Moses came to God and asked “What is Your Name?” God answered “I am who I am” or “I was, I am” (Exodus 3:14). This old country Gospel song is a good jump off point for this reflection. God simple is. “God Is!” When you are in the midst of despair on the mountain top. “God Is.” Whether you make your bed in hell, “God is.” (Psalm 139:8). Whether God shows up on cue with fire from heaven. (2 Kings 1:10) “God is” Oh Yes God Is. Whether you are in jail and the church prays you out (Acts 12:11). “God Is!” Or whether you find them coming to behead you. (Matthew 14:10). “God Is!”
God is, and we can be happy that God Is. We are not happy that sometimes we have to be in the valley, but we can be happy that “God is” even there. Oh Yes, God is still God. The singer got so happy thinking about the fact that God is still God. God is bigger than my circumstances. God is larger than my pain. I may not get everything I want down here, but I can be happy that a God who has the world’s best interests at heart is above and leading. Oh Yes, “God Is!”
I will not preach to you that “God is gonna give you the house”, I don’t know…But I can preach to you “God Is”…”God Is” is true whether you get the house or not. “God Is” will help you live in the house better or even accept the house you have now. In fact “God Is” will be a blessing to you even if you lose your house…Oh Yes, “God Is!”
I’m not gonna say that you won’t get cancer. You may, and you may not. But I can say that “God Is.” Oh yes the God on the mountain is the same God that is in the valley. Yes Satan may do certain things to you. Don’t let anyone fool you, the enemy still has some power, but it is only for a short time! (Revelation 12:12) The enemy also has limited power, because the enemy can’t take God out of your soul. So go head on and cry, life hurts, Go head on and cry. Go head on and sob, but don’t cry like one who doesn’t have a hope. The hope that God is!
It is a brand new day my sisters and brothers. We have entered an era where anyone can be a publisher. We have entered an era where the multitude of voices makes it difficult to be heard. We have entered an era where a 700 dollar laptop and a 40 dollar internet connection will give you the possibility to be heard by millions.
And yet the church continues to live in the past. We continue to live in an era where the leaders could control the members by limiting their access to information. We continue to try to force members to obey the one whom God has talked to.
Yes that was the era we came from. The pastor, who heard the voice of God, simply told the people what was expected. The pastor knew where to build. The pastor knew when to buy. The pastor knew who should be the other leaders. But now, it has all been turned upside down. And you can see this displacement among pastors. They talk about people not following their lead. They talk about how the people are attacking God’s chosen anointed. Make no mistake about it, things have changed.
Certainly pastors have always had some issues in congregations. A smart pastor would always have something to do if the trustees or deacon board or bishop decided it was time for her or him to move on. But something is different now.
It is more than everyone has degrees. No it is more than everyone having a job. No, it is the fact that everyone has the means of production.
Instead of pastors telling people to shut up because of pastoral impropriety, the people are speaking. Go on YouTube and type in the search phrase “Eddie Long” and you will see a lot of people speaking. Instead of having the ability to simply move pastors the place that they are moving to have heard the story. No information has gone out.
So what can we do? I tell you what we can do. We can start acting like we truly believe the “Priesthood of All believers.” (Revelation 1:6) We can stop acting like the pastor is the only priest speaking to a group who need to shut up and listen. What we can do is for the Pastor now to come to the people are spiritual equals. What the pastor has to do now is convince and “earn” the right to lead. What the pastor has to do now is demonstrate her or his spiritual leadership before attempting to hammer it on the people.
Certainly there are those who will not follow God. But if the majority of your church is against your plans, you must at least ask the question “Is God Trying To Tell Me Something?” If the priesthood of all believers mean anything, it means that we all have access to God. We leaders need to stop acting as if we are the only ones who hear that voice. And we also must come to the people with a mindset of recognizing this.
When the news flashed that President Obama was to make a speech, Then President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden, the one who was behind the 9-11 attacks on the American twin towers, had been killed.
The collective exhale of relief soon gave way to Christians looking at jubilation. and some questioned whether it was a valid response to celebrate the death of this one that many saw as the epitome of evil.
These individuals quickly got uncomfortable at the celebrations and soon we saw the biblical record referred to as many quoted Proverbs 24:17 telling us not to gloat over an enemy. Another Ezekiel 18:32 where god takes no pleasure in death of anyone. And of course Ezekiel 33:11 where God takes not pleasure in the death in the death of the wicked.
Certainly there was a stark contrast between the jubilation we saw among some and these texts that call for a different response. Well then a counter attack came from other Christians with other texts. 2 Chronicles 20:27 seems to demonstrate that God’s people did just that int he old Testament. I am sure that the “rejoicing over their enemas” looked a lot like what we see happening in the United States.
But at the end of the day, I just don’t feel right celebrating the death of anyone. I don’t feel right declaring “welcome to hell” as the Baptist minister former presidential candidate Huckabee did. I had a sense of sadness come over me after the initial feelings of jubilation and victory left.
Is this all there is? Is this all we have to look forward to? Will we simply celebrate “payback?” After seeing the towers go down and the 3K die there. After seeing the deaths caused by the attempts to find him and the wars started in the name of finding him. After all of this, we can say “we did it.” But we still find ourselves in a world where “might is right.” We still find ourselves in a world where pain reins. We still have fear for our children to live in a world like we have.
I don’t begrudge our sisters and brothers for celebrating the death of one who we have expended so much energy in finding. There are issues of “justice” and even cause and effect that are tied up in Osama bin Laden’s death. But be that as it may, I just hold on to that promise of a Great Day that the slaves used to sing about. I hold on to the promise of a new heaven and a new earth that the Bible writer wrote about. I hold on to the promise that my father preaches about. I hold on to the promise of a never ending peace where we won’t celebrate the death of anyone…but instead will be able to celebrate the death of death itself…[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWg_PvRrSjs&w=480&h=390]
Like many other Americans I can remember that night when President Obama was elected. Like many other African Americans, I thought that we would never see this. I enjoyed the time like many others, but then i began to see some troubling things emerge.
There was a Facebook group created with the name of “Let’s Change the word’s form We Shall Overcome to We Have Overcome.”
I can remember the T-Shirts with Obama, Martin, and Malcolm all together. Many thought that they had elected a Black messiah. Now President Obama didn’t run as a Black candidate. No, he ran as a moderate democrat who only talked about race when forced. But for some reason, even radicals (black and non-black) jumped on board the Obama train.
Well, it certainly had to be a problem. And it was fueled by Unrealistic expectations.
Dr. Wilmer and Dr. Watkins both discuss this in this 20 minute video.[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYKzzCQC]
Because of my public ministry, I receive a lot of questions. One question that comes up from time to time is whether the questioner should go to seminary or the location that one should attend seminary.
Ahh…little did I know that ministry had already started. You don’t go to school to get the entrance requirements into ministry, you go to seminary to refine the tools of ministry that you are already exercising.
Also don’t’ expect seminary to help you determine the kind of ministry that you are to enter. Well unless you want to go into the parish. Those of us in other ministries have to kind of feel our way around without much help.
Don’t expect that anyone will care about your ministry other than the ones whom God is calling you to help. Some churches will be very supportive. Some will truly not care and some will go out of their way to demonstrate their lack of interest in the ministry God calls you.
Your Diploma is a piece of paper. Yes…a very expensive piece of paper without much functionality. It is not a key to open doors that you didn’t have access to before (that could happen, but probably wont)…
What seminary did for me is that it opened the door to interdenominational ministry as well as encouraged me to recognize the gifts that I had before attending. Did I need the degree to start a ministry dedicated to the Black Preaching Tradition? No. But would I have without it? Probably not.
I get calls from people pretty often asking where can they find a church to minster. They want to be a pastor, what should they do. No church ever calls them back. What do you do?
At the end of the day. Seminary can be helpful and valuable. But please don’t expect that it will do what it will not do. Seminary will be a fun time. But remember that ministry happened before you got to seminary. And you will do it after.
Should you go…it depends. but if you go, allow it to refine the ministry that God is already leading you in right now…which is what brought you to seminary in the first place.
I was listening to a preacher who condemned as faithless those who did not believe that God has guaranteed us perfect health and the best of things. We can expect that God wants us to be the head not the tail and therefore we can expect the best car on the block. If God is truly a good God, doesn’t God want to give us good things?
The preacher gave two texts to support this theology. We will look at both in this short series. The first of these is Matthew 6:33 that you have heard before.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
The first thing that we must do when looking at this text is note what it says and what it does not say. First of all it tells us to “seek first God’s kingdom.” This initially tells me that if I am thinking about getting the best car and the biggest house that my mindset is not in line with this scripture. No a mindset of consumerism is in direct conflict with this text. Jesus is telling them to seek first God’s kingdom.
In fact, Jesus is speaking against this mindset when he began this passage. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says that we cannot serve God and money. He then immediately begins this passage in Matthew 6:25 with the word “therefore” which means that he is using this thought that culminates in “all these things shall be added to you” to help to attack in us the mindset of materialism that many of us seem to be infected with in Western Christianity.
The next thing that hits me about this text is that it says “these things shall be added to you.” What are “these things?” Is it a new car? Is it a new job?” What is Jesus talking about? so we need to go look at what are the “these things” that Jesus said would be added unto us.
Well the good thing is that we can go to the scripture itself. Let us look at the whole passage. Matthew 6:25 begins with Jesus telling his hearer “do not worry about the body…what you shall eat or drink…or your body…what you will wear.” So Jesus is telling the hearer that because you are not serving money (Matthew 6:24) you should not worry about what you are going to eat or drink or wear.
The first thing that should hit us is that Jesus is not talking about “wants.” No Jesus is talking about needs. We need to eat, drink, and clothe our body.
Then Jesus tells us that the Birds of the air eat, but they don’t’ sow, reap, or harvest (Matthew 6:26). Jesus then tells the hearer that the lilies are clothed even better than Solomon (Matthew 6:28).
Then we get to the conclusion. Jesus says to not say “what shall I eat…drink…or wear” That is what the “pagans” ask. (Matthew 6:31-32) No seek first God’s kingdom and all “these things” shall be added to you. what things? Food, drink, or clothing. These are necessities, these are not luxuries. Jesus is not talking about being the best dressed on the block with this text. No the “all these things” does not include your new job. no it does not include your new house. No it does not include your new car. It includes food, drink, and clothing.
One might be able to expand the thought to include other necessities, but it is not talking about the luxuries that many of us are attempting to make it say. No this text does not teach that if you have enough faith God will give you everything you want. No it does not mean that if I have enough faith I will not lose my job. No it does not teach that.
But it teaches that God cares about our necessities. Now this still brings the question, what about those of us who do not have these necessities. I still wrestle with that idea as I noted before.
But on the face of it, the text don’t say what some are trying to make it say. It is a promise of Jesus that you will have food, drink, and clothing. It is not a promise that you will get the “hook up” more than that. As always I encourage you to just read the text…