B.asic I.nstructions B.efore L.eaving E.arth

I used to sleep with a bible under my bed, because I thought it gave me safety to have a black pleather bible that I wold read on some Sundays and special occasions.  There was security in knowing that it was under my pillow.  No bad dreams could get me and every sin committed would not come back to me. Crazy: that I would put so much trust in pieces of folded paper.   Bad as that sounds, it’s not unlike what we do when we open the bible today.

The bible for many of us is the book that we go to to get nuggets of good wisdom to get us through our day.  A magic amulet that can ward of all evil and give us all knowledge.  It is B.asic I.nstructions B.efore L.eaving E.arth.  While it does have tremendous wisdom for life and living, the bible is more than just the “B.I.B.L.E.”  The bible is a book that from cover-to-cover is a book about Jesus.  The Old Testament is Jesus concealed.  He is the good news prophecy made in Genesis 3:15.  He is the fourth man in the fiery furnace.  He is the Wonderful Counselor spoken of in Isaiah.  He is where the temple and all the pieces of furniture in the temple point.  The Old Testament is about Jesus.  The New Testament is about Jesus.

That is what separates the Bible from any other book such as the Koran and the Book of Mormon.  The Bible isn’t a Good Book amongst many.  It is God’s progressive revelation about the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ.  No other book was designed to grow your faith in Jesus and his ability and desire to save people.  When you pick up other books you may read good things and get good principles.  When you pick up the Bible you read about a good God-man, Jesus!  The bible was designed by God the Spirit to help us see Jesus as God and grow our faith and dependence on him.  “Faith (in Jesus) comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”  Romans 10:17. Stop reading it for good sayings and good quotes, begin to prayerfully read the bible to see Jesus and watch your faith in Him come alive.

Christians Gone Wild: Only Dumb People Hear From God 1 Cor. 2,3

This is out of our Bible Study Series entitled:  “Christians Gone Wild.”  Arrogant and worldly Christians usually trust their own wisdom and the wisdom from popular books, authors, celebrities, and even pastors.  We brag about our what we know and who we follow.  Our affirmation and our sense of well being comes from this stuff.  Through the Holy Spirit God calls for us to be “dumb” so that we can be wise through Him.  Be empowered by Jesus!

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Why I Preach the Gospel and Why You Should Too

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the single greatest force for change that the world has ever known.  I grew up trying to figure out in which arena I could make the most change in the world.  I first believed that politics was the area in which wholesale change could be made in the world.  I believed that if you became President of an organization or President of the United States of America that you could enact changes in policy that would make sure that we conquered poverty, world hunger.  I believed that if good people were put into office we could change the world.  At some point, I figured out that politics at its root was filled with compromise and corruption.  I did not believe that real change could happen through a political system. I vote, but not with hope. My hope then shifted into the financial arena.  I saw that people who had economic clout could earn and buy power.  You didn’t have to be the politician who changes things.  You can be the person who supports the politician who changes things.  But I began to see that even money at the end loses its power.  Our school system is broke, but at the heart of it is not actually money.  It’s a commitment to educate children rather than train them to be monkeys who are able to regurgitate bits of information.  It’s a commitment to teachers who would spend the time to make sure that they are not just socially promoting kids.  Its about parents who will recommit their time to making sure that children have the support they need at home.  The problem is more than just money.  At some point, I figured that no matter how much money or power you had, the real issue was the heart.  That people at their core are wicked and deceitful and did things, even good things, to their advantage. People at the core just don’t want to do the right thing.

I began to see that the root cause of all poverty, disease, homeless, etc. was sin.  People are poor because rich nations don’t want to share with poor nations, because it is not in their national self-interest.  Approximately 3/7ths of the world’s riches reside in the United States of America and the rest of the world (well over 300 countries) share 4/7ths.  HIV is killing communities, but if everybody decided that they would have one lifetime sexual partner, we would eradicate AIDS within one generation.  But it is impractical, because sin exists, and people want to do generally what they want to do, regardless of whether it hurts God or other people.  No politician and no amount of money can change people’s HEARTS.

