Mosaic Student Ministries

Pam and Teresa discuss the plan for the evening. Last night was a great night for Mosaic Student Ministries. We had 26 students “show up.” That in itself is a misnomer. Our church has a van and we go out for the most part pick up all of the students. I had to make two trips in addition to the church van to pick up and drop off all the students, which is a great problem to have.

We launched Mosaic last fall as the school year began. To say that everything has gone smoothly in the last year would be lying. To say that it has been a complete waste of time does describe it either. We have had some high “highs” and low “lows.” Such I believe is the nature of student ministries. It never occured to me when I was called to Preston that I would become a “Student Ministries” pastor in addition to my regular duties, but it has been good.

(Right) Teresa speaks to our middle and high school girls about the importance of safety. This even included a demonstration or two of how to protect themselves.

I’m often reminded by God that student ministries is not easily judged by a few weeks or a year. We will usually never know what seeds were planted on this side of eternity. We have been called to minister to the students of Henry County and Martinsville.

One of the cool things is to see how the students themselves are spreading the word. Almost all of the students there last night are not “churched.” That is they haven’t be coming to church all their life and mom and/or dad don’t bring them or show up. God has given us a great challenge and a great responsibility. Be praying for the ministry of Preston Wesleyan and Mosaic. We need it as we seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the students of Martinsville and Henry County.

My Musical Worship Journey – Part 4

Several Critical Events

In the fall of ’85, I wasn’t sure of much. Several things happened that fall that would have lasting impact. As I mentioned at the end of last week’s post, I quit the band that I thought would be a fulfilling of my call. I had no idea what God had in store, but it was during that fall that the story began to come together.

First, I quit the band. Second, I was terminated from a well-paying job. Third, there was Pam. The first two came together, along with an advertisement in Contemporary Christian Magazine. A Christian musical organization was looking for vocalists, instrumentals, and technicians.

That organization was The Continental Singers. I contacted them and they told me to send an audition tape. They liked what they heard and gave me an opportunity to tour with them in the summer of ’86 playing bass guitar. I spent the remainder of the fall, winter, and spring preparing. I had to learn the music for tour and raise the funds (much like a missionary would.). We’ll return to that in a moment.

Even though I was living at home, there were still financial obligations. I found a job through a temp agency at a company called Day-Timers. This becomes huge in developing who I am. The job involved taking incoming calls in the company’s call center. “No big deal,” you say. There was a two week training period. The first week was cramming our brain with the info we needed to properly take calls. During the second week we went live. I believe I just about hyperventilated on that first call, even though there was a supervisor right next to me helping me along. I was shaking so bad at the end of the call it was ridiculous. We had to take three calls as the supervisor watched and listened. I stuck out the assignment – I don’t quit easily. By the end of the six months (it was seasonal based on the calendar.) I was enjoying the job. Each year the company took the best temps and put them on their payroll. If I hadn’t been committed to going with Continentals, I probably would have been asked to stay on. But they let me go and told me to call them when I got home. This was the beginning of me coming “out of my shell.” After that, I took various temp jobs to fill the time until it was time to report to rehearsal camp in California.

In addition to all that, there was Pam. We had been dating about a year that fall. What would touring for a summer mean to our relationship? I wasn’t sure, but I sure enjoyed being around her. This was the most serious relationship I had been involved in. Was marrying Pam part of God’s plan? After some serious prayer, I really thought it was. I proposed to her at Christmas, and she said yes. So the pieces were in place.

One more influence that was part of this era was Rev. Ken Masterman. Ken and his wife Betty were hired at our church as music director. Our music program at Trinity was still quite traditional. Ken was a wonderful spiritual man and a tremendous choir director and vocalist. He took me under his wings and started developing me as a musician. Our church switched hymnals during this time. The other hymnal, even after several years, wasn’t very popular. For the first time a church we were attending went with an interdenominational hymnal. “Praise and Worship” music wasn’t on the radar yet. Ken has passed on now. He influenced many through out his years of service to the church.

219cBA4+UsL._AC_UL320_SR200,320_As you can tell, the college and career days were full of important milestones — which bring us back to The Continentals. I had never been away from home for more than a few days. This was going to be a big adjustment. I remember the night I was to fly out to California, I was up all night – I couldn’t sleep. I was thrown into a completely foreign environment. About four to six days into rehearsal camp, I got homesick. That feeling took a few days to go away and I recovered. After ten days in Santa Barbara, CA, we were off on a three month tour of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, back across Canada and down the west coast. It really was quite an experience and I was convinced that God wanted me to be in full-time music ministry.

So what happened after I got home? Where would the journey lead next?

Sunday Night Thoughts – May 27

Here I am at the end of a good day. Currently, I am listening to the National Memorial Day Concert. CeCe Winans has just knocked the ball out of the park with her rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.” This is normally something we do as a family, but we had some company when the concert started so, some are getting ready for bed.

This morning we celebrated Pentecost and the Holy Spirit’s coming to the church at Jerusalem. What difference does it make? It makes all the difference. This was the whole point of this morning’s message.

A couple of months ago, our Ministry Leadership Team questioned why we cancel so many Sunday night services in May, June, and July. So, we have made a decision not to cancel most of our Sunday night services. We have typically lifted our services for Mother’s Day, Homecoming (which was last week), Memorial Day, Father’s Day and so on. Since we weren’t planning on cancelling tonight’s service, I decided we should have a picnic and a short Memorial Day commemoration. We had 21 people show up, including some who don’t normally show up on Sunday night. What’s really cool about that is that we only had 30 this morning. Is Sunday Night dead? Not at Preston. We have been having some great services of late even on Sunday Night. We had a great time of fellowship. I cooked hamburgers and hotdogs. We had lots of food and we had a short memorial service for those who have served our country.

I hope you have a great week. God bless.

The Holy Spirit Comes…So?

Acts 2:1-4

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

This morning, we want to ask this question, “The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost…so what?” Why would we even mark or celebrate this day? Does it make any difference? In The Wesleyan Church, we have typically downplayed the church calendar, thinking of it as high church or cold formalism. In a way, that is correct. Unfortunately as usually happens, the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater. Over this past year we have marked the church seasons, just the way we would mark time by observing the earthly seasons. There is a natural rhythm to the earthly seasons that God put into place. There is also a natural rhythm to the church year. The natural points of celebration, at least in the past for us Wesleyans was Christmas and Easter. We left the marking of the other seasons to the mainline denominations.

Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the church at Jerusalem. What would have happened if the Holy Spirit would have never come? Number one, Jesus would have lied. Three times in chapters 14, 15, and 16 of John, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit. He calls him an Advocate – one who speaks in favor of Christ or who is a supporter or defender of Christ – who will teach us everything and remind us of everything Christ has taught us. The Spirit will testify of Jesus and his ministry and the Spirit of God will testify to all truth – he will only speak the things of the Father.

In Luke’s gospel Jesus tells his disciples, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and died and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of signs for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of these things. And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fill you will power from heaven.”

The first thing that we understand from the Scriptures is that for the Holy Spirit not come would have meant that Jesus was a liar and a false prophet. The one who fulfilled many prophecies, would have himself been a false prophet. The coming of the Holy Spirit fulfills Christ’s prophecy of the Holy Spirit’s coming.

So is there anything else? What else is significant about the Holy Spirit’s coming? Why is it so important? Jesus answered the question for us when He commanded His disciples to stay in Jerusalem. Jesus promises that when the Holy Spirit comes to the disciples, they will receive power from heaven. We can see a result of that power in Acts chapter two which I read at the beginning of the message. When the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples they were endued with power to preach the gospel. Yes, Peter goes on to preach a wonderful message on the power of Christ; the same Peter who had fifty days earlier denied Jesus, because he was afraid of the crowd in Jerusalem. What happened? Peter and the others were given power from heaven. What does that mean to us?

The first thing that happens when we received the Holy Spirit is that we are endued with power. So what? So we are endued with power, who cares? God cares. God cared enough to send us the Holy Spirit that we could be His witnesses. Without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives we are nothing but failures in our attempts to witness for Christ. All we have to do is look at Peter’s pathetic attempts before he received the Holy Spirit and then look at his messages after receiving the Holy Spirit. Peter was a changed man in more than one way. God wants His believers to be filled with the Spirit, so that we can be His witnesses. This is something that Jesus has called each one of His followers to do. This is something that Jesus has called His church to do. We are to be witnesses and if we are to be effective at all in sharing the gospel of Christ, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When Peter got done preaching his message on the day of Pentecost, three thousand people were added to the church in one day. Talk about your filling of the Holy Spirit. The amazing thing is that it didn’t stop on the first day. Acts 2:46-47 record, “They worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” This is what being filled with the Holy Spirit is all about. The Holy Spirit’s filling in the early church enabled them to be witnesses to the city around them. Are we a church that desires to be filled with the Holy Spirit? I know that there are individuals who make that their prayer everyday. Why would we need to pray for the Spirit’s filling everyday? Because we leak – just ask an expert, that would be me.

The Holy Spirit’s filling allowed the early church to speak on behalf of God. So…the Holy Spirit’s (the Advocate’s) indwelling in the church at Jerusalem, allowed them to be advocates as well. Did you catch that? When we are filled with the Holy Spirit or (God’s Advocate) we are empowered to speak on behalf or defend God as well. I think that’s cool but also scary at the same time. That God would want me to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that I could speak on His behalf and yet that is what He has called me to be as the shepherd of His people.

So I believe that the Holy Spirit’s coming empowers us to witness, that is the primary reason the Holy Spirit came. The Holy Spirit give us power to witness. Is there anything else? Did you notice what else happened. They shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared it with those in need. They enjoyed the goodwill of the people. The Holy Spirit’s power in our lives empowers us to live lives of service. Remember this scripture from James 1:27? “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” Part of our calling as God’s people is to serve those around us. The Salvation Army – a sister denomination – I believe does a great job of this. This is part of their over all mission. Scholars believe that one of the reasons that England avoided the revolutions that happened in mainland Europe, was a result of the Wesley revivals. Wesley was just as much about taking care of those who were in need as he was about preaching the gospel. His motto was, “earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we are endued with power from heaven to live lives of service. This is not just a job for the preacher, but for every believer. If the church was really filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to do what the Holy Spirit can do in our lives, I wonder if we would need to rely as much on government programs? We are to take care of widows and orphans in their distress, that is the job of the Spirit-filled church.

So…the Spirit empowers us to be witnesses to the gospel of Christ…it empowers us to live lives of service to the Kingdom…and it empowers us to live Spirit-filled lives.

Some of you are asking, “What do you mean, preacher?” Remember the second part of that scripture from James? Refusing to let the world corrupt you. Let’s go to Romans 8.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinner have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit’s filling in our lives, allows us to live lives free from sin. We are God’s people. So many times we try to live life on our own. Just as we are powerless to preach and teach the gospel without the Holy Spirit’s infilling, we are powerless to live the life that God has called us to live without filling of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit we cannot please God. Look what happens when we are not filled with the Spirit.

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

The believer needs to ask for the Holy Spirit’s filling, it is the only way to please God. Paul continues, “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (and remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raise Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do (No, that’s just they way I am. No, the devil made me do it, or God made me that way. These are lies from Satan himself.) For if you live by its dictates (the sinful nature) you will die, But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you have received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.

If we are God’s children and we love him as He commanded us to love, this should be no problem, especially if we ask for the filling of the Holy Spirit. If we are living as children of God, we don’t live as fearful slaves of God. No, we are his children. The word Abba here is translated to “Daddy.”

Her is my challenge this morning. I believe that every Christian should be filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit. When we are filled to the brim with God’s Spirit, we will want to live lives that please him. We will want to live lives that serve him and our fellow man. We will want to live lives that testify to the gospel of Christ.

This morning my prayer is that what began as a spark, will be fanned into flames and those flames will become a consuming fire. I hear Christians and even pastors talking about getting burned out in the ministry. Perhaps the reason so many are getting burned out in the ministry is because the are not being consumed by the Holy Spirit’s fire and they are only being consumed by their own fire…wanting to do it all on their own. This morning, the Holy Spirit is willing to fill you so that you don’t burn out, but that you are a holy flame…the flame of witness, a flame of service, a flame of living the life that God has called you to live. What difference does the Holy Spirit make? It makes all the difference. My challenge is that you would ask the Holy Spirit to consume you — That you would live a life passionate for the things of God – that the Holy Spirit would fill you – that because of the Holy Spirit’s filling Preston Wesleyan Church would never be the same again – but we would be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit – if that is your prayer, the altar is open.

Worship Boxscore

May 27, 2007 — Preston Wesleyan Church
Pentecost Sunday

Call to Worship — Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Song of Worship – The Comforter Has Come
Song of Worship – He Abides
Worship through Prayer – Sweet, Sweet Spirit
Worship through Giving
Special Music
Worship through God’s Word – The Holy Spirit Came at Pentecost…
Song of Commitment – Consuming Fire (Tim Hughes)

Pentecost Sunday

May 27, 2007 – The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost

Acts 2:1-21; Genesis 11:1-9; Psalm 104:24-34; Romans 8:14-17; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:8-17, 25-27

Tomorrow we celebrate Pentecost. Some would say and I would tend to agree that Pentecost is the birthday of the church. Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until what He promised (The Holy Spirit or Advocate) came and when the Holy Spirit came, He would bring the disciples great power. Luke records this twice. Once at the end of his gospel and a second time at the beginning of Acts. The book of Acts is a story of this great power coming on the disciples and they were able to do extraordinary things. As I preach tomorrow morning, I’ve come up with three things the Holy Spirit empowered the early church to do. The Holy Spirit not only empowered the early church to do these things, but he endued us (the church) to do these things today. What power does the Holy Spirit give us?

