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Monday, May 31, 2010

Conclusion of Touching the Untouchables: DENYING THE DIAGNOSIS

Lepers lose fingers, toes, entire limbs, eyes, ears. In the advanced stages, leprosy leaves its victims maimed, handicapped, and scarred with boils and open wounds, sometimes so badly that the lepers are no longer recognizable for the person they were.

But, leprosy does not directly attack limbs or eyes. The bacteria that causes leprosy does not, on its own, cause disfigurement. It doesn’t directly attack flesh or muscles. Leprosy attacks the nerves in these extremities and desensitizes them. The nerves no longer register and report cuts, bruises, wounds, and the pain of infection in the limbs. So, a leper, cast outside of the city, in the dangerous and dirty leper colonies rife with debris and garbage, accidently scratches his leg on a piece of metal. However, he doesn’t feel the cut.

Unless he has committed to a routine of self-examination, he never looks for new cuts. He doesn’t feel it. He doesn’t look at it. He doesn’t want to know, because he feels just fine.

He says, “There’s nothing wrong with me.
“I’m not like these ‘lepers’ out here.
I’m not sick.
I feel just fine.”

All the while, his leg is wounded. Then it gets infected. The infection is ignored, because he feels just fine. The infection worsens. The leg dies. But still, the leper pretends that everything is alright. After all, if something was seriously wrong, his leg would hurt. Wouldn’t it?

The infection spreads. The tissue die. The joint between leg and body scab over. One day, the leper literally wakes up and his leg falls off.

Gruesome, isn't it?

But, this is what happens in the church.

We no longer feel pain when our members are wounded by sin, especially when they are wounded by their own sin. We are no longer pained either the spiritual pain or the physical suffering around us.

1 John 3: 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

We say that we are well, that we have the love of God, the grace of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, but if we were to examine honestly examine our live, we would find as many scars and festering wounds inside the church as we would find outside.

Jesus said of the church in Laodicea, “…You say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelations 3:17)

In Matthew 9: 12 He warned the Pharisees, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”

In the church, we claim to be clean, but are we really? In the church we profess to be spiritually whole and healthy. But are we?

We meet and worship. We get our praise on and our pray on. We hear the preacher and shout, “Amen!” We leave the church house feeling just fine. Yet, when the pastor calls for people to go out and touch the untouchables, we don’t want to go and we don’t feel like we need to go.

Their problems, their pain does not touch us. We “ain’t feeling them.” And we think that’s because
“There’s nothing wrong with me.
I’m not like these ‘lepers’ out here.
I’m not sick.
I feel just fine.”

John 9: 39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

If we don’t hurt when young people kill each other over the color of their baseball caps, we have become desensitized. If we are not bothered when Christian marriages break up, then we have become desensitized. If their sin does not prick our spirit and awaken a desire to do…something, then we really ought to examine ourselves. Because if we in the church are desensitized to the spiritual uncleanness outside the church, it may be because we inside are infected as well.

If we are infected, and we continue to pretend that we are not, the infection will spread and our parts, our members will die spiritually and fall off.

James 2: 15-17 warns If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

This, I believe, is what has happened in so many churches. We do not serve others because we do not recognize the need to confess our sins. We do not confess our sins, so our relationship with God remains broken. Because our relationship with God is broken we cannot receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit as He would guide us and gift us. We feel nothing and misinterpret the absence of pain as the absence of sickness. We continue to live unrepentantly unloving lives. We deny the Spirit’s conviction, the diagnosis that we are in fact wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

So our members keep falling off.

The treatment is Biblically simple.
James 5: 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

We must be willing to confess our sins, to acknowledge our uncleanness, to receive the Spirit’s diagnosis and then His healing.

And, while we are being healed, we must be consciously sensitive to the pain caused by spiritual uncleanness. We must be willing to touch the untouchables.

Matthew 8: 2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

As we touch the untouchable with the love of Jesus, we will discover that God is healing our infection too.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.------ 2 Chronicles 7: 14, 15


This celebration kicks off with Homecoming on Sunday, June 6, 2010, at 3:00 P.M.

The Revival continues with worship services at 7 P.M. nightly Monday – Friday, June 8- 12th.

The Word will be delivered by a series of dynamic pastor-teachers:

HOMECOMING Sunday, June 6th, 3 P.M.
Rev. Dr. Letitia Watford.
Murdock Chapel AME Church,
Pike Road, AL &

Monday, June 7th, 7 P.M.
Rev. Frederick Harris
Abraham Baptist Church,
Montgomery, AL

Tuesday, June 8th, 7 P.M.
Rev. Dan McCall
Macedonia Baptist Church,
Prattville, AL

Wednesday, June 9th, 7 P.M.
Rev. Tony Longshore
St. Paul CME Church,
Gordonville, AL

Thursday, June 10th, 7 P.M.
Rev. Dr. Lynn Hargrow
Phillips Temple CME Church,
Phenix City, AL

Friday, June 11th, 7 P.M.
Rev. Gerald Hudson
Holly Springs CME Church
Bassfield, Mississippi

Be our special guest for the services of your choice. Bring your family.  Bring your church family.  This Revival promises to be a powerful time of praise, worship, testimony, ministry, and the Word. We look for a mighty move of the Holy Spirit.

For more information, call, email, or send me a message on Facebook.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Get Your Broken-ness Fixed

When I was a kid, my daddy had a truck that rumbled and roared and drifted to one side when it took off. I liked all that noise. When he got the truck fixed it didn't vibrate when he started it up. When Daddy stepped on the gas, the trucked eased forward smoothly and straight. I thought the mechanic had broken my daddy's truck.

We are spiritually broken. So much so that we think broken is normal and fixed is broken. Listen and learn why. Listen and discover the solution.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Knowing Is Half the Battle

"My people perish for lack of knowledge," but knowing is only half the battle.  If you are in a spiritual, personal, relational, or psychological battle, you need to discover the crucial second half.  Listen and find out what the Word of God says is the complete formula for victory.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Touching the Untouchables, part 3: MANAGING OUR CONDITION

2 Kings 5: 1 Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper.

Syria represents the world culture opposed to the gospel. In 2 Kings chapter 5, Naaman was general of the Syrian army. But Naaman was a leper.

You have to wonder:

How could a man suffering from a chronic, terminal, and physically maiming condition not only endure the physical rigors of battle but lead an army?

He managed his condition. As commander of the army of the king of Syria, Naaman would have had the best physicians in the nation. I imagine that before and after every battle, Naaman was thoroughly examined by a team of personal surgeons. Servants would have washed his body, cleaned and dressed every wound, and carefully attended to his every physical need.

Naaman no doubt had the unflinching gaze of a blooded warrior. He surely had the swagger of a man of power. He used his resources and position to present an image of health. And from a distance he probably looked perfectly healthy. He managed to keep going. He managed to keep working. He managed to rise in power and influence. Naaman managed his condition.

There was a "place" (2 Kings 5: 11) on his body that could not be managed.    There are places in our lives that are stained by sin.  We try to hide them and manage them, but these issues just won't go away.

Naaman was managing his condition, but ultimately he was going to either die with leprosy or die from leprosy.

Mark 8: 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?


But our peers in the world seldom tell us that. No. We are too profitable to them as we are.

Have no doubt that there are people in your circle of so-called friends who will not be happy to hear that you got saved. There are people who prefer to have you addicted, distressed, depressed, indebted, angry, weak, and dishonest. When they are gaining victory by you, they will not call you unclean.

The Syrian king did not offer a cure for his general’s condition. None of the captains or lieutenants in Syria sought to deliver their commander from his uncleanness. Few if any of your unsaved peers will speak honest conviction/ diagnosis. Often God has to send someone outside of your circle or social station.

In 2 Kings 5: 2-4, a slave girl from Israel shared a word about the prophet in Samaria (Israel) who knew how to make Naaman clean. If you look around, you’ll probably realize there’s someone like that in your life---somebody who invites you to come hear the man of God/ the woman of God, somebody you may not generally take seriously who invites you to church, to Bible study, to Christ.

When you hear that invitation, you can ignore it. You can say,

“I’m fine. I know how to handle this. “

“I got my addiction under control. I can quit whenever I want to.”

You can try to keep your sin from coming out or from getting too bad.

You can manage your sin. But you’ll still be a sinner, and ultimately you’ll die in your sins, and you may even die from your sins.

Naaman accepted the invitation and went to see the preacher, the prophet Elisha.   But, before Naaman reached Elisha’s home, the prophet sent a messenger with the instruction for a cure.

And did  Naaman thank the messenger? No. Actually he didn’t. Naaman was ticked. Naaman was mad for one of the main reason we get mad when we go to church.

Elisha had told Naaman to “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” (2 Kings 5: 10) The number 7 often represents completeness or perfection in the Bible. So, spiritually, Elisha was telling Naaman to go down under the water until he was completely delivered. It would not be spectacular or fun. It would not look good on a resume. It would be unpleasant, muddy, and tedious.

That wasn’t what Naaman wanted.

2 Kings 5: 11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’

That’s how we want to be healed. We want to go to church and come to the altar. We want the preacher to wave his hands, call on the name of the Lord and declare us “Healed and delivered!”

We come to church weighed down by the pressure of trying to manage our issues and we want the preacher to make it all better—in 20 minutes or less.

God can, God has, and God does still heal instantly. God can, God has, and God will grant immediate deliverance for some from bonds that have held them for years.

But God doesn’t always choose to do things instantly. Sometimes God’s Word for healing is:

“Stop eating pork rinds and doughnuts.”

“Pray and study your Bible every day.”

“Take your medicine.”

“Fast and listen.”

“Go do the muddy, tedious, spiritual work of ministry and accountability over and over and over until you are completely cleansed.”

Again, your unsaved peers probably won’t tell you this. They’ll say, “If you can’t get what you need, I don’t see why you keep going to that church.”

Fortunately, Naaman listened not to his lieutenants, but to his servants.

2 Kings 5: 13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

Naaman washed.  After going under all of the times he had to, Naaman was healed.

You can manage the sin in your life. You can try to keep it under cover. You can try to keep it secret. But if you never deal with your issues as what they are—sin, you will never be free from the pain. You may have an entourage that strokes your ego, but you will still be sick in your soul.  You'll still be a spiritual leper.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Mothers (and fathers) matter. For good or for evil, parents leave a legacy for their children that has consequence for the child, the parents, and for eternity. Listen to a comparison of two sons and two mothers. From the New Testament, to the Old Testament, and into your life, the Lord sends a powerful Word for mothers, for fathers, and for all who love a child.

Hear it all in Pastor Anderson Graves II's Mother's Day Sermon 2010.

Touching the Untouchables, pt. 2: IGNORING THE DIAGNOSIS

In 2 Kings chapter 7, the city of Jerusalem is besieged by the Syrian army. Ultimately God works a miracle on behalf of Jerusalem. He causes the entire Syrian army to abandon their siege and flee back to their own country.

Jerusalem, where the Temple of the Lord was built, represents the church. Syria represents paganism and the culture of the world that is opposed to the gospel.

Now, look at who’s outside the city of Jerusalem, between the boundaries of the church and the enticements of the culture.

2 Kings 7: 3 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.”

The 4 lepers, exiled and unwelcome within the city/ within the church, see themselves in a dilemma. They look at what’s going on inside Jerusalem/ inside the church and they are not impressed. There’s famine on the inside. The people on the inside have their own and problems.

Outside, in the streets of the world there’s danger. But, the lepers decide that they might as well surrenders to Syria/ the world. They never deal with the fact that neither the problems inside the city nor the enticements in the enemy’s camp change the fact that they are lepers. They know there’s something wrong with them, but they ignore that and focus on what’s going on with everybody else. They never seek a remedy for their infection.

They ignore their condition.

When we mark people as untouchable, they watch us. Oh, they watch to see if we are really as holy inside the walls of the church as we imply ourselves to be.

When we personally are convicted that our sin has rendered us spiritually untouchable, we perform the same spiritual comparison. Unfortunately, we often decide to focus on what’s wrong with everybody else instead of dealing with our own spiritual infection.

We’ve been told that we are sinners, but we choose to ignore the diagnosis.

The 4 lepers don’t seek a cure. They don’t ask for treatment. They decide that they might as well surrender to the enemy’s forces.

When we ignore the diagnosis of spiritual uncleanness, it is easy to just go all the way into sin, to say, “Whatever,” and surrender to all the temptations of the enemy.

2 Kings 7: …”Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.”

When the lepers get to the Syrian camp, they find it abandoned. They eat and drink and carry off property back to their lepers’ camp.

When we surrender to the world, it at first seems profitable.

Mark 8: 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

But then conviction sets in. Our conscience pricks us.

2 Kings 7: 9 Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household.”

They share their stuff. They do the right thing. The unclean can act with decency, but if they never deal with the actual sin, even after they’ve done that god thing they’re still spiritually unclean.

These lepers had money they could not spend in the city. They had new, beautiful clothing they could not wear into the city. They had shared blessing with the church that would bless the people of God. But they were still untouchable. They had dealt with everybody else’s condition but ignored their own. They were still going to die from in their uncleanness.

While we are yet in sin we can do the right thing, even things that greatly bless the church, but if we never deal with the actual germ of sin in our lives, if we never receive the cure of Christ, we will die in your sin and never get inside Jerusalem.

Like the 4 lepers of 2 Kings chapter 7, we can choose to ignore our spiritual uncleanness.

Other people try to get along with their sinfulness. They try to manage their spiritual leprosy.

Read 2 Kings chapter 5.

Next Time:


Thursday, May 6, 2010


“Ewwww! You got cooties!”

All it takes is one kid to make the diagnosis. Not sure what training that child receives to recognize the symptoms of cooties, but once someone is marked as having cooties, playground rules kick in.

The other little kids on the playground point and run. They laugh and squeal as only little kids can. A few cover their faces to avoid contamination and tip-toe-hop backwards as though even the ground around the accused cootie-carrier is tainted. If the accused rolls a ball toward the crowd, the gathered kids part and let it roll past, because “If you touch what someone with cooties has touched, then you get cooties, too.”

In the center of all this is a child—. Alone. Abandoned even by her best-friends-for-life., she cries. She pleads. She raves.

“Stop it! I don’t have cooties! Come on. Play with me……please!”

But no one will. No one will roll the ball back to her. No one will hold her hand when the teacher tells them to line up so they can walk back to class. She’s got cooties. She is untouchable.

It’s a sad but common scene on the playground. It’s even sadder and more common in the adult world.

Like thoughtless children, we adults, including we church folks, point out certain people around us, squeal, “Ewwww!” and mark them as untouchable.

In contemporary America, our untouchables include prostitutes, drug addicts, the mentally ill, AIDS patients, homosexuals, the homeless, and all those whose sins are obvious to the public. These people are the modern version the original untouchables--- those people the Bible called lepers.

Lepers suffer from the disease of leprosy. In the Bible lepers represented the epitome of uncleanness. In the books of Numbers and Leviticus, God directed His people to exile anyone found to be a leper. Even the things the leper touched were considered contaminated. If someone touched the cloth a leper had touched, he/she was quarantined and considered unclean for a week. Lepers were completely “untouchable.”

Today we understand that leprosy (aslso known as Hansen’s disease) is caused by a bacteria (Mycobacterium lepromatosis). The germs attacks the peripheral nerves, mucous membranes, and upper respiratory tract. Sores, boils, and skin lesions are the primary external symptoms. Left untreated, the disease can cause permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes, leading to disfigurement, blindness, and death.

Though lepers have been around for over 4,000 years, no effective treatments were available until the 1930’s. Before that, if you were a leper, you died from the disease or you died with the disease.

In other words, if you were a leper, you were doomed to be forever untouchable.

By the Mosaic law, leprous untouchables lost all benefits connected with being a child of Israel. The king and his armies did not protect them. They could not share in the material prosperity of the people living in the cities of Israel. They could not even participate in the sacrifices of the tabernacle or temple. Therefore lepers could not receive atonement for their sins.

Leprosy then represents unforgiven sin and unrepentant sinful lifestyles, because our sinfulness separates us from God and disqualifies us from all of His benefits. In this sense, though we mark certain people as untouchable, our sins render all of us spiritually untouchable to God.

Isaiah 64: 6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

We are all unclean before God, and nothing in our exiled state can atone for our sins. Our untouchable condition is as incurable as a leper’s condition in ancient Israel.

And nobody wants to hear that. Nobody wants to hear you diagnose them as “a sinner.” Nobody want to hear that he/she is doomed to death (Ezekiel 18: 20a) and exile from God (2 Thessalonians 1: 8, 9; Revelations 22: 11, 12).

But, if we understand how the lepers of the Bible dealt with their condition, we can understand some things about ourselves and the untouchables around us.

How did/ do lepers typically react to their diagnosis? Generally in one of 3 ways:

1. We ignore our condition.

2. We manage our disease.

3. Or we deny the diagnosis.

Read 2 Kings 7: 3-10.


Saturday, May 1, 2010


In the last week, civil rights leaders Benjamin Hooks and Dorothy Heights both died.  Their consistent contributions to social justice and progress helped produce the politico-social environment out of which America elected an African-American president.  Yet, neither Dr. Hoks nor Dr. Heights were among the household names of civil rights leaders.  Dr. Heights especially was all but anonymous to the general public.  Dr. Hooks and Dr. Heights were great persons, yet, by contemporary standards of celebrity, they were not very popular.

Hearing the retrospectives on these two great lives, I began wondering:  What is the difference between popularity and greatness?

I think that the difference lies in how the popular vs. the great treat our problems.

Popular people tend to point out what's wrong with us.  Celebrity tells us that we are not rich enough or pretty enough or gangster enough.  Celebrities offer us a way to escape our poverty and ugliness and  lameness through fantasy and fandom.  It doesn't change anything, but by focusing on their popularity rather than our anonymity, we can forget our "problems" for a while.  Popular people point out problems and offer distractions.

But great persons point out problems and offer solutions.  Great persons help us to see where we are lacking.  They present or help us to formulate a plan for overcoming our issues.  And, great persons work with us and for us to actually change our lives.  Great persons show us our problems and offer solutions.

Had Dr. Hooks and Dr. Heights spent their lives simply railing loudly against the system they might have been more well-known.  Instead they committed their energies to laboring to improve the system.  They mentored serveral generations without demanding a shout-out from every protege.  They worked behind the scenes at times when they were entitled to a place at center stage.  They demonstrated the principle expressed by the greatest agent of social change in history.

In the gospel of Mark, chapter 9, verse 35, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

If you or I would achieve greatness, we must bandon the pursuit of popularity, and choose the path of servanthood.  Instead of trying to prove how much the massess need us, we must work to meet the needs of the masses and to empower them to meet their own needs.  In a sense, great persons labor to render themselves unnecessary.