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The Gospel according to … YOU??

19 Dec

Last night in worship, we looked at the Prologue to the Gospel of John and the first few verses of I John.  Both passages are very similar, and in them John makes a couple of strong points:  He was only sharing what he KNEW TO BE TRUE.  From FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE.  And, he shared that Jesus Christ IS THE SON OF GOD.  IS ETERNAL.  IS THE AGENT OF CREATION.  (The list goes on and on).

But, what we explored last night was the idea that John knew the obligation he had to share what he knew.  Have we shared what we know to be true about Christ with the world??  Even with our families?  What if all the books were destroyed and all that was left to lead our families to His throne was what we wrote because we know it to be true?  In other words, if you wrote all that you KNOW to be true about God down in a book, how would it  read?

It’s a compelling thought.  What do I KNOW to be true about Christ?  Do I share it with those I love?  This Christmas season, you can give those you love the greatest gift of all … tell them what you KNOW to be true about God!!!

A Great War is Waging

27 Sep

There is a great war waging right now in a variety of locations around the world.  One that might seem insignificant is waging in Florence, SC, as we speak.  It is not a conventional battle, but one on spiritual realms.  For Ebenezer Baptist Church.

God is taking hold of His church in a mighty way and Satan doesn’t like it!!  And he is doing everything he can do to pull us away from God and away from each other.  He will use pride, greed, power, envy, rage, and everything else we will allow him to use to accomplish this mission.  Satan loves to inhabit the conflict of God’s people and he wants to do a real number on us right now.  We must not allow him!!

I sit back and watch and it just makes me hurt.  I’ve seen Ed, Justin, Pam, and Andi under attack.  I’ve watched dear friends of mine come under attack.  I’ve seen this church under attack.  And I’ve been hit by too many flaming darts myself.  The time is NOW church for us to PRAY FOR EACH OTHER!!  Dig into God’s word, put on the full armor of God, and DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN!!!

Specifically, do not allow Satan to have any strongholds in your life.  If we all would do this and get back to loving each other, this entire world would change!!!  All starting from an “insignificant spot” on the globe called Ebenezer …

If Life were a sitcom …

6 Jul

I am a product of the TV generation!  I freely admit it!  I grew up watching wayyyy too much television!  The only positive to this is I can KILL: you on 70s and 80s tv and movie trivia!!!

What if life were like a sitcom??  Then every man would be a blithering idiot … every woman a genius … and almost every problem of life solved within 30 minutes!!!  Oh, if that last one were only true!!

The problems of life come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Some last only minutes, some are with us for decades.  Some are easily solved, some take great pain and much time.  Sometimes I wonder if, deep down, tv has conditioned us to always expect the easy answers and quick solutions??  If so, maybe that’s why we get so frustrated with life!!!

SLOW DOWN AND KNOW THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL.  He really is!!!

OK … enough blogging … I Love Lucy has got to be on some channel ….

The Thorns

13 Apr

Not much said about the thorns in Matthew 13. At least, in tha parable of the sower. But Jesus was very clear about the meaning of the thorns later in that chapter!

The thorns, that grow up among the seeds and choke them out, are the worries of life and the pursuit of riches. The obsession with worldly things! When worldly things and material needs become more important to us than the things of God, we are in trouble. Big trouble!

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said this another way: You cannot serve two masters! You cannot serve God and earthly wealth! It will never work!

The pursuit of earthly things will choke out the joy, peace, purpose, and focus of the kingdom of God! And, if you choose this, it will bring nothing but heartache!

Rocky Places

12 Apr

Yesterday I blogged about the hardened soil Jesus spoke of in Matthew 13. Today, the rocky soil:

Jesus said the rocky soil is shallow. Specifically, there is not much depth. There is nowhere for the seed to take root.

Have you ever tried to dig in rocky soil? I have. Often it looks like any other kind of soil on the surface. But all it takes is one stick of the shovel to know the work will be ten times harder. But, if you have to dig there, you do it!!!

How do we allow our soil to get this way? I’m convinced we do it when we hide the rocks in our lives. We try to smooth things over and hide them from the world … from each other …and from God. And, for some reason, we have to hold on to those rocks.

What are the rocks? I don’t know, exactly. But they are things each of us feel a need to hide. So they must not be good! And as long as we hold on to them, they will prevent the seed from taking root in our lives. So they are bad, indeed!

The rocky soil gives a phony front. The seed springs up quickly and looks really healthy. But at the first resistance, it falls over because it had no soil to hold on to.

Do you have rocks? What do you think is the right thing to do about them?

Which soil are you?? Maybe the path?

11 Apr

Yesterday I preached from Matthew 13,  Jesus and the parable of the sower.  In that parable there were four types of soil described.  This week I’ve decided to explore those types.  So, here goes number one:

The Path is a hardened heart.  We don’t know why that heart is hard, but it is.  Maybe it claims to be hardened by the cruel world.  Maybe by cruel people that call themselves followers of Christ.  Maybe by the circumstances of life … by the hands its been dealt.  No matter the reason, this heart is hard.  And its in grave danger.

“Grave danger?”  “Is there any other kind??”

If a heart is hard, its an easy target for Satan.  Like the birds, he picks the seed of the gospel off easily.  He wards off attempts from people of God to befriend and comfort the hard-hearted.  He isolates the hardened one, tells them they are all alone, and traps them in their own belief.  And he is LYING.

God loves us all. There is NEVER a reason for any of us to be alone as long as God is on His throne and Ebenezer’s doors are opened!!  He will be on His throne for eternity, and if WE are doing our jobs, we will reach out until HE says enough!!!

So what are we to do??  Check the texture of our heart … Towards God AND others … And, when we are called to minister to the hard-hearted, DON’T GIVE UP SO EASILY!!!!!

Another day in Paradise

30 Mar

Are you thankful?  I mean, TRULY thankful for all God puts into your life??

Here we are with another day before us.  Another opportunity to serve Him.  Another day to live, breathe, and enjoy His creation.  And another day to make a difference!  Some of us have problems??  Maladies??  I hear ya … All of us do on some level …

The real question for all of us is this:  What will YOU make of this day??  Because today is a fresh start.   A new day.

Thank you, God, for another day in paradise!!

Communicating the Vision

4 Nov

I am currently sitting in a breakout group that is honestly recapping a lot of what I’ve heard all week here. And one of the things I hear LOUD AND CLEAR is the need for effectively communicating the vision.

I’ve always been a believer in the fact that GOD sets the vision for Ebenezer Baptist Church. In fact, I believe the vision He has for us is sound and biblical. I also know everyone will not agree with this vision and some will rebel against it. But the fact remains that God is CLEAR what He wants Ebenezer Baptist Church to do … to BE.

God is clearly calling us to reach THE LOST. Those that DO NOT KNOW JESUS CHRIST as their Savior. And there are PLENTY within the reach of our arms that do not know Him. And don’t know anyone who would disagree with this vision so far … The failure we are experiencing is largely in our approach.

We’ve GOT TO MOVE BEYOND OUR IDEA THAT WE CAN JUST “BE” Ebenezer Baptist Church and expect the lost to come running to us!!! That might’ve worked 50 years ago, but it will not work today! We need to consider ourselves as MISSIONARIES and be willing to do what it takes to reach our target!! Just like Paul … to be all things to all people (as much as we are able) so that we might reach some!!

Are we willing to do that?? Even if it meant redefining how and where we worship? Are we willing to inconvenience ourselves and possibly let go of some of our preconceived notions about what should be?? This WILL require us to step out of our comfort and into the breach. Are you up to it?

IF SO, then I AM BEGGING YOU TO JOIN ME. Begin by praying about all of this and asking God WHAT HE WANTS. This is not about David Wike. This is not about ____________ (put your own name there). This is about WHAT GOD WANTS. And if it becomes about anything else, it will fail miserably.

NEXT ITEM:
Put YOUR FAITH INTO ACTION. Ed Stetzer challenged us this week with this thought:
We all know that 80 percent of the work in a church is done by 20 percent of the people, right?? That is just an accepted fact of church in the South. THAT IS A SIN!! God gave EACH OF US GIFTS and HE EXPECTS US TO USE THEM. Are you willing?

This will be a viral thing … What are you willing TO DO for the kingdom?? Help with video ministry?? Help with greeting?? Cut grass?? WHAT IS IT GOD WANTS YOU TO DO?? NOW is the time to get off the couch and FIND IT and DO IT!!! We need it desperately! PEOPLE NEED TO GET INVOLVED AND SERVE THE LORD!!

Finally (for THIS post), it is time to put our money where our mouths are … It is time to get serious about GIVING to GOD!! If every family tithed on the average income level of our area, our budget would exceed $3million dollars. Right now, we are struggling to make a $1.1 million budget and considering how we can tighten our belts for next year.

Don’t get me wrong, we NEED to be frugal and responsible in how we spend God’s money. But the shame in all of this is ministries will suffer simply because God’s people are not being faithful and giving to Him. How can you make a difference?? Good question!! ASK THE ONE WHO WILL GIVE YOU THE RIGHT ANSWER TO THAT … GOD!! Start praying about it NOW!!

If you want to catch a little more of this fire that God is lighting, COME TO WORSHIP THIS SUNDAY MORNING!!! I PROMISE YOU WON’T REGRET IT!!! In fact, I DARE YOU TO COME AND ALLOW YOUR FAITH TO BE PUSHED!!

I wondered why God brought me here

3 Nov

This week I am at the Worship Facilities Expo in Atlanta. I wondered why God brought me here … Something compelled me to come and I was unsure what it was. I just wondered if it was because I needed a little break or something … But God had another plan.
Because HE has shown up in a big way. I don’t know how many churches are represented here this week, but I am finding that many, many churches face the same issues we face. And we ALL need to refocus on God and what HE is doing. We as churches try to plan too much sometimes. Our faith is weak. We need HIM to make it, NOT US!!!
Ironic that I’ve been working on a sermon for Sunday out of Joshua 24. And God CLEARLY put some things on my heart from these sessions to share. It’s almost as if He brought me here to make me sit down and listen to a message I’ve got to take back to Florence.
I am praying for you this week, Ebenezer. I hope you are praying for me (and you can pray for Robbie and Dean, too)!!!

I wondered why God brought me here …

3 Nov

This week I am at the Worship Facilities Expo in Atlanta.  I wondered why God brought me here … Something compelled me to come and I was unsure what it was.  I just wondered if it was because I needed a little break or something … But God had another plan.
Because HE has shown up in a big way.  I don’t know how many churches are represented here this week, but I am finding that many, many churches face the same issues we face.  And we ALL need to refocus on God and what HE is doing.  We as churches try to plan too much sometimes.  Our faith is weak.  We need HIM to make it, NOT US!!!
Ironic that I’ve been working on a sermon for Sunday out of Joshua 24.  And God CLEARLY put some things on my heart from these sessions to share.  It’s almost as if He brought me here to make me sit down and listen to a message I’ve got to take back to Florence.
I am praying for you this week, Ebenezer.  I hope you are praying for me (and you can pray for Robbie and Dean, too)!!!