Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Man in the Mirror

We had a wonderful Wednesday in the Word! Both of our Bible classes were very well attended! Worthy is the Lamb!! Our Sunday School lesson for this week is a very challenging lesson for the Body of Christ. It is located in James 1:17-27 and is entitled "Doers of the Word" In our day of tele-evangelism, mega-conferences, you tube,and preaching pod-casts, we hear an abundance of "word" (I like the J-Moss song that says, "everybody ain't gotta word"). Looking at the moral decline of our churches and community, it is abundantly clear that most Christians are hearers of the Word, but not doers of the Word.

The text likens this type of individual to a person that looks at himself in the mirror, sees an imperfection and walks away like it either doesn't exist or it is not significant enough to fix. As crazy as that sounds, it is the same thing when we hear the Word of God preached and don't respond to it by a lifestyle change. The text says when we do this, the only harm that's being done is to ourselves.

I really enjoyed the last part of the lesson, where it says,"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

This is a liberating passage that needs to be posted on the front of our churches, in the barber, beauty, and coffee shops, and wherever church goers dwell. The hallmark of a true child of God is one that has disciplined conversation. I learned a long time ago, that just because you have a right to say it, does not make it right to say!

True religion, that is acceptable to God is far more than having church, being on a board, or working on some "auxiliary". it is meeting people's needs where they are, and not conducting ourselves in ways that ruin our testimony.

I am always amazed that when God has a message for the church, He will confirm it. In our Sunday School lesson as well as in our Bible Study, we saw the admonishment about deceiving ourselves 3 times. I thought that was worthy of expounding upon. Our lesson today was in Galatians 6:2-10, where Paul talked about how as believers, we have obligations to sinning Christians, burdened Christians, the pastor-teachers, and all people.

Many people in our congregation were surprised to discover that the context of 6:7 has to do with giving to the pastor. Tonight was an uplifting and enlightening experience for the Saints at BBC. I am already looking forward to next week!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Black in America

At first, I was hesitant about making a post on this topic, but I feel like the old Pentecostal Mother when she said, "I wasn't gonna tell nobody, but I just couldn't keep it to myself!"

I had an opportunity to watch CNN's documentary entitled "Black in America". I was hoping that this was not another diatribe on the maladies of being black in America. Well, it was exactly what I had hoped it would not be. In my opinion, this show helped to nurture the "zoo mentality" attitude that is shared by some outside of the black community. The "zoo mentality" suggests that we look at animals in a habitat that looks natural, but actually these animals were captured and taken against their will and placed in an environment where they cannot survive without the "zoo keeper". It also tells others that they should be grateful that they are not black.

Of course on these types of shows, they show both extremes, being extremely poor or being well off. The things that troubles me about this is both the poor or the well off focused on the struggles that they had without mentioning them being better people or having developed character as a result of their struggle.

I think that it is the struggle that makes being black so wonderful. Under so much hatred and oppression, we still rise! This country was built on our struggle. There is no wealth in America that did not result from black labor. If it was not for nearly 400 years of free labor, where would America be?

I'm proud to be Black in America, as a matter of fact, Black is America! If there was no Black in America, there would be no; Automatic Car Coupling Device, Mechanical Seed Planter, Mechanical Corn Harvester, Street Sweeper, Microcomputer system with bus control means for peripheral processing devices, Blood Banks, Egg Beater, Refrigeration for Trucks and Railroad Cars, Pencil Sharpener, Automatic Lubrication System for railroads and heavy machinery, Automatic Shoe Making Machine, Elevator, Gas Mask, Automatic Traffic Signal, Hot Comb, Open Heart Surgery, Steam Boiler, Radiator, Third Rail (subway), Railway Air Brakes, Lemon Squeezer, Farmer's Almanac, Ironing Board, Electrical Resistor used in computers, radios, television sets and a variety of electronic devices, Safe Deposit Box, Peanut Butter, Adhesives, Bleach, Chili Sauce, Ink, Instant Coffee, Linoleum, Mayonnaise, Paper, Plastic, Pavement, Shaving Cream, Talcum Powder, Hair Relaxers and so much more!! Also if there was no Black in America we wouldn't be witnessing the highest voter turnout ever and the most watched race for President in American history!!!

That's what it's really like to be Black in America!!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Missing in Action vs. Mission in Action

Normally on Monday's I don't do much of anything. I try to reflect, relax, and rejuvenate for the week ahead. Today however, was a little different. My day began a 6:00 at the hospital where I had some tests conducted. Everything looked real good! Worthy is the Lamb!!! As I was waiting, I was reading the headlines of the morning news, and like any other day, it was filled with negativity. I'm no expert, neither have I done any serious investigation on this matter, but it seems to me that the media loves to exploit Black crime and violence!

What troubles me about this is the stance or lack thereof that many churches take on the matter. Instead of being pro active, most of us are reactive. We buy better alarms, stronger bars, and brighter lights, instead of sounding the gospel alarm through biblical preaching, keeping our young black males from behind bars, and being the light of the world that Jesus has called us to be! To quote one of my favorite preachers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, "We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now! This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism"

It seems as though some of us are Missing in Action. I would to God that we could move from this to Mission in Action. Most church goers don't have a problem with attending church meetings or something on the inside, but most do not want to go further than that. When we went out into the community for the 1st time, we only had 6 people show up. It was at that moment that the scripture was made clear to me that said, "The harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few."

What is even more tragic than this is that 80% of the people that we deem failures in life, live in areas where 75% of the black churches are located. We can no longer have a "heaven bound" attitude while the communities that our churches are located in are going to hell. I was involved with a community group that was discussing some of the ills of society. During this meeting, someone brought up that if we were more active in social reform, our communities would be better. I quickly interrupted and quoted the late Dr. Adrian Rogers when he said" All that social reform will do is make the world a better place to go to hell from!"

The answer to the moral decline of our community was, is, and always will be the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Paul said in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

Child of God, let us do all that is in our power to move from Missing in Action to Mission in Action. The words of Christ demand an immediate response from us," Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Are you missing or about mission?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Summary

It was a great day in the Lord at BBC!!! We culminated our Men's and Women's Day celebration on today. This morning we were blessed with Zion songs from our Male Chorus and because our invited guest did not show, I preached our Men's Day Message. Our theme was Psalm 133, "The Beauty of Brotherhood". I thank the Lord for giving me power to preach this much needed message in our church. (I'm usually at least a 3 point preacher) Here's my outline:

1. Beauty of Bonding (1)

A. Bonding brings God's Presence (2)

B. Bonding causes God's Production (3a)

2. Beauty of Blessing

A. Place of Blessing (3b)

B. Permanence of Blessing (3b)

This afternoon the Women of BBC were in charge under the direction of the Minister's Wives.

Our Minister's Wives are (from left to right) Sis. Yvonne Levine (not pictured), Sis. Emma Jean Petty, Sis Staci Jennings, Sis Tracey Buggs (today's speaker), Sis Schalisa Tate, and Lady Nicole Witherspoon. Don't they look pretty in their purple?

We had a glorious time. The tradition at BBC is on Women's Day, the Minister's Wives speak. Sis Buggs was very nervous because she has never spoken in public before, but she did a wonderful job.

This was a great day of celebration at BBC!! I really look forward to this every year and we are anticipating a wonderful time on next year as well!
I am looking forward to this week as I will be preparing my last message of the series entitled, "The Church as Christ sees it" I am anxiously awaiting this preaching opportunity!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Men's / Women's Weekend

I am so excited about this weekend. This is the first year that we are combining Men's and Women's Day. Our Men started off last weekend with a prayer breakfast. Pastor Newbill, pastor of the Progressive Missionary Baptist Church of South Bend, was our guest preacher. He's one of the newest pastors in the city, so I wanted to extend the hand of fellowship to him. Let me tell you, He really preached at BBC! The men that were in attendance were so inspired, that they were leaving talking about next year!!

On tomorrow, we will have our Annual Women's Conference. People from the region really look forward to the Women's Conference and it is usually well attended. We have 2 dynamic presenters on tomorrow. One is our very own, Sis. Arear Minor, who serves BBC as our choir director. She is very spirited and knowledgeable of the Word of God. I can't wait to hear her! Our other presenter is Minister Debra Givens, who is my cousin. She's a member of the Gary Christian Center of Gary, Indiana. She has an awesome testimony! She was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, but now is a powerful Christian woman!

Our celebration will conclude on Sunday, with our Men's Day in the morning and our Women's Day in the afternoon. I am a little uneasy about the morning, because I have been trying to confirm with the preacher I invited but I have been unsuccessful with that. I pray that all is well with him. (I won't post his name, don't want to bust him out!). I have prepared a message based upon our theme in the event that he does not show. I also told our Associate Ministers to be ready. Our speaker for the Women's Day is Sis. Tracey Buggs, who is one of our Minister's Wives as has been the tradition. Pray for us that all goes well and that God gets the glory out of these efforts!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday Wrap up

Wednesday's are usually pretty full for me. I teach 2 Bible Study classes as well as our Sunday School teacher's meeting. I enjoyed teaching the Sunday School lesson entitled "Christ as Messiah" taken from Matthew 16:13-27. In this lesson, Jesus asks the most important question in the entire Bible in verse 15, " But whom say ye that I am?"

The answer to this question must not only be verbalized as Peter did, it must be actualized daily in our Christian walk as well. How we walk, how we talk, how we live, how we give, and how we reach, teach, and preach ought to be centered around who we say that Jesus is as revealed to us by our Heavenly Father.

Peter's response was not based upon his own investigation, but rather by God's illumination. We must always be mindful not to take the credit or glory for the things that God reveals to us. The rest of the lesson was just as exciting to me as the first part.

In our noon day as well as our evening Bible class we finished chapter 5 of Galatians. Paul admonished the Galatian church to be led by the Spirit of God instead of controlled by the flesh. This brought a very interesting discussion at our noon day about what living a "Spirit led" life was really all about. After some discussion, I concluded that a "Spirit led" life is one that is empowered and impacted by the Word of God.

Our willingness to conform our lives to the Word of God, enables the Spirit of God to lead and guide us into all truth and righteousness.

I really enjoy our Bible Study! We always end our class with some humor and today, one of our Associate Ministers, Rev. Aaron Gathright provided the humor, although I believe he was completely unaware of it!

I am asking for your prayers on tomorrow because I have a full day of meetings and I don't know how much time I will have to devote to study.

Burning the Midnight Oil

As always, I stay up extra late the night before Bible Study. I am excited about our study, We are in book of Galatians. We looked at the Personal section which covered chapters 1-2, we looked at the Principles section which covered chapter 3-4, now we began the Practical section of chapter 5 a few weeks ago. We will be looking at the works of the flesh vs. the fruit of the Spirit.

Pray for us as we go through the rest of this study. I really enjoy Paul's teaching on justification by faith and I believe that it is needed because there are some who "hang their hats" on so many other things to be justified in the eyes of God other than faith in Christ (church affiliation, worship style, denomination, etc...).

These "hat hangers" are not definers of salvation, but rather demonstrations of salvation. I am not saved because I am Baptist, but I demonstrate my salvation in a Baptist Church. My prayer for the rest of this study is that we remove all of the "hat hangers" and rely only on our faith In Christ to make us acceptable to God! Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, " Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. "