Category Archives: Christian

Dealing With “Spiritual Anxiety”

In my 2017 book “Overcoming Your Pharaoh”, I dealt with something that I called spiritual anxiety, which is essentially worry. In the times that we’re living in with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, many are struggling with worrying and faith. I’ve decided to share a section of this last chapter of the book to encourage God’s people. I pray that you are blessed by it.

How far has worrying gotten you?


In Matthew 6:27 (NLT), Jesus asks us a pertinent question: “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” This has been a critical teaching point for me, not just when I’m teaching others, but for my own edification as well. When I sit back and think about it, worrying has never solved a problem, has never made a situation better, has never put money in my bank account, and has never improved a relationship in my life.

Literally, worrying has never done anything for me, but it has taken my peace away. Even for those that have worried and stressed over things to the point of actually getting up and doing something, you must understand that your action brought you something that worrying never did. And if God didn’t move in your actions, your problem would remain. But worry has never done anything for us.

The stress that it adds to every situation is a distraction, a hindrance, and is bad for both our physical and our mental health. I understand thinking on some things, but there is a difference between thinking on some things and worrying about things. You’re not getting bad news and not thinking about it. An overdue bill when you don’t know where the money will come from, finding out that you or a relative is not in the best of health, learning that your kids have some issues that are out of your depth, or maybe finding out that your marriage is in trouble. You’re not getting any of this news, or news like it, without giving it some thought.

You’re fine just thinking. You’re human just thinking. However, it’s the dwelling on these things that will cause you to lose faith. It’s the pondering instead of praying that will cause you to lose hope. It’s trying to control some things that you couldn’t even prevent from happening in the first place that will threaten your sanity. It’s staying up all night when you claim to have faith in a God that never sleeps nor slumbers that’s troublesome.

The answer to the question we asked at the beginning of this section is a simple one. How far has worrying gotten you? Not far at all. In fact, you’ve gotten nowhere. It may not have caused you to sink deeper into your problems and your issues, but it certainly made you feel as if you had. It takes an inconvenience and makes it feel like an impossibility. It turns a dilemma into desperation. As Jesus said, it doesn’t add anything to your life. It comes just as another bill that’s due, and you pay with your peace of mind.

I speak to you as someone that has some experience in worry. I’ve had those times where I didn’t know which way was up. I had to learn that worry was never in any equation that led to a solution. I had to come to a place where I realized that worry will paralyze you. Worry will confuse you. It will cause you to stand still when action is required. It will cause you to act unnecessarily and irrationally, when all you had to do was stand still because your deliverance was on the way.

It’s still true that God won’t solve a problem that we haven’t fully released to Him. This is the trick the enemy plays on us. He keeps us worrying because worry will cause us to pray without really believing that God will hear and answer. Worry won’t do anything for us, but God can and will. When we succumb to our problems, we lose sight of the problem solving nature of God. Worry will throw you into a sea of “what if it doesn’t work out” before you ever even realize that you were always standing on the shores of “God says it’s gonna work out”.

To purchase a copy of “Overcoming Your Pharaoh: Battling our issues, our instances, and our insecurities”, visit www.krjpublishing.com

In Times Like These, We Need A Word!

Last night, I was reading the intro to my book “Are We Still Making Disciples”. The opening line of the book is: “We’re at a critical time in the church today”. It was true when I wrote it and it’s even more true today. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic and when such moments come about, the church is brought to forefront for various reasons.

Being faith-based, it would make sense that people would look to the church in uncertain times. We’re looked to in order to provide comfort and encouragement during a difficult time, and in many ways, we’ve answered the call. However, we’re also looked at during this time because some of the people that have been attending our services regularly seem to be unsure. And while at some moments we “questioned” their faith, one could argue that they have about as much faith as they’ve been encouraged to have.

What I mean is in some cases, the object of their faith is what we’ve been pushing. In some cases, we haven’t pointed them to God as often as we should have, and now, in the midst of extreme uncertainty, they don’t know where to turn. So then, the question becomes, what have we really been telling our people?

We’ve spent the better part of the last 25 to 30 years telling people about God’s stimulus plan and how we’re all gonna be worldly rich, often ignoring the fact that not only is what we have here on earth of no consequence when we die, but none of it will be of any benefit when we’re face to face with God. In a moment when the government is issuing out money to it’s citizens in the name of survival, its all being given to people that should be staying inside for their own safety.

It’s in situations like this when cliches and catchphrases fade away and people begin to wonder if God is listening to their prayers because people are still dying in the face of this disease. The person that’s praying that God replaces their next breath isn’t concerned about material things, 401k’s, their cars, their “breakthrough”, or even how God is gonna make their haters their motivators. They’re concerned with their lives. They’re concerned with their souls.

They need to be able to draw on a reassuring word and not one based solely on what happens on this side of their current Jordan river situation. It’s during these times when people don’t need a superficial and fluffed up word. They need a true and sustaining word. During these moments, people need to know about a saving Savior.

One of the great challenges to the church during this time is to examine what our message has been to our people. Some of us in the preaching ministry have spent so many years trying to move people emotionally that we’ve failed to move them spiritually. There are people that have listened to us that are so disillusioned and uniformed about God that they don’t even believe that a plague would come by His hands and not necessarily the devil’s. This is one of the pitfalls of us serving itching ears as opposed to addressing lives that have yet to be transformed according to Romans 12:1-2.

A “prosperity” word is hardly the life preserver our people need when both rich and poor can be killed by the same virus. A “God’s gonna make you rich” word isn’t what people need when we don’t have enough ventilators to go around in order to help people breathe. In this moment, people don’t need to be reminded about how they’ll overcome the hater next door, they need to know that God will deliver them from the illness outside their door. In this moment, people need to know that God is still in charge, even though people are dying.

While we share Scriptures of doom and gloom and an angry God, we must also share the hope of Jesus Christ. People need to know that God is still a healer, even though people are still at risk and getting sick. They need to know that even if God doesn’t answer their prayers in the fashion that they prayed it, He still able!

Some time ago, I did a series on my radio broadcast called “A Church In Love WIth Itself”. The purpose of that series, just as it was with “Are We Still Making Disciples”, was to refocus the church on what we’re supposed to be about and who we’re supposed to be. I’m just convinced that there are times when God will either cause something to happen or allow something to happen that should refocus us.

As it pertains to the church, I believe that this season is a season in which the truth of God’s Word needs to go forth. We’re in a season where God has leveled the playing field and the haves and the have nots are in the same boat, facing the same danger, faced with same mortality. Because, quite honestly, that’s where we’ve always been. For this reason, in this season, and for this cause, we need a word. And this time, the church must deliver.

In the midst of a challenge, “faith shaming” has become a thing

As we’re dealing with the challenge of this Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it seems as if the faith community has begun to challenge one another’s level of faith. Christians that have shown concern have had their trust in God questioned, at times in a hostile manner, with a Scripture provided to seemingly soften the blow (i.e. “God said it, I didn’t”).

Christians that have decided to keep their distance (staying in doors, missing church) have been accused of falling to the wiles of the devil and possessing a spirit of fear, and not that of a sound mind. Christians that have chosen to be cautious have been accused of turning their backs on the same God that has kept them. They’ve been accused by people that act as if they’ve never doubted God a day in their lives. Yes, we have entered into an area of “faith shaming” where we propose to know what’s in one another’s heart, and we’ll even throw discernment around for good measure just in case people wanna question how we’ve come the conclusions that we’ve come to.

Many of us have even thrown around our conspiracy theories for good measure, shaking our holy heads at those who aren’t up on our various theories, failing to realize that by pushing such things, we actually create another form of hysteria and create a culture of people that will be paranoid about EVERYTHING, never believing that God is in EVERYTHING, even those things that He simply allows. We’re missing the fact that if we push man’s theories more than we push our theology, that God is STILL able, we’re not helping the church, we’re harming it.

