Burdens of the Heart

You know something?…(silence)

I have a burden. Its a pretty big one if you ask me. Prayers have been lifted up….mentors have been summoned….seeking scriptures to help guide me to what I must do….and it all comes down to one thing….(silence)

Yea…thats it….just silence….

It is now heading into Thanksgiving 2013 now…my travels for evangelism work has slowly decreased. Which is pretty great timing because all three of my kids are involved in sports. My oldest, TJ who is 18, is involved in his senior year playing high school basketball. This is an important year for him as he will be attracting college scouts for his ballplaying skills and his height (7 feet tall) He already has some potential prospective schools looking at him. My second, Faith who is 11, is playing basketball for her middle school. She is my baby. She is a daddy’s girl, for real. She puts her mind to something and she punches through, just like her dad. My youngest, Kamy who is 8, just finished up her volleyball season with her school and is not fully focused on her first cheer-leading season with the school, as well. They had their first competition and she just blows me away with her energy. On top of the busy sports schedule, I just started working a part-time seasonal job at the local Toys R Us store and I have been enjoying it. One of my bosses is a youth minister and that gives me much needed flexibility for my travel schedule, in case. But aside from the work, the evangelism travels, and the kid’s sports schedules…..I still have a burden….

Every place that I have traveled to…whether its to minister, to serve, to teach, to worship with, to lead, to pray, to counsel, to do whatever it is the Lord leads….has left me a burden…. marriages needed guidance….. men needed to be mentored….. women needed to be counseled…… pastors needing support…… church congregations needing to be taught about love and unity….. worship needing to be more focused…… hearts needing to be mended….. I leave each church group crying and burdened…..

I ask the Lord to show me what more He wants me to do…..

Recently I came home from one of my travels and something that he said caught my attention….. “Its good to go out and teach people about the Lord. But we can’t forget the people in our own backyard.”

Thats when it hit me…… its soo easy to go to ANOTHER church in ANOTHER city in ANOTHER state and teach people about Jesus. But when it comes to teaching people in our own backyard, it is so much harder.

It would be almost 3 years since I stopped pastoring the local church at Southeast….and I gotta say, I miss the people…the Deaf people who I was ministering to. I miss the teamwork of the worship team…preparing every week for worship. I miss the fellowship after church. I miss the get-togethers during the week to catch up, support, and praying with each other.

While I see my own local city is in need of spiritual help, it has become harder to step back into serving for a local ministry. One reason is because since January 2013….me and my family have been without a “HOME” church. We have visited churches but nothing has hit home for us. The church that we were leaning towards just received some news that their senior pastor was moving to accept a position in another state. So that prayer was answered and it revealed that we do not belong at that church. So while my burdens still linger, my heart is heavy for the Deaf who are not active within a church.

The local Deaf church is doing well and we have visited it quite a few times. But the senior pastor there and me know that I need to be elsewhere serving and helping to reach out to more Deaf to know about Jesus.

I have even fancied the idea of God moving us out of state to elsewhere where He sees us needed the most. I know of several churches who would welcome us. But maturely, I will wait on the Lord to show us which and when.

May I ask that you pray for us in our journey…..no….better choice is to pray WITH us in our journey….. God bless!

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Is “trash-talking” part of a Christian’s way?

Is “Trash-talking” part of a Christian’s way?

Reflections on 1 Sam. 17:41-54

Recently, one of the teams that I follow lost to a premier excellent team. #2 Michigan State 78 – #1 Kentucky Wildcats 74. As to be expected, my Facebook walls news was piling up with posts and comments on the loss. I live in Louisville, Kentucky where the University of Louisville Cardinals are the state-rivals of the Kentucky Wildcats team. People starting to trash talk about how bad we had played, how immature it was for the Kentucky team to be picked the #1 team in the nation. As I read off on many of the comments, very few people copy what I do. On my Facebook post, I mentioned that it was a great game between two great teams. Great job to both teams!  That comment alone gives praise to the winner AND to the loser….

