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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM


You’ve heard the famous idiom saying: “calm before the storm”. The “calm before the storm” typically refers to a period of relative quiet or relaxation prior to a time of intense activity or uproar. This phrase is typically used as an analogy between the literal calm that can often be felt prior to the arrival of a powerful meteorological event and a period of quiet before a flurry of events or excitement.

As an idiom, the “calm before the storm” is often used interchangeably with similar phrases that replace the word “calm” with “quiet” or “lull.” This phrase refers to a period of calm and quiet that a person might experience prior to a time of great activity, though it is not necessarily meant to literally indicate that a storm is approaching. Instead, the “calm before the storm” typically refers to a symbolic calm or storm, such as the time when a parent is relaxing prior to his or her children coming home from school.

There is also a literal calm before the storm in some instances, which is the basis for this particular idiom. As storms develop and move, especially thunderclouds and large storm fronts, air is typically pulled up into them from below. This warm, moist air is cooled and moves upward through the clouds, leaving a vacuum in its place, which is then filled by warm air coming from the top of the storm front. When this occurs in the direction a storm is heading, it can produce an environment that is calm and quiet, sometimes eerily calm, which is quickly followed by the onset of the storm itself.

There are other, similar idioms often used in place of this idiom, including “after a storm comes there is a calm.” Rather than referring to the sense of quiet that can precede a period of great activity, this instead indicates that after this period of activity there may be another time of quiet. This later period, however, may be either a positive or negative concept, since it might indicate a time of peace and relaxation or a time of quiet contemplation of the devastation wrought by a powerful storm.

There are times in life when we know the idiom to be true “a calm before the storm” but then there is the other side of paying attention to the “storm before the calm”. In other words, there are times when we need the storm to slow us down and calm us down to a place of humility because we’ve tried to live life by ourselves without God’s help. It’s called “ego-tripping”. Ego-tripping is when we’ve made ourselves bigger than life itself in our own heads.

At the root of egotism is self. Egotism is ultimately driven by pride and thinking oneself worthy of the utmost attention or capable of complete self-sufficiency. At times, an egoist may be motivated by past hurt. Betrayal, abuse, or abandonment may cause a person to believe he must always look out for himself—because no one else will. Rather than trust others, someone who has been hurt may isolate herself and believe she can only trust herself. Though not pride as we would generally conceive of it, this is still an unbiblical stance that raises self to the status of a god. The Bible speaks against, and God soundly dealt with egotists such as King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4. We also see how God prevented Paul from becoming egotistical after seeing a vision in 2 Corinthians 12 by placing a thorn in his flesh and denying Paul’s request to remove it not one time but three times. God said, “No, I’m not going to remove it!”

God has issue with ego!

However, He, God, has left us with preventative instructions to live in this life without ego-tripping in 1 Peter 5: 5-6: “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”.  

Be clothed is a verb in this verse on humility. It means to knot or band by which two things are fastened together, to fasten or gird one's self. Therefore, 1 Peter 5:5 ("gird yourselves with humility as your servile garb") encourages Christians to show their subjection one to another by putting on humility.

Humility is the intentional act of making sure you’re properly dressed before walking out the door each day.

Put it on and look good for God!

P.S. I will write what humility looks like in the next blog.

Monday, December 18, 2017

THE LORD'S CHURCH


My thought process relating to the church of Jesus Christ has been shaped by the biblical teaching of the church. Here’s my position about the church…IT’S THE LORD’S CHURCH, PERIOD!

My position of the church being the Lord’s church did not just come from my biblical understanding of the church but it has been strengthened with life experiences. Some 15years ago, as a pastor, I tried to work my plan for which I convinced myself it was God’s plan. Needless to say, my plan did not work because it was not God’s plan for His church. By the time I figured it out it was too late. The wheel started turning in the wrong direction and I couldn’t stop it I just had to ride along with it.

What a heartbreaking experience!

When I left the church, I made a commitment to God that I will never again get ahead of what He wants to do in the life of His church.

Why?

Because, it’s the Lord’s church…PERIOD!

Therefore, my biblical conviction about the church governs my style of ministry.

          The Power of The Church - “I don’t have any reason to brag about preaching the good news. Preaching is something God told me to do, and if I don’t do it, I am doomed. If I preach because I want to, I will be paid. But even if I don’t want to, it is still something God has sent me to do.” – 1 Corinthians 9:16-17 – (CEV). I believe Jesus Christ is the central message of the church and everything we do in ministry should direct people to Him for salvation. Nothing can replace the impact of the preaching of God’s word in His church. I preach because I’m called not because I have to. My responsibility is to educate, equip, and encourage believers with the Word of God. It is the preaching/teaching of biblical principles that strengthens church programs in line with God’s plan.

          The Purpose of the Church - “Go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28: 19-20 - Why should we speak of the Great Commission as being the church’s primary passion? The Great Commission is the church’s biblical focus for reaching the world. The Great Commission ensures the church with supernatural empowerment to reach the world. The Great Commission assures balance in discipleship making with reaching, assimilating, and teaching in this world.

          The People of the Church - “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men… for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2: 1-4 – I believe membership is more than a name on the church role. The church is a place baptized believers sharing in a common bond together. Membership is active participation in all areas of church life for the benefit of others and the glory of God. God has saved each person for specific role in His church to operate in a unique design He picked for you to do what no other person can do like you.

          The Practice of the Church - “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.  Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.  Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,  and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church[a] daily those who were being saved” – Acts 2:42-47.  It takes the five (5) basic food groups to maintain a healthy body. The NT church has left for us the five (5) basic practice groups to maintain a healthy church body in EVANGELISM, WORSHIP, MINISTRY, FELLOWSHIP, and DISCIPLESHIP. Teaching these areas to membership to practice in their daily lives will in turn produce a healthy corporate lifestyle in the church.

When it’s all said and done, Jesus said it best in His conversation with His disciples…

“Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”. – Matthew 16:17-18

Friday, December 15, 2017

CALM DOWN!!!!!






When I arrived to the church where I serve on staff, a deacon says to me: “Hey, I remember you!” I looked at him with surprise and thought to myself; “Not another one!” He proceeds to say, “You used to play basketball at the YMCA years ago, didn’t you?” In my defense tone, I said; “Yes, I did sir!” He says: “Do you remember me?” My response: “No, should I remember you?”


He goes on to say, “I remember you because you had a temper back then (jokingly).” I said, “I did!” He says, “Man, you didn’t back down for nothing and nobody on the court!’ I said, “Sir, that’s my alter ego, I don’t do that anymore!’ He says, “I see, I couldn’t believe it was you coming in here sitting in the back being quite”.


I said to him: “Man, life has a way of calming you down with a quickness whether WE like it or not!”


One of the hardest things to do is keep your composure when you want to let it all out…literally. I’ve learned over the years how to stay calm under pressure and it’s not easy to do. But trust me, it didn’t happen overnight, in a day, and actually, it took years. I will admit, I have a habit of holding things in until it boils the water in my tea kettle and when the whistle blows you can’t stop it. That has not worked well for me. So, I’ve had to develop some disciplines to assist me in making people, places, and things to make me act I don’t know who Jesus is.
Let me share them as suggestions to help you stay calm in pressurized situations…
  • Don’t take work home leave it where it belongs … at work. This goes for ministry as well.
  • Take a walk to clear your head. I love the beach so I walk on the beach a lot. I’ve worked the Manhattan BCH Christmas firework show on the beach. Although I was working, I was still able to think. Ocean waves calms down. I should add to my tattoo of things that helped me make for 50yrs the beach. It’s been a lifesaver for me too.
  • Cook a good meal. Even if you don’t know how to cook, try something to cook. You will be amazed how much you’re able to relax. This is how I learned to cook.

    Find a relaxing hobby. Besides basketball, I love to BBQ.
  • Stay away from things that are stressful. This may mean not answering the phone, text, emails, etc. TV can be stressful. I’ve seen more and more people lately argue with the TV than they do with human beings. They can’t hear you on the show so hursh…lol
  • Listen to music. My music of choice is Jazz and smooth R&B. I’ve found it extremely relaxing making a play list of songs on google play. Searching music and creating a playlist is pretty cool and relaxing for me.
  • Read a book and it doesn’t have to be the bible. I making the assumption here that you have a daily devotional time to read the bible. Whatever you read, just make sure it’s something uplifting, inspiring, and relaxing.
  • If you’re married, have a fun date night. Don’t talk about the kids, money, bills, work, church, or anything of that nature. Just enjoy each other.

    Stay away from the stores. Too much temptation and stress to see something you “want” and can’t get it. Stressful indeed and depressing sometimes.
  • Use your sick and vacation time wisely. That work will be there when you get back.

    Wash your car. I wash my car at the self-service car wash and drive to the park to dry it off and detail it. I find a nice shaded area, park, turn on my music, and clean. Relaxing!
  • Don't get upset over what you can't control! The only thing you can control is how you respond to those things you can't control! Leave it be and move on!
  • Listen carefully and attentively when in dialogue with others. We have a habit, especially on the phone, to jump in the middle of the other person's sentence before waiting for them to finish. I've found myself doing that and I have to apologize and let them finish. Sometimes, I wait 2-3 seconds to make sure they're done before I respond. Most stressful situations come from us not hearing the other person out.
  • Think before you speak. Everything doesn't deserve your response.
  • Stay away from drugs, sex (unless you're married it may help...lol), and alcohol. These are nothing more than a temporary fix and when you come down the problem will still be there that made you upset in the first place.


Now, mind you when you set out to intentionally calm down, you will be looked upon as a person who doesn't care, checked out, nonchalant, unconcerned, and a down right jerk.
Ok!
You're objective is to stay calm at all cost. 
The point of this blog is simple, life is to short to be upset all the time!