Thursday, November 29, 2012

Redemption, Ephesians 1:3-14

"In him we have redemption through his blood" Ephesians 1:7

 What does this mean?

A story which has captured and informed young imaginations for years is helpful here. In a city on the shore of a great lake lived a small boy who loved the water and sailing. So deep was his fascination that he, with the help of his father, spent months making a beautiful model boat, which he began to sail at the water's edge. One day a sudden gust of wind caught the tiny boat and carried it far out into the lake and out of sight. Distraught, the boy returned home inconsolable.

Day after day he would walk the shores in search of his treasure, but always in vain. Then one day as he was walking through town he saw his beautiful boat—in a store window! He approached the proprietor and announced his ownership, only to be told that it was not his, for the owner had paid a local fisherman good money for the boat. If the boy wanted the boat, he would have to pay the price. And so the lad set himself to work doing anything and everything until finally he returned to the store with the money.

At last, holding his precious boat in his arms, he said with great joy, "You are twice mine now—because I made you, and because I bought you."

Just so! Redemption is payment of a price or ransom. The price was Christ's own blood, and the object was our souls. All humanity was in the slave market of sin and thus powerless to affect self-deliverance, but Christ has purchased his Church with an infinite price as the Scriptures repeatedly attest:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

[Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12b)

[Jesus came] "to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weathering the Storm, Acts 27:33-44, Sunday School Lesson

Section Six.
Expository Notes on Paul's Message to His Shipmates

And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea (vv. 33-38).

Paul's Great Wisdom Revealing Concern

It has often been claimed that some people are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly use! That was not true of Paul. He knew his companions had been without nourishment for two weeks and that their bodies were incapable of handling the difficult tasks ahead. It would not be easy to control their drifting vessel; one small error might be fatal. Each individual would need strength to play his part in any landing operation. With infinite concern he looked at the crewmen, many of whom were heathens, and loved them as though they had been his brethren. He knew they were people for whom Christ died; they were as sheep without a shepherd! Therefore, he said, "Take some meat: for this is for your health" (v. 34).

Paul's Gentle Words Restoring Confidence

"For there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you" (v. 34). Even the centurion must have been amazed when he looked into the face of his prisoner and heard his assuring words. Paul never had any doubts about the outcome of the voyage; he was aware of each and every detail connected with the fate of the ship and its crew. He possessed no visible gods—idols—as did they, and yet somehow he manifested that his God was with him every moment of every day. There had been no need to question his judgment, for what he predicted came to pass. During fourteen days of unprecedented anguish they had been confronted by the possibility of imminent death and had been terrified; yet Paul had no fear. He was assured that, if he died, his eternal destiny would never be in doubt; if he lived, his God would continue to guide him. This was astonishing to any Roman. Soldiers were accustomed to death and faced it in every battle, but it was easier to die fighting than it was to remain calm in a storm when human efforts were useless. The anxious men looked at Paul and became aware of the presence of Another!

Paul's Gracious Witness Regarding Confession

"And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat" (vv. 35-36). It would be nice to know if they understood the significance of Paul's action. Very carefully, Paul held the bread and prayed. It was so natural that the men might have been excused if they stared at their companion. He was actually speaking with his God! Then, when Paul ceased praying, he broke the bread as though he were officiating at a communion service. As a result, suddenly the creaking vessel became a cathedral where even the sounds of the storm seemed to be celestial music. "Then were they all of good cheer" (v. 36). Perhaps the food was in short supply, for doubtless most of it had been mined by the water that seeped into every part of the vessel. Was there enough to satisfy all? Somebody counted the number of people on board, and the total figure came to two hundred seventy-six. When this was known, the food was divided among them. Evidently there was enough to satisfy all, for Luke was able to report, "And when they had eaten enough! they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea" (v. 38).

Paul's Glorious Work Requiring Carefulness

Evidently, Paul took command of the ship. He had experience of such matters, for he had been shipwrecked on three previous occasions, and had been adrift on the ocean for a night and a day (see 2 Corinthians 11:25). He knew there would be no chance of bringing the vessel alongside a dock. Therefore the ship would have to be beached, which was a very difficult task. Every sailor would need to be ready for emergencies and doubtless, in the hours preceding the dawn, was reminded of what he was expected to accomplish. It would be necessary to make the vessel as light as possible so that it would glide over submerged rocks, since the closer to the shore the vessel could approach, escape would be that much easier. When this was understood by everyone, together they threw their cargo into the sea. Each object that could be moved was thrown away; and, when this had been done, the men waited for the dawn.

Section Seven.
Expository Notes on the End of the Voyage

And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinderpart was broken with the violence of the waves. And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land. And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land (vv. 39-44).

A Frightening Possibility

As the light increased on that memorable morning, the sailors looked through the pouring rain to try to recognize any landmark by which to ascertain their position. The beach that lay ahead was seven miles from the main harbor of the island of Melita (Malta). Through the rain and fog, the men saw the outline of the coast, a headland that ran down to a beach; this seemed to offer their best chance of getting ashore. If somehow they could run their ship aground on that beach, it would not be too difficult to proceed through the pounding surf and reach safety. The torrential rain (28:2) and spray from the relentless surf made visibility almost impossible so that they had no knowledge of what awaited them. Obviously, since the ship would not last much longer, whatever had to be done had to be done quickly. It was therefore decided to take advantage of the winds and beach the vessel.

A Feverish Preparation

The men hurriedly, but carefully, attended to three important de-mils. (1) They cut away the anchors, which had been cast out of the ship. The Greek word perielontesmeans "to cut away," and this signified that the men cut the ropes, leaving their anchors in the sea. (2) They loosed the rudder bands. Ancient ships were steered by two paddles, one on either side of the vessel. The ancients had a contraption by which these could be lifted out of the sea when the ship was in port. Lifting the paddles protected them from damage by anchor chains. Throughout the terrible storm when steering had been impossible, these paddles had been secured to the sides of the ship. Now that there was a possibility of using them again, they were lowered into the sea. (3) The men "hoisted up the mainsail to the wind" (v. 40). This was actually the foresail, which was a smaller sail that had escaped damage in the storm. Thus, with every man waiting to perform his allotted duties, and with the wind filling the sail and propelling the vessel, the crew did their best to reach the shoreline.

A Foolish Purpose

"And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, but the hinderpart was broken with the violence of the waves" (v. 41). Today, the guides on the island of Malta proudly escort tourists to the site of the ancient shipwreck. They point out the island of Salmone; as well as the deep channel that separates it from the mainland. They explain the force of the current which, when rushing toward the ocean, makes a disturbance that Luke described as a place "where two seas met." Jamieson, Faussett and Brown, the noted commentators, quoting from th writings of Smith, supply an interesting paragraph. "The rocks of Malta disintegrate into extremely minute particles of sand and clay, which, when acted upon by the currents, or surface agitation, form a deposit of tenacious clay; but, in still waters, where the causes do not act, mud is formed; but it is only in creeks, where there are no currents, and at such a depth as to be undisturbed by the waves, that a creek, with such a bottom, would strike mud, graduating into fast, while the stern was exposed to the force of the waves." (The Bethany Parallel Commentary of the New Testament, p. 875.)

Caught in the very turbulent waters "where two seas met," the ship became uncontrollable. Thus, realizing they could not follow their plan, the men ran their vessel aground, "and the forepart stuck fast." It was then that a new emergency arose. The soldiers drew their swords and prepared to kill their prisoners. Roman law stated that, if a soldier permitted a prisoner to escape, his own life should be forfeited, or at least whatever sentence would have been passed on the criminal would be given to the soldier. The fear of execution frightened the Romans so that selfishly they planned to save themselves from future prosecution. Had they been permitted to carry out their plans, one of the greatest stories in history would have been ruined by a senseless massacre. "But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose" (v. 43). He knew, as others should have known, that they owed their lives to the courageous Paul, who alone had remained calm when the lives of all were being threatened.

