Wednesday, July 6, 2011

NOT Guilty

After 33 days of testimony, 400 pieces of evidence, and more than 90 witnesses, the jury in the Casey Anthony trial had reached a verdict. The media covered the world for more than 8 weeks with this astounding story of a mother accused of killing and disposing the body of her then 2 year old daughter. The prosecution composed their case on the premise that the mother, Casey Anthony (25 years of age), was a promiscuous, self-centered woman who became a cold-blooded killer. The motive, prosecutors alleged, was to allow her to live a carefree life without her daughter.

CNN, Fox News, and all major affiliates covered the reaction of the flabbergasted forum of parents that heard the verdict. I myself, not yet a parent, heard the verdict and was in a state of shock. People said, “OJ number two,” as they were asked to share their emotions live on the air with the rest of the world.

Sitting back, I began to think to myself, many of us should be accused of the same crime. We may have not killed a 2 year old girl nor hid the body, but we are sure guilty of something similar. What happened to the sins you committed and hid for no one to see or find out about? The dream of God that you have chosen to choke neonatal and hide for no one to account for? The fact is that you should be guilty. What blew me away about the case from beginning to end is that the defense thought this was an “open and close book” type case. 

Midway through the trial, Casey began to blame her father and mother. She stated that an abusive relationship, distorted childhood, and sexual abuse is the cause of her unbalanced emotions. Surprisingly, many of us try the same scheme. The difference is that we blame it on God and on our Pastors. We say that it is His/their fault when things don’t go in our favor. We begin to question God and ireluctantly blame our Pastors for the opposition we encounter because of the gift that we possess. We fail to understand, “to whom much is given, much is required.” The gift (child) that God has given you demands a lot from you. It demands your attention, compassion, consideration, and overall; your time. Many gifted people don’t understand this. They expect the gift to grow but don’t invest anytime into it. The word “Christian” denotes to mean “Christ-like.” This doesn’t mean fellowship, but discipleship. This means: the people I used to hang with, I can’t hang out with any longer. The people I used to talk to, I can’t talk to any longer. Why? Because "the wrong people will choke and impede the gift of God from growing into what God purposed for it to be." - Pastor A. Santiago

This allegory reminds me of a man in the Bible that was given a talent. Because he didn’t understand it’s importance, he dug a hole in the ground and hid it (Matt 25:18). Your baby needs to breathe. It requires oxygen in order to live and grow. Unfortunately, many have acted like the still unidentified culprit in this crime. They have taken what God has given them and hid it in the ground for no one to find until the time comes to show what you have done with that gift. There’s a reason why God has impregnated you with a dream. Casey has responded to twelve jurors, but one day she will have to respond to one God that will ask, “What did you do with the gift (child) I have given to you?” You may not ever stand before a grand jury, but you will one day stand before a Great God.

The truth is, that YOUR verdict should've been guilty; BUT God. When a jury of your peers find you guilty, the only thing that they should find you guilty of is His unconditional Love and Favor. If you were to really analyze the evidence, it was stacked up against you! It should have been an "open and close" case. As the enemy prepared his arguments, approached the bench, and after making his [very true] closing statements, You should have received the death sentence for the sins you committed; BUT God. What turned the case around was the fact that a lot of the evidence brought against Casey was inadmissible, because it was circumstantial. When God steps in, He begins to find the evidence stacked up against you inadmissible. It is inadmissible because while the enemy tries to find the incriminating evidence, all he will find is the evidence of the blood of Jesus. The blood will cover every plan of the enemy to destroy you. His hand of Mercy will pull you out of the circumstance and His Grace will give you the power to stay out of it.

Lead defense attorney Jose Baez remarked something that remains in my conscious. He said, “We should take this as an opportunity to know that you cannot convict someone until they have had their day in court. “  By profession he understands that you cannot convict someone of a crime based on suspicion. We seem to judge each other based on suspicion without having all the facts. While God is trying to draw them near, you are pushing them away because they look "suspect." The greatest benefit of the blood is when the enemy finds you guilty and calls you before the jury, you won’t have to defend yourself. Jesus will become your defense and your shield. “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.” (Psalms 91:4)

You are NOT Guilty!

Guilt is ever present in people that try to defend themselves and allow the enemy to manipulate them in any which way possible. Even after people forget what you have done, the enemy will bring it back to the light and convict you all over again as though it were the first time! If you don’t believe me, where is OJ Simpson?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Changing Lanes

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about change. He said, " I feel like I'm changing and getting to where I need to be in God." My caution to him was to be careful. A lot can happen during this transition in his life and can effect a lot of people. This conversation jogged my memory back to a movie back in 2002 called "Changing Lanes". This movie dramatized the collision between two completely different worlds. The characters portrayed demonstrated the hectic world of a young attorney (Ben Affleck), and a business man (Samuel L. Jackson).

