Monday, November 18, 2013

Message of the Latter Rain

I had the privilege of attending an event where one of the co-authors of this powerful book, Mark Duncan, presented his language research leading to a discovery about the nature and phases of justification; Charizomai and Aphiemi. The promise of 1 John 1:9 is more pregnant with hope than you may have imagined.

Be blessed by reading this inspired treatise on Christ's Righteousness preparing the field for the latter rain!


What?

At some point we will be able to link individual sermons but until then...

Pastor Fordham preached the gospel, do not miss this sermon which he entitled "What?"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What Should I Believe To Be Baptized?

The Church believes in baptism by immersion and
accepts into membership only those who have been baptized in this manner.
(See Chapter 14, “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists.”) Those
who acknowledge their lost state as sinners, sincerely repent of their sins, and
experience conversion may, after proper instruction, be accepted as candidates
for baptism and Church membership.  - The Seventh Day Adventist Church Manual, published 2010

This is a beautiful testimony about the power of the gospel as shared by Adventist World Radio. Praise God for the work they have committed themselves to pursuing. What follows is no way a criticism of anything related to their ministry.

Aside from the story, however, what caught my eye was the pastor's response to the leader's desire to be baptized. "Wait!" How do I know if you're ready?"

It seems that those who would follow Jesus are being presented an open door by pope Francis in his recent interviews or 7 pages (from page 44 to 51 of the SDA Church Manual) of vows and "instruction" by the SDA Church in order to join the body of Christ.

In one of his universal statements, Jesus said "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Didn't Jesus rebuke the Pharisees and Sadducees for their rules and regulations concerning Sabbath? I certainly don't endorse the theological positions of the pope or Catholicism but how many EGW blessed, Holy Ghost steps do you need to take to get in the pool?

How you join something often sets the tone. When I crossed the burning sands of Kappa Alpha Psi to the shores of Phi Nu Pi, I "pledged hard." However, my dean of pledges, Darryl German, kept the wolves at bay, by and large and provided a great introduction to the traditions, rites and rituals of our great fellowship. Too many others, however, were not so fortunate and some were beaten badly and even killed in the years since I joined. The Fraternity's response, in a consent agreement, was to eliminate pledging. Now, once you have been accepted into membership, you are a full fledged brother with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereunto.

It's then that you learn to appreciate what makes Kappa Alpha Psi, Incorporated, the most outstanding greek letter organization on the planet. A frat so nice, they had to name it twice!

How exceedingly more special is the fellowship of Jesus? Isn't he revealed from faith to faith as you grow in grace and knowledge? Does my pledge to put the cigarettes and bottle down give me victory over alcohol and tobacco? Are these the only sins we reject or are they just more visible? How are these vows different than what Israel promised out of fear in Exodus 19:5-8? The old covenant can temporarily keep people in line but does it save?

The Holy Spirit is calling people into this fellowship with the promise from Jeremiah 31:31-34, the promises made to Abraham that God intended to renew with Israel (Exodus 2:24, Exodus 6:2-9) in the desert in Exodus 19:5, still misunderstood. If they would keep (cherish) his covenant and obey (diligently listen to his voice), then they too will become God's special treasure. Shouldn't we take them just as they are, trust Jesus and the Holy Spirit even though they may not yet be ready for translation?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sin's Self-Locking Mechanism

One of the debilitating effects of sin is self-delusion. In fact, it serves as a latch on its own gate, locking the sinner into cycles of self-defeating thoughts and beliefs. The principle self-delusion may be the belief that what we do matters, which seems to have been programmed in at Eden, where we turned His Grace into a means of self-righteousness.

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (Genesis 3:16, 17 KJV)

In addition to the folly of trying to cover themselves after sin, they were unable to comprehend God's Grace, seeing his pronouncements to them (Eve's labor and Adam's work) as punishment or worse, a means to re-enter His favor. Their progeny, the children of Israel, after centuries of captivity and doubt-ridden desert experience, likewise failed to immerse themselves in God's deliverance. Rather, they promised to obey. Though God was there to renew His promises, those made to Abraham; their lack of trust compelled them to cast out Isaac instead of Ishmael and they made their pledge to God instead of receiving His to them.

Has anything changed? Though God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son..., we still want to see proof, signs and evidence, looking for "fruit" instead of the experience of faith. Children, the fruit of the Spirit is not to be striven for, it is to be experienced. It is not a litmus test or even a sign post. Jesus himself twice said, a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign (Matthew 16:4 and Matthew 12:39).

