Archives For February 2013

Guest Blogger- Willy Ramos

imprrh@gmail.com —  February 14, 2013

One of my best friends, a wonderful human being and committed follower of Jesus. His new book is out. Get it!  He blogs today. His books are on special for quantity. Really great deal. Get some.

“Beware of Snakes”

by Willy Ramos

The other day my son and I were “shooting hoops” outside on our driveway. I did 3 front flips, (like a ninja) bounced off my car, did a back flip with my tongue sticking out like Jordan, slammed dunked the basketball, and shattered the glass backboard like if I was Shaquille O’Neal. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating (just a little). But, my son did call me Kobe. Or, he might’ve said he wanted to go to the Japanese Steakhouse restaurant, by the same name. Anyways, when the ball came down, it almost hit one of the roses I have planted in my front yard. So, I moved the portable basketball backboard closer to the street, and away from my bootleg little garden.

 

Then, a snake popped out and tried to slither away to our backyard. I screamed and shielded my body with my son. Just kidding. Though, I did scream! I quickly opened the garage door, grabbed a shovel, and killed the anaconda, saving my son’s life, and the lives of my wife and neighbors. My wife says it was just a small garden snake the size of an infant’s shoelace, but I felt like a superhero, none the less. 

 

That reminds me of our first parents, who also dealt with a Snake, six thousand years ago, in a place called Eden. Adam and Eve were inseparable. Except for the time Adam went to pick some roses for his mamasita, while Eve was out talking to a flying reptile. (Now, I don’t know about you, but if an animal talks to me and Dr. Dolittle is not there to translate, I’M RUNNING!) Especially, if that animal is not a parrot!        

 

                Now, when the Bible says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” 1 I think It means, EVER. We were never meant to isolate ourselves from the real world. We need each other. Example, if Adam was with Eve, at the time the Devil was tempting her, he could’ve told her, “Don’t do it! There’s something fishy going on. I named the serpent and the serpent does NOT talk!”  

 

                But, he wasn’t with her and Eve took a bite from the mango. (I wouldn’t sin for an apple. So, I refuse to believe Eve did. Now, warm apple pie with ice cream; that’s a different story!) Did you know Ellen White says that the serpent plucked the fruit and put it in her hand? 2 Eve never went for it, but she took it. The same thing happens to us, huh? Satan knows Christian teens will never go the bodegato buy some beer, or to the street corner to buy some weed. But, if someone offers it to them at a party; then maybe. Don’t take it!

 

                If you are tempted to take something, though, borrow my shovel. And, stomp that slimy Snake in the head with it. Oh wait. Jesus already did that for you on Calvary.

 

________________________________________________           

 

1. Gen. 2:18

2. Patriarchs and Prophets (Ellen G. White) page 30

Harold Altamirano shares the good, the bad and the ugly from church planting.

I really recommend you take a look.  Video is coming soon.

http://www.slideshare.net/RogerHernandez6/five-church-planting-lessons

Blessings,

I hate the Redskins. On Sundays in the fall, I root for the Cowboys and whomever the Redskins are playing. Needless to say, this year has not been a great one for us Cowboy fans, as we saw a rookie QB shred our defense and lead his team to victory. Twice. (and the playoffs!)





Yet, there are some lessons to be learned about youth, success, and risk taking, even from division rivals. The main lesson I want to leave with you in regard to youth involvement, is this: (I stole this phrase from my good friend Jose Cortes Jr.)

The future is now.

RGIII. Andrew Luck. Russell Wilson. All first year players. All doing exceptionally well. All have taken their teams to the playoffs in their rookie year. Gone are the days, that rookie QB’s had to sit patiently behind the incumbent, for 3-4 years, holding a clipboard. Now they hold the title: Starter.

A while back, I had the chance to sit down with several young adults, and listen to their thoughts on the church, involvement, disconnection, frustration. It was a very candid conversation. Some are faithful in attendance. Some are not. Some have rejected the church of their youth altogether. All wanted to talk. From the conversation, I gathered the following three lessons.

1. Give them a chance, now. One young adult, that left the church around 10 years ago, asked me a pointed question:

            “Do you have young people in place in management positions at all levels of the church?”

I answered truthfully (and painfully), and then thought to myself: Why don’t we? Maybe the reason is that we have equated youth with inexperience and think that age translates into effectiveness. Truth is, your age doesn’t automatically mean you’re able. Or mature. Or effective. This could be remedied, if we wanted to. I have decided, in my circle of influence, to do the following:

1. Mentor young pastors.

2. Create events that will develop them.

3. Speak on the topic everywhere I go. I use my platform to encourage leadership to look for young, gifted, spiritual leaders that can lead now.

2.  Frustration is real. It can be a double-edge sword. The frustration in the room was palpable. Frustration about inflexibility. Frustration about mayoring in minors. Frustration about red tape, even at the local church level. Frustration pushed some of them to join other local Adventist churches, to leave the church, to become passive members in the church they attend, or to a select few, to start a brand new church. The question is, what outlets are in place in your congregation to deal with the frustration? They don’t need you pity or condescension. They need your attention.

3. Listen. I did. It was hard to not get defensive. I had to bite my tongue a couple of times. But one mayor problem we have is that we talk too much. Young people have information overload. But no one listens to them. I invite you to set up times, appointments, events that will have the express intention of listening. Listen first. Then guide.

Let’s keep doing all we can for this generation. Ask for their clipboard. Give them your support.

This semminar is practical, relevant and powerful. It speaks to a felt need in all of us, of seeking God;s presence. From the 2013 Ministerium.  Enjoy!

http://www.thesouthernunion.com/audio/ministerium/A-Passion-for-Gods-Presence.mp3

respectfully submit my name to be considered as Pastor-Evangelist in your church.

 

I have had an extensive and varied experience in a number of churches and am very comfortable in multi-cultural situations.  My linguistic skills are more than adequate for clear communication.

I am very thankful for a solid biblical and theological education.  The training I received in our church’s educational system has proven more than adequate for the professional challenges I have faced.

Humbly, I would express gratitude for the opportunity to have served on the boards and highest council of the denomination.

 
That which brings me the highest joy, however, is serving as a Pastor-Evangelist—to reach the unreached.  Since the time of my conversion, I have had the privilege of planting nearly a dozen churches.  My tenure has been limited in most of them because of the need in nearby districts and the compelling call of Christ to take to Gospel to non-Christian populations.  Accordingly, it has been my privilege to have served four terms of mission service.

I have used a variety of evangelistic modalities:  public discourse, one-on-one witnessing, house-to-house visitation, even public debate with non-believers (though I question the productivity of the latter).  My emphasis on discipleship has resulted in the training of countless local lay leaders and the mentorship of several who have become pastors in their own right.

From the extent of my experience, you may surmise that I am nearing retirement.  The truth is, I know that completion of my ministerial service will not be long in coming.  However, any of those who have worked with me can attest that my energy and zeal for Christ and His kingdom has not diminished with the years.

As I am unable to attach a photo to this e-mail, permit me a limited, if biased, personal description.  I am of a ‘solid’ build and short of stature (“vertically challenged” is the term).  What hair that remains is mostly gray.  I need to disclose that I have a ‘handicap’—my eyesight was compromised when I was a young adult before I became a committed Christian.  I am not ashamed of that because the incident really provoked me to examine the claims of Christ on my life and resulted in my complete conversion.  The associate pastors with whom I have worked have been most gracious to assist me with reading and corresponding with my congregations and church leadership.

As you check with the persons listed on my reference sheet, you will doubtless be informed that I am strong-minded and controversial at times (and they are justified in saying so).  I have deep convictions about the priority of spreading the Gospel and working with the needs of our new believers.  You will also likely hear of my parting ways with an associate, some years ago, resulting from a disagreement between us over an intern.  I have reflected on that extensively in the intervening years and believe I took too strong a position at that time.  I now look on the issue differently and have initiated and accomplished reconciliation.  Nevertheless, you will discover that controversy seems to follow me—people seem to love me or hate me, strongly. 

In the spirit of full disclosure, if you check my background, you will also uncover that I have a rather lengthy rap sheet and have even been the focus of a couple of riots. 

My case was of such a nature that it was even brought to the attention of the Governor.   Because of finances and other considerations, it was necessary that I speak in my own defense (which I prefer not to do).  Just the same, I felt more comfortable because I believe the issues were more about the Lord than about me.  All this has resulted in protracted trials, with appeals, still in process.  On the positive side, it has afforded me the opportunity to witness to many of those ‘in the system.’  So, you can add Prison Ministries to my resume. 

More than once my life has been in danger.  Without sounding paranoid, I can state that while there has been more than one attempt on my life, God has been faithful and spared me.

There will be those who accuse me of disrupting the culture of our church, changing the worship style (these are mere peripheral issues) or even of challenging the fundamental beliefs.   My only burden is to lead people into a faith-relationship with Christ, even if that generates conflict for me.  I cannot ignore or leave un-followed the call God laid on me.

Because this may generate controversy among those who question whether Tithe should be used to fund my ministerial service, it has been best that I maintain a parallel professional career to provide means of support.  This way, no church funds are expended on my behalf and no one can be accused of using the Lord’s resources unwisely.

Despite the previously mentioned disclosures, I have experience in peace-making and conciliation. I seek to align my life with the value of “seeking peace with all men” and encourage others to follow that principle.

I believe God can use me to win souls in your community and would request of you the opportunity of serving as your pastor.

References:

 

·         James  Barjoseph, Conference President, Jerusalem

·         Peter Barjona, Elder, Jerusalem, Israel

·         Joses Barnabus, Evangelist, Jerusalem, Israel

·         Agabus, Prophet, Jerusalem, Israel

·         John Mark, Evangelist, Jerusalem, Israel

·         Dr. Luke, Physician-Evangelist, Rome, Italy

·         Philemon, Businessman, Colossae , Turkey

·         Aquila and Pricilla, Lay-Evangelists, Ephesus , Turkey

How to Speak UNCHURCHED

imprrh@gmail.com —  February 6, 2013


My wife, daughter and sister in law were driving cross country, from Virginia to Oregon. On Sabbath, they had to stop in the state of _______________ and decided to attend church there. They pulled in with their U-Haul truck, also towing a car. Nothing says “I’m from somewhere that is NOT here” like a U-Haul! They were lukewarmly greeted at the door, skated down the aisle, endured worship by themselves in the pew, and left without being invited to lunch. This was a medium size church, next to an academy, a church that seemed healthy. I wonder, how many times that lack of intentionality is repeated in churches across the land every week.

No one believes they have an anti-visitor church. Very few people describe their congregation as cold. I can’t imagine that church members purposefully want to send an anti-social message to newcomers. Yet it happens all the time. Here are 3 things you can do, to become a visitor friendly church:

1. Connect with people at times OTHER THAN the regularly scheduled opportunities. There are three times people usually get greeted:
a. When they come in.
b. At the “welcome” portion of the service.
c. As they leave.

It’s the rest of the time that sends a message whether you are a friendly church or not. In the three times I mentioned, you are REQUIRED to be friendly.

When you make an effort to connect outside those, the chances of them returning increase. It’s a sin for a visitor to sit by themselves. That’s right, I said it. A sin.

2. Be sensitive in the “welcome” portion of the service. Who likes to stand up, and remain standing, while 200 eyeballs are on them? The answer is…NOBODY! In a survey with visitors, this practice is what they despised the most. To complicate matters even further, (at least in Hispanic churches) they call visitors the “flowers” of the congregation that day. That sends two wrong messages:

a. The members are the thorns. Maybe accurate, but no need to rub it in.
b. Pancho, the hard drinking macho man, does not like being called a delicate flower!

This practice is done more for us than for them. Stop it.

3. Assume people know stuff, or overload them with information. Both extremes are equally annoying. Visitors don’t speak Adventese. They don’t know what words like camp meeting, ABC, AY, elders, or Conference mean. Please speak English, with a smile. Keep announcments short. I have made my case before, that next to Chinese water torture, announcements were probably created by Jesuits that have infiltrated our church. They must have been. Please: this is not 1812. People can read. Give them a bulletin and maybe an announcement or two BEFORE the service is over.

Hoping that these suggestions can improve our visitor retention. What are other ways you purposefully connect with newcomers?

Want to add to the discussion? Send your best ideas for interacting with new members and visitors to bpevangelism@gmail.com

This was one of the messages that got most traction at the Ministerium. Very powerful, from one of the most successful evangelists in the Adventist church. His story on the new worker on the chocolate factory still sticks with me to this day.

Listen here:

http://www.thesouthernunion.com/audio/ministerium/Pastors-Can-Also-Be-Saved.mp3

Have a blessed day,




At the Southern Union Ministerium, we had several great workshops. Here is one on worship, by Adriana Perera, a music teacher at Oakwood University.

The Title is: Levites in the XXI Century.
http://www.thesouthernunion.com/audio/ministerium/Levites-in-the-XXI-Century-The-Challenge.mp3

This is the power point:
http://www.thesouthernunion.com/audio/ministerium/presentations/Levites-in-the-XXI-Century.pdf

 Enjoy,

We will post more each week,