Gone…for Good

36 “But no one knows about that day or hour. Not even the angels in heaven know. The Son does not know. Only the Father knows. 37 Remember how it was in the days of Noah. It will be the same when the Son of Man comes… 40 Two men will be in the field. One will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill. One will be taken and the other left.
Matthew 24:36, 37; 40,41 (New International Reader’s Version)

Good Evening.  Tonight’s post is not what you think it’s going to be.  Now with that PSA stated, I can go on with tonight’s post.

There are going to be people in your life that will eventually leave you.  These are the people who been with you; maybe even for a long time.  They can be your “bestie”, a close family member, or even a spouse.  However, there is something different about these folks.  These people were never truly on your side.  They’re the critical spouse: nothing you do is ever good enough for him/her, despite your love and devotion to them.  The discouraging dream-killer who wants to quash the vision God placed in you.  The parent who tries to live their vicariously through you instead of letting you be you.  The people who act “superior” to you because of some perceived “deficiency” in you-be it educational, financial, or physical.  They could be a pastor who tries to discourage your ministry that God called you to for fear of “outshining” them.   The list is endless. These people are found at home, church, school, work…even on that flight to Vegas with you!

These people are in  your life for a season.  I believe God has them with you for the moment so they can be blessed by your life; and hopefully change.  The spouse has your love and devotion to inspire them to do likewise.  The dream-killer sees your dreams so that he/she can discover their dreams.  The parent who will see your life and may bless it.  The “superior” ones who will see your “deficiency” as an asset (future post subject).  The pastor who sees your ministry, and maybe will bless and encourage it.  However, these people will more than likely be the opposition they build themselves up to be.

However, God will come to your aid.  Metaphorically speaking, God is going to say “Enough” and snatch those folks from your life.  I believe that God eventually removes the wicked from our lives.  No, He/She’s not going to bump them off like a mob hit-person.  No, God will take them out of your life-and quickly.  You’ll turn around and find folks out of your life-be it through divorce, move, or you giving the boot-they’ll be gone.  Plus, like the Noah analogy, it’ll happen to them so fast, they won’t know what hit them!  You’ll be free to live the life God called you to (or in the case of the married person love like God called you to), and not have to deal with those folks again.

You see, in the Scripture above, Jesus was explaining what the day of God’s Kingdom/Queendom coming will be like.  Jesus warned that it will sudden-like the flood in Noah’s day.  Plus Jesus warned that the wicked-not the righteous-will be snatched up.  Jesus used the analogy of how the authorities in his day will snatch someone from their place if they’re accused of a crime.  The righteous will be the ones left behind!  Thanks to John Nelson Darby, it was reversed when he started preaching Dispensationlism-causing confusion among the faithful for generations.

So tonight, be encouraged my friends.  These people who try to criticize your love, kill your dreams, look down on you, and discourage your ministry will one day be gone; and you’ll remain-not missing them at all.

They’ll be gone…for good.  Peace.

(Image: Inside an abandoned space. Newark, NJ. 2017)

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America the Irrelevant?

 

They say a house divided cannot stand. What about a house decayed?

36 The Lord will drive you out of the land. And he will drive out the king you place over yourselves. All of you will go to another nation. You and your people of long ago didn’t know anything about them. There you will worship other gods. They will be made out of wood and stone. 37 You will look very bad to all the nations where the Lord sends you. They will be completely shocked when they see you. They will mock you and make fun of you.

38 You will plant many seeds in your field. But you will gather very little food. Locusts will eat it up.
Deuteronomy 28:36-28 (New International Reader’s Version)

Remember back in 2003 when then President George W. Bush said that the UN needs to lend its support (militarily) to the military action against Iraq, or become “irrelevant”?   Funny just over 14 years later, Bush is living to see the mighty US of A sliding into the pit of irrelevancy.

This slide into irrelevancy is evident with our current presidency in America with Donald Trump, who is nothing more than an overgrown bullying frat boy who has the class of a boar.  This “president” Tweets his rants instead of confronting his opponents.  This is the individual who just pulled us out of the Paris Climate Agreement due to his being in bed with Big Coal and Big Oil.  Trump has shown blatant dis-acknowledgment for other NATO leaders due to his fragile ego, and in turn has prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to say that Europe has to look past the US for leadership.

Not only that, we’re seeing China emerge as the new superpower: economically and militarily.  India is launching satellites into space, and is a tech powerhouse.  North Korea is developing missiles that might reach the US in the near future.  Africa is starting to show slow, yet promising economic growth.  America’s time on the world stage is starting to sputter badly.

Home is no better either-sad to say.  We have strayed from any ideals that could have made this country great: diversity; creativity; diplomacy; tolerance; and democracy.  We’ve traded in Christ for a evangelical straw man-especially among White evangelicals.  Women, non-Whites, GLTBQs are demonized. There are even bills being passed in Texas and California to secede from the United States as a whole.

The rest of the world is watching and laughing at America as it becomes more and more irrelevant.  If we keep this trend up, America will fall so far behind, we’ll be virtually invisible.  If we look at the Scripture above, we can see America in it.  Originally, the above passage was quoted by Moses as part of his “farewell speech” where he warned the Israelites the consequences of obedience (blessings) and disobedience (curses); obviously this passage is from the latter.  If I read this in modern terminology, God will remove the US from its place on the world stage.  We will end up “going to another nation”, or, having other nations call the shots that would affect us (uhh…China?).  We will “worship other gods…of wood and stone;” we’re already worshiping patriotism and false Christianity that will not save us.  We already look bad to other nations, shocking them with our very policies to the point we’re mocked and laughed at.  And in the end, we’ll be economically ruined as our GDP falls and other nations will benefit.

Before you laugh this off as some anti-American or anti-Trump rant, please take a look at what’s happening.  Look at the news-especially the foreign press-and see how the world views this nation.  Our nation is in trouble as we’re on the slippery slope of irrelevancy.  We need to realize this now if we’re going to salvage this nation and turn things around.  If we don’t, we’ll end up being a third-class nation that will become a failed state.  And despite how you feel about America, it would be a shame for us to wind up in that predicament.

America the Irrelevant?  It’s up to us.

Peace.

(Photo: Abandoned house in Union Township, NJ. 2017).

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Memorial Day 2017

Another Memorial Day come and gone.  I made no tributes.  I had no wreathes to lay at half-mast flags.  No war movies to binge on today (I’m trying to catch up on Dr. Who).  No parades to watch (it rained in my neck of the woods).  The cookout I did go to was on a lovely Saturday evening for my cousin who graduated from Howard University. I didn’t go to the Jersey Shore (that rain again).  No excessive Memorial Day shopping (except for a few groceries).  I did nothing to really “commemorate” today.

Today was a day dedicated to the dead-plain and simple.  We saw images of loved ones who served flashed on social media.  We also saw images of non-White and female vets who served a country that never recognized them.  We played “Taps” on bugles and “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.  We visited the graves of loved ones either in civilian cemeteries or military cemeteries.  For our recent dead from Iraq, Afghanistan, or even the 1990s skirmishes of Kosovo and Somalia there are empty seats at our dinner and cookout tables today.  Despite all the pomp and celebration, today was (sadly) a day we honor those, who directly or indirectly ended the lives of others-be they combatant or civilian.

Despite all this “honor” we never learn anything.  We’ll still fight because we think it’s the right thing to do.  We’ll send our boys and girls (usually poor and/or non-White) to some far-flung killing field for hollow “democracy” and withering “freedom.”  We’ll make big fake-sounding speeches how “some gave all” and making the “ultimate sacrifice.”  We’ll hold up these people as paragons of “manhood” and “womanhood,” whilst even a dummy will tell you they were just corporate patsies.  We’ll have a cowardly president stand in front of us and give lip service to these people.  We’ll keep having Memorial Days over and over…

In the meantime, I will be the one on the sidelines, shaking his head.  I’ll still post in hopes that someone will read and maybe-just maybe-ponder on my words (and the words of others who feel the same)….

