Friday, December 29, 2006

Not Peace, but a Sword

At this time of the year we are frequently bombarded with notions of peace and joy. We are rightly reminded that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that when he was born the angels declared "peace on earth." However, we must also be mindful that the peace which Jesus offers is a peace not defined by the world. In fact, Jesus himself reminded us that he did not come to bring peace but a sword. Any message containing the Peace of Jesus that does not also communicate the nature of His peace is at best an incomplete message. Last evening Charles Spurgeon gave us some insight into our Lord's notions of peace and what it will cost us. For Jesus, peace comes along with a sword. Think about it.

“I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34

The Christian will be sure to make enemies. It will be one of his objects to make none; but if to do the right, and to believe the true, should cause him to lose every earthly friend, he will count it but a small loss, since his great Friend in heaven will be yet more friendly, and reveal himself to him more graciously than ever. O ye who have taken up his cross, know ye not what your Master said? “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother; and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Christ is the great Peacemaker; but before peace, he brings war. Where the light cometh, the darkness must retire. Where truth is, the lie must flee; or, if it abideth, there must be a stern conflict, for the truth cannot and will not lower its standard, and the lie must be trodden under foot. If you follow Christ, you shall have all the dogs of the world yelping at your heels. If you would live so as to stand the test of the last tribunal, depend upon it the world will not speak well of you. He who has the friendship of the world is an enemy to God; but if you are true and faithful to the Most High, men will resent your unflinching fidelity, since it is a testimony against their iniquities. Fearless of all consequences, you must do the right. You will need the courage of a lion unhesitatingly to pursue a course which shall turn your best friend into your fiercest foe; but for the love of Jesus you must thus be courageous. For the truth’s sake to hazard reputation and affection, is such a deed that to do it constantly you will need a degree of moral principle which only the Spirit of God can work in you; yet turn not your back like a coward, but play the man. Follow right manfully in your Master’s steps, for he has traversed this rough way before you. Better a brief warfare and eternal rest, than false peace and everlasting torment.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On Celebrating Kwanzaa

Over at Reformed Blacks of America, Pastor Eric Redmond of Hillcrest Baptist Church has shared Some Christ-Centered Thoughts on Kwanzaa.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

My Favorite Christmas Gifts

One of the finest pleasures God allows me to experience is playing golf with my children. Yesterday I played with my son, Tony, Jr. and my daughter, Siera. Everyday is Christmas when I see them enjoy what I enjoy so much. This year I share with you two of my favorite Christmas gifts.

She carries a big bag, and she wields a big swing. You git'em girl!

One day, hopefully he'll beat me. But not too soon, right?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Too Hot to "Handel"

One of the greatest achievements of human history is George Frideric Handel's Messiah. Is Christmas ever really Christmas without hearing at least one rendition of The Messiah? And without a doubt, it contains one of the most recognizable and memorable musical movements ever penned, namely The Hallelujah Chorus. But I am wondering today, what would Handel think of the recent interpretation "Too Hot To Handel: A Modern Messiah?"
I am not inclined to believe that Beethoven's Ninth can not be improved upon. If you ever hear someone fiddling with Beethoven's magnum opus, do us all a favor and insist that they fiddle no more. Demand that they sit and listen and not presume upon such greatness. Yet, with Handel's creation, I am inclined to see it as more fluid and open to interpretation. Thus, we have heard many good renditions. Is "Too Hot To Handel" another? Apparently, NPR thinks so. Click on this link to read the story and hear a sample of the Gospel/Jazz interpretation. What do you think?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Word for the Day

sempiternal (sem-pi-tur-nl) adj. Enduring forever; eternal. See Synonyms at infinite. [Middle English, from Old French sempiternel, from Late Latin sempiternālis, from Latin sempiternus : semper, always; see sem-1 in Indo-European roots + aeternus, eternal]

Augustine of Hippo: "We say we believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ was born of the sempiternal God."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Helpful Reminder

Here is a helpful reminder when reading and writing blogs (HT: JT):

"The blogosphere is the friend of information but the enemy of thought."--Alan Jacobs

In similar fashion I recall the words of Richard Pratt:

"You can't say everything about anything else you end up saying nothing."

Keep these in mind when you are inclined to lose your cool with something someone wrote in the blogosphere.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Prayers for Dr. James and his Family

By now, all of us have heard of the ongoing search for the three climbers of Mt. Hood in Oregon. Today the news has come down that one of the climbers has been found dead. He is Kelly James, brother of Dr. Frank James, president of Reformed Theological Seminary. I have longed admired Dr. James as a professor and now as president of the seminary I attended. In all of my conversations with him during and after my seminary years, I have found him to be a genuine man of christian character and conviction. We are saddened to hear of this tragic lost and all of our prayers go out to Dr. James and the wife and family of his brother Kelly. May God continue to be gracious to them as they weather this storm. Here is a link at CNN to the story and video of a press conference featuring Frank James.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What an Amazing Heritage!

This week the World's Oldest Person died. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bolden died on this past Monday at the age of 116. The number of children she has left behind is amazing. May we all, in similar fashion, receive the blessing of Psalm 128:6.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Silencing the Uniqueness of Christ

One of the more prominent black preachers in Atlanta has decided that it is time to join forces with the Nation of Islam in order to eradicate violence, drugs, and crime from the black community. Jasper Williams, Jr, pastor of the well-known Salem Bible Church (formerly Salem Baptist Church) c0-organized with a local Nation of Islam mosque what they called a Stop the Violence Unity Coalition Silent March. This march took place in an Atlanta neighborhood on November 11, 2006. The organizers hoped to demonstrate the so-called unity that exists between people of faith when it comes to the issue of crime and violence in the streets of our communities. As one on the outside looking in, I must applaud Rev. Williams for the laudable ends which he seeks. All of us desire to see the crime rate go down in Atlanta, and to see black on black (or any type for that matter) violence cease. This is a commendable goal and the ends of the march should be an ends we all strive to attain. However, the problem with Rev. Williams' decision to be cobelligerents with the Nation of Islam is that the ends do not justify the means.

(You can click on the above link to see a video summation of the march, and to listen to the inter-faith service that was conducted at the end of the march.)

As Christians we are not called to stop crime at all cost. We are not called to bring about an end to violence and drug trafficking by any means necessary. While we may implore a variety of means and promote different agendas, we must not do so to the detriment of our witness to the uniqueness and glory of Christ. By becoming co-laborers with the Nation of Islam, Williams became co-laborers with anti-Christ. Question: Are we called to walk hand in hand with anti-Christ so long as the there are no more drugs on our streets? Question: If conspiring with anti-Christ meant that you could walk the streets safely at night, would you conspire with him?

Any way you slice it, the Nation of Islam (from Elijah Muhammad to Louis Farrakhan) is anti-Christ. To walk hand and hand with them is to give legitimacy to their blasphemous teachings concerning our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The interesting aspect to any cooperation between Christians and the Nation of Islam is that it always benefits the Nation of Islam. As an illegitimate religious organization, it seeks legitimacy by seeking alliances with Christian leaders. The Christian leaders who give them a platform to speak and/or to pray will inevitably hear Christ blasphemed, as did Rev. Williams and those in attendance.

Rev. Williams may yet be successful in silencing the violence in our communities. But is it worth the price of silencing the uniqueness of Christ in the process? The name of Salem Bible Church may be more known, but what of the name and character of Christ? Unfortunately, this is what happens when we become more concerned for our communities than we are for the person and glory of Christ.

Friday, December 08, 2006

2007 SCF Men's Retreat

It is official. The 2007 Men's Retreat sponsored by Southwest Christian Fellowship will be held on March 8-10, 2007 amid the rolling hills of Cleveland, GA at the Woodlands Camp and Conference Center. Our main speaker will be Pastor Louis Love of New Life Fellowship Church in Vernon Hills, IL. The theme for this year is Before the Face of God. We will look at both the theology and practice of living our lives in light of God's character. If you will find yourself inclined to join us, there is more info and a registration form at the Men's Retreat Page.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

LaRue on Black Preaching

Here is an interesting lecture on the nature of African-American preaching by Dr. Cleophus J. LaRue. LaRue is an associate professor of Homiletics at Princeton Theological Seminary. He has written widely on black preaching, including a book I am currently reading entitled Power in the Pulpit: How America's Most Effective Black Preachers Prepare Their Sermons. The lecture is entitled: "The Heart of Black Preaching." After you listen to it, it would love to hear some of your comments concerning his understanding of preaching in general and Black preaching in particular. He seems to make some good, insightful points; yet I question some of his conclusions. But more on that later. I would love to hear your thoughts. So, check it out if you can.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Congrats to the Anyabwile Family

The first Anyabwile born on Cayman Island soil is Titus Ezekial Anyabwile. Congratulations to Thabiti and Kristie on the birth of their son. Titus is the first, but by God's grace may he not be the last Anyabwile born in Cayman. May God bless the Ayabwile family with many more years of fruitful service. Be blessed my brother.

Friday, December 01, 2006

What's In the Bible

You may recall a while back I mentioned that at our church we were beginning a series of midweek studies on "What's In The Bible: A Survey from Genesis to Revelation". Audio messages from the series are being made available for download and listening at the church's website.