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Archive for November, 2006

A Breakthrough Presence

26 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will." (Romans 8:26-27)

Tonight, at our band / singers / choir rehearsals there was such a spirit of love, faith, and interceeding prayer. It began with our current drummer, Martin, coming in barely able to walk because of a neck injury earlier today. He called this afternoon saying that he probably wouldn’t make it. When he came in I said, "what are you doing here – you coming to play?"

"Yeah," he said, "but that’s not the only reason i’m here." I could tell by the way he said it exactly what he meant.

"My wife was shocked that I was coming but I told her that I needed what I was gonna get tonight – and that means more than just some music! I need you guys to lay some hands on me."

That’s the kind of night it was – a night where we worshiped the Lord, ministered to one another, sang some Christmas songs, planned for what’s coming up this month. And we prayed.

We prayed for each other, for illnesses that had manifested among us…

We prayed for strength to live the way that God would have us to – to make His decisions…

We prayed for our drummer who has found himself walking down the wrong path again. We believe, in faith, that God is getting ready to move mightily in his life. Please pray for him RIGHT NOW!

I’m thankful that, as the above scripture says, God knows exactly WHAT needs to be prayed for. I’ve often wondered what i’ve been spared from because of His intercession. As it says, I don’t know what to pray for sometimes, but He knows exactly what is necessary.

"Lord, I believe and so I know." Do you?

Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving week, Tuesday night to be exact. My family is all buzzing about doing stuff and I wanted to post concerning where i’m at right now, but first…

Last weekend was really great! On Saturday I went to the UNC/State game! 50 yard line seats (it was sweet!) and the Tarheels improved their season to 2 wins (must have been my presence). I returned just in time to attend a party with some close friends to celebrate a birthday (and eat an excellent ribeye, courtesy of my friend, Buddy Stephens).

Sunday was an unbelievable day! Both services were just great – a great anticipation seemed to be in the room. I will continue to say that I am SO BLESSED to have the opportunity to serve at a great church like Hyde Park.

Sunday night we had our annual Thanksgiving Meal and Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Dedication Service. Much props go to:

  • The cooking team who prepared a great, great meal and served 350 people in less than 25 minutes…
  • Those who prepared all of the Operation Christmas Child boxes. Our church goal was 1500 boxes to which i believe we came within 100 of reaching! Our county goal was 6000 (we came close to that one too!). A lot of people worked ALL WEEK to make sure that children around the world have Christmas and hear the message of Jesus Christ. Love it!
  • The Kingdom Kidz Choir (directed by Candi Hester) rocked, as always…
  • Potter’s Hands performed "Thank You" – bringing tears to any and everyone who loves Jesus. As I said, a great, great day.

Now, back to Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for…

God’s wonderful salvation. I know that you aren’t surprised that I would say this, but if you would have told me 11 years ago I would be a pastor on staff at a church I would have died laughing. "God, You have completely changed all that was important to me. You’ve given me a new life, new hopes, new dreams, new direction and a new vision for my life. You have blessed me so much, and I give you praise right here, right now, in the presence of all who read this blog."

My Family. The covenant relationship that Keyna and I entered into almost 17 years ago (December 16) has been the constant in an everchanging world for me. Our relationship has been through much but she has always been there for me. She put up with a lot prior to my transformation (and after). I love her and continue to look forward (God willing) to a long life with her. Our children are the icing on an otherwise wonderful cake bringing fulfillment and completion to our dream of being "a family". "God, thank You for my family – help us to build our lives around You, seeking You in all decisions."

My Friends. It’s funny that before I became a Christian (but was considering trusting God) part of what held me back was the thought that most of my friends would leave me if I became a Christ follower. My life revolved around my friends (especially those in my bands). But today I find myself with more friends than I have ever had in my life. Our relationships are close, deep and Christ-centered. "Father, thank you for the wonderful people that you have chosen for me to "do life with". I pray your blessings on them and their families as we seek You together."

My Church. I live my dream. Before I came to Hyde Park, all I wanted was to serve a church like we are. We weren’t "that kind of church" when I first came, but little by little God has made my dream a reality. Our Pastor (Dennis Harrell) is wonderful and a trusted friend. Our staff is passionate about accomplishing God’s plan for their ministry. Our music is slammin’! We’ve come so far in that area. Our services are passionate and our future is BEYOND EXCITING! I can’t wait for you to fully hear what will be happening at HP in the next 4 months. We’re going to see things that no church in our area has ever seen and in the process (with the power of God, by His Spirit) we’re gonna reach the masses with the message of the Gospel. And I’m gonna love every minute…

Honestly, there’s so much more that I’m thankful for, but i’m stopping here. God is good and I love serving Him. Over the next few days, love your families much – bless your friends & pray audibly for them and let’s prepare for the greatest time of our lives.

