Category Archives: Spiritual Food

Practical Application of God’s Word; taking what you read and making it visible in your everyday life.

It’s Time to Lose Your Mind

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God

We’ve been living thru a pandemic for the past 5 months now.  For most of that time, if you’re like me and my family, you’ve spent it in quarantine.  A quarantine as many now know, is a state, period, or place of isolation in which people that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed.  This strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease; however, it has produced tremendous challenges for everyone. 

Some people have used the time to thrive, to be creative and find new things to do themselves or with family.  Many people have attempted to do just that, but after 5 months (some after one month) have just about gone crazy.  They feel like the famous DMX song “I’m About to Lose My Mind; Up in Here.”  I contend that we need to all be of that mindset.  But before we allow the pandemic and other chaos around us right now cause us to feel like we are losing our minds; why not go all in?  We need to lose our natural minds and take on the Mind of Christ.  After all; “1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 

In order to have the mind of Christ, we need our minds renewed, at least according to Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church.  If not renewed, our minds will conform to the mindset of the world; or a mixture of many differing worldly mindsets.  And when left to exercise our own thoughts, Paul said “Romans 1:21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened,” we go dark.  Let’s look at the three steps to having the mind of Christ, laid out in Romans 12.

  1. Stop, You’re Going the Wrong Way: And do not be conformed to this world.  Paul beseeches (an urgent and fervent request) the reader in the first verse to take heed of what he had to say.  What was so important?  Stop, You’re Going the Wrong Way!!!  The word he uses is conform, which means to comply with rules, standards, or laws; goes further to state behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards.  Most people don’t know this, but we did not always have cell phones.  There was once a time when traveling in a car, you had to actually look at a map, prior to leaving or having a passenger in the car follow along with a map to ensure the driver was actually moving in the right direction.  We’ve become so accustom to our readily accessible phone GPS that tells is moment by moment directions, which quickly inform us if we go off the corresponding track to our destination.  Previously, we could plan and plan but if the navigator (passenger in charge of the map) took his eye of the map for a few moments too long; the drive might loudly hear “Stop, You’re Going the Wrong Way!!!”  Paul was acting as the Navigator for Christians both then and now.  He is yelling Stop; because many followers of Christ were complying to the wrong rules, they were behaving as was accepted by everyone else, but they were going in wrong direction, away from Christ.  Though they thought they were doing the write thing or at least the thing that would get the most approval from everyone around them.  Jesus did not conform, as a matter of fact He and His Disciples were easy to target, because the did not do what everyone else was doing.  It is time to turn around; be different stop following the trends.  Stand Out   
  2. Re-Newbut be transformed by the renewing of your mind:  The way to Stand Out; to turn and go in the right direction, is to transform.  The driver would have to pull over and re address the map to figure out what they now needed to do in order to get back on the correct path.  This would require a new route.  That is what renewal is; Webster’s defines renew as “to resume (an activity) after an interruption.”  Conforming to the ways of the world, is the interruption, to having a mind of Christ.  When we find our walk interrupted, we must make a transformation, by the renewing of your mind: I like to take the simple meaning out of a word and to renew, or Re-New, means to continually re-new or making new.  Every day, reading God’s Word, spending time with Jesus and walking in obedience to God’s direction.  This must happen continually, because the natural mind needs help to submit to the mind of Christ in us a believer.  However, there is an outstanding benefit to renewing our minds. 
  3. Live in the GAP: that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God: When we renew our minds and take on the Mind of Christ, we are able to live in the GAP.  The Good, Acceptable and Perfect Will of God.  What does that look like?  It will often result in living in a peace that passes all understanding (Phil 4:7); when chaos is all around and you should go crazy, but God gives you a calm that makes no sense to the people around you.  It can also look like God’s grace given at the perfect time; providing for a need without any notice (Phil 4:19).  Or maybe it is just God speaking a Word that may not change your situation immediately, but it changes the way you view the situation (Luke 5:5).  As we renew our minds, our lives become transformed and we live, see and hear God in a new way.  We dwell in the perfect will of God, and that is the BEST place to be.

When the Truth Hurts

John 8:32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Here we have one of the more famous scriptures in the Bible; yet today I’m seeing it so much differently, almost as if I’d never heard it before. I’m used to seeing this as evangelistic verse that explains the process of a non believer coming to know the truth of Christ for the first time. Or when a true believer learns a new understanding of God’s promise to us. Then that understanding becomes a transformational point in their life.

