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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
Each of us in some way is in need of healing. Unfortunately unbelievers and not believers are often more apt to admit and consider their brokenness even though they do not seek healing in Christ. We all in various ways, exhibit how we are still incomplete and in need of aid, support and healing. We all have hearts which are pressed under the cares of the world, the present struggles of our mind and reality and exposed to the actuality of a fallen world.

For believers, meditation is the way not only of finding refuge from problems or revelations about critical decisions, but also is a place or location where God meets us in our frailties. Meditation is a state of mind and being and not an information hotline. Therefore, when we approach Scripture, we always approach and interact with Scripture as broken individuals in need and dependent upon Christ. In this way, the believer is in a constant state of dependency upon Christ.

Scriptural meditation makes our brokenness evident for if we approach Scripture as though life is satisfactory or superb, the Scriptures call our relaxed and self-righteous disposition into question. Often in meditation, we rightly ask questions of the text and of Christ, but interestingly, the text often poses more questions to us. Regrettably, we do not always answer the questions which Scripture poses. Scriptural meditation forces one to examine their lives and its representation before Christ, the world and others. It brings us to a point of reckoning. God does not want us to relive our past sins or brokenness but rather wills that we be sensitive to the need, influence and power of the Bible in our lives.

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Posted on: 11/29/05:

A Call to Action

Category: Church
Posted by: Lance Lewis
Several years ago apologist Carl Ellis wrote of a scenario in which Islam would be the dominant religion inner-city America. While this assertion could have been and for the most part was ignored then, its reality is becoming more and more likely. The number of adherents to various forms of Islam continues to grow at the very same time when inner-city neighborhood churches are declining. This situation presents us with the very real possibility of a significant change in the religious realities of the African-American community within the next few years.

Imagine a time when Black neighborhoods in a typical large city are populated by dozens if not hundreds of mosques filled with thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of young Black people who have adopted Islam. Imagine a time when the Black Christian church is reduced to a few (3 to 5) mega churches on the edges of those neighborhoods. Impossible you say? The Black church’s history is too deep, our witness to strong, our numbers to high and our attraction too irresistible. If that’s your line of thinking, you’d best think again. In my city of Philadelphia we’re seeing the change right before our eyes. In more and more places young Black men and women are finding identity, dignity, purpose and security by donning the religion and religious garb of Islam. Our neighborhood churches aren’t thriving and while they still draw a crowd, most of those who attend are well past retirement age.

Unfortunately (or should I say providentially) the emergence and attraction of Islam is occurring at the same time that much of the Black Christian church is busily and eagerly embracing the most destructive forms of deviant and blasphemous theology. As we pursue wealth, power, fame, comfort and convenience (all in Jesus name of course) those who convert to Islam scoff (rightly so) at the ‘Christians’ who are so preoccupied with the trinkets of the dominant culture while being so out of touch with their own children and grandchildren who have turned their backs on the old time religion. While the Black church continues to stand in front of our magnificent edifices as monuments to God’s blessing, our neighborhoods continue their slow inevitable decline while Islam picks up the pieces of the broken lives we’ve left behind.

Don’t get me wrong however. Though this is a time of alarm and concern, it is not a call to panic. God will maintain His witness to His creation through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The nations will indeed continue to stream to the mountain of God for forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, justification and true, vibrant life in Jesus Christ. God has not fallen off the throne and will most definitely call all those He has chosen to Himself. The Spirit will blow wherever He wishes, giving life to the spiritually dead, empowering people to declare the gospel to them, and bringing them to faith in our Lord and Savior. (see 2nd Thes. 2:13-14.)

So while this is not a call to panic it is a call to action. The neighborhood church is going the way of the VCR. (yeah I was going to say 8-track, but this is the 21st century. Pretty soon, those old, historic stone and brick buildings which once rang with the praises of the saints of old will house a new group of worshipers who sing a different song. God has providentially put us in this time at this place to advance the gospel of the kingdom found in His one and unique Son Jesus Christ. The vehicle God has placed to expand that rule and proclaim that life-giving gospel is the church. It would therefore be a monumental and fatal mistake for us to forsake and abandon the church in our effort to ‘be relevant’ to this time’s emergent generation.

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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
As humans, each of us realizes that we continually need to be changed in various ways. We encounter situations and issues in our lives which mandate that we change our disposition, attitude and approach for appropriate reasons. Therefore, the human is constantly in flux, changing his mind and approach to events, situations and experiences based on pertinent information. This is a normal aspect of existence and is not inherently a bad quality or trait.

Believers desire to be changed and transformed by the Christ of the text through Scriptural meditation. He/she desires to be influenced and affected by the text. The believer in right attitude encounters the text with great desire and anticipation expecting to be granted illumination.

I am concerned however that sometimes the believer is so immersed and concerned with having a “clear mind” or an “open and receiving heart” that he/she fails to truly interact and grapple with the text. Change truly occurs only as the believer seeks honest, up-front and forthright interaction with the text. In meditation, he/she encounters the text with a mind full of concerns, thoughts, expectations and ideas. Therefore no one reads in a vacuum. Every reading and every meditation is a contextualized meditation suited to our personal change and growth. The text impacts the believer and moves him/her to think and respond in certain ways to reality. But if we are to be influenced by the text, we must bring ourselves to the text and encounter it allowing ourselves to be exposed to the power, illumination and will of God and not be overly concerned about how our biases influence Biblical understanding. Meditation does not alleviate our biases but rather instructs and informs our biases; meditation is critical because every other aspect of reality influences our biases as well.

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Category: Theology
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
One may readily be able to locate a person who feels as though they never have had any meaningful or significant relationships with others. If we were to find such a person, we would most likely take pity on them and realize that they are missing a valuable and crucial aspect of life. Those who are not engaged in some form of substantial and beneficial interaction or association with another are missing a vital aspect of their lives. We would agree that our relationships with others enhance our lives, bring greater meaning and fulfillment and bring added understanding about our world and reality.

Relationships with others actually empower and enable us to live meaningful lives by revealing more about ourselves, God and the world. Therefore, a core or central aspect of human existence involves the dynamic of interaction and meaningful associations with others. God has created us as relational creatures. We look to those we care about to provide us with love, support, advice, etc. In this way, we are dependent upon those for whom we have concern. Because we are relational creatures, we seek to associate and interact with many aspects of reality and not only friends and family. Also, because we are relational creatures, thinking, learning and growth are based on our ability to identify the various relationships and associations among information. For example, a small child must quickly be informed of the correspondence between fire and pain.

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Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderMM
As human beings, we naturally recall previous experiences in our lives and perform introspection in an attempt to understand if and how certain experiences have changed or altered our psyche, emotions and beliefs. Introspection has various motivations but each of us attempts to understand how and why we realize life differently now as opposed to say, 2 years ago, due to the experiences we have encountered. It is evident that introspection aids in the understanding of ourselves, our world and other people. Introspection can also be performed from numerous perspectives or starting points. One can look through the lens of a certain experience or any other aspect of reality and learn about themselves, the world and other people. The Bible presents many examples of introspection. For example, Solomon engaged in introspection and bears his heart and mind and reveals the progression of his thoughts throughout Ecclesiastes.

For some reason, introspection, insightful as it may be, is not readily employed in the common approach to Scriptural understanding. Many believers pursue Scripture as if to say, “What can it do for me today.” Perhaps we would learn more about Scripture, ourselves and our world if we re-evaluated the direction or route of our immediate Scriptural application. Instead of pursuing Scripture only within the context of present-day circumstances, maybe we should take a more complete approach to daily Scriptural application. As we approach and encounter the text, and as we measure the text against the script or pattern of our present-day situations, we should initially think more in-depth about how we used to understand the text in view. We should focus and give initial time to our previous understanding of the text. From the basis of our previous understanding of the text, we may then develop a more enhanced present understanding of the text. The point is that there is much illumination to be derived from an approach which focuses heavily on our present situations and textual understanding. However, there is much to be gathered from an approach which focuses deliberately on how far we’ve come and engages our minds and hearts in that which we used to believe and the reasons why we now believe differently.

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Posted on: 11/24/05:

Common Grace in Thanksgiving

Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Cornucopia

Around this time of the year when everything and everyone is all festive, it usually drives me nuts, especially Thanksgiving because all of a sudden the most ungrateful people in the world become oh so “thankful.” It sometimes goes like this: “I am thankful for running water, electricity, health, family, friends, job, etc.” And for those who are “spiritual,” they sprinkle it with a little “God” talk: “I thank ‘God’ for running water, electricity, health….” You get the idea. Also I’m sure I don’t have to prove that any other time of the year people are not as thankful (at least it is not so explicit), which is my point and why it drives me nuts when you hear the same thing from both non-Christians and Christians alike. Are we, as Christians, only thankful for the same thing the world is? No and Yes! I hope it may be obvious why the answer can be “no” (if not drop an email or comment), but I also think, “Yes.” We should be thankful for the same thing the world is. So let me come about from the angle of grace.

The Christian and non-Christian are both in God’s world. God is everyone’s environment. He reveals himself in his creation, his handiwork. He has not left himself without a witness in his world (cf. Acts 14:17). His fingerprint and goodness is all over his creation. He satisfies our hearts with food and gladness by giving us rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, even to those who reject and want to live as though he does not exist. Therefore, contrary to what I said earlier, it should not drive me nuts when I see unbelievers giving thanks (maybe even to God) for what they have because God’s goodness can be clearly seen in it, although, their hearts and mind are still darkened. They try to suppress the truth in unrighteousness, but they still know him and are without excuse. The unbeliever has been created in God’s image and has within them an inescapable knowledge of God (which is often referred to as a “sense of deity” or “an awareness of divinity”). They cannot run away from God because they cannot run away from themselves who bear the image of God, though not righteously. Although, the unbeliever may try to live without God and refuse to worship Him on His terms, they will ultimately fail. God will be glorified, even in their rebellion. I believe this can be clearly seen on Thanksgiving. Even though, the unbeliever tries to rebel by not honoring and thanking God rightly, I would suggest by God’s common grace we still get a glimpse of what it truly means to be human, a thankful creature of God, even in the unbeliever’s participation in Thanksgiving. Here is God’s common grace in Thanksgiving. Therefore, how much more should we, as believers be thankful since we truly know God in Christ Jesus?

So let us thank God for glorifying himself in spite of our rebellion and selfishness on Thanksgiving.
Category: Politics
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Here is an excerpt of an interesting piece from the Washington Post on the socio-economic aspects of the repopulation in New Orleans, the title, “The Economics of Return: Class, Color May Guide Repopulation of New Orleans.”
But in New Orleans, where affluent whites live high and working-class blacks live low, the privileges of neighborhood quickly asserted themselves. For many, race and class predicted patterns of escape, dictating whether flight would be a nervous drive out of town or a caged week of torment and humiliation.

These days, as planners and politicians look ahead, many realize that the future of this city, which before the storm was more than two-thirds black and nearly one-third poor, swings on two simple questions: Are residents coming home? If so, which ones? It now appears that long-standing neighborhood differences in income and opportunity -- along with resentment over the ghastly exodus -- are shaping the stalled repopulation of this mostly empty city.

'Go With the Flow'

For families from Delery Street, meanwhile, a realization is growing that the odds of coming back get longer each day. "My life is moving on," said Mills, who lives now with in-laws an hour outside New Orleans in the town of Paincourtville, in Louisiana's sugar-cane country. There, her husband, Terrelle, has a $7.50-an-hour job at an Ace Hardware store. Her mother, Ora, has a $7-an-hour job at a Big Lots discount store. Her 13-year-old, Kortney, is in a local public school, and Mills is planning to enroll in a nursing program in nearby Baton Rouge. "I got to go with the flow," said Mills, whose fury lingers over the hardship her family endured while waiting five days for federal, state and city officials to figure out how to get them out of a major hospital. "I can't say we won't go back, but as of right now we are not going back."
How do we, as Reformed people, theologize in such a way that our theology will intersect and inform our approach to economic development since God does have something to say about his world, and in particular his cities? If we, as human beings regardless of our differences, are all created in God’s image, which gives us true worth and identity, how should that impact our thinking on city repopulation methodologically? In the case of Terrelle and Ora (above), where does our robust Reformed theology speak relevantly and meaningfully to their lives (beyond the obvious and very much correct, sovereignty of God discussion)? Do they need a book on God’s sovereignty? Do they even need to go to a Reformed conference to better help them deal with the real and tragic issues they face? How and where do our understanding of the gospel holistically meet them where they need Jesus most? In other words, is the only thing we can offer these people and their city is our good sound theology?