Thursday, September 11, 2014

#DailyProverbs 10:12: “Hate stirs up trouble, but love overlooks all offences.”

In the face of 9/11, and in the spirit of remembering, we need to think about our daily actions. WE as a people, individually can change the world. I mean, look back… we DID change the world. And every action has a reaction. Every reaction furthers the chain of events.

[Oh, Michael... don't get on a high horse... Except, this needs to be said.]

Where were you on 9/11? What happened to you *personally* that day? Unless you were on a plane, in one of the buildings or directly affected through family - were you *really* affected other than through a series of emotions and feelings that you had to process? What changed for you? Did anything? 

[TSA rules did, but that's just selfish of me.]

Did you begin a blanket statement of doom and horror that God did this? Remember when some TV preachers started saying that because we "turned from God" that this was a "punishment?" That God’s protection was revoked due to sin? Did you assume that any non-white, non-Christian was responsible? Did you become bitter? Did it become something you carry with you to this day in prejudice and in fear? It's time to really look at how you feel and really address your issues. 

[Let me say this: Everyone wants love. Everyone.]

Every race. Every religion. Every nationality. Every countryman. Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated. No one wakes up thinking, “I hate brown people, women and anyone not like me.” No one. No one in a different country wakes up and thinks, "I hate those Americans and their liberty and democracy." I don't even think evangelical conservatives that are Christian in name only wake up quaking in fear of educated women or homosexuals. They don't wake up looking for ways to be cruel or divisive. As a country, we aren't even the ONLY nation with liberty or democracy or freedom or women voters or multi-racial, multi-nationals. As a country, we aren't even on the top of any lists for innovation or education or industry anymore. 

[So, back to the hate...]

Right... carrying on... they aren't born with it. They don't wake up like that. They get taught that. They get taught to focus on differences and to “hate” others not like them. But, essentially, every single human alive wants to be safe, healthy, and happy. They want the ones they love to be safe, healthy, and happy. But our world doesn’t seem to know how to receive love, or give love anymore. We've forgotten that from a global perspective - we are all in this together. We seem to be devolving – not evolving.

Hear this, readers... Be careful what you hate. Be careful what you promote. Translate that into how you treat your barista. Translate that into how you treat your cab driver. Translate that into how you treat your subordinates. Transfer that into how you treat your assistant and your housekeeper. Translate that into how you talk to work colleagues. If your personal outreach program for Christ is about what people CANNOT do, who God already loves or hates, and how they are already condemned and burning in hell before God is ever even preached or witnessed to them... what are you doing? Don't focus on the negative. Focus on what they GET to do!!! Hate and negativity will never be the way Christ wins a heart. Fear of punishment, fear of retribution is no way to live. Fear and panic is not a valid reason to come to Christ. It's not valid Foreign Policy. It's not valid in how your treat your neighbor. God is love and His drawing spirit is out of love. Christ’s death was an act of selfless love. His sacrifice and subsequent victory over death was out of love. You see, perfect love is what defeated death and the grave, not perfect power. Power doesn’t always win. Love does, though.

Try this, instead: Why not focus on what people CAN do, and what they can give to Christ? Come at it from a positive place and what we GET to sacrifice to Christ as a way to be separate and closer to God, rather than as a list of Pharisaical rules that only inspire symbol vs. substance. Some well-meaning and soulful Pentecostal will take this to mean that I don’t promote standards or holiness. They will assume this is “sentimentality” and that I am incorrect. Well, think what you will. The truth is I love holiness standards, and I have my own personal convictions and personal standards that I know God loves to deal with me about. I probably live WAY holier than most preachers when it comes to my wallet AND when it comes to loving the unloveable, but that is because God dragged me out of a gutter (kicking and screaming, but He did it…) My holiness standards or the limits I set on myself are because I sacrifice those to God out of relationship with Christ, I give those to God as part of my consecration and my holiness separation to God. It’s not from a place of “being different” or “don’t do this.” They come from a place of love I have for God. I believe in holiness, and I have love for them, but I only respect the ones that are done because of a deeply personal relationship with God and not because people are following rules that they don’t believe. They follow the rules out of fear, out of conformity, or not in understanding and in love of God. I said all of that as a segue to this…

