Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blog Number 200

According to my numbers, this is my 200th blog! I have been silent a lot recently due to self-reflection and assesment, my own current challenges and, most of all...what I would like to disclose in this blog. I am currently preparing for our Thanksgiving Worship Service on tomorrow. I am still in the midst of my study. My heart has been heavy, trying to articulate my own struggles; and decided to visit my big brother, Pastor Tony Rhone's, blog. He is always a constant in my life and a volume yet to be read by so many. His blog blessed and touched me so profoundly that it quickened and freed something within me in my own life. I can literally see myself in every single line. Therefore, I wanted to post his blog, giving him complete credit. His blog address is
Are we there yet? Are we there yet? When we will get there? These are the troubling questions of unseasoned travelers who long to get to the appointed destination without enjoying the view along the way. And such is the experience of the new pastor, so I am learning.

Pastoring is not an easy job! If done right I believe it empties one of self and leaves him in a postion where he cannot operate effectively on any strength of his own. Let me say atleast that has been my experience.

Upon arrival at my current assignment I was most assured that I was prepared and equipped for the road ahead. I knew within a few short months of this new journey that we as a people would arrive at destinations unbefore seen. And so with the earger energy of a beaver I got after it, digging and chugging along giving it all I had. I just knew that my growing biblical acumen and serious comittment were enough to transform the life of the people and the church.

After almost 4 years of that kind of foolishness, I am still asking the question, "Are we there yet?". Boy what juvenile ignorance! It feels like and looks like from my perspective that the car is still in the driveway. I need patience.
I have learned that Pastoring is not for the faint of heart. You can literally die because of ministerial setbacks. I have experienced this a lot this year. It seems like I have lost more than I have gained. My heart has been broken by people I thought were really with the program only to discover they had hidden motives and agendas. This has been the lonliest year of my ministry as I have suffered in silence while pretending that everything was okay. Man this is tough stuff. I find myself wanting to cry but the tears just will not flow. "Are we there yet?" I want to get out, I am just about tired of the ride. No one really knows how I feel and to try express this to someone is really an exercise in futility because I still have to go right back to my pulpit next Sunday wanting to be further down the road only to discover we haven't made much progress.
Lest I seem ungrateful, I thank God for this experienc. I have learned to thank God for the slow but steady progress. I thank God for the heartaches caused by others because these experiences remind me that God really does use weak people.

So thank you Lord for your Sovereign arrangement of circumstances at Galilee. Thank you that you keep reminding me that it must be none of me and all of you.

Are we there yet? I don't know and I pray that I wont be preoccupied with the nagging question. May the Lord grant me the wisdom and patience to just enjoy the ride.

Thank you Lord, Thank you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quite Some Time

I am amazed at the time that's past since my last blog. At times, I have wondered if anyone still frequents the blog-world considering FACEBOOK has become such a constant for many. I want to do better! Since my last post, I am now a bi-vocational Pastor who is trying to juggle the Pastorate with the Chaplaincy. I am now a Chaplain Resident with the Harris County Hospital District and, if I may add, am loving the experience thus far. It also affords me the opportunity to enjoy full-time ministry.

I was saddened this past week to receive news that my friend and mentor, Dr. E. Thurman Walker has passed on. I am in prayer for his family and church there in San Antonio. Dr. Walker used to have me preach for him early on in my ministry; and I will never forget the impact he had upon my ministry. He will be missed!

My hope and prayer that the blog will continue to serve as an outlet for me; and an opportunity to have continual connection and camaraderie with those who serve in ministry.

God be praised for my blog friends; and I pray that we will continue to pray and lift one another up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Expositional Imposters

I came across an interesting article on IX Marks website. There are some who have already read this article; but for those who will not visit there I hope will read it here. Hope you enjoy!

Expositional Imposters
By Mike Gilbart-Smith

Mark Dever rightly describes Expositional Preaching as "preaching that takes for the point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture." However, I have heard many sermons that intend to be expositional, yet fall somewhat short. Below are seven pitfalls that one might try to avoid. Each of these pitfalls either doesn’t correctly make the message of the passage the message of the sermon, or doesn’t make it a message to that congregation at all.

1) The point of the passage is misunderstood: the ‘Unfounded Sermon’.
This is where the preacher says things that may or may not be true, but that in no sense came from the passage, when understood correctly. This can happen either by carelessness with the content of the text (e.g. the sermon on "production, prompting and inspiration" from the NIV of 1 Thessalonians 1:3, though each word has no parallel in the Greek) or carelessness with the context (e.g. the sermon on David and Goliath, that asks ‘who is your Goliath, and what are the five smooth stones that you need to be prepared to use against him?’).
If a preacher is not deeply mining the truth of God’s Word to determine the message of his sermons, they are likely being driven by his own preferences. For "When someone regularly preaches in a way that is not expositional, the sermons tend to be only on the topics that interest the preacher" (Nine Marks, 41). Thus the congregation doesn’t receive all that God intended. The lesson? Preachers must give themselves to thoroughly understanding the text before setting out to write their sermons. A cursory reading is not enough. Preachers must allow God to determine the sheep’s diet so as to prevent an insufficient feeding.

2) The point of the passage is ignored: the ‘Springboard Sermon’.
Closely related is the sermon where the preacher has understood the center of the text, pays lip service to it, and then becomes intrigued by something that is a secondary or tertiary point, fixing his attention on that for the remainder of the sermon. What he says does come from the text, but is not the main point of the text (e.g. the sermon on John 3 that focuses primarily on the lawfulness of Christians drinking alcohol).

3) The point of the passage remains unapplied: the ‘Exegetical Sermon’.
Some preaching that claims to be expositional is rejected as boring and irrelevant…and rightly so! One could just as well be reading from an exegetical commentary. Everything that is said is true to the passage, but is not really a sermon; it is merely a technical lecture on the passage. Much might be learned about Paul’s use of the Genitive Absolute, but little about the character of God or the nature of the human heart. There is no application to anything but the congregation’s minds. True expository preaching will surely first inform the mind, but also warm the heart and constrain the will.

