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Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Missing Key to Happiness

This is a must listen to. It's only five minutes long, but it's full of life changing wisdom by Dennis Prager.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

DWB and Getting Killed While Black Are Facts

A friend sent me this response to the grand jury's verdict that the officer, who choked Eric Garner to death, would not be indicted.


Now this has gone too far! Ferguson, somewhat understandable. BUT THIS illegal chokehold applied by the police in NYC was a definite open and shut case for an indictment according to Megyn Kelly of FOX News who is an attorney. What the heck is going on? An indictment isn’t a guilty verdict. ALL of the evidence gets to be presented in a court of law instead of behind closed doors and a trial by a jury of one's peers takes place. So why not move to indict so that innocence can be clearly established if those are the facts? Why? Why no indictment in NYC? And we are supposed to trust the system? THIS IS NOT GOOD! This IS NOT Justice, but only serves to mock it and embitter people! This is terrible. Maybe I don't understand something? 



Brian Burrage

Can someone help me answer him? because right now, I can't breathe. I preach that we need to respect the rule of law. I still will because that's what the Bible says, Romans 13. But as a black man, this verdict from a predominately white jury makes it really hard to believe that justice is always administered to black men justly.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Aftermath of Ferguson: How the Church Can Lead the Way Forward

 
A young black male strong-armed and robbed a convenience store. A white officer confronted him. The incident escalated and the officer shot him dead in broad daylight. A black community reeled as his body lay uncovered in the street. The media swarmed onto the scene and began reporting conflicting stories. Citizens of Ferguson were assembled into a grand jury. In an unprecedented approach, they were called to wade through all the testimonies given under oath and all the forensic evidence under the watchful eyes of Ferguson’s Prosecuting Attorney, and the Attorney General of the United States of America’s office.

Michael Brown’s family, Ferguson, the nation, and even the world waited. The representative members of the Ferguson community rendered their conclusion—no indictment. The President called for America to honor the rule of Law and to express any disapproval peacefully. Brown’s Father pleaded for much the same. But then the community erupted in incendiary rage, while unsavory Al Sharpton stoked the emotional flames. Protest spread around the nation. The blogosphere and tweeter-world drew lines and launched verbal grenades, while the media lined up talking heads to tell us why.

Which leads me to a question, “What would Jesus want His church to do?” As those entrusted with a ministry of reconciliation, we are called “to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before our God.” We are also called to love even our enemies, and to do all that we can to purse peace. In light of the Ferguson tragedy, what might that look like? Here are a few thoughts.

We can pray both for a grieving and angry family, and we can pray for a fearful and endangered police officer. We can pray for our President and lawmakers to review how law and justice are executed in urban and black communities and to implement better urban policing policies.

Those of us serving Christ in urban and black communities can double our efforts to help our troubled youth. Stats show that if every church adopted one child needing a home in urban contexts then all of the kids within our system would find a family! We can take a stance against violence-glorifying music, which is corrupting the minds of many of our children. We can reach out to teens who have unplanned pregnancies through pro-life clinics and get involved in Bible teaching abstinence programs. We can volunteer to minister in gospel preaching ministries that reach children in public schools like Child Evangelism Fellowship and Christian Released Time. We can un-isolate our black churches by engaging in the life of the universal church so that sons of former slaves and slave owners can learn to walk in brotherhood. I thank God that these efforts are actually happening. Through intentional multi-cultural church plants, Christian Hip-Hop music, spoken word poetry, and diverse urban young adult conferences, many young urban leaders have torn down yesterday’s walls of ethnic boundaries and are uniting the multi-colored body of Christ. Finally, speaking the truth in love and listening to one another is not an option. We have lost too many of our kids to immoral and violent life-styles. These are complex issues facing our nation and a divided church will only help a divided nation fall. Jesus died to raise up from His church peace-makers. Now is a great hour for all Christians to live up to our calling.

May God Help Us
Pastor Bobby


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Is Halloween for Christians?


This is a re-post.
 
God saves sinners by causing them to become born-again. In their new life with God, they will develop convictions about gray areas where allegedly the Bible is silent. For example, Christians, who grew up trick-or-treating, will learn biblical convictions to govern how they view Halloween. The aim of this Bible study is to highlight biblical principles for Christians to apply so that they can discern how to respond to the question of participating in Halloween. Here are some ways Christians have responded to the question, “How should a believer think about Halloween?”

  • “I don’t see anything wrong with it, if you do it just to have fun.”
  •  The Old Testament condemns participating in anything involving the occult, therefore, God hates it and so should Christians.
  • Well, Halloween does have occult roots, but if you take those out (e.g., Jack-O-Lanterns, scary costumes, etc.) then it’s okay to participate in it.
  • Numerous NT passages such as 2 Cor 6:17; Rev 21:8 apply the OT command to Christians to avoid pagan practices, so Christians should avoid it altogether.

Clearly, the first response, “I don’t see anything wrong with it, if you do it just to have fun,” is a wrong answer. Truth isn’t determined by our motives. Stealing doesn’t become okay because it’s done to feed one’s family. Relativistic thinking has eroded away the conviction that the Bible, not the Christian’s feeling, is the determinative authority for what believers can and cannot do. Christians have to judge all things biblically because Satan, who is very real and very evil, has a strategy to deceive us. He blurs the lines between right and wrong so that when people are doing wrong they believe they are doing what’s right or what’s morally acceptable. We have to test all things and be biblically discerning. Hopefully, answering the following questions biblically will help you determine a wise response to Halloween.

1st What is Halloween?

Although we don’t get the day off, Halloween is a real holiday. Holidays are dates recognized as having spiritual, cultural or religious significance and whose observation warrants celebration because of the achievement of some special person, group, or because of the significance of an event. Halloween became a holiday in Western culture through the influence of the Catholic Church. The term Halloween is a contraction of the phrase “All Hallows (as in saints) Evening,” also known as “All Hallows Eve.” It is a time when Catholics are called to celebrate/remember the dead, including martyred saints (hallows), and all faithful departed believers. Protestants refused to participate in Halloween. It was considered to be so evil that it was banned. However, as more and more Catholic Europeans came to the US, in the mid-19th century American culture incorporated the practice of celebrating Halloween and many Protestants eventually followed.

2nd Does Halloween have roots in paganism and the occult?

Although the historical accuracy of the details is vigorously debated, it appears that it does. Celebrations involving the dead around October 31st didn’t begin with the Catholics. It rather appears that they Christianized the ancient Celtic/Gaelic holy day of Samhain (sa-wain). Samhain, which in Irish meant the end of summer and the Harvest season in the Celtic calendar. Some allege that Samhain refers to “The Lord of the Dead.” Originally, the celebration of “Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Samhain, was about the death of summer; it is the funeral party for the end of the long, warm months,” Halloween's Irish history: Samhain Harvest Festival, Washington Times by Conor Higgins, Oct 29th 2013. Another name associated with Halloween is the Druids. They were the sorcerers, philosophers, scientists, theologians, and intellectuals of Celtic culture.

According to Higgins, “The Celts believed that on Samhain the veil between the living and the dead was dropped for one day, and the spirits of the living could intermingle with the spirits of the dead. It also has been speculated, that this feast was a celebration of the dead they had lost since the last Samhain. This would include warriors lost in battle, children lost at birth, the old, and the sick. All of the years’ dead would be celebrated. In hopes of guiding the spirits of their loved ones to their resting place, large bonfires would be lit to draw the spirits and provide them a path to the “other side.”

This Celtic celebration was converted to a Catholic celebration in the 7th Century AD. Many of the traditions we celebrate on Halloween come from that pagan celebration. Today, Wiccan, or modern-day witches, warlocks, and pagans, consider Samhain, or Halloween a high day of great importance. And as opposed to Christmas, they consider Halloween their holiday.

2.     Are some Halloween practices linked to the occult?

Have you ever wondered why people wear demonic/evil customs on Halloween? Because Halloween was considered to be the night when the line between the living and the dead was suspended and the spirits roamed the earth, to protect themselves, people would put on an evil mask/costume, put witches up on their doors in order to make the spirits think that they were one of them so they would pass by their houses. If the evil spirits stopped at your house, you’d have to pay them off with a treat or you would get tricked.

