Mosaix Blogs Full Mosaix Blogs Full Respective post owners and feed distributors Wed, 11 Sep 2019 10:51:13 -0500 Feed Informer Truth is the Anchor of Life David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:55f52123-5d1b-037a-286f-3d6aee30c52d Sat, 21 May 2022 08:50:37 -0500 (this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play) For your life to have a purpose, meaning and direction, it must be guided by truth.... <p><em>(this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play)</em></p> <p>For your life to have a purpose, meaning and direction, it must be guided by truth. And not just any truth, but God’s truth as found in His Word. Because God epitomizes truth.</p> <p>Isaiah 65:15 says, “And yet, the days will come when all who invoke a blessing or take an oath shall swear by the God of Truth; for I will put aside my anger and forget the evil that you did.”</p> <p>If you think about God, think truth. And when you think about that, your life should be anchored in truth. And when your life is anchored in truth, you&#8217;ll be able to say like Saint Augustine of old, “Where I found the truth, there found I my God, who is the truth itself.” God is truth. Everything that you think of when you think of truth, absolute truth, will point you to God.</p> <p>In 2015, there was a study done by the Barna Research Group to understand what Americans think about truth, moral truth to be specific. 35% of Americans say that moral truth is absolute, and 44% say moral truth is relative.</p> <p>In other words, moral truth is whatever I think is true. There are no particular absolutes or boundaries. And then 21% said I have not even given thought to it.</p> <p>Imagine the world we&#8217;re living in, where such a high percentage of people don&#8217;t even believe in absolute truth. They don&#8217;t have anchor points in their lives that they adhere to that they consider to be firm and absolute.</p> <p>Paul writes in Philemon 4-5, “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.” He continues in verses 8-13, “Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I&#8217;m sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I&#8217;m in chains for the gospel.” And then in verse 17 he says, “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”</p> <p>I want you to imagine what was going on. Paul was a prisoner in a Roman cell. He is under house arrest but can entertain guests and write letters, but he&#8217;s still under arrest. Somehow a young man named Onesimus connects with Paul. He befriends Paul, and Paul befriends him, and Onesimus comes to know Christ as savior. He&#8217;s born again. He&#8217;s washed from his sins and set free.</p> <p>As Paul is discipling and helping Onesimus grow and become a solid man of God, Onesimus hits an impasse. The information comes out in conversation that Onesimus was actually a runaway slave from Colossi, a thousand miles away in Turkey, and he finds himself now in Rome, Italy, another country.</p> <p>Paul got to a place where Onesimus’ past could not be swept under the rug and could not be ignored. Onesimus needed to experience and integrate the truth of the gospel into every nook and cranny of his life. If he was going to become the man of God that God called him to become, he had to deal with the issue of God—of truth. I want to spend our time answering two questions from Scripture.</p> <h3>What is truth?</h3> <p>We can easily say truth is when there&#8217;s an agreement and a harmony with the facts and reality—that is truth. But that question is very complex, so I&#8217;d instead rephrase it to make it simple and something that we can tackle.</p> <p>How can I reconcile and recognize truth? How can I recognize fact? And then reconcile truth within my life?</p> <p>Jesus puts it this way in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus answers the question succinctly. He says, “I am the truth.”</p> <p>Jesus is saying to us that if you are going to become His follower, you need to align your life internally and externally with His teachings, values, philosophy and worldview. So Jesus says, I am the truth.</p> <p>When we think about it, truth must be harmonious. That means that every part of your life, every aspect of your worldview and every part of your belief system must be in harmony with the fact of who Jesus is and His values.</p> <p>Truth must have internal consistency and external consistency. Over time, truth must have the same sense of consistency.</p> <p>And so what Paul was trying to tell Onesimus was that he had hit a ceiling in his walk with the Lord because of his past, and you&#8217;ve never faced your past through the lens of Jesus.<br /> If you hide the past, ignore the past, and you&#8217;re silent about your past, something has gone on in your past that you need to come to terms with. Truth requires compatibility, consistency and harmony. If indeed it&#8217;s true, you have to be able to deal with it.</p> <p>Truth is a life that is harmonious and consistent. Paul said to Onesimus, my spiritual son, I led you to Christ, but there&#8217;s something in your past that you have to fix. Fixing doesn&#8217;t mean that you undo it but you have to reconcile your newfound life with what you&#8217;ve done. Because if you don&#8217;t reconcile it, you&#8217;ll always have a ceiling that you&#8217;ll never go beyond in your spiritual growth.</p> <h3>Does truth matter? Answer: Absolutely. Yes. Truth matters.</h3> <p>David tells us in Psalm 25:5, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You, I wait all the day.” This great psalmist is saying to God in song. You&#8217;re the God of truth. Lead me, lead me in truth.</p> <p>Now, back to the letter that Paul wrote to Philemon. Remember, Onesimus was a slave to Philemon. Onesimus didn&#8217;t just run away; he stole from his owner Philemon. So, here’s this letter from Paul. Paul says I can ask and demand you do what would be right, Philemon, but I won&#8217;t. I&#8217;m going to just present to you this situation with Onesimus. When he came to Rome, a thousand miles away, he got confronted with the truth of the gospel, and he gave his heart to Christ, and I&#8217;ve been mentoring and discipling him. I realize that he needs to go and make things right with you. So I&#8217;m sending him back to you and here&#8217;s a letter.</p> <p>Imagine being Philemon and receiving this letter from Paul and reading to the end where Paul says, if Onesimus has done you any harm, if he owes you anything, I&#8217;ll repay it, charge it to my account. In other words, put it on my tab.</p> <p>Onesimus needed to have his conscience and his conduct aligned. His behavior and his beliefs needed to align. He had to be able to have his word, and his walk align. If you are going to say to God, “Jesus, you&#8217;re the truth, the way and you&#8217;re the one,” that means you have to recognize truth does matter.</p> <p>Onesimus had to work up a lot of courage to get on a boat, go a thousand miles to Colossi, Turkey and then get off that boat and make that trek to Philemon&#8217;s estate to make sure that the letter was intact. He didn&#8217;t know if he was going to be punished. He didn&#8217;t know if he was going to be imprisoned. He didn&#8217;t know if he was going to be flogged. He had no idea what the punishment was going to be.</p> <p>But, something happened in Philemon’s heart. He dropped all of that anger, animosity and sense of vengeance. He dropped it and welcomed Onesimus, not as a slave but as a brother in Christ.</p> <p><strong>Because of truthfulness, reconciliation occurred.</strong></p> <p>Not every instance, when you express truth, will reconciliation be the aftermath. You also need to recognize when you deal with truthfulness; there&#8217;s timing with it. Sometimes we can say, I just tell them the truth. And if you tell people the truth in ways that are destructive, you&#8217;ve missed out on the essence of truth. Truth must be accompanied by grace. Truth must be seasoned with kindness. Truth must embody godliness; truth is not just blunt facts or harsh realities. That&#8217;s not truth—that&#8217;s just angry words being spewed out and being put in religious terms as if it&#8217;s truth. Truth is not destructive. Truth is constructive. Truth doesn’t tear down. Truth builds, even though at times the truth may hurt. Truth is a healing tool of God because when the truth comes into relationships, powerful things occur.</p> <h3>What are you going to do about truth?</h3> <p>The benefits of truth are astounding, not only medical benefits, but here we see Onesimus, his destiny no longer derailed and thwarted or hindered. He could walk in the truth and reconcile his belief in Christ and his behavior as a believer in Christ. And when he reconciled, the Lord raised him, not as a slave, but as a bishop in the church.</p> <p>God has great things for you when you align your life with truth.</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Why Others Matter David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:f2223893-10cd-7ae4-ecf2-6bb9e98c8bf5 Fri, 13 May 2022 04:58:53 -0500 (this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play) Looking out for number one has been wired into every human since sin entered the world.... <p><em>(this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play)</em></p> <p>Looking out for number one has been wired into every human since sin entered the world. And in today’s world of selfies, personal brands and influencers, it’s never been more magnified. But, what would happen if we turned the camera around and started seeing ‘others’ instead of being so focused on ourselves?</p> <p>Like every nation in the world, our nation has special days that we celebrate. When we name a celebratory day, like Mother&#8217;s Day, what we&#8217;re saying is mothers are important. Let&#8217;s do something memorable and kind for Mother. Or we celebrate fathers on Father&#8217;s Day. We&#8217;re saying fathers are important, and let&#8217;s do something memorable and thoughtful for fathers.</p> <p>What would happen if we created a celebratory day called Others’ Day? A day where we focus on random acts of kindness for someone, whether in a family, a company, a job, a stranger or a friend.</p> <p>To unpack the significance of kindness, I want to bring you into the life of King David. Here’s the setting, David is now the king of Israel, the second king. He had defeated the main enemies of the nation, the Philistines, the Moabites and the Arameans. The Scripture tells us that in every place where David went, God gave him victory. David was experiencing peace. The nation of Israel was experiencing peace. David was living large at that time. And then something happened in his heart.</p> <p>In 2 Samuel 9:1, David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan&#8217;s sake? Now there was a servant of Saul&#8217;s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” “At your service,” he replied. The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God&#8217;s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” “Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He&#8217;s at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” So, King David, had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel. When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “At your service,” he replied. “Don&#8217;t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather, Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master&#8217;s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master&#8217;s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David&#8217;s table like one of the King&#8217;s sons. Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the King&#8217;s table; he was lame in both feet.”</p> <p>Now, let&#8217;s take a step back so you can see the journeying that happened in David&#8217;s heart to bring him to that place, to talk about doing an act of kindness.</p> <p>David was the second king of Israel. The first king, Saul, was a very wicked king. And at one point, he was envious and jealous of David. His envy drove him to pursue David, scholars say, for 10 years in an attempt to kill him. At one point, in an attempt to escape Saul’s desperate attempts to kill him, David lived in Philistine territory for 18 months. It was so bad that Saul also made threats against David&#8217;s mom and dad. As a result, David had his mother and father go and live with the king of Moab among the Moabites for a certain period of time. So, that’s the backdrop.</p> <p>Saul’s son, Jonathan and David were best friends and Jonathan was a source of strength for David. But Jonathan and his father Saul were killed on the same day when they were fighting the Philistines. When the nurse that was taking care of Mephibosheth, who was five years old at the time, heard the news that Saul, Mephibosheth’s grandfather, and Jonathan, Mephibosheth’s father, were killed, she grabbed up Mephibosheth because she knew that his life was going to be jeopardized because he was perhaps destined for the throne, to become the king.</p> <p>The nurse picked up Mephibosheth and started to run with him and Mephibosheth accidentally fell out of our arms, and that is where he got hurt and injured on both legs. He was crippled for the rest of his life.</p> <p>Think about how wicked Saul behaved towards David, but yet David was doing so well. David recognized that you couldn&#8217;t do well unless you do good.</p> <p>And so it began to just percolate in his heart and soul. And then he started asking the question, “Is there anyone here of Saul’s household that I can show kindness to?” Kindness begins in the heart.</p> <h3>Why show kindness?</h3> <p>We see that David had to acknowledge gratitude and thankfulness to God. God had been so kind to him. God had helped him to escape Saul’s clutches. God had helped him to defeat the Philistines, Moabites, Arameans and all of these treacherous foes of Israel.</p> <p>And God had given him peace so that the nation was happy with David&#8217;s leadership. David&#8217;s philosophy of leadership had to broach beyond just warfare and conquering. It had to move into this territory of, if you&#8217;re going to do well do good.</p> <p>Are you doing well? Then do good. When I read 2 Samuel 9:3 again, it says: The king asked, “Is anyone left in Saul&#8217;s family? I want to show God&#8217;s kindness to that person.” Ziba answered the king, “Jonathan has a son still living who&#8217;s crippled in both feet.”</p> <p>Kindness is a choice that you make to do something good, something positive for someone, without any thought of reciprocity or any thought of what you&#8217;ll get back. Kindness simply says there&#8217;s compassion in my heart for someone else—a stranger, a friend—and I want to do something that reflects my gratitude to God.</p> <p>And David asked the question: Is there anyone left of Saul&#8217;s family that I can show God&#8217;s kindness to? That&#8217;s a whole other dimension of kindness. It comes from a love based on a covenant relationship. What David was saying is this: I was in a covenant relationship with Jonathan. A covenant relationship is a deep bond where we connect, or we commit to do something or not to do something.</p> <p>What David was saying is this: Jonathan was so good to me during his lifetime. He helped me out a lot of messes, even with his own father. And so now that Jonathan&#8217;s dead, things are going well for me. Is there anyone still left in Saul&#8217;s family that I can show God&#8217;s kindness to?</p> <p>We should have the same mindset.</p> <p>And the covenant relationship is not necessarily an earthly friend, it&#8217;s our covenant relationship with Jesus. When I think about what Jesus has done for me, I have to learn to model and practice random acts of kindness more consistently. Why? Because that&#8217;s how Jesus wants us to live.</p> <p>Practicing kindness points to Jesus being Lord of your life.</p> <p>So, why show kindness? Kindness reflects gratitude to God. But there&#8217;s another benefit.</p> <h3>Kindness has excellent health benefits.</h3> <p>A lot of academic research points to all of the medicinal effects you&#8217;ll receive. When you practice kindness you increase your self-esteem, empathy and compassion. Kindness has been shown to decrease blood pressure and cortisol, which is a stress hormone which directly impacts stress levels. Maybe you&#8217;re so stressed out because you need to act more kindly towards others. Maybe you need to provide and perform more random acts of kindness to lower your blood pressure. You may say, well, that is ludicrous. But think about it. When someone acts kind to you, it almost makes you forget some of your troubles. It makes you forget some of the situations you&#8217;re going through.</p> <p>Kindness affects memory. It makes us both remember what people have done for us and it makes us forget some of the pain we&#8217;re going through. Kindness also enhances relationships with others by increasing your sense of connectivity with them, directly impacting loneliness.</p> <p>Kindness affects your mood level. Physiologically, research shows that kindness boosts serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters in the brain give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being. In other words, when you practice kindness, you feel better about yourself. You&#8217;ll feel better about life, and relationships will go better. Kindness does all of that.</p> <p>Here’s another reason to show kindness. Kindness is redemptive. It has redemptive power to it. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven.”</p> <p>Kindness points people to the living God. It&#8217;s the loving-kindness of God that leads a man to redemption or to repentance. Your kind act is redemptive in power. Maybe if you start to practice more random acts of kindness with your children, spouse, roommate and your neighbors, you&#8217;ll find that their hearts will open up. Not only to you but even to the gospel and the Lord.</p> <h3>Kindness is very powerful.</h3> <p>David had to come to the place in doing well and he wanted to do good and show kindness.</p> <p>Kindness notices others. It says, in essence, I see you and you matter to me. Kindness is what David was looking for. He asked, “Is there anyone still left of Saul’s household that I can show God&#8217;s kindness to?” And Ziba says, “Yes Jonathan had a son and he&#8217;s still alive and he&#8217;s crippled.” They say that because in that society, being physically challenged was looked down upon. It was something that created disrespect and dishonor, it&#8217;s almost as if you&#8217;re pushed to the side.</p> <p>Mephibosheth was not doing well financially. He didn&#8217;t live like a prince. He had none of the trappings that reflected that he was a former prince, that he&#8217;s someone from a royal family. In fact, Scripture says that he was living in Lo Debar which means a place of nothing. In fact, scholars say it was a ghetto town in Israel.</p> <p>So here&#8217;s Mephibosheth living in a ghetto community being put up in someone&#8217;s home, who feels sorry for him. And that&#8217;s how he&#8217;s living.</p> <p>He can&#8217;t fend for himself because he doesn&#8217;t have the physical abilities to be able to generate any significant source of income. So he&#8217;s this recipient of pity and mercy. And all of a sudden, one day as he is in the home of Makir, this chariot pulls up in front of their house. And suddenly a person comes out—decked to the nines—dressed as someone who works for the royal family. He comes to the door and announces why he is there. King David has sent me to summon Mephibosheth to the capital, to his palace in Jerusalem.</p> <p>Mephibosheth is shocked. What’s going on? Mephibosheth understands that when kings come into their place of the throne to reign, they kill off their predecessor&#8217;s relatives, particularly the male relatives.</p> <p>I&#8217;m sure Mephibosheth is afraid but he gets himself cleaned up, puts on his best clothes and he gets whisked away to the capital. He goes into the palace and David says, “Are you Mephibosheth?” And Mephibosheth responds, “I am. I&#8217;m your servant.”</p> <p>David said to him, “Don&#8217;t be afraid, because I will certainly extend kindness to you for the sake of Jonathan, your father. I will give back to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you&#8217;ll be a regular guest at my table.” Then Mephibosheth bowed and said, “Of what importance am I, your servant, that you show regard for a dead dog like me?”</p> <p>The last time Mephibosheth was in a palace was when he was 5 years old, and his grandfather’s palace paled in comparison to David’s palace. And David says, don’t be afraid, I want to show you kindness. It didn’t cost him anything to show God’s kindness to Mephibosheth, but he saw him.</p> <p>David said, on top of that, not only will I restore all the lands of your grandfather, I’m going to have Ziba work the farms. You’re going to have a livelihood and won’t have to depend on anyone else, any longer. You are going to look the part of a prince, and you are going to have the means of a prince. I want you to eat at my table every day here in Jerusalem. In other words, I want you to be one of the princes.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s a guy that was living on the scraps and pity of someone, and then David, the mighty king, the most powerful person on the planet at that time, extends kindness to Mephibosheth. I want you to see that showing kindness, most of the time, costs us nothing.</p> <h3>Kindness is about seeing people. Who do you see?</h3> <p>When you think about showing kindness to people, it starts with, I see you.</p> <p>What would happen if you started seeing people?</p> <p>And that’s where I now frame this question. Why Others’ Day? Why create this Others’ Day?</p> <p>Imagine the internal change that began with Mephibosheth that day when David extended kindness to him. David had created an Others’ Day when he said to Mephibosheth, look, you’re not a dead dog, you’re a living man. Discouragement is not your descriptor, encouragement shall be.</p> <p>I want you to recognize kind acts stem from a kind heart. Kindness changes lives. And when David extended kindness to Mephibosheth that day, what I will call Others’ Day, Mephibosheth’s life was transformed.</p> <p>Now let’s get down to brass tacks. I’d love for you to participate in what I’m calling Others’ Day. It’s a one-day focus where we’re displaying random acts of kindness for someone who’s not expecting it. It could be a person that’s in your family. It could be a friend. It could be a coworker. It could be a roommate. It could be a total stranger. It’s about a random act of kindness, but it stems from something deeper. It’s from the biblical passage of Hebrews 13:16 that says, “We will show mercy to the poor and not miss an opportunity to do acts of kindness for others, for these are the true sacrifices that delight God’s heart.”</p> <p>So, Others’ Day is when you select a day to perform random acts of kindness of all sizes. Are you ready to jump-start a cultural practice and a lifestyle behavior?</p> <p>Visit the Christ Church website to learn more and access free resources.</p> <p><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">CLICK AND GO HERE</span></a></p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mediator for the Marginalized, 4 The Front Porch urn:uuid:dd646ad5-1e30-c905-7e35-86221896287c Mon, 02 May 2022 06:36:00 -0500 <p>As we consider Jesus’s mediation for the marginalized, we see the Serving Sovereign, who “raises up the poor from the dust."</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Mediator for the Marginalized, 4</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p>Does absolute power corrupt absolutely? We’ve heard the saying time and time again. Even worse, we’ve seen so many examples of corrupted power we now take its truth for granted as a sort of social law. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Indeed, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes told us, “…there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9). He saw oppressions, with power on the side of the oppressors and the oppressed having no one to comfort them (Ecc. 4:1). It seems like this corruption infects all authority. However, the source and standard for all authority, Jesus Christ, gives us a different picture. As we consider Jesus’s mediation for the marginalized, we see the Serving Sovereign, who “raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap and makes them to sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor” (1 Sam. 2:8).</p> <p>As King, Jesus upholds the cause of the poor and organizes a beloved community of mutuality. In doing so, He mediates the reign of God, which brings shalom to all. The reign of God appears at the outset of biblical revelation. In Genesis 1-2, God is a King who rules reality by His word.  Under His rule, creation flourishes as a harmonious kingdom. He places mankind at the center of His creation, in Eden to exercise dominion as His vice-regents.  However, Adam’s sin vandalizes shalom, so that sin and death reign (Romans 5:17, 21). Satan becomes “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4), the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). Under sin, humanity walks in ruin and misery and practices violence (Ro. 3:10-18). What’s In a context where hostility and ruin characterize human society (Tit. 3:3), the poor and weak suffer the most (Ps. 12) because they don’t have the means to protect themselves.</p> <p>As King, God rescued His people from oppression in Egypt (Ex. 20:1, Ps. 114, 135:8-12) and created a beloved community. By “beloved community,” I mean a community of God’s beloved children (Dt. 7:7, 33:12, Eph. 5:1) where the focus of all relationships is love (Dt. 6:5, Lv. 19:18). This love manifests in mutuality, a conviction that everyone’s flourishing is interconnected and interdependent. Under God’s rule, Israel was so concerned with this sort of love that they were to build their houses with their neighbor’s safety in mind (Dt. 22:8). If they found an enemy’s stray animal, they were to return it (Ex. 23:4-5). They understood that the poor had a right to their possessions, in a sense (Lev. 19:9-10). As King, Yahweh formed a community that was to embody His concern for the poor (Ps. 12:5-6, 82:1-8, 146:5-10). After establishing a human monarchy in Israel, the Prophets and Writings hope for the ideal king who will defend the cause of the weak (Ps. 72, Pr. 31:8-10). Unfortunately, Israel’s authorities fall woefully short, instead devouring the poor (Jer. 23:1-4).</p> <p>Because of this, the prophets look forward to the king who will “faithfully bring forth justice” (Is. 42:1-4). The Branch of Jesse, the Son of David, will “decide with equity for the meek of the earth (Is. 11:4). Jesus arrives on the scene as the Son of David (Matt. 1:1, Luke 18:38) who redefines authority. Rather than “lording it over” those without power (Matt. 20:25, 1 Pet. 5:3), Jesus the King uses His authority to serve (Mk. 10:45, Php. 2:5-8). Such an authority alleviates the poor and weak from being left to the insufficiency of their own resources. The King of Kings stoops to serve and care for them, calling His people to do the same (Matt. 25). As King, Jesus makes war on the most tyrannical of all authorities oppressing the poor, namely sin, Satan, and death (Ro. 6:6-7, Col. 2:11-15, Heb. 2:14-15) and defeats them. He also judges unjust earthly authorities (Psalm 7:2-4, Psalms 58 and 82), symbolized as Babylon in Revelation.</p> <p>All of this happens as Jesus establishes the kingdom of God. Since Jesus is God, His kingship restores the dynamic reign of God over the world, thus re-establishing shalom. This reign, though not fully consummated, is realized in this age primarily in the church, the beloved community of mutuality Jesus establishes. In the church, “all are one in Christ” (Gal. 3:28), serving love is the ethic (Ph. 1:28, Gal. 5:6, 13-15, Ro. 13:8-10), and those in need receive impartial care (Eph. 4:28, Ja. 2:1-13, Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-37). This love so defines Christ’s kingdom that Paul calls churches to provide for the church in Jerusalem financially without qualification (2 Cor. 8-9, Rom. 15:22-29). Christ the King exalts the lowly (Lk. 1:51-53, cf. 1 Sam. 2:7-8) and brings shalom to poor and weak.