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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Who's Side Are You On?

Joshua 5
New International Version (NIV)

The Fall of Jericho

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a manstanding in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord[a] have for his servant?”
15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

While watching the movie Gangs of New York, there is a scene towards the end where different groups are praying to God. Each group has their own agenda and is asking God to be in their favor and grant them victory over the enemy.People all around the world pray this way daily for victory in certain areas. Some pray to win the war others pray for wealth, health or self. Many times we pray not realizing that our prayer might bring sorrow or pain to others yet we remain convinced that God is on our side.

The truth of the matter is that God remains on the side of justice, love and truth .We must always remember this as we pray. 
In the text Joshua ask whom side are you on and the reply is neither. God can not be wooed or corrupted.Therefore our job is to make sure that we are always on the right side. The right side of God and the right side of justice, love and mercy. This is a lesson Joshua quickly learned and we must apply daily.

Be Well, love PJ.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Your steps were ordered before your birth...

Your steps were ordered before your birth, have you been following them? 

Jeremiah 1:4-9 & 29:11

The Call of Jeremiah

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

Today take some time out and reflect on your life, opportunities and decisions. Take a mental picture of the course of you life and determine if you are following the path God has placed before you. If you are press forward, if your not take note of what you need to do to get back on course and do some navigational course correction.

Be Well, Love P.J.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tired of Potholes?

Psalm 32 (NIV)

Of David. A maskil.

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.[b]
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

Living in Chicago you get accustomed to the arrival of climatic winter weather followed by the pothole invasion. Each and every year navigating your way around potholes while driving becomes a sport of Olympic proportions within the city. Eventually the weather will change, the snow will melt and one day before the end of summer (most of) the potholes will be filled just in time for winter to come again. 

In today's text David is singing to God confirming how blessed he is to be forgiven and a child of God. Just like every year in Chicago I know the potholes are coming, I also know that at times I will have potholes of sin pop up in my life. David reminds us that it's God who forgives the potholes of sin in our lives, when we go to God in humble repentance. The good news is that God forgives immediately and completely, and eternally. We don't have to wait for the seasons or weather to change nor does God leave any hole unfilled.

What potholes of sin are you awaiting God to fill in your life, is today your day to invite God to come in and fill the potholes? God is the ultimate sin cover-er all we must do is call on God and ask. God is waiting!

Be Well, Pastor Sirchester

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Remaining Positive

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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. Romans 8:38-39 NIV

Remaining positive in our world is one of the hardest things to do. We live among constant pessimist, tragedy, fear and turmoil. Yet we know they we should live optimistic lives. Many of us wake up daily with the decisive mindset that "Today Will Be A Good Day", somehow between waking up and returning home events transpire that have entirely shifted our mindset, leaving us depressed and disillusioned. Knowing this we must find strength in something that enables us to still live optimistic and positive lives despite what the world hurls at us daily.  We must find something key to our remaining positive.

Our text today is taken from Paul's letter to the Church in Rome. Apostle Paul reminds us that even when the world seems to get the best of us during times when death is at our door and when we are broken, stressed or penniless it not over. To remain positive, remain convinced that even though what we see is disheartening remember that God is always with us. Because God is always with us and is never separate from us, we understand that everything we go through God goes through. Every negative and hurtful situation God is in the midst and will bring us safely through. This should remain our bedrock plumb-line to enable us to remain positive in the face of adversity. 

Because I am convinced of God's everlasting love and loyalty for me, every day is a positive one. Despite what the day may bring and even my own failures I am convinced that God is
invested in my success. Family I invite you to do the same.

Be well, love Pastor Sirchester.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Everyone won't understand!

1 John 3

New Living Translation (NLT)

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

Johns words for reflection this morning remind me that everyone won't understand or get our lifestyle as children of God. We will always encounter people on both side of the spectrum and everywhere between. We will encounter people who expect us to be perfect and others who will question our devotion to God in worship, praise and daily life. This is because as John says we "recognize that we are God's children" so there is something different about us. While we are not perfect we aspire to live a life free from sin and of love. The fact that we devote time to spend with God and abstain from things that would cause us physical or spiritual harm we still live fun and fulfilling lives. 

