Handling the Well Well! (John 4)

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This weekend, I was honored to share the Gospel with my Anglo brothers and sister church in Jersey Village.  What a powerful time we had digesting the word, confronting ignorance and rallying around truth.

The Word came from John the 4th Chapter.  We looked at Jesus and the Samaritan woman, the implications of their meeting, the victory in the encounter, the future of the faith, and the results of the moment.

Jesus, a Jew, encounters a Samaritan woman at the well.  Not only does He speak to her, but he ask her for a drink of water. “Will you give me a drink?”  He ask her, only to be greeted with her observation of his differences and the current tradition and culture in which they existed.  Though both from Jewish heritage, the Samaritans had been shunned for both staying in the land and marrying outside of their Jewish heritage, by the Jews that returned to the land after the exile was over.  They continued to worship Yahweh, but had a separate temple (which was eventually destroyed), and sat like the Jews studied the writings of Moses, and waiting for the Messiah to come.  jacobswell

Here Jesus has an opportunity to make true the Word He just spoke to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son, that everyone who believes…..should have ever lasting life.” (v 16)  Well Jesus, what about the Samaritan?  This people group that has been ostracized and considered no longer family.  As we see, they wouldn’t even drink from the same bucket, though they drank from the same source (Spiritual Parallel).  We find this in that she was willing to serve him, but was knew their history wouldn’t encourage either to drink with or after one another.  Sounds familiar?  But what would Jesus do?  Was His Word true?  Would he step outside of tradition, and risk not only being seen with her, but be open to drinking from her bucket?  Would he shake her hand? Would he acknowledge her as a person and then as a Child of the King?  Or would His environment that spoke of them as less than overrule His Word at the well?

Well, we know the story!  He put aside the ignorance of the time, and handled this well encounter with grace, mercy and truth.  Thus the question was asked, “How are you handling your well encounters?”  I compared the encounter at the well to the encounter with Nicodemus.  Nicodemus came under the cover of night as not to unravel his social status and economic flow, where as Jesus, who was not concerned about social appearances, showed His true concerns was about truth and the Kingdom!  Are you there?  Are you only addressing truth in private?  Only concerned with the cares of this world?

The reality is that most of us cower at the well.  We not only won’t speak, but if we do, we won’t drink, and in the extreme case of exhaustion, will dip, but won’t share truth.  I believe that the spread of the Gospel is being hampered by social norms.  Many of us see truth, but don’t want to extend a hand in that could cause us to loose or suffer.  We fear the criticism and sanctions of man more than we do the displeasure of our Lord.  We are missing opportunities to spread the Gospel because we keep our mouths closed when we find ourselves uncomfortable or unsure, when the Holy Spirit must reign supreme in these moments.

The encounter continues, leading to these words, “But the time is coming-and now is here-when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth...” (v. 23)  He refers to the geographical places of worship of the Jews and Samaritans, and says, the time is coming where we will all worship together in Spirit.  This Spirit and Truth will be the key components to our worship, now our nationalities or social standing.  One day, we will stand before the Lord and have to account for the political stances we have taken that have over ruled God’s Word.  Jesus was not a politician kissing babies for vote, He was the truth in motion, living out the Word, which He was, and came to fulfill and reveal.  So to do we have to be!  We must be people who live to advance the Kingdom, living in truth, and responding with truth and love.  We must put aside our differences, and understand that we are one Body, with one Spirit under one Lord, via one Death!

We continued, acknowledging the power of one encounter with truth!  This Samaritan woman, ran back to her town, leaving her water jar and rope, and spread the word at such a rate, that Jesus had to stay for 2 days to minister to the residents.  What power does your witness have?  How far could your testimony to truth reach?  How many lives could be saved via your obedience?

When we commit to putting the Kingdom first, the Kingdom of God will not only advance, but is subject to explode.  We will see lives coming to Christ, showing the oneness that Jesus called for in His body, that mirrored His connection with The Father and the Holy Spirit.  Our oneness is part of the testimony that bares witness as to the power of God.  Until we harness the power of love and apply it towards our differences, we will always show flashes of His will, and not abide in it.

#PastorJDO3

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Contributions from an 8 Year Old….(Camp Exalted)

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This week, a unique experience at Camp Exalted was had.  Many lessons were learned both from the study, the teaching of the Word and the Applying of His message to everyday life.

What a wonderful morning it was.  Blessed by two outstanding messages form the 7th & 8th Grade deans, I returned to my room to find it cool to the skin, and the bed made well.  Impressed that the camp had turn down service to the rooms, I felt extra blessed! CampExalted

The next day, the same routine.  Blessed to find the excellent service of the team from Camp Copass.  Time for a quick shower, opening to door only to have my smile dashed by the site of this mornings towels.  I found it hard to hard to believe that the team did such a marvelous job on the beds and living facility, and neglected the bathroom.  On top of that, the trash cans weren’t empty.  I just couldn’t understand why they would do only half of the job.  Though I had the mind to file a complaint, I thought just to be thankful for the portion being done.

campcopassI pressed on Wednesday to lunch, only to find myself in conversation with my roommate, whose 8 year old daughter was brought to camp each day by a family member, which said, “you know my daughter has been making our beds each day?”  She sat eating with us.  I thanked her for making the bed. Her response, “You’re welcome; I like making beds!”

Completing lunch, Rev. Cotton offered to take the trays up from our meal.  An Elder, we all insisted that we take his tray to display our respect for his contributions to the Kingdom, only to be denied.  He spoke, “I used to work these camps.  I know how much work goes into teaching, preaching and counseling at these camps.  The least I can do is take your trays.  Let me serve.  Yall get back to work!”

The next morning, I stood next to the bed, and began to make up the bed.  I was impressed, but didn’t want an 8 year old cleaning up after me.  Surely, I should remove this task from her hands so that she can enjoy moments as a kiddo.  As I finished making the bed, I began to think about Rev. Cotton.  He was adamant about adding to the camp and making our jobs easier.  he just wanted to contribute in any way he could.  What if this young lady felt the same way?  Maybe the way I could say show my appreciation was by saying thanks, and not by denying her the opportunity to show and perfect her skills?

I unmade the bed, and left the room, returned before lunch to find the beds made again.  It was more impressive knowing that her hands had made the bed.  I stood there in amazement, thinking, her skills were so impressive, that I assumed that housekeeping had been there.  Though it was my responsibility, she was selfless, and willing to make right, what I had left wrong, not just once, but everyday.

I thought about our Lord, who often works behind the scenes.  His hands make right things that we have left undone.  He serves us and shows His love for us when we are undeserving.  He aides us in our journey, often doing things to bring us assurance and happiness, even when we haven’t requested us.  He does it not for the thanks or recognition, but just to display His love for us!  Thus the very least we can do is say thanks.

Yet foolishly, many of us would focus on the trash can and the towels.  And as opposed to praising Him and giving thanks, would have a mouth filled with complaints, when the conviction of leaving a task undone should not only cause us to give thanks, but should compel us to wash the towels and take out the trash.

Furthermore, we must learn to not only appreciate the gifts of others, but must afford others the opportunity to serve in whatever capacity they can contribute.  In service, we learn much about ourselves, others and God.  There are also moments that we need to create opportunities for people to serve.  The thought of leaving something undone bothers us all, but the knowledge that someone could use this experience to grow must give us all comfort.  Truly, the Lord and displays this by putting our hands to the plow.  Though it would be nothing for God to appear to the World individually to share the Gospel, He allows us to have the honor of baring witness to others, and keeps our hands busy to the plow making and developing disciples.

I am grateful for the efforts of this amazing young lady.  The future of the church is bright.  I includes amazing young people like her, who desire to serve, have a grateful heart, are willing to serve, and look forward to their contribution impacting the entire world!

A Faithful man; Not Likely (Cries of a 7th Grader)

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Group time, my heart was broken.  A 7th grade youth when asked, “What are you looking for in a husband?” replied “I want a faithful man, but that is not likely!”  As I stood monitoring the group, I was moved to a seat.  The weight of her statement settled in and changed my entire disposition.  It wasn’t sarcasm, but dispare; the hopelessness found in her observations, investigations, and teachings.

This young lady has lost hope!  I thought of my sister and the many little girls that dream about their wedding day, having thoughts and visions of their husband; Prince Charming, no doubt! They envisioned the perfect day and seen, topped of with a kiss that will begin an eternity of bliss!  But now, many youth might have a different vision.  One of compromise, not in love, but out of settling for that which they assume to be the norm.  A sad reality.

Knowing that this hopelessness woul lead to her settlIMG_1065ing for anything.  Because of her fears, she will be succeptable to preditors and undeveloped works.  The preditors is the one looking for vulnerability and a lack of maturity.  Her fears will identify him as an option because her belief is that all others will be the same.  He will constantly add to his stable, making notch after notch, dreaming her more like a “Bottom B—-” than a Wife.  As long as he is cute, he will do.  She will also open the door to undevloped works. The undeveloped works challenge the bond in that they are absent of the maturity required and not ready for the responsibilities that come with the covenant.  Their eyes still wander, and their faithfulness is seasonal and situational.

Her dream is unhappiness.  She has mentally prepared herself for a life of dissastifaction.  She has marked in her journey, the pain of infidelity, and accepted that her marital bond will be absent of trust and filled with heartache.  Her dreams are that of extra marital affairs and outside children and child support, and living with the pressure of having a covenant that is only as binding as being chosen to a team in a pick up game at the park.   She know that her night will be spent capturing her tears in her hand, as her husband roams the streets and hangs out with the boys.

I cried inside for her dream!  But I cried also for my craft,  As ministers of the Gospel, we have been challenged by the lack of Fathers.  Their absence and failure to sustain their creation, abandoning responsibility, has left a mark on our teachings, as we speak of God as our Father.  Their experience in the natural mares the spiritual parrallel, thus making acceptance harder and building a relationship challenging.  And now, we must present Jesus as the Bridegroom, in an environment of husbands who have not honored their covenants.  Attacking the significance away from the bond that was too mirror our eternal bond with the father.  Our natural bond is to bare witness not just to thr relational connection, but to model the spiritual characteristics of the Lord.  I’m angry that the devil is removing our Natural to Spiritual parallels.

I was about speak up, but my voice was preceded by the group leader, who assured her that God would provide her with the man of her dreams and prayers!  She assured her that God answers prayers and that in waiting, God was not just sending her a Boaz, but a Joseph, who would honor her and protect her virtue dispute any circumstances.  She assured her that he would partner with her, and support her not just as she raises a family, but as she carries out the assignment that God had given her!  I couldn’t wait to speak to my two girls at camp, and my three at home!  I know now even more the importance of the example we set before them!  Our marriage no only honors God, sets an tone for their expectations for the future. I pray that their dreams will be filled with hope, and that their expectation of marriage will be the same I expected.

#pastorjdo3

We Did It! Even Dora Reveals His Story!

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A powerful night at Camp Exalted! Pastor Anthony Moore, sharing from Revelations 5, opened up our eyes to a truth that is know by some, known and ignored, and not known to others. This truth is the conclusion of time, Jesus’s return and the coming judgement of the world.

His concluding illustration is where we will draw this blogs thought. He spoke on how his sons love to watch Dora The Explorer. He said, Dora takes the viewers on a journey, and along the way, clues are revealed. He continued, sometimes they get the clues, and sometimes they don’t, but no matter what, Dora continues sand she always solves the mystery. He concluded, at the end, she always raises her voice and says, “We did it!” And one day, God the Father will open the heavens and defend, and despite your success at seeing the clues He has revealed, Jesus will stand victoriously before the world and proclaim to The Father and The Holy Spirit, “We did it!”image

Powerful it was! As he shared, I thought about the consistent story line of Dora. It’s frame of introduction of self, mystery to be solved, plan to solve mystery, introduction of those that can help on the journey, trials from the one who has come to steal what you obtained on the journey, conclusion, and celebration.

