Apr 052021
 
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God Saved Me On April Fool’s Day!

April Fools’ Day is special for me! It was on that day in 1979 that I began following Jesus! I was sitting in my MIT dormitory room in MacGregor House G Entry 4th floor looking out at the Charles River on a beautiful spring day. I was not in any sort of crisis – there was nothing wrong in my life that I was aware of. I wasn’t upset about anything. Somehow Jesus made his presence known to me and made it clear that I now had an opportunity to follow him.

I didn’t grow up in church. My mother took me to Sunday School for a brief period when I was perhaps 5 or 6, but I don’t think that period in my life lasted more than a few months. I did attend Trinity Parish Boys Camp (run by Trinity Church in Manhattan) during the summers of 1971 – 1974 but, although I was curious about the church services, the priests who ran the camp had no idea how to “close a sale”, so I re-focused my attention elsewhere.

My ideas about God had largely been formed by watching the Lutheran claymation show “Davey & Goliath” on television (a wonderful show) as a young child. When I was 16, my sister Renee wrote me a letter about how to make Jesus Lord of my life, but by then I found the idea that I needed Jesus in my life offensive and I tore up the letter and threw it away.

When I arrived at MIT in 1976, I met Michael Harrison, who would become my best friend (and eventually the best man at my wedding). He was already a Christian and encouraged me to become one. The following year I met Courtney McBath, who would also strongly encourage me to become a Christian. Despite their influence I felt strongly that following Jesus was something I just wouldn’t be able to do. I might be able to start out OK, but I just didn’t believe that it would ultimately work. I would tell them: “Maybe I’ll get saved when I’m 30”.

On Sunday April 1, 1979 however, in my MacGregor dorm room, Jesus somehow made it clear to me that if I decided to follow him then, it would work. I felt free to accept him and confident that I could actually be a Christian. I also felt free to say no to Jesus, but I also had a nagging worry: I didn’t know when I would ever again feel that same freedom to follow Jesus!

I decided to follow Jesus and to attend the Black Christian Fellowship Bible study that Friday. As it turns out, Eva had, quite independently, decided to follow Jesus herself that same week (we were no longer a couple at that point). I wasn’t planning to attend church because my mother had told me that churches were full of hypocrites. I went to the Bible study that Friday because I knew the members and trusted that they were genuine. When they invited people to share testimonies I told them that I had asked Jesus to be lord of my life and that I believed he had saved me. Word eventually went out on campus that the unthinkable had happened – Rocklyn had gotten saved. I didn’t go to church that Sunday, but the following Sunday was Easter and I figured I would go to church for Easter. I went to First Church of God (now Shawmut Community Church of God) in the South End and met Bishop Gideon A. Thompson, (he was Pastor Thompson then) who answered my questions, opened his library to me, and mentored me in ministry. He created safe space for me to ask questions and he saw to it that I got answers. Under his ministry I was NEVER made to feel bad for wanting to understand God, Jesus, the Bible, etc. By the way, “Eva had already begun attending the same church and, as you can guess, we didn’t stay broken up for long. 1f642.png

Yes – God saved me on April Fools Day! Now here I am many years later, still following Jesus. To God be the glory!

Oct 012016
 
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Guest speaker Bishop Marvin L. Sapp preached a powerful word entitled “He’s Adjusting My Vision” at the

2016 Jubilee Convention Wednesday (9/28/2016) evening service

at Jubilee Christian ChurchThe link above is to the video of the entire service (also embedded below). Jubilee Senior Pastor Matthew Thompson introduces Bishop Sapp at 1:09:45 into the video.

Eva and I were greatly blessed by it and we’re confident that you will be too!

Jun 192015
 
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N. T. Wright, the former Bishop of Durham for the Church of England, is a devoted pastor, a renowned biblical scholar, and a prolific author. Over the past year or so the following books of his have given me a much better understanding of God’s Kingdom and of The Gospel.

You can order them here (as an Amazon.com Associate Life Church receives a portion of the purchase price):

There is more material related to Professor Wright available here:

Pastor Rocklyn’s N. T. Wright Page

N. T. Wright’s books and video clips have been a great blessing to me over the past few years and I believe that they will be a blessing to you as well!

Mar 192014
 
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N. T. Wright, the former Bishop of Durham for the Church of England, is a devoted pastor, a renowned biblical scholar, and a prolific author. I have been blessed by several of his Wright’s books and video clips over the past few years.

On Friday November 13, 2013 Professor Wright came to Harvard Divinity School. In the early afternoon he participated in a panel discussion of his latest book (note – this is an Amazon.com affiliate link):

Paul and the Faithfulness of God: N. T. Wright: Amazon.com: Books http://amzn.to/1gBmYBX

You can see the video here:

Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Full Video) – YouTube http://bit.ly/OyAH6V

In the evening he participated in the Veritas Forum discussion:

The Bible: Gospel, Guide, or Garbage?

You can see the video from that discussion here:

 Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Video) | Harvard Divinity School http://bit.ly/ODbFTI

There is more material related to Professor Wright available here:

Pastor Rocklyn’s N. T. Wright Page

Feb 152014
 
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N. T. Wright, the former Bishop of Durham for the Church of England, is a devoted pastor, a renowned biblical scholar, and a prolific author. I recently finished reading his 2008 book “Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church”. I have read several of N. T. Wright’s books and watched several of his video clips over the past few years. They have been a great blessing to me and this book  is no exception.

In “Surprised By Hope” N. T. Wright offers a perspective on the Bible and the resurrection that has tremendous implications for the work of the church. I recommend it highly, and you can order it here (as an Amazon.com Associate Life Church receives a portion of the purchase price):

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church: N. T. Wright Amazon: Books http://amzn.to/M1JfkI

Bishop Wright has also recorded a set of 6 videos that deal with the book’s subject matter. I encourage you to check them out:

 There is more material related to Professor Wright available here:

Pastor Rocklyn’s N. T. Wright Page

Mar 082013
 
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Can you spot an abuser? Are you sure?

Back in 2010 I came across the book “Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft. It was eye opening – especially because in it Bancroft writes persuasively that abusers have a thinking problem rather than an anger problem. They think that their wives/girlfriends/partners are their property and they get angry whenever their “property” doesn’t behave as such. This book, written for a secular audience, includes some excellent “parables” that describe how abusers develop and what they have to do to change.

Since then I’ve discovered more books and web sites dealing with this subject and it was especially enlightening to read material on abuse in a Christian context. I now realize that several of the counseling situations I’ve been in actually involved an abusive spouse (usually, although not always the husband).

I’m not finished exploring this very important subject, but here is some of what I’ve learned already:

      • Abuse isn’t always physical – emotional abuse can do great harm without leaving physical wounds.
      • Abusers have more of a thinking problem than an anger problem.
      • Abusers are often very charming. This is how they lure their victims in the first place.
      • In church abusers often masquerade as loving, faithful, godly, mature believers while their wives and/or children suffer in the privacy of their home.
      • Traditional marriage counseling is generally ineffective with abusers.
      • Many pastors don’t realize that God permits divorce for abuse victims.
      • Abusers have a lot in common with the “fool” described in the book of Proverbs.

You can find links to resources on abuse (including the ones I’ve mentioned above) at our Community Blog on the Relationships Problems Page:

        http://blogs.lifechurchboston.org/community/relationships/problems/

Dec 082012
 
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What Does “The Gospel” Really Mean?

Frank Viola has recently written several blog posts promoting a fresh understanding of the gospel:

I have generally found Frank’s material to be very helpful as we pursue the vision that God has given us at Life Church, and the posts above are no exception. Please take the time to read them (preferably in the order in which they appear above).

More About Frank Viola

Frank Viola is an author and blogger. You can explore his ministry more fully at his web site: FrankViola.org.

Dec 052012
 
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Have you ever played wiffle ball? Would you use a guitar as a substitute for a bat in a wiffle ball game? This is one of the questions posed by Shane Hipps, in an unusual yet enlightening sermon. Shane Hipps is one of the teaching pastors at Mars Hill Bible Church and on Sunday June 27, 2010 he taught a sermon entitled “Wiffle Guitar”. In which he explored spiritual gifts and shares some powerful insights about how God views our quest to understand what our gifts are.

Shane’s sermon is available from the Mars Hill web site:

Wiffle Guitar by Shane Hipps – Sunday June 27, 2010

Check it out and enter into a new experience of your gifts and your ministry.

Apr 042012
 
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Abundant Life

In John 10:7-10 Jesus makes a powerful statement about life:

  Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 

The phrase “to the full” has also been translated “more abundantly” and this leads to the important understanding that Jesus has come to give us abundant life. As we examine Jesus’ lifestyle it also becomes apparent that he expected his followers to be a  community – praying for them to be one just as he and the Father are one (John 17:20-23). In other words, the abundant life we have in Jesus includes our relationships with other believers.  If our lifestyles diminish our relationships then we won’t experience life as abundantly as we ought to.

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Feb 102012
 
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Note (April 13, 2017): This post will be updated (something it badly needs) over the next few weeks!

Old Word – New Meaning

Several years ago (probably sometime in 2006), while attending a meeting for local clergy, I heard the keynote speaker make a statement that I have never forgotten:

“Grace is the empowering presence of God enabling you to be who God created you to be, and to do what God has called you to do – right where you are.”

The speaker was the late Pastor James Ryle; he had been invited to address the monthly meeting of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston (BMA) by then BMA President Bishop Gideon Thompson. Later that year Pastor Ryle (again at Bishop Thompson’s invitation) taught several sessions at the 2006 Jubilee Christian Church annual convention. He elaborated on this same truth. Up until this time I had always thought of grace as “God’s unmerited (i.e. undeserved) favor” or “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”, but on that day Pastor Ryle gave me a new and extremely helpful way to understand this critical concept. It blessed me so much that I wanted to share it with others; I began looking for Pastor Ryle’s teaching in written form.

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