How's The Fishing?

As a child growing up in Mississippi our family spent many of our vacations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We usually stayed a week at a time at the beautiful Buena Vista Motel. The Buena Vista was located right by the Gulf and had a really large pool with an island in the middle! When we were at the motel, and not sleeping, I was in the pool - day or night! Those are some very special memories for me!

One particular year we went fishing at a peculiar place. It was an indoor fishing arena located off the Pop's Ferry Causeway. The big square building was pretty much like a floating dock on the water, except it was completely enclosed and air conditioned! Inside the building there were squares about 10 by 20 ft. in area. These square areas were equipped with metal banisters to keep you from falling in the water! You simply dropped your baited hook over the railings and into the water. As we walked into the fishing arena, I thought, "This will revolutionize all fishing!" Actually I don't remember catching much, but the air was cool and the soft drinks hit the spot! It's just one of those experiences I'll never forget!

It seemed like a novel idea, but as I said, you really didn't catch much. The reason is because to catch good, tasty fish...you must go where they are! You don't sit in one place and hope the fish will come to you. You try your best to find them. In Mark 1:17 Jesus said, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Jesus "...went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil." (See Acts 10:38) Jesus didn't pitch a tent in a centrally located place and say, "Y'all come." He went about, and so did His followers!



Let's understand, not everyone needing Jesus will simply wander into our churches. Neither will they knock on our front doors at home. They're out there. We must go about. How do we do that? At work we're listening to the hearts of our coworkers. We're sensitive to their needs, and as the Holy Spirit leads us, we respond accordingly. We don't do this just at work, we do this everywhere. Why? Because the fish are everywhere!

I'm grateful for the opportunities the Holy Spirit has given me to share Jesus. I'm not pushy, but I do listen carefully. I don't just listen to people, I also listen for the Holy Spirit to prompt me to a response. When I do respond, it's amazing how He is involved! Remember, people are everywhere, not just in church. But the church is also everywhere, not just in a building!

So where will you be today? Work? School? Shopping? On vacation? Go fishing! There is no greater fish-finder than the Holy Spirit. Just go about. Go about listening; not just to folks, but to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to you about those folks! Then simply do what He says.

970111: Overcomer DVD Bible Study Kit Overcomer DVD Bible Study Kit
By Stephen Kendrick & Alex Kendrick

Many people feel they are less than who God says they are. We get our identity from our careers, our political positions, family roles in the family, and other things. This small group study uses clips from the film Overcomer to examine how we determine our identity and how we can find our true identity in Christ.
The Bible study is geared for adult groups to use prior to the movie or just after seeing the movie. The study includes clips from the movie.
The Overcomer Bible Study Kit has five sessions and includes:
  • one Bible Study Book
  • one DVD with a promotional video and five 2-4 minute video sessions
Session Topics:
  1. Who Are You?
  2. You Are Broken
  3. You Are Chosen
  4. You Surrender
  5. You Declare 

Chick-fil-a A Customer Service Icon

I consistently stand amazed at the customer service offered by Chick-fil-a. Is it any wonder the company gets more revenue per restaurant than any other food chain in the U.S., and it's only open 6 days a week! Just this morning I stopped in for a quick breakfast. Aside from hearing "It's my pleasure" every single time I said "Thank You"; as I walked to empty my tray a young lady with a rather large smile came up to me and said, "Let me do that for you." She took my tray and emptied it for me! My reaction naturally was, "Thank you!" Her response, "It's my pleasure. Have a great day!"

Having been in the customer service business for a number of years (retail sales, pastoring, and pitching Jesus out there), it always fires me up when I receive the special treatment! The truth is however, at most any Chick-fil-a restaurant, everyone gets the special treatment! The result is the success of the organization.

It amazes me how some folks get this and some don't. Listen carefully to this: The essence of great customer service is...great service! Everyone loves to be effectively served, if only for a short time. Great service makes people feel special. When people feel special, they come back for more! This is such a very simple concept. If you're like me (and most are), you don't want to go back to a place where you're nothing more than another number; and you seem to ruin someone's day for coming in. Here's another way of putting it. Folks flock back to a great experience, even if they have to pay a bit more. And just as many avoid places where their experience has been mediocre to just plain bad.

Connie and I attend a great church, St. Simons Community Church. It is a rather large church, and it is quite obvious the church is reaching many folks and impacting their lives. The truth is however, the church impacts nearly as many folks outside the church as those who attend weekly services. How's that happening? Through the practice of offering effective Scriptural service to its members and the local community. God blesses this. At the end of my post I want to show you how ALL effective service is Scripturally based.

