Friday, March 30, 2007

Reformed Brothers on the Web

I thought it would be a great idea to remind some and inform others of those Reformed/Calvinistic African-American brothers whose sermons are available on the web. Take a listen to some of these when you get a chance:

Lance Lewis - Christian Liberation Fellowship, Philadelphia, PA
Michael Campbell - Redeemer Church, Jackson, MS
Reddit Andrews - Soaring Oaks Church, Elk Grove CA
Michael Higgins - Redemption Fellowship, Fayetteville, GA
Thabiti Anyabwile - First Baptist of Grand Cayman, Grand Cayman
John Coleman - Into The Word Ministries,
Roger Skepple - Berean Bible Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA
Jesse Gistand - Grace Bible Church, San Leandro, CA
Tony Arnold - Gaithersburg Community Church, Gaithersburg, MD
Eric Waldon - Mt. Hermon Baptist Church, Cleveland, OH
Grady Van Wright - Sovereign Grace Church, Pearland, TX
Yuri Solomon - New Life Baptist Church, Houston, TX
Howard Brown - Christ Central Church, Charlotte, NC
Emory Brown - Refreshing Springs Church, Buffalo, NY
Heshimu Colar - The Gospel Church, San Jose, CA
Michael Leach - All Saints Redeemer Church, Stone Mountain, GA

Are you aware of any others? There are plenty more Reformed/Calvinistic brothers preaching a faithful gospel, but who are not putting their sermons on the web. If that is you, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Treasuring God at Cedine

I had the pleasure of spending this past weekend in the mountains of eastern Tennessee at Cedine Bible Camp in Spring City, TN. I was the main speaker for their Spring Men's Retreat. Cedine is a camp that was started in 1947 by a white man and his family for the purpose of bringing the gospel to African-Americans. Today the mission has not changed. Though they are tucked away in the eastern mountains of Tennessee, they maintain their goal of reaching African-Americans with the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can read their fascinating story here.
The theme for this year's Spring Men's Retreat was Treasuring God. Men came from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia to bathe in the beautiful climate of the Tennessee hills, to take in the glory of God's creation, and to most importantly be challenged by God's word. I for one can say I enjoyed all three aspects of my time there this weekend.

Most of the men came from traditional black baptist churches and had never considered some of the theological challenges I was setting before them. Nevertheless, they were very receptive and even encouraged to hear that God is an all-satisfying, eternally rewarded and rewarding God. I intentionally wanted to challenge their popular understanding of God, even as mine has been and continues to be challenged as I learn more Scripture (oh, I pray I would be more knowledgeable of the Bible).

Here is my opening salvo. I wanted to set up the weekend by letting them know that the God of the Bible is far bigger and better than is usually heard:

Fellas, I am here this weekend to challenge you to get a bigger, better, more biblical picture of God. One of the great handicaps of Christianity today is that in most of our hearts and minds God is too small. In far too many pulpits today God is nothing more than a deified Santa Claus. He is a celestial genie who if you say the right words or somehow rub your Bible the right way God will grant you anything you want.

And while far too many preachers teach this pseudo-Santa Claus understanding of God, and far too many of us have bought into it, the clear biblical picture of God is far greater, far more glorious and far more awe-inspiring that that.

Think about it. What’s the big deal about a God who wants to give you more money? What’s so great about a God who wants to give you a bigger house? Who wants to give you a fancier car? If that is the God you understand, if that is the God you preach, if that is the God you hear preached, then I suggest to you that you’d be better off with a genie in a bottle than a God in heaven.

And yet, this is the God that most of us hear and see preached on television and from most of the more popular pulpits today. This is the God that is sold in most of the bookstores. This is the God most popularly taught. This is the God that people spend millions of dollars each year to know. And in light of this overwhelming popularity of this God, I have a few days this weekend to convince you not to buy that teaching, not to purchase that God, not to spend money on that which does not satisfy.

I have but a couple of days to convince you that the biblical God is much greater, much more glorious, than some heavenly sugar daddy. Brothers, I am here this weekend to tell you and remind you that the God of the Bible is to be treasured, not because He gives us money, but because He gives us meaning.

Meaning, significance, and worth are not measured in your health or wealth. This is a lie that has been pawned off on our churches. This is a lie that has duped and deceived the church for too long, my brothers. Meaning is about treasure. But it is not treasuring treasure, it is about treasuring God.

Treasuring God is seeing God as the most desirable, delightful, all-satisfying pursuit in the universe. And then, selling all that you have and all that you are to buy it.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

This is Good!

Yesterday, Tim Challies wrote that this was one of the best things he has ever read from John Piper. Well, like Challies, I have read some really good and impactful stuff from Piper, but I must agree, this may be the best short essay I have read from John: The Morning I Heard the Voice of God. This is Good!

Update: Here is a link to Piper reading the above article.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Question of True Humility

I have a question.

Recently in our Men's Ministry we read and discussed CJ Mahaney's book "True Humility." It is proving to be challenging eye-opener to areas of pride in my life, subtle areas that for the most part go unnoticed and unchallenged. Today, I read an article by the Christian rapper, Curtis "Voice" Allen entitled "An Emcee's Gentle World." In the article Allen tells how he came to perform at the worship service of Bethlehem Baptist Church last year. It proved to be a most encouraging time for him and his ministry. However, after the news of his performance at Bethlehem spread, so to did the criticism of him, Christian rap, and Bethlehem. Obviously, such criticism hurt Allen, as it would anyone. And yet, in responding to the criticism, Allen tells us that he took the high road and returned good for evil (supposed).

The article is well written. The point of the article is clear and well made. And having spoken with Allen on occasion, I know he has a heart for God and the ministry. So, my question is not a criticism of Allen, only a question of understanding for my own heart and mind. In the article Allen makes the point that he was humble and responded to the criticism with humility. My question is: "Can you say that you were humble and still be humble? Is humility something we see in others and pray that others see in us? Or can we point it out in our own actions for others to take note of? Can we commend our own humility or do we allow others to commend it for us?
I am sure, Allen seeks to be a humble brother. However, I did feel a bit awkward with his telling me how humble he was.

What do you think?

(HT: Challies)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Faithful Preacher

Today I received my copy of Thabiti's book "The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors." You may recall back in August I mentioned that I had the pleasure and privilege of reading this book in manuscript form and writing an endorsement for it (then again you probably don't remember that). Anyway, I received the book in the mail, and I must say how encouraged I am in going back over it. Thabiti has done us all a favor and has done so to God's glory. I thank my brother for this labor of love. And may God gladden the hearts of his people through this wonderful read.
If you have not already, please place an order for this book today. You'll be glad you did. On the back of the book you will read a small portion of my endorsement. Here it is in full:

From the first time I met Thabiti, I felt he was a brother of like-mind and passion. When I found out he had written on Lemuel Haynes, Daniel Payne, and Francis Grimke, my feelings were confirmed. In The Faithful Preacher, Thabiti has reminded us that God has, with diversity and glory, given to His church throughout history faithful under-shepherds to feed and guide His sheep. With biblical and historical insight, and intellectual and theological credibility, Thabiti would have us to know, admire, and thank God for the labors and lives of Haynes, Payne, and Grimke. And while some may refer to these men as lesser luminaries in comparison to their more noted white evangelical contemporaries, they are only lesser in the same sense that the minor prophets of the Bible are actually minor. In these three men we have clear demonstrations of what the pastoral ministry should be, regardless of race, color, or nationality. In reading The Faithful Preacher I was reminded of the saying, “It takes one to know one.” Thabiti knows these men to be faithful pastors because he strives to be one himself.”

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Do You Know This Guy?

Today I listened to an interview on xmradio where Bob Edwards interviewed renown astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Dr. Tyson is an intelligent man (to say the least), and yet one can only lament that such brilliance has not lead him to the intelligence of his hero, Isaac Newton and Newton's conviction of intelligent design. Tyson desires to popularize science, and yet not just science, but atheism as well. If you did not think that there is a intellectual elite designing to secularize society, here is the proof. If you are interested, watch this lecture by Tyson, and the panel discussion that follows. Click on session two with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. This is staggering, amazing, and enlightening. How would you answer them? Would you answer them at all?