Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In the Purpose of God

We’re into our 31 days of prayer and consecration. Carol and I have also started taking some online seminary classes and I must say that we are really enjoying them. One of the challenges of any leader is to stay sharp through professional development. These classes have provided the professional development opportunity for which we were seeking.

Our overseer, Bishop Raphael Green, made us aware of these classes and they are exactly what we need for this season in our lives and ministry. Already, new and fresh vistas are opening before us. I’m gaining the proper words and perspectives to more accurately articulate the hidden truths in the Word of God.

I’m also gaining better skills in how to dismantle the arguments and logic of this postmodern, anti-God mindset that is attacking the 21st century church. I only hope that I’m picking up this knowledge and wisdom in time.

Right now, I’m taking one online seminary course by accessing classes three nights per week. I’m incorporating them into my regular Bible reading/study time. Returning to school, even if only online, is not a chore. I know why I’m taking every course. I see God and His purpose in every class.

God has so orchestrated our lives that we can now work fulltime jobs, take classes, and still minister on the weekends. It gets pretty stressful sometimes when emergencies and urgencies hit us, but even then, the Lord continues to provide the grace and strength to see us through.

I guess that’s why we encourage our church family to keep pressing forward in the thing that they KNOW God has given them to do with their lives. There’s really no other way to live. Anything else is just mere survival and existence.

We don’t want to live in that mundane pattern in which one just goes to work and comes home with nothing to look forward to beyond paying bills and having weekends off. We don’t want to just live for the weekend and lay around watching movies. Carol and I must live for something greater than us.

I love the life that I have. I have a wonderful wife, outstanding sons, a solid career, a fulfilling ministry, and a new zest for learning and growing. I’m in the purpose of God.

Monday, October 3, 2011

An Encouraging Phone Call

One of my best friends in the whole world, called me last night (Sunday night) to encourage me. Pastor Mark Lawrence is my brother from another mother. We go way back to college days.

He told me that he’s been watching our video clips and said the short 5-10 minute messages have been right on time and life changing for him. He said that he would click on a video from his iPhone just to watch a few seconds, but would find himself watching the entire clip. He said God has used the videos to answer questions and give him wisdom. He also said the videos were excellent from a professional level as well.

Mark has his master’s degree in Communications, so he’s very familiar with video and audio technique. He complimented the quality of the audio, clarity of picture and overall presentations. He said he would tell me the truth if the quality was poor, and I know him... He definitely would tell me.

I told him I had just confessed to my family (Saturday night) that I was wondering if what we are doing is really working. He said that if no one else is being impacted, that we should know that the Word is being received in Virginia.

He urged me that we must not stop what we're doing. He said the church, Sunday Cafe' setting is perfect, the delivery is perfect and everything about what we are doing is perfect for this generation. He said we would probably never know, on this side of eternity, how many people are being affected by our online video ministry.

All I could do was just thank him and say, “Praise God!”

This was a very timely phone call because I really honestly, did not feel like it was worth it to continue doing this any longer. It takes a lot of time to set up every week, minister and record every Sunday, download and edit the videos, and then post everything online. Hours and hours have been invested to make this happen. I was preparing to shut things down by the end of the year.

Thanks, Pastor Mark. I love you man…

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It's Not About Me!

There was a time when the loss of church members would have sent me into several days of discouragement and self-doubt. I can honestly say that the Lord has done a lot inside of me. He’s “grown me up” a little so that I can see things from His point of view.

I have come to realize that when a person is in survival mode, and they have made up their minds to trust their own efforts and plans to get through life, it doesn’t matter how much you preach, teach or even lay your hands on them to pray for them, even God is not going to override their will or their decisions. It has nothing to do with me as a pastor.

It amazes me how many people can leave our meetings and one person is raving about how much they needed the teaching and received the prayer, while others can walk out without receiving anything because the Word and prayer was not what they wanted to hear that day.

I recall how one young lady, in what was to be the last time we were to see her, told us at the end of the service that the she did not like the message that day. She said God had been dealing with her about moving to a certain city and the Word that came forth confirmed what God had told her, but she simply didn’t want to do it. Hopefully she went on and obeyed the Word because she never came back to our church.

Another man told me that he was struggling within himself and didn’t want to come to our church anymore. He said he didn’t like sitting under this kind of teaching, while within himself, he wasn’t ready to change.

I’m realizing, more and more, that many people don’t come to church to encounter God, and thus allow Him to change them. They come to church to try to change God’s mind. When HE doesn’t budge and He doesn’t answer their prayers the way they want them answered, they’re out the door.

What I’m learning, as pastor in this era, is that the response of people is no reflection on me. Even when the responses are positive it is no reflection on me. This is all about the choices that people must make concerning God.

I thought that if I fasted and prayed, spent more time in consecrations and travailed in prayer, that it would bring a breakthrough for everyone in our gathering. What I have learned is that it brought forth breakthrough for me personally, for my family, and for all who are WILLING to open their hearts and obey the Lord’s voice.

So this has been a great lesson: It’s Not About Me!