Family

2 May

I’m not the first point out the family is more than just those who are blood related. Family is a very broad term.
I have seen people in my life is this song loyalty simply because you’re related. But when you’re not there for a person, never once appreciate the person, constantly been right the person, or ignore the person until you need something, then you can’t really call yourself family.

Don’t misunderstand. I have some outstanding family. I have amazing blood relatives. People who are preachers, teachers, Mayle of integrity, women of example.

I have an amazing mother, a great stepfather, two really good step brothers, incredible cousins, and amazing sister, and the list goes on and on. 

But I Also have other family members. Family who does not share any genetic make up with me. Family that is not related to me in any form or fashion. And yet, just like my genetic family, I could always count. In some cases, more so.

There are my friends from high school. They still keep up with me and I still keep up with them. I got that lesson from my great uncle Dwight. Someone’s foot up at his funeral and pointed out that the only reason they were all there it’s because he had not ever let them go. Some of these people he had not worked with in 20 or 30 years. But he made sure that he kept up with him and he made sure that he let them know he was available. As a result, they reciprocated. In only one case has that been misunderstood. A good friend of mine he refused my friendship after a time because she felt like I was being some type of stalker . That was never my intention. But if she no longer wants my friendship, it’s her loss. LOL

There is the best friend that I’ve had since the fifth grade. There is a small little youth group that I grew up with. They are steal my inner circle of friends. And I can pick up the phone at any time and pick up right where we left off. 

And then there are my college buddies. Most of the ones that I was close to went on to become ministers just like I did. That’s one reason that I love going to conventions. We run into each other. We keep up with each other. We pray for each other. These are godly men and women whom I’m glad are in my life.

There is my former church family. They make up at least two churches. I keep up with them and they keep up with me. Whenever I go back to college Baptist, big Spring, I get excited. I still love that Pastot and still call on him in times of need. Some of them have gone on to other towns and other churches. But I still keep up with them. Some of them have gone on to be with Jesus.

Even though the last youth ministry that I was a part of what’s in the church that no longer exist, I still keep up with a lot of those folks. I love them and I’m glad they were a part of my life.

 And then there is my present church family. I have been with them since my marriage. I had only been married six months when I became their pastor. Danna and I still service at church and we levels people. They have seen us through a horrid adoption experience. And they have let us cry on their shoulder during one of the worst times of our lives involving one of our children.  They have watched me grow and were patient with me. I remember a friend of mine telling me “you involve yourself too much in the lives of your people”. Well, it’s been a year since he told me that but I’m glad I did. Because they have returned the favor. We are truly family.

People use Facebook in a negative fashion. But for me, it’s awesome. I keep up with so many people who have had an impact in my life. People tell me “you don’t really have that many friends” I’m proud to say that I do. Not because of who I am because of who they are.

In short, I love my family. However they are connected, they are family. And I thank God for each and everyone of them.

WHY I LOVE TEACHERS

21 Apr

teachers

I’ve had two brief stints at teaching school. The first time I did not do well at all. I was very young, knew everything, didn’t need anyone’s direction, was determined to be the “cool” teacher… and fell flat on my face.  And I do mean badly.  I’m not sure I had a single student during that time that learned ANYTHING under me.  It wasn’t long after I quit teaching that this funny thing called maturity set into my psyche (although some even today would say that was never so).  I finally listened to my mother (one of the greatest schoolteachers EVER) who taught me a philosophy called “Don’t smile until Christmas.”  Basically, this means that you can’t start off soft. You have to make sure that each student knows you mean discipline when it comes to teaching. I vowed to myself that if I ever got the opportunity to teach again, I would remember that.  Several years later, under the same administrator, I got that chance. This time, I had a blast.  Later,that school would close but I have continued on as a substitute teacher for the school district in which I reside.  I give you this history to say one thing: after growing up with a teacher, surrounded by other relatives who were teachers, and having been a teacher and also married to a teacher, I have come to one conclusion about the teaching profession:

I LOVE TEACHERS!

Don’t get me wrong. I am called to Pastor. And I can’t imagine me doing anything else full time. But I do believe that teachers represent the most noble and honorable secular profession ever.  Let me give my reasons as to why I would make this statement.

  1. For them, it is not just a job. It is a calling. They don’t just think about their students during eight hours and forget them. I used to see my mother cry and stress over a student while at the dinner table. I have seen others do that as well. They want each student to succeed.
  2. They don’t do it for the paycheck. In fact, most of the time they are underpaid. They do it because they care. They want to make a difference.  That brings me to number three:
  3.  They make a difference. I can remember every teacher that made an impact on me. I have never forgotten their names. And it wasn’t just about education. They gave me life lessons… “Show me someone who likes to lose, and I will show you a loser.”…”Finish your race, fight the good fight, keep the faith”… They developed in me a love for literature, a passion for history, a desire to impact others.
  4. They have camraderie. They have each others backs. They form a bond and become like a little family. I have enjoyed some sweet friendships as a result of being a teacher. Friendships that last to the day. Oh, yes, there were a few exceptions. People who seemed to take an instant dislike to me or who just kept a wall up and refused to let anyone inside their circle. And there are those who treat substitutes like they had the plague. But trust me when I say those people are the minority. They are few and far between. When you make friends with a teacher, it’s the real deal.

In summary, thank you, my teacher friends for being some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. And thank you for STILL impacting my life… even at the ripe old age of 47!

What I’ve Learned (or relearned) from the last two years

18 Mar

IMG_2525

God has changed the tone of this blog.

Seriously.

I was thinking about events from the past two years and I had decided that I had to do something before I exploded.

I have had friends turn on me causing probably the most heartbreaking event of my life that still has me in knots.

I have had family members make judgment calls as to why it happened (based on the three weeks a year we see them).

Pastoring can be an interesting thing when it comes to relationships.  You can pour your life into someone, be there for them in their worst times, go to bat for them.. and all of a sudden, you make a mistake or there is a misunderstanding and they won’t even speak to you… you are persona non grata.

And it hurts.

So I was going to write a long blog. I was not going to name names but I was definitely going to go on the attack. I was going to spew venom and vile (like in some cases has happened to me). I was going to justify it because there was a need to “get things off my chest.”

But honestly, what good would it do? It would only serve to make some relationships worse. It would make angry people angrier. It would cause more gossip, more dissension, more heartache.

I believe that every bit of pain that I feel is legit.  But I also don’t believe we are meant to dwell on that.  We are not meant to worry.

Luke 12:25…And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?

Phillipians 4:6… Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And finally…

Ephesians 4:26..Be angry, and yet do not sin

If I let it sit and fester, I start forgetting who I am.  A minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One who is supposed to be concerned about the condition of a soul rather than the condition of my heart.  If I stir in my anger, I become self-focused. I find my prayers are all about me (and my family) and have nothing to do with the lost person down the road, the hurting couple, the suicidal child, the struggling senior adult. Suddenly, I’m delivering a speech on Sunday morning and not a sermon.

And then the problem becomes bigger than just being peeved at a few people (well, make that downright ticked!). It becomes disobedience to my calling. It becomes dishonoring of my Savior.

It becomes missed opportunities to be Jesus to others.

That is way more serious.

So I have to practice what I preach. You see, when someone comes to me with deep wounds, and even anger that I can understand, I tell them to practice what I call “habitual daily forgiveness.”

It’s simple. Just get up and say “I forgive______________________ today.  I cannot guarantee tomorrow but for the next 24 hours, I will not hold any bad feelings or dwell on the hurt that they inflicted on me.”

Then the next morning, get up and do the same thing.

Pretty soon, you find yourself developing a very worthwhile habit.

And before you know it, your focus is back where it needs to be.

On the one who said “Father, forgive them… love one another as I have loved you.”

And they don’t win.

But He does.

I’m wanting to cry, I’m falling apart

I can’t believe this has happened, you really hurt my heart.

My mouth wants to spew out venom and vile,

But I must curb it, remember all the while.

 

It’s really all about Him.

I will not give into the temptation of sin.

I won’t look at the hurt, I’ll look to my Lord

I’ll not stew in anger but I’ll stay in the Word.

 

I’ve replayed it in my mind, me chewing you out.

Clobbering you good with one fist to the snout

But if I were to give in, what good would it do?

I would dishonor my Savior by lashing out at you.

 

So, what do I do? When I’m feeling this way?

I practice forgiveness and lift my voice in praise.

Praise to the Father, the Spirit and Son.

Whom I will serve faithfully…both here and beyond.

 

(pic thrown in for humor)

 

 

 

 

 

SIX WATERPOTS FILLED WITH BLESSINGS

17 Mar

waterpot

John 2:1-12

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus *said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother *said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus *said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim.And He *said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter *called the bridegroom, 10 and *said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.

One day, Jesus, his mother, and his Apostles were all invited to a wedding. I imagine their reaction was typical of the way people get invited to weddings today. Jesus probably talked about what a fine man the groom was and Mary probably talked about how beautiful the bride would be.  And then of course, the Apostles looked forward to the wedding reception.

While there, they ate, drank, and celebrated with the young couple.  Suddenly, the wine gives out in the middle of the feast.  Mary turns to Jesus who turns to Master of Ceremonies.  Upon the instruction of Jesus, the MC leads the servants to bring out six waterpots filled with water. Again, at the instruction of Jesus, the Master of Ceremonies dips into the water and brings out the sweetest wine.

But you know what? Jesus always has that effect on everything.  He takes all of life and turns its bitterness into sweetness. He causes all things to work together for good to them that love Him. So, right now let us imagine that these six waterpots are before us. And let us put the experiences of life into them and see what Christ gives in return. \

1. WE PUT OUR SINS IN THE FIRST WATERPOT AND HE GIVES US SALVATION IN RETURN • He said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” He was simply saying, “Put all of your sins on Me and I’ll save you.”One of the reasons people have such a hard time accepting the free gift of salvation is just that. It’s free. People don’t believe that it’s as easy as asking. And to some degree it’s not. When you accept the salvation of Christ, you are literally saying you will submit to His Lordship. But there are no steps to take.  All you have to do is ask and you will receive.

