Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday

Last night we read and discussed a passage of scripture found in John 13 (a portion of this passage will be shared at the conclusion of this post). We entered into a discussion concerning the "new commandment" that Christ shared with His disciples as they celebrated the "Last Supper" with each other. The Bible is full of  examples of God revealing His love to His creation. Christ is preparing to finish His earthly assignment but He chooses to use these final moments to emphasize the need to "love one another." Isn't that core value of Christ needed to be lived out (practiced) in our modern day and time? We must rise to the occasion and accept this challenge to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He set the example and now we are to set the example to the following generations. 

I read some words this morning that caught my attention. I would like to share a few of them with you. On this day, Christians around the world prepare for Easter by recalling the Last Supper between Jesus and his disciples. Traditionally this day is referred to as Maundy Thursday, which at first glance may appear to be a misspelling! However, this seemingly odd phrase actually gives us a window into the very heart of Easter and the lives we live as Christian disciples.

Maundy is an English word derived from the Latin word for commandment. As such, this is the day we as Christians remember the new commandment that Jesus gave to his apostles: “as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In this single sentence, Jesus gives his followers a model of love and the expected way for them to love one another and the world around them.

In many ways, Holy Week is the explanation of Jesus’ phrase “as I have loved you.” When we ask how Jesus loves us, we need not look any further than the events of this week. On the cross of Christ we see the love of God on full display! When we look to the cross we see the Son of God who offers himself for the life of the world (Jn. 6:51). We see a picture of humility, where the Son of God “made himself nothing” and was “obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7-8). Yet we also see the Son of God exulted to the highest place, triumphant over sin and death, ruling and reigning on high and beckoning us to join him in this radical and beautiful journey of love.

John 13:33-35,  Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (NKJV) (Emphasis added)

Will we choose to follow the commands of Christ or will we chose to ignore the commands of Christ?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Holy Week

I would like to share an email that I sent to the New River Worship Center community of believers. I truly believe that it is very important for ALL BELIEVERS to turn our attention to God and seek Him with all of our heart. These are perilous (dangerous) times in which we are living. We need to focus our attention on Christ and remind ourselves of the promises that are found in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!!

Good morning from the Pastor's Desk! 

I trust that your week is going well. Spring is here and the pollen count is high but we have the promise of a Risen Savior being present and active in our daily lives. I have seen the presence of God up close and in a personal way throughout this week. The goodness and greatness of God is revealed on a daily basis but there are times that we have to make an effort to look for and recognize His presence. I am thankful that I have "learned to trust in Jesus and that I have learned to take Him at His word..." Oh, what a glorious day that will be when we are able to see Him face to face and offer our praise and adoration to Him. We are called to remain faithful to our race of life until that day arrives. I desire to continue being faithful to God because He has certainly been faithful to me.

The week between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday is referred to as "Holy Week." The last week of the life of Jesus Christ on planet earth is full of many events that have great significance to each of us. Jesus enters Jerusalem to a wonderful celebration. He teaches in the synagogue and encounters great resistance from the "religious" leaders of that day. He faces a series of "trials" that prove to be a farce to say the least. He is betrayed, beaten and humiliated by those He came to redeem and rescue. The end of this process leads Him to Golgotha where he dies on the cross for the sins of humanity. But you can't stop reading the story at that point. You must push on and find His body placed in a borrowed tomb and prepared to be interned for His burial. BUT "Up from the grave he arose, triumphant over His foes..." 

Sunday will be a special day of celebration because the "TOMB IS EMPTY." The empty tomb promises each of us the hope for eternal life. The empty tomb reminds us that we can draw near to God in a personal relationship through the blood of Christ that was shed on that old rugged cross. The empty tomb reminds us that those who die in Christ will also be resurrected at some point in the future. The empty tomb reminds each of us that we can be freed and delivered from the bondage of sin. Oh, we have so much to celebrate when we look back at the story of Jesus Christ that is revealed in the Bible. EACH OF US NEEDS TO TAKE TIME OUT OF OUR BUSY SCHEDULES TO OFFER OUR PERSONAL PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING TO GOD. 

John 11:25, "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." (NKJV) (Emphasis added)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


"John 4:23, "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him." (NKJV) 

Those of you who  read the blog yesterday may be tired of reading this passage of scripture but these words are still resonating in my heart today. God who is surrounded by worshiping angels desires for YOU AND ME TO OFFER OUR WORSHIP TO HIM!! Isn't that simply amazing? But it goes even further than that; He not only desires for me to worship Him but He is looking for me to worship. He is seeking for each of us to worship Him. I want to be faithful in offering my worship to Him.

