Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God Will Keep His Promise

We are pleased to announce that we are now the parents of a college graduate. We are pleased to announce that this is a new breakthrough for our family.

Four years ago, we put our son on an airplane for Tulsa, Oklahoma. After going through the trauma of moving from St. Louis to Harrisburg to start a new life and ministry, then watching it all fall apart with the collapse of the ministry and the foreclosure of our home, David made a tearful good-bye to his family. He had no idea how he was going to pay for that first year of school. He could only go with the promise of God.

I embraced my son and whispered in his ear that now it was time for him to discover how God was going to come through for him.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day and Carol will express her thoughts on this family hallmark as she speaks from our 2012 theme of Knowing God: His Presence, Power and Purpose, but she will address it from her perspective as a mother and wife.

In this email, we want to share these thoughts. As we watched our son in the hooding ceremony, we couldn’t help but think of so many special moments in his journey. For a parent, it’s about much more than the four years that were spent obtaining the college degree. It’s about the entire life of this child that you remember from their birth up until this momentous occasion.

There were so many defining moments. I (Pastor Chris) recalled how I was about to park our van in the garage in our home in St. Louis. I had put the gear in reverse and was about to step on the accelerator to back into the garage when the Holy Spirit said, STOP. I slammed on the brakes and suddenly I saw my little boy, David, running from behind the van. He thought I was about to leave and he had run out to the garage to catch me because he wanted to go with me. If I had not stopped, we would not be sitting in this ceremony.

As we sat in the graduation ceremony, we looked around the huge arena known as Mabee Center and suddenly it dawned upon us that this was the very room where we first laid eyes on one another. We had no idea when we first saw each other while sitting in those seats in this facility, that 35 years later, we would have a son who would someday walk across its stage to receive his diploma.

We started our pursuit of higher education at Oral Roberts University, but neither of us was able to complete it. We’ve earned a few certificates from Continuing Education courses, along with good, solid training in local church leadership courses. Yet, we always desired college degrees. We failed, so we wanted something greater for our children.

After the devastating losses of our ministry and home in 2005 and 2007, we had a family meeting and told all three of our sons, that from that point on, we were going to focus our efforts to helping them attain the levels that we could not reach. Though the ministry is important, they were our priority. So we set out to build a solid foundation from which to launch our children into their purpose and life’s work.

David is the first to break through the barrier. Jonathan is currently enrolled at the Art Institute of York, Pennsylvania and Christopher is preparing to enroll in a very special school in Tempe, Arizona (a place he’s always known he was supposed to go since he was a teenager).

So that’s what this breakthrough means for us. It is the first victory in a series of strongholds that are being pulled down so that our children and our children’s children will fulfill the purpose that God has for our family.

Once we understood and accepted our role, which was to lay the foundation, we have embraced it without holding on to the regrets from our past.  We share this with you today so that you can receive this same healing, hope and faith for your life and your family.

If there are things you cannot do, or did not accomplish in your life, just pass the baton on to your children. Trust God that the dream he placed within you, will still be fulfilled.

As we said our goodbye to David and released him into his next phase of his life, we drove out of the campus parking lot and passed a building that Oral Roberts started building while we were attending the school. It was originally called the City of Faith and Oral Roberts’ dream had been that it would be a medical facility that incorporated prayer and medicine to bring healing to people.

Many people mocked and scoffed at him for that vision, especially after everything fell apart financially and his ministry eventually lost the building. However, today that facility is now one of the national cancer treatment centers. And guess what, they incorporate prayer and medicine to bring healing to people. It still became what God told Oral Roberts it would be.

The last thing we saw, as we drove away, was a tangible reminder that no matter what happens to us in this life, God will still do what He said He will do, even if it’s not through the people that we thought it would come through.

Please receive this testimony of triumph in our family as a word of encouragement for you and your family. God’s going to do just what He Promised He would do!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In All Things, God Gets the Glory

Our Sunday gatherings have become a very special time. The Word has been very through and soaking like the times when it rains all day and all night saturating the ground. As always, we encourage you to keep rehearsing the teaching.

There’s also something unique about the way the Lord is knitting our hearts together. It is an awesome thing to behold. Now as we prepare to launch a summer of very intentional outreach to our families and friends, we just felt compelled to share this passage of scripture with you.

1 Peter 4:7-11 reads: But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

In this scripture, we find four admonishments:
  • Be sober and watchful in your prayers
  • Have fervent love for one another            
  • Be hospitable without grumbling
  • Minister your gifts to one another

Peter knew that he was coming to the end of his life and he was writing to some very discouraged Believers during a time in which thousands of Believer’s were being tormented, tortured and killed because of their faith in Christ. In the midst of great trials, he simplifies the Believer’s focus to these four things.

We share this with you today because that’s what it all comes down to for our church family. We can sense that exciting things are happening in our church. People that we have been inviting for weeks, months and even years are now beginning to come. We can feel the explosion about to come forth. 

Yet, the focus for us is to first be sober. This means we are to be of a sound mind, to exercise self-control, to put a moderate estimate upon ourselves (to not think more highly of ourselves because of what God is doing in our church), and to curb our passions.

We are admonished to be watchful in our prayers. In this scripture, the meaning of watchful is to be temperate and circumspect. We find it interesting that the first thing we are told in the midst of crisis or excitement is to not let our feelings and thinking run out of control as we pray. We’re going to continue to seek God’s face and not His hand. We’re not going to start making request for all sorts of blessings to only benefit ourselves.

In fact, Peter says that above all else we are to have fervent love for one another. This means unceasing love, intense and earnest love. Peter was talking about the kind of love that not only expresses benevolence, but also the kind of love that covers, hides or veils another person.

You see. We’re going to get to know one another really well and we’re going to discover some not so good things about each other. When that happens, we are to demonstrate covering love. In fact, one of the definitions for this kind of love means ‘to hinder the knowledge of a thing’. Isn’t that amazing? This kind of love holds a family together. It’s the kind of love that we need to demonstrate here in Harrisburg because this community has been devastated by people uncovering one another’s faults and sins.

Peter moves on to say that we must be hospitable without grumbling. This Greek word for hospitable means: to be generous to guest. You know how generous and open we are to guest when they visit our homes. We are extra polite, patient and accommodating to their needs. Peter tells us to be that way with one another on a regular basis. Normally the more familiar we become with one another, the less hospitable we become.

Finally, we are encouraged to minister our gifts to one another. One of the most powerful definitions of minister is: to attend to anything that may serve another's interests. This definition includes such specific word images as waiting on a table to offer food and drink to guest like a waiter or waitress in a restaurant. We are encouraging YOU, our dear church family to serve one another, with the gifts that God has given you.

Peter concludes the four points by telling everyone the purpose for doing these things. The reason for doing these four things was so God would get the glory. We aren’t doing these things so that Urban Life Church would be proclaimed or its pastors would be celebrated.

Family, we appreciate the acknowledgements and kind words that have come our way, but we don’t want you to put any emphasis on us, or our ministry. The true goal of all that we do is so that ALL GLORY WILL GO TO GOD! He gets all the credit! He gets all the attention! So determine that in all you do, that God will get the glory through your life!