Friday, February 4, 2011

Being Aware...

I have named the year of 2011 "The Year of Being Aware."  The word aware means having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge.

I am praying to be more aware of what God is doing all around me.  That includes what He is doing in my family, my church, and wherever I'm at.  You see, I can be a very impatient person.  I want to know the end of the movie, before I watch it.  I want to know the final score before I watch the game.  This is a problem, because I miss out on all of the things God is doing around me and I do not like that.  I can get so focused on the ending of a situation that I miss out on the lessons that can be learned and the words the Lord speaks through out.

I was recently at a retreat with the MCM Network of pastors in Pittsburgh and a good friend of mine, Brian Bolt spoke on being aware.  He said how we can be unaware of what God is going because we are so focused on doing what we think we should be doing.  That hit me because that is me.

Now don't take me wrong, I have been aware of what God is doing, but I also know that it is an area I need the Holy Spirit to grow me in.  God is doing so many wonderful things in my family, my church, and all around me and I want to be aware of all of them.

May God grow me in being aware and may this be a powerful year in the Spirit.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Myths that Make Us Hypocrites

I just read this post from Pastor Jeff Leake from Allison Park.  I thought it was something that all Christians need to read and check themselves on so I reposted it here.  You can check out his blog here.

Myths That Make Us Hypocrites

I was reminded today of a message that I gave last summer about three common myths in the church world. Believing this false ideas has a way of making us into 'actors' or 'hypocrites' (that's actually what the Greek word meant in Jesus' day - one who plays a part on stage). What are those myths?

#1 - HOLY PLACE - In the Old Testament, there was a place designated as THE place of worship. It was the tabernacle or temple grounds. In the New Testament, the place of God's presence has changed. 1 Corinthians 3 & 6 declares that 'we are the temple of the Holy Spirit' and that God's presence rests on the hearts of every believer in Jesus.

People who believe that a church sanctuary is the 'holy place' living in a certain duplicity. When in the 'holy place' certain words, attitudes, or practices are off limits because they lack a certain spirituality. Outside of the 'holy place' anything goes.

Truth is - the Holy Spirit is with you all of the time. We should act in a way that recognizes His presence every moment of every day - being careful not to grieve his heart.

#2 - HOLY THING - You can see the falsity of this idea in the book of Exodus where Aaron makes a golden calf to represent the God who delivered them from Egypt. This is a superstitious idea where one associates a special power with a religious icon or artifact. We think if somehow we touch, hold, or are near a special religious thing - that our prayers gain a special power.

Prayer, however, functions in the context of relationship. So if you are not living in vital relationship with God, your prayers will be hindered no matter what icon you hold in your hand. But if you are confident that you are a child of God and are living connected to Him - you need no artifact to bring you special spiritual 'luck'. The promises of God are all that we need. Jesus said, 'those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth'.

#3 - HOLY MAN - This final idea elevates clergy or the 'anointed man/woman' to a other-worldly place of connection with heaven. When we believe this myth we think that we need this 'holy man' to pray for us in order for God to move. But the New Testament teaches that any answer we receive, we receive through Christ. We all have access to the Father because of the cross.

Each of us has the right to pray and believe for breakthrough answers. Yes, agreement in prayer is powerful. Yes, there are some people who have experience in prayer and pray with authority and anointing. Each of us, however, has the capacity to become that man or woman of God. We should seek that with all we are.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Let the Little Children Come to Me...

I find it so hard to blog everyday.  In fact, I find it hard to blog once a week.  But here goes me blogging about what's on my mind this second week in August.

Yesterday, I was preaching on the Armor of God.  At the end of my message I always give opportunity for people to embrace the cross of Christ, as I close in prayer.  There was a grandma there who had brought her grandchild with her.  (I believe she is 4 years old.)  The grandchild did not want to go to Children's Church so she stayed with her grandma.  As I gave the call to know Jesus, the grandchild's hand shot up to my surprise.  She was looking right at me with her hand raised.  I was caught off guard and not sure what to do or if she understood but asked the grandma if she could bring her up front.  I didn't want to scare her or make her nervous so I asked her if I could pray for her.  She said, "Yes."  I asked her if I could lay my hand on her shoulder and she said, "Yes," again.  So I prayed God's blessings upon her as she took this step.  I encouraged her grandma to talk with her grandchild and help her understand what it means to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  I thought it would be better for her to be able to talk to someone she knows and ask any questions she may have.

Grandma reported to me today that her grandchild was so excited after church.  She went and told everyone in her family that she had blessings prayed on her at church.  Most of which do not know go to church.  This little girl and her excitement over having blessings prayed on her at church could be the key to her whole family coming to know Christ.  Pray and believe with me.  I find this such an awesome testimony on this Monday that has found me dragging a bit because of a sickness that I cannot shake.  I'm so blessed to pastor the New Life Center at such a time as this.  God is doing great things in young and old alike.  So pumped for what God is doing and going to do.

Also, check out our Back 2 School Blast at  It's an event that will be held in Ford City Park August 28.  Children from Kindergarten through 6th grade are eligible for free school supplies but they must be registered by visiting the site above.  Check it out.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Your Heart, Part 3...

Sometimes, as Christians, we can develop a resentful heart.  How?  When you are in ministry, whether pastoring or teaching or helping etc., you can get hurt.  People do not always respond the way you think they will when it comes to teaching and/or preaching.  This can lead to resentment.

