Tag Archives: Grudges

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.

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Things I learned at church…

Rev JacksonSooner or later, we in the church will have to take responsibility for what we’ve done to influence the negative behavior of the world. Didn’t expect that from the Reverend, huh? Yes, we often talk about how worldly ways are creeping up into the church, and that’s very true and it’s a very real issue. However, we often fail to realize that we’re doing damage to the world as often as they’re doing damage to us. The world may not be fighting us as much as they’re fighting us back for what we’ve done to them.

The church used to be a symbol of peace, love, hope, and salvation for the wayward souls of the world. They knew where they were wrong, but they saw us as the hope that they could one day get right. But we’ve changed. We’ve blurred the lines. We’re not what we used to be. We beat on them as much as the unsaved does. We’re no longer doing the missionary work we’re called to do. Our most active auxiliaries now are The Complaint Board, The Backbiting Board, The Judgment Ministry, The “I Won’t Forgive Or Forget” Team, and The “You Ain’t Been Called” Outreach Program.

It’s true, some of the worst behaviors we’ll ever learn, we’ll learn in the church. We’re overly concerned about the world coming in and tainting us, without realizing that we’re already tainted. We shouldn’t fear the world coming in because that was actually God’s plan. What we need to do is better prepare the people that are a part of us, so that they’re able to receive the world when they come and impart Christ onto them, instead of teaching them how to fight people by using a few scriptures that they’ve memorized, but don’t understand.

With that being said, here are seven things I’ve learned from “Christians” during my 40 plus years in church. See if you can identify:

1. Some people will only follow a leader if they can lead them – In a place where leadership is desperately needed, it appears that many are actually looking for glorified sheep of their own. The problem is everyone’s an expert, but never a student. They claim to want leadership that will listen to their concerns and guide them, but what they really want is someone that they can control. And in the event that they get a leader that they can’t control, they assume someone else is controlling that person. It couldn’t be that this person is following God’s orders, and those orders just happen to be contrary to their thinking, oh no. As I’ve always stated, those that plot and scheme will always assume that everyone is plotting and scheming. I submit to you that sheep need a shepherd, and if your leader is following you, you’ll both end up lost because you’re both sheep.

2. Those that contribute the least will always have the most to say – Have you ever been having a political conversation with someone that has all of the answers for the country, but they’re not a registered voter? They give you excuses like “my vote won’t matter” or “it’s all a conspiracy”. Then why are you here in America? Why are you complaining? Church is no different. The people that contribute the least in church, whether it’s time, effort, or money, are always the ones filled with suggestions and complaints. They’re the first to tell you what to do with an account full of money that they’ve contributed little to nothing to. They’re just like people that don’t wanna pay taxes, but somehow expects the government to take care of and protect them. Which leads me to my next point…

3. People will only work when conditions are “ideal” (Which means they’ll never work) – There are people in church that will tell you that the only reason they won’t work or contribute is because “things aren’t right”. But once they do get right, they’ll jump on board. What they’re really saying is “I want it done my way and I work when I want to, not when the church needs me”. But when are conditions ideal for discipleship? When people sought to be disciples of Jesus (Luke 9:57-62, Matthew 8:19-22), He explained to them that conditions aren’t always favorable. He told them: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head”.

There is no comfortable way to serve God. It’s hard work, but the pay is out of this world! If the church must be perfect for you to work in it, I gather that you’ll never do a thing of substance there. The church doesn’t need workers to keep it perfect, it needs workers because it’s perpetually imperfect. As Jesus ended that discourse on discipleship, He said: “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God”. If God isn’t worth the sacrifice, especially when things aren’t perfect, then you aren’t worth the Kingdom.

4. Forgiveness is sometimes just a word. Some people stay mad forever and ever! – For a group of people that have been saved by a graceful and forgiving God, we sure are on short supply of forgiveness. We say we’ve forgiven and are ready to move forward, but no church member is really ready to move forward if they’re standing still (see previous point) while talking about the past and old issues. True forgiveness is about disconnecting from the past so that you can move forward. However, the first time something happens that we don’t agree with, we connect it to a 20 year old issue that we’ve allegedly let go of. There seems to be no such thing as water under the bridge. We assume that talking about it doesn’t mean we’re not over it, but I challenge that theory.

