Saturday, December 30, 2006

Where the Treasure Lies...

Over the past few weeks I have endeavored to find the mind of God for myself personally, for the church that I Pastor (Oak Park Church), and for my city. My goal is to set a vision for 2007.

As I contemplated the coming year and what the focus needed to be, a simple but powerful question crept into my mind. Where does the answer for my life, the church and my city lie? Where does true treasure lie? Then the equally powerful answer reverberated through my being..."In His Presence."

His presence, of course, that is where everything becomes clearer, where the power flows, and where His direction can be found. Nothing but truth can stand in His presence. The seemly important things evaporate in His presence. The frivolous things vanish in His glory. The right things stand at attention. The light of His presence illuminates the correct path.

The old song says, "turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full into to His wonderful face and things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

In His presence there is...

1. Peace
2. Hope
3. Forgiveness
4. Reconciliation
5. Fullness of Joy
6. Pleasures for evermore
7. Clear vision

David knew where to find this precious treasure and never forgot where it was found. During every struggle of David's life he ran, crawled, even pleaded his way into the presence of God.

When the enemy spoiled their camp and their families, David fell into God's presence and found strength, courage and direction.

When David committed adultery and the Prophet Nathan stuck his finger in his face and said "thou art the man," what did David do? Did he plead for his throne, his palace or his possessions? No, David said, "take not thy Holy Spirit from me!"

When David looked around and saw the prosperity of the wicked and he almost fell...what did he do? He went to the house of God and their he saw their end and his reward. Everything was clearer in God's presence.

David knew where to find the treasure.

Therefore, in the year 2007 let us plan, schedule, advertise and organize like never before. However, let us also endeavor to spend more time in His presence. In His presence, He will sustain us, direct us, chasten us, and empower us...

That is where the treasure lies...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's a Wonderful Life

Well, it's Christmas! Christmas is a time for shopping, eating, giving gifts, getting gifts and of course "It's a Wonderful Life," Frank Capra's master piece Christmas movie about George Bailey.

George Bailey, the smartest and most loyal guy in town, thinks he has lost everything when money from the building and loan comes up missing. Even though he spent his life sacrificing his desires so that others could realize their dreams, he felt like a failure. He thinks of killing himself, when an angel, Clarence, arrives to save his life.

Of course, I am not telling most of you anything you did not already know.

However, the story continues as the angel gives George the gift of seeing how the world of Bedford Falls and it's inhabitance would have been if he had never been born. Without him the whole town changes. Everyone is negatively effected by his absence. Nothing is the way that it should be.

As I thought of this, my mind went in two directions. First, what effect would my absence have on my world? Secondly, how can I live my life that it will have the maximum impact?

I believe that each and everyone of us makes an impact on our world. The life that we live and the message that we carry, truly is effective in the lives of those we touch.

Jesus stepped into a world that was in chaos. His life changed the course of history. Nothing has been the same since. The cultural, political, and social landscape has been eternally altered.

Through His power; By His strength; With His Word, we too can effectively change the landscape of our world; Our cities; Peoples lives; The climate of our churches.

First, be encouraged, you are making a bigger impact than you think. Your life and your calling are significant in God's plan.

Second, make this coming year a year of influence. Pour yourself into others as did George Bailey. Pour yourself into your church. Pour yourself in to your city.

George gave away and used up his finances, his friendship, his talent and loyalty...everything he had. Yet, in the end they called him, "the richest man in town."

Give yourself. Give it all. The effect will result in eternal dividends and endless reward.

Hanging in the "Bailey Building and Loan" offices there was a picture that said, "The Only Thing You Can Take With You Are the Things that You Give Away."

Living totally sold out to God..."It's a Wonderful Life!"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Good Luck on the Island

Our culture teaches us that we must be strong. We must be self-sufficient. Survival of the fittest; kill or be killed; show weakness and die.

The sad fact is that not only our secular culture pushes these false ideals, but many times the culture of the church pushes these same misconceptions.

I just got off of the phone with a friend that has been going through a tough time in his ministry. At times, he has felt that he had no one to turn to; like he was on an island with no one to rescue he and his family. He is not alone. There are countless leaders and their wives that, no doubt, feel this same way.

