Archive for religion

It’s All About Perspective

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2018 by paulthepoke

Christine McDonaldFeaturing Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Awarded by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon for Outstanding Civil Service.

“The self-righteous scream judgments against others to hide the noise of skeletons dancing in their own closets.” ― John Mark Green

 

Just cause you say you are of the church a leader of God a Christian with some folks just don’t mean that much at all…

Have you ever wondered how two people can stand side-by-side witnessing the same event, yet report seeing two totally different things? Our past experiences shape how we interpret nearly everything around us. People from strong loving families often have a more confident view of themselves as well as the world they interact with than those who grew up with less support.

Oftentimes these experiences also define our perceptions of who God is, as well as what our purpose is on this planet. Those who have been raised in the church may not always be aware of how far apart their understanding of Jesus and salvation is from those who have only ever been hurt by the world.

Jesus bridged this gap time and time again throughout Scripture. His anger and “judgement” were never directed toward those who were clearly lost. After all, they already felt like they were as far from God as they can get. They saw their need for him. Instead, we see his anger and cutting words repeatedly hurled against the religious leaders of the day who used the law to oppress people instead of freeing them or leading them back to their Creator. Such leaders had no idea of their own need for saving; hence they had no grace for others.

In John Chapter 8, we see Jesus intervene when a group of men wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery. We don’t know precisely what her story is. Was she a willing participant? Was she someone who had been used by others? What we do know is that while she was “caught”, there was no man being condemned alongside her. Whoever she was caught with wasn’t even part of the story. The man who stood up for her, however, was the only perfect and blameless being to ever walk the earth.

If anyone had the authority and was justified in condemning this woman, it was Jesus. He was, after all, the Son of God. But instead, Jesus addressed her accusers, challenging them, “…but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (Verse 7, NLT). Jesus alone held that right; yet when all of them had left, one by one, he turned to her and offered her freedom.

When we encounter those who need this Gospel, yet have been cast down by life over and over again, are we offering them freedom? People know who they are. Even without ever picking up a Bible, people know when their actions are morally objectionable. What Christ offers is more than a light to illuminate the darkness. His light offers freedom. This freedom does not require that we be changed before we accept it. In fact, we can’t. The changes we require to be clean and holy in His sight can only be made by Him.

Perhaps our job as believers isn’t so much about raising a mirror to people so they see their sins. Perhaps, deep down, they already see them. Perhaps our responsibility is to show them God’s reflection of love, grace and freedom. Perhaps, through our words and actions, consistently and patiently, we can offer them hope.

If you have not walked in the shoes of someone who has been exploited or marginalized by society, tread carefully when speaking about the hope of Christ. Be mindful of their past experiences and formulated ideas of Christians, people of faith, or believers. Their lived experiences may not have been that of goodness and love and grace. It takes one thousand good things to replace one bad thing, so tread lightly and gently, my Christian friends. You never know what brokenness someone might have experienced – even at the hands of a person who claims Jesus as Lord.

Tread gently, therefore, when speaking about the hope of Christ to those who are leaving the life, or those attempting to restore their lives from brokenness of any sort you don’t know. Many other “Christians” they have interacted with were antithetical representations of the gospel of Jesus. If this is all they know, then the concept of God and hope and goodness is a much more difficult sell!

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

 

 

Love, Condoms, & Moral Indignation

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2018 by paulthepoke

Christine McDonaldFeaturing Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Christine is the current Director of Outreach, Advocacy and Curriculum for Restoration House.

http://restorationhousekc.com/

Amos 5:21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. -God

A few years ago, I operated a street outreach. We went to the streets and parks where I myself had existed for nearly two decades. We took sandwiches and basic hygiene items to the women and men in that area.

I was contacted by a TV news show who wanted to join us. The news crew had done food service during the holidays, but always in an artificial environment. They had never actually gone to the streets where the many who avoided the long feeding lines dwelled.

We brought bean burritos from Taco Bell that night, as well as water and condoms. As I handed the condoms out, the reporter stopped everything. She turned off the microphone.

I knew the deal. I had heard it before from women of faith who had joined us on these outreaches. The ladies who had so much church. I suppose, that they forgot about the human in us all.

I listened as they ranted all the reasons she couldn’t be a part of us giving out condoms. I had heard all the reasons, so I’d just hear them again. My mind raced, thinking maybe she had a new reason. She didn’t; nobody ever did.

“We are promoting their actions of prostitution” or “We can’t promote prostitutes to sell their bodies out here” were reasons commonly cited. But I was geared up and ready. Goodness knows I had given this speech at least fifty times.

 

If you are one of those individuals who might have concerns about giving out condoms in ministry work, then please continue to read this. Give this a fair shot of thought. Consider for a moment that maybe your moral indignation isn’t as productive as you think it is.

We all know by now that I was prostituted. As a formerly prostituted person, my voice provides a different perspective. During my exploitation, I was rarely in a position to go to the store to purchase condoms. If I was working for my “man” or “pimp,” my priority was to make my funds as fast as I could so I could eat and avoid drama. To state it bluntly, condoms were a luxury I couldn’t afford.

Additionally, it wasn’t uncommon for a trick or John to pay an extra twenty bucks to have sex with you without a condom. Statistics tell us that about 68% of all tricks are married or in a “committed” relationship. Do you think their loved ones at home have any clue they are paying for a prostitute to have sex with them, much less without a condom?

The prostitute might turn twenty dates in a 24-hour period, not to mention the times she has been raped. Keep in mind that her man or pimp has other girls he is having sex with – other prostitutes who are having unprotected sex with many others. Are you doing the math here?

A girlfriend or wife learns she is pregnant, and during this joyous announcement from her doctor she is also informed of another piece of highly unexpected – but far from joyous – news that she is now HIV positive. This is an extra “gift” contracted from her husband or her boyfriend – the john who purchased sex from a prostitute. Of course, this means he is infected as well. So, stop and think of how this woman and her unborn child’s life are forever affected by the man’s urge to purchase sex from a prostitute.

Please note. I am not saying all prostitutes have HIV. I worked the streets for nearly two decades and am HIV free! But I have friends who have died of AIDS and some who live with it daily.

This is yet another reason we must end the purchase of human beings. This cycle of exploitation and suffering affects not only the purchaser and the prostituted individual. There are also innocent victims who are affected who play no role in the event yet end up suffering from it.

If we are truly attempting to connect to the humanity of this complex issue, then offering condoms for the prostituted persons we encounter is not only responsible help; it is loving help. Withholding something that could save a life simply because of our moral objections to its use doesn’t stop the activity. Nor does it convict the buyer or seller of sex. All it does is place additional conditions on love and help, therefore devaluing both love and help until neither is recognizable.

HIV is only one of many damaging effects these acts have on unintended victims. The collateral damage abounds in so many ways we can’t easily see. If we are going to truly help, we must be careful of misapplying our moral objections in ways that further compound, rather than help, the problem.

Our ministry is not only for the buyer and seller, but the unintended victims whose lives can be unknowingly changed forever by someone else’s choice to pay for another human being for their own sexual gratification.

 

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

 

Isaiah 3:1-3 Societal Collapse

Posted in Isaiah with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2012 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 3:1 For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support, the whole supply of bread and the whole supply of water…

Isaiah 3 is a judgment against Jerusalem and Judah (the southern kingdom of Israel). As an overview of the chapter, God initially takes away food and water from the city and nation. Next, God removes older and experienced leadership and replaces them with young, inexperienced leadership. Judgment against the women of Israel is pronounced due to their attitude of materialism. Lastly, the men of the society are killed by the sword of war.

The idea expressed in the Hebrew grammar of verse 1 is the entirety of supplies and provisions, a complete removal of bread and a complete removal of water. Wycliffe’s Bible Commentary has inferred this is possibly caused by drought. Utter famine and dehydration have fallen on Jerusalem and the southern kingdom.

Isaiah 3:2-3 The mighty man and the warrior, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the honorable man, the counselor and the expert artisan, and the skillful enchanter.

Leadership is being removed from Israel. A lack of leadership is a judgment from God. That is a frightening thought when we look at the state of our country today in 2012. Do we really have leadership or are we run by polling, focus groups, or what’s trending on the internet?

The removal is regarding all aspects of society. The mighty man speaks to bravery. The warrior is military strength. The legal system is impacted with the removal of judges. Judicial fairness was not being executed and favoritism and bribes were the flavor of the day. Does this sound familiar? Essentially there was a complete breakdown of government. This is the ultimate outcome of society with a lack of leadership.

