Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Fern and the Bamboo

Today, I stumbled upon a short story I received during one of the most challenging times of my ministry. I'm not sure who's responsible for writing this piece, but, it encouraged me anew. The last few weeks have been rather difficult due to some church folks propensity to hold on to things that have no saving consequence. Still, I'm determined to work while waiting on God to fulfill His perfect will. Let me share it with you and see if you find use for it.

One day I decided to quit..... I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality..... I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.
"God", I said. "Can you give me one good reason not to quit?" His answer surprised me.... "Look around", He said " Do you see the fern and the bamboo?" "Yes", I replied. "When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. It's brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo". He said. " In the third year, there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. In the fourth year, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. He said " Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant. But just six months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. "I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle." He said to me. "Did you know, my child, that all this time you had been struggling, you have actually been growing roots. I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you."Don't compare yourself to others." He said. "The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern, yet, they both made the forest beautiful." "Your time will come," God said to me. "You will rise high!" " How high shall I rise?" I asked. "How high will the bamboo rise?" He asked in return. "As high as it can?" I questioned. "Yes ." He said, "Give me glory by rising as high as you can."

Allow me to encourage anyone whose patience is growing thin because process is taking too long, trust God's providence, be patient, He will see you through.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Doctrine of Total Depravity

Currently, we are studying Paul's letter to the church at Rome during our midweek Bible Study, which feature both a noon and night session each week. The church has and is being revived, refreshed and renewed, as we appreciate God's unmerited favor towards us regardless of ethnic, religious or social standing.

Our lesson today finds us in Romans 3, where Paul has already emphatically and eloquently presented God's prior indictment against all mankind, not to exclude Heathens 1:18-32; Hypocrites 2:1-16; or Hebrews 2:17-3:8. He concludes that all are under sin and our in need of saving. There is none righteous, no, not one; no one understands, seek for God and all have turned aside; 3:10-12a.

In my prayerful preparation to teach this lesson, I was reading James Montgomery Boice's treatment of this passage and it blessed me immeasurably. He says:

"The doctrine of total depravity is hard for the human race to accept, of course, for one of the results of our being sinners is that we tend to treat sin lightly. Most people are willing to admit that they are not perfect. It takes an extraordinary supply of arrogance for any mere human being to pretend that he or she has no flaws. Generally we do not do that. But this is far different from admitting that we are utterly depraved so far as our having any natural ability to please God is concerned. We are willing to admit that we are not perfect, but not that we are not righteous. We are willing to admit that there are things not known to us, but not that we are devoid of all spiritual understanding. We are willing to admit that we wander off the true path at times, but not that we are not even on the right path. Instead of admitting that we are running away from God, we pretend that we are seeking Him." James Montgomery Boice, Romans ; page 289

I could not have said it better. Thank God for His amazing grace. Keep us in your prayers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday With Mother

My mother is in town and she will be here for the remainder of the week. This gives us opportunity to spend quality time together, something ,I deeply cherish. My wife is out of town so she offered to come spend time with my nine year old (Jared) and I.
What a time we had today! We bowled a couple of games. You should have seen us amateurs stinking up the joint but, we had fun. It wasn't long before our stomachs started to growl when my son Jared suggested we go for pizza.
I'm so glad I took the time to live a little because sometimes we pastors get lost in our ministries at the expense of our families. The demands of ministry overwhelms us so that we become strangers in our very own home.
Well after our little excursion we headed to the grocery story because there was a famine at home and you just cannot live off carry-out alone.
As I conclude these thoughts let me express my gratitude to Pastor Mann my new found friend and brother for insisted upon this experience of blogging. Pray that I continue. Blessings!!!!

The Sunday Stretch

Sunday was an extremely busy day for our church family. In addition to the two services we normally have (8 & 11 am), we were blessed to worship with Pastor Seion C. Roberts, Sr. & The New Hope Baptist Church of Gary, In. at 5pm(central time)
That afternoon in celebration of their Ushers, Greeters, and Nurses Anniversary, we were able to share a message entitled " Knowing Your Place In The Body of Christ" taken from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians chapter 12. Both congregations came away with a greater determination to serve Jesus better. Pastor Roberts shared with me at the conclusion of the service his heartfelt appreciation for the message and the confirmation it brought. He is a young pastor serving the congregation of his youth and is getting stronger by the day.
I praise God for his ministry and he is doing a phenomenal job.