Dear Graduate…

If I could sum up my graduation in one word it would be finality. Graduation was the period in the last paragraph on the last page of that chapter in my life.  At my university you cross the stage, get your diploma, then exit this grand arch, symbolizing your exit from the institution. Liberating finality.

I received a lot of graduation cards that were filled with well wishes and congratulations. A lot of cards had these ‘it’s your turn now, go out there and make a difference’ type of  messages. But there was one card in particular that stood out to me, it read, “You are the future for believers.” The individual is a long time friend. I don’t want her words to get misquoted. She is a believer and understands that the only future and hope is in Jesus Christ. But what she was communicating in that sentence was a charge, a responsibility, it was a benediction.

The charge, to care for believers to come. The responsibility: the future church. The body parts that will take over after I am removed. The benediction: the blessing to go forth and do this. The guidance: this is what I should do. I have a role to play for future believers. See, the task in college had been to specialize in a subject & then to study that subject so that upon graduation I could go out into the world and apply my expertise in a given field. For the past four years my classmates and I had been readying ourselves. But as a student of Christ, a follower, a disciple of Christ, what was the task?

“Create disciples who make disciples. Disciple Cycles. ”

It wasn’t until recently that I’ve begun to fully realize that my generation is becoming the church. The elders in my community of believers have been extending their hands to my generation for several years now. And slowly they are beginning to pull us into position. My peers are beginning to preach from the pulpit, lead Bible studies, conduct major church events, and disciple. My generation has become exceedingly involved with the youth, so while we’re still holding on to the hands of our elders, we’re turning around and reaching our hands out to the youth, the future of the church.

I’m so reminded of David in this instance. David had a desire to build a temple for God, but God said that the task did not belong to David, but to David’s son Solomon. And David’s response blows me away. He looks at his son Solomon and recognizes that Solomon is inexperienced and immature, so in a great display of selflessness David begins to lay out instructions for the temple, he begins to gather materials from far off lands and store them up for Solomon to use, he blesses Solomon, gives him words of wisdom and wishes him success.

David realizes he isn’t the end all be all king of Israel, he can’t do it all, and there will be kings after him, but he prepares the way. The greater David, Jesus Christ, was the way, He laid down His life to prepare the way to the Father, He discipled and gave instruction to disciples. He knew that although He is always with us, His physical manifested presence would not always be with us. He prophesied that in times to come the church would do greater things than He had done while on earth, so He prepared the way and equipped us to do these greater things.

I’m so grateful for these realizations because they’ve given me tunnel vision. I see outside myself, I see the church outside my generation. I see the opportunity for me to bless the younger generation, I see the opportunity to better myself for them. I want to study more diligently, because I am not just gathering knowledge for myself but also for them. When I listen to sermons, I’m not listening just for me, but I’m gathering wisdom for those to come. As we experience success and failures in our ministry, we’re not gaining this experience just for us to learn from. I’m so encouraged to be the future for believers.

Geepers Creepers…Who Opened Your Peepers?

I started reading a new book this week and it prompted me to re-read the story of the fall. It prompted me to re-visit the opening of man’s eyes. The day that man’s eyes were open to the knowledge of good and evil.

In Genesis 2, God commands Adam to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because on the day that he eats of it, he will surely die. In Genesis 3, the serpent slithers his way into the story saying, “You will surely not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

With the promise of becoming God-like, believing they deserved this higher knowledge and higher understanding, they ate.

As sin entered the world, our eyes were opened. Opened to death. They were opened to shame. Adam & Eve looked down for the first time to realize they were naked. “Who told you that you were naked?”

Self-righteousness is as smooth and slippery as a serpent. It sneaks up on you, it strikes deep, its poison is infectious, or it wraps around its prey hoping to restrict life. In self-righteousness we claim to have sight. We claim to see good and evil. Mainly we see ourselves as good and others as evil. And since we are so sure that we can discern between who or what is good and who or what is evil, we begin to judge others. We act harshly in the name of justice, our justice. We reward foolishly, because we only reward those who meet our standards of what is ‘good.’