Until then, Peace.

(Image: Flag. 2016).

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Now What Do I Do?

Scriptural reference: Psalm 107

This is a follow-up to my last post, “The Danger of Trying to ‘Fit In’.”

Oh shit!  I have been trying to fit in all this time!  I never paid attention to the Spirit’s calling to stand out for God!  Now I am at this point in my life and feel as if I’ve screwed up big time!  My heart is broken and my soul’s crushed as I realized that I spent all these years trying to fit in, looking for love, for approval.  I took shit that even a fool wouldn’t just to be accepted and liked…

I’ve sold my soul for the proverbial mess of pottage and now my life’s a wreck-like Trump’s presidency!  I cannot look at myself…I’ve been used, abused, humiliated, and left on the curb-all with my approval!  I’ve burned up my funds trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” I’m divorced and paying (or receiving) alimony/child support. I surrendered my dreams seeking the “love” of another and wound up supporting theirs.  The ministry God had for me to pursue is stillborn…The list is endless.

Now what do I do?  Maybe I just need to trudge through life the best way I can and hope for the best.  Should I give up on what God may have for me and realize it’s too late?  Should I reach out to God, or has God given up on me?  Should I go back on those who took advantage of me and seek revenge, ruining their lives in turn?  Or should I give it all up and die…?

Before we fall into the “all is lost” trap, I suggest that we look at an interesting passage of Scripture.  About 20 years ago, I was going through some personal issues.  It was one day at work while I had a free moment I was reading my Bible-in the Psalms to be exact.  During that time, I stumbled upon the 107th Psalm and began to read it.  It was in this passage that God spoke to me and gave me hope.  And thank God, He/She allowed me to bless you by using it as a reference.

Psalm 107 talks about God’s saving those who have sinned against Him/Her in many ways.  These people strayed from God and wound up in deep shit.  Some were more lost than the Jupiter 2 or the USS Voyager.  These people however woke up and reached out to God-crying out to Him/Her.  God then delivered these people, restoring them, taking them to better places to live.  If we apply this psalm today, it gives us encouragement and hope that God is still willing and able to rescue us and bring us to the place He/She had for us from Day One.  We need to reach out to God-period.  No matter where we are we need to reach out to God, confess our straying trying to fit in, and ask God to lead us to where He/She wanted us to be.  THAT’S what we should do!

Now, I’m not to say God’s going to turn the clock back.  However, God can take us from where we are-right now-and move us to where we’re supposed to be.  In regards to those who have taken advantage of you?  I don’t think God’s going to strike ’em with plagues (for a moment that was my request); however, God will re-position them to a place of insignificance where they will see you blessed, yet will lose out on your blessing them.

However, like I said earlier, we must reach out to God.  It would be stupid to know our state, yet stay in it.  This in itself is a dangerous trap.  We must be willing to open up and be honest with God-even if it scares us.  Like those in in the 107th Psalm, we must call on God for deliverance.  This is what we must do if we’re going to truly stand out for God instead of trying to “fit in” with the world.

Take a moment to read Psalm 107, no matter the version (I originally read the NIV back in the day).  We will find ourselves in the passage; and we will find encouragement for our situation.  That’s the answer to tonight’s question, “Now what do I do?”

I pray that you will take that brave step out from fitting in and discover what God has for you to do.

Peace, my beloved.

(Image: This was a road taken near Leavenworth, Kansas last month when we were visiting our Godmother).

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The Danger of Trying to “Fit In”

You are not faithful to God. Don’t you know that to be a friend of the world is to hate God? So anyone who chooses to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.
James 4:4 (New International Reader’s Version)

Since the dawn of humanity, we have tried to fit in with the crowd one way or another.  We will do anything to avoid the dreaded FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.  We will change our personal style in clothes, music, politics, even career to be part of some “in crowd.”  Many of us will change our very persona-especially trying to nab a certain person for romance.  As I said earlier, we will change our career plans to jobs (that we would normally avoid like the plague) just to fit in with people we think are cool.  This fitting in starts in school while we’re a  young age; we try to fit in with the other kids.  It later manifests in adolescence through sports, certain clubs; or on the negative side, gangs.  In college, it’s joining a fraternity or sorority.  In adulthood it manifests even more since we’re job and mate hunting.

However, trying to fit in can manifest itself in deeper ways: many of us trade for what God made us to be.  You were called to be single so God can work with you, yet to fit in with family and married friends you marry and have a family.  You were called to be an artist, yet to fit in with your “professional” friends you get an MBA and slave work for Corporate America.  You were called to live in the low-rent part of town so you can minister to the locals, yet to fit in with your “bourgeois” pals you go in debt to your eyeballs and buy a “McMansion.”  God has called you to spend time with Him/Her so you can grow, however you try to fit in with your social media pals and go jet-setting all over creation.

Some of us even walked away from God Him/Herself, shutting our selves from Him/Her so we can fit in with our social circles.  This is dangerous-period!  Tonight’s Scripture is a punch in the gut for those trying to “fit in.”  James, who was Jesus’s sibling, warns us that being a friend to the “world”-the ego-driven, illusory, transient, shallow realm that all about us-is being unfaithful to God.  In fact, James minces no words when he wrote that friendship with the world is being God’s enemy.

And the sad part is that no matter how much we do fit in, it will never be enough.  We will continually compromise those things that God has for us.  No house, money, sex, position, social circle, status, etc is worth the trade off.  We will lose what God made us to be as the world swallows us up more and more until we are completely taken over.  And in the end, Jesus’s question will ring in our ears:

What good is it if someone gains the whole world but loses their soul?  Mark 8:36 (NIRV)

Trying to fit in with the world conflicts with what God desires for us and our lives: a fuller, deeper, and eternal abundance.  In fact, I daresay that God wants us to stand out: to go against the “world’s” status quo.  To let God shine though us so that our divine humanity can be seen by all.  God created us to be unique individuals and live that uniqueness through what we were given.  There we can be true representatives of the Realm of God in the world.  We can let our lights shine so people can see our good works.  We can be truly human, instead of trying to “fit in.”  And who know?  We may turn around and liberate those caught in the “fitting in” trap.

Trying to “fit in” is dangerous.  Let’s instead be what God created us to be.

Peace.

(Image by Me: Adirondack chairs, West Orange, NJ)

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The Devil and American X-tianity

and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan
Revelation 2:9(b) (New King James Version)

American X-tianity made a deal with the devil, if not sold its soul.  From as far back as the Puritan days, this perversion of Christianity has done everything contrary to the teachings of Jesus the Christ.  We all know the many evils in this land the American church endorsed; how many suffered at the hands of this “church” as well.  We could read over the many clergy who had the chance to stand up for righteousness; however due to race (White) and gender (male), decided to craft doctrine that had lasting impact.

Today, we see this deal with the devil in full bloom.  Groups like the Moral Majority and its ilk have freedom to influence what goes on in the public square; and tried to influence what happens in Washington.  We have pastors who endorsed racism hidden behind “Scriptural authority,” yet Jesus would have never recognized such authority.  We have clergy who support the “squatter in chief” currently occupying the White House despite his un-Christian attitudes towards women, non-Whites, the poor, etc.  What’s even worse is non-White clergy who have been co-opted into preaching trivialities to the people instead of truth to power.

Jesus expressed this to John in Revelation in the above passage.  Jesus warned John-and those of us in the Boardinghouse of Faith-that there are those who say they’re of the faith, yet are of the “synagogue of Satan.”  What Jesus warned was that there are those who’ve embraced the devil and follow his/her practices, ways, attitudes; yet have the nerve to say their in the faith.  To Jesus, those who say they’re of the faith yet act like the devil is blasphemy to him.

Now the devil is also a shrewd businessperson-even better than Trump.  He/she will let these X-tians run rampant as they had for the last 400 years-especially now that their boy Trump is in the Oval Office.  Satan has American X-tianity in his/her pocket.  For American X-tianity, things could not get any better…

…Until Satan presents American X-tianity with the bill.  As I said before, Satan’s a shrewd businessperson who will collect.  Oh, I know some of you will say that Satan has no power in over the Church, however that’s for those who follow Jesus the Christ.  However for this American perversion from Christianity there will be no protection.  These men and women will be of the “reprobate” mind that Paul warned of (ref. Romans 1:28).  They will lose all sense of who they are and will quickly tear themselves apart before the eyes of others.  The nation they tried to “create” with their influence will collapse under their feet and they won’t be able to escape its fall.  They will cry out to God, yet it will too late since they rejected Him/Her.  It will be a sad time as a potential witness for Christ ends up a dead victim with Jesus’s pronouncement ringing in its collective ears:

 See! Your house is left to you desolate
Matthew 23:38 (NKJV)

American X-tianity will be dead and no one will miss it.  It will be a part of American History that many will want to forget.  I wish I could have a different outlook, however history will bear me out.  We’ve seen how religion that has been co-opted by empire with die out when empire dies out.  I predict that this “dark age” of American X-tianity’s running the show will soon die out as this perversion of Christianity dies out as well.

The devil and American X-tianity: something to think about.

Peace.

(Image: Abandoned church in Hewitt, New Jersey)

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Stop Crying!

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”
1 Samuel 16:1 (New King James Version)

A backdrop to tonight’s Scripture/post: God had just rejected Saul as king of Israel.  In the previous chapter, God commanded Saul to turn the kingdom of Amalek into a parking lot-killing every living thing.  However, Saul decided to spare the best sheep and oxen of the Amalekites; and the Amalekite King, Agag.  Bad idea, Saul.  God was not a happy camper and (through the prophet Samuel) served Saul notice that his king days were over.  Samuel was upset with what happened and mourned over the whole deal.

Now we come to our Scripture.  God’s asking Samuel how long will he pine over the rejection of Saul.  Then God commanded Samuel to fill his horn with oil and head to Jesse’s house in Bethlehem so God can pick a king from one of his sons.  And as you know, God eventually selected Jesse’s youngest, David to be Israel’s next king.

When we look at Samuel, we may tell him to get over the rejection of Saul.  We may tell him that Saul would have wound up a lousy king after his affair with the Amalekites.  However, when I looked at Samuel I saw us: how many times we mourn over something or someone that we need to let go and move on.

How many of us still pine over that past love because they were good in the sack, despite the fact they were wishy-washy in their affections towards us?  How many of us pine over that lost job that might have paid a good salary, yet almost killed us with long hours and adversarial coworkers?  How many of us pine over leaving the “old neighborhood,” despite the fact that it was changing for the worst?  How many of us pine over the “good old days,” despite the fact they were some of the roughest times of our lives?

Like with Samuel, God’s telling to stop our crying and move on.  We need to move on if we’re going to progress and live.  Samuel had to move on from pining over Saul so he could be used to anoint David.  We need to stop pining over that “ex” and enjoy the fact we have a loving spouse and a family.  We need to stop pining over that killer job and enjoy our restored health and peace of mind.  We need to stop pining over the “old neighborhood” and enjoy the benefits of where we live now.  We need to also stop pining over our glorified past and enjoy the present we’re blessed with.

Many of us today still cry over the past, much to our detriment.  We must stop our crying and move on so we can enjoy today and move on to the future.  If we keep mourning over the past, we’ll find ourselves regressing.  We’ll wind up behind in life whilst the present moves on without us.   We could lose out on today’s blessings.  Many of us wound up divorced, sick, broke, socially crippled, bereft of opportunities, etc because of crying over our past.

It’s time for us to stop crying over a lost past and move forward.  God has great things for us today that we can enjoy.  Remember, we can’t drive forward if we’re constantly looking in the rear view mirror! And nothing else, tomorrow’s not promised to us!

A little food for thought.  Peace.

(Image: Abandoned house window. Baptistown, NJ).

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