We feed them everything but many times forget to "FEED THEM THE WORD OF GOD". Pizza parties, hot-dog and Hamburger cook-outs, doughnuts in the morning and candy and snacks in the evening but are we feeding them the real food.
One of the textbooks for this class that I had the chance to read on the way down and back to school contends that churches are teaching a "mutant" form of Christianity. The author contends American teenagers are embracing what what was termed "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism which is to say, "It's a water-down faith that portrays God a a "Divine therapist" rather than Lord and Savior, whose chief goal is to boost self-esteem".
We must teach our children more than just how to feel good or do good, we must arm them with what which is good from the Word of God. Pizza, Hamburgers and Doughnuts may get youth into the building but Pizza, Hamburgers and Doughnuts will not be able to answer the questions of Why did my mother and father get divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why did my best friend die of an asthma attack after smoking a blunt once?
We can't be afraid or ashamed to teach our youth the Word of God. They can understand, they can relate, they can remember it, in this we truly demonstrate they are the church of today. We need more than pizza!
Owens
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Gospel of Matthew--Introduction

This week I am one of many instructors for the 31st Annual District Congress of Christian Education for the Northern Indiana Missionary Baptist Educational District Association. The assignment was given me to teach the Gospel of Matthew 28 in three days. I must say I was very disappointed that the district only committed 1 hour to Christian Education in a teaching format while allotting 2 hours for preaching.

As the State President of the Congress of Christian Education, I will try and yield an influence on our District President to try and find more time for teaching as it is a necessary and vital part of the believer's growth. We found a great outline from a new commentary called Opening Up Matthew, I.D. Campbell Leominister: Day One Publications 2008

Part 1—The King dwells among his people (1:1–4:16)
1 The King appears (1:1–2:23)
2 The King begins his ministry (Matthew 3:1–4:17)


Part 2—The King declares his kingdom (4:17–16:20)
3 The King convenes his parliament (4:17–7:29)
4 The King works miracles (8:1–9:38)
5 The King calls followers (10:1–12:50)
6 The King tells stories (13:1–58)
7 The King meets people (14:1–16:20)


Part 3—The King destroys his enemy (16:21–28:20)
8 The King reveals his glory (16:21–17:27)
9 The King teaches his church (18:1–20:34)
10 The King journeys to his city (21:1–11)
11 The King predicts the future (21:12–23:39)
12 The King is coming again (24:1–25:46)
13 The King dies (26:1–27:66)
14 Long live the King! (28:1–15)

15 The King appoints ambassadors (28:16–20)

Pray for us this week, we will post quick highlights of class.

Owens

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

Today, the New Hope Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where Rev. E. J. Tyson serves as Pastor will be observing the Home going Services for their chairman of the Deacon Board, Deacon Samuel L. Richardson, who is also my best friend's father. I am saddened that my schedule will not allow me to be there with the family but grateful that God allowed me to be with them the night God called him home. As only a good deacon can, the moment the hospital released Pastor Tyson and sent him home, God released Deacon Richardson and sent him to his eternal home. He was 92 years old and didn't look a day over 70.

Time and space won't allow me to be with New Hope so I send this devotional. Out of a broken heart after his wife and newly born son had both died, Thomas Dorsey cried to his Lord to lead him "through the storm, through the night" In doing so, he created lines that have since ministered to others in an unusual way. This tender song, written by Thomas A, Dorsey in 1932, has since been a favorite with Christians everywhere.

As he began to be successful as a composer of jazz and blues songs, however, he drifted away from God. After it seemed to him that he was miraculously spared in brushes with death, Dorsey came back to the Lord. As his life dramatically changed he began to write gospel songs and to sing in church services. It was during a revival meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, that he received a telegram telling the tragic news of his wife and infant son. Stunned and grief-stricken, Dorsey cried, "God, you aren’t worth a dime to me right now!"


A few weeks later, however, as Dorsey fingered the keyboard of a piano, he created the lines of "Precious Lord" to fit a tune that was familiar to him. The following Sunday the choir of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in South Chicago, Illinois, sang the new song with Dorsey playing the accompaniment.


Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, help me stand—I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; thro’ the storm, thro’ the night, lead me on to the light—Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

When my way grows drear, Precious Lord, linger near—when my life is almost gone. Hear my cry, hear my call, hold my hand lest I fall—Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Planting Seeds

Planting Seeds is a Boring, sometimes brutal and back-breaking job that often times can blind us into missing the benefits of seed-planting. God help me to see the blessing in planting seeds even if I never see the harvest of the seeds planted. Please God Help!

