“Going to Church” today is a good thing. Just remember that you are the church; therefore the question is: Are you having church at home? When we worship, study the Scripture, pray and intercede for others at home, we make “Going to Church” real. Your personal relationship with God and your “Home Church” it is the foundation of knowing Jesus in an intimate way. If you are just staying home with the family, even as you do your personal and family devotions, but are not in fellowship with other brothers and sisters, you are lacking. If you are “Going to Church” but have no personal relationship with Jesus and no family time with HIM, you are lacking even more.
For years we look at civil right leaders and politicians to pass laws and new policies to address and resolve the painful issue of racism. The civil right movement was powerful enough to influence the politicians in our nation and force them to change laws, implement policies, establish rights, expand opportunities and fight for equality. They have indeed done a remarkable job! However, it is evident that racism continues to be a very sensitive topic in this country, judging by the reaction that insensitive racial comments provoke in our society.
On August 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King delivered what is consider by many, the most powerful and beautiful speech in the history of the United States, the “I Have a Dream Speech”. As I prepare for this article, I decided to listen to Dr. King’s famous speech once again. I went online searching for this video and found many. I also found a disturbing note attached to one of these videos that reads: “Comments disabled since many of them were hateful and racist…” “Where did the dream go? Are we fighting an uphill battle? Would that dream ever become a reality?”
Today, I am challenging the “Church” in America (Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, Jews, etc.) to take a deeper look at these issues and to refuse to fall into what has become The Lucrative Business of Civil Rights. Many are hiding behind the attractive platforms of the outer shell fight against racism to display their hate for America with fancy words in the form of dynamic speeches. They have personal agendas that have nothing to do with the teachings of Dr. King. They are false prophets carrying empty ecumenical titles to legitimize the venom of what they are standing for. Sadly, people are becoming members of churches all across America supporting this ungodly and unbiblical movement where hating and cursing America is acceptable and applauded under a shadow of a Gospel that is nowhere to be found in the Bible.
It is understandable for the secular world to address these issues in this matter. However, we, God’s people, must look at the issue of racism from a Biblical prospective. Not one policy, not one law against racial discrimination is able to change the human heart. We must also point out that, #1. Racism is a sin and #2. Racism is not exclusively an American abnormality. The website “allaboutpopularIssues.org” tell us: “Racism world-wide is manifested in every continent.”
Not only that racism is manifested all over the world, racism was also one of the first issues found in the primitive church. (Galatians 2:11-14) Paul called this behavior “Hypocrisy”. If you are the pastor of a church in America and the majority of your people look like you or like each other and you are not making any efforts to promote the unity of the Body of Christ, you are carrying on the banner of that same hypocrisy. There is no Biblical room for segregation in the church.
“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Col 3:11)
While among the Christian community there is no room for racism, the reality is that racism will intensify in the world; it is part of the end time social reality. Jesus said in Matthew 24:7
“For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom…”
The word “nation” comes from the Greek word “ethnos.” It is from where we get the word “ethnic” which can be defined as, “Relating to a group or groups in society with distinctive cultural traits.” What Jesus is telling us in Mathew 24:7 is that an ethnic group will rise against another. We may ask, is Dr. King’s dream hopeless? It is clear, according to Scripture, that for the world it is. We will see more hate manifesting among ethnic groups, not only in America, but around the world as we approach the last days. However, among God’s people; God’s holy nation; the dream lives and will come to pass by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the force of willing vessels and hearts. The world will finally be able to see that we are disciples of Christ by our color blind love for one another.
Martin Luther King documentary:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJOV-rUPGCE
“Five Basic Principles of Biblical Forgiveness”
Recently, I have engaged in a study about forgiveness. I was certain that I knew all the basics that I needed to know. Many times we hear so much about a topic that we, without knowing, turn our listening off and move on to the next issue. However, as I studied further, I found some very interesting and practical facts about forgiveness.
1. We must recognize our own condition as sinners: Without the clear revelation that we are sinners and that we need God’s mercy we will never be able to forgive anybody. Forgiveness is a test for our hearts and consequently gives us a clear indicator of where we are spiritually in our walk with the Lord. Psalms 130: 3 tells us, “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” As long as we assume that we can stand while we blind ourselves from our own need for forgiveness we will be jammed spiritually.
2. We are all called to always forgive; no exceptions: Matthew 18:21-22 tells us, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.” There is never a reason to run out of reasons to forgive. Forgiveness is more than about the person that sinned against you, it is about the condition of your heart. Lack of forgiveness is lack of understanding of the reality of the Gospel.
3. Our Forgiveness for others is connected to God’s forgiveness for us: Matthew 6:14-15 establishes this very serious truth, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” We try to ignore this reality, but un-forgiveness can have devastating consequences.
4. Forgiveness is a promise not to ever bring the sinned committed against you back up again: To continue to bring the offense up repetitively it is a clear indicator that we have not forgiven. Our example of how to forgive is God Himself and in His Word He tells us in Jeremiah 31:34, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
5. Forgiveness is not complete without purposely and actively going after reconciliation: In the book, “Forgive! As the Lord Forgave You” Mr. Patrick H. Morrison made an excellent point.
“Frequently, it is said, ‘I can forgive, but can never forget.’ Actually this cliché misses the point; the issue is not forgetting but forgiving. The notion of ‘forgive and forget’ implies abandoning rather than healing the relationship.”
2 Corinthians 5:18 clearly states that we are all called to the ministry of reconciliation, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation…” Many times people struggle with the idea of what they’re called may be; one of many calls is the universal call to the beautiful ministry of reconciliation. The word reconciliation means, “A return to God’s favor.” Reconciliation also strongly implies a return to fellowship with God and with each other.
Do you have un-forgiveness in your heart? Give that pain to the Lord; He will give you a heart to forgive and set you free from the chains of un-forgiveness.
This is the most Christ-like statement I have heard on the Ground Zero Mosque so far; by my good friend Dennis Owen:
I still think we should focus our energies on sharing the grace and love and mercy of Jesus, not fighting the construction of buildings and worship centers of other faiths. Hate and revenge are not Christian values. Fear and intolerance are not fruits of the Spirit. Instead, Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, and to even love our enemies. Love doesn’t fight mosques. The love of Jesus demands that we love Muslims. Period. For in the end, love wins.
Pray for our schools! They took prayer out of school, but prayer can’t never be taken out of you!
A prayer guide to pray for our schools:
Father, it is our desire that every teacher in Jacksonville would come into a personal relationship with You through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We ask that You would grant every teacher of Windy Hill school, who does not know You, the gift of repentance and the faith necessary to trust in You alone for their salvation. Empower each one of them to turn to You in genuine faith, and receive the forgiveness that You offer so freely (John 3:15-18, 6:44; Acts 4:12, 17:30-31).
Father God, bless those teachers and administrators at Windy Hill School, who do know You, the courage to fulfill their role as ambassadors to Your kingdom. Provide them the grace and power necessary to truly be the beacon of righteousness lighting a path for each student and teacher in this school. Teach them to speak with prudent boldness as they depend on Your Spirit’s leading. (Prov. 28:1; Matt. 5:13-16; Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8, 4:31).
Father of all truth, we ask that you would be known as the source of all truth throughout the schools in our city. Place your truth into the hearts of all the teachers of Windy Hill school. Give them a hunger to know and teach the truth, while empowering the students with the ability to receive it. As alternatives to your truth are presented, grant the teachers discernment as to how to properly handle any lie that comes against the knowledge of Your truth. (Prov. 22:17; John 18:38).
Father, bless the teachers of Windy Hill school with the wisdom to know how to reach and teach each student. Grant them your insight into the individual learning needs. Open their eyes to the many different ways each student can be trained, encouraged, and taught the discipline of learning. Grant them special insight into the needs of any disruptive children, filling these teachers with the compassion to effectually deal with them. (Prov. 2:6; James 1:5; Prov. 22:15).
