Archives For May 2013

Ode to Kathy.

imprrh@gmail.com —  May 10, 2013

Today was a rough day. Two weeks ago my wife tore a ligament in her ankle. When she went to get x-rays, a tumor was detected in her leg. Today she went to the doctor, to see if it was cancerous.

Last night was rough. As the impending diagnosis loomed, I reflected on Kathy’s life, our children, our ministry, and marriage. Here is what I reflected on.

1. Kathy is a mother. She came from an abusive home with a traumatic situation, but since she was very young she was a mother to her sister. When she had children of her own she loved and cared for them with grace and justice. It was not enough for her to be a mother to 2 children, she willingly and purposefully convinced her husband we needed to double the amount of children we had. Two teenagers came, and changed our life. I have seen her stay up and talk for hours, spend time journaling and praying for them. She lovingly confronts and willingly transports. She is a mother.

2. Kathy is a mentor. Not only has Kathy been a great mother, she has also been a mentor. More than one time, we have had teenagers living in our home that she took interest in. This year is her 20th year in ministry to teens. Some of the teens she mentored are pastor’s wives, others are successful teachers, business people and mothers and fathers of their own. She did not choose to do her work in the spotlight. She just drove, picked up kids, brought them to vespers, had vespers, drove them home, for 20 years. She is a mentor.

3. Kathy is my wife. As the time for the diagnosis drew near, I became anxious. Right before we went to bed, she kissed me. That kiss meant more than other days. Tomorrow our lives could be totally different. All the ministry plans, all the vacation intentions, it could all change in 10 minutes. She is my partner. She has made me a better man, husband, pastor, Christian. She would be irreplaceable.  She is my wife.

The doctor gave us the news. The tumor is benign. Crisis averted. Of all the great things Kathy is, the greatest one, at least today, is hearing the doctor say: She is healthy.

It will be a happy Sabbath indeed. Happy mother’s day, to Kathy and all the mothers in the world.

 

Guest Blogger today:

Always looking for new approaches to evangelism. Here is one…

Here at Atlanta Berean we were recently blessed to have a week long evangelism series brought to us by Pastor Roger Hernandez. I would like to take a few minutes to share with you my point of view on the process, methods, and results.

In my time in ministry I have found that many of us, with a heart to save souls, are on a desperate search for something that “works”. Whether it be methods or processes, techniques or approaches, we talk for days and print a forests worth of papers, books, pamphlets and brochures in effort to find what “works”. Well after praying and working for and with Pastor Hernandez, I believe he has found what “works”.

In one week Pastor Hernandez was able to delineate all the truths we hold dear as Christians and as Seventh-day Adventists in a way that was non-confrontational, easy to accept, and inviting. It pointed the audience, not to different methods, but to the One who could give them healing inside and out. His sincerity, conviction and “it’s worked for me” appeal, coupled with his conversational and relaxed delivery created an atmosphere where those on a quest for hope were able to see clearly that hope is only found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

This series has resulted in a great number of baptisms and an even greater number of changed lives, apparently it “works”. It worked because He modeled with his speech, and with his life the ministry of Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit Pastor Roger Hernandez brought to life Jesus’ words in John 12:32 “if I am lifted up… I will draw all men to myself”.

God Bless.

Pastor Jeremiah Sepolen

Associate Pastor

Atlanta Berean SDA

One of the greatest temptations of a leader is to do, and neglect empowering. An old saying describes many leaders: If you want it done right, do it yourself.  One of the best known examples in the  Bible is Moses. After a morning of observation, his father in law had a talk with him about his work habits. (I’m sure he loved that!) He tells Moses:

Exodus 18:17 “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. 18 “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.

Here are three principles on the benefits of empowering others:

1. Empowerment is not delegation. One of the most frustrating feelings a follower can have, is to have responsibility without authority.  Delegation merely says, “here, do this”. Empowerment gives the assignment, the instructions and the power to change, adapt and improve it. It takes longer, but in the end, its results are better.  I once sat in a church, waiting for the service to start. The pastor was sitting next to me in a back room. People would continually stream in, and ask the pastor a myriad of questions, from water level in the baptistery, parking, and service participants. It was obvious the pastor felt good about everything having to run through him. I only wondered what would happen if the pastor, like Christopher Reeve (superman) fell of a horse and had to be out for an extended period of time.

2. Empowerment creates ownership. The easiest way, one that both leaders and many followers prefer, is for the leader to give a list of assignments. We love to-do lists. What should I do? What decision should I make?  What would you do in my place? An important part of empowerment is to ask good questions. When we ask questions instead of just giving advice, we teach people to think for themselves, empowering them. Pastors especially, find it very tempting to spend their lives giving advice, which is faster, than to let people reflect on the choices, and process information for themselves.

3. Empowerment leaves a legacy. Because our ego is involved in most everything we do, it feels good when we are absent from our responsibility and people tell us how terrible it was when we were gone. An empowering leader, is one that will leave a post and things won’t fall apart. This means, that sometimes things have to go terribly wrong, in order for people to step up and rectify. When a leader continually steps in and takes upon himself/herself responsibilities, instead of empowering followers, the end product will always be mediocre. If you continually step in, your people will never grow. I see pastors opening the doors of the church, getting the heat going, working the sound system, etc. Nothing wrong with doing that, but I am pretty sure other people can be a part of the team and grow into their assignment, instead of you doing everything yourself.

There are no super heroes, with super powers. Just empowering leaders, who bring the best in others, and help them go further than even they thought was possible.

Change. Different. Not the same. Other. Those are words that we speak about but don’t really like. Change is hard. Especially when WE are involved!

Jonah was an interesting character. He was doing his thing, in a small town. Solid guy. Faithful. Constant. Then God (as he usually does) messed his whole life up. He called him to change three things:

Jonah 1:1 The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.

1. Change in location. Jonah was a good small parish pastor. He had family in town. He was well liked. He knew the people and the people knew him. Then God “ruins” his best laid plans.  He told him to go where no one knew, liked, respected or was related to him, at great peril to his life. What if God did that to you? Would you go? I believe with some of you, he has been telling you: “Don’t get comfortable. You won’t be here much longer”.

2. Change in his ministry objective. God told Jonah to change his target. He went from a small town prophet to a mission to the big city. A large city that needed to hear from God. A city that had been abandoned. Much like Jonah’s contemporaries, we have also abandoned the cities. Instead of leaving the city, we must be loving the city. God gave him two reasons to go:

a. It is a large city. (potential for great impact)

b. It is wicked. (great need for God)

That call hasn’t changed. Large cities are not to be left alone. We must give the last warning.

3. Change in strategy.  God told Jonah to “get up and go”. That was strange. The people of Israel didn’t “go”. Others came. Others were invited in. You come to us, not us to you, was the modus operandi. God calls him to a paradigm shift. To a different strategy. He wanted Jonah to understand that our job is not so much to bring people to church, but to take church to the people. Is God calling you to use a different strategy? Are you afraid? Please don’t do like Jonah, who “bought a ticket” to go a different way. Many of our people are paying NOT to do what God told them to, which is to share Jesus.

If this short devotional has been a blessing or if you need me to pray for a life or career change, leave your request in the comment section. Remember: Don’t get comfortable. You won’t be here much longer”.

 

Bastardo:
Es una palabra muy fuerte, especialmente si te queda como anillo al dedo. Ese soy yo, un hijo ilegítimo de padre desconocido. Bueno, así me define el mundo.
No entrará bastardo en la congregación de Jehová, ni aún hasta la décima generación…” De chico leí eso en la biblia y me partió el corazón en mil pedazos. Nunca dije nada, nunca pregunté nada.
Toda mi vida viví con esa vergüenza. Crecí con rabia y odio en mi corazón. Solo soñaba con vengarme. Nadie lo sabia, pero lentamente pudría por dentro.  Hasta que llegó mi hora. A los 23 años tuve la oportunidad de conocerlo… a ese hombre. Vengaría todo el dolor de mi mama y el mío. Nunca imagine que haría lo que hice.
Pero primero lo primero…
Estas son las historias que me llevaron a aquel día, y más allá. Esto fue lo que aprendí por causa de El.

“¡No! ¿Me voy a desmayar?”  -pensé
“¡No, no puede ser! ¡No puede ser! ¡No me puedo rajar, en frente de toda esta gente no me puedo rajar!”
Pude notar que el gigante era un boxeador. Muchas veces al entrenar boxeo, sentía esos mismos músculos, en mi espalda, adoloridos el siguiente día. Y éste animalote los tenia súper desarrollados como piedras. Tan rápido como un relámpago, pensamientos empezaron a inundar mi mente….
“¿Qué voy a hacer? Hay cámaras por todas partes y esto será transmitido a todo el mundo.”
Le llamé a mis compañeros por el radio, pero no veía a nadie. ¡Me había metido en un problemota! Decidí que no le podía mostrar que tenia miedo.

“Pero ¿como no va a ver quien tengo miedo? si ya me andaba desmayando”…(pensé) Y el tipo ni me había tocado …. “Pero tal vez no se notó.”
Luego recuerdo que vi su mano derecha. Y su puño era literalmente del tamaño de los míos… ¡De los dos juntos! ¡Híjole! Ya me veía en las noticias de la noche tirado en la alfombra roja noqueado. Empecé a visualizar su puño destrozándome la quijada. Hasta empecé a relajarla, comencé a inhalar por la nariz preparándome para el golpe. El tiempo se hacia eterno y nadie llegaba.
A mi me habían enseñado que si estaba en una pelea de mano a mano y no había salida, que me pegara lo mas posible a la persona para que no agarraran tanto vuelo los puños y para disminuir el efecto de los golpes. Así que me acerque más a el hasta que estábamos pecho sobre pansa. Sentía que pasaba tanto tiempo… Yo le gritaba que se hiciera para atrás pero ahora él me respondía…
“¿Qué vas a hacer al respecto?”
“¡Te voy a arrestar si no te haces hacia atrás!” le gritaba
Yo no se porque razón lo hice ….. pero lo empujé fuerte con mi pecho
“Madre mía, ¿qué estoy haciendo? Señor, ayúdame por favor” dije en silencio
No me podía rajar porque iba a quedar mal enfrente de todo mundo ahí. Luego, que dirían mis fans, perdón, las fans. Buscaba que no me estuvieran filmando las cámaras de televisión porque no quería que me noquearan por tele. Pero al fin llego mi rescate.
Llegaron tres de mis compañeros corriendo (Arthur, D’Andre, y Héctor) y todos lo acorralamos. Mis piernitas empezaron a recuperar las fuerzas. Pero lo increíble era que mientras lo estábamos rodeando todos parecíamos enanos comparados con el. Silenciosamente me fui haciendo a un lado porque mi plan era patear sus piernas, mientras no viera, para que todos nos echáramos sobre él. Pero cuando estaba a punto de hacerlo, el se voltea rápidamente a mi y de nuevo siento mis rodillas a punto de doblarse de nuevo.
Al fin Arthur, otro grandote de 37 años, lo empujó y entre todos lo tumbamos. ¡Al fin! Lo que habían parecido ser veinte minutos solo fueron como dos. Pero lo habíamos tumbado. Tome mis esposas para arrestarlo, pero al tratar de ponérselas descubrí otro problema … que no le quedaban. Sus muñecas estaban demasiado grandes. Y ahí nos tienes a todos, arriba de él por cinco minutos hasta que llego mi director, para que el solito se lo llevara…. Tenia mucho que aprender todavía.
A mis hijos les gustara esta historia. Y aprovecharía para contarles lo que aprendí.

1.  “Nunca te rajes, es mejor que te tumben a que te rajes” Eso lo he escuchado muchas veces. Pero no es tan fácil como suena. Lo que yo te aconsejo es que nunca es tarde para corregir algo. Pensándolo bien, hubiera sido mucho mas fácil sonreír y decirle calladitamente “me equivoqué al tratar de tumbarte, por favor no me mates” que tener que enfrentarme a ese monstruote.
2. Se sentía muy bien cuando hablaba y las mujeres que estaban ahí me admiraban. Las escuchaba decir cosas agradables de mi, me hacían sentir como un hombre poderoso. Creo que lo humille a propósito para hacerme ver superior y para que me admiraran más. Pero lo que logré fue que me humillaran a mi. Me sentí como un fracasado después de lo sucedido. Después de eso me desaparecí a temblar sin que nadie me viera en mi oficina. La biblia dice… “Pues, ¿busco ahora el favor de los hombres, o el de Dios? ¿O trato de agradar a los hombres? Pues si todavía agradara a los hombres, no sería siervo de Cristo.” Gal 1:10
La biblia tiene tantos consejos y uno la lee como si fuera un mandado, cualquiera que hay que hacer en la casa. El consejo mas fácil de recordar es este… “Así que en todo traten ustedes a los demás tal y como quieren que ellos los traten a ustedes. Mat 7:12” A esta regla le llamamos la regla de oro, y si que lo vale. Tómala, que es un regalo de tu Padre del Cielo.

El único regalo que he recibido de mi padre, ha sido un rollo de queso del tamaño de un XBOX, no un XBOX… Un rollo de queso. Les cuento…

(Este es un pequeno preview del libro a salir proximamente por Hugo Yin.) Mas informacion pronto!

GOD’S CITY: MY CITY  Reflection

Atuanya Cheatham DuBreuil

 

 

Thonotosassa SDA Church chose to take in the God’s City: My City evangelistic plan by breaking up the 6 small group lessons into prayer meeting discussions on Wednesday evenings and sermon themes for Sabbath morning services.  The 40-days of prayer “devotionals” were done individually and/or with a prayer partner.  A little under a week before completing the 40-days of prayer, our first evangelistic series of the year was under way, “David & Goliath: GIANTS Fall.”

 

While I was blessed by the book, and I was definitely blessed by the evangelistic series that followed, I believe that this was a good introduction and a call to a greater and deeper understanding and experience of true evangelism on both a personal and a corporate level.  We need to do this again . . . but go deeper, be more thorough, and aim higher.

 

First, we should invite people to form their own (organic/affinity) small groups to meet, pray, and study and discuss the lessons for at least a full hour once a week in a way that works well for them.  We could also set aside at least 1 adult Sabbath School class (or even a youth class) for that purpose for those who don’t have a natural affinity group to join up with.  Assigning groups puts everyone in a group on paper, but establishing effective group dynamics can sometimes distract from the primary purpose of really getting into the lessons and the evangelistic mission at hand.

 

In those small groups, prayer is key, but really taking the time to discuss practical applications of the lessons in the lives of the group members is important, as well.  Engaging the city, inviting the city, serving the city, etc. looks different for a working mom, or a retired couple, or a high school student, or a military officer.  But in addition to brainstorming practical applications, the group can  a) plan whole group strategies that they are going to execute together, and/or b) hold one another accountable for individual action plans they have committed to carrying out.

 

Second, while evangelistic meetings can be effective ways to plant, cultivate, or reap a harvest of souls, we should consider offering those messages in a variety of formats.  Today, via the internet and Wi-Fi connections, people can access whatever they want, whenever and wherever; attending a 12-night series during the workweek at a church, especially if they are un-churched, may be asking too much from someone who may not even be entirely interested or committed to addressing their spiritual existence.  However, if we can offer a live and archived video stream online of the series, as well as make DVDs available for members to share with others, we can bring the evangelistic series to our un-churched friends, family members, and co-workers on their terms and in a possibly less-intimidating or inconvenient location than a church.

 

Finally, we all love stories about Pentecost or missionaries in foreign lands where hundreds and thousands are baptized in a day.  They are inspiring, impressive, and occasionally a sore reproach against our own spiritual deficiency, it would seem.  However, these are all reaping stories; who knows how much labor was expended prior to this time in planting and cultivating and nurturing and praying and pleading and building relationships, etc.  And this is not to say that we should not expect “great things” from God; we should!!!!  However, as we study, pray, plan, and execute those plans at God’s leading, we should always remember that God has called us to obedience and faithfulness; He brings about the growth and the harvest.  If we faithfully and diligently do our part, He will take care of the numbers.  J