Word of the Quarter – Where is the Real Battle

The following is an article I wrote for the “Word of the Quarter” section of the January 2017 issue of the Scroll. It is titled “Where is the Real Battle?” This section is a collection of the thoughts of the three editors written in one voice.

Word of the Quarter – Where is the Real Battle?

When the editing team met to discuss the “Word of the Quarter,” we were still in a little shock over the results of the presidential election. It seems as if the results of this election were based on a few things: trust and fear.

Leading up to the election, it was clear that many Christians (based on the high percentage of (white) evangelical Christians who supported Trump) had put their faith and trust in man, when our faith and trust should be in God. In fact, if you listened to some “Christian leaders,” you would have believed that there would be no hope without a Trump victory. They turned Trump into an idol and (mis)placed their trust in him and not God.

Trump spoke into the fear many had (the fear of other), and people gave more energy to their fear. When we give energy to fear, we go into conflict and act out of it. This is based on feeling the need for self-preservation.

And the single issue of abortion coupled with an open Supreme Court justice seat led many Christians to turn a blind eye to the many issues that many Christians of color saw in Trump: racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc.

As Sunday continues to be a day of segregation of white, black, Asian, Latino, etc. churches, how can the church play a role in racial reconciliation, especially with all the fear of “other” that was part of Trump’s campaign? The world only has to look at segregated churches to call out further hypocrisy in the church.

And it brings to light the question: What is the role and responsibility of the church? You just need to turn to God’s Word to see it. From there, we can find out who Jesus was and how He saw and treated “others.” It is only by learning for ourselves that we can battle improper teaching and incomplete views of Christ. It is from the Word that we find our own wholeness, and part of our wholeness is in our neighbors being whole.

The bottom line is that the church has made the government responsible for doing what the church is supposed to do. Instead of sitting down, the church should be serving. It shouldn’t matter who the president is. Services should stem from the church. Areas where the church can minister to the community have been turned over into bureaucracies. And while the bureaucracies can help, it is up to the church to minister.

We still have our call. In the response to issues of social welfare and abortion, the church has missed an opportunity. We have missed openings to minister the undying love of Christ by displaying hate and ridicule. Jesus first dealt with the basic needs of the people. When Jesus met the woman at the well, He did not condemn her. He ministered. He created a safe place.

We see the results of this election as a call for us to be reminded of who we are supposed to be. A call to return to who God has called us to be: a church that ministers to the oppressed and marginalized and are not scared to get our hands “dirty.” We are not a victim, and we are not to live in fear. We must take control of our own communities.

As we move forward in 2017, we ask the church (of the living God): Where is your hope? If you are rooted in God, you will not be overcome by fear. Regardless of the media hype (especially unfounded conspiracy theory media outlets) and the many voices (you must drown out all of that noise), you must put your faith and trust in God.

 

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PCC Scroll – Word of the Quarter

Here is an article I wrote for my church’s newsletter. It was titled “Changing Your Viewpoint.”

Here is a story that you may have read.

A middle-aged couple moved into a new neighborhood. One morning, while they ate breakfast together, the wife saw her neighbor hanging clean laundry on a line outside. “That laundry is not very clean at all! She doesn’t know how to wash properly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap,” the wife said. Her husband continued to read the paper, keeping silent. For the following weeks, the wife makes the same remarks every time her neighbor comes out to hang her laundry. One month later, the wife is surprised to see that her neighbor has finally hung up laundry that looked clean. “Look, she’s finally learned to wash correctly. Who taught her to do this, I wonder?” she said to her husband. Without missing a beat, the husband replied, “I got up early and cleaned our windows.”

The theme for this issue is “Changing Our Viewpoint.” As we grow up, our minds become programmed. Unfortunately, some of our programming involves negative self talk, which brings a negative slant to life. We might not realize it, but sometimes the lens in which we see ourselves, the world, our families, or our jobs needs to be cleaned like the windows in the story above. It is time to clean your lens, replace your old tapes, and reprogram your mind.

Give yourself permission to unlearn some of what you have been taught. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective to unlearn how you think and feel. Write a new narrative about your life and yourself from what God says about you. Meditate on the promises of God and who God says that you are.

Study the Bible. There are many people whose narratives and viewpoints were changed simply by walking in their true identities in God. God took their histories and used them for their good. Their histories were colorful but needed in order to achieve their destinies in God.

Saul’s name was changed to Paul. Saul persecuted Christians. Paul ministered the Gospel and believed that the Gospel should be preached to Jews and Gentiles. His viewpoint changed after his encounter with God.

Simon’s name was changed to Peter. Simon was a rash, reactive person. Peter was the rock in which the foundation of the church was built. His viewpoint changed through his time with Christ.

Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. Jacob was a conniver and thief. Israel wrestled with God and with men and won. His viewpoint changed as he fought for what he wanted.

At the end of the day, it is important to see beyond the natural and see the spiritual side of our journey and battle. Don’t fight against yourself. Don’t fight against your neighbor or family. Fight against the real enemy and know that sometimes our job is to just be still and let God work it out.

How we see our life and the people around us influences our response. It is important to be intentional in choosing how we see things. We can react out of fear and anger if that is our viewpoint. The right perspective empowers us to be more purposeful in our walk.

We invite you to change your viewpoint to change your life.

 

Word of the Quarter – Equipping Others

This is an article I wrote for the Word of the Quarter section of the summer newsletter.

In this issue of the PCC Scroll, we wrap up the overarching theme of “Walking out Your Purpose.” The overarching theme began in the fall issue with the theme of “Discover Your Purpose.” In the winter issue, we continued on with the theme of “Using Your Gifts/Talents.” In the spring issue, we continued on with the theme of “Being a Good Steward.” In this summer issue, we conclude the overarching theme with the theme of “Equipping Others.”

The word equip has two meanings. One meaning is, “To supply with necessities such as tools or provisions.” The other meaning is, “To furnish (someone) with the qualities necessary for performance; prepare.”

As we have mentioned in past issues, our gifts and talents are not for us. They are to help edify and equip other members of the body of Christ. For example, if you are a teacher, you would equip the body with your teaching ministry by teaching the Word of God. If you are a writer, you would equip the people through your writing by writing pieces that inspire, encourage, and teach.

The Scroll is an example of a ministry that is meant to equip. In fact, if you look at issues of the Scroll, you will see our mission statement on the first page. Our mission is, “Spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping the People of God through the written word.”

Ephesians 4:11-16 tells us, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”

Of course, in order to be in a position to equip others, preparation is needed on our parts. God is constantly equipping us through our  backgrounds and experiences. God also uses His Word to equip us. This is why Bible study and church attendance are so important. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

In the Bible, we see many examples of people equipping others. The biggest example comes from Jesus. Jesus equipped His disciples by spending time with them and imparting knowledge and wisdom into them. And look at what they did. We can also see examples of equipping through the examples of Paul and Timothy and Naomi and Ruth. In some ways, equipping can also look like mentorship.

We can equip in natural ways as well. For example, if you are a financial advisor, you could equip the people of God in the area of finances. If you are into fitness, you could equip the saints into leading healthier lives.

We encourage you to know and understand what your role is in equipping others. It is important to know what God has given you to do. You have an important role in equipping the Body of Christ. Use your gifts and talents to equip those around you!

Word of the Quarter – Being a Good Steward

The Word of the Quarter from Volume XV Issue II of the PCC Scroll. The issue continued with the calendar year’s overarching theme of “Walking Out Your Purpose” with a theme of “Being a Good Steward.”

As a noun, the word steward is defined as, “a person employed to manage another’s property, especially a large house or estate.” As a verb, the word steward means, “manage or look after (another’s property).” From these perspectives, it’s a great reminder that our gifts, abilities, and talents are not ours, they are God’s. He placed them in us that we would use and cultivate them in His Kingdom.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents. In the parable, a man was going on a journey. He gave three servants different amounts of talents according to their abilities. The English Standard Version of the Bible uses the language that the servants were entrusted with his property. The word entrust deals with being assigned specific duties and responsibilities.

