Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I wanted to post a blog today--though I don't really have much to say. I will say that I am consumed these days with seeing God work in me both to will and to do according to His own pleasure (Philippians 2:12-14). It is now verified--I am believing God to do something that is virtually and literally IMPOSSIBLE! I have finally happened upon something (somewhere) that I don't think anybody will say I am sane if I pursue it. Wow--this leads me to wonder if I am the guy for the job? I think God is now moving me to a place where I, literally, have to practice what I have preached these past 14 years. I am still resolved to believe, '...with God...all things...are them that believe...'

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Solidifying my own preaching style

Someone reading this blog is already taken aback--i used the word 'style'. Someone would say, as I would-'It's not about style; it's about substance'. I totally agree. Please don't read too much into the title. I am using 'style' there for lack of a better word.

Now to the point I want to make: I have been preaching for almost 15 years. Through all of the messages, sermons, teaching, etc., one thing I have learned--and finally accepted: for the most part, I am not an alliterated preacher! This is something I've struggled with, off and on, for years. Alliteration (doing the 5 a's one week, the 4 r's the next week, etc.) is something I have always admired. The minds of some of these expositors just boggles me how they are able to flow with this great and unique gift-to put these words together--almost without ease. Usually, when I have done alliteration, it has been from some preaching book, outline material, etc. I've noticed that alliteration works very well for me in my sentences, in giving the background, and context, and even when giving word definitions. But when I have used the alliteration style/format in my messages--I've learned how to survive a message; but I KNEW, if no one else knew, that the alliteration just wasn't working for me. I do remember reading 7 or 8 years ago that Spurgeon wasn't big on alliteration--though he did use this style earlier in his ministry quite frequently. Even back then, this didn't steer me one way or the other--though I have ALWAYS admired the 'Golden-throated' preacher.

When I first began preaching, I immediately began implementing what worked for me. For instance, my first message. I shared from Philippians 2:12 -17. My points were 1. Walk cautiously and carefully 2. God works in, man works out 3. God's Word is to be obeyed and not discussed 4. God wants you to be blameless and harmless.

Over the years, I used this format quite often...then I would often get caught up in trying to do alliteration (with my points).

Several years ago, I was taking a preaching class with a professor Dr. Denny Autry. He could not attend one class session, and so he invited his friend and preaching colleague, Dr. John R. Bisagno. I was just amazed. John Bisagno? This guy is one of God's best preachers. He is the pastor emeritus of First Baptist Houston. He was along the line of W.A. Criswell--a little younger, but surely considered a sage of a preacher. He introduced us to something that really 'clicked' for me. He showed us what he has popularly termed as PRINCIPLE PREACHING. He explained this idea as creating and delivering sermons for life applications. To really assess and address what the text really says at its core. It has only been now that I fully realize and accept what God has used and shown to work of me (can't speak for anyone else)--and that is principle preaching!!! Just taking the scripture, looking at that scripture and expressing what the writer intended to say and how that truth is integrated (and should be implemented) into the life of the hearer.

I would recommend Bisagno's book, it has been a great help to me. It is 'Principle Preaching' by John R. Bisagno published by Broadman and Holman. I will have to get a copy for all of my preachers--it is a good book with quite a few examples of how it is done!

Digression - need to make a correction

I need to add something to my last blog. I said that no one at our church fellowship has made as many sacrifices as myself and our family. That is, I think, a loaded statement--that is more a matter of opinion. I really don't know the sacrifices of the people who attend our church. I DO NOT!!! I can only assume; but I don't know. I don't want to assume anything about other people just as I would hate for others to assume when it comes to me. I almost edited the last blog and simply made the correction. But I want someone to see here that we all make mistakes and say things that we really didn't give much thought. I've thought about it; and there are so many who make so many sacrifices. Who am I to suggest that I am "number 1" in the sacrifice department? I am not perfect; though I am striving to be like Jesus Christ. I have my own flaws, struggles, questions, etc. But I am faithful to doing this thing God's way. I really want to see His glory shine through me; and it is my sincere desire to see Him take pleasure in my willingness to live a life of transparency, integrity, purity, and love for the body of Christ. I hope that this makes sense.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Memo....

Another Monday has come and it is almost gone. Thankful for all that the Lord has allowed us to accomplish today. As always--I feel that I should have accomplished more, but it is what it is. Mondays, for me, are filled with a mixture of joy and sorrow. So many things I wish were said that I forgot to say and do on yesterday. Then there are the joys of seeing the growth in our fellowship. My greatest dissapointments usually revolve around other people. And I am learning to avoid, discard, and learn from my poor 'people choices' and God is teaching me how to learn from the experiences, pick up the pieces and eventually move on!!! I, like many pastors, often hope and wish that some within our fellowship would catch the vision, run with it, and own it for themselves. But some just don't--maybe this means they're in the wrong place--or maybe they are--but they have not overcome the 'casual Christian' syndrome. I am learning that focusing on people like this will often take my spiritual eye off of those individuals who are really growing, excited about what God is doing, and have the vision and are helped. With this being said--the notion that the enemy/Satan would assert that maybe I am the problem or the issue as it relates to our local fellowship--just doesn't fly any longer. This is not arrogance nor is it conceit--but no one has sacrificed (or tried to improve themselves) for our new ministry venture more than both I and my immediate family. I have had a few instances where the implication has been--maybe there is more I could do. This typically comes from persons who aren't doing anything - but doing what is only convenient for themselves, holding a title, never taking the initiative to serve, and then expect me to perform miracles with so little. That's Christ's job--not mine!!! All in all, God is adding to our church, gradually...those who are there TO SERVE...NOT TO BE SERVED!!! This is exactly what we NEED...