Sunday is a special day in which we gather to offer what we refer to as our "corporate" praise and worship. But in reality it is just a combed effort of various individuals whose hearts are turned toward God in sincere and heartfelt thanksgiving and adoration. Oh, don't you want to be one of those individuals that God notices when we offer our worship to Him? We are desiring to be more than "attention seekers." But we are desiring to to be sincere worshipers who truly love God and who are truly thankful for all that God has done in our lives!!

Will God notice you worshiping Him today? Will God notice you worshiping Him tomorrow? Will God notice you worshiping Him Sunday?

The choice is ours to make. No one can take your place around the throne of praise!!

Will you take the time to worship today? 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Reflections on Lent

The season of Lent continues to encourage me to take a look at my personal relationship with Christ. Those words could be offensive to some "seasoned" Christians who believe that they have reached the apex of their spiritual growth. But I am one of those believers that simply believes that I have room to draw closer to God and I am determined to respond to that call to the best of my ability. Today I was reminded about my attitude and action of worship toward God. Let me share some thoughts that I wrote after I concluded my time of prayer this morning.

I trust that your week is going well and that you have found yourself drawing closer to Christ! During prayer this morning I was reminded that my desire to draw closer to Christ is the greatest challenge and need that I face. I felt that I needed to also share that with you as a source of encouragement and challenge. Music and worship has always played an important role in the modern church. The way we worship may have changed through the years of man's existence nevertheless WORSHIP has always been important to God. Jesus even made this declaration, "John 4:23, "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him." (NKJV)  I believe that we are living in the "now is" when "the Father is seeking such to worship Him." I want to make sure that we (I) continue answering that call from God in the affirmative. 

Our efforts to worship as well as lead others in worship must remain about HIM AND NOT ABOUT US!! I encourage each of us to remain committed to that purpose and that call. God will bless those efforts and the lives of people will be strengthened, encouraged and comforted through our efforts as we remind this generation that Christ desires to be a PLACE OF REFUGE!!!

I am praying that each of us will experience a "spiritual growth spurt!!"

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lent Observations

I trust your spiritual journey from Ash Wednesday to Resurrection Sunday has been an encouragement to you but I also pray that it has been one that has caused each of us to stop and think about our relationship with Christ. I certainly believe that each of us needs to strengthen our relationship with Christ in lieu of the many events that are taking place in our world both personally as well as collectively. I sense that call from Heaven in my own personal life as well as feeling led to issue that call to you today. I have spoken with several people this week who feel very overwhelmed by that which is taking place in their lives at this particular moment. BUT we must remember that there is a "place of refuge" (Psalm 91) to which we can run.

This passage in Luke 19:10 was placed in my spirit this morning. Let me remind you of what the Word of God says, "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." The words "has come" grabbed my attention this morning. Christ came from Heaven with a divine mandate. Christ came to make contact with and reach out to sinful humanity. Christ came to reveal the Love of the Heavenly Father. Christ came to redeem us so that we could live out the principles that would be demonstrated in our lives through the development of our relationship with Him. Lent can serve the purpose of reminding us of Christ and the examples that He set before us on His journey on planet Earth. But Lent also reminds us of the need to put into practice those principles that Christ demonstrated for us.

I would like to remind you of two of the principles that God spoke to me about.

  1) Jesus was a man of prayer. He did more than just talk about prayer. He prayed!! We can read throughout the pages of the Gospel where Christ would separate Himself from His disciples and go pray. The disciples even asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus was known for His miracles but the Bible also reveals that He was a practitioner of Prayer. Prayer is one of the core activities of the Christian life; the Bible commands us to pray continually and assures us of the effectiveness of our prayers. Jesus himself took time on the night of his arrest to call out to his Father in prayer. Are we following in the example that was set by Christ? Would you and I be considered a person of prayer? 

  2) Jesus was a servant. Once again let us got to the Bible and see what it reveals about Christ. Matthew 20:28, "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life a ransom for many." The desire to serve has always been at the core of Christian ethics. The Bible reveals many different scenarios in which Christ served but it also reveal those moments in which His followers/disciples also served. Lent has reminded me of the need to serve but it has also reminded me of the need to serve for the right reason. I must not serve just to gain the accolades and approval of man. I must serve for the approval and acceptance of the "audience of One" (Our Father which art in Heaven...). There are blessings in serving others. I encourage you to allow the season of Lent to open your eyes to areas in your life where you can serve. It may even start in your own home as you look at your family through "fresh and open" eyes of care, concern and compassion!!

Enjoy your pursuit of God and enjoy your daily walk with Christ!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Seasons of Life

Does anyone sense a hint of Spring in the air? The past couple of days have reminded us that the seasons do actually change (at least here in KY). One season will eventually disappear for a period of time and another one will reappear. But, do you realize that it is the same Sun in the cold days of winter as it is in the hot days of Summer? The Sun has not changed but the seasons have changed.

Each of us go through various "spiritual seasons" of our lives. We walk through the days of blessing but we also walk through the days of trials and challenges. But we must also remember that the same "Son" is with us through the various spiritual seasons of our lives. The seasons may change but the "Son" never changes.

Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (NKJV)
We can rest assured that Jesus, the Son of God is with us everyday regardless of the "spiritual seasons" of life that we may be facing. I believe that God will use worship services to remind each of us of that wonderful truth. It is a privilege to offer our personal praise and worship to God. Begin making your plans today to offer God your personal offering of praise and worship. No one can take your place and God will be listening for your voice!!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Praising God, Part 2

Psalm 68;3-4, "But let the godly rejoice.
    Let them be glad in God’s presence.
    Let them be filled with joy.
Sing praises to God and to his name!
    Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.
His name is the Lord
    rejoice in his presence!" (NLT)

I truly believe that it is time for the people of God to lift our voices in praise on a consistent basis. I realize that each of us are facing circumstances/situations that could cause us to postpone our praise until the "storm" has passed by. But each day offers us opportunities to praise and magnify God. 

I just received a text from a lady that went through a battle with cancer and the Doctor was afraid that it was reappearing. She just received some awesome news from the Doctor so I think that I will shout "Praise the Lord." Did I just hear someone join in with a HALLELUJAH? Christians need to rejoice and not allow the darkness and gloom of this world invade our minds and cause us to stop lifting our voices in praise. Can I get an AMEN from the church?

I read a story a few weeks ago and it was a blessing to me. I would like to share it with you now. 

Margaret Sangster Phippen wrote that in the mid-1950’s her father, British minister W.E. Sangster, began to notice some uneasiness in his throat and a dragging in his leg. When he went to the doctor, he found that he had an incurable disease that caused progressive muscular atrophy. His muscles would gradually waste away, his voice would fail, and his throat would soon become unable to swallow. 

Sangster threw himself into his work in the British home missions, figuring he could still write and he would have even more time for prayer. "Let me stay in the struggle Lord," he pleaded. "I don’t mind if I can no longer be a general, but give me just a regiment to lead." He wrote articles and books, and helped organize prayer cells throughout England. "I’m only in the kindergarten of suffering," he told people who pitied him. Gradually Sangsters’s legs became useless. His voice went completely. But he could still hold a pen, even though he shook very much.

On Easter morning, just a few weeks before he died, he wrote a letter to his daughter. In it, he said, "It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice to shout, "He is risen!" -- but it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout."

Have a Praise Filled Day!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Praising God

Acts 16:24-25, So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.   25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.” (NLT)
My Dad is facing some health issues at this time in his life. His life has taught me many things through his years of service as a father, friend, mentor, life example as well as a Minister. But he is still teaching me during this challenging time in his life. Each time that we finish our conversations whether in person or on the phone he will share these words; "Son, keep praising God with me." Those words were once again spoken to me earlier this morning when I concluded a conversation with him. I sincerely feel that the Spirit was reminding me that our praise to God is always appropriate regardless of the situation that we are facing. 

I would also like urge you to consider that proposition in your life today. You may be facing a trial or enjoying a blessing. That really does not matter when it comes to praising God. No time is better than the present time. Look back and reflect on the presence of God. He was present in the trials as much as He was present in the blessings. He is with us today and even during our darkest moments we can look to God and realize that His love for us is still very active today. Let us sing our praises to God as we realize that we are not alone on this journey. The Lord is near to those whose hearts are turned toward Him.

Be encouraged and strengthened today as you offer your praise to God!!!