Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Need Thee Every Hour

I am deeply troubled and saddened by a movement within our church and the church at large that seemly has ignored hymns and traditional music for praise songs and urban contemporary gospel music. I love that genre but I think the church should sing ALL types of music, not just one style.

Recently during a Lord Supper's service, the Lord led me to sing "there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins and sinners plunge beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains", standard Lord's Supper Baptist song. My older members went in, my 35 and younger crowd didn't have a clue what was going on. They said they had never heard that song. I became worried, after all, I am only 40, but I decided this was a chance to teach, so once a week on the blog and as God gives me favor at the church, we will place an emphasis on hymns, their meaning, their mission and their ministry,

Annie S. Hawks, 1835–1918
Refrain added by Robert Lowry
In the day of my trouble I will call to You, for You will answer me. (Psalm 86:7)

This deeply personal hymn came from the heart of a busy housewife and mother who had no idea of the spiritual strength that her own hastily written words would bring her later during a sorrowful time in her life.
The author, Annie S. Hawks, has left this account about the writing of her poem in 1872:
One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks. Suddenly, I became filled with the sense of nearness to the Master, and I began to wonder how anyone could ever live without Him, either in joy or pain. Then the words were ushered into my mind and these thoughts took full possession of me.
Sixteen years later, Mrs. Hawks experienced the death of her husband. Years after, she wrote:
I did not understand at first why this hymn had touched the great throbbing heart of humanity. It was not until long after, when the shadow fell over my way, the shadow of a great loss, that I understood something of the comforting power in the words which I had been permitted to give out to others in my hour of sweet serenity and peace.

One of the blessings of a victorious Christian life is knowing the closeness of our Lord in every circumstance of life. Like Annie Hawks, it is so important that we develop strong spiritual lives during the peaceful hours in order that we will be able to be victorious when difficulties come, which they surely will to everyone at some time.

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord. No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee every hour; stay Thou near by. Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain. Come quickly, and abide, or life is vain.
I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will, and Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
I need Thee every hour, Most Holy One; O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.
Refrain: I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee! O bless me now, my Savior—I come to Thee!

Consciously practice walking close to the Savior each hour so that whether there are times of joy or grief, He will be there to meet every need.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Extra Weight

I am encountering a problem in my life. It is a sin issue! Usually when we admit we have a sin issue, people run to their favorites sins to gossip about, is it fornication, is it lying, gambling, adultery, are you a closet drug addict? No to all the above, however my sin is just as deadly as all of those. Physically and spiritually, I am guilty of the sin of carrying around extra weight. I NEED TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT

Physically, I have not demonstrated any discipline concerning my diet and exercise routine and now I am bigger than I should be. It affects my clothing, it affects my daily routine, it even affects my health because it is something I shouldn't be carrying around. I NEED TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT

As I am preparing for next week's sermon on The Valley Gate in Nehemiah 3, I started thinking of the theme "The Luggage of Life". The Valley Gate is the longest stretch between points of all the gates that needed repaired and represents a time in our lives where burdens get heavy, problems seem to pile on and we don't see a end in sight.

We start to carry things God never intended for us to carry. Max Lucado calls it a "suitcase of guilt, a sack of discontentment, a duffel bag of weariness, a hanging bag of grief, a backpack of doubt, an overnight bad of loneliness and a trunk full of fear. Pretty soon you are pulling more stuff than a skycap. No wonder we are so tired at the end of the day. Lugging luggage is exhausting"!

We need to lighten our load. We need to lose some weight! How do we do it? Maybe we should look at the eagle for an example. An Eagle renews its life by breaking away the buildup on its beak that keeps it from eating and growing stronger. As an eagle grows older, its beak begins to grow and a build up of scar tissue from cracks and scratches forms. This buildup begins to limit the ability of the eagle to open its beak wide enough to eat properly.

The eagle finds a rock or hard surface and begins to beat the end of its beak until it finally breaks away the buildup. Then the beak grows back in its correct proportions and the eagle is able to eat again. It’s strength and vigor returns and it becomes like a young eagle again. IT BREAKS AWAY THE BUILDUP.