As ministry continues, you can begin to look at that person, and others, and not see them the way Jesus sees them.  Vision can become clouded over with the painful thoughts of what they said and/or did to you.  That is why it is important to practice forgiveness.  It's important to lay the situation at the foot of the cross.  God will help you overcome what others do and say.  Our example is Jesus.  He looked past the fact that people had just crucified Him and asked God to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing.

Now I'm not saying that you go around telling people they just didn't know what they were doing when they said or did whatever they said or did to you, that can be very arrogant.  What I am saying is learn to let things go.  Recognize the fact that you have been forgiven and forgive others.  Resentment can develop very quickly.  So take steps now to recognize that hurts will come and know how you will respond to them, by placing them at the foot of the cross.  Prepare yourself now so that you are ready to defeat resentment when it comes your way.  It's easier said than done, but the truth is the truth, it must be done.  And it can be with Jesus' help.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Your Heart, Part 2...

We must also be careful of the Proud Heart.  Pride can hinder our intimacy with God.

Pride can also lead to self-reliance.  I notice it in myself.  Maybe you've heard people talk about how others can't do things the way that they can?  I admit that I've done it.  Why?  Pride.  Instead of giving others a chance to grow in ministry, I take that opportunity because I am so focused on me and what I can do and how I can do it.  Shame on me.  Especially, when I know that there are people out there that can do things 100's of times better than me.  That is not putting myself down, it is knowing the truth and we all know that knowing the truth will set us free.

People who minister can be bound by self-reliance so much that it can lead to burn out.  We can become full time workers at keeping our reputations instead of letting God do His thing that we burn ourselves out and quit our ministry or leave the church altogether.  Why burn out when the answers are sitting all around you... other people.  Don't worry about your reputation of always being on top of things or having things altogether.  Those talents of getting things done are God given for us to use for His glory, not to be abused by thinking we have some kind of super power that we can't let others be a part.

The Proud Heart must be repented of and humbling ourselves must become our daily routine.  Humbling ourselves starts with worshipping God and declaring that without Him we are nothing.  He is our source of strength.  All the glory and honor and power belong to Him.

Lord, forgive me of my proud heart.  Help me realize everyday that it's all about what You do through me, not what I can do.  I gladly lay pride down so that I don't burn myself out trying to do what I cannot do.  I don't want to try and keep up an appearance for the sake of my ego.  I confess and repent and accept Your forgiveness.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Your Heart...

I was recently asked to help mentor someone through their internship class through Global University. What a privilege it is to help another person pursue the calling God has placed on them. I have taken this privilege as a serious responsibility. I believe this person has a great call and I know that Satan will do whatever he can to try and steal, kill, and destroy this calling.
In this class, I read through the same material that the person does, only my reading is abbreviated. The section that we are on now is "Turning from the Wrong Heart." What a powerful section. It has been hitting me hard and bringing me back to the basics of ministry, loving Jesus with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
The first heart mentioned in this section is the doubting heart. It is so easy to doubt in ministry. Especially, when people begin to question how you are doing things. And that happens, far too often. But it mustn't dictate the calling and direction that God is leading you. We must remember this. We are put in place to please God, not man.
Sometimes in our doubt we will begin to try and do things on our own, like Jesus is not moving fast enough. Picture Saul when Samuel didn't show up. He got impatient and offered the sacrifices, which was disobedience to God's command. He lost the kingdom. Lord, forgive me for the times I've gotten impatient. The times I doubted whether you were moving because my expectations were not met or someone else's expectations were not met. May the only expectations that count be Yours. May this lead to patience, knowing that God is truly in control. Amen.
As people question, may the calling of God become greater. People will not follow someone who doubts. So be strong and confident in what God has called you to do. We must know who we are in Christ.
"We must conquer our self-reliance, insecurity, fear, and any other reason that turns us from the action God has laid before us. In the life of ministry, people will seldom surpass their leader when it comes to acting on their faith." - pg. 15 Beginning Ministerial Internship - mentor manual

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monumental Event...

I have to say that in my short few years as a senior pastor our Easter Egg Hunt this past Saturday, March 27, was the best one day outreach that we have ever done. We, as a church, have done Easter Egg Hunts before here at the church. We would show a movie, eat some pizza, and find eggs spread throughout the church. This only ever attracted around 50 kids plus some parents. Not to bad but you are hoping for a lot more.
Well, this past Saturday, under the leadership of one our children's ministries leader, Tara Garris, we moved the event outside to Ford City Park. We had food, games, prizes, and of course, the egg hunt. We had advertised in the local paper, sent out postcards, and hung up posters. This lead to the greatest turnout ever. There were 180 kids ages 1-11 that showed up and probably close to 300 counting parents that accompanied the kids. Praise the Lord. At the end, we shared cardboard testimonies. We wrote on cardboard how God has changed our life. It went really well.
Our goal for this year has been to become better at reaching out to families. We want to give families a place to come and hang out and have fun. But most importantly, we want to see families come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. What a way to start.
I'm looking forward to other great outreaches that we do this year. Thanks to Tara Garris and all of the others who made this possible. The New Life Center Church truly came together to make this a success. Thank you all! Let's do it again for the glory of God!