Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

“There’s power in the blood of Emmett Till, There’s power in in the blood of Medgar Evers! There’s power in the blood of Dr. King!”–Jesse Jackson
When I read Jesse Jackson’s quote from a sermon on a recent Sunday, my heart began to burn. The next day, I attended a march in downtown Indianapolis where over 2500 people showed up seeking “Justice for Trayvon”. As I hurried out the door, the Lord instructed me to put on my preacher’s robe because He had something for me to say. I quickly wrangled my black robe (which previously I have only worn once to officiate a wedding) out of it’s bag and made my way to the rally. Within minutes of my arrival, I stood on a hill far away from the crowd and surveyed the landscape, taking in an image that mimicked the photos that so many of us have seen from the Civil Rights Movement Era. Then something surprising happened. A young pastor who I recognized, emerged from the crowd with a megaphone and began to run towards me. Within seconds, a throng of the crowd began to follow suit and within 5 minutes the whole crowd was standing below the hill looking up at where I was standing. To my right was this young pastor, to my left was an older pastor, and behind me was an Imam from the Nation of Islam and his whole security crew dressed in slick suits and red bow ties. I don’t know how it happened, I wasn’t an organizer or even a part of the event. Maybe it was the robe, but suddenly, where I was standing became the pulpit.

Since the days of slavery, the pulpit has been the ultimate place of leadership in the black community. Rooted in the reality that only Christ could set us free, our ancestors looked to the infallible and Eternal Word of God for rescue and not the temporal solutions of men. Most of all, our forefathers who endured grueling beatings from slave masters knew that even if they did not see justice in their lifetimes, there was One whose back was ripped open to purchase justice on their behalf and who would one day vindicate them: Jesus. This knowledge was sufficient to keep them in perfect peace and give them and their children strength for the generations to come. When I read the words of Mr. Jackson who went on to call Trayvon a martyr, I was stirred with Godly frustration over the fact that Jesus the martyred and RISEN redeemer, was not welcome in the conversation. Interestingly enough, He also wasn’t invited to the rally in Indianapolis. As these leaders stood and passed the megaphone, the crowd chanted with great fervor: NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE! Ministers of the “gospel” next to me delighted in stirring the crowd. It seemed as if it was almost a competition to see who could say the words that would provoke the crowd the most; recounting the years of injustices, the defiance needed for change, and the need not to be oppressed. I was grieved as I watched the unholy spirit of the gospel of ethnocentrism, throw the crowd into convulsions of zealous response.

I posted briefly on facebook about the Jackson sermon and posed the question, “Do you see what Gospel is being preached?” A friend responded that no one was taking away from the power of the blood of Jesus but rather highlighting the powerful actions that can come from the bloodshed of those who have died. However, the very lack of mentioning THAT BLOOD, the blood that was shed for not just black people, but that liberated ALL of HUMANITY from slavery and the fallen systems of this world at the very moment where people need to be reminded of where TRUE hope and TRUE justice prevails..is an AFFRONT to heaven. The blood of Emmett Till and M.L.K. JR has changed public policy and created billions of opportunities for African Americans. However, our prison system is filled beyond capacity with black males, the family unit is in shambles, our graveyards are filled with hundreds of thousands of “Trayvon’s” (many of whom’s lives were taken at the hands of young men who look like them), and literally millions of other African American lives are being cut short by their own mother’s IN THE WOMB. Due to the blood of MLK and the hard work of countless others; billions of federal, state, local, and private dollars have been spent since his death to try and break the perpetual cycles that have become common place in every low income area in America. (I have a non-profit org in the inner-city so I personally have benefited from it.) However, the SAME problems not only continue exist but seem to be multiplying and morphing with each new generation.If the branches of all this “progress” produce the fruit of the statistics in this generation, what kind of seed did this tree come from?

And racism? Oh yes, without question it still exists. Guys like Jackson and Sharpton have bounced from pulpits, newsrooms, and street corners for over 45 years calling for “JUSTICE” by articulating the real and perceived injustices of the African American experience; igniting emotions, and leading thousands to demonstrate time and again. While they have succeeded in being visible and vocal, their messages have not led to a HEALING of the HEART. Meanwhile, the substance in many pulpits has become an empty “black liberation theology” that brings a measure of social change through activism but is powerless to break the death grip of oppression that all racism/hatred is rooted in: SIN. Only the blood of Jesus can deal with that. Furthermore, this DIVINE INNOCENT BLOOD compels us not only to sympathize with Trayvon but to love, forgive, bless, and pray for our enemies (whoever we think they are..which in this case is Zimmerman). Rather than being so easily reactive when the media blows up a news event, the church should be modeling the character of Christ. What should set us apart is how we RESPOND rather than REACT in the face of being wronged.Proverbs 12:16 says, A fool’s anger is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor. Instead, many of our churches are revealing their own lack of divine wisdom by allowing our pulpits to be used to fan the anger into flame and draw us into valuing our earthly identity over our heavenly citizenship. By default, due to the historicity of the relationship between the church and the black community, the rest of the culture follows suit.

Any purveyor of biblical truth should know that racism, oppression, and injustice of any kind is not a political or cultural issue, but rather a spiritual issue. You can throw all the protests, policy, money, and time that you want at something but if it is not dealt with in the spiritual realm, it will only manifest in another form at a given time. But we haven’t been able to deal with it because the Church is the most segregated place on earth. How can we bind up and reconcile that which binds us and for which we need to be reconciled? If we who are supposed to be known by the world for our love, cannot genuinely “act JUSTLY and love mercy” (Micah 6:8) toward one another, why do we expect anything different from the fallible systems of this world? Maybe we’ve trusted in the blood of earthly Messiah’s so much when it comes to solving social justice issues that we have forgotten how the blood of THE Messiah applies? Unfortunately, when Obama was elected, a large portion of America fell under an illusion that we had crossed the river and entered into a new utopia of racial harmony and progress. However, Matthew 24:7 informs us that as we near the days of Jesus’ return, “nation will rise against nation.” Nation can be translated to “ethnos” or ethnic group. What this means is that we can actually expect to see racial tensions increase not just here in America but across the globe. In these days and the days to come, every believer black or white should be able to bring clarity in the midst of growing racial tensions because we understand the solution according to Ephesians 2:14- For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

At the rally, the microphone finally made it into my hands. They told me I had 60 seconds to speak so I encouraged the crowd of many faiths that I was there to speak primarily to the Christians. I reminded them of Ephesians 4:26 which says to “Be Angry. But in your anger, do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath (don’t hold on to your anger, but give it to God), lest the Devil get a foothold.” The crowd was silent. There were very few cheers. The mic passed and within moments, the pep rally continued. Later, the party moved to monument circle and the vow “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!” penetrated the air. That’s when I realized that the only microphone I needed was my vocal chords and that my pulpit would be every individual. So I walked through every portion of the crowd and shouted at the top of my lungs “JESUS IS OUR JUSTICE! JESUS IS OUR PEACE!” It caught people by surprise at first and I watched as many of their expressions changed from anger to silence. As if processing what I was saying and the implications of it, the words began to penetrate through the noise of the media and the leadership that we’ve become so accustomed to. I imagine that suddenly young people were getting flashbacks of their praying grandmothers whose first response in the face of mistreatment was singing a song of praise. I watched as older women began to say Amen and older men said, “Now you betta preach that!” I moved closer to the new pulpit area as those around me motioned for me to come closer and said, “Now YOU should be on that megaphone! They ain’t sayin nothin but you sayin something!” And I realized, this message is the only message that will sustain, preserve, protect, and lift us beyond any injustice, real or perceived.The Trayvon situation is merely the manifestation of humanity. Zimmerman is fallible. Trayvon was fallible. The police are fallible. The justice system is fallible. Our marches are fallible. Our policies are fallible. We are fallible. Therefore, we must preach about a blood that is infallible, a government that never fails, and a ruler whose reign is established on the foundations of Justice AND Righteousness. Our ancestors understood this in the midst of unimaginable oppression. We must REPENT and RETURN.

Jesus is our Justice, Jesus is our Peace!

–Jonathan Tremaine Thomas

After a stunning series of miraculous comeback’s, one would have to live in Antarctica to know nothing about “Tebow Time”. However If you have no clue what that is then please stop reading this right now and proceed to Google :-). One major headline recently proposed the question, “Tim Tebow: God’s Quarterback?” In response, I assert that there is little to no need for me to add to the abundant pontificating of the Tebow phenomenon (which I really haven’t followed very closely at all). However, I felt that it would be prudent in the spirit of the sons of Isachaar to offer this perspective. These sons were some of King David’s infamous mighty men who understood the times and knew what should be done within the context of those times. We are living in a time where the whole of creation is longing to be awakened and released into full contact with it’s Creator. But God sends awakening by first sending awakened ones.

I live in a city that is affectionately called “Nap-town” by those who are hip to using such language. The biblical principal of the power of the tongue has not so surprisingly caused much of the atmosphere of the city to reflect the nature of this nickname. Many discerning individuals who have lived here for any length of time can attest to the “sleepy” spirit that is on the region. While fast-paced thinkers quickly find themselves frustrated with the Hoosier lifestyle, most would defend it not so much as sleepy, but as “comfortable”. Although there are pockets of resistance, this widespread complacency has by and large given place to an apathetic pursuit of God and no real spirit of prevailing victory over the realm of darkness in recent regional church history. Moreover, it has created a city that only seems to pulsate with life around the energy generated by a winning professional sports team or a traditional main event like the Indy 500.This is not a phenomenon that is unique to Indianapolis. Without question, we could assess the spiritual climate of many cities around the nation and soundly discern strengths and weaknesses that are unique to that particular region. But what role should the sons and daughters of God play in shaping the atmosphere of a city? Undoubtedly, God cares about whole cities and His influence within them. Take for example Psalm 46:4 which says: There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. This scripture clearly points to these facts:

-There is a consistently flowing source from which we should draw most of our vitality.

