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Friday, December 7, 2007

Kwanzaa Do It Belong In The Church?

Kwanzaa, a cultural holiday celebrating African-American heritage, is a seven-day celebration that begins Dec. 26 and ends Jan. 1. It was developed in the wake of the Watts Riots in 1966 by activist and California State University professor Maulana Ron Karenga as a way to emphasize black culture and pride. The New York Times has estimated that 13 million people celebrate Kwanzaa each year. The United States Post Office has commemorated it with a stamp, and Hallmark and other companies have tailored cards for it.

But what started as an intentionally non-religious holiday is taking on a religious hue as more churches - Roman Catholic and Protestant, traditionally African-American and mixed raced - have adopted the holiday. That has sparked debate within some Christian communities that Kwanzaa, with its secular emphasis, has no place in church. At the same time, more public schools have begun to include Kwanzaa in December celebrations and lessons, angering parents who complain that it is unfair to include Kwanzaa while "watering down" the religious meanings of Christmas and Hannukah. The official Kwanzaa website, however, maintains that Kwanzaa is a "cultural choice" distinct from religious observance.

Who celebrates Kwanzaa and why? Does it belong in the public school curriculum? How true has Kwanzaa remained to its original principle of black pride? What role does it play in churches?

The relationship of Christianity to other faiths is often most pronounced in December. Kwanzaa complicates this by relating to African-American culture, which many schools seeks to celebrate, while also increasingly relating to religion, which schools often play down.

Dollar Says I Don't Think So!

Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International refused to cooperate in a U.S. senator’s probe into televangelists’ finances and uses of tax-exempt status.

Dollar’s attorney sent Grassley a letter telling him to get a subpoena or to refer his request for a review to the Internal Revenue Service.

The letter expresses concerns about giving documents to the government, explaining such action could trample on the constitutional rights of people to practice religious beliefs without government interference.

The letter says the six ministries targeted preach the “…’Prosperity Gospel,’ a deeply held religious belief that God’s devout followers and earthly leaders will prosper and be successful in all they do, including in financial matters, as the outward expression of his favor.”

It went on to say, “… we believe that the religious doctrine and practices of a church should not be held out for the world to evaluate as a result of responding to Congressional inquiries.”

Grassley said he is not interested in doctrine. He wants to make sure media ministries are not abusing their tax-exempt status.

He is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and has probed other nonprofit organizations, uncovering fraud and waste.

He believes he has a right to review records because when non-profits get tax breaks, the general public has to pick up the financial slack.

“I have an obligation to protect the integrity of U.S. tax laws,” Grassley said in a written statement. “If tax-exempt organizations, including media-based ministries, thumb their noses at the laws governing their preferential tax treatment, the American public, their contributors and the Internal Revenue Service have a right to know. Considering tax-exempt media-based ministries today are a billion-dollar industry with minimal transparency, it would be irresponsible not to examine this tax-exempt part of our economy.”

Joyce Meyer took an opposite stance from Dollar. She turned over records Tuesday.

In a written statement, Meyer said the ministry embraces “… this latest opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to transparency with our supporters and our dedication to the continual improvement of our own systems of accountability.”

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Praise & Worship (Thursday ) Dancing For Jesus.

Praise dance is a form of worship that seeks to articulate the word and spirit of God through the body. Though it is far from a new phenomenon — in biblical times, dancing was embraced during celebrations and worship — it was forced out of the Christian church during the Reformation, and has been fully welcomed back only in the past 20 or so years. In recent years praise dance has become an increasingly popular part of church services across the country, particularly among America’s growing Pentecostal movement, and it has emerged in small cities , where experts say one in 10 people is Pentecostal.

Depending on the history and denomination of a particular church, a praise dance may be a choreographed balletic piece in the middle of a service or an improvised riff in the aisles, and the practice draws from a hybrid of movement vocabularies, from jazz to modern to African. Many praise dance ministries also include American sign language to sign out scripture during a song.

more and more churches have added praise movement ministries to their worship services. Here are some of the moves blessing, honor, glory, wisdom and dominion.
For blessing, both hands start at the mouth and the arms then fan out in a sun shape; for power, arms are raised equal distance apart with fists clenched; for wisdom, fingers touch the temples and come to meet in the center; and so on. Some Churches do not allow this. Some pastors view this as a form of entertainment. What do you think should this be welcome in the House Of God?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wednesday (Bible Study) Fifty never Been To Church.

A torn and ragged one-dollar bill discovered that it was about to be retired from circulation.

As it slowly moved along the conveyor belt to the shredder, it became acquainted and struck up a conversation with a fifty-dollar bill that was meeting the same fate.

The fifty began reminiscing about its travels all over the country. Life has been good,” the fifty exclaimed. “Why, I’ve been to Las Vegas, the finest restaurants in New York, political fund raisers, and just returned from a cruise on the Caribbean.”

Gee,” said the one-dollar bill, “you’re fortunate to have been able to visit all those places.”

So where all have you been in your lifetime, my little friend,” says the fifty?”

“Well, I’ve been to …

the Methodist Church,
the Baptist Church,
the Episcopal Church,
the Presbyterian Church,
the Church of God,
the Lutheran Church,
the Catholic Church,
the Orthodox Church,
the Assembly of God Church,
the Brethren In Christ Church,
the Quaker Church ,
the Pentecostal Church,
the Charismatic Church,
the Mennonite Church,
the United Church of Christ,
the Church of Christ …”

“Excuse me,” says the fifty, “but what’s a Church”?

Wednesday (Bible Study) Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"

* If money is the root of all evil, why do churches beg for it?
* Doesn't a lightning rod atop a church show a lack of faith?
* Why do we say, "heads up" when we want someone to duck for cover?
* What was Captain Hook's name before he lost his hand and had to get a hook?
* I saw an ad the other day for caskets (coffins), it said, "Lifetime Guarantee". Huh?
* When French people cuss, do they say, "Pardon my English"?
* Can you breathe out of your nose and mouth at the same time?
* Why did Yankee Doodle name the feather in his hat "Macaroni"? For that matter, why did he name the feather in the first place?
* Who was the first person to see a cow, and say, "I think I'll squeeze those dangly thingies under there, and drink what comes out."?
* Who was the first person to say, "Do you see that chicken over there? I think I'll eat the first big thing to come out of it's butt."?
* Why is it illegal to park in a handicapped parking place if you are not handicapped, but it's OK to use a handicapped toilet?
* Why is it that "Chopsticks", is the easiest song to play on the piano, but the hardest utensil to eat with?
* Why can't you get a tan on the palms of your hands?
* If you were in space, and had a compass, which way would it point?
* Did Noah have woodpeckers on the arc? And if he did, why didn't he eventually sink?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Praise & Worship ( Tuesday ) The Alphabet Praise!

Although things are not perfect

Because of trial or pain

Continue in thanksgiving

Do not begin to blame

Even when the times are hard

Fierce winds are bound to blow

God is forever able

Hold on to what you know

Imagine life without His love

Joy would cease to be

Keep thanking Him for all the things

Love imparts to thee

Move out of "Camp Complaining"

No weapon that is known

On earth can yield the power

Praise can do alone

Quit looking at the future

Redeem the time at hand

Start every day with worship

To "thank" is a command

Until we see Him coming

Victorious in the sky

We'll run the race with gratitude

Xalting God most high

Yes, there'll be good times and yes some will be bad, but...

Zion waits in glory...where none are ever sad!

Praise & Worship ( Tuesday ) Top 10 Issues Facing the Church Today

Net surfing and found this article were Lifeway surveyed over 1,300 ministry leaders to compile a list of the 10 greatest issues facing the church in the future. Here is their list. What do you think? In other words this is what White America see as issues. I did not say we have a different God than white America. But I see some issues that are not address on this list that maybe our community is facing. The church is the community well it use to be. Here is what I see: 1). Aids 2). Unemployment 3). Housing 4). Crime 5). Education. Can you add to either list and what is your comment on this issue?

The Top 10 Issues Facing Today’s Church

10. Abortion
The church's lack of an effective response to 30+ years of legalized abortion.

9. Homosexuality
The rising social pressure to accept same-sex behavior and relationships.

8. Relevance
The seeming inability of the church to answer questions one has living in the "real world."

7. Marriage
The negative effects on families that result from divorce, adultery, etc.

6. Apathy
The seeming lack of personal interest, support, and enthusiasm from the pews for the work of the church.

5. Doctrine/Worldview
The growing pressure to compromise principles to make truths more palatable to an audience. The widening influence of explicitly anti-Christian culture and negative influences on the church.

4. Evangelism
The decline among Christians in personal sharing of the Gospel.

3. Leadership
The need for clear, biblical vision and direction by church leaders.

2. Discipleship
The need for involvement of every believer in being continually transformed into the image of Christ.

1. Prayer
The need for more ongoing, passionate prayer in both personal and church life.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Prayerful Monday (Question) Whatever Happened to Christmas?

Alright I give up. Christmas is no longer a religious holiday at all.

This does not have anything to do with whether you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. This is about what happened to the joy of the day.

Everything is now about what you got or did not get. If kids don't get Ipods, cell phones, laptops and expensive game consoles, they aren't having a good Christmas.

Whatever happened to fruit and nuts, and a bike or something, why have we become so extravagant.

I am serious. Why have we forsaken the birth of Christ, the most un-selfish of all icons and turned the day of his "alleged" birth into the most selfish of all days.

Oh yes we are selfish at Christmas, we buy presents because people buy us presents. Let somebody cross you and not buy you a present. They got hell to pay.

Will somebody please explain why its a sad Christmas if we don't get presents yet have the love of another on any day? Some one help me understand I don't get it.

Prayerful Monday (Question) Why So Many Mistakes?

Do you ever find yourself asking: Why have I made so many mistakes in my life? Why must I seem to always learn the hard way? Why has my life not turned out the way I envisioned? Why have I experienced so much disappointment and pain? Why do I sometimes feel so different from everyone else? It just doesn’t seem like other Christians struggle with the things that I do. Why have I become so cynical regarding life? What has happened to the joy that I once experienced as a Christian?

I believe that I really don’t matter to God very much. I would affirm that he loves the world and that he is a loving God. However I am convinced that somehow I am disqualified to fully receive his love. I sometimes say that he loves the world but then think that I have messed up too much Sure God forgives, but I abandon my children and I know that he will always hold that against me. Sure God forgives, but I had an affair yesterday I never dreamed that I would do something like that

Sure God forgives, but my whole life is one big mess. Sure God forgives, but I feel like such a failure as a parent. I can’t believe the way my son turned out. Sure God forgives, but I know that I have been one big disappointment to God. I know that God really will give me a fresh start? The Biblical writers often remind us that they too had received fresh starts (Read again Eph. 2:1-9 and I Cor. 6:9-11). Do you know that his care for you is greater than your failure? Do you know that Jesus work on the cross and his resurrection has given us hope for a new start? (Rom. 5:6-8) It is not too late to have a fresh start. No matter what!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My List Of Favorite Christmas Music!

1).Do You Hear What I Hear - CeCe Winans

2).O Holy Night - Smokie Norful

3). His Name Is Jesus - Fred Hammond

4). Go Tell It On The Mountain - LaShun Pace

5). Little Drummer Boy - Darwin Hobbs

6). O What A Night - Richard Smallwood with Vision

7). Agnus Dei - Donnie McClurkin

8). Mary Did You Know - Vanessa Bell Armstrong

9).Joy To The World - Beverly Crawford

10).It’s Christmas Time - Juanita Bynum

11). O Little Town Of Bethlehem - Yolanda Adams

12). Hallelujah Chorus - The McClurkin Project

13).Holy Holy Holy - Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers

14).Away In A Manger - Angie Winans featuring Bishop T.D. Jakes

15).Glory To the Lamb - Marvin Sapp

16).Now Behold The Lamb - Kirk Franklin And The Family

17). Lamb - Donald Lawrence

18). The First Noel - Donald Lawrence

19).Lamb Of God - Nicole C. Mullen

20).Give Love On Christmas - Myron Butler & Levi

21).Sweet Little Jesus Boy - Donald Lawrence

22).For Unto Us A Child Is Born - BeBe & CeCe Winans

23). What Child Is This - Shirley Caesar

24). No Christmas Without You - John P. Kee

25). Born To Die - Hezekiah Walker & LFC

26).Silver Bells - Few Good Men

27).Loves Holiday - Men of Standard

28).Soulful Noel - Donald Lawrence

Thank God For Jesus Who Can Save Anybody.

