Spirituality

Happy 37th Birthday to Dr. Santresa L. Glass

Dr. Santresa L. Glass

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Santresa L. Glass)

Most friends speak about they’ve had their “ups and downs” as friends, but we’ve never experienced any “downs.” For 16 years, you’ve been one of my best friends, and I’m grateful for our incomparable friendship. Too many people wait until someone’s funeral before sharing expressions of love, but we make our love for one another known weekly, even if it’s just a “love you” text. You’re undeniably beautiful on the inside and outside.

I’m so proud of all you have accomplished. When I think about the fact that my best friend is a pioneer in research on social media’s impact on small and medium-sized businesses, completing one of the earliest doctoral dissertations in this area, this makes me even more proud of you. I look forward to the future research you will conduct and publish in this area, and I look forward to collaborating with you on some empirical studies involving this interesting and important research.

The great work you’re doing through your non-profit organization, Cheesecake For The Cure, Inc., is commendable. Each day, your organization, under your leadership, works tirelessly to bring increased awareness about all forms of cancer—not just one or two forms as almost all other cancer-related organizations do. Again, you’re innovative and revolutionary approach to cancer prevention, education, support and treatment makes you a standout leader and thinker in this sector of the non-profit community. I’m intrigued to see what Cheesecake For The Cure, Inc. will do next. By the way, I hate cancer! (You already knew that, though.)

My prayer for you, on your 37th birthday, is to have a day of joy, peace, relaxation and reflection.

Without question, you’re one of the best gifts God has ever given to me.

Thank you for being who you are.

I love you.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Church Shouldn’t Mirror the Nightclub

Secular Music in Church

(Photo Credit: GH Music Nation)

In many churches, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish them from nightclubs. The Apostle Paul delivered a New Covenant of Grace command to Believers: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). When preachers allow elements of the nightclub to become regular parts of their services, they engender a milieu within their Sanctuaries that becomes confused. At one moment, many preachers are passionately advocating holy living; however, at another moment, they’re permitting young and old congregants to participate in worldliness inside of the church. There should be a clear distinction between what’s sacred and what’s secular—those borders shouldn’t be blurred. To attract young people to church and engage them once they arrive, it’s unnecessary to dilute authentic spirituality and Christian worship to make this possible. Jesus should never be lost in anything we do in the church.

Secular music concatenated with some references to God or Jesus here and there is still secular music. Lipstick on a pig is still lipstick on pig—no matter how sophisticated you attempt to portray it.

You cannot put “Christian” in front of any music genre and try to present it as appropriate for church services. Although genuine Christian rap of the type Lecrae offers is appropriate for church services, everyone purporting to be “Christian rappers” aren’t. They’re secular rappers wanting to use churches as spaces to expand their recognition and spheres of influence. When you allow secular rappers masquerading as Christian rappers to perform constantly in your churches, you’re inviting those unclean spirits to reside in your churches as well. After they perform, don’t expect to come behind them and have powerful, life-changing sermons. Don’t expect people to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit after you’ve endorsed all of those evil spirits to come into the church. Many preachers simply aren’t consulting the Lord about the decisions they make and aren’t seeking divine wisdom.

When the House of God becomes the nightclub, God is not pleased and He will hold the pastor of each church that does this accountable.

Young people don’t have to be moved simply by secular beats to come to church and be involved in it. They’re more complex than that. If church leaders would simply offer these young people Jesus, they will drink from the cup of Grace Christ extends to them. You can attract young people to church by offering them opportunities to honor God in ways truly pleasing to Him. Give young people opportunities to sing traditional and contemporary gospel songs. Let them give inspirational messages about their love for Jesus and what He means in their life. Have them to create and recite Christ-centered poetry. Use the diverse talents and skills the young people in your church and community have to glorify Christ by encouraging them to make Jesus the true focus of everything they present during church services.

God’s Altar is sacred and should never be desecrated—neither should His Sanctuary.

When leading the unsaved to Salvation through the Prayer of Salvation, preachers commonly conclude the Prayer of Salvation by asking, “According to what you’ve just prayed, where is Jesus?” Unfortunately, too many of those same preachers aren’t asking the same query when it comes to allowing secular music to be performed in their churches.

Keep what’s holy, holy; keep what’s sacred, sacred. If the shoe fits, wear it. Period.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

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

The Complicated Beauty of Forgiveness

Forgiveness

(Photo Credit: Joint Interest)

Although it can be quite difficult to forgive people sometimes, it’s essential that you forgive them.  You may feel that the people have done things to you and/or stated things about you that make them unworthy of forgiveness.  Everyone deserves forgiveness, however.  When you’re unwilling to forgive others, you hold yourself back from progressing.  You will continue to carry the weight of unforgiveness around with you.  Holding grudges robs you of living a life liberated from the control of others.  When you fail to forgive individuals who have wronged you, you’re allowing the things they’ve done to you to control you.

When you forgive people for their errors, you make room in your life for greater things to happen in it.

Forgiveness

(Photo credit: Celestine Chua)

Forgiving individuals does not mean you have to become friends with them and hang out with them.  It means you have released yourself and them from any personal animosity, malevolent thoughts, and desires for revenge you may have harbored.  This will also let the people who you’ve forgiven know that you hold nothing against them.  When you forgive people, this does not mean that they will not face consequences for their wrongs.  They still will experience the repercussions of their errors.  At that point, what they will go through is out of your hands.  You’ve done your part and that’s all that matters.

Don’t spend the rest of your life thinking about ways you’re going to get revenge on your enemies. This is a complete waste of your time.  Your enemies have wasted enough of your time; therefore, don’t help them to waste more of it.

If you forgive a person for phenomena he or she has done to you, then you may discover that the act of forgiveness enables you to restore a relationship with him or her.  Forgiveness can, therefore, pave the way for necessary relationships to be mended.  It can also give you peace to deal with those relationships that need to end or remain severed.  In no way does having a forgiving heart mean that you have to let people run over you.  A forgiving heart permits you to recognize that human beings are fallible creatures needing to be forgiven because of their inability to achieve perfection.

Make an important decision to forgive everyone who has ever done you wrong.  If you really want to see maximum growth in your life, visit, call or write the people you’re forgiving to inform them that you’ve forgiven them and what you’ve forgiven them for doing and/or saying.  Be specific too.

We continue to have unproductive arguments and fights with one another because we’re too immature to resolve our issues through sincere and apt communication.

When you apologize to someone, don’t apologize because you got caught; apologize because you’re genuinely sorry. Faux apologizes will only exacerbate quandaries between you and others.  Many people will respond positively to authentic apologies.

Today, empower yourself by forgiving someone for his or her wrongdoings.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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