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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Click to play video! From me to you! Have a great holiday and be safe!

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Monday, November 23, 2009

My Experience in Psalms 23

Yesterday we concluded our study of Psalms 23 with verse 6 – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house the Lord forever”. Here’s the sermon skeleton:

Topic: I’m Living This Life To Live Again
Text: Psalms 23:6

Thesis Statement: I’m living this life just to live again!

Let’s look at the three (3) key components of living now just to live again:

I. The Certainty in this Life to Live Again – “Surely…”

A. The Certainty in this life is that God Is God
B. The Certainty in this life is that things will change – Psalms 30:1-11
C. The Certainty in this life is a reason to celebrate – Psalms 30:12

II. The Qualities of this Life to Live Again – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my Life”

A. The Power of Goodness and Mercy – Goodness provides our daily needs and mercy pardons our sins
B. The Person of Goodness and Mercy – God looks out for our best interest
C. The People of Goodness and Mercy – What kind of legacy will you live behind?

III. The Perspective in this Life to Live Again – “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.

A. The Commitment to Live Again - Remember, this is not God speaking has a promise but David speaking with a perspective that this world is not his home.

B. The Security of Living Again - We will never want for anything throughout eternity.

Preaching through this Psalms was enriching, challenging. Inspiring, wonderful, and a great study for me personally.

Throughout my study of this Psalms, I tried my best to look at the scripture with fresh eyes by ignoring all sermons, illustrations, Sunday school lessons, and some advice of others to really discover what this Psalms means to me. For the most part I think did a decent job. And I have grown as personally in my relationship with God and as a preacher in hanging in there when my study got tough.

There is one thing I have learned from this Psalms is that it’s more than a funeral Psalms. Often times, this Psalms is used to comfort a bereaving family during a funeral service. Even when researching for additional material most of the material found focused much of it’s attention on verse 4: Yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil. For You are with me. You rod and staff they comfort me. Many of my commentaries explain in detail verse 4 but verse 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 are explained in brief. This made it a little difficult to validate my interpretation of the text was accurate. Thank God for studying grace…

This Psalms does not just speak to us in dying times but it speaks to all of life’s realities with the ultimate purpose of leading the reader into a deeper and intimate relationship with God. Here’s what I mean, this Psalms to speaks to the reality of life that says:

- Life gets hard sometimes: While this Psalms is filled confident assurance that God will take care of us. It does not promise that us that we will not experience hard times. The opening verses says: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” What’s on the other side of satisfaction – discontentment, frustration, unhappiness, and disappointment.

What’s on the other side of peaceful rest – chaos, pandemonium, confusion, and

David speaks in confident assurance that God is provider and protector. However, life has a way putting us on our backs when we are lacking the basic necessities to survive in daily living. When we don’t have any peace at night from the nightmares of a hard day of trying to make it from day to day. When we experience poverty, bad health, placed in dangerous situations, and loose our joy. The reality of life is that life is hard. People are dying due to senseless violence because of the color of their skin or where they live or the color of their clothes. Life is hard. When health care cost is rising, job loss increasing, unemployment benefits are no longer beneficial, suicide statistics plummeting in percentages unknown in our life time. Our savings account is no longer a savings but needed funds to survive from day to day. Life is hard sometimes when you don’t know how bills are going to get paid and where your next meal is coming from.

But in the midst of the harsh reality of life, this Psalms comforts us. It does not say we won’t experience the hardship but reading this Psalms does help us to make it during life’s harsh realities.

- Life is fill with dangers, seen and unseen: Verse 4 says; “Yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and staff they comfort me”. May I suggest that living life seems to become more and more dangerous every day? I was watching a video post the other day of man posing as a robber with a stocking over his face. He would walk into a store or restaurant to get the reactions of customers and workers in the facility. Each place he went people ran for cover, others fell to the ground and rolled under desk, counters, or whatever they could find for safety. Others started pleading their case to live longer and to not be hurt. Ask I watch this video clipping, of course, my first reaction was to laugh because it was funny seeing people’s reaction. But, then I began to think that while I’m laughing at what is to be a practical joke the reality is that people are scared to death now of what potential danger is out there that could harm them, their children, and family. Some dangers we see coming like a bad doctor’s report and then there are others we don’t see coming like a drive by shooting or a drunk driver.

But in the midst of dangers (seen and unseen), we have this assurance, God is with us!

- I have on more reality of life that this Psalms seeks to provide comfort for us, here it is, I’m still here! You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of me life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I will experience hard times (no, I have experienced hard times, life is filled with dangers (seen and unseen) but the final analysis is I’M STILL HERE! I’m still standing, I’m still breathing, I’m still walking and talking, I’m still living!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm Blessed - Psalms 23:5

Verse 5 presents a change of emphasis in Psalm 23. Note that in verse 4 the pronouns change. Until now we’ve been talking about the Lord--he makes, he leads, he restores, he guides. But now we no longer speak about the Lord; now, we speak to the Lord: For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me. And verse 5 begins with this intimate relationship as well: You prepare a table before me. You anoint my head with oil.

Here we have a shift of emphasis because the role of the Lord appears to change. Up to this point the Lord is my shepherd. Now the Lord appears to be a host who prepares a table before me, anoints me as a guest, fills my drinking cup and invites me to stay in the house of the Lord all my days.

There is much debate as to whether David leaves the analogy of the Good Shepherd to discussing God as a Good Host. I believe the analogy is still the same. David doesn’t transition from discussing the intimate relationship between Shepherd and sheep. If anything the discussion has become more precious, comforting, and encouraging.

Notice that in the first three verses, David refers to God in the third person: “The Lord is my Shepherd. He makes me lie down…He leads me…He restores my soul.”

Then, in v. 4-5, David shifts, referring to Him in second person: “I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me…You anoint my head with oil.” And then, he closes by returning to third person: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Why does David switch from talking about God with ‘He’ to talking to God with ‘You,’ and why does it happen in v. 4? Why didn’t he just go on to say, ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for He is with me; His rod and His staff, they comfort me’?”

May I suggest that the change “He” to the more intimate “You” happens in v. 4 precisely because it’s there he speaks of the valley he has walked. He has felt the shadows closing in. Verse 4 describes the crisis points in his life. And in those times, something deep happened between him and God.

You’ve noticed it too, haven’t you? We’re more prone to talk about God when we are in the green pastures and more prone to talk to God when we’re in the dangerous ravine. In the light, we are prone to wander off in pursuit of greener grass. But in the dark, we hug His knee.

David changes from comments about God to communion with God at God’s table.

Psalms could be broken into two (2) parts: first part we see God as Shepherd in verses 1-3 and in the second part we see God as Host. Many try to tie the metaphor of Shepherd to verses 5-6. I guess you can do that but I believe based on the reading and outline of the text that the overall theme of Psalms 23 is the demonstration of love and care from Shepherd towards the sheep. However, when we get to verses 5 and 6 there is a transition that does not wipe away the metaphor of Shepherd/sheep relations but it intensifies the relationship to show God as a gracious host.

Verse 4 David says, “Yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff they comfort me. Verse 5 begins with You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over. The comfort of Psalms 23 is that God is not only the Shepherd who provides and protects but He is also the Shepherd who blesses His sheep.

Let me put it this way, to experience the hospitality of God is a blessed privilege for us to enjoy!

Say what you want about the relational transition from Shepherd to Host there is a common thread of confidence with the sheep that extends into verse 5. This text provides three (3) blessings to enjoy that is birth out of God’s hospitality:

I. God’s Hospitality is a FESTIVE Blessing

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”

Point: The table is a place of safety and satisfaction. Our enemies can't stop what God has already prepared.

A. The table is an invitation to eternal life – John 6:53-56

B. The table is intentional for joyous living – John 16:22

II. God’s Hospitality is a FAVORED Blessing

“You anoint my head with oil”

Point: The anointing is God's stamp of approval! The anointing is not the power of God but a sovereign act of God.

This could be tricky in that many will suggest that one person has more of the anointing than the other but that's not true.

A. All believers are anointed at the time of salvation
B. The anointing is not for the glory of man

III. God’s Hospitality is a FLOWING Blessing

“My cup runs over”

Point: God gives us more than enough, consistently!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can Two Churches Function Together

Several months ago, a few prominent pastors had a discussion relating to the survival of the African American church on the eastside of Los Angeles. The suggested conclusion was that if African American ministries don’t merge they will not survive much longer. In part, I believe the survival rate of the African American church is increasingly in danger of becoming non-existent. Each week I notice more and more black churches closing their doors and the Latin community re-opening the doors. On a numerous occasions, I have had the question asked by both Black and Latin people want kind of church First Goodwill was. The question was not in reference to domination but race. I’ve seen black people drive into our parking lot only to turn around because they thought it was a Latin church. This can be disheartening but it is also an opportunity to reach the community we’re in for Jesus Christ.

I believe the black church can come together to save our identity in the Christian community on the eastside of Los Angeles, in merger and partnership, it really depends on the black and their mission as a church.

Many people believe that we, African-American churches, cannot partner or merge together with a common cause without there being competition and/or ego tripping among the brethren. So then the question becomes, Can two churches live together under the same roof?

No doubt the answers to this question can comeback with negativity and concern which is to be expected because it’s human nature to respond negatively with things that sound un-doable, unlikely, and unreasonable.

But let’s not forget there was only one church birthed in Acts 2. There was one church with one purpose. Therefore, I see four assurances that 2 churches can function together in one place:

Assurance# 1: Unity Holds Us Together as churches – Acts 2:1-11

One Accord: the same mind or spirit; oneness of mind and heart. It means to be one in spirit and purpose. Homos means same and thumos means spirit or mind. The believers, all 120 of them in the upper room, were of the same spirit, of the same mind. The idea is they were after the same thing, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They were focusing and concentrating their thoughts and energies upon seeking God for the promise of His Spirit.

The word is used only eleven times in Scripture, ten of those times are found in Acts, one is found in Romans.

One accord in prayer (Acts 1:14; Acts 4:24).
One accord in one place (Acts 2:1).
One accord in daily worship and the Lord’s supper (Acts 2:46; Acts 5:12).
One accord in obedience (Acts 8:6).
One accord in a business meeting (Acts 15:25).
One accord is needed to glorify God (Romans 15:6).

The phrase “one accord” is also used to refer to the unity of unbelievers and enemies of the gospel (Acts 7:57; Acts 12:20; Acts 18:12; Acts 19:29).

Two churches can function together when they share the same mind and spirit.

Assurance# 2: Two Churches can function together on Biblical Proclamation – Acts 1:12-42

The teaching and instruction of the apostles would include both what Christ taught and His death and resurrection and ascension or exaltation. It would be the same teaching and instructions...

 that are shared in the New Testament.

 that the disciples wrote to various churches and bodies of believers.

 The teaching would be no different. There is only one message, only one Word that saves and roots and grounds people in the Lord—the Word of God Himself, the message of the New Testament. On the day of Pentecost, the persons who were saved needed to be grounded in the faith. And the only message that could ground them was the message found in the New Testament. It was that message, that doctrine they taught.

Assurance# 3: Two Churches Can Function together when they Practice the Same Principles - Acts 2:44-47 (NKJV)

Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, [45] and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. [46] So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, [47] praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The principles of the text are ministry, worship, evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship. These practices allow the church to keep the same perspective in everything done in the church. Any deviation from these practiced principles can potentially result in disharmony.

Assurance# 4: Two Churches Can Function Together in the Growth of the Church – Acts 2:41, 47, 4:4; 5:14; 11:24

The results were twofold: they gained favor with the people, and the Lord added souls to the church, daily. It is in the present tense, “such as were being saved.” Salvation is a present experience of the believer as well as past and future.

The idea is that those who were being saved were being added to the church day by day.

“Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand” (Acts 4:4).

“And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women” (Acts 5:14).

“And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).

“And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord” (Acts 11:21).

I am concerned about the survival of the African-American church on the eastside of Los Angeles. However, consider what impact the church can have if we considered partnering together for the sake of kingdom advancement.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My 7th Leadership Celebration

This has been a wonderful and well needed moment of encouragement for me, my family, and the church. Words really cannot express how appreciative I am to have shared these services with all of you who participated.

I made a comment during my remarks that is my way of expressing the sovereignty of God in the planning of these services: “Thank you for saying yes and thank you for saying no”. God had who wanted there to be there and we had a good time.

I had one request, “Lord, speak to the members heart with your word!” And believe me, He did just that.

In our first service, Pastor George Hurtt and Mt Sinai came through and blessed us. Pastor Hurtt preached: “What is Truth” – John 18:37-40. The challenge for me as pastor of FGMBC is preach the truth and the truth will prevail. Thank you pastor Hurtt. It was so good seeing the members of Mt Sinai and the new faces God has blessed them with. Keep impacting the kingdom of God.

In our second service, Pastor Kevin Stafford and Zion Baptist Evangelistic Temple and Pastor Michael Albert and Mt Aaron Church blessed us with their presence. Pastor Kevin Stafford preached: “Act Like You Know” – Psalms 46:10. The challenge to me as pastor is to trust the sovereignty of God and power of God. Thank you, pastor Stafford. Pastor Albert lit us up with words of encouragement. Thank you, pastor.

In our third service, Living Gospel Church blessed us with their presence as Bishop Jones, pastor Jones, and pastor Green ministered to the church in a powerful way. Pastor Jones preached, with simplicity, “Preach the Word” - 2 Timothy 4:2. Powerful message and the challenge was set in the opening phrase of the text, “Preach the Word”. Thank you pastor E.A Jones

Friday, I picked Pastor Lance Mann from the airport and we went to a soul food restaurant named Flossy’s, excellent food. Lance thought I was going to be standing at 6’5” because I refer to myself has baby Jordan so much. I told him I’m big man in a little body. My mother-in-law got on me because I wasn’t in a suit and tie but in shorts and a t-shirt. I wanted to be comfortable.

Our musical Friday night was a blessing! I invited ministries that have blessed me over the years of my ministry as pastor. Atone and Team Jesus, Jamelle Jones and Freed, One Voice, and Shervonne Wells (formerly of the Kurt Carr singers) blessed us in tremendous way. The highlight for me was having my big sister, Shervonne Wells with us. She is a blessing to the body of Christ and I am so glad she came to minister. She needed to catch a plane to Memphis early Saturday morning so cut her off. But truth be told, I could have listened to her sing all night long. One Voice is an awesome group of young adult who led us in a worship experience like no other. Jamelle Jones and Freed blessed with a song Minister Jones wrote: “Rain on Us”. He’s a gift to gospel music. Atone and Team Jesus is charismatic group with a lot of energy. We had a wonderful time and I thank God for everyone who participated in the musical.

Saturday was the highlight of the entire weekend during our Pastor’s fellowship breakfast. The following pastors were in attendance: Pastor Reginald Payne, Pastor Keith Green, Pastor Ronald Saunders, Pastor Lance Mann, Pastor Al Johnson and his father, Pastor Barry Severe, Pastor W Charles Harris, Pastor F D Harris, and Pastor Anthony Thompson. The food and fellowship was excellent. Thank to my mom and Sadie for all that you did for us. After breakfast; pastor Harris, pastor Thompson, pastor Saunders, pastor Mann, pastor Sever, and myself went into my office and ministered to one another for six (6) hours. We didn’t gossip about other ministries or pastors, we ministered to one another. What a blessing! Something I needed desperately. These pastors started opening up about ministerial struggles that I pray and hope that those in attendance will keep to themselves. Afterwards we spent some time in prayer. What a blessing!

Later that night, we had a live recording with Pastor Theo Wilkins and Sounds of Praise. If this CD does not make the top 10 list for gospel music I will be very disappointed. The music was outstanding!

Sunday morning Pastor Lance Mann killed us with “When Life Makes No Sense” – Proverbs 3:5-6. What can I say? Pastor Mann is a gifted preacher and singer who loves God, the church, and ministry. The church received him well and my family, the kids, started calling him uncle Lance. I thank God for our friendship. This is my first time hosting an out of town guest and I hope that I’ve done well to make his stay enjoyable as well as memorable. After service the members prepared dinner before the next service and we hung out my office joking around. I think pastor Mann is an undercover comedian because he had laughing like crazy. So much so, that my kids didn’t want to get out my office. I pray God richly blesses his ministry in Newark, NJ.

In the afternoon service Full Gospel and Pastor Payne, Bishop R.D Sanders and Mt Pilgrim, and Pastor Barry Severe and Cathedral of Praise were our guest churches. What a blessing! We also had a special treat because Daniel Johnson of Israel and New Breed led praise worship with Full Gospel. This young man is gifted praise and worship leader.

My pastor, Bishop R.D Sanders and Mt Pilgrim came through in a big way. Bishop murdered us with “How to get your needs met” – Philippians 4:19. Expository masterpiece! For the last year, I prayed for direction for a pastor. There were three (3) guys he placed on my heart and Bishop Sanders was one of them. The other is dear friend that I respect, admire, and enjoy our friendship. I didn’t want anything to potentially ruining our friendship mixing pastor and friendship together. I met with Bishop Sanders two (2) months ago to discuss my decision and desire and he graciously consented. The church has received me well and I look forward to what the future fellowships with Mt Pilgrim. I respect him and he respects me and my family.

After church, Lance wanted Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles so we took him there for dinner.

I can sum up my leadership celebration in one word, AWESOME!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday Thoughts - 11/1/09

Good day!

I preached a challenging message yesterday. Every year during the pastor's anniversary, I generally preach a message on pastoral ministry. So yesterday I preached:

Topic: Can A Pastor Depend On You?
Text: Philippians 4:14-20

Thesis Statement: Your financial support aides the minister and mission of the church.

Transition Sentence: It is the mood of this text to communicate to the church that Christian fellowship is bound by mutual support.

1. The Decision To Support - v. 14-16

The text shows two (2) areas of support that need a decision. Understand that the decision to support these areas is not a decision to support one or the other. But a decision to see the work of the Lord progress locally and universally.

A. There is a decision to support the minister of the church- v. 14, 16
b. There is a decision to support the mission of the church - v. 15

2. The Description of Your Support - v. 17-18

a. God sees your sacrifice
b. God is well-pleased with your sacrifice

3. The Delight of Your Support - v. 19-20

The message was good but I felt like I was beating the members up when in fact I was not. My overall goal was to challenge our membership in their level of financial support that ultimately supports the man of God and mission of God. I'm in a unique position because my church, in it's history, as never supported a full-time pastor. The church has always been a bi-vocational pastoring church. Now, it is possible that God wants to move us into a full-time pastoring church. I'm not sure but I am praying hard as what I should do, go back to work or stay full-time at the church.

We continued our pastoral anniversary yesterday with Pastor E.A Jones and Living Gospel (Compton Ave location), Pastor Keith Green and Living Gospel (Main location), and Pastor Robert Calvary and Praise Chapel Church. The service was high spirited from start to finish.

The words of wisdom from Bishop Jones was awesome and inspiring and challenging. The one thing that Bishop Jones stated that I will hold on to for as long as I'm pastoring is "Whether you pastor 10s, 100s, or 1000s always remember these are precious people and God is watching how you deal with them." WOW!

The words of encouragement by pastor Keith Green and pastor Robert Calvary awesome. The sermon from Pastor E.A Jones was right on time, "Preach the Word"!

I kept from giving remarks until yesterday because I knew as soon as I stood I would breakdown in tears. I have not told the full story of the many challenges I've faced this year personally and in my public ministry that really has taken a toll on me but I refuse to quit. These service thus far has been an extreme blessing to me, my family, and the church. Thank you all so much!

I'm enjoying the visit of my mother-in-law. She's so funny and can talk your ears off. But good time having her here.

This week is going to be pretty busy with work at the church. I'm trying to do as much as I can at the church until receive clear direction from God as to what I should do, continue in bi-vocational ministry or trust God and stay in full-time ministry. Not sure yet.

There's preparation for a live recording this coming Saturday at the church with Theo Wilkins and Sound of Praise. Looking forward to that. And there's a concert on Friday with some of California's best gospel artist.

My friend and brother, Pastor Lance Mann, will be in town to preach for me on this coming Sunday and I'm looking forward to the fellowship. This is my first time someone from out-of-town and myself as well as the church is looking forward to it.

Keep us in your prayers, until next time, be blessed.