Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Waiting on God

It seems like we live in a nation and culture that is out of control because of all the protesting, anger and rage being spewed by everyone from the NFL, to Hollywood, to Washington DC and sadly even to some churches and church folks. Players are disrespecting the flag and nation; fans are boycotting their teams; politicians and media types are on a witch hunt to try and discredit their opponents and even drum up charges to try and remove them from office. Everyone is taking sides and no one is willing to listen to other side. And before you think I'm being holier than thou or even hypocritical, I will be the first to admit that I'm as guilty as anyone else of taking a side and running with it; and yes sometimes allowing my righteous indignation to become unholy anger and sin.

The truth is, our society and nation do have deep and complex problems, and there is no quick solution or easy answers to these problems. There IS a problem with police brutality and racial profiling in many of our inner cities across America. There are still racist people who give privileges and perks to white people over African-Americans who do the same job for the same company. And there are problems on both sides with White Americans and Black Americans who stereotype one another and just want to shout at one another. There is a problem with Black on Black Crime and Domestic Violence that sometimes well meaning Police Officers get called to break up, only to have the perpetrator and victim turn on them; and they are forced to defend themselves and families are left broken with a dead loved one lying on the street. There is a problem with people who break the law in order to migrate to this nation, some with the best of intentions, trying to make a better life for themselves, and others with the worst intentions of doing harm to this nation and its citizens. Then there is the problem of what to do with the children of these individuals who may or may not have been born on American soil. The answers to these complex problems are not always clear cut black and white, and there are real people with real feelings and eternal souls who are often caught in the cross-hairs of this struggle. SO WHAT IF ANYTHING DO WE DO ABOUT IT?


Now, I like to read a Chapter in Psalms and a Chapter in Proverbs every day in my quiet time. Today, I was in Psalm 27, and I came to verse 14, which states: "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." One Commentary on this verse said this: "Waiting for the Lord is an abbreviated way to express waiting for an answer to prayer. Rather than taking matters into their own hands, the people of God should wait patiently for Yahweh's response!"

This especially rang true with me, because I have a bad habit of rushing to judgment, getting sucked into arguments, and then having to passionately defend that argument at the risk of hurting others. Sometimes things are better left unsaid and opinions kept to oneself.

I was convicted this morning that I need to talk to God about problems in my life, culture, nation and society more than talking to others or expressing said views on Social Media. And may we WAIT on God's response instead of taking matters into our own hands! It's okay to express an opinion and bring truth to light in a discussion, but we must be careful to do it in a right way that honors God, and respects the other person who also was created in the image of God. We have a responsibility to honor those in authority over us (Romans 13:1-7) and pray for our political leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

What am I saying? As the people of God, let's try and heed the words of Scripture. James 1:19 "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow tospeakslow to wrath:"
And 1 Thessalonians 4:11 "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;"

May we not just be hearers or even people who quote the Word to prove our point. But let us be doers of the Word and show the world by our actions, our love for God and love for others, that we are indeed His disciples! Have a blessed day!

Friday, February 10, 2017

The People Wanted Wallace but God Wanted Truman

As many of you know, I am an avid History buff and love studying everything I can about it. I love studying History, because it is Ultimately, His Story! You see the Sovereignty of God and God's Intervention into the affairs of man everywhere you turn. Such was the case recently when I happened to turn on a History Program on Netflix concerning the Democratic Convention of 1944.

If you recall your study of History, or perhaps you were even alive at the time, you know that FDR was running for an unprecedented 3rd Term. His Vice President had been Henry Wallace, an ardent supporter of the New Deal Programs and "Man of the People." Many though in the Party, being still somewhat Conservative at the time, saw Wallace as unhinged and a drag on the Ticket. It was unclear if Roosevelt, whose health was declining and with war fatigue setting in, could defeat the Republicans in the Fall with Wallace still on the Ticket. So, the Party Convened that Summer unsure of who its Vice Presidential Nominee would be.

Wallace was a favorite of the People and held a commanding lead in the polls when the delegates convened that Summer. But in an attempt to unify the Party and hold together the Coalition that had put Roosevelt in office and reelected him, a little known Senator from Missouri's name was placed in nomination, Harry S. Truman.  Truman was seen as one who could unify the Party having supported many of the New Deal Programs of FDR, yet being close to the isolationists in the Party who were suffering from War Fatigue along with the rest of the nation.  At the end of the Day, while only polling at 2% among Democrats going into the Convention, Truman carried over 90% of the Convention Delegates to become the Vice Presidential nominee.

As fate, or Providence, would have it. The Roosevelt/Truman Ticket won in the Fall, yet the President became more ill and passed away on April 12, 1945 making Harry S. Truman the 33rd President of the United States. Truman would go on to become one of the most consequential Presidents in our Nation's history from a Prophetic Standpoint. He authorized the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, ushering in the Atomic Age and effectively ending the War in the Pacific. In 1948, against the advice of many in his own cabinet, he officially recognized the Nation of Israel after they declared independence on May 14th, seeing himself to be "a Modern Day Cyrus," and prophecy was fulfilled with America becoming Israel's strongest Ally.  All of this could have happened differently, had the Party listened to the People and nominated Wallace instead.

THE PEOPLE WANTED WALLACE, BUT GOD WANTED TRUMAN!

Daniel 2:21 states, "And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings."

The Psalmist had stated in Psalm 2:1-2 state: "Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? The Kings set themselves, and the rulers of the Earth take counsel against the Lord." Yet verse 4 says that the Lord in sitting in Heaven laughing.

You see God ALWAYS gets the last laugh. His plan is coming about just as He sees fit. He knows what is best and will glorify Him. It's no accident that President Trump defied the odds and won in spite of the Establishments of both parties being against him, because God sets up kings not man! So the people can rage, protest, riot and carry on all they want, BUT GOD IS LAUGHING! His Ultimate Will, will be accomplished.

SO REST IN HIM CHILD OF GOD! Let His peace flood your heart today, and may the fragrance of His Knowledge spice up your life today!

As Proverbs 3:5-6 states, "TRUST IN THE LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In ALL THY WAYS acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths!" TRUST HIM, HE'S GOT THIS AND HE'S GOT YOU!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

DESPERATION

Desperation causes people to do some crazy things. It can cause people to start stalking other human beings at work, in their homes, and around town all because they are desperate for love and attention and affirmation. It can cause people to throw caution to the wind and attempt things that otherwise they would not think of doing. It can even cause people to become suicidal and even take their own lives. In sports we are familiar with the last second desperation heave into the end zone, hoping against hope that our team will somehow come down with the ball and end up winning the game against all odds. In life we go through periods of great desperation and different things drive us to that point. God wants to use these times of desperation in our lives to drive us to diligently seek Him, as Jeremiah 29:13 exhorts us. He uses dry seasons in our lives to cause us to thirst after Him.

The Psalmist was at this point in Psalm 42:1, "As thehart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." 

God would no doubt love for us as His children to seek after Him and pray and thirst on our own without any coercion, however, as human beings we seldom do. We often have to have some cataclysmic event, such as a 9/11, or a late-night Emergency Room trip to wake us up and cause us to thirst after Him. We often only pray during times of desperation, yet it is times of desperation that God has orchestrated to get us to pray.

Dr. David Jeremiah once said, "I learned to pray out of desperation. For most of us, this is how the adventure usually begins. When we finally get serious about prayer, the trigger is usually desperation, not duty…. We don’t pray because we ought, we pray because we are without any other recourse."

I have found in my own life, the Holy Spirit has done His deepest and most powerful work in and through me when I was desperate for Him to do so! 

There have been a number of situations in my life that have driven me to a point of desperation to where a change became inevitable, if I was to go on and not be completely overrun with depression and despair. Usually, it is a number of things that happen at once that lead me to this point. In 2013, I was at a point of desperation.

     The Comedian Jerry Clower used to tell a story about a man who got stuck in a tree with a skunk, when a hunter walked by. The man said to the hunter, "Shoot up in here amongst us. ONE OF US HAS TO HAVE SOME RELIEF!"

