Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Brothers!!! (Hebrews 2:11-18)

“For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying,
"I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise."
And again,
"I will put my trust in him."
And again,
"Behold, I and the children God has given me."
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Lately reading this passage it’s made me think about my brother Justin and God has used events from our relationship to remind me of my relationship with my Brother Jesus!

One thing in the passage is that Christ says that He’s not ashamed to call us his family.

It was my senior year in high school during basketball season. We were playing our cross town rivals. The coach wants to put me in with barely any time left. Filled with anger and pride, I just look at him like he’s stupid and he decides to leave me on the bench and put someone else in. On top of everything else, it was incredibly embarrassing!

But in my embarrassment, I look up into the stands and see one of our teachers and security officer having to try and calm down my brother, who seems to be more upset than I am that I’m not playing and looks like he’s ready to come out of the stands and fight our coach for not putting me in the game.
In a time of great shame, when my brother had every right to be ashamed of me and to pretend like he wasn’t my brother, He stood up and fought for me and showed the people around me that He cares for me. And I know that’s what Jesus does for me all the time. Every day in my life I give Jesus reasons to be ashamed to call me His brother and every day Jesus Christ stands up for me and says, “I’m not ashamed of you brother!”

Another thing in this passage I love is that Jesus becomes like us in every way so that he can help us and stand up for us. There’s something different about fighting for someone when you know what they’ve been through because you’ve experienced it yourself. Christ came to earth, was tempted, suffered and died so that he could be our helper. He knows how hard life is because he went through. He knows the pain we feel because He felt it!

When my brother stood up for me that day, he wasn’t just some random fan who said, “That’s not fair,” but he knew what I was going through. He went through practices, he went through conditioning. He knew how hard it was and all the work we put in to this team. And so Justin could sympathize with me and stand up for me in a way no one else could!

God I just want to thank you for my brothers! I thank you that you’ve used my brother Justin to teach me more about my brother Jesus. I thank you that Christ stands up for us in ways no one else can because He went through the same struggles we have in life. God I pray that just as you’ve used Justin to teach me about Jesus, you would use him to teach our family and his fiancĂ© Maggie about Jesus too.

Justin---I Love You and Happy Birthday!!!

p.s. Mom I promise your blog is coming!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Most Important Thing in Life Is Showing Up (Quote from the movie Hardball)

It was the last week of football this season at ASU. They’re getting ready for the biggest game in the year and with the changes in practice times I haven’t been able to show up it to practice in a while.

I show up and jokingly one of the coaches says, “Man, even the people of God bail on you when you’re losing!” We laughed and talked more about why I hadn’t been at practice lately, but the more I thought about it, the more it really bothered me. I hate that I didn’t show up when the team was going through some rough times. I hate that I didn’t show up in my relationships with these players and coaches the way I should. And I hate that, even if it was joking, that the people of God to this coach are people who don’t show up!

It got me thinking about how important it is for Christians to show up in peoples’ lives.
I can think back on times in my life where certain people just showed up and God used that to really impact my life and show me more of Him.

I thought about my dad. In today’s society, to have a father is a blessing in itself, but I had a dad who was involved in my life, who came to my games, to my banquets, to my graduations, he cared enough to discipline me….I had a dad who loved me so much that he showed up in my life.

I can remember when I was playing baseball in high school. I was having a bad season and was starting to get depressed. I was up at the field practicing by myself, pissed off at the world, and without my knowing or permission, my dad drove up. He got out of the car, he let me vent to him, he encouraged me, and we played catch and just talked about what was going on in my life. He showed up to help me when I was struggling!

Another time was again in high school at the end of my senior year in football. It was the last game I would ever play in high school. The game ended, we lost and I was walking around the field, trying not to let the moment go. There weren’t a lot of people left in the stadium, mostly janitors, but I remember my dad walking on the field to meet me and walk with me and tell me he was proud of me. He showed up to be with me in times of loss.

There are plenty other stories of my dad showing up, but God really used these two to remind me of Himself. As I write I think about the passage where it says, “Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) My heavenly Father used my earthly father to show me how much He cares for me. Even in the littlest and most insignificant of things, I can bring it to Him and He’ll show up and be there for me!

Another passage I thought of is Jeremiah 29:10-11-“I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

I’m so thankful that we serve a God who shows up in all areas in our lives. I’m so thankful that God blessed me with a father who showed up in my life and used him to teach me about Himself. And I’m so thankful that God loves us so much that He showed up, in the form of man, to be our Savior so that we could know the love He has for us and to be rescued from a life of despair into a future of hope.

I’m also thankful that God’s given me the ability to show up. And as I remember how my dad showed up in my life and how the Lord used it in a mighty way, I pray that he would let me show up in the lives of others and would use me showing up to teach people about the love He has for them!
Love You Dad!!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Seeing With Redemptive Eyes!!!

I was sitting in a men’s Bible study that Alonzo Brown started in one of the barber shops of our neighborhood. We were rapping about the prodigal son (Luke 15) and how we’ve all rebelled openly against God in different ways in our lives. Then this man Irvin made a comment that just sent a thunder clap to my heart,

“I thank God for prison! Prison saved my life!”

Being able to look back on our lives with Redemptive Eyes and see all that God allowed us to go through… and to thank him for it is something the Lord has really been teaching me these last few months. Irvin has Redemptive Eyes! Eyes that saw the Big Picture! Eyes that weren’t looking to complain or blame God for the things he went through, but to learn from and worship God for the things he allowed to happen.

This makes me think about the movie Signs (alien movie with Mel Gibson in it). All of these strange things are happening throughout the movie (girl leaving water everywhere, kid has asthma, brothers a baseball player) that don’t make a whole lot of sense until the end of the story. Then they all come together to make complete sense, Mel Gibson sees the Big Picture and he‘s able to use it to save his family. God wants to use all the things in our lives for His Redeeming Purposes!

I can think back on my life when I was just oblivious to Christ working in my life. The times where I only came to him during sports and prayed for a win, but didn’t care to know God and lived in complete rebellion to Him.
The times where I should have died driving home drunk or being in the car with friends when they were getting blazed, or breaking the law and the running from the police or fornicating and committing adultery because that what makes you a man……..
I can look back on all these things and say,
“God, I’m so thankful to be alive…. And that You didn’t kill me back then….when I deserved for You to strike me down, You loved me despite of where I was. You didn’t leave me there! You loved me and were merciful to me! And God some of the biggest things you allowed to hurt me are some of the biggest things you used to help me! Thank you God!!!!"
As believers we must put on Redemptive Eyes. God does not want to be divorced from any area of our lives. He wants to use our lives, and I pray he would continue to use mine, as a soundtrack, a commercial for his ultimate Redemption of His people.

And that’s my prayer for our neighborhood. That God would use the bad around us to teach and help people. That the families and boys and girls we love and give our lives away to would be able to see God’s Big Picture in their lives, even in the mist of pain and worship Him for the love and mercy he’s shown them, even when they were oblivious to His work in their lives!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Will You Not See?

This past month, time after time, my heart just breaks with joy and amazement when God reminds me that He can take what the world says is the worst of situations, the worst of places and even the worst of people and use it for His glory, My Good and the Advancement of the Gospel! A few examples:

The worst of places---When moving out of my apartment in West Montgomery called the Prado, I realized I was leaving a place with great need. Drugs everywhere, women and men drink all day while their kids, who should be in school, run around a parking lot barefoot looking for someone or something to past the time. God did allow me to build some great relationships in my 6 weeks there, but it hurt my heart to think of all that I would be leaving. Then as I was walking through the parking lot, I looked down in the gutter and! Flowers were growing out of this gutter! Random, but it made me stop, smile, and praise God because it was a way for me to see that God can take the worst of places, even the most unexpected places and use them to bear fruit. Lord use the Prado and the people there to bear Your fruit and to make Montgomery stop, smile and praise You!

The worst of situations---Common Ground is working on a new Community Center. I was a part of the first clean up crew on the building and thought to myself, like many others, why not just tear it down and start over? Fast forward about 3 months later....It was my first time back in the building since that day in January. The building got a new paint job, all the trash is gone and we walk's spotless! The boards are all up separating our different rooms and offices, the sheet rock's up on most of it, ready to be painted, getting closer and closer to the day when the kids in our neighborhood don't have to hang out on the streets but can come and use and grow in our center. Sounds like the normal process of remodeling a building, but for me it was a time God used to show me His transforming power, even when our work seems hopeless and we should just "tear it down and start over." Lord as you've transformed our community center use it to help transform our community!

The worst of people---I was in church one Sunday in January! The news has just come out and is surprising to most....Joshua Conley, a white male will be working at Alabama State University, a Historically Black University! It doesn't make sense to a lot of people around me. In fact one older man grabs me by the arm and says, "Do you really think you'll make any difference over there with those people?" I am probably the worst candidate (in the eyes of the world) to take up the ministry going on at ASU!
Praise God that He isn't constrained by our preferences and can use the worst of candidates to bring the good news of the Gospel to the lost. This semester God used me to share the Gospel with tons of African American college students during our weekly meetings, and blew my mind when He used me to lead 5 freshman (1 girl, 4 guys/ 1 Mexican, 1 Puerto Rican, 3 African Americans) to trust Christ as their Lord and Savior!
And just a few weeks ago, in church, the man who once thought that I wouldn't have any impact on the campus at ASU, grabbed me and told me, "I'm proud of all the work you're doing over there!"
Father praise you that you can use the worst of situations, places and people to transform this world and to build your kingdom. I pray that you would continue to use me at ASU and that you would use ASU to rock this city and this world.

The passage of Scripture God's reminded me of during these times is Isiah 43:18-19-"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
Where there is no clear path before us, God creates one. Where there is no natural refreshment, God provides it!
I hope that as you finish reading this, you would watch as God, through the worst of places, situations, even people around you makes a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert!

Soli Deo Gloria---God's Glory Alone!!!