Promise 3: Taming the Tongue

March 24, 2020By PK ManagerDevotional

Promise 3: Virtue

A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.


When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

– James 3:3-12

In this short passage, James bluntly addresses the issue of our speech. Read over this passage again to catch the metaphors he uses to describe the tongue. Have you ever realized what a potentially wicked thing that little muscle in your mouth is? Make no mistake about it—the words you speak are powerful beyond imagination. They expand or limit your friendships. They can make or break your career opportunities. If you’re married, they’ll help determine the quality of your marriage. If you’re a father, they’ll shape your children.
A godly man recognizes the tongue’s power to build up or to tear down. But the tongue only shapes the words that originate in our hearts and minds. Hearts that are controlled by the Spirit’s power will produce speech that builds other sup instead of tearing them down. In other words, if we want to control our tongues, we must ask God to help us control our hearts.
The book of Proverbs is filled with verses that address a person’s speech. Turn to that book and take an hour or so to read through it. As you do, highlight in some way every verse that addresses this subject. Allow the Bible’s wisdom and the Spirit to direct your heart—and your tongue.

Since our founding in 1990, Promise Keepers has challenged men to keep seven promises. Learn more.

Why Sexual Purity Matters: A Woman’s Perspective

March 23, 2020By PK ManagerCulture

By Dr. Sheri Keffer

Sexual betrayal is devastating. I know because it happened to me. My own story, coupled with the voices of others who’ve experienced the same thing, shows what can happen to our relationships when we’re not diligent to protect our relationship and sex life. But there is another way.

The Impact of Sexual Betrayal

In my book Intimate Deception: Healing the Wounds of Sexual Betrayal, I share what I learned through research with 100 betrayed partners. My research revealed that 76% showed clinical symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Yet surprisingly, 88% of these same women said they would be willing to stay and work through the difficult process of healing — if the one who betrayed them would stop lying.

Men, this speaks to the incredible resiliency of the woman in your life. Most women are willing to fight for those they love. But it is critical that you understand what your wife needs from you. That’s why I recently asked 6,000 women to share their words and wisdom on the subject of sexual purity.

Most women are willing to fight for those they love. But it is critical that you understand what your spouse needs from you.

Restoration is possible, even after a betrayal. But pay attention to the insights from women [below]. They will help you avoid a disaster in your life, and your spouse will thank you. You see, to her, your sexual purity isn’t just important; it’s priceless.

How You Can Help Your Wife Feel Sexually Honored and Safe

  • Keep your word.
  • Tell me I’m beautiful.
  • Share your passwords.
  • Don’t have private social media accounts.
  • Don’t check out other women, thinking I don’t notice.
  • Take time to notice me, flirt with me, and listen to my needs so that I’ll feel cherished and protected.
  • Don’t look at porn. Honor my body by valuing my heart.
  • Look at me. In the kitchen, in the living room, and at dinner. Hold my hand. Offer a back rub or a foot rub and then let me enjoy it without expecting sex (unless I feel like initiating sex in response, of course☺).
  • Appreciate my “yes” and respect my “no.”
  • Stay present when you’re making love to me. Don’t close your eyes and go elsewhere (to your fantasy or porn library).
  • Take responsibility to rebuild trust when it’s been broken.
  • Be transparent and real in a solid men’s group that’s encouraging each other to love Jesus, their wives, and families.
  • Pray. Stay faithful in your relationship with the Lord.
  • Don’t wait. If you’re struggling with sexual purity, get help.
  • Be an example for our kids. They need to see what a healthy marriage looks like.

Dr. Sheri Keffer is a marriage and family therapist and a regular cohost of the nationally syndicated radio talk show New Life Live! Through her own personal story of recovery, she understands the trauma symptoms often associated with sexual betrayal and what it takes to heal well. She received the 2019 IITAP Outstanding Publication Award for her book, Intimate Deception: Healing the Wounds of Sexual Betrayal. Sheri also holds a degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

Don’t miss Part 1 of this series on sexual purity, written by Dr. Steve Arterburn.

