Dying 2 Live...!

Dying 2 Live...!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Ain't Never Scared, I Think?

Far too often, individuals give lead way to the mantra "I ain't scared" but forget to inform their listeners of the whole story. Yes, you may feel invincible at a moment-in-time, however, those feelings could dissipate in the blink of an eye. Allow a loaded gun to be placed in your face, from someone with mean intentions, and then what? Where's your bold stance? What about your mantra? Even if you give a facade of toughness, the real you inside may be cringing like a little coward. But that's not what you want others to see, right? So you put up an enormous front, even for the gunman. C'mon man just admit it, you're scared. Sweetheart, it's perfectly okay to be honest with yourself. Fear is fear, no bones about it.

Actually, much of what we consider bravery and confidence is filled with fear, loads of it. Matter of fact, most systems and attitudes within the world thrive on fear. Let's take the systems first--The business and advertising industry: If you don't buy this product, you'll be in fear of missing out on some special purchase. The political arena: If you vote for this person they can supposedly take away many of your problems, and you won't have to be afraid of experiencing those issues apart from their assistance. The police force: If you allow us to take much of your state tax money, we'll protect you from harm (even tough all we really want to do is ride around in free cars, eat doughnuts and give you lots of tickets). As one can see, this list can become endless.

Now let's look at some of the attitudes. The bully, thug and gangsta: If I push others around or beat them up, I won't have to fear being picked on myself. The boss and workaholic: If I excel above the glass ceiling, I won't have to fear losing my job or never receiving respect. The controller and worry wart: If I fill my mind with anxiety on how I can control every single situation in my life, then I won't have to fear my life ever going awry. The insecure and jealous person: If I always hate on you for being better and more accomplished than me; then I won't have to ever fear you truly accepting that realization of betterment, and can keep you at my level of mediocrity or unfulfillment. The greedy person or thief: If I continue to take everything you have, I won't have to fear you ever catching up to me financially or being without something. The loveless, abused and lonely person: If I give my body away sexually and focus all of my attention on physical beauty, then I won't have to fear someone never loving or wanting me, never telling me I'm beautiful, or refusing to be with me. Again, this list can become endless.    

This could also apply to institutions such as the educational structure, marriage and family; and could even be an exposing realization of the church.Yes, that's right I said it, the church.

Even the church can be based in fear. It could be in keeping members to stay, or forcing congregants to tithe. It could be in making sure choirs and praise teams excite, and sermons garner acceptable responses.

Fear is a weapon, ya'll. And we shouldn't live our lives based on it. Hey, let the chips fall where they may. Be honest enough with yourself to admit, "a root for some of your reactions could be you're simply afraid. This is something entirely too new; it's out of your league, or maybe you haven't fully healed from some of the pains and hurts in your childhood." You just got older, with the same hang-ups and insecurities.

One of the first problems we see in Scripture, right after Adam and Eve sinned in Genesis 3, was they were afraid and hid themselves. So fear is a long standing problem for humanity, and many don't know how to function without it. At least in Adam and Eve's case, and after unproductive finger pointing, they fessed up to God that it was fear from their disobedience that was the problem. And after God dealt with them, He didn't remove the fear from the lives. Rather, He covered them up with a sacrifice. Down through thousands of years, He still has us covered; so the only one we need to be fearing is Him.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise." (Psalm 111:10 NIV)

"And fear not them that kill the body, but are
    not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him that is able
    to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28 KJV)             

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Parable of the Cosby's (revisited)

What do we tell our Black children about their cultural heritage and identity? As a Black, Colored or African-American young adult male, the depiction of cultural placement can become confusing, at times. What should I do? Where should I work? Who should I actually be? Questions of this nature beg  for answers. Only many of these seem fleeting or lacking proper substance. Since I reside in a nation where our history was stripped for European exploitation, much of that history is forgotten. So how can I gain some bearing on my true cultural identity. Oftentimes the answer is, "I can't." Too much of it has been tainted, mixed up and messed around. Instead of wrestling with my heritage, it may be more pressing of a concern to find myself today. Unfortunately, that view is just as confusing as my heritage. As a Christian, I realize most of that identity is hidden in Christ. However, racism is still real, Whites still seem to rule and my cultural heritage is still tainted.

This dynamic probably won't change anytime soon. As long as the damage is done, it's done. I can't stop slavery from happening in the past. I can't make Blacks less subservient to Whites. Neither can I make Black men be placed on a higher priority chart: We're last on the totem pole after White men, Jews, White women, Asians, Latinos, children, other races, Black women, elderly, and then lastly, Black men. I can't stop Africa and Haiti from being the most used up places on the planet, where everything is took, yet nothing is returned. I can't get the police to stop harassing us. But I can at least speak up about it, about it all.

Rapper, activist and magazine contributor Sho Baraka recently wrote an article on KING Internet magazine (not the paper one with the half-naked Blacks chicks). He alluded to this issue in more precise verbiage. Check out his article here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Revive Us, Again?

     Revive us, again? This question begs to offer clarity on the concept of overall revival. And why do we need it commenced in a repeated and powerful fashion? In other words, we need done AGAIN! But when was it done in the first place? This book can give you more understanding on that matter in depth. Also, this video can give some experiential clarity on a modern day revival. However, if something/someone needs to be revived, that means it has actually died. The defibrillators need to be modulated for immediate charging and placed on the chest, to reignite the heart, garnering a pulse back into motion. Unfortunately, many churches have failed to realize something is drastically missing, something has considerably died. So how can a church, better yet a nation and world, be revived?

What Is a Revival?

The eternal human quest is to know and experience God.

     Some want God to split open the heavens and descend to earth so they can see him. Others want God to write his message in the sky or on a mountain so they can see it and know for sure what to do. Still others want to hear the voice of God shouting like thunder. And still others want God to “zap ‘em” so they’ll quiver on the floor or jump like a kangaroo. Though most won’t admit it, in one way or another they want God to quit playing hide and seek, to come show himself, to visit his people. True believers want God to intervene in their humdrum experiences. But for most, God can’t be felt or touched. Many feel that God isn’t with them.

       A Working Definition

     One way God responds to this basic human longing is to manifest himself in a revival. But what exactly do we mean by that term? A variety of definitions have been offered by pastors, theologians, and historians, but we would describe it this way:

An evangelical revival is an extraordinary work of God in which Christians repent of their sins as they become intensely aware of his presence in their midst, and they manifest a positive response to God in renewed obedience to the known will of God, resulting in both a deepening of their individual and corporate experience with God, and an increased concern to win others to Christ.

This view of revival recognizes several distinctives, common to historic revivals, that
we should keep in mind as we study them:

• An extraordinary work of God should be distinguished from the more ordinary
work of God in the life of the believer.
• The realization of the unique presence of God during times of revival is
consistently reported in the testimonies of the revived.
• Revivals naturally lead to a significant evangelistic outreach and harvest of souls in
the community touched by the revived church.

While there may be isolated exceptions, these are the manifestations connected with the normal experience of a Holy Spirit outpouring as we read about examples of it in Scripture.

   Nine “Faces” of Revival

     All people have the same basic facial features, yet these features are arranged differently. In a similar way, revivals display the same essential features as they reflect God’s presence, yet they have different “faces”; that is, revival is expressed in different ways. The nine “faces” of revival have been described in an earlier book, Rivers of Revival (written by Elmer Towns with Neil Anderson, Regal Books, 1998; see pp. 116-17). That list of revival
types, each with its characteristic focus, is worth repeating here:

• The repentance revival emphasizes a moral cleansing of individual lives and of society as a whole.
• The evangelism revival focuses on winning souls to Christ.
• The worship revival centers on magnifying God.
• The deeper life revival emphasizes the experience of God’s indwelling.
• The spiritual warfare revival devotes its energies to battling Satan and the other demons.
• The Holy Spirit revival is characterized by extensive manifestations of the Spirit.
• The reconciliation revival leads to the removal of barriers to racial and ethnic harmony.
• The liberation revival focuses on gaining freedom from corporate and personal bondage to sin.
• The prayer revival displays considerable efforts at intercession and other forms of prayer.

     Though any given revival may manifest several of these characteristics, most revivals tend to display one trait more prominently than the others. Just as the face of a child often reflects a blending of the faces of both parents (and grandparents), so the “face” of a particular revival often reflects a blending of two or more of the revival types listed above.