Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dream Big

I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. Philippians 4:13

GEORGE FOREMAN first won the World Heavyweight Championship boxing title in 1973 at the age of twenty-three. He was at the top of his game and in his prime when he defeated Joe Frazier that fateful day in Jamaica. A year later he lost his title to Muhammad Ali in their infamous bout in Kinshasa, Zaire, known as the "Rumble in the Jungle."

Foreman retired a few years later to pursue the career he'd always dreamed of. He became the pastor of a small church in Houston, Texas. Members said he was as fiery and powerful in the pulpit as he was in the ring. He used part of his boxing money to establish a youth center in Houston, and his church did its best to cover the rest of the expenses. But it wasn't long before financial resources dried up. The church struggled to keep the center alive. In 1987 Foreman surprised everyone by announcing his plans to save the youth center from bankruptcy. "I'm going to be heavyweight champion again," he said.

In spite of the jokes and jeers from the media and late-night comedians, Foreman set himself on a strict regimen of training. He had to start at the bottom, fighting little-known boxers and working his way back up the ranks. Though he was older, he'd never lost his ability to land an explosive punch and bring his opponent down, so his climb was quicker than expected. Before long, Foreman had become a serious contender for the top belt. After seven years of work, he finally had a shot at the title.

In 1994, at the age of 45, Foreman shocked the world by knocking out Michael Morrer to regain the World Heavyweight Championship title. He was the oldest man in history to do so. He used the money he made to save the center. The comedians were no longer laughing. From the beginning, Foreman attributed this feat to his faith in God and his belief that the Holy Spirit would supply him with the strength he needed.

"It doesn't matter what people say about you," Foreman said after the fight. "Look in the mirror and never put yourself down. Give yourself time and anything can be accomplished."
"I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need," writes Paul (Philippians 4:13). When God sets a task on your heart, all you have to do is believe that he can help you carry it out. His power is sufficient for all our needs in any given situation.

Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Golden Rule of Interpretation

Sitting in the office getting ready for Noonday Bible Study preparing for Chapter Three of Hebrews, I ran across a gem in my study. As in most things, it is amazing what we find when we aren't looking for anything specific and just commune with God.

John Wycliffe developed a Golden rule of Intrepretation. Although this was creacated way back in the 1300's, it still makes a god application in 2011. Listen and Read this Golden Rule:

It shall greatly help thee to understand Scripture if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, and to what intent, under what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth.

Class will be fun today


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Does God Want?

What can we bring to the Lord? Micah 6:6

IF YOU HAD to get God a gift, what would you get him? What present would you lay at the feet of the Creator? Let's say you wanted to make up for the things you've done to hurt him. You've ignored his requests, you've cheated on him, you've gone months without acknowledging his existence, and now you want to say you're sorry and try to make things right. What would you give him to show him you're sincere? The prophet Micah poses this same question to the people of Israel:

"What can we bring to the Lord to make up for what we've done? Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and tens of thousands of rivers of olive oil? Would that please the Lord? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for the sins of our souls? Would that make him glad?" (6:6-7).

What about you? What would your gift be? Would you think about giving a large lump sum to your church? Would you consider making a promise? I'll read my Bible every night before bedtime, and I'll go to church every Sunday, Lord. Maybe I'll even join a men's breakfast group. Do you think that would appease him? Is that what God wants? Let's let Micah answer the question for us.

"No, O people, the Lord has already told you what is good, and this is what he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

Do you want to make God happy? Do you want to know what he wants in place of your money or gifts or offerings? He wants your heart. Your life. Your mercy toward others. Your humility before his throne. God wants from you the same thing that he gives to you. He pours himself out for us, and he wants us to pour ourselves out for others.

He gives unconditional love, and he wants us to selflessly love others. He walks with us, and he wants us to walk with him.

God doesn't want to break your bank; he wants to have your heart. He doesn't want your gifts, he wants you. God doesn't need a present, he wants devotion. And that's something that each of us have to give.

Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Children are wonderful

The Glory of Children

"Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers" (Prov. 17:6).

One of the greatest incentives for godly living by fathers and grandfathers is the example set for one's children and grandchildren, that they may indeed "glory" in their parents, and desire to follow in their footsteps, especially with reference to their moral and spiritual example.

It is one of the joys of fatherhood not only to have children but, Lord willing, to see one's grandchildren as well. Most honorable men will also work hard to be able to leave an inheritance to their children first of all and, through them, to their grandchildren. "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children" (Prov. 13:22).

Depending on circumstances beyond his control, it may not be possible to leave a significant material estate to his descendants. Therefore, such promises as these must ultimately be understood in the spiritual sense. Even a poor man can leave a goodly inheritance—an inheritance of love and concern and a godly life. The greatest of all the gifts that one should try to pass on to his children, of course, is to lead them, by witness and example, to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, for that heirloom will last forever.

Even men who are childless in the physical sense can have spiritual children as they witness for Christ in word and deed. Paul, for example, could call Timothy "my dearly beloved son" (2 Tim. 1:2), and he could remind the believers at Corinth that "I have begotten you through the gospel" (1 Cor. 4:15).

Then what a joy it is when someone we have led to Christ begins to lead still others to Him! These become our "children's children" in the great spiritual family of God, and such spiritual grandchildren constitute a most beautiful "crown of old men!

I am enjoying my son and daughters being here with me in South Bend this summer.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Remember the Lord's Supper Service

Coming down from a great week of Anniversary services and back to the grind of work, worship and witnessing, I was encouraged by a service our church had this past week. Because we were concluding my anniversary services on the first Sunday, it caused a problem for our normal activities.

On the first Sunday of the month, the Macedonia Church observes its Baptism and Lord's Supper Service. I had the privilege of baptizing three young people who made a profession of faith; however, I was moved by God not to observe the Lord's Supper on Sunday; before that sentence settles wrong within your system, please let me explain.

I remember when the Lord's Supper service was the most spiritual, intense and meaningful service the church ever had. It was where we learned and passed down our hymns; it was where we heard about the amazing grace of God and his providence and provisions that he has given to his people through testimonial service; it was where someone would sing a impromptu verse of "Just Another day that the Lord has kept me.....; it was where the mothers of the church would get happy and the Spirit of God had free reign. not to mention we sang hymns we don't normally sing such as At The Cross, Because He Lives, I know it was the Blood, just to name a few.

However the Lord's Supper service in the modern church does not have the same power and punch that it used to. In the older church, this service was a stand alone service. WE DID NOTHING ELSE BUT THIS. No distractions, no diversions, nothing but the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was highlighted.

Now this service is either in between our two or three morning services or is on the back end of Sunday Morning service. It has a time limit. There is not time to linger over words, free praise as you reflect in the goodness of God; testimonial service is almost an unheard of concept because we have to get this done and out of the way. Got to get ready for morning worship! Got to get ready for our afternoon service! Got to get out of church as we have been in here too long!

I was moved by God to quit fitting the Communion service in. Quit half doing it. This is our chance to remember the most magnificent gift ever given to us. SALVATION. Jesus gave his life, he died on the cross in our place, He was buried in an borrowed grave, He stayed there all night Friday and Saturday and early Sunday morning He got up with all power in His Hand.

Certainly He deserves more than 15 or 30 minutes. Certainly He deserves more concentration than just a duty or obligation that we punch on our religious check list of observations that have no power, no meaning, no transformation but rather just another religious ceremony. It should mean more than that.

It was in this service I learned, there is no talking in church, no gum-chewing, no sleeping, no playing, no texting, no horse play, JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS!

I wonder what our young people see now when they see us observe the Lord's Supper!

With that said, I no longer wanted to be a part of the system that only gives God a part and not all. A system where we try and fit God in our time instead of saying however long you need Lord is OK with me. A system that sees this as a religious ceremony instead of a worship experience. There should be crying, shouting, singing, dancing, worship and praise whenever we think of what God has done for us and it shouldn't be on a time schedule, a clock or metered out for comfort.

Therefore, I was moved not to observe the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday but I moved it to Wednesday night. A stand alone service. I recognize I am a rebel because the Bible Says the Lord's Supper should be observed on the First Sunday or at least that is what someone tried to tell me until I asked for Scripture and Verse and then it turned into I was taught that, etc.

What I would like to encourage someone reading this is this, I took a risk and a chance following God. Everyone didn't like it or agree with. FOLLOWING GOD COMPLETELY WILL NOT ALWAYS MAKE YOU POPULAR.

We started our service at 7:30pm and didn't actually observe the taking of the bread and wine until almost 8:45pm because the Spirit of God had free reign. People shared, people testified, people sang without a praise leader, praise team, choir or organ and we all left here refreshed and energized because we put God as the Main attraction and not a side appetizer.

Communion is too important to be rushed through, hurried by and treated as an inconvenience. Christ died for us, it is about time through our actions within the local church we start living for Him.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Third Annual Pastor's Appreciation Service

How can I say thanks For the things You have done for me, Things so undeserved, Yet You gave to prove Your love for me. The voices of a million angels Could not express my gratitude .All that I am and ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee. To God be the glory, To God be the glory, To God be the glory, For the things He has done. With His blood He has saved me, With His power He has raised me, To God be the glory, For the things He has done.© 1971, Andrae Crouch

Just as Paul said it to the people he loved in Philippians 1:3, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God”, so do I say it to you and our church family at Macedonia, Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. I have been blessed with a wonderful congregation of God-fearing people who are kind and caring.

It was a joy hearing you share, as well as reading your words of appreciation in cards and letters. Your encouragement means more than you will ever know to me and my family and I want you to know that I consider it a high honor to serve here at the Macedonia Church as your Pastor.

Special thanks to all the members of the Pastor’s Appreciation Committee who embodied through their service the spirit that was demonstrated by the workers in Mark 2:1-12 who showed us the power of people who work together for the greater good.

To the Chairpersons of the committee who are the right mix of strength and submission; who know when to push the Pastor and when to pray for the pastor, I will forever be grateful to you. I realize what you do is a labor of love so I pray that everything you lost in time, energy and resources by heading this committee, God will give back to you in abundance.

To all of the Pastors who came this week to pour into our church what God placed in your heart, I am grateful and remain steadfast in my resolve to work with you to make our city what God would have it to be. Please know my heart as a Pastor is, “IF I CAN’T HELP YOU, I PROMISE I WILL NEVER HURT YOU”.

To Bishop Alford, Pastor Hardy Williams, Pastor Andre A, McGhee and Pastor K.D. Witherspoon, I acknowledge a Pastor’s calendar is very busy especially for preachers of your caliber, so for you to find time within your preaching itinerary to come over and bless our church is an encouragement to me so deep I cannot explain. May God bless and keep you is my prayer.
Finally to the greatest people in South Bend who worship at 1862 N. Olive Street, thank you for allowing me to be your Pastor. Thank you for being patience with me as I grow in Christ. Thank you for following me as I follow Christ understanding that obedience does not require understanding. When God tells us to move we must move, so thank you for keeping your eyes on Jesus as Christ is the head of the church.

A party of pioneers on the Oregon Trail suffered for weeks from a scarcity of water and grass for their animals. Most of the wagons had broken down, causing endless delays in the stifling heat. A feeling of fretfulness and futility prevailed. Optimism and cheer were gone. Courage was in limited supply.

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 hear my mother saying to me:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.