Thursday, August 28, 2008
The church met last night after bible study to discuss church clean-up and service location plans during construction. The members are becoming more and more excited about the project as each day approaches which is a good thing. It's a lot of work for us but the final outcome will be worth it all.
It was unanimous to change our service time to 8:30 am during construction in our small building which is occupied by an Hispanic church. I wanted us to venture out and experience other worship styles for networking purposes. While some were for it others objected to the idea. I think, it did go over well only because I didn't have a good plan in place to communicate to the church. But it's good to see the church getting excited and motivated about our project. Now, I pray their excitement moves from just lip service to improved financial support.
While the weather is good, in the month of September we're going to have service on our parking lot on the following days: 9/7/08, 9/14/08, 9/21/08, and 9/28/08 which we're calling "Praising in the Sun". These services will be strategic for evangelism. So, we're going to pass out invitational fliers in the community this weekend. My prayer is God, please bless our evangelistic efforts. I purchased some 10' x 20' tents at the beginning of the year in anticipation for this very day.
Last night I taught a lesson entitled, "Do Your Best". The point of the lesson is if it bears God's name it deserves our best. It is a lesson to encourage our church to strive for excellence in everything that we do for God.
I remember years ago serving under Pastor Charles at the Mt. Sinai Church a conversation he and I had after a sermon I preached one Sunday morning. He did a lot of traveling that year and it was only the two of us at the time sharing the preaching ministry of the church. God was blessing each sermon I preached at Mt Sinai. The people were shouting, joining church, and coming up for prayer after each sermon. One Sunday, Pastor Charles came home early and I was preaching, in my mind the message was a homerun based on the reaction of the people. When service was over, we went into his office, he shut the door and said; "Have a seat." I sat down and he began to critique my sermon presentation. Naturally, I was upset so I started defending me and my sermon. I ran the list of past Sundays of all that God did over the weeks he was gone and how God moved mighty in every service. But he said something to me that has stuck with until this very day and probable will stay with me forever. He said, "You're only as good as the last sermon preached." he explained that although he was not present, he had every sermon mailed to him while he was gone of which he said; "Great job! But this one was not your best".
One of my biggest competitors is ME. During that time each week I tried to out do me every week. And while I'm thinking I'm a huge success, in reality I was a miserable failure.
Here's what I want to leave you with in this blog, God never asks you to be the best just do our best. God be praised and you be blessed.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
I got up Sunday morning to go to church and prepare for the day. When I went to open the door, I heard water running. I started fumbling with my key rushing trying to open the door. Once I got into the church there was water everywhere. The baptismal pool overflowed. I ran upstairs and literally dove into the pool fully clothed to pull out the plug. Has the pool emptied I still heard water running. The nozzle I called myself turning off I actually turned on. I got towels, mops, old clothes, newpapers, and whatever I could get my hands on to try and clean up my mess. For two hours, I mopped trying to get the water up and then at about 8 am I gave up.
When the members came and saw caution tape everywhere, naturally they wondered; "What happened?" I explained my mistake; "I made the mess but I was not trying to destroy the church to get construction done!" See, we were having a meeting after our morning service for updating and planning for construction. I still have some members who think I'm crazy and they think I will go to any length in getting the work done. Of course, they think I planned it but I didn't.
Needless to say, I did not get to preach my sermon on Our Commitment to Disciples which would have completed by sermon series because I wrestled with hurricane Clint and was not able to complete my writing. I have what I call life saver sermons for moments like this, so I preached:
Topic: Spread Good Rumors
Text: Mattew 9:27-31
When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord."Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, "See that no one knows it." But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country.
Thesis Statement: Spreading good rumors is not a hard thing to do when you are aware of the fact that the good outweighs the bad.
I. Reasons for Spreading Good Rumors - v. 27-28
- Following Jesus Demands Good Rumors - v. 27a
- The Mercy of God Desreves Good Rumors - v. 27b
- Answered Prayer is a Deligthfully Good Rumor - v. 28-30a
II. The Restriction For Spreading Good Rumors -v. 30b
Point: Jesus told them to not say a word! Why? For whatever the reason, this is one of those times when disobeying God is in order.
III. The Result In Spreading Good Rumors - v. 31
Point: Blessed people can't keep quiet! The world needs to hear about a goodness God.
The Lord blessed even in the midst of my stormy mess yesterday morning! God be praised.
