Probably one of the biggest blessings a person can have are their wonder years; those times in the ‘good ol’ days’ when things were more simple & blissful. You may have made childhood friends that may or may not have lasted a lifetime. Perhaps you had a childhood sweetheart that either stayed or faded out of your life. As I count my blessings, I can honestly say that I have good friends…now. Which leads me to a quick review of T.D Jakes sermon, “Branded”.
I have yet to listen to a single T.D Jakes sermon in which I was not deeply moved. This time however, I watched in sober silence. I watched a man in a snowy sweater speak to a man who is broken on the inside. I listened to the sermon with Shandra, and it was therapeutic for us to listen to a sermon together. For me, I couldn’t help but to listen, feel, and analyze the word of God delivered through Jakes.
A few highlights that ought to be commended about the message:
Confirming the need for critical thinking when examining the text. As many of you know my positions on Biblical issues, there is a pandemic of Biblical assumptions postulated as orthodoxy.
Confirming the dual nature of the mind of Christ. Because although Christ didn’t think of being equal with God something to be grasped, he also didn’t think of himself robbing God of His glory in claiming equality with Him. The significance of this assertion is that this mindset should be adopted by fellow Christians.
Bringing in an inspiring personal testimony. To hear Jakes talk about his personal struggles and learning how to make do obviously resonated with me. To see where God took Him over the course of his career gives me hope. If God can bring abundant blessings in the midst of suffering, why can’t he also do it with me?
Remembering that our story is meant to be shared for edification. There are countless stories of men and women who hit rock bottom only to receive healing, success, and favor. The Christian Testimony is given to show that with God all things are possible. And the more we submit to God’s ways, the more our stories will be effective in outreach.
Hearing an exchange of spiritual truths – from speaking about computers, gates, soup, and chess, I felt heard. And oe of my deepest desires is to feel loved ad accepted. It’s one thing to experience that in Christ, it’s quite another to experience intin the world with people you care about.
Being reminded that our suffering is what qualifies us for royalty. This gives me relief as I can see purpose in hardship. ‘the greater the suffering; the fuller the discipline, the bigger the crown.
Not looking for brownie points in writing this review. Rather this is my attempt to live out the passage in outdoing another in showing honor uncoerced. My most important relationship is between me and God, and after that His people. I dream of one day seeing His Spirit at work in His people in a powerful way.
LORD transform our minds so that we may have a pure conscience; circumspect and forbearing in all circumstances. Let our faith be genuine where we do not downplay our doubts but are vigorous in convictions. Let it be established on truth and not mere fancies. Give us a fervent heart to love others beyond normal compacity. We thank you for those who have labored over us in these dark times. Give us grace to be edifying. – Amen
Please check out my wife’s review on the same sermon entitled, “Emptying Yourself to Receive His Brand”
I never want to be the one who takes things for granted whether small or large. I learned so many things from paying attention to details that have been largely rewarding albeit not tangible to others. One of the things I want to do in the coming years is begin a devotional for my Christian family for the sake of restoration, unity, and reconciliation. I am going to begin this John Piper style with exploring texts. However, I’ll be exploring scriptures a’cross’ religions. In the same fashion, I will explore sacred and secular lyrics from different cultures. Now today’s devotional will stem from the Bible and I won’t begin to truly get deep in other doctrines until the grounds have been set for why I’m doing it. I want to avoid -if possible- the unjust claim of Universalism (although the term really doesn’t bother me).
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 2 Timothy 1:3 ESV
A Whole Peace-A
If its’ not clear why I will explore other religions in great detail from this passage alone, things will become clearer later on in subsequent devotionals. For personal discipline, I’ll build the grounds for belief around this letter. Now I don’t want to bore you with my knowledge of Hermeneutics as technical as it can get. Let’s just say that I regularly analyze data and can come up with at least 7 different ways of looking at information. As a general rule, Biblical interpretation is done by comparing scripture with scripture; whether that is within immediate context or remote passages, the Bible both compartmentalized and in its entirety is one complete thought. Without skills in critical thinking, one will not walk away from the Bible understanding why some people are Christians, why others think or act the way they do. People who have no real understanding of others have no place to give any form of judgment. Yet unsound opinions are the terrors of the day. Hello?
When looking at two different scriptures, we’ll often find tension as the Bible is full of paradoxical truths. For example:
I thank God whom I serve…2 Timothy 1:3a
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25
If God made everything, how can there be man-made temples? If God doesn’t live in said temple, how can He be omnipresent? The Prototype 11:11
The second important rule when encountering data is understanding the linguistics. Unless you are fluent in the author’s language you’ll need an interpreter. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. If you’re not reading the Bible in those languages, you’re encountering an interpretation. The Bible has many translations which can be classified into two categories:
Word for Word: attempts to give the most accurate word equivalent in today’s language. e.g ESV
Idea for Idea: attempts to give the general idea for the sake of cultural relevancy. e.g The Message
Keep in mind when you are doing a Bible study or any other study for that matter that you may be receiving second-hand information rather than the original source. For example:
as did my ancestors… 2 Timothy 1:3b
Literally meaning ‘from my forefathers’. Now I’m no real stickler for grammar or linguistics as I code switch depending on whom I’m with. However, when analyzing language, syntax matters as it conveys different connotations depending on word usage.
‘As’ implies something is being done to the same or similar degree.
‘From’ implies something starting at a place of origin or a place of separation.
Both renderings held together imply mysteries that are unfortunately too controversial in Christian circles today. To keep from straying away from my original purpose in writing this, I will stop explaining those nuances here. Instead for those who may want hints to the hidden insight, I will for now point you to a scripture later on in the Chapter:
By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Tim 1:14 ESV
A Silver Ware
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be financially poor than be spiritually broke. One can redeem the other, another is useless if you want to reach true maturity. There is an awakening left for Christians who are ready to arouse from their slumber; an illumination of the soul that has the capacity to comprehend things beyond normal limitations.
With a clear conscience…1 Tim 1:3c
All too often, our attempts at morality stifle our relationship with Christ. Not that ethics doesn’t matter, rather we are often hindered by arbitrary standards of right and wrong which is based on human traditions, not developing true self-control, and inconsistent with the freedoms afforded to us through Jesus. I find it funny when people try to throw such moral codes in my face.
Additionally, there needs to be a critique of the New Age movement, namely the God Consciousness movement which tries to distinguish their doctrine from previous religions, not truly knowing all what those religions practice and teach. Can we see the inconsistencies? Yet in Christ, an overarching harmony brings it all together.
as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 1 Tim 1:3d
I’ll openly admit, I don’t pray for anyone like that. To my own shame, I don’t love anyone like that, not even myself. A sign of perfect love is constancy which is consistent with the implications of having a clear conscience. I made it a point to grow in fortitude of mind over the summer. Slowly but surely, I have been making significant progress. I hope to finally live up to the truths of the words thankFULL and grateFULL.
Because you O Lord are always praying for us, smitten and grateful for us your creation. Thank you for the peace to be united with you in certain respects. Have mercy upon our souls; forgive our debts and do not remember our iniquities. Impute the righteousness of your Son upon us. Give us the grace to overcome all that is ungodly in our lives while we minister your presence amongst ourselves and the world around us. Amen.
How beautiful is the nature of God! While there are many other things about his nature revealed in this passage that is mysterious and dubious, I hope this serves a greater revelation of the will of God concerning humanity.
What are your thoughts about the devotional? Are you thankful? In what ways can you be more appreciate of life in its totality? Please leave a comment below.
I know that you have this healthy obsession with me. I know you think that we are competing. You might also think that we’re fighting the same fight. You would be sadly mistaken in all three of those. – Joe Budden
If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves injuring each other just to get the carrot at the end of the stick. Selfish ambition leads to territorial ethos if we embrace a scarcity mindset and envy breeds bitterness to the senseless soul. With political and social tensions on the rise, now more than ever do we need solutions that go at the root of injustice.
The Beginnings of Social Justice
Without healthy conversations, there can be no true justice. Strategies must be taken to outflank attacks, people should cooperate with others, and effective actions must take place to ensure equity for all. What makes us think we can do this if we’re so quick to wrangle or condemn another? We administer death sentences and illegitimate verbiage yet protest violence. We speak in tones without considering its chord structure and become shocked when dissonance occurs. We can’t be unfair in how we socialize and then cry foul about social injustices. If we must ‘code switch’ let’s do so judiciously. Our words are powerful so let’s treat them as if they really do shape our world. For a man will be disciplined by his own sins while declaring the decrees of God in his defense.
Nuance and the Dangers of Dialect
We live in a complex world as complex humans. As much as we can try to simplify things to make things easier in life, it isn’t helpful when expressing problems that have many moving components. Mere slang or AAE can contribute more problems if Logic isn’t applied to avoid false equivalencies.
A simple way of understanding nuance:
Same ≠ Similar. Similar ≠ Different.
Moreover, it can be used deceptively to hide intentions. This is not to say that you can’t hide intentions using proper grammar – but only that without Logic- we are more prone to fall into a trap.
We can’t be unfair in how we socialize and then cry foul about social injustices.
Racy in Speech
As much as we love to invent and reimagine language, we must not forget importations from the past. As much as we would like to forget History, we must remember origins if we want to avoid causing the same or similar problems in the future. In music, if we hold a note over a bar line, we call it a tie. If we want notes to be played smoothly across, we call it a slur. We can’t expect to improve racial relations if we don’t address how language has played a big role in perspectives. We shouldn’t be surprised if ethnicities become more diabolical as we demonize them. Neither can we find clear solutions if we have obscured language through arbitrary merging or omitting of sounds. Doesn’t matter how cool or relevant we make names, that N-word is problematic. Now this is where I lose my street cred but I don’t care.
Why should we care about the N-word?
Well number one, besides the fact that its casually used by people outside of our own ethnicity, it sounds too much like another N-word, “niggard”; niggard meaning a miserly, parsimonious, or stingy person. Have we been so casual with our slang that we have unwittingly communicated negative stereotypes amongst our own? If our words shape reality, let’s call things that will be useful in truly developing our communities.
Number two, the N-word is not a name we came up with ourselves, it was given to us by those who enslaved us. No matter how we want to do away with it’s etymology, our continuance of using the word amongst ourselves gives are adversaries an advantage. Let’s not give our enemies ample ammunition to keep us in a social prison. Let’s free ourselves through knowledge and prudence on acting upon it. If you don’t mind, I have a name for my Black People from now on that I hope one day will be adopted. I think it’s appropriate as it’s a name that transcends the narrative of merely being descendants of slaves; that gives due respect to the sacredness of the Negro; a term that could be universally appreciated by the Black Liberationist, the Woke Black man, the Black Enthusiast; the Eastern and African American churches, the Yorubas as well as the Hoteps. The Nugah.
There are three ways we can treat the unknown: Fear it, Explore it, or Despise it. Being a fighter doesn’t mean we war indiscriminately. We should know what is truly harmful and what is not. Simply putting bans on foreign neighbors is a lazy approach to protect the integrity of a nation. To shut out foreigners who are looking for sanctuary is at best hypocritical. Change in how we will deal with our neighbors will rise from our willingness to learn about different cultures and invite them into our lives.
However, as long as White Nationalism thrusts its’ power over others, there remains a battle not fought merely in political battlegrounds, but in the heavens itself. The Good News is that this war will not last forever and that great victory awaits those who in humility look to the things those who are proud and lofty take for granted. The image of idols shall be destroyed. Like a melting pot, they shall fade before the presence of the Son.
Lack of sound information not only is dangerous to our psyche, it could destroy our soul and communities in the process. As of right now, sciences are battling each other to come with the correct procedure to counter the pandemic. Private companies and governments are eager to issue vaccines to go back to a state of normalcy. However, misinformation has caused many to mistrust the effectiveness of the vaccine. Moreover, with the loss of jobs, many will struggle just to get basic healthcare, a good hedge if the vaccine were to give side effects.
This is where information overload can be detrimental. When risks are high what do you do? There are three main attitudes one can adopt: 1) If I live I live and if I die I die, 2) Avoid jeopardy at all costs and 3) Trust in God. Let those who are wise see how a Christian would adopt all three. The only information Christians will subscribe to is the Truth; this Truth does not come from the mouths of men but through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
Semantics have a way of rushing people’s emotions. Say too much and you might bore. Say too little and you might offend. And when hostile speech translates into actions how is one supposed to defend themselves? Does one continue to fire off shots or find some shield to cover?
We administer death sentences and illegitimate verbiage yet protest violence.
As true circumspection is ignored, the issues of gun violence will not be solved. People who want power and safety will turn to force to acquire it, not considering those who may be in harms way. The time is coming where divine intervention will finally bring peace to warring factions.
He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Is 2:4 ESV
The Ends of Social Justice
If we habitually practice speaking with integrity, we’ll see a healthy world manifesting around us. Listening to understand and act is the order of the day. Arguments over Capitalism and Socialism still command the economic framework of our country. Will we take the time to see the similarities and differences between the systems? Will we also take time to think which systems will work better for the greater good? Whether or not you will consider these questions, I already have my answers and it will benefit myself and all those who are connected to me.
I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Gen 12:3
From End to End
In Christ, we have received an inheritance; a treasury of riches untold that cannot fail or be broken into; the birthright to endless domains and the keys to universes. I need Black people to understand this because we have consented to a false narrative; the narrative that we are poor and without generational wealth. While in a physical realm we may be found in straits, this is only a half truth. And a half truth is still a whole _______ . Thank God for molding us into the most blessed state. If we will believe that we are already royalty and prosperous, let us rest in the victory afforded for us.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. On earth as it is in Heaven.
In Memory of Nipsey Hustle
I needed to nip that in the bud. Please respect the hustle. I whistle while I work. If only we humbled ourselves like children, we would’ve known all that the little people possess. Could there be mysteries hidden in plain sight? Is Snow White just another princess fairy tale or a parable about Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven? Heigh ho! You gotta know my lowly rank you dig? I understand you all are successful entrepreneurs but we can’t be compared. You create businesses, by the grace of God I create universes, we ain’t the same! Heigh ho! Forgive me for talking crazy Yin Yang. This is how someone speaks when they have a heart of gold. Ain’t that right Jew Peter? Tell them Plew Toe! Praise God Almighty, this knee has made it home! I got galaxies waiting at my command and constellations in row. I embody planets, and they orbit as fanatics. Ask me how do I know this happens? Simple! I shoot for the stars, “Big Bang” I planned it.
But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices stedfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth *heavens*. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD. Jer 9:24
The Planned Economy
If we can perceive the correlation between the Central Bank and the human psyche, we may find it more plausible to conclude that income is a matter of the heart. What an amazing gift we have as joint-heirs in Christ. You see how Capitalism could actually work? The validity of Socialism? What about Communism? Under man, these systems would be disastrous, but under the headship of Christ, it is most glorious! Let this thought be our stimulus check as we seek to enrich our world in every way. And Father I pray that you grace us as ambassadors of the Kingdom, that we will reconcile all things to Christ. If God is the source of all good, who can stop His hand from being good to us? I understand how it may look bleak for us now as we are in the middle of a pandemic. Just remember that nothing can keep us from the lovingkindness and tender mercies of God.
Even as times are changing, we can still find hope. As much as we may want things to go back to what it used to be, the shocks the Pandemic caused as well as ignored social issues forced conflicts to arise. Things will not go back to normalcy, instead we should expect the culmination of all events to come to a head.
He nips tunes in the Milky Way/
Vibrates across the Galactical/
Up 3000 decibels/
This ring is from Climate Change/
A rise in temperature/
And heated temperaments/
Uranus I’m sorry your highness/
Plan X wasn’t your finest/
Scheme to keep them from trashing/
Divine Hits and racist tidbits/
Keep cashing like fishing/
They phishing over the Internet/
Using Sat turns with their jargon/
Like no one will Merc them/
I’m curious, can they hang with the fast n furious?/
Mars ain’t the top of the pyramid/
When Black fires their peers are livid/
That ain’t no way for living/
But that don’t end their sentences/
So we have recycled synthesis/
To reduce collateral damage/
There’s clean energy but it won’t stop the famine/
When I first wrote this blog, it was in mixed exposition; a dabble of poetry and verse with prose suitable for talks about social justice. It was written by a man who had lost his way – who forgotten who he was – and took significant time in finding unwavering assurance of his purpose and calling in life. You have read words from a man. Now hear the word of the LORD:
If I have humbled my highest watchmen, will I not also come to you O children of the Hittites? Behold, the flames of reproach were heaped over my servants. I gave them to your possession for they have forsaken Me. And if Esau cries day and night for justice, will I not show pity? The LORD is near those who are circumcised in heart; to those who are made low and declare the LORD is my God. Vinegar shall be exchanged for honey and radish for syrup, and the forsaken spouse shall know Me. Those who have trusted in oppression and have acted niggardly towards my children shall receive recompense. I shall hunt them as a bear out of hibernation, and their prized treasures shall spoil.
Listen to me you rulers of Lakes and gravers of Gulfs. The oil spilt in contempt shall besiege you, in wretchedness shall you be doused. The fangs of the dead shall be your portion and in their toxin you will be tormented. Will I not war against the unjust tyrant? The LORD shall pour his wrath upon the despot, let the nations fear God. O Israel, your children shall not be given to the sword any longer. Behold, I shake the ground and the wrestler chokes your seed no more. For prosperity is the inheritance of the saints; to the godly who suffered bitterness and sore travail.
This is the word of the LORD. God Bless and I love you my n _ _ _ _ _ _.
And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Matt 24:22 ESV