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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

There is a God

For the past few weeks while getting ready for work I’ve been watching my 2nd season of Good Times DVD set. I loved this show as a kid and I still love it has an adult. While watching shows back-to-back, there was one episode that I’ve watched over and over again but never really paid close attention to…..”One Nation Under God”.

This episode deals with Michael receiving the highest honor in high school to lead the “Pledge of Allegiance” in an assembly. It was such an honor that his mother, Florida and close Wilona, was shopping for something to wear during the assembly. JJ and Thelma are home. JJ is cleaning after losing a bet to Thelma and is now her servant for one week. He starts to cleaning Michael’s drawer only to find a letter addressed to Florida that he will not lead “The Pledge of Allegiance” during the assembly due to his belief.

When Florida returns from shopping, JJ hides the letter in her apron for which she request to start preparing dinner. After a while, Florida notices Thelma movements as she is pointing to the letter in Florida’s apron alerting JJ to grab it. TOOOOO late! Florida sees the letter and reads it. Of course she’s disappointed at the note informing her that her son will not lead the “Pledge of Alliance” during the assembly due to his belief.

When Michael comes home, naturally Florida wants to know what happened and why he’s not leading the “Pledge of Allegiance”. Michael’s response startles Florida as he tells her that he doesn’t believe in the statement….”One nation under God”. As far as he was concerned there is no God because his employer Mr Dickson says…”God doesn’t exist”. Florida tries to convince her son that God does exist and that he needs to acknowledge God’s existence. But stubborn Michael holds to he’s convinced of by Mr Dickson that “God doesn’t exist”.

I don’t have time to go through the entire episode (you can watch it when you get a chance). However, at the end of the episode Michael gets fired from his job because of his mother and convinced by Mr Dickson that he doesn’t have to believe what he believes. If God exists to him then he should believe that God exists.

What a noble move of Mr Dickson but reality is that there are many people within our society who says “God doesn’t exist!” As a matter of fact, my boss is adamant about not believing in God and doesn’t mind saying it openly and argumentative. I have on some cases tried to defend the reality that God does exist without being argumentative with my boss. Honestly, I thank God I’m still working. I’ve learned for sure that if take care of God’s business He will take care of your business.

I write this blog as an open conviction that I do believe God exists. One of the questions in the Good Time’s episode that Mr Dickson had for Florida is “How do you know God exists”. This a theological question demanding a theological answer for which Florida did not provide. So let me answer it in this blog….

The existence of God cannot be proved or disproved. The Bible says that we must accept by faith the fact that God exists: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). If God so desired, He could simply appear and prove to the whole world that He exists. But if He did that, there would be no need for faith. “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:29).

That does not mean, however, that there is no evidence of God’s existence. The Bible states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). Looking at the stars, understanding the vastness of the universe, observing the wonders of nature, seeing the beauty of a sunset—all of these things point to a Creator God. If these were not enough, there is also evidence of God in our own hearts. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us, “…He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” Deep within us is the recognition that there is something beyond this life and someone beyond this world. We can deny this knowledge intellectually, but God’s presence in us and all around us is still obvious. Despite this, the Bible warns that some will still deny God’s existence: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Since the vast majority of people throughout history, in all cultures, in all civilizations, and on all continents believe in the existence of some kind of God, there must be something (or someone) causing this belief.

In addition to the biblical arguments for God’s existence, there are logical arguments. First, there is the ontological argument. The most popular form of the ontological argument uses the concept of God to prove God’s existence. It begins with the definition of God as “a being than which no greater can be conceived.” It is then argued that to exist is greater than to not exist, and therefore the greatest conceivable being must exist. If God did not exist, then God would not be the greatest conceivable being, and that would contradict the very definition of God.

A second argument is the teleological argument. The teleological argument states that since the universe displays such an amazing design, there must have been a divine Designer. For example, if the Earth were significantly closer or farther away from the sun, it would not be capable of supporting much of the life it currently does. If the elements in our atmosphere were even a few percentage points different, nearly every living thing on earth would die. The odds of a single protein molecule forming by chance is 1 in 10243 (that is a 1 followed by 243 zeros). A single cell is comprised of millions of protein molecules.

A third logical argument for God’s existence is called the cosmological argument. Every effect must have a cause. This universe and everything in it is an effect. There must be something that caused everything to come into existence. Ultimately, there must be something “un-caused” in order to cause everything else to come into existence. That “un-caused” cause is God.

A fourth argument is known as the moral argument. Every culture throughout history has had some form of law. Everyone has a sense of right and wrong. Murder, lying, stealing, and immorality are almost universally rejected. Where did this sense of right and wrong come from if not from a holy God?

Despite all of this, the Bible tells us that people will reject the clear and undeniable knowledge of God and believe a lie instead. Romans 1:25 declares, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” The Bible also proclaims that people are without excuse for not believing in God: “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

People claim to reject God’s existence because it is “not scientific” or “because there is no proof.” The true reason is that once they admit that there is a God, they also must realize that they are responsible to God and in need of forgiveness from Him (Romans 3:23, 6:23). If God exists, then we are accountable to Him for our actions. If God does not exist, then we can do whatever we want without having to worry about God judging us. That is why many of those who deny the existence of God cling strongly to the theory of naturalistic evolution—it gives them an alternative to believing in a Creator God. God exists and ultimately everyone knows that He exists. The very fact that some attempt so aggressively to disprove His existence is in fact an argument for His existence.

How do we know God exists? As Christians, we know God exists because we speak to Him every day. We do not audibly hear Him speaking to us, but we sense His presence, we feel His leading, we know His love, we desire His grace. Things have occurred in our lives that have no possible explanation other than God. God has so miraculously saved us and changed our lives that we cannot help but acknowledge and praise His existence. None of these arguments can persuade anyone who refuses to acknowledge what is already obvious. In the end, God’s existence must be accepted by faith (Hebrews 11:6). Faith in God is not a blind leap into the dark; it is safe step into a well-lit room where the vast majority of people are already standing.

What does this mean? It means God exist in all facets of our lives from the time we wake up to the time we lay down at night. It means God exist from birth to death. It means God exist from beginning of time to the end of time. It means God exist in good times and in bad times. It means God exist in poverty and in wealth. It means God exist in sickness and in health. It means God exist when the sun shines and when the clouds form for a storm. It means God exist during hard times and good times.

Bottom-line; there has never or will ever be a time when God does/has not existed.

Does God exist? Yes, He does….

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Study To Show Yourself Approved

During my down time from pastoring, I recognize I still have an obligation as a preacher to continue sermon preparation. My assignment may have changed but my responsibility as a called man of God still requires me to study the word for my own personal development and pulpit presentation.

Its amazing how my mind has been clicking lately as it relates to study topics. Here's a few ideas that have crossed my mind of late...

* Praying With Meaning - A Look At The Model Prayer - Matthew 6:1-13

* Living With Purposeful Intentions - A Look At the Be-Attitudes - Matthew 5:1-12

* Fighting To Win - A Look At Spiritual Warfare - Ephesians 6:10-20

* Daily Spirit Filled Living - Handling Relationships Properly With the Spirit's Help - Ephesians 5:18-6:9

* The Type Of People God Uses - A Look At the 12 Disciples - Matthew 10:1-4

* A Path For Your Life - A Study Of Micah

* "I AM" - A Look At the "I AM" Statements of God - The Gospel of John

* God Is In Charge - A Look At 2 Thessalonians

* The Joy of Partnering in Ministry - A Study of Philippians - This one I need to complete.

* Psalms 119

This will be good study and writing. When my next assignment comes I will be locked and loaded. Not just for the pulpit but also personally.

Look Out!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Preaching is my medicine!

Several years ago I read a book entitled "Preaching through a Storm".
Unfortunately (or fortunately), I gave the book to someone else to read so I don't remember much. But I do remember a few thoughts of the book (paraphrased) that has come back to me in recent days. One of those thoughts is when a preacher goes through a storm that storm will do one of two things: draw the preacher to the pulpit or push him away from the pulpit.

As we have seen, there are many pastors being pushed away from the pulpit and pastoral ministry. However, for me PREACHING IS MY MEDICINE and PASTORAL MINISTRY IS MY DESIRE! In other words, I'm drawn to the pulpit and not from the pulpit when going through a storm.

While in transition, it has been a challenge for me. I miss preaching/ teaching and shepherding God's people on a weekly basis. While it's important for me to be poured into after 9 years of pouring out, I feel like Jeremiah...I got to say something on God's behalf weekly.
I also recognize the difficulty this transition has been on my family.

And therefore, I recognize that I'm not alone during this challenging time. This has led me to pray daily for my family to protect us from bitterness, hurt, and unforgiveness. Tracy loves ministry work just as much as I do. So for the both of us the transition is challenging.
Yet, we both look forward to getting back to work in building God's kngdom. I thank God for her and love her for her support.

While times have been difficult, I thank God for my church family...Bishop Sanders and Mt Pilgrim. They have received me and the family so graciously and with warmth that it has lightened the load of this season. They didn't/dont ask me why i'm not at First Goodwill anymore. As a matter of fact they've been pushing for me to get busy.
Well, I am ready to get busy! I truly thank God for my pastor and church family. May God bless you all!

God has also allowed me to form a bond with brothers, some pastors and others who are not, that's been praying and encouraging me on a regular basis. Thank God for each of you. Our talks and prayer times has also helped me to stay focused on my calling and they don't treat me any different now that I'm not "pastoring". Actually, it seems as if they're respect for me has increased. Nevertheless, I thank God for you brothers. Let brotherly love continue!
Sunday, I had the privilege of worshipping with pastor Stan Richards and the Beacon Light Church family. What a wonderful time of worship!

I preached a message entitled: Living Above the Worry - Matthew 6:25-34. The point of the message is that God warns those of us who do worry to stop it and to those who are not worrying, don't start! God, your heavenly Father, will take care of you. The church received the message well and I believe I needed the message just as much as the next person in the church. I do worry a lot about many things. But thank for confidence in knowing that my worry is really not necessary when I look at all that God has done, is doing, and will do as long as I trust Him. Thank you to Pastor Richards for being so warm in his introduction and for being a true brother and friend. I look forward to us worshipping together again!

This coming Sunday (God willing), I will be preaching at Village Baptist Church with Pastor W Charles Harris for their Men's and Women's Day service at 3:30 pm. It is my plan to preach: We Can Do It Better Together - Acts 2:42-47. If you're not busy please come out and receive worship and the word.