Friday, August 22, 2008
- a new asphalt parking lot with striping included,
- total bathroom makeover for all 3 bathrooms with new urinals, toilets, sinks, etc
- Central Air/Heating for entire church (The original proposal from another contractor was $84,000. This price was too high and we were considering just putting air/heat in sancturay only to lower the price. But, I negotiated with new contractor for a price of $30,000 for complete church).
- I also negotiated with contractor that we purchase most of the material. I have a lot of contacts for carpet, tile, drywall, etc that can be purchased at wholesale pricing and with a discount. This will save even more money.
- All work performed will be guaranteed for the life of the loan. I did this to see how confident he was in his work performance. He agreed (good sign).
Final negotiation was to locked in at $285,000 if any new problems arise it would be the responsibility of the contractor to complete at his expense. Here's how I know God is at work in this project, many contractors will not go for this. I threw a bone at him regarding time frame, if job is completed by 11/30/08 I will give him a 3% bonus. His eyebrows raised because he thought it was on total cost of project. Then I lowered the bomb; "On your profit margin of $27,000!" which equates to $810 (I may round it up to $1000). Also remember, a general contractor is not actually doing the work, he is the coordinator. Always work that to your favor if possible. As well with time frame negotiation I went at this angle for everyday lost there will be a 1% penalty reduction on his contractor overhead. This is to insure a timely completion but I don't it dragged out any further than it has to be. We don't plan to enter our new sanctuary until Jan '09 but he doesn't need to know that.
I write this blog as a testimony of God working things out for our good but I also know many of you are in the midst of a project yourselves and hopefully some of this information may help you.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I will complete our sermon series this Sunday on "Our F-I-R-S-T Essentials" discussion closing with Our Commitment to Discipleship - 2 Timothy 2:2. I had been praying as to what direction I should go in the next sermon series. I would rather preach in series formats because my time is so limited it makes it easier for me to stay focused. My mental capacity has been consumed with one thought for our church; "The Importance of Supporting Your Church".
- With Your Love - 1 John 4:7-11
- With Your Prayers - Colossians 4:2
- With Your Gifts/Talents - Romans 12:3-8
- With Your Stewardship - Genesis 2:15
- With Your Worship - Nehemiah 9:8
- With Your Service - 1 Peter 4:10-11
- With Your Hospitality - 1 Peter 4:9
I believe this sermon series will help us to create team ministry and unity in our church. In addition, I've started gathering information and writing curriculum for our new members class of which Our F-I-R-S-T Essentials sermon outline and this new sermon series will incorporated.
I can't take full credit of the above outline other than I've been reading a number of books on the church lately and that has inspired this sermon series structure. Please keep us in your prayers.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I left church and went home to relax after a long taxing day but the statement; "A prophecy isn't a prophecy until it's fulfilled" kept playing in my head. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciated the words of encouragement. However, I have a problem with labeling words of encouragement as prophecy. I think that sometimes in our attempt to encourage one another in church, we confuse edification with what we consider as a special word of futuristic revelation, prophecy.
Here's what I mean, to give encouragement to another person (believer) does not require labeling our words and attempts with spiritual terminology to be deep. I have people on my job that are Christians and one lady has a habit of saying "My spirit told me." One Monday, we were discussing getting tickets and I was explaining that at one point in my life I think my middle name was Clint "Get A Ticket" Smith because every time I looked around I was getting a ticket. But in the last several years, I have not received a ticket, thank God. She responds, "Yea, the other day I wanted to run the red light but my spirit told me not to". I couldn't help but to respond, "It wasn't your spirit, it was the photo camera that will take your picture and send you a $300 ticket if don't cross the intersection in time that made you stop". She laughed and said; "You're right!"
We've made church so complicated now that the basics of Christian living like, faith, love, joy, obedience, etc isn't enough anymore. I remember preaching a series out of Hebrews chapter 11 (I can't remember the sermon) and I was arguing the point that we don't need supernatural experiences or special revelations to validate our faith. The men and women mentioned in Hebrews 11 were rewarded because of their faithful obedience to God. The practical principle in Hebrews 11 and throughout scripture is that God rewards people who are faithful to Him even if it costs you everything. Prime example, Job. Job lost everything in one day but stayed faithful to God as difficult as it may have been.
I believe the Word of God is all need for revelation. As a matter of fact, Paul said to Timothy that "The Word of God is inspired and profitable for correction, rebuke, doctrine, and instruction in righteousness that the man of God maybe complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2Ti 3:15-16)". Biblical inspiration is not about obtaining special revelation above what he's already said in Scripture.
