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Personal Reflection on Losing Loved Ones

Corey and Mom

This week has been the culmination of two of the hardest years of our lives for me and my wife. On April 4, 2015, my mother Carrie Hazel Tabor transitioned to heaven 23 minutes prior to Easter from a hospice room in Abilene, Texas at the age of 65 years old. She had spent nearly 25 years year on dialysis after suffering kidney failure in 1991 only missing a handful of appointments yet the lack of circulation in her legs led to a fall that caused a uncontrollable brain bleed that would not clot due her thin blood from nearly 25 years of dialysis. I thought the kidney failure would eventually take her but it was a fall due to the years of kidney failure that did the job.

April and VanessaOn May 13, 2015, just hours after my wife April received her second masters degree, her mother, my mother-in-love Vanessa Carol Wynn transitioned to heaven from a hospice room in Dallas, Texas just a day before mother’s day at the age of 56 years old. After having my wife at 19 years old, spending over 10 years as a flight attendant, dodging a potential tragedy on 911 and taking care of a father and mother who died of cancer, she lost her battle with brain cancer after two years of fighting. I thought she would live into her 90’s like her grandmother or at least into her 70’s like her mother but she didn’t make it to her 60’s.

Rick and VanessaOn yesterday, November 28, 2017 just days after Thanksgiving, my wife’s stepfather, my father-in-love Rickey Jerome Wynn transitioned to heaven from a hospice room in Dallas, Texas after an over year long battle with adenocarcinoma in the salvatory gland that eventually spread to his spine at the age of 63 years old. I thought he would live in his 90’s like my grandmothers but he didn’t make it to the expected retirement age of 65.

As a staff pastor at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church from 2003-2005 (volunteer staff) 2005-2009 (paid staff), we would host sometimes 40-50 funerals per year. We might show up to work one day and there be a limousine in the front of the church parking lot and a casket at the front of the building. I kept a black suit in my office because any given day we would be called to read a scripture of comfort, pray words of comfort for a family or simply be present to walk a family member into the sanctuary who legs struggled to hold them up under the pressure of such a great loss. Sadly at times you could become desensitized to the losses especially if it was a family member of a family member of a family member of a member of the church who you did not know or had not had the privilege of personally knowing. I would often sit on stage and imagine my parents in that casket to relate and empathize with what the family was going through. Now I don’t have to imagine, I know the feeling. Everyone feels differently when losing a loved one but whether it was expected or sudden, the final loss of life on this side called death is uniquely painful.

Though I have now lost 3 of my four parents and my daughter has lost 3 of four grandparents, I will never say I know exactly how someone feels at the loss of a loved one because I don’t know how they feel but I know how I feel. I feel angry at the sin the entered the world in the garden leading to separation from God and our loved ones through death in this body. I feel grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus that pays the penally for our sin so we don’t have experience eternal separation from God in a place the Bible calls hell. I feel hurt for my wife has loss two of the closest people in her world to this world in the last six months. I feel guilty because many have lost their living parents to drug addiction, alcohol addiction, incarceration, deportation and the like. I feel disappointed due to the nearly 60 million babies in the US and nearly 1.5 billion across the world who never knew life outside of the womb due to their parent or parents aborting them in the womb. I feel confused that in 2016  17,250 murders outside of the womb were committed in the U.S. We know that Cain killed Abel, which was the third crime in the garden after Adam and Eve stole fruit from God and made those ugly clothes from the hide of animals Adam had just named (joke :).

So as you can see I have all kinds of feelings but what is grounding me in this season is not my feelings by my faith that usurps the fact that my 3 of my four parents are no longer on this planet in the physical shell we know as a body but their spirits live on in eternity based on what the Bible, the holy inspired word of God in which I believe.

The following scriptures give me foundational hope to handle the hurt in this season. 

  • Romans 12:15 – Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
  • Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
  • John 14:1-3 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:12 – 5:10 – So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

These passages and many others give me a biblical perspective on death but I cannot only cognate death, I must hope in eternal life so I am committing to reading the book “Imagine Heaven” by Pastor John Burke to gain a perspective on what my loved ones who had faith in Christ are experiencing now.

I will also worship listening to these two songs along with others that encourage my heart in times of physical loss.

Finally, I will listen to this sermon that I preached on October 1, 2003 at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church to consider what I want to be said of me when I have transitioned to heaven at some point rather through the rapture or in physical death.

Click below to hear this message Legacy or Liability: What Will Your Mark Be

Legacy or Liability - What Will Your Mark Be - Pastor Corey Tabor

 

 

22 Years Ago Today . . .

The day was November 19, 1995. I was a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. I was living in an all male dorm Moore Hill room 109. I was scheduled to attend church that morning but my mentor and big brother Donyall Dickey was not able to pick me up that day so I stayed in my dorm but was still wanting to connect with Jesus so I read the bible. I read Ephesians 5. It’s like the words were jumping off the pages and forming puzzles that my mind and spirit were putting together. The bible was making more and more sense.

Tabor Family Young
Tabor Family 1976

Now to understand this moment, I must digress and explain my spiritual background and the context of my life at the time. I grew up as the son of Samuel and Carrie Tabor, a pastor in the Church of God in Christ, the largest African American denomination in the world. So my background was being a part of a small pentecostal local church serving as a children’s Sunday School teacher, singing in the choir and playing the drums. I grew up in Abilene, Texas a town of 100,000 people with the most churches per capita in the country and three Christian universities.

 

 

 

Homecoming King
Corey Tabor and Sonya Scott 1995 Homecoming King and Queen

I had graduated from high school with seven academic scholarships (mostly local) and was ending my dream senior year of being student body president, speech team president, homecoming king and co-host to a children’s television show called, “Camp Waycoo”. 

After completing my personal bible study on the morning of November 19, 1995, I went to Jester dormitory to each lunch and came back and watched the Dallas Cowboys beat the Oakland Raiders 34-21. I played Madden video game to continue the beat down and then prepared for Sunday evening service that night at the church I was attending called Praise Tabernacle now known at the R.O.C.K.. That night at church Elder Mark Floyd preached a sermon about spending time with God. He recommended that instead of going home to watch TV we go home and spend time with God. So I went back to my dorm room and started listening to Fred Hammond and Radical for Christ’s Inner Court CD. 

As I listened to the CD I sensed that God was calling me to preach the gospel, not just as a lay person but as a called preacher / minister / reverend whatever your tradition calls it. I was reticent because having seen my brother and father both be ministers I knew how challenging it was and you couldn’t do it well or long without being called. So I told God I was scared, three times in a row. Finally I asked for confirmation and fell asleep. The next morning I called my mother and the first thing she said was, “God called you to preach last night.” She heard from God and she confirmed what I heard. That December my brother and I led a Christmas youth revival at my dad’s church and I began preaching the gospel. I went on to grow in spiritual leadership at UT by becoming chaplain of the choir my sophomore year, president of the choir my 3rd, 4th and 5th years and continued as a member of Gamma Phi Delta.

Prioritize for Your Purpose Logo FinalAfter graduation, I started a bible study on campus that was partnered with Praise Tabernacle and the next year we affiliated with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to launch Texas Gospel Fellowship, a ministry to black students at UT. During this time I wrote a resource that has continued to be developed and shared called, Prioritize for Your Purpose: Ordering Your Life to Be Extraordinary. We are hosting a workshop January 13th at the H.I.M. Center to share that content as people begin their year. After four years of severing with InterVarsity, I joined the staff of Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church as the Maturity and Ministry Pastor where I served for 4 years prior to planting the church I now pastor Full Life Community Church.

22 years ago, I was a zealous, passionate inexperienced boy who God called for his purposes to minister to the body of Christ. Today, I’ve had many maturing experiences that have allowed me grow as a person and a minister of the gospel. I am thankful that for over half my life I have been preaching the gospel in season and out of season as Paul describes in 2 Timothy 4:2. I have preached to children, students, adults young and older. I have preached in places from Colorado to Las Vegas to California. I have preached at chapel for the University of Texas football team and in local prisons. I served on missions trips in Kenya and Ethiopia,  officiated weddings, dedicated babies and preached my own mom’s funeral. 

Philippians 1.6.All I can say after all these experiences is to say that God is faithful. He has allowed me to see thousands of people’s lives impacted for the kingdom of God and he has taught me so much about his heart for me and his world. I am more committed than ever to live out the gospel as a minister of the gospel knowing that he who began a good work in me in able to carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). I am thankful to all who have led me as pastors, ministry leaders and mentors and to all who have allowed me to lead them as their pastor, ministry leader or mentor. I am thankful to my parents to planted the seed of faith in me at a young age and to my wife April who has been by my side the entire way. Let’s do another 22 years of preaching the gospel of Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and utter most parts of the world. 

Being Who God Created You to Be

Today we will begin sharing one chapter of the book, “Being: A 30-Day Guide to Being Who God Created You to Be. If you would like to order the book or the audio book go to our Store. If you would like to book Corey Tabor to come speak to your group go to Booking. We pray that the public release of the book on our blog will bless you daily as you learn to be who God created you to be.

Introduction

Being who God made you to be

Do you remember learning as a child the value of self-actualization? I am sure you did not know how to say, or pronounce, the word, but you were consistently asked the fundamental question of self-actualization – “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The question was a trick question. Because while being asked what you wanted to be, you were really being asked, “What do you want to do that will earn you a living so you can get off your parent’s tab?”

We spend our entire lives meeting people and asking the question, “What do you do for a living?” So many people are productive, driven, seemingly successful, and yet unhappy because they have been answering the wrong question all along. The best question to ask is not “What do you do for a living?” but rather, “What are you being as you live?” You can have a job that pays well, but does not allow you to fulfill your purpose.

Once you learn how to be who God created you to be, you can learn how to do what God created you to do out of your being.

Read Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  42 but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In this passage we read about Mary and Martha, who are two sisters who sincerely love Jesus. Martha chose to do something for Jesus by making preparations for Him to be in her home, while Mary chose to be with Jesus to make preparations for what she would eventually do. Later in Scripture, we read of Mary giving one of the greatest sacrificial gifts described in the Bible. She poured a jar of perfume on Jesus that was equal to the value of a year’s wages, because she had been with Jesus instead of just doing for Jesus. Mary gave a gift that was a reflection of her generosity, a gift birthed in a personal relationship defined by being with Christ. Similarly, what we do will flow out of who we are.

Earlier this year, I was leaving to go to work one day when a woman I had never met before asked me, “Do you ever slow down?” I was shocked at her candor and boldness. I was embarrassed of my lifestyle because though she had never met me, she knew me through observation from afar. I immediately began to defend myself, listing all the reasons I needed to live at the pace I was living. She answered, “I used to run the rat race too. About two years ago, I just had to make a decision to slow

down.” With that, she left me alone to my own thoughts and drove away.

Driving down the freeway, I could not seem to get her question out of my mind. I knew that God was trying to tell me something, but I was not ready to listen. So, when I arrived at work, one of my co-workers asked me, “Why are you here? You are not going to get anything done. Go home!” So after 30 minutes of driving home thinking about the second conversation, I knew God was trying to tell me something and I started to listen.

That infamous day began a season of involuntary rest through the vehicle of burnout and fatigue. I could not think, I could not produce, and I could not function. My mind, body and spirit were burned out from living a Martha lifestyle. I was waking up at 6:00am and working until 12:00am trying to balance marriage, ministry and school. This Martha lifestyle kept me from sitting at the feet of Jesus. After six weeks of lying on my back, living from the bed to the couch, I finally learned that God is more concerned about who I am than what I can do for Him. I learned that being God’s son is more important to my identity than being God’s servant. This book is a response to my new life in Christ – being instead of doing.

In this book, you will learn to embrace life-changing character qualities that will help you be who God created you to be, so that you can do what God created you to do. Our character is defined by who we are, and who we are enables us to do what we do. For example, being accepted by God allows me to take the risk of sharing my faith. No matter how any individual responds, I am already accepted as God’s child. Being different allows me to celebrate the uniqueness of others. When I know God has created me uniquely, I can embrace His unique creation in others. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Each day you will focus on an attribute that God desires as a supernatural part of your character and you will be empowered by His Spirit to live the life He desires for you.

Each day your devotional guide will provide:

• Focused Scripture Passage

• Devotional Reading

• Personal Reflection Questions

• Today’s Prayer

• Statement of Being

Join me on this 30 day journey to writing your new story of being who God has created you to be.

Let the journey begin . . .

Black Lives Matter in the Womb: My Journey to Understanding Abortion

Abortion is the #1 Killer of Blacks in the United States!

As part of our Black Lives Matter to God Series at Full Life Community Church, I decided to adBlack Lives Matter @flccaustindress the issue of abortion and how it is impacting the Black community for the first time at our church. I preached a sermon entitled, “Black Lives Matter in the Womb”. You can hear the sermon here.

I’m writing this blog today to share about my journey to understanding the impact of abortion of women, men and families. I started working at a Staff Educator for Austin LifeCare Pregnancy Resource Center (ALC) which is a CareNet affiliated pregnancy center that assists men and women dealing with unplanned pregnancies. ALC has been in existence since 1984 and in 1989 began Austin LifeGuard (ALG) as a preventative program that provides sexual risk avoidance education to middle school and high school students throughout Central Texas.

Part of my training to be a staff educator was to learn more about what pregnancies center provide and one of those services is decision counseling to assist a person in making an informed decision related to their pregnancy. In addition to this service, the center offers free professional counseling, free premarital counseling, free birthing classes and free parenting classes. All the class participants receive vouchers called “Baby Bucks” that can be used to “purchase” items in a boutique called Hannah’s Closet including items like baby clothes, diapers, wipes, formula, strollers, pack and plays and the like. All of this impressed me because I could see how men and women who were dealing with an unplanned pregnancy might benefit from these services. The second service that impacted me was the support groups to assist women in recovering from an abortion, miscarriage or sexual abuse. There are free groups to provide support for men and women who have been through these life altering events.

We were then given the opportunity to view two documentaries, “Blood Money” which speaks of the monetary drive in the abortion industry and “Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America” which speaks of the intentional and strategic impact of abortion on the black community. After watching these documentaries, I was informed about something I’d never really known about. I didn’t know how abortion worked in our country and now I was informed so I had to do something.

To say the least, I was impacted by this information and began to learn more. As I spoke with men and women who had been a part of an abortion decision, I was hearing the impact it had on their lives. Men who wanted their children and were not given a chance to have them and women who made a decision in the moment that they often regretted later. My heart was broken and my passion was fuel.

I immediately began to get involved in discovering what I could do. I became involved in working with our center to refer men and women to the support groups that were being offered to assist them in recovery. I began working with the Texas Alliance for Life by attending the Rally for Life and their annual banquet. Eventually, I joined their Board of Directors and now serve as the Secretary. I met with legislators who would work to create legislation that would make abortion safer for women who were considering the decision and more than anything I wanted to get the word out to other pastors and people in the Black community so I joined the EMBRACE Initiative started by Debbie Juhlke and now I serve as chair.

I am not approaching this issue blindly nor with a limited understanding of what causes people to consider abortion. I am not judging people who have made the choice, I am focused on helping people make a better choice because few people I know who have had an abortion look back at the experience positively and think, “Let’s do that again”. Our church is working to develop plans to offer a ministry to men and women who have had abortions or are considering abortions. I will continued my work in the community and provide leadership and support to other leaders to work on this issue day in and day out.

I want to encourage you to follow the four steps I laid out in my sermon as an application to this blog:

  1. Get informed – learn the facts
  2. Get impacted – move from statistics to stories
  3. Get invested – realize that this issue matters
  4. Get involved – do something to make a difference

I have seen so many people learn about this issue and use these four steps to do something about it. You can be the next person to speak truth and learn how to help others. My hope is that you have heard my heart and my desire to help and not to hurt, my desire to bring healing and not harm, my desire to bless and not curse.

Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blesses and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

I challenge us all to choose life.

20 Years of Preaching!

On November 19, 1995, 20 years ago changed my life forever. The day began in a unique way. It was a cool, brisk Sunday morning as I woke up in my dorm room at Moore Hill dormitory on the University of Texas at Austin campus. I went to breakfast at Jester cafeteria and came back to my room to get ready for church. My friend and mentor who was supposed to pick me up did not show up, so I went back to my room and started studying Ephesians 5:21-33 which is one of Paul’s writings related to family, marriage and the relationship between Christ and His church. It seemed that the words were jumping off the page and my mind was enlightened to fully understand what the passage was saying and how it applies to life. I was in a dating relationship but was not married and had no children but this passage was coming alive to me.

The day continued as normal, I went to lunch in Jester cafeteria and came back to the dorm room to watched the Dallas Cowboys and later played Madden 1994 on my Nintendo 64. That evening the church I was a member of hosted a Sunday night service and I attended. The Senior Pastor was out of town one of the Elders was preaching and his message was focused on getting to know God. After singing and preaching he encouraged us to go home that evening and spend time with God instead of watching TV or talking on the phone. I did and my life changed that night forever.

While worshiping in my dorm room listening to Fred Hammond’s InnerCourt CD, I began singing to God and later worshiping deeply. While worshiping I sensed the call of God on my life to preach but was sincerely afraid. I had watched my dad and brother accept the call and knew that it was not an easy call to live out. I knew that what people saw on Sunday morning or on television was not the entire picture to what it means to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I had seen the sacrifices of time, money and frankly emotional safety that is often a part of ministry. So I continued to ask God if he would confirm the call. The next morning, my mom called me and without any introduction simply said, “The Lord called you to preach last night.” With that, I accepted the confirmed call and the next month preached my first official sermon at my father’s church during a Christmas Youth Revival my brother and I led.

Since that time, I have preached in cities and in the country, at churches and in retreat centers, on college campuses and boats on the lake. God has given me the privilege of being one his mouth pieces for 20 years. I have not done it perfectly but I have done it to the best of my ability. My heart has always been to honor God with my life and preach as an overflow of a life lived in submission and obedience to God. I often say, God led me to a relationship with him early because he wanted to use my whole life for him and my hope is that I am blessed to preach another 40 years and then some. 

I want to thank my parents for creating an environment where I was able to accept Christ as my Savior and Leader and I want to thank my wife April for loving me and being my partner through the seasons of ministry transition and development.

I am inviting all who can to make an investment in our ministry in this season. The church is in a prime season for growth and my personal ministry continues to expand throughout Central Texas and the U.S.  Any investment you can make in the following areas will make a huge difference:

  1. Prayer Partnership – Pray that I continue to live a life of integrity and honor God with my life and then my gifts.
  2. Financial Partnership – offering a monthly financial gift to sustain our ministry ($20, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1000 or more)
  3. Ministry Partnership – I would love to come serve your church, school, nonprofit or other organization through ministry offerings including (speaking, singing, comedy, coaching or strategic planning).
Click to donate
Click to donate

I want to thank all the pastors and leaders who have invested in my preaching ministry over the past 20 years:

Tabor Investors
Thank you for your eternal investment in my ministry as a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  1. Abilene District Superintendent Eld. Samuel Tabor – Praise Temple C.O.G.I.C. Abilene, Texas
  2. Mother Carrie Tabor – Heaven by Way of Abilene, Texas
  3. Wichita District Superintendent Eld. Herman Hicks – Greater Pentecostal C.O.G.I.C. Wichita, Kansas
  4. Apostle Dr. Dana Carson, Founder Reflections of Christ Kingdom (R.O.C.K) – Houston, Texas
  5. Rodney Walker, CEO Grant Central, USA – Pasadena, California
  6. Pastor David Hanke, Restoration Arlington – Arlington, Virginia
  7. Pastor Brian Wallace, Fuller Seminary
  8. Pastor Alexander Gee, Fountain of Life Covenant Church – Madison, Wisconsin
  9. Pastor Gaylon Clark – Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church – Austin, Texas
  10. Pastor Kevin White – Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church – Austin, Texas
  11. Pastor Sherwynn Patton – Life Anew – Austin, Texas
  12. Pastor Sean Watkins – InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Full Life Community Church – Austin, Texas
  13. Pastor Michelle Verrill – InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Full Life Community Church
  14. Pastor Patty Pell – InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
  15. Pastor Cliff Warner – Christ Church – Austin, Texas
  16. Pastor Josef Rasheed – CrossRoads Covenant Church – DeSoto, Texas
  17. Pastor Brett Coe – First Christian Church – Kerrville, Texas
  18. Pastor Terrell Fletcher – City of Hope International at Faith Chapel – San Diego, California
  19. Pastor DeChard Freeman – Abundant Life Community Baptist Church – Pflugerville, Texas
  20. Pastor Carlton Smith – Antioch Fellowship – Cleveland, Ohio
  21. Innervisions Gospel Choir where I served as chaplain and president from 1996-2000
  22. Gamma Phi Delta Christian Fraternity, Inc 1996-2000
  23. Texas Gospel Fellowship – UT Austin 2001-2005
  24. Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church – Austin, Texas 2003 – 2009
  25. Full Life Community Church 2011-Present

 

Haunted by the Holidays (Financially)

3 WAYS TO NOT REGRET THE HOLIDAYS

I remember growing up in a family where the holidays offered mixed emotions. I enjoyed serving in my father’s church singing Christmas songs like, “Jesus, What a Wonderful Child”.

Yet, at the same time often we were housing families in our home who were homeless themselves or caring for members of my father’s church who were unemployed, so a Christmas tree with many gifts under the tree was not always a reality in our home. We always made it about Jesus but as a kid, honestly sometimes I wanted it to be about us.

As I grew older and began to matriculate through high school, college and into adulthood, I realized how challenging it was for me to consistently save throughout the year for Christmas so every year it seemed I was stressed to find ways to make up for the money I did not have for gifts. I also realized that giving gifts during Christmas is not just about our family but it’s also about giving to Jesus through his church. My former church used to have a “Birthday Party for Jesus” and they would make sure that we focused on Jesus’ birthday as a day to give something to him as compared to as a way to get something just for us. (My birthday being December 20 always makes it challenging to separate the two)

I am not opposed to buying gifts for family and friends but in the end, we should follow three key principles to keep us from being haunted by the holidays:

  1. REMEMBER TO NEVER SPEND WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE (GET CREATIVE!)

empty-wallet

So many people “rob Peter and Paul” so to speak to purchase gifts for people even beyond their family that may or may not be that interested in them in the first place. If you don’t have the money in the bank, get creative, write a poem, make a video on your phone or craft something from the craft section at the local craft store like Hobby Lobby. 

My first Christmas during my dating relationship with my wife, I had little money due to being a college student whose income was based on working a part-time job making $7.00 an hour along with scholarships and school loans. I prayed and asked for a way to bless April with my gifts and low and behold God gave me the vision to create a “LIFE Magazine” about the beginning of our relationship which began that August 2, 1999 at 11:37pm CST. (Brothers remember dates, they often matter to your lady).

This magazine shared our journey from miniature golfing, watching movies, going to water parks and meaningful times we spent at church. When April saw this gift, she was blown away by the thoughtfulness and creativity. I didn’t have my own computer or fancy graphic design software, I just had a desire to show love to my girlfriend while living within my means.

I could have taken one of those free credit cards that they offer on campus for a “free T-shirt” but I would have been haunted by the holidays for years to come with debt plus interest that were not worth the gift I would have purchased.

This magazine will serve as foundation for sharing our story with our daughter as she gets older.

2. REMEMBER RELATIONSHIPS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN REPORTS

this_christmas02I have heard so many people in the mall talking to friends, family and even mall employees about how much the recipient will love the gift and therefore love them. Husbands are in jewelry stores taking out credit to buy a gift their wife will love but that won’t make their wife love them. Parents are in toy stores spending the grocery budget on toys that the child will love but will not make the child love them. (In fact the child probably wants to play with the box instead of the gift, at least this is what I’ve found early on). Remember that your relationships are more important than the report your family, friends or co-workers may have about your gift.

When we buy with the report in mind, we’re buying for us as the giver instead of them as a recipient.

3. REMEMBER RECREATION IS A PART OF HIS CREATION

Many of us will receive one to two days off work for Christmas while others will receive one or two weeks. It is so easy to spend our time meeting with friends, traveling to see family (locally or nationally), or staying up all night to get deals on Black Friday. These are all important options to consider but most importantly remember to schedule some rest and recreation. I have an entire series of sermons I have developed on Sabbath resting and how important it is for us to work hard but then rest well.

God in his creation of the world “worked hard” to create a world that would have a sun which would be the just the right distance from the earth to keep us from freezing or burning up. He “worked hard” to create landmass to live on and water to hydrate our bodies. But even He in all his power, might and strength chose to spend the seventh day of the week resting (See Genesis 2:1-3). (I put the term “worked hard” in quotes because working hard for God is not hard but you get the point.) 

God’s model of resting one day a week was designed to keep us from believing we have to do everything everyday or that we have to do it all right now. His model also gave us a weekly opportunity to “JUST SAY NO” to being productive.

golf ball sunsetOn my Sabbath I spend time doing a number of things that I’ll share in a later blog but one of them is to recreate or “re-create”. I find time to do something that fills my tank and helps me feel energized for the week. God uses things like conversations with friends and rounds of golf to refill my tank for the work I’m call to do in the coming week. When we recreate our bodies releases hormones and chemicals in our brains like serotonin and dopamine that cause us to feel whole, healthy, and happy for our future. So don’t forget to recreate during the holidays.

Always remember:

  1. Never Spend What You Don’t Have (Be Creative!)
  2. Relationships Are More Important than Reports
  3. Recreation Is A Part of His Creation

If you put these principles into practice, you will not have to be haunted by the holidays! Next week I will share some insights on how to deal with the emotional challenges of the holidays in Haunted by the Holidays (Emotionally)

September 11th-The Day that Changed Everything (For me)

September 11, 2001, a day that changed our nation forever. This day is a day that changed my life forever. The morning of September 11th, I was headed to staff meeting with a newly formed team of InterVarsity Campus Staff Members who were hoping to reach the campus for Christ in a unique way. For the first time in it’s history in Central Texas, InterVarsity was going to be a multiethnic ministry serving multiple cultural communities at the University of Texas at Austin. As I walked into staff meeting, the team was watching the television and saying, “The World Trade Center has been hit.” Honestly, I did not know what the World Trade Center was. I had never been to New York and had little knowledge of it’s significance. As the day unfolded, I realized that our world, our nation would never be the same.

TGFThe ministry I was founding called, Texas Gospel Fellowship was scheduled to have it’s first large group bible study that night and we were wrestling with what to do. We ultimately decided to send our 7 team leaders to the prayer vigil being held at the Tower on UT’s campus. They brought 40 people back to UTC. 1.130 with them and Texas Gospel Fellowship was born. Over the next four years, God would use this ministry to impact hundreds of lives for the kingdom and he would use the journey to teach me that I could trust him in ministry.

September 11, 2005, a day that I will never forget. I had just become the Maturity and Ministry Pastor at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church during the summer and we had been planning for a new ministry to launch on this day called the Greater Life Institute (GLI). GLI was designed to teach life skills and ministry skills to members of Greater Mt. Zion and the community at large as a way to equip people for life and the work of ministry. This ministry taught me so much about the truth of John 8:32, when people know the truth, they can be set free.

Full Life Community ChurchSeptember 11, 2011, Ten years after that infamous date where the nation mourned and a ministry born, God birthed a third ministry child called, Full Life Community Church. On this day, students and alumni from Texas Gospel Fellowship as well as new parters with Full Life Community Church came together at the Wells Branch Library and Full Life Community Church was launched. Four years ago today, the preparation from TGF and GMZ led to FLCC becoming a reality.

Tabor FamilyNone of this would have been possible without the love and support of my parents and the prayers of my mother. On March 30, 2014, my mother attended our church for the last time as we dedicated our new church facility and our daughter Anaia to the Lord. She constantly prayed for me and offered me the courage to trust God in the midsts of the faith walk called obedience. So today as many mourn the loss of families, the loss of security and the loss of life we suffered on 9/11, I want to honor my mother by sharing the sermon I preached at her funeral on April 11, 2015 entitled, “The Fighting Finisher”. I hope this message inspires you to continue fighting to fulfill the purpose God has for your life. I miss her but I know she is proud of what God has done and is doing.

This Sunday as I stand at Full Life Community Church celebrating 4 years of church life, I know that I will be standing on the shoulders of my mother who was a “Fighting Finisher” to the end. If this message speaks to you or encourages you, please share it with someone else and let me know by sending a message to corey.tabor@befull.org.

What’s So Good about Friday

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What I was growing up, Friday was the day everybody could not wait for. I grew up in West Texas the home Friday Night Lights. If you’re not familiar with the storyline, every Friday night in West Texas, cities shut down so they can join their city in supporting their local high school football team. People have chants and cheers and colors set aside to celebrate their team. This weekly tradition was more than football, it was family. Though we were from different ethnic groups and socioeconomic statuses, we knew that we could unify around our team. Football was something that brought everyone together.

Today as we celebrate what you describe is Good Friday in Christendom, we find out celebrating the death of Christ is a good thing. As I think about my eight week old daughter and her life that she is now living, there is nothing that would cause me to feel that her death could be a positive thing.

But in John 3:16, the Bible says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life”

God said it was a good thing that his son die. Jesus is the only person to have ever lived a perfect life. And because his life was without sin, he was able to stand in the place of every sinner with ever walked the face of the earth. He is the one who took our place so we would not have to pay the penalty for sin, which is death, separation from God. His death was completely necessary for us experience eternal life.

Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus hung on that cross and took the entire burden of our sins. He was beaten,
he was bruised, he was embarrassed but yet he never said a word in his own defense. Jesus took it, so we can take it. So today we celebrate his courage, his calling and his commitment to seeing that each created child of God had an opportunity to have the intimate relationship that he has with the Father.

So the question is, “Was it good for Jesus to die?” It did not look good, it did not feel good, it did not sound good, but it was very good. The question is what happens when our dreams die, when our hope dies, or a relationship dies ; it doesn’t feel good it doesn’t look good it doesn’t sound good but it can be very good because after the death there’s often a resurrection.

May God give you his perspective on your “Good Friday” seasons.

Get to Steppin’

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13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:13-26

Nearly 20 years ago I joined Gamma Phi Delta Christian Fraternity, Inc.  I was the 7th of 8 brothers on the Spring 1996 Alpha Genesis Chapter line at the University of Texas at Austin. I was a freshman who’d grown up in the church, the son of a pastor. I knew how to sing to God, I knew how to play drums and I knew how speak for God through teaching the Bible. I knew how to be used by the Holy Spirit but I did not know how to walk in the Spirit.

This fraternity was a group of young men 18-23 years old who’d made a decision to stand up for Christ as godly men on campus by joining this fraternity but to also develop others to do the same (sounds a little like Matthew 28:19 – making disciples of all nations). As I spent time with these men, I learned how to walk in the Spirit. They taught me how to be sensitive to what the Spirit was saying in everyday life.  As I walked across campus to my classes, God might speak to me through an encounter with a friend or he might speak to me through the water of a springing fountain or a squirrel that ate well and was provided for. I learned that starting my day with God in prayer and scripture reading was the just the beginning of walking in the spirit.

My “quiet time” or “devotional time” was meant to help me prioritize God in my day, it was not meant for me to block God out after that 15-30 minute initial meeting. The morning meeting was designed to get the conversation going. My role was to continue to listen with spiritual ears throughout the day because the Spirit might lead me to ask a question of someone who has wisdom or to offer a listening ear to someone who needs it. I could be used by the Spirit and walk with the Spirit at the same time. As I began to note this, my spiritual life was awakened, my connection to God deeper and my impact in my community was broader.

When Jesus left earth to go back to the Father in heaven, he promised the Holy Spirit would come and guide us into all truth.

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth – John 16:13

The truth mentioned here is not simply the facts we see or the circumstances we are in; the truth is our reality in relation to God. So though my friend may seem far from God, Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us and he loves my friend enough to reveal himself to her (John 3:16). Even though my financial funds seem less than needed at, God will provide my needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). This reality of walking in the Spirit changed my spiritual journey. I was no longer just encountering the Spirit on Sunday at church, but he was intersecting my daily life. This is what he desires, the Holy Spirit wants to walk with you and wants you to walk with him.

As a member of my fraternity, I was able to participate in the fraternity’s step team. Stepping is a tradition in historically black fraternities and sororities where members do routines that we are a combination of stomping and dancing in syncopation with synchronization while reciting key information related to their fraternity or sorority message. Groups spend hours on end in private practicing to memorize their steps, their lines and their step team members so when presenting in a public forum, they can be in sync and present the right message in the right pace before an audience in public.

As followers of Christ, our daily private moments with him, help us to synchronize with the Spirit so when we arrive in public there is sameness of character with our spirit and God’s Spirit. The byproduct of private moments with the Holy Spirit, is the public demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

So today, I challenged every person that is a Christ-follower to get to steppin’, knowing that the Spirit is ready to guide them into all truth.  This is important, because those who are further from our Father are looking for fruit from the children of God. When they see healthy fruit in our lives, they get hungry for what we have, an authentic and real relationship with the God of all creation, the master of the universe, the Heavenly Father who so badly wants to connect with them that he allowed his only Son to be brutally murdered in front of hundreds so we could experience eternal life in heaven and full life on earth.  It’s up to you and me to get to steppin’ today.

There's an App for That

There’s an App for That 

1. What is the most significant obstacle you have to overcome to meet with God daily?

2. Recall a time you were walking in the Spirit; in one word describe how you felt?

3. What truth do you need the Spirit to lead you into this day, week, month or season?

4. What can you do today to get to steppin’?

The Day We’ve Been Waiting For

After 10 years of being married, we found out we were pregnant with a baby and we were so excited.  We had been waiting for this day to come and it was finally here.  This was just the beginning.  Over the next number of weeks, we found out we were having a baby girl.  As soon as we found out, I started thinking about paying for a wedding!  I knew that I wanted to provide everything that I could for her to come into the world and be successful.  As the months continued, we had sonograms monthly and we continued to see her grow.  My wife, April continued to teach her fourth grade class as her students continued to be excited about the day our child would be born.  I work at a pregnancy resource center directing our sex education program.  During my presentation introduction I progressed from simply talking about my amazing wife and our wonderful marriage to sharing our story of being with child.  While teaching about pregnancy and fetal development, I could relate to the seasons of pregnancy from 8 weeks to 20 weeks to 24 weeks. All the pieces of the puzzle were coming together.  

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After 40 weeks of pregnancy, our daughter was not ready to come.  My wife began dilating but was not progressing so we waited.  40 weeks and 1 day, 40 weeks and 2 days, 40 weeks and 3 days, 4 days, 5 days, 6 days, 7 days.  On the seventh day we came back to the doctor and they communicated the need for us to begin labor the next day with the assisting of an induction.  That night, we partnered with members from our church to move into our new worship space as we celebrated the anticipated delivery of our little girl.  We have patiently waited for God to bless us with a child and this is the day we have been waiting for.  I am thankful for the miracle of married, love, conception and fetal development.  Today, our dream of having a child will come true and all I can simply say is “Thank God!”

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