A word or two to get you through the day.

A word or two to get you through the day.

Monday, July 6, 2015

My God I Miss My Friends

In the last 72 hours I have lost a brother I have known since I was 16 years old (Rusty Watson) and a brother in Christ who I loved like a birth brother (Min. Kelcey Johnson).  
Rusty (Died 7-2-15) and I went to war on the gridiron and I have often said I would have never made all-state had it not been for him. He made me a better football player because not only did he push me physically he brought the very best out of me in every single way, every day in practice. I never played a game against anyone who was even close to being as good as him.
(Rusty is the guy to my right)
Kelsey (Died 7-5-15) and I went to war for the Kingdom of God with him. I admired how he never joined a ministry. He took over a ministry and gave everything he had to it which inspired me to do more as well. I still remember our first conversation and I remember the last one and between the two there was never (NOT ONE) argument or a cross word. I am very proud of that looking back.
(Kelsey is wearing the red sweater to my left)
The last time I spoke to Rusty was 3 years ago. I was in Florida and we promised to talk again soon. We never did. And the last conversation with Kelsey was but four days ago. He was planning to buy a home and we were to talk again next week. Now we never will.
I have had the stench of death around me for as long as I remember. Lost my dad at seven... grandmother, grandfather at 8 and 9.  So this is a place I am used to being. But I have often said there is a different taste to death that catches you cold. The kind of death that hits you in the face like a wet bat at midnight. I have gotten hit twice and my world is still spinning.
But this pain has me reflecting on the concept of life. This morning in church I was praying before the congregation and I implored them to thank God for this precious gift called life. But as I write this I think about the passage in Corinthians whereby Paul says “O’ death where is thou sting.” Yes, (to my theologian friends) I understand he is speaking of the sting of sin. But when the wound is fresh—and I am dealing with this flesh—I know where the sting is. It’s in my heart. Its in my memories. Its in my soul and its in my eyes.
But tomorrow—whenever tomorrow shall come, I will get over the immediate hurt and be able to deal with the beauty of a full life lived by men who have finished their course.
You see if we could speak to an embryo the embryo would report that he was well. That life was amazing. That everything he needed in the world in which he lived was at his disposal. Why? Because it is the only world he knew.
And eventually the embryo would grow and expand and it would be time to break through the curtains of the world he knew into a much more vibrant world. He’d go through a tunnel of darkness and there might be a moment of discomfort and tears. But he would enter a world with colors he never saw before. Where he could hear sounds he never heard before. Where he could taste things he could never have imagined. And he would come into a world where there would be a light brighter than anything he’d ever experienced. And he would be welcomed by friends and loved ones as he transitioned into this amazing new world.  
My friends Rusty and Kelcey have simply out grown the world we know and have made such a transition. They can hear things, see things and taste things we cannot even imagine. They are in the company of a great cloud of witnesses welcoming them to the other side. And they cannot wait to see us one day where they can finish the conversation and smile in a place where there will be no more tears. No more sadness and every day will be Sunday.
Yes it still hurts—because I miss my brothers. I miss their smile. I miss their bigger than life personalities. God... I miss my friends. But I look forward to seeing them one day—whenever tomorrow shall come.
In closing... please remember today--this day, is the first day of the rest of your life. What will you do with it?

Friday, July 3, 2015

I'm Just A Minister Who Love Gays.

In the last few days I have had conversations on Facebook with regards to the church and its position on homosexuality. For this reason I decided to put my response in this blog. So if you think you are entering into the middle of a conversation... you are and --I apologize.

First and foremost my dear brother's and sisters before you form an opinion of what I am about—while it will be lengthy I invite you to read me in my entirety. Although you (Dorian) say you are glad to be a part of the thread to be honest a part of me regret I started it because it has gone into so many areas I really did not expect it to go. But since the can is opened I will deal with its contents.

And to my dear friends Sherry and Fred —yes, I am aware that the article comes from a questionable source. But if you read the thread it’s not so much of a defense of the article but it’s a debate with regards to the relationship between homosexuality and the church. That is why I chose to leave it up in hopes that it would provide more light and less fire. I think the more we discuss it more light is breaking through.

As an Ordained African American Christian living in Atlanta; the Black LGBT capitol of the world one might say--let me say something very clearly from the rip. I love the gays. Again—I LOVE HOMESEXUALS!!!

Maybe some find this surprising but how could I love Jesus and not love people who are gay? And to be honest my friend, as the Holy Spirit regenerates my heart, everything in me wants to fight for the oppressed, stand up for the rejected, and speak out for the outcast. As stated previously I can intimately relate to the struggle.

In the bible Jesus physically placed his body between a hate filled mob with stones in their hands and a woman who was facing death. How can I pick up a stone—with as much sin as I have/had in my life, and stone the gays? I must begin this way because a number of people have cast me as being holier than thou or sanctimonious and neither is even close to being true. The ONLY reason I don’t have HIV is because of a gracious God. Trust me I know who I am. I am a sinner--SAVED by Grace.

But after the crowd left what did Christ say to the woman? Go and sin no more. The woman he risked his life for and would later die for he told—I have nothing against who you are—only what you do. Why is that message any different than mine?

And let me say something else that may shock a number of you who thought you knew me. From where I stand, there are a lot of reasons why the gays should be allowed to marry. (THAT’S RIGHT I SAID IT!) There are plenty of good and sound political, economical, and sociological reasons, but there are zero… and again I say ZERO theological ones. Now allow me to explain why I, as a blood washed, spirit filled child of God, cannot support gay marriage.

Wait—let me change course.
First allow me to be very clear about what I am addressing here less this conversation again goes off the rails. Somewhere along the line, Christians in general and Baptist as well as Pentecostals in particular were cast as being closed-minded, homophobic, racist, progress-hating bigots. That's a far reach from Jesus' message of "Love your enemies," and "Turn the other cheek!" Now follow me on this. If the question on the streets and in the White House is whether we should extend socio-economical privileges to same-sex couples I am 100% in favor of it. Yes for the 1,000th time I know the president is not the pastor nor is he the president of black America. We get it. But if the question intrudes into what the Bible teaches, then I must defend scripture. Not the White House. Not even the Constitution of this wonderful country that I love. But the Holy Word of God.

It was God who ordained marriage. God who designed it. God who created it. So maybe God should be the one who defines it regardless of what religion we are. This is why we cannot just cast out ¾ of the bible and call it passé.
And not to get into a religious battle—but beloved the Old Testament is Christ concealed and the New Testament is Christ reviled. We cannot just cast it out and ignore it as fodder written by thoughtless men from a bygone era.

Have you ever read a ‘whodunnit’ murder mystery novel? Did you read the last chapter first? Why not? I’m guessing it was because it wouldn’t have made sense without the preceding chapters which gave context to the final chapter and made the final chapter understandable.
In a similar way, the New Testament is the final chapter of the Old Testament. It is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. The Old and New Testaments work together to give us the whole picture of who God is, who we are and what God does with our rebellion. Its in the NT where we find the words, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” In the Greek the word all—means ALL. And it’s in the OT where we see the family as God planned it and it’s the first place where we read man is not to lay with another man.

There was also this argument about slavery. The reason I did not address it is because you have to keep the bible in context. Yes Paul was writing to slaves at that time and telling them to obey their slave masters. But was he talking to me? Well if I were a slave than yes. But I come from a group of people who created mathematic and were the first people to walk upright so clearly he was not speaking to me nor my ancestors. So who is he talking to today? Employees and Employers. It’s as simple as that.
But when he speaks of homosexuality it’s the same as it was then. Men sleeping with men was wrong in the Old Testament. New Testament and in our day and age.

Now I read what you wrote James and a few others and the basic argument is this. That scripture does not, in fact, forbid homosexuality. I'll call this "pro-gay theology" (two words I never thought could go together) in reference specifically to the school of thought that insists God sanctions homosexuality. This belief has already moved beyond tolerance, beyond acceptance, all the way to biblical legitimization. In fact here in Atlanta we have gay churches with a First Man who wears white each Sunday.
So allow me to lay my anchor down here for a moment because I find this sinful pro-gay theology bizarre for several reasons:

#1 - Pro-Gay Theology calls 2,000 years of Christian doctrine wrong.
Sometimes we are wrong. I'm a protestant; I think Martin Luther was a cool guy, I'm glad he had the guts to stand up to Rome, and I'm glad he refused to back down even when what he had to say was not popular. (Oh how I can relate to him) But it would have been highly ironic if his theses had centered around tolerance, because what he did was the opposite of tolerant. Let's just be honest that the pro-homosexuality argument is not growing out of a hunger for spiritual reform; it's simply an obligatory response to modern culture. Have you seen the numbers? Since the Supreme Court decision the President’s approval numbers have increased! This debate did not originate within the Church; it has always been culture vs. the Church. Follow me very closely Dorian Gordon and others. Culture vs. Church. This is battle started in the Garden one could argue. The act of doing something and justifying it because it “FELT” good regardless to what God has said. So many people are Pro-Gay because it “FEELS” good to support such a “Civil Rights” position.

The Church has always been tolerant of homosexuality. (Many of us have gays on display each Sunday in the church) God called it sin, (along with lots of other sins, I might add) but never denied or tried to obliterate its existence. The Bible's response to homosexuality is forgiveness, not intolerance. However, this shift of tolerance away from "accepting the existence of" homosexuality, to actually "accepting" it, is new. This new tolerance asks Christianity to condone homosexuality. In order to do that, we have to reject the authority of scripture, as well as the last 2,000 years of Christian doctrine. Sorry but I can not sign off on that one.

#2 - Only the Bible has the ability to define biblical terms.
At least half of the debate comes down to definitions. Define marriage. Define sin. Define love and tolerance. Those are enormously Biblical concepts for every Christian. Now, if you reject the authority of the Bible, fine. (And please lets not get int othe tired argument that the bible is not Gods word.) But Christians must not pretend to embrace the Bible's teaching while simultaneously redefining biblical principles. Marriage is well-defined in both the Old and New Testaments (Gen 2.24-25; Mk 10.6-9; Eph 5.28-30). Sin is well-defined (Lev 18:22, 20:13; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tim 1:9-10). Love is well-defined (Jn 3.16; 15.12-13; Ro 5.8; Eph 5.2,25; 1 Jn 3.16; 4.9-10;).

If we redefine marriage to include sin, we are guilty of heresy. If we redefine love to be synonymous with tolerance, we are guilty of heresy. This is a battle over religious doctrine, not just politics or social justice.
#3 - God alone has the power to forgive sins.

If the battle over gay marriage was only about being able to buy a house together, sharing insurance, or being able to be by the person you love's hospital bed, then the Supreme Court in my opinion (as a man and a citizen of this county) feel they should do everything to assist in this area. But somehow I don't think that's all this battle is about. It's not just about legal rights; it's about moral rights. The gays don't just want equal privileges in the State's eyes (that desire is completely justified), they want equal privileges in God's eyes and regrettably no court can do that.

That's why the battle is centered on the term "Marriage" and not simply "Same-sex unions." By redefining marriage, we are trying to sanctify sin. But the Bible says only God can forgive sin (Ps 130.4; Is 43.25; Dan 9.9; Mic 7.18; Mk 2.7,10; Jn 20.22-23). This is foundational to the gospel message. Sorry Supreme Court.

 So while I know this response was long I pray you can see that I do love everyone. How can I love my enemy and those who despitefully use me—yet hate men who lay with men or women who call other women their wives? I pray for them just as I do the whoremonger. I pray for them just as I do the person in Walmart in the kart because they are too obese to walk. I pray for them just as I do the person who lies without a thinking about it. This is NOT a Civil Issue. Jim Crow was James Dunn. This beloved is a sin issue. The devil always turns light into dark. Up into down. Good into bad and in this case he has turned my love for a people into hate and nothing could be further from the truth.

And with that please excuse the typos and I am through with this issue and pray I have provided a spark of light and prayerfully--prayerfully planted a seed.

Oh yeah... Remember today--this day, is the first day of the rest of your life.