Monday, July 19, 2010

Lebron! Lebron! Lebron!: "The Decision"

Everybody by now has heard, watched and debated the infamous, "Decision". I missed going to church with a friend that night just so I could watch it. Don't worry, I prayed 3 minutes longer the next day to make up for that decision. I hope they're not reading my blog. Oops.

Here's the question though, "should Lebron have stayed in Cleveland or gone to Miami"? This will undoubtedly be something that is argued in every barbershop, social club and around every dinner table. But really, who can answer that question but Lebron? It all depends on the purpose Lebron entered the league and how he defines success. If Mr. James defines success as rings and championships (nothing wrong with that), then going to Miami might have been a great move. But if for some reason he based his decision purely upon how other people defined his success he will soon see that he is chasing a carrot that can never be caught. Okay, enough with Lebron. We have our own life challenges. However, Lebron's "decision" or the possible motivation for it does cause me and should you to introspectively consider how and why we make our decisions.

I am a pastor; and instructing and inspiring people with the Word of God is what I do. The mission of Hungry Church is: "to cultivate lives that please God and demonstrate the unconditional love of God to others". This is the reason I and we as a church exist. If I achieve this one goal before I retire from this life I believe God will hang my jersey and "Chuck Taylors" from heaven and say, "well done thy good and faithful servant". However, my self-appointed agents have another agenda for my life; "be the biggest church, have the largest building, preach internationally and be on YouTube". These are all great aspirations and it very well may be my lot to have all of them. Well, the YouTube thing is kinda corny but still possible. However, do I leave team God to pursue after that or do I simply "play the game" and fulfill my purpose for which I was called? I would be lying if I said it's not a hard decision. Critics or Championships? Obedience or Accolades?

I have no doubt that you are faced as well with such a "decision". My desire is that you will ideally be able to have them both but my prayer is that you will only pursue after one- PURPOSE!

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." (Matthew 6:33 NLT)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Crack or Cocaine?

Recently, some friends and I were having a conversation over which drug we thought was worse- crack or cocaine? By the grace of God, I have never experienced either and have very little knowledge regarding either of these two substances; therefore, I had very little to contribute to the conversation. Not wanting to remain uneducated and unwilling to ruin my life to obtain the knowledge, I decided to do like everyone else in search of truth does: I googled it! :)

My findings were quite interesting. Here is a link to a site where you can read the differences between the two and contact someone should you be suffering with an addiction.

While crack and cocaine are in essence the same drug, the users of the two vary vastly. Crack is considered a poor man's drug because it is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of cocaine. Users of cocaine would not dare think of using crack - it is not "sophisticated" enough.

"What does this have to do with anything?" I'm glad you asked. We have a tendency to compartmentalize sin like we do crack and cocaine. Galatians 5:19-21 outlines what can be viewed as the crack sins- illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity,idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions,envy, drunkenness and wild partying.

Proverbs 6:16-19 delineates the sophisticated "cocaine sins"- arrogant eyes,a lying tongue,hands that kill innocent people,a mind devising wicked plans, feet that are quick to do wrong,a dishonest witness spitting out lies,and a person who spreads conflict among loved ones.

The purpose of ALL illegal drugs and ALL sin is the same- to provide the user or sinner with a superficial high while leaving them empty and craving for more. There is no conversation to be had about it: whether it is crack or cocaine, both are deadly. In like fashion, ALL sin separates you from God - "crack" sins and "cocaine" sins.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Exploring this LOVE Thang: Part 3

I've heard it said too numerous times to count; "love like you've never been hurt". What?!?!? Who wants and can do that? What kind of advice is that? Tell that to the person who's been abused, cheated on, humiliated, or abandoned. To make matters worse, it seems like the people who often give this advice have never experienced a level of hurt that echoes the person they are advising or either have had a considerable amount of time between their last "love" disaster. This type of advice seems like a millionaire telling a homeless person to not think about how broke they are. Do you see what I'm trying to say? Let's be real when love is good it's GOOD. But when love is bad, it down right SUCKS!

All of us have experienced at some point relational disappointment. Whether it was romantic, professional, familial, interpersonal or other. Anytime you let someone into your life it comes with a certain level of risk. And while we are all too familiar with the level of risk and potential hurt loving others can bring, we all still secretly or openly want to be loved and to genuinely share it with others. But "love like you've never been hurt" still seems like bad advice.

I was all too certain of this school of thought until I read 1 Corinthians 13:7-8."Love ALWAYS protects, ALWAYS trusts, ALWAYS hopes, ALWAYS perseveres. Love NEVER fails." It feels like God is saying to "love like you have never been hurt" by the continued use of the word "always". But how can we do that?

1) The Love of God is a command and a call to action. The feeling derived from loving someone should never precede the command and action of loving. Love the verb sometimes walks alone. In other words, sometimes we are called to love people who we believe are "undeserving" and unappreciative of our love. I liken it to waking up in the morning and not feeling like going to work. If most people operated solely based upon their feelings they would never go to work and sadly to say while their job at work may go undone in the long run, after being fired from their job, they would ultimately only hurt themselves.

2) Love didn't hurt you- a person, people or unrealistic expectations did. To hate love, as a result of being hurt while loving, is like having no more use for money after loaning a person money who fails to pay you back. Money nor love caused the deficiency.

I pray you never experience again the pain caused by "love gone wild". I also pray you never intentionally take advantage of someone because they love you. Whether you are the victim or the victimizer what God has spoken is true- LOVE NEVER FAILS!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Exploring this LOVE Thang: Part 2

Exploring this LOVE thang has been no joke. One reason is because there is so little written on the subject of love that does not specifically target romance. Now don't get me wrong, romance is important, but this LOVE thang must transcend candle-lit dinners and date nights. This love thang only works if it can be applied to all types of relationships. Truthfully, most of us don't need much help on how to operate with individuals we have a fondness for, that somehow just comes naturally. I've found most of us need the greatest attitude overhaul in the relationships that require the most, but benefit us the least.

Where then do we begin? If you did not read Part 1 of "Exploring this LOVE Thang" you should probably do so before reading Part 2 as it will save me from having to recap. In case you're lazy and not going to read it, let me summarize. Love God and love yourself first. How you love others is a reflection of the value and security you place in God and self.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives some very clear-cut characteristics regarding love that I believe are esssential to delineate and define in our exploration. I will use this blog and Part 3 as an opportuinity for doing so. Now as I define some of these, some of you inherrently are going to begin to underscrore in your mind the characteristics you feel you have mastered. There's nothing wrong with that. I, however will caution you to refrain from percentage scoring."I have 85% of the characteristics so I'm good." Naw homie, it doesn't work like that. Think of this LOVE thang like a car. Love is the body of the car. The characteristics are the essential parts to make it run. Without any 1 part, the car cannot fulfill its purpose. Lacking in any of these areas causes one's love to be as weak as pre-sweetened kool-aid. You got it?

Last thing, then I think we're ready to dive in. When you read 1 Corithians 13 it is important to note that it is talking about love-not you. What do I mean? This chapter refers to love's response, responsibility, and impact. God is not asking you to be a door mat or accept abuse but rather speaking to how your love should respond in any given situation.

The Characteristics

1) Love suffers long and is kind (verse 4)

The key word to focus on is kind. Suffering long is merely a no escape clause. In other words in the good and bad times love's response is one of kindness. Kindness is the free giving of oneself to another regardless of their merit. Kindness gives because it sees a need and has the ability to meet that need.

2) Love does not envy, does not parade itself, is not puffed up (verse 4)

You will inevitably love someone who does not love you at all or to the degree you love them. Do not become envious (pursuing receiprocation from them or others. Love must be given not stolen), parade your love (hold others hostage by letting them know how much you and how little they love) and puffed up (feel a sense of entitlement because of your love).

3) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil (verse 5)

Ever been in a heated disagreement or offended and your goal was to slice and dice, kill and conquer, humiliate the offending or opposing person? Well, verse 5 says that ain't love. Don't do it. No matter how good it makes you feel afterwards.

Woah! Part 2 was not only lengthy but meaty. I hope you're like me-not just determined to explore this LOVE thang but master it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Exploring this LOVE Thang

Love! What is it? What is it not? I'll be the first to tell you, "I don't know". I do however know it:
1) is essential to a life reflective of Christ. (ref. 1 John 4:8)
2) is a Doing not just a Feeling (ref. John 15:13)
3) is THE GREATEST gift God has given to us and we can give to others. (ref. 1 Corinthians 13:13)

So, I've already said I don't know what love is so don't look for or expect anything deep. I will however, over the next couple of days, seek to discover more on the topic and blog my findings. Why? Because, love is essential for success for all of us. Whether it be from the boardroom to the bedroom amongst friends or enemies this LOVE thang isn't going anywhere so we might as well learn a little something something about it.

Here's a good place to start.Galatians 5:14 says "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

Statement: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Principle: How you love or don't love others is a reflection of what you think about yourself. A person with a low self-perception of themselves (whether you can see it or not) will be less willing to love without a return on their investment. They love selfishly.They have what I call the Janet Jackson mindset. "I must be in "CONTROL" and ask "What Have You Done For Me Lately?" A person with an abundance of love and God-confidence for and in themselves is more apt to love others unconditionally because they are less likely to require something in return. Your love reciprocated to them while desired is not necessary to make or break them.