Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Who Lost The Cross?

Do you remember what it was like to be lost?

I believe it's easy for Christians to forget what it was like to be lost.  We can become so used to our "church culture" that THE CROSS is LOST in our memory.

Jesus came to reach people who were OUT OF RELATIONSHIP with God.  If we're not INTENTIONAL about sharing the CROSS we can easily slip into a ROUTINE of keeping ourselves happy by creating SAFE and COMFORTABLE environments where we never really have to make any bold moves or take any radical steps of FAITH to reach other people for Christ.

When we forget what it was like to be lost...we tend to speak "Christianise."  Christianise is the jargon Christians use within the church.  Basically, the use of religious terminology that is characterized by certain words, terms and catchphrases that can only be understood by those within the confines of the church.

If we forget what it was like to be LOST then we will begin to answer questions that the world really isn't asking.  We begin to obsess over things that the world is not obsessed over.  To be honest, lost people aren't really concerned about the doctrine of election, pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib.

If we forget what it was like to be LOST we can easily bog the church down with programs that CATER to the personal preferences of those INSIDE the church and completely neglects those OUTSIDE the church.

If we forget what it was like to be LOST we can find it easy to look DOWN on people who are far from God. 

Do you remember when you were lost?  Paul spoke about it in Ephesians..."YOU WERE DEAD..." 

Who was dead?  The people INSIDE the church in Ephesus...people who were now involved in Bible studies, people who served as elders, deacons, musicians, teachers, etc.  Paul reminds them that they WERE all dead!

If you ARE a born again believer then you were ONCE DEAD!  Don't forget where you came from!  Remind yourself today of those BAD HABITS, DESTRUCTIVE PATTERNS, MISTAKES and ADDICTIONS!

But...NOW YOU ARE ALIVE! (Ephesians 2:4-5) God made you ALIVE in CHRIST!

Jesus made you alive...NOT your good works.
Jesus made you alive...NOT your bible knowledge.
Jesus made you alive...NOT your church history.
Jesus made you alive...NOT your talent.
Jesus made you alive...NOT your education.
Jesus made you alive...NOT your money.
Jesus made you alive...NOT your facebook status.
Jesus made you alive...NOT your charisma.
Jesus made you alive...NOT your physique.
Jesus made you alive...NOT your intellect.
Jesus made you alive...NOT your positive outlook.

God made me ALIVE because of HIS effort not mine!  Besides, dead people can't decide to be better people....THEY'RE DEAD!

Do you remember what it was like to be lost?  We sometimes forget that SALVATION is a GIFT.  It's so easy to slip into a system of legalism that allows us to be defined by WHAT WE DO and DO NOT DO rather than the finished work that Christ has done for us.

Before we LOOK DOWN on people we need to remember WE WERE those people!  Keeping that in mind will put us in "CHECK" the next we want to protest, picket and even damn people to hell!  Friend...if it had not been for the AMAZING GRACE of God we would be the very people that we try to isolate ourselves from!

FOUND PEOPLE FIND PEOPLE!  If you've been found then it's your responsibility to find someone who isn't!  We are not called to CONDEMN the world (John 3:17) but to REACH and IMPACT the world!  However, that will never be accomplished until those IN the church realize the reality of the GOSPEL...and instead of using the cross to BEAT people with we simply kneel at the foot of it and begin to declare that there is still room for those who are far from God!

We cannot forget what it was like to be lost!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Church is a Hospital

I'm still EXCITED about the salvation's we've witnessed these past few weeks!  It's as if the flood gates of salvation have been opened up and we're reaping the harvest we've been praying for and sowing for so long!


In the past two weeks, 17 people stood and said, "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior!" 

In one of my recent posts I asked the question...."Is our church too big?"  I was trying to PROVOKE us to think about the question..."Does God REALLY want the church to grow?"

Peter was just one of 120 gathered in Jerusalem when the HOLY SPIRIT fell upon the church!  On that day, Peter preached about JESUS and quoted SCRIPTURE (Joel).  As a result, the Bible says 3,000 people were ADDED to the church! (Acts 2:41)

I wonder who did the counting that day?  I mean...who showed up with a calculator?  Someone had to have COUNTED for us to have RECORD of the number of people who were converted that day.

When NEW PEOPLE come to our church do we get upset at the growth?  Look at the Day of Pentecost for a we see people in the "original group" of 120 saying, "Well, I guess we won't be able to hang out with Peter and John like we used too!"  Do you see people saying, "It's too big - we don't know everybody?"

The answer is NO.

Here's why....the early church was FOCUSED on the WORK of JESUS!  They were more concerned about getting those who did not KNOW Christ INTO the Kingdom rather than hanging out in their small circles of friends, gossiping about whether or not a person had on appropriate attire.

Whoever did the counting that day didn't stop counting!  They counted again in Acts fact there is a reference to counting 12 more times in the book of Acts.

A few years ago a man who had visited our church told me that he really liked our church, enjoyed the preaching and loved the worship experience but he didn't want to join because we were "too big" and he was used to a smaller church.

Honestly, that mentality is so archaic it makes me shake my head in disbelief.  How can reaching people for Christ and seeing people added to the Kingdom of God cause a man to have that kind of perspective?

We must always be in a state of GROWTH.  I know what it's like to struggle.  I remember gathering with 22 people and sharing my vision for our church only to see most of those folks leave within a year.  I'm acquainted with struggle...but I REFUSE to be a pastor of a church that is INWARD FOCUSED while people in our city are dying and going to HELL!

INWARD FOCUSED PEOPLE are more interested in dress code, laws, rules, regulations, position and appearance than...SOULS! 

Let me be clear on something...we've been bringing people into our fellowship for a while who come from backgrounds that are FAR from the CHURCH LIFE some of us grew up in - here in the Bible Belt...but I REFUSE to turn any of them away just because they don't have the "attire" we think they should have on to come to church.

Oh...I know both sides of the coin.  I've been "in this thing" all my life.  But here's what I'm learning of the Lord...PEOPLE NEED JESUS...and they're going to find Him regardless of  dress code or economics. 

The church is a HOSPITAL for the sin sick soul!  Jesus didn't come to call the righteous...He came to call the sinner!  Those who are WHOLE need not a physician!   (Matthew 9:12)

Our GOAL is to get them TO THE CROSS!  Once that happens, THE HOLY SPIRIT will perform His office and lead them in a personal relationship.  The church will be there to GUIDE, TEACH, INSTRUCT & ADMONISH - not MAKE FUN of folks and belittle them cause they don't live up to our preferencial standards.

I believe we MUST have a standard...guidelines...and common sense.  This will come to each of us as we continue our love relationship with Jesus.

Let me ask you a question...ARE YOU A VOLUNTEER at our church?

Here's what I'm learning...PEOPLE WHO VOLUNTEER RARELY COMPLAIN ABOUT ANYTHING...and when they do we always listen because we KNOW they are committed to God's work through this church.

Usually, the people who complain are the ones who are too lazy to volunteer OR think their spiritual gift is sitting on their back side!

When you TEAM UP with people on feel like you are PART of the TEAM!
I conclude with this thought about being "too big!"  What if we used that excuse in other areas of our lives?

What if I called our stock broker and said, "Hey...stop making me 401k is TOO BIG!  He would think I was CRAZY!!!  We want our money to grow because it is valuable to us...and God wants the church to GROW because it is VALUABLE to HIM!

What if we treated an NFL football game like that?  What if we had to "know" everyone before we would attend?  If that was the case, you'd never go!  Seriously, no one ever says, "I was so offended - Peyton Manning didn't personally come and talk to me AND ask my opinion on the plays he should run!"

NO - we GO TO THE GAME - we experience something with people we DON'T KNOW - and one common thread holds us together...FOOTBALL!  But then some of those same people want to go to their church and say, "I want us to remain a small church!" 

Why is it that we want to BUILD our FOOTBALL stadiums and bank buildings larger and our churches SMALLER and SMALLER?

I believe we should look at numbers because God is into them as well!  NUMBERS represent SOULS and SOULS represent people who have been REACHED beacuse they are people who care about others!

Let's keep BUILDING!

There are souls to be won!
There are churches to be planted!
There are leaders to be raised!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sexual Temptation - My Friend...The Guardrail (Part 2)

The guardrail - designed to keep you from straying into a dangerous area. (read more about guardrails in part 1)

Another area where we need a GUARDRAIL is with temptation...especially SEXUAL TEMPTATION.

Think you're exempt?  It's out there and it's going to try to get you to yield to it regardless of who you are.  What are you going to do when it hits?  It's time to decide NOW! 

Do you know someone who is being tempted sexually?  Perhaps it's you.  Whoever it're going to need the following GUARDRAILS in place:

1. Know the difference between the truth and a lie! - Say this with me..."The Devil is a liar!"  The Word of God declares the devil to be a liar.  (John 8:44) He will attempt to offer you a counterfeit and not the REAL THING.  He'll tell you to go ahead and "have that affair!" many people do we have to see go down this road of destruction before we learn to keep our clothes on?

2. Quit making excuses! - It seems so many people want to use David as an excuse!  Seriously?  They say, "David committed adultery and was called a man after God's own heart."  Yes...but he repented (which means he turned away from his sin instead of diving deeper into it and then screaming that people needed to show him grace!)  He also had sexual sin in his family for generations, had a daughter raped and a son rebel against him.  DO NOT BE FOOLISH and think that your children are not going to suffer the consequences all because you were more passionate about "living a loose lifestyle" than Jesus.  Instead of using David as an excuse...look to Joseph for an example!

3. Reach out! - Don't deal with temptation alone.  Ask for help!  Seek help from someone you know that loves Jesus and loves you too.  If you don't get help - it's going to get WORSE! need Godly men around you!  CONFESS your problem and then SUBMIT to their leadership.

4. Quit blaming others! - Have you messed up and you're blaming others for it?  If you'll listen to the people who sincerely love you and want to try to protect you, your marriage and your church then DON'T SCREAM that they and the church turned their back on you when it was actually you that decided to fornicate or commit adultery.  You are NOT THE VICTIM once you decide to commit sin...and sin has consequences.  And that's not being judgemental...its simply declaring the truth!

  • By the way...your "friends" aren't the ones who rally around you and affirm your sin...they are the ones that DO love you, do beg God for you to repent, do speak truth and do hurt for you more than you know!  And...the church didn't turn its back on you when you turned your back on her!!!
5. Guard your Integrity! - I promise you...sexual sin is not going to give you long term satisfaction!  If you are a pastor, leader, minister, etc and think that you can have sexual relations with a man/woman in your church then you've got to understand that what attracted him/her to you (integrity, Godly character, etc.) is now SHATTERED the minute you had sexual relationship with him/her...and sooner than you think, the scales will come off their eyes and they will see what you really are.

Does God forgive sexual sin?  YES INDEED!  He is a God who loves unconditionally!  But HEAR ME...God's work is too important for any one of us to sell out for MOMENTARY PLEASURE!  We've got to FIGHT...we've got to RUN from this temptation!
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body[a] and in your spirit, which are God’s.
One final thought...Jesus didn't die on the cross so people that claim to follow Him could run around and have sexual relationships with whoever they want and then scream "GRACE" and "you're being judgemental" when people point out their sin and attempt to set up a restoration process! 

God help us keep integrity in our ministries and marriages!  The cross of Jesus is too important to sell out for sex!  I emplore everyone to keep these things in mind when temptation comes knocking on your door.