Yet, we are powerless to change this proclivity, this most debilitating sin that so easily besets us. However, Hallelujah, the keys Jesus claimed at Calvary unlock this self-locking mechanism too and indeed destroy it when we believe.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 29, 2013

Who Are You, Really?

There is a Greek aphorism, so significant, it was inscribed on the temple of Apollo at Delphi and recorded in the Suda, an ancient encyclopedia of Greek knowledge, which translated to English reads "know thyself." It is said to have been a warning for any who would regard themselves too highly, especially those with accomplishment attributed to them. In Hamlet, the advice Polonius gave to his son Laertes before the younger was to depart is similar: "This above all, to thine ownself be true and it must follow as the night to day, thou canst not then be false to any man." Paul put it this way to the church at Corinth, take heed lest you fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

I've asked myself why is it so difficult to go to the cross each morning; why I am so inclined to self-justify, why I tend toward self-righteousness? I want to see myself as improving as being changed as being able to take steps of righteousness outside of God's grace. I know that this silly meme that we so easily fall into of "with God's help" is just vanity. Yet, at this point in my experience, I don't want to need Jesus to do it for me either. I feel that because I know better, I truly ought to do better (on my own!).

One of the most moving passages of scripture to me is where Jesus describes two prayers. "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke 18:10-13 KJV) This passage often moves me to tears but I'm not the the publican, I'm the Pharisee!

If I am honest, if I'm true to myself, if I know myself, I am at enmity with God. How am I different than the father of lies?
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:12-14)

I feel the stinging rebuke of Jeremiah when he says:

The heart is deceitful above all things,And desperately wicked;Who can know it?
Do you really want to know the truth about me? No, trust me, you don't and I'm pretty sure I don't want to know the truth about you. The nature of sin is ugly, contemptible, vile, it has a putrid stench and has no mercy. Unconstrained, without the grace of God, there is no one you would fear more than me. I would betray you, I would beat you with single-minded hatred, I would scourge you, imprison and mock you, spit on you and hang you, ridicule you and watch you die without lifting a finger to help. If I did it to Jesus, why wouldn't I do it to you and more?

It's easier to self-justify than to witness the choice Jesus made in Gethsemane to become sin for me. My self-righteousness doesn't want him to do that; maybe for you but not for me! It's easier to see sin in someone else and to be critical than to watch Jesus be beaten as he accepts my guilt. It's easier to tout my knowledge of righteousness by faith than to see Jesus violently pinned to a cross because of my selfishness. I can lead a discussion and show others the merits of Calvary but I can't watch him bear my shame because by then, it breaks my heart.

Who am I that He considers me, that he would visit me?  For he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust. So as much as I object to going to the cross, once I have been there, Jesus' love trumps my sinful nature, my selfishness and his cross, his righteousness, covers me and it gives me peace. It is then that I know that even though I will arrogantly and foolishly try to assert my independence, he who began a good work in me will finish what he started. So, despite my sinful nature, I rejoice.  Because now, through the Holy Spirit, Christ in me, is the hope of glory.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

How Can We Stand? - Pastor Furman Fordham II

Society is changing at, what for me is, an almost overwhelming pace and not in salubrious ways. As the real is forsaken at a shocking rate, the counterfeit rises and is accepted alongside; "gay marriage?" Violence is everywhere, so much so that even churches have created ministries to protect leadership, members and resources. Media sources we consume at home and elsewhere are full of hauntingly supernatural themes and promotion. Unemployment and labor force participation levels, especially in the black community, are at sustained depression levels and food stamp usage is at all time high, with two new recipients joining the total with each net new job added to payrolls. Economies foreign and domestic are collapsing. Once great cities are bankrupt and communities appear to be increasingly divided. One gets the sense that we are inexorably headed toward societal collapse with nothing in place to stop the inertia.

Jeremiah 30:5-7 describes the time of "Jacob's trouble:"

“For thus says the Lord:
‘We have heard a voice of trembling,
Of fear, and not of peace.
Ask now, and see,
Whether a man is ever in labor with child?
So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins
Like a woman in labor,
And all faces turned pale?
Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble,
But he shall be saved out of it.
Pastor Fordam asks and answers, "How Can We Stand?"

Be blessed!