Just Accept It…God Chose You!

Christians are often asked, “What’s your favorite book of the Bible?” and “Which Biblical person(s) do you most identify with?” as if this was ever an easy decision! Growing up, the answers to these two questions changed depicted how I felt/who had the super dope story. When I felt abandoned, it was Job; when I was understanding worship, it was David; when I wanted to be fearless, it was Daniel; when I wanted to be used, it was Samuel; when I felt unworthy to be used because of ways I’ve denied Christ, it was Peter. Those weren’t necessarily “bad” reasons. They were very true for me at that time in life. However, I am firm in my current choices.

Favorite Book: Acts. Seriously, read Luke then Acts (Biblical scholars believe these books were written back to back and it actually reads much better this way). It’ll change how you see Christ life, His mission and His call for us to step up and live out grace, so others can experience the fullness of joy. Acts is amazing for so many reasons. First, we see the Holy Spirit descend upon the early Christians (Acts 2) and they are given abilities to speak in every language (don’t confuse this with speaking in tongues aka Heavenly language); they literally were speaking French, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, etc. It is clear this was a foreshadow of Christ revealing that the Gospel as for all nations, all people, using every language. We also see the first matyr, Stephen, who was stoned to death for believing in Christ. Could you believe his last words were, “Lord, receive my Spirit…[and] do not hold this sin against them”(Acts 7).

Moreover, I love this book because we learn about Paul, my favorite person. Paul represents boldness like I’ve never seen before. He is the epitome of instant transformation (Acts 8). When I used to think of Paul, I used to imagine him with fine robes, a great orator and a well-groomed man. Actually…not the case. He was beaten (numerous times), stoned so bad they thought he was dead, and imprisoned A LOT. In fact, in 1 Corinthians, he self-describes his situation: “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.” This is the Paul I love reading about because it shows the boldness and selflessness of his life. Think about it, if a person is willing to go through all of that just so you and I can hear about life and freedom in Christ, wouldn’t you want to hear them out.

Anyway, this is the message that I wanted to emphasize. This week while reading through Paul’s letters, a startling question arose:

Lord, if Peter and the other disciples were already the main characters and followers who walked, lived and ate with you, why not use them exclusively? Why Paul?

Think about it, Paul enters the scene as Saul, who wasn’t a believer. He was actively trying to have them killed, yet God said…”I want Him.” What does this mean for our lives. I used to go through life questioning why God wanted to use me to sing, write, worship, etc. when there were “more qualified, more experienced people.” I couldn’t wrap my head around being chosen because I didn’t have the qualifications. I would compare myself like crazy, which automatically led to me writing myself off. Then I was reminded of Romans 8:30, “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Challenge for those questioning your purpose: Stop moping around asking, “why me?” You can’t be used if you don’t understand that the gifts and abilities you have are not of yourself, but from God. Know that God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called. Believe it or not, when Paul first came to see the disciples, they were scared of him. Paul must’ve been that bad of a brotha to have the disciples questioning his presence. At one point you may have been like Paul – actively fighting against God’s plan. Let him use you.

Challenge for Christian leaders: Stop writing off the Sauls of this world. If you only focus on what folks are not doing, rather than genuinely getting to know people and seeing the Christ in them, you’ll never have the eyes of God. You can’t live like Christ without having the compassion he had. So, take it easy! If we are being honest, I believe some of our Christian leaders were blinded this past election because we forgot how to live through grace. We used religion to validate why we “had” to write off those that are different than us. Cues eye roll. We ain’t all that and a bag of chips. Serving must be rooted in humility. Without humility, our pride makes us forgetful and we begin to look down on people. As a result, we get scared of the Sauls. We write them off. We disassociate ourselves from them. Yet when God changes their heart, we wonder why they don’t feel comfortable talking to us, joining our churches, and attending our small groups. How you treat people while they are lost has a great impact on where they go when they are found.

-Dantrell

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Redefining What it Means to be a “Cheerful Giver”

Reflection time!

So, I was walking to the bus stop around 8:30pm because my bus was coming in 2 minutes and a guy stop me and ask if I could help him buy food. These were my honest thoughts:

  1. I’m really enjoying this Christian song so I’m not trying to be interrupted
  2. 2) my bus is now coming in 1 minute so I can’t afford to miss it; and
  3. 3) I only have a $20.

So I said “No.” He replied, “please… you can’t help me get food”?” Again I said “No” and walked to the stop light. Immediately, I was convicted by a couple of things:

  1. I just asked God to use me and wrote a whole post about it yesterday, but so easily wrote off this man. Was I becoming selective in who God could use me for?
  2. Catching the bus so I could be home in comfort became more important than a man’s dignity; and
  3. A man needed food TODAY. His needs were immediate but I was concerned about the replaceable $20 that I didn’t want to break. I thought, “but this is $20 dollars and I seriously don’t have change so that makes it ok.” Ummm, so why not give him the whole $20?

