Saturday, December 5, 2015

Renew Your Love – Strength Your Commitment

You may have noticed I’m sporting a new hair style. This morning I’m going to explain why. God desires our obedience and has always called upon His people to be peculiar. The Prophets of the Old Testament are shining examples. Don’t misunderstand, or jump ahead and think I’m asking us all to shave our heads. The message is: Be Obedient to God!

Ezekiel was told to lie in the street on his left side for 390 days. Then to turn onto his right side for another 40 days. One day for each year of sin in Israel and Judah. God said He would bind Ezekiel so he could not move until the days were completed.

Hosea was commanded to take a prostitute for a wife & every time she cheated on him Hosea had to forgive her and take her back.

Jeremiah had to buy a fine linen belt, put it on, and protect it from being ruined. Then go to a place, take off the belt, hide it in a crack in the rocks, wait several days, go back and get the belt.

We are called to a life of separation from the world. Dedication to God requires obedience. “So, why did you do that to your hair Pastor?”

Numbers 6:2 “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk” (KJV)

All my life I’ve been told I have beautiful hair. My grandmother would say, “Wouldn’t he make a really pretty girl with this hair?” When I got older, hair stylists would say, as they ran their fingers through my hair, “You have such nice hair.” I would laugh and say, “Just cut it until the gray is gone.” NO! That is not what happened this time.

Many of you know I’ve been fasting and praying about the Church and asking God to direct our plans here. Thanksgiving and Black Friday I began to experience such horrible pain in my kidneys. The pain was excruciating and I told God, “Whatever You have to do to heal this pain – Just do it!”   Around here we always pray, “God touch them from the top of their head to the soles of their feet.” Well, my prayer went like this, “God, slap me from the dandruff to the toe fungus.”

I woke up Saturday still in pain. I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Shave your head!” I went to Sports Clips and told the stylist, “Take it ALL off.” She asked, “ALL of it?” I replied, “Yes, ALL.” The pain left my body the moment the hair started falling.

Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (KJV)

The thought never crossed my mind that I was overly attached to my hair. I have never been a person who was consumed by my appearance, but in order to be obedient to God a sacrifice must be made. In my case it was a sacrifice of pride. God calls upon each of us to make a sacrifice. We must all give up something to serve Him.

Psalm 4:2-4 “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah. But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” (KJV)

We have all turned the glory of God into shame. The Old Testament says, “We have turned everyone to our own way” and the New Testament says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We need a Savior. We cannot be ashamed of Him or the testimony we have in Him. Our faith in Him brings life and healing.

2 Timothy 1:8-10 “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:” (KJV)

If we desire to experience a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit we first must re-establish a standard of holiness. Repentance and personal sacrifice will guide us along the path. We have been attempting to relive the “Glory Days” of the supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit without the surrender of our hearts to the Holiness of God.

1 Peter 1:15 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;” (KJV)

God’s promise is to “pour out His Spirit on all flesh” but first there must be a return to God’s Word with complete resolution and overwhelming faith. If a Nazarite suddenly found themselves in the midst of a dead body. They were required to shave their head and renew their wow before God. The Jewish tradition was to tear your clothing to express the depth of your grief. We have all been touched by death, and we live among a culture that is lost and going to Hell.

Joel 2:13 “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” (KJV)

We must repent, or run the risk of becoming useless to God in the fulfillment of His plan. Make no mistake, God’s plan will be established! The question is: “Will we make ourselves available for His use through repentance and sacrifice; or, will our stubbornness, pride, and over inflated self-worth render us useless to His plan?”

Jeremiah 13:10 “This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.” (KJV)

Before we read the final Scripture for this message, I want to preface it by saying, “There has been too much Gong banging and cymbal crashing in the Church and far too little LOVE!” (I am not talking about the drums, or the drummer.) Really think about these next words.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “Though I speak with this tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (KJV)

I don’t have any idea how many have ever considered these words from 1 Corinthians, but I grew up in a Pentecostal household and Pentecostal Church. A “move of the Spirit” was always “with signs following” but not always in the overwhelming Spirit of LOVE.  Do we recognize the importance of LOVE, as we read the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 13? Examine the verses closely. We can demonstrate EVERY manifestation of the Holy Spirit, but without LOVE those gifts are useless. We according to those verses are ourselves NOTHING without LOVE.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Gain Wisdom Accept Correction

Proverbs 1:8-19
8 My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. 9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck. 10 My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! 11 They may say, “Come and join us. Let’s hide and kill someone! Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent! 12 Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave; let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death. 13 Think of the great things we’ll get! We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take. 14 Come, throw in your lot with us; we’ll all share the loot.” 15 My child, don’t go along with them! Stay far away from their paths. 16 They rush to commit evil deeds. They hurry to commit murder. 17 If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away. 18 But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed. 19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life. (NLT)

On the path of gaining wisdom God has placed fathers and mothers as or primary guides in this process. Proverbs 1:7 cut straight to the heart of the matter by explaining all TRUE knowledge begins with reverence toward God and a healthy respect for discipline. Parents who are themselves committed to God balance the scales of wisdom: The father supplies correction and the mother offers instruction. When we, as children, ignore mama’s instruction, daddy gives us the correction and redirection we need to get us back on the path of wisdom.

