All posts by markkharris55

About markkharris55

Mark K. Harris is an officer in United States Coast Guard who has enjoyed over 16 years of active duty naval engineering assignments. He is married to his beautiful wife Vanessa for 8 years; they have three children Joshua, Andrew and Hannah. They are actively involved with our church and other community based activities. Having had the opportunity to both learn and lead during his career on both Coast Guard Cutters and high level Naval Engineering units, Harris’ intention is to continue in the Coast Guard for or beyond twenty years. After that, we will reevaluate family, ministry and career priorities to determine all opportunities that might be available to us.

A Victim’s Mentality

John 5:7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 

What is a Victim’s Mentality?  It is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize or consider themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave as if this were the case in the face of contrary evidence of such circumstances.  Here we have a familiar bible story that shows Jesus healing a man in the book of John.  I truly believe that Jesus healed this man then so that He can continue to heal the mentality of many men and women today.

Now it is interesting that of all of the weeks that I would be tackling this topic it would be a week where three young business owners had the police called on them for working out in the gym they have membership; a bird watcher who had the police called on him for asking a lady to put a leash on her dog in a city park; and George Floyd who was killed in broad daylight by 4 cops (3 of which kneeled on his body to pin him down, even though he did not fight back; and 1 cop put his knee on Floyd’s neck until the man died).  In each case the victim was black, and it continues to highlight the extraordinary list of injustices and unfair treatment that so many people, specifically black people, have experienced.  Why is this interesting, especially with regard to this verse?

The man who was highlighted in this verse with Jesus was an invalid; a person made weak or disabled by illness or injury.  This man had been an invalid for some time, One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years (John 5:5).  38 years of his life had been spent with a disability; an inability to live a normal life.  In this case the inability to walk into the pool, where numerous people would go to get healed.  There are groups of people that have been made weak or disabled by systematic oppression within legal government processes and procedures.  Injustices like this produces a group of people that become victims to the systems.  However, some of these victims live life with an invalid or victim mentality because of wrongdoing by others or have otherwise suffered misfortune through no fault of their own.  Many are left feeling helpless and even unable to overcome the above-mentioned obstacles; yet it does not have to be that way.  Jesus stepped in to change the mentality of the invalid and I believe the mentality of many people today, who feel that they have become nothing more than victims.

  1. We Have Help: the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. The disabled man lived life feeling that he had no one to help him.  He needed somebody to fight for him but there was no one.  This man felt that his uphill battle was being fought alone, and like many people, when the hill you must climb seems improbable, the easiest was to attack it is NOT to.  This disabled man felt like so many underrepresented people feel today; like their fair shot in life is an unscalable mountain.  Unfortunately, the people who feel like this invalid did, think they only have two options to quit or fight.  The problem most run into is that the first option is the easiest and the second one, if not executed effectively can be extremely dangerous.  Many people across this country right now are protesting another senseless police killing of an unarmed black man.  What began as an effective fight, protesting the actions of 4, has turned into the dangerous rioting.  Which is what happens when the anger and frustration of injustice boils over.  Yet in this text, the disabled man rather than fighting, chose to quit, as he laid daily at this Bethesda pool.  It was believed to be a healing pool, where a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed in order to be healed.For 38 years he was helpless but on this sabbath day, his help would arrive.  Jesus came to Jerusalem and was given information about this man and was moved.  Jesus then raised a question to the disabled man that would forever change his life.  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”  Jesus was the help that the invalid needed and Jesus is also the help we need.  Whenever we feel helpless; our help can be found if we look up (Psalm 121:1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills– From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord).  The invalid was lying near the pool and when he LOOKED UP, there he saw Jesus, the help he longed for.  Jesus asked him, a question that every victim must answer if they want to truly break free (Do you want to get well?).  Are you a victim?  Do you want to get well?   Jesus is here to help.
  2. We Have Healing: While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me. It was believed that if the water of the pool was stirred (agitate, disturb or disrupt), then physical healing would take place.  So much so that many people needing healing would basically camp out around that pool waiting for it to be agitated.  The disabled man would soon find out that his healing would require a disruption to life as he’s known it.  Like many, this invalid placed his hope, faith and future in this healing pool or in the “things” of this world, rather than placing our trust and hope in Jesus.  Jesus showed up for this man, without him asking or seeking Jesus.  The text says that Jesus sought out the disabled man, Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time.  Can I tell you that Jesus sees you, your situation and your future; He knows your condition and not only does He know it…but He knew it…over 2000 years ago when He took numerous lashes from the Cat-O-Nine Tails which ripped His skin apart.  He knew you and yet still “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53).  Because Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, we are made completely healthy and whole.  Jesus is our healing, just as He was the disabled man’s healing; because He took upon Himself all our weaknesses, frailties and diseases.  Whatever it is we need, Jesus’ strips confirm for us that we have Healing.

We Have a Hero: 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  Like any great movie, the rise and success of the Hero is instrumental to the storyline.  In the best stories, the Hero of the story is a surprise to all watching.  The story of the healing at the Bethesda pool is no different; the Hero of this story is a surprise.  The Hero in your story will also be a surprise.  Jesus came to one of the Jewish festivals, as he normally did.  He saw this man and had compassion on him, asked the man what he wanted and then declared to this disabled man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  Jesus has said this same thing to me before, Get up!  Just like this man, I was not in the position that Jesus desired for me (Jeremiah 29:11…I know the thoughts that I think toward you…).  Jesus does not want us disabled, despondent or disappointed; His desire is for us to live His abundant life.  Jesus told the man to Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.  Here is where the Hero of the story stepped in.  I know what you’re saying, how dare you say anyone, but Jesus is the Hero.  And of course, Jesus is greater than any Superhero we’ve seen in any movie.  But I beseech you, ask Jesus yourself “who is the Hero of this story.”  The invalid with the victim mentality, who believed nobody would ever help him, stepped into the Hero role.  He heard Jesus; then acted.  Jesus did not touch his body; grab his hand and pick him up; spit in the dirt and rub it on his eyes or anything like that.  Jesus simply spoke.  Then the dysfunctional man got up from his disability; the bible says At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  Jesus spoke healing but the man had to have the Faith to believe and have the Courage to act on that belief.  Jesus’ stripes healed us over 2000 years ago and we’ve been told of our healing for a long time, but like this invalid, we have to Believe God, then with Courage act on His Word!  When we do this; we become the Hero or our story just as Jesus planned.

