Hello Again!!

Wow. I just realized that I had a blog and totally forgot about it. Forgive me for not keeping up with it. I believe now would be a good time to update.

This morning I read half of my postings on the blog and I was amazed. Amazed at what? How God has brought me from one place to another and to where I am today.

21 years of ministry. Seems like only yesterday I was asked to teach a small men’s bible study class using materials from a Promise Keepers booklet. God has brought me through some real good stuff. But He has also brought me through and out of really hard stuff. I used to think that those “hard” experiences were a waste of my time. But now that I look back and after reading some of my past postings….those “hard experiences” were my “stepping stones” to where I am today.

If you are reading this and you was a former member of any church that I served for and with. Whether I was part of the administration or leadership team, pastor or ministry leader, or part of an outreach team…this is for you. You know who you are.

Let me formerly say that I am proud of serving with you. No matter the “hard experiences” or good ones…God taught all of us a lesson while we served together. Romans 8:28 is clear on that…”For we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”  While I admit, for some people that I served with…I felt the time was wasted…but the Lord was teaching me several things: patience, kindness, and the practice of unity.

Every ministry that I have served in has brought you and me to where we are today. God has brought me to Alabama to help strengthen the Deaf ministry work here. So far its been a challenge but the Lord has given us some great people with great potential to do His work. Once again…God is reminding me of patience, kindness, and the practice of unity.

The one thing that God is putting on my heart more lately above the other three is HEALING. The folks that I am serving at this time and for the past year or so…are in great need of that. So many people have been hurt by “hard experiences” that I feel some have not shifted their awareness to know that these “hard experiences” are “stepping stones” as well. WOW! I just experienced that myself while serving in 21 years of ministry.

And we sometimes wonder and ask God…”why put me through this?” instead maybe, today…we need to ask God…”OK, with this experience…How can I learn from this and help You?”

 

Notes from Deaf Leadership Conference – Thrive 2014

As mentioned, I said I would share the notes that I learned from the conference in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It was hosted by Deaf Missions. The bi-annual conference is for leaders or pastors of Deaf Ministry / Churches. It was my first time and I was very encouraged, as well as reminded, of many of the things shared throughout the three days there.  May you be blessed and encouraged as well.

 

Session 1 – Darrel Bonjour (Pastor of Paramount Baptist Deaf Church in Amarillo, Texas)

“From Discouraged to Encouraged”

The word THRIVE means to grow. We all have different ways of growing. But we need to focus on three areas to THRIVE:

  1. Thrive individually through your relationship with God
  2. Thrive with your church family. Relationships with people in your church are important
  3. Thrive with your mission field. Community outreach, mission trips, etc.

How do we THRIVE well? We must “SOW” biblically.

Galatians 6:9 says: “We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up”

Some statistics that I want to share with you that I learned from the internet:

  • Every month, 1700 pastors leave the church
  • every year, 4000 new churches are planted
  • every year, 7000 churches close

Wow! Thats sad! Why are our pastors leaving? Why are the churches closing?

Here are some reasons why our pastors leave the church:

  • some realized that they were not called to be a pastor
  • some kinds of immoral sin
  • personal reasons between themselves and God
  • overworked – average 55-75 hours a week of working
  • not enough financial support for the work they do
  • lack of support spiritually
  • overwhelmed by problems in the church – having to do it all themselves
  • stress or health related
  • feeling of a failure because the church is not successful

How do we encourage our pastors or leaders who are thinking about quitting?

Lets read from Psalm 73:1-26

The character of focus is named ASAPH. Who is he?

  • He is one of the priests who led worship during the dedication of Solomon’s temple
  • He saw many bad things happening
  • He saw Solomon led astray by women and idolatry
  • During these hard times, Asaph wrote Psalm 73

Lets read from Psalm 73 and find out more about Asaph

  • In verse 1, Asaph saw God bless the pure in heart
  • In verse 2, Asaph saw NO blessing for himself
  • In verse 3, Asaph envied the success of the evil people
  • In verse 4-9, Asaph saw that they had no struggles while doing evil things.
  • In verse 10, Asaph saw they were drinking plenty of water, while mocking others (only rich people had clean water)
  • In verse 12, Asaph saw that the evil people had no worries.
  • In verse 13, Asaph was frustrated because he tries so hard to keep a pure and innocent life
  • In verse 14, Asaph is hurt all day by new struggles.

