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Archive for the ‘reflection’ Category

I  will sing a new song to you, O God; . . .I will make music to you– Psalm 144:9 (NIV)

Poet or psalmist? Which is it? Oh, yeah… spoken word, poetry or psalms?

Today, much like in the past ages, people are caught up in titles.  They live by labels.  For some people, they are precisely who or what they think their titles say that they are to everyone else.  Even if it doesn’t fit them, they attempt to live up to the title by what they wear or drive and how they talk as well as who they hang around.  That’s just how some people go about it.

I am an author who writes poetry among other things.  As an author, I am convinced that some people will call me whatever they care to call me because of what I do.  Some will say that I am a poet, while others will simply call me a writer.  Then, as with most things, there are those folks who fully dress it all up and make it into a big deal by calling people like me: “inspirational writers” or “spiritual scribes.” The one that caused me some alarm was psalmist.  I had to do some more research before I could even stand to hear it come from another person’s lips.

Psalms are defined as “sacred song; a hymn” or ” a sacred song or poem used in worship.” Imagine one of my pieces used as a call to worship.  Or, if possible, picture a choir swaying and rocking in their elaborate and ornate robes as I clutched the mic and spit a flow of one of my more upbeat poems to a raucous drum beat with a twinkling piano and an eerie organ piped in as we praise God. Would that be a psalm? Would that make a psalmist? Or, would I still be a poet?

David and Asaph were psalmists in my mind.  Moses and Solomon were even credited with composing at least one psalm.  Marvin Sapp has a release entitled “Diary of a Psalmist” and many other gospel artists call themselves psalmists.  Even though the definitions of psalmist tend to loosely define the title as a composer or writer of a psalm, I just can’t see myself using the title.  If someone called me a psalmist, would I stop in the midst of praise and worship to correct them with my personal reservations about why I don’t prefer to be called one? No.  I don’t have a lot of time for that.  Would I refer them to this post to get my opinion or views on the title? No.  I will just praise Him and keep on praising Him as a poet, writer, author or psalmist.  No matter what they call it, I call it praise, worship and expressive joy.

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You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
 – Matthew 5:14, 16 (NKJV)

Believers are the light of the world.  Jesus said so.  In one of the most well-known of sermons of the Savior and messages of the Master, He simply says: “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).  In the Sermon on the Mount, just after the Beatitudes, Jesus shares that we, as believers and followers of Christ, are the light of the world. 

He speaks of the believer as light in a world full of utter darkness.  The red letters of the Bible indicate that it was Jesus speaking, and the tone of His delivery indicates that He shared His words with both hope and expectancy.  In other words, Jesus shared His expectation of the believer and openly shared that the believer should let his or her light shine before men so that their works may be seen and that those who observed the believer’s works would give glory to God (Matthew 5:16).  That sounds like He had hope, believing that the observer of good works would honor and glorify God.  It appears that He had expectations of the believer to be met by letting his or her light shine before the world by doing good works.

As followers of Christ, we should let our lights shine.  We should radically radiate the true light who is Jesus Christ.  We radically radiate by shedding light in a dark world.  It is a radical concept because we tend to point people towards the church or the pastor for insights into who the true light is and where to discover the light that came into the world.  We radiate as reflections of the Light.  He is the source of our light and we reflect Him as we interact with the world.  Get real.  Get radical.  Radiate with your light.  Let others see that the Light exists within you.

If we radiate, our lights can’t help but be seen by others.  Others will see our lights shining brightly and give glory to God for what they have observed.  Jesus said that we shouldn’t hide our lights.  Jesus said that we should give light to all who are around us.  We should radiate.  In other words, our radiation should be radical in the sense that we penetrate the darkness as the light of the world.

Let’s get radical.
Let’s radiate.

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I will bless the LORD at all times;  His praise shall continually be in my mouth.– Psalm 34:1 (NASB)

There’s plenty of room for boasting when it comes to the Lord.  We call it praise.  It involves worship, blessing the Lord with the “fruit of your lips.”   Beyond what we say, it involves our very spirit in coordination with the Lord’s Spirit.  We can be lifted up in the midst of someone else shouting praises to His name as another pours out tears of relief from pain and another cries out His name in acceptance of His answers to the confusion of life.  Each of these people offer the Lord what they have to offer Him, and they offer it from the heart and in the spirit and truth.

What are you using to worship God? What about worship? Are you in it or into it?

The Book of Psalms is the Holy Bible’s hymnal of sorts.  It’s a book of praises and poems.  In several instances, it reveals that the entire volume is suitable for the wide variety of needs within the congregation on any given day.  Yet, Psalm 34 opens up with a proclamation and profession that should ignite contagious worship.  It opens with blessing the Lord at all times, praise continually in my mouthThe psalm continues to speak of how the writer will boast about the Lord so much that the “humble and afflicted [will] hear and be glad.”  Then, in verse 3, the psalm writer provides an outright and open invitation to worship together  Imagine how uplifted that congregation would be after that declarative opening  and the opportunity to get lifted up and join in the blessing.

 David wrote this psalm out of the pure inspiration of the Lord showing Himself as his protection.  David had pretended to be insane before Abimelech.  He truly was at his wit’s end at that point.  There was no real guesswork once God had delivered David from his enemies.  He could boast about the Lord.  He had earned some bragging rights about the God he served and the God who saved him. 

We don’t use extol like it appears in the King James Version.   We do understand that we can boast of the Lord’s goodness and grace.  We do know that we can brag about His mercy and His might.  We do know that we can bless the Lord for His loving kindness and His peace.  He’s done so much already for us.  There’s so much we can offer Him.  Let’s start by submitting and surrendering to His Spirit within us so that we can spark some blessing and boasting among us.

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 Evangelism is a lot like College

It is a lot like college in many ways.  You can only imagine how so, but here are a few of the ways that evangelism resembles college life.

 

  • You are tested by people at times who may know just as much as and sometimes even more than you on the subject at hand 
  • You have to use a lot of what you have already learned to face new challenges
  • You meet people from nearly every walk of life
  • Doing your homework pays off
  • You’re own your own but you can always come back home
  • The study and discussions help you when you interact with others outside of class
  • You can just show up if you want to, but you have to put in some hard work in order to reap the rewards

 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

 

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I wrote Words from the Underground in order to speak out and give a literary voice to the stories that lie hidden within the inner city streets of urban America.  I’ve been out there over the years.  Back in the day, I craved the allure of the street life that promised easy riches and high times.  I discovered that nothing is easy out in the streets, especially when you throw in drugs and money.  Fast forward several years.  I found myself on the streets as I sought to stir up community involvement through urban faith-based and community-based programs.  Later, once a minister of the gospel, I was doing “street ministry,” sharing through the Word and good works.  It was a complete turn around.

 I use my creative expressions through writing and seek to shed light on the darkness that exists and seems hidden from the eyes of most of America.  They do not know the pain of the people.  They fail to see the people on the streets as real people.  To me, it is more than a book.  It’s poetry mixed with social commentary and advocacy.  Perhaps, someone will read this and gain a deeper and clearer understanding of what goes on out there.  Someone else may read this and feel like someone has finally put into words what had been pulsating within them for so many years.  Finally, this may truly move someone to do something.  Maybe someone will develop a program to help others within their city.  Maybe someone else will start speaking out and advocating for the people who live in these inhumane conditions.  Truthfully, I would be satisfied if someone just read my words and started treating people like people, never truly knowing what someone else’s story may be beneath the mask they wear day in and day out.  Maybe so.

Enter into a world unknown to many… the Underground.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

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 I felt driven to share some of my pieces of poetry as I prepare to publish my fourth book of poetry, Words from the Underground.  I find these to be pieces that will set the tone for my most secular poetry work that I have done to date.  These words are words from my heart based upon what I have seen, heard and even experienced in ministry, service and just plain life.  They open the vast world of the urban streets that remain unknown to many who may never venture into such places otherwise.  May God bless you.

Missing Motivators

 

I counted them on my fingers.

I counted them one by one.

I counted them out loud

Until my counting was done.

I counted them one by one.

I counted them until I was done.

I counted them and counted on them,

But now I find none.

 

The Beauty in the Beast

 

The beauty in the beast

Remains hidden deep within.

The beauty rests inside.

It is a mystery of its beauty

Lives beyond normal sight.

It is the beauty of the beast

That rarely is seen.

To know its beauty is

To know the beast.

Both of these poems will be available in my upcoming summer release, “Words from the Underground.”

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Technically Speaking
(Also Known As: The Massacre of the Message)

There will come a day before the last days
When prophets will instant message sermon series
And blog their latest Holy Land and missionary adventures
And then post images of JC, formerly known as Jesus Christ,
On MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
Without even considering what it means to the masses.
Preachers will preach from portable pulpits,
Giving mobilized messages of mass confusion
With cordless microphones and big screens overhead
As every bell and whistle explodes with evangelistic effort
Reaching multimedia masses over colossal airwaves
In the blink of an eye with the click of a button.
Missionaries will no longer be stumped by adversaries
Who cast the first stone during online forums on salvation
And the doctrine of total depravity versus God’s elect.
Seminary scholars will wrestle with street theologians
In text message arenas and with YouTube streaming
While electronic scanners are beaming bar codes for benevolence.
The message will find a new medium.
The new medium will carry the message.
Nothing will be lost.
The Good News will be just as good as it’s ever been
And the blood of Jesus will work the same as it did on Calvary.
Only we’ll Photoshop the image of Jesus on the cross
To keep it politically correct and all.
We will touch up His makeup to make Him up
To be a multicultural blend of all the ends of the earth
So that no one will be excluded or offended by his name in His name.
By the time we get done with the Last Supper,
There will be a disciple in wheelchair and one openly gay
Along with an obvious woman of color with a baby on the way.
There might even be a meatless meal of veggie trays.
The message will find a new medium.
The new medium will carry the message.
Nothing will be lost.
The Good News will be just as good as it’s ever been
And we will use the image of Christ
To endorse everything from blue jeans to bottled water.
The message will find a new medium.
The new medium will carry the message.
Nothing will be lost.
Nothing much will be gained.
Nothing will be said
For our methods will have left the message
Virtually dead in an online atmosphere
Among a universe of the spiritually dead.

