The Lord, My Shepherd!

     Today, in some personal, alone time with the Lord, I was led to the 23rd Psalm.  I believe the Lord’s lead to this treasure has had something to do with Ms. Dot Willis’ passing yesterday.  Surely she had a grand Homecoming in Heaven.

     But as I was reading the passage, I was reminded of the Greatness of our Good Shepherd.  I am probably as guilty as anyone else, in that it is usually in the passing of someone that we rely so much on Psalm 23.  In fact, it is often the most widely read at memorial services and burials.  But day by day, do we truly believe, realize, and confess that God is our Shepherd?  Do we allow Him to direct and guide without reservation?  Is our cry, “not my will, but Yours be done, today.” 

     What a joy when God has the helm of our life.  He can make sense of it all, and even if we don’t understand, He promises the peace that passes understanding.  He remains and He is near.  Right now, in your life, is He your Good Shepherd?  I know that He desires to be – for all of us.  Right now, let’s pray for a yielding to the Holy Spirit, that we might know intimately the Good Shepherd of souls.


The Mission

     Nothing about the Mission is easy.  It is not meant, intended, or promised to be.  It is not words alone – it is both fueled and energized by action; by action that is motivated by love.

     Look at the word usage, especially the verbs:  “to go…to make…to baptize…to teach (others) to obey…”  As Jesus speaks these words He is addressing those who believed, those who had received, those who had remained.  The Spirit of God had not yet been poured out yet – Pentecost was to come and come in a mighty way.  But Jesus had told them that “they would receive power” at that appointed time.  Until then, the action verbs of the Great Commission would remain somewhat obscure.  Interestingly, Jesus ushers these words as His final instructions to the community – to the church that He would empower, equip, launch, and charge.

     Yesterday we examined the kairos (the times) that we find ourselves in.  Amazing how each generation, each people have faced a husteros kairos (a challenging time) in one way or another – down through the centuries.  Look at the historical accounts.  Yet, in the midst of it all, the Mission  has not changed for the Church.  It has remained and it will remain until His glorious return.  We have hope and promise in the second part of the Mission Statement Jesus gives us, in this:  “And I will be with you always, even until the end of the age.”  For those who believe, receive, and remain – we know that we do not toil, or work, or serve in vain, for the Lord has built the house. 

     In our lives today, now more than ever – we need to hit the streets, we need to share the hope, we need to bridge the relationships – all for Him.  We need to be a people after God’s own heart, not just in words but principally, in action.  The kairos demand it because people are perishing; just as it says in Proverbs:  “Without vision, the people perish.”  He is worthy of our very best!


Pastor Porter

The Way

     The Way

     Tracks are one of the tools we use to follow and locate positioning, and they can come in many forms.  Interestingly, do you know what the primary term for identifying the followers of Jesus was?  Do you know the most widely used word for the early church?  They were simply called, ‘The Way.’

     The NT Book of Acts uses this phrase 6 times (9:2; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:14, 22).  Compare these 6 occasions where the name, Christian, is used only once (11:26).  Not saying both aren’t important and part of our identity in Christ – just bringing up a reality.  So, what can we learn and glean from this title:  ‘The Way.’  What can speak to us now, in the present tense, in our lives?

     Today, we have a separation between what a person says they believe and the way they live their lives.  For example, do you know anyone who says they believe in Jesus, but do not follow His example, His teachings?  For most it has become the norm to speak of having “faith in God” without doing the “works of God.”  But we must take heed:  We do not find this separation between faith and works in the Word of God or in the life of Christ and the early NT church.  Rather than separation, there is integration.  Pick up and read James 2:18-19, 26.

     Paul writes in Galatians 5, v.6:  “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”  Love is connected to faith.  It doesn’t mean we become a doormat – it doesn’t mean we relinquish accountability.  Acts of love are motivated by faith and oneness in Christ, that is, if they are authentic.  The true followers of Christ shine – and the true followers of Christ (The Way) will be easily identifiable by the fruit their lives produce (read John 13:35).  In the Book of Acts, the early church is identified by the way they lived and not just by what they believed.  Same is true today.  What good is it to talk all the talk, post all the blogs, do all the daily publications if you aren’t in the lab, on the roads, with the people, living the life?

     Let’s live the way Jesus lived! 

     Pastor Porter

One is Enough

     I remember seeking meaning and purpose in all the wrong places:  work; home, sports, religion, others, etc.  Maybe yours vary, maybe they don’t.  Fill your pursuits in here:  _____, _____, _____.  There are some common characteristics, no matter how seemingly different our pursuits are.  First, we have all tried to find meaning, and value, and purpose.  No matter where you or I may be in our journey of life (on the back side or the front side), we have sought.  And secondly, if our pursuit has come up empty and lifeless, we have not found a “holy, saving faith” that comes in authentic relationship with Jesus Christ.

     You see, God is in the business of heart and life transformation and it is His desire that by way of the Cross, the Holy Spirit will take up residency in us.  Not just around us or by us – but in us.  Down through the ages, cultures, and time periods, many men and women have experienced this and have given witness to its reality.  So there are many, many experiences – as many as there are people who have experienced them – but one element remains the same:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit made it available, made it real, and were in on it through and through. 

     Today, I see a vivid picture of a Pre and Post Pentecost Porter :)  The Pre is a desperate and ugly picture.  It is crafted with a lot of self will stuff.  It has the backdrop of a man (me) who pursued things of this world and who failed miserably.  I know, I lived it.  Thought things were supposed to always go right.  Believed religion was a noble cause.  Elevated my family before my God.  Expected the church to be a perfect institution.  But on that day, when the Spirit tugged my heart in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and I decided to respond (because I had reached the end of myself), Pentecost became so real to me.  The Post is a God thing and as a result, is magnificent.  Could spend hours, days, weeks going through it all.  Not enough words to write and not enough songs to sing in praise to God, for what He has done.  I could go on, and on, and on.

     Here is what I am saying:  Friend, give it on over to God :)  Trust Him and ask Him to take the helm of your life.  He is fully capable of taking the biggest mess and making it a masterpiece – because that is Who He is.  You will still face battles.  There will be trials and tribulations as long as you live and breathe.  But you will have His presence.  You will have His love and peace.  His grace will be given to you and your life will be transformed.  Even the Church, the very body of Christ in the world, will take on and have a whole new meaning, no matter what kind of experiences you have had.  It’s all out of the overflow :)

     Today, let us choose Him!  He is trustworthy, He is tried and true!

     Pastor Porter

Focusing Forward

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it:  “relationship is where it’s at.”  That being, relationship with God (first) and relationship with others, each other (second).  It’s really nothing new – it’s no fresh concept, idea, or invention.  We simply have to take time to get personal and intimate in practically every area of life.

I continue to be amazed, perplexed, and a little troubled by people who claim a living faith and relationship but who don’t, won’t, and refuse to get personal.  I call that “closet Christianity.”  I also have no real interest in those who communicate personal perceptions, beliefs, and opinions behind a computer screen – in a forum that doesn’t lend itself to speaking fact and truth – which comes from the Living Word and through the Holy Spirit.  Some of the things I receive are absolutely ridiculous and aren’t even worth mentioning here. 

This is the bottom line, and I’m going on the record:  God ordained the Church, His body, to continue His work in the world.  We are a community called out and to holiness.  This is a practical holiness where relationships are birthed, nurtured, cultivated, and available.  In it all, we seek to glorify God and see His Kingdom expand.  Through His servant Paul, He has told us:  “Don’t forsake the gathering of the church.”  The Lord Himself told us:  “To go and make disciples of all nations…”   We have a great and awesome responsibility friends – because He deserves our best (not our leftovers, the first-fruits).  I know some have been hurt, damaged, and disappointed in so called “churches” – but know that is not what God wills or intends; and know that happened to me too at one point in my past.  Most of the time they are clubs and organizations hiding behind the name of a church – but it is not authentic, and it surely isn’t anointed with the Spirit of God. 

So many movements come and go, and so many catchy names get attached to movements.  Most of the time they want to protest or make a statement.  Through history and church history, relationships & communication could prevent and open up the opportunity for Christ-centered priority and right-of-way to be given.  Healing and repentance are a part of our community.  Jesus said, “By this others will know that you are My disciples: that you have love for one another” (John 13:35).  It’s time we seek the unity of the Spirit together, today.  Disregard the experts who appear to know so much about everything; who always seem to have something negative to say.  Let’s stop focusing on giving attention to inconsequential issues so that we can focus forward on building up a community where Jesus Christ is Lord!  A church like that can and will make a positive, eternal difference.  To God be the glory! 

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts…”

Pastor Porter