A Favorable Plan

The shore was now only a few yards away. Even though the terrible surf and its undertow presented problems, escape was now possible. It was a case of each man for himself. Obviously, the bands of the prisoners had been unloosed; their chains had been removed. Men able to swim were given the chance to reach the beach. Others who could not swim were advised to cling tenaciously to any plank or wreckage. Swimming was an essential part of the training of Roman soldiers, so they were probably the first to enter the water. By this time, the pounding, shattering waves were smashing the ship. Since the planks were being broken from the vessel, it was obvious that within minutes the ship would go to pieces. With a prayer on their lips and anxiety in their hearts, the rest of the men committed themselves to the water. God assisted them, for Luke was able to write: "And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land" (v. 44).

Ivor Powell Commentaries - Ivor Powell Commentaries – Amazing Acts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Late Sunday Morning Rewind 11/04/12

We were blessed by an abundance of God's grace and favor this weekend as He showed His gifts on us lavishly this Saturday and Sunday. We kicked off our 87th Church Anniversary Celebration with our Annual Musical on Saturday. Our Macedonia Gospel Choir was the featured choir and we celebrated with many other vocalists throughout the State of Indiana.

We are blessed with an exceptional Minister of Music, Brother Javon Lewis is an anointed musician who works with the Pastor to set an atmosphere that would be pleasing to God and conducive to worship. Thank you to all of the musicians, vocalists, sound technicians and MC's that helped usher in the Power of God. Special Thanks to the best members anywhere and that would be the members of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Choir.

Side Note: I am still working on my song, maybe next musical.

Sunday morning, I was eager to preach still fresh from the spiritual high of Saturday night. We continued our look into I Kings 17 concentrating on vs 7. 1 Kings 17:7 (ESV) 7  And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. We talked about "The Blessing found in a Dried Up Brook".

Admittedly at first, I had a hostile crowd by facial expressions because no one wanted to hear how God can bless you in a dried up situation. I had to be honest in preaching that I was going against the current of most popular thinking on TV, Radio, or the Best seller Christian Inspiration Book market. These avenues seem to suggest that if you are in the will of God, walking in the way of God, you will have nothing but Sunny days and Clear skies.

I contend that if we keep living, everyone will have an "AND IT CAME TO PASS DAY (KJV) or an AND AFTER A WHILE (ESV) MOMENT. Live long enough and what you have became used to will begin to fade away. Job, Income, Health, Marriage, Support, Strength, it all can dry up.

Dried Brooks are not Accidental Assignments but rather they are Arranged Appointments!

In this text, Elijah's dried brook is not a sign of God's displeasure or disapproval over choices he has made but rather it was appointed by God.
1 Kings 17:2-5 (ESV) 2  And the word of the Lord came to him:
3  “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.
4  You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
5  So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan.
Elijah was in the ordered, orchestrated and ordained place that God had for Elijah. It was God's will for Elijah to pass through this Dry Brook to teach him the Blessing Found in a Dried up Brook.

It would be a good place for me to say that we all must go this way. God has place that each of His children must pass through. He has a university, a training experience, for each of those He intends to use. What I am trying to communicate is the truth that before God can use His servants, He must train them. Before He can use us greatly before men, He must first break us before Himself.

I hear A.W. Tozer through Charles Swindoll through A. Glenn Woodberry say "Before God can use a man greatly he must first hurt him deeply. Dried Brooks hurt. When that person that you though you could count on dries up on you, it hurts; when that job that seems so promising fades away and dries up, it hurts, when the strength of your youth is diminished by the age of time, it hurts but there is still a blessing in a dried up brook.

Dried up Brooks teach us to Trust the SOURCE and not our SUPPLY!

The better way of saying what I just said is we need to learn how to trust the GIVER and not the GIFTS. Many of us are consumed by the supply. We watch the supply, we monitor the supply, we brag about our supply. We pray for God to increase our supply. Heaven forbid, the supply runs low and we start panicking but sometimes God has to teach us How to look at the Source.

Supply is finance but the Source owns the cattle on a thousand hills
Supply is health but the Source is a healer that can heal all your diseases
Supply is friends but the Source is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother

Whatever I need, God is, because He is the Source. It doesn't matter what the SUPPLY looks like, as long as I am looking at the SOURCE
The Songwriter helps me here: God is the joy and the strength of my life, He moves all pain, misery, and strife. He promised to keep me, never to leave me. He's never ever come short of His word. I've got to fast and pray, stay in His narrow way, I've got to keep my life clean everyday; I want to go with Him when He comes back, I've come to far and I'll never turn back, GOD IS, GOD IS MY ALL AND ALL

Let me also say Thank you to a wonderful church as we collected an offering on behalf of the victims affected by Hurricane Sandy. We partnered with our National Baptist Convention, USA Inc, Disaster Management office, and the Director Randy G. Vaughn.

As I reminded our church Sunday, in the Bible the people of Macedonia weren't the biggest or had the most money to give but when it came time to help the home church, they begged to participate in the offering. We try and teach that at out church through our motto: WE ARE MACEDONIA AND WE ARE CALLED TO HELP SOMEBODY.

For a spur of the moment, no advance notice offering, I am proud we raised over 1,000 with money still coming in. I am even more proud to say the people didn't rob their tithes to pay in this offering. God be praised.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday morning Rewind 10/28/2012

We had a great time in service at Macedonia on Sunday. I was excited to be back in the pulpit preaching as I have been off the past two weeks. Two Sundays ago, we celebrated our Annual Seniors Day and Rev Lawrence Levine from the Bethlehem Church preached and last Sunday was Ordination Sunday and Rev. Edward Denny III preached before we ordained him Sunday evening. Both men did an excellent job.

Two weeks out of the pulpit caused me to be a little off rhythm and not as tight as I would have liked with my delivery but the Lord helped me stumble through. We started a four week look into I Kings 17.

1 Kings 17:4 (ESV)
4  You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
Our overall look was vs 1-6 with the specific look into verse 4. I am amazed listening to members comment on not knowing the will of God: what it is, what it looks like, what it means for their life, not knowing how to find it. People seem to think it is this magical, mystical, mysterious place that only the super holy, Jesus junior people can obtain.

I am not smart like most preachers but vs 4 made me shout all day Sunday and still makes me shout now because it explains the will of God, the way of God and the work of God all in one verse. The will of God is found THERE!

I passed over that word all week in studying. THERE. Saturday, while cleaning it hit me, THERE is where God's will is for you. Are you where God wants you? You may ask, Where is that Pastor? There is wherever God tells you to be, for Noah "There" is an ark, For Daniel "There" is a lion's den, for Ruth, "There" is Naomi's God and Boaz' field, for Jesus, "There" is a cross.

The unique thing about "There" is you can't fully realize your provision or your potential until God does some preparation on your life. God can't pour some things into your life until he has cut some things out of your life. Some things block your blessings from showing up so God has to cut some things away in order to make room for the blessings he has for you.

God sends Elijah to Cherith. Cherith means "a cutting place." God had this in store for Elijah. God puts us through those cutting times to prepare us for future service. Cherith comes before the Mt. Carmel's of our life. The cross comes before the crown. Trials come before blessings. At Cherith Brook God will cut off the rough edges of Elijah's life. Cherith was the place of loneliness, uncertainty, waiting, and hardship. God uses these elements to develop our character and knock off our rough edges.

Cherith teaches us that wherever He leads us, He provides for us!

Now that the preparatory work has been done, God can begin to provide and He used a brook and a bird to bless Elijah's life. God used the lowest form of each of these elements to achieve this blessing. God doesn't use an ocean, Sea, lake, pond, river, stream or a creek! HE USES THE LEAST COMMON DENOMINATOR--A BROOK AND A BLACKBIRD!

God doesn't need to use great things in order to accomplish great blessings because whatever He touches and whatever He uses becomes great.

Cherith teaches us God uses ordinary events to achieve extraordinary results!

Brooks are nor planned events or intentional phenomenons, they are accidental adventures of the water system. Brooks are the most shallow of water surfaces providing the least amount of water possible from any water source. Because they are accidental offshoots of the overflow from the water system, they are unpredictable to where they will show up and how long they will last.

It shouted me when I realized that Man's or Nature's accident is God's providence. He arranged Elijah to be in the right place at the right time to receive a "purposed, providentially arranged, so-called accidental blessing".

A raven is a naturally selfish animal that won't even provide for its own children, Job 38:41. Ravens were considered bad omens. They were believed to be the messengers of tragedy or death.They are fierce birds, picking out the eyes of men or animals and mauling the sick and dying. Their fierceness fashioned one of our most forceful English words... "ravenous." As fierce as they are, God used these birds to meet Elijah's needs.

It shouted me when I realized the bird that was blessing Elijah should have, by nature, been attacking Elijah. Sitting by the brook, the raven should have looked at Elijah as a potential food source. Ravens attack the sick and injured but God changed the DNA of the Raven and instead of looking at Elijah as a food source, the raven saw Elijah as the person God said to supply.

As you can tell, two weeks out of the pulpit had me too long and not tight enough in flow from idea to idea but one final thought ran through my mind, "If God could use an accidental brook and an adversarial bird, what could he do if we gave him an able body?


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Keep on Keeping On

There is a Chase commercial that I have seen countless times but for some reason it arrested my attention this morning. The ad details Chase's new quick deposit function of their mobile app. It features a man sitting in a chair, who then puts one a coat and hat as if he's going to take his check to the bank, but instead decides to make use of the Chase app. He snaps a shot of the check and sends it to Chase.

I am sure I am supposed to be impressed by this capability but that's not what rung my bell today. It was the song behind the commercial. "Keep on Keeping On"! I hear those words today. What does that mean to Keep on Keeping On?

A snail was going up an apple tree. A worm came out of the crevice of that apple tree and said to that snail, "No need going up there. There are no apples left up there." The snail said, "There'll be some when I get there." We just need to keep on keeping on, just day by day, week after week enduring.

It gave me hope for today, keep pushing, keep making it, keep preaching, my blessing may not be here yet but by the time I get to where I am going, it will be waiting on me.

Not much, but it hoped me today!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Courage to Speak, Acts 6:8--7:2a, Sunday School Lesson

In our Sunday School lesson this week, we are moving to our second unit which will ask the question "Who Understands Faith" moving out of the unit where we just discussed "What Faith is"?

Why is this transition necessary? When you began to understand what faith is, you should also learn what faith does? Right living ought to turn into right doing, or when you know/learn better you ought to do better.

Throughout the ages the church has been blessed to have men of courage who not only preached the gospel but provided spiritual leadership and Christlike examples. Stephen was one of those men. God allowed and used the death of Stephen to fulfill his ultimate purpose found in Acts 1:8.

Stephen means "a crown" or "a garland." The Greek word was used for the reward given to a civic leader or to the crown of glory received by a victor in the Olympic Games.

Stephen was thus a key figure in the early history of the church. But apart from his historical role, he was significant because of his character. He was proof that the impact of a man's life and ministry has nothing necessarily to do with length. His ministry, though brief, was essential to God's plan for world evangelism. He showed that the efforts of one courageous person, though of short duration, can have far-reaching effects.

A devotional outline to Chapter 6 is:
  1. He Was Greatly Esteemed (Verses 1-7)
  2. He Was Graciously Endowed (Verse 8)
  3. He Was a Gifted Expositor (Verses 9-10)
  4. He Was a Glorious Example (Verse 11-15)
Acts 6:8-15 presents three further evidences of Stephen's spiritual nobility: his character, his courage, and his countenance.

His Character

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. (6:8)
Verse 5 described Stephen as "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit." Full both there and in verse 8 translates plērēs, which means "to be filled up." Stephen was totally controlled by faith, the Holy Spirit, grace, and power. His sermon before the Sanhedrin reveals the content of his faith.

Sadly, many Christians today could not be described as full of faith. Like the father of the demon-possessed boy healed by Jesus, their cry is "I do believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24). While trusting God for their eternal destiny, they find it difficult to trust Him with the concerns of their everyday life. Stephen, however, was not like that. He trusted God fully and concentrated on doing what God wanted him to do. The consequences he gladly left in God's hands.

Taken together, verses 5 and 8 give both the Godward and manward sides of Christian character. A man full of faith toward God, and yielded to the Spirit's control, will be gracious toward others and manifest great spiritual power.

His Courage

But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. And yet they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God." And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and dragged him away, and brought him before the Council. And they put forward false witnesses who said, "This man incessantly speaks against this holy place, and the Law; for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us." (6:9-14)
Men from all three synagogues came together and argued with Stephen. Argued is from suzēteō, which refers not to a quarrel but to a formal debate. Luke does not give us the content of the debate. Some of Stephen's arguments can be inferred from the charges brought against him (6:13-14) and his speech before the Sanhedrin.

The debate no doubt centered on the death, resurrection, and messiahship of Jesus, and the inability of the Mosaic law and temple ritual to save.
Whatever the precise issues of the debate were, Stephen won. His opponents were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Their human reasoning was no match for Stephen's God-given wisdom.

The phrase the Spirit with which he was speaking probably does not refer to the Holy Spirit but to the energy, zeal, sincerity, and fervency with which Stephen spoke. He thus had the two requirements for effective public speaking and triumphing in debate: unarguable truth and potent delivery. The impact of those two was more than his opponents could handle.

Unable to defeat Stephen in a fair debate, his opponents changed tactics. Resorting to an ad hominem argument, they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God." Secretly induced is from hupoballō and means "to suggest or prompt" with an evil motive. They recruited and coached false witnesses to accuse Stephen, the same tactic used at Jesus' trial (Matt. 26:59-61). Even the trumped-up charges of blasphemy were like those against his Lord.

His Countenance

And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel. (6:15)
This entire trumped up ordeal has been nothing but false words and accusations flying left and right. Emotions of anger and frustration are running wide open. Hatred and animosity is dripping from every word and action. All of directed toward a Spirit-filled servant of the Lord who is simply preaching Jesus and pointing men to God.

Then, all of a sudden, everyone's attention turns from what they are hearing to a sight like they have never seen. "And all that sat in the council...saw his face as it had been the face of an angel."

Doctor John Phillips suggests that after hearing all the charges and arguments that the "council" probably turned to see how Stephen was reacting to these deadly charges. And when they did, man were they surprised! It reminds us of another incident in Acts 28:1-6 where Paul was snake bit on the island of Melita and everyone looked when he should have swollen or died, but he didn't!

Much to the surprise of the council they "saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." What does an angel's face look like? Who knows? Some think this refers to a heavenly glow or brightness so brilliant they couldn't stand to look upon him. Others interpret it to means Stephen had a heavenly peace and serenity that was out of this world. 

God is being magnified in Stephen's courage to speak and His presence is all over the place. God doesn't forsake us when we courageously speak for Him. In fact, those who hear us speak will be able to sense His presence around us and upon us.

God Himself answered their false charges by putting His glory on Stephen's face—something experienced by no other person in history except Moses (Ex. 34:27-35). He thus showed His approval of Stephen's teaching in exactly the same way He did that of Moses. Paul writes,
If the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory on account of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. (2 Cor. 3:7-11)
By putting His glory on Stephen's face, God showed His approval of the New Covenant and its messenger.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pigpen Psychology

Luk 15:17And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
The prodigal son had wandered afar from home, he was in a strange land, he was in a strange place, he was doing a strange task. As he looked around he wondered how his life had came to this, he could smell the stench from the pigpen, he was famished, literally pressed to consider eating with the pigs.

As he looked around, all of his friends had left when his money was gone, those that had housed him had forsaken him, the night life had ended a long time ago. As he looked down he saw his bare feet, he saw that his clothes were full of holes, he saw the pigs, and the pigs reminded him of how low his life had sunk.

In the midst of this horrible, odorous, foul pigpen something wonderful happened, something that his father could not do for him, something that his mother's tears could not do for him. In the muck and the mire of that pigpen, the prodigal came to himself, he had a jarring experience, his mind was jolted, his memory was jolted, and his mandate to move was jolted.

Often times a father's prayer for his son to return home, gets answered in the pigpen, the pigpen can do what nothing else can do
The pigpen counseled this boy, it stirred his mind, it stroked his memory, he realized where he was, and he remembered where he used to be. The pigpen was the best psychology session that this young man would ever have, the fathers prayers were about to be answered, the boy was about to be heading home.

Often times we want God to bring our loved ones home safely, we want the prodigal to return but we ask God to take it easy on them, my friend often they need the pigpen, often they need the psychology that only a pigpen can offer them.
  1. The Pigpen Loudly Called the Prodigal
  2. The Pigpen Literally Captured the Prodigal
  3. The Pigpen Lovingly Counseled the Prodigal
  4. The Pigpen Legitimately Changed the Prodigal
The pigpen is often neglected in our prayers, but the pigpen is often needful in our progress, that is the progress of a prodigal. As we journey through life, we may drift to the pigpen, we may see our friends drift to the pigpen, always keep in mind, the pigpen done more for this prodigal than even his fathers love could do for him.

Cantrell's Jewels for the Journey.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Steadfast Thanks Hebrews 12:18-29

Mt. Sinai was the place of the publication of the old covenant and Mt. Zion was the proclamation of the new covenant of the gospel. Mt. Sinai and the old covenant represent dread and fear. But when you come to Mt. Zion, the place of the new covenant of the gospel, it represents joy and peace. Mt. Zion means that we can live in the presence of God and know him for ourselves.

Mt. Zion is a picture of the power of God over his creatures and the wrath of God against sinners. Mt. Sinai was the place to which God came to give the Law. But God did not remain there. Mt. Zion represents the gospel and God’s eternal dwelling.

Both Mt. Sinai and Mt. Zion say something to us concerning our relationship to God and the kingdom to which we belong. Mt. Sinai speaks of Israel as God’s covenant people. It is a picture of what God would do on Mt. Zion through Jesus Christ.

Mount Sinai—The Fear of the Law

For you have not come to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word should he spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned." And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I am full of fear and trembling." (12:18-21)
The Old Covenant was associated with Mount Sinai because that is where God spoke to Moses when that covenant was instituted. It was a covenant of law, and it was also a covenant of judgment and of fear. It said, "Do this, or do not do that, or you will be judged." In some cases it said, "Do not do this, or you will die." That is not the place to which the New Covenant brings us. To that mountain you have not come.

The God of Sinai is truly a God to be feared, a God of judgment and of punishment. Sinai, representing the Old Covenant, was a mountain of fear and of judgment. The writer of Hebrews is saying to his readers, "If you go back to Judaism, you are going back to a covenant of law, fear, judgment, and death." Paul described it as "the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones" (2 Cor. 3:7).

To stand at the foot of Sinai, even without touching it, is to stand under judgment and doom. It demands and it punishes. Since no man in himself can fulfill its demands, no man in himself can escape its punishment. At Sinai, sinful and unforgiven man stands before an infinitely holy and perfectly just God. Guilty, vile, and undeserving of forgiveness, he has nothing to expect from Sinai but God's condemnation. The symbols of Sinai are darkness, fire, trembling, and trumpets of judgment. For an unforgiven sinner, "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31). There is good reason to fear at the foot of Sinai.

Mount Zion—The Grace of the Gospel

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. (12:22-24)
The mountain of the New Covenant is Mount Zion, representing the heavenly Jerusalem. The opposite of Sinai, it is not touchable, but it is approachable. Sinai symbolizes law and Zion symbolizes grace. No man can be saved by the law, but any man can be saved by grace. The law confronts us with commandments, judgment, and condemnation. Grace presents us with forgiveness, atonement, and salvation.

Whereas Sinai was forbidding and terrifying, Zion is inviting and gracious Sinai is closed to all, because no one is able to please God on Sinai's terms—perfect fulfillment of the law. Zion is open to all, because Jesus Christ has met those terms and will stand in the place of anyone who will come to God through Him. Zion symbolizes the approachable God.

Sinai was covered by clouds and darkness; Zion is the city of light. "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth" (Ps. 50:2). Sinai stands for judgment and death; Zion for forgiveness and life, "for there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever" (Ps. 133:3).

In coming to Mount Zion—that is, by becoming a Christian—we come to seven other blessings: the heavenly city; the general assembly; the church of the first-born; God, the Judge of all; the spirits of righteous men made perfect; to Jesus; and to the sprinkled blood.

For every man the choice is the same. Whether we are Jew or Gentile, to try to approach God by our works is to come to Sinai and to discover that our works fall short and cannot save us. Whether we are Jew or Gentile, to trust in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ is to come to Zion, where our heavenly High Priest will mediate for us and bring us to the Father, and where we find reconciliation, peace, and eternal life. And if you have truly come to Zion and received all its blessings, it is inconceivable that you would want to hold on to Sinai in any way.

In a day of Praise songs and Praise teams, I will sound very old and antiquated to say we used to sing the hymn, “We’re Marching to Zion.” There was something encouraging and refreshing to hear the saints repeat the words, “We’re marching to Zion, beautiful beautiful Zion, We’re marching upward to Zion, that beautiful city of God.” As imperfect as God’s people may be in this age, we are still citizens of heaven. We no longer live under the fear and condemnation of God’s law. We reverentially serve our Lord under the banner of the cross with our eyes fixed toward “…mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God.”


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Steadfast Fortitude, Hebrews 12:1-11 Sunday School Mid-Week Review

Our upcoming Sunday School lesson this week will deal with Hebrews 12:1-11 where we continue our look into Biblical Faith. Faith is not hoping or wishing that something I want we will come true. Faith is Certitude, Certainty, I know and the reason why I know is because "Faith comes by Hearing and Hearing by The Word of God".

The challenge of Sunday is the lesson really deals with two different thoughts: The Race and The Relationship:. For both the Race and the Relationship, there are requirements: For today's blog, I will deal with the race.

In Hebrews 12:1-3, the writer sets before us the fact that the Christian race is no stroll or sprint. It is a long distance run which requires running with durability, running without distractions and running with determination. Some of those who would receive this letter were running the risk of dropping out because of persecution. But the Hebrew writer encouraged them to remember that the faith of their ancestors had brought them through victoriously. These Christians were also reminded to consider Jesus.

