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Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday Thoughts - 8/31/09

What a busy week and weekend, last week! I truly over-scheduled myself starting with our BBQ fundraiser on Thursday and Friday. Saturday I came to work for a few hours, smog check done on the car, and went home. I was so tired I couldn’t move off the couch nor rest comfortably because of the heat. I watched MJ shows all day while flipping channels to watch some football where possible and cat napping in the process.

Sunday was no better. I had 3 services.

Service #1 - Our morning service was good but I was extremely tired. I didn’t finish my work on Psalms 23:3 – “He restores my soul”. I wish I had help because they would have preached yesterday. So, I preached:

Topic: Lord, We Need A Miracle
Text: Joshua 3

Thesis: A miracle is God carrying our load and suspending the rules to move us from one phase of life to the next for His glory.

1. Wait for your miracle – v. 1-5

Point: Waiting is difficult when you need immediate deliverance. But waited time on God is never wasted time.

2. Work for your miracle – v. 6-13

· The miracle is promised for tomorrow but today there’s work to be done, sanctify yourselves!
· You have to position yourself to handle God’s miracle
· You have to get your hands dirty to receive your miracle

3. Walk into your miracle – v. 14-17

Point: If you want God to move in your life in an extraordinary way, you need to step out on faith.

I don’t know how well I communicated the text but I trust God was pleased with my effort.

Deacon Loud came to church yesterday for the first time in 4 weeks. He’s still a little weak but thank God for strength. Please keep him and Sis Loud in your prayers.

Service #2 - our women’s ministry had their 5th Sunday service with guest speaker Gloria Whitaker from Full Gospel Church. What a wonderful time of fellowship and worship. Tracy did an excellent job planning the service, Gloria did an excellent job speaking on the theme of “redeemed”, we had a guest soloist come and sing that blessed our hearts. We had a wonderful time praising God together.

Of course, between services we ate BBQ ribs/chicken/hot links, green beans with potatoes, BBQ baked beans, bread, soda pop, and peach cobbler. The food was so good and I so sleepy afterwards.

Service #3 – a benefit service for New Birth Church with Pastor Michael Saunders. It was a good service but I was extremely tired. There was a lot of singing but Minister B Alexander McCargo and Kingdom Worship really blessed me. New Birth’s dance ministry is awesome, hands down! Bishop Johnny Withers preached and did a good job. Theo Wilkins and SOP sang themselves crazy.

Overall, good day of worship and fellowship!

I got home about 11:15 pm (after being up @ 5 am in the morning). I took my shower, kissed Tracy goodnight, and crashed only to get back up at 6 am to come to work. Lord, give me strength!

I did not do a good job scheduling these events for August and September. I’m praying God will hold me up to carry out all my duties as pastor, husband, employee, father, and being me.

However, I do have something to look forward to this month. Tracy and I will celebrate 17 years of marital bliss and it’s our goal as well as plan to get out of here for a weekend in September to relax. And my God it will happen, trust. I need it, she needs it, we need it!

I’m out, see ya soon!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday Thoughts - 8/23/09

Pretty good church yesterday although it did start out a little hectic. I got a call Sunday morning at about 7 am and a few of our young adults needed a ride to church. My family have been riding together to church now for the last few months. So, we had to hustle out of the house to get to the church to drop them off and then head to pick up our young adults.

I don’t driving the church van to pick up our members, I really don’t. But yesterday morning I was nervous and felt rushed. Tracy led praise and worship for me so I could catch my breathe for a moment. Tracy and sis Loud did an excellent job. Thank you!

After our fellowship, I sang a few songs and the spirit came in the place like a rushing mighty wind. It took a few moments to calm things down so they could hear the Word of God.

We resumed our study in Psalms 23, here’s the sermon skeleton:

Topic: I’m Refreshed
Text: Psalms 23

Thesis: God, our Shepherd, will lead through dry places of life to a place of refreshment.

I. The Source of Refreshment – “He leads me”

- He leads us to SAVING Refreshment – John 4:10

- He leads us to SPIRITUAL Refreshment – John 7:37-39

- He leads us to SUSTAINED Refreshment – Revelations 7:17

II. The Continual Supply of Refreshment – “besides still waters”

- There’s a continued supply of refreshment in the Realities of Life – Waters, a symbol of distress – Isaiah 43:2

Point: Life is hard sometimes but God leads us through the hard times to inner peace and refreshment.

- There’s a continued supply of refreshment during the Transitions of Life Waters, a symbol of transition – Mark 4:35-41

Point: Life may take a turn for better or for worst but God controls it all

- There’s a continued supply of refreshment in the Stability of Life – Waters, a symbol of abundance - Psalms 1

Point: Life may try to dry you out but God has an abundant supply of grace for you to draw from

None was caught in the net but we did cast out the line. We saw new and repeated faces yesterday and that was refreshing.

Overall, a good day. This week will be long with meetings as well as with our BBQ fundraiser on Friday, August 28th, raising money for our building fund.