We've started a new Sunday school curriculum entitled 'When God Builds a Church', being led by Bob Russell's book by the same title. Yesterday, one of our new attendars, Earlonzo Hare (who has been such an encouragement to me personally and spiritually), taught the Sunday School lesson dealing with 'Truth'. His daughter, who also attends Cornerstone, tipped me off to he and his wife's teaching background. When I tell you that this man really did his homework and blessed our entire church--he did! So transparent; so timely; so....inspiring. It is the Lord's continual use of people like this--those persons who will make themselves available--that will have a rippling effect throughout our church. We will see more and more people like this frequenting our church!!! I'll document our progress along the way. I remain prayerful and faithful in this regard... God is up to something great!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Today was a good day! We're continuing to emphasize our Children & Youth on the last Sunday of each month. Our kids did a good job! My sincere motivation continues to be a practical integration of faith into the contemporary affaris of the human experience. I really want to see a maximization of our faith coming alive and become visible and viable--particularly during each and every worship opportunity. The Holy Spirit has clearly led me to identify some things that are affecting us: our location, our leadership, and our commitment to Christian education & youth ministry. I am seeing the Lord shine on our church in His own way and His time. Yesterday, the message shared came from Daniel 3:16 & 17 and its subject was 'The God that we serve is Able'. The underlying premise of the message is the same as that thesis of that text, that our faith in the ability of God and His providence would merge into human affairs and impossibilities. This involves a life that will not compromise in the face of intimidation or circumstance. I took time out of my preaching schedule to both encourage and challenge our congregation as a whole, as well as deal with a subject that could relate to our children and youth. The main points were
1. Remembering your history, heritage, and your hope - they are all connected.
2. Resisting the futility of worshipping and reverencing that which is carnal and corrupt.
3. Remembering the three c's:
Remember your connection '...the God WE serve...'
Remember Who's in control ' able...'
Remember your commitment (Daniel chapter 1)
4. Reward - You are an overcomer
- Overcome by the Presence of God vs. 24
- Overcome by the Preservation of God vs. 26
- Overcome by the Power of God vs. 27
- Overcome by the Program of God vs. 29
- Overcome by the Promotion of God vs. 30

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I need prayer for tomorrow's message

Well--tomorrow is almost here. It will not be long before I stand before our people and deliver a Word from the Lord. Tomorrow is our children and youth Sunday. It is off to a rocky start; but, more than anything else, I am committed to seeing it grow, thrive, and succeed. The Lord is teaching me the importance and significance of using what we have and what He has supplied. I think that when a people, corporately and collectively, unite and are stewards over what God has given them--He will reward them on the basis of their faithful, diligent stewardship. I have been led to share out of Daniel chapter 3--though I am nervous and apprehensive about the message. I know what the text says, etc. I think I am dealing with much of the context and not really getting the points together. I will look over it in just a moment and pray, meditate on the direction. This is actually my first time preaching out of the book of Daniel. For me, the prophetic books are hard for me to grasp. I need the Lord to work on me and the message; allow me to merge my thoughts into that of the text and the gravity of the message. My subject for Daniel 3 revolves around the ability of God. It hinges upon the words in Daniel 3:17, '...the God that we serve is able'. I know that the Lord will love me no less or any more based upon my presentation-I do pray, however, that He will breathe upon His message in a special way.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Spirit of David

I only have time for a quick note, I've just finished the yard, need to jump in the show and get ready for church--our praise dance ministry 'Spirit of David', will be dancing tonight at a nearby church. It will not be all of them--but two of our teens will be ministering in dance. I am excited!!! We don't have MANY youth during this 'season' of ministry. However, I want to be as much of an encouragement to our young people as humanly possible. The scripture teaches us that King David '...danced before the Lord with all his might'. I do not know much else about the program--I trust there won't be any foolishness. For this I am grateful!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Just a Thought....

I am praying for the victims in California whose lives have been affected by the recent wildires. It is said to be a little of 500,000 acres and many have evacuated. Mr. Bush has visited the area several times and taken a personal interest in the recent affairs. My original blog was intended to point out the obvious duplicity, parallel(s), hypcrosy of both the recent events in California and Katrina. (It even reflects in my title) But you know what? I've just taught a lesson on Bitterness and, for certain, we all make mistakes and should know that God is in control--even when it seems as if He is not, He IS! I don't know Bush's heart; and even it was impure then, or impure even now--He is my president, I pray for him, his family, and his relationship with the Lord.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Yesterday I had the opportunity to watch a segment of 60 Minutes I Tivo'd interviewing and taking an inside look at Joel Osteen's life. Osteen, of course, is the pastor of Lakewood Church here in Houston who, upon the passing of his father (Pastor John Osteen) in 1999, became the second pastor of what is now 'heralded' as the largest church in the United States of America. I will not use my blog to say where I am in relation to my personal opinion(s) of Osteen. I will say that as I saw the interview, I honestly believe (and this is only my view) that the young man is sincere. Interestingly, sincerity means nothing is you a sincerely wrong. Now I will get in trouble for my next statement but I will say it nonetheless--but I do admire Osteen to the same extent that I admire Dr. Phil. Both of them are likable, charismatic, intriguing, mysterious, motivational, helpful, and their books are have a Norman V. Peale/Robt. Schuller flare and appeal that is unparalleled. I would actually recommend their books for self help, insights, motivation, and even some biblical insights. They are BOTH Christian and men that I would probably invite to my house for dinner--though I'd much rather be invited to theirs. Incidentally, whether I'm impressed or not--being the kind of person I am--I would study and observe anyone who was touted as the pastor of the largest church in the U.S. I've studied Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, etc. But here is my problem--it isn't as much with Osteen as it is with the consumers who flock to Lakewood, treating the church is if it is a country club, recreation park, and a rock concert. I will not judge--because only GOD sees into the heart of every individual. But something in Osteen's interview caught my spiritual attention. He was asked if he was concerned about the criticism and other's accusations of his compromising the gospel, etc. He said, in a nutshell that he didn't want to beat people upside the head with where they were, etc. Then he said something that really dealt with me (I can actually quote him verbatim on this): There are some who explain the scriptures, expose them, and relate them--that's just not my gift.... Wow! That really dealt with me--isn't that what we as preachers and proclaimers of the Word of God have been called to do? To explain the scriptures? I won't get into whether or not it is a spiritual gift or not. But I do know that 2 Timothy 2:15 admonishes us to 'rightly divide the Word of truth'. I want to encourage everyone who visits this blogspot to 'try the Spirit by the Spirit'. I am committed to 'rightly dividing' the 'Word of Truth'. I pray that through explaining the Word, God will make His word relevant to the people. I believe He will do it. I don't know if this chides with the scripture or not--I didn't mean for this blog to be theological--but you know what my hope is? That God will raise up more and more congregations who will not compromise the exposition of scripture and the Word of God. No doubt, he is already doing this. We need more Christ-centered churches where the Word of God is the centerpiece to successful living, holiness, discipleship, and transformation. I am intent on seeing God do this in our fellowship....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reclaiming God's Original Intent

