Friday, October 30, 2009

"The Devil's Night (October 30th)

The term "The Devil's Knight" is a name associated with October 30th, the night before Halloween. It is mainly a Detroit phenomenon but it is practiced in many parts of the country. It is a night of mischief, mayhem and mindless activities that have have been as simple as vandalism(throwing eggs, TP'ing cars etc) to more elaborate things such as arson and even murder.

The reason for me posting this blog is not to give advertisement to the devil but rather to share what I learned the hard way. Although I live in South Bend, Indiana, South Bend is a wanna-be town. It is heavily influenced in one direction by Chicago and Gary and in another direction by Detroit.

Last year on this so-called night of mischief, South Bend experienced its fair share and some of that mischief affected our church and its members. This year, Macedonia wanted to be proactive in our approach to this night. Instead of allowing the devil to have free reign in our neighborhoods and community, we decided to put the devil and all of his workers on notice.

Tonight, we are having a midnight musical which will benefit the Norther Indiana Food Bank. The offering will be the collection of canned goods which we will present to that organization. This musical will feature many of the best and brightest youth and young adults in our Michiana area.

I thank God for Brother Chuckie Coleman for allowing God to use him in this effort and for stepping out in faith by not looking at things as they are but rather looking at things by how they can be through God.

We are praying for a powerful praise to emanate from 1862 N. Olive Street that will filter through not only this community but all of South Bend. I am on my way upstairs for sound check. Please continue to pray for us at Macedonia. We are endeavoring to be the Church that is called to help somebody.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Raven

October 27th, 2004, God gave me a very special present. I had already been blessed with two angels in Rachael Simone and LaBraia Simone but God decided I needed another angel so he gave me a little girl named Raven Elisabeth Simone Owens.

Raven is my baby girl and she knows and acts like it. She is a diva and wears the title well. I love you Raven with my whole heart and it will be my joy to one day see you accept Jesus as your personal savior. Every time you hug and kiss me and say I love you daddy, I melt more and more. The Lord has a sense of humor and since Rachael was the perfect blend of two parents and I marked LaBraia up, so your mom marked you up.

In spite of all the rumors and gossip, no woman will ever get close to the Pastor because Raven stands guard every church service at my leg looking up as to suggest, he is taken, MOVE ON. My relationship with you is different than your sisters. I love you equally but differently. As you get older and ask the "WHY QUESTIONS" that I asked my parents about their divorce, I want you to know that it wasn't your fault.

You came from love, the love of God which looks beyond our faults and sees our need. You weren't an accident or a mistake, you were and still are a gift from God. I love you Baby girl. Have fun with you mom and I will see you in a week when we fly back home. Happy Birthday Angel,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Never Quit, Never Stop, Keep running!!

If you are going to do anything significant for the Kingdom of God, you must know in advance that Satan will not be delighted about it. He will try to stop you, thwart you, and dissuade you from staying on track. The last thing he wants is for you to step into the middle of God's will for your life, because he knows the moment you do, mighty and powerful things will begin to happen that negatively affect his dark kingdom. Therefore, Satan will most definitely do all he can to keep you from getting where God wants you to be!

Paul gives his own testimony of how Satan tried to hinder him from doing what God put in his heart. He wrote, "Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us." I Thessalonians 2:18

The word "hindered" is the Greek word egkopto. As noted earlier, this word was used to depict a runner who was elbowed out of the race by a fellow runner. However, it was also used to picture the breaking up of a road to make it impassable for travelers. This kind of impasse made it impossible for a traveler to get where he needed to go. As a result, the traveler's trip was hindered, delayed, postponed, or temporarily put off. The traveler could still take another route to get to the same destination, but the alternate route was inconvenient, cost a lot of extra money, and took precious time that could have been used another way.

By using this word, Paul informs us that demonic attacks inconvenienced him on occasion. Satan craftily sought to abort advances of the Gospel by arranging unexpected problems that delayed, postponed, and hindered the missions God had placed on Paul's heart. But did Paul sit down and cry because plans didn't work out as he intended? Did he throw in the towel and quit? No!
The apostle Paul never stopped just because the devil tried to get in his way! No impasse or roadblock was going to stop him! He refused to take no for an answer! He was going to get the job done, regardless of the inconvenience, money, time, or effort involved. He was so stubborn about doing what he was called to do that he always found a way to do it.

An example of this is the time Paul left the city of Ephesus because his life was in danger (see Acts 19 and 20). Paul had given three years of his life to the believers in Ephesus. When he left, he could have cried, "Oh, I don't understand why the Lord let this happen! He knows how much I love the leadership of Ephesus!" Paul could have bemoaned, "Now I'll never see the Ephesian believers again. The devil has attacked me, and the door to Ephesus is permanently closed for me!"

But Paul understood that crying and lamenting don't change a thing. So instead, he went down the road to the seaside town of Miletus and secured a facility for a meeting. Then he called for the elders of Ephesus to meet him there! Paul figured if he couldn't go to Ephesus, why not invite the leadership to come see him? Why resign himself to defeat just because he had hit an impasse in the road? Paul knew that there is more than one way to accomplish a goal. So he put his brain to work and found a way to do what God wanted him to do.

Why should we stop just because the devil gets in the way? If that were the case, we might as well stop everything we're doing for the Lord right now! There will never be a time that the devil just lets us do what is in our hearts. We must be determined to keep doing what we're called to do even if the devil tries to slam the door shut in our faces.

So what if Satan shut the door to Ephesus? That was a good time for Paul to look for a open window! If he couldn't go to the elders, why not call them to him? Paul discovered an open window in Miletus. He called for the leaders, met with them, and finished his assignment, exactly as God had ordered him to do. Mission accomplished!

You see, Paul had an attitude that would not give up. It didn't matter how much opposition was leveled against him, he had already decided he would outlive the opposition. Somehow he'd find a way to do what God had called him to do.

You can do anything God calls you to do too! Determine in your heart that you will not allow Satan to do anything to stop you, thwart you, or dissuade you from staying on track with the assignment God has given you. God's will for your life is where mighty and powerful things are going to happen! That is why the devil is putting up such a fuss to try to keep you from getting there. He's afraid of what will happen if you actually do what God has put in your heart to do.
So dig in your heels, and determine that you are not giving in or giving up. Refuse to back up or relent, and keep on pressing ahead. The devil may have put an impasse in the road before you, but that doesn't mean the show is over! If you'll listen to the Holy Spirit, He'll show you another route to get you where you need to be.

The Holy Spirit needs a partner who is committed. So just commit yourself to pressing ahead, regardless of the opposition. As you do, the Spirit of God will empower you to conquer every attack that comes against you. Then He will masterfully show you another and more effective way to fulfill your divine assignment. In the end, the devil will be sorry he messed with you!Sparkling Gems from the Greek.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Prayer Request

To all of my pastors, preachers, family and friends within the blogging community and those who view this page from time to time, I have two prayer requests that I would like you to add to your list. I would like you to pray for my Minister of Music, Brother Jovan Lewis and his entire family for the loss of his 11 year old daughter Mercedes Nichole Lewis.

The media descended on this family and our church as Mercedes' death was later ruled to have been caused by the H1N1 virus. I realize and respect the media has a job to do but walking so close with the family and continuing to listen to the word "Disrespectful" being said by them made me feel their pain all the more.

Praise God this family has a strong relationship with God! Please pray for the Clay Intermediate School and the 6th grade class who were devastated by the loss of their friend. The school allowed the students to line the street as the funeral procession passed by the school. To watch over 300 kids crying, holding signs, wearing shirts and praying in the memory of their friend is a memory, I soon won't forget and caused me to cry uncontrollably seeing their pain. I am grateful I was riding with the funeral director and not in the family car as I didn't want to add to their pain.

Also, please pray for me. I am beyond tired! The emotions of the day and the events of the week have caught up with me. I have more experience as an assistant pastor than I do as a pastor. Assistants are attack dogs designed to guard, watch, protect and if needed fight for its owner. In that role, I was good. It does not mean I didn't make mistakes because I did nor does it mean that I was an asset to my church, because I wasn't. Mt Olive didn't need me, I needed them but in that role, I did my job.

I lapsed back into attack mode when I watched the media descend on the funeral asking people before and after, "How do you feel"? I wanted to protect, I set out to defend. I am sure I am wrong and I will probably realize I could have handled it better but funerals are not and should not be an exploitation of someones grief for the sake of circulation or ratings. It is a time of grief and prayerfully a time of evangelism for someone who needs understanding and direction.

I haven't been able to stop hugging my own children. I couldn't imagine losing my girls. They mean the world to me. I haven't been sleeping much lately. Every cough wakes me up now, I stand over the beds longer now, always touching and feeling for fever, I have to remember that God is still in control but it is hard for me right now.

While not a theologian, I concur with the words of President Abraham Lincoln, "I have been driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have no other place to go"

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Shield of Faith

A SAFARI HUNTER was once stopped in his tracks by a curious scene in the jungle. A bird was dancing around her nest of eggs as a huge snake made its way toward them up the trunk of the tree. The bird screeched and flailed in vain as the hungry snake drew closer by the second. Her eggs were in mortal danger. Suddenly the bird flew away, as if running from the snake. But within a few seconds she returned with a small leaf in her mouth. She reached the nest just as the snake was about to strike. Quickly the mother bird draped the leaf over her eggs and then flew away to a nearby branch. The hunter was shocked to see the snake hesitate. It froze as if it had encountered a deadly foe. Slowly it recoiled from the nest and went away.

The hunter was puzzled by this curious scene and later asked some natives about it. They laughed and explained that the leaf the mother bird used to cover her eggs was poisonous to the deadly snake. The serpent knew instinctively to back away. The shield was small and flimsy, but it was the one thing that the snake most feared.

"In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan," writes Paul (Ephesians 6:16). It's naive to believe that the enemy is a dormant foe who minds his own business. He is a cunning and crafty adversary who will do anything to catch us off guard and bring us down. His arrows are sharp and sure, and his aim is deadly. He attacks when we least expect it and will try to devour the thing that we most cherish—our relationship with God.

Faith is the shield that keeps his arrows at bay. It is the guard that we hold before us to protect us from the fire of his wrath. Without it, we have no hope of survival.

And what is this life-saving faith made of? It consists of a deep belief in God's promises and a trust in his words of truth. We believe that God's purposes are higher than our frailties. We trust that even in the midst of battle, his will is being fulfilled. We have faith that someday the war will end, and we will be brought home to eternal glory.

Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Trust God Sunday

I pray that everyone had a wonderful time in the Lord on yesterday as God certainly blessed the Macedonia church family on our first "Trust God Sunday". I learned this concept from my pastor, Dr. A. Glenn Woodberry at Greater Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

It was an initiative to try and get the church to commit to 100% tithing, not through gimmicks or tricks but a strong emphasis on what the Word of God says.
10I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test(CEV)
Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, (NIV)
Try it! Put me to the test! (NLT)
Test Me in this way, (HCSB)

We asked every member who was not a tither to "put God to the test" on the first Sunday in October and commit to tithing. If God doesn't keep his Word, you lose nothing but if He does what He says He will do, you gain everything.

We also asked everyone who is already a tither to commit in addition to their tithe on the first Sunday in October to bring a sacrificial gift to the Lord. The amount of the gift was to be between them and the Lord, for my retired saints, $5.00 over is a sacrifice so we asked God to lead them in this amount.

The Lord led me to preach on Matthew 14:22-33, "The Boat or the Water". The Lord was gracious and I want to thank our Fine Arts Ministry for their skit before I preached which helped set the atmosphere for the text. I also want to thank the production committee who built me a lake and provided me a boat which I preached from Sunday.

I was worried about preaching from the boat as first its not traditional and maybe I was doing too much. I became further worried when I saw too many cameras, cell phones and other devices flashing and filming as I said Uh oh, they gonna take your baptist card for this. However, in the short 19 months that I have been here as "pastor", I have never felt more free during the preaching moment than I did on Sunday.

In regards to the results, it was overwhelming. The testimonies began to flow almost immediately after church. I wasn't concerned about an amount or total as I am trying through the Word of God to create a lifestyle of giving not just a one day shot in the arm for the treasury. However on Sunday, God tripled our normal offering.

I praise God for all the members of Macedonia who decided to take God up on his offer and "Put him to the test" and God will keep His word. I look forward to even more testimonies to come. Thank you Macedonia for letting me be your Pastor and enduring my crazy attempts to make the Bible real in your lives. Don't give up on me!

Malachi 3:10-12 (English Standard Version)
A) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby(B) put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open(C) the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11I will rebuke(D) the devourer[a] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. 12Then(E) all nations will call you blessed, for you will be(F) a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Master Potter

This morning's devotion blessed my heart so I am sharing it with you. God Bless!!!

When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn't he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? Romans 9:21 KJV

A man once wrote about watching a potter mold a lump of clay. The potter took a lump of clay and rolled it into a tight ball, then placed it onto his old wooden wheel. He sat down in front of it on a wobbly little stool and started the wheel spinning. His hands gently caressed the clay, molding it gently between his fingers. Before long an exquisite goblet began rising from the middle of the wheel. The observer writes:

Suddenly the stone stopped, and the potter removed a piece of grit. His seasoned fingers detected the unpliable aggregate. The stone spun again, allowing him to smooth out the former lodging of the grit. Suddenly the stone stopped again. He removed another hard object from the goblet's side, leaving a mark in the vessel. The particles of grain within the cup resisted his hands. It would not respond to his wishes. Quickly the potter squashed the form back into a pile of clay. Instead of the beautiful goblet, the artisan formed the material into a crude, finger bowl.

Sometimes the creation a potter sets out to create doesn't cooperate as he would like it to, which forces him to settle for something less. The same holds true for you and me. How often have we resisted the Master Potter's hands as he works to make us into a beautiful and useful instrument of his will?

"We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand," says the prophet Isaiah (64:8). God has big plans for each and every one of his creations, but for him to accomplish those plans, he needs our pliability. When we fight his hands on our life, we force him to change his plans for our future. How much better to allow him to work and to become all that we can in the Potter's mighty hands?

Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven Devotional.