Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Be careful what you Choose to Carry

I was getting ready for the snow that was predicted by the forecasters to come in to the South Bend area on yesterday. Anywhere from 4 to 8 inches, then 2 to 4, then a coating to 2 inches, Ultimately we received NOTHING. A line/curtain almost like a buffer protected South Bend where we received nothing but just 8 exits down from my home, in Elkhart, they received 10 inches. Amazing! I will talk about that later.

As I was getting ready for the snow THAT NEVER CAME, I reviewed my property. New Gloves for my son, new boots, pulled out the Dickie's, bought the rock salt for home and reviewed where the church stood on its supply. The Shovels, and I remembered.

Last year, during the first week of January we received a massive snow total of about 36 to 38 inches of snow that fell within a 24 hour period. The grace of God allowed it to come in waves so we dug out from the first 18 inches and made room for the next 18. The men of Macedonia on Saturday night came to the church to clean out the parking lot. armed with shovels, snow plows, bobcats and snow blowers, we started digging.

As I worked with the men, I encountered a reality I will never forget. WET SNOW IS HEAVY! 38 INCHES OF WET SNOW IS UNBEARABLE. IT WILL BREAK YOU.

I had the ability to lift the snow, that would be my own strength. I had the capacity to hold the snow, that would be the utensil I was using to hold it, but I did not have the power to bear the load of the snow, therefore, the shovel folded under the pressure or weight of the snow.

The Before and After shot I provided gives us today a great object lesson to view our own lives. many of us are trying to "LIFT OUR OWN SNOW"! We have discovered it is wet, it is heavy. We are naive so we ignore that this same "SNOW" has ripped down power lines, this same SNOW has destroyed branches and trees that have stood for years. So we lift it!

We use whatever device we have to lift it. The shovel, if you will, is how we pick it up. We use the shovel of "Family obligation", it's my job to do it, we use the "Work obligation", It has to be done so its my job to do it. We find whatever reason we have to in order to lift it. AND WE DO, WE LIFT IT.

Then it happens, We snap. We break, We fold, We give into the weight, the pressure, the amount, WE CAN"T TAKE IT ANYMORE! We had the strength to lift it and the capacity to hold it but we didn't possess the power to bear it, so WE LOST IT! Has this ever happened to you?

The day where you had enough, the day where you snapped, lost it, folded in. People thought you were crazy because they had no idea how much you were trying to bear. Sick of family, sick of church responsibilities, sick of bills, sick of the phone and then just one more ounce of snow on your shovel and you folded, bent in two, caved and crashed in.

For some of us we went off, Told people off, gave them a piece of our mind, said words we shouldn't have said, for others you turned your phone off, unplugged from the viral worlds of facebook and Twitter to jump in a bed not wanting to return, while others found clothes, food, alcohol, sinful relationships to handle their inability to carry the weight.

It is sad really. If I would have read the instructions on this shovel I would have known in advance what its load capacity was. Load capacity is a specified amount of weight per square foot that is allowed to be placed on a given building level or platform.

There are just some things God never meant for you to carry because IT IS TOO HEAVY FOR YOU. It will break you, it will fold you, it will make you cave in, it isn't within the guideline of you load capacity. Therefore God tells us this:

Psalms 55:22 (NIV) Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

I Peter 5:7 (BBE) Putting all your troubles on him, for he takes care of you

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Change the way you count

A minister's wife and worship leader used to lead the congregation in that old song, "Count Your Blessings." When the congregation got to the part where it would sing, "Count your blessings, name them one by one/Count your blessings, see what God hath done," she would say, "One is not enough. Let's count them by twos." The congregation would sing, "Count your blessings, name them two by two/Count your blessings, see what God can do." She would then go on, "Let's count them by threes."

The crowd would sing, "Count your blessings, name them three by three/Count your blessings, many more there'll be." You guessed it. She would take them on to fours, "Count your blessings, name them four by four/Count your blessings, there'll be many more." No telling what the song writer thought about that, but I think she had it right.

I think it is time to change how we think. God's blessings are too numerous to count by ones. He woke me up this morning, but that implies that he kept me safe last night, that implies I had shelter, which reminds me I had a place to stay, which means bills were paid, which means money was given to provide a way for me.

I made it to work this morning safely, which implies he gave me safety, he gave me transportation from point A to point B, when I turned the key the ignition started, the keys to the church hadn't been changed on me, no theft, robbery or fire befell the building where we worship.

Change how you think. One blessing ties to another and gives you pore pause and power to praise God.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Begging to Be a Blessing

On Sunday we kicked off our 2011 Advent Sermon Series, WE ARE GIVERS! Because the Lord has given unto us, we give to others out of the gift that we have received. We dealt with II Corinthians 8:1-9 although we only made it to verse 6 and entitled it Begging to Be a Blessing. It is our goal during this advent season to share more in this forum, the reason why we are givers, the requirements of a giver and the rewards of giving.

At our church we have a slogan that the Lord gave me from the first Sermon I preached at Macedonia from Acts 16, where I challenged the church by asking them "Do you Know who you are? The answer from that sermon formed our phrase, WE ARE MACEDONIA AND WE ARE CALLED TO HELP SOMEBODY. Many "city" theologians and "cross-town" pastors immediately took our church to task saying your Pastor has wrongly interpreted this Scripture. You are the place that needed help.