Praying For the Students
Lord God, We lift up every child in our Jacksonville schools who does not know you. We pray that you would reveal your love and power to each one individually at Windy Hill School. . Invite each one to know you and grant also the power to turn to you and away from all sin and unrighteousness. Open the eyes of their heart to see you as you truly are in the fullness of Your glory. Encourage those that do know you to boldly speak the truth. (Eph. 1:18, 1Tim. 2:4)
Father God, we ask that You would help the students of Windy Hill school to develop healthy relationships with each other. Bless them with compassion, respect, and understanding for one another. Set them free from any unhealthy relationships that would lead away from the knowledge of you. Empower the youths who know you to lead out by example. (Ex. 20:12-17; Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39; Eph. 4:32).
Father, assist these children in the finding of their identity in Jesus. You knew each child before they were born, and can speak more to who they are than the world can. Help them find out who they are and discover that they are created in your image. Free them from the world’s labels and empower them to be everything you created them to be.
Father we ask for your divine protection for each child attending Windy Hill School. We urgently ask that you would keep them from any harm. Protect them spiritually, bodily, and emotionally as you guide them safely and cover them under the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 91:1-2; 4:8, Is. 43:2)
DESIRE for LEARNING:
Lord, in your Word, you said to “apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge”. Because of this we ask that you would give each student here at Windy Hill School a real hunger to learn. Grant each child a teachable spirit and free them to exercise every ability for learning that you placed within them. Since you don’t make mistakes, help each child to walk in the confidence that they can learn anything and everything that you want them to. It is but for the asking. (Prov. 23:12; James 1:5)
Lord we pray for the parents of each student here at Windy Hill School. We ask that you would grant them the love and wisdom that each child needs as they learn and grow in maturity. Father please help equip them with the inner strength and convictions that are needed to create and uphold healthy boundaries for these children. Grant them the vision to reach out to You and to others for refreshing and perspective. Give them peace and perseverance as they offer stability and love to their children.
Let me talk to you today about a place where your abilities are justifiably a reason for mockery; where the waters are not found in the rivers; where the coasts of the earth dry out; where the oceans return to the heavens. It’s a place where the singer lost his old songs that once lifted his soul; a place where arguments seems forever rising against you; a place where your bad decisions catch up with you and shame forcefully take possession of your mind. This place is where God seems so distant; the place where the insults of your sin oppress your conscience. A place where you find yourself trapped in the center of a maze. Your friends are gone! They shake their heads when your name is mentioned in their conversations away from you.
Who will lift up your head? Who will make a new road of dreams and purpose for you? Who will shut the mouth of your enemies? Who will restore your soul and fill you with the gladness you once had? Who will pick you up from your misery? Who will erase your tears? Only One, the Lover of my soul, my Mighty Warrior, my Defender, the One that loves me countless times more than my own mother.
You quickly realize that there’s nowhere else to go. The world gladly announces your end, “You are finished!” they joyfully shout. Yet, as you grasp for air in your desperation; as your faith is almost gone and you find not much to hold on to, your soul cries “I am sorry Lord! Help me!” Suddenly, the thunder of His love for you shakes the foundation of all reasoning. Can you see Him running now? Yes, it is the Lord! He is coming to rescue me like a skillful soldier in the middle of the night! Can you hear the sweet sound of His mercies? The enemy trembles at the fragrance of your grace and the aroma of your salvation.
In my brokenness You are whole and in my weakness You are strong. From the presence of the Most High God I stand and lift up my hands to Him who is worthy. Then you pick me up like a daddy picks up his child after a long walk and you hold me like a mother in the long nights. You hide me under the tender shadow of your wings. I am going to make it; I know I will, for it is my beginning at the end of the road.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” Going after Jesus our own way is vanity. Two things must take place if we want to properly go after Him:
- We must deny ourselves: The word “Deny” means, “Lose sight of one’s self and interest.” Following Jesus requires that you and I get to the conclusion where we recognize that outside of Jesus we are nothing. He does not want a little of us left, He wants all of us to get out of the way. We must get to the conclusion that in order to follow Jesus, we must deny our will, our desires, our emotions and our feelings. We must conclude that “self” is worthless. Following Jesus without denying “self” is against Scripture.
- We must take up our cross: The flesh fights against the Spirit of God in us (Galatians 5:17) and against our own souls (1 Peter 2:11). The only way to achieve victory over the desires of the flesh is by walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). The flesh has no hope of ever being converted, refined or reformed. The flesh will always be in a war against the holiness of God. That cross is for us to nail the desires of the flesh every day. Luke explained in a more aggressive way as he tells us in Luke 14:27, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Without the willingness to carry our cross, Jesus can’t receive us as His disciples.
We can’t properly follow Jesus if we refuse to deny ourselves and if we refuse to carry the pain of the cross. There is no other way; we must go the way of the cross. Do you know what is wrong with the church today? Do you want to know why we are so divided? We blame racism, differences in doctrines, cultures, social classes, etc. All of that is the end-result of one thing and one thing only; you want to know the answer to these questions? Do me a favor, let’s go right now and look at ourselves in the mirror… Yeah, that’s right! We are the problem! However, once we make up our minds to deny “self” and carry our individual crosses we will be in right order to biblically follow Christ. It is then that, as we surrender to God’s Word, we find ourselves changing, dying to self and being more and more like Jesus as we become less and less like ourselves!
I must first admit that I am not an expert in politics however; I do enjoy the subject and have studied this topic. I understand enough to know that politics affect our lives; therefore I like to pay attention to what is going on in this area. I also see that we have a great need to stop viewing politics as a generational and racial thing: “My dad is republican so I must be Republican.” “I am a minority so I must follow Obama.”
American Politics 101 tells us that the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are different in their perspectives of how the government should carry out their duties. History has also told us that throughout the years these ideologies have changed. There are basically two ideals: A liberal view and a conservative view. Some are further right and some are further left.
The liberal view has the tendency to move away from the absolutes of God; places great focus on Government Programs as the savior for the people and demand high taxes to pay for these programs. Liberals are, for the most part, okay with the practice of abortion. They see it as a right for the woman to do so. Liberals are also, for the most part, okay with same sex marriage. Radical Liberals have little respect for what the Bible has to say about things; they have also little respect for the constitution. Everything that represents an absolute, they will question. So is God a Democrat? I don’t think so!
So then, God must be a Republican? I don’t think so either; because the Republican Party today has lost its identity. They seem to be scared of the liberal media so, they go back and forth; it is almost like they are ashamed of showing a conservative view. Their colors are currently pastel. The bold colors that President Reagan spoke about are currently out the window in the Republican Party. They have no identity, so they can’t be identified with God’s Character.
So then, God must be Conservative like the top conservative radio personalities in the US: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage. Politically speaking, they are appealing to many people. They believe in small government, lower taxes, strong defense and they seem to have a passion and love for this country that I do not sense in the Democratic Party. However, if you listen to these guys like I have, ask yourselves these questions: Do these guys represent the character of our God in their messages? Do they promote praying for our leaders? Do they promote loving our enemies? Other than talking, what else are they doing to help our nation get closer to God? One of these Radio personality praises a friend of his for walking up every day at 4:00 AM to go to work, returning back home to his family at 9:00 PM Monday through Friday and also working Saturday and Sunday. The man provided all that his family needed; but did he really? It seems like they worship capitalism! Is that what God tells us to do? What about raising our children, what about spending quality time with the family. Is it all about money? The conservative movement operates from a legalistic view of God and there seems to be very little grace. So is God conservative? I am going to let you be the judge of that; now you can engage in your discussion as I am eager to read what you have to say.
“Nineteen responsibilities for one another”
It is important that we understand that these nineteen responsibilities that we are suppose to be doing for one another are above any culture. We may say that some of these responsibilities are not culturally sound, but in reality they apply to all of us. The culture of the Bible goes above any of our individual ways of doing things. These responsibilities were taken directly out of the Bible.
|1. Confess Your Sins to One Another (James 5:16)
2. Pray for One Another (James 5:16)
3. Encourage One Another (Hebrews 10:25)
4. Honor One Another (Romans 12:10)
5. Receive One Another (Romans 15:7)
6. Teach One Another (Romans 15:14)
7. Salute One Another with a Holy Kiss (Romans 16:16)
8. Serve One Another (Galatians 5:13)
9. Bear One Another’s Burden (Galatians 6:2)
10. Be Kind to One Another (Ephesians 4:32)
11. Be Tenderhearted to one Another (Ephesians 4:32)
12. Forgive One Another (Ephesians 4:32)
13. Edify One Another (I Thessalonians 5:11)
14. Consider One Another (Hebrews 10:24)
15. Have Compassion for One Another (I Peter 3:8)
16. Be Hospitable to One Another (I Peter 4:9)
17. Fellowship with One Another (I John 1:7)
18. Love One Another (I John 3:11)
19. Lay down Our Lives for One Another (I John 3:16-18)
Have you considered the power of these words? Have you been able to see how far we are from even the direction of a strong relational Body of Christ? Can’t you see that a “God bless you relationship” on Sundays is not enough according to God’s standards?
“Father, not only do we struggle with loving you above all things, but we also struggle with loving each other. Father, we want to please you; help us to love you above all things and, for this article’s sake, help us to be able to have such strong relationships with one another so that we may confess our sins, pray, encourage, honor and receive one another. Help us father to teach each other and not be afraid of saluting our brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. Help us oh Father to serve each other, to bear each other’s burdens, to be tenderhearted, to forgive, to edify, to consider, having compassion, to be hospitable, to learn to fellowship, to love and to be able to lay down our very lives for one another. Father help us to be a real family and to be able to go beyond the conflict into the successful passing of the test where we can never be easily offended. May no one feel alone in the mix of your people. Make us real towards one another. Do it in me first. In Jesus name… Amen!”
“It is time for leaders to get a little closer”
Our issues with the shallow relationships we have in our American churches must also be addressed from the top to bottom. This mentality that our leaders should be unapproachable is biblically wrong. Perhaps they like the accruements and so, want to be viewed by others as perfect people that can’t do wrong, however let’s look at First Thessalonians 5:12.
|“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you…”|
| The word “beseech” means, “I pray! Please! I beg you!” Paul is not making a light casual suggestion; this is important. The word “know” means, “To be acquainted with.” How can we become acquainted with pastors to whom the only time we see them is from the pulpit? Many, after they are done preaching, leave the building like arrogant rock stars with body guards on each side. If your church is too big, then you failed to raise up disciples to send out and continue the work of the ministry. It seems like we rather have members than to engage in true discipleship. It is impossible to raise disciples without going through the pain of establishing tested relationships.
I went through churches where I needed to go through a secretary to see the pastor. In critical points in my life, I was in great need to talk to the pastor, but there were no appointments open until the following month. I was surely not missed among so many members. I also had pastors who were more interested in my gift than in me as a person. They always told me what I wanted to hear. I was a part of their personal agendas for the benefit of their ministries. I later became a pastor myself and saw firsthand how many of my colleagues refused to fellowship with their sheep. They presumed to think that fellowshipping with their sheep was a way of asking for trouble and that it was best to keep the distance. I guess we find ourselves afraid that people may know that we are not as perfect as we look like from the beautiful wooden pulpit. What a comical perspective!
As I grow in the Lord and learn from my many mistakes, I also grow in my appreciation for my first and only pastor. I can sincerely say that I love and respect him more today than I did when I was younger. Why? Because this man have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in me and he still loves me. He tells me the truth; he confronts me in love and never leaves me without a word of encouragement. He is literally one phone call away. At the end of the day, in my difficult times, after the Lord, it is my pastor who can effectively speak into my life. It is time for leaders to get a little closer! It may be painful, but it will always be worth it!