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

Break Free: “One in the Gospel” (Galatians 2:1-10)

Radio Reconcile

 

Radio Reconcile

Mission Trip: New Orleans.

After months of fundraising, faithful supporters and prayers, this past week, myself and 9 other people were gifted the opportunity to travel to the vibrant city of New Orleans on a mission trip hosted by Mission Lab of Vintage Church in Gentilly, New Orleans, LA.

We stayed at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the accommodations were excellent.  Our days started early at 7 a.m. and ended around 11 p.m. with activities for every hour of every day.  We were fed some of the best meals each day and we were given the opportunity to hear a message from the pastor of the church and his friend every other night while we were there.  The theme of the messages were “Loving the City” with emphasis on our responsibilities as the church.

Throughout our week in New Orleans, we were taken around the city and we were assigned various evangelistic opportunities such as renewing a baseball field, sharing our faith on different campuses (University of New Orleans and Xavier University), giving to the displaced people in the downtown area, prayer walking in the Irish Channel (one of the highest crime areas in New Orleans), visiting the Lower Ninth Ward and much, much more.

Visiting the city, I assumed that my assignment from God would solely be spreading His Gospel of Salvation and drawing others closer to His goodness.  That was only one part of the assignment He had for me, and I can confidently say the same on behalf of those who went with me.  He revealed and taught to us that the church is NOT the building that we walk into and go out of.  Instead, the church is WHO WE ARE.  Missions is not some task to be accomplished on a checklist.  It is a desire from God to reach the souls of others and for Him to sanctify and teach the souls of ourselves.

We were greeted with all types of personalities in New Orleans and everyday came with a new surprise.  I expected nothing of what I experienced and it was a journey that God took us on to not only speak to others, but for Him to speak to us a message we take lightly: love your neighbors as you love yourself.

Here are a few photos from our week in New Orleans and you can find a day-to-day summary with more photos at this website: http://ratedh.tumblr.com.

We stopped on our way to New Orleans to get something to eat.  It’s true when they say everything is bigger in Texas!
Our first night of worship.

This was our first assignment: to dig bases on a baseball field.
We visited the University of New Orleans to share our faith with the students on campus and we teamed up with students from Xavier University and a school from Georgia.The man on the right was preaching the Gospel while the young man on the left spoke against it.
This is a teddy bear that was found in the debris after Hurricane Katrina.
French Quarters.People search everywhere for the truth.

This is the Super Dome.This is our dear friend Mike from Mission Lab telling us about the Irish Channel before we began our prayer walk.
This is Kirk Joseph, the son of trombonist Waldren”Frog” Joseph.  He was just sitting out on his porch as we approached him and he offered us water, encouraged us with the song “When the Saints Go Marching,” told us about his late father and prayed with us in his home.  Add him on Facebook! :)
This is Waldren Joseph, Kirk’s father.  He has a wall in the house.This is Ms. Kathy.  We saw her on the corner of a street cutting grass from the cracks of concrete.  She said she had worked in an office for so many years that any chance she gets to go outside, she takes it and she goes out to help clean up the community, in the Irish Channel.  Her prayer and many others were the same, that the violence would stop and that children would stop killing one another.
Getting ready to give baby wipes, water, snacks and prayer to the displaced people in the New Orleans downtown area.

This is Mickey.  He was such an encouraging inspiration.  He said that all he plays is Gospel music and people hate that he does it.  But because he knows what God has done for him in his life, he refuses to stop praising him through song!  He even played and sang a tune for us.
During some down time, we heard live music and the guys decided to take advantage of it by enjoying the music and dance with strangers that became friends.
the levees right before we entered the Lower Ninth Ward.
If you look closely, you can see rust on the white thing that is hanging on the pole – that is where the water surfaced during Hurricane Katrina – 16 ft.  This is in the Lower Ninth Ward where the hurricane did the most damage.
This was our lot to clean out!
This is Ms. Linda Jackson, the President of the Lower  Ninth Ward Homeowners Association.  She gave us our assignment as well as some background information on Katrina and the Lower Ninth Ward community.
As we were working hard, we were greeted by Stanley Stewart, a Katrina victim, who now has an incredible story to share with the world.  He invited us in to tell us his story.
Stanley Stewart is now a renown name with an inspiring story on the rebuilding of his home, of his future.  Visit his website here.
Our lot after a long time of hard work!!!  God gave us some strength because it was a tedious task under the sun!
In return, God sent the ice cream truck right down our street and we were TOO excited!!!
The next day, we visited Xavier University to share our faith with college students.
These are the students of the Impact group at Xavier that we teamed up with.  They were a great help!!!
We got to park and ride on a trolly that took us downtown!  It was the longest ride ever.  But we all got to talk to other people riding  the trolly about their experience in New Orleans.
Live music and good food!

Our last night out together in New Orleans!!!

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.

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

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

everyday.

swagg don’t matter!

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!

now enjoy, the official video (we’re all up in this video! lol) to the new single off of the “burn this city (ep)” (available for free download) …

reconcile ft. corey paul – swagg don’t matter!

for more peep reconcile’s official website!

Sweet Failure

Learning to accept failure has been hard for me.

Growing up I took a lot of pride in being a good kid.

I was rambunctious in elementary school, but always with a sort of nerdy catch. Like: I wouldn’t do my work in class because I was reading ninth and tenth grade level novels in my desk. Or: I’d be tardy after lunch because I was too busy discussing the differences between the Catholic and King James Bibles.

I was weird; but as I got older I turned these odd tendencies into the key pillars of my identity.

I took pride in:

  • my desire to learn
  • my appreciation of diversity
  • my ability to excel academically (if I decided to apply myself)
  • my willingness to embrace the odd and the old and the unpopular (I studied Latin for four years)

And for me failure was unacceptable!

I just knew that if I really applied myself, really exerted enough effort, that there was nothing that I should not be able to do. Nothing.

But all that changed!

In The City we walked through book of Romans and my own shortcomings were undeniably exposed:

10as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”

Romans 3:10-12

The book showed how both by my standards and by God’s standards I was an imperfect and rebellious creature.

If I was following my own standards – I never quite lived up to them. I always made little exceptions (like “I’m a good student, if I apply myself) so that I didn’t have to acknowledge my own lack.

By God’s standards – the fact that I had even created my own standards was a sign of my rebellion against Him.

And the reason I had created my own standard was because 1.) I knew that I couldn’t meet all of God’s standard (partly because by the time I’d actually sat down and read all of Leviticus and Deuteronomy it was too late – not that I was keeping up with 10 laws that I did know) and 2.) because I still had an understanding of what right and wrong was and still knew cognitively that I should be trying to do something at least kind of right (though I refused to even live up to my own lower standard 100%).

At that same time I was struggling with my classes, struggling with adjusting to the very different cultural make-up of the University of Houston (definitively situated in 3rd Ward, Texas), and struggling with applying all of the random knowledge that I had spent my short lifetime collecting.

It was undeniable: though I had prided myself on being a certain type of person and doing certain types of things I was unable to actually be  and consistently do those things.

If the true test of success was measured on a pass-fail standard, I had failed.

Thankfully:

Romans 3:21 – Romans 10 or 11 are about God’s epic plan to deal with our inherent failure through what is called the Gospel or Good News.

God understood that we all fail and He sent a Man who did not.

He gave this Man the punishment that we all deserve and credited all who trust him as Savior and follow him as their Lord with the perfect life that He lived on Earth.

He then raised this perfect Man on earth as proof that this Man is righteous and that we in him can look forward to an eternal Life like He now lives in heaven.

On top of that – God even provides the faith that we need just to trust and follow him.

He understands our insufficiency and made a provision to satisfy His own justice and show us loving mercy.

The 1st step though is acknowledging our own failure.