A local shepherd,

Pastor Hylton

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Friend...The Guardrail (Part 1)

When I was a kid my parents would take us to Kentucky to visit their families.  My Dad's family is from an area called "Rockhouse" and my mother's family is from an area called "Greasy Creek."  Both of these areas are in Pike County, Kentucky and each are nestled in the Appalachian mountains.

In those days (70's) the fastest way to reach both sides of the family was to travel across those mountains. At times, traveling was treacherous because the roads were dirt, filled with rocks and there were NO GUARDRAILS!  

Guardrails are designed to keep you from straying into a dangerous area.  Next time you drive on the interstate, see if you can guess how many miles those guardrails run.  Guardrails are there to keep you safe.

Now think of how God uses spiritual guardrails to guide and protect us.  I guess one way we could view it is that a guardrail is a "standard of behavior that becomes a matter of conscience." 

We need guardrails to keep us from ever going "too far" or from moving in a dangerous direction.

Guard your Friendships - We all need friends.  Friends shape us and help us grow.  However, there are times when you need to put a guard up to protect your future from unhealthy friendships.  Often, our biggest regrets are made in the company of our closest friends.

Proverbs 13:20 says, "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm." 

Walk with the wise and become wise.  The warning is to avoid walking with fools.

We monitor our children's friendships for this very reason. Parents often can discern when something isn't "right" with a friendship and for that reason may not allow their children to spend time with certain kids in school. 

We must exercise the same caution as adults.

Guard your Marriage -  Couples need couples to fellowship with.  When you were single you had friends that followed you into your marriage.  Sometimes those friendships are with people of the opposite sex - making the relationship somewhat awkward.  Couples can have a difficult time finding couples with whom both you and your spouse get along well with.  Sometimes the husbands or wives do not mesh.  In other, potentially more confusing situations, the wife and husband within each couple may "click" more than the wife-wife or husband-husband.

I believe it is important for husbands and wives to each have a "same-gendered" friend for counsel and accountability.  The most important friendship is with GOD, then you and your spouse.  Protect your marriage at all costs!

Do you have guardrails in your life?  Here's some guardrails we should consider:

1. Direction - are the friends you run with moving in the same direction that you are?  If not, you may want to do something about it now rather than wait till there's a problem.  Perhaps you need to reach out and invest in additional or a new group of people.  Remember what Solomon said, "companions of fools will cause suffering and harm."

2. Be Yourself - if you're with a group of friends and inside your heart you know you're not "being yourself" when you're with them - then you are probably pretending to be someone you are not.  If you find yourself acting differently when you're around a certain group of people, then you may want to consider pulling back from these relationships.

3. No Compromise - Do the people you run with cause you to ignore your values or try to rationalize sin?  A true friend will point you in the direction of what is right, good and righteous. Some people end up going into clubs and bars that they would have declared as "off-limits" before.  We should FLEE sin and immorality, not see how close we can get.  If you're being put in a position to compromise than you are just TOO CLOSE!  You never know when things could get out of hand.  You could do something you regret or be guilty by association.

4. Godly Fear - this will spring up inside of you especially when you begin to think about the people you care about the most who would be shocked and saddened if they knew where you were, what your were doing or who you were doing it with.  Without Godly fear you will make your mind work overtime to try to conjure an excuse, explanation or rationalization to have readily available if needed.

The bottom line is we need to use WISDOM and seek to do what is RIGHT at all times.

What do you do when people you know crash through the guardrail?  Often we are reluctant to handle situations because of our relational connection with our friends and family.

We even tell ourselves "I'm just being a Christian and showing acceptance, compassion or love by staying in this relationship."  You may even think "But I really love these people...Jesus modeled that we should love people."

These are SLY LIES from the depths of Hell.  You are using compassion or love as an excuse for inaction.  You are lying to yourself.  This is not about your family and's about YOU!

NEVER confuse compassion and wisdom; they do not compete with each other.  Compassion should NEVER require you to make an UNWISE decision for yourself or in your friendships/relationships.