Owens

Monday, August 9, 2010

Please pray for Pastor E.J. Tyson

I received the news that my friend and brother, Reverend E. J. Tyson, Pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church in Oklahoma City suffered a heart attack. I am asking all who read this blog if they would commit a moment of prayer to lift up Pastor E. J. Tyson and the New Hope Baptist Church.

This is a sobering reminder that life changes in a flash. It also serves as a wake-up call for many of us that are blessed to serve in ministry. We give all we have in preaching expending all of our energy in the service of the Lord. We preach two sometimes three times a Sunday. Revivals, Anniversaries, Annual days, convention work, district work, hospital visits, office meetings, vision casting, meaningless and mundane meetings that have nothing to do with ministry but rather are maintenance; in the process of all this, we don't sleep like we should, we don't eat right, always on the go, either forget or don't take our medicine on schedule and God has to allow something to happen to get our attention.

While praying for Pastor Tyson, today I am praying for all ministers who serve in the field giving their all; I am praying we will start listening to our bodies, paying attention to the signs, learn to obey God, spend more time with family and as silly as this will sound, slow down long enough to enjoy the journey and walk with God.

Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking it won't run without us. If we were to die tomorrow, they would be thinking and calling for our replacement the next day. I will hug my girls a little longer today, I will reach out to my brothers in the ministry and encourage them today. I will sit down today and remain still. I will commit to once again becoming disciplined in taking care of my health, removing this extra weight and following my doctor's instructions.

Running to go sit down,

Owens

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Land Between


I was going to the bookstore today simply to see if Max Lucado's new book was out "Outlive your Life". While there I picked up Hybels' book, "The Power of a Whisper" but I am overjoyed to say I ran into a book and author, I was unaware of but this book has blessed me. It was a quick read but left a powerful impression with me.
The book is by Jeff Manion who pastors in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the book is The Land Between, "Finding God in Difficult Transitions". I highly recommend adding this to your library and the next time you are on a plane or have a trip, read it and it will bless you.
Manion says, "The Land Between is where life is not as it once was and where the future is in question, its the land where everything normal is interrupted by "one sentence":
Your position has been eliminated
I don't love you anymore
The tumor is malignant
The church is meeting to take a vote of confidence
Mom, Dad, I'm pregnant
I'm having second thoughts about the wedding
Your mother and I are getting a divorce
Mom has been rushed to the hospital, how soon can you get here?
"In one sentence we are ripped from normality and find ourselves in a new world, BETWEEN. In our more faith-filled moments, we know that we will regain our footing and find some kind of balance in a new normal, but for now we are simply and suddenly "BETWEEN" and at a loss as to how to navigate the terrain".
Manion uses the Biblical story of the Israelites' journey through the Sinai desert as a metaphor for being in an undesired transitional space. Transitions are our greatest opportunities for spiritual growth because in our chaos and emotional upheaval, God desires to meet with us the most.
"The Land Between is fertile ground for our spiritual transformation and for God's grace to be revealed but it is also the place where we can grow resentful, bitter, and caustic. The same wilderness where faith can thrive is the very desert where it can dry up and die if we are not watchful".
It has been a long time since I sat down and in one setting, read a book form start to finish but this book blessed me and I hope it blesses you as well. The next time I run to Grand Rapids to the Baker Book house, I will stop off at the Ada Bible Church and meet this pastor/author.
Owens

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Luggage of Life

video

Special thanks to Sister Bonnie Willis, the director of our Fine Arts Ministry and all the members of the Macedonia Church for their open spirit to the "living Sermon" that was given Sunday. The idea was given to me by God on Monday, shared with Sister Willis on Wednesday, participants were chosen Thursday and Friday, production meeting was Saturday that amounted to me preaching the sermon to them and they served as a listening panel or advisory board and we shared it with the church on last Sunday.

I admit this concept will not be for everyone or for all churches. I will understand that many people will think this is un church-like or completely unnecessary. All I can say is God gave it to me and I followed what He showed me.

Disclaimer: To my mother who reads my blog, the mothers of the church are doing a great job keeping me reigned in; however, I got out of the restraints Sunday and said a couple of words you will not like. I am back under control.............................for today.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Need Thee Every Hour

I am deeply troubled and saddened by a movement within our church and the church at large that seemly has ignored hymns and traditional music for praise songs and urban contemporary gospel music. I love that genre but I think the church should sing ALL types of music, not just one style.

