Wednesday, January 26, 2011
One night the leaders called a meeting to air complaints. When they gathered around the campfire, one man stood up and said, "Before we commence our grief session, don't you think we should at least first thank God that he has brought us this far with no loss of life, with no serious trouble from the Indians, and that we have enough strength left to finish our journey?"
The other settlers agreed. After the brief prayer, all that could be heard were the cries of a distant pack of wolves. There was otherwise stone silence around the campfire, because no one had any grievances they felt were important enough to voice.
They suddenly realized if they couldn't be satisfied with what they'd received, they could at least be thankful for what they'd escaped. Thankfulness enabled them to see the mercies of God they had been overlooking.
I wanted to say "thank you" to all of the people who prayed, texted, called, checked on, bossed, fussed, cooked and nursed me back to health. I had the blessing of the flu and a middle ear infection that lasted over 11 days. Preached two Sundays sick, taught Bible Studies at less than 100%, but the Lord blessed. I write this because this story made me realize all the while I had been mad, I am sick, I am dizzy, I don't feel good etc, as I got my list out to complain, I was struck by God to remember all the things he kept me from.
I have been dizzy for 11 days, moments that caused me to sit down until I regained my balance, but I never fell! I didn't wind up in a ditch while driving, didn't kill myself on the highway, I didn't fall down or up the stairs at my house, because God let me escape. When I realize all the things that could have happened to me and how close danger was to me but God made me sick enough to force me, to drive me to a bed, to sleep for four days, where God's angels at Macedonia, In Oklahoma, In Peoria, In Georgia, In California, In Texas, started praying because I couldn't even pray for myself. God let me escape.
It is said that in Africa there is a fruit called the "taste berry," because it changes a person's taste so that everything eaten tastes sweet and pleasant. Sour fruit, even if eaten several hours after the "taste berry," becomes sweet and delicious. Gratitude is the "taste berry" of Christianity, and when our hearts are filled with gratitude, nothing that God sends us seems unpleasant to us. Sorrowing heart, sweeten your grief with gratitude. Burdened soul, lighten your burden by singing God's praises. Disappointed one, dispel your loneliness by making others grateful.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
I write this blog to celebrate the life and to mark the home going of one of the Mother's of the Macedonia Church, Sister Margaret Saulsbury Dixon. On Monday, we celebrated her life with a Spirit-filled home going service.
I am grateful to Reverend Anthony Pettus, Pastor of the Greater Progressive Baptist Church and former Pastor of Macedonia for coming back and doing the eulogy. The wishes of the family were for him to do this part of the service, but I appreciate him for respecting me as the current Pastor and not doing anything until we had talked. The Body of Christ is best served when we ALL work together.
He preached a wonderful message from Romans 8:28 reminding us "God is in Control" weaving a wonderful tapestry between Scripture and memories of Sister Dixon. To God be the Glory that three people gave their lives to the Lord as this is my prayer and over riding conviction that funerals are evangelistic opportunities to the Living.
My relationship with Sister Dixon is different than others because I never had the opportunity to experience her cooking, her singing or her service but I praise God she shared with me her testimony. She never spoke, she never gave me Scripture and verse, she never told me about her struggles, BUT SHE DID BLESS MY LIFE.
Many blogs ago I shared my conviction that our church needed to do a better job visiting our sick and shut-in. We have men who want to run money of the church but don't participate in any real meaningful ministry in the church. No hospital visits, no nursing home calls, no Communion deliveries, No Tape and Program/Bulletin sharing. I wanted us to do better. I thank God for Deacon Henry Turner opening the door for me to go and visit our sick. It was in this way, I had a relationship with Mother Dixon.
One time as we went to share Communion with her, Mother changed my life. We gave the Bread and shared the Cup and I was preparing to conclude and leave. I believe in not being a burden to the family or the sick by staying too long. Mother must have heard in her voice either Pastor F.D. Johnson or Pastor Pettus say, "After they had done this, they sang a hymn and went out unto the Mount of Olives" because Mother started Moaning.
At first I thought this was pain, but I kept listening. It wasn't Pain but rather it was Praise. She was praising God and her Praise was so infectious the mothers who were with us starting moaning with her, and Deacon Turner and Prince became happy as well. Mother taught me an important message:
Death/Sickness may rob us of many things but it can not take away from us that which is most essential. Our steps may grow short, our eyesight may grow dim, our strength may fade and our breath may become shallow. We may forget names, events, places and times in history but WE NEVER LOSE THAT WHICH IS MOST ESSENTIAL.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rest on Mother,
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
My new year started off with record highs on the first Sunday of the year. Temperatures soared to the 50's, all the snow had melted off and we could see the ground. One week later, 39.4 inches of snow had fallen, with 25.6 inches of that snow coming in one day. Needless to say, the majority of our South Bend churches were closed on the second Sunday of the year as travel was bad; most people could not dig out of their own homes and the snow crews couldn't keep up with the falling snow.
I want to thank the Men of Macedonia for all of their hard work in removing and plowing our parking lots. One local Pastor called and joked with me about "my slave driver mentality" for calling a men's meeting during a blizzard, which isn't true but to pass by our church on Saturday night and see 6 Deacons and 4 men along with their Pastor trying to clear the parking lot was a great sight.
Our church sits on Olive Street which South Bend considers one of their priority streets so the city had our street cleared off. With the lots and the street clear, I prayed and decided to have church even though the city was still digging out. I figured who wanted to come would come and who wanted to stay in would stay in; but I noticed Notre Dame and Connecticut still played their Women's Basketball game and 18,000 people showed up. Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Super Target and Meijer's had full parking lots so I decided if they weren't shutting down, God's House wasn't shutting down.
Sunday Morning we had good community church with members from Greater St. John, Mt. Carmel, New Salem, Bethlehem as well as the few from Macedonia. I thank God for a relationship with these Pastors that the members they have been entrusted with would count me worthy that if they couldn't have their "Chef" for the day, they would trust my cooking. I told them, I can't cook it, serve it or prepare it like your Pastor but I will make sure you won't starve.
What took place on Saturday night and even on Sunday Morning inspired me to preach out of Mark 2:1-12, about the paralytic that was brought to Jesus. Some problems are so big, one person can't do it all by themselves. No matter your education, finance, strength or expertise, YOU NEED SOME HELP.
Beethoven still needs a Piano
Picasso still needs some Paint
Surgeons still need a Scalpel
Cornflakes need milk
Pastors need workers
We all need some Help. We are Better Together!
There were four helpers, each one carrying their own end of the pole, Most of the hassle we have in churches is someone trying to carry someone else's pole. CARRY YOUR END. They were all moving IN THE SAME DIRECTION and they were all headed TO THE SAME DESTINATION, the injured paralytic will receive A NEW DESIGNATION.
I. A New Position Vs 5. "Sins are Forgiven". He was on the outside looking in, but forgiveness will climb the roof, forgiveness will cut a hole, forgiveness will let you down to where Jesus is. There was a time we didn't have access to God because of our sins but God cut a hole,............
II. A New Posture Vs 11. "Rise, Pick up your Bed, Go Home". Sin had me on my back, but Jesus put me on my feet. Why take your Bed? People need to know the Before and After story. I was crippled, I was lame, I was a paralytic but I met Jesus, Here is my bed in case you don't believe me. And we all have an I WAS STORY. What's your Story? I was a liar, I was a gambler.....................
III. A New Praise Vs. 12 "We never seen anything like this before"
We had a good time Sunday with a few people.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Joseph Scriven had wealth, education, a devoted family, and a pleasant life in his native Ireland. Then unexpected tragedy entered. On the night before Scriven’s scheduled wedding, his fiancée drowned. In his deep sorrow, Joseph realized that he could find the solace and support he needed only in his dearest friend, Jesus.
Soon after this tragedy, Scriven dramatically changed his lifestyle. He left Ireland for Port Hope, Canada, determined to devote all of his extra time in being a friend and helper to others. He often gave away his clothing and possessions to those in need, and he worked—without pay—for anyone who needed him. Scriven became known as “the Good Samaritan of Port Hope.”
When Scriven’s mother became ill in Ireland, he wrote a comforting letter to her, enclosing the words of his newly written poem with the prayer that these brief lines would remind her of a never-failing heavenly Friend. Sometime later, when Joseph Scriven himself was ill, a friend who came to call on him happened to see a copy of these words scribbled on scratch paper near his bed. The friend read the lines with interest and asked, “Who wrote those beautiful words?”
“The Lord and I did it between us,” was Scriven’s reply.
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness—Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; in His arms He’ll take and shield thee—Thou wilt find a solace there.
Osbeck, K. W. (1990). Amazing grace : 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (19). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
"Found! I found something that looked more hopeless than if I had been sent into the jungle to a lot of tigers."
"What do you mean?"
"Why those people were so degraded that they seemed utterly devoid of moral sense. They were worse than beasts. If a mother were carrying her little baby, and the baby began to cry, she would throw it into the ditch and let it die. If a man saw his father break his leg, he would leave him upon the roadside to die. They had no compassion whatever. They did not know what it meant."
"Well, what did you do for people like that? Did you preach to them?"
"Preach? No! I lived."
"Lived? How did you live?"
"When I saw a baby crying, I picked it up and comforted it. When I saw a man with a broken leg, I mended it. When I saw people in distress, I took them in and pitied them. I took care of them. I lived that way.
And those people began to come to me and say: 'What does this mean? What are you doing this for?' Then I had my chance and I preached the gospel." "Did you succeed?" "When I left, I left a church!"
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Two things happened to me. Some of the greatest things happen in my life when I am not looking for them. Sometimes we are so busy trying to MAKE something happen, we just don't allow God to move in His time. I was studying for another assignment, another blessing and God gave me this one.
He laid an individual on my heart of whom I will not say. The person is not a member of
my church and I shouldn't have any reason to be connected to them, except I felt their pain. No, Not the Bill Clinton presidential line, "I Feel your Pain" but an actual connection that moved and motivated me to pray for their situation.
While praying for this, I saw my church. I saw Bethlehem, New Peter's Rock, Greater St. John, Carmel, I saw churches and Pastors in other cities, some I work with, some I blog with and follow their words and I was pushed, shoved, forcibly moved to pray this prayer.
While studying for a series of sermons on the Anatomy of a Healthy Church, I was in Colossians 1 working on "Who's the Boss" 1:18, as usual to go forward in a sermon, I move backwards so I was reading Paul's prayer for the church at Colossae and was moved. THIS IS THE PRAYER I SHOULD BE PRAYING DAILY FOR EVERYONE., so this is my prayer for you.
I am praying that God will ALLOW YOU TO SEE BETTER IN 2011.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Colossians 1:9 KJV)
This year I pray you see God's Will better for your life! More clearly, and that can be discovered by spending time in His Word. We don't have to walk around aimlessly, unsure of what steps we should take, His Word shows us.
Uncertainty is like the fog in our lives. As I was driving back home from OKC after seeing the girls, I encountered warm weather but at night, the warm weather while melting the snow on the ground caused huge fog bands that made visibility almost impossible. I prayed that God would give me safe passage. I slowed down almost to a crawl on the highway but as soon as the fog appeared, it seemed to miraculously disappear. It was just a valley where the fog could accumulate, but once I was out of the valley, God gave me clear sailing.
When God changes your perception problems don't seem as big, mountains don't seem as high, burdens don't seem as heavy because you can see things better. This type of living is found in the Word of God.
I am praying that God will allow you to ABOUND IN PROSPERITY IN 2011.
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:10 KJV)
Paul's prayer for prosperity was to manifest in two areas, our Walk and our Work, not our Wallet. I am not praying for God to allow you to win the Mega Millions lottery jackpot. God can't trust you with 290 dollars why would He trust you with 290 Million. I pray that God individually and collectively produces in us a fruit He can be proud of. One that looks like HIM, Smells like HIM, Tastes like HIM.
I pray that God will ACTIVATE HIS STRENGTH IN YOUR LIVES.
Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; (Colossians 1:11 KJV)
I am praying that God will give you Power, Not manpower or willpower, but God's power. With God's power, I believe the best is yet to come. We haven't even scratched the surface yet.
I end by how lately I have been ending church,
I pray for You
You pray for me
Watch God changes things