According to His rich mercy, God did not leave us in this state of blind sight. He sent Jesus Christ, the greater Adam, the perfected Son of Man, to open our eyes to life.  If we are so good at deciphering between good and evil, then how can we not recognize the evil in ourselves? There is none who does good, no not one! (Romans 3:10) There has to be recognition of who we are. We are not the standard of what is good. The recognition of evil in ourselves has got to lead us to seek out a higher goodness in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, God who came down to this earth, was tempted in every way yet maintained righteousness. The recognition of evil in ourselves has got to lead us to seek a higher justice than ourselves.  God is just because in being just He knew that He had to punish sin. Yet instead of punishing those who deserved to be punished, He allowed His son to bear the wrath of the punishment that we had earned. So as it stands in the record books, the payment has been made, and while the originators of the debt were not made to pay, justice was done because the wrong was righted.

But if we were not made to see good and evil what were we meant to see? We were created in His image. Designed for His glory. Engineered to worship Him. We were designed to know His will. The one who lives moment by moment according to the will of God, being lead by the Spirit does not concern himself with who or what is good and who or what is evil, he immerses himself fully into the knowledge of what is God’s will.

Judge not, so that you will not be judged. I pray that we are so unconcerned with shunning evil that we never turn our backs on those deemed evil, remembering that grace reaches all. I pray that we are so ignorant of good works that when we receive our reward in heaven we will respond saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?” Because we will have kept no record of our good deeds, we only strived to conform to the will of the Lord. What a beautiful picture that will be.

Toe to Toe in the Ring

It’s arguable which was greater, Muhammad Ali’s fists or Ali’s mouth. His trash talk was epic, it rhymed, it was dramatic, he name dropped, and most of all, he backed it up with colossal fists. His fighting became legendary and he was coined (mostly by himself) as ‘the greatest.’

I went through a week where I felt I was going toe to toe with The Greatest, the Divine Greatest. Let’s just say I had issued somewhat of a challenge.  And I expected Him to come at me like ‘the greatest’ would have. I was waiting for the trash talk, I was ready for taunting, I was ready for Him to drop me. With a challenge like this, I expected to get knocked out.

Life had been feeling like a fight lately. Not just for me, but for everyone around me, everyone around me seemed to be dealing with some sort of struggle in their lives, some sort of fight. So as we made our way to the ring I decided if He wasn’t in the taunting mood, I would get the ball rolling. ‘Don’t you wanna just knock me out? Yeah good things are still happening, I have Your peace and Your joy, but I’m still fighting. I’m gonna stumble, is that what You want? How bout I let it all fall to pieces? I have Your eternal satisfaction, but what if I told You I wanted something right now, something temporarily satisfying right now? What are you gonna do about it?’

I noticed He wasn’t putting His gloves on. ‘I told you to wait for Me, that I would show you that I am The Greatest, but not like this.’

There’s a span of Psalms from about the 27th Psalm through the 37th and even into the 52nd Psalm where the word ‘wait’ is used too many times for us not to notice it. David is the author of a lot of these Psalms, and looking back on his life, David is definitely someone who learned to wait on the Lord. And all the while he waited, David fought. He’d faced lions and bears in the field, he’d even fought a giant named Goliath. He was a warrior, slaying his ‘tens of thousands.’ He was anointed and chosen by God as the rightful king of Israel, yet because Saul the current king pursued David with the intent of killing him, He was forced into hiding. He lived in a cave, sneaking around, living amongst Philistines as a servant to their king and fighting in their land. He was always fighting. David was presented with more than one opportunity to kill Saul, yet even when the chance to do evil was right in front of his eyes, he held back. He waited for the Lord, knowing that when the time was right, the Lord would be faithful to him and he would be given his kingdom.

In the Psalms, the word wait seems to be tied to faith. To wait on someone, implies to be at their call in order to do their will, to wait for their direction. There’s a sense of Lordship. To wait for direction is to keep your ears ready believing that in due time a word will be spoken. To wait for someone is to remain steadfast in one place, believing that they are going to return.

