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.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

You are Unforgettable to God

Today's Reading: Isaiah 49:14-16
See, I have written your name on my hand. Isaiah 49:16

This morning's devotional made me reflect on a song I used to hear from Nat King Cole. (Disclaimer) For all my Super Saved Saints who have never listened to secular music or don't understand how reading a Christian devotional on a Bible Passage can make me think of a secular song, STOP READING NOW! The Song says these words:

Unforgettable, That's what you are
Unforgettable, though near or far
Like a song of love that clings to me
how the thought of you does things to me
never before has someone been more

Unforgettable, in every way
And forever more, that's how you'll stay
That's why, darling, it's incredible
that someone so unforgettable
thinks that i am unforgettable too

That song came to my mind as I read these verses. This passage reminds us that God’s people are unforgettable” to Him. In these verses, God gives His people some very precious reasons for hope. He lets them know that He has not abandoned them and He cannot forget about them.

We might not want to admit it, but there are times when we feel abandoned and forgotten by the Lord too. We wonder why the circumstances in our lives are like they are. We wonder why it seems like life is one trial after another. We wonder where God is in the world and why things appear to be out of control. Sometimes we feel like we have been forgotten!

These verses are designed to teach you that you are “unforgettable”. God cannot and will not forget about you, God cannot and will not forsake you. I want to show you how these verses present our God. 

There are times when it feels as if God has forgotten us. When life beats us down and gets the best of us, it's easy to think we've been deserted. Maybe he's busy putting out fires elsewhere, we think to ourselves. And our prayers begin to feel empty and distant. That's why it's so important to stay in God's Word, because it reminds us that God is always near. Especially when we feel the most neglected.

Israel has been severely punished by the Lord for her sins and for her idolatry. Her cities have been ransacked and her sons and daughters have been carried off into captivity by her enemies. In this chapter, God promises to turn the captivity of His people. He is about to bring them home and all of nature is called upon to worship, v. 13.

There seems to be no cause for rejoicing in Zion. She feels as though she has been “forsaken” and “forgotten” by the Lord, v. 14. As far as Israel was concerned, they had been abandoned and ignored by their Lord. Their nation had been destroyed; their capital, Jerusalem, lay in ruins; their precious Temple had been utterly demolished. They were a broken people. God speaks to them in these verses and He lets them know that He has not forsaken them, nor has He forgotten about them.

Maybe you feel or have felt abandoned, neglected or forgotten by God, that somehow your sins have made God forget who you are, where you live or how you feel, The beauty of this 49th chapter of Isaiah is God reminds us it is impossible for God to forget us!

"Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne?" God asks us through the prophet Isaiah. Never! "But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:15).

"Although it's hard to imagine it," God says to us, "a nursing mother might just forget her baby. It's possible, though not very probable. But one thing is not possible. I could never forget you."

"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands" (Isaiah 49:16, NIV). Like an obsessed lover, God has had our name tattooed on his hands. He won't forget us. When you feel forgotten by God, just close your eyes and envision the hands of the Almighty. And remember his words: "I could never forget you."

I.     Because of the Lord's compassion, I am unforgettable vs 15
II.    Because of the Lord's compulsion, I am unforgettable vs 16a
III.  Because of the Lord's concentration, I am unforgettable vs 16b