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Tuesday, December 30, 2008


(The following article is a compilation of research from several sources,and includes heavily the exact words and paraphrases from articles written by Charyn D. Sutton.)

The Watch Night has an ancient lineage. The roots run deep in the traditional nights of prayer in the early church and the watching and praying associated with our Lord’s passion in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Around 1742, in Kingswood, England, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, instituted Watch Night as a specific act of worship within the United Societies. These early Methodist Watch Nights were held either quarterly or monthly at the new moon. The first services were introduced as an alternative to what Wesley called the "wild carousals of the Kingswood miners" on Saturday nights.

In 1755, Wesley published "An Order of Worship for Such as Would Enter into or Renew Their Covenant with God--For Use in a Watch Night Service, on the First Sunday of the Year, or Other Occasion."

In the 1800’s Watch Nights fell out of favor among most predominantly white congregation; but the tradition persisted in the African-American church. There are two essential reasons for the continued and revived importance of Watch Night services in African American congregations.

Before 1862 African people on the plantations of the American South regularly gathered on New Year's Eve. The week of Christmas was the only “holiday” slaves were given. During this time slaveowners tallied up their business accounts for the year so that they could settle debts at the beginning of the new year. Human property was sold along with land and furnishings to satisfy debts. Black families and friends were separated. Often they never saw each other again in this earthly world. For many of our ancestors, enslaved and free, New Year’s Eve was the last time they would be together.

Also, Watch Night Services in Black communities can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as "Freedom's Eve." On that night, Americans of African descent came together in churches, gathering places, and private homes throughout the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had become law.

Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and according to Lincoln's promise, all slaves in the Confederate States were legally free. There were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God, praising him in the Year of Jubilee. As Jesus promised in Luke 4: 18, 19 [proclaiming] liberty to the captives … [setting] at liberty those who are oppressed; [proclaiming] the acceptable year of the LORD.”

This year we look forward to our own historic January. As our ancestors awaited the Proclamation of January 1863, we look to the inauguration in January 2009. As they, so we gather to pray and to praise the Lord for how He has brought us over into the promised Year of Jubilee.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Hark! the herald angels sing

Christ, by highest heaven adored;

Christ, the everlasting Lord;

late in time behold him come,

offspring of a virgin's womb.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;

hail th' incarnate Deity,

pleased as man with man to dwell,J

esus, our Emmanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

"Glory to the new born King!"

In the old days, before the king and his entourage marched into town, one of the king’s servants--- a herald---would ride ahead of the king, trumpeting and crying out, “Make way for the king! Make way for the king!”

When the king prepared to go to the throne and sit in judgment receiving the reports and petitions of his subjects, this herald would enter the throne room ahead of the king and cry out, “Announcing his royal majesty....” listing all of the kings royal titles.

The herald’s job was to make sure the people knew that the king was coming so that they could clear the path of any obstructions, clean up themselves and their businesses, and stop doing anything that they didn’t want the king to catch them doing. The herald did not change the identity of the king or alter the time the king would arrive, but the herald spoke to the people so that they could prepare for the king’s imminent approach. So you could define a herald as a “Preparer of the way.”

During the ministry of John the Baptist some people thought that he might be the messiah they were looking for, but John explained who he was.

John 1: 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

…23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias

John’s job was to go ahead of the coming King Jesus and proclaim, “The King is coming! Make ready for the King!” John the Baptist was a preparer of the way, herald of the Messiah.

So are we.

In John 1: 23 and its prophetic authorization in Isaiah 40: 3 notice that the command to prepare the way is not just to the voice in the wilderness (John) but from the voice to others. Who then is commanded to be prepares of the way?

Isaiah 40 : 9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

The command is to Zion and to Jerusalem, to the people of Israel who are the spiritual predecessors of the church. Who does John cry out to? To us---Christians. The church is to prepare the way of the Lord. We are the heralds of Jesus today.

Now, remember that John’s ministry of heralding the Messiah, of preparing the way for Jesus, happened 30 years after the virgin birth in Bethlehem.

Thirty years after the herald angels proclaimed the birth of Christ to the shepherds(Luke 2). Thirty years after the wise men followed a star that heralded the birth of the King of the Jews (Matthew 2). Hundreds of years after the prophet Isaiah proclaimed:

Isa 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

John the Baptist cried out for the people to “Prepare the way of the Lord,” centuries after Moses proclaimed to the people:

De 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

We might think that with all of these heralds who had come before, there would be nothing for John to do. What else was there to say?

The child had already been born. Here He was.

What need was there for another herald, especially in light of the more illustrious ones (wise men, angels, Isaiah, Moses) who had come before?

John’s ministry and the questions it evokes are relevant to each of us and all of us because we Christians are John the Baptists today. (Even if you worship as John the Methodist, or John the Church of Christ, or John the Lutheran, or John the COGIC, or John the whatever-whatever

What else is there to say about the coming of Jesus?

Acts 1: 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

John did not herald the birth of Jesus, but he prepared the way for Jesus coming into the glory of His public ministry.

We do not have to prepare the way for Jesus’ first Coming into the world, but we are to prepare the way for His Second Coming. Because He will come again.

Considering the illustrious heralds of the past, why should you or I try to fill this role?

Matt 11: 7 ¶ And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

John was not impressive by human standards. He had no priestly robes (though he was the son of a priest). He had no great financial resources (like the wise men). He subsisted off grasshoppers and honey (Mark 1: 6). Yet, he recognized and obeyed his calling to be a herald; just as the poor, outcast, poorly educated shepherds did when they heard the herald angels.

Luke 2: 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

Each of us, whether wise in the world or uneducated, whether out of a pagan tradition or out of the traditional religious structure, whether rich or poor, whether an ordained minister in priestly robes or a regular “pew-sitter,” each of us has the divine charge of being a herald of the coming Lord. Each of us is responsible to God for preparing the way for His return.

How do we do that? How do we fulfill our charge to be prepares of the way, heralds of the King?

Mark 16: 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

We go ahead of the King and proclaim the good news that He is coming.

Matt 24: 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

The gospel will be taken to the world. The questions is whether or not we will be obedient to our charge to be part of taking the gospel to the world. Not one of us can shift that responsibility to someone else. True, if you don’t get out on the missions field and proclaim the gospel, God will send someone else.

But do you want God to have to replace you? Do you want God to take your place and give it to another (Acts 1: 16-20)?

The command is clear. Go!

Go to the nations.

Go where the gospel has not been heard.

Go into ALL the world, not just the neighborhoods around our churches.

Get up, Zion. Get up, Jerusalem.

Go and prepare the way of the Lord!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


The Bible speaks often of burdens that we bear. In the Bible, “burden” can refer to a duty or responsibility as well as to a physical load.

Galatians 6: 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For each one shall bear his own load.

There are no contradictions in the Bible. How then can the Word command us to Bear one another’s burdens and then within a few verses tell us that each one shall bear his own load?

Scriptural questions like this can only be resolving by examining scripture. Where else in the Bible is this topic presented? How does the totality of scripture reconcile the verses and expand our understanding?

Our search takes us to the Old Testament.

Numbers 11:11 So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me? …
14 I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me.
15 If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness!”
16 So the Lord said to Moses: “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you.
17 Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.

Leading the nation of Israel was Moses’ burden, his responsibility. The weight of caring for so many complaining, rebellious, ungrateful folks weighed so heavily upon Moses that he cries out to God, “Help me or kill me! I can’t take it anymore!”

God responds by telling Moses to choose 70 other men. These men will share Moses’ burden (Galatians 6: 2).

Sometimes God gives us a task that proves too much for us to do. It is not the Lord’s will that we stumble and fall under the weight of our God-given responsibilities. It is God’s will that we let others help us. However, as Numbers 11 notes, we must be careful about whom we let share our burden.

The Lord tells Moses to carefully choose men out of the congregation of Israel. The burden-sharers must
(1) have demonstrated in some degree the qualities necessary for the responsibility/ burden in question (Numbers 11: 16)
(2) be willing to go through a period of consecration/ preparation for the responsibility/ burden (Numbers 11: 18)
(3) operate in the same spirit, the Holy Spirit, that has guided and sustained the Moses, the original burden-bearer;
We also learn that you (the original bearer of your burden) must be willing to let the Holy Spirit guide you to burden-sharers even when they who don’t promote themselves (Numbers 11: 25,26).

Numbers 11: 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.
26 But two men had remained in the camp: the name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them. Now they were among those listed, but who had not gone out to the tabernacle; yet they prophesied in the camp.

We tend to make two chief mistakes in the carrying of our heaviest responsibilities.
We either try to continue shouldering a load that has grown in mass beyond our ability to balance alone (usually out of pride); or we share our burdens with the wrong folks.

Imagine you have a 200 pound bag to carry. Over time the bag grows heavy or just awkward so you call 3 friends over to help. Each of the three gets under a corner and lifts. Whew! That’s much better. But then, everybody starts walking in a different direction. Now instead of simply bearing a 200 pound weight, you find yourself tugging on a 200 pound weight against your friends who want to take it somewhere you know it shouldn’t go. That’s what happens when you share your God-given burden with someone who doesn’t share the same Spirit. They pull you in the wrong direction.

If you are a husband or wife struggling to maintain a godly relationship, don’t share your problems with someone’s who’s already cheating on their spouse or with someone who’s never had a successful marriage themselves. If you’re a parent trying to keep your child out of crime and immorality don’t turn to advice from someone who buys alcohol for their 14 year old. If you’re a young person stumbling in your walk with Christ, you can’t get any real help from your buddies (as much as you love them) who don’t know Christ and really just want you to stop talking about church and party with them anyway.

Understanding what Gal. 6: 2 means, how does the Bible reconcile that with Gal. 6: 5 For each one shall bear his own load?

Look to the Gospels.

Matthew 11: 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [KJV: of me], for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus makes us an offer we can’t refuse. He offers to receive our heavy burdens: the responsibilities, sins, guilt, mistakes, history, and issues under which we labor. In return for these, He offers to give us (1) rest; (2) His yoke; and (3) His burden.

(1) The rest Christ promises is both inner peace in this lifetime (John 14:27) and eternal holiday in the life to come (Hebrews 4; Revelations 14: 13).
(2) A yoke was a harness placed on beasts of burden that kept them walking in the same path and/or direction. Yoked creatures moved as one. Yielding our burdens to Christ means receiving a new direction. No longer should we follow the paths which led to our troubles, but we should follow a path of unity with other believers, a path on which we increase in our knowledge of Jesus.
(3) Jesus offers His burden. We give up everything for Christ (Matthew 19: 27). By doing so, everything in our lives becomes Christ’s responsibility, and our only responsibility/burden is to live for Jesus (Matthew 6: 33).

In other words, the only burden we are meant to bear is the responsibility to live and to share the gospel. God wants us to give all other burdens to Him.

Understanding now that we are meant to have just this one burden, Galatians 6: 5 makes sense. We are each to bear the responsibility of living and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Galatians 6: 5 makes sense with Galatians 6: 2 because we are to share the work of living and sharing the gospel with others who walk in the same Spirit.

As we live for Jesus, applying the gospel on our jobs, in our families, among our friends, and in our churches, the burden may become too heavy or too massive to bear alone. We should be willing to accept the help of those who share the same Holy Spirit. When we see our brothers and sister struggling we should reach out to them share their load.

By both bearing our load and sharing one another’s burdens we fulfill the law of Christ.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. ------------ Ephesians 2: 10


This celebration of Christian brothers and brotherhood will be Sunday, October 19, 2008, at 2:30P.M.

The Word will be delivered by Rev. Farrell Duncombe, pastor of St. Paul AME Church in Montgomery, AL.

You are invited to share in what promises to be a powerful afternoon of praise, worship, testimony and Word.

Go to the Where Are We section of this webpage for directions. For more information call us at(334)288-0577 or e-mail .

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II

Thursday, September 18, 2008


(Our Wednesday night Bible class is studying Heaven. Here’s a review of points from a recent lesson.)

Revelations 14: 13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”

In Heaven we will have rest, but what does that mean? When we arrive in Heaven will we sing a song and then all lie down for a nap like some kind of eternal kindergarten afternoon? No.

Will Heaven consist of some kind of near-unconscious stupor? No.

Rest does not mean inactivity.

Hebrews 4: 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

When God judged a generation of the ancient Israelites and told them they would not enter into His rest, the Lord was speaking of the Promised Land. Where the Israelites to enter the Promised Land and go to sleep?

Joshua 4: 13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.

Those God brought into the “rest” of the Promised Land would be busy with the work of enjoying what had already been prepared.

Hebrews 4: 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

When God “rested” it was because He’d finish the labor of creation and He wanted to sit back and enjoy it. In the same way, our Heavenly rest will be an eternal holiday. We will enjoy the rewards of having received Jesus as Savior and having done the work of the gospel.

2 Timothy 4: 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

What will we do on our eternal holiday? What will this Heavenly rest look like? Well, let’s first be clear on what it won’t look like.

Heaven is not disembodied spirits floating around. We will have actual physical form: redeemed bodies; resurrected, glorified, spiritual, yet physical bodies. We will have bodies patterned after the resurrected Christ.

1John 3: 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Luke 24: 36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

Our resurrected Lord had flesh and blood. So will we. Our glorified Lord talked and ate with His friends. So will we.

Revelations 2: 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

The Scriptures reveal much about our activities in Heaven:

What will we do in Heaven?

Psalm 16: 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy;

We will have joy. That is, we will live in a state of bliss.

At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

We will have pleasure. That is, we will experience new things which are good and pleasurable to experience.

Revelations 7: 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.

We will be with God.

Revelations 22: 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads

We will see God face-to-face. Nothing will diminish our personal, intimate fellowship with God. We will be able to bodily experience all of His glory, something humanity has not been able to do since Adam and Eve hid from God in the cool of the day. (Genesis 3: 8)

Revelations 14: 2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. 3 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying:
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints!

We will sing old songs.

Revelations 15: 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.

We will sing new songs.

Luke 6: 20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
For you shall be filled.

Our emptiness and want will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh.

We will laugh.

Isaiah 35: 5 ¶ Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

We will be healed.

6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert..

We will leap for joy.

Ephesians 2: 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

We will sit in heavenly places.

2 Timothy 2: 12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.

and reign with Christ.

1 Corinthians 2: 9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

And more, much more.

A deeper, scriptural understanding of Heaven should fill us with peace and courage. If you are saved, understand that you don’t need to fear anything. The worst thing anyone could do to you is send you to a Heavenly rest of joy, pleasure, fellowship, music, satisfaction, laughter, rest, rulership ,… and more.

A deepened understanding of what the Bible says about Heaven should inspire us to witness and to pray. Heaven makes me want to lead everyone in my circle to Christ. What could be better than knowing that those I love most in this world have the promise of active, eternal rest in the next; knowing that even if they die they are not lost to me; knowing that the worst thing anyone can do to my precious ones is send them to Heaven. I want them to know Jesus as Savior so that they too can rest in the promise of a Heaven that is a forever of participation in wonder without sin or pain.


Saturday, September 13, 2008


Fill my days
W/ your ways
Invade my space
W/ your grace
Take all I have
Take all of me
From me
Until I have nothing
But You

Raise up a standard
Higher than I can attain
And bring me down
To my knees
Till I rise Above

Teach me
A new psalm
Written by You
Before time was composed
By You

Show me how to sing
The thirst in my soul
That is only quenched
When I share Your cup
And drink of You
- Rev. Anderson T. Graves II


Time is a poem
Writ with pen Divine
Every life a stanza
Every breath a line
- Anderson T. Graves II

James 1: [New King James Version] 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In poetry circles there is a phenomenon known as “Spoken Word.”

Sometimes described as “full contact poetry,” spoken word brings poets together to publicly perform their work. The atmosphere can range from the profane, hyper-sexual styles of Russels Simmons’s Def Comedy Jam to the ultra-cool aura of coffee-house performances to competitive poetry SLAM events. But the place where spoken word truly finds it voice is in the Church and through Christian performers.

Here’s why.

In the book of James, the Greek word translated as “doer is poietes. Poietes is defined as
1 a maker, a producer, author.
2 a doer, performer.
2a one who obeys or fulfils the law.
3 a poet.

Two Points:
Point 1:
For my fellow writers: To be a true poet, to fully realize the gift God has given you, you must be a doer of the Word. It is not enough to be inspiring. It is not enough to be eloquent. It is not enough to be prolific.

1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

John 14: 15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Point 2: For everyone, non-writers and writers: Your life is not a random composition. Your life is a poem originally penned by God, a psalm to which you add new verses everyday. Your life is a psalm performed, presented to God by your daily actions. The work that is your life may be profane; it may be lax; it may be competitive; or….

Your life can be powerful, beautiful, holy, and acceptable to God.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

When your life is done, the verses will be spoken aloud.

Revelations 20: 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

Will the original Author be pleased with the revisions you’ve made to His work?

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For more information on Christian spoken word performance, visit the Mars Hill Ministry link.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Preparing for the Coming Storm

1 Kings 18: 41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees,
43 and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.”
44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’ ”

With Hurricane Gustav making landfall, Tropical Storm Hannah on the way, and who knows what else spinning out in the Atlantic, now is an excellent time for every Christian to review their storm preparations. Not just your preparations for the physical wind and rain, but your preparations for the storms of life that will come.

In Elijah chapter 18, God sends the prophet to evil king Ahab. Elijah is the warn Ahab that rain is coming; after 3 years of drought, heavy rain is on the way. Strangely, when Elijah meets up with Ahab, they don’t talk about the weather. Instead Elijah issues a spiritual challenge:

1 Kings 18: 19 Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” …
21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.
22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23 Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it.
24 Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.”…

Jehovah, of course, wins the challenge (1 Kings 18; 36-38), and all of the people see that our God is the only god (verse 39).

Then, Elijah tells Ahab that rain is coming.

Why the delay? Had Elijah gotten distracted from his original purpose? No.

The point Elijah was making is


When you see that things may go wrong, before you go into damage-control mode, go into prayer-mode. It is a truth, not a cliché, that for every problem, God is the answer. He knows the trouble is ahead before you do, and He has prepared for you either a way out or a way through.
Ahab, the ungodly king with all of the worldly resources a man could have learns that the storm is approaching and reacts; but Elijah, God’s faithful servant, keeps spiritually focused and…

45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.
46 Then the hand of the Lord came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

The Word does not teach us to neglect physical preparations, in fact diligence, hard work, and prudent financial and physical preparation are repeatedly commanded. (We bought a generator last week.) However, the Word does make it quite clear that we must never neglect to be Spiritually Prepared for the storms to come.

Here’s a checklist of ten preparations to make before a major storm:

1. Review your insurance policy.
Isaiah 32: 17 The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

2 Corinthians 1: 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

2. Take inventory of your property.
Galatians 6: 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

3. Plan your evacuation route.
1 Corinthians 15: 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

4. Teach your children what to do in emergency.
Deuteronomy 5: 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

5. Plan what to do with pets & property you cannot bring with you if you must evacuate.
1 Timothy 6: 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

Proverbs 13: 22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

6. Maintain a supply of fresh water.
John 4: 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

7. Maintain a supply of non-perishable food.
John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

8. Have a means (cell phone, radio) of contacting outside authorities receiving important information.
Ephesians 2: 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

9. Have candles and matches, a flashlight and batteries.
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

10. Have an out-of-state friend/ relative as a contact.
John 15: 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Hebrews 4: 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Check your list, and ask yourself: Am I prepared for the coming storm?

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Hall Memorial C.M.E Church held their first Annual Juneteenth Banquet June 21, 2008. This celebration commemorated the historic event of 1865, when the slaves in Galveston, Texas received the news of their emancipation.

The Banquet’s theme, “The Challenges of Freedom,” touched on the challenges that black people have faced since being declared freed in 1863 and the challenges of the Civil Rights struggle in the 1960’s and the struggles to fully access our freedom in today’s society.

The Master of Ceremony, Mr. Jerome McReynolds, gave a narrative of the history of Juneteenth as the program progressed.

One of the featured speakers was Mr. Bobby Mosley, a native of Gee’s Bend and the son of one of the original quilters, the late Mrs. Ruth Mosley. Mrs. Mosley quilts were on display at this commemoration. Mr. Mosley shared his legacy, the history of Gee’s Bend plight in the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960’s. He spoke of the struggles of the families to survive this hardship and of the tenacity and ingenuity of the women that formed the Gee’s Bend Quilters. By the grace of God these quilters would receive world renowned recognition for the genius in the design of their quilts. A documentary of Gee’s Bend was shown while dinner was served.

After dinner Mr. Dwight Moon sang his rendition of “Never would have made it” in his melodious baritone voice.

Dr. Archie L. Rowe introduced the esteemed speaker of the hour, Dr William Larkin. Dr. Larkin’s speech was educational, while entertaining. Dr. Larkin spoke of the beginning of slavery to our freedom from slavery, our struggles to gain our basic Civil Rights and our struggles in today’s society for full access to the American dream culminating in the first African American nominee to the presidency of the United States.
Pastor Anderson T. Graves II gave the final remarks with a summation of the evening and recognition of the Trustee Board for presenting the occasion

Monday, March 3, 2008


2 Timoth 2: 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

The church is often referred to as The Army of the Lord. As an army, we have an enemy: Satan and sin. As an army, we have a commander-in-chief: Jesus Christ. As an army, we have orders. Jesus has ordered us to:

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them
to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you
alway, even unto the end of the world.

Mark 16:15 And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel
to every creature.

Luke 24:46-48 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ
to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission
of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
And ye are witnesses of these things.

When men and women join the United States Army, they take an oath. In honoring this one paragraph affirmation, United States soldiers willingly train, deploy, fight, and perhaps even die in order to follow the orders of their commander in chief.

Here is a paraphrase of that oath.

I, (state your name), having been appointed before the creation of the world, a soldier in the Army of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ under the conditions indicated in this document, the Holy Bible, the Word of God, do accept such appointment and do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, defend, and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the lost, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, SO HELP ME GOD.

As a soldier in the Army of the Lord, will you follow our commanders orders?

Will you honor your oath?

Will you attack the strongholds of sin, poverty, addiction, broken relationships, crime, and godlessness in your community?

Will you tend the spiritual wounds of your fellow soldiers when they fall?

Will you put on your gear (Ephesians 6: 10-18), lace up your boots, and march out to win back your community for the kingdom of God?

Be certain that the enemy is on the attack, using conventional and covert tactics against you; but know also, that our arsenal is equal to the task.

II Cor. 10:4, 5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty
through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and
every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing
into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
Know also that, we will win the war, because our Commander has already won.
1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is
the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Revelations 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb
shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are
with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Don’t push me.
Don’t test me.
Don’t try me.
Don’t tempt me.

Whatever the wording, the meaning is the same. This is the line, and if you cross it, something’s going to happen. Probably something you won’t like.

Matthew 4: 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
[NRSV] 7 Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’"

Looking at the entire passage (Matthew 4: 1-11),Satan “tempted” Jesus to do things that were in a sense perfectly in character for Jesus to do. Jesus is God, and God can and had provided bread in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4), God can and will descend to the Earth (Acts 1:11; Matthew 25:31), and God can and will rule the kingdoms of the world (Revelations 11: 15).
The trick was that if Satan could have gotten Jesus (who is God) to do what God does because he wanted God to do it, then the devil would have been in control of God.
If the devil had gotten God to do what God does because he wanted God to do it, then the devil would have been the ruler of God.

We try the same trick.

We name what we what God to do and claim that He has to do it. We wrongly test God when we propose that paying the right percentage, belonging to the right church, quoting the right verses, or buying the right prayer cloth somehow invokes, impresses, entices, or tempts the God of the entire universe into doing our will on Earth as He is in heaven.

This way of testing God does evoke a response. When we cross that line, something happens, but it is not something we want.

Matthew 4: 9 And [Satan] saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

When we test God to see if He will obey us, we lose the privilege of His presence.

Sometimes our efforts at tempting God involve trying to frame our personal political, social, or economic preference as mandates from God.

Mark 12: 14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.
[NRSV]15 Should we pay them, or should we not?" But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it."

The Word and the world will be at odds. The two have fundamentally different priorities, but sometimes we pick political and economic battles on our own and then holler for God to back us up when we start losing.
The culture demands that we tolerate every form of cultural sin. The Bible demands that we condemn all sin while simultaneously loving the sinner and forgiving them when they offend us personally. In this there is conflict, but the path for believers is clear. Never condone sin, but always love and seek to see the sinner saved.
The laws of the land prohibit discrimination against people because of their sexual activity outside the office. The Word condemns all sexual relations except within a marriage between a man and a woman. Here there is no conflict. Just because you don’t fire someone doesn’t mean you condone their lifestyle.
We don’t change our doctrine because there’s a change in political policy. Neither is it necessary to pass a law to give force to God’s commands.
Jesus never sought to change a single political law. He did condemn oppressive, man-made religious traditions. Even when they stood before kings and emperors, the apostles witnessed for the personal salvation of the men they faced. They didn’t negotiate for preferred religious status (Acts 24, 25).
The Lord requires that we be able to say both “You’re wrong,” and “I love you,” at the same time. We put God to the wrong test when we bring him into social conflict because we only want to say one or the other.

(Disclaimer: You should vote! This post isn’t about voting or about voting with an eye to the candidates moral as well as political stances.)

We’re talking about testing God by challenging Him to choose whether He’ll hold you to His laws or to the laws of the land. God holds us responsible for both, with His laws always first.

Mark 12: 16 And they brought [the coin].. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s.
17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

We test God the wrong way when we forget.

Exodus 16: 35 And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.
Exodus 17: 1 ¶ And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.
2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?
[NRSV]2 The people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?"

For the entire 40 years that the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, God sent them bread, manna, from heaven itself. They had no farms, no crops, no means of resupply, but god blessed even their clothes and shoes so that they remained like new after four decades of walking around in the desert (Deuteronomy 8: 4).

After all that God had done to prove that He had their back, they got right up to the edge of the Promised Land, and they went off.

Exodus 17: 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?"
4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me."

God miraculously provided water to quench their thirst, but He did not forget the way they had pushed His buttons. When Moses came down off the mountain, having received the 10 Commandments, he recounted the words of the Lord and the statutes that become “The Law.” Among these is the command
De 6:16 [KJV] Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
16 [NRSV] Do not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

This is the verse Jesus quotes against the devil (Matthew 4: 7).

We want to be careful not to wrongly tempt God. When we do, we get placed in the same category as Satan, and we lose the privilege of God’s presence.

The awesome thing is that there are circumstances in which God actually invites us to “put Him to the test.”

Mal 3: 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
[NRSV] 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.
Why does God invite us to “Prove me” or “Try me” in this situation? What’s different here?
The difference is OBEDIENCE. The difference is that God is willing to show and prove when we approach Him while being obedient to his Word.

Basically God says, “Do what you already know you are supposed to do and see won’t I take care of the rest.”

Judges 6: 14 And the LORD looked upon [Gideon], and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
16 And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
21 Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.

Gideon asked for a sign, and God gave him one. The difference is that God only sought the sign in order to know and follow God’s will. There was no doubt that he would do what God said, Gideon just needed confirmation that what he was hearing was in fact God’s will. This wasn’t about finding a political loophole, or doubting God’s power, or trying to move God onto his program. Gideon put God to the test, but he did it in a spirit of OBEDIENCE.

In obedience Gideon gathered an army and got ready to attack the much greater enemy force.
Worried, and doubting more himself than God, Gideon obeys the Word as best he understands it, but ...

Judges 6:36 Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

Sitting in his tent. fully ready to obey God’s instructions even though they don’t make Earthly sense to him, Gideon prays for confirmation and God answers.
Through Gideon, God goes on to destroy a huge army with just 300 men armed with clay pots and trumpets.

God is willing to be put to the test and to prove His power in your life. But only, if your willing to obey His Word to the best of your ability.
Your worry and doubt may be as real as deadly thirst in the wilderness, but keep the faith. Do what you know is right regardless of what the culture says. Remember what God has already done in your life. Stand firm. Do the work. Work through the pain.
Be obedient to God, and pray – honestly.
Expect God not to answer exactly the way you expect it. But expect God to answer.

Try Him.

The doors of the kingdom are open.