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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Ultimate Connection!

We are almost toward the end of the year- 2011 is around the block and I pray that you are closing out this year preparing for a new one with open arms!

We can take courage from remembering that God takes our efforts and blesses them, bringing results far richer than anything we can possibly imagine — and certainly far beyond any specific outcome we might narrowly envision. Therefore do the best you can with what you can and dismiss what you can’t do forget about what others would want you to do and just focous on God, family and you! Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish far more than we can ask or imagine, to him be glory.-Ephesians 3:20-21 (NRSV)

Dear God please help us to rely on you and trust in our ultimate connection this upcoming year through our ever growing relationship. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Keep Walking, Keep Talking

James 1:19-27
Listen to the Word and Do What It Says
19 My dear brothers and sisters, pay attention to what I say. Everyone should be quick to listen. But they should be slow to speak. They should be slow to get angry. 20 A man's anger doesn't produce the kind of life God wants.21 So get rid of everything that is dirty and sinful. Get rid of the evil that is all around us. Don't be too proud to accept the word that is planted in you. It can save you.

22 Don't just listen to the word. You fool yourselves if you do that. You must do what it says.

23 Suppose you listen to the word but don't do what it says. Then you are like a man who looks at his face in a mirror. 24 After looking at himself, he leaves. Right away he forgets what he looks like. 25 But suppose you take a good look at the perfect law that gives freedom. You keep looking at it. You don't forget what you've heard, but you do what the law says. Then you will be blessed in what you do.

26 Suppose you think your beliefs are right because of how you live. But you don't control what you say. Then you are fooling yourselves. Your beliefs are not worth anything at all.

27 Here are the kinds of beliefs that God our Father accepts as pure and without fault. When widows and children who have no parents are in trouble, take care of them. And keep yourselves from being polluted by the world.

Friends, I believe that this scripture speaks for itself. Therefore my prayer for all of us is that daily we move forward walking, talking & living the word of God. Not just listening.

Be Well, P.J.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Resentment or Forgiveness

Thank God it's Friday, for many around the world today begins the weekend and Friday is met with great joy and promise. As I reflect on the week and all that has happened, my mind continues to wonder to Florida where this week a tragic shooting event happened during a School Council Board meeting. Unless you have been out of the country you probably heard about this story. I bring it up because the person who interrupted this meeting seemed so angry, so upset, so fed up and full of resentment for his family's situation. I realize that life is hard and at many times unfair. However if I have to choose between holding on to resentment or letting go and forgiving, I choose forgiveness 100%. Harboring resentment in our hearts and lives will eventually kill us. Today's scripture speaks to forgiving and letting go.

Matthew 18: 21-22 (NRSV)
Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? As many as up to seven times? Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!

Rather than resenting those who wrong us, we need to love them, and we can express our love by blessing and praying for them. We do this because Christ loves us; and we do it for His sake, because we love Him. What's that you say, bless and pray for those who wronged us? Yes! We ask God to bless and have mercy on those who hurt us, we must wish good things for them, time and time again. If we can't bring selves to do this then that means we are still holding ill feelings of resentment toward them. So I say to you friends today choose forgiveness over resentment and start today.

God today help us to forgive, even those who have hurt us so deep. Amen.

Be well this weekend, P.J.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Who Can? God Can!

Leonard Ravenhill (1907–1994), a British evangelist, once said, “The greatest miracle God can do today is take an unholy man out of an unholy world, make that man holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” After I read this today I began to think about my life and the CHURCH. This is exactly what God does for us as the church and as individuals.

When we find ourselves overwhelmed, down and out, forgotten, lonely & hopeless we ask ourselves how can we get out, who can help us. Well God can and God will if we allow God to do so! I find strength in the words of Leonard Ravenhill, but I find even more comfort in the words of the Apostle Paul found in 2nd Corinthians 5:16-20

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view,* we know him no longer in that way. 17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,* not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Who can? God can change loneliness into happiness, sickness into healing, brokenness into wholeness. Who can? God can! Try God our for yourself, be made new!

Holy Spirit we pray that you would work through us in our lives and situations. Help us to be the new creation of God! Amen.

Be Well, P.J.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Watch What You Say- Speak Love & Life

This morning I woke up thinking about all the things we say and do that hurt one another. One episode of Sid the Science kid (my nephews favorite cartoon) reminded me of my grandmothers saying "that sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me". I used to agree with Sid and my Grandma when I was younger but as an Adult, African American Christian male I know the statement is false. Words do hurt, sometimes even more than sticks and stones! Words can be filled with hate, and used to control others emotionally, mentally and socially. Words can lower self esteem and be used as a form of abuse. Therefore as Christians we in the words of recording artist T.I. need to WATCH WHAT WE SAY! Let's look to scripture for clarification:

James 3 (Message)

When You Open Your Mouth

1 -2Don't be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you'd have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.

3 -5A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

5 -6It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

7 -10This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue—it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

10 -12My friends, this can't go on. A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don't bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don't bear apples, do they? You're not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

As James reminds us, we all will mess up and trip up. I know that you get upset and want to tell people off or give them a piece of your mind. However Friends I encourage you to Watch what you say, today speak nothing but love & life! Remember words do cause pain.

Loving God help us to speak life, and love to all despite how they come at us, enable us to watch what we say as we represent you. Amen.

Be Well, Love P.J.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When you know Better, Do better!

So today brings a new group of joys, concerns unknown issues. Despite what the world gives us today, we know who God is and as those who know God we know better. Because we know better we are required to do better!

Today's text speaks to it better than I can let's look:

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8:6-8)

We who know the love, word, and grace of God must allow ourselves to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. As those who know better we must do better!

Dear God, guide us always in our minds, hearts, and through our actions. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Be Well, P.J.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Earn 2 Give

John Wesley said "Earn all you can, Save all you can and Give all you can!"

If you know me then you know I like to read, learn and I'm a news sponge. I wanted to share a CNN story and scripture with you.
Today's Scripture Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, "prompt to do it") giver [whose heart is in his giving]." 2nd Corinthians 9:7- This scripture comes to mind was I read this story and my heart was moved to tears. for reflection is "

The new hungry: College-educated, middle-class cope with food insecurity

Come Christmas dinner, Rolanda McCarty, a 36-year-old single mother, usually goes all out.

Her table last year featured a rosemary-and-oil rubbed turkey and a sweet ham. She prepared fresh collard greens according to her grandmother's recipe. The dessert -- a rich butter pound cake -- was made from scratch.

But after being laid off from her technical recruiting job in January because of the struggling economy, there will be no fancy holiday feast, no family members pouring into her downsized one-bedroom apartment. She will rely on what she has: canned vegetables and microwavable meals from her community food bank. "It was a little bit embarrassing," said McCarty of accessing the food pantry at the Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry for the first time last month. "But you know, I have to do what I have to do to survive."

It is perhaps around the holidays, a period of celebration often centered on food, when there is no clearer reminder for many once middle-class families of what life used to taste like. McCarty, who is college educated and served in the Air Force for four years, describes herself as "an independent person," who earned $38,000 a year before the economy took a turn. But McCarty, along with millions of others, represents a growing group of middle- and working-class individuals who are "food insecure," which means they have difficulty feeding one or more of their household members at some point last year because of a lack of money.

Today, thank God for what we have, and remember for the sake of others to EARN all we can, Save all we can, Give all we can All the time we can! I have been so blessed, I must give all that I can. Our society seems not care but as Christians we must, I will!

Be Well, P.J.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What's on your page?

I remember in elementary school the 1st time I saw how invisible ink worked, I thought it was so cool. The mere concept that you could write something secret that only one special person could decoded and not your teacher was profound. I saved my taking out the trash money and immediately brought a set of invisible ink pin set and began to send such top secret messages as "do you like me" the boy next to me smells like onions, and can we play at recess". Those were the good ole day's but in reflection today I understand God to reveal Godself in the same secret way! GOD writes on the pages of our lives in INVISIBLE INK, WHAT'S on YOUR PAGE?

Jeremiah 29:10- 14 10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Family God knows what we cannot yet see, wait until the season of revelation, stay the current course of faith and let God work work.

Dear God, keeps us as you have kept us this far by faith and transform us into the servants you require in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Love, P.J.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Take care of yourself...!

As I grow older and more mature my tolerance for nonsense has lessened and my awareness of my own health has heightened. I know that God wants all of us to take care of ourselves, but now I feel the need to personally take better care of myself in all ways. So I have decided to do just that, when it comes to my physical, mental & emotional health. Todays reflection comes from Paul's 1st letter to the Church at Corinth:

1st Corinthians 10:29-33 (NRSV) 29I mean the other’s conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgement of someone else’s conscience? 30If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.

God want's us to take of both our Spiritual and Mortal bodies, friends today I simply say take care of yourself, guard yourselves, do good, do no harm, and stay in love with God. Let's honor God by taking care of all that God has given us. Amen!

be Well, P.J.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ask God for help!

Our world has become so independent and isolated, to the point that human contact is almost irrelevant, relationships are welcome but not necessarily needed. Religious beliefs are considered a good thing morally but not really effecting the lives of the people who believe. It seems as through the advancements of medicine, engineering and medicine we have developed a go-at-it-alone culture, where we only depend on our-self. However the truth of the matter is that in life we need the help of others and especially the help of God. Our Christian journey is a race that we can not win alone, so today know that God has placed people and entities all around you to enable you along the road. All we need to do is ask, God! Today ask God for help along the way. Lets look to Paul for our scripture for reflection this morning:

Philippians 3:10-14 (NRSV)

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Friends, press on today. As you press on toward your goals know that you can't survive alone so ASK GOD for HELP! Ask God to send you help along your way.

Merciful God today our prayer is simple we just ask that you send us help along our journey. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bad Intentions?

As I sit in front of the television this morning watching CNN, stories about faulty $100 bills, Wiki leaks, Mrs. Edwards battle with cancer, Washington Democrats lobbying for tax deals, and just the massive drama of the day- my mind began to wonder. I began thinking about how many people profit off of harming, hurting, slandering others. Some people wake up with bad intentions and even find joy in harming others, emotionally, physically, socially, & mentally. As I reached the point of frustration & agitation God calmed me down through the revelation of today's scripture:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20

This scripture comes from Genesis the last chapter when Joseph is speaking to his brothers who wanted to kill him and then sold him into slavery telling their father he was murdered by a wild animal. Wow, if your life has been anything like mine then you know some people who were once close to you that had bad intentions for you. Therefore Joseph story I understand far to well, but despite the bad intentions of his brothers Joseph is not angry because he understands that God keeps us in spite of others ill-intent. Friends trust that no matter who has bad intentions toward you today, God is covering you to accomplish great things.

Dear God enable each one of us to see the bigger picture and trust in you even in desperate situations, in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Be Well, P.J.

Friday, December 3, 2010

There's Time

Christmas is almost here, and in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season people tend to walk around on EDGE. Per a telephone conversation I had this morning I say to myself and all of you calm down there is still time to get the items on your check list done. it may not happen this very instant or even today or this week but there is still time. There is indeed a time for everything and so I say pace yourselves. Do not let anyone push you to the limit, take your joy or stress you to the point of insanity this Christmas season. Take life one step at a time casting your cares on God remembering that there is a time for Everything, and there is still time for you!

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Dear God grant us peace and serenity this season, give us the strength to endure all of the pressures, pessimistic, and attitudes of the times guided by your will and living in your grace. Guard our mouths, thoughts and keep our hearts focused on you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is your worship for real?

The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish."
Isaiah 29:13-14 (NIV)

Is your worship 4Real?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holding our Heads High!

The past few weeks have been extremely hard for me, as the Thanksgiving season transitions into Christmas I reflect on the painful loss of my 1st Cousin Raymond to suicide two years ago. The pain of loosing my cousin is some baggage in my life that I have been carrying and know now that I need to let go of. I recently preached a sermon about letting go of baggage that weighs to much for us to carry and give it to God! As today is World Aids Day, December 1st, I cannot help but to reflect on the loss of life to this deadly virus. Forty million people worldwide struggle with this illness. 2.3 million of them are children, 70 plus percent are considered African, African American or Black. As I reflected the following scripture reminded me in spite of trauma, tragedy, and illness we must keep our heads high:

2 Corinthians 4:8-15 (New International Version)

8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

The Apostle Paul's words pour strength into my saddened Spirit this morning. Paul writes to the church at Corinth who is under immense strain and persecution saying don't quit, don't give up hold your heads high, because you carry Jesus, who lived, died, and rose. The Jesus we bear defeated death and can defeat all diseases, issues, problems. All of this for our benefit so hold your heads high today trusting that LIFE is at work in each one of you! For God alone has the last say so, in time of sickness, death, suicide and disease. Let others see the Christ in you so that they also may come and find strength, faith and salvation.

Loving God today we pray fore persons everywhere living with HIV & Aids, God please give the the courage to live boldly for you, the strength of Paul's words to not be perplexed or dismayed but to turn to you who is able always. Today give us comfort and peace in our lives, in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Until next time, Be Well P.J.

Friday, November 19, 2010

You are not alone!

I travel fairly often, usually I travel alone and have familiarized myself with various airport restaurants where I can dine and wait for my next flight. There was a time not to long ago when I enjoyed everything about traveling from eating in new and exciting places to watching people come and go in the airports, because there was a sense of excitement there.

That was then, after a few years of traveling all by myself, i began to grow lonely and tired. Sitting in those airports and restaurants became burdensome and dull. I was beginning to wear myself out, even though I would be surrounded by people all day I did not have any real relationships, and definitely no help. Friends I believe our life in ministry and in the church can at times prove to be the same way. We start off with energy and vigor, only to run fast alone for a short time, not realizing that if we walk slowly together we will never tire. The good news is that as Christians we are not alone, we have help, we have power, we have authority, we have comfort. Let's look to the scripture of reflection today:

John 14;11-17 "Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can't believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I'm doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I've been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it. That's how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I'll do."If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you. I will talk to the Father, and he'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can't take him in because it doesn't have eyes to see him, doesn't know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

Family, trust and know that God is with us through the Holy Spirit, take your time and allow God to give you the strength that we can not gain alone. Rest for God is with you!

Loving God, be with us!
Love P.J.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Taking Advantage of your Surroundings!

As I sit in a hotel lobby watching persons come and go, I am observing how much of a rush everyone is in. Our entire society seems to always be ten minutes late. Each person is multitasking, speed walking, or frantically pacing waiting for a slow elevator or valet to get them their car. We move so fast that we often miss the beauty of life, it passes us by. The Scenery that God has provided as well as the awesome opportunities that God has given us to help or entertain someone else. We focus so much on our own task that we can miss our chance to live out our discipleship by making a difference in the life of another. Today's text from Hebrews speaks to how we must take advantage of our surroundings, let's look:

Hebrews 13: 1-9

1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”6 So we say with confidence,“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.

Friends the writer in the text reminds us that every day and each situation we are in provides us with a chance to witness, there could be an angel in the cubicle next to yours, a person in need on the bus, a brother who needs prayer on the other end of the phone. We must take advantage of the surroundings that God has allowed us to be placed in. Let's slow down, look around, take a breath and see where we might best be used for the building of God's kingdom.

Dear God enable us to be radical minsters for you today, help us to focus on the relationships and task that matter to you. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's never too late to start FRESH!

Have you ever bitten into a newly picked strawberry, or apple? Do you remember the 1st time you wore that new pair of shoes, or choose a new hair style that seemed perfect for you! In short when was the last time you had something fresh and new? I don't know about you but I love fresh and new things, for me there is nothing better than trying something new for the 1st time or biting into a crunchy and fresh apple. It truly is something special about the freshness of things. Indeed it's something about starting Fresh, a new, over! Well today's scripture for reflection speaks to starting fresh, let's look:

2nd Corinthians 5:17
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

In Paul's second letter to the church at Corinth we find this single verse that speaks to the newness of life offered in Christ. Imagine that, a new life-actually starting over? Well that is the amazing opportunity that God through Christ provides for us! What would you forget about, not do, redo, or avoid if you could start FRESH? Friends that is exactly what God is calling us to do as we turn over our lives and devotion to Christ. Your past immediately becomes the old and you are made new, Fresh! Let's embark on a fresh journey today as we reclaim our call to discipleship and devote our lives to God. Don't you think it's time to start Fresh?

Creator God, it's you who claim and call us. Therefore we turn now to you asking you to do a new and fresh thing in us. This is the prayer of your people in Christ name Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Worrying changes nothing!

Let's take a look at today's scripture for reflection:

Matthew 6:31-34 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

This text at first glance seems impossible, what does Jesus mean don't worry. What about our bills, debt, problems with health and work? How can we not worry, what are we supposed to do? Yes at first glance this text seems impossible to see ourselves living out, but at second glance we see that this text actually makes life easier. What are we supposed to do, we are supposed to relay on God, let Christ bear the burden of our lives. We need to not kill ourselves stressing over the things in our life that we can not change! We must learn how to lean on faith, how to let go and let God!

Friends today, don't spend your time on the things you can't control, but focus on the things that you can change and that God is calling you to do. Live for the change you can promote in the world today, let tomorrow deal with itself.

Dear God thank you for today. Give us the strength to live worry free lives despite the situation, and the faith to rely on you for the provision of our needs. In Jesus name, Amen!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Desperate Faith!

Today's scripture for reflection comes from the Gospel of John where we see a father of high social and community status in a desperate situation, his son was gravely ill. Many parents have found themselves in similar situations, my father set at numerous hospital bedsides praying for me as I battled with Sickle Cell Anemia. I recall his prayers and cries to God as I experienced crisis after painful crisis. The fact of the matter is you don't have to be a parent to find yourself is desperate situations like these. Each and every day children, teens, young adults, and seniors experience life's issues. Issues of unplanned pregnancy, suicidal thoughts, dementia, abuse, abandonment, neglect and many more desperate situations. Truly most of us could see ourselves in the officials shoes seeking out Jesus. Lets look:

John 4:46-53 (NRSV)
Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." The official said to him, "Sir, come down before my little boy dies." Jesus said to him, "Go; your son will live." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, "Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him." The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." So he himself believed, along with his whole household.

The Official was indeed in a desperate situation as he was worried about his son and KNEW, that Jesus could do something about it. Even though the father was not a follower of Christ he had desperate faith! This father who had power & influence in the world could not help his son, but was desperate enough to believe in Jesus. We see his display of faith as he leaves trusting in Jesus words heading home. The father sought Jesus out to bring him back to see his son, upon Jesus refusal the father did not give up. The father needed a miracle so badly that he would not take no for an answer. Jesus noticed this desperate faith and provided the miracle that was needed.

Friends we can learn from the Officials display of faith. We need to seek out Christ, we should run to Jesus desperately looking for completion, giving thanks, asking for miracles and blessings. Desperate faith is will go to any lengths to hear from God, it's intense, and personal. We must be intense about our relationship with God, we need to be open and honest with God, we must not let anything distract of hinder us from our relationship with God. We must seek God desperately having the faith that God will work in our lives.

Peace be with you this weekend in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen!

Until Monday, Love

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On God's Side!

Yesterday in our Seasoned Persons bible study, the discussion centered on September 11th 2001, and it aftermath. We reminisced about how after that tragic day you saw God Bless America Signs everywhere. The question was then raised during war what side is God on? Especially when on both sides people are praying to the same God for victory and security.

Well today it's November 11th, Veteran's day. A day to reflect on those who have lived, fought and died in wars around the world involving America. Today is our chance to show love and support for our fine brothers and sisters who have given of themselves for others. As I reflect today I don't believe God chooses sides in war, I believe God loves all of us (ALL), and I think it is not about God choosing a side, but us choosing God's side. Despite how you feel about war, or your stance on certain wars the fact is that when we choose God we can't loose. Paul's letter to the church in Rome says it like this:

Romans 8:28-37

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If we choose to go with God, we won't be led astray, and nothing can separate us from that eternal love! Today, choose God.

God, thank you for our Veterans everywhere, open our minds and hearts today to choose you. In Jesus name Amen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where to start ?

Many people each day ask this very simple question, where to start? Where to start homework, company projects, beginning a diet, working on a program, driving to a destination, and even embarking on a relationship with God. Where to start when wanting to join a church or participate in a ministry. Chances are at one point or another we have all asked ourselves or someone close this question. The truth is if we don't start we can never accomplish anything, the longest journey begins with that first step. So where to start? Start everything with love, start everything with the intentions of helping and succeeding. The text I've chosen for reflection speaks to this love, lets look:

Hebrews 10: 19-25
19My friends, the blood of Jesus gives us courage to enter the most holy place 20by a new way that leads to life! And this way takes us through the curtain that is Christ himself. 21We have a great high priest who is in charge of God's house. 22So let's come near God with pure hearts and a confidence that comes from having faith. Let's keep our hearts pure, our consciences free from evil, and our bodies washed with clean water. 23We must hold tightly to the hope that we say is ours. After all, we can trust the one who made the agreement with us. 24We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things. 25Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer.

The writer of the text from Hebrews reminds us that we should have courage from Christ, not to be ashamed or timid but to take the first step. The text shows us that when we start we aren't in it alone, rather there are many on the same journey as us. We must uplift, love and hold tight to one another. Striving for success on the journey. WHERE TO START? Start at vs. 24, start by encouraging each other together taking steps in love, strides in positivity and leaps in faith. Then watch how quick you arrive at your destination.

Whatever you are questioning today, whatever the journey you are contemplating grab someone and set out on your way. Remember all living things need each other to survive. The writer of the text knew the bond of fellowship and community that new believers would have needed to survive the weight of living as an early Christian. Friends the same is true today! Indeed we need each other so let's build together and not destroy by words or actions, we can't do it alone.

God thank you for coverings us with Christ given confidence, now help us help one another as we embark on new and bold journeys to build your kingdom and fulfill our lives. This is our prayer, Amen.

Until next time, love

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Welcome to the jungle!

Reflecting on the chaos all around the world, in the Church, in our individual lives in particular and my life especially. The words of the 1987 Guns N' Roses song come to mind, the song was called Welcome to the Jungle. Here are some of the lyrics: "Welcome to the Jungle
We got fun 'n' games, We got everything you want, Honey we know the names
We are the people that can find, Whatever you may need , If you got the money honey
We got your disease, In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle, Watch it bring you to your shun n,n,n,n,,n,n,,n,n,n,,n,n,,n knees, knees!

How true the words of this song seem to me as I think about the world, Chicago and life as a Christian in general. For Christians everyday we leave the house can be a jungle experience (you don't even have to leave the house actually). As Christians we daily insert ourselves into the worldly jungle and many times it's a challenge and struggle. As I prayed today I remembered and reflected on one verse, let's look:
No trap is so strong that God can not free us from it! "if the son sets you free you are free indeed" John 8:36

Wow, this one verse in John reminds me that no matter how hectic the jungle is out there we belong to God. When Christ enters our life we are free, we may fall, fail and stumble but God's grace, mercy and forgiveness lift us again. Friends remember you can never get lost in the jungle where God can not find you. Just keep the faith, keep the fight, keep the witness and I will see you on the battlefield for Jesus.

Dear God, help us stay strong day and night, strengthen our faith and cover us with the Holy Spirit. So that wherever we go, whenever we go you shelter and keep us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

Speak with you soon,
Love P.J.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Peace be with you today!

I don't know what it is lately about Saturday's but lately my Saturday focus has been on peace. So today I want you to look at the picture and focus on the picture, in short just enjoy your day peacefully.

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18 (NIV)

Until Monday, Love P.J.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The difference is are you growing?

As a pastor I constantly run into people who ask me the question " what is the difference between United Methodist and other denominations", the second most asked question is why go to church because they all say something different? Well a person should go to church for a variety of reasons, however the church you choose to become apart of should equip you Spiritually to live in our society daily. In short the difference between the church you belong to and others should be the fact that your church is where you grow the most! You go where you can grow. Jesus wants us to be healthy and whole, to grow and bear fruit. Our text for today say's it a little better than I can, lets look:

John 15:1-8 (NIV)

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

God calls us to grow, the more we grow and are pruned, the more fruit we will bear for the kingdom of Christ. So the difference is are you growing in all ways, spiritually, emotionally,mentally etc? Despite the name on the building, or the denominational affiliation, go where you grow!

Dear God , help us to not get caught up in names of churches or preachers but to plant ourselves in good soil so that we may grow for you. Amen!

Until Next Time, Love

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Surley God is.....Working

As I reflect this morning about all that God is doing in the world, the United Methodist Church and especially Mandell, it's amazing! Everyday in the life of the church God is proving God-self to be real, relevant and active. As I look back over my one and a half tenure here I can not understand how persons question whether or not God is real? Surely God is, let's look at today's scripture for reflection:

Haggai 2

2In the second year of King Darius,1in the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: 2Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, and say, 3Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? 4Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, 5according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear. 6For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; 7and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendour, says the Lord of hosts. 8The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. 9The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.

In the scripture the prophet Haggai has received a word from God about the previous temple (church) it once was great, beautiful and filled with persons, things, and activities. Now it lays in waste and ruin. But God is real and speaks to the prophet saying go and tell the people to get up and work for this is God house (church) and it's time to build. Once your done this new temple (church) will be better than it has ever been!

Friends, God is real and working within us, sending us to build the kingdom. Reminding us that the silver, the gold, all is God's. Teaching us if we listen and follow the works that our church will do will be better than ever. As I listened to the testimonies shared on yesterday I was overwhelmed by the move of God in this place. Indeed my heart was strangely warmed as person after person shared how through this church they feel comfortable in there own skin, they believe in themselves and also in God, they have seen a change in the community. YES God is real and is calling us like the persons in the text to BUILD the kingdom. Are you ready? Let's get to work!

Dear God, give us a mind to work, grant us the courage to work, equip us with the knowledge and wisdom to work on your behalf in your service. Amen.

Love P.J.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

God's Grace is Enough!

There will be times when all of us fall short, there will be times when we all experience great success. On both sides of the spectrum God's grace is enough. When we are riding high and it's as if we have taken credit for our own success and are too arrogant to give God the credit.Even when we have fallen deep into sin and find ourselves letting God and others down grace is enough. Let's look to today's scripture for reflection:

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." (1 Peter 3:18a)

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." (Ephesians 1:7)

We must remember that we are not perfect but God is, and even though we may fail or fall God forgives and redeems. Why does God do all of this? Because of God's unending grace and precious undeserved mercy.

Friends go today knowing whatever you have been through, or are going through to give God the credit, and know that there is no sin God can't forgive.

Love, P.J.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Peace Be With You!

It's Saturday, the day of peace and rest. For many today represents a day off and a day of relaxation. This is a great thing, because some of us are so overworked, so burdened down that we are always mean, angry and on edge. Today's scripture reminds us of how precious and needed peace and rest our in our lives under God, lets look:

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 (NIV)

It's something about control, when we control our lives and our schedules we we make time for our spiritual rest as well as physical rest and this allows our body to rejuvenate. So keeping this short on your off day, get some rest, abide in Christ, let God rule your life and watch the peace and rest you receive.

God today, grant us grace, peace, and rest. Amen!

Friday, October 29, 2010

True or False?

People all around the world discuss and debate the validity of the bible, many persons ignore the positive elements of the church because they discredit the bible as being written by men thus flawed and not accurate. We as Christians find ourselves asking the question, can we believe the bible as being true?

Let's look to today's scripture:
2nd Timothy 3:10You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So how should we respond when we hear others claims that the bible is just man’s words with We should study so tat we can know and articulate our faith better. Remember that over a period of 1,600 years, 40 different authors wrote the 66 books of the Bible. There were 500 silent years between the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 of the New Testament. Yet, Genesis to Revelation tell one continuous story. Instead of being discouraged by the others let’s be diligent to study and share what we learn with others.

Someone came into my office today concerned asking if the bible was true of false, and I shared with them that it is true and inspired by God therefore even though written by man because of it's inspiration it can't be defiled or messed up. We must stand on our faith of Christ the solid rock and at the same time be educated and theologically grounded enough to explain our beliefs.

Dear God bless your people with the gifts of discernment and the ability to speak the truth for and about you. Amen!

Have a Safe and Blessed Weekend, Love P.J.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nothing beats being prepared, are you ready?

Each and everyday I wake up thanking God for another chance to tell someone about Jesus. They mystery is that we never know what that day will hold, we don't know what good news we will receive or what tragedy will happen. Since we don't know the future we must use the present to prepare now for whatever the day will bring. Today's scripture for reflection informs us on how we should prepare, let's look:

Ephesians6:10-18 (NIV) The Armor of God

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Friends, nothing beats being prepared! Know that when we are in a constant relationship with God we are protected by God's armor. Therefore at work when gossip and chaos fell the air, on your worst days remember you're covered. You might have to sneak away and read your bible (sword) or say a prayer but you're covered. When your relationship seems to be falling apart, school seems impossible, you're lonely or depressed, remember your are already prepared for this type of situation because you put God's armor on this morning. God's armor last a life time.

Are you ready? YES you are!

God today protect and keep us no matter what happens remind us that we are protected by faith in you, and grace that comes from you. In Jesus name we pray Amen!