Love’s in Need of Love Today

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Week 4; the final week of Love’s Quiet Storm series.  We’re looking back at the infamous Love chapter that Paul so eloquently shared with the church.  The focus for today is vs 13 and for that we are hitting up a “Legendary” voice Mr. Stevie Wonder.  Stevie reminds us what we all need; Especially TODAY.  This song will be the launch point to help us relate to Paul’s lessons from 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

I believe Stevie’s 1976 statement about the need for love could not be more relevant TODAY.  The last 10 years has exposed the inner belly of hate that exists all over the world but specifically right here in the United States. (Hate’s goin’ round, breaking many hearts, stop it please, before it’s gone too far) Whether the exposure has come from the dominance of social media and seemingly everyone’s voice is able to be heard by everyone else.  Or it could be that social media which was created to bring everyone together has worked the opposite; isolating people and allowing actual interaction to no longer take place.

Stevie Wonder wrote this song in 1976.  So, I looked back at some of the top stories of 1975 &1976 to see if there was as much conflict then as now.  Inflation & unemployment was at its highest (the US was in recession); the US had just ended it actions in the Vietnam War (US actions in this global war was disapproved by a majority of the country); doctors were on strike, siting poor working conditions; and 1976 was an election year.  I would say ohh how similar!!!

While I know that Stevie is not a preacher, he certainly sent a message to the church and the world when he penned the lyrics “The force of evil plans to make you its possession, and it will if we let it  Destroy ev-er-y-body (John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy)…We all must take precautionary measures, if love and peace you treasure (Phil 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus).”

The truth is clear, especially hear at home; the US claims to mostly be a Christian Country, yet we act nothing like Christ with most of our actions.  We’ve allowed ourselves to be infiltrated by so much hate and anger that even our “Acts of Christian Love” have become incredibly distorted and politicized.  After Paul shared so much about what Love really is, he finished the chapter with verse 13; And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  The word abide in the dictionary means accept or act in accordance with; to bear patiently or endure without yielding.  While the bible defines abide as dwelling with, lodging or continuing in. So here Paul is telling every believer to allow faith, hope & love to be accepted, endure and continue dwelling in our lives.  In other words, our lives need to be filled with faith, hope & love; so much so that when others see us, they see, feel and desire faith, hope & love.  That sentiment is the same thing Stevie is requesting when he says, “Love’s in need of love today, Don’t delay, Send yours in right away!”
Are you, like me, wondering how do we abide in faith, hope & love?  Well let’s see what the Bible has to say:

  1. We Must Be Rooted in Faith: And now abide FAITH, hope, love; Paul made sure that he explained exactly what Faith was while also providing tangible examples of what it looks like: Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  The remainder of Chapter 11 of Hebrews would become known as the Faith Hall of Fame, filled with Heroes of the bible who demonstrated great faith.  They believed God for the impossible; and in each case, they were rewarded for their faith in God.  God desires that we’d all believe!!  He wants the very best for our lives so that when we need Him most, we have the faith to believe He will do it.  This requires that our faith be rooted; Eph 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love.  What I love about Paul is that he is extremely consistent in his teaching.  In both 1 Corinthians, Hebrews and here in Ephesians faith, hope & love are all linked together.  We see how important each is to the other.  In order to truly appreciate faith, we must understand just how much Christ loves  We let faith abide in us, when we abide in Christ: John 15:9As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”
  2. We Must Dare to Have Hope: And now abide faith, HOPE, love. Webster’s defines hope as “to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true.” I will lean on Pastor Joseph Prince’s definition: a confident expectation of Good; God’s Goodness happening in our lives. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that we can be confident of the plans God has for each of us; Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. God’s plan for us is that we have hope.  Peter goes even a little further to show us how to have the right mindset for hope, and where our hope should be anchored: 1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.  Our minds should be attentive/prepared and fully sober, so that we can be focused on hope, because the devil would have us be fearful and that our minds filled with everything that is anti-God (everything but God).  Also, our hope should be anchored so that it will not be all over the place (putting our hope in money, health, possession, jobs, education, parents, etc); our anchor must be Jesus Christ and His favor on our lives.  Dare to believe God is worthy of our hope.  If you don’t believe me now; check it out for yourself (1 Peter 5:10; 1 Thes 1:3; Colossians 1:27; Eph 1:18; Gal 6:8; Heb 10:23).
  3. We Must Learn How to Love, Again! And now abide faith, hope, LOVE, these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE.  Stevie Wonder is an extraordinary music writer, he may have been an even better at titling songs.  Love’s In Need Of Love Today; and it could not be more pertinent today.  God so loved the world; and this world needs love.  1 John 4:16 God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.  How can God who is love, need love??  He needs the people whom He loves so much and has placed in this world, to touch a hurting people, to help them learn how to love again.  The problem however, is that we (the called people) are in just as much pain/hurt as the rest of the world.  1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.  The truth is, the church is experiencing pain/hurt and are at times unable to love themselves let alone God’s people.

    We have to remember, that in order to love we have to first receive love.  1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.  God loved us first so that we by receiving His love would be able to love Him by loving others (His people).  God has loved us all for a time such as the one we find ourselves in; we must seek Him for help, healing and guidance so that we can be His love for this hurting World.  Prov 8: 17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me…35 For whoever finds me finds life And obtains favor from the Lord.