2. WE PUT OUR PRAYERS IN THE SECOND WATERPOT AND HE GIVES US THE ANSWERS • Oh, how sweet is the privilege of prayer! Over and over God says, “Call on Me, call on Me.”  Yet it is the most untapped resource ever!  So often it’s a last resort and “I’ll pray for you is a catchphrase.”  But when we truly go to Jesus in prayer, it’s amazing what can happen.

3. WE PUT OUR PROBLEMS IN THE THIRD WATERPOT AND HE GIVES US GUIDANCE • We are living in a complex age. There are many problems facing us today. Life is not a simple thing anymore. We need a wisdom far beyond our own. Well, God has the wisdom and is ready to share it with us. • James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

4. WE PUT OUR SORROWS INTO THE FORTH WATERPOT AND RECEIVE COMFORT • Yes, life is filled with sorrow and trouble. But listen  to Psalm 55:22 – Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. ]

5. WE PUT OUR NEEDS IN THE FIFTH WATERPOT AND HE GIVES US HIS SUPPLY • Phil. 4:19 – And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

We have many needs, but God has everything and is ready to supply our needs.

6. WE PUT OUR FUTURE INTO THE SIXTH WATERPOT AND HE GIVES US HEAVEN • In Christ we have a hope. We can trust Him for all future and He will give us heaven. • Heaven will be wonderful, not only because of the things that will be there, but because of the things that won’t be there.

And the truth is that God’s blessings are unlimited. I have only named six of them. But you can put any trouble or concern in one of those waterpots and draw out God’s blessings in return.

Just give it a try!

 

 

TELL THEM!

10 Mar

tell them

Acts 1:8..

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

I want to share something that has been bothering me lately.  I have discovered over the last couple of years a very alarming trend… as a matter of fact, two alarming trends…. one is that people don’t seem to care enough about their lost friends and family to make a difference… two is that those who do witness seem to only doing it for the purpose of getting people to Heaven.

In truth, when one looks at the church it would appear that our philosophy is that the Lord saved us strictly to get us to heaven. We seem to get excited and shout and rejoice about going to heaven; we spend more time thinking about heaven than we do thinking about earth.

It’s the same thing that happens here in this text—the event of the story—it’s post-resurrection—Jesus has been around for some 40 days or so. And now He’s getting ready to go back up into heaven. And the word of the Lord declares that—as He goes up—the men that He had been talking to were gazing into heaven. They were gazing; they were caught looking up into heaven.

One of the things that is wrong with the church of the Living God is that every since that day that that is what we’ve been perfecting—GAZING into heaven, waiting to go and be with Jesus.

And every since that day of the ascension of our Lord all we’ve been concentrating upon is GAZING instead of GOING.

– All we appear to concentrate upon is getting caught up into Heaven… being with the Lord…in our mansion…in the streets that are paved with gold.

But the problem is that we are so enamored and caught in gazing at Heaven that we are not paying attention to the hell being raised on earth.

I believe that one of the reasons that the country is going to hell in a hand-basket is because the church is too busy GAZING.

The reason the drugs are easier and easier to get is because the church is too busy gazing.

The reason young girls are getting pregnant at ages earlier than ever is because the church is so busy gazing.

We come to church, sing and shout, and declare that we are on our way to heaven—but then we walk by people who are homeless; we walk by persons who can’t find jobs; we walk past teenagers who are getting high on the corner—because we are so busy gazing that we are not going.

He has not called us to be gazers; He has called us to be witnesses.
He has not called for us solely to shout about going to Heaven; He has called for us to talk about going into the world and telling everybody that there is a Savior Who can save you from your sins.

You and I are not called to GAZE, we are called to TESTIFY.

To testify means to show, to confirm, to live out, to bear out, the demonstrate, to exemplify and to give evidence. It means to give confirmation, outer affirmation, and verifiable proof and logical support.

It’s about your life AND your lips.

It’s about your words AND your works.

It’s about your worship AND your witness.

David put it this way: The redeemed of the Lord ought to ‘say so’. The words, ‘say so’ in the Hebrew tongue is aw’mar which meant to tell, make known, make public, to advertise, to publish, to broadcast, and to GET IT OUT.

The problem is that MOST within the body of Christ are so enamored and narcissistic, laissez-faire and caught up in themselves and their comfort and convenience—that we don’t GET IT OUT.

We want to be CHURCH-GOERS and not WITNESSES.

The very idea of witness stems from the word ‘Martur’as’ (where we get our word martyr).

It means we have to come as a servant, not a celebrity

It means we have to come saying, ‘Just as I am’.
It means we’re traveling to the cross EXPECTING to bleed.

It means we live on the altar and NOT on the throne.

It means we live as an army and not as if we are the audience.

It means that our chief aim, purpose and desire is the PLEASE HE Who is our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Because that is what it means to be a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.

And I just came by to let you know that:
He didn’t just call you to be a Baptist, He called you to be a witness.

He didn’t just call you to be a preacher, He called you to a witness.

He didn’t call you to be a gossiper/slanderer, He called you to be a witness.

He didn’t call you to only holiness, He called you to be a witness.

And He said, “I’m giving you power so that you can be a WITNESS to those around you.”

It is very interesting that when they started to talk to Him after His resurrection, they only had one question for Him…

“WHEN are you going to restore the kingdom?”

In their Judaic mindset the Kingdom was about political position. Jesus says to them, ‘Your problem is that you are more worried about POSITION than you are about POWER.’
Because you can have POSITION and not have POWER.
But when you have POWER God can move you to a place where you don’t need POSITION.

Deliver me from people who desire the position but aren’t in line and in tune with the character and ways of God—to where they possess the POWER.

After all:

Anybody can shout in the spotlight

Anybody can smile when your name is on the program

Anybody can rejoice when everybody knows it was you

Anybody can celebrate when you have a following crowd and a bank account that’s full and complete

But character is developed

When you can rejoice in the back of the line

– When you can smile when you KNOW you made the contribution and you were deliberately overlooked and ignored—but you showed up anyway.

Deliver me from sensitive, self-centered, boujisitc believers who want the position but no power.

Real power is more than just the casual fling I have with God during the week; but real power is when I’ve been in the WORD to the extent that the WORD is IN ME!!!

Real power is more than telling somebody where you go to church; but real power is the outpouring and the overflow of joy unspeakable that lets others in your proximity smell the aroma of your relationship with the the Most High God—that it causes you to celebrate, rejoice and testify about how good the Lord has been to YOU!!!

I’m talking about real power. Because when you have power others around you can keep the position.

Because when you walk in the ways of God, He’ll give you
– Power to walk/talk right
– Power to live/love right

And that should be your testimony: I don’t have the position but I do have the power.

He says in verse 8, “I’m giving you power to BE a witness”.

Now let me tell you very quickly:

You cannot be a witness and be a HATER.

You cannot be a witness and be a GOSSIP

You cannot be a witness and be JEALOUS/Envious/Hateful/Liar/Deciever

Because if you are called to be a witness but don’t ACT LIKE a witness, you don’t have the character OF a witness. And when you don’t have the character OF a witness, you will force Jesus to treat you like a hostile witness. And the one thing that I don’t want is for Jesus to treat me like a hostile witness.

 

Don’t make Jesus treat you like a hostile witness simply because you’ve decided to resist your testimony and deny your witness with your character and your spirit and your bitter ways of contempt, envy, hatred and jealousy.

A witness is somebody who has been called to testify because they have evidence of a truth they didn’t learn by somebody telling them; but they learned by experience.

When you surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, you were called, commissioned and deputized to be a witness.

 

Because you can’t be a witness until you have something to witness about.

My hearts desire is to be a witness for Jesus Christ.

Because I’ve got tangible, verifiable, undeniable evidence that He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly….

So I want you to raise your right hand….do you promise to tell the truth….so help you God.

Will you say, I DO!

– Do you promise to tell how He healed you?
– Do you promise to tell how He paid your bills?
– Do you promise to tell how He dried your tears?
– Do you promise to tell how He fought your battles?/how He opened doors for you?/how He made your enemies your footstool?

Because this is our time to be a witness.

You’re going to be so blessed before this year is out that the Devil is going to be scared to cross-examine you!

Cross Examination is defined as, and I quote: a close questioning of a hostile witness in a court of law to discredit or throw a new light on the testimony already provided in direct examination

But there is only one way to be a witness.

Verse 8 says, ‘but you shall receive power WHEN the Holy Spirit has come upon you’. The inference is that you don’t get power until you get the Holy Spirit

‘You shall RECEIVE power’…which means that the power that you get, you can’t earn it/doesn’t matter how much you come to church/how many crosses that you wear—the reception of the Holy Spirit is a gift from God for you to have power.

And it doesn’t say to make you shout, make you speak in tongues, didn’t come to make you run…to make you fall out at the altar—but the Holy Spirit came to give you POWER to be a witness to the glory and honor of the Kingdom of God.

…when the Holy Spirit COMES upon you…

Greek, ‘come upon you’, is the same word that Gabriel used when he talked to Mary. That the Holy Ghost is going to IMPREGNATE you with POWER—which means that the Holy Spirit can’t be taught to you to the extent that somebody is going to take you to a back room and you got the power. ‘Come upon you’ means that you place yourself in a subservient position to submit to the impregnation of the Holy Ghost to make you pregnant with power to give birth to a witness that you could not do without the power coming upon you.

It is NOT a filling or baptism, as we call it.

You had to be filled to confess.

This ‘coming upon you’ is a visitation to effectively give you power to WORK in the kingdom. I’m already filled with the Spirit when I’m feeding on the Word, coming to Bible study…doing my part. But sometimes, I need a visitation.