You’ve Got to Run! Practical Advice for Staying Pure in an Impure World

March 20, 2020By PK ManagerCulture

By Stephen Arterburn

Perhaps you can identify with what happened to me. I was raised in a Christian home. We lived next door to my grandfather, whose name I carry. Grandpa and I had a special relationship. For reasons I still don’t understand, my parents allowed me to visit him without being supervised.

It was on one of those visits, at the tender age of 4, that I first encountered pornography.

The World Has Warped How We See Women

On the wall of Grandpa’s office, along with many other photos and drawings of naked women, hung the first Playboy centerfold. It featured Marilyn Monroe and was taken from the first edition of Playboy, published in 1953. That day, when I was only 4, one of the men I loved best taught me that women were merely objects for pleasure.

The women in those pictures were not equal to men. They existed only for our gratification. That is what my grandfather taught me, and that is what the world around me reinforced. It would take me half a lifetime to unlearn those pornographically induced lessons that created superficial connections and painful relationships with women.

God Has Called Us to Better Things

I share this story because no matter where you are on your journey to becoming a mature and godly man, I have most likely been there. I am grateful to have found the way out and to have found the path to becoming a real man of God.

In searching for that path, I have discovered a verse in the Bible that provides a lifetime of wisdom from God and protection from Satan’s lies. If you accept Christ as your Savior, then follow this verse. You will have an extremely good chance of living a life of virtue as a godly man who loves God and others well.

This verse is 2 Timothy 2:22: “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (NLT).

Porn Is Only Part of the Problem

If the latest statistics are true, and I believe they are, over 60% of Christian men are struggling with pornography. A Christian man should not look at pornography, of course, but stopping, while a good start, is not enough. This is about more than just pornography. It is about running from anything that stirs up lust or anything that could be said to “energize” lust and desire within you. That includes your best friend’s wife, the female down the hall you try to connect with “un-accidentally” every day, or a movie, or anything else that you would not want your wife, girlfriend, mother, daughter, or son to see you watch.

Stopping is a good first step, but it is far from enough. Stopping does not produce virtue in a man. You have to run from inappropriate images and connections and pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. When you pursue those things you are going after the pure gold of character and virtue. Pursuing “fool’s gold,” or the things, that arouse your lust, may look very appealing, but these are things Satan will use to make a total fool out of you.

The Key to Winning the Battle

Pursuing godliness means going after God’s standard, which means not only doing better than you used to or doing really great, but living the life of holiness God has called you and me to live. If you have ever tried living out of and into this standard of holiness, you know it is impossible to do alone. It is a never-ending battle, and winning it takes brothers who will come alongside you as fellow strugglers. You need the companionship of pure-hearted men who are in pursuit of our Lord and in pursuit of fulfilling Christ’s directive to love others well.

This is one of the biggest reasons why Promise Keepers and the opportunity it provides to build relationships with other godly men is so important. My prayer for you is that you will use the wisdom and direction of this powerful verse to cultivate a life of virtue that honors God, yourself and all those who are counting on you to do the right thing.

Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries and host of the #1 nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show, New Life Live! He is also a keynote speaker at Promise Keepers’ 2020 men’s conference. A well-known public speaker, Stephen is also a bestselling author of many books, including Every Man’s Battle. Stephen and his family live in Carmel, Indiana, where he serves as teaching pastor of Northview Church. We’re excited that Stephen will be a platform speaker at Promise Keepers’ 2020 Conference. Need help? Call 800-NEWLIFE.


Don’t miss Part 2 to this series on sexual purity by Dr. Sheri Keffer.

Promise 3: Contamination Alert

March 19, 2020By PK ManagerDevotional

Promise 3: Virtue

A Promise Keeper is committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.


