We find outselves in an era where an unspoken question is, "where do you find safe space?" In recent weeks I have watched the news accounts from cities throughout the work where I have traveled: Paris, Istanbul, Brasilia, Oakland, Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit, New Orleans, to name a few. it is someone startling to witness places where you walked, ate, and slept on the news as places where terror and danger exist. It causes me to thank God for traveling mercies. It seems like we are in a very violent era from government sponsored terriorism, to senseless police shootings, and to violence between people from similar backgrounds, ethnicity and conditions. Violence is everywhere and I wonder is there any safe space in the world? I was summoned to meet with Baltimore City Public School officials to discuss a recent violent episode in a school in close proiximity to the Union Baptist Church. Within the school was a violent stabbing of a student by another student. The violence threw the total school and community into shock and crisis. As a man of faith and a leader of a well respected religious institution, what do you do? I offered Union Baptist Church as safe space for the teachers, parents and students to assemble and discuss their feelings, pray for healing, and interact with crises interventionalists. Not withstanding the incident in Charleston, South Carolina, the faith institutions within a community must be safe spaces for those who are hurting and lost. The commands of our Biblical reading and Jesus Christ prompts us to be places of refuge and spaces of sanctuary. If one believes that our religious place is Holy Ground, then we cannot be afraid to function within those spaces as so. There is a traquil spirit when one enters into Union Baptist Church and sit in the main sanctuary with the rays of God's sunlight beaming through the stain glass windows. Sitting silently as the earth tone stone walls and stained oak ceiling and trussles evelope you within a historical setting that has stood firm in the midst of turmoil since 1905. Just being in the sanctuary affirms that God is from everlasting to everlasting. I'm honored to serve as the 10th Pastor of Union Baptist Church and stand on the shoulders of my nine predecesors as a beacon of hope during incredulous times. God is still on throne and He is still commanding us to study war no more and to seek salom at all times. I'm glad I can answer the question of where do you find safe space? You can find it in the inner recesses of your spirit when you are seated within the sacred space of Union Baptist Church. "You who are weary come home!"
"Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." James 1:22
The meditation this morning deals with the idea of becoming spiritually bored. The implication is when one only hears the word of God without doing the will of God, it leads to one becoming spiritual bored. I will take the inference of today's meditation a step further. I believe one becomes spiritually bored when they refuse to hear or read the word of God. For me a clear symptom of spiritual boredness is when one refuses to encounter the source of spiritual activity. Spiritual activity is when the deep within your encounters the presence of a living God. There is an axiom that says, "action to an organization is like blood is to the body." Allow me to make an adjustment in that statement: "spiritual action in the body comes from a spiritual encounter with the ultimate Actor." When one has had a true encounter with the divine, I believe all boredom is gone and life becomes a series of exciting encounters with Him who loves you beyond measure. First hear the word, read the word, learn the word, live the word and do the word everyday of one's life and you will never experience spiritual boredness!
"I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart." John 14:27 NLT
At the end of a hectic week, I needed to read a thoughtful meditation. I'm reading Friday's devotional entitled, "Peace of Mind."
I've learned that you cannot control what flies over your head, but you can control what flies into your head.
I'm focusing my attention upon the things of God. When that happens the worries of the world seem so small. Within the short span of one week I will preach eulogies for three people. Life is far too short to live it in a state of unease. Life is too short to continue to allow bruise feelings to exists particularly with the ones you love.
An honest prayer towards the end of any week is to ask God for the gift of peace of mind and heart!
"There was not a man to till the ground." Genesis 2:5
Today Pastor Reid and I responded to the call of the Principal and staff of Renaissance Academy to speak to their students prior to their being dismissed because a week ago there was a fight between students on their way to the subway stop at State Center. We were joined by Communities United, Safe Streets, and the Mayor's representative. Men came to support the students and staff and to let them know the expectations we have for each of them. The Pastors of Bethel A.M.E. and Union Baptist Church were united in the safety, security and success of each of the students who attends the school.
Initially the call was for 100 men to join in the effort. While we were far short of the goal, we were not deterred by the shortage. While the Bible verse proclaims there were not enough men. A few good men with God is more than enough to fight the enemies of our student's future.
"Walk in love, as God also has loved us." Ephesians 5:2 NKJV
Yesterday the Police Sargent of Central District called to ask if Union Baptist Church would host a meeting with him and community leaders to discuss the rising incidents of violence within the community. Of course I agreed, but I quickly realized what could possibily be done to change the hearts and minds of people who see the use of violence as a viable option to address their issues with someone else.
I thought about this deeply and realized we are in a culture where verbal, mental and physical violence is too acceptable as the order of the day. I'm particulary concerned how easy believers are so willing to resort to mental and verbal violence to address their concerns.
I thought the essence of the faith experience hung on forgiveness and love.
I may be naive or alturistic, but my contribution in the upcoming meeting is we need more demonstrations within our homes, community and churches of the power of love to overcome life's tensions.
"Be full of love for others." Ephesians 5:2 TLB
I had pancakes this morning and the choice was presented to me to have them with or without syrup. I thought about it for a moment. Pancakes are pancakes, why pour syrup over them?
As I pondered the decision, I thought about the meditation for this morning. What if instead of pancakes, it was people? What if syrup represented love? Would you want people without love?
I quickly poured a lot of syrup over my pancakes and they tasted mighty good.
Pour love over the people in your life and you will discover they are very good too!
"You did not receive a spirit...to fear, but...of sonship." Romans 8:15 NIV
The essence of life is relationship. The quality of one's life is defined by the quality of one's relationships. The ultimate relationship in life is your relationship with God. If you are secure in your relationship with your significant other, your family, your friends, and God, then nothing can intimidate you or cause you to fear. You have the ultimate assurance of security from the ones you love and the ones who loves you.
"You meant evil...but God meant it for good." Genesis 50: 20 NKJV
9/11/01 is a day woven into the memory of the Citizens of America and around the world. It is a day forever etched into the fabric of our society. We, in the USA, have lived under the assumption that no one would attack us on our homeland. After facing up to the reality we are not safe anymore, the Department of Homeland Security was created. From that moment on our lives have been changed by the actions of a band of people far away who used airplanes as weapons and by goverments bent on keeping its citizens safe. If you have traveled overseas, we recognize there are security measures in effect all over the world, particularly in air travel.
Evil has a way of arriving at your doorstep. It may not be the attack of a terrorists, but it very well might be the attack of the evil one or his imps. No one is immune from evil. No one is exempted from its effects. But I'm so glad we have our own Homeland Security that is directed by GOD.
"I have...treasured his words more than daily food." Job 23:12 NLT
Like food is to the body, God's word is to the soul. There is a saying, "You are what you eat." What you ingest you become. Maybe its time to change your diet: curtail watching television, slow down on your use of social media, listen less to you iPod; and take in more of God's word. You take it in by reading your Bible. You take it in by reading devotionals. You take it in by reflecting, meditating and living God's word. If your desire is to become "a solider of the cross and a follower of the lamb," then you will have to eat God's word daily to avoid the hunger pains of spiritual lack. "Taste and see that the Lord is good!"