In 12:1, I believe "let us" may be used to refer to Jews who have made a profession of Christ, but have not gone all the way to full faith. They have not yet begun the Christian race, which starts with salvation—to which the writer is now calling them. The truths, however, apply primarily to Christians, who are already running.

The writer is saying, "If you are not a Christian, get in the race, because you have to enter before you can hope to win. If you are a Christian, run with endurance; don't give up." Unfortunately, many people are not even in the race, and many Christians could hardly be described as running the race at all. Some are merely jogging, some are walking slowly, and some are sitting or even lying down. Yet the biblical standard for holy living is a race, not a morning constitutional.

Race is the Greek agōn, from which we get agony. A race is not a thing of passive luxury, but is demanding, sometimes grueling and agonizing, and requires our utmost in self-discipline, determination, and perseverance.

The writer of Hebrews told the Christians to lay aside every weight. This requires self-control. Self-control requires us not only to avoid sin but it also demands the discipline to give up good things. Good things can keep us from being and doing our best for God.

The Christian race is not a "come as you are" race. It is a race that requires special preparation. Those who run effectively are those who lay aside the encumbrances and the sins which easily entangle the runner. It is important for us to understand that an encumbrance or weight is not the same thing as sin. An encumbrance or weight is a bulk or mass that may impede the progress of the runner.

Sin is missing the mark of God’s will and character. There are some things that are not outside God’s will and character, yet they may hinder our effective running of the Christian race. Weights are things that restrict activity. The weight is a burdensome load. But sin is the thing that really stops our performances. If you will notice this verse, both the weights and the sin entangle without much effort. The Hebrew writer said that the weight and sin "so easily entangle us."  Once the weights and the sin have been laid aside, the runner is ready for the race.

Nothing is more encouraging than the successful example of someone who has "done it before." The cloud of witnesses are all those faithful saints just mentioned in chapter 11. We are to run the race of faith like they did, always trusting, never giving up, no matter what the obstacles or hardships or cost.

They knew how to run the race of faith. They opposed Pharaoh, they forsook the pleasures and prerogatives of his court, they passed through the Red Sea, shouted down the walls of Jericho, conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, received back their dead by resurrection, were tortured, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, had to dress in animal skins, were made destitute—all for the sake of their faith.

Now the writer says, "You should run like they did. It can be done, if you run as they did—in faith. They ran and ran and ran, and they had less light to run by than you have. Yet they were all victorious, every one of them."

This writer is reminding his readers to be aware of those in the grandstand, but they should not focus their attention on them. He told them to keep fixing their eyes on Jesus, because Jesus once ran the same race. The Greek word translated "looking" or "fixing" (aphorao) is a word which means to look away from one thing to see another.

If the readers of this letter were watching the grandstand, they could not concentrate on the race. If they were to concentrate on the race, they needed to fix their eyes on Jesus. There are always rival attractions which seek to gain the attention of the runners, but we must keep our eyes on Jesus. Some rivals which seek our attention are; power, position, prosperity, poverty and pleasure.

Jesus is an important person if we are to successfully run the Christian race because he is the author and finisher or perfecter of faith. The word "author" (archegos) suggests one who takes the lead. The word "author" also suggests the source from which a thing proceeds. The word "finisher" or "perfecter" (teleiotes) suggests the accomplishment of the intended purpose in view. If we are to run the Christian race, it must begin, proceed and finish in Jesus.

Verse 3
“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

Because of all Christ accomplished we are urged to “consider him.” “Consider” is the Greek word analogizomai, and means “to think it over, ponder, and examine him completely and from all angles.” “Contradiction of sinners against himself” refers to the hostile treatment in both word and deed that Jesus received from the world.

This could possibly be a much needed encouragement for these young Hebrew believers who were on the receiving end of verbal and physical abuse for their new found faith. Thus, the warning, “lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” was given to encourage the readers to not grow “weary” or fatigued and worn out which would result in “fainting” or collapsing in the race.

The next time the devil tempts you to quit, “consider” Jesus. The next time your employer makes your day difficult, “consider” Jesus. The next time your employees won’t work, “consider” Jesus. The next time you’re lied about, “consider” Jesus. The next time you fail to do the Father’s will, “consider” Jesus.

I will add the relationship requirements in another blog:


Monday, September 10, 2012

In Loving Memory of Rev. Arthur Glenn Woodberry

It was the best and worst week of my life. All ranges of emotions hitting all at once, literally the high of the mountain top to the low of the valley. I was at the 131st Annual Session of our National Baptist Convention USA INC., preaching in the Moderator's Division.

To be on the National Stage doing anything is an honor but I was twice blessed to be preaching the Close out Sermon for the Thursday Session of the Moderator's Division. When I first found out about this honor, I called Pop and I remember how proud he was, the advice he gave, the things he told me NOT TO DO, the protocol to follow and the reminder that although he wouldn't be able to be there, "remember I am always there".

The Lord blessed me on that day. I came off the stage on a major high only to be hit with the news my Pastor had died. I knew this wasn't true. For one, Pop can't die. It's not possible. He survived Vietnam, he survived his own personal demons, too tough, too strong, not happening. I called to find out that people had pronounced his death before the Lord had. I was encouraged the report was wrong. Said a few curse words about Face Book and the people on it, but happy all was well.

Flying back to Chicago, Saturday Morning waiting in the Orlando Airport, I received a call that put me back in the valley. Pastor Woodberry had died. I was in shock, no time to hurt so I started calling. The last voice I heard before I boarded the plane was Kelli, strong as always.

The Lord in providence fixed it that no one was sitting in the row I was in so I just cried all the way to Chicago. Regrets, things left undone and unsaid, needless testosterone between Dads and Sons, the arrogance of a Son with the stubbornness of a Father, the smiles, laughs, sermons, advice................

Plane lands, tears stop. Time to go back into Pastor/Son mode. I have been in that mode for an entire year.......until last week. Unexplained tears, anger, frustration, HIS VOICE, all of it came back, Couldn't function this week, didn't preach Sunday, barely was "there" at church. They really didn't know. I literally was in A.Glenn mode. Just push through.

I miss him. He was a PREACHER OF PREACHERS. He told Pastors the truth in private and in public. He said the things that needed to be said but no one had the guts to say. I thank God for all the Pastors who have called me this week to check on me. No one understands, Not really, Only Preachers do. Only Preachers understand that world of relationships between Father and Sons in ministry.

I Love you Pop. I wasn't the good son, that's Dr. Ricky D. Turner, I wasn't the educated son, that's Dr. Kevin Lee, I wasn't the chosen son, that's Pastor Ray Douglas. nor am I your Nationally known successful son, that's Dr. Joe A. Carter,  don't bear your name like others........................ but there is a spite of how so many people have tried to rewrite history............................there is a son that is getting stronger everyday, a son that is starting to find his voice in God.................I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for you.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Progress Part I

I haven't been inspired much lately to write within this forum. It certainly doesn't have to do with the power and provision of God because He has still been blessing me more than I deserve. I still Pastor a great church with a great people who love and support their Pastor. I am still blessed with children who love me and call me Daddy, but lately I have been stuck in a rut.

God gives Pastors vision. What He wants His church to be, how He wants it to look, how He wants us to behave. Many times we as Pastors see this vision as the master blueprint sitting in our office or on our vision wall or it is the vision that drives our sermon preparation or teaching moments. We work tirelessly to cast this vision so that the people will catch and communicate this vision to new converts and old Christian members.

