He was cru·ci·fy·ed for our sins,

cru·ci·fy ˈkro͞osəˌfī/ verb past tense: crucified; past participle: crucified 1. – to put (someone) to death by nailing or binding them to a cross, especially as an ancient punishment. For as…

Source: He was cru·ci·fy·ed for our sins,

prayer in unity

We went to church in Paterson Sunday and there were three things in this church that I could not help but take note that, 1) there was an over abundance of women in the church, and 2) there was a noticeable lack of teenagers to thirty-something year old folk in the church, and 3) the music in the church was awesome!

As we drove through a blighted neighborhood in Paterson to the way church Sunday, I could not help but reflect on a book by Tom Burrell that I’ve been reading lately titled, “Brainwashed.” In Brainwashed, Burrell encourages his audience to, 1) consider the power of the ancient wisdom that says, “as ‘a man’ thinks in his heart, so is he”, and 2) to consider the horrible impact that generations of negative thinking is having a significant number of our neighbors, and finally 3) to seek significance by reaching for the amazing potential for good that God has placed inside of each of us (and not the destructive and ugly stereotypes far too many have brought into as the “truth”).

As I drove home from church, I could not help but renew my belief in the hope that we have in Christ; hope that is unleashed through the bold proclamation of the gospel, and through the power of the Holy Spirit to transform lives.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

In every place, in every culture, at every time, and in every circumstance the gospel has proven to be the difference maker. For this reason, when God used the apostle Paul to reach out to the amazingly messed up Corinthians, He did not empower him to preach religion, nor did he inspire him to lower the lights, plug in the praise band, and rock the house. The LORD empowered Paul to preach the gospel to the Corinthians, and to encourage those that believed the gospel to come together as brothers and sisters and form a new community not based on race, or religion, but based on faith and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  The Bible calls this new community the church, the body of Christ, and it is here where God’s love is displayed in living color to the watching world. As members of this new community, our obligation to one another is to love one another, and to encourage one another to live this life just as He lived it on earth almost 2,000 years ago.  As it is written:

1 Peter 3:8 ¶ Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

FYI – Below is an excerpt from Burrell’s book Brainwashed

Our Family crisis is inseparable from our black male and female identity crisis, and brainwashing has left a great many of us fearful, confused about our
identities, and hopelessly caught in a cycle of relationship underachievement.

To many black men are still stuck in roles ultimately dictated by slavery. Some, living up to the expectation that they are irresponsible, take pride in making babies knowing they can leave without stressing about the outcome of their actions.

Black boys are not the only recipients of the psychological and physical trauma inflicted on their emasculated fathers. Vulnerable black daughters seeking love and validation from the first man in their lives are often left to fend for themselves, relying on their mothers or society to define black manhood for them. Like their mothers, the girls are saddled with feelings of disillusionment and disappointment in black men that often becomes a permanent fixture of their psyches. …. many black women have been brainwashed to be active enablers of irresponsible men, supporting the unhealthy behavior of their mates, leading to future relationships fraught with unnecessary drama.”

“As the saying goes, black men have been brought p by mothers conditioned to ‘raise their daughters and spoil their sons.’ For many black mothers without committed male partners, the son becomes the ‘little man’ whom the omther overindulges and neglects until he gets to an age where she can no longer handle him. Rationalizing that he is indeed a ‘man,’ she submissively allows the boy to come and go as he pleases.

Poor young black women with little education pay the greatest toll. Many are tragically retro, stuck in the past where women had little control over their sexuality. Following in the footsteps of their female ancestors, they are brainwashed into believing that motherhood is the means by which they can validate themselves; having babies with no resources is seen as a way out. ….

THESE DISTRESSING PATTERNS MUST BE ACKNOWLEDGED AND ADDRESSED IF WE EVER WANT AN INKLING OF A CHANCE TO FOSTER STRONG BLACK FAMILIES.” (Tom Burrell, Brainwashed: Challenging the myth of Black Inferiority, p.32-33)

Don’t be discouraged after reading the above citation from Burrell. There is hope! For the Bible says, “Be Ye Transformed!”

Romans 12:1 ¶ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

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How to kill a giant

I needed to re-read this today. Thanks Lord for the reminder of your empowering grace.

A View From PEW

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1 Samuel 17:33, 37 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine {Goliath} to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” …… David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Humanly speaking, Saul spoke the truth when he said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine.”  Take a quick look at David’s resume below and see if you don’t agree with Sauls words

  • David was merely a youth (a lad) when Saul shared his assessment of David’s chance of success against Goliath.
  • David was not even the choicest of his own fathers children.
  • David was a shepherd to this point of his career, and unskilled in war.

Goliath…

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Beauty for Ashes – Trusting God Through Tough Situations

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I remember once saying to a friend of mine, “O, it looks like you have a cold.”  To which he replied, “Don’t put that on me, I am not claiming it.”  Well, seeing my friend standing before me with tissues stuffed into his nostrils, a blanket wrapped around his body, and sweat pouring from his forehead prompted me to reply, “You don’t have to claim it, it has claimed you.”

We are not called to play games with reality.  Our believing that pain, sickness, suffering, poverty, war, death (and etc) are not real will not make them go away.  David was a man who passionately pursued intimacy with God (Acts 13:22).  God loved David immensely, and God blessed David tremendously with undeserved favor (or grace – see 2 Sam. 7:18).  However, God’s love for David, and his grace toward David, did not shield David from experiencing some of the good, the bad and the ugly side of life; as taking a walk through Davids personal history will demonstrate.

God anointed David to be Israel’s next king, which prompted Saul to try to kill him.  When Saul laid a trap to catch David in his home and kill him, he escaped and fled to Ramah seeking the protection of Samuel the prophet (1 Samuel 19:11-17).  When Saul pursued David to Ramah, David ran to his friend Johnathan, Saul’s son, and asked him “What have I done? What is my iniquity, and what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life (2 Samuel 20:1)

Neither Samuel nor Johnathan could protect David from Saul (Saul even tried to kill his son Johnathan for helping him), therefore he fled again to the village of Nob where the priest who dwelt there helped David by giving him food and the weapons that David had taken from the giant Goliath.  When Saul found out that the priest of Nob helped David, he ordered their death; 85 men were killed along with their wives and their children (2 Samuel 22:18-19).

Samuel, Johnathan, nor the priest of Nob were able to shield David from Saul’s wrath, so he left Nob and fled to Achish where he sought the protection of the Philistines (talk about being humbled and humiliated).  What David found in Achish was not protection but fear.  In Achish, David experienced what is proverbially called, “jumping from the skillet into the fire” (see 2 Samuel 21).  To get out of Achish, David pretends to be crazy, and then flees to the cave of Adullan, where “everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.”  Remember: David was anointed by God to be the next king.  What a kingdom (a cave), and what subjects (the dregs of life)!

Did David “claim” all of the pain, suffering, and tragedy that followed him?  Absolutely not.  What we learn from reading the testimony of this man of God is that suffering, persecution, tribulation, distress, and pain more often than not come upon us at no fault of our own; these things are products of sin, and characteristics of a fallen world.

God has promised to someday give us “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”.  He may fulfill this promise today, or He may chose to fulfill it a million days from today.  However, until this day comes God has promised to never leave nor forsake His children.  And until that day comes, God will use life’s painful situations to teach us aspects of His amazing, sustaining grace, and His deep, deep love that can only be learned as we walk with Him “Through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23)

Finding himself held up in the cave of Adullam was probably one of the lowest points of David’s life. Nevertheless, in the cave, in the midst of tremendous pain and suffering, God took David’s relationship with Himself to a deeper level, and the Holy Spirit used David to pen one of the Bible’s great Psalms:

Psalm 57:1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.
2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me.
3 He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.
4 My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.
6 They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah
7 ¶ My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.
8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn.
9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations.
10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.

Life can be very hard.  The pain and suffering of life are real forces that each of us will have to face from time to time.  And although our faith in God will not give us carte blanche to escape life challenges, it does give us a “living hope”. Therefore, as Robert Ketchem once said, “God is too kind to do me wrong, and too wise to make a mistake.”  Furthermore, our faith assures us that in the light of eternity, all things will work together for our good, for we reckon that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

{Dedicated to the life of Mia and the memory Steve G.  Steve passed into eternity yesterday from the consequences of serving his country during the Gulf War.  Mia is Steve’s precious wife.  Steve was a beloved brother in Christ, a mentor, and a faithful Christian friend.  Sister Mia is one of the most devoted Christian women that I have ever met.  Mia, we love you in the Lord, and we are praying for you and your family.  May your life continue to be a reflection of the amazing grace of God, and the deep love of Jesus.  God will comfort you at this time of loss, and He Himself will someday wipe the tears from your eyes}

 

A New Reality is Coming ….. hopefully very soon.

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I remember years ago listening to the Temptations sing, Ball of Confusion. If the world was a ball of confusion in 1971, just think of what it is today.  Look at the headlines below:

  • UK HIGH DRAMA!
    Global Crisis of Elites…
    Europe Gripped By Secession Panic…
    Eight separatist movements that could be next…
    British Pound at 2 Year High; Currency Traders Bet ‘No’…
    Murdoch: ‘Anti-establishment Groundswell’…
    Drunken Anger On Streets…
    BBC 5 LIVE… SKY NEWS LIVE…
    TURNOUT NEARS 90% IN SOME LOCATIONS; HIGHEST LEVELS SINCE WW2…
    AWAITING RESULTS…
  • MYSTERY VIRUS COAST TO COAST…Cases confirmed in CA…Hospital tells children to stay away…

    SIERRA LEONE TO SHUT DOWN FOR 3 DAYS TO SLOW EBOLA OUTBREAK…6 million people confined to homes while volunteers hand out soap…

    UN: Ebola threatens global peace, security…Eight dead in attack on virus education team in Guinea…

  • WASH POST LEAD THURSDAY: Disagreements how to fight ISIS mount between Obama and military leaders…

    Congress votes to arm Syrian ‘rebels’…FLASHBACK: Syrian rebels pledge loyalty to al-Qaeda…

In the new heaven and earth, won’t it be great to cuddle up with a lion. Wow! Can’t wait! “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

Isaiah 11:6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.

Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the LORD.

Glory in this: God’s grace

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Jeremiah 9:23 ¶ Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;  24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

For many years I have lived with the conviction that if I think that I have found a hidden truth in the Bible that no one before me could see or figure out, or if I think I have gained a new insight or revelation from God about a particular Bible truth that has been lost for ages, or if I think that I possess a deeper understanding of the gospel than all of the other saints who have walked the faith road before me,  then it is more than likely (99.999% sure) that my newly discovered truth, revelation, or understanding of the Bible is heresy.  For this reason I like reading the words of the saints of old; Godly men that God has wonderfully used in the past to feed and shepherd his people.  I truly believe that better minds than mine have been at this thing for a long time, and if I humble myself, and suppress the inward inclination within me to think more of myself than I ought, then I can learn many things from the elders of the church that will help me navigate my own spiritual journey.  With this said, I love Martin Luther’s words below concerning the wonderfully humbling grace of Jesus.  Luther said:

God wants to regard and does regard us as completely righteous and holy, for the sake of Christ our mediator.  Although sin in the flesh is still not completely gone or dead, God will still not count it or consider it.

….. Therefore we cannot boast about the great merit of our works, where they are viewed without grace and mercy.  Rather, as it is written, “Let the one who boast, boast in the Lord.”  If one has a gracious God, then everything is good.  Furthermore, we say also that if good works do not follow, then the faith (the faith we say we have in Christ) is false and not true.”  (Martin Luther, The Schmalkald Articles – translated by Wm. R. Russell)