Saturday, December 11, 2010

Getting in God's grill

“Here I am, I am calling from a dark place, Hear the cry of my heart”.. – Michelle Lang (used without permission she can sue me later… The complete song can be found on MLSW newest release “Obnoxious” it can be found on CD, it makes a great stocking stuffer. You should go there and buy one, after you read this latest communiqué)

Its funny how one can talk a good game and the enemy shows up to see if you are really serious about what you said, or God tells you something and you have the promise, you hold it in your hands and you have the key, but you have to hold on to that promise. The past two weeks for this lil brotha here in the frigid Midwest have been rough. My wife Nicole had to step her game up, and she did, (one of the reasons every day I am amazed that out of all the brothas she could have chosen she picked me, I tell ya I do not come close to deserving the jewel that I have. ). As many of our friends know Nicole and I have been trying to have a baby. Last year about this same time she had surgery to remove fibroids so that getting pregnant would be possible. This year we went to a doctor in Indiana, felt really good about the outcome, we felt we finally had a plan. Two weeks ago we were told that both her fallopian tubes are blocked, and that the only chance of us getting pregnant is IVF.
Flash back with me to almost three years ago, my life was an unequivocal mess. I had just lost four people in my family including the man who taught me how to read, my dad, the woman who taught me refinement and proper diction, my aunt, the man who encouraged me to be a good soldier if that is what I wanted, my uncle, and the woman who made me laugh at everything including myself, my cousin. All this happened while I was in Seattle. I had just moved back to Chicago to be with my mother, she was dying, and I was here to be with her in her final days. While I was here, Nicole was still in Milton a small town we lived in just outside Tacoma, which is about 40 miles south of Seattle. We attended New Heart church in Federal Way. She received a word saying that she was going to have children (multiple) that she would be calling the church to let them know that she was pregnant. Now keep in mind the pastor when he gave this word knew that I was gone, and that Nicole was soon to follow. He prayed for me before I left because of what I was going to encounter once I arrived back here in Chicago. She got this word and called me excited because with all the stuff happening around me, it was something that I needed to hear. We had been promised children.
Ok come forward with me. It’s hard to hold on to a word given when all around you, you hear things to the contrary. I told you in my first blog post that this little one was going to be honest and transparent. I am not going to lie and tell you that in the past few weeks I have not questioned God, not been angry with Him, not gotten up in His grill and asked Him why? Now before you ask, yes one can get up in God’s grill and ask Him why, (Is 45:11) Keep in mind doing so is from the perspective of one who has influence, not one with power. We partner with God in bringing His Kingdom to fruition in this world, as a result of that it is practical and imperative that this relationship we have with God affords us some ability to go to God and ask why. It is extreme theologically wrongheaded religion that states that there are some things that we will only understand in the great by and by. Sorry that makes absolutely no sense. That premise has no basis in scripture whatsoever. When you are there, what does it matter, why would I be concerned with anything that I had to endure on this side. I love my father, he has been gone now for almost four years, but I love him still. I know that he though he is with Jesus, right now, LJ Anthony loves me still. It is that one fact that keeps me from not losing it. It is the fact of knowing that Solomon wrote in the Song of Solomon that “Love is stronger than death” (SOS 8:6). Having said that, I seriously doubt that he is asking God, “yanno God that son you gave me, you know that youngest boy of mine, why did he do this, or that or the other”? My dad could care less, all he knows and cares about is that he loves him some Johnny. Getting back to my original point I believe that Isaiah tells us three things in that chapter, 1. There is no other god that we can go to, asking to know the future. 2. He is God alone and beside Him no one else like Him exists. 3. In partnership with him we can influence through prayer how things work in this world.
Truth of it is this, God also tells us to remind Him of the things that He has said about us (is 43:26)….Fact is though that the promise was not made to me, it was made to Nicole. My job is to stand with her, I can support her, and encourage her to do things that walk in line with the word as given. That includes encouraging her to eat right, and do what I can to keep her focused on the promise made, agreeing with her that the promise is going to come to pass, and doing what I can from a human standpoint to make sure that it happens. All I can do is pray with her, move forward and do what we have been doing, preparing for the arrival of this very special child because it is so evident that the enemy does not want him or her here…..

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Is He really now?


I read this statement, and at first I wanted to respond to this nonsense, then I thought about it again and decided not to. Not because it is not easy to refute it, because lets face it, this kind of statement makes God seem spiteful, and a little psychotic, while it does have some basis in fact this is an example of a religious statement made to appear deep while at the same time to someone who actually knows the person of whom this statement is ascribed to knows the person well enough to know two things.
1. If this really was something from the Lord, there would be specifics, note there are none here
2. The statement goes against the character of God that we see portrayed in the New Testement.
I get disturbed when I hear or see statements like this, they tend to make me itch, I almost break out in hives because usually the person making the statement does so with a mind and heart towards gaining control. I have been in my journey a victim of spiritual abuse, and it is not a pretty thing. Anytime a person in leadership attempts to gain control of a person using fear or a threat of displeasing God for your actions that has neither biblical precedent or basis in sound doctrine or theological discourse a red flag should go up.
We all have choices in this life, God has given us that freedom. He wants our love and our praise, but He wants these things given willingly, not out of fear or obligation. I find it sad when men feel that they have to use fear to gain control of others especially when they are vulnerable and especially when they already have a heart to want to please God. It saddens me on one hand to know that there are genuine people out here that want to be pleasing to the Lord, and it enrages me to know that there are men who would take advantage of these people. I wonder what will it take for us to grow up and realize that we have one job and one job only, that is to love, nothing more, nothing less.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dead children, and the church did not say a mumbling word?

Tony Campolo said it best "I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night."
While these words are harsh, and while they are as a sledgehammer to a brick wall I would like to take it further, over the course of the last two weeks more than ten teenagers (kids, babies really) took their own lives and the church as usual is silent. Scary thing silence it can signal ones complicity in an act, heinous or otherwise. It can speak to duplicity, silence is one of the tools in our arsenal that really should not be looked to. Its usage lends courage to cowards and abusers who would take advantage of the people of God. Saying nothing about the deaths of these children should bring about conviction and repentance to a church that too long has allowed itself to be prostituted. We say we speak and stand for Christ. Would He be silent about this issue? Are we so tragically blind to the way that God sees those kids, and others like them that we will continue to stand idly by and say and do nothing, well I cannot say we have done nothing. Fox news claims that they speak for “christians” in this country as does the republican party. Here is what one of them said recently that the teens committing suicide were “grossly overreacting”. Be that as it may, why is it that no one, not Creflo, not, Thomas Dexter, not even Eddie, or any other stalwart leaders in the black church have offered anything of note to try and stem the tide of this latest incursion of the enemy to our nation? What is even more indicative of the cowardice in the pulpit, Ken Hagin, Rod Parsley, and not even Joel Osteen have said anything. Silence on issues such as these, really do lend themselves to acceptance of the hopelessness that these kids apparently face daily. When Martin King Jr. was jailed in Birmingham, he could have listened to his peers in the ministry and said and done nothing in light of their discouragement of his actions. Instead he spoke truth to power and penned the “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” In it he makes the following statement “I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes”. Once again we have an multiple issues that have been dropped on our doorsteps, teen suicide, homosexuality, and bullying. We appear to not want to deal with the deaths of these kids, nor do we want to contend with the fact that there are real disparities between how gays are treated and how those of us who are raging heterosexuals are dealt with in society.
If Christ died for us all, then for the church that should be enough to advocate, and yes agitate for them. I am not saying I agree with same sex marriage, but look at the underlaying reasons for the push. For many its access to many of the things that hetero couples take for granted. I leave that for you to explore. I do not agree with same sex marriage, but I understand why it is desired. We have lost ten children to the lie that suicide is the way out. Isn’t it time we spoke up, even when our so called leaders will not. Is it not enough that these children lost their lives due to the way society has looked at them, and says that it does it in the name of the Lord? Isn’t it time that the church, the real church stood up, and took its role back? I close by paraphrasing Dr. Campolo, I hope that those of you who read this prove me wrong…..
In the past month ten children committed suicide because they were bullied for being gay. Most of you who read this may or may not care all that much. I dare you if you are reading this, to prove me wrong…

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The money or the people, just how desparate are we?

Is it the money or the people? Simple question but deep at the same time, it is a question at the heart of every pastor and in the mind of every person in the pews. I sat in church this afternoon, and watched an announcement about a women’s conference, (No, I am not against women’s conferences, nor am I against women serving in leadership positions. I know the difference between eternal truths and cultural standards, shame; many who have been through theological training apparently have allowed prejudice and foolishness to cloud their judgment about such things, but I digress)…
The conference was not what caught my attention it was the fact that this conference while it is free, apparently to enjoy a meal at the conference is not… If you wish to eat at this conference it will cost you 35 dollars to enjoy a breakfast and a lunch. That is exactly 17.50 per meal. Now some would say that it is a reasonable cost and that those who want to attend and eat should have no problem paying the cost to do so. All things being equal I would agree with such sentiment however in 2010, all things are not equal… We live in a time of high unemployment, and people not having enough money it seems to pay their mortgages, people are losing their homes, and in some cases having to have to choose between eating and keeping a roof over their heads, in some cases the choice is much starker than that, choosing to eat, or getting medications to prolong their lives or to improve their quality of life. Here is my question, if we claim that we have this great treasure locked up in earthen vessels, why is it that we seem to have a bad habit of making people that we claim to help suffer in the name of the Lord, and yet be okay with it? Why is it that we place choices on the people of God that common sense would dictate that we dare not? I can tell you this, there will be people at this conference that will pay the money to eat and wind up 35 dollars short paying a bill. People are hungry, and yes people are desperate, and when we do things like this, we take advantage of their desperation. I wonder what it will take for us to not do that?

Eddie Long and the Black Church

I was sitting here at work and just read how Bishop Long now has five lawsuits to deal with questioning his sexuality, and whether or not he used his authoritative position to coerce young men into sex. Here’s the thing from my viewpoint, Eddie having done it or not is not the question, the question is when are we in the black church going to stop treating homosexuality as some special sin that needs to be dealt with harsher than any other sin? The problem as I see it is this, here is a man who has supposedly preached the truth about homosexuality, and now he is being accused of being the very thing he has preached against, is It just me, or does anyone else see the irony in all this. Jesus stated that the same judgment we put out there, will be used against us later on. Are homosexuals really the enemy, or is there something afoot here that demands our attention in ways that we may not be willing to deal with, out of fear?
Did Christ die for them as well? Did He suffer bleed and die for them as well? Is this sin worse than any other? Why do preachers single this one out more so than any other? Why do we feel that of we love them, we condone their behavior? Why do we feel that we cannot show the love of Christ to them, why do we live in fear of them? When will we finally be the church?
I find it shocking, not exemplary or prolific that preachers preach about homosexuality more than they do about any other sin. What should be shocking is that we do not hear as much about adultery, theft, greed, or the church’s dirty little secrets, masturbation, and pornography. We are willing to support a Constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage, but sadly in the church the stats when it comes to the state of marriage are just as bad as those outside the church. We have preachers holding conferences about the state of marriage, and some of them have jump offs.
I think it’s time to stop the hypocrisy, and move towards truth and reason. Yes there are homosexuals in the church, and yes there are some who are outside of the church. How we treat them is a testament of how the gospel has changed our lives. How we advocate on their behalf is a show of how Christ weeps over the souls of men who are disenfranchised by society because they are different. Christ advocated for people who were societal outcasts, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and drunks all flocked to Christ, they were not repelled by him. They were repelled by the religious leaders that Christ often berated due to their lack of vision and insight as to what was more important than just following the law. Why is it that when we do church, people are not attracted to the Christ that we show, but rather repelled by it. Could it be that the thing we portray is not an accurate portrayal? Could it be that our sanctimony is just that, sanctimonious but lacking in any real depth? We are here to serve, not to be served, this world does not have to conform to us, remember the conforming is done by those who actually know Christ. Those who are without need not apply unless they are willing to give their lives over. Preachers and laity alike forget that the epistles were written not for those who do not live their lives for the Lord, but rather for those who have already surrendered and answered the call to the cross. Until we recognize that the church is not the guardian of morality, nor is she to beat people down because they sin. They are sinners, its part of their job description and some are more efficient at it than others. Christ’s example was to love them, His loving them did not condone their activities, nor did it excuse them. His love convicted them not with condemning words but in showing them His love He was able to win them. It’s sad that we have forgotten how powerful a force Love really is…..

Monday, September 13, 2010

Here we are

Good evening, as I write this I am reminded of a song that I used to sing with the choir at NIU.

"Here we are with all our burdens, Here we are with all our cares, Spirit of God, we seek your face, let your spirit fill this place"....

I recount that as I start this blog because I am a 42 year old man, I have had my issues, and still do. I am a man with faults and cares, and yeah i have my own set of insecurities.
But more than that I am reminded by Paul that I am "more than a conqueror" (Rom 8:37).
In light of this I have to speak and post,and blog and create a podcast, prepare, and train.
I was reminded by a friend and someone I both respect and love as a brother that I cannot let my issues prevent me from being who I was born to be. So starting now, I take that first step, join me on this journey, I promise I will not be boring, nor will I be complacent, but I also promise that I will try my best to make you think. Also I firmly hold the belief that everything that we believe in has to be shaken, not shaken and torn down (at least not all of it). I firmly believe that any belief system worth holding onto, should be shaken because after all if it is worth holding on to, it should be worth having shaken...