Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Da Word... 226! All about faith!

Sometimes an inordinate amount of attention is paid to what you do.  Is it always about what one does?  I mean... mustn't there be some kind of catalyst or other driving force that moves a person to act in the first place?  Is it truly all about the doing?  Or is there something more? Isn't it true that sometimes all it takes for a child to suddenly shine brilliantly and surpass his or her potential is someone believing in him or her?

Under what circumstances was it [faith] credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before?  It was not after, but before!
- Paul (Romans 4:10)

Here we have my man Paul droppin' some knowledge yet again.  He is talking about the patriarch Abraham from whence the nations of Israel and Ishmael draw origin.  See, "Abraham believed Pops and it was credited to him as righteousness" ( Rm 4:3 ).  In other words, homie was justified by faith!   Now that's great!  BUT... it gets even better.  

Abraham had it credited... BEFORE he was circumcised!   That, my friends, is HUGE!  Because under Jewish law, you gotta be circumcised.  For some reason, the Christian Jews at the time believed that God only justified or bestowed the Holy Spirit upon circumcised folk.  In the early days you had to convert to a Jew in order to be Christian!  What Paul says here directly flies in the face of that idea!

What point is Paul making?  He is making the point that obedience of the law is not what grants justification, or the grace of God.  It is FAITH.  Abraham wasn't even circumcised yet and Pops justified him...  So how could it POSSIBLY have anything to do with law?  huh?  It doesn't.  It has to do with the condition of one's heart.

In other words, it isn't all about what we do... it's all about faith.  And it is that faith that then impacts what we do.  See, faith is the driver.  It is by faith we are justified which gives us the limitless freedom to act.  That security allows us to act in a powerful way.  In fact, when we act we start to innately obey the law because the law is no longer some rule book that seems like a 12 ton chain.  Instead, the law becomes a part of our very being as a side effect in our quest to become more like Pops above.  In doing so, we start to think like He does, feel like He does, hurt like He does, and love like He does.

Bruthaz and sistaz, know this:  faith brings justification, not your acts;  your acts instead flow from your faith.  So take off that burden of thinking that obedience of the law to the letter is what will bring you salvation.  It won't, but it might drive you crazy because you can't. Naw lo, FAITH... faith is what will bring you salvation.  And then transform you from the inside.  Before you know it, you'll be doing the things of law innately as you become more and more like Pops above.   Word.


   - patrick

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Da Word... 225! Lift a finger

I bet you know some people that enjoy pointing out faults or making comments.  Sometimes we call them know-it-alls.  Aren't they some of the most annoying people in the world?  Yeah, fa' sho!  What's worse is that sometimes this kind  of person is oblivious to the fact that he/she is straight pushing people away!   Oy!  Not good not good.

Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them."
- Da Christ (Luke 11:46)

Yooooo!  My man J just laid the smack down on some Pharisees and teachers of the law kid!  These kats had invited J to dine with them.  And almost immediately these kats started noticing certain traditions J was "violating."  J himself noticed their noticing and found his teaching opportunity.  What follows was a host of "Woe to you...."  He laid them bare people. 

This woe in particular jumped out at me because there are a host of peeps just like this roaming the streets and many of our relationships.  People like this LOVE to point out something, make judgements, point the finger, the whole nine.  Yet in all of their screaming, they never EVER lift a single finger to help a brutha or a sista out!  No, they only break down but never build up.

A key example are many pro-lifers.  My girlfriend and I got into a discussion one time and she was telling me about a conversation she had with another individual.  What came out of it was the realization that many pro-lifers only spit "law", but don't back up their shouting with practical and tangible programs for helping people while in the path of life or in choosing the path of life.  You can't just say pro-life and then walk away.  What kind of .... is that? A host of issues emerge and need to be addressed.

These Pharisees and teachers of the law only sought to lay down the law and keep people down.  See, they had all the power and were living large.  They could be all pious, high and mighty; meanwhile the people suffered.  This is a recipe for disaster, division, and retribution.  We need to operate differently.  Let's not be that person or so-called friend who constantly pressures another and puts him or her down.  Let's instead seek to build people up even when we have to point out a particular flaw.  Destruction is good for no one.  But genuine interest and loving action in the development of our fellow brothers and sisters is beyond golden.  The strength of your relationships, communities, and organizations will grow ever stronger for it.  Buhlee dat.


  - patrick

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Da Word... 224! On Angels...

You ever wonder about the angels?  Like, what do they do?  Where do they go?  How do they roll?  Sometimes you come across passages that give a hint as to the abilities and purposes of angels.  Some of those passages may even have you dropping your jaw saying, "Whoa!  That is SWEET!"  

The angel answered, "I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.  And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."
- Gabriel (Luke 1:19,20)

The angel Gabriel was talking to this priest named Zechariah.  It turns out that this priest and his wife, Elizabeth, were to be the parents of Jesus' harbinger... John da Baptist.  But Zechariah was like, "Us? How? We are both old son!  Not to mention we have been unable to have children all these years."  That's when Gabriel spoke the above.  Homie had to lay the smack down about who he was.  

This angel, Gabriel, stands in the presence of God!!!!  What does that mean!?  In my mind it's sounding like this ain't no ordinary angel.  I mean THIS angel STANDS... in the presence of God.  Isn't the very presence of God this most awesome of experiences that it even evokes gigantic fear?  I mean the sheer presence of Pops would kill a man according to Scripture!  And yet... this Angel stands in His presence.  Wow.  That suggests a number of things.  One, it's probable that not all angels get to stand in the presence of Pops.  It sounds like there is organization and possibly a hierarchy of angelic beings.  Oooooooo!  Exciting!  It begs the question, how does Pops strategically align his forces? 

Gabriel also says that he has been sent to deliver a message.  So in conjunction with the possibilities above, this suggests that angels have specific jobs. It sounds like one of Gabriel's jobs is to be a messenger.  And not just any messenger, but the messenger with some gigantic, world changing news.   What else is Gabriel entrusted?  Hmmmm.... interesting!

Finally, Gabriel lays the smack down making Zechariah mute!  Can he do that!?  What does that mean? ....do angels have powers!?  How much autonomy do they have?  Did Pops instruct Gabriel to do this?  Or was this Gabriel's own doing? Like a perk associated with being entrusted as the messenger and he who stands in the presence of Pops to be able to do things in accordance with the kingdom?  Or... did Pops empower Gabriel to be able to do this, much like my man J empowered the disciples to do miraculous acts when he sent them out two-by-two?  

Hmmmm..... Well we know angels have choice.  The prime example is Satan himself.  He chose to go against Pops.  And then the Bible describes a battle that occurred in heaven where the result was Satan being cast out along with 1/3rd of the angels.  This 1/3rd of angels chose sides!  So angels have choice, angels have stations, angels have hierarchy... but do they also have powers?   I don't know, but it is interesting to think about.  We see a lot of what God has created here on Earth, but it is such a small piece of everything he has created.  Imagine what the heavenlies hold!

Remember, the Kingdom of Pops is much larger than what we can see or possibly understand.  Although we appear to be the crown of Pops' creation, and almost all is in an effort to reconcile us to Pops, there is so much involved beyond just us.  Think about it from time to time.  You'll again discover... wonder.  Not to mention to be yet again amazed at despite it all, we fragile humans are the crown of his creation and prized objects of his Love.   Sweeeeeeeet.  


  - patrick