However, today what I see is how knowing the truth can set you free; and yet that very freedom can reveal hurt and pain you’ve inflicted on others. So the first Truth that is hopefully learned today is that regardless of where we are in our walk, we can still come to know The Truth.

Secondly, we need to keep (continuously; sustained) believing in and abiding in Jesus. The text tells us that Jesus was talking to the Jews, but not just any Jews but only the ones that were believers. Does this mean that God does not talk to non-believers, of course not He speaks to everyone. But He certainly chooses to have a more regular dialogue with those of us who believe (we call it prayer). Jesus explained that those who dwell on God or keep their mind’s on the Word (meditate); are disciples and know The Truth.

Lastly, Jesus tells us that once the Truth is known, it will make us Free. In my case recently the Truth was made known and what it revealed was my failure as a husband. Now while I knew I was not the perfect husband, I never realized the level of hurt and pain I’d been causing my wife for years, because I failed to “Put Her First; Above Myself,” like Christ Loved the Church (Eph 5:25).

You know how the buzz words for so many people these days is live your truth. The problem with that is, if everyone has a different truth then we’ve got billions of truths to figure out. However, only by knowing The Truth, can we be set Free. In my mind, I was not great but I was doing OK; in reality I was causing significant hurt/pain and resentment.

Now I titled this “When the Truth Hurts,” because The Truth; Jesus Christ (John 14:6), made me free by by revealing the Truth to me. Because He set me free I now need to deal with the Hurt I caused. We were recently, attending a virtual marriage conference, and a Kevin Plank quote was used; “trust is built in drops and lost in buckets.” I will have to be like Nehemiah and begin rebuilding our trust. So when the truth hurts, it’s time to rebuild and since it takes a heck of a lot of drops to fill the knocked over buckets. There’s a Ton of Work to Do; and I cannot do it myself…..But God is Able; actually More Than Able (Eph 3:20)!!

A Son

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given

Today I have the pleasure of celebrating the 15th year I’ve had with my youngest Son. He was made in the image of God, but looks a lot like my Father in Law. He’s outgoing like me but deep feeling and motivated like my wife. For the last 15 years he has made me laugh, smile, cry and even throw things. Yet, just the mention of his name sparks joy in my heart. I love being a father because it gives me a chance to attempt to show him a portion of the Love that God always shows me. This day is still sweetly bitter because as I celebrate his birth, it is a year closer to the day he leaves to begin his own trek towards Fatherhood. On August 2nd, 2005 unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given.

Happy Birthday Son!!

God Doesn’t Remember; So We Can Be Restored

Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.

I was recently watching a TV Show where the main character found herself locked in the back seat of a car, or at least she thought she was locked in.  The problem was not that she could not get out of the car, but that the experience triggered in her a memory of a time in her past when she nearly drowned in a vehicle, it was the worst moment of her life.  It was amazing that everything was fine then suddenly, in one moment, her entire perspective of life changed.  It was an obvious case of PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder); a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it.  The bottom line is that regardless of how bad or great life is, a trigger can bring back a memory which completely paralyzes you.  The thing is we do this quite often, as Christians, we often remember our worst days, our worst actions or our worst sin.  Those memories alone can’t harm us, but what the enemy will do is play those memories against our personal insecurities.  Which is why Hebrews reminds us that God knows all our “sins and their lawless deeds” and loves us anyway.  He goes further than that though, He not only forgives us of our sin and shows us mercy, He also refuses to remember them.  Let’s dig into that……

