Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Perfect Pastor

I came accross something I found to be rather amusing and astonishing:

The Perfect Preacher

He condemns sin, but never hurts anyone's feelings.

His sermons are “right on” for the other person, who really needs to hear that,and never longer than 20 minutes.

He works from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p. m. in every kind of church task,from preaching to janitor.

He makes $250.00 a week, wears good clothes, buys good books, has a nice family,drives a good car, and gives $75.00 a week to the church.

He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work.

He makes 15 calls a day visiting church members, spends all his timeevangelizing the unchurched, and is never out of his office.

He has a burning desire to work with teenagers,and spends all his time with older folks.

He and his family attend all church functions and smile,while members pick and choose what they attend.

He leads the council and congregation with visionand always lets the members have their way.

- Author Unknown

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It has been kind of awkward not being in the loop, so to speak. I have been so busy with my own life experiences that I have neglected to faithfully blog as I have privately devoted about a little over a year ago. My vow is to do much better amid all of the seemingly logical excuses I have to 'not blog'. After all - we ALL have things going on. Mine are all too common - trying to get ready to next year's calendar of events/vision/etc. for the church I pastor; finals; tired; funerals; etc. But I have made an astonishing discovery (atleast I think I have) the past week - the entire point of a blog is that the blog serves as a healthly outlet amidst life's tedious upheavals and constant strains. I plan to not only write more, but read more. I have a strange little pet peave - persons who always write blogs and recieve the blogging comments/encouragements of others; but can NEVER be found returning the favor. I know how precious it is to get an occassional comment of encouragement from someone in the blog world; I think it would be nice if I do the same - atleast as time permits. Right now I am reading through Joel C. Gregory's book 'Too Great a Temptation'. I typically read autobiographies and memoirs throughout the year, but particularly between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had the opportunity to read Gregory's work back in '95, taking it off my father's shelf. To think that 13 years have past and I still have not purchased my own copy (I took it from his shelf yet again!) is a terrible indictment, in and of itself. I will have to review this book once I complete it; but there are so many things (nuggets) entailed within the pages - many that I didn't even notice 13 years ago, as a high school sophomore who had only been preaching about a year - and had NO idea I would one day pastor.

It is funny how things can change!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Infallible

Infallible has two meanings; one is "without error" the other that "it fulfills its intended function." A dull knife can be an infallible knife if you use it to cut butter. You will weaken the statement by putting in that word. I know it's your pet word, and it's the pet word of a lot of people, but it isn't as strong as the words "without any mixture of error."--from Interview Concerning Hobbs' Defense of Baptist Faith and Message Wording on the Bible

Friday, December 05, 2008

Revival in Brownsville

I have been away for a short minute; but I pray that all is well! At this time I am away in revival in Brownsville, TX - just a few minutes away from the Mexican Border. I am preaching for one of my brothers in the ministry, Rev. Leroy Roundtree, and the St. James Baptist Church. This is my eighth year here serving as the evangelist; and it is kind of bitter sweet. Next week, the Roundtree family will relocate to Baltimore, Maryland - and the Lord has opened up some doors for he and his family; for this I am grateful! Of course, I am somewhat saddened because I will miss them and seeing them atleast once each year.

I am praying for them as they make their transition; and for the St. James church family as they seek a new pastor in the coming months. Also, please keep me in prayer - finals have begun; and I am looking forward to the break prior to completing my last semester next month.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Privileges of Answered Prayer

Privileges to Answered Prayer
I Samuel 7:2-11

Let’s begin today with a moment of HONESTY and TRANSPARENCY:
Have you ever been in church—but church was not in you?
Have you ever come to worship and you just went through the motions?
Have you ever come to church and it seemed like everybody else was connecting in worship BUT you?
Have you ever been at the place where you were in the right place at the right time doing the right thing with the right people—but you had the wrong feeling?

Everybody else is singing and shouting and—though you are present and in the number—you’re just there. Upon the surface and at first glance, everyone else appears to be passionate, fervent, and full of zeal and life about their worship toward the living God and you just can’t seem to figure out what all of the noise and racket is all about.

I think I’ll begin with a moment of honesty and share with you that I’ve been there.
- Where it seemed like I just could not connect.
- Where I didn’t seem to fit into the overall plan and scheme of the purposes of God.
- Where the pieces of the puzzle just did not seem to fit together properly within the framework of God’s cosmic design.
- Where it seemed like I was disconnected and distant from the heart of God.
- Where it seemed as if I was away from the family.

In church—but didn’t have that ‘oomph’ that I thought that I was supposed to feel that inevitably could help me be who I knew that I was supposed to be as a son of the Most High God.

Preaching—but distant.
Teaching—but distant.
Leading and serving—but still sensing some disconnect from where I should be.

I am thankful and grateful that those moments and instances have been few and far between; but I also realize that most of the time when I have felt that way—it has not been God’s fault; it’s been MINE! More often than not the moments and instances when I have felt an isolation from God it was not because—somehow and in someway—that God had withdrawn Himself from me. But in some way or another—it was I who had strayed away from God.
Not prayed up as I should have been.
Not as devoted to the reading and study of God’s Word as I should have been.
Not obedient and committed to the cultivating of my intimacy and communication toward God as I should have been.

Have you ever been there?
- Where you didn’t have those private moments of prayer and devotion to God;
- Where you had strayed away from a passionate pursuit and passionate commitment toward the centering of your heart and your life in oneness and in sync with the heart of God through prayer and communication with HIM?
- Where you had strayed away from allowing your will to fall in line with HIS will and to flow with what God was up to through the practice and pragmatic approaches of prayer?
- Where you didn’t have the moments of meditation and devotion and as a result of a life void of prayer and devotion you just seemed to be floundering and faltering through the day?
- Just moving through the day without any aim or focus?

You’re in the church—in the right place at the right time with the right people doing the right thing—but the songs don’t mean anything; the sermon just doesn’t seem to have any flavor for you; it seems like it just doesn’t do anything for you at all.

That you’re going through the motions. That everything that is going on around you is just kind of lazze fare; doesn’t have much meaning; but just kind of floats on through; and you don’t really CONNECT to the point where you fit in with everybody else like you should.

And that is what is going on with our brothers and sisters called the children of Israel—the people of God, the chosen ones of the Most High God. Here in our text today, we have seen these brothers and sisters who have celebrated the fact that God has been returned to them as the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant represented the manifested representation of the presence of God; and now it was back in their midst. The Philistines had try to capture the ark and successfully they had captured it in years prior and had defeated Israel in battle; and they have removed from their presence the Ark of the Covenant which had symbolized the holy presence of the Most High God.
- They were depressed and they were defeated and they were distraught by the absence of the Most High God being in their midst; BUT the Lord had returned His presence BACK into the hands of the children of Israel.
- It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to have the Ark of the Covenant back among them and in their midst; and when we pick back up with them in chapter 7 of verse 2 of 1 Samuel, we see that the Ark of the Covenant has been in their midst for 20 YEARS…..BUT verse 2 says that they are still mourning, seeking after the Lord. There is a disconnect and there is something that is not quite right; they are not quite at the place that they need to be.
- They wish that they could sing and celebrate as they should but there is something that is not quite right.
- They are distant from the Most High God. And it is NOT God’s fault—the presence of God is there. But something in them has moved them from the place where they need to be.

But thanks be unto God, God always has a God-appointed, God-ordained leader who knows how to stand of before the people of God and tell them just what they need to hear so that they can move to the place that they need to be. So the Lord raises up a brother by the name of Samuel.
- He loves the Lord with all of his heart.
- He is sold out to the will and ways of Almighty God.
- He is a man who stands before God as one who has been both anointed and appointed
- He is one who is committed to following after the statutes, the decrees, and the laws and the will and ways of God.

Here is this brother named Samuel. And he has been raised up as the leader of the people of Israel.
- Their judge
- Their leader
- Their man for that time

And the Bible lets us know that this man knew what needed to be said/what needed to be done. Because when God anoints and appoints a leader, He knows how to give that leader the ability to flow in his or her divine appointed call and say just the right thing at just the right time to give you just what you need just when you need it most.

Is there anybody here who has ever been in worship not understanding what was going on in your life—but some kind of way when God started speaking through somebody somewhere to speak into your life just what you need, just when you needed it most.
- He spoke to your circumstance
- He spoke to your condition
- He spoke to your situation

Is there anybody here today who knows that that is just the way that our God is.
- When you need a word, He’ll speak a word.
- When you need deliverance, He’ll speak a word to give you deliverance.
- When you need a way out, He’ll speak a word just when you it most—to let you know that all you have to do is stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.

