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Friday, May 29, 2009

I Love Writing

I’m finding my love for writing becoming more and more exciting after each written sermon and blog. My favorite educational course was English in all grade levels. I enjoyed spelling test, definition assignments, grammatical structure, and reading. But most of all, I loved writing research papers and short stories. When I finished my studies at a local Jr college my writing ceased. Why? I don’t know. It just stopped.

I started blogging a year ago and my passion for writing has been renewed. I blog because I have a lot to say that often times will never reach the pulpit in a sermon or lesson.

Writing affords me an opportunity of expression. Over this last year, I’ve written a number of articles about the church, my personal and family life, our Restore the Land project, and currently writing an online book; “Understanding Healing”. All in an effort to practice my writing skills as well as express thoughts that prayerfully will help someone along the way in this journey called life.

There are a few things I’ve discovered over this year that I never thought of until now.

- Writing requires discipline: I’ve seen many friends start blogs but quickly stop them. I’m not sure why but I think they would say “not enough time”. Writing does require time. Time thinking, editing, thinking, editing, thinking, and editing. To be a great writer (if that’s your desire) requires the discipline of time management to perfect your craft. My desire is to be a good writer and if greatness develops, so be it. For now I’ll settle for being good.

- Be prepared for criticism: I’ve received both types of criticisms, constructive and cruel. I don’t rule out cruel criticism because I’m my own worst critic and nobody can beat me up like I can. However, just know that criticism of both kinds is just around the corner. Be confident in what you’re writing. Some people will agree and others will disagree but bottom-line is these are your thoughts not theirs.

- Have fun writing: This is what it’s all about, having fun! If writing becomes a burden then stop writing. Otherwise you will fall into the category of wanting to say something rather than having something to say. All writers experience mental block where nothing comes to them. That’s ok, stop writing until it comes. But have fun when you return.

- Be brief: It doesn’t take a lot of words and pages to get your point across.

- Stay in Your element: Don’t try to out write someone else. There are some great minds in our world but your mind is just as great as the next person. Don’t try to take on topics and words you’re not well prepared in. One article I wrote was on time management that I should have left out of my arsenal because I struggle with time management. I’m learning to stay within my element. One more piece of advice, use a dictionary! It’s cool using new words but be sure to know the meaning and spelling. Simple is sometimes most powerful when writing.

- Use Microsoft Word: I use a Word document as draft copy for spelling and grammar errors. Once all has been checked I copy into my blog. I want to be at my best at all times.

- Don’t expect comments on every blog: I used to get discouraged when I wrote what I thought was my best article and received no comments. That quickly changed when a young man came to me before a musical at the church and commented on how my article on “God’s Favor”. He never commented on my blog but he did in person. You never know who is reading and being helped by what you write.

I love writing and look forward to it every chance I get. I anticipate more thoughts and better writing skills this year.

An aspiring writer,

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ch. 2 - Healing In My Hand - Pt. 1

The primary point of James chapter 5 is on prayer. But this text receives much injustice because of this statement: Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

The controversy surrounding this passage of Scripture is intense across denominational lines, traditional and liberal theology, conservative and charismatic practices as well as the pulpit and pew relationship.

As a young preacher (I think I was 13 or 14 years old at the time), I’ll never forget an experience I had at the start of an afternoon church service. I was about to enter into church when a member of the church stopped and asked me to pray for her because she was having stomach pains. It was apparent that she wasn’t feeling good so I did what I saw my pastor do; I laid hands on her stomach and prayed. Shortly thereafter, she came to thank me and expressed that she felt much better. Weeks later someone else came requesting a “prayer of healing” and then another one and then another one. I laid hands and prayed each time until a next door neighbor’s niece was diagnosed with cancer. She was a young lady about 9 years old. They asked me to pray. Again, I did what I saw my pastor do, I laid hands and prayed. Without question I was confident that she would be healed because everybody else I prayed for said they were healed. So shall it be with this little girl.

Unfortunately, the story does not have a happy ending. That little girl died of cancer months later and I never laid my hands on another person since. I was devastated, hurt, and embarrassed. The family never blamed me but I blamed myself. It took me years to get over that and in many ways I still think about it as if it was yesterday.

To say that we possess the gift of healing is a serious claim to lay hold off because we have people’s lives physically, spiritually, and literally in our hands. I don’t want to debate who does or does not possess the gift of healing that’s in God’s hands. But I agree with John McArthur and so many other great writers and teachers, if men (and women) possess the gift of healing why is there so much sickness, disease, deformities, and death in our society. Why are the hospitals filled with sick children, youth, teens, and adults? Why is there a funeral everyday of the week with lines of cars going to the cemetery? Why do we need doctors, medicine, and research? Why, why, why?

I get irritated with many television preachers who rent hotel rooms, convention centers, and tents for miracle services to take advantage of the sick. I get upset with prayer clothes, miracle spring water, special oils, and all other gadgets used to supposedly bring health, wealth and prosperity to those in need (oh, by the way for a small donation). If all of this is available to bring healing why, oh tell me why, are people dying every second.