From the scripture, we do not know if the man left his servants with any instructions on what he expected to be done with the talents. We are not sure if he made it clear that he wanted his talents invested and that he expected the amount he gave returned with interest earned.

What we do know is that the servant who was given five talents came back with five additional talents and was told, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master,” Matthew 25:21 ESV. The servant who was given two talents came back with two more talents and was told, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master,” Matthew 25:23 ESV.

Then we come to the servant who was given one talent. This servant choose to hide his master’s money. He returned with the one talent he had been given. He was so scared of losing the talent, that he hid it. He was then called wicked and slothful by his master and cast into darkness. Hmm, he was scared to lose it. And in some ways, many of us are scared to use our talents. And by not using them, we lose them.

As children of God, we can liken ourselves as the servants in the parable. We were entrusted with property (in this case our gifts, abilities, and talents) from our Master (with God being the Master in the parable). Although unspoken, God does expect us to make use of, grow, and develop the talents He placed in us when were born. This growth comes from usage as well as taking the time to train and develop in the natural to cultivate the talents that are in us. The greatest athletes take the time to train and practice, and so should we.

God did not entrust us with our gifts, abilities, and talents for us to hide and bury them. We become good stewards by using what we have to serve those around us. None of our gifts, abilities, and talents have ever been for us. They have always been there to serve others.

We don’t know about you, but we want to use our gifts, abilities, and talents to the fullest. We want to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” We think we all want more of God. In order to get more, we have to be faithful over what we have right now. Then we can watch as God gives us more.

Volume XV Issue I: Word of the Quarter

This is the “Word of the Quarter” article I wrote for the Volume XV Issue I edition of the PCC Scroll.

In the NIV, I Peter 4:10-11 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

God has given each of us different talents, gifts, abilities, and passions. Each of our gift-sets are shaped uniquely to our personalities and backgrounds, and each is so important to the body of Christ. As 1 Peter 4:10-11 says, our gifts are to serve others. If we look up the word gift, it has two meanings. One is, “a natural ability or talent.” The other is, “a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.” The gifts (natural abilities or talents) that come from God are gifts (things you give willingly to someone without payment) and talents you give to your community through service.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 lets us know that there are a variety of gifts and that it is God who empowers us to operate in them. And this is comforting. The word gift lets us know that what we have been given is not for ourselves. God fuses our gifts and talents with His supernatural power. 1 Corinthians 12 goes on to say in verses 27-28 that we are all part of the body of Christ. We all have a different, important part to play. We can’t stress enough how each part is needed and significant.

This gifting is a two-way street. Not only do your gifts and talents benefit and serve those around you, there are also people around you whose gifts and talents benefit you. Perhaps you need to receive a word of exhortation or encouragement. Perhaps you need to hear a prophetic word about a situation in your life. This gift would come from your brother or sister in Christ.

Your gifts and talents are so needed! Whatever your gifts and talents, God gave them to you to give back to others. Your gifts and talents can be likened to the Parable of the Talents. A talent is useless unless it is used. If you have the gift of healing but never use the gift, the body is denied a much needed ministry.

If you are shy and hesitant about using your gifts and talents, know that each time you use them, they grow (like muscles). To return to the Parable of the Talents, the servant who buried his talent lost it. It was given to another who had invested what had been given to him. In the parable, those who invested their talents received more. Any investment made in the Kingdom of God will be returned to you because God will grow it. Your gifts and talents will make room for you and take you to places you have never imagined.

We all have things we are talented and gifted in. Let us spend 2016 and beyond maximizing the investment God put in us to the fullest. Don’t bury your (gifts and) talents!

Word of the Quarter

Article from latest Scroll

Word of the Quarter
Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most beautiful scriptures. It reads, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” The words were spoken to the prophet Jeremiah. God was letting Jeremiah and the Children of Israel know that they were in His hands…there was still hope and God’s purpose that He would see through.

