Apr 28, 2009

The American Church or Bride of Christ?

Statement: The American Church is a substantial representation of the Church, or Bride of Christ on earth.


Observation: Allow the lives of all Christians everywhere who have devoted themselves to living for Christ and devoting themselves to the proclamation of His great news to be the measurement (Mat 10:38), not the exception to the rule. And remember that demographics and locations to constitute the nature of the Church, Christ does so through the redemption of sinners and addition to the saints on a daily basis (Acts 2:47). The Church, is the Church, which is the Bride of Christ. Not an ethnic or geographic descriptor.

Apr 25, 2009

Detroit is Nation's Most Dangerous City?

This just in, Detroit is America's number one most dangerous city. Despite that we have some brand new sports facilities like Comerica Park, Ford Field, casinos with newly built hotels recently added to their square footage, and a renewed interest in "culture", you might not be able to see over the horizon of shiny lights and special events long enough to actually realize what this latest headline from Forbes describes.

Its no wonder most folks who visit the "D" rarely see much of what goes on in the neighborhoods that sprawl out from the inner-city and encompass acres of blight, poverty, crime, and forgotten humanity. A flight in to Detroit Metro Airport, conveniently located in Romulus (although it has its own zip code), a zip down the freeway into the heart of downtown for a final four match, a superbowl, or a rock concert that epitomizes "Detroit Rock City", a few hours losing chump change at a nearby casino, and a flight out of dodge can highlight the concept that most may have of Detroit. Just because you've recently heard a renewed interest in the city from news reports of our former and infamaous Mayor Kwame, or the demise (which started how long ago?) of the Big Three automakers, doesn't mean that Detroit has suddenly become something of note, it still is quite frankly, forgotten. That is unless your a statistician. Then, it becomes a fun case study of how many hopeless souls are preying upon one another for survival.

I am curious of just how often people look at the city with an eye that sees the souls of men in need of something that promises more than social revitalization. Or, is it chance that someone would remember to pray for the junkie in the upper flat of an abandoned Highland Park home jamming needles into a collapsed vein? Better yet, could some business man who has made more than his share invest in buying out the local liquor store that specializes in the cross counter sale of "crack pipes" and "chore-boy?"

I wonder if the efforts of ministries in the communities of Detroit (and I do not say this empirically) see their efforts in light of the same efforts of the scribes and pharisees of Jesus' day? Is it missions work when your efforts are only adding numbers to the role and making carbon copies of "ideal" church members who move up in the ranks through "minister" classes that award "certificates" to individuals who successfully progress through milestones, does this make them better equipped than others to minister? Do they know that they travel the world seeking to make converts and merely make them twice the sons of hell they are (Mat 23:15)?

Can we stop and see past statistics and headline-grabbing ministry methods for just a few minutes as we pray to see people as Jesus did? Can we look out on the masses of gang members and people raised like pit-bull terriers to survive as men and women with whom we are co-equal? Can we have compassion that sets our hearts aflame and breaks our pride long enough to see the distress and fatigue that is bearing loads down upon thousands of Detroiters daily? I can't help but to think of a scripture from Matthew that highlights the situation I see comparable to this blog post. The despair and burden that is illustrated with this passage likens the tired Jews, burdened with rote religion and doctrine to the very same types of folks who are poor and burdened with unrealistic ministries that sew seeds of death in communities that need seeds of life.

The NASB encapsulates it well, "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." (Mat 9:36)

And in the sentiment shown by Jesus in the passage above, we don't see a temporary fix, or a ministry that aims to restore the community to proper standing. NO! Heaven forbid we think the fix is the community first and then the soul, the soul that is converted will be the next laborer going off to the field. So few workers propagate the problem of too few workers. Matthew goes on to write, "Then He *said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 'Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.'" (Mat 9:37-38)

I don't know if I made my point, but I'm satisfied with it, and now I'm going to bed. Feel free to openly criticize my banter! Its highly likely I'll publish any comments as such. Thanks!

Apr 19, 2009

Don't Waste Your Life

DG's media team partnered with Reach Records to make a hip-hop video encapsulating the message of John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life.

Apr 16, 2009

Christianity and Social Work II

(Formerly Christianity and Psychology ‘Social Sciences’)
The second question in this series definitely hinges upon my answer to the first, and wouldn’t be complete without and understanding of the first. If you aren’t following, you can read it for yourself here. So to cut to the chase here’s the next installment.
Q. Did your past experiences with drugs and jail affect the decision to enter social work?
A. I’d say there’s very little doubt regarding the implications of my past life and actions on my future decisions. I don’t believe there can be an honest admission on my part that proves my past experiences as being the motivating factor to make a decision. If anything, they played a significant role in which particular community I would serve and work among. Its would also serve well to observe that I may have been pursuing the social work profession in my academic track, but have never cognitively made an absolute decision to be a “Social Worker” in vocation. It seems that all events leading up until now have been the main motivation.
If it were to be narrowed down to a point of making a sincere effort to have the end result be me practicing as a degreed worker I can think of one aspect of my life. This would be doing ministry in the city of Detroit. While evangelizing the homeless community in the downtown district I noticed one common denominator amongst all the individuals spoken too. They all needed so much and had access to so little. The past experiences I personally endured gave me evidence to backup the theory that there are resources out there for individuals who had needs similar to theirs. It was only a matter of directing them, advocating for them, and teaching them how to utilize the hand-ups available to become retroactive in their own lives. In turn, believing that it would inspire them to do the same. This has been proven theory in my life and through the lives of others I’ve encountered.
The last aspect I’ll touch on in this question is the most important one. Resources and access to them are useless unless the individual is returned to a right relationship with the Savior Jesus Christ. So many people rail against the social dynamics involved in urban ministry and denounce it as a “socialized gospel” when in fact there is no realization that they are denouncing a true manifestation of gospel ministry. The incarnation and obedience to Christ’s two commandments, loving God, and loving our neighbors. This love isn’t just a bowl full of soup. It’s obedience to the great commission (Loving God through obedience and proclaiming the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the payment of sins) and loving our neighbor as ourselves (through physical testimony of the inner working of the Holy Spirit who has regenerated the depraved state of man) shown through good works done by the means of faith and gratitude to a risen Savior.

