Sunday, July 27, 2014
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
My heart really went out to the patrons of Chicago when I saw the PBS frontline special THE INTERRUPTERS about violence interrupters (ex. gang members, incarcerated, social activists, etc. etc.)
It was really eye-opening: I mean not that I needed a PBS documentary to underscore the brutal fact that we've had a kind of a genocide in our own country that has been largely ignored because of the economic and social failures of Chicago -- but sometimes we all overlook things right in front of our face.
And being an acclaimed Christian -- someone who claims to base his life off the teachings, workings, and person of Christ -- it made me re-evaluate a Jesus who could be the ULTIMATE violence interrupter, who I MYSELF have overlooked more often than not.
You see, what makes these people, these violence interrupters, so impactful to the community is -- that they've been there. They don't just sympathize, they EMPATHIZE. They are ex-gang bangers, drug dealers, prostitutes, hustlers -- they don't just talk the talk they've walked the walk.
Jesus Christ is claimed as many things by Christians: He is claimed to be "King of the Jews", the "Jewish Messiah" according to the Jewish Scriptures (...because if one remembers, Christianity was originally just a radical sect of Judaism -- Jesus and the twelve apostles were all faithful Jewish men).
He is the "Lamb of God" sacrificed for the sins of the world. "The Alpha and the Omega" according to Revelation. The first of many "brethren" according to the epistles of Paul.
But most importantly and all encompassing of all these attributes ... He is God made flesh (John Chapter 1).
No matter what else Jesus is or was, He is that, God in the flesh, as proved by His resurrection as a historical event, in actual human history ... that anyway is the Christian claim.
So let me add a title to the "King of the Jews", the "Lamb of God", the "Son of God", "The Word made Flesh" -- with the divinity of the God-man being the common denominator of them all His titles.
Let me call that title of Jesus "the God of the streets."
What do I mean by this, well let me break it down, assuming that Yeshua bar Joseph, the 1st Palestinian Jew, was in fact God, here's what we could infer as God being human in this human:
-God was born into poverty: He was born to a "mason" and a home-keeper, probably a brick layer and carpenter, hard labor in any century, but especially in primitive history, where the most sophisticated tools were a wooden hand mallet, large nails, rope, mud and straw (...there was no Wal-Mart or Lowe's back then ...).
-God was born into a large family: Some say that Jesus had anywhere from 6-12 siblings, including his older brother James, which Joseph had from a previous marriage, who was a doubter of his brother, but later one of his boldest proclaimers and followers. Jesus probably felt the responsibility and need to look out for all his brothers and sisters growing up, just like many people on the streets feel.
-God was born a minority: God was a poor Palestinian Jew in ROMAN OCCUPIED Palestine ... and as most people have educated themselves by now, He didn't look like a Swedish rock star, but had brown, olive, Middle Eastern skin and black hair (most likely). Romans ran things, everyone else either walked in step or were trampled under foot, God was basically a second hand citizen in his hometown.
-God left his family, who He loved, and trade for a social movement, i.e. love for humanity: God was all about bringing forth "the kingdom of God" which was God being expressed through individuals with open hearts to the power and grace in their life. "My prayer is that the love you have for me will be IN THEM, and that I MYSELF WILL BE IN THEM." (John 17-20-26)
-God was essentially homeless during his social movement: "Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
-God was misunderstood and sometimes abandoned by his family and friends, being isolated from everyone save "the Father" during some of His most difficult times, and God felt grieved, alone, and abandoned at times : "His mothers and brothers came to gather him and He said 'My mothers and brothers are those who do the will of God' " ..................... "and He said to his disciples, 'I'm grieved to point of death, stay up with me and watch.'" He came back and they all had fallen asleep, and he said disappointedly, "Could you not even stay awake with me for one hour", and "he sweated blood" ...... On the Cross: "My God my God, why have you forsaken me."
-God healed people, spoke truth and encouragement to people, especially the most down cast in society, people with pores and sores and black spots on their skin, prostitutes, tax collectors, He was called a 'glutton and a drunk' .... "I came for the sick, not the self-righteous in their own mind."
*Essentially God did ALL OF THE ABOVE, to save humanity, or as this recent book by Tony Hendra puts so well "He came to reveal the GOD in humanity, and the humanity in GOD." [Messiah of Morris Avenue]*
Now if that is someone who can't empathize with someone on the streets, GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, who AS A MAN was poor, homeless, loved, healed, befriended prostitutes the downtrodden and the sick, was misunderstood by times even by those He LOVED MOST ... preached love and truth, ESPECIALLY when people didn't want to hear it and needed it most.
God of the streets who "didn't entrust himself to man, for he knew what was in a man." YET knowing what was in mankind, LOVED, HEALED, PREACHED and EVENTUALLY DIED FOR AND BY the very people he came to save (....I.E. EVERY HUMAN BEING WHO EVER EXISTED) ....... if that MAN, that GOD can't relate to someone on the streets, He, "the God of the streets" .... no one can.
He knows what you're going through little thumper, street bumper, lady lumper ... He knows what you're going through little hustler, flexin' muscle, feather ruffler .... put down your guns and pick up your cross, just like He did .... spread love, stop hate ....... if someone strikes you don't STRIKE BACK, and DON'T STAND DOWN -- if you face evil TURN THE OTHER CHEEK, and STAND YOUR GROUND -- that's strength, that's God, that's Christ, the God of the streets ..........
Let God bless others through you, and God will bless you through others, just keep your eyes and hearts open.
Read about Christ, the "God of the Streets" in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and stay encouraged -- "Keep your eyes on Jesus (NOT Jay-Z or Lil Wayne) ... "look to Him He endured such hatred and scorn from sinful men (us men and women He loved and came to save!) so you will not lose heart or become faint in spirit."
The Holy Spirit, Christ Yeshua bar Joseph, "the Spirit of the God of the Streets" in you, is the only drug you need -- it's the only drug that gives life and doesn't take it .
To receive just ask "you have not received because you do not ask" .... God is the Father of ALL, whether you accept it or NOT ... He is YOUR Father ... the only question is "will you be his child?" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TcxA_7_fi8]
God be with and bless you, as He ALWAYS IS and DOES.
Monday, May 5, 2014
God be with and bless, as He always is and does,
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Sunday, April 6, 2014
This is akin to "doing nothing" as my dad says, "even doing nothing is doing something (i.e. you're breathing, you're seeing, you're thinking, etc., etc.)."
So why do I bring this up -- because it really gripes me off when Atheists say "we don't have faith or believe in anything."
As the theologian pastor Josh Harris says, "Even a belief that there is no God, is a belief about God."
I have atheist friends who have told me as a Christian that I "cannot have my cake and eat it too." Well ... ok, but if that's the case neither can you my brothers and sisters of humanity!
You can't say you don't have faith in anything -- let's say your "god" is reason and scientists -- great tools for and of the Lord by the way in their proper dynamic -- but you have faith, your faith is in scientists and their experiments.
I am sure very little of you when you "accept" a scientific discovery or report do the experiment yourself -- or understand all the science and formulas for this or that theory -- maybe some of you do, but if we're being honest, atheists take reports of scientists, and science "articles", if you will, on as much faith as believers take into account the universe (science included) as evidence (NOT proof -- evidence) for God.
So let's find some common ground .... we all believe something -- even if we believe nothing, we believe something (like alluded to above) .... so my dear atheistic friends, fellow creatures, and beloved human beings made in the image of the Creator who "desires all men to be saved and come unto a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4) Let's call a spade a spade -- you have as much faith as we do ... you have as much faith that there is no God as believers have that their is one it's still FAITH -- a belief -- just like believers.
And you have a 'god' too -- your god is man's reason and science (both gifts of God properly used -- by the way -- man doesn't even create anything at an elemental level -- all rudimentary and fundamental building blocks of the universe and life we are totally dependent on from other forces of the outside ourselves -- so who is responsible for all the life sustaining forces that keep the universe and life on this planet going? It takes a lot of faith to believe that all came from "random" chance) -- so you have JUST AS MUCH BELIEF as believers atheistic people -- it's just placed in other 'gods'. But please my friends and brothers and sisters, COME OFF this pseudo-veiled concept of "not believing anything" because as I have tried to demonstrate, "not believing anything" is still believing something.
And why did I bring this up? To just stir up a semantics debate -- no -- but because whatever you believe, politically, environmentally, fundamentally, or as I'm speaking -- theological -- has to work out for you in real life.
If you believe something just to believe it (Atheism, Christianity, Islam, Jedism ... and no I didn't badly butcher Judism ... I meant Jedism based off Star Wars) that is not good. If you can't question or be open minded about your faith to the point of discussion and challenging your beliefs, then you have to question if what you believe in is really worth believing in -- but don't fall in the other trap either of being too open minded as my grandpa says "don't be so open minded that your brains fall out of your head."
So that being said the reason I am a Christian is because it works for me in real life -- one of the most fundamental questions for human beings is "why is there suffering" especially in the context of an all good all powerful deity?
Everything I have to say on this vein is borrowed, but also sprinkled with my own sentiments. To me personally, and that's all this is -- is a PERSONAL opinion (gleaned surely off my many influences, but my opinion in the sense this is what and why I stand for Christ).
To me, if there is a God, all powerful, all good all loving who in His very essence IS love as we Christians claim to believe -- then there are only two answers to suffering, (1) either God should take it away, because He can, OR (2) He has to redeem it by glorifying Himself and honoring the person enduring the suffering like gold refined in fire, coal burnt into diamonds, or the pruning of a tree for more fruit -- the cuts and burns of life must lead to an ultimate end.
Christianity promises that ..... not only so, but in Christianity God HIMSELF who ALLOWS suffering SETS the example ..... God Himself becomes a poor, homeless, man, heals the sick, befriends the lepers and prostitutes, saying tax collectors are closer to kingdom of God then those who are "religiously" righteous in their own eyes .... He is misunderstood by His own family and best friends .... often isolated, probably sometimes depressed .... but always ULTIMATELY submitted to the Father's will, for "He and the father are one." (John 10:25)
He not only undergoes all this suffering, taking upon Himself all the challenges and hardships that life has to offer, but is KILLED by the people He came to save (i.e. ALL of us ... the people of the world).
Think about how wild this is, this man lived 2000 years ago, he never wrote anything down and He is the most influential man in history -- He was poor homeless, only preached for three years, and people from Sir Isaac Newton to Katy Perry have been influenced by this man and every one inbetweeen.
Christianity, whether you agree with it or not, is the largest religion in the world. This religion is based on a man who claimed to BE GOD, nothing less -- and whose followers believe as A FACT, the historical event of the Resurrection of this man who is God, Jesus.
If you were a poor, homeless man, and told people to love each other, and lived your life and claimed to be God do you think that you would have 2,000,000,000 followers -- TWO THOUSAND PLUS YEARS LATER -- who believed that (A) you were God and that (B) you rose from the dead after becoming a human being and living on earth for 33 years as a real historical event ......... I know I wouldn't!!! I only have 2 followers on this blog (.......and one is an advertisement, thanks Chris, you're my only true friend!)!
Just from a rational standpoint, even if I wasn't a Christian, there HAS to be something to this religion -- it is so radical even from Islam and Judaism which it shares 90% of its beliefs in (again from my personal opinion and study).
BUT that 10% is Jesus, the man, BEING God -- that is a CRAZY claim and yet it is the NUMBER 1 religion worldwide, let that sink in to you no matter what you believe and try to think who else in history, as many great men and women as their have been has had as much impact on the world as -- AGAIN -- this 1st Century Palestinian, poor, large familied tradesman (probably a bricklayer/carpenter) JEW (who DEFINITELY looked more Arab than Swedish ... sorry folks), who never even wrote a book -- preached for 3 years -- never wrote anything down, and was hung on a Cross -- how did this guy get people to STILL believe He was God about 2.18 billion (almost a THIRD of the world's population) to this day, and why hasn't anyone else EVER even come close to this? Just something to be pondered in my opinion.
Whatever you believe has to work out in real life, I can say the nicest and truest things about Jesus and be a real asshole in real life and that ruins all my credibility, and EVEN worse it is a poor representation of the TRUE Jesus who gave his life as a ransom for the world (i.e. you me and everyone we know and has ever existed or will exist .... wow) ....... and equally there can be an atheist, who "hates" Jesus (or says he hates Jesus) and yet is very loving and kind and follows the GREAT COMMANDMENT to "love your neighbor as yourself," better than his Christian friends. An "anonymous Christian" as Karl Rahner would say.
We will all be judged by God, so there's not much point in arguing about what comes after ..... all we can do is keep lovin, keep pluggin ..... the rest is in God's hands (whether we like it or not).
And I urge you to look to Christ who is always with you, and within you whether you want to acknowledge it or not God's presence is like oxygen and gravity -- it permeates all of creation at all times whether one is conscious of it and acknowledges it or not -- "know and embrace the truth" that God is love, and His love is the foundation of ALL creation of ALL time "and it shall set you free." (John 8:32)
Christ be with you all (atheist or believer ... EVERYBODY ... EVERYWHERE), as He always is,
Peace, Love, Blessings,
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
"Pity the fool who thinks the boundaries of his mortal mind are the boundaries of God the Almighty. Pity the ignorant who assume they can negotiate and settle debts with God. Do such people think God is a grocer who attempts to weigh our virtues and our wrongdoings on two separate scales? Is He a clerk meticulously writing down our sins in His accounting book so as to make us pay Him back someday? Is this their notion of Oneness? Neither a grocer nor a clerk, my God is a magnificent God. A living God. Why would I want a dead God? Alive He is. His name is al-Hayy--the Ever-Living. Why would I wallow in endless fears and anxieties, always restricted by prohibitions and limitations? Infinitely compassionate He is. The name is al-Wadud. All-Praiseworthy He is. I praise Him with all my words and deeds, as naturally and effortlessly as I breathe. The name is al-Hamid. How can I ever spread gossip and slander if I know deep down in my heart that God hears and sees all? His name is al-Basir. Beautiful beyond all dreams and hopes. Al-Jamal, al-Kayyum, al-Rahman, al-Rahim. Through famine and flood, dry and athirst, I will sing and dance for Him till my knees buckle, my body collapses, and my heart stops pounding. I will smash my nafs to smithereens, until I am no more than a particle of nothingness, they wayfarer of pure emptiness, the dust of the dust in His great architecture. Gratefully, joyously, and relentlessly, I commend His splendor and generosity. I thank Him for all the things He has both given and denied me, for only He knows what is best for me." [Shams, Elif Shafak, FRL, p. 180-181]
"It was as if I had no more fear left inside me. One way or another, I didn't care. I was determined to dedicate what remained of my life to God. Whether this would be for a single day or for many more years to come did not matter." [Desert Rose the Harlot, Elif Shafak, FRL, p.230]
"Sometimes it is necessary to destroy all attachments in order to win over your self. If we are too attached to our family, our position in society, even our local school or mosque, to the extent that they stand in the way of Union with God, we need to tear those attachments down." [Rumi, Elif Shafak, FRL, p. 240]
Saturday, March 8, 2014