Many church leaders wonder why their church hardly grows over time and others grow rapidly. The answer is simple. Some understand what Chick-fil-a understands. It is serving people where the rubber meets the road...and impacting their lives. Again, God blesses this.

The greatest example of incredible service was that of Jesus. He IS the greatest servant of all. Jesus laid aside His kingly privileges, He emptied Himself, became a bond-servant first to God, and humbled Himself into humanity, even to the point of dying for you and me on the cross.

Many churches practice the insanity concept: Doing the same thing - over and over - expecting different results. We call it beating a dead horse! There is only one result - death! If you want to impact people, you must learn to meet folks where they are. This means serving and meeting practical needs as well as spiritual needs. Jesus understood this as He spent 3 1/2 years training His disciples how to strike a balance between the two.

I'm reminded of the incident in the Bible in which Jesus fed 5,000 men. There were actually many more as He also included the women and children in this miracle. Jesus was not only concerned with the their spiritual needs, he was equally concerned with their physical needs. This event developed because Jesus withdrew with His disciples after learning of John the Baptist's beheading. They were looking for a bit of seclusion. Such a great number of people followed them however, that a very large crowd formed. Out of compassion Jesus was concerned that the people would faint from not eating for a long period of time. The desire to meet a physical need resulted in an incredible miracle taking place. Approximately 20,000 people were fed from 5 loaves of bread and a couple of fish! There the drive to meet a practical need produced the supernatural intervention of God's hand!

As promised I want to close with a passage of Scripture that illustrates the Scriptural foundation of excellent serving of one another. Out of the natural the supernatural occurs, impacting lives eternally.

(Philippians 2:1-8), "Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  


                    

Godly Mentors - The Cause Of Godly Change In My Life

When I was stationed in Germany back in the early 80's Connie and I were blessed to be fairly close to a Christian Servicemen's Center. The "Center" (as we called it) was located in Augsburg, Germany. It was a place, run by a civilian American Pastor and his wife. They were called center directors.

Jack and Dorothy Pittman, from North Carolina became the Center Directors a few months after our family arrived in Germany. Brother and Sister Pittman were such gifts to our family. They became our spiritual parents and spent a lot of time with us. One thing Brother Pittman used to say to me was that God was grooming me for the ministry. That was interesting terminology. I'd never heard that before. What he meant was, he could see God's call on our lives, and that He (God) was beginning to prepare us for ministry. If it had not been for the Pitman's, and our time spent with them over the period of about 2 1/2 years, we might not have seen or heard the call of God on our lives.

We've learned from being under such Godly people as Brother and Sister Pittman, Bishop Sam and Rheba Drye, and Pastors Larry and Sandra Linkous that Godly leadership is imperative for those who minister at all for Jesus.

During our wonderful training in Germany, through the Pitmans we recognized and received God's call to ministry. We returned to the States in 1983 as I was reasigned to Robins AFB, GA. During our time at Robins we began to attend Holy Spirit Harvest Church in Macon, GA. The Pastors and founders were Pastors Sam and Rheba Drye. We were  eager to become involved in ministry after being lay pastors of a local Servicemen's fellowship in Neu Ulm, Germany for about 2 years.

Connie and I volunteered for anything that was available! The Dryes also took an interest in us and spent a lot of time with us. In 1984, the year we started attending HSHC, I ushered, worked the call-in prayer line, and played as a musician on the worship team. At the end of 1984, during our church Christmas party, Pastor Sam approached me with a proposition. He asked me if I would be interested in becoming the church's business adminstrator when I exited the Air Force in 1985. I was blown away! HSHC was growing rapidly, and soon would need an admistrator who would also be the Associate Pastor to assist Pastors Sam and Rheba in the ministry of the church!

Let me insert here that Connie and I had just been faced with a very tough decision. We loved Germany so much that I had put in a request to return to Germany after I finished my assignment at Robins AFB, GA. One day (before Pastor Sam had approached me) I received orders to return to a different part of Germany, but nonetheless it was Germany. The only catch was... since I would have no time left at the end of my Robins AFB assignment, I would be required to re-up for 4 more years! We fasted and prayed. We both felt God was telling us to refuse Germany. We both agreed that it was God's will for us to take a giant leap of faith and exit the AF in about 1 year. Just days after we made our decision Pastor Sam approached us about the business administrator position! We accepted!

Altogether we mentored under Pastor Sam and Rheba Dry for about 8 1/2 years. During that time I was helped with my education among with many other things. For instance, we oversaw the singles for a year. We oversaw the young married couples for a year. We oversaw the youth ministry for about a year. I was also the Worship Pastor for about 2 years. Quite honestly, no amount of formal education could equal the mentoring, training, and preparation I received in the early years of our ministry.

Connie and I also owe a debt of gratitude to Pastors Larry and Sandra Linkous who took us under their wings when our first attempt at planting a church didn't succeed as we had hoped. The Linkous' were incredible mentors to us in the areas of encouragement and spiritual endurance. They always encouraged us to NOT lose heart in our doing of good! (See Galatians 6:9)

We've made some mistakes along the journey. Some were pretty big! Thanks to folks who never gave up on us, we're still at it today...even through the heartache we may have caused them. Now Connie and I have a heart and desire to mentor others. We've seen the call on others (especially our children) and have made ourselves available as mentors and encouragers.

Finally, if your life has been enhanced by those who have poured a bit of themselves into you, you are what you are because of their unselfishness. Now it's time for you to do the same. Make yourself available. Pour into others. Raise up those who will eagerly change the world for Jesus. Someone is waiting. 

      

Save 70% on select product(s) with promo code 70N63UAS on Amazon.com

Do You Believe In Jesus? No I mean REALLY.

With some of the so-called Christian music artists coming out and saying they are renouncing their faith, or struggling with their belief in Jesus, I had to weigh in on it.

First let me say that I believe some are trying to walk the Christian walk - without truly knowing Jesus. If this is the case, one gets to the point that the desire to live your own way gets so strong to the point, that to satisfy your own selfish whims, you just say you don't believe anymore. I mean if a person wants to commit a sin he or she knows is not permissible as a Christian, it's easy to say, "I just don't believe anymore." The problem is, if that person is in Christian leadership or in an influential Christian entertainment position, you have to step aside or lose your following. But what if they don't step aside? That could be very dangerous for other believers; especially those who are younger in the Lord.

I recently read a blog post by a famous Christian music artist who was saying that Evangelical Christianity is not genuine and does not work for the most part. Here is a short statement from the blog post: "If I don’t believe that Jesus was God incarnate but still hold to his teachings and follow as best as I can the way of life he taught, who are you to say that I can’t call myself a Christian?" (Bold print added by me.) The answer to that questions is, it's not what I say, it's what the Bible says. There is a wave washing in currently that attempts to erode the relevancy of the Bible. This gives a so-called believer an excuse for not standing firmly upon the principles and promises of God's Word.


In response to the question posed by the Christian artist above: The very crux of Christianity is the belief that God was incarnate; that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, and born as a Human. This made Him literally, the Son of God. Because He was "born of the Spirit", He literally had no sin nature. This qualified Him to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. When He was offered up on the cross, He bore the sins of the whole world; past, present, and future. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me." (John 14:6)


Christianity is all about Jesus. That's not my opinion, it happens to be God's. I choose to believe what God's Word says. Anyone can call themselves Christian. But true Christianity is about knowing and following Jesus. Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after me (meaning live like I live), he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." (Matt. 16:24).


I'll admit, there is a lot wrong with "organized religion", and always has been. But I also believe that there is a vicious attack on true Christianity. The spirit of anti-Christ is strong in these last days before the return of Jesus. His ploy is to draw people away from Jesus by delusion. And at the same time, there is a separation happening between those who have called themselves Christians and those who are actually followers or disciples of Jesus Christ.


True Christians are being challenged in these last days to stand on what they believe. Those who are willing to stand will make a tremendous impact simply by the lives they live for Jesus. Those who won't stand, more than likely never believed what they claimed to believe.


The truth is, most of us struggle from time to time. But, if we have a genuine, growing relationship with Jesus, we will mature to the point that we walk by faith through every circumstance. The Bible never said we won't be tested with trials and struggles of various kinds. But it does say we are in a race. The goal of the race is completion. It's not a matter of who crosses the finish line first. It's a matter of finishing!


Everyone has struggled at some point, in their relationship with Jesus. But those are the very points at which we can become stronger in our relationship and faith to believe, simply by applying what we should know of God's Word.


Check your relationship with Him. Are you genuinely born again by the Spirit? I'm not being judgmental. This is something you must be able to rest in. The enemy will always question your salvation experience. That's why we have God's immutable Word to stand on. It's not based on how we may feel tomorrow. It's based on His Word alone.


And finally my Christian friends, it's time to make a stand on whom we believe in; and what we believe in. There has never been a greater need than right now for the true followers of Jesus to stand for Him. Jesus said "If they hate me, they will hate you." But that's not everyone. There are myriads of folks currently waiting for true believers to demonstrate the genuine essence of Jesus' love, no matter what the world and false believers are screaming. They are waiting for you to stand in the midst of this present generation and lead them straight to Jesus. What will you do?