Many of us carry excess weight, the luggage of life, buildup that needs to be broken. It can come from a variety of sources. Unrealistic expectations of others, unrealized dreams, past relationships, past failures and present frustrations. It shows up in anger, guilt, arrogance, fear and all kinds of insecurities that weigh us down.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

It's time to lose some weight, physically and spiritually,


Friday, July 23, 2010

Be A Magnet

A piece of steel metal under ordinary conditions-- in the "As-is" situation -- does not have magnetic properties. It is not a magnet. It can not attract and/or hold. It can not do the work of a magnet. Why? The molecules are in "chaos". Each molecule has a Plus (+) and a minus (-), and when each is pointing in a different direction, some NORTH, some SOUTH, EAST and WEST, up and down, in between, the metal is not useful as a magnet.

IF a real magnet exerts influence upon the molecules in a favorable fashion, then all the molecules line up in an orderly manner, all North's/north, all South's/south, then IT BECOMES USEFUL AS A MAGNET ALSO! Furthermore IT CAN THEN EXERT INFLUENCE UPON ANOTHER PIECE OF STEEL and help it to BECOME A MAGNET. Now each gives magnetism to another and still maintains its own magnetism, and can keep on magnetizing over and over.

When we let the LOVE of God come into our lives, His Spirit makes order out of chaos. We become "magnetic" and useful and can be used to help others to receive His Spirit and LOVE and become useful. Being "magnetized", we can give LOVE to others to become "magnetic" also. When we give LOVE, we still have it! Isn’t that great!

Are you a "magnet"? Are you giving LOVE? Remember you GIVE LOVE and you still have it! Are you letting your "magnetism" be felt by others? Be a good "magnet" and pass it on. Note that when the metal becomes magnetized, its outward visible appearance does not change. Its color, size and shape are still the same. Just looking at it, you can’t tell whether its a magnet or not! However its nature has changed. It acts and reacts differently. That’s the way we can tell. It’s how we are on the INSIDE that matters-that makes the difference. Are your actions different? Can others tell if you have that change within?

Ephesians 4:22-23 (New Living Translation)
22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Clean your Glasses

Many times when I fall asleep at night, I fall asleep either with my glasses on or either close by me. Some time in the middle of the night I took them off and they may be on the night stand, or the floor, or in the bed. Because I didn't place them in the correct place, they become dirty and smudged.

Other times because of natural events, the same glasses can become less clear. I have long eyelashes so many times the natural moisture that emanates from me can cause the glasses to smear or the dirt particles in the air and surrounding areas can cause it to become stained.

Unlike some people, I can become accustomed to seeing through dirty glasses. In fact, there have been times I didn't even realize my glasses were dirty until someone would come up to me and say, "How can you see through those glasses", and I would take them off and realize how dirty they were.

It reminds me of the story of the little old lady who went to the gas station that still did old fashioned full service stops and as they were cleaning her windows she would say, "You missed a spot over there" and the attendant would clean it and then she would say, NO, you missed a spot over there and he would clean it and finally the attendant said, Ma'am, may I see your glasses, and he cleaned them and she said, Ok it's all better now.

We have many people who can see the wrong in everyone else's life. We see their attitude, their arrogance, their bossy nature, their cocky demeanor, their demanding posture, their exacting and finicky ways, their grievous and painstaking aura that is so demanding that it just makes it hard to be around them, work by them, go to church with them, stay married to them.

We say if only they would get better, clean their lives, repent of their sins, change their actions, then all would be well but have you ever stopped to consider that maybe the problem isn't that person? Maybe it's you and your viewpoint. When I wake up with stained glasses, my viewpoint is stained. It is impossible for me to see clearly if I haven't cleaned off the residue of filth in my own life.

That is why praying in the morning for the life of the believer is like the lens cloth to those of us who wear glasses. Yes we should thank God for another day's journey, and yes we should thank him Him for last night's resting and this morning's rising, yes you should thank Him that no hurt, harm, or danger befell you while you slumbered and slept but its more than that.

Every morning, we should pray and ask God to clean our glasses. Clean me of the filth, grime, mud, dirt and sin that clouds my perception, that alters my thinking, that shapes my images. We don't know what the day will bring, who we will meet, or how the actions of today's soap opera will affect us down the road, so Lord, Clean my glasses.