The movie intensified as the attorney needed to exit and wasn't paying attention, so he collided with the other driver causing a chain of events to occur. The message I received from this motion picture was how because it was time to change lanes and he wasn't paying attention, he collided with someone who wasn't going where he was. It wasn't so much the rear view mirror that he missed. Essentially, he misjudged and underestimated his blind spots! Its astounding that even an 15 passenger van can hide in your blind spot without you noticing. The book of Proverbs implores us to "keep and guard your heart with all vigilance." (Prov 4:23) AMP

Amazingly, many of us need to change lanes and really aren't paying attention to where the next stop is. God is letting you know it's time to move, to shift, to transition, and because you aren't paying attention, you are missing your stop. Most importantly, it's the person sitting in the back seat (friends, people whom you are accountable to) that can tell you if something is hiding in your blind spot when you cannot see it. Unfortunately, we have so-called "friends" that don't say anything for the convenience of the ride. Some people just like a free ride. They love to ride your emotions, your integrity, and wont tell you when something is really wrong or even when you are about to collide with something BIG.

Ironically, if your in the fast lane of the highway and need to get off at an exit, you first have to cross over to the slow lane. This is the most dangerous part. Your changing not only lanes, but in order to change lanes you have to change speed. You have to change speed because the people in the other lanes are not going as fast as you are. This process can be called "the change of mindset" (Romans 12:2). Be careful not to get entangled with people who are not on your level. Its usually people who are not on our level that slow us down from getting to where God needs us and has called us to be.

According to a recent study, the number one cause of accidents on US highways is an improper change of lanes. Millions of helpless civilians die each year because others were not paying attention to when they needed to get off. Your decisions affect many people, in a good way or bad.

My cry to this generation is to change lanes, but before you do........Discern the time! This season is a season of rest. While you rest, in God that is, you will see the harvest lye before you like never before. Unproductivity is over with! The time where just doing the same thing is over with! The time where you had to go along, to be along is over with! You are made with a different DNA. The DNA of a Champion. You first have to make up in your mind, " I'm changing lanes." First look through your mirrors. You're not looking to your past, but making sure that no one will blind you from getting to your future!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Locked Out

Since the end of the 2010-2011 NFL season, analyst speculated a lockout would be eminent. Players are doing different things as the NFL lockout drags on. Some are finding alternative employment, others are boxing, while the remaining remnant are engaging in workouts they've put together with their teammates.

 Ironically, in church some find themselves to be gifted, talented, and anointed in a certain area but they feel locked out. They feel like God has placed a door before them but the enemy has locked the door on the opposite side. We are mistaken if we think our probable cause is that the enemy has closed every door. God is strong enough to open a door that man cannot close but also patient enough with us to close a door that man cannot open.

Its baffling when people's approach is saying, "The enemy thought he closed a door on my gift, but he has another thing coming!" This usually happens when they are not allowed to lead worship in their church or preach in front of a congregation. It's God closing the door of your gift to open another door to walk you into Purpose. Your gift is given by God to open eyes and make people receptive to His word, not make people receptive to your gift. What good is the gift if their is no Purpose? Your gift will bring you before great men, but your Purpose will keep you there.

My good friend, a gifted worship leader once told me, "I'm tired of seeing people abuse worship. That's my baby and it feels like its being mistreated and dropped." Once you walk into a place where your gift defines you, then you've lost a sense of Purpose. He understands that beyond being a gifted and influential singer, he's a worship leader (Psalmist). His assignment is to escort the people into the presence of God so that God can in turn, speak to the people. He's more than a singer, he's a minister of the Gospel; A man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22).

I believe that the professional athletes that have decided to pursue other careers during this lockout, will not be as successful. "Why the negativity?" Good question. It's because a football player's gift is his athleticism; however his Purpose is to play football. I once saw a tweet that read, "God made Lebron to play basketball." Lebron's attempt to play football was unsuccessful since his God-appointed-purpose is to play basketball and to influence a generation (in a positive way, of course) through that avenue. The same applies to you. Maybe you're not a professional athlete nor called to be a worship leader, but you're a great teacher. Let God use that to impact a generation and change someone's life.

Maybe God has allowed the lockout in your life to make you define and realize where your heart and motives are. In the Bible, Luke emphasized how before building, you must sit down, consider everything, so that in the likely event you begin, you can complete the task at hand (Luke 14:28).

The only authority that the enemy has over you is the one you have deputized him with. Lockouts build impatience, intolerance, scrutiny, and desperation. These feelings can Make You or Break You! He holds and has always held the key that is going to unlock immeasurable, incomprehensible, and unfathomable opportunities for you. This is exactly why it requires Purpose to see all these things. Your gift will only let you see with the eyes of the soul, but Purpose lets you see with the eyes of the Spirit. Thank him for the Lock Out, because once you are aligned with Purpose, you will be Locked In!