4) The point of the passage is applied to a different congregation: the ‘Irrelevant Sermon’.
Too much preaching promotes pride in the congregation by throwing bricks over the wall towards other people’s greenhouses. Either the point of the passage is applied only to non-believers, suggesting that the Word has nothing to say to the church, or it is applied to problems that are rarely seen in the congregation that is being preached to. Thus the congregation becomes puffed up, and like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable ends up thankful that they are not like others. The response is not repentance and faith but, "If only Mrs Brown heard this sermon!" or "Umpteenth Baptist Smorgsville, Pennsylvania really ought to have this sermon preached to them!"

5) The point of the passage misapplied to the present congregation: the ‘Misfit Sermon’.
Sometimes the hermeneutical gap between the original passage and the present congregation may be misunderstood, so that the application to the original context is wrongly directly transferred to the present context. So, if the preacher does not have a correct biblical theology of worship, passages about the Old Testament temple might be wrongly applied to the New Testament church building, rather than being fulfilled in Christ and his people.

6) The point of the passage is divorced from its generic impact: the ‘Doctrinal Sermon’.
God has deliberately spoken to us ‘in many and diverse ways’. Too many sermons ignore the genre of a passage, and preach narrative, poetry, epistle and apocalyptic all alike as a series of propositional statements. Whilst all preaching must convey propositional truths, they should not be reduced to them. The literary context of the passages should mean that a sermon from the Song of Songs sounds different than one from Ephesians 5. The passage may have the same central point, but it is conveyed in a different way. Such diversity is not to be flattened in preaching.

7) The point of the passage is preached without reference to the passage: the ‘Shortcut Sermon’
Another sermon might have wonderfully appropriate application to mind, heart and will, yet the congregation will leave unaware of how it is appropriately applied from the text. The opposite of the exegetical sermon, this kind of preaching shows no exegetical ‘working’ at all. Though the Lord has set the agenda by his Word, only the preacher is fully aware of that fact. The congregation may well end up saying, ‘what a wonderful sermon’ rather than ‘what a wonderful passage of scripture’.

Expository preaching is so important for the health of the church because it allows the whole counsel of God to be applied to the whole church of God. May the Lord so equip preachers of His Word that His voice may be heard and obeyed.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday in Retrospect

This past Lord's Day was met with great challenge for me: I am in the middle of a series from the epistle of Paul to the Galatians...and, 6 weeks deep into our series, I must pause...and will not be preaching in our church until the 3rd Sunday in September. This is typically the time when I am both out...and also allowing our associates to share in the preaching moment; also leading up to my Pastoral anniversary. That being said....I tried my best to summarize the 3rd chapter of Galatians in the span of 30 to 40 minutes, to no avail. The primary verses were intended to be verse 13, verses 19 through 20. The context dealt with the law and it's purpose. THEN....there is the issue of Abraham and faith. All of these are different subjects, though can be dealt with together. I labeled my message 'The Man in the Middle'. On the surface, it is a spinoff of the much-hyped MJ song, 'The Man in the Mirror'. Paul's argument is that the man in the mirror's futile attempts will fail and human achievements have a tendency to dissipate at the detriment of keeping the law. The law sets us up for failure but it also magnifies the gravity of God's grace. Jesus bridges the gap of between man's human inadequacies and God's divine love and grace.

God smiled upon our worship and His Word; and one came forward today - by Christian experience. To God be the Glory!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Grace Full Living

I am finding now - that I am at a crossroads in my study - I am between manuscripting and doing bullets. Additionally, as has been the case for over 15 years now, my manuscripts are written just as if I would say it as I preached. Galatians is turning out to be a great preaching series both for me personally as well as I church (alteast I PRAY). It is challenging me in my study and diligence in the exposition of Scripture. There was a period of time (in the process of starting our church as well as seminary) where my study became lax. Prayerfully, God is pleased with my desire to grow more as a disciple and follower of Christ in my preaching ministry. Today we continued in Galatians chapter 2. The title of the message was originally 'Graceful Living'....but as we continued in our Worship, I also attached another title, 'Dying to Live Again'.

Here's the manuscript:

Graceful Living
Galatians 2:18-21

I want to start off today by asking you a question that Max Lucado queries in the opening section of his book, ‘Just Like Jesus’. He asks, and I ask: What if, for one day, Jesus were to become you?
What if, for twenty-four hours, Jesus wakes up in your bed, walks in your shoes, lives in your house, and assumes your schedule? Your boss becomes his boss, your family becomes his family, and your pains become his pains? All of this, with one exception, nothing about your life changes. Your health doesn’t change. Your circumstances don’t change. Your financial condition doesn’t change. Your schedule isn’t altered. Your problems aren’t solved.
Only one change occurs: What if, for one day and one night, Jesus were to live YOUR life with HIS heart? Your heart gets the day off, and your life is led by the heart of Christ. For one day His priorities govern your actions. His passions drive your decisions. His love directs your behavior.
What would you be like? Would people notice a change? Your family—would they see something new? Your coworkers—would they sense a difference? What about the less fortunate? Would you treat them the same? And your friends? Would they detect more joy in you? How about your enemies? Would they receive more mercy from Christ’s heart than from yours?
And what about YOU? How would YOU feel? What alterations would this transplant have upon your stress level? Your mood swings? Your temper? Would you sleep better? Would you see sunsets in a different way? Death differently? Taxes differently? Any chance you’d need fewer aspirin or sedatives? How about your reaction to traffic delays? Would you still dread what you are dreading? Better yet, would you still do what you are doing?
Would you still do what you had planned to do for the next twenty-four hours? Would you still plan to do tonight what you did last night when nobody was looking? Pause and think about your schedule. Obligations. Engagements. Outings. Appointments. With Jesus taking over your heart, would anything change?
Keep working on this for a moment. Adjust the lens of your imagination until you have a clear picture of Jesus leading your life, then snap the shutter and frame the image. And what you will see is what God wants and what God desires. Simply put, GOD wants you to “think and act like Christ Jesus”. Philippians 2:5 conversely says, ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus’.

God’s plan for you is nothing short of a new heart. If you were a car, God would want control of your engine. If you were a computer, God would claim the software and the hard drive. If you were an airplane, he’d take his seat in the cockpit. But you are a person, so God wants to change your heart.

Ephesians 4:23-24 says, “23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Mark it Down: God wants you to be just like Jesus. He wants you to have a heart like his.

If a sentence or two could capture God’s desire for each of us, it might read like this:

God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way.
He wants you to be just like Jesus.

