“What the World sees in America”

•May 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Peggy Nooman, special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and speechwriter for George H.W. Bush has now become a must-read for many in Washington DC and throughout the country with her weekend column in The Wall Street Journal.

She wrote this article a couple weeks back (April 21st) and it definitely makes you think. Not just in the “American” sense, but hopefully in the Christ like sense too. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate our priorities and the different areas of our impact. To influence an entire culture, rather than just a few pews.

“What the World sees in America”

“Imagine for a moment that you are a foreign visitor to America. You are a 40-year-old businessman from Afghanistan. You teach a class at Kabul University. You are relatively sophisticated. You’re in pursuit of a business deal. It’s your first time here. There is an America in your mind; it was formed in your childhood by old John Ford movies and involves cowboy hats and gangsters in fedoras. You know this no longer applies—you’re not a fool—but you’re not sure what does. You land at JFK, walking past a TSA installation where they’re patting the genital areas of various travelers. Americans sure have a funny way of saying hello!

You get to town, settle into a modest room at the Hilton on Sixth Avenue. You’re jet-lagged. You put on the TV, not only because you’re tired but because some part of you knows TV is where America happens, where America is, and you want to see it. Headline news first. The world didn’t blow up today. Then:

Click. A person named Snooki totters down a boardwalk. She lives with young people who grunt and dance. They seem loud, profane, without values, without modesty, without kindness or sympathy. They seem proud to see each other as sexual objects.

Click. “Real Housewives.” Adult women are pulling each other’s hair. They are glamorous in a hard way, a plastic way. They insult each other.

Click. Local news has a riot in a McDonalds. People kick and punch each other. Click. A cable news story on a child left alone for a week. Click. A 5-year-old brings a gun to school, injures three. Click. A show called “Skins”—is this child pornography? Click. A Viagra commercial. Click. A man tried to blow up a mall. Click. Another Viagra commercial. Click. This appears to be set in ancient Sparta. It appears to involve an orgy.

You, the Kabul businessman, expected some raunch and strangeness but not this—this Victoria Falls of dirty water! You are not a philosopher of media, but you know that when a culture descends to the lowest common denominator, it does not reach the broad base at the bottom, it lowers the broad base at the bottom. This “Jersey Shore” doesn’t reach the Jersey Shore, it creates the Jersey Shore. It makes America the Jersey Shore.

You surf on, hoping for a cleansing wave of old gangster movies. Or cowboys. Anything old! But you don’t find TMC. You look at a local paper. Headline: New York has a 41% abortion rate. Forty-four percent of births are to unmarried women and girls.

You think: Something’s wrong in this place, something has become disordered.

The next morning you take Amtrak for your first meeting, in Washington. You pass through the utilitarian ugliness, the abjuration of all elegance that is Penn Station. On the trip south, past Philadelphia, you see the physical deterioration that echoes what you saw on the TV—broken neighborhoods, abandoned factories with shattered windows, graffiti-covered abutments. It looks like old films of the Depression!

By the time you reach Washington—at least Union Station is august and beautiful—you are amazed to find yourself thinking: “Good thing America is coming to save us. But it’s funny she doesn’t want to save herself!”

My small point: Remember during the riots of the 1960s when they said “the whole world is watching”? Well, now the whole world really is. Everyone is traveling everywhere. We’re all on the move. Cultures can’t keep their secrets.

The whole world is in the Hilton, channel-surfing. The whole world is on the train, in the airport, judging what it sees, and likely, in some serious ways, finding us wanting.

And, being human, they may be judging us with a small, extra edge of harshness for judging them and looking down on them.

We have work to do at home, on our culture and in our country.”

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“Your will be done…”

•May 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In Genesis we see Adam and Eve essentially agree with the devil in opposition of God, thus empowering the devil when they ate the fruit. Through that agreement, the devil then was enabled to kill, steal and destroy. Then, As we jump forward to the new testament, Jesus came to recapture what had been lost. In Luke, we see the devil try and tempt Jesus as He was fasting, saying “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” But there were no shortcuts to His victory. He said No and defeated satan with His sinless life, His death by paying for our sins with His blood and again in His resurrection.

When He rose from the dead, He and His eleven desciples went to Galilee and He said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

In the beginning, God gave all domain, all power to man through Adam and Eve. It was delivered to Satan through the agreement of eating the fruit. Then, Jesus took back what was rightfully ours through the His life, death and resurrection. We  now have authority over all creation, over all darkness-to preach the gospel and to see God’s kingdom on earth. Only this time, there is sin, where as before Adam and Eve ate the fruit there wasn’t.  So now, our authority is still over all creation, but it is focused on undoing what the devil has done. In matthew 10:8 it says, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Freely you have received… so freely give. All that our Father has is ours through Christ. His entire treasure chest of resources.

In the past week, I have been recently blessed to see and experience miracles first hand. My knee was completely healed – I had run a 10k and for the next two weeks my knee was unbearable. It got to the point were I couldn’t even take one more step, so I stopped and prayed over it and instantly it was healed and there has been no pain ever since! I have also been praying about a financial blessing for school and within a week, God provided the exact money I would need to get started! My friend Erica has had extreme joint pain and God is working through her right now and restoring everything!

A relationship with Christ requires faith. A belief that requires no faith goes against the nature of God and all that the scriptures declare. With my own experiences, I’ve found that we do indeed have all authority. God does not intend for us to suffer-financially, physically or mentally. When Jesus taught us how to pray he said “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” There is no sickness, evil or poverty in Heaven, so why should we expect anything less here on earth.

If you have experience God and have encountered His power, you are equipped to give it away. Matthew 10:8 says, “Freely you have received; freely give.” When we are silent, we have robbed Christ of the glory that rightfully belongs to Him. When we are silent, we have denied those that would have otherwise heard and seen the good news, salvation.

Lord, I pray for a holy boldness and a holy confidence within all of your kids. Give us the courage to speak when we should speak and to act when we should act.

Fear

•February 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Fear. A four letter word that can ultimately consume our lives. It can refer to so many things; fear of public speaking, fear of spiders, fear of being alone, fear of flying, fear of germs, fear of your life being taken, fear of being robbed, fear of witnessing, fear of sacrifice and this list goes on and on and on.  Fear stops us, hinders us and blinds us. I remember one night not being able to fall asleep for fear of a spider in my room. I remember another time being at six flags theme park in California and not going on any rides for fear of them malfunctioning and killing me. Another time, I had an opportunity to pray with someone and lead them to Christ but I asked someone else to do it because I was afraid I wouldn’t have the right words. When fear captures us, we miss out on God ordained moments.

It is a proven fact that when we are born we only have two natural fears; fear of heights and fear of loud noises. Every other fear is learned, meaning, we have the ability to unlearn them.  Many of our fears are skin deep and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.  Other fears are deeper, and it takes time purposely  invested in order to see through them. One thing I’ve learned is that I don’t want fear to dictate the outcome of my life. It’s to disappointing looking back on missed opportunities, on missed adventures.

There is no comfort in overcoming a fear. And I think that’s where a lot of us fall. It is so much easier keeping your mouth shut, your head straight and your pace fast when walking through a hurt and dyeing world. There’s so much more comfort in going through the mundaneness of life rather than fighting for a cause.  But my prayer is that my comfort makes me uneasy, That the mundanenss makes me restless. That fear will not have a hold on my life. That jumping in a pit with a lion on a snowy day is what I strive after. I don’t want my fear to block my dream, I don’t want it to grow bigger than my faith.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “In order for one to learn the important lessons of life, one must first overcome a fear each day.”  In order for me to live a God ordained life, I must overcome a fear each day. I know what It feels like to overcome a fear, to have a perfectly restful night with no fear of spiders. To be on that roller coaster feeling that adrenalin rush. To be the one to lead someone to Christ and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m doing what God has called me to do. And that feeling in that moment, that feeling is far better than any feeling of comfort I’ve ever experienced. It’s worth it, It’s overwhelmingly worth it.

With a new year come’s new resolutions

•February 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I realize that it’s already a month into the year, but better late than never…

This year I have decided that there’s a difference between resolutions and covenants. A resolution being – go to the gym everyday. And a covenant being – I will read through the entire bible in a year. I think we as Christian’s need to concentrate more on the covenants than the resolutions.

But, with that said, I have made a few resolutions too:) One resolution being, to continue blogging, if nothing but for my personal use. It’s encouraging to look through the past year and see what God has done in and through you. It’s exciting to see who you where at the beginning of the year and how much you’ve transformed by the end of the year.

This has got me thinking about my time here in Spokane and the person I was when I first moved here four and a half years ago compared to the person I am now. My Father is so gracious. His love has the strength to restore, redeem and deliver. Where fear once ruled, boldness resides. Where worry plagued me, peace sustains me. I am a new person. And I am compelled by the love He has shown me to change my neighborhood, my city, and my world.

The word transform is mentioned only three times throughout the Bible, so I believe there is great significance in Romans 12 when He says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Webster defines being transformed as to being metamorphosed, To completely change into something new.  My prayer, my covenant to God, is that I will continue to be transformed into His likeness. I won’t go back to the person I was four and a half years ago, I won’t even go back to the person I was yesterday. I want my “Today” to be the closest I’ve ever been to Him.

“At all times preach the gospel and when necessary use words”

•April 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

St Francis of Assisi famously said “At all times preach the gospel and when necessary use words

This statement is so true. People don’t want someone jumping down their throats with religion. They wont respond to guys standing on the corner of the street with a blow horn yelling at them, saying their going to hell. Tracks usually end thrown on the ground and washed up in the gutters.

In the book of Galations it says, “All that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” It doesn’t say faith expressing itself through religion. It doesn’t say faith expressing itself through a blow horn. It doesn’t say faith expressing itself through not drinking, swearing or stealing. It say’s faith expressing itself through love.

Don’t get me wrong – not drinking, swearing, and stealing are probably things you shouldn’t be doing. And I’m sure the man with the blow horn, or the people with picket signs all have good intentions. But that alone wont gain righteousness. Being a morally good person, doesn’t mean you’re saved. All that counts is faith expressing itself through Love.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did to me.” Whoever you clothed out of Love. Whoever you fed out of Love. Whoever you housed out of Love. You did it to Jesus. How we treat people is our response to the cross.

John 3:17 says, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God didn’t send the body of Christ into the world to condemn the world, to point fingers at the world, to judge the world, but to change the world. To save the world.

God has called the body of Christ to be the biggest force of tangible change the world has ever seen! Revival is when God’s people get so energized to make a difference that crime rates drop in the neighborhood. It has to be such a tangible way that the world has to take note that God is doing something. There has to be tangible evidence from a non believing world that says, because the church body is being the light in this neighborhood, everything about that community has changed.

How amazing would that be! That the non believing world recognizes the power of God! So my prayer is that where ever you live, where ever you work, that we will be sensitive to the needs. That the scales would be peeled off our eyes and we would have a spiritual awakening to what is going on around us. What is happening on the streets of our city. What’s going on inside the houses of our neighbors. And when that does happen, when we have our own spiritual awakening, that we would do everything in our will to fill that need with love.

He is Here

•March 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

March 2010 has been a month that I will never forget.

It’s my alter. It’s what I will look back at when I feel discouraged. Beat Down. That God could never use a sinner like me.

It’s what I will use to remind myself that “God is Here.”

When the Devil tries to get me, this is what will defeat him.

I don’t even know where to begin. God placed us in the right spot, at the right time to literally save a two year olds life. God placed us in the right spot, at the right time to save a young woman from being beaten. God placed us in the right spot, at the right time to see five souls saved for eternity. God placed us in the right spot, at the right time to be the only light of Jesus at a skatepark in the middle of a street knife fight. I guess I’ll start there…

“UTF” A skatepark run by darkness. Drug deals every minute. Starving kids. Blood spilled. Deviant and perverse life styles everywhere. Hatred. Theft. Injustice. Bitterness. Lust. Fear. Lies. Doubt. Darkness. All in need of Jesus.

We go there every week. It is a place that God placed on my heart literally one of the first weeks I moved to Spokane. But I have just begun to act on that leading for the past 8 months now. I’ve come to realize that when God calls you, you have to Go! Whatever it is, Wherever it is, He needs you to be there for a reason! So on the 20th of March we went down there, expecting a typical day – Handing out Socks, Jackets, Food to those in need – God had other plans.

Two guys who we had never seen before started walking through the skate park, asking everyone and anyone if the had bud (street name for weed). We see them walking our way, as were talking to some of the guys down there. (Keeping in mind that this skatepark is definitely known as a place to get drugs easily) Everyone says no to them. They walk up to us and the guys we are talking to and they completely look right past us, Don’t even acknowledge us. They ask the guys were talking with but they say no. So they carry on and ask another guy and instantly an argument broke out. Before we knew it, all the guys from the skatepark were surround these two guys. Knives and daggers drawn. Cuss words flying out of everyones mouth and the spirit of fear was so deep in the eyes of everyone there.

At that moment, we knew we were there for a reason. We couldn’t just leave. We couldn’t just abandon these guys when things got tough, just like everyone else has done their whole lives. We couldn’t just leave. We were the only light down there. We began to pray.

The two guy’s in the center were threatening that they had a gun and they were holding their pants like they had a gun on them. One guy who we knew turned around and told us to call the Cops. I did, and within a matter of no more than two minutes they were down there, both guys arrested and in the back of the cop cars. Not a single person hurt. Not a single person injured. Immediately following this all the guys came over to us and we began to talk with them. (There is a program at our church, like a lot of churches, called missionettes. There is an age group of girls called “Prims” within the missionettes. The week prior to this they had drawn on the lunch sacks with phrases like “Jesus loves you” or “God loves you.” These are the lunch sacks that we had used to put the lunches in for them that week.) Pami, a lady who comes down there with us says to them, “You know why you were saved today, You know why nobody got hurt? Because of these lunches! Look at them, It’s because Jesus loves you!” Right when she said that I looked down at the left over lunches in my hand and the only one facing me says, “God is Here.” “God is Here” I thought, “Yes! God is Here! Praise the Lord God is Here! Thank you Jesus for being two steps in front of us! For being right beside us! For being Here! You are always Here!”

The sunday following that, we were telling this story to the Prims leaders. They said they looked through all the lunch bags before they gave them to us and never saw a bag that says, “God is Here.”

Looking back on this story, It doesnt matter if God used a little girl to write that on a bag or if God Himself wrote on that bag-All that matters is that it was written in truth. God was there. He is HERE!  I also believe God made us invisible to those two guys. I believe they looked right past us because they didn’t even see us.  They asked everyone in that skatepark for drugs. They ask little 12 year olds. They asked homeless people. They acknowledged everyone under there besides us. Thank you Lord for not only your protection, but for you’re boldness in our lives and for being there. For being Here. Mark Batterson puts it so perfectly that I’m just going to quote Him.

“Goodness is not the absence of badness. You can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right. Those who simply run away from sin are half-christians. Our calling is much higher than simply running away from what’s wrong. We’re called to chase lions. There is an old aphorism: “no guts, no glory.” When we don’t have the guts to step out in faith and chase lions, then God is robbed of the glory that rightfully belongs to Him. Is anybody else tired of reactive Christianity that is more known for what it’s against than what it’s for? We’ve become far too defensive. We’ve become far to passive. Lion chasers are proactive. They know that playing it safe is risky. Lion chasers are always on the lookout for God-ordained opportunities. But those God-given opportunities often come disguised as man eating lions. And how we react when we encounter those lions will determine our destiny. We can cower in fear and run away from our greatest challenges. Or we can chase out God-ordained destiny by seizing the God-ordained opportunity.

Maybe we’ve measured spiritual maturity the wrong way. Maybe following Christ isn’t suppose to be as safe or as civilized as we’ve been led to believe. Maybe Christ was more dangerous and uncivilized than our Sunday-school flannelgraphs portrayed. Maybe God is raising up a generation of lion chasers. …Lion chasers don’t let their fear or doubts keep them from doing what God has called them to do.”

I’ve been debating wether or not to share this. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to shout it from the roof tops how good God is. But at the same time, you never know whose going to read it. Who’s going to let the fear get in their way of the God-ordained opportunity. Who’s going to not want to volunteer because it’s to uncertain. Who’s going to not want me to do it because of what may happen. But I want to be proactive. I want my life to mean something. I want to be a lion chaser. I want to fulfill my purpose here on earth. And by me saying that, I guess that means that I am going to do whatever God calls me to do, no matter what.

There will always be times of hardship. There will always be time of discouragment and the longing to just give up. There’s going to be fear. You’ll want  to throw the towel in. But remember. “GOD IS HERE”. Remember the alters you have had through out your life. The places God saved you. The places God moved you. The places God used you. The places God called you. When He whispered your name. When He tugged your soul. Those are the things that will keep you going. Those are the things that will help you run, walk, even crawl….GOD IS HERE.

He is here. In this room. In your heart.

“He is near. Nearer than breath. Heartbeats.

Nearer than you are to you.

Nearer than second chance or next opportunity.

Closer than tonight or yesterday.

He is Real. Realer than touch.

See. Hear. Smell or Taste.

Realer than reality. He is our reality.

Realer than Joy. Pain. Sorrow.

Realer than the Love of being in Love.

He is present. Like time. Space. Wind. Silence. Night.

He is waiting. Like Creation.

Like words on the tip of toung. Like songs that have yet to be sung.

He is Beauty. Oranges. Blues. Every Hue. Every shade.

Sunset and Sunrise. Whisper His Name.

He is Holy.

Different. Made Human. Became Human. Forgave Human.

He is Spirit.

He can not be touched. Explains like. Sweet seconds of prayers like. Grandmother on knees like. Wood floor Bare.

He is Son. Distinctly three. Distinctly one.

The only one. The only wise. The only resurrector of lives.

He is King.

No earthly throne can house. No amount of elegant words can espouse.

He is Moments and Voice.  Power of Choice.

And Word. And Deed. And Fruits. And Seed.

Pierced Side. Nailed hands. Nailed feet. Innocent wounds that bleed.

He is Believe and Trust.

He is Enough.

He is All.

He is Call and Purpose. Everything we can sacrifice. He is worth it and more.

Much More. Our good deeds are mere pennies.  We’ll never even the score.

He is Behold. And Wowed.

He is Who. What. When. How.

He Puts on the Show. He is the one we come to see.

He is Souls Cry and sinners plea. He is the epitome.

He is the One know one can light a candle to or come within a million foot pole of.

He is Above.

He is a Fathers Love.

He is maker of ways. Of Earth. Of Wind. Ancient of Days.

Has No Fear.

Have No Fear.

God is Here.”

-Spoken Word By Amena Brown





God is always with us!

•March 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

My prayer is that whoever i meet, whoever i make a connection with, whoever i cross paths with, that i can be the visible face of Jesus and show them this kind of Love that God has for them. That God has for me. That God has for You!

Psalms 139

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.