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The Christian Response to Hate: Where is the Love

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5 Thoughts about Charlottesville

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History was made this weekend. Our nation’s under belly has again been exposed. America is indeed a melting pot but its got some serious leaks that if left unaddressed will lead to flooding and destruction.

  1. White Supremacy as well as any view that holds one ethnicity as superior over others is a demonic ideology that should be justly denounced by all people especially Christians.

2. Our country is being driven by extremists and people stuck in their ideological caves who can’t bear listening or trying to understand the beliefs or positions of others. Our culture loves screaming. Whether its in sports entertainment or politics, civil conversation and dialogue has been tossed out the door.  We need civility. We need a national conversation on race, and maybe a national review of history because its clear that many people want to revisit times when the church and government stood quiet in the midst of state sponsored and condoned terrorism. Our laws grant the right to protest, and to be able to express our beliefs as long as we do it peacefully. The merits of those beliefs are what need to be laid plain in public debate.  The ideology that  justified the extermination of the original natives of the land,  one that drove government policy to place Japanese in externment camps,  hang blacks, and lock them up for not having identification is akin to the ideology that is animating these protests. It is one that views all other races as subordinate to the White Race. It is abysmal. Let’s not get it twisted, the protests were not just about protesting the removal of a historical monument, but the rise of the New White Supremacists is a response to the growing minority population and a reaction to the charges of being called racist for wanting to hold on to the memories of a White America.

3. For our nation to thrive we must focus on the things that unite us without ignoring the areas where we are different. Our politics are more polarized then ever. We have gotten to the point where supporters of the other political party are considered our enemies. I have read comments suggesting they be hung, executed and or deported. This is ridiculous. We hate our neighbors next door, we are distrustful of anyone that doesn’t look, speak, or dress like us. We listen to our own media channels, and worse call anything that we doesn’t agree with our position, “fake news”. Its so easy to control you if you cannot even look or listen to other outlets. We have to use critical thinking. Remember the source and the character of the person you are listening to. Scripture points out that you will find wisdom in the multitude of council. If you cannot trust the media, then all you have is propaganda. If we have propaganda, then we no longer have an informed electorate and the basis of our democracy is dead. We are being controlled and manipulated by much larger forces, who are looking for more power and control of our government, our lives and our mind. The Devil is having a field day with all this hate. If you are getting to the point where you hate anyone who does not look like you, then you have lost.  That is what White Supremacy is about and on the other hand there are elements of other ethnic or sexual superiority on the other end of the spectrum. For Christians we are taught to love our enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use us. How can we be christians when we hate our brothers who are of a different political party. How can we be christians when we are quick to break up families of people with different skin tones. How can we be christians when we are scared of muslims? I’m not even talking about the radical ones in the middle east, but any one with a a burqua or hoody. This is crazy.

4. Scriptures call us to speak out against sin.

Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God 

10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

As believers we have to condemn Racism, in all of its forms. We cannot give a platform to bigotry. However the gates of hell have started to open up and if believers, especially White evangelicals stay silent, we will see it sweep through the populace, even in the church.

5. Finally we must continue to pray.  The American Church is being tested. What will we stand for? We cannot give in whole heartedly to any political side, for the kingdom of God is much grander and will not be supplanted by a political ideology. We have a gospel to proclaim, and not just one that saves us from individual sins, but against crooked systems.

29“The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. 30I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. 

The judgment of God is near, and we as the church need to intercede for our country, for our leaders, for our elected officials and for our brethren. We must stand against corruption, bribery, systematic oppression and for the poor, the needy and the immigrant that is passing through. My brothers, let us pray, for God is in the midst of separating the wheat from the chaff. There are dark forces that have arisen from the shadows, that will not return except through love, prayer and condemnation.

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5 Qualities in a Good Wife

 

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The Bible says in Proverbs 18:22

He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.

So let me tell yall, that I definitely hit the lottery with my wife. So in my Fire Marshall  Bill voice (Let me tell ya something), this is a free bee, the best place to find a good wife, is in the House of God.

Regardless of whether you find a wife in the House of God, here are 5 qualities in my wife that every man, particularly Christian men should look for.

1. A Love for God

Let me tell you when I was looking for a wife, I needed to find someone who loved God. That is the first commandment that God has for all people. I did not want to marry someone who was apathetic about God. I did not want someone to dampen my zeal for God,  I have enough flaws as it is. I did not want someone who was going to send me to Hell. My wife has a relationship with God. Its why I married her.  I’m telling you if your wife does not love God and you do, you will have some obstacles trying to serve God. For those of you who may not believers, a wife who loves God can eventually get your butt saved, and save your from the biggest mistake you will ever make in your life. My wife loves God. A bonus about a woman who loves God, is even when you screw up, which you will, a woman who loves God will be a little more merciful. Fellas, I have made some bad decisions, and my wife has seen me through because she loved God. You will make mistakes, and you want to know your wife’s got your back.  A wife who loves God  will also point you back to the mercies of God. The bigger thing for me, however is I know I had planned to have kids, and I wanted them to have certain values and I wanted them to avoid Hell. As Christian men we have to live for more than this life, we know there’s a next one and I wanted my wife to help me instruct my children that there is a deeper life that we need to aspire to.