THIS IS WHERE WE NEED TO PAY ATTENTION…ASAPH THOUGHT ABOUT QUITTING!

After all of these experiences, what did Asaph do to change his mind? Lets keep reading…

  • In verse 17, Asaph went into a personal sanctuary and understood its importance.
  • In verse 18, Asaph was reminded who wins in the end, God.
  • In verse 22, Asaph is reminded that his thoughts about the evil people are silly
  • In verse 23, Asaph is reminded that God is with him.
  • In verse 24, Asaph is reminded that God leads him with wise counsel
  • In verse 25, Asaph is reminded that God is his ONLY need.
  • In verse 26, Asaph is reminded of God’s strength and where he draws his own strength from.
  • In the end, Asaph says, “I will declare your wonderful works”

 

You see the attitude change?

Our challenge to those who are considering quitting.  Look at Asaph and read Galatians 6:9 again:

“We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up”

 

Thursday Morning Workshop – Darrel Bonjour (Pastor of Paramount Baptist Deaf Church in Amarillo, Texas)

“Difficulties in Ministry

How do we resolve difficulties in ministry? First LOOK AT YOURSELF

Some of the things we encounter in ministry are:

  • Difficult people. Gossipers, those who LOVE to stir up trouble
  • financial issues with people
  • counseling issues
  • exhaustion, not enough time to do everything.

Lets read from Mark 6:7-8.

7 “Jesus called his twelve apostles together. He sent them out in groups of two and gave them power over evil spirits. 8 This is what he told them: Take nothing for your trip except a staff for walking. Take no bread, no bag, and no money.”

lets review this scripture, piece by piece.

  1. Jesus called his 12 disciples together to do his work. He was going to tell them it was not going to be easy.
  2. Jesus gave simple instructions. *take no bag, food, money. ONLY take a staff. (wood stick)
  3. Jesus wanted his 12 disciples to depend on God, not depend on things, no distractions, no baggage.

Baggage is an interesting word. Baggage is similar to past problems such as bitterness, anger, rejection, hurt.

  1. everyone has baggage. (every has experienced something bad in their past)
  2. find the ROOT of the problem
  • if the same problem pops up in your ministry, something could be wrong with the leadership – not the people.
  • get rid of the problem “take nothing for your journey – Mark 6:8)
  • be root in love (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Our conversations with God needs to be like our conversations on the TDD machine. Everytime we type, at the end…we always push “GA”

The problem is when we talk to God, we usually give a “SK” not a “GA”

Session 2 – Darrel Bonjour (Pastor of Paramount Baptist Deaf Church in Amarillo, Texas)

What are you Sowing?” – Galatians 6:8

We are often deceived in two areas: (a) unhealthy friendships – 1 Corinthians 15:33  (b) Sowing /reaping – Galatians 6:8

Often when we sow in our own fields, we want to reap the harvest of another field. We can’t compare fields. Just like churches, we want to be the main guy for another church but not for our own church.

We MUST tend to our own fields….sow it, water it, weed it out, water some more….

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you sowing in your own spiritual life?

Back in the days, Israel and its kings follow God…the rest of the kingdom followed God too.

So if the pastor or leaders are following God….the rest of the congregation will follow God too.

A church’s character is a reflection of its leadership.

All leadership should try to follow qualifications from 1 Timothy 3:2-5

  1. leaders should be blameless
  2. leaders should be husband of one wife
  3. leaders should have self-control
  4. leaders should be sober-minded
  5. leaders should be respectable
  6. leaders should be hospitable
  7. leaders should be able to teach and be teachable
  8. leaders should not have addictions
  9. leaders should not be violent
  10. leaders should not be quarrelsome
  11. leaders should not be greedy
  12. leaders should manage family well
  13. leaders should have a good reputation with unbelievers
  • do you love people? – Mark 12:30-31

It is so easy to ignore the drama and troubled-people in our churches

  • does prayer become important in your life? – Colossians 4:2

do you believe God can or does more than you ask for? – Ephesians 3:20

If we do not have prayer, we will not THRIVE in any way.

  • Do you attend opportunities (outside of your church) for spiritual growth? Deaf conferences, deaf revivals, deaf workshops. Doesn’t always have to be deaf, but if you are Deaf pastor or leader…your networking is important to other deaf pastors / leaders.
  • do you evangelize? – Matthew 28:19
  • do you empower people to minister? – Acts 14:23

 

Session 3 – Matthew Bellwood (DeafTeen Quest Regional Coordinator)

“Guaranteed Success”

What does success look like? What does Thriving look like?

There are not the same thing because of certain issues.

As leaders & pastors, we need to be reaching out to the lost everyday. If we do not reach out, we will not thrive.

Thriving depends on two important things: (1) DIG DEEPER (2) REACHING OUT

Success is measured mainly by your ASSETS.

There are three kinds of people in this world:

  1. some people make things happen
  2. some people watch things happen
  3. some people say “What happened?”
  • We need to create an urgency.  Urgency to THRIVE in many ways.
  • We need to have a clear strategy. In order to THRIVE, we have to have a good strategy

Many people are great on strategy plans, and they are effective ministers.

If a person studies a lot on the Bible, but have no strategy plan…it will become a failure on reaching the lost.

Video-Logs are great but they become too long, extended, or shows not a good strategy plan. Keep it short and simple. Especially for our deaf youth people.

  • We need to build / empower better teams

Jesus did this with 12 disciples who became effective leaders for his ministry.

 

Session 4 – Matthew Bellwood (DeafTeen Quest Regional Coordinator)

“Guaranteed Risk”

Our top skill in ministry, no matter what field you are in, is LISTENING.

I love the scripture in Luke 24:15-19.

It shows the listening skills of Jesus.

  1. Jesus came alongside them
  2. Jesus asked questions
  3. Jesus already knew the answers
  4. Jesus listened

There are two quotes that I really love and want to share with you:

“An important part of praying is a willingness to become part of the answer”                                                                        – Duane King, Founder of Deaf Missions

“Every pastor chooses how he will lead a flock. As a risk taker, as a care taker, or as an under taker as it slowly dies” – Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church

  • We need to be HONEST with each other

we must recognize our weaknesses.

Allow God to transform our SCARS into His STORY.

  • We need to have diversity and unity on our teams.

Our teams need to have different kinds of people from different backgrounds. Lets face it, we all want people on our teams that are exactly the same as us. They think like us, they work like us, they do everything exactly the way we would do it. But its not going to happen. We need to work together, learn together, and grow together.

its a risk to work with different weird people, but its worth it.

  • We need to SHOW UP.

its a risk to show up. be prepared for the unexpected. And make the most of every opportunity

 

What NOT to do when defending our faith…

You know, this past week…no this past year, I have encountered many people who have lingered away from God into a totally different world. It has saddened me. While I will not go into names because I believe we need to protect those who are still growing in their faith and those who have doubts after seeing these people turn from God. So if you are posting videos, CNN articles, websites, etc…stop it. This is not the way to defend our faith. Putting a picture out there or video out there and adding your own quote does NOT defend your faith well. Because in the end, what are people going to look at most, your words or that picture / video?

Lets be real for a moment……we all have our ways of defending our faith…but is it the correct way? For the past few days, I’ve compiled a list of things that I feel would be proper in defending our faith towards a person who has doubts or has already turned away from God.

(1) Don’t tell them about their beliefs, tell them about YOUR beliefs.

Too often, we get so emotional and caught up in the idea of trying to teach people that their doubts are wrong, their ideas of a God-less world is crazy, and their decision to turn away from God will send them to hell. We are called to love everyone, no matter what or how they live. We don’t have to agree with it. But we need to communicate with love and with a gentle heart AND with gentle words. Teach them about your experiences, what you have seen, what you have come to know. Talk WITH them, not talk TO them.

