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Category: Church
Posted by: epeay
Depressed Young Woman

More and more, The Lord has opened my eyes to see that man is not only sinful, but also affected by sin. There is so much hurt in Baltimore city alone that it wearies my heart to think of the reality of it existing elsewhere. I imagine that if the destruction done in people’s lives by sin could be piled one broken life upon another, we would no longer marvel at the Tower of Babel, for that would be mammoth structure. But even though the pain of mankind cannot be physically constructed, it does reach heaven. It amazes me how God can simultaneously hate sin and mourn for the sinner. The righteousness and mercy of God are real and non-competing traits of his nature. These traits were perfectly embodied in Jesus Christ.

Just as our Lord did, we should show mercy to others. Mercy should flow naturally from us as an extension of the mercy that Jesus showed us on the Cross and that he gives us daily. We should love much because we were forgiven much (Luke 7:47). A needed (truly our communities are hurting, even in ways that it cannot express or is aware of) way to show mercy is by listening to and helping to meet the emotional needs of the communities that we live and worship in. We should do this as individuals and as a local church. We should care about the emotional needs of others because we desire them to embrace the salvation that Jesus provides (which is the remedy for man’s core need). So, when ministering to emotional needs we should always be pointing people to their spiritual need which is fulfilled in Christ.

Perhaps there are various reasons that the Church may not be meeting the emotional needs of its communities (and I praise God for those churches that are, I am only speaking generally), but three reasons come to mind. Now, fear may or may not govern these reasons, but they seem to be reason nonetheless.

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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Tired Man

The walk from the landing gate through the concourse to the waiting area and arms of my family was much shorter than my mind would allow me to believe. The sparse number of people on the plane and in the concourse on this Friday night allowed for free-flowing long strides. My mind beckoned a quicker pace but there was a sense of unnaturalness in running away from an airplane. I walked a bit faster knowing no hurry was required. A brisk walk would consume the short distance before me and I would soon greet my waiting family. Maybe as their figures formed in the distance, I could embark on a quick paced jog, but then again the time that had elapsed since my last visit perhaps should not elicit such a response. It had only been 9 months, 9 months that had left me overextended and exhausted. Energy was scarce; perhaps the time away would provide rejuvenation.

The waiting area flattened out and expanded in the distance. Large lights, attached to the high airport ceiling, provided little aid. The people around seemed now to present a distraction. Bobbing heads blocked my vision and uninvited voices grabbed my attention. My eyes continued searching; I was now in a hurry. As the fast approaching exit doors bid farewell to weary travelers, someone called my name.

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Category: Social
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Different Black Men

Earlier this week the NY Times published an article, “Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn,” which really caused me to shed a tear in all honesty (and I'm not speaking metaphorically here). Therefore, it really moved me to share a light reflection on this issue as a (Reformed) Christian man.

I would encourage you to read the article in its entirety because I will only comment on a few excerpts.

"I was with the street life, but now I feel like I've got to get myself together," Mr. Brannon said recently in the row-house flat he shares with his girlfriend and four children. "You get tired of incarceration."

Mr. Brannon, 28, said he planned to look for work, perhaps as a mover, and he noted optimistically that he had not been locked up in six months.

A group of men, including Mr. Brannon, gathered at the Center for Fathers, Families and Workforce Development, one of several private agencies trying to help men build character along with workplace skills.

The clients readily admit to their own bad choices but say they also fight a pervasive sense of hopelessness.
Where can our great Reformed theology give and show these men what true character is all about? What does it mean for these men to be created in the image of God in a society that tries to destroy God’s image in all of us?

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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Stained Glass

As I quickly scaled the 4 brick steps to the greeting of a cologne-scented, dressed and polished early bird in the church foyer, I was bursting at the seams with anticipation. Many times previous to this day, I had walked down the 15-row aisle of pews and found my seat at this church just south of Atlanta. During the service, and particularly upon initial morning entrance, I had often forgotten that others were in my presence. I sat down. With readied expectation and keen familiarity, I slowly turned slightly to the right in order to feel the sunlight warm my face. It was a pleasant sort of warmth, and even though the sunlight was immaterial, its beam through the stained glass was readily present and its strength was constant.

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Posted on: 03/20/06:

Dressing Down

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
John 3:16 T-shirt

To dress up or not to dress up, that is the question. As the founding pastor of a new church I grappled with this issue and the concerns behind it. I finally settled on encouraging a casual dress code at CLF for the following reasons. Before I begin however let me say that as with all fallen humans my conclusions aren’t infallible. I therefore welcome any feedback, questions, comments and yes corrections anyone would like to offer.

First off I couldn’t find any scripture that spoke directly to how one should dress for public worship. In fact, the only clear New Testament reference to dress is found in James 2. The point of that passage though is how the saints treated one who did not have ‘proper’ dress not what he might wear to church. Without strong scriptural backing I did not believe it prudent to encourage a business style dress code for those who did not or could not dress in that manner.

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Category: Church
Posted by: epeay
As we look at the question of whether or not the Church is being hindered in ministry by being afraid to be the Church to a churched people, I would first like to quickly mention three things. First, what I have written is a combination of my perceptions and wonderings (things that I wonder if they may have a relation to the Church). My prayer is that wherever needed, God would cause the Church to be transformed. Secondly, I will often use the term “churched” in this blog. I sometimes dislike using labels to describe people because of the potential to forget the human face behind it (even when used for good). But I know that it is sometimes necessary and right to use labels (ex. “regenerate” and “unregenerate”; labels that speak of life and death). They also can be useful when trying to describe a group of people that share a group of characteristics. So, when I use the word “churched”, I am referring to those who have had some type of exposure/understanding of the Christian faith or what was presented to them as the Christian faith (ex. going to church, being told Scripture) but are not Christians. Third, I would just like to praise God for the local churches in the universal Church of Christ who are an example of overcoming this fear or who are even now realizing this hindrance and shedding it for God’s glory. May God continue to give us grace.

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Posted on: 03/15/06:

The Identity of Mr. Number 21

Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Unknown Identity

Friday afternoon while walking to my car located in the seminary parking lot, a friend confidently stated, “Without question, our cultural and spiritual identities are intertwined in Christ. Our cultural identity is equally a creation and revelation of the power and personality of God. It’s obvious.”

Saturday morning until lunch seemed open and available so I put it to good use. I decided to take in the Ligonier Conference (a conference held by R.C. Sproul in Orlando each year, for those who don't know) on Saturday, March 11th. The hymns and speakers were excellent but I was on a mission, a mission to inform and encourage other African-Americans that they were not the only black folks embracing and dining with Reformed Theology.

I assured them that because they were in the fellowship of thousands of believers at this conference, it by necessity meant that some of those believers would look like them. God’s elect encompass all ethnicities I said to myself as I walked down a corridor during a break in the services. I encouraged them by informing them that even though the African-Americans present composed a minuet percentage of the attendees, this microscopic percentage was a microcosm of the national percentage of African-Americans who belong to the American Reformation today, which translates into thousands!

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Category: Church
Posted by: epeay
Returning to the issue of fear and the call of Reformed African American churches in their communities, I would like to first begin with these words: Because one of the focuses of this ministry is to discuss how to minister to our fellow African Americans, my words are specifically concerning African American communities but is applicable to all communities that are not being ministers to by the local church. And though my words are specifically concerning inner-city churches, they are also directed to all churches to care about and minister to the plight of people everywhere. Also, while I feel the need to write about some of the consequences of fear in the Church, I am also challenging myself to throw of this yoke. I am a part of the Church and I have not been as faithful in the local church and in my personal walk in this area as God desires me to be. May God gives us grace to obey what He commands and our hearts long to do.

When I think about this subject, I have in mind a Church that has lost the understanding of the biblical duty and beauty of suffering. The church is called to a duty of suffering, not for the sake of suffering, but for the sake of lifting up the Gospel banner just like Jesus commanded in the Great Commission. It is impossible to lift up a banner of truth, humility, love, and holiness in a sinful world and not meet some form of resistance. Jesus taught us that we, the servants, just like our Master would be hated, for we are of Him (John 15:18-20). Some of the beloved have been providentially placed in environments that suppress the truth with bloodshed (ex. China). Our persecuted Chinese brothers and sisters know the horrible reality of suffering for Christ. Yet they continue to meet for fellowship and convert unbelievers because of a greater reality- the beauty of suffering for Christ. The beauty of suffering for Christ is made certain by the promise of God to work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). And the beauty of suffering for Christ is made evident by the glorification of God through drawing unbelievers to himself and strengthening the Church (which is for the good of those who love him and are called because they delight to see God glorified in these ways). Though we do not live in a society where this ultimate form of persecution of the Church is embodied in the law, there is the potential reality of physical persecution. And I fear that one segment of the Body that often lives amidst such potential will never see the beauty of suffering for Christ because it is not faithful to the duty of suffering for Christ. That part of the Body are the churches that live in inner-city communities.

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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Church People

Whatever happened to a type of church attire? More specifically, whatever happened to “wearing your best for the Lord” on Sundays? Why has the church gone the way of business casual to just casual in some circles? I think the reason is partly because the church in very real ways whether she knows it or not is taking her cue from the “world” (again) via good ole corporate America.

Here’s the correlation: as soon as corporate America started gravitating toward business casual to just casual, all of a sudden the church started doing the same thing. Coincidence? Probably not…and I find it even more interesting that the Black church is starting to do the same thing in some ways, though, not as much as many white churches.

Here’s the (X-socio-)rub: if corporate America is mainly dominated by Anglos and they make up most of the evangelical church population, could it be that culture trends in corporate America are affecting many churches since that same group is predominate in both? Could it also be that black churches are following the same predominately white paradigm unknowingly? I’ll let you draw your on conclusions from that one.

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Category: Theology
Posted by: Merobin
Westminster Confession of Faith

We’ve discussed this a fair bit but this is a healthy conversation to continue having though it does raise numerous complex cultural-linguistic, semantic issues as well as theological ones. But a blog is as good a place as any to banter around ideas/issues, etc.
So, in the spirit of Founder X, here is a rehabilitated response to some keen questions which raise issues germane to and constitutive of being a reformed black person.

Just a few preliminary presuppositions about being reformed:

Currently, I understand 'being reformed' to consist of not less than three constitutive factors (Feel free to help me out here ‘cause I’m not quite comfortable with the following framings):

1) ‘Being reformed’ is an ideological/theological construct. It is in part, a matter of subscribing to particular doctrinal points, adherence to a set of definable theological propositions. From this perspective, to be reformed is to subscribe to a certain set of creedal confessional convictions, i.e. the Westminster Confession of Faith, Belgic Confession, 1689 Confession of Faith, etc.

2) 'Being Reformed' also might be defined as a particular habit of thought and mind, one which seeks wisdom and truth wherever it is found, whether in the Bible or the creation in general. From this perspective, to be 'reformed' is simply to be 'biblical' (on the assumption that scripture is the norm of divine revelation for us humans).

3) 'Reformed' refers to a particular historical ecclesiological phenomena -"The Reformation" of the 16th and 17th century Europe - which continues to this day. To be reformed here, is to align oneself with the ecclesiastical trajectory of this movement, to be a part of a denomination like the PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) or the CRC (Christian Reformed Church). Ok, I’ll admit the reformed Baptists for now. Being reformed in this way presupposes (or at least should) the previous two constructions.

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Category: Church
Posted by: epeay
Here are some thoughts that I pray can edify the Church. I would like to preface the following thoughts with stating that I know that many churches are being faithful to evangelism and ministry in their communities. The following thoughts are general observations that I have made. And though my experience in this matter has been in the context of the inner-city, I am sure that churches in all types of locations are subject to falling into this sin of fear and consequently neglecting the need around them or in areas that are known by them to be in need. Though one church cannot minister to all needs, asking God if any are being neglected is a question that each church should humbly ask the Lord. And praise God, He will give strength if the answer is “Yes”.

Growing up in the inner city all of my life, I have witnessed firsthand the many terrible effects of fear. Fear keeps neighbors from speaking to one another. Fear keeps people from calling the police after hearing gunshots and screams. Fear keeps victims of abuse from speaking out against their abusers. Fear keeps people who are waiting on a bus stop from speaking even one word to each other. But perhaps the gravest effects of fear I have witnessed (and have been a guilty party of) has been in the Church. In my observation, some of these fears are the fears of persecution/physical harm, the fear of being the Church to a “churched” people, the fear of meeting emotional needs, and the fear of meeting material needs.

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Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
4 Important Points regarding the Rearticulation of Biblical Understanding for Black Folks

Thinking Statue

Introduction
After submitting 4 writings under the title, “Confessions of Black Folks”, I feel it necessary to briefly review and provide further assessment regarding my last writing. This review and further assessment are combined to form my 5th confession.

Concerning writing Part 4
As I stated in my last writing, The Confessions of Black Folks: Part 4, “...the setup is: exercise of rethinking and reconsidering our reality (step 1)-then the exercise of delineating a path or rule or guide (step 2)-then the exercise of rearticulation (step 3)” or application to others. In other words, we must reanalyze and reconsider our reality and particularly theology and biblical understanding as a combined group of black and reformed individuals; then we must formulate a guide or path based on our knowledge about reality by which we can apply theology and biblical understanding to other black folks and then we must rearticulate or communicate that application in an understandable and relevant fashion. This is the overarching process of rearticulation. There are 4 areas that I can think of right now that particularly concern step 1.

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