Friday, June 9, 2017

Intentional Evangelism ?

  Intentional Evangelism ?

  How often do most Christians witness to the power and grace of Jesus Christ in their lives? I believe the safe answer is not often enough.  Witnessing is not easy on a regular basis. We get busy and caught up in the daily grind of life and probably forgot to witness more then we ought to. 
Last week just before Pentecost I realized it was my 36th anniversary of when I accepted Christ into my life. So I decided to record a quick 3 minute video summary of what Jesus did for me 36 years ago. It was easy to share because its my story.  Only God knows what He will do with that 3 minute testimony as it sits on the internet and people find it, watch it and hopefully someone is encouraged to seek Jesus because of it.  But the video was intentional. A week later I looked at it and it has been shared over 15 times on other peoples Facebook page and viewed over 1300 times.  Those 1300 plus views equals 65 hours of video testimony being seen. That is equal to me telling my story of 3 minutes for 3 days straight. Now this is really mind blowing.  Here is the link if you want to see that video
  I realize not everyone feels comfortable in front of a camera and this is not everyone’s first choice on how to witness. This week I meet some urban missionaries from the United States. Before I left them they handed me their written testimony within 3 paragraphs. I thought this is such a great low tech way to share your testimony as well when out in the market place. We use to call them tracts, but I like the idea of making up your own story with a way to  connect back.  Imagine being in the drive thru line and handing the cashier the money for your order and a piece of paper like mine below. Again this is INTENTIONAL EVANGELISM.  If we do not intentional witness who will?  We are commissioned by Jesus to Go  and Witness by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” I hope these ideas inspire you to create your own  ways of witnessing even when you are busy.  By all means that we might save some..

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Mom Much loved!

       It's May 5th 2017. I just flew up to New England a few days ago to be a part of a ceremony where my mom was being recognized as the oldest citizen in Boxborough, MA. The Award goes back to 1909 when the Editor of the Boston Post created a movement that continues today. In that day he had 700 Canes made worth approx $1000 each made of gold and ebony.  Today this tradition continues in New England in over 400 towns.   The pictures below were taken by a friend of the family named Peggy.  It was a simple and fun formal presentation at the City Hall.  I do not see my mom much and that is a frustration for me personally, but I am so glad I could make this event yesterday.  I live 1500 miles away and even talking on the phone now has become difficult for her. So the in person visits now are so cherished.  
           It's not Mothers Day yet, but I write this post to honor my mom and hopefully she will read this on Mother's Day when I am back in Florida.  To have ones mom into your 50's may not be unusual for many, but for me it is since my mom has lived longer then many women to the age of almost 98. She turns 98 on June 15th and will be featured in the local parade on June 17th as the oldest person in Boxborough. They want her to attend as many local community functions as possible throughout the year. I believe that alone will keep her focused on her new civic duty. She's not real thrilled about being the oldest in town and I get what she means by that, but nonetheless she is a beautiful woman at her age.  She still has clarity of thought, amazing retrieval of memory from decades past and a fun sense of humor. She can eat big meals and loves her cup of tea. She still gets out and walks and loves flowers and lobster.  She is a New England tradition for me and many others and has out lived all her relatives who are older then she.  I do not know know many years she might still have, but then none of us know our own either.   What a joy it has been to visit with her. She plays games, reads and loves her cat Bunny. Bunny is a Maine coon cat that she has had for 18 years. She use to attend church regularly, but rarely does she get up before noon now, but she doe still go, but not as often. When she could attend she hears very little unless you are next to her and even then its a struggle for her. I love my mom and her love of life. Before I left today she said she was going to charter a private plane and take all her family to Hawaii for her 100th birthday. That story is 2 years away so we shall see. Love ya mom.  