For example, if someone broke your heart years ago, but you rebounded nicely into a nice marriage with the love of your life, you don’t spend all of your days talking about your ex. You’re over it and you’ve moved on. That’s forgiveness. You remember what happened, but you don’t waste time talking about it anymore because you don’t want it disturbing your peace. You remember the pain it caused, but you’re not hurt anymore. That’s healing.

Scripture tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and the reason some issues won’t die in the church is because people keep bringing them back up and implanting them on a new generation of believers. I submit to you that if someone joins your local church and you feel it’s your job to tell them who to “watch out for”, if you mention anyone other than Satan because he’s not pleased that they’ve turned their life over to Christ, you have unresolved issues and the person they really need to watch out for is you.

5. Everyone’s a witness, but no one’s a criminal – Speaking of forgiveness, isn’t it strange that sometimes in church, everyone is owed forgiveness, but no one owes? We all know who messed up things in the church, but we fail to see our hand in it? Never realizing that even inactivity can be sinful if you know what’s right and did nothing to confront wrong (Luke 12:48). We saw what everybody else did, but it would take an O.J. Simpson-sized trial to convict us, and we’d still expect the glove not to fit. We’re so aware of everyone else’s shortcomings, but are surprised to find out that we’re guilty too.

Even as I’m writing this piece, I have my faults just like everyone else. Scripture tells us that we’ll often look past our greatest sin to see the smallest fault in someone else’s life (Matthew 7:3-5). But how much stronger would all of our churches be if we just took care of the wrong in our lives? If everyone on the block maintained their own lawns, we’d live in a beautiful neighborhood.

6. Anyone that disagrees with you is an enemy – Disharmony doesn’t come from disagreements alone. It comes from people’s inability to accept the fact that they’ve been disagreed with. Church folks are the worst at this. They fear individual thinking. They see every dissenting opinion as an attack on their own intelligence. Heaven forbid that someone has a differing point of view.

No one has ever grown without someone else challenging their thinking on their most dearly held beliefs. Even if you never change your mind and come to agree with the person disagreeing with you, it should force you to strengthen your argument. It should force you to further research your position to find out why you feel the way that you feel. And if you find out you’re wrong, you should be strong enough to own that and change.

When you have close relationships, especially the ones we should have in the Christian community, you should be able to handle a difference of opinion here and there, even if it becomes heated because we’re passionate, without having to promise to be mortal enemies afterwards. More than anything, we have to accept the fact that there’s a difference between what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s opinion. Right is right, wrong is wrong, but an opinion is how I feel about it. And we all have a right to one.

7. Many have scripture in their heads, but not in their hearts – Herein is the crux of the matter. All that we have discussed here is a matter of scripture. Not just the memorization of scripture, but the application of scripture. Even good, well-meaning Christians struggle with this one. Many people in the church can tell you what the Bible says, but they can’t always show you how they’re living it. Bible class is still the least attended of all services in the church, and that’s true no matter how large or small the congregation is. And that’s not the fault of the church (unless it’s not offered), it’s the fault of the Christian that refuses teaching.

Consider how we learned the secular songs that we love. Once we’ve committed to them, we learn them “by heart”. It’s written in our hearts to the point where if we hear a song that we grew up on 20 years ago, we not only know all of the words, but we remember all the dance steps that went with it. We don’t blandly recite them without feeling either. We apply them with emotion. The memory of such songs elicit a response. Scripture should be the same way. We shouldn’t repeat scripture without a desire to act something out. Knowing scripture is important, but living it out brings about a change in your life.


What we learn in church determines how we affect the world around us. We can’t show love in the world if we can’t show love to those that we call brother and sister. That’s even true in a secular sense. If you don’t have a sense of love for those that you call family, those outside the family have no chance. If we really want to know why the world is bringing a lack of love into the church, it may be because we keep sending people that lack love out into the world.

So what have you learned in church? That’s a rhetorical question that begs for an answer. We must remember that some of the “messed up” people in the world got messed up at church. The feeling of superiority of a few people that know a few scriptures and give a few dollars in church, but have issues with everyone in the church because they don’t live the love they claim, is crippling us.

We can no longer allow just anyone to be our voice, whether inside or outside of the church. “Jesus is the head of the church” is just a catchphrase for some people, not a mandate. There needs to be a new shift. And much of the negative that we’ve learned in the church needs to be unlearned for our own sakes.

