you are who/what you retweet.

Twitter is an atmosphere in which one can enter the minds of people & celebrities (or actually their PR manager, but I can’t prove that) on a tweet by tweet basis. But, I see a growing trend in retweeting any vague reference to God that they submit.  That’s an interesting concept worth exploring.

The good.

Sometimes I see a celebrity tweet something about prayer & immediately people send encouraging replies. It’s encouraging to see people humble themselves & ask for help. Imagine people from all over the world praying to God petitioning, not manipulating, on the behalf of a humbled heart.

Also, social justice causes will have more publicity with a celebrity name attached #truth. If someone gets to have a meal on their table because @whoever pubbed for it, then so be it.

The honorable.

It’s honorable to see the transparency in some celebrities. Some people will come out & be real about how they feel about something, proclaiming truisms. Christian or not, you can have an opinion. We all push our thoughts on others, even when we tell others not to push their truth on us … we are inevitably pushing our truth on someone. The irony, think about it.

For instance, if someone says that we should not talk about religion & politics they are talking about religion & politics. What they are actually saying is, I have the truth & your truth is not welcome here. I can make exclusive claims to my philosophy on religion but yours are wrong & should be converted to my way of thought.

The bad.

The bad, in this subject of retweeting, is that people seem to retweet any vague reference to God that any celebrity tweets. This is reflective of ones own heart & their definition of justification. I call it the “celebrity-award-show-complex,” & it is very much extended to twitter. You know, when a celebrity raps/sings/acts about everything that breaks God’s heart & blasphemes his name by saying that he commissioned their work to do that. Self-justifying themselves by rap-praying on the last track, saying God (or at least Him) on a gospel-ish track, or doing a Christian-ish movie. They tweet about booty, butts, cheeks, & then a non-biblical God.  A non-biblical God tweet isn’t a God tweet but a god tweet; the god of themselves & their desire for justification.

Stop judging die_dd!

I am judging, & if you think I am judging you are judging me. Oh the irony, think about it. Or as Keller would say, “Those who condemn the self-righteous for the sake of self-discovery do so with ironic self-righteousness.”

The sad truth is that we all stand judged & condemned. We all have gone our own way & blaspheme God by self-justifying ourselves as if God backs our tweets. We tweet about every trending topic that captures our fleshly desires. Out of the abundance of the heart our fingers tweet. We are broken people in need to be made whole. That’s the bad news.

The honorable news is that your tweets are proof that you need help. Critically analyze your tweets & you will discover your idols. Another word for celebrity is idol.

God the Father follows no one but has two followers, the Holy Spirit & Jesus, and on twitter, the Spirit doesn’t accept follow requests unless you already follow Jesus. But, to follow Christ you must unfollow your other idols (repent & believe). Upon following Christ the Spirit immediately follows you & allows you to see the retweets of the Father God.

That’s the good news. The glorious news that Jesus entered the hypocrisy of the world & cut through it with love in the shape of a cross. Caring for us when we were ungodly, tweeting evil.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 #absolutetruth

Healing, oh Healing, where for art thou?

There have been a few instances in my life in which I can honestly say that I felt broken beyond repair. Daily I waited to see if God’s promises were true. I would read the psalms for hope & some sign that God was on my side. But, I ended up realizing that my sin caused these seasons of brokenness.

I said, “O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you. – psalm 41:4

There have been a few instances in my life in which I can honestly say that I would be so scared of letting people know how hurt I was by a situation that I would only tell God. Usually the situation involved others & for the sake of guarding the position of others I bore the hurt. Thinking that it was my position to bear the pain & it would be gossip to think otherwise.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – psalm 14:3

There have been a few instances in my life in which I can honestly say that I waited in anticipation of healing. The idea was so beautiful. One day God would come & personally heal me from all of the sins done by me and to me. I pictured God as catering specifically to me.

He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.” – psalm 107:20

There have been a few instances in my life in which I can honestly say that God has used the preached Word, the Word, & the incarnate Word to rescue me from my self-made hell. In times of shame & guilt God showed me that my guilt is taken away, and my sin atoned for by Jesus Christ through a sermon from the Bible.