Sometimes we set sail for islands on our own, because we feel that we can not trust others. Maybe we have been legitimately been hurt, misused, or abused. Using these numerous and possibly legitimate excuses we set sail in our ship, the USS Bitterness, with guns ready and our defenses at high alert.

Other times we find ourselves washed up on the shore, ship wrecked on an island with no fault of our own. The storms of life have isolated us. We can not find an anchor.

Either circumstance can happen to anyone of us if we allow ourselves to drift away from others. Therefore, we must take a risk...reach out...cry out! We need others.

Also, we who are not struggling at this time, must be on the lookout. We must be attentive to the needs and hurts of the people around us. Leadership is a lonely place. We who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak (Rom 15:1). Ready the rope; check the life preserver; maintain the ready!

One day it maybe you stuck on an island.

Look around today. Do you see a home missionary, neighboring pastor, a lonely evangelist struggling? Take him to dinner. See if you can encourage him.

The life you save may be your own!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

Less Desirable Packages

Last night my wife and I sat at the dinner table wrapping Christmas gifts as the sweet sounds of Christmas music drifted through the air.

My lovely wife had purchased several different kinds of wrapping paper. Different colors, textures, and patterns but each was beautiful in their own unique way. When we finished I sat back and admired our handy work. The packages were beautiful.

I began to reflect on the things of life. Many times we receive beautiful packages. When they are placed in our hands our heart fills with expectation. The paper shimmers and gleams as if to say “there is a great gift inside.” Anticipation raises our awareness. We rip off the wrapping searching for the treasure inside. Desirable Packages!

However, there are times in life when things are not as they seem. As my pastor loves to say, “Sometimes the greatest gifts come wrapped in less desirable packages.” At times, things come along in our lives that do not look very appetizing. These “gifts” do not catch our eyes. They do not fill us with anticipation. In fact, just the opposite, they fill us with trepidation.

Some of the greatest times of blessing in my life have been, at first glance, undesirable. These things came wrapped in the undesirable trappings of trials, storms, wilderness experiences, and temptation. When these were placed into my hands I took them reluctantly, almost begrudgingly. My heart wanted to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Yet, as I look back at these less desirable packages, I see them differently. As the wrapping was unfolding in my life I see beauty; relationship; provision; strength; mercy; correction; love.

The very things that I saw as painful, I now see as blessing. Less Desirable Packages!

Therefore, do not judge the gift by the wrapping. Trust God! He is your father. He is a master at giving good gifts.

He may wrap them differently. They may be cloaked in pain, uncertainty, even grief, yet you can trust that when everything is revealed, you will have a treasure to hold.

God gives the best gifts wrapped in Less Desirable Packages!

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

1 Pet 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Greater than the Sum!

The Church is more than an institution. It is more than a group of people. It is more than a building. It is more than a series of services. It is more than an organization.

The Church is a living, breathing organism. The Church’s breathe is the Holy Ghost. The Church’s body is made up of millions of blood bought, Holy Ghost filled saints. The Church’s cloak is one of righteousness. The Church’s authority is in the Name of Jesus. The Church’s foundation is a Rock that can not be moved.

The Church is greater than the sum of its parts.

Many times, we as the church, we look at ourselves as a minority. We see ourselves as small and without influence. We look at our local congregation and we are intimidated by the small percentage of our city that we pastor.

Yet, we are more than the sum of our parts. As one can put a 1000 to flight and 2 can put 10,000 to flight, so is the church more powerful than our collective numbers.

The gates of hell cannot with stand our force. The enemy cannot destroy us. Our culture cannot ignore us. The media cannot shame us into compliance.

The Church is powerful. The Church is effective. The Church is salt…a preservative. The Church is light…a piercing sword cutting through the darkness.

Lift up your head and know that we are the bride of Christ. We have his favor. We have His power. We are called for His purpose.

Move forward into revival without fear or intimidation.

The Church is greater than the sum of it's parts!

Saturday, December 9, 2006

I'll Be Home...

Home...What a warm and fulfilling word.

Anyone can build a house. However, a home is another story. Homes take effort, patience, love, forgiveness, and careful planning to create. Home is a place of the familiar. It is a comfortable place. No matter how small and simple or how large and opulent the structure, there truly is no place like home.

