religion

Jesus Didn’t Die to Condemn You: The Gospel of Grace

Black Preacher

(Photo Credit: Rap Genius)

One of the primary reasons why many churches are doing an ineffective job of evangelizing is they fail to reverence the Gospel of Grace in their teaching (if any teaching is going on at all) and preaching.  When Jesus died on the Cross for all (past, present and future) sins, we were given a chance to live in the freedom of His Grace (Romans 6:14).  For those who repent of all their known and unknown sins (Romans 10:9-10), they’re given Salvation and eternal life in Heaven (John 3:16).  With the gift of Salvation comes freedom from condemnation for past, present and future sins (Romans 8:1-2).  When you accept Jesus as your Lord and personal Savior, you’ve been set free from condemnation.  You no longer should be sin conscious; that is, you no longer should live in fear about sin and/or feel guilty about any sins (Hebrews 10:2).  When one does sin, he or she can be forgiven by repenting of the sin (I John 2:1).  At the moment you receive Salvation, you’re no longer under the Law of Moses; you’re now going to be led by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:18).  The Holy Spirit will now teach you all things (John 14:26), and you will no longer need human beings to teach you everything you need to do, think and say (Galatians 3:25).

Grace is Jesus Christ.  Grace is unmerited (undeserved) favor.  Grace is the peace, power, and love of Christ working in the life of the Believer (a person who has received Salvation).

Unfortunately, too many preachers lack the proper teaching about Grace, and continue to “lord” (Mark 10:42; II Corinthians 1:24 [New International Version]) their authority over their congregants and those outside of the Church.  Because many churches are still teaching and preaching the Law of Moses, they’re unintentionally serving Moses instead of Jesus, and they end up offering the world Moses instead of Jesus. For those of us who are serious about the mission of Christ (Luke 19:10), we have to teach and preach the Gospel of Grace throughout the entire world.  We also have to encourage Christian teachers and preachers across the world to learn and spread the Gospel of Grace.

The Apostle Paul writes, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”  The “gospel of Christ” is the Gospel of Grace.  Paul is astonished that people are so quick to turn away from the Gospel of Grace and teach and preach other things.  He informed the Galatians and us that there’s no other gospel except the Gospel of Grace.  Paul divulged that there are false teachers present who “pervert the gospel of Christ.”  Therefore, when someone is teaching and/or preaching something other than the Gospel of Grace, he or she is teaching you something diametrically opposed to what Jesus taught and preached and diametrically opposed to what He commands His followers to teach and preach.

The only way you can receive Salvation is through your Faith in Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Church leaders, if you’re serious about the mission of Christ, which is to win lost souls, then you must teach and preach the Gospel of Grace. Your evangelism will continue to be ineffective without an emphasis on the Gospel of Grace.  Stop teaching and preaching the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was brought to bring about your death (Romans 7:5), but Jesus has come to give you abundant life (John 10:10).    

Don’t let another person condemn you to Hell.  Repent from all of your known and unknown sins today and Jesus will give you Salvation immediately.  Again, stop teaching and preaching Moses and teach and preach Jesus.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Donate to an Effective Ministry: Paradise Church of God in Christ

Paradise Church of God in Christ

(Photo Credit: Paradise Church of God in Christ)

Grace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior:

I am a member of Paradise Church of God in Christ at 4234 Hendrix Drive, Forest Park, Georgia 30297.  To begin, I would like to invite you to join us for worship. Our Pastor, Bishop Paul L. Fortson, is a wonderfully-inspired man of God who loves the Lord and loves His people.  It would be a pleasure to have you attend one of our anointed services in the near future.

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to ask for your support as our church tackles a monumental task.  In 2002, Bishop Fortson was led by the Lord to build a gymnasium and cultural center for the members of Paradise and our surrounding community.  In 2003, we opened the doors to the newly-built Paradise Gymnasium & Cultural Center.  Since then, many wonderful things have transpired to not only benefit our members, but also our local community, the city of Forest Park, and neighboring cities throughout Clayton County.