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Mediator for the Marginalized, 4</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> Leaving a Legacy Gift David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:a0b26f69-47d6-fe29-e49c-c55c4a4c423d Sat, 30 Apr 2022 19:14:34 -0500 (Dive even deeper into leaving a legacy gift by watching this teaching, just scroll to the bottom and click play.) In today’s article, I’m teaching about leaving a legacy gift.... <p><span style="color: #000000;"><em>(Dive even deeper into leaving a legacy gift by watching this teaching, just scroll to the bottom and click play.)</em></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">In today’s article, I’m teaching about leaving a legacy gift. In the previous articles (<a href="">part one</a>, <a href="">part two</a>, <a href="">part three</a>), we’ve learned that generosity is at the gospel&#8217;s core. It is one of the values of God that He so esteems that He wants each of His children to be able to embody the trait of generosity.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">We ought to be generous with our love, kindness, and forgiveness of others, as well as our mercy—and undoubtedly generous in how we share our resources.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>God wants you to grow in generosity.</strong> Proverbs 11:24-25 says, “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.”</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">We can see from the text that generosity is not one-dimensional. God says when you practice generosity, there&#8217;s reciprocity with it. Generosity is a prophetic act; what you sow is what you reap.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">When we think of generosity, we cannot overlook the role of legacy. When you are generosity-minded or practice generosity personally, it says you are thinking about the generations that follow you. Legacy is about setting in motion gifts that will benefit those who follow you in terms of your descendants.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Legacy includes tangible gifts and intangible gifts. Tangible gifts would consist of buildings, lands, houses and property. The intangible gifts are character, godliness, valuing people and a love of diversity. Both must be passed on.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Keep in mind that when we focus on leaving a legacy gift, there are things we must have a sharp focus on. We must prepare the giver, we must prepare the gift and we must prepare the recipient.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children&#8217;s children.”</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">It is a discipleship matter to be able to leave a legacy gift. It doesn&#8217;t matter your net worth or how much or how little you have. The Bible says that God wants us to shape our values and behavior so that we can leave a gift for our children&#8217;s children.</span></p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;">Preparing the Giver</span></h3> <p><span style="color: #000000;">A wise person leaves gifts for their children&#8217;s children, and part of being wise or good means we are thinking of the next generation. We&#8217;re not just thinking for ourselves. We are thinking about the generations that follow us. That&#8217;s the heartbeat of generosity, and it&#8217;s how to tell a person&#8217;s character, their values and feelings towards people, and how they leave gifts behind.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Proverbs 21:5 helps us understand how we need to prepare ourselves as a giver; it says, “If you plan and work hard, you will have plenty; if you hurry to get rich, you will end up poor.” The Bible teaches us that a determined person can make money, but a disciplined person can save money. It&#8217;s not just about making money, it&#8217;s about saving money to have a legacy gift to pass on to your descendants.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Legacy makers learn to live below their means and practice wealth building. That means their focus is on the quality of life and not necessarily the quantity of life.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">That means you won&#8217;t know they’re a millionaire. They&#8217;re not driving their wealth. They&#8217;re not wearing jewelry. They are not flaunting their financial status. Only those who are practicing get-rich-quick schemes do that.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Another trait common among millionaires is that they pass it on. They raise financially independent children, which is a critical piece. As a parent, you have to realize that your job is to help shape and mold your children&#8217;s mindset, perspective and value of money so when they grow older, they&#8217;re not individuals that run wild and live rampantly and carelessly with financial management.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">If you are going to leave a legacy gift for your descendants, you have to prepare yourself.</span></p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;">Preparing the Gift</span></h3> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Proverbs 13:22, and this time from the Contemporary English Version, says, “If you obey God, you will have something to leave your grandchildren.”</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">It&#8217;s not just you, the giver, being prepared; the gift must go through preparation. To leave something for your grandchildren, you have to make something and not consume all you make.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">I have learned my money must obey me, which means you&#8217;re the ruler of your money. Never be one where your money rules you and dictates what you do. You determine how and when you&#8217;ll spend your money.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Preparing the gift is critical to being a legacy maker. My prayer is that you will become a legacy maker. So in a day to come, your children&#8217;s children will celebrate not only you and all the intangible assets you’ve passed on, but they will also celebrate the tangible assets that you&#8217;ve passed on. They&#8217;ll be thankful that you gave them a leg up and a head start.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Now, you may say, I don&#8217;t have any children. So what do I do?</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Well, there are lots of things you can do. If you have organizations you value, you can leave something to that organization or organizations. There may be specific social interests. There may not be family members, but individuals who can carry on the work you&#8217;ve established, or they may be able to do something good in the world.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Look for these social innovators, back them and invest in them because they may be sharp and witty and just need a leg up. You can invest in these insightful, innovative individuals, and the future will be impacted.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">It&#8217;s not about how much you have, it&#8217;s about how well you care for what you have.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">My prayer is that the Lord will do work deep down inside you so you&#8217;ll be able to say, I&#8217;m going to fulfill Proverbs 13:22. I will be that wise person who leaves a gift for my children&#8217;s children.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">A poverty mindset gravitates towards get-rich-quick schemes. That&#8217;s why you find people lining up to buy lottery tickets. And it&#8217;s incredible when you look closer at the data for people who have won a lottery. CNBC reported that lottery winners are more likely to declare bankruptcy within three to five years than the average American. In other words, people that get money quickly, often lose money soon because they don&#8217;t understand how to manage money.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Don&#8217;t fall into that trap. I challenge you today—let the Holy Spirit help you accumulate wealth little by little to fulfill Proverbs 13:22.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Imagine how your children will feel when you leave them a legacy gift. They will feel as if you&#8217;re handing the world to them. You&#8217;re giving them a head start and a leg up. You&#8217;re allowing them to stand on your shoulders so they can run their race faster than you and more proficiently because you have helped to resource them so they can be effective at what God has assigned for them to do in their generation.</span></p> <h3><span style="color: #000000;">Preparing the recipient</span></h3> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Our responsibility is to leave a legacy for our children. They must know how to manage and handle tangible and intangible assets. They must get the proper perspective.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">As much as you can, you must influence them and help them understand how to manage money. You must help them shape their values, so they understand how to care for people. That&#8217;s a critical piece of preparing the recipient.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Psalm 78:5 says, “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded to our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commandments.”</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">There&#8217;s a responsibility that God entrusts to you and me regarding our children and those that influence the younger generation. We have to teach them values so that it becomes their value too. Part of the issue of preparing the recipient to inherit this legacy gift is that they must be prepared to value money. By that, I mean, they must realize that money requires trustworthiness; money requires that you understand how to manage it, properly budget and live within your means, and prepare your descendants to handle it properly.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">There&#8217;s something about preparing the recipient to handle the legacy gift. Don&#8217;t just give a gift and walk away. No, you have a moral, ethical and theological responsibility for shaping the recipient and preparing the recipient so they can handle the gift that you pass to them, whether it&#8217;s tangible or intangible.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">So remember as legacy makers, we teach the recipient how to manage money. We invest in worthy causes. And we ask questions like: What is important to me? What is valuable to me? What causes will be part of my legacy?</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>What would happen if you considered leaving a legacy gift for your descendants?</strong></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;">Be a person who lives and is an example of Proverbs 13:22. Be someone that practices generosity and it&#8217;s evident in the legacy gift that you leave behind.</span></p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><span style="color: #000000;"> </span></p> Make the Move to Forgive David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:15271873-7ed1-1ecb-d269-a49e0c0e3359 Sun, 17 Apr 2022 06:13:27 -0500 (scroll to the bottom to view this teaching) Easter is the biggest day in the Christian calendar. It&#8217;s when we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. And... <p><em>(scroll to the bottom to view this teaching)</em></p> <p>Easter is the biggest day in the Christian calendar. It&#8217;s when we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. And when Christ resurrected from the grave, He gave us the right to access God&#8217;s great forgiveness.</p> <h3>Forgiveness is messy and complicated.</h3> <p>When someone hurts us, we hurt on a deep cellular level. Despite this, forgiveness is something we need to go forward in our progress as a people.</p> <p>Luke 7:36-50 says, “When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them.</p> <p>“When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she&#8217;s a sinner.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’</p> <p>‘Tell me, teacher,’ he said. ‘Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?’</p> <p>“Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.’ ‘You&#8217;ve judged correctly,’ Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water from my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’</p> <p>“Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’</p> <p>Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’ ”</p> <p>Here’s some context: “Pharisee” means separated ones. In this Jewish sect, these individuals lived in cloistered communities because they did not want to be defiled by people who did not believe what they believed or conducted themselves the way they did.</p> <p>Pharisees were legalists. They were concerned about bringing the strictest level of adherence to the Sabbath laws and they wanted to make sure their religious performances were just right.</p> <p>Now let’s jump back into the story. Jesus is there in this Pharisee&#8217;s home. He’s reclining at the table, and suddenly, this woman maneuvers her way into the house. She comes into the “male space” in the dining area where the men—Jesus, His disciples, the Pharisee, and his buddies—are sitting around reclining at the table.</p> <p>Then this woman comes in, making a commotion, and she starts weeping uncontrollably. As she&#8217;s pouring out her tears on Jesus&#8217; feet, the Pharisee poses a question because he knows the kind of woman she is.</p> <p>He asks:</p> <h3>Is Forgiveness Possible?</h3> <p>In other words, can a life that&#8217;s deeply stained be wiped clean? Can someone so damaged receive a second chance?</p> <p>Jesus is telling us through this story that the answer to that question is unequivocal—YES.</p> <p>Yes, you can be forgiven of all your sins.</p> <p>There are two characters in this story we must pay close attention to because both need forgiveness. First, we see the woman. Her life was stained by sin. Then there’s the pharisee. His life was filled with self-righteousness. They were polar opposites, but they both needed to be forgiven. He needed to be forgiven because of his obnoxious, prideful posture, thinking God had obviously forgiven him because he&#8217;s so good and pure.</p> <p>But Jesus was trying to help him understand he was just as guilty as that woman was.</p> <p>They were as different as night and day. One was a legalist. The other was lawless. One was dutiful, while the other was defiant.</p> <p>Most scholars agree this woman was a prostitute. She had lived a sinful life and her reputation in Bethany was that she was so entrenched in her sin that change seemed impossible. Why then did Jesus allow her to come close to Him, wipe His feet with her hair and pour tears on Him?</p> <p>Transformation.</p> <p>Something happened to this woman where she&#8217;d experienced forgiveness.</p> <h3>Let me ask you a question: Are you in need of forgiveness?</h3> <p>The Bible tells us five times in this passage that this sin issue is very damaging. This issue of sin almost ruins a person&#8217;s life. The Apostle Paul speaks to it years later and says the wages of sin is death. In other words, for anybody who sinned even one single simple sin, its cost is eternal death—separation from God and eternal damnation.</p> <p>But the beauty is this:</p> <p>Jesus Christ forgives sin. And He forgives sinners.</p> <p>Going back to the previous question, is forgiveness possible?</p> <p>Yes, but to experience it, I must ask you this critical question:</p> <h3>Are you sorry?</h3> <p>I&#8217;m not talking about surface-level sorry. I&#8217;m talking about a deep sorry—the repentant kind of sorry.</p> <p>Something happened to this woman and the culture of that day gives us some clues. When a wealthy person would host a dinner, they allowed the poor people in the community to go through the back door, into the kitchen area and take leftovers home. That was their part of a gesture of philanthropy. This woman, however, found out that Jesus was dining at Simon the Pharisee&#8217;s home, and she wanted to convey that something had happened to her on some earlier occasion, dealing with Jesus. She must have been at one of his crusades or in an audience when He was preaching.</p> <p>Now, put yourself in her shoes.</p> <p>This woman is sin-stained and has a bad reputation for living a disgraceful life in her community. She gets this alabaster bottle of perfume, gets into the house and sneaks her way through the different rooms. She finds Jesus dining with Simon the Pharisee, and all the other men around. Then she starts to pour the perfume on Jesus&#8217; feet.</p> <p>All eyes are on her.</p> <p>As she pours out this perfume as a symbol of love for Jesus, she does something Jewish women did not do in public. She pulls her hair out of the rolled-up coiled bun. More context: Jewish women never let their hair hang loose in public because it was an act of shame. Subsequently, her tears began to wet the feet of Jesus. She couldn&#8217;t ask for a cloth or a towel, so she used her hair to start to dry Jesus&#8217; feet.</p> <p>Because her tears had wet his feet, that tells me that something must have happened in this woman&#8217;s heart at a previous encounter with Jesus. Maybe she was in a crowd and heard Jesus preaching about this new life and how God can forgive you of sin when you come to accept Christ as savior. And then, perhaps she asked, “Can God forgive someone like me?”</p> <p>Her life starts to roll around in her mind. The years that she&#8217;s been morally bankrupt, the years that she wasted, and, somehow, she gets to the place where she says to herself:</p> <p>“I have nothing to lose. I&#8217;m deeply sorry for what I&#8217;ve done. I repent of my sins, which means I turn away from them and turn to God.”</p> <p>And that day everything changed. Everything shifted.</p> <p>Nothing was the same.</p> <p>I want you to know that you can be changed. God is in the business of saving lives. Jesus saved this woman. And so she wanted to come that day to the Pharisee&#8217;s home and deal with the issue of fear, embarrassment and the sense of shame.</p> <p>But she had to tell Jesus,</p> <p>“I&#8217;m sorry for how I&#8217;ve lived. Thank you for saving my life.”</p> <p>Are you sorry for your sins?</p> <p>One of the most challenging things I deal with is helping self-righteous people find salvation because they think they&#8217;re good enough. Let me ask you another question.</p> <p>Does self-righteousness bind you? You may wonder, “What do you mean bound by self-righteousness?”</p> <p>Do you compare yourself with others and let that become the basis of feeling that you&#8217;re safe and secure? If you do, congratulations, you&#8217;re self-righteous. I want you to see God saves self-righteous people just as He does those who are blatantly sinful.</p> <h3>Now it&#8217;s your move.</h3> <p>What are you going to do?</p> <p>As she&#8217;s returning home, the unnamed woman, this fragrance follows her. It wasn&#8217;t the alabaster scent that got on Jesus. The scent that was all over her was a scent of forgiveness.</p> <p>Jesus made her new.</p> <p>Jesus made her clean.</p> <p>Paul speaks to it in 2 Corinthians 2:15. He says, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.”</p> <p>If I got close to you and I took a whiff, would I smell new life? I&#8217;m not being silly, I assure you.</p> <p>Something happened to that woman that was real.</p> <p>She made a move, and that&#8217;s what I&#8217;m asking you to do.</p> <p>The move is simply this:</p> <p>Come to Jesus, admit your sin, and receive His pardon.</p> <p>It&#8217;s just two simple things.<br /> You come to Jesus and admit your sin.<br /> You receive his pardon.</p> <h3>What are you going to do?</h3> <p>It&#8217;s your move.</p> <p>Will you accept God&#8217;s pardon that He extends to you in the person of Jesus?</p> <p>Like this woman did and so many millions of people around the globe, they&#8217;ve accepted Christ as Savior.</p> <p>Will you make this move, or will you glibly say, “I&#8217;m good, I’ll pass on that”?</p> <p>If you don&#8217;t make the move, you&#8217;re saying—in essence—like Simon the Pharisee in his self-righteousness, “I’m good.”</p> <p>Jesus told him, to put it plainly, “No, you are not in a good place. You may be better off morally, but you are still not in a place of safety with God because the wages of sin is death.”</p> <p>But the gift from God is eternal life.</p> <p>I want to give you this awesome opportunity to make the move and say to God:</p> <p>“I&#8217;m sorry for how I&#8217;ve lived. I&#8217;m sorry for the way I&#8217;ve been, and I&#8217;m sorry for my choices. I want to get things right today, right now, right here.”</p> <p>May I pray with you about coming to Jesus, saying you&#8217;re sorry and receiving his forgiveness?</p> <p>Repeat after me these words:</p> <p>Heavenly Father, I&#8217;ve tried to live my life in the best possible way, but I&#8217;ve gotten it wrong so many times, and on so many levels.</p> <p>I need you to come into my heart.</p> <p>Lord Jesus, wash away my sins and change me. Help me serve you every day of my life, starting right now in Christ&#8217;s name.</p> <p>Amen.</p> <p>Welcome to God&#8217;s family!</p> <p>If you prayed that prayer, click <a href="">HERE</a> and let me know so I can help you take your next steps in this new life in Christ.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Leaving a Legacy David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:66e7fe60-b654-34af-8797-edbe06f7f83f Sat, 02 Apr 2022 04:38:53 -0500 (this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play) Have you taken the time to think about the legacy you want to leave? David, the... <p><em>(this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play)</em></p> <p>Have you taken the time to think about the legacy you want to leave?</p> <p>David, the Psalmist of Israel, reminds us of how our generosity is not only for us, but it has generational implications. Psalm 37:25-26 says, “I was young and now I&#8217;m old, yet I&#8217;ve never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.”</p> <p>Did you know that based on your lifestyle of generosity, you&#8217;re actually sewing into your children&#8217;s future? As you treat others with generous kindness, generous forgiveness, and generous mercy, your children will be the recipients of a legacy of generosity that you&#8217;ve left by your actions. Your generosity today has transgenerational implications for tomorrow.</p> <p>I love what Bible teacher and author Dr. Leonard Sweet said about legacy:</p> <p>“What you do is your history. What you set in motion is your legacy.”</p> <p>Legacy is something you consciously or unconsciously set into motion. In other words, it moves beyond your life. It moves beyond you being alive. Proverbs 13:22 calls us to think about legacy. Here&#8217;s what Solomon said, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children&#8217;s children, but a sinner&#8217;s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”</p> <p>What we see here in Scripture is we have to think about not only our lives and the lives of our children but also about the lives of our grandchildren. Even if you don&#8217;t have children or grandchildren, the Bible calls you and me to think, act and behave in a transgenerational way.</p> <p>God is saying to each of us: It’s biblical, it&#8217;s godly to leave a legacy. That’s the framework Proverbs 13:22 lays out for us.</p> <p>I want to pose a question to you as we unpack this idea of leaving a legacy. I’m here to give you tools.</p> <h3>What are you THINKING?</h3> <p>What idea are you mulling over in your mind that helps you intentionally develop a legacy?</p> <p>Let’s jump back into Proverbs 13:22 and look at it this time through the lens of the Contemporary English Version (CEV) of the Bible. It says, “If you obey God, you will have something to leave your grandchildren. If you don&#8217;t obey God, those who live right will get what you leave.”</p> <p>The ability to leave a legacy behind hinges on our obedience to God. God is saying that everybody—no matter how wealthy, no matter how poor—is called to leave a legacy behind. The key here in doing so is based upon your obedience.</p> <p>Allow me to share a personal story about legacy.</p> <p>I never had an opportunity to meet my maternal grandfather. He passed away before I was born. On the other side of the family tree, I’ve only met my paternal grandfather once.</p> <p>On his deathbed.</p> <p>When I was 12 years old, after migrating to America from Jamaica when I was 8, my father took us back to the homeland because his father was passing away. After having several strokes, my grandfather was lying on his bed paralyzed and couldn&#8217;t speak.</p> <p>I remember I was so timid…I had never seen someone dying before. It was so foreign to me and I remember walking into his bedroom. There was a nurse standing on the right side and I tried to stand as close to the door as possible.</p> <p>And I remember my father&#8217;s hand.</p> <p>It seemed so large to me at that time. He put it in the center of my back and pushed me in. I went further into the room, and as I stood there I didn&#8217;t feel I was losing something or someone because I never really knew him.</p> <p>Then, with his arm that still had mobility, my grandfather pointed to a dresser that held four Bibles on top of it—one for each of us Ireland kids (my three siblings and I). At the sight of this, the nurse went over and brought the Bibles to him. One by one, we went close to our grandfather, and he handed us a Bible.</p> <p>At that time, I wasn&#8217;t a believer in Jesus.</p> <p>Still, I opened up the Bible’s cover and read “To David, from grandfather.”</p> <p>When I returned home to New York I put the parting gift in one of my dresser drawers.</p> <p>I didn&#8217;t read it.</p> <p>I didn&#8217;t believe in God, and I had no conscious awareness of God until I came to Christ on July 6, 1982, at 10:00 PM; I was 20 years old at the time.</p> <p>So eight years later, when I went home from college and I went into that dresser, I found that Bible. All of a sudden it had meaning to me.</p> <p>This was the legacy that my grandfather left for me.</p> <p>There was no money, no houses, no land, but he left this legacy as if to say, “I can&#8217;t tell you verbally, but I can tell you to let the Bible be your guide to life.”</p> <p>Many people struggle with the idea that they don&#8217;t have anything to leave anybody. You may be thinking, What do I have to offer the coming generations?</p> <p>There are many common myths surrounding legacy that I want to help you shatter because it’s detrimental to let them grow, develop and have anchors in your heart. If they do, they will get in the way of you being able to leave a legacy for your heirs and your descendants.</p> <p><strong>Here&#8217;s a popular myth: You have to be rich to leave a legacy.</strong></p> <p>This is totally false. In fact, our society is so cynical and jaded, I once read on one bumper sticker “I&#8217;m spending my kids&#8217; inheritance” with a smiley face next to it.</p> <p><strong>Another common myth is that you have to be famous to leave a legacy.</strong> That&#8217;s also not true. You don&#8217;t have to be famous; you just have to be able to think about someone other than yourself.</p> <p><strong>A third misconception is you have to be perfect and squeaky clean to leave a legacy.</strong></p> <p>Actually, no. Do you remember Chuck Colson? He&#8217;s the infamous attorney who was complicit in helping President Richard Nixon commit the Watergate scandal that led to Nixon&#8217;s departure from office.