Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What will you do with your Mistake?

In 1928 Alexander Fleming made a careless mistake, which wasn’t his custom. He had completed university and medical school with academic distinction and served with honor in the army medical corps in World War I. Then he returned to research and teaching at the Royal College of Surgeons, trying to find antibacterial substances that would be nontoxic to animal tissues. And he had achieved a measure of success.

While researching influenza, however, he somehow contaminated a staphylococcus culture dish with mold and ruined the culture.

That uncharacteristically careless act resulted in what has been termed a "triumph of accident and shrewd observation," for Fleming noticed the mold had produced a bacteria free spot in the previously thriving staphylococcus colony. Upon further investigation, he observed the mold produced a substance that prevented staphylococcus growth, even when diluted eight hundred times. He christened that substance penicillin, and medicine has not been the same since.

For his mistake, Fleming was knighted, and in 1945 shared the Nobel prize. Because of Sir Alexander Fleming’s mistake, hundreds of thousands of people have been healed and even saved from death. We could use more mistakes of that sort.
So to whoever is reading this blog, for whatever reason God allowed you to find this spot, I want you to know mistakes are only temporary detours not permanent dead end streets. Mistakes can become your teachers and not your undertaker, Your mistake can either become your masterpiece, your "triumph of accident" or it can become your mess from which you do not escape,
Mistakes can leave scars, broken marriages, wasted years, lowered horizons and expectations, injured relationships, snickering congregations and confused minds but they also can sharpen senses, temper the soul, become life's compass and cause you to run faster and stay longer in the presence of God.
Whether your mistake becomes a masterpiece or a mess remains in your hands,,,,,,what will you do with your mistake?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday in the Word--Doing What Pleases God

The story is told of a young concert pianist who was performing for the first time in public. The audience sat captivated as beautiful music flowed from his disciplined fingers. The people could hardly take their eyes off this young masterful pianist. As the final note faded, the audience burst into applause. Everyone was standing, except one old man up front. The pianist walked off the stage disappointed. The stage manager praised the performance, but the young man said, "I was no good, it was a failure." The manager replied, "Look out there, everyone is on his feet except one old man!" "Yes," said the youth sadly, "but that one old man is my teacher." I wonder if we as Christians have the same desire for God’s approval as that pianist had for his teacher’s praise? Our Lord’s approving smile is what really matters. When is the last time you concerned yourself with pleasing God instead of pleasing others or yourself? His approval is the only one that really matters

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It is Well With My Soul

In 1871 in the city of Chicago was nearly destroyed by fire [known as the Great Chicago Fire, 300 people died and approximately 100,000 were left homeless. One of the heroes in the aftermath was Horatio Gates Spafford. Spafford, who was an attorney, had lost a great deal of real estate in the fire.

Despite such great personal financial loss and then combined with the untimely death of his son during the same time Spafford for nearly two years unselfishly helped to assist the needs of the homeless, impoverished, and grief-stricken by the fire.. Such merciful and kind acts as these to his fellow-men just helped to strengthen the testimony as to why Horatio G. Spafford was known throughout Chicago as a sincere, devout Christian.

After about two years of such work, In November 1873, Spafford and his family decided to take a vacation. Because Spafford was a loyal friend and supporter of Dwight L. Moody, he and his family decided that they would meet up with Moody on one of their evangelistic campaigns in England. Just as the Spaffords were preparing to leave, Horatio was unexpectedly detained by urgent business concerns in Chicago.

The decision was made that his wife Anna and their daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie, and Tanetta would continue on as scheduled to England. Once after Spafford had resolved the business concerns he would then catch up with them on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The ship his wife and daughters were traveling on never reached England. Off Newfoundland, the ship collided with an English sailing vessel. The ship sank rapidly, approximately within 20 minutes after it was struck.. Mrs. Spafford was only one of the 47 to survive; tragically all four of their daughters were part of the 226 who perished in the aftermath. Anna Spaffords heartbreaking telegram to her husband simply read: Saved alone.
Horatio immediately set sail for England to join his grief-stricken wife. As the ship that he was traveling on passed the approximate location where his daughters had drowned, [it is reported] that due to his deep sorrow mingled with his unwavering faith in Gods goodness that he penned the words of his famous hymn It Is Well With My Soul.

It Is Well With My Soul
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea-billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know;
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Tho Satan should buffet, tho trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.
My sin oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross and I bear it nomore;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh, my soul.
And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend –“Even so it is well with my soul.
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live,
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for death as in life
Thou shalt whisper They peace to my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Excerpt From: Lawrence Jackson I. The Fruit of the Spirit.

