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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Effort of Expectation

I've been thinking about the current sermon series I'm preaching entitled: Stepping into your new thing now!  Our church has been developing a healthy diet of the word of God around the subject of transformational living, cycle disruption and walking out our biblical expectation for our lives.  What an exciting time of sharing,sermonizing and measuring the results of a blessed life through the "grace stories" of those who have been affected by such a word.

I thought I should share a brief word about the latest revelation in this series of messages.  The Effort of Expectation focuses more on the effort from us to believe and walk out God's promise more than the expectation that the promise would manifest.  Our case study of the life of Abraham shows us that God's promise are packed with the word to carry out what is promised.  God appears, he commands, he promises this former idol worshipper that his life would be blessed beyond comprehension.  God doesn't show up with a "bag of blessings" just His word. 

I am humbled by the revelation that my expectation of God is commensurate with my faith in Him.  It is never an issue about what I expect from God; what is always at issue is my effort toward that expectation.  The Apostle Paul says in Romans 4 that "Abraham stumble not at the promise of God because he was fully persuaded that what God promise He was able to perform".   His confidence in God was assured by his effort to trust God for his promise.  Our expectation is linked to God's promise!  If Abraham failed in his effort to trust God ( offering up Isaac, interceding for Lot, etc) than his expectation of God would equally be diminished.   Abraham put forth 25yrs of effort to get one promise manifested. He never stop believing even though he at times faltered. He never diminished his effort to trust, obey, believe and walk out what God had commanded even though his expectation had no manifestation.

Other biblical characters like Noah, Hannah and Moses portray similar feat of effort; proving that they had great expectation of the Lord.  Build an arc in expectation of a flood.  Put forth an effort in prayer for a son when you are barren?  Effort is the evidence of faith.  We will always do what we believe no matter if its the right or wrong thing...we believe it.  Moses leads millions of Jews into a desert in expectation of finding a promise land.  Does your effort tell the story of your faith or lack thereof?

The effort of expectation requires diligent movement towards the expectation of the promise even when their is no evidence of it being fulfilled.

Great Expectation
Little Effort             =  DISAPPOINTMENT

Its perfectly alright to have great expectation from the Lord. Its not alright to have little effort.
You can have anything you want for yourself and your life if you CHOOSE  to participate in it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

ARE YOU EXPERIENCING A BLESSED LIFE?

Our ministry this month will read, review and discuss Robert Morris book entitled: A Blessed Life.  I encourage every pastor to get a copy and share it with your local assembly.  The more we talk about being "blessed and highly favored" it creates for me a contradiction of terms and reality.  Our ministry is painstakingly reviewing the life of Abraham.  Preaching from the text of Genesis 12:1-4 points to God's intention to do great things in the life of this former resident of a pagan city.  While scholars and historians wrestle with how involved Abram was with this lifestyle, it yet places him in an environment that rejected active knowledge of God. 

My contradiction is how we seem to minister to members of the body of Christ who lay claim to transformation and blessing and cannot demonstrate the sustained blessing of God in their health, emotional life, family, neighborhoods or finances.  God's promise to Abram entails at least four "I will".  It would suggest that God was going to manifest the blessing in the life of this believer.  Yet manifested blessings are those that God delights to announce, produce and protect.  Throughout the life of Abram God consistently repeats his promise from Genesis 12. 

I believe that a blessed life leaves "breadcrumbs".  Our blessing should produce tangible proof of sustained peace, transformed communities, wealth accumulation and emotional vitality!  God's blessing on our lives is directly connected to how we "honor God" with our attitude, our priority position of Him in our lives and our money.

Your blessed life should be an attractive force to those who are intergrated into your life.  A blessed life will leave our children happy, our spouses happier and our communities thriving because of the blessing of the Holy Ghost in us.  Call me crazy, God's promise of a blessing to Abram resulted in measurable proof, sovereign protection, capacity building and a deeper worship experience that caused Abraham to thrive due to his personal generosity.

As you review your blessed life and join us for bible study this month as we read and wrestle with Robert Morris book; my prayer is that you will document the blessing of God and difference your bless life makes in the lives of others.

You're blessed!  Are your experiencing the blessing? If the answer is no; your missing link is the absence of honoring God with your life.  He's got a thing about being first in everything.  When you make "God First" you will experience a blessed life.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Good Friday - Good God!

Our solemn observation of the greatest moment in Christian history demand we pause and look retrospectively on the emblem of suffering and shame. Our gospel should remain rich with emphasis on the cross and the blood. Without it, we run the risk of preaching a cross-less, bloodless, gospel that reduces the grace of reconciliation.

The gruesome truth is that Jesus suffered for our salvation; that suffering during this season, some two thousand years ago was with pain-staking accuracy in order that all scripture would be fulfilled. All the roads of the past come to an end on the cross. All roads to   restorative life giving hope are paved with possibility and unmerited love toward unbelievers leads to relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Good Friday provides opportunity to reflect on forgiveness, rescue and completion of God’s plan for reconciliation. Our redemption and reunification of fellowship with the Father is the purpose of the cross. Today, we have the opportunity to forgive others who have hurt us, bury grudges and resurrect the possibility of relationship and reconciliation.

Our gathering today through intentional worship brings like-minded believers together for the soul purpose of recreating, reinventing, and resurrecting the memory of the sacrifice and thus reliving it with profound appreciation and celebration. The world will make light of the expressed demonstration of a sovereign God who loves unconditionally as though they have an inherent right to eternity with Him. We have no such right! We’ve been graced to salvation due to the fact that no work of man could ever justify the benefit of heaven.

May this resurrection season be just that for all of us who gather in His name; may we be so resurrected in forgiveness, faith, patience, doctrine, and fellowship. The cross is a bridge and a gateway. A bridge that reconnects man to God and a gateway that leads to fulfillment in life, vision, hope and aspiration…May the glory of God be resurrected in you today by the shed blood of His Son and the ultimate expression of His worship…The giving of His life that we may live forever.

GOOD FRIDAY IS BECAUSE OF A GOOD GOD!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

GOD FIRST!

In reading scripture I am often amazed at the consistency of statements in the Old Testament that pertain to firsts. There was special significance given to the "first born" male child or "first fruits" and the natural linkage between worship (feasts) and agriculture (land).  God in someways tied the blessing of the land into the offering of "firsts" given to Him.  Another observation in my OT reading is God was serious about FIRST! Israel develops as a nation and God has a chat with them about "keeping the main thing the main thing" and parenthetically speaking (He was the main thing).  So what are we to make of God literally demanding to be first in everything pertaining to His creation.  Thou shall have "no other gods" before me; thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, soul, strenght (first) and honor the sabbatical laws by honoring the land and the offering with "first of the first fruits" Exodus 23:19.

This got me to thinking about my own walk with God and the walk of others I try to influence and in some cases shepherd.  God First? Me First?  I see nowhere in scripture where God has abandoned the principle of him being first in everything.  He was specific to offer him the first of the first fruits as a testament to their obedience regarding the sabbath. It would be necessary for them to trust God to produce twice the harvest in the sixth year so they would have food in the seventh year in which they were forbidden to plant.  God promised them that obedience to Him would yield them blessings. 

Today, I'm not sure that we are a nation of God first.  I am certain I have witnessed and demonstrated more of a "me first" behavior and as a result did not get a "God first" blessing.  Putting God first means that my entire life will respond to honoring him in every way in everything.  America's prosperity has set us on a course for moral destruction, emotional collapse and spiritual absence due to our materialistic, self centered cultured that will not honor God nor its fellowmen.  I realize it is easy to get off tract; no time to put anyone ahead of yourself because you're too busy "trying to make it".  When you finally arrive to the place called "make it" who is with you?  Has your family survived you placing yourself first before them? Does your community reflect a "God First" image or a "me first" reality. 

God must be First in our daily lives.  He earned it. After all, He was first in existence; first in creation, first in love, first in sacrifice, first in sharing, first in giving.  He never relinquished his claim to be "first in our lives".  We remanded him to fourth and fifth position.  He wants the first of your first fruits.  He wants the first increase of our lives which were gain supernaturally.  Without His supernatural intervention, our lives would be a do it yourself exploration.  Whatever you're doing now, stop! Honor God. Put him first in your plans, projects, programs, thoughts, dreams, desires, relationships, money and future.

A "God First" life requires thoughtfulness, obedience and faith. God First!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Government needs to SHUT UP and not SHUT DOWN!

