No Limits

Last night Senator Barack Obama became the first African-American Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America. That's major. In a field of some other very respectable and experienced leaders, he emerged as the Democrats' choice.

What does that mean? It means that the times have changed. People don't think the way they used to. No, it does not mean that everybody thinks differently. Everybody didn't vote for him. But the majority of those who had the power to give him the nomination did.

I am at the Hampton Ministers' Conference. It is a conference that is interdenominational. Of course, Seventh-day Adventists don't figure very prominently for a few reasons. We are a small denomination in the United States compared to the National Baptist Convention and the Church of God in Christ. But the the other very obvious reason is that we have yet to gain credibility as a church that is socially concerned about the plight of the African-American. From American city to American city we are largely absent from any interdenominational efforts to lift the Black man or woman from his or her pit of despair through the felt needs ministries of Christ.

Some of us Adventist preachers come to an event with a critical eye. We want to know: "How does the message of the featured speakers measure up to the message of the Seventh-day Adventist Church?" That's interesting to me. Now, trust me, biblical theology is important. But Daniel and Revelation are not the sum of what God has to say to the problems of the world today.

Biblical theology is about more than apocalyptic eschatology. Biblical theology is found in Amos, Obadiah and Isaiah and is socially concerned. It is! And that's biblical.

I think our challenge should also be to see how the works of our church measure up to the biblical message of social concern that many of those gathered here preach with great conviction and credibility.

We have to learn how to LEARN. Yes, we ought always keep our thinking caps on and ask God for a spirit of discernment. But we often come to an event like we've got it all together. I think we can really miss out on what can actually make our ministries begin to blossom and really bear significant fruit in the cities where our churches own real estate.

Bishop Charles Blake preached a powerful message last night from Matthew 25: 14-30 (Parable of the Talents). Here are some of the things I jotted down on the back of my conference song book.
-- God must sometimes bring your something to nothing in order to get the glory.
-- God will diminish your assets before he uses you (Gideon).
-- Jesus never starts until there's not enough (5,000 to be fed with only 5 loaves and 2 fish)
-- Jesus never starts until it's too late (Lazarus dead four days)

The point that Blake was making was that God has done too much for us to put up with us being barren and unproductive. The fact that the Lord gave the man with one talent a talent was in itself an indication that the Lord loved him. We ought never bury the investment God has made in us.

We allow too much to keep us from increasing what God has given to us. The text says that God will take away from the lazy servant and give it to the one who has the most faith to increase what God has given (Matthew 25:28-29).

I can't help but wonder why other churches are doing more for God with the concept of tithing than are we. In my city, there is a Baptist Church that has a Sabbath service that is more well attended than ANY Seventh-day Adventist Church in our city, including mine! And he's NOT preaching the so-called prosperity gospel.

What do we make of this? There are too many barriers in our thinking. We are always quick to say why something won't work in our context, why we don't do things "that way." We are slaves to Adventist precedent! So what if it's never been done by Seventh-day Adventists before!!! As long as it's not unbiblical, unethical or immoral, what's wrong with doing something that has never been done? Other than making the statement as a statement of fact, let's not try to put the brakes on folk who are pursuing the miraculous God-sized visions of their consecrated hearts.

Barack Obama is not a perfect man. He just stopped smoking a year ago! (smile) No, he's not perfect. But he's a man who doesn't allow what other people say can't be done to make him sit down and fold his arms and settle for the status quo.

The founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were trailblazers; they were pioneers who cleared and created pathways where none existed before. What has happened to that spirit? It's time to get some of that back.


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