Pastor J is not concerned with Charlottesville, per se…

Why not? Because the issue pre exists, and is much larger than Charlottesville or MAGA hats…

I have been seeing for a long time, a growing tribalism that has permeated this culture in a way that was/is surprising to some, but certainly not unexpected. Personally, I don’t see why this is surprising to anyone; especially to anyone who calls themselves a Christian. The ‘values’ that seem to be in the lead in this culture are: Individualism, Diversity, Pride and Acceptance and all of those things are antithetical to The Gospel. If you do not espouse any and all of these things, declaring yourself to be an ‘ally’ of any and every group and expression, you are an enemy. This thinking transgresses all the lines of division, be they ethnicity, class, language, origin, sexuality or religion. It’s all the same issue.

The problem is, that this is a recipe for anarchy, and this is what we are seeing. Every tribe is lashing out in their various milieus, be it the board room, the class room, the neighborhood, or the street. It’s all the same thing. Every tribe wants to assert its rights, declare the supremacy of their ideology, and values, and give no quarter to the other.

Tribalism is the root issue, and the other things grow out from it as ‘values’. As such, one’s interpretation of each of those so-called ‘values’ will flow out of their given tribe’s definition. So at its root, ‘diversity’ is really division.

This is a divisive, angry selfish culture in America today, and the only cure is The Gospel, the very thing that the culture seeks to silence. We are raising a generation of self-absorbed, self-important bratty beasts who are now attending our Colleges and Universities, and being told that the culture should cater to them. Speech is violence, debate is aggression, and opposing points of view are ‘hatred’ that must be silenced. This to me, should concern us much more than it does.

Personally, I am not afraid or anxious, I am more disappointed than anything else. Why? Because I can’t see how people who claim The Gospel did not see/anticipate this. I am not clairvoyant, so it has to have been obvious to more than just me. Those who did/do, and fail to speak on it, for whatever sinful selfish reason, should be beaten with many stripes.

As one who went to a KKK rally near my college in CT. in 1981, lived through my neighborhood (Crown Heights) blowing up in 1991, stood less than a mile from the WTC and watched planes hit in 2001, losing friends and colleagues in the aftermath, (to mention just a few things), Charlottesville means little as a specific event. It is merely a symptom of the never-ending, heart-rooted issues that exist in all human cultures, and have since Cain and Abel.

We are tribal creatures, and we seek to find ways to a) find belonging and acceptance, and b) believe that there is something special about us.

The answer here is in the hands, hearts, minds and mouths of people like you and I, brethren. We are those with what the Bible calls, ‘beautiful feet’.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  – Isaiah 52:7

SDG

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There is Rest in Release

From the Repairer’s Fellowship Service Notes from 2011, seems pertinent right now:

One of the reasons that the people of His day missed/couldn’t receive Jesus was that they didn’t know where the Battlefield was, or who the real enemy was.  They were looking at Rome, they were looking at their freedom from Rome as true liberation.

Much like today, people are looking for whatever nonsense is forefront in the media, when the real battlefield is elsewhere.

But we know where the real battlefield is:

Ephesians 6:10-18 – Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Eph 6:10-18)

A Jewish colleague of mine asked me this week, how it could be that the people of Israel for the most part stayed together during the Exodus. I explained the concept of the ‘galvanizing them’ or ‘galvanizing other’

Often what unites a people is having a common enemy, a ‘them’. One of the reasons that our country is in such turmoil is that there is no galvanizing ‘them’. The pressure exerted from without, forces the compressed to become stronger, closer, more resilient, and unified. We see this in the natural with diamonds, in the Flesh with wars. We see this played out in our various arenas, (sports, politics, religion, family)

What do we understand? We have a ‘galvanizing them’.

I – Satan

1 Peter 5:6-11 – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 12: 10-11 – And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (The blood is the substitutionary atonement, which makes us not guilty in the eyes of the Father, the sacrificial love, and word of our testimony is what identifies to one another and to the world)

(see John 13:34-35, Acts 2:42-47, etc)

II – Sin – Romans 7 (whole Chapter)

How do we overcome?

  1. The blood of the Lamb
  2. The word of our testimony
  3. The whole armor of God
  4. Putting the things of God above the things that we prize the most.

But the Bible is full of paradoxes like this:

*lose to gain*

Luke 9:18-27 – And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

*I live, yet not I *

1st Corinthians 15: 9-10 –  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  (10)  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Galatians 2:19-21 – For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.  (20)  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  (21)  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

*The things which we do, which we believe are for the bettering of our lives,, often in actuality, are a waste of time and energy, and are spending our lives…

Luke 12:16-34

*When pain can’t be released it is shared and if it is not shared, it is spread.*

Romans 15:1-2 – We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

*We are to share (bear one another’s burdens)*

Galatians 6:1-10 –  Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  (2)  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.  (3)  For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.  (4)  But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  (5)  For every man shall bear his own burden.  (6)  Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.  (7)  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  (8)  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  (9)  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  (10)  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

This is after all, the example of Christ

Isaiah 53:4-6 – Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  (5)  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  (6)  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We have to let go, if we’re going to grow – and we cannot be the body of Christ until we are ready/willing to let go…

Fulfillment in life comes from the letting go, not the grabbing. 

In Closing, this:

Matthew 6:19-34

19 “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

The Cure for Anxiety

25 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add one moment to his life-span by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Jesus The Christ

Why post about Eddie Long after his death?

A brother asked me this week, the following questions:

“… you have been posting a lot of stuff about Eddie Long. Why and what is the reason? The man is dead and buried now.”

I responded:

Sorry that it took me so long to respond bro. I was not ignoring your comment/query.

Though seemingly a simple question, it is a layered one. As such it requires a tiered response. My attempt follows:

  • We are required to walk in Truth, and there is a paucity of that in the modern ‘church’, especially when it comes to our ‘leaders’. The man may be dead and buried, but his legacy (positive and negative) live on. As such, I am resistant to the idea that because he is dead, we must ignore the carnage that the man left, and focus solely on the good that he did. It does a HUGE disservice to those who have been harmed, and to that which calls itself ‘church’.
  • I am a Pastor, and I am always painfully aware of my shortcomings and failures. It is clear always to me that I am a recipient of a great GRACE. That said, we tend to in the ‘church’, especially in the organizations that employ what is called ‘The Great man Model’, elevate our pastors to near sainthood if not outright deification. That is IDOLATRY plain and simple.
  • The Bible is clear that there is only ONE man who lived His entire life without sin. The rest, even the great ones, achieved despite or in the face of, their sin, and we are told about their sin as a reminder and an encouragement. How dare we discuss people today as though they have no sin?
  • I knew the man. We were a part of the same organization for several years, in fact we for a time, referred to the same man as spiritual father. The man that I knew was humble, self-effacing, and willing to be clear about the pain of his childhood, and the scars that he bore. But it was clear even then, that there was an underlying issue when it came to the question of sexual sin. The truth is that; issues which are not addressed, not resolved, though they may reside below the surface or in a closet, will erupt, or the door will open. When they do, especially in these type or organizational systems that focus on ‘The Great man’ as the engine, measures of deceit or cover up must be employed in order to keep the machine rolling. This involves other people in the sin.
  • For us who are, as the Bible says, Elders, Pastors, we are to be beyond reproach (1Tim 3:2) this does not mean without sin, but it does mean that repetitive, consistent, habitual sin is a disqualifier. The Bishop because of this behavior, and because of the errant doctrines that he was teaching (which we can discuss at another time) was disqualified.

I hope that this was not too long… God Bless you bro.

SDG

Thoughts on recent events II

I am coming to understand that many people’s blind trust in the police narrative of any incident is not totally rooted in unfeeling arrogance, but in a basic primal need to trust. (I mean they MUST have deserved it, right? See, he had a rap sheet! I knew it!)
They view Police Officers as benevolent peace keepers, entrusted with the safety and care, protection and service of the citizenry. (Thankfully, most police officers are exactly that.)

It is a need to trust that is rooted in a (correct) innate sense that order is essential to well-being and the survival of their understanding of community. (Everybody wants to feel/be safe in their homes and communities)

The problem is that this environment has long been disordered, the system long broken, the weights imbalanced to prefer a certain segment, and contain another, and it is only now that the ubiquitous recording devices, internet and social media bring the every day lives of many in our culture live and in living color to their computers, phones and TV’s, that their fragile-as-tissue paper sensibilities are being assaulted…

But this is some people’s every day, and for those people, they are APPALLED and OUTRAGED that there are people who did NOT know… (How could you not know? Seriously, how could you NOT KNOW)
These people have no reason to trust the narrative, due to what they have experienced, so the narrative is almost always suspect, and for them, the peace keepers are actually a militarized force.
It is difficult to reach across the divide of experience, to come to a place of mutual understanding, forbearance and trust, but we must try.
We Must…

Thoughts on recent events I

I’m only posting this because it occurred to me today, that perhaps this story will help those of my social media friends that do not seem to grasp the angst, understand what it’s all about.

April 4, 1968 – When I was almost (12 days shy of) 6 years old, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It was (literally) a life changing experience. My parents, (and probably ALL of the adults that I knew) were devastated… Completely devastated… My parents (an immigrant, and the daughter of immigrants) had hope, you see, hope in Dr. King’s dream. They stood on the mall in DC and heard him say those words, me in the stroller, and my sister in my Mom’s womb…They had Hope that the very words that he spoke that day could come true. Hope for their children, hope for America, hope for themselves…
I was sad, as only little kids can be sad… Not fully intellectually aware, but sensorially acute.
I remember I had been given an American flag, probably by my Dad, (the proudest to be an American immigrant that I know) and in my anger, I snapped the little wooden stick that it was stapled to… and a splinter went in my eyeball. A quick trip to Brooklyn eye and ear hospital (long closed) took care of that, and I was back in business…

November 2008 -40 years later, we were on the phone together, as the 44th President of these United States was elected, and stood with his family in a park in Chicago, in the rain, and spoke words of Hope. My parents wept, as did I. We had our disagreements, (and I was/am not a fan of the man), but his election MEANT something, for my parents it meant that there was still Hope

August 2016– 8 years later, I’m driving my Dad’s car in Brooklyn, NY with its Georgia license plates, two American flags on the dashboard, and the flag of Aruba (his birthplace) on the back window… Turning onto Eastern Parkway, I get pulled over by the police, who approach the car from either side, one (passenger side) has his gun drawn. They look in the car, see me, my wife next to me, and my Dad, Daughter and Mom across the back seat… I was polite, kept both hands on the wheel, and was polite to a fault.
The P.O. literally tells me that they pulled me over for a non-working signal light, but that as they approached the car, the signal light began to work, so they were letting me go.
(This is of course a complete lie, as once you complete a turn, the signal light automatically turns back off, but who am I to argue)
They wished me a nice day… I drove off, and minutes later, my 84 year old Dad began to cry… PTSD, you see…

He’s been called “NIGGER” so very many times since coming to this country that he loves so much… He was proud to serve in the US Army (even before he was a citizen) taking untold abuse from racist fellow soldiers, superiors, etc because of his beautiful (still at almost 85) richly melanated brown skin…

He’s been pulled over, verbally assaulted, baited and threatened in the middle of the night by police officers while driving alone in the deep south, he’s been bypassed for advancement in employment, he’s seen his wife and children hassled… It was all too much…
For him to see that this still goes on, In 2016 , and now impacts his grandchildren, was too much.

I share his name, his melanin, and his pain. It is consistent, and it is something that causes me stress regularly. But I have to continue to push forward, believing that the land of my birth, the land that I love does in fact love me, even if many in it don’t, and many others find me threatening and fear inducing simply because of the melanin.

I have to have Hope, you see, because I have progeny, deeply melanated, deeply opinionated, beautiful, eloquent, progeny, and she deserves better than what’s she’s presented with. So, I cannot give up, neither can my Dad.

“With the rhythm it takes to dance through what we have to live through, we can walk on the water and not get wet..” – George Clinton