A government shutdown is nothing more than the politricks of narrow minded representatives who solely support their views only.  I'm not sure why these jokers are playing with the lives of decent hardworking people who have just survived the "great recession".  How do you reform entitlements that benefit seniors in a way that the benefit will remain without further hurting those who bore the burden of building this country.

I must be undeniably clear that I support the rights of the unborn and believe that all life is precious.  I am so mad at the "child's play" that occurs when practical ways of living are jeopardized by foolishness.  Who's kidding who? None on them in Washington live on the streets of Buffalo, New York or in the heart of urban centers who by (their doing) must rely upon the federal government to survive, be employed or have some measure of quality of life! 

Poor people, the underemployed and unemployed are always the victims of the elitist fight in Congress. If the business of government shuts down then the employees of government (politicians) should not be paid and be given pink slips! Do they understand that it was the "people with all the money" who allowed oil to spill in the gulf for months? The people with cancer, currently in cancer trials will lose participation and treatment, no biggie; that's just affecting 25,000 people.  FDA, no problem--given a looming terrorist threat, we'll allow the opportunity to taint the American food supply.

The government in the words of one of the characters on the now syndicated HBO show the WIRE, "just need to shut up" because the more they talk; the more they look absolutely stupid, and, the electorate should feel equally as dumb for voting for representatives whose only job is to derail the current presidency to return to the idiocy of the past administration. The "New America" wants to protect the unborn but build prisons for the poor unborn to protect their livelihood. They want to undo "Obama care" but cut funding to access care or primary physicians for the poor. Their idea in this "New America" is to overload emergency rooms as primary care providers and remove funding for the poor elderly that forces closure of nursing homes.  All while they continue to fund wars abroad, remove regulations that guard us from reckless banking practices, environmentally unsafe conditions and bust up unions who protect the rights of working families. 

A government shutdown may be a good thing; provided that they shutdown the "Cadillac health coverage" of congress memembers; shutdown the loop holes given to millionaires while working people grovel to make ends meet; shutdown their access to lobbyist and to unlimited campaign contributions designed to smear a decent president whose only managed the world's crisis in the last three years.  Shutdown? How about Shut up!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

WHAT IS A MINISTRY OF DISTINCTION?

What is a ministry of distinction? Distinction is defined as "a marking off or distinguishing as different".  In today's climate and culture of church it important for local assemblies to identify and promote their "distinction".  We are aware the Lord Jesus gives to his disciples "the great commission" which will establish the kingdom of God in the earth and delegate the church as the only legal authority to implement that mission.

Creating a "counter-culture" is the mission of the church in order to provide for fallen man an alternative choice for eternity.  Each local assembly is then charged with marshaling forces to promote, promulgate and produce the life of the kingdom in the earth!  Our current generation is far removed from the formation of moral, social and ethical standards our parents and grandparents embodied.  Today's sight and sound generation is enamored with a anti-authority, anti-God and anti-church mentality that demands immediate gratification and visual stimulation to satisfy their PS3/XBOX mental overload.

As the church becomes younger and less religious; our ministry underwent strong consideration as to our relationship, relevance and long term strategy to win "this generation".  How could we hold fast to our fundamental pentecostal tenets and infuse them with a contemporary message of hope, love and transformation and package it to a disinterested culture?  Our answer?  Create a "BLUE WATER" ministry that would have a 3D appeal to this generation, repackage our fundamentalism in a practical application to life and celebrate our diverse ecumenical heritage with bold presentation.

Blue Water is our response to probing questions of relevance, connection, community and fulfilling the great commission in the 21st century.  We have no allusions that this is a "one size fits all" ministry methodology; but is our answer to celebrate difference in a traditional denomination and walk out our apostolic mandate to become the "new face of COGIC" building a ministry model of exceptional member service, ministry professionalism and living in the law of difference.

Our ministry philosophy will provide a backstop for young professionals seeking relationship with Christ but not with the circus they call "church".  Blue Water ministry blurs the lines of traditional church from practical empowerment through dynamic preaching and teaching and relevant worship.  Blue Water has both a academic and marketplace proof source in the context of transforming organizations. Our application is purely ministerial and relational to those we seek to encourage, inspire and inform as we build a transformational enterprise in a disinterested culture.

Welcome to Pentecostal Temple...a BLUE WATER MINISTRY!  Jump in, the water is BLUE!