Get That: God loves you just the way you are. If you think his love for you would be stronger if your faith were, you are wrong. If you think his love would be deeper if your thoughts were, you are wrong again.

Never run the mistake of confusing God’s love with the love of people. The love of people often increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. Not so with God’s love. He loves you right where you are.

Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, “38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God’s love never ceases. Never. Though we spurn him. Ignore him. Reject him. Despise him. Disobey him. He will not change. Our evil cannot diminish his love. Our goodness cannot increase it. Our faith does not earn it anymore than our stupidity jeopardizes it. God doesn’t love us less if we fail or more if we succeed. God’s love never ceases.
God loves you just the way you are, but (get this) He refuses to leave you that way.

When my son Kai was a toddler, I used to take him to a park not far from our house. One day as he was playing in a sandbox, an ice-cream salesman approached us. I purchased him a treat, and when I turned to give it to him, I saw that his mouth was full of sand. Where I intended to put a delicacy, he had put dirt.

Did I love him with dirt in his mouth? YES. Was he any less my son with dirt in him mouth? Absolutely not. Was I going to allow him to keep the dirt in his mouth? No way. I loved him right where he was, but I refused to leave him there. I carried him over to the water fountain and washed out his mouth. Why? Because I loved him.

God does the same for us. He holds us over the fountain. “Spit out the dirt, son,” our Father urges. “I’ve got something better for you.” And so he cleanses us of filth: immorality, dishonesty, prejudice, bitterness, greed. We don’t enjoy the cleansing; sometimes we even opt for life’s dirt over the delicacies of life. We may even pout and proclaim “I can eat dirt if I want to!” Which is true—we can. But if we do, the loss is ours. God has a better offer. He wants us to experience the joy of His love and the gift of His grace!!!

That brings us to Grace-Full Living. Moreover, that brings us to this wonderful text! The epistle of Paul is written to the Galatians to defend the message of grace and defy the message of the Judaizers; who were a group of charlatans and false teachers; who claimed that Paul was no real apostle; who also claimed that the message of God’s grace was not enough. Paul hears that the false message has infiltrated the region of Galatia, writes this letter; and says to his critics, enemies and his friends – the message that we proclaim is Christ plus nothing else. The ultimate expression of the grace of God, according the Paul, is the virgin birth, perfect life, atoning death, and glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • He says in verse 16 that we are justified.
  • Justification doesn’t say that you didn’t commit the sin; but it affords the opportunity to be treated as if you are NOT guilty.
  • Justification doesn’t erase what we’ve done; but it allows us to be treated as if we haven’t done it.
  • Tabula Rasa, which means, that God wipes the slate clean.
  • Paul says that we aren’t justified by our works.
  • C.H. Spurgeon said, “Human nature’s way of salvation is, “Do, do, do.” But God’s way of salvation is, “Done, done, it is all done.” You have but to rely by faith on the atonement that Christ accomplished on the cross.”
  • We’re justified by faith!
  • He says it twice in verse 16 and then again in verse 17, that ‘we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.’ The Second Person in the Godhead.

  • One of the amazing truths of the Bible given over and over again is you can never be good enough on your own to earn heaven. Because once you sin one time, you can’t brag to a perfect God how good you are. I mean, you don’t impress the engineers of Boeing with your paper airplaine. You don’t brag about how far you can drive a golf ball in the presence of Tiger Woods. You don’t look Michael Jordan in the eye after shooting a jump shot and say, “I got game.” And you certainly can’t boast about your goodness in the presence of a perfect, holy God.

  • We can not please God with our obedience/beauty/intelligence/perfectionism, because we’re not obedient enough.
  • You can’t earn your way to salvation; you need an inside man. And Jesus says, ‘I’M YOUR INSIDE MAN.’

    Illustration: Have you ever been cheated on? I was notorious for getting cheated on. I remember the first time somebody cheated on me.

  • The scripture reveals that you are a love-breaker automatically.
  • In your sinful, depraved human reality…you cheat on God every day of your life.
  • From the moment we exit our mother’s womb…we are thinking about ourselves and not thinking about God.
  • In our cleanest state we are filthy to God.
  • In our best moral state we are immoral and unethical to God.
  • Titus 3:5
  • And when we are saved….we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Our past is erased
    Our sins have been forgiven
    Our history has been nullified
    Our past mistakes have been annulled
    We are justified.
    And if you are saved….you have been forgiven.

    Someone has said that:
    If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
    If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
    If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
    If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
    But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.


    Now all of that is the GOOD NEWS. But let me give you some BAD NEWS. Well, I won’t say it’s really BAD NEWS…but I will say that, at first glance, it doesn’t look like shouting material. Here it is: YOUR NEW HEART IS LIVING IN AN OLD BODY!!!

    “When I would do good, evil is present with me”. (Romans 7:21)
    2 Co. 12:7 Paul says there was a ‘thorn in my flesh…”.
    Our flesh is not saved
    Our flesh is at enmity with God
    Romans 7:18 says, ‘In my flesh dwelleth no good thing’.
    Look at verses 18 and 19

    I. THE POWER OF GRACEFUL LIVINGA. It Is a Personal Decision “I”B. It Is a Passionate Defense “am”C. It Is a Painful Display “crucified”
    D. It Is a Partnership Declared “with Christ”

  • Everything hinges upon Four Words in verse 20: I no longer live…
  • The whole notion that living totally changes.
  • Kraig’s priorities are no longer first place
  • Not about my visions, my dreams, my goals
  • In other words, every aspect of our lives now rests in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • My life is no longer validated
  • Acts 17:28 “In Him we live, move and have our being”…
  • You’re talking about a man who had it all together (Paul)
  • We no longer live unto ourselves
  • What is living?
  • How do we define living today? We always talk in terms of material things, money, clothing, food, tangible.
  • In the economy of God it’s about what you do with Christ.
  • Christ lives in me….
  • He is not saying that he’s committed suicide.
  • The activity that I now live in the flesh, I do as a result of Christ
  • Everything that now makes sense….it is all because Christ did for me.
  • Look at how many times he uses the word, ‘Live’.
  • It is all a matter of living a life for Christ
  • What does it mean to stop living?
  • Question: What if somebody told you to just ‘stop living’.
  • Living just enough for the city
  • Jesus has so many statements about living
  • Jesus says, ‘Lose your life’.
  • Are you ready to stop living so that you may live?
  • Living it all.


