Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday in Retrospect

I have found it difficult, at moments, sifting through the inexhaustible truths of the Beatitudes of our Lord.  Anything that includes the teachings, sayings and demands of our Lord should be handled with care.  Today, I preached on the 5th Beatitude of Christ, which deals with the merciful both extending and receiving mercy.  Here's my outline:

God’s Word on Mercy
Matthew 5:7

I. The Position of the Merciful

A. The Comparisons of the Merciful

Compared to forgiveness.

Compared to love.

Compared to grace.

Compared to justice.

B. The Characteristics of the Merciful

The ATTITUDE of mercy.

The ACT of mercy.

II. The Promise of the Merciful

This has been, and I think will continue to be, the most difficult of the Beatitudes.  This is not to say it was a preaching flop.  God really spoke to us through the message.  But the subject matter, the purpose to which Christ spoke of this form of mercy, the diabolical problems with the very notion of mercy within the cultural context (then and now), and the scriptural directives of mercy that are quite clear and concise.  Strangely, I agree with John F. MacArthus and can honestly say this Beatitude is the most important of them all, for a number of reasons.  I'll state just one - the entire story of redemption hinges on the very idea of mercy.

Today we also had 5th Sunday dinner at the church.  Our kitchen crew is one of the best!  Today we had grilled Ribeye steaks with all of the trimmings.  Members were asked (by you know whom) to bring desert. It was awesome.  While I am not a big steak eater, the food was great; and it always makes me happy knowing my wife is having steak, as well.  Dee LOVES steak!

After eating together, we worshipped together once again.  We had two for baptism, a time of reflection around the word (I only preached 15 minutes from I John 1:9 and a portion of Isaiah 53!), and then we communed together around the Lord's table.

Service was great. Will NEVER do that again!  We will, of course, have dinner.  But....i have made both a decision that may have been wise, but also foolish, if there is such a thing.  Mt. Salem is a 140 year old congregation, who is steeped in tradition.  This is a fact, not an opinion.  From singing directly for the hymnals to Baptist Training Union Sunday evening to Sunday School banners.  You name that 'Baptist Way', we have everyone beat!  In some ways, this has been quite beneficial for me.  In has pushed me out of my box with regard to my fear of singing and expressing emotion.  In my setting, the pastor (up until now) IS THE worship leader. Period!  It has also grown me in the area of my patience.  Mind you, our primary (and only) musician is a sweet woman who is 80 years of age, and has been the musician at our church for over 50 years.  This is, in no way, a criticism. But the fact of my being a 33 year old preacher, coming from a subuurban church in Houston, with 75% being young adults...go figure!  And while God has worked on my patience, I've had time to learn my share of hymns and spirituals.  I assure, after almost 2 years....I can hang with pthe best of them!  So those some of the advantages (among so many other examples).  But one tradition I am about to kill (yes, I said kill) is the notion that Lord's supper must be done at night.  I get the origin, how this started; but I can't wrap my head around the logic.  Jesus did it at night. I get that.  It is called Lord's SUPPER, by many. I get that too!  But any deep or casual study of scripture will leave to conclude that Communion at night is nor has ever been a staunch requirement given by our Lord. So....for the last almost 2 years, I have either done Communion at night, or....once before when we had the dinner after church.  Basically, it has been at night.  It is about time to simply make the change .  Communion will need to be in the morning on first Sundays.  As wih any pastor, I can already see in my head a visual of those who will not like my decision. However, as with any decision I make regarding change, I will teach it for the scripture first.  I am certain I will win the argument!

So, from now on - if we do have dinner after church again (probably on the next 5th Sunday, in September), we will have communion first.  After dinner, everyone can go home,  including me and my family.

Olympics got off to a great start.  The men's basketball team won today against France.  Dwight Howard still isn't traded.  At this point, I'm tired of hearing about him, think he is overrated to begin with, think Andrew Bynum needs to stay in LA, and Howsrd needs to be a man and honor his contract in Orlando and stay until next year.

I'm looking forward to a very interesting week.  That's ALL I'll say about that!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday in Retrospect

On this Lord's Day, God smiled upon us at the Mt. Salem Church. Today I continued on in our study of The Beatitudes of our Lord. We've made it to the fourth beatitude, Matthew 5:6, which speaks of '...hungering and thirsting after righteousness...'. I titled the message today, The Blessing of Holy Hunger. The central idea of the sermon was to address our need of developing an appetite toward righteousness, recognizing the problem nd contrast of the world's pursuit of superficial desires, how this hunger and thirst is both cultivated and rewarded to those who inherit the kingdom, in lieu of the previous statements of our Lord in the beatitudes. 

Here's my outline:

I. The position of the Hungry Heart

A. Perverted Desire

B. Proper Desire

1. Watch what you eat

2. Weigh what you eat

3. Want what you eat

II. The Production of the Hungry Heart

1. From Worship
2. By the Word
3. In our Work
4. Through our Witness

III. The Promise of the Hungry Heart

Our study has been quite rewarding. I've also chosen to develop a Bible Study curriculum to follow each beatitude, that I teach on Wednesday nights at our church. My hope is to put the study of the beatitudes in written form, followed in each chapter with the Bible Study curriculum for each beatitude, for publication. As one can imagine, this study has not only been rewarding, but also challenging. I also thank God for those who made decisions on today, as well. Next Sunday we will baptize two candidates for baptism. To God be the glory! 

This afternoon we journeyed to Minnihula Baptist Church of Goliad, Texas for the Pastoral Anniversary of Dr. Ira Antoine. Dr. Antoine has grown to be a dear friend in the faith and also a gifted preacher and lecturer. He is a church strategist for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and is well on his way to being a leading authority in church growth and leadership development. It was an honor to even be asked to share on his day. I shared from passages in Exodus 14, Joshua 1 and Isaiah 52:7, titling the sermon 'Following Favored Feet.'. God really smiled upon the message, amid my nervousness. God is good! My parents met us in Goliad to pick up our two oldest, Kai and Kaden, for a few weeks with 'Nana' and 'Bebop'. I miss them already; BUT I thank God for the mini-vacation. Dwight Howard still hasn't been traded; and it is becoming somewhat of a headache. I am egonning to think the Lakers need to simply keep Andrew Bynum, and call it a day. But...we shall see!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday in Retrospect

Today, at the Mt. Salem Church, I continued my series in the Beatitudes of our Lord. I continued with the 3rd Beatitude, out of Matthew 5:5, which says 'Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.' i titled this sermon, "Power Through Meekness." 

Teaching & Preaching on the demands of Christ have always proven to be both challenging and rewarding for me. In the process, our study is growing me, my life and preaching. As a direct result, as is my prayer, our people are listening and growing. We had one come today as a candidate for baptism. 

We thank God for the  young adult who made a most important decision today. 

Today was Pastor's Aide Annual Day. Though I've been pastoring for years, this was my first Pastor's Aide Day. I actually don't recall my father having such a day. Now that I have a concept of what it is, I think I have more insight on how things should go, if I continue this day. One thing I have learned, at least for the importance of providing direction, even on the Pastor's days. 

That being said, I do appreciate Sis. Betty Scott, who heads this wonderful ministry; and all who contributed in some way, shape or form. Rev. Frank Harvey, Pastor of Morning Star B.C. in Bloomington, Texas really provided a great Message from Acts 12. I was thoroughly blessed and helped. God is good! 

Dwight Howard still hasn't been traded. There are talks that his being traded to the Nets is dead; and that he could possibly end up in LA or Houston. Hopefully, he can leave Orlando at this point. After all, he basically did a LeBron James 'Decision' feat without first having the deal set in stone. So in my view, his name is no good there any longer. Of course, I'd like to see him in LA. But it looks like it may be Houston. Don't quote me! :)