An Affirmation

Rise to the Light of the Sun
Flow with gentleness of the wind
Make each step meaningful for you and others
Be at peace at the days end with the knowledge that all that could be done has been done
All that will be done shall be done
You are light climaxing til twilight’s end
You are all you need to be right now

Namaste

The Risk of Discovering Your Purpose

When a man thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:3

Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt. Paul Tillich

Recently I had several restless and sleepless nights that I surmised to be simply nothing more than my body clock was off because of some excessive ministry related activities. A dear friend of mine challenged me to seek the Lord regarding this unusual restlessness. I of course did not because I didn’t believe it was anything more than just me needing to get back on my sleep schedule. I was wrong. I began to seek God rather awkwardly because I was so sure that I didn’t really need to. I mean after all, everyone has a few sleepless nights sometimes.

Well I eventually got some very good sleep the following night, but it was accompanied by an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame from sin. I was confronted by the Holy Spirit to remember that although I had believed I was ok and didn’t really need God at that moment, I was actually sinning against Him and grieving Him.

The two quotes above summarize my experience. First, I didn’t think I needed to pray. Scripture is clear that man should always pray and faint not (Luke 18:1). It doesn’t matter what you pray about, you should always be talking to Abba because in Him you live, move, and have your being (Acts 17:28). I believed I was just capable of handling my own affairs without truly trusting God for help.

The second quote by Tillich really is the driving force of this post. As a pastor, it is my job and purpose to empower believers to become stronger and better in their walk of faith. This takes courage. It takes the courage to actually let go of the fear of being unable to do so. When I reluctantly prayed, I realized that I had a great fear-Fear of Failing God by trying to be something or someone I wasn’t. That may be what many of you are experiencing at this moment. You may believe that if you pray too much, read and study scripture too much, that you may get puffed up and fall from grace. The reality is that you’ve already fallen as far as you can go, and God has still kept you. Proverbs 24:16 says that a righteous man will fall seven times but gets up again. God also promises to keep you from falling and excitedly present you before Himself as someone who has no faults (Jude 24).

That beloved is the risk of discovering your purpose. You step and walk by faith and not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). The walking is your’s but the direction and leadership is the Lord’s. Take the risk and make the mistakes, ask for forgiveness, but keep walking, praying, singing, and especially trusting and you will discover your courage to be your authentic self in Christ.

Discovering the Courage to Be: Your Authentic Self

Self discovery is centered in the courage to being authentic to one’s self. The greatest obstacle is the encountering of the emotional self. This includes the emotions of anger, pain, sorrow, grief, fear, and despair. There may be others that are not listed that one may encounter. These emotions are strong and rooted in the pathos of life experience. The process of self authentication should lead to those emotions. There is no way around that. However the key is expressing those emotions positively, allowing the emotions to help you become a communion within oneself, one must experience emptiness and chaos before experiencing
authentic self. To borrow from the world of aesthetics, it is what Friedrich Schiller calls the Sublime Pathos. It is embracing and acknowledging those emotions so that one becomes authentic. It is not simply acknowledging them and masking them as most do. It is engaging them and owning them leading to an empowerment like nothing else one can experience.

When a person begins the process of communion with the self for authentication, they
begin the process of what Paul Tillich writes as discovering their courage to be. It’s this courage that then is expressed in the selfless acts of love towards God and others. One is no longer bound by the cares and concerns of one’s own pathologies but is given away to the liberation of God’s Spirit and empowered to live abundantly. Faithful is the God who gives life, and so He will also be faithful to make your life a fruitful one. The courage to be
begins with the courage to live God’s life or purposeful death. It is the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, the bearing of one’s cross, the suffering of the saints leading to the redemption of the soul. To become one’s authentic self means learning to die while living.

Remember to live is Christ, but to die is Gain.

Personal Mission Statement

As a pastor and an individual, I am all about self and community empowerment. In the more recent history, I’ve been learning that just knowing scripture isn’t enough to accomplish purpose. I know for some that is a terrible thing to say. Life is full of more than just what we read in the scriptures, but all of those are enhanced and grounded through and by scripture.  I learned one thing from studying and analyzing successful businesses: They have a mission statement that everyone knows and can carry out. This means that everyone in the business from the janitors to the CEO knows that the success or failure of that company rests in how internalized the mission statement is.

When I started my doctoral coursework earlier this year, one of the first things we had to do was write a personal and professional mission statement. Some think this should be a breeze for a pastor,  but I found it a difficult task. I spent time in prayer, meditation and reflection and an acronymn coined by my college BSU director came to my mind..my mission statement is to be R.E.A.L.

My mission is to be Relational, Encouraging, Authentic, and Loving. That sums up the entirety of my ministry and my professional career desires. I realize that is what every individual desires from themselves, God, and others. I’m so sold on this that I’ve even included it in the vision statement for the church I pastor.

Being REAL is a lofty mission goal with the added expense of death to selfish service and disenchanted destinies. If we earnestly desire our father’s goodness to mercifully accept us as we are, then we will do our best to present ourselves REAL to him and others we encounter throughout our life’s journey.

After May 21, then what?

If you have not heard or seen yet, Harold Camping, founder of Family Radio has been promoting may 21, 2011 as God’s Day of Judgment when the true Christian believers will be raptured away and the wrath of the Lord’s tribulation period will begin ultimately culminating in the Earth’s destruction by fire on October 21, 2011. To many this is a sure event; one that will usher in the glory of Christ’s New Millennium  kingdom. For others, it is nothing more than a sincere but fanatical preacher ignoring the fallacies and failures of past end time prediction prophets. Camping has managed to incite the hopes and fears of sincere yet Biblically ignorant people to the point of  extreme excesses such as quitting jobs, leaving families, and criss-crossing the  country spreading the word of Earth’s last day. Where does Camping’s prediction  rank amidst the more recognized and well received predictions of the ancient Mayans, Nostradamus and other cultures regarding December, 21 2012 as Earth’s last days? Another more pressing question for me is “How will this prediction, if proven false, affect the Christian view of end times and the authority and authenticity of the Christian faith and Gospel message?

Camping, 89, said of the rapture in a May 11 interview with New York magazine, “The Bible has every word in the original language – it was written by God. Incidentally, no churches believe that at all, they don’t hold the Bible in the high respect that it ought to  be.” He went on to say, “When we get to May 21 on the calendar in any city or country in the world, and the clock says about – this is based on other verses in the Bible –  when the clock says about 6 p.m., there’s going to be this tremendous earthquake that’s going to make the last earthquake in Japan seem like nothing in comparison. And the whole world will be alerted that Judgment Day has begun.” This of course implies that only those who are in the know regarding his calculated and articulated view or  revelation of this significant event are eligible for salvation, rapture, or whatever you want to call it.

There is no shortage of rebuttals to Camping’s claims with and without scriptural support. Tim LaHaye, author of the popular “Left Behind” book series recently on his website wrote a letter to the public advising them not to buy into Harold Camping’s prediction that May 21 is the beginning of the end of the world. He remarked that it “is not only wrong but dangerous.” He also said the claim that God will destroy the world on October 21 “is not only bizarre but 100% wrong!”

According to Jason Boyett, Christian author of Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse and speaker on End Times, writing in the Washington Posts’ On Faith Page, “Camping’s faith will survive the impending disappointment, as will his ministry and radio empire. He’ll make excuses and set another date. I don’t worry about him; I worry about his
followers and their families.”

There are some within Camping’s own organization, Family Radio, who have not succumbed to the irrationality of his prediction. Many like Anthony Hernandez, a frequent speaker on Camping’s Family Radio, are acknowledging the fears, doubts, and concerns of their families and friends but still clinging to the assurance that the event will happen just as Camping predicted. What Hernandez and others are experiencing is what social psychologists call cognitive disequilibrium/cognitive dissonance: when experiences clash with expectations. A relevant example of this is found in the book When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. The authors infiltrated a group that was expecting the imminent end of the world on a certain date. When that prediction failed, the movement did not disintegrate, but grew instead. By sharing cult beliefs with others, they gained acceptance and thus reduced their own dissonance.

This is clearly what may happen after May 21 comes and goes. It is sure to put the  eschatological aspect of the Christian faith to the back of the average church goers mind. It may contribute to an already decline in attendance and financial contributions for mainline and evangelical Christian churches. I only hope that does not delineate the authentic Gospel message to continue to be preached and heard by all persons and nations. As Christ himself said “Let him who has ears to hear, hear.”

Bin Laden’s Dead:Now What?

Millions of Americans watched Sunday night as President Obama addressed the nation with the news that Usama Bin Laden, the master mind of terror attacks around the world was killed during a US Special Forces covert operation at his million dollar compound in Pakistan. First, credit and congratulations are in order for President Obama’s decision as Commander in Chief, the military and CIA Intelligence leaders who spent months planning the operation. This is truly the epitome of the mourning, unity, and action following the terrorist acts of September 11, 2oo1. How Bin Laden evaded capture as long as he did while living in open secrecy for the past six years is a question that has many pundits, politiicians, and people wondering and waiting for more answers. While President George W. Bush began the action, President Obama has brought it to a close.

The question still remains-Now What?

We have been witness to civil unrest throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world for the past four months. We have watched as presumably horrible regimes have been outsted (with the exception of Libya’s Qaddafi). We are seeing countries such as Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain’s leaders recoup with violence on their own people. We are increased tension between Israel and Palestine. All of this unrest in the Middle East is pointing towards something that we must all be cognizant of. That something could be the end of the world as we know it.

The End or the Beginning?

We are witnessing a global crisis that has not been experienced since the beginning of the Second World War. Those familiar with history know that at the end of both World Wars, there was the establishment of a global united government movement. Post WWI was the League of Nations championed by President Woodrow Wilson. Post WWII was the establishment of the United Nations championed by President Franklin D Roosevelt. Neither of those men lived to see either organization to its full fruition, but the seeds they planted have deep roots in the world’s governance, military, economy, and diplomacy today. I am of the belief that in the upcoming future, we will see an even greater world government come into power that will exceed the expectations of both of its forerunners. This united world government will be something that most will rejoice to see, but could also lead to the decimation of the sovereignty of nations as we know it. It would literally be the end of the world as we know it.

How then should we prepare for this? Scripture shares much of what should be expected in the last days. Paul, addressing first century believers about the imminent return of Christ writes: “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5: 1-5) [NKJV] It is clear that he as others expected universal turmoil as a sign of preparation for Christ’s return. It is no different for believers today. We are witnessing a great shifting in the world-economically, governmentally, militarily, and in many other ways. We should be preparing to hear the words of peace that will beckon all to celebrate. It is when we hear these words or discern these signs that we should know that the time is drawing near and that Christ’s return is at hand.

Two millenia have passed since the world last saw the remnants of Christ’s promised return. The words of Jesus entreating his disciples of the last days are even more pertinent to those of us who are believers today: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into”. (Matthew 24:42-43) [NKJV]

Seminary/Grad School of the Week

Biola University/Talbot School of Theology

13800 Biola Ave.La Mirada, CA9063

1-562-903-6000     www.talbot.edu

Dr. Dennis R Dirks, Dean

Mission

The Mission of Talbot School of Theology is the development of disciples of Jesus Christ whose thought processes, character and lifestyles reflect those of our Lord, and who are dedicated to disciple making throughout the world

Talbot School of Theology is a theologically conservative, evangelical seminary in Southern California near Los Angeles. With almost a 60-year heritage of biblical fidelity, the seminary couples solid evangelical scholarship with intentional character development to prepare students for a lifetime of relevant, effective ministry. The seminary’s six master’s degree programs and three doctoral degree programs are led by a faculty of nationally renowned, widely-published and actively engaged ministry leaders.

Biola University was founded on February 25, 1908 by the Rev. T.C. Horton and Lyman Stewart, founder of Union Oil Company, the non-denominational school offered degrees in Bible training, hosted the nation’s largest Christian magazine, The King’s Business, and aired the first Christian radio program west of the Mississippi, which later became known as The Biola Hour. Enrollment grew rapidly under the direction of Biola’s first dean, R.A. Torrey (1911–1925). Talbot was founded in 1952 by Dr. Louis T Talbot during his last year as President of Biola University as a three year accredited seminary to combat liberal Christian teachings that had plagued the church.

Talbot School of Theology is located in La Mirada, California, a Los Angeles County suburb ranked by Money Magazine as one of America’s 100 best places to live. Situated on the border of Los Angeles and Orange counties, the seminary is a matter of minutes from all that Southern California has to offer — including beaches, entertainment venues, cultural attractions and a wealth of diverse ministry opportunities.

Student Profile
1,235 total students

57% Caucasian
25% Asian
4% Hispanic
4% African-American
10% International

71% Male
29% Female

Faculty: 96% of full-time have doctorates

Campus: 96 acres, located in Southern California, approximately 20 miles from Los Angeles

Library Holding: Over 300,000 titles

Seminary/Grad School of the Week

Moody Bible Institute-Celebrating 125 years of Excellence in Christian Education

Moody Bible Institute-Dr. Paul Nyquist, President
820 N. LaSalle Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60610

www.moody.edu (800) DL-Moody (800-356-6639)

 

Since its founding in 1886 as the Chicago Evangelization Society, by Christian Evangelist and Revivalist Dwight Lyman Moody and Emma Dryer, Moody Bible Institute’s Bible-based education combined with real ministry experience has prepared thousands of students for Christian service. Moody’s education legacy is rich with graduates boldly reaching the world for Christ, paving the way for future generations to do the same.

Moody offers certificates, undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Biblical Studies, Christian Education, and Ministry. The main campus is located in Chicago, IL but it has sattelite campuses in Spokane, WA and Plymouth, MI. Students can also complete courses online or through modular sessions in designated areas.

MBI has been vigilant to maintain integrity within our walls and guard against potential outside threats. The school has a legacy of being held accountable to the standards of the Word by the people of the church. Academically, Moody is accredited by highly trusted agencies. Professionally, every branch of ministry is affiliated with the most revered associations in their respective industries.

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IS EVERYBODY’S RESPONSIBILITY

I came across this article in the Christian Recorder Online Magazine and decided to share it here. Blessings

YPD CORNER: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IS EVERYBODY’S RESPONSIBILITY:

*Miacia F. Porter

Something about this year pushed and urged me to change my career goals. I didn’t want to be a journalist anymore, so I just stopped trying. I had lost all my drive to write, so I forced writer’s block upon myself. I neglected my pen and pad as if it was a century old building, whose frame and foundation had given way to the hardships of life. There was nothing left for me to say; at least not in print. I was mute, not in thought, but in sharing it.

I don’t know what caused this. I am not sure if it was the pressure of knowing that I was overworked, and stressed-out for a degree that might never hold any significant value to anyone outside of my family. Or, if it was the realization that I was 9 months away from another major milestone without a clear idea of what the future held? I am not sure if it was either, or; it possibly was a combination of both. Whatever it was, caused me to freeze right in the middle of time and I was immensely satisfied with my empty pages.

Then it hit me…I had used the fact that I no longer desired to be a journalist, to be a scapegoat to free me from something that had nothing to do with my career choice. Truth is I don’t want to be a journalist. However, the greater truth is I stopped writing because I no longer wanted the burden of social responsibility for the things I wrote.

So what is social responsibility? Wikipedia provided a great definition. According to this site, “social responsibility” is an ethical ideology or theory that an entity, be it an organization or individual, has an obligation to act or benefit the society at large. This responsibility can be passive, by avoiding engaging in socially harmful acts, or active by performing activities that directly advance social goals.

W. E. B. DuBois was a major activist for social responsibility, and as an individual greatly influenced by his work, I immediately reckoned with this concept. I wanted to be socially responsible for the welfare of my race and others. I knew this want and desire was wedded to my calling. I was eager to start life with this new belief, but somewhere along my journey I lost my zeal. I began to feel like it was becoming more and more challenging to believe, push, and motivate people; our people, who refuse the to see the light at the end  of the tunnel. Pessimism started to weigh down my optimism when I was trying to persuade others that they could achieve goals, and all they seem to decode was they could not.

Playing tug of war with ignorance, laziness, and the lack of drive can pushed me down, so much so, that even my own tears couldn’t convince me that the fatigue and mental anguish was worth the fight. And I am sure I am not the only one that has been at this point. I’m pretty sure this need to free ourselves from social responsibility is an attitude or desire that plagues our churches. I am certain of this because I am sure the church does not preach and teach like we use to because we don’t want the burden of social responsibility. We don’t witness and share because the responsibility of doing it, is just too demanding. Doing the right thing and going the extra mile just seems like too much responsibility in a world that does not demand that we go an extra mile. But it’s necessary for me to go the extra mile … I picked up my pen and pad again, not because I am a flawless wireless writer, but because I reckoned with the fact that the message is greater than the struggle. There is life embedded in the truths I speak, and I will not rob myself,  or anyone else from being inspired.

The same is true for our churches. There is so much life in our AME lineage. We are a life-line to our black community and we need to make sure this “breath of life” falls on every man, woman, boy, and girl in our communities. I had to write again and now I challenge preachers to preach again, Church School teachers to teach again, parishioners to witness again, all of us to share and love again, even in the mist of all of the dysfunction and economic problems because there is something we have been called to say that can free us all again.

*Miacia F. Porter is an Intern for The Christian Recorder and is a senior at Middle Tennessee State University