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.