Religion

Pop-Up Sermon: Everybody Old Ain’t Wise

Old Fool

(Photo Credit: Eucman)

When many old people, especially those who attend church regularly, approach young people, they make statements to those young folks based on their “wisdom” and “experience,” for, in their view, their experience is much more valuable than this “book knowledge” the young have. By “book knowledge,” they generally refer to learning one has obtained in school, including various levels of higher education. Without “book knowledge,” what type of informed lens do you employ to situate the insights of your experience? Without “book knowledge,” how do you really know you’re wise? Isn’t some level of “book knowledge” necessary to have wisdom? If old age automatically makes one wise, then how do we get Donald Trump? Exactly.

II Timothy 2:15 states, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Scripture, therefore, teaches that true wisdom begins and ends with “rightly dividing the word of truth” in one’s thought, talk, walk, and heart. One’s right believing will produce right living, right conduct. Authentic experience is gained through one’s consistent engagement with the word of truth and his or her applying it to daily life. One cannot have real wisdom without an accurate and comprehensive understanding of Scripture. You might want to benefit from some “book knowledge” if you desire to possess wisdom.

Don’t allow anyone, including some old church coon, to make you feel bad because you’re highly educated.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Between Pain & Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering: A Brief Review

Between Pain and Grace

(Photo Credit: Design Corps)

In Pain & Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering, Gerald W. Peterman and Andrew J. Schmutzer offer a thorough and astute assessment of Scripture’s treatment of pain and grace.  Although many readers, especially those who are not advanced bible students or theologians, will find Peterman and Schmutzer’s assertion that God experiences suffering unsettling, their argument on this topic is worthwhile to consider. For those of us who understand the realities of anger, the scholars’ view of anger as a type of suffering may be satisfying.  They discuss mental health and sexual abuse in the context of suffering. What one will discover from this text is his or her faith in what grace has made available will lead him or her to triumph over pain and suffering.

Unlike most books concentrating on pain and suffering that relate them in such generic ways, this work concatenates biblical truths and evidence with clinical research about pain and suffering. I found this book to demonstrate how powerful the grace of Christ is in helping believers to overcome the challenges and problems they experience. As Peterman and Schmutzer explain, pain and suffering are unavoidable in this life. How we elect to confront them will determine our outcomes, however. After reading this book, many readers are likely to increase their faith and trust in Christ’s ability to enable them to rise above pain and suffering.

I highly recommend this book. In a nation and world where elevating violence and hate can seem unbearable, Peterman and Schmutzer remind us that the Finished Work of the Cross has already conquered the pain and suffering we face. It is our job to partake of the grace Jesus has extended to defeat pain and suffering.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: God’s Pulpit Isn’t a Bully Pulpit

 

Black Preacher

(Photo Credit: Christianity Expert)

Before you step into the pulpit, surrender your personal agenda(s), for the pulpit isn’t a space to take spineless, milquetoast shots at folks. Ephesians 4:15 calls us, ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to “speak the truth in love”—keywords: “truth” and “love.” Ministries become ineffective when preachers and pastors use their positions as weapons of carnal warfare, ultimately leading to their own undoing (II Corinthians 10:4). Pastors are called to “feed” and not beat, not condemn (Jeremiah 3:15). Unfortunately, in numerous churches across the nation, pastors beat more than they feed, essentially functioning as tools for Satan. If you’re a pastor or preacher who has developed acrimonious relationships with individuals, then work on ameliorating those relationships in private—not from God’s hallowed pulpit.

When bitterness and discord accompany you to the pulpit, they win; the anointing fails to flow. You inevitably begin to see that God cannot employ you in the ways He once was able; you inevitably begin to see that your spiritual gifts—like the gift of healing—do not work for you any longer; you inevitably begin to see that your personal and ministry’s finances dwindle significantly—as does church attendance. Why? Because you’ve “given place” to the Devil and not concentrated solely on Jesus (Ephesians 4:27). Issues, problems and people have taken Jesus’ spot. Why? Because you’ve become self-occupied instead of Christ-occupied.

Again, settle your issues and problems out of the pulpit—in private. For I Thessalonians 4:11 says, “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before” (New Living Translation).

True Believers, we pray for a day when all pulpits are genuinely reverenced by those who frequent them.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison               

American Woman’s Bible, NKJV: A Short Review

American Woman's Bible

Photo Credit: BookLook Bloggers

The American Woman’s Bible: Women, Godly Virtues, and the Making of America (New King James Version) contains the Word of God translated in language much more accessible than the King James Version, and this particular edition of the bible includes inspiring American women’s history throughout to complement particular books and chapters of the bible. It also contains a helpful concordance.

 
This edition of the bible offers a pleasant reading experience: colored-print, illustrations, various biographies of key women in American history, and more. Most readers will learn some critical phenomena about American history—all while immersing themselves in God’s Word. Durability will never become an issue with this book; it’s well-crafted. With an excellent typeface and print in general, this bible is likely to become the primary bible one reads. Guys shouldn’t think this is a bible simply for women—it’s a bible for everyone.

 
Although this is an excellent bible, it would have been even better if it supplied the reader with study helps. A bible does not have to be a study bible to provide the reader with study helps. I still highly recommend purchasing and reading this bible.

 
In exchange for my honest review, BookLook Bloggers furnished me with a copy of this bible.

 
Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Abolishing Abortion: How You Can Play a Part in Ending the Greatest Evil of Our Day by Frank Pavone: A Short Book Review

Abolishing Abortion

(Photo Credit: Booklook Bloggers)

In Abolishing Abortion: How You Can Play a Part in Ending the Greatest Evil of Our Day, Reverend Frank Pavone offers a comprehensive and aggressive approach to eliminating abortion in America. Instead of allowing churches and individual Christians to succumb to the argument that they should refrain from engaging in politics, including politics related to abortion, Pavone challenges them to fight vociferously and passionately for the lives of the unborn. For the author, Christians concerned about ending abortion have the power to reform how government works, and this will require a harmonious banding together of churches and Christians committed to exercising their moral authority and who refuse to have their voices silenced.

Although pro-choice readers will not like this book, pro-life readers will be moved to act in ways that are more coordinated and intentional. In the extant political and cultural climate, too many pro-life Christians have lost faith in seeing a day when abortion no longer exists in America. Pavone makes a convincing argument that a ban on abortion is very much possible. He posits that abortion will end when pro-life Christians and churches unite to demand a reversal of Roe v. Wade. As the book argues successfully, it is essential to elect politicians who sincerely commit to appointing and confirming pro-life judges to sit on courts at every level. I encourage pro-life Christians to read this book and employ it as a tool to save the lives of the unborn.

Booklook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Don’t Exploit the Orlando Pulse Nightclub Tragedy

Pulse Nightclub Victims

(Photo Credit: New York Daily News)

The proper response from the Church is to show the Orlando Pulse Nightclub victims, their families, friends and associates love as they confront tragedy. Yes, it’s always the right time to offer salvation but never the right time to spew condemnation, shame, guilt, and hate (all forms of venom). When one condemns another, he or she condemns himself or herself: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:1). This isn’t the time for you to advance your anti-LGBTQ agendas; it’s the time for you to demonstrate to members of the LGBTQ community and those affected by the Orlando mass shooting how much God loves them.

We will never be effective in winning souls for Christ by coming from a place of hate, emerging from a toxic spirit of self-righteousness. As a minister of the Gospel of Grace, I have a righteous indignation toward those members of the clergy and professing Christians whom pervert the Gospel with their prejudices and hateful and violent rhetoric, making the propagating of the Gospel troubling and ineffective for many.

I have heard a preacher attempt to camouflage his attack on the LGBTQ people involved in the Orlando massacre. He posited that they were responsible for their own deaths because of how they were living and what they were doing. Hmm…was he in this nightclub too? How does he know what they were doing? Was he in the bedroom with these folks also? Hmm… To be fair (insert sarcasm), he did add, “We are to show them love.” Sorry, sir, those folks didn’t walk into that gay nightclub to be killed. How ignorant of you! For the record, on the night of the heinous mass shooting, heterosexual people were in attendance also.

Did those Christians at the Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina go to Bible Study to be murdered by Dylann Roof? Exactly. No. Victims in both tragedies went to enjoy life, the pursuit of happiness.

Pastor Bobby Wright of The Back to the Bible Holiness Church (sorry, the name of this church makes me chuckle for several reasons—but, I digress) in Buford, Georgia posted a sign outside of his church, stating, “God created man and woman. Satan made gays & transgender.” First, this epitomizes postmodern cooning. Umm…I thought Scripture teaches that God created everyone and everything (Genesis Chapter 1; Colossians 1:16-20). The blind leading the blind. Smh. Although people have already spray-painted the sign, it wouldn’t surprise me to see folks burn down the sign and the church. I, of course, don’t support such criminal acts. We must, however, understand how mean-spirited expressions can incite undesirable responses.

Regardless of a person’s race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation, Jesus has called us to love him or her: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). Do what pleases God: love people! Get your theology right; get your call right; get your witness right; get your message right. Love everyone. True love, God’s love, does no harm.

Again, don’t let your personal agendas cause you to be a useless witness for and follower of Christ. Love is what brings people to Jesus—not hate, condemnation, self-righteousness, shame, guilt, and sin-imputing: “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Let love and peace abound all over the world!

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Show People Themselves

Couple Arguing

(Photo Credit: Urbanette)

One of the most effective ways to show people how they behave is to respond to them the same way they respond to you. This, of course, goes against what is traditionally taught in most faiths. From time to time, however, you need to expose people for who they are by demonstrating to them how they act. Jesus often employed parables (elementary teachings) to make profound and enduring statements. You might contemplate approaching people in the aforementioned way as a means of adopting a similar pedagogical practice used by Jesus.

By temporarily choosing the ways of others, you can cause them to abandon their unfavorable conduct, considering they will not like when these ways are used against them. This strategy presents a meaningful opportunity for you to teach them valuable lessons and change their lives potentially forever.

At some point, you simply have to let folks know their behavior is unacceptable, and you must engage in efforts to discontinue their troubling conduct. You possess the power to ameliorate those around you.  Although they may not know yet, you’re the change they need to see in their lives.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Donald Trump’s Dangerous Proposed Ban on Muslims Entering America

Donald Trump

(Photo Credit: CNBC)

Donald Trump has proposed a ban on all Muslims entering America, and this couldn’t be a more dangerous threat to religious liberty in the land of the free and home of the brave. From its inception, America has been a nation of immigrants. All people living in this country are immigrants except Native Americans. Trump’s proposal would impose a religious litmus test on those seeking to become citizens and on those desiring to travel to our country. How can Republicans, passionate champions of religious freedom, continue to approve a man undermining this important freedom like no one ever in American history? Although Trump has provided the 2016 presidential campaign with entertainment, it’s time to end his reality television version of a presidential campaign.

We face serious threats from terrorists foreign and domestic. This isn’t the time for a comedy show; it’s time for authentic leadership. While Mr. Trump doesn’t have the support of a majority of Republicans, he’s receiving the highest percentage of support in this crowded field. Even in a crowded field, Trump’s reckless policies and positions should prevent him from being the Republican frontrunner. Will the Republican Party be comfortable with being labeled “the anti-religious liberty Party”? Well, that’s exactly the message it will send by keeping Trump as its frontrunner and making him the Republican presidential nominee.

In response to Mr. Trump’s radical Muslim policy, former Vice President Dick Cheney stated the following: “Well I think this whole notion of that somehow we need to say no more Muslims and just ban a whole religion goes against everything we stand for and believe in. I mean religious freedom’s been a very important part of our, our history.” I couldn’t agree more with Vice President Cheney. Cheney’s remarks underscore my argument about Trump’s assault on religious liberty, and they emphasize how Trump’s Muslim policy threaten the fundamental values and principles responsible for America being an exceptional nation.

How can you believe in the idea of American exceptionalism and bar all Muslims from entering America?

Our efforts to aggressively combat terrorism shouldn’t ever come at the cost of erasing core American liberties, values and principles. I love America and believe we should employ all responsible measures to protect the homeland. Imposing a ban on all Muslims wishing to enter America will only embolden extant terrorists and buttress the campaign to recruit new terrorists. Trump’s policy gives radical Islamic terrorists the false evidence of America’s hatred of Islam they need to proliferate their malevolent propaganda through various mediums.

What a sophomoric and discriminatory homeland and national security strategy: ban all Muslims from America to keep the nation safe. Seriously? True evidence that Trump is a joke of a presidential candidate. The joke, unfortunately, is being maliciously played on our country.

Republican voters have the power to end this cruel joke today.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

10 Reasons Your Church Could Be in Decline

Black Preacher Preaching

                                           (Photo Credit: America Preachers)

Mountains of debt, significantly plummeting church attendance and membership, and uninspired members: fundamental signs your church is in decline or failing. Do the members of your church have nostalgia for “the good old days” instead of enjoying the present and looking forward to the future? Unfortunately, too many church leaders are unwilling to engage honestly with serious issues and questions about their ministries. If in the past a church had great attendance, a constantly burgeoning membership, and limited to no indebtedness, and those phenomena are no longer in place, the leaders of the church must be candid in their approach to resolving these problems. Pretending like problems don’t exist in your church will further exacerbate them. The purpose of this piece is to offer 10 reasons your church could be in decline or failing.

