Christian Living, Church Life, spirituality

amend your ways

“Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.” – Jeremiah 7:3, 5-7

At my church’s midweek service last night, my pastor spoke really strongly on returning to a spirit of prayer. Not just a “pray every now and then” kinda prayer life, but an intentional, “pray without ceasing,” determined, prioritized prayer life. My pastor talked about how people don’t prepare themselves when they come to church, how they don’t really even think about church until they’re there.

And then this morning I read this passage in Jeremiah. Amend your ways. Why? So that you can dwell in this place. Looking at this passage in context, we see that the Lord was issuing a call to repentance to the Israelites during one of their seasons of rebellion, but if we apply this passage to ourselves we see how God is calling us also to amend our ways, to make position ourselves in a place to receive, so that then, having done that, we may dwell.

I think I want to start to spend more time preparing my heart and my spirit before church because I’m in a place right now where I don’t want to miss out on anything that God has for me. In fact, I’m in a place right now where I’m trying to rid my life of certain things – some of them harmless – just so I can make more room for God.

There is more.

So I’m striving to amend my ways that I may dwell where He dwells. If only we all had a heart like John, who was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,” (Revelations 1:10) and subsequently gifted the Revelation. If only we all positioned ourselves in the Spirit even before the allotted Sunday gatherings began. Then, maybe, we would begin to see things we’ve never seen before.

Christian Living, Church Life, Thoughts

rain is coming

rain is coming banner

Soon, these desert days will be behind us – monuments of seasons past.

A little over a week ago, LA hosted the 110th anniversary gathering of one of the greatest spiritual awakenings America has ever seen – the Azusa Street Revival. Now, I’m not here to talk revival theology with you. What I’m here to say is that I see the promise unraveling. The promise that “in the last days” God will pour Himself out – raw, boundless, passionate, overflowing, infinite – and mankind will see the greatest spiritual awakening ever promised from the mouths of prophets ordained by God.

What does this mean?

Maybe, at long last, the Church will reclaim the forgotten things of her faith. Maybe the Church will finally stand up and take back what her enemies have stolen. Maybe the Church will finally reclaim her inheritance, her birthright. Maybe the Church will finally reclaim the supernatural gifts to equip her in the battle against the coming darkness. Maybe She will finally reclaim the prophetic movement of the Holy Spirit, supernatural healing, divine appointment, eternal destiny, signs, wonders, and miracles. Maybe, at long last, the world will finally see the Church for what She was created to be – an open heaven.

I’ve heard this phrase in my spirit for weeks now. Open Heaven. I meditated on what this meant for a long time before hearing this: this spiritual idea of an “open heaven” has a twofold definition – God longs to open heaven over us (pour out His Spirit in a way that transforms us), but He also longs to rebirth us as open heavens, each of us. (establish His Spirit in us so that wherever we go, those around us can taste and see the Greater Things of God.)

I firmly believe that this is what God is calling the Church to – an open heaven.

You see, you may not realize it, but we’re in a drought. People – Christians – aren’t hungry, they aren’t earnestly seeking after the things of the Lord. In many cases, they barely go to church or involve themselves in the community of faith. Apparently, people are okay with “serving” a God who is rather inactive in the world today, who seems to stand idly by while His “people” bicker and fight and sneer at the world rather than love. You see, that’s not the God I serve. That’s not the God the Bible reveals.

On the contrary, my God is very active and He is always moving. His story is always unfolding, but in the world right now man has esteemed himself and man-made theologies and doctrines over what we see in Scripture.

My God is not dead. He is not the God of passionless living, of liturgy, of scripts, of blind traditions, of apathy, of dead faith.

My God is alive. He is the God of miracles, of transformation, of wonders, of shifting, of refreshing, of supernatural power.

And in the midst of these dry bones, I choose to stand in this Valley of Decision and say, “Let it rain.”

And my faithful God continues to sing over me, “Rain is coming. Rain is coming.”

Christian Living, Church Life, Culture, Life

i’m a christian and…

I’m sure that by now many of you have seen or at least heard of this viral BuzzFeed video entitled “I’m A Christian, but I’m Not…” If not, go take a peek and then come back to this post.

