Thursday, January 23, 2014

Be Careful What You Ask For!!

SNOWING!!!! Nothing new to report on that front, time of year, it is what it is but God taught me a new lesson today. By the grace of God, I am looking to come out of my 6th winter here in South Bend ready to celebrate my 7th spring. I count my time here by the winters.

Each winter has taught me something different because each winter has been different.Been thru the 30 inches of snow falling in 24 hrs, learned we can shovel it. Been thru the $3,000 dollar NIPSCO gas bills in the winter, learned God's got it and we can pay it. Been thru the 114 inches of snow in a winter and learned we gonna make it, spring is coming.

So I have settled in like a Californian has to earthquakes or a Floridian has to hurricanes or an Oklahoman has to a tornado, its part of life living here so snow to the Midwestern is just life, What no one could prepare me for was NO SUN! Here in South Bend near Lake Michigan in the snow belt, we receive heavy clouds coming off the lake, They can stay with you for a day, a week even a month. I have gone 44 days without seeing the sun and YES I COUNTED.

I complained, I fussed, I whined, I pitched a fit, I told the Lord we don't need all these clouds. Be careful what you ask God for. He may give it to you.

A Polar Vortex is sweeping our nation bringing record lows and new "Highs" which are still record lows. It is bringing polar air from Siberia and has plunged thru our nation. The trajectory of this jet stream has caused the clouds that sit over South Bend during this time to be gone. Clear skies, beautiful scenery, bright days full of cold sunshine!

However, I learned that what I have fussed about had benefits. Clouds bring warmth, a certain type of insulation. It prevents temperatures from bottoming out because it provides a blanket.........a covering if you will over the land. I have no covering. God has moved the clouds, just like I asked so a normal 10 degree night turns into -10 as a low and - 35 windchill because their is no covering.

A normal high of 5 degrees is now a high of -6 because there is no longer a covering, The thing I thought was a curse was actually a blessing. I write this blog to speak into some one's life that may be reading this words. Don't know what brought you here but maybe you should rethink the thing you are considering a burden.

Maybe God has left you on this job, left you in this pit, left you in this church, left you in this debt not to hurt you but to protect you from your life bottoming out. You aren't ready for the record lows, the wind chills, the high gas bills so he doesn't remove your clouds, he teaches you to have a sunny day even with a cloudy disposition.

Thank you Lord for my clouds, those things I want removed but you purposed in my life not to hurt me but to help me and hope me,

My clouds:
Protect me from my environment (cold, chills,
Provide for me my essentials (shelter, security, safety)
Be careful what you ask for. He may give it to you and you find yourself no longer living Under the Covering.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterback 1/19/2014 Spite House

"53.7" inches of snow year to date but we are still standing, God be praised! We had a good time in church at Macedonia on this past Sunday. The snow took some out but brought others in. Worship was high and the youth did an excellent job in leading worship,

The Children of Abraham praise dance team which consists of our little girls 6 and under ministered to us using the Marvin Sapp song "Holy" and the youth choir was on fire. We are thankful for wonderful youth workers and parents who invest in our young people for the well being of our church and the kingdom of God.

We continued our series on the life of Joesph and "The Road to Reconciliation". The Lord blessed our efforts in preaching. Our concentration for Sunday was Genesis 45:1-8 I was disappointed after the sermon as I felt like I spent too much time in background and not enough time in the main field of study; however, God said what He wanted said, plus there is always Sunday, (God Willing).

We challenged our church with the idea of "Moving out of a Bitter House". I extend that same idea to you. Where are you living? What type of house? How much space? What's your view? All homes that look spacious on the outside are not when you look on the inside. Some houses are spite houses.

A spite house is a building constructed or modified to irritate neighbors or other parties with land stakes. Spite houses often serve as obstructions, blocking out light or access to neighboring buildings, or as flamboyant symbols of defiance,

Max Lucado begins Chapter 11 (“Revenge Feels Good, But Then . . .”) of You’ll Get Through This with the story of businessman Joseph Richardson, who lived in New York City in 1882. He owned a narrow strip of land, 5 feet wide and 104 feet long, that fronted Lexington Avenue. Another businessman, Hyman Sarner, owned a normal-sized property adjacent to Mr. Richardson’s property. He intended to build apartments on that property and wanted to buy Mr. Richardson’s land, so that his apartment building windows would overlook the avenue.

He offered Mr. Richardson $1000 for his land. Insulted, Mr. Richardson refused the offer. After Mr. Sarner’s building was completed, Mr. Richardson built a house on his narrow strip. Dubbed the “Spite House”, Mr. Richardson lived there the last 14 years of his life, his narrow house reflecting his narrow state of mind.

Pastor Lucado comments:
“Revenge builds a lonely house. Space enough for one person. The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: make someone miserable. They do. Themselves. . . . healing includes a move out of the house of spite, a shift away from the cramped world of grudge and toward spacious ways of grace, away from hardness and toward forgiveness. He (God) moves us forward by healing our past.”

