Saturday, February 20, 2010

"In Memory of Her"

Please pray for me as I will be praying for you as this has been a hard week physically, emotionally and spiritually for me. On Tuesday, we had the funeral services for Sister Rose Ann Bond who had just recently come back to Macedonia and was excited about her return. She is the niece of one of our mothers in the church Mother Fannie Martin, who takes care of me when she should be taking care of herself. She is a jewel and gem of this church and the Macedonia Church Family will be praying with her and Sis. Amanda in this time of loss.
On Saturday, we had the funeral services for one of Macedonia's dear mothers, Mother Carrie Belle Jenkins. This was a hard funeral as Mother had become close to me and my children. She would cook all of the meals on Monday nights for our youth department. She also was the facilitator for our Wednesday Noonday Bible Study ensuring that our seniors would be ministered to. She gave her tenor voice to the choir singing with everything she had to the glory of God.
I am soliciting your prayers for the 4 daughters, one son, 39 grand children, 67 great-grand children and 6 great-great grandchildren as well as the entire Macedonia Church family.
Churches in their haste to become the next big and great thing forget about the elderly or the seniors who helped pave the way for the church. We chase this demographic or this age group but we must love the WHOLE CHURCH. We shared from Matthew 26:6-13 and used as our text the last four words in verse 13, "In Memory of Her".
This woman did what Mother Jenkins did. She Gave God:
I. The Best She Had vs 7a
II.All She Had vs. vs 7b
Please pray for both of these families as well as myself as the schedule does not get lighter but God keeps granting favor and strength for the journey.
Let me also thank Pastor Anthony Pettus, who pastors the Progressive Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana and who is the former Pastor of Macedonia for helping us share in this service. I tried to defer to him but he blesses me as he always does by simply reminding me, Owens, you are the Pastor of Macedonia, I am here to help. His Power, prayers and presence made it easier because my hurt was shared! May God continue to bless him, his family and his church.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Speaking the Tongue of Another Language

As a deaf child, former NFL star Kenny Walker felt like an outsider. As Kenny matured, however, he compensated for his deafness with great physical prowess. His larger-than-normal frame, extensive knowledge of football, and intense focus attracted the attention of his high school football coaches and, later on, many powerhouse college coaches. When Kenny’s high school coach asked him where he wanted to play college football, he signed "N" for Nebraska, a team he had always dreamed of playing for.

Nebraska’s coaches immediately signed him and made arrangements to have an interpreter present at every practice and game.Kenny was so successful at Nebraska that he made All-American and was named Big Eight Conference "Defensive Player of the Year." But the crowning moment of his college football career came during his final home game. Traditionally, senior players were introduced alphabetically and ran onto the field, welcomed by a cheering crowd. But because Kenny was deaf, the university and local community plotted a unique way to praise Kenny.

In a special article, the Omaha World Herald showed the fans how they could sign an ovation: they could stand, hold their hands above their heads, fingers spread, and then wave both hands from side to side.When Kenny stood in the stadium tunnel, he felt the vibration of the cheering crowd as each senior ran out on the field. But when he ran out on the field, he felt no vibrations. Puzzled, he stopped and looked around the stadium to see over 75,000 fans standing for him, waving their hands in a way that only a deaf person would recognize as an applause.He couldn't hear the audience's language so they spoke his.

This story reminded me of what I think the purpose of the tongues as introduced in Acts 2 is all about. The purpose of Acts is revealed in Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." But how do you get everyone to hear the same message when we all don't speak the same language.

The Holy Spirit empowered those who were waiting for the promise to speak in tongues that in Acts 2 were actual languages, because the Scripture says "each heard in their own native language, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia. Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya, Cretans and Arabs".

Everyone does not speak the same "Life Language". Some speak "hood", some speak depression, some speak defeat, some speak dysfunctional, some speak addiction, some speak co-dependency, but we as a church must speak to them all. How do we reach them? We must ask God since they don't speak our language, we must learn by the power of the Holy Spirit, how to speak theirs!

It takes the Holy Spirit to do this otherwise we just mimic and condescend trying to talk some one's life language we don't really know, like a white or black person trying to sound like the other culture, it comes off counterfeit and offends rather than draws.

Lord, change my language. Give me the power by the aid of your Holy Spirit to speak the language of the people I am speaking to. If my Greek, Hebrew and Latin is not understood, improve my English. If they don't understand, adoption, regeneration, atonement, sanctification, help me to find an entry point to begin a discussion where I can teach them the truths of your salvation, even if I have to start at a lost and found story.

Speak for me Lord, so they will hear YOU in their own language. That is the greatest tongue I could ever speak. Let me speak that for you.

