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Posted on: 12/30/05:

Battle Stations Part 5

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
A number of years ago several houses in a Philadelphia neighborhood experienced a problem. It seems they were actually sinking. After the usual investigation by the city it was determined that these particular homes weren’t built on solid foundation. Over the years they began to sink and would soon have to be vacated. Those houses highlighted the necessity of a strong, solid foundation. For no matter how nice it looks and no matter how well it’s maintained a house built on a faulty foundation will never be able to fulfill its primary purpose.

Sinking House

So with houses, so with theology. No matter how attractive a church building or church movement on the outside and no matter how appealing it is to our inward emotional and psychological yearnings a church or movement built on a faulty foundation will never fulfill its primary purpose. That’s not to say that individual churches and movements will sport a great deal of activity, draw a great deal of attention and enjoy the loyalty of a great many people. However, as Biblically driven believers our adherence to and promotion of a sound witness must be motivated by a desire to glorify God. That is our witness must highlight, emphasize and broadcast His significance, power, righteousness, justice, holiness, sovereignty, love, grace, goodness, salvation and Son, Jesus Christ.

Our last article, ‘Battle Stations Part 4’ introduced some of the basics of the foundations of our theology. Reformed theology leads with proposition that all that we believe and practice is found in and based on Scripture alone. Scripture alone teaches that our great salvation has been secured by Christ alone, given to us by grace alone, obtained through faith alone and that this salvation and all of life is to and for God’s glory alone.

The next brick in the foundation of our theology continues our exploration into how God saves His people to the praise of His glory. We preach, promote and live this theology because it highlights the depths of the riches and wisdom of God. This theology is the story of our salvation. And that story begins with God’s sovereign election of a people for Himself. The Scripture teaches and thus we believe and promote that our salvation begins before the creation of the world when (yes I know I’m using a word connected with time to speak of something that happened outside of time) God choose us to be holy and blameless in His presence. God wasn’t motivated to choose His people by anything He saw in us or knew we would do, but only by His good pleasure. Eph. 1:4-6.

That’s not fair you say? Shouldn’t God give me a fair chance to make my own decision? He knows my heart doesn’t he? Exactly! And that’s your biggest problem, your own sinful, obstinate heart. The Scriptures teach that people are radically depraved. That doesn’t mean that people are as bad as we could be, only that when it comes to spiritual issues we are dead in our sins. We are by nature unresponsive, unwilling and unable to positively respond to the gospel. The Biblical theology of salvation teaches that mankind is not basically good or neutral when it comes to responding to the gospel. To put it another way if God left our salvation up to our own choice we’d have as much chance of being saved as Lazarus had at raising himself from the dead! Eph. 2:1-10.

The immortal, invisible only wise God was wise enough not to leave our eternal salvation in our own hands. Jesus Christ accomplished the redemption of all those God had chosen by dying on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty of their sins. Let me restate this for the sake of clarity. When our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross He actually took away the sins of all God’s people. His death didn’t potentially take away the sins of every single person in the world, rather His death actually paid for the sins of all those God had chosen. To look at it another way the death of Christ on Calvary was the exact fulfillment of the ministry of Israel’s high priest on the Day of Atonement. On that day the high priest atoned for all the sins of God’s people. There are two important differences between Jesus Christ and the ministry of the high priest. Firstly, the ministry of the high priest was incomplete since the blood of animals could never actually take away the sins of people. Secondly, it only covered the people of a single ethnic group. The sacrifice of Jesus however was made with His own precious blood. It was therefore a sacrifice that could actually take away the sins of all who believe once and for all. Thus, there is no more need for any more sacrifices or a temple to make sacrifices in. Secondly, the sacrifice of our Lord extends to people from all ethnic groups. It is in this way that Jesus’ death paid for the sins of the world. Eph. 1:7-8.

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Posted on: 12/28/05:

Battle Stations Part 4

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
'The battle for Helm's Deep is over; the battle for Middle Earth has just begun'.

The Two Towers
Thus said Gandalf in the film version of 'The Two Towers' right after the battle of Helm's Deep when the forces of evil tried to overwhelm and destroy the kingdom of Rohan. In my humble opinion 'The Two Towers' in general and the battle of Helm's Deep in particular are among my favorite film watching experiences. The Two Towers further solidified my belief that sci-fi/fantasy sequel's can be better than the first installment of a series and pretty good movies in their own right (compare Star Trek II The Wrath of Kahn, The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Terminator II Judgment Day, Star Trek VIII First Contact (second of the TNG trek movies) and even Spiderman 2. Yes, yes, forget Star Wars attack of the drones, and Matrix re-whatever, you get my point).

In my first few posts I've stated my conviction that the battle for the witness of the Black church has indeed begun. (I recognize that many would wish not to speak of a 'Black' church as opposed to the Christian church in general, but that isn't the focus of my discussions at this point). Within the next 5 to 15 years the average African-American community will feature a dominant theology that is completely different from the type of traditional Black church theology we're accustomed to. I am hopeful that God will use those who comprise the small but growing African-American Reformed movement to supply that theology.

The strategy I suggested for engaging our people for God’s glory and Christ’s supremacy is to begin systematically planting Biblically driven churches in our communities. These churches will feature Biblically driven, Reformed theology, Biblically driven doxology, Biblically driven ecclesiology, Biblically driven sociology and Biblically driven missiology. My last article, ‘Battle Stations Part 3’ spelled out six reasons to pursue a course of Biblically driven Reformed theology, thus this one will detail what that theology is. I suppose many of us are already familiar with the major tenets of Reformed theology, but for those who aren’t and in an attempt to draw our community into a theologically based working unity allow me to repeat the wisdom of the saints of old.

We’ll begin with the ‘five solas’: Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, To God Be the Glory Alone. These were the substantive issues that framed the Reformation and pitted the theology of the reformers against the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. It is my view that these are still the salient theological issues of our time and the ones that will contrast our theology and the churches born of that theology with the new theological liberalism of the Black church. Moreover, these great theological themes along with the doctrines of grace must be the theology that forms the basis of our unity with other African-American Reformed believers whether they are Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran or Pentecostal/Charismatic.

Consequently we must meet the enemy at the point of attack by stating and reasserting the solas as the foundation of our theology. Functionally, we must plant churches that stress that Scripture and Scripture alone forms the basis of our thought, belief and practice. Scripture, not our impression or supposed visions, dreams or new revelations dictate what we believe and how we practice our beliefs. Standing on Scripture alone will mean that we reject any notion that God is communicating any kind of new, authoritative truth that is in any way binding on His people. We are not called to get a ‘new word’ from God, but to be faithful to the word already given in Scripture. New, Biblically driven Reformed churches will stress our conviction of Scripture alone by having pastors who faithfully preach through Scripture in a systematic, expository manner. They will allow the themes and form of a particular passage determine of the theme and form of their sermons. Additionally, they will focus on preaching through books of the Bible, which will give them ample opportunity to highlight God’s character and nature even as they emphasize the centrality of the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

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Posted on: 12/26/05:

Battle Stations Part 3

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
Battleship
My last blog detailed the clear and present danger neo-liberal Black theology that threatens the church. I believe this theological rebellion is part of a socio/cultural/religious perfect storm that is working to create a spiritual vacuum in the African-American community.

This socio/cultural/religious perfect storm consisting of the aging of the traditional Black church, continued oppression and marginalization of the poor and powerless in the Black community and neo-Black liberalism will introduce a spiritual vacuum in the African-American community that may be filled by groups like the Nation of Islam. The Black church having abandoned the substantive, true and relevant theology found in Scripture will not be in the position nor have the inclination to combat the flood of young African-Americans into the arms of Islam.

Yet, like the saints of old we are neither without hope nor help. For our sovereign God and king remains on the throne, directing the affairs of His church and creation, and saving His people through the new birth by the Spirit and belief in His eternal, sinless Son Jesus Christ. He loves Blacks folks more than we could ever imagine and is even now at work in our lives and communities. Reformed believers however know that God exercises His sovereign will through His people. Even a casual glance at Scripture discloses this truth. Consequently, we can be confident of two things. One, God will effectively meet and deal with this challenge to His Person, word, worship, agenda, salvation and Son. Two, God will use His people as His instruments to accomplish His will.

In 'A Call To Action' I encouraged the African-American Reformed community to consider engaging our communities in biblical evangelism by planting small, biblically driven, neighborhood churches. These churches will feature the following characteristics: 1) Biblically driven theology 2) Biblically driven doxology 3) Biblically driven ecclesiology 4) Biblically driven sociology 5) Biblically driven missiology.
Our pursuit of God's glory and Christ's supremacy in the witness to our people rightly begins with our embracement and promotion of authentic, Biblical, Reformed theology. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, we cannot have a gospel driven, God honoring, Christ focused witness if that witness is tainted with unbiblical, humanistic theology. We must agree with many of our other Reformed brothers who stress the importance of getting the gospel right as well as getting it out.

Secondly, true Biblical theology glorifies God because it puts His character, nature, ways and salvific actions centered in Jesus Christ at the center of our thinking about Him.

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Posted on: 12/22/05:

Battle Stations Part 2

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
Battleship
A clear and present danger threatens of the viability of an authentic biblical witness within the African-American community. Battle Stations Part 1 highlighted how word of faith theology is replacing authentic biblical theology in our community with potentially disastrous consequences. My first article in this series entitled, 'A Call To Action'. dealt with how in the near future the dominant religion in the Black community may take the form of various shades of Islam. Thus, your typical city with a majority or near majority African-American population that is now home to hundreds of small (and dying) neighborhood churches will feature hundreds of small (and possibly thriving) mosques. Each city will have three to five mega-churches on the edges or near suburbs of those cities.

What I did not mention is that these churches will not be Christian in the historic sense of the word. They will employ and promote a new kind of Black liberal theology. Like all past liberal theologies the neo-Black liberalism is people centered. Its focus is on how it helps and equips Black people to realize our potential and enjoy our best life now. This is in contrast to true Biblical theology which places God and His glory at its center and focuses on how His people respond to His Person and saving activity through Christ in our worship of Him, walk before Him and witness of Him within the social historical context He’s placed us in.

Like past liberal theologies the neo-Black liberalism legitimizes the subjective experience of man as the rule, guide and authority in interpreting Scripture. Thus, in the not too distant future (if not already) historic evangelical doctrines such as the inspiration of Scripture, deity of Christ, the resurrection and the very nature of salvation will be openly questioned and redefined to suit the temporal needs and material lusts of the new, Black liberal believer.

Like past liberal theologies the neo-Black liberalism views the sole value of theology, Scripture and God Himself in its usefulness. The test is ‘does this work, not is this true. With the core value of pragmatism firmly in place the door has been thrown open to any notion or idea that facilitates my private happiness, wealth, comfort and convenience.

Sadly, unlike past liberal theologies the neo-Black liberalism has already caught on and is quickly becoming the dominant expression of Christianity in the Black community. Consequently, we may experience a situation in which the development, promotion and embracing of neo-Black liberalism will actually open the door for Islam to remove the neighborhood church from its historic position in the African-American community. Say what! Think through these things for a moment or two. As neo-Black liberalism becomes more and more prominent the exodus of Black folks from traditional neighborhood churches will place those churches in a precarious position. Simply put either change or die. Brother X has already written of the phenomena of mega-personalities flying to New York to hold meetings there in his blog, ‘Frequent-flier Megachurch Pastors in NY’. We are rapidly approaching the time when the majority of Black folks will ‘worship’ in a mega-church setting, led by a personality who has made up his own brand of religion and labeled it Christianity. This is occurring at the same time that many neighborhood churches are in the process of seeing their long time core members go home to be with their Lord. Brothers and sisters a socio/cultural/religious perfect storm has struck the black church. Lord willing over the next few weeks I hope to share my thoughts on how to engage this storm and of course welcome your input.

Lance Lewis
Posted on: 12/22/05:

Battle Stations Part 1

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
Battlestation
I have a confession to make. I’m a trekkie. I got hooked watching the re-runs with my father in the early 70’s and was absolutely riveted to ST TNG during the late 80’s with Jean-Luc and the crew.

The trekkies among us (and you know you’re out there) will recall various episodes that featured a fairly frightening theme. The gist of the plot was that some alien entity somehow infected, took control of and then began to systematically re-program the Enterprise’s main computer. It began with small glitches (for example Jean-Luc would order his customary ‘tea, Earl Grey, hot!’ but the replicator would produce a vase of flowers). For the non-trekkies among us (how anyone could actually be a non-trekkie is beyond me, but I digress) hang with me, there really is a point to all this. Soon after the ship was in chaos, the crew in a panic (except for Jean-Luc and Data of course) and right on cue a Romulan War Bird would de-cloak off the starboard bow. Our heroes found themselves somewhere in deep space, grappling with a schizophrenic ship and menacing enemy. However, in short order they would once again extricate themselves out of this latest delicate dilemma. Jean-Luc would convince the Romulan commander that he really had better things to do than to blast the Enterprise to smithereens. Data and Geordi would finally fix the computer and Riker and Worf would well… stand around and look mean.

The plot centered on a society’s reliance on technology. It’s a theme picked up by sci-fi movies like The Terminator and The Matrix (refried, retried and retired). In short, humanity could face catastrophic consequences should our technology ever gain sentience, decide we’re the enemy and then proceed to blast us to kingdom come. In the world of sci-fi technology is life. If it’s working properly everybody’s happy. If it goes loopy, watch out!

Dear ones we have a similar and potentially catastrophic situation within the Black community. The problem isn’t with our technology (your tivo is fine), but our theology. Over the last several years the unofficial, but recognized leaders of the Black church have been in the process of redefining all of the classic themes of biblical theology. Like the alien entities that hijacked the Enterprise’s computer, they have hijacked Christian theology and poured new, deviant and eventually destructive meanings into the historic Biblical doctrines of the Scriptures, the nature of God, mankind, sin, salvation, the church and Jesus Christ. Those who’ve introduced and now promote these cunning perversions are dangerous on many levels two of which I’ll mention now. Firstly, like other cults such as Mormons and JW’s they employ Scriptural language and terms but redefine those terms to suit their own means. Secondly, and more insidious is that these men and women are already accepted as orthodox evangelicals. Though we're aware of the threat, I don't know if we understand how grave it is. In the second part of this article I'll spell out the threat and will chime in from time to time with steps we can take to engage it and by the grace and power of God right our people's theological ship.

To be continued...

Lance Lewis
Posted on: 12/21/05:

Are you like an Abused Woman?

Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Angry Couple
I must admit this post will probably reveal how naive and slow I am when it comes to certain things, but oh well...aren't we all in some area? Not to mention, I am definitely out of my element here, but can I expand my horizons a little?

