Scripture to share….

I was reading my Bible and studying a few things for this week’s sermon and came across this scripture that I hadn’t read in awhile…

7 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord whose confidence is in him. 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes. Its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 10 I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”  (Jeremiah 17: 7-10)

Thoughts for 2008

As of now, we are close to the half way point of the year in 2008. So many things to be thankful for and so many things to still improve on and so many things still left to start on. I say this because to be honest…ministry is a tough job, yes but it can be so much fun if we keep our joy into it. For those of you who know me, I am a workaholic when it comes to ministry. I will be in my office doing stuff for 4 or 5 different things such as an event coming up next week, or a workshop coming up next month or even now as I speak, I am planning ahead for the Christmas Party in December for our deaf ministry. But I come to realize, it is not so much how much I do for the people or for the community, all that matters is if my heart is in the right place, then God will be pleased. If my work does not please God, then what will my work be worth?

Recently I had been challenged a little by a visitor to our church who claims to have found “proof” that Jesus Christ is not real, that the Bible is another made up story just like other books, and that life is just how we plan it and live it. I nearly laughed but come to realize…wow! Didnt we all use to be like that at some point?

I’ve come to realize that it is times like this where someone needs to step up and say “Hey, dont talk about Jesus that way!” And sure enough, I did. I sent this person a very soft-hearted message and ended it with a blunt statement indicating that “you are not lukewarm” related to a lesson that I had bluntly put out there to our group back in April of this year. To this day, I havent heard anything more from them. I do not know if they are thinking, or fuming with anger, or simply just ignoring my message. But I come to ponder, how would Jesus have done it? I am sure Jesus had his many shares of more than one “doubting thomas” in the world….but wow, goodness…makes me fuming upset when people degrade Jesus like that.

other than this one person….ministry has been good so far. we started up several new branches or extensions from our deaf ministry such as marriage support groups, YODA (youth of deaf adults) for kids, ASL classes for beginners, ASL classes for level 2, and we have several others in process.

My biggest project will soon be revealed probably around October of this year but have to work out a few things before I can officially announce it. If all goes well, the deaf ministry in the metro louisville area as well as surrounding areas will be in for a big boost in deaf ministry resources and will be called to help in the project as well. 

I just recently got back from a deaf teen camp and have been trying hard to catch back up on my rest. The camp went very well. Better than I expected if you must know. Plenty of counselors to help and alot of great memories were made. But above all, God was in it and my prayer is that God continues within them when they reach home and so on.

I plan to volunteer this week at MDO (Mini Deaf Olympics) and plan to make some connections with some of the teens who may be living in the Louisville area but dont know about the deaf churches in our area as well. I have come to know that many of the deaf that I meet do not even know that there are two deaf churches in Louisville and become really shocked that one has been around much longer than the one that I pastor. So one of the reasons I am serving at MDO is to plant that bit of information into the deaf teens who may be living in the Louisville area as well as some of the volunteers who may be helping out this week as well.  Please keep the entire MDO staff and teens in your prayers this week.

Gambling & Christians, do they mix or not?

i have had several people come forward to me admitting that they have gambled in the past and have asked if it was wrong for Christians to do these things. Here in Louisville where it is the heart of horse-racing betting at Churchill Downs and across the river is a casino boat that has generated millions of dollars for its city, I begin to wonder the same question myself. Is it really wrong for people to gamble?

One of the famous questions I can still remember well was “Why does God bless people financially to people that are stuck-up snobs and won’t give to others to help?”  That is a hard question to answer.

I admitted to having done gambling before I became serious in ministry. i used to love to go to Caesar’s and gamble $50 on blackjack or the craps table. If I recall, the last time I played was 1998, almost 10 years ago. I also love to play Fantasy Football which I used to play with a local deaf group of 14 guys. It was fun hanging out with them watching football every monday night and butting heads about players, teams, and just being real men.  Nowadays, I play for free on yahoo fantasy sports which I have won every my league the last 3 years. I begin to wonder…wow, I could have made some money off of that if I had really done something differently.

But then i realized, I was raised a specific way to believe that gambling is a big no-no. I have talked to several people about this issue. Gambling is wrong in the eyes of many of those I have spoken to, but nowhere in the Bible does it say “Thou Shalt Not Gamble” but if we look at various scriptures, there are tons of things that we could piece together little by little to get any idea on what God’s Word says about it but overall it is the individual’s decision on where they stand on this issue. As for me, I am a little challenged by this as I have beleived and felt this was out of the question, a big no for me. And I hope that it challenges you as well.

First of all, “Why gamble?”

Many people gamble because they feel they have needs that cannot be met through earned income. Gambling to them is their “opportunity” to gain more wealth and comforts.

Another group gambles just for the fun of it; they call themselves “social gamblers”.

A third group shows themselves to be “compulsive gamblers.” For them, gambling is a disease that wrecks their finances, families, and careers.

At first glance, each group appears to have a different motive for gambling but, in reality, they all have the same goals: gaining more money without labor or work involved (Proverbs 14:23) – the ultimate in get-rich-quick plans.

Second, “Is gambling wrong?”

As I said, this is only my opinion, but every individual is to make their own decision on how they want to stand on this issue. But this may help you as a Christian evaluate whether gambling is an activity in which you should be involved, because gambling:

  • Often is connected with other sinful acts, such as prostitution and drugs.
  • Is always involved with get-rich-quick motives (see Proverbs 28:22).
  • Discourages work or labor. typically late nighters or calling into work to be off (see Genesis 3:19).
  • Often will offend a brother or sister in Christ (see 1 Corinthians 8:11-12).
  • Grows and feeds a heart of greed and love of money, which Scripture says is the root of all evil. “Those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).

I read somewhere in a magazine that “Christians are the only Christ that many non-Christians will ever see.” Remember that, more often than not, our actions and our decisions will have a great testimony of what should be the true nature of Christ. “I will honor those who honor Me, but those who despise Me will be disgraced” (1 Samuel 2:30). For me, I rather be safe than sorry and not do it at all. If I arrive in Heaven and someone up there tells me that I was allowed to gamble, then oh well, no big deal for me. Would love to get some comments about this if you could share.

Whats up now?

Summer is here and that means what? Alot of vacation time, family time, and of course clean-up time around the house, ugh! We are in the process now of repainting the inside of our entire house…we were originally waiting for our big stimulus check to purchase some things for our home, especially for our bathroom. But come to find out, we will not receive it until next week, grrr! We was hoping to get it while the kids are away from home for the two weeks (my parents elected to keep the kids for two weeks starting on June 16th) We wanted to do it all in the two weeks that the kids were not here, but a blessing happened from one of our friends to purchase paint and a few other things that we needed for our home.

In the meantime, deaf church has been a blessing. I sometimes wonder at the things that God is doing. But as God is blessing many, Satan is also working overtime on many of us. We must be doing something right, I guess! (smile) This past two weeks have been a blessing for me and Mandi, not to say that we don’t miss the kids, but we come to realize that this was a lesson not only for us but for others who we meet. The lesson we are trying to teach is that above all, we put family first. When the kids are with us, we have to submit to helping others because our ministry at home is far more important than any ministry outside of our home. I think Satan has just about had it with me and Mandi meeting people that last few days. We met a couple this past SUnday and stayed until 4am in the morning. Then we went to another couple’s home and spent the night there but was up until 2am. So God has been working through us but Satan has always been working against us. Our van is acting up again, we have several of our friends in serious crisis, and our internet was accidentally cut off, our videophone hasnt been on for a month due to a fault in our router. So wow! Know what I say?  “Whats next, Satan?” If God is for us, who can be against us? To God be the glory!  Keep us in prayers as always as we pray for you too!

What have I been doing lately?

Many of you have probably been wondering what I have been doing lately and I apologize if you visit my blog day after day or week after week to find no change. Its been very hectic and busy with many things lately. I find myself thanking God more and more for volunteers within the ministry because there would be no way I could do all of it.

This past few weeks I have been very focused on the praying and preparing of our Deaf worship services at Southeast. The first one was on March 22nd (Saturday evening). The team did an awesome job with their music, preparing, and tech setup. The Worship coordinator, Brian Timberlake, did very well and was proud of him for what he did for the worship to get it ready, organize it, and lead it.

I also have been preparing the messages to preach. I am given a topic from the hearing church and I do my own messages as God leads me. I find that alot easier but I do know that I also have the freedom that if I don’t feel led to speak on that topic to go whatever the Lord leads me to speak about.

The team is pretty much like my Deaf Cafe years…we come together once a week to talk, discuss improvements, and practice. We setup tech, sound, speakers, etc. We give feedback to each other before and after the church worship. Sara & Derrick Milby, my wife Mandi, Brian Timberlake, and Vernon Gordon have done the music for the last two services and they have been very smooth and wonderful in their song skills. Even though we dont practice as much as we should, I have trusted each of them to practice on their own time and to have some personal worship time themselves.

John Eden and Derrick Milby did the tech for us which involves changing DVDs to set up the music with subtitles, changing to computer for powerpoint displays of bible verses, etc. They also have done a great job as well.

Other than the Deaf church, we have also been preparing for April which will be a very busy month for us. April 18th, we will have our Deaf212 social night which will add about 30 more deaf from a Deaf conference that is being held at our church. It will involve games, guest deaf speaker, and dramas…and maybe one or two songs.  April 25th, we have our first KODA night for kids of deaf parents to come and socialize, play games, and watch short clips, we also will have a guest speaker too for that event.

Anyhow…i also will be taking my first vacation in April to travel somewhere and then on April 10th, I will travel to Knoxville, TN to preach at the Baptist Campus Ministry at University of Tennessee. That will be a blessing as I have preached at Western KY, University of Louisville, Eastern KY, and now adding University of Tennesse to the list.

As for family, we have been very excited about the move to Saturday nights for our church worship. Of course that means, we get to sleep in on Sunday mornings but we have also agreed to visit other churches on Sunday mornings occasionally such as Louisville Baptist Deaf Church, or Valley View Church or Graceland Baptist Church but not limiting to only these…we would likely go to visit other churches that have smaller deaf ministries that we may know about.  Its a great blessing to be able to do that from time to time.

That is about all for now that I can share what i have been doing lately… some of you know that I joined the Biggest Loser Challenge back in January at my church for a staff competition. As of now, i have lost 8 lbs. January I had lost 6 lbs. February I gained 3. March I have lost 5 lbs. So please keep me in prayers as I get back on track. It has been hard but I know that I can do it.

Blessings to all!

What I have been doing lately?

Well obviously I haven’t been on my blog. Smile! Sorry for those of you who come here to check my blog from time to time to remain seeing no changes. I apologize, but it has been very hectic around here. I wanted to fill you in on what I have been doing and what my next few weeks will hold for me.

I looked and noticed I didn’t blog anything since UK beat Tennessee at home…that was still a blessing though. But turned out, Vanderbilt whooped UK for their 5th ever worse loss in the history of Kentucky basketball. My goodness! SO bear with me if I seem out of words as I am still recovering from watching that loss.

So what have I been doing lately? Well we are actually in the process of pre-planning and praying for our lauching of our Deaf church on March 22nd. We have had numerous meetings, plannings, discussions to get things ready to go.

Probably the highlight of the last few weeks was when me and my family traveled to Flint, Michigan. I was asked to preach at the Michigan-based Deaf Cafe ministry event on February 9th. As we drove up, it was so awe-inspiring to actually see 12 inches of snow. Kentucky hasn’t seen that much snow in ages. As we arrived at the home of one of the teammembers, I began to wonder what my life would be like if I was still working for Deaf Cafe. Would the Louisville Deaf Cafe be MORE effective…would it be the same….would it have went in a different direction….would it have… I began to wonder and wonder as I reviewed my sermon for the next evening.  The team-member, Vonnie, began talking about all the cool things that they have done with their Deaf Cafe and I was checking off my list…done that, done that, done that, done that….but it was good to remember those memories of what I had done with the Louisville Deaf Cafe.  I think we didn’t go to bed until like 1 am that night. It was good chatting with Vonnie and be able to know that the Deaf Cafe Michigan was good and strong.

Saturday morning, we got up early to take the kids downtown for snowsledding. We had brought our own snow sled and the kids had a blast. I will post some pictures on that later on when I get around to it. For about 2 hours, we had snowball fights, sledding down the hills, slipping and sliding down hills because we fell so many times. It was fun. But as we all know, fun can only be so much time because somehow work creeps into it. 2 hours later, we went back to Vonnie’s place and changed and headed to Deaf Cafe practice.

I stayed around to watch the practice and get an idea of what the program was about. Mandi and the kids went to the nearby mall to keep the kids busy and do some shopping. (Thank God I got paid before we left, whew!) Anyhow, the Bible story theme was Rachel and Jacob. Which was pretty easy as I had preached about them back in November at another location. But I put an additional thought into it, as I was praying “Lord, what will you have be add or remove from this old sermon that you led me to preach before?” I was watching the dramas and the songs…and then it was revealed. Apparently alot of people connected to the message afterwards and it was a much needed reminder for many who showed up that night. The Bible story was about Rachel and Jacob… the topic was “We dont always get what we want”  Sometimes God reveals somethign to us that we CANT have, but shows that He is in control and He will allow us to have what HE wants us to have.  God revealed Rachel to Jacob…Jacob wanted Rachel….in return…God wanted Jacob to have Leah first….then Rachel later…. but then Jacob understood later why he didnt get Rachel first…Rachel was very “unsatisfied” woman.

Im sorry to say…in today’s world…many of us are the same way….we become not satisfied with what we have… but when we do get that one thing that we want…we sometimes become jealous because someone has something better… I used a movie that I had shown before at our Deaf212 event. A couple of parents had lost their child after 99 days of living……suppose those parents, who had lost that child, witnessed that a friend of theirs was having an abortion or giving up their rights for adoption for their kids….we question other’s actions because we are not satisifed with what happened to us.   In the story of Jacob….I seem to think that he questioned God on the “wife-swap” thing with Leah and was not satisfied which in return….he became blind to what God was revealing all along….”God is in control”

Anyhow…aside from the event, I very much enjoyed it and was honored that God allowed me to see and speak at every Deaf Cafe that was established through the years that I had helped encourage other areas to launch their own. Its been a blessing and I hope the Lord blesses all of the Deaf Cafes that are still serving our Lord today.

So that is what I have been doing…what will I be doing in the next few weeks, months? March will be a busy month as we are approaching the Easter pageant season for our church. It supposed to be the best one ever since they took a year off to reorganize what was important and what needed improvement. From what I have been told, its about 70% technical and movie screen shots that were all acted out by church members. Its going to be interesting…if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet..we still have some left for March 14th, March 20th, March 23rd, and March 28th which will be interpreted. The cost for the tickets are $15 each but it will be worth it, trust me.

After March events are over…April will be a much more smoother month as i travel for a week to two cities in Tennessee. I am possibily staying a few days in Gatlinburg (provided that God wills it for our family vacation) and then to Knoxville to preach at the University of Tennessee Baptist Campus Ministry  (formerly known as BSU in the past). It will be interesting as I am planning to wear my big blue UK shirt to preach in (smiling at Stephen..ya think i will come back alive from doing that?) It will be a good experience. I am seeing more and more that BCMs all over the region are asking me to speak and its been an honor to serve God in those areas.

Until next time…keep me in your prayers as I will pray for you as well….God bless!!

All I want for Christmas is….

….I think we all go through that stage. Friends or relatives usually ask this question in the middle of a conversation, “Steve, what do you want for Christmas?” And usually I get stuck or I think of something totally crazy that I know I will never get (like them Hummers, eh?) But seriously, what do you really want for Christmas?”….

I can think of a million things that I always wanted when I was a kid but never got. I remember asking for and getting a Masters of the Universe: Castle Grayskull play-set along with some He-Man action figures. I remember asking for and getting a Star Wars: Millennium Falcon ship. I remember asking for and getting Transformers: Optimus Prime robot figure. I remember asking for and getting a stereo system with CD+cassette+record player. I remember asking for and getting alot of other things…but as we grow older, it seems almost harder to ask for something and receive it when you actually want it.

I can honestly say that my perspective on Christmas changed dramatically when I had kids. Why? Because its not about what will I get….its about what can I give them? Its not about how many gifts will I get….how many will they get is the focus. Its not about how will we afford to get me something…my joy at Christmas comes when I see my wife and my kids enjoy the gifts that they have. I can remember one Christmas where me and my wife agreed to not get anything for each other and only focus on the kids…but I couldn’t stick to that agreement, I wanted my wife to enjoy as well…

So what do I want for Christmas? I would love for everyone to have a satisfying Christmas with their eyes on Jesus as the true reason. Its not about the cookies and milk, its not about the fancy decorations, its not about the snow, its not about the number of presents under your true. We need to look back to the humble sight of that manger with that little baby in it that had a future to provide US a future. 

So may your next few weeks be joyful. may your next few Sundays in church be focused on Jesus, may your next few family gatherings be full of cheer and happiness. And may you look back with thanksgiving and gratitude for what the Lord has done in hopes that 2008 will be a better year for many of you!

God bless and Merry Christmas to all!

Redefining Deafness

As I was going through my old files, cleaning up my computer, found a few of papers that I wrote for a seminary extension class a few years ago. I read it and pretty much still stand by what I wrote….check it out!

Redefining Deafness                                                                

May 21st, 2005  By: Steve Dye            

While I was reading Chapter 2 about the changes in the deaf world of “Deaf Diaspora”, so many memories came back to me after reading that short piece of information. It mainly spoke about “gaining or having access to the Deaf World.” Many deaf who are mainstreamed will never gain that “membership,” sadly.            

In the beginning when I was entering the Deaf World, it was not easy to learn the language in a time where my wife was so used to ASL. Many times I have been labeled “hard of hearing” instead of deaf. Many times I have been asked which residential Deaf school did I attend, only to be turned off when I share that I was mainstreamed. Many times have I been asked if I am hearing because of my strong social and verbal skills. Many times have I been asked if my children are Deaf or hearing. In my mind, I know why these questions are being asked, but its sad to see that Deaf cannot see beyond those questions and visualize what’s really important. The book explained that many Deaf blame the “mainstreaming of deaf kids” as one of the reasons of the Deaf world declining. I have always disagreed with that. Why? Because we cannot argue with what God was already planning years and years ago. But for the non-Christian Deaf, that comment means worthless. What would I say to them of the reasons why the deaf schools are declining? I have no answer. Only to say that I know the majority of the time, it is the parent’s decision to pull Deaf children out and put them into mainstreamed schools. I also would tell them that the success rate for Deaf residential schools are not the same as before. I would also say, from what I have been told, that the Deaf children’s safety would be more in mainstreamed schools than in Deaf schools. Why? Because many Deaf students have been raped, sexually abused, verbally abused, physically abused, and the list just keeps going. I would think that being able to go to school everyday and come home to the parents everyday (hearing or not), would build up a secure feeling that someone cares about them. Whereas, many Deaf are left at Deaf schools all week, and sometimes never came home except for special occasions in the past. This is probably one of the reasons why Deaf people have no sense of family-time, or closeness to family, or respect of other family when they want to be left alone. Because they, themselves, never had the idea taught to them what a family does on a regular day-to-day basis.           

Membership to a Deaf World is not as important to some. But for those who are married to a Deaf person or the majority of their friends are Deaf, it may be important. Its sad to see that in a world that “takes care of its own,” it will not include everyone who is adequately able to fit in. For the “hard-of-hearing” people or those who think “hearing”, we are stuck in between both worlds which we operate sometimes as a liaison. Is that good? In most cases, yes. Will the label of being a “mainstreamed, oral-deaf, hard-of-hearing” person ever come off? No. But to think ahead in the future, all of our “labels” will come off eventually when we get to Heaven. I mean its not like Jesus will sign to the deaf, then put his hands down and start speaking clearly to the hard-of-hearing, and then talk normal to the hearing people. That’s silly. Jesus will speak loud and we will all hear it, period! So my question to Deaf people all around the world, why can’t we start taking each other’s “labels” off now and enjoy it?

A New Beginning

Wow! I’ve been reading other people’s blogs for about a year and a half. And I felt it was high-time that I started my own so that people can get a glimspe into my heart and what Im thinking. I probably wont post as much as some of you others out there do but hey, if I got the time, I will do it. Please keep me in your prayers and I figure this blog thing out. It seems easy but then again, always gotta learn something new.

I guess one of the first things I wanna share is that God is good. All the time! After 10 years of volunteering to lead deaf ministries, God answered my prayer finally…with a full-time paying job. Now I know some of us out there are saying, money is not everything. But when you volunteer for 10 years with little or not pay at all, and you have a wife and kids to help feed, it begins to bring you more harder on your knees to pray for that one blessing to happen. Lo and behold, God answered! 

 So adding to that and finishing this blog, my thanks and appreciation goes out to those who helped me along the way to this position. A few to name would be Colin Bruner, who was and still is my mentor through the 10 years of my learning. Tim Bender, who is the deaf pastor at Louisville Baptist Deaf Church in my city. The Lord helped him to start me on a journey that helped me to learn the postives and negatives of being a “pastor.” If not for him and leading Deaf Cafe, I have no idea what kind of a leader I would be today. Bob Ayres, who was my first “general” to help me use my gifts as a leader in DeafTeen Quest. And then of course, above all of these guys would be my parents. Mom and Dad has always prayed and prayed for me in my paths into the world. I dont think they would ever have thought that their oldest son would be a pastor to the deaf. But overall, they were my ultimate cheerleaders from before I started my path to serve the Lord. Thanks guys! And thanks to all of you who helpled me along my way. With thanksgiving coming around the corner, we need to take the time to thank those who helped us on our journey to where we are today.  Until next time, lets do that, shall we?