With a goal to help community residents make positive changes in their lives and build stronger families, Paradise has assisted men, women and youth through mentoring programs, sports tournaments, career and education coaching, and parenting and life skills development.  I am Godly-proud to share that several of the young men and women we have worked with have gone on to college or trade school and are now productive citizens in their respective communities.  Additionally, in 2012, we served the international community by partnering with Forest Park’s City Government as the host site for over 100 volunteers who collectively packaged more than 20,000 meals for the people of Haiti.

Given our Center’s impact, our desire is not only to continue serving in this capacity, but also to do more!  Today, our church is facing a financial challenge, however.  God has given a vision through our Pastor called Sponsor a Saint.  I am asking you to Sponsor a Saint by sowing a seed of $100, $50, or $25.  By sowing a seed, once or becoming a ministry partner, you will enable us to liquidate our mortgage (one million dollars) for the Paradise Gymnasium & Cultural Center.  By liquidating the mortgage, it will allow us to expand our community service and do more.  I believe God placed our church here to help people.  Moreover, I believe God is going to bless you for whatever amount He leads you to give.  We have selected the following theme for this year: “We are called to minister and witness to a deeply distressed and troubled world” (Acts 20:15-18).

With your help and God on our side, we are going to make it!  We would be pleased and honored if you would take a moment and sow a seed today.  You can mail your seed offering to the address above, or please go to our website at www.paradise/cogic.org and make your donation.  All donations are tax deductible.

Be blessed in Jesus name,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

Director of Christian Education

Chairman of Education Special Interest Group

Paradise Church of God in Christ

Reverend Markel Hutchins: Linking Activism and Ministry

Markel Hutchins

(Photo Credit: WSB TV)

A champion for racial, social and economic justice and product of Morehouse College, Reverend Markel Hutchins serves as a shining progressive example of how postmodern Black preachers should be passionately active in their communities.  Hutchins has not been derelict in his duty to engage in civil and human rights efforts, efforts like those Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X championed. Even when he was in high school, one could see a burgeoning fighter for justice in the making: He led a march against the proliferation of drugs in the neighborhood surrounding his school.  Mr. Hutchins went on to become an ordained Baptist minister, leading Markel Hutchins Ministries.  Although there are laws prohibiting clergymen from being politically engaged in the confines of places of worship, this does not mean they cannot be involved in issues pertaining to social and economic policy affecting their communities, especially outside of their places of worship.  Hutchins certainly understands this.

Reverend Hutchins has an acute awareness of the power and significance of Black preachers’ serious involvement in political, social and economic issues during the Civil Rights Movement.  Black preachers during that period understood how to minister to the comprehensive needs of their congregants.  Yes, it’s one thing to feed one’s members spiritual food; another to feed their social, economic, professional and personal development.  Mr. Hutchins has been highly attentive to the complete needs of those he leads.  By doing this, he helps to further the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Although his leadership and ministry emerged in Atlanta, Georgia, a pivotal site during the Civil Rights Movement, his visionary leadership calls him to fight for justice throughout America.

When Black preachers invest in the communities in which they are situated, those communities become better places to live, work and play.  Unfortunately, too many Black preachers are too concerned about their personal and church’s financial prosperity to involve themselves in essential community development. Numerous pusillanimous Black preachers hide behind their collars and robes instead of tackling challenging and critical issues in their communities, including homelessness, police brutality, unfair labor practices, criminal justice system abuses, and racism, as Reverend Hutchins has done and continues to do.

Ministries not advocating for their communities are purposeless.

Markel Hutchins Ministries has purpose, vision and results.

While we increasingly see, hear and read accounts of preachers involved in corruption, and it’s easy not to support any preacher—which is a product of a burgeoning nihilistic impulse in postmodernism—it’s important to pay tribute to those preachers who are making a remarkable difference in the lives of people and their communities.  This is why we have to give Reverend Markel Hutchins his flowers while he’s living.  Although you may not always agree with his methods and viewpoints, it’s clear this man loves his country deeply enough to hold it accountable to fulfilling its nonpareil ideals—expressed most vividly and eloquently in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  We should demand an America as good as it’s promised, and Hutchins is tireless warrior working to see those utopian founding ideals materialize.

When an individual thinks critically and comprehensively about the work Reverend Markel Hutchins has done and is doing, it becomes transparent why former Atlanta Mayor, Shirley Franklin, the first female mayor of Atlanta and first Black woman of a prominent Southern city, posits that he “will soon be celebrated as one of our nation’s most visible and viable public servants.”

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Raise Him Up: A Single Mother’s Guide to Raising a Successful Black Man: A Review

Raise Him Up Moore

(Photo Credit: BookLook Bloggers)

In Raise Him Up: A Single Mother’s Guide to Raising a Successful Black Man (2013), Stephanie Perry Moore offers the reader some personal insights about the struggles single black women face rearing successful black boys who develop into men.  Extensive research has empirically proven that black male students academically lag behind all of their peers throughout every level of education.  The narratives of single black women who rear black boys receive limited focus in the professional literature.  This book, therefore, provides a needed account of the challenges and problems encountered by single black women rearing black boys, especially their efforts to rear successful black boys who evolve into successful black men.  Moore contends that using spiritual instruction and guidance available in the bible is essential to producing successful black boys and men.  The author relies heavily on the Book of Acts to support her suggestions and arguments.  She gives the reader prayers they can use in their work with their black male child.  One chapter is devoted to rearing a successful black male student-athlete.

While the book offers important practical challenges and problems encountered by single black mothers rearing black boys, Moore made a poor strategic choice of employing the Book of Acts as her primary source for biblical support for the things she suggested and asserted.  The biblical support is simply forced throughout the work.  The chapter on rearing a successful black male student-athlete appears tacked on and lacks adequate coverage.  The chapter on rearing a successful black male student-athlete would have been better as a separate, standalone project.

Overall, the book leaves much more to be desired.  This book is a classic case of a good idea not executed well.  During the review process of this book, someone should have made a compelling case to Moore to buttress her biblical support for her arguments and advice by choosing more relevant scriptures to enhance her arguments and advice.  Although there are some nice qualities about the book, I cannot highly recommend the book because of its many failures.

BookLook Bloggers gave me a complimentary copy of the book to compose a professional review of it.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

5 Reasons Why Many Black Churches Are Failing

Black Church

(Photo Credit: Tampa Bay)

Historically, the Black Church has served as a powerful political, social, and spiritual institution.  Unfortunately, too many postmodern Black churches are becoming fundamentally immaterial.  This is an especially sad reality when one considers how central the work of Black churches was to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.  The purpose of this piece is to offer 5 reasons why many Black churches have basically lost their relevancy.

1.      Money.  Too many Black preachers place more focus on filling the offering plates than on responding to the comprehensive needs of the members of their congregations.  Instead of engendering a potent economic agenda offering serious solutions for their congregants, many Black preachers are more concerned with how they can fatten their wallets and ameliorate their personal dwellings and automobiles.  Although some people in the faith community are governed by a false consciousness that preachers aren’t capable of being venal people, this type of thought is divorced from reality.  Even with Bishop Eddie Long being publicly proven to be a corrupt man, some in the faith community still don’t believe that some preachers are corruptible.  Many Black churches are being dominated by the profit-motive, and their pastors are viewing the congregants as commodities.  The absence of economic uplift in numerous Black church members has contributed significantly to the waning of these churches’ importance.