I am fighting, I know I am fighting. And because of the faith that I have put in Jesus Christ, I am His chosen, an heir, you could even say an anointed one, but the kingdom has not fully manifested itself… so will I wait?

In the haze of the fight when I can’t hear anything, will I be steadfast in His word, believing that if I wait, He will speak. In my weak point in the fight, will I hold to righteousness, waiting for His strength, believing that I will attain His perfection when He returns. Will I wait on Him everyday ready to do His will even in the midst of battle, believing that He is my reward.

By the grace of God, I never made it to the ring that day. God is The Greatest, not because of the size of His fists or the level of His trash talk, but because of the size of His faithfulness. Because of the manner in which He backs His claim to faithfulness up. I had come to a point where I was struggling in my waiting, but I have a God who has always waited on me and even when I had dang near asked Him to stop being faithful to me, to stop keeping me and let me get a little beat up, He didn’t do it.  His only reply was ‘I am faithful.’ What else can He be?  For the believer there is nowhere else to turn, there is nothing else to lean on but His faithfulness. Turn to sin? He killed it in my life. Turn to sorrow? There’s too much joy in simply knowing Him. He took all of my suffering on the cross.  Let the anxiety of life consume me? He keeps on working it all out for my good. And He did and does all of these things because I’m so good at waiting for Him? No, but because He is faithful. God doesn’t want to fight with us, He longs to fight for us and through us. This isn’t even our battle. History has never recorded a fighter being K.O.’d before even making it to the ring. But God’s love is so piercing and humbling, it will lay you out. It’s supernatural. Great. Great. Great is thy faithfulness towards me.

Pen Therapy

I loved Adele’s last project, 21, its still in pretty heavy rotation. I was listening to her single ‘Someone like You’ and for some reason the words just seemed to stick with me for a couple of days. The tale that her words told was sad, but it was real. Then I began to realize just how many times her exact sentiments had been voiced over the past few years. Check out the quotes below, these quotes are lyrics from a variety of songs from a very diverse cast of artists. Keep in mind that all of these artists are singing to an ex-lover that is either engaged, married, or has moved on with someone else:

‘Hoped you’d see my face and be reminded that for me it isn’t over’  -Adele

‘Does she know that you told me you’d hold me until you died’  -Alanis Morsette

‘Do you ever think of me?’  – Ne-yo

‘When you see my face I hope it gives you hell’  -All American Rejects

‘In my mind I’ll always be his lady’  -Heather Headley

‘What we had don’t need no words…I know I should be your lady’  -Jill Scott

Their words express regret, anger, sadness, curiosity, and a kind of sad persistence. And for me these songs go hard because on some level the artist has captured exactly the way I’ve felt at some point. And when you hear lyrics as powerful as some of these, you’re forced to wonder what happened in their relationships? Surely they must have been done really wrong, or they must have had something really special, so special that they just can’t seem to let it go or get over it.

I’m going to take a step out, and just express how I feel about these lyrics. When I look at these words, I see the result of someone giving too much of themselves over to another individual in the wrong context. And now, it hurts entirely too much to see that this person has moved on. So all we have left to do is grab our pens and proceed to therapy.

The first time the small box that I had put sexual immorality in was blown up, I was listening to Eric Mason preach on the subject. He taught that most Christians only put sex in their box of sexual immorality, yet in all actuality sexual immorality has a very mental and emotional aspect.

Man, we are so quick to attach ourselves emotionally to someone, we get off on the good morning texts and late night phone calls, not even considering if this person we are giving our emotions to will even be in our future. Because we aren’t observing this person as a long term fixture in our life, we’re observing them as eye candy, attention, or stability. The fact of the matter is we may have never been between the sheets with someone, but unbeknown to them, we’ve mentally worshiped them day in and day out, giving ourselves over to them in our minds. We even go as far as giving ourselves away physically. And when it’s all said and done, no matter how it went down, physically, emotionally, or mentally, we’ve given a piece of ourselves away, and when the beneficiary leaves, we never get that piece of us back and that cuts deep.

