Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Prayer for State Trooper Mike Walter and the Residents of Mosby Court

“One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.” -Proverbs 21:22

On this Memorial Day weekend as we honor and remember those who have sacrificed for our freedom, we are once again reminded that the battle continues close to home. With yet another senseless shooting in Mosby Court last night, this time involving State Trooper Mike Walter, our hearts are heavy with a longing for peace and flourishing in all our RVA neighborhoods.

How can we not call on God Almighty at this time to intervene, to grant us wisdom, to give a resolved unity among all seeking the solution, and to empower us with the fortitude to never give up?  The enemy is NOT the residents of Mosby, Law Enforcement, Faith and Civic Communities that serve, City Hall, the Media or even systems of injustice that we have inherited from previous years (though we must continue to eradicate them from our community).  The enemy is the dark forces of evil that seek to rob, steal, and destroy the hearts and minds of an emerging generation that have been deceived into acting as if there is no hope.

Oh God, if there has ever been a time that we need You, it is now.  Bring us together to be Your hands and voice of hope.  Bring down the strongholds of evil that cause some to do destructive acts they were never created to do.  Galvanize the people of RVA to usher in a goodness, found in Your divine heart, that pushes out the darkness.  Give rise to advocates, philanthropists, the people of God, protectors of peace, and all who have a civic conscience with unprecedented unity.  Losing this battle is not an option.

Bring Your healing, peace, and strength to Mike Walter and his family and all those who live in vicinity of this crime.  Protect the hearts and memories of kids who are more accustomed to seeing crime scenes than jump ropes.  Let there be laughter, joy, and jubilee in the streets again.  We are in desperate need of Your help and confess our sin of human independence.  For we were not created to labor with out You but with You.  May it be so.

Ex nihilo (out of nothing),

R.J. Rhoden

Saturday, May 20, 2017

An Invitation to All Who Want to Be Different

Jesus calls His Followers to be different because all things are possible.  Jesus declares in Mark 9:23 "Everything is possible for one who believes."  The "possible" flows from Him, but courageously standing on the foundation of belief is on us.  Belief is not a momentary feeling just as love is not.  Belief is a long commitment. It's a lifestyle whereby we trust and expect God to do what seems impossible.  Belief produces a new level of sacrifice, joy, and trust in us.  It brings abundant life.

Abundant life is good but not easy.  It is not given to us; it grows within us as we walk out the heart and mission of Jesus.  In so doing we discover that abundance is found not in what we get but what we get to participate in, see, and do for others in the power and authority of Jesus.  That is the great secret to being different.  You and I were meant to be givers not getters.

If following Jesus does not make us significantly different than those who are not than are we really following Jesus?  Maybe we are instead following some 21st century, water-downed, safe version of Him?  Maybe we are embracing a Gospel that encourages us toward worldly similarity rather than Godly distinctive?

Jesus is inviting you to be different.  He is inviting you to a life of prayer and fasting that leads to mission.  He is inviting you to witness and participate in the impossible where the sick are healed, the addicted are set free, the hardened heart is made soft, the horrible marriage is made whole, the generational cycle of poverty is ended, the violent one becomes the promoter of peace, and the people of God are the solution not silos of isolation.

Over the next 7 weeks I will be challenging everyone, who will listen, to be different. The context for my teaching will be Mark 9:14-29.  It is a blueprint for what is possible in Jesus.  He is the embodiment of hope and love and mission.

You can have this world, but as for me, give me Jesus.  I want to be different.  Do you?

Ex nihilo (out of nothing),

R.J. Rhoden