Look at the story of Joseph. Joseph knew that God was with him. He just had to follow through and be obedient to God. He had to be patient, have faith, and walk through his journey even when he was sold into slavery and even when he was falsely accused and imprisoned. God used his natural gifts to create opportunities from his challenges. In the end, the situations that were meant for his harm ended up being for his good and the good of his entire family.

Look at the story of Moses. When Moses discovered who he truly was and his purpose, he walked away from a life of comfort and leisure into the unknown. He realized his purpose was greater than himself. His purpose was to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt. He looked fear and uncertainty in the face to accomplish his destiny.

Look at Jesus’ life. He knew His purpose, and He walked into His purpose even unto death. Every lesson and miracle was a journey to the Cross. His willingness to die so that we may live through His death, burial, and resurrection is such a remarkable display of His love for us.

The common thread or theme found among the people above is that they understood their purpose was greater than themselves. God’s words to Jeremiah were not just for him. They were for the people of God. Moses’ job was to lead the people. Jesus came that we all may live.

What is your purpose? What is your unique giftedness or your part of the Body of Christ? 1 Corinthians 12 talks in length about our spiritual gifts. We all have different gifts, and all of those gifts are working for the same God and purpose. Each part is as equally important. It is very important that you see yourself as part of the body and know that your part is valuable and needed by the rest of the body. We need you!

If you are struggling to find your gift and purpose, it may be very useful to take a spiritual-gifts inventory. Turn your gifts into service for the Kingdom of God.

The words given to Jeremiah relate to us today. We need to be willing to step out of ourselves and be used by God. Amazing things happen when we find and walk in our purposes. It is important to know that things don’t just happen overnight or quickly. This can be hard in our instant gratification, credit card, and microwave society. But keep going. Regardless of our challenges, God is creating opportunities for us to walk in His purpose for our lives.

Word of the Quarter: PCC Scroll Volume XIV, Issue III

Here is the Word of the Quarter from the latest PCC Scroll. I combine the thoughts of the other editors into one article.

Last fall, we began writing from the overarching theme of “Becoming the Authentic You.” The first step in becoming the authentic you is acknowledging where you are while taking stock in where you’ve been. The second step in becoming the authentic you is figuring out who you want to be or (more importantly) who God says you are. The third step in becoming the authentic you is determining where you go from there.

In this issue, we will close out the overarching theme of “Becoming the Authentic You,” and write about living out our authentic selves. Our authentic selves have the power to do amazing works for and through God.

The crux of the journey of becoming our authentic selves is found in God. The more we know about Him, the more our thoughts, actions, and lives can be changed. This transformation causes us to move toward our authentic selves, which is who we are in God.

Simon Peter had a daily walk with Jesus. He saw Jesus perform miracles. He saw Jesus’ compassion toward the people. Simon Peter saw Jesus in His humanity. He, along with the other disciples, had a front-row view of who Jesus was.

It is from that closeness with Jesus that Simon Peter was transformed. Simon Peter’s intimacy with Christ helped Simon Peter identify who Christ was at His essence. Simon Peter was transformed to Peter. He became the potential that God had placed in him. He became and lived out his authentic self. He became a person who changed the world.

Paul is another person who was transformed after an encounter with Christ. He was transformed from Saul to Paul, thus becoming his authentic self. He was then able to live out his purpose. One just needs to read the New Testament to know the amazing work Paul performed as his authentic self.

Peter and Paul are just two examples of the many people who walked out their authentic selves and changed the world after encounters with Christ. You too have the power within you to impact the world around you. You have the freedom to be who you are. God will use your personality, gifts, and talents for His purpose and for His glory.

There is a power that emerges when we live out our authentic selves. Who we are in our authentic selves lies in who God says that we are. Through His power, we can live it out.

Christ knows the real us. When walking in our authentic selves, we are being true to ourselves. We are striving to become more like Christ. We are striving to be authentic.