Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Gospel Shapes Ministry Methodology – Tim Keller Quote

The fact that we’re saved by grace should keep us from being too culturally narrow. Legalism and insecurity, thinking we have to earn our salvation, leads people to take hold of cultural forms and turn them into principles. We really want to be assured we’re right with God so we add rules that aren’t in the Bible so we can do something to assure ourselves that our salvation is secure. The gospel frees us from that. At the same time, just as we are saved by faith alone, we’re saved for holiness. There’s a new desire to please God. You don’t just live any way you want. That balance between legalism and antinomianism has implications for how we do ministry. It should lead us to be both flexible in the way in which ministry is shaped—not rigid, not too traditional—but at the same time still very afraid of offending God, of grieving and dishonoring the One who saved us. It leads us to be more careful, to honor the past. It prevents us from being either too institutional or anti-institutional. It keeps us from being too contextualized or under-contextualized. The gospel brings a wonderful balance.

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Sunday Reflections (Oct. 28, 2012): Unashamed Tour 2012, 2 Peter, etc.

Unashamed Tour 2012

On yesterday, Reach Records made their 17th stop on a 30-city Unashamed Tour: Come Alive in Dallas, TX. It was held at the College Park Center arena in Arlington, TX.

I arrived roughly around 5:45 p.m. and the line was already quite long. When you read the lineup (particularly for those who are familiar with the Christian Hip Hop world), you will understand why so many people turned out to attend this Christian rap concert:

Propaganda
Andy Mineo
Thi’sl
Derek Minor (fka: Pro)
Tedashii
KB
Trip Lee
Lecrae

If you haven’t heard any of these guys rap, you are missing out. So let me help you. Simply go to YouTube and enter their names in the search bar. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. These guys are some of the MANY solid Christian rap artists in our day.

After the pre-show with Propaganda, the concert was in full swing and it was high energy and worshipful throughout the evening.

One of the things that is so encouraging to see at Christian Rap concerts like this one is the diverse crowds. People of all different races, ages, backgrounds, and Christian Denominations were in the building to worship our God and Savior Jesus: Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians, Baptists, Methodists, Teenagers rocking their heads back and forth alongside of Middle-Aged Adults…you name it! It was a wonderful sight to behold.

The goal of the Unashamed Tour 2012: Come Alive is two-faceted: 1. To implore non-Christians to turn from sin and to trust in Jesus and His redemptive work for salvation and 2. to encourage Christians to live out their new status of being spiritually alive in Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and according to the Scriptures.

If you are not doing so already, I would highly encourage you to financially support our dear brothers and sisters in The Lord Jesus who are grinding out quality, biblically-sound, Christ/Gospel-centered rap music for the salvation of non-Christians, the building up of the Church, and the glory of God through Jesus by buying their music and investing in their ministries.

I need not tell you how desperately those in and influenced by Hip Hop culture need to hear the Gospel and a Biblical worldview through beats and bars.

2 Peter

Today I continued my teaching series on 2 Peter. We looked at chapter 1 verses 16 through 21. I entitled the lesson, “Jesus’ Witnesses.” Simply put, Peter says that there are two witnesses, if you will, that give testimony to the future reality of Jesus’ 2nd Coming: 1. The Apostolic Witness (vs. 16-18), and 2. The Prophetic Word – as recorded in Scripture (vs. 19-21).

And once again, I didn’t finish the lesson. Yeah, I know. It’s becoming a pattern. Just pray for me, okay? 🙂

Miscellaneous

I heard Tyler Perry did a good job in the movie Alex Cross. We will have to check it out.

Denzel Washington’s new movie, Flight, comes out this Friday, November 2nd. The reviews are already looking good for this one. No surprise here.

The Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets. I can’t wait until the 2012-2013 NBA season kicks off this week! It’s basketball time, people! Are you excited yet?

Please keep me in prayer regarding my next book project. It’s slow going, but with God’s help my goal is to have it done by the 1st quarter of 2013.

Enjoy the rest of your day and make it a great week!

Sunday Reflections (Oct. 21, 2012): A Busy Weekend!

I know the title of this blog post is not all that creative, but it’s true. I had a super busy but productive and fruitful weekend!

Man, where do I begin?

High School Seniors Breakfast

On Saturday morning, I had the privilege of addressing a room full of students (and their parents) regarding their last year in High School, their upcoming journey into College, and their life in general.

I’ve learned a few foundational pointers about speaking to High School students and keeping them engaged: 1. Have something to say that is relevant or applicable to where they are in this stage of their lives, 2. Use humor appropriately, and 3. Keep it simple, focused, and brief.

Men’s Conference

After speaking for about 20 minutes, I immediately left to hit the highway to head to my next speaking engagement at Greater New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. I was the closing session keynote speaker.

The theme of the Men’s Conference or Day was “Living a Life Without Limits.” I preached from 1 Kings 17:8-16 and entitled my message, “Giving In Spite Of Limitations.” I endeavored to show from this passage, which features a non-believing widow’s interaction with the prophet Elijah, truths about God and giving, and how they apply to us even today.

Sunday Bible Class

I continued my teaching series on 2 Peter today. We wrapped up part one of “Living a Quality Christian Life,” chapter 1 verses 1 through 9, and began part two of the same lesson, studying verses 10 through 15. We only had time to get through two verses because I had a preaching engagement at 10 a.m. and needed to leave early.

The Omni Church

After teaching class, we drove to the Omni Church (www.omnichurch.org) where Pastor Myron Hardy is the Lead Pastor. He planted this church a few years back. It was great to see and be a part of this growing local community of believers. I preached from Psalm 62 and entitled the message, “Trust God.” The highlight of the day was seeing two teenagers come forward to repent of their sin and place their trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord!

Being in a rented facility presents some unique challenges that those who have their own buildings don’t have to contend with. For one, the guy who was responsible for opening up the building didn’t show up at 9:15 a.m. as scheduled, which allows ample time for the volunteers of the Omni Church to set up for worship service. He arrived at 9:40 a.m. The service was slated to begin at 10:00 a.m. Secondly, the sound system went completely out, and all that was available was a portable one-speaker system, just enough amplification for the soloist to sing a cappella and for me to preach.

In spite of all that, Jesus was worshipped, the Gospel/Word was preached, believers were encouraged and edified, and two young men (and possibly a third) were saved.

Please remember Pastor Hardy and the Omni Church in your prayers. Please pray that God’s work will continue to be done in, among, and through them, for their continued focus and commitment to The Lord Jesus, and for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as they seek His wisdom (according to the Scriptures) in the weeks and months ahead as to the direction the church needs to take.

Miscellaneous

We lost a prominent figure here in Dallas, TX over the weekend. Big Tex (the Dallas State Fair Cowboy Statue) “died.” Actually, there was an electrical fire and he burned up. He was the centerpiece attraction of the State Fair. Can you believe that there were some people who were actually grieving and crying over the “demise” of Big Tex?! Yeah, I know, it sounds crazy, unbelievable, and a little ridiculous. A little? Okay, a lot. Don’t worry, Dallasites. I’m sure he will be back…bigger than ever.

On a more important note, the Cowboys won today! YES! Maybe this will be the start of a winning streak. I know, it’s the Cowboys, so I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up too high. But, hey, you never know.

Mark Tuesday, October 30th on your calendars folks. That is the Opening Night for the 2012-2013 NBA Season. I am looking forward to watching the Mavs vs. the Lakers on TNT.

That’s it for me. Time to sign off. I pray you have a great and productive week!

Lecrae – Tell The World feat. Mali Music (Music Video)

Hopefully this will set your weekend off to a great start.

Death At A Funeral

I’ve been to quite a few funerals in my lifetime, as I am sure many of you have as well. Some of them were tragic and heart-wrenching, while others were mostly celebratory.

Often times the feel or tone of a funeral service is determined or at least significantly influenced by the deceased (i.e., what type of life he or she lived) or situations surrounding the deceased (i.e., family feuds, etc.). But then there are other times when it is impacted by those who are participating in the service, or, as some would say, those who are on program.

How we carry out our part in the service can either help console the family or make it feel like death at a funeral to them. So what follows is just a few concise pointers to help us all do better at fulfilling the roles that we may be assigned to at a funeral service, so that the family (and those in attendance) will experience comfort from our participation.

*Note: Funeral services can differ depending on a person’s culture, city, church denomination, etc. I am primarily writing from my perspective and experience as an African-American who lives in the South, namely Texas, and who has attended and is familiar with funerals of the traditional Black Baptist persuasion.*

Scripture Reading

Pastors/Preachers: Pick a text that is appropriate for the occasion. I know that sounds elementary, but you’d be surprised (maybe not) to know that some of us actually fail to do this. If you don’t know what to read, then ask a seasoned pastor/preacher, or go and purchase a copy of a Minister’s Manuals for Funerals, Weddings, etc. And when you stand to read the Scripture, read the Scripture! And then sit down! Too many times we take liberties to expound on the Scripture text when we have only been asked to read it. This is not the time for us to elaborate, cross reference, parse or define Greek or Hebrew words, “tune-up,” or whatever. Just read and then take your seat.

Prayer

Oh boy, where to begin? 🙂

  • It is always safe to pray to God on behalf of the family and friends in their time of loss. If you are not soundly familiar with the deceased, it is best not to pray about his or her life. Why? Because you might say something that is inaccurate. And, trust me, the family is listening.
  • Keep your prayer focused on Jesus and not the Devil.
  • Don’t “preach-pray.” If at any point you and I start talking to the people sitting in the seats/pews in our prayers, we have just ceased to pray.
  • Don’t pray to the deceased. “Bro. So-and-So, we know you can hear us. We just want to say thank you for sharing your life with us.” “Sis. Such-and-Such, tell Momma hello for us.” Prayer is always to be directed to God.
  • Use “we” more than “I” in your prayers. You’ve asked people to pray with you, so be sure to include them in it. “Father, we thank you for the life of ______________.” “We pray for this family today, that You would comfort them in this time of bereavement.”
  • Please try not to make the prayer about you and the time when you lost your loved one. “Father, I just come to pray for this family. Lord, I remember when I lost my dad and how You were there for me; those times when I cried myself to sleep; when I didn’t know how I was going to make it through. Father, You know I loved my dad. He was a good man. And, although it has been a few years since his passing, I still miss him today.” I am not trying to be hard-nosed here, but the truth is the family is there to remember, celebrate, and lay to rest their loved one, not yours or mine.

Song or Selection

To the Singers: As my brother in Christ, H.B. Charles, Jr., said in this blog post, “Please, Just Sing!”

  • No grandstanding.
  • No playing into the “hype.”
  • No advertisement of your new project.
  • No walking into the crowd, hugging the family while singing, leaning on the casket, or singing to the deceased body (some of this might sound fictitious or facetious, but it’s not).
  • If you have been asked to sing one, specific selection, stick to that. And don’t pull the “God placed this in my spirit” card and sing a different OR another song.
  • No extended exhortations before, during, or after the song.
  • Pray, grab the mic, worship God and comfort the family through song, and then, as I said in the segment on Scripture Reading, take your seat.

Remarks or Expressions

If the family has afforded the opportunity to have remarks or expressions, please don’t abuse or misuse it by:

 

  • Going over the allotted time (usually 2 minutes).
  • Airing fairly private struggles of the deceased or dysfunction in the family.
  • Mislabeling your relationship to the deceased as greater than it was.
  • Confronting someone in attendance.
  • Speaking negatively about the deceased or someone related or connected to him or her. The old adage applies here: If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all…especially at a funeral.
  • Chiding the family for grieving or crying.

Also, if the officiating minister happens to cut off the remarks before your turn, please be respectful and go back to your seat. There will be plenty of time and opportunity afterwards to share your expressions with others. Remember, it’s not about you.

Eulogy, Message/Sermon

I am aware that with some funerals the eulogy is separate from the message or sermon. However, in my context, the eulogy and message/sermon is usually combined.

  • Preach the Word! Whether you are preaching on a text or taking a more topical approach, make sure you expound on the Scriptures. God comforts, confronts, convicts, changes, and converts us through the Holy Spirit-inspired Word and Gospel.
  • Recognize that you may have persons who are non-Christians in the audience, so explain theological terms, if you use any of them, and try not to speak “churchanese.”
  • Take a moment or moments throughout your message to address the family directly. Yes there are others in attendance, but the family can really benefit from hearing you speak the Word or speak words of comfort to them specifically.
  • Keep it brief. A good benchmark would be anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. This of course may vary depending on the context. I remember attending one funeral where the preacher sang for 5 minutes, preached for about 40 minutes, and then sang for another 5 to 7 minutes at the end. One of the family members jumped up and screamed, “Let her go!” (speaking of his deceased loved one and his desire for the preacher to stop preaching and singing so that she can be laid to rest and they could move forward with the grieving process). Now I don’t agree with his response, but I understood the point he was trying to make: keep it brief, preacher.

In conclusion, remember, we have been appointed or afforded opportunities by the family to participate in the funeral service of their loved one, so let’s make every effort to do all we can to serve and be a source of comfort to them and not one of grief.

They are already dealing with one death. Let’s not take them through another “death” at a funeral by being insensitive, selfish, or careless.

Have You Prayed For Your Pastor(s) Lately?

I remember my parents taking me to church every Sunday when I was a child. Back then, we would attend Baptist Training Union and Sunday School from roughly 8:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., and then turn around and get ready for worship service, which started at 11 a.m. and ended around 1:00 p.m. But that’s not all! We would often times come back or go to another church for a 3:00 afternoon service. We were in church services practically all day. Now this is not a call for us to go back to the “good ‘ole days.” I am just reminiscing over what church life was like for me growing up.

Why am I mentioning all of this? Well, because out of all the things that I remember doing (and being a part of), I rarely remember praying for my pastor, who was at the helm of all that was going on at our church. At the time, I truly didn’t understand why I needed to or what I should actually pray for. It was only after having grown some in my relationship with Jesus and in the knowledge of the Scriptures, and having witnessed my home church go through a split and tension-filled pastoral searches did I realize the importance of praying for him and other pastors. I saw not only the joys that my pastor experienced, but the sorrows, heartaches, harsh criticism, false accusations, wrong assumptions, and disappointments as well. To be honest, I still didn’t pray for him as much as I probably should have. Why? Because I didn’t understand or feel the weight of responsibility associated with pastoral leadership.

But now that I am a pastor, I get it. I really do. And, yes, I know that being an Associate Pastor is not at the level of responsibility as a Lead or Senior Pastor. Although it is not to the same degree, I still feel the weight and see and sense the spiritual warfare.

So, with this month being Pastor Appreciation Month, would you honor and care for your pastor (or pastors/elders, if you are at a church with multiple ones) by praying for him (or them)?

We need it so desperately.

And if you would like to know how to pray for us, here are some good suggestions from an article written by Pastor John Piper to the members of the church where he serves as an Elder and the Pastor for Preaching and Vision: Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Thanks.

Sunday Reflections (Oct., 14, 2012): Pink Sunday, 2 Peter, Speaking Engagements

Pink Sunday

Every year in October, churches around the country wear pink to remember those who have died from Breast Cancer and to support those who suffer from it or have survived it. Today, we observed Pink Sunday and encouraged our members to join the Antioch Team in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Dallas event coming up this weekend.

This Sunday was my day to preside over our worship services. I saw this as providential because on yesterday I, along with my family, mourned the loss and celebrated the life of my brother’s wife who died from breast cancer. As I stood behind the pulpit today to call our church to worship, I couldn’t help but to refer to my sister-in-law and her time suffering from cancer. Jesus was gracious towards Johnnie Mae. I know it can be difficult to acknowledge this in times of grief, but He was. He was gracious to save her from her sin. He was gracious to shape her in his image during her time in this life. He was gracious to sustain her during her sickness (to the point to where she had joy and peace through it all, and to where she never fell away from Him in terms of her faith and devotion). And lastly, He was gracious in being present with her as she switched from our presence to His.

We will miss her. Though we grieve, we – those of us in the family who have trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord – do not grieve without hope. As I said in my prayer at the funeral, we don’t say goodbye, we say see you soon because of the living hope that we have through our resurrected Savior, Jesus.

2 Peter

I began my teaching series on 2 Peter today. I’ve entitled it, “2 Peter: Living With The End In Mind.” We were scheduled to study verses one to nine for the first lesson, called, “Living A Quality Christian Life.” How about we only made it through verses one to three! Yes, I am shaking my head, laughing. I’ve got to do better at content and class management. Nevertheless, it was a great time in the Word.

Speaking Engagements

I’m asking for your prayers this week as I prepare for a few speaking engagements coming up this weekend.

Saturday Morning – Cedar Hill High School’s Seniors Breakfast

Saturday Mid-day – Keynote Speaker at Greater New Bethel’s Men’s Conference (Pastor Nyal Bell)

Sunday Morning – Preaching at The Omni Church (Pastor Myron Hardy – http://www.omnichurch.org)

Have a great week!

P.S. – Yep, the Cowboys lost again today. That’s all I’m going to say about that. When does the NBA season start again? 🙂 I’m not hating on the ‘Boys. I’m just more of a basketball fan than football. Let’s go, Mavs (I truly hope they do well this season because I have some Lakers fan-friends who will not let me hear the end of it if they don’t.)!

The Booth (Round 2) from Flavor Fest 2012 in Tampa, FL

The Booth is a musical spotlight on select Christian Rappers, those known and unknown. In this round we have Ruslan, The Ambassador, and a few more rappers. There is even a little Latino flavor mixed into this one! You gotta love the diversity!

It was a concept that was explored over this past weekend during Flavor Fest. Flavor Fest is basically a convergence of pastors, church leaders, and just Christians in general for a time of worship and biblical-theological training and missions development for those who serve in urban contexts. Go to www.flavorfest.org for more information.

Round 2. Let’s Go!!!!!!

The Booth (Round 1) from Flavor Fest 2012 in Tampa, FL

The Booth is a musical spotlight on select Christian Rappers, those known and unknown.

It was a concept that was explored over this past weekend during Flavor Fest. Flavor Fest is basically a convergence of pastors, church leaders, and just Christians in general for a time of worship and biblical-theological training and missions development for those who serve in urban contexts. Go to www.flavorfest.org for more information.

Just a little something for us urbanites! Enjoy theology, gospel, and Bible put to a beat! Have a great day!

Sunday Reflections (Oct. 7th, 2012): Men’s Discipleship Groups, Assoc. Ministers Training, Worship Service

Men’s Discipleship Groups

Yesterday, we began our first session of discipleship groups for our men’s ministry (Brother2Brother). I began our time vision casting about small groups, which is a part of Antioch’s Philosophy of Ministry and our discipleship strategy.

Our discipleship strategy is what we commit to do as a church, especially through the Christian Education Department, to assist members in their spiritual growth. I’ve labeled it our TLC strategy:

Teach people God’s Word (through classes, conferences, seminars, biblical resources)

Love people into God’s Way (through groups – B2B, Sisters, etc.)

Connect people to God’s Work (through missions and ministries)

As you can see, Saturday’s men’s gathering was an expression of the “L”. For the next eight months, we are focusing our attention on the book of Nehemiah. We are using Dr. Gene Getz’s Men of Purpose study series entitled “Hope Under Construction: Nehemiah.” We had a great time of study and fellowship as we went through the first lesson on prayer in our huddle groups (small groups).

As I tweeted on Saturday, I believe we are missing out on a key component of spiritual growth when we don’t commit to some form of discipleship in community.

Associate Ministers Training

I remember when I was a freshman a college and joined Antioch at that time. One of the things that I came to appreciate about Pastor Wesley was his desire train the ministers who were a part of the Antioch Church. I began preaching at the age of 17 and had been under a couple of pastors. The training that I received under them was helpful, but it was nothing formalized. However all that changed when I came under Pastor Wesley’s tutelage. He came up with a training program that he called, “Project A.D.M.I.T. (Antioch’s Devoted Ministers In Training).” The curriculum covered topics ranging from the prayer life of a preacher to pulpit ethics to sermon preparation and delivery. I was even privileged to lead a couple of the classes.

Well, long story short, he rolled out the project again today to the roughly twenty ministers in attendance. This training has proved to be invaluable to my life and ministry, not only back then in college as an Associate Minister, but even now as a Pastor.

Worship Service

The Men’s Praise Team and Male Chorus led us in worship this morning. Pastor Wesley preached a sermon entitled, “Focusing on the Father’s Favor” from Numbers 13:27-33. We had a few people to respond during the Invitation. We observed the Lord’s Supper today, which we do every 1st Sunday of the month. Overall, it was a good day!

___________________________________________________________

My wife turned another year old on Tuesday. Praise God.

We saw Taken 2 yesterday. It was okay. It pretty much had the same formula as the first one. We are looking forward to seeing Denzel Washington’s new movie, “Flight.” Anything with Denzel in it is bound to be good! And Don Cheadle graces the screen with him as well. Should be a great one.

The State Fair started this past weekend here in Dallas. It’s huge ordeal here in the metroplex. If you want to take a culinary journey, the State Fair is what you need in your life: fried oreos, fried candy-coated bacon, fried twinkies, fried peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, fried cotton candy, just to name a few. I know, crazy, right?! It is a highlight of the year for many of us Dallasites, and motivation to get back in the gym to work off all those calories.

My next book is coming along…slowly. Please keep me and this project in your prayers when you think about it. Thanks.

I have a few speaking engagements coming up this month that I’ll share with you next weekend. I am truly grateful for these opportunities to speak and to preach-teach God’s Word.

Have a great week!

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