Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

May this season not only be a time of gift exchange, but a day of rejoicing over the greatest gift ever given. Jesus is our reason for celebration. Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Recap

Today, despite freezing temperatures which subsequently caused low attendance, we had a rewarding experience at both worship opportunities. Usually the third Sunday is Youth Sunday at GSJ and they blessed us tremendously. I preached a message from John chapter 1 verse 14, entitled “The Word Became Flesh.” The Lord blessed the preaching of His Word and the people were the better for it.

During the 8am service, we were blessed to have in attendance the Delaware State Basketball Team. They were in town the night before competing with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame for the first time in their school's history. Although they did not come away with a win, a lot was learned from the experience and more impressive than that, they made it a point to worship with a church in our community prior to leaving. We were extremely honored to be that church. They found us on the web thanks to Dr. R. G. Moore, Jr., Pastor of Union Baptist Church (, Dover, Delaware. It may have been blistering cold outside but, that was not the case inside. Special thanks to Brother Richard Armstrong who is responsible for the above photos. I truly thank him for capturing this moment for us. God be praised for showing Himself strong among His people.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Don't Waste Your Pulpit

I was watching this video by John Piper, Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota earlier today. It really gave me renewed perspective and purpose with regard to my preaching ministry. I was so blessed. Let me share it with you. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Newness of Life

As most of you are aware, I am currently teaching expositionally the Book of Romans each mid-week at GSJ. I must admit, this is my first time teaching this great book in my almost 11 years of pastoral ministry. Needless to say, it’s always good to explore, expound and engage in the fundamental truths of the Christian Faith. We are in the 6th chapter where Paul continues to write on the subject of justification by faith while explaining in specific details its application to daily living. In the previous chapters, much was said about man’s sin and God’s provision of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Now Paul seeks to explain our obligation to live a sanctified life in light of our new position in Christ.

Notice what Paul says in the opening verses:

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4 (ESV)

With the aforementioned thought in mind, allow me to share an excerpt of Warren Wiersbe’s treatment of the 4th verse in particular. This I believe will best explain in a nutshell our study of this marvelous passage.

“Historians agree that the mode of baptism in the early church was immersion. The believer was "buried" in the water and brought up again as a picture of death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism by immersion (which is the illustration Paul is using in Romans 6) pictures the believer's identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. It is an outward symbol of an inward experience. Paul is not saying that their immersion in water put them "into Jesus Christ," for that was accomplished by the Spirit when they believed. Their immersion was a picture of what the Spirit did: the Holy Spirit identified them with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. This means that the believer has a new relationship to sin. He is "dead to sin." If a drunk dies, he can no longer be tempted by alcohol because his body is dead to all physical senses. He cannot see the alcohol, smell it, taste it, or desire it. In Jesus Christ we have died to sin so that we no longer want to "continue in sin." But we are not only dead to sin; we are also alive in Christ. We have been raised from the dead and now walk in the power of His resurrection. We walk in "newness of life" because we share His life. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).” - Pause for Power

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Fellowship

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, ....... Psalm 92:1(ESV)

l to r: Min. Tate, Pastor Gathright, Pastor Witherspoon, Pastor McGhee, Min. Buggs

Today at GSJ, we hosted a Thanksgiving Day worship experience at 10am. We were blessed to have Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon & Bethlehem Baptist Church along with Pastor Cory L. Garthright & New Birth Christian Church in fellowship with us. Pastor Gathright preached a message from Psalm 100 encouraging us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord and to also serve Him with gladness in light of all He has done. The Lord blessed the preaching and the praising and we give Him thanks. I hope you are having a blessed and prosperous Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Reason to Give Thanks

Today was a great day of worship at GSJ. Due to holiday travel plans, cold temperatures etc. our attendance was low overall but we had great church. Since this is the last Sunday before Thanksgiving, I wanted to preach a message encouraging our membership to develop an attitude of gratitude for all God does for us on a daily basis. We should not just thank God for material blessings but also spiritual blessings. I received so many words of encouragement from the congregation as many expressed their appreciation for the message. After the service, one of the members reminded me of the last time I preached this passage. It was entitled “An Ex Leper Says Thank You” taken from Luke 17:11-19. It’s good to know that your sermons are recorded in the notebooks of some members of the congregation. She did tell me however that she received so much more this time around. To God be the glory. This time I preached a message entitled “A Reason to Give Thanks.” Here is the sermon outline:

A Reason to Give Thanks

Luke 17:11-19

I. An Awful Condition

a) Dire Circumstance

1) disfigurement (they were lepers) v.12

2) distance (they stood afar off) v.12

b) Desperate Cry (v.13)

II. An Amazing Christ

a) compassion (He saw them) v. 14

b) command (He said unto them) v.14

c) cleansing (as they went, they were cleansed) v.14

III. An Appreciative Convert

a) the return (he turned back) v.15

b) the rejoicing (loud voice glorifying God; fell at Jesus’ feet; giving thanks v.15b-16

c) the result (thy faith has made thee whole; go your way) v.19

Friday, November 21, 2008

Glamor Instead of Glory

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

I found today's meditation very thought provoking to say the least. Tell me what you think!

One ominous sign in the social structure that surrounds us is the false attitude toward anything that can be called "ordinary." There has grown up all around us an idea that the "commonplace" is old-fashioned and strictly for the birds!

This existing mania for glamor and contempt for the ordinary are signs and portents in American society. Even religion has gone glamorous!

In case you do not know what glamor is, I might explain that it is a compound of sex, paint, padding and artificial lights. It came to America by way of the honky-tonk and the movie lot; got accepted by the world first, and then strutted into the Church—vain, self-admiring and contemptuous. Instead of the Spirit of God in our midst, we now have the spirit of glamor, as artificial as painted death!

Say what you will, it is a new kind of Christianity, with new concepts that face us brazenly wherever we turn within the confines of evangelical Christianity. The new Christian no longer wants to be good or saintly or virtuous!

Renewed Day by Day: Volume Two – A.W. Tozer

Monday, November 17, 2008

Words of Reflection and Gratitude

Well, I must admit, the 5Th Year Pastoral Anniversary Celebration held in honor of my family and I on Sunday was second to none. The wonderful people of GSJ left no stone unturned as countless expressions of gratitude fell from their lips and many tangible gifts were given to demonstrate their appreciation. It’s always good to sit down and allow others to share reflections of your labor of love throughout the year. Pastors are so busy serving their congregations until it’s often difficult to remember everything we do. Thank God for people of faith who don’t mind bringing our labor back into focus as they praise God for His awesome providence.

We were blessed with the presence of several pastors and their congregations who shared with us in worship all day. Pastor H. Gregory Haygood of Pilgrim, South Bend, preached a message during 8am worship entitled,” When Your Faith Is on the Ropes” taken from Matthew 11:2-6. We were encouraged through the message to not allow our crisis to cause us to lose focus on Christ. Pastor Haygood is a premiere preacher who has been a big brother to me ever since my days at American Baptist College of A. B. T. Seminary in Nashville Tenn. He was instrumental in my becoming acquainted with GSJ and I truly thank him for his friendship.

Pastor Charles L. Emery, my father in the ministry and pastor of Pilgrim, Gary, Indiana, brought the message during our 11am worship. We had a hallelujah good time! There was not a dry eye or immobile person in the place. In everyday preacher jargon, he dumped the house. The message he shared came from John 21:15-17, entitled “The Shepherds Love for the Sheep.” I thank God for my pastor and what he has meant to me through the years. After 11am worship, we dined sufficiently in the lower level of our church where the culinary staff did not disappoint. The food was simply delicious. Were it not for one more service, I could have gone to sleep. You know how drowsy we get after a sumptuous meal.

At 5pm, our services continued with Pastor Ray E. Owens & Macedonia Baptist Church along with Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon & Bethlehem Baptist Church as our guests. Something special happened to me during this service. Our youngest child, Jared (9yrs.old) favored me with a surprise tribute that left me with tears of joy. When they asked for the person with the special tribute to come forward, the church went in with excitement as he mounted the podium. His tribute was confirmation I desperately needed because I never want to become too busy as a pastor that I fail at being a family man. Thank God I’m not failing in this area of my life.

The services concluded with Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon preaching like a man possessed. He came through like a rushing mighty wind. He is sho-nuff some preacher. The house had already been dumped before he arrived but one more dumping has never hurt anybody. The message he preached was entitled “The Gospel” taken from Romans 1:16. My brother preached my soul happy and I am yet to recuperate.

This day will go down as one of the most rewarding, refreshing and richest days I have ever experienced. I owe deep gratitude to the GSJ family in general and the Anniversary Committee in particular. You guys have certainly out done yourselves and I am so thankful to be your pastor. Let’s stay together for as long as God will allow. Love Ya!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Appreciation Sunday

Sunday, November 16, 2008 is the Annual Celebration of my Pastoral Ministry to Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church. It has been my privilege to serve this church as pastor/teacher for the past five years.

Our guests for this special occasion include: at 8am, Pastor H. Gregory Haygood & Pilgrim Baptist Church, South Bend, Indiana, at 11am, Pastor Charles L. Emery of Pilgrim Baptist Church, Gary, Indiana, at 5pm, Pastor Ray E. Owens & Macedonia Baptist Church, and Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon & Bethlehem Baptist Church of South Bend.

I am deeply humbled by our congregation’s willingness to honor us and am thankful for every kind expression. It is my sincere prayer that God will bless this day of celebration, and that He will grant us many more years of worshipping, witnessing, working and walking together to the glory of His name and the edifying of His people.

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not thank my lovely wife Jennifer, who without her love, understanding, sacrifices and partnership, I could not have freely and joyously served GSJ these past 5 years.

Please pray God’s blessings on this celebration and I look forward to sharing some photos etc. in a few days. Peace!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Reasons The Justified Can Rejoice

Today was a great day of worship at GSJ. Despite learning of the violent passing of one of our young people prior to our 11am service, God, through the preaching of His Word and the fervent prayers of the righteous gave us strength to persevere. I preached a message entitled “Reasons the Justified Can Rejoice” taken from Romans 5:1-5. It reads:

1) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2) Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3) More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4) and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5) and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)

Here is a brief outline of today’s message:

Title: Reasons the Justified Can Rejoice

Text: Romans 5: 1-5

Thrust: Since we are justified (declared righteous and treated accordingly) by grace through faith apart from works, there are many benefits awaiting our enjoyment and edification.

I. Acceptance By God (v.1)

a) Peace with God (eirēnē) We have peace facing God. We are no longer at war with God. This peace takes care of our past and is both present and permanent. The moment we trust Christ for salvation, we experience peace with God once and for all. Colossians 1:20; 1Timothy 2:5, 6

II. Access to His Grace ( v.2)

a) Access or a way of entrance. This takes care of our present and is also present action and permanent standing. Romans 5:2; 1Peter 3:18; Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians 2:14; 18

A little lad once stood outside the gates of London's Buckingham palace. He wanted to talk to the king but was strongly rebuked by the royal guards. With his grimy little fingers, he wiped the tears from his eyes. At that moment, a well-dressed man asked the little lad what was troubling him. When the man heard the story, he smiled and said, "Take my hand." The boy took the man's hand and noticed that the soldiers jumped to attention when the man walked by them. Past the guards, along carpeted hallways, through wide-flung doors and a throng of people, the boy was led straight to the throne of the King of England himself. The lad had taken the hand of the Prince of Wales, the son of the king. Through the son, the lad had gained access to the throne. This is exactly what Jesus Christ has done for us. We not only have peace with God, we have access to God the Father.

III. Adversity To Grow

Tribulations which means "pressure, pressing together; oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress." This word was used to describe the pressing of olives to get the oil and of grapes to get the juice. John 16:33; Romans 8:28; Romans 8:35-39

a) Produces continuity v.3

b) Produces character v.4

c) Produces confidence v.5

We solicit your continuous prayers this week as we console our members during this trying time.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday Review

Sunday was an absolutely splendid day of worship at GSJ. I woke up with less anxiety and apprehension than normal because prior arrangements were made to allow Pastor Jim Mickelson, of Calvary Baptist Church, in Rhinelander, Wisconsin to preach our early service. He assisted me in a wedding ceremony the day before, so I asked him if he would preach our early service before returning home, to which he graciously obliged. He preached a message from Acts 19:12ff. Although I’m not at liberty to post his outline let me say that he was well received and the message was timely, terrific and thought provoking. To my surprise, this was his first time preaching to a predominately African- American Church Family, an honor that was greatly appreciated and cherished.

l to r: Mrs. Mickelson, Pastor Mickelson, Pastor & Mrs. McGhee

We were also blessed by the presence of staff and 180 youth from Camp Ray Bird, a Christian Ministry Camp that shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with “at risk” youth all across Michiana. Camp Director, Mike Houghtaling and I have met for food and fellowship on occasion and a spiritual bond has been formed between our church and the camp with many ministry opportunities forthcoming. Every year, at least once, we are favored with a visit from this remarkable group of campers, so we have grown accustomed to their being a part of our church fellowship. We continue to marvel at the manner in which the children behaved and were blessed to see them take an active role in worship. I am scheduled to visit Camp Ray Bird on Tuesday, and look forward to further involvement with this ministry as we explore ways to collectively advance God’s Kingdom together. Please keep this Ministry in your prayers and feel free to visit them on the web

This Sunday was also “Big Day” for our Sunday School Department. Each year efforts are made by our School membership to invite and encourage people within our church and possibly the unchurched who don’t normally attend Sunday school. It’s amazing how many people responded just because you asked. We praise God for the fruit of everyone's labor of love.

During the 11am service, I preached a sermon entitled “The Church That Advances God’s Kingdom,” taken from Matthew 28:18-20 which reads:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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. Amen. Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV)

The Lord moved in a Mighty way as HIS Word went forth. I felt real good about preaching this message because I’ve always challenged our church to never lose sight of our true purpose. We exist for the express purpose and the specific intent of glorifying God through the living out of His biblical agenda. There were several present who rededicated their lives to Jesus and have vowed to not just be members of the church but rather disciples of Christ. I certainly pray that God would impress upon others the urgency to do the same. Here is a brief outline of the message.

The Church That Advances God’s Kingdom

I. Functions Under the Authority of Christ

a) All power is given unto Me - v.18

II. Faithful to the Assignments of Christ

a) Evangelize ; Go (as you are going) v.19a

b) Enlist ; teaching all nations , make disciples; Baptize - v.19b

c) Equip ; Teaching them to observe all things – v.19c

III. Fortified by the Assurance of Christ

a) Lo I am with you always - v.20

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we will do the same. Peace!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

God's Glorious Gift

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

Tonight was the concluding night of a weeklong “Spiritual Roundup”, sponsored by the Senior Women’s Auxiliary of our Northwestern District Association, Pastor Steven R. Barnes, serves as Moderator.

Several area pastors along with their congregations gathered each night at GSJ for prayer, praise and preaching. This program was the first major initiative of our current Women’s President, Juanita Kyle. I was bestowed the honor of preaching the closing service and the Lord showed Himself strong in a mighty way. I preached a sermon entitled “God’s Glorious Gift” taken from Ephesians 2:8-9. The message served as a reminder that we who were once dead, depraved, dominated by Satan and in danger of God’s wrath, have now been delivered through the saving grace of God without any deeds of our own. Even though the text mentions grace and faith, and they are gifts themselves, the context of this verse, against the backdrop of the entire chapter, shows us that the glorious gift of salvation is the main thrust. Here’s a brief outline:

I. It Is Provided By Grace

II. It Is Procured Through Faith

III. It is Proven By Works

The atmosphere was filled with the sacrifice of praise and the aroma of rich Christian fellowship. I am so thankful to the members of GSJ, who worked untiringly to host our District this week. You guys are the best and pastor loves you.

Well, I must get some sleep because I have a full day on tomorrow. In the morning, we host our Annual Health Fair, and in the afternoon I will share in the wedding ceremony of a son of the church. Please pray that the Lord grant me renewed strength for tomorrow’s opportunities to serve Him. God Bless.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Walls of Resistance

I have a devotional in my library authored by Warren W. Wiersbe, entitled “Pause for Power: A Year in the Word.” It is becoming more of an invaluable tool day by day with wholesome nuggets and provocative food for thought. My meditation for today was no exception, so I'm taking the time to share it with you, my fellow blogging constituents. This meditation is tailored to encourage us not to allow the stronghold of pride to rob us of a clear Word from God.

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We . . . take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" – 2 Cor. 10:4-5

“There are walls of resistance in the minds of people, and these walls must be pulled down. What are these "mental walls"? Reasonings that are opposed to the truth of God's Word. Pride of intelligence that exalts itself. Paul was not attacking intelligence, but intellectualism, the high-minded attitude that makes people think they know more than they really do. Paul faced this "wisdom of men" when he founded the church (1 Cor. 1:18ff), and it had surfaced again with the coming of the Judaizers.

Paul's attitude of humility was actually one of his strongest weapons, for pride plays right into the hands of Satan. The meek Son of God had far more power than Pilate (see John 19:11), and He proved it. Paul used spiritual weapons to tear down the opposition—prayer, the Word of God, love, the power of the Spirit at work in his life. He did not depend on personality, human abilities, or even the authority he had as an apostle. However, he was ready to punish the offenders, if necessary, once the congregation had submitted to the Lord.

Many believers today do not realize that the church is involved in warfare, and those who do understand the seriousness of the Christian battle do not always know how to fight the battle. They try to use human methods to defeat demonic forces, and these methods are doomed to fail.”

I needed this word because occasionally, I have to admonish those who because of stubborn pride have the unmitigated gall to reject clear biblical precepts. If we are not careful, we will wander aimlessly into the same trap. Don’t let it happen!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday In Indy

Sunday, I was pleased to worship with Dr. Wayne L. Moore & the Olivet Missionary Baptist Church of Indianapolis, Indiana. Sometime ago, he invited me to preach their 8am & 11am worship services. I was more than happy to oblige. We are quickly becoming good friends which is rare these days. I am grateful for the blossoming friendship and fellowship that Pastor Moore and I share, and pray vigorously for his continued prosperity. He recently accepted the challenge to serve as president of our State Convention and is doing a phenomenal job. His church really loves and respects him as pastor /teacher. Although much of the membership did not know me personally, the warmth and hospitality shown me and my family was second to none.

The Lord truly blessed our time in the Word as we shared during the 8am worship a message entitled “The Believers Profile” taken from Romans chapter one verse one. The congregation responded very well to the presentation and I was blessed to see former members of GSJ who relocated to Indianapolis and also those who have family at GSJ. Here is a sample of the outline:

The Believers Profile - Romans 1:1

I. Saved (was Saul: “big one”; now Paul: “little one”)

II. Slave (bond slave; servant)

III. Sent (sent by authority with a commission)

IV. Separated unto (separated out from unto; to have a new horizon)

At the 11am worship, I shared a message entitled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” using as a text, Matthew 6:25ff. The text cautions us not to fret over the basic necessities of life (i.e. what to eat; wear etc.). The thrust of the message was to discourage the sin of worry while encouraging believers to trust the providential Hand of God through faithful obedience to His Word. It was not my original intent to preach this message, however, God always knows what’s best. Since I am in His employ, it behooves me to adhere to His direction that He may receive the ultimate glory.

I am truly grateful to Dr. Moore & the entire Olivet Family for going all out to make us comfortable and solicit your prayers for my new friends in the faith. I am also pleased to learn that all was well at home. Special thanks to Rev. Fred Brown and Rev. Eugene Johnson for standing in my absence and the church for receiving them warmly. Pray for us as we start another work week. Our prayer is that God will grant us sufficient grace for the work awaiting us. God Be Praised!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Appreciating A Shepherd

Last evening, the family and I traveled to Gary, Indiana, to share with the Pilgrim Baptist Church who honored Pastor Charles L. Emery & Family with a 30th Year Pastoral Anniversary Banquet at the Genesis Convention Center.

The banquet was a culmination of services held the prior weekend as many pastors, elected officials, guest churches and sons in the ministry gathered to express appreciation, affection and adoration for his ministry to church, community and even the country. An honor was bestowed upon me to serve as Toastmaster for this great occasion. I was not sure how it would turn out seeing that I’ve never served in this capacity, but those present expressed appreciation for how smoothly we went along, so I am grateful. The theme for this occasion was “The Shepherd’s Love for the Sheep” taken from John 21:15-17 which says:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. John 21:15-17 (ESV)

Usually, pastors ask one of their ministerial colleagues to serve as keynote speaker for such occasions, however, Pastor Emery chose a different route this time. Mrs. Coraetta Rollins, a member of Friendship Baptist Church, Indianapolis, and one who has served as Leader of the Women's Auxiliary in The General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Indiana, did a marvelous job expounding on the theme and gave great encouragement to many of the pastors present. I have always respected this seasoned woman of God and her work in the church and convention speaks for itself. It was a joy to see her and hear her speak.

Pastor Emery is a prolific preacher, a dynamic leader, a visionary pastor and world renowned evangelist, who has touched the lives of countless people across the length and breadth of this country. I spent my formative years under his capable leadership and I am thankful to God for the many things I learned at his feet. I am the preacher, pastor and person I am today largely because of what God did through his influence upon my life.

We had a wonderful evening and all present came away thrilled that they were able to spend this time honoring such a great Man of God. Please pray for the continued success of Pastor Emery and his labor of love at the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Day In Your Courts

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psalm 84:10 (ESV)

Today at GSJ was yet another celebration honoring our Senior Ushers Ministry for faithful service to our church. The Lord blessed us with a rather jubilant worship experience during our 8am and 11am services. We have one of, if not the largest, group of ushers in our community and we work them very hard. Nevertheless, they always seem to step up to the plate and do us proud. To God be the glory for such an invaluable part of our overall church ministry. I solicit your continual prayers for them as they serve the Lord with gladness and stand for the Lord graciously in the sanctuary of our God.

I preached a message from Psalm 84 entitled “A Day in Your Courts.” Psalm 84 is a psalm of longing, longing for God's house, and it is by the Sons of Korah who were temple singers from the Tribe of Levi. Charles Haddon Spurgeon called Psalm 84 "one of the choicest of the collection." He wrote, "If the twenty-third be the most popular, the one-hundred-and-third the most joyful, the one-hundred-and-nineteenth the most deeply experimental, the fifty-first the most plaintive, this is one of the most sweet of the Psalms of Peace.”

I must confess this was not one of my easier attempts at exposition due to the many different interpretations of the text among several respected biblical theologians. Some believe this Psalm has a Davidic overtone even though there is no evidence to support it. Still others believe this Psalm highlights pilgrims making their way up to Jerusalem for one of the three annual feasts in the temple.

Although scholars do not all agree with respect to the origin of this beloved Psalm, the objective is abundantly clear, and that is, to emphasize the writer’s intense desire to worship God in the temple and the blessedness of dwelling in the House of God. If the sparrow can find a home there, and the swallow can make a nest for herself and her young, surely it will do us well to make our abode in His house a priority.

The congregation was challenged to not confuse the mere showing up for church with actual worship. Oftentimes we are guilty of coming to church for a couple of hours on Sunday, going through our regular routine without spending quality time worshipping God in the beauty of His holiness. We put so much emphasis on the place without regard to the very Person who makes the place special. I am so thankful the Lord led me to visit this passage and give Him glory for the fruit I’ve been able to witness already.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hidden Treasure

"We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2 Cor. 4:7).

Sometimes God permits our vessels to be jarred so that some of the treasure will spill out and enrich others. Suffering reveals not only the weakness of man but also the glory of God. Paul presented a series of paradoxes in this paragraph: earthen vessels—power of God; the dying Jesus—the life of Jesus; death working—life working. The natural mind cannot understand this kind of spiritual truth and therefore cannot understand why Christians triumph over suffering.

Not only must we focus on the treasure and not on the vessel, but we must also focus on the Master and not on the servant. If we suffer, it is for Jesus' sake. If we die to self, it is that the life of Christ might be revealed in us. If we go through trials, it is so that Christ might be glorified. And all of this is for the sake of others. As we serve Christ, death works in us—but life works in those to whom we minister.

Dr. John Henry Jowett said, "Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing." He was right. A pastor friend and I once heard a young man preach an eloquent sermon, but it lacked something. "There was something missing," I said to my friend, and he replied, "Yes, and it won't be there until his heart is broken. After he has suffered awhile, he will have a message worth listening to."

-Warren W. Wiersbe, Pause for Power: A Year in the Word

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My New Account

Today was another great day in the Word of God. I am currently teaching a verse by verse, section by section exposition of the book of Romans during our midweek services. We are in chapter four (4) where Paul illustrates the doctrine of justification by faith using two Old Testament heroes in Abraham and David. Abraham discovers justification by faith prior to circumcision and the giving of the Law thus we conclude that he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. David on the other hand describes justification by faith in that it is only for the ungodly. Paul’s point was that no one deserves nor can they earn justification by faith. Consequently, it is a free gift of God’s grace through faith in the finished work of Christ at Calvary. If one could earn salvation it robs God of glory and makes what Christ did for us of no effect.

One of the interesting things I pointed out to the class was Paul’s interchangeable use of the terms imputation, count and reckon which appear some eleven (11) times throughout the chapter. These terms mean to put or charge to ones account. They are financial terms which denote an action performed on someone else’s behalf. There are three major imputations in scripture. They are as follows:

1. Adam's sin was imputed to the human race.

Romans 5:12—Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

1 Corinthians 15:22—For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

2. Our sin was imputed to Christ.

Isaiah 53:5—But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:11—He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Hebrews 2:9—But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
1 Peter 2:24—Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

3. Christ's righteousness is imputed to us when we believe in Him.

Philippians 3:9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

2 Corinthians 5:21--- For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

I certainly hope this morsel of our journey through Romans prove beneficial to you as together we praise God for justification by grace through faith. Thank God my old account is settled and is no longer a factor and my new account is irrevocable. What an unspeakable gift!!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday Celebrations

Yesterday was our Annual Men & Women’s Day Celebration at GSJ. Our theme was taken from Phil. 1:27 (ESV) which read: Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.

Traditionally, this occasion held as its premise the raising of funds in the spirit of friendly competition. Since assuming the pastorate at GSJ, my goal has been to shift our focus from mere fundraising to faithbuilding objectives designed to foster biblical unity and to strengthen the role of men and women in our church. As you already know, suggesting that someone change or augment something they are accustomed to doing can be stressful but thank God for people who are open to change that will stimulate growth in our walk with Christ.

Rather than invite a pastor to share as our guest, we assigned a man and woman from the congregation to give meditative reflections on the theme during both worship experiences. I am pleased to report that everyone who shared was a blessing and benefit to the congregation and we will be a stronger church because of it. Our chairpersons are to be commended as well as anyone who had a hand in making this day memorable. I pray that the fruit of their labor blesses us continually for years to come.

During the 11am service I had to leave and head over to share with my brother and fellow blogger, Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon, who celebrated two years of faithful service to the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Witherspoon is a dynamic preacher, visionary pastor and a preacher’s friend. I am thrilled to see the people of this great church shower him with love, honor and thanks for his stellar leadership. I preached a message entitled “The Wisdom Paul Preached” taken from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Here is the outline:

Title: The Wisdom Paul Preached

Text: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Thrust: Paul makes his methods, message and motives clear to those who question his preaching prowess so that the believers will know that their faith in God’s power and not man’s wisdom was his chief concern.

I. The Method Paul Expressed

a) The words uttered v. 1;4

b) The weakness used v.3

II. The Message Paul Emphasized

a) The person of Christ v.2

b) The passion of Christ v.2

c) The power of Christ v.2

III. The Motive Paul Explains

a) That your faith be in God’s power v.5

Later that afternoon, GSJ, Pastor Isaac Culver & the Jerusalem Baptist Church along with other guests shared in the finale of this great celebration honoring Pastor Witherspoon and his Family. It was a great celebration and my prayer is that my brother will always prosper. Talk to you soon!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Our Daughter's Wedding

Our daughter, Courtney, married her sweetheart of 5 years, Jose Rodriguez on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 5pm. Jennifer and I can't get over how much our little girl has grown. This wedding ceremony was unlike any I performed in the past. It's always awkward when the bride is your daughter. Needless to say, we are ecstatic for the both of them and wish them many years of marital bliss.

Pictured left to right: Jose, Jennifer, Andre, and our daughter, Courtney

I'm so glad I finally got around to posting these photos. My wife would be so proud. Please pray for our daughter and new son as they share their lives together in meaningful matrimony. Special thanks to one of GSJ's finest, Bro. Howard Buchanon for serving as our photographer during this special evening. Blessings!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's In the Valleys I Grow

I received a card in the mail earlier today from a caring member of GSJ. The intent of this card was to encourage me to continue to fight the good fight of faith despite seemingly insurmountable pitfalls.

A glaring weakness of mine is hiding my frustrations associated with pastoral ministry. My expectations of the people whom God gave me oversight can be so unrealistically high, that the least deviation from desired behavior can be frustrating. Thank God for praying people in the pews who appreciate your ministry and have a vested interest in your success. The card was accompanied by a poem which inspired and invigorated me. The Lord always knows when to move on the heart of His people to be a blessing to you. The poem is entitled “It’s In the Valleys I Grow.” Let me share it with you. Enjoy!!

Sometimes life seems hard to bear,
Full of sorrow, trouble and woe
It’s then I have to remember
That it’s in the valleys I grow.

If I always stayed on the mountain top
And never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God’s love
And be living my life in vain.

I have so much to learn
And my growth is very slow,
Sometimes I need the mountain tops,
But it’s in the valley I grow.

I do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing.
My Lord will see me through.
My little valleys are nothing
When I picture Christ on the cross
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan’s loss.

Forgive me Lord, for complaining
When I’m feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it’s in the valleys I grow.

Continue to strengthen me, Lord
And use my life each day
To share your love with others
And help them find their way.

Thank you for valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know
The mountain tops are glorious
But it’s in the valleys I grow!

- Jane Eggleston

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Light of the World

Today at GSJ, we celebrated another year of service for the Children’s Choir. The third Sunday of each month is normally set aside to allow the children a more visible and viable role in corporate worship. What a joy it was to see the children in a unique way use their God-given talent to the praise of His glory. We were especially blessed with a musical rendition by Brianna Warren, one of our youth who is currently mastering the art of playing the piano. The church responded with great joy as her growth as a musician became extremely apparent.

I preached a message during our 8am service entitled “The Light of the World” taken from Matthew 5:14-16. My appreciation for this passage of scripture has deepened over the years and since it weighed heavily on my mind this week, I could not wait to preach it. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount, which happens to be the greatest sermon I’ve ever read, by the greatest preacher who ever walked this earth (Jesus), is one of my favorite New Testament discourses. After sharing with His disciples the character which should color one’s conduct in kingdom living, Jesus proceeds to let them know who they really are and what He expected of them. Here is the Sermon Outline:

Title: The Light of the World

Text: Matthew 5: 14-16

Thrust: One who names the name of Christ must have conduct that is consistent, continuous and conspicuous for the world to see and God to be glorified.

I. The People of the Light

A. The Light Identified v.14a

1) Jesus is the Light of the world (John 8:12; John 9:5)

2) You are the light of the world (Eph. 5:8; John 12:36; Matt. 6:22; Rom. 13:12; 1 John 1:7)

a. the poor in spirit (v. 3)
b. those who mourn (v.4)
c. those who are gentle (v.5)
d. those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (v.6)
e. those who are merciful (v.7)
f. those who are pure in heart (v.8)
g. those who are peacemakers (v.9)
h. those who are persecuted (v.10-12)

B. The Light Illustrated – v. 14b; 15a

1) a city on a hill

2) a candle in the house

II. The Power of the Light

A) To dispel darkness

B) To determine direction v. 15b

III. The Purpose of the Light

A) Your good works exposed v.16

B) God’s name exalted v.16

During the 11am worship we had a special guest minister, Rev. Derick Buggs, Associate Minister from the Bethlehem Baptist Church here in South Bend, where my brother and fellow blogger, Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon serves as pastor. Using as a text, Jeremiah 29:10-14, he challenged our youth to trust God’s plan and promises for their lives regardless of the pain life gives or the peer pressure they will face. Rev. Buggs, under the teaching of his pastor is becoming a solid, sound and strong preacher of the Gospel. Special thanks to Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon for sharing his son in the ministry with us this Lord’s Day.

After church, I headed to Bethlehem Baptist Church for dinner upon the invitation of the pastor as they concluded their Annual Senior Day. Truly, this has been a full day and I can’t wait to recuperate on Monday. Pray that the Lord refreshes, reinvigorate and renew me for the responsibilities of this coming week.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Walking Sermons

With every passing moment of my life, the urgency to live for God’s glory, and to allow my walk with Him to be a witness to unbelieving humanity becomes paramount. Truth be told, we don’t always know whose watching us. Consequently, it behooves us to remain cognizant of what our daily lifestyle says about our walk with Christ. Paul, in his second epistle to the Corinthians, says:

"Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." -2 Cor. 3:3(KJV)

With that in mind, let me end this brief post by sharing an inspirational piece by poet Edgar Guest:

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I’d rather one would walk with me than merely show the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and much sharper than the ear.
Fine counsel can confuse me, but example’s always clear.
The lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saturday & Sunday Thoughts

The Gospel Chorus of GSJ celebrated 70 years of faithful service to our church this past weekend. We were blessed to hear songs of Zion led by past and present members during a Reunion Concert held on Saturday evening. What a time we had as the atmosphere was filled with the praises of God’s people in worship. One former member, Helen Barham, traveled from the state of Tennessee to be with us and we were truly blessed by her presence. Please pray that God will continue to prosper this integral part of our Music Ministry.

Today at GSJ was a rather challenging preaching experience for me. I continued my sermon series out of 1 Corinthians, chapter 9; a very difficult chapter to preach where you serve as pastor. Regardless of what disclaimer you use, there will always be someone to question your motivation. Even though I’ve preached from 1 Corinthians for a few months now, there are some who accuse you of asking for a raise as if more money for faithful diligence in the Word is an anti-biblical concept. Nevertheless, I valiantly pressed on to follow Paul’s train of thought as he continues to address one of several questions the Corinthians asked of him.

Previously in chapter 8, Paul began to answer their question concerning meat offered to idols. After initially agreeing with the strong whose line of reasoning was not against biblical principles, he cautioned them to not use their christian liberties to offend the weak. While eating meat was not a sin in and of itself, it can become hazardous to the spiritual well being of the weak. Therefore, we must forgo the exercising of our right to eat meat lest we force the weak to violate their own consciences.

In chapter 9 Paul further illustrates this principle by reminding them of his own experience. He begins the opening verses defending his apostleship as he was flanked with underserved criticism from his enemies because of the message he preached, ministry methods he implemented and his refusal to exercise certain apostolic privileges. This led him, however, to remind the Corinthians of some rights he willingly refused so that the gospel is preached without obstruction. Although it was Paul’s apostolic right to receive generous compensation for service rendered, he labored among the Corinthians for three years without a salary. This was brought to their attention not to extort money from them, but to further drive home the fact that sometimes we must voluntarily surrender that which we know we are entitled so that an example of selfless sacrifice can be displayed for others to imitate.

Truly the Lord saw us through as we shared this message in a rather unorthodox way. With that said, I don’t necessarily have an outline I can share. It was one of those Sundays, if you know what I mean. According to some members I talked to following the services, it did not impede their ability to get the point of the passage, for that I am grateful.

We concluded the afternoon with lunch at a local establishment called ‘Trios’ with the Gospel Chorus. There we continued in wholesome fellowship before returning home for the day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Name the 'King' Gave

I am currently reading Dr. David Jeremiah’s devotional entitled, Signs of Life: Back to the Basics of Authentic Christianity. In the meditation entitled “Turn on the Lights” he refers to a short story he found in a devotional by Kim P. Davis with Beth Moore, called, Voices of the Faithful: Inspiring Stories of Courage from Christians Serving Around the World (page 164). It stresses the importance of letting our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven, Matthew 5:16. Let me share the inspiration I received today. It reads:

"A missionary named Gerri told of working in an African town. One day exciting news reached her. The Lozi king is coming to attend church services and to eat at her house. As far as Gerri knew, the king usually didn’t visit private homes, and word of his upcoming visit spread through the town like wildfire.

When the day finally arrived, the king entered Gerri’s house. She explained in the Lozi language that she was a missionary and that, in Lozi, the name Gerri sounded like “Jelly” because the “r” sound is hard for the people to pronounce. She boldly asked the king for a Lozi name. Though she didn’t know it at the time, such a request was against protocol, but the king smiled and said, “I’ll think about it.”

Later as he prepared to leave, the king said, “My wife and I have decided upon a name for you. It will be Liseli [pronounced lee-SHE-lee]. It means ‘light.’ Just as the sun gives light and life to plants, animals, and people, I want God’s Word to be life and light to the people of Western Province.”

Gerri later wrote,” I was stunned and pleased to receive this blessing. After the king left the room, a lady seated nearby privately said, ‘Ah, you are a very lucky woman to be given a name by a king.”

Well, the King of Kings has given you a name – and it’s LIGHT! (pp. 14-15).

May the glorious light of God's presence shine through our very lives so that there is no question as to who we are or Whose we are.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What A Fellowship

Last evening my brother, Pastor Keith D. Witherspoon and I, had the awesome blessing of traveling to Grand Rapids, MI., for worship with Pastor Decarto Draper Jr., and the Bethlehem Baptist Church during the second night of their “Power-Pac Revival 2008."

We were encouraged, empowered and enriched as we heard the teaching and preaching of Dr. Clifton Rhodes Jr. of Messiah Missionary Baptist Church(, Grand Rapids, MI. and Pastor Marvin E. Wiley of Rock of Ages Baptist Church(, Maywood Ill.

Dr. Rhodes was the featured lecturer who stirred us up immediately by challenging us to evaluate our spiritual posture before God. He stated that in order for us to accomplish this feat we must begin with an honest assessment of our obedience to the word and discipline in prayer. Pastor Rhodes is a seasoned preacher who can be a tremendous asset to the young Timothys of the gospel.

After music rendered by guest choirs, we were ready to hear preaching from Pastor Marvin E. Wiley. He preached a message entitled “It’s All Good” taken from Psalm 119:71. As a young pastor, I was really locked in, not only because he is one of my pastoral heroes, but because he really encouraged us to develop a deeper appreciation for God’s word while facing various afflictions in life. I don't have to tell you that serving the Lord has it's share of bumps and bruises, but God will deliver us out of them all. The message ended with a brief testimony highlighting how God’s faithfulness and the love of his beloved congregation helped him in recent physical afflictions. God always come through for us when we stand on His word.

We were able to further cherish this rare opportunity to glean from these men over dinner as we discussed church life, mutual friends and ministerial philosophies which proved to be simply delightful. I came away from the experience of fellowship more determined to improve my stewardship toward God as it relate to my church and the whole of life. God Be Praised!!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Righteousness of God

My first Wednesday back from vacation was indeed special. I was greeted with resounding applause as I walked into the educational wing of our church to lead noon and evening bible study. It’s really precious to know when you are away that people sincerely miss you and can’t wait to tell you how much they appreciate the ministry God has given you.

We resumed our study of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. In recent weeks we had discussed the wickedness of man in his depraved state and have concluded that all men are under sin. Whether we are Jew or Gentile all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. We continued our exploration of this rich doctrinal treatise, finding ourselves in chapter 3; verse 21-22; where Paul says:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: (ESV)

Paul is expanding upon his thesis for the whole book which you may recall was eloquently stated earlier in chapter 1 verse 17. It says:

For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (ESV)

Having already succeeded in arguing that there is none righteous no not one in 3:10; Paul now makes it known that the only way we can become righteous is through faith in the finished work of Christ at Calvary. What the law, circumcision or any other thing could not perform has been provided through Christ who is the righteousness of God promised and revealed.

We had such a wonderful feasting of God’s word that time ran right past us. Truly, this was a fruitful day in the word as we praised God for His unspeakable gift of salvation made available to us all.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another Great Sunday

Yesterday, all roads led to the Rock of Ages Baptist Church (, a church serving two communities (Maywood and Bolingbrook) Illinois, where Rev. Marvin E. Wiley serves as pastor.

Prior to arriving, I had already determined which of the three services I would attend. Others who had the experience prior, warned me to get there early because failure to do so would make it hard to find convenient parking or comfortable seating. When I opened the door, I was immediately met with the warmth of hospitality and because I had arrived too early, was escorted to the chapel where I could watch the conclusion of the prior service via teleprompter. You should have seen the anticipation plastered upon my countenance as I eagerly anticipated hearing one of my homiletical heroes.

Pastor Wiley is a preacher par excellent, a visionary pastor, well sought after evangelist and one of nicest people you will ever meet. I just knew he would be in town so after worship began, I waited for him to enter the sanctuary when I learned that recording artist, Darius Brooks, formerly of the Thompson Community Singers, is the minister of music, so you know the church was set ablaze with the worship and praises of God’s people.

The service was in high gear from the start, making preaching very easy. Before long my greatest fear happened. Someone who was not the pastor walked out and sat in his seat. During my bout with disappointment, I did not immediately recognize this individual. It dawn on me that it was Pastor Decarto Draper, Jr., pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Mi.

Pastor Draper is a powerful young preacher-pastor who is one of Pastor Wiley’s sons in the ministry. He really brought it as he preached a message from II Corinthians 12:7-10 entitled “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” The message was well received and really ministered to hurting people who suffer God-given thorns to keep them humble while serving faithfully. Although I was initially dejected and disappointed that Pastor Wiley was a no show, Draper rose to the occasion and God used him in a mighty way.

It was a great day of celebrating God’s unmerited favor upon us in a multiplicity of ways, and I am truly thankful to be one of His today.

P.S. Continue to keep us in your prayers. My vacation has ended so you know what that means. Peace!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

God's Minute

The late Dr. Benjamin Mays, a noted teacher, preacher, dean of Howard University School of Religion, president of Morehouse, and outspoken critic of segregation prior to the modern Civil Rights Movement, penned a short poem which has giving me great inspiration the past few days. It's entitled "God's Minute" and goes like this:

"I have only a minute, only sixty seconds in it, forced upon me, can't refuse it, didn't seek it, didn't choose it. But, it is up to me to use it I must suffer if I lose it. Give account if I abuse it, just a tiny little minute-but eternity is in it."

While reflecting on this morsel of inspiration, against the backdrop of all that's happening in our world, I have to remind myself that time is a precious commodity. We do ourselves a terrible disservice by wasting it on frivolous ideals, instead of focusing on things with eternal consequence.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Awesome Sunday

Today, I had the distinct pleasure of worshipping with two churches within the Kalamazoo, Michigan area. Most of my fellow bloggers are aware that I am in the midst of a long overdue vacation from the rigors of pastoral ministry. However, I could not resist the opportunity to witness two of my pastoral colleagues lead their congregations in worship.

This morning my family and I traveled an hour and a half to worship with Pastor Addis Moore & the Mt. Zion Baptist Church ( during their 7:45am service. Pastor Moore preached a message from a current series entitled "Going for the Gold" using as a foundational text, the gospel of Luke chapter 9 verse 23. During the message, He challenged the congregation to commit themselves totally to following Jesus, taking into consideration the cost. The lost soul and following Jesus was liken to the gold that Olympians aggressively pursue no matter the sacrifice or inconvenience. Pastor Moore is doing a great work and I solicit your prayers on his behalf.

Later, we worshipped with Dr. J. Louis Felton & the Galilee Baptist Church ( during their 10:30am service. It's been a while since I've heard Dr. Felton preach and he did not disappoint. I must admit showing up unannounced was rather risky knowing that he is one of America's most sought after evangelists, and the possibility that he might not be in town, but, the suspense subsided when I saw him enter the sanctuary. He is truly a prolific preacher and visionary pastor.

Dr. Felton preached a sermon entitled "Children of a lesser god" in which he used an assortment of scripture references including John 8:44-47; Exodus 20:1-6 and the theme verse for the year, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6. In the message he says:

" The struggle of our Judeo-Christian set of values is largely played out against the context of the struggle between the concepts of God. We are surrounded by secular influences every day that we live. The vestiges of false gods are around us in every place in life. Therefore in order to understand our pilgrimage of faith, we must understand what it is that God has delivered us from in order for us to realize what God is delivering us through and to."

Furthermore, the message challenged us to rid ourselves of the gods we tend to cling to so that we can serve God faithfully, and without reservation. Continue to pray for Dr. Felton & the Galilee Church, as they strive for excellence in ministry.

Praise God for the privilege of feasting on His word without the burden of preaching, teaching, ministering or any other labor of love associated with pastoral leadership. Besides, I enjoyed spending time in the pew with my family and lending my ear to them as they shared their worship reflections.

Upon leaving church, we shared dinner together and enjoyed a safe ride back to South Bend. Truly, I am grateful for God's faithfulness, loving-kindness and the prayers of my family of bloggers, as I further savor my vacation and family time. Blessings!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Annual Tent Service & Picnic

Each year on the 3rd Sunday of August, the Greater St. John Church Family engages in worship outside under a tent. This affords us an opportunity to evangelize the surrounding neighborhood with the preaching of the gospel, the singing of hymns and spiritual songs and Christian fellowship. The attire was casual thus disarming anyone who had an excuse for not attending.

We began the day with Sunday school at 8am instead of our regularly scheduled early morning service, followed by the tent service at 10am. More than 500 people were able to worship with us and the weather was superb. Various ministries were able to participate including our youth choir and for the first time, The Stepping for Christ Drill Team.

I preached a message entitled "The Secret to My Satisfaction" from Philippians 4:13. The outline is as follows:

I. An Awesome Reality - "I can"

II. An Available Range - "do all things"

III. An Adequate Resource - "through Christ who strengthens me"

Despite some microphone issues and the aroma of meat cooking in the background, which proved to be stiff competition, the Lord blessed the preaching experience. The message was said to be timely as the lives of many were blessed. We were also blessed to welcome 5 new souls to the family.

Following the service, we broke bread together as friendships were developed and old acquaintances renewed.

I have some pictures to share, but unfortunately, I'm experiencing a few technical difficulties, and will have to upload them in the near future.

One more thing, I will be on vacation from my pastoral responsibilities for the next two weeks. This will allow time for reflection, rest and revival. I will not return to the pulpit until the first Sunday in September. Thank God I finally decided to be good to myself. God Be Praised!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Church Website

After several months of hard work and faithful planning, our church website has been launched.

We praise God for allowing this dream to come into fruition, and anticipate the opportunity to bless both saint and sinner alike. Your prayers are encouraged as this avenue of ministry is a work in progress, and is yet to evolve into something great to the praise of His glory.

Please feel free to pay us a visit. There is a link for your convenience (picture) located in the right hand column of this blog. Take a peek, tell me what you think. Blessings!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Newlyweds ( Laughter)

As a pastor, very seldom do I get a chance to really laugh. Just recently, an opportunity was afforded me when I received an email from a pastoral colleague out of town.

Laughter is good, especially when you consider the occupational hazards associated with pastoral life. I sincerely hope that you can use a good laugh, if not, than use this as a good teaching or sermon illustration.

A young couple decided to wed. As the big day approached, they grew apprehensive. Each had a problem they had never before shared with anyone, not even each other.

The Groom-to-be, overcoming his fear, decided to ask his father for advice. Father, he said, I am deeply concerned about the success of my marriage. His father replied, don’t you love this girl? Oh yes, very much, he said, but you see, I have very smelly feet, and I'm afraid that my fiance will be put off by them.

No problem, said dad, all you have to do is wash your feet as often as possible, and always wear socks, even to bed. Well, to him this seemed a workable solution. The bride-to-be, overcoming her fear, decided to take her problem up with her mom. Mom, she said, When I wake up in the morning my breath is truly awful.

Honey, her mother consoled, everyone has bad breath in the morning. No, you don't understand, my morning breath is so bad, I'm afraid that my fiance will not want to sleep in the same room with me. Her mother said simply, Try this. In the morning, get straight out of bed, and head for the kitchen and make breakfast.

While the family is busy eating, move on to the bathroom and brush your teeth. The key is, not to say a word until you've brushed your teeth. I shouldn't say good morning or anything? The daughter asked. Not a word, her mother affirmed. Well, it's certainly worth a try, she thought.

The loving couple was finally married. Not forgetting the advice each had received, he with his perpetual socks and she with her morning silence, they managed quite well. That is, until about six months later. Shortly before dawn one morning, the husband awakes startled to find that one of his socks had come off.

Fearful of the consequences, he frantically searches the bed. This, of course, wakes his bride and without thinking, she asks, What on earth are you doing? Oh, my, he replies, you've swallowed my sock!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Preaching Through Trials

Psalm 1:3 (KJV) - And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

I was on the phone earlier talking with a representative from Wordsearch (wordsearchbible), a Bible Software Company with headquarters in Austin, TX. He was giving me pertinent information relative to a new set of digital commentaries by Rod Mattoon.

While reading Mr. Mattoon's treatment of the above verse, I was arrested by his reference to a single page in John Wesley's journal. It reads:

Sunday A.M., May 5—Preached in St. Ann's; was asked not to come back anymore.

Sunday P.M., May 5—Preached at St. John's; deacons said, "Get out and stay out."

Sunday A.M., May 12—Preached at St. Jude's; can't go back there either.

Sunday P.M., May 12—Preached at St. George's; kicked out again.

Sunday A.M., May 19— Preached at St. Somebody Else's; deacons called special meeting and said I couldn't return.

Sunday P.M., May 19—Preached on the street; kicked off the street.

Sunday A.M., May 26—Preached out in a meadow; chased out of meadow when a bull was turned loose during the service.

Sunday A.M., June 2—Preached out at the edge of town; kicked off the highway.

Sunday P.M., June 2—Afternoon service, preached in the pasture; 10,000 people came.

- Mattoon's Treasures from Treasured Psalms, Volume 1

Mr. Mattoon further stated that "there is consistency in the life of the godly man. He is not up and down all the time. Life does not wither away the person of godly character because he draws his strength from the Lord." John Wesley drew his strength from God in difficult trials.

I don't know about you, but it blessed me so, I had to share it with you. The resiliency and rewards of God's people rest in the hands of Almighty God and our faithfulness to His word.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday In Review

Today, the preaching moment during both morning services was simply remarkable. I preached a message from James chapter 2 verses 1-13, entitled "The Danger of Playing Favorites" and the Lord had His way. For the second time in a row, I was able to overcome my recent preaching slump.

The thrust of the message was designed to discourage the sin of partiality that seems to make its way into the congregation of the righteous.

Drawing conclusions about people solely on the basis of superficial standards is strictly prohibited by God and can prove disastrous to the unity of any congregation. We should never determine a person's value or usefulness based on age, appearance or affluence, but rather by their walk before God and man.

I began the message making reference to an excerpt from an old issue of the popular devotional, Our Daily Bread, dated March 6, 1994. It reads:

In His autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during His student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered becoming a Christian. He believed that in the teachings of Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby Church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. However, when he entered the sanctuary, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested he go worship with his own people. Gandhi left the Church and never returned. He wrote, " If Christians have caste differences also, I might as well remain a Hindu."

I challenged the church to not allow the sin of respect of persons to defy our faith nor defame our fellowship so that it will not determine our future(judgment).

We ended our Sunday with an afternoon service featuring "The World Famous Barrett Sisters" along with a local singing group called "The Davis Trio." This concert is sponsored annually by our Student Aid Ministry of the church and proved to be a very rewarding encounter in praise to God.