”To say that Bushwick Bill was in my “least likely to have a miraculous conversion” category is a vast understatement. In the 90’s he was part of the Geto Boys, a Houston group known for some of the most hardened and offensive lyrics of its era. Yet, Bushwick Bill has in fact come to acknowledge his Higher Power and Savior and is now known as a Christian rapper, with a new album on the way later this year [2007]. To anyone familiar with his past, this is no small story. Though lacking in statue, Bill has always been known for being high on heart. His mixture of old-school rhyme and story-telling.

Bushwick Bill, a former member of the hard -core gansta rap group The Geto Boys, is one of the most recognized and respected artists in rap music and has lived a life of radical testimony.

Right out of the gate and in growing up, the deck seemed to be stacked against Bushwick Bill, aka Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin the Barbarian Mother Funky Stay High Dollar Billstir. In 1966, he was born Richard Shaw in Kingston, Jamaica with dwarfism. As a child, his family moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. and he later became a high school dropout. As a young man, being bored and anxious for a change of scenery, he moved to Houston, Texas in 1987 and ended up finding his niche in entertainment as well as the worldly lifestyle to match.

Beginning his professional career as a rapper in 1988 when joining up with the two other Geto Boys and making quite a success together as a group, Bushwick Bill dived head-first into a debased lifestyle while rapping about the worst in humanity. His talent in the industry was evident, between The Geto Boys and as a solo artist, he has written and performed music on three gold and platinum albums, all of which have gone to the top spot on various charts and sold close to three million copies – in addition to acting occasionally – but all the while, he was filling his life up with everything demoralizing to replace the void of Jesus. He knew Christ when he was younger, but once with the Geto Boys, he became so out of control in the industry and fame, that it took an extreme series of events, including a drunken suicide attempt to eventually give him the wake up call he needed.

Finally, in 2006, Bushwick Bill rededicated his life to Jesus Christ and planned the release an album entitled "Testimony of Redemption" in 2007. Although Bushwick gave thanks to Jesus Christ within the inserts of previous Geto Boys albums, this time it provided a stark contrast between the lyrical content of the albums and professed personal views of the artist. While some viewed these self-expressions as polar opposites and potentially hypocrytical, others found it to be a transparent testimony of a man struggling with his faith and the harsh realities of life.

In the 2007 release, Bushwick Bill provides a summary of his life and struggles; combined with the influences of his faith is a classic good vs. evil struggle. In the song "Testimony of Redemption", Bushwick professed to be an ordained minister by age 18, and falling into a life of fame, money, drugs, and the street life soon after. The lyrics of this song combined with the lyrics of "Going to the River" provide a revealing summary of Bushwick's life to date.

1st Sunday Question?: Why are Christians For The Death Penalty?

Christians today are often in favor of the death penalty because of biblical support. The institution is clearly just, as it was used by God in the Old Testament, therefore its use is appropriate today. 21st century Christians, however, are quick to condemn slavery. Not because of a lack of biblical support, but because we can see that the context of biblical slavery is vastly different from the the way in which it was practiced 160 years ago. American slavery, obviously, was a tool of racism and oppression. I therefore find it immensely satisfying that for every southern Christian who defended the instutution, there were one or more abolitionists who fought against slavery in the name of Christ.

I hope that Christians will look past simple biblical support and into the heart of the American criminal justice system. The death penalty is just not working in large American communities. It, like slavery, has become a tool of racism and oppression. The death penalty, if it is ever to be just, must be impartial and without error. Sadly, in our country the death penalty is neither of these things. It is a punishment avoided by the rich and inflicted on the poor. And it is a punishment that can be manipulated by those in power. As long as that remains the case, it will remain an institution in need of repair. We can look at the number of young black men in the system and know it is wrong. What do you think are you for or against the death penalty?

1st Sunday Question?: Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

The popular question has to be "Why do bad things happen to good people?" And I think there are about 4 main answers to the question.

The 1st and probably most common answer is that God doesn't exist or isn't powerful enough to prevent the bad things from happening, or that he might be powerful enough and he just doesn't care. While many people might entertain this as a possible answer, I'm just going to reject it here as the non-Christian answer and move on....

The 2nd answer is that bad things don't happen to good people. This idea receives a bunch of support from Proverbs, as well as Romans 8:28. There is merit to this idea, and we do know that God loves to bless and edify those who love Him; however, following this logic often leads to the notion that "if something bad is happening to you, then you must not be as good as we all thought you were." Many people (many Christians) do feel this way and act this way, and oftentimes it is for this reason that people don't come to the church in times of crisis.

Also receiving some biblical support is the 3rd idea that bad things do happen to good people, but God is there, standing by to provide help, redemption, and comfort. You can read a lot about this in the Psalms that David wrote when he was fleeing from Saul and from Absalom. The book of Job also gives this impression. This is probably the number one answer from a ministry or counseling perspective. Many people become Christians thinking life will be easy and fun after their conversion, only to find that life is harder and tougher than it was before. As Christians we try to show people verses like John 16:33, when Jesus tells his disciples that they will have trouble in this world but that he has overcome the world. This answer is right, but not quite complete.

But I have reached the 4th conclusion that the complete answer is this. Bad things don't happen to good people now. The reason is that there are no good people today. Bad things did happen to (THE) Good Person*, about 2000 years ago. And when bad things happened to Him (he was arrested, falsely tried, torured, and crucified) the result was that our future was secured. Why do bad things happen to good people? They happen to give us bad people everlasting life. Was Jesus the only good person that bad things happened too? Was not Job a good person in a sense?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Hallelujah ( Saturday ) How Are You Doing?

You’ve met them before. There are people whose walk with God is always "Wonderful!" I remember a lady who used to always tell everyone that she was doing "Super!." I know another lady, quite a bit older than she, who always said that she was doing "Marvelous." One woman used to always reply to the "How’s your day going?" question by saying "Bless!"

OK…I don’t want to knock those replies. After all, those are often very fitting answers to the question, "How are you doing?" They may very well fit the day. But ALL the time?(come on ) I don’t think so. At least that is not my experience in walking with Jesus. Some days are wonderful. Others maybe painful, hard, and difficult.
I have some days when I seem to say all the wrong things to the people I love most. I have some days when my thoughts seem silly, trivial, or just downright sinful. I have some days when most, if not all, of my attempts seem to result in dead ends. At the end of the day, it all feels futile. I have some days when I feel defeated. So–I am so thankful for the Psalms. In David’s life, everyday was not a wonderful, super, fantastic day. In fact, David also had some very rough days:

To you I call, O Lord my Rock;
do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
I will be like those who have gone down into the pit.
Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place…
(Ps. 28:1-2) I come away from such a Psalm remembering that my walk with Jesus does not mean that I now only experience positive, joyful emotions. There are also the tough emotions that I will experience at times. So I want to pray with David in Ps. 17:8: Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings…

Hallelujah ( Saturday ) What Makes A Person Attractive?

On one level one might immediately speak of physical beauty. And–on a certain level–that is a kind of attractiveness that is very real. However, I want to suggest that we might want to pay attention to another kind of attractiveness.
What causes us to be drawn to certain people? What quality of Christ likeness do we experience in other people that we often find so refreshing? What is that quality that makes us want to spend time with certain people? Maybe–just maybe–that quality is generosity.
There are some people who display the grace of God by their generosity. Don’t you find generous people attractive?
People who are generous with appreciation. These people are constantly thanking people. They thank the waitress, the person at the cleaners, the grocery store clerk. They thank their child’s coach and teacher. These people take no one for granted. They send thank you notes, e-mails, and leave thankful voice messages. They thank and thank.
People who are generous with encouragement. I know so many people who are just starved for a word of encouragement. They work hard and contribute. They are very conscientious. Yet, they hear no "atta-boy" or no "atta-girl." Instead these people often have to deal with criticism of those who have done nothing to help. It is tough to hear no encouragement and to instead hear criticism. No wonder! No wonder people are attracted to an encourager like a ant is to sugar.

People who are generous with money. I don’t mean ( Bill Gate or Oprah Winfer). I am speaking of people who use what they have for another’s benefit. I am talking about people who are ready to help a neighbor who had been burned out in a fire. When the people at work take up a collection for a single mother who has cancer, they are the first to give.
What about you? When people think of you, do they think of a grateful person? Do they think of an encourager? Do they think of person who displays the grace of God? in other words are you attractive?