Our challenge on Sunday is the same one I offer here. Someone needs to break their lease. Don't worry about paying the penalty, Jesus already has done that. You can't make it to reconciliation while living in a house of revenge or a house of retaliation. God is building you another home. It is a home of reconciliation, healing, forgiveness and restoration. It has space. Space to be free, free from hurt, free from your past, free to breathe because you are no longer restricted by what has been done to do you.

Break your lease, move out of a bitter spiteful home, Live in reconciliation.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterback 1/122014

I thank God for his blessing that He gave the Macedonia Church this Sunday during our service, We had a great time in the Lord. We baptized a wonderful new member, Sis Hodges who joined last Sunday. It is always refreshing to see someone who is excited about following the Lord in water baptism.

Our Male chorus led our worship and when Deacon Starling, our 90+ year old Deacon cranked up "Trouble in my Way", it was all over. Church folded and went in. I continued our series on Joseph: "You Will Get Thru This" and our concentration this Sunday advanced a little as we looked at Genesis 43:11-15.

We opened our "Road To Reconciliation" as we talked on the subject "Put Some Honey On it". Let me say in advance the sermon had life changing alterations to the preacher and my prayer is it will be life altering for our church. The altar call invitation was full but the actions afterwards will determine whether the sermon has taken root.

The sermon was birthed into my spirit last November by Pastor Aaron A Jackson, Pastor of the Forest Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth. While preaching for him, he blessed me with a book that if bought on Amazon it would start at $100.00. The book was written by the late Rev. Dr. Sandy F. Ray entitled "Journeying Through a Jungle".

To read the thoughts, sermons and musing of this great preacher stirred something in me that hasn't been moved in a while. I recognized that the Road to Reconciliation must be paved with something that makes it easier for the traveller to make it to their destination,,, Put Some Honey on It.

The Lord blessed our studying, writing and preaching. The backdrop of this sermon is that the brothers have come back from Egypt after buying grain. They run into their brother but they do not recognize him. Joseph accuses them of being spies and puts them into jail for three days. He agrees to release them if they leave one brother as a ransom on the condition they must bring back their youngest brother.

The brothers realize that what was happening to them was God arranged, not an accident, God will make you remember what you have tried to forget. Their remorse for their sin moves Joseph's heart and the road to reconciliation begins.

Upon their release and return, they realize the money that was meant to buy the grain was placed back into their bag. They tell Daddy Jacob what happened, how the man talked mean and harsh to them and how they can't go back without Benjamin.

They waited as long as they could but God arranged in 43:1 that their food ran out. Jacob gives wise counsel concerning what to do next. He tells them to:

Swallow your Pride
Select the right Presents

What you put in your basket will either:
Soothe the Pain and Solve the Problem or it will Stir the Pot

When you give your gift, if your enemy won't receive it or believe you, know that the Almighty God will:
Send the right Provision (mercy) Vs 14)

The Lord blessed our time in the word but if you happen to be reading this, let me ask you,

Who do you need to reconcile with?
What relationship to you need to restore?
What are you assembling in your basket?

The gifts Jacob assembled were Balm, honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. Each had a specific use and a specific purpose. WHAT'S IN YOUR BASKET? WILL IT MAKE THE SITUATION BETTER OR WILL IT MAKE THE PEOPLE INVOLVED BITTER?

To avoid the bitter, try some honey.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christ is ALL You Need

It sounds simplistic, it sounds naive, it may even cliche or black preacher Sunday morning speak but Christ is all you need. HE is enough. HE is enough to save you. HE is enough to develop you. HE is enough to sustain you. HE is enough to keep you. Not only is Christ enough but really HE is everything so if you have Christ you are complete.

I am studying with my Southern Baptist Convention friends and churches this year during their 2014 January Bible Study where we are going through the book of Colossians and the title for the book Lifeway produced for this series is Christ is all you need.

When we study Paul's epistles we see that each has a dominant theme. In Romans, it is justification by faith. In Ephesians, it is the mystery of Christ and his Church. In Philippians, it is the joy which Christ brings. In Colossians, it is the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as the Head of all creation and of the Church. There is no book in the New Testament, including John's Gospel, which presents such a comprehensive picture of the fullness of Christ. Accordingly, there is no writing better-equipped to draw us upward than the book of Colossians.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (Col. 3:1)
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him. (Col. 2:6)
There are so many experiences that seem to scream out to us "NOT ENOUGH".

Divorce: Your Love is NOT ENOUGH
Job Termination: Your work quality/production is NOT ENOUGH
Bankruptcy: Your Income/assets are NOT ENOUGH
Illness: Your health/body is NOT ENOUGH
Doubt/Confusion: Your wisdom/knowledge is NOT ENOUGH
Friends Complaints: you don't call/text/ communicate....NOT ENOUGH

While in an airport waiting for my plane to be called, I was approached by a young man who wanted to sell me a book. One look at the garish cover told me that the book was filled with Oriental myths and philosophies.

"I have a book here that meets all my needs," I told the young man, and I reached into my briefcase and took out my Bible.

"Oh, we aren't against the Bible!" he assured me. "It's just that we have something more, and it makes our faith even better."

"Nobody can give me more than Jesus Christ has already given me," I replied. I turned to Colossians 2, but by that time the young man was hurrying down the corridor.

Sad to say, there are many Christians who actually believe that some person, religious system, or discipline can add something to their spiritual experience. But they already have everything they ever will need in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Paul's description of our Christ in Colossians 1:15-20 gives 6 tangible reason why Christ is all you will ever need:

JESUS IS GOD 1:15,19

The church today desperately needs the message of Colossians. We live in a day when religious toleration is interpreted to mean "one religion is just as good as another." Some people try to take the best from various religious systems and manufacture their own private religion. To many people, Jesus Christ is only one of several great religious teachers, with no more authority than they. He may be prominent, but He is definitely not preeminent.

This is an age of "syncretism." People are trying to harmonize and unite many different schools of thought and come up with a superior religion. Our evangelical churches are in danger of diluting the faith in their loving attempt to understand the beliefs of others. Mysticism, legalism, Eastern religions, asceticism, and man-made philosophies are secretly creeping into churches. They are not denying Christ, but they are dethroning Him and robbing Him of His rightful place of preeminence.

As we study this exciting letter, we must heed Paul's warnings: "Lest any man should beguile you" (Col. 2:4), "Lest any man spoil you" (Col. 2:8), "Let no man therefore judge you!" (Col. 2:16)

Looking forward to this January Bible Study

Monday, January 6, 2014

When THOT(THOUGHT) Fails you

Thank God for Jesus and for being BLESSED to see 2014. We are surviving the latest winter blast of -10 and windchill of -35 degrees. Welcome to South Bend. Despite 12+ inches of snow falling, we started our Sunday at Macedonia with the great members having a wonderful fellowship. Special thanks to the Deacons and Trustees who shoveled and salted the walkways as best we could trying to keep pace with the storm. Also, thanks to our BOYS TO MEN group who escorted our mothers and women into the church.

When storms come in, the church climate differs. We lose our older members and our still learning young adults tend to drop off but we pick up community members from other churches whose church cancelled so Snow services are always a great ecumenical movement of believers who just want to praise the Lord.

We continued in our series through Genesis 37-50 studying the life lessons of Joseph. I recommend Max Lucado's book You Will Get Thru This as a wonderful companion along this Biblical journey, Sunday we looked at chapter 41:14-42 and Joseph's promotion from the pit to the palace. The concentration was on Joseph's interpretation of the dream and the plan that God gave Pharaoh thru Joseph.

We shared from the idea "A Plan for a New Year". The sermonic premise for the plan was :


The Lord blessed our time in the word and we thank HIM for the souls that were added on Sunday and for those that rededicated their lives.

An idea that sprung forth from sermon prep that I believe is sermon worthy all by itself that I did not have time to fully develop Sunday was the fact that Pharaoh was driven to listen to God's voice because he couldn't find anything else to speak interpretation for him.

Pharaoh had dreamed dreams that troubled him and fueled a search for answers. What was the meaning of the cows and the corn? What is the answer to this mystery? The magicians and wise men did not have the answers. The Egyptian god Thot did not give any answers to pacify this Pharaoh. Thot was the god of dreams and wisdom. He was the scribe of the Egyptian gods. The Egyptians believed he invented hieroglyphic writing, mathematics, language, and magic. He is the one who controlled the seasons, moon, and stars. Yet, Thot failed Pharaoh!

I shouted when I studied this because there are still people who lay at the altar of THOT(THOUGHT). They believe if they can just understand it, rationalize it, have time to think about it, they will be able to deal with it.

However, maybe you are like me that the older I am becoming I am starting to realize that their are some problems that the more I think about it the worse it becomes. Pharaoh would wake up from one dream, try and shake it off and dream another. Dreams without interpretation will turn into nightmares. THOT(THOUGHT) can't give you interpretation. ONLY GOD CAN!!!!!!!!!!

There are problems that the more I have THOUGHT about it, the worse my headache became, the worse my blood pressure rose, the worse by stomach became queasy, the worse my ulcers started to bother me. Therein lies the shout. When man didn't have an answer, God had a Joseph in the bullpen of the prison ready to be called up to give an answer for God.

My word for you today is when we cannot CONTROL what we are going thru and we cannot COMPREHEND why its happening in the first place, we must CONTINUE to trust that God knows what HE is doing.

I don't have to understand the whys How's whens what's and where's of life as long as I know WHO. I know who today. I know the one that is in control and when my THOT(THOUGHTS) fail me, my mind fails me, my reason fails me there is a man of God who speaks the Word of God on behalf of God and that Word can soothe my doubts and calms my fears. That Word can lower elevated blood pressures and speak peace to my chaotic spirit and I can go to bed and sleep....................................... not because I understand but because I believe.