Bruh, Man Up! (Courage)

*Hey fam, this is a series on Biblical masculinity. It’s been a while, so if  you missed the introduction this series called “Bruh, Man Up”,  peep it here:

Let’s be frank (help me Lord)

Candis and I were talking and she pointed me to a certain text that really troubled me (Yes I can admit the Bible bothers me sometimes, but that’s for another blog). This was the text:

Deuteronomy 22:23-27
23If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her,24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.25But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die.26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor,27 because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.

These verses bothered me y’all, no lie. It seems pretty… extreme, but then the Holy Spirit revealed some things to me (thanks for the Bible reading tips Emike). From reading the text I’m going to make some logical, non-leaping assumptions.

From looking at verse 24, there is a righteous assumption made by God that if the woman had cried out in the city, the men would have acted.

From looking at verse 27, men are expected by God to be those who seek justice in direct and confrontational action.

The text makes a differentiation between the city and the country. In today’s context, even the areas we consider rural would be cities back then.  The country at that time meant a largely uninhabited area, primarily uninhabited by men. In today’s culture, everywhere we go we are in a city.

The text illustrates a literal screaming out from women for help from danger, hurt and harm caused by men. Today women also scream out this way, but they also are screaming out through bitterness, long threads of “indirects” on twitter, ranting Facebook statuses, and/or inappropriate twitter and facebook avatar pictures. Women today are still crying out, and as we have asserted, they have been crying out all in the cities-there is nowhere else to cry out.

The expectation God places on men is one of justice seeker. In the text, the men were called to rescue the women from getting abused by men. This means the men had to stand up, confront the attacker and possibly strike him repeatedly, maybe even kill him for the sake of the women in danger.

Now, we know there are plenty of scorn and broken women in the cities. If one walked outside of thier house/dorm/apartment or even got on any social media, or turned on The View for 3 minutes, they are aware of this reality. Again, women are crying out and they are doing it in the cities. If this is true, then why are so few men stepping up for justice sake and stopping the abuse? Well, if I were to be honest from personal observation, it’s because most men are the abusers, and by definition won’t tell on themselves, and many more are cowards deciding to not “do the most” and “mind their own business”, all the while injustice is happening.

Hold on, before you x-out of this blog upset thinking I’m male bashing, hear me out ( and if you haven’t x’d out already, good for  you!).

In the recent words of a known speaker and ministry leader, “there is an epidemic going on around college campuses” and the rest of the cities. The epidemic isn’t “men running around getting girls pregnant and leaving them alone”; it’s sin! Sin produces cowardice. Sin doesn’t confront, sin cosigns. Sin doesn’t correct, sin cowers. It’s this sin that has our males (who call themselves men) acting this way in common society. Most of the men in a very real way are much like the man in the picture above.

I want us to see what God has called man to do, how we have fallen, and the state we are in.  The answer may surprise you, but it may not.

We gotta look to Jesus.

From reading Deuteronomy 22:23-27, we can see there is a victim/abuser relationship in place and that there is to be a person who is to rescue the one abused, in the name of justice and love out of the position they are in.

See, we all (men included) were abused and manipulated by sin. We cried out, but the difference is we enjoyed it, we were all following sin, indwelt by demons and loving the mess we are in [Ephesians 2:1-3]. According to the Law, in Deuteronomy,  we were to die along with the abuser because we were dishonorable and cheated on God, but in love and grace God stepped in and beat back then abuser sin, nay God crushed what was abusing us. Yet instead of killing us along with the abuser, God in perfect justice punished Himself as if He was the unfaithful one.

He punished Himself on our behalf in the GodMan Jesus Christ on a feces and urine covered Cross, delivering perfect love and justice.
Men have to look towards this fact (not philosophy or idea), change their minds about their sin and believe in Jesus. In that new life likeness, man is changed! Only from there can they move from abusers and cowards to advocates of Godliness and confronters of injustice.

Jesus Saves.

Grace and Peace,

“a bitter harvest”

In this fallen world, where we are always sinners in relationship with sinners, one of the most beautiful and protective things God calls us to is forgiveness.  But forgiveness doesn’t always look beautiful to us.  Sometimes holding onto a wrong seems to us to be a better way.  Isn’t it amazing that we who rest in and celebrate the forgiveness we have been given, find forgiveness often difficult and unattractive!

Forgiveness and unforgiveness are not neutral;    each plants certain seeds and each produces a certain kind of harvest. So, it is important to consider the relationship-damaging stages of the harvest of unforgiveness. I am deeply persuaded that many, many people are in some way following this path and many of them do not know it.

via @TGC, paul tripp writes a crucial article on forgiveness and its enemy, bitterness. it was so convicting that just posting it on tumblr wouldn’t suffice. please read the rest of this article here. i pray it ministers to you as it did to me, if not, more. grace & peace.

weighing guilt.

guilt and conviction are two totally different things.

there was a young man who walked backward and forward everyday, head slumped heavily as if his thoughts were weighing it down. all the way down. he dressed himself in his regret, washed his face with his emotions. day after day, he suited himself up in the guilt of his past. always walking forward, then walking backward.

his mind, body and soul weighed too much for him and he sat down on a sidewalk bench. his palms became a suction cup to his face and he began to weep. mumbling to himself, “i can’t believe i smoked that weed when i promised to stop last week. why did i invite her over when i knew it was over between us? i can feel her turmoil and brokenness permeating through my bones, wearing them out. i feel so heavy carrying this guilt with me each and everyday! i can’t continue to be reminded of what i’ve done! i need to move forward! i can’t do this anymore!”

silence arose in the atmosphere and these words settled into his spirit:

guilt leaves you, by yourself, to feel bad, with no resolve. it leaves you dwelling on and thinking about things you shouldn’t be dwelling on or thinking about. it leaves you stagnate, not knowing what your next move should be. it leaves you pondering and that guilt festers within, leaving you to feel bad. it leaves an imaginary weight on you that you think is apart of you, weighing you down. guilt builds a barricade before you, forcing you to never continue on.

however, conviction punctures and moves you. it literally moves you to repentance. and that repentance moves you a step further to change. not looking back. but moving forward. not pondering or dwelling, but rejoicing. not feeling weighed down but lifted up. and conviction doesn’t leave you. instead it comforts you because conviction is inspired, motivated and powered by the Holy Spirit. and the Holy Spirit was sent to comfort us. the Holy Spirit moves with us and not without us because the Holy Spirit is IN us (those who believe in Jesus). therefore, we will never be left alone feeling bad, blaming others. instead, we will be moved to turn away from what we once did. never turning back, feeling bad. because guilt died when the cross went up. when Jesus ascended. it was finished. then came a new beginning.

guilt brings blame.

conviction brings change.

House Rules

Home for the break.  I had about 8 family members fly in to my grandmother’s house for the holidays including myself, which makes for a total of 18 people between 3 houses. Things tend to get a little crazy, we all want to go different places, see different people, shop at different stores, and eat at different restaurants. And seeing as most of us flew in; it is a mad scrabble for who gets to drive the cars and for how long. When we’re all at home, there are house rules and annoying expectations like keeping things clean and helping out, things we’re not used to anymore. When I’m in Houston, I only look after myself, drive my own car, and stay out however late I want to.

But here’s the funny thing about all of us young adults and college kids comin home and fightin over transportation and complaining about rules. Not one of us paid for the cars we’re arguing over, not one of us pays our own car insurance, and while we’re home, we usually don’t get asked to fill up the tank. Furthermore, we aren’t paying for groceries, the light bill, rent, and a lot of us our still receiving financial help for school from our parents. Right about now, I feel useless; I feel like the biggest moocher, I feel like I am completely at the mercy of my parents. To make things worse, I never really hear my parents complain. It’s like they love us so much that they accommodate us and make sacrifices for us. After seeing and realizing this, I had an attitude change and newfound respect to honor their stuff, their plans, and their rules.

Grace & Mercy. Two words whose significance I might not ever be able to fully grasp. But I do know one thing, receiving grace and mercy ought to produce some sort of change in a person. My situation at home reminded me an awful lot about my heavenly Father. Take a deep breath and realize that you just experienced God’s grace and mercy. Move your legs, wiggle your toes, look around you, look up to see a roof, look ahead at your education, at your job, at your friends, consider the fact that He allowed you to understand the gospel. Grace & Mercy. Sometimes we roll our eyes at the demands of God, ask Him to compromise, or accommodate us. We selfishly fight over or take what’s His as if we have a right to it.

