A school ordered these books for their students and asked me to sign them. It’s a joy to do so! I can’t fully express the delight, joy, love…you name it, I have in serving parents, teachers, and guardians in this way. Creative God, Colorful Us releases this Tuesday (Feb 2). We’ve been praying and celebrating (see those awesome cookies at the bottom), and can’t wait to hear the stories to come.
If you haven’t heard, when you pre-order Creative God, Colorful Us, you have access to a special group of conversations we’re calling Colorful Us! I wanted to answer some of your frequently asked questions:
I ordered Creative God, Colorful Us before I knew about the event. May I still register?
Yesterday my family packed up and drove to Atlanta so I could speak at the Impact Movement Conference. I was tasked with sharing with the women about sexual temptation, impurity, lust and how to fight it all to the glory of God. The conference coordinator named my talk “Moral Fitness” which was fitting as I was going to be addressing how we exercise self-control over our minds and bodies. As these things typically go, I am now leaving more aware of God’s grace and power than when I arrived.
Two years ago I would never have imagined jumping up on a stage and sharing intimate details about my past. I would have been too ashamed and fearful of being judged. This, I have learned, is pride and the fear of man. Over the past year the Lord has been rooting out my self-awareness and focus and reminding me that as I share my weaknesses (past and present) I am shining light on His grace in my life. God has forgiven me and cleansed me. It is a miracle of God’s grace that I can proclaim His work in my life. And so now, it’s an honor to get to shout it out loud—His grace is sufficient in me and His power is made perfect in my weakness.
This weekend I got to see firsthand the power of transparency. God’s word says that if we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us and purify us (1 John 1:9). I told the ladies the truth about sexual sin. There are great consequences. God’s word is filled with warnings about impurity. We’ve seen ministries fall and families torn apart. And then we see that Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery that she is forgiven of her sin and to “go and sin no more” (John 8: 2-11).
So what happened at this meeting? Women confessed and asked for forgiveness. Women sought advice from other women about improper relationships. I saw one woman counseling another using Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book Counsel from the Cross. Young ladies came up to me asking for prayer. There was a transparency in the room that I didn’t expect from a few hundred women. And what is greater—Jesus’ grace was magnified and proclaimed.
My prayer for them (and for all of us) is that it wouldn’t end there. I encouraged them to go to their pastors and local churches and share and receive encouragement and help and to be the encouragement and help for others. Jesus died for our junk, He can handle it. We don’t have to hide and pretend. And it is right there, at our lowest, that we see His beauty and grace and we begin to understand that He has made us beautiful by His blood if we would only receive this free gift.
I love the body of Christ. I love the Church and what God is doing. God is moving in our midst and beyond.
The town is Rockford, Illinois and Bob Bixby, pastor of Morning Star Church located in the heart of the city, introduced it to me as “the third most miserable city in America.” This weekend I had the honor to speak with women from the Chicagoland area and beyond at The Grace and Truth Conference in the reportedly depressed town.The pastors and their wives were gracious and hospitable. I had been praying that the Lord would bless this weekend, and as He always does, His grace and kindness far surpassed what I could have imagined.
Rockford, Illinois is apparently a city that is marked by racial division and pride. The community has experienced much racism and though I assume it would be from either side, what was emphasized to me was that some in the white community were opposed to those different than them. I remember at one point during lunch looking at pastor Bob as he shared stories about the town and asking, “Am I safe?” Along with the hate and division that plagues the city is a crime rate that matches that of larger cities. After receiving this news I began preparing myself to speak to a predominantly white audience about diversity! My heart began to pound as I realized what I was about to do.
I walked in and immediately realized the thoughtfulness involved in planning the conference. The room was decorated with beautiful flowers, there were delicious treats, musicians prepared for worship, and folders with the speaker information. Not one detail was overlooked. We sang three songs which I was most grateful for. God prepared my heart to speak, knowing that I was tempted to be fearful. He quieted my heart and allowed me to trust Him for the words to say. I got up and spoke from the heart, stumbling over a few words, but convinced that what I was sharing about God’s word was true and good.