The Bible tells us that Samuel stands before the people and tells the people—that if you sense a disconnect from God—ALL you have to do is get back to God!!!
If you can get back to God—then God will move in your situation/then God will move on your behalf/then He will magnify Himself in such a way that even your enemies can do you no harm.

You need to RETURN to the Lord.

He says it here in verse 3, ‘Return to the Lord with your WHOLE heart’.

Return (Hebrew word Shoowz) means to reverse, to give back, to go back, to restore, to revisit. And then he declares ‘with your whole heart’. Heart denotes the faculty of devotion and emotion. God says that He wants them to go back to the place of pure devotion, loyalty and gratitude.

Don’t give God half-hearted worship
Don’t give God half-hearted devotion
Don’t give God half-hearted commitment

He said, ‘Return to the Lord with your whole heart’.

And the bigger problem with these Israelites is that they had entered into this thing called syncretism. And syncretism is when you begin to mix idol worship with the worship of God. The Bible says that that is what the Israelites had done, they had begun to mix up the worship of Ashtoreth and Baal. Ashtoreth was the fertility goddess, the goddess of LOVE. And they had begun to mix and mingle in with the worship of God with the goddess Ashtoreth and Baal. And old Sam said, ‘You’ve got to get rid of these idols.’

In essence he was saying this: WHATEVER IT IS THAT’S GETTING IN THE WAY OF THE WORSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND GOD—GET RID OF IT.

And I believe that that is a word for somebody who is here today: Whatever it is that’s standing in the way of you and God—it’s time to get rid of it.

He says that whatever it is that is getting in the way of your devotion to God get rid of it and ‘commit yourself totally unto the Lord’.
- I know it’s not easy
- I know it seems like you have more fun out there than you do in here
But if you are going to get what you need from the Lord, you have to commit yourself totally to the Lord.

And this is a difficult message for somebody who is here today because you are trying to figure out:
- How you can have God AND the club
- How you can have what YOU want AND what God wants
- How you can please God AND stay in your bed
- How you can obey God AND not get up the stuff that you want
- How you can be holy AND drop it like it’s hot

And that is the struggle of anybody who has every classified themselves as human.
- You DO want to sin
- You DO want to do it your way
- You DON’T always feel like coming to the house of God
- You aren’t always up to laying before God in prayer

But there must be an understanding that life is not always just about what YOU want. Because what YOU want is not always what’s best for you/leads to destruction and disarray/is that which displeases the ONE who placed you here to begin with.

You have to COMMITT yourself to HIM and RETURN to the Lord!!!

The Bible says that when they decided they were going to return to the Lord and they were going to commit themselves to the will and way of God; and ONE of the privileges to answered prayer—is that when we commit ourselves to God…

I. We have a GOD Who receives us.

- When you remove the distractions
- When you eliminate every encumbrance that stands between you and God
- When you take out the middle man

The good news from the WORD of God is that God ALWAYS receives you!!!

- He never turns you away
- He never ignores you
- He never disregards you
- He never puts up a cold shoulder
- He never closes the door in your face
- He never removes the welcome mat
- He says you are always welcome in MY presence
- He always receives us
- He always gathers us
- Always accepts us/protects us/corrects us/directs us/insures us/matures.

Your God RECIEVES you BACK into the FAMILY!!!

And I think that’s a good word for somebody today. Because I’m trying to preach to somebody who is here today for somebody
- who’s walked away too far
- who’s strayed away too long
- who’s drifted away for no reason at all

The good news is that your God is ready to welcome you back with open arms; He says, WELCOME BACK, I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE. THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!!

Our God is ready to receive us.

- Maybe you’re at rock bottom today. Rock bottom doesn’t mean anything to God. He made the rock!!!

Your failures and your mistakes don’t mean anything to God—because you can always begin again!!!

And that’s a good word for somebody who is here today who’s stayed away too long and drifted too far. You should never allow your failures, disappointments or even your setbacks to keep you from a God Who loves you and desires to have a place and play apart in your life.
- Yes you lost a child that you wanted
- Yes you had a child that you didn’t want
- Yes you had a sickness that you didn’t expect
- Yes you’re making less money but you have more bills
- Yes you were in the relationship that you have given your life to and now it has taken something out OF you
- Yes you even mess up so much that you had even given up on yourself

But let us ALL agree—that you ARE a survivor!!!

And never allow the failures or disappointments in your life to prohibit or inhibit you—RUSHING to the very God (the ONLY God) Who has given you another chance/another opportunity to start ALL over again.
- People said you aren’t worth it anymore…but He wants to receive you!
- People have said that you are no use…be He wants to receive you!
- You don’t even know if you will live to see next year…but He’s waiting to receive you!!!

Your God says COME HOME

Is that not the story of the prodigal son? The very story of the prodigal son teaches us about the very privileges of prayer/coming before the throne/the God Who receives us when you come and talk to Him. The prodigal son had enjoyed himself. He had been having a good time; he got all of his mammas and daddy’s resources and momma and daddy I’m tired of living in your house. He said, ‘I need my money—show me the money’. He got that money from daddy and the Bible says that he went into a far country, says the Word, and spent it all on RIOUTOUS living. Having a good time (‘Party over here’); had a good time spending his money on riotous living; folks were enjoying him while he had money/while he was paying the bills/was the spender of all of his resources.
- But when the money got funny….and when the change got strange…and when the pennies weren’t many—he found himself doing what no good Jew would ever do—he said he need to go slop the hogs. And he began to feed the swine and it got so bad that he contemplated eating some of the food of the swine himself in order to fill his belly. And the Bibles lets us know—that just before he drifted too far away/just before he made the bad move/just before he went too far/just before he made one more mistake/just before he offended daddy to the utmost.

The Bible says, ‘That he CAME to himself’. He said, ‘No…I’m not supposed to live like this/it’s not supposed to be like this/I’m not supposed to be in the pig pen with swine…I’m going back to my father’s house.’ And the Bible lets us know that when he gets halfway down the road, he daddy was waiting for him and ran up to him, gave him a big kiss, and he threw a party for him, and said, ‘This my son was dead, but he is alive again.’

You can ALWAYS COME BACK HOME.

Jeremiah 33:3; Jeremiah 29:11-12

Come home!!!
Come home!!!
Come home brother/sister!!!

Ye who are weary….COME HOME!!!!

I was talking to some members of our praise team and they said that at certain clubs, there’s a policy. They say that if you get to the club and you pay the cover charge; that SOME clubs will stamp your hand as PROOF that you’ve paid your fare to get in the club. And other clubs will give you a wrist band that says, ‘you’ve paid your fare, you can go into the party—and have a good time’. Enjoy yourself; ‘party all the time, celebrate good times come on’. It’s a wonderful thing going on to have the party AND because you have the stamp on your hand or the wrist around your hand….
- You can leave the party
- Go do whatever you need to do
- Go get whatever you need to get

Do whatever needs to be done while you’re outside of the party. But if you’ve got a stamp on your hand; and if you’ve got a wrist band on your wrist—when you come back from doing whatever you did, you don’t have to stand in nobody’s line/don’t have to pay an additional charge/don’t have to answer any questions/don’t have to tell anybody where you’re been. Just show the stamp/wristband—and you can walk through the barrier, walk straight into the party and have a good time.

COME HERE: I’m not just talking about any party; I’m talking about the daddy’s house. This party is 1600 miles wide and 1600 miles long. And you don’t even have to go to Him, He’ll come to YOU. When you’ve strayed away from the house too far/whenever you went out there and did whatever you did—the good news of the Word of God is—when you’ve been STAMPED with the name of the Most High God—when you’ve been wrapped up with the power and love of Jesus Christ—when God sees the image of His Son when you cry out to Him—He doesn’t ask you any questions/does not meet you with condemnation/doesn’t ask you where you’ve been because He already knows.

He just says, ‘Come on into the party and talk to me—you are WELCOME in the HOUSE’.

That’s the first thing—we have a God who receives us.

II. We have a God who relieves us.

I want you to watch the text—verse 5.

Sam says, ‘meet me at Mizpah’. Mizpah means ‘The Watchtower’. Samuel says, ‘Meet me up high!!! I want to get above the fray/above the drama’.

He says, ‘I know that the enemy does not like the fact that you’re prospering—they can stay where THEY are; but YOU meet ME at Mizpah…Because I’m going to talk to the Lord on your behalf.’

I like that. This is a praying leader. This is a prayer leader!!! He says, ‘I’m going to talk to the Lord on your behalf; I’m going to intercede for you.’

And the Bible says that as Samuel begins to pray that the people begin to sacrifice unto the Lord.

- They poured out water
- They fasted
- They confessed before the Lord
- They repented of their sins

They said that we don’t want to do that anymore; because when you come back home, you ought to repent and declare, ‘I’ll never do that anymore’.

