Elections & the Biblical Text

_MG_2111It was the Late historian and theologian, Dr. Kenneth E. Bailey who challenged the Christian community and his students in a lecture saying, “In any age does our traditional understanding of the text, control the text itself.  Surely scripture must always be free to correct our understanding of it.” He went on to say, “Will we follow scripture, or are we satisfied with our traditional reading of it?” Christianity is a life of praxis and not one of theory. The word of God is the paideia or instruction in righteousness designed to save the living soul. How easy it is to glean Scripture through a distant lens, separated from real-time life. The relevance of the Bible is not actualized until it is holistically applied within the life of the believer — in the midst of crisis, dilemma, fear, and/or doubt. Read the rest of this entry

The God of Never an Afterthought

468771_3557758673366_449269616_oI was excited about writing this narrative, concerning the concept of God and divine equity. The fact that God operates through equity and not equality is pivotal, but I will save that exposition for next month. While preaching and teaching on Easter Sunday (2016), a deep thought invaded my mind regarding the depth of God toward His human creation. It is this thought that is being explored and exposed for our April Potter’s column. Read the rest of this entry

#BlackWorth

blackworth4Clearly All Lives Matter, but the unconscious struggle in the minds of many is with Black Worth. The mattering of all lives has never been a theological question because at the very core of the gospel message it is proclaimed, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). Christ died for all of human creation and He is concerned about the welfare of every soul. Despite that fact, through the mind of God, that has never stopped Him from commanding a special level of protection and care for the voiceless, abused, marginalized, oppressed, victimized, and impoverished of society. Read the rest of this entry

Divine Extremism In Christ

“Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. 24 But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream” (Amos 5:23-24). Read the rest of this entry

The Judas Factor Revisited

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
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The Equity of God

_MG_2083I have been longing to write and share this brief narrative for a few months. In my consulting work through Saheli7, the primary thrust is equity. For me it is very important to attempt to live a congruent life. In other words, I believe it is a blessing when the elements within a person’s life navigate down a similar stream. By invitation I travel up and down California, seeking to help educators and organizations implement elements of equity in their schools and institutions. The kind of equity work I engage is racial; thus it is about making sure all racial groups (especially the underserved) have what they need to thrive and excel.

One day I was reflecting and measuring how my work in a school district, consulting business, and ministry harmonize and integrate. It was through these thoughts that I realized the complete work of God is about equity. Without engaging critically, we are conditioned to think about equality and not equity. The work and issuance of equality sounds just, fair, and righteous, but in actuality God does not operate in equality, He moves through equity.  The proverbial writer said, “He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path” (Proverbs 2:8-9). In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for equity is meyshar and it means “evenness, levelness, and smoothness.” From and through a God-lens, in its purest form, equity operates out of love and provides what is needed as opposed to what is wanted. Theologically, divine equity is the ministry of providing what every person needs to reach their full potential in Christ, and not everyone needs the exact same thing or the exact dosage of a thing. The early church was full of members with diversified gifts and the same is true today. Not everyone has the same God-breathed talent – and even those who do are not given the same measure or manifestation. Equality is not the same as equity.544935_4698842679753_591176427_n
An example of divine equity is actualized through the case-study of parenting children. The Bible says Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This means when raising a child or children, their unique tendencies, talents, and gifts must be cultivated. Love must always be applied with equality, but cultivation for efficacy and purpose is the work of equity. Every person seeking success cannot receive the exact same ingredients. We do not all need the same ingredient measurements. We all needed the cleansing blood of Christ, but all were not and are not drawn to Him the exact same way. With applied equity, some need more and some need less, but equity provides what is needed so a person can reach their full potential and not be left behind. The premise of equity also requires the understanding of mercy, grace, and generosity, so a person is not left feeling neglected because they did not receive the same thing as their neighbor.

In the story of the two lost sons in Luke 15, when the older son complained to his father about his younger brother receiving the honor of the ring, fatted calf, robe, and banquet invitation – his father said to him “And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine” (Luke 15:31). In essence the father made clear that what he gave to his younger son upon his return, was not necessary or needed for the welfare and development of his older son. The father acted out of the divine principle of equity and not equality. When people are not careful and slide into an attitude of selfishness, like the older son, they can view the love of equity toward another as neglect toward them. God does not need to bless you with what you already have, but He may need to do that for the brother or sister next to you.

Equity is a beautiful principle because it ensures all have what they need and seeks balance. Equity is the methodology that brings about equality, fostering equitable access and opportunities. Notice this principle of divine equity: Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.15 As the Scriptures say, “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough” (2 Corinthians 8:12-15). In verse 14 of the passages above the Greek word translated equality is isotes and means that which is fair and equitable.  So in this case of balanced service, Paul was not asking all to give the same amount, he urged them to give to the best of their ability, based upon what they had, so all people could share in the ministry equally, creating equity. Equity is not about others being burdened and taxed while others neglect to participate or share. It is the opposite. The premise of Paul was, “engage with a community spirit of equity now, so if you are in need in the future it can be replicated.”

1476466_10205030891562695_3098568028132742321_nEvery Christian must be tremendously thankful for the equity-work of God, because Christ operated out of equity at Calvary. If God operated out of equality, He would have to exact vengeance. Humanity disobeyed God and crucified His Son, but instead of moving with equal justice toward His human creation, He engaged in the ministry of equity/grace, providing to us what we needed/need to grow and be forgiven in Him.

Thank God for the ministry of equity, generating and effectuating the purpose of equality. Remember that you are the clay in the Potter’s Hand and God has paPicture1ved a Way to save you today!

Dr. Ammar Saheli

Grief Management in the Lord

AmmarAt the hand of death, grief and loss is something that all of humanity will experience. I am not saying that all will personally experience death on this side of life because that is not true. Paul said to the Christians in Thessalonica, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Regarding the end of time he went on to say, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).  Thus when Christ returns, some will be alive. Although not all of humanity we experience a traditional earthly death, most likely we all will or all have experienced the death of someone. Read the rest of this entry

The Called vs. The Chosen

tonyaBy the age of 25 I began experiencing tragedy after tragedy.  By age 37, I had already experienced the death of a child, the death of a sibling, and the death of a mother in law. This had me constantly wondering what would happen next. One day my husband said something to me that hit me like a ton of bricks.  He said, “Some of us are chosen.” This resonated with me in a very bone chilling fashion because it caused me to think, “Am I chosen?”  If I was chosen, then exactly for what had I been chosen. Matthew 22:14 says, “Many are called few are chosen.” Read the rest of this entry

The Cost of the Cross

468771_3557758673366_449269616_oWhen it comes to the divine essence of the cross, it is clear that without hesitation Jesus holistically paid the cost. In Romans 3:25 the Apostle Paul said about Christ, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” From a Greek perspective the term propitiation illustrates the fact that Christ became and is our appeasement or expiation from the force of God’s wrath. Jesus Christ paid the price and became the ransom for us. All that we do should be motivated by the efforts Christ engendered at Calvary. This includes our Christian living motif of love, forgiveness, forbearance, repentance, prayer, financial giving, and more. Read the rest of this entry

Passing Over: A New Season Has Begun

468771_3557758673366_449269616_oAll of us able to read this narrative have passed over; we have exited the year 2015 and have been translated into 2016. On one level, passing from one year into another, nothing miraculous happens. One day closes and another begins. Yet there is also a type of newness and resoluteness that can hover in the air. This often comes in the form of vowing for change, betterment, resolve, and deeper spirituality. Even within a year there are moments and things we pass over, go through, and experience. The People of God in Joshua 3:16-17 crossed over the Jordan River: “…The waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. 17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.” Read the rest of this entry

Analogy of the Word

Regardless of the homiletical expression of your hermeneutical discovery, nestled within Romans 12:6 is found the essence of a discrete theological gemstone that illustrates and amplifies the strategic scheme of what it means to deliver a word from the Lord. Whether your exegetical journey results in a manifested oration of a topical or expository delivery, there is an application of beauty and truth that remains consistent.

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Shatter Proof

Portraits with Ammar Saheli by Alex Lopez

I recall the day my cell phone leaped out of my hand and fell to the floor, face first. When it smashed into the limestone tile there was a distinctive smack and I knew instantly it was an unfavorable outcome. I picked up my phone and turned it over slowly, hoping for a miracle. As I looked — the face of the phone was thoroughly shattered. Part of it (well, all of it) was my fault because I elected to not by a protective case.
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