As I explained in teaching to the church, all of us have a beginning, a middle and an end. The Macedonia vision was the beginning, Paul sees a man, crying and calling for Paul to Come over and help us. This is the beginning but this is not the end of Macedonia. The churches birthed from Paul's obedience to the call from this Macedonia region become known as some of the greatest churches in the New Testament.

The Macedonians (mainly the churches from Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea) become our example of people who beg Paul and Titus to allow them the chance to be a blessing in someone else's life. They remind us it is impossible to be a Christian without being a giver. The apostle is about to cover the matter of raising funds for the Christians in the city of Jerusalem.

The Corinthians were not in the dark about this issue, so the apostle reminds them of his earlier instructions and gives them further details. This issue was not only addressed with Corinth, but also with the other churches in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece. This concern was brought up with the churches in Galatia (1 Corinthians 16:1) and Rome (Romans 15:25-26).

Why was Paul raising funds for the Jerusalem church? As the church continued to grow, it became overwhelmed by all the needs and was not able to keep up. Paul recognized the needs of the Jerusalem believers and determined to take up a collection for this church from the churches of Asia Minor and Europe. He also sought by raising these funds, to strengthen the spiritual bond between those largely Gentile congregations and the Jewish church in Jerusalem. The apostle knew that the love offering would serve to ease the suspicion, bitterness, and hostility with which Jews and Gentiles generally regarded each other.

The financial support would demonstrate the unity and oneness of Christians, the relationship we have as brothers and sisters in Christ, and that the Lord did break down the wall between Jews and Gentiles.

Paul needed the Corinthians to know how the Macedonian Christians were such a great blessing and how God's grace had transformed their lives. He used their example to challenge and be a model to the Corinthian church. He was trying to show this church at Corinth what God could do through them and how they could be a blessing to the Lord and others.

To ensure that one church doesn't get jealous of another church, Paul is quick to point out to the Corinthian church how the Macedonia church was able to do this giving. IT WAS GRACE. The riches of God's grace had been poured out on them, and then they in turn poured out what they had on others.

The grace of giving is what this section is all about. The word charis ("grace") occurs eight times in chapters 8-9. In fact, charis occurs five times in 8:1-9: in verse 1, "the grace," ten charin; verse 4, "the favor," ten charin; verse 6, "this act of grace," ten charin; verse 7, "this act of grace," ten chariti; and verse 9, "the grace," ten charin. Paul's teaching on giving is a sermon on grace from beginning to end.

Concerning the grace among the Macedonians, "We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part" (vv. 1, 2).

The Macedonian churches that Paul was using as an example had experienced severe difficulties, and yet they had given generously. They had not simply gone through "affliction"; they had experienced a "great trial of affliction" (2 Cor. 8:2). They were in deep poverty, which means "rock-bottom destitution." The word describes a beggar who has absolutely nothing and has no hope of getting anything.

But their circumstances did not hinder them from giving. In fact, they gave joyfully and liberally! No computer could analyze this amazing formula: great affliction and deep poverty plus grace = abundant joy and abounding liberality!

That was Heaven's stewardship program—the genesis of the grace of giving—and it is the pattern for us. Giving is a matter of grace from beginning to end. Christ gave himself for us. We receive his grace, and then we give ourselves to him and to others in his name. This response to grace includes giving what we have. That is how the Macedonians gave out of their poverty with great liberality. And that is how we give out of our affluence. It is the same.

First sermon out the chute, lots to cover, hopefully the blog this week will help me condense.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

I am Thankful

....the taxes I pay .... because it means I’m employed.

....the clothes that fit a little too snug ....because it means I have enough to eat. shadow who watches me work ....because it means I am out in the sunshine.

....a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and ....gutters that need fixing ....because it means I have a home.

....the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot ....because it means I am capable of walking. huge heating bill ....because it means I am warm.

....all the complaining I hear about our government ....because it means we have freedom of speech.

....the lady behind me in church who sings off key. ....because it means that I can hear.

....the piles of laundry and ironing ....because it means my loved ones are nearby.

....the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours ....because it means that I’m alive.

....weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day ....because it means I have been productive.

....Deacons with no vision and and no vitality....because it reminds me why I am a Pastor

....Church mothers who remind me constantly I need a wife....because it means someone is praying for my destiny

....Dressing, Sweet Potato Pie, Mac and Cheese, Ham Turkey and Brisket, Pound Cake and cookies....Because it must mean I am home.

The art of thanksliving. It is gratitude in action. Find a reason to be thankful

Thursday, November 10, 2011

86th Church Anniversary Celebration

The Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church comes together to Praise God for His Providence, His Protection and His Provisions that have allowed our Church Family to make it 86 years. Through Wars, Depression, Racism, Poverty, Discrimination, even through the storm and the rain, somehow someway WE MADE IT.

Our Church has the unique honor of being able to reach back and celebrate its history by honoring its former Pastors that are still alive. Rev. Anthony R. Pettus Sr., Pastor of the Greater Progressive baptist Church in Ft. Wayne, Indiana will be our Sunday Morning Speaker.

Rev. Carlos D. Williams, Pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle Church Family from Flint, Michigan will be our 5:00pm speaker. Both of these men are former Pastors of the Macedonia Church and are great preachers in their own right.

We look forward to God blessing us as we celebrate Pastors and People who have by the Power of God helped produce this great place know as Macedonia