Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday Lessons from The National Congress of Christian Education

I am enjoying myself thoroughly in Houston at our National Baptist Congress of Christian Education Convention USA Inc. fellowshipping with fellow Pastors, preachers and parishioners from all over the United States as we try and learn more about the ideas and implementation of increasing Christian education in our local churches.

Admittedly, I must always come to these conventions reminding myself not to be a Pharisee. A Pharisee believes he already knows everything about a topic; is the expert on the subject; smarter than the presenter, etc. We can always learn something from someone else; there might be differences because of regions or resources but we all have the same Redeemer and his name is Jesus Christ. Three ways I remind myself not to be a Pharisee at events like this:

Rule #1 Don't Be To Critical! I must remind myself of the words of St. Augustine, "In things that are essential, Let there be unity, in things that are not essential, Let there be liberty but in ALL THINGS LET THERE BE LOVE. If we are not careful we can develop a pharisee mentality becoming critical over issues that in the larger scheme of Heaven and Hell simply do not matter. Matthew 12:1-2 and Matthew 15:1-2 are great examples of thus, "Why do you break the Sabbath", "Why don't you wash your hands like the elders"?

Many of our churches are developing pharisees not disciples because we are teaching them how to be critical over issues that in the larger spectrum don't matter. Do you watch R-rated movies? Do you believe dancing is OK for Christians to do? Do you believe in women preachers? How does your Pastor administer the Lord's Supper? Does your Pastor Baptize you in the name of Jesus or "Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost" These are all man-made, man-kept rules that do more to divide than they do to unite.

Rule #2 "Don't Be Jealous of Another Person's Gift". If we are not careful, we run the risk of walking the steps of Cain. Cain taught us the dangerous, downward and destructive steps that became the precursor for the movements of the Pharisees later in life. These steps are Jealousy, Hatred and Murder. It is a progression and one step leads to another. It is amazing to me how many jealous pastors attend these conventions not to help a fellow brother proclaim the Word but rather to hopefully watch a "late night death" or criticize the sermon or the minister thereof.

If the Lord has not blessed you with the gift of "closing", don't be jealous of closers by saying"It doesn't take all of that", well maybe not for your gift but you don't know what it took for the other man to get what the Lord gave him. Some preachers have the innate ability to make the profound sound so simple while others can take simple sentences and through structure and vocabulary develop a tapestry of mental images that make the Word live within the lives of the congregant. A jealous preacher will call that minister wordy publicly while privately wishing they can do the same and as they see the crowd gravitating to the speaker, they commit the same sin the Pharisees did, Jealousy, Hatred and Murder. Find your gift, Use your gift, Be Satisfied with your gift and your gift will make room for you.

Rule #3, God has other vessels than just you. The greatest thing I glean from conventions settings like this is all of the people from all over the nation who are on God's Front-Line fighting the same battle I am fighting. Different churches, different cities, different methods, but the same message, JESUS CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED. I am just grateful God choose to use me. Being around so many gifted people, I am tempted to say I am out of my league. God doesn't need my little one gift when He has so many "Five gifted preachers", the complete packages but God still uses me. Sometimes it is great to be humbled to the point to where you realize, "Man you ain't all that"! God has preachers everywhere and somehow that lesson is the most encouraging to me this Tuesday of the convention.

Keep Running,


Thursday, June 17, 2010

God's Word About Worry

Philippians 4:6-7 (New Living Translation)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Worry is one of the most deadly and yet silent sins that exist in mankind. It is as much of a sin as murder, stealing, fornication, adultery... Worrying displays a lack of faith in the reality and the power of God. It suggests that God is dead or if He is alive, He is powerless to help me in this situation.

Over 100 Diseases have been attributed to worry: Increased Blood pressure, strokes, decreased immune systems, agitates cancer cells, heightens depression. Worry is like a rocking chair, it keeps you busy but it doesn't get you anywhere. Worry is the interest paid on trouble before it falls due. Worry pulls tomorrow's clouds over today's sunshine.

However, GOD HAS A WORD! He always has had a word about worry concerning Unusual Encounters and that word has always been FEAR NOT, DO NOT BE AFRAID, but this text suggests God has a word not only for Unusual Encounters but also for Unimaginable Experiences. Bills with no money, a marriage with no love, illness with no cure, secondary education beyond the perceived optimal age for learning. GOD HAS A WORD!

I. Instructs us to Pray vs 6 "pray about everything" NLT
a. Act of Prayer
b. Atmosphere of Prayer
c. Attitude of Prayer

Praying will teach one how to live in "THIS DAY" and not in yesterday or the next day. Many of us can not see God moving because we are either running ahead or running behind. When we get our eyes off our troubles and focus them on the face of our Heavenly Father, then as HE becomes larger in our hearts, our problems will grow smaller in our minds.