The grace and mercy that He shows to anyone who has put their trust in Jesus Christ ought to change hearts and attitudes. That love ought to produce a heart that is willing to obey. That grace and mercy achieved through the sacrifice of God’s son ought to make us want to sacrifice as well, sacrifice our own desires, our own will, our own lives. Realizing this grace and mercy takes our relationship with God from being about rules and selfishness to a relationship built on loving sacrifice and respect. Let God’s grace and mercy sink in this holiday season…it just might change your holiday tune.

my heart

i love this necklace i stole received from my mom. It is a heart with a key hole in the middle. for some reason I love that.

i always thought that only one person held the key to my heart, and i now see that to be true. once upon a time, i thought while in my college years a nice young gentleman would come and sweep me off my feet, and have the key to my heart. (#fail) (#Lsup) Although, it is true that a person holds the “key” to your heart, that one person is Jesus Christ. When I finally accepted Christ into my life as my Lord and Savior, Christ came in and He opened my heart and let me feel again. I no longer have an “ice box” where my heart use to be. I now know how meaningful the heart truly is.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

and since Christ dwells in my heart I have to be careful what I let in and what i treasure the most. Before Christ dwelled, many idols took up refuge in my heart. Such as, my outward appearance, money, clothes, drinks, and having fun. However, when Christ came, all those idols had to evacuate because i can not serve two masters.

Luke 16:13 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

In the scripture where it says “money” I can replace that with anything. Anything that i placed in front of Christ,anything that i felt i needed/was as a slave to. However, since God became man and punished my sin by dying a horrible death on that cross, i am no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6) and i freely give up my life to gain life

Matthew 16:26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

so lets ask ourselves what or who dwells in our hearts?

Matthew 6:19-21 (New International Version)

Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

holiday cheers.

Google Image.

i don’t mean to be the grinch who stole christmas or anything but,

what if we walked around wearing
thorned crowns around our heads
instead of wearing santa claus hats,

have blood dripping down from our temple
to resemble and to remember the sacrifice
God made when He transformed to flesh.

what if, instead of exchanging gifts, we
humbled ourselves and exchanged lives
from being dead to being alive, in Christ?

what if we replaced singing christmas carols
in front of strangers homes, with standing in front
of those same homes, spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ?

would christmas be the same?
would we still be filled with the holiday spirit?
would we accept being filled with the Holy Spirit?
would Christmas be the same?

red signifies the blood that Jesus shed to cleanse us
from all unrighteousness, to make us new, to make us
white as snow – what if we applied this idea to the candy canes

we receive in bulk, would we appreciate or eat them
in a totally different way? would we accept the gift of Life?
or maybe i’m just thinking too hard.

what if underneath the christmas tree was
nothing but a Bible with a bookmark on a
scripture that read “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

would we accept that gift of everlasting Life,
being cleansed to be reconciled with our first love,
Jesus Christ?

or would we sit back and frown,
asking God for the true celebration of
christmas to come back.

i wonder what christmas would be like
if we celebrated this holiday with
more Christ.

christmas would be everyday,
it should be everyday.

i wonder
what it would be like
if we celebrated Jesus Christ’s birth and death


dust yourself off & try again

The other day I heard an encouraging message speaking to believers facing adversity, rejection, or persecution. Let me start by saying that if you believe in Jesus Christ, it is promised that you will face rejection or persecution. And even though adversity in the believer’s life is for sure, what is uncertain is how we will respond to adversity.

No one tasted adversity like Paul. In acts ch. 14, Paul is preaching the gospel in Lystra. In verse 11 the people are  in such awe of Paul that they are ready to worship him as a god. By verse 19 the very same people are persuaded by haters to stone Paul. They stone him and drag his body outside of the city believing that he is dead. By the very next verse Paul, who was assumed to be dead, gets up, brushes the dust off his shoulder, and goes back into town to continue to preach the gospel!!

This is an incredible story. In all honesty, if you threw stones at me I would quickly get the picture that you obviously don’t want me around. I would then pack my things and exit stage right. Paul on the other hand is beaten down to the point where they thought he was dead, yet he gets up only to go back into the same town to preach the gospel again.

This story reminded me that although I could never be compared to Paul, the same power that raised Paul up now resides in me because I placed my faith in Jesus Christ. For anyone who’s been rejected while trying to preach the gospel, stoned verbally by gossipers, impaled with dirty looks from cliques, or chased out by those who try and make you feel uncomfortable and unwanted in the church,  you have to remember that the same power that gave Paul strength, protected him, and sustained him resides inside of you if you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ.

