Are Our Efforts in Vain?

September 1, 2017
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I used to attend and serve in a church that is predominantly White. I now attend and serve in a church that is predominantly White with a twist. This new church is led by a Black pastor. One whom I have known for over 15 years. Both churches are considered evangelical, orthodox, reformed and Gospel centered. The main difference between the two is the church’s converging approach of justification and justice.

My old church definitely preached, proclaimed, and protected the doctrine of justification at every turn. There were even special sermon series dedicated to doing so. When it came to justice this church left much to be desired. My current church doubles down on justice since its inception. It also preaches, proclaims, and protects justification.

Is there an overall difference? Are our efforts in vain?

In the fight for making the gospel known with all of its implications brought front and center, the difference can be described as the body of an iceberg that’s not on top of the water. It’s most times never seen while also being pointed at by visitors or those who’ve remained on the sidelines watching the fight through pay-per-view lenses. And oddly enough this local body is predominantly White when counting members instead of attendees.

But the efforts given are valiant, not in vain. It’s not easy balancing the stigma of the gospel alongside the uncharitable label of liberalism often attached to social issues. And it could be several years until a local church situated in a diverse city is no longer predominantly White. But the fight must go on…especially when the Lord has called you to it. Engage. Encourage. Educate. Evangelize. Exalt Jesus and the plan of God.


A Believer’s Influence

March 24, 2017
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Ever considered that your presence and union (familial) carries with it a great influence? That believers have an ability to permeate things that are unholy? That the grace that’s given to you can also bless others?

Growing up in my late twenties, I encountered a few verses in Corinthians that really shook me. 1 Corinthians 7 is a chapter that talks much about marriage. A part of marriage involves both man and woman, husband and wife, as well as their children. In this passage Paul is laying out parameters for how the husband and wife are to relate to one another due to their spiritual state.

The spiritual presence of one believer is POWERFUL.

“For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”

What’s amazing from these two verses is that Paul is saying if the unbeliever wants to stay married, regardless of the temperature and pattern of your marriage, you do not divorce. Why? Because the unbeliever has been ‘sanctified’ simply through a marital union with the believer. The unbeliever is blessed simply for being connected to the believer in the primary family. God has always been big on families, and Paul is showing us that God has not changed one bit.

Then Paul goes on to say that the children who would be unclean if the parents divorced are now in fact holy because of his or her familial connection to a believing parent. Does that not rattle your cage a bit?

The unbelieving spouse and child are now in a different spiritual category. Notice the terms: unbeliever to sanctified and unclean to holy. That’s all due to the believing spouse and parent.

It is hard for me to wrap my mind around it all but I cannot deny what the text is saying. It is clear that families with at least one believing parent are able to bless the entire family unit. The unbelieving spouse is considered sanctified though unsaved. The unbelieving child is considered holy though unsaved.

Indeed, the spiritual presence of one believer is powerful according to Paul’s inspired text.

That’s Christianity?

July 30, 2013
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There’s something floating around local churches, books, blogs, articles, and the mouth of “babes” that there’s such a thing as a difference between guidelines and grace. Either Christianity is a relationship or it’s nothing else, because it surely couldn’t be and wouldn’t entertain the idea of rules and regulations. But I’m afraid there’s something much bigger on the rise with this premise.

Either Christianity is defined by its founder explained by its founding document OR it’s whatever you individually want to make it to fit your particular needs. In other words, we either have Christianity or we have nothing. As I type this, I realize that many folks subscribe to the teaching that “Jesus only wants a relationship” runs wilder than wildfire. This teaching is heralded from pulpits all over. I’m not here to point fingers; I’m here to point towards the Light. I do understand how bold of a stand I’m taking by creating this blog post, but this isn’t about me. It’s bigger than me…it’s bigger than those who disagree with me. This is about the Gospel!

God sends Jesus to save people joined together in a group called a church empowered by the Holy Spirit to mature into Christ and make disciples for Christ. Don’t be ashamed to consider Christianity a big ol’ factory that God elects, Jesus died for, the Spirit empowers, and Christians in turn obey and exhibit fruit. This has been going on for many centuries. Twenty to be exact. In fact, as Church history tells us, Acts 2 tells us of a group of 3,000 believers being joined together, eating together, living together, selling their things together, hearing the Word together, worshipping Jesus together, in the face of death and despair together. Now it’s true that a relationship was created and fostered, And let us not forget that Jesus died for the Church and will return to earth to live with her forever!

So when you hear someone talk about relationships outside the confines of Christianity, ask yourself this question: that’s Christianity? No, it’s not. It’s a step or two removed from what the Gospel is about. It’s a faded and forgotten image of what truth used to be. It’s syncretism at best and heresy at its worst. This is what it’s missing. The cross is centered and the Church stands at the foot of that wooden symbol. That is Christianity.

Quizzical Questions

March 13, 2013

In our society today we tend to take certain things as truth because to disbelieve them would warrant a person as not being supportive, being negative, and worst of all being judgmental. On the flip side of that coin, we also tend to ‘fact check’ lots of statements made by pundits, media, and the like and somehow that’s not deemed as being non-supportive, negative, or judgmental. It boggles the mind.

Now throw in the issue of someone being a Christian and things slow down like Neo in the Matrix. Why? Because so many people think that can’t be measured by anyone else but that person. Well to that I have some quizzical questions for those who agree:

Do you enjoy fellowship with God?
Are you sensitive to sin?
Do you obey God’s Word?
Do you reject the evil world?
Do you eagerly await Christ’s return?
Do you see a decrease pattern of sin in your life?
Do you love other Christians?
Do you experience answered prayer?
Do you discern between truth and error?
Do you have the witness of the spirit?
Are you rejected or persecuted for your Faith?

These are questions a good friend of mine, Flame, posed on one of his albums. These stem from 1 John.

Now for the same group that feels they are in some isolated bubble where no one else is able to weigh in on their salvation outside the normal factors our society cherishes, such as church attendance, I have a surprise for you from Jesus in Matthew 7:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

And this is Jesus talking about false prophets! So what makes us think he can’t do the same for any of us? He can because He’s God in flesh.

Just a little something to help us think through our standing before a holy Godhead. Let’s not fool ourselves with our own prideful thinking.

What Should The Church Do With Luke 22?

February 27, 2013
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Luke 22:36 is a phrase that’s most often ignored by Churches in general, and pastors in particular. Could it be that most faithful believers know not what to do with this verse, or are they afraid of the connotations that could be drawn from it? One may never know the real answer. Here’s the verse – “Then He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money-bag should take it, and also a traveling bag. And whoever doesn’t have a sword should sell his robe and buy one.”

I can hear someone saying, “well what about turning the other cheek?” Or I hear some reciting the famous Fred Hammond song as some sort of defensive shield that surrounds them after uttering “no weapon formed against me shall prosper.” But if someone’s in front of you with a weapon waiting to bludgeon you, “it won’t work” is probably what they’re thinking after hearing your utterance.

First, let’s set the context. Luke 22 tells of Judas’ plot against Jesus, the instituting of the Lord’s Supper, and Jesus telling Peter about his denying Him three times. So Jesus is speaking to the 11 disciples present since Judas has already left to go get his 30 pieces of silver for the betrayal. It’s safe to say that Judas just become a silver-naire. Jesus knew a mutiny was headed his way for the sole purpose of Scripture being fulfilled.

Second, let’s understand the words. The word ‘sword’ is used and many have wondered if Jesus is only saying to his disciples that they need swords. Let’s entertain that for a minute, because if that’s what Jesus is saying, ultimately He’s telling them to go arm themselves in order to defend themselves. He goes so far to say if they don’t have a weapon for self-defense, go sell something in order to attain it. Now why isn’t that ever preached on Sundays? Others have said that Jesus gave the OK for guns, knives, or anything else to defend themselves. Let’s entertain that for a minute – so what if He did? What if Jesus advocated the proto-2nd Amendment right to bear arms there at the table? Then we, the Church, shouldn’t be bashful nor ashamed about buying weapons. Nor should we take the high (nose up in the air) road about not owning a weapon but simply trusting in Jesus for our safety.

What would be a great thing is that we savor this verse along with the rest of this chapter and understand that Jesus called his disciples to protect themselves, and that extends to the rest of God’s people, aka us. We should be very leery of only reading one well-known passage or taking such a dogmatic position on something without having read the other inspired and authoritative parts of Jesus’ words.  Let us push to be faithful in this area as well.

Coming Out

February 27, 2013
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“I’m coming out….I want the world to know….got to let it show.” The phrase ‘coming out’ now has a different connotation in America. It’s now something that should be heard wherever and by all people in a respectful manner. I’ve seen news outlets cover several forms of people ‘coming out’ because it is deemed newsworthy and important for our society. I have also seen pastors and confessing Christians ‘outed’ and even ousted from speaking platforms for ‘coming out’ against those who identify with the homosexual group. Something’s wrong here….

If I come out and tell people at a high school pep rally or Grammy’s that I’m gay, and it’s recorded, the video ticker will get tired very quickly and someone’s going to locate it and give me free publicity while defending my every right to speak up knowing how hard it obviously had to be for me. BUT if I come out at those venues letting people know that I’m a Bible-believing Christian, and it’s recorded, slander and even anger both come my way and can stem from my speaking up regardless of how hard it obviously was for me. No news outlet is defending my right. That recording isn’t being shown on morning, afternoon, and late night news channels.

When will the people of God stop being afraid to ‘come out’ before a watching world? Will we wait for the times when it’s safe and acceptable? Will we wait for the times when our society loves Jesus and cheers on those who follow him? What exactly are we waiting for? If we’re waiting on either of those two scenarios to happen, we may as well hold our breath at the same time and see what happens. And I can assure you that death will come first, hands down.

I encourage all believers who have yet to stand up and say it loud, I’m a Christian and I’m proud! Stop letting the evils and sewage spewed from the mouth of society deter us from being as bold as those coming out the closet, or those riding around the city streets on their bikes wearing suits. We’ve got to let the Sword of the Spirit be our defensive weapon AND our offensive weapon/foundation. Even though the Bible is the most published book in the world, that doesn’t mean that folks are reading it! Let’s give them reasons to start

Is Christianity a Religious vs Spiritual Religion?

June 15, 2012
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Surely you’ve heard the phrase I’m not religious, I’m spiritual by now? I even hear Christian rappers demarcating Christianity and religion. So I decided to take a closer look into these misnomers, I mean labels, and write about what I discovered.

It was once, as it is now, an understanding that Christianity was counted among the world religions. Why is that important? Because the powers-that-be that come up with said list of world religions considered Christianity to be just that, a religion. And no one from the Christianity sideline yelled out “we’re no religion!” But why not? Because our predecessors would recognize what those powers-that-be also recognized. Would it shock you that the reformers never objected to this fact?

Wonder how the masses would react if the schools textbooks decided to oblige to the contention and removed Christianity from the world religions list?

I’m not talking about religion; I’m talking about a relationship!” Somebody cue the harps and lyres. Try looking up the definition of religion and it’s not hard to see that Christianity definitely belongs in that group. Try looking up James 1:27 and it’s not hard to see that Christianity entails the relationship aspect also. So what do we say now?

Are Christians now not spiritual? Some may agree. But they would be countering everything Paul said about believers in 1 Corinthians 2, “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.” It’s very clear that we are spiritual.

Are Christians now not religious? Some may also agree here, but they would be in conflict with what James said in James 1, “If anyone thinks he is religious  and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” In other words, James is saying that believers are religious while warning that they don’t deceive their own hearts by not guarding their tongues. So where do we go from here?

Let’s recap shall we. Christianity for many centuries has been confirmed and affirmed as a religion by both Christians and the world. Yes, the reformers even believed (ex: Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion). Christian believers are considered spiritual by Paul, and religious by James. Christianity is now and has always included the relational aspect. I understand that the term ‘religion’ carries with it negative connotations, but the world in general, and Christianity in particular is infamous for taking something that was once negative and putting a new and positive spin on it. Why won’t we do the same for these misnomers?

No disrespect to my friends and certain rappers who are guilty of demarcating Christianity from these other terms, but I think you ought to check the scriptures before spazzing out writing lyrics or trying to ‘win’ over the people who are against organized religion. Let’s not use these bad arguments any longer.