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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Partners and Presenters for Bible Lessons

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. - Ecc. 4:9-10 (NASB)

Prayer partners work well.  Accountability partners keep you honest and on your toes. A teaching partner should do the job of both as well as help you lead the Bible lesson.

For those of you who teach the Bible, find you a partner.  Find you someone who can pray with you and for you as you prepare your Sunday school lesson.  If you lead a small group, let your partner know as you begin to prepare.  Invite your partner to check in with you or to study the Scriptures with you in preparation.  Let them share insights with you and hear your concerns about nervousness and issues.

You might need this same person to hold you accountable.  You may be ready to skip some tough issues that are in the Bible lesson.  Be sure that your partner is a person of conviction who will tell you to keep to the text and keep it real.  You need someone who will force you to cut it straight and ensuring that you are rightly dividing the word of truth.

Friday, December 16, 2011

8But you must defend
those who are helpless
and have no hope.
9Be fair and give justice
to the poor and homeless
- Proverbs 31:8-9 (CEV)

We all should question ourselves.  We must answer for what we do and we fail to do.

I love the opening chapter of The Street Lawyer by John Grisham, I love the line of questioning by one of D.C.'s homeless brothers to a room of high-priced attorneys whom he has taken hostage of in their office:
  1. How much money did you make last year?
  2. How much money did you give to charity (to the poor and the needy) last year?
Doesn't that make sense to you? Do the math.  #1 may outweigh #2, but there needs to be some actual figures for each one of those.  For instance, if #1 for you is $100,000 and #2 is $10,000, then you have given 10% of your income to charity.  No matter if you gave to the animal shelter, the rescue mission or the youth ceneter, that money went towards people doing good works.
It reminds me of an old school Hollywood flick called Boys Town.  I saw it before Ted Turner started touching up the old black and white movies, but even after it has been remastered, it still has an old school flavor to it.  Spencer Tracy plays an inner city priest who watches over a flock of unwanted urban youth, offering them compassion and hope despite poverty and the dire conditions of the city life.  It reminds me of Sleepers.  The one where Dinero plays the priest who is smoking either Pall Malls or Lucky Strikes.  He plays the part where he offers an alibi for the kids-turned-adults who murder an abusive juvenile detention center guard.  That was "Sleepers," not "Boys Town."  They're not the same movie or even the same type of movie, but they have similar characters.  They have the guy- whether he's a priest or not- who looks out for the youth of the community beyond their spiritual needs and offers a role model or father figure for them to look up to and see working within the community. 

Every community needs both groups of people.  Each community needs someone who will give some part of what they have to help others and those who serve to help others.  It's philanthropy.  We need more people giving towards good causes.  We need people to offer a helping hand by being a role model or a father figure, even a big brother or big sister.  Plenty of kids desire to have someone show them some love and appreciation.  The elderly want that, too.  The disabled want it just like everyone else does.

Be a voice for others.  Be a helping hand for others.  Make a difference with what God has given to you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Leave a Legacy Behind

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We lead people.  We do it in church.  We do it in community.  We lead people.

What do we leave behind?

We work tirelessly.  We leave a trail of blood, sweat and tears behind.  We put in long hours and endless days.  We end up doing much more than we ever make out of any of what we are given.  We do a lot and end up with little to show for it.

You need to leave a legacy behind.  You need to be sure to train your replacement and take him or her under your wing.  Make an impact in your community.  Make a difference in this world.  Take the opportunity to leave a legacy behind.  Plant seeds today that will lead to a bountiful harvest in the future.

The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways. - Proverbs 14:14 (ESV)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Size Matters in Ministry

25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. - Acts 11:25-26 (NIV)

Paul (Saul) and Barnabas went to Antioch on a mission.  Earlier, in verses 20-21, men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and shared the "good news" and "a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord." Word of this reached Jerusalem and Barnabas, who was "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith", was sent to Antioch where he encouraged the believers (vv. 22-24).  That's when he went for reinforcements, seeking out Paul (Saul) in Tarsus.

The Book of Acts gives the Bible reader an account of the missionary journeys of Paul.  Barnabas, also known as "Son of Encouragement," went to Tarsus and brought his partner to Antioch.  They spent a year there, teaching and discipling a diverse population of believers.  Obviously, they did some good works because the people were called "Christians," followers of Christ.  At some point, their teaching and fellowship must have hit home with those with whom they shared the Word of God.

Think it through.  There were those who brought the Good News that sparked the movement among the people.  Barnabas stepped in and offered some support to the new converts.  After that experience, Paul (Saul) was brought in to assist Barnabas in discipling the people at Antioch.  That was teamwork.  The teamwork occurred in phases or stages.

We need to examine the example of these men further.  Our ministries need to do something similar.  There needs to be a team who can go into uncharted territory and break new ground with the Gospel.  They need to be able to share the Good News with fervor, winning hearts and souls along the way.  They need to return to the house of God, sharing what they discovered as fertile ground, so that others like Barnabas can come in and edify the new believers with words of comfort, gladness and encouragement.  From there, those encouragers can leverage their relationship with the believers and other evangelists and workers who can support and strengthen the believers.  That's teamwork.

We need prayer warriors who can intercede on behalf of lost souls and those evangelists and missionaries.  We need workers within the ministry who are taught and trained, equipped to do good works beyond the confines of the house of God.  We need those who have the spiritual gift of exhortation, comfort, and other special gifts to serve in a variety of capacities in order to reach a dying world.

It takes a team who can work together to bring a community together in the name of Jesus.

5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.
- 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (NKJV)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Doing as He Says

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
and do not do what I say?
- Luke 6:46 (NIV)

You shall observe My judgments and keep
My ordinances, to walk in them:
I am the LORD your God.
- Leviticus 18:4 (NKJV)

When accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we also accept Him as Lord.  We embrace His sacrifice for our salvation.  We accept His suffering for our sins.  Yet, we stumble when it comes to His lordship over our lives.
In Leviticus 18, God addresses His people through Moses the man of God, affirming His relationship with the people by stating repetitively: I am the LORD your God.  The phrase repeats throughout the divine dialogue between God and His people.  God states it through Moses and establishes His relationship with His people based on His decrees and statutes given in the wilderness.
Read Psalm 145:13. It speaks of God's "everlasting kingdom." Nathan shared the words of God with David in 2 Samuel 7.  God promised David: And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever (2 Samuel 7:16, KJV).
Let us fast forward to Jesus walking the earth as the Son of David.  He came as the Messiah and the Christ, "the Anointed One." The Savior would reign and rule as Lord forever.  His kingdom would extend beyond Jewish bloodlines like He shared through His prophets.  He came and sacrificed Himself for us.  He kept His promise to redeem us.  He offers the sinner in us all reconciliation.  He lives as our Lord.
Look at how we handle Him ruling over us as Lord.  We cry out to Him, expecting Him to offer us healing and help.  Yet, we must regard Him as Lord.  We must serve as His loyal subjects, for He is the King.  Those who serve the King do as He says.  They do each and every act according to His commandments in true submission.
If He is your Lord, do as He says.  Leave your ego out of it.  Keep your faith as your focus.  Do just as He says.  He is Lord.  Submit to Him.  Do as He says.
He is your Lord.
Do what He says for you to do.
Do just what the Lord says.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Fiasco of Faith

And let our people also learn to maintain good works,
to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
- Titus 3:14 (KJV)

We, the faithful, are also called to be fruitful.  We are commandment to bear much fruit.  Jesus said so.  The Lord Himself wants us both faithful and fruitful.

So what's the deal? Are we faithful? If we are so faithful, we should be full of fruit.  We should be fruitful.

We become unfruitful, in the words of Paul to Titus, when we fail to meet urgent needs and to maintain good works.  Being without fruit, barren in other words, we demonstrate little faith.

James said as much when he wrote: But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18, KJV).  What you have to show for all the faith that you claim to have will speak louder than words.  Your actions will outweigh your words.  Your proclamation and profession of faith will be measured by your production of fruit.

Fruit is the byproduct of your works.  Your works should produce something.  The fruit stands as evidence of the effort on your part.  No faith equals no fruit.  It is a simple formula.