I must admit it is personally frustrating to put so much work into trying to do what God wants me to do, only to look at something that doesn't resemble the vision that God has shown me. To show me the debt can be paid off but we are still looking at it, to see a comprehensive Christian education program offering a chance for members to receive a Diploma of Christian Education through our National Convention and yet see more hurdles than finish lines, to see men and women who return to their rightly spots reclaiming the Christian Home but to look at fragmented, divided homes where people would rather play house than build a Christian home. It's frustrating.

I retreated from my normal spots of communication with God as to be honest, I just didn't want to hear it. I withdrew from sage and sound preachers who I knew would tell me to be patient and hold on. It's hard to hold on when you are losing hope everyday. However, I am grateful that when you stop talking to God, GOD DOES NOT STOP TALKING TO YOU.

The pictures I posted are how God started talking to me. This is a Golden Corral. Praise be to God, they are building this down the street from where I stay. I already have my spot, my corner, my table, my sanctuary with my green beans, chocolate cake, fish,,,,heyyyyyyyyyyyyy glory. ANYWAY.

When they started digging dirt, I didn't know what they were doing. After a while I read the article in the newspaper. Golden Corral was coming but the more they dug dirt and overturned earth, it didn't look much like a Golden Corral. Then they laid the foundation, seemed awful small, framed it, still smaller it looked to me.

As I took pics the foreman saw me. I introduced myself to him. He told me the crew knew me as the Pastor who came by and brought water to them a couple times. Hey, least I can do, they are building me my green bean sanctuary. He showed me the plans for the restaurant. The plans were in his office. I told him what I saw didn't look like what was out there now.

I love what he said to me, IN MY OFFICE IS THE FINISHED PRODUCT, WE AREN'T THERE YET. THIS IS PHASE ONE. He then took me to the meeting area where he showed me the Phase I design and sure enough it looked just like what I had seen on the outside. We build in stages. It is not an overnight process. It takes time. The foundation must be right. The plumbing, wiring ,electrical must be right and checked off on. The framing bust be built to specificity and brought to rise the right way.

It takes time. Progress takes time. Don't trash the overall vision but learn to look at what Phase you are building now, not just the overall picture. You might see more growth that way. PART ONE!!


Friday, July 27, 2012

Vacation Bible School 2012

I wanted to write this blog to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the members of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church for all of your efforts that helped to produce a successful Vacation Bible School 2012.
To explain our concept and curriculum this year, let me preface it by saying, The Macedonia Church has experienced tremendous growth in membership. It is evident in our Bible Studies, Ministries, tithes and offerings as well as our New Members Class. WHERE WE DIDN'T SEE ANY GROWTH WAS IN SUNDAY SCHOOL.

It puzzled me because the numbers where there, the people were there, the attendance was there, BUT THEY WEREN'T THERE. All good ministries should evaluate yourself from time to time to make sure what you are doing is viable and producing the desire results. We noticed our New Members class was full; we were graduating people out of the class and filling up the next class but we were losing people after the graduation.
They left the New Members Class and went to Sunday Morning Worship; they went to Evening and Noonday Bible Study; they went to ministry meetings and planning parties but they weren't going to Sunday School.
Upon further review, we discovered that many of our members didn't like the "traditional Sunday School approach of Lecture and monologue they experience in the Sunday School Class. The New Members class and teachers were more interactional with the students then our older more seasoned Sunday School teachers were.

Also we discovered many of our students preferred Topical, more relational Bible Studies than they did Systematic Bible Studies such as the Uniform Sunday School International Series. Realizing I was not going to overhaul my entire System, we decided to tweak it.
We realized you just can't fix round holed people into square peg places (and if you do, it's either too tight so they can't grow and breathe or it's too big and you swallow them up and lose them into the great abyss of church pew members.

We implemented Off The Grid Classes" for our Sunday School. Those who preferred traditional Systematic Sunday School could still attend and others who prefer more dialogue and more interaction with topics that mirror and minister to my current situation can come as well.

These classes became our curriculum for VBS 2012. Our instructors were:

Sister Angelia Forrest, "Debt-Free Living, "How to Manage Your Money Through The Word
Sister Maureen Johnson "Bible Basics 101, Taking the Fear out of Studying The Bible
Deacon Chris Dudley :Doctrine of Sin and Salvation-From Regeneration to Resurrection
Rev. Ray E. Owens Baptist Church Etiquette, BTU for the 21st Century

What an amazing time we had each night from all of our instructors who shared with us the Word of God. The participation was amazing and the attendance grew every night. I am glad we had a chance to show the ENTIRE church what our "OFF THE GRID" glasses were all about. Sometimes we are resistant to change without knowing or even giving a chance to that which we are resisting.

Let me thank our Christian Education Director, Deacon Chris Dudley for doing a wonderful job in the planning, implementing and executing of our VBS 2012.

Let me thank all of the teachers who volunteered their time and energy working with our youth, We doubled our enrollment numbers and tripled them in the ages of 6 through 12.

Let me also thank all of the kitchen workers who worked in a hot kitchen during a hot week with limited A/C but yet served our children and our adults with a gracious Spirit that showed the love of Christ and the Spirit of Macedonia. I am the better for Pastoring great workers like you.

Thank you to all the Church staff that helped with supplies, signs, syllabi, and smoothing over egos that unintentionally got hurt either by a results driven Pastor or just the accidental bruising of feelings due to constant working together.

Finally, thank you to all of our members who contributed free-will to send our children to Six Flags Great America for the close-out of our VBS. Because of your contributions ,EVERY CHILD that wanted to go was able to go.

All of this was made possible by our Deacon Emeritus, one of the Four Horsemen of our church and our former Christian Education Director, Deacon Henry Turner.

May God bless and keep you is my prayer.


Monday, July 16, 2012

It's Broke, What do I do with it Now???

With National Conventions, State Conventions, Vacation Bible Schools, Stop the Violence Campaigns and just the nature of work for Pastors in general, I have been away for a spell from my blog. Thank you to everyone who sent messages of love telling me how much they missed my blogs and inquiring of my return.

WOW!!!!!!!!!!! To all the new people who are reading and watching, great having you on board!!!!!!!!!

If anyone out there can help me, I need some advice, WHAT DO YOU DO WITH BROKE THINGS? Do you fix it????????? Do you store it away with the mindset to have it fixed later only for it to sit and collect dust until you ultimately throw it away on Big Trash Day???????? Do you do a cost assessment and analyze and determine if its worth spending the money on fixing the broke item or is it more cost effective to purchase something brand new?????????????

The political answer for handling broke things is to REDIRECT THE ISSUE!!!!

Yes it is broke, Whose fault is it for being broke. politicians rarely offer ideas on how to fix problems but they are masters at assigning blame for the current problems we face. Our economy is in a ditch, who was driving? Do you really want to trust the next four years of your life with this person behind the wheel? Assigning blame doesn't fix the problem, it just redirects it.

Man's answer to handling broke things is simple, REPLACE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's broke, get a newer model, Picture tube broke, time for a new Plasma, transmission broke, upgrade to a newer model, Quick, fast, efficient, problem solved, Replace it. I am not criticizing this method, after all, I believe in warranties, trade ins etc but many times we have replaced what could have been fixed.

Some marriages could have been saved but we decided to replace instead of rehab it
A newer model isn't always the answer
New bells and whistles look good but may not run as good as what you used to have.

Replacing is the fast, quick and efficient way to handling a problem but is it the right way???????????

The church can't replace broken people. People broken by sin, lies, divorce, debt, depression, we can't just throw them out on the curb and hope society will take it off our hands. The boy broken by his parent's divorce and starts acting out in school, we can't throw him out, the daughter starving for attention because her daddy is too busy with his job to handle his real job and be the priest of his home, we can't throw her out.

We can't wait or expect government programs to handle the problems of our times,

The church is the place where broken people with broken lives and broken agendas come in order to get fixed so.......

God's answer to handling broken things is REPAIR IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I want you to know that no matter what is broken in your life right now, God can fix it, no matter what switch doesn't work or light that no longer comes on, God can fix it. It doesn't matter how much it costs because Jesus paid it all and all to Him we owe. It's ok if you can't afford it, the bill was covered at Calvary.

God specializes in repairing broken things:

Ask Adam and Eve after the apple
Ask Moses after the day at the beach
Ask David after Bathsheba
Ask Peter after the Cock crowed three times
Ask John Mark after he ran away

That problem that I had that I just couldn't seem to solve, I tried and I tried but I kept getting deeper involved but I turned it over to Jesus, I stopped worrying about it, HE CAN HE CAN WORK IT OUT

The Church's response to God's Command to Repair it is the Ministry of Restoration, WE RESTORE IT!

We are fixers, not because we are so smart or so gifted but because we have the manual, the church has the instruction booklet on how to fix things. The Bible teaches us how to fix people that are broken"

Galatians 6:1 ESV Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

The word here for restore is a Greek word that was used to mend a bone, like a doctor would put a bone back in place to set that bone that has been broken. And, that is the ministry of reconciliation that God has given to us. Do you know someone like that? I mean, think, right now. Don't you know someone who used to be a member of this church and perhaps doesn't attend anymore? Or, don't you have someone in your family? Or, don't you have someone in your office? Or, don't you know someone in your neighborhood—someone who has been ambushed by sin?

Let me tell you what the message, today, is: If you are that person who has fallen, there's hope for you. If you're that person that has not fallen, there is a warning for you. And, whether you have fallen, or whether you have not, there is a call to action for all of us. And, the Bible says, if we're spiritual, we're to restore such a one (Galatians 6:1). Now, I've got wonderful news for you: If you have fallen, if you once walked with God, and you have fallen into sin, God is the God of a another chance.

Your failure is not Final, we don't have to put you on the curb on Big Trash Day waiting for someone to take you, God can fix you because the mandate of the church is to restore you.

Too long, I know, will get back in the swing of things and shorten.

Please Pray for me,


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

5 Secrets your Pastor Won't Share

By Thom S. Rainer , Christian Post Guest Columnist
June 4, 2012|7:53 am

By their very nature, pastors are a confidential lot. They counsel numbers of people who share their deepest secrets and problems. They know things about families that could hurt and embarrass them if they shared information freely. So pastors tend to keep secrets and confidential information well. In most cases, you can feel comfortable that your confidence will not be breached when you talk to a pastor.

But most people don't realize pastors have their own secrets. These spiritual leaders refuse to share their thoughts or pains for fear that their own ministries will be damaged.
So they keep the secrets.
And they hold the pain to themselves.
As I have spoken to pastors across the land, many have confided in me their hurts and secrets. I don't think they would mind that I share these secrets with you, as long as I don't identify them with any one pastor by name.

1. "My marriage is struggling."
Pastors are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Oftentimes family meals are interrupted by a call. A planned date with a wife is put on hold because of an emergency related to a church member. Pastors' wives sometimes wonder if their husbands are married to them or to the church. Resentment and marital fights are not uncommon.

2. "I fear my kids will grow up hating the church."
One pastor told me in tears the story of a church member criticizing the pastor's wife to the pastor in front of his 12-year-old son. The young boy went home insisting he hated the church and never wanted to return. Children are often exposed to the dark side of church life. Pastors worry that they won't recover.

3. "I let a handful of critics control me."
These pastors wish the squeaky wheel didn't always get oiled, but such is the reality in many churches. "If I ignore them (the critics), " one pastor told me, "they will make life miserable for me and my family. Sometimes it's just best to give them their way."

4. "I often have anger toward the supportive church members who don't defend me to my critics."
"It's not my critics who bother me personally," the pastor shared with me. "It's the so-called supportive members who refuse to come to my defense when I'm attacked by a critic. Going into a business meeting, one of these supporters told me how much he loved me, and how he would always have my back. Fifteen minutes later, I'm being castigated by three members who hardly ever attend church. What does my supporter do or say? Absolutely nothing. That's what really hurts."

5. "I've thought about quitting several times."
These pastors are truly called men of God. They really do love their congregations. Most of them will endure the criticisms aimed at them personally. But when supportive members really don't support them, or when family members are hurt, many pastors think about quitting. "Only one thing has stopped me from quitting," the pastor said. "It's the call of God. That's what keeps me hanging on."

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thank you God for 42 years of Life

Lord, I want to thank you for allowing me to see 42 years of life. This past year has been difficult. I witnessed many preachers/pastors that I respected go home to be with you. Many of those preachers lived better lives by nature than I do by practice. They were some of the nation's best preachers and yet I remain, I am grateful and yet don't understand.

I buried so many young people this past year who died senseless deaths due to violence fed by revenge, misplaced testosterone, lack of constructive things to do and a society who by and large ignored them, and yet I remain, I am grateful and yet don't understand.

I lost a Pastor who no one will understand what our "real" relationship was like. There is not a "spiritual son" he produced that was or will be any more like him "spiritually" then me, proud and disappointed, blessed and cursed me, loved and disliked what he produced, and yet he was my father, in spite of outsiders beliefs.......September 10,201l,,,,,,,,,,,some things went to the grave and in the grave they will remain, and yet I remain, grateful but still don't understand.

Lord, thank you for allowing me to pastor the Macedonia Church family and celebrating my 4th year. Thank you for the people you have sent my way to bless me and thank you for the people you wouldn't remove who have taught me how to pray.

Thank you for the deacons who always have to have their voice heard but never want their actions seen. Thank you for the trustees that have decided to be part of the solution instead of perpetuating the problem. Thank you for the ministry workers who tirelessly have given their best efforts to you, many times under paid under appreciated and largely ignored by the overall Church body who just assume that's what is supposed to be done.

Thank you for the Pastors who have embraced me, in the city and away, when so much drama surrounded my name this past year with the rumors circulating everywhere SPREAD MAINLY BY OTHER PASTORS, thank you for those Pastors in this city and state that kept me afloat. Thank you for Pastor K.D.Witherspoon, Andre A. McGhee, H. Gregory Haygood, L. Dalton Hall, President Issac Culver, Jr., Moderator Marion J. Johnson, Jr.,

Lord, thank you for those Pastors who have heard me preach or teach and then for whatever reason still invite me to come back and preach again, I am grateful but don't understand. Thank you for those Pastors that have invested in my life from the outset, thank you for Pastors EJ Tyson, Teron Gaddis and Dr. JA Reed Jr.,

Lord thank you for my children, Rachael, LaBraia, Raven. How they love me unconditionally is amazing to me, how gifted and talented they are is a testimony to the providence of God, How well adjusted they are in spite of what they have had to go through is proof of God's keeping power.

Lord thank you that a young man I inherited through a now failed marriage would think enough of me to tell his mom and father, he wanted to go and live with his dad. I don't understand but yet I am grateful.

Too much on my mind, too many tears starting to flow but Lord thank you for grace and mercy. That's a good place to close, all this time I have had grace and mercy. GM left me but grace and mercy didn't, people left me but grace and mercy didn't, marriage failed and people rejected me but grace and mercy didn't leave me, even when I felt like I was all alone in South Bend, I still had grace and mercy.....................................................

Lord, thank you for 42 years of life, I truly don't understand but I am grateful.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

You have to see for yourself

Every preacher that preaches on heaven tells and retells this story of a little girl who was blind and had never seen. But a surgeon believed that he could restore sight or give sight to that child. The parents were willing. They did the surgery. The eyes were bandaged. There came that time when the bandage was to be removed. Would she be able to see? They unwrapped the gauze, took those pads from those precious little eyes and the doctor said, Sweetheart, open your eyes.

This little girl opened her eyes and blinked. The first thing she saw was the face of that doctor. Then the face of a nurse, then the face of her mother. She saw a tear for the first time in her mother's eye and she said, I can see. And she looked around at the things in the room that you and I take for granted and then she went to the window and looked outside. She didn't see the grass, she saw the green grass. She didn't see the sky, she saw the blue sky. She didn't see the flowers, she saw the multi-colored flowers. She ran back to her mother, squeezed her mother, said, Mama, Mama, it's beautiful. Oh, Mama, it's beautiful.

Mama, why didn't you tell me it was so beautiful? That mother, through tears of joy, said, Sweetheart, I tried to tell you, but you had to see it for yourself.

You know, I think when we get to heaven we'll say something like that to our heavenly Father. Father, why didn't you tell us heaven was so wonderful? He'll say, Well, I tried to tell you, I took the things that you value, streets of gold, walls of jasper, gates of gold—those are just symbols of greater glory, greater things, things that eye cannot see nor ear hear nor heart conceive of what heaven is going to be like. Heaven, friend, is a place of absolute perfection.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Beware of the Vultures

Today's Reading: Genesis 15:8-12
Some vultures came down...but Abram chased them away. Genesis 15:11
WHEN THE LORD told Abram that he was preparing to make a covenant for him, he asked him to make a sacrifice. God told Abram, "Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon" (Genesis 15:9). Abram was to sacrifice the animals on an altar he had built. He did as the Lord asked, and soon the birds of prey came swooping down on his camp. "Some vultures came down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away. That evening, as the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep. He saw a terrifying vision of darkness and horror" (15:11-12).

There is a universal law in the spiritual realm that you and I should be aware of. When God's people set themselves toward living in God's blessings, the devil's vultures will always be there to try and foil the effort. When you go before God to receive a covenant, you can expect the birds of prey to be right on your heels.
Vultures come in many forms. You may have friends and family laugh at you, scoff at your faith, roll their eyes at your prayers, plant seeds of doubt in your mind. They've read the story of Abraham, and they remind you that you are "definitely no Abraham." And the temptation will be to believe them.

Some vultures get inside your head and manifest themselves in the form of negative thinking. Who do you think you are? Why would God take the time to make a covenant for someone like you? They'll come to you at night and affect your dreams, bringing nightmares and visions of darkness.

And some birds of prey find it more effective to simply get in your way and blind your vision. They throw obstacles in your path and try to steal your time and keep you from praying. But don't let them do it. When you've set your heart and mind on asking God for a covenant blessing, don't allow the enemy to distract you. Stay the course and remain faithful until you hear from him.

A. V. 9-10 The Challenge Of Preparation - God's request is for Abram to prepare a sacrifice. This whole event was how men in ancient times made a covenant with one another. They would cut animals in half and arrange the pieces several feet apart and walk between the pieces together. It symbolized the sacredness of a man's word. It said, "May I be like one of these animals if I break my part of the covenant." For Abram, it took a lot of costly, hard, bloody work to prepare things like the Lord wanted them to be. We need to remember that when the Lord makes a requirement of your life it will often require you to commit to some hard work,  The great things of God do not come easy, they do not come cheap, nor do they come to the lazy. God's best is reserved for those who are willing to pay the price.
B. V. 11 The Challenge Of Protection - As Abram waited for the Lord to come by and meet with him, the birds of prey began to descend on the animal carcasses. Abram had to shoo them away to protect the sacrifice from being devoured. When the Lord begins to move in your life, you can count on the fact that every vulture in the world will come against you to devour what the Lord is trying to do in your life. If we allow them, many vultures will try to take away our time, our concentration, or commitment to the Lord and His work. We need to be on guard to protect what the Lord wants to do in our lives and allow nothing to hinder or prevent us from seeing it come to pass.
C. V. 11 The Challenge Of Patience - I get the impression that this activity took Abram most of the day. He is in a holding pattern. He has the sacrifice ready, he is guarding it and the Lord doesn't show up until after darkness has fallen. It was a time that required patience on the part of Abraham. God never runs on our schedule! We try to get ready for Him and line up with what He is doing in our lives. We wait and we wait for Him to show up and move in us and through us. He will, but only when He is ready! Therefore, if the Lord is working in your life, be patient and wait on His timing. Don't rush in as we have a tendency to do, just wait patiently on Him and He will bring it to pass,  God knows the timing, we do not!

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Message from Shaquille O'Neal

For the past week, I have limited my office visits during my 100 day campaign because I have been getting ready for some tests I have to take next week in Cleveland at our Midwest regional meeting. I have been quite cranky and somewhat quick triggered and as Festus told Paul in Acts 26:24, "your much learning has made you mad". I have felt that way this week. I woke up today, didn't want to read my devotionals, didn't want to spend my time in prayer, didn't want to do anything positive because I knew God would convict me to stay on the right path.

I decided to read the paper, there is nothing ever positive in the paper. Always bad news, Great! Fuel to keep me angry. That's what I need. Hey, there is an article on Shaq. EVEN BETTER. Funny, no substance, quite entertaining, Just what I need, no conviction, no one talking or appealing to my conscience. Wonderful.

Let me just say, God has a sense of humor. Since he knew I wasn't trying to listen one way he spoke to me another way and out of all people, HE CHOSE SHAQUILLE O'NEAL. Here is the article that whipped me.

On Saturday, I will be receiving an education doctorate degree from Barry University, a small Catholic school in Miami Shores. The degree isn't honorary. I worked for it, and I'm as proud of this as anything I have accomplished in my life. While I did this for two people — my mother and myself — it certainly would be nice if it could have a broader impact.

Too many young kids — particularly black kids — are still dropping out of school way too early. This country will never compete globally when nearly one in four kids fails to complete high school on time.

For you parents out there: Don't just encourage your children to complete high school, which should be a basic step toward a much bigger education. I was fortunate to have a mother who understood the value of education, even as she saw me join the NBA and have a successful basketball career. My mom knew that education not only would help me down the road, it also would make me a better person.

It's understandable when young athletes lured by the big money of the NBA decide to pass up college. But that makes no sense for the thousands and thousands of young athletes who will never make it to the pros. And even those lucky few need to understand that a career in athletics is fleeting — education isn't.

It's understandable when young athletes lured by the big money of the NBA decide to pass up college. But that makes no sense for the thousands and thousands of young athletes who will never make it to the pros. And even those lucky few need to understand that a career in athletics is fleeting — education isn't.

Although I entered the NBA draft after my junior year at Louisiana State University in 1992, I later took correspondence courses to earn my bachelor's degree. Education matters. It instills self-discipline. It exposes a person to a world of shared knowledge. It forces us to stay attuned to current events. And most important, it helps each of us understand how and where we fit into this world.

My doctoral degree from Barry is in Organizational Learning and Leadership, with a specialization in Human Resource Development. People won't be surprised to learn that my doctoral project was titled: "How Leaders Utilize Humor or Seriousness in Leadership Styles." I'm a big believer in the power of humor, particularly in stressful situations.

But this is no laughing matter. If there's one thing I hope people take from this personal milestone, it's that education matters for your entire life. A degree, whether high school or doctoral, is not a finish line; it's simply a mile-marker. My learning will continue. I want others to come along for the ride.