Monday, March 31, 2008

My Annual Trip to Sin City

Once again I head to Las Vegas on business. Once a year my business requires that I go to Las Vegas to exhibit and find new customers. It is always good for business, yet a glimpse of what it must have been like to have been in Sodom. I remember from last year seeing billboards, traveling signs and giant high definition movies depicting lust on the faces of major casinos. I remember free newspaper machines with porn on seemingly every corner. I remember illegals passing out passes to sex shops and venues that elevate everything associated with sin as an attraction. Yep, going to Las Vegas.

In what free time I have I hope to find people who are feeling equally like fish out of water. They're there...I know. Please don't get me wrong, as I'm not ignorant to the ways of the world. Not at all. It's just that the underbelly sticks out so very obviously there that it always brings me down. I'll eat very good food, and see an uplifting show. Around and between these things, I'll be exposed to things I'd rather not. I'll probably have a good time even while being around the filth. I can say this: There's nothing that I'll want to do in Vegas that I'll want to stay in Vegas. I want to bring back good sales leads and good memories of the good we find there. Forget the rest.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Preacher vs Minister

I get caught up in the differences between being a minister (to a congregation) and a preacher. While I struggle, although mostly victoriously, with being a preacher...I struggle more with being a minister. To be that person who comes to the side of families in times of trouble...well...that isn't what I signed on for. But it comes with the territory.

I see the need to share the scripture for a "person of God" to make things more bearable. There is a need in a difficult situation and I hope to help make it easier to bear. That's ministry...and something I've not dealt with. I think that is a "pastoral" problem. So, I'll deal with it and hope that God provides a way. While I've not yet confronted such a situation in the early days of my charge, I know it will come. Is there some manual for this stuff? Maybe the Book of Worship for Methodists? Maybe the school of hard knocks. Don't know.

I share these thoughts because I'm a few months away from being appointed to a church with about 100 on the roles...with about 75% attending regularly. I worry, and yet I anxiously await the opportunity. While I'm not seeking advice...I'm merely venting about the prospects of facing matters of faith for which I'm not prepared. I know...God will make a way.

Putting things in perspective, preaching connects one with a congregation. Hopefully that will lead to a ministering perspective that I may not perceive me being capable of providing. Yet, it may.

Thoughts, ponderings, reflections from a lay person appointed to be a "MINISTER" to people of Christ. I pray that I'm adequately equipped to serve in situations where called to serve. Nonetheless....DUH...I'm a preacher...never before a minister.

But hold on a minute. This blog is about healing. I must admit that I'm a minister in this regard, but only to those who seek this specific type of ministry. Is it possible to connect the healing ministry with the world of general ministry? Notions are popping around in my mind that the answer is yes. So there may be something to draw upon. Time will tell.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ever Been in a Tight?

It's a saying we use to say...ever been caught unprepared...or not ready for what you were responsible to do? I ask again...ever been caught in a tight? Today, I was.

I had been behind all week in my real job...and had to deliver a sermon and conduct worship at a new assignment. At 4am this morning I was up trying to cover all the bases. No sermon to speak of ready for well planned order of worship....just plain behind. I thought about giving $39.95 for a subscription to but wouldn't succumb to that. So I sucked it in and studied, and studied, and left for church with only a hope and a prayer. Funny how God works! The sermon was "spot on" as my Euro-friends would put it. God works in wonderfully mysterious ways. But wait....there was the Sunday night service! Again...insufficient preparation...only prayer...but it too was a success.

I humble myself before Our Lord. Isn't it awesome when the Holy Spirit convicts us and takes over our meager human preparations (or lack thereof) to empower us to deliver what our sovereign Lord wants to happen? I stand on the sidelines just in awe.

So I offer this testimony up to anyone who may be reading. Sometimes, Our Lord provides, in spite of ourselves. Imagine what He can do when we give Him all He deserves. I think that's what tonight's sermon was about. I'll have to review my notes to be sure.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I must acknowledge the wonderful posts, replies, and words of encouragement since announcing that I've been appointed to a pastoral position. Duh, I'm just a Jesus Freak!

I'm particularly moved by those who find a renewal in their positions by virtue of my newfound-enthusiastic appointment. Too cool. May my experience bring excitement and enthusiasm to anyone who is reading.

So, here I am with the task of bringing true worship to a congregation that has lived without it for all too long. Next week (the week after Palm Sunday)...Easter Sunday...I'm bringing communion to them. It's been years since they've had communion. What a privilege. I hardly know what to say or do...cuz it's such a wonderful thing to embrace. While I'm not an elder...I'm having the elements blessed/consecrated by one. And they will experience the love of Christ, through communion, in a deeper way than before. Is this cool or what?

So starts my ministry as a local lay pastor. I'll report as time progresses, and hope to report good things.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Slain in the Spirit - A Personal Baptism

Wow, don't know if I should go here, but I will. I have a friend who's been seeking an experience where he could be "slain in the spirit" and experience God's overwhelming presence in his life. Two weeks ago it happened. He brought a relative of his, a charismatic, to visit me at my office. We secluded ourselves and talked about things of The Spirit. In the midsts of our dialogs, there was a presence that could not be denied. It was the presence of the Holy Spirit. And my friend sought a personal experience with the Holy Spirit.

I've "been there...done that" but was especially moved by my friend's desire to be slain. In the midst of our prayer, in the ecstasy of having God present among us, he was ready. He was "swooning" as in, feet planted securely upon the ground but moving about in circles. I was overwhelmed and asked the charismatic relative of his to invoke the Holy Spirit in him at that time and place. He put his hands upon him and told him to experience the love and mercy of God, NOW, and submit to it. He did, and he was overcome by the Holy Spirit.

I share this because this friend has been a missionary to South America and Africa. He has seen others overwhelmed this way, but never experienced it for himself. He had a sort of "envy". That day was his day. And it was, indeed, a blessing to him. My friend, was baptized in the Holy Spirit. It is a baptism, that if you haven't experienced, should make you yearn for it. It is wonderfully Godly experience that should be yearned for. And for those who experience it, it is a pivotal, point to that day, experience.

I only share this because there may be some who are entertaining the notion of being "slain in the spirit" or merely stepping into the unknown in the name of Jesus. DO IT! You may be surprised by what is revealed to you. Trusting in Christ is the key to knowing what tomorrow may bring, because you are equipped to deal with it, whatever it may be. Trust in The Lord, and let Him have His way with slain if that's what it takes. But trust in Jesus Christ.

On Healing Services....Worth It Or Not?

In late February our church held a healing service. It was open to the public and to anyone who would come. We had nobody in particular to pray for, but advertised and spread the word by word of mouth, and it happened. There were over 20 who came.

We prayed over a boy with a brain tumor. We prayed over a man with lung disease. We prayed over a child of God who had a bone tumor. We prayed. And we prayed.

I NEVER ask for a report card on how God worked in the situations prayed for. I just don't do that. I trust that word will come back to us about how God entered into the situations we prayed for. I cannot report on this or that, but I can report that there was a testimony given today in our church about the results of that service. A woman came forth to ask us to pray for her daughter who has a tumor on the bone in her arm. That tumor led to her bone breaking unexpectedly. She testified that when we prayed for her daughter, with her being there to represent her by proxy, that the bone tumor had healed more in one week than it had in the 5 months of medical treatment. Isn't our God an awesome God? She went on to testify that she had had a terrible headache, which she never has, and that the headache was miraculously healed when we prayed over her for her daughter. Again, an awesome God!

The man with lung disease....left under his own power, pulling the detached oxygen tank and breathing under his own power. I don't know the fate of the child with the brain tumor. In due time, I'll get feedback.

I pray that we, Christians, and even those of the Methodist fold, appeal to our Lord for miracles to happen and that God manifests His glory in our lives. He will reveal Himself...if only we invite Him to do so. I'm a witness to miracles. Are you?

First Post in over a MONTH!

Sometimes life, and church life in particular, make for busier days than normal. I, being a self-employed person, have been busier than usual with work as well. But, it's time for an update.

This week I answered the call to enter into ministry. I've been appointed as pastor over a small, shrinking church. But that definition may change. Today was the first day of me being the shepherd of a small flock. I love these people. They are so very open to anything and everything that I can bring to their congregation. Imagine that...a clean slate from which to start! I turn to God for guidance and direction. Already He has responded. They don't have an order of worship for their weekly gatherings...they don't follow any particular liturgy....they don't have music...they don't have bible study...they don't have much...but what they have, they have with enthusiasm. And it is my privilege to be there for them.

This church is marked to be dropped from the denomination because of their shrinking numbers, lack of payment to be part of the fellowship...and because they are a dying church. I'm a living, breathing, God-loving leader, and if they accept me, there will be change. I will lead...and Lord willing...they will follow.

How many of us have ever been given a clean slate? Truly...a clean slate where those in worship have said...."whatever you think is good for us, Pastor, we will do"? It is an awesome privilege and honor to lead willing followers into the unknown. I am overwhelmed by the prospect, while, simultaneously enthused. Duh...who wouldn't be?

I don't ask for prayer for me in this situation...but if you're so moved to do so...PRAY! These 10 people can turn into 15....then 20...then more.....and more.....if they embrace the move of the Holy Spirit to ignite them into witnessing and inviting others to share in the praise and worship of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. I know that I'll be pushing the envelope for them to go out into the community and witness. Did that today...let's see what next week brings.

So, that's what Brother Marty's been up to lately. Working his butt off in the day job...preaching every Sunday evening at our praise and worship service, and getting appointed to a church that is on it's last dying leg. Lotsa fun...lotsa challenges....but most importantly, lotsa opportunities to serve Our Savior. I love it. Anybody else had any challenges lately?