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Monday, June 30, 2008

FGMBC Testimony

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Thank God our church website is final operating at It's been a long time coming and I think, I'm real excited because this is a new innovative way to introduce unsaved people to Christ and uncommitted believers to our church. I built it myself with pre-designed templates and with no knowledge of website building designed. Thank God for His creative ability passed on to me to learn and complete the task. Please review the site and your comments will be greatly appreciated.

Yesterday was a good day for our church. While no one came to give there life to Christ I was encouraged by those who visited our church (which has not happened in a long time). There is one older gentlemen, who makes it his business to visit us at least 3 times in the month but fell off the scene for moment. But according to him, he would attend more regularly if it were not for his sick wife whom he's caring for. He expresses every time he attends how enjoys our worship service and more specifically, his own words, "Your preaching is so simple for a person who can't read or write." I thank God for his encouraging words. I try my best each week to be simple yet impactful without stripping the text from it's meaning. Sometimes, I wander after preaching my heart out each week if people really pay attention. And then one of my deacons, who I think doesn't pay much attention, started to re-preach one of my sermons I did a year ago that helped him through some of his challenges last week. Wow, God knows what you need when you need it!

I rambling here because I've been so encouraged this weekend by members and friends to hang in there.

This year, 2008, is the year of new beginnings so we say. However, for our church it is a year of transition (complete over-haul) and new beginnings don't come without some pain along the way. We're a small church with many challenges ahead of us. We have big dreams with limited resources. We have building repair necessities that extend far beyond what we could have ever imagined. Yet, I believe there's nothing too hard for God.

The month of June has been Sunday morning prayer meeting for us each week. The enemy has been attacking us in so many ways that the only way to fight a spiritual warfare is with a spiritual weapon, prayer. This time of prayer has been so enriching spiritually for my personally and for the entire church. Yesterday, our WE Ministries (Women Empowered Ministries) had their service of which I did nothing to plan for. I let the women of our church do the planning of the service. So my wife Tracy, dedicated the service to a time of special prayer. Thank God for given her the wisdom to cover the service and those in attendance with believing prayer. Everyone in attendance left encouraged. Praise God!

I got away from our series on the F-I-R-S-T Essentials of FGMBC (worship, ministy, fellowship, discipleship, and evangelism) this month to preach on prayer. But this coming Sunday, God willing, I'm going to resume the series with worship, evangelism, and discipleship. Please pray that God gives me the discipline I need to complete the work, especially with this being the 4th of July weekend.

Have a safe holiday!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Distorting Biblical Truth

I subscribe to "The Pastor's Weekly Briefing Newsletter" from Focus on The Family from Dr. HB London Jr whose becoming one of favorite writers and a mentor. This weeks newsletter is disturbing. There is a growing trend in America that is now saying that Jesus Christ is not the only way to eternal life. The newsletter reveals this growing false teaching in a percentage factor that 95% of Americans believe in God and 74% of Americans believe in life after death. However, growing belief is that many evangelical Christians do not believe that their religion (Christianity) is the only way.

The newsletter points to the pulpit as the primary reason for this growing false belief. Unfortunately, I have to agree. Our modern day preaching does not preach in absolutes. Instead, the pulpit has become a place of entertainment and lies that provide false hope to a dying world. Health, wealth, and prosperity is on the menu each week. Debate about gay marriage, abortion, women in minstry, and so many more has divided the church. However, there is one essential truth I believe should not be up for debate nor discussion, SALVATION. There should not be a disconnect between the pulpit and the pew as to "the only way to eternal life through Jesus Christ". Here's why:

  • The Declaration: Jesus says; "He's the only way." - In John 14:6, Jesus declares; I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me". I John 10:9 Jesus says; "I am the door, by me if any man enter in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture". It is very clear that Jesus, Himself, declares He's the only way! How can we preach/teach anything other than what Jesus is already declaring in Scripture. To say anything other than what He's already saying is making Him out be a liar. And if Jesus is lying about being the only way than we're all in big trouble. As we stand to preach/teach, we should declare the same absolute that Jesus does in Scripture, He is the only Way!

  • The Display: Finish Work of Calvary: If there was any other way to eternal life there would have been no need for Christ to die on the cross for our sins.One of may favorite passages of scripture that explains the finished work Christ is Hebrews 10: 5-18 which ways; "Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come-- In the volume of the book it is written of Me-- To do Your will, O God.'" Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Christ's Death Perfects the Sanctified. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin". Thank God for the finished work of Christ.

  • The Deliverance: Imputed Righteousness: Romans 4:13-25; For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations") in the presence of Him whom he believed--God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "So shall your descendants be." And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Many people believe that their own righteousness is the way to God. That's the problem with the Muslim religion. Living right (not drinking, cussing, fornicating, stealing, etc) is the way to God. Not so! We're delivered towards righteous because of Christ's righteousness. Imputed righteousness is the transfer of righteousness from Christ to believers who place their faith in Him. However, we should pursue right living of holiness daily. Just because we declared righteous before God through Christ, does not give a license to do what we want. We must pursue to maintain a right relationship with God by following His holy standards given to us in Scripture.

  • The Delight: The Return of Christ: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words". Not only is Jesus the only way because He declared Himself to be and displayed it on the cross and we're delivered towards righteousness, but He is the only way because we delight in His return. It is the soon return of Christ that provides hope to the believer. Without His expected return, we have nothing to give us hope.

I feel like closing with a "Whoop, the preaching opera" but you can't hear it. So I'll close with, "I know He's alright!!!"

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Prayer of Jabez

Yesterday we acknowledged all of the graduates in our church for 2008. I was preparing to continue our series on the 5 functions of the church; ministry, fellowship, worship, evangelism, and discipleship. The sermon yesterday was going to be on worship. However, morning when I got up "The Prayer of Jabez" was on my heart and mind to preach to encourage our young people as they enter into a new phase of life. I never study this text before just read the book and heard my pastor HB preach the text last year during my pastoral anniversary (That's another reason why I never wanted to preach it). I gave it my best and the people were blessed.

Topic: The Prayer of Jabez
Text: 1 Chronicles 4:9:10

Sermon Thesis: God is in control of your destiny.

I. The Prayer was from an honorable life

Point: Jabez lived and honorable life even though his name meant pain.

Application: As a child of God, you don't have live up to the name people give you. You make a difference and you can make difference regardless of your background.

II. The Prayer was for blessings

Point: Jabez prayed that God would push out the borders.

Application: God knows your potential.

III. The Prayer was for protection

Point: Jabez prayed that God would protect him from evil.

Application: When God blesses us, we need to be protected from ourselves and from others.

VI. The Prayer was answered

Point: Jabez's prayer was answered because of a pure heart.

Application: Answered prayer is a guarantee when we pray with the right motives.

May God be honored and glorified as we apply the Word of God to our lives.

Friday, June 20, 2008

When Is A Sermon "Good Enough"

I went to the office this Wednesday to prepare for our "Walk through the Word Worship Service". The last few weeks have been extremely difficult because my computer died due to viruses. I tried to perform a computer resurrection miracle and say; "Computer come forth" like Jesus did with Lazarus. Needless to say, it didn't work. So without my tools, sermon and lesson preparation has been frustrating as well as difficult. This past weekend, I pulled down books like the days of old which was weird (I guess you can say I'm spoiled with being able to study using my computer material) but refreshing to know that computers are convenient but books require hard work in sermon preparation.

So Wednesday, I was not able print a handout for bible study so instead I taught with an handwritten outline. Before service, I started going through some of my files and found a folder with sermon preparation material from the beginning of my ministry when I started to take preaching serious. At Mt Sinai, Pastor Charles spent a considerable amount of time with the Associate Pastors of the church teaching us on expository preaching. Those times were some of the greatest for me and has prepared me for days like this during computer failures.

I found a copy of an article entitled "When Is A Sermon Good Enough". I can't tell who the author of the article is because the clipping is so old that the print as started to fade. I read the article and was encouraged because it deals with time constraints with sermon preparation and how to overcome them. One of my biggest challenges as a bi-vocational pastor is time to prepare for our Sunday morning and Wednesday night worship services. I have approximately 15-20 hours to prepare for Sunday and 4 hours for Wednesday each week. Thank God for His grace to allow me to learn more with the allotted time I'm given. I've listened to some of my sermons recently only to start praising God for His goodness towards me. Some of my sermons were on point while others were not so on point. I can tell those days when I was well prepared and those days when I lived in flunkersville during the sermon presentation.

The article reminded me of some questions I should ask myself when preparing for our church's bible study time together.

Question 1: Have I done my best under the current limitations? Many pastors experience numerous limitations with meetings, visitations, administrative, work (for me), etc. However, we can't neglect Peter's word in Acts 6 to appoint 7 good men to wait tables while spend time in the word and prayer. One thing I have to fight with each week is to not to be the best but to do my best. I find myself sometimes in competition with myself to out do the sermon the week before. That's stupid! Only God can determine the effectiveness of any sermon not me.

Question 2: Have I been honest with the text? Proper interpretation is so important when preaching/teaching the Word of God. I'll never forget preaching at a church anniversary celebration for a friend of mine, Hebrews 11: 11-12 "A Faith for Life's Impossibilities". At the end of the sermon, I stated that Isaac, the promised son to Abraham and Sarah, was the picture of Jesus who would come to save the world and if had not been for Isaac there would be no Jesus. During the climax of my sermon close, the church was in uproar and missed my comment but when I sat down, I realized what I said and knew it was totally incorrect. During my remarks before the benediction, I cleaned that comment up. Isaac was not the picture of Jesus who would come to save the world. Isaac was the second person to begin the genealogy of Jesus' birth (Matthew 1). To me this was important because many pastors make statements that are untrue but pride will not allow us to make the correction before we leave the preaching event allowing those who hear us to communicate bad interpretation with other people.

Question 3: Have I answered all questions I think the members would ask? As a pastor, I have the privilege to preach to people I minister to on a personal note each week. One of the greatest opportunities I have is not finding something to preach but having so much preach and trying to decide when to preach it. People enter our churches each week with questions to life's challenges. They have questions about scripture, God, the church, the members, holy living, etc. When I select a text I question the text from a theological and practical perspective. Theological to make sure my doctrine is write, practical to answer the questions of those who sit before me.

When is a sermon good enough? Only God can determine the answer to this question. It's our responsibility to use our time wisely in sermon preparation to insure accurate communication of God's word to God's people.

May you be enriched, encouraged, and equipped to do your best for God alone!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Congratulations, Myles

My son graduated this week from Middle School and will be attending High School next year. I'm proud of him but he had Tracy and I nervous to death. But, thank God he pulled it off with a 2.0 GPA. His potential is so great it's scary but like all male childs, he does just enough to get by. But the more he matures a better man he will become. Congrats, Son Dad is proud of you.

Here some pictures of the graduation:

Here is Myles marching in.
Myles and his Mom, Tracy

Myles and his big sister Kari.

The Boys. Myles, Maurice, and Derrick.

They kinda remind me of the movie "The Wood" when I see them together. Congrats fellas and keep up the good work.

And if you're wondering why I'm not in any pictures, it's simple I don't like taking pictures.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

You Make A Difference

I received an interesting email entitled "Who I Am Makes A Difference". The story is a teacher in New York decided to honor each of her seniors in High School by telling them the difference each of them had made. She called each student to the front of the class, one by one. First, she told them how they had made a difference to her, and the class. Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon, imprinted with gold letters, which read, "Who I am makes a difference."

Afterwards, the teacher decided to do a class project, to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a Community. She gave each student three more blue ribbons, and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony. Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom, and report to the class in about a week.

One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company, and honored him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon, and put it on his shirt. Then he gave him two extra ribbons and said, 'We're doing a class project on recognition, and we'd like for you to go out, find some one to honor, and give them a blue ribbon'. Later that day, the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had a reputation of being kind of a grouchy fellow. He told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon, and give him permission to put it on him.

And then he asked, offering him the last ribbon, 'Would you take this extra ribbon, and pass it on by honoring somebody else. The teenager who gave me these is doing a school project, and we want to keep this ribbon ceremony going and see how it affects people'. That night, the boss came home and sat down with his 14 year old son. He said, 'The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office, and one of my employees came in and told me he admired me, and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine! He thinks I am a creative Genius! Then he put a blue ribbon on me that says, Who I Am Makes A Difference.

He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor. As i was driving home tonight, I started thinking about who I would honor with this ribbon, and I thought about you. I want to honor you. My days are hectic and when I come home, I don't pay a lot of attention to you. I yell at you for not getting good enough grades and for your messy bedroom. Somehow, tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Bedised you mother, you are the most important perso nin my life. You're a great kid, and I love you!

The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn't stop crying. His whole body shook. He looked up at his father and said through his tears, 'Dad, earlier tonight I sat in my room and wrote a letter to you and Mom, explaining why I had took my life. and I asked you to forgive me. I was going to commit suicide tonight after you were asleep. I just didn't think that you cared at all. The letter is upstairs. I don't think I'll need it after all'.

His father walked upstairs and found a hearfelt letter full of anguish and pain.
The boss went back to work a changed man. He was no longer a grouch, but made sure to let all of his employees know that they made a difference.

The message in the story is this, you are important and you do make a difference!

How many times do we go throughout our days focusing on daily responsibilities at work, in the home, and at church without ever realizing the difference we make as individuals. Well, I want you to know that you do make a difference. God created you unique with character traits no else has but you. You make difference because God loves you and gave His son to die for you. You make a difference because I love you and desire the best for you.