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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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New Sermon Series

Tomorrow at our Worship On Wednesday Mid-Week Service, I will be starting a new sermon series on the Beatitudes, lifted from Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount, housed in  Matthew 5:3-12, which I am labeling the series, Developing the Character of A Christian.

I have discovered that all of us, who are saved and have joined with a local congregation, have mastered the look of a Christian, even the words of a Christian, but we have all failed in our mastery of the behavior of a Christian. Jesus pronounces to us that being a follower of Christ is not centered on how we look or speak, but in how we live day by day. This series will show us how to behave in our Christian journey as we endeavor to follow the path that Jesus has laid for us.

I am excited about this series and if you are in the Crockett Area every Wednesday from Noon to 1 pm, you are cordially invited to share with us in Worship and the exposition of the Word of God, as we learn how to develop the character of a Christian.Image

 
 

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E.K. Bailey Expository Preaching Conference

This week I had the expressed pleasure of attending the E.K. Bailey Expository Preaching Conference, held at both the Fairmont Hotel Downtown Dallas, and the Concord Baptist Church, also in Dallas, and it was an experience that will shape the growth and development of my continued attempts at biblical exposition.

I was introduced to biblical exposition by my pastor Joe Carter, and it was strengthened by my friendship with Pastor HB Charles Jr, and exposure to other exceptional expositors like Joel Gregory, Ralph West, Maurice Watson and others. My exposure to them heightened my desire to attend conferences that place a great emphasis on verse by verse biblical exposition.

This is the second time I have been able to attend this conference and I want to extend a word of appreciation to Bryan Carter, Pastor of the Concord Church and leader/host of the conference for his commitment to bringing the brightest expositors to Dallas to help reinforce the need for strong biblical exposition in pulpits across America.

The theme of the conference this year was Preaching 360: How To Preach the Genres of Scripture. Dr. Steven J. Lawson was exceptional in both his presentation and lecture. I had heard of Dr. Lawson, who has his own Expositor’s Conference in September in Mobile, AL (which I want to attend as well), but to actually hear him in person was phenomenal. Dr. Bryan Loritts did a great job with personal application through illustrations, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

To have Dr. John MacArthur teach us on a verse by verse exposition of the book of John, words really cannot express how impactful he was. But his willingness to stand and talk to conference attendees was also impressive and well received. HB Charles Jr. did a masterful job with John 15, where Jesus said I am the true vine. I am always encouraged to study more and preach harder after I hear HB preach.

Wednesday night was epic! E. Dewey Smith blessed the house in a “lecture” and the legendary Dr. Jasper Williams, who was being honored as the Living Legend, was classic JW! Almost every Black Baptist preacher has at some point, mimicked Dr. Williams’ style, sermon or close in their lifetime, and we were witnesses to him giving us everything we wanted. Dr. Donald Parsons, who is my personal favorite preacher, blessed the banquet on Thursday morning honoring Dr. Williams. What a week!

My only criticism I would have is that not more younger pastors/preachers came or were able to come. In this generation of microwave church, prosperity preaching, and to be honest, clowning in the pulpit, we need to become more committed to fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus commands us not to make members but to build disciples. The best way to accomplish that feat is by giving those who listen to us on a weekly basis, a steady diet of verse by verse biblical exposition. I am even more committed to becoming a better expositor and to developing disciples for Jesus Christ.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2013 in Preaching Ministry

 

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Sunday Stuff – June 4, 2013

I took a couple weeks off from writing on my blog. There was no particular reason other than trying to gauge my weekly time since I am now doing something I have never had to do before. I am preaching a mid-week service and teaching bible study on the same evening, and it’s been a challenge managing my time. I am in awe of Pastors who have had to prepare mid-week sermons and bible lessons for a long time and are good at it. I pray that my faithfulness in my study and preparation will become such that God will continue to honor my presentation of the Word in a way that will lead others into a deeper knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

This past Sunday was an interesting one in that there were a lot of events going on last weekend such as Crockett HS graduation and other “events” (inside joke) that seemingly caused many to miss church. But the Lord really showed up and blessed The Luke from Praise and Worship to the message and all point in between. I consider myself to be the most blessed Pastor I know, that the Lord would have somebody like me, lead a wonderful people like the sweet members of the St. Luke Church Family.

I concluded our sermon series entitled The Church God Wants Us To Be, which was our study of Acts 2, with a message entitled “What Makes A Healthy Church,” found in verses 37-47. At the point of the text, Peter had just finished preaching the first Christian sermon ever recorded, and it caused the beginning of the church age. The fact that the church was birthed after a sermon was preached, clearly suggests that the preaching of the Gospel and not the presentation of gimmicks will grow a healthy church. Don’t mistake numbers on the roll as the definitive barometer for a healthy church, because there are many “mega-churches” that are filled to capacity 3 or more times per week, but there is no consistent diet of biblical exposition to grow the people from babes into maturity. Numbers don’t make a church healthy, a commitment to the Gospel will lead to a healthy church. My main argument was: the growth and health of a church is dependent upon our ability to guide unbelievers away from the World and towards the Word. Here’s the outline:

I. Evidenced By Their Response to the Gospel – v. 37-41

a. purposed to change – verse 38

b. public conversion – verse 38

c. produce a congregation – verse 41

II. Evidenced By The Fellowship of the People – v. 42-47

a. fellowship in the Word – verse 42

b. fellowship in their worship – verse 43

c. fellowship in their witness – verse 46

Sunday afternoon the church accompanied me to the Community Missionary Baptist Church, Trinity, where Dennis McKnight serves as Pastor for their Choir Annual Day. For the record, our Sanctuary Choir sang down heaven in that house. Thanks to our music staff, Roche Jones, Christian Jones, William Jones and our entire choir for job well done. I preached a message out of Psalm 3:1-4, which I call, Faith In Troubled Times, and the Lord blessed the message. Thank you Pastor McKnight and the Community Church Family for your warm hospitality.

This week, if the Lord says the same, I am beginning 2 new sermon series, one for Worship on Wednesday on the Model Prayer found in Matthew 6, entitled “God’s Blueprint To A Prayer Filled Life,” and one for Sundays out of Revelation chapters 2-3 on the 7 Churches of Asia Minor, entitled “What Type of Church Are We.” We are also starting a new series of lessons at bible study out of that great chapter on love, I Corinthians 13, entitled “Building Better Relationships.” Please lift me up in prayer for my commitment to giving the St. Luke Family a steady diet of sound biblical exposition that we can feast on and grow.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Sunday Stuff

 

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Week In Review

What a busy yet productive weekt his has been thus far, and we’ve only just passed the mid-point of the week, which means there is still room for the schedule to fill up more. But the life of a busy pastor is one I cherish and look forward to as we attempt to “Build God A Kingdom” here in Crockett.

First, this past Sunday was Mother’s Day and because my own mother has been resting with Jesus for the last seven years, this holiday is difficult. I am grateful for a wonderful wife who is a great mother to our sons, which enables me to celebrate her mightily on this holiday. 

Worship was great Sunday! The Praise Team led us in worship and they are getting “gooder and gooder”. Our Youth Choir led the Music Ministry and I couldn’t have been more prouder of their continued growth and development in their singing and their attendance at Sunday School and Bible Study. Praying that this upward trend continues which will draw more young people to our church. 

I have made it a personal practice in my preaching ministry, to stay faithful to whatever sermon series I am currently in, no matter the date on the calendar. That continued on Sunday as we went back into our series on Acts chapter 2, entitled The Church God Wants Us To Be, with an exposition of verses 5-11. I labeled the message Fulfilling Our Purpose. The disciples had just received the filling of the Holy Spirit, which enabled them to speak in other languages about Jesus. This amazed the multitudes so much that they even declared how can Galileans speak to us in languages that are not their own. 

This passage proves that the purpose of the church is not to make us feel better, pat ourselves on the back because of some accomplishments, or become a place where we discover how to gain prosperity of popularity, but the purpose of the church is to tell the world about Jesus.

Here is the outline:

I. Gospel Will Draw You

II. Gospel Will Marvel You

III. Gospel Will Change You

This week I was fortunate to have been asked by the Houston County Judge Erin Ford, to deliver the invocation for the monthly Houston County Commissioners Meeting. Being asked to pray in those settings are difficult due to constitutional laws which call for the separation of church and state, Pastors are normally put in a difficult position. The Lord gave me the exact words to say, while I called on the name of Christ to help our secular leaders, lead our county to the benefit of its citizens. Judge Ford and I are going to partner to bring some real good things to Crockett to make our city that much better.

Our Worship On Wednesday (WOW) service continued again this week, and I lifted a wonderful and familiar passage housed in Mark 4:38, which I borrowed the title from the great Donald Parsons, “Does Jesus Care?” I argued that even though our journey with Jesus takes us to heights never imagined, it also takes us into depths that threaten our faith, just like our historical brothers, the Disciples, as they were traveling with Jesus in a ship and encountered a mighty storm. They go down into the bottom of the boat to ask Jesus, Teacher, carest thou not that we perish. The good news is, He Does Care!!! Jesus cares not about our circumstances, but he cares about us as we go through our circumstances.

Here’s the outline:

I. We Have The Promises of Christ

II. We Have The Presence of Christ

III. We Have The Peace of Christ

Thank God for the faithful people who pressed their way Wednesday to WOW service despite the storm that came right before church started.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Week In Review

 

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