I am convinced that we would love better, see more good in others, learn to think and live in God's purpose rather than resting in the negativity of Satan if we allowed God to clean our glasses.

I cleaned my glasses this morning! It is amazing how clear things are!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Solidarity Through the Savior

I have been absent in this forum for a while but I have been busy with church and convention work both national and state. We just came out of celebrating the 89th session of our Original General Missionary Baptist State Convention Of Indiana, INC., that was held at the Van Buren Baptist Church in Gary, Indiana where the pastor is Rev. Dwight Mobley.

The pastor and church did a wonderful job in hosting and many productive changes were added to our convention. We praise God for our General State President, Dr. Isaac Culver, Jr. for his vision of implementing tenure/term limits into our convention. We were one of the last conventions to introduce this concept. Funny thing, it was always a good idea until you became President and then it wasn't time. We believe this change will foster growth and better participation of our local churches.

I want to thank the Macedonia church family for following me down on Monday as I had to preach the opening night sermon of the convention. I haven't been that nervous in a long time as the full arsenal of Gary preachers emptied out from their chambers to see what this little "Oklahoma boy", ain't he from Woodberry" would do. Gary preachers are known for helping you when you preach and cat-calling you if you are dying. The easiest way to die is trying to be something that you ain't, pardon the English so I was me and God was God, and it was nice in the Van Buren house that night.

We talked on the National Theme, Solidarity with the Savior, although I changed with to Through and we used for our scripture Acts 1:8. I can't share it all with you but it was my contention that Luke more than any other gospel writer would empathize with this theme because Luke writes an apologetic defense of the Gentile Movement.

He argues that Judaism is not the true religion but Christianity is and Christ loves Gentiles as well as Jews. The synagogue was a racist, sexist place that openly practiced discrimination on a daily basis. The prayers displayed this as they would pray, "Lord thank you I am not a Gentile, Lord thank you I am not a woman. They showed this in their practice as they only let men sit at the feet of a Rabbi because only men could be disciples, not women.

How do you change a racist institution? How do you alter a sexist environment? How do we welcome in those that others would leave out? It must take some power! The Holy Spirit is that power and it ought to do more than JUST make you dance, make you shout, cut your step and say your phrase but it ought to teach you how to live, how to forgive, how to share, how to communicate, HOW TO CHANGE YOUR WORLD. This power that gave Solidarity changed the world in four ways:

I. Power to Believe---They had to believe before they received because if they didn't believe, they wouldn't have been waiting at the right place at the right time. Acts 1:12-2:1 BELIEF DICTATES BEHAVIOR

II. Power to Become--The last time we saw Peter open his mouth in public when it came to a discussion about Jesus, he denied him. He cursed. He backslid, but I am grateful that Peter was still becoming. Jesus found Peter when he went back fishing, sometimes after we mess up we go back to what we know we can do right, Peter went fishing, but Jesus had called him to be FISHERS OF MEN, Mt. 4: 18-20. Jesus restores him in Jn 21:15-20, and now Peter has a chance to stand for God.

This time he succeeded. Last time he failed. The problem with a lot of people today is they think they have already arrived instead of realizing I am becoming. Last time I failed, Last time I fell short, Last time I lied, Last time, and we all have a last time but thank God my Last time wasn't my last time because He gave me a This Time. This time I am becoming, II Corinthians 5:17

III. Power to Belong- "and you shall be my "witnesses". We are fighting over titles and positions, who is president, who is moderator, I am apostle this and Bishop that, when all of us should be "WITNESSES". Tell the world what you have seen and what you have heard, Acts 4:18-20

IV. Power to Go Beyond- "In Jerusalem, In Judea, In Samaria and to the ends of the earth".
Star Trek says, "Space the Final Frontier, These are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise, Its five year mission is to explore strange new worlds, to seek out life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before, well long before Star Trek came up with that God had already commanded that, Matthew 28:19-20

There are still those in Macedonia, in Antioch, in Berea, in Thessalonica, there is still Timothy, still a Philippian jailer about to commit suicide, a demon possessed girl that needs to be delivered, still is a boy that needs to raised from that dead that fell out of the church window, we must go beyond our base, beyond our building, beyond our comfort zone, for there is power in the name of Jesus.

