Monday, March 21, 2016

Front Row Seat

by Tomya Peters
          This has been a hard message to type. About once a year I try and put the emotion I feel down on paper with fail. I feel it so strongly but the right words are hard to express. This is my last opportunity while fresh on my mind to cultivate from my heart the words to touch and grasp hold of you with this important teaching. It may be the last year for this earthly event, but there is still hope for us who call Jesus lord and master to continue on with our front-row-seat event.

           Have you ever had a front row seat for a great show? You may be thinking of a special event, or a wish to have been in a front row seat for a specific occasion. I’m here to tell you, you can always have a front row seat with all the emotion that goes along with it.

          I have been watching American Idol now for many years. I saw bits of the first couple years but it hadn’t drawn me in yet. I’ve watched the show evolve and mature. They have found the key to the survival of the church.

          This show started with a dream to find talent, and to give those who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance, or at least in a short amount of time become noticed. Some will get there but with a lot of unnecessary pain, and possible damages unable to recover from.

          In 2011 a great message of hope for the church began to emerge from within my soul. Jessica Sanchez a fifteen year old girl Idol contestant with an incredible voice & Jennifer Holliday sang a duet together. There is a passion between the two and it is seen in their faces as they sing. I’ve seen this in many other performances since.

The next year Angie Miller a young idol contestant is overwhelmed with excitement while she sings with Jessie J (Domino). 

          You could YouTube all night and see this message over and over again. These young people being so blessed to be in the presents of incredible talent. Talented busy people anxious to give of themselves out of their wisdom and gifts. What I began to watch more closely was the seasoned talents that joined the ranks to influence and fashion these young people as they reach for their dreams.

          This year being its final year has brought a lot more passion and emotion to the surface. I could spend the rest of the message sharing so many touching moments, but then you would miss the more important lesson to be learned.

          I ask you this question. Do we want great preacher, teachers, elders, deacons, mothers, fathers, servants and yes singers in the church? What are you doing about it? Are you out there wanting to be a teacher, preacher, elder, or deacon? Do you want to share to gospel with a friend or family member? Do you want your eyes to be open to see those in need around you and the courage to step out of your comfort zone to meet that need? Like these musicians, they want to change the world with their God given gifts. They are willing to work hard refining their craft. The experienced artist rise up seeking opportunities to help others fine-tune their talents into the shinning stars they can be.

          There is really one question.
          Jennifer Lopez made the comment the other night on the show about how blessed she was to have had a front row seat for the last five years on Idol.
          Here is your chance to be on the front row. We have an opportunity to guide young souls into a deeper level of knowledge of God’s word and service, but the lack of these will hinder us.

1.   We need to be committed leaders.
2.   We need to desire to be great so they want to follow.
3.   We need to be the example.
4.   Point out the gifts in those around us.
5.   We need to mentor and encourage.
6.   We have to want to be like Christ more than anything in the world, and do everything to accomplish it.

 Do you see others around you that you admire? Ask them to mentor you.
          Why is Idol successful? Because the new up and coming are being trained by the older experienced. The young give honor to the older. This also creates power and greater knowledge to the music industry.

          Apply that to the church. No one wants to be a preacher or missionary if they aren’t seeing the role living out with passion. No young men will desire the service of and elder or deacon if men aren’t respecting the role they are appointed to. We as a church must do everything we can to live Christ so BIG the world strives to be like us as we follow Him.

          To have a front row seat you have to be living there. If the judges and mentors of Idol didn’t clearly love music and know the hard work it takes to be in the industry, how could they have any respect from the young talents.

          If the seasoned artist didn’t desire to make a difference for the future what would they put themselves out there in the first place?

          Craig and I attended Sunset in the early eighties. We were told our two years of study under the twenty or so men and women were equivalent to twenty years of knowledge on our own. This training was much the same as Idol.

          LTC is another program our church has that is attempting to do this very thing. They have events all around the country for children from 3rd through high school. We will be going to Houston this week to enter in several of the events.

          As good as these programs are they are not enough. We need to be sitting in the front row every day, seeking out the next soul to be mentored by our own hands. Seeing these precious souls and the talent they have to glorify God, fanning it into a flame.

Do you want a front row seat? The church depends on it. Christ died for it. The Spirit lives for it and God created it. We can’t let him or the world around us down.

Take your seat!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Wine, Snakes and Alligators

Tomya Peters
            We lived in south Lose-e-ana when our children were young. Boy-oh-boy I could tell you stories but my children could tell you more. The things they did in the name of fun would creep you out. I couldn’t find them one day, realizing they were gone right out from under my nose. Not only were my children missing but four other children I was responsible for. They we down in the drain pipes under the ground.  They had to implement some stealth maneuvers just to get themselves all out of the stale smelling muddy pit I found them in. This might explain why one day we challenged a seven foot alligator.

            The places we find ourselves and the choices we make in life look very different in hindsight. Take sin for instants. Did the young couple think they would be parents at sixteen when they went on their first date? Did the girl whose feeling were hurt think she would lie, causing the boy to lose his job? Did the boy who shot up his school think, this was where he would find himself, a few years before? Questions we may never have answers to.

            We know the sins we’re committing as we find ourselves consumed in the midst of them. It’s the steps leading up to the sin that go unnoticed. When a child takes their first steps you can look back over the weeks prior to the great event and see everything it took to get to the grand moment. They first rolled over, began to crawl and pull up to things. All the while growing in strength and comfort in their surroundings. Sin is no different.

            Living in Louisiana was a new experience for this Indiana born and bred girl. My husband once told my sister that alligators could jump fences and she believed it. When we had only lived there a few weeks I became so freaked out by a small newt under the bed as I was tucking my girls in. A few years later that same daughter is bringing them into the house letting them pinch onto and dangle from her earlobes. I’ve come along way.

            We entertained a lot of visitors over the years. One of our favorite things to do was to travel down towards the coast to the wildlife refuge in Hackberry. Until Hurricane Rita tore it down there was a museum we would stop at on the way. You could learn everything you wanted to know about the wetlands and their importance to coastal living. You were also encouraged to not feed the alligators in the refuge. This was for your own safety. If you were crabbing you would take a chicken neck, tied to a string, throw it out and wait for crabs to latch on. Many times you lost them and the crab to a gator. So I guess whether you were crabbing or feeding gators we didn’t see much difference. We did know they were getting feed and through this we justified our disobedience.

            At the refuge they had a look-out deck overlooking a marshy wetland and on a sunny day you would see 30-40 gators laying out sunning themselves like an old dog on the front porch. They never moved and made you question whether they were really alive. If we had food we would toss some out to watch them snatch it up for a little show for our guest. Then we would head out to walk the cement path that lead all around through the marsh and back out to where we started. I can’t tell you how many times we made this trip.

            One day we had our seven and another family of seven along with us.  Four adults, one teen, seven ranging from primary to Middle school and two babies in strollers. We were chatting up a storm pointing out all the wildlife as we went along. All of the sudden people started turning around complaining about an alligator blocking the path. As we got closer we saw what appeared to be a seven-foot-long gator stretched across our path. We made the decision to walk very quietly around the back of him making sure to keep our distance. He didn’t even give us the time of day. All was well and we enjoyed the rest of our day.

            The next day my husband went out to that same marsh to fish. He wasn’t catching any fish so he started messing with an alligator he spotted. From the boat he sent out a cast in hopes to hit the tail end of the alligator. As the lure was coming down the alligator spun around so fast and had the lure in his mouth. In disbelief he sent the bate out again. Just as the first was snatched up this one met the same jaws chomping down tightly around it.         

Walking past the big alligator not being afraid was really really stupid.  We had gotten so comfortable and familiar with the gators we thought we could predict their behavior. We are enticed by sin the same way. We think we got it under control. We see it like the old dog on the porch instead of the baby growing in strength learning to walk. We miss the small steps that get us into trouble. The book of Proverbs is full of such sound wisdom. Most of which was directed to a son. I ran across chapter 23 many years ago and it has been a reminder to me to never allow myself to get comfortable when it comes to Satin and his schemes.

Pro 23:30 — Pro 23:35
Those who tarry long over wine;
those who go to try mixed wine.
Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles
in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
In the end it bites like a serpent
and stings like an adder
Your eyes will see strange things,
and your heart utter perverse things.
You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
like one who lies on the top of a mast.
“They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt;
they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
must have another drink.”

            I won’t tell you what to do, as I didn’t force my children’s hands either. I will say if this snake has touched your world with its devastating bit please heed the wisdom from the Proverbs.

“You knew I was a snake when you took Me in”

Al Wilson - The snake

Who wrote the book of Proverbs?

1:1 – 9:18 – Solomon
2. 10:1 – 22:16 – Solomon
3. 22:17 – 24:22 – Wise Men
4. 24:23-34 – Wise Men
5. 25:1 – 29:26 – Solomon (has co-opted by Hezekiah’s men)
6. 30:1-33 –Agur, son of Jakeh
7. 31:1-9 – Lemuel (or his mother)
8. 31:10-31 – unknown

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