Apr 8, 2009

An Internship Driven by the Heart

Greetings to all. My apologies to those visiting regularly for an update, I’ve been terribly busy. To catch you up, I’ve been working my day job, interning for Hope Center and Medical Clinic, and this past week I’ve begun my internship at the Detroit Rescue Mission. Some of you may know, since I’ve begun my studies, it’s served the purpose of learning how to advocate for homeless persons, substance abusers, and individuals who have no way to get to or learn of resources to help them and/or their families. I’ve never considered the monetary compensation of what my degree would bring me, but have long hoped a career fulfilling both aspects would be attainable. Either way, my purpose has been to glorify God in what I feel is a worthy calling. Besides, my payment is not to be considered, for I have no debt (to God) to pay because of the blessed Son, Jesus Christ! Here is a brief synopsis of what I’ll be up to…

The Hope Center is unique in its own right. At one point in my life I benefited from the services they offer individuals with no insurance, money, or “hope”, and they do this based upon a Christian call to mission to love the neighbor as they love themselves. I’ll be brutally honest, in the few days of contact time I’ve spent there, I’ve not seen folks pray as much as them. Even outside the context of a physical church building, they are acting as a member of the ‘body’ would seem should act. Here I’ve been working with a team of men to develop a support system for men who tend to be overlooked. The problem is that in the non-profit sector, or even in volunteer work, there are few men seen in the forefront. Hope clinic is mainly compromised of a predominant female presence. The clientele, are very diverse and mainly come from the indigent population in a depressed and desolate area of Ypsilanti. Ironically, it isn’t too far from one of the top schools in the state, Eastern Michigan University. This men’s group will serve to teach these men living, management, and coping skills. It will also serve as place of instruction in biblical principles and precepts. Prayerfully, our team has hope that these men will learn to become servant leaders and pass their hope and experience on through strength. Most importantly, we hope that their social triumph will come through the redeeming power of the grace of Christ Jesus. It is interesting to note that one comment made in our first planning meeting was that these men, “are often overlooked by the church.” I’ve also been clocking hours in their new Wayne County satellite site servicing a new community, they will soon be in their own brand new facility and reaching a much larger base then they are able to now.

drmmThe Detroit Rescue Missions Ministries is located in Highland Park, Michigan. They serve a predominantly African-American population and provide transitional living for those who are in need. The DRMM has several locations and programs throughout the city of Detroit spanning from Downtown to the East Side. The serve men, women, and children in all aspects of their needs. The amazing thing is that a destitute dope fiend from the street can come into the mission and inside of two years of working their programs can become educated, employed, and productive in society. They can also become independent and living in a home and on their own once more. Some make it, some don’t, but the DRMM provides a resource for these individuals to have a fighting chance. You can see some of the testimonies posted on their site here. I suggest taking a read, it is very interesting to see the dramatic paradigm drawn between a perspective of having no obstacles in life and opportunities bounding to every single breath being a fight for life. Having a heart for the city of Detroit is only the half of my purpose for interning here, I desire to be a part of a true work of meeting a person’s needs. Of course the utmost of these needs are for that of the Savior’s mercy, and indeed, the full gospel is proclaimed through preaching and through good deeds done in the name of Christ.

So, to make a long story short, for the next five to six months, I’ll be cranking out hours, hitting the sack early, and still trying to eat in between. I hope to continue blogging and to finish up the Christianity and Psychology series of questions (which will be my premiere blogging task the next few weeks). In the meantime, please be in prayer for these ministries, the people they touch, and me as I attempt to work and minister within a context that needs more believers who are doing more than advocating self-help, they are proclaiming the truth of the cross at the same time.

If you are interested in volunteering, supporting, or praying for any of these efforts please let me know in the comment section. If you wish to join me in fasting and praying this coming weekend, in memory of our Lord’s arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection, I will be spending time fasting tomorrow at dusk until Sunday morning at dawn. I hope you’ll join me, its an arduous task and a difficult fast but it’s always been worth it.

Apr 5, 2009

The Glory of God - Paris Reidhead

I heard this sermon a few years ago. It stirred quite a motion in the depths of my spirit and motivated me to a desire for righteousness. It also motivated me to mission. It at the fabric of it's message summarizes the call to Christian purpose....

Listen to this clip from Paris Reidhead's sermon - Ten Shekels and a Shirt
(HT: The Bravehearted Gospel)