</p> <p>Back in 1974, Chuck Colson was arrested for obstruction of justice and he had to serve seven months in prison. It was unique, though, because he came to know Christ as Savior months before his incarceration.</p> <p>His life was disrupted and transformed. And then he went to prison. There was a radical shift in Chuck Colson. While in prison, he grew as a disciple of Jesus, and when he came out, he became the founder of one of the most famous parachurch organizations—Prison Fellowship, and then Prison International Fellowship. Subsequently, he founded The Colson Center to help Christians have a Christ-centered worldview. In addition to all of those things, he&#8217;s written over 30 books.</p> <p>In other words, he was not perfect. He had a tarnished reputation, but God was still able to use him.</p> <p>You see? You don’t have to be perfect.</p> <p>Another myth is that you have to be proud. You know, someone who is self-centered and egotistical. That&#8217;s a lie. You don&#8217;t need to have that perspective. Legacy is not for proud people. Legacy is for generous people. Legacy has little to do with you and more to do with others who will follow you.</p> <p>Related to this, Maya Angelou once said, “If you&#8217;re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can&#8217;t be erased.”</p> <p>When you think about leaving a legacy, you can start with the question, “What are you thinking?”</p> <p>Then, you can move on to the question:</p> <h3>“What are you DOING?”</h3> <p>What are you doing about building a legacy? What are you doing about building something that others would want and cherish?</p> <p>Here’s what the Apostle Paul told his spiritual son Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, “You should teach people whom you can trust the things you and many others have heard me say. Then they will be able to teach others.” Paul helped Timothy understand legacy is not about tangible things alone—money, land and other physical resources—legacy includes intangible assets.</p> <p>Paul left an intangible asset with Timothy. He left Timothy with the truth of the gospel. He told Timothy, in essence, “Timothy, I&#8217;m entrusting this to you. I&#8217;m depositing this priceless commodity.”</p> <p>Timothy was to live in light of what Paul had worked hard to get a handle on. Paul passed along the revelation of who Jesus was and how Jesus wants to work in societies today.</p> <p>Legacy is something that you set in motion and pass down to make someone else&#8217;s life easier or to help them have a better starting point than what you had.</p> <p>Legacy is about intangible things so you can move further along than you&#8217;ve ever done without the assistance of others.</p> <p>In the early days of our church, Christ Church, I saw that I was deficient in many things as a pastor. Truth be told: In various areas of my own formation and development, I needed spiritual development and spiritual training. No one took me under their wings and said, “Let me train you and let me mentor you.” I didn&#8217;t have that.</p> <p>I remember in those early days, I cried out to God about how I needed a spiritual father. I needed someone to develop me. I needed someone to come alongside me, answer my tough questions and train me.</p> <p>And I remember after a couple of years of praying this prayer, the Holy Spirit spoke to me one day and everything changed. The Holy Spirit said, “David, stop asking for a father and be a father.”</p> <p>Everything shifted.</p> <p>What God downloaded into me in terms of traits, practices and disciplines of a spiritual father can now pass on to the sons and daughters under my sphere of influence. That is a legacy as well.</p> <p>Here’s another set of questions to consider: <strong>When it comes to legacy, what&#8217;s important to you?</strong></p> <p>What are the areas that you have mastered? Paul mastered the truth of the Gospel.</p> <p>What mysteries have you unlocked?</p> <p>Don&#8217;t make light of it. It&#8217;s not silly. It&#8217;s not a simplistic question. The question isn&#8217;t intended to insult you.</p> <p>Paul passed on an intangible asset to Timothy in the truth of the gospel. And I&#8217;m asking what&#8217;s important to you because when you discover what&#8217;s important to you, there’s another question you must answer.</p> <p><strong>Will you pass it on?</strong></p> <p>Will you pass on what’s important to you to the next generation?<br /> Will you pass it on to those whom you influence?<br /> Will you treasure that?</p> <p>And then you come to this final question. (Leaving a legacy sure does open up a spring of questions, doesn’t it?)</p> <h3>Lastly, what are you going to LEAVE?</h3> <p>We are all working on our legacies. Whether you&#8217;re consciously thinking about legacy or it’s an unconscious issue and not even on your mind, you&#8217;re still creating a legacy. Let me show you how you can not only create tangible assets, but how you can also create intangible assets for the legacy you leave behind.</p> <p>Let’s journey back to what Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:3, “You know that I&#8217;ve been called to serve the God of my fathers with a clean conscience. Night and day I pray constantly for you, building a memorial for you with my prayers. I know that you have wept for me, your spiritual father, and your tears are dear to me. I can&#8217;t wait to see you again! I&#8217;m filled with joy as I think of your strong faith that was passed down through your family line. It began with your grandmother Lois, who passed it on to your dear mother, Eunice. And it&#8217;s clear that you too are following in the footsteps of their godly example.”</p> <p>Bible scholars say it was by observation Paul was reminded of Timothy&#8217;s strong faith that he inherited. It was this immeasurable intangible asset handed down to him from his grandmother Lois to his mother Eunice, and now to him.</p> <p>Some things you can wrap your hands around.</p> <p>Other things wrap themselves around you—like this strong, abiding faith in God, passed down three generations.</p> <p>I’m sure there are times you&#8217;re facing trials or have gone through a whole bunch of stuff. But if you remain solely in the privacy of your bedroom, seeking God and never saying anything to anyone about your crisis and how God brought you through, you are missing the opportunity to pass along a legacy.</p> <p>If your family can’t connect the dots between a crisis in your life, prayer and then the provision of answers from God—I want you to see you may not be someone who is handing down this legacy of faith…like Lois did to Eunice, like Eunice did to Timothy.</p> <p>Think about how much further along you&#8217;d be today if your ancestors handed down to you a trust and a faith in God—a God consciousness.</p> <p>You would have had a better starting point. I know I would have.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t rob from your children and your grandchildren because of you not leaving them a legacy of faith.</p> <p>Paul shared with us as well by this example, it&#8217;s not just leaving a legacy of faith and telling family members what God has done and what God is doing. It&#8217;s also about making sure you can entrust it to them. It&#8217;s important they value, hold and cherish it. Spend time training your children to value money and understand it properly, so that when you leave them an inheritance—a tangible asset—they won’t squander it. You’ve worked hard for what you’ve acquired. You don’t want to see them lose it because they don’t have the same values towards tangible assets as you do.</p> <p>The heart of the matter is this:</p> <p>Generosity is not just about you. It&#8217;s about others.</p> <p>May I encourage you today to be a part of this <a href="">generosity journey</a>? Don’t let generosity be an episodic experience in your life, but let it be something that shapes you consistently.</p> <p>Do this so you can establish and leave a legacy of tangible assets and intangible assets.</p> <p>Do this so that tomorrow your heirs—those that follow after you—will be much further along when they start their race because of what you have done.</p> <p>Why?</p> <p>Because leaving a legacy and generosity is about loving.</p> <p>It’s about thinking about the future.</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Mediator for the Marginalized, Pt. 3 The Front Porch urn:uuid:0c61d6fa-bfe7-2356-4f8d-96ececd7fdbc Tue, 29 Mar 2022 05:48:25 -0500 <p>Does the gospel we preach declare dignity and deliverance while denouncing oppression for all people?</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Mediator for the Marginalized, Pt. 3</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p>There are some words that once carried force in their original context, but now they’re used so freely that they’ve lost their edge. It’s like a stench in a room, it nearly takes your breath away at first, but then you find yourself accustomed to it and barely notice it. The word “awful” strikes me that way. “Thy goodness to thy saints of old an awful thing appeared,” F. W. Faber once said. “Awful” conjures images of a splitting sea, sounds of rolling thunder and earthquakes. Now, when you say “That’s awful,” it doesn’t strike you that way, does it? Another word that has lost its sharpness? “Prophetic.” It still carries undertones of uncanny prescience or insight, but it doesn’t come with the weight of “thus saith the Lord.” Perhaps this is due to our general neglect of authoritative statements, but the fact stands. To be “prophetic” often just means “saying what my tribe says but others disagree with.” Not so with Jesus’s prophetic ministry. Every time Jesus speaks, it’s “thus saith the Lord.” How then, does His prophetic ministry benefit the needy? Before we answer that question, we need to consider the office of prophet more broadly.</p> <p>The prophetic office finds its paradigm in Moses, the man of God (Dt. 18:15-22, 34:10). If the primary role of the priest is mediation concerning <em>representation</em>, the role of the prophet is mediation concerning <em>revelation</em> (Heb. 1:1, 2 Pet. 1:19-21).  Through the prophets, Yahweh frames reality in light of who He is and in light of His covenant with His people. For our purposes here, <strong><em>the prophets’ ministry benefits the marginalized in that they declare the good news of dignity and deliverance while decrying oppression.</em></strong> These aspects are abundantly clear in the ministry of Moses, although they are not exclusive to him. Through Moses, Israel hears that all humanity is in God’s image, whether rich or poor, powerful or weak, male or female (Ge. 1:26-27, cf. Ge. 9:6, Ps. 8, Ja. 3:9). This dignifying declaration contrasted the Egyptian story of Israelite inferiority, like the rooster’s crow that breaks the morning stillness. One of the core values that Moses emphasizes is the equal treatment of the poor, widow, sojourner, and orphan (Ex. 22:21-24, Dt. 10:16-21). Because of this, the authorities are to show no partiality in judging (Dt. 1:17, 16:19) and those with resources should not seek to profit from the vulnerability of those in need (Dt. 23:17). On the contrary, those with resources ought to use them to seek the flourishing of those who lack them (Dt. 23:18-22).  As Israel descends into idolatry and drifts from embodying the heart of God revealed in His law, later prophets often function as covenant prosecutors, condemning Israel for her exploitation of the vulnerable (Is. 1:16-17, 5:8-10, 10:1-3, Jer. 7:5-14, Ez. 18:1-32, Am. 4:1-3, Mi. 2:1-13, etc.).</p> <p>The prophetic ministry for the marginalized is most clear in the Exodus and declaring Jubilee. In the Exodus, the prophet Moses confronts the oppressive tyrant Pharaoh and demands that he let Israel go (Ex. 5:1). In the Jubilee, Moses demonstrates God’s desire for there to be no permanent underclass in Israel.<a href="#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1">[1]</a> Every 50 years, there would be an opportunity for those who were poor to start over. Jubilee was a socioeconomic reset, a sort of civil exodus for those stuck in poverty. It makes sense, then, that subsequent prophets, in speaking of Israel’s deliverance from exile, speak in terms of exodus and Jubilee. This is abundantly clear in Isaiah 61, the passage Jesus takes up as the thematic overtone of His ministry in Luke 4.</p> <p>As the Prophet greater than Moses, the one who truly reveals God, (Jn. 1:1, 14-18., Heb. 1:1-2, Acts 3:17-26), Jesus declares the good news of freedom to those under Roman oppression (more on that in a bit) in Luke 4:16-30. Jesus confronts abusive authorities (Mk 11:15-19, 12:41-44, Matt. 23:23-24). He calls people to give to the poor (Matt. 19:16-22, 25:31-40 cf. Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-37, 2 Cor. 8:1-15, 9, 6-15, Gal. 2:10). Jesus also reveals the dignity of the poor by identifying with them (Lk. 9:58, Mt. 25:40, cf. Php. 2:5-10, Ja. 2:5-7) and rebuking those who degrade and exploit them (Mk. 11:15-19, Mk. 12:41-44). As Prophet, Jesus reveals the just God, who expresses solidarity with the poor against their exploiters and honors them as image-bearers and heirs in Him.</p> <p>Now, you might say, “If Jesus came to liberate those under Roman oppression, how come He didn’t overthrow the government? How else could He bring freedom?” Jesus declares freedom from Roman oppression in at least three ways: 1) Jesus declares that Rome is not the decisive authority in the lives of those who follow Him. To belong to Jesus means God has the ultimate and final say on one’s circumstances, not Rome or any other authority (see Heidelberg 1). This is why the Psalmist speaks of God’s justice overcoming the sinister intentions of those seeking to overwhelm him (Ps. 56, 11, 12, etc.). 2) As a global superpower, Rome is another kingdom that seeks to oppose the rule of God in the world (Dan. 2:31-45, 7:1-28). Therefore, Jesus, in declaring the arrival of God’s kingdom, is declaring the eventual, but real overthrow of Roman supremacy, like Babylon in Revelation. 3) Fear is the ultimate tool of oppression, though it is not the only one. The primary instigator and object of fear is death. Rome instigated fear through its various death sentences, especially crucifixion. In His death and resurrection, then, Jesus disarms Rome’s greatest weapon (I owe my thoughts to Howard Thurman and Esau McCaulley here). Jesus implies all these senses of freedom in Luke 4:16-30.</p> <p>The implications here are legion, and I will explore some in greater detail in another post. For now, we need to ask some questions: Does the gospel we preach declare dignity and deliverance while denouncing oppression for all people? Would those who don’t care for foreigners in our midst find their apathy accommodated? Does our discipleship see relational presence with the poor as Christian extra-credit? Can we discern the faces of Pharisaical and Roman oppression in our midst today? These are the sorts of questions we’ll have to answer if we will reveal and reflect the Prophet for the poor, Jesus Christ.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>Notes</strong></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref1" name="_ftn1">[1]</a> “…the land reverted to its original owner. This practice ensured that no citizen would remain poor or a slave forever.” <em>Year of Jubilee</em>, Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Mediator for the Marginalized, Pt. 3</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> TIU, Will, Jada and Chris The Front Porch urn:uuid:28cb9a8f-70d8-8421-3b11-b87176e1f54f Mon, 28 Mar 2022 12:44:53 -0500 <p>Black people, we do have to ask ourselves if this is us. It may be that the healthiest answer is all of this is us. And, this is all of us.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">TIU, Will, Jada and Chris</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p class="p1">Last night my wife and I caught up on last week’s episode of &#8220;This Is Us.&#8221; After watching and discussing the Kate and Toby marital breakdown, we flipped over the socials. The firs thing we saw was video of Chris Rock joking Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith slapping Christ on national TV during the most highly-anticipated awards show in America.</p> <p class="p1">So, last night was a lot! Like a lot of people, we spent the next hour trying to figure out what happened and how to feel. I still don’t know completely, but I have reactions.</p> <p class="p1">I hope this isn’t a “think piece,” because it seems evident most people don’t need or want one of those—whatever they are. But I do have thoughts, reactions really. “Thoughts” suggests too much. I’m still processing these things. In no particular order, here are some of these still-in-process reactions.</p> <ol> <li><strong>We don’t need to be cruel to be funny.</strong></li> </ol> <p class="p1">I’m tired of the cruelty of the world. It’s exhausting. Hurtful. Embarrassing. And it ain’t funny. Chris Rock took a cheap shot—whether or not he knew of Jada’s medical condition. He was taking an aspect of her appearance and making it the brunt of a joke—in front of the watching world! That’s cheap. That’s personal. That’s cruel. We all know that most women—in fact, most men, too—struggle with body image and the host of things connected with body image. So, any man that has even a passing familiarity with women knows we don’t joke them about their appearance unless we are being cruel. It’s wrong. We need to stop sanctioning cruelty by calling it “a joke.” It ain’t.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>2. Most of the time, we don’t need to be violent to be protective.</strong></p> <p class="p1">So, I ain’t mad at Will. That’s his wife. They are supposed to be one. Another man clowning his wife in from of a watching world calls for a response. Now, I put the line in a different place. You probably draw the line someplace different as well. But, hopefully, every husband has a line and crossing it requires a response. Should it have been a slap in that context? I don’t think so. There’s still such a thing as, “Meet me outside.” And there are more meaningful ways of protecting those we love than grand-standing fisticuffs. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Will had used the acceptance speech time to check Chris in a way that pointed out the cruelty, empathized with people with illnesses and disabilities, and honored his wife for something praiseworthy? He could have still found Christ and said, “Meet me outside.” But, in any case, most of the time we don’t need to become violent to be protective.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>3. We don’t have to be embarrassed about being “street.”<span class="Apple-converted-space"> </span></strong></p> <p class="p1">A lot of the reactions I say made jokes about West Philly, about being sent to live with your aunt and uncle, etc. I get the humor, but I wonder if we get the mild disdain that humor trade in. Most of it turns on a stereotypical notion of being “street,” which is to say uncouth, undignified, unable to engage people without tawdry acts. I suspect that folks dissing being “street” may have forgotten that being “street” has a lot to do with honor, respect, protecting space and family. There are places where “street” is less welcome, viewed as hostile, and rejected as subhuman. But we need to be careful that those places are getting away with dehumanizing, misrepresenting, and bigoted stereotyping. In the final analysis, a place like The Oscars is a cross-cultural setting. We know it. We admit every time we say #OscarsSoWhite or we can’t believe a certain film we didn’t even see won the award over a film we loved. In cross-cultural settings, clashes of values happen. Seems to me that happened on some level last night. What concerns me are the number of African Americans whose instinct was to criticize the scene as “street” and thereby express disdain not just for the violence but for the underlying codes and cultures of all the poor, inner-city “West Philadelphias” out there. I felt a lot of things last night—but embarrassment about something being “street” wasn’t one of them. If you did, it might be worth examining the roots of that embarrassment and where you learned it from.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>4. Black women are so rarely publicly protected and almost only against other Black people.</strong></p> <p class="p1">For a couple of seconds, it looked like things would be laughed off despite Jada’s obvious and justifiable reaction. She didn’t appreciate Chris Rock’s joke. The eye roll was murderous. I don’t know what happened between the time the camera catching Jada’s look and panning back to Chris.<span class="Apple-converted-space">  </span>Did will see her facial expression? Did she say something to Will? I don’t know. But the next thing we know Will strides down the aisle and throws the blow. What’s remarkable is he did at all. Normally, our women appear defender-less in situations of public slight and insult. On some level, I’m glad will stood up for Jada. But on another level, this seems to only happen when we square off against each other. Why is that? Why do we find it easier to knuckle up when the face in our crosshairs belongs to another Black person? Would Will have done this if it were a white, Asian, or Hispanic comedian telling the same joke? I don’t know. But I think our sisters and wives deserve our alliance and our public protection no matter who crosses them this way. Can we get more of this while remembering #2 above?</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>5. The narcissism needs to be identified and rejected.</strong></p> <p class="p1">When I first saw the video, I thought it was staged. It looked fake, from the swing itself to Rock’s reaction. And then there was the walk back to his seat followed by the acceptance speech. I may be too critical here. Please forgive me if I am. But it seemed to me there was a lot of Will in all of it. A speech about protecting women when you haven’t done that in some significant ways in your marriage. A speech about you, Will, and Richard, that merely mentions the women but doesn’t actually talk about the whys and ways they ought to be protected. It was Will’s stage and it felt to me he used it for Will. Yes, Satan does attack us during mountaintop moments. But was that comment thrown in there to bring more attention to Will, to justify his actions, to make him a victim of more than a bad joke but also Satanic attack? It all seems rather self-centered, the way narcissists and abusers find a way to make everything about them while the person abused (in this case, Jada) gets pushed to the side. We didn’t need an essentially self-valorizing speech. We needed comments that centered the mistreated.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>6. Maintaining personal dignity is hard.</strong></p> <p>Everyone involved last night&#8211;not just Will, Jada and Chris, but also every person in that room and viewing it on TV or online&#8211;had their dignity challenged last night. Jada had to decide how much to react to a personally insulting joke. She held herself together with a facial expression that let you know. Will had to decide whether and how to respond to someone very publicly dehumanizing his wife. Chris had to respond to being slapped in a very public and dehumanizing way. All of us have to decide how to talk about what we saw. It&#8217;s a test of both our understanding of human dignity and our understanding of how to preserve it. I don&#8217;t know how I would have responded were I in anyone else&#8217;s shoes. If I&#8217;m Jada, do I merely roll my eyes or do I say something? If I&#8217;m Will, do I cross the stage to deliver a blow or do I shout from my seat or do I comfort my wife or do I escort her out of the room in protest? I don&#8217;t know. If I&#8217;m Chris, do I swing back or just say, &#8220;Wow&#8221;? Do I apologize to Jada and Will and the audience? As a viewer, do I tell jokes about people&#8217;s pain, or bring up their personal indiscretions, or write think pieces (like this one?)? Dignity is an objective value subjectively negotiated with others. That negotiation gets really complicated really fast sometimes. Because sometimes when you &#8220;do the right thing&#8221; (say, refuse to retaliate), you don&#8217;t feel all that dignified. And sometimes when you fight for dignity (say, punch a guy who insults you), you actually prove undignified. The lines are fine but crossing them has significant consequence. So, maybe we should all recognize that, no matter what, we ought to extend dignity to one another. Perhaps that&#8217;s our first duty to God&#8217;s image bearers.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><strong>7. Community is important&#8211;but we have to sanction the right things and console the right people.</strong></p> <p>That&#8217;s my take-away from Denzel and others trying to comfort Will. I thought it was pretty great that some people found solace and counsel in the aftermath of that event. It was good of Diddy to try defusing the situation and pointing to a possible redemptive encounter later. Perhaps more people found the community&#8217;s support than we saw on TV. But I found myself wondering whether Jada had much support. Whether other women in the room who have suffered the same kinds of indignities (and worse) had people to turn to. I also found myself wondering if Will and Chris had anybody check them&#8211;not just side up with them. They were both wrong and they were both right in different ways. I&#8217;m hoping we&#8217;re not simply sanctioning one-sided responses instead of seeing whole persons and delivering to the whole person all that they should receive in appropriate balances and time. We can&#8217;t just say to Will, &#8220;That&#8217;s right; protect your wife.&#8221; We also have to say, &#8220;Bruh, you were out of pocket, owe a lot of people an apology, and there was a better way.&#8221; Isn&#8217;t that what we try to get children and teenagers to understand all the time? At the same time we can&#8217;t just say to Chris, &#8220;Man, it was amazing to see you keep your poise.&#8221; We have to also so, &#8220;While it was good that you didn&#8217;t respond, you should never have joned Jada that way to begin with. Maybe you should&#8217;ve gotten slapped, but you definitely owe her an apology. Make it right.&#8221; We most of all need to say to Jada, &#8220;That was wrong. We are sorry. We won&#8217;t tolerate that anymore. Here&#8217;s how we&#8217;re going to sanction Chris.&#8221; The community&#8217;s message can&#8217;t be one-dimensional; it has to be layered, proportional, and targeted.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>Anyway, Black people, we do have to ask ourselves if this is us. It may be that the healthiest answer is <em>all</em> of this is us. And, this is <em>all of us.</em> So, we shouldn&#8217;t over-attribute anything to blackness or shy away from expressing those things that might be labeled &#8216;street&#8217; by others but represent cultural codes and ways of beings to us. We understand all of this, even if it dismays us. We&#8217;ve probably experienced a lot of this, even if it&#8217;s no longer our daily reality. Keeping in touch with all of this is a way of keeping us.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">TIU, Will, Jada and Chris</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> Generosity Defined David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:42c5b99a-253c-86ef-0b2e-9a3a72c51ace Sat, 26 Mar 2022 05:35:26 -0500 (this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play) The word “generosity” can produce a sea of definitions. It all depends on who you ask.... <p><em>(this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play)</em></p> <p>The word “generosity” can produce a sea of definitions. It all depends on who you ask. In this article, let’s explore how God defines generosity and how to practice it from a Biblical perspective.</p> <p>One thing that’s clear in Scripture is that we serve a God that&#8217;s tremendous in His generosity.