    A. You Are a Vessel for Christ. “ No Longer I that lives”
    B. You Are a Vault for Christ. “Lives in Me”
  • Akon in an MTV documentary. Talking about going to a 4d movie with Michael Jackson. Fans begin to run towards him…If you knew who was standing next to me!!!
    If you knew who is lives IN you
  • 1 John 4:4, ‘Greater is He that is in you…’
    C. You Are a Vine for Christ. “Live by Faith”

    A. It Is to Glorify God’s Son

    You no longer matter when it comes to Spiritual Matters. He Does!
    B. It Is to Magnify God’s Son


    Verse 21 says, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

  • The Judaizers wanted to mix Law and grace, but Paul tells us that this is impossible. To go back to the Law means to “set aside” the grace of God.
  • Peter had experienced God’s grace in his own salvation, and he had proclaimed God’s grace in his own ministry. But when he withdrew from the Gentile Christian fellowship, he openly denied the grace of God.
  • Grace says, “There is no difference! All are sinners, and all can be saved through faith in Christ!”
  • But Peter’s actions had said, “There is a difference! The grace of God is not sufficient; we also need the Law.”
  • Returning to the Law nullifies the Cross: “If righteousness came by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21). Law says DO! Grace says DONE! “It is finished!” was Christ’s victory cry (John 19:30). “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8).

    In the movie The Last Emperor, the young child who is the last emperor of China lives a magical life of luxury with a thousand servants at his command. “What happens when you do wrong?” his brother asks. “When I do wrong, someone else is punished,” the boy emperor replies. To demonstrate, he breaks a jar, and one of the servants is beaten (H.B. Charles).
  • Jesus Christ reversed this pattern: When the servants erred, the King was punished. Isaiah 55:4-6 says, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it this way: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (Ibid)

  • Paul says, in a nutshell: DON’T TAKE GOD’S GRACE FOR GRANTED!!!

  • God’s grace is so amazing!!!

  • Grace = Charis = Graciousness = Gratitude = Gift…doesn’t matter…it’s ALL GRACE!!!
  • Bonhoeffer….cheap grace/costly grace…doesn’t matter…it’s ALL GRACE!!!

Sickness…suffering sorrow…solemnity…in the dirt….doesn’t matter…it’s ALL GRACE!!!

Look at how we use the word (Phil Yancey).

Many people "say grace" before meals, acknowledging daily bread as a gift from God. We are grateful for someone’s kindness, gratified by good news, congratulated when successful, gracious in hosting friends. When a person’s service pleases us, we leave a gratuity. In each of these uses I hear a pang of childlike delight in the undeserved.

A composer of music may add grace notes to the score. Though not essential to the melody–they are gratuitous–these notes add a flourish whose presence would be missed. When I first attempt a piano sonata by Beethoven or Schubert I play it through a few times without the grace notes. The sonata carries along, but oh what a difference it makes when I am able to add in the grace notes, which season the piece like savory spices.
In England, some uses hint loudly at the word’s theological source. British subjects address royalty as "Your grace." Students at Oxford and Cambridge may "receive a grace" exempting them from certain academic requirements. Parliament declares an "act of grace" to pardon a criminal.
New York publishers also suggest the theological meaning with their policy of gracing. If I sign up for twelve issues of a magazine, I may receive a few extra copies even after my subscription has expired. These are "grace issues," sent free of charge (or, gratis) to tempt me to resubscribe. Credit cards, rental car agencies, and mortgage companies likewise extend to customers an undeserved "grace period."

I also learn about a word from its opposite. Newspapers speak of communism’s "fall from grace," a phrase similarly applied to Jimmy Swaggart, Richard Nixon, and O. J. Simpson. We insult a person by pointing out the dearth of grace: "You ingrate!" we say, or worse, "You’re a disgrace!"

I read this week about a baseball game that one day took place. It seems that the Lord’s team was playing Satan’s team. The Lord’s team was at bat, the score was zero to zero, and it was in the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs. The Coach and the Lord stood by observing the game. As they watched, a batter stepped up the plate whose name was LOVE. Love swung at the first pitch and hit a single, because “love never fails.” The next batter was named FAITH, who also got a single because faith works with love. The next batter was named GODLY WISDOM. Satan wound up and threw the first pitch. Godly Wisdom looked it over and let it pass….ball one. Three more pitches and Godly Wisdom walked, because Godly wisdom never swings at what Satan throws. The bases were loaded. The Lord then turned to Coach and told him He was now going to bring in His star player. Up to the plate stepped GRACE. Coach said, "He sure doesn’t look like much." Satan’s whole team relaxed when they saw Grace. Thinking he had won the game, Satan wound up and fired his first pitch. To the shock of everyone, Grace hit the ball harder than anyone had ever seen. But Satan was not worried, as his center fielder let very few get by. He went up for the ball, but it went right through his glove, hit him on the head and sent him crashing on the ground. Then it continued over the fence for a home run! The Lord’s team won. The Lord then asked Coach if he knew why LOVE, FAITH, and GODLY WISDOM could get on base but could not win the game. Coach answered that he didn’t know why. The Lord explained, "If your love, faith and wisdom had won the game you would think you had done it by yourself. Love, faith and wisdom will get you on base, but only My GRACE can get you home."





Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stressful Jobs

I can't believe its been a month since I've blogged.

Today, I happened upon a Talk Show entitled 'The Doctors'. Today, they are discussing a wide range, variety of issues. At the top of the list & at the beginning of the program (Thank you Lord - just prior to me turning the television station) was the topic of 'Most Stressful Jobs'.

Interestingly, yet not surprising, was the projection of the President of the United States actually ages 8 years per term, due to the stress of his job, the weight of the economy, etc. Without saying, we know that if he is re-elected in 2004/05, the aging process moves to 16 years.

They also presented a list of THE MOST STRESSFUL JOBS:

  • Inner City High School Teach
  • Police Officer
  • Miner
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Doctor

I began to wonder...what about the Pastor? Preacher? Evangelist?

One of two things come to mind:
1. Pastoring is not a real job.
2. Pastoring is easy.

