Right Church…Wrong Call…An Uncertain Sound

ichabodLeonard Lovett, Ph. D

 

Monday, October 31, 2016 has proven to be momentous in the life of the Church of God in Christ. The Chairman of the General Assembly, Bishop James Hunt transitioned to his eternal reward, an event that has left most of us numb. His unique spirit, voice and contribution will be greatly missed at a time when special leadership is urgently needed. In the meanwhile, an unrelated prayer tele-conference call scheduled by the Chairman of the Board of Bishops, John Sheard was initiated. It was reported that a strange interruption took place and the tele-conference had to be terminated. My tentative conclusion is that the call was made in the right church at a questionable moment.

  Mr. Chairman, I must ask a daunting question. Why did you call a general prayer meeting one week before the Convocation? It appears ironic that you have served three terms (12 years) and has never called a prayer meeting. Has it dawned on you that a general prayer call will not fix our situation. We need massive repentance. You are reputed to be a leader of a large number of Bishops, but guilty of making the wrong call at the right time. Should you be praying for forgiveness for committing malfeasance/misfeasance in the case of the Bishop from New Mexico who was given a pass and is bringing reproach to the name of God and His Church? God cannot be mocked. You have given an uncertain sound through your leadership style. Our church needs stability and trusted leadership.

“If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (KJV) “And if the army bugler doesn’t play the right notes, how will the soldiers know that they are being called to battle?” (LBV)

     Mr. Chairman, a call for repentance in a church where holiness has been de-railed would bring pleasure to God. Once repentance (Greek metanoia)- “change of heart, change of mind and change of direction” takes place, as leaders you will begin to demand justice. Throughout the Old Testament, the giving of sacrifices-burnt offerings was linked to the doing of justice. If you are praying without meting justice, it is possible that your prayer can become sin. Proverbs 28: 9– “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (KJV) –“God doesn’t listen to the prayers of those who flout the law.” (LBV)  You may not like the mail carrier, but please read the mail. If you indict some people in the Board of Bishops supported by cronies, and allow people who are guilty of flagrant sins that demean and destroy people to walk free for political reasons, you will not escape the wrath of God. Your title, prestige and money means nothing in the face of almighty God. Hear God address this kind of unlawful behavior. Amos 5:21 “I hate your show and pretense…your hypocrisy of honoring me with your religious feasts and solemn assemblies…I will not look at your offerings of peace…away with your hymns of praise, they are mere noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is…I want to see a mighty flood of justice…a torrent of doing good.”  Apart from justice, you can cancel the next prayer tele-conference.

           The shelf behind the door, The shelf behind the door,
           Tear it down and throw it out, Don’t use it anymore;
           For Jesus wants His Temple clean, From ceiling to the floor;
           He even wants that little shelf, That’s hid behind the door. –Author unknown

Remember, Anyone with charges pending regardless of title, name or rank should not be seeking a national office. We must follow our Constitution.!!!

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WHEN GOD WALKS OUT

                       ichabod2   Leonard Lovett, Ph.D

November 2016

 

I Samuel 3: 21  “And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh…for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” The text implies that God had been away.

Moffatt translates this verse to read: “Once more the Eternal was to be seen at Shiloh.”

The very context of this passage pre-supposes that there had been gray days through which God had not been seen. The reality is that God was never absent. He was not seen because of the idols that blinded people from seeing the visible and invisible God. In our humanity we create so much stuff such as religiosity and symbolic inauthentic worship that God becomes to us as if He were distant or as if He were dead. The people said to Aaron, “up, make us gods which shall go before us; for as for this Moses….we know not what is become of him.” When Moses died, God withdrew because all they could see was in the personality of their great leader. Three centuries later, God returned. With the arrival of Samuel, the Lord “appeared again at Shiloh.”

  I see a parallel for COGIC. I am opposed to this divisive, Godless political system of campaigning, borrowed from other denominations that has prevented us from experiencing the fellowship with each other and the fullness of the Holy Ghost. Will the Lord appear again in COGIC?  Our feigned worship consisting of fake “praise breaks” and multiple fads will not bring God back. You can have so many meetings that you can meet yourself coming from meetings, but that will not bring God back. In fact meetings have become the perfect place to “avoid God.” Our meetings have become “fund raising and social gatherings” with little or no room to celebrate the God who created us. The text supports the premise that God walked out for three centuries after the death of Moses and gave the people what they asked for until they came to understand who they really needed.

