by Robert Earl Houston
On Sunday, July 14, 2013, I faced what most pastors faced – crowds of people that were disillusioned by the verdict rendered in the George Zimmerman case. It cannot be understated that most African-Americans feel that this was a mis-carriage of justice. And I concur – the verdict was not justice. Justice is getting what you deserve in spite of personality. He received mercy from the jury. Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
I had a sermon already prepared to preach but my congregation was hurting. Hearts were shaken and a fundamental belief that justice is blind was shaken in a way that I haven’t seen since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But I’m a pastor of a great, historic church in Frankfort, Kentucky, many miles from Sanford, Florida, but I have something to say about this – “I’m Angry.”
I want to share this sermon from this past Sunday and I hope it will at least offer a voice in the dialogue that we’ll all having, of all colors and hues, this week. I pray that we can protest without violence taking over. I pray that we remember that honoring Trayvon Martin is not done by looting and exercising violence upon the innocent bystander. God, have mercy.
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.
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.
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.
by Robert Earl Houston
NASHVILLE, TN – Tomorrow morning I will, Lord willing, stand in the pulpit of my adopted home church, Westwood Baptist Church, University Center for the sixth time in the last nine years, to preach their Church Anniversary.
Westwood holds a very special place in my heart. After almost leaving the ministry following an experience in California, pastor Barton Harris and the people of Westwood were used by God to nurse me back to health in a loving, patient and encouraging way.
I was their guest, thanks to one of their associate ministers, Minister Brian Wilkins, for their Men’s Revival for three days. Upon my arrival, I met Pastor Harris who was actually on his way out of the city to go on holiday with his wife, Carolyn. I was in the hands of his pastoral team for those days and nights and concluded on Sunday preaching at the 11 a.m. service.
When I arrived back in San Diego, I wrote Pastor Harris a thank you letter and then a few weeks later, he invited me to preach their Church Anniversary in October 2005. I agreed and then he said, “have you ever thought about moving to Nashville?” I was surprised and certainly that had never entered into my thoughts and he said that he wanted to offer me an Assistant Pastor staff position, with unique duties from other staff. I told him (it was early September when we talked) we could discuss it when I came there in October, and he said he wanted me in place by the start of their fiscal year, October 1st – so he flew me out to Nashville and we interviewed. I was offered the position and two weeks later I moved to Music City.
What an experience it was. I served at his side faithfully – taught Bible Study, Sunday School, Teachers Meeting, Staff Meetings, Director/Musician for the Men of Praise, and other areas – and it was a fresh start, a new beginning, and a learning experience. Westwood wrapped their arms around me and embraced me as one of their own. To this day, my membership remains at Westwood.
I’m looking forward to standing in that sacred place in the morning. Several members of FBC Frankfort are here now and I’m expecting many more tomorrow. I’m praying for their traveling graces and arriving mercies. There will be a lot of hugs, embraces, kind words, and quiet reflections over the people who have meant so much to me in the past and those of whom I serve at present. It’s the perfect storm of love and fellowship.
Tonight I began a three-night revival at the Second Missionary Baptist Church of Taylorsville, Kentucky where Dr. Charles Burton is the senior pastor. Taylorsville is one hour from Frankfort and me, my wife, and several members of First Baptist Church drove there via church bus for the worship.
I met Pastor Burton shortly after I came to Kentucky in 2009 at the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky annual session in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Dr. Burton is not only pastor of Second church, but he is a professor at Simmons College of Kentucky, which has a cooperative relationship with GABIK. He’s also a member of the Kentucky State Convention and Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. He’s one of the people I look forward to hanging out with at the conventions because of his personality and sense of humor. He’s a great, learned brother.
Today I preached from Romans 7:14-25, “The Tug of War on the Inside.” Three points: (a) The War is Real; (b) The War is Revealing; (c) The War is Rewarding. They were very receptive to the message. Before I preached the Choir (and they are very good) rendered “I Give Myself Away” featuring a FOUR YEAR OLD soloist. Very moving worship.
We made it home safely, thank God and now looking forward to another day’s journey.