Monday, December 31, 2007

Best of 2007 (and worst)

As the New Year dawns, I am reminded of the books I found most encouraging and well worth reading again. Here are my top 5:

5. When Sinners Say "I Do", by Dave Harvey. Harvey begins where all aspects of our lives must begin, with the knowledge of God and ourselves. Good theology leading to good marriages makes for a good book.

4. Sermon on the Mount, by Dan Doriani. As we preached through the Sermon on the Mount this past year, many life changing truths were discovered. Doriani's book was key in my preparation as well as personal growth.

3. Decline of African-American Theology, by Thabiti Anyabwile. Excellent work. A better title would have been, "We Slipt Along Ways Baby: Theology from Jupiter Hammon to T.D. Jakes."

2. Amish Grace, by Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher. After the murderous shootings at Amish School in Nickel Mines, PA, the Amish showed the world what forgiveness really looks like. Great and informative read!

1. The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan. I know, its not fair. But every year it remains on my list without peer. Every time I read it I learn something more of God's glory and grace to me in Jesus Christ.

Lastly, here are a couple of books I read that I found disappointing. I am sure some found these books to their liking; I was not among them.

From the Hood to the Hill by Barry C. Black. I really thought I was going to enjoy this autobiographical account of the first black chaplain of the US Senate. Unfortunately, the book was too self-congratulating and indulgent. I suppose that is the nature of autobiographies, but this one was more than this reader could take. Admittedly, I could not even finish it.

If God is So Good, Why Are Blacks Doing So Bad, by James Dixon. This book actually is not a bad book except it was written by a preacher. If it had been written by someone else, I might have thought better of it. However, coming from the pen of a preacher, I expected to hear not just the problem but the solution, namely the gospel. Unfortunately, I did not. Dixon did a good job in diagnosing the issues plaguing Black America but did not offer the only true and lasting solution, namely the application of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all of life. Admittedly, the problem was more my expectation than the author's intention. I just hoped that two would match. They did not.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Eric Redmond Interview

My man Eric Redmond has been interviewed by 9marks. Redmond recounts his own pastoral experience as well as some of the challenges of inter-ethnic and economic ministry. Eric's blog is A Man From Issachar.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Golden Compass

Have you seen the trailer for The Golden Compass? It looks very interesting. My son received a couple of movie passes for Christmas and we plan to go see The Golden Compass soon. Apparently some Christians have sought to boycott the film because of the anti-religion bias of the author of the books upon which the film is based. I suppose you will have to judge such things for yourself. Here is a good review of the film, taking into consideration the issues surrounding it. I plan to see it because it seems like just the type of movie around which my son and I can have great discussion about the nature of the kingdom of God and the challenges the world, the flesh, and the devil pose. Besides, it just looks good!

Decline of AA Theology V

In accessing the soteriology of early African-American Christian thinkers and preachers, Thabiti writes:

Both the "five solas" and the Synod of Dordt's doctrines of total (or radical) depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance (or preservation) of the saints provided the skeletal system for theology in the American colonies. Nearly all African American Christians inherited the "five solas" as a general Protestant framework over and against the Roman Catholic view of authority and justification and the Arminian view of man and grace rejected at Dordt. African Americans gained exposure to these views of salvation through their earliest contact with Europeans in the colonies, especially in the North. Southern slave testimonies and northern writers reveal a "soft orthodoxy" consistent with Reformation solas, with some even putting forth a stronger Calvinistic view of salvation owed largely to the influences of the Great Awakening and early Baptists in the South (p. 175).

In reading this I would not help but recall the words of Scripture in Jeremiah 6:16: Thus says the Lord: "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it and find rest for your souls."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas...

From our hearts to your home. May you rediscover the glory of the Savior and may Christ become a new Christ to you this Christmas.
The Carter Family

Rachel Marie

Siera Lynn and Sarah Nicole

Anthony Jr.

The twins and Ana Elise

The Carter Kids being the Carter Kids!

God Bless You!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Great Television

There is not much on television that would garner the adjective "great", but here is one. I do believe that this is the greatest single scene ever shot for the television viewing audience. And no matter how many times I see it, it never gets old.

The Bible says, "...Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise..." (Matt. 21:6). Even so, out of cartoons for children.

O, that men would praise HIM!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Decline of African-American Theology 4

The central question of any theological perspective is "Who is Jesus?" Thabiti reminds us that Liberal and Liberation theology has led the way for decline of Christology in traditional African-American theology. According to Thabiti, Marcus Garvey said, "The life of Christ was intended to show man that he could lift himself by obedience to the highest soul expression (p. 150)." When examining the works of Howard Thurman, Thabiti says,

"Dr. Thurman denied the uniqueness of Jesus implied in the formula 'the only begotten Son'. He believed that 'any who is as sure of God as was Jesus, can hear for himself: 'Thou art my son, my beloved, this day I have begotten thee.' Moreover, becoming the son of God in the sense of acquiring the mind of Christ and having a similar relationship to God, according to Thurman, 'may be achieved without any necessity whatsoever of making a God out of Jesus (p. 152).'"

The liberal theology of Howard Thurman laid the ground work for the liberation theology of James Cone.

The appeal of liberation theology is the expediency and the immediacy of the need. It seeks to address the existential cry of the image of God for freedom, equality, and peace. Yet, the cyanide in this kool-aid is that it perverts the person and work of Jesus into nothing more than an anthropocentric exorcism. Subsequently, Jesus is only relevant in so far as He is willing and able to address my core issues. Thus, I am able to mold Jesus into the god of my issues. This Jesus inevitably becomes more like me than I like Him. Daily this Jesus is being conformed to my image (real and imagined), instead of me being conformed to His image (eternal and true).

Howard Thurman popularized it. Cone made it academically viable. African-America theology has been on a steady decline ever since.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Mystery of the Manger

Last evening our Children's Sunday School put on our Annual Christmas Program. Every year this is a much anticipated event as their hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm is demonstrated in their first class performance. Every year parents, family, and friends come from all around to see what production the Southwest Children will put together. This year was no different. This year the lower grades put on A Christmas Present and the older children performed, The Mystery of the Manger. Here is just a small excerpt to one of the songs they performed from the musical The Mystery of the Manger by Celeste Clydesdale. We had to change a few things to fit within our cultural context (if you know what I mean :-), yet the message was still the same. Sounds familiar? The video is amateurish by yours truly and does not do justice to these young performers. Hopefully you can still get the message.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pastor Resigns, Integrity Remains

In the midst of all the self-promoting and self-excusing that is popular among the so-called preachers today, it is good to know that there are still men who hold the ministry in high esteem and do not want to bring upon the calling ill-repute. I don't know this man, but I have much respect for his tough but right decision. I pray God reconciles this man with his family and the ministry.

Monday, December 10, 2007

An End to Sagging?

At least in the Atlanta Public School System. According to reports, the Atlanta Public School Board is going to ban sagging pants. This is a noble idea, however, it will be interesting to see how they can enforce the ban. Unless they have strong parental support, they will have a daily fight on their hands. Can't wait for the development of this one.

Decline of AA Theology 3

Whether we realize it or not, our anthropology (our understanding of the nature and conduct of humanity) says alot about our overall theology and understanding about God. A biblical understanding of human nature is usually grounded in a biblical understanding of God. When our doctrine of God goes into decline, so too does our doctrine of humanity. Thabiti does an excellent job in setting forth the decline of African-American theology in the area of anthropology. Early African-American writers and theologians expressed an undeniably biblical doctrine of humanity. Here are some quotes that demonstrate this point:

Jupiter Hammon (1711-1806): In the Bible, we are told what man is. That he was first made holy, in the image of God, that he fell from that state of holiness and became an enemy to God, and that since the fall, all imaginations of the thoughts of his heart are evil, and only evil and that continually. That the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be. And that all mankind was under the wrath and curse of God and must have been forever miserable if they had been left to suffer what their sins deserve.

This was to demonstrat that all humanity (black and white) were under sin and in the same spiritual condition of needing Savior. It also became the foundation for biblical and theological arguments for freedom. In quoting Lemuel Haynes, Thabiti writes:

However, resident in all people despite the Fall was "an innate principle, which is unmoveably placed in the human Species." That innate principle was "Liberty and freedom," which Haynes styled as "a Jewel which was handed Down to man from the cabinet of heaven...Coaeval [sic] with his Existance [sic]" and proceeding "from the Supreme Legislature of the universe." Man's equality with man was evident in the universal impulse toward freedom written by God into the very nature of man and the laws of nature. Efforts to deny this impulse were futile attempts to deny one's self in the case of the bondsman or to usurp the prerogative of God in the case of the enslaver.

In a word, "Awesome!"

Friday, December 07, 2007

Culture Clash 2

The second post in this discussion is now available at CRC. Our brother, Kevin Smith has chimed in. I hear rumblings that more is to come as the discussion deepens. Go check it out!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Decline of AA Theology II

Here is an excellent quote from (as Mark Noll says) Rev. Anyabwile:

The earliest black Christians maintained a tendency toward a Reformed or orthodox view of God as sovereign Ruler of all events. African-Americans built this understanding upon the teachings of Scripture and aligned it with the historic definitions of Christianity. A high view of God's sovereignty allowed early black Christians, despite the horrors of slavery, to trust that God had the necessary power to deliver them from oppression and that he would ultimately do so. Any perceived contradictions between this doctrine of God and the evil afflicting black people were resolved in the character of God. Such a belief implied at least two conclusions. First, these saints concluded that the events of their lives remained in the sovereign control of God. And second, they concluded that the proper response before the ineffable wisdom and providence of God was humility and faith. Both resolutions stirred more faith in God (p. 97).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Megachurches, Megaphones

Our brother Eric Redmond has an excellent article on the growth of the predominantly Black megachurch and the simultaneous lack of theological integrity in these churches. Eric is an excellent writer. I have read many things from him, and I can't wait for the publication of a book by him that I hope is not too long in coming. I read a pre-publication manuscript of it and I must say that we will all be greatly edified once it is in publication. Hopefully it is soon and very soon. Until then, read this article on Megachurches, Megaphones.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Cultures Clashing

Who said reformation was easy? Not me. Whether it is in our own personal theological journeys or in the church at large, serious theological and practical change comes with some constirnation. I have witnessed it and can say that it is not without its hurt feelings and misunderstood motives. Nevertheless, it is worth it. Reformation within the predominantly African-American Christian context is not any different. We can write books, hold conferences, and preach messages, but when it comes down to it, we must ask ourselves what difference will the recovered gospel make in the predominantly African-American context. What will it look like? How does a church let go of the cultural trappings and not lose its cultural soul? How do I affirm the biblically faithful Reformed theology, without having to become culturally like those who have historically held it? Can I still be black and reformed without it infringing upon my non-black brothers and sisters? What am I to do when the reformed culture (if there is one) clashes with my traditional black culture? These questions are not easily answered. Yet, they are relevant and unmistakable when seeking to do reform in an African-American context. And these are some of the questions that have sparked the discussion over at The Council of Reforming Churches. Our brother Eric Redmond has raised the issue. I am sure many other brothers and sisters will chime in. Go check it out.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Decline of African-American Theology

The much anticipated book The Decline of African-American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity has finally arrived to an internet bookstore near you. Our brother Thabiti Anyabwile has done the body of Christ (and the African-American Church in particular) a wonderful service in detailing the decline of historic, biblical, and reformed Christianity within the predominantly African-American Church. Admittedly, this decline is not just located in churches where the membership has been predominantly black, but the decline is easily traced in the broader body of Christ in America as well. Nevertheless, Thabiti puts our focus upon the rarely-criticized, though needing-critique, predominantly African-American expression of Christianity. I am sure that reviews will begin to appear, even as some have offered their pre-publication critique of this work. As I make my way through it, I want to offer, not so much a review but some of the helpful and insightful thoughts of my brother that have particularly struck me in each section. I begin with a point concerning the nature and inspiration of Scripture. According to Thabiti, the Methodist Daniel Payne's (1811-1893) view of Scripture was thus:

The only safe guide for a man or woman, young or old, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, priest or people is the Bible, the whole Bible, nothing but the Bible. (p. 30)

In demonstrating how the view of Scripture has devolved, Thabiti quotes the contemporary Methodist theologian James Cone as saying:

I still regard the Bible as an important source of my theological reflections, but not the starting point. The black experience and the Bible together in dialectical tension serve as my point of departure today and yesterday. The order is significant. I am black first-and everything else comes after that. (p. 52)

In reading this section and Thabiti's careful comparison and evaluation of the erosion of the doctrine of Scripture, it occurred to me that our spiritual fathers approached liberation through the foundational objective truth of the Scriptures. Cone approaches Scripture through the subjective, self-establishing notion of liberation. There is a world of difference between these two views. There is a world of difference between the view of Scripture of the church in Payne's day and the view of Scripture of the same church today.
You can read Thabiti to learn more. I am.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Seeds of Reformation

Question: Where does this statement come from:

We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, and faith, and newness of life.

In case you could not guess, it is taken from one of the historic Reformed confessions, namely the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1833. This brief confession was adopted by the New Hampshire Baptist Convention in 1833 and received wider acceptance in many baptist circles around the country.

Now where does this statement come from:

We believe that the Scriptures teach that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the Gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith, and newness of life.

No, I have not lost my mind. Yes, it is a repeat of the above question, but I have a different answer. This second statement comes from The Articles of Faith found in the back of The New National Baptist Hymnal published by the National Baptist Convention.

The teaching of this statement on the nature of regeneration actually carries with it the seeds for a reformation in the National Baptist Convention. If men would take up the hymnal from which many of them sing every Sunday and teach themselves and their people what their church has historically confessed, they would find that the God they have long heard preached in their churches today is different from the God of the men who first adopted this confession.

I was raised in a National Baptist church. I attended Sunday School conventions and we sang out of the National Baptist hymnal. Yet, I was never taught that regeneration precedes faith (as the above statement suggests). I was never instructed in the theology that leads me to worship a God who is sovereign and to understand the theological implications for my salvation and life. Yet, all the time the hymnal from which we sung contained these truths, not just in the songs, but even in the confession.

I wonder how many National Baptist churches actually take the time to go over the confession with their people. I wonder how many of them actually instruct their children and youth in the doctrines that outline the confession of their church. I know I was not. If any of you are National Baptist could you tell me your experience with the Articles of Faith?
I find it ironic that the seeds for reformation is in the hands of the people every Sunday. Isn't that just like God?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Good News Getting Better

Here is some good news that prayerfully will get even better. We all know how the Southern Baptist, being the largest and most influential protestant denomination, tends to be a trend setter for evangelicalism. For example, if you want to know what evangelical Christians are reading and thinking, check with the large Southern Baptist Church in your area. So, if the current trends suggested by the above-mentioned study continues, can we dare say that we are witnessing and even sharing in a spiritual renewal (or even reformation)?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A (Good) New Blog

New blogs are popping up in the blogosphere everyday. And as we know, everything new is not good. If you are like me, you probably frequently suffer from blog overload. One could spend the better part of one's day just going from blog to blog reading the latest musings of those of us who are so self-possessed as to believe that people whom we don't know would be interested in reading our thoughts. But, as one who does blog (reluctantly at times), I digress.
Today, a new blog has been brought to my attention. And I must say, that while I have really narrowed my blog hopping down, I have added this one to my regular rotation. It is the Miami Pastors Conference Blog (surely you didn't think the conference was going away so quickly). Our brother Jarvis is doing us all a service in creating a blog where he will review the content of the conference, and give us opportunity to interact once again.

Thanks Jarvis. This is a good new blog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not Mincing Words

Today our brother Lance is not mincing words. He has spent some time watching the The Baal Network on television and has concluded that "an appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; and (the) people love to have it so" (Jer. 5:30-31). Check it out, but be careful. Our brother has both barrels firing today.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Real Struggle

One of the ways that African-Americans like to speak of the ongoing fight for equality and against racism in America is to speak of "the struggle." In fact, in order to discern ones sympathies and heart for so-called African-American causes, one is often asked if you are "down with the struggle." Needless to say, the fight for equality for the under-served in this country goes on. Indeed, there remains a struggle to see American continue to pursue the true meaning of her creed, "That all men are created equal." However, there is a far greater and substantial struggle waging that the struggle for civil rights often eclipses in the minds and hearts of so-called Christians. It is the struggle for the hearts of men and women as they embrace or reject the true meaning of the Cross of Christ. It is a struggle to understand the cosmic battle over sin is also and equally an intimate and internal battle in the hearts of men and women. It is this struggle for which the cross, and the Christ crucified on it, was waged and won for His people.

Unfortunately, these two struggles have been so intertwined by some that the latter has lost its clarity and preeminence. Some theologians have sought to use the latter to support the former and thus the struggle for the cross ultimately becomes nothing more than a struggle for Civil Rights. In this scenario, men and women gain the world, but lose their souls. They gain the right to vote, but lose the victory in Christ.

Don't get me wrong, I am down with the struggle. Having been on the demeaning side of racism and prejudice, I know that there yet remains a need for America to be diligent in living out her mandate. However, I am more gripped with the depths of my own sin than I am with the prejudice of others. I am more gripped by the cross when I understand that it was not just racism that sent Christ there, but even the pride, lust, anger, and all other unmentionables that lie in my heart and actions. In other words, as Christians wax eloquently about the struggle, I pray that the real struggle, the struggle within, is not lost or subverted by the struggle without. I pray that African-American church goers and theologians would not seek to gain America and yet lose their souls.

This morning I am particularly moved by this because my brother and friend Thabiti Anyabwile has posted an entry at his blog that I believe to be the most heartfelt post I have ever read from him. As I read it my heart was drawn across the water to that beautiful island where he currently resides. I wanted to reach my hand out to him and hug him and let him know that he has a friend and comrade in me who is down with him in The Real Struggle.

Thank you my brother and friend. For you, if I might borrow from my favorite poet:

The theological woods are dangerous and deep
But our Lord has many promises to keep
And by His grace, we have many miles to go before we sleep
Many miles to go before we sleep

Saturday, November 24, 2007

50 Things I Love About Politics

Recently Comment Magazine asked if I would write a list article giving 50 Things I love about the world of politics. It seems they have published my findings:

When I was asked to set forth 50 things I love about the world of politics, my first thought was that I did not have 50 things I love about politics. However, on second thought, I realized that between things I love and things I love to hate, I had more than 50 things . . .

1. The Sovereignty of God. God changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings—Daniel 2:21.

2. My mother—thirty-nine years of public service as an elected local public official.

3. The President of the United States. Without a doubt the most difficult, public, and fascinating job in the world—wouldn't want it for anything.

4. The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." more

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Michael Horton on "What is the Gospel"

One of the many delights from the conference was the renewed fellowship we had with Michael Horton. Those who have a vision for the spread of Biblical Reformed theology should know well the labors of Michael Horton over the years. He has long been at the center for reformation among modern evangelicals. His life has been dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the implications of the truth contained there in. He was gracious enough to join us in Miami and share with us concerning the gospel. In particular he addressed "What the Gospel Is." Here is a short excerpt from his first message. Thanks Mike. Your ministry has been used of God to inspire others to stand firm and labor for a Modern Reformation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Gospel and the Creation

One of the staples of the Miami Pastors Conference is the ministry of Ken Jones. Ken has long been a stalwart in the movement for Reformed theology in broader evangelicalism in general and among African-Americans in particular. Our admiration for Ken and the labors he has faithfully discharged at Greater Union Baptist Church in Compton CA and on the radio with The White Horse Inn, go without saying. Every year we look forward to the preaching and fellowship of our brother from the west coast.

As you know the conference was on "What is the Gospel". Ken opened the conference with a message on The Gospel and the Creation. Here is an excerpt from his message as he sets the direction his presentation will take. Ken is always clear, precise, and convincing. Here is just a taste of what I mean.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Best of the Time

Since returning from the Miami Conference, I have been consistently asked about my time there. In particular, people want me to explain what I enjoyed the most. Honestly, I am finding it difficult, if not impossible, to describe the atmosphere and the overall experience of being at the Miami Pastors Conference this year. I can confidently say that this was the best Pastors conference yet. Nevertheless, if I had to pinpoint one aspect of the conference that really stood out it would have to be the preaching. The content, subject, and the delivery of the messages provided some of the best reformed experiential preaching I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Over the next few days I hope to upload a few excerpts from some of the messages. First one is from Michael Leach. His sermon was The Gospel and the Fall of Man. Enjoy!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Glory of the Gospel

You may remember back in May I posted information on new weekly radio program, The Glory of the Gospel with Pastor Michael Leach. This coming Sunday Mike will share a few of his thoughts concerning the Miami Pastors Conference. He has graciously made an advance copy of the program available here. Do download and listen to it today. The link will expire in a weeks time. And lets pray for Michael and All Saints Redeemer Church in their efforts to give a clear clarion call of the gospel message on radio in the Atlanta area.

