Friday, April 29, 2011

Spiritually Exercise

Gracious Father, I thank you this morning God for life.  I thank you Father to allow me to wake up with my organs functioning and my bones intact.  I thank you for not allowing any of my senses to fail Father.  The little things that so much people take for granted, Father I thank you for it.  I pray Father that you will be a blessing to the readers of your word as you are to me.  I pray that they are in peace and are excited for what you are doing in our lives.  I pray a blessing on all that they do, and for their coming and going.  I pray an anointing on them that will be seen by many and attract them to you.  Father I just pray that you have your way in our lives.  I pray Father that you continue to cover us with your mercy and grace, and I pray that all sins performed are forgiven.  This I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Toward the end of last year I stood in front of my bathroom mirror as I got out of the tub and began to stare at the image reflecting back.  I was looking at my body and reminiscing on how great my body looked when I was competing in Martial Arts.  I remember how good I looked in clothes and I made it a mission to get it right.  I made a New Year’s resolution to get my body back in shape.  The funny thing is, I did not wait until the beginning of the year to begin.  There were many times I gave New Year’s resolutions and June will come and still have not committed.  The key word is committed.  Many people see their bodies and know they are out of shape, and say to themselves “I will start a new diet, or I will begin to exercise.”  Majority of them will not hold to their word, and some may even begin, but give up shortly after.  If you would ask them what happened, they have an answer.  Tell me if any of these sound familiar:
·        I am really busy and have not time
·        This week was difficult, but next week is the week
·        This diet is nasty, I need real food
·        The exercise thing is too hard for me
·        It is boring exercising by myself
·        I am not that bad
·        I am too old
I personally used 3 of them as an excuse.  The real reason is what I said before.  Lack of commitment.  I had no true discipline in place to hold me accountable to what I knew I needed to do.  Many Christians fall into the same scenario when it comes to spiritual exercise.   Because they are slothful in building healthy habits to keep their bodies in shape they are also slothful when it comes to studying the word of God.  A lack of true commitment and discipline keeps them spiritually weak and out of shape.   Just as healthy living and proper food intake is essential for the physical body to remain healthy and in good shape, so it is with spiritual food.  Those who neglect to study what “thus saith the Lord” and learn how to pray, become spiritual weak.  Amen!
My son and I are black belts and sometime we would play fight.  One day my son put me in a position and the only reason why I was able to get out, was because of my size.  His arms were not long enough to maintain the lock.  If he was a bit older, and if the scenario was real, I would have lost consciousness.  When I looked back, I asked myself, how was he able to even get me in that position so easily?  The answer, I was out of shape.  My son has friends who study Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and other friends who box, so he is constantly building on his craft.  Because I was out of shape, and have not been practicing, he was a force to contend with.  Now what about that person who is spiritually lazy?  The bible says “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1Pe 5:8)  Have any of you watch National Geographic or the Nature Channel?  Have any of you seen when a lion has its eye on its prey how it behaves?  That lion will not stop until he catches it, or if it gets tired.  The devil is not limited to breathing, so he can come and come and come after us.  To the one who is not spiritually in shape, how soon will they fall into temptation?  I can name two close people right now who this has happened to, and they are still in their mess.
The bible says “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” (1Tim 4:8)  Think about that for a second.  We understand that exercise help give us more energy and it increases our productivity. It obviously helps with weight issues and guards us from all types of diseases.  In essence, exercise helps our overall health and well being.  Now, if physical exercise, which profits so little, as according to the word of God, yet produces all of these benefits, how much more important is spiritual exercise? Amen!  We need to exercise spiritually not only to lose the weight of sin but to also put sinful habits and behaviors into subjection.  Most people and I pray that I am wrong, only turn to God and His Word when trials and tribulations of life are beating them down.  When one is exercising in the word, they go to God for everything.  When things are great, they go to God, when things are mediocre, they go to God, and when things are bad, they go to God, but they go in faith knowing it is only for a season.  That is someone who is spiritually fit.
Family it is necessary that we study God’s word daily.  We ought to discipline ourselves to meditate on it as often as possible.  Do not let Facebook, Twitter, My Space, TV, Radio, or anything take so much of your time to where the left over goes to God.   Once you commit and develop daily spiritual habits, your spiritual muscle will grow and grow to where you will be in tip top shape to combat the enemy, not if, but when he comes.  Amen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Heart Condition

