Spirituality

Victorious Living through Heaven’s Great Hope by Victor Morgan: A Brief Book Review

Heaven's Great Hope

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

In Victorious Living through Heaven’s Great Hope: A Divine Revelation of Hope Granted for Overcoming in Challenging Times, Victor Morgan offers readers a scriptural treatment of hope. For the author, closely engaging the biblical notion of hope is necessary during these precarious times. According to Morgan, those who will experience success during these times will embrace and apply hope in every area of their lives. Dr. Morgan declares that hope is God’s gift to humans, allowing them to find wholeness even in seemingly impossible conditions. While this book does not intend to provide the reader with an exhaustive understanding of biblical hope, the reader comes away from a reading of this work with some valuable knowledge about hope.

The writing could have been much better. Lower tiered seminaries or theological schools like Interdenominational Theological Center and Zoe University aren’t known for the most rigorous research and writing standards/expectations, however. Also, at times, the writer makes statements that need to benefit from scriptural support. When Dr. Morgan cites verses, he gives a fairly decent explanation of them and how they relate to the “divine revelation of hope” he intends to divulge.

The greatest strength of the book lies in the inspiration it furnishes about the hope we have in Jesus. This book will motivate you to do a careful and comprehensive study of biblical hope.

Although Dr. Morgan’s work has its problems, it’s a worthwhile read. The author demonstrates a strong understanding of biblical hope and passes it along to the reader. In media and politics we hear and read much about “hope,” often a deeply confused idea of hope; this scholar, however, imparts an informed, scriptural-based rendering of hope.

I recommend this book.

Book Crash supplied a copy of Dr. Morgan’s book to help facilitate this honest review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Should Church be a Restaurant?

Black People Eating at Kitchen Table

(Photo Credit: The Main Board)

While occasionally incorporating food into church events or activities is fine, one should never view church as a restaurant, as the place to eat. Eat before you come to church. Many of the folks who love to eat at church are the very ones who don’t need to be thinking about food at church. When a church becomes so focused on, so consumed by food, it’s a symptom of a larger, more disconcerting problem: a church that has become too jejune, too casual, too insipid—devoid of purpose.

Yeah, we all know people primarily attend church on Easter to eat, especially black folks in the South. An all-year Easter mindset pertaining to food, however, should never develop. Church leaders who posit or assume that maintaining and increasing church attendance necessitates food need to benefit from retooling, from a reappraisal of their leadership approaches and strategies. Lacking confidence in delivering compelling teaching and preaching, some pastors substitute food for engaging, authentic, transformative ministry, ministry centered on the Word of God—not decentered from the Word of God.

Ineptly handled, unfortunately, food can produce significant problems. Even though one may think it’s a nice gesture for a meeting or service, too many parishioners become distracted by food, losing their proverbial heads about it. You really have a chance to witness just how “saved” someone is when it comes to food at church. For church leaders who insist on food being served, they need to grow in their practical awareness of how their congregants respond to it. It may be the appropriate time to have an “altar call” when those foul attitudes and discordant spirits emerge while food is being served.

Pastors and church leaders, stop organizing meetings and services just to eat. Ultimately, you guys and gals are the problem.

Church hospitality leaders and staff must play a more instrumental role in ameliorating this problem. Keenly aware of the real issues with serving food, hospitality leaders and staff need to inform their pastors about how challenging it is to prepare and serve food regularly. It can even be a challenge to keep non-hospitality staff out of the kitchen. Why does non-hospitality members need to be in the kitchen? Because they feel entitled, because you’ve allowed them to do what they want for so long, because you’re not being adamant about rules governing the kitchen and food service. Do you actually have rules? How are they promulgated? Are the rules disseminated in such a clear and professional way that all members and visitors are aware of them? Be willing to be firm, even aggressive, with your pastor about your requests—and demands.

Food and church can coexist, of course; they do at successful churches. Just make sure you know what it takes to incorporate food effectively into meetings and services. The food needs to be de-emphasized and the purpose(s) of meetings and services should be elevated. That, of course, requires you to have a purpose and know it.

A misreading of this piece is to perceive it as an attack on food being served in a church. Quite the opposite is true: when you serve food, do it with professionalism, in a spirit of excellence, never distracting from the true purpose(s) of meetings and services.

Again, the best practice is to eat before you come to church.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Did Trump Teach You that God is the Supreme Ruler?

Trump Black Church

(Photo Credit: The Washington Post)

With the arrival of President Donald J. Trump, a “newfound” understanding of God as the supreme ruler of all has emerged. What’s most troubling about this, however, is the “novel” recognition is more about expressions of anger, protest, and resistance than it is about the truth of our sovereign God. Being “woke” should begin with the reality that God has been the sole ruler of all long before Trump—even long before George Washington. If you want to oppose, criticize President Trump, that’s more than fine. Please, however, don’t act like God just became the King of all of humanity and phenomena. The Lord’s supremacy should always guide all of our thoughts and actions, regardless of political party or ideological persuasion.

Psalm 82: God the Supreme Ruler

Psalm 82 states, “God presides in the heavenly council; in the assembly of the gods he gives his decision: ‘You must stop judging unjustly; you must no longer be partial to the wicked! Defend the rights of the poor and the orphans; be fair to the needy and the helpless. Rescue them from the power of evil people. ‘How ignorant you are! How stupid! You are completely corrupt, and justice has disappeared from the world. ‘You are gods,’ I said; ‘all of you are children of the Most High.’ But you will die like mortals; your life will end like that of any prince.’ Come, O God, and rule the world; all the nations are yours.”

Justice and Political Action and Discourse in the Era of Trump

Presidents come and go, politicians come and go, kings and queens come and go, but God is eternal. His kingship is eternal and it’s not based on human votes or anything else of the material world: He serves by the divine authority of “the heavenly council; in the assembly of the gods.”

Yes, as Psalm 82 makes clear, we’re to resist injustice and wickedness and champion the rights of the powerless, the voiceless (“the poor and the orphans…the needy and the helpless”). Without a true understanding and commitment to the already eternal supremacy of God, the poor, the vulnerable, the oppressed, the marginalized will never find liberty from “the power of evil people.” If you, therefore, consider President Trump among “the power of evil people,” then a real sincerity toward God must govern your discourse, your approach, your resistance.

In short, God didn’t just show up on the scene when you surrendered your equanimity to the truth that President Donald J. Trump is your legitimate president of the United States—not simply to be called “45,”—but He’s always been the supreme ruler of all, for “all nations are yours,” even before any human was created.

Ground your protesting and resistance in the truth of God’s eternal supremacy, a supremacy that has always existed.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Church Attendance Matters—Don’t Get It Twisted

Black Women in Church

(Photo Credit: Religion and Politics)

In “20 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Leaving The Church,” Makiah Green offers 20 “lessons” she has learned about church attendance since leaving her church. Green writes, “I never imagined that I could exist outside the Church I once held so dear. But due to the routine state-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted on my people, and the inadequate response from the church (among other things), I have decided to remove myself entirely from a system that claims to value my soul, but fails to show up for my Black body.” While I have (and continue to) passionately critiqued (see 5 Reasons Why Many Black Churches Are Failing) many churches, especially many black churches, for their various failings, bible-based Christians are required to be spiritually and theologically sound in their praxis—not just with their social and political practices and ideologies.

While I agree with some of Green’s “lessons,” much of what she asserts lacks substantive grounding in biblical truths and doctrines. For the sake of time and space, I will address two statements unsubstantiated by proper biblical context and exegesis.

A Hasty, Sweeping Generalization: “These pastors ain’t loyal.” Really?

Before I address the dearth of accurate biblical context and exegesis in the selected statements, it’s vital to highlight one of the glaring fallacies, a hasty, sweeping generalization, in her article: “These pastors ain’t loyal.” Although proffering such a position allows for one to add some hip flavor to the piece, evoking Chris Brown’s “Loyal,” which is problematic for several reasons in itself, painting all pastors with a careless broad brush is toxic, faulty argumentation and unbecoming of a serious “writer” and “revolutionary,” as Makiah Green identifies herself.

Another Hasty, Sweeping Generalization: “White evangelicals (and the Black evangelicals spouting the same white, patriarchal values) are modern manifestations of neocolonialism.” Really?

When she posits that “white evangelicals (and the Black evangelicals spouting the same white, patriarchal values) are modern manifestations of neocolonialism,” the author, again, makes a hasty, sweeping generalization, abandoning the intellectual necessity of pinpointing nuances and variances in this population of believers.

Another Hasty Generalization: “I don’t need a church home in order to facilitate a relationship with God.” Really?

Green, as well as too many professing believers, unfortunately, claim the following: “I don’t need a church home in order to facilitate a relationship with God.” Hebrews 10:25 reads, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” The context of this verse is meeting in a church or synagogue—not in one’s home, not streaming live, not gathering with a group of saved friends in one’s home. In the aforementioned verse, God issues a command to attend church regularly. He wants us dependent on one another, and in his infinite wisdom, He demonstrates how essential church or synagogue is in facilitating such dependency and “exhortations.” God intends, through our interactions with fellow believers at church, to supply the encouragement and persuasion on various issues each believer needs.

Church-based Teaching and Christ-centered Fellowship

Also, Acts 2:42, penned with attending church regularly as a context, says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” From this verse, one finds that God desires for an immense amount of one’s learning about the Word of God to come from teaching done inside of a church or synagogue, and that He mandates us to partake in the “fellowship” with one another and Him in which we were called when we first received salvation. Christ has created us as one body, for which there is no life and fellowship with Him outside of this one body: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (I Corinthians 12:12).

The Church in the Believer-Messiah Relationship & the Significance of the Preacher

The Apostle Paul delivers this line of rhetorical inquiry: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). Here, Paul responds to the importance of receiving from God in church and through His messenger, “a preacher.” Moreover, Romans 10:17 informs us that “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Again, in the context of church activity, “faith,” necessary for the Christian life, “cometh” by “hearing” the preached Word of God. The foundation one needs in the Word of God, therefore, emerges in the church setting—not in one’s home, not simply in one’s private bible study.

“As a Black woman, I have the power and autonomy to make my own decisions.” More biblical precision is needed, though.

Although Ms. Green is accurate in part about “As a Black woman, I have the power and autonomy to make my own decisions,” she overlooks the more vital death of self that takes place as part of the new birth in Christ. Yes, God has given us free will; however, our will is to be dominated by His will as we yield our mind, mouth, and ways to Him (Philippians 2:5; Philippians 2:13). When she contends that “I have decided to remove myself entirely from a system that claims to value my soul, but fails to show up for my Black body,” this constitutes a “falling away from grace,” a grace for which she claims to be enthused about receiving (Galatians 5:4). For Galatians 2:14 proclaims, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” A believer must remain “established in God’s righteousness” and not a righteousness based on his or her own self-effort, self-performance (Isaiah 54:14).

Conclusion

In short, in as much as I strongly agree with Makiah Green’s frustrations with how many churches aren’t mobilizing to fight “the routine state-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted on my people [black people],” she has capitulated to a flawed spirituality and troubling theology. Wouldn’t it be better for a “revolutionary” to seek the change in her local church from within—instead of simply avoiding and disengaging with it? How about joining a church where black liberation theology is employed?