I believe we, as pastors, elders, preachers, and bishops are missing our true calling to bring glad tidings of great joy through the preaching of God’s word to a sin sick and dying world with no hope of salvation. And this is the premise by which I base my writings.

But the debate still surrounds the question, where does healing come from? Who is the source of healing? Do humans possess the ability to heal? Is healing a miracle from God or the work of man? Is the gift of healing a temporal or permanent spiritual gift? What are the reasons for healing, personal gratification or to glorify God? Should healing be practiced in the church during the invitation or a special called service? Does the practice of healing benefit or hurt the witness of the church of Jesus Christ? Is there healing in olive oil and in the hands of the preacher? What is our response when a person does not get healed? Should we offer a person physical healing when we know the greatest need of healing is spiritual through salvation in Jesus Christ?

In order to make a comparison between what goes on today and what the Bible teaches, we just look at Jesus. How did He heal? He set the pattern for all the spiritual gifts. There are six points that are absolutely critical:


a. A Word

Matthew 8:5-8 says, "And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that Thou should come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." You say, "How did the centurion know that?"

That was the common way in which Jesus healed.

b. A Touch

Jesus also healed with a touch. Mark 5:25-34 tells the story of a woman, who had an issue of blood, as she crawled through the crowd to reach Jesus. Verse 27 says, "When she had heard of Jesus, came in the crowd behind, and touched His garment. For she said, If I may touch but His clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague" (vv. 27-29). Jesus didn't push her over, she simply reached up and grabbed one of the rabbinical tassels hanging on His robe (rabbis had four tassels on their robes) and she was healed instantly. With a word or a touch He healed all. There were no dramatics and no theatrics.


a. Mark 5:29 -- "And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague." When? Immediately. I have heard people say, "The Lord healed me. Since He did I have been getting better progressively." Jesus never did a progressive healing. When He sent away the lepers, they were healed instantaneously as they traveled on the road (Lk. 17:14). When the blind man washed his eyes in the pool, he saw instantly (Jn. 9:7). What about the man who first saw men like trees, walking? (Mk. 8:24). He was just focusing what God had just created. Instant healing -- the Scripture knows no other kind; otherwise, if Jesus healed progressively, that kind of miracle would be worthless to demonstrate His deity. Someone would say it was just a natural process. His healing had to be instant.

b. Mark 7:31-35 -- "And again, departing from the borders of Tyre and Sidon, He came unto the Sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis. And they bring unto Him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech..." (vv. 31-32a). Now, very frequently when someone has always been deaf, it is difficult for them to articulate clearly. So they speak with a certain impediment because they cannot hear themselves talk. This is an organic problem.

Verse 32 continues: "...and they beseech Him to put His hand upon him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers into his ears, and He spat, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, He sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly" (vv. 32b-35). No healer today has ever done that. All of a sudden, a person who is stone deaf from birth, and who talked in the manner characteristic of one who has never heard himself speak, is given the freedom to speak clearly and to hear everything instantaneously. That is what Jesus did to prove that God was intervening. There was no other possible explanation, otherwise the miracle ceases to have its significance.


Luke 4:38 says, "And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever...." Peter's mother-in-law was very ill. In fact, the implication here is that she was dying. Verse 39 says, "And He stood over her, and rebuked the fever, and it left her; and immediately she arose and ministered unto them." She got up and made dinner. Here is a woman lying on her deathbed, and when Jesus healed her, He healed her totally. He didn't say, "Now that you've been healed, I want you to just take a little honey and hot tea, and then I want you to make sure that you stay around the house and just lie down." She was healed of a deathly disease, then got up and made dinner. That is instant, total healing.


Jesus wasn't like Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts, or Brandt Baker. He didn't have all the people with organic diseases leave the same way they came. Luke 4:40 says, "Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any who were sick with various diseases, brought them unto Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them, and healed them." He healed with a word and a touch, instantaneously, totally, and everybody. That is why He didn't have to heal in His own environment; He could go where they were.


People who were crippled from birth could walk. People who were blind could see. People who were deaf and dumb could speak and hear. These are all organic problems. Jesus didn't go around healing low back pain, palpitation of the heart, and breathing problems.


Mark 5:35 says, "While He yet spoke, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain who said, Thy daughter is dead. Why troublest thou the Master any further?" The ruler of the synagogue had asked Jesus to help his sick daughter (v. 23). Verse 41 picks up the narrative: "And He took the child by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Little girl, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the child arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment" (vv. 41-42). The miracle was in the resurrection. He raised the dead.

I wish the people who claim to have the gift of healing would spend a little time in funeral parlors. They could sure make some exciting things happen. Wouldn't it be super that the next time you went to a funeral someone with the gift of healing came in and said, "I feel badly about this situation. Would you please get up?"

Why did Jesus heal with a word or a touch, instantaneously, totally, everybody, those with organic diseases, and raise the dead? Did He do it to infatuate or play games with the people? John 20:30-31 gives the reason: "And many other signs truly did Jesus...but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." This gift was an authenticating gift to confirm the statement of Jesus that He is God. You say, "But what about when the Apostles healed?" It was to confirm their proclamation.

I'm not saying that God doesn't do miracles. I'm not saying that God doesn't heal. He does heal, and He can do anything He wants to do. Miracles are neither impossible nor necessary -- that is up to God. But there is no evidence biblically or practically that anyone today is operating the gift of healing. If God wants to heal, that is His business and privilege. He may heal through the prayers of an individual. He promises that "the prayer of faith shall save the sick" (Js. 5:15a). But let's not confuse God's healing in response to prayer with the ability to heal everyone at will, as in the case of Jesus and the Apostles. (Taken from John McArthur’s study Guide on “The Temporary Sign Gifts-Healing, Part A”)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunday Thoughts - 5/24/09

What a good yet busy weekend for First Goodwill. We celebrated family/friends with a combined service with Pastor Payne and the Full Gospel Baptist Church. Pastor Tony Rhone from Galilee Baptist Church of Oklahoma preached and did an excellent job. The members of First Goodwill did a good job inviting people to church and serving during the reception after service. I know many of their evangelistic efforts did not go un-noticed by God nor me, thank you for casting out nets.

I didn’t get a chance to speak to a lot of our members and their invited family/friends because I was so busy helping a son of our church, Pastor Michael Albert get ready for baptism. My day started at it’s normal time 4 am and it was none stop with filling the pool, picking up members and their invited guest, helping with sound check, coordinating with pastor Payne order of service, I mean it didn’t stop. So by the time service started I was TOTALLY exhausted and it took me some time to get engaged into the worship service.

Later that evening, Tracy and I, went to dinner with Pastor and Sis Payne, Pastor and Sis Severe, Associate Pastor and Sis, Boyle, and Pastor and Sis Rhone at Bucca Italian Restaurant. Good fellowship but cold in Santa Monica, Ca.

For Memorial Day, I woke up and thought I would cook my family breakfast. I made breakfast burritos and we laid around all morning until we went to Pastor Payne’s house for BBQ. At first my son didn’t want to go but when he got there he didn’t want to leave because of pastor Rhone’s daughter, TJ. And all he could talk about was TJ when got home. Our kids are growing up, that’s scary. We watched the Fakers (I mean, Lakers) get spanked by the Nuggets. No answers for Birdman on the boards. No answers for JR Smith in scoring. I know Laker fans, “The refs were paid off!” I don’t think so. The Lakers got out hustled, scored, rebound, and excellent free throw shooting won the game. What a game!

Well, we‘re back in the saddle again starting our day at work.

All of June, due to the bad economy, my job is forcing 40 hour vacations. So, I will be taken vacation every Monday in June. This is cool because I have so much to get caught up with at home and the church that time off will prove to be beneficial and it will give Tracy and I some quality time as well. So I’m looking forward to it.

We’ll continue our evangelism training session this Wednesday @ 7 pm. I will pickup our sermon series “The God of Our Trust” studying Jehovah-Yahew: I Am That I Am from text Exodus 3:14-15. I’m looking forward to preaching this coming Sunday.

We have our women's ministry fellowship service this Sunday. I'm looking forward to this service. It has really been encouraging the women of First Goodwill and Praise Chapel.

I’m still writing Chapter 2 of Understanding Healing entitled: “The Source of Healing”. I find this writing enriching and troubling. Last week, I heard a report of a mother who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for refusing medical treatment for a sick child and the father’s trial starts in July 2009. Many of us have heard the story of the Minnesota family who will not allow medical treatment for their son with cancer. In both cases, religious beliefs are the reason(s) for their decision-making process. But my question, “Who is the source of healing?” The answer to this question is obvious but a follow-up question is in order as well, “What vehicle(s) does God use for healing?” Stay tuned…

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Balance of 2009 Preaching Schedule

God willing below is my Sunday morning preaching schedule for the balance of the year and leading into Jan 2010. Preaching schedule is subject to change as the Holy Spirit desires.

Pentecost Sunday
The God of Our Trust
Jehovah- YaHew - I Am That I Am
Exodus 3:14-15

The God of Our Trust
Jehovah-Rapha: Lord Our Healer - Trusting the God Who Can Heal You
Exodus 15:22-27

The God of Our Trust
Jehovah-Mekeddeshem: Lord Who Sanctifies
Exodus 31:13

Father's Day
The God of Our Trust
Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord Is Peace
Judges 6:24

Evangelism Sunday
The God of Our Trust
Jehovah-Sabaoth: Lord God of Hosts
1 Samuel 1:3-11

The God of Our Trust
Jehovah-Roi: Lord My Shepherd
Psalms 23

The God of Our Trust
Jehovah-Ezer: Lord our Help
Psalms 33

Stewardship Sunday
The God of Our Trust
Jehovah-Shammah: The Lord Is There
Ezekiel 48:35

Evangelism Sunday
How To Pray With Power
Pray Confidently
Psalms 86

How To Pray With Power
Pray Persistently
Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 18:1-8

How To Pray With Power
Pray In Jesus' Name
John 14:12-14;15:14-16; 16:23-26

Stewardship Sunday
How To Pray With Power
Pray for Others
John 17:9-19

Evangelism Sunday
Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Source of Stability - Declaring The Lord's Grace
1 Sam 1

Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Source of Stability - Serving The Lord Faithfully
1 Sam 3

Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Source of Stability - Trusting in the Lord Alone
1 Sam 7

Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Building Blocks of Stability - Seek God's Guidance
1 Sam 8:4-6; 10:20-24; 12:13-23

Stewardship Sunday
Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Building Blocks of Stability - Carry Out God-Given Instructions
1 Sam 13

Evangelism Sunday
Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Building Blocks of Stability - Embrace God's Perspective
1 Sam 16

Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Building Blocks of Stability - Cultivate Godly Friendships
1 Sam 18:1-4; 19:4-7; 20:8-13; 23:16-18

Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Building Blocks of Stability - Conform to God's Agenda
1 Sam 24

Stewardship Sunday
Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Demonstrations of Stability - When Responding to Loss
2 Sam 1-2:1-7

Evangelism Sunday
Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Demonstrations of Stability - When Assessing One's Lifework
2 Sam 5:9-12; 7:1-21

Finding Stability In A Turbulent World
Demonstrations of Stability - When Tangled in Sin
2 Sam 12

Stewardship Sunday
God Is In Charge
You Can Feel Safe
2 Thess 1:1-12

Evangelism Sunday
God Is In Charge
You Can Stay Calm
2 Thess 2:1-17

Thanksgiving Sermon
God Is In Charge
You Can Keep At It
2 Thess 3:1-18

A Path for Your Life
Rebellion: A Path to Ruin
Micah 1:1-2:13

A Path for Your Life
Corruption: A Path to Nowhere
Micah 3

A Path for Your Life
Hope: A Path to Fulfillment
Micah 4-6

Christmas Sermon
A Path for Your Life
Commitment: A Path to Excellence
Micah 7

State of the Church Address
Various Scriptures

A Heart For Missions
God's Missionary Heart
Isaiah 49:1-6;56:3-8; 66:18-23

A Heart For Missions
Your Missions Involvement
Romans 15:23-28

A Heart For Missions
The Message of Missions
Luke 2:8-32

A Heart For Missions
Wanted: Missionaries
Acts 13:1-3; 14:26-27; 26:15-19; Gal 2:6-10

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday Thoughts - 5/18/09

I was a little giggly yesterday during service but we had a good time in worship. I was a bus driver yesterday morning. One of our young adults and her friend wanted a ride to church so I picked them up in our church van, yes!

I was a little concerned about attendance because about 1/8 of our street was closed due to some stupid carnival. But we had good attendance, praise God! We saw new faces this week. Praise God for the passion of soul winning being restored in our church.

I closed out our three part series on soul winning: The Urgency of Soul Winning”. This was a little difficult because I took off a little more than I could chew with a text. Study text came from Genesis chapters 6-9. I attempted to attack text as a biographical study on the life of Noah. His story is rich and I had entirely too much information and thoughts coming from everywhere on outline, thesis, point, sub-points, etc. I had to explain a lot but wanted to stay away from symbolisms which so easy to do in OT narratives. I needed another week to gather my thoughts for clarity but with our family/friends day coming up, I wanted to finish the series to encourage our church to win the souls of family and friends by inviting them to church this coming Sunday (I pray it worked).

Here’s the outline:

Topic: The Urgency of the Gospel
Text: Genesis 6-9 (key verse: ch. 6:18)

Thesis Statement: God is committed to those who respond to Him in obedient faith

Here are four important factors of the urgency of soul winning that we should be aware of:

I. The Purpose of Soul Winning – Ch 6:1-8

To warn people of God’s coming judgment – v. 1-7

To share with people the grace of God – v. 8

Point: God’s grace is available to all who will receive it.

II. The Priority in Soul Winning – Ch 6:9-22 (key verse 18)

You (v. 18a) – “But I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall go into the ark…”

Your Children (v. 18b) – “…your sons…”

Your Spouse (v. 18c) – “…your wife…”

You Extended family ( v. 18d) – “…your son’s wife…”

You household (Ch. 7:1) – “Come into the ark, you and all your household…” I believe this to refer to being an household of influence (friends, associates, company, anyone living with you, sleepovers, etc)

III. The Protection in Soul Winning – Ch. 7:2-24 (key verse: 16)

Point: Once saved always saved (Ephesians 1:13-14)

IV. The Reward for Soul Winning – Chapters 8 & 9

-Worshipful living after salvation – Ch. 8:20-22

-Blessed living after salvation – Ch. 9:1

- Legendary living after salvation – Hebrews 11:7

I know seed was planted and watered. While none was caught in the net, the invitation was extended. Actually, I think the family of Pastor Richardson has come back to the church which is a blessing.

The next few months is going to be busy for First Goodwill Church as I looked at our calendar. Wow! Pray my strength in the Lord.

Before I leave this blog I want your opinion on something (if you don’t mind sharing).

A member had a question about the name of our church First Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church as to why I deleted “Missionary Baptist”. In the past few months I’ve been using “First Goodwill Church” as a strategy on all of what I consider to be marketing material (such as, bulletins, flyers, EBlast, brochures, etc). First, let me explain that I’m not ashamed of the Baptist doctrine and/or beliefs but it has been my experience that many people our turned off when they find out our denomination is Baptist. There’s a stigma on the Baptist denomination, legitimate or not, as being too traditional, fighters, BOD driven, and so on.

Right or wrong, I’m trying to teach our church to share with unbelievers and the un-churched that we’re the church of Jesus Christ first and a Baptist denomination second. I don’t want us to be rejected before we have a chance to share Christ because of a denominational affiliation.

Question, is this a right approach? Does it show a sign of embarrassment in regards to our denominational affiliation?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Where Was This Book

I just read a book entitled: “Well-Intentioned Dragons- Ministering to Problem People in the Church” by Marshall Shelly.

Book Synopsis:

Every Church has them - sincere, well meaning Christians who leave ulcers, strained relationships, and hard feelings in their wake. They don't intend to be difficult; they don't consciously plot destruction or breed discontent among the members. But they do often undermine the ministry of the church and make pastors question their calling. Well Intentioned Dragons guides those on church staff in facing the strenuous task of dealing with difficult people-even ministering while under attack. Based on real-life stories of battle scarred veterans, Marshall Shelly presents a clear picture of God's love for those on both side of the problem. He describes tested strategies to communicate that love and turn dissidents into disciples. Here is a book that will not only help pastors and church leaders preserve their sanity (and maybe their jobs); it will help them minister more effectively even to those who make life difficult.

Where was this book when I started to pastor?

Admittedly, when I started reading the book situations and people started coming to mind. But the more I read, I started to look at my participation in situations and how I could have done things differently.

This is my first pastorate and I acknowledge that I will make mistakes. No, I have made mistakes and will in time make many others. While I may have good interpersonal skills in my place of employment, being a pastor is a new challenge dealing with the many different personalities, personal agendas, traditions, long membership tenure, attitudes (“This is my church!”), power fights (“I’ve been on the BOD before your were born!”), spiritual immaturity, backbiting, gossip, doubt, attacks on leadership ability, and so many others. Having good interpersonal skills is not enough in the church. There’s a spiritual element that minimizes interpersonal skills to making a person fall on their knees in prayer. And trust me, I’ve prayed more now than ever before.

Turning dissidents into disciples is a hard task but not an impossible task. Look at the disciples that follow Jesus, if I may, well-intentioned dragons were in the midst such as Peter and Judas. Peter meant well but often times did or said something stupid. Judas followed Jesus but betrayed Him for some chump change. The story ending of Judas was a tragedy but Peter went on to be a great preacher.

I’ve been in church for a long time and seen a lot. Some of my experiences I don’t mind discussing and others I try to forget. But one thing is for sure, the church will have some well-intentioned dragons. They come in all shapes, forms, persons, ages, races, and genders.

I dare not try to offer suggestions on how to handle difficult people in the church because I have struggles that have not been proven yet in a resolution. However, I do encourage every pastor, preacher, lay leader, staff member, and deacon to get his book. It will benefit not only you but also your caring of members in the church.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ch 1 - Am I Really Sick? - Pt. 2

While we see physical sickness in scripture, we also see spiritual sickness. I believe with all my heart that our need for healing is not physical but spiritual. I had an issue with God for not healing my son with a spiritual sickness of doubt and anger.

My uncle Robert gave me a tape of a sermon I preached at Mt Sinai in May of 1998 entitled “Lessons From A Grateful Heart” taken from Luke in the story of the 10 Lepers. I listened to this sermon for the first time a few weeks ago and it did not dawn on me until the end of the message that I preached about being grateful a week or two before my son passed away. I was testifying at the end of the message of how God was answering the prayers of the members by giving my son strength to endure operation after operation and soon thereafter he’s gone.

After listening to that message I had to repent and ask God for forgiveness because God was good before my son passed and He’s still good after my son has passed. It was at that point that God healed me spiritually from doubt and anger something I suppressed over the years. I’ve realized that physical healing is temporary. You can receive healing today physically but our bodies are still aging and soon and very soon we will find ourselves back in a position of sickness facing the ultimate reality of death.

On the other hand, spiritual healing is permanent because of the work of Jesus Christ. Praise God!

Essentially, that’s what the bible is focused on our spiritual healing more than our physical healing. Yes, God is concerned with the outer condition of man but He’s more interested in the inner condition of man. I think as Christians, we spend entirely too much time pursuing non-essentials of our Christian faith like gifts of tongues, healing, prosperity, women in the pulpit, fresh anointing, and so on that we’ve missed and missing the essential truths of our Christian faith like salvation, the pursuit of holiness, and the return of Jesus Christ. We chase the temporal while forsaken the permanent.

The greatest healing ever to pursue is spiritual through the gift of salvation. Let’s think about it for a moment, Jesus asked a question in Matthew 16:26; “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or, what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Pursuing physical healing while ignoring salvation is spiritual suicide; “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23)”.

It’s not a good idea to pursue physical healing while ignoring salvation. One of the best passages of scripture I can think of that explains the spiritual condition of man is Ephesians 2:1-7:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, n which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Now, I know this passage says a lot in past tense when read at first glance. However, upon deeper study you will realize that it’s speaking not only in past tense but also in present tense reality. It speaks to both the believer who can rejoice in salvation and the unbeliever who needs to be aware of their need for salvation. The spiritual condition of man can be explained in what I call: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly…

A. The Good – “And you He made alive”

Many translations omit “And you He made alive” and go straight into “you were once dead in trespasses and sins. However, I think it’s important to not look past the opening statement in this text because it’s the beginning of the end resolve, “Only Christ can bring life to a dead man.

B. The Bad – “who were dead in trespasses and sins”

In the book, Dead Man Walking, the author describes the experiences of a man sentenced to die for a horrible crime. At the end of the story, he finally acknowledges his crime. He repents and accepts Christ, and is then led to the room where he would die by lethal injection. The thing that really struck me at that point was the cry by the jail warden as he led the man to his final appointment with death, "Dead man walking! Dead man walking!" Although he was still alive, he was legally dead. There was nothing that anybody could do at that point for this man. Every avenue possible for reprieve had been exhausted. Right up to the last minute his lawyer and his spiritual advisor waited at the phone in the hope of a miracle. But it never came. All had failed. That is the most hopeless place for any human being to be.

Apart from Christ, people are hopeless, spiritual sick, dead man walking with no hope of healing from the sickness of sin.

C. The Ugly – “…in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, [3] among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

Again, this is a passage of past tense with present tense reality, we’re messed up. Our spiritual sickness is an ugly situation that needs the help of God to fix us.

How is He able to fix us? Watch this: But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Wow! What a mighty God we serve!

A few weeks ago we had two men visit our church. During the invitation, one of men raised his hand and expressed a desire to stop smoking. I acknowledged his request and asked if we could talk after church. When service was over, I was pulled in many directions and as soon as I could break away I went immediately to look for both gentlemen. One of our members explained that they were fresh out of jail and only wanted something to eat. I asked; “What did you do?” They explained; “I gave them some oatmeal and orange juice and sent them on their way”. They continued to explain; “There was need to talk to them because they didn’t want anything but food”. I bowed my head and walked away. This was a missed opportunity to offer something more than temporal gratification of a physical need. Their need was more than physical it was and still is spiritual.

Jesus never said to us in Matthew 28:19, “Go into all the world and heal all disease.” He says, “Go into all the world and make disciples.” Jesus is more concerned about the soul of a man than He is the body of a man – Matthew 10:28 (The Temporary Sign Gifts-Healing, Part a by John McArthur – pp. 3).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that God is not in the healing business physically because He is. However, I believe God is concerned with our soul and where it will spend eternity, with Him or apart from Him, is His major concern. If it wasn’t, why did Jesus come? Why the cross, burial, grave, the resurrection, and His return? Our God is powerful and healing physical sickness is easy to Him. But, the real miracle is when someone receives Christ as Lord and Savior in their life. Now…….that’s healing.

What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
O, how precious is that flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fountain I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
To be week...Chapter 2 "Where Does healing come from?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunday Thoughts - 5/11/09

After our evangelism service, I abandoned our study on the names of God for the last three weeks to preach on “The Importance of Soul Winning” (I wish the series could have been title something much better but this will do for now). It’s been enriching, challenging, motivational, exciting, and promising for me personally and pastorally. I really need to get our audio equipment up and running so CDs can be made available for distribution. Here are the outlines for the first two messages:

Sermon 1:
“A Call to Soul Winning”
Mark 2: 14-20

Thesis Statement: Soul winning is a call of God to join Him in changing the World for His glory, alone.

I. The Power of Soul Winning – v. 14-15

a. The Good News is timely
b. The Good News is available
c. The Good News is Decisive

II. The Partnership in Soul Winning – v. 16-17

Three characteristics in partnering with God

a. We must be trustworthy – Can God trust you with the soul of person
b. We must be teachable – Partner with God is a life-long learning process
c. We must be task-oriented – God don’t lazy disciples

III. The Participation in Soul Winning – v. 18-20

a. Partnering with God means guaranteed success in soul winning
b. Partnering with God requires sacrifice

- They left their careers: Fisherman
- They left their comforts: the boat
- They left their connections: They left their father with his servants

Point: Being an active participant in soul winning we can’t allow our careers, comforts, and/or connections prevent us from carrying out our duty with God.


Sermon 2:
“The Joy Soul Winning”
Psalms 51 (Key Verses: 12-13)

Thesis: The joy of soul winning lies in our testimony that God forgave me and He will forgive anybody who repents.

I. The Joy of Soul Winning is PERSONAL – v. 12a

How do we get back to loving God like we used to?

Accept full responsibility for your sin – v. 1-2
Acknowledge Your Sinful Ways – v. 3-5
Address you confession to God – v. 6-9

Here’s the point; effective soul winning starts with you and I cleansing ourselves from the sin that zaps our inner joy.

II. The Joy of Soul Winning is PERSEVERENCE – v. 12b

Point: Let me depend so thoroughly on Your guidance that such a failure will be unthinkable in the future.

III. The Joy of Soul Winning is PROGRESSIVE – v. 13a

Point: We, too, have multiplied our transgressions. We would do well to face up to the full magnitude of our guilt, as David has, and embrace the full magnitude of His forgiveness. Based on that David says let me go out and teach others what I have learned from my own horrible mistake.

IV. The Joy of Soul Winning is PROMISING – v. 13b

Point: The promise in soul winning is that sinners will be converted.

I pray God is glorified and the members of FGMBC are challenged to partner with God to win souls for the kingdom.

This week I will be studying “The Urgency of Soul Winning”. I can’t wait!

This weekend, the women of our church shared together in a conference Friday night and Saturday morning. The women were blessed with praise/worship my sister-in-law, Muffy Charles, a mother and daughter team which is awesome to experience, Irene Jones shared the word with the women, and good food. Tracy and the women of First Goodwill Church are to be commended for a job well done. Be encouraged, God is not through with you yet.

After church, Tracy, the kids, and I spent time at the park. For mother’s day this how Tracy likes to spend her time every year. It was so relaxing. The weather was great, food good, and quality with the family awesome.

We start our six (6) week course on “Becoming a Contagious Christian” this week. I pray it helps our church.

I request your prayers for our church in the next two (2) weeks. A friend of mine and fellow-laborer in the gospel are talking about a few things that will benefit both of our churches to make a greater impact for God’s kingdom in the local community. Please pray and let’s watch God work it out!

I will post part 2 of Chapter 1 – “Am I Really Sick” (from my thoughts on Understanding Healing) later this week.

Until next time be blessed!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

National Day of Prayer

Tonight, we will spend a special time in prayer, praise, and proclaimation at First Goodwill Church @ 7 pm. Our guest speaker will be Pastor Darnell Dyson of Greater Faith Baptist Church.

If you are unchurched or unsaved please join us for this special service. Bring your needs before the altar and leave them there.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:1-16 - ESV).

Monday, May 4, 2009

God's Favor

Last week I had an interesting conversation with someone that upon hearing what was stated made me a little upset. This is what was said; “Clint, you know you’re the joke of Los Angeles?” I entertained the statement, big mistake; “I’m not surprised! What’s the joke?” He proceeds to tell me that he was having a conversation with a prominent pastor in our city and after the service the pastor strikes up a conversation like this (I wasn’t there but I know how we preachers can be sometimes):

“Hey, you know that boy, Smith, over at First Goodwill lead those people into debt to renovate the church with no members.”

At that point, my defense antennas went up!

I maintained my cool on the phone because I wanted to be a good example. But when I hung up the phone…..

During my message, I shared as an illustration my conversation mentioned above with this explanation when God blesses people don’t understand how God can use small things to make a big impact. I also teach our church that being small doesn’t mean we can’t make a big difference in the community and the world.

After service a member came to me and said; “Pastor, I’m glad you finally heard what was being said because I was getting phone calls as soon as we entered back into the sanctuary and it made me mad.” I could see on her face that it troubled her so I tried to encouraged her with these words:

“God’s favor is unexplainable and often times misunderstood but that doesn’t mean it’s not the favor of God on the life of a person and His church. God has blessed us to do something that many have been trying to do for years. Let’s be bigger than our opposition. Let them talk but we keep glorifying God in everything that we do. As Pastor Charles has said on numerous occasions; ‘If we take care of God’s business, God will take care of our business’”.

I don’t know if it helped her or not.

After that conversation my defense antennas went up……AGAIN! But this time, it resulted more in a testimony rather than anger. I felt the need to want to explain our situation as to why we did what we did with limited resources but I’m not going to. Instead, I will explain my understanding and convictions about God’s Favor.

God’s Favor is UNEXPLAINABLE. When discussing the favor of God, it’s always in the context of God’s grace. The core meaning of God’s grace is God giving to us what we don’t deserve. I’ve developed over the last year in a half another definition, God’s grace is unexplainable. That’s why the hymn writer tagged grace as “Amazing”. It’s beyond our comprehension, mental capacity, and understanding. In laymen’s terms, Grace is God blowing our minds. We don’t understand and cannot explain all that God does in our lives. I dare not write trying to explain how God worked out the details for First Goodwill to accomplish a MAJOR project on limited resources. I dare not try to take credit for what God has done. I dare not try to throw God’s favor in the face of others as a means of boasting for fear of God humiliating me with a thorn to prove that His grace is sufficient for us. All I can say is; God is so amazing?

God’s Favor is COSTLY. When Nehemiah heard the news of a destroyed Jerusalem, he started praying. After his prayer, the favor of God was upon his life from start to finish of building the walls of Jerusalem. But it did not come easy. Chapters 1-6 focus on God's work through Nehemiah and the people to rebuild Jerusalem walls. Enemies attacked the people at their many vulnerable places to hinder them from their work. Hopelessness, anger, doubts, intimidation and fears were all targeted to hold this people back. Nehemiah led the people forward into completion of their task of building the kingdom of God.

What God has done in the life of our church did not come easy for us corporately or for me as pastor. It has cost me with criticism and ridicule. I’ve been the talk of the town negatively because of what God has done. I’ve had local pastors, their members, and friends, who seemingly were rejoicing with us behind the scenes tearing us down. I could go on and on about the cost but the underlining principle is be ready for opposition when God favor’s your life and some of our biggest opposition are those closest to us.

God’s Favor is UNDENIABLE. People, places, and things can’t stop what God wants to do through his people. Out of all the obstacles Nehemiah faced, nothing stopped God’s plan to use Nehemiah to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. And, I’ve learned (and still learning) that obstacles and oppositions don’t stop anything it just slows things down for a moment. Praise God!!!!!

Hold the blessing with a open hand. Don’t become stingy, arrogant, prideful, or a bad steward with the blessings of God. Since we re-entered into the church, I’m teaching our church to now be stingy with God’s blessing. We’ve opened our doors for services where a love offering was given that wasn’t a 1/3 of our monthly mortgage. And yet, we have not missed one payment yet as well as all other responsibilities met each month. We’ve allowed local pastors to come in with their leaders and members to see what God did. Not for boasting but for encouragement that a church (no matter how big or small) can dream big and see those dreams come to pass when making God first in all that you do.

God’s favor is FREE of charge. You don’t have to do anything to earn the favor of God. Well, then again, prayer is the only cost (if you don’t pray).

God’s favor is PROGRESSIVE. There have been a number of former members of First Goodwill to come by and visit since we’ve entered into the church. A teenager by the name Alyssa started attending on a consistent basis since December. She enjoys the service, women’s fellowship, and all that we have to offer so much so that she has her mother Marie coming on a weekly basis now who is also a former member of First Goodwill. A couple of weeks ago, I performed a funeral for their grandmother, Sis Caroline Mitchell. I met with the family in preparation for the service and every family member that came in the house started telling me how Alyssa and Marie speak highly of the pastor and the church. It’s obvious because they bring someone with them every other week. A couple who is family members of Pastor Richardson has been attending consistently now since the Sunday after resurrection Sunday. Pastor Richardson’s sister, Vita wouldn’t come to the church of old because it held too many painful memories. But now, she’s attending with her husband and becoming active as well as opening up to the current members. The point is that God allowed His favor to fall upon our church to change lives by changing the scenery and for no other purpose than that.

God’s Favor is Witness to world. God can do anything! In July of 08, my friend Lamont Bradley held a fundraiser for us to raise money for our project. Many people were invited to participate from choirs, churches, and local pastors. Each night I explained to everyone who was present our reasoning and vision. Of course, people didn’t believe that it would happen. As a matter of fact, I hear many comments after the services of pastors who attended doubting that it would ever get done. September construction began and in December we entered our new church. During our grand opening I invited all those who helped us through prayers and financial support to share in what God had done. They were amazed! Comments in summary were “this is a testimony of God’s favor and that you did what you said you said would do”. God’s favor is evident when we follow through with what God has favored us to do. Some of us ruin God’s favor with selfish-motives to succeed for worldly gain. Let our witness stand as such; “God can do anything!”

My friends believe me it has not been easy. We still have our challenges with finances and low membership. But we believe God will take care of every need as long as we keep Him first everything that we do. He’s already proven that. We will keep dreaming big for God because we serve a big God who deserves the best we have to offer Him.

Pray for us that we will keep dreaming big for God to use us in a magnificent way to change lives for His kingdom alone.