Father God, I come once more before your throne of grace, expressing my gratitude towards the love you continue to shower me with.  Father, I thank you.  I thank you for allowing your children to come as we are and not who we pretend to be.  I thank you for your grace and mercy.  I thank you this morning for allowing me to see one more day, a day that is not promised to no one, yet you saw it not robbery to grant it to me. Lord I just thank you.  I pray a blessing right now on the hearer and doers of your word.  I pray that you bless the reader of this message.  I pray that your Holy Spirit set the atmosphere for them to receive your word.  I pray that you cast down all imaginations that would cause us to be distracted. It is that still, small voice that we need to hear. Help us to focus upon you, and you alone, to hear your voice within.  There are so many other voices demanding our attention, and work contrary to you.  I pray that your voice speak to us and through us.   I pray Father, that in our weakness, you will be our strength.  In a time of depression, you will be our joy. We just pray that you just be the divine covering where all of these things can take place.  And Father, we pray that you forgive us of our sins committed, whether by thought, speech or deed.  We give you all honor and glory, and we pray this in Jesus’ name,  Amen.

I was speaking with one of my brothers in Christ the other day.  He is white but has a black heart.  LOL!  I say this because he could go into any community that is predominantly black and he would fit right in.  I pray that none of you are feeling uncomfortable but there is a point that I will make.  Our unique life histories and personalities can influence how we view certain topics when it pertains to our society.  My brother who I was referring to is able to understand why I have so much compassion on the black community, because he grew up in one.  Just as how it is difficult for a born millionaire to fathom what a poor person’s life can be, it is vice versa with the poor man on a millionaire’s life.  Anyway, we are both ministers of the Gospel and enjoy witnessing, and we talked about how it would be if we had our own individual churches.  He shared his vision, and I shared mine.  I shared how I would love to have a well diverse church, but it mostly likely will be a predominantly black church.  We started to speak on the conditions in some of the black community and he hit the root right on the head.  He spoke regarding the conditions of their heart.
I am not blind and do not run from the truth, and the truth is many black communities are not in the conditions they are in because of lack of opportunity, although it can appear to be that way, nor is it because of an unseen political direction purposely keeping them as low class citizens.  It is years and years of hate and turmoil that families allowed to sit on their hearts and it has spread from generation to generation until it has become the norm.  My previous church did not welcome my family and me until almost a year.  One can easily say, I should have left, but it was sort of unreal to me.  I could not believe that such hatred can exist in a community, much less the church, yet it did.  People act as though they did not want us to sit where we normally did, our greetings of good mornings or God bless you’s were not returned.  This was their behavior rooted into their psyche, and in some families going back 100 years (as long the local church been opened).  Why was this so?  Why are many black communities the exact same way?  Their heart!  I grew up in the projects, and I either heard someone say it or it was said to me, that all races hate us, especially the white race.  Then you watch movies like Roots, Rosewood, etc and the anger builds.  So I was very angry.  I had a lot of hate.  I felt like I was born into a world that did not want me.  It did not help the situation either to see white women holding their purses when I passed, or the Korean man following me everywhere I go in the mini market.  Oh I had a malicious heart.  I hated everybody, including my own people.  If no one else respect them why should I.  It was by the grace of God when I made it out of the projects and seen an life outside the projects is when I realized it was all bull.
So is my message about the plights of blacks?  No.  My message is about the condition of the world and I used blacks in our nation as an example.  In order to receive the peace that everyone is crying for, something has to change.  It is the heart of the people.  The bible says “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”  (Matt 15:19)  So all those who are wondering why the world is in the condition it is, or why black males make up the majority of the population in prisons, or how a serial killer is birthed, or the malicious and wicked atrocities committed in the middle east and other third world countries, there is your answer.  Man’s heart is dark.  Don’t blame God.  Until we as a people, especially those who call themselves Christians, take the time to pray for guidance and seek to change the heart of someone, one person at a time, evil will continue to plague the heart of people.  Hate, fear, and all of the negative emotions do last for a long time, but love lasts forever (1 Cor 13:4-8).  My desire is to see that all people know who God is, but primarily in my opinion, in this nation, the directive and the urgency must begin with the black race.  My race.  Love must be bestowed.  Am I wrong for saying this?  No more wrong than when Jesus said “That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Lu 24:47)  I of course do not claim to be Jesus, but he indicated an urgency to begin there, as I am indicating an urgency to begin with the black race. Amen!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cliche #5: It's God's Plan

Heavenly Father, I thank you Father, for allowing me to see another day.  I thank you Father, for your divine protection while I slumbered.  I thank you Father for your mercy and grace bestowed upon me.  And Father, I thank you for your Son Jesus.  I pray this morning a blessing on all of your children who loves you.  I pray a blessing on the reader and doer of your word.   I pray a blessing Father, for all who continue to read the messages that you inspire me to post.  I pray Father, that I can continue to be a blessing as you give me power to do so.  I pray that the anointing continues to flow Father, and that you miraculously resolve whatever problems your readers are facing.  I pray that your Holy Spirit rain down wherever they are, and that they are able to feel your presence.  I pray Father that we do not waiver in our faith, and that you continue to build us up.  Lord we give you the honor and praise, and we pray also Father for any trespasses committed.  This we pray in Jesus name, Amen.

Today’s message will conclude the series on clichés that Christians use.  Many of you know that I am enrolled in seminary, and I must say that I am thankful for taking that step to engage in spiritual higher learning.  The more I learn, the more I realized how far away I was from biblical truths.  I have engaged in many debates and conversations that were just not biblical.  To look back at it now, I feel ashamed, but at the same time glad that I am in a better position spiritually. However, there are many people I know, who are also Christians who are just as lost as I knew I was, and their incorrect use of these clichés proves it.  I remember going with a few men of God to comfort someone in their last stages of cancer.  I was young in the faith at that time, so I did not offer much but an amen every now and then, and a nod here and there to suggest I was in agreement with whatever was said at the time.  After we got together and prayed, and left the residence, and on our way back to recover our individual vehicles, some of the men began to converse.  The elder of the bunch, meaning spiritually older, began to say how what was happening to that person was part of God’s plan.  As I look back at that now, I say rubbish!!!!!!!!
It was never in God’s plan for Adam and Eve to sin, but they did sin.  It was never in God’s plan for Cain to slew Abel, but he did.  It was never in God’s plan for his children to be in one place, but they remained and tried to build a tower to reach the heavens.  If anyone was to say that it was in God’s plan, they speak heresy, for God is not partially good, but 100% good.  To suggest that God used sin as part of His plan is to say God needed the devil.  Those who have the story of Job inching at their tongue, please reconsider.  The truth is no one knows the mind of God.  The bible says “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”  (1Co 2:9-11)  When I said that no one knows the mind of God was not me guessing, but what’s recorded in His word.  The cancer that was on that man could have been attributed to that man’s actions.  God wants us all to live a healthy and full life, but the choice we make causes us to experience contrary to what God in His word says He wants for us. Amen!
My Christian brothers and sisters have not intentionally done so, but may have did harm to plenty in a form of comfort.  Someone lost a family member, it was God’s plan.  Someone is lying sick in the hospital, it is God’s plan.  Every hurtful event that people go through, there is someone either saying it or is ready to say, it is God’s plan.  And I will say rubbish!  It is their attempt to say God is in control and therefore they have to accept it.  There are many who do not want to hear that all that they are going through, the family member they lost or how chaotic and out of control their life is, are all part of God’s plan.  Those of you who have James 1:2-3 itching at their tongue, please reconsider.  God does not desire for anyone to go through pain, because for some hope will be lost.  The bible says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11)  This is not me guessing, but what’s recorded in His word.  Amen!
All Christian clichés may have been spoken with good intentions, however words have power and the speaker must consider his/her audience before sharing anything pertaining to God.  The word alone is inerrant, but it can be seen as errant when the delivery is made.  I encourage all who have read the series to avoid these clichés if possible.  We want to attract people not repel them.  Amen?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cliché #4: Led By The Spirit

Most heavenly and gracious Father, I come before your throne of grace the only way I know how Lord, with head bowed and heart humbled to say thank you.   Lord, I thank you for allowing me to see another day.   I thank you for health and strength, Father.  I not only thank you for physical strength, I ask that you strengthen me in my spiritual walk as well.  Father, all that I pray for myself, I also pray for your children who love you. I pray this for the reader and doer of your word.  I pray this for the ones who will read this message.   Father I ask that you decrease us Lord and increase the Holy Spirit in us so we may hear what you have for us.  Keep us oh God that we not stray from your word God.  I pray now Father, that if we have committed any deed that was not pleasing in thy sight, that you forgive us for it.  We love and adore you, and need you to guide us always.  We need you Lord.  Father we can’t do nothing without your help Father, for you are able!  We give you all honor, glory, and praise.  We lift you up this and every morning.  We pray that your will be done.  I pray this in your Son Jesus name,  Amen.

Every person who is affiliated with the church or the Christian faith,has either said this before, or has heard someone say it to them.  If there is one cliché that have been used so much to the point it takes away from the deeper meaning, in my opinion it would be this one.   When someone says they are led by the spirit, they are saying that their actions or behaviors are attributed to a directive they feel came from God.  For example, at my previous church we had a Men’s Day program.  It was a program that the men of the church put together that was spiritual in nature.  It was sort of a tradition, and it took place every year.  One year, I was asked to put something together as a mini sermon to honor President Obama as being the first black president.  It was not so much in the political part of it, but to share that the color of a person’s skin can no longer be used as an excuse for not succeeding.  I titled it “Yes We Can,” and it was in a form of a poem.  It was very direct, and it spoke directly to the excuses that many use.  In the end, the applause and the pats on the back expressed the hearts of the men that were present.  When the service was over, again many came to have a word, but I remember one person in particular.  He said his name was Bishop…………………………………xxxxxx.  I already lost interest, since he had at least 6-7 names in his title when he introduced himself to me.  He congratulated me on my poem and told me where his church is located.  He mentioned how it would be a blessing to have men like me in his church.  Ready for this?  He said he was led by the spirit to tell me that I have a preacher’s spirit.
So, he was led by the spirit huh?  He was led by the spirit to subtly recruit me to his church.  He was led by the spirit to tell me that I have a preacher’s spirit.  Now the bonus question is this…….what would he have said to me, if I was not on program?  The answer is nothing.  His emotions compiled with his pride to have a church with talented individuals, so he can get the glory, is what led him.  And it is these types of emotions that if not clearly considered, are why so many people say that they are led by the spirit.  The bible says “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”  (Rom 8:14)  Amen!  In a commentary regarding this verse, Adam Clarke said this:
“No man who has not Divine assistance can either find the way to heaven, or walk in it when found.  As Christ, by his sacrificial offering, has opened the kingdom of God to all believers; and, as a mediator, transacts the concerns of their kingdom before the throne; so the Spirit of God is the great agent here below, to enlighten, quicken, strengthen, and guide the true disciples of Christ; and all that are born of this Spirit are led and guided by it; and none can pretend to be the children of God who are not thus guided.”
Amen!  This is a true statement.  There are people who are genuinely led by the spirit.  Not by what they feel are good intentions, not to achieve a specific outcome, but are compelled to move in one direction or the other without knowing why and are uncertain of the outcome.  So when you have people who use this verse as an answer to their behavior, especially when it is man led, it takes away from the real intent, which is to fight flesh. 
A sister in Christ once said to me that she wants a BMW.  I asked her what is wrong with her current car.  She said she has just finished paying for it, and she now wants a new one.  I asked her why she would add another 5-6 years of car payments.  She dismissed it.  She said she has faith so she does not worry about money issues.  Later on that month, she said how God has given her favor and she was able to buy the BMW.  She went to many dealers but did not get anywhere with them, but she said she was led by the spirit to go to one dealer and everything went smooth.  Now I really believe God was working.  Every dealer she went to that she did not get anywhere with, was God trying to save her from a future financial ruin.  However she persisted until she got the answer that “she” wanted to hear.  There were other things that left her lips that caused me to take a break from her, but that is an example of a false guidance.  Whenever people feel they are led by the spirit, or they have already executed what they felt was directed by the spirit, they should ask some key questions. 
1.      Does it line up with the Word?
2.    Does it free you of any form of bondage?
3.    Would others benefit from it?
4.    Have you prayed about it before?
5.     Can you know for sure that it was God and God alone that led you?
6.    Will God get the glory?
I am pretty sure there are more questions that can be added, but I believe these can be seen as the foundation.
Man’s theology and reasoning is not necessarily correct, but God’s word is without error.  His word can only be understood by revelation, and revelation is given by the Spirit of God. God does reveal in His own way, however we only know in part.  If we think we know anything, we do not know it as we ought to. We are instructed, by God, to keep seeking Him.  The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. The truth sets us free. Lies on the other hand will bind us. So if it is of God, then yes would be the answer to the questions above.  Amen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cliché #3 Holier Than Thou

Oh Heavenly and Gracious Father, I come to you today Lord with thanksgiving.   I thank you Lord for being so good to me.  Father even when I don’t deserve it Lord, you still love me just the same.  You forgive, provide and bless.  Father, I can't thank you enough for all that you do for me and for your children.  I pray Father that we continue to do things pleasing in thy sight and that we have an opportunity to be a blessing to others, Lord.   Even if it’s just an ear to listen Lord, or words to speak life to them Lord, or to help in any way, or just by acknowledging them and being that person for them to lean on Lord, I pray that you use us Lord.  Use us to do your will Lord. Use us to reach the lost, the broken hearted, the blind.  So many people are walking as though they are alive, but they are dead, Father, and I pray that you instill in us the gift to reach them without any hindrances or reserve.  I just pray oh God, that we are walking according to your doctrine and never err away from the truth.  And Father, I pray that you forgive us of any sins committed.  We give you all the honor and the glory in Jesus name, we pray, Amen.