  • I came across a book in my library that I purchased several years ago. The title of the book, Reclaiming God's Original Intent for the Church, caught my attention. More than this, I was arrested and intrigued by the title(s) of each chapter. The chapter, in and of themselves, preach and proclaim some powerful truths and steadfast convictions. I have not finished this book-though I plan to teach or preach or a series on this at some point. I would like to share just a few of the titles of each chapter...

-It's about AUTHENTICITY...not SIZE
-It's about making DISCIPLES...not simply recruiting VOLUNTEERS
-It's about a CALLING...not a CAREER
-It's about COMMUNITY...not just MANAGEMENT
-It's about SERVANTHOOD...not POWER
-It's about FRUIT...not ACHIEVEMENT
-It's about LISTENING...not just PREACHING
-It's about LOVE...not BEING RIGHT
-It's about our TRIUNE GOD...NOT US

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Territory

At the beginning of 2007, we began the process of implementing a vision of outreach--that included a church daycare as well as a community center that would literally improve the quality of the surrounding community and allow us to go further and do more. We incorporated & amended and laid the groundwork for two of these ventures: Pebble Learning Center (Daycare) and The Dream Center (Community Outreach Center). The only thing we haven't had the finances to do is file for our 501c3, the very thing we need to have a tax-exempt status. To say the least, God opened up a door and I will be meeting with a member of President Bush's faith-based initiative board on tomorrow morning. I am nervous but also excited about the possibilities of finalizing the preliminary groundwork--that I have committed much of my time, prayers, and energy since December of '06. I do believe that this is an 'Open Door' for our church. Once we finalize and are granted our 501c3 status within the next month (I pray), then we are able to apply for grants--which he will be helping us with. By the way--he is also a pastor! Once I see how this works, I will pass the information along. As our congregation already knows, I am not very fond of Mr. Bush (though I do pray for him--he needs it!). But his faith-based initiative plan, believe it or not, is outstanding!!! If you've seen it, it is almost overwhelming to view all of the endless possibilities and the funds that are not only out there, but granted to churches and congregations who pursue it. This is not for every church; I wouldn't recommend it for every church. And we will always do only that which honors Christ and also serves in the best interest of our church and our people. One thing we need and I need throughout the remainder of the year--is prayer. I will explain in a future blog how the daycare, dream center, and ultimately Living Stone Community Development Corporation (Affordable housing project) ties into the entire Cornerstone vision.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Yesterday went well during worship. I actually continued our message taken out of Malachi 3, with somewhat of a different angle. IT was my intention to share 'Reverse the Curse, Pt 2'. However, the subject from Malachi 3 yesterday was entitled 'How God Hooks Us Up.' I felt more comfortable in my preaching on yesterday--because of time and last week was just such an intense week--both in my devotion as well as adversity. Imagine that! God blessed the message, allowed me an opportunity to share the urgency and responsibility of our congregation to get in on what God is up to; and really give our congregation a 'pep talk'. Our church goes through these phases where apathy becomes pervasive, attendance is down, and the spirit of our church is not as it should be. This can be discouraging to the 'faithful few'. All in all, the Spirit of God moved on yesterday, His Word clearly explained, and people demonstrated their commitment and re-dedication to the plan and vision God has for our local church. If you read my blog last week on 'revelation', let me just say that I don't know HOW God will do the things He will do--that's not really my problem. I'm trusting, willing, and obedient to His voice and instructions--from here on out I will leave the results up to Him.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Solving Problems

I came across a thought in a journal that I write to my sons: He who solves problems gets paid. This sounds very secular and un-spiritual--but in a real sense, it is very true. If you want to achieve and accomplish more in life--just look for problems, find a solution (only God can give you this)--and then sale your product. Solomon talks a lot about this--but I just wanted to interject a simply thought for today. I hope it makes some sense!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Intention

It was my original intent to blog every DAY! I have noticed that my main page says '14' posts for October and this is the 18th of October. Okay--maybe I am being unrealistic. I didn't think so-considering I am online atleast once or twice per day, and tied to the computer, etc. The tragedy is this: finding things that are of interest to me, and something I can look at and find inspiration at any point in my ministry pilgrimage. The entire point of this blog is to chronicle many of the thoughts that are in my head, form me into a better writer and communicator; communicate with those in ministry; provide an historical journal for my sons; an opportunity for our church to see what goes on in the mind of their pastor (I do not know if any of our members view my blog, haven't heard anything as of yet...if so, let me know!); allow me to chart my ministry thoughts, victories, struggles, etc. and prayerfully look back and thank God for the progressive steps and strides that were made, and so much more. I am committed to the blog! And once I am committed to something, I am almost impulsive about it begin being meaningful, significant, and the best at everything I am a part of. (Being the best preacher, husband, father, pastor, teacher, son, friend, blogger that I can be.)

I think that is my issue with pastoring. Pastoring is so different for me--because you have to rely upon more than just yourself. Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out for Pastoral Ministry. Then again-I KNOW that I am because I KNOW that God called me to do this. It can be a little overwhelming at times. I just don't understand what God is doing and why He allows so many difficulties, obstacles, dissapointments, and frustrations in my pastoral experience. My situation is so unique because I am the Founding Pastor of a fledgling church who has yet to gain her momentum, capture it's identity, and most do not see what I see. I was watching BET's EXALTED:Kenneth C. Ulmer. He said something that struck me: you are telling people about a vision that God has given you; but they haven't seen it yet. This becomes the great frustration. NOW-that being said-some do realistically understand the vision and it makes sense, they just don't want to do what needs to be done to accomplish the goal. I would hate to say where I wish I was--but I will just say that it is difficult pastoring in the Houston context. Everybody is just so busy, always running, the church really doesn't get much of their time. This is not the culture I grew up in--people didn't frequent the church or treat it in a cavalier manner; they were committed to the church. Don't get me wrong, large churches here (like other cities) thrive and do well here!!! From my observation, small church do not. There is work to be involved in small churches. EVERYBODY is needed! If someone isn't involved, the person involved begins to either feel guilty or pressured. The larger churches stay large or get larger while the smaller ones get smaller. The greatest thing that the small church can do, I believe, is continue to preach and teach the word, worship in spirit and in trust, be unapologetic about our commitment to COMMITMENT, and THEN...and this is what I think is the greatest challenge for us--GET NEW PEOPLE IN THE BUILDING, KEEP THEM THERE, GET TO JOIN, GET INVOLVED & REPRODUCING OTHER NEW PEOPLE. We'll get it together--it is GOING to work. It's just going to take a lot of prayer, patience, and people who are WILLING to hang in there, run with the vision, come to church, get involved, stop gossiping, SERVE, get others to get involved, bring their families--there is no telling what we could accomplish. I'm praying for more churches like this. I am dedicated to encouraging pastors everywhere who have this mysterious call in the pastorate that keeps telling them 'God wants more'. Let me say this--many pastors sense that God wants more--and think they need to find another church in order for God to do that. Sometimes that is so and may be necessary. I am afraid that, often, God desires to grow US, grow our churches in the place where He has planted us. We just haven't taken advantage of the dry seasons and learned from seedtime and the waiting period. I'm intent on learning. A lesson not learned is worth repeating. I don't want to prolong where the Lord is sending me because I keep ignoring what He is trying to teach me right now, in 2007, 29 years old. Let's learn it so we can pass the test and get to the weightier matters.


For the past month we have been in a teaching series on Why Churches Die: Diagnosing Lethal Poisons in the Body of Christ. I know that many can get deep when first examining this subject and suggest this is an oxymoronic statement-the true church can not die because Christ is the Head of the church and He will not let it die. In a real sense, this is true! I believe that that logic relates to the church universal. This book seeks to tackle sicknesses in the body of Christ from the vantage point of the membership. Brunson & Caner draw parallels between sicknesses of the human body and ailments among members of the body of Christ. It is what they have labeled and tagged as 'Spiritual Forensics'. I really wanted to begin Paul's epistle to the Romans, beginning with the first chapter and the first verse. Something (SomeOne) led to glance at the next lesson in the Why Church Die series. The topic is Glossolitis: Swollen Tongues of Fire. The discussion (teaching) centers on this premise: Murmuring Miriam and Sowing Seeds of Discord (Numbers 12:1-15). Of course, I must continue this teaching series, atleast for this week! The underlying theme is GOSSIP. We have a problem with this sickening and deadening (toxic) disease at our church, more than anyone cares to admit. I am certain this is the case in many churches; most of us sense that it isn't going to change. I am convinced that the inevitability of change-lessness should not negate our addressing the issue. It NEEDS to be addressed, even if NO ONE decided to heed and obey. After all, The Apostle Paul succinctly stated that I, the spiritual leader, will be judged if I don't teach it--I will be held accountable! After reading the lesson and studying scriptures, it is clear to me that God despises, abhors, and hates gossip, slander, and a 'false witness'. If just this one sickness is examined, diagnosed, and treated--this alone will do wonders for many churches--but I will just say the one that I pastor. In studying the lesson, I am discovering that at the heart of gossip is suggestion, assumption, deception, and (surprising to me) UN-FORGIVENESS!!! I do desire desperately for God to do a work in and on the people in our congregation, beginning with myself. I know that the Word is a mirror, not a window to look and point at others. I must say as Pastor, however, that God has shown me this is a serious problem in our church and is preventing our growth, joy, freedom in worship, liberation in our praise, and even fully trusting and following pastoral leadership--gossip. I would have never even imagined that a fellowship so small in number would have any problems at all, other than financial. Financially we are not doing what we could do and should do in terms of our giving. But, sadly, that pales in comparison to the toxic issues that threaten to pervade and infect our entire body-if it hasn't already. I pray that the lesson tonight goes well. More importantly, I earnestly pray that those who struggle with this sickness will be convicted, repent, and turn from their ways. If we could turn that negative energy (spreading the BAD NEWS) into positive energy (getting out the GOOD NEWS)--our church would be one of the brightest beacons of light in our dark city!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Last night and this morning, I had--what I would call--my fourth REVELATION from God. I have to apologize for not being as spiritual as some preachers who have a revelation every single time you look up. It seems like God does a lot of talking to these guys. Whenever I look in scripture, God shows up to men (and women) in scripture a gap between years upon years. It was then that those revelations (i.e. Moses/Noah), that the person recieving the revelation invest their LIFE in fulfilling that call. I have had 3 previous revelations (as our church already knows). 1) My call to preach the gospel at fourteen in 1993. 2) When God instructed me to marry my wife, D'Ani. 3) When He directed our starting Cornerstone in 2004-05. And, now, God has spoken. (Let's be clear: people who know me KNOW I don't play with God's name--I will often say that the Holy Spirit made an impression, I interpret, I believe, etc.--rarely will I say that 'God said to me'. That's dangerous!) I will not get into the revelation until I have shared with our congregation--which will probably be in December during my State of the Church address. What I will say is that God is good! I trust His plan! I trust His timing! And I thank Him for being gracious enough to choose someone like me. That's amazing!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dr. Jim Hamilton

This evening I discovered that one my my seminary professors (New Testament Greek), Dr. Jim Hamilton, has a blog!!! I am really gaining my momentum in this blog of a world. I would love to see everyone (particularly pastors/preachers/teachers) participate in this great/powerful medium. His blog address is

Monday, October 15, 2007

John MacArthur

Last week I picked up a book in my library by Dr. John MacArthur, Jr. entitled Ashamed of the Gospel. MacArthur is a well-respected author and pastor of Grace Community Church (, the voice behind Grace to You Ministries (, and President of The Master's Seminary ( His book, Ashamed of the Gospel, is an insightful piece of theological work that revolves around the subject of Christianity on the 'downgrade'. He, in this book, kind of builds upon the much publicized controversy between the late Charles Hadden Spurgeon and The Baptist Union upon Spurgeon's resignation, and their battles in the last two years of Spurgeon's life. This is a good read--for laity and laymen--as instruction and exhortatatively encouraging us to stand tall and preach TRUTH in a modernistic attempt within many of our user-friendly churches and cotton candy preachers who are attempting to kidnap the rugged cross from preaching and sell out the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have had this book for many years--but never even casually looked through the book. The other, which I read over this is past weekend--was MacArthur's Power and Freedom of Forgiveness. This was a very timely subject for me (considering there are a few people just this year who are testing me in this area)--also assigned for reading by one of my seminary mentors, Dr. Bob Overton. I've also had this book for some time. MacArthur explores the fundamental concept of forgiving others and forgiving ourselves--saturated in our fundamental approach to understanding God's forgiveness toward us. He says, in a nutshell, that in order for one to experience a transformative realization of forgiveness toward self and toward other people--one must understand the God who, literally, canceled our debt, forgave our offense, and washed(es) our slate by day. MacArthur is a thorough expositor of scripture and handles every passage with prayerful selection and insightful applications for contemporary relevance. By the way--MacArthur just so happens to be one of my father's favorite writers. It was also the favorite writer of Rev. Steve V. Mack, a close friend of my father who passed a little over a year ago. He was a great preacher, friend of my father's, and just a giant of a man. I miss Rev. Mack and think about him VERY often. All in all, I have many of MacArthur's books by their recommendations--just never really read him or gave him any thought. But, WOW--MacArthur is GOOD! I can see clearly now!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Today, after preaching at our own worship service, I along with some of our members journeyed to Lifestyle of Christ Church in Pearland for the 1 year anniversary of Dr. Mike Forney. This is a new ministry and the people really expressed their appreciation to Dr. Forney today. Contrary to my original plan, the Holy Spirit led me to a passage tucked away in Exodus 14:5-17, the familiar story that records the narrative of God's people of Israel standing face to face with the impossible in every direction. It is interesting how God breathed and smiled on the message, considering this is a passage I hadn't preached from in years. Little did I know how this would serve as an encouragement to Pastor and people. Each week, I am learning more and more to follow God's guidance. Also, I have been working more on my breaking free from the manuscript. At Cornerstone, I had the outline, which is on a previous blog. It was kind of awkward (and quiet), considering I was in Malachi 3 and talking about the tithe. Not too much response. God God directed me to the passage and the message--so I was obedient. (This is a learning process for me) I, probably more than many preachers, am easily swayed by the response of a crowd. This is not a good thing!!! As a pastor, my focus for Cornerstone has and is shifting more each week: Not preaching for RESPONSE; but preaching for CHANGE!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Just a Thought

Occasionally I visit the blogspot of H.B. Charles, Jr. ( for spiritual insights, valuable nuggets, and (to be quite honest) sermonic ideas-he is an inspiration to so many young preachers, particularly his commitment to thorough study, biblical exposition, and his integrity, call, and Christian commitment glistens through his very persona. If you've met him, you know exactly what I mean. When I visited his page not long ago, I noticed that he had a book listed there by Ron Mehl entitled 'Meeting God at a Dead End'. I was captured (captivated & arrested) by the title of the book--and with the questions, dead ends, peculiar corners I have encountered in ministry--I felt as if I "needed" this book. I like books, and if H.B. recommends it, you can't really go wrong--so I ordered the book. I also ordered another book by Mehl that looked pretty interesting. God has blessed me with almost 3000 books in my library. To some, that isn't a lot--but I am really beginning to think fond thoughts (without using the word 'pride') about my little collection. It was always a dream of mine of getting as many books in my library as my dad--I'm not there but at the pace I'm going, I think I will be soon. *smile*. I went by our church P.O. Box this evening and, to my surprise, the books by Mehl had arrived. Upon opening up the package, something hit me like a ton of bricks--immediately when I saw the cover of 'Meeting God at a Dead End'--I realized I HAVE THIS BOOK!

Wow! Then it began to dawn on me--just a proverbial question-how often do WE do that? Instinctively, we rush in haste to search and acquire what, unbeknownst to us, was there all along. Dreams, ambitions, grace gifts, etc.--it was there all along. If only I had done invententory--I would have found this TREASURE and saved time, energy and, yes, money. All I can do--is once I find where that old book is--my responsibility is to give it to somebody else who needs God to meet them at a dead end. Maybe we have everything that we need that God will use to bless us and move us to what He has S.H.A.P.E.d us for; it just needs to be re-discovered and cultivated in the hand of the Master Craftsman. Just a thought; but I think it'll preach...and LIVE!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Malachi 3:6-12

Today I've concluded my PRELIMINARY SHEET in my sermon preparation. Though I've been preaching for almost 15 years, I have only done a prelimary sheet (formally) maybe 4 or 5 times. It is so easy to neglect this important and meaningful step. Particularly when you are called and are certain that God will bless what He will bless. The PRELIMARY SHEET was first introduced (to my knowledge) by Dr. Al Fasol, a preaching professor at Southwestern BTS. I also noted a PRELIMINARY SHEET chronicled by Dr. Ralph West in Dr. Cleophus J. LaRue's Power in the Pulpit. The PRELIMINARY SHEET is the 2nd Phase in my sermon preparation. 1st phase consisting of sripture selection, study of context & study of original language (familiarizing myself with the passage and a general understanding of the passage). Phase 3, once the PRELIMINARY SHEET has been constructed, consists of sermon illustrations, related passages, anecdotes, etc. Phase 4 begins the writing of the sermon (along with the construction of the introduction and conclusion). I hope to get into the habit of constructing a PRELIMINARY SHEET on a consistent basis in my sermonic preparation. CIT stands for Central Idea of the Text; MOT stands for Main Objective of the Text; MOS stands for Main Objective of the Sermon. This is my PRELIMINARY SHEET for the message I intend to preach at Cornerstone this Sunday (October 14, 2007) at the 8:15am worship service, if the Lord says the same!

Text: Malachi 3:8-12

CIT: God’s return and judgment are imminent. You have departed from the command of God; it is reflective your giving. God’s grace abounds with His desire to reciprocate our giving back to Him. Bring the tithe; the relationship will be restored; the storehouse (church) will abound—and God will be pleased and you will be blessed.

MOT: Pastoral & Exhortative

Thesis: The God above has given an awesome promise—to bless those who honor His command. God owns it all; He commands the tithe; He uses His tithe to provide a blessing to somebody else, namely, the storehouse. Paying the tithe flips the script, reverses the curse, and creates a flow that can not be contained.

MOS: God’s goal for his church (his people) is to honor Him in their giving. Disobedience to God’s command for giving dishonors God and curses the robber. Obedience to God’s command for giving honors God and blesses the giver. Ultimately, God’s glory is CONNECTED to our giving.

Practical Themes: Stewardship, Giving, Tithing

Keywords: Flow, Rob, Steward, Manager vs. Owner, Tithe, Prove/Test, Pour

Title: Reverse the Curse


I. The Danger of Disobedience (vs. 6 – 9)
a. Rebellion ‘…you have gone away…’
b. Robbery ‘…you have robbed me.’
...............i. You are robbing God
...............ii. You are robbing God's house '...even this whole nation.'
...............iii. You are robbing yourself
c. Result ‘…you are cursed with a curse…’

II. The Grace of Giving (vs. 7 – 10a)
a. The grace of giving is based on your Position ‘return…’
b. The grace of giving is based on Privilege ‘bring you all the tithe…’
c. The grace of giving is based on Purpose ‘that there may be meat…’

III. The Outcome to Obedience (vs. 10b – 12)
a. God promises to reward our faith ‘I will open…not be room enough…’
b. God promises to rebuke our foes ‘I will rebuke the devourer…’
c. God promises to renew our fruitfulness ‘…all the nations…delightful land...’

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Greek Day

Tonight is New Testament Greek. I am about to do my parsings for this evenings exploration. Also--there is both our weekly quiz and also our mid-term exam. The good news is that the exam is take home. But I know that it will be challenging; and ethics are involved! I have a lot to do--and not enough time. I will keep this short and simple-today I am praying to accomplish everything that needs to be accomplished while also prioritizing devotional time with the Lord. I preach 2 times this coming Sunday--2 different messages--so I am sure that will be fun. The plan is to begin a short Stewardship series this Sunday. Also, I will be preaching a Pastor's anniversary morning service immediately following our morning worship. The challenge--keeping the message at our church in a timely frame to allow us time to get to the other service. I pray that God is honored and pleased with this day and will honor the order and structure I am trying to create in my hectic environment. In the language of Gordon MacDonald, I'm attempting to 'order my private world.' I'll catch the blog tomorrow. God alone be glorified!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Let me add another note!

