Of Serpents and Doves…


T’is the season for those that, some would consider, “condemnation” Christians, to come out of the woodwork. You know…the ones that put the ‘E’ in C(Christmas) M(Mother’s Day) E(Easter) Christians.

No judgment.  Honestly. I totally get it.  You want to make Momma and Grandma happy, and they will take your attendance to a church service, however they can get it. As a mom, I completely appreciate the desire to see your children attend church in the hopes of receiving more conviction than condemnation.  

Please understand…this is actually dedicated to the ones that make others feel like hot garbage, if they don’t, AT LEAST, go to church on certain holidays.  There is NOTHING saying if you don’t attend a church service regularly, that you will die and go to a burning Hell. The trouble is, the average Joe, that knows anything about the bible knows that…which is why the guilt trip rarely works.

Again, no judgment. Honestly.

So many people avoid church because they don’t want to be ‘preached’ to.  I know that you want to be a witness and share the love of God. And, I KNOW you don’t feel called to a ‘door knocking’ ministry. There has to be a way to share the Gospel with those around you, without beating them over the head with the bible.  Think about the people where you work, or the other parents in the PTA, or the neighbors on your block that you see when you are taking out the trash. Your heart is to give them the good news in a way that actually makes it seem like good news!

The struggle is not that people don’t necessarily know that they need God or a relationship with Him.  It’s more a point that they see Christians that seem unapproachable and their lifestyle unattainable. It’s like someone telling you what you already know: you’re pretty much screwed up and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s depressing knowing that there are people who  aren’t quite as screwed up as you. It’s even MORE depressing when it seems like they are holding their near perfection over YOUR head.  Nobody wants that. And, even when that’s not how we mean for it to look, that’s how it ends up appearing. Our reputations have preceded us.

It is into this kind of scenario that Jesus sent His disciples for, shall we say, “missionary” training. He sent them in as “sheep” to a den of wolves, instructing them to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. It was like giving them a ‘bad news, worse news,’ scenario.  You’re gonna look like sheep – lost, confused, air-headed, even flighty, but you have to be clever, crafty and even attractive, while maintaining an innocent, childlike trust in God and His plan for you…in the face of wolves.

Are you getting it, yet?

It’s as simple as it is complicated. We are not to lord our salvation over people. We are not to glorify our lifestyle by condemning that of another’s.  We have to be an honest representation of Salt and Light and Love.

Salt is tricky business.  In proper measure, it enhances the flavor and preserves what’s good in a thing. Too much can burn, like acid. Too little is perfectly useless.

Light, illumination, creates the same complication.  Too much, too fast can be painful and blinding. But, if presented like the dawn, it’s a gentle joyous revelation of what’s really around you, so that you may govern yourself accordingly, thus garnering an appropriate response.

Love SEEMS to be the easiest…on paper.  It’s in the practical demonstration of it, that people tend to get hurt the most. Part of the problem is that everyone has their own definition of love, based on their life experiences, that doesn’t always look like the biblical definition of it. Love, when properly displayed, can look mean, sometimes hateful. Sometimes, love makes you look stupid or naive.  Like serpents and doves.

It is in combining the forces of salt and light and love, that people become thirsty for what Christ has provided; aware of what the cost is of a life without Him as well of the benefits of a life with Him; and they become open to what true love will do in the life of an ordinary, human existence.

Then, and only then, will we see CME Christians become anchored members of the Family of God, devoted to a part of the Body of Christ and DISCIPLES. I mean, that was the original assignment, right?

Jesus did not say that hanging out with a bunch of people, just for the sake of pleasing our parents, would get us into heaven.  And, that is all a good guilt trip gets us. Reluctant attendees to a Sunrise Service and the subsequent brunch. We were never called to make congregants. We are called to make disciples…people who have active relationships with God, through Jesus Christ, that are supported by other branches who are also connected to the Vine.

So, at the close of this Good Friday, as we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus that made a way for us to be adopted into the Family of God, let us not get so wrapped up in who makes it to church this weekend.  Let’s start building relationships with the people in our communities that make them thirsty for a relationship with God, enlightened to the benefits of that relationship and fills them with the Love we’ve been given, so that they can freely ‘pay it forward.’

That’s what this weekend is all about, anyway.

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The Gospel in the Key of P


So, I know what you might be thinking.  You’re thinking, it’s Easter Weekend…there’s probably gonna be some deep, profound thought on the Resurrection. And it’s probably going to be sober, emotional and/or compelling.

No, not really.

As a matter of fact, because I understand the Good News of Good Friday, it makes me pretty happy.  I usually want to party…which is kind of what actually happened Friday night.

Well, let me back up and tell you how things got started…

I had been in a really interesting week. It started off with AWESOME news.  Lighthouse Church of All Nations is FINALLY building our first building after 35 years in ministry!  We had always been in someone else’s old, used church house and, most recently, an old bank building.  This news was very welcomed and exciting.

 Tuesday, I was then given more AWESOME news that my oldest son found a job! I was thrilled because I know how much it meant to him to help our household financially.  He was told he would be working with a friend on the nightshift (carpool…more awesomeness), but for the first week of training, he was going to need a ride from me. That meant, I had to rearrange my schedule a bit to drop him off and pick him up.  No problem…for the most part. It just meant I was going to be totally off my sleep schedule.

So, here’s where things start twisting a bit. 

With my sleep pattern completely jacked up. I encountered some challenging clients that had me so hot under the collar, I had to cry to decompress (don’t worry, chicks do this every once in a while).  Then my son runs into some challenges at work about which I am totally unqualified to console or commiserate with him.  This makes me miss his dad really bad.

On Thursday night, Pastor Dan preached at a church near my house about the unexplainable yet undeniable power of God.  He mentioned how there should be some things about your relationship with God and what He does in you and through you that should defy explanation, and when we try to make God understandable we fail to make Him authentic. (I’m gonna let you marinade in that bonus word for a minute.)

I was inspired. After three days straight of playing all Lady Antebellum 24/7 (which kept me in an easygoing cheerful place, despite my exhaustion and frustration), I felt the need to switch gears completely.  I needed encouragement from the Lord. I needed to remember the tools of deliverance from my childhood.  I needed to do old-school warfare. I needed some P-funk.

 

 I realize that this may be stretching your faith but, you must know there was a time when I could not hear the Gospel from ‘church folk,’ or their music.  So God, in His infinite wisdom, drew me to Him through the means at his disposal FOR ME. 

When George Clinton says, “With the rhythm it takes to dance to what we have to live through, you can dance underwater and not get wet,” it brought to mind 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” It also took me to the Hebrew boys that walked in the fire and didn’t get burned and one who spent the night with a hungry lion and got nothing but a good night’s sleep.

I heard, “here’s my chance to dance my way out of my constriction,” or “gonna be groovin’ up and down hang up alleyway,” and I remembered to praise my way out of all the junk that I was hung up on.  I am encouraged that I can manage whatever is going on as long as I remain with the One Nation Under a Groove (or the Shadow of the Almighty…however you want to call it). And I would dance til I was completely spent, leaving all my struggles on the floor.

But, that’s just how God talks to ME. It’s the Unexplainable, Undeniable, Authentic, Resurrected, Living Savior on the inside of me, makin’ it do what it do.

SO, BACK TO GOOD FRIDAY…

I am in the aforementioned “mood,” when I hop on Facebook to discover my pastor-buddy-baby brother, Asanti Socrates, on an old school music tirade.  Well, I can’t let him have all the fun!  So we spend the night, trading YouTube clips of our favorite songs and turned Good Friday into a Facebook house party. I smiled and danced and laughed and sang along while friends and family joined the party.  It was joyous and healing.  Since God is so good at letting us in on the end at the beginning, I thought it quite fitting that we celebrated the resurrection by having a party to commemorate the crucifixion.

Should you happen to see me this weekend as we celebrate Jesus’ triumph, pay me no mind. You may see my head bopping to a different beat. Just know I’m celebrating the Good News on the ‘good foot’ coming down’ on the one,’ but I’m with you…I’m right there with you. 

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