I guess I should interject here that this is not my autobiography, just a blog to highlight various spiritual encounters that shaped who I would later become. The 1970’s was a blessed decade for me. The emergence of what was termed “The Charismatic Movement” gave me an opportunity to see the Holy Spirit in operation outside of what I was raised to believe was only in my own denominational boundaries. It also gave me an opportunity to perfect my teaching gift outside of my racial and denominational restrictions.
By the mid-seventies I felt like a yo-yo pulled on a double string in opposite directions. In the Black church I was becoming popular as a keyboard player with Gospel music and in mostly Caucasian churches a developing bible teacher around the country. In fact, at times I felt like I had a double identity. A “superman” complex began to emerge. As “Clark Kent” I served as a musician and as my alter ego, I was becoming a gifted teacher. Ultimately what should I do? How could I balance music and ministry? Was there a balance or should I replace one for the other?
I have to confess here that it was my “Charismatic” worship experiences that began to put my spiritual gifting in perspective. So as I traveled around the world with various “Charismatic Teachers” of the day and increased my personal and professional bible study, a new man was emerging. While at the same time I was serving various ministry functions within the Black church. It was during this season, my ministry developed from imitating preaching styles I was accustomed to – to initiating a unique teaching style of my own.
This is Part 9 of the series “My Personal Journey”
Today marks the official memorial of my first public sermon, July 28, 1963. My first sermon title was “Saved by Hope – Romans 8:24-25. Although I have had a media library for the last 30 years, I haven’t been one to log my sermons, so I couldn’t tell you how many sermons or lessons I taught over the last fifty years. For me the point is not how many, but how many have been effective and productive.
You see when I finally did get my GED in the military and got to my first bible college experience, I failed “Homiletics.” My professors tried to get me to write my sermons out and I wanted to just talk them out. When I started in the ministry I was under the impression, “You just open your mouth and God would speak for you.” However, I did learn structure in college and eventually how to outline my sermons.
However, my journey is just that. My journey. Of course with the triumphs there were many mistakes and failures along the way. That is the beauty of survival and longevity in ministry. You learn from mistakes, repent and move on to teach others the wisdom you learned, if you learned and they will listen.
I discern that at some point, we have to stop going outside the present Church and starting new churches. We have to step back and stop reinventing and start maintaining. Churches are not man-made but God-given, and they are God-given through an actual historical tradition of faith and order. In fact, The real Church is hidden under, a mass of social, cultural and theological debris. To rediscover this ‘one true church’,which is there in all the three traditions of the Church, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant, one must bathe in scripture, prayer, and tolerance for other expressions of worship pursing toward the same goal.
We need a new breed of worship leaders that understand the mandate of prayer and praise. New leaders who are not making news headlines, but delivering the Good News of the kingdom; Honest leaders that will take the time to sanctify themselves to and for God in this hour; Charismatic leaders that are not just speaking for God (prophets) but speaking to God (priests) regarding the sins of nations, governments, societies, and churches. Leaders that will propel us into the future with a healthy perspective of lessons from the past. Finally, we need true intercession in this hour, warfare prayer that restores and refreshes the supernatural power of God in the earth. Not by a troop of gossiping prayer bands, but a worship leader who can both discern and command the conflict and calm the storms of life.
The pattern of worship is (Spirit and Truth). We must journey between the visible to the invisible and back again. In other words, our worship must invoke the presence of God as we assure ourselves that our prayer language is reaching the Throne Room. We really can’t have one without the other. The Holy Spirit is activated by the personification of Truth in the person and work of Jesus Christ. What we know has to supersede what we comprehend with our human senses. That is the problem, many of us are trapped in traditions that were never fully explained or validated as scriptural or biblical. But it is because we don’t take the time to study and research for ourselves. So in an effort to release one from the visible reality to an invisible reality of a image of God’s Glory; and then transporting them on a faith-walk imprinting the presence of God in one’s mind. We have gotten so accustomed to physical structures that reflect worship (i.e. tabernacles, temples, sanctuaries, and churches); we then mark time and space to capture the Glory, we are in essence lost in our own inventions. So between our own selfish natures and demonic influences we are struggling to maintain a worship atmosphere. An atmosphere of power that must propel us beyond icons and monuments that trap us into the now; to the freshness of God’s Glory filling the earth with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit.
When I researched what we term, “The early or primitive church,” I was amazed at the amount of cautions and warnings regarding false teachers. They were constantly commanded to guard their faith and salvation. We are also challenged to build ourselves up through prayer and discernment. Jude v20, “but you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit” (Net Bible). Jude v3 suggests that we should contend for the Faith – this means we should fight, question, and stand firm against heresies that arise in opposition to the faith of the Church. Jude states, “ Dear friends, although I was eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write to you and urge you to continue your vigorous defense of the faith that was passed down to the saints once and for all.” (ISV) The Apostles expected believers to be able to discipline themselves in doctrine and maintain strong Christian values. However, it became evident quickly that this was not going to happen without teachers and prophets (Acts 13:1). The lack of strong Christian conviction continues today. We can not make people confess what they don’t believe, and we can not live what we don’t confess. I believe the defense today should not be on the principle of sin, but the activity of sin, not by sinners , but by believers.
Oddly stated, but profoundly true when we view the development of Christian thought and practice. A lot of what we accept or believe is not a sole background of scripture, but a combination of traditional history and acceptable scripture. In today’s social climate the relationship between Scripture and tradition clash with our need to defend individual liberties. But neither can be studied in isolation. They interact with one another if only through a third party: the church visible. It might help to define the two terms. The term, scripture refers to the canonical writings of both testaments. “Tradition”, most times, refer solely to extra-scriptural or even un-scriptural traditions. But tradition is needed to supplement what we know about Scripture, to provide historical teaching not found in Scripture. Apostolic tradition as a supplement to Scripture was a constant guide to Christian lifestyles very early in church history. However, theologians were slow to defend beliefs which they acknowledged not to be in Scripture. Most Christian can’t comprehend the relationship between Tradition and Scripture today. Even though, all religious groups have some form of tradition. No matter how liberal a group tries to alienate itself from the modern church, they still have some authority structure, some standards of what is and is not “Christian.”
Doctrinal differences and not doctrinal clarity are what define the diversity in the Protestant community. Along with that, what started out in the 1500s as an attack on the organized church to reform its practices and return to the scriptures, has in fact become a rebellion. So I ask who then can properly interpret scripture and bring truth to light? Over 600 years ago, the Protestant Reformation cried foul and offered every person the opportunity to read the scriptures for themselves and do their own interpretation. They suggested the bible be printed in the language of the people and let it be the sole interpreter of itself. What a disaster this has been. Countless messiahs and numerous cults later, the problems still have not been solved. Jesus stated when he returns will He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8). I wonder does this means faith in God or faith in one another?
When 120 people emerged from a secret prayer meeting and announced a new move of God, and converted over 3,000, it was not received with great elation. In fact, persecution, discord, and confusion of the new Faith began immediately. Although miracles were common and the Apostles were charismatic, culture, religion, and government has hindered the growth of the church. If judgment is going to begin with God’s house, then we are viewing the beginning of the end. Fallen leaders and spiritually bankrupt churches are a constant reminder that something is out of sync. Is it God not caring or the church not commanding? Revival is needed.
The issue of marriage today is whether we define it as a Christian Rite or a civil right.To Christians marriage is viewed as sacred. We view it as an honor and commitment not just a privilege. As the world sees it, it is just another step of acceptance of civil rights. It is basically a means by which they can express their celebration and vindication of who they are apart from God.