My father, an extremely quiet, was an example of Godliness and discipline. One experience that stands out in my mind from my early teen years happened just after, when I was 12 or 13. In my parent’s home the evening meal always consisted of meat, potatoes, vegetables, bread and butter. There was always a butcher’s knife on the table. On this particular evening, I was being a typical, mouthy, disrespectful teen/preteen and I hear, “That’s it! I’ve had enough of this!”

The quiet, peaceful man I knew as daddy, got up, grabbed the butcher knife, and looked at me. I had never heard him yell and I certainly never seen that look before. I got up and began running through the house yelling, “Daddy don’t kill me! Please, Daddy don’t kill me! I promise I’ll be good!”

My father had no intention of killing me, but that spanking made an impression on me. When we ignore Mama’s instruction we will face daddy’s correction.

The first instruction “If sinners entice you – Turn your back on them!” These words found in verse 10 are followed by several statements they may use to tempt us into their schemes. They are just wetting our appetite for sin.

Verse 15 restates the instruction, “Don’t go along with them – Stay far from their paths!” This second warning is followed by the results of sinful behavior until we see in verse 17 sinners do not have the brains God gave a bird. Sinners get caught in their own trap. “They are trying to get themselves killed.”

At this point we run head-long into the stop sign of verse 19, “Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money – It robs them of life.” This is in contrast to John 10:10 where we learn Christ came that we may have life more abundantly. Stay off the path of the simpleminded! Gain wisdom, accept correction, and follow the path that leads to Life Eternal. Check the link below.

The Bible and a Belt

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Purpose and Foundation of Godly Wisdom

Proverbs 1:1-7
1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; 3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; 4 To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. 5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: 6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (KJV)

Solomon – Son of David – King of Israel recorded these proverbs to accomplish a three-fold purpose. 1) They are to teach wisdom to the simpleminded. 2) They are to teach discretion and discipline to the young, and 3) they are to offer understanding and insight making the wise exponentially wiser.

Everyone achieving a successful life is the goal of these teachings – Success not measured in human terms – But success fulfilling God’s plan for our lives. Speaking only for myself, “I desire a successful life – On God’s terms!” If that is your desire as well, join me in exploring and applying these proverbs to current situations in life.

The heart of Solomon’s teachings is found in verse 7 of chapter 1. The fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (NLT)

If we are going to build successful lives we must begin with the correct foundation. Examine your life today as I examine mine. Is our version of success predicated upon reverence for God?
Is our knowledge base drawn from the well-spring of God’s Word or the cesspool of human desire?

James 3:17 “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” (KJV)

The journey toward wisdom begins upon a firm foundation. We must sweep away dividing influences and focus on God’s attributes. He will open our eyes to wisdom, discipline and success.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wisdom Matters

James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (KJV)

Common sense is becoming less and less common. Unwise decisions seem to be the trademark of this society. This trend is directly related to the removal of God from everything public. Sound judgment and righteous actions adorn the lives of those who have submitted to God’s authority. Those who do not acknowledge His authority or seek His wisdom will corrupt and defile everything they touch.

Psalm 53:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.” (KJV)

We as individuals, families, communities, states and nations are being called to seek God and His wisdom. It is found in the Bible. God’s desire for everyone is that we know Him, that we have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, and that we glorify Him with successful and disciplined lives.

The Bible has been labeled, “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” For that reason, over the next several weeks we will be exploring those instructions from the book of Proverbs.

If you are ready to ask God for TRUE wisdom, please join us as we discover God’s Wisdom Matters.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

No Sugar Added

Have you ever searched in vain to find just the right way to say something, asking yourself repeatedly, “How can this be said without sounding harsh, condescending, or just flat out rude?” I’ve struggled with that quest for a little over four weeks now and decided no matter how it is perceived I must speak.

I meet weekly with an accountability partner and the first order of business we address is The Prayer to The Holy Spirit. For all those unfamiliar with that prayer, I’ll present it here:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in us the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may truly wise and ever enjoy your consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our goal in these weekly meetings is to recap the events of our lives and measure our successes and often our failures as Disciples of Christ. The other day, the thought struck me that Job – You know the man from the Bible who lost EVERYTHING on the same day – did not deserve the criticism he received from his “friends,” but this generation – That’s another story all together.

Job 15:11-13 11 Are God’s consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you? 12 Why has your heart carried you away, and why do your eyes flash, 13 so that you vent your rage against God and pour out such words from your mouth? (NIV)

For over 2,000 years we have enjoyed the blessings of liberty secured by the cross of Christ, and now the Church is trading that liberty for bondage to Political Correctness. It was for freedom that Christ set us free…freedom from sin…not freedom to sin! Job’s comforters were right judgment comes from God and the wicked will face His wrath. Is this generation cognizant enough to recognize the trouble headed their way? Is the Church willing to awaken and preach the GOOD NEWS of SALVATION?  Or, are we content to ignore the warnings?

Job 15:20-26 20 All his days the wicked man suffers torment, the ruthless man through all the years stored up for him.21 Terrifying sounds fill his ears; when all seems well, marauders attack him. 22 He despairs of escaping the realm of darkness; he is marked for the sword.  23 He wanders about for food like a vulture; he knows the day of darkness is at hand. 24 Distress and anguish fill him with terror; troubles overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack, 25 because he shakes his fist at God and vaunts himself against the Almighty, 26 defiantly charging against him with a thick, strong shield. (NIV)

There is no shield of protection if the opponent is God, and yet this generation seeks to discount, disgrace, and deny any and all Christian influence. Jesus faced the same issue. Is the Church so, blind as to think “WE” can bow to the will of men and ignore God’s Word?

Mark 3:2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. (NIV)

Wake up, repent or be damned! As my Aunt Flo says, “Get RIGHT, or get LEFT!” These are not political decisions. They are spiritual destinations – Heaven or Hell the choice is yours to make. Get right with God or be left behind – Darkness is on the rise. We can curse it or let the light of Jesus shine. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

History Matters Don’t Change it – Learn from it!

Mark 3:24-26 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. (KJV)

History Matters Don’t Change it – Learn from it!

My last three years as a teacher in the public school system were spent teaching American History. I began each of those years with the quote: Those who refuse to learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.

After a discussion to determine the meaning and validity of those words, I introduced the question: What makes America so great? For each of the 180+ days of the school year, seventh grade students were presented with assignments to discover for themselves the answer to that question. America and her history good, bad and often bloody does matter. History can be a wonderful teacher if we explore it with a desire to learn from it.

Today, it is shocking to me to witness the number of people who have no appreciation for the accomplishments and history of America. It is disturbing to watch as that rich history and the blessings of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are being re-written or erased completely.

 Psalm 5:4-6  For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; 6 you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest. (NIV)

After watching the video series: How the States got Their Shape, as a final assignment I asked my students to redefine the US map and think of all the things they had learned about America the states and what makes this a great nation. I was struck to the core of my being at the results they presented.

1 Samuel 2:7 The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. (NASB)

Each and EVERY student presented me with a US map divided in half NORTH and SOUTH. Across the northern half were written the words “Given to Canada” and across the Southern half the map read, “Given to Mexico.”

Are we as a nation writing God out of our History? Is God in return preparing to write America out of existence?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bullwhips, Knives, BB Guns, Bow & Arrows

The innocent days of childhood, carefree sun filled summer time and cool-aide ran through my mind the other day and I remembered these cute quips. “Sugar and spice and everything nice: That’s what little girls are made of.” Contrary to that we are taught, “Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails: That’s what little boys are made of.”

1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (KJV)

When I was 10 years old my parents moved our family to the desert. I was so excited because we were moving to the wild-west. Along the way I spent what little money I had on what I considered necessities. Somewhere in Texas I picked up a Bullwhip. As we drove through New Mexico I added a bow and arrows to the collection of weapons my youthful mind considered “must haves.” I already owned an assortment of knives and BB guns. I was prepared for any uprising. I would not be caught by the unexpected.

There was no end to the depth of my despair when reality hit. There were no feathered Indians with war paint and scalping knives. The gun toting outlaws didn’t ware neckerchiefs and ride horseback. Life in Arizona was just as modern and boring as life in Tennessee, although the people did talk funny!

