This is a great reminder that we can and WILL (speaking prophetically – LOL) do things that we often, at first, don’t believe we can. Watch this! Incredible!
This is a great reminder that we can and WILL (speaking prophetically – LOL) do things that we often, at first, don’t believe we can. Watch this! Incredible!
There’s just something about money that the human heart struggles to overcome. Of course there are plenty of theories out there as to why “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). Is it idol worship, self-pride, self-reliance, a combination of them all and many more? What makes the video below so interesting is that some of the experiments in it reveal how instantaneous the affects of money often take affect (although probably not fully developed).
What mechanism is in place, lurking beneath the surface? Where does that switch that resides in us live, that can be turned on or off at will as it relates to money?
God has been changing my heart in this area for years now. My home bookcases, once filled with hardbacks about stock market trading, investing, retirement savings, are still there. HaHa! That last sentence threw you off a bit, huh?! 🙂 What, you thought I was going to get all dramatic and burn them?! Heck no! I paid alot of money for all of those books! LMBO. They are now hidden on my bedroom bookshelf. I can’t have people coming into my house and thinking that I’m materialistic. Hee Hee!
The key is not so much in my book collection, but what I have stored up in my heart. The idea of being the “Millionaire Next Door” (bestselling book a decade or so ago) once occupied a place of high value in my heart and mind. Although it’s still a distant goal of mine, it rarely ever draws the attention of my mind. It went from being a frequent thought to an afterthought. I went from checking the stock market two or three times a day, in order to monitor my retirement or stocks to maybe only checking it by happenstance once every three weeks, if that. To be a wise steward of my finances I should probably think to check it more often, but the desire just isn’t there like it used to be. In fact, as the Word of God began to consume my time and thought life, it was quite literally as if the desire was SNATCHED from me. Change in life is common, but I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed such a sudden turn so quickly in my life before. It left me to credit God alone, especially for something that I practiced and loved for so long. More on that in a moment……..
What’s comical at times, is that I still have friends call and ask for stock market, or retirement planning advice. Because, at one point I was a little walking stock market encyclopedia. Especially as it related to retirement savings and investing strategies. I have never been an expert, but I do have at least 20+ books on those subjects, having read all of them cover to cover, and my careful study of it extended from late in high school and beyond. Now, when friends often call frantic about the Dow having dropped 100 points, I have to tell them that I haven’t been watching for the last few months, and only glance occasionally to see how my retirement plan is doing 😉 I do believe God placed a gift of financial wisdom in me, because something about it naturally appeals to me, and business concepts and ideas just seem to click well with my mind. Lord knows there’s plenty of other things that don’t work so naturally with my mind. No ego-stroking going on here, just telling my story.
The most glorious thing about it however, is that it took no personal discipline to get where I’m at now. I never weened myself off of checking the market or reading articles from Forbes or Money Magazine. Nope. I started reading the bible and studying it, and my affections divorced my previous desires. I never looked back.
My goal now is to find some happy medium. As you know, I love balance. The enemy is crafty. He’s great at getting us to wane from one extreme to the other instead of finding firm, Godly footing on solid ground. Although the desire for pursuing wealth seems to have evaporated from my heart, I still hold at arm’s length, or perhaps in the back of my mind things that I believe God has for me. Sometimes I sense that my lack of desire to have money (within reason of course ;-)) has almost brought me to a place of complacency. I’m still trying to find where I’m really at. Are there sediments of my previous desires still lurking, hiding in the bushes? Or, have I allowed my lack of desire to also become an excuse for doing nothing. Sheesh, Lord help me/us! May the power of the Holy Spirit continually fill me, so that I can navigate the treacherous desire/deceitfulness of my own heart. Only God can search me out (1 Corinthians 2:11).
Edited By Leslyn Kim:
I felt compelled to write a short blog about very good movie that I recently watched called | About Time (2013). The movie I’m sure could be categorized or thought of in many ways. I’m sure different people would get different things from it, which is part of what makes thought-provoking movies like this so powerful. Regardless, I figured I would throw my own hat in the ring and share some of the life lessons I learned from the movie. The most powerful pieces of art are those that move you to change. This one changed me. It caused me to reevaluate how I value time.
The movie is essentially about, well, time. LOL. For the sake of not being a spoiler I won’t go into too much detail, because its really about much more than that. However, what I can say is the title of the film is perfect. It’s a movie about time, redeeming time, not wasting time, and using time to the best of our abilities. Now, go watch the trailer, the movie, and then come back to read the rest of the blog. You won’t regret it. The movie I mean. I’ve only shared it with a few people recently, but all of them seem to be pretty impressed. Here’s the trailer:
To me, what makes the movie so good are the lives of the characters, the love shared between family members, and the interplay between their relationships and time. The main character, Tim, is a quirky socially awkward 20-something young man. He learns from his father that he has a supernatural ability. To travel back in time. Through the experiential use of his supernatural ability he learns that the best use of time is cherishing the here and now. Tim’s ability to travel back in time, I believe is really an allegory for living in the past. That although time can be redeemed (in the future), and in his case relived, the greatest moments in time are those used most effectively/or best the first time around. Here are two life lessons that this movie helped me to remember:
1) To not worry about things I can’t change.
2) Making the most of each moment in life as I’m in it, so that regret is more often an afterthought then a long term memory.
1) Don’t worry:
There’s plenty of scripture that teaches us about not worrying:
New International Version (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
New International Version (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There’s some pretty powerful hints of predestination in this movie. There are events that occur in Tim’s life that he tries to go back and rearrange. Yet, even after multiple do-overs we see that he still runs into the same dilemmas and situations. Perhaps we should see life in a similar way? Embrace the (good) mistakes, the situations we often wish we could have a second chance at. What God predestines no man can change:
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
2) Be happy:
It would be dangerous to live in an eternally hedonistic mindstate where happiness is always the end goal. So, happy may not be the right word here, but it fits in well with this happy-go-lucky blog post 😉 The goal is to find contentment in Christ and his will for my life. Though, with that being said there’s some real value to finding personal happiness as we walk through this life. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live understood it well (Eccl. 8:15). My favorite part of the movie is toward the end. Tim’s father gives him three treasured nuggets of truth. But, there was one particular bit of truth that stood out from all the others for me.
This quote by Tim pretty much sums it up:
“The truth is I now don’t travel back at all (live in the past). I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day. To enjoy it. As if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life”
Powerful, powerful stuff! Blessings…….
As I mentioned in a recent post, my goal this year is to pay closer attention to the stories of the Old Testament and their theological implications. I recently listened to a David Pawson’s sermon and two things that I’ve never noticed or heard before stood out. I’ve definitely heard people preach on, and witnessed for myself the parallels between Isaac and Christ, Abraham and God the Father. For example, Abraham sacrificing Isaac as a burnt offering (Genesis 22). Here we find Abraham as a type or parallel with God the father. Isaac, being his his “only son” (according to God’s will), as a type of Christ dying on the alter as a sacrifice for sin.
This is where it got interesting. What Pawson brought to light was as the story unfolds (chapters 24-25) we get an even broader view, and the Holy Spirit is introduced. Through Abraham’s senior servant, Eliezer, we see a type of the Holy Spirit. Abraham’s servant, a helper, is sent out to find a bride for the son, Isaac. I was blown away by this! Wow! This is heavy stuff.
Pawson, then went on to explain how these texts (Genesis 22-25) therefore can serve as a beautiful handbook on effective evangelism led by the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 24:17, we find Eliezer stopping to pray –
“Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.
17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”
18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.
19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.
22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka[c] and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels.[d] 23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” 25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.”