I leave you with what Mt. Olive left me, It may be in the valley where countless dangers hide, It may be in the sunshine where I in peace abide, but this one thing I know if it be dark or fair, if Jesus goes with me I'll go Anywhere. If Jesus Goes with me I'll go anywhere, tis heaven to be where ever I be if He is there, I count it a privilege here His cross to bear, If Jesus goes with me I'll go anywhere.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

It is Well with My Soul

Thank you to Mother Taylor for reminding me of this great hymn, I needed it today and thanks to Pastor A. Glenn Woodberry for teaching me the story:

Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters and a son. He was also a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures. His circle of friends included Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey and various other well-known clergymen of the day.At the very height of his success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son.

Shortly thereafter on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment Spafford had.In 1873, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe, to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation from tragedy, and so that he might join Moody and Sankey for an evangelistic campaign in England. Spafford sent his wife and daughters on ahead while he remained in Chicago, to take care of some unexpected last minute business.

Several days later he received notice that his family's ship had encountered a collision in which all four of his daughters drowned; only his wife had survived.With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a boat that would take him to his grieving Anna, in England. It was on this trip that he penned those now famous words, when sorrow like sea billows roll; it is well, it is well with my soul..

Philip Bliss (1838-1876), composer of many songs including Hold the Fort, Let the Lower Lights be Burning, and Jesus Loves Even Me, was so impressed with Spafford's life and the words of his hymn that he composed a beautiful piece of music to accompany the lyrics. The song was published by Bliss and Sankey, in 1876.For more than a century, the tragic story of one man has given hope to countless thousands who have lifted their voices to sing, It Is Well With My Soul.

It Is Well With My Soul When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,When sorrows like sea billows roll;Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,It is well, it is well with my soul. Refrain: It is well (it is well),with my soul (with my soul),It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul. Refrain It is well (it is well),with my soul (with my soul),It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! Refrain It is well (it is well),with my soul (with my soul),It is well, it is well with my soul.

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live: If Jordan above me shall roll, No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul. Refrain It is well (it is well),with my soul (with my soul),It is well, it is well with my soul.

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is well with my soul. It is well (it is well),with my soul (with my soul),It is well, it is well with my soul.

I can run on now,


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Bricks and the Builders

We went back to our series in Nehemiah on this past Sunday after a five week preaching absence from the pulpit that God has given me here at Macedonia. It was not a planned five week recess but as scheduling took place, it fell that way. To be out of your own pulpit for any amount of time, yet alone for five weeks, I must admit I wanted to hit it out of the park if I can admit to selfish desires; however, my assignment was Nehemiah 3.

At first glance, Nehemiah 3 looks a bit dry. Upon first read, it seems down right boring. On Commentator called it "A Colorless memorandum of assignments" much like I Chronicles is with its long lists of names. The information in Nehemiah 3 gives you names we have trouble pronouncing, a chronological timeline that seems meaningless and family information that we don't care about because let's face it, WE DON'T EVEN KNOW OUR OWN FAMILY LIKE WE SHOULD.

I am glad to report that sometimes we must go deeper than the surface and look past our first glance and after doing this what seemed to be boring turned out to be beautiful. I thought this sermon would be an overview of Chapter 3 moving quickly into chapter 4 but it is shaping into a five week sojourn just in this chapter.

What makes Chapter 3 so special and should make you rejoice beyond the funny names is because of what the chapter represents. This is not a chapter of Promise, nor is it a chapter or Prophecy but rather it is a chapter that is Personal. We live in a day and age where people forget. They forget your name, they forget where you are from, forget what you have done, but God has a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with us and HE DOES NOT FORGET.

So, I found my first shout in this "at first glance" dull chapter, that while some walls needed to Repaired and others needed to be Rebuilt, all of it was Recorded. God is a recorder of names. The Bible does not say "Lots and lots of people made repairs to the wall but rather it specifically names each person for eternity's record.

We tried on Sunday to introduce chapter three (3) before we break into a gate by gate sermon view. This chapter does not lend itself to easy verse by verse expositional preaching but we did the best we know how to do. I certainly did not knock it out of the park on Sunday, but thankfully, I didn't make an out either. Here was part of the outline:

I. Consecration Of the Work Vs 1
a. sanctified it, (consecrated, dedicated, set it apart)
b. strengthened it(Set the doors in place)
II. Cooperation In the Work.
One of the key words in this chapter depending on translation is the word "section" It is used 13 times. The people were assigned a certain section to work on but something that just excited me in this text was this, THE WALL WAS DIVIDED, THE PEOPLE WERE NOT.
The priests worked vs 1. They weren't expected to do it all but they did their part.
The rulers worked vs 12-19. No all the nobles didn't but thank God for those who did.
The craftsmen worked vs 8, 32
Jews from other cities worked vss. 2; 5; 7
Some gave more vss. 11; 19; 21; 24; 27; 30
The women worked vs 12
Although they worked in Sections, their work was Seamless because of the right Spirit.
III. Coordination Through the Work
There were 40 to 42 separate building projects going on over a distance between a mile and a mile and a half. There were 42 groups of people listed in this work. It would take coordination.
Different People--Same Plan, Same Purpose--Same Power
IV. Commendation For the Work
Chapter 3 is God's directive in Nehemiah Diary to leave a personal mark of Distinction for all of the workers. No one can say Thank you like God can. In fact the only Thank you I want to hear comes form God. It was back home at the Greater Mount Olive Church where some old sister would sing the song:

If when you give the best of your service Telling the world that the Saviour has come Be not dismayed when men don't believe you He'll understand and say well done Oh when I come to the end of my journey Weary of life and the battle is won Carrying the staff and the cross of redemption He'll understand and say well done

I am living for Well Done:

Run On,


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Family and Friends 2010

I have been absent lately from the blogging community as the Macedonia church has been busy with a myriad of activities. We just completed celebrating our Family and Friends Day 2010 where our special guests were the New Hope Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and their Pastor, the Reverend E.J. Tyson.

We had a great time and in the words of Pastor Tyson, "Unions were Formed"! The New Hope Church has hosted my church for the past two years as I have been honored to be the guest evangelist for New Hope's simultaneous revival. The hospitality and love of Christ New Hope demonstrated was overwhelming and encouraged our church to extend the same love.

The Hand of God kept New Hope safe as they traveled with over 70 members through Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and finally to Indiana. We had a bowling fellowship on Friday where we simply ate and enjoyed some recreational time forming friendships and introducing our guests to the South Bend area. Saturday morning, we were blessed to have an "old fashioned picnic on the grounds" where games, food, music and even a little dancing took place.

Saturday afternoon, it was shopping where some went to the Lighthouse Premium Outlet Mall in Michigan City while others stayed and went to the mall here in South Bend. Saturday night, we had a wonderful musical where we showcased some of God's greatest voices. The "Voices of Hope" choir blessed our hearts and "Divine Favour, an up and coming group here in South Bend sang unto the power of the Holy Ghost fell down as the old saints would say.

Sunday Morning, it was a packed house and it was quite warm but we made it through as Macedonia and New Hope shared corporate worship together. Church was so power packed, we blew a thunderstorm through that eased the heat (while scaring some of the saints when the lights went out for a minute, need Jesus, Jesus will help you not to be scared, LOL). Pastor Tyson delivered a mighty message on "When all of God's Children Get Together" and the Lord added one to our church.

We fed New Hope and prayed for them as they embarked back to OKC but we were blessed that Pastor Tyson could stay over Monday and Tuesday so we had a mini revival where each night he challenged us from the Word of God to "look at things from a Godly perspective", "Keep our Priorities Straight and Trust God with our Time Talent and Treasure". Each night we had no less than thirty (30) people at the alter making decisions in obedience to the Word of God.

I am grateful to pastor such a wonderful church as Macedonia who did their best to put on the "Big pot and the little pot too" in hosting. As we sing in our welcome song, "We are not a perfect church, but we are practicing to be". I am also grateful to Pastor Tyson and the New Hope church for loving our church enough to load up a full bus, many cars and several plane riders to fellowship with us.

If the Lord says the same, it looks like I might actually get to go back to the place I came from and preach for their church anniversary. I am overwhelmed already by the Pastor of New Hope and members who said they will be there with us.

Tired physically, full spiritually