Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday Summary

I want to start this post off by saying happy holidays to everyone. I pray that your Christmas was well. The family and I went back home to Gary and spent time with family. It was very enjoyable for us.

We had a wonderful day of worship at BBC this Lord's Day. Since the start of the cold weather, attendance at Early Morning Prayer Meeting has been low, but that has not stopped the fervency of the prayer warriors at BBC. This prayer service has done tremendous things for our worship service.

As pastor's most of us have special Sunday's that we look forward to. I do need to say this, every opportunity to stand and proclaim my uncompromising convictions about my Christ is a blessing and a privilege, however there are some Sundays that I especially look forward to because of the occasion. The last and first Sunday's of the year are those for me. So it is needless to say that I approached the preaching moment with great anticipation.

I really wanted to minister to the congregation about the importance of moving from one year into a new one as well as seizing the opportunity to do something great for the Lord. The Lord directed me to the book of Haggai. Haggai was a minor prophet with a major message! He preached to Israel about the importance of re building the temple. The people's initial response was that it was not time. Haggai responded by saying, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. (1:4-6 ESV)".

God linked their lack of comfort and currency to their lack of concern and care for the things of God. I tell our church all of the time that you need material things. After all, you cannot go to the grocery store, fill your cart with items, proceed to the check out line, and then tell the clerk, "Jesus paid it all". However, personal pursuits should not be our primary purpose. Our main focus should be doing what God would have us to do, after all the Scripture says in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

So they begin the work and there are some people left that saw Solomon's temple and did not think that this one was up to par. Comparisons are extremely dangerous for us to engage in as children of God. This is where we get to the text that I preached. I preached from verses 6-9. The message was entitled, "Building God a House" Here's the basic outline:

1. Prophecy

2. Provision

3. Promise

God blessed the exposition and when the invitation was extended, the Lord blessed us with 2 adult candidates for baptism!! Hallelujah! I think this was a great way to end the year. I believe that God was pleased with our offering of public worship on yesterday!

Pray for us at BBC as we go into our annual 3 day fast for restoration and renewal. This is a 72 hour fast where we abstain from all food until the new year. In case I don't post again before Jan. 1 let me say to all, "HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Summary

The only adjective that I can use to describe today is amazing! I am in constant awe of the Majesty and Might of the Master. Our Early Morning Prayer Service was great this morning. The prayer topic was obedience. The people offered up the petitions to God, and we felt a move of His Power! I could tell that God was preparing the hearts of the people to receive the Word of God.

Today we were blessed with songs from the Male Chorus. I tell you, I'm no sexist, but there's just something about the men being up front and active in the service that carries the worship level to different heights. They took us there and the song selection was in line with the message. This had to be a move of God, because none of this was planned out by us. I was ready and looking forward to the preaching moment. I preached the closing message of our series entitled, "Real Worship" from Romans 12:1-2. The messaged was tagged, "Sacrificial Worship". Here's the basic outline:

1. Reason ( I urge you brothers in view of God's mercy)

2. Requirement (Present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy, acceptable unto God.....)

3. Response (You will prove that God's will is good, acceptable, and complete)

God really blessed the exposition of the text! This was a different preaching experience for me, because I usually close like I like to close (you know what I mean), but today I was not led to. Instead I just continued to minister the Word without a tune and it really seemed to touch the hearts of the people today. I thank God for maturity! I remember as a younger preacher, I would have felt like I didn't preach if I didn't "shut it down", but the message is not in the celebration, but the explanation of the Word!!

This afternoon, we traveled to my hometown of Gary, In to visit the Mt Moriah MBC, where my Moderator, Dr. Marion J. Johnson Jr. is the pastor. Today was their celebration of their Deacon's and Trustees. I have been blessed to preach for this occasion since 2001, and it is always a pleasure to preach at Mt. Moriah. The people are very receptive and responsive to preaching.

Under normal circumstances, I don't usually preach themes. Most of the time they are out of context and in no way coincide. However, Dr. Johnson has a track record for selecting preachable themes, so I try to preach them. Today was no different. The theme scripture was 1 Samuel 12:23-25. The theme was, "Men faithfully serving, God's way". Here's the basic outline:

1. Serve personally (23)

2. Serve passionately (24)

3. Serve persistently (25)

God blessed the exposition. I am grateful to God for allowing me to preach His Word. I also thank Him for allowing me to pastor such a wonderful group of people at BBC. I am still so full that I can preach again even though I am physically spent! I believe and pray that God was pleased with the offerings of worship that were presented to Him on today!!

I can't wait for the next preaching opportunity! Until then, I will be in the preparation place. Hopefully Pastor Owens, Pastor McGhee and I will be going to Baker Book House on Tuesday. Baker Book House is quickly becoming my favorite bookstore and since it's only an hour and a half away, I figure we can gas up my hooptie and roll out !!!

Pray for us this week!! God Bless!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Summary

What a day of worship today! The young people of BBC are in charge of Early Morning Prayer for the month of December. Today's prayer was focused on the youth. We had school teachers, counselors and administrators present as we offered up petitions to God on behalf of our young people.

Our attendance was low due to inclement weather. It has been snowing the past 2 days and has been cold. That's life in the Midwest!! I was excited about the preaching moment and could not wait to preach. Pastor McGhee said something about me that I found to be true. I think that I would die, if the Lord told me not to preach anymore. We continued in our series entitled, "Real Worship". I preached a message from Isaiah 6:1-8, entitled "A view from the pew". Here's the basic outline:

1. Confrontation (1-4)

2. Confession (5)

3. Consecration (6-7)

4. Commission (8)

God blessed the exposition and the message was received well!!

At 4:00, we went to Macedonia MBC in South Bend, to celebrate with fellow blogger, Pastor Owens in the Pastor's Aide Annual Day. We were also blessed to have fellow blogger, Pastor Andre A McGhee and the Greater St. John MBC family. I really appreciate the fellowship of these 2 preaching machines. They are my older brothers and I respect them greatly for being a blessing to me. I thank God for their friendship!

The task of preaching fell on me. I was excited because this was the first time I preached at Macedonia in a service. Several years ago, I preached there at a State Convention Board Meeting. The service was really high! GSJ choir was off the hook and BBC was the same!! I preached a message from 2 Corinthians 4:17, entitled, "The Pleasure of Persecution". Here's the basic outline:

1. Your suffering is not serious (For our light affliction)

2. Your suffering wont stay (which is but for a moment)

3. Your suffering causes success (works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory)

God again showed himself faithful and blessed the exposition! I am grateful to Pastor Owens for allowing me to preach in his pulpit! The experience was immeasurable for me! I would write more, but I am beat and I have a batch of cookies that my Pastor's Aide president fixed for me that seem to be calling my name, and I must answer!

All in all, I believe that God was pleased with my offering of worship! Pray for us this week, as we try and tie up the few loose ends for 2008!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday Tidbits

As I was in my morning meditation moment, I came across one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Now, I know saying that I have a favorite story in the Bible might be taboo to some, so let me explain. I love the Word of God in its entirety! I believe that it has God for it's author, salvation for its end, and truth for its content without ANY mixture of error, however there are some stories that have different meaning for some rather than others. For example, a person who is 6'9 cannot relate to the story of Zaccheus in regards to his physical stature like I can.

As I have been preaching through this series on worship at BBC, God has really put a burden in my heart to go after Him more and more. I seek to be in His presence more now than ever before! I often think about what would happen if God withdrew Himself from me. I must conclude like the hymn writer, "If though withdraw thyself from me, O whether shall I go?"

The story begins located in 1 Samuel 2. There is so much preaching in this story! I will try to limit it to a narrative, so that you may derive your own application from it. Eli, the high priest allowed his sons, Hophni and Phinehas to run rampant with the things of God. They were "abhorring the sacrifices" and alluring the servants in the temple.

Eli was warned about the behavior of his sons and talked to them, but to no avail. Finally a "man of God" came to him and pronounced judgment on Eli and the sign of this would be that his two sons would die in the same day!

It came to pass that the Philistine's came to fight with Israel and as my grandmother would say, "they were in the right field to get their hundred". Israel recognizes that the Ark of the Covenant was not there and sent for it (isn't that just like us, it would behove us to seek him out first). The battle went on and Israel was defeated and Hophni and Phinehas were both killed, just as the man of God said, and the Ark of the Covenant was taken away!

A man from the tribe of Benjamin ran from the battle to Shiloh to tell Eli what happened. He told him about his sons, and the Ark being captured. Look at what happens, "As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy" 1 Samuel 4:18 (ESV).

1 Samuel 4:19-22 (ESV) 19 Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, "Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son." But she did not answer or pay attention. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel!" because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."

Both Eli and his daughter in law were greatly distressed over the Ark of God being taken away, so much that it forever changed them, one in death and one with a reminder of what had taken place. Do people today value the presence of God in this manner? How do we feel about cold, lifeless, mundane, and routine worship services, when the one that we are suppose to worship seems to be conspicuously absent?

I don't know about you, but I have to have His presence!! It really doesn't matter what else is taken away, I must have His presence. I am by no stretch saying that the death of loved ones, or some other tragedy will not have a profound affect on me or anyone else, but just imagine if you had to go through those things without the His Presence!

Every time I read this story, I gain a greater sense of gratitude for who God is in my life. In closing, I will quote the songwriter, "Without God, I would be nothing. Without Him, I would fail. Without Him, my life would be rugged. Just like a ship, without a sail!"

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Moments


I pray that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I have finally exited the prayer room, paying my penance for the sin of gluttony over this past weekend. We had wonderful food, fellowship, and family for the holiday. I was not looking forward to Thanksgiving because my Aunt Diana was responsible for most of the cooking at my grandmother's, and with her going to be with the Lord, I thought it would be a sad time for me, but I received moments of joy thinking about her and some of the things she would do during the holidays.

During this season, I am always troubled by the lack of focus on Christ. I've already seen signs that say "Merry Xmas". What is that? We never see X History Month, St. X's Day, 4th of X, X o ween, or have never heard a chorus of "Happy X day to X"!

I have purposed in my heart, especially with my own children, to magnify Christ like never before during this holiday season and from now on. We live in a "Jesus - intolerant" society. Generally speaking, people don't have a problem acknowledging God (or a god), but when it comes to Jesus Christ, people don't want to acknowledge Him. I learned in seminary that if you want to know where anyone is spiritually, just ask them this 3 word question, "Who is Jesus?"

I really did not post today for that reason, but it is what it is. We had a wonderful day of worship at BBC on this past Lord's Day! Attendance was low due to holiday travel and some snow, but the spirit was high.

I did not preach on Sunday. I needed the rest and my voice was really strained. I thought that I was getting the day off until our music director and fellow blogger, Avery Minor started playing the song that I lead. Needless to say, I am more hoarse now than I was previously. One of our Associate Ministers, Rev. Derick Buggs, preached a wonderful message from 1 Cor 9:24=27. I cannot remember the exact title, but it had to do with the Greek word for victory, which is where we get "Nike". He preached a wonderful message and we were encouraged.

I really appreciate all of our Associate Ministers. They are studious and they are very teachable. It is good to have some help when you need it!

Well pray for me this week as I prepare to meet with all of the spiritual leaders on Friday to discuss, what further action steps can be taken to see a continued drop in crime in our community!

I am pleased to report that since the 40 days of fasting and prayer began, there hasn't been one shooting or one homicide!! GOD BE PRAISED!!!!!