26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”
There’s some beautiful imagery here that deserves some serious thought. Here we find Eliezer stopping to pray for guidance before seeking out the bride. But, he’s not just praying for the Lord to send him the right person, he prays for a sign, asking the Lord to lead him to the right person(s). His seeking did not initiate through an abrupt/uninvited evangelistic outreach. I.E. – “Do you know the Lord, or have you ever considered giving your life to Christ……?”. Not at all to say that more aggressive street evangelism has no place, but this lends credibility to the need for “relational evangelism” as well. Especially since it’s taken such a brutal beating from those who find it repulsively weak-minded. However, I love the parallel found between the text here and the filling of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts (in several instances Acts 4, Acts 10). Before Eliezer can even finish his prayer, God is busy answering – “Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder.” God, as usual, was way ahead of the game 😉 Yet that’s not the end. Notice how Eliezer does his part in obedience to his own prayer request: When the servant sees Rebekah he “hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.” That’s real faith! It’s more than a prayer, it’s obedience to see it through, to believe that God will move according to his promise (albeit according to his timing and purposes). This text can and will now serve as my handbook on Holy Spirit-led evangelism.
1) Pray and don’t be scared to be specific
2) Look and believe in faith for God to move
3) Go, and act on what you believe in faith
I had to work this past Sunday. It was unfortunate, because I had to miss church. To make matters worse, I had to wake up earlier than usual and it was quite literally FREEZING outside. Hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do 😉 Even worse then working on a Sunday is having to stay late to do more work after everyone else heads home to enjoy the rest of their day. However, that’s the nature of my job at times, so I really can’t complain.
The beauty of it is that I had my own little life sermon right at work. As people were heading out the door and wishing each other a good evening I started to assemble my equipment, planning to spend another two hours or so working quietly. About 30 minutes after I started my work I realized that it was going on 2:30pm. Looking for any excuse to take a break I realized I had never ate lunch, and it was getting late. So, I threw on my coat, headed out the back door. I slowly jogged out to my car, with my shoulders shrugged – because, you know, that’s what you do when it’s cold out. Why is that anyway? Does it help or is learned behavior? HaHa! Anyway, I jumped in my car, immediately turned on the heat, and headed out to grab something. As I ordered, paid, and drove off, I veered to the right to travel behind the strip mall/plaza, heading to a light where I could exit out and head back to work. It led me down one of those eerily quiet, long driveways that often inhabit the back of strip malls and plazas. The place where semi’s often pull up to the loading docks to unload their goods to retail stores. As I drove slowly behind the plaza, I saw a man sitting, arms crossed, in a nylon folding chair. He was slumped far down in his seat with his back arched over. It looked he was sleep, but it was difficult to tell because a white towel covered his face and baseball cap that he wore over his head. Next to him was a black bookbag and what looked like two shopping bags by his side. It seemed odd, but I immediately realized that he was homeless. Because it was so cold, he probably was doing everything that he could to cover his face from the strong wind. My heart broke for him. Maybe I should turn back around, stop the car, and head back to give him some money? “Nah, I need to get back”. I pulled the car back around and realized he was sleep. At least that’s what I told myself. “Who knows what the guy will say to me, or how he’ll react if I catch him off guard like that.” So, I kept going. My heart breaks for people who are destitute like that. I felt convicted as I continued to drive along the back of that plaza. I was unconsciously asking the Lord to forgive me if I was being disobedient out of fear. Hey, I’m just being honest here 😦
As I made my way to the end of the plaza and headed toward the stop light, I saw another man standing down at the corner holding a sign. His sign read something like…. “Please help, I lost my job and I’m homeless now.” The light was green, cars were behind me, my wallet was still in my pocket. I passed him too. Sheesh!
Now, before I tell then end of this story, let me clarify…… I’m not the type to share my charitable acts or good deeds with folks. In fact, I’ve refrained from using my blog to do anything of the sort, in general. One, because I’m keen enough to know that my heart is deceptive, and posting my kind deeds or acts of charity to social media and the like too easily smacks of vainglory. Letting the left hand know what the right is up to. Two, I believe Jesus when he says that if people give you praise in the here and now, then you’ve already received your reward. I want His reward more, whether it comes here or in eternity (See Matthew 6:2-3). Okay, now that I got that out of the way, let’s continue……
My first thought was “Why did I pass him, and miss out on another opportunity to help someone in need”? I quickly turned into the next entrance to the same plaza, did a three-sixty, opened my wallet, and grabbed a good amount of cash. As I rolled down the passenger-side window and approached him, he stood up seeming surprised (maybe because I had just passed him by moments ago). As his hand reached into the car to grab the money I realized he had on nothing more than a mechanics jacket. In a feeble and high-pitched crackling voice he said thank you several times before I could say anything. I was prepared to, as usual, give the same old cliche Christian charitable one-liner……
“God bless you sir.”
Maybe it was simply spur-of-the-moment. I still can’t explain it, but for some reason without even thinking about it AT ALL, my mouth boldly and sincerely stated……. “The Lord loves you.” I’m not the type to blurt out anything without first thinking about what I want to say. It’s just rare. Maybe it was the Spirit speaking through me? There was an awkward two second pause as he stared me in the eyes. He slowly and calmly backed out of the car, as he continued to say thank you, but the tone of his thank you’s changed. Perhaps he was thrown off by my own shocked demeanor. Or, maybe he was moved by what the Spirit said through me? Only God knows, maybe it was just what he needed at that moment, besides a cup of coffee or a warm meal.
As I headed back to work my mind drifted for a moment. I couldn’t help but think about how many people will attempt to make it through this evening in below freezing temperatures. How many more meals during the week could I give up to buy coats for people that need them so badly? What item am I currently coveting (because it’s usually something, if I’m completely honest) that I could easily go without? Then it struck me like a ton of bricks all in one moment. I honestly believe that God placed a special burden in my heart for the poor and oppressed. But as much as I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever clearly drawn the conclusion that I did in that moment.
It’s difficult to satisfy and unmet need
It may be paraphrased, but that was a nugget of wisdom shared by the pastor of the church I previously attended. It’s always stuck with me because it syncs so well with scripture. So often, when Jesus or the apostles/disciples ( All four gospels and Book of Acts, etc…) encountered people with needs, they met them. They never left people destitute and in need. Sometimes it was healing, at others times it related to their physical needs.
At times, in modern American Evangelical circles sharing the gospel is held in such high regard that meeting people’s needs is seen as an afterthought. One of far less importance. While I understand the eternal/scriptural ramifications of that rationale it still begs so many unanswered questions. What does meeting people’s needs mean? While it may often be financial or physical, perhaps it’s equally if not more important for people to be discipled, loved, sympathized with, and told that “God loves you”. It’s difficult to satisfy an unmet need.
I wonder if Jesus knew just that? We’re spiritual beings wrapped in flesh and bones. Without addressing the mind and body of the person first, how can we realistically restore people to spiritual strength? I’m not speaking as if I know the answer to this, I’m just proposing the question……..
That leads me to my closing statements. I attended a conference this past Saturday about discipling in the “Urban context”. The first speaker, Dr. Carl Ellis, did a wonderful job at breaking down the need for true relationship building as an effective means of discipleship. As well as the need to contextualize hardships and the complexity of life using scripture (not always with the intent of explicitly sharing scripture, but biblical truth). In closing, he gave a historic breakdown of minority culture in America wrapped neatly in three categories. Although I thoroughly enjoyed his talk, which was a good blend of academic and historical information, it left me feeling empty (translation: disappointed). I felt that my friend, the second speaker, closed a gap that Dr. Ellis left open. As he shared his experiences with discipling in an urban context he dropped a bombshell of a point. It messed me up so bad that I had to come and blog about it 🙂 As he recounted his story of an exchange with someone who desperately needed both physical (by way of service/counseling) and spiritual help, they confided in him the following, and I paraphrase as accurately as I can recall:
“We’re tired of people coming by once or twice a year, dropping off turkeys, and then leaving…..”
Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I’ll go a little further into what Dr. Ellis shared, and why I feel that balance must be restored to how we view and treat people in need.
A few months ago, I along with many others, went to see Lee Daniel’s new film, The Butler. If you haven’t yet seen it, I would recommend you do before continuing to read this blog. To say the least, the movie is incredibly profound. It touched on more topics than I can recall any movie touching on in a short two hours. Some subtle yet revealing, and others harsh but necessary. The Butler is ultimately the tale of a father and son love story (according to the director), albeit heavy with history of civil rights in America and rich with an inside-the-mind view of the life and struggle of the African American experience in post-slavery America.
As I discussed the movie with family members and others I gleaned many different insights. Many of which I never would have gathered on my own. This is a side note, but it never ceases to amaze me how often people perceive things different, even down to the very expressions of Forrest Whitaker. He plays the main character Cecil Gaines (Eugene Allen in real life) in the film. What he and the writer/director wished to convey to the audience through the non-verbal expressions in one of several key scenes in the movie is anybody’s guess or opinion. However, the diversity of opinions about it didn’t cease to amaze me. To me one of the most important moments in the movie is a brilliantly silent five-minute scene where Cecil Gaines and his wife, Gloria (played by Oprah), attend a formal White House social event. It’s key for several reasons. First, a personal invitation from Nancy Reagan to attend a state dinner finally fulfills his wife’s bucket list item to see the interior of the White House. And second, Cecil gets his first glimpse of life lived beyond his vocation as a subservient, seen-but-not-heard butler in service to eight presidents. The quiet expressions of Cecil and his wife were masterful. Without using words, they project the raw feelings of disappointment for a moment anticipated to be so special. Cecil occupied a highly respected job as one a few select butlers who served the president and his staff. Although, in that moment, he comes to realize that he’s an insider by occupation only. The cheerful and warm social atmosphere of the White House dinner is cold to the Gaines. Not only are they ostracized by communication, excluded from a crowd familiar and comfortable with their own, but they too are self-ostracized by their own identity forged out of elements unknown to the world they’ve been invited into. The realities draw nearer even as he’s being served by the Butlers he normally serves alongside. As I watched that scene I couldn’t help but think of the piercing words of W.E.B. Du Bois from his famous book – “The Souls of Black Folk”. Where he describes the peculiar world of blacks in America, where life is lived through what he coined as a “double consciousness” and “life behind the veil”. A world he describes below:
“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness— an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” – William Edward Burghardt Du Bois
As with so many of my blog posts, I could go in a million directions with this one, though I felt the urge to write in particular about how this “double consciousness” is not just an African American problem, but much more broad. It’s a human problem. Specifically in how we relate to the outside world, but function all the while through the lens of our own sub-culture, or for many Americans pop-culture.
This whole topic is messy and complex like all of humanity, but I hoped to tackle it in two parts. First, by relating in a very real and personal context of how this affects African Americans, and how double consciousness (i.e. – double-mindedness) can only be defeated by forging a new/transformed identity in Christ and Christ alone. Literally leaving room for ethnic expression to be a distant second, third, fourth etc… I know, harsh right? Don’t hate the messenger, it’s the very first commandment (Exodus 20). I have one question to ask if that last sentence (italicized) bit you, like it does me. Where have you been hiding you idols? I’ll address that at the end…………
Black double-consciouness and the idol worship of sub-cultural norms:
What kind of black people go to the beach? You swim? You listen to jazz music? Why don’t you laugh at certain brands of ethnic humor (implied – the kind that involves coarse joking and the highlighting of either people’s looks, weaknesses etc..)? You never attended “Freak-Nik”? (LMBO, at that last one)
I purposefully intermingled the above offensive comments that myself and others have heard (or similar within their own cultural context) from both our own communities and from those outside. In particular, those above, all faux-social norms primarily derived from slave narratives. Don’t judge me for that last point. For those who know their history, many social “norms” in the African American community are often unknowingly long lasting remnants of slave culture. It’s a tiny and narrowly defined window that unfortunately neglects the legacy of large portions of its community. Step anywhere outside the boundaries of the stereotypical social expectancy and you instantly no longer have a home, but must find a new home in some gray-area of society. The Butler, faced a similar double, if not triple or quadruple consciousness. While he was accepted within certain circles of his own community, he also found himself, as a result of the times, spurned by the younger generation. His own son represented that very generation that embraced a more radical element. Cecil’s generation, who derived it’s thinking from the likes of more Christ-centered figures like Booker T Washington, Frederick Douglass and John Lewis, were being replaced by the likes of Angela Davis, Stokley Carmichael and Malcolm X. To make things even more complex he found himself, as a result of the times in tumultuous identity crises at work. A place where Butlers were to be seen but not heard, but were expected give advice about the needs and desires of their communities to presidents who wanted to exploit that information for political gain.
The predicament of double-consciousness that Cecil faced renders a clear picture of the dilemma of ethnic identity verses self-identity forged in the likeness of Christ. Far too many hold dear to their own social normatives. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” It’s understandable, because it’s much easier to conform then to stand out. Its effect is a double-edge sword. It tints the lens through which we see ourselves, but it also serves as a buffer from ridicule of others. The peer-pressure to conform then is a viscous cycle. It finds itself only including some while excluding others. Sound familiar? (Think Peter in Galatians…….) As one of my favorite groups from the late 90′s, The Fugees, once proclaimed on their breakthrough debut album – “Everybody wears the mask”.
So, what do we do with all of this? We all face similar plights in one way or another, whether it be through racism, classism, sexism, heck you name the ism…
The cure – Jesus:
Now, before I move on don’t get me wrong; cultural identity is a powerful, and I believe, God given gift. Different languages, skin colors, forms of music, foods, mannerisms, and verbal forms of communication (whether linguistic or even simple differences in vocal inflection), all of them are beautiful and authentic expressions that speak of God’s vast creation. They all provide a very real human picture of how creative He is, and how much he values diversity and uniqueness.
Where it often takes a horribly wrong turn is when it becomes an idol. A mask that must be worn before its peers in order to maintain membership. And worse, when it takes the place or divides different people of different races or even of the same race or ethnicity from finding commonality in Christ. It’s this broader version of double consciousness that I’m referring to here that I believe the Butler was masterful in showing. A man who finds himself in a gray area between multiple worlds. One foot steeped in his African-American heritage, as an ex-slave-turned-successful butler. That life, juxtaposed against his identity clash within his own culture and family. While the juggling act is admirable considering the times and hardships that Eugene Allen had to endure, there’s a “more perfect way” of navigating the maze of life and the unity of so many polarizing forces in the world.
Peter faced the same personal impasse as it related to ethic identity…..
“11-13 Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line. Here’s the situation. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That’s how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that’s been pushing the old system of circumcision. Unfortunately, the rest of the Jews in the Antioch church joined in that hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was swept along in the charade.“
The cure to healing the ailment of double-consciousness is this….. Submitting all things to the will of Christ, and being re-born into his identity rather than that of men. Even our very ethnic identity must be washed in the blood that purifies (1 John 1:7).
Edited By: Leslyn Kim
The Word of God is forever humbling. Just when you think you understand something God sends some new thought or idea that you had never before considered. That happened to me this time while I was reading through Mark 10. The story of the rich young ruler is well known. He comes to Christ and asks “How can I inherit eternal life.” Jesus responds first by reiterating to the rich young ruler that he knows the commandments (‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother’). Yet oddly enough Jesus only lists the second half of the ten commandments (Exodus 20) that relate to keeping the second part of the whole law (e.g. – The Second Great Commandment). The First Great Commandment is – love God, and The Second Great Commandment, loving your neighbor as yourself.
As I’ve learned through reading and studying the Word, I’ve found that Christ’s words never leave his lips without intention. And for some reason that really stood out as I read the story this time. Jesus, knew just what he was doing. The rich young ruler responds and their interaction finishes with the following….
“Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words [a]he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”
In the past when I read this story I always interpreted Christ saying to him “one thing you lack” as a reference to the fact that the ruler had to sell all that he had. However, my ears and eyes witnessed something completely different this time around. Jesus was very intentional in skipping the first great commandment, Love God, with the rich young ruler. While the ruler may have learned to love his neighbor, he did not love God. What he lacked was Christ and the Father. Selling his possessions was not the objective. The root of his problem was not the possessions, but his lack of love for God.
While the story made sense to me in a very similar way in the past, I believe I was looking at it backwards or putting the cart before the horse. The lesson that God was attempting to make to the rich young ruler and his disciples was that loving Him was the key to overcoming the love of possessions. Not the other way around. The ruler was incapable of doing that, because the supremacy of his love for God was either nonexistent or paled in comparison to his love of material things. In the same way, we are wholly incapable of defeating our flesh. The key to overcoming our weaknesses, temptations, and idols is only through seeking more of God. To put some practical feet to it, for me that means more of seeking Christ through scripture, more self-discipline to be filled with God’s will (filled with the Spirit), and more prayer. All other alternative attempts are futile. That understanding puts a whole new spin on Jesus’ words to the disciples after they shuttered at the impossible dilemma of the rich young ruler……..
“They were even more astonished and said to Him, “[b]Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
I’m in the middle of working on a blog post(s), about the popular but controversial doctrines of “Once Saved Always Saved” and “Conditional Salvation”. The study thus far has been a tremendous blessing. However, It’s taking me quite a while to finish, because I’m forever finding new texts or things to study on the topic.
Anyway, I came across a verse this morning, while I was reading in Psalm 69, that caught my attention. I feel like the blog, and in particular my own study of the bible is definitely causing me to rethink, reshape, and reevaluate where I stand on certain issues (of course, always subject to change – LOL). This verse from Psalm 69 is particularly intriguing, because David has just finished petitioning God to protect him from his evil enemies. In the scripture leading up to it David says…….
27 “Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.”
Here’s the shocker…. In the next verse he says the following:
28 May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.
Hmmmmm? Do all people start off with their name written in the Book of Life? Although it has implications in the doctrine of election and other hot topics like Once Saved Always Saved, it caused me to think more so this morning about the idea of Limited Atonement. Was Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross for the whole world, or only for the elect? In other words, if the latter is true how do we reconcile the idea with scriptures like Psalm 69:28 & Revelation 3:5? Why would everyone start off in the Book of Life, if it was predetermined that no atonement would be made for them beforehand?
Assuming David was not waxing figuratively when he speaks of blotting out (which would normally imply removing) evildoers from the Book of Life (Psalm 69:27-28), then Jesus ‘ death on the cross, and God’s original inention would corroborate well with other texts like…..
New International Version (NIV)
1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
New International Version (NIV)
In putting everything under them,[d] God left nothing that is not subject to them.[e] Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.[f] 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
And yes, even the dreaded passage from 2 Peter 2:1-3, who many struggle to understand in light of their belief in Limited Atonement..…
New International Version (NIV)
2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.
Wait a minute?! You mean Jesus even died for false teachers? I didn’t write this stuff. And praise the Lord that I didn’t, because it’s far beyond my comprehension. LOL
“15 You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. 20 But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.”
This is just a short reflection or thought from my daily bible reading. For some reason this verse really leaped from the text this morning as I was meditating on the Word. The most obvious forms of idolatry often come from tangible, substantive things that we face on a daily basis. Being that we are made of the dust of the earth, and trapped in flesh that communicates with the outside world through our senses – touch, taste, smell, it’s inevitable that we face some our greatest temptations and idols through those means.
In modern times we don’t place great value on carved wooden images that we can worship, but we do place high value on many things “carved”, decorated, and manufactured by others – Cars, homes, phones, clothes, nature, sports, food, you name it the idols are readily available and beckoning for the worship of any willing taker. All tangible items, obsessions, and time-stealers that beg us for their worship. All dead inanimate objects or desires that offer very little power as it relates to the kingdom of God. All of them being things that we see with the natural eye.
What occurred to me is that the things of greatest worth in the kingdom of God are often (but not necessarily always), things that are unseen. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, mercy, forgiveness, and God, all things that are generally unseen but of immeasurable worth.
New International Version (NIV)
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
“Don’t question in the dark
what God showed you in the light” – V Raymond Edmond