Why is the “church” so mean?

Rev JacksonThis may not apply to everyone reading this, and if it’s not you, consider yourself blessed. But if it’s not happening where you attend, don’t assume that it’s not happening anywhere. If we’re being honest about things, the local church (not the universal body of believers) can be one of the meanest places that we’ll ever attend. Not all churches, but a lot of them. There’s gossip, backbiting, judgment, sinful behavior, and people with self-serving agendas. All of this amongst people that claim to be worshipping a loving God. All of this amongst people that claim to love everyone. How can a place established by a loving Savior be a haven for this kind of behavior?

Understand that this behavior isn’t representative of the God we serve. The reason so many people go running out of the church after being mistreated is because they fail to remember that they’re serving a perfect God amongst imperfect people. Only people that are still capable of hurting one another can cause a term like “church hurt” to become popular. But that isn’t God’s plan, nor is it His doing.

Being mean, disrespectful, or hurtful is like a disease, and any disease that goes untreated can fester and become a detriment to your overall health. Pretending that it’s not there doesn’t help either. We all know that church can be a difficult place at times, and some of us are even brave enough to say it out loud. But knowing it isn’t the same as addressing it and treating it.

How many times will we turn a blind eye and deaf ear to things happening in the church that we know are wrong? How many times will we allow those with the wrong disposition to continue on without correcting them in love? And how many times will people go running from our churches in pain, and rather than trying to fix what’s wrong, we either try to convince them to come back to a bad situation, or just let them go?

Let’s look at 5 things that I believe that are causing our churches to be mean, and one word that we can all look to in order to change it all:

1. Lack of group study – Loving those that love us is easy, but we must be taught to love everyone else. The Bible classes are the least attended service in the church, and yet our pews are filled each Sunday morning with people that claim to have a deep understanding of God and His Word, just based off of church membership. But even a 9 to 5 job will send you to training periodically just to make sure you’re still capable of performing. In the church, such training isn’t mandatory, but it’s even more necessary. But if it’s not mandatory and we don’t see the benefit, we will refuse it.

We’re quick to tell everyone that Jesus was all about love, but we don’t study Him enough to find out just who He was loving on: people with issues, people with illnesses, people with demons, and people less fortunate. He even loved people that blasphemed His name and crucified Him. And yet, we struggle to love people that disagree with us from time to time because we refuse to acknowledge that we’re all capable of being wrong.

How can we throw our Bibles at people when we don’t know it as we should? I’m amazed that we feel that we’re able to know and love the God of the Bible, and carry out His mandate, without ever spending time in His Word with fellow believers (Hebrews 10:25). In order for us to truly know how God wants us to live and how God wants us to love, we must go away from our own understanding and get to God’s understanding (Proverbs 3:5-7). If we can’t stand one another to the point that we can’t even study together, how will we ever carry the love of Christ out into a world filled with sin and in need of genuine love?

2. We don’t preach about sin anymore – We’ve become so afraid of offending, that we’ve softened and/or watered down our message. These days, no one is offended, but at the same time, many don’t know when they’re out of order. Preaching about sin isn’t to be done in order to beat the people down. It’s done to let them know where God’s boundaries are. When we fail to correct the church, how will the church ever know what is and isn’t acceptable, according to God and His Word?

The truth of God’s Word should never be compromised for the fleshly comfort of the people. There are no comfortable seats in hell, and not telling people the error of their ways not only puts the preacher in danger, but it also causes naïve Christians to go out into the world and live below the Word of God, due to a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).

When we fail to raise the bar of Christian conduct in our churches, we in effect adopt an “anything goes” attitude. If we don’t understand the sin in mistreating one another within the church, how much harsher will we be outside of it? Something we must all understand is that people that are kind in church may or may not be that way outside of it, because man can’t look at the heart so we don’t know whether or not a person’s heart is genuine. But if a person is mean in church, it is highly doubtful that they improve outside of it. In fact, they’re probably worse.

3. Our preachers are now celebrities – This isn’t all the preacher’s fault, but many times it is. For most celebrities, the primary focus is to get people to like them in order to garner support. This often means compromising their truth in order to be what the public wants them to be. Preachers must guard against such things.

