Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Little Homesick

I love my church! Macedonia is a great church with great people. South Bend is a great place to raise a family with many opportunities for the person who has vision.

However, I woke up today Homesick. I miss the girls, I miss big head Khalil. Some of my members gave me these pictures from Greater Mt Olive's 100th Church Anniversary and I ran across this old picture from my very first church picnic here at Macedonia.

It is amazing how time flies, things change and kids grow up. I will be fine in the morning, this too shall pass but for now, I am a little homesick.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Be Careful What You Pray For!

Preaching Numbers 11 today presented many problems for me, many of which I didn't share with the church but I praise God that the deeper we dig, we never hit rock bottom.

Why did God punish the children of Israel for grumbling about the food and asking for meat in the second year of wandering in the wilderness, recorded in Numbers 11, but not the previous year when they had made the same request (Exodus 16:11-18)? What so distinguishes the two events that it would demand the judgment of God in the second instance but not in the first?

When Israel complained, they were doing more than objecting to a monotonous diet; they were challenging the goodness of God and his ability to provide for them. The affair in Numbers 11:4 began when the "rabble" of the foreign element that had joined the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:38) began wailing about the lack of meat and vegetables in their diet.

The rest of the people of Israel joined in, and the pressure was on for Moses and the leadership of the nation. God does say "No" for a reason. He does forbid certain things for our benefit. Israel was ungrateful for God's provisions and the Lord lets them have their own way and desires. He teaches them a big lesson. Getting your own way will not always make you happy. You may find that you will get what you want, but lose what you had.

God does not force obedience. Yes, He expects it, desires it, demands it but He does not force us, He does not overpower us, you have a choice. If you choose to walk away from God, as much as he does not want to see you go, God does not make you stay. Therefore, there are times when God says No but in our stubborn and hard hearts we reject him, so God will allow us, turn us over to our selfish desires and we will have to deal with the consequences of our actions.

Lot got the wealth and prestige of Sodom. He got what he wanted but he lost his family and his home. Many parents make the same mistake in their quest for wealth. They are gone so much, that the kids never see the parents or the spouses never see one another. This is a prescription for a troubled marriage and family. Samson got his own way. He got the wild woman he wanted and he lost his strength, sight, freedom, and life.

David got Bathsheba. He had his sexual fling with this beautiful woman, but he lost his peace and the blessing of the Lord on his home. Peace may not seem to be a big deal, but it is when you realize you have lost it. Immorality leads to misery and guilt. If you fool around, you are a fool. Be careful what you pray for.

God orders and ordains what is on the menu!

God knows what we can handle! Obedience is a voluntary act. Rejection of God always carried consequences! Prayerfully, God will arrange this into a nice preaching form and I don't die a horrible death today.


Monday, March 21, 2011

In Memory of Ms. Bessie Lewis

There is nothing better than a Chicago Sunday night Home going Service. I am saddened that the occasion was the loss of our member Sister Geneva Dudley's sister, Ms. Bessie Lewis; however, Pastor LeVelle Brown Sr., Pastor of the Mercy Seat Baptist Church and his church family did a magnificent job with this service. Let me thank the members of Macedonia who made this trip to support our mother Sister Geneva Dudley and Deacon Chris and Sister Wanda Dudley, who are loyal and dedicated members of our church.
Pastor Johnnie L. Miller and the Mt. Vernon M.B.C. opened their doors to the JLM Abundant Life Community Center and welcomed over 700 people to celebrate the life of Sister Bessie Lewis.
She was a jewel and will be missed by many. Even in the short time of Pastoring here in Macedonia, I looked forward to her visits, her smiles and encouragement.
Please continue to pray for the Dudley family, The Mercy Seat Baptist Church family and Pastor LeVelle Brown Sr.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One-Woman Man

I am looking forward to our Sunday School lesson this week as it deals with the qualifications for spiritual leadership for Pastors and Deacons. It is significant that in describing the qualifications, the apostle Paul focuses on the character rather than the function. A man is qualified because of who and what he is, not because of what he does.

I also must admit this lesson is very personal for me. Many of my members are attacked in this town for attending, joining and worshiping at a church where the Pastor is single. They have been told by other church members, non-church members and a few Pastors that they are wrong for coming to this church and their basis for this is I Timothy 3:2.

"The husband of one wife" is not the best translation of I Timothy 3:2 according to the Greek. "Wife"(gunaikos) and "husband"(aner) are better translated "woman" and "man" with the construction of the Greek placing the emphasis on the word "ONE" which communicates the idea of a one-woman man. There are many interpretations over what this verse means:

Interpretation#1: Many Commentators believe this to mean an elder can't have more than one wife at a time. ANSWER: Understanding the religious and cultural climate of the day this is written, this view is unlikely as neither Jews nor Romans engaged in this practice.

Interpretation#2: Some believe this verse means a man can't be a Pastor if he has remarried for any reason. ANSWER: This view cannot be true because God permits remarriage after the death of one's spouse, (cf. Rom.7:2-3; I Cor. 7:39; I Timothy 5:9-15)

Interpretation#3: Some contend this was a prohibition for divorced men being unfit or unable to serve as elders/pastors. ANSWER: This verse is not a prohibition against divorced men serving as Pastors because the Bible teaches that under two(2) Circumstances, remarriage after a divorce is within God's will. (cf. Matthew 5:31-32, I Corinthians 7:15)

Interpretation#4: Some people contend this verse prohibits single men from serving as Elders/Pastors. ANSWER: This view cannot be true as Paul operated within the office of elder/Pastor as a church planter; giving Pastoral advice; conferred through the laying on of hands as an elder statesman pastor(cf. I Timothy 4:14, II Timothy 1:6) and he did all of this while single.(cf. I Corinthians 7:7-9)

Therefore, the concept of a one-woman man has nothing to do with marital status, social status or external conditions but rather it deals with the state of heart of the person seeking this job. IT DEALS WITH CHARACTER.

John MacArthur states it better than I can in his book, "The Master's Plan for the Church", If he is married, he is to be devoted solely to his wife. If he is not married, he is not to act or behave as a "Ladies man". For the man who looks down upon the single pastor, "Unfortunately it is possible to be married to one woman and yet not act or behave as a one-woman man." (cf. Matthew 5:28)

What Paul told Timothy is that a married----or unmarried man who lusts after many women is unfit for ministry.

Sunday School will be fun! I am tempted to teach this one to all the adults myself.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

2011 Spring Trust God Sunday

Words cannot describe how wonderful our service was today, and really for the past 6 to 8 weeks. It is simply amazing how God is moving in Macedonia. We still have our issues, the devil is still roaring and this week was the worst week I have ever experienced as a Pastor. The attacks have been both personal and public but somehow it didn't defeat me but rather it just gave me more fuel to run on a little while longer.

Trust God Sunday for the Macedonia church is the day where we commit to 100% tithing in our church. We ask people to do three things.

1. If you are not already a tither, we ask that you would pray that God would lead you into becoming a giver on this day. Take God's Challenge in Malachi 3:10:

"Test me in this" NIV
"Prove me Now"KJV
"Try me now in this"NKJV
"Put me to the Test"ESV
"I Challenge You to put me to the test"CEV

2. If you are already a tither, we ask on this Sunday for you to bring your tithe, we also ask that you would bring a Sacrificial offering on top of your tithe so that you can feel the same burden as your fellow member who is giving for the first time. We don't ask for an amount because what is a sacrifice in one house may not be in another.

3. We asked every member to pray that God would give us something to give and then that we would be obedient in our giving. We have been praying for 6 weeks for this day. We usually pray the Month of February.

The music ministry under the direction of Minister Javon Lewis had church jumping from the opening praise song. The choir loft is over my office so when I heard them start stomping and jumping, I ran upstairs to get me some of that. They have made preaching so easy for me over these past few weeks, I cannot explain.

The choir was trying to get me to sing with them but I was fighting that off; however after they finished the church went into "Yes Lord" and for some reason(God) Javon went into "I will trust in the Lord" right after that and that's all she wrote. Let me tell you a good hymn will still destroy a church and a preacher. That makes two weeks in a row, I have been singing before I preach. I am going to the doctor as I don't sing unless I am sick or the Spirit is really high.

We preached on Proverbs 3:5-6 and encouraged the members to:

Trust God ENTIRELY vs 5a "with all your heart"
Trust God EXCLUSIVELY vs 5b "Do not lean until thy own understanding"
Trust God EXTENSIVELY vs 6a "In all thy ways acknowledge him"

God blessed the sermon and our 2011 Spring Trust God Sunday. Through people committing to God, we took up today what we normally take up for a month. TO GOD BE THE GLORY.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Learning Transparency in Ministry

Charles Swindoll tells the story of meeting a ministry leader whom he had respected for many years named Jim Petersen. This was when Swindoll was new to ministry and still looking for that formula for success in ministry.

“Tell me the secret of ministering to people.” I expected him to say, “Always set the pace,” or, “Be strong no matter what,” or, “Model the truth, and stand against the adversary as he attacks you.” I got none of that. The answer he receives was “Chuck, let people see the cracks in your life, and you’ll be able to minister to them.”

I love this story but I must admit I am scared about the natural application that comes with it. Is this suggesting that I should reveal my personal and private business in the public arena? Does this mean that I am to remain naked and bare emotionally and spiritually to the church in which I serve?

Some of my deepest pains have been caused by people I let inside who wore Christian robes and the badge of being employed by the Master but were living a life of masquerade who had crept in unaware. If this is what Transparency looks like; then this concept is for the birds and I don't want to do it, however, I found a definition that gave me hope.

Transparency is something that is made visible by light shining from behind.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (New Century Version)
God once said, "Let the light shine out of the darkness!" This is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts by letting us know the glory of God that is in the face of Christ.
We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure. This shows that the great power is from God, not from us.

Therefore, it is not a bad thing to admit I have faults, fears and flaws because it allows people to see the Christ that works in me. LET THEM SEE YOUR CRACKS.

I am apprehensive before I preach, worried about declaring what has been deposited in me. I am anxious after I preach, replaying every word, reviewing every sentence, ready to find a pulpit to get back up and say what I should have said or could have said better; however this frailty shows people MY FATHER, so LET THEM SEE YOUR CRACKS.

There are times that studying leads you to new ideas that deepen your faith, stretch your horizons and pushes you out of your comfort zones. It changes our preaching and may make the preacher and pew uncomfortable as new territory is discovered but if I LET THERM SEE THE CRACKS, then we take this adventure together, we grow together. It will be seen God is growing our Pastor and as He grows we grow.

I am LEARNING Transparency so:
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I needed a Praise Break

I needed this one today. Thanks to Deacon Kenny Whitelow for sending me this. I knew one day it would come in handy. Today was the day.