I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

What the Master Can Do with the Mud!

Charles E. Jefferson in his treatment specifically on the potter's house and generally on Jeremiah: 18 and 19 said, "Jeremiah did not get his flash of insight while he was praying or fasting but rather through watching. He was not watching a religious activity, a miracle or something extraordinary but rather through watching a potter perform a task that the potter does hundreds of times a day. God revealed his message through the majesty of watching what the master did with the mud!

We began our series on "The Me I want to Be" preaching out of Jeremiah 18:1-6. The Potter's House is one of the most well known "field trips" in the Bible. I remember an encounter traveling through Arkansas when I had the occasion to visit a Pottery factory known as Dryden Potteries. It was a magnificent campus full of a showroom with exquisite and expensive mugs, planters and serving dishes. Further you see the work being done; nothing into something, and finally they show you the back of the property. MUD. A big pile of mud. Nothing impressive, nothing noteworthy, nothing expensive, just mud. However, everything that was in the expensive showroom came from the mud.

This is the message God gave Jeremiah. Go to the potter's House and watch. Watch the potter work a work on the wheel and realize the same thing the potter does with the clay, I can do with the house of Israel. I can turn you into the me I want you to be. In order for God to begin the work in us, many us need to realize, at best we are nothing but mud. I realize that the text talks about clay but after looking, inspecting and watching, clay is a nice way of saying mud.

We do all we can to sugarcoat our shortcomings but if we just tell the truth, we are nothing but mud but the good news is God uses Mud. I still drink, can God use me? Yes, that's nothing but mud, ask Noah! I still have a temper and curse, can God use me? Yes, that's nothing but mud, go talk to Moses and Peter. I have a woman issue, like them way too much, can God use me? Yes. just mud, talk to David and Solomon. The reality is we all are mud but God uses mud. He works on us, removing the imperfection, breaking down the clay/mud until it becomes what the master wants.

The wheel that spins around and around would make you go crazy except for two reasons. One as long as the clay is in the center of the wheel, no matter how fast it spins it will not spin off because it is perfectly placed. The clay can't be on the edge of the wheel because the slightest turn would throw it off. Life's circumstances would throw us for a loop, losing a job, no income, too much out go, it would throw us but when you are in the center of God's will, what kills other people will just help you to live.

Secondly, as long as the potter's hands are on the clay while the wheel is spinning, nothing can harm you, which is why you can't let every one's hands on you. To become the me that God wants you to be, there can only be one project manager. Some of us have too many hands on us. We have become our spouse's vessel instead of God's; we have been shaped into the deacon's pastor instead of what God wanted for us. We are living parent's dreams instead of fulfilling the vision God gave for us. There can only be one designer. Watch who puts their hands on you.

Two things got my attention when I looked at this text, what the potter did not do and what he did do. When it was revealed the vessel that was being made had a defect, it was marred or spoiled the potter did not do what the world does. We Discard, Dispose and Destroy. We throw it away. Car has a defect, get another one, wife has a blemish, get a younger one, church has a defect, find a new one, pastor has a flaw, run him down and get another.

We throw it away but God does not. The moment he sees the imperfection he reworks the vessel as it pleases him to do so. God does not throw us away and I am so grateful he didn't throw me away. This is what the potter did not do but what he did was after he decided not to Dispose, Discard or Destroy, the potter chose to Develop, Design and Display.

I used to be in the mud patch in the back of the store. I was an eyesore and an embarrassment but the master started working on me. When I was too dry to be used, he gave me moisture, when I was too wet to be shaped, he allowed the Sun to dry me, not dry me out but he made me usable. The master moved me from the mud patch to the wheel and worked on me. Shaping! Developing! Designing! I am God's Creation. I am a Masterpiece.

Thank God, The master works with the mud and he is still working on me and one day I will be in the showroom with God's other creations.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Me I Want To Be

I WANT TO BE BETTER. I am striving everyday to become a better person, a better preacher, a better pastor, a better parent.. I want to be a better me. Our preaching theme for January concentrated on "Giving Back to God" with the main scriptural reference being Psalms 116:12. Our theme for the month of February is"The Me I want to Be" with the scriptural reference being Jeremiah 18:1-6. I am praying that God will allow me to preach out of Jeremiah as well as Ephesians 2:10, Romans 12:2, II Corinthians 5:17 as well as Colossians 3.

My reading goal for February is to read through John Ortberg's book, "The Me I Want To Be; Becoming God's Best Version of You" and Jenna Lucado's Book, "Redefining Beautiful": What God Sees when God sees you. I had the blessed opportunity to LIVE the sermon I intended to preach Sunday as a fellow pastor in South Bend under instructions from God, left the church where he had served faithfully to start another church.

Because I am trying to be an Acts 5 preacher, I felt he had enough people who would judge him for what he was doing. I decided to be a better me. Preachers can be so judgmental of other preachers instead of trying to lift each other up. I knew many would call to be nosy but I decided to call and say, preachers need to preach so since you have two weeks before you walk into your new situation, COME OVER TO MACEDONIA AND HELP US. We pray for Pastor Matt Adams and his family as they embark on their new assignment. He did a wonderful job Sunday and we were blessed.

When I was in college, I did my first church internship at the Northeast Missionary Baptist Church in OKC. During this time the church did not have a pastor but an interim pastor who although he had won the vote 5 times, their by-laws stated that a candidate had to win with 75% of the vote. The hang-up with this candidate was, although he had a Master of Divinity, he was in residency to become a Doctor. His passion was to be a Pastor and a Doctor.

He would take me on rounds at the Oklahoma Memorial Hospital as it was known then. He taught me charts, codes, and conduct. One phrase I remember that I learned was FTT (Failure To Thrive). Babies who gained no weight or would not grow adequately or older people who would lose weight and not function like they should would often be tagged with these initials on their charts. I had no appreciation for what I was learning but I kept living.

Psychologists speak of the largest mental problem today as FTT, not depression or anxiety but languishing. John Ortberg suggests that Languishing is the condition of someone who may be able to function but has lost a sense of hope, meaning and purpose. It is not the presence of mental illness; it is the absence of mental and emotional vitality. In ancient times it was called ACEDIA and was considered a deadly sin. It was a weariness of one's soul and an inability to delight in life.

Someone understands what that means, dead marriages, dead end jobs, dead churches, dead on the inside to the point where we have giving up on dreams, hopes and inwardly resigned ourselves to an existence of no hope, no joy, no vitality, NO LIFE. Jesus said, "A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life—life in all its fullness".(NCV) So deadness is not what God desires. God wants us to delight in life, not life how the world defines it but life how God gives it to us.

Vitality of life is not found in the accumulation of toys and things but it is found in the consumption of Jesus. Saint Irenaeus wrote, "The glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God."

Keep running,


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Royal Ambassadors for Christ

Did you know that you have a high-ranking, esteemed, celebrated, impressive, and influential job in the Kingdom of God? It's true! You are so important to the Kingdom of God that all of Heaven is standing behind you, just waiting to back you up, defend you, provide for you, help and assist you, and join forces with your actions of faith! In short, Heaven is just waiting to act on your behalf. Why? Because you are an ambassador for Christ to this world!

In Second Corinthians 5:20, Paul wrote, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ...." The word "ambassador" comes from the Greek word presbeuo. It describes an ambassador or one who fulfills the duties of an ambassador. How wonderful that Paul would use this word to describe you and me!
In New Testament times and in today's world, the word "ambassador" has the same meaning. An "ambassador" can be defined as:

An envoy sent to represent a nation to a foreign land.
A diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or king.
A representative temporarily sent to a foreign country to represent the king or country that sent him.
An authorized messenger who has the power to make decisions and to represent the will of the government, nation, or king he represents.
An official representative who is authorized to speak on behalf of his sender.

According to Paul's words in Second Corinthians 5:20, we are heavenly delegates—"ambassadors" who have been sent forth as Heaven's representatives to planet earth! As ambassadors for Christ, we are the voice of Heaven. As His representatives, we are authorized to speak and act on behalf of the Lord. And as Heaven's ambassadors, we are fully backed, fully funded, fully defended, and fully assisted by the authority and resources of Heaven!

Paul's words in Second Corinthians 5:20 therefore mean:
"We are sent forth and temporarily stationed here as the fully authorized representatives of Jesus Christ! As His ambassadors, we are here to be His voice and His will—a true representation of who He really is. As His official representatives sent here to do His business, we are fully backed up by all the power and resources of Heaven...."

Don't ever think that you are unimportant to the plan of God. You are an ambassador! You represent Jesus Christ to your family, to your place of employment, and to your neighborhood. You have been invested with royal powers, including the name of Jesus and the authority of His blood, and you may call upon Heaven to assist you at any given moment! All angelic powers and all the vast resources stored in the treasury of Heaven are available for your use when you are representing Heaven to this world!

So wherever you go today and whatever you do, remember the One you are representing. If you need special help from above in order to represent the Lord in a positive way, remember that as an ambassador of Christ, all of Heaven is standing by to fully support you!

Sparkling Gems From The Greek