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Archive for May, 2010

Sunday Nite (on a Monday Morning)

Great day at Hyde Park yesterday. Powerful worship, sweet spirit, much fellowship, great message and it appeared that God used a jar of peanut butter to make a powerful point.

  • It was a pleasure to host Chuck Register from the Baptist State Convention. Chuck is the Executive Leader of the Church Planting and Missions Development Group at our convention. His group oversees some of our most important and outreaching ministries including their relationships to our local associations, the new Embrace Women's Ministry and our famous Baptist Men's group that is always one of the 1st responders to national emergencies.
  • Our church was blessed by his message, "Grace to Live By" out of 2Corinthians 12:7-9. It was obvious by the response in the services and the chatter online that the message hit home with many of us.
  • I know the message totally hit home with me and my family.
  • In the passage, Paul says, "to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." I have read this many times through the years but thought during yesterday's message, "What is my thorn God has placed in my life to keep me humble?" Still wrestling with that.
  • He said in point two, "if Paul could have removed the 'thorn' he would have". Amen. That comment reminded me of a longtime common thought in my own life: would I actually be seeking and dealing with the things I am in my life if everything was perfect and great? Answer: definitely no. Nobody longs for the valley when they're on the mountain top. My truth is that the beauty of the mountain top has a tendency to blind me to the truth found in the valley.
  • What about the jar of Peanut Butter? You're just gonna have to check it out online tomorrow – I won't do it justice.
  • Like I said, great, great message.
  • Saw great fellowship among the people yesterday. I am very grateful that people are increasingly seeking out relationship with others lately. That reminds me of Acts 2:46.
  • Music yesterday: Because He Lives (Praise Charts arrangement), Glory to God (Fee), Come Thou Fount, Come Thou King (Gateway Worship), How Marvelous (Passion Band).
  • Don't forget that next weekend is a "ONE" Service – 10am! Get here early for the best seats!

As I close today I wanted to share with you the video that we shared yesterday. We have had the opportunity lately to minister to a group of Karenni refugees who have moved to our region. The video is filmed in a camp like the one that our new friends lived in before they came to America. As you view this remember, the young lady featured is much like your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – a young person with hopes and dreams for a greater future than the one she is living out.

My Filter or His?

This is an amazing passage of scripture found in Acts Chapter one:

After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3 NIV)

So, Jesus has risen and over a 40 day period shares with His followers. His context: The kingdom of God. Jesus was always speaking about the kingdom before the cross; it was definitely His main teaching subject. Now, this particular passage doesn't share His teachings over this period but we know from the other teachings that when Jesus taught the kingdom He was teaching what life and community look like when someone is under the rule and reign of God. Things like: 

  • seek God's kingdom first (Matt 6:33 
  • poorness of spirit – meaning that we understand that we are powerless to be in our own strength what God wants… (Matt 5:3)
  • being meek and dependent upon God (Matt 5:5)
  • being merciful to others because we've been shown the ultimate form of mercy (Matt 5:7)
  • to hunger and thirst for God, to strive for personal purity, to long for and be instruments of peace; to be humble and gentle (Matt 5:6-12)

You get the picture. Imagine this: how awesome would it have been to sit under Jesus' teaching knowing that He recently died on a public cross and had risen from the dead – the evidence was there (read v. 3 above again) and here He is, ALIVE and teaching them what they are going to do next and describing in detail what it looks like. WOW, right?!?

At least that's what it seems – I think it depends on the eyes you look through. Listen to what they asked Jesus:

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6)

Really? That again? When will we get to run things?

Isn't it amazing that God can pour into us the things that He wants us to focus on, kingdom things, life-changing stuff and our focus can still remain, "what about me/us?" My response: God, forgive me for seeing most of life through my filter rather than Yours.

Question: how have I done this very thing in my own life?

Sunday Nite

Great day at Hyde Park today! As we gathered together today we celebrated our graduates, a mission endeavor that the senior saints in our church have been involved with and most importantly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it's call on our life. If you weren't with us today here is what you missed:

  • Our guest speaker this morning was Rev. Milton Hollifield.  Milton is the leader of the Baptist State Convention. This man's passion for the Gospel and his vision for the place NC Baptist play in the Great Commission is nothing short of inspiring. Check out the message HERE by Tuesday.

Milton's scripture from this morning was Matthew 9:35-38:

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

  • The above highlighted section is one that I have read over and over yet today saw in a totally different way. How do you see those who are not a part of our church? Powerful.
  • In his message Milton made the statement that "great movements begin as one person's dream". I am watching him demonstrate that statement through our convention.
  • Milton pointed out from the above scripture that there is a difference between having compassion for someone and having sympathy for them – rather than feeling sorry for a situation, compassion motivates you to do something about the situation.
  • I thought that one of the most powerful moments in today's service was when he shared the way that God changed his heart towards those outside the church. With a shaky voice he shared with us the words God revealed to his heart,

    "We cannot reserve our compassion for only those who 'deserve' it because you don't deserve the compassion I have shown you."

  • The problem most christians have is that we like to forget that we don't deserve our salvation.

We had 2 different emphasis in our 2 services today:

  • at the 9am service we featured a dedication service for a mission project our J.O.Y. Club has been working on for a while. The project was for Victory Junction, a camp for terminally ill kidz. The J.O.Y. Club made over 50 full-size afgans and they were absolutely beautiful. They displayed them on the edge of the stage and we prayed over them before they make their journey to the camp and the kidz who will own them. We continue to be proud of the work our senior saints are part of.
  • at the 10:30 service we celebrated Graduate Sunday. We had such a smart, successful group this year. We pray Jeremiah 29:11 with them and for them as they take this next journey in life.