II. Imparts to us His Peace vs. 7
Peace is tranquility of the soul. This peace is of divine origin. It is peace that cannot waiver, that cannot be shaken or destroyed. It is a calm even when the storm is raging. This is the kind of peace that God promised his disciples in John 14:27. What is the peace? The word "passeth" in the KJV helps me here.
The word huper literally means over, above, and beyond. It depicts something that is way beyond measure. It carries the idea of superiority; something that is utmost, paramount, foremost, first-rate, first-class, and top-notch; greater, higher, and better than; superior to; preeminent, dominant, and incomparable; more than a match for; unsurpassed or unequaled.
The second part of the word "passeth" is the Greek word echo, which means I have, as someone who holds something in his possession. It can be translated to keep; to possess; to have; to hold; or even to acquire. This is a peace that transcends, outdoes, surpasses, excels, rises above, goes beyond and over the top of any other kind of peace. The implication is that people may try to find peace in other places, but there is no peace like the peace of God.
Jim Beam doesn't serve it, Jack Daniels doesn't make it. Malibu doesn't have this flavor, Weed can't take you there, chanting can't transport you, this comes from God.

III. Implements in us His Protection vs. 7 "keep"
God's Peace serves as a Gate Monitor. Nothing can come in that God has not approved. His peace guards, it controls, it monitors, it screens our heart, our mind and our emotions. Illustration: McAfee, Norton Antivirus. God guards me from spyware, malware, mind attacks. It is real 360 protection as it guards my heart, mind and emotions.

IV. Induce in me a Spirit of Praise
A pilot took off on a plane ride and about halfway through the plane ride, he started hearing a noise which he recognized as a rat. The rat was gnawing, chewing and destroying the wires of the plane. The pilot became disturbed thinking that if the rat gnaws the wrong wire, it will cause the destruction of the plane; however he was too far out to turn back and not close enough to his destination to land.

Finally the pilot thought, rats are not made for high heights. They can live underground and on the ground but the higher you go, the rat can't live, so the pilot took the plane higher and higher until the rat could not survive in the high atmosphere. Worry is like a rat in your heart that tries to gnaw away at your energy and rob you of your vitality, but worry can't live in the secret place of the Most High.

That problem that I had, that I just couldn't seem to solve, I tried and I tried but I kept getting deeper involved but I TURNED IT OVER to Jesus, I stopped worrying about it. He can, He can work it out.

Keep running,


Monday, June 14, 2010

Fix the Cracks

The city of Sardis was located very high on top of sheer cliffs that were almost impossible to climb. Because of their city's high and remote location, the residents believed it couldn't be penetrated or taken captive by a foreign enemy. It was this overconfidence that led to the demise of Sardis on more than one occasion.

Because those who lived in Sardis believed they were impenetrable, they felt sure that foreign aggressors couldn't make war on them. As a result, they became proud, cocky, overconfident, lazy, and complacent. As this apathy took over, the residents smugly concluded that there was no other city as secure as theirs. As a result of this haughty attitude, they stopped giving attention to the foundations and walls of their spiraling city. Thus, while the people's pride and overconfidence kept growing stronger and stronger over the years, they failed to notice that the foundations and walls of their city had begun to deteriorate and form massive cracks at the base of the walls.

At first the cracks were small and unnoticeable; but as time progressed, those tiny cracks grew bigger, deeper, and wider. Finally, the gaps in the walls became so wide that a human body could easily slip through them—but the people didn't even realize that they were no longer secure! Due to the massive fractures in the walls and foundations, it had become very easy for an enemy to climb up the sides of the mountain, slip through the cracks, and march right into the city. Yet the city residents were completely unaware of the problem!

One night while the city of Sardis was sleeping, an enemy army scaled up the cliffs and slithered through the cracks in the foundations and walls of the city. It took only a few minutes for the enemy soldiers to creep through those fractures and silently make their way up to the top of the city walls. The invading army then settled into military positions with weapons fixed on the main routes of the interior so no one in Sardis could make a move without facing retaliation.

When the residents of Sardis awakened the next morning and ventured out into the streets, they were thrown into a state of panic and shock when they realized that they were surrounded on every side by an enemy force. Enemy forces had infiltrated into their midst before they knew those forces were even near!

This is why the apostle Paul said, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). The word "thinketh" is from the Greek word dokeo, which in this case means to be of the opinion, to reckon, to suppose, or to think, as it is translated here in the King James Version. In this verse, the word dokeo expresses the idea of what a person thinks or supposes about himself. There is nothing here to verify that the individual's opinion is correct; only that it is the prevailing opinion he has regarding himself.

Next, Paul says, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth...." The word "standeth" comes from the Greek word istemi, which simply means to stand, to stand fast, to stand firm, or to stand upright. But when the words dokeo and istemi are combined together as Paul uses them in this verse, it means, "Wherefore let anyone who has the self-imposed opinion of himself that he is standing strong and firm...." Then Paul adds the next critically important words: "... take heed lest he fall."

