Thursday, March 31, 2011

Look for the Open Door

I Corinthians 16:8-9
I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

Whenever you have position you will have opposition. No good deed goes unnoticed, has always meant that people will acknowledge when you have done something good. We really haven’t taken the time to really think about who’s taking notice. There are people who are cheering you on from the sidelines and people who are hoping you fail. You can’t waste time trying to figure out who’s for you and who’s against you. Your focus should be on the open door God has provided. So many times we get preoccupied with the people on the sidelines that we forget to look ahead at the open door.

When you are being effective in your particular field you must realize that God called you there and he is the one keeping the door open. You can’t leave where you are as long as God has the door open and you are doing effective work. Every person I’ve known in the bible or in real life has always had opposition when they were doing something great. If the enemy is not messing with you it’s because you’re probably not attempting to do anything great for God. But when God opens up a great door there will always be opposition. As a matter of fact, for every new level there is a new devil.

The Apostle Paul said, I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost because a great door for effective work has opened to me.” When God has a great door open for you:

You can’t move on until your work is done. I’ve seen so many people quit too early simply because they ran into opposition. Some opposition ought to encourage you to know that you are doing the right thing and you are close to your breakthrough.
You can’t let opposition stop you. Jesus said, “Greater is he that is in you than he that is against you.” When you have opposition look at it as resistance training. When people get in your way they can only slow you but they can’t stop you because if God be for you who can come against you?

Focus on the door not the people. The door that God has for you is so “Great” you don’t have time to focus on small people. Look at the big picture and what it’s going to take to get through that door. Focus on your game plan, do effective work, work smart not hard. God has opened this door, now run through it!

Wait for Pentecost! Pentecost is the day that the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles. When it’s time for God to advance you he will allow a day of Pentecost so you can walk into everything he has for you. Look for the Open door.

Dear God,
Thank you for the open door. I know you will give me the resources to complete what you have called me to do in spite of those who oppose me. I’m encouraged by my opposition because that lets me know that there is a Great Door for me to do effective work. I feel my help coming on! Thank you for the Open Door!

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Am What I Am!

I Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

I like me! What? You don’t like me?! It’s okay because God likes me! ---Kirk Franklin

It’s a liberating moment when you can soberly say, ‘I like who I am.” I like what Steve Harvey said on twitter the other day, “I was who I was and I am who I am and I’m okay with both.” What Steve was not able to go into detail about was God’s grace. There is a bridge that gets us over ourselves called grace and it takes us to a better version of ourselves. We are all on a journey of getting comfortable in our own skin. Someone said the older we get the more we look like ourselves. We reach a point where we can say, “I am what I am by the grace of God.”

Paul said, “His (God’s) grace was not without effect.” In other words something happened as a result of Gods’ kindness in my life. Once he showed me the errors of my ways and gave me a second chance, I’ve been catapulted into a sense of purpose and self actualization. God didn’t waste his grace on me for me to go backwards or stand still. I am who I am by God’s grace. I like where I am in him and because of that….

“I work harder than all of them.” The Apostle Paul talks about being the last Apostle to physically see Jesus and how Jesus transformed him into one of the hardest working Apostles even though he was the worst sinner. Paul was talking about how hard he worked for God after he had received grace in 2 Corinthians 11:23. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

I was reading about Rihanna in Vogue magazine. She said she works relentlessly with interviews, photo shoots, exercising with her personal trainer, traveling across the globe because she’s reminded of the grace of being discovered in Barbados and taken in by a family in Connecticut and being signed to a record company. Everyone expected her to be a one hit wonder, so now she works harder to prove them wrong. We work harder because God proved us right. I don’t want to let God down because, I like who I am in him. I am who I am.

Dear God,
Keep me day by day in a pure and perfect way. Lord keep my body strong so that I can do no wrong. Thank you for your Grace just to run this Christian race to a building not made by hands. I like me but I really love you Lord.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Let's Be Clear

Judges 7:22
When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the enemies throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.