The best thing you can do in life is stay on the correct side of the guardrail.  This is where you MODEL CHRIST'S HEART.  When people "crash" or get "caught" in their sin...your friend will probably run to you first.  You will be the "go-to person".  It is in these moments where you have a true opportunity to witness with extraordinary wisdom, compassion, help, insight and love.  By withdrawing from the relationship(s), you allow yourself to be healthy and ready for these opportunities.

On a final note...GOD DOESN'T BLESS A MESS.  Be aware of the guardrails that our Heavenly Father has put in place.
  • Don't get mad at the guardrail - it's designed to keep you safe and could very well SAVE your life.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"fill er up!"

Gasoline prices are fluctuating.  Beverly and I were riding along Rockville Road this past weekend when the low fuel indicator in my truck alerted me that I was near empty.  We passed one gas station where the price for gas was $3.48.  We traveled another mile and the same gasoline company was selling the same gas for $3.64.  In only a mile the price of gas increased by $.16 a gallon.

When I was a child my mother and sister and I were on our way to the gas station and ran out of gas just a few feet away from the gas station.  We all got out and pushed.  We were blessed when a gentlemen stopped and helped us. 

Imagine're right in front of a gas station and you run out of gas.  HA HA HA.

Question:  How do people run out of gas?  Friends, there's really no excuse for running out of gas.  Every car is equipped with a gas gauge and it's purpose is to let you know how much gas you have.

Here's a clue...when the needle gets close to the "E" then you need more gas!  I've come to the rescue of others who have run out of gas and they always seem to say, "I thought I had more in the tank," or "when it gets on 'E' I still really have about 20 more miles."  These are great excuses...but the truth is every day someone runs out of gas because they simply do not pay attention to the gas gauge.

As a pastor, I regret seeing any of our leaders or church members run out of gas.  You may ask, "How can a leader at a church run out of gas spiritually?"  Here's how ... "The same way people run out of gas in their cars - they think they are OK and so they ignore the warning signs and the obvious places that are designed to help them fill up."

I've been on "E" before. I know what it's like to be spiritually drained and still be expected to lead.  It's not a good feeling and it's definitely not something I want for my team or church. 

Ministry takes WORK!  Lots of work!  Hard work!  Lazy leaders will never walk in the full measure of success that God intends for them to achieve.  However, if you are doing ministry at a blazing speed - the pace at which you are doing the work of God could destroy God's work in you.

As a follower of Jesus WE have the responsibility to FILL OUR TANKS!  It "irks" me when I hear a Christian make a comment about a church and says, "I wasn't getting fed there..."  HELLO?  It's not the churches job to FEED YOU!!! 

We are not infants that have to be fed!  When children reach a certain age they learn to feed themselves - and if a person needs to be fed then that communicates infancy and not maturity.

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for putting spiritual food into your soul so that you have something to offer those who are truly STARVING when they walk into our church on Sunday. 

Where's your spiritual gas gauge? 
  1. When is the last time you heard God speak to you?
  2. When is the last time a Scripture jumped off the page at you even though you've read it before?
  3. When is the last time you invited a stranger to church?
  4. When you are in a worship service, does your mouth and mind go to automatic pilot when you sing...or do you truly mean the words that you are singing?
  5. Can you remember where God brought you from?
  6. Do your family and friends see Jesus in you?  (Do your children have to look to another household for an example of a godly mother or father...or two parents that REALLY love each other?)
  7. Are you ministering out of OBLIGATION or the OVERFLOW?  Is working for God a CHORE?  If so, there won't be any fruit.
To FILL UP - we must do what Mary did (Luke 10:38-39) and spend time at the feet of Jesus and listen!

