Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How Soon We Forget

Judges 9:17
And to think that my father fought for you, risked his life to rescue you from the hand of (the enemy).

It’s amazing how soon people forget the sacrifices of good leaders. The same people who cry out “Hosanna (Lord save me)” will be the same ones to yell “crucify him” tomorrow. Humans are guilty of participating in the wasteful consumption of what I would call “disposable leadership.” Once a leader no longer serves the selfish interest of the people even though they have a proven track record they are quick to move to the next one.

As a leader you must never serve in the expectation of continued appreciation or even with the thought of accrued interest in the area of appreciation because human nature has a vacuum that continues to take but doesn’t give back as much as was given. When you lead you must make sure you are leading out of a clear commitment to a higher calling because only what you do for Christ will last.

Gideon or Jerub-Baal was a reluctant farmer turned warrior that led 300 men against Thousands of Amalekites and defeated them with the help of God. He risked his life because he believed God and loved his people. After he died one of his sons, (in the ministry) a son of a slave woman rose up to talk with the people of Midian (the congregation) and convinced them to make him their leader even though he was not the legitimate heir and to murder the legitimate heirs to Gideon’s leadership. They murdered 70 minus one of Gideon’s sons. Jotham the youngest escaped. He went to the top of a mountain and spoke to the people of Midian, “Is this how you repay my Father who risked his life for you?”

As a member of a congregation, team, business, or citizen of the United States always remember to honor the sacrifice of your leaders by:

1. Praying for those over you. Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

2. Be careful of illegitimate children. Abimelech was the son of Gideon but he was not an heir. He was the son of a slave woman you have to distinguish between son’s and vain-glorious bastards. Sons are there in service to their father, bastards are just there to get their fathers juice. Sons earn their inheritance, bastards have to manipulate to get what they want. Sonship doesn’t have to do with how you were born, single parent vs. married, it has to do with how you act.

3. Don’t kill his children. Abimelech convinced the people to kill the 70 sons of Gideon. Often times the children are symbolic of the initiatives that the leader birthed. Recently we have witnessed political abortions because people despised the leader. Anything the President proposes seems to be under attack because they don’t respect the leader.

4. Don’t choose a Bush over an Olive tree. Jotham used the allegory of the people choosing a thorn bush vs. an olive tree as their leader. The Olive tree produces Olives from whence oil comes from. The people had to lower their standards to get under a bush but refuse to come under a leader with Oil. We still do.

5. Don’t be fickled. How can you be with a leader one day but change your mind the next especially if their fundamental character has not changed? “Group Think” is dangerous. The people thought it would be good to kill 70 anointed sons and choose 1 bastard. Choose you this day whom you will serve, will it be God or mammon. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

6. Be Consistent. If you are following a leader, be consistent in your attendance, commitment, and loyalty. Don’t be a fair-weather fan, instead be a devoted follower.

7. Remember what they risked for you. When we look at the ultimate leader Jesus Christ He not only risked his life but He gave His life. When we forget his sacrifice we cheapen His grace. Never forget what He risked for you.

Dear God, thank you for great leaders like Dr. King, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, John Brown, Ceaser Chavez, Geronimo, my pastor, and my President. These great leaders risked relevance and I want to live my life in appreciation of that. Most of all thank you for Jesus who gave His life for me. Now help me to live my life in appreciation of that and not forget how much it costs to see my sins upon that cross.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Run to Win

I Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.

Yesterday, I attended my son Omari’s first track meet. I had butterflies for him! You could see the anxiety in many of the kids, warming up to run their best race. You could feel the tension in the air. There were some great athletes out there, some of them looked like grown men compared to my son who is a freshman this year. He was running with the Varsity guys. When he ran the 400 meter race he started out fast, ahead of the pack but somewhere around the turn he stumbled and the “monkey” got on his back. He said, “Daddy I would have won if I would have paced myself, I took out too fast.”

The race is not given to the swift or to the strong but in “longer distances” it’s given to those who pace themselves.

When Paul says run in such a way as to win, he’s not just talking about running fast he’s also talking about:

1. It’s how you take off. How you start has a lot to do with how you finish. I noticed a lot of runners using starting blocks to get a good push off. Every morning we wake up we need a good start. God’s Word is our starting block to ensure we get a good push toward a productive day.

2. It’s about training. Before you even hit the track you have to make sure that you have trained for the race. If you have not trained properly it’s going to show up on the track. The more you train the easier the event.

1 Corinthians 9:27 (The Message)

26-27I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

3. It’s about Pace. It’s not about how fast you take off but it’s about how you set the pace so you have enough in the tank to finish at the end. There have been plenty of people who started out strong but they went about the whole thing wrong. When you are running don’t worry about what everybody else is doing, you have to run your race, set your pace, and turn it on when it’s time to turn it on.

4. It’s about what you wear. Man those guys had on some tight stuff. I don’t think I could have worn that outfit when I ran in the 80’s…LOL. The clothes they had on were aerodynamic. It gave them less resistance when running. We need to make sure we lighten our load when we are running.

Hebrews 12
1THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.

5. It’s about finishing strong. My son said he stumbled at the end causing him to exert more energy to regain his balance. Too many men and women of God have strong careers and ministries and stumble right there at the end. We have to make sure that we are disciplined and the closer we get to the end the harder we have to run. We have to run to win.

1 Corinthians 9:25 (New International Version)
25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Dear God, help me to win at life. So many have stumbled, so many have been disqualified. I admit the “monkey” has gotten on my back a time or two but your Holy Spirit gave me the strength to endure. Strengthen my legs so that I can finish strong and win!

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Knowledge Puffs Up, Love Builds Up

I Corinthians
8b Knowledge puffs up, but Love builds up.

My mother used to say, “You can have Book sense but not have any Common sense.”
Knowledge is power, but knowledge in the hands of the wrong person can be lethal. We are never to use knowledge to destroy but to benefit others. This is why the Apostle Paul admonishes the Christians in Corinth that Love is better than knowledge. The best knowledge is to be known by God. We all need knowledge. Paul told young Timothy, his Protégée, “study to show yourself approved as a workman who needs not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth,” but our priority is to be known by God. We need to make sure we have relationship with our Heavenly Father or else we become abusive with our Knowledge.

In Corinth, there was a great debate about eating food sacrificed to idols. There were hundreds of idol gods in Corinth that non-Christians paid homage to. Mature Christians were able to co-exist with idol worshippers, shop in their stores, without being corrupted by their influence. These idol worshippers even sacrificed meat to their idol gods and took the leftover meat to the butcher shop. Some Christians would take advantage of this “fire sale” and purchase meat left over from the sacrifice. These Christians had “knowledge” that if I do not believe in idol gods but I believe in the True and Living God then I am not defiled by eating this meat. The new Christians were very careful not to offend a Holy God so they took great stock in the commandment, “you shall not have any other god before me.” The mature Christians knew the difference between allegiance to God and consumption of goods, but what they did not take into consideration was how their use of freedom or their knowledge could destroy young believers.

We always have to be careful of how we practice what we believe.

You and I know that going to a night club will not cause you to go to hell but if someone new to the faith associates the Night Club with drugs, alcohol, and sexual promiscuity and sees a Christian there it leads them to think that you endorse all of the activities there.

You and I know that drinking wine at dinner will not cause you to go to hell but the Bible does warn of strong drink being a mocker but if someone new to Christ sees a Christian drinking they might associate you with being a drunk and you will crush them.

Paul says, “I know there is nothing wrong with eating meat sacrificed to idols but if my eating meat causes someone to fall I will NEVER eat meat. What are some things you have to cut out of your lifestyle so you will not cause other baby Christians to fall? What do you have to alleviate to protect your witness? In order to get into shape even athletes have restricted diets. Do you want to be a champion of faith or are you just satisfied playing the game?

Dear God, I want to build up more than I tear down your people. Let my behavior always be in alignment for the greater good of your children and not just my guilty pleasures. Let my knowledge be edifying to your people and glorifying to you. Help me to "Know the Ledge" of how far to step out without destroying my witness.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, March 22, 2010

Give Me This Hill

Joshua 14:12 (New International Version)
12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said."

I'm just a bill.
Yes, I'm only a bill.
And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill.
Well, it's a long, long journey
To the capital city.
It's a long, long wait
While I'm sitting in committee,
But I know I'll be a law someday
At least I hope and pray that I will,
But today I am still just a bill.

Boy: You mean even if the whole Congress says you should be a law, the President can still say no?

Bill: Yes, that's called a veto. If the President vetoes me, I have to go back to Congress and they vote on me again, and by that time you're so old...

Boy: By that time it's very unlikely that you'll become a law. It's not easy to become a law, is it?

Bill: No!

But how I hope and I pray that I will,
But today I am still just a bill.

Congressman: He signed you, Bill! Now you're a law!

Bill: Oh yes!!!

We all remember this Dialogue from School House Rock when we were children; I never thought as an adult I’d be watching it play out last night with Healthcare Reform. What a monumental movement last night to see the House pass the legislature for the Health Reform bill. Next stop the Senate and then President Obama. There was so much tension and anger over this bill on Capital Hill but it finally got the necessary votes to go before the Senate. You could feel the presence of Senator Ted Kennedy who made this his life’s work even as Nancy Pelosi quoted him from a letter he had written President Obama before he died he said, “Healthcare Reform is the last great unfinished business of the United states.” What I heard Sen. Kennedy say was, “Give me this Hill!”

No matter how long the fight, in the case of Healthcare 100 years, we must stick to the vision that God has given us. Caleb reminded Joshua that when he was 40 years old Moses sent him to spy out the land:

Joshua 14:7-8 (New International Version)
7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.

When you see what God would have for the people don’t be surprised that you will be a minority and the majority will be against you spreading false reports to the people. The mission statement of Fox news ought to be, “Make the heart of the American people melt with fear.”

