Sunday, May 23, 2010

Graduate Sunday at Macedonia

It was Graduate Sunday at Macedonia and I would like to say how proud I am of all of our graduates and I would like to give credit to our College and Career Ministry as well as our Christian Education Department for all of their hard work. We were blessed this year with five High school graduates, 2 College Graduates, one Pre-K graduate, and 12 Sunday School graduates who are moving on to the next level of learning.
Chad James Williams is the son of Melvin and Cherelyn Williams. He is graduating from Washington High School and has been accepted at Southwestern Michigan College where he aspires to pursue a career in radio broadcasting.
Mark Edmund Dixon II is the son of Angelia Forrest and Mark Dixon Sr. He is graduating from Washington High School and also has been accepted to Southwestern Michigan College where he will pursue a degree in Physical Therapy.
Joshua George Cobbin is graduating from St. Joseph's High School with a 3.5 GPA. He has participated with church groups and civic organizations cleaning and painting churches as well as working in nursing homes and senior centers. Joshua will be attending Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
Caleb Henry Cobbin is graduating from St. Joseph's High School where he maintained over a 4.00 GPA over his four years. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Society for High School Scholars. He loves drama and has participated in plays such as: The Music Man, Annie, Peter Pan, Everything Goes, and this summer has a leading role in Fame.
Caleb is a recipient of the 2010 Lily Endowment Community Scholarship and has received a FULL RIDE to attend The University of Notre Dame.
Danielle Gentry-Hampton is graduating from John Adams High School. She is active in VOICE, Indiana's youth led anti-tobacco movement, PSI, (Postponing Sexual Involvement) JA Gospel Choir, Concert Choir and recently began a internship at MIX-106FM.
Danielle uses her gifts for the glory of God and the betterment of her church by coordinating performances and rehearsals for Macedonia's praise dancers and mime teams as well as helps out with the visual and graphic arts ministry of our church. She will be attending Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne studying Mass Communications.
We celebrate our college graduates, Preston Alexander, who graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Psychology, and Kecia M. Blakely who graduated from The University of Phoenix with a master of Science in Psychology.
The Seeds through the Word of God, planted through the efforts of Pastors F.D. Johnson and Anthony R. Pettus burst forth on this Sunday and we praise God for allowing us the chance to covenant with these young people as they embark on the next phase of their lives.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's Time To Get To Work

As I prepare to finish off verse 10, and 19-20 of the second chapter of Nehemiah, let me say I am enjoying the journey and didn't realize how much I would be learning. I am still shouting off of Nehemiah 2:8, "my paraphrase" as you build the Lord's house, God will allow you to build your house" The same wood, the same timber for the king's forest that is used for the gates of the fortress and the city walls will be what's used to build Nehemiah's house that he shall live in. Take care of God's house and He will take care of your house.

Our challenge for Macedonia was It's Time to Get to Work. Nehemiah as God gave direction in chapter 2:11-18 showed us how this is done. Nehemiah had an Investigation, which led to Conceptualization, which caused Implementation and this was achieved by Organization. Some things you have to see for yourself. Be careful of taking someone Else's report on something because you may not know what their motive or agenda is.

I am not accusing the reporters in 1:1-3 of lying but Nehemiah couldn't take their word alone about the wall, he needed to look for himself. He did not act until he investigated. Sometimes we move because someone has given us a report about something that is wrong and we haven't prayed or searched for ourselves what the issue is. Nehemiah did Several things, he first:

Accepted the Challenge:
He left his seat of comfort to go and seek the welfare of his people. He looked, inspected and reviewed the walls. The walls were in ruin, rubble and they were a reproach. Some walls could be repaired, some could be restored and some needed to be replaced. Investigation helps bear out what needs are for what walls. As we walk around and inspect, some marriages don't need to be thrown away, they can be repaired, some children don't need to be given up on, they can be restored, some habits and practices don't need to be continued, they should be replaced but only after careful inspection of the walls.

Assured the Confidentiality: Chapter 2:12 suggests that as investigation turned into conceptualization, Nehemiah told no one. Everyone that is around you is not always for you and everyone will not understand where God is leading you. God does not share his vision with the team but rather he shares it with the leader who during the Implementation process shares God's vision with the people but only when God says so. It is not the leader's task to leave the people in the dark; however, until a clear picture can be ascertained, the leader does not need every voice in his ear or sub-quasi- leaders truing to usurp God's vision with their own man-made vision.

Assembled the Congregation: 2:16-17 suggest that Nehemiah assembled the Jews, the Priests, the nobles, the officials and the others who did the work. By doing this, the beginning of the Organization process takes place. The leader can not do all the work by himself but rather the leader imparts the vision to the people so that they may see it and take ownership of it and work. No matter how great a leader may be, the leader can not do it all by himself. It is the vision as placed in the leader by God that becomes the vehicle to move men into their God-given vocation.

Agreed to the Construction: 2:18 "So they said, Let us rise up and build. Then they set their hands to this good work". The job of the church is not to impact the church, but to impact the world. It’s like a huddle in a football game. 67,000 people don’t pay $25.00 a ticket to watch the huddle. What if you went to a game and for 2 ½ hours you watched 11 men stand in a circle and talk? That’s not what you paid for!! 67,000 people pay $25 a ticket to see what difference the huddle makes. What they want to know is, having called the play in secret, does it work in public? The challenge for the church is not what we do when we call our Sunday morning huddle at church but what we do after we break from our huddle after the benediction.

The Time has come for the church to get to work and rebuild, replace, restore and repair the walls.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day #26 of 100 Day Campaign Update

I have been engaged in a 100 Day Campaign here at Macedonia to meet individually with every member of the church, whether they are a helper or a hater, critic or supporter, faithful or wayward, I want to try and cultivate a personal relationship with each member. I have been encouraged so far by the lessons learned and the conversations that have created a more intense desire within me to stay within the will of God.

Although I have only met with 62 people so far, the quality of the conversations has far outweighed a numerical total. When I initiated this concept in 2008, many members did not meet with me as they thought this was a gimmick and trick that new pastors do in an attempt to seem friendly. Because of the history of the last pastor, many didn't think I would stay in South Bend this long, so they waited until I had been through a winter or two.

I am glad to report two winters later, many members who wouldn't meet with me last time came in to see me. I am still amazed by how many church members have never had a one on one meeting with their Pastors unless it is a tragedy or trouble.

I ask many questions so that I may ascertain the view of the church from a member's point of origin. I also ask questions as it relates to me as a Pastor/Preacher etc. Admittedly, loaded questions that can open a can of worms but more times than not, it has been revealing; either of the member's issues or of mine.

Mother Duckworth, a sweet woman with an honest and straight forward tongue gave me a life-changing comment I wanted to share. Mother said to me, "Pastor you are doing a great job, keep it up; however, you need to be more Pastoral and not Presidential." I was at a loss.

She continued to say, "Pastor, we watch you! When you walk into a room, you will shake every hand, wink, point, hug, or make contact with everyone and then five minutes later, YOU ARE GONE, moving to the next appointment, headed to a meeting in your office, running, running and more running. You are Presidential, always moving. Pastor you need to SIT DOWN"!

Mother Duckworth gave me this advice, "It seems you are still trying to prove to everyone you are the Pastor, or you are trying to prove you are worthy, instead of realizing God has called you here and its time just to walk in that calling," so she looked at me and said "SIT DOWN, if you would walk into the room and SIT DOWN, you wouldn't have to shake every one's hand, everyone will come to you and shake your hand.

By SITTING DOWN, you will SLOW DOWN before God has to PUT YOU DOWN. Mother smiled and said I love you. I look forward to learning more during this 100 Day Campaign. Thank God for Mother Duckworth!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Mama

“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” 2 Timothy 1:5

We know very little about Lois and Eunice, but our imaginations can picture them praying with young Timothy, teaching him the simple stories of Jesus and the life-changing truths of God’s Word, and introducing him to the early leaders of the church. Fortunately for me, I don't need to imagine much because I have been blessed with the experience of having a Godly mother.

Sister Angeline Owens introduced me to Jesus and kept Jesus in front of me until I could made a rational and intelligent decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and follow after Him in water baptism. She did this through a variety of ways. Since I was an active child (code language for bad, mannish, taken out every Sunday to have a come to Jesus meeting), she made me do "constructive things".

