That Thing About Perfection…

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Jesus’ Sermon on The Mount (Matthew 5-7) Is an important discourse as it was the start of his public ministry, and of course powerful and thought provoking. I think one of the central themes is summarized in Matt: 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.” The word perfect here does not refer to moral perfection. It indicates wholeness, completeness, maturity – being all that God wants a person to be. This goal should continually challenge us to greater service to The Lord.

I like how the message Bible puts it:
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

I was talking about Love versus Like earlier. You know how we say ” I love them but I don’t like them” I wonder how many people we write off because we don’t like them but as we say, we “love them with the love of The Lord” It’s interesting to me how Jesus challenges us in 44-48 (below)

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Double Crossed

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I have a fatal flaw. Well maybe not fatal, but definitely debilitating. I don’t like to lose. When I was a kid I had three other friends on my block, Sammy, Timmy & Courtney. We were close, we did everything together. I loved those guys, still do! For the longest time I was the fastest runner out of the group. We’d occasionally do foot races and invariably I’d always, ALWAYS win. Until one day I didn’t. It’s a day that will live in infamy in my memory. I don’t know how Sam beat me that day, but he did and I never raced again. I know, I know there is so much chastising you can do with that information. But don’t.

Somehow, I felt double crossed. That’s not how it’s supposed to go! I am ALWAYS supposed to win! My legs didn’t live up to the agreement, or (and much more believably,) Sam cheated!

I found this definition of double cross;
“The act of winning or attempting to win a contest that one has agreed to lose.” This is exactly what I was feeling when I lost that race. There was an unspoken agreement, that everyone but me is supposed to lose! My heart was broken, I didn’t know who I was anymore.

I found myself feeling the same way today. I heard myself saying this isn’t the way it’s supposed to go!

I get news alerts on my phone. And I although I didn’t know or recognize the young man, the news of the former Disney star that committed suicide today really bothered me. It bothered me to the point of anger. I often think how many hurting people are looking at us right in the face everyday with no sense of relief from their pain. There are so many depressed and despondent people we aren’t helping. Isn’t that our job? Luke 4:18 – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised..

I’m hurt, and I feel double crossed. Our enemy is skillful in his game. We say things like “he’s stupid” but nothing could be further from the truth!
While we are dancing and celebrating on Sunday, and attacking each other, our enemy is laughing and taking people clean out!! Mental illness (depression) etc, drug addiction are killing people at alarming rates. We have been double crossed!!

Being double crossed has to be one of the worst feelings there is when playing a game. When you’re focused on one thing your opponent takes advantage of your misaligned focus and sucker punches you in the neck!

We’ve been double crossed, we have been steered to focus on the wrong things… tricked to believe that dancing on Sunday is enough, that being church savvy is enough, fooled to believe that the way we look down on “sin” is right. Also we believed the lie that while we may have no discipline or integrity, we are somehow better than “them” because we don’t do “that”

Challenge extended:
Reach out to someone who may be hurting, depressed, addicted. Love somebody, and not in that church inspired “I love you with the love of The Lord, but you better live exactly like I do or I won’t love you so much” kind if way.

Love life into someone!! God has given you more power than you think.

What Did He Leave Me?

I like comedies. One of the classic comedic routines is when the rich older relative dies, and the family has to gather in the lawyer’s office to determine what everyone was left in the Will. Invariably, there is always one greedy relative that thinks they should get the most and has nothing on their mind but “what did he leave me.” Well, I am the greedy one today asking WHAT DID HE LEAVE ME???

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This week my Grandfather died. He wasnt rich (monetarily that is) He was a good man. An honorable man. A man who commanded great respect in the community. His family loved him, his friends loved him, my friends loved him, all the neiborhood children loved him. I’d venture to say his enemies (if he had any) respected him. He was a man that taught so much. He taught honor, love, respect, trustworthiness, honesty, hard work. How? you may say? How did he teach all that? He taught all those things just by being those things. Mahatma Gandhi said “BE the change that you wish to see in the world” Robert E. McCoy Sr. did that! He lived everything that he wanted his children, grandchildren and other descendants to be. I’m immensely proud of that. If I could see him again I’d say you did a great job, and we are all proud of YOU. We love you!

