After He had sent the disciples of John the Baptist back to him to report what they had heard and seen Him do (Matthew 11:1-6), the Lord Jesus Christ turned to the multitudes present and asked a question that would launch His only recorded eulogy in the New Testament. He asked them once, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” Then, he asked twice for a total of three times, “But what did you go out to see,” (Matthew 11:7-9, NKJV)? The first two times the Lord asks the question, He purposely provides an inaccurate description of what John was all about. However, the third time He provides the accurate divine answer--the only one that ever finally matters!
So, now, in providing this opening of His eulogy for John the Baptist as a template in answer to my prayer for how to salute and bid farewell to my retiring Portland, OR friend and mentor, Dr. James Martin, Pastor of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church for over thirty-two years, I now ask the church he served, the many who visited, heard him on the radio or saw him on television during his tenure: what did you go out to see? Certainly one will say this and another that, but I will tell you three important things I saw from a biblical worldview and intermingled with my personal experience with him for the last twenty-two years to the glory of God. I saw a Pastor/Teacher, Administrator and Visionary!
Dr. Martin is a God gifted and called Pastor/Teacher and Administrator (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-30; Ephesians 4:11-16). I sought him out within the first six months of arriving in Portland to serve as a pastor in 1997 after hearing him on the radio. I had been sent from Fort Worth, Texas with the sound counsel to seek out seasoned pastors with whom I could continue my personal growth and development as well as be benefitted as a pastor in being mentored by such experienced men. Like so many others in all of the Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan area, I was blessed to my soul to hear Doc (my nickname for him) teach God’s Word with His power, clarity, directness and some humor.
As I have often reminded him over the years, God sent him here at the right time and for the right reason as a faithful teacher of His Word since this highly unchurched part of our nation was (and is) so needy spiritually. The proof is how Mt. Olivet grew from about 300 when Doc arrived in 1987 to the nearly 2,000 attending by the time I came to town. Doc made room in his very busy schedule to meet with and welcome me over lunch after I called his office to request an appointment. That first lunch led to us meeting monthly when he was in town over the next twenty years. It turns out, he had been seeking opportunities to help other willing pastors and I knew God was at work.
Besides being a caring shepherd with an emphasis on teaching God’s flock, Doc’s gift of administration was abundantly evident too. I watched him adapt and expand the church’s organizational units to accommodate its growing services, ministries and activities especially when it became “one church in two locations.” During this busy time of expansion, Doc also kept a place in his schedule for me and a couple of other pastors on occasion that met with us--most deeply missed now is the positive interactions he and I shared with Pastor Terry Treadwell who departed to the Lord. Doc also led Mt. Olivet to help our church with building repairs, finances, worship and pulpit supply.
Finally, as a God enabled Visionary, Doc led Mt. Olivet from their original typical church building to purchase an old store and wrestling arena in North Portland to transform into a functional worship, educational and fellowship campus; a suburban storefront into a combination worship center with education, office and recreation space as a second campus. While doing those things, he led the church to plant other churches and send out missionaries to fulfill his commitment to the Lord’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). To this end as well, with his leading the church supported this Ministry in conducting the Strong Man Of God Rally in Oregon and Washington men’s prisons and was the first church in 2011 to host a signing for my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics.1
Though our relationship started professionally, Doc and I became friends in the process. We held each other accountable in our personal walk, family life, ministries and doctrine with only a few disagreements. His enduring legacy with me is having helped me to be a better husband and father which I acknowledge in my book. My wife, Mary, and I also enjoyed the fellowship we had with Doc and his wife, Lynetta, out to lunch or dinner in their home (we had some great Thanksgivings at the Martin’s). What did you go out to see? To the glory of God, I with heavy heart, love and gratitude salute and bid farewell to a gifted Pastor/Teacher, Administrator, Visionary, brother, mentor and dear friend in Christ; wishing him all of the best going into his retirement from Mt. Olivet.
1 Get a print copy or digital download of the book at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only). You can
also get a print copy of the book in the Strong Man Store.
The demand for slavery reparations resurfaced with a vengeance this past Juneteenth as yet again members of the black community led by well spoken award winning author and journalist, Ta-Nehisi Coates, attempted to make the case for them during a United States Congressional House Subcommittee hearing. Equally well spoken against reparations was young black American, Coleman Hughes, a college student and columnist with an online magazine who among other reasons objected to reparations being given on the grounds that the person receiving them is instantly made a victim.1
While I appreciate the “why” of Coates’ argument for reparations, Hughes’ victimization concern against them strikes close to the heart of my objection rooted in a biblical worldview and expressed in this edited 2003 Commentary. Let me be very clear: to oppose reparations for slavery is not in any way to indicate that in any cases of economic exploitation of or land theft from black Americans afterwards there should not be a swift and just remedy. However, as I have written in other posts2 and now again in this Commentary, slavery was of God and to demand reparations of anyone from it is to demand them from Him (Lamentations 3:27-28)!
Are we really that far gone from a proper fear of the Lord? Consequently, any reparation recipients as victims have their reward from men now, but eternally miss out on God’s as blasphemers (Jeremiah 17:9-10; Matthew 7:21-23, 16:24-27; Romans 1:18-2:11; Hebrews 10:26-31)!