Is there anybody here who can declare: preacher I know I’m filled…but…
when somebody gets on my last nerve—I need a visitation

when I start having thoughts of suicide—I need a visitation

when I feel like giving up—I need a visitation

He says, ‘you’re going to get power to do some stuff in the earth’. You’re going to get power when the Holy Ghost comes upon you/when the Holy Ghost visits you. And you will be my witness in Jerusalem.

He said that the reason that you are going to need power beyond YOUR power is because the first place that you’re going to need to change stuff are in the areas closest TO you.
•And it’s hard to change what’s close to you.
HE says that the first place you’ve got to change is HOME space.

He says I’m not just talking about your zip code and your address…I’m talking about people in your family who don’t know Jesus or are away from Jesus.

HE said I need to give you power to change some stuff with the people you’re hanging out with.

Because I’ve come by to let somebody know that some of you can’t get free because some of the people that you’re hanging out with don’t mean YOU any good; don’t mean the Kingdom any good; so He put you there to WITNESS and not to partner with their trifling mess.

He said you’ll be witness in your home, but then also Judea. Those are people that you’re familiar with but aren’t necessarily family with.

You need power to keep your witness at your job.

You need power to keep your witness around church folk who act more hellified than saved.

You need to keep the power to be a witness in areas you’re not familiar with; but then you’re going to need power—because He says I’m going to take you to ENEMY TERRITORY (Samaria), and I’m going to give you power over enemies who tried to shut you up but couldn’t do anything to back you up.

How many of you have some enemies that keep trying to shut you up, but you keep on smiling, rejoicing, praying for them—that’s because you have the POWER of the Holy Ghost. And how many of you can witness, that the more your enemy tries to shut you up and tear you down—the more POWER that Jesus gives you?

Because He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies.
And I need somebody here today who knows how to go to enemy territory with a smile on your face and declare you are more than a conqueror—because you’ve got POWER!!!

Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria

The order that Jesus speaks them is the order to which they do them in the book.

Jerusalem is chapters 1 through 7. Seven is the number of completion. Jesus said that the first thing I’ve been trying to do is keep you in some areas where you are until I COMPLETE you some of the stuff I want to complete; I was not going to let you go to the next location until you have completed your job where you were.

God says I’ve got some stuff for you to do on the job where you are; which is why you keep praying for deliverance but I haven’t moved you yet I’m not letting you out of that marriage/relationship/situation—until I complete something.

But then Judea and Samaria are chapters 8 through 12.

“In the uttermost parts of the earth”. Why did you say this Jesus?

Because I’ve got places that I am taking them that are too numerable to be numbered.

I’m going to send them into places that my Name has ever been heard. Some will go there physically, some will go there by supporting others.  But all, if they are obedient, will take my Word into the uttermost parts of the earth.

The uttermost parts of the earth are chapters 13 through 28.

GOD HAS MORE FOR YOU THAN WHAT YOU HAVE ALREADY HAD BEHIND YOU!

– There’s more left to get than there is left to receive
– God’s got more before you than what you’ve had behind you
– Your dreams are greater than your memories
– Your future is brighter than your past.

But do not misunderstand me… I am not preaching a health/wealth Gospel. The blessings that I am talking about have to do with being obedient to Him.  When we are obedient to God and seek Him in all things, our perspective on what is “success” changes… we feel more blessed down in the dirt leading others to Jesus than we do at the Ritz Carlton watching our favorite TV show.  We learn as Paul did “in whatever state we are, therewith to be content”

But those types of blessings come through obedience. And the power to obey comes through the Holy Spirit.

Because we’ve got POWER to be blessed/walk/witness/save/heal….

Is there anybody in here who knows that you’ve got the evidence that…
He IS the Christ/nissi(banner)/rophe(healer)/shalom(peace)/
tsidkenu(righteousness)

I’M A WITNESS THAT HE IS ABLE TO DO EXCEEDINGLY, ABUNDANTLY ABOVE ALL I ASK/THINK

Go be a witness!

Because since I met Jesus what a change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart; floods of joy oh my soul…let the sea billows roll.

SERVING

9 Mar

lords supper

John 13:1-17:

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, *got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.

Then He *poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?”Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus *said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

A reporter  wrote about the time when she was at Union Station in Washington D. C. on a particularly busy day. The first thing she remembers about that experience was the noisy hubbub of sounds.

The public address announcer was calling out arrivals and departures.

Scores of pagers, walkie-talkies, and cell phones were crying out for someone’s attention.

You could hear horns honking, machines clinking out change, and babies crying.

A security guard was yelling at a man who was about to enter a forbidden area.

Three women stood up from their bench in order to argue with each other more loudly.

And a man in front of her was nervously pacing in a tight circle.

But then she heard someone singing.

“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear;
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.”

Slowly a change came over the noisy crowd. The voice continued:

“O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.”

The quarreling women stopped their talking and quietly took their seats. People who’d been tense and hurried; seemed to slow and relax – and they strained to hear the voice singing the remaining verses of that old hymn.

The reporter realized she was singing along. So were the three women who had been bickering. And few others as well.

The man in front of her, who had been behaving nervously quietly said: “Nice, huh? I don’t even believe in Jesus, but that’s nice.”

Music has a way of changing our lives.
When we share it, it can affect the lives of people around us.

But now, iPods aren’t designed to allow you to share your music. Now, don’t get me wrong. An iPod is a marvelous music machine capable of holding your entire musical library. It’s capable of holding hundreds of albums of music, thousands of songs and all in a small little box you can put in your shirt pocket.

But there’s no speakers on these things.

Granted, you can buy an adaptor to play the music through your car sound system. OR you can pay $100 or more for a unit that will hold your iPod and play music on external speakers. But for the most part, iPods are PERSONAL music machines.

They’re designed for your PERSONAL enjoyment… not for that of others. As a result, folks who use iPods have a tendency to shut other people out.
It’s THEIR iPod… THEIR music.
And when they’re listening to THEIR music thru those tiny earphones called ear buds they often spend that time shut off from others, in their own little world.

Now, if you owned an iPod and you wanted to share your music with someone you could share your earbuds with them, or two or more people could plug their earbuds into one iPod.
Of course, this kind of practice (as you might imagine) isn’t for casual strangers or people you meet on the street. You gotta really like somebody to do this. It has to be somebody you REALLY WANT to share with.

Our Text this morning tells us about 12 men who aren’t into sharing.
These are the Apostles.
They’ve been with Christ for about three years now. And they know the end is coming. They’re gathered in an upper room to eat the Passover meal with their teacher but they don’t realize yet this is the “Last” Supper.

For three years they’ve lived together, ate together and learned together at the feet of Jesus. But a conversation comes up that tells us these guys haven’t understood one of the main things Jesus wants them to understand. In fact, according to Matthew and Mark, they’ve had this conversation before.

The conversation always started with the disciples arguing over which of them would be greatest in the coming Kingdom.

Jesus’ answer was always the same… Matthew 20 gives us one of the times he answered that question.
YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! My Kingdom is going to be different than the kingdoms of this world. In My Kingdom – My church – the greatest will be the one who is the best servant.
(“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28)

In other words – if you want great in the Kingdom of God, you’ve got be a servant. You’ve got to learn how to share your life with others.

Now, remember, this scene in Luke 22  is describing the Last Supper where Jesus… “took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”. Luke 22:19-20

Eventually the meal is finished. They’ve taken of the bread and cup… and then Jesus leaves the room.
When He comes back into the room what’s Jesus carrying?
He come back in with a towel wrapped around his waist… carrying a basin of water and He proceeds to wash their feet.

Now, why’s He doing this?
Well… in that day, most roads were dirt and as people walked from one place to another, their feet got dirty. As a result, if you entered a person’s home for business or for a personal visit it was customary for you to wash your feet before entering… or (if the family was wealthy enough), for a servant of that family to wash your feet.
BUT the master of the house NEVER washed feet. That was demeaning. That was work that only a servant would do.

That’s why, in John 13 we’re told that Peter got so upset when he saw Jesus washing their feet. He tells Jesus: “No… you shall never wash my feet.” John 13:8
Jesus was their teacher – their master – He shouldn’t disgrace Himself this way.

But of course… that was exactly the point.
After He washed all their feet, Jesus said:
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14

We tend to think of the Lord’s Supper as being a personal thing. Kind of like people who have their iPods… it’s a personal experience. And we tend to think of communion that way–something just between us and God.

Now, I don’t want to take away from that… but that’s not entirely true. In Acts 20:7 we’re told “On the first day of the week (the church) came together to break bread.”

You CAN take communion all by yourself but Jesus designed communion to be a time when we would “come together” and eat this meal along with other Christian brothers and sisters.
It’s meant to be more than a religious ceremony.
It’s meant to be a reminder that Jesus “made himself nothing” and took on the very nature of a servant and died to save us .

 …but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

He gave us an example of how we should become servants of one another. Every time we take of the loaf and the cup – that’s one of the things we should remember.

Servanthood lies at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian. In Ephesians chapters 5 and 6 Paul drives that home to us. Ephesians 5:21 tells we need to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Throughout the rest of the Ephesian letter, Paul tells us what it means to submit:
• Wives need to submit to their husbands by respecting them and honoring them.
• Husbands need to submit to their wives by loving them and giving to them and being willing to die for them.
• Children need to submit to their parents by obeying them in the Lord.
• Father’s need to submit to their children by not “exasperating” them, but instead training them up in God’s way.
• Employees (slaves) need to obey their bosses (masters) as if obeying Jesus Himself.
• And Employers (masters) must treat their employees (slaves) well – remembering that he and they both share the same master.

Servanthood lies at the heart of who we are as Christians. And communion reinforces this for us.

The early church took part in that lesson every week when they took the Lord’s Supper. And when they did that right – it was a beautiful thing.
But now, there was a church, at a city named Corinth, that didn’t do it right. In fact, they messed up the Lord’s Supper so much that Paul writes and says
“In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good”  I Corinthians 11:17

What were they doing wrong?

I Corinthians 11 tells us.

“When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk.
Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” (I Corinthians 11:23-30)

What was the problem?
Well, in the church at Corinth they’d eat a potluck meal before they took of communion. But there was a twist to their pot-lucks. If you came to church and didn’t have a pot… you were out of luck. The rich would bring their steak… and the poor brought their beanies and weenies… and nobody shared with anyone else.

And then they took communion.
Or at least – they thought they did.
Do you remember what Paul tells them?
“it’s not the Lord’s Supper you eat.”

Their communion time had become a time of ritual.
It was a PERSONAL thing between themselves and God… and they didn’t need anyone else. They didn’t want to be a servant of anybody. They didn’t want to share their food (or much of anything else) with others within church.

The Lord’s Supper is more than just a personal thing.
It’s a time when we gather with Christian brothers and sister and eat together with Jesus.
It’s a time when we’re reminded that Jesus gave us a powerful example of servanthood.
And when we learn that, it makes all the difference in our faith.

A few years ago, I read an article by a woman named Esther who told this story:
“My brother and 5 sisters and I had had our differences growing up. They festered into deep resentments in the years after we left home. I didn’t realize how deep until Mother died.
After the funeral our grievances boiled over.
• George was upset that Mom had left Mary the antique black walnut bedroom set – “It’s worth a lot and Mary already has more than the rest of us together.”
• I got the flatware.
• Evelyn would inherit the house because she had lived with Mother.
• Becky and Betty some china and Mary the piano, which she’d bought for Mom.
• But Dorothy, Mom’s primary caregiver, resented that some of us were absent during Mom’s final days.

It was 5 years before we all got together again. The night before, Dorothy said, “If we can get through tomorrow without any major explosions, it will be a miracle.”
At first things felt awkward as we all struggled to behave. But by dinnertime it was better. We laughed as we told stories about our childhood. The memories were so sweet, but there was something missing.
Afterward, I took out a loaf of bread, and said “Since we’ve all been apart so long and since my husband is a preacher, I thought we might share communion.”
Everyone agreed. We read Scripture and prayed.

Her husband said the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” He broke the bread and gave it to us. Unbelievably, grievances and hurt dissolved. “We hugged,” she said “and became a family again, together in God’s grace, our missing ingredient.

You see, Jesus designed communion to be a time where we would think about each other. It would be a time when we’d examine our attitudes towards one another. And when we finally get communion right… it’s a time when we learn to love each other so much that we really want to be servants of one another.

LET’S GROW

6 Mar

diet

 

I Peter 2:1-2…
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation
I have a confession to make… and I’m glad my CG trainers don’t read my blog. But the truth is they probably know this anyway… I love junk food… I mean, I adore it! And you can probably tell. Ice cream, chips, Reeses… yeah, I love that stuff.
But let’s face it… Just because I like it doesn’t mean it’s good for me. In fact, it’s not. It doesn’t do a thing for me healthwise. In fact, and here is another confession I hope my trainers don’t read… it actually sets me back on whatever progress I’m making.
For a child, it’s even worse. Doctors will often say that if junk food is the most steady part of a child’s diet, it will impede their growth. It is important that they have a steady healthy diet of milk, bread, meat, and vegetables.

Did you know that a Christian must have a spiritual diet? You can find it in the text I put at the top of the page.. I like Peter. Peter is quite often pictured on the pages of scripture eating, or sitting at the table. Here, in chapter 2, he is not referring the material food, but the spiritual food by which a Christian may grow up in his spiritual life.
There are many believers today who are very weak in their spiritual life. They have no power to stand up for Christ, they have no power to go and accomplish their mission, no nerve, no joy, nor energy. Maybe you are that kind of Christian. You’re not growing. And in order to grow, you have to adjust your spiritual diet.

There Is no human being that has never tasted God’s kindness. His kindness is seen in his creation, in his carel, in his protection, in his provision, and everything that surrounds us.

There is no person who claims a relationship with Jesus Christ that never tasted God’s kindness and love revealed to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
So this message is for you. Either because you have tasted the kindness of God. And secondly, because you need to grow. Verse 2 tells us that this diet is for growth.

Peter wrote this passage so that its receivers may know that Christians are supposed to grow through spiritual diet.

The Christian is supposed to grow through a spiritual diet.

What are the specific characteristics of the spiritual diet?

Our text reveals two basic characteristics .

First of all, the spiritual diet excludes worldly food.

If I want to get in better shape, I have to avoid certain foods. For a while, they had us doing a program called CG Fit… It had foods I could eat. But it also had foods I could not eat. (And yes, some of those foods are foods I really enjoy.
But to truly be healthy I have to exclude them.. and anyone who is ever around me knows that it doesn’t often happen like it should.
In the same way, if you want to grow spiritually, you have to exclude from your spiritual diet all unhealthy worldly, sinful food.
The apostle presents five specific sins that Christian must eliminate from his life. Very interesting, the bible refers to these sins by the means of food.