We've all been there at one point or another, and for me 2013 was that time. In 2010-2011, our family had an unusually trying time regarding the declining health of my youngest son Aaron. He was in the ER 7 times in 8 months, and during the middle of that time I somehow got in a trip to the Holy Land that the Church had paid for. But He was sick and having a partial proximal shunt malfunction that led to a desperation trip to Memphis where he underwent a life-saving procedure on August 1st of 2010. Over the next year he ended up having 3 more surgeries to revise His shunt. This left us wore out as a family and myself wore out as a husband, father and pastor. [BTW, Aaron is doing well and living a normal life as a 2nd grader, praise God!] Toward the end of 2011, God spoke to me about making a change regarding one of the ministries of our church, and while it was discussed ad nauseum among our deacons and the idea presented to our church months before, when the change was actually made there were upset feelings, and the smooth transition we had hoped for and been assured of was anything but that. After the change was made the first part of 2012, there was a backlash and many people left the church upset, and the ones who remained were devastated.

To make a long story short, I became bitter and upset. I was no fun to live with at home. I was angry and not sure where to turn. I wanted to run and hide. I BECAME DESPERATE, and by the first part of 2013, I knew if God did not move in my life I wouldn't survive in ministry. Out of that desperation and devastation, I began to hunger and thirst after God and long for a fresh and powerful move of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I started reading the Bible and to the best of my ability tried to not read my own traditions or ideas into it. I just read it for what it said. When I got to Isaiah, God's Spirit broke in in a powerful way.

He led me to Isaiah 44:3, where God promises, "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:"
And then to Isaiah 55:1, where He states, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."

Needless to say, He was preparing me. At the end of 2013, God took me to a conference where His Spirit broke through. God showed me His power and filled me to overflowing with the Living Water of His Holy Spirit. God shocked me and surprised me as he tore down walls and barriers that I had built up for years.  Over the next year and a half, God did some amazing things in our church. We started new ministries, and saw over 120 people saved and follow through with baptism. We started Journey to Freedom and saw many people whose lives were in desperation set free. We had a service in 2013, where there were 8 confirmed miracles of healing in that one service. By the end of 2014, the Church was flying high and sailing with the tailwind of the Holy Spirit.

But then 2015 came. I have heard from many church leaders at other places as well as in our own church that have underwent major changes in their families, health, and just life in general this year. Many have been under attack from spirits of heaviness and infirmities. Many have been disappointed to see their loved ones who were serving the Lord, quit on God altogether. Many have become tired and grown weary in well doing, and some have just sat down. It has left me to ask God, "What are you doing? Where is this leading? What should be done to see you move again in power?" AND THE WORD THAT KEEPS COMING BACK: "DESPERATION! HOW DESPERATE ARE YOU FOR ME TO MOVE?" And that is a question for all of us to ponder! How desperate are you to see God's Spirit move in your life, in your family, in your Church and in your Community? How long has it been since you prayed for God's Spirit to fill you and move in your life and Church? It could be that God is bringing us again to a point of desperation to force our hand whether we will diligently seek Him and believe Him to pour out His Spirit again! GOD WILL MOVE WHEN WE GET DESPERATE ENOUGH FOR HIM TO MOVE! So my question is this, "ARE YOU DESPERATE!?!"

Monday, October 6, 2014

Different Members, Different Functions, Same Body!

1 Corinthians 12:12 "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." 

Being on Vacation, I went and visited a local church yesterday and was reminded of this Scripture. The Church was a Southern Baptist Church, yet their style of worship wasn't the same as ours at the Creek. They had really good music and choir, yet the congregation wasn't very expressive like we have grown accustomed to at the Creek! But that's okay.  Their service was a lot more some would say orderly, others might say rigid, yet that too is okay! There weren't a lot Amens that you could hear during the message, and certainly not any shouting or running, yet that too is okay! There wasn't any anointing with oil for the sick, yet again, this too is okay! 

WHY? Because we're all members of the same body. We have different functions, yet we are all serving the same purpose, which is to hopefully point others to the head of the body, who is Jesus Christ! God is a God who likes diversity! He made diversity in the animal kingdom and in nature. He makes no too human beings exactly the same. We have our own genetic makeup, likes and dislikes! What touches one person might not even register with someone else, AND THIS TOO IS OKAY!  As with the human body, looking at one organ or system doesn't give you an accurate picture of the whole person, and the only way to get a glimpse at what the person is like is to look deeply into the person's face; it is the same with us. No one individual can give you an accurate picture of the entire congregation; and no one congregation can give us an accurate picture of the entire body of Christ.  But when we look at Christ and look at the body as a whole, we can see what God is like. 

WE NEED ONE ANOTHER! We need the extremely organized, liturgical, churches to show us the majesty and order of God; and we need the more Expressive and Charismatic type churches to show us the Excitement and Power of God. We need congregations that focus our attention on the Sovereignty of God; and we need congregations that focus us on the responsibility of man in light of the holiness of God. We need congregations that teach us to have faith in a miracle working God; and we need congregations that remind us that the greatest of all miracles is the Salvation of flawed and depraved Human being! 

So, I was touched by the service yesterday! The music brought tears to my eyes as we sang about God being worthy of our worship. I was blessed to see people of all ages from 8 to their 60's being baptized to profess their faith in Christ as Savior. I was blessed by a Southern Gentleman with a Southern Drawl baptize an Hispanic lady after she professed faith in Christ by saying, "Si, Senor!"  

The bottom line is this! We ALL need to get off our self-righteous high horses and stop judging one another based on our personal preferences! Thank God 4 &glorify HIm with your uniqueness, but rejoice that others can love God as much as you and express it in a totally different way! You don't have to shout and run around to show how thankful you are and how much you love Jesus, but you're not necessarily weird and out of order if you do! Jesus prayed in John 17:21, "that we might be One...that the world might believe that You sent me." He also told us that "By this will all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one for another!" John 13:35

So, if you are wired to like traditional services, glorify God with it! If you like contemporary, Southern Gospel, liturgical, or completely informal services, Glorify God with that also! And let's all love one another and rejoice that Christ is being preached, souls are being saved and lives are being touched and changed all over the world through different manifestations and different types of Congregations and Services every week! Have a blessed week in Jesus! God Bless!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lessons on Spiritual/Church Growth I learned Riding my Bike!

Hello friends, I know that I've posted more this week than I have in the last 6 months, my ADHD works like that sometimes.  But seriously, God has drawn me back to this format because it's a type of journal to go back to in the future and see what God was doing and saying in my life at this moment in time! Well, today, after a couple months of idleness, I got back on my bicycle.  A pastor friend of mine recently shared with me that he felt God would do something in my life this week. I don't know if, well in fact I can say, it wasn't the dramatic sham wow supernatural breakthrough with miracles, signs and wonders that I was looking for and expecting, but it was supernatural and powerful nonetheless.

I woke up in a funk today, and was having one of those preacher pity parties that we like to have sometimes, you know those Isaiah Woe is Me Moments! So, after praying about it, I decided to get back out on my bike and test the road, my muscles and will. While riding my bike, I wrecked and felt even more abandoned and upset.  :-) I rode a little further down Eno Road near my home and it was there that God gave me the breakthrough that I had been looking for! God spoke to me and said, "It wasn't anyone's fault but your own you just wrecked!" He also began to show me lessons on Spiritual Growth as well as Church Growth [since the Church is just a Macrocosm of what's going on in the lives of the individual from the pastor to the pews] from riding my bike! I'd like to share a few with you today!

