Saturday, November 29, 2008

Is Anyone Really Looking for Jesus?

Is Anyone really Looking for Jesus? I will kick off Advent season by using the John Ortberg book as a Title for my series,"God is Closer Than You Think". Advent is seen by many as a denominational thing: catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, etc., but the celebration of Advent is not bound to one group or one church.
The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God.
Advent is the beginning of a celebration where the Church looks forward with expectation and anticipation for our coming Lord while making great preparation to that end.
However, I must ask again, Is Anyone really Looking for Jesus"? A Post-Thanksgiving crowd of New York shoppers burst through the doors at Wal-Mart knocking down a Wal-Mart worker while thousands of people trampled on, stepped over and stepped around but never stopped to help.
Dozens of employees came to help their fallen brother and they too were trampled on, run over and knocked down by a feeding mob fed by the assumption that they were saving money even if it meant they were taking a life.
When they announced that they needed to shut the store down because someone had died, people yelled, screamed and cursed saying, "I have been in line since yesterday morning" and they kept shopping. Is Anyone really Looking for Jesus?
On the left/west coast, two men are shot inside a Toys R Us, whether for toys or an argument over rival gangs no one knows, and yet more people are concerned over the economic impact ensuring shoppers that it is still safe to shop, please ignore the shooting of some misplaced individuals, feel free to continue spending your money here with us. Is Anyone really Looking for Jesus?
As tragic as it is that America cares more about Macy's and the Mall then they do about the Messiah and the Manger, as amazing as it is that Black Friday from a Wall Street perspective means more now than Good Friday does to a Christian from a salvation perspective, it is mind-boggling to think some of our churches are missing Jesus as well.
We have developed a Martha mentality where we have become so lost in the details that we have forgotten that the deliverer is in our house. The positioning of the poinsettias mean more than the proper placement of the Prince of Peace in our houses of Worship. Is Anyone really Looking for Jesus? I will start this Sunday to began a search for this "so called elusive Jesus that is so hard to find to help show someone this advent season in the words of John Ortberg, God is closer than you think.
We will start Sunday in John 1:14 with the hope of simply saying, God took off divinity that he might kiss with grace we the disfigured that we might have the chance to be delivered back to our Daddy. Pray for us in this adventure as we are excited about the journey.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Leadership in the Community

I have the blessed privilege of saying, "I am a SON of Pastor A. Glenn Woodberry and a product of the Greater Mt. Olive baptist Church in OKC. All of us had to have a start somewhere. No one just arrives. Joshua and Caleb needed Moses. Elisha needed Elijah, John Mark needed Barnabas, Paul needed Gamaliel and Timothy needed Paul.

No man is an island and no man stands alone. We all need someone. Too many times churches have died off because of a lack of preparation for training the next generation for service. Either saints who were unwilling to pass the baton or even not allowing someone to run beside them just to learn how to handle this race.

Many of us are one if not two major funerals away from our churches being in major upheaval because we have not properly trained our "waiting in the wings workers". We have made some people TOO valuable in the church and allowed some to hold the church hostage because we have not properly prepared the next leaders.

II Timothy 2:1-3; 3:14-17; 4:1-5 gives us a beginning outline that we should
2:1 uses the term SON. Paul speaks of a development that has taken place from the time Timothy was converted at Lystra that has moved deeper than a normal relationship.
All preachers birthed into a ministry are not SONS, in fact some are illegitimate children birthed from wrong sources such as Deacons, members, family pressures, etc but everyone that has Rev. behind their name is not a Son of the Pastor.

To be called a Son implies a Relationship, a Kinship and a Fellowship.

Paul encourages Timothy to Discern- find, choose some faithful men who can teach others. How do we pick people for leadership? It is not based on money given, level of influence, whose family they belong to but can they be trusted, are they teachable, and can they train others in the Treasure of the Word of God.

Paul then seems to express to Timothy, it's time for deployment, in vs 3 to "endure" join with me, share in suffering" You have been deployed to serve. Soldiers don't get to pick when they want to fight or where they get to fight. Soldiers have to stand a post, guard a wall, and be faithful until relived. No where do we have to understand, just obey the orders given you.

It's always a challenge for me as I am still trying to develop my skills to preach and teach to teach Bible lessons when the Sunday School writers skip from chapter to chapter to chapter but the outline I will use to try and bring all three chapters together is:
Enlarge the Family II Tim 2: 1-2
Entrust the Faithful II Tim 2:1-2
Endure the Fire II Tim 2:3
Engage in the Fundamentals II Tim 3 14-17
Equip the fold II Tim 4:1-2
Encourage the Followers II Tim 4:1-2
Entrench when people fall away. II Tim 4:3

I am excited to share this with the teachers in teacher's meeting. We pray that God will be pleased.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Standing Together

It was a wonderful worship day all day for me. Sunday Morning, Pastor Eugene C. Staples Sr., delivered a timely Word out of Acts 4:9-10 that informed and inspired and hopefully will instigate some people to act out our motto of "We are Macedonia and We are called to help somebody"

Sunday evening we shared with the Greater St. John family and Dr. McGhee and family for their 5th year Pastoral appreciation service. Dr. K.D. Witherspoon knocked it out of the park and the ball has yet to land, check out his blog for the outline. The man is gifted and a giant of a preacher.
While the preaching of the Word encouraged me what a St. John member said to me after service provoked me. After thanking me for loving her Pastor, she said, "What you ministers are doing here in South Bend is revolutionary, I have never seen Pastors who work together like you three are doing.

While I appreciated the words, the impact didn't hit me until later. I recognize my relationship with Pastors Witherspoon and McGhee is unique but the thought of standing alongside a fellow Pastor never struck me as revolutionary. I mean, after all that's basic isn't it?

Robert Fulghum's book, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten" is helpful here as in it he says, "Share everything. Play Fair. Don't Hit People. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your Own Mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt someone and When you go out in the World, it is best to Hold Hands and Stick Together.
Isn't that what Paul was really saying in his closing words in Ephesians:

31-32Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (MSG)

I realized then that what seems normal to me is revolutionary to others because sometimes the worst words people have heard about preachers have come from other preachers.
Instead of building each other up, we have torn each other down. Preachers who try and out whoop, out preach and out sing each other instead of helping our brothers preach, whoop and sing for the glory of God. Where did we lose sight of the fact God has called us to save a dying world by taking the gospel to the unchurched?

We now live in a world where Pastors try and grow their church by stealing members from another church by downgrading pastors to make themselves look better.

My Pastor taught me the principle, "If I can't help you, I will never hurt you" Bible study has turned me into an Acts 5 Pastor as it relates to other Pastors or ministries. Take care and Leave alone! If it is of man, it will fail but if it is of God you can't stop it, either way you don't have to waste time talking about it.
Charles Swindoll in his book, "Hope Again" tells the story of Andrew Jackson while serving as a Major general in the Tennessee militia during the War of 1812 after noticing all of the arguing, bickering and fighting that was taking place among his men, Jackson called them all together and said, "Gentlemen! Let's remember, the enemy is over there!

Even if this generation or this particular piece of ground here in South Bend has been known more for the sinful practice of brother-bashing that would make people think we were enemies instead of being members of the same family, the time has come for a different picture to be displayed.
Stop the Infighting! Pull for one another, Support one another, Believe in one another, Care for one another, Pray for one another, Love one another. If I can't help you, I will never hurt you. Let's stand together because the enemy is over there.

Monday, November 10, 2008

83rd Church Anniversary and Homecoming Services

If only pictures did justice to what took place at Macedonia Baptist church on Sunday as we celebrated our 83rd Church Anniversary and Homecoming services. God blessed us all day as He allowed us to see many take place. Our website went live this weekend,

In our church we put back up the pictures of former pastors who served Macedonia faithfully starting with Pastor F.D. Johnson, Pastor Anthony R. Pettus, Sr. and Pastor Carlos Williams and we also put those pictures up on the website.

Two churches came together to worship God jointly in South Bend at the morning worship hour. I realize that doesn't sound like a big deal but for two local pastors and churches to come together is amazing, out of town we are used to this but in town is usually an evening affair. What makes it more amazing is, this is South Bend, the preacher fellowship is still a work in process but God is Good.

Rev Andre Wells and the Second Baptist Church came over and the Lord blessed us with a high time. Rev. Wells preached a relevant word out of Lamentations 5:21 entitled "The Road to renewal" His outline was:





Pastor Pettus and the Greater Progressive Family came and shared with us in the evening service so we could say together in one voice "THE DEVIL IS A LIAR". There were people who said this day would never happen, that Pastor Pettus would never step foot back in the Macedonia pulpit, many people were initially upset with me when I announced he was coming back.

Sometimes people try and drag you into their past battles but God showed me that there were certain blessings that He could not give Macedonia or myself because of how they treated Pastor Pettus and my blessings would be dependent on where I stood on this issue, so I stood with God. Macedonia is a wonderful church full of great people but in all of our churches sometimes we see the pastor as our property rather than God's possession. God can do what he wants when he wants how he wants. Pastors don't assign themselves, We go where God leads. Pastor Pettus has been nothing but good to me, He left me a church not in shambles but one that enjoys worship and the Word.
When My daughters became sick and I was scheduled to attend a service where he was preaching, I called him to let him know what was taking place and that I didn't want him to think I didn't want to fellowship. He told me family comes first, take care of them and I will take care of this. When I asked him to come, I told him whenever he could come that's when my anniversary service would be, Pastor Pettus said I will be there the second Sunday in November when Macedonia normally holds the service and I will bring my church and they came in great number.
Sunday, God set things back in order at Macedonia. Worship was amazing and Pastor Pettus wrecked the house. He preached out of Hosea 6:1-3 entitled "The Road of Recovery" He said we must have:

An attitude of Returning

An attitude of Recognition

An attitude of Reliance

An attitude of Resolve.

God blessed us in a mighty way. I am grateful I Pastor such an awesome church following behind such great Pastors. I also thank Pastor Wells and Pastor Pettus for consenting to come and for allowing me to post their outlines on my blog. I look forward to what God will do in our church because of the spirit of obedience that reigned on Sunday morning to his will and his way.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Time to Come Down From the Mountain

Pastor A. A. Jackson Jr., Pastor of the Forest Hill M.B.C of Fort Worth, TX has a saying that I understand a little better now. After the celebration of his sermon/invitation, Pastor Jackson would always says. "It's time to come down now, "We are coming down now".

After these three says with Dr. Issac Culver Jr., and the Jerusalem Baptist Church family of Gary, Indiana, I certainly can say I have been to the mountain top. I concur with Peter that "Lord it's good for us to be here." The hospitality of the church, the life lessons I gleaned from Pastor Culver, the area fellowship of the local Pastors, Dr. Marion J. Johnson Jr.,, Pastor Richard Wilford, Pastor Dwight Mobley and the wonderful praying saints of Jerusalem Baptist was truly amazing.

Because they have no shortage of preaching in Jerusalem, I had a hot crowd every night who basically preached for me every night. Thank God for running a revival for a preaching Pastor because the wood has already been chopped, all you have to do is stir it up. The wisdom they conveyed with me each night will be something that I take with me for a lifetime.

As wonderful of a time as I had I still here Pastor Jackson saying, it's time to come down, there is work to do in the valley.

Please pray for us as we enter into covenant agreement with the local Pastors of South Bend. We praise God for Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon who is leading an effort to call our area churches together for a time of prayer and fasting so that we may beseech God to end the shootings and violence that has plagued South Bend over these last 6 weeks.

Thank God that the mountain gives us what we need in order to face the opportunities of service in the valley. There are demon-possessed boys in the valley with faith-debating fathers and confused communities but in the midst of it all Jesus says " Bring the Boy to Me". I am pledging my support to work, pray, fast and enter into covenant with all of the other Pastors that in prayer we will bring our Boys and daughters to Jesus for the Healing of the Community.

I preached a sermon Tuesday night out of Mark 9:14-28 titled "IT IS POSSIBLE"

I. We all have an "IT" The it is your "demon"

VS 18 (NIV) "It" seizes him, "it" throws him to the ground

VS 20 (NIV) When the spirit saw Jesus "It" threw the boy into a convulsion.

VS 22 (NV) How long has he been like this, "From Childhood, "IT has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him"

We all have an IT. Something that bothers us, haunts, hassles and harasses us. We try and run away from IT but it still comes, We try and sleep to get away from IT and we dream about it. Many of us have not just developed our IT but we have had our IT so long, IT is part of our family. We have become comfortable living in our dysfunction.

We justify our IT, "My mother was crazy", "you know I'm just real, I"m a Gemini I have two sides" when in reality we are fighting a demon that has set up camp to try and tear down what God has designed. The violence that is going on in South Bend is an IT. IT had been ignored, IT had been overlooked, and now IT must be dealt with because, IT will not go away by itself. IT will not be wished away, or legislated away, IT must meet Jesus.

II. We all deal with IF. If deals with out Doubt.

The father's problem was not a demon but it was doubt.

VS 23- "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us"

Many of us deal with IF. We have seen out IT so long that we have stopped believing that God can do anything but fail. We say maybe I will always be crazy, maybe the best I can do is a drop-by man instead of a husband, maybe depression will always haunt me, we have spent so much time looking at the problem we have forgotten to look at the provider.

III. Jesus says "He is" Jesus can deliver us from out ITS and our IFS.

VS 24- Everything is possible for him who believes.

Max Lucado in his book, "Just Like Jesus" says God loves you just the way you are but he refuses to leave you there. he wants you to have a heart like his. He wants you to be just like Jesus.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Message for A Messed-Up Mind

Sunday was a blessed day in the Lord for me for two reasons. 1) It was the first time in four weeks that I was back in the pulpit God entrusted in my hands to preach. I started last week preaching in the area but Sunday was my first back home. I had nasal/sinus surgery and a uvalectomy that rendered me without a voice for 10 days and no solid food for longer than that. The church has been good to me, taking care of me and nursing me back to health and my older members have enjoyed bossing me around praying that this will slow me down.

2) After church I got on a plane and went to Oklahoma City to bring my girls back home. They went to see their mother for fall free days and spent the week in OKC. I am a single father raising three girls with the aid of God. It's not easy but I can say, they are my gift from God and my saving grace here in South Bend. It is so wonderful watching them grow in the knowledge of the Lord and Sunday service is not the same if I look out and I don't see them there.

Please pray for me as I enter into a three day revival for Pastor Issac Culver Jr., and the Jerusalem Baptist Church of Gary, Indiana. We pray that God will be pleased with our efforts in trying to be an instrument for him.

Sunday we dealt with Mark 16:1-7 and specifically verse 7

7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that(A) he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you."

I hope you caught it, in fact because many of you who read and blog are much more astute than I am, you already saw this but I never had. When I saw it I shouted and have yet to stop. Max Lucado in his Book, Cast of Characters says in our rush to the Resurrection we miss it but it's like discovering a ten dollar bill in a drawer full of envelopes. Happy to discover it but shocked to find it there.

But go, and tell his disciples, AND PETER that he is going before you to Galilee My mind had to ask, "Why was Peter so special that he deserved a shout out from the angelic messenger? Why not, And Matthew? And Thomas? He was the Doubter. And James or John? What ranks Peter to be so important?

It goes back to Mark 14:27 when Jesus says "All of you will be made to stumble because it is written I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter". Peter stands in verse 29 to tell Jesus he is wrong because "Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be"

We all know how it ends up whether you like the Matthew 27:75 account or the Luke22:62 account they both end the same, "So Peter went out and wept bitterly"

Where did he go? Where did he run? Better question, where do you run after you mess up? Where do you go to get away from the guilt of your mistake and the haunting memories of your past? Since I have been there, I can answer it doesn't make a difference where you go, you just run, run as far away as you can. Run from your past, run from your pain, run from your problems, RUN, RUN, RUN.

Since God knew that we were going to run he sent an angel to deliver a message to the ladies, go and tell the disciples, AND PETER. It's alright. Jesus still loves you. it's alright he already knew. Change the name you fit in the story, And John, And Tony, And Steve, And Eugene, And Wendell, And Kevin, And you, those of us that have been messed up by the pain of your mistakes, messed up by the realization you haven't quite reached perfection yet.

Messed up because that sin you thought you had conquered came back to knock you down, messed up by that temptation that you thought you were past, messed up by the knowledge you still have bad thoughts, impure motives, unspoken desires that even when you have pushed them to the outside of your home, seemingly it crawls back in the cracks like roaches who know the way back in. God has a message for you:

Your Failure is Not Fatal
God gives Peter and we A Personal Invitation

What happened to you Peter won't kill you because I died for it. You don't have to die because I died for you. Sin must be punished, the debt must be paid, a sacrifice must be offered so I gave my life in your stead and now here is your personal invitation to come and see. After Peter receives the blessed news that he is not an outcast, he is not a leper or a wanderer, he runs as fast as he can to come and look for himself. God gives us all a personal invitation.

Your Failure is Not Final
God gives Peter and we A Purposeful Indication
Go look Peter and although you won't find me, I left you some clues that I am not lost. No one stole me, I woke up and removed what was no longer necessary and left them for you as something to hold on to until I see you again. Strips of linen/cloth may not mean much to other people but for you Peter they will be an indicator that I am not dead but I am yet alive.
Every Sunrise is God's indicator that He is not dead.
Every Sunset, Every Rainbow, Every bird that sings, Every flower that stands in attention to God's sunlight, Every star that twinkles in the sky is God's indicator, He is not dead.

Finally God gives Peter and we A Powerful Inspiration
God is not the God of a second chance but God is the God of another chance. Noah got another chance, Abraham Got another chance, Elijah got another chance, Rahab got another chance, Sampson got another chance and thank God, I got another chance.