Thursday, June 28, 2007

Putting the Breaks on my Motor City Trip

Well, I am still in Los Angeles. This morning, I tried again to get to Detroit. And, again, the flights were delayed out of LAX. I was able to get a flight to Chicago. But they would not book me on any flight from Chicago to Detroit. Things were backed up at O'Hare too, so I would have had to get to Chicago and then see what happened from there. It would have been a big gamble for me to try to get to Chicago and then try to get a flight into Detroit in time enough to preach. Most likely, I would have been stuck in O'Hare, trying to get to Detroit. I just couldn't do it. And I felt that I shouldn't do it. So I called Pastor Caldwell and told him that I was not going to make this meeting. Of course, he was disappointed. But he was also gracious and understanding. I deeply appreciate that.

I have preached for the Burnette Baptist Church since 1990 – when I was just 17-years-old. Every year (except just one, I think), Dr. J. Allen Caldwell invited me to preach Burnette's Holy Week Revival. And that congregation is like family to me. I have a "adopted mother" in Burnette. And have developed many friends from my fellowship with this great congregation. And it was very gracious of Pastor Nathaniel Caldwell to invite me to come again. I was his father's evangelist. And when Pastor Nathaniel took the reigns, he was under absolutely no obligation to invite me to come again. He had the right to invite any one he chose. So I was grateful for the invitation. And, to a great degree, still feel a strong sense of obligation to go whenever they ask me to come – because of the great kindness Dr. J. Allen Caldwell consistently showed me down through the years.

I regret that I was not able to make it. And I pray that the Lord's blessings would continue to be with Pastor Caldwell and the Burnette Church family. And I trust that the Lord will bless us to worship and fellowship together again some time down the road.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Happily Grounded in Los Angeles

This morning I went to the catch my flight and found the airlines terminal in chaos. Many flights had been cancelled today because of weather - mine included. So I will miss the first night of the meeting I was to begin in Detroit for Pastor Nathaniel Caldwell and the Burnette Baptist Church. I regret that I will not be able to begin my meeting as scheduled and preach the word of God tonight. But I am not too mad. There's no place like home!

Finishing "Saved for Sure" with LOVE

Last night, I completed a series I had been doing on Tuesday nights from 2 Peter 1:5-7, called "Saved for Sure." In this passage, Peter exhorts believers to supplement their faith with seven qualities that will bring the believer to a place of assurance, growth, stability, and fruitfulness in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Last night, we finished the series by studying what it means to add to love to your faith-development process. This has been an enriching study for me. And it has been a joy to teach what I am learning to the church. May the Lord give the increase.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Congratulations Pastor Wade!!!

Yesterday, Crystal and I took a detour on our way home from Dallas. We went to Tacoma to surprise our pastor, Dr. Melvin V. Wade Sr. (Senior Pastor of Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles and former President of the National Missionary Baptist Convention) who graduated last night from the Faith Evangelical Seminary in Tacoma with his Masters of Arts Degree. While leading Mt. Moriah, presiding over a national denomination, and preaching all over the country – along with all of his other personal and pastoral responsibilities – pastor has been diligently studying and continuing his formal education. This says something about pastor’s character and commitment that he would resume his studies, after reaching such a settled and established place in his ministry. His desire to continuing learning and growing and striving to be a better pastor and preacher is remarkable. Not only did pastor receive his degree last night; he did so with special recognition for his academic achievement (having a grade point average that was above 3.8)!

I believe it was Mark Twain who said that there are very few things more irritating than the nuisance of a good example. Pastor Wade is, indeed, a great example of the important of giving the Lord both your head and your heart in the service of the gospel. Or, as the old preacher would say it, “He’s got the learning and the burning!” I praise God for my pastor. And I pray that the Lord would continue to use him at Mt. Moriah and beyond to spread the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A good day at Concord

Crystal and I had a wonderful day in worship and fellowship with the Concord Church yesterday. Actually, we have a good weekend here – greatly enjoying the time we were able to spend with Pastor Bryan and Stephanie Carter. We really appreciate and were encouraged by their warmth, kindness, and hospitality.

Even though I have been deeply influenced by the preaching and ministry of the late Dr. E.K. Bailey, this was my first time ever worshiping at Concord. And it was a great experience. Pastor’s Carter loving and focused leadership is evident in so many ways. And I learned a lot by just watching how things operate at Concord on Sunday morning.

I believe my message was well received by the congregation. And, of course, Dr. Rudolph McKissick Jr. absolutely preached the house down in the second service.

Continue to remember the family and ministry of Pastor Bryan Carter in your prayers. This is truly one of the “good guys” (And God knows we need more of these in the ministry!!!) and one of the truly great churches of our day. May their dreams be even greater than their memories!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Speaking @ Concord Dallas

Crystal and I are in Dallas. And it’s already a great trip, because Crystal is here with me. She does not (want to and/or get to) travel with me often. So it's really cool to be "on the road" with my wife.

We are here to join in the celebration of the 32nd anniversary celebration for Pastor Bryan Carter and the Concord Baptist Church. Concord Church was organized by the late Dr. E.K. Bailey - one of my "homiletical heroes." Pastor Carter has served as senior-pastor of Concord since Dr. Bailey’s death in. And the Lord is continuing to bless this great church through Pastor Carter’s ministry. I am honored to have been invited by Pastor Carter to share in this celebration.

I am scheduled to preach the 8 AM service; Pastor Rudolph McKissick Jr., of the Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, is scheduled to preach the 11 AM service. Please pray God’s blessings for these meetings here. And please cover the meetings at MSMBC in your prayers as well, as my associates John Scroggins and Charles Charthern preach the word in my absence.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Expository Genius of John Calvin

I am a big fan of the writing and preaching of Dr. Steven J. Lawson – the senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama. I was introduced to Lawson’s work more than ten years ago, when I read a book of expositions he published on the book of Job. Since then, I have followed his writing ministry closely, purchasing and reading nearly every work he has produced. And I have always been challenged and edified by Lawson’s writings – both in my personal walk with Christ and my public ministry for Christ. I have equally benefited from his preaching. Lawson regularly places full audio recordings of his messages on his website for free. And whatever I am studying, I check to see if he has posted a message on that text. And, yes, his example is one of the motivating factors behind our uploading my weekly messages for free on our church’s website.

When I recently discovered that Lawson had published a new book on preaching, I was excited and eager to pick it up. And I was all the more intrigued when I learned the subject matter of the book, “The Expository Genius of John Calvin.” John Calvin is most noted for his role in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, his magnum opus, The Institutes of Christian Religions, and the doctrines of grace that are named after him. But what many do not know is that, most fundamentally and essentially, Calvin was a preacher and a pastor. Lawson’s Expository Genius introduces the reader to this important, but neglected, aspect of Calvin’s life and ministry in a clear and compelling way. From Calvin’s personal convictions about scripture, to his view of proper interpretation, to the nuts-and-bolts of his sermon delivery, Lawson indeed introduces us to the preaching genius of John Calvin.

The word “introduction” best describes this book. It is a short work, consisting of only 142 pages. And after a brief overview of Calvin’s life and ministry, the book consists of 32 “distinctives” of Calvin’s preaching. Though clearly explained and amply documented, these distinctives are not addressed in great detail. Lawson describes aspects of Calvin’s preaching that directly contradict his own. But Lawson doesn’t even pause to note the differences. This book is not meant for deep analysis. It is meant to point to Calvin as a faithful preacher and pastor, and to lift up the elements that made Calvin’s ministry so powerful – with the hopes that a new reformation will take place today as men give themselves to the pastoral task of expository preaching with greater zeal and diligence.

I do not have the words to encourage you to read this book as strongly as I desire. Any preacher – novice beginner or seasoned veteran – will be both encouraged and challenged in reading it. I would even commend it for those who are not preachers – as it will help you to better understand that prayer and the ministry of the word are your pastor’s greatest responsibilities. And it will lead to more pointed prayer on the behalf of our pastors. Enough with pastor-teachers who would rather be executives, entertainers, “life-coaches,” or whatever tasks and trends distract the man of God from the priority of biblical preaching. Our charge has not changed: Preach the word! (2 Timothy 4:2). Your calling requires it. God commands it. Our people need it. Preach the word!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

If it were not for the Lord...

I try to avoid calling any passage "familiar," calling them "famous" instead. I do this because I don't think we are ever really familiar with any passage. We know the words of certain passages, but the meaning of those passages continues to deepen the more we spend time with them. I was reminded of this last week as I studied Psalm 124. Many Christians know the words, "If it were not for the Lord who was on our side..." But this is a rich passage, filled with powerful images, that calls on us to acknowledge, worship, and trust God for his favor and faithfulness. This past Sunday, I preached a message from this great text to our congregation. Homiletically, it could have been a much better sermon. But once again, I spend so much time reading and studying and meditating on this passage that I waited too late to turn the corner from personal study to sermon preparation. So I ended up going to the pulpit with a message that I felt could have been organized much better. But, from a spiritual and pastoral standpoint, I felt like I was going to the pulpit with the word that God would have been to declare to his people. How soon we forget the unwavering goodness of God when we are going through difficult circumstances. And we need to remember that having God on our side makes all the difference in the world. Without God's help, we are doomed. But with God on our side, all is well - no matter what's going on in our lives.

Here is the sermon skeleton from Sunday's message:

Title: "Facing Life with a Divine Ally"

Text: Psalm 124

Theme: A song of redemption

Point: The most important issue in life is always whether or not the Lord is on your side.


I. Remember the difference the Lord makes in your life (124:1-5)
A. God alone deserves the credit for the good things that have happened in your life (vv. 1-2).
B. God alone deserves the credit for the bad things that have not happened in your life (vv. 3-5).
1. Without God, you would have been swallowed alive (v. 3).
2. Without God, you would have been swept away (vv. 4-5).
II. Rejoice in the difference the Lord makes in your life (124:6-7)
A. Praise God for the things that he has spared you from (v. 6b).
B. Praise God for the things that he has snatched you from (v. 7)
III. Rest in the difference the Lord makes in your life (124:8)
A. God is or exclusive source of help.
B. God is our sufficient source of help.
1. The name of God is infinitely good (v. 8a).
2. The power of God is infinitely great (v. 8b).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hanging from a Homiletical Rollercoaster

Last weekend, I read about a rollercoaster that was stuck on an upside-down turn, leaving its passengers stranded for some thirty minutes. I think I know how they feel. I am going through the same thing concerning my preaching. The struggle continues. Last week, I worked on a passage from Ephesians to preach. But I was not able to put my study into preachable form. So Saturday afternoon, I made some calls to have one of the guys preach in my place on Sunday morning. But when I woke up Sunday, a message from Hebrews took shape as I prepared for worship. And I said I would just take a shot at it in the 8 AM service. Then I took another shot at it in the second service. I will be glad when I get some point of stability in my sermon preparation. But until then, I praise God for holding me up as I continue to hang upside-down from this rollercoaster. Here is the sermon skeleton from Sunday's message:

Title: "Being Fit for the Finish Line"

Text: Hebrews 12:1-2

Theme: The perseverance of the saints

Point: Stay in the race.


  1. Run with assurance
  2. Run with discipline
    1. Lay aside the sins that hinder your spiritual progress
    2. Lay aside the weights that hinder your spiritual progress
  3. Run with endurance
  4. Run with focus
    1. Focus on Jesus because of who he is
    2. Focus on Jesus because of what he has done
    3. Focus on Jesus because of where he resides

Friday, June 08, 2007

Seeing the sights in Washington D.C.

This afternoon, Pastor Burton and my friend Chad Foster gave me a tour of some of the historic sites around Washington D.C. I am a huge history buff. And I was so excited to be able to see some of our nation's important sites and monuments. I only wish I would have had more time to tour the area - and that Crystal, H.B., and Natalie were here. Here are some of the pictures I took.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

D.C. Comics

So I got to LAX Wednesday morning and begin to check-in. But the computer wouldn't recognize any of my information. That should have been a sign to me of how my day was going to go. I had missed my flight – by more than two hours. (For the record, this was absolutely not my fault – this time. But that's another story.) The standby flights they could put me on would not get me to Washington D.C. until 8:15. This, of course, would be too late for me to actually speak in the worship service I was headed to. So I sat in the airport, waiting to make contact with Pastor Burton, to find out if he still wanted me to come.

I have known Pastor Garfield Burton for some years now. We met when he was the assistant pastor at the Glendale Baptist Church (now known as "The Sanctuary) in Landover, under Pastor Anthony Maclin. Pastor Burton has led the Macedonia Church in D.C. for four years. This is my second time doing this meeting for him. Last year, I was scheduled to come. But my wife's father took ill in Texas. And the morning I was to leave and come here, I decided it would be best for me to send Crystal to check on her father, while I stayed at home with the kids. Pastor Burton – a true friend – was compassionate, encouraging, and prayerful. I will never forget it. So I was glad to be invited again. But I was disappointed that I had missed my flight. I really thought Burton would just tell me to stay home.

He didn't. So I caught standby flights to Washington D.C. With delays and weather all the other stuff that goes along with flying standby, I didn't arrive here until about a quarter to nine. Pastor instructed me to wait for my bag. This, and the lateness of the hour, confirmed for me that I would not be preaching. As we got in the car, I asked who preached the service. Pastor told me no one. He was waiting on me to get here. I think I heard that and didn't hear it. When the driver asked where he was to go, Pastor told him to go to the church. Again, I made nothing of this, thinking we were just going to pick up pastor's car. When we pulled up fifteen minutes later, several people were outside waiting on us. And the next thing I know, we are heading into the service – still in progress at 9:20! Pastor thanked the Lord for my safe arrival, and asked the choir to sing one more selection. Then he began to pour me a glass of water. I asked him what was going on. Did he really want me go for it and preach? Yep. He did. So I did. And at about ten minutes to ten, we were going back out the door, heading to check me into my hotel.

On the way from the airport, I texted Crystal and told her I had missed the service and that I would call her in a few minutes, when I got to the room. But about thirty minutes later, I texted her again and told her that I had just finished preaching. She was shocked, to say the least. So was I! This is my life. Make of it what you will. God be praised for his goodness, wisdom, and faithfulness to me in and through all of my mishaps.

So how was your day?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Thanks, MSMBC, for hanging out with me these past two Sundays

The past two Sunday afternoons, our congregation has participated in worship services at with other congregations. On May 27, we worshiped with the Paradise Baptist Church to celebrate the 22nd pastoral anniversary celebration for Pastor A.D. Iverson. Pastor Iverson has been a great source of kindness and encouragement to me over the years. And we seem to have a natural affinity toward one another – both being preacher's kids who pastor their father's church. So it was a joy to join in the celebration with other congregations of our city. I brought the message in that service. And even though I would have rather had been sitting and listening to someone else, God was faithful to give me strength for preaching.

This past Sunday (6/3), we worshiped with the First Antioch Baptist Church to celebrate the 10th pastoral anniversary services for Pastor Nathaniel Haley. Pastor Haley and I are, likewise, both preachers' kids. And even as his father and mine were good friends; Nate and I have become friends. I had the privilege of preaching Nate's installation service. And I have participated in his anniversary services each year, except one. In fact, we regularly go to First Antioch on the first Sunday in June. Now, it feels like I'm in church three months every Sunday. But on first Sundays, it's more like four or five months. And I would not go to another service and preach again for just anyone. But I love Nate. And I pray that our presence Sunday was an encouragement to him, his family, and the First Antioch membership.

Thanks, Mt. Sinai, for your presence and participation in these services. Our pastors, musicians, choir members, ushers, have helped lead in these services. And our congregation has been present in a great way. The Paradise service was on Memorial Day weekend. But the congregation still showed up, anyway. I am truly blessed to pastor such good people. Thank you, Mt. Sinai. I love you!

Remember What You Were

This past Sunday morning, I preached from Ephesians 2:11-13 – "Remember What You Were." For all the difficulties I have preparing last week (over the last weeks, for that matter), I was quite relaxed, focused, and eager about preaching Sunday morning. The passage is doctrinal in nature. But there is a practical concern that is addresses that I really felt it was important for MSMBC to hear – the danger to forget and the need to remember. Our spiritual passion is prone to grow cold when we forget how far we were from God without Christ and how God brought us near to him through Christ. Here is the skeleton from Sunday's message:

Title: "Remember What You Were"

Point: Ephesians 2:11-13

Theme: The need to remember

Point: Your relationships with God, other believers, and the lost people in your life will greatly benefit from you simply remember what you were before Christ saved you.

Probing Question: Have you forgotten what you were before Christ saved you?


  1. Remember how far away from God you were without Christ (2:11-12).


    1. You were naturally alienated from God (v. 11)


  • You behavior was against you (Eph. 2:1-3)
  • Your birth was against you (v. 11a)
  • Your background was against you (v. 11a)


  1. You were spiritually alienated from God (v. 12)


  • You were separated from Christ
  • You were alienated from the commonwealth of Israel
  • You were strangers to the covenants of promise
  • You were without hope
  • You were without God in the world


  1. Remember how God brought you near to himself through Christ (2:13).

Speaking @ the LACBC Men’s Retreat

This past weekend, I participated in the Los Angeles Community Bible Church's men's retreat, led by Pastor Bobby Scott. Pastor Anthony Kidd and the Westside Bible Church also partnered in this meeting. It was held at the Alpine Camp & Conference Center in Blue Jay (CA), near Big Bear/Lake Arrowhead. The theme of the retreat was, "The Making of a Godly Man." I spoke in three of the sessions – once Friday night and twice on Saturday morning. I was asked to talk about becoming a godly man, father, and husband. And I addressed these subjects from Ephesians 5 and 6, in which Paul explains and describes the Spirit-filled life. I talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit (5:18-21), why husbands need to be Spirit-filled (5:25-33), and why fathers need to be Spirit-filled (6:4). It was a good weekend. It was not a large gathering, but that just contributed to making it a special meeting. With the small group, we were able to be really informal and personal. And by the time of my last session, when we opened up for questions and answers, there seemed to be a real sense of openness and fellowship among the brothers, as we thought and talked together about the practical implications of the messages for our lives and families. This was only the second time I participated in a retreat like this. But both experiences have been enriching for me. I pray that the brothers who participated in this retreat will see much fruit from their labors towards godliness – to God be the glory!