Sunday, May 31, 2009

My 39th Birthday

Just a few of the many things I am thankful for on this 39th birthday. Thank you God for allowing me to see another birthday, thank you for a wonderful church, a great family, older mentors, and life in general.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Multiplicity, I wish there was more of me

In 1996 a comedy film was released staring Michael Keaton and Andie MacDowell entitled Multiplicity. The premise of the film is a man named Doug Kinney finds himself overwhelmed with the pressures of life. He is trying to be a good father, good husband, a provider as well as a producer. He is trying to handle his career, his business and his marriage and in between, somewhere fit some time for himself to do the things he likes or wishes to do, like go sailing, etc.

Doug meets a scientist who has developed a successful method of cloning. Doug believes that the only one to escape his stressed out existence is to make more of himself so he allows the scientist to clone him. They make TWO, the name of his clone and TWO has the knowledge, the memories, and the experience of one but has no tact, no kindness, and no compassion so they copy the copy and create THREE.

Three has compassion, caring, sensitivity and sharing but ultimate TWO and THREE aren't enough to cover all the areas that Doug needs so they copy the copy's copy and produce FOUR. FOUR is a fun loving, easily distracted, mischievous rascal who while adorable has a very noticeable lower IQ quotient.

This movie reminds me of the snapshot of my life right now. I know it will get better, I know it will slow down but TODAY, I am living the premise of this movie, I wish there was more of me to go around. Although its taboo to say this within the Christian context of overcomers and conquerors, sometimes life can beat the hell out of you. Trying to be a good parent, paying bills that get higher each cycle, food that never lasts, clothes that always seem to be too small and shoes that change sizes monthly, I need some more of me.

Trying to be a good Pastor, visit all the sick, go to the surgery's, out patient as well as over night stays, preach, teach, put out fires, heal wounds, soothe egos, correct unbiblical agendas and point people to the grace of God only to have people get upset because when they called you didn't answer the phone because after all you don't have anything to do but sit around the office and wait for my phone call, I need some more of me.

Thursday of my struggle to hear God give me a relevant Word, no cotton candy Word but a Word that can stick with the members so when the storm hits, they can stand. Struggling for the right idea, the right phrase, the right illustration, standing between death and life and trying to hear God create something out of nothing in me and during this time I still must be the associational Pastor that does the state, district and national work, still must be the community pastor that supports the causes of betterment in our community such as crying out against violence, partnering with others to get guns off the streets, let's help the boys, the girls, the whales, dogs, chipmunks, rabbits and weasels, I need more of me.

I could call my birth pastor but I don't want to hear him today, love him but don't want to hear "GET OVER IT" today. He's right and I love him but can't deal with it, not today. Don't want to call my seasoned pastor Rev. Jackson because there is nothing worse than a cussing out from an old man especially when you have been doing what they told you not to do. Don't want to call "my deacon" from Peoria although he loves me and would listen, he would say son and before he finishes I would feel as big as Stuart Little although his intent would be to bless me.

I wish there was more more of me. I wish the movie was true but its not. However for Hollywood's fairytale, God has a reality and today i read it and cried. Please don't mistake my honesty as a gripe against my church, my calling or my community, I just in the middle of my contractions. God is birthing me and it is painful. If you aren't hurting, maybe its because you have already been pushed out the womb but I am still in contraction stage.

God gave me something for my pain and I leave the blog with this:
Psalm 27:5-6 (21st Century King James Version)
5For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret places of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me upon a rock.
6And then shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me; therefore I will offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
Although it's a paraphrase, TODAY the Message Bible blessed me:
5 That's the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic. 6 God holds me head and shoulders above all who try to pull me down. I'm headed for his place to offer anthems that will raise the roof! Already I'm singing God-songs; I'm making music to God.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What's In Your Hand?

The Lord blessed as He always does on our little piece of ground at 1862 N. Olive Street called Macedonia. The atmosphere was amazing. I have been teaching joint Sunday School all month and the Lord has been blessing our efforts through this venture. The book of Ephesians is simply amazing. One major added side effect I have noticed is in teaching the Sunday School class, I have been sharper and more dialed in during the preaching moment.

Our music ministry was of the chain Sunday, not sure what happened at choir rehearsal but whatever it was, they need to do that again because they ministered to our church. Our college students were back home so its always an interesting exchange to lose one set of students for the summer and gain the "home" college students.

We continued our series on Excuses: The things we say that prevent God plan for us, God Purpose in us, God's power through us and God's provisions towards us. The Lord directed me to Exodus 4:1-5, very familiar for all preachers and most church members and we talked about What's in your Hand?

How you look at what you hold in your hand will determine what you do with it? How do you see it? Blessing or Burden? Calling or Curse? Opportunity or Obstacle? Open Door or Closed Door? Beginning or Ending?

