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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Who's To Blame?

Early this morning I was directed to look at an inspiring video about a young man who had been shot several times and lived. He attributes his life and miraculous recovery to the hand and grace of God. The video was awesome and can be found here in it's 15 minute entirety. Like many Youtube videos people who watched posted comments, and many of them were inspirational. However one comment in particular from an Atheist asked the question why would God save this young man and not other good and innocent youth that get shot on city streets like Chicago daily. 

Here is the quote posted "I believe this story is true, and I also happen to be an atheist. This kid was extremely lucky, plain and simple. If god chose to help him because he was such a great person (15 year old punk skater, his own words), then how do you explain kids being murdered randomly in a park in Chicago like the female honor student who played at Obama's inauguration? She seemed like a good person to me, yet she is dead. Too bad god couldn't help her out..why do you think that is so?"

Since this blog/daily devotional is about sound theology, I have undertaken the task of briefly explaining this because there is a lot of confusing information about how God interacts in the world. 

First God is LOVE and God loves us. 

Second because God loves us so much, God wanted us to love him not by force but by choice. Therefore we all have free will/ the option to make decisions. 

Thirdly we can make great decisions all of our life, but the person next to us has the same ability to make decisions. They might make horrible decisions that can effect all of us. Examples of this happen everyday when someone chooses to shoot up a school or rob a bank. These things does not mean God does not love us, nor do they mean the Devil made someone do something bad. We must remember who is to blame for our good and bad decisions, as well as the decisions of others.

The biblical example I would like to offer up for refection is Genesis 3. Just like Eve and Adam no one can make you do anything, temptation is always around.

Genesis 3

New International Version (NIV)

The Fall

 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”
16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

Who's to blame in your life for the bad decisions and the negative temptations  that you have given in to ? 

Merciful God we pray that you help us to understand you better, to love you and each other more. God show us how to make the best decisions in our life and enable us to show many others how to do the same. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Be well, and be blessed Love PJ.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Refuse to let others light your short fuse! Angry Much?

Have you ever know someone that seems to live to push your buttons? Do you have anything that just erk's you, do you have any pet peeves that immediately send you swirling off the cliff of anger? Well maybe your not like me but I have a list of things that others do to ignite my short fuse. One is while driving in the car when someone cuts me off  without signaling (road rage), two while watching a movie and people tell the ending or ask questions the entire way through, and three people who gossip endlessly just to name a few. Today I am asking God to deliver me from my short fuse issues and allow me to be more patient, understanding and helpful. I refuse to continuing letting the world/ others light my fuse! If you have somewhat of a short fuse at times I invite you to join in doing the same. For encouragement we turn to James 1:19-27.

James 1:19-27

New Living Translation
Listening and Doing
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Dear God this lenten season and forevermore help your people to be quick to listen to your voice and will but slow to be angered by the world. Enable us to be sowers of your KINGDOM seeds so that you may reap the bountiful harvest of many believers of you. Hear our prayer. Amen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Investing Patiently....

As the snow is falling outside right now, I can vividly remember growing up in Chicago on many a snowy day when I would sit in the house look out the window and carefully glance over each and every one of my baseball cards. It seemed that whenever I could not go outside I would carefully prepare my baseball card collection understanding the truth of what my father had told me "son one day they will grow in value and be worth a lot of money". I could spend hours at a time looking at the cards of Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, Carlton Fisk, Mark McGwire, Deion Sanders, Larry Cox and more. I trusted my father so I paid great attention to detail making sure the cars were in perfect condition having no bends, scratches or marks. I invested time in a caring and detailed relationship with my baseball card collection knowing that if I was patient one day the relationship would payoff big for me!

As Peter is writing his second letter to the Church, in chapter 3 he is reminding them of both the importance of a patient relationship with God as well as God's patients on our behalf. Peter informs the early Church as Apostle Paul did that some will not believe, make fun of and question our faith. Our Job however is to constantly and carefully take time out to invest in our relationship with God. As people of God we know through strong faith and careful patience our investment in God through Christ will payoff!  Let's look at the text.

2nd Peter 3: 14-18

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Peter encourages us to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, because it will payoff for us.  When I was younger and the weather was bad I could always count on my baseball cards to be there and take up the time sharing in them. Now as an adult when the weather in my life gets bad I count on Christ to be there as I share and grow closer to God through him. For me, my time with Christ is the grand investment of patience and faith! 

Friends to God be the glory both now and forevermore! Amen.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Do You Trust Enough To Submit?

God has promised good to us, and all we have to do is trust God's word enough to submit to in all ways to God.  Truly submitting to God requires us to let God lead our lives, by giving up the things that are hindrances in our personal lives. This is the wisdom gained that proverbs is speaking of, we must be wise and faithful enough to trust and submit. 

Don't be afraid that this task is too much, but understand it's a daily process of growing in FAITH- WISDOM- and RELATIONSHIP with God. Are you ready to begin the process? Why not start today?


Dear God give us the courage to start the process of submitting to you, give us the strength to maintain during the process and gifts to build your kingdom. In Jesus name we pray. Amen


Proverbs 3

New International Version (NIV)

Wisdom Bestows Well-Being

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
    and bring you peace and prosperity.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
    in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is it time to move on?

Today's text is one that might be familiar to all of us, it details the anointing and appointment of David as king of Israel. Today I would like to take a different focus on the text.  Samuel and Saul were friends and co-workers in a since Saul was the king and Samuel was the prophet/priest in residence. The bible details there friendship and I imagine that they were really close until... 1st Samuel 15. 


Once Saul disobeys God due to his impatience God rejects him as king and begins to prepare for a new king. The problem is that even though God is done with Saul, he and Samuel are still friends, so of course Samuel is saddened and grieving in the beginning of chapter 16. God ask Samuel how long will he be upset and sad over loosing Saul, reminding us that there are people in our life whom we will appreciate and even love that God will move us away from like Samuel from Saul.  


Some people come into our lives for seasons,  and various reasons. There are some relationships that will last a lifetime and others a brief moment. We must stay in prayer that we can hear God speaking to us like Samuel instructing us on how we should be in relationship to.  If you are like me you have lost friends over the years and it's never easy. I have learned to trust that God is working in my life and when I loose a friend or end a relationship I still grieve but I grieve and mourn knowing that God is moving me on to better things. God moved Samuel on to meet David and eventually David became somewhat of a Mentee to  Samuel, establishing their own relationship. 


What relationships is God moving you from or to?  Whom are you grieving over? Where is God trying to move you to that you can't go because your tied down to something or someone?  These are just personal reflection questions for you after you read the text, be well today.

1 Samuel 16

New International Version (NIV)

Samuel Anoints David

1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”
Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Have you taken time out to PRAISE God today?

When I woke up this morning before I stepped outside to even let my dog out the Sun came beaming down on my face and greeted me with a warmth directly from God. As I went to the door I was immediately reminded that February is still winter in Chicago as the wind (Chicago HAWK) hit me. Despite the swift change in tempeture I began to praise God saying thank you for the warmth of the Sun and even the chill of the air because God allows us to experience both. Thank you God for the shelter of a home to protect me from the elements, thank you God for a pet to love and take care of thank you God just for being God. How about you? Have you praised God today? Despite your situation and circumstance take some time out just to praise for a moment at minimum, I gurantee it will change your day.

Today's text directs usin  the area of giving GOD praise always:

Psalm 150

New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on us today as we seek you, need you and praise you. Help us to bless you Lord at all times during the good and the bad. Let our praise become contagious and ignite a flame in all we encounter at work, at home and in the streets.  Lord hear our prayer. Amen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Digging out of a Spiritual Rut!

2 Timothy 1

New International Version (NIV)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.


I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Appeal for Loyalty to Paul and the Gospel

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

In today's text the Apostle Paul reminds young Timothy of his journey in faith. Paul starts with Timothy's upbringing in the Church through the leadership of his grandmother and mother. In verse 6, Paul reminds Timothy to "Fan into the Flame the gift of God" which is in you!  Through all of this Paul is encouraging Timothy to remember where he has come from and stand strong on what God has done in his life.   

Have you ever had a day where you felt like giving up? Have you ever been somewhere and knew you had the gifts or graces to do ministry but just didn't feel like? I imagine that Timothy was in a spiritual rut like I feel on those days. Today God is reminding you and I through this text that we must remember where we come from and all that God has brought us through. Just like Timothy God has entrusted you and I with spiritual gifts that we must fan like a flame for the glory of God! With the help of the Holy Spirit whenever we find ourselves in a spiritual rut we must pull it together because there is much work to be done. You and I already know that the harvest is plentiful but the labhorers are few. Therefore we must get to work and we can not afford a day off !

Dear God bless us on our journey through life today and entrust us with someone we meet, allowing us to share boldly your story which is our story. This we ask so that some may accept your love and salvation today in Jesus name. Amen.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Remember who's in control

Job 38

New International Version (NIV)

The Lord Speaks

 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans
    with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angel shouted for joy?
“Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
    and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt’?

Today's text taken from the book of Job provides us with a sobering reminder that God is in control, and not us. We are forced to acknowledge God's greatness and our mortality. However even in the challenge in verses 3-11 we can see the blessed good news in the passage. The good news is that we serve a God who has covered every little detail about our survival and life, then God has loved us enough to place us second in command. Wow! How awesome is that, the fact God is in control and still lest humankind pay our part.

Even more so this means that when the storms of life come raging in we can trust that God is in control. When our bills outweigh our income, when relationships end leaving us heartbroken, and when everything seems to be going wrong we can trust in our God. We can trust that the same God who halts the sea and tells the Sun when to shine is in control in our lives also. Glory be to God that God can work in and work out every situation. We must always remember who;s in control!

Dear God today let us turn to you and give you glory for your awesome creations, while at the same time yielding control over the things we cant in our life. We invite you to step in and work on our behalf. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

If it's too heavy for me to carry then I know it was meant for God to lift!

For many of us Saturday is more of a day of rest than Sunday, well it always been for my family. Even when my wife and I were younger Sunday would be filled with Sunday school, Church, choir rehearsals, youth meetings and outings. While Saturday's on the other hand were filled with watching cartoons, sleeping late, eating whatever I wanted and the occasional chore. As I grew up Saturdays have continued to be some what of a respite for me, not to pig-out or watch cartoons but a chance to retreat from my burdens, bills and the challenges of life. Saturday for me has become a hideout in the peaceful structure that is my home. While enjoying my Saturday morning I began to reflect on Jesus and how everyday Christ provides for me a peaceful place to rest in-spite of the chaotic and crazy stuff I'm going through. When I reflect on Jesus I suddenly remember that my burdens and cares are not mine to bear, therefore everyday is Saturday when we have a relationship with Christ. maybe today's devotion can explain it better than me. Let's look: Matthew 11:25-30

The Father Revealed in the Son

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I once heard this text preached, and the preacher said "If it's too heavy for me to carry then I know it was meant for God to lift" if you are tired of trying to carry God's burdens then come and drop them at the altar. Three people joined Church that day and even my heart was lifted!

Some things are not for us to lift or remove!
Enjoy your weekend. Love. P.J.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Take A Stand!

As Christians we must be humble, loving and considerate. In my opinion we do these things sometime to a fault where we find ourselves being too passive and understanding. Just because we are Christians does not mean that we allow anything, in fact being Christians should push us to take a firm approach on things that area against the will of God. I believe the main issue many people have with taking a stand is the risk of putting yourself out-there, because then you have to deal with the repercussions. We should take the example of our Christian family around the world where in some countries our religion is outlawed. In these places a person can even be killed for carrying a bible or practicing our faith. But these brothers and sisters still proclaim there love for Jesus Christ even in the face of punishment and death, that's taking a stand. We must stand up and live our faith this lenten season. What's your stance?

Today's devotion is take from the book of Ester a sister who took a stand for her people knowing the outcome could be death.

Esther 4

New International Version (NIV)

Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help

When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.
So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.
Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.

Are you willing to be like Ester and stand up against oppression? If so I encourage you to take a stand on an issue of your choice that you know is wrong or against the will of God.  I'm taking a stand against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, I know God does not want any person to be a captive in their own home on their own land!    Whats your stance?

Be Well, PJ

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's all about Love

So today is February 14th, therefore of course everyone's focus is on love single, dating, married or divorced- at some time today each of us will reflect on the love we have received and given over the course of our lives (deny it if you want to).

Because of this today's devotion is focused on LOVE! Not just Eros- erotic love but all love. Phila- brotherly love, and Agape -  all encompassing genuine love.  However you might be spending today, with someone special or enjoying life alone God reminds us that God is love and loves us. Because of God's love we are called to live our lives loving others not for our benefit but for the benefit of the world. So today we focus on 1st Corinthians and look to the Apostle Paul as he instructs us on what true love encompasses.

1 Corinthians 13

New International Version (NIV)
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Yall, today promise to yourself to live a life of love! Enjoy your day, Be Well.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Amazing Grace

Luke 4
New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.”
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

How Amazing is God's Grace? How amazing is God's grace that Jesus was sent to be tempted, tried, and tested on our behalf. Jesus being tempted in the wilderness was the start of his earthly ministry. After being baptized Christ goes to the wilderness to prepare himself for all that he must endure and encounter which would lead to him being tortured and killed on a wooden cross on our behalf to forgive us from our sins. 

God in Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us, this Lenten season God has called us to return to our Lord through making sacrifices that will strengthen our relationship with God and one another.  God has called us to give up and/or add on some things that make us spend more time in prayer, fasting, ministry, and focusing on how we can become closer to God.  Just like Jesus these 40 plus day give us the opportunity to prepare for new ministry in new ways.  Let's prepare this Lenten season to go and tell the world of God amazing grace. A grace that gives the blind sight, a grace that finds the lost, a grace that saves sinners like us! Praise be to God and may strength be to you as we enter this time of loving sacrifice.

Dear God during this time leading up to Easter prepare us for the ministry and mission field awaiting. Let us grow closer to you so that no matter what obstacles await we will be ready like Christ to resist temptation, and follow your will. Guide us as we build your kingdom and change the world. Hear our prayers and encourage us to keep on in faith despite drama, fatigue, and naysayers.  Thank you for your grace. Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jesus, the calm in the midst of the storm

If you have watched the news over the last week then chances are that you have heard about the Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph that has been adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. abc top stories I am a fan of cruising, I mean I love to take cruises. Therefore I am thankful that all of them have been very entertaining. I can not even imagine how worried and frustrated it must be for the passengers aboard the Triumph. The only correlation I could even equate is the text from Matthew chapter 8 where Jesus calms the storm.

Matthew 8:23-27 

Jesus Calms the Storm

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

This passage always reminds me not of Jesus power as God but also of Christ love for us. Knowing how frightened the disciples had to be he woke up, reminded them to rely on their faith to get them through the rocky times and calmed their situation bringing about peace. Yes God is still that good to us, reminding us to keep the faith and trust in Christ. So that our daily situations can be calmed and we can have peace also.  Whatever you are going through today on land or at sea know that Jesus can calm all of the storms in our lives! Thanks be to God, that Jesus is the calm in the midst of our storms?

Be Well, P.J.

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's My Testimony, My Story to tell!

Mark 5

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

This nameless man that we encounter in the Gospel of Mark 5, has only a story of hopelessness and bondage when he encounters Jesus.  His only name is Legion (for many 1000's of demons within him) I would also use my eisegetical mind and read into the text that this man had also physically been called many 1000's of derogatory and humiliating names. I can imagine him being call a thief, liar, killer, stupid, poor, evil, ugly, and more... The very interesting thing is that even though chains being bound hand and foot can no longer contain, even though no one can subdue him he is still living among the TOMBS/ graveyard until he encounters Jesus.  Many people today, even in the church were once chained to Sin and Death have broken those chains but still choose to live among the dead! It's only when one encounters Jesus that the real story begins as Christ begins to shift the atmosphere and provide him/us with life changing testimony.

Jesus speaks to and deals with the ISSUE in this man liberating him from the issues of the past. The people looking on can not understand the miracle that they are witnessing and choose to focus on the loss of money and possession of the pigs instead of the gain of new-life the man has just received, so they ask Christ to leave there land. 

However the man now sitting in his right mind is there with a new story, a TESTIMONY that only he can tell. He is instructed by Jesus in '19 to go to your home and be a witness for only you can tell your own story accurately. Family each of us has a testimony that we must share to those whom we encounter. All of a sudden for the man in the scripture and for us when we meet Jesus our true story begins the places like Decapolis (ten cities)  we have come from must be the places we go to reveal God's glorious grace and mercy in our lives.

Anthony Brown and Group Therapy have a song called Testimony that comes to mind when I read today's text, I invite you to listen to it: Anthony Brown & Group Therapy Testimony
If you are at work and can not listen then you can read the lyrics here: Testimony Lyrics 

Dear God thank you for your grace and mercy, thank you for coming in are lives to deal with our issues. We pray that you help us to bring your message to the world through sharing our testimony. Amen.

Friday, February 8, 2013

How can we find comfort at the time of death?

Psalm 116 (NIV)
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord
    in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.

After the first time I read this passage of scripture I became upset. I thought immediately how could God consider death so precious when we were created to have life abundantly, to be fruitful and multiply and so on. However after thinking about all of the chaos going on especially the violence in the city of Chicago lately, I truly understand.  God does want the best life for us, and God does want us to enjoy life, but God also patiently awaits our return home. Our creator God sends us out to be born into this world knowing exactly when we will return home, and I am confident that when we do return home to be with God that the moment we enter into God's presence it's precious and special! For all of us have probably experienced the death or loss of a loved one and we know to live and breathe means that one day we will surely pass on from this place. Therefore I suggest this text from Psalms 116 as a passage to look toward for comfort during the time of death. When someone we love passes on expected or unexpectedly find comfort in the fact that our loss is God's gain and that our loved one's return is so very precious to our Creator God! For this reason even at the time of death I can say PRAISE THE LORD! 

Dear God, give us strength and peace when we experience the loss of someone close to us and remind us that we all belong to you. We will never understand your mysteries Lord so help us to find comfort and trust in your word. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Be Well, P.J.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Unconditional Love & Spiritual Responsibility

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

All you have to do is ASK!

 Growing up I was very familiar with the phrase a closed mouth does not get fed. Simply saying at many times we go without and suffer because we fail to ask for what we need. (key phrase being WHAT WE NEED) Therefore today's devotion is simply remembering to pray, how to pray, and what to ask for. Take some time an reflect on Luke 11, then I invite you to enter into prayer with God. Be Well, Love P.J.


Luke 11

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Beloved all we have to do is ask in sincerity, love and faith. Then we will receive!