Archive for November, 2009

An Ignatian Prayer

Monday, November 30th, 2009

ignatius An Ignatian Prayer

I ran across this prayer by Ignatius the other day. It impacted me, and I want to share it with you.

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

What is the toughest part of this prayer to pray? What part of this prayer have you been praying and living these days?

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Always the Second Word

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

images Always the Second Word

Today, as you gather with family and friends, I pray you will:

Focus on thanksgiving as the second word and not the first.

The Greek word thanksgiving is actually built on another very important Greek word – “charis.” The word “charis” means grace and is at the very center of the word thanksgiving. Therefore, grace is at the very center of every thank you, and is therefore the first word.

Grace is God’s undeserved favor or blessing. God gives us something that we don’t deserve so he can get the desired response, which is praise, worship and thanksgiving. Today, let’s go through the intentional discovery of finding the grace/favor of God in every aspect of our lives – life, health, strength, family, friends, jobs, a good church, subscribers to your blog (all of you who read my blog regularly, are a wonderful grace to me), and most of all a relationship with Jesus.

The word thanksgiving is always directed toward God, and connected with how God transforms our lives through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving today, remember to focus on grace as the first word and thanksgiving as the second word.

When are you tempted to be most ungrateful? For what graces are you most thankful to God? Spend some time today counting your blessings from God.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

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Crucify Him!

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

cross 300x211 Crucify Him!

Crucify him!

These were the words that came from the mouths of the mob when Pilate asked them what they wanted him to do with Jesus.

Why?

He was innocent.
He had not committed any crimes.
What had he done to deserve such a sentence?
He was the Son of God.
Why would they lobby and vote to execute an innocent man.

If I was in that crowd, I would have lobbied for his release. If I was in that crowd I would have gathered a group and picketed for the liberation of this innocent man. Free Jesus!

What delusion! What self-righteousness!

I was in that crowd!

For there is none righteous, no not one
I was born in Adam
I was born a sinner
I was far from God
I was dead in my sins and trespasses
I was a child of wrath
I was an enemy of the State – of heaven

I was in that crowd, yelling

Crucify Him!

I am still in that crowd!

Each time I live below my position in Christ, I yell Crucify Him!
Each time I prefer myself over my brother or sister, I scream Crucify Him!
Each time my agenda takes precedent over his agenda, I vociferate Crucify Him!
Each time I don’t love my wife like Christ loved the church, I bellow Crucify Him!
With each willful thought, and act of my sinful nature, I shriek Crucify Him!

I desire to live these powerful words each day, so that I don’t crucify him all over again:

But, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

In what areas of your life do you desire for Christ to have more control? What part of your sinful nature do you need to crucify today?  What more do you need to do to live by faith in the Son of God?

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Leftovers

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

leftovers 300x201 Leftovers

I love my leftovers. Chinese, Thanksgiving dinner, Ribs, and Pizza are a few of my favorites. Whereas I love leftovers, I am certain that God doesn’t enjoy them. Yet, there are times when we find ourselves offering our Great King stuff we have already devoured. It is easy for us to cut corners and offer God and others “leftovers,” “just enough” and shoddy service, isn’t it?

I think we get careless and reckless in our worship and service because we begin to question and doubt his love for us, we forget that he is the great King of Universe, and we become too familiar with handling holy things.

Man, I don’t want to be like the priests and people in Malachi (1:6-14), guilty of the evil crime of offering God sacrifices that a human superior would not accept. He is insulted when we just go through the motions, or when our devotion is turned into duty.

I have decided to live in this book for the next several weeks and let Malachi’s words wash over my heart. Join me in asking the following questions of the sacrifices of your body (Romans 12:1-2), your money (Philippians 4:14-18), your praise (Hebrews 13:15), your good works (Hebrews 13:16), and your witnessing to people who are far from God:

1. Am I giving my best?

2. Am I giving to God first?

3. Is my giving to God costing me anything?

I believe God is calling me to a conscientious spirituality – one that thinks about and changes the attitude and motives of my sacrifice and one that thinks about and increases the quality and cost of my sacrifice.

What other areas of sacrifice can you add to the list? When are you most tempted to offer God leftovers? Which of the five areas above do you need to evaluate and offer God a better sacrifice?

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The Letter

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Here is the letter I tried to share with our congregation yesterday. This was probably one of the hardest letters I have ever written.

My entire life and ministry have been about God’s call on my life

At 13 years old God called me out of darkness and into the light of his kingdom through his Son. At 20 years old, God called me into ministry.

Then God did something strange. Sixteen years ago God called me from cosmopolitan Chicago to a very different place called Grand Rapids, Michigan to serve at New Hope Baptist Church, alongside the late Donnell Smith.

Then God did something even stranger; he called me from a predominantly black church to serve at Calvary (a predominantly white church), alongside Ed Dobson. I believe that call set the tone in my life for helping to break down the racial and cultural barriers that had exist in churches today. My entire life has been about God calling me and me responding to that call.

Seven years ago, God called me to two men, Artie Lindsay and Kizombo Kalumbula, to plant a disciple-making church that looked like heaven. When I look around this morning, we see a church that, seven years ago, was just an idea. God made a crazy idea reality. In serving a Tabernacle, I have realized another call on my life – a calling as a bridge – a walkway between various cultures.

My entire life and ministry has been about God’s call on my life.

Several months ago, elders from Trinity Church, in Lansing, Michigan approached me to see if I would consider praying about serving as their next Senior Teaching Pastor (I did not initiate the conversations, send out resumes, and neither was I looking for new assignments. I believe God opened this door). So, Tonia and I began praying about it, and with our elders’ knowledge and blessing, we agreed to enter and go through the process to see if God was leading us to join him in Lansing, Michigan. After going through a lengthy process and interview, on Tuesday, November 17th, the elders of Trinity Church agreed to recommend me to their congregation as the candidate for their next Senior Teaching Pastor. My family and I sense God calling and leading in our lives, and we want to remain open to his leading and direction.

Because we love you and desire to honor you, we are asking you to pray with us, as we remain open to God’s will for our lives. Here are some dates that we invite to pray for us.

On December 12th and 13th, the Trinity congregation will vote whether to call me as their next senior teaching pastor.

Thank you for your prayers and support during this time in our lives.

What are your reactions to the letter? To what do you think God is calling you? How open are to his call on your life?

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Dance

Monday, November 9th, 2009

This past weekend my kids had friends over for a two day visit. While the boys played video games, my daughter and her friend, Joy, giggled and laughed and danced. The interesting thing is, they danced without music. There was an innocent joy and delight stirring within their little hearts that caused them to spontaneously move their bodies all over our house.

As I watched them express joy and delight with the spontaneous movements of their bodies, I thought about what should cause us to dance.

When God delivers us from bondage, we should dance.
When God exchanges our mourning for joy, we should dance.
When God gives us victory over our enemies, we should dance.
When God gives and restores our hope, we should dance.

Think through these questions with me:

When was the last time I danced?
What are the things, attitudes, behaviors that tend to steal my groove?
What are some other things that should cause me to dance?
What has caused me to spontaneously move my body with joy and delight lately?

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