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Monday, March 28, 2011

Should a Small Church Disband

Monday, March 14, 2011

68th Church Anniversary Recap

This past weekend, our church celebrated 68 years of God’s faithfulness to our ministry. We started on Friday night with a comedy show with some of the best comedians in the area (Sista Merry, Tyree Moorehead, Cizzle C, Six Foota Simm, Aaron Edwards, Sis Canteloupe, and Barry Brewer). We laughed from start to finish. Our judges were my big brother and sister Bishop Kenneth and Shervonne Wells and my friend pastor Reginald Payne. Tracy did a wonderful job decorating the sanctuary and the membership stepped up to serve all of our guest. The jokes were hilarious. Thank you to everyone who attended and participated we really appreciate it.

Saturday was cleanup….a lot of work but we got it done to prepare for Sunday morning worship. Aysia had her 1st track meet at Artesia High School. She did a good job in the high jump and long jump.

Sunday I took a break from our series in Philippians and preached Psalms 67 – “Blessed To Reach The World”.

Sermon Theme: This Psalms is evangelistic in nature and the natural response towards the blessing of salvation is “Let the peoples praise Him, let all the peoples praise Him” – v. 3

This Psalms provides four (4) reasons why we’re blessed to reach the world.

i. God’s Favor is upon us – v. 1
ii. God’s Ways are for us – v. 2a
iii. God’s Salvation is available to all of us – v. 2b
iv. God’s Praise is to be declared forever – v. 3-6

I pray all in attendance were blessed by the message!

The afternoon service went great. Tracy led worship and did a great job! Our guest churches were Pastor Michael Albert and Mt Aaron Church along with Pastor Todd Barnett and my nephew Pastor Louis Monroe and the Word of God Baptist Church. Pastor Monroe preached from Psalms 23 “What God Does when Life Hurts” but before he preached his father big Louis played “Blessed Assurance” on the organ and killed us. That man is a true church musician of which we don’t have many of these days. It was good seeing a friend I haven’t seen in years, Matt Falkner, who plays for Word of God. I started remembering our days at Mt Sinai and almost got on the drums to bring back old times but I held my peace.

My mother and aunty, “The Mothers of Judah Dance Ministry”, surprised the heck out of us with their mixing of the Cha-Cha and line dancing to gospel music. It was different and fresh to see seniors get their groove on. But I’m sure they were hurting by the end of the night…lol Great Job! We did a special tribute for a dear member, Sis Georgia Loud, who recently became ill. We just wanted to say thank you to her for all of her service over the years to the First Goodwill Church. Emotions ran high has Tracy and Sadie began talking about her and what she means to them. It’s been hard as a pastor and for the church to see her and her husband sick but has been gracious to the both of them and for that I thank God.

Last Wednesday, we as a church committed to fasting and prayer from 6 to 6 for the sole purpose of asking God to restore the joy of our salvation for effective ministry and mission advancement. I felt the help of fasting this past Sunday as I preached and decided to fast every Wednesday until Resurrection Sunday (Easter Sunday).

Overall the weekend was good!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Does Anyone Fast

Do ordinary, busy Christians fast anymore?

That was the question that popped into the mind of our board of elders chairman. Pastor mentioned fasting in a sermon, and now the lay leader was getting practical: "What about it?" Should we-a large, modem church in a Minneapolis suburb take fasting seriously?"

John Wesley once said, "Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregard it". we certainly knew which category we were. So we did what any group of uneasy churchmen would do: we referred the matter to the discipleship ministry team for further study.

In a matter of weeks, a board member presented a report that didn't let us off the hook at all. He noted, among other things that:

  • Fast and other forms of the word are used 78 times in Scripture.
  • Moses, David, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, Jesus, Anna, the disciples of John the Baptist, Paul, Barnabas, and others all fasted
  • Jesus seemed to think of giving, praying, and fasting as a trio of spiritual disciplines in Matthew 6:1-18
  • There are 4 reasons to fast: (1) to better focus the mind on God; (2) to share, in some small measure. God's own grief over sin; (3) to turn attention away from material needs toward the One who supplies all; (4) to intensify our praying.

The final conclusion is that fasting is a biblical teaching and should be practiced among all Christ followers.

Guidelines for fasting

1. Reach a personal conviction on the subject through a careful biblical study

2. Make sure you are medically able to fast before attempting it

3. Enter with a positive faith that God will reward those who fast with the right motives

4. Begin with short fasts and gradually move to larger periods of time

5. Be prepared for some dizziness, headache, or nausea in the early going

6. Mix your prayer time with Scripture reading and singing or devotional reading

7. Keep checking your motives during the fast

8. Break a prolonged fast graduall with meals that are light and easy to digest.

(This is an excerpt from "Fresh Ideas for Discipleship & Nurture written by Clyde B. McDowell - Associate pastor of pastoral care, Wooddale Church in Richfield, Minnesota)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, and more Decisions

This past Lord’s Day I preached a message on A Biblical Perspective for Decision-making. I originally intended explore this topic by looking at various passages of scriptures but then landed on Philippians 1:26-27:

If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

I got stuck on “I am hard pressed between the two”. Paul has a dilemma he’s dealing with, to die or continue on living to follow God’s plan for his life.

I too am faced with decisions, decisions, and more decisions. In a survey, pastors who said they made no tough decisions during a year were more likely to be fired than pastors who could identify such decisions. Pastors willing to face decisions last longer.

Yet longevity is not the only indicator of fallout from making or not making difficult decisions. There are other, less obvious factors. To identify those, one survey asked a series of questions about the toll risky decisions take on the leaders’ personal well-being, their ministry effectiveness, and their families.

The good news from the survey results is that when a tough decision is over, most of the pastors who stayed and even those who leave see benefits from the process they have been through.

Surprisingly, tough decisions cost pastors who stayed more personal pain than those who were forced to leave. Most pastors who stayed after a tough decision said the process took a toll on their physical, mental, and emotional health. Ministry decisions take a toll on everyone in the pastor’s household, no matter what the outcome of the decision. Ministerial effectiveness, as perceived by the pastor involved, always suffer. During tough decision-making many pastors recognized that a church in pain cannot serve as well as a church in good health.

Some of the recommendations offered in my message (of which many of them I didn’t get too) were:

1. Pray before you decide

2. Study Scripture for a clear understanding of God’s will for your life

3. Seek godly counsel from those you can trust

4. Check your motives by asking yourself tough questions and be honest with yourself when answering the questions

5. Try plan for the outcome of decision being made

6. Take your time but don’t wait too long

7. Pray before you decide