Sunday, April 26, 2009

What a Blind Man Saw

On the back end of a very busy April, I am on a spiritual high but physically I feel like I am about to die of exhaustion. The changing weather patterns, climates, etc have finally caught up with me but God is good and no matter how I feel, I feel better than I deserve to feel.

The Macedonia Church had a great time on Friday celebrating with the Second Baptist Church and their Pastor, Rev. Andre Wells for his 5th Pastoral Anniversary services. I had the honor of preaching and I must say I love Pastor Appreciation services. For one, my Pastor was always just ruthless at services like this, pro-preacher, pro-pastor, run everything in the house and for two, if a fellow preacher/pastor can't be supportive of another Pastor on his day, I don't think much of that preacher. I may never be able to do anything to help you but I promise I won't do anything to hurt you.

We talked on Exodus 17: 8-16, "THEN CAME AMALEK", God blessed us and I found out later that everything the Lord directed me to say was what the Pastor needed the church to hear so God be praised because I had my safe sermon in my pocket but God wouldn't let me preach it.
We as believers for our Leaders should:
Take Them Up vs. 9
Prop Them Up vs. 12
Hold Them Up vs. 12
Write It Up vs 14
Lift the Banner Up vs 15

Sunday Morning at Macedonia was a great time. We moved our service ahead an hour early because I was scheduled to preach the 11:00 hour worship service for the 11th Pastoral Appreciation service for Pastor Ricardo Taylor and the Mt. Carmel Church and I wanted the church to go with me so we preached on Mark 10: 46-52, "What A Blind Man Saw". The Lord blessed and I am grateful for the strength he gave me to preach as when I woke up I could tell I didn't have everything I wanted but I had everything I needed because I still had HIM. What a Blind Man saw is:
He Saw Past His Painful Obstacles. (Blind, Beggar, Black-listed)
He Saw Past His Personal Opposition. (Be Quiet)
He Saw His Present Opportunity. ( "I want to See")
At 11:00 we went to Mt Carmel and had a great time celebrating another Pastor's anniversary. To come together the way we did is admittedly unconventional but God worked it out for His Glory. Mt. Carmel looked me over for a minute but when God flipped the switch, we had a Great Time in the Lord. It was a blessing from God that my voice wasn't right because I would have put myself in the hospital over there if it had been. The Lord allowed us to pull a stick out of the bag from Mk 9: 14-24 and we preached, "It Is Possible". Nothing major but sometimes the simple stuff just kills me, three words in that text always do it for me, IT, IF and IS. We all have Its ( boys problem), We all deal with IFs (Dads Problem) but Jesus says Everything IS POSSIBLE (His solution for our Its and IFS). God blessed.

We had 4:00 Annual Usher Day at our church and I praise God for a wonderfully dedicated group of workers who are always on their post serving the Lord without much fan fare or hoopla but God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. I wanted them to know their Pastor loves them and honors them for their work to God and Macedonia. Pastor Lanell Williams from the Mt. Olive Church came over to preach this service for us and he preached out of I Corinthians 9: 24-27, "Don't Quit The Race". It was a good service for two reasons, God was pleased and it didn't take all day to have the service.

I am crawling under the bed and will check to see who my Niners drafted to go with the best wide receiver in this draft Michael Crabtree. Blessings on you,

Feel like crawling, but I am running in my Spirit,


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is your Church worth a Second date?

I ran across this article by Rod Arnold, "What Smart Churches know", How Branding and Marketing Know-How can revolutionize your church". My training has always been the promotion of Jesus first and foremost and the life changing power that he gives the Church, the congregation and the community. So although I disagree with some of the things said not only by this book but many of the "marketing based church books" that are out there now, if a Pastor understands what he is called to do and is committed to that, one can glean what is good and leave what is not. Here is a taste of the article:

When someone is introduced to your church, are they interested in a second date?
The Process of Building New Relationships
If we really want our churches to grow, it's only logical that we need to be actively building relationships with new people, those who don't already know us. But how do you do this on a mass scale, with the thousands of people in your community? First of all, understand that communicating about your church is very different than marketing a soft drink or a candy bar. People don't need to know much before trying a new brand of ice cream, but a deep level of trust is required when it comes to choosing where their family will be taught and cared for, and where they will invest their time, talent and resources.
The process of attracting new people to your church—and keeping them—can be broken down into four steps:
Like us » Know us » Trust us » Join us
Let's dive into each of these steps a little more deeply, and then I'll give you some practical ways you can make this work for your church.
Step #1: Like Us
When you meet someone for the first time, you make a judgment on whether you like them. You pay attention to their personality, their sense of humor and how they interact with you. Whether we admit it or not, first impressions really are huge. We make instant decisions, often subconsciously, about whether we want to get to know that person better.
In business, a "brand" is a mental image that comes to mind when someone thinks about an organization or a product. What is the mental image that comes to mind when people think of your church? Do you make a great first impression? Does it compel them to want to get to know you better? If you could paint the perfect mental picture about your church for the people in your city, what would it look like?
"Church branding" goes way beyond creating a logo. It's about identifying what's truly unique and special about your church, and then understanding how it connects with the real needs of the people in your city. It's about expressing and articulating that special something in an authentic way every time someone touches your church.
Step #2: Know Us
If your church makes a good first impression on someone, they will want to get to know you better. They'll want to know what you think and talk about, what's important to you and what you're passionate about.
Step #3: Trust Us
Think about the people in your life who you trust—I mean really trust. Doing a trust-fall exercise on a team building retreat is great, but just because someone didn't drop you on the ground doesn't necessarily mean you're going to trust them to always have your best interest in mind.
One of the keys to developing trust is simply time. The more time we spend with people, the more we see what they are really made of. We see their character and values in action. People need time to see what your church is all about, to see if you are consistent in what you say and do, to believe that you really care about them, and to build trust.
This is especially true for many people who have been burned by church in the past. Unfortunately there are a lot of "de-churched" people out there who have been victims of church politics, gossip or disingenuous leaders. Building—or rebuilding—trust and changing their opinions about church can take some time.
Step #4: Join Us
Ultimately, your goal is for people to decide to make your church their home—to integrate into a community that loves each other, serves each other and supports each other through life's highs and lows. But getting to this decision is the result of a relationship, not a transaction. And healthy relationships are a progressive process of discovery.

Excerpt from Rod Arnold, What Smart Churches Know

Monday, April 20, 2009

Grateful for Fellowship

Words cannot express my sincere thanks and appreciation for the hospitality that was shown to me and the Macedonia Church family as we experienced southern hospitality courtesy of Pastor E. J. Tyson and the New Hope Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, OK. As host, Pastor Tyson and his church put on the big pot and the little pot for us.

The Lord allowed safe passage through the air, car and our "coach passenger van" (God be praised) from Indiana to Oklahoma and back. An unrealized side benefit to this trip was not only the fellowship of two "kindred" churches but the fellowship between our own members, 12 hours in a car, or 17 hours on a coach van will make people get to know each other real quick.

Although we attend the same churches, serve in ministries together and "know" each other in a general sense of the word, many of our churches don't share an intimate fellowship. We eat, we have programs, we come together but for the most part it's the same people sitting in the same seats on the same pews talking to the same people about the same stuff.

This trip brought together different groups, economically, socially, gender, educational and allowed each to see Macedonia from someone else's point of view. I pray this fellowship that started on this trip will blossom into a healthy and vibrant church that is welcoming to all people regardless of who they are or what they drive or how much money they make.

I am overwhelmed that a church would think enough of their Pastor to travel over 900 miles to spend several days with him in revival. In addition, I am grateful that when I arrived back home here in South Bend, I still found a church family that loved me; the key still worked to the door, and they still allow me to grow into becoming their Pastor.

While thanking Pastor Tyson for the invitation this year (and next) and thanking Macedonia for coming, I also want to thank my Pastor Rev. A. Glenn Woodberry for allowing my brother Pastor K.D. Witherspoon to preach at my home church, Greater Mt. Olive Baptist Church, and the official record is, the Lord used him to destroy and tear down everything that did not look like Christ and then rebuild it in His image and for His Glory. I look forward to unleashing Pastor McGhee on OKC in the near future as well as showing Indiana the preaching prowess of Pastors Tony Rhone, Teron Gaddis and others just to name a few.

Sunday service was great and I was humbled by people who although they just got of the bus at 2:00am, they were back for morning worship and a full day of running. I thank God that he allowed my body to endure the wear and tear of preaching and for this process my spirit has been rejuvenated to run on a little while longer to see what the end will be.


Monday, April 13, 2009

65th Annual Simultaneous Revival in OKC

I am living out my dream this week as I am in the place where I first fell in love with preaching, THE OKC SIMULTANEOUS REVIVAL IN OKC. I have had the blessing of hearing some of the greatest preachers because of this venue. Dr, CAW CLARK, "And the Church said Amen", Dr. J. Allen Caldwell of the Burnett Baptist Church of Detroit Michigan, I would go home every night as a little boy and holla in the mirror so I could pull it like Caldwell.

Before the Full Gospel Movement moved, I witnessed the preaching, singing, custodial skills of Paul Morton and James Morton. Before Ralph West became the legend he is now, he cut his teeth here. Before H.B Charles became the legend, he was the boy wonder of our revival, You name them and OKC brought them here, Maurice Watson, Charles Emery, Issac Culver Jr., Melvin Wade, Stephen Thurston, L.K. Curry, Jerome Kirby, A. Louis Patterson, Frank Ray, Ricky Carter, The Bailey Brothers, pick one they all have been here, even Rev Joe Carter who wasn't appreciated because he was a home product but after a stint in Chicago came back here for the late-night youth service and his legendary status was born that night with PUSH.

Time does not permit me to talk about the W.C. Thomas' or E.K. Bailey's, Q.E. Hammonds' or Joel Gregory's that have come through here. Nor does time let me talk about the friendships gained or the associations formed with fellow preachers such as E.T. Ivey or Arthur Lane. I certainly can't describe with the justice it deserves the impact these men have had on my life through this event.

I praise God and always put him first but the same way I praise God for letting me see in my life time a Walter Payton, or Barry Sanders, or a Tiger Woods or Jordan, Dr, J, Kobe or Lebron is the same way I praise God for letting me see great preachers. We praise everything else but are afraid to give the preacher any credit. Good and sound preaching is an art form. Every preacher can't preach!

I thank God for my pastor, Pastor A. Glenn Woodberry for exposing us to good preaching and I thank Dr. J.A. Reed Jr., for his tireless efforts to continue the great tradition of this revival that was left to him by the Farley's, Neals and Provos of our preaching world.

And to think that God has shown favor on me to go from being a participant in the pew to a contributor in the pulpit at this 65th annual simultaneous revival for such a time as this, God truly will supply all of our needs but he also gives us some of our wants and fantasies as well. I am living a dream this week.

I want to thank Pastor E.J. Tyson and the New Hope Baptist Church for letting me be their guest evangelist and also for allowing my church to come Thursday and Friday, truly this is an embarrassment of riches, God is a great God and I bless him for showing favor on a sorry individual like myself. I pray I don't disgrace God, my host pastor, my church or this wonderful event.

So Excited to be running, I can't stand it,


Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Wonderful Week in the Lord

First Ladies Payton and Staples
Pastors Payton, Staples, Owens

It has truly been a blessed week for me. I started the week off running revival for the Canaan Baptist Church in Elkhart, Indiana where Dr. Theodis Hadley serves as pastor. The people of Cannan were receptive and responsive to the preaching of the gospel and I came away with another throat remedy for my continuing throat problems, papaya juice, it worked wonders, completely hoarse Wednesday, back swinging, Thursday night.

On Good Friday, I had the honor of being selected to preach with 6 other ministers for our Good Friday Services put on by our IMA here in South Bend where Rev. Keith D. Witherspoon serves as president. As a testimony to his successful leadership, this was the best attended service of this kind here in South Bend by People, Pastors and Preachers. I am sure we will need a larger location next year.

I felt I was placed in a horrible position, last on the rotation (COMING RIGHT BEHIND WITHERSPOON), but who am I to complain especially considering the President, more specifically my brother Rev. Witherspoon has done more for me than I deserve, so whatever the President wants me to do, I will do. In addition, I am new to this town and everyone has to pay your dues so all in all, it was an honor to be selected. All we talked about was "I Put it all In His Hands" Lk 23:46. The Lord saved us from Death, God be praised.