  1. The Holy Spirit gives us power to be witnesses of the gospel of Christ. In Acts 1:8, this is why Jesus says the Holy Spirit is coming — so that we can be Christ’s witnesses throughout the world — Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and around the world.
  2. The Holy Spirit gives us power to live lives of service. I sincerely believe that the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives enables us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He has called us to live lives of service. I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats. The difference was in their service to the Kingdom. The goats ignored the “least of these,” and the sheep served the “least of these.” James writes, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of the Father is this, to take care of the widows and orphans in their distress and to keep yourself from being polluted by the world.” So we are to serve the Kingdom
  3. The second part of that verse of James alludes to the Holy Spirit enpowering us to live the holy life. Paul deals with this in Romans. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” The Holy Spirit gives us power to lives the life that God has called his children to live — not lives controlled by our sinful nature — but lives controlled by the spirit of God.

As I read this I am convinced that without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives we are incapable of doing any of this. We are powerless to be witnesses. We are powerless to live lives of service. We are powerless to live lives controlled by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit makes all the difference in the life of the believer. Have a blessed Sunday as we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s coming to the church

My Musical Worship Journey – Part 3

The College Years

Last week, when I left off, I mentioned that in December of 1980, I received God’s call into full-time ministry. In the early 80’s, in our denomination, there really weren’t full-time music or worship pastors. Most churches were just starting to look at multiple staff. Usually that first staff pastor was a youth pastor. It was during those years that our church hired it’s first staff pastor and true to form it was a youth pastor. So, my journey began, having no idea how that full-time call would ever work out. My gut instinct was that I would be involved in full-time music ministry. My senior year of high school and the college-aged years were spent pursuing what I thought would be a musical career.

Over the next few years, I would be involved in various musical groups. Yes, I still sang with my family. Like I said last time, I was recently listening to some of these recordings and they wern’t too bad. What was interesting was that we had the chance to sing in churches that were liturgical or “high church” in nature or what you would call mainline denominations. They were very receptive of our music and the gospel message that our family presented. We sang in various churches of family as well and would get together to jam. I even remember singing at some family reunions, when we would sing both gospel and country songs.

As I write, I remember other things from my childhood. My mom and dad had various musical friends and they would come over to our house, or we would go to theirs and we would have jam sessions. Music was always part of my life.

In addition to all of this, I also was very involved in our church’s music ministry. I sang in the choir each week, played bass or trumpet when needed, and helped with the youth group. I think is was during this time that I taught myself guitar, sometimes electric — sometimes acoustic.

Kansas_-_Vinyl_ConfessionsMusically, I was listening primarily to Contemporary Christian Music and my tastes were quite diverse. One non-Christian album that came out really got my attention. I was listening to a syndicated late-night radio program out of Nashville, called the Larry Black Show. He introduced this particular song by reading the lyrics and then he played it. It was like nothing I had heard before. The song was “Crossfire” by Kansas and immediately became a favorite. The Vinyl Confessions album was selected as one of the top albums of the year by CCM Magazine. I enjoyed listening to this classically influenced rock. Livgren continued his career and I still enjoy listening to his prog rock styled music.

I was also pursuing a regular career to support my musical career. I went to college to learn how to program computers. They called it data processing at the time. After college, I went to work, still with the idea of moving toward full-time music ministry.

The first of the bands that would show some promise came together and within months of forming imploded on itself, four of the band members including myself (we numbered seven or eight at one time,) regrouped and began to practice. It wasn’t long before we had several places to play. I even bought a new bass and about a year later bought the band sound equipment. Most of which I still own. We played several shows and then our guitar player quit. It took several months to regroup. After our regrouping, we had a more acoustic pop/rock sound. This group was the first with an official name, “Jeremiah,” or “Unite.” It lasted a while with different personnel until I decided to quit…

Where was all of this going? Where was God leading me? What was next? There were several influencing factors, which we’ll look at next week.