I am blessed to have more than one home. Here in Richmond, Indiana my home is modest yet warm and inviting. When I walk through these doors there is a peaceful rest that settles over me. It is my sanctuary from the cares of life. I can let down my defenses without fear. I can sprawl by the fire, read in my chair, cuddle with my children and hold my lovely wife. aaaaahhhh...home! Thank you Lord!

I have another home. It is 1000 miles away. I will go back there for Christmas. I still have a key to the back door, and "back door guest are best." When I walk in there I am home again. My room has been transformed into a "guest" room but I do not feel like a guest. As I enter, I get that same "at home" feeling that I get when I walk into my own home. Peace, acceptance, and love overshadow me. It is a familiar place. I raid the refrigerator and the pantry. I sample the culinary delights before they are quite ready for the table. I kid my sweet mother about not burning the bread, again. aaaaahhh...home! Thank you Lord.

I have yet another home. This home I have never been to. I have never had the pleasure of entering through it's gates. I have felt it's draw. I have sensed it's atmosphere. I have smelled it's sweet aroma. Heaven! Though, I have never been there, somehow, I know that when I enter in there that it will not feel foreign to me.

It will be like coming home. Even with all the glorious sites to see and it's unimaginable beauty, it will be a familiar place...I'll be home! My defenses will fall. My fears released. Peace, acceptance, and love will fold around me. My spirit will confirm that this is the place that I have always longed to be. aaaaahhh...home...finally! Praise the Lord!

During this time of year when we go back home for the holidays...let us remember that "this world is not our home...we're just-a-passin through."

Keeping Heaven in view! aaaaahhhh...home!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Inn Keeper Syndrome

Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem to be counted at the mandate of the government. They were frantically looking for a place to stay. Mary was going into labor. No doubt, the pains were growing close together.

They arrived at the Inn and knocked on the door. The Inn Keeper was honest with them. I do not believe that he was mean; he just told them the truth, "there is no room in the Inn."

His life was filled to capacity.

As an after thought, He made a place for them in the barn. Joseph, Mary and eventually Jesus was pushed to the back...they received the last available accommodation that the Inn Keeper had left.

We lament and look down our collective noses at the Inn Keeper..."How dare you! Do you not know who you are turning away?"

However, the Inn Keeper did not know who he was turning away...He had no idea...

Yet, we condemn him to an infamous status.

Are we not as guilty as he? In fact, I would propose that we are more guilty.

We know who we are serving. We know what he has done and what He can do. Yet, we push Him to the back of our lives so often.

So many times we have the Inn Keeper Syndrome. Our lives are filled to capacity. Comfort, pleasure, work, play, and the seemingly important soothes our hunger for God. These things fill us and occupy us so much until God becomes an after thought.

We push Him to the barn of our lives. He inhabits the fringes of our consciousness. Simply an after thought.

Let us empty ourselves. Let us wet our appetite for God. He must be our priority.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst...

The Inn Keeper Syndrome...

Rev 3:15-17
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

The Cure...

Ps 34:8
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good:

Matt 5:6
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

3 Christmas Gifts

There are many things that we can learn from these wise kings. These nuggets are like gifts...treasures...principles that we can hold and install in our lives. Let us look in to their lives and motivations.

  • The first principle that they brought us is the gift of Watchfulness.

These men were paying attention. They were diligently reading the signs of the times. As they gazed into the night sky studying the familiar, they saw an anomaly. What seemed to be a star. It seemed to be out of line...out of place. However it happened, one of them broached the thought...may be it's a sign. Through diligent study and spiritual perception they determined that it must be a sign of the birth of "the King of the Jews."

Oh, that we could be so sensitive to the subtle changes in our spiritual environment. As we go through our lives let us endeavor to perceive the motion, motive, and majesty of our King.

Let us be Watchful.

Mark 13:35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

  • The second principle that they brought us is the Gift of Commitment.

These men of wisdom, comfort, and wealth, left the comfort of their kingdoms and set out for a long journey. This type of journey was not easily taken. It was fraught with difficulty and danger. However, in spite of the hardship they committed to find this new born king.

They committed to seek the King, to endure the hardship, and to pay the price.

We would be wise to commit our lives to seeking the King; Commit to endure; Resolve to pay any price to find Him.

Let us be Committed.

2 Tim 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure.

  • The third principle that they gave us was the Gift of Value.

These men placed a high value on things that are truly valuable. They valued worshiping the King greater than their own comfort. They laid aside their own agenda to seek the Lord. They laid aside other temporal pursuits so that they could follow after the eternal.
If we would value the eternal more than the temporal we would be in awe of his majesty, his mercy, and his might.

Let us place the proper Value on the things of the Spirit.

Matt 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Matt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Wise men are watchful, committed, and have a proper perspective of the things of value in this life.

Let us be wise and cherish these three gifts this Christmas Holiday Season.

Friday, December 1, 2006

A Defining Moment

“When a defining moment comes along, you can do one of two things. Define the moment, or let the moment define you.” Author unknown

There are defining moments in our life. These are opportunities disguised as trials, obstacles, road blocks, sickness or adversity. These moments can cause us to cower in defeat or they can propel us to great victory.

We must refuse to allow, our circumstance, our weakness, our limitation or even our past, to define us.

The seed that grows in a perfect environment does not have the hardiness to endure the scorching sun, the turbulent winds, or the devastating drought. However, a seed that pushes its way through the rocky soil, withstands the winds of adversity, and thrives in spite of the elements, will survive and will stand strong for years to come.

Our response to adversity will define us.

Let us take out our pen of faith and begin to write on the tablets of history. Let us define ourselves as faithful; strong; committed; compassionate; determined. We are more than conquerors. We are over comers.

We refuse to allow our circumstance to hold us back from fulfilling our destiny.

God has called. God has empowered.

We will reap the harvest of souls. We will turn our city upside down. We will have revival. We will have a great victory.

We have an “Audacious destiny!” (D. G. Hargrove)

Today is a defining moment for the church...let us write a story of victory!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Navigating the Waters of What Really Matters, 3

The "Navigating" Series is a lesson series that I have put together for our church. Therefore, it is in outline form with some repetition in the body of the message. That is the reason it does not read like my normal articles.

Part 3

Matt 6:22-24

22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Luciano Pavarotti:

When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song, tenor Luciano Pavarotti relates. He urged me to work very hard to develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, I asked my father, "Shall I be a teacher or a singer?" "Luciano," my father replied, "if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair." I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it's laying bricks, writing a book--whatever we choose--we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that's the key. Choose one chair.

We Must Choose this Day Who We Will Serve

We can not be of two minds…A Double Minded Man is Unstable in All His Ways…

Finding Our Way

In the old days a sailor would find his way be using the things that he knew did not change…

He would gauge his position on the ocean by the Sun the Moon and the Stars. Using a sextant he could determine his latitude and therefore find his way through the vast uncharted ocean.

We today must navigate the waters of this world by the things that we know do not change…

1. We know that that God does not change…

Heb 13:8
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

James 1:17
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

2. We know that the Word of God will not pass away…

Mark 13:31
31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Psalms 119:89
89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Using the two immutable facts we can navigate the perilous waters of life and discern what really matters…WHAT REALLY MATTERS?

Who God is Really Does Matter…

1. God is One

2. Jesus is God

3. God is Holy

The Plan of Salvation Really Does Matter…

1. Faith

2. Repentance

3. Baptism

4. Holy Ghost

Church Attendance Really Does Matter…

Heb 10:25
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Preaching Really Does Matter…

Rom 10:14
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

1 Cor 1:20-21
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

Daily Devotion Really Does Matter…



Bible Study

Reading Inspirational Material

1Thes 5:17
17 Pray without ceasing.

2 Tim 2:15
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

It Really Does Matter!


Hope is a powerful concept.

Many times it is the difference in life and death; victory or defeat; perseverance or surrender.

Hope shines the light in the darkest hour.

However, there are times that hope seems to be a stranger. We have a hard time wrapping our heads around the concept. The things that we view with our five senses seem to overpower our faith. The thunder of the storm, drowns out hope's voice. Our fear disorients us so that we can not find a point of reference.

Jer 14:8 O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?

We ask in desperation, where is my Hope?

Just hold on! Do not stray from what has always brought you through. You cannot give up in disgust and say that there is no hope.

Know that tribulation is the incubator of hope.

I know; I know; that does not make sense. Tribulation kills hope right? No…for the righteous tribulation just proves what you had always known.

As you see the grace of God working in the midst of your tribulation it will open your eyes to His power, authority and compassion.

It will listen the feeling of desperation. Does it remove the pain? Not always.

But, it does give us the patience to endure.

Rom 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:…

Tribulation; Patience; Experience; It has been said that experience is the greatest teacher.

When we truly experience the sustaining power of our God there is nothing that can dissuade us, nothing that can move us from what God desires.

Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Tribulation; Patience; Experience; HOPE! Hope stands on the foundation experience and looks past the storm for the light of a new day. For our experience tells us that the sun will rise again.

Psalm 30:5 …weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Psalms 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

If you hope in God you will never be ashamed. He can not fail.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Purpose in the Storm

Crash! Boom! Bang! Waves! Wind! Turmoil!

Storms happen....even when you are doing what you are called to do...even when you are praying, fasting, and doing the right thing...

The storm brings fear, doubt and uncertainty. The storm makes you reassess your actions. Did I cause this? Did I choose the wrong direction?

Jesus told his disciples to get in the boat and go to the other side. They did exactly as they were told. The disciples got in the boat and started for the other side. They were in God's perfect will and purpose, yet, the storm arose and tossed them in the sea.

Then came Jesus walking on the waves. Speaking "peace be still," the winds and the waves ceased their roaring and rolling.

After that night they saw Jesus differently. They had seen Him as the healer, the teacher, the prophet but now they saw Him as God. They saw the ruler of nature; the ruler of the elements. It took the storm for them to see the power and majesty of their God.

Though your little boat is being tossed and torn by the winds and waves of life, You are in the perfect and absolute will of God. Look carefully through the haze and you will see the glow of the Master's face crossing the waves and you will hear His voice speaking peace to your situation.

Stand strong in the purpose of God. When the storm passes you will have a fresh glimpse of His power and majesty. He will reveal Himself in a whole new way.

Take courage... Stay the course... Hold to the things that will never fail...

Peace! Understanding! Revelation! Joy! Purpose!

Thursday, November 23, 2006


This is Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for...

My Family...

...My lovely wife, Dawn...My Smart, Handsome, Sensitive Boy, Simeon...My Beautiful, Smart, Spunky Girl, Anna...My Parents that have always provided support, love and care for me and my family

My Home...

...My sanctuary...a home full of peace and comfort is so valuable to me...

My Church...
...A faithful people...Revival and Harvest Minded...Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Lost Art of Loyalty

loy‧al‧ty - noun, plural -ties.
1.the state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations.
2.faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc. example or instance of faithfulness, adherence, or the like: a man with fierce loyalties.

Prov 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

Prov 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend...

Our culture has become a "dog eat dog" race for supremacy. Loyalty to ones country; to ones friends; to ones principles seem to have little value in our world today.

However, in reality, LOYALTY, and the trust that follows hand in hand with it, are some of the most valuable resources a person can possess.

Jonathan, Saul's son, should have been king. He was in line for the throne of Israel. Most men would have possessed it at all cost. They would not have let anyone get in their way. Yet, when the Lord removes the throne from the lineage of Saul, Jonathan accepts it and stays loyal to the freshly anointed David.

David understood the value of that loyalty. He repaid Jonathan's faithfulness by giving Mephibosheth, Jonathan's son, a place at his table for life.

We must install the principle of loyalty into our lives. We must be loyal to God, our church, our family, our principles, and our friends.

I hope that it would be said of me..."Kevin was a loyal friend"..."You can count on him"..."His word is his bond."

Let us keep confidences; let us believe the best; let us stand by our principles; let us be faithful men; loyal to the last…

Let us rediscover the lost art of loyalty...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Navigating the Waters of What Really Matters, 2

The "Navigating" Series is a lesson series that I have put together for our church. Therefore, it is in outline form with some repetition in the body of the message. That is the reason it does not read like my normal articles.

Part 2

Matt 23:23-24

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes: Worth 2.5 billion dollars at his death, he was the richest man in the United States. He owned a private fleet of jets, hotels and casinos. When asked to claim his body, his nearest relative, a distant cousin, exclaimed, “Is this Mr. Hughes?” He had spent the last 15 years of his life a drug addict, too weak in the end to even administer the shots to himself. His 6’4” frame had shrunk to 6’1” and he weighed only 90 lbs.

Not a single acquaintance or relative mourned his death. The only honor he received was a moment of silence in his Las Vegas casinos. Time magazine put it this way: “Howard Hughes’ death was commemorated in Las Vegas by a minute of silence. Casinos fell silent. Housewives stood uncomfortable clutching their paper cups full of coins at the slot machines, the blackjack games paused, and at the crap tables the stickmen cradled the dice in the crook of their wooden wands. Then a pit boss looked at his watch, leaned forward and whispered, “O.K., roll the dice. He’s had his minute.”

Time, December 13, 1976

What Really Matters?

Finding Our Way

In the old days a sailor would find his way be using the things that he knew did not change…

He would gauge his position on the ocean by the Sun the Moon and the Stars. Using a sextant he could determine his latitude and therefore find his way through the vast uncharted ocean.

We today must navigate the waters of this world by the things that we know do not change…

1. We know that that God does not change…

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

2. We know that the Word of God will not pass away

Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Psalms 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Using the two immutable facts we can navigate the perilous waters of life and discern what really matters…


Who God is Really Does Matter…

1. God is One

2. Jesus is God

3. God is Holy

The Plan of Salvation Really Does Matter…

1. Faith

Heb 11:6

6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

2. Repentance

3. Baptism

4. Holy Ghost

John 3:1-7

1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Acts 2:38

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 10:44-48

44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Acts 19:2-6

2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

The Plan of Salvation Really Does Matter!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Navigating the Waters of What Really Matters, 1

The "Navigating" Series is a lesson series that I have put together for our church. Therefore, it is in outline form with some repetition in the body of the message. That is the reason it does not read like my normal articles.

Part 1

Ecclesiastes 1:13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. 16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Psalms 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.

Two Directions

Solomon sought out the wisdom of this world. He sought satisfaction in worldly and sensual pleasure. It left him empty and seemingly bitter…

Eccl 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

David sought the things of God…

Ps 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.

Psalms 107:8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

Siren Song

In Greek mythology, the Sirens were nymphs that lived on an island call Sirenum Scopuli. They would sing their spellbinding song and lure the passing sailors into the rocks where their ships would be destroyed and they would be devoured.

Odysseus escaped the Sirens by having all his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast. He was curious as to what the Sirens sounded like. When he heard their beautiful song, he ordered the sailors to untie him but they ignored him. When they had passed out of earshot, Odysseus stopped thrashing about and calmed down, and was released (Odyssey XII, 39).

This Worlds Song

This worlds siren song is calling to men and women, young and old…the sounds of it are beautiful…yet the end of it are destruction and ship wreck.

It lures the unsuspecting soul into its rocks of heart ache, addiction and destruction.

It also calls us to except alternative thought processes… It is calling us to be tolerant of sin and false doctrine….

The Remedy

We must turn a deaf ear toward the things of this world and turn an open heart toward the things of God.

Toward the things THAT REALLY MATTER…

There are absolutes in this life…Truth is Truth no matter what the world says or even when it is ignored or not is still truth!

Finding Our Way

In the old days a sailor would find his way by using the things that he knew did not change…

He would gauge his position on the ocean by the Sun the Moon and the Stars. Using a sextant and a chart he could determine his latitude and therefore find his way through the vast oceans.

We today must navigate the waters of this world by the things that we know do not change…

1. We know that that God does not change…

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

2. We know that the Word of God will not pass away

Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Psalms 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Using the two immutable facts we can navigate the perilous waters of life and discern what really matters…


Who God is Really Does Matter…

1. God is One

Deut 6:4

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

Isa 44:6

6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Isa 45:6

6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.

Hosea 13:4

4 Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.

2. Jesus is God

Isa 9:6-7

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Col 2:9-10

9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

3. God is Holy

Ps 99:9

9 Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.

Exod 15:11

11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

Ps 30:4

4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Who God is Really Does Matters!


A friend of mine was listening to a radio preacher several years ago and they were speaking on the subject of “dis-encouragement,” all through their lesson they continued to use this incorrect word. We have had many laughs over this person’s simple mistake. We will look at each other and say, “don’t be dis-encouraged.”

However, there may be some wisdom in this misuse of terminology. We as human beings go through cycles of encouragement that take us high into the stratosphere of hope only to be met with some new challenge that sends us crashing into the basement of discouragement. This could be called the cycle of “dis-encouragement.”

We as Pastors, Ministers and leaders face this on a daily basis. We receive a call from one soul that is making progress and we can see Jesus using our ministry to build stability in their lives and we are bolstered by their achievements. Then the phone rings and the bad news hits! Brother So-and-so has fallen; or has cancer; has lost his job; has lost a loved one and our emotions plummet to the ground.

We preach on Sunday and everything flows so easily. The worship soars and the wind of the Holy Ghost blows through the service and lives are changed forever. Then mid-week rolls around and the crowd is down and those that do show up are tired from the daily grind. The music skips a beat and the message seems to fall from your lips to the floor in front of the pulpit.

Up and down we’ll go; where we’ll stop no one knows!

David experienced this in his life many times. The thrill of defeating the lion and the bear empowered his soul. UP! The loneliness of the field and the solitude of shepherding would grip his heart. DOWN! The profound experience of the anointing oil flowing over his head and the prayer of ordination burned in his heart and in his ears. UP! Spears thrown! Songs sung! Fleeing death! Giants killed! The Cave! The Throne! Defeat! Victory! Sin! Forgiveness!

Up and down! Over and over!

The cycles of our lives can be disconcerting at the least and devastating at the most. However, you are not alone. I understand as a Pastor you have to be the pillar of strength for your family, your spouse, and your church. I understand the feelings of inadequacy so well. They haunt my mind on a daily basis. I also know that on this roller-coaster called leadership we must keep in mind that we are not alone.

Remember, God is with us! Emmanuel! There is no shadow of turning in Him. He does not get “dis-encouraged.” Lean. Fall. Run. Kneel at His feet. He will strengthen you. Just as David encouraged himself in the Lord and called for the ephod so that he could inquire of the Lord. We must allow Him to be God in our lives too. Just because we are called to lead does not mean that we do not need Him to minister to us.

He will strengthen you! He will lead you! He will stabilize your roller-coaster!

It is time to… re-encourage…re-pray…re-hope…re-worship…REJOICE!

What Do You Love?

Our passions are revealed by what we talk about, what we make time for, and what we get excited about. It is amazing that when we are enthusiastic about something we have no trouble finding the time in our otherwise busy schedules for that activity. Yet when we do not have a passion for something we can not seem to fit it in anywhere into our life.

For many it is impossible to find the time to pray, witness, read the word, and even come to church faithfully. Yet, they have no trouble finding time to golf, fish, hunt, play games, and spend time with the things they love to do or the people they love to be around. Our trouble seems to be a love problem.

What do we love? We need to cultivate a passion, a love and an enthusiasm for God and the things of God. When we are in love with someone we want to talk to them and be with them at all cost…time, distance or money can not stop us. When we are passionate about something it bleeds into every conversation. This love becomes priority.

Let's make our relationship with God our priority! Nothing can keep us away from His house, prayer will be something we want to do, giving will be something that we treasure and witnessing will overflow from our heart of love for him.

The old song says "I keep falling in love with Him over and over again." Let's do!

The Green House Effect, A Spiritual Climate Change

In our, generally accepted, church dialect we have many words, phrases and ideas that have been incorrectly defined and misused. One of the most misused terms is the word revival. We have placed many definitions on or around this word such as…

1. a scheduled set of services usually with an evangelist or special speaker
2. an abstract happening that will spur growth and spark our churches to a higher spiritual growth and culminate in numerical growth

These are fine definitions, however so many times we have looked at revival as such an abstract thing that we are waiting on. We use phrases such as revival is coming. We are praying for revival. We place it out in the future like it is in a delivery truck headed our way. We are waiting for the stars to align and for God to get ready to pour it on us or to deliver it on the back of His Holy Fedex truck.

However, I do not believe that we have to wait on God. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He is not sitting by in your city letting people die and go to hell just so he can deliver revival on a particular day. He is ready now! He does not want anyone to go to hell.

We are not waiting on him, but he is waiting on us! We must instigate a spiritual climate change in our churches.

If you desire to have growth in some agricultural way, what would you do? You would build a green house that had the perfect environment for whatever plant you wanted to grow. You would make sure the temperature was right, you would put the right nutrients into the soil and you would have the precise watering and pruning regiment. You would plant the seed and then things would begin to happen. This is natural law. Nothing could stop its progress as long as the climate or atmosphere was correct.

This is very similar to having growth in our churches. Growth is not something abstract that is waiting until a specific time. It is a law that will submit to “The Green House Effect.”

When we change or set the climate of our church to one that is conducive to growth we will automatically see growth and nothing will be able to stop it.

We must change the climate of our churches to one of biblical holiness, love, acceptance, spontaneous worship and the powerful demonstration of the Spirit. We will then have “revival” and growth in our cities.

We as leaders must be the thermostat. We have the ability to change the climate. God will honor His word and the laws which it contains. Set, cast, and preach the vision and God will open the eyes of the congregation. He will raise their expectation level. When their expectation level rises the excitement will be contagious. There is no stopping a church that is hot with “revival,” because the people will sound the alarm and the whole city will come and watch it burn!

My Education

I am a graduate of Jackson College of Ministries. Some may say that Bible College has little value, however, I disagree emphatically. I would not trade the three years that I spent there.

The classes were great, the spiritual development exponential and the friendships invaluable. Yet the Bible College experience was not my greatest source of education.

I have furthered my education through seminars, community colleges, and universities.
These institutions have expanded my horizons and opened my eyes to many truths and also to many misconceptions, yet these have not given me the education needed to be successful in the work of God.

My greatest source of education has been at the feet of great men.

When Jehoshaphat was going into battle he understood the necessity of consulting with a prophet that could hear the voice of God. He asked the question in II Kings 3:11-12 “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord?” The answer that he received was this; “Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.

Elisha did not have a long list of credentials. The only testimony of Elisha’s education was that he served a great man.

In my ministry some may ask “What are your credentials that you would be chosen to pastor or to lead anyone?” My answer is that I had the opportunity to pour water on the hands of great men.

The investment that has been made in my life can not be measured in degrees, or valued in monetary terms.

In my life I have had the opportunity to sit at the feet of many great men.

First of all, as I had mentioned, I attended Bible College. It was not the classes or the services that had the most profound effect on my life though they were valuable and life changing in many ways. Yet, it was Rev. J. Michael Seal, my Dean of Theology, which took the time to pour himself into me.

I was reminded of his valuable contribution to my life when I had the privilege of having him come to my church and preach. He blessed the church so much with his profound yet simple way of communicating. We sat hour upon hour talking about God and what He has done and what He can do. As we spoke, my mind went back to those days long ago when my friend and I would sit in Brother Seal’s living room asking questions and listening to his insight for hours on end. The treasure I found was beyond comprehension.

For six years of my ministry I spent at a home for abused and neglected children. I served a man of great compassion and great leadership. Rev. Stephen M. Drury taught me compassion for those who could not return your investment.

Through his example of love and compassion I learned that eternal investments were more profitable than those investments that can be measured immediately. Also, his leadership and administrative ability has few equals.

His greatest gift to me was trust. He put his trust in me as a very young man. He placed the care and administration of Tupelo Children’s Mansion into the hands of a twenty-four-year-old. His trust challenged me to rise to new heights and to stretch my potential beyond my abilities.

The next six years of my ministry I spent in a revival church. I had the opportunity to serve one of the greatest men that I know.

Rev. D. G. Hargrove taught me that if I will allow God to flow through my “open hand,” He will use me as a conduit for blessing and power. Through his example of love, compassion and wisdom I glimpsed a true pastor’s heart.

His generosity is unmatched. Through him I learned invaluable nuggets of wisdom such as “do not build buildings; build people and the building will come,” and “use money; love people…not love money; use people.” I saw his passion for winning souls, not gathering numbers. I learned that it is not about me and “my” ministry but it is about God and His glory. He pastors one of the largest churches in the Texas District, yet his humility keeps him from proclaiming it.

He taught me that learning how to flow in the Spirit is more important than sermonizing. The lessons learned at his feet are too numerous to tell.

Words cannot express my gratitude to these men for their investment in me. They would all say that I have blessed them more than they blessed me, yet I am the one who has been eternally blessed.

When someone asks for my credentials I want it to be said that “he is the one that poured water on the hands of great men of God.”

I would say to every young man, find a man of God and serve him. Your faithfulness will be rewarded in due season. Do not seek position but seek to serve. Be loyal, be faithful, be observant. Listen, and your life and ministry will be blessed.

To every minister of experience, I would say, find a hungry God called young man or woman and pour yourself into them. They want to be used of God. Your investment will bring eternal rewards.

I pray that your education will be as valuable as mine.

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