The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways: Behind the Scenes of a Movement

20170513_124211For those of you who are up on US history, and I mean really up on US history know the name Peyton Randolph. For the outsider who does not know who this man is he is actually one of the most prominent colonist. He was Williamsburg, VA number one citizen and was the mentor to a number of the founding fathers. For those of you who have visited Colonial Williamsburg know that Randolph likely would have preceded George Washington as the first president of the United States had he not died of a stroke in October 1775. So who was this man that so few of us know about? He was the Speaker of the House of the Virginia House of Burgesses (kind of like the senate) and he was the first president of the continental congress. Many Americans will never know who this man was or his role in mentoring some of the most prominent names in our nations history. He passed away before the Declaration of Independence was signed. While many of us do not know about the name Peyton Randolph those who do can look back and see the impact which he had on the development of our nation. While history continues recognize the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Henry, and more very few of them would be without the whits and leadership of a one Peyton Randolph. Many figures in the Bible have been mentors, but I would argue the one whose mentorship goes the most unseen is the one of Gamaliel. Ignore the face his name screams he had an awesome beard. He was the mentor to Saul of Tarsus. History will know very little of the name Gamaliel and like Peyton Randolph his name is really only still know due to the people who lived up his legacy. Had the American Revolution of failed we would have no clue who many of those figures were including Randolph.

Gamaliel is often brushed under the rug because one he was not a Christian, but rather the Jewish mentor of Saul of Tarsus. He is only mentioned a couple of times through out the Bible. His name appears in the book of Acts. Gamaliel was a Pharisee, and he had a notable bloodline. He was highly respected in the Jewish community as a member of the Sanhedrin. However, his impact on the early church is on that is often overlooked. While Randolph may have had the intentions to create the bigger thing and Gamaliel not so much their impacts are similar. We first see Gamaliel in Acts 5. Peter and John are on trial before the Sanhedrin for preaching the name of Jesus. The two Apostle were about to be put to death before Gamaliel stepped in.

When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
-Acts 5:33-39
Two significant events occurred here, not only did Gamaliel preserve the lives and soon to be legacies of two of the most prominent Apostles. However, he said something which should be looked at by anyone as profound truth. For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God. Surprise, were still standing and as time would tell they were fighting against God.
Later in Acts we begin to see his connection to the Apostle Paul. We are able to see a brief connection between Gamaliel and his far more famous pupil in Acts 22:3. Gamaliel developed the knowledge of Hebrew scripture and developed the knowledge of Paul. It was this mentorship which made Paul a prime candidate to take the role which he would go on to have. However, his significance does not end there. Gamaliel’s name and lineage can be used to authenticate the book of Acts. The description and family line which Paul uses is consistent with the one presented by the historian Josephus. Much like Peyton Randolph our understanding of the person they were is limited, but every indication of them was one of wisdom. While we may not know the extent Mr. Randolph paid to creating this nation we know we likely would not be where we are without him. Likewise, it goes to show how great our God is and how he can use unlikely figures for His good. He used a Jewish Rabbi to teach his pupil to become a central figure in the creation of Christianity. Not only this, but he preserved the lives of many others and he helped equip the Christian movement with the steam that was needed. He largely influenced one of the most fierce missionaries of all time. Without these men who knows what the world would be like. Peace and Blessings Always my Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

The Greatest That Never Was

800px-Josh_Gibson_HOF_PlaqueFor the purist of baseball, there are a few known facts which seem to be a consensus. The first is that Babe Ruth is the greatest player that ever was and possibly will ever be. Even people who were on steroids couldn’t reach the larger than life stature of the Great Bambino. Go back into a similar time frame and is another legend, but unfortunately, we will never know what will come of the greatest slugger in the Negro Leagues, Josh Gibson. Gibson often called the black Babe Ruth never got his chance to play in the MLB. It leaves a giant question of how good he could have been. It’s up there with such debates what would have happened if Ichiro would have played his whole career in the US? What if Prior and Wood would have not been hit by the injury bug? What if Dwight Gooden didn’t have a substance abuse problem? What if JR Richard didn’t have that stroke? Baseball if full of what if’s and the list could go on. However, the only legend which comes close to the Babe is that of Josh Gibson. He was rumored to have hit almost 800 home runs in his career. The only player who may have been better than Gibson during his time was Stachel Paige. Paige who many believe could have been one of the greatest if not the greatest pitcher of all-time but did not get his break until his 40’s. These two could have changed baseball’s history had they had the opportunity to play even by the age of 30. They will remain one of baseball’s biggest what if’s and go down as potentially the greatest ball players who never were.