Discuss the following ways Halloween is celebrated today through a biblical lens:
·      Trick or Treating (parents let their kids go up to strangers’ houses and get food from them, not knowing what they are getting.)
·      Going to Halloween Parties
·      Visiting Haunted House/or Haunted Amusement Attractions
·      Carving pumpkins and putting them out in front of your house
·      Lighting Jack-O-Lanterns (this practice grew out of a legend of an evil man named Jack. It is purported that Jack met the Devil, got him drunk, and tricked him into giving him 10 more years. 10 years later, Jack tricked the Devil again into never taking his soul to Hell.  Jack died, Heaven refused to take him, and when Jack went down to Hell to try to gain entrance, the Devil politely reminded him of their deal. Instead, the Devil gave Jack an ember of Hell, and a hallow gourd for a lantern to illuminate a pathway through the Netherworld. And so w,hen the veil between the living and the dead is dropped on Samhain, we can see Stingy Jack of the Lantern (Jack O’ Lantern) trying to get into Heaven or Hell (Higgins).
·      Bobbing for Apples was a fortune-telling divination game that came from the Celtics, cf., W. H. Davenport Adams, Curiosities of Superstition: written in 1902.
·      Churches have hell houses where Christian leaders try to scare kids out of wanting to go to hell.
·      Animal sacrifices (Although no concrete evidence can substantiate this claim, many animal shelters around the country prohibit the adoption of black cats during the month of October in fear that they will be sacrificed in Halloween rituals (Snopes.com).

3.     What should we think about the occult?

In both the Old and New Testament the Bible explicitly prohibits Christians from participating in the occult. Read the following verses:

a.     Be Children of light, not darkness (1 Th. 5:5)
b.     What communion has light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6:14)
c.     Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (Rom. 12:9)
d.     “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isa 5:20).
e.     The Lord equates Spiritual maturity with the ability to discern good and evil. “Stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults” (1 Cor 14:20). Also see, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
f.      Thus says the LORD, “ Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens,” Jer 10:2
g.      And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone” (Acts 19:19).
h.     But for the cowardly and  unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in  the lake that burns with fire and  brimstone, which is the  second death” (Rev 21:8, cp. Gal 5:20)
i.      Deuteronomy 18:9-12.
Deut. 18:9 “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.
Deut. 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,
Deut. 18:11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
Deut. 18:12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.


4.     How is the occult influencing our families and churches?

Due to the influence of Hollywood and its increase of occult movies targeted at teens, many Christians have accepted the lie that the occult isn’t evil; it’s merely entertaining fantasy. What has been the result of Hollywood’s unabashed promotion of the occult? According to MTV News, it’s this: “Wicca is one of the fastest growing religions in America.” 

In 1Cor. 10:19-20 the apostle Paul warns, "What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or  that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they  sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons." What happens when people view occult movies, listen to music artist who are dabbling in the occult, play around with the dark side of Halloween? Why avoid all of that? Paul's answer is that demons are real and that by so-called just having fun, undiscerning participates can become partners with demons! 

5.     How should Christians respond to Halloween?
a)      Avoid it altogether.
b)  But don’t tell yourself, “It’s not a big deal if you are not intentionally worshipping demons,” and do it just to have fun. Satan and demons are real, and they don't give people a pass just because their intention is to have fun.
c)      Try to Christianize the non-cultic parts of it and use it evangelistically.
d)      Perhaps the best answer is all of the above! a) Avoid all of Halloweens occult symbols and practices. b) Don’t compromise with darkness. Fun is the worst excuse. c) Shine your light where Satan tries to cast darkness. Christians can thank God for the Fall too. Why would Christians pass on an opportunity to reach millions of kids knocking on their doors? Don't trick them but give them the treat of the Gospel with a little candy. 

I borrowed heavily from the below excellent resources: 


Friday, October 24, 2014

A Frank Discussion about Ferguson with TQ the Executive Director of P4CM






Why Wait for Justice in the Ferguson Michael Brown Shooting?

We need the Bible because it is truth. It is Truth with a capitol T, and it gives wisdom, wisdom we need in this fallen world. In the Bible the wisest man to ever lived warned:

Eccl. 3:16 Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness.
Eccl. 3:17 I said to myself, God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,” for a time for every matter and for every deed is there.

And well did Martin Luther King Jr. add . . .
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea

So when justice is challenged as it is being challenged in Ferguson, every American is affected and every community needs to be careful not to rush to judgment in trying to arrive at justice. Cops can do wrong and citizens can wrongly provoke cops to use lethal force to stop them. And then there are thousands of scenarios in between both of these extremes. All Americans have a vested interest in making sure our system of justice in all of these scenarios gets justice right.

The Executive Director of P4CM and I try to navigate our way through the maze of obstacles standing in the way of finding justice in Ferguson. I pray that our discussion is helpful for you. Thank you for taking the time to listen.