In Acts, chapters 13-19 there are at least 9 accounts of Paul being stoned or rejected and thrown out of the city where he is preaching. At any one of those moments Paul could have said enough, packed it all up and went home to Tarsus. Yet in every one of those situations he picks himself up, dusts himself off, and continues to preach the gospel. He goes on to conduct the network of churches that make up the first believers after Jesus’ resurrection, he goes on to write most of the New Testament, spreading the gospel to thousands. Imagine the outcome if Paul had given up, what would have happened if Paul had given in to his haters??

It makes you wonder, what will happen if I walk away? Who will suffer? Who will miss the opportunity to hear the gospel if I don’t press on? This is our commission, our responsibility. We are charged with guarding, preserving, and proclaiming the wonderful mystery of the gospel. It won’t always be peaches and cream, but our God is for us….dust yourself off!

Last Tear

reconcile ft. corey paul & f.o.e. – “last tear”

as stated once before, the city @ good hope is excited about all that God is doing in and through the members of this body in the field of art! we have photographers, musical beasts of multiple genres (true levites), writers & journalists (evidence, this website), public speakers, amazing painters and sketchers, poets, and etc.! the city has truly been graced by God to have so many gifts and talents in just one body! we try not to take this fact for granted, but instead offer thanksgiving and give all the glory to God through these gifts!

with that said, our own ronnie lillard has been blessed with the talent to spread the gospel via hip hop/rap and subsequently personify the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that hip hop heads like myself and many others can love, appreciate, and honor God all the while!

“last tear” is a track from the “burn this city (ep)” (available for free download) … see more from reconcile at the official website.

the gods of heaven and death part I

I asked someone, “what do you desire the most?”

They responded, “heaven”.

The remarkable thing about her answer was that she doesn’t believe in the afterlife.

I asked another person, “what do you desire most?”

They responded, “heaven”.

The unremarkable thing about his response is that he believes in the afterlife.

Upon deeper questioning these people had the same motive for wanting heaven – materialism.

Heaven is not fire insurance

Heaven is not a place for people who fear hell, but a place for people who love & are loved by God. The first woman that I asked feared hell, but at the same time did not believe that anyone could definitively prove that the afterlife even exists. Quite a contradiction.

Before I knew the gospel I would have told her, “what do you have to lose in believing in Heaven besides living a good moral life free from the repercussions of sin?” (#fail)

Now that I’m learning the gospel I told her, “Eat drink, for tomorrow we die.”

If heaven is not a reality then why care? Why sit in school learning some stuff you could care less about? Why sacrifice your goods to help feed a homeless person? Why not go out & gratify your fleshly desires?

The gospel of Christ is that you get the desires of your heart now & after you die. The tragedy of that truth is that apart from being born again you have a desire for everything that is not God. The desires of man are to fulfill this God-shaped void with everything but God. No one seeks God, no not one (Rom 3:9-18).

Christ kidnaps our hearts and transforms our affections toward him. One of the greatest blessings from God is to be allowed to worship Him. If we are not worshiping God we are worshiping something (Rom 1:25). On the cross Jesus replaced our hearts with his perfect heart.

“The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” –Genesis 6:5

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” –Jeremiah 17:9

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” –Ezekiel 11:19

So now the desire of your heart is Jesus. You will get Jesus now & after you die.

How do I know there is more to life than this earth? Because Jesus rose from the dead & told me so, &  if it were not true he would not have told me (John 14:2).

Heaven apart from Jesus is hell

The other person I spoke to wanted the pearly gates & golden roads. Heaven basically became about material & being rich. Heaven was merely fire insurance & his moral living was a response to the idea of earning heaven.

It saddened me for a moment, but because I’m learning the gospel I knew how to respond.

I told him, “Heaven without Jesus is hell“.

“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” – Revelation 21:23

Heaven without Jesus is a dark barren place with beautiful sights but no way to see them.

Desire Jesus & you will get him. Hell is simply the desire of your hearts, the unblemished wrath of God.

Jesus absorbed God’s wrath on the cross & is giving away his absolute peace with the Father as a free gift. Sadly there is no afterlife: There is only the here & now, but the here & now will last forever.

Forever apart from Christ is a long time.