Sunday, March 27, 2016

Being Alone… and the Resurrection of my Relationship

I attend a church with 1000’s of members. On a typical Sunday, I get to church, I look for friends to sit with, and most weeks I sit in the same area around some of the same strangers. There’s always a few new faces around, but even with the new people it’s amazing how you can be literally surrounded by people and still be and feel alone, disconnected and just part of the crowd.

I’m a natural introvert so the most draining part of service is when the pastor starts talking about “tell ya neighbor…touch ya neighbor…hold hands and look deeply into your neighbor’s eyes…” It’s just gets awkward at times. I don’t like randoms in my personal space like that so I just want to look forward and ignore all those Simon Say instructions.

I know that God says “For where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them (Matt 18:20).” Are we really gather together if I am disconnected? How am I part of the gathering when I feel alone?

I’ve been out of town the last few weekends for various reasons so I hadn’t been to Sunday service. I’ve even had several conflicts on Wednesday evenings so I’ve been missing Wed night bible study. I’ve been tired so I slept in instead of getting up early before work to read/pray before work. Yes, this sounds like a bunch of excuses and the result is I feel more alone and disconnected than ever.

Today is Easter Resurrection Sunday. I drove back into late last night from a wedding in Alabama with the intent of joining all my new random stranger friends for the mega service at church. Today was going to be the day for me to get my life together by being one of 10000 people joining together to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yes! This one Sunday service was going to fix all my problems, put me on the straight and narrow and rejuvenate my relationship with God! One stop shop!

I laid there in bed – drained at the very idea of all those random people. I felt like I should go because that’s what everyone expects of a good lil Christian. I was worried about what everyone else would think since I hadn’t been to church in a while (month) and was now one of the people who only attend on Easter.

I didn’t get up or get dressed. I laid there. Thinking. I thought about the things I need to do resurrect my relationship with God. The things I hadn’t made a priority and the distractions I had let take their place. I thought about how my relationship has nothing to do with being in a place with others or how fly my new suit is. It’s about the things I do when no one else is around, the thoughts I have that no one else can see, and the faith and feeling I have internally – whether I’m physically alone or not.

As much as my friends/pastor can help and guide me, my journey in Christ is an individual one – so I’ll always be alone. But I’m ok with that.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, - John 11:25

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Hypocritical Church
I’ll say it…and even admit to being one at times, but there are a lot of hypocrites in the church. I mean the ones that look down their nose at you and are doing just as much dirt – if not more. I mean the stand in the pulpit but got a mistress and a side chic, embezzling the building funds while preaching about tithing type. OK…I’ve never been that bad. But you get the point. Folks in the church just as lost and sinful as the ones on the street – we just pretend better.

We can have and know the Word but if we, the church, aren’t following it we’re no better than someone who never knew God. We want to act like we have it all together – we don’t. And that should be the last reason why we scold someone else for not living right.  John 8 speaks of a woman caught in adultery. Keyword being “caught.”  We want to point the finger and persecute those whose sins are evident. We feel better highlighting what someone else did. What about us? What about what we did… but didn’t get caught. Her sin was brought before the masses, but how much more do we do behind closed doors?

The crowd is so ready to judge and punish her until Jesus says, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7) Can you imagine the silence that fell over the crowd? Jesus probably sat there and had a sip of tea while he waited. The same people who came to see her stoned had to slowly sneak away – admitting their own guilt. if at Sunday’s service, pastor asks for us to confess our sins to the crowd. Let’s be real…we’re not ready. So stop being so ready to throw someone else's dirt in their face. The church should be welcoming to sinners wanting to be saved. What good is a hospital that only admits healthy people? Or a restaurant that only serves full people? The church is for us – those who are inherently sinful wanting to be better.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why All the Hoes are Getting Married
It’s Valentine’s season, people are in love, and couples are getting engaged. Guaranteed there is a woman somewhere getting a ring and other women are in disbelief that she’s getting wifed up because she was a little promiscuous in her past. These other women are probably thinking about how they’ve lived “right” and go to church and how they deserve a good man and a ring. They’re sitting there complaining and at least one of them will say, “how come all the hoes getting married?”

It’s not our place to judge or question why something is happening in another’s life. But here’s what the word says, “But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.” (1 Cor 7:9). So basically, if you can’t keep your legs closed or keep it in your pants – go ahead and get married, you’re biblically married anyway.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying; non- promiscuous people get married too. Those aren’t usually the people that everyone wants to judge and second guess. So for the rest of us have the strength to wait… so stop complaining and be patient.  What God has laid for us will happen in due time and now just isn’t your time. Don’t be in a rush or envious of what someone else has… you’ll end up with the wrong one.

“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22)

Mystery solved.

Friday, February 12, 2016

God Knows My Heart

The other day I had a thought – a very honest, blunt and extremely fleshy thought. Something I may never say out loud to another person, but I don’t need too. The moment I thought it, I realized I wasn’t ready for the situation - because if it came to pass I had already declared I wasn’t going to act right. I need time to get my mind right. No one else knows the thought but me and God. Only He knows my true thoughts, wants, & motives. He honestly “knows my heart.”  My heart may be hidden from man, but not from God.

“What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart…out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19).

I hate when I hear people use “God knows my heart” to excuse their behavior. This is actually the worst excuse because of how true it is! If you read Matthew 5 it gives us guidance on how God is less concerned with your actions than the feelings behind them.

Knowing God’s word is worthless if you’re not going to follow it (5:20) It’s not enough to not commit murder, we shouldn’t even be angry – a feeling (5:22). Adultery is wrong and mentally lusting over someone is just as bad (5:28). Wow! It’s hard enough to not to act fleshly – but now I can even THINK IT!

God is not concerned with our physical circumcision but the word tells us that “circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by a written law (Romans 2:29)”.
So yes, God knows your filthy, sin filled fleshy heart – and He will continue to work on you and you should do right because you love him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Going Nowhere Fast

I run. 1 mile. 3 miles. 5K. Obstacle courses, etc. I run…I run to stay in shape, for stress relief and to train. But the point is… I run. Not to get anywhere in particular. There is no destination. I just run. It’s a freedom away from the day’s problems, it’s an escape into my thoughts, and it’s an internal challenge with myself since there’s no other person running with me. I, alone, run.

When I run I listen to music. It keeps my spirits up, helps with my pace and lightens the mood. For a while now I’ve been listening to Pandora when I run. At first it was a Kirk Franklin station, then a Tye Tribbett one…but lately I’ve been on Mali Music. But at one point I took a break from the upbeat gospel and went straight R&B / rap. The beats were better, the music was faster and my times actually improved. One day I smashed a 5k in 27 min. I was really moving. I was proud of myself.

Then my heart got heavy. I had to ask myself “why?” I had chosen to be worldly and secular in my music choice for the sake of an improved time…but I wasn’t going anywhere. And I wasn’t going anywhere fast. How often do we take the worldly path for the sake of a faster result? Is it really worth it?

These days the only place I’m really concerned with getting to is Heaven. Running in circles is fun and all but at the end of the day I’ll be in the place I started. I’ll be sweaty and winded, but still at the same spot.  Whether I listen to rap or gospel the ending is the same.

I know and understand that I am saved through grace & mercy…not through my own actions. But we should follow after God because we love who He is and what he does for us. We are to honor Him in all things we do… including running. If Jesus says “No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) and if my destination is Heaven, I can’t get there via trap music.

So either I can go nowhere fast, or I can take my time and be positively influenced by worship music that reminds me of how great God is.