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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Almost New Wineskins for the Same Old Ministry

Part of my experience as a minister has been working with young men and other men in the local church's men's ministry and through A.M.E.N. under Life Path Ministries.  I see a lot of young men who have made wrong or unwise choices when I preach at the Consolidated Brig on a monthly basis for their Protestant worship services.  I write a lot of poetry on my own experiences like I did in my last e-book of poems,  Writing the Wrongs.  Somehow, I know that something has to be used to help with our predicament.

I write this post with a heavy heart for what I have seen and heard from our men who are behind bars and down and out on their luck, whether it be on the streets on their own or still at home.  This is to provide young people and the people who work with them with some handy resources and information to do more in the same ministries.

National Network for Youth Ministries (NNYM) has been one of my favorite site's and offers great updates, newsletters and information for youth workers and youth leaders.  I discovered them when we started a mentoring program through our church's faith-based nonprofit agency.  I love what they offer those who serve youth.  They are seriously resourceful to many of us in the field of ministry.

The Body by Chuck Colson is a must-read.
Also, check out:



Youth leaders could benefit from articles on compassion and caring for others as well as fundraising and leading groups.  Check out the article on youth leadership strategies that I had posted some time ago.

I pray that this leads to some new ideas and some innovations in the ministry.  I pray that we do not continue to see a decline in college enrollments and increases in prison sentences.

Perhaps, we will see a decline in our young folks desiring to live like reality TV stars and seek to live more like the real Jesus who came and died for the sins of the earth.  That can only come as we try to use some new wineskins or at least almost new ones.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Getting Down to the Nuts and Bolts of Evangelism


"He that winneth souls is wise." - Proverbs 11:30

Winning souls is of high importance.  It is a priority for the Christian and the local church.  In order to win souls, you have to be engaged in some aspect of evangelism.

In many cases, we have regulated evangelism to a few generalized activities rather than a broad range of diverse activities that impact and influence people to engage in a relationship with Christ.  Truthfully, evangelism is a mixture of both of these.

According to Vine's Expository Dictionary, "evangelize" means to proclaim glad tidings; preach the gospel (Luke 1:19; 9:6; Acts 21:8).  When we participate in activities that share the gospel, the "good news" about Jesus Christ, we are involved in evangelizing.

Our evangelistic activities should span beyond simply inviting people to worship services and events at our local church.  All that is saying is that someone has to come onto our territory in order to get what we have to offer.  That is not the type of evangelism that wins souls.  That simply gets them through the door for the pulpit and the choir to do the work of the soul winning.

Charles Spurgeon said it profoundly when he said:"Our main business is to win souls." Winning souls is work.  The Bible references good works as a means for opening the door for winning souls.  For example, in Matthew 5:16, we see that by letting our light shine, others will see our good works and call upon the Father in heaven.  As we do good works, we begin to get people engaged and interacting with the people of God for a good cause.  As we do more good for those around us, it will begin to get the people who benefited from those good works to look beyond us and to our source of support and strength.

In 2014, we will look at more of the nuts and bolts of evangelism.  We will begin to discover that we can do more and discover the power that God has given to us to influence, inspire and impact our fellow man, just by letting our lights shine before men.

Stay tuned for more on this topic as we engage in an ongoing effort to strengthen the church and the Christian to do more with what God has already given to us.

Monday, December 30, 2013

And So On and So Forth


“Hope itself is like a star- not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. ” 

Charles H. Spurgeon


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

We can look at a new year in many ways.  most of us tend to take it one way or the other.  Either we see this new year as an immense opportunity to spread our wings and fly in new directions and to new heights or we see it as another 365 days to get through with a more-of-the-same type of attitude.  Some see adventure, while others see adversity.  Some see opportunities, while others see obstacles.

How will you see 2014?

Let's look at 2013 first, though.

What we did in 2013 included:
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.- Colossians 4:3 (NIV)

I have been seriously praying for God to lead us in a new direction and steadily along the path that He has outlined for us to take in 2014.  Surprisingly, I have discovered that God has pointed out that I have yet to do many of the things that he has already bestowed upon me.  As I look upon the incomplete, unfinished and never attempted things on my to-do list and agenda from on high, I feel convicted.  I know that I could have been a better servant than I have been in 2013.  I know that I could have been a better steward than I have been in 2013.

So now is the time to go on with what He has already given.  I have to go on and go forth.

I have to knock on doors that have yet to be opened to me.  I have call upon those who will not recognize my voice.  I have to proclaim Him to many who have yet to have an introduction to who He really is and what who the world has made Him out to be with its skewed and slated views.

If you want to join me in making the Word known throughout this world, here is how you can join in as we embark on 2014:
  1. Start dreaming again and do something with your dreams
  2. Start by reading a New Year's Resolution Guide
  3. Understand how to start your day on a positive note
Then, once you have started on that track, continue to follow this blog as we discuss 2014's ventures and furthering the Good News.

Monday, December 23, 2013

In Need of an Eye Opener in 2014


And straightway there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and he arose and was baptized- Acts 9:18 (ASV)

Paul got an "eye opener" after he had his run-in with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Many of us do not even see it that way, though.  

We see Paul's encounter with Jesus on the road as the eye opener.

Nope.

That was just the shocker that got homeboy's attention.  The eye opener did not happen until he had been humbled due to to being rendered dependent on the care of others, particularly the folks around the way on a street called Straight.  That's when things started to come together and make sense for him.

I find that the local church may need more of an eye opener than it would care to admit in such an age of enlightenment and information sharing.  We have websites with plenty of popups and other bells and whistles.  We have lots of folks giving us a thumbs up and liking the pastor's latest status updates and photo mashup uploads.  Yet, we leave a whole lot to be desired right in our own midst.


When was the last time that the church just invited the visitors from the past quarter or the past year just to come and have fellowship with the pastor? I mean like cookies or cake and punch like a party without the dog and pony show.  I am thinking that we could invite some of the folks who just recovered from years of battling alcoholism or imprisonment, even widowers and former battered wives, to share their testimonies of survival and victory through faith and trust.  let those folks and their testimonies serve as the keynote addresses and let the pastor simply invite the attendees to join in prayer, then let them meet with a prayer counselor or elder of the church- however you do it in your church or congregation- to share their decision to join or to seek more answers about salvation, church and being a Christian.

Something like that may be the breakthrough that we have been awaiting.  The sound system and the projected song lyrics on the big screen are indeed impressive.  In fact, I love seeing that.  But the "true riches" that Christ spoke of will not  be reached and placed in our possession (under our stewardship, rather) if we do not stop for a moment and address our own blind spots to get those around us to come to know us as more than holy hypocrites.  They need to see that we are flesh and blood just like them but the we have the favor of faith that is also readily available to them, too.

Imagine if our local churches took on the role of community center and resource center more than simply just worship center.  What would alter and change in your community? Would your pastor still be seen as the guy who talks about Jesus and God? Or, would people in your community come to know Him as a servant of the Lord and a true man of God in their opinion? It is all in how outsiders view us that is considered public opinion.  How we view ourselves is called "self image." We do not get an eye opener from looking in the mirror or leaning over and telling our neighbor on the pew that we are doing great and doing God's work.

Open up your hearts and mind, then begin to open your doors, so that you have a new image in the community where your church is located.  Maybe you won't change the community in one day, but you surely can change the community's perception of you and your congregation.

For more insights on this please read my article on local visitors and the local church.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Elevated Expectations

In the Dickens classic Great Expectations, it is said that Pip is destined to become a "man of great expectations." Imagine such an elevated expectation of a young man from such humble beginnings.  Now put yourself in a similar situation.

What level of expectation do others have of you?

Are you a picture of the epitome of success? Or, are you sadly falling far below expectations?

If you meet or exceed expectations, now is the time for you to start exploring and engaging in new relationships on a professional level.  You may have outgrown your current level of success and require a new set of challenges to keep your drive going.

When you venture into new territory, you are bound to experience some new levels of elevated expectations.

Meet the challenge and embrace it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Damage of an Inside Job



I love watching Breach, whether on DVD or when cable networks have the guts and cojones to broadcast it late at night.  It deals with espionage and government secrets. However, the underlying thematic undercurrents deal with personal betrayal and undermining the person more than the system.  


It is a lot like the Gospels and the rest of the Scriptures






Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.  - Matthew 26:15








Judas was a disciple of Jesus.  We tend to see his betrayal without getting a glimpse of his beginnings.  We hardly ever hear or read about him as a zealot or how he was the one who was not a Galilean disciple.  Yet, we are certain to remember that he betrayed the Master for thirty pieces of silver, that he kissed the Lord as a sign to the Lord's captors and that he hung himself some time afterwards.

We rarely get an authentic, biblical view of Judas because his tragic betrayal stands out beyond anything else he could have ever done.

But Judas was a follower of Jesus.  In fact, Judas was one of the Twelve.  Judas did not choose to walk away when Jesus shared one of His so-called hard sayings (John 6:66).  The truth of the matter was that Judas was trusted among the disciples because he handled the treasury of funds for the ministry.  We know that Jesus said that one of the Twelve was a devil, but he never tossed Judas out nor called him on his eventual betrayal of Him.  

But Satan entered into Judas' heart.




For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.- Psalm 55:12-13


Judas was subject to many of the troubling things that we all experience while serving beside great leaders.  Wasn't Benedict Arnold a trusted leader serving with General George Washington for the Colonies?  Wasn't Brutus a comrade and friend of Julius Caesar? Oftentimes, it is the inside job's betrayal, deceit and disloyalty that damage us more than the act itself.

We come to realize that Judas' betrayal of Jesus was part of the prophecy.  Judas was used as part of the plan for salvation; no betrayal = no conviction, no cross.  Judas was a necessary evil for the good to come about for us all.

Think about it.  If all of that can occur with someone who walked with Jesus for three years, what is going to happen in your in-house small group or local ecumenical association? Jesus' ministry was not immune to the treachery of a traitor or the deception of a devil, so you surely cannot expect the Lord will not allow you to suffer in a similar fashion.  He knows that you can recover from the damage.

If you ever find it hard to believe that you can live on after having been bruised and battered by betrayal, read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 55 then read Jesus' words to His disciples upon His resurrection.  His words comfort and heal.  We see the betrayed innocence emerging as beautifully clothed in holiness.  Look at Jesus.  After all, He lives on as the result of the after effects an inside job.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Your Best You Have to Offer


And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord.
And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord.
- 1 Kings 8:62-63 (KJV)

What ever you have to offer the Lord, let it be your best.  Give Him the best that you have to give.  Let Him bless you like you have never been blessed before based on your willingness to give Him of your best, not just what you decided to part with.


And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.  On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.
- 1 Kings 8:65-66
The king led the people in offerings and prayer.  Then, after all of that was done, he led them in celebration for an extended period of time.  You see, when you offer God your best, you can enter into His rest.