Monday, February 27, 2017

7 Last Words & Journey to the Cross

Seven Words from the Cross

1. Week One:  Friday March 3rd 12 noon DeLandCOTN 
Forgiveness- Luke 23:32-38
2. Week Two: Friday March 10th 12 noon: TBA
Salvation – Luke 23:39-43
3. Week Three:  Friday March 17th 12 noon: TBA 
Relationship – John 19:23-27
4. Week Four: Friday March 24th 12 noon: TBA
Distress - John 19:28-29 
5. Week Five: Friday March 31st 12 noon: TBA
Abandonment – Matthew 27:45-47
6. Week Six: Friday April 7th 12 noon: TBA 
Reunion – Luke 23: 44-49
7. Week Seven: Friday April 14th noon Deland COTN
         Triumph – John 19:28-30 

Each week we would encourage you to fast and pray at least one meal leading up to this study/ reflection time or make this Friday season that fast of a meal in seeking the Lord. We also encourage you to invite someone who does not have a faith community that they attend. Spend the next seven week or the next 40 Days from March 1st through April 9th in a special season of prayer and fasting seeking to hear a fresh revelation from our Savior while praying for those who do not walk by faith with him yet. Each week we will notify you as to the next week Location of the service. We will start and end the seven weeks in the church building with communion. If you know of a public location you would like to recommend please let the pastor know. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Profanity is a Destroyer!

                                When I was growing up as a young man the first foul language I was exposed to was sexual vulgarity in middle school. I would never speak the words I heard among my school and neighborhood friends at home and I certainly do not ever recall my parents using those words in their conversation or anger.  The worse words I recall my parents use were the words Damn and Hell (abbreviation for condemnation to Hell). When I heard those words they were never used in the context of speaking about God and spiritual matters.  When I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins  and received the Lord as my personal Savior I discovered how foul mouthed I actual was and how I needed to change my word choices.  This was not something anyone had to teach me as the Lord taught me the next day. But it took me weeks to train my thinking to stop using those words.  There are really only three categories of vulgar and profane language that mankind will ever really use. I will share that a little later, but no matter what language in the world you speak there are only three categories  of cursing, profanity and vulgarity  that humanity uses in the futility of their thinking.  

                The Bible was written in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament).  In the Old Testament one of the commands of God to Moses was to not take the Lord God’s name in vain. The Jews regarded God’s name so holy that not only did they avoid using His name even in context. They dropped vowels from his name to not say it exactly as He name is. Because of that we have the name Jehovah as part of His original name.  A Jewish Rabbi named Daniel Lapin notes that the Hebrew language is derived from God and God’s Word and there are actually no Hebrew curse words in the language.  He says if a present day Hebrew speaking Jew wants to curse he has to borrow words from other languages like Arabic. It is interesting that the third command in exodus 20 is that we are not to misuse the name of the Lord. So why is that? When I am in a group of people and I hear someone invoke my name “for Pete’s sake” I turn my head because I hear my name.  In the Old Testament names had meanings and people lived up their names. In the New Testament Jesus said that our yes was to be yes and our no was to be no. We are not to bear false witness for our “Words” has meanings and definitions and they invoke power. Matthew 12:24 say for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.(NIV) Psalms 34:13 says ; keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking evil. ESV

                Recently I was talking with missionaries from a French speaking country. Somehow we got discussing words and their meanings. No matter what the language or the sound of the word there are just three areas we invoke profanity, vulgarity and cursing. You see as humans we communicate with our words. We plan act innocent of the words we choose or we may truly be ignorant, but basically most people know what they are saying when they curse.  The more words we know the better we can communicate.   The bible says that we speak from the heart and that death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat of its fruits. Proverbs 18:21.