There is a removal of the moral and religious fabric of society. Granted some of these folks are false prophets, sorcerers, and diviners but they too are removed along with legitimate leaders. There was not Godly leadership in society. How does our culture view Judeo-Christian values in leadership in general?

Legitimate secular and corporate leadership were removed from the culture. Those who possessed wise counsel and advice were deleted. Technical expertise and a skilled labor force were no more. There were no people to build things. Manufacturing had dried up. Removal of work is judgment from God. What is our 21st Century society crying out at this time? Jobs, jobs, jobs. Does any of this sound familiar?

Arts and education were removed as well. In our case, this may not be such a bad thing. We have hundreds of channels to watch on TV: movies, music, shows, news, sports. Entertain me! The thing I hear more often than not, “There is nothing worth watching.” Our education system is crumbling and we continue to fall further behind the rest of the world in reading and math skills. Business leaders complain today’s graduates are not prepared intellectually.

Collectively, Jewish society of the past collapsed. Will we learn from history? Current trends are not favorable.

Isaiah 1:10-15 God Hates Religion

Posted in Isaiah with tags , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 1:10-15 Listen to the Lord’s word, you leaders of Sodom! Pay attention to our God’s rebuke, people of Gomorrah! “Of what importance to me are your many sacrifices?”says the Lord. “I am stuffed withburnt sacrifices of rams and the fat from steers. The blood of bulls, lambs, and goats I do not want.When you enter my presence, do you actually think I want this –animals trampling on my courtyards? Do not bring any more meaninglessofferings; I consider your incense detestable!You observe new moon festivals, Sabbaths, and convocations, but I cannot tolerate sin-stained celebrations!I hate your new moon festivals and assemblies; they are a burden that I am tired of carrying. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I look the other way;when you offer your many prayers, I do not listen, because your hands are covered with blood.

Religion is going through a ritual or performance. Religion can take many forms. Religion thinks these acts are going to score points with God or impress God. One can see God is not impressed with the religious acts of the Jews in Isaiah 1:10-15. Yes, the Jewish people were required to sacrifice according the Scriptures, but look at their attitude and their actions above. God makes it perfectly clear in  verse 14, “I hate …” Make no mistake, in the Hebrew the word means hate.

Look at the cynicism and sarcasm in verse 10. God refers to the leaders of Jerusalem as comparable to Sodom and Gomorrah. The level of sin had reached the point of their destruction.

Observe the list of “works” as noted by God in these verses. They include burnt sacrifices, offerings, burning of incense, new moon festivals, observance of the Sabbath, and prayer. Yes, even prayer can be “religious” and hated by God. In the next study, the origin of these “religious works” and specific verses will be discussed and defined in their appropriate context.

What is that motivates somebody to do something for “religious” purposes? Is one trying to impress others? Is one trying to draw attention to self for their glory?  Is one trying to get God’s attention or impress God? God is not impressed with “works”. He does not need them. One cannot work their way to Heaven. These Jews were doing what they were supposed to do. They were going to the synagogue on Saturday and burning incense. Does this sound familiar? The problem was ritual and they were going through the motions.

Fast forward to the New Testament, things had not changed much in the church in I Corinthians 11. People were showing up for the Lord’s Supper drunk. Yes, communion is a wonderful thing, but not if you have a bad attitude.

I Corinthians 11:20-22 Now when you come together at the same place, you are not really eating the Lord’s Supper. For when it is time to eat, everyone proceeds with his own supper. One is hungry and another becomes drunk. Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? Or are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you for this!

So what should our attitude be? Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. This is having confidence of knowing that what the Bible says is real. Knowing when God says that we should love one another (1 John 3:11b) that it is the truth. It is having the resolution and the confidence that God knows what is best for us. We are to do these works because God has deemed what is good and what is right. God created these good works for us to complete before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10). We do these works because we relate and respond to His Word. James 2:17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. So, if one’s works are not based in faith… pointless religion.

In today’s world, God is still not interested in misguided works. He is interested in relation and response to His Word. The world may say, “Well, that works for you.” And the answer is, “Yes it does”.  It is also true that God’s Word can work for all of us.

PaulthePoke

Prophecy Watch & Bible Study

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