After the talk women gathered around me, not solely to express thankfulness, but to also share that they’d never thought about what I was sharing before. My first talk, “A Vision for Diversity,” set out to cast a vision for God’s creation, the equality of all people created as His image bearers, equality of redemption for those who believe, and how we can apply this vision practically. If we believe this to be true about creation and redemption then it should have an effect on the way we relate to those around us. The encouragement I received confirmed that what I am doing, what my friends at The Reformed African American Network are doing, what Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition is doing by bringing these topics to light, is good. I have a new appreciation for my publisher, Moody Publishers, and their faith to publish my book, United, about these topics. For once I saw a tangible need for it.
God was faithful and His Spirit was present. The women weren’t only receptive; they were humble to my challenges and encouragement. They weren’t only eagerly listening, they were eager to hear more. They were hungry to know more about what God’s word has to say about ethnicity and it was my joy to share a second time about adoption into God’s family and our sisterhood. Whatever is going on in Rockford doesn’t seem to be affecting the women at the conference. God is working in that community.
I was reminded once again that the gospel is powerful and breaks barriers. The Good News unites people from all walks of life and backgrounds and makes us family! The women at the Grace and Truth Conference will forever hold a special place in my heart. They are my sisters.Thankfully I’ll be back next year for our family reunion!
The aspiration of every Christian is to be Christlike. To borrow the words of the apostle Paul, we yearn to have Christ formed in us (Galatians 4:19). When we can say that it is no longer “I who lives, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:22), then there will be an effusion of grace and truth from out of our lives into all of our relationships. Our roles as wives, mothers, siblings, daughters, friends, church members, colleagues, and any other roles assigned to us by God will become increasingly distinguished by the likeness of Christ, by grace and truth. The Grace & Truth Conference is a ministry of Morning Star Church, and it is designed to encourage women to grow in grace by embracing truth. The truth of God’s Word and the perfections of our Savior have immediate implications for the day-in-and-day-out life of the believing woman. It is our prayer that this conference will encourage the Christian woman to delight in her womanhood as a God-ordained means for her to delight in her God and bring more glory to Him!
Last week I took a moment to watch Tim Keller explain what he thought would need to happen for The Gospel Coalition to be successful. As I watched I was struck by a few things.
First, Keller recognized that the organization, and evangelicalism in general, has largely been led by in his words, “old white men.” I believe this is a humble recognition of segregation within evangelicalism that is undesirable. He mentioned that in order for there to be growth, the Coalition must reach beyond the confines of their community and connect with those unlike themselves. One way to reach this goal would be by building relationships with international leaders and the other by raising up and training the next generation of multi-ethnic leaders. Finally he said that these relationships would result in faithfulness to the gospel yet innovation in ministry.
As the credits ran across the video it occurred to me that we are in the future he spoke of. The video, though recently published, was recorder in 2008. I immediately began to think of ways that God has been working to fulfill these expectations and desires.
Foretaste of God’s Grace
International: TGC has launched an international site and though I don’t know how many people have been affected by it, I do know that they have been able to provide Bible’s to ministry workers internationally and have raised money for other international relief projects. Beyond providing resources, The Gospel Coalition National Conference features several international speakers including but not limited to Megan Best, Tim Hawkins, and Augustus Nicodemus Lopes.
Multi-ethnic leaders: Though the Reformed African American Networkis not affiliated with TGC and though its leaders are not members, there is no doubt that we (I’m an active member of RAAN) have not only experienced the support of TGC but also training, wisdom, and guidance. Men like Ligon Duncan, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Tony Carter (all members of TGC) have invested time to speak with and encourage Jemar Tisby and Phillip Holmes, the leaders of RAAN. I am eagerly anticipating God using Tisby and Holmes to build His church and unite groups across racial lines. I’m thankful they are being invested in by men in their local communities at RTS Jackson and beyond. And I am eager to hear Shai Linne as he speaks at the upcoming National Conference.
This is only a small taste, but it is the next generation of multi-ethnic leaders!
It can be easy to forget that God is at work and much easier to feel the weight of the dividing lines that often result in quarreling and disillusionment. Discouragement looms large in our quest for unity and diversity. But let this little glimpse of God’s grace encourage you that God is at work! Theological debates and societal changes are here to stay (haven’t they always been present at every age), but we can all take comfort in knowing that God’s Word will never return void. God is our sovereign King and He is working in ways we won’t see and may not even experience this side of Heaven.
I look now to the future with great expectation that God is going to break down barriers, unite people groups, fulfill His promises, and save the lost. There is work yet to be done and I am excited. This is also why I look forward to being at The 2013 National Conference in April. I hope you will join me in looking not at the here and now but towards future grace. God is good and His is doing good things among us!
Pastors and ministry leaders of the Presbyterian Church in America will gather in Baltimore this weekend for the Revival 2012 biennial conference. The conference brings together pastors from the Mid-Atlantic to proclaim the gospel and encourage unity and diversity in the Church. The 2012 theme is “The Race Set Before Us: Pursuing Unity for the Sake of the Gospel.”
The conference will take place at Faith Christian Fellowship in Baltimore, MD, Friday, June 1- Sunday, June 2.
“We can have the church reflect something different for the next generation. We have a providential opportunity to reflect the gospel,” shared Pastor Lance Lewis, Coordinator of the conference and Co-Pastor or Christ Redemption Fellowship.
The saying goes, “Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week.” The goal of the R2K12 Conference is to discuss how to put that saying to rest. The conference is not geared solely towards Pastors. Anyone is invited to come and Lewis hopes to fill the audience with lay members.
“God has empowered through his Spirit all people to do ministry. We want people to come to participate in the workshops with the view that they can begin ministering to their congregations and communities to build bridges to declare the gospel right where they are,” he said.
Lance and his church not only preach about the benefits of diversity, they walk it out. He and his Co-Pastor, Dave Baggett, have worked to build a multi-ethnic church. Lance, black, and Baggett, white, pastor a small congregation in the suburb Havertown, PA.
“What people are forgetting is to make disciples of all nations. We wanted to at least attempt to reflect the communities that which we all live,” he shared.
His desire is to see this modeled throughout the United States.
“Our vision and goal is to see self-consciously multiethnic churches planted in suburban areas,” he said.
According to Lewis, there is a migration of blacks in suburban areas and suburbs are becoming more diverse. Lewis believes the potential display of unity and diversity in the church is also a demonstration of humility as we step out of our comfort-zones to embrace others.
“Starting a multi-ethnic church, I can’t command my own interests. It’s one way we can show humility, your willingness to look for ways to serve others,” he said.
But he stressed that their message isn’t for current churches to change, necessarily, rather it’s for church planters to consider unity as they plant.
“Our message isn’t that existing churches should change unless God really is moving in that way. But if you’re planting you might consider this model,” he said.
Lewis began the Rivival Conference eager to share the message of the gospel first and foremost and then the benefits of building diversity in the church to display the gospel. It all began after meeting with six other black PCA (a predominately white denomination) pastors in his region. They met in 2000 and have been meeting together in some form ever since.
Conference topics will include discussions on building diversity, as well as grief, integrating biblically based Hip-Hop into the ministry of the church and even recovering from sexual abuse.
The Conference will run Friday, June 1 from 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Saturday, June 2 from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. and will end after a meeting starting on Sunday at 8:30 a.m.
Walk-ins are welcome on Friday and Saturday. The registration fee is $60 at the door, located at Faith Christian Fellowship, 505 East 42nd Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.
Pastor Lewis was born and raised in Philadelphia and has been married to his wonderful wife Sharon for over twenty-seven years. They’ve been blessed with two children (Sarah and Charles). He received his education from Temple University and the Chesapeake Theological Training Center. Before serving as co-pastor of Christ Redemption Fellowship he served as the pastor of Christ Liberation Fellowship, a congregation started by his family and several others in 2001. He has contributed to two books, Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Theology and Keep Your Head Up: America’s New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness and the Cosby Conversation, both published by Crossway Books.