Update: Michael Leach also shares some on his thoughts at the CRC website.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Those Who Were There

Some initial reflections upon the Miami Pastors Conference are beginning to appear in the blogosphere. I have been receiving emails and calls testifying consistently that this was a most ministry-encouraging, heart-warming, mind-challenging, fellowship-building, gospel-proclaiming, and Christ-honoring Pastors Conference. Thabiti Anyabwile has some initial comments speaking to the fellowship and joy that such gospel-centeredness produces. Quincy Jones has some reflections on the ministry encouragement and hope he experienced.

More comments are sure to appear. So be on the look out. If you read them before I do, give a brother the heads up.

Update: Our brother Ebony Puritan has some excellent preliminary comments on the Conference as well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sovereignty of God over the Nations

On my recent trip to Miami for the Pastors Conference, I did one of my rituals when traveling from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport here in Atlanta. Instead of riding the terminal trains (like most of you lazy stiffs) I walked to my terminal because I wanted to enjoy once again the wonderful African Art on display. Everytime I walk route between the terminals, I am amazed and even in awe of the wonderful pieces of art and the message these pieces say to me. They remind me that our God is sovereign over the nations and even though I have no guarantee that those who created these magnificent pieces of art acknowledge the one true God and Savior Jesus Christ, I am reminded that all true and beautfiful things, including the truth and beauty that is displayed in these pieces, are a reflection of the truth and beauty that comes only from Him. If you have never taken the time to observe these pieces, the next time you are in the airport in Atlanta, eat an extra Snickers candy bar and walk rather than ride through the terminal. You will be glad you did. But until then, here are a few of my favorite pieces and the inscriptions on them.

Generation Pyramid by Gedion Nyanhongo from Zimbabwe

The Protected Family by Joe Mutasa from Zimbabwe

The Traveling Family by Amos Supuni from Malawi (personal favorite)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dr Jonas at the Pastor Appreciation Banquet

I just returned from the Miami Pastors Conference. I am still collecting my thoughts and the pictures I will share in the coming days. However, what I do want to share with you today is the ministry of Dr. Hensworth Jonas. Every year on the evening prior to the start of the Miami Pastors Conference, Glendale Baptist Church holds their annual Pastor Appreciation Banquet. This year the banquet speaker was Dr. Jonas.

Jonas is the Executive Director of the East Caribbean Baptist Mission and Presiding Elder of the Baptist Circuit of Churches in Antigua & Barbuda. He is a faithful pastor and teacher of God's word, and a brother on the front line of God's kingdom as it is expressed in the Caribbean. It is wonderful knowing that there are brothers in Antigua & Barbuda standing for Reformed Biblical truth. Below is an excerpt from the message he delivered at the banquet last week. He preached from Psalm 73.

Friday, November 02, 2007

"No!" To Women in Combat

John Piper has just written on one of the most distressing concerns of our modern culture. His article, Co-ed Combat and Cultural Cowardice, strikes at the heart of a society gone mad. Any society willing to sacrifice the lives of its mothers and daughters on the ungodly altar of gender expediency, deserves the punishment of God for its cowardly sin. Where has our honor and dignity gone. Women have long served honorably and faithfully in our countries military, both directly and supportive. However, the move to put women in combat, is more egregious than putting women at nose tackle for the Patriots and Colts game. The punishment and duress a woman would sustain in an NFL game pales in comparison to that which she will encounter on the field of combat, under enemy fire, and potentially in enemy hands. Yet our society is not pushing for a mass influx of women to the NFL. Why into combat? I agree with Piper as he writes:

If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he’s a wimp... read more

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Freedom from Western White Evangelical Captivity

Dr. Soong Chan Rah is unapologetic in declaring that what we need today is freedom from Western White Evangelical Captivity. His message declares that the majority culture in America in general and the church in particular must grapple with the growing minority culture and the God-ordained influence this culture is having on the church. His message is bold and clear. Without a doubt, Rah's message is a challenge. Yet, I could not agree more with his words concerning privilege and submission. So take some time to listen to this message, Freedom to Captives. It will make you think.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Writing and Talking

I have had the privilege and pleasure of writing a little bit. Over the short span of my life, I have had the privilege of having several articles published as well as a book. Lord willing, there will be another book published sometime next year. However, while I thank God for the opportunity and ability to write, I am no where near the writer I hope to be. I have much to learn and I pray by God's grace to learn it and share it with others. Yet, because I have written, many people assume I have all the answers to their writing woes. The fact is, I am ever learning my self.

Today, I was reminded of the words I often tell my son when he is writing. I tell him to write like he talks. And then when he does. I tell him not to write like he talks. Sounds confusing? My son thinks so too. Actually Dave Zimmerman of IVP clears up the confusion for us in article "Writing, Talking, and Best Practices: An Editor's Diatribe" (HT:JT). Dave writes:

There are at least two principles in writing a book:
1. Write like you talk.

2. Don’t write like you talk.
Most people can get one or the other right. The challenge—and, on the face of it, the impossible task—is to get both right. more

Monday, October 22, 2007

Miami on My Mind

As the Miami Pastors Conference is quickly approaching, I just wanted to remind everyone who has not registered to get registered. This year promises to be great. According to recent reports, registrations are up and ahead of last years pace. It promises to be the best attended of these conferences and the subject matter could not be more needful and relevant. There will also be a workshop for ministry wives as the conference continues to grow and invite all to come. To get the latest on the conference and to register go here. With Miami on my mind, don't be surprised if I don't have more to say as the time draws near.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Living Reformed

Michael Leach recently did an interview in which he discussed what Reformed theology means for everyday living. He summed up the distinctives of the Reformed life as living:


You can listen to the entire interview here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Faith and Foreclosures

Atlanta is a most religious city. It has more megachurches per capita than any other city in America. It is home to some of the more infamous prosperity preachers, bishops, prophets, and prophetesses. Most of them are living large or desiring to do so. Thus, their places of worship are filled with men and women who desire to live even as their preacher or bishop is living. Unfortunately, this has caused many, too many, to over extend themselves and find themselves in serious financial straights. It is also causing me to wonder if there is not a connection to the popularity of these prosperity preachers in Atlanta and the serious increase of foreclosures in the Atlanta area.

According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, foreclosures in the Atlanta area are up 49 percent from a year ago. The total estimated value of properties entering foreclosure in metro Atlanta was $1,076,975,783. I can not help but wonder, how many of these people are the victims of some unbiblical and greed-ladened preaching over the years. I wonder how many of these people sit in places where the preacher has told them over and over again that they can claim whatever they name. I wonder how many of these people have been hoodwinked into believing that all they needed was faith and the house and everything else could be theirs. It saddens me to know that so many of these people call themselves Christians and go to church with a sincere desire to know what the Bible says, only to be sold a bill of goods and to be robbed first of their money and then later of their faith.

Friends, I am not a prophet. Thus, I can not say dogmatically what God is saying to the Atlanta area and the rest of the country through the loss of so many homes and the prospect of financial pain. However, I do know that we, who claim to hold to the faith once and for all delivered, must continue to preach the faithful, God-exalting, self-sacrificing gospel of Jesus Christ. As more and more people are brought crashing down because of the empty worthless promises of the prosperity gospel, might we be found preaching the true faith and thus have a place for them to land - if God so wills.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Easy Listening Preaching

Last evening 60 Minutes aired their interview with Joel Osteen. Osteen shared his philosophy of ministry and teaching. Undoubtedly, Joel seems to be a very likable and affable guy. And with a name like "Joel" who wouldn't like him. However, Michael Horton was also interviewed briefly for the segment and he shared his insightful commentary on Osteen's ministry and philosophy. Horton said that Osteen's preaching, if one used a music analogy, could be called "easy listening." I think that is an accurate and kind assessment, though Horton did later refer to Osteen's teaching as heresy. If you missed it, you can watch the broadcast online here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Who is Jesus the Christ?

Here is a sista who seems to get it. She seems to indict all of our fadish notions and cuts to the heart of the matter, namely, who is Jesus. Might we be encouraged to know that all have not bowed the knee to the inticing gods of this present church age, though far too many have.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Lance Makes An Offer You Can't Refuse

The Miami Conference is quickly approaching. We are anticipating another year of growth and grace with this much anticipated and needed conference. It is quickly becoming a mainstay within the burgeoning Reformed African-American community. If you have not already, make arrangements to be there. As an added incentive our brother Lance Lewis is making an offer few, if any, should refuse. Lance is offering a scholarship, which includes registration and hotel. This is a magnanimous gesture by him and I pray that someone will put it to good use.

Thanks Lance.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Sermon on the Mount

We just completed a nine-month long series on the Sermon on the Mount. The sermon preparation was a challenge to my spiritual growth and an encouragement to my soul. The sermons I had the privilege of preaching to the congregation were first preached to me times and again. I am thanking God for giving me opportunity to study in depth and to preach this wonderful passage of scripture. I am particularly grateful for those from whom I learned much in the process. Besides the many commentaries on Matthew, here is a list of books we found particularly helpful over these months.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Very Right of God

Eric Redmond has posted an excellent piece on the prerogative of God and the interpretation of Luke 13:1-9. This passage received much attention in light of the not-too-long-ago tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Eric writes:

"As a pastor who loves his people, I can only preach of a God who is free to do all things as the Eternally Good God. I cannot promote a God who is limited by anything or who grants unrestrained freedom to creatures that are sinful. To do so would make for a worse calamity than the collapse of a bridge. We would instead collapse upon ourselves the very right of God to be God".

You can read the entire piece here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Black Men and Dogs

Recently in an essay on National Public Radio, journalist Kevin Blackistone suggested that the actions of Michael Vick should not color our views of black men and their dogs. The piece is good and worth your time of reading and/or listening to. You can do so by clicking here. However, while I enjoyed listening to the essay, I was most intrigue by his last paragraph. He concluded his essay with these words:

"I'm not necessarily a religious man, but I do believe in much of the wisdom from the good book, like Proverbs 12:10. It says: "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."

The way he states this is interesting to me because I am currently putting together my sermon for this coming Sunday on the final words of Matthew 7. These are the summary words following our Lord's Sermon on the Mount. They state:

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes (Matt. 7:28-29).

The people were astonished and amazed at our Lord's words. Isn't it interesting that people like Mr. Blackistone are still amazed and astonished at the truth of Scripture, but do not seem to be amazed at the God who authors those Scriptures? I appreciate the fact that Mr. Blackistone recognizes the truth when he reads it, and apparently believes that the Word of God has some authority. Unfortunately, he is not "religious" enough to submit to the authority behind the Word of God. And thus, he believes in "much" of the wisdom of the good book. Being in impressed with the truth is one thing. Trusting in the God of truth is another.

Yes, it is true that cruelty to our animals is a sin. And it is true that black men do have a good history with their dogs. This is because even a dog knows who his lord is. Do you Mr. Blackistone? I wonder, do we?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cheron Hardy in Haiti

Cheron Hardy is a missionary in Haiti. That is how she joyfully describes herself. Indeed she is right. She runs an orphanage there and brings the gospel and grace of God to many a man, woman, boy, and girl. Her life is a true testament to the wonderful message of the Gospel and the pleasure of God in seeing the gospel taken to the nations. This past Wednesday, Cheron was back home and she shared with us an update from Haiti and challenged us to pray for the nations and to lay our lives down so that we might really live. You can listen to and download her message here. It is a keeper.

And when you remember, pray for Cheron. Or better yet, pray we would have more young men and women with the heart she has for the Glory of God and the good of the nations.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

2007 Pastors Conference - "What is the Gospel?"

The 2007 Miami Pastors Conference is quickly coming upon us. The conference theme is one of the most urgent needs, namely "What is the Gospel?" It appears every generation the issue of the Gospel is raised. In every generation the gospel comes under attack and in every generation it must be defended. Ours is no different. Though the issues are old, the tactics are more advanced, insidious, and in many ways more docile and therefore more deadly. Today the false gospel is being dealt out with sweet, tasteful words and entertainment. Ours is a generation that not only hears the false gospel preached from large popular pulpits and platforms, but we also hear it sung with melodious voices and by large impressive choirs. Perhaps more than any other generation, our generation has taken the false gospels and put them to songs. These songs have catchy tunes and nice beats, yet are the purveyors of heresy and error. Unfortunately, people are innocuous to the error contained in these songs and thus they not only sing them in the car, but inevitably transfer them to the choir. And the church that once simply denied the biblical gospel from the pulpit is now denying it from the choir stand. In other words, the gospel is under attack from every quarter. When we understand that this is the case, we will understand the need to define and defend once again the true gospel in this generation. This is charge of the men who will gather to preach and teach at Glendale Baptist Church in Miami FL for the 2007 Miami Pastors Conference on November 8 - 10, 2007. Registration is open. You can find more information on the line up of speakers, schedule, cost, and accommodations by clicking here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Segregation or Assimilation?

Lionel Woods is sharing his thoughts on his faith and experience. Very thoughtful. Check it out.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Follow the Light, My Child

While we were on vacation, I had opportunity to take some great pictures of the family. One of my favorite pics was taken as I was walking behind our youngest daughter and we were heading for the lighthouse at Lake Michigan. It was a windy day and waves beat heavily and steadily against the rocks. You could see her keeping her feet steady and she headed straight for the lighthouse. She refused my help, she wanted to do it by herself. I remember recalling what a beautiful and awesome display of God's power was Lake Michigan that day. I also remember thinking how gracious and merciful God has been to us in giving us these little children to steward for His glory. As I later reviewed this picture I could not but help praying that God would keep her on the path heading toward his marvelous, guiding light.
When Christian, in The Pilgrim's Progress, was experiencing the weight of his burden and the need to flee the City of Destruction, Evangelist asked him, "Do you see yonder shining light?" Christian replied, "I think I do." Evangelist continued, "Keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto, so shalt thou see the gate; at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do.” As my children walk through this world and feel the winds blowing against them and the waves beating against their paths, I pray they will remember to keep the light in their eye and move steadily toward the Lighthouse and may it "Shine, Shine, on them."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Why the PC(USA)?

Nathan Byrd answers why he has remained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) while so many question the theological integrity of his denomination. While the question would seem difficult for any person in the PCUSA, Nathan understands that the question for him as a black man is particularly acute. His answer is here.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Speaking of the Old Paths

Stephen Nichols is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. He is a professor of Church History and Theology at Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School in Lancaster, GA. There are a plethora of books out there on Church History. But what I particularly like about Nichols is how readable and engaging he is. His books are not filled with seemingly meaningless minutia (you know the kind of history books we read in college and seminary). Rather, his books are written with the church in mind, and not his colleagues in academia (though I am sure they would all benefit from his work). Timothy George said that Stephen Nichols "makes church history come alive." I concur. I am a lover of history and am always looking for good readable material. Thus, I am becoming more and more inclined to read everything that Nichols writes. If you are interested in reading some good church history, you would do well to get a hold of some of Nichols books. Of particular interest may be his books, Pages From Church History and The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World. Remember, you can't walk in the old paths unless you know where they are.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Road Home

As you can see, I have not blogged lately. My family and I just returned from a trip to Michigan to visit our families. I was able to get a little writing done and some rest and recreation (this always includes golf). I never look forward to driving to Michigan. If you have ever driven across country, you know it can be a tiring and trying it can be. The kids were good. Of course they had their moments, but for the most part, they were good traveling companions. But now the trip is over, and it is good to be back at home. However, whenever I am in Michigan I always feel I am home. No matter where I have lived, my mother's home has always seemed to be home to me. She still lives in the house I was born and raised in. It still stands on that old dirt road. The neighbors have changed and the faces in the community are no longer recognizable to me, but my mother is still standing as one of the matriarchs of this small wooded-community on Woodland Lake in Woodland Park, MI. As I walked around the neighborhood, I was reminded of all the old trails and paths we would take as children. Many of those old paths are still remaining. This reminded me, that the old paths are often best because they have been tried and found to be true and safe. Perhaps this is what God had in mind when he said, "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls." (Jer. 6:16) The old paths remind us that there have been those who have faithfully gone before us. We are not the first to walk this path and thus can rely upon their testimonies even as we are establishing our own. Inevitably there is a rest and assurance in knowing that God had lead others down the same road and brought them home. It gives us the confidence that He is the same faithful God today. Ultimately, it is just good to know that the road home is not only a welcomed road, but it is well traveled one.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

For Men Only

In a previous post I mentioned that one of the ways that God has taught me to keep my marriage joyful and hopeful was to understand and celebrate that God made men and women different and has given them differing, yet equally God-glorifying, roles. One of the insidious and fatuous notions that is pawned off on our society today is that men and women are the same and role distinctions are not necessary. Yet, here is a commentator who reminds us that there are places for men only in the lives of their children and this world. Take a listen.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Can't Serve God and Money

Yesterday I preached from Matt. 6:19-24. Verse 24 declares that no one can serve God and money. Just in case you are having a difficult time believing that, here is living proof.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Exporting Prosperity Religion

One of the reasons I have not blogged much this week is because I have been spending much time preparing my sermon for this coming Sunday (just one of the reasons). The text is Matthew 6:19-24. In my preparation I read this article from Christianity Today on Gospel Riches: Africa's rapid embrace of prosperity Pentecostalism provokes concern--and hope. If you have not read it already, do so. It is a sad but true commentary on our exporting of our destructive and godless brand of American Christianity. May God have mercy upon us in our faithful proclamation of the gospel. And may he have mercy on those African brothers and sisters who genuinely want to worship the God of heaven and not their own bellies.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Top 10 for the 14th

Yesterday my wife and I celebrated fourteen years of marriage. Over those 14 years, God has been pleased to teach this poor sinner a few things about being married and how to experience it with joy and hope. Here are my Top Ten Ways to Keep Your Marriage Full of Joy and Hope:

10. Know Your Spouse. What does your spouse enjoy? Know what would be of particular benefit to their joy, and if possible, seek to do it.

9. Appreciate God Ordained Roles. God has made men and women different on many levels. These roles are for God's glory and our good. When we learn to walk in them and to find our satisfaction in them, we find joy and hope.

8. Public Display of Affection. I have learned and am still learning to receive and give this most important aspect of marital relationship. We all need to be affirmed physically with a touch and a look. My wife does this well. I could do it better.

7. Speak Well Of Your Spouse. Never, but never, make derogatory remarks about your spouse in the company of others. Give others the assurance that your spouse has your confidence. Believe me, your spouse will eventually hear of it, one way or another.

6. Publicly Commend. When given the opportunity, be complimentary of your spouse in public. Thank God for them and how God is using them to make you more Christ-like.

5. Serve. Give up your comfort for theirs. In fact, find your joy in bringing them joy. My wife puts me to shame in this department.

4. Love Your Children. Any parent will tell you that they are inclined to love those who love on their children. Most spouses are no different.

3. Keep Sex Fresh and Selfless. Intimacy in marriage is one of the first things to go sour when a marriage begins to fade. So keep it fresh. Learn what your spouse enjoys and learn to do it well. Also (especially for men), seek the satisfaction and pleasure of your spouse before your own. Remember to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2. Forgive Freely. If more of the couples I counsel with could learn to not be offended too easily and to forgive even before their spouses ask, they would find that their joy and hope would be greatly enhanced. Most of our bitterness is due to unforgiveness. Make forgiveness a lifestyle, rather than an event. Know that sooner or later the shoe will be on the other foot.

And the number one way to keep your marriage full of joy and hope...

1. Love God and the Gospel. Jesus said it best when He told us to Love our God with all our heart and to love our neighbors as ourself. The glory of the gospel is that we know that in our unloveliness, we have been loved by God. In return we can love our spouses even when they are unlovely. Not because of who they are, but because of who Christ is. Not because of what our spouses do, but because of what Christ has done.
The Gospel makes all the Difference!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Thy Father Will Reward Thee...

On yesterday at Southwest Christian Fellowship, Pastor Robert Benson preached from Matthew 6:16-18:

Moreover, when you shall fast, be not, like the hypocrites, dejected: for they disfigure their faces, that it may be evident to men that they fast. Verily I say to you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face, that it may not appear to men that thou fastest, but to thy Father, who is in secret, and thy Father, who seeth in secret, will reward thee openly.
During the sermon, he shared a quote from John Calvin, which I found most edifying:

Thy Father will reward thee
. When he promises a reward from God to fastings, this mode of expression, as we said a little before with respect to prayer, is not strictly accurate. There is a wide difference, indeed, between prayer and fastings. Prayer holds the first rank among the antics of piety: but fasting is a doubtful operation, and does not, like alms, belong to the class of those actions which God requires and approves. It is pleasing to God, only so far as it is directed to another object: and that is, to train us to abstinence, to subdue the lust of the flesh, to excite us to earnestness in prayer, and to testify our repentance, when we are affected by the view of the tribunal of God. The meaning of Christ’s words is: “God will one day show that he was pleased with those good works, which appeared to be lost, because they were concealed from the eyes of men.”

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Is this Evangelism?

I don't want to sound as if I am being critical of these fellas, because I am not. I remember too often being in similar situations and responding in like fashion. The longer the conversation goes, the more frustrating it often becomes. And when frustration sets in, you tend to say things that are true, but not edifying. It probably does not help this was all in front of the camera. When the camera is rolling we tend to perform for it. Nevertheless, I am sure these gentlemen mean well and are seeking to stand for the truth. I just wonder if you think this is biblical evangelism. Take a look and decide.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

2007 Stone Mountain Conference on Reformed Theology

It was a blessed event! This year's conference on Reformed Theology, while it was just the 2nd year, increased in size. But even more important than the number of attendees was the atmosphere. It was an atmosphere of Gospel preaching. Friends, the good news of the triumph of God in Christ over sin and Satan was wonderfully set forth. Those glorious things that the angels long to understand, we were privileged to hear proclaimed.

We thank Pastor Michael Leach for the vision for this conference. We thank Grace Presbyterian for opening their doors. We also thank the PCA Bookstore for supplying a more than adequate book table. We thank all of you who prayed. But most of all, we thank God for the promise of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the gospel in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Here are a view of the sermonic highlights:

Pastor Roger Skepple on "The Need to Preach the Gospel"

Pastor Robert Benson on "The Gospel in the Life of the Church"

Pastor Michael Leach on "The Gospel and the Eschaton"

Friday, July 27, 2007

Stone Mountain Conference on Reformed Theology

This evening begins the 2nd Annual Stone Mountain Conference on Reformed Theology. The theme of this years conference is Recovering the Gospel: The Crucial Need for the Church. The conference will be held at Grace Presbyterian Church 650 Rowland Rd Stone Mountain GA. The conference begins at 6:00 pm with dinner and fellowship. Here is the schedule of speakers and topics:

Friday, July 27

7:30 pm "What is the Gospel?" - Michael Leach
8:30 "The Unifying Impact of the Gospel in All Scripture" - Anthony Carter

Saturday, July 28

8:00 am Continental Breakfast
8:30 Worship
9:00 "The Necessity of Preaching the Gospel" - Roger Skepple
10:00 "The Centrality of the Gospel in the Life of the Church" - Robert Benson
11:00 Q and A
11:40 "The Gospel and Eschatology" - Michael Leach

If you are in the area, we would love to see you there.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review of Lawson's Expository Genius of Calvin

Eric Redmond has a review of Steve Lawson's book The Expository Genius of John Calvin.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Preaching The Pilgrim's Progress

Spent most of last week at Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church in Lecanto, FL. Seven Rivers is a great place to be. Ray and the rest of the pastors have really created a gospel-filled atmosphere which makes it easy and yet challenging to preach. And that is just the way it should be. A church should challenge its preachers to preach the gospel. And when the gospel is preached, the church should receive it with joy. Also, when the preachers fail to preach the gospel, the church should remind the preacher that his calling is nothing less than the gospel. I really get this since at Seven Rivers.

I had the wonderful opportunity to teach at their Annual Family Bible Conference. I taught four nights on The Gospel Pilgrimage in The Pilgrim's Progress. Preaching the gospel as John Bunyan teaches it in The Pilgrim's Progress is a delight for me. Preaching it at Seven Rivers is more grace than this more sinner could possibly deserve.

If you are interested, you can listen to the messages and download the outlines here. Also, there is audio from previous year's conferences as well.

A Like-Minded Brother

Lance has an excellent follow-up to my Mythbuster #1. If you have not read it already, check it out today.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Has anyone seen Christian?

He will be at Seven Rivers this coming week. See ya there!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

An Interview at Pure Church

FellowElder over at Pure Church has an interview with yours truly (in case you are interested).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Question of Unity

Recently, Mark Dever at Together for the Gospel, raised the issue of Calvinist and Arminians Together. He stated, "The real front line is not between Calvinist evangelicals and Arminian evangelicals. It is between those who are lost in their sins and those who have been saved by God's sheer grace in Christ." I can find some agreement with Mark on this point. However, it has caused me to ponder a couple of questions. Perhaps you can help me with the answers.

"Do I find more common ground and unity with an Evangelical Calvinist who allows for the ordination of women or with an Evangelical Arminian who does not? Can we be together with Complementarian Arminian Christians but not with Egalitarian Reformed Christians?"

Whew! Perhaps we just have too many labels to begin with.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Mythbuster #2

Here is myth #2: There can be diversity without mutual submission. The recent Supreme Court decision concerning the use of ethnicity in seeking diversity in public schools has sparked much discussion and provided much fodder for internet blogs. Most of my evangelical reformed brothers and sisters are applauding this decision because it perhaps puts another nail in the coffin of affirmative action. Well, I am not sure if affirmative action should be buried or not. However, I am sure that unless my brothers and sisters of European descent learn the action of submission to their brothers and sisters of African descent, ethnic diversity in the American church is but a pipe dream, a myth of substantial proportions.
Most of my white evangelical and reformed brothers and sisters are speaking quite positively and eloquently on racial diversity. For this, I commend them. However, until we see white men and women doing what black men and women have longed learned to do(namely sitting under and being submissive to the teaching and authority of those who are not ethnically like them), we will not see real diversity.
Most of the diversity we presently see is black men and women going to where white people are. Even when predominantly white churches call a black man to be the pastor, it is black people going to where white people are most comfortable. Real diversity will happen when we see white people regularly and joyfully going to where black men preach and teach. We will see real diversity when white people learn to submit to the minority culture as black people have had to submit to the majority culture. Paul says in Ephesians 5:17-21 that one of the evidences of being filled with the Spirit is "submitting to one another in the fear of God."
Mutual submission is an undeniable evidence of the working of the Spirit. It is particularly evident when the majority learn the worth and joy of submitting to the minority. It demonstrates that these are they who fear God more than men. Where there is no mutual submission, there is no real fear of God. Where there is no real fear of God, there will be no real diversity. To think otherwise is a myth. I pray the church of Jesus Christ would learn mutual submission and bury once and for all the myth of any serious diversity without it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mythbuster #1

There is a show on The Discovery Channel called Mythbusters. On this show, the men and women do scientific experiments seeking to prove whether or not commonly held notions and/or ideas are true or just well accepted myths. It is an interesting show, if you ever get a chance to see. Watching the show one day, caused me to think about some myths that may be common in my circle of associations. Over the next few posts (hopefully) I will seek to mention a few myths and hopefully debunk them. So here is myth #1: Reformed Theology is Anglo.
Recently I read a comment where a white PCA pastor was quoted as saying that Reformed Theology was Anglo, or even too Anglo. I find this notion to be rather nebulous. If Reformed theology is biblical (as I would assume this pastor believes) then how could it be white or black or yellow, or any race. What is white about Total Depravity? We can color sin any race or culture and we would be right. What is white about Unconditional Election. What is white about Limited Atonement? What is white about Irresistible Grace? What is white about the Perseverance of the Saints? These are biblical doctrines. They are argued from the Scriptures not from culture.
Perhaps the pastor had in mind that the PCA was Anglo, even too Anglo. On this idea I would not argue with him. But to say that Reformed Theology is Anglo, is in this instance to equate Reformed Theology with the PCA. Yet, perhaps this is another myth that we need to burst. Extra: The PCA is not Reformed Theology.
Perhaps the pastor meant to say that the Reformed Theology that is expressed within the PCA is too Anglo. Again, I will defer to him since he would know better than me. However, this is the statement as it should be understood, and not the categorical statement that Reformed Theology itself is Anglo.
The fact of the matter is that the reformed theology which I hold is not white. The reformed theology which I preach is not black. I may find myself expressing it within an African-American context, but the truths themselves are not tied to any culture or race. If they are true, they transcend cultures. The law of gravity is a law discovered by Isaac Newton, but it is not a white law, it is an universal law. Such are the truths of Scripture.
Reformed Theology. Color it Anglo? Color it African-American? No. Color it biblical and debunk this myth.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Eric Interviews Dean of HUDS

Our brother Eric Redmond has a short interview with the newly appointed dean of Howard University Divinity School (HUDS), Dr. Alton Pollard III. If the answers to the questions are any indication of the state of theological training within the institutionalized black church in America, then boys and girls, the black church is in worse condition than I first believed. God help us.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

New Life was Tight!

As I get caught up from the my recent travels, I must say that the New Life Bible Conference (June 21-23, 2007) was again a most encouraging and uplifting experience. Louis and Jamie Love and the good folks at New Life Fellowship Church do a wonderful job at welcoming visitors to the northside of Chicago and treating them to a most encouraging Bible conference for free. And even though I have had the pleasure and privilege of speaking at the conference for several years now, I am most appreciative of the preaching that I get to sit under. This year the conference was on The Godly Life. I had the task of sharing on the The Godly Family and The Godly and the Church. I pray my messages were half as enlightening, inspiring, and challenging as were Thabiti's (The Godly and Culture and The Godly and Evangelism) and Louis' (On the Godly Life and Mortification of Sin). These brothers were tight and right.

If you have ever been to the conference, then you know that New Life looks forward to this time of the year and they come out to serve their brothers and sisters and put on Christ. I can say from the personal experience that they wear Christ well. If you have not been to the New Life Conference, I implore you to mark your calender for next year and be sure to be in attendance. I have heard from a good and reliable source that the conference next year promises to be even better than this year. The speakers have not yet been confirmed, but with the subject matter and the short list of potential invitees promises to be as good as ever.

Also this year, the kind folks at Reformation Heritage Books sent a representative and he brought with him a more than adequate book table. It provided a nice addition to the conference and hopefully a partnership for many years to come.
Here are a few of the pictures from this years conference. Hopefully they will wet your appetite and help establish your plans for next year. Lord willing, maybe next year your face will be among these, if it is not already. Enjoy.

Dea. Chisum giving opening remarks

Pastor Love preaching on The Godly Life

Checking out the Book Table before the Session begins

Adriane and Jamie

Big TA and Little TA

Thabiti preaching on The Godly and Evangelism

Wyeth Duncan at the keyboard

Monday, June 18, 2007

Anthony's Speaking Schedule

These speaking dates are in addition to the regular times I preach at our home church, Southwest Christian Fellowship in Atlanta, GA. I will normally preach at our church once or twice a month.

13-18 Family Bible Conference, Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church, Lecanto, FL
27 - 28 Stone Mountain Conference on Reformed Theology, Stone Mountain, GA

5 -15 Wedding Anniversary and Family Vacation
19 Cornerstone Church, Knoxville, TN

November 2-4 Singles Retreat, Intown Community Church, Atlanta, GA

7 -10 Miami Pastors Conference, Miami FL


January 2008

1 Campus Outreach New Years Gathering, Atlanta, GA

24-26 Symposium on Worship, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI


27-28 Covenant College Chapel Service, Lookout Mountain, TN


27-29 Southwest Christian Fellowship Men's Retreat


19-12 New Life Bible Conference, Vernon Hills, IL


5-8 Miami Pastor's Conference

Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's Official, Eric has been Elected!

I was not planning to do any blog post this week. I have been very busy meeting deadlines and preparing for a busy next couple of weeks. However, I just received news that last evening the ol' boys at the Southern Baptist Convention elected Eric Redmond to the post of 2nd Vice President. I have already posted my thoughts on Eric. You can read them in the previous posts. Here is what the Convention news has reported:

Redmond was elected with a vote of 1,765 (61.69 percent) to 1,077 (37.64 percent) over evangelist Bill Britt of Gallatin, Tenn.

"First of all, Eric Redmond is a family man," said Doyle Chauncey, executive director of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia state convention, in his nomination speech. "Eric Redmond is a pastor and a scholar. Eric Redmond is an evangelistic pastor, attempting to reach the 20,000 people who live within a mile of his church. Eric Redmond is a church planting pastor. In 2006 Eric Redmond led his church in planting a new church in College Park, Md., in cooperation with the SBCV and the North American Mission Board -- a church which continues to thrive."Redmond serves as a trustee for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an executive board member of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC. He is an adjunct professor of hermeneutics at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, Md. He is also a member of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Congratulations to our brother Eric for this assignment. And congratulations to the SBC for electing such a strategic, capable, qualified, and good man.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

An Interview with Potential VP Eric Redmond

I love Eric Redmond. He is a brother who has grown dear to me because I find in him a heart for the Kingdom of God and a mind for truth. I admire his vigor for the church and for the redemption of African-American thought and life. His labors encourage me that we really can make a difference now and for eternity. I am thankful that God has brought him into my circle of friends and comrades in arms. I would be even more thankful if God would see fit to place him in the leadership position for which he is currently being considered. As we noted in the previous post, Eric has been nominated for 2nd Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Recently, the candidates were interviewed and asked a series of questions concerning the current state of affairs in the SBC. One of the questions was:

Do you wish to comment on the influence of Calvinism or Reformed theology in light of the LifeWay survey that indicated 10 percent of Southern Baptist pastors are five-point Calvinists?

Eric responded:

The issue is not Calvinism, per se. Nor is settling the issue as simple as considering the history of English Baptists or seeing the embracing of Calvinism as a reaction to open theism. At issue is how we speak of God and man: Is God absolutely sovereign in all things, all glorious, and absolutely holy, such that “he does whatever he pleases” (Psalm 115:3)? Is man, though constituted in the image of God, naturally soulishly wretched, blind, poor, naked, deceived, suppressing the obvious truth of the existence of God, under the just judgment of God, and completely unable to save himself (Titus 3:3-7)? When we speak rightly of God and man, the gospel of his grace is magnified.

What we need to do is speak about an awesome, magnificent, all-merciful, holy God who, in the most incredible love, gave his only Son to save people unable to save themselves—people who are ignorant of their need for salvation, and self-deceptive about his existence. If we preach of God and man in this way—as revealed in Scripture—God will be magnified by the preaching of the gospel—and that needs to happen in every sermon from every pulpit on every Sunday. Personally, I think the gravitation toward Calvinism is a gracious work of God in the hearts of many who desire to center their ministries around the gospel, and in some cases, it grew out of a reaction to becoming weary of seeing the results of people fed the pablum of self-help, self-centered, gospel-devoid sermons Sunday after Sunday.

On a popular level, many visible, non-Baptist Calvinists have been most vocal about calling pulpits back to the center of the gospel, such that many have answered the call, even within the SBC. But there are many, less-visible Southern Baptists working hard to center their pulpits and ministries on the message of the gospel. I think our seminaries are working hard to prepare future leaders to do the same.
(read the rest of the interview here).

Man, I thank God for Eric. I hope the SBC will thank God too, and appoint him to VP.