(2) Don’t say things unless you are ready to defend what you say.

This is a very weak area for most believers. We say stuff to our friends, but when they come back to ask us where in the scriptures does it say that. We get stuck. Be knowledgable in your material. An army soldier does not go to battle unless it is mentally and physically prepared. We as soldiers of Christ need to prepare for battle everyday. Be ready mentally, physically, and spiritually.

(3) Do not ignore answering questions from them

If we ignore questions, because its too hard or overwhelming, it causes others to identify that you are not knowledgable or not able to defend what you say. If you don’t know the answer, be honest and say so. If you are feeling overwhelmed, be honest and say so.  Think of it on the other hand, would you want you questions answered too? Do so for others.

(4) Do not threat or insult them

If a person turns from God, and you bluntly tell them “You are going to hell” – that is a threat. While in some scriptures, it does point to that. That is not our way of reaching out to them. That is not the spiritual answer. A threat like that is more of an emotional one. Threatening or insulting those who have turned away from God only does two things (1) pushes them further away (2) causes them to be more firm in their decision to stay away from God. We are called to pray for those who have turned from God. Don’t say you will do it, DO IT.

(5) Do not think that one person speaks for all of them

Do we Christians have one sole person to speak for all of us here on earth? No, we all have different beliefs, different opinions, different views, different backgrounds. It is same on the other side. What one person says will be 10 times stronger coming from someone else. It would be wise to study on what some say on specific areas to be knowledgeable in situation if the question or discussion arises. Let the person speak for themselves. Maybe God will use you as a tool to win them back.

(6) Do not send them emails, messages, calls with hurtful words. 

This is almost similar to #4 but in the Deaf world, it has become so easy to access people and say things without seeing the response from their faces. Recently, a friend of mine converted to atheism…and while I was hurt and while I was emotionally drained…I sent him a message with a simple and heartfelt meaning. “Brother! Just wanted to let u know that no matter what decision you make, u have my love and prayers for your journey. Blessings!” Simple words of love will go a long way. Because when and IF they turn back to God, they will remember the words of those who were positive and who were negative. Be careful with what you say.

I close this post with a scripture that I love to often mention:

Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”

My brothers and sisters….the time is NOW to turn up the heat on evangelism work. If you are a minister of a church, enlarge your territory (Prayer of Jabez) and do MORE outreach than before….reach out to other ministers who may be discouraged….mentor them, support them, pray for them…..we need more soldiers prepared for battle!

May the Lord be with you always! Be Strong, Be Courageous, Have no Fear, God is With 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….

The importance of first impressions…

This past weekend, I attended a conference for the Deaf which I had missed out on in the past 6 years. I had prayed earnestly for this conference. After experiencing some heart-burdening situations, I feel more and more that I need to be deeper in prayer for all that are involved.

I do not have a doubt that I will go back to this conference again. It is “needed” for some of us. I only pray and wish it would become a priority for many others who choose not to come. It was not the conference costs that created a barrier. It was also not a conflict of schedules for many. It was simply a choice to come or not. What the reasons behind those who chose NOT to come, I am determined to research and find out.

But I do know one thing for sure may be a barrier. Because I always watch for it. Its two simple words: “first impressions.”

And not only just for pastors and leaders…this is a lesson for ANY person….when guests arrive…the first impression you make on them in the first few minutes are important. Are they good ones or not? Are the impressions good enough to make the guests want to come back again next year?

“making the most of every opportunity…” Ephesians 5:16 mentions to encourage us to make our “first impressions” last through a lifetime to help Christ’s love be remembered the way He wants it to be remembered.

is your “first impressions” solid? Do they need to be worked on? What would people say about your conference? Your church? Your home?  Something to think about….

May your “first impressions” be an image of Him…

 

God’s provisions – Reflecting on the last few months

I know its been awhile since I posted and I apologize for that. It seems when I get the motivation and time to do a blog post or two, something else pops up and God keeps me busy busy busy. I guess the Lord doesn’t want me to have “idle hands.”  God has been gracious to us and thats what I want to post about…His provisions.

