Washing the Feet of a Servant

Recently, as I was sitting on the platform of our phenomenal church looking over the congregation of a group of people I had grown to love like family, my mind went back. Don’t really know what triggered it…maybe it was a key word someone said; maybe it was the receiving of the tithes and offerings. I don’t like to refer to our present condition as “successful,” even though it does feel that we have finally come to a place where we can breathe a bit. I don’t feel that we ever “arrive” at a place in God, but we should always be striving for more in Him.
As my mind went back to that extremely tough time, even my disposition changed. I could feel that dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach like I was experiencing it all over again. We had just lost several key families to moving away, job changes, etc. We had been at it non-stop teaching Home Bible studies, witnessing and general duties of Home Missionary church planters, while juggling the crushing worry of finances. Not only were we responsible for our household bills, we had ALL of the financial responsibility of the church on our shoulders. I was home schooling my two children, taking care of an infant, working three hard days a week cleaning houses and businesses and my husband was working fifty hours a week in a machine shop AND pastoring our church full-time. To say we were weary was the understatement of the century!

One day, my husband came home and said, “Celi, I walked in to work this morning and the Lord told me plain as day to lock my toolbox because the work He had for me in that machine shop was OVER.” Of course, he obeyed and there we were, out on the frightfully short limb of faith. Later, we went down to the church to clean up, do some maintenance and just hang out in the Lord’s house.

I could see the pressure building on him like a huge, heavy cloud hanging over his head. Now my husband has ALWAYS been the best husband in the world, but the several weeks up to his quitting, he had been so ill-tempered that I was ready to wring his neck! Nothing me or the kids did was right, and he seemed to blow every little matter out of proportion. I walked into the sanctuary just to sit for a while and meditate, and the Lord spoke to me and said, “Go wash his feet.” I immediately started to remind the Lord how nasty he had been to me lately, but I got up and went into the kitchen. When I came into my husband’s office with the basin of warm water and a towel, there he was sitting on his sofa, with his head in his hands, praying. As soon as I walked in the door, I could feel the presence of ministering angels and I began to cry. I didn’t say a word… I just knelt down, took his shoes and socks off and quietly prayed while I washed his feet. Maybe it was my swallowing my pride and overlooking his temperament, – maybe it was his “effectual, fervent prayer” or both, but the Lord opened a window in heaven for our family that afternoon.

A few days later, we received a call from an old acquaintance who had long been backslidden. To make a long story short, he wanted to know what our address was because he needed to send his tithes on his business to our fledgling church. He said “I might not go to church, but I’m NOT stealing from God!” His business became blessed immediately and he send us $2500 a month (which was exactly how much my husband was making on the job God told him to leave.)
Sometimes, the Lord is waiting on us to stop nursing our little feelings, swallow our pride and just TRUST Him.

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NewsFlash!… God Has Been Evicted!

Although my heartbeat and oxygen is the work of God in Manning, I am a Real Estate Broker by trade. From time to time, I have the misfortune to witness people become evicted from their homes. Some are evicted from rental homes because of lack of payment to their landlord; others because they lost their jobs or a nasty divorce is impending and neither party can maintain the mortgage payments on their own. Some take as much as they can carry in cars and pickup trucks, clearing out every single appliance and fixture, all the way down to the faucets and door knobs. Others, will defeatedly walk away, leaving pictures, toys and even things that would seem sentimental. Its almost as though the walls cry out, “What happened to my family…why did they leave me?” I would be lying if I said it does not affect me deeply.

This morning, I was reading about God being evicted from His own house. Yes, you heard me correctly…God was evicted. How, do you say, was the Almighty God, who created the universe kicked out of his own abode? Ezekiel, Chapter eight tells the whole sorrowful story. The All-Seeing-God came to His prophet, Ezekiel, and said “Son of man, have you seen what the ELDERS of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols?” He said in verse six that they “make Me go far away from My sanctuary.” It seems that the elders of Israel (Church folk) were bringing all manner of idols into their homes because they felt God was not answering them fast enough, and evidently needed a little help from the pagan idols they were supposed to abstain from.

Perhaps the greatest abomination of all was described in verse sixteen, “ So he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house; and there, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east.” Clearly, these were the Levites (priests) who had turned their backs to the LORD and had stooped to worshiping a false sun god, when they had the LORD God of the universe at their disposal to meet every need. Their blatant lack of trust was the root of their abominations. This LORD had shown Himself faithful hundreds of thousands of times throughout their history; however, they still chose to create their own useless deliverer. Joel 2:17 charges the priests who minister to the LORD, to “weep between the porch and the altar.” In other words, the priests were to acknowledge the sins of the people and be so moved and stirred by them that they intervene with tears and repentance on behalf of the people who have sinned.

As HIS prophets and church leaders, have we forgotten what sin really is? Have we been exposed SO long to the politically correct generation that we have MINIMIZED the end result of sin by renaming it? Even in our churches, it is no longer popular to call sin, “sin”….it is rather, “mistakes, misjudgments, bad decisions, bad choices.” We can mask it with words that aren’t as impactful as “SIN” but does that change the essence of what it really is? Does our verbage make the impending judgment sin causes any less horrific? NO! Somehow we have it in our finite minds that we can will God to change the end of sin. How do I know this? Let me ask you this question…When was the last time you went to a funeral and the preacher preached the deceased person into hell? I’d dare say you have NEVER been to a funeral of this sort, because in our limited thinking, we have deceived ourselves into believing that no one goes to hell anymore. Do we need to smear people’s sin in their faces? God forbid! We do, however, need to acknowledge our own sins; REPENT of them and TEACH others to do the same. The Scriptures are FILLED with testimonies of people who acknowledged their sin, repented and turned from their evil ways, and it always moved God’s heart to turn back and come to their aid.

Are you wondering where God is? Is He not moving as fast as you would like and have prayed He would? Could just be that God has you going through a time of trusting…. But, could it be that there is some sin in your life that is not pleasing Him? Could it be that you are not TRUSTING Him to be your supplier and have leaned on other means? I will, no doubt, catch some flack from good ole “Church folk” who get their feathers ruffled because I have stirred their nest with this post. I say WE ALL need to examine our hearts, homes and minds for idols that we may have placed before HIM. It may be that the LORD will see our transparency and turn His heart toward our needs!

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This is NOT Your Conscience Calling!


This is NOT your Conscience Calling!
Those of you who have known me for a while know very well that I am a big fan of social media. An addict?—No, but I’ll admit it right here in front of God and everybody that I have a definite affinity for people-watching. I love people! I love their quirks, funny quotes, their mundane routines and sometimes even their TMI (too much information) admissions. However, what I do not like is something I am seeing more and more these days and that is those who feel the need to be the “Conscience of the Masses.”

I have watched as those members of the Conscience Police spout out their poisons at someone who cut them off in the parking lot of the grocery store or, God forbid, didn’t get their order right. However, the first time they see someone else complaining about being done wrong, especially if the wronged spouter was a Christian, they weigh in with their two cents. They rail on that Christian relentlessly about how they are supposed to consider the upraising of their bully and why they may be bullying. Sure, hurting people hurt other people; BUT guess what? Christians sometimes have bad days too! We are not perfect beings floating around on some cloud of listless happiness offering everyone a pot shot at us or handing out forgiveness like coupons before its even asked for.
I overheard some un-churched friends of mine one day talking about how they HATE having to deal with a certain woman in town who worked at a prominent business all of us used. My friend’s words (and I quote) were “Celi, I sure hope that woman doesn’t go to your church, because if she does, I will NEVER set foot there. If she’s what a Christian is, I don’t wanna be one! I have gone into that business ten times or more and she has never once even smiled. She just stands there with a perpetual smirk on her face looking down her self-righteous nose at me. I was told she is an established member of a church here in town.” All I could say was, “I’m so sorry… but PLEASE don’t judge all of us by her actions.” Later, I saw that same lady blasting another Christian out on facebook for making an observed judgment conclusion that I totally agreed with. Suddenly, she had found a conscience somewhere in that bitter soul of hers and was enforcing her Christian Political Correctness on someone else.
I was talking to a self-proclaimed church leader the other day and he totally blew my mind. He admitted to interrupting the pastor during his sermon, walking down to the front and telling the entire congregation that he was taking his daughter off the membership and began pouring out details of her private sin. Now, do you think that poor girl will EVER go back to church after THAT? I certainly wouldn’t! I seem to recall the Lord Jesus saying something about casting the first stone? (John 8:7)
My point? As Christians, we have been called to love, teach, baptize, heal and teach some more. What we have NOT been called to do is act as the collective Conscience of everyone around us. Unfortunately, the only things we are sometimes teaching sinners is WHAT NOT TO DO! Yes, sometimes the Lord expects us to use His Word to call it like it is, but that is typically when it pertains to US, NOT others! Jude said it best: “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Jude 21-23
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>Good Grief!

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“ I’m just SO angry with God, Celi – Why is God so unfair?!” said my friend as she sat forcefully down in my office. Actually, I didn’t know what to say in response to that tough question, so I silently prayed for direction and God’s wisdom, because I knew mine would be so insufficient at that moment. I asked her what was wrong and just sat in silence, listening to her pour out her hurtful story as her voice cracked and tears welled in her sincere eyes. “You know my dad has Alzheimers, right? I went to visit him today and he didn’t even know who I was! He asked me who I was and when I told him my name he said, “No you’re not! Little Sandra is running around here playing with the doll we just got her for her sixth birthday. That’s the sweetest little thing and I love her so much. I’m so glad her mother and I were able to buy her that doll. I’m just so happy.” She continued, “He doesn’t even know that I’m NOT little anymore! I am so hurt, Celina, I just don’t know what to think of a God who would allow this.”

Not having a clue what I was about to say to her, I just opened my mouth and was even shocked myself at what came out! “You know, Sandra – Alzheimers is possibly the most merciful thing God can do for some people.” She glared at me and said, “WHAT do you mean?!” At that point, I was really sweating it and wanted to look up to the Lord and say, “Yeah Lord, what exactly DO I mean?!” So I just prayed and kept opening my mouth for the Lord to help this hurting person. “Well, Sandra, think about it – he is RE-LIVING the best time in his life. In his mind, you ARE six years old and running around his legs thanking him for your new baby doll. He is truly happy and in his mind – it’s REALLY happening!” Before she could come across the desk and wop me one across the nose, I continued, “Think about it Sandra, we only get the opportunity to live the good times ONCE… he is living them TWICE! He’s in a state of euphoria, and he’s having the time of his life!”

Suddenly, her demeanor changed from defensive, her facial features went from turmoil to peaceful, and she said “I’ve never thought of it that way. That helps me so much. I’m so glad I talked to you.” I breathed a huge sigh of relief and told her, “I understand that Alzheimers is a horrible disease that robs so many people of their happy memories and depletes their bodies of even basic functions. However, it may help the survivors to understand that most of them really do re-live very happy moments in their minds. I have talked with so many children and care-givers who have lost loved ones to cancers or Alzheimers, etc. Many of them have said the sweetest moments they had during the course of their loved one’s sickness was the times they sat and listened to their loved one ramble on and talk, seemingly without any direction in their thoughts. I listened as one grown daughter talked of how she would cherish the sweet things her mother said as she lay dying of cancer. She said the deepest prayers she had ever heard in her life came from that dying mother. She only wished she could have recorded those golden words. My point to this post is, there can be some good found, even in grief. Grief is a complicated emotional roller coaster, causing its host to laugh one moment and cry bitterly the next. What is important to remember is that, for our own emotional good, we have to look for the goodness in every situation we face.

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>Sickness and the Role We Play In It

>Sickness and the role we play in it can be a simple matter of what roles we are attempting to play in life. Now, not all sickness is because of our lifestyles; however, most of the time we bring sickness on ourselves. Yes – You can worry, work, push your limits and MAKE yourself sick! Excluding genetically passed on diseases, most sickness boils down to lifestyle choices, and worry. I have been alive and in the ministry long enough to see that worry has brought down more people than war, famine or disease ever could. Why do we worry and why do we stress out? Here is one topic I would argue is a primary reason we find ourselves under the thumb of worry: We step out of our INTENDED roles.

I have watched strong women be brought down hard and fast by sickness or disease because they were carrying too heavy a load. Unfortunately, most of those women were carrying the load they chose – even INSISTED upon lugging around. They tried to be the man AND the woman in the relationship. They would contend with their husbands on every issue, and even rationalize that they HAD to step up to the plate because the husband refused to do so. In reality, that husband was just too tired to fight the constant battle of taking his role because he had to fight for it all the time or he was “punished” after the fact. This is not God’s plan and there will be consequences to our constant demand for control!

Now, for all my feminist friends out there who are outraged right about now, let me clear the muddy water. Just as our shoulders are not strong enough to carry the responsibility of our husbands, equally as much, THEIR shoulders are not strong enough to carry out our roles – or God’s role for us either! Our responsibilities are equally as important, but it is PARAMOUNT that we remain in our vein of purpose. Even if you do not believe in God’s plan for men and women and the roles they play, this concept I am sharing is still true! Watch the twice-divorced corporate executive who scratched, clawed and demanded their way to the top fall ill with cancer, and suddenly, he or she starts counting regrets, wishing they had not had their priorities out of order.

You are only ONE person and you cannot MAKE things happen at your command all the time. The world is NOT going to stop turning if you are not there to spin the axis! The strong woman knows her limitations and is okay with them, and equally, the strong man knows his limitations and knows when to step back and let his Maker take the wheel.

What if I am a single male or female who HAS to play both roles? I do not care who you are, you do not HAVE to play BOTH roles. Allow the Lord to be that partner and you will never go wrong on the choices you make, and you will NEVER go lacking. I have known some very successful single adults who will tell you in a heartbeat that they live their lives as though the Lord is living with them (and by the way, He IS) always asking for His opinion, direction and help. They are always open to the wise counsel of a godly pastor, have a strong prayer life and are moldable no matter how difficult their past experiences were. These folks are complete in every way and there is always a calm aura about them. A very wise single mother of three told me recently when I was in awe of the precision of her decision making ability, “I allow Him to guide me… He CAN be trusted!” There is a reason why He stated in the Word, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalms 55:22 Our shoulders were not made to carry the load intended for HIM.

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>Leadership Ain’t for Dummies

>Leadership Ain’t for Dummies! My former Psychology teacher would disown me for using “ain’t” in my speaking and blogging, however, if one steps back and really analyzes the idea, it’s true! It IS NOT for dummies (better, Mr. Fleming?) As a leader, it is my heartbeat to help create more, even better leaders than myself.
I have recently passed the torch in a position I was voted into about six years ago as the Ladies Department Secretary for the state of South Carolina United Pentecostal Church. I learned a couple of things (LOL) during the course of my tenure. Perhaps the primary lesson was that a position doesn’t necessarily mean you are a good leader. Some folks simply ride the title wave. They covet the title,

but do not want to do the hard things leaders have to do to be a good leader.
Foremost, a good leader has to look inward to the tough issues they have maybe hidden deep down. If we do not understand ourselves, how then can we possibly understand those around us? A good leader will surround himself or herself with those who have strengths they do not possess and weaknesses they need to recognize and maybe even reveal, but not magnify. Everyone wants to be successful in their business, home and social lives. In order to enjoy that success we must maximize the strong points of others and help those weak ones around us to realize their hidden strengths.
I understand very well that this concept completely goes against many success secrets out there in the business world today. It’s a tough, cut-throat society! The secret to the success of many is climbing the ladder and turning off any emotion that would prevent you from climbing across others to get to the top. Only problem with that concept is those leaders with that mindset rarely enjoy a lengthy stay at the top.
Here are five points to help you hone your leadership skills. Hold on, it may become a very bumpy ride. Do you have what it takes to do the hard stuff?
1. Embrace the idea that others have ideas too! One way of getting involvement by others & much needed help for you & the goals you set is to listen to the ideas of others.
2. ADMIT that you are not ALWAYS right and realize that NOT EVERYONE THINKS LIKE YOU DO. Others cannot read your mind… they’re not IN your head. You have to communicate your expectations. When problems arise, sometimes the simple act of saying “I was wrong” will cause those who are following to respect you even more.
3. Empower those around you by delegating. No one died and made you God, so realize you can’t do it all yourself. Involve others who may not do the job as

proficiently as you, but still get the job done AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT! You may be in the position at a later date to share what you would have done to improve their work. Let the ones you are responsible for know that you believe in their abilities. Use positive, uplifting words of encouragement. Be excited & it will be contagious.
4. Show a spirit of thankfulness to those around you. Always stress that the goal was reached by each individual effort. Give verbal accolades as much as possible to everyone around you. No one knows the importance of the garbage man or the cleanup person until they are out for a few days!
5. Be honest with yourself and get rid of dead weight (even if it is your own negative thoughts) Surround yourself with people who will add to you and your goals. Not that we should only associate with people who make us look good… that is not the idea here. Simply, put: Avoid those naysayers who are consumed with negativity. Their negative energy will eat away at your entire group, one by one if it ever gets a foot in the door. Negative people will frustrate you on a constant basis until you find a way to weed them out of the leadership picture.
These have been the leadership tools I have used most in my toolbox. I hope they will help you go from an average leader, to a GREAT one.

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>Building on a Foundation

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Though the year 2010 has been a tough one in the Clarendon County real estate market, it has been extremely fruitful for the Kingdom of God! Our church, ARC- United Pentecostal Church, in Manning has experienced spiritual growth like never before. Some of our members have come from a completely unchurched background, while others may have been raised in church their entire lives, but for whatever reason decided to make a change.

In our church, we try to challenge our members to go deeper in the Lord. We encourage them to learn more of the Word of God, and to teach others. If the Word of God is our guidebook in this life, why shouldn’t we dig deeper?! Many times in this quest for more of Him, our members discover that there is so much more to living for God than they were taught in their former churches. As a result of this discovery, they sometimes become disappointed that their former church did not teach them properly. This disillusionment, if not recognized and dealt with, sometimes leads to bitterness or a self-righteous attitude. To have one’s eyes opened to Truth is something to be proud about, but we must display the right kind of pride! We need to have pride that our names have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life – NOT pride that leads to a glaring look down the long nose of self-righteousness.

I was preparing to teach my Young adult class a week or so ago, and I began to ponder the fact that most of the young people I was teaching have some sort of church background. I was praying for them individually and suddenly I found myself thanking God for those churches. Whether or not that young adult had a good or bad experience with their past church or not was not an issue. Some of them did have quite terrible circumstances which led them to us. Maybe it was a church split, an internal church family feud, or simply lack of anointed leadership that led them to us; however, there were also good churches which laid a wonderful foundation in those individuals. All at once, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for each of them – good or bad. If one memory verse was taught, if one invitation for repentance was given, it brought that person one step closer to Jesus, and that is an awesome thing.

In an attempt to indoctrinate newcomers, so many church leaders unintentionally (or unknowingly) make the mistake of tearing away at the foundation already laid in that person. Jesus’ apostles are our best guide to avoid that mistake. Paul simply asked the question, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” Acts 19:2 He did NOT tear down what John had done by baptizing them unto repentance. He just built on John’s well-laid foundation. He simply explained in a loving way, THERE IS MORE!

But what if someone has been taught erroneously concerning salvation? The answer is simple: Let the Word do the work! God’s Word is true from the beginning to the end. It does not need to be propped up, pumped up or backed up. There are enough witnesses in God’s Word that if someone is truly hungry for God, He will show them the TRUE WAY, and he will use a wise leader to do it (“…and how shall they hear without a preacher” Romans 10:14 Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. … According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 3: 6-11.

There truly is MORE to Him and we will not STOP learning His ways until we take our last breaths! No one person has “arrived.” HOWEVER, in order for a house to be lived in, it must have more than a mere foundation. It must have walls, a roof for protection from the elements and rooms in order to be practical. I thank God for the foundation other churches may have laid in some of our folks, but I am so honored to be chosen to help them build their walls, rooms, etc, to make their home livable. I refuse to be one who tears down… I want to be a wise masterbuilder like Paul, allowing the Holy Ghost to be the ultimate teacher. I Cor 2:13

If you are looking for a church home, please be our guest at Apostolic Revival Center – United Pentecostal Church (7 Berkeley Street, Manning, SC 29102)

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