For this is what the high and lofty One says–he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” – isaiah 57:15

There have been a few instances in my life in which I can honestly say that the notion of God dwelling inside me has been comforting beyond compare. Jesus, whose name is holy & dwells in Heaven, came down & dwelt among creation. The creation he created rejected his offering of healing, but he brought healing anyways. You could find Jesus among the broken. In that same sense the Holy Spirit dwells in the broken & is tirelessly pushing us towards the healing Jesus brought forth on the cross.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,” – isaiah 61:1

There have been many instances in my life in which I can honestly say that the good news of Jesus Christ has set people free. Although we have deep scars from past hurts & new cuts from present situations, it is a promise from God that he will bind up the brokenhearted. That is the gospel, that Jesus was sent to heal us who would humbly accept his love. Realizing that you’re hurting yourself & that you’re hurting others & most of all you’re hurting God is the beginning of the road to healing, but you must simultaneously turn towards God. It’s called repenting & believing in the gospel.

wait in anticipation of healing, although through the cross you are healed.

sexy church planting

Renovation Church – Atlanta, GA from Verge Network on Vimeo.

One thing that I love about The City @ Good Hope is the love for missions. I believe it is a proven fact that the gospel is the power of God to save lives, & that The City takes that truth to the nations. Sometimes it seems that our community of unashamed gospel proclaimers are of the few pursuing to impact the culture around them with the Good News of Jesus Christ … but, after watching the video above, I began to realize that our mission & vision is not so isolated.

gospel dispersion.

We do not re-invent the wheel, we merely carry out the great commission. In this season of graduations & summer departures, I am excited about how the gospel will be shared. It is about time that The City begins to disperse and reach others. Truth be told, there are many people in The City who can plant gospel small groups that would impact many. Perhaps we are not ready for planting churches, but we can plant seeds of the gospel in churches that do not preach the gospel.

gospel purpose.

One thing I respect about PT, like Leonce Crump, is that he saw a problem & decided to do something about it. By no means is Good Hope a perfect church & it is in desperate need of the gospel. PT saw a problem & entered the culture to fix it. On one hand there are the old timers who know everything (self-righteous folk). On the other hand, there are liberal college students exploring  their sexuality/identity/personality (prodigal sons & daughters). On top of that, you have the young rambunctious youth whom have no hope in this world (lil’ heathens). The one antidote to give these people is the gospel.

gospel commission.

With such a diverse group of people at Good Hope, DZ Cofield commissioned PT to reach young adults so that they will in turn reach 3rd ward. In some facet, PT planted a church-within-a-church. The City works as a tool to reach those older self-righteous folk who are native “3rd wardians” by being unashamed of their youth & respectful towards them. Reaching out to the community is a big deal & Cuney Homes is a people group in need of some lovin’. The City reaches the young adults by knowing what’s sexy at the moment and not rejecting or embracing it but reconciling it for the sake of the gospel. Also, the college crowd is reached by using technology & creating small groups for the sake of people sharing life together.  The City reaches the lil’ heathens by participating in Youth Church as volunteers for interpersonal small groups.

gospel.

This gospel is so powerful that there is nothing else to talk about. Please don’t confuse the gospel for a method, but embrace it as what the bible says it is. It is of first importance and we are to preach Christ crucified. Jesus died according to the scriptures so that the promise of God to save those who would turn from death and embrace life by faith alone & grace alone. Jesus rose according to the scriptures so that those whom embrace the life he offers will have an advocate in heaven who will never disown them before his Father.

All in all, The City & many other churches are a place where you can believe the gospel, belong to a gospel believing community, and become gospel-centered.

[if you are looking for a gospel-centered church near you check out the gospel coalition’s network guide here.]

it is finished, you workaholics

“And it’s a shame, the way I want to do these things for You, yet don’t even cling to you, take time to sit and glean from You” – Lecrae

Work, work harder?

