Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Birthday LaBraia

Happy Birthday to my angel named LaBraia Simone Owens who was born on New Year's Eve, 12/31/2002 in Deaconess Hospital, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. LaBraia is my miracle baby from God. Insurance reasons caused us to have to induce so we waited for LaBraia's blessed arrival but she wasn't coming.
The doctors and nurses kept waiting for LaBraia to fall into position, to lower, to drop, but it wasn't happening. The doctor calmly but immediately reached for what looked like something from the movie Edward Scissorhands to aid in the delivery.
It was going to be a forceps delivery as we were later to discover the umbilical cord had wrapped around LaBraia's neck and throat three times and she was in fetal distress. Forceps are a tong-like instrument sometimes used by a doctor to deliver a baby. Forceps are designed to cradle the baby's head as the handles are pulled, assisting the baby in being born. Forceps are only used during the second stage of labor. A physician may use forceps to speed up delivery if there is fetal distress or maternal exhaustion. A forceps delivery can help a woman avoid having a cesarean section.
So when I say LaBraia is my miracle baby, it is not out of a sense of favoritism or daddy pride issue but she is a walking miracle. I tell her that story to remind her how God protected her then and how He still is protecting her now.
LaBraia is a wonderful child. She is the mother of the home. She makes sure daddy takes his medicine, fusses about what I eat and don't eat and even instructs the kitchen staff of Macedonia to "fix him a plate so he will eat right but put vegetables on it not the normal stuff daddy likes". She prays for members of our church and helps the ministries of the church.
One Sunday, the spirit was high and people were enjoying the worship service when all of a sudden I noticed LaBraia got up from where she was. Walking and playing are things I frown on in church; however, she was not going to play. She walked over to the annex side of or church where a church member was in the "process of praising the Lord". As if she had been here before, she reached for a fan and started fanning, patting, rubbing and hugging all the while reaching for the glasses, taking them off as so they wouldn't break.
When I asked her later what she was doing, she looked at me as if I had lost my mind but politely said, "Daddy, WE ARE MACEDONIA AND WE ARE CALLED TO HELP SOMEBODY, I WAS HELPING."
I love LaBraia with my whole heart. There are times she thinks I preach to hard, that I don't look right or I am doing too much. In most cases, she is right. It seems like yesterday, 7lbs 7ounces 19 and half inches long, this miracle baby was born. My life has never been the same. I pray God allows me to live long enough to see LaBraia accept Jesus as her personal savior, to follow after him in water baptism; to live a life holy and pleasing unto God.
I realize in order for her to live that life, she must see it being lived and modeled before her which is why I take my job as a parent serious. God give me the ability to raise my children in a way that you will be pleased and get the glory.
Happy Birthday Baby,

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Melody in the Misery

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most inspirational verses in the Bible and yet it is a good verse in a bad chapter in a bad book. When Jeremiah penned these words, it was the worst of times. The balance of world power was shifting between nations and Jeremiah's people were caught in the crossfire. The Israelites were living in a hopeless situation because they were under divine discipline. Why? According to Jeremiah 25:8-9, "Because you have not listened to my words". However, in the middle of this misery and mess, God plants a melody in Jeremiah to give to His people.

We are trained to believe that we can't sing unless everything is right, unless all conditions are conducive to worship, notes have to be right, mics have to be right, temperature can't be too hot or too cold, needs to be the right song but sometimes God gives us encouragement not when our situation is over but rather as we are going through. Ironically, one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is penned while the listeners are going through their worst experience.

What was this melody you might ask? It was the sound of Hope. Although it seems hopeless and you fear you can't go on, God has planted a melody inside of you and that melody is the sound of Hope. It was said better than I can express it when it was said "Hope is hearing the melody of the future and Faith is learning how to dance to the melody right now". This melody of Hope teaches us how to look out of the windshield of our lives and not the rear view mirror.

This melody teaches us that the past does not define us nor does our present destroy us but God gives us a future to deliver us. How long does it take to get to you future? The overall end for the children of Israel was 70 years but the future is always the next moment. Your past is the last minute, the present is the minute you occupy now, the future is always the next moment, and in that future God has hope waiting on you and that melody keeps us going.

As I tried to share this with Macedonia Sunday, I feel as I failed to connect the central truths of this passage as I got excited and undisciplined as a preacher; however, the Melody in the Misery should teach us several things:

I. Ushered by God's Directive--"For I know"
II. Under God's Development---"The Plans I have for you", God's plan, purpose, promise
III. Unfold your Destiny-----"A Future and a Hope"

I am really looking forward to preaching this one again, as soon as Sunday service was over, I was sitting in the office trying to figure out where I could go preach. God said to me, "Go live it"! Build houses, you are going to be here a while, live in your future, plant gardens, you are going to be here for a while; take wives,(Low Blow God) you are going to be here a while, seek the welfare of the city, you are going to be here for a while.

Cinderella had a wicked stepmother and stepsisters who harassed, insulted and discouraged her. She hated being there until one day she had the chance to go the ball and meet the prince. When she was forced to return to the housework, something was different. The stepmother was still evil, the step sisters were still abusive but Cinderella was different because now she had a song on her lips.

I am not Cinderella and I have not went to the ball nor met the prince but I have met the King and the king gave me a melody in my misery; a song in my heart................................

Sunday, December 20, 2009

If I Could Be One of Them

A man stayed home as his family went off to church one Christmas Eve. He just could not swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as man. Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier, then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper.

Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another and another. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. Well, when he went to the front door, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large landscape window. Well, he could not let the poor creatures lie there and freeze. He remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter -- if he could direct the birds to it.

He quickly put on his coat and galoshes, trampled through the deepening snow to the barn, opened the door wide, and turned on a light. But the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in and he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow making a trail to the yellow lighted wide open doorway of the stable, but to his dismay the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them, he tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms -- instead they scattered in every direction except into the warm lighted barn. Then he realized they were afraid of him.

To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature, if only I could think of some way to let them know they can trust me. That I’m not trying to hurt them, but to help them. How? Any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. If I could only be a bird myself, he thought. If only I could be a bird and mingle with them and speak their language and tell them not to be afraid and show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I’d have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand.

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sound of the wind. He stood there listening to the bells. Listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow. The Son of God became man to enable men to become the sons of God. --C.S. Lewis

Monday, December 14, 2009

Greater Bethel Pastor Aid Day

I took a break from my journey through Philemon this week as I was blessed to share with our brother and fellow blogger, Pastor Teron Gaddis and the Greater Bethel Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Besides my pastor, no other pastor has seen so many evolutions of my preaching development than Pastor Gaddis.

For almost 10 years, I have been blessed to preach Rev Gaddis' Pastor Aid Day. It was by accident the first time I covered it as an associate minister when my pastor's plane was delayed in California. Pastor Gaddis graciously allowed me to come and has extended that same grace to me for almost a decade.

Bethel loves preaching mainly because Pastor Gaddis is a great preacher himself. I was very anxious before the preaching moment but as usual God settled us in for the assignment. It was good to preach in front of my mother and my aunts. God knows mom has seen the worst from her son so I am grateful God has allowed her to live long enough to see a slight improvement.

I was also moved beyond belief to see a great number of Greater Mt. Olive members who came over to share with us. To top it off, members from Forrest Hill Missionary Baptist Church and New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church from Forth Worth, Texas drove up to be with us Sunday. We had a great time lifting up the name of Jesus.

As usual, Bethel put on the "big pot and the little pot too" in their hospitality to me. I can't wait until God orders the time to allow Macedonia to meet Pastor Gaddis. I attempted to preach an encouraging sermon out of Jude 1:24-25. In spite of the preacher, God blessed!

Continue to pray for Pastor Gaddis and the Greatel Bethel family that God would give him the strength he needs to run on for the Lord.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Put That On My Account

We unwrapped the second gift God left for us this advent season in the present of Reconciliation. It was exciting to see everyone at church with their Bibles already opened to Philemon and I could tell the members had read the 25 verses and were ready to receive the Word.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and all of the kings horses and all of the kings men could not put Humpty back together again. Why? Because he was broke. Sometimes when things break in our lives, we are lucky because it breaks "cleanly" and is easily repairable. Other times breaks are messy and pieces shatter everywhere and fixing it is an impossibility because of the shape it has been left in.

The situation with Philemon and Onesimus seems like an unfixable problem. This was not a small offense or a petty little annoyance because God has given us the way to handle those situations. Solomon says "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers a multitude of sins". Not every thing that rubs you wrong or disturbs your spirit needs to be brought up. Some things need to be allowed to die as we learn in love to forgive and move along.

However in this text today, this is a situation that is an unresolved problem that cannot be covered or forgotten. It is a loose end that if left unattended will sap the strength out of a relationship. Problems that go unresolved in church hinder the church's effectiveness. They tear families apart and cause even bigger problems . Whatever problems exist between Christians, God has provided a method by which the situation can be solved or fixed.

Some things we can't fix but HE can; marriages can't be saved in our own power; church fights can't be solved in our power, when we try to let the king's horses and men fix it, they can't; however when we take it to the King, God can fix it. This advent season God uses 25 verses in Philemon to remind us that nothing is to hard for him to fix. God can put it back together again.

To restore to friendship; To restore to harmony, To destroy enmity between, to make friends again, to bring together, God has given us the gift of reconciliation. This gift will never be in the wrong size or the wrong color. You will always need this gift because we are notorious for breaking things. We need someone who can fix it.

I Timothy 2:5 says, " For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,". Isaiah 59: 15-16, "The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him".

God blessed us on Sunday, the simple outline we used for the sermon "Put that on My Account" was:

I. Advocate For Your Case (10-16)
1. Fair to Both Sides
2. Fight for a Better Solution

II. Advance You Credit (17)
1. Receive Him
2. Restore Him
3. Reward Him

III. Accept Your Costs (18-19)
1. Satisfy Your Responsibilities
2. Settle up Your Receipts

This story is a great Word Picture especially during this Advent Season of:

IV. Atonement through Christ.

God sent us an advocate to fight for our case. The advocate advanced us credit we didn't earn. While living on the credit, the advocate paid our costs. In case, someone does not know who the advocate is, his name is Jesus Christ.