  1. Envy present at all levels. When church leaders are envious and they refuse to address envy among their members, this leads to damaging disunity in their churches. Your church will never grow and experience success when its leaders and membership are dominated by a spirit of envy. Although you might claim that the power of the Holy Spirit is flowing powerfully in your church, you’re being dishonest when envy is highly prevalent in your church. The pastor of your church has to check his or her own envy and promote a spirit of unity among the membership. When people are more talented and anointed to do sundry tasks than you, provide loving support for them and don’t undermine them.
  1. The pastor is a manager instead of a leader. If your pastor has to have his or her fingerprints on everything, he or she is simply a tyrant. In various religious communities, we’re too quick to call someone a leader simply because he or she is occupying a position. A pastor who micromanages every aspect of the church’s affairs is a manager—not a leader. An effective pastor delegates authority and responsibility to other leaders and members of his or her church, and he or she trusts them to accomplish what needs executing; he or she does not supervise every detail of their work. People should feel comfortable operating in their gift without fear of receiving a negative critique or unnecessary requests from him or her to modify their work.
  1. Too many messy people. Messy pastors, church leaders, and members are the ultimate destruction of churches. Pastors and church leaders should be working to resolve messiness in the church and not participate in the messiness themselves. What are some of the ways in which a pastor can be messy, you ask? One way is for him or her to sit at home with members of his or her family and plot the undermining of certain individuals they don’t support. Another way a pastor can be messy is to pick and choose “favorites” in the church and believe anything those favorites run and tell him or her. Finally, one of the most damaging ways in which a pastor can be messy is to use his or her sermons as vehicles to attack those members he or she has problems with and to galvanize support from other leaders and members to join him or her in opposing those members. Too many churches have people who are committed to gossiping about members of their own churches, and this results in breakdowns in communication and relationships, envy, disengagement, and a dearth of productivity.
  1. The pastor selects “favorites.” Everyone in your church should be valued and feel valued. There shouldn’t be a class system within a church where “the favorites” rule as elites and everyone else is powerless and voiceless. What would Jesus do? Treat everyone the same.
  1. Too much emphasis on giving money. While it takes money to have a successful church and do effective ministry, members shouldn’t be bombarded with unremitting discourse about giving money. If your church really has something great to offer, then people will give liberally without relentless requests for and talks about money. Too many pastors are so focused on money that they have turned Jesus into a footnote and afterthought in their churches. Jesus should always be put in first place. When you put Jesus in first place, He will bless your church and abundantly supply you with money.
  1. A lack of focus on serious evangelism. Incessant focusing on money in many churches has led to soul-winning not being a top priority. Many church leaders will say that soul-winning is their top priority—only to turn immediately to soliciting money again. If you want your church to grow, you have to make a real commitment to winning souls for Christ. The money your church needs is found outside of the church: the lost souls who need to come to Christ are the additional sources of money. You cannot continue to ask for money from the same people already in your church; recruit new members through evangelism. Want a successful church? Have a church without borders—don’t remain stuck in the four walls of your building.
  1. The absence of the Gospel of Grace. One of the most frustrating phenomena about most churches is their pastors are still teaching, preaching, and witnessing as if the Mosaic and Levitical Laws are still in effect. Pastors, Jesus didn’t die on the Cross to grant you the right to lord your authority over people. Jesus died on the Cross to empower people with freedom and power through Him. Unfortunately, too many pastors are afraid to teach and preach about grace in a comprehensive way because they know this will mean that they will have to surrender their micro-managing control over their members. The New Covenant is not about subjecting one’s self to a bunch of rules and regulations; it’s about receiving God’s agape love and being empowered through the grace of Christ. When your pastor refuses to engage deeply with grace, he or she is simply a control-freak! The absence of the Gospel of Grace results in church members believing in their own performances instead of believing in what Jesus has already done at the Cross. Right believing produces right living—not vice versa.
  1. Not enough focus on teaching and studying the Bible. It seems that all many preachers want to do is scream, holler, and speak in tongues. What about imparting the Word of God, though? It’s a close and consistent study of the Word of God that brings deliverance, prosperity, healing, joy, peace, happiness, love, and etc. to people—not your screaming, hollering, speaking in tongues, requests for money, rules, regulations, and “good advice.” Unfortunately, too many pastors aren’t equipped to teach the bible properly. Many lack the necessary intellectual aptitude to teach the bible so they just attack those who are educated and say that “the Holy Ghost will reveal all things” as cheap cop out for their inability to rightly divide the Word of Truth. A pastor and his or her congregation can only progress successfully through the regenerating washing of the Word of God. Instead of having all of these revivals and “tarry services,” start having more Word of God revivals where a close study of the bible occurs. You can always identify a pastor does not really know much about the bible when he or she turns Bible Study into regular Sunday service—where testimony, singing, and non-scriptural focused discourse are placed at the forefront over teaching and studying the Word of God.
  1. A lack of meaningful innovation. Although all change is not good change, numerous churches across the nation are declining or failing because they refuse to discontinue their useless traditions. This does not mean that they need to fuse secular phenomena into their church services and practices, but your churches shouldn’t suffer from routinization. Church leaders should listen closely to members about new ideas, and they should observe successful practices and programs of other churches and implement them.
  1. Jesus isn’t being made the top priority. Too many churches aren’t being governed by the dominant principle of Jesus being in first place in all matters. When this governing principle is absent, churches continue to decline and inevitably fail. In every decision that one makes in your church, there should always be a focus on how the decision reflects Jesus being put in first place.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Carole Arceneaux’s James: Faith Becomes Real: A Short Review

The Book of James Commentary

(Courtesy of BookLook Bloggers)

In James: Faith Becomes Real, Carole Arceneaux offers readers a commentary on the Book of James.  The book provides readers with a verse-by-verse and chapter-by-chapter analysis of the entire Book of James.  While the dominant purpose of the work is to be a commentary, it strives to be a devotional as well.

If one has little background or understanding of the Book of James, then Arceneaux’s work will be helpful to him or her.  Most effective commentaries are academic in nature.  When a person reads this book, he or she will immediately notice that it lacks the authoritative voice typical of academic discourse.  In all other commentaries I have read, I learned something new or had my prior knowledge expanded.  Unfortunately, this book did not benefit me in any way.

Although the effort to add a devotional dimension to a commentary is an interesting and rewarding idea, the devotional aspect of this work seemed more about filling the pages to meet a page number quota.  The book simply lacks the depth necessary to be considered a serious commentary.  Arceneaux’s work certainly could have benefitted from better revision and editing.  Many of the sentences lack the clarity they needed to achieve.

In short, I would not recommend reading this book.  Some elements of James: Faith Becomes Real have potential.  The book, however, needed more work before it was published.

In exchange for my honest critique of James: Faith Becomes Real, BookLook Bloggers supplied me with a complimentary copy of it.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison