Archive | July, 2013

The Future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades

22 Jul

From where I sit, the future is EXTREMELY BRIGHT for those who follow the Lord!!  If you really believe Psalm 46, then once again we KNOW there is nothing to fear for those who follow God.  Those who make His will and His word a priority in their lives WILL FACE CHALLENGES, but none of these challenges are any match for our Mighty God!

As I prepare to visit Honduras and spend time with churches who really place God above ALL in their daily lives, I covet that same heart for Ebenezer.  We live in a world that works to separate us from God and actively (and aggressively) seeks to push God to the outside of the mainstream.  What the world doesn’t realize is that Jesus talked about “the mainstream” in Matthew 7:13 when He said “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (NIV)

I believe with all my heart that God is calling Florence, SC, back to Him.  And it starts at Ebenezer Baptist Church in the hearts of BELIEVERS.  And it spreads from there!!  As I pray and think about the next few weeks and months, I pray that we are not only up to the challenge, but that we will step up and follow Him with ALL THAT WE ARE.

Be Still and KNOW

21 Jul

Be Still and KNOW from Ebenezer BC on Vimeo.

Backsliding??

17 Jul

What an old school term … But relevant for today.

In the devotional I received today from the Blackaby Spiritual Leadership Network was this:

Backsliding is a common term in the church. It usually refers to people who do not attend services regularly as they once did. But of course, there is far more to it than that.

Backsliding means our heart and devotion for Christ have declined in their fervency. It signifies that something has been lost. We are not in the same place with God we once were.

There can be innumerable explanations and excuses for this. “I have been so busy lately!” “I don’t care for the pastor’s preaching.” “I don’t feel like I fit in.” “I am taking a little break.” But the truth is, our heart has turned away from our God.

The remedy to backsliding is to return to God. God has not gone anywhere! We have! So it is our response that is crucial. Thankfully, God not only welcomes us back, but He urges us to come.

Does any of this seem familiar??  Awesome thoughts that were too good not to share.  If you want more information about the Blackaby SLN, check them out here:  http://www.blackaby.net/sli/sln/

Purpose WITHIN the Church

15 Jul

In a little over a week, I have a tremendous privilege waiting for me in Honduras:  I will have an opportunity or two to sit down with pastors and talk about what God is doing in their midst.  I am NOT an expert, but we will share about vision … about developing leaders … about Biblical authority … and about anything else that is on their hearts.  And it all leads to PURPOSE.

When I read The Purpose Driven Church (by Rick Warren), it was an eye-opening experience for me.  Proverbs 29:18 says “Without vision, people perish.”  Without a God-given purpose, the CHURCH is in danger of perishing right before our eyes!!  HOW do we discover our purpose as a church??  SEEK GOD’S FACE and ASK HIM!!  We (the ministerial staff of EBC) have been doing this lately.  Spending time together and apart seeking God’s face and asking Him what HE wants to accomplish with Ebenezer.  When we look at where He is at work, it’s not hard to see:  Children’s ministry, Youth ministry, families, the TONS of lost people within the shadow of our steeple.  Ebenezer has much to do and we are constantly seeking His guidance to prioritize how to accomplish His will.

How about you?  Where do YOU fit in?  Have you ever considered that the purpose of the church defines itself as each of US find OUR purpose in His kingdom??  As we do the will of God in our lives, the purpose of the church will be accomplished.  God WILL give us the vision, but we must do His will for each of us to accomplish that vision.  This all hinges on YOU … and ME.

Will we accomplish His will??  That remains to be seen …. But I sure hope so!!

Today’s sermon: Authority

14 Jul

Authority from Ebenezer BC on Vimeo.

In Honduras Mode

11 Jul

I’m getting ready … In my heart and mind, I am really focusing on Honduras.  We leave on July 24th and several truths apply here:

1.  When you pray and ask God to give you focus, HE DOES!!

2.  When I work towards a goal like that, I have this energy to help complete the things I need to get done HERE before I leave.  It is a drive.  It’s like I’m drinking Redbull but I don’t EVER drink that stuff …

3.  Every time God is doing something big, I feel it in my heart.  And this time I SURE do.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks preparing for our mission AND finishing some projects at the church that need to be done by the first of August.  Haven’t really blogged much lately, and that is ok.  I hope I will have plenty to share on the other side of this mission trip!!!

Today’s Sermon: He Calms the Storm

7 Jul

He Calms the Storm from Ebenezer BC on Vimeo.

A humbling opportunity

3 Jul

Here I sit.  Studying.  In a quiet place.  NOT preparing a sermon or a Bible study.  But studying and praying, because a significant event is coming up and I am not ready.

In a few weeks, I will have a chance to do a couple/several pastor’s conferences in Honduras.  The moment will come when I will have opportunities to build into the lives of men (some of whom I already know and love and some I have yet to meet) who live a world away from us.  And all I can do right now is seek God’s face and continually ask Him, “Lord, what do you want me to say??”

I do not have it all figured out.  In fact, based on which members of Ebenezer you might ask, I have VERY LITTLE figured out.  (I, too, know this, but hoped I had done a better job of hiding it – :-))  The most important question in all of this for me is “God, what do YOU want them to hear??”

It is not that we in the US have it all figured out.  We are NOT worldwide church experts, let alone LOCAL experts.  In fact, most of what we do locally in SC WOULD NEVER WORK in Honduras.  The contexts are very different.  To our shame, we as churches have so many more resources and opportunities available to us.  And we seldom take advantage of them.  The churches in Honduras are RICH IN FAITH and RICH IN WILLINGNESS TO SERVE.  In some ways, they need to teach me!!

As I wrote above, I know some of these men and already have a great respect and love for them.  And I am praying that God will speak through me, because HE has PLENTY TO SAY!!!  Please pray for me in the next few weeks!

Walking among Giants

1 Jul

I walked among giants today… It was the first time in a long time that we have done something like this.  Perhaps too long.

Today, on my first day back from my real vacation, I met with the ministers of Ebenezer for most of the day.  And we talked.  We evaluated.  We dreamed.  We prayed for His vision for our church.  And we continue to do so.

And as I sat in that room I realized I was surrounded by GIANTS… Not the mean, Jack-in-the-Beanstalk variety of giant … But people who cast very large shadows in the kingdom of God.  People of faith.  People of vision and mission.  And we are fortunate enough to call them our church staff!!

Nathan, our newest member, brings a fresh perspective and a great passion for what he is called to do.  I really like his insight, because it is not jaded by circumstances or past experiences.  Andi, who has such a passion for children and their families that it brings her to tears.  Often.  Pam, who all of us agree is the GLUE that holds everything together.  Ed, who has been on staff at EBC the longest and brings a wealth of history AND spiritual insight.  And then there is me.

We did an exercise where we each identified one positive for every person in the room.  I was humbled by what they said about me.  And I am sitting there thinking about how much I really don’t deserve to be their pastor and their leader.  I had a week off to think about this meeting, and quite honestly, I am in awe of these four that surround me and carry their load and then some.  And I KNOW as all of us pray, God will provide GREAT THINGS that build HIS KINGDOM … and not ours!!

I guess what I am trying to write is this:  I am THANKFUL for Ed, Pam, Andi, and Nathan, and the GIGANTIC FAITH with which they walk.  I hope you are, too!!