They repent and Old Samuel begins to pray; he begins to talk to the Lord.

Child of God—don’t you EVER deny the power of prayer.

Don’t ever degrade the efficacy of a talk with a Holy God.
Don’t ever demean the potency of conversation with THE HOLY OTHER.

There’s something that happens when you talk to God.

I don’t know HOW He works it out; but I do know that while you are trying to FIGURE it out, He’s already WORKED it out.

Is there anybody here who can testify that God will go behind the scenes and He’ll shift stuff around and release stuff in the atmosphere—to make sure that it works out for your good.

Anybody in here every tried to power of prayer? And you found out that God does answer you when you call on His name?

Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything (that’s the big stuff and the little stuff)
Everything (that’s the hard the stuff and the easy stuff)
Everything (that’s your job and your family)
Everything (that’s your money and your health)
Everything (that’s your man; that’s your woman)
Everything to God in PRAYER!!!

Samuel said, I have to pray.

Listen: Prayer is NOT a quick fix every time. Because the Bible says that WHILE Sam is praying, the enemy’s ATTACK INTENSIFIED.

WHILE he’s praying the Philistines get the word that they are at Mizpah; and they say we’re going to go get them now/we’re going to attack them at Mizpah and take them out.

But what they didn’t understand was—the LAST time they defeated them it was because they didn’t have anybody who was praying. But THIS time—the man of God was up there calling their name in prayer.

And you need to know that it is PRAYER that makes ALL of the difference.

Now my question is: Where did Samuel get this from? Where did Samuel learn about the power of prayer? You have to realize that you ought to trust in the power and potency of prayer—when you realize that the very fact that YOU are even here—is a result of somebody praying for YOU!!!

Well—this is chapter 7, but if you go back to chapter 1 and chapter 2, you’ll find a good sister who knew that she wanted a baby boy; but her WOMB had been shut up; but she knew that she needed to talk to God. Old Samuel’s mamma’s name was Hannah and Hannah learned how to pray for her baby boy.

And the Bible lets us know that because Hannah prayed that the Lord opened up her womb and gave her a baby boy; and called his name Samuel. And she prayed in her prayer, ‘Lord, if you give him to me, I’ll give him back to you all the days of his life’. And that is how Samuel began to understand the power of pray—because the fact that he was even here—was because he had somebody who was praying for him before the Most High God.

I wonder if there is anybody who is here today—that knows that you are not here because you look so good/because you’re so smart/so intelligent/because you made the right connections.

But because somewhere you had some mamma, some saint, some deacon, some pastor—somewhere who was praying for you!!!

The Bible says that after Samuel prayed—the Philistines advanced in their attack toward Mizpah—the Bible says that on THAT day—
- Because somebody believed in the power of prayer
- Because somebody gave heaven earthly license to influence earth
- Because somebody issued forth terrestrial license for celestial intervention
- Because somebody called those things that were not as though they were
- Because somebody cried out to God and believe Him to work and do the impossible

The Bible lets us know that because somebody, somewhere—was in intercession—that ‘The Lord thundered against the enemy’.

That lets us know that we not only have a God who receives us in prayer/relieves us.

III. We have a God who rewards us.


And I wonder is there is anybody here today who has seen the results of answered prayer?

Some of you are living on some blessings right now NOT because YOU prayed but because somebody prayed.

And the Bible lets us know that on that day that the Lord thundered against the Philistines.

The Lord said:
- I’m tired of people acting against my children/of people messing with my babies/messing with my people.

And on THAT day the Lord thundered against the Philistines.

Now this is not the first time that the Philistines had come up against the Israelites. But it was not until THAT day that God said ‘NO MORE’.

And I like the fact, that when I learn how to cry out to God—God knows how to allow what I’ve gotten myself INTO to come to an end.

God knows how to give you a THAT day.

The Bible says that as a result of THAT day that the enemy’s of the Israelites were slaughtered all the way to Beth Car.

Somebody in here needs to do inventory and that God for THAT day.

- It was THAT day that the Lord saved my soul
- It was THAT day that the Lord confounded my enemies
- It was THAT day that the Lord made my enemies my footstool
- It was THAT day that the Lord gave me victory over:
disease/destruction/death/devastation/divorce/disaapointment/disaster.

Does anybody remember THAT day? And it is because of THAT day I can thank Him for THIS day.

This is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it.

That day he brought me deliverance; this day I’m bringing him my devotion
That day he brought me hope; this day I’m bringing him my all
That day he brought me salvation; this day I’m bring him my surrender

Hallelujah!!!!

Question

My beloved mother asked a question that she posted on my previous blog that I would like to post here - for more visibility. To be honest, I am interested in hearing what others have to say.

Here is the question:

I have a question for each of you preachers. Addressing you via Pastor Kraig's (hopefully with his permission) blog. How do you know weeks, months or even years in advance that God is directing you to do one preaching series after the other, and/or one at all? Just asking. I'm praying for ya'll!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ESV is here!

It has been some time since I have recommended a read; I think I will try to do it each week - since I make it a point to read a book each week, even in the midst of my present schedule. I am excited about the new ESV Study Bible! Of course - please don't consider this a book review or a parcel of what I am reading in completion for the week. It actually consists of 25,000 notes written specifically for ESV; 80,000 cross-references; and over 200 charts. It is very exhaustive; and--as someone who has atleast 60 or so study bibles I've acquired through the years - I would place this in the top 10! I am not a particular fan of the 'Version' itself, though many of my theological comrades and counterparts highly recommend and enjoy the version. But the notes, references, and charts - are well worth its weight!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This past weekend has been quite interesting! I found myself getting some rest in the midst of my strange schedule. My sons attended a birthday celebration on Friday night - giving me an opportunity to finish a research paper, watch a little television, etc.

For some reason, I just couldn't decide which direction to take on Sunday. I had anticipated a preaching series on 'The Family that Preys', but I knew that was not the direction I was being led on Sunday. Then...I thought about preaching a message on Thankful Living, but my thoughts would not come together. Finally, on Saturday evening, I had landed on Jeremiah 18:1-4.

Sunday morning came...attendance was low! Of course, this means nothing to me. However, I noticed that on this particular Sunday that it really didn't mean anything to those who were present. The next thing I knew, we had--what I would surmise--was an experience similar to Lance's experience last week. The Lord showed up and had His way.

I hate to say that I didn't finish the message, because I did. For the most part, I stood for about 20 minutes. For me...that is a miracle, considering my messages are typically 45 minutes plus!!!

I am really struggling which direction to go in my series, considering I will not be preaching the family series this year. I'll keep you posted. I plan to blog much more this week...and catch up on my reading the blogs of my friends!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

This previous Sunday was quite busy, hectic and hurried. Sunday morning at 8:15am we had our regularly scheduled worship service at Cornerstone; and the Lord blessed us tremendously! Our service was a little abbreviated in order for some of the members who wanted to travel with me to Bay City, TX. where I stood to share the Word at Mother Zion Baptist Church, Rev. Murray Martin, Sr. Pastor during their 11am service. I was tremendously blessed and uplifted by the Worship experience and fellowship there. Bay City is about an hour and a half from our church, so we were able to make it there a little after 11am. After that service, D'Ani and I had to take our youngest son, Kaden, to a Pass the Torch ceremony being held at a 3:30pm to induct him as a lifetime member into the NAACP organization.

After all of this, I had to go home and study for a mid-term and complete a report. Needless to say - it has been some kind of week.

It is Wednesday evening now and I know I have been away - but please keep me in your prayers. I have 2 papers due, one this Friday and another Monday; not to mention another Mid-Term on Monday. It is amazing to me--I don't think Seminary professors take into account other responsibilities such as pastoring, family time, leisure, etc. But I REFUSE to let this get me down - I WILL graduate in May so that I can finally move on to other things. That is...if we ALL pray!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I can't believe its been an entire week since I've last blogged. Nevertheless, I am always excited to sit at my desk and--not only write--but read the blogs of many of my friends (and family!).

We had an awesome time in worship this past Lord's Day. The Lord shined upon our worship and the message. Strangely, for the 3rd straight week I found myself losing my voice one-thirds a way through the message. I finally figured out the issue and prayerfully this will solve the problem.

Because our service begins at 8:15am, we have our Sunday School classes AFTER our worship service. I found myself counseling a member so I missed Sunday School; but I had a special treat. A few of our ministers took D'Ani and I to Sunday brunch, one of my favorite brunch places at Pappadeaux Seafood. We had good fellowship and I was glad that D'Ani was with me. I say that because it is hard to get away with 2 young boys demanding attention.