</p> <p>God is generous in His mercy.</p> <p>He&#8217;s generous in His love.</p> <p>He&#8217;s generous in His kindness.</p> <p>He’s generous in His grace towards you.</p> <p>He&#8217;s generous in His forgiveness.</p> <p>And He is immeasurably generous in the great salvation that Jesus established for us on the cross.</p> <p>I love what the Apostle John said in John 1:16. He said, “We all live off his generous abundance, gift after gift after gift.” God wants each of us to develop generosity. This is why the Scripture says that His abundant generosity is given to us gift after gift after gift.</p> <p>Don’t you want that?</p> <p>When we deal with the issue of generosity, there are some tough things we have to learn to be able to walk in this value that God wants us to enjoy.</p> <p>Socrates once said, “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” In other words, you need to define what it is you want to grow in. As a family of believers, we need to define generosity.</p> <h3>Generosity is a noun.</h3> <p>Remember back in elementary school when our teachers taught us how a noun is a person, place or thing? Add to that animals, ideas or qualities. Generosity is a quality or a way to be—it’s not simply about what you do, it&#8217;s about who you are.</p> <p>Paul, in 1 Timothy, was helping to shape young Timothy&#8217;s perspective in order for Timothy to shape the view of those he was teaching. In 1 Timothy 6:17-19 it says, “Command those who are rich in the things of this life not to be proud, but to place their hope, not in such an uncertain thing as riches, but in God, who generously gives us everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share with others. In this way they will store for themselves a treasure which will be a solid foundation for the future. And then they&#8217;ll be able to win the life which is true life.”</p> <p>Here Paul shaped the definition of generosity. He urged Timothy to first recognize the depth of this virtue and then command others to do the same. The apostle wanted Timothy to understand generosity is supposed to emanate from a deep place to make you someone who not only does generous things, but you—yourself—are a generous person.</p> <p>Paul qualified this by saying physical pleasure is not wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having a good, wholesome time. There’s nothing wrong with engaging in celebrations and enjoying life. In fact, enjoyment of life is a gift from God. The key is not to let pleasures and life&#8217;s natural physical enjoyments blind us from the actual perspective of how to live.</p> <p>Timothy was to command the rich to imitate God in how they value generosity and this command was not just to those who are materially well off, but to every person.</p> <p>Here’s the threefold command to all individuals:<br /> Be rich with good works<br /> Be generous financially<br /> Be ready to serve</p> <h3>When you define generosity, you’ll find it’s also a verb.</h3> <p>It&#8217;s a word used to describe an action or a state of being. When you think about it, generosity is a verb because God requires all of us not just to be generous in our hearts, but to also do generous things in our lives and through our lives. I invite you to recognize the value of not just being, but the value of doing.</p> <p>Every one of us must learn to access the pathway of generosity.</p> <p>What was the door that God used with His ancient people to be able to get them on the path to generosity?</p> <p>When you search through the Bible—before the Mosaic Law, during the Mosaic Law and into New Testament times of grace—we see a common access point.</p> <p>Do you know what that door is?</p> <p>Tithing.</p> <p>Malachi 3:6 says, “I, the LORD, never change. That is why you descendants of Jacob haven&#8217;t been destroyed yet. Since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my laws and have not followed them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return? Can a person cheat God?’ Yet, you&#8217;re cheating me! But you ask, ‘How are we cheating you?’ When you don&#8217;t bring a tenth of your income and other contributions. So a curse is on you because the whole nation is cheating me! Bring one-tenth of your income into the storehouse so there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the LORD of Armies. “See if I won&#8217;t open the windows of heaven for you and flood you with blessings.”</p> <p>I want you to put yourself in the position of the recipient of this letter of Malachi. It was a very personal one. I can imagine some of the individuals hearing the letter read to them in the assembly and possibly flinching a little.</p> <p>It&#8217;s like going to the doctor. When you go to the doctor, the doctor will push and prod and poke. If you say, “Oh man, that hurts!”, one or two things occurred. Either the doctor was insensitive and pushed you too hard, or the doctor says, “We have to do some more tests because it shouldn&#8217;t hurt when I touch you there.”</p> <p>Again, we’re unpacking generosity as a verb. Just like that doctor illustration, if I open up Malachi three, and you wince or make concerned facial expressions, it tells me one of two things. Either I&#8217;m being insensitive and I&#8217;ve pushed the text too hard or there&#8217;s something amiss inside of you.</p> <p>I&#8217;ve not even unpacked the text yet, so we can rule out that I&#8217;ve pushed too hard. It may be that something is not going on inside you the way it should.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t worry.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t be angry.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t be offended.</p> <p>Let&#8217;s just tend to it.</p> <p>Let&#8217;s allow the Heavenly Physician Jesus, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, to help bring healing to you in that area of your life.</p> <p>If you can&#8217;t even go through the doorway, then it means you&#8217;re hindering all of the blessings associated with generous living. You are not enjoying what it means to have the value of generosity like your Heavenly Father. So let&#8217;s go at it and dig out the poison so you can enjoy a prosperous, thriving, flourishing spiritual life—particularly in the area of practicing generosity.</p> <p>Generosity requires action. Tithing means giving one-tenth of all of your earnings to the work of the Lord through His local church. That&#8217;s the tithe. The Scripture says if you don&#8217;t give God one-tenth, you&#8217;re guilty of cheating God, but you&#8217;re also guilty of cheating yourself. God promises to open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings upon you.</p> <p>So tithing is a trigger that&#8217;ll release God&#8217;s provision to you on a greater level.</p> <p>But it&#8217;s not a cure-all. There is still the need for budgeting, money management, living within your means and making wise financial decisions. Tithing doesn&#8217;t ignore all those things. It simply says when you have put all those practices in place and you&#8217;re still putting those practices in place, you give God one-tenth of what you earn. That&#8217;s how God&#8217;s house thrives and flourishes.</p> <p>And that&#8217;s how we do ministry and keep ministry flowing and win people to Christ through the power of the tithe.</p> <p>Some translations say you&#8217;re guilty of robbing God, while other translations say you&#8217;re guilty of stealing from God. These are heavy words, and I don&#8217;t want to be guilty. Instead, I want you to be guilty of being a partner with God.</p> <p>Consider this: Give God&#8217;s house one hundred if you make a thousand dollars a week. That&#8217;s the starting point. That&#8217;s not even generosity yet. That&#8217;s just getting to the doorway to start a generous lifestyle.</p> <p>Yes, generosity is hard at times, But, if God calls us to be generous people through the doorway of tithing, God is going to come alongside and help us.</p> <p>God wants to give you as much as you can handle. He wants to provide you with a lifestyle of generosity and work within your heart, but He has to be able to trust you. Don’t wait to say, “I need to get my life together, and then I&#8217;ll start tithing.” It&#8217;s almost like dieting. You can&#8217;t say, “Let me get my life together, and then I’ll start dieting.” You have to start today. You can&#8217;t go and buy the cheesecake and then say, I&#8217;ll start after I eat the cheesecake. It’s the same with tithing. Just start today.</p> <p>We&#8217;ve already learned generosity as a noun and a verb.</p> <h3>Now I want to show you how generosity is also an adjective.</h3> <p>It&#8217;s a word that&#8217;s used to describe or modify a noun or modify a pronoun. In other words, it gives you another perspective of the noun.</p> <p>In order to better understand generosity as an adjective, I want to take you to a service where Jesus was present.</p> <p>Mark 12:41-44 says, “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two tiny copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly, I tell you this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’ ”</p> <p>This generous widow gave these two copper coins. Jesus’ focus locked in on this generous widow&#8217;s actions.</p> <p>Scholars agree that it was two coins, not all of what she had, but all of what she made that day. It was what she would live on for the day and she put everything in. The others contributed their large amounts, yet Jesus never zeroed in on their bountiful offerings. Instead, He gazed upon what the widow gave because the wealthy gave out of their abundance, but she gave out of her necessity—out of her lack. One demonstrated giving, the other demonstrated generous giving.</p> <p>My question to you is this: When people describe you, can they attach the word, the adjective of generosity to your name to describe you more accurately?</p> <p><strong>May I pray for you today?</strong></p> <p>Father, I thank you for each person reading this. I ask that the power of the Holy Spirit will effect change in our lives. I pray, God, that you do something above and beyond all that we can ask and all that we can imagine for them and others. May we build a more generous family of believers to shake the world for Jesus.</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> How To Become Generous David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:14c323d1-976c-91b5-26ba-0f6bf9896228 Sat, 19 Mar 2022 13:04:41 -0500 (this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play) For many people, when they find themselves in a new situation, the first question they ask... <p><em>(this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play)</em></p> <p>For many people, when they find themselves in a new situation, the first question they ask is “what’s in it for me?” Although it may be hard to admit, our first instinct can often be to look out for ourselves. May I challenge you to consider another way to be?</p> <p>How can we become more generous? This is the question that will be answered in this article.</p> <p>When you read the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—you&#8217;ll find there&#8217;s a recurring theme of generosity because we serve a God who is big-hearted. In fact, Martin Luther, the great German scholar, called John 3:16 the Bible or the gospel in a nutshell. In that verse alone, anyone can quickly see just how big-hearted God is. This cornerstone Scripture says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”</p> <p>You see we serve a generous God, and He wants His children to also exude generosity.</p> <h3>Why generosity?</h3> <p>For starters, there&#8217;s a whole host of benefits associated with being generous. Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” When we give, we see here blessings will surely find us.</p> <p>Proverbs 22:9 says, “Whoever is generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” Again, God tells us generous people will be blessed.</p> <p>Isaiah joins the conversation in verse 32:8 when he says, “But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.”</p> <p>So here we&#8217;re seeing generosity is not a haphazard or accidental action. It is a planned intentional strategic outflow of a heart filled with kindness.</p> <p>Here’s a foundational definition: Generosity means…<br /> The quality or fact of being plentiful or large<br /> The quality of being kind, understanding and not selfish<br /> The willingness to give money and other valuable things to others</p> <p>I want us to go on a journey together to try to understand the big-heartedness of God.</p> <p>What does it mean to go on a generosity journey?</p> <p>The first question that comes to mind is: Where does the journey begin?</p> <h3>Generosity begins in the heart.</h3> <p>Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”</p> <p>When I was born again, something happened to my heart. Apart from being forgiven of my sins, my worldview changed—not just about spiritual things, but about my stuff. I started thinking and listening to people. Sometimes I’d hear my friends say things like, “last night I was so hungry I had to wait for the cafeteria to open the following day because I didn&#8217;t have money to buy a burger.”</p> <p>And then something happened in my heart. I wanted to do something generous for that person.</p> <p>So I got an envelope (keep in mind I hardly had money myself), tucked in $10 with a little note saying, “someone was thinking of them,” and signed it anonymously. I went to the student union building with that sealed envelope, found their mailbox, stuck it in there, and to this day, they didn&#8217;t know who it came from. God had done something in my heart.</p> <p>Psalms 112:5 says, “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.” The psalmist admits that because of God&#8217;s grace, he had extra. He was not a hoarder, so he could lend freely because he was generous.</p> <p>The next question that comes to mind is:</p> <h3>When should I begin?</h3> <p>Your generosity journey should begin the moment you realize the benefits associated with being generous and how generosity is so much like your Heavenly Father.</p> <p>Then I ask myself, what do I find as the starting point to generosity? It was the topic of the tithe.</p> <p>Give God 10 percent of whatever you earn, a tithe. But that is not generosity. It was just a door—a gateway—an access point to get on the journey.</p> <p>Leviticus 27:30-32 says, “One-tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to Him as holy. If you want to buy back the Lord&#8217;s tenth of the grain or fruit, you must pay its value plus 20 percent. Count off every tenth animal from your herds and flocks and set them apart for the Lord as holy.”</p> <p>The writer tells us that the ancient people of God were primarily farmers and herdsmen. To get them on the road towards being generous—like Him—the Lord said to them to give Him one-tenth of whatever they produce. When you understand the culture of the text, it gets even more interesting. The Hebrew farmers and herdsmen would take a long wooden stick, wrap a piece of cloth on the tip, dip it in blood and then count the animals as they&#8217;re coming through the corral and make sure the 10th animal belongs to God.</p> <p>Tithing is an act of worship. It doesn&#8217;t reflect generosity; it just reflects that you&#8217;re beginning the road to generosity.</p> <p>Today not many people are farmers or herdsmen. You may be a consultant in leadership, a medical doctor, a teacher, an attorney or something else. No matter your profession, the Scripture treats each of us equally. Every dollar you make, God says, give me 10 percent of it.</p> <p>Quoting the great German theologian Martin Luther again, he said, “People go through three conversions. The conversion of their head, their heart, and their pocketbook. Unfortunately, not all at the same time.”</p> <p>I know some of you are Bible scholars, and you&#8217;ll say, “Come on man, tithing is an Old Testament practice. It&#8217;s not in the New Testament.” Well, you&#8217;re partially correct. Before the Mosaic Law, Abraham tithed in Genesis 14, therefore tithing predates the law. Then Leviticus 27 gives instruction on tithing, which is within the law.</p> <p>Now, look at Matthew 13:23-24, which predates the law. Jesus is speaking and says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”</p> <p>Furthermore, Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “I came to fulfill the law, not to abolish the law.”</p> <p>So we see in the New Testament that tithing to the Lord&#8217;s work is still the entrance to generosity.</p> <p>You must think and reason through it all the way. If tithing was abolished with the law and the law is no longer there, you have to think about the other elements of the law. The Scripture says in the law (the Mosaic Law), thou shall not murder. But based on the thinking that the law is outdated, you can now murder whoever you want whenever you want because we are under grace.</p> <p>Ridiculous, isn&#8217;t it?</p> <p>The New Testament is teaching us the doorway into the journey of generosity is still there.<br /> I want you to see generosity begins in the heart and you should start the moment you learn that there are benefits associated with it.</p> <p>So, finally, why take the journey of generosity?</p> <h3>Why should you become a generous person?</h3> <p>I believe you should take this journey because there are many benefits associated with generosity (e.g., how God will prosper you, how you will be able to help others, how you will be able to see God do amazing things because He&#8217;s big-hearted and kind).</p> <p>But here’s another central reason I want you to take the journey: In John 8:29, Jesus is speaking and He says, “The One who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”</p> <p>Jesus senses the abiding presence of God because He always does what pleases His Father.</p> <p>Get this: Jesus says “I take joy in pleasing God.”</p> <p>Behold what we should all aspire to do.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re going to serve Him, serve Him in alignment with sacred Scripture. Don&#8217;t cut corners and don&#8217;t take shortcuts. Do what Scripture says and your reward will be immeasurable. You&#8217;ll be the beneficiary of all of the promises of God.</p> <p>Why? Because you take joy in pleasing the Father.</p> <p>Today, decide to become the generous person God calls you to be.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Mediator for the Marginalized, Pt. 2 The Front Porch urn:uuid:87077ca4-35ee-5ac1-1517-c7fd7b62ac49 Fri, 11 Mar 2022 05:48:42 -0600 <p>Where society offers apathy and rejection, Jesus offers cleansing and welcoming love. As His church, Jesus calls us to embody this reality, to offer the cleansing welcome of the gospel.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Mediator for the Marginalized, Pt. 2</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p>I remember a particular homeless person my wife and I spent time with for several months. Let’s call him Lawrence. A few years ago, my wife met Lawrence at a gas station near the apartment complex where we stayed. My wife has a heart for homeless people, and on the Wednesday afternoon she met Lawrence, they talked so long she was late for Bible study that evening. When she arrived, she had Lawrence in tow. His clothes had a light brown tint to them, and Lawrence talked and walked with a sort of hesitation. But, we could tell he was glad to be amongst people. As we talked later that evening, Lawrence intimated, “I don’t know the last time I actually talked to someone. I mean, you know, like beyond asking for money or whatever. Nobody really talks to me.” Though he said this with quiet gratitude, Lawrence’s statement jarred me as if he’d just shouted. He’d just illumined one of the constant realities of marginalization: being an outcast, having an abiding sense of alienation from others.</p> <p>In this series, we’re considering the intersection between Reformed and Liberation theologies, specifically through Christ’s threefold office of prophet, priest, and king. Last time, we defined who “the marginalized” are, namely those who are: 1) particularly vulnerable to injustice, and 2) who lack the resources and influence to protect and promote their own flourishing because of their position in society. However, Lawrence’s statement above shows us being marginalized isn’t just about social power. It’s also about relationships, or, in Lawrence’s case the lack thereof. This was just as true in the days of the Old and New Testaments as it is today.</p> <p>So, the question is: How does Jesus and His salvation meet the outcast?</p> <p>My answer: In His priesthood, Jesus cleanses the outcast, making them fit for life with God and His people.</p> <p>In scripture, the poor and weak are not always so due to mere economic misfortune or financial irresponsibility. Often times, poverty occurred because of disease or a bodily defect. This is especially clear in the Gospels and Acts. There are beggars who are blind or lame (Mt. 15:30-31, Mk. 2:1-12, Jn. 9:1-12). Their physical limitation would make work difficult, if not impossible, such that they could not even benefit directly from the gleaning laws that protect the poor (Dt. 24:19-22). Disease and defects not only meant health problems and economic insufficiency, but also social and religious alienation. No person with a physical defect could come into the temple for worship (Lev. 21:16-21) because they were deemed unclean. The gospel writers also at times point out the social and economic circumstances of these unclean ones. The blind and lame are “beggars” (Lk. 18:35-43) and the woman with the issue of blood had spent all her money on ineffective doctors (Lk. 8:43). Certain diseases, especially leprosy, meant separation from the people outside the camp. Therefore, the uncleanness of disease and defects brought with it the potential for poverty, weakness, and alienation. Not only that, but riches carried with it the assumption of God’s blessing, implying poverty as a manifestation of God’s displeasure. So, even if there was not the uncleanness of disease or defect, poverty itself brought with it a sort of alienation, a social exile.</p> <p>In the law, cleansing uncleanness and satisfying God’s displeasure only came through sacrifices offered by the priest. The role of the priests was one of representation. They represented the people to God (Heb. 5:1) and represented God to the people. Through the prophets, Yahweh promises to cleanse His people (Eze. 36:24-25, Is. 53:5) and given the connection between cleansing and sacrifice, this implies the work of a priest. When Jesus came, such a priest arrived on the scene (Heb. 7:11-22, 10:11-18). Although the central focus of His priestly work was to offer Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin (Heb. 9:11-14), we also see His priestly work in His healing ministry. The first miracles in Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention uncleanness (Matt. 8:1-4, Mk. 1:40-45, Lk. 4:31-37), whether it is the uncleanness of demon possession or leprosy. Not only that, but Jesus heals the blind (Mk. 8:22-26, 10:46-52), lame (Jn. 5:1-17), paralyzed (Mk. 2:1-12), and a woman with menstrual dysfunction (Mk. 5:21-34). It seems the writers go out of the way to depict the cleansing power of Jesus because they point out that Jesus touches the unclean ones (Mk. 1:40-45, 5:21-34). This ought to have rendered Him unclean, but the efficacy of Jesus’s holiness as priest is so invincible and infectious it cleanses those He touches. These were penultimate cleansings, as he would accomplish the ultimate cleansing on the cross. When Jesus cleansed these vulnerable, unclean ones, they could now experience inclusion with God and His people.</p> <p>Not only that, healing removed the primary cause of their social and economic vulnerability, making it possible for them to flourish as God intended. In this way, Jesus’s priestly mediation delivers the downtrodden from the vulnerability and alienation caused by their uncleanness. Earlier, I mentioned a homeless friend, Lawrence. Not everyone is homeless. Not everyone experiences the severity of alienation from people Lawrence experienced. But people who are homeless serve as a fitting example of those who would receive the cleansing welcome of Jesus the Priest because we often treat them like outcasts. Many people in our societies don’t want them around at all, much less be willing to love them, hug them, and welcome them. As minorities in America, many of us know what it is like to experience a sort of “outcasting” on a more subtle level. But where society offers apathy and rejection, Jesus offers cleansing and welcoming love. As His church, Jesus calls us to embody this reality, to offer the cleansing welcome of the gospel and the experience of that cleansing welcome through intimate, relational love towards all society’s outcasts.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Mediator for the Marginalized, Pt. 2</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> Rivers of Living Water perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:8377269e-55fc-807b-073b-9ff0db02ba1e Thu, 10 Mar 2022 18:53:52 -0600 Jan Paron, PhD &#124; March 10, 2022 Themes of water occur throughout Scripture commonly associated with nourishment/refreshment (Ps 1:3); harvest/fruit &#8230;<p><a href="">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD | March 10, 2022</p> <p>Themes of water occur throughout Scripture commonly associated with nourishment/refreshment (Ps 1:3); harvest/fruit (Ps 65:1-9); restoration (Ez 36:25); and life (Gen 1:2; Ez 47:9). The Creation story sets the stage for the fuller meaning rivers of living water in John 7. Scripture first mentions water in Gn 1:2 as part of the narrative on day one. When God created the earth (Heb.&nbsp;<em>bārā&#8217;;&nbsp;</em>בָּרָא; meaning shaped something from nothing), the account described it as without form and void. The passage further noted darkness upon the face of the deep. Then, the Creator added light (Gn 1:4 KJV). Water needed light to bring it to life, just as the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ needs the gospel to shine into the heart of man that he might be saved (2 Cor 4:4-6).&nbsp;</p> <p>The Creation story further developed water in subsequent days. On the second day, God made by His word a firmament in the midst of the waters, thus, dividing them (Gn 1:6). Then, on day three, He gathered these waters in one place and let the dry land appear (1:9). He called the water Seas, and the dry land earth (v. 10), What did the waters do in the one land? The gathered waters made the land fruitful, yielding a diversity of vegetation. The water resulted in a life-giving body. That same living water fulfilled in Christ produces spiritual maturity with the infilling of His Spirit. Continuing the Garden of Eden storyline, Gn 2:10 describes a river that ran through it, parting into four heads that flowed outside the garden. The water produced fruitfulness resulting from the four heads known as rivers when spread across the earth. Consequently, the river’s productiveness extended elsewhere. Moreover, God wants the believer to expand its fruitfulness and reach the rest of the world for a bountiful harvest.&nbsp;</p> <p>Jesus in John 7:37-39 picks up the Creation theme of fruitfulness with rivers of living waters during the Feast of the Tabernacles, previewing it in the context of the forthcoming outpouring of His Spirit on Pentecost, thus, launching the New Covenant. Outsiders in the feast crowd, though, did not accept it through their disbelief. However, Jesus manifests the prophesied rivers of living water through His Spirit, bringing forth a new thing from the indwelling of His presence. In turn, He provides a life-giving force to those who thirst for Him. </p> <div class="wp-block-image"> <figure class=" aligncenter size-large is-resized"><a href=""><img loading="lazy" data-attachment-id="6106" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="960,540" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="ffb9450f-76a4-4f36-adca-3dd356648eba-1" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" src="" alt="" class="wp-image-6106" width="490" height="275" srcset=" 490w, 150w, 300w, 768w, 960w" sizes="(max-width: 490px) 100vw, 490px" /></a></figure></div> <p></p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center has-vivid-red-color has-text-color"><strong>Feast of the Tabernacles (Jn 7:37-39)</strong></h3> <p>On the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles (Heb:&nbsp;<em>Sukkot</em>) Jesus made the statement, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.