I Corinthians 14:8 again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call who will get ready for battle?

It’s important to be clear when you are communicating. Missions can be aborted when communication is not clear. If you are not clear on your instructions you can fail an entire test. When you are not clear on directions you can end up lost. If you are not clear on your expectations you may never find what you are looking for. If you are not clear on instructions you can put in the wrong ingredient and ruin a recipe. It’s important that you be clear.

The Apostle Paul spent an entire chapter talking about the importance of clear communication in the church. He specifically talked about tongues vs. prophecy being used for the edification of the church. Speaking in tongues has been highly emphasized in Charismatic churches as the litmus test for whether or not someone was filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul did not discount speaking in tongues as a gift but rather emphasized Prophecy as more beneficial. Tongues without an interpreter left people unclear as to what was being said by God whereas Prophecy gave people clear instruction from God. The people must be clear on what is being said or else they will never move.

Paul used the example of clearly hearing the trumpet before the people would move out to battle. Before the ancient Israelites armies would go out to battle they waited on the sound of the trumpet. Numbers 10:9 when you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies. The problem with modern day leaders is that they are too busy tooting their own horns instead of blowing their trumpets. We are so busy trying to impress people with our gifts that we are never prophetic in blowing our trumpets. People jump when we toot our horns but a movement is started when we blow our trumpets. The trumpets represent the prophetic word of God that notifies the people that we have to make a move against the enemy. People will not move until they clearly hear the trumpet. You can’t be afraid to speak the truth if you want to help the people.

Gideon had 32,000 men to go out to fight against the Amelakites who were oppressing them. God told him he had too many men because if they won they would brag saying they did it. So he narrowed it down to 300 men with swords, torches, and trumpets. When Gideon sounded his trumpet the 300 sounded theirs. Gideon had been reluctant to fight because he was a farmer but once he was clear on the fact that God was with him. He blew his trumpet, then the people blew theirs and the enemy destroyed himself.

Let’s Be Clear:

1. Your spiritual gifts are not for ecclesiastical entertainment but for mobilizing the masses
2. Always be ready to give an account of what you believe.
3. It doesn’t take a whole lot of people to win what God already gave you.
4. Less is more.
5. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
6. People need to know what YOU stand for.
7. They will not move until you blow your trumpet.

Dear God, give me the courage to be a clear communicator even when it looks like I’m outnumbered. People are waiting on me to sound the alarm so I need to be clear on what I believe. Give me your word so I can be clear before I open my mouth. Let me be clear about what I believe and sound the alarm so the people can move out for the Victory that is already ours.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Time to Grow Up!

I Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I though like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I pout childish ways behind me.

There comes a time, in every man's life

When he get's tired of foolin' around

Juggling hearts in a three-ring circus

Someday will drive a body down to the ground

I never imagined that love would rain on me

And make me want to settle down

Jesus it's true, I think I do

And I just wanna tell you that I wanna with you (*Jesus, if you do too)

And *Jesus, if you do too

Forever, forever, *Jesus I want you forever

I wanna keep you for the rest of my life (you can make right)

All that is wrong in my world (you are my saviour)

You can make right (you are my light)

You are my saviour, you are my light (forever I want you in my life)

Forever I want you in my life

Prince, Forever in my life

*I replaced Baby with Jesus

In our growth as human beings there comes a point in our lives when our knowledge catches up with our spirit and we grow. Knowledge means that you Know the Ledge on which you are standing on and take the necessary leap to get to the next level. In the natural order of life, we grow through different stages embryo, fetus, baby, toddler, child, adolescent, young adult, middle age and senior. Somewhere in the middle or hopefully before, we also grow spiritually and intellectually. What is a tragedy is that you make it through all the physical stages but never grow in wisdom. When Jesus was twelve it says he continued to grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with men. Paul said, “when I became a man or adult I put childish ways behind me.”

At what point do we become adults? When do we grow up? Some Psychologists say that values are set by the time we are 17. People who become Christians at an early age are more likely to mature as disciples. The older a person gets the less likely they are to receive Christ because their values become set during adolescents. Other studies have revealed that the right lobe of the brain has not fully matured until around 26 or 27. Young people can’t make rational decisions effectively because they don’t see the big picture they are more impulsive. I thought I was grown at 21 but I really knew more at 31 but I grew wiser at 41. The point is that all of us should be in the process of growing up. How do you know when you’ve reached adulthood? It’s not when you are sweet 16 or 21.

You become an adult when:

You can apply the knowledge you’ve learned in life
When your emotional maturity matches your physical maturity
When you can see the big picture, the vision God has for your life and make adjustments that lead to the fulfillment for God’s will in your life.
When you can tell your body what to do instead of your body telling you what to do.
When you become a disciple of Jesus and put childish ways behind you.
When the way you Love people matches the love expressed in I Cor. 13
When People see Jesus instead of you.

Dear God, thank you for growing me up. I’m still maturing and I can see just how far I’ve grown. Continue to mature my mind and expand my vision. I don’t want to ever stop growing in wisdom and in my favor.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Still Want It!

Joshua 14:11
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. Now give me this Hill country that the Lord promised me that day.

Every morning I get up I’m inspired by the Vision God gave me for my family, community and city. There is a picture God gave me that inspires me ten years later to keep on pushing. Our Vision is to revitalize a sustainable Kingdom community which strengthens the mind, body & soul of all people. God told Habakkuk to write the vision, make it plain so the runners may run with it, and though it make take a while, wait on it, and it will come to pass.

There is something God has spoken over your life that you’ve been waiting on but the question is do you still want it?

Joshua and Caleb were the two spies who came back with a good report while the other ten spies tried to strike fear in the people’s hearts because of the challenges in the new land. There will always be people trying to talk you out of what you know that God has for you but you have to have your own mind set on what God is showing you. Forty Five years later, Joshua is in charge approaching retirement and Caleb comes to him to remind him that, “I still want it!”

God had promised Caleb that because of his courage he was going to give him a choice piece of land. He told him every place he set his foot he would give him the land for himself and his children’s children. When you still want it you have to go back to where you started to remind the people who heard it with you, “I still want it!”

1. Caleb said, “I brought back a report according to my convictions.” When he first spied out the Promised Land, he saw the potential, he saw the fruit, and he even saw the giants but he said, “we can take this land!” He didn’t go off of what the majority was saying, he had his own convictions. You must have your own convictions about what God is showing you.

2. Remember the Promise. In Verse 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’[a]

3. Look where He brought you from. “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old!

4. Keep yourself in shape! 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.

5. Make your declaration that you still want it! 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.”

Dear God,
I still want what you told me years ago. I’m willing and ready to take what you said is mine. Give me the strength to take this Hill country to fulfill what you spoke to me. I still want it!

In Jesus Name,

Monday, March 21, 2011

It Ain't All Good!

I Corinthians 6:12
Everything is permissible for me but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” but I will not be mastered by anything.

The moral code in America is becoming more and more laxed. How times have changed! Do you remember when Lucille Ball and her husband Ricky slept in twin beds so they wouldn’t offend TV viewers during the 50’s? (They were married!) Now we have shows like the Game where cougars like Tasha Mac are having sex with Terrance the young man from 106 & Park in the living room (they are not married and he’s 20 years her junior). It seems that TV producers are telling us, “It’s all good!”

There was a saying we had in the 90’s “It’s all good,” where we would generalize any activity that may have some questions to if it benefited a person or not. Even if it appeared to be a negative we would simply dismiss it by saying, “It’s all good.” It seems that we have rubber stamped much of our moral indiscretions by saying, “it’s all good,” when it really ain’t.

The Apostle Paul says, “It’s not all good.” Even though much of what our forefathers would have found as morally reprehensible is now legal and culturally acceptable we have “rubber stamped” it as being “all good,” but is it really beneficial? If we were to tell the truth about it, “it ain’t all good.” Paul helps us to distinguish between what’s good and what’s not by one distinct question; Is it beneficial? Does it make you better? Does it help make you a stronger Christian?

It’s not all good if it:

1. Doesn’t benefit you. When we say benefit you we mean spiritually. Something can be good to you physically while diminishing you spiritually. It can have you like Charlie Sheen, thinking you are Winning when you are really losing it.

2. If it makes a slave of you. Paul uses the analogy of food. He says, “Food is for the stomach, and stomach for food but I will not be mastered by anything.” It’s permissible for me to go to an all-you-can-eat Buffet but it’s not beneficial if I’m trying to live healthy and watch my weight. Many people are mastered by their appetites for drugs, sex, alcohol, and even food. It may be good but is it good for you?

3. Against the will of God. Our moral code and our understanding of right and wrong must always be measured against the word of God and not our feelings. Something can feel right but not be Holy.

What Paul is really talking about is Sexual Immorality or Sex outside of marriage. There is an interesting verse Paul has in I Corinthians 6:18 when he says, “all other sin a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Sex can feel good but not be good for you. In fact a Sexually Transmitted Disease can kill you. It’s not all good if it’s not all Holy.

Dear God help me to distinguish between what feels good and what is good for me. Help me to take control of my body and not my body taking control of me. Give us the discipline use our freedom within in the sphere of being spiritually responsible.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Free To Do What?

Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature rather, serve one another in love.

We pride ourselves in the United States of America as being the land of the free and the home of the brave. There are a lot of liberties that we enjoy because of so many people who fought for our freedom in this country. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln freed the Africans from slavery in America. We really didn’t get our full rights as citizens until 1964 with the passing of the Civil Rights bill. Many of the slaves that were freed didn’t even know what to do even though the law of the land had freed them their minds still told them that they were slaves. It was not until many of them like Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, and Booker T. Washington were educated that they begin to give Africans in America leadership after slavery. Frederick Douglas said it best, “if there is no struggle there is no progress.” To walk in freedom after being a slave is a struggle.

There are many former slaves in post-modern America who have been freed but still struggle with spiritual slavery. They are white, black, Latino and Asian. People who were slaves to their sinful condition but many have experienced liberation through the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. Many of us who are Christians are grateful for the emancipation of our souls through Jesus. The word of God says for whom the Son sets free we are free indeed! Free to do what?! If we are free to do what everybody else does then what are the distinguishing traits of a Christian?

The Apostle Paul tells us not to sue our freedom to indulge in the sinful nature. We can’t go back to what God delivered us from. Here in lies the human struggle. There is always a struggle between our Spirit and our flesh. You cannot despair over the struggle but you must be conscious of the struggle every day. That’s why Jesus said, “if you are going to be my Disciple you must deny yourself daily, take up your cross and follow me.” Every day I’m struggling to remain free and not indulge in the stuff that makes me a slave.

Free to do what?! We are supposed to pursue our freedom to serve one another in love. We are to serve each other in Agape love; that love that looks out for the good of other people and not your own selfish interests. When you have been set free from your indebtedness of sin you show gratitude to God and your human neighbors by serving them in love.

How do you overcome the struggle and make progress in the Spirit?

1. Verse 16 Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. God’s Holy Spirit whispers it doesn’t scream. So you must quiet yourself to hear where God is leading each day. Get quiet in devotion and remove the noise from your life to hear God.

2. Verse 25 Keep in step with the Spirit. Follow God’s leading. Go where he tells you to go and avoid places you know lead you back to slavery.

3. Verse 26. Stay Humble. Do not allow yourself to become conceited and envious of other people. Wanting what other people have leads you back to slavery.

Dear God,

Help me to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to abuse my freedom and make myself a slave all over again. Keep my mind free so that I will not enslave my body from what you have already freed me from. Thank you for setting me free so that I can do your will. Eventhough you set me free I’m glad to be your slave and I’m ready to do your will, by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do You See Any Poor People?

Deuteronomy 15:4
However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you.

I ain't never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn't have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared.... Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain't no good and they die out, but we keep on coming. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out, they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, cos we're the people. -- Ma Joad, Grapes of Wrath

Jesus said, “The Poor we will have amongst us always,” when he was criticized by Judas for letting the woman anoint him with a whole bottle of expensive perfume. It wasn’t the poor Judas was concerned about but himself. Judas use to feign concern for the poor and steal the money for himself. Jesus wasn’t being disconcerting toward the poor but stating the obvious that because we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people we will always have conditions that produce poor people. America’s love affair with Capitalism creates a climate for poor people to exist. It is our responsibility as Christ followers to help the poor. At the moment that Jesus said, “the poor you will have always,” he was being prepared for his crucifixion by the woman who anointed him with a bottle of perfume that cost a year’s wages. After his resurrection Jesus expected his followers to take care of the ‘least of these’….the poor.

Ideally, there are not supposed to be any poor people around us. God promised the Israelites that he would take them to land where they would be “richly blessed.” Is this a preview of post modern suburbia, a place with no poor among you because you are richly blessed? No! There would be no poor people amongst them because the people who were “richly blessed” were supposed to take care of the poor! Whenever we see poverty amongst us we are suppose to do something about it.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8 (New International Version, ©2011)

7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. 8 Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need.

Matthew Barnett of the Dream Center in Los Angeles has one of the best models of ministry in terms of helping the poor. He has a church that has movie stars as members and homeless people as members. He bought a Hospital and turned it into a 24 hour church where the homeless and poor can come for shelter, food, and medicine. What if every church in America had a dream center?

When we help the poor God helps us!

Deuteronomy 15:10-11 (New International Version, ©2011)

10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Memphis, TN is being put to the test to see how we do with our poor. Shelby County (the “richly blessed”) is being put to the test to see how it will treat the majority poor students of Memphis City Schools as the referendum has been passed to merge the two systems. This is not about black or white this is about the “haves and the have nots.” Jesus is going to see if his followers will take care of the poor amongst them or continue to have a Judas spirit and steal the money set aside for the poor. He will also be watching us today to see what we will do when we see poverty. The poor they keep on going because God is on their side and he’s watching the “richly blessed” to see if we will help them.

Dear God,

Help me to create a dream center through our church where the poor can come for help. Help me to create a culture of giving in my church so that there are no neglected poor amongst us. Help me to look for opportunities to help the poor I see everyday even if it’s just buying them a meal or speaking a kind word. Don’t let me be “tight fisted” when it is in my power to help. Use me to eradicate poverty one person at a time.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Teach the Children

Deuteronomy 11:19
Teach them (God’s commandments) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Educating our Children is the number one Civil Rights issue of the 21st century. Our schools are failing all across America. America is behind in its report card when measured against other nations. Educational reform is needed in our schools. Educators are rising up all over the nation with charter schools that seek to teach the children who have been left behind in struggling inner cities. Power Center Academy in Memphis, TN is one of the leading charter schools in the state of Tennessee. Some of the scholars that initially come to the school are three years behind in their proficiency before they are empowered to rise above the mendacity of low proficiency. What’s the difference? Teachers! A good teacher is able to teach 150% of the curriculum in a year while a bad teacher only covers 50%. The difference is good teachers.

Teaching is just not reserved for Public educators. Good teaching starts at home. If our children are going to succeed in school and in life they must be taught at home. You can have book sense with no common sense. You can have zeal without knowledge. You can have lost children who are wandering in the wilderness because they have no moral compass.

When Moses was giving the Israelites’ instruction on how to cross over into the Promised Land he told them to teach the children. Teach the children what? Teach them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, and soul and Jesus would add later, to love your neighbor as yourself. Their success depends upon their knowledge and application of God’s word. Parents have to be the first teacher. What increases the likelihood of a child succeeding in life and against all odds is a good teacher at home and school. Whether you are in the city or the suburbs you need to teach your child by:

1. Talking about God’s commandments when you are at home. Spend time in devotion with your family. Teach the word of God to your children. Help your child with homework. Inspect what you expect.

2. Walking along the road. Communicate with your child and teach them in transit. Use travel time to speak life into your children. Cut the radio down and turn up the communication. Spend time walking, recreating with your children.

3. In your lying down and getting up. Pray with your children every night and every morning. Praying with your child builds their faith and shows them that there is a power higher than anything they will ever come up against.

You can always tell when a child has been taught at home by how they act and treat other people. You must teach what you want to see, and lead by example.

Dear God,
Help me to be a good teacher to my own children first so that I can help the education process in the public schools by sending an obedient child to the classroom. Raise up “God fearing” educators that can create reform around this nation by going the “extra mile” to teach our children with all their heart, mind and soul. The redemption of a nation begins in the homes of its people. Lord God redeem us as we teach our children the ways of you, oh God.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Are You With Him?!

Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guard and warmed himself at the fire. Mark 14:54

It’s amazing how many people stand on the side of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr now that he’s dead. Revisionists have taken bits and pieces from Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech to support just about any and everything. Even Glenn Beck co-opted Dr. King in his march on Washington with the “tea Party” people asking for their country back. Many people say that they would have stood with Dr. King but can you see Glenn Beck marching in Selma, Alabama with Dr. King? Me neither!

What is just as disturbing is how many post-modern people say they love Jesus but they are following him from a distance. We are all well-intentioned especially if we’ve ever experienced the Grace of God through Jesus. Peter loved Jesus! He told Jesus that he would die for him, but Jesus knew otherwise. “Before the cock crows twice you will have denied me three times.”

The night Jesus was to be betrayed by Judas, Jesus along with Peter, James and John went to pray in the garden. He asked his three closest disciples to watch and pray. He came back and found them sleeping in less than an hour. He was deeply distressed and asked them, “Could you not watch and pray with me one hour?” How many times has Jesus come back to catch us sleeping, when we should have been watching and praying. These are crucial hours for believers. There is too much going on for us to be sleeping, we should be watching and praying.

Jesus was arrested and Peter who said, he would be with Jesus no matter what, followed him at a distance. It’s hard for some people to know where we stand because we follow from a distance. If we are with him, why would we follow from a distance?

1. Distance is safe. When we follow from a distance we think that it will keep us from the consequences of going against popular opinion. We try to play it safe but our distance really become detrimental.

2. Distance avoids association. We think that if we hang back nobody will put us with Jesus. It’s not that poplar to be a Christian right now. Dr. King said, “When you serve God the way you are supposed to he will not only get you out of trouble but he will get you into trouble.”

3. Distance avoids implication. Some of us want to follow Jesus but not so close that we could be implicated as a disciple. If some of us were arrested for being followers of Christ there would not be enough evidence to convict us.

4. Distance denies commitment. When we are distant in following Jesus it goes against everything we said on Sunday. Is Jesus some kind of secret lover that you only hang with on Sunday but ignore through the week?

Peter sat with the guards while Jesus was being interrogated. The very people that arrested Jesus and opposed his movement were now sitting with Peter warming by the fire. How can you be with Jesus and sit with his opponents? If we are on the side of Justice we can’t warm ourselves by the fire of convenience with those who diametrically oppose what you believe in. Even when you find yourself sleeping, following from a distance, or sitting with opponents it won’t be long before they recognize who you really are. You can’t hide your voice. They said to Peter, “You are one of his disciples because you talk like him.” After Peter denied Jesus three times the cock crowed twice and he remembered what Jesus said, in spite of his best intentions he denied Jesus. Peter was not with Jesus and sometimes neither are we.

Search your heart today and ask yourself, are you really with Jesus or are you sleeping, following at a distance, or sitting with the opposition?

Dear God,
Help me to be on the side of righteousness. I don’t want to sit on the wrong side of Justice. I have decided to follow Jesus and there is no turning back. Wake us up today so we can hear you clearly and let the world know we are walking with you. The Spirit of the Lord is on me, I can’t hide out with my opponents, he has anointed me preach good news to the oppressed, to set the captives free, give sight to the blind, and to raise the dead. It’s not time to go to sleep, it’s time to wake up the hour is upon us.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Dangers of Apathy

Numbers 32:15
If you turn away from following him, he will again leave all this people in the desert, and you will be the cause of their destruction.

9% of black voters came out in the recent Mayoral election in Chicago. Roland Martin of CNN called it a tragedy and a shame. Midterm elections were not much different, people stayed at home instead of going out to vote. In Memphis as we face this monumental vote to surrender our charter and move toward a unified school system people are extremely apathetic. Out of 410,000 potential voters only 20,000 have voted. If we do not vote “yes,” Shelby County with permission from the Governor will be able to set up special school districts and separate charters that will permanently separate county schools from Memphis City Schools. We could be Detroit, Michigan all over again with hundreds of schools closing because we no longer have a tax base to support our school system. If we remain apathetic in Memphis we will remain stuck in the wilderness of ‘Separate but not equal.’

This Apathy is not germane to Memphis; it is an epidemic that goes all the way back to the time of Moses when he was trying to advance Israel into their promised land. Apathy is a disease of the human spirit which breeds off of the fear of the unknown and the misinformation of the masses.

The children of Israel were poised to cross over into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The children of those who were too afraid to cross over wanted to settle in the suburbs of convenience without going over into the Promised City to fight for the rights of all to possess the Promise. The Reubenites and Gadites who had very large herds and flocks saw that the land on the outer skirts of the city were suitable for grazing and asked Moses for “Special School districts,” v. 5, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.”

Apathy begins when the “haves begin to separate from the Have nots.” Blacks and whites have settled in the suburbs on the outer skirts of the city because we wanted better for our families. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with wanting better for your families as long as we remember that we are connected to a larger movement. We are different tribes of a bigger family. Black, white, brown, beige, we are all part of the human race. There are no blue states or red states, we are the United States of America. One Nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and Justice for all.

Moses asked them, “Shall your countrymen go to war while you sit here? “ God had delivered all of them out of slavery now they wanted to split off and let the rest fight on their own. Moses warned the suburbanites, “if you turn away from following God, God will leave all this people in the desert and you will be the cause of their destruction.”

The dangers of Apathy are:

Corporate failure. If we don’t fight for our brothers and sisters we all could lose. United we stand and divided we fall.

Stagnation. We will remain in the desert. A divided city will continue to have economic and education disenfranchised people in the city and sheltered shallow people in the suburbs vulnerable to the desperation of disposed people. If we don’t help them it will hurt us.

Destruction. If the privileged don’t help the ‘least of these’ we are responsible for our own destruction.

The Reubenites and Gadites a.k.a. the “Suburbanites” told Moses, “we will not return to our homes (suburbs) until every Israelite (inner-city) has received his inheritance.” We can’t rest until every citizen in Memphis, in the inner cities of America has the right to a quality Education. It’s not just about “my kids” but it’s about “our kids,” “America’s kids.”

Dear God,
Help us to awaken from our apathy and vote “yes” for a better school system for America. Help us to take action and fight for Social Justice. We can’t rest until everyone is free and has equal opportunity. I’m ready to fight for the disenfranchised so that all may be able to cross over into the Promised Land.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Embrace the Children

Mark 9:36-37
He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms he said to them, “whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people—African Proverb

How we deal with our children determines the well being of our nation. Our nation is in jeopardy because of how we have mishandled our children in the educational system in the United States of America. Across much of America we have created “failure factories” that push students through ill equipped or worse loses half of them to drop out. Many of these drop outs go on to be criminals that fill up our prisons. It cost more than three times as much to imprison someone than it does to educate them and we pay the bill.

Overcrowded schools, self preserving labor unions, terrible tenured teachers, special school districts all contribute to children being left behind after being pushed forward without an adequate education. While we are pushing power plays, the children are suffering in the margins of impoverished neighborhoods and inadequate schools.

Jesus’ disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest in the new political system that they thought Jesus would be the head of. Jesus told them that power was different in the economy and kingdom of God. The greatest in God’s Kingdom would be the least of these and the greatest would be the servant to the rest. Then right after that Jesus brought one of the least of society, a child, to shift the balance of Power. He embraced the child and said, “Whoever welcomes one of these little ones in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

When we successfully embrace all children we truly embrace Christ. In the movie “Waiting on Superman,” a documentary on the failing school systems in America and the reforms movement of charter schools embracing the children, one of the saddest scenes is when a little black girl in New York sits in her window watching her classmates graduate from kindergarten while she cries because her mother can’t afford to make payments to the Catholic School for tuition.

If Shelby County sets up the special school district 70% of impoverished children will be walled out because of the Power play of adults in the battle of county vs. city. On March 8th Memphians have the power to vote “Yes” to embrace the children or “no” to set up separation between the “haves” and “have nots.”

It’s been said that” Failing communities” cause” failing schools” but it’s failing schools that perpetuate failing communities. We can’t fail our children we must embrace them.

Dear God,
Help Memphians to do the right thing and embrace all of our children. Send Reform through America so we can create schools that will raise the expectation and standard for how we embrace our children. I believe that the children are our future, help us to teach them well so that they can lead the way. Help us to embrace them so that they can see all the beauty that they possess inside.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What Do You Have In Mind?

Mark 8:33
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples he rebuked Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” he said, “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

It is important to know the mindset of the people that are in your inner-circle especially as you try to fulfill the will of God in your life. The closer you get to your goal the more important it is to know the mind set of your closest companions because they can either make you or break you.

Even good people can be bad for you if what they have in mind is not matching God’s will for your life. Often times what people have in mind is what is convenient for them but in opposition to what God’s will is for you. You have to take the time to ask them, what do you have in mind?

Jesus just explained to his disciples that he was about to make the ultimate sacrifice by dying for their sins and be raised back to life after three days. This had never been done before. The disciples were enjoying their teacher. He was just 33years old. The movement was at its peak. People were being healed and delivered. It looked like Israel had finally found its “superman” or its anointed one. Then Jesus started talking about being murdered and being raised from the dead! Peter said, “This ain’t going to happen, I’m not going to let this happen!” Jesus rebuked Peter. He criticized him sharply. He strongly disapproved of his friends sentiments by saying, “Get behind me satan!” Peter wasn’t the devil but he had let the devil use him. Anybody who comes between you and the will of God in your life is being used by the devil. It can even be in the name of “love” and still be from the devil. Love however doesn’t seek its own, but it wants the best for the other person but sometimes what’s best for them can appear to be worse for us.

Jesus says, “You do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men.” God’s ways are different from man’s ways. That’s why the scripture says, “lean not to your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.” The way of God always leads to sacrifice not self-preservation.

Jesus shows us how to have a mindset of sacrifice:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. Verse 34.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it. Verse 35
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Verse 36
What do you have in Mind?

Dear God,

It’s not about me but it’s what you want to accomplish in my life. Search my inner circle. If there is anybody in my inner circle who may block my progress or impede my purpose help me to rebuke them or remove them. I must fulfill my purpose and be about my father’s business. My mind’s made up. No turning back. It’s not my will but your will that I want to be done in my life.

In Jesus Name,