Is it a prophecy or prophe-lie? Or is it words of encouragement labeled with spiritual terminology to be deep rather than practical?
Over the past 2 weeks, I've taking some time to reflect on my growth development has a husband, father, pastor, and Christian. The final analysis reveals that I have a lot of growing to do. Recent conversations with my wife, Tracy who love dearly has shown me that I cannot allow my work in the secular and church cause me to neglect my family. My work in both areas, as a pastor and buyer, is very demanding of my energy capacity. Therefore, I've neglected to mention and recognize my wife's accomplishment of finishing college in June of this year in which she received an Liberal Arts AA Degree and is a certified sign graphics maker. It is and was a huge accomplishment for her of which I am very proud. I could have done a much better job at recognizing her accomplishment. Great job, T-Baby.
Thoughts About Church:
Yesterday was a good day! Attendance was decent but it can always be better. My auntie and uncle is visiting from Dallas, Texas for the week and made it a point to come worship with us on yesterday. It was refreshing to see some visitation in our service and they brought their worship with them which made it easy to preach. I finally preached 1 Peter 3:15: "But sanctify the Lord God in you hearts and always be ready give a defense for the hope that is within with meekness and fear". I struggled for the last 3 weeks putting this message together but it finally came to me on Saturday. I pray God was pleased with the outline.
Sermon Series: Our F-I-R-S-T Essentials (5 Functions of the church: worship, ministry, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship)
Sermon Topic: Our Commitment to Evangelism
Sermon Text: 1 Peter 3:15
Thesis: No matter the persecution we face in life, we must stand up and be a witness to God's saving power:
Tranisitional Sentence: How we respond during times of trouble can affect the effectiveness of our witness.
The text provides three (3) principles for effective evangelism:
1. The Measure of our Witness
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.."
Point: The effectiveness of our witness is based on the life that we live. In evangelism, your life matters.
2. The Message of Our Witness
"...and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you of the hope the lies within."
Point: The effectiveness of witness is based on the message that we speak in word and action. So the exhortation is this; let's get the gospel message right.
3. The Manner of Our Witness
"...with meekness and fear."
Point: The effectiveness of our witness is based on the attitude we display in evangelism.
I tried to keep it simple without being too technical and the church was very receptive. Now, I pray they be doers of the Word and not just hearers only.
Thought about Restore the Land Project:
I met with our loan representative on Friday for a discussion I was not pleased with at all. Our loan company is also in the business of general contracting. I informed him last week of our contractor selection and he was not happy. They submitted a quote just like everyone else and their quote was much less than others. However, it was not comprehensive enough for me to want to consider his company for the job. I understand that many times contractors bid on jobs and then when construction begins pricing starts increasing with "C.O. (Change Order Notices)" because they didn't factor in the unknown. He pleaded his case and I listened very attentively. When he finished, I let him know that I'm not in the business of signing and/or agreeing to unwritten, unclear, cloudy contracts with anyone. If his construction company wanted the job, he and his crew needed to spec out every detail possible with pricing but until then he will not get the job. I also said to him; "That all good contractors know the condition of a place based on it's structure. We're not changing our structure we're upgrading which should make it easier to spec out". He thought I was a little harsh being that I'm a pastor. I explained to him that I'm also a businessman and to use my position as a pastor to get the work may mean I need to go somewhere else for the loan process. Of course, he didn't want that. So, we made an appoint for him to come in today with his crew and spec out the work with pricing. I gave him a deadline for his quote for Wednesday of this week and no later. There's always going to be some red tape for the church in these types of ventures but nothing we can't overcome. I have to protect every area of our church especially the business aspect of our church. Please be in prayer for us, our goal is to start construction the 1st week of Sept.
Monday, August 11, 2008
On Saturday, I met with our potential contractor to finalize his proposal by determining what was flexible in his cost. I'm trying very hard to stick to our plan of covering our loan payments for 5 years with the balance of loan to minimize our exposure to interest rate so all monies paid by the members will go directly to principle balance and yet, still have all repairs done at the same time. It will work but it's going to take some serious negotiations on my part but I do this all day at my current employment, thank God for the experience. Hey, Isn't it amazing how God positions us in life be it career, education, relationships, etc to help us advance the kingdom of God? I never thought I would be in this position as a pastor using my career skills in the church. Thank God!
Yesterday was our last softball game. We loss by 1 point after being down by 12 but it was a good game and fellowship with my brother and friends. Tonight, is our last basketball game before going to the playoffs and we're favored to win.