1.  It's hard on your flesh to ride a bike.  It's hard mentally, physically, and emotionally to ride a bike when you haven't done it in a while.  Your mind tells you you'll die if you try and pedal over that hill. Your mouth gets dry; your nose and ears stop up; and everything about you is saying just give up and go back to the house and get back in bed.  JUST QUIT! We do that in our Christian lives as well.  God begins to lead us in a new direction. He convicts us of our need to develop spiritual disciplines like Bible Study, Prayer, Fasting and Tithing.  Maybe He is calling our further and deeper into His abundant riches and giftings, but our flesh is screaming NO! YOU'RE JUST FINE HERE! YOU'VE GONE FAR ENOUGH! YOU CAN'T GO ANY FURTHER! The same is true for church growth as well! God moves and calls us to new ministries but our flesh is comfortable with the people we go to church with. We think, "Why do we need to reach more people, or a different type of people? Why do we need to change anything when we're comfortable now?" BUT WE MUST PRESS ON! WE MUST FULFILL OUR PURPOSE OF GLORIFYING GOD IN EVERYTHING WE DO! That's why we exercise. That's why we discipline and push ourselves. And that's why we follow the prompting of His Spirit no matter how little sense it makes to us at the time! PRESS ON!

2.  Overcompensating because of Fear will cause you to wreck! As I said, I had a wreck. It wasn't a bad one with complex fractures of the tibia and fibula, but I did get scraped up and bruised a little. What happened was I was going down a hill and decided to turn right onto a side road. This side road had a lot of gravel on it and the turn was coming up fast. AFRAID that I wouldn't be able to make the turn I overcompensated and started braking hard and fast. I broke too hard and too fast! As a result my back tire began to slide to the left as I was turning right. I lost control and my right leg was sliding under the bike with the back tire. As I said, God spoke to me and said, "It wasn't my fault you wrecked." It was my fault! I OVERCOMPENSATED BECAUSE OF FEAR! We often do the same thing.  We are afraid of the direction God is taking us because it's different than anything we ever knew before. We're afraid of what our lives will look like after the change because we have grown comfortable with life as we know it. We're afraid as leaders and pastors that people won't like us if we try and lead the church to make changes, so we never try; and we get frustrated with ourselves, others and God. We're afraid that our peers will turn their backs on us if they find out that we've changed our opinion on a doctrine or tradition of our denomination. SO WE SLAM ON THE BRAKES! And we end up a wreck because we didn't trust God to keep up safely through to the other side where He wanted to take us! We drowned in the middle with God pulling us from one side and our fleshly emotions and peers pulling from the other.  DON'T LET FEAR KEEP YOU FROM WHAT GOD HAS FOR YOU! He has not given us a spirit of fear [2 Timothy 1:7].  And

3. You can coast longer than you think you can, but you can't coast forever! I have found that if I can push myself to the top of the hill right beside my house, I can coast down and to the top of the other hill. That hill though leads to a dead end, where I must turn around. I can coast back down that one, but I can only coast about half way up the first hill.  I have also found that if I coast too long it makes it much more difficult to pedal to the top of the hill than if I start pedaling sooner while I still have some momentum built up. Here's the issue! We get to coasting in life and in the Church. Because you still have the momentum that was built from the climb, you coast down hill. You get down hill quick but a hill, sometimes not even as big as the first one causes us to quit because we coasted too long. We conquer one addiction only to get tripped up by a lesser problem. We conquer one growth plateau only to be stopped by the next one. We get to 300 but never beyond, because we got used to coasting and we coasted too long until the momentum was lost; and we didn't have the strength and energy to make the climb to 400 or 500.  We made it up one hill and stayed faithful during a prolonged illness only to get stopped by some other issue of life, simply because we coasted when we should have been pedaling!  

If you have found you have been coasting and losing momentum, START PEDALING! Start getting up earlier and spending time in the Word and in Prayer! Start exercising and change your diet to give you more energy physically! Start listening to Christian teaching and preaching on the Radio and Internet! Put on some Praise & Worship Music to strengthen your soul and excite your spirit!

Again, if we aren't where we need to be, or aren't leading as we should it is our fault! We must take ownership of our lives and learn the disciplines necessary to succeed! So again, JUST START PEDALING! IT WON'T BE LONG TILL YOUR BACK ON TOP AGAIN! God Bless!