Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Buried Under but Digging Out

Many people ask me, "How do you survive in South Bend with all of the snow"? I said to one recently, the same way you survive in life, I keep Digging out".

I wrote in my "It's Almost February post that we had received 40.5 inches of snow, something to that effect. By South Bend standards, a wimp of a winter. I thought I had escaped. This was January 30th. Then February rolled around.

With almost 5 days left in the month we have received 34.1 inches of snow in the month of February. We are only 1.4 inches away from breaking the record of the snowiest February of all time eclipsing a record that has stood since 1908.It was just yesterday I was laughing about how good it was, daring to point my finger at lake Michigan and the so called Lake effect snow and call them WIMPS. Then February came.

I write this because maybe you can relate. Just yesterday life was great, sun was shining, warm weather abounded. No major problems, burdens,or health concerns. Tax refund on the way, looking at vacation destinations and 70" TV's for the man cave and then it hit, the phone call that a loved one has passed, another announcing health concerns that won't be a quick fix,,, the tax refund now has been held up due to an audit of a tax dispute from 4 years ago

One problem on top of another problem. Before you can fix one another shows up, before you can clean off your desk, here comes another file, before this argument is settled, up pops another issue and you become buried under.A record day, week, month of problems you have never seen before. You become buried under.

The question becomes How do I deal with this Mountain of,,,,snow, burdens, problems, etc. Well let me give you the bad news first, IT'S NOT MAGICALLY GOING TO GO AWAY!! I can stick my head in the sand like an Ostrich but things will only become worse.

South Bend winters have taught me a necessary life principle: Live in between the waves. With a report of 2-4 inches of system snow today and lake effect of 1-3 tonight, an Alberta clipper that will drop 3- 5 this weekend with another 4-8 of lake effect after that, sometimes you only have hours, or days to dig out before the next one hits.

If you don't dig out from this snowfall, it will freeze and become too hard to move. You will have move-able snow on top and an ice chunk on the bottom. So we dig out. Snow blowers, plows, shovels and picks, we dig. Neighbors help each other, we push people out of driveways or dig people out stuck in the cul-de-sacs but we dig out.

We can't move all of the snow. That's an impossibility, so we dig enough to clear a path, a parking spot or a place. Let me encourage you, some problems will not be solved by ignoring them, nor will you be able to remove everything bad out of your life al at once, but if you can dig a place, a path, a parking place so that when the next wave hits you won't have to move twice as much, life will get better.

Dig out, don't get buried under.

Monday, February 23, 2015

You are not alone

75.5 inches of snow and by the grace of God, WE ARE STILL STANDING!!!!!!!! God blessed our church with another great worship experience as we finished our "BUT GOD" series. This is the first time I am exiting a series with trepidation wondering "Is it really time to leave it"?

The experiences, testimonials and life energy the series has taken on has been transformational for both the pulpit and the pew.

Dealing with the ever-changing landscape of daughters soon to be 14 year old, 12 year old and 10 year old making me wonder Am I really cracked up for this daddy thing??? They were so much easier at 7, 5, and three. Daddy was superman. They loved their daddy and he could do no wrong. Now Daddy is always wrong, never takes the right side, can't quite seem to get it................BUT GOD

I have a deacon whom I love that I constantly thank God for bringing into my life and although I never got the chance to experience a working relationship with him as Pastor and Deacon, I received something better, Dad and son.....and yet I received news that he is joining the legion of many that deals with the battle of  cancer, specifically prostate cancer......I had no words except BUT GOD!!

I have an amazing sister in Christ who I inherited when her amazing father Dr. Aaron A Jackson, Jr adopted me as his son in the ministry. I have said more time than I can count, Dr. A. Glenn Woodberry birthed me into ministry but Dr. Jackson gave me life. My sister always says she was the boy in the family until I came along. Our bond is unique...only to discover she joined the fight with cancer as well, fighting breast cancer, didn't know what to do, how to act, couldn't even really breathe when I heard the news, I could only say...BUT GOD!!

I have the potentially awesome opportunity to follow in the shoes of a great Moderator  Dr. Marion J. Johnson, Jr. who lead our District Association very well. Many pastors and leaders are encouraging me to step up. I feel the call of God and yet must admit, I see the challenges that lie ahead. Trying to make our Districts, State and National Conventions relevant to the needs of the people, matching the moment with the medium so that is more about ministry than money......it's necessary and I applaud and support whomever God chooses to lead this movement.............BUT ME.... I can't do it...............BUT GOD.

I pray for you. Yes You!! for whatever reason that brought you to this blog on this day, I pray for you! I simply want you to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

There is a chapter in Hebrews called the Heroes Hall of Fame found in chapter 11. Some of the Bible's best characters live here. We always have held this chapter up as people with great faith but actually this chapter is God's way of saying whatever you have gone through, someone else has been there and survived because they had a BUT GOD moment.

Whether Abel or Enoch, Noah or Abraham, whether Sarah, Issac or Jacob or even Joseph, Moses, or Joshua, a prostitute like Rahab or a man who couldn't leave prostitutes alone like Sampson and other names that time doesn't let us delve into, there is someone who has gone through what you are going through and God brought them out.

Don't lose heart and Don't lose hope. Hope is the fuel that drives your faith. It is the object on where your faith lies. It is why we used to sing My hope is Built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus' name, On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

If Satan can kill your hope, he can derail your faith because Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. If my faith is derailed my witness becomes dysfunctional because without Faith it is impossible to please God, and therein lies our shout, because he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek 

There is a BUT GOD statement for your situation if you believe and trust in God.School taught me that citing the source changes plagiarism to scholasticism. Let me cite the source that gave me hope to Keep the faith. Thank you for reading this blog. Be encouraged!!!!!!!!!

Dr. Tony Evans defines Faith as this "Faith is acting like it is so even when it is not so in order that it will be so simply because God said so!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015



60.4 inches of snow and we are still standing. I pray all is well with you. This time of year is always amazing to me coming from Oklahoma. If we received an inch of snow there, schools, churches and all events would be cancelled and a state of emergency would be called.

In South Bend, winter is a part of life, snow comes and we keep moving. The past Sundays have been amazing in the fact people didn't let snow stop them from coming to church or from having church once they arrived. I am humbled and honored to serve in South Bend at the Macedonia Church.

We started a 5 Week Sermon Series entitled "BUT GOD". It has been a blessing to people and the preacher as God has reminded us in the words of James Montgomery Boice, "If you understand those two words------BUT GOD--------they will save your soul.

I recommend two excellent books that have provided both information and inspiration for this series. The first is a book written by Casey Lute entitled, "BUT GOD...The Two Words at the Heart of the Gospel" 

This is an excellent informative read that for readers who like Boice and his commentaries, you will love this book. He stresses in this book that we need to learn how to finish the sentence. We are so quick to not speak this or not claim that; we miss the greater reality!

Lute suggests To the Left of "But God" in Scripture are some of the worst human atrocities, characterized by rebellion and disobedience. To the left of "but God" is Hopelessness, darkness and death but if you will not stop mid sentence and complete the thought you will see on the right side of "But God", readers of God's Word will find hope, light and life.

The second book I recommend on this topic is written by a fellow Oklahoman named Herbert Cooper entitled "BUT GOD" CHANGES EVERYTHING".

I call this my inspirational book. Please don't let that tag mislead you to believe this book isn't informative or theologically based because it is. The reason why I call it inspirational is because the reading of this book affected me differently than Lute's interpretation. Lute appealed to my theological mind but Cooper helped transform my mind into application.

Cooper helps the reader to understand and to chronicle their own "but God" story. He shares from the things God has delivered him from to help encourage the reader to look back at the divine pivot point  they have come through and right at the moment it seemed like all hope was lost, providentially a BUT GOD moment arrived.

Cooper says, "There is no easy way to define "But God" changes but you always know when you encounter them. WHen you have a "But God" moment in your life, what follows from that moment will be drastically different from what came before it.

What we have been experiencing at Macedonia through this sermon series as birthed by God through this writers has been nothing short of miraculous. We are writing our own "but God' Stories and God willing we will share some of those on this blog or thru the other church sites.