God

SoulTrain.com Feature on Kierra “Kiki” Sheard

Kierra Sheard

Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, daughter of renowned gospel music artist Karen Clark-Sheard, has become an accomplished gospel music artist at only 25 years old.  It was at six years old that a public audience first had a chance to witness Kierra Sheard’s amazing vocals at Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ, pastored by her father Bishop J. Drew Sheard.  Her first appearance on a professional album occurred when she was 10 years old.  She was a featured vocalist on her mother’s debut solo album, Finally Karen (1997), on the song “The Will of God,” written by Bishop Richard “Mr. Clean” White. The song won a 1998 Stellar Award for Best Children’s Performance.  Kiki earned an undergraduate degree in English with a minor in Psychology from Wayne State University.

Read the rest of my article published at SoulTrain.com.

“Like” the article on SoulTrain.com and leave a comment on it at SoulTrain.com.

Advertisements

Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His by Max Lucado

Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado

Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His ( by Max Lucado, the popular author of numerous Christian books, presents the dominant thesis that God loves you the way you are but He does not intend to leave you the way you are.  Lucado contends that God wants you to develop a heart like Jesus and He wants to make you just like Jesus.  The author asserts that the central focus of a true Christian’s life is patterning his or her thoughts, words, and actions after Jesus.

I found Lucado’s book to provide a substantive understanding of how God will assist you in becoming what He wants you to be.  At the end of the book, there is a “Study Guide” for each chapter that enables the reader to engage in critical thought about each chapter.  By including this “Study Guide,” the writer evinces his serious desire for the reader to grasp the importance of each chapter’s primary messages.  I agree with Lucado’s overriding thesis that God loves you just the way you are but He does not intend for you to remain the way you are.

Too often religious leaders don’t let people know they have greatness already within them.  When Jesus comes into their lives, He activates the greatness that lies within them.  Lucado’s book is vital reminder to readers that God can use them for His glory as He transforms them into the people He needs them to be.  I found his argument that God longs for total control of humans’ lives to be at the core of what it means to be a Christian and a significant message for postmodern Christians to contemplate and embrace.

I highly recommend you purchase this book today!  The book can be purchased here: http://www.thomasnelson.com/just-like-jesus-5.html and you can read other reviews of this book here: http://www.booksneeze.com/reviews/bybook/9780849947438.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson to compose this review.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

God is More than Enough by Tony Evans: A Review

God is More Than Enough

In God is More than Enough (2004), Tony Evans, president of The Urban Alternative and Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, offers readers a powerful explication of Psalm 23.  The book is published by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers.  Although the book is only 90 pages, it unpacks Psalm 23 in such a sophisticated manner while still being able to be easily understood by the average reader.  Many readers will be fascinated at how much meaning is packed into the six verses that compose Psalm 23, and one is sure to gain a new appreciation for it or reaffirm its significance to the Christian’s spiritual walk with Jesus.  In the troubling times in which we live, this book extends to the reader comfort and hope to face these disquieting times.

In the Introduction, Tony Evans does not waste time in evincing how he conceptualizes Psalm 23: he sees it as an “attack.”  He writes, “Beautiful as it is, this psalm is an attack.  It’s an attack on our debilitating lack of trust in God and the great trauma of insecurity that’s brought on by such doubts and disbelief.  Most Christians do not actually believe that God is more than enough” (8).  By reading Psalm 23 through the lens of an “attack,” Evans makes a valuable contribution to the discourse about Psalm 23.  Psalm 23 has not been traditionally viewed as an “attack.”  The author contends that the psalm had to be penned to respond to our proclivity to look for our needs and wants from everybody and everything except Christ.  The book aims to have Christians to eradicate their desire for and reliance on self-sufficiency.  This longing and dependency on self-sufficiency removes the believer away from his or her responsibility to trust God for everything.  Evans wants to remind the reader God is the source of everything we need and want—everything we have, need and desire comes from Him, and we should not look to ourselves for these things but only to God.