It’s true that faith must be exercised during this most challenging time, but I’m concerned when we as the church will try and drag people to a level of faith as opposed to compelling them, not just with words and The Word, but more importantly, with actions and how we exercise our own faith. We must be careful not to convey an attitude that suggests that because we have faith, we’re taking all of this lightly, and if that’s the case, we need to rethink our position.

Faith doesn’t mean there’s an absence of danger, it simply means that we trust God in the midst of danger. There was danger in Daniel’s lion’s den situation, but God kept him. There was danger in the fiery furnace of the 3 Hebrew boys situation, but God kept them. I would submit to you that if there’s no danger, one doesn’t need as much faith. While we’re walking in our faith, we shouldn’t seek to minimize what we’re actually walking in just to make the trepidation of our brothers and sisters seem less valid. Even if you have the strongest of faith, just know that you weren’t born that way. And even now, you still have moments of weakness. Only a robot can say otherwise.

It was Abram (who would eventually become Abraham), the father of faith, that was told in Genesis 12:1-4 to leave his country and kinfolk and move as God commanded because God was gonna make him a great nation. By Verse 10 of that same Chapter, he was in Egypt because of a famine, encouraging his wife to lie so that they could get what they needed. If you know the story, you know how disastrous this could’ve been for all involved. Instead of showing great faith, Abram showed weak faith. And yet, God still kept them from harm and they left the Pharaoh’s house unscathed.

It was this same Abram in Genesis 16 (after a one on one conversation with God in Chapter 15), along with his wife, that chose to impregnate Hagar because he couldn’t quite see how Sarai (Sarah) was going to have a baby in her old age. In his quest to “help” God, he showed a lack of faith and tried to do it his way. And yet, once again, God kept him.

In the midst of these circumstances, Abram was growing in his faith. The lesson for us is that faithful individuals are not born, they’re grown. For us to condemn people that haven’t grown as we have will actually stunt their growth and cause them to retreat when we do return to some sense of normalcy.

Those episodes that Abram faced tells me that in one moment, even the chosen of God can move in faith, and in another moment, they could be doing things against God in what they believe is an effort to help God. But if we are God’s people, even in moments of weak faith, God will still keep us. And while we may be seeing people displaying weak faith during this time, they need to know that God won’t abandon them because of it. They need to know that God will be patient as they grow, even if we act as if we won’t be.

As we go forward questioning the faith of our fellow Christians, we must remember that we weren’t always as strong as we are now. But we must also remember that God didn’t keep us just so that we can shame people that aren’t on our faith level. He kept us so that we could encourage them. Know that there is a difference between encouragement and criticism. Encouragement lifts you from where you are and criticism condemns you for being there in the first place.

If there’s anything that I want the church to get from all of this is that we’re all growing in faith at our own pace. Some may not be as strong as we are. Many that claim faith haven’t really had their faith tested in this way before. And while we should be bold in proclaiming our “unwavering” faith, we should be sensitive to those that have yet to reach that level.

The best thing that we can be in times like these is an example. While some will respond well to us being instructional about our faith, many more will respond to us being exemplary. If we show what we want them to see, they’ll have more than words to aspire to. Don’t use the Bible to beat them into submission, use it to show them why you have submitted. Not only do some need to grow in their faith, but we also need to grow in our compassion towards those that are yet on their way.

You’re Still In The Running: Thank God Your Past Doesn’t Disqualify You!

In this current election cycle, as it has been in the past, there’s a lot of conversation about the pasts of the candidates. When you’re running for the office of President of The United States, you should expect that people will dig into your past, look at your voting record on certain issues believed to be critical, and even your past personal behavior to see what kind of character you have. While character and voting records are definitely things to consider when voting for someone for the supposed highest office in the land, standing firm on people’s past can be tricky proposition.

Now, I didn’t write this to tell anyone how to vote or what conspiracies they should be mindful of. I’m a preacher and I’m saved. That means that when I consider my past and where God has brought me from and what He has brought me to, I understand that we are often more than the sum of our pasts. When I see how we’re examining people based on past behavior, I can’t help but wonder, what if God disqualified me because of some decisions I made because of youth, ignorance (both willful and otherwise), and just plain ol’ rebellion? What if I wasn’t allowed to run for Jesus because in the past, I ran with the devil?

I’m reminded of Moses as I write this. When God chose him, he was a murderer and a fugitive. Even Moses thought he should’ve been disqualified, giving God every reason he could as to why God should choose someone else for this most important leadership position. But God was well aware of what Moses had done and he chose him anyway. God had to show Moses that he was more than his past decisions.

Recently after the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant in January of this year, there was murmuring about his indiscretions in Eagle, Colorado in 2003, almost 17 years before his death. In fact, it was just hours after the helicopter crash that people brought it up. Some on social media had held so tightly to his past, that they couldn’t even offer condolences to his family before they sought to remind all of what happened in 2003.

This compelled me to do two podcasts on redemption and retribution because I felt that we were confusing the two. By many accounts, whoever Kobe was in 2003 and no matter what anybody thinks he did or didn’t get away with almost 17 years ago, he was a far, far cry from that man at the time of his death. And because we believe so much in holding on to past shortcomings, I find it hard to believe that Kobe had another night like that and no one brought it to light. I’m not suggesting he was perfect for the rest of his days, but it was obvious he had changed.

I imagine what might have been had Kobe not been allowed to keep going, despite his past. It was clear that God had more for him to do. It was clear that he was more than just the poor choices he made in Colorado. And while some may think I’m defending what he was accused of, that’s not the case. I’m merely pointing out that some that have considered themselves better than Kobe was that night have committed atrocities in the sight of God and He still gave them the chance to change their lives for the better. If God won’t handcuff us to the past through an act of grace, who are we to deny people the opportunity to show that they’ve changed?

If all I ever care about is what you used to be, I may never fully come to realize what you are right now. If I’m solely stuck in where you were, I may never see how far God has brought you. And while it’s true that sometimes past behavior can predict future behaviors in our lives, I’ve listed two examples in this post alone that shows that there are exceptions to our rules when God gets involved.

The fact remains that God could easily do some fact finding in our lives. God could easily dig up some dirt on us and it would all be accurate. God could easily see what our voting record says when it was time choose between right or wrong, and He most definitely could have analyzed our character at any given moment and deemed us unfit to continue to run our race to make our calling and election sure. Instead, He chose grace. Instead, He sent a Savior.

In this climate of mud slinging and fact checking, let us remember that God has the goods on all of us. And yet, He’s allowed us to remain in the race. We haven’t been disqualified yet. We’re still in the running. In spite of our shortcomings and our pasts, we can still win this thing.

A Word of Caution: The Charges Were Never Dropped Against Us

If you know me or you’ve followed this blog, you know how I am about catchphrases in church. I do my best to combat them. I know that people wanna be clever and say cute things or things that will get them likes and shares on social media, but I always remind people that when it comes to the Word of God, clever, but out of context is still wrong. God’s Word deserve more respect than that. It should never be watered down or manipulated until it’s on par with a catchphrase.

One of the catchphrases getting traction these days in Christian circles is the statement “Jesus dropped the charges”. The first time I heard the phrase, it was in a viral video where a woman was giving her testimony. In short, she said she went to court one day, believing she had a warrant, but to her surprise, the warrant was nowhere to be found. From there, she exclaimed “Jesus dropped the charges!”, and the church went up.

I found it hilarious. I probably even shared it on my Facebook page, because contrary to what people may think when I tear down a Christian catchphrase, I love a good laugh. However, it’s all fun and games until people start taking that joke as Bible.

And here is my issue with things like “When praises go up, blessings come down”, or “Too blessed to be stressed”, things that aren’t supported by Scripture. People begin quoting them so often that they become the fabric of our churches. Combine that with people that won’t come to Bible class to see that some of these things aren’t anywhere to be found in the Bible, and you have people that will quote catchphrases as if they actually are Bible Verses. This seems like a small thing, but it can be quite problematic to the faith.

When we start leaning on things like “Jesus dropped the charges”, we fail to examine what that statement is saying. Again, don’t get me wrong. I love a good joke. As long as it stays that way when it comes to what we believe in our Christian faith. When we examine that statement of charges dropped, we must realize what that means. When charges are dropped, people go free and nobody pays a penalty. Nobody, that is, but the victim of the crime.

When charges are dropped, it’s sometimes due to a lack of evidence, and other times, people being falsely accused. In the case of the young woman in the viral video, she could’ve fallen into either of these categories and thus, the charges were dropped. However, in the case of sin, even though grace and mercy was given to us, there is no lack of evidence and we are by no means innocent or falsely accused.

A quick trip to the book of Romans helps us to understand all of this. In Romans 3:23 we find that we all have sinned and fallen short of His glory (charges filed). In Romans 6:23 we find that the wages of sin is death (punishment established). However, in Romans 5:8-11 we find that while we were sinners (guilty) Christ died for us, and through His blood, we escaped condemnation (freed, but not innocent). Yes, we got off, but not because God backed off. We got off because Jesus stepped up.

The crime of sin that you and I commit on a regular basis is a crime against God, and therefore, God is the first victim of our crimes. David says to God famously in Psalms 51:4 (NLT):

“Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgement against me is just.”

David understands his guilt and he understands who he’s harmed. He also understands that whatever punishment he receives is just. And if you know the story of David and Bathsheba, you know that even though God didn’t take his life, there was still a price to pay (2 Samuel 12:13-24). When you and I sin, we can throw ourselves on the mercy of God’s court and sometimes we won’t pay as harshly as we should for what we’ve done, but that will never, ever be because God dropped any charges against us.

As David said, the evidence is against us. We have fallen short of His glory, just as the Bible says we will (Romans 3:23). Hebrews 9:22 (NLT) tells us that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness”. This means that charges are never dropped as it relates to our wrongdoing. Somebody had to pay.

When we reduce grace, mercy, redemption, and forgiveness to mere catchphrases, we minimize the work of the cross. We minimize the sacrifice that Jesus made for us by taking our place on the cross. He who knew no sin became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) can be translated, He who did nothing wrong paid for the wrong that was done. No, Jesus didn’t drop the charges, Jesus took the charges.

Again, I’m not trying to ruin anybody’s fun, but the church must always remember what’s true. Isaiah 53:5-6 (NLT) says:

“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.”

We must remember that if everybody gets away with it, then grace is rendered unnecessary. The moment that we forget the fact that someone else paid for what we did, that’s the moment we begin to live recklessly, and that’s the moment that we become ungrateful. I hate to be a wet blanket, but in the midst of our having fun, let us never forget what was done for us on Calvary just to get a few likes, laughs, shares, and amens. Be creative, but be sound. Have a laugh, but have respect for the truth of The Word.

Hebrews 12:2 reminds us that He “endured the cross, disregarding its shame”. My brothers and sisters, there are no dropped charges for the Christian. If I can borrow another catchphrase, “Jesus paid it all”. That one fits because He really and truly did pay for our sins. The nail prints in His hands and feet tells us that someone faced punishment for what we did. Embrace your freedom and celebrate your escape. But in the midst of your celebration, never forget how you got free in the first place.

How God Dealt With A Murderer

Rev JacksonOne of my favorite contemporary Gospel songs ever is Tye Tribbett’s “If He Did It Before…Same God”. If there’s ever a sentiment that needs to be echoed throughout the church, it should be the fact that we’re serving the same God that He’s always been.

This God that we’re serving is grandmama’s God. It’s The Apostle’s God. It’s Elijah and Elisha’s God. It’s David’s God. It’s Joshua and Moses’ God. It’s even Adam and Eve’s God. He’s the same God, capable of the same things. If I were one to step outside of The Word, I might even try to convince you that He’s even MORE powerful, simply because I believe He could increase if He so desired. However, I’ll stick with what He says in Scripture, and that is that He doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6). He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

However, this post isn’t just about the awesomeness and magnitude of our God. Though He’s worthy of the praise, this post is to highlight the fact that whatever God has done, He’s capable of doing over and over again, with and through whomever He chooses. I feel it’s necessary to remind the church every now and then that throughout the existence of time, when man didn’t understand what God was doing or couldn’t comprehend how He was gonna do what He set out to do, man has often doubted the power, ability, and capability of God, and every time man has been proven wrong. He is the God of Luke 1:37. With Him, nothing shall be impossible.

As we arrive at the purpose behind this piece, we see in current events the case of Botham Jean, a black man that was killed in Texas on September 6, 2018, in his own apartment by a white female police officer, Amber Guyger. Guyger stated that she mistakenly walked into Jean’s apartment, thinking it was her own, and she shot him because she believed him to be an intruder. Jean was sitting on his couch eating ice cream when he was killed.

On October 1, 2019, Guyger was found guilty of murder. On October 2nd, she was sentenced to 10 years in jail. She could’ve received 99. During the sentencing phase, Botham Jean’s 18-year-old brother, Brandt, offered forgiveness to Guyger, and even went so far as to hug his brother’s killer. Surprisingly (or maybe not), this act of grace caused much debate, and even some outrage in the Christian community about whether or not she should’ve been forgiven, and there was even more anger about the hug. I won’t unpack all of my thoughts on that here (there will be a podcast forthcoming), but I will say that as Christians, the Bible already states what should happen. What we’re saying as a church is some cases is what actually would happen by our hands. And much of that is disheartening.

This caused me to think: How would God have dealt with a murderer? What would God do with someone like Amber Guyger, someone that killed someone that was sitting on his couch, in his apartment, minding his business and eating ice cream? How would God handle someone that killed a man who, by all accounts, was saved and living his life for Christ? Even Botham’s brother Brandt said to Guyger as he forgave her, “What Botham would’ve wanted was for you to give your life to Christ”. What would God do with someone who had done such a thing as Guyger has done?

One example that came to my mind was Acts Chapter 9. Now, before you get to a place where you say “How dare we compare this woman to the Apostle Paul”, I would challenge you to read the text, particularly the first few Verses. We aren’t talking about the Apostle Paul. We’re talking about Saul of Tarsus. We’re talking about Saul, the church persecutor. We’re talking about Saul that watched Stephen die in Acts 7. We’re talking about Saul, the Christian murderer (Acts 9:1).

What we see in the 9th Chapter of Acts is how God dealt with a murderer. He confronted him. He interrogated him. He accused him. Then, He took his physical sight so that He might give him some spiritual insight. Once He did that, He ordered a disciple to go and minister to him (Acts 9:10-18). By the time we get to the middle of the chapter, God had redirected the passion of this murderer, and caused him to go out and preach the same Gospel that he once sought to destroy.

When it’s all said and done, a man who had once murdered Christians because of their beliefs, Christians that were minding their own business and living their lives, had become the most prolific writer of the Bible we now hold so dear. Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday, and any other day that The Word goes forth in our churches, we can be found quoting, teaching, preaching, and living according to the Holy Ghost inspired writings of a man that was once one of the most dangerous men in the history of Christianity. All because God chose redemption over retribution one day on the Damascus road.

So, what does this have to do with Amber Guger, you ask? What I’ve come across in the past few days, in the wake of Brandt Jean’s passionate act of grace, are people from the pew to the pulpit that seem to want to throw this woman away. In the name of racial pride and alleged “righteous Christian anger”, people have scolded this young man for forgiving instead of being bitter because she got 10 years instead of 99. People have mocked him for understanding that forgiving is his responsibility as a Christian, and any retribution is God’s responsibility, and not his, the court or the jury’s.

What this has to do with Amber Guyger is she was shown some Christian love when everybody would’ve understood on some level if she wasn’t. What this has to do with Amber Guyger is even though she’s done something heinous, she’s not beyond saving, just like Saul wasn’t. We don’t know what God has in store for this young lady, but I assure you that if she gives her life to Christ, this will be a Damascus road moment in her life. If she’s saved behind all of this, she will no doubt look to this moment, where anger and other feelings may have been justified, but instead, she encountered forgiveness.

When God encountered a murderer on the Damascus road, He didn’t see someone that needed condemnation, even though he deserved it. He saw someone that needed saving. He saw someone that He could use. He saw someone that Christian society wanted done away with, but He decided that Saul could be used for the greater good. This didn’t sit well with the entirety of the Christian community, but I’m here to tell you that God has yet to make a mistake. No matter what anybody thought of it at the time, God was right.

All of us don’t have the testimony of being a murderer, but according to Scripture, all of us have the testimony of being on the wrong side of God and needing to be saved (Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23). In one way or another, we’ve all been where Amber Guyger may find herself right now. At a crossroads between hell and salvation. It should be the desire of any saved Christian that she chooses life. It should be our desire that she be saved. It should be our desire that she be saved without a caveat (“She can have Christ as long as she does time”). After all, most of us have been saved without having to be jailed for our crimes against God.

Now, I know what the climate is in this country as it relates to police officers and the black community, particularly our men. As a black man with 3 black sons, believe me, I’m concerned. I wouldn’t dare suggest to you that Amber Guyger shouldn’t do some time. According to the law of the land, she should be jailed. However, as a Christian and God’s preacher, no matter what I may feel in my flesh, it is my call, my duty, and my responsibility to always end up back at God and His Word. His Word says that we all have a shot at salvation (John 3:16). His Word also says that we don’t always get what we really deserve (review those Romans Scriptures again). By definition, that’s grace.

This may seem too holy and spiritual for some, but I just believe with everything in me that God is a righteous judge and He handles these things. Sometimes with 10 years, sometimes with 99 years, sometimes with no time at all. As hard as it may be sometimes, I have to trust whatever He does and in the event that He makes a decision I don’t like, I’ll have to ask Him to help me to accept what He’s done with humility and grace.

In the end, we all have a blind spot when it comes to what God does. He does things every day that we never see. That means that whether Amber Guyger is behind bars or not, God will deal with her. The struggle for Christians is in the fact that God doesn’t need our approval or input. He’ll deal with her as He sees fit. Whether she received 99 years or 99 days, God will deal with her. He will do so in the blind spot for most of us, meaning we may not ever know what was done. But if we trust Him like we say we do, we’ll know just as it was with Saul, God will be right.

Like it or not church, the same grace afforded to you, me, and Saul is available to Amber Guyger. If she chooses God behind all of this, He will receive her. And if we’re really saved, we should applaud that if it happens. As Brandt said, what we all should really want is for her to give her life to Christ. What we’re really afraid of is someone getting away with, well, murder. But I would have you to consider Acts 9:16 when God says to Ananias: “For I will show him (Saul) how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake”. I would have you to consider all of trials and tribulations that Saul suffered as Paul, God’s chosen vessel. I would argue that He didn’t “get away” with anything.

In the event that there’s malice in Amber Guyger’s heart and she’s somehow not really remorseful for what she’s done, I would have you to consider Romans 12:17-19 where God tells us to repay no man evil for evil, to live in peace with all men, and that vengeance is His and He will repay. That should comfort you to know that nobody ever “gets away with it”. They either repent or they’re punished, and believe it or not, it’s possible to repent and be punished (see David).

I would have you to consider that if Saul wasn’t too hard for God to turn around, neither is Amber Guyger. She can be saved. As a church, we should want her to be saved. We should want that more than we want her in jail, because if she goes to jail to our satisfaction, but rejects Christ, we shouldn’t rejoice. We should be sorrowful, just as we should be when anyone rejects Christ.

We should remember that there were many in the church that saw Saul as unredeemable. How can a murderer ever be on the same side as Christ? But God didn’t see it that way. He did what seemed to be impossible. He saw a murderer and He redeemed him. He picked him up. He turned him around. He used his passion for good and not evil. He saw that he had some redeeming qualities, just as we all do. And if He did it before, He can do it again. Same God right now. Same God back then.

Yes, Jesus loves me. It really is that simple!

Every now and then, we misapply the phrase “It don’t take all of that”. Many times, we’ll say it without understanding what it really does take. For example, my praise may seem a bit much to a person that has no idea what I’ve been through. However, there are times when the statement is apt. There are times when we make something complicated, when a straightforward explanation is all that’s needed.

When I was young, a staple song at Vacation Bible School every summer and even in Sunday School was “Yes, Jesus Loves Me”. This simple song was reassurance to young Christians, as well as old, that Jesus loved them. As we got to the end of the chorus, we sang “for the Bible tells me so”. In the most simple and direct terms, we saw that God’s love was evident through His Son, and the verification of that fact is found in His Word.

If God’s love can be outlined in such a simplistic way, why have we begun to make the work of evangelism and disciple making so complicated? I don’t know about you, but I’m still blown away when I read two particular passages in the Bible: John 3:16-17 and Romans 5:6-8. It’s in John 3:16-17 that I see just how much God loves me. So much so, that He gave His Son to save my soul, rather than sending His Son to condemn me.

However, it’s in Romans 5:6-8 that I see just what type of person God is in love with. It’s in those verses that I see that He loved me while I was rejecting Him. It’s in those verses in Romans 5:6-8 that I see that God doesn’t love me because of me, He loves me in spite of me. It’s a love that’s difficult to comprehend, but somehow, simple to explain.

As the church looks to carry out the Great Commission, we must be careful not to complicate why people need to come to Jesus and what it means to be saved. We must be mindful not to over market and over strategize what God has made simple in His Word. I know we desire to remain relevant in an ever changing world, but we must do so without sending out the wrong message.

We can’t cloud God’s love with a whole lot of minutia. After all, whatever we have to say about the Word of God is small time if Jesus never comes into the picture. As we often say in Baptist circles, if you haven’t mentioned the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, no matter what you have said, you haven’t preached the Gospel.

The message of salvation is centered around the fact that yes, Jesus loves us. Our Bible tells us just how He demonstrated that love. However, we have perverted the Gospel with prosperity preaching and our own theological aspirations. In an effort to show people how financial benevolent our God is or in our quest to get an education just so that we can appear to be the smartest and most spiritual people in the room, we walked away from the simplicity of the Gospel. We’ve taken an incredibly complicated love story, one that was made simple with just a few Bible verses, and made it hard to access for some people.

We have become as Pharisees, who harped on the law so much that the coming Messiah was no longer in their view. To those that were seeking salvation, it no doubt seemed impossible to be saved, because disobeying the law came with a curse. The Pharisees had the challenge of being face to face with Jesus, and therefore, they needed to be convinced of who He was. We, however, have the whole story. We know the outcome.

In our quest to be clever, we’ve complicated Christ. In our reach to be relevant, we’ve reduced being redeemed. If we’re not careful, we’ll weigh people down with rules, regulations, and religious activities, while causing them to miss the simple fact that we are saved by grace, and that grace comes from the fact that yes, Jesus does love us. If we’re not careful, we’ll attempt to exclude people from the Kingdom because they don’t dress like we do, worship like we do, sing like we do, minister like we do, or serve like we do. If we’re not careful, we’ll do our best to cause people to try and get saved according to our mandates, and not by simply believing that Jesus saves.

Again, in its simplest terms, God loved us so much that He sacrificed His Son. His Son then died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, rose on the third day, ascended to The Father, and He’s coming back again. He’s not coming back just for the rich. He’s not coming back just for those that have been to seminary. He’s not coming back just for pastors with large churches or ministries, authors with radio broadcasts, or even those that are uniquely anointed to do Kingdom work. He’s coming back for a church of believers. He’s coming back to get a people that He loves and that love Him in return. How do I know? Because the Bible tells me so. It really is just that simple.