Monday, December 31, 2007

New Beginnings...New Expectations

According to Kevin Conner, 8 is the number of New Beginnings. He has used scripture to define and convey this truth; and I agree. We are a few hours from 2008; and I am looking forward to a year of new beginnings. I am also seeing that a lot of work will need to be done; to whom much is given much is required. We have made several changes in our congregational leadership paradigm; for instance, we have gone from trying to establish 20 plus ministries; and now we will focus on 6, their formation, and making them the best that they can be--so that God is pleased. We did a sign up several weeks ago and the results were actually the most positive we have had since we've started the ministry. Now it is my responsibility to disciple, train and equip these saints for the work of the ministry. This will be both challenging yet VERY rewarding. In the past, I've done this with one or so people; some things worked-but there were things that fell through for whatever reason. Maybe it was just too much information, I don't know. But at the end of the day--some that I have discipled have recieved it and are doing very well; others have not. Overall, I am praying that God will work through me to do a better job in equipping disciples. I look forward to the Lord granting this request.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

This last Sunday of the year has marked the end of things old and the beginning of things new. Today was a good day; it has also been a difficult day for me personally. Well, difficult may be the incorrect word. Let me simply say--I delivered the State of the Church Address. The reason why it is always difficult for me is because I am talking about our vision. Not that I hate talking about our vision-it is just extremely taxing and takes a lot out of me. Also-because preaching is my element and something I love to do--I have the added pressure and wanting to preach the way I typically preach; and I just can't do that and talk about the vision. My experience has been when talking about our vision--that I have to stand flat-foot and 'talk' to our people, and clearly share with them our direction. It is something I feel that I must do and need to do on a regular basis.

We are between Christmas and New Years-so many of our members and regular attenders were out-for one reason or another. I can't say this was a great surprise; though my expectation was that I would be proven wrong.

The good news is we had in our worship service a committal and burial. We buried and committed to ashes every issue and person that we needed to let go in 2007. 2008 is the Year of New Beginnings. And we are entering the coming year with a new attitude, perspective, and commitment to do things God's way.

This is going to be a challenging yet rewarding time for us; but I am excited about the new possibilities!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

...Finals

This is finals week. I have taken one final thus far. I am not pleased with how I have done and plan to contact my professor tomorrow and see if there is ANYTHING that I can do to make up for the horrible job I did today. All I am looking for, at this point, is GRACE. I need it - I really have no excuses. Interestingly--I think we have all been there SPIRITUALLY as well!!! No excuses, should have done better, could have done better--just didn't. We need HIS grace...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday, December 10, 2007

Thank the Lord for a wonderful day in worship today! Attendance was nothing out of the ordinary--still waiting on the increase. Nevertheless--God was present!!! And that is all that really matters. This was one of those mornings where nothing seemed to come together--couldn't find my glasses, left my coat at home, etc. All in all--God moved in our corporate worship experience and He really used the message. Also--Sunday School was fantastic!!! I expect God to do more each and every week at Cornerstone...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Annual Church Survey....

For the second year now, we have conducted a church-wide survey. It is only 'church-wide' insofar as only a selected few take advantage of the survey. I am busy trying to tally up all of the answers, etc. Though I appreciate the obedience of some of our members who took the survey--I am two-sided in my response to the survey. On the one hand, I appreciate those who really gave honest answers, whether they were harsh realities (like my not answering my phone enough) that I already knew the answer to or some great comments and views regarding our church. This will both help and challenge our church as a whole. On the other hand, as a NEW pastor, I see why more churches/congregations DO NOT conduct an annual church survey. Because though there is a desire for everyone to be honest, all are NOT qualified to assess the progress, spirituality, and quality of the church. They just can not!!! I don't want to say NEVER. But I doubt very seriously that we will be doing an annual church survey next year. Though I appreciate and will take advantage of MOST of the surveys, I think that next time it will NOT be 'church-wide'.

I am praying that tomorrow, when the results are reviewed--that the Lord will allow us as a congregation that are few in number--to take legitimate, spiritual concerns and suggestions and implement/integrate them into the life of our great church.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

More Greek!

Tonight was MORE Greek. We had three weeks off; and it was quite evident!!! Thank God that our professor forgot that he had assigned us a quiz on declensions, etc. that I hadn't studied for--though many remembered and were prepared. He forget because OF ME!!! God is good!!! We discussed some things, mainly one that I DID NOT even know. Southern Baptists take the stand that there are Women Deacons! What? I need to do more research; this may be a Southwestern thing and not a SBC thing. The premise is taken from 1 Timothy 3:11; that, in the original language--the qualifications there do NOT make reference to Deacon's wives, but rather female deacons. I just had a lot of questions about this subject knowing that I never even heard or even considered this point of view. I remember doing a study on some of our culture calling the wives of Deacons a 'Deaconess'. I have not nor do I see now that concept in scripture. A Deacon's wife being a 'Deaconess' by default is no more true than the wife of a Pastor makes her a Pastoress or the wife of a Prophet (in the OT) a Prophetess.

Take note, I haven't done any research on any of this as of yet--that is, on female deacons. Rest assured, I WILL. And in no way, am I placing this in the category of women ministers. Those are 2 separate issues in scripture. I don't want to say anything that is incorrect only to have to correct myself after I have studied and it looks as if I am contradicting myself. I will say, as of now, my BIGGEST surprise is that Southwestern is a proponent of this view. And moreover, I have always 'assumed' that the term 'Deacon' (diakonos) was a masculine term. If the term, in scripture, is gendered neuter--then that changes everything. Atleast for me! If it is gendered masculine--then the term Deacon in my view could NOT possibly mean a female Deacon.

I will study this in depth, as I have with women in ministry--and, will post in a future blog. Bear in mind, this will take some time. I try not to stand for something unless I am 100% certain that I have done research and insight into the the biblical text. Disclaimor: I know this is a sensitive subject. Note: I have NOT attempted, in any way, to express one way or another in this blog which way I am leaning.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Bee Movie!

Yesterday I did something I have NEVER done before--I went to the movies with Kai--just he and I!!!! We have been to the movies as a family, typically he was with the church gathering; or his cousins would take him to a kid movie while Dee and I went to a movie we really wanted to see. D'Ani has been to these 'kid movies' with Kai before. I just don't do the cartoons. I never see the point of spending that kind of money for a movie that I will probably have to purchase in 3 or so months and will be played over and over again. But after church, I really wanted to just BE with Kai--just he and I!!! I wanted to enjoy his presence. The movie was okay; but my major thrill was seeing how excited thid 4-year was to have his 'daddy' all to himself. It really amazed me to see him so excited and thrilled to have me there--with him. I felt so out of place, all of the kids....women (mothers)....men with shorts, t-shirts and baseball caps....while I sported a dress shirt, slacks and, of course, my Dallas Cowboys cap!!!! (Go Cowboys!) All in all--I had to think about my prayer life; how, at times, I really neglect to give The Father the time He wants and desires. It is my prayer before this year is out to cultivate a heart like that of Kai--I want to simply enjoy being with my Eternal Daddy (Abba!). I was talking to an old friend of mine as we were leaving--they called me on my cell. I told them that I spend time with Kai and I really don't do 'kid movies' but I 'made it through'. He said, 'yes....but it meant the WORLD to him'. I had to repent--may my time with God always continually mean the WORLD to me!!!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Worship today was both effectual and empowering! I did not preach; I asked one of our ministers, Steven Richardson, to share with us the Word of God. I try to occassionally allow our associate ministers the opportunity to 'minister' and 'preach' the Word not only when I am away but also when I am present. I am told that this can be a definite blessing and example to the entire congregation toward support of those who serve under my leadership in a ministerial capacity. Being that I am not in a present series, and also working toward next year's agenda, etc.--this was the perfect opportunity to have one of our very able and capable ministers to share. He did an awesome job in allowing God to use Him as the Word of God was explained. He shared a passage from Matthew 17:1-5 and spoke from the subject "Spiritual Reconstruction". We were blessed!...I can't put it any other way....


In Sunday school we continued our series 'When God Builds a Church' and today's discussion dealt with 'Excellence'. We were blessed! Interestingly, the teacher not only teached but some stated that he was on the brink of preaching the lesson that he taught. All in all-we were blessed!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Back Home

I'm glad to be back home from the Texas Valley. God really blessed our time there, particularly on women's night (Thursday). The boys, Kai and Kaden, were happy to see me and D'Ani, of course, smiled from ear to ear!!! I love my family!!! I am so blessed to have them in my life. They are the best!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Revival in Brownsville!

This week I am preaching at the St. James Church, where Rev. Leroy Roundtree serves as pastor. This is my seventh year with St. James and I love being here! I look forward to this time every year. I really love the Roundtree family, Pastor Roundtree is just a jewel and simply has a natural gift for pastoring God's people. I see the growth each and every year. One of the things that really stood out to me this year is that the main ingregdient to their growth is is 'true' passion for prayer. He believes in the power of prayer. He sort of reminds me of one of my FAVORITE preachers, Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle. Roundtree is a giant of a man and preacher!!!

For the past several years, it has given me to opportunity to renew myself, read, reflect, and be revived. I am able to look at what's been accomplished the past year, both personally and ministerially and pray and evaluate where the Lord is guiding and leading me, my family, and the church the coming year. As He speaks to me, I realize that there are some harsh realities in terms of things that need to be done, where we must go, and YES--some mistakes I have made personally and ministerially. Last night the Lord really shined on the worship service and upon the message. It was a youth night and I spoke from I Peter 2:9 from the subject 'I'm About To Take my Position'. It was a very simple message and God is allowing me to free myself from the manuscript....comfortably though with much prayer. My messages involve a lot of information; and I feel that it is ALL extremely important. However--(though I have been preaching for some time now) the Holy Spirit is really teaching me how to follow His lead and feel the pulse of the people in preaching--and when to give more or less. For this I am grateful.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Struggle!

Today in my seminary class, we completed our semester's teaching agenda. This gave opportunity for us to glean from this sage and giant of a man we call Dr. Overton. The course is entitle 'Life and Ministry of the Pastor'. One of the things he mentioned was moving from one church to another and how he knew when the time had come to move on and when to stay in certain places that the Lord had planted him. One of the things that happened to be mention in our discussion is--being able to discern when where you are and the obstacles that you face are merely a 'time of testing' and when it is God raising the red flag that it is time to move. I think many of us who are saved struggle with this. In my transparency--I must ADMIT that I, too, struggle with this from time to time. I consider myself a person of strong resolve and persistent (though sometimes wavering) faith.

Cornerstone has face many, many obstacles. From those who have come and those whom have gone; from obstacles in finding space and a location; to finances and just simply 'people problems', lack of commitment, leadership issues, etc. My story is probably all too common among pastor, people, and many congregations. Of course, I would be to differ and suggest we are a unique situation--why? Because we are a NEW church. We don't have any history--so we don't have the credit to where banks trust us; we don't have a track record--so many of our members will not put their name on the line to make it happen; we are predominantly a young church (in age)--so there is very little commitment and giving. Why? They are doing work, school, and leisure--and usually houses, cars, etc. come first. I could go on and on but I think it's clear what I am trying to say--unless there is RESOLVE, we can easily interpret that this is NOT God, close up the church and dissolve. Others may say--this is a season of testing. I used to claim that I knew 100% for sure. I do know that HE called me to do this; but like a marriage--it is a partnership--no one is an island. No man can pastor a church by himself. We have about 5 to 10 strong, committed Christians who are being discipled under the leadership of Cornerstone--where I serve. I thank God daily for these people in particular, though I pray daily for all the members of Cornerstone. It is my sincere prayer that more of our 'attenders' will see the urgency of what is still deemed 'a new ministry' who 'has yet to fly on her own' that they are urgently needed. It is crucial and critical. Until God shows me differently--I will contine to see this as a time of testing for 'me' personally--if for no one else, I am growing spiritually and I have seen and experienced enough at Cornerstone alone to write a book!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We had an awesome time in Worship today! It was a COLD day in Houston. It was one of the only times I can remember where I wanted to stay in my socks and not go out. OF course, I thought about the season of Thanksgiving and all that the Lord has done and how He has blessed me in so many ways--I COULD NOT stay in the house that He blessed me with and get up and eat breakfast that He provided, without first telling HIM 'Thank You' for just being Who He is. He is an awesome God.

As far as I could tell--MOST of our parishioners FELT and acted UPON the way I initially felt: they stayed home! I am convinced that some had to work, others were out of town; but I know quite a few were simply missing in action. Add to this, the woman who brings many people to church with her is not doing well right now; and we are praying for her! It was a mixture of many things. All in all--it can be quite discouraging; the enemy can often make you concentrate on trivial matters. Why do I say this? Though the attendance at Cornerstone was low, the overall spirit was high--the Lord moved in the place where we worship each week. More than this--he moved in US. For this I remain continually grateful.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Evan Almighty........

I won't be long now; it is Friday evening. I can not believe that Sunday is almost here; and I am not yet ready for Sunday's message. I have a lot that needs to be done. I will be out this week for revival and I need to get together a church evaluation. I had the boys again today; and they did NOT let me even get ANY alone time to pray, meditate, and study. Needless to say, tomorrow will be an interesting day.

I did have the chance to watch Evan Almighty this evening with D'Ani. Though I am a Jim Carrey fan and actually enjoyed Bruce Almighty and its plot much more; I could identify MORE with this movie! This movie, Evan Almighty, allowed me to see so much of myself. I often feel as if I am misunderstood in some of the decisions I make, particularly with regard to ministry, though I KNOW when God is speaking. I can't really get too much into the movie without giving it all away. But if someone reads this blog-just think of me if and when you watch the movie--THAT'S ME!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm Thankful

I have so much for which I am thankful. I just want to shine a little light on a few:

1. My salvation. Ephesians 1:1-11 is so precious to me. I thank Him for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ; and for the rich and meaningful relationship that I see growing stronger on a regular and consistent basis.

2. D'Ani & The Boys. I can not say enough about these 3 people. They mean the world to me! I love them beyond any earthly degree. They make life so enjoyable. Add to this, my boys are such entertainers and so very funny. D'Ani-she is really the best thing God has EVER placed on this earth.

3. My ENTIRE family and....friends. From my parents, in laws, grandparents, etc. I love them all. The few friends, far and near, whom I haven't met by chance or happenstance. These friends are 'traffic signs' that God really loves me. I thank the Lord for them.

4. The Cornerstone Church family. To say that we have had our struggles, setbacks, and disappointments--in MY view, would be an understatement. But the people and families at our church a near and dear to me and will always have a special place in my heart and life.

5. The CALL. This is big for me. In a time when the process and the pain doesn't appear to match the promise-I know one thing for sure-I'M CALLED!!! I am glad, humbled, and honored that the LORD called someone like me. I wouldn't trade the call for anything in this world.

6. My enemies and my haters! Eventually, I will draft a thank you letter to them. I am extremely grateful for the Lord allowing and permitting this very vital people group into my life.

7. His WORD. The grass will withers; the flowers shall fade; the WORD of our God shall stand forever!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

Today was both a good and hectic day. I wasn't necessarily extremely busy; just had Kai Livingston all day; he was out of school-though I still had to get things done. Then I had to take him to the barber shop. Add to this, Kaden Lexander had to be picked up early from daycare. All went well; we had a good day. Kai and I went to Blockbuster, which is something Kai really enjoys doing with his 'old man'. I was going to go by myself; but Kai is always trying to sneak in some extra time. For some reason, he LOVES going to the 'movie place', or any place, with me. I must admit-he is crazy about his 'Daddy'. I am both grateful and humbled by this fact. It is my prayer that I will ALWAYS make him proud; it is my prayer that he will always see me the way that I see my Daddy-as his HERO. The one regret I have today is not spending more time with my Heavenly Father today in prayer, study, and devotion. I will try to do better...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Words on Gratitude & Thanksgiving, Part 2

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.
--H.U. Westermayer

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?
--George Canning

Some complain that roses have thorns—others rejoice that thorns have roses!
--Unknown

Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world: It is not he who prays most or fasts most, it is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.
--William Law

If you count all your assets, you always show a profit.
--Robert Quillen

I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.
--Kahlil Gibran

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
--John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Thanksgiving to God is an exuberant response to giving me HIS everything . . . by giving Him MY everything.
–Martha Kilpatrick

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
--W.T. Purkiser

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
-- Cicero

Monday, November 19, 2007

Words on Gratitude & Thanksgiving, Part 1

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!
--Henry Ward Beecher

Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It's a way to live.
--Jackie Windspear

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.
--Estonian Proverb

You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.
--Charles Haddon Spurgeon

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
--G.K. Chesterton

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?"
--William A. Ward

O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!
-- William Shakespeare

Gratitude consists of being more aware of what you have, than what you don’t.
–Unknown

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
--Cynthia Ozick

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
--Harper Lee

To know the value of generosity, it is necessary to have suffered from the cold indifference of others.
--Eugene Cloutier

Only a stomach that rarely feels hungry scorns common things.
--Horace

Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.
--Henry Clay

How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child's personality. A child is resentful, negative—or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.
-- Sir John Templeton

Gratitude ... goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
--Henri J. M. Nouwen

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
--Thornton Wilder

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it
--William Arthur Ward

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
--Melody Beattie

Thank God every day when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done whether you like it or not. Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know.
-- Basil Carpenter

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.
--Chinese Proverb

Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel.
--Author Unknown

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
-- Aesop Fables

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Praise God for another Lord's day! Last night and this morning we had non-stop rain. I do not think this is an epidemic, but some of our parishioners were allergic to the rain this day. The good news is-many who attend on very rainy days are often serious about worship. Praise and Worship were both uplifting and empowering. For me, I felt extremely fatigued and, in my view, struggled with communicating the message. We shared a message from 2 Kings 4 that deals with the Shunamite woman and her son. Yes-I did preach the truth and conveyed the message of the text. I tried to deal with the idea of 'remaining calm when life seems cruel.' All in all-I know that the message could have come across better; but God breathed upon the message despite my fatigue. Incidentally, though attendance was down; giving was kind of better than it has been. I am unsure if this is simply a 'Cornerstone' thing-but when attendance is the highest, giving is the lowest. I have tried to figure this out for the life of me; but it is not MY church. I do know that the economy we are living in is extremely disturbing and we have all, but declared a recession. There is no excuse for failing to give God the tithe and offering-but there are many within our congregations (across the nation) who have allowed this systemic infiltration perpetrated by the 'Administration' (from 3 dollar gas to raising electricity while minimum wage stays the same) to affect the first priority-putting God first. I have noticed--that EVERYTHING is raising in price...everything, of course...except paychecks. Well, unless you work for Halliburton. This has, no doubt, affected many churches-I am sure. I am praying for a breakThrough! It is not my intention to be political in this blog; though I think that the record in scripture will show--that the prophet/preacher didn't always agree with the current 'Administration'. I do pray for our nation (these yet to be United States), our churches (whom Christ gave His life), and for the Bush!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I do love quotes. When I have nothing to say I find it helpful to add someone else's interesting thoughts to my blog. I came across two that I thought I would add to today's blog. I have read and have often quoted the second by St. Francis; but I just happened upon the Lily Tomlin quote, which I WILL be using at some point. Typically on my blog my quotes are interrelated; these two are not related in any way. If you see any relation at all-please comment!!! I'd love to read your thoughts....
"The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat"
(Lily Tomlin).
"Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words"
(Francis of Assisi).

Friday, November 16, 2007

A note about PROBLEMS

1. Problems often provide us with greater opportunities
2. Problems can promote our spiritual maturity (Ps 105:16ff)
3. Problems prove our integrity (1 Pt 3:15)
4. Problems produce a sense of dependence
5. Problems prepare our hearts for ministry (more empathetic)
- Source Unknown.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bible Study

This evening at TNT (Thursday Nights Together) we talked about reconciliation. This is a loaded subject that really helped me both ministerially and personally. Interestingly-it lead to the idea of church discipline. In my reading, I am discovering that church discipline is extremely vital and necessary to the growth of any church. I am praying that the Lord will grow me in this area; namely because this can be a struggle for me. In my view, church discipline is hard! It is something you would love to delegate to 'a hired gun'. I want to be bold enough to both ASSESS and ADDRESS sin the pervades the life of our church. This is, NO DOUBT, the church's greatest hindrance-SIN.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

...For for THOUGHT...

Always have a book at hand, in the parlor, on the table, for the family; a book of condensed thought and striking anecdote, of sound maxims and truthful apothegms. It will impress on your own mind a thousand valuable suggestions, and teach your children a thousand lessons of truth and duty. Such a book is a casket of jewels for your housebold.
Tryon Edwards
*************
Great truths are portions of the soul of man;Great souls are portions of eternity.
James Russell Lowell

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Momma!


God has blessed me with a wonderful mother! I call her 'Momma'! I praise God for her life, her witness, her encouragement, and understanding. She has been a constant source of strength and prayerful support for our entire family.
There were many times I saw her kneel on the side of her bed and toil before the Lord in prayer; times when I saw her crying tears of joy and sometimes pain for her children (never me!) and others; so many stories she shared with me early in my formative years out of the Word of God that stick with me to this day. She shared with me the plan of salvation, and the Lord (unbeknown to me) used her as an instrument that influences my preaching, teaching, and speaking ability even today. Among many other things, she enrolled me into speech classes while I was still very young in age and was insistent that I remain there, in the midst of all of the embarrassment and humiliation I received from my classmates.
Little did I know that SHE knew that I would one day proclaim God's Word and teach His people. Traveling with me everywhere I went as a teenage preacher, nurturing me, loving me, supporting me, constructively critiquing me, and being present through some of the darkest moments in my life that I will NEVER forget (even in eternity)-This woman is a true gift cut from God's BEST cloth! I LOVE her and always will!!!

Happy Birthday Momma!!! Proverbs 31......

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day

This has been a day full of things to do; but again I say-the blog is my commitment. I am overly committed to the FEW things that I do (though I wouldn't term it in the OCD category); I do think it may be a Pullam thing, but not sure. I want my blog to be helpful, meaningful, and insightful. More than this--I want to be both truthful and relevant.

I thank God for our veterans! I have not had the opportunity to serve our country in the capacity of being in the Armed Forces. However, I think that our veterans are often overlooked, underpayed, under-appreciated, and typically forgotten after their term(s) of duty have concluded. This is a special day for me because my father, along with my 2 brothers, father in law...served in the Air Force. Several of our members are in the military. I have been touched by all of these individuals. I honor them. We honor them. The sacrifices they have made in their families, personal lives, etc. for their country are unmeasurable.

Again...Happy Veteran's Day to all of our Veteran's, past and present!

....Spiritual Plagiarism...

A couple of months ago I got in trouble (I talked about it in a previous blog); I wrote a 10 page Greek exegesis term report. I was cornered by my professor because, though I had a page full of footnotes, endnotes and references-there was a sentence in my paper that I did NOT reference. It was a sentence talking about the texture of the original masoretic text in scripture; I could have ONLY wrote that sentence had I traveled to the Holy Land and observed that particular text/papyrus myself. It is what he pointed out in the handbook as, you guessed it, PLAGIARISM. I was speechless and did NOT have a defense. It was accidental on my part and he saw my sincerity, I suppose. Plagiarism is defined as claiming, or implying, authorship for work and applying it to our own without giving CREDIT to the original author and his work....

Wow!!! How often have we done this spiritually? How often have we been guilty of spiritual plagiarism?
* How many times have we prided ourselves in something without giving GOD credit?
* How often have we boasted about our jobs, finances, families, and deliverance without giving Him the credit?
* How often have we mistaken our paychecks as OUR money and neglected to give Him HIS portion and failed to give HIM credit?

That's Spiritual Plagiarism...!!!

Just a thought--but I think it'll preach!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We had a good worship experience this morning! There is no other way to put it-God showed up and we had church. I have theological views that work against that expression: 'we had church'. But--I hope its only taken at surface value and what I intend to say is clear. I don't know exactly how to describe what the Lord is doing in our local fellowship; there are certainly changes that HE is making. It is slow growth at this point; but it is sure growth. As my eldest preaching brother has noted: sometimes...if it GROWS fast it BLOWS fast! Therefore, I am learning to appreciate what God has given me and see it as a gift. This slow growth for me allows ME to grow in the process. Attendance today was the best I have seen in a while. The spirit of the church was amazing and we were on one accord. Well-from what I can tell. I've learned to weed out negative spirits, personalities, pessimistic personalities and the like. I can't ruin my day because of trivial people who simply have a problem with themselves and God; it's not my problem. No decisions were made in terms of someone walking forward; though I had an unusual burden on my heart sensing that the Lord was speaking to someone to come forward. That burdens me; but I did my part. Sunday School went well. D'Ani taught today on the subject of 'Leadership'. She did an outstanding job! We continued a teaching series that we've been in for Sunday School entitled 'When God Builds a Church'. In our general Sunday School we had 23 in attendance today! This probably means nothing to many local congregations. But when we're accustomed to having no more than 9 or 10 in Sunday School-this is nothing short of a miracle, as far as I'm concerned. Again I am sure that the adversary is not pleased-but I am committed to seeing all of this through! God has a specific plan and purpose for Cornerstone, and He will have HIS way in our church.

Here is the skeleton for today's message:

Subject: Take Possession
Text: Genesis 12:1-2

Opening Premise: It is the desire of God that every child of His live in the fulfillment and purpose for which they were born.

Thesis: God has an amazing plan in store for you; it is up to you to follow His plan through your obedience.

Intro
- You are already in a position for prosperity and in your destiny.
- God’s definition of prosperity is different from man’s definition of prosperity.
- What prosperity is not (cars, wardrobe, etc.)
- Prosperity is a condition of existence that allows you to walk in the fulfillment of who God has designed you to be.

* Abram is already positioned for greatness (verse 1)
* Abram is positioned irrespective of his history
* His father Terah (Genesis 11:31 -32)
i. He set out for Canaan
ii. He settled in Haran (metropolitan city)
iii. He grew comfortable living short of Canaan (the promise)

- God is not in your stuff; He resides in your obedience.
- Be careful about becoming complacent in your Haran.
- There is always danger when your pursuit of stuff gets in the way of God’s glory.

Lessons:
Don’t settle too soon
It’s too soon to quit
Don’t remain where you are on the basis of how good a thing may look; because that may not be where God wants you.
When you stop before you arrive where God wants you—you may look good but you will die.

Transitional Statement: God puts you in position; YOU have to take possession.

Probing Question: How do I take possession in order that I can be all that the Lord has created me to be?

I. In order to take possession you have to change your environment. (verse 1a)

II. When God pronounces possession on you it is NOT when you have it. (verse 1b)

III. If you manage it, God will make it happen. (verse 2)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My Prayer

My earnest prayer is that the Lord will smile upon our worship experience on tomorrow. It is also my prayer that He will bless our Sunday School experience. Ultimately, I pray that He will shine upon the message and move up the hearts of his people to be both receptive and responsive to His Word and worship. I pray for all Christ-centered congregations as they gather this weekend to experience the most important time during the course of the entire week-the assembling together with the saints.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bloggers...

I wanted to post some blogs that have really caught my attention. These guys have some good information/insights! I admire how they are so consistent with blogging every day. I really love the blog. It should be a sacrifice. Though I, like so many pastors, have a strange schedule and many surprises-this is one of my forms of expression as well as an amazing outlet. By the way-I think the Apostle Paul would have been a blogger if he were living in the 21st century!

Pastor Scott's Blog

Evotional.com - Originality, Authenticity, Creativity

Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bible Study

Tonight we continued our teaching, discussion, and dialogue on the subject of 'Forgiveness.' We will conclude the study next week during Bible Study with teaching on reconciliation. We had a good, insightful study. Attendance was about the same. I am praying for an increase in Bible Study attendance and participation. The upside is that Sunday School bible studies are increasing some. All in all-I praise God for those who were present and those who were both helped and left our study with a urgency to forgive their offenders, experience God's forgiveness, and if they have been the offender-to take the appropriate steps toward reconciliation.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

....Character

You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.
- Henry David Thoreau
Be your character what it will, it will be known, and nobody will take it upon your word.
- Lord Chesterfield
Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.
-Thomas Paine

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Carlton Pearson...Exalted? Exactly!

Where in the world can I begin with this one? Whatever I say-I am certain it won't really convey what I am feeling. I've just watched a new series that began a few weeks ago, BET's Exalted. I am not only disturbed, but saddened by this great potential-turned-directionless man. My wife can attest to the fact that I have either Tivo'd, recorded, etc. things about Calrton Pearson. Let me say, I love Pearson-he is one of my myspace friends-and he is a great singer and seems to be a 'nice guy'. What disturbs me about Pearson is his uncanny way of mixing truth with error. He says things that are sarcastic and then tries to use it as a premise for what he is really trying to push-the "gospel" of inclusion. No matter how judgmental it sounds--his stance is clearly heretical.
There are just some things that make no sense to me: he says that hell doesn't exist; he states that EVERYONE (EVERYONE) is going to Heaven; he states that God doesn't condemn anyone, at anytime, for anything. This all sounds good and, believe me, the fleshly part of me WISHES this were true. The Bible is clear in Both New and Old Testament that Hell is real....period! Pearson thinks it's a metaphor. That's heresy! Everyone will go to Heaven? I really don't understand how he gets this so I will not expound. God will not condemn anyone at any tme for anything? Okay--I am assuming his basis is the scripture which states, '....there is therefore now no condemnation'. Or perhaps his premise is Christ's declaration that '...it is finished'. But Pearson should be more educated than this; he should know context, the security of the 'believer', the all sufficiency of Christ for those who are IN Christ, etc. Pearson's wife said something that really stuck with me in her interview on Exalted. She stated that when her husband announced his views, people began to walk away and it was then, in her words, '...I began to see the lack of love in the church'. Now I will be the first to admit that the church isn't all that it should be. And there are a lot of issues, including lack of love, etc. in the church. But wrong is simply that...wrong! Examining 1 Corinthians 13, I see nothing in that chapter stating that Christian believers are to condone wrong. At the end of the interview, he said that he did all of this and has gained his soul. Now--I don't make myself an authority. I don't! Maybe we will all get to heaven and discover that everybody who ever lived will be there. But if God is the God of the Bible that I read--that will not occur because God doesn't contradict Himself. One of the main 'interviewees' on Pearson was Tonex (Remember him?). I don't even have the time to talk about this misguided young man. For those who read this blog and sense anger. It is not that at all. It is "righteous indignation." I am not a politician; I speak as a proclaimer, preacher, pastor and prophet! The tragedy is this-many Christians are being led astray by this 'inclusion' theology. I consider this false doctrine to lead the bunch; namely because it appears to be so saturated in love and acceptance; when, in actuality, it is leading people astray.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Food for Thought

Nature and wisdom never are at strife.
-
Plutarch
It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.
-
Francois De La Rochefoucauld
The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.
-
William James

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday School

I wanted to add a blog about our Sunday School. The last blog was long and I didn't want to make it any longer. We had an awesome Sunday School session today. I am really liking the direction and response we are getting from When God Builds a Church outline. Today one of our members, Mrs. Adrienne Richardson, did an awesome job teaching the class today. She is the wife of one of our ministers, Min. Steven Richardson-who is a gifted preacher by all accounts. I knew that she would do a good job-though I think she stated her 'nervousness', for the lack of a better word. I began with the introduction 2 weeks ago. Last week one of our men taught on the first principle, which is TRUTH. Today, Mrs. Richardson taught on the second principle, which is WORSHIP. By the way-she was the first worship leader at our church! I am looking forward to her sharing again in this capacity. I am excited about next week-my wife, D'Ani (Dee) will be teaching on the third principle, which is LEADERSHIP. I can think of no finer Christian to teach on such a subject; she is the consumate Christian leader. After all--look who she's married to!!! Enough now, Kaden is trying to get my attention. Be Blessed. :-)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Today in worship we had a glorious time in the Lord! I must say-the presence of God was not only with us in our worship experience; but we left there today with an emphatic "YES" to the question, 'Was God pleased with our worship toward Him today?' During our worship service today, God simply showed us that He is faithful, reliable, trustworthy, and worthy! My prayer on the way to church this morning was simply asking God to meet us there; my personal struggles with impatience, discontent with mediocrity, etc. - have really pushed my faith to its optimum peak. Though I pastor a small church-I am insistent that we fight the spirit of small-mindedness. Today-though attendance was low (as it has been since moving out of Pearland-well, actually--it has been low since we started!), God showed me that He honors faithfulness toward Him. This was another reminder that He will keep His Word. I am excited about how the Lord is growing and stretching our fellowship; there are times of misunderstanding when I don't see individuals being used that I thought He was going to use. More than this, it surprises me how easily I have released myself from the burden of faulting myself for some who have either left, or are present but are not involved. Some are meant to stay only for a season; then there are others who were just in the wrong place. Then, of course, there are some who leave any given congregation because of the enormity of the task and the pressure of doing more than they desire. All in all-I thank God for each of them. I used to ask people who've left 'why' they left. I now realize that that the answer simpler than I cared to admit: 'it is what it is'!

Anyway--that's kind of off the point. As we prepare to move back to Pearland as we enter the new year, not knowing HOW God is going to do it--He did answer my prayer today as I headed to church. And that is He assured me that we are headed in the right direction. That is all I need to know! Why? Because it pleases HIM! By the way--FOUR people joined church today-these were all adults. Worship was already dynamic, uplifting, and empowering--that only sealed the deal for me. More importantly, these four people have already shown that they are at Cornerstone to work, be used, commit to the vision and leadership--and prayerfully under-gird our entire ministry with their service and witness. Interestingly--this is the first time in our church's short history that we didn't even have programs--for VARIOUS reasons. I will write later about how awesome Sunday School has been! Cornerstone is doing a great work; thought we aren't even close to where God is trying to send us--I see GROWTH! I remain prayerful and submitted to HIS service and plan...

Let me give the outline of today's message:

Subject: Don't Fight Your Furnace
Text: Daniel 3:21-26

Thesis: God could be using your crisis of adversity as a tool to perfect your character and develop your maturity.

Intro

a. Where the Devil has lost the battle for your soul, he is still in the battle for your witness, etc.
b. Don't fight your furnace, curse your crisis, rebuke the fire...
c. The furnace is good news for the believer-it's what Joel C. Gregory calls 'Growing Pains'.

Transitional Statement: The job description of your adversary, the Devil, is to make you feel as if checking with God and walking with God's plan was a wrong decision.

Probing Question:
How do I handle the fire so that God can show Himself to be faithful?

I. You have to come up with a new definition of what it means to be free

a. God delivers them while they are still in it.
b. God can teach you and train you how to walk IN the fire.
c. They're walking - and indication that they are:
i. Survivors (You and I are standing in something that should have destroyed us)
ii. Loosed (They went in bound (vs. 21) but they are walking in it loosed (vs. 25) )

Lessons:
1. Remember that God can set you free in the crisis.
2. Don't forget to keep walking.
3. Quit listening to false theology that teaches you to rebuke anything that makes you uncomfortable. Discomfort and inconvenience could be a compliment from God!

(Bonhoeffer 'I'm blessed when I BLEED')

II. When your faith is intensified, you can believe God to show up earlier than scheduled.

Vs. 24 '...looks like the Son of God.'

a. This is Daniel. Isaiah has not yet prophesied about the coming of the Son of God.
b. The 'Son of God' is not scheduled to show up until Matthew.
c. Because of the intensity of their faith-the 'Son of God' steps in earlier than they expected.

Note: Theological understanding of Christophony

Lessons:
1. There are moments in all of our lives where we need God to move earlier than scheduled.
2. The question from God's perspective is this: do you have earlier-than-scheduled faith?
3. Remember that God's glory is the brightest when your furnace is the hottest.

III. God can use your difficult situation to devise divine revelation.

a. Revelation is not something you extract out of a textbook. (Logos/Rhema)
b. When God reveals Himself, it necessitates a situation; and always a season of difficulty.
c. In the activity-you learn to define and ascribe what God does based upon a NAME that gives reference to what God did.

- You couldn't call Him Jehovah Jireh-until you couldn't provide for yourself.
- You couldn't call Him Jehovah Rophe-until you couldn't heal yourself.
- You couldn't call Him Jehovah Shalom-until you couldn't find peace yourself.
- You couldn't call Him Jehovah Nissi-until you couldn't fight for yourself.

Lessons:
1. God can use what you go through to help somebody else to see Who God is.
2. God can use your testimony and your story as a platform to display His resume'.
a. I am a reference in God's curriculum vitae:

- Under healing-I'm there!
- Under joy-I'm there!
- Under miracle-I'm there!
- Under salvation-I'm there!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.
– Goldsmith

The journey of thousand miles starts with a single step
– Chinese Proverb

Friday, November 02, 2007

un/Forgiveness and the Offender...

Last night, we began a lesson that centers around our series Why Churches Die, we have been dealing the past two weeks with two major ailments that sicken and poison the body of Christ-Glossolitis (Gossip) and the Toxin of Bitterness, Jealousy and Envy. At its root is a heart and the issue of unforgiveness. We had, I believe, a good Bible study. I continue to find some degree of discouragement because of attendance. It can be quite frustrating to see some not take advantage helpful, insightful, scriptural information--when I know that it will both help them and is something they deal with continuously in their own lives. I try not to allow myself to become overwhelmingl discouraged by looking at the majority (read the last blog and you will see the frustration) that I overlook and become ungrateful with the minority. That is one end of the sprectrum; on the other end--I think it SHOULD bother me as a pastor, to some degree. Especially when I look at the shepherd in scripture who wetn looking for the one lost sheep when he already had 99 sheep in his pasture. He passionately pursued after that one lost sheep. I don't mean to imply that those who aren't passionate about studying the Word are lost. I think their priorities are misplaced. Whether it is a result of their being 'lost' or not, that is God's call (John 15:1-8).

In our discussion on forgiveness, someone asked if it is necessary to forgive the offender when they don't even know they've offended or convinced they didn't offend. Immediately I would say yes; atleast I think that is what I've been taught-for the most part. There is another question that comes to mind: does God forgive US if we unknowingly sin against Him? If so, then what's the point of both confession and repentance? This is a question I thought I knew the answer to, quite naturally. But I thought it was a good question--that I need to look at again. I would love to know the thoughts of you who read this blog. I would love to know what you think.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Will the TRUE Disciple PLEASE stand up!

Something is bothering me...REALLY bothering me. Do you know what it is? CHURCH PEOPLE! Not all church people-but MANY of the church people that I've come into contact with. It is interesting to me: Jesus never instructed/exhorted the church to 'go and make Christians'. He instructed/exhorted them to 'go and make Disciples'. I don't know what we're trying to call this brand new Burger King Christian we're now seeing all too often in this 21st century (have it your way ain'ts); but it certainly doesn't exemplify true, biblical discipleship. By that, I mean a "Christian" disciple. There are various kinds of learners and disciples.

What in the world are we doing?
Where in the world are we going?

A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ, in my view; they are people who are hearers AND doers of the Word. They follow the commands of God and His Word. They stop making excuses when it comes to Christ and His kingdom. People (for lack of a better word--they can't be disciples) make so many lame excuses when it comes to Christ and His church that it overwhelms me to even think there is such apathy and flippancy. These excuses are the excuses that people know would NEVER fly in the corporate arena, the secular workplace, or anywhere else. They expect the church to deal with it.

Take Christian Education--that is my background and it was my livelihood right out of college. I have heard almost EVERY excuse to why people can't attend Bible study: everything from cats being sick, headaches, forgot, overslept, leg fell asleep, couldn't find their glasses, on and on. However, MOST of the people who have given these 'excuses' have been people who I know would never use to justify why they weren't at work, a party, on a hot date, didn't call in, didn't go to school. Which leads me to the premise of this blog: will the true disciples please stand up. Come on--are we serious? In this emerging age of self gratification where "it's all about me"--it is only getting worse! My prayer is that the Lord will increase the number of passionate and committed disciples of Jesus Christ in our churches. The world is becoming MORE aggressive, which means that we as Christians, Disciples, and the Church need to become MORE aggressive than we are with our poor attempt at what we've termed 'Postmodern Relevance'. When it is self-centered rather than Christ-centered, it isn't relevant at all and it is nothing more than postmodern MAYHEM. I'm sorry--I just refuse to cater to Pew Potatoes, Sitting saints, and church free-loaders. If this empties out the church even more--FINE! We'll still be around when the REAL DISCIPLES show up and ready to go and REPRODUCE!

Now I am not saying that things like cats, headaches, jobs, schools, etc are not important. They ARE important and some of them are necessary in this world. I am saying that we must learn how to put FIRST things FIRST. (Matthew 6:33) The strange thing is this--those who have been apart of the church for any length of time--KNOW, all too well, that what I say in this blog is so true. The only thing that really allows me to voice all that is aforementioned is the fact that I LOVE the church and I LOVE God's people. This provokes me to 'speak the truth in love'.