Ephesians 4:10-16 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (KJV)

It’s time to stop playing with the ideas that divide us and start teaching the TRUTH that unifies us! Let go of the old stereotypes. See in others the glory of our King. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Not Another Bite

 Coming home from a breakfast meeting this morning, I was struck with the thought of spiritual starvation. We live in abundance but wither and faint for lack of substance. We are starving in the midst of a feast. Christians are experiencing a self-imposed hunger strike daily – Not of bread, meat and drink – On those we grow fat – But we deny ourselves the rich nourishment of God’s Holy Word.

As I drove home I listened to the Christian radio station. I noticed that there was a vast variety of tiny bites of Bible each packaged in sweetly dressed and quite appealing devotional messages – like going to a Tapas (small flavorful over-priced bites)  Restaurant for the soul. Medical professionals tell us to cut down on saturated fats and increase our intake of fiber to promote a heart healthy diet – Translating that to our spiritual condition we need more than beautifully arranged appetizers. We need a meal!  

(Ezekiel 3:1-4)

“Did y’ eat yet?”

The Master has set the table – Come and dine!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Recognizing Responsibility Mastering YOUR Ministry

It is always an honor, a blessing and a privilege to address God’s people with His truth. I hope this message will be challenging, uplifting and motivating to each of us. Looking at the title of the message, and knowing my own limitations, I fully understand that accomplishing any of these goals is impossible without God’s intervention.

You may have arrived here with some pretty clear perceptions and beliefs about what ministry is and who is responsible for it. I know that two months ago I had some pretty strong ideas on the subject. I’m going to ask three questions to measure where we are as a group. First do you believe in the concept of “the Priesthood of all believers”?  Second, do you believe God does “Extraordinary things using Extremely Ordinary People”? Third, ARE YOU ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN MINISTRY?

Statistics tell us that 80-90% of ministry is done by 10-20% of the congregation. If we believe “the Priesthood of all believers” exists, why haven’t more than 20% in our congregations answered the call to ministry? Our communities are filled with needs.

A few years ago, General Superintendent Reverend Doctor George Wood challenged every ministry in the Assemblies of God to evaluate their activity in ministry based on five core values and ten core behaviors in essence he was asking us to examine what we promote and how we practice Christian living. Relax! I’m not going to take you through my two month journey, responding to that challenge, but I have prepared a handout; if you’re interested in taking the journey yourself. Today I’m just going to share some of the highlights to see if we are all on the Same Page.

Being on the same page is not and does not mean always doing the same thing as everyone else. What are some of the vital life giving ministries we, “the Priesthood of ALL Believers”, get involved with?

Teaching Ministries
Evangelistic Outreach
Administering Mercy & Care
Missions Trips
Serving Faithfully in a variety of areas

Can you see there is no end to the possibilities in ministry?  Ministry happens in an unending variety of ways as God uses individuals He has created and inspired. There is a ministry opportunity for every believer and if it doesn’t already exist as a ministry we’ll make room for it. Every ministry must be founded upon the Word of God and nothing in this life is without responsibility. Ministry works best in teams. “Some plant some water, but God gives the increase.” Let’s examine a few questions as well as the Scriptures that I believe answer them, and see if we actually Recognizing Responsibility in Ministry.

Who called you?

1 Peter 2:9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (NLT)

Who equipped you?

2 Corinthians 3:5 It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. (NLT)

Who is with you?

Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (NIV)

What do you see?

1 Samuel 10:6-7 The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. (NIV)

What do you have?

Ephesians 5:17-21 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (KJV)

What do you need?

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (KJV)

Answering these questions in light of Scripture:

Who called you? And everyone said God

Who equipped you? And everyone said God

Who is with you? And everyone said God

What do you see? This is the only question that is the least little bit tough to answer. It’s not tough to answer because it is difficult to understand. It is difficult because it goes against our natural tendencies. Normally, according to my experience as a Pastor, when people see things that need to be done; they start looking for the Pastor to let him know there is a ministry opportunity that must be addressed. If they can’t find the Pastor, the next best thing is to find his wife. I don’t really know if ministry happens the same way in big churches, but in my eight years at Cocopah Assembly of God that was the normal practice. So, if you already know what I’m going to say next, and you already practice ministry this way when I’m finished with the next statement I want you to jump to your feet and shout, “Halleluiah!” Are you ready?

The best way to approach ministry opportunities is: “When you see something that needs to be done and God is speaking to you – JUST DO IT.” God called you. God will equip you. God goes with you.

It is wise to ask for council, but don’t pass the buck.

What do you have? Access to the presence, power, and anointing of God…all you need.

What do you need? Absolutely nothing that cannot be supplied by God.

There are four powerfully dynamic Keys to Mastering Your Ministry. They will ensure success. Has anyone guessed what the keys are yet?

Know your gifts…God has equipped you!

Exercise your abilities…Action belongs to you!

Submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit…God supplies your needs!

Give the glory to Jesus…God is in charge of the outcome!

Talking about recognizing responsibility & giving you the four key to mastering YOUR ministry doesn’t really explain anything about ministry. The way I see it, ministry, all ministry requires three aspects. There is an Action, there is the Provision, and there is an Outcome…Action = what the ministry does…Provision = who pays for the ministry…Outcome = the results produced by the ministry. Who is Responsible for Which Aspect of Ministry?

By now, everyone should know I was a teacher for 19 years and once in a while I miss the classroom. The way I solved that problem is making this a mini-assignment. Here is the assignment: Who is responsible for which aspect of ministry?

Choose the answer that best completes the sentence. Three short sentences and a choice between one of two words to complete each sentence – easy! Right? As I read the statement you select an answer. We will make sure everyone has the correct answers at the end.

What we are talking about today is being “in ministry” so keep that in mind as you choose your answer. Notice Pastor, Board Member, or Sunday School Teacher are not options. It is between God and us (individually).

The action in ministry belongs to __________ (God or Us).
The provision in ministry belongs to _______ (God or Us).
The outcome in ministry belongs to _________ (God or Us).

Really give this some thought…action in ministry…provision in ministry…outcome in ministry…to whom do these things belong?

And The Answers Are

The action in ministry belongs to us. All other aspects of ministry belong to God. God is the one Who has promised to provide and He is the one responsible for the outcome or success of our ministry.

If you are here tonight and you get excited about The Great Commission can you just shout, “Go and make disciples”? We should all get excited about sharing our faith and making disciples. Part of that commission is going out and bringing people to Jesus.

Luke 14:16-20 & 23

Luke 14:16-17 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’

Continuing on

Luke 14:18-20 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’

And Finally

Luke 14:23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.

This passage teaches us that God has prepared a place for everyone and we are being sent to bring them to the Lord. Just a few minutes ago I just heard a bunch of people shout “Go Make Disciples”. Now we are going to re-examine Being on the Same Page and we will move from there to the closing phase of this message. What are we talking about again? Recognizing Responsibility Mastering YOUR Ministry.

As the body of Christ and as the Church, being on the same page does not mean that we all have to be doing the same things, or that we have to always do things the same way. We serve a wonderfully creative God and the ministries created can be as unique as the individuals God calls into His family. The only hard and fast rules are – Don’t change the revelation and don’t violate Scripture. The Apostle Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 9:19 & 23.

1 Corinthians 9:19 & 23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. ... I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (NASB)

The only thing that remains in this message is some personal Reflection, Evaluation, & Motivation.

Ask yourself these two questions. Understand I’m not asking you to share your discovery at this point. I’m challenging all of us to line our lives up with God’s Word. There is a ministry for you. God called you. He equips you, and provides for you. He is waiting for you to Master YOUR Ministry. Are you asleep and making excuses as the people in the passage from Luke were? Are you awake and actively making disciples be every means available as Paul was?

We always have a choice. We can be part of REM – Rapid Eye Movement – Our dream state, or we can choose to be part of REM – Revolutionary Evangelistic Ministries – Ministries created by you as you answer God’s many calls to discipleship.

So what were those Keys to Mastering Your Ministry?

Quickly and finally help me reread these Keys to Mastering YOUR Ministry out loud and together.

         Know your gifts…God has equipped YOU!
         Exercise your abilities…Action belongs to YOU!
         Submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit…God supplies YOUR needs.
         Give the glory to JESUS…God is in charge of the outcome!

Have you been challenged? Have you been uplifted? Has this message been motivating? Then “Go and make disciples”. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Character Really Matters

Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. (KJV)

Character Really Matters

            Nature vs. Nurture is an age old debate. Which has more influence on our behavior can exhaust even the greatest philosophers, sociologists, or psychologists. Anyone who stop to consider the choices we make can quickly sink into the quicksand of this debate, but is it our inherited nature or our learned behaviors that chart our course through life?

            Don’t worry I’m not writing a doctoral thesis! I’m not wise enough to definitively settle the issue. I’ve just been questioning why people, all people, get stuck in patterns of “negative” or more accurately SINFUL choices.

Jesus compared us to trees. Good trees and bad trees, both are judged by the fruit they produce.  The fruit is the product of our lives. On the surface, it sounds as if we are created either good or bad and have no choice in the direction toward righteousness or evil we travel. We speak and take actions based upon the abundance of our heart. Examine your heart today. Can we, who are accustomed to doing evil, choose to do justice, love mercy, and humble ourselves before God? (Matthew 7:17 & Micah 6:8)

We all sin and fall short of God’s glory. God has an expectation for us, and we disappoint Him. Jesus, in His temporal life, called that generation an evil generation. Humanity has not improved. The church in years past believed in the transforming POWER of God. We held to the conviction God was at work in us changing our sinful nature into the image of His Son. Today we spend more time offering our opinions and evaluating the individual “fit” potential converts bring to the congregation. (Matthew 12:30-35)

Character really matters. God is far more interested in our spiritual condition than our outward appearance. We cannot superimpose our expectations as to how God is building His Kingdom. We should allow Him to place the “living stones” into His house as He has planned. None of us came into the family of God by our own design. We will not be perfected this side of glory. Simply accept God at His Word. We will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52)

            Stop measuring people by what we think they can do for us, or how well liked they are and begin to see everyone as God sees them. Anyone, who has accepted Christ and is living in new life in Him is a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:16-18)

            If we return to Jeremiah’s question: Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then can you, who are accustomed to doing evil, learn to do good. The answer is: We cannot accomplish a transformation without God. Character really matters. God is daily changing us into the image of His Son. (Mark 10:26-28)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gifts to be Cherished

Psalm 127:3 Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. (NLT)

Gifts to be Cherished

            With Mother’s Day so recently behind us, both Memorial Day and Father’s Day rapidly approaching, not to mention the end of another school year, this should be a time of reflection upon the cherished gifts of life and children. God alone creates life and gives us the responsibility to care for and nurture it. Parents have the primary task of training their children.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (KJV)

            What a starkly contrasted reality we have today. The world seems to demand the hearts and minds of all children. This is not an attack on public education – there are good Christian teachers in many classrooms today. This is not a cry of despair against giving all children a “common core” set of knowledge (Mathematics, Language, History) – It is an urgent call for Christians to teach values EVERYWHERE we go.

Isaiah 8:11-12 This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people: 12 “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. (NIV)

            Set the record straight – Human life has irreplaceable value. We are all created in God’s image. We serve a Holy God, Who is eternal. Christ taught compassion, love, and mercy. He taught us to seek righteousness, peace and love.

Isaiah 8:13 Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble. (NLT)

            Teaching reverence for the things of God has historically ensured “the blessings of liberty, to ourselves and our posterity.” Yet, we now watch as those teachings are removed or marginalized from every arena of public thought. Children and life itself are gifts to be cherished. Without God there is no hope.

Isaiah 8:16-17 Preserve the teaching of God; entrust his instructions to those who follow me. 17 I will wait for the Lord, who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my hope in him. (NLT)

            Stop allowing the minds of our children to be stolen by false god’s and ironies philosophies. The LORD is God! Make the individual choice to serve Him.  

Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. (KJV)

            Do we want to experience signs and wonders? We must teach children all things are possible with God. It’s not biology – It’s FAITH. Children are the most precious gift we are given – Are we teaching them the most precious TRUTH? It’s not biology – It’s FAITH!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ireland – What are You Thinking?

1 Samuel 2:30 30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” (NIV)

Ireland – What are You Thinking?

            Christian heritage and history has shaped Ireland since 400 A.D. weather that influence has been Catholic or Protestant, makes no difference. The fact is God has been honored and the standard of His Word has been upheld. This morning it was reported on “America’s Morning News”, Ireland is taking a vote to nationally recognize same sex marriage. If this resolution is passed, Ireland will be completely departing from any form of godliness according to Scripture.

            As we watch global events we can recognize the fulfillment of God’s Word. His revelation of Himself is being ignored, and replaced with modern interpretations of pagan, hedonistic and narcissistic practices.

Romans 1:21, 22, 24, 28 & 32 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,…24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: … 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; …32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (KJV)

            People the world over are abandoning the FAITH. If we do not regain a sense of urgency, and a fresh out pouring of the Holy Spirit the Church will not survive. We spend more time fighting among ourselves over details pushed forward by denominational-ism, than we spend in presenting Christ as the SAVIOR of the World. We have stop “majoring on the minors.”

2 Timothy 3:2-4  For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. (NLT)

            We are as guilty as the world. We have become puffed up with knowledge, rather than being built up in His love.  Please do not mistake TRUTH for judgment. Will we overcome denominational-ism, re-establish relevance and experience regeneration? Yes – Only if we enter through the door of repentance.

            “Lift Jesus higher. Lift Jesus higher. Lift Him up for the world to see. He said, ‘If I be lifted up from the Earth, I will draw all men unto Me.’”