Caleb said, “I wholeheartedly followed the Land God and gave an honest report.” 45 years later Caleb is 85 and he reminds Joshua, “I haven’t forgotten about the vision. God still wants me to take this hill.”

Joshua 14:11 (New International Version)
11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.

No matter how long it takes you don’t give up on what God showed you even if your colleagues speak false reports. You have to be sure in what God showed you.

I am confident that God will give me this Hill country because:

1. I gave an honest report. Whenever you stand for truth the truth will set you free.

2. I followed God with a whole heart.

3. I’m still strong today. I’ve still got some gas in my faith tank!

4. The Lord will go with me.

Dear God, give us this Hill Country, pass this Bill so that all your people who melt with fear may be able to possess the land and live in good health. Thank you for the Caleb’s that took the Hill. Thank you for Jesus who took the Hill called Calvary when His colleagues said He was crazy, a heretic, and a traitor to His country. Jesus took the Hill and had the compassion to look down and say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” God please bring reconciliation to America. Heal your people, Heal this Land; give us this Hill country so you can heal our Land.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Are You Earthquake Proof?

I Corinthians 3:10
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder, I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it, each builder must choose with care how to build on it.

The earthquake that struck Chile was far stronger than the one that struck Haiti in January.

But, initial reports show that damage was much more contained. While the death toll of 214 is only preliminary and is expected to grow, it’s still a thousand times lower than that of Haiti’s.

One emergency official quoted by Reuters said the number of deaths was unlikely to increase dramatically. Chile will undoubtedly also be helped by the fact that the earthquake did not happen in as dense an area as Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where parts of the city and several government buildings were literally flattened. It will also be helped by better-enforced building codes, one of the most significant challenges in Haiti. A US Geological Survey researcher told Reuters that a low death toll could be attributed to strong building standards.

It is often the crisis in life that comes along and tests our work. We are constantly building something in our lives whether it’s a church, a business, a government, a marriage, or a partnership. WE are all builders but the question is what are we using to build?

As Christians we must make sure we are up to code. Having been a part of multiple building projects one thing that can be frustrating is being up to code. There are standards that each municipality has in building requirements and depending on where you live it varies as to how strict the code enforcers are.

Jesus is our standard. Everything we build must have Jesus as the foundation. The foundation has been laid, now what we build upon that foundation is what God will judge us for. Paul talks about the building materials that we use in our building (ministry) projects:

Verse 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw...

Notice he starts with the most expensive and goes to the cheapest. What happens in many building projects is that we start the project dreaming using the best material but as we start looking at the cost we start "value engineering” and all of a sudden we resort to using cheaper materials to cut costs and speed up construction at our detriment.

Often times it costs us more later because we used cheap material that lacked integrity. It looked good but it didn’t have any strength or substance to hold during an earthquake, or fire or crisis. Oftentimes, the stuff we build doesn’t make it, marriage crumbles, churches goes through a scandal, and business goes through bankruptcy because of how we built them or who we built them with.

The good news is that the foundation is still there and you are still saved if you built on Jesus.

Verse 15 if the work is burned up the builder will suffer loss. The builder will be saved, but only as through fire.

If you are going to get your building, ministry, relationship earthquake proof then you are going to have to:

1. Build on a solid foundation. On Christ the solid Rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. Matthew 7:25-27

2. Use quality material. Only what you do for Christ will last. I Corinthians 9:25

3. After your test rebuild with quality material not cheap. Luke 14:27-29

Dear God, help me to build what you tell me to build with the materials you tell me to build and to count the cost so I can finish strong. I’ve come through the fire, I’ve come through the flood, and I’ve been kept by your love.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We Have The Mind of Christ

I Corinthians 2:16
For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Have you ever heard someone ask you, “What’s on your mind?” It’s often asked when you are quiet or sitting there in great consternation when people can’t figure out what is going through your mind. Often times, I wish I had a little camera to peep into the mind of my wife to figure out what she’s really thinking when she tells me that she’s not thinking about anything even though I know she is. I bet a lot of women would want this camera to see what we are thinking when we retreat into our caves and shut down emotionally.

More frustrating than trying to figure out what our loved ones are thinking is trying to figure out what is on the mind of God. What does God think about me? What does God want me to do? How does God feel about what I’m involved in right now?
Paul asks a rhetorical question here in 1 Corinthians 2:16 who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? God’s wisdom is so infinite that there is no one that can teach him but there is a way we can reach him. We have the mind of Christ. When we are born again by accepting Jesus Christ as our savior and are baptized with water then receive the Holy Spirit we receive the mind of Christ. So what is this a brain transplant? No we receive the Holy Spirit which knows the mind of God because His Holy Spirit searches everything even the depths of God. When our spirit connects with God’s spirit as a result of our relationship with Jesus we can get revelation as to what is on the mind of God.

God shares what’s on his mind via the Holy Spirit.

1. In his Word... Proverbs 23:12
apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

2. In Vision…Hosea 12:10
I spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions and told parables through them

3. In Prophecy…2 Peter 1:19
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

4. In Nature…Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

5. In Preaching/teaching…Romans 10:14
how then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Dear God, thank you for giving us the mind of Christ. I understand you and know you through the Holy Spirit. Thank you for Jesus and for giving us the mind of Christ. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that searches the depths of your being so that I can know what’s on your mind. Today, fill me with your Spirit so I can know what you are thinking and where you want me to go.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You Have A Choice

Deuteronomy 30:19
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.

Every day we wake up we have a choice. We have to choose whether or not we are going to get up on time. We choose whether we are going to spend time in prayer or rush out of the house. We have to choose what to wear and what not to wear. We have to choose whether to exercise or to continue to ignore that little voice reminding us that our temples are in need of maintenance.

The bigger choice we have to make daily is doing life our way or God’s way but this decision is reflected in the little choices we make minute by minute. Moses reminded the children of Israel that God had set before them Life and Death, blessings and curses but He tells them to choose life.

In life, God and satan have a taste test. They have their brands of life on tables side by side.

God has his cups on the table labeled: 1) Life 2) Death 3) Blessings 4) Curses
He allows you to taste of each one so that you know what it tastes like but admonishes you to choose the right one. God gives you free will so sometimes in your life you have tasted of each of these but the Grace of God didn’t allow you to die even though you taste something potentially lethal. God wishes that none would perish but that all would be saved. That’s why He didn’t let you die even though you tasted the wrong thing.

God sent Jesus to help you make the right choice by taking death and Curses from the table and drinking them himself. The only two cups left on God’s table are Life and blessings because Jesus took what was deadly off the table.

On Satan’s table he has the same cups but the only thing is that he has switched the cups so that what brings life is switched with death and what you thought was a blessing is really deadly. To avoid brand confusion you need only to make the right choice. Choose life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man can come to the father except he come through me. “Jesus said, “I have come to give you life and life more abundantly.

Choose Life:

1. By accepting Jesus. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

2. Follow Him daily.

3. Deny yourself. Your ways are not God’s ways. There is a way that seems right to a man and then there is God’s way. Make sure you are led by God’s spirit so that you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

4. Keep His commandments. Jesus said, “If you love me then keep my commandments.”

Dear God, keep me day by day. For if you lead me I will not stray. I’ve tasted all the imitations of life but today I choose Jesus because he’s the Real thing and I’m going to obey my thirst for Righteousness because only You can satisfy. When I choose Jesus today I know I’ve got the right one because I’ve tasted that the Lord our God is Good and I’ve chosen Life.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, March 15, 2010

Carry Your Own Load

Galatians 6:5

For all must carry their own load.

When will I be able to let down this load? When you are a Man that’s all I was told.

--Kappa Alpha Psi Pledge Song.

Pledging a black fraternity was one of the most life changing experience of my lifetime. There was a lot of good that came out of a lot of bad. There were bonds of brotherhood that will never be broken. We were taught to always protect our line and watch out for our brothers. We were also taught not to be the “Weak” link. Every brother had to carry his own load. When a brother didn’t carry his share we had to step to him and tell him, he was leaning on the shield.

Those same learnings can transfer to real life. We are our brothers’ keeper but each brother/sister must carry his/her own load even as we help to carry each other’s burdens.

Paul breaks down how we are to be there for one another in the sixth chapter of Galatians.

1. If a brother messes up, restore him in a spirit of gentleness lest you be tempted in the same thing you are chastising them for. 1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

2. Bear one another’s burdens. When we were pledging we always took notice when our line brothers burdens got too heavy and we would ask permission to step in to help them carry the load. 2Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

3. Before you check somebody else check yourself. 3For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another's load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself.

4But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [[a]in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor.

4. For all must carry their own load. There is a balance between carrying your load and helping your brother with his burdens. When you think of yourself with sober judgment and humility, then you can discern when its time to step to another brother or sister. But even when they’re wrong the “first” time you should step to them in a Sprit of Gentleness to restore them. Restore means to give them a way to redeem themselves. In our efforts toward restoration, we will help each other become the men/women we were supposed to be but we must get there together.

Dear God, help me to be the man I want my brother to be. Give me the ability to speak truth in love to restore relationship and build brotherhood. We all mess up, and have our personal demons but together we can win and become what God has destined us to be. Lord helps us to cross over into Kingdom Land.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Preventing A Yeast Infection

Deuteronomy 16:3
You must not eat with the Passover anything with yeast, for seven days you shall eat unyeasted bread with it—the bread of affliction—because you came out of the land of Egypt in great haste, so that all the days of your life you may remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt.

Yeast is a fungus that feeds on sugar and is used to make bread rise. Most yeast are harmless some are used in baking and brewing. Yeast is commonly present on normal human skin and in areas of moisture usually without causing any problems; however yeast can produce disease in people called yeast infections.

The yeast infections I’m talking about are not physical but spiritual. Jesus told His disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod. This Yeast that Jesus was warning his disciples about dealt with wrong teaching, hypocrisy, and unbelief present in the hearts of the Pharisees and Herod. They were religious, but spiritually, they had yeast infections which caused them not to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Yeast is anything that is antithetical to Christ.
When the Israelites celebrated the Passover meal they were to eat bread without yeast. The Passover was the time God delivered the children of Israel out of slavery. They left in such haste that they didn’t have time for the bread to rise. Every year around March through April the Jews celebrate this feast of unleavened bread. Unleavened bread was appropriate as a means of marking the transition to the first cereal crop of the new agricultural year.

If you are going to transition out of slavery into your new harvest there is a time right here in the Middle of March and going into April, to get rid of all Yeast! This Sunday we change our clocks up, we spring forward not fall back. This is a good weekend to spring forward by getting rid of all yeast.

In the Old Testament all the yeasted dough of the passing year was used up or destroyed so as to make a way for the new season’s produce. It’s time to get rid of all of your old yeast.

Here’s how you prevent a yeast infection:

1. Get rid of all bad attitudes. If you have people in your circle, your team, or your business that have bad attitudes you need to make some corrections before they infect the whole body. 1 Corinthians 5:5-7 (New International Version)
5hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature[a] may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

6Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.

2. Get rid of people that do not have your DNA. Matthew 16:23
Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

3. Check yourself for areas where the fungus of unforgiveness may be trapped. James 3:14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

4. To counter bad attitudes, behavior, and gossip, maintain a regular diet of prayer and bible study. Matthew 18:19-20

5. Let your speech be uplifting, no cursing, and no degrading, sexist or racist remarks. Ephesians 4:29

Dear God it’s time for me to make room for my new harvest and to destroy all yeasted bread, yeasted relationships, and yeasted attitudes. I’m ready to come out of slavery and enter my Promised Land. Cleanse me from all “yeast” and make me into the image of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Give me a clean heart that I might serve you. Help me to create a “yeast” free home, business, and ministry so we can Passover and spring forward.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why Did You Leave?

Galatians 1:6
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.

When you enlist in the army you are expected to finish your tour of duty. Paul says, “A good soldier does not have time to get entangled in worldly affairs.” As a soldier you are expected to stand on your post until you are relieved of your duty. When a soldier leaves his or her post too early they are said to be “Deserters.” When you leave your post you put the rest of the army and even the nation in danger because you deserted your post. The enemy can come in and destroy everybody else because you decided become a deserter.

We’ve seen many examples of young soldiers deserting their posts for the following reasons:

1. Going to party. How many movies have shown young soldiers leaving their posts to go party in a nearby town leaving their home base exposed because they wanted to go kick it?

2. Love interests. Some soldiers leave their posts because their nose is wide open for some lover that they are willing to risk court marshal or prison for some fleeting lust.

3. Drugs or alcohol. Some soldiers are drunk or high and can’t make good decisions because their thinking is impaired.

4. Fear. Some young soldiers are spooked away from their posts because they listen to the lies of the enemy. Saigon Sally use to come on the loud speakers in Vietnam and tell the soldiers that their country had abandoned them and that they were all going to die. This psychological warfare causes some of them to desert their posts. It causes some of them to run when nobody was chasing them.

5. Rebellious to Authority. Some soldiers just can’t submit to leadership. They have authority issues, nobody can tell them anything. They would rather end up in the stockade than have anybody tell them what to do.

As Christians, there is another reason why we become deserters. We desert God for another gospel. Someone comes along with another version of religion that better suits your tastes and you abandon Jesus for a lighter cross. There is one Gospel. The Gospel or “Good News” of Jesus Christ is that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one can come to God unless they come through Him. The Gospel of Jesus is that He was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. On the third day, he rose again and is seated at the right hand of the father. He will come to judge the living and the dead. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we are saved by grace.

Paul is astonished that there are so many deserters leaving Jesus so quickly. How soon we forget! Religious people came in and started getting in the ear of the new Christians and making them think they had to be circumcised in order to be saved. Many of them left the Gospel they had been saved by for another gospel. We’ve exchanged a Gospel with a cross for a gospel of convenience. We’ve exchanged a Gospel with spiritual restraint for a gospel of sensual indulgence. We’ve exchanged a Gospel of commitment for a gospel of fickleness.

It’s time for us to get back on our posts. It’s time to return to our assigned positions. Don’t let him catch you with your work undone. Be faithful over a few things so he can make you ruler over many.

Dear God,

Help us to be good soldiers. Give us the courage to stand on our posts and not desert you no matter what distractions come our way. We come here not to play, dream, or drift for we have hard work to do, loads to lift, we shall not struggle for it is God’s gift, and we will be strong. We answer the call of Jesus who says, “come unto me all of you who labor and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burdens are light.” We hear Jesus saying, “if you are going to be my disciple or my soldier, take up your cross, deny yourselves daily, and follow me.” I’m on the battlefield for my Lord, and I promised Him that I would serve Him till I die, I’m on the battlefield for my Lord!

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is God Reigning In Your Life?

Deuteronomy 11:13-14
If you will only heed his every commandment that I am commanding you today—loving the Lord your God, and serving him with all your heart and with all your soul then he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil.

It is amazing how we are so quick to identify with the people of the book, the children of Israel, by saying, “We are blessed!” We are blessed in the city, blessed in the field, blessed when we come and when we go. We are quick to claim the blessings of being a “child of God” but we are slow to take on the responsibilities of being a child of God.

It’s interesting to watch this new show on MTV called, “The World's Strictest Parents.” It’s about the rebellious kids who love driving their parents crazy but it’s the parents who are already crazy because they have no rules and have let their kids pretty much do what they want to do. There is so much conflict between the parent and child that the parent(s) release them to go to the home of stricter parents. Typically, what happens is that what was lacking were some rules and guidelines. When the rebellious teens experience “tough love” the teen experiences some kind of breakthrough and goes back home with a greater appreciation and respect for their parents.

In many ways, we are like that rebellious teen-ager, we have been left to our own way of doing things and it has gotten us nowhere. God has given us an invitation to stay at his house but in his house he has rules. It appears that God is boring because he has rules but the reality is that there is more freedom in God’s house than where we are living in bondage to our freedom. We say we love God but in reality we do not adhere to any rules. God has given us His Word for our good but He does not force us to live with Him. In Deuteronomy 10:13 God says, “I am giving you these commandments for your own well being.”

The essence of God’s commandments can be summarized like this:

1. Love the Lord your God. Many of us say we love God with our lips but our hearts are far from him. Jesus said, “If you love me then keep my commandments.” When you love someone you do what they ask you to do especially if it’s for your well being. God is never going to tell you to do anything that will hurt you.

2. Serve Him with all your heart. When you love your job nobody has to walk behind you to make sure you do it. The same with God, when you love Him nobody has to beg you to serve Him. When you help those who cannot help themselves then you are serving God. Jesus said, “When you do unto the least of these you also have done unto me. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

3. Then He will give you early rain and late rain. Early rain is the rain you need to get your seed to grow, later rain is what you need to get the plant to keep on growing. Most people only obey God until the first rain and then stop obeying then complain that it’s not raining anymore. It’s not raining because God is not reigning. It only rains when you let God reign by obeying His commandments. You can’t get the blessings of being a child of God if you don’t accept the responsibilities of being a child of God.

Dear God, I submit to your authority over my life. My life is not my own. I am committed to keep all of your commandments. I’m not going to add anything or take anything away. Your Word is a light unto my feet and a lamp unto my pathway. Thank you for reigning and for letting it Rain on field.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, March 8, 2010

First I'd Like To Thank...

Deuteronomy 8:17-18
You May say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers as it is today.

It is always interesting to see how people respond when they receive awards at the Oscars. There are actors, actresses, directors that have been nominated for years and never have won. Then there are the phenomenons like Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, and Monique who win the first time nominated. It is so moving to see the appreciation and humility of those who win. What was noticeably missing this year is appreciation for God given by the recipients. Is this commentary about our culture as a shift away from God or the realization that God is disassociated with much of what goes on in Hollywood?

As African-Americans, we have always had an appreciation for God's hand on our talents and destiny. Even the schizophrenic knee jerk response of “Juicy J” of the rap group Three Six Mafia, thanking Jesus showed a religious reaction to thank Jesus even though they operate under a satanic moniker. Some would argue that they are glad that Monique did not give an empty obligatory religious response “thanking God” and then others wonder why she did not thank God first before anyone else. The assumption is that all African-Americans are Christians and that America is still a Christian nation.

For those of us that are Christians we expect that when we make it to the stage of success that we first acknowledge God. Going all the way back to when we were children growing up in little “Baptist” churches in the south we remember the person taking the microphone, “First giving honor to God, who is the head of my life…” We’ve come a long way from those days. Today there are a lot of people who believe they are the head of their own lives.

When we are successful and given the mic who will we attribute success to besides ourselves?

Moses warned the Israelites that when they come into the Promised Land, to a land flowing with Milk and Honey, not to say, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced my wealth.” Whenever we win at life it is at the expense of others.
We win at life because of the graciousness of God and the sacrifices of those who went before us. Monique thanked Hattie McDaniel who won an Oscar by having to play a slave so that she (Monique) could win with “dignity” playing an abusive mother on welfare. (Interesting paradox) she had an amazing performance and rightfully won, hands down! Maybe we pick things apart too much but then again maybe there is a lesson we can learn from others.

Moses said, “It is God who gives us the ability to get wealth. When you crossover into the land your Lord God gives you:

1. Give God Glory and thanks before anybody else.

2. Thank God for those who went before you? We stand on the backs of slaves who sacrificed their lives for us to be free.

3. Thank those who stood beside you.

4. Thank God for your haters. God allowed others to go before you to work the land that didn’t even like you.

5. Encourage yourself in the Lord for your hard work.

Dear God, thank you for blessing me. Without you I am a failure. You are the source and the strength of my life. Thank you for blessing me with success and letting me cross over into a land flowing with Milk and Honey.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Be Ready In Season and Out of Season

Mark 11:13
Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

When I first began preaching over 20 years ago my pastor told me to always keep a sermon in my pocket and in my heart because I never knew when someone would ask me to preach. He was teaching me to be prepared in season and out of season.

Les Brown, great motivational speaker once told a story about how he always wanted to be a DJ at a local radio station. He got a job cleaning up just to get a foot in the door. He would practice in the mirror pretending to be a DJ. One night the regular DJ got drunk and couldn’t come on the air. Les Brown begged the manager for a chance to come on. He got on the air like an old pro because he practiced out of season and was prepared in an unexpected season.

Jesus saw a fig tree in the distance in leaf. It had the potential to be fruitful but he wouldn’t know until he got up on it. Somebody is watching you blossom from a distance. They are at a distance watching you progress and you are unaware. How you carry yourself in this season is vital because they will not approach you unless you have signs of potential. Always carry yourself as if a potential employer is watching with binoculars.

The bible says Jesus was hungry. It wasn’t the season for figs but the master was hungry. We are living in hungry times and in a season where jobs are scarce. You don’t know when or where someone is looking for their next fruitful employee but will you be ready when they approach you?

When Jesus approached the tree it was leafy but had no fruit because it was not the season for fruit, but he cursed the tree anyway. “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ Why would Jesus expect fruit from a tree in the wrong season and then curse it?

Because the tree symbolized the Temple and the religious leaders of His day. They were leafy but not righteous. They were leafy but not relevant. They were leafy but not spiritually fruitful. The Church and Christians must be prepared in season and out of season. No one knows the hour or the day when He is coming but you better be ready when He comes.

Dear God, prepare me to be a living sanctuary for you. Let my life be fruitful and not just leafy. I’m available in all seasons, winter, spring, summer, or fall. All you have to do is call and I will be ready.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sell It All

Mark 10:21
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “you lack one thing; go sell what you owe, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

What must I do to live forever? This young man who had a lot of money wanted to know from Jesus what he had to do to get into heaven and inherit eternal life. Jesus tested him to see if he had a basic understanding of the commandments that up to this point many had failed to keep. Jesus didn’t promote a “works righteousness” but taught that the Kingdom of God came as a result of accepting the gift of salvation through repentance. He wanted to meet this young man where he was and show him how impoverished he was in his richness.

Jesus said you know the commandments.

Mark 10:19 (New International Version)
19You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'[a]".

The young man smugly responded that he had kept all those since he was a child.
The Bible said Jesus looked at him and loved him. He liked his character but he saw his commitment was to something else. Jesus said with all the money that you have you still lack one thing. How can you be rich and morally upright and still lack something? Because Jesus saw that he served a counterfeit god. He was in love with his money. You cannot love God and money.

Jesus said, “go sell all you have, give it to the poor, and follow me.” Do you know how hard that would be to hear when your world is centered around money? It’s not hard for some of us because we don’t have that much to get rid of but we do have something in common with the rich young ruler. We have something we can’t let go of, that is competing with our commitment with Christ. In order to inherit eternal life we have to do three things:

1. Sell all we have. We have to be willing to live our lives as if nothing belongs to us. When Job lost all he had to natural tragedies, theft, and disease he said, “the Lord God gives and the Lord God takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. God doesn’t like taking away, God loves a cheerful giver. God wants to know if I require it all could you give it knowing that what you are giving away doesn’t compare to what I can give you back?

2. Give it to the poor. There should not be any poor around those who are wealthy. It is our divine duty to share with those who do not have. Jesus said when you do unto the least of these you also do unto me. It’s our responsibility to help the poor.

3. Follow Jesus. We can’t affectively follow Jesus until we have relinquished what was competing for our hearts. Wherever your treasure is there is where you heart will be also. Jesus told this young man to make a transfer. By selling all he had and giving to the poor he would have treasure in heaven. Many of us are rich on earth but are poor in heaven. Once we allow Jesus to be in his proper place then we can effectively follow after we have sold it all.

Dear God, I trade in my life for Jesus. I realize that naked I came out of my mother’s womb and naked I shall return. Jesus you are my most important sole possession. Nothing else matters. Thank you for enriching my life through your presence in my heart. Freely I have received and freely I give.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Ain't Mad At Ya!

Mark 9:10
Whoever is not against us is for us.

Someone has said that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but when Christina Aguilera copied Pink’s style by using her songwriter, Pink said, “Imitation is the highest form of irritation.” When you are the pioneer or originator of something it can be irritating when you look up and see others duplicating or even stealing your idea. We live in a very competitive world where the marketplace is full of clutter and business evolves at a fast pace. Sony’s book reader will be replaced tomorrow by Apple’s Ipad and then something else the next day.

In this world of clutter, we all fight for our corner of the Market share only to find others borrowing in the absence of their own creativity and identity. Your creativity and identity flows out of who you are and whose you are. As Disciples of Christ, the fruit we produce is a result of whom we are connected to. Jesus said, “apart from me you cannot produce any fruit.”

His disciples took this to heart when they saw a man casting out demons using Jesus’ name. He was not a disciple he was just using the brand. It was not uncommon for magicians and healers to invoke the names of other gods in their healing efforts. (Acts 19:11-20)

The disciples wanted to raise the anxiety level of Jesus to their level of agitation especially since they had failed to cast out the demon earlier in the chapter. It’s frustrating to see somebody who doesn’t have a heart to do what you love to do but you weren’t successful to do. They are successful by accident but what Jesus has to tell them is the same thing he has to tell us…”It ain’t about you.” I ain’t mad at Ya…if it’s helping that man who had the demon what does it matter that they did it for their own name recognition? I ain’t mad at ya! If it blesses the community because you are advancing the Kingdom of God why should I be upset that you got there first using my idea I ain’t mad at ya! When the name of Jesus is evoked something happens in the earth.

Jesus said that when someone who is not in our group, tribe, or church does something we were called to do:

1. Do not stop them. If they are doing a good deed of Power. This man probably had seen Jesus teaching his disciples how to cast out demons or had seen Jesus do it himself. He began to copy what Jesus had done and helped somebody. It’s alright to be a copycat as long as you are copying the right cat. There is no copyright on doing right.

2. Jesus said my name goes forward and they will not be able to speak against it. Jesus said that His name or His brand was going forward as a result of this good deed of Power.

3. Whoever is not against us is for us. In other words, if the Kingdom of God is benefited by someone whose heart is not in it, they might not have done it for the right reason but if people are being helped let it go. If the greater good is being done for the good of the people what does it matter who gets the credit as long as God gets the Glory?

Dear God, you get all the glory! Whatever methods, innovations, techniques, or technology can help deliver your people then let it be done in Jesus name. We don’t have a patent on the Holy Ghost. If they are not against us then they are for us. Thank you for the Victory!

In Jesus Name,


Monday, March 1, 2010

Are You Ashamed of Jesus?

Mark 8:38
Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the Holy Angels.

When children are young they naturally cling to their parents. I tried holding a newborn baby in church yesterday and he immediately recognized I was not his mother and started to cry. Now if you check back fourteen years later when that mother shows up at high school to hug her son he will be embarrassed and act like he doesn’t even know his own mother. It’s something about adolescents where young people begin to detach from the paternal bond especially as they try to assimilate into the social ranks of a generation that they so desperately need approval from.

This process is no different form how Christians deal with their relationship with Jesus Christ. Early on in our relationship with Jesus there was an intense bond with our Lord and Savior. Nobody could stop our devotion to Him or get in the way of us serving, coming to worship on a regular basis but as we began to assimilate into pop culture and began to be inundated with new teachings predicated on our own desires we became ashamed of Jesus. We were like Peter who denied Jesus as he was standing around the fire with non-followers saying, “I don’t know him.”

It seems that every pop culture mention of Jesus or Christians is some extreme parody of some character who is out of touch with reality or hypocritical. One of Pop Culture’s oldest iconic TV shows, the Simpsons, aired an episode where Marge was thinking of committing adultery with her “Christian” neighbor. He came to her door at her invitation for dinner. She said, “Where are the boys?” He said, “I just grounded them for watching a commercial of Grey’s Anatomy…” Christians and Christianity are now punch lines for TV shows and fodder for politically manipulated politicians who don’t love Jesus but use them for their conservative agendas.

On the Liberal side the bible is an inspirational book that we pick pieces of scripture out of to match our lifestyle and ask Jesus to endorse it. All the while Jesus is slipping out of vocabulary because as one famous televangelists has said, “the cross is offensive and we don’t want to offend.”

Jesus told his disciples, if you want to follow me, you have to take up your cross daily, deny yourselves and follow me. The problem is that we act like we don’t know him anymore in this adulterous generation. Adulterous in the sense that we have shifted our affection for Jesus to false gods and our love for people that can’t deliver. We are a sinful generation in the sense that we have missed the mark of being obedient to Jesus teaching.

When it’s time for us to recognize Jesus, we act like we don’t know him because we don’t want our educated and secular friends to know that we are associated with this outdated, old fashioned, Holy and righteous Savior who embarrasses the “hell” out of us because His standards will not allow us to be comfortable with the lifestyles that are contrary to His Holiness.

Jesus puts it so succinctly, “If you are ashamed of me, (act like you don’t know me) then I will be ashamed of you before the Father when I return with the Holy Angels.

Dear God,

Forgive us for acting funny when our friends came around and we hid the fact that we knew you. Forgive us for biting our tongues when people doubted you and spoke disrespectfully about your existence and we swallowed our words. Help us not to waiver in a world that lives with its own understanding but instead to stand for what’s right and once again cling to you our first love. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power unto salvation. I am not ashamed to testify. I am not ashamed to sing and shout. I want the world to know that you are so beautiful to me. I love you, Lord.

In Jesus Name,