I want to add something to the last blog I sent about 5 minutes ago--the people at our church really made Harvest Sunday a great success. First, they showed up in record numbers (15 or so people) for our evangelism effort in the park. Then the women at our church turned around and helped make Saturday a good time for our guests and again on Sunday. I love these people. I can't begin to tell you what they mean to me. God sends people like these just to remind you that this is about Him. So many of them have shown me that they truly are in love with Jesus Christ and love His church. There is nothing negative about this; the enemy was at work--but they just kept serving, working, and praising God.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Today we observed our Harvest Sunday. The original intent was to have our Harvest Weekend (Festival & Worship service) the last week of October--as an alternitive to Halloween. However, there was a scheduling conflict with our special guests. Pastor Lloyd A. Pullam and St. Emmanuel Baptist Church ( were our special guests. Pastor L.A.P. just so happens to be my father's brother (making him my uncle) and he is a dynamic, solid preacher. He, along with another one of my uncles, Rev. Monty E. Francis, were factors in my attending Soutwestern Seminary, where they both recieved their Masters degrees. It was good to finally have he, his family, and church family at Cornerstone. He shared from John 9:1-9 about the man born blind. His subject was 'The Man who was Born Blind'. Harvest Sunday was also intended to be the time I planned to break ground on the land we had spotted in the Houston-Pearland area. We started a capital campaign (Together We Build) to raise $75,000 for down payment of land, beginning the building process, and for a few things we didn't have--such as chairs, etc. What I am learning is this: Our plan is different from God's plan. I am also learning that there are some who will often VOICE their desire for more and to move, but action becomes the deciding factor on who will or will not follow through. In a real sense, there are some who've expressed, over and over, that we 'NEED' a place of our own; that we 'should have' our own place. As the pastor and founder of Cornerstone--I have expressed from the beginning that this is NOT one of my priorities!!! However, it continued to be a big issue that bothered me for some time--that some cannot see the forest for the trees . At every opportunity, the question of 'when are we going to have a place of our own?' would come up. At times, the insinuation may be that our not having a building is a sign of a misapropriation of funds, misplacement of priorities, etc. I will not go into all of that--God sees all and knows all! I have made it clear: Our first priority is the build people. I don't know if it is our second priority--but on the list of priorities has been for us to: fill the place (school or church) we are meeting in now! Incidently, those who desire the building the most...have given nothing (nothing) to the building fund (together we build) as of October 8, 2007 and the church attendance has not increased by their inviting others to our worship. Go figure! My philosophy is this: if we pack out the building that we are in, inviting our families, friends, coworkers and neighbors--there is NO CHOICE but to build or to move.

Here is what I have learned--or rather--what I already knew, but the Lord confirmed it even more: the enemy tries to throw the church and many pastors off course by getting us to MAJOR IN THE MINORS AND MINOR IN THE MAJORS. Most of us can re-visit our mission and vision statements--and will conclude, of course, after reading scripture, that Christ's priority was not buildings, budgets, or burgeoning congregations. It was transformation, reformation, sanctification, outreach, ministry.

After all--there are many congregations who didn't rush out to get a building. Higher Dimension ( opened its doors with hundreds in their first service; they grew to over 2000 within 3 years, and stayed at an elementary school 5 years. Saddleback ( met for 11 years in over 30 different facilities before purchasing over 50 acres in Orange County. And then there is Fort Bend Church ( who is in the Houston metropolis who came out of Brentwood ( They had over 700 people in the first worship service--started about a year before Cornerstone--and they continue to meet in the Junior High School.

Now there is nothing wrong with that. My point is this: we allow (or atleast sometimes I have allowed) people who do not bear the weight of the ministry, the call, and accountable to God for the spiritual progress of the church--to steer and veer us off course. Before my time on earth is done--I want to be an encouragement to churches and pastors and remind them that we are accountable to God ONLY and that human lives are our first priority.

Bottom line--tell you how the Holy Spirit works--we have an awesome capital campaign (considering we didn't hire any outside sources)--you can see it at under Our Future. We kicked off the campaign in January '07. I lifted the challenge, set the goal, and chart our progress. Incidently, we have raised about $3500 toward our $75,000 goal. Do you know what? I have a mixture of emotions about this--I am both glad about it and saddened by it. I am saddened by it because--there is a part of me that would like to have a building (think of the extra programs, classrooms for teachers, children's space, etc.). I would like to have it--it's just not a priority. There is another part of me that is glad--because the Lord has shown me that this is a team effort. It is as if a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders that said that the reason that we don't have a building is because of me. I know now that that is a lie from the Devil himself (John 8:44). God gave me the vision, I lifted it before the church, and I have given to the vision myself; also getting about 3 people who were not members of our church to give to the campaign. I feel SO free.

So when it comes down to where we are with a building--those who have VOICED their problems with our 'NEEDing' our own--if they haven't given anything or contributed to seeing us move in that direction--they will either have to look straight or leave. Hate to see anybody go--but some can only look straight for so long. Now don't get me wrong--I DO NOT want anyone who reads this to think that we have a lot of complainers, etc. at Cornerstone. Cornerstone is the BEST church that there is--I mean that with everything I can muster. I am a pastor--and like many people--I am emphasizing the minority issue here by a small group. I hope that I do both--show my excitement with those whom God is using at our church; and also some of the struggles I have. I know it will bless some if I do--I always strive to be more transparent when I share on this sacred space called blogspot. Didn't mean to go there with all of this--but that's why its a blog!!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Several years ago I happened upon an interesting site that featured one of my long-time mentors from Corpus Christi, Dr. Cleophus J. LaRue, Jr. Dr. LaRue is the author of The Heart of Black Preaching, Power in the Pulpit, and This is My Story. (Please visit to purchase-it is worth the investment!) I have also been trying to get a hold of his dissertation, which I remember him saying was and/or is in book form as well - don't quote me on that. I do not know for sure if it ever went to publication. Additionally, he presently teaches preaching at Princeton Theological Seminary and is a great preacher. The site is It is a rich and refreshing site; there are also many other featured speakers that you can read, view, or listen to their sermonic presentations, including William Willimon, Frederick Buechner, and even Otis Moss, III. I highly recommend this site for preachers, teachers, and scholars who are interested in the academic, structured side of preaching. I hope and pray that whomever takes advantage of this medium will be richly blessed and inspired in their preaching and teaching ministries.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Preaching Priorities (2007 - 2008)

I've begun a list of things I want to explore this year/next year in terms of preaching and teaching. I really want to work my way through The the Sermon on the Mount, the Gospel of Mark, and Nehemiah. This coming year, I kind of want to focus on some of the basics:
* The Lord's Prayer
* The Ten Commandments
* The Beatitudes
* The Seven Churches (Revelation)

Would also like to teach through:
Romans, I Corinthians & II Corinthians

I really want to commit myself to verse by verse preaching and freeing myself from the manuscript. Whenever I set out to do something that will only involve myself and the Holy Spirit, I will do everything in my power to get it done. I do need prayer in the area of consistency, diligence, perseverance, and time management.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Biblical Exposition...Verse by Verse

Tuesday evening, like every other Tuesday night, was spent at the seminary in New Testament Greek with Dr. Jim Hamilton. However-this night was different. I found myself consumed by the pressures and challenges of ministry, kind of concerned about my dad who had gone to the ER earlier that day back in Corpus Christi, and then just the pressures of every day life. Additionally, I didn't like the fact that I had made a B on my Greek Exposition paper. This led to a talk with my professor after class that evening. We had an interesting discussion; it was then that the conversation gravitated toward our commitment to being commited to the exposition of God's word. He asked me, 'What are you preaching/teaching now at your church?' I replied, 'I am now in a series on building relationships'. He then asked, 'Have you ever thought about taking a book and going from verse to verse?' Now--people who know me KNOW that I always deal with the text, wording(S), etc. But something about his question pricked me--even more than I think he knew--and that I cared to admit at that time. What a terrible indictment to me personally--that I have been at this church over 2 years now--and though I have started, I have not STARTED and COMPLETED a single book in scripture at Cornerstone. I remember starting I Corinthians and our working through the 1st chapter; but when I didn't like the response, I STOPPED. Again--I began a series in Nehemiah; but when I got through the 1st or 2nd chapter, I STOPPED--I didn't like the response. Now this may mean nothing to anyone who reads this--and probably nothing at all to the average lay person. But at my previous church assigment, I preached through to entire book of Nehemiah (about 13 weeks) and then again through the book of Ephesians (about 9 weeks) and then a series on Discipleship (about 8 weeks). Both Nehemiah and Ephesians were both tremendous growth opportunities for me. Of course, I recieved such a great response with both Nehemiah and Ephesians. Then I had just concluded that the church where I presently pastor, as I have often said, 'Just doesn't get with a series of messages, verse by verse, chapter by chapter'. But at the last church where I was given the opportunity to preach every week--it NEVER even dawned on me whether or not they liked it, whether or not they came to shake my hand, whether or not they told me how good of a preacher I was--I KNEW they needed it, that the Lord led me to those books, and I had a PASSION to get it all out the way HE gave it to ME!

Herein lies my problem--and where our discussion led--that I have gotten caught in the trap of allowing the approval of men to steer my performance or determine my approach. That night I had a SERIOUS conviction of my sin--not putting what God wants....FIRST. In Houston--there is this jockeying for so many preachers to be RELEVANT and make APPLICATION. In so many ways--so many have said, in their own way, that the Word of God is just not relevant enough. Now don't get me wrong--I have always used scripture, related scriptures, etc. I just haven't committed myself wholeheartedly to being committed, consistent, and pressing through no matter what. And using the gift that God has given ME. From this day forward--I am committed to doing it GOD'S way. I have considered myself doing things His way--because I have always served Him, obeyed Him, stood on His word, studies His word, etc. But here is my issue--I can't follow HIM and keep worrying about what men will say or do at the same time. I want to follow Him COMPLETELY. Let the chips fall where they may.

Here is my commitment: I will hold myself accountable before God, I will monitor my progress, I will lay aside all of the sins/weights that have stood in the way of my hearing God more clearly, I will establish accountability partners, I will completely wean myself from being fearful or timid about what others think about me and what their response will be to what the LORD has to say THROUGH me, I will the temptation to get a response while I am preaching, duplicating just what I heard somebody else say, allowing the enemy to sidetrack me, allowing other people to sidetrack me, committing each day to devotion, bible reading, prayer, journaling, blogging, and 15 minutes a day to reading the original Hebrew &/or Greek text.

I am changing!!! I can promise you that. I have decided that I have to go myself, lose members, or have everyone to whom I preach misunderstand me...I can't quit. I want to see this thing through...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Words of Encouragement!

(Deuteronomy 33: 27) "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

"There is nothing you suffer that you cannot profit by" (George Meredith) This reminds me that adversity is sure to come to everyone and there is some benefit in everything we experience. God's help is always available to us. He shows us the way through adversity (if not out of it) and He makes it an occasion for growth - if we are willing to listen to Him. Look for what you can learn in every circumstance.

Matthew 11: 28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Worry ends when faith in God begins.

Psalm 121:1-8 "I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shad at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."

1 John 4:4 "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Romans 8:31 "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Isaiah 40:31 "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

John 14:27 " Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Philippians 4:8 "Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

Ephesians 6:10 "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power."

Matthew 7: 9-11 " Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Psalm 34:8 "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."

Lamentations 3:22-24 "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."

Isaiah 30:18 "The Lord longs to be gracious to you. He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"

James 1: 2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Romans 8: 16-18, 38-39: "The spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
An example of faith was found on the wall of a concentration camp. On ita prisoner had carved the words:

I believe in the sun, even though it doesn't shine,
I believe in love, even when it isn't shown,
I believe in God, even when he doesn't speak.

I try to imagine the person who etched those words. I try to envisionhis skeletal hand gripping the broken glass or stone that cut into thewall. I try to imagine his eyes squinting through the darkness as hecarved each letter. What hand could have cut such a conviction? What eyes could have seen good in such horror?

There is only one answer: Eyes that chose to see the unseen.