            How high are we lifting Jesus with the fruit of our lives? Individuals have the power to influence nations. Will we use our influence or accept the influence of the world? Christ said, “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” Can we agree to stand together on issues where Scripture is clear? Stop seeking our own pleasure and start seeking Righteousness!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Extra Piece

Standing away from the table, anyone would notice the puzzle was finally done. Looking at its finished form, anyone could see the landscape was complete. Off to the side, sitting all alone, the piece without a place — A piece without a home.

The puzzle did not need it, nor could it fit the piece in, because if the piece did find a place to fit, the completion would be undone.

The extra piece could not do anything to change its state, and others could not help. Where could it find a puzzle with Whom it had a place? No puzzles near or far away could find a place for it. There was no place for that piece to fit!

As this situation continued, the piece began to feel worthless. It felt that all was lost. And having nothing left to do, it sought the Puzzle Maker to offer His counsel.

"Oh, GREAT PUZZLE MAKER, please tell me what to do? There is no place for me to fit, no space that I can fill."

The extra piece was the only piece to hear the Puzzle Maker's answer because it was unique and belonged only to him.


         Being set apart to do something for the Lord is not always an easy task. Even though you are given the gifts necessary to accomplish the task, at times you may not understand fully what is going to happen. In the early years of my ministry I really thought I had it all together. Everything should have fallen into place. After all I was raised in the church, attended the “right” college and understood what I wanted out of life. I even followed the advice of older, wiser ministers and had a “fallback position” just incase ministry didn’t pay the bills. To my surprise, things did not go as planned. The Lord most often needs to bring us to a point of trusting Him completely before His plan is brought about in our lives. At least that is what has happened with me thus far. And, I believe that it is what happened in Joseph's life. (Genesis 37:5-9)

         Joseph had dreams, and he was sure he understood them. We should all be able to relate dreams and visions of what life will hold for us. But, I don't think we are ever made aware of all that transpires on the way to what God had planned. We like Joseph have no idea what is around the next bend. (Genesis 37:23 -27)

         These same types of injustice still happen to those who attempt to listen to the Lord. People laugh at you! They seem to do everything in their power to stop you from doing what you know is right, and at times they will try to get you to give up your vision to join them in accomplishing what God has called them to do. Isn't that in some way selling us into bondage? How often have we as Christians heard the goals of another and not really listened to them? Or, how many times have we attempted to share our dreams and visions with others only to have them misunderstand and mistreat us for believing God would consider working through us?

         We all know the outcome of the story of Joseph. Everything the Lord promised came to pass in his life. But, before that final outcome, he was accused of doing wrong, thrown into prison, and was kept there for about three years. In every situation, he did his best to be a blessing to those he came in contact with and he never doubted that the Lord understood everything. From what we are given in Scripture Joseph never suffered discouragement. I wish the same were true of me. The truth is when we are doing the wrong thing even though it is for the right reason, it feels as if we are in a prison. There are lesions we learn in those places that we cannot learn anywhere else, but that does not make the journey any more comfortable.

         I can't speak for you, but I must say, for myself, I need more of the assurance Joseph had. If that is true for you also, don't give up. God is still on the throne. Everything will work out according to His will, and He lovingly leads all who will follow Him into a life of righteousness. No one can understand all that we go through in life, and for several of our life events there seems to be no good reason or adequate explanation. Some things happen in our lives just to demonstrate how lost we are without God. We just need to distinguish between what should be forgotten, and what should be memorialized. (Isaiah 46:9-11)

         If you feel like an extra piece to God's puzzle, understand this: You are not alone. Simply ask Him for something you can do now. Begin taking steps of faith and rely completely upon Him for the outcome. Ministry is meeting individual needs in situations that refresh you, but they are most often not glamorous jobs. God will bring you out in His time. For help in finding where you fit into the ministry of your local church see your Pastor, Associate Pastor, Youth Director, or Christian Education Director. Talk to them about your calling and the gifts that God has given you. There is a place for everyone in the ministry of the church. Any good shepherd will understand his flock and allow them the freedom to experience the joy of ministry. Any good sheep will follow the direction of the shepherd and both will accomplish great things in God's service.