If I were writing the book, I would not have selected the word “attack” and would not have interpreted Psalm 23 as an “attack.”  Do not allow this to prevent you from reading and purchasing the book, however.  This particular lens enables you to see Psalm 23 in a new light and to understand the totality of what Christ can for do for you—no matter what problems you face.  The author gives excellent personal experiences, examples, and relevant scriptures to buttress the reader’s understanding of each verse of the psalm.

I highly recommend that you purchase this book.  Your comprehension and interpretation of Psalm 23 will be ameliorated after reading this book.  It can be purchased here: God is More Than Enough.  WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers provided this book to me for free to compose this review.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Read and Follow Everyday Street Bible

My best friend, Santresa L. Glass, and I have created a new project, Everyday Street Bible, which is a blog we use to offer practical and real-world commentary about Christianity, mundane life realities, controversial social, political, and cultural issues, challenges, and problems, and so much more.  The site is located at http://everydaystreetbible.blogspot.com.  I encourage you to become a follower of the site.  We let you know how two real Christians live a real life in this real world.  We truly keep it real.

On the site, we have and will continue to address most of the things that your pastors won’t dare address, but things you need to have some guidance about, considering you don’t spend every day in church.  Santresa and I understand that every day is not Sunday.  We know that you’re going to confront many challenges and problems that are not discussed in your church.  Our site, Everyday Street Bible, is committed to filling the gaps on many issues that preachers across the nation don’t want to address.

Santresa recently composed Sensitive Mean People and I penned Black Megachurch Preachers and Teenage Pregnancy for our site.  Be sure to check those two pieces out and leave a comment on both pieces to let us know what you think.  Show your support by reading and leaving a comment.

Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/thestreetbible and “Like” Everyday Street Bible on Facebook.  Santresa and I will greatly appreciate your support.

Thank you in advance,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

You Don’t Have to Live Like a Nun or Monk to be a True Christian

Far too many people, especially young people, are being turned off by Christianity because too many preachers are making it seem like they have to live like a nun or monk to be a true Christian.  Before you listen to what a preacher has to say about how to live a true Christian life, begin to read your bible for yourself.  There are a number of translations of the bible available for you—pick the translation or translations that work for you.  Don’t simply read your bible but study it.  Purchase biblical study aids that will enrich your study and give you deeper understandings of God’s word.  Read and study your bible for yourself!

Now, I’m not suggesting at all that you should not go to church and listen to the teaching and preaching of a man of God.  You should go to church and listen to the teaching and preaching of a man of God to accompany your reading and studying of the bible.  Just don’t let the teaching and preaching the man of God does be your only engagement with the bible.  In fact, God commands each person to study His word to “show thyself approved.”

Many young people feel like being a true Christian is simply too difficult because preachers make it seem almost like they cannot do anything, especially anything that’s fun.  I want to let young people know that you can have fun and still be a true Christian.  Of course, there are clear things that the bible point out that you cannot do, but there is so much more that you can do while you enjoy a personal relationship with God.

Although many preachers believe that it’s a sin to listen to non-Gospel music, such as rap and pop music, I want you to challenge them to give you some substantive teaching about how this is a sin.  Don’t simply let them rap one, two, or three scriptures to you—challenge them to give you some true and deep biblical teaching about this subject.  What you will discover is they will not be able to offer you much bible-based teaching about this subject.  However, I want you to be on high alert for them to attempt to present their personal opinions and preferences as if they are grounded in the scriptures and biblical principles.  You don’t want to be living your life based on someone’s opinions—live your life based on what God’s word truly says.  Don’t let preachers shame you out of listening to non-Gospel music by telling you that non-Gospel music is “the Devil’s music.”  “The Devil’s music”?  Really?  Some Gospel songs can be far more depressing and damaging than many non-Gospel songs.

When preachers tell you that you cannot go to the movies, I want you to challenge them on this subject in the same way I have discussed about challenging them on their opposition to you listening to non-Gospel music.  You can be a true Christian and go to the movies.

Now, if you do want to be a nun or monk, I applaud you for wanting to live a life of this type.  However, for those who don’t want to be a nun or monk, I want you to know that you can live a victorious and saved life in this present world and have tons of fun!  You don’t have to be a “bible thumper” to go to Heaven and you don’t have to talk about God every second in order to make it into Heaven.

Don’t miss out on the full life that you can be living simply because you failed to read and study your bible and only listened to what your pastor had to say about the bible.  At the end of the day, your pastors are men of God but they are still human beings, and, as we all know, all human beings are not perfect and do make mistakes.  Being a Christian means that you are a personal follower of Christ.  Your pastor cannot live your walk with God for you—you have to live your walk with Christ for yourself.

In no way should this article be perceived as an attack on any preacher, but it’s more of a call for people to realize that they need to experience God for themselves, and one of the most intimate and meaningful ways to experience God for yourself is to read and study His word for yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Easter’s Rebirth and Death Messages

Easter is a holiday widely celebrated not only in America but across the globe. It’s a holiday that honors the resurrection of Jesus. God sacrificed his son’s life to atone for the sins of the world.  Jesus died so that we can live again. I do not want to offer you a traditional Easter speech or sermon, however.

There are meaningful messages in the narrative about Jesus being reborn after dying that can be useful for anyone, even for atheists. If we would simply look at Easter’s messages of rebirth and death, we would all be able to make significant strides toward immense self-improvement. Although human beings are not able to physically die and return to life again here on Earth, we need to experience many metaphorical deaths and rebirths. There are many areas in your life where you have things that you need to bury and experience Christ-like rebirth of those things in your life. By Christ-like rebirth, I mean doing away with things that are not productive in your life and replacing those things with things that are going to promote eternal growth in your life.

Thinking about rebirth and death can be quite unsettling for many people. Many people don’t want to even consider thinking about death. Although thinking about your literal death can be a vexing psychic exercise, many will find metaphorical deaths to be just as difficult to contemplate as literal deaths.

When you have to think about giving up some of the habits that you cannot break that are destroying you, this can be very unnerving. You need to realize when you have some habits that need to be buried and replaced with some more productive habits. For instance, if you think that you have to smoke marijuana every day, then you need to bury this habit and replace it with a habit that will lead you to a healthier treatment of your body. You cannot expect to keep smoking marijuana all of your life and then anticipate positive health outcomes. Smoking marijuana each day is simply moving you closer to death. Instead of smoking weed each day, bury the marijuana and let your body experience a rebirth by working out nearly every day. Can you even imagine how better you will feel when you eliminate marijuana from your life and replace it with working out?

While you may say that you don’t have any problems with marijuana, what about those problems you have with low expectations and negative thoughts? What about those problems you have with believing in yourself to be able to do great things? What about your willingness to succumb to doubt too easily? What about your problems with becoming so easily frustrated? If you have any of those aforementioned problems, then it’s time for you to bury these negative things. Experience a rebirth in your thinking. Cast out negative thoughts, doubts, and low expectations. Have a willingness to dream about what you want in your life that others simply think is impossible. Bury those relationships with people who don’t believe in your dreams and your potential. When you are around negative people, they won’t do anything for you but bring you down. They will have an unwillingness to believe in your ability to do anything that is not within their limited vision of what they think is possible for you.

It’s time for you to bury silly economic practices that have you flooded with debt. If you know that you cannot afford to go out to the club and buy drinks every weekend, then why would you keep doing this? At some point you have to face the fact that what you are doing is simply stupid! Begin to invest your money in things that are going to yield significant returns. Start saving more of your money. Your finances need to benefit from an economic revival. You’re not going to witness an economic revival if you are spending every dime that you have. It can be quite beneficial for you to sit back and think about how what you spend your money on says about who you are.

For those who pretend that they have salvation but know that they are not living a holy and separated life from this present world, then it’s time for you to bury your sins and make a solemn and renewed commitment to God.  Your spiritual life needs a rebirth if you find that you’re saved today, unsaved tomorrow, saved the next day, and unsaved the day after that. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you can experience the fullness of God and live a truly victorious life through Jesus Christ.

