Category Archives: Sunday Re-Cap

Sunday Re-Cap: May 19, 2013

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by Robert Earl Houston

Today was an awesome day in the Lord. Today me and the people of First Baptist Church, especially the Men of Praise Choir travelled from Frankfort, Kentucky some 90 miles to fellowship with Pastor Emmanuel Young and the people of Pleasant Hill Misisonary Baptist Church of Greensburg, KY for his Fourth Pastoral Anniversary Celebration.

I have known Pastor Young for years through the internet and when I was called to First Baptist, he was one of the first ministers to give me a call to welcome me to Kentucky. We were both called to our respective churches around the same time and we’ve worked together in several venues, notably he is a board member of the Publishing Board of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, where I serve as Chairman.

This was not the first time I’ve been in Greensburg as I was privileged to be a part of his Installation Services in 2009 and he has preached for me here in Frankfort at First Baptist Church.

IMG_6371It was an awesome, sweet day. The Men of Praise let the Lord use them and I’m godly proud of them! I preached in the 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. services and the men rendered music in both services as well. I’m not only their pastor, but I’m the Music Director for the Choir and they sang! “I’ve Got Heaven On My Mind,” “Redeemed,” “Have Your Way, Lord,” “The Prayer Song,” “Steal Away,” “It’s Good to Know Jesus,” and “You Blessed Me Lord.”

Pastor Young, his wife Michelle, and the “Young-uns” (his daughters) were so gracious and the church was very hospitable and y’all listen . . . they can cook! It was off the chain and God be praised for this day.

IMG_6372During the morning worship I preached “I’m Going to Dance Anyhow” from 2nd Samuel when King David danced out of his clothes and faced a stinging rebuke from Michal, his wife. I suggested that sometimes we can be overburdened with titles that we forget our primary purpose as worshippers.  In the Afternoon I preached, “Called to Do Impossible Things” and noted that Noah was called to build an ark when there is no mention of his credentials or gifts or abilities in building – but he had availability with the Lord.

It was a great day and I’m still a little sore in the foot, but God is good! Thank you Men of Praise, First Lady, and the FBC Family that attended. Thank you Minister C.J. Calhoun and Rev. Anna Jones, for preaching at FBC in my absence! I was glad to see one of our Vice Moderators of the General Association, Dr. Michael Rice, who came in at the latter part of the service!

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Sunday Re-Cap, March 3, 2013

IMG_4966by Robert Earl Houston

I haven’t written a re-cap in the past two months. This has been a period of transition for me and the people of First Baptist Church.

Transitions are normal in the church. When I was a young pastor in the late 1980s, I used to dread change. I, naively believed, thought that the church was a close-knit, non-changeable unit. However, I have grown to realize that since the church is an organism and not an organization, change is inevitable. Pastors change, Ministers change, Staff changes, and yes, even membership changes – by death, by relocation, by “back sliding” and a plethora of other reasons.

We are in great transition right now due to the relocation of our faithful minister of music, Minister Elijah Griffin and his family. God forever bless him for his faithfulness, loyalty and humility. He not only led our music ministry but he also led our men’s ministry in excellence. He’s hard to replace but God will raise up leadership. We’ve got our men’s ministry in capable hands of Deacon John McIntosh and we’re praying for a Minister of Music (MoM).

Worship leans a lot upon the music presentation, I admit. A good MoM is an asset to the pastor and people of a local church. Right now, I’m having to perform double duty – Senior Pastor and playing organ and keyboard for our music ministry. Temporarily, I’ve suspended our music ministry to just two choirs – The Magnificent Mass Choir and the Men of Praise, until the position is filled. I am eagerly waiting to fulfill this position. Preaching twice a day and playing is a burden.

But let me tell you what the Lord did today . . .

In spite of transition . . .
In spite of the snow . . .
In spite of building under remodeling . . .
In spite of laboring over the affects of a cold . . .

The HOLY SPIRIT came in and made His presence known. Yea, He truly is the comforter!

At 8 a.m., as we watched unexpected snow fall, we had a good 11:00 a.m. service (which will be our televised service next week). Prior to the sermon, Minister Angela Washington ministered to us with “He Was There In the Midst of It All” with the assistance of a music track.  She had no idea how that lined up with the morning message. The sermon today was “He’s In the Fire” which is found in Daniel 3. I’m doing a series of sermons about the efficacy of the companionship of the Lord in the various times of our lives. The sermon was from a thought within a sermon I heard from my home church’s pastor, Rev. J. Walter Hills, II, who preached and looked at Jesus being in the fire. That set off the discussion in the sermon. God was kind to the preacher and to the sermon.

At 11 a.m. we had a blessed time in worship. Minister Washington, who has a great connection in leading praise and worship, lead us in “Have Your Way Lord” and “He’s Able.”  We then had our fellowship period and welcoming of our guests in worship. We had about 10 visitors in worship today (God be praised) including a couple of families, one of whom were in the area for business reasons. After prayer and during the offering, the Mass Choir sang three songs: “Jesus Will Make Everything All Right,” “If You Ever Needed the Lord” and “Order my Steps.”

I then preached and the Holy Spirit did something awesome. I’m used to (and prefer having) an organ to “help me close” the message melodically. However, today there was no such accompaniment and the Lord blessed. Sometimes I think we rely (as preachers) too much on an organ to determine what makes or breaks a sermon. If the Holy Spirit is not present, you can have the best organist in the country – you can die the death of 1,000 preachers still.

The after-glow of the sermon flowed into the Invitation and then into Communion. One of my members, Deaconess Martha McIntosh started singing “I’m So Glad I’m Here” and the song then moved throughout the congregation – with just a beat of a drum (thank you Christopher Stallings) – and the praises went up, tears were flowing, and no one even realized that there was no organ nor piano. It was “church” in the old-time way.

I welcome your comments below.

Sunday Re-Cap, January 6, 2013

by Robert Earl Houston

This was one of the best Sundays I’ve ever experienced as Pastor of First Baptist Church here in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Before I discuss the service, I’m a worship leader. No doubt about it. I love to worship the Lord, but today, I re-introduced a song to the church and I believe they fell in love with the song as well. It’s an old Andraé Crouch hit, “Jesus Is The Answer.”  The lyrics are simple yet profound:

“Jesus is the answer | For the world today | Above Him there’s no other | Jesus is the Way!
Jesus is the answer | For the world today | Above Him there’s no other | Jesus is the way!”

I’ve been dropping tears all day about that song. I don’t know why but that song has really moved me today – not with sadness, but with an awesome joy.

We had one of the largest crowds today that I’ve seen at the 8 a.m. service. 11 a.m. service was very well attended. The Magnificent Mass Choir sang and we recognized birthdays as we normally do on the first Sundays. Today is the start of Loyalty Month, where we ask every member to “check in” during the month of January.

By the way, I love me some FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH!

The word was the beginning of our new sermon series, “Construction Zone” which coincides with the remodeling of the church. Today’s sermon was from Philippians 3:12-13, where Paul emphasis is on his pursuit of relationship with Christ and that he must now put things behind him and press toward the mark.” God was kind to the preaching moments.

We received two adults into the fellowship of First Baptist Church.

I met with our Associate Ministers this evening at 5 p.m.

NFL PLAYOFFS:

- The Baltimore Ravens looked playoff-ready and took out the Indianapolis Colts, 24-9.
- The Houston Texas (as expected) defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 19-13.
- Seattle Seahawks beat Washington and RG3 (knee injury), 24-14.
- Green Bay Packers easily handled the Minnesota Vikings, 24-10.

Sunday Re-Cap, December 30, 2012 (Last Sunday of the Year)

Pastor 2010by Robert Earl Houston

It is COLD outside. It’s 5:30 p.m. and right now it’s just 28 degrees outside and snow is in the forecast for New Year’s Eve. But let me tell you, we had CHURCH today at First Baptist.

Attendance was down (obviously) in both services, but the Holy Spirit showed up in a mighty way. At the 8:00 a.m. service one of my faithful sons, Minister Tyrone Roberts, brought the message, “An Answer to Trouble” (Job 13:15).  Snippet of his message:

One of my favorite things to do when I have free time is to go on Facebook. Facebook can be described as social media, where we can view the lives of others through pictures and we can read about what they are thinking and even how they feel about certain things that are going on in our world today. We can learn what a mother thinks about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or the upcoming Fiscal Cliff; and you can even find out how much snow a person received in another part of the country; or you can be like a friend of mine that stated that he would be glad to see the year 2012 come to an end. He felt this way because he had lost some friends, lost some church members, had some health challenges…had personal hurts and pains…..and many other things that have caused him difficulty in this year. How many of us have had some ups and downs…set ups…and setbacks…. Some appointments and disappointments…but turn to your neighbor and say in spite of all we are still here!!!

         In our text we meet a man named Job. Job was a man from the land of Uz. Uz was located between the city of Damascus and the Euphrates River, or the modern day border of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Job was an upright man that avoided evil at all costs.  He was a blessed man. If I were to contemporize Job; he would be like the Warren Buffet of his day. He was married, he had 7 sons and 3 daughters, Job had 7,000 sheep, and 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys.  For those of you who don’t know a lot about Job, I will give summary of the first 12 chapters.

He did a great job. Today we began offering DVDs of the services (yeah!) and we’ve invested in video and recording equipment this year as we prepare to go on local cable access television in January (Local Cable channel 10) and his sermon was the first mass-produced under our new system. Turned out very, very well.

I do something here that my father in the ministry, the late Dr. A. B. Devers, I used to do with us. After every sermon that the Associate Ministers preach, we do a “skull session” in where we peer critique the sermon. I think peer review has a great value in building up preachers.

Sunday School was filled with a great discussion about Ephesians 4 and the role of husbands/wives. I happen to teach the Married Couples class and it was a very interesting discussion to say the least.

At 11:00 a.m. the service was probably one of the most different services we’ve had in a long, long time. And that’s a good thing. We deviated from the normal order of worship and when we did the Holy Spirit did something awesome. We had testimonial period and one of the sisters said “The Holy Spirit told me to come ‘home.’” That led to us extending the invitation to Christ mid-way through service and one male joined the church. After the music by the Magnificent Mass Choir (who lifted us up with one of my favorite song, Charles Jenkins’ “Awesome”) it was preaching time.

I ended the year by preaching from John 8:10-11 and the conclusion of Jesus’ interaction with the woman caught in adultery. I was struck by Jesus’ compassionate alternate to the trifling accusations of the Scribes and Pharisees. Not that Jesus condones sin, but he offers Himself as the remedy to sin AND proves to us that His forgiveness of sin should draw us closer to Him. The woman didn’t go back into the arms of her lover. She did not run out and find another man. She ran into the arms of Jesus – and at the end of the story all was left was her and Jesus!

I used a story that Melvin Von Wade, Sr. tells across the country (most recently on the must-read blog by H.B. Charles, Jr.): However, I want to be in the hands of Jesus. One of my preaching mentors was Dr. Melvin Von Wade, Sr. of Los Angeles, California and his mother, Mama Wade, would tell him as a little boy, son I don’t trust nobody but me and Jesus. Well, Mother Wade is now in her mid-90s and she called her son up one day and said, Melvin, I have an update. You remember how I use to tell you that I trust nobody but me and Jesus. Well, I have an update. I trust nobody but Jesus.

God then sent TWO MORE MEN to unite with First Baptist Church. It was awesome. God be praised!!!! And of course we had those who came forward for prayer. Thank you Lord for a great year and a great day.

NFL UPDATES . . .

- Andy Reid was fired (actually the decision made on Friday) as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Tampa Bay defeats Atlanta. Season over for T.B. and ATL starts prep for post-season.
- Buffalo beats the Jets. My grandmama could beat the Jets.
- Cincinnati beats Baltimore. Impressive season by the Bengals, playoff bound.
- Chicago beats Detroit and needs Green Bay to beat Minnesota. May be a long off-season at this point.
- Indianapolis beats Houston. Both teams in the playoffs.
- Carolina plays New Orleans – who cares?
- Giants beats Philly and still is eliminated for the playoffs.
- Pittsburgh beats Cleveland – look for the Browns to contend next year, not this year, next year, not this year . . .
- Other games are at the half.

Sunday Re-Cap, December 16, 2012

Minister C.J. Calhoun and his mom, Sis. Varita Griffin with me at the Christmas Program.

Minister C.J. Calhoun and his mom, Sis. Varita Griffin with me at the Christmas Program.

by Robert Earl Houston

This has been a rough week for our nation. Any pastor in his or her right mind will tell you that when a week has been difficult for the congregation that the pulpit is not exempt. That was the case as we can say “we survived” the week’s news of shootings in Connecticut, Chicago, California, and other places across the nation. The Holy Spirit allowed us an exceptional weekend with him.

We had four rows of pews sectioned off in the rear of the church due to the remodeling project. We have three floor to ceiling pillars in anticipation to the work that will be starting this week. Our Construction team has been able to work Monday-Friday and restore the sanctuary as best as possible for Sunday morning.

The 8:00 a.m. service has really taken off. The numbers are becoming more and more consistent and we always receive a lot of positive feedback about the service. In my youth, my home church had an early service and the Associate Ministers preached the service and on a good day there may have been 20 people present. This service is very different for one reason – at my home church the pastor never preached the service. In this service, the pastor preaches most of the time.

And what a service it was. We sang congregational hymns and prepared for the Word. I preached from last week’s text (imagine that) – Matthew 2:16. In ight of the circumstances of the shootings, I preached the question “Why?” In the sermon I tried to crawl into the mind of Herod, a similar murderer of children. I suggested that the reason why there is evil in the world is simply – sin. Secondly, I suggested that both Herod and the Connecticut shooter utilized “sin-plus” – sin on top of sin in order to justify actions. Lastly, Herod failed to get close to Jesus. However, for somebody this is your opportunity, your chance, your privilege to come to Jesus. It was a very well received word.

Deacon J.D. Smith kicked off my Sunday School class, the Married Couples class and we had a good turnout! I was very pleased with it. Then at 11 a.m., Praise and Worship flowed as Minister Sheniqua Roberts led us in “God’s Amazing Grace” and then took us into what has become our official church song, Professor Patrick Bradley’s “I Know Something About God’s Grace.” That song brought tears to my eyes. Praise God.

The Men of Praise choir sang us happy with “I Can’t Help Myself I’ve Got to Praise Him” (my arrangement) and “Jesus, O What a Wonderful Child.” However, my voice was not like it was at 8 a.m., but the Lord was the kind. The congregation was very responsive.