In other things today…

  • Maybe you've noticed the large group of new people and families in the 10:30 service near the back. We are ministering with a group of Burmese people who have relocated to our community. These people have been living in refugee camps in Thailand, some for years as their country was taken over by Myanmar. Many are moving to Lumberton because they are being hired by local companies. Please share the love of Jesus with our new friends.
  • Our music today was: A New Hallelujah (Michael W. Smith), Brethren We Have Met to Worship (G3 Worship Arrangement – 1st Service), How Great is Our God (Chris Tomlin).

Hope you have an amazing week as you look to make a difference in your world.

You Might Not See It

I returned from the Drive '10 Conference at North Point last night. As always I was blown away the excellence, the creativity, the fun (EVERYBODY who works there seems to love their job so much). The classes that I took were amazing and encouraging

Martyrscross
The above picture is probably what I will remember for the rest of my life.

It's a cross. The cross is placed in the Emperor's Entrance at the Coliseum in Rome. This place, best known as the center of death and brutality for the purpose of entertainment for hundreds of years, is not a place that you would expect to find a symbol that represents the Risen Savior.

How did a cross get put in the Emperor's Entrance? The Emperor didn't put it there. As a matter of fact it was placed there after the coliseum was no longer used as a memorial to all of the Christian martyrs who died there. 

What is so strange about it? I guess it's the fact that in the midst of the gladiatorial contest and the brutality that happened no one would have ever guessed this would be there. No one who died there would have ever thought that in the absence of a Roman Emperor the Symbol of Christ would stand in his place. The family of a slain slave or believer would believe it – No one who knew someone who died there would believe it – all they knew was that someone they loved was killed there for others entertainment. No one would believe that someday the Emperor would no longer rule… but in his absence there stands the cross. Who would have guessed?

No one.

Outside of the obvious things that the cross reminds me of it also reminds me of this truth: you never know what the future holds. We must look to the future; we must plan, dream and work hard but through the years there is something that I have come to understand: Most people are not leaders – Most people don't have vision. Most people don't have a plan for what will happen "to them" next week, much less a year or two from now. It's not a slur, it's just true. If everyone was meant to lead then who would follow.

Here's what I see: I see that our God will do great things. I see that our God wants to save thousands upon thousands of people in this region. You may think, "in little Lumberton?" and I say, "L-town is prime!!!!" You might not see it but who would have ever thought that there would be a cross in the Emperor's Entrance to the Roman Coliseum?

I see that God wants to raise up a generation who will not be satisfied with going to church but will be filled with His Spirit and decide to "Be" the church. And you may reply, "this generation isn't interested in spiritual things… they just want to…" I would say you have a hard time to see that They've just rejected church as they have experienced it – but they haven't yet met Jesus!!! And besides, who would have ever thought that there would be a cross in the Emperor's Entrance to the Roman Coliseum?

I see that God will raise up a life-changing, culture-building, other's driven, supernatural living organism called "the church" and this region will never be the same. "This isn't a big city… your dreams are too big – they aren't for here…" And I would reply, "Your God (and your mind) is too small – you don't see what I see". I see that my God DEEPLY LOVES the people who sleep in on Sunday morning, hung-over from the night before. The people who are as I used to be, btw… Do you love them? Do you see?

I believe this stuff so much that I SEE IT. How do I know?

Because there's a cross in the Emperor's Entrance to the Roman Coliseum. You might not see it  - are you even trying?

Everything

This thought has been on my heart for quite a while now. I received an email from a friend this morning which asked, "What is your everything"? It feels as if everything lately points to the desire of my heart for more of Him. My friend Bree, whom I know wants more of Jesus, this morning tweeted:

Breebreeharris Pondering on how 2 live a more disciplined life in so many ways. I suppose it just takes just "doing it"!Life seems hectic & out of control.  via UberTwitter

I want God to be my everything. 

God is not content to be part of my life – HE IS MY LIFE and as such wishes to consume my life with His (Heb 12:28-29). When my life gets to so busy and He's not my life everything is just "off" – and the worst part is that I am the reason, not Him. There isn't a part of my life that isn't open to Him (remember, He see's all anyway). When I thought of Bree's tweet it reminded me of Psalms 37:5, "Commit your way (everything) to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this".

God is not interested in the church part of my life – God is interested in my life – all of it.

Which is where things get tricky and sticky – it makes me ask questions and most importantly, take action: 

  • Is there a place in my life that I don't want Him? I have met people who honestly think that they can compartmentalize their lives in such a way that God wouldn't know that they are allowing things into their hearts. Take a moment and read Psalm 139. He knows. He wants to be my everything.
  • What part of my life doesn't bring Him honor? Realizing that we can't hide anything from God, Am I embarrassed that He knows some things about me? If God is going to take His place of "everything" in my life there should be some discomfort/conviction about the fact that I am trying to live 2 lives.
  • What part of my life isn't "everything" that He would desire it to be? In order for Him to be my everything this area has to be addressed. What will I do to change it? Am I willing to be uncomfortable or to give up something for His glory.

When I work through these questions they make me uncomfortable and they should. If these were easy changes to make I would've made them years ago. They are hard, deep rooted and will return quickly if not surrendered fully to Him. Religion doesn't solve these issues but rather disguises like fresh paint over a dirty, uncleaned wall. 

You know, it's not about what I know about God – it's what I do with what I know that makes the difference. I'm not looking for deeper religion, I just want to know Him (Phil 3:10) and do what He says…

…because HE's my everything. What part of your life isn't "everything" that Jesus would desire it to be?