Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Deuteronomy 8:4 says, "Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years" ESV. I always knew this was a powerful verse but never fully understood it because some things you have to live rather than read or study.
I have a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix and because of school travel from Oklahoma City to Shawnee or work travel from Oklahoma City to Arlington, Texas or Pastoral Travel from South Bend, Indiana to Oklahoma City and other areas, my car has 199,667 miles. Not a Toyota or a Honda, but this is a PONTIAC with 199,667 miles, same engine, same transmission. Shout#1, God doesn't always have to give you something new, He can make things that should break last. I built GM products and I am proud to say, We built vehicles good enough to make you want to purchase it again, not last forever. Chris Rock says, "there ain't no money in the cure, the money is in the come-back".
Why don't you just buy a new car is what everyone says, not understanding that when you are in the wilderness, sometimes you can't do what you would like to do. You have to learn to live in the wilderness. I am a single parent raising three girls on one income, no outside money, and that income was GREATLY reduced walking away from General Motors into full-time ministry. Shout #2, Everything I lost financially, God has given back to me in ways I didn't even know was possible, you never lose following the Lord completely.
My car should have been dead a long time ago but the Lord has kept making a way. Last Friday, my car didn't feel right. No noise, no grinding, no stopping, but it didn't feel right. I told my chairman, I need to take the car in because something is wrong. I found out that my left front wheel hub was gone, shot, finished. My car was not safe to drive, in fact looking at the hub, the mechanic didn't understand how the wheel had not disengaged and fallen off. Shout #3, As close as death was to me and the girls, he wasn't as close to us as God was, "What shall separate me from the love of God...."
"Neither did thy foot swell, these forty years." J. Vernon McGee says A missionary doctor explained to him that out in the Orient where he served, the people had a sameness of diet. They did not get all the vitamins they needed; so they would show the manifestations of beriberi. One of the symptoms is a swelling of the feet. Israel got all their vitamins; they got all the nourishment that they needed. What did these folk eat for forty years? Manna! God-food, God-baked, God-cooked, God's miracle. It provided everything they needed for the nourishment of their bodies.
Spiritual manna is the Word of God. It is a wonderful food. It will supply all your needs. It can bring comfort to your heart, it can save your soul, it can dry your tears, it can help you hold on when you feel like giving up. You see, friend, you won't get any swelling of the feet if you will read the Word of God. In other words, the Bible will meet your individual needs, whatever they may be. This is manna.
Shout #4, GOD ALWAYS PROVIDES. The manna lasted as long as they were in the wilderness, it stopped when they arrived in their promised land which would be their new source of supply. Either way, God always provides. Right now, I am in the manna stage on my way to my promise land, but everything I need is in the manna, so much so that my clothes don't wear out and my feet don't swell and a Pontiac with 199,667 miles is still running.
Friday, April 23, 2010
It is this latter idea that I gleaned the concept of "My One Hundred Day Campaign". A new administration within the first hundred days of taking the office uses this time for a variety of reasons: selection of officers, leaders and workers; implementing new strategies and laying the foundation for your administration; formation of vision casting goals, ideas and opportunities, as well as building inroads into grass roots members and leaders within the field of service.
I use this 100 day campaign at Macedonia as a time to personally meet with any and all members of the church. I am amazed at how many church members have never had a meeting with their pastor, and if they have had a meeting it was because of either a personal tragedy or an error that the pastor was correcting. I believe you shouldn't wait until an emergency or crisis hits in your life to talk to you pastor.
I am also amazed by, how many people swear they know the pastor; knows what he thinks, knows what he means; knows where he is going but has never taken the time to talk to him. You can't know me without spending time with me. You may learn the public persona of the Pastor, you may learn the vision as he preaches from God's Word but a relationship can not be ascertained without a connection.
Every member of the church should have a relationship with your pastor; therefore, I use this time to meet will all members, prospective members, family members, disgruntled members, former members, audience members who have not enlisted in the army as of yet, in an attempt to personally connect with each and every one of them.
I have had meetings where people told me they didn't trust me, I was too good to be true, "just faking and the real Owens will come out", Pastor you share too much, can you be less honest or not so much you", but in all of this, God is building a Pastor and a People.
Let me confess two things. One, I don't like talking to members after church on Sunday. I love the members and I love sharing but more times than not, I am replaying my sermon in my head; frustrated about what I didn't say or what I should have said, and so I not always "there", in the sense of warm, engaging, instant on, all the things members like you to be.
Secondly, it is hard to form a bond with a pastor from a couple of minutes of conversation after church with a line of people behind you and everyone in your business trying to see what you are saying and how you are saying it.
So, I have kicked off my second 100 Day Campaign here at Macedonia. We started April 18th so hopefully by the last week in July, I will have met with everyone who wants to meet with me. Open Forum! Fire Away! I will share my vision as a Pastor and work with each member to form a spiritual plan for their life as outlined my THE PLAN, which is THE WORD OF GOD.
During this time, we plan on preaching primarily out of the book of Nehemiah. I am proud to say this week we had the honor of meeting with twenty-seven (27) members for 45 minute to hour and an half sessions that have been helpful to me as a pastor. The suggestions that I have received are so simple and yet so life changing it is amazing. After the first 100 day campaign, three new ministries were birthed into existence and better bridges were built for ministry.
We eagerly anticipate what God will do through this 100 day campaign and we will update you weekly on the things I am learning and what God is doing.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
While I was blown away by the hosting job Pastor Tyson and his Hospitality committee did for me, the lesson I learned was how they treated my church. A small delegation of choir members and musicians traveled with us to OKC. A church budgets for the needs and expenses of the evangelist but not for his church; therefore, they were under no obligation to be nice to my church as they invited me, not Macedonia.
With that said, New Hope went over and beyond the expectations; from fish Fry's to BBQ Bonanzas to transportation where ever the church needed, they demonstrated what hospitality looked like.
My second lesson in hospitality was from the Sweet Home Ministries Church and Dr. Erskine Jones. Pastor Jones taught me what hospitality feels like. Pastor Jones is a product of the Macedonia Ministry but he allows me the honor of being his pastor. While he is under no obligation to fellowship with or invite me to anything, he did not consider it robbery to reach down and allow our church to celebrate his 9th Pastoral Anniversary. It was a wonderful time and another needed lesson on what is possible when churches work together.
My third lesson was from the Capernaum Community Church and their Pastor, Rev Eugene C. Staples Sr. Pastor Staples is another product of Macedonia who last Easter organized his own church. The Lord has been blessing his ministry and now he has a multi-racial ministry addressing the needs of the total man. The honor in hospitality I received for Pastor Staples was the honor of being the first minister other than himself, to preach to his people.
I endeavored to reinforce the message that Pastor Staples has been laboring in every Sunday. Stripping myself of all things Pastoral, we tried to simply encourage. The professionalism of his office staff and the love from his church family was overwhelming and appreciated.
The fourth lesson in hospitality was received from the Greater New Vision-New Birth Christian Ministries and their Co-Pastor, Rev. Cory L. Gathright who allowed us to celebrate his 4th Pastoral anniversary. We work with Pastor Gathright in our Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance work within our city.
I am not "one of the boys of Bethlehem" or a son of the city therefore to allow me to preach on his program although I am not from here was very humbling for me. It taught me that real hospitality is not just extended to people we like but it is given to whomever is within our reach.
I am grateful for all the lessons and now I have the responsibility to learn and live this lessons.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
“You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me.
And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”—John 5:39–40
Bible study will not give you eternal life. You could memorize the entire Bible and be able to discuss minute issues of biblical scholarship and yet fail to experience the truths found in its pages. It is a subtle temptation to prefer the book to the Author. A book will not confront you about your sin, the Author will. Books can be ignored; it is much harder to avoid the Author when He is seeking a relationship with you.
The Pharisees in Jesus' day thought God would be pleased with their knowledge of His Word. They could quote long, complicated passages of Scripture. They loved to recite and study God's Law for hours on end. Yet Jesus condemned them because, although they knew the Scriptures, they did not know God. They were proud of their Bible knowledge, but they rejected the invitation to know God's Son.
Can you imagine yourself knowing all that God has promised to do in your life but then turning to something else instead? You may be tempted to turn to substitutes. These substitutes aren't necessarily bad things. They might include serving in the church, doing good deeds, or reading Christian books. No amount of Christian activity will ever replace your relationship with Jesus. The apostle Paul considered every “good” thing he had ever done to be “rubbish” when compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). Never become satisfied with religious activity rather than a personal, vibrant, and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Experiencing God Day by Day: A Devotional and Journal.
I pray this blessed you as it did me, I later this morning found this quote from Dick Biggs that was posted on John Maxwell's blog on Leadership that hoped me a little further, it said, "The greatest gap in life is the one between knowing and doing".
Monday, April 19, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
I know! I am touched! Special! On the short bus! Yeah, yeah, yeah, now with that said, I love going to the cleaners. I have been in revival all week, not to mention I was already at least two weeks behind in shirts and suits that needed to be cleaned so I piled up everything in the car.
Just a big pile of mess, junk, dirt and filth all in the car. The combined smells of Cologne, sweat, perfume, stank, (there is stink and then stinky, then stank) all radiated the atmosphere of the car as we rode to Rubin's Cleaners.
I had so many clothes with me that not only did it take three trips from the car to the door but I had overfilled my complementary bags the cleaners had given me. It was a smorgasbord of stains on the counter; lipstick(to the Macedonia members, that comes from you not any extra curricular activities on the Pastor's part), make-up, food stains, spilled beverages, crayons, snot and whatever else the girls put on me and just the things Pastor seems to bump into when I wear white suits on 5th Sundays.
No matter how much I brought, they took it. No matter how dirty it was, they took it, no matter how many times I mess it up, they still let me come back. I LOVE THE CLEANERS. The Cleaners remind me of the grace of God. In life, try as best as I can, I still mess my garments up. I get dirty, filthy stinky(stank) and need someone to clean me up.
What can Wash Away my Sins, Nothing but the Blood of Jesus, What Can Make me whole again, Nothing but the Blood of Jesus, Oh, Precious is that Flow, that makes me White as Snow, No Other Font I know, Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.
Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty say "Give me your Tired, Your poor, Your Huddled Masses yearning to Breathe Free; God's Cleaners say, Bring me your Contaminated, Soiled, Your Stained and Unsightly Messes that Yearn to be Cleaned so you can breathe freely.
God never intended for you to walk in a disheveled mess, unhygienic and unkept, splattered by sin and soiled by the world. God has a cleaners that specializes in cleaning any and everything. You think your sin can't be cleaned. God's cleaners has cleaned many things. Adultery, cleaned! Fornication, cleaned! Drug Addiction. cleaned! An unforgiving spirit that caused a negative outlook, Cleaned!
Give your dirt and grime to the Lord, "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool". Isaiah 1:18
I LOVE THE CLEANERS
Monday, April 5, 2010
There once was a time when you flew on a airplane, your bags went with you up to a certain number and weight; however, one day some bright person said, "Let's charge the consumer more money for taking luggage" and a new revenue stream was formed.
There once was a time you could rent a car and expect that if you had a flat tire, needed roadside assistance or had encountered a locked out situation, the company would send help in your time of need. Now, in this service based fees system, they ask you at the time of rental, "Would you like for three dollars more a day to purchase roadside assistance for your assurance". I thought I paid for that with the purchase of the rental agreement.
There once was a time you could go to a hotel chain and secure yourself an elegant room. It would be equipped with all the trappings of home for only a fraction of your mortgage payment. However, in this service based world, this same hotel will charge you to use the phone, to drink the water they provide or charge you to use the Internet.
This cycle can go on and on from travel agents adding a fee to use their services, a cable company charging you for pay-per-view movies or a college charging you a library fee on top of the tuition you have already paid. I am so glad Jesus isn't like this. When He died on the cross, HE PAID IT ALL.
Jesus doesn't come back and tell us my death on the cross only cover liars and deceivers but it will cost extra for me to convert murderers and adulterers. He doesn't add a fee so we can receive his provisions or his power. He doesn't tell us it will cost extra for me to give you oxygen, light and food. His death paid for it all.
I am so glad with Jesus, it is paid and paid in full. Thank God for No Hidden Fees!