"So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on the things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
Paul had perspective.
The apostle Paul went through many troubles that would (at the least) emotionally devastate or (at the most) physically destroy others. He, however, possessed an ability that we would do well to adapt. As bad as it seemed, Paul refused to allow himself to be distracted from his life's focus. He knew how to gain perspective.
We must learn to be like Paul. We must gain the proper perspective concerning our circumstances. It doesn't matter how bad a situation may seem, it is only temporary. Failure, while overwhelming, will pass. The loss of a job may have cause you a setback but it will not last forever. There are many disastrous events that cause us to feel as though our world has fallen apart. We must remember that these events are only that... events. They do not define who we are or where we are going. They are temporary. They will not last!
Our focus, like Paul's must be on the destination of our journey, not the setbacks along the way. Keep focused. Refuse to allow the distraction of life to cause you to deviate from who you are becoming.
"If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am."
I get accused of being too transparent. Apparently, to some, I share too much of my humanity, my struggles, my weakness. However, here in 2 Corinthians 11:30, the apostle Paul expresses to the church at Corinth that he is uneasy about boasting about his strengths. He doesn't want to be seen as prideful when explaining to the church how he came to be an apostle. As a matter of fact, he would rather be transparent about the not-so-stong areas of his life. He would rather boast about his weaknesses.
I feel much the same way. I would rather have people learn from my mistakes than have them assume that I know more than I really do. I would rather people know who I really am than some facade that I've placed there to foster a false perception of me.
I would rather have people who love me... just me. I don't want people who are just in love with my gifts, my strengths, my calling. I want to be in covenant with people who care about me. I want to lead people who accept me.
Therefore, I will continue to be as transparent as I know how to be. I will share my weaknesses, my struggles, my humanity so that others may learn from it and maybe, just maybe, become a better person than I am.
I love you Restoration Ministries, for letting me be the real me. Let's grow together.
So I know that it has been a LONG time since I have posted anything but I hope to be able to do it a little more now that I have Internet at my home.
First, a little thanks to Dewaine Cooper for giving me a shout out in his post about Gratitude Day. Man, I really appreciate your friendship and your heart for God's Kingdom.
So, sometime last week was Gratitude Day and I just wanted to express my gratitude to some of the people who have helped to mold me into the person that I am... and am becoming.
1. God - About three weeks ago I had an experience with God that made me feel as though I got saved all over again. My fresh times with Him, just sitting in His presence, soaking up His word has been wonderful. Thank you God, for being the patient, kind, and caring King that you are.
2. Stephanie - I married the most incredible person on the planet. Not only does she go out of her way to make my life easier but she is absolutely a wonderful mom to our two boys. She is not only my best friend but my co-laborer in the Kingdom. She cares as much about Restoration Ministries as I do (and that's saying a LOT). She has sacrificed more than she should ever have too. She gives more than she probably should. And she does so much more than I could ever expect. And to top all of that off... SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!!!! I married WAY up! I love you babe, more than I could ever express in mere words. You are my world.
3. Micah and Aiden - you may ask, "How have your kids molded you into who you are?" Everyday I get to experience, in a small way, the love that our Father extends toward us. In understanding how patient I can be with them, and how much they bring me joy, I now more fully understand the way God looks at us. This has helped me become less anal about a lot of things, more compassionate towards peoples failures and shortcomings, and more loving in general. I love you two more than you possibly ever know and will try my best to steward the time God has given me with you well. You WILL become who God's designed you to be.
My family - Mom, Dad, Bertie, Kim, Josh, Megan and Steven... I love you all. What you all have taught me through our relationships, and your examples have each contributed to who I have become. We may not see each other as much as we would like but you are all my foundation. (And it is a good one!)
Adam and Lori - You guys have been there with us for the last seven years. You have seen us at our worst and you still loved us. We have had some great moments... we have had some pretty bad times... and yet we seem to make it through them all. You know our strengths and our weaknesses and you still submit to us as your pastors. We can go on trips and acts absolutely stupid together (Sid the Sloth...) and we can talk ministry on a serious level. We have had and have many friends but you move beyond the friend level to family. We love you guys and can't wait to see what God has planned for us all... and for you!
Our Staff - Elder Gloriadean, Mrs. Pat, Pastor Z, Pastors Coop and Ragan... You guys make ministry fun! We love you all more than you will probably ever know. Your hard work and sacrifice cannot be matched and doesn't go unnoticed. You help us process ideas, push for excellence, and manage what God is doing at RM. We love you all!
Pastors Tim & Kim Hodge - What can I say? You guys have been spiritual parents like no other! You have laughed with us, cried with us, loved us when others would have turned their backs, and corrected us when needed. You have cared for us (even when Stephanie played Dodgeball in the hall...) and just been there when we needed you. You provide sound leadership and advise or just an ear to hear our frustrations. In short, you guys believed in us... You believed in us enough to bring us on staff with you to care for your people with you. You believed in us enough to turn the leadership of RM over to us when your time had come to an end. You believed in us... even when we didn't. Thanks for seeing beyond our immaturity and failures. Thanks for being an example of what it means to love unconditionally.
Apostles Ron & Hope Carpenter - Apostle Ron, you caught me on a bad day at Emmanuel College and you were able to look beyond that and see the gift underneath all of the hurt. Your example and oversight are worth the world to me. Your humility convicts me. But it was the times that I was able to see you behind the scenes... praying over Greenville as we flew in, studying and answering my (probably stupid) questions on preaching trips. It was the small things that have meant the most for me. Apostle Hope - I am grateful that you helped us to understand that we can just be real. We don't have to put on facades. We can just be us. I am grateful for you guys believing in us enough to send us to plant a church or even having on staff at RWOC but the personal times have been the most impacting. No matter what others may say of you guys I know your hearts. And your hearts are what we love the most.
Restoration Ministries - Man, what can I say? When our pastor and founder felt called to Columbia and he placed you in the hands of this young couple that you had only known for a couple of years (Well, other than the fact that my wife grew up in RM), you guys embraced us and the call on our lives. You, not once, expected us to be something we are not and you allowed us, and continue to allow us, to be who we are and to do what we are called to do. You have embraced our strengths and victories. You have even embraced us through our weaknesses and failures. RM, you are the most real group of people I've ever come into contact with. We love you more than we ever thought was possible. And we are enjoying the journey as we watch as God molds us into the beautiful vessel that He is desiring us to be. Thank you guys for who you are. We love You!
Well, if I missed anyone, it was not intentional. I am truly grateful for all of the relationships that have been and continue to be in our lives. I have much to be thankful for.
Don't forget that this Sunday is Friend Day!! Invite everyone you know! We will be having our regular service and then the After Party!! We will be having FREE BBQ chicken plates, a 3 on 3 basketball tournament, plus the ultimate splash zone with slip and slides, water balloons and more! You don't want to miss this!
PLUS, we are all wearing our shorts to church so we don't have to change clothes!!! That's right, wear your shorts to the morning worship experience! It's going to be great!
So, I do Facebook and Twitter and Blog and in this follow many popular ministers and leaders. Over the last year or so I have noticed a trend that really bothers me and have stayed silent until now.
I have watched as quite a few Christian leaders have suffered divorce, whether through some fault of their own or not. I have also watched as many other respected Christian leaders have voiced their opinions (mostly negative) concerning these situations via blogs, facebook or tweets. I have a problem with this for the following reasons:
1. It's none of your business. Now I know that we Christian leaders feel that it is our "responsibility" to lead our people in all truth. But lets get real, most of us have an opinion and just want to express it. We don't have a voice into the lives of these "celebrity" leaders. So when we post our tweets it isn't for the purpose of bringing healing and restoration to those leaders. They are probably never even going to read our blog, follow our tweets or befriend us on facebook. They aren't calling to ask for our advise or counsel. And if they did, would we counsel them in the tone of the comments we've posted? What are our motives?
2. Those who follow us will more than likely take our opinion and attitude. This might be helpful if they took our attitude toward the situations (like divorce) but more often than not they take the negative attitude toward the individual. We have done nothing more than tarnished the reputation of an individual who is already going through, probably, the most difficult time in their lives. Again, what are our motives?
3. We are ALL a part of the Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says, "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it..." What happened to that? The Body isn't about our local churches although they are included in it. It isn't about certain denominations even though they are included as well. It isn't even about theological persuasions. The Body of Christ has to do with ALL that have committed their lives to Christ. Therefore, when we write negative and even hurtful remarks about others we are not trying to bring healing to that individual. We are in essence, being a bacteria in their wound that causes even more hurt.
Also, none of us are exempt from difficulty. And if something like this happened to us, how would we feel if someone else blogged those comments about us?
Guys, I may not agree with certain things concerning these public figures have done or the way they have handled their situations but I have to wonder what good it would do me to tweet about it.
We've heard it said that the church is the only entity on the planet that shoots its own wounded. I fear that we are only enforcing that belief. I would rather change it.
So for all my colleagues that have endured difficult personal situations, I hurt with you. I pray for you and I still honor you.
I know that everyone gets sick of hearing me say how much I LOVE Restoration Ministries but deal with it! I DO! There is no place like RM in the world! There is no other group of people with whom I'd rather be in covenant relationship. You guys are the GREATEST!
We have some incredible things happening right now that I want to point out.
1st - We have seen 2 people accept Christ in the last two week!!! I am super excited about this!
2nd - We have been consistently over 100 in attendance on Sundays for more than 7 months now!! We are now pushing to break the 200 barrier! Keep inviting your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, cashiers at Wal Mart, strangers at the gas station! Invite everyone you can! God is doing some powerful things and we want as many people as possible to be a part of it.
3rd -Our Kids Ministry is averaging around 30 kids a Sunday!!! I didn't know how much that was until they were all brought into the main auditorium when we installed Pastor Z into the Executive Team. Man, that was a lot of kids!
4th - We now have new Youth Pastors, Greg (Coop) and Ragan Cooper. We are super excited about this couple pastoring our teens. AND last night they had 16 teens in their meeting!! God is getting ready to do some incredible things in our student ministry as well.
5th - Our pews are GONE! We will all be sitting in comfortable, cushioned chairs this Sunday. There will be a little different arrangement as well. We are excited about this change.
6th - Our food distribution has been serving many families each week and has been averaging 11 volunteers!!! People are catching the vision of serving our community!!
I am PUMPED about all that is going on and all that God is doing here at RM! I've said it many times before and you'll probably get tired of hearing me say it...
I can't believe that I have not blogged since August of last year! That has just been slack. However, am going to begin blogging more consistently now in 2010 so for starters let me catch everyone up on some of the wonderful things going on at Restoration Ministries!
First, we have added another team member to our Executive Team. Pastor Zabrina Robinson is now serving the ministry as our Children's Pastor. She has been the director of our Children's Ministry for over a year now and has seen tremendous growth. It is with great excitement that we add her to this team!
Next, Greg and Ragan Cooper have agreed to become our Youth Pastors! They have been attending RM for about six months or so and we have watched their faithfulness and love for people during this time. We are pumped that God has sent us such a wonderful couple to disciple teens in this area.
Last, our pews have been sold and will be picked up at the first of march!!! We are pushing for a few of the renovations in the sanctuary to be completed by Easter!
This is an exciting time for RM! God is doing incredible things! Don't miss out!