 2.      Envy.  In many Black churches, envy is such a prevailing force that it not only threatens the effectiveness of the churches, but also will lead to their untimely demises.  Numerous Black preachers are unwilling to address envy within their churches because they’re afraid of losing church members, which, of course, leads to decreases in dollars in the offering plates.  Although you’ll have countless people tell you that they’re Christians in these churches, so many of them will be the first people to try to bring you down.  Too many people Black churchgoers aren’t committed to solidarity; they’re more committed to finding ways to attack one of their fellow members simply because he or she has something they desire.  Much of the extant envy in the Black Church emerges from deep racial self-loathing.  Black preachers, therefore, need to address self-esteem problems and racial self-hatred.  Envious people don’t want to face their funk—they attempt to deodorize and sanitize their funk.  Beware of those envious snakes who destroy you behind your back.

3.      Fragmentary Teaching and Preaching.  Too many Black churches cherry-pick the sins they discuss.  Countless Black churches have an incessant focus on homosexuality, but they refuse to address the unsettling number of aborted Black babies, the alarming divorce rate in the Black community, and many other sins that will upset the greater majority of the members.  To avoid infuriating the majority of the church members, many Black preachers pick phenomena that will incense only a minority of their congregants.  When teaching about a specific sin, it’s vital for churches to link that sin to the sin nature and offer hope, redemption, and salvation to those who have and/or are committing the discussed sin.  Overly focusing on a specific sin alienates people, and it causes church members to lose sight of the larger number of sins they’re committing and/or need to devote more concern to examining.

4.      Lack of Community Involvement.  Many Black churches are simply not involved enough in the communities in which they are situated for people to see why the churches even matter.  Quality and consistent community service was one of the hallmarks of the Black Church during the Civil Rights Movement, but numerous Black churches aren’t giving any time to community service, or they’re devoting an insignificant amount of time to community service.  An effective church stays active in the lives of the people in its service area.

5.      Lack of a Social Justice Agenda.  The Black Church, as a whole, must return to advocating for social justice as it did during the Civil Rights Movement.  Too many Black churches have been silent about senseless murders of Black people (e.g. Trayvon Martin), high Black unemployment, Black male academic underachievement, and etc.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Black Church and the Incessant Focus on Homosexuality

Same-Sex Marriage

From the beginning of this piece, I want to make it clear that I’m a strong supporter of traditional marriage and support marriage as it has been traditionally defined: marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman.  Many Black churches, however, are acting like there aren’t any other sins mentioned in the bible save homosexuality.  Homosexuality is a sin.  My problem with many Black preachers, however, is with their choice to devote too much of their time to preaching and discussing homosexuality.  When they do this, they make it appear that they think one of the greatest problems in the Black Church and the Black community is homosexuality.  I want this article to disabuse many Black preachers of their belief that homosexuality is one of the greatest problems in the Black Church and Black community.

With the Black unemployment rate at 13.2%, Black preachers must begin to focus their sermons, teachings, and discussions on economic uplift.  Concentrating on homosexuality isn’t going to get your congregations the jobs they need.  Many of those in the Black community that Black preachers are attempting to reach don’t see their primary problem to be homosexuality; they see the fact they’re unemployed as far more important than their sexual orientation and the sexual orientation of others.  Black preachers cannot honestly say they’re unaware of the economic problems of their congregants and community.  They see their unpleasant economic realities in the offering plates.

Why, then, do many Black preachers continue to concentrate on homosexuality when economic problems are far more pressing?  They know many of the members of their congregations are going to be pleased with harsh condemnations of homosexuals, considering it appeals to many of their members’ homophobic mindsets.  A typical response to a Black preacher speaking on the issue of homosexuality is as follows: “Girl, Pastor really preached today.  Did you hear him talk about them “faggots” and “sissies”? Child, them gay folks just nasty and going to Hell!”  While it’s true that if homosexuals do not repent of their sins they will inevitably go to Hell, language used to discuss homosexuals must still reflect true Christian love (agape).  Please explain how calling people disparaging names like “faggot” and “sissy” evinces agape.  It doesn’t!  Many Black preachers gain high acclaim (and even fame) for how aggressively they preach against homosexuality, and, as reward to them, they have large church memberships and lucrative financial dividends that end up in the offering plates.  In a number of Black churches, preaching about homosexuality simply sells—just as sex sells in postmodern American popular culture.

