The Poor You Will Always Have

    Mark 14:7, Matthew 26:11, and John 12:8 are three gospel accounts of Jesus declaring that the disciples would have the poor among them “always”. And normally this verse has always been a highlighter on my thoughts that the poor will be around until Jesus cones back. On occasion it makes me think about the need for missions in the poverty stricken regions of the world. That always seemed like the crux of the verse.
    My analysis is supported by the old testament verse Deuteronomy 15:11. There we see that the Israelite nation is instructed to be “open handed” toward their neighbors.
    But as I was driving down the road this morning I saw a lady with a cardboard sign asking for money. I was conflicted in that moment about stopping and speaking with her or continuing on my way to church. It was in that moment that I remembered that verse and got a completely different perspective on it.
    Jesus spoke to the eternal while in the moment. And it seems to me that there is a more eternal message wrapped in the words he spoke to his disciples. The woman in this story has come to worship Jesus in the best way she can. And Jesus’ shortsighted disciples were just like me in that moment. “This could have been sold and used in an outreach”, I imagine myself saying to Jesus. But Jesus uses this as a teachable moment.
Worship supercedes missions.
What a thought! The idea that Jesus actually prefers that I stop sometimes and make Him my mission. To gaze at Him in all of His splendor and be awed. To minister to His heart and be ministered to.
So now before I jump the gun about getting out and doing outreach I have a reminder to stop and remember why we do what we do in the first place.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Thoughts on The Word

The Shack By Wm. Paul Young (the Missy Project)

     I recently completed ‘The Shack’ by Wm. Paul Young. Yes, I am aware that the book was released in 2008 but I am just getting around to reading it. (Dont Judge Me). This is one of the few fiction works that I have ever read that were able to make me rethink my theology and relationship with God. Not that I am in total agreement with Mr. Young’s ideas in the book, but he presents God the Father in a light that I have never ventured to see Him in. Without giving away the story line I will just say that The central character in the book is an image of the wreck that many of us are. I believe that one of the great attractions of this book is that the readers can put themselves in the place of this character in a number of ways. I recomment that you go out and buy this book as a gift and for yourself.

     There are a few theologically questionable themes, but they are questions well worth asking. the main issue sprouts from the way God is presented to the readers. While maintaining the trinitarian view, God is… well, lets just say God is in rare form. This book hit home for me on several levels, and Grace and Law find their way into the storyline at a critical point. Many questions that stir in the hearts of so many saints are addressed in this book. Questions like, ‘Where do grace and law cross paths?’ and ‘What does God expect of me really? I mean, Im only human.’

     Basically, I thought the book was inspirational, and challenging. I think that those are two things that believers are in dire need of in todays world. So go out and grab The Shack by William Paul Young. Then you can join the Missy Project too!

Leave a comment

Filed under Thoughts on The Word

Jacob-The One Who Wrestled with God

Gen 32:24. There wrestled a man with him [107] Although this vision was particularly useful to Jacob himself, to teach him beforehand that many conflicts awaited him, and that he might certainly conclude that he should be the conqueror in them all; there is yet not the least doubt that the Lord exhibited, in his person, a specimen of the temptations — common to all his people — which await them, and must be constantly submitted to, in this transitory life. Wherefore it is right to keep in view this designs of the vision, which is to represent all the servants of God in this world as wrestlers; because the Lord exercises them with various kinds of conflicts. Moreover, it is not said that Satan, or any mortal man, wrestled with Jacob, but God himself: to teach us that our faith is tried by him; and whenever we are tempted, our business is truly with him, not only because we fight under his auspices, but because he, as an antagonist, descends into the arena to try our strength. This, though at first sight it seems absurd, experience and reason teaches us to be true. For as all prosperity flows from his goodness, so adversity is either the rod with which he corrects our sins, or the test of our faith and patience. And since there is no kind of temptations by which God does not try his faithful people, the similitude is very suitable, which represents him as coming, hand to hand, to combat with them. Therefore, what was once exhibited under a visible form to our father Jacob, is daily fulfilled in the individual members of the Church; namely, that, in their temptations, it is necessary for them to wrestle with God. He is said, indeed, to tempt us in a different manner from Satan; but because he alone is the Author of our crosses and afflictions, and he alone creates light and darkness, (as is declared in Isaiah,) he is said to tempt us when he makes a trial of our faith. But the question now occurs, Who is able to stand against an Antagonist, at whose breath alone all flesh perishes and vanishes away, at whose look the mountains melt, at whose word or beck the whole world is shaken to pieces, and therefore to attempt the least contest with him would be insane temerity? But it is easy to untie the knot. For we do not fight against him, except by his own power, and with his own weapons; for he, having challenged us to this contest, at the same time furnishes us with means of resistance, so that he both fights against us and for us. In short, such is his apportioning of it is conflict, that, while he assails us with one hand, he defends us with the other; yea, inasmuch as he supplies us with more strength to resist than he employs in opposing us, we may truly and properly say, that he fights against us with his left hand, and for us with his right hand. For while he lightly opposes us, he supplies invincible strength whereby we overcome. It is true he remains at perfect unity with himself: but the double method in which he deals with us cannot be otherwise expressed, than that in striking us with a human rod, he does not put forth his full strength in the temptation; but that in granting the victory to our faith, he becomes in us stronger than the power by which he opposes us. And although these forms of expression are harsh, yet their harshness will be easily mitigated in practice. For if temptations are contests, (and we know that they are not accidental, but are divinely appointed for us,) it follows hence, that God acts in the character of an antagonist, and on this the rest depends; namely, that in the temptation itself he appears to be weak against us, that he may conquer in us. Some restrict this to one kind of temptation only, where God openly and avowedly manifests himself as our adversary, as if armed for our destruction. And truly, I confess, that this differs from common conflicts, and requires, beyond all others, a rare, and even heroic strength. Yet I include willingly every kind of conflict in which God exercises the faithful: since in all they have God for an antagonist, although he may not openly proclaim himself hostile unto them. That Moses here calls him a man whom a little after he declares to have been God, is a sufficiently usual form of speech. For since God appeared under the form of a man, the name is thence assumed; just as, because of the visible symbol, the Spirit is called a dove; and, in turn, the name of the Spirit is transferred to the dove. That this disclosure was not sooner made to the holy man, I understand to be for this reason, because God had resolved to call him, as a soldier, robust and skillful in war, to more severe contests. For as raw recruits are spared, and young oxen are not immediately yoked to the plough; so the Lord more gently exercises his own people, until, having gathered strength, they become more inured to toil. Jacob, therefore, having been accustomed to bear sufferings, is now led forth to real war. Perhaps also, the Lord had reference to the conflict which was then approaching. But I think Jacob was admonished, at his very entrance on the promised land, that he was not there to expect a tranquil life for himself. For his return to his own country might seem to be a kind of release; and thus Jacob, like a soldier who had kept his term of service, would have given himself up to repose. Wherefore it was highly necessary for him to be taught what his future conditions should be. We, also, are to learn from him, that we must fight during the whole course of our life; lest any one, promising himself rest, should wilfully deceive himself. And this admonition is very needful for us; for we see how prone we are to sloth. Whence it arises, that we shall not only be thinking of a truce in perpetual war; but also of peace in the heat of the conflict, unless the Lord rouse us.

Leave a comment

Filed under Thoughts on The Word

Coming out of the Darkness

I haven’t posted anything for a while. I have been in the midst of a fight for my life. And now that I am coming out of the darkness of the cloud I have a new lease on life. As I found myself fearing that God may have some impending punishment waiting on me I had a moment alone with our Lord. And I felt the need to grant you all a very intimate look int my life so that you may be blessed.

While sitting in worship this morning, I was touched by what must be reverently described as the presence of God. And in that touch He spoke to me. And the words he said to me moved me to tears as I was overwhelmed with the reality of who He is in my life. As I remember all that He has done for me. He said to me, “Do you think that I have come all this way with you, to leave you now? I am always with you, I will never leave you. Even in the darkest hour I am with you. Don’t fear what you are going through, but trust me.”

So here I am, with a renewed knowledge that He is faithful. Even when I am unfaithful, He remains yet faithful. Yes, sometimes I feel alone, but He is there. Yes, Sometimes I feel like no one understands, but He does. He experienced my pain and more in His time on earth. He is not so far removed from my infirmities that he doesn’t know what I am going through internally.

Rather, He knows full well what it is to be rejected, despised, hated, and cast aside. And He experienced that while giving Himself in love to the world. I have not yet given myself to that level of sacrifice. As a matter of fact, I haven’t even come close.  So here I am again, learning the faithfulness of God. Learning that He is ever present and always helping. He is always teaching and correcting. He is always loving us into His arms and His ways.

I hope that this short read will add something to you, in some way. God Bless you.

1 Comment

Filed under Thoughts on The Word

Lecrae – Church Clothes (Review)

On May 10, 2012 Lecrae, The President of Reach Records and Leader of the 116 Movement,  released his first mixtape. With a title like “Church Clothes” and a prevalent host like the infamous DJ Don Cannon, the anticipation was heavy across the hip-hop world and church world alike.  Questions lingered in the air as to whether Lecrae would be breaking away from his Christian background and embracing the secular world. And debates sprung up across discussion forums in the secular and religious world as to the merit and morals of this release. It was safe to say that Lecrae had stirred the pot with news of the release. Then, the music video for the title track to the mixtape “Church Clothes” was released and the cyclone of controversy gained strength.

Lecrae

This is the cover for the new mixtape from Lecrae, Church Clothes

As I sit listening to the mixtape now, I can confidently say that Lecrae has not disappointed either side of the spectrum. With lyricism, substance, and swagger Lecrae unleashes a barrage of social issues, truths, and challenges to the culture of hip hop. All the while he maintains a biblical worldview, and manages to incorporate the gospel message without alienating the hip-hop culture. As a fan of hip-hop I am both impressed and relieved for the fresh wind in the midst of stale air. As a Christian I am overwhelmed with joy that the truth is being preached without being “preached”, if such a thing is possible.

DJ Don Cannon does a great job as the host of this tape. We hear just enough of him to keep us motivated and excited about this new sound to the game. He isn’t all over the place like some DJ’s are, yelling over every track, and he does surprisingly well with his humble and profanity-free voice overs. I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes the DJ of Choice for several upcoming tapes by artists who are well outside of his norm. Can we say Lupe and Cannon?

The production on Church Clothes has a well-balanced mixture of hard core, up tempo beats and melodic synths and Tantalizing chords. Great sounds from the likes of Street Symphony, and Wit with tracks like Cold World and Inspiration respectively. Also we see Boi 1da make a classic show of things with the notable track ‘Gimme a Second’ on which Lecrae discusses his motives and methods and dispels a lot of misconceived notions about him.

When it comes to features, we see No Malice (formerly Malice of The Clipse) put on for his newfound faith. The sweet sounds of Tasha Catour, the lyricism of Tedashi and Andy Mineo (reach records artists), Swoope and Suzzy Rock (High Society Collective members). Propaganda shows out, and Odd Thomas (Humble Beast) are just a few of the features that cover this mixtape.  Strange as it seems the amount of features don’t dilute the quality of what is being considered Lecrae’s debut into the secular rap arena.

Amidst all of the great points about Church Clothes are some drawbacks and negatives, but only a few. Lecrae has what many will consider a downfall as an artist, He only has one message. But even with his overall topic being the same, he handles it well and covers a wide range of concepts and subject matter. Other than that, hip-hop fans will be somewhat bothered that Lecrae isn’t spending time tearing down the system and criticizing the government for their failure to live up to someone’s standard somewhere.  Put those two issues to rest and Church Clothes becomes an excellently executed project.

The mixtape is free, so my recommendation is to download it and share it. Lecrae’s intentions with this mixtape were to introduce himself to those who may not as of yet have heard of him. Hope you enjoy it. If you’ve already listened to the tape, or are going to listen to the tape, leave me a comment and let me know what you think about it.

For the Download of the mixtape go to http://www.datpiff.com/Lecrae-Church-Clothes-mixtape.348497.html

1 Comment

Filed under Topics of Interest

Agape Cafe Outreach Center

Indianapolis has always had homeless and financially impoverished citizens. The likelihood is that there will always be some number of people below the poverty line in this area. However, there is also a responsibility and need for the remaining population to help them in ways that will empower them and enable them to progress. The question is what is the best way to help?

In the past, money has been thrown at the problems facing our community with the best intentions, and the effort is applauded. However, the growing rate of homeless and needy families Indianapolis is evidence that this tactic is a failing one. The age old saying becomes increasingly true in this present day, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”

People of all socio-economic backgrounds suffer from various living conditions like depression, identity crises, lack of job skills, broken homes, estranged families etc. Needless to say, this issue is magnified amongst the low income and underprivileged communities. Add to that already long and growing list of issues the inability to pay for childcare, lack of transportation, and the absence of money management skills. Now you have an already bad situation that just became impossible to overcome. The difference between the middle to upper class and lower class is that the lower class, generally speaking, does not have access to the same resources that people who are in better situations financially may have.

These problems have kept back some of the best and brightest that our communities have to offer the world. Birth into an already poor situation teaches, and therefore, genders generational poverty. That same impoverished situation encourages a defeatist mentality. Poor children become poor parents who develop poor families. Our crime rates and suicide rates are on the rise as people who have no clue how to improve their situation seek an escape from the black hole which has been affectionately termed, “the Hood” or “The Trap”. These effects are seen across the board in all races and creeds.

Outside of these communities we see the influence this has had on the world. While Martin Luther King Jr. fought alongside John F. Kennedy for civil rights decades ago, and the walls of racial segregation came tumbling down, new walls have been erected. Walls of financial division that create subdivisions of social classes where society has digressed into an extreme version of high school cliques rules and reigns over the people. The divorce rates and recidivism rates are rising on either side of the fence and it would seem that we are blind to the correlation. Indianapolis is growing and shrinking simultaneously as buildings are raised only to be left standing with no workers to fill them.

So, what can we do about it? Certainly such a daunting task is outside of our power to effect a change. Nothing could be further from the truth. This giant is only as strong as its roots. Kill the root and the tree will wither and die. That is the ACOC’s task in Indianapolis, to effectively strike the roots of this monster, In the Home.

The ACOC exists to bring back the former glory of the family structure. Our goal and vision is to chip away at the greatest problem facing our city today. The breakdown of the family. When the family prospers so does the community in which it lives. As the community goes, so goes the society.

But how do you restore the family? By taking each piece and developing it to a successful standard.  The ACOC intends to create, build, and promote programs that will take each member of the home and develop them into successful members of the household individually. The Father (Man), Mother (Woman), and Children are all a part of the family, thus they are all a part of the strategy and objectives of the ACOC.

Where ever men are present we will empower them to take their place as leaders in the home and the community. Where women are present we will empower her to be the woman she was born to be, powerful, strong, and able to work side by side with a man to successfully build a home. Where children are present we will educate and develop them to be successful and secure in their identities, thereby empowering them to become successful adults.

The agape Café is present in Indianapolis for Indianapolis.  We don’t serve coffee, we serve people.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Topics of Interest

CNN Belief Blog

Editor’s note: Listen to the CNN podcast of this piece:Karen Spears Zacharias is author of A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (MacAdam/Cage, 2012) and is on Twitter at @karenzach.

By Karen Spears Zacharias, Special to CNN

I hear the audible voice of God. No, not in the same way that the Bible’s Eve did when God asked her outright and out loud: “Woman, what in my name have you done now?”

Scriptures don’t tell us specifically, but I suspect at that particular moment in eternity God must have sounded a lot like Perry Mason: “C’mon, tell the truth. You know I’m a specialist on getting people out of trouble.”

Bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry is a pastor’s daughter in Alabama. You’d think if God spoke to anybody, it would be a pastor’s child, but Patti swears she has never heard the voice of God…

View original post 948 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Thoughts on The Word