    Paul’s very last words were this: these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE.  COVID 19 has highlighted the many different people that need God’s Love.  His love can be received from God’s people (Prov 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity); and who are those people needing Love: The millions of people that have contracted this deadly virus need to be loved back to health.  Or the family members of the 95,000 plus people who’ve lost their lives; who need to be loved thru their grief.  Or The medical workers and first responders who were treating (loving on) these very people; and in their loving efforts contracted the very virus they were fighting.  Or the many workers and entrepreneurs who were experiencing prosperity in their lives only to see everything shut down; now everything they had seems to be completely lost and even worse no clue as to whether they will ever be able to experience that life again.  Or the parent who had worked diligently and tirelessly to build a great career, becoming an expert in their field and to put their family in a place where they could attend the best schools and live in the best neighborhoods; only to now be forced to become a homeschooling teacher of students that they really barely know any more.  Or the “Essential Workers” who till this point have been just about invisible to the world, because their wages are so minimal that they can barely afford to go to the now essential job that they are going to; going without the proper safety PPE because as “Essential” as they are being called; most of the world cares more about what services they provide than whether they will be able to live beyond the very danger they are being exposed to daily.  Or the people that are being told they cannot go about their regular everyday lives because their community leadership has determined that the immediate response to danger requires that everyone shall remain in their homes, for the benefit of everyone’s safety; yet to the detriment of their desires and freedoms.  Or the governmental leadership that have been put in a place that exploits their weaknesses rather than their ability to lead during chaos; and rather than admit some areas of shortcomings and seek the help of experts to make the best decisions, but choose to side with political allies to do damage control even at the peril of tens of thousands of people. Or the people don’t find themselves in any of these positions, they just know that they are hurt, and in pain and don’t know what their new normal will look like an are just anxious and afraid.

    I know even reading the above descriptions of those needing to be loved, can spark some very specific opinions and feelings and maybe even a question as to whether some of these people do indeed need love.  I remind you of what Jesus said at the sermon on the mount, Matt 5:44-45 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  We don’t decide who receives love, God does, and the church has fallen away from what God says to do what individuals think.  The church has found ways to function in the service of God, yet without the His love.  1 Corinth 13: 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.  Without the Love of God in it we profit nothing for the Kingdom nor the people for who it was intended.  “Love’s in need of love today, Don’t delay, Send yours in right away.”  Will you send your love today?  Can you now abide faith, hope, LOVE, while remembering that the greatest of these is LOVE

Man in the Mirror

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

Week 3 of Love’s Quiet Storm series.  We’re looking back at the infamous Love chapter that Paul so eloquently shared with the church.  Today our focus is vs 12 and we’re going to glean from the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.  Using one of his greatest hits that will hopefully help us relate to Paul’s lessons from 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

A Mirror is a reflective surface, typically made of glass coated with a metal amalgam, that reflects a clear image.  The mirror then is very much like man; a reflective surface that reflects a clear image.  The key to the mirror is the image that is being reflected.  Man was created to reflect the image of God; but too often we only reflect the image of broken men.  Broken by life experiences, past hurts and personal failures.  When we’re broken, we view through a dirty lens and often believe that others see us through that exact same lens.  So, let’s look at our mirror; and use Michael Jackson’s hit song to help us to deal with the Man in the Mirror.

  1. Time to Clean Your Mirror: For now we see in a mirror, dimly; my bathroom mirror is large and when we first moved into our house, just walking into the bathroom was remarkable.  Between the light from outside and the lights from the overhead the entire room was just illuminated and looking into that pristine mirror made it seem like there were two people in there.  However, over time between the daily use, steamy showers, messy shaves, and tooth brushing a film began building up on that mirror.  That film would slowly distort what was such a precious view.  Paul in the text used these words We see in a mirror, dimly, which I thought was genius.  You see the word dimly means faint or weak and is used to express one’s disapproval.
    The film building up on my mirror doesn’t block the view or even change it to something different but the film and spots make it so I cannot see myself as clearly as I should; I look just a little off.  You cannot quite put your finger on it but you know that something is just not right.  This begins to happen now every time you look in the mirror; you don’t feel like yourself.  Something negative begins to take over and permeate my thoughts of me and you begin to disapprove of what you see from that mirror.  Paul would elaborate on this thought some chapters later:
    2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord
    .  The unveiling of a face happens when the covering has been revealed; like when the groom reveals the bride for the first time.  Or in my case when the film filled mirror has been cleaned.  With a clean mirror, we can again see the real person; the negativity begins to fade and that light that was so prevalent when I first walking into that bathroom is now shinning bright once more.  Get out the Windex; it’s time to clean you mirror.
  2. Take Another Look in the Mirror: but then face to face. Looking again into that mirror will require courage.  Now that the mirror is clean; you clearly see your reflection.  It’s very difficult to lie to somebody when you’re standing face to face.  Over the phone or via text a lie seems to flow a little easier; but staring at another person, eye to eye; nose to nose; lies are tough to form.  Yet so often, we look at ourselves face to face in the mirror and lie or even worse we see someone struggling and in trouble but do nothing to help them.  James 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  Therefore, it is essential that we get the courage necessary to look again into the newly cleaned mirror.
    The thought of looking at someone face to face today is not only extremely challenging, but in this social media age, its highly unlikely.  The term face to face describes an interaction that takes place in person, as opposed to texting, emailing or using other online medias.  Today we barely talk to each other with more than surface chatter let alone have real intimate conversation.  How much more difficult is it for us to be real with ourselves.  It is time to get face to face with ourselves, but this time see clearly what we already know about us.  Romans 7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do; acknowledging the truth is the first step to true deliverance and it can only happen when we are willing to get face to face.  Michael understood that, which is why he said, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer, If you want to make the world a better place. Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.”  Are you ready to make a change??
  3. Who’s Looking at You in the Mirror? Now I know in part, but then I shall know. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror not recognizing the person you are looking at?  I’ve been there many a day; but what I’ve found since walking with Christ is that who we’re looking at is not as important as who’s looking back at us.  What?  See, we don’t recognize the man in the mirror because we are only a part of the full story; but that dude in the mirror is the man that God created (Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness) and his story is completed in eternity.  Whether we can believe it or not we are still created in God’s image.  We know this TRUTH, but we don’t always feel like the image of God.  We can know what we know but still see only what we want.  Ask anyone in a relationship, who ignored the early Red Flags and is now remembering all the reasons they should have walked away from that person long ago.
    God’s image is looking back at us in that mirror, but in order for us to truly see it we have to 1) believe Jesus is God’s Son who died for your sins (John 3:16); 2) Believe that you are the righteousness of God thru Christ (1 Corinthians 5:21). God’s TRUTH overrides our thoughts, feelings and opinions; and His TRUTH looking back at us in the mirror, whether we want it to or not.  We are currently only part of God’s story; He has bigger plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11).  Plans for us to walk in the Righteousness He died for and the Abundant Life that He has promised us.  Stop worrying about the embarrassment of looking into the mirror and not seeing yourself but remember who God created to look back at you.  You’re still that person Christ gave His all for, you’re still destined for greatness and you’re still in right standing with God.  Change you’re mirror focus, Yeah! Make that change!
  4. Now, Who Do You See in the Mirror? I shall know just as I also am known. Michael gave us another great nugget when he said, “I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love, it’s time that I realize.”  We’ve all been victims of that selfish kind of love, but what need realize is that Jesus’s love for us was the most unselfish love we could ever know.  Which is why when we accepted Christ as our savior; God can no longer see’s us, our failures, short comings or sin.  He ONLY sees Jesus, His loving Son because we’re in the Jesus.
    When we look in the mirror now, we need to see us the same way God does. With that newly cleaned mirror; “And no message could have been any clearer, If you want to make the world a better place, Take a look at yourself and then make that Change!  The change we must make is looking at ourselves in the mirror but no longer seeing our sin, but only seeing Jesus, His Unselfish LOVE, His Redemption and His Resurrection.
    When we look in the mirror and see Jesus; the devil cannot distract us or trick us with his lies and tricks.  We will see in ourselves the promises of God, the victory of Jesus and miracles we’ve become.  Most importantly; I also am known; when we see Jesus as we look into the mirror, we then realize that we are fully known and loved by God.

Knowing that we are loved can be the difference between victory and defeat.  Knowing that the Love of God is on our side and that despite Him knowing everything about us He has plans for us in abundance; we can be confident in Him and in who we see now see in that mirror.

Boys To Men

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Week 2 of Love’s Quiet Storm series.  We’re looking back at the infamous Love chapter that Paul so eloquently shared with the church.  Today our focus is vs 11; we’re going from Boys to Men.  We’ll do so by utilizing a few slow jams that will hopefully help us relate to the lessons Paul taught at the end of 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

In 1983, I was 10 years old when the group New Edition released the album Candy Girl and became maybe my favorite all time group.  This teen group would come to truly understand this 11th verse better than most; being that they grew up before the world under the microscope of fame.  Their song Boys to Men highlights this growth in their lyrics; such as “Growing up can be a pain, You’re not an man until you come of age…..Who assumes responsibility, Of having to support our families…Who’s protecting us from harm, Is there anyone around That we can trust

I think that we would all agree that growing up was painful; our responsibilities have increased and if we’re honest we find it difficult to trust most people.  So, what does this group, this song and these lyrics have to do with 1 Corinthians 13:11?  Let’s see:

  1. Acknowledge Your Childhood: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child.  I’m in my mid 40’s and I realize today, but it took me decades to understand.  Even though I’m a 40 something year old man, I’m also still that 5-year-old boy who was forced by my teenage neighbor to do things I felt were wrong; but she told me were OK and that I owed it to her.  Yes, trauma as a child that still impacts the man today (Growing up can be a pain).  Why is it important to acknowledge?  Because, we as men have been told since childhood that we are not to feel anything.  If we get too emotional, we’re called “punk.”  We were never allowed to cry and forget about telling anyone how we really felt.  This inability to emote manifest in what we see in most men today; Anger, Frustration, and Emotionally disconnected men that walk thru their many struggles alone because they just don’t know how to effectively articulate what their hearts are feeling.  These unaddressed pains become seen in sexual, drug and even eating abuse or addictions.  The pain does not just stay with the man, but our wives suffer, our daughters suffer, our sons not only suffer but they also duplicate what they see.  Recreating the same frustrations, hurts and pains that the men in a family have passed down for generations.
    So, it is incredibly important that now as a R.E.A.L. (Righteous, Equipped & Anointed Leaders) Man, we can connect emotionally with our wives and our kids.  We must be able to function in work and school without blowing up in anger when enduring hurt or failure.  We can only do that by Acknowledging what happened When I was a child.  We start by going back and dealing with what happened to us.  Even if it seems too difficult to deal with now.  This means talking to someone; a Spouse, Trusted friend, Counselor (recommended), Small Group, prayer partner (Is there anyone around That we can trust).  It doesn’t matter who you start with, but that you start.  Because, when we do not, we become grown men that still sound like hurt little boys: I spoke as a child, I understood as a child.   We remain unable to respond to adult situations as a Grown Man, because our default remains childlike thinking; I thought as a child.  Acknowledge the Child in the man.
  2. Accept Your Calling: but when I became a man.  Now that we’ve acknowledged the hurt little boy in us all, it’s time to do what we’ve gotta do (those NE fans know what I just did there); Accept the Call…of Manhood.  That calling requires several things; Men are to be Watchmen (caretakers of) in the community (Jeremiah 6:17 Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!); Husbands that treat their wives like Jesus (Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her) and Fathers that train their children to be arrows (Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it); “Who assumes responsibility, Of having to support our families.”
    God has called men to become the Priest, Provider and Protector of our families.  The difficulty most men run into is that one of these roles requires a level of emotional connectivity that most men fail to attain.  A Priest must be able to relate, empathize and connect with people spiritually, but emotionally as well.  Most men are pretty good providing and protecting, because it can be done without using our emotions.  Yet when we truly become the Priest, we learn that when we are truly able to connect with our emotions, we can excel in providing and protecting our families, because we do not just cover them with things, we cover them with us (Who’s protecting us from harm).  Accept the calling of manhood; it is a HEAVY, HEAVY calling, but a worthwhile calling when done well.  The beauty of this calling is that is can be mastered in Love’s Quiet Storm.  When this call is covered in God’s Love, it comes with God’s power and direction.  He will teach us how to be the Men we are called to be.  Lean on Jesus for help and He will help us.
  3. Address Your Childish Ways: I put away childish things.  We’ve acknowledged the hurts and pains that have lasted since childhood; we’ve accepted the roles of manhood; now what??  It’s time to put away the juvenile mindsets, actions and ways that have kept us bound.  Put away; Get rid of; Throw out; Cut off all the things that keep us from being all that God has created us for.
    David told his son Solomon, with regard to manhood to Prove it!! 1 Kings 2:1 Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: 2 “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. 3 And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.  Paul taught the early church to get off the Similac; Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  Get in the Word of God!!  David’s dying words to his son was to follow God, walk in His ways, do what His word says.   Paul said you’ve been sipping milk spiritually and cannot handle the meat of the word; but you are of age put that milk away and dig into this hearty steak of the Word.  The Bible is full of guidance for being a Man.  Get away from the influences in your life that want to keep doing childish things.  Replace them with Men who know Christ, are not afraid to be real and can be trusted.  Pray, God will bring those brothers around if you’re serious.

New Edition said (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzKGPsVU6s0) “Life’s responsibility falls in our hands; so Keep on learning, Keep on growing ‘Cause wisdom helps us understand. We’re maturing Without knowing that These are the things that change boys to men.”  Now let’s reach that again with what we’ve learned: “Life’s responsibility (Accept Your Calling) falls in our hands; so, Keep on learning, Keep on growing ‘Cause wisdom helps us understand. We’re maturing (Acknowledge Your Childhood) Without knowing that These are the things (Address Your Childish Ways) that change boys to men.”

Men on this Mother’s Day; give every mother what they really wants….a R.E.A.L. (Righteous, Equipped & Anointed Leaders) Man!

Love’s Quiet Storm

1 Corinthians 13 (all)

This is one of the Apostle Paul’s more familiar writings.  Why do I say that?  Because this is a text that both believers and nonbelievers know that Love is patient and kind….Love is not jealous or prideful…Love believes, hopes and endures all things.  Here we have Love the most powerful force known to man as it is Love that completely transformed all life as we know it…..

Yet, this Love makes not a sound; and without a peep moved the God of the universe to sacrifice His only Son.  Love can come thru as quiet as a mouse but as powerful as a category 5 hurricane.  Love can be a Quiet Storm.

We are currently living thru another Quiet Storm all over the world.  COVID 19 has proven to be a silent killer; moving over the globe like the weather.  This virus has covered the Earth like a huge storm; it has caused all of us to take cover; shelter in place and put on our virus gear (mask and gloves).  COVID 19 has place us all in The Quiet Storm.

So, there are two things I have truly loved throughout my entire life. Music and family! I can remember the most fun times in my childhood, and I can often always be able to tie them to either music or family. Even thinking of some of the fun times I’ve had during quarantine have consisted of listening/dancing to old school music with my Family.  My wife and I have always attempted to pass down the things we love the most with our kids, so it’s not a surprise that these would be the really fun times while seemingly trapped together. 

With that little family backdrop and the infamous Love Chapter (1Cor 13); it brings a unique focus during this pandemic season.  Of all the great verses found in 1 Cor 13; the last 3 really stood out to me. So, over the next couple of weeks, I plan to do a deeper dive into 1 Corinthians 13:11-13.  Therefore, in the spirit of my love for Old School Music and living out this era of the COVID19 pandemic; let’s call this series The Quiet StormAs the DJ would say; “Still to come on The Quiet Storm; we’ll hear from Jesus as He shares Love thru 1 Cor ‪13” and with the help these artists:

1. Boys To Men (New Edition)
vs.11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

2. Man in the Mirror (Michael Jackson)
vs. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

3. Love’s in Need of Love Today (Stevie Wonder)
vs. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Every Idol Shall Bow

1 Samuel 5:2-4 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the temple of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it.

This story of the Ark of God and the Philistine Idol Dagon is an interesting one to me; I see 3 main characters in this story.  The Philistines represent one character; the people of Ashdod are mentioned here, and they’ll fall under the Philistine umbrella for this message.  The Philistines are known mostly for being an enemy of God and His people Israel.  When you find the Israelites at war, 7 times out of 10 it will be against the Philistines.  Goliath is probably the most famous of all Philistine, but we can all agree that they oppose God and Godly values. 

Secondly, we have Dagon, the Philistine Idol; an Idol is the image which is used to represent a religious practice or philosophy that as much as possible parallels the Jewish & Christian principles of a relationship between God and His children.  Dagon the Philistine selected image was an ancient Fertility God; and a stone figure which was depicted with the torso of a man and the tail of a fish; yes, the first mermaid. 

Lastly, we have the Ark of God; a beautiful gold-covered wooden chest with lid cover that contained “the golden pot that had manna (God’s Provision), and Aaron’s rod that budded (God’s Anointed Leadership), and the tablets of the covenant (God’s Covenant/Law).  This Ark represented the actual presence of God.  In the Bible, whoever was in possession of the Ark of God prospered and had great success in battles. 

Now that we know a little about the characters; let’s get to the story.  The Philistines had just defeated the Israelites and were able to capture their coveted Ark of God.  By capturing this Ark, they believed it enabled them to render the Israelites powerless while at the same time adding this great Israeli power to their own arsenal.  You see the Philistines suffered many defeats at the hand of the Israelites while they possessed the Ark of God. 

This victory gave the Philistines a boost and they figured it must mean that their Dagon was greater than Israel’s Ark.  So, they brought the Ark of God into the Temple of Dagon and sat it right next to their coveted Idol.  However, when the Ark (God’s Presences & Power) is placed or assumed to be on the same level as a worldly idol; the truth must be made known.  Everything must fall in line and in this case Dagon and the Philistine would see how this turned out. 

When the Philistines arrived at the Temple in the next morning, they noticed their Idol Dagon was lying on its face next to the Ark of God.  Not thinking much of it, they assumed I’m sure that it must have been knocked over during the back and forth of moving the Ark into the temple.  Until the next morning they saw the idol Dagon on its face again; but now Dagon’s head and hands were broken off and only the torso of Dagon remained.  This freaked out the Philistines as they would not even go near the threshold that Dagon sat upon again (1 Samuel 5:5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day).  If only they knew the scriptures; they would see that everything would bow before God (Isaiah 45:23 & Rom 14:11).  The Philistines would later find that many people in the town of Ashdod became stuck down in their bodies with tumors; they now realized that this was Israel’s Ark of God ravaging them. 

Here it was, the Philistines were putting their Idol Dagon up against the Ark of God.  The enemy of God placed their ideology, philosophy and beliefs up against a power that was greater than theirs (the Power of God); and would not turn out so well for them, their idol fell.  Dagon the idol they put all their trust in (Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God) was literally destroyed before them.      

Why am I talking about this story & Why now??  All over the world, people have seen their lifted idols fall like Dagon during this COVID 19 Pandemic.  Numerous people have put all their trust in their economies; or their health; or just their ability to come & go whenever or do whatever they want.  Yet, they’ve seen each forced to bow down to the COVID 19 virus and its global impact.  This virus has shown itself to be more powerful than the world’s economy, the health of its people and has literally locked down much of all the world within weeks.  But COVID 19 aint got nothing on Our God. 

Like Dagon found out in Ashdod, COVID 19 cannot stand against the Presence & Power of God.  With more than 2,920,000 people confirmed to have contracted the virus and over 204,000 dying from it; I do have good news.  Even though it is difficult to see victory in so many deaths; over 830,000 have fully recovered (more than 4 times the deaths) and nearly 80% have been asymptomatic.  Also, the world has united (except for a few idiots; some getting more press than others) and health care workers across the globe have teamed up to fight this virus head on.  God is a healer and a team builder; He has been at work before, amidst and will be after this pandemic.  He has sustained much of the world during this tough time through generous hearts from everywhere to help those in need; those who are sick; those who’ve lost jobs.  He will continue to help this World recover over the coming weeks, months, years. 

Now for those who have made a choice to this point; stop putting your trust in futile idols that can and will fail.  I implore you to put your trust in the Israelite Ark of God; Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.  When we stop thinking we know what is best and place our Trust in God, He promises to:

1.      Supply Everything You Need: Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

2.      Supply You With All Healing3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. &  Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

3.      Supply You Direction For Life: Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. & Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. & Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

What Was Your Name?

Gen 32: 24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.   25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.   26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”   27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”   28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”   29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.   30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”  

I Love when God confirms something that He showed me earlier in another’s sermon.  Today was actually the 3rd confirmation this week.  That makes me very excited to share with you a message from this pretty familiar story, but with God’s latest spin.  Here we find Jacob at a very transformational point of his life; he’s about to face what he believes to be his imminent death.  Instead he encounters God and the results that followed are awesome.  Let’s jump right in.

Jacob Thought He Was Alone:  We see here in the text “Then Jacob was left alone.”  There are several things that jump off the page here.  Jacob finds himself by himself; sometimes this is scary to us, because we are often our own worst enemy.  If we look back at Jacob’s life, we’ll find that he has never really been alone, so this concept is unfamiliar to him.  Jacob from the womb has always been with somebody else; his twin brother Esau has always been by his side.  He grew up in a house with an overbearing mother who was always around and even when he found his wife it was at his uncle’s home (where he would stay for 14 years and ended up with two wives).  For many of us our busyness is a way to keep us from being left by ourselves.  Like Jacob, God has put many of us in a circumstance where we are isolated and alone an unfamiliar situation.  Social Distancing has forced many of us to be ALONE for the first time in our lives.  Or even worse, you’re around a group of people, yet you still feel ALONE: You’re a child in a family but feel like a stranger, like no one around you really see’s you or what you’re going thru.  You’re in a marriage; yet you feel ALONE, your Husband/Wife don’t really know who you are, don’t pay attention to your needs; they take you for granted; or you just feel like you’re fending for yourself.  Maybe you’re an employee of a company and everyone there seems to be completely different from you; they don’t hear your ideas or acknowledge your efforts.  When you’re not in the office, it seems like nobody even misses you.  Are you like Jacob; do you find yourself ALONE today?

Jacob Was Never Alone: Even though Jacob had nobody else around, he was never alone: Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.   The truth is Jacob was at a very vulnerable time in his life and while he felt by himself; God was there with him!!  God is also with you Employee; God is also with you Son/Daughter; God is also with you Husband/Wife.  God has never left you alone (Deut 31:6); but as a good friend told me this week; God came after Jacob, just like He does for you and I.  And when God showed Himself to Jacob; He wrestled with him (a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day).  The word wrestled is defined as:  1. to take part in a fight, either as sport or in earnest, that involves grappling with one’s opponent and trying to throw or force them to the ground.  2. struggle with a difficulty or problem.

God knew Jacob had a problem/a struggle and He showed Himself in order to deal with both Jacob and it.  Likewise, God has been wrestling with us and with some of our struggles for a long time.  We’re never ALONE because God will not leave us alone especially in our current state.

