Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tell the Truth!

I heard one of his best sermons I have heard all year long this past Sunday. Phil Placenti, one of the associate pastors of Mt. Sinai who leads our children’s department, preached his “annual” December sermon. I am usually on vacation the week after my pastoral anniversary. And in most recent years, Phil has ended up preaching for me on the third Sunday in December. So we just consider this Sunday his annual spot. Sunday, Phil preached a message on Matthew 5:33-37 entitled, “Tell the Truth.” It was a clear, challenging, and convicting message taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. And it was both well-prepared and well-presented. Most of all, it was God glorifying. Click here to get to the audio of the message on our church website.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Personal December Holidays

In the midst of all that has been going on these past weeks, I have failed to note several days in December that have a deep personal significance for me.

12/10 – Sunday, December 10, we celebrated my sixteenth anniversary as pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. My friend, Romell Williams, who pastors the Lilydale Baptist Church in Chicago, preached our two Sunday morning services. And my pastor, Dr. Melvin V. Wade Sr., who leads the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Los Angeles, preached the afternoon service. Likewise, some of the “Sons of Sinai,” my brothers, joined us for the celebration. It was a special day. I was refreshed, encouraged, and motivated by all of the events of the day. I thank the Lord for the wonderful privilege of shepherding the loving congregation of Mt. Sinai. And after all these years, through the good and the bad, our dreams are still greater than our memories.

12/12 – Tuesday, December 12, was the eighth anniversary of my marriage to the former Crystal Moreland. Because we were preoccupied with the upcoming trip to Midland, we didn’t plan any thing major. We simply had dinner together at one of our favorite restaurants, which we only get to go to about once a year. We had a long, quiet dinner. We talked a lot and made each other laugh out loud, exchanging stories. We both really needed that. Then we kind of goofed off for several hours. As we went, we thought of things to do. And we just hung out until we started getting sleepy. This was what it was like when we were dating. We never seemed to have big plans. We just kind of did nothing together. But we were really good at it. Thank God that after these years we are still pretty good at just doing nothing together.

12/18 – Yesterday, December 18, was Crystal’s thirty-second birthday. The kids and I took her out to dinner last night. It was also the birthday of a lady sitting near us at the restaurant. She tried to guess how old Crystal was. And, of course, she was nowhere near it. This is typical. Unfortunately, people I meet often think that I am older than I am. But it is just the opposite with Crystal. Many think she is just a teenager. They find it hard to believe that she is a married mother of two children. This is fine by me. Crystal is just as pretty today as she was when we met in high school years ago. And I can’t wait to see how much more beautiful she will be thirty years from now. Happy birthday, Sunshine!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Spiritual Comfort in Personal Grief

The past several weeks have been quite eventful for me and my family, to say the least. The day after Thanksgiving, my father-in-law became ill at our home. And our family went through an almost two-week vigil, praying for his recovery. The reports we received about his condition seemed to change from day to day – one day good, one day bad. Ultimately, the Lord had the last say. And the Lord chose to call dad home this past Friday. This has been a tragic loss for us. But we praise God for dad’s salvation, for which we had prayed for years. We thank God for dad’s faith and hope in Jesus Christ. And for the fact that he is perfectly healed in the glorious presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you for those who have covered our family with believing prayer during this period. And thank you for every act of kindness, love, and sympathy. Mt. Sinai, you have been an invaluable source of love and support over these past days. Crystal and I love you very much and are truly grateful to God for blessing us to serve such great people. And to all our loved-ones and well-wishers, thank you. God bless you.

We will be headed to Midland, Texas, this weekend for dad’s funeral service. Please keep me, Crystal, our children, and our entire family in your prayers.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV)