Do what you want, it’s your choice ;)

October 27, 2012

I believe that God created us all with one thing we could control.  We control our decisions or choices, better known as ‘free will’.  I personally like choice, so I am going to stick with that from here on end.  The reason I find this so interesting is whatever we do or don’t do hinges upon the choice we make.  For me this is the hardest thing for people to accept.  We all can acknowledge our choices until it comes to being obedient to the God who made us.

Think of this: we go to either heaven or hell based on our choice to receive and believe Him or not.  That’s it.  If we truly believe then we take action.  We choose to repent and make that choice over and over.  Some say things like, “but what about all of the people who make the wrong choice, why do they have to go to hell?”  I feel for them.  But I do not see this as a reason not to believe.

I also get the, “what about the people who have not heard the Gospel” objection too.  To this I say, if you care so much, then why are you wasting time talking to me.  Go and make disciples.  I know it is not this simple, but I am trying to get to my point.  My point is if you really think about God’s plan in its totality, you will see what I see.  Perfect love is one that is able to choose to do so.  If we choose this perfect love with the One True Living God, then we are on the side of light.  We will not face eternal death.  If we choose to not choose, we’ve chosen.  If we choose to reject Him, well, you get it.  There is only one way to avoid hell.  But why think of it that way?

I think of life like this.  I do not believe I am some cosmic accident.  So, where did I come from?  I believe we came from an all knowing, all powerful God.  Since we came from Him, why live any other way than how He originally created us to live?  To me, anything else is illogical.  I mean, seriously, if Adam had never sinned would we even know death?  Would we know pain?  Would we know sickness?  Would we have AIDS?  Imagine if sin never entered into the world.  We would not want for anything and live for Him in daily worship.  To me the only good thing about sin entering the world is we know the difference and can appreciate how much better God’s plan is.

Heaven is not some fantasy.  It is how we were originally supposed to live.  Our purpose for being here is to worship a holy and righteous God.  Why then, if you choose not to live for Him on earth, do you deserve His heaven?

What if you have a family member that comes over and eats all of your food without replacing it or asking, is that fair?  Would you invite them to your house again?  Better yet, let’s say they have done this for years and eventually you say, “Look, you either have to start buying groceries to help or you cannot come over any longer!”  I know this is not on the same scale at all, but you get my point, right?  Eventually, if people have made it plain they are not lining up with a good thing, like fellowship with the family you intervene.

Now, think of where we are in the world.  We see every single desire God had for us being shunned for our own selfish desires.  We sleep with who we want when we want.  We kill if need be.  Some of us believe we are basically good, yet in our hearts do not desire to follow God all the way.  It is OK not to seek Him all the way as long as we measure up to the world’s standard of a good person.  This standard is based on emotions, unlike God’s holy word.  Emotions change, but He has never changed His standard.  But the saddest thing for me is that most people I know, who are not followers of the Christ in truth, are not sure what to believe.  Well, I am a firm believer that God calls and if you choose to not answer, then as much as I love you, you will not be with Him once He comes back.

His love is perfect and where that begins is choice to love Him without force.  I believe that Jesus will come back to claim His thrown.  When He does, as much as I love my family and friends, I cannot force you to love Him.  He won’t either.


March 17, 2012

Musings of a Postmodern Negro

been here before you
will be here after you
distant yet seen
consistent and unchanging
here for all to see
will you shine like me
say amen to the words we sing
words that have inspired countless bards and holy schemes

when skies preach
the cosmic choir sings

when skies preach
angels spit fire into our souls

when skies preach
nations bow before the Great

say amen to atmospheric prose
the kind that leaves you weeping
in the midst of helpful foes

when skies preach
they say:

O’ ye lil soul.
Satisfied with pusillanimity
Look at me

We are great
and still shine for others to see

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Motivated by knowing

January 25, 2011

I know most people are not motivated by hard work; especially when their path to travel is a hard one. I can be that way too. As a matter of fact there are times when I wonder, can I even do this? These times occur when I realize that what I am working toward is going to be a major struggle. That is when I can get discouraged. Case in point, after moving into the Franklin Park neighborhood of Columbus, OH we have had murders on Morrison Avenue (which is on the east side of my home). We have seen our neighbors robbed and vandalized. It can get bad enough here to make you question why you moved in to begin with.

Even with crimes like these to me the worst thing I see is lack of personal responsibility and apathy. This seems to lead to a sense of hopelessness. When it comes to progressing while living in the inner city it’s almost as if most people have given up. There are some that have conceded to the condition of our neighborhood. I am encouraged by the fact that not everyone has. Some of my neighbors are firm in their attack against hopelessness. Praise the Messiah for this group of neighbors!

I had a vision where all of my brothers in the Faith were banded together walking the streets, magically seeing the hopelessness disappear. Everyone we passed suddenly began following Jesus and repented of their sins. Just by us walking past them they believed and repented, and then they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. This was not of our Lord. What I mean is the Lord requires us to work hard at the mission he has given to us. We can’t think it will magically occur. The mission is to make disciples. This work can be tiring.  In fact, it can almost seem as though you are not making any progress most of the time. Then out of nowhere you see people come to the faith. Or maybe you meet a few neighbors willing to help one another with home repairs. It might just be neighbors supporting one another through a tough time.

My favorite thing to see is when people start to take action once they understand what it means to be empowered. Maybe they realize they did not take advantage of education early in life and are now motivated to go back to school to learn a new trade. Maybe they start to take pride in seeing the fruit of their hard work. Maybe they receive positive reinforcement from their families and friends for taking these steps to change. And then when they hit a big goal from making these changes they gain enough momentum to never give up and never look back. Then they have officially changed for the better. Yeah, I like when that happens.

At the end of each day I try to reflect on one positive moment with the people in my life. It’s hard some days. But normally I find joy in someone. Something always happens for the good. The point I am trying to make is that we are here by the Lord’s calling. He has allowed us the honor of participating with Him. As His goals are realized in our lives it is His timing alone in which progress is being made. We should not complain about it taking too long to see disciples being made. Basically he wants us to push the boulder up the hill, even if we don’t think we can and don’t see the progress.  Now that I know that, I’m motivated to try harder.

2010 Top Ten Christian Rap Albums

January 10, 2011

I am not going to give a long drawn out description or explanation.  I basically wanted to give my personal top 10 albums of 2010.  What I did was base this on my favorite albums to listen to.  It’s simple; if I liked the album enough to keep it in regular rotation then it was considered.  If I could say with an honest heart (out of the regular rotating albums) that I was always feeling the album then it made the top ten.  Make sense?  Great, then let’s begin.

10. Trip Lee – Between Two Worlds

This is a musically mature project.  People who appreciate variety will like this album.

9. iSix:5 – Unpacked

I love these brothers and can feel their hearts on every track.  Show them some love.

8. Young Joshua – Thinking Out Loud

Man, this dude just keeps getting better and more honest.  Praying for you bro!

7. Believin Stephen – The Suffering Servant

My hometown got the Penguins, the Steelers, and S. dot, game time canon!!!

6. Pro – Redemption

You can feel Pro’s spiritual maturity.  Please stay focused brother.

5. Lacrae – Rehab

Lacrae, need I say more.

4. aTone – Perceive

Man, I love this album.  I found myself  listening to this at work a lot last year.

3. Braille – Weapon Aide

Braille, one of the most underrated and illest emcees of our generation, hands down!

2. KamBINO – Reach

Okay, live, this brother is dope!  This album proves it to the world.

1. Street Pastor – Prince Among Thieves (session 2)

I know this is a mix tape but it was way too dope in my opinion to pass up.  I have somewhat of a bias for Street Pastor since we minister in the same city.  I believe if you take a listen you can’t be mad at me for making it number one.

I want to add “Evangel – Elation Foundation” and (I know it is R&B but it was too good not to mention) “Michelle Bonilla – In Spite of Me” as honorable mentions.  I really like these albums and so does my family.  In HIM!

Voddie sparked a thought

January 8, 2010

I have been listening to Voddie Bauchman a lot lately. He said something so challenging in the “Beware False Prophets” podcast I heard this morning. He said (paraphrasing a bit), “We are Biblically and theologically illiterate. We don’t know the Bible, we don’t know doctrine, and we don’t know theology. That is why we are allergic to those who point out false prophets!”

If that don’t get those of us who do not spend time in our word daily, studying to show ourselves approved, what will? Jesus warned us of false prophets. They use scripture to lead us astray. Sinner’s prayer without a repentance message, people are elders who do not meet the qualifications, etc…we are not standing on truth.

Short and quick message. Get into the word today, so God’s word can get into you!

Today’s prayer…

December 11, 2009

Today my prayer for myself is to be self-controlled, even when I do not agree.  I pray that we all can understand that the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5 includes self-control.  This helps our ability to respond in the way God desires, versus how we desire.  Have you noticed I use the desire contrast a lot yet?  (For those who know me or receive the ‘Prayer for the Day’) 🙂

I am a firm believer that the old adage about people making emotional decisions then rationalize them later has truth to it.  I just qualify the emotion as want.  A good definition of ‘want’ is the combination of will with desire.  Desire without will is like a person with potential who does not apply themselves.  It is useless.  It is not until we apply the will to make it happen that there is progress.  Just like wanting to do something only becomes reality when our desire and will combine.

So, think of doing all that God has commanded in this way.  It is great to acknowledge being blessed, but like James said, what good is faith without works.  If your life does not display the fruits of the spirit, then are you really in good with God?  If you want to be in heaven but do not have the will to make God your desire, do you think you are really going to be there?  Something to dwell upon this weekend.

In Him, Amen!

Choosing family over family is hard to do!

December 9, 2009

Recently I received a written message begging me and my wife to visit her family.  For personal reasons we have made a conscious choice not to.  It has nothing to do with them.  It is about the healing in our own relationship.  Before committing to following Christ I was not the best husband and all of the hurt I caused happened in this region.  It hurts my wife way too much and causes her to drudge up the past in a negative way.  Some people heal from their past in different ways.  Sometimes the healing process takes being removed from an unnecessary situation in order to get your bearings.   In this case my wife has her bearings.

Right now my wife and I are doing well, so now is not the time to test certain areas.  That means traveling to a place in which we know the hurt will arise and then our relationship will suffer for a while.  To us, our love and how that affects our children trumps any other motivation.  We will not allow ourselves to do anything that hinders us.  We know us better than people on the outside.  We’ve prayed and prayed.  We’ve heard God’s word and His word is clear, take care of home first.  Right now that is what we are doing.

I know it is hard for some to understand, but like I said if our household is affected then it is an easy choice.  If we are forced to accept that other people are not patient with us and our choices then what can we really do.  Our goals are different.  We set our children above ourselves and anyone else.  Basically, if not visiting means my wife and I are united in love and peace, then it is an easy decision.

We also realize that our family may feel slighted, and are expressing this feeling of being shunned.  The only thing I can say is sorry.  I am sorry we’ve made a choice that you perceive in this manner.  Truly this is not the intent.  The intent is to ensure our family is strong and not weak.  If you perceive us ‘operating from a position of strength’ and not weakness as offensive, I cannot make you feel any different.  Maybe one day we will find the sweet spot and be OK.  The main thing, at least from our perspective, is ‘not now’ does not mean ‘never’.

The other thing is our home is always open and anyone is welcomed whenever they would like to visit.  I think the big thing from the outside is this is a selfish way to do things.  To us it is selfish in the context of our family’s stability is more important than other goals.  We do see our family as something that needs protected emotionally.  Do we agree this is the ideal way to do this?  No, but it is working.  Our relationship with each other and the kids are proof.  We do not feel like our ways are always clean.  We do feel justified in that it we run our household how we deem fit.