Today as we walk outside our homes to face the world, remember who you are and whose child you are. When others approach you making decisions about who you are based on your faith recall today's reflection, and remind yourself that everyone won't understand us or our way of life.

 P.S. Still take a moment to witness, testify or spread words of encouragement and evangelism with whomever you encounter.

Be. Well, Pastor Sirchester. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Your mind is a terrible thing to waste!

Ephesians 4:17-23 (NLT)

Living as Children of Light

17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus and is instructing them to remember who they are and from where they have come. The apostle urges the church not to conform to the popular and public acts of sin commonly committed by others but to remember the fresh truth they have learned from Christ Jesus. In other words Paul is challenging the church to use their minds and rely on their common sense to guide them in their daily lives. Brothers and Sisters we are also called to do the same, especially in a society that tells us instant gratification should be our goal. We must not be swayed by popular music, television ads nor public perceptions of acceptability. Our moral and social plumb-line must remain based in Christ.

I pray your day is unbelievably amazing. Love P.J. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Are you ready to sit at the adult table?

1 Corinthians 3:1-9   (NRSV)

3:1 And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.

3:2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready,

3:3 for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?

3:4 For when one says, "I belong to Paul," and another, "I belong to Apollos," are you not merely human?

3:5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each.

3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

3:7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

3:8 The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each.

3:9 For we are God's servants, working together; you are God's field, God's building.

Vividly I remember family gatherings and holidays with more food and deserts then could be humanly consumed by any amount of people lees than an army regiment. As a child anyone under 16 would have to sit at the children's table. Gathering after gathering as I grew older what used to be a fun experience began to seem like an sentence of incarceration. By the time I was 14 I begged my grandmother to allow me to sit at the adult table. Her reply was that I was not yet ready to take my place at the adult table. 

I had a conversation recently with a disgruntled churchgoer, whom was upset because of all of the arguments, backdoor conversations and undermining of leadership in the church.  His plea reminded me of Apostle Paul's words to the church of Corinth shared above, and furthermore allowed me to reflect on my grandmothers words in my youth. I understand Paul and my grandmother essentially saying the same thing and asking the same question. For many church members the desire to lead ministries, boards and hold positions of authority are warranted. However we must be ready to sit at as well as head those tables. 

My grandmother knew that I was not ready to sit at the adult table, not because I was not big enough or able to eat without messing up the good tablecloths. I was not ready to sit at the adult table because I could not yet productively participate in the adult conversations and issues. Paul posed the same question in verse 4, when he ask why are you fighting and arguing among one another over small issues even to the point of who is better, more accurate and most holy as it pertained to him and Apollos. Paul counts such behavior as childish in God because it is God who has called all according to God's purpose.  

Paul invites us to grow into accountability and spiritual maturity in God, by focusing on the big picture of where truth growth and order comes from. True growth and order does not come from the praise team, preacher, or Sunday school teachers. It comes from God. So why waste our time having childish fits on who is the best and brightest among our church. Instead let's decide to prepare ourselves to sit at the adult table and begin to have adult conversations as leaders of the church. Then our language will change and our love will increase. We will began to settle issues with compassion and lead in a new evangelistic and developmental way for the body of membership. Where each and every ministry has nothing but the best teachers and leaders among us, because we are all the best among us, because we are all one TEAM.

Are you ready to sit at the adult table? I know that I am. 

Dear God grant us the wisdom to come together as one body on one accord, lead us and guides us into spiritual maturity so that we can work on your behalf  kingdom building.

Be well, P.J.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Theft Protection Plan

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 97:10 NIV

In a recent conversation a collage of mine was speaking about how he has never been afraid when doing God work in the streets of Chicago. He mentioned brushes with gang members, visits into project crack houses and tense prison situations. Immediately Psalm 97 came to mind as I was reminded that as servants of God we have the best theft protection plan. In a society where we are so caught up and concerned with protecting our stuff, we purchase on-star systems for our cars, ADT security alarms for our houses, bank vaults for our money, software protection for our computers and even travel protection when on trips. When I look at it all I am amazed at how much money we actually spend on protection. "Overall, Americans spent about $20.64 billion on home security systems in 2011, the most recent figures available, according to the business research firm MarketsandMarkets. And the industry is expected to continue to grow to $34.46 billion by 2017." via http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/09/09/the-cost-of-keeping-your-home-safe I understand the need to be safe and protect the things we love, but we invest so much time and money in things that don't make us better people. God is the one who protects, loves and keeps us. Wouldn't we grow closer to God and one another while making a bigger impact on our world by investing more in the marginalized people among us.My point is that we have the power through God to curtail crime and theft in our communities but we have to be willing to sacrifice for one another and give to those in need eliminating the desire to steal for survival. I choose to put more time and energy in trusting God as my theft protection plan and loving my neighbor from this day on.

Enjoy your weekend. Love P.J.

*I understand some people steal out of greed and various other issues. This blog is only directed at those who steal out of necessity and in order to survive in society.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Good Stuff

Prayerfully each and every person takes time out often to reflect on their heritage both genetically and spiritually. However in America this month extra emphasis is placed upon the African American experience as February has been dedicated as Black History Month.

 Lately I have been reflecting on the struggles of people of color over the last 4000 plus years. I am constantly amazed at the resiliency, drive, and intellect of these people. They were indeed special and stubborn to the point of insanity, which is exactly how one would have to be in order to survive and prosper. These amazing people of color were cut from a different cloth, they were indeed made of the good stuff! 

You have to be made of the good stuff to endure death, rape, lynchings, public hangings, constant racism, poverty  and never-ending humiliation. Look at a quick list of these people who had to endure: Job, Jabez, Mordeci, Phebe, Mary mother of Jesus, Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, Pres: Lincoln & Kennedy, Gandhi, MLK, Malcolm X, Medger Evers, John Brown, Mandela,  Harold Washington, Jesse Owens, and Jesus. Yes indeed they were made from the good stuff. 

The great news is that you and I are also cut from the same cloth, we too are made with the same passion, endurance, and love as those listed above. Paul's words in the letter to the Philippians reminds us that we are made of the good stuff from God. Even though we might not see it completed in us yet, we soon will. Paul instructs us to keep on striving and working, keep on loving and enduring because our confidence and trust in God is key to the revelation that we are going to receive about whom we truly are.

Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV)

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Brothers and Sisters regardless of your current situation, the pain, loss, or suffering you are enduring now. Please remain confident that you are made of the good stuff and God is working on completing you and I. So that when God is finished with us the world will be changed and made whole.

Be Well, Love P.J.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Need For Your Lighthouse!

Lighthouses were invented out of necessity. In ancient times people would light fires along coast lines to emit light, later they began to light these fires on platforms and hills to increase visibility. Eventually the Lighthouse was built to mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous barriers and allow safe passage from sea to land, the lighthouse was needed to direct the people from the dangerous waters of the sea safely home. why is this important, lets look:

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

In today's text from the Gospel of Matthew Jesus reminds of our usefulness to God and to one another. Often times people speak of the Christian experience as one that is only purposeful when praising and worshiping God. While quite the contrary is true, God created us not just to sit and praise God but to also be a beacon of light in the darkness of the world. God crested us to be lighthouses illuminating the path to God inviting all to follow.

Therefore as Christians we have a two part call, we are called both to praise and servant hood. We serve God and each other. We stand as symbols of God's guiding light in this world because we have already been saved by God. Can you remember when you once noticed the light of another believer while you were stranded on the sea of our world. We have all at one time or another seen the light of God shining in someone or how else would we find our way home to Jesus.  I trust that if you have been watching the television or reading the news about the turmoil that our world is in, you agree that there is need for our lighthouses perhaps more today then ever before.

Today as you reflect upon this scripture recall the words and melody to the children's spiritual "This Little Light of Mine" and sing in in your heart all the day long, for you never know who is in need of seeing your light today! There is a need for your lighthouse. Be Well, Love Sirchester.

This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Oh, this little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine