Confessions of a Preacher

*preface* This may be too transparent for some of you. If you have an image of a crispy clean young man who’s “on fire” for God, read with caution if at all…

There are many times (really all the time) when I just pause at the idea of me being a Christian. I’m so much more morally bankrupt than those unsaved people around me. I stumble into pride, lust, hypocrisy, gluttony, laziness and foolishness often…there are folk who if they had my shoes would be doing much better morally, I know it. I know it because they are in situations much worse than me and are much more moral than I am. The fact that God’s mercy is new every morning is still not fully grasped in my heart, which is a lack of faith, another testament of my shortcomings and God’s grace in spite of myself.

I really don’t NEED to hang around folk. My desire and idolization of acceptance pushes me to hang around folk, but my other idol of self dependence and secrecy push me to be alone. Even when I play spades with folk, often my aim is to win and big up myself, not simply enjoy community. A thing as simple and seemingly innocent as spades becomes a prop to the idol of self preservation and improvement… I glory in being a winner, in being right, even in a stupid game of cards.

As much as I rail against the unloving self righteous pseudo Christian, I am extremely unloving to those people, or people I self-righteously judge to be so, making me just as bad as those I tweet/preach/facebook against. “Oh, I get on your nerves? Then don’t talk to me, it’s not like you’re adding anything to my growth. You don’t like how I preach? Well forget you then, if you knew the Gospel you’d like it. I don’t need your community or your love, I do well just by myself.” The same arrogant, entrepreneurial, hypocritical Christianity I preach against I myself find myself living in with sprinkles of “Gospel-centeredness” on top.

I work hard. Very hard. 3-5 jobs hard. I justify it by saying I’m giving it and saving it to plan for a family that will glorify God. I hardly give to the local church as much as I budget initially, and even when I do I battle a fierce beast of pride and self righteousness. I don’t look to the fact that Jesus has established me through His work on the Cross because I look at my own work and think I am established, or at least close. I fail to work out my salvation with fear and trembling and instead work to fill my pockets with fearless pride. I justify who and how valuable I am through the jobs and money I have saved, the things I can afford on my own, failing to realize God is the one who gave me everything to earn what I don’t even give back to Him.

….I could go on. But pause and think about this: God through Himself saved me knowing I would be where I am and loves me enough to continue to not leave me or forsake me, but in fact sanctify me. He continues to reign down on my life…mercies and grace. My life doesn’t make any sense in a karma sense. In fact, I deserve death, but God in the blood of my own menstrual rags of righteousness said live…I am so nobody. No..body. But Jesus is Somebody and was Somebody for me on the Cross dying and raising for me…freeing me from living up to the expectations presented by my parents, society, even the expectations set by myself. Those character flaws listed are not up to me to correct because they have been paid for on the Cross. Even me re-realizing my identity in Jesus and submitting to the Spirit is done through the mind of Christ given to me by Christ. Thankful.

Please pray for me. I want to love more, submit more, lead more….die more to live more.

I love you.

break free.

I know, first hand, that there are a ton of things we as humans latch ourselves on to as if we are leeches, refusing to let go of something until we find that complete satisfaction.  We allow ourselves to be trapped and held captive by things that, in truth, have absolutely NO power over us (if we are saved).  For instance, our old dirt, bad breakups, guilt,  getting drunk, free sex, shame, pornography, even the churchy things like self-righteousness, “living right,” etc.  But in all honesty, there is freedom from these things.  A freedom that can’t be lost.  One that isn’t just felt. One that changes.

I can’t express how deeply sorrowful and deeply compassionate I feel towards people, and even myself, for living in emotional and mental prisons.  Where the prison guards, PORNOGRAPHY, GUILT, and SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, walk back and forth passed your prison cell with a grimy sneer surfaced on their face because they know that you have absolutely no power to break free from their imprisonment.  All of our energy is invested in the things that are futile … we fall short of believing in the factual and fulfilling Prince of Peace who holds the key to that prison we stay cooped up in, dying.

After a while, those chains get too heavy.  You can make one collect call for the day,  will you choose to call Him?  Will you hear Him out?  Will you allow Him to bail you out, to pay the price for your freedom?  Or will you rest, quietly and comfortably as the days pass by and what left you have of your life begins to seep out of you?  What will you do when you hear Him on the other line saying, “You don’t have to do any work to break free from this bondage you’ve placed yourself in.  I’ll do it for you.  Just listen to me.  Just trust me.  Trust who I am.”  Will you believe?  Will you walk out of that cell and not look back?  What will you do?

Come join us as we venture through the book of Galatians starting June 2nd at Good Hope (3015 N. MacGregor Way) every Thursday night at 7 p.m.  My prayer is that our lives will not just be touched, but that they will change and that we will be freed from the prison we’ve been resting in for all our lives.  There is Someone who has power over all things on this earth.  He loves you so much that He wants to free you from death.  I hope to see you there.

how should we respond to osama bin laden’s death?

I decided to tackle this because i know it’s a tough and popular topic that will warrant discussion and edify the body, all while illuminating God’s justice, Christ’s death, & His grace.

Photo by Getty Images.

how should we respond to the death of osama bin laden? honestly, i can’t answer that question with a definite action, but i feel comfortable in answering the question, “before i react, what should i think of in response to the death of osama bin laden?

@2live4him tweets, “Osama got what he deserved, but before you start shouting, what if you got what you deserved?”

@pngwolo tweets, “According to God, I and Bin Laden deserve to be bunk buddies in Hell’s Oven. Rom. 3:10-19.”

proverb 28:5 reads “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.”

proverb 24:17 reads “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad … ”

proverb 11:10 reads “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.”

@2live4him prompts us to, before shouting over osama bin laden’s death, think of how it would be if we got what we deserved. Nat, knowingly or unknowingly, is addressing someone already in the wrong, for they are rejoicing at the sole fact that osama is dead, and from a vengeful view. the only person’s death we should rejoice over is Jesus (because He died for us), and that doesn’t break proverbs 24:17, because Jesus (who we were once enemies of) is not in a position of failure anymore; He is at the right hand of God (hebrews 1).

@pngwolo prompts us to look at the sinful state of osama bin laden and ourselves – which are the same. in God’s eyes, the only true eyes, eric michael ward and osama bin laden deserve to be bunk buddies in hell. sidenote: hell is such a lonely place (since we’ll be without God forever) that osama bin laden and i can be bunk buddies and not even know it because there is no community outside of God. PT’s tweets prompt me and others to see that we are no better than osama bin laden, and that we have sinned against God and deserve to be sniped by a bullet of eternal proportion from God’s golden gun (2 Thess 1). God’s righteous judgment is only right because His justice is just.

now, i don’t think we should be mad at someone not responding like us. the issue is deeper than celebration, but of the heart. some believe they are rejoicing in justice, but could be rejoicing in vengeance, which i agree is “contrary to the gospel.” see, most of us (christian or not), rejoice in the fact that bin laden has been killed, but not at the fact that it points to justice – which should ultimately point back to God, the justifier (it sounds like we can’t separate the two, but we can and do), being just and sniping Jesus instead of us. it sounds small when first read but that’s a ginormous [sic] problem. why? see, death & justice are conjoined twins, but some of us want to focus on just 1 head and ignore the other, which leads to either hyper-_____________ (insert view) or a mind controlled by vengeance.

i believe the gospel of Jesus Christ demands we focus on both death & justice, in addition to grace, not either or. those in Christ understand justice, we understand death (we’ll continue to grow in that understanding), and we view the two through a lens of grace. Christ’s death on the cross is something we rejoice over. why? because it should have been us on the cross! and because He rose! that’s grace! now, we rejoice in this because God’s plate of justice which was specifically prepared for you and i … Christ ate it … while He was on the cross! that’s grace by justice!

how should we respond? we should think of Jesus in all things before we react in anything, and that hopefully results in worshipping God. i rejoice at the fact that justice was served once and for all for me because Jesus became my due justice for me on the cross (2 cor 5:21). i can’t rejoice in Osama bin laden’s death, well, because he isn’t Christ and his death wasn’t for my atonement. i can’t rejoice in any man dying and not knowing Christ – because it seems by his lifestyle and devout belief that osama bin laden is away from God’s goodness: hell. that is no reason to rejoice. ever. bin laden’s death actually reminds me of the urgency to exalt Christ’s finished work since there are people dying without Christ as you read this blog. @2live4him & @pngwolo’s tweets prompt me to rejoice in the grace poured on my sinful self, as well as the death and the justice demanded by God, that I escaped because of Jesus. God the Son’s gracious death saved me (all grace). it’s weird i know, but i simultaneously rejoice in the picture of God’s justice, Christ’s death, and the subsequent grace – simultaneously. honestly, i can’t think of 1 and not the other.

what matters more? how someone responds to the death of osama bin laden, or how someone responds to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? let’s not eliminate either side because they both matter, but which really matters more – if one indeed matters more? can we view them apart from each other? i think the latter will effect the former. you? let’s talk.

here is how Francis Chan responds.

bart scott preaches victory, God talks “trash” and backs it up, and He also has a foot fetish.

in case you didn’t know, the patriots and jets have a crazy rivalry that has definitely been picking up steam in the past few years. back in 2008, espn reporter tim graham says that the rivalry between the two teams transcend games, and on sunday, january 16th 2011, bart scott basically aggressively affirmed the exact sentiments.

who could blame him though?

after a week of intense trash talk that culminated in wes welker kicking some comments regarding jets head coach rex ryan’s foot fetish, the jets avenged a 45-3 regular season whooping with a 28-21 away victory over the patriots en route to the afc championship game against the steelers.

it’s something about backing up your word that should get everyone riled up!

shameless plug.

in case you didn’t know, after the first man, adam, decided to disobey God, humanity and sin have been engaged in a crazy rivalry that definitely picked up after genesis 3 (pt will tell you this all throughout the genesis series lol). but after adam sinned, God (who has a foot fetish, being that he created feet and um, just look at verse 15), decided to do some “trash talking” of his own to the serpent that deceived the woman:

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring [5] and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” – genesis 3:14-15.

after thousands of years of “trash talking,” also known as the old testament, man God backs up his Word (double triple entendre) and avenges sin’s whooping up on man by sending his only begotten son Jesus Christ from heaven to earth, to reconcile the losers back to the only winner! Now that’s an away victory! And then afterward, being the living God that He is, He resurrected in victory!

After the game, a member of the team, the apostle Paul, who was acquired by grace through faith, got his bart scott on:

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities [1] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. – colossians 2:13-15.

oh so now we are back in relationship with God and will one day see Him face to face for eternity?

“CAN’T WAIT.”

King James has nothing on this

HOW MANY KINGS….

I was rolling in the slab (Buick Century 2002-step ya game up ya feel meh?) and turned on 89.3 and this song came on. At first I was cool, but quickly I broke down upon really listening to the lyrics. Check out the questions posed in the song and the declaration proclaimed.

Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe after all weve projected
A child in a manger

Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliness hero, wrapped in his mothers shawl
Just a child
Is this who weve waited for?

Cause how many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn savior
All that we have whether costly or meek
Because we believe
Gold for his honor and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross hell suffer
Do you believe, is this who weve waited for?
Its who weve waited for

How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me

All for me
All for you
All for me
All for you

Me [A Grown Man] and My Bloody Tampons

For A While I Was Comfortable

For a very long time I felt I was a nice guy. I didn’t lie (too much), cuss (too hard), steal (rarely), and generally I was a nice guy (to those who did something for me or were nice back). So yeah, I was an all around good guy, but still nobody’s perfect right? I felt like my good deeds (and my avoiding of bad ones) were like pillows, and I was resting on them, the more good I did, the more comfortable I was. I’d roll around, play in, and rest on these pillows. I really thought me and God were cool. I mean, Jesus is what’s up, but hey I got my pillows bruh, back up. So yeah all in all, for awhile I was comfortable.

Then I Understood the Gospel

See, the Gospel (not music, but the Good News of Jesus Christ as outlined in the Bible) makes it clear that it’s  nothing you do or have done that merits a relationship with God. In fact you did everything NOT to merit any type of closeness with the Holy One, yet God being so beasty in his love decided to send Himself down in flesh and drink the cup of wrath He concocted for those who dissed Him. Not only that but He gives perfection to those who believe in this work He did on a filthy cross. When I realized all of this…I was curious, what was it that I was so comfortable resting on for all these years? It wasn’t anything getting me closer to God, Jesus did that. It wasn’t anything giving me any merit in front of God, Jesus did that too. So, really, what were those pillows?

Isaiah 64:6
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

When you peep the cultural context and the Hebrew, those words “polluted garment” are best translated as rags of menstruation i.e. bloody tampons/maxi-pads. Gross I know. Now, as gross as that is, it was hard for me to let go of my own righteousness. It sucks to say “God I can’t do it. I never did it. You did it all. You still do it all.” That may be the hardest part of Christianity, letting go of your maxi-pads and letting Jesus be your righteousness by changing your mind about your former life of sin and trusting in the payment on the negative balance that Jesus made as well as the deposit of perfection into your account. I can attest truly that Jesus is much better than those menstrual rags. I’ll end the blog with a question fellas and ladies alike:

Will you let your tampons go today?

Thoughts

Thoughts accrue like condensation on the window pane of my mind
Specifically about my salvation
What a find,  or to be found?  To be found for sure
This God who loved me before there was time In the before times I was so self-righteous

Living in hypocrisy, living a life that’s lifeless
And life is what? I asked myself over and over
And over and over
And over and over
Somewhere between the legs I was between and the other obscene things
Jesus took over the starring role and crushed the antagonist of this spiritual scene
I couldn’t play any longer thankful for his work
9-5 ‘ing for so long, reaping nothing but death
Through Him I will live
With Him I will live
For Him I will live

quit lying to yourself. part II

I left off from part I stating drankin’, gettin’ tatted up, & “secular” music aren’t always sins; & how we cannot live up to the law, so …

Christ is Love, literally

So not only was Christ a man, but He was God and God is Love. This might get to deep for some of ya’ll but pay close attention. God is Love and the fulfillment of the commandments is Love. Then to fully Love God and Love your neighbor would be a divine act that is only capable by God. Also to Love man [neighbor] would mean that God would have to prove His words with action. Not any action but the greatest of actions. The Bible states that the greatest act of Love that a man could commit would be to lay down His life, for people who hate him.

Remember the cross. While yet in our sins Christ died for us [Romans 5:8].

Now if Christ has fulfilled the law within us and set us free from the bondage of sin then we are free to love our neighbor and love God without the base standard (law) but simply out of God working through us.

With the Holy Spirit living in us we now have the ability to “love without a limit”. The shackles are off, and realizing how much Christ has sacrificed for me leads my heart to sacrifice everything for people who hate me. To be Christ-like is to grow in humility and sacrifice so others can live.

drankin’, tats, & music

Jesus voluntarily gave up His rights for others. So in regards to drinking alcohol we have to individually assess how it affects us & others. It is not a sin to drink but, it is a sin to get drunk; because at that moment alcohol becomes your god & it masters you. Also, there may be other Christians who do not know of the liberty to be held in Christ and would stumble because of your liberty.

Tattoos would have to be another post, but peep what the rowdy Johnny Pipes has to say about it (tat-tat-tatted up).

Music is a gift from God. God is the only Creator and satan cannot create anything. I don’t believe in Sacred or Secular because that is not in the Bible; man “created” that rule. Individually assess if that music stirs your affections for Christ or if it causes sinful thoughts. Listen to music to glorify God. Like Christ, enter the culture and use it as a means to spit the Gospel in a relevant manner.

sacrifice, in Love

God cannot be deceived and He does know your heart. If anything is not done in faith it is sin. I do not believe tattoos, drinking, or “secular” music to be sin but I give up my rights for others & my own convictions. I personally don’t believe if I got a tattoo it would be to glorify God, but out of vanity. I don’t drink because it’s an expensive habit that I’m scared I’d get addicted to, dishonoring God. Some music I don’t listen to because it causes lustful or hateful thoughts (or it just sergeant gutter sucks). Also I don’t want my freedom to hinder someone coming to know the love of Christ.

Our focus should be for the betterment of others. We should have the mind of Christ who gave up His rights so others could be free from condemnation.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

– I John 3:16-18

Love is an action. So let’s love through sacrifice ya’ll.

NAPPY ROOTS

So much of our sin is rooted in our failure to honor God as He should be honored in our lives

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.”    Romans 1:21

For many of us we know God, we know the truth, and we know right from wrong. But we’re still sinning.

-We’re still having sex because we think it represents a deep love connection and we’re addicted to the passion

-We cheat on our time sheets just to make sure we have enough money to pay the bills

-We wild out with alcohol and foul language at parties just to fit in

Romans says the problem is not ignorance of the law, most know sex before marriage is wrong, lying is wrong, stealing is wrong, drunkenness is wrong, and most of us know that profanity offends God.

The issue lies with our  hearts.  We fail to honor God as supreme ruler over everything in our lives…

-If we honored God as our Supreme Lover and Closest Friend, who created the deepest love connection through His son Jesus Christ, we wouldn’t seek love and passion in sex. We would learn that our relationship with God the Father is deeper than any love connection sex could form.

-If we honored God as our Supreme Provider, we wouldn’t need to cheat on our time sheets in order to make sure the bills got paid, we would rest in His ability to care for His children

-If we honored God as the most important person in our lives, truly believing that His opinion is the only one that matters, we wouldn’t sin just to fit in at parties. We could rest in the fact that He chose us no matter what we look like or how ‘cool’ we appear.

For most of us we could trace a lot of our sins and find them rooted in our failure to honor the God we claim to love as He should be honored. If we say He is the ultimate, if we profess that He is our everything, then we have to honor Him in our lives as our ultimate. This means giving him the top spot in our lives, making Him our top priority. A lot of us believe in the power of Jesus Christ, but  how many of us step out on our faith and allow Jesus to be our everything??? How would our behavior change with God in the top spot?