1. The wickedness, the anger that boils deep in the heart. 1 Corinthians 5:8 tells us that there is a leaven of wickedness; a Christian should not celebrate the feast with this sinful food. I think all of us at some point or another deal with anger. I know with me, I am still struggling with it. I have a lot of anger over something that was done to my family in recent months. I will forgive but often times, I want to feast and fester in that anger and so I pick it back up again from time to time. I have to learn to throw it away.
2. The guile, literally the bit of food which fisherman put in his hook to catch fish; and means to catch others. For example, I give you a Christmas gift so that you may give me a Christmas gift.
3. Hypocrisy. Preaching or saying one thing and doing another.

4. The envy, the jealousy, the resentment, the rivalry; Proverbs 23:6 tells us , “Do not eat the bread of a selfish, or jealous man.”

5. The slander, which is literally, backbiting. When someone is telling you something about your neighbor, “The words of the slanderer are like morsels.” Proverbs 18:8. I cannot get away from the truth of that scripture. Why do we like watching scandals unfold on television. Someone mentioned this to me last week… we hate the liberalism and slanting of the news media. But you know why they keep doing it.. because we keep watching it! We love to hear this garbage.

This is a bad food, you better stay away from it, it hinders your growth.
Christian diet requires discipline, to be willing to put aside all evil habits, all wrong feelings, all sinful acts. Probably you see deep in your heart anger, or hypocrisy, or jealousy. You cannot grow “in respect to salvation” unless you put them aside, unless you throw them out of your life. Confess and forsake them and ask to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Next time when Satan comes with similar stuff, reject him. Your growth depends on what you receive in your heart.
The main ingredient of a spiritual diet should be the Word of God.
Look again in verse 2: “Long for the pure milk of the word.”
If a Christian is to grow, then he must grow with the word of God. This is the right food for the soul. There are several things to be mentioned here:

1. A Christian is supposed to absorb the word of God. Not novels, nor books, not even devotional books, nor videotapes, not T.V or radio, not Christian movies. Now do not hear me putting those things down. I have enjoyed writers like Tim Dekker, Jerry Jenkins, Frank Peretti. I love a good Christian movie. I am always reading something that another preacher wrote. But for some, that’s all the spiritual nourishment they get. And it’s just not enough.
I don’t know about you but when it comes to real food, I hate imitation anything.
Some of you will remember that my wife and I had a teenager living with us when we first got married (she’s now 30 which makes me feel really old). Danna took her to Little Rock to spend time with her parents. It was there that she tried mashed potatoes for the first time. Oh she had eaten the “potato flakes” before. But these were the real stuff. She was amazed!
These books, these movies, are great. We show some of those movies at church from time to time. But nothing beats the pure word of God.

2. The Christian is supposed to long for the word just as a new born baby longs for milk. Not weekly but daily.

3. The word of God must be absorbed unaltered, not milk and sugar, not milk and honey, but pure milk. Many Christians alter the true meaning of the Bible by adding sweet human doctrines so that they might accord with their desires and make them feel better.

4. The word is profitable to grow in respect to salvation. We are supposed to grow after being saved, not to remain baby Christians, but to grow.
Do you remember the time when your children were babies? How eager they were to have milk? Destiny called it “juice” and whenever she was thirsty, she would call out “Juice! Juice!” Many times, it wasn’t juice she wanted. It was milk. And we didn’t mind giving it to her. It was good for her growth.

In the same manner, the Word of God is good for Christian growth. We need to take it regularly, systematically, and abundantly. The basic ingredient of Christian diet is the Word of God.

Let me ask you today: Are you hungry for the Word of God? Do you enjoy reading, memorizing, studying, meditating on the word of God. Is the word of God the greatest pleasure you have? Is it more precious than Gold to you? Your spiritual well being depends on your daily feeding with the word of God.

My Granddaddy Frank was not the most educated man I knew. But he was a believer. And he loved studying the Bible. That man could quote chapter and verse better than most people. Why? Because he continuously fed himself with spiritual food from the Word of God.
Many of you are reading this and are saying, as you have said to me before… “But I just don’t know if I can do this… it’s hard for me to read what I don’t understand. But Peter is not coming at this from a negative perspective. He is saying “you can”.

Our problem is often that we don’t take time to know God. We lack discipline, and we find books, TV, or the internet more interesting than the Word of God. I challenge you today to a new life, to grow up in Christ.
If you have tasted the “kindness of the lord”, then this message is for you. Put aside your sinful actions and reactions and take the word of God as your spiritual food, and you will grow.

And for those of you, who didn’t taste yet the kindness of God, let me challenge you today to look at the cross. In the person, in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have the most extraordinary revelation of God’s kindness. Put your trust In Jesus. Ask forgiveness for your sins, and begin today a new life with him.