Sunday, July 19, 2009

surprised by the Holy Spirit!

Today was a day like no other. For the first time in my 15 years of ministry, I preached something that was totally unplanned. I had my sermon all written for today...planned out w/notes, illustrations, etc. I was planning on preaching from Romans 6. Our call to worship usually comes from Psalms, and as I turned to Psalm 51 and started reading it, something rose up within me, and before I knew it, words were coming out of my mouth! David's whole experience with Bathsheba, and then Nathan the prophet came to mind as I was reading this Psalm aloud before the congregation. Ended up preaching for 40 minutes about how sin creeps up on us slowly, starting out with a small temptation, like flirting with a married woman, which turns into lust, then an affair...or the love of money, which turns to greed, then to cheating and stealing...and even murder. At the end of the sermon, one man said, "That's the best sermon I've ever heard you preach in the three years I've been here."

Thank you Holy Spirit for leading me to hear Your voice and for the courage to put my planned sermon away and preach what You have given me, and for the voice to preach the Word for your glory, O Lord!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How can you help us help our neighbors and reach them for God's kingdom?

1. New informational pieces for CORE Church of Troy and our Pedestrian Outreach Center are ready to distribute. want to learn more? send me your e-mail address and I'll forward one to you. Make as many copies as you'd like and help us by sharing them with your church, family, friends, etc. If you'd prefer regular mail, send me your mailing address and I will forward this to you

2. We are starting a new fundraising campaign for Pedestrian Outreach Center and CORE Church expansion as we multiply in our city and beyond. Therefore, I am asking a God-sized favor of all my Facebook and Twitter friends. Please consider sowing financially into this frontline ministry; just $10 or $20 is all we are asking you to consider. If God puts it on your heart to sow even deeper, He will bless you for doing so. Please pray and consider. You can make checks payable to CORE Church of Troy and write POC in the memo, and be assured that every penny will be used to expand God's kingdom in Troy, NY and beyond.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Great Commissioner, and on behalf of the CORE Church of Troy and Pedestrian Outreach Center, I thank you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Feeling like a fool

I've been feeling like a fool lately, like one person who posted on another blog recently about planting a church with no money, no people, nothing except vision from God and faith the size of a mustard seed.

For three and a half years we've been camped out in an impoverished inner-city community in upstate NY, trusting that God has sent us, yet feeling like a failure at times; most months barely scraping by financially, reaching out to the homeless and "the least of these." All the while, others in ministry, who started when we did (or after) seem to be miles ahead of us. I sometimes wonder if we're really supposed to be here. Then God sends me little signs; like a single mother w/3 kids, being abused by her boyfriend and put our of her apartment by city code enforcement, or a rowdy bunch of neighborhood kids who need nothing more than someone who is willing to sacrifice and hour or two and play ball with them.

Why would a grown man with a seminary degree give up everything to do such a thing? Sounds foolish to me and to most folks who look at it from a human perspective. But then, most times when people step out in faith and trust and obey God, they end up looking like fools; like a boy named David facing a giant with nothing more than a slingshot and a few stones, or a man named Abraham, leaving his home for a place he had never been to or seen, yet when God told him to go, he trusted and obeyed. Then there were twelve ordinary men. A few of them were fishermen. One was a government employee. Yet, they all left everything to follow a man who said and did things that seemed to be foolish, even to the religious crowd.

Truth be told, stepping out in faith requires taking risks; many times big risks, often at the expense of looking foolish. Why is it, when an entrepeneur steps out in faith, giving up everything to start a small business, the world applauds, yet when a man (or woman) of God steps out in faith, in obedience to a higher call, the world scoffs and calls that person a fool?

The Bible says,

27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). that no one may boast before Him (God)

It's not about me. It's always about Him; the One who calls and sends men to do His will. When all is said and done, He is the one who gets the glory; especially when the world calls me a fool for following Him. Only a fool would follow a God he cannot see, or a vision that has not yet come to pass, for a purpose that he cannot fully grasp. But the outcome and rewards far outweigh any persecution he may receive from the world; perhaps even from the religious crowd, or even within his own family.

A better question tha often comes to mind; Why would God choose a fool like me to do anything for Him? I am humbled and amazed!

So, I'm okay with feeling and looking like a fool from time to time; perhaps more than I realize.