There has been times when I looked into the Bible and read something and wonder what life would be like if I wasn’t involved in ministry at all. Even after my 15 years of ministry doing, this past year has been…bear with me…the “easiest at mind but burdened at heart”…does that even make sense? Knowing that there is much work to do but also knowing God will provide. One of my friends who I used to work with mentioned before that they “admired” me for my child-like faith. It is through that child-like faiith that has brought me from Point A to Point B over and over again.

In the past few months, I have traveled to several places and have seen the sheer will of God working endlessly in the hearts of people that He has brought into my path. You know that saying “God brings people into your life, sometimes they stay, sometimes they go, sometimes they cause trouble, sometimes they bring peace, but no matter the situation that they bring you…be an example so that they may remember the love of God”  I hold that quote close to my heart. It is one that I live with every day. It is the EXAMPLE that I work on myself to improve, so that the people can see the love of God daily.

So what if I am not preaching every week at a local church. I believe and KNOW God has other plans. So what if I am not recieving the 20+ calls on my videophone everyday, I believe and KNOW God made that happen so I can have more family time. So what if I am not leading any kind of Bible study with a group of believers at this time, I believe and KNOW God has held me back for some R&R. So what if you are reading this and rolling your eyes at what I just say, I believe and KNOW the best is yet to come. I know that in due time, God is going to unleash something that He wants me to be a part of. And that is where provisions come into the picture. I have thought long and hard about some of the things that has happened within my ministry experience that has been “stepping stones” and “life-lessons” for me. Alot of the lessons learned were preparing me to do what God wants me to do now.

What am I doing now? The local church now that I am attending is going through a slow process of building up relationships and spiritual development. Am I doing anything for the ones within the group? Up front, no…behind the scenes, yes. We just had our first Deaf Social event last night (March 16, 2012) and we had a great event. I was planned to be just the “tech-guy” for the event to control the lights, sound, computer, and music. I was determined to make sure that nothing went wrong. In the meetings beforehand, I had shared with our Deaf ministry leaders that I did not want to do any stage-work. No leading music, no speaking or quoting, no up front of the group at all. But that was “Steve” talking. And of course, God had to go out of the way and change things up. Don’t you hate that sometimes? 🙂 Two of our people were unable to come to the event to fulfill their duties and that left one song short….and whats sad….I tried to get others to take over that song slot. And apparently, God had other plans.

You gotta remember…its been since May 2011, since I have been up front preaching or singing or leading anything locally. But then I bowed my head behind that tech station while everyone was eating and fellowshipping and I said “God, is now the time?” and sure enough, I had found an old bulletin from a church that I had visited. On the front of it was a bold title that spoke to me. “REMEMBER YOUR CALLING” I froze and was almost tearing up.  Here I was in the back of the room, all alone, while everyone else was talking and eating….questioning God….and all along it was as if He was saying “Steve, remember your calling…GO!”

……..I caught my breath…..told the Deaf ministry leaders that I would close with the song if time permitted. When I got up on stage, all of those months of worrying…all those days of wondering if the rumors had died down enough……seeing all the people that had come up to me and asked me if I was okay and wondering and worried about me….it call came down to one simple solution….God’s provision….(sigh)….and I tell you what…God rocked it out! I had done that song before at concerts and worship services, but that one time…God did the song through me…not me.

So whenever you feel down…whenever you lose hope….whenever you feel like God isn’t listening….whenever you struggle….whenever you are frustrated….whenever temptation creeps into your mind….whenever you forget who the real Father is….whatever you are experiencing at this moment that is causing you to not think postive about church, pastors, God, etc…….I have one simple solution for you….PRAY… why? becasue God will always will provide….. may the Lord bless you today!

Heading out….

Next week, I will be heading out of town to my parents for a couple of days to meditate, study, and spend some time with the Lord as I prepare for traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee to preach a revival on August 5-7. I also will be practicing music for my upcoming 212jam concert on August 7 too. If you happen to be in the Knoxville area or know of some deaf people or interpreters who live in that area, please pass the word on to people about the 212jam concert. If you are not familiar with my ministry, please go look at the website www.212jam.org.

In the meantime, here is a small glimpse of what the revival theme will be. I will not reveal anything more about it until AFTER the revival weekend.

God’s “Most Wanted List” – Contrite Heart


For the last few months, I have had probably the hardest times as a minister than I ever have had in the last 13 years of ministry work. I cannot recall ever going through so much. Without going into details, these last few days have been the hardest. But in the midst of all these things happening, I know God is with me. He will be with us no matter our trials. He will hold our hands no matter the struggles. He will scoop us up into His arms no matter whats being said or done. He will love me because He loved me first, before I loved Him. As I write this post after much reading, praying, and seeking, I am reminded of a scripture that I read recently. Psalms 51:17 that says:

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (NIV)

In my Life Application Bible, it has a note that says:

God wants a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart. You can never please God by outward actions – no matter how good – if your inward heart attitude is not right. Are you sorry for your sin? Do you really intend to stop? God is pleased by this kind of humility.

God wants a “contrite heart.” I didn’t know what this meant until I looked it up to refresh myself…it means to “be repentant” or to put it more simple “to be the end of ourselves and to allow the beginning of God’s freshness”

It is easy for people, during times of struggles, headaches, and hard experiences, to forget the importance of being broken, Lord knows..I have.  Not many people would choose to be burdened with heartache or disappointment, but few that go through suffering fail to realize some value from those times…after the trial has passed.

As I was recently reflecting on my own times of “ups & downs…good days & bad days”, I read alot of things on the internet, in books, scriptures. And I discovered several important things to being broken before the Cross:

It makes and keeps one humble Humility is highly honored by God and is an attractive quality to others. You can never be tooo humble. When I think about this area, I am reminded of the prostitute that washed Jesus’ feet with her own tears and dried Jesus’ feet with her own hair. To do that required a heart full of humility.

It teaches important life principles Honestly, I have learned more from the hard times in my life than from the good times. Everyone needs to be looking into learning lessons from every experience, both bad and good. It has been said often that “without rain, flowers cannot grow.”

It brings repentance I often forget how much I need forgiveness.  Brokenness, especially when caused by my own actions, reminds me I am hopeless apart from His grace.

It encourages a fresh start  Starting over is not always as bad as it seems. Lord knows that new fresh starts are often needed in ministry. Satan works so much on us that we often forget that our time on earth is short. New beginnings start with the “renewal of our minds and hearts fixed on Him”

It invites grace Brokenness brings me to my knees.  That’s never a bad place as long as my heart looks upward towards God. Being on your knees also shows humility. Being on your knees shows “a need” for something from God.

It shows humanity Brokenness reminds me that real people have struggles. Real people need a Savior. I am reminded of a church slogan in that past “Real people with real struggles worshiping a real God”

It welcomes the heart of God Psalm 34:18 says, “God is close to the broken-hearted.” To have a contrite heart means to clean yourself out and allow God to fill that empty space. To have a contrite heart means to “make Jesus more important that yourself” NOW…not later.

So may you have a humble heart today and everyday, as I will strive to do. May you welcome God into your life more and more everyday, as I will strive to do. May you remember that God is close to you in your struggles of life, as I will always remember too. May your remember that after the rain has happened, something more beautiful will come…as I will remember that too.

The Risks of Leadership in Church

I have been writing this for several weeks, taking bits and bits from articles that I have read, scriptures that I have read and making sure little by little that it is made understandable for those who are “leaders” or praying about leadership in the near future….Many have asked me “How do you put up with it? (the backstabbing, the “target on your back”, the negative comments, etc) Read below for an explanation….

If you ever plan to be a leader or already a leader now, in any situation, it will always involve risk. There is no way around this. Leadership requires us to be  open to go where no one else will go, do what others won’t do, become what others will not be, and say things what most say can never be done at the risk of failure. When I think of a person out of Scriptures, Nehemiah was a perfect example of a leader.

