Somethings Missing

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Men Need To Know Y

I attended a bible study recently and it was good for the most part. Every one left feeling they knew the right things to do. It was evident that everyone understood the lesson however; as we prepared to end in prayer I felt something was undone. I continued to focus in on this feeling I had and it became clear.

It was a men’s bible study and men have a tendency to be so cerebral, intellectual, and logical. We had given the men the “what” but we failed to clarify the process of “how”.  Acknowledging a need to make changes or improvements is only part of the solution. Being aware of a need creates the potential for change but does not ensure that actual change will be accomplished.

Men have known the right thing to do since Genesis yet history proves that this awareness has not created a righteous civilization…

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The Music Maker

High contrast music instruments silhouette in circle shape. Vector file available. Stock Vector - 11859954

When you think of an instrument maker and how he crafts different instruments you will realize there are vastly different processes employed to produce each instrument. Take brass instruments, first the brass has to be extracted from the ground and then fired to extreme heat to be formed. Now look at wood winds, they have to be taken out of trees and be carved out with sharp tools and treated. Then we have drums and xylophones and harps and pianos, all with their unique processes. Take each instrument with its unique construction process and consider the differences in sound that they produce. Now look at your life and take a look at the experiences you have gone though and how that has impacted your unique voice, your unique perspective. God desires to make all of us unique instruments to be played harmoniously together to express His heart song. It is an inspirational song of love, beauty, and peace.

There is a scripture which says, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love the God and are the called according to His purpose.” We are all called to be instruments of God and He has begun our varied construction processes however those that love Him are the ones concerned about His purposes.  When we are concerned about His purposes we surrender our instruments to be tuned how he sees fit, whether that means tightening our strings further or loosening them a bit, whether that means we are fine the way we are or we need a few more holes drilled in us, whether that means we are formed as a tuba or a trombone. We have to trust that He is in control of the process. In the end some of us will give our sound when the hands of God seems to pound on us, some of us will give our sound as He plucks on our strings, and some of us when the Holy Spirit moves though us as a rushing wind.

What I have written here is just a metaphor to say ALL that you have been through in your life is being used to bring you to the knowledge that God has a purpose for your life and if you will trust Him and try to tune into His direction, He will bring a harmony into your life that vibrates with love, beauty, and peace.

Self Image

Sharing this from my other blog…Enjoy!

Men Need To Know Y

When I look in the mirror every day, I am convinced that the person I see is different from the person everyone else sees when they look at me. Some people look at me and see a middle-aged man, some people look at me and see a young man, some may even see an old man, but few see a little boy.  When I look deeply into the mirror, I see a little boy holding his basket of fish and five loaves, standing before an impoverished world wondering; how can I make a difference? A few years back, I realized that my earthly inheritance only amounted to about a quarter tank of gas, while the destination my heart desired was thousands of miles away. Growing up in a single parent home with no nurturing male figure to identify with, combined with living in a nation that has historically blighted my…

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No Commentary

Sharing this from my blog dedicated primarily to strengthening men.

Men Need To Know Y

Are you still flexible enough to put your foot in your mouth? Most men are, even late into their years. I recently took a class on my job that dealt with leadership and problem resolution. The class left me with a few nuggets that were not only useful in the office but were also useful on a much wider scale. One of the key bits of advice that I knew I needed was how to give objective feedback. Objective feedback was defined as feedback free of the following:

Analysis

Commentary

Assumptions

Conclusions

Judgments

I am challenged with two items in this list, namely “Analysis” and “Commentary”. I, like the majority of men, have a propensity to be analytical when taking in information. As a matter of fact, I am not even sure if I know how to listen without analyzing. This is why the next item on the list is…

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Reflecting On His Cross

This Sunday, as people have done for over a thousand years, many people will reflect on the death and resurrection of the Messiah. What is the message that this reflection will yield? It is astonishing to me the degree of darkness that still pervades around the cross of Jesus as evidenced by the denial of what Calvary truly stands for. Jesus Christ, Yehowshua, The Messiah, The Savior, went about before His crucifixion preaching and teaching on the principle that if we are all to have life then we must each individually give our lives.

John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this but that a man lay down His own life for a friend.”

Luke 9:23-24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever will save his life will lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake will save it.”

John 13:34, “A new commandment I give you, that you should love one another; as I have loved you, that you also should love one another.”

As a truly leader, Jesus served by example and laid His life down for us all at Calvary. Jesus laid down His life as a man not according to His will alone but at the will of the Father. Remember He prayed in His humanity:

Mark 14:36, “Father, everything is possible for you. Take away this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will.”

 Ultimately it was the understanding that Christ had of the Father’s love that enabled Him to surrender to the death of the cross.

Today many people live unto themselves dominated by selfish pride. This pride, that rules over so many, came to power through a coronation by fear.  Fear, with a mind-set of if I don’t live for self then I may not get what I need or what I want. The selfish and non-trusting orientation of fear keeps the masses divided. Everyone in their own castles unwilling to lower the drawbridge that gives access to their heart. Access is denied not only to fellowmen but at an even greater detriment this access is also denied to God. The pride that has come to power in the hearts of many will not acknowledge any other authority, not even the authority of the Creator. The tyranny of pride empowered by fear will not submit to the authority of God, so the commands of God are dismissed. The commands of God have been replaced with a liberalism that allows for all men to stay in their locked castles to live as they individually see fit, without concern for those beyond their own walls. The masses have been deceived into believing that this selfish isolation is real freedom.

As you can see, this life style is the extreme opposite of what the Savior taught and exemplified. It is by design. There is an evil present in this world that hates God. God is love, truth, and life. This evil promotes hate, deceit, and death through the propagation of fear. Fear triggers the flight response which sends everyone to their isolated castles guarded by pride. When we are divided, we are weak and our civilization falls. Divided we fall. God has given us His commands to unite us. When we all as one people submit to the commands of God we become united and strong and then life thrives. We cannot be united by everyone doing their own thing and living unto themselves. God does not merely want us to exist as in those bumper stickers “COEXIST”. God wants us to thrive in abundant life as a family. That’s why Jesus taught that we should pray “OUR Father”.

The only way to break the power of pride is to eradicate fear, and the only way to eradicate fear is through the power of LOVE. As love destroys fear, faith grows in the place of fear. Faith with its accompaniments of hope and trust will dethrone pride and enthrone Love. When love takes the throne, the gates of the castles are open, and life thrives through true intimate exchange.

It is imperative that as we reflect on the cross of Jesus and that we embrace the dynamic message of His love toward us. Once we truly understand and accept His love, it will make us free from fear through the faith, hope, and trust which works by love. Then tyranny of pride can be overthrown and we find the power to lay down our lives as the Savior did to the will of the Father. As we cease to live every man for himself and every man to himself, then the prayer that Jesus requested of the Father comes to fruition.

John 17:11, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me,that they may be one as We are.

A bond formed from many being baptized into the singular life of Jesus Christ through the death of individual living.

Mark 8:34, “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

The temporal unity formed through faddish political interest, carnal appetites, socioeconomic status, culture and even race are all vulnerable to the divisive attacks of the powers of darkness. Only the unity forged by the power of God’s spirit will stand. As we reflect on His cross, may we learn what it means to take up our own. If we share in the likeness of His death, we will also partake of the glorious quickening of resurrection power unto new life.

Romans 6:5, “ For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,”

Being Identified With Christ

What does it mean to be identified with Christ? Before you rush to answer consider the rich young ruler whom Christ told to go sell everything he owned before he could be identified with Him. Scripture says the rich young ruler went away grieved because he had many riches. After he left, Jesus went on to say, “Truly I say to you, it will be difficult for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” The riches that can keep you from following Jesus can be anything you value more than following Him. In my experience I have seen many people turn away from Jesus because they were unwillingly to relinquish a particular lifestyle, habit, status, or association. They obviously valued those things more than what Christ was offering. The requirements for following Jesus are the same today for you and I as it was for the rich young ruler. You have to be willing to surrender everything. To be born again you have to be willing to pass through the cross just like you passed through the birth canal. That means stripped of everything.  The scripture says that following this statement of Jesus the disciples were bewildered thinking it was impossible for men to be saved, but Jesus assured them saying, “All things are possible with God.” What you are reading may be grieving you as it did the disciples but the good news is that God can change your perspective. I was once grieved as well at the prospect of giving up the pleasures that comforted me and the self-image I struggled to maintain for the cross of Jesus until my world started to topple around me from the inferior material I used to build my life. Once you grow weary of trying to build your life on the things outside of God like false ideals, corrupted values, carnal pleasures, physical strength, fleshy ambitions, the finite reasoning’s of man’s logic, and physical instinct you will be ready to let it all go. I thank God that I threw in the towel at an early age. Some people just have higher pain tolerances than others. When you are financially wealthy you can often afford more ways to self medicate so it can keep you out there spiritually languishing for much longer.

Jesus taught that if a man sought his own life that he would lose it, but if a man forsook his own life he would then find it. The sinking ship that many are holding on to is not salvageable and they must let it go in order to enter the unsinkable ship that Jesus captain’s. It is imperative to let go of the old in order to receive the new. Many people confuse the invitation of Jesus to come as you are as an invitation to stay as you are. Yes, Jesus loves you as you are but He also loves you too much to leave you that way. You must be ready to see yourself and your life from God’s perspective. You must be prepared to accept a new identity. You must be ready to accept a life centered on God’s will instead of your take on things. It is much like a teen-ager living with their parents. There is this person that the teenager is trying to portray to himself and friends, along with a highly marketed lifestyle that doesn’t figure in their total dependency on their parents. A teenagers highest priority should be complying with their parents since they are the ones sustaining their life. Ok hold on a moment parent before you amen to loud. God the Father is your parent. What kind of example are you setting? How submitted is your life to the One who is sustaining your life? I know, we just think we are grown but we have to be as children to enter the Kingdom. That is what I love so much about the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit can take things right in front of us and show us the path. Just like some of the things expected of teenagers not appearing cool to their peers, a life lived in identification with Christ is going to be senseless to the world. So just as teenagers often give in to peer pressure, “grown folks” conform to the world.

In order for a worldly person to be identified with Christ either they are going to have to change or they will have to make Christ worldly.  Consequently, the Christ preached from many of the pulpits around the world today vaguely resembles the Jesus Christ that the rich young ruler spoke with or the Jesus the apostle Peter denied three times. The Jesus Christ preached today more often resembles the mythical Santa Claus or officer friendly from preschool with his flash light shinning down on his head. Nothing threatening or demanding about him, just be nice and try not to be naughty and things will work out fine. Here are some of the one-sided ways people comfortably portray Jesus.

  1. Jesus loves you as you are so just come as you are. (Repentance paves the way to Jesus- Matt 4:17)
  2. Jesus paid for all of your sins on the cross. ( He requires you to take up your cross as well- Matt 10:38)
  3. Jesus knows your heart so don’t worry about it. (Plan out your salvation in fear and trembling- Matt 18:9)
  4. Jesus is love. (Love is often expressed through meeting the needs of others. A problem arises when people don’t value the things they really need- Matt 6:19-21)

There is always so much talk about who will be the anti-Christ but few people realize his personality and doctrine has already been accepted in many churches. The absolute authority of God and His personality are being challenged every day by hearts that are in love with this world. James 4:4 says, “Adulterers and Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” What a friend we have in Jesus…kind of depends huh? Jesus says in the Day of Judgment there will be many people caught off guard when He looks at them and essentially tells them they identified with Him as Lord with their mouths but not with their lives, so be gone ( Matt 7:21-23). Being identified with Christ means taking up our own cross as He did, however instead of dying a physical death, we should daily be putting to death in our own lives the carnal values and earthly priorities of this world in order that we can live to please our Heavenly Father just as Jesus did. In doing this we will become rich eternal rulers with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven. 2 Timothy 2:11-12 says, “If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us.”

Christ desires for us to be identified with Him alone. This means we should derive all of our self-worth and understanding of our potential from who we are as new creatures in Christ, nothing more. Jesus Christ is the head of the body so all body members need to get on board with this or the body won’t be unified.  Everything about you comes after belonging to Christ. I tell people all the time that I am a man who is black, not a black man. I don’t put my ethnicity before the fact that I am first a man created in God’s image. The color of my skin does not define who I am as a person or what I am capable of. I am defined by the divine nature of God that orders by entire being. The spirit dictates to the flesh and not the other way around. This is the reality of being born again according to the will of God. Hear me out. I am not saying there is no purpose in race. I am saying that whatever that purpose is does not trump being in subjection to Christ which is the head of the body. This is what is being expounded upon in Colossians 3.  I encourage you to read the whole chapter and I pray that God will open it up to you. I will leave you with Colossians 3:10-11.

“ Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all in all.”

Unconditional Love

I recently searched for the word “unconditional” in several versions of the Holy Bible and you know what…I couldn’t find it. So, where does a person get the idea that God’s love is unconditional? My guess is the same place as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I realize that this is a bubble buster for some readers but it shouldn’t be. Think for a minute, have you ever seen anything last that had no order, system, guidelines, or rhythm. I think not. Anything sustainable has to have order. Specific conditions are implicit to order. Love is realized through relationship. A condition of relationship is communication. Communication requires certain conditions to be effective. So where am I going with this. The flesh loathes the restraint required by conditions and will resist it even to its own hurt. So let me encourage you to read this to completion even though your flesh may already be rejecting it. The thought of unconditional love soothes the flesh. Unconditional love removes any consequences from our actions in relationship to God’s acceptance and approval. Where there are no consequences there is no need for restraint and this makes the flesh happy. Though the absence of restraint pleases the flesh it really grieves the spirit. The spirit loves order and judgment. The flesh and the spirit are opposed.

Galatians 5:16 says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

Love is of the spirit because God is love and He is spirit.

John 4:22-24 reads, “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

These are all conditions for having a relationship with God. God is seeking those who don’t have issues with restraint.

Here is what Jesus informed everyone in Luke 9:23, “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

The cross is where our flesh meets the conditions of God. The desire for unconditional love is the flesh trying to circumvent the cross. I am not saying that God withholds love from us until we meet His conditions. Gods knows unless He gives us the seeds of love in the first place we want have anything to offer back to him. God is a just God and it would not be just of Him to require something of us that He has not made sure we have the means to fulfill. It is because God has given us abundant love that He requires love of us, unto Him and our fellowman. The idea of unconditional love implies that God expects nothing of us and this is not true.

John 15:12 says, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

God requires us to love, and not just in any old way we choose but He requires us to love even as He has loved. Unconditional love is love without standards and without standards there is no assurance of reliability. In order for us to have the abundant life that Jesus promised we have to follow His recipe.