I grew up as a christian, and with that came a lot of religious dogma and rules. I thought the rules were what made christians christian. One of the most important lessons he taught me was a relationship with God was far more than religion, but it really was a spiritual journey. I learned that going to church was less important than having a true and REAL connection with God. He said to me once “You can go to church everyday but not know God” I began to get it…slowly. Understand, that not only was my grandfather schooling me, but God was speaking through him. It sounds simple, but a great awakening happened through many conversations with Pop. I’m glad I had him. I’m glad I sat under him. I’m glad I learned. (some things I’m still learning, Yes lessons are still being penetrated into this thick skull of mine) That is what he left me…

He left me with his legacy, the distinct honor to carry the McCoy name. If I can love like he did, show great respect like he did, be trustworthy and a man of my word like he was, and carry great wisdom as he did I’d be ecstatic! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still learning… he shouldn’t have left so soon, I haven’t nearly learned enough yet, but with God’s help I plan to “get it” more and more as I grow older…maybe I can move forward with at least some of what my grandfather taught.

Humbly Submitted

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Submissions

Nothing controversial, just a few thoughts:

SERVANTHOOD…

1. A Servant’s heart is sensitive to issues of life (If not keep living it will be made that way) A servant should be able to effectively help the hurting, or issue laden – Yes this does include addictions, divorce, infidelity, anger, depression & suicide etc… All these things are real life issues. Remember most people didn’t have your “Leave It to Beaver” wonderful life. Don’t make fun of or belittle the hurting and if you do, It just means you’ve lost your sensitivity and should try to regain that. Have another conversation with God… He’ll help I promise!

2. Your gift, talent, ministry isn’t just for you after all! Ever notice how the people with the most broken lives reach the most people? Think about that for a sec…

(Rahab in the bible will always be known as a harlot but I believe she not only saved her family and herself, but scores of other lives were changed because of her) Joshua 2 (Just read it all)

(Jonah seems like one of the most flawed prophets to me – and thats a message all by itself – but not only did he save a nation (Nineveh) but I believe the mariners on the way to Tarshish gave their lives to the only true God after having to throw him off their boat) Jonah 1: 1-16

These examples can go on an on, and I promised I wasn’t going to put a bunch of scripture in this post… oh well, I’m sure if you’re reading this you probably love me and don’t mind 🙂

3. A person who has been in church a long time does not a minister (SERVANT) make. – A MINI-STAR maybe, we have created tons of those, but we need fewer MINI-Stars and more ministers.

4. Don’t devalue people who haven’t lived as long as you. You may learn something.

Serving more going forward, How about you?

Submitted with Love

The Truth About Sharon Dean… A Music Review

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I’ll preface this review by saying Sharon Dean knows me well, and knows that I will be honest and say some of the things that may not be so flattering, but I will share honest insights and reflections. That said, after a couple weeks of listening to “Restored” – the vocalists’ newest musical project, I am taking this opportunity to share my reflections.

This may be controversial so be prepared!!

Many years ago SD came on the scene into my life and church with this big voice, incredible talent and an anointing from the almighty God that tore down walls, and destroyed yokes. That’s bible talk for (The lady could SANG the house down!!!) quickly she became entrenched in and an important part of our music department and in short course revitalized the churches music department, started and directed our youth choir and taught music. So it was no surprise to any of us when she announced that she would be inviting us to take part in her first live solo recording – “It’s Not I”

“It’s Not I” is still my favorite of her recordings. And, yes I might be biased because I sang on this project!  She was pregnant with her oldest Darion Javon who is turning out to be a world renowned musician and producer in his own right.

But it shouldn’t be a leap to know that “Secret Place” — a revamped version of “In This Place” from the album “It’s Not I” is one of my favorites… and I know what your next question is, “Are you singing on this one?” Well, much to my chagrin, I was not invited back as a background vocalist on this project. That is not to say that “Secret Place” couldn’t use a smooth, soulful tenor/baritone anchor to balance it. 🙂 Oh well! (Kidding of course, her new BGV team is pretty good)

On to the actual review.

There has always been this marked difference between “Studio Sharon Dean” and “Live Sharon Dean” Much like Beyonce’s alter ego Sasha Fierce. (You’d have to ask Sharon what her alter ego’s or ALTAR ego’s name is) Studio SD tries to embody a smooth, Jazzy R&B balladeer, while Live SD is a powerhouse knock-em-dead – pull no punches – I’m not playing with yall singer! And rarely did the twain meet.

However, and this is a HUGE however… “RESTORED” is a game changer for Dean. She has taken the passion and heart and power of her live ministry/performances and effectively infused it into her studio work. She is polished like never before, the control in her voice is unmistakable, she is reaching and using the top of her vocal register on just about every song. She is belting some fantastic powerful notes without sounding forced. THIS is the Sharon Dean audiences have been waiting for! I’m sure this is much in part a nod to her production team which includes Darion Javon.

I am glad to say her true gift comes through on this project. Not only are her vocals stellar and the best I’ve heard them on an SD recording, but the lyrics are standing on their own too! They are not only powerful, but reflective, intimate and a true slice of life as she shares feelings that most cant articulate appropriately.

There are some tracks that are absolute standouts:

Obviously her Single “More of You” Featuring Darion Javon is popular, the pair produce an incredible sound together, I suspect we will see more collaborations with these two, very soon!

True to form, Sharon Dean likes to include one track that is 100% intimate and drawn directly from her prayer life – a Prayer in a song if you will. That track on Restored is “Adoration Song”

My favorites are as stated earlier, “Secret Place” “Anyway” and “Who I Am”.

When you purchase Gospel music you want to be inspired and encouraged. My suggestion: Buy this entire CD. You wont regret it… I Promise!

Being Christian…

Matthew 28:16-20
New International Version (NIV)
The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot of what the real call of a Christian is. Is it going to church on Sunday or Saturday for some? is it singing “on the choir” – I never understood why we said “on the choir” but I digress… Is it leading praise & worship? Is it being a class act deacon with shiny shoes and the best Sunday suits? Not to mention nodding off during the sermon – is it organizing the annual fish fry? Or the youth services? It really is hard to say because I think people who do most of those things are considered “good christians” However, I tend to think a little differently. A real definition is a few sentences we call “The Great Commission” and it sums it up for us. (well for me at least) This is really Jesus’ last instructions to his disciples. After he’d been crucified, put in a tomb and resurrected, He came to his followers to give them some final marching orders . What did he say? Well, to paraphrase – simply make disciples, baptize and teach folks what I taught you.

Are we doing that? looks across the class room anybody, anybody?? No hands? OK, I’ll answer! Sure, some are but I’m not sure our message is getting across as it should. We are so much more public these days and I think we should use these public platforms as opportunities to be better followers of Christ. Obviously, the world is smaller because of the internet and social media – you know like Twitter (you can follow me Twitter.com/RiqTheRealMcCoy by the way) Facebook, Instagram etc…

I see lots and lots of email and posts that are coming from Christians. And some are hardly what you’d expect to see. I’ll admit, some things really rub be the wrong way. Its disturbs me to see so many emails and posts about hate and hate in the name of Jesus. Yes christian hate! I’m convinced we are increasingly turning into people who will only tolerate other people JUST like us. And it’s getting worse.

Whats with all the hate? We hate so easily under the guise of “Love the sinner hate the sin” That’s cool and all, but decoded it really means “I hate you and everything you do and stand for”. Truth is, we want people to be just like us, and further truth is if we really loved them we’d cover them, pray for them, help them and do everything in our power to pull them out of whatever we think they are drowning in. Just like we do our families and true loved ones – Instead, we make public statements to hurt and take jabs at people when what we really should be doing is loving people publicly and instructing them privately.

John 13:35
New International Version (NIV)
35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

So many of us turn people away, talk down to and humiliate people because they don’t share our views. What a terrible terrible waste of an opportunity to share God’s love. We have a great powerful opportunity to show love, compassion, humanity and we are in the perfect place to show the great commission and what it means.

Christians, we can easily love people who are like us, believe like us, look like us, and act like us. but the challenge really is loving the ones who WE THINK are the unloveable – People who do not believe like us, look like us, or even act like us.

Let’s show the REAL love of Christ and make disciples of people, teach people and love people.

And if you chose not to love people PLEASE do not include me on your email chain, or your social network posts! I will not join your petition to “hate them because they hate us” I will not protest and hold up messages that say they are going to hell, etc.

I will embrace the hurting, I will engage the ostracized, I will pray for the disconnected, I will lift the depressed, I will show compassion to the marginalized. I will be human. I will make a disciple. I will teach THEM. I will be a Christian. I will be a Christian.

TRUE STORY…

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It was an eerie night. As I packed my clothes I felt like trouble was on the horizon. I hesitated, but I had to finish packing for my flight. I only had an hour to get to the airport. My cousin was waiting to drive me. But I couldn’t shake this feeling. “Maybe I shouldn’t go today” I thought. But I prayed and rebuked the fear I was feeling, shrugged it off, and I was on my way. I was going back home to Houston after visiting the family in New Jersey. It was a good visit, My Grandmother celebrated her birthday and all the family got together to take her out. I saw an uncle and aunt from PA, my uncle from MD, and I had family who graciously let me use their mini-van during my five-day (or so) visit. I love my family! On the ride to the airport, as I recounted my visit and my loved ones in my head, there it was again. That feeling of impending doom, But I said “It cant be my time yet, God is not through with me” So with a pseudo sense of confidence I kissed my cousin goodbye as I got out of her husband’s old Acura Legend (that could hardly fit my bag) and held my head up, as I walked through the airport to my gate. Went through the security portal and after getting re-dressed (because security now makes you take just about all your clothes off) I walked some more, and the aroma of Starbucks Coffee brewing hit me. I thought I’d stop and get a small Latte. Then there it was, no more was it in my head, but trouble was staring me in the face! My heart dropped. His eyes were that of black coal, with a mocking smirk I can feel him staring through me. I said “I can’t believe I can see you” derisively it laughed and in typical fashion followed me to my seat at the gate. My hands sweating I thought “I don’t want to fight… Not here” I wasn’t even on my flight yet and I already felt tormented, I prayed… and the demon yelled… I tried to meditate, I quoted scripture…the demon laughed, I moved… he followed me with his eyes…. It was like I was his assignment that day. I stood by a post near the door where my plane was scheduled to arrive… I closed my eyes waiting with patience praying… before a few moments I could feel this devil running in circles around the post. “Why is God letting this happen”?? “Why wont He hear my prayer”? “Why am I being tormented”?? Is all I could think “My heart can’t take this…Today is the day I die” I said. I remember thinking if I could just get on the plane… Then suddenly, as if the Angels of The Lord heard me, the doors opened and the flight attendant called my row… I hurried with my one carry-on bag…and sat down. The plane seemed to be packed already, although there were more rows to fill, a sense of calm came over me. I closed my eyes and prepared myself to rest for this five-hour flight. Boy was I exhausted! Three minutes in… my chair is rocking… I recognized the feeling, the smell; this devil was out to get me! I was determined not to give in. I wasn’t going out like this… God would deliver me, but alas He did not. My chair rocked I could hear the laughter and screams in my ear… he knew how to get to me and it was working… I felt like my back was going to break from the constant banging until finally I cut my eye to look at my tormentor, and then a short pause, and I heard a piercing whisper “Chris stop it… Do you want a time out?” My tormentor was four-year old “Chris” Whose parents had absolutely no control over him.

Now, Parents let me encourage you from the word of God,
Proverbs 23:13-14
13Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
It is the fear of spanking that allowed this “Chris” character to wreak havoc in that airport, but it is that same fear that kept me on the straight and narrow! Parents are so afraid of “Hurting” their kids and scarring them for life… Guess what?? Your little “Chris” won’t die!! I was spanked, and I turned out to be a God-fearing, law-abiding tax paying individual with strong moral and ethical values. Parents beat your children! I am a firm believer in the word of God, and I believe that we can’t pick and choose the scriptures that we abide by, but we have to adhere to all of God’s Word! The Bible says “The Day you hear my voice harden not your heart”. Let’s hear what the Lord is saying and deliver our children from hell!!

“There’s An App For That” 

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John 14:12
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

It’s no secret that social networking has made our world smaller. Even in my small network, friends in Maryland are connected to other friends of mine in California…I think “how do they know each other” strange, but hey this is the world we live in now! I mean, did you ever think you would have people on the other side of the country, and in some cases the world right at your fingertips? Sure the telephone is a powerful tool, but now-a-days I can share information about my children, pictures of my last vacation, and family get together’s at the click of a button — and for free! Isn’t that awesome? Telephones have almost become an antiquated tool of the 19th century. Yes, technology has made it very easy to live our lives. I was in a store and needed to make a purchase but I knew I didn’t have enough to cover it so I whipped out my trusty Iphone, pulled up my banking application and made a transfer within five minutes. I am glad to live in this world where everything is right at my finger tips. Apple has a pretty successful ad campaign that basically says whatever you need “There’s an App for that”.

I wonder how many of us Christians take advantage of this technology heavy new world, not ONLY to promote our new CD or the business we want to launch – I mean there is a lot of that. But what about promoting The Great Commission? Matthew 28:18-20 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I wonder?

I wonder if this is what Jesus meant by “Greater works” because honestly, I cant imagine “out doing” Jesus in power, ability or quality. I’m sure He knew that too. But when we look at the greek text in John 14, The word he uses is “Mezion” which means “A greater degree” or “More” This technological age had made our scope and the possibility to influence much greater! We can absolutely reach “more” with just a few clicks of a mouse than anyone could have even 20 years ago using other methods. Can you imagine if Jesus could put his message on Myspace stream it to YouTube connect it to Facebook and let us all know by updating Twitter? How many more followers do you think he would have?

Wow, it sure is a shame that Jesus could not be here to spread his ministry through these very powerful networking and sharing outlets. (This is where I put on a sad face) Oh but wait…believe it or not, Jesus lives and He lives in each and every one of us, and He has given us this new platform to share The Gospel, not just new arrangements of old music but share his heart, His love, His peace and everything else He offers to the entire world. And I believe He expects that we will. Just like the servants with the “talents” Matthew 25:14-30 (You can take a look at this one) They all multiplied their talents and used them to the fullest, but one hid his because he was afraid and to that one the master called “wicked and Lazy”

Ok, so maybe you are like the servant that said “I was afraid” Or maybe you said “Well the pastor wont put me up” or “The Church isn’t behind me” I challenge you today God has given you a very powerful tool at your disposal to share the gospel. This is a brand new platform and you have a mic that no sound man can mute! Stand up and share what God has given you. It may be words, music or something no one has even seen yet but you have a virtual pulpit and a cordless microphone that will take you farther than you can even imagine! Lets use these tools to change the world!

The Cost of a Quarter

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Matt 13:3-23; Mk 4:2-20; Lk 8:4-15
Mark 4:2-9 (New International Version)

(2) He (Jesus) taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: (3) “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.

(4) As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

(5) Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. (6) But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

(7) Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.

(8) Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.”
(9) Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

It’s true, sometimes you say is it worth it? What is it all for? How come I can’t quit? Is there a reason to it all? Of course there is a reason!! Hold on; you’ll get a quarter and be happy with your quarter.

One of the greatest feelings as a Preacher is not the accolades, or the recognition (both of which are out of hand these days). It’s not the sound of the organ as you speak and spit the inspired, and in some cases the not so inspired word of God. It’s not even being involved in an emotionally charged, rejuvenating service. The greatest feeling for a minister of the Gospel, is the end of any service, (after looking over the crowd, preaching your heart out — proclaiming the good news, and wholeheartedly illuminating the path of righteousness,) witnessing a few hungry or maybe misguided souls offer their lives to God.

So you’ve been called for an assignment. You have contemplated and prepared, you pray then you feel confident, soon after, that confidence wanes. You pray some more, you question God…”Seriously God???” You wonder if you really heard Him. You pray more. God is silent. Now, in desperation you cry like David of the bible, and Jesus on the cross “My God, why have you forsaken me?” You shake yourself “Ok get yourself together” You wonder how effective you’ll be. You pray. You fast. You consecrate. You forsake everything from your friends, to your favorite TV shows, to your favorite foods, and maybe some family time gets sacrificed, all in hopes of changing lives.

You arrive and the venue is crowded. You pray for God’s help. Looking around, you see one or two approving faces and rotate between looking at them and the clock on the back wall. You share what God has given you to share. Your burden for the people is lifted, you’ve done your job and it’s in God’s hands now.

However, at the altar call you look around, and only a few seem receptive. Maybe even one, but you still can’t deny the joy and inspiration that ONE gives you. However, you can’t help but think, was it in vain? The prayers, the fasting, the consecration, the doubts, the missing out on dessert even… was it all worth it?

Well, I hope I can encourage you.  All that is just the cost of a quarter (Twenty five percent ONE FOURTH). Jesus explains to us in this scripture that there will be some who will allow the word to be stolen from their hearts right away… hasn’t this happened to all of us? Maybe you heard something and said now that’s something that I can apply and change my life, then that little awful kid of yours has a fight in the church parking lot and your whole experience is ruined? Jesus then says some are too shallow to allow the word to take root. Yeah, been there! He next says some had it choked out of them so they could not produce — hey, there have been times when I was the choker! But then He explains that there is a QUARTER, a fraction, one fourth, go ahead and say it with me a QUARTER of the group that will receive the word on good soil, allow it to produce and multiply up to a hundred times.

Remember, with all the crowds Jesus was able to draw, he still knew that he would only get one-fourth (A QUARTER). Some were there for food, others were there for family, and many, I’m certain, showed up because of his reputation.  There were many other variables that drew people, and still are. But don’t give up because of the Quarter. Sometimes that’s all we may see receive. But just as I was at one point or another in the non-receiving group, I had another chance. So will your “bad group” (The other seventy-five percent) because remember 1 Corinthians 3:6 (King James Version)
(6) I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

One hundred percent won’t come at the same time, so stay encouraged and be happy with your quarter, it costs a whole lot!

@JudahPreacher

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