Best believe in an instant, I ran back to him and gave him the $20. The reality is that “God loves a cheerful giver” has become a saying we use during offering, but can’t seem to make that connection on the streets and outside those four walls.

When I gave it to him, his face lit up and he said, “Wow, really?…thank you.” My obedience and act of love may have been the only reflection of Christ he saw that day. Want to know the best part, after telling him God loves him and giving him the money, the bus was legit waiting at the bus stop. God held the bus!

What am I saying here? It’s not always about you. We literally miss the opportunity to bless others because we are so focused on us and our agenda. Don’t get me wrong: you are important, but so are others. You can’t ask God to use you, then turn around and complain that you feel used. Today was a day where the conviction was instant, but there have been days where I have said “No” and walked away. I’m not alone…we’ve all done it. I challenge everyone to be cognizant of the ways that our self-centeredness (no matter how well intentioned it is) have hardened our hearts to helping those in need.

Blessings and understanding to all who read this. Amen.

Fix Your Posture to Say “Yes”

Just wanted to encourage someone today.

So today in my prayer time, I told God, “If there are any opportunities to use me today, please do! For my posture is a ‘Yes’ and I want to be your ambassador today.” I kid you not, every conversation today, God did just that. He showed me who was hurting, who needed to be invited to church, who needed to know they were loved, who needed me to listen, and who needed me to celebrate in their joy. I promise y’all, I don’t share faith out of ritualistic duty; it is a genuine desire to show the world Christ like never before.

With that said, a couple of realizations came from today’s conversations:
1. The world has really distorted the role and function of the church. So many are scared to go (and sometimes rightfully so) because we have made it a place where you have to it all together and be flawless instead demonstrating what happens when a group of imperfect, jacked-up folks gather to celebrate the grace shown.

2.Don’t just invite people to church, be it. The church is not a building and the four walls, it’s the people in it. Some people can’t wait till Sunday. Ask God how you can be the church today.

3. If we wait to “get ourselves right” before going to church, we will never go. The church is like a hospital. If you broke your arm, you wouldn’t say, “I’ma wait till this arm heal, then I’ll go to the doctor.”

4. I’ve learned that folks are desperately longing for community and a welcoming church. If you call yourself a Christian, your walk must be centered around helping others and not just going to church to receive for yourself. When you realize that you may be the only example of what a Christian and what church is, you begin to live more intentionally and develop a longing and thirst for folks to experience something liberating.

5. Lastly, for all those that are seriously struggling with their faith, the church and what it means to follow Christ, please know that there are living reflections of what Jesus meant when he said, “let our light shines so others may see His good works.” I know many people have been impacted from their childhood experiences of religion, participated out of ritual and drifted once older. To be honest, some just seriously feel like “what’s the point.”

Will you consider giving Christ another try? Hit me up and I would love to share more.

-Dantrell

Honest Reflection: Why Did You Vote?

These are my pure thoughts.

I found a lot of my white Christian brothers and sisters claiming how “hard” it was to vote, and I get that, we didn’t have great choices at all. With that said, that very sentiment is still very much rooted in privilege and a form of individualism. Hard to swallow, yes. I am surrounded in spaces with undocumented students, folks who very livelihoods are threatened daily.

Do I agree with every lifestyle choices? No. But I’ve seen how God uses me and others to share His love and grace, yet so many used religious Christian rhetoric to rank what they believe was more “Biblical Christian” values. That was the part that hurt most. I think for so many of us, after everything Donald said, there is no way I could ever support him because his blatant words has targeted and threatened the lives of folks I encounter everyday.

So, it’s a respectful challenge for my privileged brothers and sisters to reconsider what really was “difficult.” I really think if voting for self and personal values, then of course it was difficult. But I do question whether we really put on the equity lens that Christ life was centered around and voted with others in mind. Almost felt like people were more concerned with possessions (what can I keep: economics, jobs, money) and less about who can I care for (the ones Christ tells us to go out and be a light to).

Seriously, how do we serve the poor and hurting and broken, and at the same time support the very people and systems that’s creating and upholding such inequities. My vote wasn’t rooted in my personal wants, but truly out of love for my oppressed brothers and sisters, and that advocacy automatically had to rule out Donald.

Off to serve so many students that are honestly in awe, disbelief and fearful for what’s to come.

-Dantrell

You Are A Living Recommendation Letter!

Quick Post:

Reading 2 Corinthians 3:3, and Paul gives us a great analogy that we are living recommendation letters to validate the power of Christ. “You are a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, written not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” WOW! Let’s be living recommendation letters of all Christ has done!

Dantrell