  1. God Wills: For I will.
    Two times in this verse, God declares that “I will.” This is powerful because so often we wonder if God is willing to step into our lives; or willing to change our situation. Here God is letting us know that He is willing to show us mercy, He is willing to go beyond our poor choices and extend Grace. God knows everything about us, but He is still willing to enter our circumstances, our issues, our problems. Most times the people who want to get all up in our business, cannot do anything about what you’re going through. Yet, the one who can change everything is Willing to be on your side, He is willing to take action for your benefit. Before you give up the fight, know that God is willing to go to battle for you; He’s willing to disregard the things He knows about you or about what you’ve done in order to take up your cause.  God is willing, now are you willing to believe Him? 
  2. God Covers: I will remember no more.
    The writer of Hebrews wants to let Israel know that the covenant that they’ve been taught about and have memorized since childhood has changed. The church must also know that God has changed His process/procedure of redemption after Jesus’ loving sacrifice. Our policy has changed. Have you noticed that every time your health care or insurance policy changes anything? The company is required to tell you when and if anything, to do with your coverage changes. God is using the New Testament to show believers the changes in our coverages. What is it that this new policy covers? What are the stipulations that cause us to lose our coverage? Sometimes our policy only covers us up to a certain amount or if there are preexisting conditions. You need to know today is that because of Jesus’ sacrifice we are now covered; our coverage actually increased. We are no longer penalized for our past; the conditions of our lives before we got saved.  God’s love covers our sin “1 Peter 4: 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins;” “Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.”  God’s Sprit Care Policy covers everything we’ve done, will you file your claim?
  3. God Restores: I will be merciful to their unrighteousness.
    Webster’s defines restoration as “the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.”  They even use the example of restoring power to a king or politician who had it taken away. In that same way, man was made in the image of God, given Dominion and Authority over all the earth; yet when Adam sinned that was take away. Throughout the old covenant law, in an effort to atone for the sin every man carried, a series of sacrifices and ceremonies were executed. Sacrifices of bulls, goats, lamb and birds would temporarily make all of the sin, poor choices and actions go away. The animals would exchange places with us, they would become sinful man. Now God says, “I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,” why is He saying that? Because Jesus would make the ultimate exchange; becoming all sin for every man; replacing Adam and his failure with the Perfect Love of God represented in Jesus Christ.  Jesus restored us to God!  It was Jesus who replaced Adam and it was His sacrifice on the Cross that allows us to become the Righteous of God, “2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  Man’s power and authority was restored, when Jesus replaced Adam.  His original sin, which caused each one of us to be born into sin, now has been replaced with Christ’s perfect love.  Just as Jesus restored the body of leapers when He healed them; Luke 6:10 And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.  Jesus has restored us by His Grace via forgiveness of sin, because “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”  He has forgiven us of our past, then intentionally forgot everything He forgave so that it will never be able to show itself again to derail our walk.  We have been restored to be the image of God, with Dominion and Authority.  Will you receive it.   

We can walk boldly in our relationship with God, because the things that trigger our past can no longer paralyze us.  For we now know that God Wills to extend His Grace on our behalf; God Covers all sin and the acts that we’ve ever done; finally, God Restores us from sinfulness to God’s Righteousness.  Now when the enemy brings up our past to flare up our PTSD, we can resist (James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you) because Jesus replaced us on thru the Cross.

Loving You!!

John 15:9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

In 1974 Minnie Riperton, pinned one of the greatest love songs known to man.  The lyrics start so simple and to the point, “Lovin’ you is easy cause you’re beautiful.”  I believe that she just may have taken those lyrics from Solomon; because in the 4th chapter of Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs), God speaks to us these words: “vs 7 You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”  Regardless of the origin of those words the power remains clear; Loving You is easy because You are beautiful.  My question for us today is two-fold:  What if loving me is not easy?  What if I’m not Beautiful?  Then can I not be loved? So Let’s Dive In…. 

I’m on my computer a great deal of the day and while working at home during this quarantine it becomes most of the day.  I’m not sure if you’re like me, every time I open a new browser on Microsoft Edge, it sends me to a news page that rifles thru the day’s top stories.  This is meant to be informative but is often more distracting than anything.  It allows me to stay up on current events but can also take you down in the weeds of useless data.  Like a couple of days ago when on the news feed a story popped up about a very well-known actress, acknowledging that she’s had an affair while her and her enormously famous husband were separated while trying to work on their marriage.  My inquiring mind wanted to know what happened and, in the video, attached to the article the actress said something that resonated and caused me to question Minnie Riperton’s 1974 declaration.  She said that she “could not find happiness outside of herself.”  Which she later stated that she wanted to feel good and thought it could get it from that relationship. 