I don't claim to be very old--though I know I am about to sound archaic....but
- what happened to the days when coming to church EVERY Sunday was just a given?
- what happened to the days when the average tenure of church membership was, on average, more than 15 years?
- what happened to the days when people made church a priority?
- what happened to the days when Bible study and Sunday School attendance just made sense?
- what happened to the days when parents made their children come to church and fathers and husbands led the way?
- what happened to the days when the Pastor could correct people out of line and people would straighten up?

I feel like a Dinosaur, almost extinct. Maybe I am naive and this day never really existed in the church. But I do know that it was better several years ago than it is today! I KNOW that there are those whom God will transform into true Christian disciples. It is my prayer that more churches that are Christ-centered, Bible-teaching congregations will experience a greater influx of true disciples. Why? Because these inflated-church freeloaders won't get the job done....Period!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

IMPOSSIBLE

I wanted to post a blog today--though I don't really have much to say. I will say that I am consumed these days with seeing God work in me both to will and to do according to His own pleasure (Philippians 2:12-14). It is now verified--I am believing God to do something that is virtually and literally IMPOSSIBLE! I have finally happened upon something (somewhere) that I don't think anybody will say I am sane if I pursue it. Wow--this leads me to wonder if I am the guy for the job? I think God is now moving me to a place where I, literally, have to practice what I have preached these past 14 years. I am still resolved to believe, '...with God...all things...are possible...to them that believe...'

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Solidifying my own preaching style

Someone reading this blog is already taken aback--i used the word 'style'. Someone would say, as I would-'It's not about style; it's about substance'. I totally agree. Please don't read too much into the title. I am using 'style' there for lack of a better word.

Now to the point I want to make: I have been preaching for almost 15 years. Through all of the messages, sermons, teaching, etc., one thing I have learned--and finally accepted: for the most part, I am not an alliterated preacher! This is something I've struggled with, off and on, for years. Alliteration (doing the 5 a's one week, the 4 r's the next week, etc.) is something I have always admired. The minds of some of these expositors just boggles me how they are able to flow with this great and unique gift-to put these words together--almost without ease. Usually, when I have done alliteration, it has been from some preaching book, outline material, etc. I've noticed that alliteration works very well for me in my sentences, in giving the background, and context, and even when giving word definitions. But when I have used the alliteration style/format in my messages--I've learned how to survive a message; but I KNEW, if no one else knew, that the alliteration just wasn't working for me. I do remember reading 7 or 8 years ago that Spurgeon wasn't big on alliteration--though he did use this style earlier in his ministry quite frequently. Even back then, this didn't steer me one way or the other--though I have ALWAYS admired the 'Golden-throated' preacher.

When I first began preaching, I immediately began implementing what worked for me. For instance, my first message. I shared from Philippians 2:12 -17. My points were 1. Walk cautiously and carefully 2. God works in, man works out 3. God's Word is to be obeyed and not discussed 4. God wants you to be blameless and harmless.

Over the years, I used this format quite often...then I would often get caught up in trying to do alliteration (with my points).

Several years ago, I was taking a preaching class with a professor Dr. Denny Autry. He could not attend one class session, and so he invited his friend and preaching colleague, Dr. John R. Bisagno. I was just amazed. John Bisagno? This guy is one of God's best preachers. He is the pastor emeritus of First Baptist Houston. He was along the line of W.A. Criswell--a little younger, but surely considered a sage of a preacher. He introduced us to something that really 'clicked' for me. He showed us what he has popularly termed as PRINCIPLE PREACHING. He explained this idea as creating and delivering sermons for life applications. To really assess and address what the text really says at its core. It has only been now that I fully realize and accept what God has used and shown to work of me (can't speak for anyone else)--and that is principle preaching!!! Just taking the scripture, looking at that scripture and expressing what the writer intended to say and how that truth is integrated (and should be implemented) into the life of the hearer.

I would recommend Bisagno's book, it has been a great help to me. It is 'Principle Preaching' by John R. Bisagno published by Broadman and Holman. I will have to get a copy for all of my preachers--it is a good book with quite a few examples of how it is done!

Digression - need to make a correction

I need to add something to my last blog. I said that no one at our church fellowship has made as many sacrifices as myself and our family. That is, I think, a loaded statement--that is more a matter of opinion. I really don't know the sacrifices of the people who attend our church. I DO NOT!!! I can only assume; but I don't know. I don't want to assume anything about other people just as I would hate for others to assume when it comes to me. I almost edited the last blog and simply made the correction. But I want someone to see here that we all make mistakes and say things that we really didn't give much thought. I've thought about it; and there are so many who make so many sacrifices. Who am I to suggest that I am "number 1" in the sacrifice department? I am not perfect; though I am striving to be like Jesus Christ. I have my own flaws, struggles, questions, etc. But I am faithful to doing this thing God's way. I really want to see His glory shine through me; and it is my sincere desire to see Him take pleasure in my willingness to live a life of transparency, integrity, purity, and love for the body of Christ. I hope that this makes sense.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Memo....

Another Monday has come and it is almost gone. Thankful for all that the Lord has allowed us to accomplish today. As always--I feel that I should have accomplished more, but it is what it is. Mondays, for me, are filled with a mixture of joy and sorrow. So many things I wish were said that I forgot to say and do on yesterday. Then there are the joys of seeing the growth in our fellowship. My greatest dissapointments usually revolve around other people. And I am learning to avoid, discard, and learn from my poor 'people choices' and God is teaching me how to learn from the experiences, pick up the pieces and eventually move on!!! I, like many pastors, often hope and wish that some within our fellowship would catch the vision, run with it, and own it for themselves. But some just don't--maybe this means they're in the wrong place--or maybe they are--but they have not overcome the 'casual Christian' syndrome. I am learning that focusing on people like this will often take my spiritual eye off of those individuals who are really growing, excited about what God is doing, and have the vision and are helped. With this being said--the notion that the enemy/Satan would assert that maybe I am the problem or the issue as it relates to our local fellowship--just doesn't fly any longer. This is not arrogance nor is it conceit--but no one has sacrificed (or tried to improve themselves) for our new ministry venture more than both I and my immediate family. I have had a few instances where the implication has been--maybe there is more I could do. This typically comes from persons who aren't doing anything - but doing what is only convenient for themselves, holding a title, never taking the initiative to serve, and then expect me to perform miracles with so little. That's Christ's job--not mine!!! All in all, God is adding to our church, gradually...those who are there TO SERVE...NOT TO BE SERVED!!! This is exactly what we NEED...

We've started a new Sunday school curriculum entitled 'When God Builds a Church', being led by Bob Russell's book by the same title. Yesterday, one of our new attendars, Earlonzo Hare (who has been such an encouragement to me personally and spiritually), taught the Sunday School lesson dealing with 'Truth'. His daughter, who also attends Cornerstone, tipped me off to he and his wife's teaching background. When I tell you that this man really did his homework and blessed our entire church--he did! So transparent; so timely; so....inspiring. It is the Lord's continual use of people like this--those persons who will make themselves available--that will have a rippling effect throughout our church. We will see more and more people like this frequenting our church!!! I'll document our progress along the way. I remain prayerful and faithful in this regard... God is up to something great!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Today was a good day! We're continuing to emphasize our Children & Youth on the last Sunday of each month. Our kids did a good job! My sincere motivation continues to be a practical integration of faith into the contemporary affaris of the human experience. I really want to see a maximization of our faith coming alive and become visible and viable--particularly during each and every worship opportunity. The Holy Spirit has clearly led me to identify some things that are affecting us: our location, our leadership, and our commitment to Christian education & youth ministry. I am seeing the Lord shine on our church in His own way and His time. Yesterday, the message shared came from Daniel 3:16 & 17 and its subject was 'The God that we serve is Able'. The underlying premise of the message is the same as that thesis of that text, that our faith in the ability of God and His providence would merge into human affairs and impossibilities. This involves a life that will not compromise in the face of intimidation or circumstance. I took time out of my preaching schedule to both encourage and challenge our congregation as a whole, as well as deal with a subject that could relate to our children and youth. The main points were
1. Remembering your history, heritage, and your hope - they are all connected.
2. Resisting the futility of worshipping and reverencing that which is carnal and corrupt.
3. Remembering the three c's:
Remember your connection '...the God WE serve...'
Remember Who's in control '...is able...'
Remember your commitment (Daniel chapter 1)
4. Reward - You are an overcomer
- Overcome by the Presence of God vs. 24
- Overcome by the Preservation of God vs. 26
- Overcome by the Power of God vs. 27
- Overcome by the Program of God vs. 29
- Overcome by the Promotion of God vs. 30

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I need prayer for tomorrow's message

Well--tomorrow is almost here. It will not be long before I stand before our people and deliver a Word from the Lord. Tomorrow is our children and youth Sunday. It is off to a rocky start; but, more than anything else, I am committed to seeing it grow, thrive, and succeed. The Lord is teaching me the importance and significance of using what we have and what He has supplied. I think that when a people, corporately and collectively, unite and are stewards over what God has given them--He will reward them on the basis of their faithful, diligent stewardship. I have been led to share out of Daniel chapter 3--though I am nervous and apprehensive about the message. I know what the text says, etc. I think I am dealing with much of the context and not really getting the points together. I will look over it in just a moment and pray, meditate on the direction. This is actually my first time preaching out of the book of Daniel. For me, the prophetic books are hard for me to grasp. I need the Lord to work on me and the message; allow me to merge my thoughts into that of the text and the gravity of the message. My subject for Daniel 3 revolves around the ability of God. It hinges upon the words in Daniel 3:17, '...the God that we serve is able'. I know that the Lord will love me no less or any more based upon my presentation-I do pray, however, that He will breathe upon His message in a special way.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Spirit of David

I only have time for a quick note, I've just finished the yard, need to jump in the show and get ready for church--our praise dance ministry 'Spirit of David', will be dancing tonight at a nearby church. It will not be all of them--but two of our teens will be ministering in dance. I am excited!!! We don't have MANY youth during this 'season' of ministry. However, I want to be as much of an encouragement to our young people as humanly possible. The scripture teaches us that King David '...danced before the Lord with all his might'. I do not know much else about the program--I trust there won't be any foolishness. For this I am grateful!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Just a Thought....

I am praying for the victims in California whose lives have been affected by the recent wildires. It is said to be a little of 500,000 acres and many have evacuated. Mr. Bush has visited the area several times and taken a personal interest in the recent affairs. My original blog was intended to point out the obvious duplicity, parallel(s), hypcrosy of both the recent events in California and Katrina. (It even reflects in my title) But you know what? I've just taught a lesson on Bitterness and, for certain, we all make mistakes and should know that God is in control--even when it seems as if He is not, He IS! I don't know Bush's heart; and even it was impure then, or impure even now--He is my president, I pray for him, his family, and his relationship with the Lord.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Osteen

Yesterday I had the opportunity to watch a segment of 60 Minutes I Tivo'd interviewing and taking an inside look at Joel Osteen's life. Osteen, of course, is the pastor of Lakewood Church here in Houston who, upon the passing of his father (Pastor John Osteen) in 1999, became the second pastor of what is now 'heralded' as the largest church in the United States of America. I will not use my blog to say where I am in relation to my personal opinion(s) of Osteen. I will say that as I saw the interview, I honestly believe (and this is only my view) that the young man is sincere. Interestingly, sincerity means nothing is you a sincerely wrong. Now I will get in trouble for my next statement but I will say it nonetheless--but I do admire Osteen to the same extent that I admire Dr. Phil. Both of them are likable, charismatic, intriguing, mysterious, motivational, helpful, and their books are have a Norman V. Peale/Robt. Schuller flare and appeal that is unparalleled. I would actually recommend their books for self help, insights, motivation, and even some biblical insights. They are BOTH Christian and men that I would probably invite to my house for dinner--though I'd much rather be invited to theirs. Incidentally, whether I'm impressed or not--being the kind of person I am--I would study and observe anyone who was touted as the pastor of the largest church in the U.S. I've studied Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, etc. But here is my problem--it isn't as much with Osteen as it is with the consumers who flock to Lakewood, treating the church is if it is a country club, recreation park, and a rock concert. I will not judge--because only GOD sees into the heart of every individual. But something in Osteen's interview caught my spiritual attention. He was asked if he was concerned about the criticism and other's accusations of his compromising the gospel, etc. He said, in a nutshell that he didn't want to beat people upside the head with where they were, etc. Then he said something that really dealt with me (I can actually quote him verbatim on this): There are some who explain the scriptures, expose them, and relate them--that's just not my gift.... Wow! That really dealt with me--isn't that what we as preachers and proclaimers of the Word of God have been called to do? To explain the scriptures? I won't get into whether or not it is a spiritual gift or not. But I do know that 2 Timothy 2:15 admonishes us to 'rightly divide the Word of truth'. I want to encourage everyone who visits this blogspot to 'try the Spirit by the Spirit'. I am committed to 'rightly dividing' the 'Word of Truth'. I pray that through explaining the Word, God will make His word relevant to the people. I believe He will do it. I don't know if this chides with the scripture or not--I didn't mean for this blog to be theological--but you know what my hope is? That God will raise up more and more congregations who will not compromise the exposition of scripture and the Word of God. No doubt, he is already doing this. We need more Christ-centered churches where the Word of God is the centerpiece to successful living, holiness, discipleship, and transformation. I am intent on seeing God do this in our fellowship....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reclaiming God's Original Intent


  • I came across a book in my library that I purchased several years ago. The title of the book, Reclaiming God's Original Intent for the Church, caught my attention. More than this, I was arrested and intrigued by the title(s) of each chapter. The chapter, in and of themselves, preach and proclaim some powerful truths and steadfast convictions. I have not finished this book-though I plan to teach or preach or a series on this at some point. I would like to share just a few of the titles of each chapter...

-It's about AUTHENTICITY...not SIZE
-It's about making DISCIPLES...not simply recruiting VOLUNTEERS
-It's about a CALLING...not a CAREER
-It's about CHARACTER...not CREDENTIALS
-It's about COMMUNITY...not just MANAGEMENT
-It's about TRUSTING GOD...not TECHNIQUE
-It's about FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT...not mere STRATEGIZING
-It's about SERVANTHOOD...not POWER
-It's about FRUIT...not ACHIEVEMENT
-It's about LISTENING...not just PREACHING
-It's about LOVE...not BEING RIGHT
-It's about our TRIUNE GOD...NOT US

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Territory

At the beginning of 2007, we began the process of implementing a vision of outreach--that included a church daycare as well as a community center that would literally improve the quality of the surrounding community and allow us to go further and do more. We incorporated & amended and laid the groundwork for two of these ventures: Pebble Learning Center (Daycare) and The Dream Center (Community Outreach Center). The only thing we haven't had the finances to do is file for our 501c3, the very thing we need to have a tax-exempt status. To say the least, God opened up a door and I will be meeting with a member of President Bush's faith-based initiative board on tomorrow morning. I am nervous but also excited about the possibilities of finalizing the preliminary groundwork--that I have committed much of my time, prayers, and energy since December of '06. I do believe that this is an 'Open Door' for our church. Once we finalize and are granted our 501c3 status within the next month (I pray), then we are able to apply for grants--which he will be helping us with. By the way--he is also a pastor! Once I see how this works, I will pass the information along. As our congregation already knows, I am not very fond of Mr. Bush (though I do pray for him--he needs it!). But his faith-based initiative plan, believe it or not, is outstanding!!! If you've seen it, it is almost overwhelming to view all of the endless possibilities and the funds that are not only out there, but granted to churches and congregations who pursue it. This is not for every church; I wouldn't recommend it for every church. And we will always do only that which honors Christ and also serves in the best interest of our church and our people. One thing we need and I need throughout the remainder of the year--is prayer. I will explain in a future blog how the daycare, dream center, and ultimately Living Stone Community Development Corporation (Affordable housing project) ties into the entire Cornerstone vision.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Yesterday went well during worship. I actually continued our message taken out of Malachi 3, with somewhat of a different angle. IT was my intention to share 'Reverse the Curse, Pt 2'. However, the subject from Malachi 3 yesterday was entitled 'How God Hooks Us Up.' I felt more comfortable in my preaching on yesterday--because of time and last week was just such an intense week--both in my devotion as well as adversity. Imagine that! God blessed the message, allowed me an opportunity to share the urgency and responsibility of our congregation to get in on what God is up to; and really give our congregation a 'pep talk'. Our church goes through these phases where apathy becomes pervasive, attendance is down, and the spirit of our church is not as it should be. This can be discouraging to the 'faithful few'. All in all, the Spirit of God moved on yesterday, His Word clearly explained, and people demonstrated their commitment and re-dedication to the plan and vision God has for our local church. If you read my blog last week on 'revelation', let me just say that I don't know HOW God will do the things He will do--that's not really my problem. I'm trusting, willing, and obedient to His voice and instructions--from here on out I will leave the results up to Him.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Solving Problems

I came across a thought in a journal that I write to my sons: He who solves problems gets paid. This sounds very secular and un-spiritual--but in a real sense, it is very true. If you want to achieve and accomplish more in life--just look for problems, find a solution (only God can give you this)--and then sale your product. Solomon talks a lot about this--but I just wanted to interject a simply thought for today. I hope it makes some sense!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Intention

It was my original intent to blog every DAY! I have noticed that my main page says '14' posts for October and this is the 18th of October. Okay--maybe I am being unrealistic. I didn't think so-considering I am online atleast once or twice per day, and tied to the computer, etc. The tragedy is this: finding things that are of interest to me, and something I can look at and find inspiration at any point in my ministry pilgrimage. The entire point of this blog is to chronicle many of the thoughts that are in my head, form me into a better writer and communicator; communicate with those in ministry; provide an historical journal for my sons; an opportunity for our church to see what goes on in the mind of their pastor (I do not know if any of our members view my blog, haven't heard anything as of yet...if so, let me know!); allow me to chart my ministry thoughts, victories, struggles, etc. and prayerfully look back and thank God for the progressive steps and strides that were made, and so much more. I am committed to the blog! And once I am committed to something, I am almost impulsive about it begin being meaningful, significant, and the best at everything I am a part of. (Being the best preacher, husband, father, pastor, teacher, son, friend, blogger that I can be.)

I think that is my issue with pastoring. Pastoring is so different for me--because you have to rely upon more than just yourself. Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out for Pastoral Ministry. Then again-I KNOW that I am because I KNOW that God called me to do this. It can be a little overwhelming at times. I just don't understand what God is doing and why He allows so many difficulties, obstacles, dissapointments, and frustrations in my pastoral experience. My situation is so unique because I am the Founding Pastor of a fledgling church who has yet to gain her momentum, capture it's identity, and most do not see what I see. I was watching BET's EXALTED:Kenneth C. Ulmer. He said something that struck me: you are telling people about a vision that God has given you; but they haven't seen it yet. This becomes the great frustration. NOW-that being said-some do realistically understand the vision and it makes sense, they just don't want to do what needs to be done to accomplish the goal. I would hate to say where I wish I was--but I will just say that it is difficult pastoring in the Houston context. Everybody is just so busy, always running, the church really doesn't get much of their time. This is not the culture I grew up in--people didn't frequent the church or treat it in a cavalier manner; they were committed to the church. Don't get me wrong, large churches here (like other cities) thrive and do well here!!! From my observation, small church do not. There is work to be involved in small churches. EVERYBODY is needed! If someone isn't involved, the person involved begins to either feel guilty or pressured. The larger churches stay large or get larger while the smaller ones get smaller. The greatest thing that the small church can do, I believe, is continue to preach and teach the word, worship in spirit and in trust, be unapologetic about our commitment to COMMITMENT, and THEN...and this is what I think is the greatest challenge for us--GET NEW PEOPLE IN THE BUILDING, KEEP THEM THERE, GET TO JOIN, GET INVOLVED & REPRODUCING OTHER NEW PEOPLE. We'll get it together--it is GOING to work. It's just going to take a lot of prayer, patience, and people who are WILLING to hang in there, run with the vision, come to church, get involved, stop gossiping, SERVE, get others to get involved, bring their families--there is no telling what we could accomplish. I'm praying for more churches like this. I am dedicated to encouraging pastors everywhere who have this mysterious call in the pastorate that keeps telling them 'God wants more'. Let me say this--many pastors sense that God wants more--and think they need to find another church in order for God to do that. Sometimes that is so and may be necessary. I am afraid that, often, God desires to grow US, grow our churches in the place where He has planted us. We just haven't taken advantage of the dry seasons and learned from seedtime and the waiting period. I'm intent on learning. A lesson not learned is worth repeating. I don't want to prolong where the Lord is sending me because I keep ignoring what He is trying to teach me right now, in 2007, 29 years old. Let's learn it so we can pass the test and get to the weightier matters.

...Glossolitis

For the past month we have been in a teaching series on Why Churches Die: Diagnosing Lethal Poisons in the Body of Christ. I know that many can get deep when first examining this subject and suggest this is an oxymoronic statement-the true church can not die because Christ is the Head of the church and He will not let it die. In a real sense, this is true! I believe that that logic relates to the church universal. This book seeks to tackle sicknesses in the body of Christ from the vantage point of the membership. Brunson & Caner draw parallels between sicknesses of the human body and ailments among members of the body of Christ. It is what they have labeled and tagged as 'Spiritual Forensics'. I really wanted to begin Paul's epistle to the Romans, beginning with the first chapter and the first verse. Something (SomeOne) led to glance at the next lesson in the Why Church Die series. The topic is Glossolitis: Swollen Tongues of Fire. The discussion (teaching) centers on this premise: Murmuring Miriam and Sowing Seeds of Discord (Numbers 12:1-15). Of course, I must continue this teaching series, atleast for this week! The underlying theme is GOSSIP. We have a problem with this sickening and deadening (toxic) disease at our church, more than anyone cares to admit. I am certain this is the case in many churches; most of us sense that it isn't going to change. I am convinced that the inevitability of change-lessness should not negate our addressing the issue. It NEEDS to be addressed, even if NO ONE decided to heed and obey. After all, The Apostle Paul succinctly stated that I, the spiritual leader, will be judged if I don't teach it--I will be held accountable! After reading the lesson and studying scriptures, it is clear to me that God despises, abhors, and hates gossip, slander, and a 'false witness'. If just this one sickness is examined, diagnosed, and treated--this alone will do wonders for many churches--but I will just say the one that I pastor. In studying the lesson, I am discovering that at the heart of gossip is suggestion, assumption, deception, and (surprising to me) UN-FORGIVENESS!!! I do desire desperately for God to do a work in and on the people in our congregation, beginning with myself. I know that the Word is a mirror, not a window to look and point at others. I must say as Pastor, however, that God has shown me this is a serious problem in our church and is preventing our growth, joy, freedom in worship, liberation in our praise, and even fully trusting and following pastoral leadership--gossip. I would have never even imagined that a fellowship so small in number would have any problems at all, other than financial. Financially we are not doing what we could do and should do in terms of our giving. But, sadly, that pales in comparison to the toxic issues that threaten to pervade and infect our entire body-if it hasn't already. I pray that the lesson tonight goes well. More importantly, I earnestly pray that those who struggle with this sickness will be convicted, repent, and turn from their ways. If we could turn that negative energy (spreading the BAD NEWS) into positive energy (getting out the GOOD NEWS)--our church would be one of the brightest beacons of light in our dark city!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Revelation

Last night and this morning, I had--what I would call--my fourth REVELATION from God. I have to apologize for not being as spiritual as some preachers who have a revelation every single time you look up. It seems like God does a lot of talking to these guys. Whenever I look in scripture, God shows up to men (and women) in scripture a gap between years upon years. It was then that those revelations (i.e. Moses/Noah), that the person recieving the revelation invest their LIFE in fulfilling that call. I have had 3 previous revelations (as our church already knows). 1) My call to preach the gospel at fourteen in 1993. 2) When God instructed me to marry my wife, D'Ani. 3) When He directed our starting Cornerstone in 2004-05. And, now, God has spoken. (Let's be clear: people who know me KNOW I don't play with God's name--I will often say that the Holy Spirit made an impression, I interpret, I believe, etc.--rarely will I say that 'God said to me'. That's dangerous!) I will not get into the revelation until I have shared with our congregation--which will probably be in December during my State of the Church address. What I will say is that God is good! I trust His plan! I trust His timing! And I thank Him for being gracious enough to choose someone like me. That's amazing!