By the way, I am preaching this weekend, AM & PM. The message will actually be a 2 part series (1morning/1evening) called "A New Look on Life" with the Sunday morning message titled "Christ-Colored Glasses". I deeply appreciate your prayers as my desire is not to fill the preaching slot, but to be used by God to speak a message that brings transformation into the life of those who hear. I would never want to waste anyones time. I want people to walk out of Hyde Park knowing exactly what they need to do to improve their life over the next week.

I love you guys so much – You are part of what makes my life WHOLE. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Striving to live a WholeHearted Life,

mike p

The Gospel Bear

Matthew came home from church the other night with a little multi-colored bear. He asked me if he could take it to school tomorrow (Thursday) to which, as usual with this request, I replied, "NO".

"But Dad, I really need to take it – Mrs. Barrett won’t mind!"

"No, Matt, you don’t need anything else to distract you at school – you can barely concentrate as it is."

Matt is 6 years old and in the 1st grade. He is my buddy. We get along wonderfully, except when that stubborness gets the best of him (and me). Matt isn’t a very spiritual kid. Madison, on the other hand has always been spiritual – asking questions about God and I had the priviledge of leading her to Jesus at the age of 6. As I stated above, Matt’s attention span is an issue both at school and at church but I believe he hears more than we can tell. I believe Matt loves Jesus – he tells me so often.

My desire is that my kids have a real relationship with God. I don’t want them to have a familiar relationship with God because their dad was/is a preacher. I want them to KNOW Him; to TALK with Him. I want Him to truly be their Savior and in turn that their hearts and lives will be His.

Keyna and I began this by trying to teach our kids to truly pray – not the rote prayers that children normally pray, but that they would learn to talk to God, the way that Jesus did…

I DON’T WANT MY KIDS TO BE ALL ABOUT CHRISTIANITY AND THE CHURCH BUT MISS JESUS IN THE PROCESS!

Which brings me back to Matt. Last night Matt said, "Dad, Mrs. Stanton said I could bring my bear to school tomorrow so I could share it with my class." Thinking that we had settled this issue on Thursday morning I said, "Matt, I told you this morning we aren’t going to take that bear to school." to which he replied, "Dad, i’ve gotta take it so I can show it to Tristan!"

"Why would you need to show this bear to Tristan, Matthew. That bear isn’t even cool looking – you’ve got better stuffed animals; just drop it!"

"Daddy, I’ve gotta take that bear to tell Tristan about Jesus! He goes to church but he doesn’t like "being a Christian". He doesn’t even like to go to church! I told Mrs. Stanton that I need to bring my bear so I can tell Tristan how to be a Christian. She said after that I can show it to my class…" I looked, really for the first time, at the bear that he was talking about. It was multi-colored and each color told a different aspect about being a follower of Christ – Man, I felt low…

"Oh", I said, trying not to cry OR be so obviously proud at the same time. "Why didn’t you tell me that you wanted to tell Tristan about Jesus?"

"I did, Dad, you weren’t listening."

Last night, as we prayed, Matt asked Jesus to help Tristan to understand that he needs to be a Christian. I prayed over him that he would have understanding and boldness (not that he needs boldness – HE’S NOT YET UNDERSTOOD THAT THERE’S SOMETHING SCARY OR INTIMIDATING ABOUT TALKING TO PEOPLE ABOUT JESUS.) May we all be in tune like Matt.

"God, help me to help my kids really get it – that they would never be ashamed to share Jesus with someone who doesn’t know you. I pray that this Spirit would always dominate their lives as they learn (with me) how to be Wholly Yours. In Jesus’ Name…"

I’m back…

I just returned from the North Carolina Baptist State Convention of which our church (Hyde Park) is a cooperating member. I’m tired and "meeting’d" out but I wanted to post kinda where i’m at this afternoon…

The politics side of Baptist life bore me. They are a necessary evil because:

  1. if those of us who believe that the main thing is people being saved don’t stand up for the scriptures and the teachings of the bible, the bar is lowered. Ignorance is not bliss
  2. There are many in our convention who would love to allow some to run unaccountable while using monies given by cooperating churches.
  3. We have to do all this to keep us running in the right (and hopefully same) direction.

So, now that we got that out of the way…

On Monday, Eddie D and I had the priviledge of attending a luncheon on developing a prayer ministry at our church. Now most people would think that this is a given but the truth is most churches don’t pray the way that Pastor James Walker of Biltmore Baptist Church in Asheville thinks it should be done (Pastor Walker was the featured speaker). Pastor Walker was saying that church-wide prayer should focus on a prayer-covering for the church that the power of God would be unleashed upon a congregation. As a result of Biltmores’ dedication to prayer they have over 1,000 people meeting weekly all over their area in groups to pray for issues that are given by the staff to guide them (please check out God’s 1300).

To say the least, Eddie and I were blown away by the power of God and the simplicity of His plan for us. When the meeting ended we went back to the prayer room at the church we were at and humbled ourselves – God showed up in such a real way. Without going into detail I believe that it’s fair to say that we obviously understood His leading.

Why are we SO CONCEITED? Why is it that we think that "we’ve got this one, God…". We choose not to pray when God has promised that if we will stay close to Him, confess and turn from our sin that He will heal our land. We need Him so, so much. On the other hand, maybe i’m just referring to me. You probably don’t deal with it like I do.

Beginning soon, we will begin a serious prayer ministry designed to bring the power of God to the ministry of Hyde Park. It won’t be a "Big Program" (like "just Walk across the Room") that we’ll be largely promoting. We will be choosing from among us those who are spiritual – those who seem to be prayer warriors. We will not be praying for "Aunt Sally’s big toe – it has the fungus and she can’t walk" because you can pray for your Aunt Sally’s toe. These prayer groups will focus on God’s leadership and direction of Hyde Park, the ministry of reaching people, transforming lives, providing hedges of protection for our leadership and the overall holiness of those who are His.

I wonder what the outcome of this will be…

Will this be another thing that people begin but have no follow-through, OR

Will this be the thing that finally brings God’s downpour to our thirsty land…

If revival comes it won’t be the "hocus-pocus" type where we pray "Oh God, send your spirit to us" meaning, "I don’t want to do anything, change anything, or be anything – I just want you to rush upon me in such a way that i’ll be changed!" That, my friends, is what I call "hocus-pocus" revival and it ain’t real. It doesn’t happen that way.

Revival is expensive. It cost real people commiting to turning their lives over to Christ. It requires us to desire true holiness in our lives. Revival is not a series of meetings – revival is God’s people serious about their OWN spiritual state and, in humility and openness, allowing God to do something with it.

I wonder, what will I do? Will I be faithful to His call?

I wonder, what will you do? Will you be faithful to His call?

God will rock our world if we’ll let Him. I can’t wait to see if we will.

It’s Friday – are you ready?

Well, those of you who read from work, maybe you haven’t left yet…

Are you ready? Are you pumped?

Is it almost time? Is it gonna be "all that"?

Well, I’m ready, pumped, can’t wait and YES, it will be "all that", and a bag of sea salt and vinegar chips!

Tomorrow nite, it’s to Florence with my friends – going to see Mercy Me at the Civic Center. Audio A is opening – i’m ready for a night of LOUD, JESUS PRAISIN’ ROCK-N-ROLL!!

Then on Sunday morning i’m looking forward to Pastor’s new message series, "When Down is Up". The focus is that the seductive power of our world is strong, enticing and at times, confusing. We strive for more – more achievements, more stuff, more pleasure yet many would describe the deepest part of their life as feeling empty. Pastor Harrell’s new series discusses a different type of living, one that focuses on living an "upside-down" life.

Who knows, it might change the way we view life.

Then on Sunday nite I will be speaking. My message is titled "How the Mighty Have Fallen". I watched with amazement last weekend as Pastor Ted Haggard’s life publicly crumbled before all of our eyes. It really made me think. In my message Sunday Nite, we will look into his confession to see the mistakes he made while looking to God’s word for guidance that we might "fall-proof" our life. You know, we’re all capable of falling – let’s do all we can to prepare that we will stand strong in the moment of temptation.

Those of you from Hyde Park – look forward to worshiping with you Sunday. I’ll talk to the rest of you next week.

5,000