In our current study in 1 John on Real Faith the first chapter tells us this:

8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Basically:

An acceptance of your own failure is the first step to walking into the success of Jesus Christ.

And so, what has always been so bitter for me, has become a sweet reminder of the love that God has for me and his gracious goodness in spite of me.

heal me.

I write this as something that has been weighing heavy on my heart. I write this because I have only told no more than a few people. I write this because I once couldn’t talk about it without a hand full of tears.

A few years ago, my sophomore year in college, I was living a reckless and meaningless life. I went to school during the day and worked the clubs at night.  However, as time passed and as the money started to get good, I placed more importance on work, rather than school. Pretty soon my work was all I really had. The money was good so I really had no complaints, but with that mentality, I made no room for other things such as school, family, friends, and dating. This was not until I ran into an old classmate at the local grocer, and there we exchanged numbers with hopes of catching dinner to reminisce and play catch-up.  After I walked away from the conversation, I had no real intention of following through with anything we planned. Like I said, I was busy with making money. I had no time for anything else. After exchanging numbers, he persistently called me and text me, trying to arrange a time where we could meet up. After a couple of missed calls and unresponsive texts, it went from “let’s hang out” to “I want to take you out to dinner.” It was only when he expressed a small crush on me that I started to respond and warm up to the idea of a date. Weeks went by until we finally arranged a time and place to meet.

So I cleared my work schedule for this particular night for us to go out on a date. In my head, I did not trust many people due to my work environment, but I went to high school with this guy, so I let my guard down. He picked me up from the house and took me to, what then, I thought was a fancy restaurant. That night he was the perfect gentleman.  Because of his kind actions I started to think there could be a second date in our cards. It was not until the night was coming to an end when things took a turn for the worst. What first started out as just hanging out after dinner, he then popped in the “movie.” But we never made it mid-way into the movie until, of course, he made his move on me. What was then welcome turned into uncomfort. My moving away and “NO” was not enough to stop this guy from whatever he had on his agenda.  I could only lay there as an unwilling participant, waiting for the moment to be over. What may have been 10 minutes felt like an eternity.

I had just been raped.

After that I went straight home to wash off the night, the experience, and the shame off my body. But days of scrubbing and washing did not rid the shame. Shame then turned to anger toward everyone around. My anger was even aimed at God.  I thought I was His child? Why would He allow someone I knew from highschool make me another victim? I thought He would never leave me! I was so angry at the world that I started acting out my anger consciously and subconsciously.

This is when the heavy drinking kicked in. I drank so much it became daily. This is when I started offering up my body to anyone who was interested. This is when I no longer cared. My mindset at the time was, “its just sex, no big deal anymore.” I was so selfish in thinking, that all I could do was look at myself as a victim. It never dawned on me that I was not alone. I never once thought to look to Jesus as my healer. Instead, I looked to alcohol, money, altering my exterior, and another man to heal me. But none of those things lasted. It was not until I had enough of the rebellion that I came crawling back to God to forgive me and heal my open wounds. I told him to take my life, because if He didn’t, my rebellion (sin) would just lead to me killing myself. I am so glad He answered my cry, because I was tired of playing the victim with the baggages of hurt, shame, and guilt.

Its not that God had left me, it’s that I never wanted to hear his voice. I never thought He was sufficient to heal my pain. I selfishly belittled God’s power with doubt.  However, I can now say that I have forgiven the situation, because my Father has forgiven me countless of times.  I know that although this has happened to me, and many of my sisters, it doesn’t take away from God’s love. And I know that because Jesus died on that cross, God accepts me.

I write this to you, not to evoke sympathy from you, and not to create an awakardness. But I write this so that you’ll know that you are free from your past. When you got saved, the old you died with Christ on that cross. When Christ rose on the third day, so did the new you. You are a new creature, who no longer has to carry the baggage of what has happened in the past. The past is your testimony to bring Glory to God. So go out and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Tell em what God has done for you.