Like Riding a Bike

I think we have all wondered if we could do something again after being out of practice and received the response, “It’s like getting back on a bicycle. It will all come back to you.” That is how I felt this morning. I have preached since November 2013, but it’s one thing to just preach and another thing to be a pastor. This time, I’m starting from scratch. No one laid the groundwork for me (which can be a blessing). However, the Bible is the best guideline for a church which is exactly what I want – a biblically based body of believers without religious, manmade trappings.

Today, I was able once again to share the hope that only Jesus Christ can give. I shared the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis and principles related to God-given dreams. God used His Word to help those who have experienced detours, delays, and interruptions as life hasn’t happened the way they thought. I can’t wait to preach next week and see what God is going to do. It is wonderful to have the peace of knowing that I am doing what God has called me to do.

Some of you may be hesitant to do something because it didn’t work out last time. You may be afraid of failure. Jesus is asking you to get out of the boat like He did to Simon Peter. We have the guarantee of “walking on the water”, yet we are prone to calculate rather than obey. I can assure you that God honors obedience even when it doesn’t make sense to those around you.

Step out in obedience, my friend! It will be like riding a bike all over again😀.

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Me…Start a Church?

Although God put this in my heart in 1997 after I surrendered to the call to preach, I kept the vision in my heart but fought against it becoming a reality. People have various thoughts about church planting. One of those is “Why start another church when we have so many others?” That’s a great question that I would love to answer.

  1. Most of America’s churches are declining. Pastors and denominations have developed strategies to “revitalize”, only to discover that the people in these churches are content to sink with the ship.
  2. Many people do not want to associate with already established churches because they have been hurt and abused by the political system.
  3. People who have had a rough past don’t feel like most churches are a safe haven for them to experience the life-changing power of Christ in a loving community. They feel judged and condemned by sinful people who are disqualified to judge while they have already been forgiven by Christ, the Righteous Judge.

The second question I’m sure is on the hearts of people is “Why start a nondenominational church?” I have been a denominationalist all my life. I have discovered a few things along the way. Please keep in mind that God put starting a nondenominational church in my heart in 1997.

  1. The word “Baptist” or “Methodist” no longer defines denominations or churches. A church may have a label that aligns with conservatism while the church itself is liberal.
  2. Because of politics, denominational labels have left permanently negative impressions. I know of a church that exploded in growth when they removed the denominational name.
  3. As the founding pastor of this church, I will have no denominational entities to impress with small group numbers, worship attendance numbers, or baptism numbers. I will be in a ship that is a minority in our area, and I will continue to spend time with like-minded, kingdom-minded pastors who realize we are in this together and not in a competition.

The final thing I want to share is the heartbeat behind the name “Overcomers Church”. In my years of ministry, I have seen countless people who have great potential but have not lived up to it. Many of these never had someone express interest in helping them grow in their faith. I have seen men and women overcome but life’s circumstances – addiction, family problems, and various other personal struggles. I have seen these same people demonized by churches when they needed the church (the real body of believers) most. My desire is to be a tool in the hands of God who will help people become Overcomers in life.

We are starting with nothing more than a call from God. We currently have no financial support, but we believe that the same God who called us is faithful and will meet our needs. Please join us in prayer. To my blog readers, I love you all (even when we have disagreements aka “intense fellowship”).

Thy Will Be Done

Am I the only one who has difficulty praying “Thy will be done”, especially when God’s plan does not align with what I want? I would safely assume I’m not the only one. We pray for God’s will when it is often what our flesh does not desire. The painful part of the growth process is becoming so selfless that we are willing to accept God’s plan even when it hurts.

Jesus struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane with the same thing. He knew that His death was a part of the Father’s plan to reconcile sinful mankind to Himself, but Jesus prayed, “let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not My will but Thine be done.” Then He set His face toward the cross to endure our sin and shame.