After hearing the news of his people, Nehemiah had an emotional meltdown. He was so deeply burdened that he cried, fasted and prayed for months over the situation. But Nehemiah was unable to allow his emotions to become public.  He was expected to keep his emotions hidden. Nehemiah knew if he allowed his sadness to be seen in the courts of the King, he would risk everything. Possibly even his on life. So, Nehemiah prayed to God, “Grant me success today by making the King favorable to me…”  (Neh 1:11)

As Nehemiah met with the king, he couldn’t hide his sadness any longer and the King took notice. The King asked Nehemiah, “Why are you looking so sad?” The scriptures tells us that Nehemiah was terrified as he approached the king and shared his burden. On top of his sadness and courage to share the problem, Nehemiah had the guts to ask the king for help. While, this may not seem too risky to you, it could have cost Nehemiah his life.

Nehemiah was willing to take a risk in order to help his people find meaning, wholeness, healing, and purpose in life. He was wiling to “ go a different way” and lay it all on the line for the sake of progress. Whether you lead a small business, or a large corporation you must be willing to take risks for the sake of progress. If there are no RISKS, there cannot be not GROWTH.

If you lead a church, risk is simply part of the calling. As with Christ, when you pick up the title of leadership, you lay down your desire for safety and a life of easy. Those who are leading churches and feel it is a safe place to work until you retire, think again. Without risk there can be no forward motion. Without a willingness to risk, you will be a “blind man leading the blind”

Here is a saying you can remember for the rest of your life: Those who never try to do anything great, never have anything that lasts a long time. Those who are against risk, who love to play it safe and “go with the flow” within their corporation or church, need to resign and find something more fitting to that mellow method. To move forward is to encourage GROWTH and that will always require risk. If we fail to lead people in GROWING,  is the same as to leading them to mellow living (go with the flow), going off the main course, and ultimately spiritual death.

Why I mention this? Because too many leaders are resigning for the same reasons. Instead of jumping into leadership, maybe you need to ask yourself the biggest question of all “Am I REALLY in?” or “Am I here temporarily?”

 

“To be a praying person” means to….

In the last few weeks, I have been challenged on this thought many times. “To be a praying person means to…” I recently have been praying more and more than usual the last few weeks. But thats not what a praying person means to do….. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that many of us will never amass the amount of prayers that God expects of us sometimes.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “Pray continually” or in the King James Version, “Pray without ceasing”  I often wonder…wow! Pray without stopping? as in non-stop? as in 24 hours a day?  While some may percieve it that way, I tend to beleive that a constant awareness of communication to God is sufficient description of this scripture.

I mean lets face it, How many of us REALLY pray more than normal everyday?

Most of us are used to seeing our parents pray before meals. Or before bedtime. But God desires our communication more than scheduled appointments before we eat and before we sleep. Actually if you think about it….God desires us more than we desire Him. Its true and its sad.

Earlier this week, I had sent an email with a message to wish a family member an early birthday wishes. This family member was the one person who helped introduce me to Jesus. I also went on to apologize for issues and events earlier in my younger years that had caused an “emotional drain” to her and some other family members. My heart was sincere in this apology and I prayed for a reply back because it had been a few years since I spoken with this person, especially about this issue.

This morning, I recieved a reply back. And I was heartbroken. It appeared that because of my actions in the past, some of my extended family are still in doubt of who God has made me become today. My role in ministry is still being questioned by some of my extended family. But I am accepting of the fact that my heart-brokenness could never match the ones that I hurt.

While an apology may do some good for a short time, I am challenged now “to be a praying person” for my extended family.

Lord, I pray that the actions that I did years ago before I became serious in ministry will be forgiven and forgotten. Lord you know my heart and my actions are in a much better place than before. Many of the family and friends have seen my change and have seen the good that you are doing through me. I pray now for the few who have not gotten to see that, who still question me, and who still may have not forgiven or forgotten. I pray Lord that at this moment, that you humble me to be a praying person for these few. I pray that you will heal our hearts and spirits. I pray that you will send comfort and peace upon us so that Satan can no longer be welcome in our family. Lord, I ask for your Hand to guide this and to lead us the way that we must go to find that healing. So that when all is said and done, we can praise You in our storms and praise you in our victories. In Jesus Name, Amen