In my mind there was so much to say or ‘preach’ about these lyrics. I thought about saying something like ‘Guard your heart,’ ‘Date with the purpose of marriage,’ ‘Don’t think on impure things,’ and ‘How are you gonna give away that which belongs to the Lord.’ And while all of that is Biblically correct and needed, I think my sentiments can be best summarized in two commands- Love God. Love Your Brothers & Sisters.

We get so hurt by this so called love, failing to realize that our actions have completely neglected love all together. Love God. Love Your Brothers
& Sisters. Do we thirst and love after God enough to completely surrender our minds, body, and soul as a living sacrifice? Dow we love our brothers and sisters enough to not take and abuse their emotions with no true intention? Do we love our brothers and sisters enough to not take from them in the bedroom? Do we love God enough to honor our brothers and sisters?

Christ’s love was a love that put us first, it was love with long term intentions, He loved us with a purpose, His love can be tough, but it always aims to build us up. He’s a lover who gives more than we could ever repay. It’s only because of Him that we can love and it’s only through Him that we can give love. He is the perfect example of love, because He is love. Outside of Him, our ‘love’ is leaving mental and emotional scars and until we can understand that, our only hope is to find an understanding pen, a melancholy beat, and a listening page of paper.

Facing Giants

Everywhere I go these days, I’m greeted with the same question. “So what’s after college?” And I give an answer, but usually it’s vague with no specifics. Not because I don’t have any plans, but because I have a fear of verbally expressing in detail exactly what I truly want to do with my life. Maybe I feel like if I actually say it, then people will hold me to it and will be disappointed if I don’t actually do it. Maybe I don’t say it, because I will be disappointed if I don’t do it.

It’s actually a point of frustration for me. I see my strengths and my attributes, and I see in my mind’s eye what I could actually do with my skills. I see how I could incorporate ministry and how I could create something special, and it’s a beautiful picture, but I get frustrated because I’m not sure I’ll ever get to see that beautiful picture in reality.

When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, He brought them to a land, they saw the land, and they saw how good the land was. God told them to go in and take possession of the land. Now they had seen some giants in the land and even though God had commanded them to take the land and had told them that He would go in before them, the Israelites started shakin in their boots. Moses recalls how they responded in Deuteronomy 1:26- 27…

“Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. 27 And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.”

Before truly reading this verse I would have said that the Israelites just had fear, they had a trust issue. I never saw their failure to ‘go in’ and ‘take possession’ as an act of rebellion also. They were in direct disobedience of a command from God.

Then there’s this murmuring part and I know exactly how that goes. “If God loved me he would make this happen for me!” “If God loved me he would take the challenge of pursuing my goals away!” “Why would God give me the desire to do this with my life, if He was gonna make it impossible for me to actually achieve!”

Rebellion & trust issues. Moses spends the rest of the chapter rebuking the people. He tells them to remember the awesome works that God had already performed in their lives. He reminds them that their swag is on one hundred thousand trillion, because God has been rolling with them the whole time. God has allowed us all to have gifts and talents and way back in Genesis, He told us to cultivate-develop, learn, and progress our talents to the fullest- and subdue-use our talents in the world to the glorification of God. That’s a command!

We see the fields that we can apply ourselves too, and we see how good it could be, and the Lord has told us to go into those fields and own them for Him. But then we start seeing giants. Big scary giants like the giants of hard work and the giants of impossibility. At the sight of these giants, we decide to blame God because we feel frustrated or restrained thinking that our dreams and goals are out of reach. As a believer, God’s hand has been too mighty upon my life for me to not trust in Him. I know He has my back so the only thing truly frustrating about my future is my rebellion or failure to cultivate and subdue. I know that in order to feel unrestrained I have to surrender all to God, giving Him the controls and trusting that He will provide. Whichever land I go in, there’s for sure gonna be a fight, a struggle. The giants aren’t going anywhere, and sure I’m only 5’10” but my shadow reaches beyond the heavens.

Anchoring Ambassadors

I love to re-read a book or re-watch a movie and discover something new. To me, it means that the book or movie has depth and it reflects the intellect of the author. With that said, the Bible definitely has depth and the Author’s thoughts are so far above ours, that I am constantly amazed at the new things the Holy Spirit is revealing to me every time I read.