That is why the gospel (good news) of Jesus is needed – because when people believe in the good news concerning Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit regenerates them and transforms them into a new creature. John 3:5, 2 Cor. 5:17.  That person now has the ability to love God and to love people.  That’s why we need more people who will share this message with their loved ones with their neighbors and with everyone they meet.  Our communities can be one where the smell of brotherly love is in the air.  The early church communities experienced this, when there was need among them they gave everything they had, so that none among them would suffer want.  Acts 2:38-45.  They gave like this because God had transformed their hearts and radically changed their focus from temporal blessings to the enjoyment of their fellowship with an eternal God.  We need more preachers.  I’m not talking about Sunday talkers, but Monday walkers.  Share the message of Jesus living, dying, and being resurrected for your eternal life with God with all that you meet.  Live as if this is true in your life and watch God transform the people around you.

If you want to see more about how this message changed the world read the book of Acts.

Letter to my sister: Erykah Badu

Sister Badu, I’ve been a fan of your music since you have been on the scene since Baduizm.  You were representing D-Town (Dallas) when no one else dared to and for that I am extremely grateful.  I even heard stories about you being a rapper before you were a singer from people who knew you from the North Dallas Area. (Even D.O.C. wouldn’t represent Dallas, but you did!)

I woke up one Monday morning, to read an article in an online paper concerning the video for your song “Window Seat.”  I must confess that I had not viewed the video (for reasons I will share later) until after your response to my tweet.  I apologize if it seemed as if my tweet purported to be fact and I wanted to make sure that you knew it was my opinion.

Here was my original tweet:

Let’s call it wht its: @fatbellybella stripped 2 sell records & get attention. (sic)its wht its… Have a gd morning ths morning!

You responded with this tweet:

sir, I make ZERO dollars from saling (sic) records you are ill informed and Jesus would not like it one bit .u leading the people wrong

You also tweeted this after I asked for more clarity:

peace I meant you were being quite judgemental w/out a bit of proof nor truth and led the reader to believe u were an authority

After looking at your tweet, I thought about it.  By the way, your tweet was hilarious and it made my day.  I agree with you that my tweet may have come off as fact. I sincerely apologize if I offended you by not stating that is was my opinion.  Although I still stand the content of what I said, I think I should have made it more clear what I actually thought.

After some thought, I decided to view the video, so that I could see  your work and respond with more insight.  I also read the interview that you did on this blog: and found your response to be enlightening.  This is my take on the video:

My Observations of Your Video

In the video, I saw your angle about “groupthink” — that people shouldn’t be afraid to do something out of the ordinary.  I also saw how you were assassinated, died and were “reborn” a new person.  It reminded me of another person that happened to:  Jesus Christ.

The JFK angle was an interesting touch.  You shot the video on the “grassy knoll” outside the library.  In the beginning of the video, you jumped out of a 60’s style white town car, sort of like the one JFK was riding in when he was assassinated.

There were multiple messages including death and rebirth, being an individual, and the bondage of groupthink.  It was just like you said there were multiple messages and people could have taken a lot out of the video. Even the filming of the video of itself was new and cutting edge. The video was different from a lot of videos made today.

The Goodness of Art

Sister, I believe that all art is created by God and through Jesus Christ. Gen 1:1, John 1:2.  And when God created art he created it good.  Gen. 1:31, John 1:1.   Good art is beautiful and reminds us of the beauty of God.

When Satan came in the garden he corrupted what God had created, by tempting man to sin, which Adam gave into. Genesis 3.  The very creation that God had beautifully declared to be good was marred and disfigured by sin.  Marriage was distorted. Relationships were distorted. Music was distorted. Art was distorted.  Because of Man’s sinful nature and the influence of Satan, art created pure and for God’s glory has been defiled.

“Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.” – Tim Keller

How does this relate to art?  When art or anything else becomes the place by which we build our life and gives us meaning, it becomes a God thing.  It takes us farther than we ever really wanted to go and it morphs from a good thing to something that we worship  — a God thing, as Mark Driscoll would say.

I believe that your video had many messages that were good and thought–provoking, but I think it crossed the line from a good thing to a God thing, when the body that God gave you to glorify him was used to glorify Art.  Sister, you are a beautiful soul, but your body was meant for the view and enjoyment of your husband.  Part of the reason why I was so reluctant to watch it was because I didn’t want to look at what did not belong to me.  God loves the fact that two married lovers can enjoy each other’s body.  So your body wasn’t wrong, the purpose you used it for was wrong.  The ironic thing is that the potentially good messages that were portrayed in your video were devalued and even demonized by a good number of males, because they were staring at your buttocks.

If I had to shorten my statement, for some people the video became pornography.  For proof, look at some of the YouTube message boards.  They were filled with men lusting after you and fulfilling their selfish desires with your body.  They missed the message and you became the object of their affection and worship.  As one who has struggled with porn, I know.  Porn has destroyed many of my relationships, and it helped me to view women as objects of art to be worshipped, rather than a human being created in the image of God.

Does that mean art is bad thing?

No, art can be redeemed.  It is why Jesus Christ left heaven and came to earth.  More than assassinated, he was appointed by God the Father to die.  It was Jesus Christ destiny to die at the hands of his Father.  The bible declares that it pleased God the Father to crush his own son? Isaiah 53:11.  Why? God must punish sin, and instead of taking his wrath and vengeance out on us, who have no righteousness, he took it out on his own Son. Romans 3:10  What happened to Jesus was more than assassination— it was atonement.  He died for us ungodly human beings.  Romans 5:8. Jesus then rises again in three days in a new, glorified body, never to die again.  John 21.   In fact, He is now in heaven as the Man. Acts 1:8,9  His resurrection is the beginning of a New World Order full of love and peace that will see its fulfillment when he comes back again.  This old world is quickly dying.

How does this relate to art?

Well Jesus isn’t only going to redeem people, but he is going to redeem his creation and that includes art. Romans 8:21‑39.  Jesus will rule with his redeemed people on this redeemed earth.  People will be changed by the glory of their Savior.  2 Cor. 4:4‑6.  Some of these changed people will then begin to take back and transform that which the devil has corrupted — like art.

In various art forms and genres, God is precisely taking those art forms and reconciling them back to Him for his glory!  For instance check out Sho Baraka and his video, “We Can Be More.”

When Christ-followers view or listen to anything artistic, they should ask the question: does this work of art bring fame (glory) to the name of God and to his Son Jesus Christ.  I Cor. 10:11.  No, everything that gives God glory doesn’t have to say his name.  A beautiful sunrise declares his glory.  I also believed that some of your songs do that as well.

Sister Badu, am I asking you to change what you do?  Actually no, I’m not.  I’m a Christian preacher and I have learned that telling people to stop sinning that may not be Christian is pointless.  No sister, I’m looking deeper.

In your video, you died and were reborn a queen.  There was a part of you that you felt died while shooting this video.  I think this is similar to what God is calling us to do.  He is calling us to die to ourselves and our desire to run our life, and follow Christ.  That’s death to idolatry, to sin, and ultimately to our selves and our right to exist outside of the plan of God.  On the flip side, God raises us up in new life with Christ so that now we have freedom.   We are now a kingdom of priests – a royal priesthood.

I don’t know if you believe that Jesus Christ is your Master and Savior, but God leaves you with a decision to make.  It will be the biggest decision of your life.  If you repent from your sins and trust that the Lord Jesus rose again from the dead you shall be saved.  Romans 10:9.  The result of you making that decision will be new life with Christ Jesus forever.  If you say no to Jesus, you are essentially saying to God, “I’m fine, I will bear your wrath, myself.”  Embrace the Love of your life.  I John 4:10.  Sister Erykah, I desperately want to see you in the “Next Lifetime.”

With much Love and Affection from your brother in this life and, God-willing, the next,

P. Ngwolo

“I Aint Never Scurred” Romans 1:16-17

If you find yourself ashamed sometimes of sharing your faith, “I Ain’t Never Scurred” might be the message for you!

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Religion vs. Gospel (Part 2) A Shift in Perspective

According to Matt Chandler from the Village Church, Christians look at the world through a number of lenses:

• People who look through a Religious lens think that God gets obedience from you from bearing on your guilt and shame and crushing you into submission.

• People who look at the world through the Gospel lens see that God frees you up to love and walk in the joy of obedience by bearing your guilt and shame Himself.

Even though I knew it was a free gift God gave me, I realized that I was feeling guilty and that the guilt was not of God. I was living my life like any Muslim, Hindu, or other religious person who thought that the way to God was through checking off things on a spiritual to-do list.

When I committed a “big” sin [insert the big sin for a young man, lol] I found myself running away from God like Adam in the garden and I knew that something was wrong. Christ was my Savior and Lord, but I wasn’t enjoying my freedom. I had too many rules, too many things that I could or could not do. Most of them were not in the Bible. I could not go to clubs. I could not party. I could not drink. I could not listen to this music or that music. I had not really examined why I wasn’t doing these things. I didn’t do those things because I observed that most church folk didn’t do them.   There was a joy missing from my life that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

When Jesus says that he who the Son sets free is free indeed, I didn’t feel that way (John 8:36). In my heart, I knew that I had the wrong perspective.

My problem was that I was too focused on getting myself together and doing things out of duty. It was soulless, joyless work. I knew that God wanted my heart to be in what I did. He wants a cheerful giver. He wants people to love Him and do things out of love. (I Cor. 13I John 4). I was doing some of the things out of a sense of obligation.

How is this love possible? I began to see that I needed to spend quality time with the Lord. Not just a quiet time where I fell asleep with my head buried in the bible, but real quality time, where I really try to communicate with God. The more we spend quality time with God, He is able to transform our mind. Rather than focus on my to-do list, I focus now on Jesus Christ and getting to know Him. As He transforms me, I feel His love more and more and I am able to love others as He does. As I commune with Him, I am able to follow and walk by the Spirit of God.

Now, I understand that I don’t have to carry a spiritual to-do list. Because when you truly love God and his people, you won’t steal from them, you won’t sleep with somebody who is not your wife, and you won’t lie against another person. What was hard for you because it was an obligation is now easy for you because you are now doing it out of love. And when I do sin (which is quite often) I can quickly and confidently go to him and confess what I have done, knowing that it is only by the grace given to me by God that I have access to him anyway. God desires to change my heart and through changing my heart, my behavior follows. Kinfolk, do you feel free?

(To be continued)

Does "Having Faith" Matter?

“Just have faith!”  “I have faith that I could make it happen.”  “You’ve just got to believe.”  I always hear that word “faith,” but I never could understand what they were talking about.  What do you mean by “faith?”  And where do I place my “faith.”  In you?  In me?  In Wall Street?  In my appearance?  In my wealth?  In my ability to overcome?  Where?

Every human being has faith and places it somewhere.  Let’s define faith has having trust in something or someone. Everybody trusts something or someone.  In order to exist, you have to believe in something.  It is foundational to human existence.  People trust parents, people, drugs, family, sex, jobs, money, love, science, and so on.  Since everybody trusts in something, the question now changes.  Before it was “Do you have faith?”  Now it is “Where do you place your faith?”  Do you trust created things that fade away, get old, or runaway, or do you trust the One who is eternal in his power, splendor, and magnificence?

Faith cannot stand by itself.  In order for faith to matter, it must be attached to a person or a thing that can deliver!  For instance, what if the Indianapolis Colts were playing the Cleveland Browns, and you picked the Cleveland Browns to win because you had “faith.” I know that the Cleveland Browns haven’t won more than 6 games in the last two years, so I would pick Indianapolis and watch you lose the bet because the team you chose to put your trust in has no power.  Whether you win the bet depends upon the team you picked.  If you picked the losing team, I don’t care how much faith you have – you are a loser.  But if you pick the winning team, with just a little faith – you are a winner.  My salvation does not depend upon the amount of faith I have, but it depends upon the power of the one I have trusted.  If I put a little faith in a big Jesus who has shown that he can beat death, hell, and the grave…  (Matthew 17:20)

(Check for Part 2.)

State of the City

With already a great start to the year, I don‘t need to say much.  For a few paragraphs, let’s rattle off a few things that happened in The City—Good Hope Young Adult Ministry in 2009.

Accomplishments

*30+ professions of faith.

*30+ baptisms

*Many new young adult members have joined and are attending our church services, fellowships, and bible studies and more are being added weekly.

*Introduced countless people in the Third Ward Area to the good news that Jesus saves from sin.

*Continued the The Real Word Bible Study – Romans, Ephesians, and parts of Acts were covered this year.

*Continued Good Hope Mission to Cuny Homes

*Building community by building accountability

*The Morning After outreach to Rice, University of Houston, and Texas Southern University.

*Improved our online community to 1000+ young adults from all over the greater Houston Area and the world via Facebook, Twitter, and .

*Started online radio show and blog which serves as a ministry opportunity for young adults.

*Continued C.H.A.O.S. fellowships that are outreaches to the community

*Vastly improved publicity of events particularly word of mouth

*Improved volunteer base of the ministry and church as bonds of disicpleship have begun to form.

*Served our community in many ways including:  serving the homeless population;  volunteering with the Angel Tree ministry;  cleaning our church; cooking for and praying with AIDS patients; volunteering with the Angel Tree Ministry.

*Started the City Council, which provides collegiate leadership to our young adult ministry.

*Provided theological and leadership training to college students as it became available.

*Partnered with young adult leaders on the University of Houston, Rice, and HCC campus to provide gospel-centered teachers focused on making disciples.

*Partnered with ministries and participated in revivals and campus programs that led to conversions.

Thanks Yous  (in no particular order)

Glory, Mac, Steve, Lee-lonn, Kori, Shalonda,  Jamil, CeCe, Tiffany, Troy, Bobby, E-Sol, Ronnie, Dennis, David Dawkins, Chloe Virgil Chad, E-Sol, Bobby, Allona, Robyn, Eric Michael, Joshua Gray, Mekedes, Jasmine, Candis, Zachary, Riz. Lorenzo, Timothy, Nicole, Ashlee, Destiny, Jessica B, , Charles, Robyn, Robert, Pastor Clemons, Sister Mayes, Bro. Chambers, Pastor Cofield.  I’m sure I forgot somebody, but God didn’t J.

Many of you allowed God to work powerfully thru you.  I love and appreciate God’s goodness as He has so wonderfully shown through you!

Improvements to be made

God has blessed us mightly.  Just like with salvation, he blessed us in spite of ourselves.  Some wise guy said, “the biggest room in the house is always the room for improvement.“   In following Pastor Cofield’s pronouncement for us to go from “Good to Great,“ there are always ways in which we can use our time, talents, and treasures more effectively.

*We need to be more effective in our prayer life.

*More targeted discipleship between church and young adults.

This year we are doing events that allow us to bridge the generational gap and truly become intentional at discipling people and providing mentorship

*Train and equip more people to do what we do, so that God’s work may be multiplied.

*Hold each other accountable to do God’s work well and not half-step – He didn’t, He gave his very best, his Son!

*Hold each other accountable in our walk and yield to God’s desire for us to live lives worthy of our calling.

Focus for this Year

*This year we will focus on building the people that God is sending.  More one-on-one, more fellowship, and more helping people to understand their faith and share their faith.  (1 Peter 3:15)

*Less time and focus doing programs and more time spent discipling and hanging out.  It is this loosely structured time that makes all the difference in the world in shaping people for their purpose.

*Strengthen our ties to the TSU community.

*Integrating young adults in all ministries of our church particularly our youth and children.

*Continue to develop online radio presence and blog which we feel will get the Good News out about Jesus by any means necessary.

Let’s Partner with God

Again, we have had a great year, not because of all the stuff we have done, but we have all seen visible impact in people’s lives as a result of God working in the midst of us.

Remember our mission as a ministry:

“To reach young adults primarily in the Third Ward Area with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to equip those young adults who have accepted Him as Lord with the wisdom that comes through the Word of God.”

God tells us specifically in his word that we ask anything in his name, that means anything that he has ordained for us to do and would bring him glory, he will do honor our request and partner with us.  John 14:14.  Let’s partner with God and get it done.  I love you and I will continue to pray for you.  Pray for me too.

Religion vs. Relationship, (Part 1)

I used to think that if I prayed, read the bible a certain number of times a week, and went to church on Sunday that I was okay with God.  Heck, I believed if I went to church on Wednesday, God would give me bonus points!!!  Every week I got into a routine that just seemed to be like clockwork.  When I kept that schedule I felt great and righteous, but the weeks I didn’t keep the schedule, I did not feel so good about myself.  In some ways I felt like I was letting God down.  Man, don’t let the occasional “big” sin happen, I was crushed for a few weeks.

However, I had an epiphany of sorts.  I figured out that what I was doing wasn’t working.  I was working under a tremendous amount of guilt because I couldn’t always keep to the things that I set out.  Though I am a Christian, I subconsciously thought that if I did all these things that God would be pleased and that I was on my way to becoming a better person.  I had become religious and thought my being right consisted of the things I did for God.  In the process, I became a slave of my guilt and I became frustrated in my walk.

What I just described to you is a picture of Religion.  We keep a spiritual to-do list, and when we can’t check off everything, we feel frustrated and guilty.  The free gift that God gave us in Jesus doesn’t feel so free anymore.  In fact, the walk as a Christian feels enslaving, draining, and depressing.  Is this what God intended?  What do you think?