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Thursday, October 5, 2017

TOO MUCH CREDIT


Having a conversation regarding a person’s lack of support to the church financially, participation, and attendance, of course, the focus was more on financial support than anything else. An example was given, that a person came to church to give a particular amount but when they saw who was preaching they change amount and gave less than what they planned to. I then asked “Why do you believe that is?” The response was the devil made them do it. I then begin to explain an alternative reason but I don’t believe he got it.

The great comedian Flip Wilson was known for the phrase… “The devil made me do it!” In 1970, Flip Wilson won a Grammy for the Devil Made Me Buy This Dress.  We, Christians, have taken his phrase to explain many of our wrongdoings and disobedience of others in the faith. My response to him was that “You’re given the devil too much credit!” He looked at me with shock so I said it again, “You’re given the devil too much credit!” I then went on to say it’s people being people allowing their personal biases, prejudices, preferences, favoritisms, and partialities to control their actions and that has nothing to do with the devil.

The reason why people act the way they do is because they are spiritually immature and we need to know the difference.  

Yes, the devil and his demons tempt us to sin (Genesis 3; Luke 4; 1 Peter 5:8). But “the devil made me do it” is far too often used to excuse our own bad choices. Except in an instance of demon possession, the devil cannot make us do anything. The devil is absolutely worthy of blame for much of the evil in the world, but using the devil as a scapegoat for our own sinful choices is counterproductive to achieving victory over sin.

The first instance of “the devil made me do it” used as an excuse was in the Garden of Eden. Eve says, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13). Her excuse did not get her off the hook (verse 16), and it won’t help us much, either.

James 1:14 declares, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (emphasis added). Why do we sin? We sin because we are sinners. We are plagued by and infected with sin (Romans 3:10-23). While demonic oppression and influence are real, the primary problem is our sinful natures. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21). Notice, it’s the “works of the flesh” in this list, not the works of the devil.

If you are a Christian and you commit a sin, the devil did not make you do it. He may have tempted you to do it. He may have even influenced you to do it. But he did not make you do it. You still had a choice. God never allows you to be tempted beyond your ability to withstand, and He always provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). A Christian saying “the devil made me do it” is denying the truth of 1 John 4:4, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Gospel According to They


Well, the questions have poured in as to what my tattoo means “They tried it but I made it with my Bible, Basketball, and BBQ Grill. The biggest question I’ve received is “Who is they?”


Well here’s my answer…


“They said…”


“They saw…”


“They heard…”


“They would appreciate it if you….”


“They need to see…”


Here’s my problem with them “They”, who in the heck is “They?” I can never get a straight answer. Big, no huge PROBLEM for me!


For 50 years, I’ve dealt with “They” in corporate, church, our culture, and community. Much of what “They” say comes from a dark place. Right, wrong, or indifferent so here’s what I’ve learned from the Gospel according to they.


First, it’s a dark place of insecurity. “They” is a vehicle used to hide a person’s insecurities. Rather than admitting to weaknesses that may be another person’s strength. “They” is used to tear down the strengths of others to make them feel better about themselves. Insecurity is dark place because it says that a person is not satisfied with how God created them to be. Do not chase a person’s insecurity. In addition, don’t hold people hostage because of your insecurities. I thank God that over the years, God has placed people in my life to carry out the biblical instruction in Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. There is mutual benefit in the rubbing of two iron blades together; the edges become sharper, making the knives more efficient in their task to cut and slice. Likewise, the Word of God is a “double-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12), and it is with this that we are to sharpen one another—in times of meeting, fellowship, or any other interaction. Insecurity is a dull blade in a person’s life. However, we can dispel the dark place of insecurity of using “THEY” to hook up with “THEM” (brothers and sisters) to assist us in areas where we are dull. “THEY” is too general but “THEM” is very genuine.


Second, it’s a dark place of inferiority. When people feel inadequate in themselves “THEY” is used to make them feel important, strong, and stable. Why? Because “THEY” (either invisible or visible) can make them feel better about themselves while belittling others in the process. However, this is not a Christ-like attribute. God never created us to be inferior individuals. I will admit that there are some experiences in our lives that will make us feel little about ourselves but that feeling should be as a sinner. Once, we are saved, we move past feeling inferior to living victoriously. The Word shows us victorious living with verses like: “We are more than conquerors”, “I can do all things through Christ…”, “All things work together for the good of them that love God…”, and so many others. Let me say this as well, be careful surrounding yourself with people who can only speak well of you but never speak the truth in love (accountability). Likewise, be careful of those who only want to speak truth in love but never want to hear truth spoken in love. We’re all growing together so we must take the good with the bad in each other in love.  


Third, it is a dark place of manipulation. People use “THEY” to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do or want from you. Don’t become a puppet that dances to the beat of someone else’s drum. Any and/or all manipulation tactics are selfish and doesn’t have your best interest at heart.


Fourth, it is a dark place of spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6 is very clear that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against powers that we cannot see. “THEY” is a crafty attack to create division in the church and with the people of God. To shadow box with “THEY” leads to an automatic defeat in the ring of life, so, don’t swing at what you can’t see. Stand your ground. Be yourself. Be comfortable with who you are and how God made you. Pray constantly. Detach yourself from foolishness. Don’t take it personal. Move on if need be. Bottom-line: Don’t allow “THEY” to make you act like you don’t know who Jesus is!


Fifth, it is a dark place that can be enlightened. How you handle “THEY” can draw “You” and “THEM” to God. My enlightenment has come from three (3) areas that work best for me: my Bible, my Basketball, and my BBQ Grill.


My Bible: It has been the Word of God that has kept me for 44yrs. I was saved at 6yrs old at Victory Baptist church on McKinley Ave in Los Angeles, Ca. While I couldn’t explain it biblically then I knew what I was doing spiritually. When I became of an understanding age it has been my bible that has kept me. Not just me reading it but me knowing it for myself through personal study, bible study, seminars, Sunday Morning worship, Sunday School, personal conversations about scripture, etc. I’m a firm believer the Word works if you work it. The times I failed were the times I didn’t work the Word.


My Basketball. I love the game of Basketball and much of what I’ve learned about life and ministry has come from me playing basketball. I don’t know what it is to have lived in a house with a pastor/preacher so I can’t relate to those conversations with others. The closest person in that area of life was my grandfather who was a deacon who loved the Word. Out of all the lessons learned on the court there is one that sticks with me to this day and has not failed me yet. My coach told me once after a hard fought game, “Clint, never allow the intensity of the game to get you out of your game. Play how you know to win!” So, I play the game of life and ministry the same way. The basketball court is my second sanctuary. I can play and think at the same time. By the time I’m done, I have a new look at the situation. I am concerned now because my legs can’t take the beating much longer so I will need something else related to the game to do. But for now, I will continue to play.


My BBQ Pit. Cooking is definitely a relaxer for me. I can escape life’s worries being caught up in the smoke of my QUE. Preparing the meat, lighting the coals, cooking the meat, making my own sauce, is heaven to me. I can think, process, write, read, pray, and meditate all while cooking. Yes, it takes me all day because I finish my meat on the grill with no oven tenderizing. During some of the most frustrating times in my life, it was my BBQ pit that calmed me down and brought things back into proper perspective.


Peace and Blessings….

Thursday, September 28, 2017

QUALITY TIME WITH GOD

Grace and peace be unto you from God, our Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time this week on the freeway for work. Much of time is sitting in traffic. While in traffic, I usually listen to Jazz music and news radio. But this particular day it both was getting on my nerves. So I turned the radio off not down but off. So for the next couple of hours I road in silence and it was the best time ever.
I’ve learned (and still learning) that nothing can take the place of your personal devotional time with God. It is a time for you to seek God and hear from God clearly on issues pertaining to your Christian walk in a chaotic world. It is a time to repent from all wrong doings. It is a time to make personal changes and godly commitments. It is time to calm down from the demands of life in the home, church, and workplace. Bottom-line: Your Christian life will benefit greatly from spending time with God.
A major part of learning about the Christian life is developing a regular pattern of spending time with God. Bible reading, prayer, and meditation on Scripture, are essential to knowing God's will and growing in your faith. But it can be hard to know exactly where to start.
Here are a few tips to having a more meaningful quite time with God:
Pray for guidance during your quiet time - Follow a systematic plan to read your Bible. You can read through a book, follow a devotional guide, study a character of the Bible, or study a topic such as forgiveness to get started. Make notes of what God says to you through His Word. Is there an example to follow or avoid? Is there a promise to claim? Is there a truth that should influence your life?
Be persistent until you are consistent - Strive for consistency rather than for length of time spent. Try to have a few minutes of quiet time every day rather than long devotional periods every other day. Expect interruptions. Ask family members to respect your quiet time and turn off any electronic devices that may distract you. Satan tries to prevent you from spending time with God. Plan around interruptions rather than being frustrated by them. Use a calendar to note that you have completed your quiet time for the day. Remember, God wants to spend quality time with you. Don’t rush through your quiet time so that you can check off a 'to do' item.
Focus on the Person you are meeting - View this as an opportunity to spend time with God rather than a habit of having the quiet time. If you scheduled a meeting with the person you admire most, you would not allow anything to stand in your way. Meeting God is even more important. He created you with a capacity for fellowship with Him, and He saved you to bring about that fellowship.
Memorize and Meditate on Scripture – Scripture will have no place in your heart if it’s not in your head. You may do a meditation study in sections a few minutes each day, concentrating on one verse a week. Ordinarily, you may prefer to select a passage you have been memorizing or perhaps the key verse in a passage or a chapter you have read or studied during your quiet times. After you select a passage, pray, claiming James 1:5 for wisdom to apply God's Word.
Thank and Worship God - Notice I did put this last for a specific reason. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and truth. Spending daily quite time with God creates for you a more meaningful worship life. Why, you ask? Worship is connected to spiritual truth. The more you know of God the greater your worship you can offer to God.     
The result of your quite time with God is spiritual breakthrough. Each day you spend with God is a day for your burden getting lighter. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
My dear friends, let’s use this time to draw closer to God!