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Open my eyes so that I can see the wonderful truths in your law.-Psalm 119:18 (NIV)

Bible study should lead to life-changing action on the part of the reader.  What the Bible teaches and tells us about life should help us as we live daily, seeking to live in truth.  In essence, the Bible should help to open our eyes to God’s truth.

A thorough study of a book of the Bible using Bible study methods should lead to discovery and understanding.  On the front end, prayer should prepare us for our personal Bible study time.  As we pray, we must seek the Lord for guidance in getting distractions out of the way and allowing us to get the meat, the solid food, of the Word of God.  The end result should be an understanding of the Word that allows every individual to deepen his or her personal relationship with God.  The goal is to learn more about God through the Word so that we can live differently here on earth and look forward to an eternity with God.

Michael Smith says it best with the lyrics that simply say:

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shinin’ in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy

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And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought;  Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.  And he taught daily in the temple. . . Luke 19:45-48 (KJV)

I am a royal mess.  I mean it.  I literally keep my desk, car and “area” of the house a real mess.  I’m just messy and unorganized.

I keep things in an uproar.  Chaos is essentially where I thrive.  I keep mounds of paperwork (who said automation is modern) and I am not thrown off when things are not altogether “in order.” Yet, I live and work with orderly people who care enough to share with me how bad I can be while exercising my lived-in practices.  I decided during this long weekend to do something about me and my mess.

(What does that have to do with Jesus and casting folks out of the temple?)

Just like Jesus, I had to go into where the mess existed.  Jesus had to go to where it was and do something about it right in the midst of it.  Jesus spoke out against all that He saw going on there. (In fact, the disciple whom He loved adds some details about Him making a whip for driving folks out of the temple.[John 2:15]) I won’t dare repeat the things that came to mind, but the closest I can get is mea culpa.  (Oh, Lord, help me and have mercy today.)

Jesus got up close and personally involved in cleansing the temple.  He spoke out against the “swap meet” for God’s people in God’s house, referencing two major prophets – Isaiah and Jeremiah. (Uh Oh, those are some powerful prophets!) Needless to say, as I got deeper into clean-up time, I wasn’t quoting the Scriptures as much as I could hear my grandmother’s voice in the back of my mind saying: “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” (Really? Is that so? I could argue against her theology but I respect the deceased and I think she probably would have a better perspective on it than I would.  You think?)

Okay. Where was I ? (You know I said I am unorganized.) Anyhow, it’s like Jesus when I get to moving and ordering things around.  I changed the entire environment.  I can’t say that I did everything that I need to do, but I definitely made some real, genuine progress. 

Jesus taught in the temple.  That goes along with His proclamation as a “house of prayer.”  Here’s the real deep part for you.  I didn’t teach as much as I learned.  You see, I learned that my mess was interfering with the “pursuit of happiness”  [Not the Will Smith flick with his son; that was the Pursuit of Happyness, I believe] for my family and people who I work with (when I “work”).  It also let me know that if my daughter didn’t have to ride in my car, she would gladly ride in something else.  I learned how being me and letting things go and get out hand can lead to me hurting others.  That is not good.  That is not a Christ-like existence.  I had to make a change to make my relationships better off.  I will definitely keep you posted. (Keep me in prayer.)

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“. . . And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”
Joshua 4:7 NKJV

The children of Israel needed these stones. They didn’t need them erected as an idol. They needed these stones to serve as a reminder, a memorial of what God had done on their behalf. These stones would not simply serve as a conversation piece. Joshua shared: They will be a sign among you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these rocks mean?’ These stones would allow the children of Israel to share their testimony with their children and their children’s children.

It’s one thing to have testimony, but many of us need to have lives that serve as a voiceless testimony of God’s goodness to us. People need to see God in our lives as much as they hear about Him from us. We need to demonstrate and display the change that God has made in our lives. People will see it. Although they may not recognize it, they will see it as something different that sets us apart from others.

Proverbs warns us not to remove the landmark set in place by our forefathers. In Proverbs 22:28, the Word teaches that the landmark was set in place for a reason that was given to those who came before us. Let us learn about that reason before we set our hearts and minds on removing it. In Proverbs 23:10, greed is addressed by warning people not to remove the ‘ancient landmark’ or oppress the poor by taking their land. Our obsession with accumulation may make us oblivious to the way we treat others, even our ancestors and their legacy.

With a lifestyle that respects the past, people will see us as blessed and ask what does it mean and how did we arrive at such a place in this life. We will be able to share about His goodness and His mercy towards us. God wants to work through us to reach others. Let the ancient landmark serve as a reminder to us that our lives our on display before the entire world. Keep it as a memorial.

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