&nbsp;<sup>38</sup>&nbsp;He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (Jn 7:37-38). Those who thirst for Him (or believe in Him) would receive rivers of living water, meaning the indwelling of His Spirit. The outpouring on Pentecost initiated receiving the Spirit of God to dwell in one’s life to those who believe and repent (Jn 7:37-39; Acts 2:38). His indwelling also requires humbling and surrendering our will to His purpose (Acts 4:35). Once filled, He takes up residence within, making the believer His tabernacle with the rivers of living water providing nourishment. His rivers continue to do a good work and&nbsp;will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). As with the feast, God wants His children to remember their dependency on Him and His provisions for them.</p> <p>John 7 took place in Jerusalem. Quite likely, men, women, and children were there and possibly Gentiles, too. Jews from all corners of the Roman Empire and beyond converged for the feast. Adult males had to travel to the feast as the Lord required and at a place, He chose (Ex 23:17; Dt 16:16). Women and children went to the feast voluntarily. Luke 2:41 cited Mary and Jesus as a young male accompanying Joseph for the Passover Feast Jerusalem on an annual basis.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Jews gave burnt offerings to the Lord to signify a&nbsp;total commitment or surrender to God. Numbers 29:13-38 laid out the compulsory remembrance sacrifices and free will offerings for each day of the feast. The eighth would be a holy convocation unto the Lord. This feast required more sacrifices than the others. Schorsch concluded that it connected to the generosity and thanksgiving from the earth’s bounty.<a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftn1"><sup>[1]</sup></a></p> <p>Water additionally played an important role here. Every morning during that joyful feast, a priest would take a golden vessel to the pool, fill it with water, and bring it back to the altar amid the shouts of the people. On the feast&#8217;s last day, the priests poured out water from golden vessels over the altar drawn from the Pool of Siloam. (The same place where Jesus healed the sight of a blind man.) Aside from the feast, the Jews used it for ritual cleansing and purification.<a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftn2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>&nbsp;Located southeast of the Temple Mount, it held importance as the only location for freshwater. Physically, it served as their river of living water. Niles explained&nbsp;as&nbsp;“the crowd chanted a special prayer from the Book of Psalms– that priest poured out the water on the west side of the altar, and another priest poured a drink offering of wine on the east side of the altar.”&nbsp;<a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftn3"><sup>[3]</sup></a>&nbsp;Much grandeur accompanied the ritual. Israel did not take the upcoming winter rains for granted since it supported a good harvest for the next year (Zec 14:16-17).&nbsp;Eisenstein explained the tradition according to R. &#8216;Ena confirming the water ritual may have illustrated Is 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”<a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftn4"><sup>[4]</sup></a></p> <p>During the final day of Sukkot, Jesus went to the temple in secret and began teaching. His doctrine caused a stir among the people. Later, He stood among them and made the statement about coming to Him for rivers of living water: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (Jn 7:37).&nbsp;Perhaps, Jesus made this declaration just as the priest poured out the water.&nbsp;The implication must have stunned those who heard His appeal. In essence, He proclaimed that Israel’s hope in a man-made ritual such as the water ceremony did not suffice for new life. His words&nbsp;foreshadowed Spirit baptism. What followed for many arose in Israel’s rejection of it.</p> <p>When Jesus revealed Himself as the well of salvation, He partially fulfilled prophecy in Is 12:3. In Him, the thirsty who seek Jesus as the Messiah would find&nbsp;water. Further, His statement also addressed Is 44:3&nbsp;“For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:” However, His time had not yet come. The outpouring of His Spirit would occur after His glorification.</p> <p>Based on the hostility Jesus faced from the Jewry, it comes with no surprise that His statement caused&nbsp;division among them. However, no man laid hands on Him at this time, nonetheless (7:44). Ultimately, though a false conclusion, the chief priests and Pharisees deduced with a prejudicial attitude that no prophet could come from Galilee. Thus, their disbelief presented a two-fold irony. First, their conclusion resulted in them&nbsp;erroneously rejecting Jesus as&nbsp;the anticipated fountain of living water (Jer 2:13a).&nbsp;Second, they instead focused their attention on the priests ceremoniously pouring the water (2:13b). They called the water poured at the feast Yeshua&nbsp;– the waters of salvation.<a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftn5"><sup>[5]</sup></a>&nbsp;The Law did&nbsp;not require a libation of water during the feast, rather Mosaic tradition incorporated it.<a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftn6"><sup>[6]</sup></a>&nbsp;One might compare the priest’s golden vessel from the feast to broken cisterns in the book of Jeremiah (2:13b). A man-made object cannot hold fresh, sustaining and restorative water from the Spirit. Thus, the rulers and Pharisees, too, forsake the fountain of living waters like their forefathers. On the other hand,&nbsp;the Samaritan woman at the well and many in her village recognized Jesus as the Christ.He previously explained to her that drinking of His water from His well&nbsp;would spring forth with everlasting life (John 4:14; Is 12:3).&nbsp;</p> <p>The Jewry’s hardened hearts additionally failed to recognize an eschatological promise standing before them: the Rivers of Living Water prophetically expresses that which would flow from the threshold of the temple in the Millennial Kingdom. The Lord would provide a Sukkot harvest nourished with the clean water from the river of God&nbsp;(Ez 36:25; Ps 65:9). He will make Israel the harvest.&nbsp;Israel would no longer live in a dry place but cleansed and restored anew with the Lord in Zion on the promised land. From creation after the Fall to the creation completed in Zion through Christ, they would thrive where a fountain would come forth from the house of the Lord in the Righteous King’s eternal kingdom (Jl 3:18; cf. Ez 47:1-12).</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center has-vivid-red-color has-text-color"><strong>Disbelief vs. Belief  </strong></h3> <p>As noted, not everyone accepted the river of living water Jesus cried out in Jn 7:37 during the Feast of the Tabernacles. What motivates disbelief? The central issue from 7:25-44 focused on Jesus as the Christ. The passage provides some insight into disbelief among the Ancients that may be applied to contemporary people. Three different groups of people doubted His identity as the Messiah: local Jerusalemites (7:25), Pharisees and chief priests (vv. 32, 47-48), and the crowd (vv. 20, 31). The people of Jerusalem doubted His worth and honor. They thought He came from Galilee (vv. 41, 52) and/or peasant parents in Nazareth (6:42). His origin did not match their expectations.<a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftn7"><sup>[7]</sup></a>&nbsp;In this case, the people judged by His appearance. They lacked knowledge of His Davidic lineage and Bethlehem birthplace foreshadowed in the Old Testament.<a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftn8"><sup>[8]</sup></a>&nbsp;On the other hand, the Pharisees and chief priests should have known of Jesus from their studies. Was it really prejudice over His origin? Alternatively, did they believe Jesus committed heresy with His statement “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me” (7:33, 36). Perhaps, Jesus posed a threat to their power. Last, the narrator presents a divided crowd. Some viewed Him as a prophet, others as the Christ (vv.40-41). Division breeds confusion and chaos.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Jesus affirms His identity culminating during the water pouring ceremony when He connected Himself with the origin of rivers of living water. In essence, He verified Himself as the fulfilled Messiah who brings salvation and eternal life. Different interrupters caused disbelief among those present whether discernment, prejudice, power, confusion, or chaos. These same things show themselves today. Natural man cannot receive the things of God (1 Cor 2:14a). However, an open heart can experience God.<strong></strong></p> <p>The metaphor of water indicates that Jesus quenches spiritual thirst (Jn 4:14; 7:38). That living water is God Himself in redemptive activity, Jesus’ Spirit in the union of God and Christ. Jesus made it available to all people upon the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Jn 7:39).</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center has-vivid-red-color has-text-color"><strong>Jesus is the Rivers of Living Water</strong></h3> <p>The Old Testament often symbolizes the Holy Spirit through water (Is 44:3; Ez 36:25-27; Jl 2:28). Jesus refers to the rivers of living water as the Spirit in John 7:39a: “But this spake he of the Spirit.” An ample supply of water would flow from His Spirit as the well of salvation (12:3). Jesus gave of His Spirit at His outpouring on the Day of Pentecost. Peter addressing the crowd at Pentecost, explained that the exalted Jesus “poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33c).&nbsp;Jesus made the rivers of living water available not just to Jews but also to Gentiles as Jewish Christians brought the Gospel with them wherever they settled.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Word of God tells how to access the rivers of living water. In Jn 7:37, two key verbs stated in the imperative form emerge in a subjunctive clause: come and drink. A general application of a subjunctive clause pertains to an action or event as something wanted or expected. However, it also indicates a reality conditioned upon future developments<a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftn9"><sup>[9]</sup></a>—the rivers of living water flow contingent upon belief (John 7:38). One must believe in Jesus’ saving power to receive it. The quenching of one’s thirst hinges upon the dual actions of coming and drinking. A person must trust Jesus as the provider of life through His restorative rivers of living water. However, faith precedes belief that Jesus is the Messiah resulting in His Spirit tabernacling within.&nbsp;Acts 2:38 expands belief with repentance (rejecting sins) and baptism in the name of Jesus. It requires a complete submission and surrender to Him (5:32)</p> <p>Rivers of living water also have an eschatological dimension. Jesus spoke from the throne in New Jerusalem announcing Himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. He sits on the throne as the fountain that flows from the house of the Lord, making all things new through His finished work in the New Heaven and New Earth (Is 66:22; Jer 2:13; Rv 21:5-6).&nbsp;He has wiped away every tear from their eyes. Death, mourning, crying, and pain have passed away (Rv 21:4).&nbsp;</p> <p>Prior to His glorified state, Jesus told the woman at the well that those who drink of His water will never thirst again, for it will spring up and gush into everlasting life (John 4:14). That same promise holds during His Millennial reign.&nbsp;The thirsty will gather at the Righteous King’s throne without hunger or thirst. The water flows from&nbsp;the house of the Lord as prophesied in Joel (3:18), for He who sits on the throne shepherded them to living fountains of waters.&nbsp;</p> <p>Jesus remains Yeshua, the Rivers of Living Water, the Waters of Salvation.&nbsp;The prophet Isaiah called Him a new thing (Is 43:18-19). Amid the festivities of the special water pouring rite, Jesus revealed Himself as the rivers of living water-the one making&nbsp;a way in the wilderness&nbsp;and<em>&nbsp;</em>rivers in the desert to give drink to His people (43:20). Will you accept His invitation today? He provides a simple offer: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Then, “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (7:37-37b).</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center has-vivid-red-color has-text-color"><strong>Bibliography</strong></h3> <p>Bernard, David.&nbsp;<em>New Birth</em>. Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press, 1984.</p> <p>Brickner, David.&nbsp;<em>Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles</em>. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2006.&nbsp;</p> <p>Eisenstein, Judah David. “Feast of Water-Drawing.”&nbsp;<em>Jewish Encyclopedia</em>. <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a><strong></strong></p> <p>Klett, Fred. “Sukkot: A Promise of Living Water.”&nbsp;<em>Jews for Jesus</em>. <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p> <p>Moloney, Francis.&nbsp;<em>The Gospel of John</em>. Collegeville: University Press, 1998.</p> <p>Neyrey, Jerome.&nbsp;<em>The Gospel of John</em>. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007</p> <p>Niles, Randall. “Jesus at the Pool of Siloam&#8211;Rivers of Living Wate<em>r</em>.”<em>&nbsp;Drive Thru History</em>. <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p> <p>Sapphire Throne Ministries. “Celebration of Water Pouring&#8211;Feast of Tabernacles.”&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p> <p>Schorsch, Ismar. “<em>The Seventy Bulls of Sukkot</em>.”&nbsp;<em>Jewish Theological Seminary</em>. <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p> <hr class="wp-block-separator" /> <p><a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftnref1"><sup>[1]</sup></a>&nbsp;Ismar Schorsch,&nbsp;<em>The Seventy Bulls of Sukkot</em>, <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p> <p><a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftnref2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>&nbsp;Randall Niles.&nbsp;<em>Jesus at the Pool of Siloam&#8211;Rivers of Living Wat</em><em>er</em>.&nbsp;Retrieved from&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p><a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftnref3"><sup>[3]</sup></a>&nbsp;Niles,&nbsp;<em>Jesus at the Pool of Siloam&#8211;Rivers of Living Water</em>.</p> <p><a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftnref4"><sup>[4]</sup></a>&nbsp;Judah David Eisenstein, Feast of Water-Drawing, Jewish Encyclopedia, <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p> <p><a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftnref5"><sup>[5]</sup></a>&nbsp;SapphireThroneMinistries, “Celebration of Water Pouring – Feast of Tabernacles,”</p> <figure class="wp-block-embed is-type-wp-embed is-provider-sapphirethroneministries wp-block-embed-sapphirethroneministries"><div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"> <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> </div></figure> <p><a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftnref6"><sup>[6]</sup></a>&nbsp;Judah David Eisenstein, “Feast of Water-Drawing,”&nbsp;<em>Jewish Encyclopedia</em>, <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p> <p><a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftnref7"><sup>[7]</sup></a>&nbsp;Jerome Neyrey,&nbsp;<em>The Gospel of John&nbsp;</em>(New York: Cambridge University Press: 2007), 145.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="//8229289A-EF0A-43DE-BA27-8D02F5967D1C#_ftnref8"><sup>[8]</sup></a>&nbsp;Jesus fulfilled the&nbsp;prophecies of the seed of David born in Bethlehem conceived of the Spirit and bor Deconstruction or Demolition? The Front Porch urn:uuid:ab3a61e5-1379-d05b-8ad4-fc33d5cfc668 Thu, 10 Mar 2022 10:37:25 -0600 <p>Remember: There's a significant difference between deconstruction and demolition. In demolition, we tear the entire edifice down, usually in one explosive moment. In deconstruction, as with our favorite shows on HGTV, we remove things with care and with an eye toward designing something better in the future.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Deconstruction or Demolition?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p>As a pastor, I have to maintain a healthy interest in the spiritual developments that effect people. Perhaps it&#8217;s a new book really encouraging or upsetting people in their faith. Or maybe it&#8217;s a Christian leader touting a new idea that impacts how people live. It can also be things like community violence, international war, and family dynamics. Anything really.</p> <p>That&#8217;s why I have watched with interest the current work happening with deconstruction. I&#8217;m no expert&#8211;<em>at all</em>. But a few things seem pretty obvious even to a novice like me. First, &#8220;deconstruction&#8221; means a lot of different things to different people. Second, various kinds of things can be &#8220;deconstructed,&#8221; from Christian beliefs to Christian behaviors to church practices to cultural barnacles. Third, &#8220;deconstruction&#8221; can reach really different end points, from a firmer, truer faith to outright rejection of the same. So, as a pastor, I&#8217;m really interested in what a specific person means when he or she says they are &#8220;deconstructing.&#8221; I&#8217;m interested to help them think well about what&#8217;s happening with them with the hopes that they might become more sound in faith.</p> <p>To that end, it seems to me (again, I&#8217;m no expert) that a few questions might be helpful in diagnosing what&#8217;s happening when we feel we are deconstructing in some sense. In no particular order, here are a few I hope might be helpful:</p> <p><strong>Is this deconstruction or “negative learning”? </strong>Deconstruction assumes you had a coherent belief or position. But sometimes people are “deconstructing” things they never actually learned or constructed. They’re gathering objections, critiques, and complaints from others without understanding what’s being critiqued or if the critiques are accurate. That’s why I call it “negative learning”&#8211;the person is amassing a series of often disparate negations to replace an ill-formed belief or practice. Particularly in a society flooded with hurts, allegations and abuses, polarization and bad faith polemics, we need to be careful that we are constructionists in the first instance and that our deconstruction isn&#8217;t mostly a matter of murmuring, complaining, gossiping, and being taken in by every wind or doctrine.</p> <p><strong>Are your beliefs ever really rooted in the Bible?</strong> A lot of people are discovering that what they thought was biblical was actually cultural or political. The ideas of men have been taught to them as if they were the conclusions of God. Those kinds of discoveries <em>ought</em> to result in a kind of deconstruction. We should constantly scrape off the barnacles of cultural and political accretion from the ship of faith. But it also ought to make us wonder whether or not we had been rooting our faith in the word of God. Before we can deconstruct anything in a healthy way, we must go back to the source in a positive way. Can we build our beliefs from the Bible up rather than from a theological system down? Can we construct a position on a doctrine or practice using only the Bible, or are we primarily driven by &#8220;pastor says&#8221;? If we cannot articulate our beliefs with only the Bible in front of us, finding book chapter and verse, then the first order of business is to actually learn the Bible. Forget about deconstruction until you do some construction.</p> <p><strong>What specifically am I deconstructing?</strong> Is it the whole of Christianity or some specific teaching? Am I rethinking foundational Christian teaching (i.e., the Trinity, hell, the resurrection, atonement, etc) or a secondary doctrine (i.e., baptism, gender roles, spiritual gifts, etc)? Answering this determines whether you’re flirting with apostasy or reforming according to the word of God. Apostasy threatens the soul; reforming strengthens it. So, it&#8217;s helpful to do some triage. It&#8217;s also helpful to watch out for any instance where a secondary issue (say, baptism) begins to bleed over into primary issues (say, salvation). Theological and doctrinal ideas often hang together. Changes in one place often effect changes in other places. This, in part, is how some people drift into greater error and unbelief. Keep the questions as specific as you can.</p> <p><strong>Where am I trying to go?</strong> This question can help eliminate spiritual wandering. In the name of “deconstructing,” some people experience a loss of purpose and direction. They don’t know where they’re headed or trying to go. As I watch the conversation, it seems to me a crisis of confidence often travels with deconstruction. Some boast about this; they see their deconstruction as a commitment to ambiguity, not knowing, taking a journey being guided mainly by questions or doubts. I don&#8217;t think such boasting is healthy. As G. K. Chesterton once observed, &#8220;The purpose of having an open mind, like an open mouth, is to close it onto something solid.&#8221; But others who are deconstructing have a more specific destination in mind. They can identify the particular issue(s) that need re-examination in light of scripture, history, practice, etc. I’d suggest specificity actually helps with knowing whether you’re making spiritual progress toward anything healthy or toward anything at all. Again, you don’t want to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine or taken captive by empty philosophy.</p> <p><strong>Are you being honest about your sin issues and temptations?</strong> It’s pretty easy to begin a deconstruction journey by assuming the rightness of our concerns. This is especially true with regard to our personal temptations and sin concerns. We may be facing temptations and sins for which we want approval, however, the Bible condemns it. So, in the name of “deconstruction,” we begin with a forbidden conclusion and work our way toward finding approval either outside the Bible or by twisting the Bible. That’s often times dishonest. It boasts in man’s wisdom rather than boasting in the knowledge of God. I am not here talking about a healthy acceptance of ourselves, including an honest admission of our sins and temptations, which is necessary to understand and fight them. I’m talking about an unhealthy self-deception, calling light darkness and darkness light. That kind of dishonesty might result in temporary relief or happiness, but it ends with eternal judgment. We must be relentlessly honest with ourselves and others about our sins and temptations so we are not deceived by them.</p> <p><strong>Is your deconstruction driven by hurt or disappointment?</strong> This is anecdotal, but it seems hurt or disappointment fuels a lot of deconstruction. it can be hurt suffered personally at the hands of church leaders. It can be disappointment with the failings of congregations or leaders. It can be a sense of betrayal when we disagree with others on a social or political issue important to us (especially given the hyper-polarization of the last decade). Pastorally, I think it&#8217;s important that we address our hurts and disappointments as constructively as possible before we turn to deconstruction as an answer. I know that many people find that their efforts at reconciliation and healing are thwarted or unfruitful. That compounds the hurt. But sometimes people give the impression they never sought to address offenses or misunderstandings. They left the hurtful relationship and decided to also leave some aspect of their faith and practice. Again, I think leaving a church or leader(s) is sometimes absolutely warranted. And leaving can be the first step in healing. I&#8217;m not cautioning against that. But we must be honest about the difference between when leaving is healing and when we&#8217;re leaving to avoid the hard work of reconciliation. Of course, I can&#8217;t answer that for anyone. But it seems important for everyone to ask themselves that question. In my anecdotal experience, most Christians try in heroic ways to achieve some reconciliation before deconstructing. So, if that&#8217;s <em>not</em> been your story, you might pause to ask why.</p> <p><strong>Are you in a rush?</strong> Sometimes it seems to me people are rushing toward conclusions at the speed of tweets. I wonder, <em>Why be hasty with your soul?</em> The work we do at sanctification, reforming our understanding, deconstructing or reconstructing is the most important work in the universe. We are working out our salvation with fear and trembling. So, we need to do it at a deliberate pace, discerning how God is at work in us to will and do His good pleasure. It&#8217;s unwise to rush spiritual formation. In fact, it&#8217;s pretty near impossible to do so. In many cases, people have believed something all their life and they learned it from the most trusted persons in their life (parents, pastors, teachers, etc). So, their beliefs and thoughts are often multi-layered, subtle in presence, foundational to more than just the practice or belief itself. Deconstruction can be a massive upheaval of an entire life. You shouldn&#8217;t do that unaided by trusted others and you shouldn&#8217;t do that as if it must be accomplished before it stops trending on social media. It may have taken you years or a lifetime to arrive at one understanding; give yourself years or even a lifetime to arrive at a better, more rooted, biblical new understanding. Don&#8217;t rush your soul&#8217;s development or your faith&#8217;s practice. Take your time. Jesus has you.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>These are questions, not answers. They&#8217;re offered in the spirit of helping travelers read some of the signs they may be passing. As a committed Christian and pastor, I would have everyone enter and remain in the faith. But as a long-time Christian and pastor, I know all too well that we Christians and leaders hurt one another. Some do it unintentionally and others intentionally. There are weak sheep in the pews and the pulpit, just as there are wolves in pews and the pulpit. The consequence is hurt, pain, confusion and oftentimes doubt. Deconstruction can be a healthy response to those realities if we are careful to slow down and ask the right questions. Remember: There&#8217;s a significant difference between deconstruction and demolition. In demolition, we tear the entire edifice down, usually in one explosive moment. In deconstruction, as with our favorite shows on HGTV, we remove things with care and with an eye toward designing something better in the future.</p> <p>I hope this helps even a little bit.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Deconstruction or Demolition?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> Urban Apologetics: Restoring Black Dignity with the Gospel The Front Porch urn:uuid:5d96ec77-fb25-9ece-60c0-1f30c8522c26 Mon, 07 Mar 2022 12:07:18 -0600 <p>The Front Porch Podcast · Urban Apologetics</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Urban Apologetics: Restoring Black Dignity with the Gospel</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src=";color=%23ff5500&#038;auto_play=false&#038;hide_related=false&#038;show_comments=true&#038;show_user=true&#038;show_reposts=false&#038;show_teaser=true"></iframe></p> <div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;"><a href="" title="The Front Porch Podcast" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener">The Front Porch Podcast</a> · <a href="" title="Urban Apologetics" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener">Urban Apologetics</a></div> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Urban Apologetics: Restoring Black Dignity with the Gospel</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> Learn to Stop Worrying David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:b335234a-e06d-0715-7fa8-4c623ee8d82a Mon, 07 Mar 2022 05:34:49 -0600 (this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play) One of the most extraordinary things we struggle with is the issue of worrying. What would... <p><em>(this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play)</em></p> <p>One of the most extraordinary things we struggle with is the issue of worrying.</p> <p>What would happen, though, if your mind was renewed? Would you find yourself worrying?</p> <p>Some people are in the habit of worrying about worrying. We have to break that habit to become the people that God&#8217;s calling us to be. Worrying is a significant problem today, as it was in Jesus&#8217; Day.</p> <p>Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-30, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”</p> <p>Jesus is saying that God is the God of the cosmos. He&#8217;s the creator of all creation, and He&#8217;s intimately concerned about every aspect of creation. Jesus talked about people, animals, flora, and plants. He&#8217;s saying that I want you to see this golden thread that works through all of God&#8217;s creation.</p> <p>But yet, when it comes to humanity, we struggle with it.</p> <p>Animals don&#8217;t worry. Plants don&#8217;t worry. But why do you worry?</p> <p>Jesus is helping us understand how to stop worrying. He says worrying is pointless and unproductive. He&#8217;s not saying we should be cavalier or foolish, and that nothing is important. He&#8217;s simply saying, don&#8217;t let your mind become fixated on this negative aspect or some problem that you find yourself sulking, brooding, contemplating over it in a fixated way that affects every part of who you are.</p> <p>Jesus is saying, learn to stop worrying. You may say, “How do I do that?”</p> <h3>SPEAK to your worries.</h3> <p>Between Matthew 25:30 and Matthew 25:34, Jesus says not to worry three times. One time He asks, “Why do you worry?” In essence, Jesus said, “Don’t worry.” He&#8217;s teaching us worrying is unnecessary.</p> <p>Jesus frames it by contrasting birds with human beings. Humans are more valuable than birds, and He says, “Birds don&#8217;t worry.” Why? Because our Heavenly Father provides for the birds. They don&#8217;t sow. They don&#8217;t reap, don&#8217;t toil and don&#8217;t store in barns, but our Father provides for them.</p> <p>What should you say to your worries? God highly values me. He will provide for me. That&#8217;s what Jesus wants us to understand. We speak to our worries.</p> <p>Now, I want you to understand the historical foundation of the word worry. It comes from the old English, and it means to slay, kill or injure by biting or shaking a throat as a dog or a wolf does. It means to strangle.</p> <p>So any time you worry, any time you find yourself fixated on something, and you&#8217;re worrying all the time, it is creating a stranglehold around your neck. It is almost like a wolf biting your throat to suffocate you. Worrying is very harmful and can have a stranglehold on your life.</p> <p>Proverbs 12:25 says, “Worry is a heavy burden, but a kind word always brings cheer.”</p> <p>Worry is a harmful heavy burden, and Solomon is telling us, in essence, worry is a stranglehold. It&#8217;s this burden that will weigh you down constantly. Research shows that worry triggers stress hormones in your body. It speeds up your heart rate. It speeds up your breathing. It raises your blood sugar level. It causes more blood to flow to your arms and legs as excessive worrying affects your appetite and leads to migraine or tension headaches. Worrying makes you anxiety-ridden. And often, people that worry have destructive outlets. They try to bring relief from worry through drugs, alcohol, sleeping around, overeating or smoking.</p> <p>Worry is a stranglehold on your life.</p> <p>I want you to see the other actions that Jesus gives us to learn to stop worrying.</p> <h3>STARVE your worries.</h3> <p>If you don&#8217;t starve your worries, they will grow as a burden that gets out of control, that will ultimately strangle you or suffocate you.</p> <p>Jesus says in Luke 12:25-26, “Can worry make you live longer? If you don&#8217;t have power over small things, why worry about everything else?”</p> <p>Sociologists that study the topic of worry say most people that have excessive worrying have two to three items that they&#8217;re locked in on mentally and are constantly worrying about those items. This excessive worrying creates a fixation on a topic, and then worrying causes you to exaggerate the possible negative consequence surrounding that topic. Worrying, then, is the seed of fear. It works in your mind and starts to mushroom, grow and exaggerate possibilities and problems, and it morphs and it gets out of control.</p> <p>Then you find yourself getting to a place where you&#8217;re consumed by it. That&#8217;s when the stranglehold takes place.</p> <p>Why worry? Jesus is saying, “You&#8217;re heavenly Father is your provider.”</p> <p>He&#8217;s distilling the problem of worrying down to this. You just don&#8217;t trust God. You&#8217;re gripped by fear. You&#8217;re questioning the power of God. You&#8217;re questioning God&#8217;s assertion that your heavenly Father will provide for you as He provides for the birds as He provides clothes for the flowers.</p> <p>Why are you questioning God&#8217;s power? You might be powerless, but we serve a God that is powerful. He&#8217;s all-powerful. He&#8217;s omnipotent, and so worry is a lack of fear. Worry is a lack of faith. Worry is fear. Worry is spiritual blindness. You don&#8217;t see God correctly. You don&#8217;t see God accurately when you worry, and you have a distorted view of God.</p> <p>You starve your worry by having an accurate perspective of God.<br /> You have to feed your faith, and fear will starve to death.</p> <p>If you want to stop worrying, you have to starve your worries and feed your faith.</p> <p>How do you feed faith? You read God&#8217;s word.<br /> How do you feed faith? You give yourself to prayer.<br /> How do you feed faith? You lock in on one of the promises of God. The promise of God is that God is a provider.</p> <p>This is not something new. Jesus taught us to ask, and it&#8217;ll be given. Seek, and you&#8217;ll find. Knock, and it will be opened to you. Jesus wasn&#8217;t the only one. Job testified God provides for the raven when its young ones cry to God for help and wonder about the lack of food. David sang, the Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing. Solomon wrote, the Lord does not let the righteous go hungry. Isaiah said, You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts You.</p> <p>I want you to see the common thread throughout the Bible. It&#8217;s clear that you starve your worries when you feed your faith, and you feed your faith by realizing God is who He says He is. He is a provider.</p> <p>Faith is not an atmosphere where worries can thrive. Worry only thrives in an atmosphere of fear. God&#8217;s provision takes place in an atmosphere of faith. You need to bring your problems before God and say, “I trust You that You are my Father and You are my provider, and You can provide for me.”</p> <p>Take your concern before God and realize that not only can you speak to your worries, you can also starve your worries. And when you recognize that and start to do those things, you&#8217;re learning to stop worrying.</p> <h3>GIVE your worries to God.</h3> <p>Jesus says in Matthew 6:33-34, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”</p> <p>How do we give our worries to God?</p> <p>One is by changing our priorities. We can become so consumed with ourselves. It&#8217;s about me. It&#8217;s about my wife. It&#8217;s about my kids. It&#8217;s about our needs. It&#8217;s about grandkids. It&#8217;s about my job. It&#8217;s about my money. It&#8217;s about my body. We have to stop and say, at what point is the kingdom of God my priority?</p> <p>We find ourselves experiencing excessive worrying when we become so consumed with ourselves.</p> <p>When was the last time you asked God what&#8217;s your plan for my life? God, what&#8217;s your plan for my marriage? God, what&#8217;s your plan for my singleness. God, what&#8217;s your plan for my children? God, what&#8217;s your plan for my career? In other words, when you become focused on advancing God&#8217;s kingdom, you will not have the same level of focus on your problems. God&#8217;s priorities will become your priorities, and you&#8217;ll find yourself changing priorities and giving your cares to God.</p> <p>You can&#8217;t predict tomorrow; you have no idea what will happen tomorrow. But I want you to be mindful of this. God still has our tomorrow in his hands. Stop worrying about tomorrow. Stop worrying about the future. We can&#8217;t change the future, but we do know that Jeremiah was right when he said, “I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”</p> <p>God has your future and your children&#8217;s future in his hands. Stop worrying. Give your cares to God.</p> <p>In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul says, “Don&#8217;t worry about anything but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” Paul is saying the way you give your cares and worries to God is by praying.</p> <p>Dr. Kenneth Weiss, the New Testament Greek scholar, says Philippians 4:6 can be translated this way, “I&#8217;m writing in haste to prevent your being anxious for I will see that you&#8217;re not worried.” He says the force of the word “worry” in the Greek was Paul saying, I&#8217;m forbidding you to continue worrying. In other words, Paul says, you&#8217;ve been worrying, now stop it.</p> <p>A worrier cannot be an intercessor. You cannot be a man or woman of prayer and be a worrier. When you give God your predicament and give Him your cares in prayer, you must stop worrying.</p> <p>In 1 Peter 5:7 it says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”</p> <p>The word “give” means deposit it once and for all. Bury it with God; give it to Him and don&#8217;t pick it back up. It&#8217;s not yours any longer because you&#8217;ve given it to Him. It&#8217;s like when you take the garbage out. You put it in the garbage container and put it at the top of the driveway. And when the sanitation company comes and takes it away, you don’t run after the truck and say, come on, give me back my garbage.</p> <p>Give it to God once and for all.<br /> Give your cares to God.</p> <p>And when you do, He will carry it. Nothing is too heavy for the Lord. Nothing is beyond His ability.</p> <p>As we look toward a renewed mind, we are learning how to stop worrying.</p> <p>Speak to your worries, starve your worries and give God your worries.</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Mediator for the Marginalized (Part 1) The Front Porch urn:uuid:a981f601-405f-2a37-f48d-4c49a762c107 Thu, 03 Mar 2022 09:10:24 -0600 <p>Reformed and Liberation theology can sometimes seem like theological oil and water, incompatible and unmixable. But might there be a way to reconcile them?</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Mediator for the Marginalized (Part 1)</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p>In an essay titled “Centered Versus Bounded,” Paul Louis Metzger speaks of internal conflict amongst liberation communities: “Divisions easily result…because they emphasize what differentiates them to the detriment of what unites them.” Although Metzger is speaking about communities sharing a devotion to liberation theology, the same must be said regarding the Reformed and Liberation communities, which share a devotion to Jesus Christ.</p> <p>Reformed and Liberation theology can sometimes seem like theological oil and water, incompatible and unmixable. However, Metzger’s solution to the intra-Liberation squabbles is the same for the perceived tension between Reformed and Liberation theology, namely to focus on the center, on Jesus and the Gospel. This series of articles is an attempt to do just that, to regard a classic Reformed understanding of the person and work of Jesus (specifically His threefold office) from the Liberationist perspective of God’s devotion to the poor. I want to demonstrate that scripture presents Jesus as the Mediator for the marginalized in His threefold office in the following ways: 1) In cleansing the outcast as priest, thus making them fit for life with God and His people, 2) in declaring good news and condemning oppression as prophet, and 3) in upholding the cause of the poor and organizing a beloved community as King. However, in this piece, I want to begin by clarifying what I am <strong><em>not</em></strong> saying or trying to prove.</p> <p>I am <em>not</em> claiming that Jesus’s delivering the downtrodden is the sole or central focus of His mission. Paul tells us, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). Paul only echoes what the angel told Mary, that the baby to be named Jesus would “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Here, scripture is clear. Instead, I am seeking to demonstrate that the saving work of Jesus delivers the poor in specific ways that meet them in their circumstances.</p> <p>I am also <em>not</em> claiming that the socioeconomically poor are the only or primary beneficiaries of the work of Christ (although Luke 6:20-22 would like to have a word). I am saying that the benefits of Christ’s work land on the poor in a unique way. This is an attempt at a theological contextualization of a Reformed theological category on behalf of the poor. In speaking of the poor, I do not refer to them in an unqualified sense, as though merely being poor makes someone a beneficiary of Christ’s work. Rather, I am considering who Christ is for the poor person who would come to Him, and how His mediation meets them in their marginalization.</p> <p>In order to see Jesus’s mediation for the marginalized, we must first clarify who the “marginalized” are. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the verb “marginalize” as, “To render or treat as marginal; to remove from the center or mainstream; to force (an individual, minority group, etc.) to the periphery of a dominant social group; (gen.) to belittle, depreciate, discount, or dismiss.” The Old Testament spotlights, the poor, the widow, the sojourner, and the orphan as those who are especially vulnerable to marginalization (Ex. 22:21-27, Dt. 24:14-15, 19-22, Zec. 7:9-10). “The widows, the orphans, the resident aliens, and the impoverished were the bottom ones…the lowly…Given their position at the bottom of the social hierarchy, they were especially vulnerable to being treated with injustice,” says Nicholas Wolterstorff. This “quartet of the vulnerable” lacked the resources and influence to adequately protect themselves and promote their own flourishing. Though they may have had the personal agency to pursue their own flourishing, they lacked the social and civil power to secure it. For this reason, scripture also speaks of the vulnerable as the “weak” or “needy” (Ps. 82, 12:5).</p> <p>Ruth is a clear example of one who is poor in Scripture and receives God’s salvation. She is both a widow and a sojourner and therefore vulnerable to exploitation. It is good that Boaz is a righteous man (Ru. 2:1), because if he had not been, he could have treated Ruth cruelly or exploited her sexually. For all her love and ingenuity, Ruth’s (and Naomi’s) flourishing depended on Boaz. That dependence is the essence of being marginalized, poor, and weak. In speaking of the “marginalized,” then, scripture refers to those who are socioeconomically poor and weak. Therefore, when Scripture describes the Messiah’s work in ways that benefit the vulnerable, it is not speaking merely in spiritual, non-earthly terms. It is, in part, using financial poverty and social weakness as a picture of man’s spiritual impotence in sin, but that does not exhaust Scripture’s use of those terms, as seen in the Old Testament theme of redemption.</p> <p>The central story of Israel is the Exodus. There, God takes a people, His people, who are slaves in Egypt, and redeems them to live in covenant with Him. The Exodus is so central to Israel’s understanding of God that the prophets speak of their redemption from exile in terms of a new Exodus (Is. 11:15-16). In both cases, whether exodus from Egypt or from exile, God’s word of salvation comes to those who are socially vulnerable and oppressed. Even though Israel returns to the Promised Land, they are still in exile. The exile follows them back home. As a people, they know the fear of being vulnerable to Roman oppression (see Howard Thurman’s chapter on Fear in Jesus and the Disinherited). So, when God the Son incarnates to save His people, He inserts Himself and accomplishes His redemption in the context of political and economic marginalization. The stories of Ruth and Israel demonstrate that redemption not only carries an undertone of deliverance from poverty and weakness, but is often made manifest in those very social conditions in Scripture.</p> <p>Granting these terms, we’ve effectively set the stage for reflection. Next time, we’ll begin thinking through how Christ’s priesthood offers belonging to the outcast.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Mediator for the Marginalized (Part 1)</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> Literarily, How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study The Front Porch urn:uuid:d973bafd-4186-aadc-ec10-de2b2ab4a9de Tue, 01 Mar 2022 11:27:06 -0600 <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Literarily, How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" title="Literarily, How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study by The Front Porch Podcast" width="1080" height="400" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=";;show_artwork=true&#038;maxheight=1000&#038;maxwidth=1080"></iframe></p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Literarily, How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> The Benefits of Renewing Your Mind David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:79c06edb-7f1b-e283-60f9-5e963382a982 Sun, 27 Feb 2022 08:22:00 -0600 (this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play) Is there an area of your life that is just not working? What role does mindset... <p><em>(this teaching can also be watched by scrolling to the bottom and clicking play)</em></p> <p>Is there an area of your life that is just not working? What role does mindset play in that?</p> <p>Does it matter if our mindset changes? A good definition of mindset is the perspective you see, experience and travel through the world with. It is the lens you use to interpret observations, actions, relationships and beliefs. In other words, mindsets are assumptions. These assumptions prepare you for experiences and expectations.</p> <p>For example, there&#8217;s a mindset that believes any healthy food doesn&#8217;t taste good. That&#8217;s a fixed mindset. Here&#8217;s another, reading the Bible is boring. Here&#8217;s another, cancer is a catastrophe. Those are examples of closed, fixed mindsets.</p> <p>The opposite is a growth mindset, a renewed mind.</p> <p>That renewed mind may say that facing a cancer diagnosis can help us learn, grow and be stronger. A renewed mind will say Bible reading is interesting when you know how to read through the Scriptures.</p> <h3>Mindset matters.</h3> <p>Paul had a lot to say about the old mindset and why it is so critical.</p> <p>Ephesians 4:22 says, “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”</p> <p>Paul says that you cannot live the new life with an old mindset. You just can&#8217;t. By throwing off your old, sinful nature, you&#8217;re throwing off the old mindset. And so he uses the word “throw-off.” And in the original Greek, in which the New Testament is written, throw-off means to lay aside, put away, put off and put down. The imagery was like throwing aside worn and old clothes that you couldn&#8217;t wear anymore.</p> <p>Paul says if you want to see your mindset change because your mindset matters, you&#8217;ve got to throw off the old. You need to throw it away and put it aside because it&#8217;ll just stifle and stop you from moving towards a place God&#8217;s calling you to.</p> <p>Philippians 4:13 says, “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” Paul&#8217;s mindset is this: I don&#8217;t care what I have to go through, I don&#8217;t care what situation I&#8217;m in; I can face anything and everything because of the power Christ gives me. What a phenomenal mindset.<br /> I love being around people with that kind of perspective and orientation. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.</p> <p>Your mindset matters. That&#8217;s why you must renew your mind by being open to learning and growing. There are two ways to look at life: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.</p> <p>A fixed mindset says I can&#8217;t do this and gives up very quickly.<br /> A growth mindset says I&#8217;ll try another approach.</p> <p>A fixed mindset avoids challenges and says quitting is the safest route.<br /> A growth mindset embraces challenges.</p> <p>A fixed mindset ignores feedback and avoids criticism because it&#8217;s too unpleasant.<br /> A growth mindset welcomes feedback because it is part of greater personal development.</p> <p>A fixed mindset says I made a mistake, and they retreat into a cocoon.<br /> A growth mindset says mistakes help me grow because I learned to develop strategic reasoning skills.</p> <p>A fixed mindset gives up easily because they see failure as the end of the road.<br /> A growth mindset sees the effort as a path forward because failure is a signpost on the road to destiny.</p> <p>I love what the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali said about mindset, “Champions aren&#8217;t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them, a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina. They have to be a little faster. They have to have the skill and the will, but the will must be stronger than the skill.”</p> <p><strong>What kind of mindset do you have? </strong><br /> <strong>Do you realize that mindset matters?</strong></p> <p>Mindset is critical to being aligned with your destiny. And it may require some hard work, maybe even harder than you are accustomed to. But guess what? Not only is it worth it, but if God gives you this dream, this heart, this visionary appetite, it means you have some good stuff inside of you that&#8217;ll give you the fuel to get you to where God has called you to go in regards to your destiny.</p> <p>You have to have that kind of fortitude. That&#8217;s why Ali says you need more will than skill.</p> <h3>Mindsets can change.</h3> <p>Most people don&#8217;t achieve their dreams because they&#8217;re unwilling to change their mindsets. The Bible teaches that mindsets can change. Romans 12:2 makes it very plain, Paul says, “Do not become like the people who belong to this world. But let God completely change the way you think, so that you live differently. Then you will understand what God wants you to do. You will know what is good. You will know what pleases God. You will know what is completely right.”</p> <p>Paul is telling us that the way you think affects who you become and affects what you can do. People can change your mindset. And Paul is telling us if you hang around people with worldly views and values that don&#8217;t include God, you&#8217;re going to need a significant transformation in your mindset because you&#8217;re allowing your values to be tainted and shaped by the irreligious who have no place for God in their lives and no sense of ethical and moral convictions.</p> <p>Paul is saying, don&#8217;t let those individuals be the ones that shape your values. He&#8217;s not saying you can&#8217;t be friends with the irreligious, but don&#8217;t let their values become yours. The moment you adopt their values and outlook, it affects how you act, what you believe and what you trust God for.</p> <p>There&#8217;s nothing wrong with having irreligious friends, but you have to ensure that your values and mindset are all honoring God.</p> <p>What else causes you to change your mindset? Words and self-talk. What do you say to yourself? Your words create a world. They shut people out, or they bring people in. They repel, or they draw them in. Changing your words can not only change your mindset, but it can also change people&#8217;s mindsets towards you. Words change mindsets. What are you saying to yourself?</p> <p>What are you saying to yourself? What&#8217;s your self-talk like?</p> <p>Are you saying to yourself that my parents didn&#8217;t raise me with the right ingredients for me to be successful? I&#8217;m a product of my parents&#8217; lack. People like me can never improve.</p> <p>Are you looking at the things in your life, the way you need to look at them, in a growth mindset? Or do you have a fixed mindset?</p> <p>You&#8217;ve got to stretch yourself. You have more capacity, more growth, more potential. You have to fulfill God&#8217;s calling on your life. Think of yourself as a steward, a manager over your gifts, life and future. You are actively involved in helping create that.</p> <p>Mindset matters.<br /> Mindsets can change.</p> <h3>Change your mindset.</h3> <p>If you change your mindset, in what way would the past failures you&#8217;ve experienced help catapult you into a new level of success? Paul gives us some answers in Philippians 4:6-8, “Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and request while giving thanks. Then God&#8217;s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable.”</p> <p>When I look at what Paul said to the Philippians, I can break it up into two clear categories of actions we can take that will change our mindsets from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.</p> <p>Prayer changes your mindsets. It is not even talking about the answer to prayer. It’s just the act of prayer. When you invite God into your circumstance, it shifts your mindset. You are now expecting a change to occur; you are now expecting strategy, wisdom and insight. You are now expecting an answer. It turns your circumstance into a God opportunity, and you no longer feel like there&#8217;s a roadblock.</p> <p>That perspective gives you peace. When you pray and God answers, you won&#8217;t say this was coincidental. No, you will see the direct cause—you prayed and God responded. You asked God and He answered you. That builds your faith, and it causes God to be glorified even more. There is nothing so complicated that God can&#8217;t address.</p> <p>The second way, Paul tells us, is what we think about.</p> <p>Paul gives us eight things to think about. When you think about these eight things, it changes your mindset and your perspective and changes you. When mindsets change, you change.</p> <p>Think about whatever is right. What&#8217;s right in the world in your life that you know about? Think about that. Think about whatever deserves praise. What&#8217;s praiseworthy? Think about the things that are true. What&#8217;s true? Think about the things that are honorable. Think about the things that are fair. Paul says to think about things that are pure. Think about things that are acceptable. And think about things that are commendable.</p> <p>Why not now have an open mindset and a growth mindset by letting your mind think about just eight things? And Paul says that you are changed when you think about these eight things.</p> <p>This week take time and memorize Philippians 4:13, “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” What would happen if this became your mindset? No matter what comes your way, you have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives you.</p> <p>Pray this prayer with me. Holy God, help me to have a growth mindset. Show me the areas of my mindset that require a radical change. Bring people into my life and words into my life that&#8217;ll help me make the change. I want to please you, Lord, in the way I think, in my mindset and in the actions that follow. I ask you these things in Christ&#8217;s name.</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> What is God’s Blessing? David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:3b6a040e-477c-f44e-9f15-cd5aca367e56 Fri, 18 Feb 2022 07:03:20 -0600 (experience God&#8217;s blessings by watching the full message &#8211; click play below) What does it mean to be blessed by God? In 2 Corinthians 9:8, Paul says, “God can bless... <p><em>(experience God&#8217;s blessings by watching the full message &#8211; click play below)</em></p> <p><strong>What does it mean to be blessed by God?</strong></p> <p>In 2 Corinthians 9:8, Paul says, “God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others.” Interestingly enough, when you know the historical framework and foundation of the text, Paul was actually trying to gather funds from the church at Corinth to combine with the funds that he had gathered from the churches in Macedonia. He wanted to send this collective gift to the church in Jerusalem which was going through a devastating time.</p> <p>Paul said to them, God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others. What the Corinthians discovered, as did the Macedonians, is when God blesses you, it makes up for all kinds of lack in your life.</p> <p>You need a divine blessing in your life.<br /> You need God to really visit you.</p> <p><strong>What does the word blessing mean</strong>?</p> <p>It&#8217;s a noun that means happiness produced by some experience of God&#8217;s favor. Blessing means the experiencing of divine kindness, mercy, or goodness. In other words, God wants to bless you.</p> <p>Paul says in Ephesians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.”</p> <p>Paul is distinguishing between spiritual blessings and material blessings. But don&#8217;t let material blessings be the only perspective you hold that says that&#8217;s the blessing. No, it&#8217;s more encompassing than that. God doesn&#8217;t limit His blessings to material things alone.</p> <p>We serve a God that&#8217;s so amazing that nothing is beyond His ability or his power. I don&#8217;t know what you&#8217;re struggling with today, but I do know we serve a God that’s not alienated or divorced from your struggle. He&#8217;s very sympathetic to where you are and He wants to not only comfort you but bless you.</p> <p>Not only does salvation prompt blessings, but service produces blessings. In the wisdom of God, he tied our ability to get blessed based on our actions towards others.</p> <p>Do you remember the famous sermon of Jesus called the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus actually climbed the mountainside and all of these people climbed along with Him, and they&#8217;re there listening. In Matthew 5:6-7, the Scripture says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”</p> <p>Jesus is letting us know that when you are walking in righteousness and have an orientation of justice, equity and fairness towards people that are experiencing a plight, there will be a blessing. When you recognize that people are in need of a hand up and not a handout, and you act towards them with compassion expecting nothing in return, there will be a blessing.</p> <p>The act of service not only does something inside of you where there&#8217;s this feeling of goodness and satisfaction, but it also creates this sense of awareness in the recipient because they know you took time out to help them.</p> <p><strong>Jesus underscored the idea that service produces blessings.</strong></p> <p>In Matthew 5:9-10, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When you work hard at peacemaking, maybe in your school, job, church, community or family, and you are that liaison and reconciler, you will see the Lord’s blessings.</p> <p>Salvation prompts blessing.<br /> Service produces blessings.</p> <p>People pronounce blessings.</p> <p>This is why it&#8217;s so important that we allow a spiritual community to form around us.</p> <p>The Bible tells us in the Book of Numbers 6:22-27, “The Lord commanded Moses to tell Aaron and his sons to use the following words in blessing the people of Israel: ‘May the Lord bless you and take care of you; May the Lord be kind and gracious to you; May the Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.’ And the Lord said, ‘If they pronounce my name as a blessing upon the people of Israel, I will bless them.’ ”</p> <p>Do you see how clear that is? It wasn&#8217;t a prayer that they were praying over the people of God. It was a pronouncement that they were making over the people of God. They were declaring it.</p> <p>It was on God&#8217;s heart. It was on His heart to say to Moses, tell Aaron, the priest, and his sons who are also priests. Make sure you pronounce a blessing on my people. In fact, God says, use these words. Say this over my people. Let them hear these words come from your mouth. They&#8217;re my words coming out of lips of clay. But it&#8217;s not earthly human words or earthly human blessings. It is a divine blessing that I&#8217;m speaking over my people through human individuals.</p> <p>Even in the New Testament, we are shown that people pronounce blessings. Hebrews 7:7 says, “And without doubt, the lesser is blessed by the greater.” You may say, who&#8217;s the lesser? Who&#8217;s the greater? The greater is the one who&#8217;s pronouncing the blessing. The lesser is the one who is the recipient of the blessing. And you can be the greater and you can be the lesser in many relationships and many instances.</p> <p>Today God wants you to understand that salvation brings blessing. He wants you to experience His blessings as you serve others. And He wants to pour out His blessings through the words and declarations you make.</p> <p>Receive His blessing and give thanks!</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> A New Reformation on Race Relations? A Book Review The Front Porch urn:uuid:df86f6d2-1b2d-2972-4d0a-a20911c17e7a Tue, 01 Feb 2022 09:41:59 -0600 <p>If there is to be a reformation in American race relations, the theological sufficiency of American Reformed Evangelicalism will need to be questioned more rigorously and not so easily defended.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">A New Reformation on Race Relations? A Book Review</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p>It has been 20 years since Rodney King famously asked, “can we just all get along?” following the acquittal of the police officers who tirelessly beat him under the watchful eye of an unseen video camera. When it comes to the issue of race, racial justice, and racial reconciliation, that is the question so many want to ask: why can’t we “just” all come together in the body of Christ? Just like in South Central Los Angeles in the early 90’s, the unity question in the church is laced with social complexities, moral contradictions, and spiritual ambiguities. One thing for sure, wherever there is a vexing problem, there is no easy solution lying undisturbed in plain sight.</p> <p>The American church is evidently vexed on race, or ethnicity, as it is called by iconic Christian Hip Hop (CHH) artist shai linne in his ambitious project <em>The New Reformation: Finding Hope in the Fight for Ethnic Unity</em>. Such a lofty aim would seem naïve were its mission not so fundamental to the veracity of the gospel and in so many ways the moral credibility of the church. There is much that shai gets right, there are some vitals he speaks about but never really confronts, but his belief in the eschatological vision of the kingdom professes hope beyond the visible evidence of the American church getting “race right.”</p> <p>Shai’s use of his personal story to profile the experience of late Black Gen X and Millennial Christians whose faith was nurtured on American Reformed Theology is a vivid strength of <em>The New Reformation</em>. He describes his discovery of CHH in the influential genius of the Philadelphia-based Cross Movement. There are many Black Christians who came to Christ through the preaching of hip hop and so the evangelistic force of that movement should not be lost on American church historians. Shai is correct, it was nothing short of an awakening.</p> <p>The early CHH movement and shai’s portrayal of “Lyrical Theology” was largely a rap-based expression of theological ideas that were birth outside of the community in which these young men and women were shaped. Their lyrical theology was not based on a reflection of their communities or even the experiences Shai discusses about his encounters with the police. On page 49, he says, “There was a direct pipeline from the church to our Romans studies (done together with artist Timothy Brindle) to our writing sessions to the recording booth.”</p> <p>Though all of this is simply context for shai’s message, it is some of the most valuable parts of his book, offering a sociologist’s and historian’s gold mine for understanding the conceptual and cultural forces shaping CHH. For example, unlike the Reformation and American literary movements like the Harlem Renaissance, CHH’s core message was not shaped by the cultural lived experience of its artists but was the creative re-expression of the original convictions of others, men such as John Owen and John Piper.</p> <p><em>The New Reformation</em> shines in other ways too. In the chapter entitled “Déjà Vu,” shai highlights the inner turmoil experienced by evangelically shaped Black Christians whose soul distress amid unjustified police killings of Black men was met by confusion and indifference among their white church-mates. These opposing reactions are not only important for describing the divergent cultural realities within American Christianity but also prompts important questions about the nature of the church. Why are there irreconcilable convictions among Christians on ethical matters? How does our pneumatology align with opposing moralities in the church? These are needed questions Shai does not explore.</p> <p>Perhaps the most significant contribution of shai’s project is his resolute convictions about multi-ethnicity and church unity. His chapters on “Jesus’ Desire for the Church” and “We Got Some Work to Do” speak to this God-given multi-ethnic vision that is intended to display the very glory of the gospel in mosaic communities of colors, cultures, and languages. Shai shows the significance of the gospel’s reach to catch anyone without any disadvantage of heritage or history. Though we rightly reject universalism, the universal reach of the gospel does bear witness to its authenticity, and shai uncompromisingly trumpets this in chapter 10. His “new ‘we’” concept warrants more development as I would have expected him to connect that to Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2:9 and unpack the reality of the church being comprised of a new <em>genos</em>. It would have been great if he had argued that such a <em>genos</em> redeems and interprets all ethnicities into a new kind of humanity. He implies it but it would have been helpful to see that idea more developed as Jarvis Williams does in his <a href=""><em>One New Man</em></a>.</p> <p>Despite the integrity of shai linne’s pursuit, there are a few glaring absences. He begins the book discussing his experience of police misconduct and never really shows how, if at all, the ethnic unity project resolves racial disparities and possible injustices. Perhaps it’s when he talks about proximity leading to sympathy that many Christians will understand better and then advocate for Black men and women not being killed by police when they are not a threat? Is that where sympathy leads? Or is that the goal of mutual understanding?</p> <p>Instead, shai refocuses from these injustices onto issues of disagreement and how we respond to those with whom we disagree. This is very evident in the chapter “Agree in the Lord” as he opens with his own transparency regarding preaching through Philippians in 2014 overlapping with the killings of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice. Shai colorfully describes the existential nausea of so many Black people by using the term “the Collective Groan,” which speaks deeply to the anguish of a community. He mentions his wife’s own anxiety about the real risk of their son playing with guns, and then he abruptly changes the conversation to the subject of agreement! How does agreement among Christians relate to real lives at risk?</p> <p>This pivot is not only confounding but it depicts what is exactly wrong in this so-called conversation about race. Living and dying is not an issue of conversational etiquette. Ought Christians be concerned about these killings or not? If so, what are they to do about it? To turn the emotional and existential soul crises around racial injustice into a reflection on how Christians should get along with other Christians with whom they disagree is to recenter the problem away from an entire community’s core concern, which is to imply their fears are of secondary importance to the church.</p> <p>Shai’s exhortations for ethnic unity fit well where people in diverse settings simply have different experiences and assumptions about each other. In those settings there’s a need for people to listen to each other and learn, give one another the benefit of the doubt, connect into each other’s worlds, etc. This is good counsel for the church today. But it fails to reach the height of Black existential threats around the issues Shai himself highlights. It also does not connect the unity crisis in the church to broader the racial divide in our society. Whatever our understanding is about how the church should be countercultural to society, racial division is one place the church has not only be in lockstep with the broader culture on racialization, but she has also led in providing moral and even theological cover for the same. <em>The New Reformation</em> chooses not to confront these realities.</p> <p>The grandest reach of Shai’s lengthy project is the provision of a theological framework anchored in the doctrine of justification. This functions in two ways: a) as the ground of multi-ethnicity, i.e., cultural heritage has no presence in our getting right with God, and b) the sins of all, even those we disagree with, are covered under the same justification. Those are true statements but why is justification the key doctrine for undoing the tangle of ethnic disunity and racial injustice? The Black pastors in May Beth Mathews’ <a href=""><em>Doctrine and Race</em></a> get closer to a theological framework to process these items through reflections on both pneumatology and ecclesiology, i.e., what is the significance of the Spirit’s presence and how he shapes the church of Jesus Christ in a racialized society? How does that inform the church’s authenticity or inauthenticity?</p> <p><em>The New Reformation</em> is a fair depiction of the CHH movements and its own theological developments, but if its ambition is to be realized, the theological sufficiency of American Reformed Evangelicalism will need to be questioned more rigorously and not so easily defended.</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">A New Reformation on Race Relations? A Book Review</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> We Go On The Front Porch urn:uuid:64f1c884-015e-8de9-9b53-5b3e94d729f4 Fri, 21 Jan 2022 08:06:08 -0600 <p>The Front Porch Podcast · We Go On</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">We Go On</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src=";color=%23ff5500&#038;auto_play=false&#038;hide_related=false&#038;show_comments=true&#038;show_user=true&#038;show_reposts=false&#038;show_teaser=true"></iframe></p> <div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;"><a href="" title="The Front Porch Podcast" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener">The Front Porch Podcast</a> · <a href="" title="We Go On" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener">We Go On</a></div> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">We Go On</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> This Present Apostasy The Front Porch urn:uuid:235ef7f9-de02-38bb-5cf6-aa03b21220c6 Wed, 19 Jan 2022 10:54:02 -0600 <p>Apostasy truly happens. Real people, once professing Christians, truly fall away from the faith. For many younger, more inexperienced Christians, apostasy seems like an ancient situation that rarely happens today....</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">This Present Apostasy</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p>Apostasy truly happens. Real people, once professing Christians, truly fall away from the faith.</p> <p>For many younger, more inexperienced Christians, apostasy seems like an ancient situation that rarely happens today. We see it in the New Testament. The Apostle writes in 2 Tim. 4:10, <em>&#8220;Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.&#8221;</em> Even during our Lord&#8217;s earthly ministry, we read in the Gospels of disciples who &#8220;turned back and no longer followed Him&#8221; (John 6:66). Of course, there are stern warnings against falling away or apostasy throughout the New Testament (for ex, Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31; Matt. 13:20-21; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; and 2 Pet. 2).</p> <p>But this is not merely an ancient problem. It is a contemporary problem as well. It happens in our day and it upsets the faith of some. In the last couple of years we&#8217;ve witnessed former pastors like Joshua Harris and former Christian hip hop artists like Eshon Burgundy and now Phanatik of Cross Movement fame leave the faith. There are many more, both known and unknown. Their particular circumstances and stories vary, but their departures are real.</p> <p>I tremble to say we are living in an era of apostasy. We may well wake up from the sleep of the pandemic to find our churches and Christian friendships significantly depleted because many are leaving or have left the faith.</p> <p>I am particularly concerned for Black Christians disoriented and discouraged by their sojourn in predominantly-white evangelical and fundamental spaces. Many are discovering that their long years disconnected from their native faith communities has left them unrooted. They may over-identify the Christian faith with white Christianity. After nearly a decade of disappointment and even opposition from some white Christians, they struggle to find their way home&#8211;not necessarily to the Black church but to Jesus, the Bible, and a more authentic faith. I&#8217;m not here talking about folks engaged in various forms of &#8220;deconstruction.&#8221; I&#8217;m talking about a more specific group of people who really are apostasizing.</p> <p><strong>The Reasons</strong></p> <p>The reasons for apostasy are many. No two cases are alike. So this isn&#8217;t to say that all of these things happen for any of the persons we know. But these are among the reasons I see in various cases.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em><strong>1. No Roots in Trouble (Mark 4:17)</strong></em></p> <p>This reason comes from the Lord in the parable of the sower. He tells a story about seed (the word of God) being spread into different soils (the hearts of men) and producing different results. The Lord describes one result like this: <em>&#8220;<span id="en-ESV-24336" class="text Mark-4-16"><span class="woj">these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy.</span></span></em><span id="en-ESV-24337" class="text Mark-4-17"><span class="woj"><em><sup class="versenum"> </sup>And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away&#8221;</em> (Mark 4:16-17). Some people begin well but then turn away because of suffering for the word. </span></span></p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em><strong>2. Choking on Worldliness (Mark 4:18-19)</strong></em></p> <p>In the same parable, our Lord tells of another apostate hearer. These are the stony ground hearers: <em>&#8220;<span id="en-ESV-24338" class="text Mark-4-18"><span class="woj">And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word,</span></span></em><span id="en-ESV-24339" class="text Mark-4-19"><span class="woj"><em><sup class="versenum"> </sup>but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful&#8221;</em> (Mark 4:18-19). It&#8217;s not suffering that trips up these professors; it&#8217;s wealth and ease. They desire riches and that desire chokes out the word. The word is unfruitful or ineffective in their lives and they turn away.</span></span></p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em><strong>3. Professing Wisdom on the Way to Foolishness (Rom. 1:21-23; Ps 14:1; 1 Cor. 1:20-25).</strong></em></p> <p>Worldly wisdom causes others to turn away. They become deceived by the ideas of the world&#8217;s fallen system and are enticed from the truth. Paul warns of this several times. For example, Romans 1:21-23 says, &#8220;<span id="en-ESV-27936" class="text Rom-1-21">For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.</span><span id="en-ESV-27937" class="text Rom-1-22"><sup class="versenum"> </sup>Claiming to be wise, they became fools,</span><span id="en-ESV-27938" class="text Rom-1-23"><sup class="versenum"> </sup>and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.&#8221; Paul is describing Gentile unbelievers in this passage, but the same process of trusting worldly wisdom and becoming apostate or idolatrous fools with darkened hearts can be seen in apostate Christians. Consider 1 Cor. 1:20-25:</span></p> <blockquote> <p class="first-line-none top-1"><em><span id="en-ESV-28367" class="text 1Cor-1-20"><sup class="versenum">20 </sup>Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?</span> <span id="en-ESV-28368" class="text 1Cor-1-21"><sup class="versenum">21 </sup>For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.</span> <span id="en-ESV-28369" class="text 1Cor-1-22"><sup class="versenum">22 </sup>For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,</span> <span id="en-ESV-28370" class="text 1Cor-1-23"><sup class="versenum">23 </sup>but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,</span> <span id="en-ESV-28371" class="text 1Cor-1-24"><sup class="versenum">24 </sup>but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.</span> <span id="en-ESV-28372" class="text 1Cor-1-25"><sup class="versenum">25 </sup>For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.</span></em></p> </blockquote> <p>Here, Paul writes to a Christian church with some members really smitten by Greek wisdom. But such wisdom was the antithesis of God&#8217;s wisdom, seen most fully in the cross of Jesus Christ. That&#8217;s why he writes in Colossians 2:8, <em>&#8220;</em><span id="en-ESV-29486" class="text Col-2-8"><em>See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.&#8221;</em> Jesus Christ is the Christian&#8217;s wisdom and we are to &#8220;see to it&#8221; that we walk &#8220;rooted and built up&#8221; in Him (Col. 2:6). For worldly philosophy and wisdom sometimes pulls people out of the Church and into the world. Such persons end up joining the fools of Psalm 14:1 who say in their hearts, &#8220;There is no God.&#8221;</span></p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em><strong>4. Disappointing Heroes and Communities </strong></em></p> <p>Disappointment tempts others to leave the faith. The disappointment may come from the actions or inactions of faith heroes. Perhaps they hear a John MacArthur or a Wayne Grudem wax nonsensical about oppression and justice and supporting Trump, and the wonder how can someone I&#8217;ve learned so much from be so devastatingly wrong and indifferent on matters that effect me so deeply. Or, maybe it&#8217;s been the opposite problem. They have a pastor that&#8217;s remained silent about justice and righteousness. They longed for the trumpet to make a clear sound, but it never did. Then there are those who have encountered outright opposition whenever they attempt to address race and justice. They are labeled all kinds of things, increasing their marginalization and disappointment. They have been disheartened to the point that leaving the faith seems not only feasible but right.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em><strong>5. Deciding It’s Too Hard (John 6:60, 66).</strong></em></p> <p>In the midst of the things above and many others, some professing Christians decide that following Jesus is too hard. The requirements of faith exceed their willingness to follow the Lord. We have a memorable example of this in John 6. Our Lord just taught his disciples that He is the Bread of Life and that they must feed on Him by faith if they are going to have eternal life. John 6:60 records the response of some: <em>&#8220;When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”</em> Just pressed in harder. In verses 66-67 we read, <em>&#8220;<span id="en-ESV-26312" class="text John-6-66">After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.</span></em><span id="en-ESV-26313" class="text John-6-67"><em><sup class="versenum"> </sup>So Jesus said to the twelve, &#8216;</em><span class="woj"><em>Do you want to go away as well?'&#8221;</em> The difference between the apostates and true disciples is the apostates &#8220;turned back and no longer walked with him&#8221; while the disciples, like Peter, answer, &#8220;Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the word of eternal life.&#8221; Some find following too hard and turn back. </span></span></p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em><strong>7. Overconfidence (Mark 14:29).</strong></em></p> <p>Still others remain overconfident when it comes to the cost of discipleship. The Lord Jesus predicted that even the 12 would abandon him in the hour of his suffering and rejection. But, Peter boasted he would never do that even if everybody else did. The rooster crowed on ol&#8217; Peter and then he knew. With tears he knew that he, too, had abandoned the Lord. Sometimes temptation&#8211;even the temptation to apostasy&#8211;overcomes us because of our sinful overconfidence.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em><strong>8. Returning to the law (Gal. 5:1-7).</strong></em></p> <p>We&#8217;re seeing in our community some people returning to the Law. That&#8217;s particularly the case for those drawn away by various Hebrew Israelite cults. But it&#8217;s a problem as old as the first letters in the New Testament, like Galatians. In Galatia, the principle issue was circumcision. In our communities, the principle issue is identity. But in either case, returning to the Law is not a solution but a falling. Paul writes to those who go back to the Law, &#8220;<span id="en-ESV-29150" class="text Gal-5-4"><em>You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.&#8221;</em> Severed from Christ. Fallen away from grace. </span></p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em><strong>9. Unbelief (Heb. 3:12).</strong></em></p> <p>Last, the Bible points to unbelief as an underlying issue causing apostasy. <em>&#8220;Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God&#8221;</em> (Heb. 3:12). Unbelief never leads to spiritual success. The Bible regards unbelief as an evil and hard heart. The end result is apostasy, falling away from Jesus Christ and the salvation He gives through faith alone.</p> <p><strong>Why We Have the Bible</strong></p> <p>What&#8217;s striking to me about a number of cases of apostasy is that some of the persons leaving the faith attempt to strike a posture of intellectual enlightenment. They speak humbly enough in tone. But they almost always cast dispersions on faith and faithful followers of Jesus, and they almost always invite believers to a conversation with them about truth.</p> <p>The Bible never treats apostasy as an intellectually legitimate or reasonable stand. We need to be careful that we don&#8217;t assign credibility to a spiritual condition and posture that the Bible outright rejects as hard-hearted, evil, unbelieving, worldly, and foolish. And we need to be careful that we don&#8217;t forget that one of the main reasons Jesus came to teach us and one of the main reasons we have the Bible is <em>so that we would not fall away</em>. The Lord says in John 16:1, <strong><em>“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.&#8221;</em></strong></p> <p>It’s no wonder that apostasy usually begins with some kind of departure from the scriptures. A Christian without a Bible intake is a Christian without food. A malnourished Christian is too weak to withstand the assaults from without and the temptations from within. Some will fall away.</p> <p><strong>Why We Need a Local Church</strong></p> <p>We need each other in our local churches to finish this race. We need each other to open the word to one another so that the goal of the word (keep us from falling away) is fulfilled. Here&#8217;s how the writer to the Hebrews put it:</p> <blockquote><p><span id="en-ESV-29991" class="text Heb-3-12">Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, <em>leading you to fall away</em> from the living God.</span><span id="en-ESV-29992" class="text Heb-3-13"><sup class="versenum"> </sup>But <em>exhort one another every day</em>, as long as it is called “today,” <em>that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin</em>. <span id="en-ESV-29993" class="text Heb-3-14">For we have come to share in Christ, <em>if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.</em></span> (Heb. 3:12-14)</span></p></blockquote> <p>It&#8217;s no wonder that, for some, apostasy also begins with falling away from the fellowship of the local church. Who will exhort us every day and help keep us from the deceitfulness sin if we abandon the fellowship of God&#8217;s people? The world won&#8217;t. We must persevere until the end in order to receive the reward of Christ. Persevering is a team sport, beloved. We need each other.</p> <p><strong>Why We Need to Be Sober-Minded</strong></p> <p>Finally, we need to keep in mind how serious all of this is. Hebrews 6:14-16 tells us:</p> <blockquote><p><span id="en-ESV-30032" class="text Heb-6-4">For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,</span> <span id="en-ESV-30033" class="text Heb-6-5">and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,</span> <span id="en-ESV-30034" class="text Heb-6-6">and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.</span></p></blockquote> <p>Apostasy&#8211;genuine falling away&#8211;is fatal. It&#8217;s not something a person can recover from simply because they wish. The writer of Hebrews describes this as &#8220;impossible&#8230; to restore them again to repentance&#8221; and as a &#8220;crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.&#8221; As cordial and even reasonable as an apostate may sound, do not be deceived. They are expressing contempt for the Son of God and crucifying him to their own harm. Be sober-minded about that.</p> <p>But it doesn’t have to be this way. Apostasy doesn&#8217;t have to win. We don&#8217;t have to be victims of the present falling away. Beloved, stay at Christ’s feet. Believe Jesus more than you believe yourself. Believe the Bible more than you believe your doubts. Believe the wisdom of the word more than you believe the “wisdom” of the world.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>Let me end with 1 John 2:18-25 as a kind of benediction.</p> <blockquote><p><span class="text 1John-2-18"><sup class="versenum">18 </sup>Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.</span> <span id="en-ESV-30553" class="text 1John-2-19"><sup class="versenum">19 </sup>They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.</span> <span id="en-ESV-30554" class="text 1John-2-20"><sup class="versenum">20 </sup>But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.</span> <span id="en-ESV-30555" class="text 1John-2-21"><sup class="versenum">21 </sup>I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.</span> <span id="en-ESV-30556" class="text 1John-2-22"><sup class="versenum">22 </sup>Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.</span> <span id="en-ESV-30557" class="text 1John-2-23"><sup class="versenum">23 </sup>No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.</span> <span id="en-ESV-30558" class="text 1John-2-24"><sup class="versenum">24 </sup>Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.</span> <span id="en-ESV-30559" class="text 1John-2-25"><sup class="versenum">25 </sup>And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.</span></p></blockquote> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">This Present Apostasy</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> What Now? The Front Porch urn:uuid:2eece9be-ed79-f9aa-6cb5-36209d74e21d Tue, 18 Jan 2022 08:59:39 -0600 <p>Yesterday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, thirty-five saints gathered on Zoom to read and discuss the &#8220;Letter from a Birmingham Jail.&#8221; We were brothers and sisters of various ages, female...</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">What Now?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p>Yesterday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, thirty-five saints gathered on Zoom to read and discuss the &#8220;Letter from a Birmingham Jail.&#8221; We were brothers and sisters of various ages, female and male, representing different ethnicities and socio-economic status. There were college professors, security guards, campus workers, stay-at-home moms, IT types, retirees, and entry-level folks. For 2.5 hours we read a section of the letter then shared our reactions and questions.</p> <p>Of all the rich things shared, one question continues dancing in my mind. It surfaced at a couple of points during our discussion, asked with different words each time. The question is this: What now?</p> <p>It&#8217;s a question Dr. King himself dealt with in his own way in his work, <a href=""><em>Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?</em></a> His answers, over 50 years old, need reply from our own time and leaders.</p> <p>We live in the aftermath of the classic Civil Rights Movement. That means we live in the wake of its successes. African Americans&#8211;and many other groups&#8211;enjoy many more civil liberties than any of our forebears at any point in history. We may own property&#8211;and own it in any neighborhood. We may vote. We may walk down the street without bowing our heads and white people who pass by. We can directly and publicly challenge white Americans without fear of death, Klan raids, burning crosses, or lynchings. We can marry whomever we desire. We can attend public educational institutions or frequent public accommodations. All of these things and many more come to us as a result of the Civil Rights Movement and the work of leaders and foot soldiers like Dr. King.</p> <p>And yet, none of those opportunities are guaranteed or perfectly extended. Many of them are tenuous. We still face discrimination in real estate practices. Voting rights are currently under assault. Reactionary and racist sentiment, leading to mass shootings and other confrontations, is at a high in the post-Trump and post-Obama era. Police brutality was a fact of life during the Civil Rights era and it continues to be a problem today. The laws that opened access to public educational institutions are being rolled back in some cases. We live in the awkward and fragile tension of enjoying Civil Rights successes and having to maintain them.</p> <p>At the same time, our community is more diverse, dispersed, and disagreeing than the Civil Rights generation. This, too, is a blessing and a curse. The segregation and racism of the 19560s and earlier forced nearly all Black people into the same existential condition. Being marginalized almost without exception and through law meant we all simultaneously faced the same problems and perils. There was no way to be Black that did not involve negotiating the daily stultifying realities of Jim Crow. But nearly 40 years post the fall of Jim Crow, we no longer have (or feel ourselves to have) the same existential condition. Gone are the &#8220;whites only&#8221; and &#8220;colored&#8221; signs that quite literally signified the battle. Gone, in most places, are the variety of &#8220;tests&#8221; that took away the right the vote. Gone, too, are a lot of Black communities that were home to teachers, bankers, sanitation workers, riff raff, juke joint proprietors, doctors, lawyers, and the like. A lot of us now live in exclusive gated communities, suburbs, exurbs, and city neighborhoods&#8211;most of them integrated and predominantly white.</p> <p>Success in an individualistic capitalist society tends toward more individualism and less collective concern. So, now, the question &#8220;What now?&#8221; becomes quite difficult to answer.</p> <p>But answer it we must if we would be faithful stewards of the gains Dr. King&#8217;s generation produced. We must attain the same kind of strategic clarity they possessed. We must figure out the moral and symbolic issues that harness and focus our energies. We must rally together in meaningful and substantive ways and sustain a collective consciousness that reminds us that we &gt; me.</p> <p>Answering &#8220;what now&#8221; certainly can&#8217;t be done by one man doing something as banal as writing a blog post. It must be birthed by the community, the people affected. It must originate with our shared sense of need and fragility, hope and opportunity. It must have moral and symbolic resonance; it must be authentic to who we are and what we face <em>now</em>. It needs to be, if possible, an answer that has as much legitimacy with the brother on the block as the sister in the boardroom.</p> <p>And it need not be entirely about what White people did or do to Black people. Perhaps the next iteration of the Black struggle must take more seriously what Black people do to Black people&#8211;not in a way that denies any ongoing tensions between Black and White (or the State), but in a way that accepts responsibility for those problems that are our own making. We need an agenda that comes from <a href="">talking to each other</a> about <a href="">things that matter to us</a>.</p> <p>We need an agenda that can be seen and felt <em>locally</em>. So much of our discourse today centers on national events and Federal legislation. That has its place, of course. But it strikes me that there was something very local about the work of the SCLC and other Civil Rights groups. They were <em>in</em> Birmingham. They were <em>in</em> Memphis. They were <em>in</em> Chicago. They found those places and others to be very different places, with their own actors, with their own histories and events, and with their own strategies. We, on the other hand, live and serve in a much more disembodied culture of national news, social media, and &#8220;platform building.&#8221; The more disembodied we are, the more abstract and lacking in the earthiness of local color our agendas tend to be. Abstraction rarely produces traction.</p> <p>So, on the day following the MLK holiday, I&#8217;m left asking &#8220;What next?&#8221; I&#8217;m left wondering if we have enough of a sense of community and connectedness to be able to forge an agenda that heals, helps, and holds us together. I&#8217;m wondering if that agenda can be concrete enough locally to matter but compelling enough morally to move us nationally. I know there are better minds than my own thinking about these things. I pray today that their thoughts bear fruit in a new iteration of the struggle.</p> <p>So, what next? What now, beloved?</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">What Now?</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> Resurrecting with a Burning Yellow Fire (Part 2) The Front Porch urn:uuid:b607ce9a-15b2-35c9-ab30-cd0165e1ae80 Tue, 11 Jan 2022 05:55:00 -0600 <p>In Hybrida, Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang writes, “I’ve come to terms with the fact that I never truly confronted the full spectrum of race in my past, at least...</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Resurrecting with a Burning Yellow Fire (Part 2)</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In </span><a href=";keywords=hybrida&amp;qid=1641589479&amp;s=books&amp;sprefix=hybrida%2Cstripbooks%2C108&amp;sr=1-1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hybrida</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang writes, “I’ve come to terms with the fact that I never truly confronted the full spectrum of race in my past, at least not enough. Race was never a vessel but a land that bled into the tide. It surged, carried me, and then I arrived at my body.”</span></p> <p><b>Awakening</b></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After suffering the worst of the racial trauma and spiritual abuse of my time in white evangelicalism, I increased my own confrontation of race and struggled for flourishing for myself and my brothers and sisters. One of the ways I worked for this was by pushing for more equitable practices and inclusivity of people of color in leadership within the organization. The result was the formation of a “diversity team” along with a Black male colleague and a South Asian female colleague.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There were warning signs from the beginning. After our first meeting, two white senior told me they had issues with how my Black colleague had said some things in the meeting and pressured me to tell him that he needed to change his tone in order to be “trusted” or just not be on the team.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To be clear, </span><a href=",inclusion%20must%20understand%20how%20tone"><span style="font-weight: 400;">tone policing</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> like this is a function of white supremacy. Further, by going through me for communication, they made me the spokesperson for their anti-Blackness. With deep regret in hindsight, I gave in to their pressure in that situation. It hurt both me and my Black teammate. We repaired our relationship and worked extremely well together after that, but I don’t want to pass by how deeply ingrained anti-Blackness is in much of the Asian American community and how crucial it is for us to resist it. </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Frank H. Wu is right</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">: “If the integration of Asian Americans is not to further the segregation of African Americans, our abundance cannot be used to excuse their absence.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This was a clear manifestation of the way white supremacy has formed racial hierarchy in the United States. Grace Ji-Sun Kim captures the history of this development well in </span><a href=";qid=1641589876&amp;sprefix=invisible+theolog%2Caps%2C115&amp;sr=8-1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Invisible: Theology and the Experience of Asian American Women</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> when she says, “From the seventeenth century, American white supremacists (imported from the English, Spanish, French, and Dutch) viewed race as biologically determined rather than socially constructed. Race was based on skin color differences. Asians were labeled </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">yellow</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the nineteenth century by the West. The color yellow was a racial marker that had been imbued with new meaning in relation to the white norm. Whites were at the top and Blacks were at the bottom of a fabricated, yet enforced, racial hierarchy.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There is a long history of how this has perpetuated a deep wedge between the Black and Asian American communities, perhaps most famously in the </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">LA riots of 1992</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the aftermath of the unbelievable acquittal of the 4 white LAPD officers who had </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">brutally beaten Rodney King</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> as well as the </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">shooting of 15-year old Latasha Harlins</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> by a Korean store owner. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There is also a beautiful history of </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">solidarity between Asian and Black Americans</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, but for our “diversity team,” the way our white leaders acted was a small microcosm of the white supremacist racial hierarchy of US society. Over 2 years, we submitted five formal proposals, an organization-wide survey on attitudes towards diversity, and had countless meetings, yet our senior white leaders had done nothing substantial, only speaking of their good intentions and trying to use me as a spokesperson to appease my Black and Brown teammates.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then the </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">massacre of Asian women</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in Atlanta on March 16, 2021 happened. Even though I</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">—</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">and several other Asian American staff members</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">—</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">spoke up about how deeply the tragedy had impacted us, nothing was done or said by any senior white leader. I had finally had enough. As Tina Chang writes, “I’ve untied myself, uncuffed the arms and neck. I didn’t know I was hurt like that. I didn’t know there was a force pulling me downward toward bedrock, lulling me to sleep.” Soon afterwards, I began my exit.</span></p> <p><b>Ambition</b></p> <p><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Antony Alumkal</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Associate Professor of Sociology of Religion at the Iliff School of Theology, describes and laments the complacency of Asian American evangelicals when he says in </span><a href=";sid=googleScholar&amp;v=2.1&amp;it=r&amp;linkaccess=abs&amp;issn=0095571X&amp;p=AONE&amp;sw=w&amp;userGroupName=anon%7Ec3745580"><span style="font-weight: 400;">a challenging essay</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that “many second-generation Asian American Christians do not appear to be interested in developing their own contributions to Christian theology.” Instead, the fruit of our assimilation is that we prefer to utilize theologies articulated by white American evangelicals. Even now, many Asian American Christians continue trying to earn social acceptance through assimilation to whiteness by living under the </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">white gaze</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, making white pastors and theologians their primary teachers, and attending majority-white evangelical churches that do not adequately address the systems and structures that perpetuate racial injustice.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Alumkal continues: “Creating a distinctly Asian American evangelical theology would require Asian Americans to step out of the comfortable certainty that the contemporary evangelical subculture promotes.” In other words, there needs to be an unassimilation that happens. There needs to be a death — to the “model minority” — so that we would resurrect with a burning </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yellow</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> fire that means joining in the struggle towards collective liberation from the bonds of white supremacy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I want to acknowledge that there is certainly controversy in thinking about reclaiming “yellow” as something that describes Asian Americans. </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a thought-provoking article</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Kat Chow says, “</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">‘Yellow’ has long been considered noxious. To some, it&#8217;s on par with Chink, gook, nip or Chinaman. And yet. And </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">yet</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">. I sort of love yellow. The idea of calling myself yellow stirs in the pit of my stomach, the same place where bellyaches and excitement form. It feels at once radical and specific. Though it&#8217;s a slur — in fact, </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">because</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> it&#8217;s a slur </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">–– I believe “</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">it&#8217;s the type of word that could force people to face its long, storied history of racism and resistance directly, every time they hear it.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kat Chow calls back to the 1960s when </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Asian American” was coined as a term of political advocacy</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, which is also a period often referred to as the “Yellow Power Movement” while also acknowledging how “Yellow” is a term that does not solve how Asian Americans are flattened in some way. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, she still says, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">“In the pinnacle of the civil rights era, activists used yellow as a term of empowerment — a term they chose for themselves. In some ways, I&#8217;m still seeing that today&#8230;I don&#8217;t know if I&#8217;ll walk around in the world calling myself yellow — maybe to people who have similar experiences to mine; certainly not around people who&#8217;ve flung slurs at me.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even so, having different words to choose from is itself a comfort. Having yellow in my arsenal makes me feel like my identity doesn&#8217;t hinge on just one thing — one phrase, one history or one experience.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So whether it is expanding our vocabulary of empowerment to include “yellow” or intentionally identifying as “Asian American” with its original purpose of political advocacy and solidarity, increasingly more Asian Americans ought to consider these </span><a href=",of%20a%20more%20just%20society.&amp;text=Book%20recommendations%2C%20author%20interviews%2C%20editors'%20picks%2C%20and%20more."><span style="font-weight: 400;">words from Mari Matsuda</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">: “If white, historically, is the top of the racial hierarchy in America, and black, historically, is the bottom, will yellow assume the place of the racial middle? The role of the racial middle is a critical one. It can reinforce white supremacy if the middle deludes itself into thinking it can be just like white if it tries hard enough. Conversely, the middle can dismantle white supremacy if it refuses to be the middle, if it refuses to buy into racial hierarchy, if it refuses to abandon communities of Black and Brown people, choosing instead to form alliances with them.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In taking up Matsuda’s call to resist being the middle of the racial hierarchy, our collective ambition must be to put to death the dream of assimilation and the idol of being the “model minority”. However, the beauty of resurrection is seeing that the God of abundance wants us to join in the beautiful symphony of the collective cry for the flourishing of all peoples and ethnicities. It means divesting from “whiteness” and daring to make our own contributions to Christianity in a prophetic manner.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For Asian American Christians, the irony of no longer centering white evangelicalism is that we find an even larger, global community that has already done the same, including Asian peoples in our countries of origin. Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro unpacks this in </span><a href=";keywords=the+jesus+of+asian+women&amp;qid=1641591910&amp;sprefix=the+jesus+of+asian+women%2Caps%2C106&amp;sr=8-1"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Jesus of Asian Women</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, declaring that “Christology should not endorse the oppressive structures in culture, religion, and society by being silent and by hiding behind metaphysical concepts while the broad masses of Asian peoples, mostly adherents of Asian religions, suffer poverty, exploitation, and marginalization under the imperial powers of this world.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tina Chang was right in saying, “Race was never a vessel but a land that bled into the tide. It surged, carried me, and then I arrived at my body.” Our resurrection is, in some ways, a return to the courageous and imaginative spirit of our immigrant ancestors.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">May more of our brothers and sisters be empowered to live into this spirit, captured well by </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Đỗ Nguyên Mai</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in her poem entitled &#8220;Chinatown&#8221;:</span></p> <blockquote><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We are the stars,</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">longing</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">to become signs illuminating</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">our way across every street. Our feet</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">pound red pins into cement cracks,</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">lay down pillars to a home –</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">we are the map</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">coloring</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">itself.</span></p></blockquote> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Resurrecting with a Burning Yellow Fire (Part 2)</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> Holier Than Thou: How God’s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him The Front Porch urn:uuid:f20d4aae-eb33-f165-b97b-31e4fd5d759c Mon, 10 Jan 2022 16:13:00 -0600 <p>In her timely new book, Holier Than Thou, Jackie Hill Perry points readers back to the grandeur and beauty of God in all of HIs Holiness. Louis and Clarence discuss the importance of her work for today's 21st century christian. </p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Holier Than Thou: How God&#8217;s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src=";color=%23ff5500&#038;auto_play=false&#038;hide_related=false&#038;show_comments=true&#038;show_user=true&#038;show_reposts=false&#038;show_teaser=true"></iframe></p> <div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;"><a href="" title="The Front Porch Podcast" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener">The Front Porch Podcast</a> · <a href="" title="Holier Than Thou: How God&#x27;s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener">Holier Than Thou: How God&#x27;s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him</a></div> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="">Holier Than Thou: How God&#8217;s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="">The Front Porch</a>.</p>