Continuing my series on anger: I used to wonder why women that were in abusive relationship tended to shy away from the reality of it or even discussing it. My thoughts before were that she did not want to see or believe it because she thought she was deeply in love, which was a form of denying the reality and wanting to live in another reality. Although, that may still be true, another basic connection in this area was made for me when Prof. Ed Welch, Professor of Practical Theology and Counseling at Westminster Theology Seminary said, “Since an abusive relationship is hard for a woman, then it will be hard for her talk about it. So assume that she will tend to downplay the situation.” I normally thought she tended to downplay the situation because she did not want to come to terms with the reality that she does not need to be in this relationship and hence, she will not be able to be with this guy anymore, although she may still want to for different reasons. Now of course, this may be the case too, but the fact of the matter is that all of this is still hard to do. Duh! (How did I miss that?) I do the same thing myself. I know in my own life I rather avoid or downplay my past because it is jacked up and hard for me to talk about. What’s really amazing is, although, my situation and life is very much different from an abused woman, in other ways, our life is very much alike: two sinners responding to two different difficult situations in the same way. Ah…the commonality of our struggles, as sinners, even in different aspects of life. And what is also glorious is that not only are our struggles the same, but our redemption is as well. Therefore, I can see my struggles in her and my hope, which is God’s transforming power of the gospel at work in both of our lives. If He will not abandon one of us, he will abandon none of us.
Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Morgan Freeman
We have another actor speaking up again…why? Just because they play "smart people" roles that makes them scholars now? I think I might take up some acting classes if I can get a gig saying anything I am want with a captive audience and microphone always around.

At any rate, here is what Morgan Freeman had to say before I make my comments:
"You're going to relegate my history to a month?" the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes." "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."

Black History Month has roots in historian Carter G. Woodson's Negro History Week, which he designated in 1926 as the second week in February to mark the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Woodson said he hoped the week could one day be eliminated — when black history would become fundamental to American history.

Freeman notes there is no "white history month," and says the only way to get rid of racism is to "stop talking about it."

The actor says he believes the labels "black" and "white" are an obstacle to beating racism.

"I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man," Freeman says. Source
Well there you have it. Good ole Morgan has done away with black history month. This is not to say that I am pro-black history month, but that is another issue altogether. I’ll talk about this probably around black history month, although, I will tell a little bit now.

Two questions for Morg: I wonder when Morgan was growing up…let’s say when he was 13 years old in the year of 1950 (1) was Americans being taught anything about Blacks contribution in “American history?” (2) I also wonder how far does Morgan think America and its educational system have progressed it that area?

What is American history anyway? Well, I do know this much what we have now and had in Freeman’s formative years was predominately Anglo’s writing about their own perspectives, interests, and experiences, which usually came at the expense of Blacks.

And Freeman saying that the only way to get rid of racism is to stop talking about it is probably one of the most craziest things I’ve ever heard. That is just like saying that only way to get rid of world hunger is to not deal with it.

As far as labels go, I think more than just a “black” and “white” label is an obstacle to beating racism. Talk about simplistic! I hope I don’t have to explain why that is non-sense.

Nevertheless, good ole Morg didn’t stop there. He also said, "I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man."

So who are you Morg, if you don't want to be called a "black man?" Are you an alien or something? All this implies that there is no difference between black folks and white folks and that we all are the same (and I am mainly speaking of culture here). Well, it does not take long to see that this is absurd. I am so tired of people trying to steam roll over particulars (i.e. the particularities of life and culture) all for the sake of everything being the same (i.e. uniformity). There is nothing wrong with being Black or White as long as we do not try to play them off of each other in any way (e.g. superiority of one). If anything, we should be celebrating our diversity and learn from one another instead of trying to create pseudo-uniformity.

The reason why we can celebrate our diversity is because it is our God-given diversity, which is to say, God’s diversity in us. We are all created in the image of the triune God who is both ultimately unity and diversity. Therefore, it should not surprise us to see unity and diversity in people who bear the image of this God.

Final Question: Why would you not need a Black history month when hundred of years of Black history have been oppressed just like the people?

Founder Xavier Pickett
Category: Church
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Classroom

New Testament Argument

*“Luke 1:39-44”:
•Phillips asserts that because John the Baptist did leap in the womb of Elizabeth, unborn children and infants have the ability to sit in the worship service and understand God.
•The original meaning of Luke is to explain that John the Baptist was to play a particularly important role in the life of Jesus. Hence, Luke writes, “…blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
•Luke is not advocating that children in general can understand the truth of God as clearly John the Baptist did.
•Phillips commits interpretive error by taking that which is a miracle and propagating it as a generality. Children do not come into this world leaping for Jesus but as woeful sinners.
•This verse is particularly not advocating that entire families should sit in the sanctuary together or even the unborn children and infants can understand Bible truth. Phillips stands accused of “reading into the text that which is not there”. He is “adding to the text.”

*“Matthew 18:1-6”:
•Phillips states, “Jesus wants children in his presence” in attempting to make a case for family sanctuary worship.
•But I would ask Phillips, “Where is the presence of God within a worship facility?
•To equate that Jesus wants children with Him in the sanctuary is to infer that children who are not in the sanctuary are not present with God. (See comments under Exodus 10:7-11).
•To assert in any way that this verse supports or mandates that children worship with their families in a sanctuary is sinful for it binds the hearts of believers to false commands and a gross misunderstanding of the text.
•Original Intent: Matthew is stating the basic truth that it is impossible to separate Christ from His people and that consequently, whatever affects believers, affects Him. Specifically, whoever receives a child of God in Christ’s name receives Christ. Jesus was not speaking of the toddler himself but was using him to represent the children of God. No matter how lowly, unsophisticated, immature, or weak a believer is, he must be treated as the precious child of God he truly is. There is solidarity and unity between the Lord and all who share His life by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
•Once again, Phillips has mistaken genetic unity and “child” references for spiritual unity and “spiritual” references by reading his presuppositions about family worship into the Bible.

Matthew 12:50, Mark 3:31-35:
•Phillips states, “We need not send our children to friends or strangers one day a week and think somehow that it’s going to get them interested in the Bible.”
•This statement is opposed to the Biblical view of worship, fellowship and the Church.
•The “stranger” teaching the Bible whom Phillips mentions is actually Phillips spiritual “brother”, but Phillip’s assertions seem to dictate that he believes otherwise. Matthew 12:46-50, Hebrews 2:11-15 and Ephesians 3:14-19 are a few verses that refute and denounce Phillips claims.
•In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus Christ based the believer’s relationship, actions and fellowship in the body of Christ solely upon his/her spiritual makeup and not on one’s genetic makeup. In fact, in response to Jesus’ self-addressed question, “Who is my family”, Jesus overlooks His own genetic relationship and affirms His relationship with fellow believers, i.e. His spiritual relationship.
•Phillips is doing interpretive damage to other believers and himself by asserting that others in the body of Christ are strangers. But not surprisingly, Phillips’ theological premise dictates that he view others in such a manner.

Hebrews 2:11-15:
•From Hebrews 2:11-15, we can clearly and rightfully assert that the fundamental basis and motivation of Christian relationships and believer’s actions whether at home or at church, are based on there brotherhood with other believers and Jesus Christ.

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Category: Church
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
display

Recently, a friend mailed a lecture on cassette and requested that I listen and consider its value. My friend is a part of Vision Forum and he asked me to consider the value and necessity of keeping infants and children present with their parents during the meeting of the church fellowship. My friend, who has been keeping his children present with him since birth, believes that it is necessary and a biblical mandate for parents to keep their infants and children with them for the entire time of the meeting of the saints. Despite the presence of groups which target children or teens, such as “youth groups”, "Children's Church" or “Sunday School” classes, his position and perhaps the position of many in Vision Forum is that these groups are based on secular philosophy and pragmatism and more importantly are against the “Biblical model” regarding families in worship.

Those who are in some way affiliated with youth groups or Sunday School classes may want to review and may benefit from my comments. Before recently, I was not familiar with such a position regarding children in church. “Youth groups” and “Sunday School” classes are an affront to some and I was not aware of such a theological position. Furthermore, in that I have children, I needed to gain a certain level of comfort, assurance and understanding regarding the location of my children during worship, so I took up evaluating Scripture.

I listened to the tape and Phillips explained the validity of the position from several different perspectives such as “the sinfulness of the world system”, “secular philosophy and humanism” and “secular pragmatism” and their aid in the birth, structure and performance of Sunday School and youth groups. The most important position and my point of focus is Phillips’ “biblical position” or his use of Scripture in the justification and explanation of the role of children in the assembling of believers.

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Posted on: 12/11/05:

Relationships & Anger

Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Angry Couple“God’s anger that actually destroys the problem, but rescue the relationship...we rarely [that] see in our relationships. [Because we normally see] anger in the service of love.” This is a quotation by one of the speakers of a breakout session, Winston Smith of CCEF.

When he said that we rarely see that in our relationships, I felt like he was talking directly to me, but that is normally the case when truth is spoken, right? When most of my relationships start to go sour, I have been so accustomed to letting them go by the waste side because my anger usually gets the best of me. I normally prefer to let my anger destroy the relationship and sometimes all hopes of restoration, especially when I think I am right. And when I think back on some of those occasions, my anger was really in the service of myself, instead of love. It is more difficult to love in those situations than to fly off of the handle. I have come to realize that the only love that is involved in flying off the handle is the love of self. However, that is very much contrary to how God acts towards us while we were sinners...hating Him. I believe probably one of the most quoted verses in the Bible ring true here (although, it is hardly quoted these days): “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Unlike God’s anger, my anger so often is out to condemn my relationships and to make me look good without it costing me hardly anything. However, that is far from what God did for me. God rescuing me in his anger over sin actually cost him his only Son. He actually destroys my sin problem while at the same time bringing me back to Himself in love. With such a God who is like that and acts in such gracious ways towards his people, then there is much hope and power for my anger to serve in love.

Founder Xavier Pickett
Category: Church
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Megachurch

Let me say this before I begin, just for record...my blog,
"Frequent-flier Megachurch Pastors in NY" was not to bash Tim Keller and elevate Creflo and the like, but rather to raise certain real issues. So everything else that I am about to say should be taken in that same light. Also this follow-up was motivated by a question I received by one of our members. So I decided to answer it via the same way in which it was made known originally...just in case others might have been wondering the same thing.

The question: "Why would more (many more) Black people choose to hang out with Creflo?"

I think it needs to be said that they are tons of Black folks who are anti-Creflo and his health and wealth messages and they are no where near Reformed. So I don't want it to seem like I am lumping all Blacks folks with Creflo. There are plenty of Black broadly evangelical churches that are nothing like Creflo and would not go near him or his ministry.

To come at your same question from a different angle, and I will try to be brief on this one because there is sooo much to say about this. Creflo and the like are more appealing to some Black people because there is a sort of familiarity with their culture (and I do not necessarily mean all the charismatic trappings that comes with that). You can be Black and a Black church without being "charismatic" (whatever that is). So I want to move pass the way Black folks are typically associated with such churches. Not to mention, there are tons of Anglo charismatics out there too (e.g. Ken Copeland, Joyce Meyers, Ron Parsley, Hagee, etc.). Do every Anglo who attend these charismatic churches like it simply because it is charismatic? Probably not!

At any rate, my main point is that churches like Redeemer, Keller's church mainly appeals to the young white yuppie with some postmodern tendencies. And that is fine. All I am saying is that the way they do church would probably not resonate with the average Black person in NY. Let me put it this way, Redeemer's Anglo culture is just that, Anglo. That's why there are not that many Blacks there...because of their culture. Redeemer's culture is somewhat foreign to them. So this is much more than just a theological issue. It is also sociological. Doctrine and theology is definitely important, but you are going to need more than that and do things differently to reach out to any particular people group...let alone Black folks. And this raises the question as to whether or not Black people need someone to necessarily "reach" them anyway as if we do not have anything to give other culture groups ourselves. But that is another issue altogether.

I was given these numbers:
"Manhattan - 17% Black, 54% White"
So taking these numbers into consideration if they are true...then I think this is interesting. From my understanding, more than just Manhattans go to Redeemer because it pulls from all over NY. And if that is true, the amount of Black folks should tremendously increase once you go outside of Manhattan. So Redeemer still falls short of its pulling of Blacks outside of Manhattan unlike its pulling of Whites.

Moreover, if Manhattan is 17% Black, then Redeemer is still in trouble because they do not even have that many Blacks in their congregation from my estimation. Therefore, the few Black people at Redeemer (not including Africans) is still not representative of its surroundings.

So let me say this again just in case there is still any misunderstanding. I like Tim Keller and the work he is doing in NY. He is one of my favorite preachers believe it or not. I am just making a few observations for what its worth.
Category: Church
Posted by: RBAFounderX
House of Hope in ChicagoBefore I get going…let me start off by saying I do not think there is anything special about Christmas, December 25th for Christians. Therefore, Christmas is not some holy day. The only holy days that exist are the ones that God has determined and revealed in Scripture. I don’t know about you, but I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ every Sunday in particular while not excluding any other day of week, of course. I would like to say more (as always), but I really need to get on my soapbox about these issues.

Seeker-sensitivity: For the megachurches that yell we are seeker-sensitive and this is the reason for how we got to where we are as a megachurch because they really know the “needs” of the people. Well, if that is true, then I think the seeker-sensitive motivation of the megachurch is a sham. Now I could be wrong, but if you are really seeker-sensitive church, shouldn’t Christmas be the day to really share the gospel story of Jesus Christ to everyone (including unbelievers), especially since Christmas is on a Sunday? More than anything the unbeliever needs to be hearing the gospel, instead of sitting at home watching TV, opening gifts, and stuffing his/her face. And the church should probably consider staying open if they truly believe they have anything good to share. I guess that might be the problem huh? For my possible dissenters, yes, Christians can share Christ’s gospel one on one without being at a church. So I am not minimizing that at all.

Family day: Okay…now for the megachurches (like Willow Creek and others) that say they are closing because Christmas is a family day and attendance would be low. Huh? I could be wrong about this too, but when did these megachurches start being concern about the family all of sudden? It seem like to me if they were really concerned about family, they would have more intimate, personal, and meaningful interaction with one another, instead of relating to one another like you would while walking around a supermarket or department store. Oh, but wait…could there be a similarity? Futhermore, isn’t gathering for corporate worship a time to gather as a family? Oh, but wait…I forgot that that is the family of God, not our biological family, which is more important, of course. I totally forgot that by being united to Christ our true identity primarily comes from being in Him and in His body. (The identity issue is something that we cannot take up now, although, it is an important one.)

Excerpt from a CNN article published on December 7th, 2005: “Some megachurches closing on Christmas”
Cally Parkinson, a spokeswoman for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, said church leaders decided that organizing services on a Christmas Sunday would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources.

The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was 1994, and only a small number of people showed up to pray, she said.

"If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don't go to church, how likely is it that they'll be going to church on Christmas morning?" she said.
Do I understand this correctly? Are you telling me a church, a very large church, is closing because having service on Christmas would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources? Since when do we start measuring whether or not we should have service based upon staff and volunteer resources? It is not like this is some small back woods church that can hardly afford to even pay the light bill and only the pastor, his wife and two kids would be there. Moreover, it does not matter how many unbelievers are likely to go to church. If we held services just by the likelihood of unbelievers coming, then we all should have been shutdown a long time ago. According to the Bible I read, believers (i.e. regenerate people) are the only people who can and will seek God anyway.

Overcrowded: Yes, it is true. Megachurches of all people are now complaining about the possibility of being over crowded. Are you kidding me? Since when being overcrowded was ever NOT a problem for a megachurch? Let me ask another question: Are these megachurches any less crowded when they have some concert or celebrity come through?

Can we just be honest for a second? If you don’t want to go to church on December 25th, (not because it is some special day) just say that! The world already knows you love your time, status, money, influence, assets, and self more than Jesus. Ooops…did I say that?

The irony in all of this is that churches are closing on Christmas, which is supposed to be a “religious” holiday, at least in its origins as some believe. Who would have guess that a religious holiday, a Christian religious holiday at that would lead to the closing of Christian churches? Even the Roman Catholic parishes will be open and expecting large crowds. I guess now if some unbelievers wanted to go to a church that would be “sensitive” to them, they would have to hang out with Rome for a day. I think what is really disheartening is that Christmas, a “Christian religious” holiday, would be the death of the Christian church, if these churches had any say so over the ultimate survival of Christ’s church.

Disclaimer: Xavier Pickett comments are not only directed toward megachurches, but any church. He doesn’t discriminate.
Posted on: 12/07/05:

Condi v. Hillary...

Category: Politics
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Condi v. Hillary
Dick Morris, former president Bill Clinton's political consultant is at it again with this new book.

However, La Shawn Barber of La Shawn Barber's Corner has written an excellent review of this book for Townhall. Click here to read her full review.

I have provided an excerpt of the last few paragraphs of the review though:
Dick Morris’s strong faith in Condoleezza Rice as a presidential candidate is contagious. She may not be the only viable candidate against Hillary, but most would agree that she’d probably whip Hillary in an election. Place the two women’s biographies side by side, and Rice is far more impressive, especially as someone who grew up in the Deep South under government-mandated racial segregation and isn’t married to an inexplicably popular former president.

In Condi vs. Hillary, Morris acknowledges Rice’s weaknesses. In a chapter titled “But…,” he preempts naysayers. For instance, regarding Rice’s lack of experience holding elective office, he writes:
The experience that seems more fundamental than one’s tenure in elective office is service in an administrative position. After all, the presidency is first and foremost an administrative job: The chief executive is responsible for overseeing the vast, sprawling executive branch and its hundreds of thousands of employees.
He mentions Rice’s six years as provost at Stanford University, where she oversaw a billion-dollar budget. It’s a noble effort on his part, but does Morris really believe people choose their presidents based on their ability to manage a bureaucracy? While he pulls out all the stops to make the case, he knows that Rice’s strongest suit is not management skills, but her reputation as a scandal-free, up-front, no-nonsense Secretary of State and her appeal to a broad base of conservatives, regardless of her lack of experience as an elected official.

» Read More

Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Anger Management
Several weeks ago I attended a CCEF (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation) Conference: Redeeming Anger. This was not an anger management conference where we just learn to cope with our anger, but rather it was about the redemption in anger altogether that is grounded in God in Himself. (I wish I can say more about that, but hopefully, I will.) With that said, let me show you how it wasn’t some “anger management” conference by sharing some of my personal reflections (i.e. sins *wink*) on some of the sessions. Confession is good for the soul, right?

Here goes…as I was listening to David Powlison, one of the plenary speakers, talk on “Creation (A Just Anger) & Fall (A Corrupt Anger),” again I was struck by the subtlety of sin in my own life when he said: “Irritation is anger on a simmer…[and anger is] self-righteous…[it is an] empowering feeling of getting it off of your chest.” I knew I can get angry from time to time and I needed to exercise much grace in those areas. However, I didn’t necessarily make the connection of anger and my frequent irritation. Irritation isn’t too bad, right? Well, in thinking back on the times I’ve been irritated, I noticed that I was a little angry mainly because things were not going my way or in a specific case, people were getting in my way. And this actually happened at a Redeeming Anger conference! Go figure. This goes to show you sin is nothing to play with…

Well, as a crowd of people was going back to their seats in the auditorium, I was stuck behind a long line of people traveling as slow as dirt. All I wanted to do was get to my seat in the back, which was not far at all unlike others who set near the front. Unfortunately, instances like these and others quickly turned into self-righteousness. I may not have yelled at anyone to get things off of my chest, but I definitely yelled internally at everyone to get things off of my mind. (This is usually where we try to justify venting, by the way.) And that was a very empowering feeling, even if no one knew it. I felt like I was better than everyone there and I deserved to be seated before them, especially since my seat was closer. Nevertheless, the gospel speaks even to this situation. The gospel revealed that my anger was all about me and feeling better than others, but living the gospel is not about me. It is about laying your life down for others, even in those mundane areas of my life by waiting patiently and not trying to be aggressive and inconsiderate to others while being in line together. You know what I mean too…how we move up closer to the individual in front of us to prevent anyone from getting in, let alone getting in front of us. I would like to suggest that even in these ordinary and mundane areas of our lives, God wants to sanctify us. Our God is a God of detail. He enjoys working in the detailed. He cannot help but to do so because He indeed is a real and living God who works in reality, the reality He created where He is near and involved in everything. He does not work abstractly or even conceptually, but He works in real life, with real people, suffering with real everyday problems in every detailed part of our lives.

Founder Xavier Pickett
Category: Church
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Creflo Dollar
On yesterday, Sunday, December 04, 2005, I decided to take the train up with friends to New York to hear Dr. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Dr. Keller has been making tremendous inroads in NY, especially among Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers with 4 different worships services across the city. But it was not too long while on the train that I noticed an article by the Daily News saying my favorite pastor, Creflo Dollar (not!) also preaches in NY as he flies in on his private jet (so much for "frequent-flier" miles huh) from Atlanta, weekly packing out the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Fred PriceTo make things more exciting, New York also has one of the patriarchs of the faith there (not!), Rev. Fredrick K.C. Price of Los Angeles, one of the earliest Black televangelists and he comes to New York once a month to hold Bible study on Thursday and services on Sunday. It seems like New York is really living up to its name with Dollars and Prices all around. Talk about a financial capital of the world!

Here are a few clips from the Daily News article entitled, "Traveling reverends sell faith to N.Y.ers":
Scott Thumma, a professor at the Hartford Seminary and an expert on megachurches, said he finds it hard to imagine why a New Yorker would want a senior pastor who lives across the country. "That's not my idea of church," he said. "But part of the thinking here is that anybody that's on television several times a week has to have more credibility than the pastor down the street."

Paula Schulzki, 35, of Washington Heights, said Dollar's sermons deal with practical life matters: how to communicate with people by showing love and respect, how to eliminate negative thinking, how to land a promotion or a new job.

Maurice Luke, 33, said his prayers were answered when Dollar started preaching locally. “I had thought about moving to Atlanta for World Changers," said Luke, a Jersey City resident who plays keyboard in the choir. "I was spiritually bored up here - I wanted something different."
Dr. Keller (who is white for some of you who didn't know) might be in a little trouble now? Hmmm…probably not! But he might be in a little trouble when it comes to meeting their goal of social healing and cultural renewal since there is a good amount of Black people in New York, which is interesting, considering that there were not too many Black (non-African) people in the congregation from my observations. But of course, the latter assumes that social healing and cultural renewal includes the Black population in New York, which I would assume that it does. And unfortunately, many Black people will go hang out with Dollar and Price instead, since in more ways, their sermons (though faulty in some areas) and culture better speaks to them and addresses their real needs.

Part II: Frequent-flier Megachurch Pastors in NY
Category: Theology
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Throughout the life of each believer, he/she wrongly considers sin to be satisfying and fulfilling and discards the worth and necessity of the riches and relationship found in Christ. Each believer transfers or casts his devotion and care for Christ onto objects and into actions and works which do not bring glory to God. Inevitably, the believer rightfully acknowledges sooner or later that he has made an unholy transfer of his devotion and love onto unfulfilling endeavors and deeds.

Therefore, we as believers sometimes transfer our desires and affections away from Christ and cast them upon unfulfilling and dissatisfying endeavors. As the Holy Spirit empowers us and by grace brings us to our spiritual senses, we realize the invalidity and unsoundness of the transfer of our affections.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the Holy Spirit used a wonderful hymn I have long enjoyed to provide empowerment and a platform by which I was able, in His power, to transfer my affections back onto Christ. As I sang and read, Come, All Christians, Be Committed, I found the Holy Spirit making a valid and wonderful transfer of my affections, devotion and satisfaction off of unfulfilling endeavors and onto that Great and Wonderful One. As I sang the words to the hymn, I could sense, feel and comprehend “the balance” of my emotions, devotion and satisfaction being transferred from an account of sinfulness to an account of life fulfilling love and gladness.

[Verse 1] “Come, all Christians, be committed to the service of the Lord.
Make your lives for Him more fitted, Tune your hearts with one accord.
Come into His courts with gladness, Each his sacred vows renew,
Turn away from sin and sadness, Be transformed with life anew.”

[Verse 4] “Come in praise and adoration, All who on Christ’s name believe.
Worship Him with consecration, Grace and love will you receive.
For His grace give Him the glory, For the Spirit and the Word,
And repeat the gospel story, Till all men His name have heard.

Through this hymn and that time of meditation, I was able to as Paul commands in Ephesians, “put off the old and put on the new.” Through this hymn and this time of meditation, the Holy Spirit empowered me to bow before Him as my One Great Satisfying and Gratifying King. Through meditation, Christ delivers and transfers the believer from the desires of sinful dissatisfaction to a state of renewed joy, companionship and rejoicing in the Creator and Savior.