         The important elements in any ministry are trust, security, and open communication. All of those are mutually dependent activities. We must first trust to be trusted, offer security to be secure, and communicate freely to be communicated with freely. Whatever you do, and whomever you seek advice from, do not leave God out of the process of finding your place in His body! At times, He is the only One Who really understands and can direct you to your proper place. God will honor any commitment you make to serve Him, so don't let your past get in your way. None of us are as faithful to doing the Lord's will as we should be. I'm not sure this will be understood: But, don't be afraid to make mistakes as you walk by faith; God will stop you before you blow it completely. God is not calling the equipped. He is equipping those He calls. Recently I have been considering Matthew chapter 22. Jesus teaching by a parable compares the Kingdom of God to a wedding feast. In verse fourteen we find the very curious statement, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

         Have you ever wondered what makes the difference between “being called” and “being chosen?” Writing this, I am reminded of an evening service from my youth. The Pastor stood at the pulpit expounding on a “new revelation” he had received. Once he got to his point, I thought: “That isn't new. It is expressly stated in the text.” So, I can only hope this is not my moment of “new revelation” that is in actuality an “old truth”, but here is my answer to the previous question. The difference between “being called” and “being chosen” is in the timing. Correctly responding to “the call” with a sense of “Divine Timing” transforms you from “being called” and empowers you to act with the assurance of “being chosen!” Now is the right time for me to step out. Is God also speaking to you? We are not extra pieces. God has a place for each of us. If we will answer the call, we will see God working in amazing ways to meet needs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Beware of Greed

Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (KJV)

Beware of Greed – It will Kill your Witness!

The human appetite for comfort, wealth, and security can infect each of us with the slightest hint of success. The world we live in feeds on success at any cost. “It’s okay just don’t get caught!” is the driving philosophy today.  We see this clearly in every strata of our culture – From the games we play all the way through the highest levels of government – Has it also pierced the hearts of the church?

That question is not in any way suggesting Christians should live a life of poverty. Neither is it suggesting Christians should live in the lap of luxury. The gift of life we have been given is not defined, nor is it restrained by our net worth. If we are faithfully serving God, He will supply whatever we need. Christians are caretakers of the blessings we have been given. In the story of the unfaithful steward Jesus gives us strange instructions. Look at Luke chapter 16 verse 9.   

Luke 16:9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations…

            Can our Lord and Savior really be telling us, “Expect to fail and make sure you have plenty of corrupt friends to take care of you through eternity?” – WHAT that can’t be right!

            The story is about trust and integrity. God has given us a task, and all the tools as well as the resources to accomplish it. Continue reading verses 10 and 11.

Luke 16:10-11 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

            The TRUTH of God’s Word, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the transformation of souls, these are the true riches. God is the Only One able to in trust them to us. Our integrity, honesty, and faithfulness as we “the priesthood of all believers” care for what belongs to Him will secure His promises for us. Consider verse 12 from Luke 16.

Luke 16:12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? (KJV)

            None of us is immune to the influence of temptation. Satan is still looking for those he can devour. The devil delights in spoiling the testimonies of Christians. He will use whatever means is available to him.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (KJV)

            We can only protect ourselves by reflecting the nature of Christ. Finding brothers and sisters in Christ who will ask us the difficult questions of accountability and not accept trite, self-serving answers. We must not open ourselves up to false praise, or the vain philosophies of the world around us. We are complete in Christ – He is all we need.

Colossians 2:6-10 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (KJV)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Political End-Fighting Really?

John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (NIV)

Political End-Fighting Really?

            The prayer posted yesterday on my Facebook page may be an indication of the message God is currently fanning into a flame in my heart. Michele asked this morning on the way to work, “What particular political unrest had you revved up last night?”

            Answering her question sparked the thought: “There may be others with the same question.” Here for anyone interested is my answer. The world we live in is rapidly achieving critical mass. We will see politics explode into War, Famine, Death, and many Martyrs. These are the thing spoken of in Revelation, but we, the church, seem to be attempting to solve SPIRITUAL problems by POLITICAL means. Yes – Those who know me will, know I listen to Talk Radio – Yet, real eternal answers only come from scripture. The interpretation of His Word belongs to God. We seek His will and serve Him. His will is not revolution but restoration.

Colossians 4:5-6 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (KJV)

            The message that matters is the message of salvation. Love, Justice, Mercy and Grace will positively impact lives more completely than any political doctrine. Christ called us to make disciples in His name. That action requires SPIRITUAL WARFARE. Just as Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, neither is the war we fight won or lost physically. Get out of the political picket lines and onto the evangelistic hot lines.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (KJV)
            The world will follow the path God has laid out for it. The question before us is will the church? Too often we have spent more time collecting signatures on petitions than we have insuring people have an opportunity to get their names into “The Lamb’s Book of Life.” We are fighting an uphill battle, but we have powerful weapons to accomplish the task.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (KJV)

            Talk Radio, PACs, Republicans, Democrats, or Independents cannot stem the tide of darkness sweeping through the world. Christians can make a difference one life at a time. The evil wins if we remain distracted, fractured, and engaged in the sudden death round of political end-fighting. Pull down the enemy strongholds – Don’t rip each other to shreds!