Are Pastors immune to stress and anasthetized from sturggles? Thank God for His faithfullness!!!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sunday Summary

We had an awesome worship experience at Cornerstone this past Sunday. It has been a month since we've moved to our new location, and I am already seeing both the challenge as well as the fruit of diligent labor and seed-planting. Our facility has given much more responsibility, exposure, visibility and freedom. All that being said, our people are excited! I see this more and more each and every week through their participation, inviting their people and overall excitement. I pray this continues and that it will grow.

I must admit, it was a difficult week for me with some of the things going on in my life personally. D'Ani and I had a very tedious and trying week; Kai's official last day of school was last Thursday; and our main church computer was infected with some strange virus. Needless to say, I found myself behind in my studies, studying until early Sunday morning, not getting to sleep until 4:50am only to wake up in about two hours. I was beat!!!

Fortunately, I have placed a level of responsibility in two of our men from the church who open up and get things in order. There are also people there who pray in the building and even for the Pastor and the message. Our Worship Leaders do an excellent job of invoking God's presence, setting the climate that is conducive for public worship, etc. This means absolutely very little to many pastors; but as a founding pastor who started this church about 4 years ago, having to do all of this and more...and THEN also preach the message - I am VERY grateful for every stride taken!!!

I did arrive 20 minutes late in time for the welcome. D'Ani and the boys actually beat me to service. Nothing was going right for me - woke up late, didn't have my clothing together (big mistake), forgot my minister's manual, couldn't locate my keys, on and on. Did I already say I had two hours of sleep?

BUT...when I drove up, walk toward my office, my countenance began to change. I heard the saints and the music. As I walked into the auditorium our people were in prayer and in worship. Praise, Worship, Fellowship and Sunday School were all great! I struggled through the message; but probably in a personal way. Preaching from John 4, I sensed personal fatigue; but strangely I am unsure if our people saw my fatigue.

This week I am studying Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. I have every intention of beginning our study there this coming week...Lord willing!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I'm Starting a Forum/Forum 1

The Lord is leading me in the direction of setting up more structure in my pastorate and in my own life. One of the ways I am doing this is 1) I've been praying on how better to be mentored in the context of my unique role as Pastor of Cornerstone, a church that is so different from any church I've ever attended. 2) How to develop a comeradorie amongst fellow-Pastors and brothers that is strong, healthy, open and purposeful. 3) Getting sound advice that will help our church to flourish and abound.

Therefore, one of the things I wish to do is ask those who are my blog friends; and those that are NOT - to give me advice (whether I eventually agree or not) as if you were my mentor or pastor (though this is not just to pastors and preachers, but laypeople - and my momma!); what you would say to me if we were sitting at a table and I desperately needed your help, as I do!

Throughout the Summer, I would like to ask these questions and ask that you would answer them via the comment page. Let me be clear, this is not just something I am curious about: I NEED your help; I WANT your help; and (believe it or not)...many who view my blog in the future will gain so much from your insight. PLEASE HELP ME.

I am about to give my first question now (others following will be labeled 'forum 1', 'forum 2', etc):

How do you get members excited about being apart of the church you pastor? Excited to the point where they tell everybody they know how much they love their church. Excited to the point where they can't wait to make it to church on Sunday and midweek. Excited to the point where they will drive from far and near; and pick up whomever needs a ride - to get to the place they call their church home. How? That's the first question!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Let me say right up front that I am thankful and grateful to have experienced an outstanding visitation of God's Holy Spirit in our Worship Experiences today! We had an awesome time in God's His presence...with the saints of God! From start to finish we were abundantly blessed.

We are still getting adjusted to our new place of worship; this has been our fifth Sunday at our new location. Today was a special treat because Rev. James R. Miller came to be with us today, as we held our Evangelism and Mission Sunday. I was somewhat disappointed, not have the opportunity to do the kind of outreach we had planned due to Houston's infamous, inclement weather forecast. The major tragedy is my cancellation for going out into our new communities this past Wednesday evening. I canceled after seeing and seeing the developments in the weather condition. Tragically, after sending out the message and rain descending in our lovely city, by the 6 o'clock hour, the sun had come out, streets were drying up, and all was copastetic (a made-up term). I thought - now what if I had just been like Noah and avoided the metorologists; All would have been well.

Nevertheless, we spread the word out as best we could. Our intention was to pass out food items, personal items, etc. to single parents in our community and those to whom our members invited. Fortunately, we were able to bless many single parents in a substantial way. Everything from ramon noodles and milk to diapers and wipes were given to them.

Rev. Miller shared with us at our 8am service from Mark 9:1-5 about the man born blind. He didn't give a specific subject/title; but he walked through the passage and blessed me immensely. He is a true expositor of God's Word; and I know that God has only begun to unfold the choice plan He has for Rev. Miller and his ministry and impact in the Kingdom of God.

We also had another service at 10:30am to honor all of our graduates. This was a joint service, held in conjunction with New Beginning Church in Houston. Minister France Brown, Jr. shared from Psalm 13 about how to handle the joy-killers. Outstanding!

It is my prayer that God will continue to use, stretch, grow and mature us in our area of ministry within the kingdom. I look forward to God continuing to use us to reach lost humanity. This is my prayer!

Monday, May 25, 2009

John & Joel

I am presently in the process of reading Richard Young's 'The Rise of Lakewood Church and Joel Osteen'. The book itself is well put together but pales in comparison to most biographies in terms of language, content and detail. I should say that I am not Joel Osteen's number one fan; but I must admit that I am no ally or harsh critic. This is largely due to the fact that his father, the late John Osteen, continues to be one of my favorite preachers of all time. I have a small collection of messages and writings from John Osteen that have blessed my life and ministry. Therefore, most of Richard Young's book, while it may present great surprises and insights to many, I have already heard from the old man himself. John (the dad) was a Bible preacher; he preached the Word. He preached against sin, though his message was always saturated in God's love for His people and wayward sinners. John actually came out of the Southern Baptist church, by the way. Glad to have read this work, the story of Lakewood here comes from the perspective of one who loves and cherishes the Osteen family. Therefore, you will not get a divisive, cynical analysis of the ministry. I do see some things within Osteen's ministry and structure that are both biblical and scriptural. The one I wish to emphasize at this point is the role of the pastoral family in Christian ministry. The priesthood was passed along to Aaron and his heirs. I strongly believe that the Pastoral Family should be actively involved in the life of the church. Of course, when I say this, my intent is to communicate the role of the 'immediate' family; not mother or father-in-law, cousins, aunts, etc. It is my prayer that my sons will serve as leaders in ministry! Do I expect both of them to be preachers? I do not know! But my prayer is that their life's work would be committed to Christian ministry. If they decide to be lawyers, it is my prayer that they would provide legal counsel to the Lord's church; and that however successful they may be - that they be strong, committed Christians who tithe, attend faithfully, love their pastor and are active in sharing the gospel. This is my prayer.
What I admire most about John Osteen is that he secured a legacy for his family. It is my prayer to do the same. My goal is to work wisely, diligently and prayerfully to fulfill my purpose and pass the torch on by placing it in capable hands.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Up for the CHALLENGE

By August of last year, I had built of quite a bit of an audience in the blogging world - atleast by my own standards. I was even blogging about 6 times a week. Last Summer was a time of relaxation and reflection...and good blogging! In fact, I even managed to entrench my beloved mother into the blogging world. Due to my studies, I found blogging to be somewhat of a challenge through previously serving as a great outlet. Most of the people who frequented my blog were those whom I visited and commented on theirs! In fact, we developed a great fraternity and comeradorie. This week I have made a commitment to blog again...and to do it more frequently as before. I am looking forward to several things this year - and I will attempt to reflect upon them all: trying to turn the tide of our congregation to becoming more missionally-minnded, Christ-centered and community empowering (that's enough in and of itself); attempting to become a Chaplain; deciding upon a doctoral program in which to apply and prayerfully get accepted; looking for my Cowboys to have a better season in their new stadium; also planning for a new addition to our family!!! Please pray for me as I pray for each of you....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We made it through!

God has been gracious and faithful! As some may know, I have been a part-time/full-time seminarian for the past 8 years. While this has effected and altared my entired life (not being able to travel, preaching schedule, etc.), I am glad to know that my M.Div. is finally complete. There is also great comfort in knowing that, while the Masters program at Southwestern (who has sharpened some of the greatest preaching minds such as Ralph West, Joel Gregory, etc.), God loves me no more or less based upon the completion of this much-regarded degree. I pray this would be an encouragement to those who have yet to accomplish such a feat - ministry is more than a degree or a sheet of paper that hangs on any given wall. To be honest, I know individuals who have several degrees who are psychological misfits, moral morons and literal fools. I will say, however, that anyone who DOES complete the Master of Divinity program at Southwestern is an impressive soul and did so by the grace of almighty God. I have found myself saying this past year that I will not be considering a doctoral program until a few years down the road. Interestingly, I found myself perusing academic websites the evening of my graduation looking into programs. While my plan is to accomplish that major milestone in the coming years, I pray that the Lord will pull together all of the things I have learned from my seminary experience, open up doors that were temporarily closed because of the sacrifices I've made to attend classes in Houston, and would allow the people to whom I minister to be partakers of all that the Lord has exposed me to in the classroom and in life.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Father Oprah

I am sure you've read about an internationally known Catholic priest sometimes called "Father Oprah" has been removed from his posts in Florida after published photos showed him lying down bare-chested in an embrace with a woman on a beach. Articles go on to assert that Rev. Alberto Cutie (pronounced koo-tee-AYE) -- who got the nickname "Father Oprah" because of the advice he gives on Spanish-language media -- remains a priest. But he was relieved Tuesday of his duties at St. Francis De Sales Church in Miami Beach, Florida, and at the Radio Paz and Radio Peace networks, said a "deeply saddened" Miami, Florida, Archbishop John C. Favalora.
The photos of the Cuban-American priest appeared on the cover and on eight inside pages of this week's TV Notas magazine. The cover says in Spanish: "Good God. Padre Alberto. First photos of a priest 'in flagrante' with his lover."
In a message posted on the Miami archdiocese Web page, the archbishop apologized to parishioners and radio listeners for what he called a "scandal."
"Father Cutie made a promise of celibacy and all priests are expected to fulfill that promise with the help of God," Favalora said. "Father Cutie's actions cannot be condoned despite the good works he has done as a priest."

Cutie apologized in an online statement Tuesday, saying he "wants to ask for forgiveness if my actions have caused pain and sadness. ... I assure you that my service and dedication to God remain intact."
The issue I am wrestling with is this: We have a priest who is excommunicated from his 'parish' for hanging out on a beach with a grown, single woman; yet you have pedophile priests who violate underage boys in non-consensual ways but they are able to remain in position and rank - something is drastically devastating and terribly wrong with this picture. Of course, the other issue is this - priests are not allowed to marry; but the one considered by the Roman Catholic church to be the first priest is Simon Peter, who was very much married. I am just confused.
Here is my question: Should priests be allowed to marry? I would like to hear what those in the blog world have to say. Thanks!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jeremy Tyler...I Disagree

Obviously I am no Sports Commentator. Admittedly, I miss a lot in sports because of my schedule. But this morning in my hotel room I happened upon ESPN and discovered there is a 17-year boy named Jeremy Tyler. In a strange move for this 17-year-old, Tyler has opted to forgo his education and travel to Europe, where he will compete for a professional team. In doing so he will be the first player born in the United States to skip senior year in favour of developing his game abroad – a move that has caused a stir across the Atlantic for its bold defiance of tradition.

In 2005 the NBA imposed a rule preventing teenagers from entering the league's draft until one year after their high school graduation. As a result many talented teenagers choose to play college basketball for a year, before dropping out and trying to forge a career in the NBA.

I am typically very laid back with the decisions people make. Why? Because they are their decisions. I actually agreed with Lebron and Kobe's decision to skip college and enter the NBA Draft. After all, their millions were already solidified before ever entering the draft - that even if they were injured prior to ever playing a game, that was guaranteed income.

I may be conservative but I think this is going way TOO far. What kind of example are we setting for our kids? There are many who opt out of college and enter a Trade School, begin work, or even enter into service to their country. While I know he will more than likely get his diploma, it is the principle.