In re-visiting the story of Noah and the ark, I was lead to think about the folk who didn’t make it on the boat. How many cats stood outside of the ark laughing at Noah? Day one of the rain came, and they figured “no biggie, it’s rained for whole days before.” Then day 2 came … then day 3 … and then day 6. When did they start to think to themselves that maybe Noah did know what he was talking about? How many folk were banging on the ark’s door as the water began to rise up their bodies? How many people tried to hang on to the ark or tried to climb on top of it; their efforts all in vain?

It’s a harsh reality, but an even harsher reality for some, is the fact that God will flood the earth again, but the second time it will be with fire, and the destruction will be forever. For folk who do not believe in Jesus Christ, there will be no second chance to get on the boat, no banging on the door, no pleading; the door will simply be closed.

If you are saved, you represent the boat folk. And as boat folk, we have a task at hand. We are ambassadors. We are called to anchor as many people as we can to the boat, so that when our Captain, Jesus Christ, comes back, we will all be ready to pull up and sail to paradise (Col. 1:28).

In Colossians, Paul expresses how much he works and struggles for the sake of spreading the gospel, training men to follow Christ. He tells the Colossians in chapter 2, verse 6, “Therefore as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

The word that sticks out to me is the word taught. In order for them to have learned, someone had to have taught them. Someone built them up, discipled them, and instructed them.  In verse 8 he expounds on why it is so important to teach and to make sure folk are rooted when he says, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ.” Even then, a lack of theology, or a lack of roots, left men susceptible to worldly winds of theology that is not of God.

Sometimes we’re content to watch people who think they don’t need the Ark get swept away by pride. They either try to catch the wave of fame, or they get carried off by education and dreams of success. Little do they know that these futile waves are only carrying them out to danger, and they will disappoint them when they fizzle out – or will crush them when they get toppled by an even bigger wave. Then the day will come when it is too late to stop riding the waves of the world, and the boat folk will be called up.

This reality has got to lead us to compassion. It makes me think of myself and my efforts. Will I toil and struggle, and work, in order to anchor my family and friends in Christ? Who have I helped anchor so that they are not swayed by the religions and philosophies of this world? As an ambassador, who knows that soon the door of this second ark will be shut without any chance of re-opening, will I seize that fact with immediacy? Will I be moved to action?

Will you?

My Own Fiasco

Hands down, one of my favorite rappers used to be Lupe Fiasco. We haven’t necessarily parted ways, because I respect his talent, but we’ve just grown apart. I liked Cool Young Lu because he was intelligent, lyrically talented, and not afraid to mash on society or politics. I was jamming on pandora one day and ‘The Coolest’ came on. It’s funny how you can hear something so many times and not really realize what you’re listening to or what exactly you’re hearing. Verse one opens up with…

“I Love the Lord, but sometimes it’s like I love me more.”

And it’s like I said, the song isn’t new. I’ve heard it before, but I wasn’t really hearing it. But this time I heard it, and I think I heard it this time because I felt it. I felt it in my gut. Lupe had just put into words what I put into action. “I love the Lord, but sometimes it’s like I love me more.”

See love is something I’ve been struggling with. I was telling my pastor of my struggles to love people and he dropped a line that also hit me in my gut. He said, “You know we always think that there’s this one person that we’re bad at loving without realizing that we’re bad at loving everyone, including God.”

Immediately I was on the defense, saying to myself, “I love people! I love my family and close friends!” Right? And then it was like someone pushed play on a horror film inside of my head. I saw myself being unloving to the people I claimed to love the most. I saw myself answering phone calls only when it’s convenient for me. I saw myself interacting with these people, but mostly when it benefited me. I saw myself sitting stationary, knowing that someone needed Godly advice, knowing that they needed guidance and needed to talk. Forget first fruits, I saw myself giving God the last of all my fruits. I went on to name this horror film ‘I love you, but I love me more.’ I was disgusted.

I’m not struggling to love people or God; I’m struggling to get over myself. We have got to fight to walk as living sacrifices. Remember what it took for you to get saved? Remember the emotions you felt at your lowest time of brokenness-anger, frustration, depression-remember the mess you made when you were doing things your way? Can you see what placing your faith in Jesus Christ has done in your life, can you see the change? How can we still want to hold onto ourselves. I was hopeless without Him, I still am hopeless without Him, and I always will be hopeless without Him.

That’s enough motivation for me to let go of myself. That’s enough motivation for me to worship God. That’s enough for me to love God for what He’s done and translate the love that I receive from Him into love that I now give to others. I want to wake up every day and feel exactly like I’m mourning the loss of someone I loved dearly …

Me.

Artistic Suicide

My aunt is in the process of building a house, yet before she even breaks ground she’s had to meet with 15 various contractors. Each contractor she meets with has a specialty, and she’s looking for the perfect combination of skills so that her house is exactly to her liking. In Exodus, the construction of the first temple is wondrously detailed, but instead of a team of contractors, God used the Israelites.

In chapter 35 of Exodus God commissions His contractors in the beastiest way. He picks His guys, and then fills them with the Holy Spirit, giving them intelligence, knowledge, craftsmanship skills, designing skills, and engraving skills. He then gives these men teaching skills so that they can show others their craft and pass on these skills. Exodus 36:1 reads…

“Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.”

The fact that these men had this skill and intelligence after the Lord put Himself inside of them, should lead us to think that these skills were probably non-existent or super underdeveloped before they were inhabited with the Holy Spirit. These men were literally working by the power of God, it wasn’t really even them. And the hope was that they would use their skill, in accordance with the command of the Lord, building His dwelling place.

But see the Israelites were building a physical temple. After the cross, the commission that the Lord left for His people was once again to build up His temple. Yet this temple, this church, is an intangible one. It is not a place, it is a group of people who have decided to place their faith in Jesus Christ, for His dwelling place is now inside of us.

I believe we all have gifts, things we’re skilled at and different things that we are passionate about. But unfortunately, we let talents lay idle while underneath the surface there is a sea of vibrancy that if only it was allowed, it would flood a dark world with the colors of Life.

Maybe we’re content to just slide by, finding it convenient for us to never get involved, don’t have to go to practices and won’t have to work at developing our skills, so we skirt responsibilities. Or maybe it’s our pride that says our gift isn’t good enough to be shown, so we keep it locked up. Either way, at the end of the day we have a pretty long list of fleshy excuses. In Exodus 36:1 it says that these gifts are gifts from God, and that they were given to do ANY WORK in the construction of the temple, even if that work includes the smallest behind the scenes task.

The most satisfying moments in ministry that I can remember were all focused around a time when the people involved died to themselves. They killed their personal desires, their pride, their fear, and their personal agendas and allowed the Holy Spirit to work through them, using their incredibly different gifts to spread God’s fame. The most satisfying moments in ministry were centered on folk giving their utmost to He who is the utmost. And this isn’t a guilt trip for people who fail to serve or fail to use their gifts, because above feeling guilty I want you to grasp the desire to do ministry to the fullest by taking your God given skill or talent and developing it into something used to lead men to the cross.

After The Music Stops

“After the show, after the set, after the music stops, what’s next? Are we just writing songs or are we concerned with uniting a people to follow the great commission of Christ”

In one of Lecrae’s hits, “After the Music Stops,” he poses this question only to answer it later on in the song by saying “the importance of the show’s not to excite these folks but to make God’s truth relevant, ignite these folks.”

These convicting yet inspiring lyrics build up to the often overlooked importance of discipleship, an aspect of ministry we cannot neglect. I knew what being discipled had meant to my life, but I had yet to find out the impact I could make through discipleship on someone else’s life until I met Airwin Ward. Airwin is a young man out of Houston’s 3rd Ward community. I had the pleasure of sitting and talking with him. We talked casually about his past and his lifestyle before making a serious commitment to Christ. He portrayed a lifestyle filled with, as he put it, “things 15 and 16 year old boys had no business doin.”

