Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Frustrated With America

My fellow bloggers, I have agonized over and over again for the last few weeks about providing my thoughts and convictions about what is going on with our country since August. The main reason why I have been so hesitant to write this post was how much politics polarized this blog family during last year's election, but I believe that we are all mature enough and we should be Christian enough to talk about what goes on in the secular world because it has effects on our spiritual world.

As a black Christian man in America, I am thoroughly appalled by the venom that has and still is being spewed by Republicans, especially those who saw they are Christians. To hear a Steven Anderson, Pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church of Phoenix, AZ, stand up in his pulpit and declare that God has told him that since God hates President Obama, then he wants everyone of his members to hate President Obama.

He further stated that he prays every day and every night that President Obama would attract cancer and die! What kind of pastor would say something so openly racist and ungodly to impressionable members, many of new are probably new converts to Christ, and still call himself an ambassador of Jesus Christ? The problem that I have is with pastors who know how sinful this kind of vitriol is, sit silent and refuse to rebuke this type of sinful talk.

His argument and others like his, is the President's views on abortion, and for the record, I am against abortion, however I do believe that this is the choice of a woman's to make and not the government. She will have to answer to the Lord for her decisions just like any other sin she may commit. If their objection to his view on abortion is that scripture tells us that God considers killing to be a sin, then isn't it killing and a sin when racist Christians kill innocent Christian black men/women/children? And isn't it the job of pastors to call sin out wherever sin is present?

Where in scripture does it say that it is okay for one group of people to discriminate against another group of people because of their ethnicity or their race? CALL ALL SIN WHAT IT IS, SIN!

One of the conflicts I am faced with is that many of these pastors who are talking about abortion are people who's thoughts on scripture have helped to shape my personal preaching, yet while they are not openly doing what Steve Anderson is doing, they surely are not talking against what he is doing on their broadcasts.

Please remember, President Obama is not a muslim, nor is he anti-Christian, but he took the same walk down an aisle that we all did, and he is a child of the same God that we serve!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sunday Stuff

This past Lord's Day was another example of the grace of God in our lives. For some reason I had apprehension about the impending worship on Saturday evening and I couldn't understand it for the life of me.

Maybe it was because I was not totally comfortable with my work on the message, as I felt that I was leaving something out or putting too much stuff in. So I attempted to pare it down and spruce it up, but no matter which way I leaned, I still did not feel comfortable with my attempts to write a solid message. So I went to bed praying that wherever I fell short, that the Lord would give the increase.

I will say that my shortcomings were eradicated by the Lord really showing up and being a great blessing to our congregation. My voice was not at it's best, so I made no attempt to close the message in my normal fashion, and I found out that if we as Pastors/preachers do our part and leave the rest up to Jesus, the people will be blessed by His Word.

The music ministry was excellent as usual, and I led the congregations in singing one of my favorite hymns, Pass Me Not, and let me tell you, songs like that can really be a blessing to the hearts of God's people, especially when you consider the words of the song. While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by. That phrase shouted me, because when I think about all of the people that God has to look after and answer prayers, he still has enough love for me to come by and see about me. What a God!

Lately I have been thinking seriously about going back to school to finish my undergrad work and immediately go on to begin Masters degree work. So I along with my good friend Eddie Spencer, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Nutley, NJ, traveled to Philadelphia to take a tour of Palmer Theological Seminary.

I chose Palmer because the east coast is full of Seminaries, but they are mostly ultra-liberal in their theology, and I wanted to go to a conservative school that puts its mission and teaching on a strict adherence to the Word of God, and Palmer is that place. I am going to complete my undergrad work by January (only need 13 credits) and prayerfully begin the Masters of Theological Studies program at Palmer. Please keep me in your prayers.

One last thing, my family needs your prayers, one of my older cousins, Samuel Mann Jr, passed away yesterday morning and his funeral services are this Saturday. Please keep his wife and children in your prayers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Song of Assurance

Text: Psalm 121:1-9

Thesis: God is our universal and essential source that will provide all of the help we need in our times of trouble

I. Assured of God's Supportive Assistance

-verses 3-4...he will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber...behold he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep
-when we stand up for righteousness, God will never let our feet slip so that we will fall into the clutches of our enemies

a. support is vigilant - verse 3...he who keep you will not slumber...we can not stand one moment if the Lord ever falls asleep at the wheel in our lives...God will always be awake and alert as long as danger is around us

b. support is vicarious - verse 4...behold he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep...this suggests that God will not sleep on us because he is concerned about the welfare of his children

II. Assured of God's Sustaining Assistance

-verse 5-6...the Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand...the sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night
-these verses suggest that God will maintain his people when trouble arises in our lives
-this verse is impressive when you consider who's name is stamped on it...the previous verses imply who he is, these verses state that Jehovah is the author of our assistance

a. Bears Our Burdens - verse 5...the Lord is your shade on your right hand...during ancient battles, warriors carried a shield in their left hands and they fought with their right hands...God will bear the heat of battle so that we will be able to fight the devil with all that we have

b. Shelters Our Spirits - verse 6...the sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night...all day and night, we are under constant spiritual attack from Satan...and since Satan will not let up on the attacks, God will never let up on his protection

c. Preserve Our Psyche - verse 7...the Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life...God will preserve our souls which are the essence of our minds because if he can keep our souls, he can keep our entire lives...our souls are to be kept from evil, perversion and destruction and kept for the endless love of God

III. Assured of God's Stretching Assistance

-verse 8...the Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore
-this verse describes the scope of God's help...God doesn't put any limits on how far, how hard, or how much He is willing to provide all of the help that his children need
-God will meet us at our lowest point, at our worst times, when others walk out...God will be our great provider

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday Stuff

Great day this past Lord's Day in worship. After spending the week at the National Baptist Convention, I could not wait to get back to the pulpit to preach.

I heard some real good preaching on last week, but two stand out in particular. Dr. John Adolph, Antioch BC. Beaumont, TX and Pastor George Hurtt, Mt. Sinai BC, Los Angeles, CA, both preached us crazy. I was ever the more proud of George because he is a good friend and whenever any friend receives that kind of opportunity to stand on that stage, I feel just as happy as if I were the one preaching.

I continued our series on the Songs of Ascents found in Psalm 120-134, with an exposition of Ps. 121 which I labeled A Song of Assurance.

This Psalm is the answer to the psalter's problems that he faced in Ps. 120. In 120, he lamented the fact that he had to dwell in the midst of two groups of people who specialized in creating chaos and despised peace.

He finds the answer to that problem in Ps. 121, which begins with verse 1, which is one of the most misinterpreted verses in the entire bible. Many preachers/teachers down through the years have mistakenly stated that the Psalter was saying that he will place his sight upon the hill to receive the help he needed. But the psalter was not making a statement in verse 1, but rather he was asking a powerful interrogative. He is really saying, shall I look to the hills from whence cometh my help.

While he asks the question in verse 1, he doesn't make us wait too long for the answer. In verse 2 he makes it clear where his help is coming from, he says no my help comes from the Lord. He finds assurance in the fact that when trouble comes, God is the ultimate and essential resourse for all help for His people (I almost shouted again while I was typing that last sentence).

I have been bothered by a lot of things going on in this country and I have been planning to write a post about it, but have been a little hesitant because I want to make sure that my words and my tone will be received and not dismissed. But I will write this post before the end of the week, so please pray that I am led to say the right things in a manner which will be most effective.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Song For Peace

Text: Psalm 120:1-7

Thesis: in our times of great distress, we must completely depend on God to provide peace for our journey

I. Depend on the Protection of God

-verses 1-2
-the enemy of the psalter uses words of slander against him
-this suggests to power of pain that words have over our lives
-when we are spoken against falsely, our initial reaction is to defend our honor, our reputations
-but this psalter shows us that the best way to deal with the lies of men is to let God be our defender

II. Depend on the Punishment of God

-verses 3-4
-when people set out to slander the name of the people of God, instead of taking their punishment into our own hands, we must allow God to punish our enemies

a. Powerful Punishment- verse 4 talks of sharp arrows from the bow of a mighty warrior
-if people are going to use the sharpness of their lying tongue to inflict pain on us, he will use sharp arrows that are swift and powerful to inflict greater pain on them

b. Persistent Punishment - verse 4 talks of glowing coals of the broom tree
-this broom tree is known for its intense and long lasting burning fire
-so if their lies will figuratively cause a burning pain, God will punish them with an eternal, burning pain in hell

III. Depend on the Providence of God

-verses 5-6
-psalter is showing his discomfort with his dwelling in between neighbors who lie and promote chaos
-but the good news is that if we have to dwell among people such as this, the Providence of God will make our dwelling only temporary

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday Stuff

As I have expressed in an earlier post, holidays are the toughest times to preach in the Christian Church. People start preparing on Sunday for their cookouts on Monday, and as you can expect, on the East Coast, we feel the "numbers" crunch.

But regardless of that, we still had a wonderful worship experience on yesterday. I mean the Lord showed up and the people were ready to bless His name.

Jamal Goodley was at it again, leading the church in worship. We are fortunate to be witnesses to his growth and development into a mighty man of God. Kadeem Turner and our music ministry were on point as usual. I cannot express the importance of a solid and committed music staff. I know of some Pastors who have a revolving door set in their music ministry, but I have been blessed to have the same staff for the last 2 years. To God Be the Glory!!!! And I am not letting them out of my sight!

We began a new sermon series, dealing with 15 wonderful Psalms, 120-134, which is known as the Songs of Ascents, and I have called the series, Marching Up to Zion. These pilgrim songs, were sung by the Children of Israel as they left their homes, left the valleys, headed towards Mount Zion to worship the Lord.

These songs were sung as preparation for their worship period before the Lord and brought about a new attitude towards the things of God.

The aim that the Lord is leading me towards for our church is that as we are getting closer to reaching our own Mt. Zion, there are some things that we must do while we are making this journey towards our new place of worship.

Psalm 120 describes the psalter's feeling of discomfort having to live surrounded by two groups of people, those from Meshech and those from Kedar. They both were powerful people who specialized in flaunting their military strength and economic might, and they were a people of great conflict and chaos who despised peace.

So the psalter writes this song to the Lord seeking his peace while having to dwell among people who hate peace. I labeled this message A Song For Peace. I will post the outline tomorrow.

I am headed for Memphis, TN in the morning to attend the Annual Session of the National Baptist Convention. This is an important year due to the fact that we will elect a new President this week.

The top candidates are Dr. Julius Scruggs of Alabama and the former president, Dr. Henry Lyons of Florida. I have mixed emotions about this as I like the platform of both men, but I think Lyons would be the better president. But there are apprehensions about that fact as well, because right now our convention is INSIGNIFICANT on a national level, and I fear that if Lyons wins we will then become INFAMOUS. The media horde that will befall Memphis will be crazy. Please pray for our convention that God's will be done!