Sunday, February 25, 2007

Thanks For Leading Me To Christ!
Last Tuesday evening I had the honor of leading a young lady to the Lord. She came to me during the altar call, said that she felt the need to give her heart to the Lord, wasn't sure how, and then allowed me to assist her in accepting the Lord into her life. It was an exciting moment for all of us. Wednesday after the final service she came by, hugged me and said, "Thanks for leading me to Christ!" In 28 years of ministry I have never had anyone thank me for leading them to the Lord, but I must admit it felt good. There is nothing like ministering to people and helping lost people become found people. Another thing it did was cause me to remember those people that helped me find Christ, my friend David Taylor who went to a church summer camp, gave his heart to Christ and came back telling me about it, God used him to minister to me, Pastor Jerry Holt, who loved me and preached a true word from God, my Mom who lived it out before me, even when being a christian in our home wasn't easy. There are many people in our lives that have impacted us in more ways than one, we owe them our love and appreciation, but in my thoughts tonight I am most appreciative that some one told me about the Lord, not about church and religious jargon, some body told me that Jesus loved me, would forgive me, and would not hold my sin against me...I really appreciate the Lord and those He uses and am humbled that He and they would love someone like me!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Held Captive By Strange Priorities
I want to be the first to admit that I am not the father of Anna Nicole's baby! I've been faithfully married to my beautiful wife almost 20 years and she is my one and only love! With that said, I am amazed at how consumed our world is with finding out who her baby's father is, where she should be buried, and who's going to get the money...if there is any! Does it strike you strange that this woman's death has elevated her to levels she only dreamed of in her life...Do you ever ask yourself...Why? What is strange to me is that she is in the news, on talk shows, and being discussed by the biggest and the best while thousands of men and women fight a continuing battle in Iraq, children are kidnapped, molested, abused and abandoned on a daily basis, people are dying and going to hell, and we simply want to know who is Anna Nicole's baby's father is! I don't mean to seem without compassion and certainly hope for her sake they find her father, but should our world be held captive during the process? Is this the really important stuff or have we become a spin-off in the reality tv world? Perhaps it's one of those crazy thoughts in my own mind that reminds me how often my priorities can become misplaced and how that I can become consumed with things that are important to me, but not necessarily news for my world, at least not lasting news! I hope they get this mess straightened out, and again, don't mean to sound harsh, but I do believe something is out of whack here...maybe it's just me!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pressing Through The Crisis
Have you ever had a crisis of faith? A moment when you needed to reevaluate your beliefs and needed to do it now? I have. It's not that you question your beliefs but you question do you really believe what you believe. There are moments when I have found myself asking myself and the Lord why do I believe what I believe, do I really believe it, or is it just something I've heard all of my life. Crisis moments bring us to this place from time to time, does it just work when things are going well or will it work in the darkness? This week I'm in Alabama preaching a meeting at Rock Christian Center with Pastors Kevin and Diane White. We're having an awesome meeting, the Lord is speaking through His Word and needs are being met. What makes this meeting particularly special to me is the Pastor Diane is being treated for cancer, yesterday she took a chemotherapy treatment and arrived at church ready to worship, she is so courageous, a powerful woman of God. As I watch this family walk through this time of crisis in their lives I am amazed at the strength the Lord is giving them. They're not looking for sympathy, or for people to smother them, they believe God is healing Diane, are proclaiming that healing, and are leading their congregation forward into a bright new future. Whenever I think of crisis moments I think of three men in a fiery furnace, a king leaning over the edge asking if their God will deliver them, and their response, "O yes, and if not!" Their confidence was not in the deliverance but the deliverer. I think of Paul in Acts 27, a storm is raging and all hope that they will saved is lost, but Paul stands boldly proclaiming his confidence in God, of his encounter and revelation of a God that is able to walk with us during life's greatest storms. Crisis is the litmus test of our faith, I for one want to pass the test!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

American Star
Our school had a talent show today and I was one of the judges. It was awesome, kids from 3rd grade up to 7th, singing, dancing, jumping rope, and doing little girl tried to break a board but didn't, though I wasn't certain that she wasn't going to break her partner...I wanted to be Simon, but we weren't allowed to voice oral opinions, just work off of prepared score was a hoot. The funny thing was there were girls that would do a serious spiritual song and then go into "Free Ride...Take It Easy!" I'm telling you it was phenomenal...I'm happy to be a part of a Christian School! What also happened was we saw little leaders and mini worshipers arise, the Bible speaks of children being arrows, the important thing about arrows is they are powerful only if directed, we get to direct the arrows!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A Word From The Word
I felt like a newlywed today, just like when my wife and I were newly married and just beginning our pastoral ministry...we went to make hospital visits together. Our girls were with friends, one went to the beach and the other went to the Julie and I went to Tampa to make a hospital visit. On our way we stopped at Home of the Gyro on MLK Blvd. It's a little corner place that has some of the oddest combination meals you've ever seen, gyro's and chicken gizzards, or gizzard's and rice, wings and gizzards...I had the gyro platter, the sandwich was huge, took both hands to hold it and meat fell out of it, very good. While we were ordering I noticed behind the counter the proprietors 3-4 children sitting watching television, one of the boys had a well used Bible in his lap and was holding and reading while watching TV. I asked him what he was reading, the Bible he said, but what are you reading I continued to ask...then I asked him to give me a word from the Word, he didn't quite understand what I was asking, his Mom tried to explain, but it was his sister who go it, and she began to quote and give me scripture reference..."In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God..." It lit my fire! Last night I watched the video "One Night With The King", the story of Esther. There was a place where Esther was called to read for the King, at first she read from his favorite scrolls, and then she began to tell the story of Jacob and Rachel, quoting the Word of God with such passion. I love the Word, love to hear it quoted and love to hear it read. A few years ago I was attending a Senior Adult Convention and the Happy Goodman's were there, not my style of music, but I was there with senior members of my church. Johnny somebody was one of the singers and he began to quote Revelation 22, it sent chills and thrills through my spirit, the Word is powerful, it will stand alone and work! Years ago I was preaching for Clarence Bear in Stillwater, OK, he told me something that I've never forgotten, he said, sometimes God gives us one thing to say, but we preachers have to add all this other stuff around it, we spend thirty minutes telling them what we've got to say, but God only wanted about ten minutes of it! There's probably truth in that! The Word is quick and powerful sharper than any two-edged sword...and a Word from the Word is welcome in my life at anytime!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Connecting Where It Counts
I am a huge reality television fan. I love Survivor, $40.00 Per Day With Rachel Ray, American Idol, and Nashville Star. Recently I was watching Nashville Star when one the judges shared a golden nugget with a contestant, his advice to this young wannabe star was simple, "Learn to connect with the crowd!" The jest of the message was that it doesn't matter how well you sing or play an instrument, how good you look or if you can dance, all of these things are important and will have a great deal to say as it pertains to your success...but if you don't connect with the crowd, you won't make it! There's a spiritual aspect to that isn't there? Jesus did three things when He was on earth: 1) He met people; 2) He mended people; and 3) He ministered to people. Jesus connected with His crowd, He was genuinely concerned with their lives, He hung out with them, He loved them, and he loved on them. When He spoke to them He identified with where they were, where they had been, and where they needed to go, and He initiated the opportunity for them to get there. The amazing thing about the Lord is that He wasn't religious, He developed relationships and whenever He spoke to people He gave them a relevant answer...He connected with them. I want to connect with people, to be a true communicator, not just a good orator, or a gifted person in a certain area. The world is full of people that speak well, that know the right things to say and the right way to say them...I want to identify with them, see where they are and where they need to be, and to enable them to get where they're going...Pray for me that I will connect with the crowd in the right way at the right time and that God will minister through me to others!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Slow Sunday
Our town from April to October is somewhere between 40,000-50,000 people, from November to April we are around 90,000-100,000 people...they come from Ontario, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and everywhere else in between. Today as I was traveling to lunch after church and to make a hospital visit after lunch it seemed like every slow poke in the United States had converged on Zephyrhills! Instead of being Super Bowl Sunday it's Super Slow Sunday in Florida! My wife reminds me that we too will grow older some day, I told her that when these wonderful folks cross the Florida state line they should have to sign an agreement to drive the speed limit...and maybe even 5 miles over! Go Bears!