Thursday, October 31, 2013

Always Giving Thanks by John Wright

Always Giving Thanks
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               by John Wright

            It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is less than four weeks away.  Remember last year?  Did not you and I say that we were going to count our blessings, and make a conscious effort to not get bogged down with our busy lives, and really try to be thankful.  Well, I hate to admit that I have not done well at all.  I am determined to do better this year, and with God's help and yours, I intend to be a man who expresses gratitude for the gift of life.  It is important that we read God's word for it is the reason for the hope that is within us. 

Ephesians 5:20 "...always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus" 

To be truly thankful to God in the face of anything and everything is hard, but it is possible.  How?  We need to live in the name of our Lord Jesus.  I want to pray in Jesus' name, sleep in Jesus' name, wake in Jesus' name, be an employee in Jesus' name, be a husband in Jesus' name, be a dad in Jesus' name, and be a friend in Jesus' name.

Colossians 3:15

 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

        If we take the name of Jesus with us whereever we go, the peace of Christ will cause us to be grateful and give us vision so that we can see beyond ourselves.  When I take my eyes off of Jesus, I develop spiritual nearsightedness. Unless nearsightedness is corrected, I cannot see past the nose on my face, and the only thing that seems important is me.

        This year I am going to use the spiritual glasses that God has given me.  He has given all of us the prescription for perfect spiritual vision.  That prescription was filled at the cross, the ultimate act of serving others.  What we are called to do is serve others in Jesus' name.  Serving God really begins when we live in Jesus name.

John 14:27

 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

With Gods peace we are free to be thankful, it does not matter how rough life may get we can still give thanks.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Uncomfortable Well of Discontentment by Mike DeCamp

August 28, 2013 was the 50th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite speeches.  It was a speech given by one single man, on one single occasion, but it was a speech that ultimately changed a nation…and hopefully is still changing a nation.  It was Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  Just reading the words again for this writing brought tears to my eyes.

He had a dream of racial equality that sprung from the depths of an uncomfortable well of discontentment.  That discontentment was right.  It was good.  It was as it should have been.  It was a discontentment that all peoples should have felt.  That discontentment drove a dream of change.

What I want to ask you today…in my own small way…in light of the glory of our Mighty God…
Do you have any dreams today?

I do.

I also have an uncomfortable well of discontentment…and, it is feeding some dreams for the future of our church…the future of the Lord’s people here…and everywhere.

I have a dream...
That one day we will fill these pews…and not just with folks we have stolen from other similar buildings, but with the broken, the hurting, the disillusioned, and the distressed.

Matthew 9:10-13 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I have a dream...
That we will raise this roof with praise…not with the artificial cords of electronic amplification, but with the overwhelming praise of hundreds of voices raised in joyful praise to the God of our salvation.

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.

It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.

For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

I have a dream...
That one day…soon maybe…our times together will consistently run overtime because of the three, four, or five baptisms we have every week…then…every day.

Acts 2:46-47 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I have those dreams because I possess an uncomfortable well of discontentment.  I want us to be more.  I want us to make a difference.  I want this church to be used by God to propel the Gospel forward and change lives.  And, I know that with God all things are possible.  I know that it is His desire that everyone come to walk with Him in repentance and renewal.

The question is not whether these things can be done.  The question is not whether God would have it be done.  The question really is:
Will we be His voice in this hurting world?

Let me ask you…do you share my well of discontentment?  Do you share my dreams?  Can you feel that discontentment in your inner being?  If you do, let’s lift our mouths in praise and our hearts in prayer!  Let’s bow our heads in humility and join our hands in unity!

Let’s dream…let’s believe…let’s act…and let’s watch God fill up our wellspring of life with the reality of His power!

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Drastic Change" by Frank Black

“Drastic  Change”

(F. Black – Oct. 8, 2013)


      Have you ever had circumstances or events in your life that caused an immediate, total, and permanent change?  --  perhaps an epiphany or a “eureka” experience.  Of course such changes are rather rare, but can you think of one in your life?  Personally, I can come up with only a few in my 72 years.  And if you come up with one, what was it that caused the change?  [It could have been volitional (by your own independent choice) or forced on you by external circumstances].


      What am I getting at anyway?  What I’m leading up to is the immediate, total, and permanent change in Jesus’ disciples after His appearance to them following His resurrection. But first, let me back up just a bit. 


      If you remember, after Jesus was arrested, His disciples ran away and hid.  They were frightened, confused, and disillusioned.  They became totally ineffective.  By the way, have you ever been really frightened?  What did you do?  Perhaps you can identify with the disciples’ actions.  What would we have done in their situation?  Of course we would like to think that we would have stayed with Mary at the crucifixion like John.  But would we?  Would we have been like Peter and vehemently denied knowing Jesus?


      The disciples’ action was not the end of the story as you well know.  It was only the beginning.  What caused their drastic change?  The miraculous resurrection and appearance of Jesus in their midst.  [None of the other religions of our world have anything that can compare to our true religion of Christianity and the resurrection of Jesus].  After Jesus’ return the disciples were 100% sure that Jesus was the Son of God [the Messiah] and were forevermore changed!!  From cringing, uncertain men they became constant workers and advocates of Jesus to their deaths.  [I’ll later present the history of the end of their lives].


      Jesus appeared to the disciples and others over a period of 40 days and performed “convincing proofs” [miracles] during that time.  Can you only imagine what your response would be if your deceased  father, mother, husband, wife, or child came alive and lived and ate and taught and performed miracles over a period of days??!!  Not even imaginable to us.  But this occurred with Jesus, the Son of God.  My goodness; after such experiences, you can see how the disciples now totally believed and taught about Jesus until their deaths.  To me this is one of the most convincing proofs of the reality [the truth] of Jesus.  Unless men are absolutely convinced of something, they would not persist with something that caused them suffering and death.  [I find great comfort in the fact that Jesus prayed for us who did not see Him.  In John 20:29 Jesus says, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  -  This is you and me!!

In reviewing the history of the end of the disciples’ lives, I found the following:

·         Peter:  Crucified upside down at his request

·         Andrew:  Crucified on an X-shaped cross

·         James, son of Alpheus:  Stoned to death

·         James, son of Zebedee:  Beheaded

·         John:  Only disciple dying a ‘natural death’ in old age

·         Thaddeus:  Shot to death with arrows

·         Philip:  Crucified

·         Nathaniel:  Crucified upside down

·         Matthew:  Killed with an ax

·         Thomas:  Killed by spear

·         Simon:  Sawn in half

·         Matthias:  (who replaced Judas) – Crucified

**  The obvious conclusion of this subject would be the question:  “How has our belief in Jesus changed our lives

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thoughts from the Men's Advance by Chris Kirby

Frank Black takes the men on a "Hike with God."

Thoughts from the Men’s Advance. 

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to spend time with 25 or so other men from Southeastern at our annual Men’s Advance.  It was a great time of fellowship with some challenging thoughts about what it means to walk with God.  The guys who shared did a good job of pointing us toward the importance of being in step with our Father and to live our lives in way that honors Him.  Here are a couple of the things that I specifically took away as a challenge from our time together. 

1-      We are stronger on our walk with God if we do it with a team!  God has always been about relationship.  You see from the very beginning the use of companions as people, formed in the image of God, navigate life.  God didn’t leave Adam alone, he gave him Eve.  Moses had Aaron to aid him in ministry.  David had Jonathan to rely on and provide protection from Saul.  We see Jesus walk with 12 followers on a daily basis and 3 of those were best friends to him.  In I Corinthians 12 Paul describes the importance of the faith community working together and sharing gifts.  Acts gives us a glimpse at the earliest days of the church where we see the believers coming together each day to grow together as a movement and even share what they owned to support each other.  I could go on and on.  However, I think you see the point.  We were never called to journey alone.  We were called to walk with other people who support, challenge, and encourage us.  Do you have those people in your life?  I hope so.  If not, seek them out.  It is vitally important to connect with others.  Satan would like to nothing more than to see you try walking through life as a “lone wolf.”  That makes you an easy target.


2-      I was really struck by the question of what is consuming my life.  Each of us will be consumed by something.  Our time, energy, and resources will be depleted by something whether it be positive or wasteful.  The question is whether or not those things are truly being used in such a way that would reflect what I say is most important to me.  In other words, if I say that growing in my relationship with God is a priority in my life, why would I spend all my time watching TV that is opposite to the nature of God?  If I believe that being involved in the daily life of my kids is a core value to my life, why would I dig myself into a career that has me away from them all the time?  If I believe that serving and loving others is truly part of honoring God, why do I use all my vacation time for “me time” rather than intentionally laying some aside for ministry opportunities?  My time, my money, my heart, my thoughts; each of those things are going to be consumed.  The way they are consumed will dictate who I am as a person and whether or not my life is a reflection of what God wants for me.    I hope that if someone were to just follow me through my life and take notes on how I’m being consumed there would be no doubt that I’ve allowed God to take control of me.  I hope that I’m an open place for the Spirit to dwell and help me on that walk with God that we talked so much about at the Advance. 

That weekend was a great time.  I don’t know what other men took from it.  I hope you’ll ask them!  But for me, it was a reaffirmation toward the importance of fellowship and living a life where my actions speak louder than words about Who is consuming me!  One last thing- guys, if you didn’t make it this year, I sure hope you’ll go next year and be blessed by a weekend together with brothers in Christ! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

NEW! A Health Ministry by Lisa Fleetwood

Southeastern is starting a health ministry!  So what does a health ministry do, anyway?  A health ministry provides health promoting services that enhance the well-being of our congregation and people in our community through improving understanding of the mind, body, spirit connection.   Our ultimate goal is to help members improve their physical health so we can use our bodies to serve God. 

What are we doing first?  The first initiative of the health ministry was to purchase an AED (Automated External Defibrillator).  AED’s are used when someone collapses and their heart stops the flow of blood to their brain.  The treatment for this “cardiac arrest” is defibrillation.  Early defibrillation can mean the difference between life and death.  Our hope is that we will never need to use this equipment, but we have it if we need it!  Our new AED is located in the foyer.  If you are interested in learning more about how to use this equipment contact Lisa Fleetwood or Jim Brantly. 

So what’s next?  That depends on you!  The health ministry is looking for volunteers to use their health knowledge to help others.  Are you a medical professional who would not mind sharing tips, reviewing medications, teaching a seminar, or organizing a fitness group?  We need you!  Are you a personal trainer, coach or educator who has a passion for bringing out the best in others?  We need you!  Are you an avid health enthusiast who is willing to encourage and motivate?  We need you! 

So how do I “sign up?”  The first step is creating a database that outlines our strengths as a church body.  This database will be used to determine initiatives in the future.  Most correspondence will be done by email so there is no fear of committing to a time intensive ministry.  If interested, please email Lisa Fleetwood at and include your strengths and skills, contact information, and ideas for service.  If you are willing to serve on a health ministry committee that will periodically meet to discuss service and outreach for our church body, include that as well. 

Questions?  Contact Lisa Fleetwood or Jim Brantly.