Stirring up Godly Men, How?

If you have a Bible, please read  Hebrews 10:21-25 now..
The words “Let us” is mentioned several times in this scripture. This is a CHOICE.  Let us….the word LET is similiar to “allowing”

I want to focus on one sentence and one word….in Verse 23…which says “and let us consider how we may stir up one another toward love and good deeds”

The word I want us to focus on this weekend is “STIR”

Before we get into that word, lets look at another scripture from Ezekiel 22:30 which says:

“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none”

Today’s word that we are going to focus on is Shepherd / Warrior

(1)  In order for US, as men, to STIR up each other…we have to become SHEPHERDS

What does a SHEPHERD DO?

  1. a shepherd leads with courage. –it does not back away from fear. If God is for me, who can be against me?
  2. a shepherd protects bravely. –it doesen’t mean that you will always be brave, but again..if your trust in the Lord is strong, who can overcome you? Noone.
  3. a shepherd sacrifices himself — it always been said that Christians should think of others first. The World tells us to think of ourselves first. Christ led by a great example. If we think and sacrifices for others, God will bless us for that.

(2)  In order for US, as men, to STIR up each other…we have to become WARRIORS

The scripture that I want to share with this word is from Matthew 10:34-38 which says:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…”
“and whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me”

What does a WARRIOR DO?

  1. a warrior is not passive — warriors are never LOOKING for a war, but they are always READY for a war. Wars are happening now inside our homes, our families, our communities, and our churches. Satan has thrown all temptations in our lives. We need to be MEN building up the walls, and standing in the gaps and protecting our homes, our families, our communities, and our churches.

Revelation 3:15-16 says: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one of the other. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth”

Too often, we have MEN being lukewarm….gossiping about others…..putting down others….badmouthing the church or the pastor….lukewarm people are the reason why our churches are in trouble….why our families are falling apart….

(3)  In order for US, as men, to STIR up each other…we have to become COACHES

What does a COACH do?

  1. A coach calls the plays. — in other words, the COACH makes the decision. Not the wife, not the children, not the in-laws. The MAN who is under God’s authority, making godly decisions…is the one who makes the decisions.
  2. a coach trains the team –it is the father’s responsibility to teach and train the family, the children, the wife. Not others. The church is not responsible. The pastor is not responsible. The DAD is responsible.  In Ephesians 6:4 it says: “...bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord
  3. a coach cheers for victory — when your wife gets promoted…cheer for her. Don’t grump about it. when your child accomplishes something, cheer for them. Your best time as a husband is being a cheer leader for your wife. Your best time as a father is being a cheer leader for your kids.

(4) In order for us, as men, to STIR up each other…we have to become ALLIES

Two things that common MEN say in their lifetime are:

  • I CAN DO IT BY MYSELF
  • THIS IS HOW I AM, I CAN’T CHANGE

Men, if you do not have ALLIES..people to support you..you are in DANGER. You need ACCOUNTABILITY.

It says in Ecclesiastes 4:9…“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up”

What does an ALLY do?

  1. An ally supports you in your needs. –meaning if you go home after this is all over, you need to praying for your brothers in need. If they contact you, dont make excuses…make time for them. call them, text them, check on them, do whatever it takes to reach out.
  2. an ally is not afraid to be blunt. — i enjoy brothers who get in my face and rebuke me. Why because it helps me to improve myself. Many times I have been stopped, told that I was not doing something right, and I improved myself as a father, as a husband, as a servant of God. We need to be willing to listen to those who try to help us….

Some may ask, “what about my wife?”  Guys…I admire you for your thought, but your wife CANNOT be your ONLY ally. You need men to support you in times that ONLY men understand.
(5) In order for us, as men, to STIR up each other…we have to become KNIGHTS

What does a KNIGHT do?

  1. a knight must give up his life. –a knight, when blessed, has sworn his life for the King only. He is loyal only to his country and its king. He is always ready to die for them. (John 15:13 says: Greater love has noone than this; to lay down one’s life for another”
  2. a knight must give all his strength. –his strength is an asset. his strength isn’t depending on himself, but the passion of serving his king. Who is your king? who are you passionate about serving? Shouldn’t be being giving our ALL to serve each other too?
  3. A knight must decide what is priority. –what is important to you? When you go home after all this is over…what is it that you want your wife to see? your kids to see? your friends to see? your church to see? I pray and hope that you will change and CLAIM to change for the better.

You know there are two important words in a KNIGHT’s vocabulary… STRENGTH & HONOR…. when a knight sees another knight….those are the first two words they say to each other…

May you have STRENGTH and HONOR to your families, your homes, your communities, your church, to each other, and to our KING.

Notes from National Deaf Marriage Conference

Just wanted to share the notes that I learned from the recent National Deaf Marriage Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Pastor Scott Corey and Rick McClain were the key speakers for this year. Below are the notes, enjoy!

 

Marriage requires two working parts to be successful and godly:  Accountability & Intimacy

Intimacy is NOT only about sex….it is the opportunity to BE WITH each other even in times that does not involve sexual activity. In the book of “Love & Respect” There are a few quotes that I want to share. One is the number one thing that Men think of naturally is the physical sense of intimacy. Women think of the emotional sense in intimacy. In all of you actions and words, LOVE must be the purpose of it. Without LOVE, your spouse will not respond with respect.

There are several rewards for INTIMACY, if done the proper way.

  1. Confidence   – Your spouse must have confidence in your love for them. Show them, do things for thing without being asked
  2. Comfort – Your spouse must know how to comfort you. Study your spouse. Know their needs.
  3. Encouragement – You must encourage each other. Too many marriages have negativity that causes hurt and bitterness.
  4. Commitment – Without this, whats the purpose of your marriage. Commit to LOVE at all times, even when its hard to do

 

Just like in a army of men when they are shipped out to fight in a war….we, the Men, need to be acting like the “POINT-MAN”  The purpose of the POINT-MAN is to travel ahead of the pack, study the surroundings, studying all that needs to be known, to prepare for the battle ahead.  How does this apply to us men? We need to study our wives, study her surroundings, study her needs, study all that needs to be known, to prepare how to love them MORE.

The Bible has always taught that marriage is about “WE” not “ME”   If a problem pops up, WE solve it.  If a death in the family happens, WE grieve together. If one loses a job, WE handle it. If finances become a burden, WE figure it out. None of these can be accomplised without “WE”

Marraige requires Five Pillars to be Successful

You know, the Holy Spirit gives us abilities to use our minds, our will, our feelings to improve our marriages.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-23 says 21″But test everything. Keep what is good. 22 and stay away from everything that is evil” 23 We pray that God himself, the God of peace, will make you pure – belonging only to him. We pray that your whole self – spirit, soul, and body- will be kept safe and be blameless when our Lord Jesus Christ comes.”

Before you build your Five Pillars…you have to have a foundation. And that foundation is built on SCRIPTURE only…

Why? Because sand shifts and changes, other materials shifts and changes….but the Word of God never shifts or changes.

Pillar #1  LISTEN TO GOD TOGETHER

When making decisions, pray together. When marriage brings a problem, listen to God’s Word on what to do.

Pillar #2  LISTEN TO EACH OTHER

When the TV is on and you spouse wants to talk to you, dont lean over to look at the TV and look back to them…turn off the TV

Pillar #3  LEARN TO TEACH OTHERS

Your marriage is being watched by those close to you. Your kids, your grandkids, your brothers, your sisters. Watch how you act.

Pillar #4  LEARN TO TEACH OTHERS by EXAMPLE

Your marraige is an example to someone out there. Show them godly examples. Your example teaches others.

Pillar #5   LEARN TO LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY

All pillars MUST be active to have a successful marriage.

The Bible teaches all throughout it that unless you are building your home on the Lord, you are wasting your time…

 

There are many biblical examples of couples in our Bible:

  1. Adam & Eve
  2. Abraham & Sarah
  3. Noah & his wife
  4. Issac & Rebekah
  5. Jacob & Rachel
  6. Boaz & Ruth
  7. David & Bathsheba
  8. Zechariah & Elizabeth
  9. Joseph & Mary

1 John 4:7-8 says: 7 “Deaf friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child. And so everyone who loves, knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, becasue God is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:5 says: 5″Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against each other”

Many marriage couples have a bad habit of remembering all the negatives and not remember any of the positives of each other. But God is opposite, praise the Lord.

