Monday, May 10, 2021


 Papa Tee died on Mother’s Day. For 39 years, this towering six-footer had a profound influence on my life. Our incredible story began with a preaching assignment in St Louis, Missouri. An ordinary annual missions convention provided the opportunity to meet two extraordinary luminaries, Thomas and Thelma Smith.

No one imagined that that encounter in 1982 would have such an overwhelming impact on my family and me. Within two weeks of our historic meeting in St Louis, the Smiths were in Jamaica on a pre-arranged vacation. It was during that visit they met my wife in hospital, where she had just given birth to our last child. Within one month of the missions convention, some networking began that would influence our family in unbelievable ways.

Almost ten years later my family migrated to the United States where my wife and I pursued advanced studies. We lived in a suburb north of Chicago. It was during our first experience with American Thanksgiving, the Smiths taught us that Thanksgiving was a season when families got together. So, they were expecting us to join them and drive the 300-mile trip to St Louis.

Five of us loaded into a borrowed car and headed south. The warmth of their home was welcomed – it was my family’s first winter in the United States. The huge park opposite, the rich family history and military stories were our introduction to an African American home.

“David,” said Papa Tee, “our Bible Study group has been praying for you and your family. We also began a fund to get a car for you, here are the keys.” The car was licensed, insured and filled with gas for our return trip to Chicago. “In addition,” said this ex-marine, “use this credit card to put only high premium gasoline in the car.” That display of generosity enabled us to own or first car in America.  

The Smiths were instrumental in endearing us to a number of firsts in America. Frequent trips to St Louis allowed us to meet other members of the Smith family. Mama Tee, as she was affectionately called, communicated with hundreds of students through Bible correspondence courses. She delighted in taking us to her basement where she had her beauty salon. She showed pictures of her famous clients, including her brother Chuck Berry, one of America’s Rock & Roll pioneers.

Our family pictures remind us that the Smiths also traveled north to our graduations and special events. Other events were not as celebrative. Officiating at the funerals of Mama Tee, their daughter Pam and Mama Tee’s brother Paul, reminded us that family life includes moments of joy and sorrow.

Papa Tee was an encourager. Frequently, he would remind us that he prayed for us everyday. He was constantly advising the children on ethnic challenges in America. He followed their academic progress and challenged them to excel. My wife was occasionally called into private sessions with Mama Tee. Upon exiting, her head and hands were filled with ideas and ladies’ fashion. Papa Tee never missed an opportunity to encourage me to publish my sermons. For me, he was far too generous in his accolades. He even left instructions that I should preach at his Thanksgiving Service.

Papa Tee loved baseball – he loved the St Louis Cardinals. He was as familiar with their history as with the status of current players. He also had a tremendous sense of humor. After the passing of his dear wife, he was approached by a few ladies. He made each one to know that his name was not Abraham, and they were not Sarah. If they did not know the Genesis story, that too would make them ineligible.

As I reflect on his 99 years, I am prone to ask myself, what words best describe Papa Tee? I believe the words, HE LOVED OTHERS would apply. Ask his family members, ask the few surviving colleagues, and ask Bill. They embraced Bill as a teenager and poured their lives into him. Now he is fully retired and has poured his life into their lives.

Within recent years, Papa Tee would answer every phone call with the words, John 3:16. Whatever you wanted to share with him was secondary to his passion to talk about the Lord Jesus. He talked as though Jesus was literally in the room with him. You would not dare try to gossip, be offensive or crass with your comments. His love for Jesus gave him a craving to be with Jesus.

One of his doctors told him that he should discontinue having shrimp and lobster for dinner. “Why,” he asked. “Would that kill me? Thank God, I am ready.” He literally enjoyed every facet of life. He never feared death. He lived for his Lord and looked forward to meeting Him.

On Mother’s Day 2021, as the world remembered the women that showed care, I also remembered Papa Tee, my towering, caring giant.  



Monday, April 19, 2021


 The La Soufrière volcano on St. Vincent, which first erupted in explosive fashion on April 09, continues to spew ash and smoke high into the atmosphere in seemingly relentless eruptions. Weather satellites have captured dozens of eruptions since the volcano first blew its top. Volcanic ash has spread hundreds of miles eastward, even obscuring the sun in Barbados.


The Associated Press reported that “damage was extensive in the island’s Northeast region,” based on an account from St. Vincent Deputy Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel. “Forests and farms were wiped out, with coconut, breadfruit, mango and sour-sop trees destroyed, as well as plantain and banana crops.”


The compassionate response to this tragedy has been tremendous. From military manpower to tons of foodstuff have been arriving from many countries. Even cruise ships have offered temporary housing to persons affected. The support is overwhelming, and I can only pray that this display of kindness would not be subjected to abuse. I am also grateful for the intellectual support that enabled Vincentians to be aware of the pending eruption of La Soufrière. The adequate warnings saved thousands of lives.


In legal usage throughout the English-speaking world, what happened in St Vincent was an act of God. An act of God is a natural hazard, outside human control, for which no person can be held responsible. An act of God may amount to an exception to liability in contracts or it may be an "insured peril" in an insurance policy.


However, I contend, volcanoes are not mere liabilities. Like other acts of nature, volcanoes serve a purpose.


1. Atmospheric cooling

Volcanoes explode ash and sulfur gas into the stratosphere. “The sulphur gas combines with water in the atmosphere, creating microscopic droplets that can stay in the atmosphere for years.” It is believed that the effect of those aerosol droplets is cooling the lowest level of the atmosphere, which is the level in which we live and breathe. I understand volcanoes cool the atmosphere about ½ a degree Celsius. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when we’re talking about anthropogenic global climate change, volcanoes have actually helped to keep the world about 2 to 3 degrees cooler than it otherwise may be.


2. Land formation

All of the land in the Hawaiian Islands was created because of volcanic eruptions. As recent as December 2020, we witnessed eruptions with Kilauea, as lava was poured into the ocean and created new land. Kilauea is an active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands. Historically, it is the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the Big Island of Hawaii.


3. Fertile land

Fertile soil is another advantage of volcanic activity. In places like Japan, Indonesia, Philippines and Hawaii, volcanic material mixed-in with the soil provides a lot of important nutrients. Volcanoes also provide a good environment for the formation of new habitats for animals, plants and insects.


4. Geothermal energy

Hot springs and geothermal energy are additional benefits. People use geothermal energy in places like New Zealand and Iceland. The most active geothermal resources are normally found along major plate boundaries where volcanoes and earthquakes typically occur.


5. Raw materials

Sulfur, copper and gold are produced from volcanic activity. Diamonds are also brought up to the surface from a rare kind of magma (molten rock formed in the interior of the earth), also known as kimberlite.


Volcanic material can be made into blocks, and a lot of the materials are mined, especially in places like Indonesia. Volcanic materials can also be ground-down to help make cement and finer products.


Agreed, when harnessed properly, volcanic materials can produce remarkable items of value. However, volcanic eruptions are destructive. Such destruction provide opportunities for mankind to rise to incredible heights. Many of those heights are being achieved today as many respond to the destructive impact in St Vincent.


Whereas good can emerge from volcanic tragedy, it is also true that human tragedy often emerges from human good. I am referring to the goodwill shown to relieve the victims of tragedy. Accolades to persons who are determined to relieve pain, and shame on those who are determined to exploit that kindness.


Volcanoes are acts of God. Acts that provide opportunities for nature and humans. This is when we can display creativity, innovation, compassion and resilience. Also remember that our beautiful Caribbean beaches, fauna, flora, waterfalls and natural beauty, are also acts of God.



Monday, April 12, 2021


 Film director Mel Gibson is planning to return with a sequel to the highly successful movie, Passion of the Christ. One possible aspect of this upcoming film will show what Jesus did in an otherworldly realm during those three days, before he returned from the dead. Jim Caviezel, who played the role of Jesus in the Passion of the Christ, believes the upcoming film on the resurrection of Jesus, is "going to be the biggest film in world history."


Brief releases of the film suggest that in focusing on “what Jesus did in an otherworldly realm during those three days”, would rely heavily on the Apostles’ Creed. After affirming that Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried, the Creed contended that Jesus “descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead”.


The Apostles' Creed is a good summary of Christian doctrine. However, there is a primary concern regarding the phrase “He descended into hell.” This view is expressed in the Catholic Catechism and held among many Protestants as well. However, I do not believe that the New Testament teaches that Jesus went to hell between his crucifixion and his resurrection.


The key New Testament passage that is often cited in the discussion is 1 Peter 3:18-19. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits. The words “alive in the Spirit refers to the Spirit of Jesus. The contrast is between the fleshly body of Jesus and His Spirit. His body was in the tomb, but His spirit, having departed at His death was elsewhere for three days. (“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit” Matthew 27:50).


According to Peter, sometime between Jesus’ death and His resurrection, He made a special proclamation to some imprisoned spirits. Who were these imprisoned spirits to whom Jesus spoke? Peter states that they were “those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (1 Peter 3:20).


In order to understand what Peter is saying here, it is necessary to carefully examine the context from which he was writing. In chapter one of his letter, he argued that prophets, including Noah, “spoke of the grace that was to come…trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing…” (1 Peter 1:10-12). In other words, while the prophets were speaking, they were inspired by the Spirit of Christ, to say things they did not understand. Christ was speaking through the prophets by means of His Spirit.


2 Peter 1:21 tells the same story: “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”. From this understanding, one can conclude that Peter was indicating that Noah was inspired to actually preach in the Spirit of Christ. He was not contending that Jesus actually or physically spoke to people in the days of Noah.


However, the Bible teaches that Jesus “made a proclamation to imprisoned spirits”. Where and when did this meeting take place? This meeting of the spirits would have taken place during those three days, between his crucifixion and his resurrection. That meeting would have taken place in the realm of the dead. The New Testament refers to this place as Hades (Sheol in the Old Testament). The word simply means “the place of departed souls/spirits”. Whereas the place of the dead is temporary, hell is permanent. Revelation 20:14 teaches that hades was thrown into the lake of fire or hell – that is the second death. Jesus did not go to hell, He went to hades.


The Bible is not very clear regarding what exactly happened during those three days between the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. However, whatever happened could be described as outcomes of the crucifixion. These would have included Jesus leading a host of captives (Ephesians 4:8). Interestingly, all post-crucifixion references connote scenes of victory. These victories apply to the entire scope of human history. From “the seed of the woman who would crush the head of Satan” in Genesis, to the restoration of the Garden of Eden in Revelation.


For these reasons, I would delete the words, “he descended into hell” from the Apostles’ Creed. For these reasons, I would also celebrate the impact of the crucifixion of Jesus. The crucifixion of Jesus touches all of human history and even creation, “which groans as in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8:22-25).



Monday, April 5, 2021


 In my Easter Sunday sermon, I contended that the death of Jesus and the appearances of Jesus following his death, can be established as historical events. However, in order for both events to be historical events, someone would need to explain what happened between the events. Simply put, the first event told of Jesus’ death. The second, told of appearances following his death.

Everyone knows that following death, there is the decomposition of the body of the deceased. Christians agree, but contend that in the case of Jesus, there was no decomposition. Instead, Jesus was seen for forty days by hundreds of eyewitnesses. Some critics contend, it is impossible for both events to have taken place. To which Christians would argue, that with Jesus, his postmortem appearances were unnatural, but not impossible.

In the first place, one must establish the credibility of the New Testament record that Jesus died. No one else died for him. Neither did he faint on the cross. Medical science will indicate that the blood and water that flowed from his side confirmed his death. Giving his lifeless body to Joseph of Arimathea for burial was either as a result of death or, a dereliction of duty by the Romans.

Credible non-canonical New Testament writings further confirm the New Testament records that Jesus died. These will include works by Justyn Martyr and Roman Senator Tacitus. Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian (ca 93-94 CE), wrote that “there was a wise man called Jesus... Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.” Even Christian-turned-atheist Professor Bart Ehrman, admits that “the crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans is one of the most secure facts we have about his life.” 

Evidence is equally convincing about the postmortem appearances of Jesus. What else could have transformed the disciples from fearful to be forthright in their witness? Or, what could have caused the rapid growth of the Jesus movement?

In his volume on The Jewish Messiahs, Jewish Professor Harris Lenowitz, makes the point: “Since the success of a messiah cult depends, ultimately, on the victory of the messiah, and since the messiah must eventually die, the cult must fail, either upon the messiah’s death or whenever it can no longer maintain its hope in his triumphant reappearance.” Unfortunately, following this statement, Lenowitz, the Jew, argued that Christianity grew because it moved in a direction totally different from its dead leader.

Professor Lenowitz, the evidence is clear - following the death of Jesus, his followers-maintained loyalty to a living Saviour. Their choice to worship on the first day of the week was consistent with his resurrection. So too were their baptismal creed and form of greeting after church services.

Since it is unnatural for someone to be clinically dead and reappear to his followers, how could Christians contend that that was exactly what happened with Jesus? A number of theories have been advanced to explain this phenomenon, and Christians have opted for the most plausible.

Upon discovering that the body of Jesus was missing, the Jewish authorities devised a plan. They instructed the soldiers to say, “his disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep” (Matthew 28:13). But what would fearful disciples do with a battered dead body? Remember now, they were from the Galilean region, some eighty miles north. This is a dishonest theory.

Another theory expressed in Islamic literature, is that Allah took Jesus to heaven, sparing him from crucifixion on the cross. There is no credible historical support for this theory. Agreed, the theory alleges that Jesus is alive today. However, to suggest that he did not die on the cross, removes the need for resurrection, questions the veracity of Jesus’ postmortem appearances, challenges the credibility of the New Testament and undermines the foundation of Christianity. Totally untenable.

Some Christians advance the view that what happened after the death of Jesus was spiritual resurrection. In other words, it was the positive memories of Jesus that inspired the fearful disciples to become brave. This branch of Christianity is devoid of anything miraculous. In addition, these believers ignore texts which clearly state that Jesus was raised from the dead – that is physical death.

The best explanation as to what happened following Jesus’ death on the cross, is physical resurrection. Agreed, that view is not natural, it is supernatural. It is illogical to believe that it is natural or humanly possible for someone to die and be resurrected. The New Testament refers to this as an act of God. Almost every reference to resurrection states, it was “… God who raised Jesus from the dead…”.

For Christians, the resurrection of Jesus affirms our salvation (Romans 10:9). Resurrection also consolidates our faith as believers (1 Corinthians 15:17) and affirms our hope, in that after death, we too will rise again like our Risen Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

That is the Easter story, not myths about bunnies, eggs and rabbits.