Friday, August 12, 2011

8 Things I Want To Share

  1. Thank you for the birthday wishes, gifts and surprise on Wednesday night! I was unexpectedly blessed to spend a couple of days with my family in Chicago. The weather was great and the pizza was delicious! I was asked if 41 is just as fabulous as 40...well...I have to say YES it is! :-)
  2. A couple of days ago, we received word that our Transportation Ministry shared 31 loaves of bread in less than an hour with families at an area apartment complex. I love hearing reports of our people who are constantly sharing Jesus in practical ways! Contact Bruce and Marsha Sanders at
  3. Last night our team of volunteers shared Jesus with 70 people at our Food Pantry Outreach! I'm so proud of this team! Every month they model the love of God through serving others. Want to get involved in this ministry? Contact Fred and Hart Kelso at
  4. We are currently in two series:
  5. On Sunday we were thrilled to have our new CARE Pastors, Leeroy and Maxine Hill, in the 11 AM service. We spoke about the timeline of them completely moving to Indianapolis was contingent on the sale of their home. We prophesied it to happen this week. Well...THAT WAS SUNDAY...and on TUESDAY it SOLD! We are excited about this addition to our team and look forward to their move.
  6. Most of our kids went back to school this week. It's a new season and families are getting back into the swing of things. We were blessed to receive backpacks for grade school kids and thrilled to pass them out to families who could get good use out of them. Special thanks to several families in our church who allowed God to use them to buy school supplies.
  7. Tomorrow our Sports Ministry will be hosting a Community Rummage Sale from 8:00 - 1:00 pm in the church parking lot. Come early for the best deals! Also,we'll have concessions on hand - so bring your wallet and checkbook. FYI: parking will flow through the north entrance (closest to McClures Gas Station).
  8. The Joy of's a joy to lead this growing congregation. Beverly and I are appreciative of your prayers and continual encouragement.
    • I spoke with a Pastor recently who said, "I've only been pastoring a short time but in that time I have felt like giving up several times. Does it get any easier?" I shared with him that it's absolutely normal to think about throwing in the towel at times...usually on Monday morning...LOL. To answer the question...the answer is NO...It doesn't get any easier...especially as the church grows.
    • I LOVE MINISTRY even more today than I did when I began preaching 25 years ago...but each step has become way more challenging and difficult than ever.
      • The spiritual warfare has become a lot more intense...if I shared the things that have happened, some people wouldn't believe me.
      • There has been lots of sleepless nights as I've been woken up out of sleep to pray about the next step the church is going to take...or, often times, to pray for specific people in the church.
      • The criticism has increased as people have said things about me that they would not say to their worst enemy...I've been misquoted, misrepresented and misunderstood.
      • The relationships have gotten better...and worse. People have left the church because "they could not be close to me anymore" or "I preach too hard and expect people to live too holy." And it always hurts when people leave...always.
      • How I manage my time has become WAY more was easier in the earlier days...but it's a challenge to balance home and a growing church.
    • It doesn't get easier. I've found that people want me to PASTOR them...UNTIL I HAVE TO PASTOR THEM.
      • They want me to perform their weddings, dedicate their children, preach their funerals, pray for them during their sickness, counsel them during life's toughest moments...BUT...get upset when I question their absence, call out bad attitudes, correct sinful behavior and hold them accountable. It's then that they don't like the correction they receive or the instruction their given.
    • It doesn't get easier...but then again I don't think it is supposed to. The only way it will ever get easier is if you finally lose your passion and desire to honor God above everyone and everything else and you cower in to the personal preferences of people.
    • It never has gotten has gotten better...
      • It is worth it when I see people far from God open their lives to the call of Jesus and surrender to Him.
      • It is worth it when I see a marriage restored.
      • It is worth it when I begin to see people develop and grow spiritually.
      • It is worth it when I see the kids coming to church...and LOVING IT!
      • It is worth it when I see teenagers who sell out to Jesus and make Him the priority in their life.
      • It is worth it when I see singles begin to highly value the covenant of marriage and refuse to settle for anything less than God's best.
      • It is worth it when I see God's kingdom advance and the gates of Hell are pushed back just a little further!
    • It's worth it! It doesn't get easier...but it gets better...and we should never give up day we will stand in front of Jesus...He had an assignment much tougher than ours and He didn't give up! He's worth it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Is Accountability a Thing of the Past?