This week is going to be pretty busy for me with bible study on Wednesday, meetings throughout the week, work, study time, and ME time. We'll pull through it all.
Friday, August 8, 2008
We felt the intensity of the hurricane, and every second seemed like an hour. Our coaches all screamed, "Run for cover!" We all ran into the gym, took our rightful positions, and waited for the hurricane to end. It was so quiet that the steps of mouses could be heard. We sat there for 3 days and couldn't leave, couldn't call our families, and didn't have much to eat, scary.
I'll never forget those moments sitting there with my teammates but feeling alone and helpless.
As I was driving into work this morning, I thought about hurricane Alicia and the feelings I had of helplessness then a passage of scripture comforted my heart; But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-- ( 2 Corinthians 4:7-9).
Sometimes, God positions us in moments of helplessness so that His power may be revealed in us for His glory alone. Here's what I believe the text is ministering to the hearts of any who will listen.
1. We're Human - "But we have this treasure in the earthen vessels...": The treasure in earthen vessels is explained in verses 1-6 of this chapter. It is the treasure of:
- Ministry of the Word- v. 1a
- Mercy of the Word - v. 1b
- Mystery of the Word - v. 2-4
- Message of the Word - v. 5-6
God specializes in using plain ordinary imperfect people. Thank God that our being used is not based on any goodness of our own. I like what Paul says in Ephesians 3:8; "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." One other thing here, You don't have to be perfect for God to use you. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus". Praise God, it's a privilege serving Jesus!
2. We're Weak: "that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us". I'll never forget growing up as a little boy attending Lindberg Elementary School in Lynwood, Ca, a boy by the name of John Seal who was the neighborhood bully and I was his number one target. Every day was difficult to go to school because I knew when I got there that John Seal would be waiting for me at the gate. I was a little fella, weighing every bit of 105 lbs @ 5' 4" tall and Mr. Seal was 150 lbs @ 5' 11" tall. One day we were playing kick ball during our daily recess time. It was my turn to kick the ball. The ball was rolled and I put my foot into the ball and there it went. Guess who caught the ball, yep, Mr Seal! The only way to get out in the game of kickball is to be hit with the ball. All remember is falling to the ground with my face covered in dirt. I got up to charge Mr Seal and then it hit me, "Are you crazy, he's bigger than you are?" Needless to say, I got mopped up that day. All during class, I kept getting notes from my bully with pictures showing what I'm going to look like after school. The day seemed so long in the afternoon. When the bell rung, I ran. I had a motto back then, "He who runs fast lives a long time". As I made my way down my block, I noticed a huge crowd of kids standing in a circle with my daily bully, Mr. John Seal. I couldn't escape this time I had to face my fears. As I approached, the kids began to circle around us and I started to negotiate with Mr. Seal but he wasn't going for it. Then I noticed a change in his appearance as well as his tone of voice. I thought to myself maybe he's getting scared of me this time so I got louder and really started to act bad. For every step forward I made he stepped back 2. Then something happened that I never would have dreamed of, he ran away almost breaking his neck to get out of the circle. When it was all over I turned around to pick up my book bag and noticed my cousin who stood 6' 2" at 175 lbs was there and was giving hand signs to Mr Seal of what he would like if he tried to hurt his cousin, Clint.
Let me tell you that's how God's power works in weak people. He stands in and does for us what we cannot do for yourselves! Thank you John Seal for being my bully. I maybe weak but I'm strong in Jesus!
Let me close this message:
3. We're Victorious: "We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed". In our humanity and weakness, we can't loose!
I've had many tears and sorrows I've had questions for tomorrow There've been times I didn't know right from wrong But in every situation God gave blessed consolation That my trials only come to make me strong I've been a lot of places And I've seen so many faces But there've been times I've felt so all alone But in that lonely hour In that precious, lonely hour Jesus let me know I was His own Through it all Through it all I've learned to trust in Jesus I've learned to trust in God Through it all Through it all I've learned to depend upon His Word So I thank God for the mountains And I thank Him for the valleys I thank Him for the storms He's brought me through Cause if I never had a problem I wouldn't know that He could solve them I wouldn't know what faith in His Word could do Through it all Through it all I've learned to trust in Jesus I've learned to trust in God Through it all Through it all I've learned to depend upon His Word Yes, I've learned to depend upon His Word I've learned to depend upon His Word.
Run for cover under the mighty hand of God!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
On top of that I received bad news this week from the IRS that a company I hired 3 years ago to help me resolve some tax issues never came to pass. Actually, they did nothing at all to represent me and now, the company is out of business. I guess that's why I haven't heard a word from them for the last six (6) months and I'm out of $4000 that I don't have to give away for retainer fees as well as tax payments for the last 3 years that never reached the IRS. Be careful of those commercials that say, "I can save you pennies on the dollar if you owe back taxes". I believed it and got burnt! Unbelievable!!!!
I've been teaching the congregation, as of late, to pray intentionally for their pastor and his family because when progress is being made in ministry the enemy, Satan, is not happy about it. So, to destroy the church's progress he will go after it's leader, ME. Last week during the ministry of response period (invitation), I explained to the church that believers are in the midst of a spiritual warfare and now is not the time to fight fair. In Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul teaches the church how to respond in spiritual warfare. It's amazing that all armour described in the text is defensive. The only offensive weapon we are given is in verses 18-20: praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. The believers secret weapon is prayer!
I need prayer! I'm being hit on every side as of late and I know God is on my side but it's still difficult to hang in there.
On a better note, the appraiser is coming tomorrow to review our property. Once this is completed, we will receive our loan payment at the end of August and construction is on target to begin September 1st.
Monday, August 4, 2008
This weekend I reflected over the three days of service and became a little offended by some of the comments that were made about our Baptist denomination. Statements like:
- "I'm tired of Baptist preachers not believing in women pastors."
- "If you want something done ask a woman and I'll get done."
- "Baptist denomination don't believe in bishops."
- "I'll say what I want and if don't get invited back so what."
- "The hell with what you think about me." This was said in the midst of a sermon.
The list can go on and on. I'm offended because many people who are not a part of the baptist denomination have no clue what we believe as a denomination. Many comments towards the baptist denomination are assumptions and not fact. So I thought it would be good idea to do a little apologetics in this blog to combat some of these comments:
- "I'm tired of Baptist preachers not believing in women pastors/preachers." - This statement is not new. It's been a statement of debate across the land for decades. When I first started my pastorate at First Goodwill, I preached a sermon of 1 Timothy chapter 2:11-15 which says - Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. I titled the message: "The Battle of the Sexes". The whole point of the message is that the fight over the role of women and men in the church is from a lack of understanding of God's design for man and woman. We must understand the equality of man and woman. In simple terms, man is not better than woman nor is a woman better than a man. Both are equal with two different roles, male headship and female helpship (yes, I made up a word). Understanding our roles in God's creative order will help us understand God's design in the church. Paul's point in this passage is to stress God's creative design for men and women in the church not who's better at a particular function in the church.
- "Baptist denomination don't believe in bishops." - I'm not sure where this comment came from in the opening statements of the preacher. He used 1 Timothy 3 verse 1 which says "If a man desires the office of bishop, he desires a good work." The preacher's statement during the revival was clearly that of scratching the surface without any detail study. Paul is not establishing a system of hiearchy in the church. The office of bishop is the office of pastor, elder, and shepherd. Hiearchy systems is denominational not biblical. I don't have a problem with a denominational practice of an hiearchy system, however, I do have a problem with everyone wanting to carry the title of bishop. Pastors/teachers are gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:11).
- "I'll say what I want and if I don't get invited back so what." - "The hell with what you think about me." - These two statements are nothing more than statements to twigger emotional outburst. It's what I call arousology (making a statement to arouse people's emotions). True biblical preaching does not demand fancy statements. Biblical preaching demands accurate interpretation of the text to challenge our thinking and lifestyles. Biblical preaching will twigger our emotions based on the truth of the text and nothing else. I also believe that there should reverance and respect during the preaching event and for the people to whom we preach. That's why I write a manuscript because it makes me think about I'm saying before I say it.
A friend of mine asked me a few years ago: "Are liberal or conservative in your theology?" I thought about it for a moment and responded; "I'm not sure." But now, I think, I'm more conservative because holding and preaching biblical truth makes you take a conservative position on important issues.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Tonight is the last night with LA Inner City Mass Choir and LA GMWA Youth and Young Adult Choir rendering selections. The speaker will be Min. DeSean from Las Vegas, Nevada. Worship has been good but I'm soooooo tired. I didn't take these days off from work so after getting home every night at 11:30 pm, I still rise at 4:15 am. Well my alarm clock goes off at 4:15 am and actually get up at 6 am.
I'll be meeting with our loan agents tomorrow morning (9 am) to discuss, in detail, plans for construction work. We're going to place loan in an escrow account to be distributed as work is completed. This will protect the church from construction blunders.
Keep us in your prayers.