The Greatest Story Ever Told!
Long ago, before iPhones and social media, people used to sit around the table and tell stories. They were stories about adventure, about struggle, about wisdom and folklore, stories that helped us make sense of life and gave us a shared sense of destiny. The Bible is another source of storytelling. No matter who you are or where you are in your life, the bible teaches us that God is never far. It is not about whether we have done good things, rather it is about what He has done for you and I. Jesus understands that we are on different levels and stages which is why I believe the Bible is built around characters and stories to instruct us about our true character and our true God. If we start to thinking too highly of ourselves, If we get too weary trying to lead and start trying to do it our way, If we think we don’t need God and we are prepared to go off on our own, the Bible has much to tell us about how pride goes before the fall and the folly of not trusting wholly in God. We don’t go after God, rather He has come after us, even sending his Son to pay the ultimate price for our failures. it’s a difficult concept to apprehend that Jesus’ life was a ransomed for ours. You must study the Word. But this we know. God’s promises are never void. It is now finished. The victory is ours. All we need do is accept that sacrifice: from the cross to resurrection to eternal life, that is the only pathway to a beautiful mind and a beautiful life. Indeed Saints, it’s the greatest story ever told.
Take Every Thought Captive
Recently, I have been mind doodling on the this verse – “take every thought captive.” found in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. Paul is admonishing the petulant Corinthian Christians that they must dismantle the thinking and arguments that go against God’s word. There was dissension in the ranks. Often, we apply that verse to our own selves, that is, we make an inquiry as to whether there is anything in our thinking that needs to be dismantled or destroyed. Even though in context, this section of scripture was about the struggle between right and wrong thinking believers, I think we can still learn from that verse in asking ourselves whether we are engaged in thoughts or actions that do not promote unity and would not be pleasing to God. But the reason I was contemplating the verse is because to dismantle strongholds is no joke. If we ask God to do a work in us, but there is something hindering us from fully realizing our power to demolish, that can be painful. My friend says when he had to dismantle, it took a while, and as the journey continued, he would weep bitterly because he wanted to hold onto habits and addictions. Wow…I was weeping just listening to that. You gotta be bold and strong to dismantle and demolish…..not from our own strength but from the power of God within. As this world turns, without a guiding light, as we maintain a love for life, and seek to stand bold and beautiful in God’s sight, I’m learning I need to do two things: Let God’s word dismantle me even if it hurts; and ask for his power to tear down strongholds. I’m used to leaning on my intellect but my mind cannot crush errors unless it be renewed. I can only speak of what Christ has accomplished, not me. May the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, my Lord and my Redeemer. Oh Saints, take every thought captive…….
We need to be bold and brave in these times, not in our limited strength, but rather, in the power of the Lord. For who knows but that God has kept us here for such a time as this. We must, the Church must, take a stand. How can we stand by while lives that matter to God bypass our service and love? What will we do to show that righteousness is a standard of God that we live by? These are the exhortations we need to internalize if we the living church is to achieve the commission God has deputized us for on earth. I’m reminded of Esther. To save her people, she had to engage in dangerous acts. But God, was on her side; he used her for such a time as that. And she said, “if I perish, I perish.” Oh Lord, Help us to catch the vision. Where do we stand? Wherever we hear a calling. Whether in your home, school, church, hospital, prison, community, marches, artistry, writing, healing and anywhere humanity needs a blessing. How do we stand? On the message of the Gospel- God is real and we are to love God with all we have and our neighbors as we love ourselves. When do we stand? Daily, from morning to morning as new mercies we see. As my sister friend so fervently preached recently, we need defenders of the faith, Brave-hearts for the time we are living, to the glory of God.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
Come Sing a Song
Who are you singing too these days? And, what are you singing about? Many are singing the blues for they have despair and no hope. Others are singing national anthems because their hope lies only in the government. Yet others have stopped singing period as fear and uncertainty from the enemy has silenced their voices. It’s understandable. Our hearts break over suffering and ignorance. But there is a light in the midst. Let is cling to those who have declared victory over our lives, those who sing the gospel Electra. Because even though it’s so hard to know, as the Winans exclaimed, that God will never give us more than we can bear, we have to speak truth from Heaven above to earthly power.
For though the gospel appear to be crushed to the ground, you gotta know that you know that you know, it shall rise again. For no weapon formed, for no lie told, for no chains shall shackle, for no gun shall silence, for no prison will hold the gospel truth. Why? For nothing, nothing AND nothing is impossible with God. So sing from the heart Saints. Come, sing a song to the rock of our salvation. Oh Come sing a song of joy.
New Mercies I see
You so special Lord
Every time you touch me, my life has grown more
You’re so very special Lord
Every time you touch me, my heart is more
Oh Lord how can you be so special?
Every time you come near me,
You make me
Cry and even
You're So Special Lord
Oh Lord thank you for being so special
And I need you
like a bird needs the sky
Like the grass needs rain
Like a beach needs the ocean
Like a teacher needs a student
Like the homeless need cover
Like a throne needs a king
Like the church needs a preacher
Like a sinner needs a favor (grace)
You’re so special to me Lord....and
Every time you touch me
I’m brand new....again!
Is That All There Is?
A famous Peggy Lee song had these lyrics:
Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is
This popular song is an anthem for many because this world, this culture really, is really all there is for them. They are prepared to admit there is no God, no judgment and no other destination but death by worms. They’ve neither studied, investigated or have knowledge of their origin, purpose and possibility of eternal life. So they live recklessly, choose unwisely, and die spiritually. Sometimes, they pretend to believe, but If they’re honest, they will acknowledge they are defeated, depressed or discouraged at the world they occupy. Whether rich or poor, of color or no color, English speaking or foreign, all suffer the pangs of hopelessness and confusion we hear in this song. But if only they believed this is not all there is. If only they knew there is another way. If only their eyes could be opened to the joy of having a saving creator. For if eyes could see and ears could hear what God has planned for his people, they’d shout, “Oh no, this is not all there is! And if we so choose, we can be part of God’s future world. I pray for the Holy Spirit to help us reach this understanding. For this world is not all there is Saints. Now that’s worth having a party
I love the way MLK Jr spoke about the future of humankind. A theologian and a preacher, he more than any modern thinker, had a deep faith in the nation’s ability to, in Spike Lee’s words, “do the right thing.” He believed we would one day reach a “bright place of peace and brotherhood,” believing that the “weapons of unarmed truth and unconditional love would be the final reality.” Now, more than 50 years later, the country exists in a moral and spiritual quagmire of staggering proportion. Indeed, the sounds of our own destruction can be heard. Weapons not only of war, but weapons fueled by passions of pride, prejudice, privilege and profit and a supreme individualistic ethic.
It’s not that we do not love; it’s that we love “me” more than anything. Facing the uncertainty of mounting pandemic with a backdrop of racial injustice, social tension and rising poverty, the buoyancy of life that MLK Jr spoke of has truly now become the “fatigue of despair.” I believe we are tired even of ourselves, so spiritually bankrupt we have become. Yet, all it takes to practice the audacious faith of MLK Jr is to look up. All it takes to live a moral framework is to follow God’s Word. All it takes to make a better world is to take a road trip to a place called Calvary where the ego is silenced, the spirit is revived and hope lives eternal. I don’t know how long it will take before we realize we are entombed in a crypt of our own making. But God has given us each the capacity each to love or to hate; to choose life or death. Come, Saints, let an audacious faith inhabit our souls and lead us to Life.
Mercy & Grace
The wise know that mercy is not getting what you deserve and grace is getting what you don’t deserve. That’s our situation in today’s world. If we were tried for our crimes against God and each other, for the trampling of the human spirit, we’d have been gone long ago. But the Lord is so “gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Oh praise be to the God of our Salvation....the giver of grace and mercy——whatta gift of Love
Famine in the Land
There is a famine in the land where confusion, hatred and spiritual myopia reigns. From the daily traumas arising out of disease and despair to the rampant acts of global violence, we have become lost, wounded, helpless, hopeless, displaced, ignorant, angry, dispossessed and depressed souls who desperately need life and life more abundantly. If we were to live in the space between the beauty of each sunrise and the gore of each sundown, I should despair.
But oh there is a third space, where the glory of the Lord resides and we find our purpose and our refuge. And we pray: pleading for the people God loved so much he gave His son’s life; pleading for the plate of knowledge filled with grace and mercy, light and truth. As Marvin the Gaye asked so long ago:.."can we bring some loving here today.” Oh Saints, can we get on board this gospel train that runs eternal? .....Father Father, we don't need to hesitate.....for there’s a famine in the land and love is what we need.
Recently, I was reminded how sometimes we fail to show others the grace that God shows us when we fail. How you ask? By sometimes using our tongues to whip people into righteousness. We mean well don’t we? And after all, we are right, aren’t we?! Yet, through the lens of that other person, it doesn’t feel right. It takes courage to tell a loved one how they can’t hear what we say for how we say it. Beloveds, we have a responsibility in our journey of faith toward spiritual maturity to see through the lens of others and what they might need to get on the right road.
To complain rarely results in change. And we who have the same human stain, how can we judge? Yes, we all need to “get right,” but the right prescription is found in the pharmacy of brother James on how to help ourselves: be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. James 1:19. If God can be patient with us, why can’t we be patient with others? After all, and thankfully so, God is not through with us yet.