What does accountability mean?  A willingness to accept responsibility for your actions.

It seems we're living in a day where the thought of being accountable is a thing of the past.  More and more, the attitude of the world and it's unwillingness to accept responsibility is creeping it's way into the culture of the church. 

There used to be a day when a person made a mistake...they owned up to their mistakes and accepted full responsibility for their actions ALONG WITH the consequences for their actions.  But this is no longer the case...even amongst Christians.

Today, the pattern of blaming others and covering our tracks is the "norm."  It is normal in today's culture:
  • To pass the buck and shift the blame.
  • To respond defiantely when correction is given.
  • To "buck up" against all forms of authority.
  • To run away from our responsibility rather than face it.
  • To justify our sin rather than turn from it.
  • To refuse correction if it's not delivered to our liking.
Question:  When do we take responsibility for our actions? 
Question:  What are we teaching our children when we do not make them take responsibility?

Are we that "far gone" from biblical principles
that the spirit of this world now dictates
to the church what we will or will not do?

Do we sit idly by and allow the spirt of compromise to claim our children - or even our adults who "should know better?"

The bottom line is this:  If we make a mistake (no matter how big or small) we must ADMIT it...REPENT of it...and ACCEPT full responsibility for it.  Then...and only then...can we move forward and receive the process of healing and restoration. 

When I was a child, if you acted up in church or did something that was clearly unacceptable, the church mothers would CORRECT you right on the spot!  Never once did I see my parents get upset with those folks.  In fact, if the church mothers had to correct better believe that I got double discipline when I got home.

My parents had the philosophy that they weren't going to let me "SHAME" them with my bad behavior.  They knew that I needed to accept responsibility for my actions and they would discipline me because they were keeping watch over my soul and PREPARING me for my future!


Today...parents rush to defend their children's behavior and DARE anyone to say anything in the form of correction to them.  That's why we have the mess in this world that we have.  Parents who run to the school and say "don't talk to my baby like that."  Perhaps we need to reinstitute CORPORAL PUNISHMENT and start with the parents. 

We must remember that the church is to RAISE THE STANDARD...not lower it to accomodate our indiscretions.  If we don't STAND UP and hold one another ACCOUNTABLE...then we will sink further and further into the mire of compromise and ABSOLUTE TRUTH will absolutely be a thing of the past.

I raise my hand to testify today that I deserved every spanking I received from my parents and those church mothers.  If I'm really honest...I deserved more spankings for the stuff I got away with that nobody knew about.

We have a accept responsiblity or to run from it. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Are You Known For?

Being raised in a Christian home doesn't guarantee that you will live for Jesus. 

You have a choice...a choice to either live your life 100% devoted to the call of Christ or to live unto yourself. 

Are you living for Jesus with your entire being?  Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." Matthew 22:37

Loving affects Living.  In other words, whatever you love the most is what you'll live for.  Whatever you give your heart to is what will show up in your actions, habits, language and routine.

What are you known for?  Jesus said, "by their fruits you shall know them." Matthew 7:20  The evidence of what we are shows up in our language, actions and lifestyle. 

If I want to know what someone is "about"... all I have to do is listen to their conversation or watch their life choices.  Whatever is IN them...will work its way OUT of them. 

As a "watchmen on the wall," for the congregation He's entrusted me with, I'm doing my best to lead people forward in faith.  At times, part of that responsibility compels me to "call out" unhealthy behavior and dysfunctional mindsets.  It doesn't make one popular - especially with those who may be out of alignment with the cannon of Scripture and seek to justify dysfunction.
We are either living FOR ourselves...or we are living for JESUS. 
People make excuses all the time.  In fact, I've heard so many "juicy" excuses that I'm nearly numb. 
The bottom line of human nature is this: 
  • We seek to do what is easy rather than what is right.
  • We live for the TEMPORAL rather than the ETERNAL.
  • We make excuses for ourselves while condemning others.
Friends...whether we realize it or not, we are saying something even when we're not saying anything.  Our actions speak louder than our words.

What do you want to be known for? 

Believe me, you will be known for something and people will form an opinion of you (right or wrong) by your words and actions.

It is our responsibility to make sure we are representing Christ to our families and the world around us.  If we are CHRISTIANS, we have an obligation to live a CHASTE life unto the Lord.  A life that is full of VICTORY, VIGOR and FUN but is also DISCIPLINED, BALANCED and in pursuit of MATURITY.

If we are airing our "dirty" laundry on social media formats - then we're really revealing our immaturity and emotional dysfunction.  My advice in this area is - LESS IS MORE.  Sharing everything you know and feel in a public format isn't always the best therapy and certainly isn't wisdom.  Sure, you may feel better getting something off your chest but at the same time you may have shot yourself in the foot with others who tire of immature, loose lipped, childish behavior.

Make a decision today to GO UP in your actions, words and lifestyle.  Make a fresh start today.  It's your choice.

What do you want to be known for?

Earning Trust (Part 2)

There are four more characteristics that Isaiah shares with us on the subject of "earning trust."

Each of these characteristics, if mastered, will enable us to survive the fires of crisis in our life. 

If I've learned anything about leadership it's this:  God will take each of us through a purification process through His fire.  That fire will either burn us up or purify us.

Isaiah 33:14-16 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling seizes the godless ones. [They cry] Who among us can dwell with that devouring fire? Who among us can dwell with those everlasting burnings? 15He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises gain from fraud and from oppression, who shakes his hand free from the taking of bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes to avoid looking upon evil. 16[Such a man] will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; water for him will be sure. (amplified)

#1 INTEGRITY "He that walks righteously and speaks uprightly" (see previous blog)

#2 JUSTICE "despises gain from fraud and from oppression"
  • Solomon says "...but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days." (Proverbs 28:16)
  • A leader rejects dishonest gain.
#3 CONVICTIONS "that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes"
  • The leader's values won't allow him to accept bribes.
  • What is a conviction? = A firmly held belief
  • A leader today has to have conviction!
    • Leaders are to love and care for everyone.
    • This however, doesn't mean they disregard their convictions.
    • They respond with grace, but never drift from their convictions.
    • They speak gently, but with focus.
    • With conviction we cling to the course we are to travel.
    • Leaders always act from their principles; empowering others even when it is hard.
    • Leaders of conviction work out of grace.
#4 POSITIVE FOCUS "that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood"
  • The leader refuses to dwell on destructive issues.
    • A positive focus does not mean that you live with your head in the clouds.
    • It doesn't mean you do not recognize the problems.
    • you may have to accept some that you cannot change.
    • You can even have a bad day and vent to the proper channels.
    • In the end, maintaining a positive focus means that you don't dwell on destructive issues.
    • A positive focus will alllow you to see solutions to problems.
#5 PURITY "shutteth his eyes from seeing evil"
  • The leader disciplines his or her mind to remain clean and pure.
  • A true believer watches against all occasions of sin.

The blessing of possessing these characteristics of INTEGRITY, JUSTICE, CONVICTIONS, POSITIVE FOCUS and PURITY is SECURITY!

(v.16) He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
  • God will take you UP!
  • God will DEFEND you!
  • God will FEED you!
  • God will REFRESH you!
Characteristics like these earn the trust of others. When leaders possess them, they feel secure enough to develop others, rather than destroy them. Remember, only secure leaders empower others.

Food For Thought:
  • If a person really knows the Lord, Righteousness is going to be their lifestyle, which will be obvious; in other words, when a person comes to Christ, they are gloriously changed; otherwise, they haven't really come to Christ!