If there’s anything that isn’t popular, it is truth. Therefore, it stands to reason that popularity and preaching should often be at odds. If you’re preaching in truth, there will always be a section of the church that doesn’t want to hear you. I may be old fashioned, but I grew up in a time where people may have loved their pastor dearly, but if they weren’t living right, he was anything but popular among them because of the message he carried.

Celebrity preaching goes hand in hand with the lack of preaching on sin. Such preaching may garner some people screaming “amen”, but has anyone been changed? Has anyone been challenged about their ways? Has anyone been rubbed the wrong way because what you said hit too close to home? Has anyone questioned your call, not because your theology was incorrect, but because you dared to speak God’s truth, even if it meant that people wouldn’t speak to you after?

Understand that some preachers are popular through no fault of their own. Some are naturally charismatic and that draws some people with impure motives and inauthentic praise. Some preachers are gifted with song and that draws people that have no interest in God’s Word, but they just want to be close to what they perceive to be a man-made fire.

This isn’t to suggest that any popular preacher isn’t preaching in truth. This is to suggest that any preacher that preaches to gain celebrity status and not to spread the Gospel truth of God’s Word, even if it offends those closest to them, will compromise their message. And anything that isn’t the whole truth is a whole lie, and there is no saving power in a lie.

4. The old guard fears their replacements/tradition – No one wants to move forward. People are comfortable where they are and they’ve dug in. Seasoned saints won’t engage the youth in a spirit of training and preparation to take over, and the youth are afraid to challenge the status quo. In our flesh, we all feel threatened when we think we’re being replaced. In the church, we often feel threatened when it seems that God is ushering in a new way of praise, a new way of worship, and even a new way of preaching The Word. And when people feel threatened, they fight.

Doing things the way you’ve always done it, with the same people, is a good way to stunt church growth. The arguments often come about because the next generation tends to mature faster than the previous one, which means young people may be prepared for leadership sooner than the generation before them were. This can breed resentment and animosity from older church members that not only believe more in time (how long it takes to achieve certain positions in the church) than they do in God-given gifts (something that’s beyond our understanding), but also aren’t quite ready to move over or let go. This poisons the congregation and causes infighting.

The truth is God never changes, but we do. Because we change, how we do things changes. We’re serving the same God, but generations and methods of communications change. Some traditions should remain because they are our link to the past. Some traditions keep order in God’s house. However, there are some traditions that need to change in order to keep the church both fresh and relevant. When the old guard refuses to train their replacements, not only do they hold on to traditions and positions too long, they also block the progress of the church and things become stagnant. Who can maintain a pleasant disposition in a situation like this? You either leave or you stay and become bitter.

When you refuse to let go of the position that you’ve held for 30 years in the church, God can’t give you the next assignment that He has for you. We must release this idea of being “old and useless” in God’s church. As long as there is breath in your body, God has a use for you. We should never discount the role of seasoned mentor!

5. Politics – God has been phased out in favor of factions and cliques. People that aren’t doing anything in the church have control of certain positions and certain people. If you don’t kiss up to them, they’ll sully your name throughout the congregation, even when it’s obvious that God has a call on your life. Study of The Word would show them the dangers of such things, but political people don’t feel that Bible class is as important as membership.

I stated on Facebook once that principles haven’t driven people out of the church, politics has. The idea that you need man’s approval to do anything is God’s house in a hindrance. A Holy Spirit-filled church has the ability to see when God has called someone to do a work for Him. It doesn’t matter if that person has been in the church 10 months or 10 years. If you’re filled with the Spirit, you can see God’s hand on someone’s life, and when God is ready to elevate them, you’re ready to receive them.

When we look at the world we live in, politics are only used to push certain agendas and often to crush the voice of people that supposedly have no power. It’s also used to cause divisions and create anger and animosity among the people. Is this how God wants us conducting ourselves in the church? Does God want us so political in church that we drive more people away than we draw? Politics are designed to control the actions and thinking of people. Aren’t we supposed to be under God’s control?

So what do we need?

If there’s anything that’s made us mean in the church, not only has it been bringing all of these worldly attitudes and attributes into the church, but it’s also been our comfort level with these ways. However, acknowledging one word can help us to rid ourselves of these things: Accountability. We have to stop letting it go. We have to stop saying “That’s just them, they’ve been like that for years”, because if that’s true and we’ve said nothing, we’re partially responsible for who they are. We have to stop pretending that we don’t see it. We have to stop pretending that we aren’t hurting.

We must get back to being Bible-based, and not agenda driven, because agendas can and will clash. God’s Word is steeped in His way of love and His judgment. Therefore, we must remove our will from this equation and live His way.

It’s strange that we’ll sing songs about challenging the enemy, but we refuse to challenge him when he’s in our congregation. When he’s destroying the very fabric of what we are, we won’t lean on James 4:7 which tells us to resist the devil (stand on the Word of God) and he will flee. We must confront the wrongdoing in our churches with The Word and with prayer. If we can’t love in the church, then surely we can’t love in the world. It’s time for a change. It’s time for love. But we’ll never get there if we don’t address the hate and anger.

What are you really carrying into 2015?

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As we close out the old year and head for the new one, I’m seeing a lot of posts on social media and hearing a lot of talk from people about showing some people something in 2015 (usually a perceived hater or someone that they don’t like). Here’s what’s interesting about that: In order for us to show someone “something”, we would have to pray for their downfall (because God reveals our successes in His own way). Most times, we want to prove something to people in authority or people we perceive to be above us, whether they deserve to be above us or not. But in order to prove it to the point that they’d actually care, the person we’re proving it to would have to suffer loss. In this scenario or mindset, if they’re to see your elevation, they’d have to be beneath you. However, there’s a catch to this manner of thinking.

Successful people don’t really worry that much about other people’s success. They’re too focused on what they’re doing to try and “prove” anything. They’ve already proven it. And know that success is relative. To some, it’s money and possessions. To others, it’s a happy and healthy family. To some, it’s a great relationship with God. And there are still yet some that see having all of these elements as success. Either way, to truly be successful and be right with God, we can never wish for our success in someone else’s failure.

To take this a step further into the spiritual, blessed people are so busy basking in God’s blessings, grace and mercy, they have no reason to wish ill on anyone in order to feel more blessed. They realize that such an attitude can cancel out God’s blessings. I know that Scripture tells us that God will make our enemies our footstools, but we need perspective. Everyone that disagrees with you or won’t do what you want them to isn’t necessarily an enemy, and thus, God won’t make them your footstools. Some disagreements are just that. Disagreements. We don’t have to use these small differences as an emotional launching pad into the next year. Your desire to be a better you for the upcoming year should have nothing to do with proving anything to anyone other than you.

Scripture also tells us that it is the prayers of a righteous man that availeth much (James 5:16). What that means is that you must be righteous in your prayers to receive God’s blessings in their fullness. You can’t go into 2015 or any day in any other year with so much animosity towards your fellow man that you wish failure upon them in order to be elevated. This is the enemy’s plan to keep us at odds with one another. Once we know who we’re fighting, we can stop fighting one another. Once we realize that no matter who’s against us, God is for us (Romans 8:31), we’ll realize that it isn’t worth it to wish ill on one another. Just know that God can’t be for you if you’re against another one of His children. He can only be for you when you know who your real enemy is (Ephesians 6:12)!

We simply need to walk with God into the next day and the next year. Let Him do the promotion and demotion. Let Him do the planting and removing of people from your garden. And most of all, if you have ill will toward your fellow man, ask Him to remove it, not for 2015, but ask Him to do it right now!

The lesson here is that it’s alright to wanna come up, but you should never want for your come up to be at the expense of someone else’s downfall, whether it be through your actions or your wishing. We often list the things that we claim we’re not carrying into the New Year, and all the while, if we have this “I’ll show them” mindset, we’re carrying anger, bitterness, grudges, and a spirit of revenge. We want to destroy others because we feel destroyed by the fact that certain relationships didn’t work out. However, Scripture also tells us that when we set traps for other people, whether physical or spiritual, we are actually setting those traps for ourselves (Psalms 35:7-8). Something to keep in mind as we plot emotional revenge on the people that we feel have wronged us in 2014.

What God has for you really is for you, and He doesn’t have to downgrade anyone to upgrade you. Just a reminder in case you see yourself coming up in the next year, but you also see your “enemies” climbing too. Don’t be confused. God’s got enough for all of us.

So we know who you’re rooting for in 2015. The question is, who are you rooting against, and how do you expect God to bless that mindset?