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!