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Thursday, November 11, 2010


How long am I supposed to pray for the same thing? How do I know when I've prayed enough? Why is my answer taking so long?

These and related questions are answered in a sermon that links Jesus' parable of the widow & the unjust judge with the prayer life of the Old Testament prophet Daniel.

Listen and learn How Much Prayer is Enough.

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I am Rev. Anderson T. Graves II, pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church, 541 Seibles Road, Montgomery, Alabama.  To stay updated as new content is added to our webpage, become a subscriber.  Go to the Subscribe button in th sidebar.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


And I, for winking at you, discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punish'd.
---Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, Act 4, Scene

Exodus 32: 21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?”
22 So Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.”
25 Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies),

In the play Romeo & Juliet, there was a character called simply “The Prince.” He was the top authority in the town. Prince knew that there was a feud between the 2 great families of the town, but he didn’t do very much to stop it. Oh, Prince fussed a little, and he issued a rule that no one else could fight; but he didn’t reaaaallly hold anyone accountable until dead bodies started turning up. Even then, he didn’t sit down face to face with the roots of the problem and dig down to the dirty root of the issue. Basically, it was to the Prince’s advantage to “wink at” the problems so business would go on as usual.

Yesterday a pastor friend of mine said to me, “In our zeal as pastors to fill the pews we have allowed some things that never should have happened.” Basically, he was saying that we’ve winked at discord & sin in our churches.

He was right.

Like the Prince in Romeo & Juliet, we pastors know when there are problems in our churches but to dig deep into the issues might disrupt the growth curve of the congregation. It might cause some strong tithers to cut back or to stop coming. These aren’t inconsequential concerns. Every true pastor wants to build a great church so that he/she can present it as something beautiful to God. This is our life’s purpose. This is the work for which God will hold us accountable.

We want to be able to show God the commas on our financial sheets & the pages of names on our church rolls. We want to hear Jesus say, “Good job, Rev.” So sometimes we “wink” to keep our numbers high.

It’s what Aaron did. He knew the people request for an idol was wrong. Exodus 32: 25 implies that Aaron could have restrained the people, but he didn’t. Aaron winked.

“Moses, it wasn’t my fault. I had the gold. (I had the financial numbers.) I had the people all asking me for god. (I was popular with a large congregation.) Everything else just sorta .… happened. I just winked and there was this….calf.”

Aaron was the designated leader while Moses was away. Moses responded to his leader by demanding “Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!”

We can expect that the unconverted sinners in our congregation will sin. We can expect that the spiritually immature pew-member will fall from time to time. With them, we clearly & lovingly condemn their wrong while simultaneously showing grace by helping them, teaching them, and encouraging them in the struggle to do good. We don’t put them out for a single embarrassing act.

But, with leaders, we can no longer afford to be so tolerant. To whom much is given, much is required. It’s time to demand that church leaders, clergy & lay, to choose a side and stand on it.

It’s time for those who sign papers while pastor’s away to stop straddling the fence between righteousness & deception. It’s time for those who list themselves as “the other contact” when you can’t catch pastor, to quit shouting Sunday morning & cussing Sunday afternoon. It is time for us (pastors) to stop winking at the somewhat, slightly, kinda, not-quite-right GARBAGE our leaders do.

Hard as it will be. Risky as it is. It’s time for us to draw the sword of the Spirit and start cutting out some stuff (and some folks) from the ranks of church leadership.

“Well, dang, Rev. Ain’t that a bit ….aggressive?”

Yeah. It is. But it’s for the church’s own good.

Exodus 32: 35 So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.

Not the calf the people made. The calf that the leadership made.

What plagues have we endured in our churches because we have winked at sin among our leaders? Why are huge churches empty? Why are once thriving ministries now weak? Why are divorces more common than weddings? Why do couples openly live together and secretly get married? Why is it a struggle to convince a congregation to do ministry? Why do Christians look at you crazy when you ask them to do exactly what Jesus said we’re supposed to do? Why do we as a people make more money but have less money? Why are church memberships decimated by plagues of addiction, arrest, bankruptcy, internal strife, sexual sin, sexual abuse, jealousy, financial scams & scheming?


Because pastors wink.

I’ve watched this since I was a little, heathen boy in a country church. I’ve seen it as a young Christian trying to learn how to serve in his Savior’s church. I’ve looked at it as young minister and young pastor. I see it daily on the news. I’ve seen enough. My spiritual eyes hurt.

I’m through winking.