-This source changes the atmosphere. The term “make” implies that this river takes the city from a state that is other than glad, and thrusts, creates, renews, or transforms the atmosphere into one of joy.

-These cities are where HE HIMSELF LIVES.

If the Holy One lives within ME and I live within this city, that means HE lives here.In light of this we have to examine ourselves and ask, how is our presence in our city/town visibly influencing the cultural or spiritual climate of our city? Using this question as a measure of the corporate authority and fruit of today’s Church in the West, i would say that we left the banks of the river long ago.As a result stadiums, coliseums, and arenas have been constructed as sanctuaries for a billion dollar entertainment industry that provides temporal distraction from the mundane and stirs us with an exciting false gladness on any given day. The Glory of divine communion, ethereal power, and mystical majesty that lends itself to eternal awe; has been willfully replaced with empirical activity, human energy, and cerebral study. As a result, many well intentioned ministries (and ministers) are filled with the very ingredients of the vitriol that causes disruption to the clarity and vibrancy with which one hears and interacts with the Holy One. Through the consistent drone of today’s depressing news feeds, lust-filled solicitations, and idolatrous celebrity worship, society is being lulled beyond sleep and into the death grip of Babylon. With a gross famine of the Word of the Lord in cities around the nation, we find ourselves as witnesses of the ancient Romans 8:19 condition:

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

It’s the longing. I would submit to you that this is why Hollywood is so successful. This why in a crushed economy, people are still willing to give their money to men in suits who write checks to men in tights. Whether it’s the woman with the “perfect” teeth, hair, body, voice, or personality in an imperfect situation on the reality tv show; the quarterback with thighs like tree trunks and a rocket arm who overcomes all the obstacles, or the baller who can leap over skyscrapers; we are captured by our longing to see divinity. In our frail condition, these “larger than our lives” individuals are the closest to Sons and daughters of God that we can imagine. Therefore we’ve built textile mills to create and mass produce not only the individuals that can be put on display to fulfill our need, but all of the accessories that will help maintain the illusion of there godlike-ness.

So back to the question. Does God have a favorite quarterback? Does He choose sides in a football game? Does the One who created the Heavens and the Earth REALLY care about such petty things in the midst of famine, war, disease, poverty, and so much abounding injustice?  My answer would be no. But He does care deeply about the longing. As a result, He will use the both the high places and the low places in our lives to reveal His Son. He will even use the foolishness of overpaid men pounding each other to get a piece of dead pig across a line, if that will capture the hearts of His beloved creation and turn them toward the majesty of the fellowship that we were designed to have with Him throughout eternity. So in His mercy, he places true sons within the  system that not only deflect the glory of man’s worship away from themselves and back to their Father through the message that they carry, but who (like Jesus) actually ARE the very message of Heaven to the generation of those who are alive in that time.  Since one of the primary characteristics of what signifies a true son in the Father’s House is his access to and understanding of the heart and mind of his dad. These sons actually know the Father’s will and are absolutely zealous for it to be done. When they get closer to accomplishing it or experience any measure of success or failure, they are absolutely zealous for the Father to be glorified.

Speaking as a true son in the house of the Lord, I believe that Tim Tebow is a prophetic sign to nations of the earth in this hour.  I think it is no coincidence that Tebow’s popularity is getting more press than Santa Clause at a time when the incarnation or First Advent of Christ is traditionally celebrated across the globe with increasingly less reverence.As a sign, God has released him  and others to change the spiritual climate of a nation and prepare the way of the second coming of Christ while Satan has released demonic sign’s like Lady Gaga to unleash the Anti-Christ spirit in greater measure. As I looked at his name on a news headline the other day, it was as if the letters of his name rearranged to reveal a clear statement to the earth: Tim Te bow= Time t Bow. God is saying that just as Tim has comeback with the Broncos in the fourth quarter and won in overtime, we are in the fourth quarter of human history approaching the Second Advent of Jesus, who in overtime will come with all of heaven on a white horse and administer full defeat to His enemies. While analysts marvel at his fourth quarter “comeback” ability,  and sociologists discuss his influence on the role of faith in the public sector, people from every nation and language are imitating his position of reverence before the Father.(tebowing.com) Whether they realize it or not, the “tebowing” pose is a manifestation of this blazing message from heaven..It’s time to bow. When the glory of God is fully revealed in the Son, there will be no more analysis, argument, debate, or controversy…just the manifestation of “tebowing” all across the heaven’s and the earth in full measure according to Revelation 14:11:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’”

We’ll among those that on saw in Revelation 7:9-10:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice:

   “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Then we will receive our full inheritance as sons and daughters and our longing will be fulfilled as we finally behold the first Son.  But  until then as God continues to release signs in the heavens and in the earth throughout 2012, let us be sober and vigilant. Pray to be like the sons of Isachaar, that we might train our sense to discern between what is holy and profane. As it was when Jesus was on the earth, let the mind and heart of the Father be in us…the sons and daughters.