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Homecoming Revival @ Antioch Baptist Church, Pennington, TX

This week, I was blessed to be able to preach the Homecoming Revival at the Antioch Baptist Church, Pennington, TX where Rev. Cornelius Harbin serves as the Pastor. This is my second year preaching this meeting, and just as I was last year, I was really blessed by the warmness of the fellowship, the way the people received the message each night, as well as the kindness showed by Pastor Harbin and other local pastors who came to support each night.

Pennington is a small rural community and Antioch is a picture of this community. They are loyal to their God, their families and their church. The support they show both in their presence and in their financial responsibilities to the church, is something to be proud of and one that many “big city” churches should emulate. God does not expect everyone to give the same amount, he does require that we all make the same sacrifice. Their labor of love and sacrifice is a testament to their reverence to God and ability to follow the leadership of their Pastor.

Please keep the Antioch Church and Pastor Harbin in your prayers that the Lord will continue to keep them.

 
 

Houston Metropolitan Minister’s Conference

Let me preface this post by confessing that historically, I have had little to no use for Minister’s Conferences. Please understand that I believe that there are godly, bible preaching Pastors who have led the minister’s conference where I am from in Newark, NJ, but the process of the “meetings” on Mondays have not been conducive to young pastors/preachers like myself. I just believe that if you are going to recruit young Pastor/Preachers to join and commit every Monday to the support of your conference, both physically and financially, there must be something for me to glean and take back to my local church to enhance the ministry and my preaching. But unfortunately, and I cannot speak for others, that had not been my experience. 

This post is not a personal attack on the minister’s conference from my hometown, but rather it is a both an admittance that maybe it was my own personal hangups that caused me to not have a positive experience with conferences, and most of all, an appreciation for the Houston Metropolitan Minister’s Conference, which I have recently become a member.

Since I have become a member of Houston Metropolitan, I can honestly say that I have been blessed and I believe my personal ministry has grown due to the quality of preaching, the richness of the fellowship of brethren, and most of all, the magnitude of it’s leadership, under the direction of our President, Dr. Samuel J. Gilbert, Sr. There has been a real sense of spirituality to every meeting that is refreshing for a gathering such as this. For me, I drive 2 hours every Monday from Crockett to Houston, and the brothers have made me feel like I was a part of the fabric of the Conference for years. Dr. Gilbert offers weekly “sage wisdom” to the Conference and provided personal counsel to me that has been invaluable as I continue to find my way through East Texas.

Today was an awesome day in the life of Houston Metropolitan, as it is not often that you can see the peaceful and powerful transfer of leadership, from Dr. Gilbert to his oldest son, namesake and Pastor, Dr. Samuel J. Gilbert II, as the new president of the Conference. Dr. Gilbert Sr, led the conference he founded for the last 20 years, and the Lord led him to retire and choose his son as his successor. What made the moment even more awesome for me, was how every member of the conference stood in agreement with the decision of Dr. Gilbert with no dissenting voices. God Be Praised!!!

Please pray for the Conference, our new President and his cabinet, and the continued success of Houston Metropolitan! I pray that all conferences in every city in America, would mimic the genuine fellowship and commitment to integrity and biblical excellence that is exhibited by the members of Houston Metropolitan Minister’s Conference.

 
 

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Repost From Thomas Rainer’s Blog by Andrew Webb “Common Problems In Modern Preaching”

Since my conversion in 1993, I’ve listened to a lot of sermons, ancient and modern, reformed and non-reformed, and I’ve noticed that every age in the church has had its own persistent problems in preaching – for instance ancient sermons commonly suffered from the spiritualizing of the meaning of every text, so that in every sermon a fish was never a fish, the moon was never the moon, a child was never a child, and so on. Puritan sermons, on the other hand commonly suffer from the over-reliance on the Ramist method and an overabundance of points and sub-points.

Modern preaching has its own problems, and while there are some commonalities, there are differences between the problems you are likely to see in reformed and non-reformed preaching. Here then are my observations on the common problems in both camps, I should stress this is just my opinion and is not intended to be exhaustive, and yes I’ve been guilty of some of these myself. I offer these lists in the hopes that they might be noted and avoided by preachers in the future!

Primary Problems in Modern Non-Reformed Preaching:

1. The topical series rules. There is little or no use of lectio continua and hardly any expository preaching.

2. Lack of solid exegesis. The text is a leaping off point rather than the basis of the sermon.

3. Scripture is seldom allowed to interpret scripture

4. Sermons require little or no understanding of the bible on the part of the listener

5. Emphasis on entertaining or impressing the congregation rather than exhorting them. Often there is actually a twisted symbiotic relationship between the preacher and the audience – he needs their approval and approbation so he tells them things that will provoke those responses. Too many preachers are actually closer to improvisational actors/comedians.

6. Unwillingness to say anything most Americans don’t already believe

7. Little or no law and precious little gospel.

8. Success is measured by how happy the audience was with the sermon rather than how convicted they were or the good fruit it produced. The goal is usually consumerist – success is making the customer happy so that they will continue to buy your product.

9. The majority of preaching centers on what the people are supposed to be enthusiastic about, but often these days sin (except the sin of judgment) is never discussed so that people are not offended.

10. As a result what is too often created is not the church, made up of called out, soundly converted, and assembled together saints, but a franchise that can comfortably be frequented by anyone with a spiritual bent.

Primary Problems in Modern Reformed Preaching:

1. There is far too little emphasis on connecting with the hearers.

2. Too many of our sermons are actually theological lectures, and our aim is usually to inform the mind rather than melt the heart.

3. Instead of an emphasis on impressing the audience with our personality via entertainment, our emphasis is on impressing the audience with our erudition via teaching. We want them to go away thinking, “Wow! I never knew that word had such an amazing semantic range in the original Greek. What a teacher our pastor is!”

4. We tend to make our hearers do too much of the work, and far too many of our sermons are actually unintelligible to non-Christians

5. We often forget that our preaching should have the same end as John’s telic note in John 20:31 – ” but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

6. We eschew Finney’s idea that conversion is the result of “the right use of means” but are sometimes stunningly unsupernatural in our own view of preaching. Instead of conversion being a supernatural work of the Spirit that must be fervently prayed for, we make it the result of the right understanding of information correctly imparted and received. Small wonder that so many of our listeners can explain theological doctrines but have no clue what Christ was really asking Peter in John 21:15-17.

7. We often act as though it doesn’t matter how good a communicator the pastor is and don’t see being stunningly boring as a problem. Sometimes we even view being uninteresting as a badge of honor, as though boring was the opposite of ear tickling.

8. Secretly, we also don’t want to upset our hearers, so the majority of our convicting fire is directed towards the sins found outside the church rather than within it.

9. Often the majority of our preaching follows the via negativa, we spend our time telling people what we are against, but not what we are for.

10. As a result what we too often create is “Fortress Church” – a dwindling and unapproachable bastion of the saints – and then wonder why no one from the world is coming to visit us.

 

 
 

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Sunday Report – May 4, 2014

Thank God for another First Sunday at The Luke! These Sundays are wonderful to me, as they are the days when the church can observe both ordinances of the church: Baptism and Holy Communion. We baptized three new members who have expressed an eagerness to serve. God Be Praised!

Today we began a new sermon series with a verse by verse Exposition of the New Testament book of Philemon. I entitled the series “Forgiveness Is Not An Option’. Many in the body of Christ have missed out on the good things the Lord has next in their lives and ministry because they are still holding onto some offense perpetrated against them, sometimes for decades. Paul teaches in Philippians 3, that we cannot move forward while looking back at the same time. Many times this unwillingness to forgive can cause division in families, friendships, business partnerships and yes even the church. In order for true healing to occur, forgiveness must happen! 

Philemon is a brief, yet powerful book which details the Apostle Paul, writing this letter to his fellow servant in the faith Philemon, regarding Philemon’s runaway slave Onesimus. Onesimus leaves the house of Philemon, taking goods with him on his way, ends up in Paul’s presence in Rome, who then converts the slave to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Paul writes this letter to Philemon to encourage him to not receive Onesimus as a slave, but as a brother in the faith. Today we lifted the first 7 verses of this great book.

Here is the outline:

Who Must Forgive

Thesis Statement: the one forgiven of their sins is the one who must be concerned with more than themselves

Transitional Sentence: characteristics of who must forgive

I. Has A Christ Centered Focus – v. 4-5

II. Has A Church Centered Focus – v. 5-7

The Lord added again to the church today! 

This afternoon, we traveled to the Lone Star Baptist Church, Trinity where my friend and little brother Pastor Isaac DeBose serves for their Choir Annual Day. The Lord really blessed both the worship and the exposition. I am super proud of Pastor DeBose. He’s going to do great things at Lone Star and for the city of Trinity as a whole.

Tomorrow is Monday and I should be taking full advantage of the “pastor’s sabbath” but I will travel to Houston to fellowship with the Houston Metropolitan Minister’s Conference, led by Dr. Samuel J. Gilbert Sr. for their weekly meeting. Pray for my traveling graces!

 

 

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Mt. Rushmore of Preaching

This week during the NBA All-Star festivities, Miami Heat star LeBron James was asked by a reporter during an interview, which historical players would he put on the Mount Rushmore of NBA all-time greats. This started a chain reaction with the media as they proceeded to ask other current all-stars for their names as well. The results have created conversations and arguments from TV studios at ESPN to barber shops in every urban city in America. And after seeing a twitter post this morning regarding preachers on Mt. Rushmore, I decided to engage in the conversation.

First, to have a narrowed group of 4 faces plastered on a mountain, there must be some pre-arranged qualifiers, because there have been so many great preachers in history, that to name only 4 is actually an exercise in futility. But as a quick caveat, any list that does not have the two greatest preachers EVER, Jesus and Paul, is incomplete at best and irrelevant at worst. So setting aside that important factor, there must be qualifiers to any such list. For example, you must separate styles and types of preachers from one another. It would be unfair to group expositors with pure whoopers. Being we live in America, I would only focus on American preachers despite the great contributions to preaching that many Europeans have provided, including the prince of Baptist preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Then you would also have to differentiate modern preachers from historical preachers. These are just a few qualifiers that must be considered before any such list is made. 

So let me put my 2 cents in, and provide not just 1 master list, but a few lists that fit into a few of the aforementioned categories:

HISTORICAL:

Martin Luther King Jr., C.L. Franklin, Gardner C. Taylor, C.A.W. Clark

EXPOSITORS:

Joel C. Gregory, Ralph D. West, H.B. Charles Jr., Maurice Watson

WHOOPERS:

Jasper W. Williams Jr., Donald L. Parsons, Leroy Elliott, Tellis Chapman

ALL-AROUND:

Joe A. Carter, R.A. Williams, Sedric Veal, Johnnie M. Green

These are my personal lists, they are biased because they are mine (LOL). I look forward to any and all feedback, both positive and negative, as this is both fun and subjective based upon the expressed opinion of each comment. 

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Making A Smooth Transition

Today, the first Sunday in December, 2013, was like every other first Sunday. We rose this morning, attended Sunday School, participated in the baptism of a new member, and had a wonderful time in worship. But in actuality, this really wasn’t like any other Sunday. It was one year ago this Sunday, where I was introduced as the new Senior Pastor of the St. Luke Baptist Church, Crockett, TX. 

The events of that day are still vivid in my mind. My wife and I arrived to town on that Friday evening, but our furniture was scheduled to arrive late Saturday night (it did not…more on that later). We spent the next day and half shuffling between the hotel and our new house, getting things ready for the movers, and meeting many of the members of the church. Our furniture did not arrive until Sunday morning at 7:30, and I needed to be at the church at 9 for Sunday School. Needless to say, the movers did not expeditiously unload our things, which meant that we missed Sunday School and even the start of morning worship. I finally got to church and the reception for my wife and I was heartwarming and loving. What a moment! What a great day!

As I took time today to reassess my feelings about that day and the 1 year mark, I also paused to remember my excitement, nervousness, and concern that both Penny and I felt in days leading up to the move and the final transition to Crockett, TX. Our excitement was present because we know that God has great things in store for the church as a whole and for us as a a family. At the same token, our nervousness was present because the Lord was relocating us to a part of the country that was completely foreign to us. We were concerned because we understood the challenges of adjusting to a “southern” way of life as opposed to what we were used to and the challenge of connecting with a congregation that I had only met once and my wife had not met at all before our move.

While our transition has had a few “bumps in the road” in our 1 year in Crockett, we have no reservations that the Lord brought us to East Texas at the right season in our lives and ministry. I wanted to share what I believe has helped us experience a good transition to a new place despite the challenges.

1. Totally Trust The Clear Voice of God

The great thing about being married to a praying woman whom the Lord placed in your life for life, is that while the Lord is speaking to you about a move He wants you to make, He is also speaking to your spouse. When I shared with her that I felt the Lord was leading us towards Crockett and St. Luke, to my surprise, Penny revealed to me that the Lord settled it in her spirit as well. That gave me a great sense of relief, as I was worried about her feelings towards the possibility. This proves that when God speaks, He will make sure you are able to trust what he said through confirmation. And I trust that the same God who would send us to a place, is the same God who will keep us while He has us there.

2. Recommit Your Support For One Another

This is a very important component of having a smooth transition to a new place of ministry. I had to understand that while I was being sent to lead a local congregation, Penny wasn’t, and for the first time in her life, she was away from her sons and family. This can be difficult and a shock to the system for your wife. She had to find work in an area that her field of expertise was not present. All of those factors, plus trying to make new friends with the ladies in the church can be daunting to say the least. What has helped us is our recommitment to supporting one another until we both are comfortable in our new place. Reality is, my wife has been super supportive in giving me time to get familiar with “the lay of the land” here, and it has made a difference to which I am grateful. I have supported her any and every way possible to make her adjustment as smooth as possible. Both spouses must be sensitive to the others concerns to achieve a smoother transition.

3. Engulf Yourself in the Work of the Ministry

I preached at St. Luke on the first Sunday, and I did not let a moment go to waste, I immediately had my secretary schedule meetings and the like to quickly get me acclimated to the atmosphere and operations of the church. I set up meetings with all ministries over the first 2 weeks of my pastorate, to introduce myself to them and gain from them their duties and activities presently going on. I initiated something I called “Quality Time With the Pastor & First Lady,” which I had the members schedule meetings with my secretary for 30 minutes each every day over a 4 hour period, where they would bring their families, and get to know us, and we get to know them. My reasoning for such a hectic early schedule was, if the transition was going to be a smooth one, I had to get a handle on the pulse of the church. My suggestion is, when you relocate your ministry, GET TO WORK! You have a lot of work to do, so you might as well get started.

4. Connect With Your “New Family” in Christian Fellowship

Along with the Quality Time, we took time to visit any member’s home who invited us over. Our feeling is this, 30 minutes is not enough time to really get to know each other, and we discovered that most people are more comfortable in sharing their hearts when they are in their own settings. Go and visit members at home, if they own small business in town, go visit, spend time talking to them at the Walmart or restaurants, show them that you are genuinely concerned with their lives, not just wanting them to be concerned about yours. Real recognizes real! That’s a colloquialism but it rings true. If you are not honestly attempting to connect with your members on their terms as well as yours, they will be able to tell and the transition will be difficult.

5. Don’t Neglect Quality Time

Please don’t gloss over the importance of you and your spouse, taking time to get by yourself just the two of you. With all the ministry demands, opportunities and struggles, it can easily become that all your time is spent at the church, and home suffers. Man’s first ministry is not the church or his calling, but it’s his family. So I would make sure that at least once a week, Penny and I left town to not be Pastor and First Lady, but husband and wife. No personal time together is meaningless. If you cannot afford to go to a fancy restaurant or the like, just take a long drive one Sunday after church, or Saturday morning and spend good quality time together. A movie and some fast food chicken will do wonders as long as it’s just the two of you alone.

6. Make Time To Go Back Home

This is probably the most difficult part of the transition, because you are caught between your family at home wanting you back home, and your new family here wanting you with them as much as possible. Herein lies the difficult decision when to tell your family you cannot come, and your new family when you need to leave. The truth is, while the majority of your time will be spent in ministry with your new family, you and them need to understand that you need to go home sometimes. Penny and I went home to NJ a little over a month ago, and it was exactly what we needed. Just to see our kids and family and friends, eat at familiar restaurants, shop at malls and even drive down familiar neighborhoods. Although we weren’t in town long enough to see everybody, you need to get home to stay grounded and focused.

7.  Pray

This really should have been number 1 on the list, but while it’s the most important factor in having a smooth transition, I have it last because it’s the most important. Nothing you do will ever be successful until you seek God’s direction in prayer first. And after you get to where God sends you, pray that God keeps you in your new place. And as you engage in ministry and fellowship, pray that God will give you a clear view on those around you, to show you who to trust and who to leave in the Lord’s hands. What I’m trying to say is, a consistent prayer life is the key to whether your transition is a great success or a complete failure. The same God you prayed to open the door, must be the same God you pray to so you can stay in the room. 

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Sunday Stuff, Transition

 

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Sunday Stuff

Thank God for another wonderful day in worship all day long. Worship at The Luke was phenomenal. Our Worship Team set the atmosphere right and our Sanctuary Choir really blessed the house through song. 

I completely love to see a choir stand full of committed people giving God their best and that’s exactly what happened today with our music ministry. God be praised for our Minister of Music, Roche Jones, Worship Leader, Christian Jones, and our drummer William Jones, and our entire ministry for job well done today.

I began a new sermon series for the first 3 Sundays in the month of August, entitled “There’s A Purpose To Your Pain,” our study of the beginning of the public ministry of Elijah housed in 1 Kings 17. In order for the Elijah to be effective in chapter 18, where he would encounter 450 prophets of Baal, God had to send Elijah through a series of struggles and difficulties in chapter 17. This was his preparation for the next level of his ministry, and you have to go through pain, in order to be ready for the promotion.

Today we lifted a few remarks out of verses 1-7, where Elijah was told by God to tell King Ahab that God was displeased with his antics, and issued him a prophetic word that there would be no rain in the land, until the Lord says so. Because the prophecy was accurate, Ahab put a hit out on Elijah, and God told him to go eastward and hide by the Brook Cherith, where he could drink from this brook, and the ravens would bring him bread and flesh in the morning and evening. Verse 7 says, but after a while, the brook dried up. I labeled the message, “We Will Survive Our Dry Brook.” 

This afternoon we were the special guest of the Simpson Chapel Baptist Church, Tadmore, TX, where my friend and brother Lionel Whitaker serves as Senior Pastor for their Homecoming Celebration. Pastor Whitaker is a great preacher/pastor who is quickly becoming a very good friend of mine, in East Texas. We share a lot in common and I am eagerly looking forward to sharing in fellowship with him again in the very near future. 

I shared a message out of Romans 5:6-8, where Paul declared, God showed his loved for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. I labeled the message, ‘How God Loves Us.” I pray that the message was a blessing to the congregation.

Pray for me this week, I begin a 4 night revival tomorrow through Thursday evening at the Antioch Baptist Church, Pennington, TX, where Cornelius Harbin serves as Senior Pastor. In between the revival, I am also preaching our Worship On Wednesday Service, so this week will test my energy levels to the limit. 

Football is back tonight! How Bout Them Cowboys!!!!1

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Sunday Stuff

 

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