Now we can sit around and fantasize about what could have been, but we will never know. When we look back it is another example of how stupid segregation was. It also serves as an example of how many today go about their day’s with unfulfilled potential. Within each of us is a God-given calling. Some of us have a grander calling in the eyes of man, but in the eyes of God, we are all equal. For some, they are held down by what their circumstances, for other we don’t have this hurdle. While many of us are only held down by ourselves. Our dreams are often within our reach but because we fear the unknown we don’t chase them. This is a terrible tragedy because as Christians we should all strive to be the best at one thing that is love. We all have different callings, but no one has ever been held back in their true calling because of love. We can’t afford to be held back by ourselves because life already throws us enough hurdles. We would never know who the Gibson’s or Paige’s of the world were if they would have one day thought that they couldn’t do what they do. While their potential may have never been fulfilled on the big stage they would have dreamed their impact remained. They may have never reached the Major Leagues in their prime of even at all, but think about the legacy they may have left behind. How many people saw them and want to be like them. How many people watched and were inspired to be better because of them. One of the things which often is forgotten is the impact of being the one who opens the door for the future.

During the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. never was able to see the world change as he dreamed. Nor did in the journey of the Israelites did Moses ever see the promise land. In our society, we need not only Moses’s, but we need Joshua’s as well. Not everyone will get that golden stage like Jackie Robinson did some of us will be legends in the shadows like Gibson. Just because we are not on the street we want to be on doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. While Josh Gibson might not have played in the Major Leagues his legacy was in the hearts of a number of great baseball players.

For those of you who don’t know Josh Gibson died at the age of 35 in 1947. Four months later Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the rest was history.

“One of the things that was disappointing and disheartening to a lot of the black players at the time was that Jack was not the best player. The best was Josh Gibson. I think that’s one of the reasons why Josh died so early – he was heartbroken.” –Larry Doby

When I look at the story of Josh Gibson I have to wonder what he could have done and historians will forever think the same thing. He left his mark and left a legacy, but for many, that legacy could have been much greater if it were not for selfishness, greed, and racism. Still today people are struggling due to circumstances they cannot control. This is major because we first have to examine how we can make our world better by tearing down prejudicial barriers, but also shows why we need to invest. This my friends are why it is so important to invest in humanity. Support people who may not have everything which you have. One major hurdle was the reason the world never truly knew the legacy of Josh Gibson. How many people are being held back because they don’t have the means to clear a hurdle. You never know what that investment could turn into. Peace and Blessings Always My Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Two Fold Issue Here: Why Are We Letting Circumstances Drive Our Faith?

Just the other day I was reading an article on how 14% of Christians have left their church following the election. I find this troubling not because their actions were unjustified, but rather because it becomes yet another example of people who are letting their faith be driven by their circumstances. While I understand there were quite a few evangelical ministers who misused the pulpit to advocate for the sitting president we are seeing a nation become divided over politics. This yet another example of how the enemy is becoming more powerful in our nation. The risk of leaving their community is that finding another church which feels like home is hard. I have to wonder how many of these people found another community to join following this decision? While there is nothing wrong with changing churches because there may be biblically based disputes, but to give up on one’s faith over a politician is troubling. It opens the question how strong is the faith of those in America. Further troubling is the growing number of pastors abusing their authority to advocate for a candidate who does not live by the gospel. There was nothing which indicated the man the advocated for was living by the gospel. Nor were their actions ethical. There are two sides to this issue which really trouble me and the church needs to address this sooner than later.

Listen I know a lot of people who look at the separation of church and state as an enemy to faith, but when taken in the proper context it’s there to protect the church from oppression. It prevents state-sponsored churches. However, far too many people in this nation have no idea what this concept is about. They continue to skew everything it is about. Even worse there are pastors using the pulpit to advocate for politicians. This is 100% unethical. They have the right to advocate for a candidate, but not on the pulpit. Don’t get me wrong here speaking about politics on the pulpit and advocating are two different things. A pastor is well within his rights to speak on political issues, especially if it violates the core of our beliefs. However, speaking about advocating for a candidate is flat out wrong. Unless the other candidate is a major threat to our belief, our way of life, or anything which could alter the faith that’s one thing. However, many of them advocated for the one who was divisive, sexist, misogynistic, racist and living far from the gospel. They let politics interfere with good judgment. I am blessed to have a minister who leads my church with a nonpartisan mentality on the pulpit. Every minister should be politically neutral on the pulpit. While I can not blame these people for leaving their community I have to say my friend this is dangerous. You can not make change by backing down. It’s extraordinarily dangerous to leave your community without a backup plan.

Politics aside for a moment, Americans are particularly vulnerable to letting circumstances drive their faith. I am here to give you a stern warning this is wrong, dead wrong. Circumstances are just that circumstances. While a person who I do not support and many Americans do not support is in charge we have to push on past this. We have to be the change we seek. We have to unite rather than divide. We have to not only make the changes in our communities, but in our churches, schools, homes, and where ever we go. Don’t get me wrong if you are one of the 14% who left and did so because of biblical and theological concerns that’s fine. However, I provide another stern warning if it was by circumstances I am telling you, my friend, the enemy is winning. He is rejoicing right now that you have put a fork in your connection to God. I get it maybe that bridge which connected you to that community has been burned. However, in these time we have to stick together. We have to remain united in community. If you can’t find a church immediately get some friends together and worship. Follow a bible based and respectable digital community. However, times are changing and we need the church to rise. We can not lay down and let the enemy win.

This is the time for the church to be the church. Politics has not place leading theology. If you are in ministry and have concerns about a candidate and I mean legitimate issues please air them out. Russell Moore recently appropriately aired out concerns which were biblically based and he faced criticism. We need more ministers like Dr. Moore to rise up and appropriately use the pulpit to forward the body of Christ. We face divide right now folks and we as the church have to be the church. We have to help the sick, poor, and weary. We have to change the world for Christ. Peace and Blessings Always my brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Make Disciples Not Converts

Have you ever been walking through the park and see a squirrel? Often as you approach this person they are often frightened that they will scurry off into the closest safe spot they see. We don’t mean to frighten this poor little animal, but their instinct knows that someone out there might. Due to our disproportionate size, we become intimidating. It’s not that the squirrel has something against you, it’s just trying to live. Live their life like they have gone about many times before. However, we can become this way to others around us. We as Christians walk around with this larger than life appearance because we know the truth, the power of God, and walk with the creator. We often forget that not long before we made that conversion, we were saved, we were likely the same way. We too were obviously not squirrels, but we are small and weak in spirit. We were empty and did not know about the great power which we now experience. Somewhere along the line someone who walked in the larger manner reached out to you and gained your trust. As a Christian, we are all given a calling to share this truth which we have. However, most of us do this the wrong way. Evangelism is not easy, but it’s a must. Not everyone is going to be taken away and swept off their feet by you walking up to them and saying “HEY YOU, GO TO CHURCH!” First and foremost, this takes away so much from the process. Far too often this person’s spirit will scatter off much like that squirrel in the park. Likewise, it’s best not to call them out by their sin because they will deem you judgmental and a hypocrite. There is a way to get all to that wonderful finish line which we are all marching towards, but it takes time and patience. Patience that could take a lifetime.

In my opinion, many people think evangelism is trying the be Billy Graham in the middle of the streets and trying to preach. The only issue with this is there is only one Billy Graham. There is no shame in being the guy who gets only a handful of people to convert in their life. Evangelism in my view is not about quantity, but quality. As we are all brothers and sisters, the most important thing you can do for this person you want to convert is loved them. Love them as much as you can without breaking the law. If you don’t they will become that squirrel. Love them to your best ability and make them a friend. It’s much easier to build a rapport and evangelize with a true friend than the random stranger sitting across from you at Starbucks. If you think you’re that gifted feel free to give that dice a roll, but often you’re going to fall flat on your face. I don’t stand alone in this belief though. Many people share a similar mentality that you should make friends before you attempt to convert. When you take the time to befriend this person you are already creating the example. In all your friendships, you should be the living example of what Christians should be. Immediately people will begin to see that you’re different but in a good way. Not only this, but you’re giving them a blueprint to model. The great thing about becoming friends with this person is over time they are more likely to breakdown because they trust you. Now let me make this clear before I go too much farther, don’t make friends with someone who you may not get along with because you want to convert them. Back on point here, having a friend you are trying to make a believer is wonderful because you not only will be there if they have questions, they will also be there once they go through. If they continue to refuse all you can do is pray. When it comes to 21st-century evangelism you can’t jam the Bible down someone’s throat and expect that to make them believe. One they will likely choke and two you have lost their trust. Try forcing something on that squirrel and they will likely maul your face. So, we need to stop this whole concept that the most impactful way is to find strangers and convert them.

