Tag Archives: sin

Help Fund An Effort to End Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a major problem in the United States.

Yes, it is an issue overseas…in Asia, Europe, and other countries. But, it is also a problem right here at home. There are numerous websites with information and statistics about human trafficking, so I won’t post the information here…please take the time to go and review the sites – I’ll post a couple below.

But, there is one site in particular that I want to highlight. It is from the Safe House of Hope (SHOH). This organization is located here in Maryland, and I was fortunate to be able to visit them during an open house they had a few months ago.

I attended with my pastor and his bride, and we were able to sit down and speak with the Denene Yates, who serves as the Director of this ministry. She is a really great woman, and after speaking to her for a short time, it is obvious that she loves Jesus and that she has a heart after the lost. She comes from a similar background as the ladies who she has been able to help, and is trying to help, so her desire to see people pulled from this lifestyle is strong and sincere.

This is a video of one of the ladies who has been helped through this ministry.

The SHOH has recently established a “GoFundMe” account with which they are trying to raise money to further help end human trafficking. The “gofundme” site is here. Please take a look at what they are doing. If you are not able to donate, please consider adding them to your prayer list and lift them up before the Lord Jesus.

The SHOH website, located here, lists the following as recommended ways to help end human trafficking:

• NOT buying SEX
• NOT Buying Pornography – One in five images on the internet are of underage girls.
• NOT using ‘pimp’ as a good term
• NOT referring to women as whores, sluts or HOs
• NOT patronizing strip clubs, massage parlors, or places that are known for prostitution.

Also, take a look at the “Do You Know?” section of the SHOH “GoFundMe” site – there are some shocking and extremely disheartening statistics.

The SHOH site has links to other sites to obtain more information. The video at the top of this post is from Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission . Please take some time to review their website as well.

Please keep this ministry in your prayers as they continue to pull more and more victims from this terrible way of life.

Grace and Peace,
John

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G.O.S.P.E.L. by D.A. Horton (Book Review)

3300_G.O.S.P.E.L.inddI first heard of D.A. Horton from a YouTube video in which he was promoting ReachLife Ministries. – the ministry/educational arm of the powerhouse record label, Reach Records. Horton had recently taken over as the Executive Director of ReachLife and was explaining the intentions and some of the goals of the ministry, to include where he was praying God would lead it.  He was very purposeful in his statements and his presentation of, not only the message of ReachLife, but the message of the gospel.

This was a brother whom I could tell knew the gospel and was able to communicate such truths to brothers and sisters on the block, as well as brothers and sisters in the church. When the opportunity to review his first book presented itself – I had to take it.

Horton has written an extremely easy to read book. At only 77 pages, someone should be able to make it from cover to cover in less than two or three sittings. However, to take the brevity of the book as a weakness would be a discrediting to the author – I think Horton did a great job with his first effort as a published author.

As with any book, there are some aspects I liked better than others. And although they are few and far between, there are some specifics that I didn’t like at all. However, at the end of the day, I don’t think anyone would be upset investing time in reading this book.

When reading this book, you can’t help but wonder who the book was written for – someone wanting to communicate the gospel to urban dwellers or urban dwellers who want to know more about the gospel.

It’s actually both.

The book is written in such a way that if the reader can already explain the gospel in a clear and concise manner, this book provides the tools needed to be able explain it to someone in an urban context. The slang and terminology that Horton uses in this book is used in such a way that someone unfamiliar with the meanings might be able to understand the words if they heard them in person. On the reverse, the book is written in such a way that if someone from the urban context had questions about the gospel, aside from someone walking along side them one on one, this would be a good resource for them to read. Again, the slang and terminology Horton  uses to explain complex theological truths is right on par with how brothers and sisters in the urban context speak.

Which leads to one of the few issues I have with the book. Horton defines the slang and terminology he uses in the book as “Thebonics” and he defines it as “the presentation of theological truths in the language known as ebonics, the rich slang that is part of our urban neighborhoods, especially African-Americans, to describe people and situations in the hood.” Basically, it’s a term he created to explain his use of slang to express theologically specific terms and ideas.

That kinda bothers me. I would have liked for him to have chosen a better descriptor for the terminology he uses in his book. I don’t know too many African-Americans, Hispanics, etc., whom are comfortable with the term “ebonics” – if they remember the controversy when the term was first introduced to be used in a school setting. This, I believe, is the only shortcoming of the book. (I am sure that there was no ill-intent in its use. I believe Horton only used it as a means of identification to the target audience whom would most likely read the book. He is a man who has an apparent and sincere love for all of God’s people. This instance is just something that I personally didn’t like.)

Aside from that, which is far from distracting, the book is good. I would not hesitate in recommending it to anyone, especially teens and young adults. I think it would be a great youth group study or even a personal study.

Pick it up a few copies for your youth group or just one copy for the teen in your family – it’s well worth it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Moody Publishing through the Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review.  I have not received payment for a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

A Right View of the Power of God

Preparation Timewpid-20140213_082025.jpg

Last night, as I sat at my dining room table working on homework, I couldn’t help but think about the impending storm. I thought about how everyone, myself included, stopped at the store on their way home from work to stock up on food and supplies just in case the storm left us to deal with the worst. I thought about those in Georgia and other southern states that were already dealing with the beast that was yet to reach us here in Maryland.

As many of us watched the news for updates, I wondered how many of us were thinking about the storm in terms of the destruction that was potentially about to take place. Were our thoughts with those who were going to be without electricity because of damaged wires from fallen trees? Were our thoughts with those who were going to be stranded in their vehicles when the roads became too dangerous to travel? Were our thoughts with those whom were without a roof over their heads during one of the biggest storms of the last few years?

It’s Here

This morning, I was one of the many people whom were out shoveling their cars from under the snow. From our front doors to the street, my neighbors and I trudged the many inches of snow that had fallen over the past few hours. As we steadily shoveled away, my neighbors and I held casual, yet cordial conversation with each other. It was nice. I made the comment that shoveling snow with others at nine o’clock in the morning is much better than shoveling snow alone at four thirty in the morning. It genuinely is better.

I’m sure we were all thinking about family and friends whom were affected by this storm system. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering how others were doing. I saw a few Facebook posts about some who did lose their power. All we can do from here is pray for them. But, I also wondered about how many of us thought about God and how He controls nature (Psalm 29). Do we look at this storm as a nuisance or as a display of God’s power? Do we look at this storm as an inconvenience or as a testament to His greatness? Yes, if our power goes out because of fallen trees, we see it as a nuisance. Yes, if we are stuck in the house because the streets are too bad to travel, we see it as an inconvenience. It’s a natural reaction for a natural people who have natural wants and needs.

My First Thought

We have lived in our current home for almost a year and a half. Since being here, we have lost power multiple times. We usually lose power because of extreme weather, i.e. a rain or snow storm. I guess that’s normal. Other times, we’ve lost power because something somewhere overheated. I guess that’s possible. Once we lost power for a reason that no one could explain. You can guess I was upset. In times like that, I am quick to complain. My frustration comes out pretty quickly. Honestly, I try my best to stay positive and maintain composure for the sake of my family. You know, do my best to set the right example, but deep down – I’m mad and I know it.

It is times like this that I have to be reminded, in some way, that God is sovereign over everything (Psa 115:3). As a believer, I am never outside of His hand (Jn 10:28). He is my shield (Psa 5:12). So, why are my first thoughts negative? What is it that causes me to develop a thought process that doesn’t bring God any kind of glory?

A New Vision

It’s sin (Gen 3:6). It’s ever present with me (Rom 7:21). It causes me to shift my focus from God, who is eternal, and place it on my situation, which is temporary. I lose sight of He who made heaven and earth (Gen 1), and zero in on the problem that holds no worth. It’s a wrong vision of what’s important. My priorities are shifted.

That is not to say that we shouldn’t deal with our circumstances. We must deal with them. If we don’t address them, there’s the potential for them to fester and possibly grow unmanageable – depending on the issue, of course. Our problems must be dealt with head on, but we must deal with them with God taking the lead. As stated earlier, He is in control of all things – including the things that bother me on a daily basis.

Who am I to think that God isn’t concerned with what troubles me? Better yet, who are we (as a people) to think that God isn’t concerned with what troubles us? We’re made in His image (Gen 1:26), He’s given us dominion (Gen 1:28), in the midst of our sin, He still cares for us (Gen 3:21), and most importantly, He’s given us a way out of our sin to be reconciled back (Eph 2:16) into a right relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ (Matt 27, Mk 15, Lk 23, Jn 19)

How can we presume to know what God is not concerned with regarding His children (Eph 1:5)? Let us no longer presume anything regarding the mind of God, but let us hold fast to that which He has promised us in His word – deliverance on the day of trouble (Psa 50:15). God is awesome. He is magnificent in all things. So, let’s not forget that because of God’s power, Christ’s work on the cross was sufficient to save us (Jn 3:16) and allow us to now be members of the household of God (Eph 2:19). Amen.

In Christ,
John

How do you view God’s power in your life? Do you see the problem first or God’s power first? Share it below. Thanks.

Torn Between the Two

Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God, for You

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me

by John Donne (1572 – 1631)

I posted a poem a few days ago that I found especially good. This is another. I am currently finishing up my undergraduate degree and we are studying poetry in this iteration of my English class. Hence, posting of these “older” poems. This one is written in older English, so it is a bit more challenging to understand, but not any less appealing.