Same as a baseball pitcher in a game. He hasnt pitched all season until the last game. How you think he felt? He was nervous. The first pitch thrown hit the batter. The second pitch thrown hit the batter.  The pitched felt awful and down.  The coach starts to walk out to talk with the pitcher. Knowing he was probably going to be fussed at, the coach comes up and encourages him “You are doing great. Keep it up. I know you are going to do better”  The coach sits back down and immediately the pitcher’s self-esteem is brought up. Three strikeouts are thrown.

We have to choose our words carefully when we approach a negative situation.  Choose to be positive, not negative.

Love is NOT about what you get from others….Love is about what YOU give to others…..Love is about sacrifice…

The Hebrew word for Wife is defined as “one who is intimate”……you notice it doesn’t say “one who is intimate FOR” or “one who is intimiate TO”

The idea should be “one who is intimiate WITH”

Your words are like a sword…careless words hurt….if you talk negative to your spouse, you are like “stabbing them with a sword”

If you pull out the sword, they “bleed”   whos responsible for the bleeding to stop? We who stabbed, are responsible for it…

When you married on your wedding date, your spouse did not come with an “expiration date”   You married UNTIL death do you part….

 

My greatest thought that I want to close with is your HOME is not a house. It is not your office desk. It is not your MAN-CAVE….. your WIFE is your home. When I tell people, i miss home…I want them to understand that I am really missing my WIFE….

Lover never fails to develop good leadership in the HOME…your wife needs it. Do it!

If you want to improve your relationship with your spouse…must SERVE them first.

If you want to become your spouse’s best friend….must SERVE them first.

 

Distractions in the Midst of an Important Week

Distracted

This is a post from another Christian blogger: I am passing this along… Thanks to Caitlin for your boldness!

Last night my husband and I had an in depth discussion about the following picture:

equal sign

Many opinions were discussed. None of which I will share. Neither of us care to publicly enter any debate.

It dawned on me as I could not sleep last night where the real issue is. Regardless of your opinion on gay rights (positive, negative, or indifferent), there is a larger issue at hand.

Today is Wednesday, March 27th. Tomorrow is Thursday. About 2000 years ago, on that Thursday Jesus sat down for his last meal with his closest friends. One turned on him that night (Matthew 26:14-16, 25). Another claimed he would die with Jesus, only to deny he even knew him in the next few hours (Matthew 26:31-35). That Thursday night and into Friday morning, Jesus was betrayed, arrested, denied, endured trials, and sentenced to death (Matthew 26:47-27:26). Friday he was mocked, tortured, and crucified (Matthew 27:27-44). Matthew 27:50 tells us that he “gave up His Spirit”. For every flawed person who would ever walk the earth. Especially you. You who grew up in church. You who have never been to church. You who sit in the pew every week. You who mock the very One who created you. You, the imperfect one.

This Friday is called Good Friday, because we remember what God did for us by sacrificing His Son upon that cross. But do you remember? Or are you still trying to figure out who’s right and wrong on that legal issue?

Well played, Satan. Well played. You dangled the bait (and we all took it) for believers and nonbelievers/ believers and believers/ nonbelievers and nonbelievers to turn on each other, draw lines, AND DISTRACT EVERYONE FROM THE GOSPEL. You made it as simple as posting a picture on a social media site to make everyone lose focus of what this week is really about.

PS-for the end of the story, see Matthew 28.

Getting “Holy Spirit – Roll-tided”

Hey everyone! Hope all is well. Me and Mandi just got in from a blessed weekend of serving our Lord. We were invited to be part of the Alabama Baptist Conference of the Deaf in Talledega, Alabama at Camp Shocco. Camp Shocco is owned by the Alabama Baptist State Convention. What a weekend! We had left a day early to spend some time with some close friends of ours at their home. And then Friday morning, we took off for Sweet Alabama….

The trip was so worth it. Me and Mandi arrived about 5pm and immediately was met by friendly faces and warm hugs. Of course, thats called southern hospitalility, SMILE! Anyhow, the theme of the weekend was “How To Be An Effective Christian” using the scripture reference from Romans 12:2 which says “Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.”

I had broken the scripture down into 3 challenges:

  1. Don’t Change to be like the World.
  2. Let God Change You
  3. Decide What’s Best and Pleasing to God

Friday evening, I used the illustration of a tea bag and handed one to each person in the congregation.  As they held the tea bags, I went on to teach that in order for us to not change ourselves to be like the world…we have to make sure we do not become influenced by the world, do not copy the world, and do not follow the world.