(Ronnie on left, Airwin on right)

So what changed for the Houston teen? He began to be discipled by one of Houston’s own gospel hip hop rapper’s, Ronnie ‘Reconcile’ Lillard. Ronnie has taken it upon himself to spend weekends with Airwin. And he doesn’t just verbally tell him right from wrong and occasionally spoon feed him the gospel, he actually does life with Airwin and shows him actively how to live a lifestyle rooted in Christ.

I asked Airwin what life on life leadership in Christ looked like as opposed to the leadership he received outside of Christ. He replied:

“I was the high on Saturday in church by Sunday type of guy. Ronnie taught me I could worship and live for God all day every day. I realize now that my lifestyle is a choice. I can choose to live free and be fulfilled. Before I had brothers who showed me things that were real, but still fake. Now I see what’s really real. Ronnie uses the truths of the Bible to lead me. “

Witnessing the transformation of Airwin has deeply impacted me. I’m filled with so much joy as I see this new life emerging and evolving. It inspires and motivates me. And although I’ll never be a rapper, I do believe that we all have to come to a point in our lives when we ask ourselves-what’s the importance of the show?  After the music stops, at the end of the day, I got my salvation, so what’s next?

It’s a question that Ronnie has answered not just with words, but with actions. Ronnie isn’t just a friendly face that checks up on Airwin every once in a while. As Airwin puts it “Ronnie has become a brother from another mother …

And I mean that seriously when I say it, because he really is my brother.” As one of Houston’s hottest up and coming rappers, I believe Ronnie’s legacy will not be defined by a record and will not be confined to a stage. His legacy will be defined by the words of life that he breathed into the lives of those he touched on and off the stage. As part of his legacy he’s passed on an everlasting record that you can leave on replay for a lifetime. It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. And if you ask me that album is epic.

To lean more about Ronnie’s ministry go to www.frontlinemovement.org

and to scoop the free download of his EP hit up http://reconcile.bandcamp.com/album/burn-this-city-ep

Forever His Love

I remember what it felt like the first time I realized the significance of the friendships I was forming with members of the body of Christ. I remember having the realization that I had never really had true friends outside of the body. I remember feeling immense joy, wanting to spend 24/7 with my brothers and sisters in Christ. These are lasting relationships. These relationships are eternal, and our eternity as friends has already begun.

But then life happens, and it’s more than just life, growth happens. Some of us need attitude adjustments, some of us need to cut old habits, and as we struggle to get over ourselves more and more each day, we experience growing pains. Being acquaintances is easy, and being friends is convenient, but being brothers and sisters in Christ and growing together in Him is hard work. Conflict will arise; we have opinions, attitudes, egos, and many other things that lead us to stop treating each other like brothers and sisters.

“For He himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances …”                                                             Ephesians 2: 14-15

In dying on the cross Jesus reconciled us back to God in one body. He made it possible for us to be equal members of the household of God, not many houses but one house. We never consider that our anger towards each other, maltreatment towards each other, and harsh words towards or about each other go against the work Christ did on the cross. To act as if we are not one body, to make the body exclusive or compartmentalized is denying the fact that Christ’s death broke hostility and made us one, at peace.

But the part that requires our attention is the way in which he broke down hostility. Paul says he crushed hostility by crushing the law. Not that the law isn’t important. It’s that Jesus gave us two commands that serve as an umbrella, covering the law. He told us to love God and to love our brothers. When we love our brothers and we love God, we don’t steal each others’ joy, we don’t kill others with our anger, and we don’t covet each other’s blessings. Those two commands make the other commandments come easily. There’s no room for hostility to stand under the umbrella of those two commands.

There comes a time when we have to return to those commands. We have to return to love. But not just any love, the love of Christ. We have to remember what that love made us. It made us one, one body, one house, it brought us peace. When the knee experiences growing pains the elbow doesn’t cut it off, but the body remains working together until it emerges as a matured adult. To tear each other down or apart is to go against who we are in Christ. He made us in love, He is love, His family was created to exude His love. Never lose sight of that identity.