                                Public cursing and vulgarity began to be release through TV and the air ways back in the 1960’s. Prior to that what the public heard was clean and wholesome speech for the most part. Today our entire nation is being polluted with sick talk and language on every corner, but the biggest tragedy is that it has slide into the Church of the Jesus Christ.  We even have pastors in our generation who drop profane words for shock value and use sexual slang as common speech.  Even the smallest children who are not even mature enough to do the things they speak of have become common. We as the Church of Jesus Christ need to turn around our nation and make our nation holy again.
             Those who are reading this know that we are not redeemed but rules or laws, but yet rules and laws are to be written on the tablets of our hearts when we receive the Holy Spirit. Paul was writing to the believers in Ephesus when he noted how they were to put off the old self and put on the new self. In Eph 4:17 Paul says that we are not to live like the gentiles do in the futility of their thinking.  I have heard people make up words that sound like curse words as if that is better. How we think is how we talk and how we talk is what our thinking heart is made of.  Watch a dozen movies a month with vulgarity and cursing and you increase your probability to think and talk like that.  When I first became a Christian my pastor taught us that we should turn off our TV’s or walk out of a movie that took God’s name in vain or used vulgar language. Why has the church lowered the standard on speech and language?

                There are three areas of profanity in life that are to be private, honorable and protected. When we use words or substitute words similar to words associated with these three areas in defaming ways then we are speaking with the futility of our minds. The first area is when we speak of sexuality among men or women or in mixed company where we mock, belittle or berate others or speak of such sexual acts that dishonor the marriage bed. When we tear down another human being with sexual language we are succumbing to futility thinking of the godless. When we speak of any of the sexual parts of the human anatomy is such a way to dishonor it, make humor of it or use slang about it we are profaning what God created and intended to be private between a male and female. Sexuality is to be sacred, holy beautiful and respectable. The words we use in our conversations matter in all relationships. How we talk in business, in friendships and in marriage determines success and failure. If you curse daily and then go to a job interview and intentionally try not to curse your mind with struggle with proper replacement words and will reflect in your ability to communicate quickly and promptly.  God wants you to start thinking and talking like He thinks and talks. James says, who can tame the tongue? Man can’t, but God can because with God all things are possible. Read Paul’s admonishment in Eph 4:29, but read the whole paragraph.  We are to be different and to even think different than those lost souls in our world.
          The second category of profanity is vulgarizing bathroom talk. When we use words and slang in any language that reflects the things we do in the bathroom by way of excrement we miss the mark of how God intends us to communicate with one another. Urine and feces have been hijacked into all kinds of slang and vulgar terms to express other experiences and frustrations of life that have nothing to do with such. It might be a figure of speech to some, but its vulgar and rude and futile thinking.  Last of all, but certainly not least is the taking of the Names of God in vain.  He is Holy and all His names are Holy. When we use God’s names as an expression of shock, excitement, surprise or fear when we are not actually calling upon Him then we are cursing against heaven, breaking a covenant commandment and diminishing our reputation among men.  

                                Eternity is real and so is God, heaven, hell and the final judgment.  As an example, when we say things like “oh My God” we may not mean what we say, but we said it as a vain expression. We do these types of things for a variety of reasons from being lazy, conforming to others, lack of vocabulary or lacking control of our emotions.  Only God can and will condemn a soul or a devil to a place of torment. If we really wanted God to condemn someone then we obviously do not understand the character of God.

                                A few weeks ago I was in a small cafe in Watkinsville, Ga. I was having a cup of coffee and reading and studying. People came and left and then I was the only customer in the room. At that point this man came in from outside. He obviously had been eating on the porch. He came in and started cursing at the owner about his meal. He used sexual foul language repeatedly and loud about his bad experience with his hamburger.  He did not care that a customer was there and even said that he did not care that I was there. He really lacked words to express his anger and he did not stop for like 4 minutes. He insulted the owner and even when he was offered a refund he kept at it with vulgar obscene language.  Within a few minutes the owner was crying and he was apologizing and refusing to take his refund.  It was really bad, but this stuff happens all the time across our nation in public as no other generation ever has had to endure. We are reaping as a nation 50 years of increased vulgarity in our media and entertainment. This man’s language and behavior was coming from his futile thinking in his mind. While this was going on I was praying.  Before he left the restaurant he was apologizing over and over, yet the damage was done and owner kept saying please leave.   No money or apologize was turning that experience around quickly. Public shame will only be restored as believers raise the bar, resist the flood of obscenities flooding our modern times and praying to make a verbal difference.
So how does vulgarity, profanity and cursing defeat you? If you use language like this you are separating yourself from future success, your fellow man and God. If you talk like this at home you will talk like this in public. Even though this type of language is more culturally acceptable today then it’s ever been, does not mean everyone is like this. When we use bad language and words we reveal our shallow futile thinking and our ungodly character. God created our minds and hearts to reflect Him and give Him glory and when we allow ourselves to speak to each other and express our hearts with slang and vulgarity words and phrases we will limit our potential among men and God.