I am so tempted to write a post against “the gospel of inclusion” after watching the documentary on Carlton Pearson this past Saturday. For those reading this post please understand hell is real.

Until next keep smiling!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Use of Accompaniment Tracks in Worship

I was introduced to accompaniment tracks at my home church, Mt Sinai, during a time when we didn’t have musicians. My first accompaniment track song was “Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart” on a cassette tape. It was totally different. Different because it’s timed managed and no detours could be made without being a hot mess. If I remember correctly we used accompaniment tracks in worship for about 2 months before the church hired a musician. We didn’t like tracks much but we did what we had to do to have church.

When I got to First Goodwill, we didn’t have a musician so we started singing to accompaniment tracks. Again, it was different and cumbersome because we had to change the CD (or tape) for every new song we wanted to sing. If it was a tape, we had to make sure to fast forward to the right key or we’ll be singing the song too low or too high or with the demo version of the song. I placed a big boom box radio on the banister of the pulpit, with microphone in front, and CDs/tapes on the side. The appearance was totally ugly. People would walk through the door of the sanctuary and see all this mess next to the pulpit and the pastor playing DJ during praise/worship, fellowship, invitation, offering, and the benediction. At that time our sound system was terrible and we couldn’t hear transitions well. So we missed our queues and at times clapped off beat. It felt like UniverSoul Circus in our worship. All of this is going on in the middle of the service and before I preached. I was exhausted before preaching time. I’m surprised people kept coming every week.

I got frustrated after a while and we canned the usage of accompaniment tracks to hire a musician. Before long, money got tight and we could no longer pay a musician. So, I pulled out the accompaniment CDs/Tapes, boom box, and microphone. And we’re back at it again. WOW!

My use and appreciation for accompaniment tracks changed when a friend of mine from Nashville came to Cali to do a concert with his wife at a church in Bell Gardens. When I arrived to the church, the concert was in progress and it sound like a full band was playing. When got into the sanctuary they were singing to accompaniment tracks. They didn’t have a boom box with a microphone in front of it. They didn’t change CDs or Tapes every time they changed songs. They were having church to accompaniment tracks, unbelievable. I was totally impressed. When the concert was over I asked them to help me understand how they used accompaniment tracks. After that conversation, my opinion of using accompaniment tracks changed.

Since that time, we’ve used consistently accompaniment tracks in our worship service for the last 2+ years and in many ways perfected the use of them. I will admit that using accompaniment tracks in worship service has it’s limitations but I think there’s more positives than there is negatives. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a desire to hire musicians when I’m financially able to do so. But until then, accompaniment tracks are my friend.

I write this article as a music ministry aid for pastors and churches that cannot acquire a musician(s) and wonder what to do to enhance their worship service. In addition, there are other ministries who do use accompaniment tracks but struggle like I did with various challenges in using tracks.

Here are some suggestions and benefits for using accompaniment tracks in worship service.


Cost Effective: Many ministries, like ours, are not able to hire a musician at the cost of their worth. So, we settle for anything for the sake of having music in our worship services. However, using accompaniment tracks allows you an opportunity to wait until the ministry is ready to acquire a musician(s). You don’t have to settle for anything for the sake of having music in your worship service. I would rather wait until our ministry is financially able to hire a quality music staff that loves the Lord, anointed, and loves music to pay a decent salary. In the meantime, it’s much more cost effective to pay $10 for an accompaniment track than $150-$350/week for one musician. Add all other instruments and you will be paying upwards of $1000/week for musicians.

Time Management: Accompaniment tracks average time is 5-6 minutes. This helps in the timing of worship and cuts out a lot un-necessary reprises of songs. “But it doesn’t give time for the Holy Spirit to move in worship”, you may be saying. That’s not the issue. The Spirit of God will move in a worship service using an accompaniment track or full band. It does keep you from forcing the Spirit to move by singing the vamp over and over and over again to get the congregants to worship God. Forced worship can be frustrated worship!

Full Band: With an accompaniment track you get piano, drums, bass, guitar, and background singers if you desire to use them. The sound is awesome with all levels mixed just right making it easy on the ears of our members.

Church Participation: Many popular gospel songs are on accompaniment tracks much of which our members listen to on a regular basis. When they hear the familiar tune they’ll start singing because they recognize the melody as it is played on the radio or CD. It helps a praise team, worship leader, or even the pastor when the church participates in worship.

Travel: I use accompaniment tracks when I go places to sing an “A” selection in representing our church. A CD is all I need and fits in my suit pocket.


Plan Well: Just like anything else in ministry, you must plan well for accompaniment tracks to work. But with track you need to be intentional in your planning. In conjunction with our sound engineer, we prepare a list of songs to play during the worship service. This allows us the opportunity to keep the service flowing without any dead time. Lately, we’ve played tracks of songs that the members know during the invitation, offering, and invocation. Again, when members recognize the music they automatically start singing the song.

Make a CD Compilation: I’ve made a number disc of all our favorite songs. This eliminates the hassle of changing CDs for the next song you want to sing. I’m in the process of making special CDs for praise/worship, invitation, offering, and fellowship time. This eliminates the hassle of CD changing as well as creates a more consistent flow.

Rehearse: Make sure you rehearse the song to familiarize yourself with chord transitions and chorus changes. While the music sounds like the album, it does change, especially, if the CD was a live recording. Don’t expect it to be like the original album.

Purchase a DI box and cord: I stated earlier in this article that my friend from Nashville did a concert using a CD player with direct box and cord to run the music through the house speakers and monitors. By doing it this way, you and the audience can hear the music. I think overall I spent less than $100 for this equipment and it can work with any sound system. Anyone can run this system even the pastor if need be. I eliminated the ugly appearance of a boom box sitting on the banister. If you have a sound system with a CD changer, use it (if possible).

Use MP3 player or IPOD: Many tracks can be purchased through download of the internet onto an MP3 player or IPOD. These to technologies can also be played through your sound system using a direct box and cord.

Create a Catalog: Create for yourself a catalog of tracks to prevent double purchasing.

Accompaniment track purchase: You can purchase accompaniment tracks from your local bookstore. Many bookstores have a machine that holds 5000+ songs and can be download while you wait. You can one websites like to purchase tracks. I’ve contacted gospel artist that I liked and asked them to purchase a copy of their album instrumentals. I already have the lyrics I need the music to sing to. I have not been turned down yet and still within my budget.

I believe music is a vital part of the worship experience. Unfortunately, many churches are not able to pay for musicians, especially during this terrible economy times. But that doesn’t mean your worship service can’t have praise/worship with music. Think outside the box and get creative until the Lord blesses your church financially to hire a music staff.

We live in an age of technology with many options to accommodate our love for music in the worship experience. Use it and don’t be afraid.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why I'm Baptist

Why I’m Baptist

A few months ago, I made a decision to drop “Missionary Baptist” out of our church’s name on all advertisement material. For some of my members, it’s a big deal and for others it’s not. My reasoning was to create an open door when sharing our church to other people. When people think of the Baptist denomination they think of tradition, boring, and unprogressive. All of which I think is a matter of opinion and preference.

During my basketball season this year, one of my teammates asked for information regarding our church. I gave him a card which stated “First Goodwill Church”. He then proceeded to ask; “What kind of church is this?” I knew what he was asking but I asked; “What do you mean?” His response was “Is it a Baptist church?” I told him yes and based on his facial expression, I immediately went into defense mode pleading a defense case for our “Baptist Church”.

On another occasion, I was on the parking lot of our church campus when a lady came and asked what type of church is this? I told her; “We’re Baptist.” She says “Oh!” and walked away.

There’s been many other instances where in conversations, participating in or hearing, that paints a negative picture of the Baptist denomination. One of the words many people are using now when discussing church ministry is progressive. And when discussing a progressive ministry, they question rather or not the Baptist denomination is a progressive denomination. We have seen among our Baptist peers a compromising of the Word of God, which dictates our practice, in an effort to be a progressive ministry (Whatever that means). Do we measure the progress of a church, regardless of denomination, based on practice or kingdom building by winning souls to Christ and building fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ? Should we compromise our denomination affiliation in order to reach people? Are we trying to reach people for Christ or for the church to increase numbers?

Over my life time, I’ve had the opportunity to minister and be a member in many different denominations other than Baptist. My experiences have been bitter-sweet no matter what the denomination. I’ve seen a little church fighting, tradition, adultery, stealing, homosexuality/lesbianism, loud colored suits, diamonds on every finger, divorce, re-marriage, child abuse, child molestation, and just about whatever else you can think of in my experiences that was not isolated to the Baptist church.

The question I asked myself when writing this article is “Clint, why write about this? What is your purpose and mission?” I write this article as a declaration to say; “I’m proud to be Baptist!” There’s nothing wrong with the Baptist church. We have church just like everybody else and good church. We worship and praise God in spirit and in truth. The spirit dwells in the Baptist church. The word of God is preached with power and conviction in the Baptist church. We have good singers, musicians, choirs, praise teams, ministry programs, and outreach programs. I’m proud to be Baptist.

Secondly, I write to help others understand that we do have purpose and meaning. A few years ago, I was in my office speaking with a friend who came from Covenant Worship Center and decided that he wanted to change his membership to First Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church. As we were talking, I shared with him my 5 year preaching/teaching plan as well as our 10 year vision plan. His response: “I thought Baptist did what they wanted to do without prayerful planning in preaching and goal setting”. My defense antennas went up but then I thought this is the best time to show him a different side of our denomination to clear the negative cloud in his mind about our denomination. I told him these words; “From a preaching a stand-point, I study hard. The Holy Spirit speaks to me before I get to the pulpit not while I’m standing at the pulpit. Secondly, I spend time in prayer with God to follow His leading through the Holy Spirit in goal setting for the church. The Lord leads us and guides us along the way”. I don’t know if it helped him but it did feel good explaining our purpose.

