Welcome to the P.J. (Pastor J) Sound Theology Blog

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Politics, Politics, Politics

The only way you could not be somewhat informed of the current Presidential campaign is if you have been spending all of your time under a rock somewhere in the desert. As for me I have been following the Presidential race somewhat closely, and I am constantly amazed at the negativity surrounding the Democratic nominee. He has faced criticism's from people of all racial backgrounds, genders and occupations. Over the past few months we have seen the media play Pastor against politician, civil rights activist against congressman, and has succeeded in showing how divided our country still is from state to state and door to door.

I mention this not to just focus on the division of a country or the negativity that this campaign has brought to light but the determination of Mr. Obama and his family in the face of so many obstacles. Mr. Obama feels that the country needs to change, and many agree that he has a call on his life to bring such change about. As we continue to focus on our Spiritual foundations we can use the example of Mr. Obama as one of courage, destiny, and determination.

Understanding that when you are firmly planted in your calling and focused on what has to be achieved you shall not be moved by negative persons no matter who they are. We can even look at the example of Jesus.

Our scripture of focus today is taken from Matthew 16:21-23

21 -22Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be raised up alive. Peter took him in hand, protesting, "Impossible, Master! That can never be!"

23But Jesus didn't swerve. "Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works."

Even Jesus had to go through enormous amounts of pain and suffering so that his calling and purpose could be fulfilled. If Jesus had to endure all of this it's only fair to believe that we will have our share of trials and tribulations also. We must be like Jesus staying focused on God not on others or on human distractions. We too must be like Mr. Obama and know in our hearts that we have the power to make change happen. We must also remember that there will be rainy days and storms ahead as well but understand that we can endure.

Today think about the negative forces in you life and what you need to do in order to remain focused on being who God has called you to be in the midst of persecution.

Rev. Jon McCoy always reminds the St.Mark family of the trials of all Christians by asking the question "Must Jesus bear the Cross alone and all the world go free? No there is a Cross for everyone, indeed their is a Cross for me."

Indeed we all have to pick up our cross daily and march on, I pray that you march on boldly no matter what obstacles you may face. We must do things differently, No More Of The Same...
Until tomorrow Love Pastor J.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Spiritual Foundations

Life can really be hard at times, especially when you feel all alone like no one else understands you or can relate. Yesterday we talked about why God chooses sinners and imperfect people like us and Moses. Prayerfully we came to the conclusion that imperfect people can relate to and help imperfect people. That through common situations and trials we can all encourage one another to be better, do better, and look to God for strength.

This is where I feel led to lead us today, focusing on our Spiritual Foundations. A wonderful hymn of the church is called How Firm A Foundation and the first versus reads like this :

How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

I love this song because it gives me strength daily. When I feel that life is unfair and too hard. During the times that i feel alone and it seems that my sister, parents and friends don't have a clue to what I'm going through I remember this song knowing that I can always find refuge in Jesus. Truthfully more times than not my world seems crazy with so much going on and many distractions. So I find myself constantly reflecting on songs like this.

We can even revisit the scripture from yesterday and look at Exodus 3:5 " Then he said come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." and vs 12 " He said I will be with you: when you have brought this people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain."

Looking again at this scripture I understand further how awesome and great God is. God knew Moses and knows us. Therefore even though God has called imperfect people to do impossible task through lives filled with stumbling blocks in a world of uncertainty. We are able because we go forward on holy ground. We are able to make it, to cope , to adjust, to get back up and continue on, because God says God will be with us, showing God's greatness by enabling everyday people like us to do extraordinary things. God uses us to show all the world how great God is.

Today, remember that when life seems to hard to bear we are not alone but are planted firmly because our Spiritual foundation is in God. So wherever we go we are on holy ground because God is with us.
Simply put God is.... Love Pastor J

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why would God use me?

Good morning all, this week I want to focus on our Spiritual foundations. You know thinking about why we are Christians, what makes us special and whats our true purpose, and what empowers us to change the world.

I know that's a lot, but that for the entire week. We can start today by just asking ourselves why would God want to use us. I often ask God, why was I called to the pastorate/ preaching? Out of all the people in the world why was i given theses gifts and set aside to be used in the way? What are your God given gifts and talents, how have you been called to be of service by God?

Why you, and why me? Why not someone more perfect, or smarter, or wealthier or more prepared?

Todays scripture of focus comes from the book of Exodus chapter 3:1-12

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ 4When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 5Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ 6He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 7 Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’ 11But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ 12He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.

Here we see the call and commission of Moses. Like us Moses is an unlikely leader, he was adopted, and now confused to whom his loyalty should be with the Hebrews or the Egyptians. Moses was currently on the run for murder and is now married shepherding his father-in-laws-sheep. Moses had a lot going on and was truly an imperfect person and unlikely leader just like you and I. But god choose Moses not despite all that he had gone through but because of all that he had gone through.

In life we will all have issues, trials and tribulations. But theses issues (for lack of better words) make us stronger, more compassionate and understanding. Moses was truly able to relate to the plight and struggle of the Hebrew people even though he was raised as an Egyptian. Moses knew what it was like to be oppressed even if not physically.

All of us won't suffer from poverty, or addictions, everyone won't have dysfunctional families or abuse issues but because of our imperfections and our trials we all can relate to the struggles of another. We like Moses are called to respond when we see and hear God calling us to be leaders and agents of change in the world.

Why Moses, Why me, why you? Why not? Who better than one who understands? There is a world of confusion and hurt, who better than you and I to be agents of healing and menders of brokenness to our world.

God called Moses through a burning bush, take today to focus on how God is calling you. We don't to be perfect to work for God we just need to be willing and God will take care of the rest. Yes there is a call on our lives, the real question is are we willing to respond?

Love Pastor J.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What would they say?

I must first apologize for not posting yesterday but I was experiencing technical difficulties with th internet, so I'm posting this morning which usually I won't do.

As our week closes I would like us to end our reflection on decisions by thinking about how others vies us and the decisions we make. Not our parents or family but the people who pass us on the street, or freeway, in the stores or classrooms, at the parties or the club. What would they say about you? Would they say you make good and wise decisions? Would they say that you model the way a Christian should live? Would they be surprised to find out you are a Christian, in the workplace or next door at you neighbors home?

Today's text comes from Matthew 16:13-20

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ 14And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ 15He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ 16Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ 17And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Christ asked the twelve who do you say that I am? This question was answered by them twelve because of the decisions and actions they had seen Jesus make and carry out. They have walked and talked, even lived with Christ. This is why Peters confession comes straight from the heart. imagine him saying Jesus I know you and truly you are the Messiah, I know by your decisions, by your life.

What are others saying about you? What would they call you? What would they say? As some of you are leaving for college and venturing off to new places remember how important your decisions are in your life of course, but also those around you who are watching needing to see a Christian's example. There is a world of brokenness, I pray that your decisions and indeed your life will serve as actions of healing and mending living as we represent Christ on earth.

For those of you that are off to school, God's speed and know that I'm praying with and for you.
To all, talk to you on Tuesday, Love Pastor J.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Has God Blocked it?

I know this is a strange title, but Kurt Carr has a gospel song out called God Blocked it. The song is actually really good and is about how through God's mercy our just punishment or what we really deserve is withheld from us. Maybe Psalm 124 can explain it a little better:

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
—let Israel now say— 2if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
when our enemies attacked us, 3then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
5then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
Blessed be the Lord,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
8Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

Have you ever made a horrible decision, that you now know was wrong and not thought out? Have there been times in your life where you know God protected you in the midst of your bad decisions? Times when you know things should have worked out worse and you could not explain it, times that God blocked you from getting your just due. If you are yet to experience times like these, just keep living.

But I have a feeling that most of us understand where I'm coming from. Because God is... Gods mercy prevails among us even when we really mess us. Psalm 124 is a Psalm of David and tells us how God is with and protects God's people even when they should have died and met their demise at the hand of their enemies. God protects us also in good decision making and our bad. We must trust that God will place a hedge around us shielding us from the chaos of the world everyday when we leave our homes until we return.

Today, please focus on Psalm 124, and just give God some praise like David for keeping you and I all the times that things did not have to work out so well. Praise God today that even when times were or seemed bad that they were not worse.
Talk to you in the morning, Love Pastor J.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How disciplined are we really?

You know the things that you do that no one else knows about, I Mean No One else knows about. Why do you do them? Would you do them if everyone could know? How would you feel if your Parents, Spouse, Employer or Pastor found out? Are you ashamed of or depressed after you do them?

A good friend of mine Rev. Ricky Georgetown once made this statement "After you do whatever you do in the dark, run to a mirror and ask Jesus if he enjoyed it too." The truth of the matter is that Jesus is always with us- because GOD IS... always in our midst. So then the deeper question is why are we ashamed of things before our family, co-workers and church members but not in front of God.

I encourage you to look back over Romans 12 today and meditate on the presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice part, being holy and acceptable. Ask yourself why is it that you consider your behavior acceptable to God, and if you don't maybe it's time to think about changing some things. Maybe we are not as disciplined as we think we are?

Until tomorrow, may God be with you ALWAYS. Love Pastor J

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Does it even matter?

Day in and day out Christians all over the world are mentally asking themselves the same question. Does what I do really matter? Well the apostle Paul would say, yes. That every decision you makes not only effects you, but also your relationship with God through Christ and the entire body of believers. Today's Scripture of focus comes from Romans 12:1-8

Romans 12

12I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

As you go about your day today remember that as a Christian your body is a temple on loan from God, treat it accordingly not just for your benefit but for the betterment of all Christians. YOUR DECISIONS DO MATTER, every decision you make can be life changing. Remember there is nothing wrong with a little sacrifice and well thought out decisions. Love Pastor J.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Decisions, decisions, decisions....

Greetings everyone, I pray that your weekend went well and that you will have a blessed Tuesday.

Last week we discussed kindred living, and this week I would like us to look at how we handle and make tough decisions. If you are anything like me you have to make difficult decisions everyday. But most of us don't have to make decisions like Shiphrah and Puah.

Todays scripture of focus comes from the book of Exodus 1:8 and 15-17.

8Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 15The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16‘When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.’ 17But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live.

Just as simple as that a new king has taken control over Egypt who did not know of Joseph and all that he had done. The Hebrew people are great in number and the Egyptian king feels threatened. So he calls the midwives (they assist in the delivery process of the babies and also in nurturing the children) and tells them to kill the male children. Everyone who knows how things work in Egypt would know that when the king says do something you do it right or die.
But these two women feared and knew God, therefore they made the decision to go against the king, and not kill the babies, even though they knew it could cost them their lives.

The question for today is how much risk are we willing to take for what we believe in? Are we willing to risk our lives for our faith and our God? Are we even willing to risk our reputations, jobs, friendships, or even inconvenience ourselves for our beliefs?

Everyday we make some good and some less than good decisions, how many of them are made with God's will in mind?
Today as you go about making decision after decision ask yourself what is God's will during the process.
Talk to you tomorrow, love Pastor J

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Questions only we can answer: How FaithFul are we?

Let's end out the week with some questions of ourselves.

The scripture for focus and reflection today comes from Matthew 15: 24-28 "21 -22From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, "Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit."23Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, "Now she's bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She's driving us crazy."24Jesus refused, telling them, "I've got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel."25Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. "Master, help me."26He said, "It's not right to take bread out of children's mouths and throw it to dogs."27She was quick: "You're right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master's table."28Jesus gave in. "Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!" Right then her daughter became well. (the message)

After reading this scripture we must ask ourselves, how persistent are we in seeking Christ. When others would dismiss us do we still yell for God. Even when it would seem as though God has not heard our cries, prayers and suffering. Do we still remain faithful and seek God?

When we look at how the woman humbled herself and threw her ego to the side saying that the scraps off of god table were enough to heal her daughter. I ask the question are we that humble? Are we that transparent and real before God? Are we that faithful to ourselves, our loved ones, and all who we say that we will pray for and love?

I know this is a lot to think about on a Saturday morning but take sometime during the day questioning your faithfulness and checking your ego at God's door.
Love, Pastor J

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bache Ball Anyone?

Have you ever played bache ball? If you have not the object of the game is to have different players toss a ball as close as possible to a predetermined object. The players choose balls of different colors and attempt to toss their ball closest. After all the players have went the player who's ball is closest to the object wins.

Well some players use well thought out strategy and try to hit others players balls, which pushes them further away from the target leaving the strategic players ball closer.

When I think about the game of bache ball, I realize that's it's similar to life and Christianity. We all desire a close relationship with God. I assume that as Christians we all start off seeking to get as close to God as possible. But sometimes we are overly strategic, we think too much, and especially in the church we began to believe that as long as we are closer to God than the other person we are o.k. This is the type of thinking that makes us rationalize putting others down, pushing others out the way, talking about people, gossiping and even worse behavior.

This week we have focused mainly on Kindred living, for today I would like us to look at the story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph brothers were jealous of him, and his relationship with their father. So after dropping him in a pit, they sold Joseph into slavery. The brothers believed that with Joseph out of the way they would then be closer to the father. We too act like Joseph brothers and have even had others treat us like Joseph was treated by our families, our friends, and our churches.

Therefore the scripture for meditation today is Genesis 50:20 "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." (NASB). Joseph speaks to his brothers after the death of his father giving them forgiveness and offering peace.

We are called to do two things:
1)Be careful not to knock down others in order to make ourselves look better. There is a saying that if I have a light and you have a light, me blowing out your light does not make mine shine any brighter.
2)Be able to forgive those who knock us down, and push us aside for their own glory.

As you reflect on Genesis 50:20 today ask yourself how you have been like Joseph brothers and examine what you need to change to prevent that type of behavior. Also reflect on times when you have been treated like Joseph and think about who you still need to forgive. Take some time today doing this reflection because neither are as easy as they seem.
Love Pastor J

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Good morning all.
Toady I ask the question have you ever been lied too by a friend? Have you ever been disappointed or argued with a a sibling or parent? Have you ever been hurt in a relationship?
Chances are that we all have experienced theses different emotions and situations throughout our lives, and if you haven't just keep on living.

The truth is when we feel betrayed and hurt, we want to lash out and get revenge. We want to hurt others and make anyone close feel our pain, or we resolve to retreat into a shell of distrust and loneliness. Promising to never love or let anyone get that close to us again.
Both of these actions are hurtful, wrong and opposite of what God would have us to do. God is the ultimate healer and reconciler.

Lets focus today on Psalms 133 as the scripture of direction.
"How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.
3It is like the dew of Hermon,which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life for evermore.

God calls us to be healers in a world of brokenness, and broken relationships. We must be rectifiers in a society of backstabber's, and unifiers in world where each is out for their own no matter the cost.

In today's text the psalmist knows that God's will is for us to live together in unity and love with our fellow man. For there the Lord gives blessings and even life forever. Instead of snapping off on someone today, tell you love them. See how you can effectively impact the world by being pleasant and acting as an agent of unity today.

Whatever issues you are struggling with today let God come into your life today and be your mender of brokenness. Always remember anyone can be a friend when things are going well but it takes a true agent of healing and reconciliation to be a friend in times of brokenness and trial.
Love Pastor J

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why reality T.V.?

This morning I am driven to reflect on the question of Reality T.V. What's our fascination with Reality T.V.?
Last night while channel surfing I ran across Baldwin Hills, I love Money, New York goes to Hollywood, from G's to Gents and theses are currently airing shows. Truly I must admit to having watched all three seasons of Flavor of Love, I've seen too many episodes of College Hill and even more main stream reality shows like the Bachelor, and Wife Swap.

The variety of reality shows prove that this is not a racial phenomenon but a cultural one as Americans. Last night I found myself drawn to these characters and wanting to find out what will happen next, curious about the drama or doom coming up after every commercial break. Hours can go by and we still sit glued with our eyes to the television sets waiting for the next fight, argument or elimination. As if we were watching waiting for a train wreck to occur.

I argue that we invest ourselves in the lives, trials and tribulations of others on these shows and today I ask the question why?
1)Is it that in our daily lives we face so much stuff and mess that we look to the t.v. to make our lives seem more bearable and normal?
2)Are our lives so boring and redundant that we must look to others lives for excitement and action?
3) Or do we as a society lust so much for the emotional downfall, destruction and pain of others that we need to see persons make fools of themselves, fight, argue and cry night after night?

I'm reminded of the movie Gladiator starring Russell Crowe. There is a point in the movie when the crowd is screaming after a match for more death and more blood, when Russell's character Maxims ask the question; ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? I believe that sometimes we get so caught up in the action of reality t.v. but also the news and life in general that we began to have a growing thirst for constant entertainment. The trouble is that this entertainment comes at two cost .
1) The cost of others because it does not matter whom is hurt or harmed as long as we are entertained.
2). The cost of ourselves, because we invest so much of ourselves into this lust for entertainment we forget about whom we should be invested in.

Yesterday we focused on Psalms 139, which spoke about how God made us so wonderful and fearfully. How we are divine. Well taking that a step further today I would like to remind us of Paul's words in Romans 12 vs. 2 "Don't live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect." (NIV)

Brothers and Sisters, as Christians we must be mindful of the influences we invest our time and ourselves in. Just because the world says something is acceptable does not mean God says the same. Now I'm not saying that we should never watch t.v. or listen to the radio but I am saying that as Christians we must set a different bar of acceptability. Meaning that we must be careful of what we invest in and spend majority of our time doing. As we are Christians we must be different than the rest of the world.

Let me know what you think?

As you focus on Romans 12:2 today think about how others know that you are a Christian, and can tell it by how you live.
Be Blessed today, and remember God is...
Love Pastor J.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I know that you are wondering, why a blog?

Well, in our fast-paced internet, text'n, instant gratification world we must find newer ways to relate to one another. We as Christians must still continue learning, sharing and telling others our story along with God's story. Using sound theology, real world issues and concerns always arriving at the basis of Christian thinking that...

God is ALWAYS.

God is always in the mist of our daily lives

God is always active and present even when we don't understand trials, tribulations and circumstances.

God is always in us, that even in our sin we still hold divine attributes.

and that God is Love....

Therefore on behalf The St. Mark UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship) and Myself (Pastor J) we invite you to log on daily and read, comment, interact, and ask questions as we use our theology to make sense of our world and our daily encounters.

For today focus on how you see God in yourself. Use as a reference Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (NIV)

Peace be with you all today as Children of the God who always is...
love Pastor J.