One of those things was learning God's Word. My mother purchased those Blue Book Encyclopedia things, they were story books with different Bible stories in them. There were either 10 or 12 volumes, not sure but I know I had to memorize them. Mother would say, read Naaman, read Moses, read Daniel, read the 3 Hebrew Boys and when its time you better be able to recite the entire story.

I thought my mom was crazy and mean. No other children had to memorize 12 page chapters of Bible lessons. I had to recite them at BTU (that's Baptist Training Union when we as Baptists used to believe in training our people), no other mothers were making their children recite or memorize. I had to do speeches but I couldn't get the simple speech where everyone claps and says how cute, how adorable, I had to memorize the entire 55th chapter of Isaiah or all of Luke 2. It just wasn't right!

Thank God for his providential nature that he is putting the pieces together when we don't even realize what he is doing. My mother was giving me an appetite for the Word of God. She developed in me a love for "Character Studies" and presenting sermons from a contextual basis, beginning to end. She took the time to develop my memory, to learn Bible verses, strive for excellence in Christ, to give God the best that you have.

Long before Oklahoma Baptist University, or Southwestern or Southern Seminaries, it was the school of "old school baptist taught at 1705 NE 24th Street by Professor Angeline Owens that made me the Pastor I am today. I have done so many things to be a major disappointment to my mother and it would not be wrong if she had walked away from me years ago but she never did. She kept praying, kept believing, kept hoping, kept trusting and because of her through God, I AM STILL STANDING.

I love you mother, and by the way, MACEDONIA LOVES YOU TOO AND WANTS YOU UP HERE.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday Recap at Macedonia

Run, Run and Run some more but such is the life of a Pastor. The city of South Bend just had a successful City-Wide revival sponsored by The Inter-Denominational Ministerial Alliance where the Rev. Dr. Elliot Cuff, Pastor of the Lincoln Heights MBC of Woodlawn, Ohio and the Dean of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education for the National Baptist Convention, USA Inc. was our guest evangelist. Congratulations to Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon and all of our sister churches for a job well-done pulling our city together to lift up the name of Jesus.

Sunday, I feel like I died a horrible death. We continued our series in Nehemiah and I feel like I over studied, brought too much wood or something. I felt like I was going 75 and the church was going 35 and I had to pump the breaks violently to adjust to the flow of traffic Sunday. We opened this series of Nehemiah last Sunday with the sermon, "Does Anybody Care" Nehemiah 1:1-4 When Nehemiah heard the condition of his people, he: Sat Down, Wept, Fasted and Prayed.

We suggested that Nehemiah cared! We live in a day and age where people can hear bad news about people they are connected to and yet can keep on moving, unaffected, unmoved and unfazed. Other can be moved, but not moved to care, but rather be moved to Comment or Criticize. They can always tell you what's wrong, who is to blame and why it happened but never care enough to weep, pray, fast and sit down.

We live in a day and age where our walls are crumbling. Our children, our churches and our communities show the effects of crumbled walls and no one seems to care. We walk past the effects of disobedience everyday and no one cries, no one fasts, no one prays but so many people comment, no care, no love, but constant criticism.

Nehemiah cared, he cared enough to start praying, not a one day, one time prayer but rather a four month prayer. In his prayer he:
Acknowledged their past Vs:6-7
Accepted their Punishment Vs: Vs:8
Asked God for Pardon Vs: 9-10

We picked up Sunday at vs 11 and continued into Nehemiah Chapter 2: 1-8 and talked about What do you do When Life Falls Apart. The answer is PRAY. A car traveling on a highway needs to have proper and balanced inflation in all four tires to travel safely. No one would venture to drive any distance with the left front tire inflated at 32 PSI, the right front at 28 PSI, the left rear at 36PSI, and the right rear at 10 PSI. That would be dangerous and unthinkable.

Sometimes in life, our tires get a little low; we hit potholes, go over speed bumps, rub up against curves, run over nails that deflate and diminish our capacity to keep running and helps make things fall apart but when we pray God does some things for us:
God is Attentive to our Pleas 1:11
God will Allocate His Provisions 2:1-7-8a
God will Answer Prayer 2:8b

Later, this week I will blog (God Willing) the clause in the verse I had never seen before that had me so excited although no one seemed to like it but me.