Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mardi Gras Outreach & New Website

We are excited to announce the launching of our new website that will be operating in addition to the BigGace.com site that you are accustomed to coming to. The new site location is www.RavenOCC.org (Raven Online Community Church). The "official" launch date is set for January 6, 2013

The reason for the new site is to emphasize that we are NOT a "para-church" organization - we are a NT church that is not limited in scope, vision, or impact by geogrphical or denominational boundaries. We are the BODY of CHRIST operating as the Lord Jesus intended. The new site will be reflective of that directive.

Additionally - there is a page dedicated to our upcoming Mardi Gras 2013 Outreach in New Orleans (February 8-12) that will provide all necessary information for those desiring to join the hundreds of urban missionaries and soul-winners that come from all across North America each year to serve in the Harvest Fields of the "Big Easy"

You can also help by giving towards the sponsorship of this event (we do not charge a registration fee - people are just asked to give as they are able or lead of the Spirit). The event costs around $20,000 to host and God has always been faithful to speak to the hearts of individuals to meet the need.

Click the ROCC to visit the new website

 Click the picture to go to Mardi Gras page

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sometimes They Cry...

If you want to learn something, LIFE is always an available teacher to those that would just be willing to listen to its instructions. As  a minister of the Gospel, many of the things God reveals to me come about as I merely take in and observe the situations that He leads me through.
This past August 29th, Melanie and I were blessed to welcome our granddaughter (Hannah Joy) into this world. She was five weeks early and born in the midst of our evacuation from a hurricane – but in our opinion she was right on time!
The hospital that she was born in was brand new. The staff there was attentive and caring. Joshua and Kayla were treated great and our precious Hannah Joy was perfectly healthy in spite of being less than five pounds at delivery.
Everyone there pulled out the stops to make sure Hannah Joy had exactly what she needed. Melanie and friends shopped for little outfits and things to welcome her into this world. Joshua and Kayla swaddled her and loved on her and made sure she was warm and comfortable at all times. She was a great little baby!
Sometimes they cry…
No amount of reminding her of the great facility that she was born in could stop her tears. Rocking, bouncing, walking and holding her tight did little or nothing to calm her during this time. The fact that she was loved had no effect. She continued to cry! I tried singing to her and speaking in a soothing voice. She continued to cry!
The problem wasn’t the lack of concern for her on behalf of her mother and father, grandparents or hospital staff. The problem was that she was hungry and needed to eat! All of our efforts apart from meeting that need proved futile because they were mere distractions from the true problem.
It’s pretty simple: The easiest way to quiet a hungry child is to feed them! Babies get hungry and when they do they are not much into waiting around for meal time. There seems to be something inside of them that just “goes off” and alerts them to the need to fill their bellies with nourishment.
The hospital where Hannah Joy was born had a great cafeteria with local flavors and a variety of beverages including a great little coffee stand. Yet when it came time to feed Hannah Joy, we didn’t rush to the hospital cafeteria – because this crying baby needed a formula designed for HER NEEDS and NOT OURS!
Over the years I have been in all types of churches and fellowships. I have been in large churches. I have been in small churches. I have been in mainline churches, Pentecostal churches and independent churches. Out of these experiences I have had the honor of building many relationships that are still very strong to this day. One reoccurring theme that I hear is: “We are starving to death” or “I just don’t feel as though I am being fed.”
Sometimes they cry…
All too often when a pastor, preacher or leader hears someone make the statement that they are “not being fed” it is taken as a personal affront to their ability to lead. They will often bristle and make comments such as, “You just need to learn to eat what is on your plate” or “If you get hungry enough you’ll either feed yourself or learn to like what is being served.” Those are not the statements of a pastor, shepherd or caregiver to the people of God. Those are the responses of a bruised ego.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
How is it that Jesus saw those that were hungry and thirsty as blessed when many leaders would call them a nuisance? Maybe it is because Jesus came to lay his life down for His sheep and not for the sheep to lay down their lives for Him?
Just as Hannah Joy needed a FORMULA designed for her growth and nutrition, so the Body of Christ needs to be fed that which causes them to mature and develop in the things of the Lord instead of just “eating off of someone else’s plate” all the time.
As a leader in the Body of Christ I am required to be observant at all times. In places that we minister like Bourbon Street or Skid Row, it really pays to “keep your eyes open” in order to see any signs of danger of distraction that may desire to present themselves. As observant as I am out in the world, I find myself equally (or more so) when I am inside the walls of the church!
Acts 17:11-12 says concerning the people of Berea, “Paul and Silas were treated a lot better there than in Thessalonica. The Jews received Paul's message with enthusiasm and met with him daily, examining the Scriptures to see if they supported what he said.”
Notice that they (The leaders- Paul and Silas) said they were “treated a lot better” because they listened (yet) “examined the Scriptures” to make sure he was telling the truth! Now THAT is a novel idea – not just taking things at face but also verifying those things with the Word of God!
I observed an instance recently where a Pastor was questioned about something he said from the pulpit. He took the opportunity the next service to basically rebuke anyone for approaching him regarding his preaching. He likened it to when he was "an immature Bible college student" that listened to every word being preached to see if he could catch the speaker in a misstep.
The message that was sent by him that night to the congregation was, “Do not hold me accountable for my words.” For Christians (and especially leaders) that is a position that lends itself to disaster. If we desire to see accountablity there also must be access.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
With all the false and misleading things being taught and preached in today’s churches it would be nice to have people in every church so attentive to what was being said. I find it refreshing when someone approaches me after I have preached or taught and says, “Maybe I misunderstood what you said, but…” (or) “Can you show me that in the Bible again?”

Bouncing the congregation on our spiritual knee is not enough when they are hungry for the right kind of "formula." Paul the Apostle told the Church at Ephesus that the five-fold ministry was designed to, "..to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ...until we all reach unity in the faith...become mature...then we will no longer be infants." (Ephesians 4:11-14)
Sometimes they cry…
Maybe because she was premature; but Hannah Joy needed a formula that worked for her digestive system. The formula chosen was because it was designed to stay down and help prevent her from having the pain associated with the other she was taking.
The word “formula” means, “a method, pattern, or rule for doing or producing something, often one proved to be successful.”
Joshua and Kayla desire for Hannah Joy to be healthy and eventually develop into an independent young woman one day. The “formula” that she is eating now will most likely not be enough to provide her sustenance three years from now. She will need more to eat and of a varying substance to continue growing. Because they will be responsible for her care and nurture, they will be well aware of what she needs and when she needs it. They will recognize her cry and will do whatever is necessary to provide the nutrition her body craves.
One day she will have teeth…and then she’ll want to move on to the meat!
Hebrews 5:12-14 says, “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn't know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”
I love my children and would do anything in the world for any of them. I love to spend time with them. I enjoy lending support to things that they are doing and gladly give advice when asked. But, as much as I loved them (and still do) there came a time when I was ready for them to “get out on their own!”
They needed to get their own job, have their own marriage, and their own house. They needed to solve some of their own problems and learn a few life lessons apart from mom and dad! They needed a different formula to get them there though! I did not turn them loose until I first fed them what they would need to succeed.
There is a horrible epidemic alive in the church today. We see it as we talk to people on the streets and in the market place. The sad thing is that it is a problem that can be remedied if the “formula” is adjusted to the needs of the crying child! The problem is described in:
Amos 8:11 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the Lord.”
Sometimes they cry…
When a child is malnourished over an extended period of time their waistlines will initially shrink, but after awhile they will began to swell! They will look stuffed – but in reality they are dying. The condition is something called “kwashiorkor” and it occurs when a person has a diet lacking in protein and the body begins to “consume itself.”
The lack of “protein” in relationship to the “diet” of the church is evidenced when the spiritual menu is devoid of: vision, true discipleship, expository teaching and releasing into actual ministry. Those four ingredients are the “formula” that make up the “method, pattern, or rule for doing or producing something (which) proved to be successful;” That was the meal Jesus fed to His disciples that enabled them to turn the world upside down.
We have a church full of “swollen bellies” that appear to be full, but instead of EXPLODING upon the world as seen in the Book of Acts, they are IMPLODING upon themselves and slowly dwindling in power, influence and impact.
Sometimes they cry…
Today Hannah Joy survives and thrives strictly on a set number of ounces of a milk-formula several times per day. At her present age, activity level, and growth stage it is exactly what she needs. She has over doubled in weight in the past three months of life and is as healthy as can be. Soon though, her mother will likely add cereal to the formula and eventually she’ll grow to eat food from the same dinner table as her parents.
If Joshua and Kayla are either oblivious or careless in recognizing her stages of development – they will in effect be retarding her growth and possibly causing irreparable harm to her body (and potentially cost her life!). What works or is effective TODAY will not produce the same results in their child TOMORROW.
The Prophet Hosea says in Chapter 4:6, “My people are being destroyed because they don't know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.”
The Apostle Paul said, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14-15)
In June of 2012 the Chicago Tribune reported on the case of a 16 year old girl by the name of Darlene Armstrong. According to doctors at Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago, “She (Darlene) has suffered from severe, long-standing, life-threatening malnutrition/starvation combined with unacceptable medical neglect,”
They were stunned by her emaciated body and perplexed that it had taken this long for authorities to do anything to save the life of this child. Records indicate that social workers had visited the family home of several occasions, but had failed to even see the young woman until a worker heard her whimpers coming from another room and called 911.
She arrived at the hospital at a mere 23 pounds!  The Chicago Department of Children and Family services issued this statement afterwards, “An investigation has revealed a failure of supervision and management,” said Kendall Marlowe, agency spokesman. “We are taking appropriate actions to right that ship and ensure this organization places the proper priority on child safety.”
Sometimes they cry…
Why has the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ refused to hear the cries of the starving body? How is it that the condition of His children can be so overlooked by those in authority? Have pastors and leaders simply “closed the door” to their hearts like the family of Darlene Armstrong in the hopes that the cries would eventually grow weaker and then eventually fade altogether?
Darlene’s mother was arrested and charged with Endangering the Life of a Child. What charge do you think pastors and leaders will face when the Lord Jesus looks upon the spiritually gaunt and disabled children that He left in their care?
Matthew 18:6, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Can you hear the cries of the starving Church? Can you see the discouragement? Can you hear the moaning of unsatisfied hearts and unfulfilled dreams? Can you see the wasting away of gifts, talents and promises? Are you moved by the images of a famished body yearning for more?
Pastors, preachers, church leaders – this is a call out to you to take the God-mandated responsibility that He has entrusted you with and “feed His sheep” with the expectation and “formula” designed to not just “keep them alive” but that will cause them to thrive! Stop passing the buck and refusing to take the blame for your backslidden or dying flock – see what THEY are in need of and FEED THEM.
Sometimes they cry…
Pastor Troy D. Bohn