Despite what's happening in Ferguson, the Lord is still greater. He is worthy of being exalted and praised. Many people might ask why should we trust a God who would "allow such things to happen"? But I always go back to Romans 8:28: "ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to HIS purpose." God can take what we think is the most horrible thing and use it to bring about the kind of good that will bring Him glory. It's not like God is surprised at what has transpired so far. He is not like us: He knows the end from the beginning. He inspired the Apostle Paul to write in 2 Timothy 3:1-7: "1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
"2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
"3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
"4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
"5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
"6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
"7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Yes, we are in "perilous times" and people are hurting, but God is bringing healing. People are anxious and fearful, but God is bringing peace. There might be chaos, but I believe God is bringing order in His good time. Be encouraged.
This is ridiculous. Yet I'm not surprised. This system was not made for people of color to thrive and succeed unless they are doing what those who have power want them to do. Michael Brown was shot on the ground and once again another guilty person is basically free. This is not right and I'm so disappointed in our "justice system." This is not justice. It's one big failure. From slavery to Jim Crow to now, the struggle is very real and it's as serious as ever.
This issue in Ferguson definitely speaks to broader issues in our nation. And it does relate to the history of racial discrimination here. And I agree with Obama that we need to separate people who mean to do violent acts from those who simply want their voices heard. Progress will not come by throwing beer bottles, vandalizing cars, or hurting people. The citizens of Ferguson need to work together. .... But as I watched the split screen CNN news, I saw Obama on the left and tear gas on the right. ... Not cool.
As many know by now, COGIC (Church of God in Christ) just celebrated its 107th National Holy Convocation in St. Louis Missouri. In the video, which was taken down, Bishop Brandon B. Porter allows a young man, Andrew Caldwell, to share his testimony about his deliverance from homosexuality. Now while I do believe in the power of Christ to deliver one from homosexuality and related things, I believe that the way this part of the "testimony service" was handled was not good. After watching this video too many times, I had to ask myself, Why would Bishop Brandon Porter allow Caldwell to take the mic and basically "preach" his testimony? In my opinion the young man seemed too theatrical to be sincere. It seemed more like a show than a real testimony. Aside from the bad grammar he put on display, his whole speech about not putting on make-up and not carrying a purse, and how much he loves "women, women, women" was a bit extra. I'm not trying to say there are rules about how to give a testimony at a church service, but if he simply shared in a calm voice about how he struggled with homosexuality for a long time, but the Lord dealt with his heart about the issue and set him free, then simply handed the mic back to Bishop Porter, that would have been fine. But no, instead, we get a bunch of yelling and a bit about how he now loves women and he's speaking in fake tongues.
What doesn't help is that the "black church" has a history of having preachers who feel like they have to yell and shout everytime they preach. Why can't they just speak calmly to the congregations? We have all this yelling and hollering and a bunch a runs in long-winded sentences, and poor diction and syntax, that when you ask the average church member what the sermon was really about, he or she cannot even tell you. Really? Not cool.
So that set the stage for what took place at that COGIC convocation. Later after I watched the video, I found out that Caldwell received money after giving his testimony. So we are basically paying people to give testimonies now?
Then another video was put out that was a remix song of Caldwell's testimony. It went viral, of course, and it received a lot of negative attention, so much that when the song made its way to iTunes, the Church of God in Christ threatened to sue Caldwell for it. This is crazy. This is exactly why we don't need people acting out in church. It can lead to people trying to make a profit off of a remixed version of the audio from a viral video and lawsuits.
And we wonder why so many people don't take the church, especially the black church, seriously. We have a long way to go. But in spite of this, I remain optimistic about the growth in spiritual maturity of those in the body of Christ, no matter their race.
Some thoughts on forgiveness as the holiday season is upon us.... As we gather around friends and family, the potential for bringing up past issues is there. But let's be mindful of the importance of forgiveness so we can be the kind of loving and caring people God has called us to be.
Forgiveness can be a slow process sometimes, but if you want to be free from baggage from past hurts, freedom starts with forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a decision you make.
The act of forgiving does not come easy for most of us. Our natural instinct is to recoil in self-protection when we've been injured. We don't naturally overflow with mercy, grace and understanding when we've been wronged. Forgiveness is a choice we make through our own will, but we are also motivated by obedience to God and His command to forgive.
The Bible instructs us to forgive as the Lord forgave us: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13, NIV). Since forgiveness goes against our nature, we must forgive by faith and trust God to handle to help us to move forward.
Almost everyone knows what it feels like to owe someone something or to be owed something. No one will ever owe us as much as we owe God for what He did for us for the plan of salvation. Jesus paid our sin debt for us. Thank God for the Cross.
And keep this in mind: forgiven people forgive others.
Ephesians 5:25 - "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it."
Loving others means sacrificing something for them for the betterment of the relationship (friendship, relationship, marriage, etc.). Look at Christ's example: He sacrificed Himself for the church. Men, it's not all about you and what you want. Sometimes you have to sacrifice what you want to do to make her happy. A happy wife = a happy life. It might sound cliché, but it's true. Men, would you be willing to give your very life for your wife if it came down to it?
And love is not just an emotion; it involves action. You SHOW love. You DO love. Many times it means hugging your wife tightly when she feels tired and deflated by whatever she might have experienced during her day. It means praying with her and encouraging her using God's Word when she feels discouraged or defeated. Sometimes it means waking up early to help her with things so she can get to work on time. Sometimes it means washing all those dishes and cleaning up the house when you might not necessarily feel like it so she can come home to a clean house and not have to do anything, except just chill. ... Love is what makes a house a home. You should be able to say this in your house with confidence, "Love lives here." #LoveInTheHome
I just want to encourage and inspire as many people as I can for Jesus Christ.