So far, our children are well-mannered, intelligent, and healthy both physically and emotionally.  They are not subject to fights everyday, or drama that children should not see.  Their TV watching is monitored.  They both spend quiet time reading books.  They know many basic Bible stories.  They are not desensitized to violence, or images that most kids their ages are.  They know who God is and why they should give Him their lives.  The best part is they choose God’s grace as what they are thankful for.  Amen!

I guess for my wife this is a little different on the front end.  Her first goal is to avoid drama and unnecessary hurt.  My goal is to subject my family to Christ.  What motivation do we have in subjecting our family to environments where we don’t see him?  For now I don’t know, so for now I won’t go.

Size does not matter. Small does not equal nothing.

November 23, 2009

Lately I have been on a ‘kiddy coaster’. What I mean is there are people in this world who face problems so much more dire than mine. That being said, that does not mean that my ‘kiddy coaster’ can’t jump off of the tracks the same way a coaster going 95mph could. Recently my wife and I have really been getting along. We’ve not had any major issues. Actually we have been on a smooth path to closeness. In the meantime, outside of my marriage I have seen old friends come to the faith and some fall further away. I have witnessed some believers grow tremendously in maturity and some take a few steps back. I myself have had an instance recently where my immaturity in an area was exposed. What does this all mean?

The first thought is that God is in control. How else can one explain that no matter what is going on around them, they always seem to be OK, or better yet, doing well? When I look at the big picture, I see how good things are. But that does not mean every piece of the puzzle is in place. That means I must still need pruned in order to fit them in, right? I have a lot of work to do when a great weekend ends with my wife in tears, claiming I am not giving her any help. Or, when I have a chance to reach new people with the Gospel but offend them instead. Then after reevaluating the situation, I see that I missed many opportunities to take a much different path.

Most people are content to stay comfortable, but I am not. This is one of the main reasons I see extreme highs and lows at times emotionally. I am feeling completely lost today, but at the same time I know it will not be long. God will turn me in the direction I need to be in. He will guide my paths and ways. My heart is to make Him my only desire. I know He knows that. So, when it comes to getting through these lows, I know what He will do. I just don’t know how and when He will do it.

September 30, 2009

September 30, 2009

Lately I have felt more of a battle spiritually. From unwanted images online to things not going my way and getting frustrated, I have a hard time walking out self-control, patience, and long-suffering when I feel stagnant. It is extremely hard to want something and cannot have it. In my mind sometimes what I want is good. That is when the battle begins. I get anxious flashes and sometimes even burning sensations while fighting the good fight. What I feel inside is simple. I want to constantly progress. I get so frustrated, discombobulated, and disoriented when I have to deny myself my own desire of moving forward on a task or resolving an issue. That is my nature. But that is the essence of repentance. Turning from your ways and submitted to God’s. Love is patient.

Sometimes in order to do this I must take a step back or do something against the grain of my instincts. Earlier this year Pastor John Hopler (Executive Director for the Great Commission Churches) called on me during a sermon. He gave this scenario: If I was on offense in a football game and it was 4th down with the ball on the 6 yard line with less than a minute to go, what would I do? I said, like dumb linebacker, “Punt!” “Wrong,” he said. Take the safety was what he was going for. Why? Because taking a step back is sometimes better than pushing forward only to be overly aggressive. See by punting I give the other team better field position than if I take the safety. By taking the safety, although I give up two points, the chance of them starting further away is more possible.

This is starting to resonate with me. I spent some time in Pittsburgh recently. While there we stopped in to visit my aunt Dawn. She told stories of how as a child, living in the Hill District’s projects, I was extremely aggressive. To the point that she thought I may grow up to be a thug. I would take what I wanted if prompted or play football with older kids, although I did not have the proper equipment. I was just going forward all of the time, like a freight train. Although the power is great, sometimes being able to stop and avoid tragedy is wise. A freight train needs a lot of time to slow down. So do I. At 32, I cannot always go hundreds of miles an hour. You have to know when it is time to make the correct adjustment. When going hundreds of miles an hour, you cannot always think quickly enough to know when the right time is.

For me, when I desire something, I have to understand that although what I want may be good, it may not be the right time to have it. I also have to learn to accept that God’s answer is no. That is hard to swallow. Think of when you were a child. If you wanted something and were told no, how did it feel. I remember, just pleading with my own heart to understand why my parents were telling me no. It hurt. It confused me. It made me resentful.

When I think of this first, I have much more empathy when I tell my son no and he reacts with resentment and almost loses his temper. I am getting better, but not good at not wanting to punish him for disobedience. I pray that I can correct him with love more than anger. But I think the key is dealing with my self and the desire to have my way. If I constantly focus on dying to my sinful nature, I know patience will flow. If I deny myself for Christ, I know self-control takes over. If I love God with all of my heart, mind, and soul, I know I will obey Him and suffer for His sake.

From the time we are born we have a sinful nature. We want our way, on our terms. Sometimes that way is to see everyone happy or just ourselves. Either way, it is our desire we want. If we can all deal with that fact daily, then repentance is being walked out. Repentance is turning from our ways. Do not be fooled into thinking you are in a strong place and cannot fall. I am not. I recognize right now that my righteousness is that of a filthy rag and I need a Holy God to wash me with the blood of His son. Praise God for coming off of his thrown and dying so that I can be saved. Praise God. I pray that I can accept that His will be done and not mine, even with what I view as minor issues. God wants all of us. Even the part that wants what we think is a good plan. 1 Corinthians 3 tells us about laying the foundation on God’s plan and not our own or other men. That is the core reason for my struggle lately. I started allowing selfish desires to creep in, oh so slowly. Well right now, I denounce that selfish spirit and accept the will of the Most High, Jehovah God, my provider, my shield and strength. Amen!

But they say…

September 15, 2009

My very soul resents the old me.
The new me hates that it has to fight my flesh.
It desires nothing but His heart as its example.
I can only do that by daily killing of sin and not letting anymore in.

But they say, I need to back off sometimes.
But they say, I need to have normal conversations.
But they say, maybe you should tone it down.
But they say, maybe you should chill for now.
But they say, I seem so holier than thou, and I got no flaws of course, so I’m on my high horse?

Understand that I don’t desire to push some away.

How do I hold onto His love and not speak into them every chance I get?

How do I find a way to interject His word without putting them on defense?

Is it possible or am I too much?

Am I a fraud who only loves his pride and not my Lord?

There has to be some balance between being who I now am, and forcing it down their throats, right?

But they say, I need to back off sometimes.
But they say, I need to have normal conversations.
But they say, maybe you should tone it down.
But they say, maybe you should chill for now.
But they say, I seem so holier than thou, and I got no flaws of course, so I on my high horse?

You see, I use to be, the kind of guy that deep down only cared about ME!
Now I’ve changed my ways, and as a daily process, it feels so right.
There is nothing, and I mean nothing more gratifying than knowing you are in line with the creator of the universe!
He is my provider; my comfort; my shield; my strength.

But there are those times when I look down on those who don’t give Him their all!
But there are those times when I feel they deserve what they get for not making the turn!
But there are those times when I see they don’t even bother!
But there are those times when all I see is the sin jumping all around them, through them, and they love it!

So, I ask myself, “am I doing His will?”
Then I ask Him, “Lord, why do I feel so sad!”
He says, “It is because reproof hurts my child.”
So, although my heart is in the right place, my actions are not always in line.
So, although I want to do right, I cannot on my own, and then is when I see that it’s pride, and therefore it’s sin – Romans 7:14-25.

I hate my sin.
I want my sin to die! Die flesh please!
Die sin die! Flesh just lay it down!
He’s got me on lock, so stop trying to block, the promise of my Father through His son Jesus Christ!

But they say, I need to back off sometimes.
But they say, I need to have normal conversations.
But they say, maybe you should tone it down.
But they say, maybe you should chill for now.
But they say, I seem so holier than thou, and I got no flaws of course, so I on my high horse?