On Friday Evening, The Macedonia Family had a launch service for my brother and son of the Macedonia Family, Pastor Eugene C. Staples, Sr and family. We were honored to have Rev. Anthony Payton from the Come As You Are Community Church of Ft. Wayne, Indiana preaching for this service.

This service was a blessing indeed. We were blessed to show Macedonia that ministers are more than just people that are to be collected around you as a display of your own greatness but they should be trained, taught and then transitioned into their next assignments. Pastor Payton used the occasion and the holiday season and taught on Jn. 19:30 where he shared about CLOSURE. God be praised for the great time we had.

Pray for us as tomorrow our church will have its first sunrise service in almost 20 years, (Pray they don't vote me out after its over). We will run Sunrise service, breakfast served by the men, our children's Easter program, 10:00am service with our adult fine arts department in charge.

If the Lord says the same at 7am, we will talk about "The Emmaus Encounter", Luke 24: 13-35, The disciples:

Saw the Word Walking Toward Them
Heard the Word Delivered Unto them
Felt the Power of the Word Changing them

If the Lord also says the same at the 10:00am service we will preach on the subject, IT'S TOO HEAVY FOR ME, SO GOD MOVED IT, out of Mark 16: 1-4. Still working out the outline for that even as I type this although I have an idea, also must finish the sub points for the other sermon, so as always work to do. I pray that everyone has a great Resurrection Sunday to the glory of God.

Keep Running,


Monday, April 6, 2009

Death Died

Praise God for showing Himself mighty within the Macedonia Church on Sunday. We had a great time in the Lord. I thank God for our minister of music, Brother Jovan Lewis because from the opening song until the closing benediction, the music department was right where they should have been. The choir started singing "The Blood" and Church went under, folk running down the aisles, into the basement, almost called one of my South Bend boys to come over and preach for me, church had gotten too hot for my skill set of preaching but God had mercy on me.

I should have been traditional and just did a Palm Sunday message but first off God didn't give that to me and secondly, my messages for next week are already locked in working with the ministries of the church so The Lord allowed us to be simple and preach I Corinthians 15: 53-57, The Day Death Died, When Jesus Got up, Death Died.

A. Rudyard Kipling, "The Jungle Book: Mowgli" has a story in it where the man cub asks the animals what is the most feared thing in the jungle. He is told that when two animals meet on a narrow path that one must step aside and let the other pass. The animal that steps aside for no one would then be the most feared. Mowgli asks, What Kind of animal would that be? Elephant? Lion? Finally, a wise owl says, "The most feared animal in the jungle is DEATH! It steps aside for no one".

Death has been a bad boy for a long time. Whenever Death would encounter someone in the path, Death never moved. Death Didn't move for Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Death didn't move for Muhammad, Buddha or Confucius. However, one day Death met Jesus along the path and Death stepped aside.
Jesus Robbed Death of Its Power
Jesus Removed from Death Its Proof
Jesus Received from Death God's People
In 1809, Simon Renee Braille and his wife Monique welcomed their fourth child into the world-- a lively boy named Louis. They lived in a small stone house near Paris where Braille was the local harness maker. Leather working tools are dangerous, so the toddler had been instructed not to go into his father's shop alone. One day, Little Louis snuck in dad's shop and became enthralled with one of dad's sharp instruments named an awl that was used to punch holes in the leather.

While played with this instrument, Little Louis slipped and fell and punctured his eye. The injured eye became infected. Since Little Louis could not stop rubbing his eyes, soon his other eye became infected as well until Little Louis was blind in both eyes.
Louis was fortunate enough to study at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. He excelled as an organist, and at twelve years old began asking the question “How can the blind read?”
One summer break, Louis went back into his dad's shop and found that same awl. He realized that same awl could make raised dots like the ones he had seen from the French called "night writing"

He created a system of reading for the blind called Braille. The same instrument that caused the destruction of his vision was now the same instrument that would deliver many others into a world of reading. That's what Jesus did at Calvary.

Death no longer destroys but rather Death Delivers us back to our Daddy. The Bible says it better than i can, I run on this, Death is swallowed up in victory, O Death, where is thy sting, O grave where is they victory!!

Death has been defeated, NOW GO RUN AND TELL THAT