Posts tagged ‘Sermon’

An Honest Assessment

We just recently returned home from a trip to our home in the South. Being down there raised so many emotions, and it was really surprising to me that I had to filter through so many conceptions and misconceptions concerning ministry and my role in it.

I can still remember sitting in my car and telling God yes. He called me to preach. he called me to minister. For reasons unbeknownst to me, He saw something in me 10 years ago that He wanted to use. Now, 10 years later, I still can’t quite figure out what that “something ” is. There is a stark difference in the way ministry is looked at between where I’m from and where I am now. If we had remained home, I would most certainly be a Pastor of a church by now- probably would have been pastoring for a few years now. I was being groomed for it, and my wife was being groomed to be a Pastor’s wife. It is almost like a farm system, where you are trained to preach. The saying is that the only way to grow a preacher is to let them preach! When I was home, in my first church, I came up without any pastoral leadership. Our church was without a Pastor, so I had all of the opportunity to preach that a new preacher could ever ask for. They licensed me, and I was sure that I would be the Pastor of that church one day.

Then I lost interest, because God was moving me into something new. I left that church and went along with my wife, because God wanted to show me that the Holy Spirit was real. It was in that church that I first received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was in this church that I proudly served as an Associate Minister with 7 other dynamic, spirit-filled men. We sat in the pulpit. We preached with fire and intensity. We prayed in loud voices until we were hoarse at the end. I lead an intercessory prayer ministry. I co-lead with my best friend in a class that saw so many get baptized in the Holy Spirit. I was fine with the status quo. I knew that I’d go through classes soon, and then get an assignment to a church. I would be a Pastor, which is what God was calling me too anyway. I was fine with that.

Until I wasn’t anymore.

What I saw many times were young preachers put in churches where the congregations were not growing, and were more interested in upholding the traditions and stories of the past, than building new stories in the present. It was frustrating. I felt like God required more. And when He moved us to Missouri, I finally saw that there was in fact MORE to being a minister than simply preaching. Over the last 6 years, I’ve had to repent several times, because at times it has felt like the wheels have been spinning, while no distance was covered. I have been hard on myself, harder as I have gotten older.

So, this trip home was a little difficult on my psyche. I don’t mind admitting that. See, for every question of how we were doing, there was another question as to whether or not I was a Pastor yet. Reminders of those of my spiritual kin who were now pastoring were never far away. Ministers younger than I, working dutifully in churches that were growing and thriving. I began to feel the old feelings of jealousy and insecurity began to resurface. Cause see, where I live now, there appears to be a way to work up into Pastoral ministry. It seems to begin with working as a youth pastor, and then being granted more responsibility from there. But in my case, I have never felt the leading to work primarily in that capacity. So what does that mean? Was I not good enough? Had I not been chosen after all? With every fiber of my being, i want to feel as if I am some use to God, but by that same token, I harbor deep-seated ambition. I recognize, and admit to that. I’m flawed.

Despite my honest feeling here, in my spirit I know the time will come when God will say “NOW!”. If I have matured anywhere, it’s in knowing how to separate what my feelings are telling me versus what I know to be true in my spirit. My life these past 6 years has been filled with a richness of life experiences that have shaped my personal view of who God is and how faith works. I have a personal theology that is dear to me. And while at times, it really feels like maybe God hasn’t called me at all, I also know that had He not called me, my life would have probably been a bit easier to this point. lol. I know that’s not really a concrete thing to say, but I know that it is true.

So, how do I reconcile all of this? I mean, God has called me to minister and Pastor one day. I serve, and I serve, and I watch. I celebrate those who are working according to the vision that God has given them. I serve within their visions until God shows me my own. I counteract any jealousy that comes up with praise for what God is doing in lives via those ministers and Pastors. Just in my own church, the youth Pastors are putting something really special together, something that will shape a generation for years to come. Our JR High Pastors are working to develop identities in those kids that will counteract what culture tries to tell them. Our elementary and preschool Pastors are pouring into those kids hardcore. Until further notice, my job is to serve with them.

Finally, I trust God. He knows what He is doing. He is preparing me for something that I can’t handle right now. And while that just feels so counter to what I have been raised with my whole life, it’s where I am right now, and I’m at peace with it.

finally.

God be praised.

A Tribute to My Pastors

I blogged on this topic in my first blog, One Heart Ablaze, but from a different slant. I used Peter’s words, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” to talk about how we should find people to imitate in life. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, and being under Godly leadership is the best way to imitate someone who is in Christ, while developing your own personal connection with God in Christ as well. Today however, I want to  honor Pastors, particularly the Pastors who have had and continue to shape the kind of man that I am becoming today.

Even when I was not living for Christ, I always admired Pastors. There was something regal about them, even if they themselves did not carry themselves as high and lifted up. They way that could orate and inspire a crowd, or simply motivate a person just by the way that they lived, I always noticed. I’ve had several Pastors in my lifetime, but there are a few who really stand out to me. I’d like to talk about them this morning, as it is Pastor Appreciation Month. To me, a pastor is someone who sees the potential in his or her members, and strives to push them toward the greatness that God has in store for them. A Pastor is unafraid to speak the truth in love, regardless to whether feelings are hurt or not. A Pastor is intent on building relationships and breaking down the walls that can spring up and keep us from coming together. A Pastor is not always just a Pastor. We use the term generally, but I believe that Pastors are often Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers. I think depending on God’s calling and missional purpose for that Pastor, those gifting traits show up in many differing manifestations. These are just my additional add ons. I also subscribe to the qualifications listed in Timothy by Paul.