When millions of Black babies are aborted each year, why won’t more Black preachers discuss this vexing phenomenon?  The main reason they don’t is they are unwilling to run the risk of upsetting the numerous women who have had abortions who sit in their congregations.

Some of the most prevalent and important sins in the Black Church today are envy, division, unforgiveness, gossiping, and lying.  It seems, however, that many Black preachers don’t want to invest critical time to these issues because they see those sins to be more complicated and less attractive.  The aforementioned sins are the sins that significantly impair the witness of Christians.  When those who are unsaved see Christians who are struggling with envy, division, unforgiveness, gossiping, and/or lying, unsaved people don’t desire to hear what they have to say.

I’ve never seen so much envy in the Black Church as it is today.  Envy is a more damaging sin confronting the Black Church than is homosexuality.  When Black preachers start to addressing envy more, especially the envy in their churches, I will begin to believe they’re truly serious about getting people to live lives not dominated by sin.

I do contend that it’s important for the Black Church to offer a powerful response to the increasingly successful promotion of same-sex marriage (or marriage equality), but Black preachers shouldn’t let this become their main focus.  Most of these same Black preachers voted for President Obama, who publicly articulated his support for gay marriage.  On Sundays, many Black preachers are zealously condemning homosexuality, but are still swooning over a President diametrically opposed to their support of traditional marriage. 

It’s time for many Black preachers to return to an intellectual, Socratic, imaginative, forward-thinking and prophetic sermonic tradition that produced prodigious Black preachers like Reverend C.L. Franklin, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison                

The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn

The Gospel of Yes

In The Gospel of Yes, Mike Glenn offers readers an inspiring look at how a personal relationship with Jesus is heavily centered on the word “yes.”  Glenn highlights how the beginning of our personal relationship with Jesus begins with us saying “yes” to Him, and His willingness to say “yes” to a personal relationship with us and “yes” to forgiving us for all of our sins.  The author illuminates how we often allow ourselves to be divided about what Jesus does not allow us to do, but we fail to place a strong emphasis on what he tells us we can do.  For Glenn, the numerous times Jesus says “yes” is undervalued.  This book desires for Christians to engage to characterize themselves more by what Jesus says “yes” to instead of what he forbids.  The author contends that Christianity becomes more attractive and reaches more lost souls when we appeal to the more positive and important things Jesus says “yes” about rather than defeating people with all the things He does not permit.

Mike Glenn writes, “If we understand who we are created to be in Christ, we realize we have an all-consuming calling.  Our calling–our ‘yes’ in Christ–is what focuses our lives and determines how we invest our lives” (p. 24).  What the book wants us to recognize is we will know who we are “created to be in Christ” when we are willing to surrender to the will of Christ.  Although the author could have made it clearer that it’s essential to embrace the things Jesus says “no” to, he captures the power of a life that concentrates on adopting a heart and mind like Jesus.  If you’re really determined to be a true Christian, you’re willing to submit yourself to the totality of the will of Jesus.  Glenn’s book does a great job of elucidating how essential it is to surrender to God’s complete will.

While the book is not super sophisticated and does not attempt to be, it gives the reader a new perspective on mundane things about Christian living.  What I found most interesting was the author’s treatment of the word “yes” in relation to the bible and our relationship with Jesus.  We may not often think about how significant the word “yes” is to having a proper understanding of God’s Word, but Glenn does not allow us to lose sight of this word’s importance.  I highly recommend that you read this book.  It will inspire you to live a better life in the will of God and challenge you to become the best you can be.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group to compose this review.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison