Monthly Archives: June, 2014

Vacant Church: Calvary Baptist Church, Santa Monica, CA (deadline: August 15, 2014)

Calvary Baptist Church Santa Monica

Vacant Church: Grace Baptist Church, Waterbury, CT (Deadline: Unknown)

Grace Baptist Church Waterbury

Vacant Church: Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle, Flint, Michigan (Deadline: August 31, 2014)

Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle Church Flint

Homegoing of a Saint – Pastor Roland C. Woods, Indianapolis, IN

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – Pastor Roland C. Woods, pastor of the Mt. Sinai Life Church, went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, June 15, 2014. He was 72. This information will be updated along with biographical information.

The homegoing services have been announced as follows:

Visitation and Wake
Friday, June 20, 2014 – 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Celebration of Life
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – 11:00 a.m.

All services will be held at
Umoja Christian Church
3685 Commercial Drive
Indianapolis, Indiana 46222

Dr. Donald R. Hudson, Host Pastor

His son, Pastor Christopher Woods, is the eulogist.

What Ever Happened to Sound Preaching?

by Robert Earl Houston

IMG_6427Please pardon this post, but I’m on a short vacation (I’m absolutely worn out) and I brought my briefcase with me, and it hasn’t been opened this week, because I just need a break. Doing the Senior Pastor and Musician thing every Sunday wears you out because not only does your heart have to be open to preach, but you also have to prepare a choir and church for praise. It’s a daunting task and last Sunday, it caught up to me.

Recently, I was in a restaurant in Georgia (last year) and some parishioners from a church in Atlanta were there and I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation (they were pretty loud – smile). And they talked about worship, which made my ears perk up. They talked about “getting our praise on” and how so-and-so ran down the aisle and how so-and-so really “killed the church” singing this morning.

Oddly, there was no mention of the sermon, the text, or even what the preacher preached about.

Now, a year or so later, I hear that conversation ringing in my spirit. What ever happened to Preaching?

Has preaching become passé?
Has preaching become secondary to an emotional experience in worship?
Has preaching become of the gospel become reduced to “oh, whatever?”
Has preaching become that something that occurs between the choir’s last song and the invitation?

I wrestle with this as a pastor, because I take seriously the preparation, prayer, dissection, application and assimilation of the sermons that are preached across the pulpit of First Baptist Church. I’m not really interested in making the word “watered down” or lacking any correct theological application. I prepare for the pulpit like a prize fighter prepares for a fight. I prepare for the preaching moment like a pilot checks his aircraft for takeoff. I prepare for the sermon in such a way that it’s not just edible like ice cream, but it’s filling like steak.

I am afraid that a “me-experience” in church is killing application of the word. I don’t want to be known as a singer who preaches or a musician who preaches or a shouter who preaches – I want to be known as a preacher FIRST AND FOREMOST.  I don’t show up “to get my shout on” – I show up to help communicate the truths of the gospel in a spiritual fashion that brings glory to God and not to the preacher.

I’m scared of churches that jump and shout and then walk out on the preached word.
I’m scared of churches that will bend sound doctrine to attract a crowd.
I’m scared of churches that poach those who are not doctrinally settled yet and present the “easy way” out.

Preaching will have some “uh-oh” moments and some “dang….” moments. Some sermons, if you ask most Biblical expositors, will hit the preacher long before the congregation hears it. It’s almost watching a football player after a long-hard fought battle explain to a television crowd what just happened.

Biblical preaching will produce a flock of well-nourished and Bible-based individuals. The goal is growth and not swelling. In the words of a nationally known preacher, “swelling is a sign of church infection.” It also means that the preacher missed the opportunity to preach, in some cases, because more time was devoted to everything else, but the Word.

I refuse to abdicate the responsibility of Biblically sound preaching.


Vacant Church: Bethany Missionary Baptist Church, Lexington, KY

From the American Baptist Newspaper:

The Bethany Missionary Baptist Church, 8 miles west of (downtown) Lexington, established in 1896, seeks a spirit-filled minister to pastor our flock. We are seeking someone whose preaching and teaching is solidly rooted and grounded in God’s Holy Word without compromise. The Pulpit Search Committee will not be responsible for travel or lodging expenses incurred by a candidate.  Please send all resumes and letters of intent to:

Pulpit Committee
Bethany Missionary Baptist Church
4710 Parkers Mill Road
Lexington, Kentucky 40513

Please take us to the top floor

by Robert Earl Houston

Recently a nationally-known minister has been all over the internet for his quotation of a rap song uttered across the pulpit. It’s lyrics shall not be repeated here and portions of the video have been scattered all over the internet. For some, it was felt to be appropriate. For others, they are aghast at the use of the language especially of the descriptives given to females.

I’m not writing to enter into the controversy. I’m here rather to hope for this generation of pulpiteers and those to follow. Today, I had a Hyperbaric Oxygen chamber treatment (HBO) at a hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. When I got on the elevator, one of the hospital volunteers was standing near to console and asked me “which floor sir?” To which I answered “The fifth floor, please.”  She answered, “Yes sir, I’ll take you to the top floor.”

I believe that those of us who preach are doing ourselves a disfavor when our sermons are polluted by guttural language. Many of the preaching icons of the past and present – T.D. Jakes, Melvin Wade, Ralph West, Paul Morton, Neil Ellis, R.A. Williams, Jr., Carl J. Anderson, Gardner Calvin Taylor, Martin Luther King, Jr., Frank E. Ray, Sandy Ray, Stephen Thurston, Noel Jones, Mack King Carter, O.B. Williams, E. Edward Jones, G.E. Patterson, William Augustus Jones, Cynthia Hale, Jasmin Sculark, Gina Stewart, Tony Evans, Ceaser A.W. Clark, Joseph Walker, III, Marvin Sapp, Marvin Winans, Kevin W. Cosby, Marcus Cosby, Charles Adams, Calvin Butts, III, Otis Moss, Jr., Floyd Flakes, Fred K.C. Price, Timothy J. Clarke, Marvin Wiley, Raphael Warnock, Vashti McKenzie, Kirbyjon Caldwewll, E.V. Hill, Donald Hillard, E.K. Bailey, Jesse Jackson, Donald Parson, Jasper Williams, E. Dewey Smith, and many, many others have preached prolific, profound, and memorable messages that not only reached the soul, but also challenged the hearers to learn the truths of the word, but to elevate the hearing and mind of the listener.

I am probably one of most of us who have professionals, school teachers, and others sitting in the pews every Sunday, and while the gospel producers “low hanging fruit” where it can and should be relevant to all who here it, it should not have to be drugged through the mudslide of common language. Our children and teenagers need to be encouraged to develop in their understanding, linguistics and knowledge.

Not only that I have students who are either eyeing pursuing their education or needs a modeling of what education or reading or even self-education is achievable. And that burden falls upon the pastor, in my opinion, to lift the least, encourage the down trodden, and show them “a more excellent way.”

I take issue with those who say “Jesus would have done it” but when he dealt with common people and those who were caught in sexual situations, do you not find Jesus using derogatory language in order to make his point.  His language alone provides an argument that street language will not elevate the discourse of the gospel.

I know Jesus talked to fisherman about fishing, but he didn’t share in course language even when describing a bad day upon the sea.

It just appears to me, and I speak for myself, that the linguistics of the church should not be reduced to that of playground banter. I love preaching and the art of preaching, but I think all of us bear the responsibility of demonstrating and modeling language that builds not destroys, encourages instead of divides, and demonstrates and encourages others to upgrade their own linguistics.

Lest we fall into the words of Malcolm X – “A man only curses because he doesn’t know the words to express what is on his mind.” To reach this generation, I don’t know if it’s always appropriate or necessary to quote rappers in order to be relevant.

Preachers, don’t take us to the basement or the lower level . . . take us to the top floor.


The Church of Perfect People

by Robert Earl Houston

Donald Sterling, ESQ and Dr. Joe B. Hardwick

By now most of us have seen the photograph of disgraced Los Angeles Clipper owner Donald J. Sterling from Sunday, June 1, 2014 visiting, at the pastor’s request, the historic Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church in south Los Angeles, California, where Dr. Joe B. Hardwick, is their venerable pastor.

Almost immediately there was a backlash. Why was he there? Was he there for damage control? Shame on Dr. Hardwick and Praises of Zion. And one person even went as far to suggest that Sterling should have been banned from the worship service completely. Other pastors across the country came out against his presence. But I am not one of those persons.

I wrote this on Facebook:

“I’m a little saddened at the reaction, especially from believers, to Pastor Joe B. Hardwick’s invitation to Donald Sterling coming to Praises of Zion MBC in Los Angeles. Sterling didn’t make a speech and from what I understood, he sat there, reverently throughout the worship experience. Yes, he made a mistake – but he’s still a soul in need of a savior. I know Dr. Hardwick and I believe it has nothing to do with a motive of money, and every baptist church is autonomous and if he wanted to invite him, that’s his priority and right. No wonder the fallen can’t be restored – because we are barring them from coming into the House of Hope. Just my two cents.”

I’m afraid of what many churches have become and what many skeptics, especially Christian bloggers, who sometimes reside in ivory towers, away from the visibility of their own sins. Church is not the retirement home for the super holy. Church is not the place where we congratulate each other on our holiness and our immaculate wardrobes. Church is not the place where those who struggle in life flee from because their shame forces those who fall or fail to retreat.

No, the church (and the Body of Christ) should be mature even and ministerial enough to open it’s doors and not put up barricades to those who are going through life. Can you imagine any Christian leader saying to his crowd, “we hate the President and he’s not welcome here” (like some have) or “that brother is not worthy because he has made a mistake in his life” (like some have) or in this case, “because he used the n-word, he’s not welcome here” (but then in private offices, throw around the word like it’s a football behind closed doors).

For the record, I believe Donald Sterling should been banned from the NBA, lose his franchise and be satisfied as a spectator and celebrate a sizable profit he has made from an initial purchase of $12 million dollars to the sale at over $2 billion dollars. His remarks, conduct, vile statements, etc. demand that he should be withdrawn from the NBA.

But never from the house of the Lord. It is there that he will find others who have had their issues in this life.



by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

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