The words "take heed" are from the Greek word blepo, which means to watch, to see, to behold, or to be aware. The Greek tense indicates the need not only to watch, but to be continually watchful. Paul is urging us to live in an uninterrupted state of watchfulness regarding our spiritual lives and the firm stance of faith that we claim to possess!
Why does he insist that we be so watchful? He goes on to say, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." The word "fall" is pipto, which means to fall. In the New Testament, it is used to depict someone who falls into a terrible predicament or into a worse state than he was in before. It can also depict someone who falls into sin; falls into ruin; or falls into some type of failure. The word pipto that Paul uses in this verse emphatically describes a downfall from a formerly presumed high and haughty position. Therefore, it isn't just a little stumbling that Paul is referring to; it is a downward plummet that causes one to sorrowfully crash!
When you put all of this together, First Corinthians 10:12 could be translated:
"If anyone has the opinion of himself that he is standing strong and firm, he needs to be continually watchful and always on his guard lest he trip, stumble, and fall from his overconfident position and take a nose-dive downward to a serious crash!

Someone asked me, "Pastor what have you been doing on vacation? Take any trips? See any sights? Did you buy any suits or finally get the new car? NO to all the above. I have been inspecting my own walls on a nomadic Nehemiah journey through all the niches and nuances of my life. LOTS OF CRACKS.

Places where the devil slips in, attitude flares, temper shows, bad habits develop. NO OPEN DOORS, just cracks, need to fix them but they seem inconsequential so I put it off for another day only to wake up one day and find the enemy in my house, in my office, in my church, in my life. CRACKS. I am trying to fix the cracks in my life before it turns into complete and utter ruin.

Too much I know, I apologize. I have been away for a while but one sentence has made me want to run. Preventative medicine is always better than corrective surgery. FIX THE CRACKS!

Run On,


Thursday, June 3, 2010

I turned 40 years old and I am 2 years old!!

I praise God for allowing me to see another birthday as I was blessed on May 31st to become a 40 year old man. While I am sure the turning of another decade means something, I am just grateful to be alive another day and to see another year. I thank everyone for the cards and calls. May God bless you and keep you is my prayer.

The one thing I have learned in becoming older is that when I was younger, youth shook off lots of things. If I woke up with a pain or if while working something didn't feel right, you just shook it off. Arm doesn't feel right, just shake it till it feels better; leg isn't responding just shake it till it becomes responsive.

The older I am becoming I realize that there are some pains that you can't shake off anymore, in fact shaking it makes it worse, so you learn to live with it. God sends subtle reminders to remind us to pause, stop, slow down but in youth we ignore them. Becoming older is starting to teach me to read the signs. When the third base coach sends you home, go home but when he gives you the hold sign, you must hold.

I said all of this because I also turned TWO YEARS OLD. I am celebrating my Second Year Anniversary as the Pastor of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. I am grateful for the blessing that God gave me through this wonderful church. They have loved me, prayed for me, been patient with me, dealt with me and put up with me!

The same way I discovered in my personal life that its better to leave some things alone, I am learning that in my Pastoral Ministry. I am not a Laissez Faire pastor; letting people do what they want to do, but I am becoming clear that if God's Word doesn't change them, I won't be able to change them.

Sometimes as young ministers we believe we can fix people or change mindsets or "shake people into doing right" but we can't fix anyone. If God can't fix it, it can't be fixed! If God's Word doesn't shake it, it can't be shook! Dr. Fletcher McAfee, Pastor of the Mt Olive Baptist Church in Niles Michigan was our guest preacher on last night.

I always need an older preacher to preach, nothing against my brethren but I need someone who has been there and done that. No Hermeneutical Hurdles, No linguistic languages, No Ecclesiastical End-Arounds, just old-school preaching and Pastor McAfee killed me graveyard dead from Deuteronomy 3:23-27, where basically he reminded me that the people don't belong to me, they belong to God and we must be careful what we say and how we treat God's people.

Because of disobedience to God, Moses was able to see the blessing but not share in the blessing. GRAVEYARD DEAD!!! Moses saw the promised land but didn't get to enter because he allowed his frustration with the people(Which didn't belong to him in the first place) to lead him into anger and ultimately disobey God's orders thereby losing the blessing he struggled forty years in an attempt to obtain.

Some things you don't shake, you just leave it alone. You can actually make it worse by shaking it. When I was younger, I could shake it off, now a little older, shaking it makes it worse and the pain last longer, just leave it alone. Don't miss your blessing fighting with the people and disobeying God. Give the people to the God who created them in the first place. I don't want to see it, I want to share in it.

Good First night of Appreciation,