The additional scripture that I used was from James 4:4 which says “Don’t you know if you love the world, you are God’s enemies?..”

Which indicates that we cannot love the world AND love God equally the same…. We can be “IN the world” but not “OF the world”

Too often we pray to God to get us through our struggles, and sometimes the world gives us a better chance for our outlet needs….but like a tea bag, we have to go through “hot water” (or struggles) to make us a better people for the Lord. Tea cannot be made without hot water…..therefore…a Christian cannot mature without struggles of their owns.

I also shared a picture of a church within a fenced-off field. Too often the “fence” is not used properly. The purpose of the fence is to help us to protect ourselves from outsiders…but too often, we become curious and peek over the fence to see what the outsiders are doing and sometimes become drawn into it ourselves.

But another sad point about the fence, the church sometimes never leaves the fenced-off field…causing favortism or causing the church to die out. Lack of mission-minded churches is not pleasing and honoring to God.

Friday evening was a great kickoff worship and the Lord was definitely working on some people….

Saturday morning, I used  the second part “Let God Change You”…. I emphasized the word “LET”   its a choice. We have to LET God change us. We often get stuck in the world’s view of change such as:

  • change your body to look better
  • change your house to be bigger
  • change you car to look more richer
  • change your clothes to be more better

We get stuck in comparing ourselves to others…God isn’t interested in how you look, how your home is, or how much your car is worth…God is only interested in your heart. If we LET God change our hearts, our worries about other things will diminsh.

Sometimes as Christians…we want the best for ourselves…don’t you think God does too? Of course…but sometimes we as Christians are put to the test before God blesses us with what we ask of Him. A little struggle here and there helps us to mature…and in the maturing process, God indeed changes us.

James 1:2-4 says “My friends, be glas, even if you have a lot of trouble. You know you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything

That scripture is proof that our struggles DO help us change for the better. Our faith grows. We mature as His children. And we learn to endure.

I used the illustration of an ONION. Its easy to peel off the outer layers of an onion, right? But as you get closer to the center, it becomes harder and harder to peel off the layers. That is what God does. He peels and peels and peels us until we will be able to withstand anything as long as we trust in Him.

Saturday evening was a great time! I performed my first 212jam Concert of this year. I did 7 songs with stories in between. Some of the Alabama folks wanted to know the list of songs that I did, here they are:

  1. Salt & Light by Jami Smith
  2. Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone by Chris Tomlin
  3. Who Am I by Casting Crowns
  4. Arise by Don Moen
  5. How Great Is Our God by Chris Tomlin
  6. I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe
  7. Here I Am To Worship by Chris Tomlin

Tears and smiles filled the two hour concert which was done in American Sign Language. I shared life applying stories to challenge us as Christians to not be like the world, be more like Christ.

Sunday morning, was the last part of the series. I shared “Decide Whats Best and Pleasing to God”

In order to “let God” change us…we have to first examine what needs to be changed within us. You are the only person on this earth that knows your sin and your heart better than anyone else. You know your sin. You know what needs to be improved.  We need to get rid of our bad habits, stop our sins, and do whats pleasing and good to God.

Too often, Christians talk the talk, but do not walk the walk.  We wear the “WWJD” bracelets and the Christian teeshirts, but when the world comes on us strong, we copy them, we follow them, we allow them to influence us. NO! We need to influence THEM….and get them to follow Christ and get them to copy Christ.

The last scripture that I shared with the group was from James 1:22 which says “Do what God’s Word says, not just listen to it

We can not just listen listen listen listen to the teachings of our Lord….He expects us to USE it and apply it to our lives. The more we allow God to change us, mature us, empower us…..then we will start to do more to please Him.

May God bless the Alabama folks. We truly enjoyed the fellowship there and we look forward to serving them again in the future if God wills it.

Deaf Day of Prayer

In 2009, the Lord cast an idea to me. A vision….Deaf people from all over…coming together…to pray…. different churches….different denominations…different people…coming together to do the ONE thing that we are expected to do…PRAY.

And not only just to PRAY, but to pray for each other…in spite of all the doctrinal differences…prayers still are lifted up to one God, one Savior.

In January 2010, I announced the first Deaf Day of Prayer and began inviting people that I knew in the area as well as the states bordering mine. For three straight weeks, I aggressively prayed, invited, prayed, invited, and prayed. The result? 142 people showed up….22 different churches….14 different pastors of Deaf churches. What an awesome experience!

We had a regular worship service led by Deaf, music by Deaf, prayers by Deaf, and I gave a challenging message on PRAYER.

I presented the challenge to PRAY more WITH people, not just for the people….whats the difference?

When you pray for someone…it sometimes becomes an “inactive prayer” or in the words of the Deaf people, “taking cheap.” But if we pray WITH someone, the prayer is in action right there, on the spot, in front of that person.

The challenge was laid out….and to this day, I still hold to my own teaching. Whenever I see a prayer need, I will pray on the spot to that person or in a message, or in an email or on the videophone in front of that person. Isn’t that the way prayer should be done?

In 2011, Mount Pleasant Christian Church adopted the idea and hosted a Deaf Day of Prayer in August of that year. I was invited to lead worship music and to close with prayer for the leaders and pastors in the area.  The Deaf Day of Prayer hit home for many of them….and the challenge was laid out again.

Now in 2013, we are praying that someone hosts the Deaf Day of Prayer once again….with the way our economy, our government, and our leaders are reflecting some of our neglecting of God’s Words…..we need to be be on our knees praying more than ever… we have a potential candidate for this year’s host. But it should not stop at one…. please be in prayer to maybe host a Deaf Day of Prayer at your Deaf Church or Deaf Social event.

If you would like more information about what it takes to do this sort of thing, please email me or call me via videophone. I would be happy to help. May God bless you!

What Last Year Taught Me?

As I reflected back on some of the events of last year, I am reminded of something my mentor once told me: “Everyday, you are a piece of history for yourself, for your family, and for maybe, someone else out there.” i am reminded and thankful for all of the things that I have been able to do not only for my only experience but to help some people in the process.

2012 wasn’t a year of sunshine and spring air. It had its shares of downs and rain too. While I am always grateful for the many lessons I learned, I would like to extend those lessons to my readers.

#1 Need comes in different forms

Almost every place that we traveled to, we ended up being used to help someone in need. Whether it was a young pastor who was experiencing hard times, a married couple who was not on track with God, or someone who was in a hard situation…God doesn’t give us the role of “weekend pastor” just for the congregational event, but also one-on-one. I am appreciative of the ministers that I had dinner one-on-one with at every church that I served at. I am appreciative of the teams that serve these churches week in and week out. I am appreciative of the people who focus 100% on the needs of others but at the time time, still reach out for help themselves knowing that God strengthens those who call on His help. I am appreciative of the never-ending shortage of prayer and support that the Lord uses through us for the needs of others.

#2 My life has a purpose to someone

While being at home, I didn’t really “serve” much throughout my local city. The church that I attend had social events where I serve as a tech-person. It doesnt really fit my “spiritual gifts” as a teacher or pastor but it is something that I can do to help until something better comes along. While my heart’s desire is to “teach or preach” to Deaf people locally, that door has not opened yet. And while that door hasn’t opened yet, my sense of “purpose” hasn’t really felt big. But I am reminded that its the little things that matter the most. Visiting friends and keeping company. Hanging out with the guys and having a coffee with them. Simple text messaging conversations to brighten up each other’s days.  My life has a purpose to someone and it doesn’t require standing in front of a group of people or teaching a lesson. Its all about relationships.

#3 Making myself more available

2012 was my first FULL year, after leaving a full-time pastoral position, of being available. I made a purpose to be available as much as I could. Whether it was to meet someone one-on-one, couples counseling, or just to help someone with their needs….I tried more harder this time to be open more. The biggest disappointment for me was the fact that I still was not able to do MORE for God in the areas that I knew I could serve Him better at. Our church started up a Bible Study on Wednesday evenings but it did not seem to hit home for me and my wife, so we decided to not continue to go and allow God to show us what He wanted us to do and maybe God will move us to serve elsewhere. I also have had more time with my family, more time to coach my little girl’s sports and also to spend more time with my son and his basketball needs. This is a big thing for me and will continue to broaden that as much as needed.

 

So thats for 2012 lessons…. what am I to do for 2013?

Church. As of now, me and my wife are currently going to be praying and visiting other  churches in the Metro Louisville area. The church that we have been attending is a great church. Alot of good friends there and great outreach program. But we feel the Lord is moving us on to create new opportunities somewhere else. We have already visitied some churches already and will continue to look more for a church home that will open its doors to a new work.

