Conditions: John 3:16

Standard

For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

God “loved”!  What I love about this passage first is that it reveals the first condition I want to highlight; God’s Heart!  Unlike God, despite what had occurred in His covenant with man, which He honored, He still looked upon His creation and found Himself filled with love.  Man In Prayer Christian Stock PhotoGod endured Adams sin, Grumbling Generations, False Idols, Graven Images, King Worship, Stiff Necked People, Disobedient Prophets, Un-loyal Kings, Ungrateful Dependents and much more.  Despite all this, the condition of God’s heart towards mankind was love.

This, a standard of God!  His character is one of compassion and understanding, all will upholding a standard to His covenant.  God aspired to rebuild and maintain a relationship with His flawed creation, ratifying or amending if you will, the covenant He created with man, that He might have an easier time following His commands and not existing as a law breaker.  God saw the law that He created, and saw how man was relating to Him through it and its interpretation, and had mercy on the people struggling to keep the law and opposed to anger and malice towards those who found themselves breakers of it.  He even had mercy on those who interpreted the law in such a way that it made it more difficult for Kingdom citizens to follow it.  Yet, He still loved a world that chose to side with Flesh over Creator.

divided-we-fallWhy is this important?  It’s important because the condition of His Heart was love, while the condition of the world He loved was evil and dark.  Our condition when God looked upon us, not just before Christ entered the world, but on through Revelations, was one of disobedience.  God knew that sin would continue long after the sacrifice He made on the cross!  God knew not only the actions of man, but also His heart.  He was able to see, unlike us entering covenants, the full outcome and intent of all parties involved, and yet He still chose to enter again into covenant with us!

We were busy feeding our flesh!  Taking all the world had to offer and not sampling, but using a full measure of all offered, often overdosing on portions and then throwing ourselves at the feet of God for forgiveness.  God literally entered the world, and replaced warning labels on our lifestyles, held public workshops and private seminars, and yet we still keep sinning.

And He still chose to enter the world and display His eternal love for us by dying on a cross!  He not only made the provision, but even made the application process and funding process simple and easy.  Though His contribution to pay for our sin was invaluable, He was willing to enter into covenant with us for the price of belief.   God entered into covenant with us, and allowed our word to articulate our heart and thus secure our eternity.  He allowed the words of lawless people (prior covenant breakers) to secure a covenant agreement!

worship-fastThough God allowed us to secure our eternity with Him with very few conditions, and loved the world in the condition it was in, this does not mean that His love was acceptance or His approval to remain in its present condition.  God came specifically because of the condition of our hearts, and through love and personal sacrifice, sought to change the condition of our heart.  His desire was to change our hearts back to Him.  In drawing us to Him, He set an example of what He desired for us to be by modeling while He was on earth.  The roads as His catwalk, He allowed us to get a close up of His perfect design walking in full power.

Has your condition changed?  Upon accepting His provision, we are to acknowledge our present condition and to align it with His vision for our lives.   His vision for us is t be like Him; righteous.  Now eternally, we know that our righteousness will never be enough to earn or deserve eternity, thus the blood provision provides, yet on earth, He gives us His Word and the Holy Spirit in which to live by and through that help us deal with the longings and desires of the flesh.  Our present condition, thus, should not be our future condition!

 

#PastorJDO3

 

Advertisements

Sleight of Hand (Politics in the Pulpit)

Standard

Lately I have been shaking my head!  As of late groups like the Black Hebrew Israelite’s have used the sad truth that some white slave owners attempted to use the Gospel of Jesus Christ to control their slaves.  Now, what type of evil makes one take a Gospel that should be liberating and uses it to control people, I can not define.  How one justified their selfish desires, and through reading a Gospel of peace, found a way to take a verse or two, while omitting entire paragraphs, I will never understand.  How one can read Genesis and see that God created Mankind, and then make those of different skin hues less than or half of a human being is truly far beyond my imagination.   Their major claim to convert African American’s to their faith is that the white man used the faith to manipulate our ancestors, and thus the whole truth is not truth, rather a lie.

And while there logic is solid, it still does not make complete sense.  The same Bible that evil men thought to use to control people; once read, liberated them.  Those that could read (and by those, I mean a 1 or 2) began to read the Word of God for themselves, and the truth was revealed to them.  They then stood on the Word and were able to obtain God’s will for their life and for those to come.

sleighhand4

We need the same spirit to exist today!  We need to read God’s Word for ourselves.  We are facing the magic of the sleight of hand that prior generations faced.   It’s not that of government printing propaganda, but from pulpits who are attached to political groups.  Our faith interacts like a super pack contributing money to press an agenda, while exchanging votes for favor and prominence.

I watched clips of some of our most famous magicians, I was mesmerized at how they took the items which we had visual contact with, and were able to manipulate them in such a way, that even while paying attention, crowds of 100 were not able to catch the trick.  People watch carefully to catch the trick, but lack the training to have a full understanding of what they are watching.  This is what we face today.  Not enough people are knowledgeable of God’s Word and have a personal relationship with Him to identify when they are being tricked by the sleight of hand.

Much of the sleight of hand is the character or personality with the cards.  The voice and presentation of the magician makes the trick believable, thus making it magic.  People are so trusting of a well tuned vocal chords or a trusting face, that they are easily fooled by that which they know is false.  yoyoThey go home duped, and impressed that someone spent so much time figuring out how to trick them.

Ladies and gentleman, there are magicians among us.   They omit and ignore scriptures, treating God’s word like a yo-yo, walk the dog, making it sleep, and go around the world while we watch in amazement and accept their deception as truth.

This blog is important because the hypocrisy of the people of God is the catalyst for many leaving the faith, or distancing themselves from it and staying away from the house of God.  It is amazing to watch people demand that our current president not be questioned and followed, while they spent the past 8 years challenging authority and encouraging people to rebel.  We can not stand on the scripture only when it benefits our position.  God can not be manipulated.   He knows the heart of us all, and is set against those that do evil.  Being obedient to two scriptures does not make you right with God.  If you break one law, you broke them all and are a law breaker.

It is sad to see people manipulate and massage the scripture to justify their political views and ungodly actions.  It’s sad to see the pursuit of wealth being paralleled with the pursuit of righteousness or a sign that God is pleased with ones actions.   Many people have chosen to do what is expedient as opposed to what it eternal, and this simply is not right.  This, friends, is what led to previous evil and wickedness.  It was further established by a quiet majority who remained silent while the country prospered from trade and goods.  Though not all accepted this truth, someone had to speak up and read for themselves.  Men and women of God who understood truth through God’s Word grew confidence and shared God’s Word and then took action to fight for what was right.

My heart goes out to those sitting in the audience of these magic shows.  I cry for them, as they are caught in a deep fog because they chose not study for themselves.  Much like a bull being led by a nose ring, is one who’s relationship with God and bullringnoseknowledge of God’s will for the world and their life, is found through a person and not by seeking God for oneself.

I had a good laugh today, as so many of my conservative friends struggle to rationalize, how everything was the former president’s fault, and nothing is the current president’s fault.  I laughed to tears as one of my friend called the prior president an embarrassment because he apologized for prior wrongs, and reached across the aisle to live at peace with our neighbors, and then found pride in one who speaks ill of our neighbors and threatens our neighbors.  I crack myself up as evil is now identified as a country arming to defend itself, and as we are led by one who responds to talk-shows and tweets, and we insist that we are the only nation being led by someone responsible enough to manage nuclear power!   I suppose those countries need to get America to Amend its constitution for the right to bare arms?

sleighhand3

Is this the Christian Church?  Or is this the American Church?  Is Christ our head or a president or a pastor?

Why are our pews and seats are empty?  The enemy is no longer identified as the Satan the adversary, but liberals, conservatives or other countries who are not democracies and who do not agree with American values (not christian values).  Our members value free enterprise more than freed souls, and for this, we find ourselves blinded by lights and financial dreams that are painted by 1% who distance themselves from us and with the sleight of hand, created an ever changing road map to join their ranks.  

In our foolishness, we have interpreted Christ as a business man more so than a humanitarian!  This is a sleight of hand!   This is Christianity Today.  We can only pray that with our foolishness, we can say there will be Christianity Tomorrow.
#PastorJDO3

New Temple; Same Market! The Market Place Wins Again! Pt. 1 John 2:16

Standard

I started this blog with the intent of writing a blog called “The Elephant in the Room” and talking about the events of Charlottesville, Virginia (and using the Republican Elephant as the main picture), but I have so many friends that are Republicans and great people that I thought it both wrong and irresponsible!   Furthermore, the politics that has permeated our churches has become a silencer to the smoking gun called hatred!  By now, I pray that all of you are tired of hearing our faith linked to political organizations who only use our principles to garner our votes!  Again, the church of Jesus Christ is not a political party!  It is a group of people who have walked away from a life of sin because of the Messiah King’s sacrifice, and have chosen to become disciples in a pursuit for righteousness.

Having said all of this, I come to the point of this blog.  Many young people have left our churches not because of the message of Christ, but because of the foolishness of the messenger and the immaturity of the followers!

Christ came into the world and showed one act of aggressiveness.  No, it wasn’t at a rally!  It wasn’t with the tax collector!  It wasn’t with the woman caught in adultery or with the man in the tombs!  It wasn’t even with Peter who spoke incorrectly or when the disciples again displayed little faith!  Not even when the disciples fell asleep while he prayed.  He rolled up his sleeves, fashioned together a whip, and went to the alleged “house of prayer” and ran out all animals, people, threw all the coins on the ground and turned over every table!  The leaders rebuked Him, asking who gave him authority, and standing on the 46 year existence of the temple.

marketplace

From the depth of His core, He demanded,  “..Stop turning my Fathers House in to a Market…”, which takes us to the Title of the Blog, “New Temple; Same Market! The Market Place Wins Again!”

 

Jesus walked into the temple a saw the drive of the leaders and managers to find the most profitable way to restore the relationship between God and Man.  The took God’s law and wrote into it a way to eat, drink, live and drive the finest.  They analyzed the bottom line, crunched the numbers, and like good stewards, figured a way to increase profit margin and in the the profit, increased there margin of spiritual error.  The bottom line became the main focus, and thus Jesus took a moment from His busy schedule to refocus the flock!

With His own hands, He braided together chords and sought to bring about harmony with the church and the will of God.  As His whip cut through the air, I imagine that each strike was precise, and the sound of His strike snapped with such power that it echoed throughout the country side.  As animals scattered, He turned to those profiting and demanded that the doves be turned loose as well.

Marketplace2.jpgI was both angry and relieved by reading this passage.  The passage list that the whip was used to run the animals out, but he left the servants that had turned it into the market.  I thought to myself, that whip should have met a back not the ground.  It should have cut a thigh and cheek, not just the air!  But even in anger, He was poised and controlled.  He displayed His disgust as a warning while knowing that in a short time, the source of revenue they had built would be torn apart.

Yep, today, I declare that many of our “Houses of Prayer” should cut down all vegetation on site and in the surrounding area!  Christ would in many cases clean out the foolishness that has overcome some (NOT ALL) of our temples (churches).    As I both read and discuss some of the rhetoric about the Global Church, actually, the “American Church”, we find all to often that reports about abuse and misuse surface.  Though most of these stories, though some are true, do no apply to the majority of churches, it does apply to some.  Without throwing a blanket over us all, it is important that each parishioner and reader know that the man of God, preacher,  or pastor is human; we are not perfect.  We make errors, and God deals with us, and in some cases, so does the pew.

Forgiveness should be in play in all cases, just as God chooses to forgive in all circumstances.  Be it duly noted, that God says every man will be held accountable for his own actions.  Having said this, Forgiveness is not turning a blind eye to evil or supporting it with silence.  And Patience and Long Suffering is not watching another suffer at the hands of one who abuses and misuses power.    Jesus could have walked by this temple and ignored the actions of those who were misrepresenting Him and abusing those who He had chosen, but He spoke up, and took action to bring about change.

marketplace 3I am convinced that everyone silently protesting and verbally protesting the church isn’t mature, unsaved or stuck in un-forgiveness.  

I fear they tuned in, took positions and in the end, simply weren’t buying what we were selling! They packed and left! Some frustrated that the house of God is not the place they expected it to be.  They remain baffled and the countless amount of Pastors and clergy men that remain silent when those who are less than are picked on and taken advantage of.  They are confused as our churches ignore truth, and create a message that caters to top givers.  They are saddened by those who sit in comfy chairs, have reserved parking, television and radio programs, blogs and podcast and chose to remain silent as evil occurs for fear of loosing membership and the worst, low approval ratings!  They are wondering to themselves how someone can be responsible for their soul and not care for them as a person.  They watch in disgust, and choose to watch from their couches, and shrivel away while they feed themselves, and starve from lack of nourishment.

In this day in age, not to reduce everything to buyers and sellers, but a great product can fail because of bad marketing and false advertisement!  Our Bible describes the product, and gives a ingredients list.  It even describes the mission and values of the church and how it should be run.  Much of the criticism we face is not about doctrine, but its about mission and actions.  If these are not attended too, the natural ebb and flow of the market will continue, and our houses of worship will be just like Blockbuster and Hostess!

 

#PastorJDO3

Open Your Eyes!

Standard

This morning A moment of panic set in, as I searched for a place to eat breakfast.   Why you ask?  There are so many places to eat!  But First Met has entered a fast!  No Bread! No Fried Foods! And no Beverage outside of Water!  Mentally, I was scrolling through menu after menu!  What can I eat?  Where can I go?

Panic set in!  I couldn’t think of a place to eat.  Then I saw a grocer.  Fruit! Quick!  Simple! Delicious! Cost efficient!  I walked in and discovered lot of choices in addition to my desire.  I entered the section and found heaven in a cup.  Parfait. 

It was then I found truth and a key to surviving the fast and to thriving in life.  Often we are so consumed with what we can’t have that we can’t think of what we can have.  

Are you so focused on what you can’t have that you can’t see what you can have? 

Do we fail because our minds become consumed with boundaries and rules?  Do we miss opportunities focused on the things because we are focused on things that are not within our grasps? 

Truth be told, this is why most fasts fail.  Our minds become laser focused on the no,’s and overlook the yeses. For a moment, a problem existed.  Not a real problem, but one created from my inability to see past what was restricted from intake, so much so that I was blind to the many options around me.

Once I took a moment, I was able to see not only a store, but 3 other options.  Not only that, but the real blindness was created by a fear for a lack of discipline.  Every place had something on the menu that I could eat, but I feared that I would not be disciplined or strong enough to be obedient if given the opportunity to break the fast.  The reality, there were many options by which I could dine, but not many in which I might be successful, that is being undisciplined in this area.

I made my purchase and was in my car within almost the same time frame it would have taken to drive through the drive through.  I broke the seal and mixed together the items and dug in.  While eating, I realized that we are so bound by what we don’t or can’t have that we miss out on things that can bring us joy.  

Are you so blinded by what you can’t have that you can’t appreciate what you do have? 

The Parfait was delicious!  I enjoyed the bitter texture of the yogurt, the sweetness of the strawberry and the crunching through the granola.  I enjoyed spoonful after spoonful. I could only thing that I would have missed this bliss consumed with what I had to miss.  When we place our mental energy on what we can’t have, we rob from ourselves the joy of what’s available to us.   

I screamed to myself!  Johnny, Open Your Eyes!  I say to you, Open Your Eyes!  See what God has provided. Open your mind to what’s available. Discipline yourself for the journey! 

Productivity = (Ability + Resources) /Offense

Standard

As I looked at these doors yet again , I realized that the door labeled “yes” was labeled “no” on the other side, and the door labeled “no” was labeled “yes” from the other side. .

This brought a smile in that, the same door that was an enterance was an exit and vice verse.  The labels placed on them insures that those entering had rules to abide by like those leaving. 

I thought about this key aspect of relationships!  Many relationships are ruined from the start because of the way a person entered or how the person was brought in.

Having proper boundaries and structure in our relationships and ministries is key to maintaining healthy relationship and to infusing life and energy into our environments that spur productivity.  

If only we could measure uproductivity!  I am sure we would discover that offense in our relationships  serves as a defense to our work.  

Formula:

Productivity = (Ability + Resources) /Offense

In this, I believe we will find that Non-Working relationships produce Unproductive people.  Despite the talents or ability of an individual, relationships determine the attitude and affect desire of the person so serve at maximum ability.  A toxic environment works against ability and potential with such force, that it can make it seem that those working lack even the baseline of their own ability.  Best case, a toxic environment keeps people working on the baseline of ability, but locks away potential because motivation and desire are low.  Ability measured is what has been untapped today, where are potential is relative to what is developed.  Many of our environments are coasting on ability, and circling because the power of potential has been taken away by unhealthy relationships. 

How one enters is also affected by how one leaves.  While it may be one thing to make a grand enterance, making a grand exit could burn some bridges.  Much trepidation has been experienced because of the actions and attitude of the one leaving or the treatment of the one leaving.  

This remaining hurt causes us to enter new relationships with guards that hinder and blur future relationships.  The hurt or betrayal in one relationship often poisons future relationship, as the slow and steady travel of poison works it’s way, shutting down organs one at a time. 

Yep, you guessed it!  The first organ affected is the heart!  This takes us back to our formula! The heart wounded and unhealed will slowly decrease productivity beneath one ability. 

Again I wonder how many people have been wounded upon exit and experienced diminished productivity in an new environment?  Thought this occurs, productivity can be restored when a person is intorduced properly into a healthy environment.  The love, support and structure of a driven few can restore and refuel an empty tank.  The new environment can remove the poison from an infected heart and heal to the point of health and reintroduce the growth from untapped potential.

Though relationship experience separation, We must accept this truth; relationships are forever!  Long after a person leaves our presence, the bond, be it positive or negative, forgiven or unforgiven continue to impact is forever!  

Count it no coincidence that God stress not only forgivenes, but how we treat one another.  Without counting, I am confident that there are twice as many scriptures that deal with how to treat people as there are forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the biproduct of transgressions from mishandled relationship.  Though not thought. It is easier to treat people as they should be treated than to restore a wounded heart. 

How will you handle relationships?  Is the environment you provide stifeling productibity? Is the mishandling of the entrance and exit of a person keeping you on the baseline of ability?  

#pastorjdo3