So, with that being said, here is my list.

Pastor John Chapman is first on my list. He was my father’s brother. He never Pastored in “big” church, but spent his entire life dedicated to building a thriving children’s church at Mt. Helm Baptist Church in Jackson, MS. This man was really something. He was soft spoken, but you could feel the love and intensity of his words. He saw something in me, even as a child. I’ll never understand it. He would always rub my head and say that he was anointing me. His messages in children’s church were never original. They always came from a book that he had, but they were extremely relevant. The personal way that he had with each child he met always reminded me of Jesus saying, “Bring all of the children to me, and forbid them not.” He never turned them away. He personally invested in all of us. I didn’t realize how much of an impact he had on my life until I was older and felt God calling me to ministry. That’s when it hit me. That’s why he anointed me every time he saw me. He saw this calling. Now, I can’t even think of him without some kind of tears coming to my eye. While I didn’t know him supremely well, I knew enough about him to know that God used him to play a big role in where I am, and where I am heading. I love you, Uncle JC.

Pastor Calvin Thomas taught me the joy of praise and worship. While playing organ in a church of traditionally Baptist hymns, the way that he would make even the pipes of the organ shout with praise and adoration always moved me. He sang the loudest. He played with a boisterous energy that bragged of the enormous beauty of our God. He was  always so happy, and he always spoke such warmth into me. He accepted the call to Pastor later in his life and moved away to Florida. The Spirit of God was truly upon him in ways that I can’t even explain. After I preached my first sermon, the next time that he was in town, he came and literally did an anointing ceremony in my house. It was one of the truly amazing experiences of my life. He died years ago, but left me much of his sermon materials and his personal bible that he took notes in. For some reason, I can’t bring myself to open it yet. It feels like a relic.

Pastor John R. Johnson, II was the Pastor who helped me hear God’s voice for myself. When He was the Pastor at Mt Helm, he took an interest in me, even though I was the kid whose life was not quite right. I played the role well. I can remember the day he asked me to start coming to his office to talk with him. The first session, I told him, “Before we even get started, I don’t believe that drinking alcohol is wrong.” He laughed and moved on as if I had never said anything. His life, to me, was just…special. God really stirred his heart. He would lift his hands in worship, and become so excited and energetic, but it was a child like energy. His heart was always fully engaged in loving people. His passion was evident from the beginning to the end. I accepted the call to ministry and made it public the Sunday after he had begun his new assignment with another church. Though we have lost touch, I really credit him with getting me back on track and pushing me to be more for God.

Pastors Matt and Crystal Ingle were the youth Pastors when we first moved to Missouri and attended Destiny Church. When we were getting to know them, there was always something dynamic about them, something more than youth pastorship, even though at that point they were not interested in pasturing a church. In the 5 years that we have been here, I have seen such growth in them. While they are still prone to joking and having fun, the calling of God on them has matured them. They have been the Associate Pastors of our church for about 2-2.5 years.  They are full in the Holy Spirit, and it is evident by the way that they worship and minister. And while we are all around the same age, their wisdom and the way that they carry themselves, just amazes me, and causes me to really look up to them. So, knowing that they will be leaving at some point in the future to plant their own church excites me. I can really see how beautifully they will be affecting lives for God. They compliment each other perfectly, and I am excited to see what happens for them in the future. They may not know how much of an inspiration they have been to me, but they have been monstrous!

Finally, Pastors Gene and Melody Bebee are the Lead Pastors of Destiny Church. To say that we have had long conversations, or in depth sharing over the years would not be true. But the few conversations that we have had, and watching how they carry themselves and lead a church, it is fire inducing. From say one, I have watched everything that they have done. I have watched how they relate to people, how they love on people, how they take control in crisis, how they shepherd a church while remaining faithful to the vision that God has given them. It’s been one of the greatest times of my life, being able to serve under them and alongside them. They both have a heart for worship, and over the past 5 years, I have seen them even grow deeper in that avenue as well. Pastor Gene’s messages have such love and power behind them. His vivid images really tie everything together and bring the truth of the Gospel home in a relatable way. Pastor Mel’s devotion to giving God everything in all facets, pushes us on the worship team to abandon ourselves to a God who deserves nothing less. The cool thing about this is that I can tell that God is doing even greater, deeper things in them, which means that the trickle down effect is gonne be AWESOME!!! Simply put, I can only hope that when God ordains the time for me to Pastor, that my wife and I can do justice to all that Gene and Mel have poured into us simply by watching and observing. We are blessed to have them to lead us. They are the epitome of faithfulness to a calling. That’s all we can even push for; to be faithful completely to God and to love His people.

So, these are MY Pastors. They have influenced me in ways that can not be properly expressed. I love all of them dearly and count myself blessed to have been in their midsts. And while I won’t tout this blog posting to make them see it, I do pray that God will continue to bless those who are alive with vision, and help me to never forget those who have gone to be with Him. I love you all! Happy Pastor’s Appreciation Month.

Until next time, be blessed.

An Introduction of Sorts

Hello out there! Is this thing on? (tap, tap)

Some of you reading this already know me, or a little of me at least. But for those of you who do not, please allow me to tell you what this is and who I am.

Now, where to begin…..

This is my second attempt at blogging. My first blog was started over 2 years ago, but fizzled out as I just didn’t feel the inspiration to continue it. I loved some of the things that God showed me through it, and will probably link to it in this second edition, but I also feel the need for something fresh and new. Let me warn you now that I ramble, and I’m also a little lazy when it comes to blogging. I’m trying to do better, because I’m a writer and a thinker, so I always have something going on in my head that needs to come down onto paper. Lol.

I’m a new father of 3. I’ve been married for 9 years to the absolute love of my life. God could not have chosen any better for me. He saw what I needed and presented it to me on a platter. Sure, I had to work for it, but from the moment I saw her, I knew that she was mine to cherish forever. I’m often in awe of how she loves me. This is tangible proof of God’s grace. Grace will be a big theme in this blog, just because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have been given gifts from God that I really, REALLY do not deserve.

Career-wise, I’m in the midst of a transition. Out of college I earned an MBA in HR Management. I wanted to do that because I wanted to help people- and also because the money was good. In the midst of being in the profession for about 7 years, I think God showed me that business was not my mission field. I became lethargic and even somewhat depressed going into work, and without fail, I believe God would always try to get my attention. Each of my 3 jobs would start out great, but end in a fiery blaze of complete destruction. It’s crazy the lengths that God would to, in order that we would be on the right path. At any rate, A year and a half ago, God simply told me AGAIN, that I needed to be teaching. So, I quit my job and went back to school. Now, I had my own ideas about how this transition was going to go. I thought that because I was stepping out in faith, God would provide a job immediately and there would be no hiccups in the financial aspects of my family. WRONG!!! Not only did I not have a teaching job, but I had to sub and work a second job at minimum wage. Still, that didn’t break me from my dreaming and hopes that my job was just around the corner. Before this school year started, I had 2 interviews that went so well, I knew the jobs were mine. WRONG!!! God has another plan. So, even as I’m not teaching, I’m comforted a little by knowing that God must be preparing me for something special. So, I wait. Now, this is a very abridged version of this story. I don’t have time, nor space to tell you about all of my emotional turmoil, temper tantrums, and other embarrassing aspects of this process. I gladly would if you all would like to see how big of a butt I can be at times. Sheesh!

Let’s see…10 years ago, I told God that I would accept his call to preach His word. Now, I didn’t know that word. I mean, I knew the word, I just didn’t KNOW the word. There is a difference. I hated gospel music. I thought it all sounded too hokey! Lol. 10 years later, despite my constant reminders to God, I’m not preaching..(well, I do, but it’s just through living), nor am I a pastor. (I also believe this to be a part of my calling). But in my wait time, I am beginning to see a little of the clean up that God is still doing in me. I can see my impatience. I can see my own short-sightedness. But I can also see the good things that God has implanted and is growing within me. That’s not to say that I’m not human. I’ve dealt with porn issues in my past. That was my thorn for a while. But God delivered me, and I only add that part because I know that there are many men out there who still deal with that issue. God is merciful and mighty to save us from all of our issues. As a matter of fact, He desperately desires to do just that! The fact that God has done so much rearranging and cleaning in my life only serves to make me more and more in awe of who He is. That’s where the name for this blog comes from. Micah means “Who is like the Lord“. It’s a beautifully worshipful statement, one that is constantly on my heart, even as it is the middle name of my newest son. There is nobody like Him in all of the earth, and I praise Him for that fact.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s move on. It is my prayer that any who read this blog will be challenged. I’m going to include lots of things here. There will be sermon notes from my Pastor’s sermons. There will be music that stirs my soul to worship. There will be poetry that expressed my heart to God. You may not agree with all of what I post, but I hope that what I post at least spurs you to find out for yourself who God is to you. Oh, and let me get this out of the way now…

I believe in heaven. I believe in hell. I believe that Jesus died so that all might have salvation and an eternity with Him. But I also believe that we must make a choice to accept what Jesus has offered us, and if we fail to do so, we will spend eternity away from Him. I believe that where there was no appropriate sacrifice to cover the black smoke of my sins from reaching God, Jesus died and shed His blood to clothe me in robes of white. I believe in Him I am pure and declared righteous. I believe that His love is perfect. I believe that every soul who condemns his or her life to an eternity without Him breaks His heart. It breaks my heart. He created us for His good pleasure.

Ok. So here we are at the end of the first post for a new blog. We are embarking on a fantastic voyage, and I pray that God will grow us all as a result. I’m not expecting any certain number of readers. I only pray that those who do read will be changed by Yahweh.

Until next time, be blessed.