You have many things about yourself that need to be buried. You have to be willing to muster the courage to bury those things in your life. While you can get help with burying some of the things in your life that need burying, many of the things you are going to have to bury on your own. If you are a Christian, God can give you the strength that you need to do some essential burying of things in your life. When Christ comes into your life, He helps you to bury many of the unclean things in your life.

Take the necessary time to get rid of all of the trash in your life and experience a rebirth of a more refined you.

On this Easter Sunday, I want us to think about the need to experience many metaphorical deaths and metaphorical rebirths in our lives. This juxtaposition of rebirth and death can make us better human beings who live much more fulfilling and productive lives. Let’s learn how to die so that we might have a chance to be reborn!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Politics of Silence: Defending the Extremely Outspoken Among Us

Most Christians passionately believe “if you be still God will fight your battle.” Of course, this belief emerges from Exodus 14:14. I’m a Christian and I believe in this scripture too. I don’t, however, think that this scripture means that one cannot offer his or her opinions on everything at any moment. For me, the scripture does not have anything to with being silent, but has everything to do with trusting in God to solve those matters that are beyond one’s ability to solve on his or her own. My life is an open book.

I never hesitate to express my viewpoints on anything—no matter where I’m situated. I’m never fearful about sharing anything with anybody in any place about myself, except for information that may be a personal or family security risk. I’m not going to share my Social Security number and my mother’s Social Security number with you in this piece. I know you were just waiting for me to give out those numbers.

We’re all unique human beings. I’m a person who elects not to be silent on anything. People who have something to say about everything in any place should not be viewed in any more negative light than people who choose to be silent all the time, most of the time, or some of the time. What’s so virtuous about keeping your mouth closed? Of course, people are going to present all types of hypotheticals and real-life cases where speaking out caused people great harm and even death. My dominant response to those hypotheticals and real-life cases is you have to speak up for yourself—even if it costs you everything.

Lovers of truth are not afraid of the consequences of truthful expressions. Using your voice is one of the strongest ways to stand up for yourself and to articulate who you really are.

While it may sound all cute and sophisticated to say that silence can speak volumes, silence does not say anything in reality. Silence is silence. Silence communicates silence. What are you saying when you keep your mouth closed? Nothing!

I know I’m in the minority on this issue, but I have to stay true to who I am. I’m a person who will not hold back anything.

It’s my desire for a space in the American and global imagination to be engendered where extremely outspoken people like me are viewed as no more flawed than those who elect to employ silence at some level. I really would like to know what makes “quiet people” more virtuous than those of us who are extremely outspoken? Those “quiet people’s” silence could be the very reason why they may be getting pressed so small. While you sit there and say nothing (and perhaps even nod your head and smile) you could be taking unnecessary attacks that could be circumvented by simply speaking out—open your closed mouth!

To my fellow Christians, faith without works is dead!

I contend that this politics of silence is a way to rein in those of us who are extremely outspoken. I believe this is a massive attempt to make people like me more docile.

Now, when there are times when you just don’t want to speak, that’s personally fine with me. It’s fine with me because you are not doing it to give honor to the politics of silence—you’re doing it because you simply don’t want to say anything right then. You’re not trying to pretend that your silence is communicating anything other than you just don’t want to say anything.

I just don’t want people trying to think that a general proclivity to exercising silence and/or to being perceived as a “quiet person” is a powerful virtue.

I’m a tremendously successful person and my outspokenness has gained me an overwhelming amount more than it has cost me. In fact, the things that my outspokenness has cost me are not even things that are important.

Again, as I’ve previously stated, I know that the views expressed in this piece will not only be in the minority in America but also across the globe. These thoughts emerge from various people, including my parents, often telling me that I need to learn to keep my mouth closed. During the times that I did keep my mouth closed, I was steamrolled and lost things that I could have had if I would have said what I had to say. Many of my enemies could have already been defeated if I would have spoken instead of exercising silence. Certain people would not have been able to get away with things if I would have spoken instead of being silent. Many people would not have misunderstandings about me if I would have elected to speak instead of being silent.

Yes, I’ve tried employing silence often but it has never worked out too well for me. I’ll continue being extremely outspoken because I’ve experienced great success and happiness this way.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison