Life of the Body – In the Body

Posted on Apr 13 , 2011 in Pastor's Archive

Life of the Body—In the Body

All communities hold and have a certain flavor to them whether in the suburbs, the outer rim of the county or even in the center of an urban jungle.  When people look at their community, they find that they have a familiar tone which the participants of that community contribute to and/or take away from it.  If someone comes into the community and wants to connect with the community, he must decide to determine the tone of the community before he can make a clear interaction with it.

That interaction could be a huge impact upon it or maybe a subtle impression but if that person is to install his human personal impression upon the people there he will need to understand/respect the tone of the community.  We all dwell in communities, we just don’t always see it that way.  Sometimes it is geographic at other times it may be around similar interest, like bicycling or computer building but the people connecting in the community will have a certain sense of missing something that identifies them if they lose serious contact with it.  At Redemption Fellowship church we have a community of people that desire to lift the name of the Lord and to love each other.   While here at Redemption I believe that any person who wants to connect with the community they must find the flavor of the community and determine whether it is favorable to them for spiritual enhancement, social affirmation and a place of security and support when the need arises.  That is why I wanted to ask myself, why do I attend this church?  I must do so in order to look forward to joining a system or community that will bring these things in view for me and my family.

Why do I attend Redemption Fellowship Church?
1.    I must belong to a community of believers.  As a conscientious Christian, I believe that I must as a rule of life dwell in a community of believers who profess the same Lord as I do.  Even if I attend a church that does not consign doctrinally to my own preferential emphasis, I must find others who proclaim Christ as Lord and who see Christ as the center of all life and work.  This is a must for any Christian because as you have heard me say a person can be no stronger than the community or group that they connect themselves to.   As a child of God I look for His children to connect or covenant with in order to find support for my family, our spiritual growth and healthy relationships in the family of God.  I must belong to a healthy community of believers.  Look at Acts 2:44-46:  All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.   Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

The believers met together even though they met at the temple courts they also met and broke bread (communion) in one another’s homes.  These people saw a need to come together while they came to the temple for practical purposes of their Jewish week.  I meet with the folks at Redemption because I have a similar interest with them in lifting the name of Jesus above every name on earth.  I love the worship service and the real fellowship with others that helps me to be real also.

2.    I believe God moves sovereignly to promote His purpose that turns out to be for my goodwill.  When my family moved back to Atlanta, which was the plan, we moved within the neighborhood of Redemption.  I always remember that when we yield ourselves to God, He sovereignly moves to promote His plan.  I am a part of that plan as well as Redemption Fellowship church.  The Lord of the universe has no problem getting me in a proper proximity to the church where He wants me to serve, that was no coincidence.  I believe that God moved when I may have thought it was me.  But it was Him.  My plan came together because it was His will for my family to move so close to Redemption.  Sometimes we feel that we have to seek, and plead and beg God to move us into His will.  Remember, God is all-powerful, He sustains all life upon the earth maintains the entire galaxy.  It is a minor and simple task to make things line up for you in His will.  His will is what He wants.  As we yield ourselves to His leading and do not proceed to push square pegs into round holes in our lives, He will get me to His will, remember Romans 12: 1-3: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.   Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

God’s will is perfect but we must conform to a mindset that glorifies Him and seeks to follow His command.  That is when our lives will be guided by the Lord to bring us into an understanding of His will.  I am commonly put to task about knowing the will of God, I usually give the same answer, “If you honor God, He will honor you.”  Some things God will tell us when we are attempting to follow his will because it is his pleasure but other things God will not let you in on.  That is why our faith is so important.  God wants our trust because we think we need to know from Him what the plan is.  His plan is for you to be obedient to Him.  He can get you from point A to point B without a hitch.  Just trust Him and see.

3.    I would love to see people come to Christ as a result of my straining in ministry in this church.  Notice that I didn’t say that I would love to see people come to Christ at my church.  I want to be a vital part of their coming to Christ because as a collective body that is what the church does.  But why at Redemption?  Is there some special aspect to the church that causes me to want them to come there?  Yes, because I know the people are sincere and love each other.  They are not perfect, yes we have times that people get on each other’s nerves and we all understand that, that is what real friends do.  But the test of that relationship is not how we get along but, when it comes to asking for and giving forgiveness what happens.  Do I know that they love me enough to challenge me for my good and not their own preference?  That is the thing I must ask myself.  I believe that it is a healthy environment where people can grow in following the Lord.  I must sweat and strain in ministry in order to build into that community the things that are needed to prepare people to follow Christ.  That is why I strain the great apostle Paul said in Phil 3:12-14  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold  of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.   Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on  toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called  me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I must give it my all because it means the community will be healthier,  the community needs me to engage in it so that it will be all that God has called it to be then I find out why God brought me here and what I’m supposed to be doing otherwise.

4.    I have made dear friends in ministry that are here for a common goal.  Making good friends is a chore if you have been attempting to do so you will agree.  I have made some wonderful friends at Redemption and know that they have me in prayer and seek my progress in the Lord.  As I said before I gauge the health of my friends on the level of love we have for each other in just wanting to be together and the more apt we are to forgive each other for our offences.  Offences are great and they really hurt but most of the time they are due to misunderstanding.  If I am praying for my brother or sister then I will have an emotional connection that will not let me hold it against them when they mistreat me unintentionally.  Col 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Healthy friends and family depends upon the commitment they have to Christ ahead of me.  I am committed to forgive them and they have the same conviction.  The true relationship to friends is very important I hold that as a necessity for growth.  I am here at Redemption because I am a Christian that loves praise to the king, I have a call to fulfill, I submit to the sovereignty of God and because I have friends.  Hope that you will make some of the same needful thoughts to make sure that Redemption is the place for you and commit to its growth in following Our Lord.

~ Assistant Pastor Horace Cutter

Christmas Eve 2010 Pastoral Thoughts

Posted on Dec 24 , 2010 in Pastor's Archive

Here are my Christmas Eve 2010 musings about my time as pastor at Redemption Fellowship: Obviously these are just a few things:

1. God will get the job done with or without you; but He wants to use you, so let Him do it.

2. What works in your last church, won’t necessarily work in the present one.

3. People are pressed for time, so church has to speak to them to hold their attention.

4. Leaders must be courageous; they must make hard decisions.

5. Pastors must surround themselves with people who will speak biblical truth into their lives; ”yes men” will eventually drop you like a safe.

6. Preach expositional sermons that break down the Word into bit size, easily applicable units.

7. The addictions to wealth, sex, power, education, self centeredness, culture, pride and “me-ism” are ”giants” in the land that must be interpreted within the present context and dealt with according to the Word of God.

8. If you don’t fight for passion in your marriage, you and your spouse will become casualties of intramarital junk.

9. If parents don’t train their primary children in the Word of God, when those children hit their teens and twenties they will be “toast.”

10. If you are a young, single Christian female, find out how God wants you to live. Search the Scriptures for yourself; you are smart enough to get it just like God says it.

11. If you are a young, single Christian male, find out how God wants you to live. Search the Scriptures for yourself; you are smart enough to get it just like God says it.

12. If you are a Christian between 40 and 95, you are the mentors and examples for the folks in 10 and 11 above. Do you know what the Word of God says? Will you help God help these young ones?

Former Sr. Pastor Mike

Today on You Tube

Posted on Dec 02 , 2010 in Pastor's Archive

I was watching You Tube today and came across the Casting Crowns singing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which is a hauntingly powerful tune about the ultimate triumph of God’s peace and love over humanity’s anxieties and despair. That song is what Christmas is all about–Macy’s and WalMart don’t come close. Anyway, one of the comments under the video said, “I wish I believed in god” (little “g”). I replied to the writer of the comment with “I hope God grants your wish.” Then I went into the sanctuary and asked God to answer their “prayer.” I am so glad that Jesus called me out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

Kind of A Funny Story

Posted on Nov 18 , 2010 in Pastor's Archive

On 1 September 2000, I reported for “duty” as the Interim Pastor of Redemption Fellowship PCA. I had served at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, TN for three and a half years since February 1997. I did not want to leave Chattanooga, but I believed that the Lord wanted me to go to Fayetteville, GA and help Redemption Fellowship recover from a catastrophic event in her history. I was supposed to be “on loan” for three months; I counted the days, hours, minutes…Redemption searched for a new Senior Pastor and came to the decision to ask me to stay. I was not happy, but I felt the conviction of the Spirit of God to stay in my “foxhole” until I was properly relieved.

I did not think that I would be here for over ten years. I am glad that I stayed; Redemption Fellowship is a wonderful church and I have learned a lot about ministry and myself in these years. I have learned that I can be confident in the Gospel’s ability to change people’s hearts and reconcile seemingly impossible situations. I have learned that my wife is an “airborne ranger” of service when it comes to the church. She is my best friend and a wonderful emotional anchor. I have learned that pastoring an African American church in a overwhelmingly conservative southern White denomination comes with some awesome challenges.

One day I will write a book/paper/pamphlet/comic strip on what it is like to have had the opportunity to pastor in a New City type church, in a Redemption Fellowship type church, in the Church of God in Christ, and in the US Army–oh yeah, don’t forget while being a Black dude with Tourettes Syndrome ( I aint LOL). Honestly, right now, I don’t know what most of this means except that God is calling the plays, hooah. Alright, so now it is onwards to work at Covenant Seminary…ok, so can somebody please tell me, what does that mean?

~ Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

Watching A Beating

Posted on Nov 10 , 2010 in Pastor's Archive

Brothers and Sisters, I was deeply troubled by the report of the beating death of the young black man in Douglas County this week. The death was brutal, senseless and resulted in just a plain and simple waste of life–the victim and the four alledged assailants (four black youth), who are waiting felony murder charges without bond.  Seems the victim was randomly selected to be attacked in order to fulfill a vicious vow. According to witnesses, he was  innocent of provoking the violence. As a result, another promising young black man was destroyed; and four more may spend decades behind bars and that’s sad and unfortunate. I can’t even begin to think about what the relatives of the victim must be going through. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy and don’t you forget it. I was especially affected by the story in the AJC news report because I have witnessed someone get beat to death. I was 12 years old and sitting on my front porch in North Saint Louis, Missouri. I wouldn’t wish what I saw that night on anybody. I can still hear the impact of the shoes on the victim’s skull as he was kicked and stomped by four men. I was so shocked that I could not move–I was frozen and strangely, could not close my eyes because the incident was so awefully, amazingly brutal. The assailants looked at me as if to say if I ever told anyone what I had saw, they would come back for me. I never said a word–that was life in the neighborhood–you didn’t snitch. Problem is, I have lived with that trauma ever since. I should have told somebody. The youth who witnessed the Douglas County beating will never forget what they saw, but I hope they get a chance to process the emotional trauma that they are dealing with. I feel a little better for writing this.

~ Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

Miss Renee’s Candy

Posted on Oct 18 , 2010 in Pastor's Archive

Every Sunday after worship, I watch excited children line up at Miss Renee’s Candy Store; which is actually not a store but her office; and she doesn’t sell the candy; she gives it away. However, to get the “free” candy, you have say a verse from scripture. Since Renee started this post-worship routine a few years ago, parents have had to help their children learn their verses to ensure that they didn’t miss out on the “goods.” Some of the children have allergies to peanuts, chocolate, etc. so now Renee offers a colorful selection of rubber wristbands. But whether wristbands, Snickers or Three Musketeers, I am just glad that we have another strategy to motivate children to learn scripture at an early age and help fight biblical illiteracy. Oh yeah, many of the grownups sneak into Renee’s candy stash without her looking–I catch them ever so often. Next time, I will be naming names, but for now I will just give the initials of the culprits–JS, GB, PB, HC, LE, SH, RN, AS, MH, SR and SC. See if you can figure out who these people are and you could win a miniature Tootsie Roll :)

Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

The Problem with Having Power

Posted on Sep 29 , 2010 in Pastor's Archive

Power, as the Bible describes it comes in two forms. The “ability” to do something and the “right” to do something. Just because you have the ability to do something does not mean you have the right to do it. Christians in leadership must continually listen to the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures and the Church to help them interpret abilities and rights. Some things are just wrong, and we should be able to recognize those things immediately; however, there are times when our egos, titles and positions may, over time, convince us that we are entitled to do what is obviously so unbiblical. Watch over yourself carefully; don’t allow yourself to be deceived by yourself. I intentionally kept this short so you wouldn’t forget it.

Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

What I Learned about Mike in Haiti

Posted on Aug 31 , 2010 in Pastor's Archive

A couple of weeks ago, I honestly thought that I did not have the time to go to Haiti to be a part of the Team’s effort to work at the Children’s Home in Les Cayes.  I also did not think that I could do much good since I have never considered myself to be good with children.  I love children, but my time in the ministry has been, except for a few youth retreats here and there, with adults.  As an Army chaplain, I have dealt mostly with Soldiers and their Spouses in times of trauma and bereavement, but not a lot with their kids.  I was never a Childrens or Youth Pastor in a civilian church so I don’t have those type of experiences to draw from and thus I feel more confident dealing with adults.  This is probably why I had to go to Haiti; to be forced to minister outside of my comfort zone.  I learned so much about myself, my fears, and my lack of confidence in the Gospel.  I soon realized that the children in Les Cayes were ministering to me! They helped me see that Jesus is the only source of hope and confidence we have in this present world.  The skills that I thought I did not possess were manifested during the mission trip–to be honest with you, I thought that I would not be compassionate enough to be a good minster to those children.  Now I am sitting at my computer with tears in my eyes as I remember those precious souls at the Cambry Children’s Home.  I really miss them.

Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

Buy This Book, Please.

Posted on Jul 20 , 2010 in Pastor's Archive

The following quote is from the website that promotes the Tim Keller book, “Counterfeit Gods.”  I want you to buy and read this book if can.  It will help you understand the “minefield of false worship and idolatry” that you must navigate through in your Christian walk.  Pastor Mike

“Success, true love, and the life you’ve always wanted. Many of us placed our faith in these things, believing they held the key to happiness, but with a sneaking suspicion they might not deliver. The recent economic meltdown has cast a harsh new light on these pursuits. In a matter of months, fortunes, marriages, careers, and a secure retirement have disappeared for millions of people. No wonder so many of us feel lost, alone, disenchanted, and resentful.

But the truth is that we made lesser gods of these good things – gods that can’t give us what we really need. There is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings – and now is the perfect time to meet him again, or for the first time.

The Bible tells us that the human heart is an “idol-factory,” taking good things and making them into idols that drive us. In Counterfeit Gods, Keller applies his trademark approach to show us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the unvarnished truth about societal ideals and our own hearts. This powerful message will cement Keller’s reputation as a critical thinker and pastor, and comes at a crucial time–for both the faithful and the skeptical.”

Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

What’s on the Pastor’s Mind?

Posted on Jun 23 , 2010 in Pastor's Archive

Today as I sit here in the office, I am wondering how I can reflect the glory of God by offering more of my time as a servant and comforter to those in need.  This sounds like it should be a simple task for a Christian and especially easy for a pastor, and some days it is as quick as jumping into a swimming pool on a hot day in Atlanta–no problem, you just fall forward a let gravity do the rest.  However, I have been a little tired lately with traveling and writing papers and preparing sermons and counseling and being a dad and being a husband and being a faithful son and you get it…don’t you?  The “ands” just keep on comin!

But as strange as it may sound, I still believe that God is calling me to a greater passion for service to those in need.  Don’t get me wrong, God isn’t telling me that I am not doing enough to please him; He is saying that my passion should spring out of the joy of my love for Christ–that would make the serving easier.  I want my service to be out of my gratitude and love for Christ and not just out of guilt and being on the payroll.  This leads to anger and burnout. I am asking the Lord to help me walk in His example.  He took time to refresh Himself and spend time in prayer and meditation while He worked to meet the needs of those around Him. He was a gentle, loving, tireless and effective servant of His Heavenly Father–I want to be like that and you do too.  Today we must submit to the leadership His Holy Spirit in order to know what Jesus knew about service.  He will teach us how to serve others with the passion and vigor that comes with our being the grateful children of a generous Father. If you love Jesus, you will serve the way He served.  He was glad to do it and He did it with passion.

Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins