Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Speaking @ New Salem Baptist Church, Hammond, IN

This weekend I was fortunate and blessed to be the guest preacher for the morning worship service of Rev. Dr. Charles D. Hudson, Pastor of the New Salem Baptist Church, Hammond, IN as the church celebrated his and his lovely wife Carla's 8th Pastoral Anniversary. Dr. Hudson became the pastor of New Salem after the untimely demise of his father Charles Sr., and the church has been growing under his leadership. Hudson is a young pastor who has made himself totally accessible to his congregation. That quality is rare in this profession as many so-called mega preachers have surrounded themselves with armor-bearers and security details, so much so that the members of those churches are unable to even shake their Pastor's hand. Dr. Hudson has presented himself as a pastor among the people and his church has taken on the personality of their pastor. This weekend, while it was a celebration, it was also done with a heavy heart. The musician of the church, a 25 yr old man named Maverick, was found dead in his apartment on Saturday, which caused a cloud of grief to hang over the church as many of the young people were very close to Maverick. The Lord directed me to preach a message not for a pastoral anniversary, but rather a message of encouragement and hope, found in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 entitled Handling the Hard Times...the story of Paul dealing with the thorn in his flesh. I argued this statement that once you change your perception of hard times, you will be able to experience all of the benefits that hard times will bring. Please pray for Pastor Hudson and the New Salem Church Family as they get ready to have Maverick's homegoing service this weekend.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Confidence in a Comeback

On yesterday the Lord allowed us to continue our series on the seven I AM statements of Jesus Christ housed in the Gospel According to John entitled He's All We Need, with our look at the fifth I AM statement I AM the resurrection and the life found in the very familiar miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave in John 11:25-26. Jesus received a message from Mary and Martha the sisters of Lazarus that the one that Jesus loves is sick, even unto death. Jesus sends word back to her that this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God and that the Son of God will be glorified thereby. Lazarus dies the same day that Jesus gets the message, but Jesus doesn't arrive to the tomb of Lazarus until he has been dead for four days. Martha comes to Jesus and tells him that if he would have been here, her brother would not have died. Jesus responds that her brother shall rise again, in which she replies that he will rise again at the resurrection and the last day. This causes Jesus to make the claim that Lazarus is primed and ready for a comeback. Here is the sermon outline:

Thesis: our ability to survive in the midst of our dead situations, totally hinders on our unwavering conviction that Jesus can turn our situations around

I. Confidence in the Person of the Resurrection

-I am the resurrection and the life

II. Confidence in the Portrayal of the Resurrection

-Martha says I know Lazarus will rise again at the resurrection on the last day
-Jesus says I am the resurrection...not a futuristic idea but a present reality

III. Confidence in the Permanence of the Resurrection

-and everyone who lives and believes shall never die

IV. Confidence in the Power of the Resurrection

-Jesus called Lazarus by name and he came forth from tomb bound in grave clothes
-Jesus says loose him and let him go

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Speaking @ Paradise Baptist Church

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of being the guest celebrant forthe 64th Church Anniversary for my good friend and brother Rev. Dr. Jethro C. James who is the Pastor of the Paradise Baptist Church of Newark, NJ. Dr. James has been used by God to grow a great church in the central ward of Newark, that is second to none. When he arrived at the church, they were housed close to our church in the Ironbound section of the city, and some years ago, the Lord led him to move God's people to the central ward with only 40 people and no complete building to worship in. Some 15+ years later, they have well over 500 members who are active in ministry and they worship God with power and veracity that is not common in many baptist churches. He also has one of the preachingest (I know that's not a word) women for a wife in Rev. Kim Yancy James, who is presently a student at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH working on her Doctorate of Ministry degree, which should be completed by May 08. They are a powerful couple in ministry and their friendship with Penny and myself is treasured by us. I am grateful that I have been able to preach many special days at Paradise and I look forward to a long lasting fellowship with Paradise and First Mount Zion. Please keep Paradise in your prayers as they continue to be a model ministry in our city.

What's Good About The Shepherd

We continued our exposition on the seven I AM statements of Jesus proclaimed in the Gospel according to John chapter 10:11-18 when Jesus said to the Pharisees I am the good shepherd. Contextually speaking, Jesus makes this claim in light of his healing of a blind man in chapter 9, who was taken to the Pharisees and was kicked out of the city because of his perceived sin which supposedly caused his condition. Jesus tells the people that the Pharisees are not the entrance way to eternal life, but rather in an illustrative manner, he compares the actions of a shepherd with his sheep. He says that the question as to what's good about the shepherd is answered in that whenever the sheep gets in precarious and dangerous situations, the shepherd will always be there for the sheep. Here is the sermon outline, I pray that this is a much a blessing as it was for First Mount Zion.

Thesis: in the most critical moments of our existence, our good shepherd proves to us that he is always on our side

I. Redemption of the Shepherd's Life

-verse 11--I am the good shepherd...the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep
a. good shepherd is not fearful of his rivals - verse 12
b. good shepherd won't flee from his responsibility - verse 13

II. Relationship of the Shepherd's Lamb

-verse 14--I am the good shepherd...I know my own and my own know me
-verse 15--just as the father knows me and I know the father and I lay down my life for the sheep

III. Results of the Shepherd's Love

-verse 17--for this reason the father loves me because I lay down my life that I may take it up again
a. voluntarily
b. vicariously