Be very, very careful about what you decide that the Lord hates, or that you hate on His behalf. Stop worrying about your neighbor and their shortcomings. Who cares if they are not a white, affluent conservative in a Red State that looks, shops, votes, dresses, and worships like you? Scripture states that they should be the ones you befriend and to whom you should show the truest example of Christ. What if they were brown, or if they are a different religion? Did Jesus not die for them, then? What does someone’s marital status or how their children turned out have to do with you? What does your neighbors sexual orientation, or first language or documentation status have to do with your day to day life? What if it’s a single mother that you look down on because she always seems to be struggling with her kids and her schedule? Is she always late? Does she always seem to be just a little behind? Does she not pay her kid’s way early and get checked off of your to do list quickly enough? When you are married, and have built in familial support with your job, your kids, daycare, and your life… it’s easier to feel “blessed” by God and to tout how much God loves you. Maybe… just maybe you could offer her help instead of judging her. Maybe you could be the one that mentors her? Maybe the aggravation you feel is the nudge of God pointing you to be a help and ministry.

God loves us all equally. You are on equal footing with the inner city, drug using, drunk hooker that just finished turning a trick so she could have shelter, food, drugs, or just have safety for the day. God loves her right where she is. God loves her just HOW she is… in need of salvation, in need of a home, in need of safety and restoration… God loves her JUST like he loves you. He died for her, and her sins, just like he died for you, and your sins. His stripes are to heal her transgressions and illnesses, just like if it was your sainted Grandmother asking for prayer after years of faithful service. Be very cautious of going to the default of knowing who and what God hates and being His arm of vengeance and piety. Be so cautious of using hate and fear to judge others out of a reaction. 

[You are in filthy rags, too, friend. We all are.]

If that seems to fluffy, let me say it like this: Quit making a mockery of Jesus and His sacrifice for EVERY human by pretending that YOU have a say in someone else’s salvation. You have no say. God sets the call out to the soul. Jesus is the one that bled and died. The Holy Ghost fills and reconciles us to Jesus. Stop pretending that grace isn’t the best thing ever and thinking your symbols, your standards, or your fleshly works will get you to Heaven. ALL have sinned. ALL have come short. ALL need repentance. ALL need baptism. ALL need the Holy Ghost. The rest… God can surely and WILL surely clean up and restore. God gives us the garment of praise. God dresses us in the beauty of holiness. 

[As a point of clarification to us all - God is God, He generally doesn’t need help in making sure that His will is accomplished. He uses us and LETS us be involved to help us grow and to make us better. I know we like to think we have a say, and that we are so important and vital, but if you got hit by a bus tomorrow, God would fill the position and use someone else to make sure that people got witnessed to, and life went on...]

And if you doubt that… well then, just trust me - I’m living proof of God at work in a human life. I’m proof that God is real, God is able, God is a “hands on” kinda God. I am proof that God is love. God’s love is what provided a way for any of us to be saved. Quit focusing on hate. Quit focusing on what you think God would hate. Stop using civil politics and law as a means to hurt others and use the Separation of Church and State as a point of FREEDOM in focusing on love. Focus on what you think God would love...

What would God LOVE for you to act like?
What would God LOVE for you to do to help your fellow man?
What would God LOVE for you to talk like, walk like, live like and look like?

Don’t focus on hating others and what you think you have lost, or the burden of being not OF the world… look at what you have gained through separation and what you gain in Christ! Focus on how you, through Christ, can show love to people that NEED God. Today is 9/11... 13 years later. What have you learned? What in you has changed? What in you is different? What can you do today to show the love of God to someone and to squash hate?

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Open Letter - September 10th, 2014

Hello All –

Normally, I don’t like “open letters.” But, timeliness necessitates efficiency in this scenario. So, rather than message everyone privately, or rather than make it seem more dramatic than what it is... I'll just address it all at once, publicly, and let my "yay be yay" and my "nay be nay."

Several of my friends have either called, texted, or sent messages about my recent silence. Nothing is wrong, but I’ve been quiet lately on social media for several reasons:
--I’ve been inordinately busy with work. Really. I have a few jobs and I'm swamped.
--I’ve moved houses and I’ll be blunt: that is the most soul-sucking task of which I know. I wasn't ready.
--I am dealing with some spiritual/emotional issues and learning to just submit to God’s will – which is hard for me.
--I was just taking time to regroup and kind of get my own mind in order, and my own words in order. I don't like to make blanket announcements before I have crossed my "t's" and dotted my "i's." I don't like to be caught making an announcement before I've done my homework or signed my contracts. And I don’t like it when others make weird statuses about “I’m taking a break” or “I’m cutting my friends list” or even “There’s so much negativity.” Rather than be a hypocrite (because you have ALL seen me call those types out) I just took a break and handled my business(es).

But I am going to address this fully: I have gotten very, very positive feedback and lots of reinforcement about my life journey from last year to this year. And I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to my family and to my friends. Really. My mother and my sister have been invaluable. There are some sources of outreach and support I NEVER thought I'd get. And to be honest, there has been some reconciliation and outreach from old friends and even ministers that I NEVER thought I'd speak with again. My long term support system has been amazing to me. Friends really are the greatest treasures. I am MORE than blessed with people that love me. And I’m truly lucky enough to have new friends and support as well. Tampa Bay has become home. be honest, there’s also been negative feedback. Some people think I am too “Jesus-y” and that I have just taken it TOO far. That’s okay, too. It’s okay for you to feel that way, and it’s okay for me to do it. You’d likely be just as vocal and write just as much about it if you’d been healed and if you’d been delivered and if you’d been given a new lease on life. However you need to feel and whatever you need to do is fine. Mute my feed. Feel free to unfriend me on this platform. Facebook to me is a tool to accomplish a means. It is by NO means my only source of reality or truth. And I don’t get offended by being unfriended or muted, or blocked. I’m kind of grown that way. It doesn’t mean we can’t sit down for a drink, or coffee, or I won’t hug your neck when I see you in person.

All of that being said, it’s the perfect segue for me to use this platform to publicly announce that I’ve surrendered to the call of the ministry, in whatever form that takes in my future. My close friends and even just those that read my writings know I’ve squandered quite a bit of time in my life. But this is a natural progression for me; and it is one I will not take lightly, or will I ever turn away from again. Luckily for me, God’s callings and gifts are without repentance. The anointing is still as strong and the way God works through me is better than ever. God and His love are infallible and unconditional.


And, frankly, I’ve had candid conversations with mentors and with my pastor about my initial lack of enthusiasm for anything more than just “being back in church.” This is more than a “find something good to do with your hands…” or “hand to the plow” situation. I kind of begged God to get out of it (if I am being transparent in my own journey), but the resounding answer has been that God placed me where He wanted me, and I’m to work in the Harvest. It’s hard to decline such an invitation (er, command) after the year I’ve had with the digestive issues, cancer, and complete recovery for my health and spiritual issues. Complete recovery.

I’ve been privileged to find myself in a great church and am sitting under a wonderful pastor for this season in my life. I miss my family and I miss Jackson, but I’m also positioned well to secure my job, and my finances to the point to where I can be a minister, in whatever capacity I’m asked to serve. God wants us to bloom where we are planted and work where we are called. Currently, I am working in two ministries with music and teaching at my church and loving every, single minute. Whatever comes, and whatever has to happen in my life to accomplish these, I’ve been really, really blessed to be armed with the support team and resources in this time of my life and during these transitions.

Hope that clears some of it up. Nothing's wrong. I'm not being quiet on purpose. I won't quit giving all credit to God for the changes in my life. I won't quit talking about Jesus and I will continue even further in ministry and in working with whatever I'm asked to do. Can't get much better than that for a second chance. (or third, or fourth... or fifth... or maybe sixth or seventh...)

Much love and prayers to you all.

Cheers, #JustBeingMichael ツ