Some parts of God’s will are glorious; others are not. How will we remind when God allows something that will accomplish His will but it goes against our will? That is one of the greatest indicators of where we are in our Christian growth. No wonder John said “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30).

God, please help us all to be so strong in our faith that we draw closer to You when our will does not align with Yours. Please give us grace to accept that Your plan is perfect. In the matchless name of Jesus we pray. Amen!

Disagreements Among Christians

I’m on a roll tonight. As I was reading a post from another blogger, I was reminded how quick the “Christian” community (however it is variously defined) is to disagree. We will argue over semantics and preferences in a heartbeat. Please let me clarify that I did not argue with this blogger. This sister in Christ, in my opinion, has experienced detox from manmade religion and restraints and found the liberty that comes from a vibrant relationship with Christ. If she is reading this, I hope it is a fair assessment.

While the dialog on her post was good, I began to think about so many professing Christians who deliver their opinions with a hateful spirit via the internet and other forms of media. Paul said in Ephesians 4:15 to speak the truth in love. If it is a preferential disagreement, it isn’t even worth sharing. Many of my Christian brothers and sisters don’t dot their i’s and cross their t’s like I do, but I will not engage in a war because they don’t see things like I do.

We must ask ourselves this question when we get into public discussion: “Am I doing any harm to someone and their Christian growth by what I type and the way I word it?” If the answer is potentially yes, it’s time to rethink. Scripture teaches that we should not cause a brother or sister to stumble. The point is not for us to look correct; it is to glorify Christ by delivering truth in a way that honors Him.

Remember Lot’s Wife

“Remember Lot’s wife” – Three simple words in one verse that have tremendous impact when you know the story. We are quick to criticize her, yet there is some of her in all of us.

In the book of Genesis, God was calling Lot and his wife to leave a wicked place and not look back. There was something within Lot’s wife that was pulling her to turn back. When she did, she turned into a pillar of salt.

What is it that leads many of us to keep looking back?

  1. Delusions of grandeur – Many of us thought life was better back then. The truth is that we complained the whole time we were in it. Now that we have discovered the grass isn’t so green on this side, we look back.
  2. Regret – Some of us wish we would have done things different. We wish we wouldn’t have rushed into a marriage, finished college, taken a different career path, etc. Regret is also harmful. I will admit that I have a difficult time accepting reality and the repercussions of choices I made.
  3. Desiring something we shouldn’t have – Many do not follow through in “commitments” to Jesus because they want Fire insurance from hell but don’t want to live a committed life of following Christ.

Are you looking back today? Is there something that is stealing your attention from enjoying the present and looking forward to the future? Paul said it well in Philippians 3 when he said to forget those things that are behind and press on. We cannot undo the past, but we can do something about the rest of our life.

Remember Lot’s wife. She looked back, and it paralyzed her. It will do the same to you!

Delayed Obedience

I heard a statement a few years back that says “delayed obedience is still disobedience”. Oh, have I found that to be true. Many of us are procrastinators by nature. We easily justify our procrastination because we eventually did it. However, the principle is that we are to obey the moment we are given that command.

For some time, God has put a particular thing in my heart. I have come up with every excuse to delay obedience. I am to the point now that the conviction is so heavy. I cannot put it off any longer!

What has God told you to do that you have delayed? Is it the decision to surrender your life to Christ? Is it withholding your time, talents, and treasures from Him? Is it obeying the call to full-time Christian service? Meeting a ministry need in your church? What is it?

I promise you that you will be miserable until you do it. You can only put if off so long. People may criticize you and not understand your step of obedience, but you answer to God. Man’s opinion does not matter.

So, my friend, step out in faith today! God does not promise that it will be without opposition, but the satisfaction within your spirit in pleasing God is far greater than the feeling of guilt because you disobeyed.

Worship: Spectator or Participator Sport?