N.A.M.B. (North American Mission Board) is working with me on starting up a new Deaf church in the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio area. We already have a potential pastor in that area, a potential church home, but we are now waiting for the pastor to select his team. Once the team is selected, then NAMB will likely ask me to come weekly on Wednesday evenings to teach Basic Church Planting lessons for the team to learn together before the church launch. This is an exciting thing and I am praying that God will bless this new work.

212jam Ministries is blooming. While most of 212jam is revolved around music, I am finding more and more Deaf groups inviting me for the preaching / revivals / conferences part MORE than the music / concert parts. This is fine and acceptable. It just goes to show me that God is changing some things and I need to prepare for it better. In this year alone I have 11 speaking / preaching roles and 5 music / concert roles. The newest and most exciting part are the Deaf Mens Conferences in Minnesota & Columbus, Ohio area as I have prayed for the opportunity to challenge our Deaf men someday and instead, God gives me two opportunities.

It is my prayer that 2013 teaches me more valuable lessons than the years before. May God continue to use me, my family, and our witness to all those we cross paths with. God bless you!

 

How to Be a Godly Example? – Listen to Warning Signs

You know when I was 18 years old, I bought my first car. It was a 1986 Chevrolet Eurosport. Black and silver with red trim. Now the car wasn’t all that great, but to me it represented freedom! I was 18 years old, with a car, and no limits. I was excited. I drove around for the first few months and then BAM…it happened. “A blinking light” Have you ever had those before? Especially the one that says “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” That’s the one that I got. For days, I tried to see what was wrong but didn’t find anything. So I got to thinking, ‘it’s a malfunction that triggered the light to remain on. So in trying to not be annoyed by the light, I got a piece of electric tape….and covered the light on my dashboard. Mission accomplished. I have ignored the annoying issue and I can be on my way. Awesome!  But evidently, that didn’t work. My car would need a major repair later on. All because why? I ignored the warning signs.

You know, in our Christian lives….in our daily walk with God….God gives us “warning signs” as well. Now they not be a “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” light but these warning signs are brought before you for a reason. The real reasons for the signs may not be revealed until later but they do ask you to do something, rather than ignore it. God may be asking you to do several things: (1) Its time to make a change (2) Its time to seek for help in your situation (3) Its time to ACT before it’s too late.

One of the first earliest warning signs that God gave to us was from Adam & Eve’s time. Where the Lord warned them both not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 2:16-17)…but while they knew of the warning, they ignored it which led to “sin”.

The next example was used through their children, Cain & Abel in Genesis 4:2-8.

2 “Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 “In the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.”4 “But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering”5  “but on Cain and his offering, He did not look with favor. So Cain was angry and his face was down.”6  “The the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry?” Why is your face so down”7  If you do what is right, you will be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is
waiting for you..it WANTS to have you to do wrong, but you must control it”

And we all know how that story ended up…

8  “Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Lets go out to the field.” And while they were in the field Cain attacked and killed his brother Abel”

God sent a warning in Verse 7. He said “Cain, if you do not do what is right, SIN is waiting for you and it wants you to do wrong..you must control it”… But Cain missed the warning…he didnt control himself, and eventually it led to sin…Cain had put some “electrical tape” on God’s voice, so to speak.

  • This is why marriages a destroyed….God warns us about something….and we ignore it
  • This is why friendships are destroyed….either one or both miss the warning signs
  • This is why families are broken up….we do not pay attention to the “blinking lights” to warn us

The lights and the warnings are recognized AFTER its too late….

So how do we as Christians listen and recognize our “warning signs?” There are several ways:

(1) Gods Word at the right time

Have you ever noticed sometimes when you go to church, you had just experienced something bad and you are seeking a way to get over it. And when you get into church, the pastor preaches a sermon that felt like it was exactly designed for YOU? God speaks to us at the right time, when we need it.

Or sometimes, when we are around friends or family…who do not know what we are going through at the moment. And a conversation pops up that is exactly the same as your situation and God uses the people in that room to give you the answer you need. God speaks through people to speak to us at the right time, when we need it.