Would like to know what some in the blog world think.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Poodle Attack

I am preparing to jump in my car and head to Corpus Christi to hear my good friend Rev. Lance Mann bring the message tonight at the Friendship Baptist Church, where my brother Kevin serves as Pastor. But before I do, I wanted to write a note about something that has really traumatized me. Last Saturday, March 29 (two days before my eldest son's 6th Birthday), I took my family to the Humane Society not too far from our home. I really wanted a Cocker Spaniel, but the one there was reserved for pending adoption. I was so excited to get approved for an adoption and simply thought I would wait for a Spaniel to become available. My wife mentioned my son and I have allergies, to which the young lady recommended a Poodle. I do like poodles, but never really entertained owning one myself - after all my grandmother (my mother's mother) seemed to really love them. I wasn't a particular fan. They brought in this hairy, dingy-looking dog who needed some major grooming. However, my wife and soon-to-be 6 year old fell in love. I was NOT impressed; neither was our youngest son Kaden, who just turned 2. But my wife was so impressed with this mangy-looking Poodle that she got on the floor and held this dog. After some time, I gave in and hesitantly acquired this dog -KNOWING we had to get to the nearest Petsmart and groomer ASAP. Several hours later, my wife walked in with the dog from the groomer, and immediately I could not believe the transformation. We named her 'Sasha', middle name 'Fierce.' Little did we know how prophetic our name choice would be! That night, she jumped on the bed, to which we realized she had some very strange habits. We are gathering she must have been the companion of an elderly person and was quite spoiled. Sasha has a strange habit. At night, around 9pm, she likes to go under the bed. I did some reading and analyzing and concluded this is her 'alone time'. The night she came home, she did just that. I decided I did not want a dog under my bed. I reached my hand under the bed to softly direct her out...and was met with a quick bite and a growl. I knew then that this dog was slightly touched.

Well...this past Sunday night, she decided to jump on the bed (after 9pm), and my wife told her to get off. I moved Sasha and she slowly made her way back up against my wife. When I tried to move her again, she bit me!!! I must admit that I got very upset and went to get my belt and yelled at her, instructing her to 'get off of my bed'. She growled and tried to let me know that she was not budging. THEN....she got off and went to her battle ground....UNDER THE BED!!! I know then that it was on.

For about 30 minutes, we were fighting under the bed, as I tried to catch her. I had my gloves in place, but she and I wrestled, she growled, I threatened and tried to swing, pulling up the mattress as best I could, etc. After about 35 t0 40 minutes, I was finally able to get her, though she began to agressively attack me, I got her down to the ground in a neutral area and, I swear, this dog began to scream like a human being! She did all of this while still on the prowl and the attack. Finally, I had my hands around her mouth until she slightly calmed down. Finally I grabbed her by her neck and threw her outside in the breezway and garage.

I hadn't been that angry in about 10 years! And I could not believe I let a dog get to me like that. I felt so ashamed; and know I devastated my wife. After the fact, I felt so childish and immature. Pride just would let me get past the fact that a dog who I feed on a regular basis would not follow my instructions. Little did I know that the situation may have traumatized her more than myself. Even now, she has not returned to my room; we are finally reconciling, but it is a slow process. I never knew a poodle could have such an effect on me.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Around four years ago, on March 27, 2005, the church where I serve as Founding Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church, held our first public worship gathering at Silverlake Elementary School in Pearland, TX. The fact that we are still meeting together on a weekly basis, growing spiritually, winning souls to Christ, and continuing to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ - is nothing short of a miracle! Our four-year anniversary celebration was held during our morning worship service. This is the first year I have literally entrusted the anniversary to a committee of people who undergirded the entire event and simply stood back and let them work. I was pleasantly surprised to see the level of superior excellence, attention to detail, apparant teamwork, harmony and excitement amongst our members. This past year we have seen both decline in membership numbers but a growth in both maturity and consistent giving. Pastor Z.T. Davis of Houston, TX shared a powerful word from the Lord from John 5:1-9 with the message entitled, 'This is Your Moment'. What a timely, substantive and practical exposition of scripture it was! As Cornerstone moves into her fourth year of ministry, I solicit your prayers as we strive to do the will of our Father. Happy Birthday Cornerstone!!!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

My Favorite Poem

During my years at Dallas Baptist University, I was a watchcare member at Concord Baptist Church where Dr. E.K. Bailey was the then Senior Pastor. I worked in the tape ministry! For years Rev. Ralph D. West was and is one of my favorites. I had the opportunity to get a hold of two messages he preached when he was only 27-years of age entitled, 'What Has Christianity Done for You?' another entitled, 'God With Us'. This young minister, full of promise and potential, in one of these messages, shared a poem that has become a favorite of mine. The poem is originally writted by William Stidger, a 19th Century Christian author and poet, who I later found had several volumes of sermonic anecdotes and illustrations in print. I cherish these works even now in my library.