When I first tried Facebook, I was attracted to it from start.  I was able to get connected with childhood friends and old school buddies.  Some of the ones that I added, I had to remove.  You all know why, because I am pretty sure you did the same thing.  One guy who I knew as far back as 3rd grade, I had on for a while, but eventually had to remove.  Those who are familiar with Facebook know that when a friend post something, if they enable the feature, we are able to see their posts.  The guy who I was referring to would post poems spiritual in nature.  They would be about 4-5 lines long.  They were really good poems and they were original.  It was evident that it touched many people, because each day he would post one, and you would have at least 10 or more comments.  He did this daily for about 2 weeks and then throughout the day he would post other things.  It was more like an announcement.  He would post a flyer, with his picture and some others on it promoting parties that will take place that weekend.  I am not sure what affiliations he had, but they were groups of them on the flyer, with a picture of a dj behind turntables, some women in bikinis, some dude holding a champagne bottle with a lit cigar in his hand.  The post he would add would be like “Come out this weekend and support your boy!!!  Free drinks for the first 100 ladies.  Come by yourself, but go home with somebody”!!!  One day, I caught myself in deep thought.  I am looking at one flyer, and then I am scrolling up to read his poem that he posted for the day, and I see myself going back and forth as though the image may miraculously disappear.
Some time that week, I seen that he was online and I decided to have a chat with him.  I first told him how I enjoyed his poems, and how I could tell it was based off of experiences.  He began to lace the conversations with how good God was to him, and began to add some more of the overly used spiritual phrases like “when the praises go up, the blessings come down”, “God may not come when you want Him to, but when He comes he is right on time”, and others that I can’t recall but remember saying “oh boy here we go”.  He is typing away and I am saying to myself, “a lot of what he is saying is just ramblings and misplaced phrases.”  So I interjected and asked him about the parties.  This was my way to see if he realized the contradiction in his posts throughout the day.  This misplaced individual then began to tell me how many girls be coming out and how the last one was a blast, and he would add profane word to express how good it was, then had the audacity to invite me.  I looked at the invite, and paused for a bit.  I was thinking if he was in front of me and he asked that question how I would have reacted.  So I told him thanks for the invite, but I am no longer a person who parties.  He started to come at me with how I am a hypocrite and I need to practice what I preach.  I thought to myself, “who this guy is talking to.”  He lives in NYC, I am in Orlando.  I have not seen him in at least 10-15 years.  In essence he does not know me.  So all what he was talking did not make sense.  I told him in one instance you post spiritual things, and say how good God is, then in another instance you are promoting sin.  That is when that famous saying came out.  “Why are you hating on me with your holier than thou mentality, as though you are perfect.  Only God can judge me (another one).”  I told him that he will have to reconcile that with his conscience.  I closed the chat, and immediately removed him from my friend’s list. 
The bible states “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (Jn 1:5)  Although the word “comprehend” is used, which simply means understand, it is not the intent of the verse.   When Jesus came to teach salvation, it intruded on the many wicked ways of man.  Things that they enjoyed was contrary to God and they did not want to give them up.  The light, which is the truth that Jesus brought was not received but rejected, hence the darkness.  My old class buddy acknowledges the light, but refuses to adhere to what it would mean in his life.  All I did was remind him of it, and he addressed me as though I was a Pharisee.  The truth is he who would rather live a life of sin than live up to God’s Holy standard.  This was his way of attempting to persecute and shame me for really loving Christ, His teachings and showing it.  If this has ever been said to you and you know that your heart is sincere, stand firm on your faith.  Too many people have made attempts to rewrite the Gospel, where they can live a willful sinful life and at the same time say that they are a Christian.  This is hypocrisy at its best.  The truth is you are “holier than thou” because holy means to set apart, where you have chosen to set yourself apart from sinful pleasures of the world, where they chose to integrate with it.  Stand your ground and keep the faith.  Amen!