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible: A Short Review

The TouchPoint Bob Santos

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

In The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible, Bob Santos offers an understanding of how a close engagement with the bible allows the Believer to experience authentic encounters with God. The author explains that a serious commitment to the Word of God will cure hardened hearts. Also, Santos gives the reader a fundamental overview of the bible. This work strives to make the bible clearer for all readers. In fact, the author devotes an entire chapter, “Understanding the Bible,” to aiding Believers in gaining deeper revelations about God’s Word.

Too many pastors and preachers lack a real knowledge of the Word of God. Instead of making strong investments in receiving proper knowledge about it, they harmfully substitute biblical truths with their own, subjective advice. Living in this evil and dangerous world, one cannot afford to miss constant encounters with God available through reading, studying, and mediating on the Word of God.

Without question, I highly recommend this book. The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible promises to buttress one’s relationship with God. Contrary to many apostolic and pentecostal churches’ teachings, a God-encounter emerges from reading, studying, and mediating on the Word of God and not from simply shouting, dancing, and speaking in tongues.

In exchange for a fair assessment, Book Crash supplied me with a copy of this book to pen this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God: A Brief Review

Union With Christ

(Photo Credit: PR Log)

In Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God, Rankin Wilbourne explains that believers have true union with Jesus Christ, and this union provides the believer with significant power to face anything Satan presents him or her with in this present world. Wilbourne desires for Christians to appreciate, understand, and enjoy their union with Christ. Unbelievers, however, are encouraged to experience the wholeness that comes from such satisfying fellowship with Jesus. For the author, receiving the Gospel of grace into one’s heart produces a oneness with the Lord, our Savior, our Messiah, Jesus Christ. The text explains that people will struggle with their identity and experiences when they fail to comprehend their union with Jesus that emerges when salvation is received.

American churches are suffering from too much religion and not even Jesus. Wilbourne’s book is an important intervention for the spiritual deficit and crisis of a largely absent Jesus in many churches. While numerous churches claim to offer and experience Jesus, too often they are more interested in offering rules, regulations, condemnation, guilt, shame, all stemming from teaching and preaching centered on the Mosaic Law, especially in pentecostal and apostolic churches. When one reads this book, he or she will learn to concentrate more on a relationship with Christ and stray from religion.

If you are exhausted with religion and want to experience a deeper relationship with Jesus, then I highly recommend that you purchase this book. Also, I recommend that this book be used in your church’s Bible Study sessions. This book is an excellent read.

In exchange for my honest review, a copy of this book was given to me by Litfuse.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Jesus is the Answer to Poverty

Poverty

(Photo Credit: New York Daily News)

Jesus is the answer to poverty: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9). What Jesus accomplished at the Cross—at Calvary—provided every believer with access to experience victory over poverty in every area of his or her life—not just in the area of finance. Each day, believe that you have already received freedom from poverty in every area of your life. Mark 11:24 states, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” This verse, therefore, informs you that to possess this liberation from the bondage of poverty one has to receive it by faith. Begin each day with this confession of faith: “Jesus, I receive the victory from poverty in every area of my life that your shed blood on the Cross has made available to me. Thank you, Lord, for giving me this precious free gift.”

According to II Corinthians 8:9, Jesus loves you so much that He took upon His own body the viciousness, ugliness, heaviness, and bondage of poverty for you. The most brutal beating in human history that Christ suffered empowers you to triumph over poverty. Without the Finished Work of the Cross, you would have had to bear the tremendous burden of poverty. Christ has such a great love for you that He does not want you to be dominated by poverty, for He desires for you to enjoy everyday life (John 10:10).

True believers have an intimate knowledge and understanding about how the grace of Jesus Christ has already supplied them with everything they need for this life: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (II Peter 1:3). How does one receive this blessing of Christ? II Peter 1:4 divulges the precise answer to this query: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” One must, therefore, “partake” of this blessing that has already been made available to him or her. How does one “partake” of this blessing? Each day, declare and believe you have everything II Peter 1:3-4 reveal that you have.

When you believe something, you will open your mouth and confirm it—and keep confirming it.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison