WE CAN BE ONE WORLD UNITED NOT DIVIDED!

PREMIUM CLOTHING CO.I know this statement in the title is a bit of a stretch, we are extremely divided am I right? We are divided by race, religion, politics, sports, I mean this world loves to be divided, but why? Are we not all children of God? To my brothers and sisters in Christ, there should be a fire in your bones. I will tell you now Jesus was not partisan, so why are we? Jesus doesn’t see a skin color he see’s only the light withing, so why don’t you? I hope the fire is building and the Holy Spirit fills you. Being a Christian is not about prosperity, not comfort. Just today I was walking to a coffee shop which I like going to because it’s quiet and I can do homework, but also reflect on a lot about life. I love walking, but it was raining, and what happened I walked in puddles. For those who don’t know much about me, I don’t mind water, but I loathe wet socks and as soon as I stepped in that first puddle I was like great. Then it dawned upon me though God wanted me to step in the puddle. Now I know it sounds stupid, but here’s the thing of it is we often are afraid to outside of our comfort zone to get where God needs us. I needed to get to that coffee shop not only to work on my homework but also to get a wake-up call. See the thing of it is what holds us back from unity is not that we can’t become united, it’s uncomfortable for us to go outside of our comfort zone. I’m telling you now pop that bubble. As soon as I got over my wet shoes my mind refocused. Our comfort is too often a distraction that the enemy want’s you to have. Don’t get me wrong God wants you to be comfortable but the devil wants you really comfortable. He want’s you to cry over spilled milk and be upset that your local Starbucks is out of coconut milk (not a fan). He want’s you upset over luxury. When you’re focused on all this your not living by the Gospel you’re falling into his plan.

Division outside of the kind which comes with a math equation and maybe some sports teams if put there by the devil. He wants you to look at your brother as a lesser. For those of you who have seen the series Roots a newly born Kunta Kinte is taken to the edge of the hill and is pointed to the sky and is told: “Behold the only thing greater than yourself.” What a wonderful statement because the thing is we are all equals in the eyes of God. Thy neighbor is not better and no worse than your or me. Billions of people are in need of help and half of that is simply being a human being and caring. When you walk into the store hold the door open. Saying hello to people. This isn’t rocket science. It involves not gossiping or using your tongue to bring down your fellow many. However, it takes hearts, hands, and feet. We need the heart to care and have compassion as the Holy Spirit done for use. He’s a wonderful counselor. Letting that heart lead you to what God has in store for you, and having the courage to love your brothers and sisters. It takes hands to reach out and sacrifice as Christ has sacrificed for use. It takes feet to walk the extra mile and sometimes out of our comfort zone to love our neighbor as God the Father loves us. Create something like the Father. Use our hands and feel to guide the heart to where it needs to be. After all, Peter teaches us this:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Listen, all we sinners and children of the Almighty God, we do not have the luxury to not love each other. God gives us the free will to do things and while we may fall by His grace which we do not deserve we are saved! God gives us the grace we do not deserve, so why are we holding this from each other. Because it’s uncomfortable, but what does this make us, nothing but hypocrites. We are all hypocrites which for those of you who did not know it is why there are hypocrites in the church. The church is for the weak, the weak who admits they are weak and want to have a relationship with the only One who has ever been 100% strong, 100% of the time OUR GOD!

I will continue to write about helping each other because we HAVE TO. There is no excuse anymore my fellow saint. Yes, I said saint because that’s what the Bible says. We are all saints. Why not start acting like one, because if we do not, if a fire does not burn in our souls now we will one day feel the fires of the pit of hell.

I can’t tell you what your calling is but together we can be united by making the individual change we can. It makes take us down the dark alley which scares the crap out of us. It could take us to the purple mountains and by the power of God help us to move them hand in hand with our Maker. It could lead us to the Africa, Asia, South America, or to the streets of Chicago, IL, but if we continue to be divided and let comfort stand in our way the devil gains traction in a battle he will NEVER WIN. It shouldn’t matter if you have the money or the “extra time” if you sit down and look for ways to sacrifice in the name of the Lord God there will be a way. When you’re a Christian you should strive to be a Christian 100%. While we will all fall short of the glory of God that’s why we submit to His will, His glory, and His greatness. Walk as a Christian, talk as a Christian, eat as a Christian, pray as a Christian, vote as a Christian, and live as a Christian. Whatever you do for God do it until it hurts, and then keep on going. You think that’s not fair well a Perfect Man went to the cross for the sins of men and women whom he loved more than we could ever. You don’t need money to help at a soup kitchen, you don’t need time to say hello and give some money to the homeless man your tuck your head as you walk past, and you don’t need anything outside of God (I will note don’t take this out of context please continue to eat and drink water). With God, we have the bread of life and we will never go hungry. So I provide this challenge to you today WHAT is our GOD calling you to do today? Let Him take over, let the Holy Spirit fill you, and let that FIRE burn in your soul to make a change. I want you to read this message, share this message with your friends, and go out and be the change which you seek. AMEN! Peace and blessings you always my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Get it Straight it’s God Head 3 in 1, Father, Son, AND Holy Spirit

dove.pngOne of the many risks we run as Christians are becoming an accidental heretic. It’s something we all want to avoid because we do not want to go around speaking words which do not honor the greatness of our God. One of the more troubling trends which seem’s to continue to spread is an inadvertent attack on the Trinitarian doctrine. As harmless as it may seem to some, its a huge deal because far too often we see the Holy Spirit taking as sideline role. For those of you who are new to this Christianity thing, welcome, you’ve made a life-changing decision,  for those who are not well this post will be just as important to you as it is to them.

Folks, we seem to have no issue remembering God the Father and God the Son, but when it comes to the Holy Spirit we often forget about Him, and it’s a shame because the Holy Spirit is so crucial to our being as Christians. I know many of your ministers probably have let you down in this department, but if this is your first time hearing this I am sorry and am glad you came here today. The church needs to stop treating Trinitarian Theology as an idea. Yeah, we say these fancy creeds once in a while, but do we give the Spirit it’s due? I mean really. Think about it how many sermons do you recall where the Holy Spirit got His due? Folks were not talking about a characteristic of God, we are talking about GOD. Let it be known the Holy Spirt is God, The Father is God, and Jesus Christ is God.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t fault many ministers for forgetting to mention the Spirit once in a while, and there is a far more dangerous group out there those who deny the Trinity altogether. This is wrong. If you are one who follows this I am giving you a strong piece of advice right now STOP.

Now I could go on and on about this topic, but will close here. When I think about the Holy Spirit I often think about a first responder, and before I go too far I am not limiting the Holy Spirit to this reference. The Spirit is far greater than this, but in the sense that the Holy Spirit does so much for the world, and never receives the recognition He deserves.  Again, I want to point out that we can not describe God with our mortal words. However, for many of us, we don’t give the Spirit the recognition He so deserves. The Holy Spirit is the driving force which makes changes within us. He drives our spiritual formation and to forget about Him is inexcusable. Peace and Blessing to you always my brothers and Sister in Christ.

Why Thy Ole’ King James Version May Not Be the Best Translation Anymore

kjvThee has’t been reading the King James v’rsion far too longeth. T’s confusing, right? I how art we did expect to readeth this language which is almost straight out of Shakespeare? Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Alright, I’ll stop, but the point is those of us amongst us who still cling to the outdated translation of the King James version need to explore some of the more accurate and clearer translation. Reminder to all, the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant, inspired, and our final authority for faith and life. Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the KJV, it’s been a fine translation, but reading the KJV is like eating an apple or potato without the skin, you’re losing a lot of nutrients. While the apple is still an apple, and it is very healthy you’re still missing out. If you keep reading the KJV you’re at no risk of becoming a heretic. I will admit it is an excellent translation but not the only one. I know plenty of people who love their noble KJV. So while I am not knocking the King James version, it was great when it was first written, but not since the 1970’s has the King James version been one of the more viable options. Now I know many people have been big fans of the KJV, and one of the things a lot of people really like is that its translation was one of the first English translations which remain closest to the time of Jesus Christ. That’s great and English speaking Christians forever owe a debt to the KJV. However, new information has come out and we now better understand the ancient text which we know as the Bible.

As much as we want to cling to the KJV for its time, let’s be honest here not a single person in the Bible spoke English, wrote English, or knew about English. Historians date the English language back to as early as 550 C.E. and it continued to form into the early part of the 11th century. Jesus and the Apostles predated English by 500 years. The first English Bible was not created until the late 15th-early 16th century. The King James version was not written until 1611, about 1500 years after some of the latest pieces of the Bible was written. So this notion that we need to cling to it, for this reason, is simply invalid. The people who wrote the Bible spoke and wrote either Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek.

Many churches still use this, but my question is why? If they like the King James Version writing style then start looking at the New King James version, ok, not the same thing. The KJV did not have the luxury which modern translations had and did not have the same level of knowledge and evidence which we have. Since the KJV was created we have had a number of new findings which have helped us understand the Bible. When churches continue to cling to the KJV then they influence their parishioners to do the same. Many people hold onto this text because their church uses it.

One of the biggest reasons you show stop reading it though is the English is a dead form of English, it’s confusing. If you can’t coherently read the text then you’re missing out. Preserving what may have been a family tradition should not sacrifice your spiritual formation. Reading the Bible is hard, I am in seminary right now folks, and there are scriptures that still confuse me. Don’t make reading the Bible hard than it is.

So earlier in this I mentioned reading the KJV is like eating an apple without the skin. I know many people do not like the skin of the apple but again bear with me on this. One of the things which strike me is the KJV likes to call the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost. Not only is this reference at risk of scaring small children it’s flat out wrong. In fact, so inaccurate the vast majority of denominations will correctly teach the name as the Holy Spirit even if they read from the KJV. To be honest, the only people I know who still say Holy Ghost are old southern women. Correct me if I’m wrong. Now many of you may see this as a harmless fact, but it doesn’t give the Spirit the full credit that He so greatly deserves. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity and is the vehicle which drives our spiritual formation. Really, in general, the KJV does not give justice to the trinitarian doctrine. Additionally, the KJV leaves out an abundance of information which would be provided by a number Greek manuscripts.

Again, it’s a great translation but we should also be weary on limiting our Bible study to only one translation as well. The NASB, RSV, NKJV, NIV, and ESV to name a few are all quality translations which should be considered. Also, the HSCB is another translation which I also like to read from time to time. Reading multiple translations enhances our biblical literacy and makes us a better disciple of Christ. The KJV is not the only translation which was inspired by Biblical language. Let’s face it though there are over 14,000 manuscripts which lead us to the content of the New Testament along. So we can be sure what is written in the Bible is absolutely accurate. However, many translations explain it better.

Again, I am not here bashing the KJV, but it’s not the best anymore and we need to treat it as such. Reminder to all, the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant, inspired, and our final authority for faith and life. Listen reading the Bible is the most important thing here and if the KJV is the only one you’ll read more power to you. Some of you are a KJV only people, but I challenge your to lighten this stance because you’re missing out. Likewise, if your a one translation person your should look at the various translations out there. This doesn’t even cost money anymore nowadays when studying your Bible you can read from your Bible translation of choice and look the same verses on a number of websites such as Bible Gateway, Bible Hub I think it’s called, and much more. So in the 21st century, we have no excuse to be a one-dimensional Christian. Not to mention the hundreds of free Bible Apps we have available, but do pay attention to the ratings on some. We cannot continue to eat this apple without the skin. We have to put our ego’s aside and realize that English is no the only language our there, and English did not even exist at the time of Christ. While the KJV may have been one of the best of its time, many more accurate translations have emerged. Shalom and May the Peace of the Lord Be With You Always my Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

 

 

Treat The Women in Your Life With Respect

SPIRITEDToday I was at a celebration of women’s history and it leads me to some deep theological thought on the matter and how crucial women are to Christianity. The great thing about these celebrations is you not only see the unjust struggle some of the pioneers went through but it leads you to appreciate the wonderful women in your life. I was in a group of guys who were not necessarily sensitive to the matter, and what really troubled me is they were using bad doctrine to prove their point. One of the speakers made a Biblical reference of how a woman was created from the rib of a man to walk at the side of the man, not in the back, but on the side as an equal. This is absolutely true, I firmly believe that there are a number of strong references which show that a man and a woman each have crucial roles in life. While I appreciated this reference, another person from my group took it as an opportunity skew the message. First and foremost, this event was going to be oriented towards women as it was a woman’s history celebration, I don’t know what he was expecting. Secondly, he spoke of 1 Peter 3:7  as a counter, but I really don’t think he took it in the right context, and he’s not alone. We are trained to see things as they are and assume that’s where it ends, but I will make the argument this is wrong, and as disciples of Christ we should all examine what the author is trying to convey here.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. -1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)

0d0118767e9c149bc0784110ea6b0390Alright, folks here is the verse which he mentioned. What was said was that the speaker was paraphrasing, while technically that may be true, he took this verse out of context. The controversy of this verse is that it calls women the weaker vessel. This makes a lot of people cringe here. A few years ago before I really began to look at the Bible deeper I may have made the same mistake, but Peter is not at all being sexist. This first and foremost is a reference to Adam and Eve, Eve was the one who collapsed. Not to mention women are simply wired differently than men, the average man’s emotions are much different than the average woman’s. That’s the beauty of it all when a man and woman together they are designed to complete each other in a partnership. Man and woman are supposed to fill the gap which the other lacks essentially. Men get upset over different things than women, and this is a common fact. If you disagree with this you’re struggling with reality. My wife and I are two different people with different ticks. While we have a great deal in common it’s the differences which truly make marriage beautiful. Likewise, there is an elegance, sensitivity, and just a general nature men do not have. The truly blessed among us have a strong mother, strong grandmother, and aunts who think the world of us. It’s that caring nature every truly blessed person who has walked this earth has. For men who extremely blessed we will separate from our original family unit and expand upon it and find a wife, a life-long partner, and someone to shower with love for the rest of his existence. The point I am getting to nowhere in this verse does this say women are not your equal. They belong at your side in partnership and on a side note if you’re walking down the street with the one you stand towards the traffic. I digress, by the “weaker” vessel is a basis for a man to treat the women in his life with understanding, tenderness, and patience.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. -Galatians 3:28

We are all one in the eyes of God. This verse above is not a contradiction to anything the Bible says. When you begin to see what the author meant you begin to see the Bible does not contradict itself, but people are reading it wrong. Not every verse is pertaining to the same situation, not every verse is mean to be taken literally I.E. metaphors, there are parables, biographies, historical references, genealogies, and poetry just to name a few styles in the Bible. So take this verse above from the Apostle Paul, we are all equal in the eyes of God. To think one is better than the other or one is not an equal is unbiblical.

Now I think the point is clear here and I hope I get the point across here. Women have a very prominent role within the household, the world, and the Kingdom of God. To minimize their role because you want to paraphrase the Bible and take it out of context then you are walking a dangerous line. Don’t get me wrong we all will fall victim to this, but we have to be open to expanding our faith every chance we get. The Bible teaches you a lot about how to treat the women around you and every one of them will point you to love and respect. When you get down to it you will see we are to be equals. Let me remind you to those want to cling to this stone aged theology as well it was Mary Magdalene who first saw Jesus Christ after the resurrection, and there are countless other women in the Bible who had a crucial role. Many women within the church have had prominent roles throughout time Saint Theresa, Phoebe Palmer, Susanna Wesley, and the list can go on and on. We are the body and we all have a role. Peace and Good Will to you all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

What is Love?

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13

love-valentines-day-791xAbove is bar none my favorite Bible verse, and most of you know it, but it’s just so simple, truthful, and powerful.  Paul is writing to the Corinthian church, and teaching them about love, love as we all know is the most important thing we can do in our existence. The most important commandment God has given us is the love the Lord God with all our hearts, minds, and soul. The second is the love our neighbors as ourselves. We are nothing without love as Paul teaches us. Love is so beautiful, we love, we want to be loved, and love makes the world go round. There is something about love that gets the best of all of us. We all love a good love story. Many of our best movies revolve around love. While may people look to the verse about loving our spouses, it’s not just limited to this. This is a blanket verse which covers all of our love. You do not have to be married to love, and love should be shown to all we encounter. Love is something we should show even to our worst enemy because this is what our Lord has commanded us to do. We can look at the verse and get all warm and fuzzy inside, but unless we put this feeling the practice we become many of the negative which Paul list. We like to live in this bubble because in this bubble we are safe, we have shelter, and inside our bubble all is well. Who doesn’t like bubbles either, but the issues as any three-year-old can tell you is they pop. I hate to pop your bubble here, but we are the body and our hands can not reach inside of a bubble. Being in this bubble prevents us from being the hands of the Body that reach out because we fear to pop the bubble afraid of the reality outside of it.

The Apostle Paul provides the textbook definition on how love should look. I teach Sunday school and have the pre-schoolers and it is such an amazing thing to see is how curious and hungry for knowledge theses children are. We need to seek God with a childlike wonder. I see them and they are there reliant on the things I do. One of their favorite things obviously is snack time, its one of the few times they are all in agreement on what they want to do. As soon as the church crackers come out their little feet patter to the mat and they all sit anxiously waiting for these crackers which most of us would overlook in our adult years. However, love is just that the cracker for our soul. It’s simple, its basic, and makes us full. Our souls need nourishing. We can seek for things which we think may be better, but nothing is better than love. Nothing is better than meeting the needs we have. Ok, I will concede there are much better foods than crackers, but that’s not the point of this analogy.  What makes it such a good analogy though is that often we struggle to accept love. Many of us today make it hard for others to love us, and in this sense, we do not want this cracker which we need to love. We reject it thinking either we don’t deserve the love. So instead of seeking love, we seek things of the flesh and we fall.

Let’ts look at this a little closer, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Paul gets to the point we can speak as much as we want, but our words have no meaning without love. Part of this in my view is that we can say we love someone, but in order to show love takes commitment, time, and effort. Love is not something to be taken lightly. Love is about respect, honor, and commitment. I know in my marriage it starts with respect. We need to respect each other, our boundaries, and each other’s needs. Marriage is so powerful because it shapes us to love. Marriage is a powerful tool of commitment. I know I wrote about it a little bit ago, but to draw back on this. We can say we love our spouse, but it’s not enough to say we love them. Show them your love, respect, and care this is not something that cost money, but time. Dr. Gary Chapman writes about our love languages and one of the things that are important is knowing your spouses so you know how to love them. Not every person is a gifted person, not everyone responds to how you want to show love. The key to loving someone is to love them how they want to be loved. Your relationships should be a constant quest to learn about them.

 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. Sometimes we give far too much value into what we know. We can be sharp as a tack in terms of knowledge, but if we do not know how to put it into action. Like that tack it only has so many uses, it can hold up a paper, make a hole, and some of the stronger ones maybe hold up a slightly larger item. However, we put too much weight on that tack gravity pulls it down. We can believe we are in the right all we want.  Anyone who has been married, and again I use marriage because this is something I know a lot about, knows that marriage is not about being right. If you argue about who’s right eventually the topic veers away from the original issue, skeletons come out, and it’s just a nightmare. Every marriage, occasionally mine as well, ends up in a war of wits, but it leads nowhere. It takes strength to have the wisdom to fight your battles wisely. Now before I go too far down this road, this is not exactly what Paul is saying here, but its more or less a road which eventually intersects it.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. It’s interesting how many people try to minimize Christianity as a body of “do-gooders” regulated by a set of standards. They try to make Christianity merely a body of rules to hold people in check. I feel here Paul shoots this down in one sentence. We can do all the good in the world and behave well, but what do we gain a firm pat on the back. When we do not do things out of love or for a purpose nothing is gained. Likewise, let’s look at the woman who gave it all, which seemed like a small amount, but it was all she had. She did so out of love. Doing good is the right thing, but love is stronger. Love is not something that you do it’s given.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

This is really the meat and potatoes of this verse. This exemplifies love and how we should conduct ourselves. Love is patient and in life, we need a lot of it. Love is kind and it seems so self-explanatory but in the grind of the day, we can tend fo forget it. Anyone in a marriage or at least a stable one can tell you pride gets you nowhere. It’s a fork which the devil puts in between you and love. Everyone want to be right but sometimes you have to put yourself aside. Jesus tells us to put ourselves aside. Pride is such a powerful sin, and it allows us to feel better than what we are. When my wife and I were preparing to get married we went through counseling as a pre-check to getting married in our church. We were wisely told that all couples fight, but if you do you need to fight fair. One of those aspects is that you leave the past in the past. It’s not ammunition we all mistakes. Any sort of conflict you may have had for the day ends at goodnight. Love never fails, but people sometimes do, and when we love we can overcome and persevere.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I could go on about this verse all day, but I want to get to the conclusion of this verse because it says it all. Love is so important. Love trumps everything, nothing is greater than love. Jesus tells us this time and time again. You want to know how to check an authentic Biblical text analyze first does this lead me to love, if the answer is no then it’s likely a fake. Now don’t get me wrong not every verse does so but each book of the Bible does. The NIV which is my favorite translation list the word LOVE 551 times, yes, it’s that important. Like your teachers taught you in the first grade if I repeat it’s important. I think 551 times passes this importance test. The greatest thing we can do is love the Lord with all our hearts, and the second is love thy neighbor as thyself. I think a lot of us forget this once in a while. Stop kidding yourself and love more, love better, love all the time. Peace and blessings to you all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

It’s Time to Keep it Real Church

THE CHURCHTo be honest with you all I am sick and tired of seeing a skewed Gospel. This ragamuffin is sick and tired of seeing people altering the Gospel to meet their needs. E-N-O-U-G-H, enough is enough. I can not be more clear than I am at this point, we need to stop putting our faith in man and put it in God where it belongs. The church needs to be the church and defend what its right. We cannot find a happy medium to meet the needs. Society adapts too much, the CHURCH is the church, is the church, is the church. We serve God, not man, Christianity is about carrying out the will of God to benefit man. We make changes for God, not changes for the man at the peril of God. However, far too often I am seeing a society which is highlighting their politics before they highlight their God. Enough! I have been guilty of this before letting my politics become an idol, and it’s going to happen, but to all of us, but the church can not bend. This is not some football defense, we cannot bend nor break. Our society lies in pivot point right now and much like times in the past the church is at a cross road. To my fellow millennials, you need to get to the church. To the boomers, gen Xers, you need to get to church. Now I am focusing on the future of the church at this is towards the millennials, but it takes all hands to make this happen.

A RECENT PEW RESEARCH FOUND ONLY 27% OF MILLENIALSI have said it a few times, the problem for millennials is not God, in fact, the majority of millennials have faith. They believe in a higher power they believe in God, but while they believe in the Almighty God, they don’t believe in the church.  In a Pew Research study, 27% of millennials claim to go to church on a weekly basis. However, over half of them absolutely believe in God. While there is a decline when between generations to generations, over half of millennials without a question believe in God. The term spiritual, but not religious is the new norm, this encompasses people who believe in God, the Gospel, and the mission, but do not believe in the church. One of the issue with this is that they are making their judgment off of organized religion, and primarily the Christocaptialist likes of the mega churches. The “church” they see is not the “Church” the Bible teaches. The Church is a body of believers, while many millennials see the “church” as a building of obligation. They see people getting rich off of the “church”, but don’t see the impact of the “Church.” The authenticity they desire is masked by the mega church, and the Christian Atheist those who recognize God with their mouth, but deny him with their words. The church looks fake, but the teachings of God remain true to millennials as they have for decades. There is a major generational gap right now, and the church has been impacted much like many other facets of our lives. Change is something we have to see as a reality, and its crossroads in our society, the church is not an exception.

One of the issues we are seeing are many Christian proclaiming their faith, but ignoring the basic needs of humans and if I have not caused you to click out of this article I thank you because you’re not at denial with reality and are prepared to fight for the truth. So lets clear the air here folks and I am speaking from the heart here. Let’s take a look at the many social issues withing our society. Let’s start with the big one homosexuals. Many church bodies are fine with adulterers, liars, cheats, and various other sins entering the walls of their building, but if you’re gay that’s not ok. Now I have to remain true to what I can see in the Bible, it’s a sin, but seeing this as a sin is no excuse to be a bigot.
cv_everysoulYou can hold true to believing homosexuality is a sin and not be a bigot about it. In fact, I was going to post one of their signs of hatred, but was so sickened by it I couldn’t put it on this sight. It’s dispicable. One of the things which turn many millennials away from the confines of many denominations is the inability to accept people who chose this lifestyle. Sin is sin folks, and if you truly believe this to be a sin there needs to be sympathy, not judgment. You’re a sinner if you don’t think so your a bigger sinner than you think. There was only one man who walked this Earth without sin and his name is Jesus Christ. So what am I saying here? The church doors need to be open to all walks of life. We need to welcome LGBT into our community with open arms. They struggle with a sin just like you. I have many friends who are gay, lesbian, or bi and they are amazing people. Their choice of life does not impact my ability to treat them like a human being, work with them, and love them. If they want to seek a relationship with God then who are we to judge? Don’t believe me ask the Pope because those are his words.  Who are we to stand in their way? Let me make something perfectly clear God does not hate gays. God doesn’t hate anyone and each of us let Him down on a daily basis. We all fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 tells us for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I don’t see any gray area with this verse. If you see some please let me know in the comment section.

One thing we as Christians like to do is paraphrase. If you’re going to paraphrase the Bible I suggest starting with ones such as this:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” -Matthew 22:36-40

Now, of course, we should not paraphrase the Bible, but if at a minimum you for some reason can’t know this verse by heart. Well this and maybe this one as well:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ -Matthew 25:35-40

homelessparis_7032101One of the things we do wrong as Christians as we act like out money is ours, our clothes are our, and we actually own things this is wrong beyond belief. I’ll say for example a homeless man. Most people will sit there and immediately try to flee and call them a bum, but this is not the right thing to do. You know it, I know it, and it’s simply wrong. Why are we more concerned with how Chrissy Teigen holds her baby than we are with helping the homeless? It’s ridiculous, at a minimum I suggest to you my brothers and sisters carry five dollars in one dollar bills. Don’t spend this and each time you encounter a homeless person you give them money. Now by no means do you have to only give them one dollar, but at a minimum, you acknowledge they are human. No many of you are saying, but wait for Daniel he’ll probably spend it on booze. Well, who care’s if they do then they have to answer to God. It’s not your place to judge what that person does with their money. If they spend it irrationally then they are in the wrong, but when you assume this you’re in the wrong too. My wife and I have begun doing this and it’s a great feeling when we can help, but an ever greater feeling when that money is still in my wallet at the end of the week. Why you may ask because part of it to me means homeless people may be finding a home. On the other side it’s another chance to give. If that money is still there at the end of the month put it in the offering tray and go get more for the homeless. God loves a cheerful giver. It’s so delightfully simple to do. So many Christians proclaim to be pro-life but don’t seem to care about the homeless ones. To those who think this I challenge you to find a Bible verse which says reject these people. Maybe it’s in Matthew,

‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Nope, that’s not it. Well maybe Mark has something to say, his Gospel was written first.

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Oh boy, this is embarrassing, surely it’s in Luke.

He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

What in tarnation is going on here? I know it’s somewhere in there, let’s try one more Gospel, John, John’s my boy he’s got that one verse I can always remember.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Well crud, I guess such verse does not exist. The point I am getting to is giving, loving, and generosity is Biblical, selfishness, greed, and taking is not. The devil wants you to get comfortable with a lavish lifestyle because it’s a distraction. This is what a lot of people criticize Christians about they see thousands of homeless people, but Christians walking past. We are the examples, and we have the be the example because as the church we have the be the church. The building we call church is just a location we gather in. It’s like the university for which we sharpen our knowledge on what to do. Yes, you can have nice things, but if these nice things are an idol then you need to sever ties with it.

Before you read this portion I advise you to read all the way through. I am a major supporter of separation of church and state to an extent and think the church should too. However, not like how many like to see it, but the church is polarized, at least some denominations are. Politics has not place in the church because Jesus Christ was not a Democrat, and he surely was not a Republican, nor was He a Libertarian, socialist, or Green. So stop this act that Jesus supports one party over another. Our faith should be guiding our politics, not our politics driving our faith. Somewhere along the line, this was lost. So I advocate you next time somewhat ask you where you stand politically don’t answer with a left or right response you’re a Christian. While in no way do I support the politician Donald Trump I know he’s not truly in control. His power is temporary and even if you do not support him you can make your own change. There are no elections in heaven because God is in charge.

This is a time of trial for the church and we cannot become divided over a few policy issues. We need to come together as the church and put aside out differences to make a change. Change does not come with division. Division is put there by the devil to keep us from what is true, pure, and wholesome. The church needs to keep it real and keep it about God. Many of the post I have been putting up in the past week advocates you to make a change by helping those less fortunate. We need to continue to push forward for this because it’s an act of love. We need to allow love the break through and use our words to speak life. There may be obstacles in our way, but God can help you clear them. When you commit yourself to God you will be filled with the Holy Spirit one of the three persons of the being of God and carry out His will. So my question to you will you continue to chase the things of the world or will you keep it real and chase God? God bless you all and may the Holy Spirit fill you with joy and abundant love my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Theology of Baseball and For the Love of the Game pt. 5

1997_world_series_programIt was the late hours or at least what I perceived as late on a cool day in October. I had witnessed my first World Series game ever and it was one of the best games I have ever seen even to this date. I had rigged the rabbit ears on the small television which laid nearby red bunk bed and was able to get NBC to come in. To be honest, I knew I liked baseball, but I really didn’t understand the full extent of what was going on. I was seven years old and was watching a game which I would later fall in love with. I tuned into the game in the 7th inning and recalled wanting the Indians to win who currently had the lead. However, I had no vested interest in this game, but it was baseball and I was staying up late. Little did I know that it would go on to be yet another page in the turmoil of the city of Cleveland. If any American sports city has worst luck than Cleveland I would love to hear who it is. While my Cubbies had their drought they at least saw success from the Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks at various times, but Cleveland it’s just a sad situation. Not since WWII times have the Cleveland Indians hoisted that illustrious honor. It’s not like Cleveland has had bad teams either they have had their chances, and while I am extraordinarily happy the Cubs won the series, another part of me can sympathize with them as well. They were up 3-1 on my Cubbies, and it looked as if Cleveland would be ending their drought. However, something special happened with the Chicago Cubs, and they set up what may go down as the greatest game 7 in sports history. Baseball more than any sport knows how to rip your heart out and demoralize your soul. Baseball isn’t fair, but neither is life. While Cleveland now holds the longest drought in professional baseball, it only reminds me how much of life we often take for granted and don’t take in what is truly beautiful around us.

Luckily for Cleveland, they had their moment earlier in the year as they saw their hometown hero lead their Cavs to the NBA Title. They overcame a 3-1 deficit and they went from experiencing a positive 3-1 flip, to ending the year on a negative. Sports are cruel. However, what will get left in the ashes of 2016 will surely be the record setting season the Warriors had, and the amazing season the Indians had. The Indians were on the wrong side of destiny. Everything about 2016 had it being the vindication year for the Cubs, and it was.

Baseball teaches us to appreciate the wonders of life. However, they also hurt us. One of the things I think we do far too often is arbitrate our pain. For many years, Cubs fans could say my pain is greater than thou, but here’s the thing we need to do better is to learn to sympathize. Pain is pain, just because one person’s pain isn’t on the same level as your’s or what you deem is greater doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. We far too often tell each other well that’s bad, but this person is going through this. It makes no sense.

Much like this situation how many times do we look at the negatives of what has occurred, but forgetting everything beautiful which had occurred? God gives us incredible blessing every day. From the moment you wake up your breathing, your are alive, and you right then and there are receiving a blessing. Since your reading this blog I would imagine your likely had a roof over your head, a blessing, and probably went to the bathroom short after in indoor plumbing. We often overlook the gifts which we have received. What ruins it one moment, one tiny moment whether that’s some jerk at work. The guy parked in two spots at the store, or maybe the person who just cut you off. However, we don’t see the blessing that we have paved roads, a car, and store to go to. The point I am getting to is not that we should not be hurt by these things, but it should not get to the point where it takes away from the amazing things which had occurred to get you to that point. Life is too short to dwell on small things which bring us down. In sports as soon as that loss occurs everyone’s team is undefeated and only a few short months until a new opportunity arrises. With every shortcoming comes a new day until that day the Good Lord waves us home.