The introduction is a key moment. Dora introduces herself and her crew, much like we experience as believers. She spends this time making sure the plan is given to the viewer, and keys them in on how their participation can help her solve the mystery. Jesus affords us this same moment, letting us know who He is, and how we relate to Him, and gives us our instructions for the journey and how we can aide Him in solving the mystery.

Oddly enough, and truth emerges from this story. You can ignore all the clues. Remain silent when He calls for you to speak. Leave the room while the journey takes place, and He will still solve the mystery. It turns out the Dora is the replaying of the account of a script that has been written to teach and engage the viewer in such a way that the learn and grow, and get the honor of celebrating the success of Dora in the end. We too can experience the powerful celebration at the end if we join Him on the journey, and via revelation and study, respond to His voice as clues are given.

Furthermore, I was captivated by the character of Swipper, and how his role in every episode is to watch Dora and those on the journey succeed, find the right moment, and then attempt to steal what has been gathered on the journey. Dora makes the viewer aware that he could appear, and that they must be alert. Inevitably, he creeps into the path, and generally lunges from his hiding place and takes what belongs to the travelers. The only way to stop him is to speak the words that Dora has given the travelers to ward him off. The words, “Swipper no Swipping” are spoken softly by some, and yelled loudly by others. Again, we experience a hidden truth! Sometimes, even those that speak loudly and proclaim the Word have things stollen from them. This reveals another gem, in that, whatever was stollen, Dora continues the journey and is able to get back the items taken. In other words, it’s a part of the script, that God reveals His character, by allowing us to experience how all things work for Good. There will be moments when it rains on the just and on the unjust, but one thing is assured, He will never leave us or forsake us. I also like that the journey doesn’t stop when things are taken. As long as the story unfolds, and the viewer continues to walk with Dora, that which was stolen can be restored. Too often we get caught in a holding pattern, distracted from the mission, trying to get things, as opposed to staying focused on getting to the end!

Last, the celebration! This is self explanatory, but it brings a smile to know that one day, every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess! Even if you have ignored the clues, and refused to open your mouth after seeing the clues, the will come a day where confessing the Lord to be King will be as involuntary as breathing. There will be a day when kings and dignitaries want to stand and look royal, but there knees will bend, and they will be forced to bow dow! He will be acknowledged, because He will win! I take comfort in knowing that we will reign with Him, and that as he proclaimed, “We did it”, we will sing and dance with Him in His victory!

#pastorjdo3

Race; The Final Frontier

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One of the most popular televisions shows to grace the screen, was the great Star Trek. She show captured the encounters of the crew of the Starship Enterprise which explored space, encountering new places, people, perspectives and predicaments. Each week, the smooth music would come on, accompanied by melodious voices, and the vocal accounts of Captain Kirk which spoke, “Space, the final frontier.” Since then, we have seen many space explorations, and gathered much data about the world that surrounds us.

After the recent shootings in South Carolina at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, it is time to began looking at the Kingdom of God, and to address the final frontier left to explore; race. Yes, Race; The Final Frontier.

Now, I know what you are thinking! We all love each other. Yes, we truly do. There are many places where all races worship together. Yes, there truly are, but there is a reason that Sunday mornings have been labeled as the most segregated hours in the world. Though many churches have broken the barrier, there are still many that hold on to race as a dividing factor, not excluding people with laws and regulations, but not ministering to and or meeting the needs of those that do not look like the majority, preach messages that are discriminatory in root and deed, take stances that are more political that prophetic and or not friendly or receptive to those who walk through their doors, and thus they never feel safe behind their walls.

Rendering of a waving Christian flag with accurate colors and design and a fabric texture.

Rendering of a waving Christian flag with accurate colors and design and a fabric texture.

This is a church issue, not aimed at once race or color, we must all open our eyes and our hearts, and treat each other like a brother. Honestly, we act like distant cousins three times removed. We will attend a rally together because its like a family reunion, but as for each week, we choose to go our separate ways, and make decisions as islands that present messages that are opposite to what our words say. Our deeds are far from inclusive, our words remain exclusive, while the Gospel that we preach stand opposed to our actions and vocals. Think it not prophetic that Gods command was to go to “all nations“. And that Pentecost occurred not only when the people were “all together in one place” but when there were visitors from over 10 nations gathered as well. Not only where they gathered, but the Holy Spirit made them speak in the language of the persons they encountered.

Jesus was a barrier breaker! He stood above the foolishness of segregation and discrimination, eating and serving everyone, reteaching the Kingdom of God to man by redefining us all as brother and sister, and neighbor. He served as an agent to bring us together, not section us apart. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit brought unity. He aided in teaching all things, and bringing not just power, but peace, enabling us to think and to act as Christ did for the sake of bringing glory to God and people into the Kingdom. We are to be unifyer!

Of course you ask, what does this have to do with the shooting? How does this relate to the 9 lives taken? Well simple, we are to go forth and make disciples. On both levels, whether this man is a non believer who needs to be introduced to Christ, or whether he is a man filled with prejudice, we as a church have to be carriers of the message of Christ, which was filled with love and truth. Though our past presents pockets of genuine hatred, and has left us soaking and stewing in a pot of hurt, distrust, and stereotypes I still believe there is a Balm! There is a balm that can and will heal if and when it is applied.

Thus, Race; The Final Frontier! Once and for all, we need churches that will join this journey of exploration! We must continue until churches are just churches. We must press forward until there is no Black church, White church, Hispanic church…….. We must get to a day when there is church. A place where it can be said they are “all together in one place”. A place where people will say, they are “all together on one accord“. A place where it can be said “they had all things in common“. Yes, a place where it an be said, “they are completely one” so that the world can truly “know that you sent me”. This place, that was God’s intent.

It is time for the Kingdom of God to set out on a mission to “explore strange new worlds”. It’s time for us to seek to further understand each other. We must make the effort to study the differences, and to appreciate the many facets of all cultures not to correct them and to show them our way of worship and praise, but to see how others interact with the Lord and in some cases, bring home what we have learned in an effort to expand our forms of expression to the Lord. We must cease to see ourselves as having the sole ownership on right, and to acknowledge that what we see as civilized or orderly, might be perfect for another possibly even to you.

It’s time for the Kingdom of God “to seek out new life and new civilizations”. It is the season for Kingdom, not for church! The Kingdom is beyond a building or a Non-Profit Organization. Kingdom is about seeking uncharted areas and establishing those who have yet to meet the King of Kings! It is an effort to cover the globe with disciples of The Most High! Its a planting effort, that includes established portions of the Kingdom, to pool resources to establish new places for people to gather, and not just efforts to build membership for oneself.

In sum, we must “boldly go where no man has gone before”. We must work to show the true love and oneness of God, being willing to change our perspective of those from a color to a Kingdom! When we move to acknowledge citizenship, the foolishness of skin tone will be a thing of the past. Our Kingdom can advance and lead the charge that breaks down environments that encourage and breed hatred, as opposed to ones that sit silently in support, not addressing those outside and inside our walls that harbor these un-Christlike thoughts! We must stand united not just in word, but in deed, standing against injustice that happens to anyone. Our voice must be unified, and not one that trembles with fear. Truth is truth! “I will hold you accountable for their blood“, I believe God is screaming from the heavens, for all those who know what is right, and watch those perform sinful unjust acts. God holds those of us, not just in the pulpit, who know that we are in error accountable for what we know, but also for sharing with those who are still acting in ignorance. If you know, It is time for your to speak up! And be bold about it!

#PastorJDO3

Scriptures featured in bold and italics in blog.