Life in the streets is familiar ground for Michael Moore.
Before being saved, Moore ran the roads, smoking, boozing and womanizing. Since being saved, Moore can still be found frequently in the streets — reaching out to people with the word of God.
"I give all the glory to God. I'm just a vessel," said Moore, the 60-year-old senior pastor of Refuge Temple Ministries of Baton Rouge.
Refuge Temple Ministries touts itself as a worldwide ministry with churches in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, Houston, Dallas and Beaumont, Texas. It is under the leadership of renowned Chief Apostle Wendell Archie, who founded the first church in Lake Charles more than 45 years ago with eight to 10 members, Moore said.
"This ministry is advancing worldwide," Moore said. "I'm grateful to be a part of it. It changed my life."
It was in that Lake Charles church that Moore got saved on March 21, 1981.
"I was in the streets. I didn't have any peace. When I came to the ministry, God saved me and filled me with his spirit," said Moore, a Marine Corps veteran.
"From that day forward, I went from smoking two packs of cigarettes a day to having not smoked for over 37 years," he said. "I was a marijuana smoker. I got high almost every day. But since that day, I have smoked not one marijuana cigarette, not one joint, not one blunt. I haven't drank not one drink."
Moore said he also turned away from a life "full of lust."
"I got married," he said, "and God blessed me with a woman whose testimony was just as powerful as mine."
Not long after, Moore answered the call to ministry and eventually served as a youth pastor at the Lake Charles church before being called to Baton Rouge in 2013.
"And I know this ministry is going to grow and it's already started to grow," he said, "and people are coming in."
During his first 3½ years as pastor in Baton Rouge, Moore still lived in Lake Charles where he worked a full-time job in admissions at a hospital. He commuted to Baton Rouge at least twice a week for Sunday services and Wednesday night Bible studies. He and his wife finally made the move to Baton Rouge in April.
Refuge Temple in Baton Rouge started on Florida Boulevard before moving to its current location at 10414 Mammoth Ave.
"We restored that building," he said. "It's really nice, and we're here to stay."
Refuge Temple's commitment to the area can be seen in its outreach efforts. Moore said the church's evangelistic team, called Highways and Hedges, regularly goes into the neighborhoods and apartment complexes.
"People are being delivered. People are being changed. People are getting off drugs," Moore said. "We bring the good news of the gospel, and that's really what the ministry is all about."
The ministry wants to show that God loves all people.
"We don't turn our noses up at nobody," Moore said. "We don't care if a man smells. We don't care if he doesn't have shoes on his feet. That is still a soul that is precious in the sight of God."
Moore knows firsthand the word of God will transform lives, as he likes to share from one of his favorite passages in Matthew 4:4: "It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
"That's what we bring to people," Moore said. "We bring the word of God. People ask what's our doctrine or what do you believe in. We believe in the word of God. We knew it will change your life."
Having been a youth pastor, Moore still has a heart for the young people.
"I was where some of them are. And somebody reached out a hand to me, and that's all that we're trying to do," he said. "I came from that lifestyle. I came out of the streets."
Attitude of gratitude
Negative attitudes can leave us demoralized and miserable. They can also suck the spirit out of others. How about adopting an attitude of gratitude this Thanksgiving? Then let's aim for everyday. Start by putting some attitude of gratitude into your prayer life.
The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:6: “Be not anxious for ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made to known to God.” Think about how much more peaceful and less stressful our lives would be if we have an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving in our hearts to God. The God who made us and knows all about us. The God who gives us grace and new mercies. The God who watches over us and our families. The God who keeps our hearts beating and minds right.
We could have been in today's obituaries or the ones in the hospital instead of complaining about finding a parking spot at the hospital. Thinking about what could have been or should have been can change our attitudes about a whole of things.
This is the season of thanksgiving. This week, we plan to join with family to eat, fellowship, worship and watch football. That’s Thanksgiving time. But as the songwriter said, “Everyday is a day of thanksgiving. God’s been so good to me. Everyday he’s blessing me. … Take the time to glorify the Lord today.”
How about humming a tune of gratitude during the day and see how that makes a difference in your life and that of the people around you? The psalmist said in Psalms 30:4: “Sing to the Lord, O you his saints and give thanks to his holy name.”
I am thankful. Are you?