Friday, September 28, 2007

A Visit To Yale Divinity School

On yesterday I had the honor of visiting one of the great divinity schools in this county, Yale Divinity in New Haven, CT. This institution, which sits on the great hill in New Haven, is a pastor's delight, in that everything you could ever want to have in a divinity school can be found at YDS. Great reputation, check. World recognized professors, check. Beautiful campus and community, check. Diverse students, check. I literally fell in love with this place during my time there.

I was able to meet with an admissions recruiter named Melissa Pucci, who herself is a recent graduate of YDS, and she answered all of our questions with seemingly unrehearsed confidence that made me feel very comfortable and impressed with her passion for YDS. We then went to their chapel hour, which is scheduled during the day so that there are no classes at this time in order for every student and professor and staff member can be available to attend chapel. Although the style of worship was not what I am used to experiencing, I did feel the presence of the Lord in that place. The music was great and the speakers showed that most of all they loved the Lord Jesus with all of their hearts.

I attended a wonderful class lecture taught by Professor Harry Stout entitled History in American Society. This class deals with the church's role in establishing our society during the inception of America, and how it's role has changed in the century's since. Yesterday's lecture centered around the Geneva Bible Translation and how the Puritans used this bible and the formation of the church in their migration to the New England states, and how the community was developed around the church, not the church developed around the community.

They had an interesting practice of stating that the only men who could purchase land were those who were members of the church, and the only men who could vote in the election of officers would be land owners. So this ensured that all land owners and voters were members of the church. Everybody went to church, but not everybody were members of the church. If you didn't go to church, you were in danger of being looked down upon. I wonder how our communities would be if everybody in our community went to church.

The best part of my visit was the manner in which the students, especially the Black students gravitated to me and made me feel very welcome. As a matter of fact, they all were encouraging in that they hoped that I would present my application for acceptance as early as possible to ensure that I was in a better position to receive scholarship monies that are available. They were so helpful to even offer their assistance in my process, which is greatly appreciated and welcomed. I can't wait to get there.

All this has done is to give me something else to pray for, because I believe that God will give us the desire of our hearts and I am praying that the Lord will open this door for me at YDS. An Ivy League Divinity degree is without a doubt something that is important to me. To God Be the Glory!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pastors in Politics

I was on the plane last night flying home from a wonderful fellowshipping experience with my brother Pastor Keith Witherspoon in South Bend, Indiana, and I picked up this week's edition of Newsweek. Inside of it was an interesting article regarding the Democratic National Convention's impending courtship of conservative evangelicals who have traditionally since 1979, been at the forefront of helping Republican candidates get elected to the office of President of the United States. It was said that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have made serious overtures to the Evangelicals in order to at least get to the discussion table, which is especially significant because in the past, evangelicals would never even accept calls from Democarats because of their liberal views on homosexuality and abortion. Newsweek had a very telling picture of Pastor Rick Warren, author of the best selling book Purpose Driven Church, holding hands with Obama in a corporate prayer at his church.

This led me to ask myself an important question, where do Pastors fit in the grand scheme of politics. Throughout history of this country, there have been many pastors who have run, even successfully for various offices, but I have to give my own views on it out of the book of Lance Mann, chapter 7 verse 14, which states that I don't prescribe to the idea that Pastors should be politicians. For if that Pastor is a true Pastor, then that Pastor should have the well-being, growth and development of his congregation at the forefront of his heart, and if that's the case, then he probably does not have enough time to handle a secular position. Now I know that somebody will suggest that at mega-churches, most of those Pastors have full-time staff to handle the day to day operations of that church, they should have time for a political career. But I want to suggest that with consistent study of the bible for both exposition on Sundays, bible class during the week, evangelism efforts, expansion meetings, their weeks should still be full to the capacity.

I also feel that when you are a Pastor who gets into politics, he opens himself up to criticism and scrutiny that secular politicians don't have to face. Such as a prominent Pastor in New Jersey was under investigation for who he gave consulting jobs to, secular politicians have been known to do the same things, yet those deeds are ignorned when it comes them, but magnified when it pertains to a Pastor.

I believe that politicians must come to a Pastor in order to become elected as Pastors ought to have influence with politicians, as they come for counsel and guidance, but we have enough to do with the preaching of the Gospel that is designed to change the lives of humanity to become involved that intently with the world's government.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Little Rant

While I'm in the writing mood, let me vent something else from the fellowship of young Pastors on last night. There is a serious problem, an infectous disease that has infiltrated our churches and stifled the development of many of our ministries. There is a serious lack of gospel preaching that comes from our pulpits today, so much so that even the people who sit in the congregations are so numb to Gospel preaching that when it is presented to them, they don't know how to respond because it is not apart of their steady, consistent diet at their local church.

In this day and age, people want to be pacified, coddled and made to feel good, so much so that it seems that the only churches that are filled these days are filled with people who come to hear a word of prosperity and acceptance of sin, only to leave that service the same way that they came in. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not designed to make us feel better, but it was given to us as a free gift from the Lord to make us live better.

True biblical preaching needs to be viewed as vital to the growth of the church, but more preachers are concerned with having people in their pews instead of developing disciples in their ministries. As long as they have a packed house, then they feel that their ministry is successful, but I want to suggest that what's the point of having a swollen church and not a saved church.

I have decided that if my attempts at biblical exposition is not enough to grow my church to thousands of people, then I will keep what I have, because I will never compromise the principles of preaching the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank God that he has blessed me with the ability to preach the Gospel both in season and out of season, when the people wants to hear it or not...when it is popular or not.

If enough of young Pastors and preachers forge through the hard work of exposition, we can preserve what we all know to be true, that exposition of the Gospel of Christ is paramount to the salvation of sinners, for it is only through the Word of God whereby men shall be saved.

Supporting A Friend

I am still in Indiana until my flight leaves later tonight and I am ready to get home to my family and my church. Last night, Rev. Witherspoon and myself traveled to Maywood, Illinois to support one of my real good friends, Rev. Romell Williams who is the Pastor of the Lilydale Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago, as he preached at the Rock of Ages Baptist Church, for an ordination service. Rev. Williams and I first met last year, but recently we have began what I feel will be a great and productive friendship in that we talk about preaching and pastoring with every conversation, which is welcomed by me, because I need my steel to be sharpened by the steel of another pastor who understands the plight of the journey.

Rev. Williams preached an awesome exposition from 2 Timothy 4:16-18 which he called "When God Stands Up For You", it was timely and relevant for the occasion, and most of all he hit a home run on last night. I love preaching and I love someone who shows that he has put his time into the preparation of his attempt at biblical exposition. Hearing him "say it" and the fellowship afterwards, made me want to get right back to work for this week for Sunday morning at First Mount Zion.

I believe, in this day and age when preachers are more concerned with talking to each other about their tailors, how many members they lie about having, how much money they raise and are paid from their churches, how much their shoes cost...etc, it is refreshing for young Pastors to just get together and talk about the preaching of the Gospel. I was helped and encouraged by our conversation and the future of our friendships. I can't wait to see what God has in store for all of us that were present together on last night. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Speaking @ Bethlehem Baptist Church

I had the privilege of preaching the First Anniversary Celebration of my best friend, Rev. Keith D. Witherspoon, Pastor of the Bethelehem Missionary Baptist Church, South Bend, Indiana, and the Lord showed up in a magnanimous way in that place. The people of Bethlehem have a wonderful spirit about them, in which they love the Lord, His Word, their Pastor, singing and the preaching of the Gospel. It is a testament of the teaching that they received from their former Pastor that has continued during the administration of Pastor Witherspoon. Pastor Witherspoon is one of the young giants in preaching across this country. For he has a deep seeded commitment to biblical exposition that has afforded him the opportunities to preach in varous venues across this country, including preaching at this year's National Baptist Convention in Philadephia for the Moderator's Division. He is my brother and my friend and I was honored that he asked me to stand in his pulpit once again to share the unsearchable riches of the Holy Writ. God bless you Spoon and your entire family as the Lord continues to open great doors for you in this life, awaiting the eternal blessing of everlasting joy in the next life.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Speaking @ Metropolitan Baptist Church

Last night I began a three night revival at the Metropolitan Baptist Church, Scotch Plains, NJ where Rev. Clement F. Griffin is the Pastor. I have been blessed to preach this fall revival at Metropolitan since 2003. They took a year off from the revival in 2006 because they were doing some extensive renovations in the fellowship hall and offices, which by the way makes the church look wonderful. I am excited about this revival because this was one of the first revivals that I got in our state that was on an annual basis, and because of that, I will always make myself available to this church and this Pastor. Rev. Griffin has always been very kind to me and the church has been very receptive of my attempts at biblical exposition. Last night the Lord showed up in a great way, and I am anticipating him doing the same the rest of the week. Please pray for the meeting and pray for the revivalist.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

75th Church Anniversary

Today, I had the immense pleasure of preaching the opening services for Community Baptist Church of Englewood, NJ, 75th Church Anniversary Celebration during their 11:30 AM service, where Rev. Dr. Lester W. Taylor is the pastor. This church is without a doubt a model ministry in our state, as their commitment to Christ and the greatness of their ministries have made them the premier ministry in North Jersey. They are in the process of building a $13 Million edifice that will be a sight to behold. I am honored that Dr. Taylor would ask me to be a part of this celebration, as he has access to a plethora of pastors all over this country to invite, but I am grateful for the invitation. Because of the greatness of this ministry, the Lord gave me a wonderful message born out of the book of Revelation 3:7-13, as the Lord instructed the Apostle John to write a letter to the church of Philadelphia entitled "The Church That God Brags On". Here is the sermon skeleton...I hope that you are as blessed as the people of God were today.

Thesis: any church that is faithful to the Lord no matter the consequences, will be a church that God will brag on.

I. Condition of the Church - v. 8

A. Privilege They Enjoyed
1. Open door by the Lord
2. No man can close

B. Power They Exhibited
1. small in strength
2. large in trust

II. Challenges of the Church - v. 9-11

A. Challenge of Persecution - v. 9
B. Challenge of Perseverance - v. 10-11a
C. Challenge of Protection - v. 11

III. Comfort of the Church - v. 12-13

A. Comfort of His Stability - v. 12
B. Comfort of His Safety - V. 12
C. Comfort of His Security - V. 12

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Farewell Willie Lee Jordan

Tonight the Pastor Community will join Pastor M.J. Jordan at the Mount Olive Baptist Church, as he has to say so long to his wonderful mother, Sis. Willie Lee Jordan. He is her youngest son, who has, ever since his father passed, taken real good care of his mother. I am understanding of what he is dealing with, as it was only 1 year ago last march that the Lord took my own mother, Hattie Louise Mann home to be with him. I had a rough year dealing with the emotions of not having my mother with me. All of my life, whenever something good happened to me, I would call mommy and tell her about it. Now I can't and it hurts badly, but I am comforted by the fact that I love her but God loves her best.

This is what I will try to tell MJ on tonight...He may love his momma, but she is in a better place than any of us are.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Facing Your Giants

Today the Lord allowed me to do a biblical exposition of a wonderful Old Testament story that is very familiar, but one that I have never looked at to preach, however one that is greatly needed in the fabric of our church right now. For we are in a "crossroads" situation where we are in dire need of moving to a new location that is better suited for us to reach the community for Jesus Christ, and in doing this, we have acquired some "old guard" members, who because of their large personalities within the church, have become giant-like fixtures of what used to be. So the Lord placed on my heart to preach a message about how to face the giants in your life. I believe that it was a great blessing to the people of God at First Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Thesis: you are able to face your giants when you know that you are not facing your giants alone

I. Don't Be Afraid - v. 32

a. stand up to your detractors - v.33-36
b. stand up for your deliverer - v. 37
c. sway your detractor's demeanor - v. 37

II. Deny the World's Armor - v. 38-19

a. consider the giant's mockery - v. 41-44
b. confidence in God's mastery - v. 45-47

III. Deploy the Lord's Artillery - v. 48

a. complete your assignment - v. 49
b. conquer your adversary - v. 50
c. cast them away - v. 51