Saturday, September 30, 2006

Cyrene Ministry Update

Most of you are aware of my affiliation with Cyrene Ministries. I am co-founder, serve as the webmaster and what essential has been its Director of Ministry. Today I am excited to announce that the website for Cyrene Ministries is going down for reconstruction and retooling. Also, if everything goes according to plan, there is another organization that when it is fully off the ground, Cyrene will closely affiliate with it. These are exciting times as I believe that God is humbling us by his grace and is mercifully giving us an awakening of Reformation theology among African-Americans. Let us pray that we will be faithful stewards of this awakening.
While Cyrene Ministries is down, I will continue to blog. In the meantime, stay tuned for more info on Cyrene and other important announcements.

The Duty of Worship

As I am putting the finishing touches on a writing project on worship, I was reminded this morning by Charles Spurgeon of the duty and joy of worship for the Christian. Appropriately, Spurgeon reminds us that it is the warp and woof of our lives.
"Sing forth the honour of His name, make His praise glorious."—Psalm 66:2

IT is not left to our own option whether we shall praise God or not. Praise is God's most righteous due, and every Christian, as the recipient of His grace, is bound to praise God from day to day. It is true we have no authoritative rubric for daily praise; we have no commandment prescribing certain hours of song and thanksgiving: but the law written upon the heart teaches us that it is right to praise God; and the unwritten mandate comes to us with as much force as if it had been recorded on the tables of stone, or handed to us from the top of thundering Sinai. Yes, it is the Christian's duty to praise God. It is not only a pleasurable exercise, but it is the absolute obligation of his life. Think not ye who are always mourning, that ye are guiltless in this respect, or imagine that ye can discharge your duty to your God without songs of praise. You are bound by the bonds of His love to bless His name so long as you live, and His praise should continually be in your mouth, for you are blessed, in order that you may bless Him; "this people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise"; and if you do not praise God, you are not bringing forth the fruit which He, as the Divine Husbandman, has a right to expect at your hands. Let not your harp then hang upon the willows, but take it down, and strive, with a grateful heart, to bring forth its loudest music. Arise and chant His praise. With every morning's dawn, lift up your notes of thanksgiving, and let every setting sun be followed with your song. Girdle the earth with your praises; surround it with an atmosphere of melody, and God Himself will hearken from heaven and accept your music.

"E'en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing,
Because Thou art my loving God,
And my redeeming King."

Friday, September 29, 2006

For Whom the Bell Tolls

In his Meditation XVII, John Donne wrote the famous lines:
Perchance he for whom this bell tolls, may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me...may have caused it to toll for me...and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Donne's words immediately came to mind when I learned of my brother and friend, Sherard Burns' recent resignation from the preaching ministry at All Nations Christian Fellowship in Minneapolis, MN. Sherard has decided to address us all in an Open Letter of Confession. As you read it remember:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load (Galatians 6:1-5).

I Love You, Brother.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Conference Update

Have you signed up the Miami Pastors' Conference on Nov. 9-11? If you have not, you can make your calling and election sure by signing up soon, in fact, today. Please note, there has been an update on the schedule. You can take a look at the revised schedule and register online here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

You might recall my mentioning of Elliott Greene back in May when he joined the blogging team over at Reformation 21. Back then I also mentioned that he was starting a new venture in pastoral training called Tyrannus Hall Foundation for Pastoral Ministry. Apparently this worthwhile venture is up and running and we all should be glad it is. If there is anything the church needs more of it is reformed African-American preachers and predominantly African-American churches where they can serve. From these churches they may be able to raise up another generation of African-American preachers who will surpass their fathers in zeal for God and His supremacy in all things.
So check out Tyrannus Hall and lets sound the word that a firm foundation is being laid for the future of Reformed Christianity among African-Americans. And it looks good.


Monday, September 25, 2006

An Assured Atonement

Unfortunately, many find it necessary to refer to themselves as "four point Calvinists." For them the point with which they are uncomfortable is the third point, namely Limited Atonement. They find it hard to fathom that Christ did not die with the intention of saving every human being. They find it difficult to swallow that the death of Christ was designed to save only the elect of humanity and not the entirety of humanity. Ironically, the vocal discomfort of the "four pointers" often leads to an apologetic, even reluctant understanding of the doctrine of Limited Atonement among those who would otherwise hold to the truth of all five points (see Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology). Nevertheless, the third point in TULIP is a most biblically verifiable doctrine, and even a most comforting and assuring point. When properly understood, the atonement of Christ on behalf of the elect is a doctrine that offers us the sweetness of an assured justification like no other. It assures us that the Father and the Son are indeed one in purpose, on the same eternal page. It assures us that our destiny of eternal communion with the Father and the Son is not based on our ability to please the Father, but on Christ willingness to satisfy the demands of justice on our behalf.

This morning Spurgeon reminds us of just how beautiful and comforting the doctrine of a definite atonement can be. He rightly says, " soul for whom Jesus died as a substitute can be cast into hell.":

"Just, and the justifier of him which believeth."—Romans 3:26.

BEING justified by faith, we have peace with God. Conscience accuses no longer. Judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory looks back upon past sins, with deep sorrow for the sin, but yet with no dread of any penalty to come; for Christ has paid the debt of His people to the last jot and tittle, and received the divine receipt; and unless God can be so unjust as to demand double payment for one debt, no soul for whom Jesus died as a substitute can ever be cast into hell. It seems to be one of the very principles of our enlightened nature to believe that God is just; we feel that it must be so, and this gives us our terror at first; but is it not marvellous that this very same belief that God is just, becomes afterwards the pillar of our confidence and peace! If God be just, I, a sinner, alone and without a substitute, must be punished; but Jesus stands in my stead and is punished for me; and now, if God be just, I, a sinner, standing in Christ, can never be punished. God must change His nature before one soul, for whom Jesus was a substitute, can ever by any possibility suffer the lash of the law. Therefore, Jesus having taken the place of the believer—having rendered a full equivalent to divine wrath for all that His people ought to have suffered as the result of sin, the believer can shout with glorious triumph, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" Not God, for He hath justified; not Christ, for He hath died, "yea rather hath risen again." My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, He is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me. On the lion of justice the fair maid of hope rides like a queen.
Steve Lawson, pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church and author of Foundations of Grace, has a series of messages entitled Ten Reasons Why the Bible Teaches Definite Atonement. You might find these quite helpful, encouraging, and if need be, convincing. The doctrine of a Definite Atonement is all over the Bible. I, for one, thank God it is.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Word Today

Everyday I come across a word in my reading that makes me say, "Hmm." These words are usually not readily familiar to me and they cause a bit more contemplation before I move on. From time to time I would like to share a word or two with you. So, the Word for Today is:

cav·il - v. cav·iled, also cav·illed cav·il·ing, cav·il·ling cav·ils, cav·ils v. intr.
To find fault unnecessarily; raise trivial objections. See Synonyms at quibble.v. tr.
To quibble about; detect petty flaws in.
n. A carping or trivial objection.
[French caviller, from Old French, from Latin cavillr, to jeer, from cavilla, a jeering.] cavil·er n.

Spurgeon: "Submission is our duty, cavilling is our folly."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Long Line of Godly Men

Speaking of the importance of ever preaching and teaching the Doctrines of Grace, the new publishing arm of Ligonier Ministries, Reformation Trust, has released a new book on these Doctrines entitled, The Foundations of Grace: A Long Line of Godly Men. The book is authored by Steve Lawson, pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. When I had the privilege of working at Ligonier, I was always impressed with Ligonier's willingness and desire to want to expand their outreach and to think of more effective ways of communicating the holiness of God and the historic Reformed faith. As I left Ligonier, I thought to myself that the natural progression for Ligonier would be to beginning publishing their own books, as well as the books of others. Lo and behold, this year Ligonier introduced Reformation Trust. One of the first books they have released is this book on the Doctrines of Grace.

In The Foundations of Grace, Lawson demonstrates that the Doctrines of Grace were not invention of Calvin or the Synod of Dort, but rather are found throughout the Bible, beginning with Genesis and ending in Revelation. Recently, RC Sproul discussed with Steve Lawson the contents and importance of this book. They even answered the question, "Who is the greatest preacher of the doctrines of grace?" You can listen to this two part interview by going to Ligonier Ministries online and listening to the broadcast from days 9/14 and 9/15.

Monday, September 18, 2006

It's Still Grace!

I just returned home from a weekend of meetings in Winston-Salem NC. It was a blessed time, as we gathered at Sovereign Grace Chapel for their 13th Annual Sovereign Grace Conference. The theme of the conference was the Sovereignty of God in Salvation. It was a familiar theme, and we looked at familiar passages of Scripture. Yet, I was reminded that one can never grow too familiar with God's sovereign grace. I have found that the more intently you peer into the glories that are God's in the redemption of the elect, the more humbled you become and more fit for worship you are. Unfortunately, it is popular among the neo-reformed to downplay what they would refer to as the obvious doctrines of reformed theology, and seek to up-play progressiveness and postmodern theological ingenuity. Now anyone who really knows me knows that I am all for progression and ingenuity, but my hope remains built upon the doctrines of God's sovereign grace. I fear that we too often make light of these truths as if they belonged to the elementary elements of the faith. On the contrary, I am convinced, both by biblical precepts and experiential practice, that these doctrines are the foundations of our faith and provide, more than anything else, the summation of the glories of God in salvation and my hope of eternity. Still some will say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard all that before." To you I say, "Apparently, you need to hear it again. And again. And again." I have found that the depth of my sinfulness needs to hear and know the Doctrines of Grace continually. I am confident that if you really wanted to know the depth of your sinfulness, you would say the same thing. Friends, let us never move too far from the Doctrines of Grace. Let us never get too sophisticated for the simple pronouncements of the Doctrines of Grace. Let us never grow too familiar so as to believe that we have or are anything apart from the Doctrines of Grace. Friends, no matter what the latest doctrinal wave has washed upon the shores of the church, the greatest of these is still GRACE.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What's In The Bible

Last evening we began a series on What's In The Bible: From Genesis to Revelation. It will be a 66 plus week survey of the Bible hopefully covering a book a week (thanks to the inspiration for this series from Louis Love and from the work of Mark Dever). It is a most fitting study in light of the recent cover article for TIME magazine. If our people are going to be discerning and not over fascinated with the frills and superficiality that is the mega-show of prosperity, they will need to know what's in the Bible. Here are a few quotes from last nights study:
Concerning the Bible:
The Bible is often referred to as a book, but actually it is a collection of books or writings. In fact, our Bible has a total of 66 separate books. These 66 books were written by at least 30 different writers, over the span of approximately 1500 years. Hebrews 1:1 reminds us that these writers were various, and wrote at various times, in various ways.
In the Bible we will find wide range of literary genres. He find historical writings full of data and numerical figures. There are law codes which have influenced judicial systems around the world. There are biographies that would make A&E proud. There are poems and hymns, which are still capturing the literary world’s imagination. There are short stories and suspense filled page turners. There are letters, both common and official. There are short, pithy, and anecdotal sayings, as well as long discourses of tragedy and triumph. There is prophecy, which at times has confounded the brightest of minds, and drama and political intrigue that would easily top the ratings charts for modern television viewing.
You look at the writers and some of these writers were of royal blood and lived in palaces. Others were of common stock and walked among the peasant people. Some had the finest education that money could buy, while others barely had any education at all. And yet God used each of these writers to bring His glorious, inspired and inerrant self-revelation of truth and justice into the world.
It is a book that essentially begins in a garden paradise and ends in a paradise city. It is a story that begins with God being worshipped by two people and ends with God being worshipped by an innumerable host of people.
Concerning the Prosperity Message
Beloved, the message of the Bible is not how you can get rich and increase you monetary portfolio. It is not a message about how you can have your best life now. It is not a message of conquering depression or avoiding pitfalls and frustration. It is the message of God’s glory in reconciling a sin-marred creation through a sufficient Savior.
Contrary to what you might believe, or what you might have heard, our greatest struggle is not financial. Our greatest problem is sin. Christ took the nails, wore the crown, spilt his holy blood on the dirty ground, not so that we could have what we want, but so that we might be supplied with what we need. He did it to confirm the promise God made to Adam and Eve. He did it to validate the promise He made to Noah and Abraham. He did it to verify the truth given to Moses and David. He did it because God’s word is true. And if He promises something it will surely come to pass. And not one dot or iota shall pass way from it. He did it because God is not a man that He should lie – no matter how many men lie about God.

Monday, September 11, 2006

More on Prosperity Pimps

(HT: Thabiti Anyabwile) Apparently, more and more people are growing restless and even tired of the foolishness that is the prosperity gospel. The National Baptist Convention, USA, the largest predominantly black denomination in America, has officially denounced the prosperity gospel and its peddlers. Here are some recent articles and official press release.

National Baptist Speakers Criticize Prosperity Gospel, 'Seeker' Churches
Black Baptist Eschew Prosperity Preaching
Time Magazine has a cover story on "Does God What You To Be Rich?" (HT: Justin Taylor). Sooner or later the larger Christian community will take up the charge to call out these fleece agents, rather than waiting for the world to call them out. There may be nothing more destructive within the broader Christian community, and the predominantly African-American church in particular, than these Word-faith, health and wealth, prosperity preachers. Melvin Jones ( is doing a yeoman's job in pointing out these foolish teachers.
Interestingly, the cover picture of the Time magazine has a resemblance to the website of the increasingly popular Jamal-Harrison Bryant and his Empowerment Temple.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

It's a Thin Line Between Love and Hate

I do believe it was Malcolm X who would frequently seek to assure America and the world that his love of Black America did not equate with a hatred for White America. According to Malcolm, many people mistakenly assumed that his vociferous pronouncements for the self-determination of Black America was also his despising of all things White. Malcolm was determined to show his "love" for Black America no matter the perception from White America. What Malcolm was reminding us is that there is a thin line between love and hate. Admittedly, Malcolm's language was often demonizing of White America, and thus one would have to ask the question, "Did Malcolm need to use the language of demonization of White America, to show forth his love for Black America? Did he cross the line from love to hate?" Well, I am not here today to take up that question. I simply refer to Malcolm in this instance because I can understand how our passion for one thing can easily be mistaken for a denunciation of another. This I have recently experienced when it comes to my insistence upon Reformed African-Americans developing our own agendas.

Some have assumed, wrongly, that my recent pointing out of the fact that the majority Reformed Conferences have a woeful lack of diversity was an attempt to indict or to impugn the integrity of those who put these conferences together. Nothing could be further from the truth. All I did was point out the obvious. My overall intention was not to denounce these conference. Hell, I plan to joyfully attend many of them. No, my main intention was, and continues to be, that the lack of diversity is a call for us, as Reformed African-Americans, not to lament the fact that we are not represented at these conferences, but to develop our own conferences and materials which will be representative of us. Actually, developing our own conferences is a step toward greater unity. I believe that is it only when my white brothers and sisters are able to come and fellowship with us, as we so often come and fellowship with them, will we ever come to the maturity of the Body of Christ. I also believe, that it will be primarily through the development of Reformed African-American leadership that Reformed theology will make serious inroads into the broader predominantly African-American church.

One need not assume that my desire for the further development of the Reformed African-American community is an indictment or even guilt-edged maneuvers against my white brothers and sisters. God forbid. I would not be who I am and know what little I know except for God's grace to me through the lives of men like RC Sproul, James Boice, Sinclair Ferguson, Richard Pratt, John Piper, and many others. Yet, I also know I am also who I am and know what little I know because of people like my mother, my coaches, my many close Christians of African descent who have never heard and may never hear of Sproul, Piper, or any of these men. Who will develop conferences for them to know and adore the supremacy of God in all things? Who will set before them a passion for the Sovereignty of God with language and faces that identify with them? We must. If God's gives me space and grace, we will.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Aim of Christ-Centered Preaching

The Aim of Christ-Centered Preaching
November 9-11, 2006
Glendale Baptist Church, Miami, FL
It's time to register! It's time to plan! It's time to prepare for a wonderful, challenging, and worshipful time of teaching, preaching, and fellowship. Let's meet in Miami in November and see if God will not meet us as well.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Crossing the River of Death

We finally came to the end of our series on The Pilgrims Progress. As Christian and Hopeful crossed the River of Death and gain entrance into the Celestial City, we were reminded that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Death is not a friend. It is an enemy that all must encounter. And yet we encounter the terrible foe with the assurance that it is but the last hindrance to our eternal bliss. It is but the final door through which we pass to enter into our paradise of marital communion with our blessed Savior. And while Bunyan does not hide the dread and the pain that too often accompanies death in this life, we are reminded that grief and sorrow at death is a bittersweet reminder that in but a little while the griefless life shall be ours. The English Puritan, Christopher Love, understood this well.

On August 22, 1651 in England, Christopher Love was executed, beheaded on Tower Hill, having been wrongly condemned of treason. On the morning of his execution, he wrote these words to his loving and faithful wife:

The will of the Lord be done. Oh, say ye so when I go to the Tower Hill. The will of the Lord be doneƂ…I shall call thee wife no more, yet I am not much troubled, for I am going to meet the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus, to whom I shall be eternally married.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

ND 1 - KKK 0

"On May 17, 1924, thousands of hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan converged on South Bend, Indiana, to terrorize the students of Notre Dame. A weekend of rioting ensued, with the 'fighting irish' prevailing in the streets."

These are the words found on the front flap of the cover of the book by Todd Tucker entitled, Notre Dame vs. The Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. I have just completed reading this book in time for the season opener against the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets on tonight (8:00 et ABC). Even if you are not a Notre Dame fan (and shame on you if you are not), I am willing to bet that you will find this book most enjoyable and informative. It was interesting to learn that the KKK in Indiana during the early twenties was a different and more powerful organization than what it was during the 50's and the 60's. And yet, while Tucker does a masterful job in relating the cosmetic differences, he accurately and ultimately demonstrates that the heart of the organization has always been these - corrupt, depraved, power-intoxicated, racism. The boys of Notre Dame took to the streets of South Bend and gave those kluxers all they wanted and more. This is a good read. And tonight will be a good game. GO IRISH!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Popular Preaching

Have you been wondering what the people in church are listening to during the week? Well, wonder no more. Joel Osteen is the most popular pastor in America and he is not popular because people don't listen to him. On the contrary, people flock to their television by the hundreds of thousands and they fill auditoriums all over this country to experience An Evening with Joel. I had not listened to Osteen in quite some time, so I thought I would surf my way over to his ministry site and see what ol' Joel has been putting in the heads of some of our brothers and sisters, even some of the people in our church (if you have a church of any size and believe that none of your people are listening to Osteen, you are kidding yourself). So, in case you haven't checked in a while, here is a short list of sermons currently being aired by Joel Osteen:
I listened to the sermon Living At Your Ideal Weight. While Osteen made some very good practical points on eating right and eating healthy, he said nothing of the Bible or anything that remotely regarded a biblical text. These are the messages of the largest church and the most popular preacher in America. Listen and weep.