Keep the faith.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Learn of Him

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. - Matthew 11:29 (NIV)

The Lord beckons the believer to learn of Him.  He desires us to seek Him out.  He desires us to search Him out in the Scriptures.  He wants us to find rest for our souls as we discover more and more about Him.

Learning about Him should help each and every one of us to live more like Him.  Study His Word.  Find out more about Him.  Read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and discover what He says and what others have said about Him.  Read the epistles by Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude.  Find out how Christians should conduct themselves in the manner of Jesus Christ.

Learn more about Jesus and live more like Jesus. 

Read some Christian material that helps you learn more about Jesus.  Read Watchman Nee, Francis Chan, C.S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Charles Stanley, Martin Luther, and others who have written extensively on Jesus Christ.  Discover more about Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Develpment and Destiny

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” - Matthew 4:19

You should expect some development on your way to your destiny.  That should be a given.

Jesus offered something unique to His disciples.  He invited them to follow Him, to leave their nets for fishing men and to become "fishers of men." Jesus had something to offer these fishermen.

Jesus has something to offer every single Christian beyond a divine destination.  Jesus offers each and every one of us some development on the way to our destination.  He wants to make more out of us than we could ever imagine.

Let Jesus work on you.  Let Him develop you on your way to your destination.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Living as His Body

The Body4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.
- Ephesians 4:4-6 (NLT)

The believers are the collective and universal body of Christ.  Each believer serves as part of the body.  We, as believers in Christ, make up the body of Christ.  We are one body, gathered together in His name in one faith.

Apostle Paul and the Earliest ChurchesPaul wrote that "there is one body... just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future." The collective body of believers have a common goal, that one glorious hope for the future.  In seeking that common goal, believers come together on common ground.  The prime example of this is not the believers having all things in common.  The prime example of this is the gathering of believers in Antioch.

19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
- Acts 11:19-21 (NKJV)

Body of Christ a Reality:

The body of Christ lives together based on:
  • Common Belief: The confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One
  • Common Bond: The connection between each believers is the one Spirit that indwells each believer and inhabits each local body of believers gathered together in His name
We are to live as His body, the church open and operating in His name and by His Spirit.

Live as His body.
TM Bishop - Body Piercing Saved My Life - Sticker / Decal

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Take on His Mind

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus- Philippians 2:5

The Bible says that we should have the mind of Christ Jesus.  Paul wrote it to the believers in Philippi.  He sought to encourage these believers while helping them to understand what was available to them through Christ Jesus.

Similarly, Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth on how he and his missionary companions speak of Christ.  He shared how he did not use eloquence to share the gospel with others, especially in Corinth.  He ends the second chapter of First Corinthians with these words: ...But we have the mind of Christ.

Believer, you must believe that God Almighty has all power and ability.  If He can place His Spirit within you upon belief, He surely can do more than that with you as you grow closer to Him and submit your entire self over to Him.  Search the Scriptures.  See where the Lord has implanted His promises in His Word.  Take it from there.  Look at how the Lord handled difficult and touchy situations.  Try and see your way to embracing a similar approach to dealing with hard cases and others.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lead Them to Christ

And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.- 1 Corinthians 2:4 (NLT)

People need to hear the gospel, not gimmicks.  Paul shared the message was about the Master.  He didn't get into clever wordplay and double talk that confused people and complicated salvation.  He made his message very plain.  He just preached about Christ and relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.  Paul kept it simple and direct.

We should be more concerned with leading someone to Christ more than inviting them to church.  Simply inviting them to church has more to do with the various selling points of what our church has to offer as opposed to the multitudes of blessings that Jesus Christ our Savior has to offer those who will hear and come to Him.

Gospel means "good news." When we share the gospel with others, we engage in the delivery of the message of the Messiah and his mighty work of salvation.  Good News Bible: With Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha [Good News Translation]Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, SpyPeople need to know that Jesus is the root and foundation of the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Share the good news of Jesus, not simply the good things about your church.  Your church should help disciple new believers, but it is Jesus Christ who converts them by faith upon belief in Him.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it in real simple terms: "Up with Christ, down with church."

Download the latest Evangelism Tip Sheet: Reaching Out to Others

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Poetic Postings from Pain

My painfulness often inspires my poetry.  Sadly, if I experience something that bothers me or gets me down, I find more inspiration to write.  It is my hope that I am able to shed some light on such circumstances for some aspiring poet who wonders why he or she may not feel so inclined to embrace the valleys and low points as much as the peaks and the mountaintops.

Selected Poems of Langston HughesMaya Angelou: PoemsI believe that other poets and authors have inspired my writing and poetry.  Among them, I would have to say that Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Dorothy West, Henry David Thoreau, William Shakespeare and Claude McKay are some of my favorites.  I have enjoyed reading them and their various styles of literature.

My poetry is posted on various sites on the web, including but not limited to:
Here is a poem that has been published in my book Words from the Underground:
Smoke Screens
They appear to be little more than detrimental detours.

Yet, they are detrimental nonetheless.

Our expectations exclude them,

While our conclusions include them.

We do not see them but after the fact.

They disappear as swiftly as they appear.

Some attribute their ways to magic.

Others say they are derived from madness and mayhem.

They are smoke screens.

They exist to serve only as illusions.

They are smoke screens

And they leave us spellbound.

When you least expect them,

You find yourself in their midst.

Your best option is to pay them no mind.

They will choke you with their smoke.

They will engulf you from head to toe.

They will keep your head spinning.

Don't pay them any mind.

You may not expect them.

You may not avoid them.

Pay them no mind,

For they truly do exist.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Add a Personal Touch

Jesus: Up Close & Personal (101 Beginner Bible Study)He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you

But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Read the Gospels carefully.  Go beyond the surface.  Don't just skim it for its finer points and holy highlights.  Read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John thoroughly.  Read them intentionally.  Read with probing eyes.  Search the Scriptures to discover how Jesus truly reached out and touched people as God in the flesh.

Wwjd What Would Jesus Do Designer Rubber Saying Bracelet #50Not long ago, every Christian knew about WWJD.  The letters represented What Would Jesus Do? The question seems a bit rhetorical.  Yet, it caused many of us to rethink our approach to certain situations in daily life's many interactions and encounters.  We asked WWJD and wore it on t-shirts, Bible covers and bumper sticks.  Did we really want to do things the way Jesus would have done them?

Jesus did not leave Bartimaeus blind by the wayside.
Jesus did not let the woman with the issue of blood go one more step in that condition.
Jesus forbid to leave the invalid laying on a mat beside the pool.
Jesus added a personal touch throughout His ministry that left no one the same.

The House Church Book: Rediscover the Dynamic, Organic, Relational, Viral Community Jesus StartedDo we really want to do things the way Jesus would have done them?

Start by getting personal.  Don't leave it as drive-thru worship services on Sunday.  You know what I mean.  You moved out of the neighborhood to get away from the drugs, the gangs and all of that other stuff, but you still drive through on Sunday mornings for some old time religion and maybe a taste of some after-church soul food.  That's "drive-thru" Sunday worship.  You only drive through the 'hood, never doing any of your good works where you hear from the Good Book

God bless your heart.  You mean well.  Your intentions are good.  You just need to know where to get started.  Start by getting to know some folks on a personal level.  Take that church bulletin out of your Bible.  Yes, the one from Sunday where you did not use it to take notes on the sermon.  Use that and see what fellowship opportunities exist at the church.  Are there small groups that meet during the week on site or in the community? Can you join the men's monthly fellowship? Do you believe that there is room for you in the women's ministry circle? See what there is available and make some personal connections with other congregants.

Creating Community: Five Keys to Building a Small Group Culture
Start small.  Volunteer to serve on an outreach team or a service team.  Get trained in sharing the Good News with others, so that you are equipped to say more than what's on your mind and our heart.  Get equipped, but be sure to get your heart in it more than your hands or your head.  Share with your heart and touch someone's life.  Add a personal touch to your ministry repertoire.  Be sure to get personal in such a way that people truly get a sense that you truly care.  Care for others the same way that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, looked after His own sheep.  Just start by getting a little more personal when you do it.

The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." — Henri J.M. Nouwen 
Amen Me!