Archives For December 2012

(Use this with your small group, youth group, personal bible study…)

Genesis 41:37: “Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials. So Pharaoh asked his officials, ‘Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.’ ”


1. How did a pagan king receive the suggestions from a former convict? Genesis 41:37
2. What was it that convinced Pharaoh that he should listen to Joseph? Genesis 41:38. In what way can you see the Spirit of God in Joseph’s life?
3. Pharaoh called Joseph two things: wise and intelligent. What is the difference between these two words?
4. Joseph, an immigrant, without many friends or any help from his family, became the second most powerful in the kingdom. What message do you think God wants to give us through that story?
5. Study with me for a moment the word favor. The biblical meaning of the word is that God looks on one of His children in a special and meaningful way. How can you attract the favor of God into your life? 2 Chronicles 16:9; Proverbs 11:27; Proverbs 12:2


Take these ideas and make them work for your life:
1. Your testimony gives you authority. Joseph spoke with authority because the Spirit of God was with him and in him. The gospel is demonstrated by our actions, not our words. How can you as a Christian improve your testimony?
2. More than “friends in high places,” you need the Lord. Joseph was not well connected, and his promotion came directly from God, who ordained a masterfully orchestrated plan to bless him and get him out of prison. What is the danger in self-promotion instead of seeking the promotion of God?
3. The key to God’s favor is to walk with Him. As you walk closer to Jesus, you can clearly perceive His plan. Strive to please God, and you will have His favor. Even though salvation is by grace, why is it important to walk in obedience to experience God’s favor?

This week, seek to be obedient, and do not indulge in self-promotion. Let God promote you.

Photo: Arise church

I preached last Sabbath in Arise. It’s a brand new YA church in Potomac Conference, under the leadership of Pr. Jose Esposito who is the Hispanic Coordinator, with Pr. Feliciano also involved in providing pastoral leadership. Here are some observations, and hope for the future of our denomination. If you spend 5 minutes around me, you will sense that my passion to seek and save this generation is very clear. Being that the case, I was really looking forward to spending a Sabbath of my vacation with them.

1. They are small, but committed. The core group is around 35 (over 100 were present Sabbath) which is very small. Yet, that does not dampen their enthusiasm. Their pastor has 3 other congregations, which means the local leadership has to step up, (a great thing!). The experience that I have had (around 5 now) with these churches, is that it takes a while for it to build up. There is no 0-60 in under 60 days. That being the case, the leadership must be extremely committed, and clear that it’s going to take a while, and that’s OK. As I look at other churches in this category (mainly YA) like Mosaic, I remember the years of struggle before the growth happens. ARISE is one among around 20 churches of the same kind nationwide that have started in the last 10 years, where there were none before. This brings me hope.!/photo.php?fbid=10151026437528704&set=pb.332028978703.-2207520000.1356820251&type=3&theater

2. A sense of mission is clear.Some of the churches, even young adult churches, when they are planted are focused on having a great worship and little more. But successful churches, are both attractional AND missional.They might use different methods, but the mission remains clear. One leader told me about how they are trying to go after kids that have left the church, while at the same time doing outreach in their community with people that have little or no church background.  They build up the body, and seek the lost.

3. They are for, not against. Many churches (too many to count) are started because of what they are against. They are against worldliness, against traditions, against Jesuit infiltration, against too many rules. The conversations I had today, were all about what they were for. They are for reaching the ones that have left. They are for reaching their community. They are for evangelism. They are for meaningful worship. They are for commitment for God. They are for providing a safe place.

Will you join me in praying for ARISE? Here is the facebook page and website. Drop them a line. Keep them in your prayers. Join them if you can.!/arisesda?fref=ts

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

Three things you must do here now, to get there later.

Philipians 3:12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

 Paul tells us three things:

1. You must start.

Two principles are clearly established:

1. Start, even without perfect conditions. He says “I’m not perfect”. You dont need to be either. People that wait their whole lifetimes for conditions to change before starting, often never do. 
2. Do it now! Repeat that phrase 50 times when you wake up in the morning. The best time to start, is now.

2. You must stop.                                                            
Paul urges us to stop living in the past. That includes forgiveness for past offenses. As we consider the topic of forgivess, we are encouraged to forgive and love everyone, but not trust everyone. Forgiveness does not mean reconection. Now, how do you know if you have forgiven?:

1.The focus of your life is forward. You learn from the past hurts, but dont live there. 

2. You understand that you will forever see the scars, but it does not affect your state of mind. The pain is gone, though the scars remain.
3. You are able to use what happened to you, to help others.

3. You must stay. 

Paul encourages the readers to stay on the path they have begun. Winners never quit and quitters dont often win. Vince Lombardi puts it this way: Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.

As you look at your life, the decisions you are making, and the choices that define you, think about one key question:

Is it worth it? That will help you to focus on the prize, not the process.
May you have a great 2013.

If anyone could have given up, and not ever thought about getting to the next level, it would have been Paul, in prision. He wrote the book of Phillipians there, and he shares three things we must do, to get to the next level. Here is the power point, and study guide, please share with your friends.

Power Point

Study Guide

May God bless you in the New Year!

2nd Generation Churches —  December 24, 2012

Hispanic 2nd Generation people are among the largest (percentage wise) unchurched people in the USA. This may be why. (BTW, other inmigrant cultures are struggling with the same issues)

Recent Pew Hispanic Center10 tabulations of the 2009 American Community Survey” found that 62 percent of all Latinos are native-born, that is, they were born in the United States.12 Predictably, another important study revealed that 61 percent of all native-born Latinos were English-dominant, 35 percent were bilingual, while only 4 percent indicated that they were Spanish-dominant.13

These findings were similar to those published in 2005 by a multicultural market research firm that found that English is the undisputed language of preference among 1.5 generation14 and second-generation Latinos and becomes nearly absolute among third-generation Here is the problem. Conventional Spanish-speaking ministry models are unintentionally designed to preserve the language and cultural preferences of foreign-born Latinos.

Sadly, this is usually done at the expense of their native-born English-dominant children and grandchildren. Though they represent more than 60 percent of all Latinos in this country, native-born Latinos, especially those who are English dominant, have been largely ignored by denominational and local church leaders who uncritically equate “Hispanic ministry” with “Spanish-language ministry.”
Daniel A. Rodriguez. A Future for the Latino Church: Models for Multilingual, Multigenerational Hispanic Congregations (Kindle Locations 135-141). Kindle Edition.

Here is what one congregation is doing to change that:

What can be done? Share your thoughts here…

A Sabbath Story —  December 22, 2012

BILL WATSON FLEW into town to interview for a management position at the manufacturing headquarters near the hospital where I was moonlighting. He went out to dinner with six others from the senior staff and enjoyed both the people and the conversation. When his hosts dropped him off at his hotel around 9: 30, he called his wife to tell her how well the process was going. He got ready for bed, brushed his teeth, and then hit a snag: he couldn’t empty his bladder. After dinner, two glasses of wine, two glasses of water, and a cup of coffee, his bladder was full. The problem was his prostate.

The prostate is a gland that lives under a man’s bladder. There it bides its time, quietly going about its business for decades, all the while growing like the national debt. The 50-50 rule applies to this gland: by the time men reach their fifties, half will have an enlarged prostate— a condition known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH. Certain substances make the prostate swell acutely. The alcohol Bill had with dinner caused his prostate to go into overdrive and contract around the tube that drains the bladder. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. On two occasions before, he’d experienced a similar although much less dramatic effect after a glass of wine. In those instances, it had caused a traffic jam, not a complete gridlock.

Once the alcohol wore off, he had been able to empty his bladder without any further problems. Bill said he’d hesitated to have a drink, but he didn’t want to seem prudish when his hosts were obviously enjoying themselves. What he had not figured into the equation was the cold medicine he’d taken before his flight. Together, they had brought his bladder’s drainage system to a complete standstill. Bill ignored his expanding bladder in hopes that it would soon right itself. He turned on the television. One show finished, and another went by. As the late news ended and The Tonight Show began, Bill once again tested the plumbing to see if it was working— but to no avail. He was getting really uncomfortable. Bill checked the system during every commercial break throughout the Late Late Show. When the infomercials began, Bill knew he was in big trouble, but he was in too much agony to drive to the hospital and too embarrassed to call 911.

What would he say when they asked about the nature of his problem? That he was about to explode? Fortunately, Bill had an old friend at his prospective employer. He called and explained the situation. It took another half hour for the friend to arrive at the hotel. After the drive to the hospital, Bill could hardly stand, and he definitely could not sit. I didn’t know Bill Watson existed until the night-shift nurse rang the phone in the call room. The clock numbers glowed 3: 47. “This is Lois,” announced the nurse in the ER. “I’ve got a fifty-seven-year-old man here who just needs his bladder cathed and I’ve got two BP cuffs that aren’t working. I won’t be able do the chart until I go out on the floor and get another blood pressure machine. I’ll call you when I’m finished.” Lois was a new nurse to me, but she seemed to be on top of things. In the old days, the night nurse would have just cathed a patient like this and wouldn’t have even bothered calling the doctor unless the patient needed to be admitted.

Now, it was all about the paperwork. I’d need to chat with the patient and make sure he had follow-up care and then sign his chart, but really it was the nurse who was the hero in these cases. I got out of the narrow bed, went to the bathroom, washed up, and headed to the ER. I detoured by the cafeteria to get a soda and poured it into a large coffee cup. (Hint to new doctors: nobody is reassured by a doctor sipping from a soda can, but drinking what appears to be black coffee is perfectly legit.) When I sauntered into the deserted ER, Lois and the patient were nowhere to be found. They must be up front in the procedure room. I took a gulp of my soda, walked to the procedure room, knocked, and opened the door. Bill Watson was a tough man, yet when I opened the door and saw him rocking and shifting back and forth by the exam table with tears rolling silently down his face, I saw a man ready to give up. Two blood pressure machines were parked in disarray beside the patient bed. The chart was on the end of the bed, waiting to be filled out. My eyes must have gone wide when I realized that Lois had left this suffering man without putting a catheter in him so she could wander around looking for a machine to record his blood pressure. Get a catheter in a man like Bill, drain his bladder, and you’ve got a friend for life. I like having friends. So that is exactly what I did. The bladder wants to empty once it is filled with twelve ounces of fluid or less— about one soda can’s worth.

I drained eight soda cans’ worth of fluid from Bill’s bladder and was well on the way to a twelve pack when Lois finally walked back into the room triumphantly pushing a blood pressure machine. “Can you believe there weren’t any working machines in the department? It was like pulling teeth to get the floor to give me one!” she crowed. Looking for a portable blood pressure machine when what Bill needed was a catheter? Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees! Later, when Lois explained her thinking, she said she was taught not to initiate treatment without getting vital signs first. That makes sense, but the purpose of vital signs is to know what to treat, which in this case was excruciatingly obvious. “If you didn’t want to cath him without the vitals, why didn’t you just call me to do it?” I asked. “Because I knew you would want the vital signs.” She was just doing her job— even if it killed Bill. Lois’s logic is an example of concrete thinking. The reasoning of a concrete thinker is locked in, rigid, and inflexible. We have all known people who seem to have a knack for not getting the point.

They take the letter of the law and lose sight of the intent behind it. The Bible is replete with stories that illustrate this all-too-human propensity. In 24/ 6, we are looking for the intent behind the law. What is the objective of the Fourth Commandment? And can we learn something by reading about its origin? We don’t need to go far into the Bible to discover the origin of the Sabbath: it’s right there on the first page. How the Fourth Commandment Got Added “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2: 1-3, ESV).

In the beginning of the greatest story ever told, we find the inventor of everything taking a rest and enjoying his creation. And like most of the first few chapters of Genesis, this isn’t so much an explanation of how, but of who. The who, of course, is God.

Sleeth, Matthew (2012-10-18). 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life (pp. 31-32). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

In many congregations there seems to exist a generational divide. Jose Rojas explains, from his sociology and practical background, reasons why and action steps to improve that reality. Worth your time,

Have a great day!

Please share.

Pastor Freddy Russell, takes us through the steps necessary to become a Level 5 leader. This was recorded at the Departamental Meetings in Daytona, Fl. Please share with your leaders.

Have a great day,