Saturday, December 27, 2008

End of Year Message

We have finally made it to the last Lord's Day of 2008, and I can honestly say that this has been one of the most interesting years that I have ever experienced as a Pastor. I will reserve an assessment of 2008 post hopefully for New Year's Eve. As our church heads towards our new destination, I asked the Lord to lead me fully in what to say to the church regarding the future of our ministry.

God led me to prepare a message housed in Genesis 12, which I will label the message "Courage For the Call". My aim for this message is to express to the church how God is expecting us to respond to his directive of leaving our familiar territory and move towards a place that will be both foreign and difficult, but God is the great equalizer in any and every situation that possess tough and difficult terrain. As a matter of fact, I subscribe to that great songwriter who said, have you any river that seems uncrossable, and have you any mountain that you cannot tunnel through...God specializes in things that appear impossible...and HE WILL DO, what no other power can do.

Please keep the exposition of the Word, the reception of church and the fullness of the worship at the First Mount Zion Church this morning. I am praying that God will allow us to send off 2008 with a bang and begin the process of welcoming in 2009 with great anticipation that God is ready, willing and able to bring a wonderful new start to the rich legacy of our church. God Be Praised!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Closing Out Acts 2

This past Lord's Day, we closed out our series on the model church, housed in Acts 2, which I called the series Created For A Community. The overall purpose of preaching this series is to show our church the how and why God created his church in the first place. And the Lord led me, as we prepare to begin a new and exciting phase of our ministry, to re-establish to the church, that God created His church to become a community for Him.

It was after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, that 120 of his chosen believers, on the Day of Pentecost, they were in one place and on one accord, when the Holy Ghost showed up and fell on them. This caused them to be able to speak in the languages of those who were present from other lands, the wonderful works of God. This Spirit-led occurrence caused unbelievers to make the claim that the disciples were drunk with new wine. Peter spoke with power that they were not drunk as they supposed, but they were recipients of a great outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Peter preached the first evangelical sermon of the church and the Lord added 3000 souls that day to the church.

Now at the end of the chapter in verses 42-47, Peter tells the people that after salvation and baptism comes the fellowship of the believers. And God is looking for a people that will look past their differences and silly hangups and decade long feuds, to work to build God a kingdom through the fellowship of his people. Here is the sermon outline:

Title: Oh What A Fellowship
Text: Acts 2:42-47

Thesis: a determined church in fellowship is a destined church to accomplish great things

I. Fellowship in the Word

-verse 42...and they devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers
-this word devoted means to be addicted...they were addicted to the doctrines of the apostles which is the Word of God

a. Communion with each the breaking of bread
b. Communication with God...and the prayers

II. Fellowship in their Worship

-verses 43-44...and awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles...and all who believed were together and had all things in common
-every child of God needs to spend time in worship for the many things that God has done in our lives

a. Our admiration for God...and awe...means to acknowledge the greatness of the presence of God...Ps. 145:3...great is the Lord and greatly to be praised

b. Our Attention to God...and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles...the Spirit fell on the apostles and they were able to perform miracles...which are not used to bring attention to men, but rather attention to the Master

c. Our Actions For God...verse 45...and they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need...the church is required to meet the needs of God's people

III. Fellowship in their Witness

-verse 46...and day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with gland and generous hearts
-when they received the power of the Holy Ghost, they didn't sit on their blessed assurances, but rather they went from house to house spreading the good news of Jesus Christ
-verse 47 says that if we do these things in fellowship, God will increase the numbers of the church day by day those who were being saved...GOD BE PRAISED!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Responding to the Gospel

Text: Acts 2:37-41

Thesis: the people of God must guide new believers of the word of God towards the ways of God so that the will of God can be a blessing to the people of God

I. Gospel Brings A Point of Change

-verse 38...and Peter said to them, Repent
-true repentance is turning away from sin and towards Jesus Christ
-true repentance involves more than fear of of the penalty of sin, it also includes hatred for the nature of sin

II. Gospel Brings a Public Conversion

-verse 38...repent and be baptized
-in ancient days, baptism was a public event
-Peter wanted a public conversion to distinguish real conversion of Jews from fake conversions

a. Forgiveness granted - for the forgiveness of sins
b. Free gift - and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

III. Gospel Brings A Purposed Call

-verses is the job of every believer to lead others away from the ways of the world towards the ways of Christ
-one of the main problems in the church is seeing ones friends heading toward destruction and watching them fail
-the danger of allowing someone to go towards destruction, their blood will be on our hands

IV. Gospel Produces A Great Congregation

-verse those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about 3000 souls
-this is a word to dispel the notion that our preaching acumen...eloquent speech...letters before and after our names...beautiful ministries are responsible for souls being added to the church
-only because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that causes men and women to leave the forces of Satan and cling to the blessings of God

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunday Stuff - 12/7/08

Wow, what a day in worship with the people of God basking in the presence of God. We had an amazing day in worship at the First Mt. Zion Church. The Lord was in the place all morning long and the congregation was blessed immensely because of it. Every once in a while, each of us will experience a day that causes us to be mindful why we answered the call from the Lord. It all began for me on Saturday. I was in my family room testing out my new surround sound system (Spoon, you are not the only "techie" in the group) and decided to put in a DVD of one of my favorite preachers in this country, Dr. Maurice Watson, from the 2005 Hampton's Ministers Conference, and he blessed me tremendously when he told them that many Pastors spend too much time comparing our ministries to that of other Pastors. He said that God will not bless your ministry to be great until you begin to appreciate for where God has placed you at this present time. At that moment, the Lord spoke to me about the future of our church and I was convicted to stop looking at where I was not and begin thanking God for where I am because the truth is that I do not deserve anything that I have, but for the grace of God. Thank you much Maurice Watson!

It continued during our Sunday School period, as my wife Penny, led the congregation in our season of Evangelism, and let me tell you, she flat out killed everything in the room. I am grateful to have a prayerful and intense student of the scriptures by my side in ministry. She has served as the Director of Christian Education both at her home church and at my first assignment and she has shown a wonderful gift at explaining the scriptures in ways that are easy for the people to understand. The mood in class was spiritual and it re-energized the congregation to help reach out to unbelievers and bring them to Jesus. God Be Praised!!

This spiritual mood poured over into our worship as the music was inspirational and the Lord allowed us to have some power to preach an exposition out of Acts 2:37-41 which I labeled, Responding to the Gospel. For Peter preached the first evangelical sermon to the people who would make up the first church. After they heard the gospel they responded in a way that each one of us should respond when we hear the truth of the Gospel...verse 37 says that the Jews asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brothers, what shall we do? The proper response to hearing the Gospel preached is, what shall we do now that we have heard what God wants from us. One of the problems with the church is that when unbelievers are stimulated to accept Christ after hearing the Gospel, the church just lets them exist to figure the rest out for themselves. But this text shows us that it is the responsibility of the people of God to lead new believers towards the ways of God, so that the will of God will be a blessing to the people of God. God blessed them in verse 41, so those who received his word were baptized and there were added that day about 3000 souls. In other words, if the church does its part and guide new believers to the way, God will do his part and grow his church. Wow what an awesome concept! I will post the outline tomorrow if God says so.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Uncompromising Church

Thanksgiving Day is without question my favorite holiday, and not because of what many might think (smile), but because I grew up in a relatively close and large family, and we all got together every turkey day. But as we grew older, we all got our own families and other friends, so we kind of grew apart, so this is the reason why Penny and I make Thanksgiving real special in our house. But while personally it is a great time for me, as a Pastor, holidays are kind of tough, for it is difficult for many of us to leave those great and famous leftovers to come to worship on Sunday.

But despite of those concerns about the attendence, I was excited and ready to preach and continue our series on Acts 2, which has been tagged, Created For A Community, with our study of verses 22-36, adnd I labeled the message An Uncompromising Church. It is my contention that the church of Jesus Christ as a whole is guilty of allowing the message of the Church to become compromised by the ways of the world. As a matter of fact, if someone were to put the church on the witness stand to give testimony of our ability to remain faithful to the message of the church, the overwhelming evidence would cause every jury in the world would have no choice but to find us guilty as charged.

Evidence such as allowing the world to dictate who and what we are instead of the church transforming the world. Evidence such as when many of us preach to our members that our relationship with the Master is expressed through the condition of their finances, and if they are not wealthy and prosperous according to the standards of the world, then something is inheritantly wrong with their relationship with Christ.

But God, in his divine wisdom, has provided for us what our message should be and how we can continue to be an uncompromising church. Acts 2, tells the story of 120 of God's chosen people, are in one place and on one accord, and the Holy Ghost showed up and allowed them to speak the wonderul works of God in their own native language. The people said that they were drunk with new wine, and Peter with that infamous boldness, says that despite their mocking of us, we will not cease from giving them the true message of the church. He says that our job is to tell this world about a man named Jesus. That's the message that each church must not compromise with...we must preach Jesus. Here is the sermon outline:

Thesis: A Church that refuses to compromise its message to the world is a church that will always be effective in the world

I. Persona of Christ

-verse 22...Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works, and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst as you yourself know

a. existence of Christ - Jesus of Nazareth
b. extinction of Christ - verse 23...this Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men
c. exchange of Christ - verse 24...God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it

II. Purpose of Christ

-verses 25-32...Peter moves to the reason why Jesus came to earth in the first be the Messiah the world was waiting for
-Peter uses the words of David out of Ps. 16:8-11 to prophetically tell how Jesus stayed with his purpose even in the face of suffering

a. security of God - verse 25...I say the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand...for the right hand means God is our protector
b. support of God - verses 27-30...means that his confidence is not in David but his confidence is in the Lord

III. Praise of Christ

-verse 33...being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing
-the Father praised the Son and lifted him to a high place in the Kingdom
-if we lift Jesus, he will draw men

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Focus - 11/28/08

Hello blog family! Please forgive me for my absence, this past week has really been a busy one for me since the last time I made a post to my blog. Before I get to my week, let me express my sincere appreciation for all of the positive, spiritual comments that many of you left on my last comment. I want to express my appreciation to a couple real good friends, H.B. Charles for his godly advice about the tenor and tone of my friday focuses, and Keith Witherspoon for reminding me that I am able to be transparent without being angry. Thank you both for being true friends.

I was blessed to be in attendance for the homegoing celebration for a wonderful woman, Wynona Pearl Hutchinson, who is the mother of my Pastor, Joe A. Carter, held at the Fairview Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, OK, where Dr. John A. Reed Jr. is the Pastor. My travel was adventerous to say the least. Flying on United Airlines to Chicago O'Hare Airport is not something that I would recommend to anyone with any thoughts of being happy. My flight from Newark was 22 minutes late which caused me to miss my connecting flight, which is really fortunate because even if I would have made that flight my luggage did not make the plane, which means that I would have made it to OKC but my luggage would have stayed in Chicago...NOT COOL! The airlines wanted to redirect me to Denver and then to OKC, but that is entirely too much flying. So they got me on an American Airlines flight direct into OKC with my luggage in tow.

The funeral services was outstanding, with a lot of Pastors showed up from all around the country to support Pastor Carter. Wynona's Pastor, Claude White, Greater Faith Church, Waukegan, IL preached an outstanding message out of Psalms 92 which he tagged the Nature of Righteousness. This was a very difficult time to preach for him, but the Lord showed up and brought him through. My flight back home was without incident and I made it home with my luggage safe and sound.

This past Lord's Day, I continued our series on Acts 2 which I call Created For A Community, with an exposition on verses 12:21 which I tagged How to Handle An Attack On God's Church. For the disciples were present on the Day of Pentecost, in one place and on one accord, allowing themselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that they can preach to those who were present the wonderful works of God in their native languages, fulfilling their purpose for existing. It is at this point that the enemy sends an attack on the people of God, when they are accused to being drunk with new wine. Peter responds to this attack in the same way that we should respond when our churches are attacked, Peter responded with boldness. God is not looking for scary Christians or punk Christians, but he is looking instead for bold Christians. Here is the sermon outline:

Thesis: whenever God's Church is under attack, the people of God must respond with boldness

I. Expelled Their Report of the Spirit

-verse of Judea adn all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give ear to my words
-verse 15...these men are not drunk as you supposed

II. Explained the Remarkablility of Spirit

-verse 16...but this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel
-verse 17...and in the last days it shall be, God declares that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams
-verse 18...even on my male servants and female servants
-when the Spirit shows up it is remarkable in that the world will not understand what it is when it comes

a. Purpose of the Spirit - uttered through the prophet Joel...the purpose of the Spirit is to be the fulfillment of prophesy

b. Promise of the Spirit - verse 17...the spirit will not discriminate on who it will fall upon

1. Gender - sons and daughters shall prophesy
2. Age - young men shall see visions; old men shall dream dreams
3. Status - male servants and female servants

c. Power of the Spirit - verses 19-20...Peter tells of all of the things that the Spirit will be able to do for us

III. Exposed the Reality of the Spirit

-verse 21...and it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved
-Peter exposes the truth of the Gospel story...whoever calls on the name of the Lord, no matter your past, shall receive the gift of salvation

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Focus - 11/21/08

For the last couple of weeks, I have endeavored on these Fridays, to write posts that have an emphasis on many of the issues that we as Pastors face in our day to day walk in ministry. I previously dealt with the issue of charging other churches a set fee in order for us to preach there. And I also dealt with the issue of how handle problems with deacons, trustees and other lay leaders in our churches who attempt lead us instead of being led by us. I will say that both issues have garnered some good responses from my fellow bloggers.

However, I received a phone call this past week from a person who's opinion I value tremendously, who had read both of those Friday posts and they gave me some sound, Godly advice that I want to share with all of you.

I wrote those posts with the thought that they were for fellow Pastors and Preachers as we face the various difficulties in ministry. But what my friend explained to me was that not only do Pastors and Preachers read our blogs, but we all have members who read our blogs, and subsequently they read our friend's blogs as well. And when we use our blogs as a vehicle to vent about the problems we may be having in our churches, it may cause our members to think that all we do is complain about them.

I want to share with each of you, that it is a privilege and not a right that God has chosen us to lead his people, and the reality is that we lead the people by permission. They really don't have to listen to the voice of God and follow what we say God is telling us to tell them, and I don't want anybody's members or my own to think that all of them are grouped in with the distinct few that decide to be contrary to our leadership.

I believe that this blog can and will be a blessing to both the body of Christ and the ambassadors of Christ both at the same time. So I have decided to use these Friday Focuses to be an encouragement to my brothers and sisters in the faith and not as a tool to get even with people who have failed to heed the voice of God. My complete goal with these posts was to share some of my pitfalls in ministry and be as transparent as possible so that we all can learn from each other on how to make it in times such as these.

So I ask for both your forgiveness and your patience as I attempt to be faithful to my assignment in being a blessing to you and not blowing off steam. I love each and every one of you and I pray that we will allow even the mistakes that we commit to help us become better Pastors, Preachers, leaders and most of all Christians in these last and evil days.

Until we meet again, may the Lord bless you and keep you, may he make his face to shine upon you, may he lift his countenance upon you, may he be gracious to you, which is to give you his divine favor, may he grant you his peace and may this peace be with you until we all meet again.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Speaking @ Mount Calvary BC, Jersey City, NJ

Last night I had the expressed privilege of preaching for the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Preaching for one of my good friends in the ministry, Pastor Barron O. Wilson, who leads the Mount Calvary Church where his father Pastored for many years before him. Pastor Wilson is somebody's preacher! He has a heart for people that allows him to reach into the very consciousness of people, to help them see where they truly belong in the Kingdom of God.

There have been many times when I have gone to him for counsel and he has never failed to provide for me the right information and methods that I needed at that time. It was during my first year of preaching and the invitations were few and far between, when Pastor Wilson invited me to stand in his pulpit and present to the people God put him over, my convictions about Jesus Christ. And ever since that day, he has been a big part of my life and my ministry.

I wanted to deal with something that was not a common text for a Pastor's Anniversary. I lifted a great text from Exodus 3:13-14, which I tagged the Remedy For Our Inadequacies. The reality is that no matter who you are, all of us have experienced a real sense of being inadequate on this journey. It matters not if you have been in ministry for 50 years or 5 minutes, there comes a time in our lives where we feel like we just don't measure up to this awesome task that God has presented for us. Moses, that great emancipator, felt the same way while on the backside of a Midianite desert, he hears a voice crying out from a burning bush, telling him to go into Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let God's people go. Moses replied who is he to go and tell this deified being anything, God replied to him, five of the greatest words ever recorded in verse 14, I AM WHO I AM (ESV). Here is the sermon skeleton:

Thesis: our sucess as servants of God rest totally in our complete trust that during moments of inadequacies God will make up the difference

I. Trust in the Evidence of His Existence

-I AM...this phrase literally is defined to mean God is self-existent
-Pharaoh considered himself to be the direct descendent of the Egyptian sun god which he feels that he exists because the sun god exists
-God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh that while he needs the sun to exists, the sun needs God to exist
-how do we know God exists:

a. scripture states it
b. scenery suggests it
c. spirit senses it

II. Trust in the Presence of His Personality

-God's personality is expressed to many different people in different ways

III. Trust in the Awesomeness of his Authority

-God's has the power to accomplish any and everything

Please pray for the family of my Pastor, Joe A. Carter, who are dealing with the loss of their beloved mother Wynona Hutchinson, who went home to be with Jesus on last night. She was an extraordiarily strong woman who survived plenty of heartache in her life, to exemplify what it means to be a wife, mother and a woman of God.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fulfilling Our Purpose

Text: Acts 2:5-11

Thesis: The role of God's Church is to provide for this world a glimpse of the greatness of God through the spreading of the Gospel

I. The Gospel Will Attract the World

-verse 6...and when this sound occurred, the multitude came together and were confused because they heard them speak in their own language
-the Gospel will draw this world to a closer look at the awesomeness of Jesus Christ

II. The Gospel Will Amaze the World

-verse 7...and they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, are not these which speak Galileans

III. The Gospel Will Arrest the World

-verses 9-11, list all of the different people who were represented
-this lets us know that the Gospel can and will reach anybody no matter how far away from God they are

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Stuff

This week has been a trying week for me personally, as I have allowed the pressure of this building project to stress me out to where my blood pressure is the highest it has been in a long time. Not only has the building project caused me stress, but also the overall condition of our church has been the cause of stress for me. I have learned in my years of full-time ministry, not to compare the condition of my church with the condition of other churches, but in my strong desire to have a successful ministry for God, I began to really question where I fit in the grand scheme of the Kingdom of God.

But I had a heart to heart conversation last evening with my best friend, Pastor Keith Witherspoon, and he helped me see that what I already knew, my faithfulness with produce great rewards from the Lord. So I got up this morning and with a strong desire to get to the house of the Lord to worship his name with other believers who have the same desire to worship. I went to the 8 AM service at the Mount Olive Baptist Church, East Orange, NJ where my good friend Pastor Michael Jordan serves as Pastor. The worship at Mount Olive was off the hook, and Pastor Jordan really did a great job with his message on Phil. 2:5 which he tagged Having the Mind of Christ.

I got to First Mount Zion with an urgent feeling of getting worship started and the Lord did not disappoint me. He met us in the sanctuary from Praise & Worship until the preaching of the Word. I led in the music ministry and there was an awesome presence of the Holy Spirit when we met together at the altar to pray. God be praised!!!

We continued our series on the model church in Acts 2 entitled Created for a Community, with our look at verses 5-11 which I labeled the message, Fulfilling Our Purpose. As a lifelong Christian who has been a member of the church of Jesus Christ for my entire life, I have discovered that many churches have failed to fulfill the purpose that God designed for his church. It doesn't matter how many members you have, how popular your Pastor is, how big your budget is, if you are not doing what the Lord has designed for the church to do, you are not fulfilling the purpose that God has for his church.

This purpose is found at the end of verse 11, for they heard them speak in their own language the mighty works of God. Scholars debate as to what exactly this phrase meant, many say that the 120 were praising God for his good works, but I would contend that if you are speaking about the good works of God, then you are speaking about the Gospel, which is the good news of Jesus Christ. So the purpose of God's church is to provide for the world a glimpse of God's goodness through the spreading of the Gospel. I will post the outline tomorrow.

Please keep our church and me in your prayers as we attempt to build God a Kingdom here on earth.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Focus - 11/14/08

As I stated on last week that with all of this election stuff being over and our country being ready to move on towards hopefully better days, I want to deal with on Fridays, with some of the issues that deal directly to the heart and minds of Pastors/preachers as we attempt to advance the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Today I want to deal with an issue that many if not all of us can relate to; how do we handle when Deacons, Trustees and other church leaders refuse to follow Pastoral Leadership and attempt to lead Pastors? Why have many of them made it up in their minds that the church needs them more than they need Pastors? Why are many of them so hung up on keeping Pastors in our places?

Well, I can only offer my own personal experiences with this issue as an open window into what I am referring to. My preaching ministry and Pastoral training ground was formulated at The New Hope Baptist Church under the direction of the late Dr. C.E. Thomas and Rev. Joe A. Carter. If there was one thing I knew about the ministry of the New Hope Church was that the servant leadership of the church FOLLOWED the vision and direction of the Pastors without any glimpse of disunity and disruption, and any leader that showed any of those traits were reprimanded not by the Pastors, but by the other servant leaders. They understood what it means to follow Pastoral Leadership. So you can imagine my surprise when I began my first pastorate at the Friendship Baptist Church, Asbury Park, NJ and found out that every church is not the same.

My time at Friendship was filled with argument after argument with my leaders. As a matter of fact, I never had one leadership or church meeting for that fact, that ended any other way but with an argument. The chairman of trustees said to my face during one Mother's Day with guests at our church that the trustees don't follow the Pastor at that church, the chairman of the deacon's board was their pastor. It went so far as they refused to pay my salary for 8 consecutive weeks because I discovered that they were misappropriating church funds and exposed them to the congregation who subsequently did nothing about it. As you can expect, I got my wife and family out of that place quick, fast and in a hurry.

When I got to my present assignment at First Mount Zion, I thought they would be different being as though my immediate predecessor had an earned doctorate degree and was a past moderator, but to my surprise, he allowed the chairman of the deacon's board to run roughshod over his entire tenure there. This same deacon thought that he could do the same to me, and he even had the audacity to tell me that the Lord told him that God sent me to the church so that he could teach me how to be a Pastor. He fought me tooth and nail on every spiritual decision even the vision that God gave me to give to the church. What he didn't realize was that I am as bullheaded as they come, and he left long before I. This entire situation has caused some difficult moments at our church with those who were ready for him to leave against those who were loyal to him because he kept them in power. But I will say this, the Lord has removed virtually every opposition to his vision for this church.

So again, blogging family, let me pose this interrogative, why does this occur and how do we handle this when we are faced with this great dilemma.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It Began At Pentecost

What a day we had in worship at First Mount Zion, the Lord showed up in the house. I came to church with absolutely no expectations on what will happen, but I had a real heaviness on my heart. I naturally thought that I was worried about something, but I just could not put my finger on it. So I went to the pulpit to lead the church in worship, and something just clicked. I led the church in a medley of worship songs such as: Welcome Into This Place, Lord, I'm Available to You and I Love You Lord, and let me tell you, we had a worship experience in that place. God be praised!

We continued our series on the Model Church entitled Created For A Community, which is our study through Acts chapter 2, by lifting up verses 1-4, which I tagged It Began At Pentecost. I would suggest that the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ is one of the most important events ever recorded in human history. 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus during the feast of Pentecost, 120 believers were in the upper room, in one place and on one accord. Not special people, but ordinary people who happened to believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, gathering together in a spirit of unity to do the will of God. The reason why churches have ceased to be effective in ministry, is because they are not committed to a unified effort to perpetuate the cause of Christ. In days such as these, when people are going to hell in a hand basket, where sin is tolerated more and more in the church, God is looking for his church to get on one accord, so that the Holy Spirit can show up in our lives. Here is the sermon outline:

Text: Acts 2:1-4

Thesis: the unity of the people of God releases the power of God so that the people of God can perform the will of God

I. Audible Mark

-verse 2...and suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting
-when the people got together in unity, the God sent an audible sign

a. surprising sign - and suddenly
b. spiritual sign - there came from heaven a sound
c. strong sign - like a mighty rushing wind
d. shocking sign - and it filled the house where they were sitting

II. Awesome Manifestation

-verse 3...and divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them
-when the people became unified God sent a visible appearance

a. explanation of the manifestation - divided tongues of fire...this word is pictured as a single body that was divided so that it would fall on each of them simultaneously to give them the knowledge of the grace of God to share with the world
b. existence of the manifestation - and rested on each one of them

III. Accomplished Mission

-verse 4...and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance
-the Spirit came to complete that which was originated in Genesis, advanced to Calvary and exposed on Pentecost

a. filling of the Holy Spirit - and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
b. focus of the Holy Spirit - and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterence

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Focus

I have decided to use Fridays to write a thought provoking blog post on issues that we all face as Pastors that are entrenched in ministry. We spend a lot of time putting our sermon outlines and our political ideologies and vacations on our blog, but I really felt the heavy burden of dealing with things that will affect us as Pastor/Preachers in this present age.

Today, I would like to broach the topic of preachers who put a price tag on the Gospel. We live in a day and age where it has become common practice for preachers, when they receive invitations to stand in another Pastor's pulpit, to place a dollar figure on his time of preaching. Many of them will send correspondence through their respective secretaries that inform the inviting church of the "needs" that the Pastor must have met before he will come to minister at the church. Some of them even go as far to confront the Pastor and officers of the church if they come short of what they think they should receive.

Now I need to state up front that I truly believe in the Word of God which says that a laborer is worthy of its hire, and he who preaches the Gospel shall live off the Gospel, and those who laborer over the word is worth double honor. Churches ought to take care of the preacher/pastor without reservation. But what I am talking about is this incessant need to put a price tag on something that God has given us freely. I am referring to a preacher requesting an enormous amount of money and that Pastor emptying out his church's treasury to pay this enormous amount to the Pastor.

Some years ago, while I served at the New Hope Baptist Church, Newark, NJ, a well-known female preacher was called by our Women's Day committee to preach the service for that year. Her staff informed us that she needed a few days to pray over the invitation. But when she returned the call, she stated that she took those few days to perform some research on our church in which she discovered that our church was one of the affluent churches in this area. So she stated to us that her fee to come and preach our Women's Day service was 250,000. My pastor was appalled and he told her thanks but no thanks.

My opinion is that we as preachers are really missing a golden opportunity to change the culture of our profession. Forever, preachers have been labeled as pimps, thieves and other hideous names, and when we come to pillage a church for their money, we are helping to perpetuate this negative connotation of what and who a preacher really is. God said that our gifts will make room for us and as long as we take care of his business, he will take good care of our business. The gift of any preacher is not for sale. We need to learn that what the Lord has given us to share with this world so that sinners will find rest in the arms of Jesus Christ, not to make ourselves feel like we are God's gift to the world and like He needs us. Let me suggest to you that God doesn't need us for anything. Gos does not have to allow us to use our gifts, but we are privileged to be allowed to stand as imperfect people before other imperfect people to deliver the perfect Word of God. And when you recognize this, how can we have the audacity to put price tags on the Gospel.

Now I totally understand why many of our brethren and sisters of the faith have undertaken this objective, far too long, we have labored over the Word all week long in order to have our lessons correct. When we mount the pulpit on Sunday, we put our all into the act of delivering the message to a lost world, and we don't receive enough money to put gas in the car or get our clothes clean. I get that! But what I have discovered is that we serve a great God who is able to supply each and every need that we have as a reward for our faithfulness to him with our service.

There have been times in my ministry where I have traveled 860 miles to preach and received nothing from the church I preached at and they have thousands of dollars in the bank, and while on that same trip, preached for another church and received the whole sum of $91 from a good church. Never did I want to result to requesting an amount before or after those incidents, because I do believe in the rewarding plan of God. My question to you all is, when Pastors make demands on the people for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, has that helped or hindered the perception of us in the eyes of the people of God.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Church That Survives

On yesterday, we began our new series on how and why God created his church, which is a series on Acts 2 that I have tagged the series, Created For A Community. Before I delved deep into Acts 2, I wanted to, by way of introduction, to deal with the first instance where Jesus mentioned the church found in Matthew 16:13-20. This design of this message for the FMZ church was to explore through scripture why the church was created for if we can get a clear grasp of why the church was formed, then it will help us to realize that if we focus on the why, we can make it through the rough times of life in our church.

For the law of first reference tells us that it is imperative for us to really take a good look at this word church. It is defined in the Greek as the ecclesia, which means the called out, set apart people of God to be used for his service. I am so glad that God has looked at us in our sinfulness, our weaknesses and our proclivities, our hang ups, for which, he knew this about us before we ever got here, and he still chose to set us aside so that we can be used to turn this world upside down. God Be Praised!!!

Jesus leads the disciples into the region of Caesarea Philippi, a region that was known for its pagan worship, and it is with this paganistic ideals situated in the background, Jesus asks his disciples, who do the people say that the Son of Man is? The people confused with the question responds with John the Baptist. For Herod and many of the people felt that Jesus was John raised from the dead. Others said he was Elijah, for Malachi (4:5) prophesied that he would come again. While yet others said Jesus was Jeremiah, because the same attribute of a broken heart for the condition of the people was found in Jesus as well as the weeping prophet. But Peter gives the best response when he said, thou art the Christ, the son of the living God. That's how a church survives in a world that is going to hell in a handbasket...confess that Jesus is the great head of the church. We make it, all of us because we recognize that Jesus is at the helm of the called out people of God. Here is the sermon outline:

Thesis: churches survive in a hostile culture with their clear confession that Jesus Christ is the great head of the church

I. Foundation of God's Church

-verse 18...thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church

a. character of the foundation - Jesus and not Peter is the rock the church is built on
b. cause of the foundation - I will build my church

II. Future of God's Church

-verse 18...and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it

a. challenge to God's church - and the gates of hell
b. conquest of God's church - shall not prevail against it

III. Function of God's Church

-verse 19...and I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and whatever is bound on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever is loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven

a. potential of God's church - I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven
b. power of God's church - and whatever is bound on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever is loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven

Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Sermon Series

As we have moved off of our month of unity in October, the Lord has led me to begin a new series on the next Lord's Day that deals with how and why the church was created, which is a series born out of the place in scripture where the church was formulated and put into motion, Acts 2, which I have entitled the entire series Created For A Community. The purpose of this series is that as we are getting ourselves ready to make our transition from Newark to Montclair, there are some things that we as a ministry need to absorb to cultivate a proper atmosphere of worship and service to the Lord Jesus Christ. Too often we as preachers take for granted that when we are called to a church that our predecessor had already laid a good foundation that we can just build on. And until we spend some time with the church, we will never know what they have been taught and what they need to be taught.

Now please understand that I am not hating or being overly critical of my predecessor, I don't know him at all, but what I do know is that I need to reinforce the basic principle of how and why the church was created in the first place. I actually preached this series during my first assignment at Friendship Baptist Church, Asbury Park, NJ about 5 years ago and I am really interested how I have grown as a preacher in the last 5 years as I will need to change a whole lot of the sermon content and maybe even structure of those messages. Please keep our church, this series and me in your prayers during this time of our development.

Before I close this post, please let me explain my feelings about preaching sermon series in the first place. Here in Jersey, not many of us will put forth the time and effort to preach expositional sermons in a series form. What I have discovered is that many of my peers will start a series, but give up after 2-3 sermons with the excuse of becoming bored or their congregation was no longer interested. And I will be the first to admit that preaching in series form takes a whole lot of work and focus, and sometimes it tends to get a little tedious. But the reality is that, I truly believe that preaching in a series will do a couple of things: first of all it will keep the congregation focused on a particular theme, or particular book, or particular chapter all at the same time. It will give the congregation one set diet of spiritual food to make it through the tough times of life. Secondly, it will make the preacher more focused on the task at hand of teaching and encouraging the people that we are placed in charge of. I think the worst thing for a preacher is to have to hunt for something to preach on Friday or Saturday night, only to get to the pulpit on Sunday depending on our GIFTS to get us through, yet the people have not been helped at all. I have to be in a series all the time, because I am a procrastinator who will wait until the last minute to do everything, so if I am in a series, it forces me to get to work on Sunday evening on the message for next week. Just a little glimpse into my thoughts about preaching in a series instead of jumping around the bible.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Word of Encouragment

There has been a great burden on my heart for the last couple of weeks, that really had me concerned during that time. I thought that it was all of the pressure and weight that has been on my shoulders regarding this relocation project for our church. But early this morning the Lord dealt with me concerning this matter. The Lord revealed to me that this heavy burden is not just because of my project, but he brought back to my remembrance all of the other posts by my blogging friends recently that dealt with the problems and stresses that they are dealing with presently as well. And the Apostle Paul says in Romans 12:15 that we all ought to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Since every single word in scripture is accurate in its origin and in is application, this burden on my heart has been to pray for each and every one of us who have been struggling with something in our respective ministries.

So I got up and began to praise God, at first I didn't know why, but as I keep on rejoicing in the presence of God, it became crystal clear, that each of us that are dealing with issues in our ministries, whether it be members who are refusing to follow leadership, members not tithing, buildings that either needs repairs or renovated or relocation projects that you seem to be the only one who is excited or willing to put in the time and effort to make sure that it gets done, or maybe it is deacons or trustees who feel that we should be following them instead of them following the set leader of the house. Whatever it may be, I would that you allow me to give you the words to a song that lifted my spirits early this morning in my time with the Lord. It is the awesome song written and recorded by Donald Lawrence:

some times you have to encourage yourself
some times you have to speak victory during the test
but no matter how you feel
speak the word and you will be healed
speak over yourself, encourage yourself in the Lord

some times you have to speak a word over yourself
depression is all around
but God is a present help
the enemy created walls
but remember giants they do fall
speak over yourself, encourage yourself in the Lord

as I minister to you, I minister to myself
life can hurt you so
til you feel there's nothing left
but no matter how you feel
speak a word and you will be healed
speak over yourself, encourage yourself in the Lord

May the Lord bless you and keep you, may he make his face to shine upon you, may he lift his countenance upon you, may he be gracious to you, that is to give you his divine favor, may he give you his peace, and may this peace be with you until we meet again. Stay encourage people of God, better things are on the way.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Harmony In Church

Text: I Peter 3:8-12

Thesis: harmony in God's church is attained through a purposed expression of love one to another

I. Express Love For Your Companions

-verse 8...finally all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind

a. evidence of love is unity of mind
b. evidence of love is compassion for one another
c. evidence of love is pity for one another

II. Express Love For Your Challengers

-verse not repay evil for evil, or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing
-Peter said that if you are going to have harmony in the church, we all must learn how to love our enemies
-opposition to the believer is like a head wind is to an will allow the believer to fly higher than ever before

III. Express Love For Your Core

-verses 10-12 Peter explains that a harmonious church is a church that loves life itself
-impending persecution should never cause a child of God to give up on life

a. calculated act...verse 10 - whoever desires to love life and see good days
b. controlled act...verse 10 - let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit
c. capable act...verse 11 - let him turn away from evil and do good
d. calm act...verse 11 - let him seek peace and pursue it

-verse 12 tells us that there is a reward for loving your brothers and sisters, your enemies and life itself...the eyes of the Lord is on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayers
-pitfalls for failing to express love is...the face of the Lord is against those who do evil

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Stuff

I was back in the pulpit of the First Mount Zion Church today, and it was real good to be back home. I was really looking forward to being in worship at FMZBC today, and I was equally excited about preaching today. We are winding up our Unity Month and the Lord has begun to show some signs that His Word is beginning to penetrate the hearts of the people of God.

I am not a preacher who engages in false ideas of what kind of church that I have. I am not one of those Pastors who stand around in the Exhibit Hall of the Convention, with a suit on at 11 AM, walking around telling lies about what kind of church I Pastor, because somebody will eventually come to your church and they will see the real church. Having said that, when I followed the leading of the Lord to engage our congregation in a unity month, I was concerned whether or not the people would really listen to what God told me to do and follow. But today one of my senior members came up to me before worship and told me that I had a misprint on the list of scriptures that I gave them to read every day on unity. She not only told me of a misprint, but she also had the correct scripture that she was certain I meant to put in there. That really made my day and showed me that if I am faithful to the Lord, he will keep giving signs that shows that I am doing the right things.

I concluded our series on unity entitled An Open Door Towards A Brighter Tomorrow, with an exposition on I Peter 3:8-12 which I tagged Harmony in Church. Peter writes this letter to Jewish Christians as a word of encouragement for the suffering that they received simply because they were follows of Jesus Christ. He gives suffering saints assurance that because they are joint heirs with Jesus in suffering, their suffering will be transformed to glory. Chapter 2 tells us that slaves can be witnesses of Christ in a hostile world. The first 7 verses of Chapter 3 tells us that spouses can be witnesses of Christ in a hostile world. Verses 8-12 tells us that the saints can be witnesses of Christ in a hostile world. He opens verse 8 by saying finally all of you live in harmony. This word harmony in the Greek means to be in total agreement. If God's church is going to be effective in ministry, the church must walk in total agreement one with another. The only way that can be accomplished is for each member to fill the church with an expression of love one to another. Love will cover a multitude of faults.

Worship was outstanding. I will post the outline for the message tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Single Minded Church

Text: Philippians 3:13-14

Thesis: if we have a single minded attitude in this life, there will be something greater awaiting for us in the next life

I. Forget the Past

-verse 13...brethren I count not myself to be apprehended but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind me
-forget in the Greek means to completely the imperative which means it is a command which suggests that if we don't forget the past it is a sin against God

a. conclusion of past - brethren I count...count means careful consideration of past thoughts about oneself, will bring you to a conclusion that you have not arrived

b. completion of the process - brethren I count not myself to be apprehended...apprehended means a past completed process that still holds true in the present...Paul held on to Jesus so that he would not turn back to sin

c. conduct of our purpose - forgetting those things which are behind...Paul uses Olympic imagery...carries the idea of a runner winning a race by not looking behind at his opponents which will slow him down

II. Fight in the Present

-verse 13...reaching towards those things which are before me
-people will put obstacles in your way that will attempt to stifle your progress in the race
-must be willing to fight in order to reach your destination

a. fighting takes strength - by reading the bible, praying and Christian fellowship

b. fighting takes stamina - God does not need runners who will give up at mid-race, but he's looking for those that will endure until the end

c. fighting takes simplicity - remember who's team you are running for

III. Finish With the Prize

-verse 14...I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus
-this high calling is not a call to this life...but it is a call to the next life
-in Olympics, when you win a race, you are given a crown, but in the next race, somebody can come and take your crown
-but when you run for the Master, that crown will never be taken away.

The Protection of God

Text: Romans 8:31

Thesis: No matter the situations that we may face, every child of God will find security in God because of the protection of God

I. Author of the Protection

-if GOD

II. Action of the Protector

-if God IS FOR US

III. Assurance of the Protected

-if God is for us, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday Stuff

On yesterday, I had the expressed privilege of being the guest preacher at the Lilydale Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago, IL, where my good friend and brother, Romell Williams serves as the Pastor, for their 95th Church Anniversary Celebration. Let me say right off the bat that I was so impressed with the ministry and administrative acumen of Romell Williams. He recently led his congregation into a great renovation project for their building and while they are not totally complete with the project, the work that has been done thus far is outstanding. Not only is he a great administrator, where his staff is attentive and operate his vision and direction with a spirit of excellence, but his church loves him. His ministerial staff loves him. His deacons love him. His musicians love him. Often times when our peers see others doing well with their ministries, the green-eye of jealousy will rear its ugly head to the point that people start looking for things to complain about. But I left that church on yesterday armed with a greater sense of commitment and urgency to grow my ministry at FMZBC to become a machine such is there at Lilydale Progressive. God Be Praised for what he is doing and will do for Romell and Lilydale.

The worship was outstanding all day long. Lately, I have been having some problems with my voice, which for those of us who utilize our voices to the max, can be a distraction in worship. So because this was prevalent on my mind, it caused me to rush through my message on Romans 8:31 at 8 AM, which I tagged The Protection of God. I do not feel that I did my best, but his members came up after service to tell me how blessed they were by the Word of God, and one came to unite with Lilydale, which means that the Lord showed up and blessed. I relaxed more at 11 AM because I made a point to myself, that if my voice is not going to hold up like I want it, I will put all of my focus on my assignment. I preached a message from Philippians 3:13-14 which I tagged A Single Minded Church, and I didn't rush or focus on my voice, I just gave God everything that I had, and he honored that by sending 2 more to come to unite with the church including one for baptism. This let me know that all we as Preachers need to focus on is our faithfulness to our assignment and let God sort out the rest. The Anniversary Celebration concluded at 3:30 PM with Pator Herring from the Calvary Baptist Church who preached from Joshua 3 which he tagged Getting to the Next Level. It was a pleasure to both meet and hear Pastor Herring on yesterday and I look forward to fellowshipping with him again.

Last night we finished our day in worship, by attending the Dedication Celebration for the newly erected building of the New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church, where Dr. Stephen J. Thurston serves as Senior Pastor. The builidng is phenominal and the worship was outstanding, as Pastor Davis from Mississippi brought the message out of Psalms 91. We are praying that God will grant them favor to meet every financial need that has arisen with an undertaking such as this.

I will post the outlines for both messages from yesterday on tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Divided House Will Not Stand

Text: I Corinthians 1:10

Thesis: A church expresses true unity when they make an intended effort to make the main thing the main thing

I. Express Parallel Articulation

-verse 10...I appeal to you brothers by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you
-a unified house is united in speech

II. Express Parallel Attention

-verse 10...but that you be united in the same mind
-a unified house is united in thought

III. Express Parallel Aim

-verse 10...and the same judgment
-a unified house is united in focus

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Stuff

-Wow what a day! I am physically spent after an equally long and exciting day in worship with God's people. We started out at 8 AM at the First Hopewell Baptist Church in Newark for their Men's Day Celebration. First Hopewell just installed their new pastor, Rev. Antonio Porter, and to my delight, they are excited and very happy that God has sent them a new shepherd. I had the pleasure of hearing Pastor Porter give the closing message on last Friday at the end of the 104th Annual Session of the General State Baptist Convention of New Jersey, and let me tell you, he delivered an outstanding message that really seemed to connect with the conventioneers. In our state, it is really difficult for younger Pastors to receive warm receptions from the attendees of our convention who are mostly older, but Pastor Porter really did a good job.

-As for the worship at First Hopewell, it was outstanding! The members of that church really know how to respond to biblical exposition. Worship was high energy from the time we entered into the sanctuary, until I gave the benediction. Please keep this growing congregation in your prayers as they latch on to the vision of their new Pastor.

-At 10 AM, we continued our focus at FMZBC on our Month of Unity called Unity: An Open Door Towards A Brighter Tomorrow, with our attempt at exposition on I Corinthians 1:10, which I labeled A Divided House Will Not Stand. Paul writes this letter to the Corinthian Church because they were in serious trouble. They had become a defiled church, in that their members engaged in sexual immoralities, drunkeness and they took the grace of God for granted to excuse their sinful ways. They were also a divided church, as there were four different groups that were competing for leadership at the church. Because they were a defiled church and a divided church they became a disgraced church. Paul tells them in verse 10 that there be no divisions among them. This word division in the Greek means to rip or tear apart, and they were letting these factions that competed for leadership, rip and tear this church apart. Paul says that the only way to fight off this division in the church, they must not look towards their own selfishness, but they must look towards Jesus Christ.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Blessedness of Christian Unity

We began our series during our Month of Unity, which I tagged the entires series, Unity: An Open Door Towards A Brighter Tomorrow, with our look at one of the most famous verses in scripture on unity housed in the great book of Psalms, 133:1-3. I found this song interesting in that David was able to talk about brothers expressing unity one with another, when David's family had a history of not being united. But David understood that unity among God's people was essential for service. It is a blessing when God's people stick together. Here is the sermon outline:

Text: Psalms 133:1-3

Thesis: our willingness as children of God to walk together in unity, pleases God and activates the rich blessings of God on our lives

I. Sanctification of Christian Unity

-verse is like the precious oil on the head running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes
-unity of the people of God is like precious oil that was used to consecrate the high priest to set aside for service

II. Strengthening of Christian Unity

-verse is like the dew of Hermon which falls on the mountains of Zion
-God uses unity to refresh his people and keep them from withering away

III. Subsidy of Christian Unity

-verse 3...for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore
-subsidy means reward
-whenever God's people stick together they are rewarded with life forevermore

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vision of First Mount Zion Baptist Church

The Next Step: First Mount Zion Baptist Church's Plan for a Church of Excellence

I Corinthians 12:28:31

Vision Statement: Proclaiming The Word for His glory, Protecting the Weak from His judgment, and Preparing the World for His return

Mission Statement: Cultivate a Christian Community Committed to the Cause of Christ in an effort to Change a Culture

A. Proclaiming the Word For His Glory

2. Praise & Worship

B. Protecting The Weak From His Judgment


a. Each member must be responsible for bringing 2 people per month to church
b. Each member must be responsible for witnessing in our new community

C. Preparing the World For His Return

Mission: Developing our spiritual gifts through discipleship
2. Method: Effectively train through biblical teaching and training
3. Goal: Every member must participate in a ministry

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Unity Month

Today our church is beginning an effort designed to bring about a more unified congregation in order for us to fulfill the vision that God has provided for us. This focus of this month is Unity: An Open Door Towards A Brighter Tomorrow, with our key scripture is Ephesians 4:1-4. We are fasting together every Wednesday from 6 to 6, and I am really excited about what I believe to be the genesis of our church becoming a great people.

I truly get excited when God blesses my friends to have great ministries. I was overjoyed when HB Charles Jr. became the new pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Church in Jacksonville, FL, like it was me getting blessed. I felt the same way when I found out that the congregation that HB moved from in Los Angeles, Mt. Sinai Church, has quickly selected a new leader in George Hurtt, who will do an outstanding job at that branch of Zion. When I look at all of my blogging friends and how awesome their churches and ministries have been blessed by God, I really get excited. I quote HB by saying I am praying that God will bless my friends big and bless them quick, so that when they get blessed they will get out of the line, and that only makes me closer to get what God has for me.

This month of prayer and focusing on the Word for unity, I believe, will catapult our congregation to heights never seen before. I solicit your prayers for us as we venture into unchartered territory towards a brighter tomorrow. Please pray for my strength to stand boldly and be the leader of men that God has called me to be.

Monday, September 29, 2008

You Reap What You Sow

Title: You Reap What You Sow
Text: 2 Corinthians 9:6-10

Thesis: God blesses those who's acts of worship through giving is presented with a cheerful heart

I. God Blesses Us Sufficiently

-verse 8...and God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work

-when we give cheerfully, God provides for us sufficient resources that will supply the entire need of the believer

II. God Blesses Us Supremely

-verse it is written, he has distributed freely, he has given to the poor, his righteousness endures forever

-when we give cheerfully to the Lord, we are blessed with a supreme blessing that will never dry up

a. Liberal Blessing - distribute freely
b. Lifting Blessing - given to the poor...phrase means to provide for someone who is in great pain, the resources needed to alleviate that pain
c. Lasting Blessing - his righteousness endures forever

III. God Blesses Us Successfully

-verse 10...he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness

-when we give cheerfully to the Lord, he will provide for the believer the miracle to multiplication to ensure that because we give, we will always have blessings that will sustain

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Stuff

Today was an interesting day at FMZBC. We concluded our series on Developing A Giving Church, with our look at 2 Corinthians 9:6-10, which I will post the outline on Monday, I labeled the message "You Reap What You Sow". The Apostle Paul writes this portion of the letter to the Corinthian Church to encourage them to give as an act of worship to the Lord for all of the things that he had done for them. The Corinthians were not accustomed to giving, even though God had taken good care of them, so Paul needed to motivate them to participate in the worship of God with an expression of their gifts. In verses 6-10, Paul lets them and us know that the measure of what we reap is directly tied into the amount that we sow. I pray that we see the results of this series manifest itself in the life of our congregation that we will see the effects of which through our faithfulness in our stewardship.

We also had a church meeting after worship where I gave the new vision to the church as well as an update on our relocation project. Let me state out front, I detest church meetings. The majority of my experiences is that even when you tell the congreagation that this is a meeting to give the vision, there are still those who come with a spirit of disruption and being argumentative. I saw people today who have not been to church in months, but they wanted to show up for the meeting. There was questions that was discussed last year when we met to decide to relocate, yet they wanted to come and bring up those same questions today. I am grateful though, there were members who saw this happening and they stood up to tell them that this type of action was not appreciated. God Be Praised! I am encouraged by the outspoken actions of a few of our members who are willing to stand up for what's right.

After I presented the vision (I will post that this week as well), I gave each member a letter of commitment to sign, so that not only can I know, but also the other members would know, who is supportive of this new vision and to make them accountable to God and one another for their role in the growth and development of our church. I can honestly say, that I personally saw 98% of those in attendance sign that letter. I'm encouraged by this.

The month of October our church will be in what I call the Month of Unity, where we will read two scriptures per day on unity as well as praying each day that our church will re-discover our unity as believers of Christ. Every Wednesday, we will fast from 6 AM - 6 PM while reading those scriptures for that day. Whatever text falls on Sunday that I gave them, I will be attempting an exposition on that text. Our motto for this month is...Unity: An Open Door Towards a Brighter Tomorrow--Ephesians 4:1-4. Please pray for our church that these attempts to make us a people of excellence in everything we do for the Lord will be pleasing to him.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Peril of A Prideful Steward

Worship was really good on yesterday. The Lord showed up in our church as we had a real good praise and worship period. I had no expectation of a good day in worship because we didn't get into the church until about 10:30. We share the building that we sold with the buyers and they are supposed to open the church at 9:00 am every Sunday. I am really trying not to allow our attorney to put some heavy pressure on them, however this is the third time that this has happened and if it continues to occur, something must be done. In spite of this the Lord really blessed the worship and he blessed my feeble attempt at biblical exposition.

We continued our series on tithing and stewardship entitled Developing a Giving Church, with our look at a parable of Jesus Christ found in Luke's account, 18:9-14. Here Jesus gives this parable to those who trusted themselves to make them righteous and treated others with contempt. He compares the offering of a Pharisee and a tax collector, who both enters into the temple to pray, the Pharisee brings his offering with pride but the tax collector brings his with reverence to the Lord. This Pharisee attempts to extol his virtues by shining a light of condemnation on the sins of this tax collector and others. Jesus says that God is looking for those who recognize that they owe God a worship offering because of what God has done for them and not those who try to bring attention to themselves. Here is the sermon outline:

Title: Peril of a Prideful Steward
Text: Luke 18:9-14

Thesis: God blesses our gifts when they are given out of devotion and not out of display

I. Devoted Givers Are Respectful

-verse 13...but the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven
-this tax collector expressed his repentance and respect to the Lord by the manner in which he comes into the presence of God
-the Pharisee comes with high-mindedness...the tax collector stands far off

a. manner of his respect...standing far off...he kept his distance under a sense of great unworthiness due to his life of sin

b. meditations in his respect...would not even lift up his eyes to heaven...this sinful tax collector thought about his life of sin and didn't even want the Lord to see his face

II. Devoted Givers Are Reticent

-verse 13...but beat his breast saying, God be merciful to me, a sinner
-this prayer was short in presentation yet succinct in its purpose
-the tax collector comes humbly to the Lord and asks not for material things...he only asks the Lord, have mercy on me for I am a sinner

III. Devoted Givers Attain Recognition

-verse 14...for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mid-Week Notes - 9/17/08

-This week has been a tough week for me. I have been inundated with this relocation project with every aspect of the project from soup to nuts and I never would have imagined that this would so time consuming and stressful. But that is the price that one has to pay in order to do things different for God than what has ever been done before. I have been on conference calls with the architect 3 different times today, just to schedule a date for next week to finalize all of the plans for how the new facility is going to look. I must admit though, I am very excited about this project and the fact that we will be able to shape this new building to look exactly like we want it to look, God be praised!

-I have also been drafted to serve as the Chief of Staff for a former Newark Councilman's campaign to retake the seat which has been vacated by a New Jersey District Court Judge, due to a legal matter regarding the person who took his seat during the last election. I need to be honest, I am just learning the ins and outs of an electoral campaign, so this is taking a little bit of an adjustment for me. I will say that this Presidential Campaign has made me more interested infinitely in the election process, not so that I could possibly run for election (I don't believe Pastors should be elected officials), but so that I can have influence and access when it comes to politicians and their role in our city and for my church. Our city is at a critical state as is other cities. Our new Mayor, has failed to exhibit any intent to make this city better for the residents who are presently here, but rather there are outside forces that desire to have control over the vast resources that the City of Newark possesses. Please keep our city in your prayers.

-Please pray for one of my sisters, Laure Brock, she was diagnosed with Leukemia a couple years ago, which is now in remission, but her doctors recently discovered that she has an aggressive form of breast cancer. The doctors have scheduled surgery for Friday, but they said the cancer has still spread. Our family again is in need of your prayers. These are trying times for the faithful believers of Jesus Christ, please pray our strength in the rich blessings of the Lord.

-Pastor Joe A. Carter of The New Hope Baptist Church, Newark, NJ, lost his older brother Henry yesterday. He still is feeling the lost of his other brother Pastor Ron C. Carter a few years back, and now this happens. Please call his family's name out in prayer as they must have a home going service for Henry on Monday.

-I have to preach at the Metropolitan Baptist Church, Scotch Plains, NJ tonight for their Fall Revival. I have been doing this revival for the last 5 years, and I always look forward to this time of year where I can share with Pastor Clement Griffin and the sweet people of the Metropolitan Church. I am only doing tonight's service, but please pray for the revival as a whole.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday Stuff - 9/14/08

  • Yesterday I had an anxious day in worship. I was ready to preach, but I did not go to bed until 4 am Sunday Morning, which had me wondering if I would have enough energy to preach like I normally would. In our church, I lead the worship every Sunday as well as I lead the music. My voice felt a little raw during worship, but I thank God for his awesome power and the blessing of a real good sound system. By the way, what I have discovered is that many of our members really don't see the true importance of having a good sound system. They mostly feel that any system will do, but to a person who uses their voice as much as Pastors do, my system MUST be good or my voice will suffer tremendously. God be praised for a good system.

  • We continued our series of sermons on tithing which I entitled the series, Developing A Giving Church, with our look at what is probably the most famous passage on tithing, Malachi 3:6-12, which I tagged the sermon The Blessing of Financial Obedience. The Prophet Malachi addressed this discourse to second generation Children of Israel who's forefathers some 90 years earlier had experienced the great revival for the Jews with Ezra rebuilding the temple and Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. But the prophet noticed that some 90 years later, the people had gone away from the things of God and they needed to return to the basics. In verses 6-7 God contrasts his character from their character by telling them that the reason why they had gotten away from the things of God was not because God had changed but because they had changed. God also noted for them, what their main problem was in verse 8, when he tells Malachi to say to them, will a man rob God, which caused them to respond with this question, where have we robbed him, in tithes and contributions (ESV). This problem has far-reaching ramifications, for when we fail to tithe, we curse our own blessings, and we also contribute in the cursing of others as well. How do we fix this problem: verse 10 says, bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Here is the sermon outline:

Title: The Blessing of Financial Obedience

Thesis: fallen children are rewarded with a promised act of reconciliation back to God through a purposed desire to trust God with our resources

I. Promise of Sufficient Abundance

-verse 10...bring the full tithe into the storehouse...if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need
-when we fail to tithe, we rob God of the ability to bless his people...both you and somebody else
-windows of heaven is the bible's words to describe the source from where the blessings of God come from

II. Promise of Success Over Our Adversary

-verse 11...I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts
-this verse is evidence of the fact that how we deal with money is a spiritual issue that touches every aspect of our life
-when we obey God in the material realm, it impacts us in the spiritual realm
-God did not promise that tithing would make us immune from trials, but he does promise that when we tithe, he will make sure that our trials does not eat us up

III. Promise of Spiritual Admiration

-verse 12...then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts
-God promises to bless those who tithe with agricultural prosperity and undamaged vines in verse 11
-which suggests to us that when others see a tithing people they can't help but to call us blessed

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Wow, 36 years ago today, in Newark, NJ, a Pastor and an usher, gave birth to a 2 month premature baby boy that they named Lance Antione Mann, at 5lbs 8 oz. That boy was born with a bad case of asthma that resulted in being admitted into the hospital every two weeks for the first two years of his life. The doctors said that his lungs would never become fully developed and that he would probably need oxygen for the better part of his life. But what the doctors failed to take into consideration was that his parents were praying people, who knew that if they called on the Lord, he would answer their prayers.

That sickly child with the bad lungs, has been blessed by the Lord Jesus to become a singer on national stages, as well as a preacher/pastor. It amazes me how the Lord has brought me from where I was, to where I am now, and where I will be in God. I am grateful for these 36 years and I am eagerly awaiting the next level that God has in store for me. God be praised!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Giving God Your Best

Because of the stressful week that I endured last week regarding the health of my son, I really couldn't wait to get to worship. I had a great desire to give God thanks for bringing my son home, but I was also excited about continuing our series on tithing entitled Developing a Giving Church.

The worship was outstanding from the devotion through the Lord's Supper until the benediction. The altar call was powerful, as we experienced a mighty praise in the prayer period, which lifted the spirits of the congregation. God be praised for worship even during altar call.

We looked at the first instance in scripture where the people of God gave and offering to God as an act of sacrifice. Genesis 4 records the story of the sons of Adam and Eve named Cain and Abel who after a little while each gave an offering to the Lord. Cain, being a keeper of the ground, offered up to the Lord the fruit of the ground, and Abel, being a keeper of the sheep, offered up the firstborn of his flock. God accepted the offering of Abel, yet rejected the offering of Cain's. Why? First of all because of the nature of the gift; Cain's offering was not a blood offering. Secondly, because of the Quality of the gift; Abel's gift was the firstborn of his flock, and Cain's gift came from a cursed ground. Genesis 3:17 God told Adam that because he listened to his wife and disobeyed the commands of God, the ground would be cursed and he will have to eat of the fruit from that ground. Thirdly, because of the character of the giver; Genesis 4:4-5 God had regard for Abel and no regard for Cain, which tells us that the person who is bringing the gift means more to the Lord than the gift itself. All of this means that God cares about the condition of the heart of the giver, he wants us to give him the best that we have. Here is the outline:

Thesis: giving God your best is only accomplished through a heart of true worship and not a focus on external actions

I. Focus on a Relationship With God

-verse 4
-Abel recognized the existence of God into his life and his graciousness of Him being the ruler of the universe
-made a decision to give God his very best because of who God is in his life

II. Focus on Faith in God

-verse 4
-Hebrews 11:4 exemplifies Abel's focus on his faith in God to give God his very best
-faith empowers our ability to give gifts to the Lord

a. God Centered - Abel had enough faith to give God his best due to his obedience to the directives of God
b. God Consented - God looked at the faithfulness of Abel and the callousness of Cain; held them up against one another and made a decision that Abel's gift was worth an accommodation

III. Focus on Our Provisions From God

-verse 4
-Abel was willing to give God his best because he recognized that the bountiful flock did not belong to him, but it all belonged to the Lord
-Cain was proud of the crops he raised and had a difficult time letting them go; so he gave God just enough to acknowledge that God played a small role in his success
-Abel realized that everything he has came from God...which made it easier for him to give God the best gift that he had

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Praise Report!!!!

First of all, I want to express my heart-felt gratitude for all of my blogging buddies who called Devante's name out to the Lord with believing prayers on last night. Words cannot express how much my heart was overjoyed with the responses of my last post, calling on the people of God to pray for my son. I do believe that the effectual and fervent prayers of righteous people indeed avail much, and that's why I immediately knew to make this request and you all answered tremendously, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Well, my son made it through his procedure and they found out that he has lesions on his esophagus which is treatable with medication and that they detected an early formation of ulcers in his stomach, which because it was detected early, is treatable with medication as well. I spoke to him a little bit ago after he came out of recovery and he sounded better and he said that he felt better, but he was very hungry and he didn't know when they would let him eat. I am awaiting on the doctor to decide if he's going home today or in the morning, but either way it happens, I will be happy when he gets home.

I am grateful to the Lord for answering prayers and bringing my son through this okay. Please keep all of my children in your prayers and I will continue doing the same for you. God be praised!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Please Pray for my Son!

I just got a call from Orlando, FL, our 13 year-old son Devante, got admitted to the hospital for observations due to him being unable to swallow for the last couple of weeks. They initially thought that he just had a case of tonsillitis, they then felt that it may be an infection of his sinuses. But after a couple of tests, the doctors felt the need to keep him overnight so that they will be able to run a tube down his throat to take pictures of his cavities to see if he may have a scratch or some sort of other infection.

I have a hopeless feeling because our sons live a thousand miles away and in instances like this, it is hard for me to focus much. Please pray for my son, I need the Lord to move in a mighty way so that my boy will be alright. Please blog friends, ask the Lord to calm my nerves and please keep my boy safe. Tonight when you talk to the Master, please call my boys name in prayer. I am anticipating a great praise report on tomorrow.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Proper Attitude of A Good Steward

Preaching on holiday weekends are probably the hardest times to preach for me, and I feel this way for a couple of reasons. First of all, many members decide that since they are off from work on Monday, they can be off from church as well. Secondly, the ones that showed up at church, are too busy looking at their watches, with those looks on their faces like they want me to hurry up so that they could get to their BBQs. It is because of these reasons that I was really apprehensive about starting a new series on the Sunday before Labor Day. While our crowd was off some with people staying away, I was ready to preach and those that were there seemed to be very receptive to the exposition of the Word.

This is the first time in my Pastoral Ministry that I have begun a series on giving and stewardship. I have taught stewardship during our bible study, but I have never initiated an entire series dedicated to stewardship and tithing, so as you can expect, I was extremely nervous about the preachment hour. But as always, God showed up and got me through the exposition.

This parable of Jesus Christ to his disciples,housed in Matthew 20:1-16, is normally looked at from the point of view of the service of the laborers, but I thank God for showing me the point of view that it is not only about our service or our actions, but Jesus wanted us to see that in order to be good stewards over what the Lord has placed in our care, we must have the right attitude towards stewardship. And I believe that in the life of our church, where we are embarking on an aggressive relocation project, we would be better stewards of our time, talents and treasures if we changed our attitudes towards it. Here is the sermon outline, it's a little lengthy, but I needed to incorporate the entire parable to give the text its proper justice:

Thesis: a healthy mind-set towards our roles as stewards will produce a healthy and productive church

I. God Owns Everything

-verse 1...for the Kingdom of Heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard

a. He created everything
b. He coordinated everything

II. God Controls Everything

-verses 1-7 shows us that since God owns everything, he is in total control of the fruit, field and the harvest
-he has the right to make all of the decisions because the field belongs to him and he makes agreements with his laborers

a. Who Hires Laborers - master of the house
b. Where are they Hired From - marketplace
c. What are their Wages - denarius (Roman Penny) and whatever is right
d. How Long are they Hired For - One day's work

III. God Judges Everyone

-verses 8-15 shows us that God judges the laborers not by their fruit, but by their faithfulness
-Owner judges the account of the laborers

a. Account Taken - evening time was reckoning time
-this was the time when the owner tallied up the record in order to pay the laborers their days wage
-there will come a time when our Father in Heaven will tally up our account in the record book in glory to judge our faithfulness to the work we have been called to

b. Action of the Laborers

1. offense taken - verses 11-12...they complained that everybody was paid the same wage but they did not all work the same amount
2. offense removed - verses 13-14
a. no one distressed them - friend, I have done you no wrong
b. no one deceived them - did you not agree with me for a denarius
c. no one denied them - take what belongs to you and go

IV. God Gives Greatly to Everyone

-verse I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me or do you begrudge my generosity
-God has a plan to reward those who have been faithful to him with his great generosity

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A New Series

I have a big problem with my preaching. Whenever I am not in a series, I sometimes feel like I playing a game of darts in the dark, aiming at whatever I see and hoping I hit something that will give me a good score. When it comes to preaching, and I am not in a series, I feel handicapped and inadequate to be a blessing to the people that God places me in charge of. So what I usually do is when I get about 1/2 way through a series, I pray and ask God for guidance and leadership towards the next series of sermons that will help our congregation become the church that God is looking for in these evil days.

So as I began consulting the Lord on the next series, the Lord led me to see that we are now in a relocation project that is totally and completely a faith walk by the Pastor, leadership and members of the First Mount Zion Church Family, and in order to relocate in a manner such as the one we are embarking upon, the finances of our church needs to become a whole lot stronger than it is. While it is true that we sold our building for a real good sum of money, it would make no sense to use all of our resources on the move and have nothing left to build on. We need to increase our giving and fast!

So the Lord led me to begin a series on tithing and stewardship, and in doing so, he led me to an awesome book by the man who wrote the 5-Star Church, Stan Toler and Elmer Townes, which I am using as the title of our series, Developing A Giving Church. This book entails certain principles and practices that will encourage your church to become a church that gives.

Tomorrow we will be dealing with the parable of Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 20:1-16 as we deal with the matter of our actions and attitudes towards our lives as stewards. Please pray for the series, our church and me as I seek the guidance of the Lord to be a rich blessing to our congregation.