I am discovering that although I grew up in an era where it was always said, "You don't question God", God doesn't care about you asking him questions but can you handle it when God questions you?
Where are you?--Adam and Eve
Where is your brother?--Cain concerning Abel
What are you doing here?--God to Elijah
Is anything to Hard for God?--God to Abraham concerning Sarah
Where were you? God to Job
What's in Your Hand? God to Moses
Your answer to God's questions reveal more about your attitude than it does your aptitude. Moses answers, A Staff! He saw his gift from God as a Dry, Dead Stick. How you look at what you hold in your Hand will determine what you do with it! Moses saw his gift as:
PROBLEM WITH THE PAST: I used to be a Prince and a Prodigy in the Palace. I wore the best clothes, ate the best foods, had the best education and then one day, I got in a fight and killed my brother and ran and hid myself. Now I am in the wilderness, no palace, but a dungeon, dry, death, desolation and disappointment. Moses couldn't walk into his future because he was stuck in his past and that's how he viewed his gift, "A STAFF, DRY DEAD STICK. Many people are still stuck in their past...
PERMANENT PROFESSION: For 40 years, Moses has been a shepherd, 40 years Moses has been tending sheep and goats. His STAFF reminds him of his job, his profession. I am a shepherd. How can I be a leader, right now all I lead are sheep and goats. How can I be a speaker, right now I speak to sheep and goats, not princes and people. Many of us need to learn to start looking at ourselves through the eyes of God. I might be here now, but God sees me somewhere different.
POWERLESS PROSPECTS: Deliverance from the desert has come but Moses doesn't think it can get any better. This is as good as it will get, he has become settled in his comfort zone. People won't believe me, I don't talk well, I don't know who I am, I don't know who you are, I am content with my pessimistic portrait of my prospects.

As usual I have written too much, plus I have yet to answer the question, what is in your hand so the answer is, in your hand God has given you your:
Potential: What you can do, Vs. 3, Use What you Have! God has Given you everything you need to accomplish what He has assigned you to do!
Provision: What God has done, Vs. 4, Let God make room for you. Quit trying to do everything yourself. Get your gift out of your hands, throw it on the ground and watch what God does. What he does with the dry dead stick, He can do with you.
Power: How God brings together what you can do with what He has already done. God will do the work if you give him your stick, Vs. 5
In the NIV, vs 5 starts out by saying, THIS, if you give your THIS to God, God will give you THAT, (That they might believe). Your This may not be much to you but give it to God, David's This was some stones and a slingshot, The little boy's this was two fish and 5 loaves, Moses your this is a dry dead stick but God has given you power in your this. Red Seas will part because of the power in This, Water will flow because of This, Amalek will lose because of the power of your This.

Too much to say, not enough time, time to run


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Should You Do When You Get Offended?

YOU HURT MY FEELINGS. It is a popular phrase within the Owens' household with three girls, 8, 6, and 4, someone is always running to tell Rachael did this, Raven said this, LaBraia looked at me like this, She Hurt my feelings. Sometimes this mentality creeps in the church, all of our churches, people stop singing in choirs, stop attending church, withhold their finances because someone hurt their feelings. In my morning devotion, I found an article that helped me with this and I wanted to share it with you. By way of appreciation, Bless you Pastor McGhee for the gift of WORDsearch. This was the morning devotion from the Sparkling Gems From the Greek.

Luke 17:1
Every so often, everyone has an opportunity to get offended. In fact, Jesus said, "... It is impossible but that offences will come..." (Luke 17:1). The word "impossible" is the word anendektos, meaning something that is impossible, inadmissible, unallowable, or unthinkable. One scholar notes that it could be translated, "It is simply unthinkable that you would allow yourself to dream that you could live this life without an opportunity to become offended...."
But what is an offense? The word "offense" comes from the Greek word skandalon, from which we get the word scandal. This is a powerful picture that you must understand! The word skandalon originally described the small piece of wood that was used to keep the door of an animal trap propped open. A piece of food was placed inside the trap to lure the animal inside. When the animal entered the trap and accidentally bumped the skandalon, or the small piece of wood, the skandalon collapsed, causing the trap door to slam shut and the animal to be caught inside with no way to escape.
However, the New Testament also uses the word skandalon to refer to a stone or an obstacle that caused one to trip, to stumble, to lose his footing, to waver, to falter, and to fall down. In First Peter 2:8, the word skandalon is used to describe how unbelievers react to the Gospel when they don't want to hear it or believe it. Peter said, "And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word...." Rather than accept the message and be saved, these people stumble when they hear the truth, tripping over the message that could set them free.
But in Luke 17:1, Jesus used the word skandalon to warn us about events that happen in life with the potential to trip us up. Sometimes Satan baits us with something—drawing us into a trap in which he knows we'll become offended. When we bump into a moment of offense, the trap slams down shut—and like an animal that is trapped in a cage and can't get out, we suddenly find ourselves caught in a miserable situation, trapped in detrimental and negative emotions!
This means Luke 17:1 could be translated:
"It is simply unthinkable that you would allow yourself to dream that you could live this life without an opportunity to be lured into a situation that could potentially snare you in the feelings of offense...."
If this is really what Jesus meant, we need to know the nature of the bait Satan uses to get to us. What is the "offense" the devil uses to trap most people?
An offense usually occurs when you see, hear, or experience a behavior that is so different from what you expected that it causes you to falter, totter, and wobble in your soul. In fact, you are so stunned by what you have observed or by a failed expectation that you lose your footing emotionally. Before you know it, you are dumbfounded and flabbergasted about something. Then your shock turns into disbelief; your disbelief into disappointment; and your disappointment into offense.
We've all experienced this kind of disappointment at some point in our lives. According to Jesus' words in Luke 17:1, the opportunity to be offended comes to every one of us. As long as we live and breathe, we must combat this nuisance and refuse to allow it to have a place in our hearts and minds. Even worse, we've all been the source of offense at some point or another. It may not have been intentional on our part; in fact, we may not have even known we offended anyone until the person later came and informed us of what we did.
In light of all this, I'd like you to consider these questions:
Have you ever offended someone?
When you found out about the cause of offense, were you shocked?
When the news finally reached you that you had offended that person, were you surprised to hear how he or she perceived what you did or said?
Through the years, I've learned to do the best I can to avoid being a source of offense to anyone. At the same time, I try not to be too shocked if I find out that someone, somewhere, has gotten offended. Because people come from different backgrounds, wake up in bad moods, have a bad day at work, don't physically feel well, and go through a whole host of other negative experiences in their lives, their interpretation of our actions and words may be very different from our original intention.
We can be almost 99-percent sure that someone along the way will misunderstand what we do or misinterpret something we say. Therefore, as Christians, we must: 1) do everything in our power to communicate correct messages to one another; and 2) do everything in our power to bring healing and restoration whenever misunderstanding and offense occurs between ourselves and someone else.
If you discover that you have been a source of offense to someone else, take the mature path and go ask that person to forgive you. And don't get defensive, for that will only make the problem worse. It may even lead to a deeper conflict, so just say you are sorry and move on!
Do everything you can to bury that offense and destroy what the devil is trying to do between you. Make it your personal aim to help that other person overcome what he thinks you did or said. Sometimes it is more important to help the other person attain a position of peace than it is to prove who is right or wrong!
Sparkling Gems From the Greek, May 12, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

Who, Me? Yes, You!

I praise the Lord for another wonderful day at Macedonia. It was a Sunday where many of us had to praise God in spite of a heavy heart. Deacon Kevin Howard and his wife CoCo lost their (her) grandmother and we are praying for that family. Our young people are grieving the loss of a schoolmate who died due to Bacterial meningitis. In addition many of our church members either work or attend this same school that they shut down due to this.

With all of this and much more, I was encouraged to see a church that was determined to press their way to see Jesus, no it was not our usual service in delivery or demonstration but it was dynamic for the glory of God.

We began a series on EXCUSES: The Things that keep us from God's Plan In us; God's Purpose For us; God's Power Through us, and God's Provisions Towards us. An Excuse is: an attempt to release from an obligation or duty by mitigating circumstances, or a reason put forward to justify an action. One writer says that excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.

In Exodus 3 God calls Moses from living a life of obscurity to a life of prominence. It was the obscurity of the desert where God speaks through a burning bush experience. The Hebrew word for "desert" is midbaar which comes from the word dahbaar meaning "to speak" which suggests that the desert is the place where God speaks. What constitutes a desert for me may not seem like a desert to you but we all have to go through a desert.

Swindoll says the desert wears many faces, it can be crowded with people but still lonely, it may rain night and day and yet it is still barren, flowers may bloom and trees may blossom all around you but it can be desolate on your patch of ground. But it is in this place where God speaks and he selects because He is Sovereign and Sufficient.

Moses gives two excuses, one in 3:11 and another in 3:13. To get out of service Moses said, Who am I, and Who are You? Moses basically says, Lord I don't know who I am and I don't know who you are and it is impossible to know who you are until you know who God is, so God reveals himself by saying, I AM.

God is all you need, when you find Him, you find sufficiency. The songwriter says God is my everything, He's my joy in sorrow, He's my hope for tomorrow, He's my rock in a weary land, a shelter in the time of storm, God is my everything.

He is my Access when I can get in, He is my Brother, He is my Courage to face life's difficult moments, He is my Deliverer to avoid Satan's traps and snares, He is my Example, He is a Friend that sticketh closer than any brother, He is Guarantee, He is my Help, He is Intercessor, He is my Justifier, He is my Kinsman Redeemer, He is my Light, He is my Motivation when I don't want to get out of the Bed or even preach on Sunday, He is my Navigation when I can't find my way, He is my Oasis in the middle of my desert experiences, He is my Peace that surpasses all Human Understanding, He gets me out of my Quagmires, because He is My Ransom, He is Strength and my Salvation, He is my Treasure because God is the Ultimate Upgrade, He is my Victory and He is my Well that gives me joy, When you are on the outside looking in, you need someone on the inside looking out at you in love, God says I am the Xenophile you need, I am your Yardstick to measure your growth and I am your Zion, the center of my joy, my banner, battle cry, battalion leader,

God is I AM THAT I AM.