I could address this subject from so many different angles. Some of you who read this are more reserved and probably lean toward worship being for spectators. You were raised in a church where you watched and listened to the choir, the pastor, and anyone else who participated. You may have slightly engaged in congregational singing of songs that may have had little to no effect on you. Some of you were raised in a highly participatory church where the choir or preacher may have been ministering, and you were jumping pews, hanging from chandeliers, lifting your hands, shouting, or some other outward expression.

I’m not sure what affects this. I have found that most men in the churches I served were too macho to sing. I guess being the slightest bit emotional about God leads to losing “man points”? Many people I know were taught that only Pentecostals get expressive. I am not Pentecostal, but I have no reservations about getting excited about Jesus publicly or privately.

Worship is a verb. At the end of the day, your level of expression is not measured by my critique. Jesus measured worship participation with two words: spirit and truth (John 4:24). He didn’t measure it by style or denomination. You may be reserved and find it difficult to express your love for the Lord like others. If it is in spirit (spirited) and rooted in the truth of Scripture, you’re good.

So today, I challenge you to go deeper than a casual, nonchalant encounter with Jesus. Many of my Clemson Tiger fans are “All In” as they are celebrating Clemson’s victory earlier this week with today’s festivities. Some of them are more “in” for Dabo and the Tigers than they are Jesus. Jesus is looking for more from us. He is looking for surrender. Are we sideline spectators who think we know how it should be done, or are we on the field for Jesus showing the world how it should be done as Christ shines through us?

What Do You Hate?

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I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking, “My momma taught me not to hate anything or anybody.” If we examine the Bible enough, we will see that there are some things we should hate. That may go against your nature, but the Bible trumps what we’ve been taught.

The weekend weather led to many church cancellations including ours, so I watched Pastor Steven Furtick online. He preached from Psalm 119:112-114 which says, “I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end. I hate the double-minded, but I love Your law. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.” He said so much in the message, but I have asked myself what I hate.

Many of my readers know my story, so what I’m about to say will be of no surprise to you. I hate what my divorce did to my life. If you have been divorced, you may understand. I hate that many churches look at me as useless, that my kids live approximately 200 miles away, and that my financial status was horribly affected. I handle this well on some days, but these thoughts still torture me often. I do my best to keep these thoughts from allowing me to miss out on the fact that God has given me a good wife now, a precious 5-month old girl, and the blessing of His salvation, power, and presence in my life.

While I intended to draw attention to how we should hate evil, I know that someone reading this is in a situation you hate. A marriage or “romantic” relationship. The fact that a child has gone astray. A divorce. Poor health. Financial hardship. Sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.

The answer is found in these verses. We need to incline our heart to obedience. We intentionally choose the posture of our heart, hate evil to the point that it moves us to godly action (not knocking someone’s block off), hide (take shelter) in God’s shadow of protection, and hope in the Lord. Steven Furtick stated that our hope should not be in the path but in the promise. I can take no credit for this, but I wanted to share this truth from God’s Word as shared by one of His servants.

You don’t have to live in that place of hating some of your circumstances. You can find joy in the midst of it. It may be a slower journey for you, but please join me in this journey as I push through and cling to the God who is faithful to His promise.

Desperation

I was reading through Psalm 119 and came across this phrase in verse 126: “It is time for You to act, O Lord.” Have you ever felt that way? You had a situation that you have been praying about or an answer you have waited for, and you feel like God hasn’t acted soon enough.

My blogging and preaching has often come from my own experiences in my Christian life. The greatest mistake we make is that we try to “help God out”. He doesn’t need our help when it comes to directing our path. His provision and whatever you may need comes in His time NOT OURS!

The greatest temptation is for us to give up on praying and trusting God while we wait. Jesus instructed us to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking. Don’t stop! Don’t give up! Keep talking to God even through your frustration! He knows you’re frustrated, so you might as well pour out your heart to Him. Ultimately, He WILL act but it may be in an unexpected and better way that is for our good and maturity.

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