Originally Published July 2003
There are a growing number of African Americans across the nation calling for the American government and corporations to pay reparations to blacks for the experience of slavery. The word reparation is defined as “An act or the process of repairing or making amends” according to Webster’s Dictionary. It also is “Something done or paid as amends; compensation.” Interestingly, Webster’s defines reparations as “Compensation required from a defeated nation for damage inflicted during a war.”
As I understand the rationale behind the demand for reparations, blacks are owed compensation from the government and selected corporations because they benefited from the free labor of our slave forefathers. The compensation would be calculated based on the wages slaves would have earned in one scheme I recall hearing about. Whatever the scheme, the aspiring strong man of God in the image of Jesus Christ knows demanding reparations for the black experience of slavery in America is a wicked and sinful affront to the God of our salvation.3 Indeed, for it was He who allowed our enslavement and also set us free!
When are we going to stop acting out of this satanically inspired attitude of victimization over our experience in America? This attitude is exactly where the demand for reparations comes from. However, according to the Judge of all creation, neither our ancestors nor we now are innocent victims in His sight! He says, “‘There is none righteous, no, not one.’” And again, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:10, 23, NKJV). Therefore, where is the innocence of any human being, tribe, race or nation on the planet?
We who love to so eloquently explain the equality of the races; in our present cry for reparations are we saying that we are more worthy than all other people in the history of the world because our experience was so unjust and undeserved in our eyes? History reveals many other peoples have suffered the humiliation of slavery. No doubt all would have loved to receive reparations for their bitter service. However, most were grateful just to have their freedom when it came. What makes us, the sons of Cush, so special then? In the sight of God, nothing!
Truly, He planned our remedial judgment long ago and revealed it through the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 18). As it was in ancient times, so it is today; we are a people of great pride or is it not pride to demand reparations from the Most High God, the One ultimately responsible for our enslavement (Psalm 107:10-12; Lamentations 3:37-39)? Besides punishing the many wicked deeds of our ancestors, the Lord sought through slavery (and continues seeking in our trials) to humble our great pride as Isaiah’s prophecy shows. It also powerfully pictures that the Lord’s mercy in our sufferings will accomplish His primary end: the salvation of willing souls!
The present cry for reparations blatantly ignores the fact that the Lord impressed on this nation the need to help our slave forefathers set free amidst the Civil War. During the period immediately after the war called Reconstruction, educational institutions (of which many of our historically black universities such as Howard in Washington D.C.) were founded, money and assistance given to help the newly freed slaves begin their ascent to citizenship.4
Did everyone get 40 acres and a mule as promised? No. Were there setbacks due to racism and the violent intimidation of whites? Yes. But while we suffered these things and the grand insult of Jim Crow segregation, did not our people, a little here and a little there, by and by begin to prosper as the Lord in His infinite mercy and grace gave us favor? Yes! And at the turn of the 20th century we were doing so well as we moved from the agricultural South to the industrial North, we started to turn away from the heartfelt faith in the Lord many of our Christian slave forefathers had; rejecting their “Pie in the sky.”
Jeremiah the prophet spells out in clear terms the curse of desolation that follows the man (or people) who trusts in flesh and departs from the Lord; the blessing and enduring prosperity of the man (or people) who trust in Him (Jeremiah 17:5-8)! In light of the many and continuing problems of our community, we don’t need reparations or much more help than we already have. We need to turn back to the Lord in complete repentance which includes forsaking the remake of biblical Christianity into “our own” religion by so many churches!5
The Lord says, ‘“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins shall die,’” (Ezekiel 18:4, NKJV). Therefore, unless the guilty repent, they shall all die (Luke 13:1-9). We who are enduring the current judgment of God upon our people in rebellion and apostasy through faith in Christ, should consider ourselves blessed to have our lives just as Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian in his day (Jeremiah 39:15-18). Let’s not join in the prideful insult to His mercy by demanding reparations from God or anybody else as victims for what was of His permitted will. Instead, let the faithful--every aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Christ be victors over the world through faith in Him to the glory of God (1 John 5:4-5)!
1 Read the CBS News article.
2 The two-part, Message From A Redeemed Black Man posted beginning on June 2, 2019 under the categories, Biblical Worldview and Black History, launched a series
of posts through this month of June that serve as the most recent addressing divine involvement in Black History. Otherwise, our entire From Slavery To Victory Educa-
tion Project is devoted to this cause as seen throughout its Web Site.
3 To learn what a strong man and great woman of God in the image of Jesus Christ are, get a print copy or digital download of my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To
Basics, at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only). You can also get a print copy of the book in the
Strong Man Store.
4 While the poor in the community still need help from everybody to “rise,” what is needed most of all from the descendants of our former masters that are guilty is the re-
moving of all of the artificially imposed barriers and obstacles of racism as I wrote in the February 19, 2017 post, Who Is Weeping For My People, under the category,
5 Read the two-part post beginning February 8, 2015, Strong Through God, Not Religion, under the category, Black History.
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