(2) Example of Others around us

It is interesting. Long after Cain had murdered his brother, Abel. Long after Cain himself had passed away. People in the New Testament were warning people NOT to be like Cain. In 1 John 3:12, “Do not be like Cain who belonged to evil and murdered his brother”

People were warning others not to follow Cain’s way.  Sort of like today, “Dont do things your way, do it the way God would want you to”  Have you ever had friends who did something and it turned out to be a big mess? And when it was your turn to do the exact same thing, you started to do the same routine that your friend did UNTIL someone warned you, don’t go that way…go a different way.  We learn from the mistakes of other people and follow the examples of the ones who do right in God’s eyes.

(3) Positive Words from Others

Many of our friends sometimes see the “warnings” before you see them yourselves. For example, a relationship that is starting to become serious, your friend finds out that your date is misusing you for wrong reasons. Should we value the feedback of our friends? Sometimes they hurt, sometimes they help. But God uses people to share positive words with us to help us improve something.

Or maybe God uses people to give you the right words at the right time. Or maybe God uses people to help you to realize whats more important at that time.

When I was 9 years old, I had written my father a letter that was for Father’s Day. While I was at church with my mother, my dad would stay home and had no interest in church. In Sunday School, the kids were asked to write a letter to our fathers.  Here is what mine said:

“Happy Father’s Day, Dad”

“I want you to know that Jesus loves you”

“I want you to go to heaven with me because if you don’t I will miss you”

“All the other’s kids dads go to church, why can’t you come too?”

“I love you so much”

“Love, Steven”

God had used me to give a warning sign to my dad. To invite him to church, to witness to him, and to show love. later on that year, my dad had come to church and he had accepted Jesus as his personal Savior.

Sometimes God will send a pastor to help or a friend. But sometimes God will send a child too. Maybe your own children.

What are some of the “warning signs” that your friends KNOW about and has warned you about but you have continued to ignored?

  • Drinking problems that is coming in between your relationship with people?
  • Gambling problems that is causing financial stress on your family?
  • Bitterness and anger towards a person that is causing you health problems?
  • Having no accountable partner for your porn addiction problems?
  • Marriage problems that is causing you to be more distant from each other?

Many early warning signs are there and easy to recognize, do you have some “electric tape” on it to ignore it?

(4) Bad Experiences that God allows to Happen

This is something that no one wants to experience but unfortunately, it has to happen sometimes.  Ignoring the warning signs , we will end up experiencing something bad and God tells us, “this is only a small part of what it will be like if you continue to ignore me”

For example, you have a great job…..It takes all of your time, you are always tired…never having time for family, friends, church….your wife/husband is always upset about you working more hours…and then it happens…you lose the job. While you may be upset at God for the moment…maybe we need to understand that maybe God allowed it to happen before it got worse for you… God gave you early warning signs when you was not at home as much as you should have been…your family missing you, your kids missing you….your responsibilities at church were not being done because you was too tired or had to work that day. God knows whats best for you and allowed you to not go any further in that direction. He took you out and brought you into a new path.

Proverbs 20:30 says it all…”Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways”

Sometimes God allows small damage to happen before the BIG damage happens..

here are some questions for you to ask yourself today to help you think maybe you are ignoring some “warning signs”

  1. Is your life so busy, that you need to slow down?
  2. What is the top priority in your life now?
  3. When’s the last time you had a real one-on-one time with God?
  4.  Are the friends you hang out with, are they “godly” people?
  5. Do the friends you hang out improve you as a Christian?
  6. Are you spending your money the way God wants you to?
  7. Do your friends know that you are a Christian? or are you like them?
  8. Parents…are your kids hungry for your attention?
  9. Are your kids missing you at home?
  10. Whats preventing you from spending more times with your kids?
  11. Are you teaching your kids about the Bible?
  12. Are you praying with your family?
  13. Marriages…is your relationship stressing?
  14. What is causing that stress in your relationship?
  15. Have you sought help for your situation?
  16. Are you ignoring your problems to make each other happy?

Friends…God is speaking to you now….

“But if you do not do what is right, sin is waiting for you..it WANTS to have you to do wrong. but you must control it” (Genesis 4:7)

How do you control it? How do you get past your feelings? How do you relieve all of that stress?

This can be done in two simple steps:

  1. TRUST IN GOD
  2. Remove your “electric tape” off of God’s warnings.

Ready….Set…..Go….  may you be blessed in your next step….

Summer Updates of 2012

Awesomeness”  Thats the word I would use to describe this past summer and all that God has done through me, my family, and the 212jam ministry that He has blessed me with. I wanted to take the time to go into each ministry opportunity and explain what was done, and what the results were.

Kentucky Baptist Conference of the Deaf was in Campbellsville, Kentucky at the Campbellsville University on June 8-10th. It was my first time back since 2006. I was asked to lead worship music for the weekend. It was great to worship with old friends again. I got to have a real heart-to-heart talk with several Deaf pastors while there. Me and my wife, Mandi attended alone and it was a great opportunity for us to “minister” to other “pastor & wife” teams.  Brother Ricky Milford of Alabama did a splended job on presenting the message on “Each One – Reach One” challenging each one of us to reach one person and spend extra time with that one person to train and mentor in the Lord. I came home with a passion to do so and began exploring ideas on how to help the conference to improve. I also had a burden for the Youth in our conference. So for next year, I will be volunteering to take care of our Youth in next year’s program.

Masters Hands For Christ Deaf Church on June 15-16 in Swartz Creek, Michigan was the first Deaf Revival of the summer. John Bielien was the pastor who invited me. I knew him and his group from the Deaf Cafe years and we bonded greatly through mentoring and constant communication through the years. The church was very friendly and took care of us well. We stayed in a house right next door to the Deaf church which was awesome. The purpose of the Revival was to teach “committment” to several things: (1) Follow (2) pray (3) Worship (4) Build.  I also did a 212jam Concert as well.  All of these (except Sunday morning’s worship) was behind the Deaf church under a tent.  So in retrospective, I had my first ever tent revival, YAY! We left with the knowledge that relationships were strengthened and committments had been renewed. Praise God!

Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf was held in Bolivar, Missouri on July 22-27. Me and my wife attended only with the purpose to create new networking opportunities and to reunite with old friends. Workshops were provided throughout the week but only attended two of them which interest me. One was focused on the future of Deaf Ministry work. The other was on ASL Music. I had set up a booth for my 212jam ministry and it create new opportunities for ministry elsewhere. I had many come to me for needs for different areas. This was also the place where I had my first ever music video made on campus. Awesome!  We left with a burden as well to seek out ways to improve the conference and to pray to God where we can help within it. I also volunteered my time for 3 years to help with the Youth there as well. Being immature at heart for 3 more years shouldn’t be too hard, smile!

In His Hands Deaf Ministry @ Crosspointe Church of Nazarene in Salisbury, Maryland on August 3-5 was a one of a kind opportunity. This was a Leadership Retreat focused fully on PRAYER. There was about 15 or so in the group and we learned how to pray, who to pray for, and why to pray. We did team-building exercises that everyone seem to enjoy. I did a mini-concert with 4 songs to help lead the last segment into a deeper prayer focus time. We closed off with teams of two praying for pages of prayer requests that I had collected from the weeks before. I had noticed the people became prayer-warriors after reading these pages and learning that people out in our community are in need of a Healer. It was a heart-changing experience for many, including myself. At the sunday morning service, I handed each person a wooden block. The wooden block represented something in our lives that we needed to let go and let God take care of it. It was great to see many confessions come out of it and much renewal in the Lord happened. Later that evening, the pastor and his family treated us to an evening at Ocean City, Maryland which was beyond beautiful.

Liberty Deaf Camp was held in Madison, Ohio from August 12-17th. Me, Mandi, and my three kids attended the camp. I was honored to pastor the camp all week which consisted of about 180 people all week. The theme was “Focus On God” and I used various scriptures from a guideline that the camp gave me. By Tuesday Night, the Lord started working on the hearts of these young kids. Decisions were made little by little to follow the Lord. Three important words that was taught and reminded all week on how to Focus On God (1) Be Action (2) Be Strong (3) Be Example.  Wednesday evening, I had shared my personal testimony which impacted the evening. Many came forward to express their need for a Healer, their need for forgiveness, and their need to express a similiar testimony. God really worked that evening!  Thursday brought together 41 total decision: 21 decisions for salvation, 9 rededications, and 11 baptisms. Of the 11 baptisms…one of them was my daugther, Kamayla (August 16, 2012) will forever be a special day as I baptized her that evening.  We left camp with a joyfyl feeling and look forward to seeing God’s work more in the future.

God has done some extremely awesome stuff this summer through 212jam.  I look forward to seeing more of His Work soon.  May the Lord bless you and your ministry as well, as you continue to serve Him!