“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’

Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’ And, ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’ Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

– 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

If you’ve ever had a bad cold or the flu, then you know what contamination is all about. Just as a single flu germ can infect a healthy person, so a little evil can contaminate a spiritually healthy person. Paul warns us to guard against the power of evil to contaminate good. His message about the dangers of alliances between believers and unbelievers (vv.14-16) refers not only to marriage, but also to business, religious, and other personal relationships. Notice that Paul emphasizes both a negative and a positive duty of every believer. First, we must avoid being corrupted by the influence of unbelievers, keeping both body and spirit clean from anything that might defile us. Second, we’re to continually seek to please God with our lives out of reverence and awe for him.
Paul raises five questions in this passage. Take a moment to read and answer them for yourself as you think about your relationships. How can you go about avoiding spiritual contamination? What steps can you take to pursue holiness?

Since our founding in 1990, Promise Keepers has challenged men to keep seven promises. Learn more.

Should Christians be Anxious about the Coronavirus?

March 17, 2020By PK ManagerCulture

By Todd Wagner

Author’s note: Since this article was originally published, authorities have increased their concern and the author agrees that our vigilance in preventing the spread of COVID-19 should appropriately increase as well. The heightened concern, however, only makes the truths below more important. Respect for others who are more susceptible to illness (including the elderly and immune-deficient) should cause us to operate with prudence and compassionate care, all the while modeling the strength and hope characteristic of those who know Christ (Prov. 24:10). Christ followers should also model compassion for those who choose to respond differently or react more strongly to circumstances and events (Prov. 18:2). Be gracious toward others. Continue to lead and minister in ways that express your God-given gifts. Recognize there is some subjectivity in responding to this crisis, even among those listening to and seeking God’s wisdom. Because Christians are citizens of heaven, filled with the strength and peace of Christ, we should be the best citizens on earth. I pray the principles below will help you do that.

With the increasing coronavirus cases outside of China, many believers across the United States wonder how to respond to the increasing alarm. What would God have us do in the face of a growing international health crisis? Should our churches close their doors for fear of spreading illness? Should I take my kids out of school? Cancel travel plans?

How should we help a panicked world?

Remember What We Know

First, it’s important to be reminded about what we already know. Worry is not our friend, and panic is not our way. Solomon reminds us, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Prov. 24:10). May it never be said that God’s people are governed more by fear than faith.

Corrie ten Boom, along with other faithful from among the nations, led courageously in the face of the Nazi fascism—a different form of deadly virus. And she reminds us, “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.”

In times of crisis, the world needs steady people who are strengthened by God’s grace and selfless by God’s power. Worry accomplishes nothing except weakness of heart and head. It’s been said that 90 percent of the things we worry or become panicked about never happen, and the other 10 percent are outside our control.

While we remain on alert against viruses of doctrine or disease, worrying won’t change our circumstances or lower our chance of infection. It won’t help us fight off illness or move us to action. Worrying about COVID-19 (or anything else) will only increase trouble. Rather than worrying and being anxious, Jesus calls us to respond with prayer and faith in him (Matt. 6:33–34Phil. 4:6). We need not worry ultimately because we know the One who has defeated sin and death (1 Cor. 15:55–57).

Remind yourself continually: it takes the same amount of energy to worry as to pray. One leads to peace, the other to panic. Choose wisely.

Love Well and Trust Him

If God calls us to worry about anything, it’s how to love people well. The psalmist encourages us, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (Ps. 37:3). Peter reminds us to press on in the midst of every evil. Whether persecutions or pandemics, we can trust in the Lord, knowing, “It is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Pet. 3:17).

Worry is common to man. But God has called us to face troubles and threats with courage, leaning our weight on him.

Throughout history, Christians have often stood out because they were willing to help the sick even during plagues, pandemics, and persecutions. They loved people and weren’t afraid of death because they understood that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). By stepping into the mess of sickness and disease, they were able to demonstrate their faith to a watching world. So, rather than just asking “How do I stay healthy?” perhaps we should be also ask “How can I help the sick?” Let’s be quick to help and slow to hide in basements.

Prayer-infused confidence, compassion, and selflessness should mark how we talk about the coronavirus. Why? Because our Savior put on flesh (John 1:14) and stepped into our sickness, sin, and death. He healed the sick and cared for the hurting. We must do likewise.

We Can Be Careful, Too

None of this means we should be reckless. Neither Christ’s love nor God’s Word encourages careless risks, but both promote obedience. Loving the sick doesn’t mean we intentionally infect ourselves (Prov. 22:3). If infection becomes a legitimate risk (at the moment, the Center for Disease Control says the virus isn’t communally spreading in the United States, and the health risk is low), responding to the coronavirus likely means taking small practical steps like washing our hands and staying home if we’re sick.

Before you think of canceling church services, ask, “How can we care for those at risk?” As others get sick, care for them. Are most of you still healthy? That’s a great reason to gather for thanksgiving and prayer. Seek appropriate medical care as symptoms arise and don’t forsake caring for one another.

Follow the example of those who’ve acted faithfully in the past. In 19th-century England, when thousands were dying of cholera, Charles Spurgeon visited homes to care for people. The church of Jesus in Wuhan China, the virus’s epicenter, is faithfully leading even today.

Finally, as you watch the world react to this crisis—itself a stark reminder of our mortality—don’t neglect to share the hope you have in Jesus (1 Pet. 3:15). Share how he rescued you from the universal epidemic of sin and the penalty of death. Share that your hope is not found in remaining healthy this side of heaven.

We’ll all face death eventually. Thanks to Jesus, we can come to that day with confidence. Like Paul, we can remember that to live is Christ, but to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). We truly have nothing ultimate to fear—not from the coronavirus, the Ebola virus, natural disasters, or anything else.

Press on, friends. Pray for the sick. Walk in God’s strength. Love the brotherhood. Do good to all men. Use your health to serve, not to hide. Jesus is sovereign over it all. And we are immortal until God’s work for us to do is finished.

This article appeared March 3, 2020 on The Gospel Coalition website.

Todd Wagner is senior pastor at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas and is on the Promise Keepers Board of Directors.  He is the author of Come & See: Everything You Ever Wanted in the One Place You Would Never Look (David C. Cook) and hosts a weekly podcast, Real Truth Real Quick, on life, leadership, and the world we live in.

More resources from PK partners and friends regarding COVID-19:

‘Without Jesus, I Wouldn’t Be Who I Am’: World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Evander Holyfield

March 9, 2020By PK ManagerNews
This article appeared in Christian Headlines.

by Maina Mwaura

Mention the name Evander Holyfield and the first few things that may come to most people’s minds are: boxing champion, the ear-biting incident with Mike Tyson or maybe even headlines from tabloids that pick apart the four-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world. However, there is far more than what meets the eye when it comes to Evander Holyfield; he is nothing short of “The Real Deal.”

Born in Atmore, Alabama before his family moved and called Atlanta, Georgia home, Holyfield – also nicknamed The Warrior – overcame many obstacles in his life to which he gives all the glory to God. When Christian Headlines asked him why he’s decided to be so outspoken about his faith, Holyfield didn’t have to think twice. He responded, “Because, without Jesus, I wouldn’t be who I am.” Holyfield went on to credit his mother and grandmother for showing him tough love and always encouraging him to call on the name of Jesus. “They (his Grandmother and mother) kept reminding me, ‘you’ve got to ask Jesus to help you,’” he recalled.

His faith in God and having a family that demonstrated the example of relying on Jesus set the foundation in his life that enabled him to not only overcome obstacles and adversity but to stay positive. No matter what obstacles he has encountered – not even his ten losses that he refers to as “setbacks” – Holyfield insists that he tried to stay positive because God should be reflected in his actions. He said, “I have a purpose to represent God and I’ve got to represent him the best way I know how.”

Over the years, Holyfield has shared how his faith in Jesus Christ has never failed him. He wants to share this message with other men to encourage them to be open and truthful about their faith, too. So, Christian Headlines asked him why he believes people should come to Promise Keepers—an Evangelical parachurch organization created for men to encourage one another through fellowship and prayer.

He responded, “Men should come together being able to open up and being able to be truthful … because you have to be truthful to overcome things.” Holyfield says he never gets tired of people asking questions about the infamous ear-biting incident during a boxing match with Mike Tyson. He uses it as an opportunity to share a pertinent part of the Gospel. Simply, “God wants you to forgive.”