I often view trash-talking as a way of belittling those who are not in our favor. Negatively talking about another. Or in simple terms….to put down someone or something. I was reminded immediately of the fight between David and Goliath…how was “trash-talking” incorporated into their battle and how was the reaction AFTER the battle? These are my findings as I was preparing for a sermon…enjoy…INSULT FOR INSULT. Similarly, the fight between David and Goliath began with psychological sparring. Goliath thought that Israel was insulting him by sending a mere youth to fight against him. He said (1 Sam. 17:43 ESV), “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” Goliath’s reference to “sticks” may show that he saw the shepherd’s staff David carried but failed to see the sling (1 Sam. 17:40). Then after cursing David by his gods, he tried to intimidate David by promising to leave his flesh on the field of battle for the vultures and animals that feed on carrion. David’s reply was, in part, similar: “I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth…” (1 Sam. 17:46 ESV).

DAVID’S FAITH. Although David’s words surely baited Goliath and were perhaps similar to the “trash talking” that occurs between athletes today, there was also a difference. Unlike Goliath who cursed David by his gods, David simply said that he came in the name of the LORD Almighty whom Goliath had defied. The battle then became not one between Goliath and David but between the gods of the Philistines and the God of the armies of Israel.

GOLIATH’S ARROGANCE. While Goliath tried to intimidate David, he himself approached the fight with overconfidence. He considered himself a seasoned warrior facing an inexperienced youth. He carried a sword, a spear, and a javelin, and he wore protective armor while his opponent was dressed in a shepherd’s garment and carried a staff. Perhaps his confidence caused him to overlook the sling that David carried in his other hand. If so, pride led to his defeat. Prov. 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Instead of mocking David, he would have done well to heed Ahab’s advice to Ben-Hadad: “Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself as he who takes it off” (1 Kings 20:11 ESV).

GOD EXALTED. David’s son Solomon later observed that “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all” (Ecc. 9:11). Solomon was right in that David’s victory over Goliath was not due to strength, wisdom, or ingenuity of any kind. On the other hand, because Solomon limited himself to what he could observe under the sun, he attributed the victory to “time and chance” rather than God as David did. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 ESV). Isaiah says, “The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:11 ESV).

IDOLS DETHRONED. David did not allow Goliath to intimidate him. He had faith that God would exalt His name so that “all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” Just as God had thrown down and decapitated the idol of Dagon in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant years earlier, so God threw Goliath face down and decapitated him in the presence of one coming in the name of the Lord..

So as a Christian, should we “trash-talk?”   I think the better question is… is what I am saying HELPING people to see Jesus in me?  If your answer is yes, then go for it. If your answer is NO, then you may need to rethink your ways of talking about sports…. the simple solution is to give praise to both teams….The biggest challenge for sports lovers is to put God first, sports last.  Unfortunately when the game is on the line, and the score is close…and the team loses, we often reach for the first comment in our mind to trash-talk…. Romans 12:2 teaches us to “RENEW our minds….” so may you be challenged to renew your thinking before, during, and after a game. After all, God loves us no matter…shouldn’t we love each other too?

Can a Christian Celebrate Halloween?

In a day when good is called evil and evil is called good, it is very difficult to establish boundaries, especially involving questionable issues.  Churches seem to accept more and more worldliness, while some Christians are getting less and less tolerant of anything except their version of the truth.  Gray areas are widening by the minute.  Choices aren’t as simple as they used to be.

This article seeks a balanced response to deal with the many areas where the Bible is silent by using Halloween as its primary example.  I choose not to give a simple ‘Yes/No’ answer lest I offend some disagreeing soul without good reason, nor do I wish to lead any agreeable souls to a decision without conviction.  Here are four guiding principles from the Scriptures:

#1 – Whatever I do should glorify God.

In I Corinthians 10:31, the Apostle  commands that everything we do, including even eating and drinking, should be according to this rule.  This is the greatest of principles.  Many times, the first question a person asks about a ‘gray area’ issue is: “What’s wrong with it?”  This is really the wrong place to start.  The Christian perspective dictates we ask: “What’s right with it?”  Eph. 5:10 puts the responsibility on the individual to “Prove what is acceptable unto the Lord.”  The ultimate right is God’s glory.

In the context of Halloween, for example, pumpkin carving is neither moral or immoral.  What you carve can glorify God and ‘give light’ or not.  Dressing up in costumes is not, in itself, bad, yet the outfit may be God-honoring, flesh-appealing, or flat out Satanic.  God must be glorified in our actions, as well as our motivations.  One does not nullify or justify the lack of the other.

#2 – Everything I do should benefit the gospel.

I must consider whether what I do helps (or hinders) the salvation of lost souls (I Corinthians 10:33).  If I participate in the questionable issue, will it spread the gospel by adding to the mission or hurt Christ’s cause by distracting from the message?

Halloween turns out to be one of the greatest annual opportunities to share your faith.  People will actually come to my door, my church, my booth asking for a treat… If you miss this open door, well, here’s your sign!  Light shines bright when the world is so dark; yet at the same time, worldliness can dim your ability to share your testimony (Matthew 5:15-16).  Separation from sin should be practiced, but not to the point of isolation from sinners.

#3 – What I do has an end.

Everything has consequences. Have I considered where the gray area in question will lead?  According to I Corinthians 10:23, some things are allowed (lawful), but not everything is beneficial to me (expedient).  Although this is not an end-all, I must give proper consideration for where my actions will lead myself and others in the future.

Halloween often affects families with young children.  And children often practice in excess what their parents did in moderation.  As a general rule, each generation gets further and further from purity and piety.  For example, Halloween was outlawed in America until 1845, and now it is very odd when families, even churches, do not celebrate this ‘holiday’ (holiday used to mean holy-day).  It doesn’t take very long to observe the fairly-steady progression of wickedness in ones’ own lifetime, but you should take time to look far into your grandchild’s lifetime, too.

#4 – What I do affects my Christian family.

Does it bless my brothers and sisters (I Corinthians 10:32)?  Will it edify (build up) or will it offend (tear down) their spirit?  I must consider other Christians, especially those with weak(er) consciences (I Corinthians 8:9,13).  Even if I do not necessarily have a conviction about it, I should seek not to offend someone else who might.  If I have a conviction about it, must be careful not to offend someone who doesn’t.  Romans 14:1-5 is clear that I have no right or basis to judge (condemn) another Christian and his views.  I stand in danger of God’s judgment when I do so.  I must be fully persuaded in my own mind, not in everyone else’s!

Halloween is a simple example of how well-meaning Christians can differ in opinion/conviction with regard to an issue where the Bible is silent.  The best practice is liberty.  Live by the ancient wisdom: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”  When a Christian jumps to a judgmental conclusion against another Christian, he only reveals that he indeed is the weaker of the two.  He is the immature, self-righteous ‘babe in Christ’ given to conflict (I Corinthians 3:1,3).  Take the high road: determine not to offend nor to be so easily offended (I Corinthians 8:13).

Footnote: As to the question: Do I celebrate Halloween?  My personal response is simply, No.  We celebrate Harvest.  This might seem like a cop-out justification to some, but consider this… Halloween is not evil because of pumpkins, costumes, and candy – but because of the culture of violence, fear, death, and especially the demonic occult.

Yes, our children carve pumpkins.  This year, one carved ‘Jesus is Alive,’ one ‘God Hearts U,’ and the other, a cross.  My boys even put their pumpkins out on the street to witness to the drive-bys.  They have one heartbeat – that the light of God shine in the darkness.  We usually don’t dress up – but we never dress up in fear-mongering, violent, bloody, sexual, humanistic, faddish outfits.  We usually use a little creativity and share the common grace of simple, innocent, childish imagination and pretend.  But we don’t limit this to one time of the year – we do it throughout the year.  And just because the world is doing something doesn’t make it wrong, nor does it mean we cannot.  For the last decade our family has participated in the biggest outreach of our church: Tract-n-Treat on Main St.  We have averaged giving out 3,000+ tracts and toys to families in a one and a half hour time frame.  We participate, but only for the glory of God and the salvation of lost souls.

Where do you stand and why? Do you stand upon the Word of God or upon your feelings?  I’m only a student of the Bible and don’t pretend to be an expert… I only hope this makes you think.  Take time to look up a reference above, research God’s intent, and take your stand.  I welcome your comments – both of disagreement or of affirmation. (Thanks to Patch for the inspiring words)

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.