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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shared Life Ministry

I just got of the phone with my wife discussing our ministry at the church. She, as well as others, over the past few weeks have been asking about families in our church that have been missing for some time now. One family, I believe, is gone to never return. I have a standard question I ask myself and others when we feel have left out church or considering leaving our church; "Have we done all we can to minister to their needs? Of course the initial response is "Yes, we have." I then respond with another question: "Are you sure?" Then hesitancy sets in.

That's the response I want because I don't believe the initial question can be answered with a yes or no answer with assurance. As a matter of fact, I believe the question requires an examination of yourself to insure that we as individuals have ministered biblically to others. When I got off the phone with her I started thinking about our conversation and then a sermon I preached earlier this year came to mind out of series we preached entitled: Our Practice: The F-I-R-S-T Essentials of FGMBC. It is an exposition of sermons on the five (5) functions of the church (ministry, fellowship, evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, and worship of the found in Acts 2:42-47. Here is the sermon skeleton on MINISTRY:


Topic: Our Commitment to Ministry
Text:
Philippians 2:3-4

Thesis Statement: Ministry is the sharing of one's life with others with no strings attached.


I The MOTIVE of Ministry – v. 3a
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit

Point: A shared life ministry is an unselfish life

II. The MANNER of Ministry – 3b
“…but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Point: A shared life is a humble life.

III. The MISSION of Ministry - 4
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others”.

Point: A shared life is a sacrificial life.

Deep concern for one another's well-being will develop when we share our lives with each other. God be praised for His word.

Revival Day 1

Last night was the first night of our revival, wow. The attendance was great and atmosphere superb for worship. Last night was Ladies Night and both speakers, Rose Neale and Dr. Susie Jones, ministered to the women in attendance both young and old. They did a good job challenging the young women to live a life of purity and they held back no punches. I think I need to be clear about something here, I believe in male headship. However, I don't have a problem with women ministering to women as Titus 2:3-5 instructs even in a worship service.

Before the service, I gave opening greetings and our vision for renovation. All in attendance were excited for our church and expressed how they can't wait for completion. A few years ago, I made our church available to many of LA's gospel artist and pastors for worship services with no set donation amount. Fortunately, God has blessed us financial in many ways by being free with what He gave us to be a blessing to others, praise God!


G.L.A.C.C (Greater Los Angeles Cathedral Choir) has become one of my favorite choirs and we're developing a good relationship. They ministered to my heart last night singing, "He's Able". That was right for our church with us entering into this step of faith. Last year in October they participated in a fundraising concert at our church but the attendance was terrible and they still ministered as if it was a full house. I love them for that. They're CD is awesome! I went to their CD release party and boy did we have church. Great group of young adults.
We didn't get out of church until 10 pm but no one was watching the time except for me, of course. My day starts at 4 am every morning 7 days week, therefore, sleep is a luxury for me.
We continue tonight and my prayer is that God will continue to send a revival and let it begin with me.
A church down the street from us, Living Gospel, is having their fellowship of churches this week and each uses our parking lot. They starting using our parking structure about 3 years ago and from that we've develop a genuine fellowship. I usually attend one of the nights but cannot this week because of our revival. Some of the members were a little disappointment because last year I preached one night and thought I would be preaching again this year. That was cool.
Please keep our week of revival in your prayers.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

DID YOU FEEL THAT?

Yesterday, I went to El Pollo Loco for lunch and when we got there a man was standing at the door with panic in his voice: "Did you feel that?" I'm looking at him with a puzzled face; "Feel, what?" "The earthquake!" He shouts. At that point the earth was moving in a wavey like motion and sure enough it was a 5.4 earthquake. For the next few moments the man was standing guard at the door and explains we should go into the middle of the parking lot so we don't get hurt by aftershocks. My response; "You go to the middle of the parking lot but I'm going into El Pollo Loco to get something to eat. If die today at least I'll go to heaven with a full stomach". That response broke the tension and I dined deliciously.

We did experience an earthquake but it wasn't that bad. In addition, I don't believe anyone has ever felt an earthquake like Paul and Silas in Acts 16.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Details! Details! Details!

We're gathering all the necessary information to acquire our loan and we're starting to work out the details during the renovating process. We're gutting our sanctuary down to nothing so we have to start planning worship sites for our Sunday morning worship and Wednesday night (Walking Through the Word Bible Study). We have a small building on our lot that we rent to an Hispanic church and will more than likely combine our worship services together. We will have service on the parking lot. Our current sound system is outdated but can be used for services outside. And, I have an idea to expose our church to other Sunday morning worship styles. So, I'm thinking of taken our entire church 1 Sunday out of the month (in September, October, and Novemeber) to my home church Mt. Sinai - Pastor HB Charles, Full Gospel - Pastor Reginald Payne, and Mt Pilgrim - Pastor Richard Sanders. I admire all three of these guys and their worship services. The good thing about it is none of the worship styles are the same.

Other details to be worked out:

- Storage space for organ, drums, piano (3), office furniture, etc.
- Contractor negotiations
- Setup of our churches non-profit status
- Setup of our CDC/EDC non-profit organizations through The Good Life Community Center
- Stage Design
- Sound System Requirements (We're designing our sanctuary to be recording/theatre production ready)
- Sanctuary Color Scheme
- Sanctuary Lighting
- Sign Change

When construction is completed, it is my goal to bring to town one of my favorite preachers, Pastor E. Dewey Smith of Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church for a three (3) night revival (Wed, Thurs, and Fri) in late January and that Sunday have my pastor HB Charles preach our sanctuary dedication service. On Saturday (or even possibly on a Monday), a friend and I are planning to have an old fashion quartet concert with some of gospels greatest groups. Not sure who yet, need to check budget first.

This is about all I can think of now but I'm sure the list will grow within the next month or so. Please keep us in your prayers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

What Happened to Our Membership?!

Yesterday was a good day for us, the Lord blessed our service in a great way! We celebrated our Men and Women in our morning worship service. I wanted to do something different this year and rather than having our service in the afternoon we attempted to celebrate during our morning worship. I made a few calls and it seemed like everyones interest was to participate but I didn't any confirmation calls so I called my nephew Louis and he preached:

Text: Romans 4:21 - "fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised".
Topic: "What Are You Convinced Of?"

The message was a blessing as he re-told the story of God's promise to Abraham and Sarah to have have son beyond their years of child-bearing. He did an outstanding job!
________________________________________________

I was in the office last week re-arranging my office and stumble across some photos of church events and members. I got discouraged because when I started my pastorate in 2002, we had great momentum. People were visiting, the church was growing, and within the last 1-1/2 years our membership starting decreasing drastically. So I started reflecting on what happened:

- 2 members passed away
- 1 family moved out state
- 1 family of about 12 just left and only comes on special days
- balance of membership - can't tell

The earlier part of this year was very challenging for our membership. In January of this, we began to seriously consider renovating our church by taking out a loan. It was my goal to use this project as a means to build unity where we can all come together and work together with a common goal, "To glorify God through beautifying our sanctuary". Amazingly that did not happen! Our first Restore the Land Project meeting was very good, until I laid out the proposal (which posted on our website @ http://www.fgmbc.org/restore_the_land_project_) that detailed work to be done, timeline, reasons, etc. The membership voted unanimously to move forward with the plans. Then, we needed to vote on signers for the loan and that's when it went south. One of my leaders who is a long standing member of the church and a prominent leader in our church went ballistic in the meeting. I shared in the meeting that I wanted the loan balance to re-pay itself to minimize our exposure to the high interest rate for at least five (5) years but within the next six (6) months each member should pray about a monthly payment amount. Contributions through members and fundraisers would go directly to principle balance reducing our principle loan amount to achieve a speedy payoff. He thought it was a bad idea and we should consider selling our building instead. Needless to say, this meeting was approx. 4 hours long. Relocating was out of the question for us. We would incur a higher debt because we wouldn't be able to sell the building for what it's worth with all the hazards in our church. I tabled the meeting to another time becuase tempers started rising and we had an afternoon service that day.

Unfortunately, a number of events took place between March and May that has turned our church upside down. Every meeting was painful, literally! Not only that but we lost some good members in the process of which I could not stop. This year the term of BOD ended and we needed to elect a new BOD. I, personally, did not think it was that important because our members had dwindled so that I wanted to focus on keeping unity in our church. I saw it coming and to be honest I did not know how to stop it from happening without creating additional conflict. People were being nominated for leadership positions without in any input from me as pastor.

The whole month of April, people were jocking for position as BOD member. People were talking to each other more the month of APril than I've seen in 6 years as pastor. They came to church on time was very vocal about everything when in time past they never said a word about anything. Now, that they didn't get elected as a BOD member, I have not seen them over 4 weeks. In this entire process, I had a family who lost everything in 1 year (job, house, car, and marriage). I'm fighting with our BOD over election while trying to hold the faith of this family in Christ. Unfortunately, I lost this family due to the turmoil within our church. I started praying for direction, should I stay or should I go? I'm still pastoring the church. I preached a sermon out of Jeremiah 20: 7-9 - "Don't Quit" during this time that I believe was preached through me to me. The point of the message is "Qutting is an easy thing to do but hanging in there is what God wants us to do."

Election day came (I hate this terminology) to vote for a new BOD and God worked a miracle. We have a new leadership team something I should thank God for and I do. But, I have mixed feelings about it and my heart has been broken because we lost members in the process and I have people in our church who's been hurt as well. We're working our way through it but man it's hard!

I'm taking the next couple of weeks off to spend time in prayer. There's going to be a lot going in this final QTR of 2008 for us with preparation for construction to start September 1st and won't be completed until January 2009. But while this is going on, I still have minister to the broken people every day with ministry of His Word. Please keep us in your prayers as we strive to keep the unity of faith in a bond of peace.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Get Connected!



I have a 1975 Chevy Monte Carlo which I love dearly. I love driving classic cars but some months ago I started having problems. I was driving into work one morning and stopped at my favorite donut shop for coffee. When I got back into my car it wouldn't start and after a couple of tries I noticed smoke coming from the engine. I popped the hood and there was a small fire. At this point I'm in a panic! I run to the donut shop for a small cup of water, went back to the car and dashed the water onto the small fire. Then it dawned on me; "Stupid, water, oil, and fire don't mix well!" but it was too late. Thank God, the fire didn't get to much worse. I called my wife, told her what happened and called a tow truck to tow me to a gas station down the street from my workplace for repair.

Later that day, I went to check one progress of repairs as well as cost but unusually my car was ready for pick up. The mechanic told me that the solenoid to the starter was loose and was shooting high voltage to the engine and with the oil leak present it caused the fire. So they changed the starter (that's what he told me) and all was well, so I thought.

About a week later, I went to my car to go home early but my car wouldn't start. Amazing! I just spent $90 on repair work. So I went back to the mechanic and told him what was happening and he says; "It's your battery." He gave me a portable battery charger to jump start the car. I went back to my car, hooked the battery charger to the battery and what do you know my car did not start. By this time I'm furious. I just spent $90 a week earlier and my car still doesn't work. I go back to the mechanic and tell him; "Man, my car still doesn't start!" He says something to me that literally tempted me to speak in known tongues (yes, I wanted to cuss and he would have understood everything I said to him), he says; "It's your starter!" I reminded him that he just changed my starter one week earlier so it couldn't be my starter. He says; "I didn't change your starter, I changed the wires to your starter." I'm not that bright but it doesn't seem very smart to put new wires onto a bad starter.

I proceeded to leave to keep from having a prison ministry and he follows me out of the shop. I turn around and asked him politely to give me 5 feet. He says, "What do you mean?" I explained, "Take five steps back and let me leave." I get to my car and suddenly it starts. I needed to go to the bank to care of some business only to get back into the car and it wouldn't start again. I got out a wrench, tapped the starter and the car started and I went home.

I purchased a new starter and took it to a mechanic down the street from the church and all was well, so I thought. About a month later, my car wouldn't start, again! This time I decided to change it myself. When pulled off the starter, I noticed the solenoid was damaged because the mechanic down the street from the church did not remove a bar and jammed teh starter into place. I went back to AutoZone to exchange starter for a new one. I put the starter back on, hooked battery cables, turned the ignition, response no start. But after a couple of tries it finally started.

Over the next couple of weeks, I changed the battery because my car wouldn't start, again! After a new battery, a month later the car wouldn't start again. My brother, who is mechanic kept telling me over and over and over again that there is a bad connection somewhere but I know I connected everything back correctly. I opened the hood to unhook my batteries cables again to check my starter connections only to notice that my negative battery cable wasn't grounded properly because the mechanic down the street from my job did not hook the negative battery cable properly when they fixed my oil leak a few months earlier at $400. I purchased a new nut to ground the negative battery cable properly, problem solved.

After spending about $600, there was one problem that could have saved me about $150 and that was I needed the right connection to the battery. Of course, sermon bells started ringing because many of us in life experience trials, hardships, problems, struggles, and power failures because we don't have the right connection to the right power source, God.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, Paul is struggling with God because he has a problem with a thorn in his flesh that God would not remove. After crying out to God to remove the thorn, God finally responds and says; "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Today, if you are reading this simple illustration and you're not connected to God, let me say: "Get Connected." Life's struggles don't stop but you can handle them a whole lot better when you're connected to the right power source.

Stay encouraged!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Process Begins

Myself and some of our leaders met last night to discuss loan process and requirements. We met earlier this year but things were delayed due to some in-house challenges that needed to be handled before moving forward. Curtis, who is our newest member (1-1/2 years) and on my finance team is a certified accountant by trade asked questions that I never thought to ask for our understanding. Thank God for sending his to our church. After our discussion, loan agents left the room and we discussed everyone's comfort level with moving forward and we decided to do so. This renovation project is a total necessity from years of a band-aide repair approach that now nothing can be repaired any longer it must be fixed correctly. We have no choice!

We're getting our loan from Loan Pacificworks, a mortgage lending company that has dedicated 30 years to assisting churches achieve their goals through private investors. One of the problems with our church is that we're a small group of people and many banks turned us down because of insufficient financials and while our church is some 60 years old, we have no established credit. The loan itself is a interest only loan and this company sets loan payment amount based on our churches budget and payment difference is placed in an interest reserved account. Our plan is to allow the balance of the loan, when construction is completed, to re-pay itself minimizing our exposure to high interest rate and contributions from our members will go directly to principle balance. Our prayer is that by 2014 half of our loan will be paid off and then re-finance with another bank to reduce interest with a 30 year fixed term reducing our monthly payments. Then, our goal is that by 2020 loan amount of $500,000 will be paid off.

The preliminary qualification application was completed yesterday to get the ball rolling and our hope is to start construction Sept 1st. In the meantime, we're going to start the process of negotiations with perspective contractors to work out a good deal. My main concern is make sure we get everything done with reserve at the end to repay loan and have some operating capitol for our ministry efforts.

This has been a huge load off my shoulders in a sense that progress is finally being made. We've had so many in-house obstacles that I almost said forget it. But the necessity is there for us to renovate our church so that it is a safe comfortable environment to minister effectively God's word and to God's people.

I pray that God will bless our leap of faith in this effort to present the best we have to offer to Him. Please keep us in your prayers!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Starting to Rebuild!

Tomorrow, myself and some of our leaders will meet with a banker to start the loan process for rennovating our church. This has been a long time coming! There has been a lot of hesitancy with the process moreso with me than with our members. Actually, they've been asking when are we going to get started? What's going on? Why is it taking so long? I'm the one taking long, seeking out godly counsel from others I know who's gone through this process.

Our plan for renovation is to complete project with some financial reserve to cover our monthly note for at least 5 years and provide some finances to operate effectively in ministry. I tell the church all the time, our goals cost but effective ministry really cost, financially. However, every quote that has been submitted exceeds our plan for financial reserve and that makes me nervous. But, we're proceeding with the loan at a set amount and my negotiating skills will be put to the test with contractors, electricians, etc. I've saved my current employer millions of dollars in negotiating deals but this process is much more precious to me so I'm really careful about how I approach it. Nevertheless, I believe God will provide!

A friend of mine, Lamont Bradley, who owns and operates Lord Before Us Productions http://www.lordbeforeus.com/ is sponsoring a summer revival with a two-fold purpose, spiritual and financial support. I'm a little nervous about it only because I've never done or participated in a revival as a fundraiser. He called last year and said he wanted to help us in our endeavor to renovate our church by sponsoring a revival for our church. What an act of kindness and I appreciate it! I'm praying that a spiritual renewal breaks out in our church from this revival more than anything. I said yes and he started working on it. Some of our cities best speakers and singers will be in attendance and I'm looking forward to it.

The revival starts July 30th to Aug. 1st. Here's the line-up:

Wed, Juy 30th - Ladies Night: Speakers: Dr. Susie Jones and Lady Rose Neale - Music provided by G.L.A.C.C - Greater Los Angeles Cathedral Choir, Shari Demby, and Carmen & The Crew.

Thurs, July 31st - Men of Valor: Speakers: Pastor Theo Wilkins and Dr. Charles D Williams - Music provided by Jason Anderson and Errol Gillett and Zyon

Fri, Aug 1st - Youth Night: Speaker: Min. DeSean Horne of Las Vegas, Nevada - Music provided by Kadmile Siler, LA Inner City MAss Choir, and LA Youth Choir of GMWA

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This project has consumed much of my thought process. So much so that I've dropped the ball with our Men's and Women's Day Service this Sunday waiting until the last minute to find participants. I'm not even pushing for my Pastor's Anniversary this year because I want us to focus our attention towards renovating and some in-house spiritual cleanup. Plus, if we start construction in September it will continue until January 2009 eliminating our location to have the service. I'm not too keen on asking others for use of building. So, I told the members whatever they wanted to do, if anything, would be fine with me.

Please be praying for our church this is a huge step of faith. But nothing is too hard for God!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Transparent Christian

I play basketball every now and then at one of the local churches in the city that owns and operates a school. A few weeks ago, I had an unusual experience while at the gym. The pastor of the church and founder of the school stopped our a play for an impromptu discussion. He starts with the usual statement; "We need to talk, none of you guys pay to play basketball in this gym." We hear this at least 2 to 3 times a month but when you try offer him a little money he gets offended because it's not $20 or more (another subject for another time). He starts to explain the age of his congregation and says; "My congregation is 75+ years old and it would do their hearts good to see some young adults visit our church". He explains to us the various ministries the church has to offer to meet the needs of all ages. This was clearly an invitation for the men playing basketball to visit the church and be led to Christ. Good idea! Many of the guys do not attend church and is more than likely not saved.

However, I had one problem with the invitation. While giving this invitation the pastor cussing up a storm and with every reference to God there was shortly thereafter a cuss word. Then he laid the bomb on us; "I'm the most transparent pastor you will ever meet. Just because I cuss and fight (yes, he'll fight you in a heart-beat) doesn't mean I'm not going to heaven!". It was very clear in his statements that he believes he could pretty much do whatever he wants, stand up to preach every week and make it into heaven without any spiritual changes to his lifestyle. Trust me, I'm not one to judge anyone because I have my personal struggles too. However, when does being transparent cross the line of holy living? Is there a line to cross? Do we use this idea of transparent living as a way to do what we want when want?

As Christians, we're commanded to live a life of holiness before God and as a pastor, we're called to live a higher standard of holy living as an example for others to follow. It's good to be real and honest about our struggles as Christians but there should be some evidence of a lifestyle change that will lead others to Christ.

When I left the gym that day, I started reflecting on my own life. Needless to say, I had to repent. There is a famous Christian saying that says; "Our lives maybe the only bible people will read". And the truth of the matter is our lives maybe the only bible people may read. It's important that we guard our hearts, minds, and conversations to insure that we don't bring shame on the name of God as Christians because we want to be transparent.

May God continue to challenge us through real life situations that will cause every believer to personally reflect on how we live before an unsaved world.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

He's a Teenager Now!

My Son, Myles turned 14 years old this week and asked if he could have a party! My wife and I said yes until we realized he wanted a party starting at 8 pm until 12 am on Saturday night. The problem is I'm usually sleep by 9:30 pm period no matter what the day of the week maybe and I use evens as my time to prepare for Sunday morning service. With apprehension, I consented and the planning began.

I sat on my couch in the family room and watch these teenagers party. Soooooooooo funny! They ate, played football, talked loud, and did their teenage flirt thing by chasing the girls in the backyard. My grandson at 2 years old did more dancing than they did before crashing on the couch.

As I watched, my mind went back to my teenage years and all I could say is thank God, I made it. I'm watching my children grow up by before my eyes, amazing. It won't be long before they'll be off to college.

Please pray for my teenagers, Aysia and Myles, that they will not fall under the pressure of the world. I'm glad they're saved and did not act in a manner that would bring shame on God. If anything, they held things down and told their friends what was appropriate and not at our house. Praise God!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

You Can Make It!

Yesterday, I funeralized 2 young ladies who are family members of mine. The lost was a tragedy that no one saw coming. The family came together for the 4th of July weekend for a impromptu family reunion. One of my cousins came from Texas with her mother and step-father. My other cousin lived in Compton, Ca. On July 6th, 2008, my 2 cousins along with 2 gentlemen decided to go to Roscoes Chicken and Waffles @ approx. 2 am in the morning. Witnesses explained that they saw the car swerve to the left going west on the 10 Fwy and hit the center divider. From the crash, the car was engulfed in flames and all 4 young people were killed. This tragedy is difficult for my family to comprehend. They have many "why" questions that no answer could satisfy because many of them do not have a personal relationship with God.

I was asked to perform the service on yesterday but did not know actually what to say. I visited with them a few days last week to help them put the service together but did not want to ask too many questions because the grief was so great in house and I didn't want to ignite additional bereavement.

I woke up yesterday morning not knowing what I was going to say. When I got to the mortuary, I still had no clue what I was going to preach. The mortuary chapel was packed with young people and it was standing room only as we memorialized both young ladies. I sat in the midst of the service while conducting the service with one prayer in mind; "Lord, help me say something to encourage my family and all these young people who don't understand Your will in the midst of trageday."

Right before the message, a praise team sung Mary, Mary's hit gospel song "Yesterday" and the Lord placed Philippians 4:13 on my heart. I didn't have a title for the message, I just started minstering and this is the message skeleton he gave me:

Point of the message: Tragedies of life can do one of two things, it can pull you closer to God or cause you to fall apart. But with God on your side YOU CAN MAKE IT!

The text offers three powerful convictions to help you make it even whenlife deals you a bad hand.

1. There's Confident Living In the midst of Tragedy - "I Can"

2. There's Capable Living In the midst of Tragedy - "I can do all things through Christ"

3. There's Continous Living In the midst of Tragedy - "I can do all things though Christ who gives me strength."

As I settled down, God gave me strength to preach and before long, I tuned up. The people were very receptive to the message and many young people at the end of the service said; "Pastor, I believe, I'm going to make it". And then the question came, "Do you have a business card with your church information on it?" We all know the answer to that question, "NO!"

I know a seed was planted but I hope I didn't miss an opportunity to lead them Christ and His church because I didn't have a business card for a possible follow-up opportunity.

I thank God for using me to minister to my family. Yesterday, was their first time hearing me preach and I've had to fight off my ego because of all the compliments. All credit goes to God!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Black Liberation Theology Response

I've pondered how to respond to the interview by James Cone in regards to his philosophy of "Black Liberation Theology". There is a verse that keeps coming to mind even moreso now than ever before; "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron." - 1 Timothy 4:1-2. After listening and reading about black liberation theology, I've come to the conclusion that we're missing the whole point of being a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.


Allow me give to some context about black liberation theology, what is this theology? James Cone, the primary architect of B.L.T and a protestant minister, grew up in Arkansas under the heavy hand of segregation. He observed first-hand the way white Christians treated blacks even after desegregation was ordered by the federal government. The Christian message of peace and brotherly love contrasted sharply with Christians' bigoted behavior, and this left a lasting mark on Cone's thinking. James Cone writes a book entitled; "Black Theology and Black Power" (The title itself gives us an idea of where this guy is going) says; "A moral or theological appeal based on white definition of morality or theology will serve as a detriment to our attainment of black freedom. The only option we blacks have is to fight in every way possible, so that we can create a definition of freedom based on our own history and culture. We must not expect white people to give us freedom. Freedom is not a gift, but a responsibility, and thus must be taken against the will of those who hold us in bondage".


This thought process is alarming and it's becoming more alarming when some of our noteable pastors take on such theology like Pastor Jeremiah Wright and Pastor Freddy Haynes of Friendship West Baptist Church along with many others. But my question is does B.L.T help the church or harm the church? Is B.L.T a black radical movement like the 60's Black Panther's movement? Are we saying that Christianity needs more than the bible to shape a theological perspective about what being a Christian is all about? Are we has black people really free? These questions and many others raises concerns about this theology and if you are not rooted in the word of God you will fall for a theology that leads to destruction.


I heard Pastor Reginald Terry a sermon years ago at my home church, Mt Sinai on Psalms 100. In his sermon, he makes a statement by way of an illustration that has stuck with me up until this point. He tells the story of a women who stands up in church testify during they're testimony period. She starts out with the usual introduction for testimony service; "Given honor to the pastor, members, and friends. I thank God that I'm saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost". She then says; Church, I don't want the devil behind me, I want him in front of me so I can see what he's doing". From that statement the church went into and uproar. Pastor Terry says; "I'm not the smartest guy but if the devil is in front of you don't that mean you're following him?" He explains that everything that sounds good is not necessarily good for you!


I declare, B.L.T sounds good but not good for you. Here's why:


- Bible vs. Philosophy - One of my favorite verses in scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16-17; "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work". The philosophy of B.L.T denounces some central truths of Scripture. For instances, The Word of God has being infallible. According to Cone, he believes that the Word of God is fallible because it was written by men. He believes the Word has errors and cannot be taken as an absolute for the Christian faith. My friend, how wrong you are! The Word of God is infallible and inerrant and lasting. 1 Peter 1:22-25 says; "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because all flesh is as grass, and all the flory of man as the flower of the grass, the grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which be the Gospel was preached to you". Give me the Word of God over a man's philosophy. It's the word of God that changes a man's heart and provides hope to dying world of freedom to come when we will spend eternity with God regardless of your race. The bible has no mistakes my friend. You can trust the Word.



- Freedom vs Oppression - Dr. Cone says he reads the Bible through the lenses of the poor. One of the things that gets under my skin on Sunday nights is when I turn on BET during the inspiration hours and watch many of these faith healers performing miracles on sick oppressed people. The problem I have with this is that if you pay close attention to the audience majority of them are black people. This seems to suggest that black people are the only ones with money and health problems (and we know that's not true). I thank God that first, Christ has made of free through His redemptive work on the cross. And, I thank God that our black leaders (great-grandparents, grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, etc) has made it possible for us to enjoy many advantages today because of their struggles yesterday. Why look for 40 acres and mule when we as children of God are rich in God. People experience financial hardships because of the recession that we're currently in now but also because of financial mismanagement. This is not a racial struggle it's a personal struggle because of our choices. Rev. Milton Bronson and the Thompson Community Singers had a strong years ago that said; "I'm free praise the Lord, I'm free. No longer bond, no more chains holding me".


- Crucifixion vs Lynching - Dr. Cone compares the death of Christ with the lynching of slaves. Big mistake! The lynching of slaves in the early 1800s was racially motivated. The Cross was purpose driven. There is no comparison. There is one statement that he makes that I can agree with; "The crucifixion was violent". Yes it was. 1 Peter 2 verse 24 says; "He, Himself, bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed". Jesus suffered a painful, horrible, violent death so we won't have too.


- Black People vs White People - It appears that B.L.T is racially charged and using Christianity to accomplish it's agenda. Now, has a boy who grew up in Texas, I experienced first-hand racism at it's highest tension. I've had to run home a many days because of being chased by young KKK followers. I was (along with my basketball team mates) escorted into certain white neighborhoods for games by the police and I can give so many more stories of experiencing racism. However, those experiences does not, has not, and will not shape my opinion of another race, specifically towards white people. The debate as to color of Jesus skin is a none issue. It wasn't is skin that saved me, it was His blood.

Honestly, this is not a theology I want to obtain as a Christian. It's not my blackness that shapes my Christianity, it's Christianity that shapes my person regardless of my race.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thank God for a computer

Thank God, I have a computer! For the past few months I've been operating without a computer because of viruses and using my company's computer. Lord, forgive me! Now I'm operating again! Thank God.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Black Liberation Theology

Over the recent months, I've been hearing, reading, and watching much about "Black Liberation Theology" that has sparked some research for my own understanding. Let me very clear, I don't want to join the movement at all! I'm trying to figure out what has sparked such a movement that has gained national attention on all levels of beliefs and I believe it's doing more harm than good for the Christian faith no matter what race you are. I've posted an interview from Dr. James Cone who started the movement for your viewing to see what you think. I'll post my belief by the end of the week.

"All Scripture is inspire by God..." - 1 Timothy 3:16-17

Understanding Black Liberation Theology

Jesus on Servant Leadership


I subscribe to a ministry division newsletter for bi-vocational pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention. This week's newsletter is entitled; "Who Runs The Church" with suggested reading by C Gene Wilkes. I have the book and it's excellent for servant leadership development. Here is a snippet of the newsletter article:
Depending on the circumstances and the people involved, you can find yourself facing forced termination. You can help to avoid this by heeding the following understandings and suggestions.

Understanding #1: Satan always tries to use power and control issues as a temptation to cause the church to lose focus and/or effectiveness on its real mission.

Understanding #2: God is supposed to “run” the church and not man. God established the church and sent Christ to establish the church through His blood and serve as the head of His church. No individual, not even the pastor, nor groups of individuals should seek to run the church.

Understanding #3: Individuals and groups within the church are granted great leadership authority and trust by the church because of their faithful service over the years. You will do well, if possible, to find ways to work with them instead of competing with them.

Understanding #4: In the typical Southern Baptist Church (my insert, or any church), the pastor is granted the privilege of temporary leadership because of his position. This does not mean the church as a whole will either completely trust or follow him. During this time he has to earn the right of leadership. Even if he earns this, however, it does not mean that the congregation will cease to seek the guidance of other trusted leaders in the congregation.

Understanding #5: Decisions within the church are best made through prayerful consideration as the church seeks God’s leadership and not through dependence on mankind’s wisdom, preferences, or opinions.

Suggestions to neutralize power and control issues

1. Serve as a servant leader.The book, Jesus on Leadership by C. Gene Wilkes, will help you understand what this means. Practicing servant leadership will help you to resist the satanic temptation to let your ego rule you when power and control issues occur.

2. Learn to share ministry with volunteer leaders in the church. Rather than going head to head with power groups within the church, seek ways to utilize their knowledge and influence for the good of the church’s mission. This means that you have to spend time getting to know and earn the trust of these individuals. You will need to let God’s Holy Spirit give you the patience that this requires.

3. Focus on what God can do through the church and not on building your own reputation or resume. Don’t try to pastor your next church while pastoring your current one. “Pick your battles.” Don’t let your ego drive you to have to have your own way or be the authority in everything.

4. Accept the fact that some people will always resist your attempts at leadership and you will have to deal with them in love.This does not mean giving in to them all the time but finding ways to disagree on a Christian level.

5. Pray unceasingly for God’s guidance and power.
How many of us (pastors) have made the mistake of abusing our role in the church as a position of power rather than a position of servanthood. What a reminder!Get the book @ www.fgmbc.org/bookstore

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Restore the Land - Why Remodel?

Our church is in the midst of considering a much needed remodeling project. We started our discussion 4 years ago and recently really started considering it after our 2007-2008 rainy season that cause additional water damage and electrical problems. In our 2008 Church Conference, we spent a large amount of time discussing plans, building needs, loan options, and loan re-payment options to reach our goal to glorify God by beautifying our sanctuary. Going into this project, I must admit, I had no clue what I was doing outside of praying and asking God for guidance. Yes, my current career in purchasing has opened many doors and provided knowledge with dealing with constructors, bankers, etc. However, this project is not like the work place. To fail is to fail God in my opinion and that's something I don't won't to do.

This step of faith to remodel our church is totally out of necessity. Many of our members recognize the need to permanently repair and upgrade our sanctuary while others are somewhat apprehensive because of the size of our congregation and required loan amount to get work done. And truth is, it's scary taking out a huge loan amount that we need to totally complete the project never to use the band-aide approach to repairs again.

While thinking about our project, I thought it to be a good idea to use the blog as a journal through every step of the process. To hopefully gain in put from others but also to provide help to someone else. I want to do this in Q & A format.

The first question, what is our motivation for remodeling? I thought about this question alot over the past few months just to make sure my motives are pure and not polluted with selfishness, jealousy, competition, envy, pride, or anything that will not bring glory to the name of God. I had to pray and continue to pray that our motives is not to gain more members. Let me be clear, I desire to see our church grow numerically just as any other person but remodeling our church can't be the primary reason only God can bring increase in His own time. So, why remodel? Good Stewardship!

We considered selling and re-locating but after talking to other pastors in our city, my family, friends, and members of the church, they thought I would be crazy to sell a building that's paid off and porentially move into a smaller building. We have the space to grow. Parking is not an issue. Educational room is not a problem. Growing potential is not a problem. Currently, we seat comfortably 400-500 people with pews. After remodeling with individual chairs, we'll be able seat 600-700 people with additional room upstairs for another 25-50 seats). The potential where we are is too great to give up. Scripture is clear; "To whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48)". I have come to a clear understand as to why remodeling is vital to the spiritual, numerical, and emotional growth of our church, GOOD STEWARDSHIP!. God has placed property in the care of First Goodwill to manage what He already owns. And while we're saying; "Lord, send more members." He saying, "First, take care of what I've already given to you." A story that haunts me regarding bad stewarship is the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-31. It's the servant who has one talent (money, gift, and/or building) that did not take a risk for God but played it safe. When the master (God) came back, the servant made many excuses has to why he did not manage the one talent well. The master took his talent and sent the servant to hell for being lazy, a Poor Steward. The point to this passage of scripture is that God will hold us accountable for what He gives us to manage. WOW! If for no other reason, GOOD STEWARDSHIP is really good reason for us to consider this project and/or any other project. Over years, as in many churches, we've taken the easiest path of travel related to the up-keep and maintenance of the church. There has been no upgrades to anything in the church. It's time for a change for the better.

Good stewardship is the spiritual reason but good health is the practical reason. As a pastor, I'm not only concerned about the spiritual well-being of our members but I'm also concerned about the physical well-being of our members. I believe that a good, clean, healthy environment provides a positive setting to worship God. Worship is an individual act. However, I also believe that our individual worship will be encouraged when we come to a place that is clean, free of hazardous breathing materials, and able to hear the preacher when he's preaching. I say this a lot about the quality of any service,"It's bad when people have better sound systems in their cars than we do in the church." We have some building materials in our church, due to it's construction in 1960 that has never been replaced, just covered up with carpet. It's time now to clear ourselves of this hazardous chemical. There is water damage from 10-15 years ago that has not been repaired. For healthy practical reasons we need to remodel.

I don't want anyone reading this on-line journal to think that I'm putting down the leaders who came before me. I praise God for their work and efforts and how God used them to build the kingdom of God. And I understand, they did the best they could with what was available to them at the time. But today, we have entirely too many opportunities available to us along with God's help to aide us in this endeavor.

Next week, I want to discuss, "How to get people on board with any project?" Please keep us in prayer through this process.