I saw God wash the world last night
With His sweet showers on high;
And then when morning came
I saw him hang it out to dry.
He washed each slender blade of grass
And every trembling tree;
He flung his showers against the hills
And swept the rolling sea.
The white rose is a deeper white;
The red, a richer red
Since God washed every fragrant face
And put them all to bed.
There's not a bird, there's not a bee
That wings along the way,
But is a cleaner bird and bee
Than it was yesterday.
I saw God wash the world last night;
Ah, would He had washed me
As clean of all my dust and dirt
As that old white birch tree!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I have been blessed by one of my recent reads entitled 'Sacred Marriage' by Gary Thomas. This book is more than a how-to manual on marital improvement. Moreover, it displays the gift of marriage as the overflow of one’s love relationship with God and intimacy toward Him. In the opening chapter, Thomas uses various life situations and marriages to confront the reader’s view of marriage and its intent altogether. From the opening lines it is clear that the author seeks to show how the struggles, challenges, joys and celebrations of marriage are the very things that God will use as instruments of grace to draw us closer to Himself and grow in the character of Jesus Christ. He asserts that we—in order to spiritually benefit from marriage—must confront our selfish tendencies and self-centered ways, own up to our ugly attitudes and look at our disappointments in a different way. It is clear from God’s Word that God is interested in our holiness and not our happiness. On page 13, Thomas asks a heart-wrenching question: What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? Thomas asserts that a marriage must ‘stretch’ in order to fulfill its God-given purpose and potential. He suggests that strengthening one’s view of the institution of marriage itself is in gaining an understanding of the purpose and intent of marriage. He also shares how the marriage relationship often brings to surface many of the dormant attitudes that we as individuals may not even know exist, in and of themselves.
Another important aspect in Sacred Marriage is how Thomas parallels love within marriage to God’s divine love toward humanity and humanity’s love toward God. In a real sense, Thomas shows how our marital partnerships express and convey some important truths about God to us. Even seeing God as the Creator of the universe; and His making all things new – point to just one analogy of God’s divine love and our relationship with Him. I like how Thomas uses the analogy of Hosea and Gomer in describing another aspect of God’s divine love toward humanity. He expresses that God’s love for us is both forgiving and supernatural. That God delights in us. What I take from just this one analogy is that, amid the imperfections we may view in our spouse, that God wants our love for Him to be fueled by an endless passionate pursuit that will not let us go.
One important component and facet in Thomas’ writing is showing how the world definition of love stands in contrast to the Bible’s definition of love. Thomas asserts that marriage is uniquely crafted and designed to teach us how to love. The implication is that the average person should be able to describe our love for God in how we love our spouse. Of course, we come into the marital relationship with our own prejudices, preferences and poor attitudes. Thomas points out that it is important for partners in marriage to confront these stereotypes and handle them effectively before they handle your marriage. It is important for us to love our spouse despite their imperfections and their flaws. God loves us in spite of our flaws; we should, in turn, love our spouses in spite of the things we aren’t so crazy about. Thomas affirms that there are differences between two marital partners; but that we should grow to accept, appreciate and esteem these differences. There should not be a spirit of judgment within the marital relationship; but harmony, love and the willingness to love amid each and every flaw, failure and fallacy. We must thank God for our spouse; and appreciate the obvious differences. Thomas says that marriage can draw us into the intense act of reconciliation.
Thomas asserts that marriage can serve as our cleansing. He footnotes that our marriage serve as a tool to expose us of our sins, imperfections, frailties and prideful ways. It is when we see these very sins come to light, we are then apt to confront them and grow beyond these sins and purify ourselves and our marriages. This will ultimately strengthen and grow our relationship with God, according to Thomas. He also says that we must become more open, transparent, and vulnerable to our spouses. We must allow our partner the opportunity to both see our human inadequacies; and also the minister to us in their own way. We should become our spouse’s ministry endeavor, and they should be ours. We should never uses our spouse’s vulnerabilities as a time to shame or belittle them. This is an opportunity to minister to them and further their journey on the road toward full maturity and Christ-like character.
I love how Thomas illustrates God’s love to us through the history of Israel. He says that our culture has a tendency to quit on God and God’s way. But one of the constant themes throughout Thomas’ work is that we are called to persevere and endure through the struggles we may encounter in our marriages; and even in life.
One of the things that helped me most in this book is how Thomas suggests that partners in marriages use the failures to strengthen and propel them forward. He asserts that fellowship within marriage is fostered by the spiritual practices of learning not to run from conflict, which most in marriage tend to do. He also says that it comes from learning how to compromise, which is difficult in this self-centered culture in which we live. He says that it also comes from accepting your mate’s weaknesses. Ultimately, we are to give our mate the gift of ourselves. Thomas says that our ultimate goal should be self-surrender; and the ability to serve even when your sinful humanity feels a sense of ultimate and abrasive entitlement.
I agree with Thomas when he says throughout the book that our satisfaction in marriage has more to do with our relationship with God than it does with our relationship with our spouse. This ultimately is reflected in how we serve God and serve our spouse. It is also seen in knowing that the mission of your marriage is intricately connected to the mission and purpose God has for you as an individual.
Sacred Marriage is definitely a new favorite of mine when it comes to writings on Christianity living, love and marriage relationships. It is filled with rich stories, insights and analogies. It also gives real-life examples and illustrations. I plan to reference this book for many years to come. Additionally, I plan to recommend this book to anyone seeking counsel on growing closer to God and one another.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Intoxicated with Unbroken Success

"Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us." -Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

This past Sunday the Lord allowed us to experience His presence once again. It has been one of those times where I knew (if no one else) that HE did it, not us. And not knowing which direction to go in the message at 10pm Saturday night. After talking to a ministry friend and contemplating making a call to one of my ministers (I tell them to always be prepared!), I was led to stay up, pray, study, form my outline and C.I.T., write the message out, and stand on Sunday and preach THE WORD. Incidentally - the Lord not only led me by His Spirit to preach, but from Malachi chapter 3!!! I can not begin to explain the magnificence of following our awesome Father. Our worship seemed so pure, real, rich and refreshing. Before I even stood, God made it clear to me that HE intended to have HIS way. And He did just that. To be honest, the Spirit was so high and atmosphere so broken that I contemplated changing the message. (Interestingly I developed a habit of preparing an alternate sermon). But I prayed, our ministers prayed with me, and I delivered a message from Malachi chapter 3. I had everything but a title when I stood. But for some reason I blurted out a title that was kind of corny: God's Divine Stimulus Package. It was only after I got to the pulpit did I realize I didn't even have a title; I just knew I had a message! Strangely, it seemed to connect with the people, connect with the text; and paralleled with modern day context. God used the message!!! No one walked down to give their life to Christ, I am unhappy to report. But I do know that the giving was the best we've had this year thus far. Of course, it is not that the giving was so very high but that giving this year has been quite low. I have concluded that God is sovereign; and He is faithful - whether the people to whom God has entrusted to us do right by Him or not. If we remain faithful to God and His Word - He will still show up and show out - whenever He chooses to do so. Of course, I say this as I prepare to go into another Sunday that will definately be filled with challenge, testing and trial. My exhortation to remain faithful in Christian service is not only for those who read these words; but for myself as I reflect upon my own challenges; and seek to remain faithful and bloom where God has planted me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Back In Stride

Okay....I's been almost a month since I've blogged!!! Wow! Please be patient with me - God is not through with me yet. It has been a both an eventful month thus far; but I make no excuses. I think I have just gone 'blank'. In my blogs, I have always tried to express what is on my mind, and mostly on my heart. The first three weeks of this year - I have spent so much time either reading, resting, praying; and I have to admit that MUCH of my time glued to CNN. My parents have spent this past week in Philadelphia and I am glad to report that they were able to spend a little time with Lance, my blog friend and brother in Christ. I am still blank but just wanted to write something. I would like to make this more of a daily thing. Pray for me; I am always praying for you all!