Our words create a path of destruction or success for our days. Words are our tools. The more tools you have in your tool chest the better job you can do in life with others.  When we allow ourselves to be exposed to words in media, movies and literature that a generation ago never tolerated we will pay the price sooner or later.  When we allow our children to be entertained by movies that should make us blush verses laugh we need to review our standards.  It’s time for the people of God to raise the standard of our thinking to a level like unto our God. The bedroom talk should stay in the bedroom and bathroom language when necessary should be decent and in context. Our words at all times should be honoring to our fellow man and our God.

Below are a few more scriptures that support the need to guard our tongues. May God grant us wisdom and a Godly mind to speak from.
 I         IISamuel 23:4 The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; His word is on my tongue.  ESV
  • ·         Job 6:30 Is there any injustice on my tongue? Cannot my plate discern the cause of calamity? ESV
  • ·         Job 15:5 for your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the tongue of the crafty. ESV
  • ·         Job 27:4 my lips will not speak falsehood and my tongue will not utter deceit. ESV
  • ·         Psalms 73:9 they set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongues struts through the earth. ESV
  • ·         Psalms 139:4 even before a word is on my tongue, behold, o Lord, you know it altogether. ESV
  • ·         Proverb 12:19 the mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue is but for a moment. ESV
  • ·         Proverb 15:2 the tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. ESV
  • ·         Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as it fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ESV
  • ·         Matthew 12:24 “for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” NIV
  • ·         Proverbs 10:11 the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals. NIV
  • ·         Proverbs 26:9 a troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth. NIV
  • ·         1 Peter 2:22 He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. NIV

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Sabbatical Journey of Rest.

Today I am officially on Day 3 of a 5 week break from ministry to others. Because of family dynamics I am on this journey without my wife or children. It is my second sabbatical break in my ministry. After serving 8 years straight it is truly nice to not have a sermon or bible study to prepare for around the corner. Part of my desire and hope is to withdraw and refresh, but I realize since I am not in a monastery of solitude for 5 weeks, that I still deal with people and relationships wherever I go. So this blog post and a few to follow are to share parts of my journey with those who know me or are just curious.
           I am staying in a wonderful guest home for missionaries in Bogart, GA. Part of my time away is to take a course in Hermeneutics. I also decided that I will try to eat meals with people without depending on typical restaurants and fast food places. I have already and plan to fast and pray, but when I eat find different contexts.  So I am open to ideas if you have any.  So last night I broke a fast by attending a Spaghetti dinner open to the community at the Greek Orthodox Church near Athens.
        Below is a short video and some pictures. This church only does this once a month and opens the doors to the community. I meet a man named Steve who was a greek member of the church. He and his wife Tina were in the very late 80's and very gracious to me. I discovered that their son in law was the priest of the church. I really did not know much about the Greek Orthodox church from an insider perspective, but after last night I certainly got one.  Father Anthony who married their daughter is the priest and as well a artist. All of the paintings in the church were done by him. Amazing art work. I also discovered that GOC ( Greek Orthodox church ) is very similar to my roots of being a Roman Catholic. Main difference is their pope is not viewed as infallible and if a priest gets married before they are ordained then they can be married. Interesting huh?

            One thing I would not fully embrace is their veneration of the saints. Even though they know their history of the great saints and martyrs of the faith (unlike most protestants) they tend to idolize them far more then I believe they should and seem to pray to dead saints including the virgin Mary.

        Anyway it was some interesting meal and time and during the dinner each month they invite different music and singing groups to come into the dinner to entertain. Therefore the video below of the Mad Dogs of Athens big band group.