The video starts with a group of millennials declaring, “I’m a Christian, but…:

  • I’m not homophobic
  • I’m not perfect
  • I’m not close-minded
  • I’m not un-accepting
  • I’m not uneducated
  • I’m not judgmental
  • I’m not conservative
  • I’m not ignorant
  • I don’t place myself on a pedestal
  • I don’t have all the answers

They go on to say, rather, “I’m a Christian, and…:

  • I am accepting
  • I am queer
  • I am gay
  • I am a feminist
  • I’m not afraid to talk about sex
  • I love to play me some Beyonce
  • I love wine
  • I do believe in monogamy before sex, but I’ll give you sex advice if you need it
  • and more…

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Honestly, props to BuzzFeed for attempting to denounce some of the common misconceptions about Christianity. However, the further managed to create even more misconceptions about what it means to be a Christian. Such as:

  • It’s okay to be gay/queer and Christian.

Those who know me intimately know that I came out of homosexual bondage. As a result, I have a deeper understanding of what it’s like to experience homosexual desire in light of my Christianity. So I will say this: some people really are born gay. And that in and of itself is okay. Because in the same way that heterosexuals can operate in an unhealthy desire for the opposite sex, people can operate in an unhealthy desire for the same sex. The fact of the matter is this: the flesh wants what it wants. And Satan will tempt you with what is most desirable to you.

Fortunately we serve a supremely intelligent God who knew about the lusts of the flesh. And He knew that in order to serve Him, we would have to “die to ourselves daily.” This is how I came to deliverance from this lifestyle. First, I made the decision that I would serve God no matter the cost. But I had to follow through on that commitment. I had to discipline my flesh daily.

So, yes, a Christian can be born with a tendency toward impure homosexual desire. But through the empowerment of Holy Spirit it becomes possible to bring the flesh under control in all manners of impurity. (Additional note: simply being drawn to the same sex does not constitute a sin. Homosexual desire does not become a sin until it becomes homosexual behavior.)

  • Christians should be accepting and open-minded.

On the contrary, nowhere in the Bible are we told to accept the sins of others. In fact, the New Testament (since we are a New Testament Church) is filled with instructions for holiness and separation. Holiness in itself means to “be set apart.”

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.” – Colossians 3:5

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” – John 17:16

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2

“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. – 2 Corinthians 6:17

“Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33

In fact, the Scriptures takes it a step further and tells us that we are blessed when we are hated for our faith. We are also told to consider it a joy to share in the sufferings of Christ that will come because we do not tolerate, accept, embrace, or turn a blind eye to sin. (Luke 6:22; James 1:2)

The fact is, it is possible to love the sinner while completely abhorring the sin. But we must start by abhorring our own sin. And in the contemporary world today, our gravest offense is complacency toward sin in the Church and in the world.

These are perhaps the two biggest faults I see in BuzzFeed’s video. Now, I would like to counter BuzzFeed’s “statement of faith” with my own understanding of what the Christian life should look like as discovered in the Bible.

I’m a Christian and…

  • I don’t drink alcohol. I believe that while it may not be a sin, it is detrimental to the physical and spiritual health of a believer and is contrary to the command to treat our bodies as temples of Holy Spirit.
  • I believe in traditional marriage as a spiritual institution meant to emulate the marriage covenant between Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church. Any other form of “marriage” is an inauthentic replica.
  • I am educated. (I am attending university and will be receiving my minister’s license in the next two years.)
  • I do not condone, accept, or turn a blind eye to sin.
  • I do listen to secular music. The term “secular” simply means “having no religious affiliation”. “Secular” objects carry with them a neutrality that can be used for either good or evil depending on how they are used.
  • I am a feminist. But not in the modern sense of the word.
  • I am not perfect. I struggle just like everybody else. The difference is that I have accepted the gift of salvation and I am “a new creation.” I live in a constant redemptive state of falling and rising again to meet the day.
  • I am pro-life. I do not condone birth control, abortion, hunting for sport, or murder.
  • I am judgmental. In that all human beings judge other human beings. It is impossible to avoid making assumptions about another person based on one’s observations of said person.

So there you have it; some food for thought. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on BuzzFeed’s video as well as this post in the comments below. 🙂