Recently during a Lord Supper's service, the Lord led me to sing "there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins and sinners plunge beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains", standard Lord's Supper Baptist song. My older members went in, my 35 and younger crowd didn't have a clue what was going on. They said they had never heard that song. I became worried, after all, I am only 40, but I decided this was a chance to teach, so once a week on the blog and as God gives me favor at the church, we will place an emphasis on hymns, their meaning, their mission and their ministry,

I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR
Annie S. Hawks, 1835–1918
Refrain added by Robert Lowry
In the day of my trouble I will call to You, for You will answer me. (Psalm 86:7)

This deeply personal hymn came from the heart of a busy housewife and mother who had no idea of the spiritual strength that her own hastily written words would bring her later during a sorrowful time in her life.
The author, Annie S. Hawks, has left this account about the writing of her poem in 1872:
One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks. Suddenly, I became filled with the sense of nearness to the Master, and I began to wonder how anyone could ever live without Him, either in joy or pain. Then the words were ushered into my mind and these thoughts took full possession of me.
Sixteen years later, Mrs. Hawks experienced the death of her husband. Years after, she wrote:
I did not understand at first why this hymn had touched the great throbbing heart of humanity. It was not until long after, when the shadow fell over my way, the shadow of a great loss, that I understood something of the comforting power in the words which I had been permitted to give out to others in my hour of sweet serenity and peace.

One of the blessings of a victorious Christian life is knowing the closeness of our Lord in every circumstance of life. Like Annie Hawks, it is so important that we develop strong spiritual lives during the peaceful hours in order that we will be able to be victorious when difficulties come, which they surely will to everyone at some time.

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord. No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee every hour; stay Thou near by. Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain. Come quickly, and abide, or life is vain.
I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will, and Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
I need Thee every hour, Most Holy One; O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.
Refrain: I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee! O bless me now, my Savior—I come to Thee!

Consciously practice walking close to the Savior each hour so that whether there are times of joy or grief, He will be there to meet every need.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Extra Weight

I am encountering a problem in my life. It is a sin issue! Usually when we admit we have a sin issue, people run to their favorites sins to gossip about, is it fornication, is it lying, gambling, adultery, are you a closet drug addict? No to all the above, however my sin is just as deadly as all of those. Physically and spiritually, I am guilty of the sin of carrying around extra weight. I NEED TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT

Physically, I have not demonstrated any discipline concerning my diet and exercise routine and now I am bigger than I should be. It affects my clothing, it affects my daily routine, it even affects my health because it is something I shouldn't be carrying around. I NEED TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT

As I am preparing for next week's sermon on The Valley Gate in Nehemiah 3, I started thinking of the theme "The Luggage of Life". The Valley Gate is the longest stretch between points of all the gates that needed repaired and represents a time in our lives where burdens get heavy, problems seem to pile on and we don't see a end in sight.

We start to carry things God never intended for us to carry. Max Lucado calls it a "suitcase of guilt, a sack of discontentment, a duffel bag of weariness, a hanging bag of grief, a backpack of doubt, an overnight bad of loneliness and a trunk full of fear. Pretty soon you are pulling more stuff than a skycap. No wonder we are so tired at the end of the day. Lugging luggage is exhausting"!

We need to lighten our load. We need to lose some weight! How do we do it? Maybe we should look at the eagle for an example. An Eagle renews its life by breaking away the buildup on its beak that keeps it from eating and growing stronger. As an eagle grows older, its beak begins to grow and a build up of scar tissue from cracks and scratches forms. This buildup begins to limit the ability of the eagle to open its beak wide enough to eat properly.

The eagle finds a rock or hard surface and begins to beat the end of its beak until it finally breaks away the buildup. Then the beak grows back in its correct proportions and the eagle is able to eat again. It’s strength and vigor returns and it becomes like a young eagle again. IT BREAKS AWAY THE BUILDUP.

Many of us carry excess weight, the luggage of life, buildup that needs to be broken. It can come from a variety of sources. Unrealistic expectations of others, unrealized dreams, past relationships, past failures and present frustrations. It shows up in anger, guilt, arrogance, fear and all kinds of insecurities that weigh us down.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

It's time to lose some weight, physically and spiritually,

Owens