Thursday, May 31, 2007

Case Study

Well it seems that every time I begin the post on why we should hold onto Scripture alone as the only authoritative voice of the living God something else comes up. The latest is a post on brother Keith Tolbert’s blog ‘In Submission To Sovereignty’. I strongly suggest you click on the link and read the entire article. Brother Keith came across a website called and was quite disturbed (as he should have been) when he read the site’s ‘about page’. According to the site owner a Mr. Alphonse D. Matthews, the blackchurchpage exists because “'God implanted into the spirit of Alphonse D. Matthews long ago that the answers to the socio-economic problems that exist with The African American community are within the African American church. The answers to unemployment, wealth creation, education, poverty, drug abuse all are within the walls of the African American church.'

Upon reading the brother Keith rightly contacted the brother to question this twisting of the mission of God’s church (black, white or otherwise).

Brother Keith ended the post with this insightful paragraph “I think you would be hard pressed to confirm anywhere in Scripture where the goal of the church has been to remedy 'unemployment, wealth creation, education poverty' and 'drug abuse'. The clear purpose of the church, biblically, is to train God's people in holiness and righteousness and to facilitate their maturing in Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. Success in these areas will necessarily lead to a Christ-like response to the problems you have cited.”

Brother Keith’s contention is clear. Despite what you may believe God told you, He has already clearly laid out the mission for His church in Scripture. Therefore since the church and all who would claim to be within her must submit to her Lord no one can just arbitrarily decide to change the church’s mission. The issue isn’t what you think God told you, but what He’s already told the church in Scripture.

Here is Mr. Matthews’ reply: “I appreciate you sharing your viewpoint, however with all due respect this is misdirected. Unless your view is one of I am either lying on God, or I am mistaken about what He shared with me...You would have to take this up with God as to why He gave me this information. (my italics)
If you do feel that I am lying, or that I am mistaken, then you should pray me and/or this site.
But based on the fruit of this site, and where He is currently taking us, I am going to hold on to what I believe He told me.”

Notice what this brother said. First of all he claimed that all Keith did was share his own personal viewpoint. In other words the passages and biblical themes he brought forward don’t matter. Keith has a particular personal viewpoint and that’s all it is.
Second he said that if Keith believes he’s lying or mistaken then he should take that up with God. BUT HOW! If we can’t appeal to God’s word to settle the issue concerning the mission of God’s church where do we turn? I’ll tell you. We each go to our own personal, private revelations that are above questioning and not even subject to the written word of God!
Here is where the zealous conviction that God now speaks to me in personal, private and authoritative ways leads to subordinating Scripture beneath my impressions. Even if you believe Mr. Matthews convictions regarding the purpose of the church, shouldn’t he at least base them on Scripture? Or does Scripture even matter anymore?

Sadly it appears that according to this brother it simply does not.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Word from The Lord Pt. 2

Filled with fascinating stories and personal accounts, Surprised by the Voice of God is for all who want to walk in the dynamic scope of Christianity.
This inspiring and balanced look at what the Bible says about the ways God communicates will lead readers into a more intimate and effective walk with God.
What he found revolutionized his Christian walk and it can transform yours as well.

That’s how the publisher described the book ‘Surprised by the Voice of God’ and how listening for God’s voice can transform your life. I opened this dialogue regarding how God speaks by raising some issues of I have with the belief that God is constantly giving His people personal, private, ongoing revelations. My aim for this post was to outlay my convictions for holding to Scripture alone to hear God’s authoritative word for life and godliness.
But before getting into that I find it necessary to take a closer look at the descriptions of Mr. Deere’s book. I want to know why is it that books like this as well as some of those who are convinced that God still gives ongoing, personal, spontaneous, private revelation cast it in terms of providing a much more satisfying spiritual relationship with the Lord? Mr. Deere’s publisher didn’t say that he had merely discovered that God speaks outside Scripture and that this can supplement our walk with Him. No, he claimed that what Mr. Deere learned revolutionized his Christian walk and furthermore could transform ours as well! The publisher goes on to say that this book is for all who want to walk in the dynamic scope of Christianity. I ask you who wouldn’t want to walk in the dynamic scope of Christianity? Who among us would refuse to enjoy a transformed relationship with the Lord? If God is offering us a more intimate, effective life with Him gained by constantly hearing what He has to say today why go back to or stick with Scripture alone which by default only offers a more distant and ineffective way of relating to Him?
One more thought. Why is it that we crave the dynamic, fascinating and sensational? Why must the abundant Christian life always be described in terms of a summer action blockbuster movie? When did a life of faith marked by humility, brokenness, meekness and a craving for righteousness fall out of favor? Why did Paul exhort Timothy to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness instead of excitement and dynamism. Have we heeded Peter’s words and added goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love to our faith? I for one am shamed and humiliated when I read through the list of biblical characteristics that should adorn my profession in Christ but don’t.
Could it be that we want to hear another word, a new message, a fresh revelation because we really have little intention of pursuing the true life of faith declared in the ancient one?

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance

Dinner Time!

Ready for a good meal? Well you've come to the right place. The Blaque Tulip Bistro serves up some of the best the web has to offer in wholesome, organic, nutritious food with no additives or preservatives. Before you check out the menu let me advise that we offer no appetizers, light fare, or desserts. No fluff here folks. We get you straight to the main courses which are always full balanced meals that are sure to satisfy the hungry soul.
Shall we begin? Good. From our epistles menu Master Chef Reddit Andrews of Soaring Oaks PCA has just finished a scrumptious series on the book of Ephesians. Today's special features three delicious courses from the gospels. Master Chef Thabiti Anyabwile of First Baptist of Grand Cayman is serving up the gospel of Matthew, Master Chef Mike Campbell of Redeemer PCA in Jackson MS is dishing up the gospel of Mark, and Master Chef Robert Benson of Southwest Christian Fellowship in Atlanta GA is preparing a special course on the Keys of the Kingdom from the gospel of Matthew. If your appetite is leaning towards the Old Testament let me recommend Master Chef Tony Arnold of Gaithersburg Community Church who is steaming some delectable morsels from the Psalms and Master Chef Howard Brown of Christ Central Church of Charlotte N.C. busily deep frying from the book of Judges.

Of course there in no charge for any meals served at Blaque Tulip Bistro, nor is it necessary to tip the chefs. But we would appreciate it if you would listen, recommend the chefs to others and drop them a short note of encouragement.

Bon Apetite!

Pastor Lance

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Godly Life

Good seats are still available for 'The Godly Life' a Bible conference on: The Godly and the Home, The Godly and the Culture; The Godly and the Mortification of Sin and more...

The conference is being hosted by New Life Fellowship Church of Vernon Hills where the able Louis C. Love Jr. serves as the pastor and is the conference convener. This year's speakers are Rev. Anthony Carter who serves as assistant pastor for preaching and teaching at Southwest Christian Fellowship in Atlanta GA and is author of 'On Being Black and Reformed' and "Hesed: A Word Better Than Life" and Rev. Thabiti Anyabwile who serves as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman and is author of "The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors" (Crossway 2007) and " The Decline of African-American Theology: From Biblical Faithfulness to Cultural Captivity" (IVP forthcoming).

The conference takes place on June 21st and 22nd from 7:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. and June 23rd from 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon. There is no registration fee for the conference, everyone is just encouraged to show up.
Please check out the conference webpage for more information or contact the church at 847.360.1950.

You can check out the messages from last year's conference entitled 'The Knowledge of the Holy' by going to the Council of Reforming Churches website.

Hope to see you there.

Pastor Lance

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The New Evangelicals

According to a recent NY Times article a new breed of evangelical is rapidly approaching the American political landscape. Like their predecessors these evangelicals are socially conservative and tend to vote Republican. Unlike their recent forbears however these evangelicals pay attention to issues like climate change, poverty, AIDS and genocides like Darfur. The article featured a 2004 survey by John C. Green a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life. Based on his research evangelicals can be divided into three main groups: traditionalist, centrist and modernist. Traditionalist are usually labeled the Religious Right and are more apt to seek change through direct political action and intervention. Centrists which may represent the new breed of evangelical remains socially and theologically conservative but seek to avoid politics as the sole or main vehicle for cultural change. Experts (whomever they may be) agree that this segment of evangelicals are growing the fastest. One of the early signs of their potential looming significance is an interest in Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. The Times stated that according to Andy Crouch and editor at Christianity Today the new breed of evangelical is drawn to Senator Obama because he’s seen as spiritually serious even though they’re aware that he may be a liberal Christian.

The article highlights some pertinent issues among evangelicals today. For example, how should we go about our mandate to be salt and light in our culture? That metaphor used by our Lord no doubt means that we must be in vital contact with culture in order to effect it. What part does politics play in preserving or transforming culture and how much energy, time and effort should believers put into political causes? Can evangelicals have honest differences on issues like climate change and addressing poverty or are there some issues that speak clearly to our mission while others just do not?

Perhaps more importantly is how much more should evangelicals be known for our politics than our apprehension and promotion of the evangel? What implications does belief in the gospel have on our outlook and activity within our communities and culture? Should we be concerned that the culture increasingly identifies us according to our political leanings and not our theological convictions? Have we ceded the prime definition of an evangelical as one who holds to certain political convictions instead of theological ones? Would we be willing to break fellowship with someone who voted for Senator Obama while maintaining fellowship with one who votes Republican yet holds to open theism?

Lastly and by no means least is this the time for a strong and robust articulation, belief and promotion of the evangel that saves souls and glorifies God through Jesus Christ? Has the time arrived to lay a heavy stress on the gospel that points people to the age to come even as we witness in the age at hand? Can evangelicals give wide latitude in the realm of political convictions yet make it crystal clear to each other and the culture that what’s primarily at stake isn’t the overall supremacy of a particular country, but the eternal glory of God Most High who saves the souls of people who live in all countries though our Lord Jesus Christ?

To Him Who Loves Us...
Pastor Lance

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Nutter For Mayor

With the selection of democrat Michael Nutter the City of Philadelphia made history in Tuesday’s mayoral primary. No it’s not the first time an African-American was selected to represent the democrats. Both W. Wilson Goode and John Street won their respective primaries and went onto win the general election. If history holds true the same will be said of Michael Nutter. What made Nutter’s victory so significant is the percentage of the vote he got from both blacks and whites. He appears to have gotten a significant percentage of the white vote in a city that has all too often voted along racial lines in most of our past mayoral primaries. Yet, his acceptance by many whites didn’t stop him from garnering a fair percentage of black votes. But that’s not the only thing that made this particular primary noteworthy. Of the five major democratic candidates three were black and two were white. Despite that the two white candidates received about 25% of the votes cast in majority black wards.

Does this hail a new day in race relations for the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection? Maybe, maybe not. But it was refreshing to have a campaign in which the black candidates didn’t blame the city’s problems on an indifferent and distant wealthy center city (code for ‘it’s white folks fault) and the white candidates didn’t cast the cites woes on broken down dysfunctional neighborhoods (code for ‘it’s black folks fault). While I certainly don’t expect the residents of the wealthy and mainly white Chestnut Hill neighborhood to walk hand in hand with the poor and mainly black Nicetown neighborhood I do hope that all the residents of our city will continue to see our common need to work together for the good of all our neighborhoods.

Pastor Lance

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mixed Legacy

The sudden death of Rev. Jerry Falwell has already caused quite a consternation in the media and blogosphere. Many believers such as Al Mohler will laud Rev. Falwell’s accomplishments in building Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty University and the Christian Conservative Movement.

While I in no way claim to speak for all African-American believers let alone all other Christians I’d like to offer some reflections on just a few aspects of Rev. Falwell’s public life and activities.

Many of you probably know that in the early years of his ministry Rev. Falwell was a staunch segregationist. In 1958 he said “If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision [Brown v. Board of Education] would never have been made…. The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.”
Think about that statement for a moment. Rev. Falwell didn’t say that segregation was his personal preference, that this wasn’t the right time or that he just didn’t believe integration could actually work. He claimed that the Immutable, Holy, Sovereign Creator, Savior and Sustainer of the Universe had unalterably decreed perpetual racial segregation which certainly included a segregated communion table. As late as 1965, Rev. Falwell preached a message at his church denouncing the Civil Rights Movement which he at times called the Civil Wrongs Movement. I genuinely wonder how black believers felt hearing a man who claimed to preach and live by the gospel declare with absolute authority that they should remain permanent second class citizens?

Now I know for many believers today that this is uncomfortable to hear. But can we honestly talk about Rev. Falwell’s legacy without grappling with it?
Moreover, have we wrestled with how the seeds sown by Rev. Falwell and others during the Civil Rights Movement have muddied the waters of our witness today. Isn’t it possible for those who know of Rev. Falwell’s racist past to speculate that the man and movement who so emphatically claimed that permanent separation was God’s will might one day move and shift on issues like homosexuality? I’m sure many evangelicals will no doubt highlight the fact that in his later years Rev. Falwell abandoned his racist positions and thus cannot be held accountable for them. True enough, but what does it say to the culture when evangelicals speak with absolute, ironclad authority on a particular social issue in one generation only to do a 180 in the next? Can we fault them for accusing us of only using the Scriptures and religion to obtain and maintain social and political power?

Rev. Falwell was somewhat fond of using provocative rhetoric to inject himself and movement into the collective cultural consciousness. He once attributed an appearance on ABC’s Nightline to his comment that Bishop Desmond Tutu of South African was a phony. Many of his most confrontational statement are now legendary. I bring this up to highlight the whole issue of how believers are called to use speech. Even if it brings an audience and calls attention to an issue do we have the liberty to use insensitive, unwise and belligerent speech? Once more can we faithfully carry out a humble, Christ-like, biblical yet forthright witness while using and endorsing speech specifically designed and crafted to wound? How many of us listen to conservative commentators who make a living using words as daggers even though we know Scripture clearly condemns it? In a culture rife with caustic, demeaning speech should not believers lead the way in speaking on the issues and especially to and about those who oppose us with respect, dignity and kindness? Whether we like it or not Rev. Falwell has left a legacy of using speech in ungodly, unwise and unprofitable ways. We’d do well not to follow his example in this.

One more challenge that Rev. Falwell has left the believing community (and whether you want to own it or not we are all indeed in this together) is the focus on certain sins as worthy of God’s judgment. For this allow me to quote Mal. 3:5 "Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan , and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me," says the LORD of hosts.

Let me ask a question my evangelical brothers and sisters: Why is it that we’re sure and certain the homosexuals, abortionists, pornographers and the Clintons are destroying America but corporations who abuse workers, those who ignore oppress and exploit the political and economically weak and those who mistreat foreigners are given a free pass? I wonder if the Christian blogosphere will comment should the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission win its discrimination suit against Walgreens? Sadly, part of Rev. Falwell legacy is a Pharisee laced focus on sin. We seem eager and ready to condemn certain sins and at the same time stand idly by in the face of others. Could this not do damage to the witness of the gospel by implying that real sin is only found among certain lifestyles? Could this lead to others who don’t practice such things and are even against them to honestly believe that they’re okay with God because like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable they aren’t like adulterers, abortionists or even gays?

I do offer my condolences to Rev. Falwell’s wife, children church and Liberty University. Death is often unwelcome and seldom easy.
But in contemplating his legacy let’s purpose to engage our culture and especially those who may oppose us in the Lord’s spirit of grace, authentic compassion and genuine good will.

The Lord’s Peace
Pastor Lance


Monday, May 14, 2007

The Next Mayor

Tomorrow thousands of Philadelphians will go to the polls to choose the democratic and republican candidates for mayor of our city for the next four years. Being an overwhelmingly democratic city the winner of the democratic primary will in all likelihood become the next mayor. The race has thus far centered on five candidates and as of the last couple of weeks focused on the top two, Michael Nutter a former city councilman and Tom Knox a businessman.

Whoever wins this election will face a daunting task.
He will have to tackle the issues of violent crime, struggling schools, an ailing public transportation system, outdated tax code, and entrenched city corruption among others. More than that however the next mayor of the City of Brotherly Love will preside over an urban metropolis that is rapidly becoming two cities. One which is affluent, fairly safe, stable and welcoming while the other lags in poverty is extremely dangerous, precarious and foreboding.

Truly the next mayor will need our prayers.
But what else do we the people of God have to offer our city? What part ought we play in the life of our city and region? More precisely, how involved should believers become in local politics? Are you involved in the local politics of your city or county? As the church do we maintain a strict divide between the City of God and the City of Man? Should our service to the city focus only on the word and sacrament? Can we become involved in politics without being reduced to a tool of one party or another or one candidate or another? Do pastors have a responsibility to speak up and speak out on local issues that affect the city? For example, should I voice my convictions regarding gun control seeing that it is a major factor in all of the plans to reduce violent crime in Philadelphia? Do I advocate for more funds for the public transportation system? Does part of my pastoral leadership involve alerting the congregation I serve to the city’s salient political issues along with telling them my convictions about them? Does part of our witness of God’s righteousness, justice and kingdom mean that we advocate good government as far as we can see it? What happens if I and a fellow pastor differ on an important issue? Once again what if one pastor strongly advocates for gun control legislation while another does not? Are we free to pursue our positions as private citizens but not as servants of the church? Is it wise to tie our convictions to Scripture and speak as though our position is God’s definitive will? How might it look to our community if the only time we become concerned with our local politics is when we wish to have zoning laws changed to build a bigger facility?

I really would appreciate your input as myself and other pastors seek to be faithful to our witness, our Lord, His word and His church. In any event please remember to pray for Philly, our next mayor and the witness of God’s church in this city.

The Lord’s Peace
Pastor Lance

Friday, May 11, 2007

Summer Block Buster Season

The summer ‘blockbuster’ movie season is upon us. Usually that means that we’ll be treated to a slew of ‘superheroes’ who through might, cunning and bad humor will save the day, the city, the world and of course get the girl to boot. One of the attractions of the modern day movie hero is their vulnerability. They are very much like us which causes a good measure of identification. These heroes present a mixture of strength and weakness. Moreover, our modern day heroes fight against despicable evil. The bad guys in these movies are really bad guys (or aliens, mutants etc.).
What is it that draws us to movies with the same themes, plots, bad acting, contrived dialog and predictable endings? Perhaps it’s the image presented by the film regarding our concept of a champion and the nature of good and evil. The champion has qualities we all admire and hope are within us like courage, perseverance, cleverness, utter selflessness and a willingness to do what must be done. The bad guys are mere caricatures of evil who seem to gorge themselves in mayhem for the sheer joy of it without any rhyme or reason.
That said, millions of people will spend the time and money to watch modern day computer generated heroes save the day. We’ll go because these stories highlight our yearning for a genuine hero who will once and for all put and end to evil and usher in a time of peace and prosperity.

Hebrews 1 presents us such a man. Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, and exactly the kind of champion we need. Jesus graciously tells us about the great story of humanity and our relationship to our Creator. Jesus spoke on the ultimate issues of right and wrong, good and evil, justice and injustice. He taught that we belong to God and have an obligation to live up to the image in which He created us. Jesus not only taught us correctly about God He embodied the very qualities of God He spoke of. He related perfectly to the Father in just the way Adam was created to but did not. He spread the knowledge of the Father the same way Adam was commanded to but didn’t do fully. Jesus followed completely the moral laws of the Father the way that Adam and his descendents always failed to do. Jesus is the hero we need because He’s the only one who could do the necessary job to save the day, His people and the world.
For those familiar with the summer blockbuster plot you know that the movie plunders along until the great final battle between the superhero and his/her arch enemy. The hero uses a combination of strength and wit to finally defeat his adversary. Our hero however defeated His enemy through the weakness of the cross. Unlike Batman, Spiderman or Aragorn Jesus did not triumph through physical might, because our enemies were far more than mere mortals bent on taking our liberty and lives. The enemies of humanity aren’t the bad guys from the dark places of the cosmos, but the man staring back at me in the mirror. Left to ourselves we’d continue in our hopeless doomed war against our Creator and would eventually have to face Him to answer for our crimes of treason and rebellion. By God’s marvelous grace Jesus pays for our sins, rescuing us from God’s wrath and our own sinful selves.
Jesus is worth of our worship because He is the champion that humanity needs. Through His own goodness, perseverance, courage, infinite love and selfless sacrifice He wraps up the story of our lives and restores us to the image we were created to live in. The nature of this story doesn’t necessarily make for good movie making, but I can tell you from personal experience that it makes fascinating reading.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Word From The Lord?

‘Not for long’. That was the prophetic response I received upon responding to a question concerning what denomination I was with. I had gotten into a conversation with a brother who upon finding out that I was a minister began to ‘speak into my life’. For those unfamiliar with that phrase it means that someone is giving you a personal prophetic message from God. These prophetic words are meant to give you insight into God’s specific and precise plan for your particular life.

I use that as an example of how the church believes God speaks to us. It appears that more and more we’re convinced that God speaks presently, precisely and authoritatively. Now I know there’s an ongoing debate regarding if God is still speaking to His people or if He’s already spoken once for all in Scripture. What concerns me is the increasing view that God is certainly speaking, that He speaks almost all the time and that what He’s saying now to each individual believer is much more relevant than what He’s already said to the church through Scripture.

Though the battle lines concerning this important issue have already been drawn allow me to put forth a brief case for depending totally on Scripture alone to hear God’s voice, get clear direction and pursue relevant, faithful ministry. Since this will occupy at least two posts I’ll first explain my reservations with the theology behind ongoing, private, prophetic revelation.

First of all it appears that hearing God’s voice today almost wholly depends on deciphering shifting subjective inner feelings. Frankly brothers and sisters I don’t trust my feelings which are far too susceptible to deception. They are dependent upon a particular mood, what I’ve eaten, the weather, if I got a good night sleep, what kind of commute I had and if the Eagles blew a fourth quarter lead. My feelings are also far too influenced by what I really want and thus really want to hear. Did God truly tell me to do this, that or the other or did I just want to do that and waited for a particular feeling to validate it? What’s more I’m subjected to a daily barrage of media stimuli that’s hard to escape. Can I always be 100% sure without doubt that God has spoken to me through the haze of the 21st century sensory glut?

Relying on extra-revelation also puts me at the mercy of others. It can move me from trusting in Scripture and living by faith to looking to men and living by the special word. Am I really ready to base my life, my family and calling on the so-called ‘word from God’ someone thinks he had? What if he’s wrong? What if I don’t believe what he said? Would that put me in the position of rebelling against God? Should I start down that path am I bound to rely on this person’s special revelation for each and every important decision I’m called to make?

What is Scripture’s new place in an era of ongoing, specific, personal and relevant revelations? Do these revelations supersede Scripture? For example what if someone decided that God has called him into ministry apart from any type of church recognition or accountability? Is the phrase ‘God spoke to me and that’s enough’ sufficient? Can we expect to reason for the truth using Scripture or will the final answer always be ‘well God spoke to me and that’s all I know’? And if God is now speaking to people apart from Scripture is He confined to only speaking to those who’ve professed faith in Jesus Christ and if so why?

Finally, why not just rely on Scripture? Let’s face it, if Scripture was good enough for David, Jesus, Paul and Peter why isn’t it good enough for us? For now brothers and sisters let’s heed the apostle Peter, a man who indeed heard God’s voice and rely on the more sure written word of God.
By the way it’s been about four years since I was given that ‘prophetic word’ and alas I’m still a loyal (if not thrilled) TE in the PCA.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Most Segregated Hour of the Week?

11:00 is the most segregated hour of the week. But is it now? My wife and I received a gift certificate from one of those trendy bistro type places located in one of Philly’s up and coming neighborhoods. You know the kind of place where new two bedroom condos start at about $400,000.00 (and that’s not Monopoly money baby). It’s one of those neighborhoods that boasts its own Starbucks, several art galleries and the usual smattering of local pubs and brand name shops. It’s certainly the kind of neighborhood that would attract one of those cool po-mo churches with the quirky name (something like ‘The Underground Warehouse’).

Anyway Sharon and I were enjoying some much needed husband and wifey time when we both noticed how few people of color there were among the hundreds of folks milling about the area and dozens in our eatery. That’s not to say that this area is racist (we were greeted warmly and received excellent service) or that black folks aren’t welcome. But as I sat there I had to wonder why we weren’t in a more integrated setting. The area had a mostly young and presumably open minded and liberal crowd. (you know the kind that would be the first to tell you of how many black friends they had) It’s fairly close to a number of mainly black areas, is quite walkable and has all the right stores. Yet aside from us and about 3 or four other black families it was an all white setting.

Which brings me to the question again regarding self selected ethnic separation. As a society do we self separate along ethnic lines on purpose or unconsciously? Does it just shake out that way or do we in our heart of hearts simply prefer to be among our own? I ask this in light of the number of times I’ve been told that the millennial generation is much more integrated and much more comfortable with diversity than any previous generation. How can people who’ve grown up with such diversity and blast Jay-Z on their car stereos end up in exclusively white settings by their early 20’s? Do young black folks and other minorities truly value integration for the sake of integration or is it just part of the package of making it in the mainstream culture? Are we simply making nice at work and school, but when it comes down to really chillin the old adage ‘birds of a feather’ still holds sway?

My wife and I had a good time this though I couldn’t help but wonder if Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. has replaced Sunday morning at 11:00 o’clock as the most segregated hour of the week.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance

Welcome to Blaque

Riddle me this Batman? What does everyone have, is in constant use, yet rarely if ever acknowledged? Stumped yet? I’ll give you a hint: It begins with a T end with a Y and is often the cause of endless discussion, debate and distress.

Theology. That troublesome eight letter word. More and more we hear that theology is of little value, relevance and importance. Yet despite vehement denials have not having, not seeing and not recalling our theology everyone you know has and employs one. There is something we believe about Scripture (or how God communicates) God, mankind, sin, salvation, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the church, etc. These beliefs while not said affect how we think, live and relate to God here and now. The issue isn’t whether or not you have a theology, but if you have one that is biblically derived, biblically driven, God honoring and Christ-centered.

I’m sure you can tell by the title of this blog that I hold to that nettlesome and many say outdated theology commonly defined as Reformed, Covenantal or Calvinistic. I embraced biblical theology not in seminary or through listening to those who promoted it, but by God’s grace through my own study of Scripture. Upon adopting biblical theology I was finally able to get off the gospel roller coaster. Thank God I no longer lived and related to God by what I felt. Though I’m still growing and have a long way to go (as my wife will testify to) I praise God that I can grow knowing that my eternal soul isn’t in the balance. Trust me, not knowing where one stands with the Holy One of the universe who describes Himself as a consuming fire is not a comfortable feeling.

Reformed theology is biblical theology, God glorifying theology, Christ exalting theology, beautiful theology and life-saving theology. The purpose of is to reflect on how that theology impacts our lives and culture with a special emphasis on African-Americans.

So stay tuned, drop back often and join the discussion.

To Him Who Loves Us..
Pastor Lance