He is steady in his conviction that “I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t been through what I’ve been through.”

Promise 2: Real Men Weep

February 28, 2020By PK ManagerDevotional

Promise 2: Brotherhood

A Promise Keeper is committed to pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises.

“Jesus wept.” – John 11:35

“Jesus wept.” Those two words comprise the shortest verse in the Bible. Yet, they say volumes about real manhood, don’t they? They tell us that real men love deeply (see 11:5 and 36), real men cry when they’re in pain, and real men allow others to see their pain (see v. 38). Most men find it difficult to openly share their pain. After all, if they should cry, others might think they’re weak or inadequate. For most men in our society, crying as Jesus did leaves a sense of being uncomfortably vulnerable. Yet Jesus, during this time of intense emotion, wept. His display was such that others who saw him weeping could openly see the love he had for Lazarus and his two sisters.

Crying can bring healing and much-needed emotional release. In a sense, it cleanses the soul. It also places us in a position where others can express their love to us. They can comfort us during our times of deep pain, and in so doing reinforce the emotional connections that are imperative to strengthening the bond of friendship.

Since our founding in 1990, Promise Keepers has challenged men to keep seven promises. Learn more.

Promise 2: Greatness Comes By Serving

February 22, 2020By PK ManagerDevotional

Promise 2: Brotherhood

A Promise Keeper is committed to pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that he needs brothers to help him keep his promises.

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’

You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’

‘We can,’ they answered.

Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'”

– Matthew 20:20-28

Men often find it hard to get close to other men. Why? One reason is because men tend to view each other as competitors, as rivals. Most men think that opening up to other men will put them at a disadvantage and give the others some kind of an edge. That’s probably why the disciples were ‘indignant’ when they heard about the request of James and John’s mother. If this woman succeeded in her behind-the-scenes lobbying, the rest of them would be on the bottom of the ladder looking up at their rivals.

But Jesus turned their thinking upside down. He told them that the key to true greatness isn’t in climbing over others, but in helping them up and serving them. From Jesus’ perspective, men aren’t rivals who need to compete; they’re allies who need to help each other along on the journey of life.

Since our founding in 1990, Promise Keepers has challenged men to keep seven promises. Learn more.

PK 2020: Earlybird Pricing Ends Friday

February 19, 2020By PK ManagerMy PK Story

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

More than ever, America needs a revival of godly men. Our nation faces problems that can only be overcome when men of integrity — promisekeeping men — fulfill their destinies as godly husbands, fathers, and leaders. That’s why we’re calling on men everywhere — all of us — to boldly rise up and STAND STRONG as the men God intended us to be.

Join us July 31-August 1, 2020, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in the heart of Dallas-Ft. Worth.

Just like the iconic Promise Keepers conferences of previous years, we’re going to shake the foundations as we worship together. We’re going to drink deeply from the Word of God. And we’re going to return home as changed men. Through Fire Teams — small groups of men in each church linked by a smartphone app — we’re going to stay connected like never before. Together we will bless our families, strengthen our churches, and transform our communities. We won’t rest until we’ve brought radical revival to this country. And we need you to join us.

Register for the PK 2020 Conference – and invite others to join you. We are honoring the Early Bird Discount through this Friday, February 21, 2020.

As always, we have low rates for all military and first responders. We also have reduced rates for families and groups. Hotel discounts are available through our website. 

Why I’m Going to PK2020

“Attended my first PK Conference in Denton, TX summer 1993! Over the years I’ve been to over 25 PK conferences. PK offered me answers for my life as a Man, Father, Husband, Worker, Volunteer that I could not easily access in the local church.” – M.L.

“I went with my dad when I was 14. It was the best weekend I ever had with my father. And I can’t wait to repeat that with my son.” – S.S.

Black Church Worship: A historical and theological interpretation of a people who were pressed, perplexed, and persecuted

February 18, 2020By PK ManagerCulture

I am often asked by white congregants if the church is moving toward unity and oneness in Christ Jesus, and if [my denomination’s] convention (SBTC) has moved positively toward the “Look Like Heaven” emphasis. What is the reason for the emphasis on the black church and black worship in the month of February?

First, black worship is connected with black life and it is characterized by a religious sense inseparable from the suffering that determined it. When black people gather together for worship and praise to God, it is not because they have made a decision about the theological merits of Luther’s 95 Theses or of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Second, black worship has been wrought out of the experience of slavery, lynching, ghettos and police brutality. As my deceased father would preach speaking in terms of our pain, “… we have been ‘buked and scorned” and “talked about–sho’s you borned.” In worship, we try to say something about ourselves other than what has been said about us in society. Through sermons, prayers and songs,  we have transcended societal humiliation and degradation to explore heavenly mysteries about starry crowns, long white robes and gospel shoes on golden streets.

For us, the church has been the citadel of hope–a sanctuary of peace. Whereas the church has been the only place where we could go with tears in our eyes without anyone asking, “What are you crying about?” We preach, shout and sing the songs of Zion according to the rhythm of the pain and the joy of life WITHOUT being subjected to the dehumanizing observations of intellectuals such as sociologists, psychologists and theologians.

In worship we can be who we are as defined by our struggle rather than be defined by modern society. Furthermore, our gathering for worship has been dictated by a historical and theological necessity that is related to the dialectic of oppression, and our attempt to liberate ourselves from it—for which we would have no reason to sing, “How I go over, my soul looks back and wonders how I got over …”

Third, black worship was born in slavery on slave ships and nurtured in the cotton fields of Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia and Mississippi. It was birthed out of the struggle of black slaves seeking to define their humanity according to their anticipated freedom, and not according to slavery. For slaves, there was present the divine dower of “D Lawd,” who was greater than the white structures that enslaved them. When black slaves were tempted to give up in despair, this power (D Lawd) gave them hope that slavery would soon come to an end.

The source which black people used for explaining this power was the Holy Scripture as interpreted by our African heritage and our desire for freedom. Black worship is biblical! One of the most amazing facts of history is that many black slaves could not read, but their hermeneutics was not derived from an intellectual encounter with the text, but from a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Because slaves were able to make a radical epistemological distinction between the gospel of Jesus and the religion of the whites, the slaves came to a different theological conclusion about God. When African slaves heard of the Old Testament story of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, they identified themselves with the Hebrews and their white slaves masters as the Egyptians—and for them no  exegesis could change that. It is this theological certainty that enabled them to sing, “… Oh Mary, don’t you weep, oh Martha don’t you moan, Pharaoh’s army got drownded in the Red Sea; Oh Mary, don’t you weep, oh Martha don’t you moan.”

Therefore, the theme of God as the liberator is found throughout the history of black religion. The theological conviction that the God of the Bible is the liberator of the poor and the downtrodden was and is the mindset of black people even today. For us as black people, God is a mighty God, our heartfixer, our mind regulator. In our worship he is known by the presence of his divine Spirit with us, giving us not only a vision that society must be transformed, but also giving us the power and courage to participate in that transformation.

Finally, black worship is a series of recitals of what God has done to bring his people out of hurt, harm and danger. In black worship, God is that divine miracle who enables his people to survive amid wretched conditions. In black worship, God is holy, personal and all-powerful. Our understanding of that fact is what drives us to sing, shout and preach, “He walks with me and talks with me and tells me that I am his own.” In black worship, God is everything we need in order to triumph over terrible circumstances.

But wait! You cannot leave out Jesus of black worship! In the black church, Jesus is known for his identification with the poor—and there is NO distinction in essence between God and Jesus. Jesus is our constant companion, the one who walks with his people. He is the oppressed one who experiences the brokenness of humanity.

Now that you have a better insight and meaning of the black church worship experience, my dear beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, I invite you for one Sunday in the month of February to go worship with your local SBTC black church and experience our unique heritage of praising our Lord!

This article first appeared in the Southern Baptist Texan. The author, Pastor Donald G. Burgs, Jr., is the president of the SBTC African-American Fellowship and serves as senior pastor of Alief and Tabernacle Baptist Churches.