This paralleled with a recent conversation with my wife; where she reminded me about how in rejecting your help, you reject yourself.  Which is why I have conjectured that John, Minnie and Jada were on to something, Love is easy when you abide in the Lord’s Love and first learn to love yourself.  There are three quick things I believe that we must all understand if we are going to be able to love ourselves and others the way Jesus shared in John chapter 15.  We must:

  1. RESEARCH: Just How Much God Loves Jesus (As the Father loved Me).  Research is the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.  Therefore, we’d need develop a strategy on how we will determine God’s love for His Son.  If we walk thru each book of the bible, we can see powerful ways in which God demonstrates His love for Jesus.  We can see in Genesis thru the story of Abraham and his son Isaac, or Jacob and his Son’s Joseph & Benjamin witnessing their deep and passionate love for their sons.  Or we could go to Exodus and see how God navigated the life of Moses (a type or symbol of Christ’s Leadership of the Church) to spare his life under tremendous attacks including rescuing him and all of the Israel from imminent death.  Or how Leviticus meticulously detailed the designs and construction of the tabernacle, which provided a conduit for God to have a meeting place for the people He created to praise Him.  That location was the physical representation of the position Jesus would one day to bring God to His people.  This could go on and on; book by book; nearly chapter by chapter; of the Great Love God demonstrates toward Jesus (Love, Leadership & Location).  Do your research, and you will know for sure that God has a great Love for Jesus.   
  2. RECEIVE: The Love Christ Has Us (I also have loved you).  Every Christmas many of us ensure that we exchange gifts with our loved ones, friends and colleagues.  During the gift exchange you give a present to someone and you hope that they appreciate it.  You see we are so excited about the gift we never for once think about whether or not the person is going to receive that gift.  Of course, they are going to receive this gift, I gave it to them.  Funny enough Jesus Loves us the same what God Loves Him.  However, just because Jesus loves us, doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will receive it.   I know that so many times, I look at how much Jesus loves me, and I just don’t feel worthy of His love.  How can someone so perfect, love someone so imperfect.  The fact is, if I give my wife a gift, regardless of how wonderful it is, if she does not receive it, she could never enjoy it, be blessed by it, or receive the benefits from it.  Likewise, if we do not receive Jesus’ love; we cannot be filled (Eph 3); have our fear cast out (1 John 4); sins covered (1 Peter 4); nor would we know how to love anyone else (John 13).  Unless we receive Jesus “gift” of Love we cannot access any of the benefits.  It is the benefits of Love that become our key to loving other people.    
  3. REMAIN: In the Love of God (abide in My love).  Now once we’ve done our research and received the precious love God has for us, it is imperative that we Remain in that Love.  I truly believe that definitions almost always hammer home the understanding of a word or concept.  The word remain is defined as “continuing to possess a particular quality or fulfill a particular role.”  We need to possess (own, take, have) the Love of Jesus and the benefits (that come with that love) in order to have the ability to love ourselves.  If we cannot love ourselves, we lack the tools to properly love others.  In same video reference earlier, Jada talks about how she did not have the capacity to lover her husband until she dealt with herself. 
    One of the areas I find difficult is when stress robs me of my joy and I’m feeling low; then I bring my misery with me wherever I go.  If I don’t receive Jesus’s Love and get filled with His fullness (Eph 3) I will make all around me just as miserable.  Or when I fall short by sinning, rather than spiraling downward because I failed, I must be reminded of His love, which has already COVERED all of my sin (1 John 4).  Or when I’m afraid things are not going to work out; I have to received Jesus’ “Perfect Love.”  The only way I can love someone else is to Love Me like, Jesus loves me, which is how God loves HIM. 

The truth is simple when I do the research to see how beautiful God’s love is for Jesus, I am then able to receive that same love.  Once I receive love, I have the benefits that make it possible for me to say “Lovin’ Me is easy cause His Love is beautiful.  La la la la la la la… do do do do do.”  Ms. Minnie would be very proud to know that her song remains universally loved and can also serve as a love learning tool for understanding God’s Perfect Love for Me.

It’s Time to Teach

Mark 6:34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things

There is a phrase in this text that has always intrigued me, it says that Jesus “was moved with compassion for them.”  He was moved with compassion, because he saw a group of people that needed something; they need to be reached.  What is even more intriguing to me is all that lead up to His moment of compassion.  Jesus had been teaching in multiple synagogues, the Jews were being schooled on the repentance of sin and belief in God.  Yet while Jesus was powerfully teaching all over, the very people from his hometown rejected His gift because they knew Him as a child.  Also, His cousin, John the Baptist was being beheaded by King Herod; an unjust and unlawful murder of an innocent man.  Jesus was preaching, healing and serving till exhaustion; he was being rejected by many including those closest to Him; and His family and closest connections were being unfairly prosecuted.  This would discourage most people; but not Jesus. 

Can I be honest with you; with the world on stay at home orders; regular people dying across the nation at record numbers by an invisible disease lingering around; a socially corrupt system exposing it’s inherent racism and generational abuse for many people who look like me; jobs being loss and many businesses feeling the impacts; while powerful people in charge of fixing the problems are worried more about elections than the people they should be serving; or even regular everyday people becoming more concerned about being pampered than keeping vulnerable people safe; during this time my heart has become harden towards many people. 

Even while much of this chaos going on in the world today has not negatively impacted me significantly; we’ve been extremely favored during this time, yet I’m lacking compassion for some people and need to know how to change that.  How is it that Jesus can find compassion, when personally being exhausted, rejected and prosecuted?  Here He is found having compassion on this group of people; merely because “they were like sheep not having a shepherd.”  Well it is because He saw the people and not his problems.  I truly believe if more of us could take this perspective in our own lives; we’d be much better people.  Jesus saw that the need of this large group of people (we would find out was more than 15,000 people; 5000 men not including women and children); required His immediate attention.  That need drowned out any of His personal issues at the time.  He saw that these people needed guidance, knowledge and sustenance.  Therefore, Jesus made a decision that he would do three things:  Teach, Organize and Feed the people.

  1. He Taught the People: “So He began to teach them many things.”  I was recently talking to one of my best friends about what it takes to teach something effectively.  He’s a professional that has become a subject matter expert in the area of training and shared that there are three steps which can be taken to ensure that the material is effectively taught. 
    People must be taught something new (something they don’t already know) or something familiar in a new way (a new perspective of an old topic); they must be give a choice in what they are being taught (there has to be a point of choice); and finally it must benefit them or have a good result.  Jesus obviously is the one who came up with this method, prior to it being taught at our major universities.  This was after all His M.O.  Jesus came onto the scene teaching repentance in a way that the Chief Priest and Synagogue Teachers had not be accustomed to hearing.  He used parables to help the people relate to and understand the truths of His teaching.  Jesus offered each person a choice, to believe and follow Him, the Son of God or remain in your sins and out of covenant with God.  The choice Jesus gave produced an abundant life.  A life of joy and eternal love, that was not all roses, but it provided a future and hope for those who chose it.  Jesus was indeed the perfect teacher, who’s compassion moved Him to ensure these lost people not only had the Truth but the opportunity to have a Father.  Jesus in His compassion for the people taught them “many things.”
  2. He Organized the People: “Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties.”  A few of Jesus’ strengths was bringing people together from all over and providing order to any situation.  After teaching many things to this multitude of people, who had come from all over to see Jesus.  There was no structure or pattern taken to get to Him.  The people got in where they fit in.  Now, the teaching was done, and it was the compassion of Jesus to bring some structure to the chaos that this moment had left.  Between the COVID pandemic, the numerous amazing demonstrations across the world for social change and the push to get people back to work; the word chaos does not really do justice to the confusion that is hitting America during this time. 
    However just as God gave wisdom to the disciples to “make them all sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties,” He has also provided direction to many significant leaders to provide organization that has helped the people needing service today.  Churches and humanitarian groups across the world have banned together in money and manpower to get much needed resources (food, toiletries, testing, mask, gloves, money, whatever was need) to the people most impacted by COVID 19.  As people stepped up wanting to peacefully protest the police killings and overall social injustice, organizations like Black Lives Matter, Empact, Campaign Zero, Color of Change and many others jumped into action and organized march locations, times and protocols from all over country.  Even our Government attempted to organize locations for small business owners to apply for essential loans and funding to keep their business afloat during an unprecedented time for the economy.   Jesus in His compassion for the people, helped to organize them “in ranks,” so that they could effectively receive the assistance they needed.
  3. He Feed the People: “And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all.”  While the disciples realized the overwhelming task of trying to provide help to so many people; they saw the only answer as sending them away.  Not Jesus, His compassion for people is such that He must step in.  Especially when it means doing something miraculous.  In this text, Jesus knew how He would help but just as He helped to get people organized, He desired to use other people to feed this multitude.  One young boy had five loaves and the two fish, Jesus used that to feed over 15,000; when He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves.  Jesus will always feed us, whether it was nutritional, spiritual or emotional; And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  Today, God is using the compassionate hearts of many to serve and feed millions of people without money to get something to eat; front line workers who don’t have the time to get something to eat and many people that because of death or loss now find themselves unable to even have the desire to eat.  This text demonstrates our Lord’s heart for us in that He has great compassion for us; because He knows that we all help navigating through our lives.  And in a transformative time, like the one we all find ourselves living in today.  Jesus shows us how to receive teaching, while also being able to teach others, help them organize so that they can receive the help that they need. 

Happy Father’s Day Abba

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

I want to wish you a great Fathers Day!!  You are a Good Good Father; and I honor you today.  Thank you for adopting me thru your Spirit.  I give you my heart and thank you for receiving both it and me….despite me.

I love you,

On One Accord

Genesis 11:4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.

We are in a time of chaos and division across this country.  There is a constant political battle between Democrats and Republicans.  Most people are finally fed up with the Policing taking place in the Black Community; yet the Police Union and many that support the Police tactics are in stark contrast.  The country cannot decide whether to wear a mask to protect each other from the coronavirus.  All of that is just what has been reaching critical mass in the last few weeks. All of these issues are centuries old, but unresolved.  The fact is, a house divided will always fall; Jesus told his disciples, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”  This is exactly what America is witnessing on a daily basis and just as Jesus told them today, we are in need of His wisdom successfully come out of this.

Last week I talked about how the church has been divided by racial tension for centuries and why we should be one, because we all are the same.  This week we take a look back at just how powerful the church COULD (should) be if it had one language and one speech.  Wow, how powerful would the church be if we could be all be on one accord.  Let’s see what Genesis has to tell us about this:

  1. God Sees When We’re ONE: “And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language” God clearly saw that the people were one and I cannot help but remember scripture on this topic.  Jesus ask His Father to make us ONE just as God and Jesus are ONE (John 17:21).  God is constantly looking for those who are on ONE accord with Jesus (2 Chronicles 16:9).  God is patient; and He’s waiting on us, the church to manifest Jesus’ prayer for us to be one.
    The problem is, like in America now we find it difficult to be one mostly because of Pride and Ego.  Even the people who were on the same page, were more worried about making a name for themselves than they were about seeing God. “Come, let us build ourselves a city, 1and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”  This is the same problem that we see with politicians, cops, protesters, mask wearers and those who don’t, even as noble as their perspectives might be.  Sometime their “Name” or ideas become more important than doing the right thing.  We need to be more like what Paul taught in Philippians 2:1 when he said “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
  2. When We’re ONE We Can’t Be Stopped: “this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” Nothing can be withheld; nor can any weapon formed against us prosper (Isaiah 54:17).  Like these people, when the disciples got together on one accord, they’ve experienced the greatest power known to man (Acts 2:1-4).  Because the people were on one accord and could do whatever they set their minds to do, and they began seeking a name for themselves, God needed to mix things up.  “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  The Lord came down from Heaven because the people would have succeeded in building a city and a tower all the way to heaven; because even though man makes plans, the Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9).  The bond of man is strong but when man is in lockstep with God, it’s a relationship that cannot be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  We need to realize that if we ever come together as a church, ethnicity, or human race, we would be unstoppable.  I dream of the day when we will be one with Christ, maybe just maybe it can be before we’re with him in paradise.  What steps will you take to see that manifest???

We Need to Breathe

Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Man became a living being when God gave him breath.  Our country has been seeing utter chaos over the past few months because of an all-out attack on man’s ability to breath.  As a close family friend pointed out recently, COVID 19 which is a disease that attacks the respiratory system; where the lungs can become inflamed, making it tough for you to breathe.  While nearly two weeks ago a Police officer in Minnesota decided to take away the breath of George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for over 9 mins.  Isn’t it interesting that the very thing that God gave man to live, these two enemies have successfully attacked and taken breath away, causing death.  Well it shouldn’t be, because Jesus told us that “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10).”

To breathe, by definition is to take air into the lungs and then expel it.  So, taking in air; then blowing it out.  This is exactly what Jesus told us to do when He told the disciples “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt 4:19);” to take air in; spiritually breathing in what Jesus taught us about living as a Christian.  Then He said “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations;” to blow it out; give to others what it is we learned from Christ.  This is the process of discipleship, that Jesus created with the original 12 and what the church was supposed to come.  I intentionally said supposed to, because I believe that much of the chaos, we are living thru now is exposing that the church is not where Jesus desired for us to be in this discipleship process.

The systematic racism that we are seeing uncovered around the impact of COVID 19, incidents of blatant racism leading up to the murder of George Floyd; has finally been seen for what it is and we cannot remain silent.  Although we are seeing a series of peaceful protest and some ugly violent scenes of rioting and looting; the ugliest scenes may have come from within the kingdom of God, the Church.  Sunday mornings prior to the pandemic season was the most segregated time all over the world.  Due to this separation of people and ethnicity; the people of God are living completely different lives from one another.

The evangelical church is often being manipulated into become more and more political all the time, and many people believe that the Evangelical Church is now its own political party.  The problem with all of this happening is that the church is not at all UNIFIED.  When the Church is not UNIFIED it cannot accomplish all that God has desired for it (US) to do.  Matt 12:25 Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.  Our nation is being brought to desolation, because the kingdom is divided against itself.  We must find a way to hear each other; Proverbs 1:5 tells us A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.  But we also have to listen to Jesus; in Genesis God was talking to himself (God, Jesus & Holy Spirit) when He said “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”  God made the church and we need to remember how He made us:

  1. We’re All from The Same Dirt: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground. Dirt is dirt and since we are all of dirt, none of us deserve to be followers of Christ.  God formed us from the dirt because we were a mess and we were all far from perfect.  But we must go back and realize that all of that dirt was the very same.  We should all learn to treat each other the same because God did not form us from different materials but from the dust of the ground.  God did not discriminate during formation nor does He want the Church to do so now.
  2. We Breathe the Same Air: breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. God breathed His Spirit into all of us, not just some of us.  We all have been given the breath of life, so that He would be able to live, move and love His children freely all around the world.  We are all fueled by the same Spirit; “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit (1 Cor 12:4).”  If we are all from the same dirt and breath the same air why are we living such different lives.
  3. We Once Were Dead but Now We’re Alive: and man became a living being. It was not until God breathed into man, that he came alive.  Which means that prior to His breath, the man God formed was not alive, or dead.  Until we met Jesus and accepted His love for us, we were dead in our sins.  That was the same position for all of us.  Not one person currently a believer of Jesus in the Church was formed by God alive.  We each have the same experience after meeting God for ourselves, we had to believe in Jesus.  While the way we were saved was not the same, the process of salvation was.  We once were lost, then Jesus found us.  So, it is clear that everything about our Christian lives is the same, we all in the Church have more in common that we think.  Let’s work with what we know then develop by listening and learning from each other, all those things that we don’t know.  We’re all living now, let us live in Christ together

To the church; since Jesus died and was raised from the dead; we are all in the same gang.  I used the word gang on purpose; because the word gang is defined as “an organized group of criminals.”  Jesus was persecuted because He and His disciples were deemed by the High Priest and Romans to be criminals.  We aligned with that criminal, because He loved us better than any person ever could.  We’re in this together but we must learn how to listen to each other, appreciate our different perspectives and honor our courage to love those who are nothing like ourselves.  Will You Try Today?  Don’t worry Jesus is ready to help us.

A Victim’s Mentality

John 5:7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 

What is a Victim’s Mentality?  It is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize or consider themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave as if this were the case in the face of contrary evidence of such circumstances.  Here we have a familiar bible story that shows Jesus healing a man in the book of John.  I truly believe that Jesus healed this man then so that He can continue to heal the mentality of many men and women today.

Now it is interesting that of all of the weeks that I would be tackling this topic it would be a week where three young business owners had the police called on them for working out in the gym they have membership; a bird watcher who had the police called on him for asking a lady to put a leash on her dog in a city park; and George Floyd who was killed in broad daylight by 4 cops (3 of which kneeled on his body to pin him down, even though he did not fight back; and 1 cop put his knee on Floyd’s neck until the man died).  In each case the victim was black, and it continues to highlight the extraordinary list of injustices and unfair treatment that so many people, specifically black people, have experienced.  Why is this interesting, especially with regard to this verse?

The man who was highlighted in this verse with Jesus was an invalid; a person made weak or disabled by illness or injury.  This man had been an invalid for some time, One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years (John 5:5).  38 years of his life had been spent with a disability; an inability to live a normal life.  In this case the inability to walk into the pool, where numerous people would go to get healed.  There are groups of people that have been made weak or disabled by systematic oppression within legal government processes and procedures.  Injustices like this produces a group of people that become victims to the systems.  However, some of these victims live life with an invalid or victim mentality because of wrongdoing by others or have otherwise suffered misfortune through no fault of their own.  Many are left feeling helpless and even unable to overcome the above-mentioned obstacles; yet it does not have to be that way.  Jesus stepped in to change the mentality of the invalid and I believe the mentality of many people today, who feel that they have become nothing more than victims.

  1. We Have Help: the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. The disabled man lived life feeling that he had no one to help him.  He needed somebody to fight for him but there was no one.  This man felt that his uphill battle was being fought alone, and like many people, when the hill you must climb seems improbable, the easiest was to attack it is NOT to.  This disabled man felt like so many underrepresented people feel today; like their fair shot in life is an unscalable mountain.  Unfortunately, the people who feel like this invalid did, think they only have two options to quit or fight.  The problem most run into is that the first option is the easiest and the second one, if not executed effectively can be extremely dangerous.  Many people across this country right now are protesting another senseless police killing of an unarmed black man.  What began as an effective fight, protesting the actions of 4, has turned into the dangerous rioting.  Which is what happens when the anger and frustration of injustice boils over.  Yet in this text, the disabled man rather than fighting, chose to quit, as he laid daily at this Bethesda pool.  It was believed to be a healing pool, where a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed in order to be healed.For 38 years he was helpless but on this sabbath day, his help would arrive.  Jesus came to Jerusalem and was given information about this man and was moved.  Jesus then raised a question to the disabled man that would forever change his life.  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”  Jesus was the help that the invalid needed and Jesus is also the help we need.  Whenever we feel helpless; our help can be found if we look up (Psalm 121:1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord).  The invalid was lying near the pool and when he LOOKED UP, there he saw Jesus, the help he longed for.  Jesus asked him, a question that every victim must answer if they want to truly break free (Do you want to get well?).  Are you a victim?  Do you want to get well?   Jesus is here to help.
  2. We Have Healing: While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me. It was believed that if the water of the pool was stirred (agitate, disturb or disrupt), then physical healing would take place.  So much so that many people needing healing would basically camp out around that pool waiting for it to be agitated.  The disabled man would soon find out that his healing would require a disruption to life as he’s known it.  Like many, this invalid placed his hope, faith and future in this healing pool or in the “things” of this world, rather than placing our trust and hope in Jesus.  Jesus showed up for this man, without him asking or seeking Jesus.  The text says that Jesus sought out the disabled man, Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time.  Can I tell you that Jesus sees you, your situation and your future; He knows your condition and not only does He know it…but He knew it…over 2000 years ago when He took numerous lashes from the Cat-O-Nine Tails which ripped His skin apart.  He knew you and yet still “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53).  Because Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, we are made completely healthy and whole.  Jesus is our healing, just as He was the disabled man’s healing; because He took upon Himself all our weaknesses, frailties and diseases.  Whatever it is we need, Jesus’ strips confirm for us that we have Healing.

We Have a Hero: 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  Like any great movie, the rise and success of the Hero is instrumental to the storyline.  In the best stories, the Hero of the story is a surprise to all watching.  The story of the healing at the Bethesda pool is no different; the Hero of this story is a surprise.  The Hero in your story will also be a surprise.  Jesus came to one of the Jewish festivals, as he normally did.  He saw this man and had compassion on him, asked the man what he wanted and then declared to this disabled man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  Jesus has said this same thing to me before, Get up!  Just like this man, I was not in the position that Jesus desired for me (Jeremiah 29:11…I know the thoughts that I think toward you…).  Jesus does not want us disabled, despondent or disappointed; His desire is for us to live His abundant life.  Jesus told the man to Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.  Here is where the Hero of the story stepped in.  I know what you’re saying, how dare you say anyone, but Jesus is the Hero.  And of course, Jesus is greater than any Superhero we’ve seen in any movie.  But I beseech you, ask Jesus yourself “who is the Hero of this story.”  The invalid with the victim mentality, who believed nobody would ever help him, stepped into the Hero role.  He heard Jesus; then acted.  Jesus did not touch his body; grab his hand and pick him up; spit in the dirt and rub it on his eyes or anything like that.  Jesus simply spoke.  Then the dysfunctional man got up from his disability; the bible says At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  Jesus spoke healing but the man had to have the Faith to believe and have the Courage to act on that belief.  Jesus’ stripes healed us over 2000 years ago and we’ve been told of our healing for a long time, but like this invalid, we have to Believe God, then with Courage act on His Word!  When we do this; we become the Hero or our story just as Jesus planned.