Monday, July 1, 2013

El ROI The God Who Sees Part 1

Glad to be back in this forum with you.....it is has been awhile! Thank you for the emails, calls and inquiries concerning the whereabouts of our blog. Lots to catch up on but simply put, GOD IS GOOD. He has been blessing our Church and the ministry keeps us moving.

On Sunday we graduated our third Sunday School Christian leadership School group who studied #1004 Effective Bible Reading. We praise God for 38 students who completed the course. Special thanks to our instructor for this class, Sister Angelia Forrest. We begin the Baptist Doctrine class next week where I will have the honor of teaching for the next 8 weeks,

On Sunday, our church was blessed with special guests, The members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. We bless God for their presence. We were also blessed that Coach Ernest Jones of the University of Notre Dame Football team brought with him Jaylon Smith who is the number one player in Notre Dame's recent signing class as a Linebacker.

Coach Jones is the Director of Player Development and Engagement. Our church tries to help student-athletes make the transition to South Bend and partners with families who send athletes to a Catholic school but are not of the Catholic faith. It was an honor to meet this young man.

I began a series of sermons on EL ROI, THE GOD THAT SEES from Genesis 16:1-16 using Hagar as our witness to teach us about another attribute of God. It is impossible to know what God can do for you unless you really know who he is. Since you can't divorce God's name from His nature, what He is HE will do.

The sermon was received well. I felt I was rusty and too academic in my presentation but the Church and visitors was blessed. My goal every Sunday is to give the listener enough information that they should leave church ready to put the sermon they just listened to into action by writing and living the sermon in their own words in the company of people who weren't at church but still need a word.

The main point of Sunday's message was, "Don't throw away your future because of mistakes you have made in your past"! The account in Genesis shows us three different people's reactions to handling failure. The reality in life is WE ALL FAIL! Some people try and deny it, cover it up, lie about it but WE ALL FAIL!

How do you handle your Failures? Abram failed as a Man! In tradition we blame Sarai for introducing the deceit of sleeping with Hagar but in reality the failure rests with the man. Simply put, Abram is the one that introduced sin into his house. He taught his wife how to lie by example. Genesis 12:11-13. His lie benefited him in sheep, cattle, goats, donkeys, male and female servants.

Abram's lie is the beginning of Hagar being brought into his home. It stands to reason had Abram never lied in the first place, there is no Hagar for Sarai to suggest to sleep with. It is impossible to ever enter into sin and expect to come out clean. There is always some residue effect left behind.

When this failure hits Abram, his response is to be UNACCOUNTABLE. He simply acts like its not his fault. This is a fight between Hagar and Sarai. In the playground, we would say something like My name is BENNET AND I'M NOT IN IT.

Sarai failed as a manager of the home. She made the mistake of trying to HELP GOD. God has promised Abram a seed will come but its been ten years since the initial conversation and still there is no child. She decided that God is moving to slow so she would help Him, We often times are guilty of the sin of trying to play GOD in our lives and we substitute our Isaac blessings with Ishmael Burdens.

Sarai's response to failure was being UNREASONABLE. She blames Abram, she blamed Hagar, she even blamed God but she never took responsibility for her own actions. She spoke with an Unbridled tongue and an Unleashed temper. Many homes have been wrecked by women with a runaway tongue and an uncontrollable temper,

Hagar failed as a Maid. She began to see herself as the wife instead of realizing she was just the maid. Just because you sleep with the husband, it doesn't make you the wife.When reality kicks in Hagar decided that the answer to her problems was flight.

Hagar's response to Failure was to become UNAVAILABLE. She just packed up and left to get away from the problem. This is the most common response of all! When problems arise at church, don't seek a solution, seek a new church. When problems arise on the job, don't fix it, find a new job. When problems crop up in the marriage, don't work it out, just find yourself a new mate.

I end today's blog by simply saying when we fail, no matter how we choose to deal with it, thank God there is still a God who sees. He sees where we run, where we hide, where we flee, where we escape. When we don't look for HIM, HE comes looking for us. Gen 16:7 The Bible says the angel of the Lord found her.

I am so glad the Lord found me. When I had abandoned my future, thrown away my dreams, given up on my life, the Lord found me.

Monday, March 4, 2013

1st Graduating Class of Macedonia MBC CLS Discipleship Program

God is Great and Greatly to be Praised! On Sunday morning our Christian Education Department under the leadership of our Director Deacon Chris Dudley held its first commencement exercises, graduating  class #7024, Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts.

This class was offered in conjunction with the National Baptist Convention USA, INC through our state convention, The Original General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Indiana INC. and our district association, The Northern Indiana Missionary Baptist Educational District Association.

We thank our regional coordinator, Dr. L.D. Tate, our Convention President, Dr. Isaac Culver, Jr,our District Moderator, Dr. Marion J. Johnson Jr., our Church dean and my mentoring dean, Sister Lawana F. Griffin, and our instructor Sister Maureen Johnson for all of their help in pulling off this Christian Leadership School. Doing a School in a Church as opposed to doing a school in a District, State or national convention has its challenges.

Our church has been growing in membership by leaps and bounds but the numbers that were present during Sunday Morning Worship didn't translate during Sunday School. We graduated full new members classes out but they never seemed to find their way into a Sunday School class. We tried  re-vitalization and reorientation plans where we brought all of our new members back in for 12 week refresher courses. They all came back; however, when it was time to leave and go back into Sunday School, they did not go.

After inquiry, we discovered our Sunday School was a monologue based, Scripture and verse, uniform lesson study type of class. Our New Members class was a dialogue based, topic oriented, Scripture Supported type of class. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel by reforming Sunday School, or instead of risking Pastoral self-inflicted suicide by moving church members from classes who have been teaching longer than I have been pastor, we met with the Christian Education committee and formed The Macedonia MBC Christian Leadership School in Discipleship.

We have five (5) sessions of ten (10) week classes in #7024 Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts, #6021 Spiritual Formation, #1004 Effective Bible Reading, #2011 Baptist Doctrine and #7005 Christian Evangelism. All of these classes with approved books come from the Christian Leadership School Manual of our Division of Christian education Sunday School Publishing Board of our National Baptist Convention USA, INC.

These classes were  held during the Sunday School hour as opposed to another day during the week because our primary thrust at this time was trying to re energize our own membership to love and appreciate Christian Education. If successful, we pray we will offer this during the week for outside churches and people in the South Bend/Elkhart area.
I am proud to say we graduated a class of 46 adults, 43 who received a course accreditation card towards completing a Certificate of Progress Program which is equivalent to an degree in Christian Education and three (3) who received a Certificate of Completion and participation.

I am also proud to report while some members did leave their traditional Sunday School classes to attend this class, the majority of the people who attended this class were either brand new Sunday School members or members who returned to Sunday School who had not been previously attending.

Also, I want to encourage fellow churches and Pastors that don't have million dollar budgets. Many of us cannot send our delegates to every National Convention and meeting. We would like to----but we simply don't have the resources to do it. By having a church school, you can bring the convention---whether District, State or National to your church. They learn what our convention is, what it does, what it stands for and more importantly, they learn the Word of God in an controlled environment, free from all of the distractions of attending sessions in the big cities.

Again, I am so proud of the Macedonia Church family for working together and following the Pastor's vision. as great as this first class was, I still believe THE BEST IS YET TO COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Touch of the Master's hand

Myra Brooks Welch tells the story of a battered, scarred violin held up for bid by an auctioneer who hardly thought it worth his time. And it apparently wasn't, for the final bid was a grudging three dollars. But as he was calling, "Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three," a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow, wiped the dust from the old instrument, tightened the strings, and played the most beautiful melody—"as sweet as an angel sings."

When the music ceased, the auctioneer, holding it up with the bow, said in a different tone, "What am I bid for the old violin?" Instead of three dollars, it went for three thousand!

The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand—
What changed its worth?" The man replied,
And many a man with a life out of tune,
And battered and torn with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd.
Much like the old violin.
A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He's going once and going twice,
He's going—and almost gone.
But the MASTER comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul, and the change that's wrought

Such change is incomprehensible for those outside. But all who have experienced that touch perfectly understand.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Letter from Jada Pinkett Smith on Blended Families

In our Noonday and Evening Bible Studies, we are currently studying the Christian Home. It has been amazing! Both eye opening and jaw dropping some of the opinions I have heard that was not based on one ounce of Biblical fact concerning the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives.

We have taught from the original intent of God concerning marriage. I realize everyone has not followed or was not aware of God's blueprint for marriage so we have divorced people, remarriages, children outside of wedlock and blended families.

In early preparation, I have found Biblical and Secular stories to try and highlight this issue. I ran across a letter I am using for an example. Let me say as a disclaimer, I am not sure if this actual letter that has been accredited to Jada Pinkett Smith belongs to her or not, nor am I endorsing all of what she believes or stands for. I will continue to say The Word of God is our example; however, the words of this letter, regardless of the source or the origin is worthy of discussion in our (YAM) Young Adult Ministry Discussion as well as in our Bible Study.

This is the letter:

A letter to a friend: Blended families are NEVER easy, but here's why I don't have a lot of sympathy for your situation because... we CHOOSE them. When I married Will, I knew Trey was part of the package...Period! If I didn't want that...I needed to marry someone else.

Then I learned if I am going to love Trey...I had to learn to love the most important person in the world to him...his mother. And the two of us may not have always LIKED each other... but we have learned to LOVE each other.

I can't support any actions that keep a man from his children of a previous marriage. These are the situations that separate the women from the girls. Your behavior is that of an insecure child who needs to recognize her own weaknesses that MUST be strengthened to take on the task at hand.

We can't say we love our man and then come in between him and his children. THAT'S selfishness...NOT love. WOMAN UP... I've been there...I know. My blended family made me a giant… Taught me so much about love, commitment and it has been the biggest ego death to date. It's time you let your blended family make you the giant you truly are.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The ABC's of Prayer

As most things happen in our studying, we discover one nugget while trying to unearth another gem! I ran across this preparing for something else so in order to commit this to memory, I will share this with the blog while trying to apply this to my life. Hope this helps! Owens

There was a little boy who was saying his prayers one night when his father walked in and heard him praying. The father heard his son saying his ABC’s. The father asked him why he was saying his ABC’s and he said he did not know much about praying so he figured that if he would say his ABC’s God would grant him what he needed under each alphabet.

A- Assurance
B- Bounty
C- Courage
D- Deliverance
E- Encouragement
F- Faith
G- Grace
H- Health
I- Influence
J- Joy
K- Kindness
L- Love
M- Miracles
N- Nourishment
O- Obedience
P- Power
Q- Quality
R- Restoration
S- Safekeeping
T- Thanksgiving
U- Understanding
V- Victory
W- Will Of God
X- Those Things I Need I Cannot Write
Y- Years To Serve My Master
Z- Zeal To Serve My Master

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Clothed in Christ, Colossians 3:5-17, Sunday School Lesson

Why should we put off the old deeds and put on the qualities of the new life? Pail gives us four(4) reasons as the lesson trasitions from taking off into putting on from verses 5-11 into verses 12-17.

God chose them (v. 12a). The word elect means "chosen of God." God's words to Israel through Moses help us to understand the meaning of salvation by grace: "The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people. But because the Lord loved you ... hath the Lord brought you out [of Egypt] with a mighty hand" (Deut. 7:7-8).

This miracle of divine election did not depend on anything that we are or that we have done; for God chose us in Christ "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). If God saved a sinner on the basis of merit or works, nobody would be saved. It is all done through God's grace that it might all bring glory to God.
Of course, election is a "sacred secret" that belongs to God's children. It is not a doctrine that we believers explain to the unsaved. "The Lord knows them that are His" (2 Tim. 2:19), so we must leave the working out of His eternal purposes with Him. Our task is to share the Good News of the Gospel with a lost world.

God set them apart (v. 12). That is the meaning of the word holy. Because we have trusted Christ, we have been set apart from the world unto the Lord. We are not our own; we belong completely to Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Just as the marriage ceremony sets apart a man and a woman for each other exclusively, so salvation sets the believer apart exclusively for Jesus Christ. Would it not be a horrible thing, at the end of a wedding, to see the groom run off with the maid of honor? It is just as horrible to contemplate the Christian living for the world and the flesh.

God loves them (v. 12). When an unbeliever sins, he is a creature breaking the laws of the holy Creator and Judge. But when a Christian sins, he is a child of God breaking the loving heart of his Father. Love is the strongest motivating power in the world. As the believer grows in his love for God, he will grow in his desire to obey Him and walk in the newness of life that he has in Christ.

God has forgiven them (vv. 13-14). "Having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col. 2:13). God's forgiveness is complete and final; it is not conditional or partial. How is the holy God able to forgive us guilty sinners? Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. God has forgiven us "for Christ's sake" (Eph. 4:32), and not for our own sake.

Chosen by God, set apart for God, loved by God, and forgiven by God. They all add up to GRACE! Now, because of these gracious blessings, the Christian has some solemn responsibilities before God. He must put on the beautiful graces of the Christian life. Paul named eight graces.

1. Put on... tender mercies (Col. 3:12). The Greek uses the term bowels of compassion because the Greek people located the deeper emotions in the intestinal area, while we locate them in the heart. As believers, we need to display tender feelings of compassion toward one another (see Phil. 2:1ff). This is not something that we turn on and off, like the TV set. It is a constant attitude of heart that makes us easy to live with.

2. Put on... kindness (Col. 3:12). We have been saved because of God's kindness toward us through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:7; Titus 3:4). We, in turn, ought to show kindness toward others. "Be ye kind one to another" (Eph. 4:32) is God's command.
3. Put on... humbleness of mind (Col. 3:12). The pagan world of Paul's day did not admire humility. Instead, they admired pride and domination. Jesus Christ is the greatest example of humbleness of mind (Phil. 2:1ff). Humility is not thinking poorly of oneself. Rather, it is having the proper estimate of oneself in the will of God (Rom. 12:3). The person with humbleness of mind thinks of others first and not of himself.

4. Put on... meekness (Col. 3:12). Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. This word was used to describe a soothing wind, a healing medicine, and a colt that had been broken. In each instance, there is power: a wind can become a storm; too much medicine can kill; a horse can break loose. But this power is under control. The meek person does not have to fly off the handle because he has everything under control.

5. Put on... longsuffering (Col. 3:12). This word is literally "long-temper." The short-tempered person speaks and acts impulsively and lacks self-control. When a person is longsuffering, he can put up with provoking people or circumstances without retaliating. It is good to be able to get angry, for this is a sign of holy character. But it is wrong to get angry quickly at the wrong things and for the wrong reasons.

6. Put on... forbearance (Col. 3:13). This word literally means "to hold up" or "to hold back." God is forbearing toward sinners in that He holds back His judgment (Rom. 2:4; 3:25). Meekness, longsuffering, and forbearance go together.

7. Put on... forgiveness (Col. 3:13). This is the logical result of all that Paul has written so far in this section. It is not enough that the Christian must endure grief and provocation, and refuse to retaliate; he must also forgive the troublemaker. If he does not, then feelings of malice will develop in the heart; and these can lead to greater sins.
8. Put on... love (Col. 3:14). This is the most important of the Christian virtues, and it acts like a "girdle" that ties all the other virtues together. All of the spiritual qualities Paul has named are aspects of true Christian love, as a reading of 1 Corinthians 13 will reveal. Love is the first of the fruit of the Spirit and the other virtues follow—joy (Col. 3:16), peace (Col. 3:15), longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, and meekness (Col. 3:12).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sunday School Lesson, February 17th, 2013 Clothed in Christ, Colossians 3:5-17

In Paul's writing, theology is always followed by a call to live it out. For Paul, doctrine demands duty; creed determines conduct; facts demand acts. For example, in the book of Ephesians, the first three chapters are given to highest theology, only to be followed with this practical call in Ephesians 4:1—"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." This call introduces the remainder of the book.

Similarly, the magisterial theology of Romans 1-11 culminates in this great doxology: "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen" (Romans 11:36). This is followed by a most practical call: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices" (Romans 12:1).

We have the same thing here in Colossians, where the sublimely esoteric theology of Chapters 1 and 2 spawns the challenge in 3:5—"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature." For Paul, doctrine demands duty; creed determines conduct; facts demand acts.

We turn now from the positive to the negative. There are some people who do not like the negative. "Give us positive doctrines!" they say. "Forget about negative warnings and admonitions!" But the negative warnings and commands grow out of the positive truths of Christian doctrine. This is why Paul wrote, "Mortify therefore."

No amount of positive talk about health will cure a ruptured appendix. The doctor will have to "get negative" and take out the appendix. No amount of lecturing on beauty will produce a garden. The gardener has to pull weeds! The positive and the negative go together, and one without the other leads to imbalance.

It appears that the greatest problem among the Christians at Colossae and the surrounding area was one of sexual sins. Most of the sins listed were things involving sex, except for greed.

The word "fornication" or immorality (porneia) includes sex between a man and women who are not married to each other, or two persons who are of the same sex. The Greek word used here is the word that produced our English word pornographic or pornography. Paul’s challenge to his readers is to put to death pornographic sexual relationships.

Paul also used the word "uncleanness" or "impurity" as something to be put to death. The word "uncleanness "or "impurity" (akatharsia) speaks of the impurity of lustful living.

The word "passion" or "inordinate affection" (pathos) means to suffer. It is an affection of the mind. This word speaks of uncontrolled desire. In the words "evil concupiscence" or "evil desires" (epithumia), Paul was dealing with a longing for what is forbidden.

In the word "greed" or "covetousness" (pleonexia), Paul was speaking of a desire to have more without any regards for the rights of others. It suggests that a person will go after what he or she wants and will not consider the pain and agony it will cost others.

Paul let his readers know that the sins of the flesh will incur the wrath of God. The word "wrath" (orge) means anger, temper, movement or agitation of the soul. It speaks of anger exhibited in punishment.

After warning us against the sensual sins-, Paul then pointed out the dangers of the social sins (Col. 3:8-9). Dr. G. Campbell Morgan called these "the sins in good standing." We are so accustomed to anger, critical attitudes, lying, and coarse humor among believers that we are no longer upset or convicted about these sins. We would be shocked to see a church member commit some sensual sin, but we will watch him lose his temper in a business meeting and call it' "righteous indignation."

The picture here is that of a person changing clothes: "Put off... put on" (Col. 3:9-10). This relates to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:1); for when He arose from the dead, Jesus Christ left the graveclothes behind (John 20:1-10). He had entered into a glorious resurrection life and had no need for the graveclothes. Likewise, when Lazarus was raised from the dead, Jesus instructed the people to "loose him, and let him go" (John 11:44).

We've all heard the old adage, "You are what you eat." You might want to add another, "You are what you wear." There is actually a term today called "clothes cognition" which is used to describe the connection between clothing, psychology and conduct. As strange as that might sound to us "clothes cognition" is really about the clothes you wear and having them direct who you are and how you act in the world.

When we are putting on a particular piece of clothing, we are not only giving impressions to other people, but we are also giving an impression to ourselves. We feel the fabric on our arms; that allows us to take on the characteristics of those clothes. Whether or not "clothes cognition" means anything to you personally, there really is something to being "Clothed in Christ."

This covers the section of "PUTTING OFF" but you are not complete until you PUT ON! The emphasis in this section is on motives. Why should we put off the old deeds and put on the qualities of the new life? God willing, I will address that in the next blog.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Clothed in Christ, Colossians 3:5-17, Illustration

I am compiling my notes for the Sunday School lesson and I pray I will be able to commit that to this blog later this week. Today, an illustration for Colossians 3:15 has overtaken me:

Colossians 3:15 (ESV)
15  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful

An old story which comes from the Salvation Army in the last century tells of a strong-willed woman who had been nicknamed "Warrior Brown" because of her fiery temper. She was often belligerent and became enraged whenever she got drunk. Then one day she was converted. Her entire life was wonderfully changed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. At an open-air meeting a week later, she told everyone what Jesus had done for her.

Suddenly a scoffer threw a potato at her, causing a stinging bruise. Had she not been converted, she would have lashed out at the man furiously. God's grace, however, had made such a profound change in her conduct that she quietly picked up the potato and put it into her pocket without saying a word. No more was heard of the incident until the time of the "harvest festival" months later.

Then the dear lady who had been known as "Warrior Brown" brought as her offering a little sack of potatoes. She explained that after the open-air meeting she had cut up and planted the "insulting potato," and what she was now presenting to the Lord was "the increase." Warrior Brown had allowed "the peace of Christ" to be umpire of her life.
What are we to do with this peace? "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." What does that mean? F. F. Bruce, the New Testament scholar to whom we owe so much, says "rule" carried the idea of "arbitrate." In many extra-Biblical sources, the Greek word used here referred to the function of one who took it on himself to decide what is right in a contest.

The sense here is, "Let the peace of Christ be umpire in your heart amidst the conflicts of life. Let it decide what is right. Let it be your counselor."

How much misery we would avoid if we permitted "the peace of Christ" to umpire in our hearts. How many words we would hold back if he were the arbitrator in our lives. How many sleepless nights we would forego if we did that. How the Church needs this too, "since as members of one body you were called to peace."

I pray I will have a more detailed copy of all the verses of the Sunday Lesson for this week by Friday!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Who do you Trust

Psalm 118:8It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

The story is told that a national magazine assigned a photographer to take pictures of a forest fire. They told him a small plane would be waiting at the airport to fly him over the fire. The photographer arrived at the airstrip just an hour before sundown. Sure enough, a small Cessna airplane stood waiting.

He jumped in with his equipment and shouted, "Let's go!" The pilot, a tense-looking man, turned the plane into the wind, and soon they were in the air, though flying erratically. "Fly over the north side of the fire," said the photographer, "and make several low-level passes." "Why?" asked the nervous pilot. "Because I'm going to take pictures!" yelled the photographer. "I'm a photographer, and photographers take pictures." The pilot replied, "You mean you're not the flight instructor?"

Sometimes we are like the pilot and put our confidence in the wrong people. The middle verse of the Bible warns us about putting our confidence in men.

Who do you Trust?????????????The President? The Pastor? Congress? Put your Trust in God

Friday, January 18, 2013

Throw it Overboard/ Gaining Christ, Sunday School Lesson, Philippians 3:7-11

Paul spoke of the loss of his religious credentials as he'd earlier spoken of the loss of a ship's cargo (in Acts 27:10, 22, the only other place in the New Testament where loss is used).

Paul had viewed all of his religious past as something to be grateful for and nothing to be ashamed of. Even in persecuting the church he thought he was working for God. Yet there came a time when he "threw it all overboard": "Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:7-8).

Paul learned that any confidence in one's own religious attainments in the issue of salvation is not only useless but downright dangerous, for those very things could keep him from eternal salvation.

Here, however, the analogy to losing a ship's cargo ends. A ship's crew (especially the captain) would throw the cargo overboard with deep regret because doing so meant great financial loss. For Paul, however, there was no regret whatsoever. In fact he spoke of his "cargo" of religious background and attainments as rubbish: "I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

Probably a more accurate and descriptive word for rubbish here is garbage—table scraps or the kind of stuff you put down your garbage disposal.

Paul had come to the conclusion that his religious background was something to be deliberately dumped. Why? Because he'd discovered something far more valuable: the righteousness that comes from God through faith in Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9).

What things do you need to throw overboard? What baggage do you need to sing the goodbye song to?
"Na Na Na Na. Na Na Na Na. Hey Hey Hey. Goodbye." Throw it overboard, make room for what God has for you

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What Adds up to Christ/ Gaining Christ; Sunday Schhol Lesson; Philippians 3:7-11

Looking forward to the lesson on Sunday from Philippians 3:7-ll, today let's look at the verse 7:

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
The great apostle tells us of his great love for Jesus Christ, it was an awesome love. I dare say that for us "To Value Something, We Must Know the Value of It". In this passage Paul is telling us that he actually had much in his life that he considered to be of great value. He valued his religious upbringing; it was something that he was very proud to share with any listener.

He had the choicest linage that a Jewish boy could have, he was of the tribe of Benjamin, he was circumcised on the 8th day, he could even brag about being a Pharisee. He lived a life that would be pleasing to mankind, he was so proud of his flesh and his fleshly heritage. As he grew up, did he ever ponder, was this enough, he knew that this all pleased man, but did it please God?

He even persecuted the church; he killed Christians and allowed their persecution, and hoped for their extinction from society. He so valued all of this until he encountered the Lord Jesus Christ as he journeyed down the Damascus road. The day he met this man called Jesus something strange happened in his life, his values changed. The things that he considered to be of great value were no longer counted as anything but useless.

In the past he counted upon those things to get him to heaven, but now he totally turned away form these things, he considered them to be nothing but great loss. He realized the value of the valuable, he now compared these things to a different standard and these things failed to hold any value when standing next to the valuable.
  1. The Humble Realization of This Man—His Loss
  2. The Holy Righteousness of the Master—His Lord
  3. The High Regards of This Message—His Lesson

Cantrell's Jewels for the Journey.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Do you See Anything?

I was recently intrigued in preaching the passage out of Mark 8:22-26 where Jesus returns the sight of a blind man. While Jesus performing miracles is not a new thing, this miracle still intrigued me because of how vastly different it is from most of the other miracles Jesus performed.

The gospels in their entirety records the healing of seven (7) blind men all healed in a variety of ways; whether sent, touched, or told to wash, they were all healed. The intriguing thing for me in this miracle is that it was done gradually rather than instantly. Compounding my intrigue is the fact, Mark is known as the Instantly, Straightway, Immediately gospel writer so this miracle seemed out of place.

Therefore, the question is begging to be asked,  "Why did Jesus heal this man in stages", Why didn't he do it instantly" Did the man lack faith, Was there more power in the second touch than there was in the first touch"? Questions abound, it is very intriguing.

Because of Context and Content, I am left with a deeper meaning of this miracle. Some may intrepret and I couldn't argure with them if it was said that this was a two-stage miracle but I think that is swimming on the shallow end of the pond. To delve deeper, one would really see, this is really two miracles in one. The first miracle is Vision, the second miracle is Perception.

I always miss the first miracle in this message because I waste time time trying to understand meaning. Sometimes you have to learn to shout where you are so you can get to where you want to be. The shout is found in the question Jesus asks in vs 23 and the answer found in vs 24. The shout is in the content but admittedly, it is a fast shout, here it is:

Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”

Did you see it? No, ok I will try again and reduce some words!

“Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people,

Do you see it now? Let's reduce to the least common denominator .

“Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see 

The shout is found not in WHAT he sees, the shout is found in the fact that HE DOES SEE. Before Jesus, he saw nothing, after Jesus, He sees something. We have to learn to shout where we are. Things may not be like I want them but after spending time with Jesus, there are better than they were before. I couldn't see any hope, no joy, no peace, no chance, no way, now I see SOMETHING. and in my book SOMETHING IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NOTHING.

We see the buts in life. I have a job BUT its a dead end job, I have a church BUT its a bad church, I'm married BUT I have no joy in it instead of realizing there is someone that wishes they had a job, a marriage, that God would let them Pastor. Our shout is in the I ONCE WAS.

All of us have an I ONCE WAS Story. I Once was a drunk, a whore, a liar, a gambler, a wrectch undone, a misfit, a miscreant, a disapointment, a sorry excuse for a man but THANK GOD all of our I ONCE WAS Stories have now become a BUT NOW STORY. I would hate to end my story on the I ONCE WAS side, I have to tell you BUT NOW, after I met Jesus I HAVE A BUT NOW, I once was Blind but now I see.

Here in the part of the story, the preacher would concentrate on the second touch of Jesus. We will say, and rightfully so that we all need another touch. After the first stage, the man can see but his vision is very blurry. Only when Jesus touches him a second time can he see clearly. Cloudy spiritual vision afflicts every Christian to some degree. None of us sees as clearly as we would like for now we see through a glass darkly.

That's what this blind man experienced. When he was partially healed, he saw men as trees walking. No one sees life with perfect clarity. All of us have spiritual nearsightedness to one degree or another.

I agree with all of this but that is still missing the context of which this content rests in. The context teaches us that what Jesus did for the man is the same thing he was trying to do for the disciples. The man has received VISION but now he needs PERCEPTION.

In the New Testament Sight is a metaphor for understanding. The disciples had sight but they had no understanding. The blind man has sight but he does not have perception, the power to perceive and understand what he sees accurately, so he seems trees that look like men,

If you go back to the beginning of Mark 8, you have the miracle of the feeding of the 4000 (vv. 1-10). Immediately afterwards the Pharisees came to argue with him (vv. 11-12). After Jesus and the disciples got into a boat, he warned them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees (v. 8:15). Leaven is another word for the yeast necessary for baking bread, but in this case it refers to the false teaching of the Pharisees.

But the disciples thought he was talking about literal bread. Jesus then rebuked the disciples by saying, "Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?" (v. 18). Or we could paraphrase it this way: "How can you be so blind after having been with me so long? Don't you understand anything I'm saying?"

Hellen Keller said, "The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision". To give this man sight without the perception to understand that which he sees would cause him to misinterpret what he sees and act wrongly based on misconstrued information.

Perception sees past the problem, past the complaint, past the bickering into the solution, into the suggestion, into the sereneness of peace. SOme people can only see the problem. It used to upset me until I understood that Vision and Perception are two different things.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, YOU DO BETTER, When I understand what I see, I don't walk into the same traps, pitfalls and snares that I did when I was blind. It is for this reason that Jesus tells the man, Don't go to the village but go home. When you don't understand what you see, you fall for the same traps, the same lines, the same ditches, but when you have understand, when you have perception,........


Monday, January 7, 2013

Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts

The word for the day is Excitement, in our church and in our town. Our Christian Education Department launched the Macedonia Christian Leadership School under the direction of the National Baptist Convention USA, INC.

We will be running five (5) Discipleship programs consisting of Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts, Spiritual Formation, Effective Bible Reading, Baptist Doctrine and Evangelism. I want to say thank you to our Christian Education Director, Deacon Chris Dudley and our Dean of Records Sister Cynthia Bellaphant for all of their hard work in setting up and running our CLS.

Sunday was our first class and we exceeded our pre-registration numbers, To God be the Glory!! I was amazed at a needs survey we did at this church how many members thought they had NO SPIRITUAL GIFTS but yet believed they were saved. SO many members believed the only gifts were singing, preaching, leadership, therefore, I don't have those so I must not have any spiritual gifts.

It is our goal for this class to help students identify and then learn how to implement the gifts God has given the body of Christ through His members.

Please pray for us. Some students are taking these courses for certification and some are taking it for information. Either way, we just want to make God pleased with our efforts to develop students who can rightly divide the Word of Truth.

The other excitement in the air is the College National Championship Title Game tonight where the #1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide. I certainly have local rooting interest in the game as I have spent time with many members of the Notre Dame football team who visit and help assist in ministry at our Church.

We thank God and our church is praying for Coach Ernest Jones who is responsible for helping develop the Fighting Irish football players in three of the five core areas Head Coach Kelly uses to develop and complete student-athletes: intellectual development, social development and spiritual development (the coaching staff is charged with skill development and the strength and conditioning staff is responsible for physical development).

Coach Jones runs INSPIRATION, A Bible based study and prayer group for students, coaches and athletes within the athletic department. We pray for his strength and we pray for the young men who will represent South Bend tonight against Alabama.

We don't mind Alabama rolling but tonight we hope Roll Tide rolls like they are on four flat tires and the Irish win.