Are you wrestling with God today?  If so, there are three things we have to take from this Divine Wrestling Match:

God Wanted to Touch Jacob: God never does anything without purpose.  If you’re like me, you have asked God many times WHY am I going thru this?  Understand God is always about purpose and everything you go thru has purpose (Rom 8:28).  God’s touch impacts the way we function. He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.  Jacob’s hip socket worked a certain way since his birth; for all of his years this socket functioned one way.  As a matter of fact, this socket functioned just like everyone else’s hip socket; until God touched him. However, after God’s touch Jacob’s socket would never work the same anymore; his socket worked differently (a notable difference) from everyone else around him.  God touched his hip socket, but that socket impacted the way he would walk forever.  God is trying to touch us so that our Walk will be different; noticeably different than those around us.  If you’re wrestling with God; hold on until God touches you.

God Wanted to Bless Jacob: God’s wrestling was to get Jacob to a point where he could receive “The Blessing”.  And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me! Just for clarity; when the text refers to He; this is God talking Let Me go, for the day break.   Why is God telling Jacob to let go?  I believe God wanted to see just how long Jacob was willing to hold on to Him.  Are you willing to Hold on to God?  Even though you feel left alone; things are not going good in your life; this COVID 19 has left you out of work or even sick; maybe you’ve lost a loved on to the virus…. will you hold on to Him??  Like Jacob God wants to see us humbled enough to ask God for what we need.  Jacob replies, I will not let You go unless You bless me; he was about to face his biggest fear (read about him meeting with Esau; Gen 31 & 32) and he needed a blessing from God.  Are you willing to lay down your pride and ask God to bless you… While holding on long enough to see “The Blessing” manifest????

God Wanted to Name Jacob: So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”  While God wrestled with Jacob something interesting happened; He asked Jacob a question.  “What is your name?”  I believe God is asking us the same question today, “What is your name?”  Why??  Is it because we’ve learned how to hide behind our name, our persona, our portrayal of who we are?  Or maybe it is because of how difficult it is for many of us to answer truthfully.  Look at Jacob’s response, of course he gives the name he’s been called all his life, Jacob.  But there is so much more in this answer that we all need to understand when we answer this question.  Jacob means trickster, sup-planter, heal grabber, con artist.  Jacob’s answer revealed ot only how he saw himself but what he did to so many.  While I’m not sure what your answer would be; if I’m honest it might be liar, cheater, insecure, bad father, lazy employee, failure as a spouse, abused child, weak Christian and maybe so many other things.  God already knows how we really feel about ourselves, what we’ve done in our past and even how other’s see and perceive us.  God wants us to be honest with Him.  Because He loves us and wants to declare over us today, just like He did for Jacob; “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” God declares today that We are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor 5:21); More than Conquerors (Rom 8:37); Never forsaken (Deut 31:6); Chosen, Holy & Royal (1 Pet 2:9).  God has given us a new name for our new walk; but we must receive it and be not afraid to be different.

If you’re feeling alone today; isolated from family, friends and society; please remember that you’re not alone; God is right there with you.  He desires to Wrestle with you in your struggles and problems.  You were not designed to go thru this alone.  When we acknowledge this, are transparent with God and with ourselves; God can then Touch us, Bless us and Give us His Name and when He does… Our Life Will Change.  We will walk differently, talk differently, treat others differently and receive from God differently.  We will no longer act out of our insecurities and pain but out of God’s Abundance!!!!

Condemnation Kills But Jesus Forgives

Matthew 27:3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”

Have you ever messed up?  You’ve done something that could benefit you, then after doing it realized it went against everything you thought you stood for.  I’ve been there, several times; If I can be honest with you.  I’ve found myself thinking how’d I get here?  This is where we find Judas “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful.”  He’s so remorseful in fact he attempts to correct his wrong, but to no avail.  Judas did what so many of us do but it is indeed one of the worst things we can do; condemn ourselves.

Judas was one of the original 12 disciples; so, he could not have been that bad of a guy.  He was with Jesus doing good throughout Israel and was well thought of.  Judas, not unlike many of us just  made a huge mistake, but haven’t others made similar mistakes right???  Jesus told the disciples that later that evening Judas would betray him (Matthew 26:21-23).  However, Judas was not the only one who received such a declaration.  Jesus in that same chapter, during that same evening told Peter that he would betray him 3 times (Matthew 26:34).  Was one worst than the other??  Both are disciples of Christ and both would betray Jesus; yet one disciple would take his own life and forever be known as a betrayer while the other one would become the rock in which Christ built His church.  Judas and Peter both spent 3 years with Jesus, living under his teachings and seeing all the miracles he worked.  So how did they respond so differently?

It is ok & normal to feel remorse for a mistake/failure.  Honestly, if you don’t then that’s where there should be real concern.  Both disciples would experience remorse for their actions, however, Judas remained condemned while Peter’s remorse led him to repentance.    Judas was feeling condemned and took actions according to that feeling.  Condemnation is a personal sentencing; it is when you punish yourself by giving yourself a lasting sentence of guilt.  The devil loves and lives in condemnation; it is what he is living in and wants all of God’s children live under the same curse.  The problem with condemnation is that we align our thoughts with Satan and not God.  Jesus died so that we all would have the opportunity to become the righteousness of God in Christ.  Judas acted quickly after feeling condemned taking his own life out of guilt on Friday.  If only he could have been around to experience the resurrection life Jesus would give us all on Sunday.  It is extremely important that we do not take drastic actions immediately after a failure.

