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Monday, May 18, 2009


A funny think happened on the way to church this Sunday morning. Actually, it was Sunday afternoon, and it wasn't my church I was headed to. I was on the way to Pleasant Grove CME curch in Troy, AL. I was to preach the message for a service in honor of Pastor Carlton Pickett's 5th year as their pastor.

I'd driven to this church at least twice before, and I had written directions. But I was exhausted so my wife drove and I went to sleep. When I woke up we were 25 miles past where we should have turned.

Now, there was nothing wrong with the written directions. They were correct and clear. The assigned driver fully intended to reach the right destination. The problem was, their pastor, their shepherd, the one who most intimately understood the way, was asleep. So the flock went astray.

We made it to the service---- 40 minutes late. The title of my sermon was: "Thank God for Pastors Who Are Awake and Have Your Back."

Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

It would be easy for preachers, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, and other leaders in the church to say (correctly) that the same Holy Spirit in us is in our students; and to then say (incorrectly) that whether we do our jobs or not the people will get what they need from the Lord.

Each Christian has a calling, not necessarily a calling to the pulpit, but a calling to some area(s) of ministry. We each have a responsibility, a responsibility to fulfill our calling correctly, consistently, and courageously, fully aware (awake) that we must answer to God for whether or not we do.

1 Peter 5:1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:
2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;
3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;
4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Ezekiel 33: 7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.
8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

I know that we get tired, and we shouldn't always be the one in the driver's seat. But we must make sure that before we fold our hands in sleep, we have properly expounded the written Word and prepared the assigned under-shepherd so that our flock does not go astray.

Isaiah 30: 20, 21 And though the Lord gives you The bread of adversity and the water of affliction, Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, But your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” …

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Because of what I see in the trailers for "Angels and Demons," I'm not going to see it in the theaters and I'm not going to rent it. Not because the trailers make it seem blasphemous, but because the trailer make it seem boring.

However the release of the latest installment of "The DaVinci Code" does evoke some thought on the past wrongs of "the church." Setting aside Dan Brown's fictional (We do all remember that these books and movies are made-up stories, right?) conspiracies, there are some actual areas in which our forefathers and we have dropped the ball.

One's the way we used to, and in some cases still do, deal with unwed parents. Consider 2 Kings 4: 8-17.

2 Kings 4: 8 Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food.
9 And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly.
10 Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.”

A financially well-to-do, married, upstanding lady becomes the prophet's benefactor. She and her older husband build him a mini-parsonage and support his ministry. God rewards her with a son (verse 16 & 17). The child tragically dies (verse 19 & 20). But God through Elisha revives the child and returns him to the arms of his righteous and upstanding mother.

Beautiful, simple, and fair. She's a good person who does good things and has lived the right way. Therefore, she deserved this miracle. Right?

Consider 1 Kings 17.

1 Kings 17: 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”

Elijah, Elisha's mentor, is directed by God to leave a place of divine provision and to seek support from this widow lady. But this sister is not like the other.
She's a widow = single mother.
She's so poor (1 Kings 17: 12) that she's about to cook her and her son's last meal before they starve to death.
And, she has a questionable past.
We know this because in verse 17, she refers to her past sins that may be a reason for the tragedy she's experiencing.

So a poor, single, mother with a questionable past comes in contact with the prophet Elijah. She doesn't have any means, but God miraculously provides for her (verses 14-16) and she becomes Elijah's benefactress.

And, her son tragically dies (1 Kings 17: 17). But God through Elijah revives the child and returns him to the arms of his mother (verses 19-23).

The miracle of physical resuccitation is not promised (see Jesus' comments in Luke 4: 25, 26) in every case of physical illness, but these scriptures point to the equally powerful, and longer lasting miracle of spiritual resurrection.

So, what's the connection? These two mothers have nothing in common socially, yet each experiences God's miraculous provision and the deliverance of their children.

Therefore, we conclude that it is not Mama's (or Daddy's) social status, marital status, or past that determines their ability to bring blessings upon their family. But it is their present standing with God.

Receiving the prophet into their homes represents receiving the Holy Spirit that empowers the prophet. Receiving the Holy Spirit is the mark of salvation (Ephesians 1: 13).
However a parent comes to have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside them, the power of the Holy Spirit which comes with Salvation in Jesus Christ, is the only things that can deliver a family in distress.

Some mamas and daddies come to this place because they were raised the right way. Some mamas and daddies come to this place out of the desperation and despair of living the wrong way.

By no means does the Scripture compromise in its call for sexual purity and neither should we, the Bible-believing church. By no means does Scripture negate the fact that our past choices have consequences for our present and future lives and those of our children. By no means does Scripture imply that the God designed sequence of marriage-then sex within the marriage-then babies is no longer valid. But I hope that we have realized that it is the pre-marital/ extra-marital sex that is the sin, not the pregnancy and not the child.

The church has the responsibility of going to parents and offering Christ and the fellowship of believers, whether the trip takes us to the home of a "notable woman" or to the squalid dwelling of some poor single parent with a questionable past.

If they will hear the Word, receive Jesus, and walk in the leading of Holy Spirit, miracles can still happen. God loves these parents. So must we.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


A few months back my wife realized that many sermons and Bible lessons make references to sowing and reaping (planting and harvesting), but many of our children and young people have no understanding of these terms.

They’ve never dug up the ground and laid seeds in it. They’ve never tended growing crops and battled weeds and insects on their behalf. They’ve never prayed for rain to come or for the rain to stop so that their work would not be in vain. Many members of our congregations, adults included, have never picked from a bush, plucked from a branch, cropped from a plant, or cut from a stem any of the fruits or vegetables they consume.

The Lord had given Brother Charles Moore, our chief steward much the same realization. So this Saturday we planted our first church garden. We’ll use the fresh vegetables in our church kitchen and share them with the community.

Bro. Moore tilled up the ground in a corner of the church yard a few weeks back. On May 2nd, he taught our first gardening class. The kids, and some adults, came out to learn the proper way to plant tomatoes, okra, corn, and squash. They used the tools and handled the seedlings and the seeds. They even helped with the tiller. (A tiller’s a machine that break’s up the ground. It looks like the miniature offspring of a push lawn mower and a tractor that has some egg-beater genes.)

Everybody got dirty, my wife “supervised”, and those of us who grew up on farms reminisced. It was great.

But, the best thing about it was seeing the kids so excited.
Excited about the prospect of growing something with their own hands.
Excited about the feel and promise of farming.
And excited to be learning from the elders of our church.

Our children are not doomed to the intellectual imprisonment of computer and tv screens. Their knowledge of how to survive in the word does not have to be confined to the environs of school hallways and virtual landscapes. Our elders and the skills they’ve acquired over a lifetime are not obsolete.

We are all responsible for remembering that and for facilitating a tradition we’ve generally strayed from: the tradition of the elders passing on their stories and their knowledge to the children.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be a lecture.

It can be as simple as, “Drop these seeds here. Now pull the dirt over them and go get some water.”

When we connect the elders and the children we plant something old and eternal, something Biblical; something that is steeped in love and knowledge, connection and expansion.

And you know what the Good Book says, “You reap what you sow.”