I am looking forward to a great week; particularly in lieu of Tuesday being Election Day. Either way the Lord allows this thing to go - it will be historic and speak of the steady progress our nation has taken. Let us ALL pray...and VOTE!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We had an awesome time in our Worship Gathering on the last Lord's Day of this month. I am really enjoying our series, 'No More Church As Usual', and yesterday we continued with our third message in this series. I am at a crossroads in our ministry - I see how, in many ways and through many of our people, the Lord is actually demonstrating His intentions and the progressive possibilities within our church; but then there are some persons (or shall I say spirits) in our church that, for whatever reason, refuse to let go of the past, or the people who have moved on - and even in my spirit it is difficult for us to forge ahead. I am praying for them. Apparently they care for and love our church, but the negative, cantankerous spirit is hard for not only a new church, buy ANY church seeking to exalt and centralize Christ in every facet. Nevertheless - WORSHIP at the Stone was 'off the chain'; and the Lord tremendously used the message from Acts 2.

The highlight of my day (though already on a high) came after leaving our service during Sunday School and going to visit my home church in the city, Pleasant Hill. I got word that my old mentor and friend, Dr. Cleophus LaRue, was in town and would be preaching. LaRue is Princeton Theological Seminary’s Francis Landey Patton Associate Professor of Homiletics. He has also writted some great works, including the 'Heart of Black Preaching' and 'Preaching in the Pulpit' that features H.B. Charles and Ralph West, two of my favorites. Dr. LaRue is also from Corpus Christi, grew up with my parents in the same church and school, and just a great friend of our family.

Dr. LaRue preached a message out of Mark 14 entitled, 'Three Kinds of Trouble.' Awesome message!!!

After service I had a chance to fellowship and commune with LaRue and my Pastor for a few hours, which, of course, was another treat. Just to sit with these men, talk about theology, politics, the coming election and changes taking place, and everything else - was certainly rich and refreshing.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

5 Questions

I have been engaged in a personal study of Creeds and Confessions from the Early Church. It is astonishingly amazing how these confessions and creeds speak to me both personally and spiritually. The first 5 questions and answers of the Westminster Larger Confession are quite striking and clear:

Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man?

Answer: Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

Question 2: How does it appear that there is a God?

Answer: The very light of nature in man, and the works of God, declare plainly that there is a God; but his Word and Spirit only do sufficiently and effectually reveal him unto men for their salvation.

Question 3: What is the Word of God?

Answer: The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.

Question 4: How does it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?

Answer: The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God.

Question 5: What do the Scriptures principally teach?

Answer: The Scriptures principally teach,: What man is to believe concerning God, and: What duty God requires of man.


May the Lord continually use and infuse us in Christian Ministry - as we hold high the blood-stained banner of the Christian Life; this blood and flows from the pierced wounds of our lovng Savior!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No More Church as Usual, Part 2

You've Been Approved
Acts 2:14
I. Separation
II. Assignment
III. Intercession (Luke 23:31)

No More Church as Usual, Part 1

Here is a general outline.
Acts 2:1-14

I. The Formula FOR the Filling
a. Replacement of Some Relationships (chapter 1:12-26)
b. Maturity to Handle What we Cannot Manipulate (vs. 1 'Suddenly')

II. The Fallout FROM the Filling (Verse 2)
a. '...the whole house'.
b. '...spoke in languages'; not tongues - rather, foreign languages.
Principle 1: When the Spirit shows up, things that you don't have the ABILITY to do, you start doing and can't explain how.
Principle 2: When the Spirit shows up, there is the Manifestation of Diversity
Question: What's YOUR language?
KEY: We may not speak the same language in our giftedness, worship, talents, etc. - but we should ALL be saying the SAME THING.
God needs you to speak your language.
c. '...others mocked'. There are others in every crowd.

III. The Freedom IN the Filling vs. 14 'But Peter...standing'.
a. Peter's history (Denial, switchblade, etc.)
b. God specializes in redeeming the reject.
c. God gives you a NEW attitude.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spurgeon on Human Emotions

"A sinner has a heart as well as a head; a sinner has emotions as well as thoughts; and we must appeal to both. A sinner will never be converted until his emotions are stirred. Unless he feels sorrow for sin, and unless he has some measure of joy in the reception of the Word, you cannot have much hope of him. The Truth must soak into the soul, and dye it with its own colour. The Word must be like a strong wind sweeping through the whole heart, and swaying the whole man, even as a field of ripening corn waves in the summer breeze. Religion without emotion is religion without life."

- C.H. Spurgeon

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We had an awesome time in Worship this Lord's Day. The week has been far spent; and though I haven't laid down or batted an eye since rising at 6:30am this morning, I am thankful and grateful for God being gracious enough to show up today. Attendance is picking up since the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. I don't think it has gotten much press--but the Hurricane really did shake Houston. All in all, I am both excited about and anticipate a fresh course taken in our direction and commitment as a church family during this month of what I am deeming a time of re-commitment and renewal. By God's grace, we continued the second part in our series in Acts chapter 2 with 'No More Church as Usual'.

God smiled upon the message and the members are spreading the word around the city about our ministry. Of course, this is ONLY the beginning when we consider the fact that Christ's call is for us to take the sanctuary to the streets. All in all, I seek your prayers in the area of our witness--and sharing Christ in our immediate contexts and cultures.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Out of the loop...but all is well.

I have been out of the loop this past week. As many of you may know - this has been a hectic time for me with all of the many things going on. Most importantly, please keep my wife D'Ani in your prayers. This past Friday we had to take her to the Emergency Room - and have been dealing with some things since that time. She is at home and doing well; her spirits are well. D'Ani is very strong; and an extremely strong woman of faith and virtue. I ask that during this week if you will lift her up in your prayers; and also that I will be an encouragement to her during this time - as her husband and as her pastor. Thanks!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Today we had an awesome time in worship. I am just blown away by how the Lord can do what He wants to do whenever He wishes to do so. Of course, I am not the only one the Lord smiled upon; but just reporting on my experience. Attendance is picking up since the Hurricane. Of course - I wasn't satisfied; but by the time we departed, I am completely convinced that every single person who was there...God specifically arranged their priorities and schedules to make it there. And those who were not...God had something else in mind. I started a series yesterday from the Book of Acts chapter 2 entitled, 'No More Church As Usual'. I am amazed in seeing how God used the message to challenge our church, collectively and personally. For the first time in my history as Pastor...nobody seemed to want to leave. Because of some events this past week, I contemplated not preaching and asking one of our six ministers to stand in my place. But after much prayer, I knew I HAD to stand. If nothing more than to demonstrate the authenticity of my faith; and to practically share the importance of standing amid adversity and challenge. It reminds me of something my mother shared with me many years ago when I had a terrible break up and thought about quitting the ministry. She said, in summary, 'Now is the time that you have to believe in the God that you preach about.'

I want to encourage someone who is dealing with adversity. Galatians 6:9 affirms very clearly for us how we should react in the face of life's circumstances. I have had several disappointments the past several months; but I must admit...God is strengthening me character, testimony and convictions concerning Christ. Deitrich Bonhoeffer was correct, 'I'm blessed when I bleed.'

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Busy Weekend

This is where I usually give a summary of what happened on Sunday at our church. But...I have to say that it has been a long weekend! My weekend began on Friday afternoon-I would say-as I interviewed with an IMB Missionary; and gained insight about the entire mission process. The interview was a part and parcel of a 12-page report due by 11:59pm Friday evening. To say the least, the report was turned in at about 6pm--thank God. Now...let's just pray for the grade! Friday evening was filled with another 7pm meeting and ended with kind of a breathing moment - my wife and I went to see Tyler Perry's 'A Family that Preys' with another couple in our church. We had a good time! (Interestingly--we were free of our boys; they were at home with a 'free' sitter!!!) Friday night and Saturday morning was spent both tending to my children as well as in sermon preparation. Saturday afternoon - my wife and I attended the wedding of Rev. Johnny L. Goff, Jr. and his bride. I have only heard of platinum weddings; THIS was one of those weddings, I assure you. To be in the number was an humbling experience, to say the least. The wedding itself was held at the Windsor Village Church and officiated by Rev. Marcus D. Cosby, pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. Everything was done in excellence, including a solo by Ms. Kathy Taylor. The reception was held at the Westin Galleria in Houston. To make a long story short - it was an amazing wedding; I am praying even more for a spectacular MARRIAGE!!!

I preached twice today. First, I shared at Cornerstone, our church. This was our first Sunday back at our worship facility since the Hurricane. It appears that quite a few of our members didn't get the memos, calls, or emails that we were now meeting back at our regular facility! But when I say that the Lord smiled upon our worship and His Word - God is gracious and kind!

I also preached in the place of my pastor, Rev. Harvey Clemons, Jr. at 10am @ Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. Pastor Clemons has been a blessing to myself and my family and ministry. For almost 4 years he allowed me to preach his early service fresh out of college. After Christ and my own father, Rev. William L. Pullam, to this day I consider him to be a stellar example of greatness and servanthood; and in helping to shape me as a minister of the gospel and as a pastor.

Tomorrow I have two exams and need to finish my studies but wanted to blog. I will be so glad when I have completed my studies altogether. This semester, along with next semester being my last in this M.Div. program - have been some of the most challenging experiences in my life altogether. I need your prayers to maintain my sanity.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Economy

I have been a little concerned about the recent crisis within our economy. Well, it actually isn't 'recent'; it is just publicized within the media/political sector because of Wall Street, AIG, etc. This recent crisis and reading several months ago that the White House reported not long ago that our nation will reach a record deficit - led me to a question, '....didn't we have a surplus?' I wanted to attain some information regarding the surplus and deficit history within our nation. It took a while, but I found some very interesting information. This is just food for thought. I am just a reporter in this particular blog; I would ask that, as the reader, you would draw your own conclusions.

This is a summary of Deficits (which have a negative symbol), Surplus, and the Year. Note: This represents millions; therefore...-$400,000 would equal a 400 billion dollar deficit.

1975 $-73,732
1976 $-53,659
1977 $-59,185
1978 $-40,726
1979 $-73,830
1980 $-78,968
1981 $-127,977
1982 $-207,802
1983 $-185,367
1984 $-212,308

1985 $-221,227
1986 $-149,730
1987 $-155,178
1988 $-152,639
1989 $-221,036
1990 $-269,238
1991 $-290,321
1992 $-255,051
1993 $-203,186
1994 $-163,952
1995 $-107,431
1996 $-21,884

1997 $69,270
1998 $125,610
1999 $236,241
2000 $128,236
2001 $-157,758
2002 $-377,585
2003 $-412,727
2004 $-318,346
2005 $-248,181
2006 $-162,002
2007 $-410,047
2008 $-407,408


Another interesting point. At the beginning of 2001, our nation had a surplus of $540 Billion. As of now, our DEFICIT stands at $2.659 Trillion (not including the bank bailouts.) Is there a reason this information isn't mentioned more in the media? I guess it's not important. I don't know!

How My Wife and I Spend Our Spare Time...Funny!

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I will not make this long. As a result of the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the lights at our present place of worship are still not on. Interestingly, millions of people in the Houston area are still without light. Of course, this does not mean that we can not worship. We did just that! Those of our members who were in town and got word - worshipped at our home. Many area churches opted not to have worship,,,some really could not, in their own right. I was amazed to see how God demonstrated His power and our people expressed their worship to Him despite the fact that we were gathered in the living room of my wife and I!!! I was amazed. This has confirmed (and I know many use this word quite often) for me that the Lord is leading our congregation back to Pearland at some point in the near future. Our vision has been to reach the people of Pearland, specificially; though we are generally called as any given church to go into 'all the world'. Interestingly, I met with a few of a key leaders at my home about a month ago and began to chart a specific vision; cheif of which we all agreed and stated, 'If the name of our church is 'Cornerstone Baptist Church of Pearland', we need to atleast hold public worship in Pearland.' This is certainly true; and we were certainly fruitful with being in Pearland our first year in 2005-06. We had no idea that night a month ago that Hurricane Ike would blog through. But after two years--even though it took a hurricane--we were back in our target area, PEARLAND--rather than being 20 miles outside of Pearland. I am not saying that Ike came through for our fledgling fellowship; BUT it is amazing to experience the things that the Lord will ALLOW in order to stretch our faith and push us closer to the center of HIS will. God is up to something great, I believe. Well...He's already doing that! Just keep us in your prayers!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

At AWE in His Presence

Here is an interesting thought from Ed Rowell....

A number of years ago, a woman in Kansas City walked into a Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop at the Plaza shopping center. While waiting, she turned to find actor Paul Newman standing behind her! He was in town filming the movie Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, and was now standing behind his biggest fan.

He smiled at her and said "hello." She took one look at those legendary blue eyes and her knees almost buckled. Her heart was in her throat. She tried to speak, but not a sound came out. Mortified, she turned around, paid for her ice cream, then quickly walked out of the store.
Outside, she sat down on a bench and caught her breath. As she calmed down, she realized she didn't have her ice cream cone. She was debating walking back in to get it when Paul Newman walked out. "You looking for your ice cream cone?" he asked. Speechless again, she nodded. "You put it in your purse with your change."

If you or I were to come face to face with a celebrity we admire, I imagine most of us would behave in much the same way. Our generation is infatuated with celebrities. Movie stars, rap stars and athletic superstars dominate the headlines of our magazines and tabloids. We love to read about their lavish lifestyles and ruined relationships. And though basketball star Charles Barkley emphatically stated, "I am not a role model," our children inevitably list media personalities when asked to name their heroes.

I wonder, we who get so excited about meeting a celebrity -- why is it that we can enter into the presence of God with a yawn and a shrug?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

H.B.

Just when I think I've got it, I listen to H.B. Charles, Jr. and realize I have yet so far to go. What a rich exposition of Psalm 119 I've heard tonight!

T.O.

Okay...I am a staunch/die hard Cowboys fan. I used to say that I was a number one fan. But since I have no official autographs, have only been to one game (pre-season game), have no official jerseys - well, lets just say I have to be in the top...1 million?

I am very excited. Though I missed most of the game the other night between the Cowboys and Eagles, I have had the opportunity to see most of it again. All I can say is that I am pumped about this season. With all that I have going on - this is making my year complete! I feel as if I am back in the Aikman, Irvin, E. Smith era. This is great....only these guys MAY be even better. Of course, minus Emmitt. Let's face it - Emmitt is in a class all by himself. But these guys - Romo, J. Jones, Barber...and T.O.!!! Wow!!! Did you see that pass???

There is nothing left to be said. T.O. is more than just media hype, celebrity, etc. He is the BEST that there is when it comes to recievers. He WILL bypass Rice's record, just wait and see.

I don't want to put my foot in my mouth come February - but this is more than likely means Superbowl for us... I am praying for tickets!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

What?

"The basic fundamentals of our economy are STRONG." For the person who made this comment - I am wondering what economy they are living in.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I don't have many notes for Sunday; other than I had my devotion and worshipped the Lord in my own way. For about 1.9 million Houstonians, we were without electricity. We were blessed at the Pullam household to have our lights back on less than 24 hours after Hurricane Ike. Praise God! So...that means we were back up about 11 pm Saturday night. The place where we presently worship is still without electricity. 95% of Houston churches canceled services for today. I am thankful and grateful that all of my family in this area appears to be doing well; and that Cornerstone members are doing well. Prayerfully we will be able to hold service next Sunday, if not Thursday for mid-week.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Disappointment With God?

For the past seven days I have kind of been a recluse, so to speak. I have had, in my view, some major disappointments that have led to questions with God. I know there are many who say that we should never question God. I would almost echo the sentiment of Christ Himself had never uttered the interrogative, 'My God...why have you forsaken me?'. For sure, I am no better than Christ; so yes I have questioned God. For several months I have been praying about some things in my life and ministry; believing that the Lord navigated some of the circumstances - I became optimistic about it all. To say the least - I found myself devastated, frustrated, and completely confused. I found myself saying: 'God...if you are real, I need you to show me'. Response: Nothing. 'God...if this is your will...speak.' Response: Nothing. 'Lord...show me what to do now'. Response: Nothing.

Interestingly, it is not by accident that I have been given an assignment to read through and study the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk, one of the minor prophets with a major message, had a similar struggle. Habakkuk says, 'O Lord...how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, "Violence!" And You will not save.'

The message that reverberates in Habakkuk is the fact that God is faithful and sure-even when life is fickle. I will not deny that this season of my life has challenged my faith; but I am still convinced that the Lord has a wonderful plan; and that He has ordered our steps. I am reminded of the words I once read: Never doubt in the dark what God has taught yon in the light.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Because I belong to Him

Though my schedule has been quite hectic, somehow I've managed to pick up a book off of the shelf and do some additional reading. I have found myself trying to read everything I can these days by Mark Dever, that 'XII Marks' guy. In reading this book - like much of Dever's work - I find great challenge, thought, conviction and instruction. Among the 12 (twelve) challenges - of which Dever references the Corinthian church, he lists 'forgetfulness'.

I am arrested by the striking words that Dever uses when he says: Our sharing in Christ is God's fundamental blessing to Christians.

If I may reference Dever, he says:

Many of us know the famous first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter catechism: "What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." But nearly a century before the Westminster Assembly produced their famous catechism, the German reformer Ursinus produced the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) with an initial question and answer no less worthy of being known:

Question: What is you only comfort in life and in death?

Answer: That I am not my own, but belong-body and soul-in life and in death-to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me whole-heartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Today we had an awesome time in worship at Cornerstone. We had a Children & Youth Day Worship Celebration; and the children and youth both did an outstanding job. They, along with the volunteers and directors are to be commended for their faithful service and stewardship in this effort and day. I praise the Lord for these people; they make it happen! Another treat was the preaching of God's Word. Rev. Johnny L. Goff, Jr., associate minister of Greater Friendship Baptist Church (I preached revival there earlier this month) brought the word. He came out of II Chronicles chapter 20 and he did an OUTSTANDING job of sharing God's word. It was a message that proved to be timely as well as convicting. I thank the Lord for using him in such a powerful way. His study and character were evident as he shared with us today. Johnny is a good brother whom I have met this past year through different people, ministers and friends. The Lord is allowing us to cultivate a great friendship and commodoree as co-laborers in ministry. Little did I know that, not only did he graduate from Willowridge High School here in the Houston area in '95, but he is also a '99 grad of West Point and was the starting quarterback for the Army Team. He is now enrolled in the College of Biblical Studies here in the Houston area and it is difficult to believe that this young man (whose father is a Pastor) has only been preaching since 2005. I look forward to seeing great things in the life of this minister and doing all that I can possibly can to ensure that he, along with other faithful proclaimers of God's Word, continues to grow and expand.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

An Historic Evening

I have just finished watching the final speech of the DNC; I just can't seem to hold back the tears. I spoke with our church tonight; and I wish to express it here. We as the Christian Church are to dissuade ourselves from taking political sides - atleast that is what we are advised to do in the 21st century. OF course, I can show clearly a myriad of scriptures that show Christ actively involved in social justice, political change and activism. But whether Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal, Left or Right, Black or White - we can not deny the fact that there are significant strides that have been made. A black man is nominated for President of the United States and a white woman recieves OVER 18 million votes and ALMOST wins the nomination. IT doesn't matter if you like these people or their policies, history IS history.

On another note, we as Christian should learn to know a 'tree by the fruit it bears'. It is dangerous when we play a game and try to suggest or pre-suppose that one particular church, organization, party, family, race, or anything - is AUTOMATICALLY God's choice. If there is no fruit or evidence of your 'evangelical' stance and position - then your 'moral majority' may not be moral at all. The bottom line is this - I ask each and every person to LISTEN to what each and every candidate is SAYING and ALSO what they have done.

Books

These are my required books for the semester.

Old Testament I
· Lasor, William Sanford, David Allan Hubbard, and Frederic William Bush. Old Testament Survey. 2d. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1977.
· Matthews, Victor H. and Don C. Benjamin. Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1997.
· Merrill, Eugene H. Kingdom of Priests – A History of Old Testament Israel. 9th ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2006.
· Walton, John H. Chronological and Background of the Old Testament. Revised ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1994.


Hebrew Exegetical Method
· Elliger, K., and W. Rudolph, eds. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1997. NOTE: either the small or large print version is acceptable.
· Scott, William R. A Simplified Guide to BHS: Critical Apparatus, Masora, Accents, Unusual Letters & Other Markings. 4th ed. D & F Scott Pub Inc, 2007.
· Brotzman, Ellis R. Old Testament Textual Criticism: A Practical Introduction. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1994.
· Williams, Ronald J. and John C. Beckman. Williams’ Hebrew Syntax. 3rd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.
· Andersen, Francis I. Habakkuk: A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 2001.
· Robertson, O. Palmer. The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990.
· Chisholm, Robert. A Workbook for intermediate Hebrew: Grammar, Exegesis, and commentary on Jonah and Ruth. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publisher, 2006.
· Koehler, L. and W. Baumgarter. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Study Edition. 2 vols. Leiden: Brill, 2001.or;
· Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, 1906; reprint, Hendrickson, 1997.


Baptist Heritage

· George, Timothy and David S. Dockery. Theologians of the Baptist Tradition. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2001. ISBN 0-8054-1772-9. $24.99
· Hammett, John S. Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2005.
· Leroy Fitts. A History of Black Baptists. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1985. ISBN 0-8054-6580-4. $34.99.
· Torbet, Robert. History of the Baptists, 3rd ed. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1973, 2000. ISBN 0-8170-0074-7. $25.00


Systematic Theology
Grenz & Olson, Who Needs Theology?, InterVarsity Press, 1996. Plantinga, Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, Eerdmans, 1995.
Paul Copan & William Lane Craig, Creation Out of Nothing, Baker, 2004.
Thomas Morris, The Logic of God Incarnate, Wipf and Stock, 1986.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hebrew

Because I took 2 semesters off in 2005, I found myself under a new catalogue requirement in the MDiv program. In starting out at SWBTS in 2001, I was required to take 4 semesters of Greek along with 2 semesters of Hebrew.

Fortunately, because I took 4 semesters of Greek at DBU, I only had to take 2 semesters of Greek at SWBTS which I completed. I also completed the 2 semesters of Hebrew back in 2003. I actually made A's in this course. It was so fun because my friends were in this class with me, including Remus & Mia Wright and one of my best friends, Howard Earle, Jr.. Under this new catalogue, I discovered that a new requirement has been ADDED to the MDiv program: HEBREW EXEGETICAL METHOD. This class is designed to teach students how to continue to maintain and utilize their knowledge of the Hebrew language and scripture.

Here is my problem - I have practically forgotten so much in how to read the Hebrew scriptures through. I am completely overwhelmed with this, when considering my other courses, ministry obligations, and family. Please pray for me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A New Semester

This week I've been trying to adjust into the rigors of a new semester in seminary. I both love and abhor seminary life. There is absolutely nothing like it - I can not decipher or determine if that is good or bad. Some have re-named it 'semitary'!!! Fortunately, I am in my next to last semester before officially crossing the state in cap and gown. This semester I am taking 14 hours which, for me, is a full load:

Old Testament II (3 hours)
Hebrew Exegetical Method (3 hours)
Baptist Heritage (3 hours)
Systematic Theology I (3 hours)
Spiritual Formation (1)
Applied Ministry - Mentoring (1)

It has often been said that Southwestern Seminary is the 'best seminary in the world'. I think that that statement is a matter of opinion, though it is the largest seminary in the world. The seminary has produced the likes of Joel Gregory, Ralph D. West, E.K. Bailey, Frederick Haynes - to name a few.

I started at Southwestern in the fall of 2001 after graduating from Dallas Baptist. Due to full-time ministry after college, marriage, children, 'pay as you go', starting a new ministry, etc. - it is 7 years later and I am still going. Add to this, Southwestern has a very rigorous program. It is my understanding that many Masters program require 60 or 70 hours, while SWBTS requires 91. Though I could have finished this program in 2004-2005, I am thankful to have attended such a prestigious school. Whether or not I continue my doctoral work there, the experience has impacted my life and ministry. I shall never be the same as a result.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Go Kai...Kinder!!!


Kai Livingston is my wife and I's oldest son. Today I took him to Kinder!!! His teacher's name is Mrs. Payton. And he attends Carelston Elementary here in Pearland. I shall never forget when I first met him March 31, 2003. I love this boy to death; and praise the Lord each day for his health and strength. He is a daddy's boy, for sure. And, of course, his brother is coming around! He reminds me a lot of his mother in so many ways.

Today was kind of hard for me. I am experiencing a lot of milestones...turning 30 y/o, celebrating 8 years of marriage, my first nephew going off to college, etc. I will not say that I cried, but I did have to go to the designated 'Cry Room', so please go figure! Congratulations son, I am SO proud of you. Be a good boy; and always know that we love you and believe in you. Remember that God is faithful; and honor him in all of your way - He will order your steps and direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6). I love you! -Daddy









Saturday, August 23, 2008

Go Cowboys!

I must admit that I am a staunch/die hard Dallas Cowboys fan to the core! Eventually, I will have to indoctrinate myself into the culture of the Houston Texas - being I now live in the Houston area and have so lived here for over 7 years now. I was eating dinner with my family yesterday afternoon in Irving when we noticed many people sporting Cowboy jersey's. My wife attempted, non-stop, to convice me that we should go. I had no problem with going; but paying for it was my problem. I just knew the tickets, though still in pre-season, would not be 5 or 10 dollars. We left there and we sort of gravitated to the Texas Stadium. Before we knew it we had our tickets and we were excited about the game, sort of. They just so happened to be playing the Houston Texans. I must say that we were there. This is my first time being to a professional football game; and I am grateful to have now had the experience.

I did learn a few things, however:
1. It's not all it's cracked up to be (It was very hot (no A/C); we had to walk A LOT. When I say a lot, I mean MORE than Disney; people on your row keep coming and going, so you really aren't watching the game) Interestingly, we were close, but you still get a better view of the game on television in your living room.)

2. Men ARE committed. I have read book after book that has said that there are several reasons why men either hate church or do not attend.

....Men aren't committed (They were committed amid the above mentioned things).....Men don't like to spend money in the offering (The prices at the games are outrageous. I saw enough beer to overwhelm Amy Winehouse)

I will not say that I didn't enjoy the experience. I also will not say that I won't be back - I'll take free tickets any day out of the week. But I WILL say - that was money not well spent...PERIOD!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Las Colinas

On our way home from Oklahoma City, my wife and I decided to take a few days and spend time with our boys before heading back to Houston. We decided to spend some time in Las Calinas (next to Irving, between Dallas and Fort Worth). We are here at the Omni Hotel and, man, what a place! We are now all in our swimming trunks and, though I'm not much of a swimmer, this is all for the family! This will really give me the opportunity to take my mind and heart off of other things and just enjoy spending time with my peeps. We are contemplating what we will do tomorrow. For now the agenda is open and we will head home Saturday. I am not even preaching Sunday; one of our associate ministers will preach this Sunday morning. Of course, this is not all play. Tomorrow I have to go to the seminary in Fort Worth (main campus) in the morning to handle some business and register. I don't want any problems come May 2009, so these last two semesters will be very 'hands on' for me.

Fairview 3

On the last night of revival at Fairview (last night) I shared from John chapter 11, the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. More specifically, I dealt with the story from the vantage point of Christ's glory being revealed in all things, which centers around chapter 11 verse 4. The Lord used the message and He allowed me to minimize my need for the manuscript, though I did use a general summary of the entire message and took it with me to the pulpit. It is my prayer that the people of Fairview were both enlightened and encouraged in their walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is also my earnest prayer that God was pleased with my availability to be used by Him this week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pastor John A. Reed, Jr.

I wanted to add a word to my blog, aside from Fairview - though they are inter-related. It is about Pastor (Dr./Pop) John A. Reed, Jr. I am always amazed and honored to be in this man's presence. Whenever I am around him, I sense I am in the presence of greatness! If you have EVER had the opportunity to meet this great man, then you know what I mean. Here is a man who has a natural gift for leadership; though I often say that leaders aren't born, they are made. This is the rare exception-he breathes leadership. I have know 'Pop' Reed now for 9 years; and to even see him interact with the members of his congregation, in and of itself, is a spiritual experience. He is truly a 'Preacher's Preacher'. Not only this, but he is a "Pastor's Pastor". It is interesting - I ended up at Fairview and meeting Pastor Reed by 'accident'. The guest revivalist for his youth week could not make it at the last minute. Pop Reed remembered his friend (Dr. R.L. Sanders from Fort Worth) mentioning my name in passing; Dr. Reed, in some way, got a hold of my number the day before the youth day began; the next thing I know, my new wife and I were headed to a place, and state, we had never been-Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Since then, we have grown to love this man and his family. I praise and will forever be indebted to this venerable sage of a Pastor/Preach, Pop Reed.

Reflections in Proverbs 20

In reading my morning devotion in Proverbs 20, several key verses arrested my attention.

Vss. 4 thru 7 reveal, "The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing. Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out. Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, But who can find a faithful man? The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him".

These verses are, in my view, a powerful exposition and explanation of a man who is faithful, righteous, and prudent in all of his ways.

There seems to be a theme that runs throughout the entire 20th chapter of Proverbs: Perseverance, endurance.

Verse 21 says, "An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning will not be blessed at the end".

Verse 22 says, "...wait for the Lord, and He will save you."

So often we can become discouraged, whether life or ministry, when we are forced to wait. Sowing and waiting can be difficult to say the least. There are times that the Lord will do us as He did Job - forced to wait without any further information. Often we may see others in life and ministry who appear to make it with such ease and rapidity.

If we remain faithful, prayerful, diligent, and people of integrity - HE will reward our labor. If not on THIS side, in the eternal life that awaits us where we will spend eternity with our Savior.

Of course, I am convinced that the Lord is and has raised up people of integrity - who have not bowed to baal nor surrendered their lives or ministries to the status quo. May the Lord help us as we sow diligently in the harvest - during this time of tricks, gimmicks, ministerial hustlers and suspect credentials. As Pastor Rhone always says, let us continue to, "PREACH THE WORD!!!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fairview, 3

Just wanted to write a quick note and thank all of the persons who sent in your comments on 'Fairview, Part 2' blog. Your words of wisdom and insight really helped me tonight. Tonight the Lord led me to share a story out of Mark chapter 5 regarding the incident where Jesus has a 'chance' encounter with a synagogue leader by the name of Jairus. Many of you are familiar with the story; my focus revolved around the area of listening to the testimony of another; and listening to the Lord's working our similar circumstances. Jairus had a twelve year old daughter; but the interesting thing about the entire story - is that when Jesus heals the anonymous woman who had a 12 year old problem, Jesus interrupts his journey with Jairus to search for this woman and gives her the opportunity to share her story. My entire theme revolved around the fact that - Jesus does not stop for the woman; interestingly, Jesus stops for Jairus!

There are very valuable nuggets tucked away in that familiar story. The 3 words or points I sought to press and illustrate were:
I. Chance: Jesus uses our listening as an opportunity to transform chance into belief. (v22-34)
II. Choice: Jessus gives you the option; but he needs you to make the right choice. (v35-39)
III. Charge: Jesus gives you the opportunity to listen that you will ultimately take charge. (v40)

I used my notes loosely tonight. Most of the message I committed to memory.

Tomorrow night I think I am headed in the direction of John chapter 11 that involves the story of Lazarus.

I am praying and striving tomorrow that I will have enough confidence and boldness and clarity to leave my manuscript in the room or alteast with my wife. Please pray for me.

This is a personal goal for me; and I think it will ultimataly work best for me. Let's just say that tonight at Fairview, I could see the progression if no one else did. Interestingly - D'Ani noticed!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Farview, Part 2

The Lord allowed me the ability to make it through tonight's message. Tonight I shared again from Mark chapter 6 regarding the Miracle of feeding the 5,000 men, in addition to the women and children, from the subject, 'Use What You Have'. The Lord spoke this evening; but one thing has grown apparent to me--something I have no desire to admit or even confess. It is also a struggle for me altogether. I can no longer take a manuscript with me into the pulpit. I should say - there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with a preacher using a manuscript in the pulpit. I have done it for 15 years for the most part. In actuality, I have done both. I have always been diligent in typing and documenting my messages. My sermons run anywhere from seven to 9 pages. Most recently - they have even gotten up to 11 pages or so.

Most recently - particularly the past 2 years or so - I have just simply found myself doing more of what Spurgeon called, 'Impromptu speech'. That is, my experiences and studies have given me insights that the Spirit brings to my remembrance 'on the spot'.

Here is what I am finding. My introduction and background, etc. captures me and it flows together - but I notice that I may only be on my 3rd or 4th page - 30 minutes into the message - and HAVE NOT even gotten to my points.

SO...when I realize that my time has been far spent--I find myself shuffling, trying to wrap 7 extra pages into 10 minutes. AND...for me...that is frustrating.

My issue is this. I carry my manuscript with me to the pulpit--because I believe ALL of the information I have written down is VERY important and I dont want to leave anything out because of my 'forgettory'. However, when I end do what I mentioned above - all of the information goes uncommunicated anyway. Footnote: I rarely have this problem at home. Manuscripts work well for me at home; and if I go for an extended period of time, I just continue it for the next week.

I should say that--in my own view--the Lord still blesses the message. But, like any minister of the gospel--when we sit down--we catch something that we left out, know we could have done better, etc.

I see some of the guys--including some of my blog friends here--one of whom I have caught on youtube.com, who are able to retain their thoughts with what seems to be great ease and flow.

If any have suggestions, I will welcome them here. I would also like to know what works for you.

Lovingly Serving God's People

Unable to sleep in my hotel room, I have found myself reflecting upon the awesome privilege that the Lord has allowed me to be a partaker of. Some have noted that it is the greatest job on the planet. Of course, others have labeled it the most difficult. At any rate, I love it! It is Pastoral Leadership! We are called to sheppard God's sheep. In serving in the role of the pastorate for over 8 years now, I have grown to understand what some of the older Pastors would always seek to convey. Growing up in the home of a Pastor and wife, being a 5th generation preacher/pastor, and a family full of preachers - I would always hear something that the older preaching men would always say and I never gave much thought...'Son/young man/Kraig...we must LOVE the people'.

Admittedly...I DID NOT understand. Kind of always the same sentiment in my head, 'okay...do you have to keep saying this' or '...I already know this...we're supposed to love everyone, blah, blah'.

Little did I know that the Lord used those great men to facilitate powerful lessons of inspiration and insight that I would need during my times of testing and preparation.

Since then, I have discovered that those words are probably the third STRONGEST phrases ("love the people") for the Christian preacher. Let me just give my own synopsis:

Most important phrase for the Christian preacher/pastor: JESUS SAVES!
Second most important phrase for the Christian preacher/pastor: PREACH THE WORD!
Third.....: LOVE THE PEOPLE!

I consider myself to be an aspiring theologian, though I know I am not there. However, the Lord has taught me - people don't care how much I know, until they know how much I care.

In sitting here at this desk and in writing, I have discovered that one of the greatest gifts that the Lord gives a preacher/pastor is....A PASTOR'S HEART!

I love God's people! I really do. I don't know that I could have always said that. They are SO precious in God's sight. I didn't understand the words, 'Love the people' THEN...but after being talked about, criticized, ostracized, the center of gossip and slander; being misunderstood, etc. - on a daily basis...I must remind myself that THOSE SHEEP ARE GOD'S PEOPLE; and that as I am the Lord's sheep...he has called ME, of all people, to lead HIS sheep into pleasant pastures. What an AWESOME assignment. I am just in awe...as was Paul in First Timothy chapter 1....WOW...He called ME!!!! God's Grace is SO amazing.

Thank You Lord for giving us a love for your precious people.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fairview B.C., Part 1

I must admit that the Lord redeemed this day from the the horrible day I had yesterday! I woke up at about 8:00am this morning. You must understand, coming out of college, I was immediately thrust into a Pastoral position in 2001 that allowed me the blessed privilege of preaching every week at a 7:30 am service, at a church (Pleasant Hill) that was about 30 minutes from where we lived. I did that for four years each and every Sunday; for the past 4 years, I have been preaching out 8:15 am service. Make a long story short, it is very strange for my wife and I to wake up at a time we are usually entering into public worship.

Today was an awesome day. I look back over the years and realize that we have been with the Fairview family for 9 years for this revival. For nine years I have been sharing with the Fairview family on the 3rd Sunday in August and following with 3 nights of revival. Each and every year I am blown away by the love they share and express toward myself and family. Additionally, I often say that I may have to quit - for it seems apparant that Pastor Reed and Fairview may not be firing me anytime soon. They say that it is better to be asked up than to be asked down - I KNOW there are very gifted and capable ministers who have the ability and gift to speak to youth and young persons around our nation and world. I love them so much and I won't be walking away - SO...we'll just see what the Lord does!!!

Today I was actually led to deal with Mark 6 once again and used the subject 'Handling Life's Storms'. It isn't one of what I would consider to be my 'STICKS'; however, it is what the Lord would have me to share; and I suppose He, in His all wise providence, led me to share from this story because I am dealing with my own personal storms and tests. My voice has been acting strange lately; but the Lord allowed me to make it through the message. I did lose my voice toward the end of the message; and I really have a tendency to lose my trend of thought when concentrating on my allergies and my voice. To see how God works is amazing. I had in my mind to preach something entirely different - period. BUT the Lord kept pressuring me 'You need to share from Mark 6.' I did just that; and midway through it just seemed as if I wasn't getting the kind of 'response' I thought the message provoked. OF course, I have learned over the past several months not to even pressure the hearers to get with me. I fought the urge and just...preached. I shared from the Word; dealt with the story; incidentally, my notes were out of order (one of my sons!!! All I can say); the Lord just took that message beyond myself; stories and illustrations just flowed and it was beyond me. The Spirit just moved; and it was clear that I was no longer the PREACHER (Atleast that is what I gather now; at the time, I just didn't think it went well).

At the end of the entire message, I sat down...kind of in disappointment that my voice wouldn't let me 'close' and 'pull it' the way I would have liked; and in stunned disbelief that the message, in my view, was in complete chaos, dissaray, and out of order. But I continued with the usual closing of my eyes and thanking the Lord for using me. Only then did I notice that about 15 people had come to the altar - and for about 20 or so minutes they shared from their own experiences of going through 'storms' along with many more who came and shared, 'That message was for ME". To top it off, Pastor Reed shared how two or three weeks earlier...he shared with the congregation on the subject of dealing with our storms.

My point it this: I am learning more and more...this is NOT about me, thought it includes me. The Lord will never cease to amaze me. NEVER!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Safe Arrival

I have made it safely to Oklahoma City where I will be preaching tomorrow at the Fairview Baptist Church. I have had a horrible day. Of course, every day is a good day when you know the Lord. This has been a day of not getting up and on the road when expected, loss of items needed for travel, etc. I could go on and on. Fortunately, I am still here! That is enough alone to be thankful, grateful and appreciative. I am looking forward to preaching tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Another Great Read...

One of my professors at the Seminary and one of my favorite preachers so happens to be John R. Bisagno. I have written about him before in some previous blog - he is a gifted preacher and seasoned pastor in his own right. Bisagno has spent nearly fifty years in ministry, pastoring for 35 years. He retired from the First Baptist Church here in Houston, and he continues his preaching itinerary both in the United States and abroad. He is an adjunct professor at the seminary I attend, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
This past week I have taken time out of my schedule to re-read his 'Letters to Timothy' yet again. This book is best known as Bisagno's retirement gift to Pastors and Ministerial Leaders. To quote, it is '....a voluminous and comprehensive work, it is full of useful advice to ministers covering the “things that might have fallen through the cracks in seminary.” This book is a practical manual covering all aspects of pastoral life for clergy in churches of all sizes, locations, and denominations.'

I have been helped and enriched in Pastoral ministry each and every time I have picked up this book and read this sage's words of wisdom and insight. I one day look forward to fellowshipping with this amazing preacher and expressing to him the enormous impact he has had upon my life and ministry. Of course, he is one of many. But certainly, he is one!

Anything Strange this Friday Morning?

As always, I check the news through my sbcglobal.com account in the morning, if I have the time. I couldn't help but notice a headline that arrested and captured my attention:

Bush to Russia: Stop 'bullying'.
This is food for thought...just THINK about it; maybe we'll come to the same conclusion(s).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy 30th Birthday!

Okay. I don't like birthday attention. But I can't seem to escape someone asking me today why I haven't posted a blog regarding to big 3.0. Well, I was born August 14, 1978. This means that today I celebrate 30 years (3 decades) of life!!! I praise God for this day; and the blessed privilege of celebrating one more year of life. This is a definite blessing; and I praise Him. I pray for many more years to come.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Question...

I have a concern that I want to address. Some of the names, situations, scenarios, etc. have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty. Nonetheless, the principle is pretty much the same. This one really bothers me.

There is a preacher/pastor that I know here in the area who--believe it or not--is a VERY gifted preacher, though many may have never even heard of him before. If you haven't, you WILL. He is a solid preacher who not only is one of the BEST expositors I know but can even 'pull it' if led in that direction. Quite often, this Pastor has been offered to serve pastorates in congregations both large and small. Interestingly, he always remained faithful to his present flock. Parenthetically, I KNOW this congregation very well, and have known many in this congregation to really give this leader and previous leaders a very hard time. About 8 or so months ago, my Pastor friend was extended and ACCEPTED the call to Pastor another congregation in a suburb of Houston. Incidentally, the new congregation is MUCH larger than the congregation he served for almost 12 years. When this pastor accepted the call and announced this to his congregation, regrettably the news was NOT taken well at all. He has received death threats (can you imagine?), public and private attacks against his family and children and accused of being an 'opportunist' who 'jumped at a better chance' and just walking away from them and 'abandoning' them without any forewarning, etc. Being good friends with this Pastor; I 'know' he loves his old congregation. And though he has now made the transition to the new congregation, and though he knows that he has followed God's lead and direction; it has and is still hurting him that the people he has loved, pastored and cherished for almost 12 years, has vilified he and his family and continues to accuse him of 'going to the highest bidder' when nothing, in his view, could be further from the truth. He has even contemplated stepping down from his new pastorate, in that it has negatively affected his transition and new church family.

I know I asked a question last week. But I want to ask another - how would you either handle this situation if you were this pastor; OR what advice would you give this Pastor if you had the opportunity to counsel and/or minister to him? I am very curious to know what your thoughts and advice would be to this pastor. Thanks.!