Paul makes it clear in Romans “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Peter who knew Jesus as “the Son of the Living God” (Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven,) was also feeling condemned.  However, he did not take the same steps Judas did.  I would like to tell you that it was because Peter knew Jesus would forgive him and he believed that Jesus would rise from the grave like the scriptures had predicted.  But the truth is we will never know why, we just know that he did not.  And because he didn’t Peter was able to see Jesus’ resurrected body, rejoice in the fulfillment of scripture and ultimately be forgiven for his betrayal.  Peter would become the center of the Christian Church and one of the most famous apostles even after betraying Jesus.  So why do you think you can never be forgiven??  Maybe all throughout your life many have told you about church or religion and you’ve never had the chance to meet Jesus the Christ.  Well I want to tell you about Jesus.

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

If you fail or make a mistake; Jesus has made it possible for you to be remorseful and forgiven.  Believe in Jesus and the fact that He died for your sins to be forgiven and remember Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…

Making God Known

Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you

Paul was in the middle of preaching the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles across Corinth, Thessalonica and Berea; when we find him in this text speaking in Athens, Greece.  He was speaking to a group of leaders; the Areopagus or The Areopagite Council who were advisers to the king.  While speaking Paul makes mention of a couple of things I found interesting:

1.      I perceive that in all things you are very religious: Religious; believing in or relating to a religion.  Religion is the belief or worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.  The Greeks were known for their Twelve Olympian Gods and Goddesses, which included Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Haphaestus, Hermes, Hestia, and Dionysius.  Each god or goddess having a specific category of life they were over.  Paul was acknowledging that he understood how they desperately wanted to believe in something much more powerful than themselves. 

2.      I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD: They served an Unknown God, a God they were worshiping without any real knowledge of just who this God was.  This is not unlike today where many people declare their allegiance to a God or a “Man Upstairs,” or the “Universe,” without having knowledge of who this being.  Many people are confused as to what they believe and what they should believe, and it is never move visible than in a moment of Chaos or Struggle.

It is here that I wanted to focus today.  Paul did something that we all should be doing to reach those we know that are finding this COVID19 era very difficult, chaotic and unbearable.  Paul decided to make God known to this group of Greek Leaders and for that matter every town he went into.  He ends verse 23; Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you.  We are very fortunate with the many tools which we have access to that allow us to share our faith effectively.  We have a bible, preachers, scholars and a human history full of testimonies of personal interactions with God the Father, Jesus the Son of God and the Holy Spirit of God.  We have God to lean on as our source when we share with our family and friends.

Just like Paul experiences, as he shared Christ with these leaders not everyone will receive his words.  As a matter of fact, just like some of our friends and family have responded to us, the council also responded: And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”

It is our responsibility to do just that; Make God Known thru Christ and after we do follow up with those who will hear you again, while praying for those who mock.  Paul left that area with followers including some who were of the Areopagus.  It was because Paul understood this: for in Him we live and move and have our beingWe are not without help in everything we do, it is in Christ that we live our lives; are able to move about (physically, but also our purpose & guidance which dictate our decisions to take action); and have our being (our identity as the righteousness of God in Christ).

You’ve Got It….So Give

2 Corinthians 8:13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack–that there may be equality.

While this COVID19 pandemic is worldwide; it impacts each of us differently.  Try talking to people outside of your immediate circle and see just how much it has impacted them.  Many people have been infected; some have symptoms, some are asymptomatic and yet over 1100 people have died directly from the virus.  However, a majority of the people have not come in contact with the virus, but because of it’s impact, people have lost their jobs; had to close down their business; or even lost millions in the stock market.  There are many like me, that have not had any of the above happen, yet have been told to stay inside; limit contact with the outside world; and even to work from home in an effort to “flatten the curve.”  Whatever your situation, COVID19 has most likely impacted your life.  After all the Bible reminds us, “it rains on the just and the unjust; Matt 5:45.”

What does that have to do with 2nd Corinthians??  Well many of us live in abundance.  Yes, I said abundance.  Its kind of funny because many of us don’t know what abundance really is.  Webster’s calls it “a very large quantity of something.”  Yet, to have an abundance of something is to have more than you need.  Notice that word need.  We often mix that word need up with the word want.  So, the definition becomes having more that what you want.  The sad thing is those two points on a graph are way too far apart.  We must focus on our needs and not our wants during this time.  I’ve easily become an example of this; as my wife and I rushed to the store after returning from vacation.  Only to find the world was slowly shutting down due to the virus.  While my wife rummaged thru the empty shelves looking for our necessities, I managed to pick up a few things that I just flat out wanted.  She looked at me and said “Really??  That is not a need.”  She was right.  Paul, in 2nd Corinthians lays it out in a pretty simple way, that we all should understand.

  1. God Does Not Want to Take From You: 2 Corinthians 8:13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality… God never meant for any of us to be in lack.  The reason there was a shortage of paper towels, toilet paper, sanitizer and wipes, was because many felt that others would take what they needed if they didn’t immediately get (way more than) enough for themselves.  That mentality has never been God’s; He shall supply all our needs (Phil 4:19).  God is the supplier, not us and He will always give us what we need.
  2. God Wants to Use You to Help Others: 2 Corinthians 8:13… that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack… Why don’t they have what they need?? That’s Easy: Because God wants us to give it to them!! God wants to bless His people, and the best way for Him to do that with the greatest impact, is to show off His hand and feet; the Church.  We are God in action; but only when we are acting in His Grace and Love.  The Church was built to serve the hurting, so that they might find comfort in the God that the Church serves.  You’ve got it… so give it like God calls you to do.  Why??? Because He Said So!!  Because He loves and cares for Us!!  He wants others to know of His love for themselves.  Finally, Because He wants to give us even more!!  Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  When we Give, it opens us up for Overflow…
  3. God Wants Us to See People: 2 Corinthians 8:13… that there may be equality. … God really sees people. He sees everything about them and more importantly, He sees each of us the same.  We are all equal in His eyes.  People are the ones with the class systems and the celebrity mindsets.  We have placed people of pedestals based on accomplishments, money and popularity.  The funny thing is even with how high and low we place people in our sight; God in His Massive Glory sees us all on the same level.  When we see people the way God sees people; we will want to help everybody…because they look just like ME.