During that conversation I proceeded to share the Baptist Lifestyle statement that explains in detail why we do what we do. I’m sharing it in this article as well with prayerful hopes that those reading will have a better understanding of our denomination.

Beliefs are not worth much unless they are translated into actions. Based on what the Bible teaches, we feel very strongly about the following seven practices:

Bible As Our Sole Authority
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,..." 2 Timothy 3:16

Since God's Word is the only completely reliable and truthful authority, we accept the Bible as our manual for living. Our first question when faced with a decision is "What does the Bible say?" We practice daily Bible reading, Bible study, and Bible memorization. The Bible is the basis for all we believe.

Autonomy of Each Local Church
"And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy." Colossians 1:18

Christ is the recognized head of our church, not any person, group, or religious organization. While recognizing the value of associating and cooperating with other groups of Christians, we believe every local church should be self-governing and independent from any denominational control. In relating to our "daughter churches" that we sponsor, we encourage each congregation to determine it's own strategy, structure, and style.

Priesthood of Every Believer
"...and He has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father;..." Revelation 1:6a "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light;..." 1 Peter 2:9

The Bible teaches that every Christian is called to "full time" Christian service, regardless of his or her vocation. We practice the truth that every believer is a minister by encouraging every member to find a place of service and ministry. Every believer has direct access to God through prayer and Bible reading.

"A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD." Leviticus 27:30

At First Goodwill we practice tithing for the support of Christ's body, the church, as God commands. We recognize that giving 10% of our income is the Biblical standard of giving.

Immersion Baptism
"...having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead." Colossians 2:12

We practice baptism by immersion under water - the way Jesus was baptized, and the way the Bible commands.

Spirit-Led Living
(Jesus said), "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

We believe the only way possible to live the Christian life is by God's power within us. So we seek to practice a daily dependence on God's Spirit to enable us to do what is right. (Phil. 2:13; Eph. 5:18)

Telling Others About Christ
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15

It is the responsibility of every Christian to share the Good News with those with whom God brings us into contact. We practice personal sharing about Christ and inviting friends to church.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area please come visit First Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church at 6900 South Compton Ave in Los Angeles, Ca 90001.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday Thoughts - 8/15/09

Church was ok, yesterday. Glad to have been able minister the word but it seemed like we needed an extra push into worship but I just didn’t have in me yesterday to do it. So we flowed with the service, as is.

I took a detour from our Psalms 23 study. “He leads me beside still waters” has given me some challenging thoughts that came out of my observation of the text and I need to wrestle with it more before communicating it. We preach no sermon before its time. So in my prayer time Saturday, I was led to preach on “Trusting God to Grow Our Church”. Hey, I just realized something while writing, every sermon series and/or title this year has been dealing with “Trusting God” coincidence or divine providence??????????

Here’s the outline to the sermon:

Topic: Trusting God To Grow Our Church
Text: Selected Scriptures

Thesis: Only God can grow a church!

Transitional Sentence: Trusting God to grow our church requires we follow God’s plan for growing a church.

I. Focus on the Priority of Growing A Church – Matthew 28:18-20

II. Follow the Principles For Growing A Church – Acts 2:42-47

III. Faithfully Practice the Power Unto Church Growth, Prayer – 1 Timothy 2:1-4

IV. Finally, Resolve to Wait Patiently on God to Grow the Church – 1 Corinthians 3:6

I think the best description for our service yesterday would be “A Glorify New Members Class”. We’re seeing new faces and some former members have returned but do not know my thoughts about ministry and church practice. This was my attempt to share my heart for ministry in doing it God’s way.

After church, we gave Aysia a 16th birthday party. We cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned all weekend trying to get ready only for the house to get dirty all over again! It was cool seeing her track team and friends come over to the house to celebrate her birthday (her birthday is actually this Wednesday). I grilled all day long and my feet still hurt.

Some members of the church came over to hang out with pastor and family. I asked for their forgiveness because I wasn’t playing gospel music. I played oldies like The O’Jays, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Maysa, Guy, as well as jazz. When “those teenagers” showed up, they wanted that rap stuff. I know some of it so I governed most of it.

Tracy worked her tail off to put this party on for Aysia. She is a good mother to my kids. The food was good but I did burn some of it. This was my first grilling skewers and you have to babysit that. Once I did get it, watch out, it was on and cracking.

Yesterday was different kind of day but a good day nonetheless.

Deacon Loud is doing much better. He’s home and back in good spirits, praise God. Please continue pray him and Sis Loud for continued strength and recovery.

I'm not into golf but I can't believe Tiger Woods lost.

That’s it, that’s all, peace!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Can Rest Peacefully" Manuscript

Series: The God of Our Trust
Jehovah-Roi – God, Our Shepherd
Mini-Series: Trusting God Our Shepherd
(An Exposition of Psalms 23)
“I can rest peacrfully”
Psalms 23:2a – “He makes lie down in green pastures”

The testimony of David is powerful. Verse 1 sets the tone for the rest of this precious Psalms; “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not. After verse 1, David begins to outline for us the loving care of the shepherd.

The beauty of the Psalms is that David communicates to us through his personal testimony some guaranteed promises for the sheep. David says now that I’ve declared my satisfaction in the Shepherd, now, let me tell you why I’m satisfied. The first guarantee for every believer is this; “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”.

What a word of comfort and encouragement, especially, in times in a world filled with so much unrest.

In 1933 Gerhard Von Rad aptly observed that among the many benefits of redemption offered to man by Scripture, that of rest has been overlooked in biblical theology.

Not only has rest been overlooked in biblical theology but it is overlooked in personal practice. Many people survive off 4-6 hours of rest on a daily basis. Many people search for peaceful rest through Nyquil, alcohol, drugs, sleeping pills, tea, and Thera-flu, only to discover a lack of refreshment the next morning.

The tragedy of Michael Jackson’s life is that he left too soon trying to find rest in prescription drugs that ultimately took his life. His story was tragic but many of us still look for rest in all the wrong places.

Restlessness, stain, toil, the daily grind, anxiety, worry, nervousness, tension, and distress zap our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual vitality.

Restlessness results in physical, emotional, and spiritual burnout. Have you ever been so exhausted that mentally you can’t think straight, physically, you couldn’t find the right position to sleep right, and spiritually, you couldn’t hear the voice of God clearly? Restlessness causes you to make the wrong decisions in life. Restlessness makes a person mean and evil. Restlessness causes ineffectiveness in life’s responsibilities. Restlessness causes short-temperedness. Restlessness causes a person to be un-productive.

I think you get the picture now…

However, what we must remember, realize, recognize, and understand is that apart from God no one can nor will find peaceful rest. Rest is freedom from work, toil, strain, or activity. Rest is the cessation of motion or action of any kind, and applicable to any body or being, rest from labor, rest from mental exertion or rest of body or mind. Rest is freedom from anxiety or disturbance. To rest is to dispose oneself at ease in order to relieve or avoid fatigue.

In a spiritual sense, rest means to cease from one’s work as a way of release from life’s strains and toils. The only way to experience spiritual rest is through the rest that only Christ, our Shepherd, can provide.

Understanding the significance of rest is to understand the character of sheep. Sheep are needy creatures who don’t know how to care for themselves. So much so that David praises God for being able to provide rest for all of us who are restless.

John Walvoord writes that...
"Sheep are utterly dependent upon the shepherd for almost everything pertaining to their well-being. Only as sheep are willing to follow Christ will they find their complete spiritual needs supplied.

Green pastures and quiet waters are mentioned first because they are priority needs of the sheep if they are to survive and grow. The idea here is "He makes me rest".

The 1st guaranteed provisional care of the shepherd is communicated to us today to place our trust in the Shepherd for the rest of our lives, why, because;

Only God, our Shepherd, can give you complete and peaceful rest!

Let’s pull back the covers on this text to discover the provision of rest provided to us by the Shepherd of our souls:

I. The Sovereignty of God’s Rest

I struggled with this text, somewhat, because of the words, “He makes me…”

I questioned the statement trying to understand what it means to say “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”. Does God force us to lay down like an angry parent? Does He hold us tight and shake us hard to make us go to sleep?

Has a little a boy I remember an occasion of “She made me to lie down in the bed”.

I grew up in a house with 4 boys and 1 sister. You can just about imagine the chaos our house had each and every day. My sister is the youngest, so she and my younger brother got away with murder. My other two brothers and myself were always in trouble. I’ll never forget, we were in the house being mischievous, playing with matches. It was in the middle of the day and we decided to setup camp in the living room of our house. We got blankets and sticks to make a tent. We got sleeping bags to place in the tent. We got food, hot dogs and marshmallows, to place in the tent. We made homemade lemonade to drink. We were ready for our in-house camping trip in the living room. One problem, we can’t have a camping trip with a camp fire to roast our hot dogs and marshmallows.

We got a plastic trashcan, filled it with paper, lit a match, and there was our fire to roast marshmallows and hot dogs. When the hot dogs started to cook real good the hot dogs began to release oily juices igniting our fire to a greater temperature. In addition to this fire we created was the fiery presence of our mother who got home earlier than normal this particular day. She called and said she was on her home and all of our chores better be done or we couldn’t go outside. We put out the fire, broke down our campground, and started spraying air freshener all through the house to get rid of the smoke smell.

When she got home, before entering the house, she yelled; “Who’s been in here playing with fire?” We all got quiete and wouldn’t say a word. We learned that it really didn’t matter who did it because all of us were going to get it anyway. And sure enough the instructions were given to get the belt and we got our spanking followed by these words, “Got to bed and don’t come out until I wake you up!”

I wonder is that what David meant when he says “He makes me lie to down in green pastures”. I don’t know but there is a level of Sovereignty involved in our resting times. Here’s the point: God controls our times of rest, either voluntary or involuntary. His sovereign control of our resting times are seen:

- Through the Implementation of the Sabbath – Genesis 2:1-3 “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. [2] And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. [3] Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

Exodus 20:8-11: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days you shall labor and do all your work, [10] but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. [11] For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

I don’t have time to go through fully all ramifications behind the Sabbath so let me quickly give you the interpretation scripture is tailored to teach us about the importance of the Sabbath:

“Rest is important to God, take time to rest!”

- Through the invitation of Christ – Matthew 11:25-30

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) - Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [29] Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

- Through the Inclination of our Bodies – In a more practical explanation of the text, here’s the point, our bodies need to rest and often times will shut down for mandatory rest. Many people feel guilty for resting. They fell unproductive because they laid around and did nothing. However, there’s a practical theological principle worth noting here; It’s ok to be lazy sometimes!

II. The Surety of Given Rest

Point: God assures us of permanent rest through salvation

A cross reference to this phrase is Hebrews chapter 3 & 4 which speaks of rest in the three (3) tense of salvation: past, present, and future rest.

A. Salvation Rest - Hbr 3:7-11; 18 – 4:1-2 - Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice, "do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, "where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works "for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways. "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"… And to whom did he swear Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

God saves you to rest!

Salvation rest is associated with placing one’s faith in Christ. In the text of this thesis written by the unknown writer of Hebrews, it appears to the primary meaning, that is, of coming to Jesus by faith and entering His rest where self effort is replaced by initiated and empowered effort.

Warren Wiersbe offers the following interpretation of the concept of rest in Hebrews 3 & 4:

Spiritual rest is found in Jesus Christ when we surrender to Him. When we come to Christ be faith, we find salvation rest. When we yield and learn of Him and obey Him by faith, we enjoy rest. The first is peace with God (Romans 5:1) and the second is peace of God (Phil. 4:6). It is by believing that we enter into rest (Hebrews 4:3).

B. Sanctified Rest - Hbr 4:3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. Hbr 4:4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works." Hbr 4:5 And again in this passage he said, "They shall not enter my rest." Hbr 4:3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. Hbr 4:4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works." Hbr 4:5 And again in this passage he said, "They shall not enter my rest."

God sanctifies us for continued rest!

Sanctified rest is for believers who are living their Christian life in the power of the Spirit by keeping short account, and thus experiencing peace of God. Ray Stedman in his sermon; “The Rest Obtained Is New Creation Rest”, says; “Those who have entered salvation rest be faith have experienced breakdown in their Christianity under the pressures of stress and/or responsibility because they try to work out their salvation in their own power. Sanctified rest allows the believer to rest in the power of God’s grace that works best in our weakness.

C. Glorified Rest - Hbr 4:11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

God glorifies us unto permanent rest

We don’t have to go far to see glorified rest because verse 6 of Psalms 23 says; “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.

Glorified rest is a reward of the believer’s labor for the Lord. Paul says; “I’ve fought the good fight, I kept the faith, now is laid up for me crown in glory”. Praise that we may not experience full satisfaction in rest down here but soon and very soon we will experience rest everlasting when we see Jesus in heaven.

III. The Sufficiency of Green Pastures

What are the "green pastures"? Although, we cannot be dogmatic, surely this picture includes the nourishment found in the Word of God (cf Jer 15:16 ) which alone satisfies the Good Shepherd's flock. As the Good Shepherd of the sheep He meets every need of His flock (Php 4:19note), and there is no want to those who trust him. When we follow the Shepherd closely, His will and desires will become our will and desires. We can trust the Good Shepherd to be consistent with His own nature. As someone has well said, the "Secret" of growing in grace is to be like a sheep & to FILL UP, LIE DOWN & RUMINATE (Meditate) A hungry, ill fed sheep is ever on its feet, on the move, searching for another scanty mouthful of forage to try and satisfy its gnawing hunger. Such sheep are not contented, do not thrive & are no use to themselves nor to their owners. They languish and lack vigor and vitality. Can we not see the clear spiritual application? ARE YOU RESTING IN THE PRESENCE OF THE SHEPHERD OR RESTLESS BECAUSE YOU'RE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR GREENER PASTURES of INFERIOR FORAGE?

Point: God provides peaceful rest through His Word

Say what you want about sheep as being dumb and stupid, there is one characteristic of sheep that we must give them credit for; “When led to green pastures, at least, they have sense enough to nibble unto their bellies are full”.

Many believers are spiritually hungry and can’t rest because they refuse to nibble on the green pastures of God’s word.

The green pastures of a rural beauty expands before us. We see a happy flock resting in calm quietness in fields rich in luxuriant plenty; we see them guided to meadows through which refreshing streams glide tranquility. The scene is perfect and nothing disturbs the calm enjoyment.

The believer’s soul is secure from all alarms, peaceful in knowledge of the Lord’s protection, feasting on the rich provision of God’s word, regaled with sustaining promises, nurtured by the Spirit’s rich supplies, reposing under the shadow of the cross, drinking the cooling streams of scriptural teaching. How ample is this sweet provision?