1317BD: Is Jesus the Only Way? - CD


Is Jesus the Only Way? - CD
By Ravi Zacharias

On A Mission

Pray For America

I am deeply grieved over all the shootings in the U.S. What a tragedy. What a waste of human life. How far will it go? How many more will die? Please pray for those who tragically lost loved ones, and pray for those who were wounded. Only by God's Holy Spirit can anyone be supernaturally comforted. And that happens when we pray!

Remember, Holy Spirit moves when God's people pray. God didn't establish prayer for His church as an option. Prayer is part of the essence of His church in the earth. His church is the body of Jesus Christ. If Jesus were here in bodily form, He would be praying and ministering the love of God to each and every person affected.

Jesus said in the last days that lawlessness will increase to the point that most people's love will grow cold. (See Matthew 24:12) I don't believe He was referring to Christians. Yes, we must always guard our hearts and be diligent to watch over it. But I believe Jesus was referring to the world. He said "most" people's love will grow cold due to increasing lawlessness. Unfortunately "most" includes almost everyone.

But never forget. God is bigger than all of the troubles we face as a nation! The answer: A move of God in America. By no means is it time to give in! As a matter of fact, it's time to take a stand for Jesus, in the midst of a crooked and perverse world! How do we stand for Jesus? First, make sure you truly know Him. Are you living for Him? Are you serving Him? Is your relationship with Him advancing? Then, you must learn and know His Word. Are you praying His Word? Are you speaking and confessing His Word over your life in all areas? Your prayers will only be as powerful as the level of God's Word you know and apply to your life. That's why He's given you and me the Word. We must apply it and live it 24 X 7!

Always pray for those affected by these terrible atrocities. And also pray for our nation as a whole. Because what we need is revival in our land. The only thing that can truly change the heart of a person - is God moving on the heart of that person. No amount of legislation, no amount of protesting, politics or demonstrating can do it. Only the Spirit of God. As you are praying, ask God to open the eyes and hearts of other believers to the dire need for His move on hearts. God moves on hearts when revival breaks out. Revival breaks out when enough followers of Jesus commit themselves to fervent, persistent prayer.

There's just one more element to seeing a revival break out in America...YOU. You cannot be passive. I cannot be passive. The atrocities are real, because the sin is real. However God has broken the power of sin through the eternal sacrifice of Jesus over 2000 years ago. Have you had enough? If so, will you pray? Can you sacrifice some time and energy to petition God in behalf of our nation? That's what it will take. Anything less is you surrendering our nation to the enemy. I don't know about you. But I am NOT ready to relinquish America to the powers of evil by being passive. You and I are the ones standing in evil's way. But only if we commit to prevailing prayer.


 

I Notice Things

I happen to be one of those persons who notices things. I'm talking about all sorts of things. Big things. Little things. I just happen to be a noticer; an observer, if you will. I'll notice when someone's hair changes during the same seen in a movie. There would have been no reason for their hair to change because the scene didn't change. The cameras would be on two people carrying on a conversation. As the cameras alternate between the two characters, one of the character's hair changed a bit! (Usually a female.) Apparently there was a break in the production of the scene. When the production resumed, the hair was just a little bit different. I just notice stuff! Sometimes it amazes me.

Every year, in the month of August, I tend to notice that Fall is near. Weird huh? Not because the calendar says so, but for other reasons most people don't catch. Remember, I said I notice things. How do I notice this? There is something about the shadows the sun causes during the month of August. They seem to be longer than say, in May and June. Yes, I know that August is the hottest month of the year here Georgia's Golden Isles, but it's not about the immediate temperature. It's too early for what little folliage that would change in the Fall to change. It's the little things that are changing that give me a bit of excitement that Fall is on the way.

Jesus says we need to notice some really crucial things. And for you and me they are pretty noticable. "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near." (Mark 13:28) Jesus also said, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?" (Matthew 16:2-3)

The signs of the times; definitely something we really, really need to notice and observe. Why would Jesus say it's very important to notice the signs of our time? Because the signs of our time alert us to the fact that Jesus is returning soon. "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (Matthew 24:32-33)

The key to observing of the signs of our time is learning and knowing the Word of God. It is recognizing "all these things" that Jesus said would alert us to His imminent return. It's true, according to Jesus no one (but the Father) knows the day or the hour of His return. However, we should all be observant enough (according to current signs) to know that His return is near.

If we don't know the exact day or hour of His return, we must always be ready for His coming. Today could be the day. Somewhere within the next 60 minutes could be the hour. Are you ready? Many Christians don't believe His return is near. But my friend, know that it has been over 2,000 years since His departure. And most importantly, know that the signs of the times are loudly proclaiming that Jesus' return is very near.

One final passage. "For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes." (Matthew 24:44-46) If you are a believer, you have the responsibility of looking for His return. If it were not very, very important, Jesus would not have said so.