Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Blessed"mess" of Children

Recently I had the pleasure of riding to church with a good friend and his family. As I climbed into the passenger seat, his wife asked if I would excuse the untidiness of the vehicle. Before I could respond, her husband remarked, "I am hoping that Pastor Carter would understand, having children of his own." Indeed.
Nothing says, "Children in the vicinity," quite like a messy vehicle. The vast majority of us parents have experienced getting in our cars and wondering, not only where did most of the trash come from, but when did the perpetrators get the time to dump so many used wrappers, empty cups, and crumpled paper. The adeptness of children in creating chaos in short periods of time is an inexplicable wonder.
Many of us find in this a source of frustration and exasperation (count me among the many). Yet on further reflection, might I suggest to you that a junky car (besides needing a cleaning) can serve as a reminder of the graciousness of God in the blessed gift of children.
Children are one of those gifts from God that that calls for us to work hard at to really enjoy and gain its blessed benefits (marriage is another). However, as we work at procuring the benefits of these blessings, let us do so with a mind that with every moment of labor they cause, there is the reminder that God has allowed us to share in the coming of His kingdom through the replenishing of His image upon the earth. Can there be a greater privilege, messy back seats and all?
Here are a few more areas, besides a dirty car, that says God has blessed us with children for his glory and our good. Perhaps you could suggest a few more:

1. Baskets of Dirty Clothes. Ask my wife what is the bane of her existence and she will tell you the never depreciating pile of dirty clothes that must be washed. It is not her favorite pastime, but it can be a blessed reminder that children are present and God has been good in not only giving them to us, but also providing for their welfare.

2. A Sink Full of Dirty Dishes. A bachelor has nothing in the way of dirty dishes as does the home that has been graced with children. A pile of dirty dishes may have us longing for our single days, but they should also give us a boost of thanksgiving, not only for the meal that was served on those dishes, but for the loving mouths that ate the blessed meal.

3. Hectic Early Mornings. Here's a well known secret: Parenting involves time management. A parent with any number of children quickly learns that things in the morning can be unpredictable and even hectic. Subsequently, mornings can be a source of frustration if we are not proactive in realizing that the unpredictability is just another way that God teaches us to be still and know that He is God. It is another gracious opportunity to teach our children to reflect the God we worship by doing things well, even on time.

So the next time you experience a chaotic car, loads of laundry, dirty dishes, or a manic morning, thank God for His gifts that make such blessings possible. Smile, because He has smiled on you. And then...get to work.

Looking for Carol at Christmas

Jazztheo has an interesting little piece on the origin and enjoyment of Christmas carols. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Tonight CBS will air the holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. For more than 40 years this cartoon piece has graced the television airways. In my humble opinion it is unmatched in storyline, character, music, and message. Who can forget Linus' recitation of Luke 2:8-14? Undoubtedly, the best scene regularly scheduled to air on television every year.
Today's generation is treated to the most advanced animation technology. Yet, none has surpassed or even matched the simplicity and clarity of Charles Schulz's, A Charlie Brown Christmas. One of the great aspects of this production is the music that accompanied it. Written by little known jazz musician Vince Guaraldi (unknown to everyone except perhaps jazztheo :-) , the music of A Charlie Brown Christmas was controversial at the time, but is now classic and unforgettable.
This morning NPR did a piece on the airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. They particularly focused on Guaraldi and his contribution. It is a good piece and well worth your attention today. But greater still is the airing of this classic cartoon tonight, and the irrepressible answer Linus offers to Charlie Brown's question, "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks

Ravi Zacharias is fond of saying:

"At Christmas, my children thank me for putting candy in their stockings. Who do I thank for putting two feet in mine?"

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Miami Conference Host

Humanly speaking, what makes the Miami Pastors' Conference such a wonderfully encouraging and refreshing experience is the faithful, joyful labors of the Glendale Baptist Church staff and volunteers. Anyone who attended the conference would no doubt offer the same testimony concerning the servanthood and hospitality of those at Glendale. Ricky Armstrong leads an excellent team of people who labor all year to make this event go smoothly. From the drivers to to cooks, from the servers to the secretaries, from the hosts to the maintenance, everyone seems to have a vision for the glory of God in their service to Glendale and this conference. I could not commend them more. They demonstrated what was preached with an uncommon zeal and love. We were all challenged and encouraged by them. Thanks Glendale.

Here is a clip from Ricky Armstrong's message of Preaching Christ from the Psalms

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Need for Christ-Centered Preaching

The messages preached at the Miami Pastors' Conference were, if anything, timely. There is undoubtedly a need for a Reformation in preaching within the evangelical church at large, and the predominantly black church in particular. The brothers in Miami not only stated the case, but they also demonstrated the way. I am convinced that never before in our history has there been more heretical and destructive teaching claiming to be biblical than there is now. And perhaps no one is more demonstrative of this homelitical plague than is Mr. Creflo Dollar in my beloved Atlanta, GA. If you have not already seen it, here is a recent expose on Mr. Dollar done by the local FOX news affiliate in Atlanta. Listening to Mr. Dollar and realizing the audience and influence he has with black church goers and watchers, we can not overstate the need for Christ-centered preaching within the black church. Here in demonstrates the wall of destructive preaching and teaching we are up against. Yet, I am encouraged by what God has historically done with walls in His people's way.

Ferguson at the Miami Conference

Sharing at the Pastors Conference was our good friend and teacher Sinclair Ferguson. I have had the privilege of sharing a platform with Sinclair on a previous occasion. Yet, even more precious to me was the privilege I had of sitting in a classroom and gleaning theological and homiletical truth from him. What a tremendous and undeserved blessing it was.
At the conference Sinclair shared with us from the subject, The Centrality of Christ in Preaching. Below is a short clip from one of his three messages. It is in classic black and white.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Miami Pastors' Conference HiLites

One of the wonderful aspects of the Pastors' Conference in Miami was how the messages were pointed and consistent. The subject matter was of the utmost importance, "Christ-Centered Preaching, and the messages consistently and poignantly demonstrated both the gravity and the relevance of the subject. Here are a couple of video clips from messages delivered. Hopefully these will wet your appetite for the full conference CDs when they come available.

Ken Jones, "Pre-Conference Seminar: The State of Preaching Today"

Thabiti Anyabwile, "Preaching Christ from the Pentateuch"

Friday, November 17, 2006

More on the Conference

The only bad part about the Miami Pastors Conference is that we have to wait a year before we can do it again. Yet, once you attend you are convinced that it is worth the wait. If you were there, you know what I am talking about. If you were not, I strongly encourage you to make plans for next year, November 8-10, 2007. Block out those dates on your calendar today and begin to pray as plans are already underway. Here are a few more pictures of the presenters and attendees. Enjoy and see ya next year!

Ken Jones in the Pre-Conference

Kevin Smith preaching: The Christ-Centered Life of the Preacher

Some brothers enjoying the wonderful meals served by the Glendale Kitchen

Michael Leach at night in front of Glendale Baptist

Finished and Full!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My Kinsmen According to the Flesh

Over at Reformed Blacks of America, my good friend, Stephen Love, has written an excellent article entitled My Kinsmen According to the Flesh. Stephen is a student at Reformed Theological Seminary and the son of our good friends Louis and JR Love. Reading Stephen's words caused me to rejoice to know that God is faithfully raising up young men to carry the torch of sound, biblical, Reformed theology to the predominantly black church. We have a lot of work to do, but with Stephen and others, I believe the work is in good hands.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Reformation Came to Miami

It is commonly believed that the Reformation came to the English speaking world through conversations that were regularly held at The White Horse Inn, a pub in Cambridge, England. Well, I did not have the privilege of being at The White Horse Inn for those conversations. Nor have I had the opportunity to visit Cambridge, England. But I was in Miami last week. And I even had the privilege of sitting at the Dairy Queen and I believe it could be said today, that the Reformation was being spread in Miami through converstations held at the Dairy Queen. Guess who else was there after cruisin' with the top down on a Mustang convertible?

All of the Bible is about Jesus

Miami Pastors' Conference 2006:
The Aim of Christ-Centered Preaching!
Our brothers in Christcentric have a line that was most appropriate for our time in Miami. It goes:
We should be mindful of this devout thesis
All of the Bible is about Jesus
This past week we gathered in Miami at Glendale Baptist Church and it was a most encouraging and enriching, challenging and impactful time. As the brothers proclaimed Christ throughout the Scriptures I was reminded of my own need to make sure that Christ is the center and circumference of my preaching and ministry. In the coming days I will post comments, pictures, and maybe even some audio from this year's conference. In the meantime, today I would just like to give a heartfelt thank you to Ken Jones, Thabiti Anyabwile, Kevin Smith, Michael Leach, Sinclair Ferguson, and the host pastor Ricky Armstrong. Thank you men for your faithful labors in the word, for your demonstrable servanthood, and your humble sumission to the God of the Bible which you seek to proclaim. I was served, as were all who sat under your preaching and teaching. May God continue bearing fruit through your labors for His glory and the good of His people.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Miami Conference This Week!

If you have not already, then it is not too late to make reservations for Miami this week. The 2006 Miami Pastors Conference begins this week on Thursday and runs through Saturday. With much anticipation we are eager to get to Miami to hear and see what God would give us from His word to strengthen and encourage us in our labors for the kingdom. The theme of the conference is The Christ-Centered Aim of Preaching. The theme verse is found in Luke 24:27: "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."

As I was reflecting upon my contribution to the conference and what I eagerly anticipate gleaning from those God has called to participate, I was reminded of just how beautifully our Lord Jesus Christ is woven throughout the pages of Scripture. Truly biblical preaching understands the words of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins:
I say more, the just man justices;Keeps grace:
that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is -
Christ - for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.
When it comes to preaching the Scriptures we see and glory in the fact that Christ indeed plays in ten thousand places. My prayer is that He will play well in Miami. I hope you will pray to that end as well. See ya there!

Friday, November 03, 2006

No MegaFest Next Year

T.D. Jakes is pulling the plug on MegaFest 07 and the city of Atlanta is not happy. Apparently, the Megafest (more accurately dubbed MegaMess) is costing Jakes and his ministry more than they can handle. The attendance is down, while travel cost is not. One of these days those who name the name of Christ will wake up and realize that Bingo Long's Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings might make for great theatre and slapstick comedy, but it is a pitiful and poor representation of the gospel and the kingdom. Good riddings!