Laying down in green pastures is resting in God’s word that provides all we need to rest in life’s difficulties.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunday Thoughts - 8/9/09

What a week!

Let me start by saying, “Thank You Lord for holding me up last week and this weekend”. The week started with concern because Deacon Loud went into the hospital with breathing problems that was pretty serious. I got the call on Monday night and stayed up all night tossing and turning. On Tuesday, after work, Tracy and I went to the hospital to visit Deacon Loud. When we arrived, Rod, a member of Mt Sinai was there with his dying father. I didn’t see him but he saw Tracy and I walking down the aisle. After a brief greeting, he broke down in tears and told me what was going on. I prayed with him and Tracy held him. He went back to his father’s room and we started our visit with Deacon Loud. To keep it short, thank God for His healing virtue. Deacon Loud is doing much better now. He went home on yesterday breathing on his own. Thank You, Lord!

We had bible study on Wednesday night and Thursday thru Saturday was the “One Voice Conference” held by Darnell Davis and The Remnant. This young adult group is awesome. Tracy and I heard them a couple of years at a CD release party for my big sis Shervonne Wells and then again at my big bro’s, Bishop Kenny Wells, birthday bash last December. But to see them in action before the service was a blessing. I did everything I could to hold my composure as I was there as a sound tech but the worshipper inside of me wanted to have church during rehearsals and at the concert. I have come to understand that the church of Jesus Christ has gifted men and women. Jamelle Jones wrote a song, Rain On Me (I think was the title), that ministered to me during the rehearsal. Man, this young man is gospel music’s next Donald Lawrence. Tony Jones is a worshipping musician/songwriter. He blessed me with a worship song he wrote and the GMWA did a melody of Thomas Whitfield songs. Boy, it was awesome! I grew on Thomas Whitfield and enoyed every minute of their singing. Darnell Davis is gifted. What I like about all the musicians, songwriters, and singers was their humility. There was no big I and little you. The atmosphere was one voice. Praise God.

Each night last week, I think got home around 11 pm. Just enough time to walk through the door eat, shower, kiss Tracy, and go to sleep. I didn’t get home Saturday until Sunday morning at 12:30 am, only to get back up at 5 am to finish my work for Sunday morning’s assignment, Trusting God Our Shepherd (An Exposition of Psalms 23). Our Topic: “I can rest peacefully” – He makes me lie down in green pastures. I didn’t get to record the service because my sound tech in training, Myles, spent the weekend at his uncle’s house with his cousins. I will post manuscript tomorrow on and on my blog.

I was extremely tired Sunday. Tracy led praise/worship to give me time to settle down. However, as God would have it, I gained more and more strength as I continued to preach. Thank you Lord for strength!

When church was over, I went home to rest and Tracy, Aysia, and Kari went to the movies. I ate my dinner from my favorite soul food restaurant, Nelly’s and went to sleep.

Yesterday, I was going to go to work but still felt extremely tired. So, I took a vacation day. We have a youth workshop going on this week at the church given by the City of Los Angeles, training at-risk young adults on job interviewing and resume writing. We brokdown the sanctuary and turned it into a classroom. Thank you Lord for flexibility!

Tracy and I ran a few errands and I was done for the rest of the day.

You know, there’s nothing but junk on TV during the day. So, I watched Divorce Court, Blind Date, That’s My Momma, Sanford and Son, Good Times, Martin, Sugar Hill, The T.O. Show, Real Chance of Love 2, The Revolutionist on Muhammad Ali (interesting), and Johnson’s Family Vacation.

Now, at work ready for a full day. Peace and blessings.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

He Influenced My Life

On Sunday before church started, my mother came into church with some of my childhood pictures. Of course as mothers do so often, she showed them to all the members before letting me see them. When I finally did get them I went in my office and started to glance through them. And there it was a picture of me, my dog (I can’t remember his name), and my “Pa Pa”.

I didn’t have a chance to look long before having to pray before going into service. But after church, I looked at that picture again and started to reminisce about my days as a young kid sitting on the porch with my “Pa Pa”. The summation of my memories is simple, “He influenced my life tremendously”.

There was no doubt in my mind that he loved me like his own son. I remember our talks on the porch, the spankings that were always coupled with ‘This is going to hurt me as much as it hurts you”, our fishing trips, his BBQ sauce (which I make to this day), his hard work as a self learned mechanic, his work in the church as a deacon, his love for his wife and family, and most of all he love God. My Pa Pa loved the Lord with all his heart. He couldn’t read or write but he knew the Bible.

As a kid, I would sit on the porch with him from sun up to sun down and we would talk about everything. I was a little kid with kid conversation but he made me feel like I was a grown man. When he worked in the garage, I was there handing him his tools and on occasion changing a screw. When he would BBQ, I was there watching him make the sauce. He told me don’t give this recipe to anyone other than your grandson, God willing. So, I guess Lil Jimmy is in line for the secret recipe. When he went to church and bible study, I was there sitting next to him or standing next to him while he did devotion. He taught me more than this blog will allow me to write. But the best thing he taught me was to love God with my heart, mind, and soul. He wasn’t a very affectionate person but I knew he loved me because he showed it in other ways, like working hard for his family and always being there as a supporter of our endeavors. I know for a fact that this is where I get it from. I’m not an affectionate person in communicating my love but I do work hard and try to be a supporter of family/friends. Thanks, Pa Pa.

When I turned 6 years old, he would always say to me; “Clint, God has a call on your life like no other get ready for it”. I never knew what he meant because I was a kid who didn’t understand God’s will for a person’s life. Plus, all I wanted to do was play basketball.

We moved to Los Angeles and I received my call to ministry at 13. The first person I spoke to about my call was my pastor and the second person was my Pa Pa. When I told him of my call he said; “Clint, I told you God had a call on your life like no other and to get ready for it”. He prayed one of the most powerful prayers ever for me over the phone. We both cried and hung up the phone.

When we moved back to Texas, he was always there for me when I preached, sung a song, had a basketball game, cried because of peer pressure (people calling me a church boy), needed someone to talk too, and when I had my Jonah moments running from my ministry call, he was there for me. He would always remind; “Clint, remember God’s will for your life and don’t let people make you miss what God has called you to do.”

I left Texas in 1985 to come back to Los Angeles with my mother and siblings. My Pa Pa and I would talk just about every other day. His wisdom was priceless and tried to soak it all up.

My last physical contact with my Pa Pa was, I believe, 2000. We had a family reunion in my hometown of San Angelo, Texas and someone purchased me a ticket to come preach the weekend services. There were so many obstacles trying to prevent me from getting to Texas that I almost didn’t go. I’m glad I did. When I got to my grandparents house, I ran to his room as he laid in an hospital bed. I went in and sat beside his bed and we started talking like the old days. Due to his stroke, he couldn’t speak much but he understood every word I said to him. And then it happened, he spoke a few words to me; “Clint, don’t forget your calling!” My family ran into the room speechless because these were the first words he spoke in months. We all prayed and cried together. I preached like a maniac that night because all could hear is my Pa Pa’s words; “Clint, don’t forget you calling!” That trip changed my life and it was worth the struggle trying to get there.

When he passed, I couldn’t get to Texas but I was cool with it. I cherish the time we had and the time he lived. I thank him for influencing my life to be the man I’ve become. I hold on to his words; “As a man you will make mistakes. Be a man and learn from them to become a better man” – Quote by my Pa Pa.

I miss him dearly and when I get to heaven I want to hear God say; “Servant, well done!” But then I want to hear my Pa Pa say; “Clint, I’m proud of you!”

Thank you Pa Pa for influencing my life and I hope I’ve made you proud.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunday Thoughts - 8/2/09

We had a wonderful time in worship on yesterday. Service started out a little late but good start. Good praise/worship, good attendance, good offering, good word, summary good everything. I continued our study in Psalms 23 with the “B” clause of verse 1:

Topic: I’m Satisfied with God Alone
Text: Psalms 23:1b

Theme: Contentment (Cross Reference: Philippians 4:10-13; 19)

Thesis: God, our Shepherd, knows how to supply our every need.

Here in this powerful declaration of David, there are three observations of content living in the divine providential care of the Shepherd.

I. The Dangers Preventing Satisfaction

A. Complaining – Numbers 11:1 – Complaining is a slap in God face

B. Covetousness – Hebrews 13:5 – Covetousness is chasing a shadow of better things

C. Comparison – Measuring blessings against someone else’s blessings

D. Concern about Tomorrow (Worry) – Matthew 6:25-34 – Worry is a lack of confidence in God’s daily provisions

How do we fight against these dangers?

A. Prayer – Philippians 4:6-7

B. Thankfulness – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

II. The Decision to be Satisfied

Point: Living content depends solely on you

a. Living content is a learned way of living – Philippians 4:11
b. Living content is a confident way of living – Philippians 4:12
c. Living content is a consistent way of living – Philippians 4:13

III. The Delight of Being Satisfied

A. God never runs out of resources – Philippians 4:19a

B. God is able to meet every need – Philippians 4:19 b

Good message but still haven’t gotten used to A/C blowing in my mouth so I keep getting choked up. That’s a good thing because I didn’t have A/C last year. Praise God.

This week is going to be pretty busy for me with work. We have the “One Voice Conference” with Darnell Davis and The Remnant this Thursday and Friday and musical will be Saturday. All services start at 7 pm. We have to prepare for a youth workshop next week Monday thru Thursday for the city of Los Angeles. I have to prepare to preach. I’ve been doing my best to make sure I set time aside for my study. So far so good!

I’m looking forward to my study on verse 2 of Psalms 23: He makes me to lie down in green pastures. God bless my study time!

I will post sermon audio later today on our website