Today the church blessed me with love gifts for Christmas and what a tremendous blessing they continue to be to me and my family. I’m humbly grateful to serve as their soul-watcher.

At 5:00 p.m. we gathered for a unique Christmas experience that was completely driven by the men of the Church. We heard music by Deacon James Jacobs, Deacon Alonzo McCoy, Minister Timothy Taylor, Deacon Bill Jones & Company, Minister C.J. Calhoun, the Men of Praise, and a reading by Deacon Carroll Young. Praise God for the night!

On to the NFL HIGHLIGHTS . . .

- Cincinnati beat Philadelphia. Who couldn’t? Their season is done.
- Atlanta blew out NY Giants. They’re playoff ready.
- Denver ran all over Baltimore. See above game – Manning is a beast!
- Green Bay beat Chicago – Alex and Company do it again. Chicago’s ready for a coaching change.
- Washington beat Cleveland – The Redskins are for real. I wonder what team the backup QB will be leading next year?
- Miami wins the Florida Bowl vs. Jacksonville – but who cares?
- New Orleans demolished Tampa Bay – was never close.
- Minnesota beat St. Louis – both teams will be at home in January.
- Arizona beats Detroit – see Minnesota vs. St. Louis.
- Seattle smashes Buffalo – this is animal abuse.
- Carolina sends San Diego packing – or should I say their coach packing?
- Dallas wins! That’s all you need to know!!!!
- Oakland . . . who cares?
- New England ran out of gas vs. San Francisco.

Sunday Re-Cap (on Tuesday), December 2, 2012

Houston2007-009by Robert Earl Houston

We’ve had some great Sundays and this is not hyperbole, this was the best Sunday since I’ve been in Frankfort.  The weather was cloudy, then rainy but the temperature in worship was HOT.

It started at 8 a.m. service which was one of the largest since we started the service. I couldn’t help wondering if the 11 a.m. service was going to be light due to all those in attendance, but the atmosphere was pure worship. We baptized a young adult male which I know brought joy to his mom and dad that were in attendance (more on that coming).  Minister Sheniqua Roberts set the tone for the sermon by singing, “Because He Lives.” I preached from Matthew 2 and talked about “Herod Wants To Kill Your Child.” It was probably one of the best sermons I’ve preached at First Baptist in three and a half years. I’ve been getting away from preaching “points” in a sermon. I’ve just been rolling through the text in expository fashion and I don’t think it requires set aside points. One of the preachers I’ve enjoyed through the years has been Dr. Warren Wiersbe and I don’t recall him ever using a focus point. He just exposes the text!

During the sermon I talked about Herod’s demands that the Wisemen go find Jesus so he may worship him (although he wanted him dead) and I suggested never have someone send you to worship – tell them they need to worship the Lord for themselves. Then I talked about their finding the child (not the baby) Jesus (not in a manger) and how they worshiped Him (commercial break: He is worthy of worship), and how they laid gifts upon him from their substance. Finally, I focused in on the Holy Spirit’s work on the lives of Joseph and the Wisemen and then on “gold, frankincense and myrrh.” It was a very spirited message and one that will live on in the lives of believers. The mother of the young man that I baptized united with the church! Communion was very spiritual and emotional. We ran over time but no one seemed to mind.

At 11:00 a.m. the Magnificent Mass Choir sang songs from their weekend long workshop and blew our socks off. The Lord blessed with two KSU college students joining under watchcare. And just like 8 a.m., the worship experience was high energy and communion was absolutely, in the words of my friend, Rev. Michael Robinson, “bananas.”  Last week the men sang Dr. Patrick Bradley’s song, “I know something about God’s grace” and we sang it during communion and how this song ministered to our souls was incredible. We wound up taking a praise break after communion – it was dancing, shouting and rejoicing!  I came home and fell out “under the bed.” Wiped out from a very good and productive morning.

At 5:00 p.m., my wife and I blessed our Sons and Daughters of the Ministry with a Christmas Fellowship. The catered food was off the chain: Turkey, smothered pork chops, greens, mac-n-cheese, green beans, cake, punch, water, and it went on and on. We walked in and we waddled out! (smile). I appreciate the men and women of the church that have submitted themselves to pastoral leadership in their preaching ministries and we sat around, talked, shared, and I believe, grew even closer in the Lord. I went home feeling really good about them as a group and the church in general. God gets all of the glory and praise.

Football? Didn’t see a game. Too wiped out.

BCS – only heard that Notre Dame and Alabama will be playing for the title. Should be a good game. Need to find out how Oregon and Oregon State faired.

Sunday Night Re-Cap, November 25, 2012

by Robert Earl Houston

What a weekend this has been. This has been one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember and it all started with the people that I love dearly – the First Baptist Church family for our annual Thanksgiving Day service. The service went very well and I’m thinking that next year I’m going to try moving it to the day before Thanksgiving. With all of the cooking activities that take place on Thursday morning and the new Thanksgiving day holiday of shopping, I may need to make adjustments. Anyway, the service was good and the Lord led me to preach, “That’s One Crowd I Don’t Want To Be a Part Of” which examined the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus and the sole one that came back to offer thanks and worship. Very appropriate for the day.

For Thanksgiving we feasted on Fried Turkey, Corn pudding, scalloped potatoes, green beans, cornbread dressing, sweet potato pie and the works. I ate in moderation. And I must admit, Jessica earned her chef’s hat this year! Way to go baby, way to go! Then the rest of the day was football until I passed out.

On Friday night, Jessica and I drove to Louisville for a scheduled program by the Messengers of Christ at Hill Street Baptist Church which, unbeknownst to us, had been cancelled at the last minute. So we took the night to have dinner at Cheddar’s Restaurant over the bridge in Indiana and then returned to our hotel room at the Galt House, which was filled with families that were in the area for the annual Light Festival. A good night indeed. I’ve learned as a pastor that things happen, programs cancel and we don’t always know the whys and wherefores, but God is still good.

We returned home on Saturday morning in time for the Men of Praise rehearsal. Many of the guys are out due to the holiday but those who were there, we pressed on, and actually we had one of the best rehearsals I can remember and there was a period of “male bonding” that is unique to the black experience that took place afterwards. We just sat there and talked – from sports, to shopping, to relationships, to you name it. It was a great time and rather than to hurry them out, we just let this happen. Sometimes, the best pastor is not the one who preaches but the one who can listen.

Sunday morning we had cancelled early morning service and I guess the word didn’t get completely out. For those who don’t know, I live RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the church, and my doorbell rang several times with parishioners who didn’t get the word about cancellation. They took it in good stride – that’s the one thing about have 99% of your congregation within city limits.

We concluded the Book of Hebrews in Sunday School and Deacon Zenas English taught our combined class. We had a great discussion and I appreciate his insights on the text. Kudos!!!

At 11:00 a.m., the people gathered slowly and by the time of the sermon, we had a very decent crowd. The Men of Praise SANG their hearts out. That number was affected by the holidays, but as I mentioned earlier, they were pitch perfect! They sang “Faithful is our God” and a new song I taught on Saturday by my friend, Dr. Patrick Bradley, “I Know There Is Something About God’s Grace” that the congregation picked up and welcomed immediately. God be praised for the men!

I preached on “SCANDAL” based on John 8′s description of the scandal of the woman caught in adultery. Several things caught my eye: First, Jesus was teaching and then interrupted by this scandal by his nemesis, the Scribes and the Pharisees; Secondly, when they accused her, Jesus went silent and wrote in the dirt. I suggested that it could have been words of praise because the accusations ceased;  Thirdly, Jesus dismissed them by saying “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and the only one qualified to do so was Jesus himself. Instead of condemnation, He pardoned – just as He does in our lives.

God be praised for one young adult brother joining the church under restoration.  It was a good day.

POLITICS:

Now that the election is over – what is with the looney part of the GOP with their asinine insistances since the election???  It reminds me of the character Marvin Martian who is always trying to blow up something and they are literally out of their minds.  Look at their stupidity:

a.  “Obama Stole the Election” – uh huh.  Ever heard of a court case called Gore v. Bush ????

b.  “Obama Wasn’t Eligible” – the birther wing led by Alan Keyes, Orly Taitz, WND and fools of that ilk have turned “Birtherism” into a cash cow. They disparage the President, look for conspiracies and “-gates” and are doing more harm to the country than good – oh and by the way Orly and WND and Sheriff Joe are ALWAYS begging for money but never produce a spreadsheet to see where their contributions go. Hmm . . .

c.  “Let’s Secede” – OK, let me see – 25,000 people in Texas sign an electronic petition. There are over 25,000,000 people who live there that mean 1/100 of 1 percent have signed this foolish petition. Idiots . . . They can secede, just pay your portion of the Federal Debt, give us back all of our highways, bridges, airports, colleges, Federal Aid, and we’ll be glad to oblige.

Man, I must really need some coffee.

FOOTBALL:

There were a lot of great games over the holidays. I’m saddened that Oregon won’t be playing for the national championship but they’ve got to stop playing Portland State and The College of Pharmacy and schedule some serious games in the future. Methinks it would be wise for the Ducks to schedule 2 non-conference games a year – one against the SEC and the other against Big 12 or another major conference or Notre Dame.

On the Cowboys front. This season is over. Stick a fork in it. We could have traded Romo for the pick to get RG3. He humiliated the Cowboys. Great Stadium. Great Venue. Horrible team.

Sunday Night Re-Cap, November 18, 2012

by Robert Earl Houston

This was an extraordinary day. The temperature is dropping. We are slowing making the transition from fall into winter. The trees are shedding their green leaves and Thanksgiving is just a few days away.

We had a great crowd today during our 8 a.m. service as we gathered for not just worship but to hear our newest associate minister, Sister Angela Washington, preach her first public sermon. 34 years ago we would call that a “trial sermon” – however times have changed. Worship began with the hymn written by Kenneth Morris, “Christ Is All.” I’ve loved this hymn since I heard it when I was child. Later in the service Minister Washington blessed us tremendously with the sermon, “An Epiphany of Faith.” She closed with a memorable illustration about a frog who got out of a pit in a land of frogs, even though the odds and fellow frogs were against it. I was truly proud of her. She labored well over the sermon and I heard some “Houstonisms” in her presentation, which made my chest stick out like a proud father in the ministry.

After teaching Sunday School (and what a great lesson it was on Hebrews 12) it was time for our 11 a.m. service. The crowd was down due to a shift in those who attended 8 a.m. but by preaching time, we had a nice crowd in attendance. The Gospel Choir really sang and they never fail to give God their best. I am grateful for their music ministry. I recently purchased an iPad Mini so I preached from it for the very first time. It actually went very well although the print was smaller compared to my iPad 3.  When I preached in Cleveland earlier this year, Rev. Derek Witcher of the Israelite Missionary Baptist Church taught me how to save it as a PDF, with 24 point, and then open the document in iBooks, so that the pages would go back and forth like a book.

Today’s sermon was “How to Survive the Holidays” gleaned from Ephesians 4:26-27. I shared with the congregation that this time of the year is like a powderkeg in many of our homes because of the stressors of the holidays. Due to all of this stress, we find ourselves doing and saying some ugly things during the holidays, however, Paul gives us some needed prescriptions to this malady:

I.  Be Ye Angry and Sin Not
II. Let Not the Sun Go Down Upon Your Wrath
III. Neither Give Place to the Devil

God was exceptionally kind to us in this sermon and for the first time in about three months, a young man united with the church for baptism. I couldn’t help to remember the prophecy given by Dr. Kilen Gray when he preached for us a few days ago that God was getting ready to take us to another level and I feel that today was the down payment. To God be the Glory.

A few of us gathered this afternoon for corporate prayer at 5 p.m. and that was a beautiful end to a great, great day.

AND NOW IN THE WORLD OF SPORTS . . .

The Oregon Ducks were the number one team in the nation – for about 45 minutes. It was a terrible loss at home in Eugene, Oregon and the shock of the game on the students’ faces told the story. They need a clutch kicker. He missed two opportunities to either have won or win the game for the Ducks.

I’m not into the new NBA season as of yet. I understand that the New York Knicks have been tearing up the league – but it’s all early. We’ll see after the first of the year where the league is at. Now, I’m concentrating on football.

And the NFL . . .

Buffalo 19, Miami 14 – gone are the good old days of Miami teams that could actually play in the NFL.
Atlanta 23, Arizona 19 - Good rebound for the Falcons. They’re cruising to the playoffs.
Tampa Bay 27, Carolina 21 – Not a bad overtime game. Carolina’s having a horrible season.
Dallas 23, Cleveland 20 – Could it be that Dallas may be heading to the post-season? The Browns defense was killing themselves.
Green Bay 24, Detroit 20 - Green Bay is now officially on auto-pilot. The playoffs await.
Houston 43, Jacksonville 37 – The Texans can start printing their playoff tickets. They’re in.
Cincinnati 28, Kansas City 6 - The Bengals made it look easy and KC didn’t just help, they facilitated.
NY Jets 27, St. Louis 13 - The problems are still there. They need to trade Tebow to Jacksonville.
Washington 31, Philadelphia 6 – RG3 was off the hook and it’s time to end the Reid/Vick experiment. Fire Reid and retire Vick – according to reports, his injuries are more serious than previously thought. For his own good, retire him.
New Orleans 38, Oakland 17 - Who Dat? It’s the Saints clawing their way into playoff contention.
Denver 30, San Diego 23 – One of the best rivalries in the AFC but Manning is playing like a youngster again.
New England 59, Indianapolis 24 - Embarrassing game of the day. Andrew, you had no luck and no chance.
Sunday Game: Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Monday Game: Chicago at San Francisco

Sunday Re-Cap, November 4, 2012

by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

FRANKFORT, KY – It’s another Sunday Night and all I can say is “Lord, thank you.”

Lord, thank you for an extra hour of sleep last night. Actually I feel better for some odd reason this year with this extra hour of sleep than in years past. Can’t explain it, but I just do.

Our 8 a.m. services went very well and had good attendance. We’ve had this second service now for a year and it’s been a blessing, a convenience, and a great preaching service. I have no regrets in having an early service and we’re the only African-American congregation in the area that offers an early service. It’s not a perfect service, but the service is definitely here to stay.

In both of our services we have the same emphasis – Family. First Sundays are the Sundays that we recognize birthdays, special accomplishments, etc. Also, we had a voting emphasis today and we announced the work of our local NAACP who is providing transportation to the polls. We obviously cannot endorse a Presidential Candidate, but we can provide transportation for those members who need to get to the polls on Tuesday.

Minister Sheniqua Roberts provided a musical selection during our early service and we were blessed by the presence of the Kentucky State University Gospel Ensemble at 11:00 a.m. After the service, we had a YOUNG ADULT BLOWOUT which was a full meal – pork chops, greens, mac-n-cheese, etc. with a presentation from our Sunday School and I had the opportunity to talk and eat with the young people as well. I told them that we want them to be an active part of the church. Young people are not the church of tomorrow, they are a part of the church of today!!!

The sermon (in both services) was not what I planned to preach. This morning, the Lord changed it and it was a doctrinal sermon, “What If Jesus Died of Old Age?” (1 Corinthians 1:23) (available at the Sermon Sharing Service – http://www.sermonsharingservice.com). It was a challenging message and it actually goes against what I teach about preaching – I argued against the text in a manner that made the text answer the argument.

Sermon snippet:I hope I haven’t raised your theological eyebrows too high, but I need to say, we have differences – we have denominations that won’t speak to each other; we have preachers that won’t fellowship with each other; we argue about whether women should or shouldn’t preach; we fight over moderators, state presidents, and national presidents; we argue whether over full gospel and trivialize the conversation to full gospel vs. half gospel vs. one-quarter gospel. We are all in agreement – HE DID DIE.

No matter if you wear a clergy collar or designer suit collar; If you’re called Pastor or Minister or Doctor or Bishop or Overseer or Apostle or International Bishop or Suffaragin Bishop or Saint or Father or CEO across the pulpit, we are all in agreement – HE DID DIE.

He died on a rugged cross.  His atoning death at Calvary – but willingly, deliberately, and prophetically – dying on a cross, has changed the world, changed that region, changed cities, changed groups, but most important, changed me – for it’s by the Blood of Jesus, I now have a right to the tree of life.

Our text argues for this point.  The Apostle Paul says that our preaching is not based on hyperbole.  He opens up his definitive letter to the Corinthians by establishing theological principles – and Paul says, we preach, we herald, we announce, we proclaim, we publish – the crucifixion of Christ.

But…what if Jesus had died of causes other than crucifixion?  What if  . . .

What if Jesus had died of a heart attack?
What if Jesus had died of malignant neoplasms or cancer?
What if Jesus had died of Cerebrovascular disease or stroke?
What if Jesus had died of Chronic lower respiratory disease or emphysema?
What if Jesus had died of Unintentional injuries or a camel accident on 3rd and Main Streets?
What if Jesus had died of Diabetes mellitus or sugar?
What if Jesus had died of Influenza and pneumonia or the flu?
What if Jesus had died of Alzheimer’s Disease or senility?
What if Jesus had died of Nephritis and Nephrosis or kidney disease?
What if Jesus had died of Septicemia or systematic infection?
What if Jesus had died of Intentional self-harm or suicide?
What if Jesus had died of Chronic Cirrhosis or liver disease?
What if Jesus had died of Essential Hypertension or High Blood Pressure?
What if Jesus had died of Homicide or murder in the street?


God was kind to this preacher and to the congregation to whom the sermon was preached. We served the Lord’s Supper in both services and for the first time we had a pre-communion hymn which allowed some reflection time and some time for me to be prepared as well to serve. It went very well. I have a great reverence for the Lord’s Supper and I’m grateful for the Sons and Daughters of the ministry for their assistance along with our faithful deacons. This time of the year, our Deacons and Ministers are dressed in black suits, black shirts, and white ties/scarfs.  Very good looking indeed.

This evening at 5 p.m. was our monthly Ministers Meeting and I personally look forward to this time of impartation and ministry, and yes, even some smiles and humor. I use articles that were originally published by Leadership Journal as a basis for our class and tonight, we discussed “The Patented Preacher” an article written by Dr. Warren Wiersbe (one of my favorite writers and preachers). The lesson was really about being yourself in ministry, discovering who you are.  You could boil his lesson down to five points: (1) Avoid comparisons; (2) We are not in competition with any who preach the gospel; (3) We lose much by pampering ourselves; (4) If God has called you, then He has given you what you need to do the job; and, finally, (5) Give yourself time to discover and develop your gift.

I have a lot of love for these young preachers and I’m always praying that God will take them beyond what I’ve been able to experience in ministry and make a meaningful difference in ministry.

And now, the N-F-L, the National Football League.

But before I do, how about those OREGON DUCKS who historically defeated the U.S.C. Trojans. Oregon in their winter white, ran through the Trojan defense and by the end of the night, defeated them 62-51. Then the OREGON STATE BEAVERS knocked down the Arizona State team, 36-26.  Both teams deserve to be in the top 10 in the nation, and the Ducks should be ranked # 1 or # 2.  Sadly, Joker Philipps was dismissed today by the University of Kentucky – it’s been a dismal season for them and this move was not unexpected. And the Portland Trailblazers (2-1) look impressive. Damian Lillard is the real deal.

Denver 31, Cincinnati 23 – Uh oh, Peyton Manning is starting to flow in Denver. Could make the AFC West very interesting.
Baltimore 25, Cleveland 15 - The world is right again. The Browns are back to their losing ways.
Green Bay 31, Arizona 17 - Green Bay is a well oiled machine and that running game is off the chain (go Alex Green!).
Chicago 51, Tennessee 20 - Please don’t allow children to watch this game. This was worse than “Halloween 2.”
Indianapolis 23, Miami 20 - Andrew Luck is proving himself week after week. No NFL title this year, but you’re on the list for the future.
Carolina 21, Washington 13 – Two QBs with Heismans should hang out in the off season because both of your teams aren’t going to the dance.
Detroit 31, Jacksonville 14 - Did anybody even bother to watch this game? Jacksonville may trade for Tebow.
Houston 21, Buffalo 9 - The game was close in the first half, second half was a blow-out.
Tampa Bay 42, Oakland 32 - See the Carolina-Washington game. These are second level teams at best.
Seattle 30, Minnesota 20 - The Seahawks can’t lose at home. The problem is only half of their games are at home.
Pittsburgh 24, NY Giants 20 - This game was all Steelers – uhm, in the 4th Quarter.
San Diego 31, Kansas City 13 - See the Carolina-Washington game. These are second level teams at best.
Dallas at Atlanta. Cowboys by 3.

Sunday Re-Cap, October 28, 2012 (on Monday, October 29, 2012)

by Robert Earl Houston

The big news today (Sunday) is Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy is slowly creeping up the coastline of the eastern United States after terrorizing the Caribbean. Sandy has dominated the airwaves, thrown our political process on hold, and is on our minds. We’re praying for all those who Sandy will affect – including those of us in Kentucky, who are now (Monday) experiencing high winds and clouds. Should be a very interesting week ahead.

On Sunday, we joined with my home church, Westwood Baptist Church, University Center, Minister Barton Elliot Harris, Senior Pastor, as they celebrated their 90th Church Anniversary. Church was filled to capacity and we were blessed by the Praise and Worship led by Minister Derrick Lamont Smith. A portion of the Magnificent Mass Choir lifted their hearts in praise by singing, “Clap Your Hands” and “Awesome.”  I was introduced by my dear friend, Minister Brian K. Wilkins and preached “Which Way Will You Go?” from 2 Kings 7. The Lord was kind to the preaching moment. We feasted next door at Pearl-Cohn Comprehensive High School immediately after worship and it was a great meal. Thank you Westwood for your hospitality!

Sunday evening, Jessica and I were the guests of Pastor Marvin Neal, Assistant Pastor of Westwood and his lovely wife, Sherri. We were honored to be in their new home and Sherri’s mom, Regina Prude, “cheffed us to death” with an asian combo of chicken, shrimp and beef. We are very proud of what the Lord is doing with the Neals. Praise God for His blessings!

And now, Sports . . .

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for running the table on the Detroit Tigers. It was never a contest, the Tigers were outgunned from game 1 and the Giants looked hungry for the title. Sadly, the city doesn’t know how to celebrate a victory. Rioting is asinine and stupid over a baseball game. SMH . . .

The NFL . . .

Tampa Bay 36, Minnesota 17 – did anyone remind Tampa Bay that they were not supposed to win very much this year?
Chicago 23, Carolina 22 - Here’s my suggestion Cam Newton – try getting traded to Dallas.
Cleveland 7, San Diego 6 - 2 out of 3 for the Browns? A hurricane must be approaching.
Detroit 28, Seattle 24 - Both equally matched teams, but Seattle was outcoached.
Green Bay 24, Jacksonville 15 - GB is on the tracks now. Can they run the table?
Miami 30, NY Jets 9 – What must go wrong for the Jets to put Tebow in?  The Sanchez era is over.
Atlanta 30, Philadelphia 17 - This is Atlanta’s year. Atlanta vs. Green Bay or NY Giants in the Super Bowl?
Pittsburgh 27, Washington 12 - RG3 was impressive, but the Steel Curtain is  . . .  the steel curtain.
New England 45, St. Louis 7 – New England needed a blow-out victory after the last few weeks.
Indianapolis 19, Tennessee 13 - Not a bad game and Andrew Luck needed this one.
Oakland 26, Kansas City 18 - I find the Raiders getting better and good news – they’re in the AFC West.
NY Giants 29, Dallas 24 - Cowboys showed disappointment, then heart, then disappointment. I wonder if that was the hand that Dez Bryant lifted against his mom? Note to Tony Romo: Yards passed are meaningless if you don’t win.
Denver 34, New Orleans 14 - It must be the air up there – many of the home games for the Broncos are affected by their great play and their opponent’s tiredness.
San Francisco at Arizona (Monday Night) - San Francisco by 20.

THE WIRE

by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

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