Monday, September 22, 2014

A Safe Place (what I discovered when I didn't expect it)

On Saturday I returned from the Red Bird Mountain of Kentucky. I had been one on a team of twenty-one persons from NC to travel to Kentucky to work with the Red Bird Mission of Appalachia. It was a great trip filled with many blessings. But it was totally different than I had planned on, which was a good thing, and it was a God thing. I shared in my sermon on Sunday of how what I was looking towards was not what I ended up seeing and that is because God knew what I have been seeking all Summer.

I shared a link below that is an audio recording of Sunday's message. I hope that you will listen to it and if you do I pray that you will be blessed through it. I guess I would title it "Safe Place" because of what one of my teammates and new friend, Jimmy Kennedy said during our closing worship service on Friday night.

 What he shared was also how the trip was going to be different than what he was expecting when he signed on, but he too realized that God was answering his prayers also. Of course those simple words of mine gives no justice to the passionate way in which Jimmy shared it with all of us that night in Beverly Church. As soon as he said what he said the brightest gate opened before my eyes and I immediately realized that God was speaking to me through Jimmy, because he said the same thing that I was feeling but couldn't discern what I was feeling other than I knew I was safe and I was happy.

Another blessing of this trip I would like to share with you is that each night a core group of us would gather at the camp fire there at the Work Camp. Each night we shared God stories, life stories, stories, and we shared laughter and a few times we shared tears. We grew together as we realized that we have became a community, we became a family. Some find it at a table, a church, or on a team, but we found it all just gather around a camp fire.

I am glad that we had no cell service at Red Bird. I don't believe that we would have experienced all that we experienced if we had kept looking at our phones every second.

I share a special word with those who are now the Citizens of the Campfire Community; I am so blessed to have spent so much time with you all, and to have been honored to hear so many of your stories, and to have shared some of mine. I love you and hope that someday we can gather at a camp fire again.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Worry vs Cocern

"Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" Matthew 6:27 (NLT)

  Two years ago while in a church meeting I experience one of the most excruciating pain begin in my back (no jokes please)  in the area of my right shoulder blade and travel right on through. No matter what I did the pain would not go away. Over night it eased up somewhat and my initial thoughts was a pulled muscle. However, a day or so later, I began coughing up blood. Having x-rays done found a spot on my right lung and the PA examining me shared his thoughts that he believed it was cancer but that I would need to follow up with my doctor.

  Thus began a period of immobility. The thought of cancer totally brought me to a standstill. As soon as the PA said "cancer", my worrying began and the worrying was so over-powering that I couldn't think clearly, I couldn't talk clearly, and basically I couldn't function clearly. The worries took control of my life, or a better way of saying it is that I allowed the worries to control my life. In a way I would be willing to say that the 'worry' became my little "g" god; something we allow to be at the forefront of our lives, to take the place or to shadow our big "G" God. Yep, I ate my own words.

  Now my wife, Donna, went down a different avenue. She didn't let the worry control her or us. She was concerned of course, but she allowed her concern to move her into action. So while I was waiting on phone calls from doctor offices to let me what to do next, she was busy on the computer trying to get me an appointment with a lung specialist, which she did.

  Donna's actions got me going again and focused on finding the problem and hopefully a solution. Long story short, after many tests, some extreme, the specialist decided it was a lung infection which damage one of the air-sac thingy in my lung.

  I'm sharing this to remind us that Jesus told us not to worry about those needs that God has promised to provide. Should we be concerned about certain things and certain situations? Sure, we can be concern. But worrying will not help the situation if it brings us to a stand still and unable to function. It'll become our worship. As a commentary I read puts it: "Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern--worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action."

  A fellow pastor once preached that you can pray and not worry, or you can worry and not pray, but you can't do both. I understood that clearly, but I still stumbled, but God did not.

Grace and Peace

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Surprise Surprise Surprise

As we read through the Bible we sometime find ourselves having a special connection with the people in the stories. The story of Peter's escape from prison is such a connectional place for me. it begins with Peter being arrested and thrown into prison to await trial in the very near future by King Herod, who had gotten his kicks recently by having James killed which pleased the crowds. He was hoping evidently to entertain them again through killing Peter.

We are told that the church (the Christians) were praying earnestly to God for Peter. The Lord heard their prayers and he sent an angel who freed Peter from his bonds and led him out of the prison. When Peter realizes he's free he heads to John's momma's house, where a bunch of the believers had gotten together to pray. Then story gets sort of funny.

Peter knocks on the gate, and a girl named Rhoda came to see who was at the door.  She recognizes Peter, was so excited, she didn't think to open the gate, but instead ran back inside and told the others that "Peter is at the door!" But instead of believing her, these earnestly praying folk said, "You're out of your mind." That's the funny part. She keeps insisting that Peter is at the door, so they finally go to see who it is themselves and when they see that it is Peter they are flabbergasted, shocked, amazed, and any other synonyms that goes alone with the New International Version's word "astonished".

Now lets backtrack a little. We were told early in the story that after Peter was thrown into prison that the church was earnestly praying for Peter. Well that earnestly have some special meaning here.

Look up the word earnestly and you will find that it means:  Serious in intention, purpose, or effort; sincerely zealous: showing depth and sincerity of feeling: Seriously important; demanding or receiving serious attention. Full seriousness, as of intention or purpose: to speak in earnest.

What I'm trying to get across to you is that they were praying like crazy! They were praying like they wanted God to save Peter. They were praying like they believed that God would save Peter. They were praying like they knew God was hearing them. But when Peter showed up at the door, their jaws fell to the floor. As the old saying goes, "Been there; done that."

As you would imagine, I'm a regular prayer and I know the Lord is listening and I believe that he answers our prayers in his own way, in his own time, and not always the way we want them answered. But what about those times when we are praying for special intervention on a particular issue and BAM! Everything you asked for is answered and everything falls into place. Are we flabbergasted? Well, yeah, sometimes. At least I am.

What does that say about me? To be honest; when it happens like that I feel a little ashamed and I lower my head in the presence of the Lord. I know if I pray for God to get involved, then I pray with earnest passion knowing that God is hearing me and believing that he will get involved. I may slip and when I do I also believe that God giggles at me.

I am glad that I worship my great and almighty God; a God of surprises.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Walking We Will Go

Ever since I came back from my first Walk to Emmaus back in 2004 I have had the wonderful blessing, as strange as it may seem to some, to carry a cross. It's a wooden cross with a wheel on the end of it. I have carried it around Clinton and Roseboro on many occasions, and other towns on a few occasions. I have also carried with me into many churches that I have preached revival services and such.

Photo shared on Facebook
credited to Karen Owen not
far from Clinton.
Each time I find myself walking with the cross, there seems to be different reasons. Sometimes I feel an urgency to walk with it. Other times I feel a personal need to walk with it, and times when I'm using it for a point during a sermon.

On those occasions when I feel a personal need to walk is when I feel a particular quietness in my spiritual life. Like those times when I don't think I have heard God in a while and desire to hear His spiritual voice or to receive a special message. So in a way, I am using the cross like an antenna, hoping to get a better reception, sort of the way we use to move the rabbit ear antenna around or go outside and rotate the pole antenna until mom would say, "That's good!".                                                                  

I see the cross that I carry as an in-motion visible reminder of the love of Jesus Christ. If they see a cross sticking in the ground beside a church, a person may not give it a second glance or a single thought. But when they see a crazy fella walking beside the streets and through parking lots, I feel confident that they will at least take a second glance, and just perhaps, they will remember the faith they once knew if they have wandered.

In the mind of some it may be crazy to some for someone to carry a cross down the street. To others, it is amazing and inspiring to see it. To myself, it is an inspired ministry. It isn't courage on my part. Before each walk I have to really pray for the Lord to give me the strength because I don't want to do it. It's always a sense of embarrassment that I have to overcome each time.

Some have claimed that I do it for personal attention. It is never about me, but about the power of the Holy Spirit to lead me to carry it.

This past Saturday I carried the cross from Roseboro to Clinton. The purpose of the walk was to raise funds for a mission trip to the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky in September. The goal was to walk from Roseboro UMC to Grace UMC in Clinton, a total of 13.4 miles. I made it all the way to the post office in Clinton, a total of 11 miles. My feet being blistered made the decision for me not to go any further. Still it was a success.

Hwy 24, the route that I took on the Roseboro/Clinton walk was extremely busy. I have no doubt thousands of people traveled past me going West and East. Those who know me, saw Bobby Herring carrying a cross. Those who did not know me saw a man carrying the cross. Over two thousand years ago, thousands of people in a city called Jerusalem saw a man carrying a cross, and the world hasn't been the same since.

If all us who proclaim that we are Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ, carried our crosses as Christ commanded of us, maybe we could continue to turn the world upside down for the glory of the kingdom of God. Of course, the cross you are called to carry isn't a wooden cross with a wheel on the end of it, but still a cross you are to carry.

"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it."  Mark 8:34-35 (NRSV).

I have attached a link to my sermon from this past Sunday, day after my long walk. First time sharing a recording on the internet. Sometime have to be a first time. Hope you who listens to it will receive a blessing as I received when I preached it.