The day of a workaholic usually begins with the motive of proving their existence based on their ability to produce. The workaholic finds value in the quantity of quality products produced. The idea of rest is foreign & the notion of saying no is nonexistent. They are shackled to their schedule.

Is there hope?

I may be the worst person to write this, thus I’m probably the best person to write this. I am so identified with my work habits that if they die, I die; if they thrive, I live. One day I found myself so lost in thought, so hurt from past mistakes, so burdened by being a Christian leader, so obligated to produce work, so physically fatigued, and so dramatized by the expanse of work to be done that I broke down. It took everything just to hold back the tears in public. But, I found hope in a text message.

The conversation proceeded as such:

what is your purpose for serving?

Not sure, I want to say death in me will mean life for others.

There’s life in Christ not in you …

I was finding my identity in serving Jesus, but not Jesus. When Jesus shouted in victory, “τελείωσε” … it was all perpetually and perfectly completed. “It” being the defeat of sin, satan, death, the need for acceptance, the need to work, the desire to work harder, the shame from failed works, the guilt from failed future works, and the idea of finding identity in your work. Jesus did what was done on the cross, then sat down at the right hand of God. No assistance from man is necessary in Jesus’ saving work, as witnessed by the man on the cross next to him. Jesus said this day he would be with him in paradise apart from anything that he did, should’ve done, would do, or could do.

A helpful thought is that of Mary and Martha. Mary was awarded for sitting at the feet of Jesus gleaning from him, but Martha was told to fall back for thinking she had to work and impress Jesus. Be a Mary, not a Martha.

no work left to do?

The understanding of there being nothing for you to do is radical. We often feel as though we must pay God back, but Jesus said it is finished. Jesus paid it in full. “It” being the just wrath of God towards those who work when he said rest. God desires us to find rest in Christ’s work and see him as all sufficient. You will find so much joy by just sitting there meditating on the completed work in the death and life of Jesus. You will identify with Jesus so much that in his death, you die; in his life, you live.

when God was absent, part II

The greatest lesson learned when I didn’t feel God was that I never truly asked for the Holy Spirit’s help. Remember in Part 1 I was scared that my sin was more powerful than the Spirit residing in me so I wouldn’t pray in fear of being let down?

I asked for forgiveness & the power to persevere, but I didn’t ask Him to take over. I wasted time thinking of the right prayer, but the right prayer is the one that seeks to help others be better than yourself. When I began asking God to seek me to seek them, humble me to humble them, forgive me to forgive them, & rest in me to show them rest … is when things started changing.

I saw how flawed I was & I didn’t want people to be like me. I remember thinking about younger people in The City like Temi, Chloe, Taylor, Prince, Will, Rodrick, & many others who are young & eager to learn of God. Each of them are far more humble & more educated about the gospel of grace than I could have ever hoped to be at that age. I began to pray to God that they would not go through these seasons of drought that I experience.

Then a message came to mind from Tim Keller in which I heard him say something like, “absence is proof of God’s presence“. I didn’t get it until I truly thought about it.

In order to feel God’s absence, I had to have felt God in the first place.

Being that Jesus gave the decree that he would be with us until the end of the ages & that the Spirit that lives in us is always available & the Father is our ever-present help I started to realize that I am not alone. Absence serves as a bridge until your next encounter with God. Not an encounter in the sense that you will run into Him again but until you realize (repent) that He is with you if you place faith in the facts of Jesus’ exchangeable perfect life, substutionary death, & life giving resurrection.

Charles Spurgeon puts the cure & prevention for spiritual drought in these ways:

  1. Confess our unworthiness. The Lord might justly have withheld his grace from us.
  2. Acknowledge our dependence upon the heavenly showers of spiritual influence.
  3. Pray incessantly, till, like Elijah, we bring down the rain.
  4. Look alone to Jesus. “He shall come down like rain.”
  5. Value the least sign of grace, watching for it as the prophet did from the top of Carmel, till he saw the little cloud arise from the sea.
  6. Use the blessing more diligently when it returns, bringing forth fruit to God.

when God was absent, part I

I often don’t feel God“, is a saying that ruled me for a few months.

I’ll be blunt and to the point … I took a hiatus from writing because I didn’t feel worthy to write for a blog committed to truth & the transformation of lives through the love of Christ. I began to doubt if I were ever in it for the right reasons & I began to fall back from accountability, authority, & admonition from others. You too may feel this way in some facet of your life.

I do apologize. My mentality was that sin was so rampant in my life that I am unworthy & I would have to fix myself up before I was worthy to write again. But God, being so rich in mercy showed me that I think far too highly of myself.

Absence made me feel as though God was so far from me & it would take time to rebuild our relationship & just when it felt like we were getting better … I would sin again. Sin being anything from illegitimately fulfilling sexual desires, pridefully asserting authority over others, cowardly avoiding situations to share the love of Christ, arrogantly being self-absorbed, guiltily blaming myself for the guilt of others, & not feeling as if God loved me as much as He used too.

I once felt like me & God were so tight & I thought He had my best interests in mind. I thought that if I followed Him I would be like pastor such & such & always feel joy overflowing. But God, being rich in mercy put my faith to the test. Left & right everything in my life began going wrong. I went from best worker to worst, good painter to worst, and a decent preacher to worst. I felt so condemned.

Every night I stayed up contemplating how to get closer to God … every night I prayed & prayed, but seemingly to no avail. My greatest fear became the idea that my sin became greater than the Holy Spirit living in me. I was scared to even pray because I didn’t want to be let down by God again. This was when things took a turn for the worst & I completely lost who I was.

When I hit rock bottom was when healing came.

I learned that,

  • like Cain all I can do is offer my best offering but be careful because sin is crouching at my door like a predator waiting to pounce (Gen 4:6-7)
  • I was saved by the Spirit so I should stop trying to be sanctified by the flesh & the law (Gal 3:1-3)
  • it doesn’t matter if I look stupid for Jesus (Phil 1:27-28)
  • there is a God who loves me too much to give me over to my idols (thanks Tullian)
  • people actually care about me & I don’t have to pull stunts to earn affection (ain’t got no proof but I feel it, lol)
  • in the midst of sin God can use you to reveal His righteousness (Jonah 1:7-16)
  • an alien righteousness resides in me apart from anything that I do (Phil 3:2-11)
  • I should risk the ocean, because there is only grace (Sometimes – DCB)

allow me to reintroduce myself, part II.

In Part Uno, I established that in Christ we are fully accepted by God, due to the hard work Jesus put in and the lack of work we put in. The only work we put in according to Jesus in John 6:29 is “that you believe in him whom he has sent.

So why in the known universe do we strive so hard to be accepted by God? 

We say in our self-righteousness that we must appease God’s wrath apart from Jesus Christ. “How do I do that, die_dd?” Well, I’m glad you asked. You do that by trading bad works for good works. You do that by going to bible study everyday, serving at every church event, teaching every bible study, accepting any offer to do anything for Jesus instead of spending time with Jesus.

The anti-gospel of goodworks?

None of those things are wrong, but they can become wrong. “How do you know that die_dd?” Again, I’m glad you asked, because I was describing myself. I go to bible studies everyday, I teach everyday, I serve everyday, I, I, I, I, I – but I do not spend time with Jesus as I should.

I’m truly starting to realize that I am so identified with Christ that in his death I am also dead on a cross & that my life is not my life but his living through me; reconciling me to his security & his identity with the Father.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

Jesus, who is absolute acceptance, did not waiver because of what people thought of him. Jesus sought solitude with the Father and found joy through the suffering he experienced. Like Jesus, we should find solitude with the Father daily. We should allow God to remind us of who we are in Christ.

External forgiveness, internal rejection?

No matter what you do externally you are forgiven. People stabbed him, spat at him, lied on him, rejected him, defiled him, & brutally crucified him … yet he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do“.

But, if you reject the Holy Spirit internally, nothing you do externally will be forgiven. Jesus said that if you continuously blaspheme the Spirit, you will not be forgiven because the Spirit leads you to the salvation found in Christ.  [upon repenting and believing in Jesus, you are freely given the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of your salvation (eph 1:13-14 , eph 4:30)]

So now if you externally offend someone, disappoint someone, fail someone, or hurt someone it matters little if they forgive you because the Holy Spirit within you cries out that you are forgiven. You should be perfectly comfortable in solitude but not be a hermit. You should be perfectly comfortable around crowds but not be a socialite. Find time to reintroduce the identity you have through Jesus by finding solitude with the Father.

allow me to reintroduce myself, part I.

Sometimes you just have to reintroduce yourself to people, and yourself.  “Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is Hov … “

Who am I?

We work our whole life to build who we are. We pick majors that we hope will eventually create us into the people we want to be. We defend ourselves against attacks toward our character.

People feel the need to justify themselves due to the lack of understanding of who they are. For instance, someone asks if you finished a task they told you to do, & you tell a lil white lie. That white lie is told because you are so scared of what they will think about that you must lie. The sad thing about lies is that one lie will inevitably lead to another.

one righteous man?

There has existed one man who knew exactly who he was. He was so assured of who he was that when he was literally standing in the face of death, he spoke not a word to defend himself. He was as silent as a sheep lead to the slaughter.

This man, Jesus Christ, was placed in front of the highest court in the land and was asked if the accusations about him were true. He responded in a manner so offensive that he was punished with death, even though he was perfectly innocent. Due to the understanding of his identity, he knew that no matter what they accused him of, his purpose was far more important than what someone else thought of him.

This man, Jesus Christ, proved that life was all about knowing who the Father said he was. Jesus spent time in prayer so deep that he began to sweat blood before he was sentenced to be crucified. In solitude, Jesus was reminded of the Father’s absolute love for him. The Father’s love, being so pure and beyond understanding, overwhelmed Christ to the point that He said, “not my will, but Your will be done”.

please die, please?

This plays out practically in your life by understanding that you are dead, but alive in Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

Once you realize that your identity is so identified with Christ, you are set free from justifying yourself. The Christian faith is so simple that it is complex. The Christian faith is simply that Jesus Christ did all the work and therefore you have no work left to do.

This is hard because we all desire to attribute in some way to our own righteousness. Jesus says “stop, trust me. I put in work. It is finished.” Although he assures us that we have nothing left to do, why do we still work? My prayer is that Part Dos will help some.

the 5th gospel: is the Bible actually reliable?

Yeah the 5th gospel, talking about that Apocrypha. Let’s dig in.

Popular books & media, like the Da Vinci Code, have created this conventional thought that the church has either altered or hidden unspecified books of the Bible. Many people that I know will “amen” a Pastor and talk about how the Bible is the word of life, but at the same time, have deeply rooted doubts about the Bible.

I was one of those people.

One reason I refused to become a Christian was because I found it hard to believe that a book could be preserved by sinful man. If God had something to say why wouldn’t He just tell us directly?

That statement is felt by many, but few admit it.

Through actually reading the Bible for myself, my questions grew exponentially. I would ask people about the Bible, but they would just give me a “ya jus’ gotta have faith brotha” (which isn’t so bad of an answer, but I’ll get to that later). That wasn’t enough for someone who had little to no faith.

So what is the answer?

Well, the truth about these so-called altered, or hidden books, is that they aren’t altered or hidden. Some will say that the Catholic church hid them when, when in fact, they are extremely open about these books, like so. Also the idea of them being altered is very hard to prove. The Bible is the most preserved book of all time. Peep this helpful chart I found:

Author Date Written Earliest Copy Time Span Copies (extent)
 
Secular Manuscripts:
Herodotus (History) 480 – 425 BC 900 AD 1,300 years 8
Thucydides (History) 460 – 400 BC 900 AD 1,300 years ?
Aristotle (Philosopher) 384 – 322 BC 1,100 AD 1,400 years 5
Caesar (History) 100 – 44 BC 900 AD 1,000 years 10
Pliny (History) 61 – 113 AD 850 AD 750 years 7
Suetonius (Roman History) 70 – 140 AD 950 AD 800 years ?
Tacitus (Greek History) 100 AD 1,100 AD 1,000 years 20
 
Biblical Manuscripts: (note: these are individual manuscripts)
Magdalene Ms (Matthew 26) 1st century 50-60 AD co-existant (?)  
John Rylands (John) 90 AD 130 AD 40 years  
Bodmer Papyrus II (John) 90 AD 150-200 AD 60-110 years  
Chester Beatty Papyri (N.T.) 1st century 200 AD 150 years  
Diatessaron by Tatian (Gospels) 1st century 200 AD 150 years  
Codex Vaticanus (Bible) 1st century 325-350 AD 275-300 years  
Codex Sinaiticus (Bible) 1st century 350 AD 300 years  
Codex Alexandrinus (Bible) 1st century 400 AD 350 years  
(Total New Testament manuscripts = 5,300 Greek MSS, 10,000 Latin Vulgates, 9,300 others = 24,000 copies)(Total MSS compiled prior to 600 AD = 230)

Back to the faith thing.

“ya jus’ gotta have brotha” isn’t a bad answer because faith is not an abstract idea, but a measurable substance. Faith is measurable by actions.  Faith is always directed towards something. Therefore, it is the validity of the object of your faith which is important. No validity, no faith. To have faith in something means that the object must have the power to uphold that faith. Like a belt buckle (object) and a strap (faith).

Kinda like Christ, right?

Jesus has the power to uphold our faith. No credible scholar would ever argue the existence of Jesus until this so called “post-modern era.” Post-modernism tells us to question everything & all truth is relative. This silly notion is fun to poke at, but I’ll stay on subject. The truth-statements by Jesus are astounding and worth checking out. Jesus said that he became sin on your behalf to pay the price for sins you committed, and if you believe in him you will have eternal life? Basically, Jesus said he wants to be your belt buckle.

If you are still a skeptic you can literally read the oldest known Bible manuscript for yourself here.

a tragic dream.

I had a dream. A dream that people would stop wasting their lives chasing a dream. Sadly, it was just a dream.

[don’t waste your life. – John Piper, life changing.]

There seems to be this slander of people who radically devote themselves to God. As if someone who gives everything to Christ is doing the most.

It disheartens me because this view advances the notion of a wasted life. A wasted life is the life that would be willing to appear before Jesus at his great white throne saying look at my knowledge of the latest fashions, hairstyles, terminologies, world news, movies ect … ect …

Now, there is a such thing as being missional. Missional is entering the culture & seeking to use the culture as a means of exposing the beauty of Christ in a dark world. Learning about the latest movies & such for the sake of reconciling the conversation back to Christ. But, this view can also be deadly if we fool ourselves to think we are watching a movie for Christ when we are actually watching it for self-gratification (I Cor 10:31).

We, & I truly mean we, are so infiltrated by the American Dream that we have no idea of how deep our idolatry goes. We place things before God & offer more time, money, emotion, & our very lives to attain these things. Even using God as a means to work for Him & expect Him to owe us due to our service of Him.

There are unevangelized, filthy water drinking, starving, persecuted, crying out for the gospel of the grace of Christ people in the world … while we waste our lives talking about them. Not doing anything. Talking about them.

Our job as disciples of Christ is to make Christ beautiful.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—(Philippians 3:7-9 ESV)
Give radically & reap radically.  Give up your life for Christ & you will find your life. Where your treasure is, your heart will follow. Sow radically into the kingdom of Christ with service, monetarily, prayer & fasting. Reap spiritually blessings that would far surpass anything you’ll ever attain from the rubbish this world has to offer. Be found in Christ death on a cross, by faith, & find your life in his resurrection.
Know that your standing with God is based on Christ & His righteousness. So regardless of your giving your position with God is unchanged. But please, do not waste your life. Do not approach Christ as an additive to your life. Respect Jesus as Lord & abide in him as he abides in you.