2. My wife loved me for me

Boy this is so big. I don’t think I have seen another woman who can compare to my wife on this point. Fellas, when I met my wife I was a broke grad student, with a bad wardrobe, but a good heart, and some decent looks. Fellas I married up. My wife had a better job then me, she was and is better looking then me, and had all kinds of guys after her. I still don’t know how I got her to marry me. She still doesn’t know. Since I married my wife, I got better jobs, better wardrobe and better looking. That’s what you call favor from God. My wife brought me favor. Men,  you want to know your wife doesn’t love your for your job, for your money, for your position, for your influence, for what you can give her materially. My wife loved me for me, for my goofiness, she loved me for my vision, and the little charisma I had. I told her as God blesses us I would provide her with the material things. Men I live and lived in Southern California, even the Christian woman can be materialistic, You don’t find many woman like my wife.  To add some perspective, I planned to be a missionary and travel the world, so I figured I wouldn’t be balling and needed someone who was willing to ride when God sent me. Men I know you understand that you don’t have problems blessing your wife, having someone who knows her worth and knows its isn’t measured by what I can or can’t afford to buy is a lost value.  I recently took my wife to Tiffany & Co to do some browsing and after checking out the selection my wife decided she just wasn’t that interested. She has her same ring, but wasn’t that interested in upgrading her bling.

3. My wife is my friend and made me a better person.

Fellas your wife has to be your friend or your marriage won’t work. I have shared my biggest struggles with my wife. She knows my darkest secrets and my dreams. My wife wants to talk alot more than I do, but that’s cool. At least I know she is interested in me. She genuinely likes me. She wants me as her companion, and as her confidant. I like going places with my wife, walking with her, watching programs with her. Dancing with her. Going to church with her. I can be myself without putting on any pretense. Some relationships are more like a business relationship, and when you have multiple kids its hard because that time gets limited. However when its just me and my wife I can enjoy her and tap into her mind. My wife also makes me a better person. I am a little more sensitive, though I still need to work on that. My wife makes me think less about me, and more about my family. She also challenges me to be more like Christ, and lets me know when I fall short.

4. My wife is a good mom

I always wanted to have children. My wife wanted children. We love our children. My wife is a great mom. She loves them hard. She loves them a little too much, but that’s okay. My wife preferred to stay home and help raise our children instead of her career. She was willing to sacrifice,  because she loves our children. She cooks for them helps them with their homework, and she loves it. Some women see it as a chore, she can at times but she genuinely loves being with our kids. I like knowing my children are in good hands. Fellas especially young men, these qualities are getting harder to find. My wife also can cook. Fellas this is a big issue. I like knowing my kids and I don’t have to worry about throwing our plates full of nasty food in the trash. I like knowing my wife teaches my children about God. She teaches them morals. My wife is about her family. She’s one of a kind. Single men, if you want a family, make sure your wife is a family woman.

5.  My wife is fine and virtuous 

After a few kids, my wife still looks good. She hardly ages. People ten years younger than us still think we are their age. When you are looking for wife find someone you are attracted to. Someone you don’t mind taking out in public. I’m kidding, but I’m not. Men our sex drive is strong, so its important to find someone who can meet that need. I’m so blessed to have a wife who turns me on . As Christians we don’t have the luxury of testing out our woman before we marry, or having different woman, but you want to be aroused by your wife.  You also prefer your wife not to be flirty with other man, and not to have extensive history if you can avoid it. There’s a lot of temptation out there for woman as well. You want your wife to be strong and avoid those temptations.

To my wife: Babe you are one of a kind. I know I found a diamond with you. You are all I could dream of and I know many men would love to have a wife like you. I still don’t know why you married me, but I’m so glad you did. I pray that God will bless you and increase you and use you for his glory.

To my readers: Men please find someone who possesses these qualities. If you do, you’ll  be better off in the long run. Make sure the one you marry will be down with you through the thick and thin.

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7 Things I Love About Stay At Home Moms.

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The modern world with its tendency to classify sociological trends did something interesting. It birthed the title, “stay at home mom”. This describes a sociological shift that occurred in part to industrialization, the rising costs of living, and the potential for greater earnings, where more and more women began entering the workforce. The shift was so great that it needed to distinguish the difference between a “working mom and a stay at home mom”. The biggest myth however when using such descriptors is that a stay at home mom does not “work”.

I want to give a special shot out to the oldest vocation in the world. In fact it is only due to the lack of compensation that it is not the oldest profession in the world.

Let me go way back, back, back, back, in time. Back to the beginning of time. Back to the original command given to man. God himself in Genesis 1:28 states

And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

This great command given to mankind could only be possible given the execution of this role and position; Mom.

The role of all mothers is not merely to usher new life into the world, a great feat on its own, but it is to train, nurture, instruct life enabling human flourishing. It is not just the birthing of the seed, but the tending and gardening of it to see that it realizes all the potential inside.

So here are 7 things I love about my wife and all stay at home moms.

You do it for the love of kids.
When most of the world focuses on compensation, you focus on the love of the kids. This may not apply to all moms, because there are some husbands who due to their overprotectiveness, or insecurity force their wives to stay home.Regardless of the reason, a mom who stays at home is home benefits the kids. Kids need their mothers.Our world is so crazy in that kids spend more time at schools, sleeping, than with their parents. What is even more disappointing is that the stress to place our children in preschool or day care at 3 months old or even younger robs children of that precious time when they are oh so impressionable and need their moms.

Your job is hard
A stay at home mom particularly is a teacher, a chef, a taxidriver, an entertainer, an advocate, counselor, and maid. Your shift lasts much longer than 8-10 hours and you get no overtime. The only raises you see, are the amount of noise and the cost of expenses needed for the job.What can you say, you do it for the love of the kids.

You guys are sooooo important.
In an age where there is so much pressure to get ahead, or to reach the american dream, its nice to know that the time sacrificed to be with the kids is worth not getting there as fast. Even if its a year, or two that you have. That time is invaluable. Time goes so fast. Treasure the time with your kids. Even when you don’t feel like you are making as much a difference, trust me your kids appreciate the fact that they are with their mom.

I know its lonely out there
Its hard being the only adult in the room all day. Its hard not getting to have adult conversations, and knowing your husband is out working potentially with other woman who are made up, and dressed nice. Yet you are not alone. There are plenty of mothers in the same shoes.

Its not about the money, but use it wisely

Its still hard but its easier to be a mom when your husband is making really good money. Not all mom’s are on the same playing field, some have to make it work with less. Super Kudos to those mom’s who can feel the pinch but budget, and use coupons, who save and find resources to make it all work.  Remember you are investing in your kids, but also remember each husband has his own expectations about spending. Please do your best to stay within those lanes. For those moms who are the accountants and manage all the bills, here’s a special shout out. You guys rock! Special shout out to my wife who always finds ways to take care of us without breaking the bank.

Make sure you get your self time
I have a great wife who always is thinking of the kids or for my well being, at the expense of taking care of herself. I have to tell her its okay to go to the gym. The kids will survive. She needs to relieve the stress. I am happy when my wife goes out with her friends and has a ladies night out. I know my wife loves when we are out and the kids are home and we have the time with just us. My biggest concern however for moms who are always giving is that soon you can begin running on fumes. Don’t forget about developing yourself. Never stop growing. Find ways to utilize your strengths, plan for what you want to do when your kids age, and you can go back to work. Be a mentor and help new moms. Read books. Never stop learning. Don’t be afraid to get all dressed up , made up.

You are fulfilling the Great Commission

This is for all those believers who are mothers.Just as God wanted to populate the earth, he also wants to populate heaven. Do you know God counts the empty seats in heaven. Do you know once that last seat is filled, its time to wrap it up. Please disciple your kids. Please pray with them, read the bible with them, and imitate humility, mercy, forgiveness and love not just for them but for God and your husband. You are also their first pastor. Moms you are shepherds. Feed your sheep, not just material food but spiritual food as well. Moms you guys can impact and set a strong foundation for faith for your children while they are young. God honors that, in fact that was always his plan.Remember you are helping to unlock all the potential that is in your child.

 

 

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When your faith is weak

Here’s a podcast about how to respond when our faith is under attack.

 

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The one thing ISIS got right

ISIS Al-Qaeda Militants Fighting Syrian Civil War

Its amazing to see the phenomenon known as IS or ISIS grow in the speed it has. From a relative unknown faction fighting in a civil war, the group has grown from a local unknown militia, to world wide terrorist group. Fueled by political and religious motivations, the group has been recruiting young, idealistic, frustrated, disenfranchised and confused youth by skillful propaganda. Ironically, its draw; the invitation to take on the wicked governments who are killing women, children and civilians has been the very thing that ISIS has itself turned into. Beheading christians and muslims from other sects is a norm for the organization.  Now with members  in the tens of thousands, the group has been making gains in Iraq, and in Syria, but is now being opposed by coalition forces in Iraq, and by other rebels in Syria.

There are a host of narratives that are intriguing about the religion, politics, and eschatology as it relates to ISIS and its intersection with Christianity but the one I want to address is this question.

What if Christianity was as successful at sending new missionaries to the front lines as ISIS?

There are many different hypothesis that experts are using to explain the growing numbers of recruits. Some call it the perfect storm of propaganda, idealism, disenchantment, adventure and opportunity. We are seeing young people leave their homes, with out any consideration of their future, their families, or even well being to fight what appears to be a glorious fight, against what is being painted as “an evil enemy”. These people with no military background are jumping to the front lines and willing to give up their lives for what they consider an honorable cause. We know that these recruits are falling for a bait and switch, and that the righteous cause that they thought they were joining is really more wicked and depraved than the governments they are opposed to.Yet something has to be said about the undertone, the undercurrent and the narrative to be apart of something more about building a kingdom that has caused so many young people to join.

The words of Jesus come to mind when I think about the willingness to give up everything.

25Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Now, I know the phrase hate his own father, mother and wife will throw people off. Jesus is not telling his disciples to hate their families, because we know that Jesus’ main command is to love God and to love our neigbhors. What he is saying that we cannot let even the things we hold dear keep us from following Christ. In order to follow Christ, we must be prepared to leave the things we consider most precious to us, our family, and even our lives. These things may not always be necessary, but in the event that they do stand in the way Jesus says we should be prepared to give up everything. The invitation to carry the cross, is an invitation to death, its a call that says to follow Christ we must subordinate our dreams, desires, expectations, and plans and hopes for our lives for something greater. We are no to no longer focus on building our own kingdoms, but the kingdom of God. We must be ready to give our lives to following Christ and building his kingdom. My brothers and sisters in Egypt know this well, as many of them lost their lives to ISIS soldiers and recognized that this high cost of giving their lives was worth knowing and gaining Christ.

My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ around the world,

We are invited to the greatest mission in the world. We are also fighting an enemy, a system, a corrupt kingdom with the greatest dictator of them all. He like Pharoah refuses to let his slaves go, and he is willing to fight tooth and nail, not only to prevent his citizens from leaving, but to reenslave those who have left his grasp. Our weapons however are not physical, they are spiritual.

for though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Our primary weapons are prayer, God’s word and disciplined lives of obedience. Their is an evil dictator that we cannot take down with AK47’s antitank weaponry, and bombs. The way we take him out is by our groups of militias (churches) praying , and preaching, and confronting the idealogies and false gods of this world, that are holding the world captive. We must discipline ourselves against sin, and make sure that we do not get carried away with the materialism, secularism, or racism that has imprisoned the world. We must love our enemies, and pray for them. To my brothers and sisters in Lybia, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, India, Pakistan, Russia, and China. Please continue to pray for those soldiers who may be killing your family. Pray that they may come to the light. Pray that they may know the one true savior, Jesus. For my brothers and sisters around the world, let us pray for patience and strength for our family who is being persecuted. Let us also pray for protection and that the forces such as ISIS may be stopped.

There are many things that ISIS errors on, but the one thing that it got right, is it knew it had to invite people into a bigger story, a larger narrative. We as believers must invite people into something bigger, something timeless, something eternal. Its about establishing the kingdom of God and joining in the work of spreading the gospel around the world.

The world is a volatile one, and will continue to be one until Christ comes. In the mean time we must recognize who the real enemy is. Yes there are corrupt government officials, but there is one even more corrupt pulling the strings. The god of this world is using these so called leaders as puppets. I am by no means saying that we should not seek political means to fight, but we should recognize that they can only do so much.

We need more laborers, we need more soldiers in this fight. We fight on our knees. Please join with me in praying that those in darkness may come to the light. Pray for more laborers. Pray for your brothers in the West who have been caught up in living for themselves, and pray that our Lord Jesus may come soon.

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Superbowl: Putting the game in perspective

Its no secret that the Superbowl is an unofficial holiday in America. I’m surprised we don’t get the Monday off from work to recover from the food comatose that ensues each game. Besides Thanksgiving more food is bought for Superbowl Sunday than any day of the year.   Football has replaced baseball as the national past time, so it makes sense that the biggest game of the year is a big deal. Its no coincidence that many of America’s idols converge on Superbowl. The big four are entertainment, consumerism, sex and gluttony.

Many men in the church know more football players than bible characters, more NFL teams than books of the Bible. They spend more money attending games than giving to a church, more time celebrating touchdowns, and crying over defeats than celebrating their salvation and weeping over their sin.

Houston we have a problem.  Now I’m not some purist who doesn’t watch the NFL, though I think the college game is more entertaining. My personal sports addiction has been the NBA. I have been working on monitoring the time I watch and read about it.  I’m not here to say that watching games or even going to parties is wrong. There is a time for everything. A time for the Seahawks to repeat, A time for balls to deflate. A time for Brady to be shady and on and on we go.

I do think we as believers need to do more than have viewing parties at churches. I think we need to really address some of these issues and internalize how we are doing in dealing with our countries idols.  Isn’t it amazing the amount of garbage we will be fed during the Superbowl. There will be a couple of funny commercials, but along with those there will be plenty of sex driven ads for beer, food, or some automobile. I have never been a fan of half time shows, because without fail they will have some wierdly costumed singers, prancing on the stage doing some gyration usually with someone breakdancing in the background while patches of rabid fans are jumping up and down in adulation. There is likely to be some cooky imagery  and stage decorations which will convince you the stage designers are in league with the devil or “illuminati” : ) and for the most part the music will not be my cup of tea.  I mean if we throw a Shad, Andy Mineo and Dream Junkies (Don’t worry if you don’t know who they are) to perform maybe that would be something different.

Its sad to think that for many people without God, this is a highlight of their year, and yet when it ends then what. As believers we believe in something that transcends a game, a show, something that transcends the food, the friends, the ads. We are awaiting a King to return, and that’s when the real celebration will begin. The task then is how to communicate this truth with our friends, neighbors, and family. In truth we have to be as excited about our God then anything else. You know the Oscars are coming up, and I could write the same article and just move around a couple of things, because maybe you are not in to sports, but into film, or fashion, pageantry, and awards. The point is that the best that the world has to offer can not hold a candle to what we will experience when our God comes in his glory. But where does your greatest excitement lie?  I thank God for these events, and I praise God when he allows athletes on big stages to glorify him. I’m looking at you Russell Wilson. The application however lies in how can I communicate with my sphere of influence the goodness and greatness of God in my life, whether I’m “winning, or losing” , because with God we are always winners. That’s why Paul says, “We are more than conquerers through him that loved us.” So when the commercials stop, the madness ends, the last chip is dipped, let us be thankful, but prayerful that the world may see and worship the God to whom all glory is due.

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Seven Things I Learned From My First Seven Years of Marriage With Poem

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By the grace of God, my wife and I just reached seven years of marriage together. It has been a mind blowing experience.  A roller coaster with plenty of twists, turns, and bumps. But through those years I have gained some knowledge, and inspired by my wife I decided I would like to share some things with you. So here are seven things I learned from my first seven years of marriage

1. I didn’t know what I was getting into

Its easy to think about marriage when you are dating, but the level of commitment, trust, and communication is a lot deeper when you get married. When you are dating you can always withdraw or go back to the safety of your own home if your not shacking up. Even still there’s the option of taking a break, or breaking up. With marriage you don’t really have that option. You have to learn how to problem solve. You have to learn how to work things out. At the same time there are so many awesome moments when you share the deep desires of your heart with the person you love, and because of your commitment together, sometimes its easier to say things because you are not as fearful and because you have built a strong level of trust.

2. Good Marriages take work

To survive a marriage you need to put in some work. to have a good marriage it takes even more work. There is a lot of sacrificing, a lot of communication required. There’s times where you need to get advice from older healthier couples. My wife and I have read a couple books, but bought even more and have been to seminars, or conferences to learn how to have a healthier marriage. There are times when we went to counseling to help us through difficult parts. I thank God for our counselor. He has been a blessing. Yet despite all of the learning, there is the implementing of what you are reading and that’s the hardest part. A big part of marriage is learning how to rid yourself of all the bad habits you had when you were single.

3. There are seasons in marriage

Anyone who’s been married long enough will tell you that marriages go through seasons. Some honey moon periods last from a couple of hours to a couple of years. But the honeymoon will end, as life hits you with its twists and turns. The high of dating and being infatuated ends and then you have to learn how to do life together. This is where the friendship aspect of marriage comes in. You have to be romantic, but you also have to know how to be friends, how to talk to one other, to be kind with one another. Communication is so key, we must continually probe and stay interested in our spouses. There’s times when we have to deal with turmoil and loss which often leads to wintery seasons. The wintery seasons can make or break your marriage. They actually teach you how to problem solve, and if you can do that and communicate in a healthy way it will definitely strengthen your marriage. Not all seasons are created equally. Some seasons last longer than others, but you can work your way out of  some of them if you abide by godly principles.

4. Keep boundaries with your family

One of the biggest things about marriage is that you are now starting your own family unit which now takes priority. As a married couple you have to decide how you are going to deal with uncomfortable family dynamics. Family is always family, but as a unit you must communicate that your spouse is important to you and is now your priority. Depending on your family this can become tricky, but one tip that my wife and I learned from a counselor was this. Do not share all of your marital drama with your parents b/c it will inadvertently affect how they treat your spouse. Parents are for the most part biased, and you don’t want to give any ammunition to look at your spouse in a negative light.  This is not to say you cannot share anything, but to realize sharing marital problems is adding another party to the mix that can often stir things up more. This is why its better to find outside counsel if possible.

5. Laughter makes the heart grow fonder

Try to have fun. Whether its date night, watching funny programs, tickling each other or cracking jokes, laughter makes things so much easier. I can tell you there are times when it felt like things were falling apart, how much easier it is when you just take a step back and laugh. I have heard plenty of stories where huge arguments started over the most simple things. You have to learn how to laugh at yourself. Flirt with each other. Be around funny people. Watch a funny movie. One thing I love about my wife is her bad sense of humor. She tells jokes that no one else will laugh at but herself; its cute. Though we have different tastes in comedy, just seeing her laugh makes the air lighter.

6. Sex/Intimacy covers a multitude of sins

I know that this may seem a little crude, but sex is a good thing. Men often but not always crave sex more than their female counterparts. For a man regular sex keeps his appetite from raging and can keep him from roaming for greener pastures. I couldn’t believe stories of men going for months up to a year without having sex. That is torture and a recipe for unfaithfulness. There are times when my wife and I have been at odds, but often times being intimate physically released some of the tensions so we could move forward. When I speak of intimacy, that is that time when you gaze in to your spouses eyes, when you brush her hair with your hand, a gentle caress and just talk. You talk about dreams, goals, sometimes worries and fears. What separates this from regular conversation is the closeness and attentiveness both physically, mentally and emotionally. Women desire intimacy like men desire sex. Its a constant drive that needs to be fulfilled.

7. Prayer and Scripture are vital and work

I prayed before I met my wife, I prayed before I married her, I still continue to pray with her and for her. It is the lifeblood of our relationship. I believe God was active in our relationship, and I believe that he has a bigger purpose than us just living together and having a family. We pray in times of good and bad. Prayer is the act of us directly inviting God into our relationship. We ask him to break off the stubbornness of our partner during times when it seems like they are deaf. I pray that God would soften my heart when at times I get callous. For a Christian prayer and study of God’s word are instrumental to the process of sanctification( growing to become more like Christ) How can we become more like Christ if we don’t pray or know his Word.  Prayer and study hasn’t always been easy. There have been times where I or my wife have been too mad to pray together, so one of us stayed silent or just refused. However I have noticed the more frequent we pray both individually and collectively the more attentive and focused we are.

There are so many things that I could add, but out of the respect for seven I will limit it to these. Maybe I will do a part two for Valentine’s day. But to close this blog out I want to close with some descriptions of marriage from some of our closest married friends, but I will lead with my wife who inspired this section.

Your spouse is not responsible for your happiness” ( That was real good babe, you put me to shame. )

“Marriage is a roller coaster. Strap in and enjoy the ride”!

“Marriage is like a delicate flower. It must be cared for, watered daily, never handled roughly and the Son must shine on it each day.” 

“In a world of celebrities constantly splitting up, having a good solid marriage is something that can make others believe that God makes a difference and that lifetime love is possible.”

“Marriage is a mosaic;  you build with your spouse millions of tiny moments that create your love story. “

“Marriage is God’s way of drawing us closer to him. Every day we have the opportunity to honor him by loving and respecting our spouse.”

This next poem is  one I wrote and dedicated to my wife.

Seventh Mile

We have reached a week, a cycle of seven

Many have slipped on their steps to heaven

But onwards we march, though the climbs steep

through the rocks and the crags, near the serpents that creep

We run through the dark with our torch in hand

Through the muddy waters, and through the quick sand

like a marathon runner except joined by the side

we race against foes that spurn and they pry

they bend and they blast, to undo and unfast

A couple shots we have taken,  a few arrows have pierced

the war on our bonds, has at times waged fierce

A cycle of seven, we have made it thus far

a journey to heaven, through the clouds to the stars

In your eyes I see sparks

In your arms I feel warm

That gives us strength as we rise

when we are blind in the storm

when we dance in the sun

let our love be the beat

let us spin and lets twirl

through the cold and the heat

A cycle of seven, with more yet to come

Our God calls us onward, so onward lets run

To my beautiful wife on our anniversary. I love you more with every inch and mile we step together. 

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Explaining Ferguson Rage : 5 reasons to be mad, its not just about Ferguson

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I remember when the Mike Brown shooting was first leaked. I shook my head as what seemed like another unjustified killing of a young black man. I remember talking and reading comments about the case on an online forum and agreeing with one of the other commenters that the police officer would not get indicted not because a lack of evidence, but because history has a way of repeating itself.

There are so many things that bother and grate me about the Ferguson case, but ironically one of the biggest of these is the lack of understanding by those outside the black community. All it takes is to look at a Yahoo message board and you will see tons of ignorant racist statements, that make you wonder if we have made progress at all in terms of race relations. It is obvious that there is a big disconnect, largely due to the different experiences between the different communities.

African Americans have had to deal with the lack of justice in our communities for over 300 years. We cannot and do not necessarily see the justice system in the same light as our white counterparts. For blacks, Ferguson is not just an isolated incident but another case of a legacy of blacks being killed with impunity.

So for those of you who are struggling to understand black outrage, I want to give you five reasons for rage.

1.From the 1600’s-1800’s Black slaves were killed with impunity by white slave owners.

Because blacks were seen as property, they were not even afforded due process of law. Millions of blacks were killed, murdered and raped on the way to this country or in the country without any legal consequences.

2. After slaves were emancipated in the early 1800’s  blacks were often lynched, hung (strange fruit),  beat, and killed by white cops, sometimes by white vigilantes without any political or legal repercussions.

3.We are not even 50 years from the civil rights era, so the photos and videos of police beating innocent black protesters, having ravenous dogs unleashed on them, along with imprisonment on trumped up charges are fresh in our minds

4. Many blacks have a huge distrust of police and law enforcement agencies such as the CIA  that seemed to turn a blind eye to the incoming flux of drugs from Latin America that flooded inner cities in the 70’s and 80’s. 

Some interesting facts about drugs and incarceration taken from naacp.org

  • About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug
  • 5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites
  • African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.
  • African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months).
  • Crime/drug arrest rates: African Americans represent 12% of monthly drug users, but comprise 32% of persons arrested for drug possession
  • In 2002, blacks constituted more than 80% of the people sentenced under the federal crack cocaine laws and served substantially more time in prison for drug offenses than did whites, despite that fact that more than 2/3 of crack cocaine users in the U.S. are white or Hispanic

5. Along with the discrepancies in incarceration there are scores of incidents of black men being unnecessarily shot or beaten:

Rodney King, Oscar Grant, Kendrec Mcdade, Timothy Russell, Amadou Diallo, Aaron Campbell, Trayvon Martin, and of course the latest Mike Brown. In many of these cases the assaulter got off with a lax penalty or none at all. In the Ferguson case there were so many things that were mishandled or done backwards that it just breeds distrust.

Besides these, many of us have personal experiences, myself included, of being pulled over, profiled, hassled, yelled at , talked down to simply for being black.

When you have multiple generations of family, friends, neighbors, strangers who have witnessed, experienced, and suffered harassment, and violence from the justice system, it changes the way you see the system. We are not making these things up. We have lived and will continue to live this reality out. The system was not made for us. We were an afterthought, that only came through the blood, sweat, tears and prayers of forerunners who fought for a better future. These forerunners protested for change. They cried out for justice. They marched, they organized, voted, fought, wept, were beaten, and were killed so that their children would not have to face the same injustices.  So when we see young, though not always innocent life taken, it makes us question the future of our sons, daughters and grandchildren.

Cover ups are not something new for us. Whereas some groups may take the word of officers and law enforcement officials at face value, we have learned that the face in front of the television is not always the same when the cameras and lights are off. There are signs, scents, faces, that are all too familiar. Our grandfathers and great grandmothers warned us about them, in videos, pictures, poems and head stones.

So we have a right to speak out, to march, to cry, to be angry to mistrust. Do not deprive me of my right to respond and react to cry and to scream, as long as I do not harm others or their property. There will always be knuckleheads, rabblerousers, who will take advantage and cause chaos, but do not condemn the whole for the actions of a few. If Abel’s blood cried out to God, be assured that there are rivers of blood that swamp inner city streets and rural dusty roads that call out for justice in a mighty chorus.

Yes, the black community has a lot to work on, but do not let that be your only response in times of anger and mourning.To my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ pray for our country, for our police, for our courts and your black brothers and sisters. Pray that justice be served. Weep with those that weep, and mourn with those who mourn. Listen to the cries of your brother mourning his child.  Whether you agree or disagree with the Ferguson decision at least try to understand. I close with a scripture and a prayer.

Far be it from you to do such a thing–to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

May the Judge of the Earth do right not only here but in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and across the globe.

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Am I the only one here?: Being a minority in Church

Changing churches can be a very stressful exercise. About a year ago, my family and I decided to move from our beloved city back to an area I grew up in. On top of our priority list was finding another church. Off the bat I knew I didn’t want to go to a thousand different churches, having to awkwardly stand up a thousand times during the meet the visitor segment of church services. That is just too much pressure. So I decided to do a little research, and try to trim the list of a thousand  down to a couple. Fortunately it didn’t take too long to find the church as God guided me to a really great church. But before I joined the church I had to address one big issue, can I go to a White Church?

It is hard to go from a multicultural to monocultural environment. One of the great qualities of my previous churches was the fact that they were very multicultural.  There’s nothing better than worshiping with other brothers and sisters from all nationalities. If I were to rank my level of comfortability in terms of church diversity I would prefer multicultural worship over a predominately black church. I  would even considered going to a spanish evangelical church where I would be a minority, but that would be okay because like some black churches they know how to get down( meaning they have passionate worship and preaching but at times extremely long services). Ironically, despite my preferences the two churches that I visited were both predominantly white.

One of the first things I do and I’m sure many others do as well when visiting a church is look for people that they can connect and relate to. This happens no matter what type of church you go to. If you are a teenager you will look for other teenagers, if you are single you will look for other singles, if you have a young family you look for others with young families. One of the most disappointing things to happen is to go to a church and feel like there’s no one or only a handful of people like you there. So when I visited the first church which is a good thriving church, I was immediately taken back by the lack of black people or diversity there. I felt a little uncomfortable, not because of anything that anyone said or didn’t say in particular, because the greeters and ushers were kind. The discomfort came because I felt that I would only be able to connect superficially, and because I felt like I was in a place where no one would really understand me.  I didn’t know it until processing it later but I actually experienced culture shock.   Its funny to think that culture shock can come in the same city that a person grows up in because we usually use the term when people go overseas to mission trips but here I was in the middle of church thinking this is probably not the place for me. In fact I must confess I actually had a little condescension for the one black guy I did notice, thinking he must be the token black guy.

To put things in context, I felt more out of place at that church then at the Korean church I where I served as the English Ministry Pastor. Ironically the Pastor of the Korean Church is a great example of displaying diversity. He first hired an Indian and then myself an African American to work with the korean  youth and young adults at his church. Part of my search for a home church was simply because the only other church services at that church was in Korean.

Often times we create self fulfilling prophecies when we put up guards before even getting the chance to know someone who seems different. This doesn’t just happen with race, but with language, class, gender etc.  Though we should embrace the opportunity of change , we have be honest with our experiences and our own makeup; sometimes juggling those conflicting feelings can be difficult.

God gave me another chance to do just that. While browsing online I found a great church.  It had great teaching, a great missions program, and did local outreach. The only downside I found was when I looked at pictures of the staff. At first glance I looked and saw that there were no people of color, but after checking again I saw that one of the pastors was Asian, not a total strikeout I thought.  So I decided to check out the church on Sunday with my family. This church though predominantly white, had a small mixture of other races, and a small amount of blacks. Like the other church the greeters were friendly, but for some reason I felt more comfortable. Though the church was not as diverse as I wanted it to be, all the other factors more than made up for it. After a couple of weeks I came to the determination that this was the most balanced church I had ever been to or seen.  So my family and I joined.

It was after joining and meeting the pastor that I understood why I felt more comfortable. My pastor in the new members class said something that I will never forget. When he assumed the pastorate there weren’t too many black families, and one of the most faithful  black families was considering leaving precisely because they felt unwelcome. After talking to that couple my  pastor told the church something amazing. “I will not pastor an all white church”. He told the church that he wanted more diversity,and that the church would have to change the way it looks at those who are of different ethnicities.  He explained to the new members in class that day, how that moment transformed the ethos of the church, and how though not perfect they became more conscious of how to treat others. This is one of many reasons that I love and respect my pastor. He cast a vision for the church and made a stand that diversity sometimes means challenging the status quo.

I’ve been at my church for over a year and have had to from time to time wrestle with the idea of what it means to me to be a minority in my church. I have to say that in the year I’ve been attending the church has grown a little more diverse, and that there are so many wonderful men and women of God who are genuinely loving and don’t see skin color. This doesn’t mean however that there have not been awkward or uncomfortable moments as well. But there will always be awkward moments, even without race, its just a part of fellowship.

One of the reasons that I write this is to partially share part of my journey in being a minority but also to give a little perspective on how some minority’s may think. In honor of black history I would like to close with a few recommendations for churches who want to become more diverse.

  •  The call for diversity is heard loudest when the Pastor is willing to not only communicate it, but stand for diversity.
  •  Sometimes minorities may feel a little uncomfortable even when you may be friendly, they may just be dealing with their own experiences and doubts of whether they will be accepted.
  • Minorities feel a little more comfortable when they see other minorities in leadership positions.
  • One of the ways to make others feel welcome is to just love on them.
  • Talk to them and get to know them without stereotyping.
  • Experience their culture; films, music, books, food
  • Recognize that even within ethnic groups theres great diversity of personalities that they are not one monolithic group.

The church is the one institution that God has left to testify to the world of his great love. This is why I get so excited when I see Koreans and Japanese, White and Black, Palestianian and Israeli brothers and sisters worshipping together. It proves that the love of God has no boundaries. I’m so glad to be at my church and want to encourage all my fellow minorities who may feel a little out of place, that God may have you there for a reason; to spice things up. My prayer is for all future pastors and church planters to build churches that are reflective not only of their local communities, but of the beautiful and colorful bride of Christ.

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