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Posted on: 10/30/06:

Get Caught Up!

Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Praise

I came across some statements: “Simply making a point doesn’t necessarily keep people’s attention throughout a story. Well-crafted stories, from Shakespeare to Seinfield, set up a tension from the beginning that holds you until the story is over. Conflict, obstacles, loss of control…these engender dramatic questions that create dramatic tension. The story problem, the outside conflict, tells your reader what to worry about. Soon enough he will discover the conflict, the ghosts and hidden demons.”

As in so many other parts of biblical narrative, Moses presents us with a dramatic tension in Genesis 1:1-2. The reader is audience to the meeting or coming together of the chaotic world and the Spirit of God or Holy Spirit. Moses draws upon this dramatic tension with parallel to his life and God’s intensions for the Israelites in reference to the Exodus and Possession of Canaan (Deuteronomy 32:10-12).

We as readers are to face every text head on and bow under its relevance (II Timothy 3:16). Such texts as here presented cause a flood of questions one being: How does such dramatic tension as seen in Genesis 1:1-2 influence our lives today in communicating a biblical worldview to our culture and society? The Bible is active and forceful and breaks forth upon every area of our lives and my mind often can only retreat to questions in response to the might of God’s special revelation. (But then again, this sort of life experience is curtailed if one conceives of themselves as a New Testament Christian. I believe the entire Bible is the living and active Word of God and therefore my Christian life falls under the influence of all of Scripture.) Nonetheless while in a misconceived state of blankness and motionlessness, I am reminded that Scripture is dynamic and robust. I again conceive of the ebb and flow of redemptive history. In short, I get caught up!

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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Civil War 2nd Michigan

It is not uncommon among Civil War buffs to have major debates over who won the war. But what is even more ironic is how many Christians are involved in those heated debates on whether the North or South won the war. And what is interesting about these discussions on the civil war is that there is generally always a tendency to even want to find the “winner” or the “good guy” and in this case trying to locate one or the other in the North or South or other such groupings around that time. I said that to say this because if there was a winner or a side that won the war or whatever, why is it that racial and social injustices continued to exist all the more, almost unabated in most instances after the war had been “won?” What is even more striking is that American/Southern Presbyterians have predominately overlooked this serious matter and have not own up to this damaging theological inconsistency for all these years.

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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Well, my friend Anthony Bradley surely thinks so. Here's why:
My Latino and African American brothers who are being recruited into various predominantly white evangelical tribes--away from your traditional, racially homogenous church tribes--if you're single, and don't have a vision for an interracial marriage, moving ahead too fast is probably, de facto, you enlisting into a life of celibacy. You're inadvertently taking a celibacy vow (and you're not even Catholic).

(Of course, this does not apply at all if you're joining the ranks of InterVarsity. InterVarsity is clearly the most racially healthy organization evangelicals can claim. If there's one on your campus go to it and as many InterVarsity conferences as you can. You will not a find a campus ministry organization that's this good on race stuff. An exceptoin also might hold if you're Southern Baptist because of the number of large black SBC churches).

Fellas, keep these things in mind:

(1) Fellas, if you think you're going to make a move into the conservative evangelicalism sub-culture (where you can be a star) you may want to stay in your racially defined Christian sub-culture as long as you can--as this will reduce your chances of celibacy.

(2) If anyone asks you, "hey, are you open to interracial marriage?" and that person is not interracially married, don't waste your time talking to them. They have no idea what they just asked you and are clueless about the implications. Change the subject to football or something so you don't get too mad. If interracial marriage had been an actual or desirable option for them they would have done it, and since they didn't, there's no point in talking to them. They won't really understand. Many obviously don't really think it was a good idea, otherwise. . .

(3) Black guys, an AME pastor cautioned me when I was in seminary with this: "If you ever want to ruin your ministry to the black community, marry a white girl." Unfortunately guys, you know this is true. Marrying a white woman means that you'll never have credibility in the black community again and should expect to never preach or teach in a black church ever again. It's a sad truth, except maybe in the Word of Faith movement where it's slightly more accepted.
To read the rest of his blog, click here
Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Oreo

W. E. B. Dubois said that Blacks folks have been so comfortable with riding in the front of the bus that they have forgotten to ask where the bus is going [paraphrase].

The Bus Ride

I’m afraid in my estimation that the same is happening in the Reformed Black community. Many of us were in search of a better theological bus. We saw many buses go by that were same ole’ same ole’. We began to be disgruntled with the buses we rode on because most of them really weren’t as faithful to orthodox Christianity as we had thought. However, as time went on, a nice properly working bus came along that we really had not seen before. Now of course, we’ve seen different buses in the past that had similar features, but not a bus that had all the features we were looking for in one place. So we got on like any person who is waiting on a certain bus because they believe it will take them right where they need to go. And as a person who is on this (reformed) bus, it has been one of the most enjoyable rides of my life. The seats on here are better than any seat that I’ve been on. Not to mention, the ride is like you are riding on air. It makes Greyhound look like a horse and buggy.

However, there are just a couple of problems with this relatively new transition for some. For one, before boarding bus we forgot to check out the body, mechanical, and electrical working of the bus much like we would if we were buying new car. Basically, we were so enamored by this new bus with all the bells and whistles we wanted; we did not actually make sure it was functioning on all cylinders. Many of us did not check the tire pressure, oil levels, possible cracks in the engine block, transmission, CV joints and etc. before getting on the bus. What makes matters worse we probably didn’t even ask to drive it around. After all, we will be spending the rest of our life on it all things being equal. So we just assumed that everything about the bus is working at optimal levels because the other buses we were on or looked at didn’t have all of what this reformed bus had.

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Category: Culture
Posted by: RBAFounderX
2007 Silverado

Chevy's icky, exploitative new ad.
The spot: Singer John Mellencamp leans on the fender of a Chevy pickup, strumming an acoustic guitar. He sings, among other things, "This is our country." Meanwhile, a montage of American moments flies by: Rosa Parks on a bus. Martin Luther King preaching to a crowd. Soldiers in Vietnam. Richard Nixon waving from his helicopter. And then modern moments: New Orleans buried by Katrina floodwaters. The two towers of light commemorating 9/11. As a big, shiny pickup rolls through an open field of wheat and then slows to a carefully posed stop, the off-screen announcer says, "This is our country. This is our truck. The all-new Chevy Silverado."

This ad makes me—and, judging by my e-mail, some of you—very angry. It's not OK to use images of Rosa Parks, MLK, the Vietnam War, the Katrina disaster, and 9/11 to sell pickup trucks. It's wrong. These images demand a little reverence and quiet contemplation. They are not meant to be backed with a crappy music track and then mushed together in a glib swirl of emotion tied to a product launch. Please, Chevy, have a modicum of shame next time.

I should probably leave it at that (the poor ad is just trying to sell trucks, after all, in its own muddle-headed way). But this isn't your basic flag-waving car commercial. It mixes patriotic images with some heart-rending, shameful episodes from our past. And the ambiguity is furthered by the presence of John Mellencamp—a guy who, in a different incarnation, used to make semipolitical statements about the dark side of the American dream. A guy who wrote an open letter in 2003 arguing that the Iraq war was "solidifying our image as the globe's leading bully" and wondering why President Bush hadn't been "recalled" yet. Mellencamp once sang the line, "Ain't that America" with a decidedly bitter tinge. Now he sings the remarkably similar line, "This is our country," and it's hard not to wonder what he means by it.
To read the rest of the article, click here
Posted on: 10/20/06:

CCEF and RBA

Category: Partnerships
Posted by: RBA
CCEF: Hope for Broken Relationships

CCEF (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation) has added a special conference rate of $165 for partners, friends and anyone who has registered for the RBA Newsletter. The Annual CCEF conference will be held at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, PA on November 9-12, 2006. The conference focus is Hope for Broken Relationships. Carl Ellis of Project Joseph will be one of the featured speakers. Please click here to register and for any additional details. Also don't forget to please subscribe to the RBA newsletter, if you haven't yet (on the homepage).

Category: Culture
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
People on the Steps

What are the steps to cultural contact and how does cultural interaction look in the time of needed communication about the Bible? In what ways are we able to make contact with and interact with the world around us and particularly the culture of a people group in order to aid in our communication of the Bible? Can understanding the culture of a people group or understanding one’s own culture actually help one understand and communicate the Bible? These questions deserve and require attention because they are questions which lead us today to understand the very movement and content of Scripture. These questions directly relate to the way in which Scripture was communicated to the original audience. Let us look at an example from Scripture.

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Posted on: 10/16/06:

RBA on MySpace

Category: RBA
Posted by: RBA
MySpace Logo

RBA is on MySpace.com: www.myspace.com/reformedblacks. Myspace will provide the opportunity for RBA to reach a younger generation many of whom are unbelievers and may not have seen the Christian story intersect with their lives and context. This will also allow RBA to develop stronger relationships with other believers. As we push the kingdom forward, it is necessary that lives be impacted; MySpace is one medium through which this can occur. And if you are already on there, please feel free to add us as your friend.
Posted on: 10/13/06:

RBA Incorporation

Category: RBA
Posted by: RBA
Certificate of Incorporation

We, the Founders, are pleased to announce the incorporation of Reformed Blacks of America (RBA)! RBA is a center that seeks to build and maintain an infrastructure and network among African-Americans in a Reformed theological context for indigenous leadership, church growth and theological research for today's world.

RBA was led to its existence due to the lack of an intentional multifaceted structure through which the Reformed Black community in all its diversity can reach its fullest potential in America. The cultivation of this infrastructure will be fulfilled through these three aspects of the mission of RBA: (1) the advancement of indigenous Black Reformed leadership, (2) growth of Reformed Black churches and (3) theological research that addresses the pathologies of Black America and the challenges of this complex world.

To God be the glory for this occasion!
Posted on: 10/12/06:

The Culture We Promote: Part 2

Category: Culture
Posted by: RBA
By Carl F. Ellis, Jr., President, Project Joseph

Culture

The Process
A farmer hired 100 workers to harvest his crop. But, no one planted seed or cultivated the plants. As a result, the yield was almost nothing. What little was harvested had grown wildly. This resembles the way we tend to do evangelism today. It is obvious that this farmer is ignorant regarding the agricultural process.

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Category: Culture
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Joseph Phillips

It's cool to see great actors exercise their craft. But it's even cooler to see Christian actors professing their faith. Here's an actor who is serious about his faith and he's not afraid to communicate it. You most likely remember him as "Martin", Denise's husband, in the famed "Cosby Show" but Joseph Phillips is still around. He is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Actors Equity Association, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. Phillips takes a stand for Christ in each of these venues. For example, check out his new article titled, "Radical Christianity" in which he responds to co-host Rosie O'Donnell's recent statements about Christianity on the daytime talk show “The View”.
Phillips begins, "Last week on the daytime talk show “The View”, co-host Rosie O’Donnell pronounced, “ radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam..."

The Christian right in America is seen as too certain of their righteousness and folks like Rosie find that offensive. Her assertion was predictable. However, the response of the audience is what troubled me.

Following Rosie’s shooting from the lip, the audience broke into applause. No doubt there were some Christians in the audience. I wondered if they were simply blinded by the stage lights or if they in fact agreed with the assessment that radical Christians in America are akin to men that stone women to death for committing the act of adultery; one good sermon from blowing something up.

I also wondered if, like me, those Christians in the audience took a few moments following the program to think about what it really means to be a Radical Christian."

In my mind, radical Christianity is the outpouring of love, compassion and service motivated by a belief in the fundamental and absolute truth of scripture. Sure, Christians can be annoying with all the warning folks to get right with God. But you can tell a Christian to leave you alone and not have your throat slit. There are not gangs of Christian youth riding around town physically assaulting couples for holding hands in public, strapping dynamite onto themselves and detonating their human bombs on buses loaded with women and children, or bringing journalists to Christ through threat of being beheaded. A wonderful feature of the Radical Christian tradition is we are allowed to talk to God, argue with him, debate and even wrestle with him. It means we get to make up our own minds. We choose virtue; it is not imposed upon us. We choose service, we are not compelled to charity and we choose to proclaim our love of Christ because we have come to God on our own terms. We are transformed from the inside out, not the outside in.
To read the rest of "Radical Christianity," click here
Posted on: 10/05/06:

The Culture We Promote: Part 1

Category: Culture
Posted by: RBA
By Carl F. Ellis, Jr., President, Project Joseph


Culture

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Matthew 9:35-38).

This harvest theme of Jesus’ teaching was applied to Israel against the backdrop of 1,500 years of God’s involvement in Israelite history through cultural discipleship.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…(Hebrews1: 1-2). God’s revelation through the Son was the pinnacle of this discipleship process. “For the Law was our school master to bring us to Christ…”(Galatians 3: 24).

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Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
African Cloth

Public education is looking less European in a Kansas City school.
The folks at J.S. Chick Elementary School had better watch themselves. If they don’t have one already, they might wind up with a waiting list.

Or with a longer one.

That’s because this Kansas City public magnet school is accomplishing the reverse of what so many other schools are failing to do. It is attracting and keeping black students -- and closing in on the achievement gap -- by showing them that they matter. That they don’t have to be society’s afterthoughts, but its architects.

Chick is doing that by basing everything it teaches around the history and culture of Africa and its diaspora. And so far, it’s working. According to The Christian Science Monitor, its 300 students -- 99 percent of whom are black -- are posting achievement test scores that are well above the statewide average.

It manages to accomplish that, a feat that flies in the face of conventional wisdom that accepts that black achievement must always be tethered to assimilation, by incorporating things such as African rites of passage into academics as well as lessons on leadership and esteem.

It’s about time someone tried that approach.

It’s easy to believe that if a school focuses only on academics, then the esteem will take care of itself. But what we forget is that when children come to a school, they’ve already absorbed messages and beliefs about themselves that stain whatever canvas that we expect the academics to stick to. That’s especially true for many black students, most of who have repeatedly heard Africa referred to as the Dark Continent, and who only see it through the prism of suffering and stereotypes.
To read the rest of the article, click here

Any thoughts?