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Why Bishop Blake Must Take His Own Medicine

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Leonard Lovett, Ph.D

Dear COGIC Family:

In 1999, a General Board Member testified under oath in Orlando Florida, on behalf of Superintendent D. Hutchins, in a case against then presiding Bishop CD Owens. “I testified that the presiding bishop was not like the Pope, because the Pope is elected for life, and the presiding bishop is elected for four years… The one responsible for upholding the Constitution of the Church is the foremost transgressor thereof. The one responsible for providing protection of the various constitutional entities of the church is the greatest threat to their existence and well being.” That General Board Member in 1999 was our present Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake. In his diatribe against Bishop Owens, Bishop Blake mentioned the Constitution sixteen (16) times.  Has Bishop Blake changed his mind in seventeen (17) years or is this a case of selective amnesia? I radically believe with conviction that it is time for Bishop Blake to “take his own medicine.”  This is about the violation of our Constitution. Bishop Blake excoriated Bishop Owens for violating the Constitution and not administering the church according to guidelines.  He opted for a church where people will feel safe. This document provoked Bishop Owens to overreact and cost him the election of 2000. It  all started because of Bishop Blake’s feigned undying loyalty to upholding the Constitution of the Church of God in Christ.  We feel the same commitment and loyalty you demonstrated and are compelled to challenge current leadership to uphold our Constitution without a double standard. (excerpt from How Long this Madness/ aka Why I Stood?) Why are we afraid to hold leadership accountable?

Bishop Blake likened the return of JD Ellis recently to a prodigal coming back home. However, a son does not return and lead the household as an advisor to the leader.  Bishop Blake is the only Presiding Bishop beside Bishop JO Patterson to receive Ellis. The presence of JD Ellis holding dual membership as head of an Apostolic Church and COGIC should be an embarrassment to every credential holder in the General Assembly. Our founding Chief Apostle Bishop C.H. Mason encountered the “Jesus Only” controversy in his day and openly challenged it. Bishop Blake appears to be accommodating this heresy. JD Ellis should have never been appointed Chief of Chaplain and Vetting Officer for the Church with access to the Pentagon without proper vetting protocol. Currently, if JD Ellis is charged with impersonation of a military officer or any other offense, our leadership will also be held accountable.

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We Do Not Belong to COGIC…COGIC SHOULD BELONG TO US

October 14, 2016
Leonard Lovett, Ph. D

man-in-bondage_edited-2-1“Be a member of this group or that denomination, but do not belong to it…belong to Christ. The group or denomination belongs to you; you do not belong to it.”  ESJ-  The Way. Brothers and Sisters in the faith the time has come to make this declaration clear without getting it twisted. We should belong to Jesus Christ, the Lord of the church as servants of a “Kingdom that not only will not be shaken, but cannot be shaken.” Hebrews 11: 28. A Bishop recently told me that a Minister from another denomination told him that “they used to look up to us for inspiration and guidance…unfortunately they are now looking at us on the internet with shame.”  The admonition quoted above are the words of the late Eli Stanley Jones, United Methodist Missionary to India for over a half century. Unfortunately, COGIC has become hostage to a leadership that has misled us  for quite sometime.  I am prepared to take the risk of exposing my own struggles and inadequacies in order to rescue us from a denomination that has become increasingly dictatorial and woefully authoritarian. Where are the so-called prophetic voices? They are either bought out, scared, silent or doing fundraisers called Revivals.

    By the way I have been warned to do an Elijah and go hide in a cave until the crisis pass over. In addition to being a child of the King I have too much of my father’s DNA with Cherokee Nation on my mother’s side. A relative told me that whatever my grandfather did to the slave-master they are still looking for him.  I buried cowardice decades ago. I learned from the best. Bishop Richard Eugene Ranger from Ft. Worth Texas was one of my mentors. I recently warned that Armageddon has come to COGIC. Some of our leaders not only have failed to protect us from scandal, but have brought “reproach” upon the name of our God who alone is holy.  Leadership is pre-occupied with getting re-elected for another term. I read somewhere that “we become whatever we worship.”  Idolatry is at the center of our Church. There have been no calls for prayer and fasting for God to intervene.  Traditional calls for prayer will not work at this time.

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IS GOD SUING COGIC?

Leonard Lovett, Ph.D

My routine begins around 5:00 AM with prayer for my family, the church and the nation.  Several months ago I was worried about the future of the church. God challenged me with a question: “what is that in your hand?”…Only a pen. God said “use it.” And to sanctify myself before writing so that no flesh would glory in His sight. When I am at the computer, I can feel the strong presence of the Lord, Bishop CH Mason, Mother Roberson, Coffey, Bishop Jones, Crouch, Clemmons Dr. Mallory, et.al. encouraging me in spirit to press on. I struggled several days for a title. Then, I heard the Lord say through Micah 6: 2, that “He had a controversy (KJV), accusation, indictment (MLV), case, complaint (LBV) against His people. And He will prosecute them to the fullest and let the mountains and hills be called to witness the complaint.”  Finally, I am liberated. I have no “axe to grind” “no enemies to punish” and “no friends to reward.” My writing is based on difficult research and I do not publish hearsay.

 I understand that in a real sense every civil court is a court of last resort because neither party would be there if there was any other way to resolve the dispute or controversy. Once a plaintiff files a suit and the defendant understands that the plaintiff is really serious, a compromise could save time and court costs. A lawyer should only be contacted when either party feels that there is no other remedy for a wrong.  Before a lawyer is retained one must prepare for the case. Documentation must be assembled, facts must be verifiable, etc. With enough evidence a complaint (or petition) describing the circumstances will be drawn up, naming the defendant.  A summons is issued, the decision is made to negotiate or proceed. The decision is made on either a jury or a sitting judge. Sworn depositions (statements relative to the case) will usually be taken by both attorneys are given under oath. Both attorneys prepare a trial memorandum stating their view of the the case citing relevant laws, precedents, statutes etc. keeping in mind the appeals court.  A subpoena is issued commanding the witness to appear at the trial in order to give testimony. The final ruling is made by the judge.

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A RADICAL CALL TO UNITY

                                                                               Leonard Lovett, Ph. D

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     Uniformity is not necessarily unity…please do not get them twisted.  Wearing the same religious garb or uniform is merely uniformity. Unity evolves from within. Unity must be sought after and desired if it is to be realized within the Body of Christ and our nation. It is a totality of oneness derived from the human spirit. With such a totality there can even be unity in diversity. However, uniformity is like a forced march…one obeys because of rules, pressure and compulsion. Authentic unity takes place when we respect each other for who we are and provide an opportunity for respectful dialogue to hear what the Spirit is saying through each of us. As a denomination we are facing the end of an era. An era is a distinct period of history with a particular feature or characteristic. The new era appears to be pointing to the need for a shift in leadership. The leadership styles of the past will not fit the new emerging challenges of the present. Respectfully, no single leader will successfully lead our denomination apart from a radical shift in style. One does not pour new wine in old wineskins according to Jesus. The ferment of the new wine is too strong for old wineskins. New wineskins are needed.  Radical new models of leadership are needed for our present situation.

     Hopefully, the denomination will transition to term limits in response to a rallying cry from our COGIC base constituency for same. Several Traditional mainline Black denominations have successfully transitioned to term limits without major upheaval.  When leaders are elected indefinitely they begin to substitute their limited authority for spiritual power. Lord Acton was correct – “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”   They argue that when leaders remain in office too long they often become selfish, self-serving and greedy. They confuse their term of office as a personal possession and not a great opportunity to serve God’s people through quality leadership.  Our founding Chief Apostle Bishop CH Mason was never caught up in unnecessary power struggles, taking sides and being divisive. He was never accused of absolute power and a lustful greed for money.

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A CHALLENGE TO THE NATION

Dr. Leonard Lovett

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  I had decided to remain silent and ride this one out. The fire in my heart like Jeremiah began to burn. The wanton murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota has spurred righteous indignation. The weak insipid response of the President was disappointing to say the least. His speech writers really got it wrong this time. To say this is not about race but an American problem is to diminish what most African-Americans experience on a day-to-day basis as being simply routine. Mr. President I respectfully ask how can you say in one breath this is not racial and proceed to give a litany of racial disparities that involved African-Americans and end with the tired phrase “all life matters ?” In context there is a disconnect between what you are saying and Black life “that really matters.” You proceeded to address the bias in the minds of Police Officers and on and on with useless tired rhetoric that failed to deal with a systemic problem, namely, institutionalized racism at its best. I am not blaming, but rather challenging you as leader to assist us in finding a way out of this morass

  What prevents you during the end of your second term from issuing a Moratorium on the killing and decimation of Black lives by racist bad cops? No all cops are not bad. There are many exceptions to the ones who have participated in the killing of Black men like animals within the last five (5) years. Six decades ago I marched against segregation so we could live in a nation without fear. Today when a cop blue lights you, most of us are almost gripped by fear of the unknown. A personal friend of mine told me that a cop stopped his son who was licensed to carry a weapon. He told the cop that he had a weapon. The cop told him to retrieve the weapon. He refused and told the cop where it was. His refusal saved his life. The cop in a laughing manner told him that had he reached for the weapon it would have been his life. That kind of behavior is all too often frequent and must be reported and never tolerated.

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The Trump Syndrome:

trump2Dr. Leonard Lovett

Donald Trump suffers from an incurable disease, and the diagnosis is clear: Diarrhea of the mouth and Constipation of the brain. He does not think before he speaks, therefore the prognosis is bad. We must never trust him with nuclear codes. He has started the “fear tactic” again, by attempting to re-define Islam. His persistent confusion of Islam as a historical faith is all too often confused with the extreme abusers of Islam such as Isis and other extremist who use the religion of Islam as a pretext to exact violence upon peoples of the West.  Islam as a faith has made major contributions to the building and development of civilization. Abuse of religion is at a premium in America.  Does anyone remember Jim Jones who led close to a thousand persons to their death in Guyana by drinking  a mixture  of water laced with a deadly poison and promised them a home in heaven? Banning Muslims from entering the country has the smell of Adolph Hitlerian savagery. Building  walls instead of bridges to keep Mexicans out is far more dangerous than we would like to admit. He may be insulting relatives of the maids, janitors and maintenance workers who keep his real  estate empire afloat by working for low wages.  Is that what the democratic experiment has come to?

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When is Enough, Enough? Greed as Idolatry

Dr. Leonard Lovett

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     I was intuitively urged to explore the biblical notion of greed as a form of idolatry after reading a scathing article in the Washington Post by Michelle Singletary in her The Color of Money column.

The title of the article was engaging: “Where Money Meets Faith, bring Skepticism…Be careful your pastor isn’t fleecing his flock.” She discusses Rev Robert “Dr. Shine” Freeman, a fifty-six (56) year old Maryland minister who was recently sentenced for twenty seven (27) months in prison pleading guilty to obstructing bankrupt court proceeding. That Shine took the command “let us pray” into “let us prey.” He preyed on people. He hid assets to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts. Shine was ordered to pay more than $650,000 in restitution to four (4) church members who took out loans to buy cars and a mansion. What Freeman did comes under the category of “affinity fraud.” Affinity fraud occurs when people use a personal connection such as religion or ethnic status to gain people’s trust and their money.

     Nearly one in four Ponzi schemes involve- affinity group targets according to studies by several reputable consulting firms. The three (3) most common affinity groups targeted by Ponzi schemes, accounting for eighty-five (85) percent of such cases, were the elderly or retired, religious groups and ethnic groups. Whenever a too-good-to-be-true is coming from someone you trust or respect and endorsed such as your pastor, raise the red flag. Freeman used his church members in the name of Jesus, to get what he could not afford, eleven (11) luxury vehicles worth a million dollars, a leased jet, a $1.7 million 9000 square foot house purchased by a member. Recently, a Bishop asked me whether I could recommend a “name” speaker to complete his conference calendar. I replied, do you want someone who can “entertain” or “challenge” the people? Entertaining, “grab your neighbor” false prophetic fundraisers are a “dime a dozen.” To find someone who will “stretch your people” to new levels of maturity and growth requires different search engines. Your ministry is like a tree, when it stops growing it is preparing for inevitable death.

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What is the Purpose of a Convocation?

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Leonard Lovett, Ph. D

Numbers 29:1 “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation…”

It is a tradition in the Church of God in Christ to convene annual Convocations within a State Jurisdiction (usually during late Spring and Summer), and the late Fall (November) for our International meeting). My path to COGIC was through an Annual Jurisdictional Convocation held in Miami at Cohen Temple COGIC. There was something attractive about the Sanctified Church that got my attention at age twelve. The late Mother Laura Barber Hall from Black’s Memorial COGIC would talk to us as neighborhood children and invite us to worship at the Sanctified Church. On special days the women wore white and looked sanctified (cleansed and purified). With permission I soon left Big Bethel AME and made the mistake of hanging out with people from the Sanctified Church. There was the usual precaution from the haters to “be careful those people may put goober dust on you and you may come under their spell.” But at the Convocation as a lad, I noticed that the meetings were dominated by focused worship and a deep sense of spirituality and purpose.
Children were not wandering alone as people entered the meetings with a sense of elation as they literally rushed for seats. They were filled with expectation and hope. In those days we were rarely disappointed as various Districts were in charge and the Word of God was preached as though the end times were near.

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