The big issue with random evangelism is that you have to wonder the quality of the convert you’re bringing in. Are you making a convert on a path towards religiousness or are you making one on the path to discipleship? People often mirror the examples they have if they think Christianity is about getting people to church then they are missing out on about 99% of Christianity. This is a life long journey and a walk with Christ to become more like Christ. Eventually, along the chain of stranger conversion oriented mentality comes the ignorant believer. When we have, the ignorant believer comes the skewing of doctrine, bad theology, and simply bad Christians. When we bring someone to church we must be in it for the long haul. When you chose to evangelize, you’re taking a huge risk because you’re in one manner taking responsibility for one’s spiritual formation.

Again, you’re not Billy Graham my friend you’re not going to get a mass revival following. We should have a sense of reality when we are choosing to evangelize. It’s not enough to show a squirrel where the acorns are, eventually those acorns are going to be gone. What happens when that rush of the acorns is gone. Not only do we have to bring them to the acorns, but show them the best trees, show them show the climb them, and how to be the squirrel they are meant to be. Ok, maybe I should stop with the squirrel reference here. The point of this all is though we have to focus on the quality of the convert we are bringing in. If we evangelize wrong we are not only at risk of losing this person, but we are at risk of leading down a darker path. I tell you all this, but I will be quite honest with you I am terrible at this evangelism process. If numbers are the measure of a quality evangelist then I am terrible I think I might have led to two, three at best who would seek relation with God. You have to stick with these people. The number does not matter the quality does. Keep that in mind. Peace and Blessings always my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Freedom Only When Convenient

THE NEW YOUAfter a few days off folks, I am back. I have been quite busy with seminary and am finding new ways the Holy Spirit is filling me to do great things. The Lord is truly at work in our world, but so is the enemy. One of the things which I have continued to see as a disturbing trend is the censoring of religion. One of the wonderful things about our nation is this concept of convenience based freedoms. For example, it’s very convenient to commend a cop for doing his job when someone has just broken into your house, but when they are pulling you over on the side of the road very few are thanking the system for working. Likewise, we have this gift of not only freedom of speech, but also freedom of religion. While it’s nothing new that atheist and other anti-religious organizations are trying to tear down all things which we believe and hold dear they seem to forget the system which we reside in. Now I am not attacking all atheist here some of them kind hearted people, but that’s the thing about the nation we live in. People should be able to freely express their beliefs whether that is in God or not. We live in a nation where people can worship the “force” and proclaim to be Jedi’s. So as ridiculous as that is many nations do not have this freedom. We live in a nation with such ability to do as we please. However, I find that far too often we are easily offended. Far too often we get consumed with what we want and forget the issue. Separation of church and state is still a prominent debate and yet so few people who are in the debate have the slightest clue what they are talking about.

Maybe its time to Leave Thomas Jefferson Alone

220px-reproduction-of-the-1805-rembrandt-peale-painting-of-thomas-jefferson-new-york-historical-society_1Jefferson seems to be the center of this whole debate because Christians want him on their side and Athiest the same. Well, news flash he was likely neither. Jefferson was definitely not an Athiest he did believe in God. However, Jefferson was not a major fan of organized religion. Nonetheless, Jefferson has been credited to be a believer in Biblical teachings. He was a rationalist and essentially would cherry pick the Bible and take away portions he could not rationalize. While he did criticize organized religion, that didn’t mean he didn’t believe in Christian doctrine. He had a faith battle. He like all of us should, questioned his faith and looked at why he believes what he believes. So let’s clear the air here none of us know what his belief was. You can’t say for certain so stop trying to label him.

He is credited with coming up with the concept but Jefferson is painted at this anti-church, Athiest who is against the church from influencing everything around us. This is far from the truth. For those of you who do not like to skew history to prove an argument Thomas Jefferson, yes, was for separation of church and state, but this was not because he was against the church. Often times this mentality was to protect the church. When this nation was founded they were surrounded sought religious freedom from state-controlled religion.  What this means is that if you were not x, y, or z then you were breaking the law. For example, in early America, if you were Baptist you were breaking the law because you were not Anglican like the rest of the commonwealth. Thomas Jefferson was by no measure the most religious man in the world, but he without a question believed in God. He would be what many call spiritual, but not religious these days. Jefferson believed in the freedom of ideologies to allow us to choose. He didn’t fight for this to block one group from the other, but to allow all ideas a platform to stand on. If people eventually struck it down essentially it would die out.

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.  What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.” –Thomas Jefferson

The quote above is by Jefferson but these are not the words of an Athiest. This is the facts of people who claim to be Christians. This is no different than a lot of other ideologies. His critique of Christians holds some Biblical backing. When I read this quote I can only think of the parallels to the Bible. For example, Matthew 7:5,

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 

People have acted as hypocrites for many years Christian and non-Christian. Every group of people have hypocrites. If you are reading this, friend, you are a hypocrite. All of us are hypocrites. It’s irrational to think otherwise. Not to mention plenty of ministers have said similar things. For example, Father Brennan Manning the author of the Raggamuffin Gospel.

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Thomas Jefferson may not have been a devout Christian, but he was a defender of the faith, and all faiths to be honest. Any quote you read about Jefferson speaking out about faith is because of religious intolerance not because of an underlying unbelief. Take the quote below.

“In 1769, I became a member of the legislature by the choice of the county in which I live, & continued in that until it was closed by the revolution. I made one effort in that body for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected: and indeed, during the regal government, nothing liberal could expect success. Our minds were circumscribed within narrow limits by an habitual belief that it was our duty to be subordinate to the mother country in all matters of government, to direct all our labors in subservience to her interests, and even to observe a bigoted intolerance for all religions but hers.” -Thomas Jefferson

Funny thing is this is a defense of the free practice. As a nation compose of hundred of different sects of Christianity alone why should you not be free to practice as a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Episcopalian, Born Again, or whatever else there is. Especially within in Christian belief why are we not uniting here, we have the same core belief we just go about our business differently. See back before Jefferson was President he ensured our rights to practice freely. He believed that all those denominations should have a chance to spread their views.

I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.” –Thomas Jefferson

So yes, Thomas Jefferson believed in separation of church and state. However, people often take his words out of context. The matter goes two ways, the government should not interfere with free religious practice. Jefferson says that public schools should not favor one ideology of the other not to say one is invalid, but to allow people the ability to cognitively think and choose. People on both sides of this issue are completely misguided.

 Who are we Hurting?

Far too often I feel like this is a matter of who cries the loudest. It’s because you are selfish and want to get what you want. Let’s be honest it has nothing to do with but what you think. This is wrong to the core. As a Christian, we should not become offended when someone says they don’t believe or even attack our belief. Your faith should be much strong than some misguided soul’s words. However, to the atheist out there who is it really hurting that there is a cross on a building or a Bible verse somewhere. Is it really hurting you? Is it going to kill you?  This whole debate is really idiotic. The whole thing is you can’t say this name or the next is dumb. Historically speaking to the non-believers out there, there is only one rational debate you can have. Jesus Christ was a real person and plenty of evidence supports that the only thing you can deny is His divinity. Which is foolish because what you have to lose vs. what you can gain is really unbalanced. I’m not going to make this a debate of faith right now. However, we have to stop censoring facts because they are facts which other people disagree with. Facts should be facts bottom line.

Wrapping Up

This whole issue is often blown out of proportions. For those of you who are Christians, you should know that our God is greater than any opposition any person can every muster up. The whole matter of separation of church and state is often blow out of proportions because people want to tailor facts to fit their reality. Thomas Jefferson is one of the most skewed figures in American history. He lies at the center of this debate, but we don’t know the true faith of Jefferson. However, his quotes do live on. I can say for certain there is not a single Jefferson quote which shows he hated Christians or was an atheist. While he was critical of some aspects of organized religion he was an advocate for the free practice of faith. Many times the separation of church and state is to protect the church. We need to stop being so easily offended by what people say. Let Hugh Freeze post Bible verses on his Twitter, and let’s be grateful for the freedoms we do have. Peace and Blessings to you Always 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.