A New Year

A New Year

I have some weird quirky habits; I tend to over analyze and over dramatize everything, I enjoy taking bath (not necessarily weird unless you’re a guy like me, people tend to think it’s weird.) One weird habit I do have and I blame my mother for it, is that I like my drinks cold, almost frozen. It only really gets annoying till you live with me. We all have things we have learned over our lives that have become a second natured part of our daily routines. We have less than a week and another year will have gone by. All of our firm stances on world relations, war, and politics mean nothing when the year is over; because all we learned from another year ending is that even time itself ends. We on the other hand are an optimistic people; the New Year means embarking on new challenges, a second chance at a failed attempt, or more time with a loved one. I want to share this little nugget of wisdom from the Hebrew language. The word used to describe something “new” is tariy which means to be fresh or moist. The word “new” was less of a second opportunity but a quenching of the hopes for the New Year. It is a promise of new experiences, new boundaries being pushed and new heights being exceeded. Be excited for this coming year, it holds great things for you and I. things you have worked for your entire life will be culminated this coming year. Limits will be broken, dreams will be birthed. The New Year is a New day for you and I. let’s embrace the “new” the Hebrew promises’ it to be an exciting year. So instead of  vigorously saying, ” it’s the New Year.” Let’s make it personal and say, “It’s my New Year!”

Tomorrow I will share a deeper meaning to the word year and see what wisdom we can find in it.

To find out more about me or my teachings visit rickymaye.com

Barna on 2010

The worldwide respected Barna group wrote an article on the six themes in churches today. This is the subject of my new book that will be out in a few weeks. I think it is something christians need to seriously look at. I am a part of what is being called the Emergent Church and I see the results as a negative aspect of the church and a damning future.

“The religious environment in the U.S. is morphing into something new.” So says a new report by the Barna Group assessing the top six overarching themes uncovered by their research in the Church during 2010. The report found the following patterns developing in  the Church this year:

1. Less theological literacy. Barna says the basic truths of the faith are largely unknown to today’s Americans, especially to young adults. For example, most Americans cannot associate Easter with the resurrection of Christ, a majority see the Holy Spirit as a symbol rather than a living entity, and few see their faith as the central focus of their lives. “The theological free-for-all that is encroaching in Protestant churches nationwide suggests the coming decade will be a time of unparalleled theological diversity and inconsistency,” the report said.

2.  More ingrowth and less outreach-orientation. The report noted that Christians are becoming more and more spiritually isolated from non-Christians. Barna found that less than one-third of Christians had planned to invite anyone to Easter services in 2010, teens are much less apt to discuss their faith with their friends than was true in past years, and a majority of Christians this year converted because of a traumatic life experience rather than because of an outreach effort. The report warned that atheists are becoming more and more strategic in their outreach, and with the “increased religious plurality driven by education and immigration,” Christians will become increasingly reticent to engage in faith-based outreach efforts and conversations without intentional intervention.

3.  Greater interest in practical solutions rather than spiritual principles. Faith has taken a back seat to accomplishments, according to Barna’s 2010 research, especially to teens. People’s interests are growing in areas of lifestyle comfort, success, and personal achievement; teens prioritize education, career, friends, and travel. Both consider achievement of goals and survival in the present more important than spiritual growth and issues of eternal significance. “The turbo-charged pace of society leaves people with little time for reflection. The deeper thinking that occurs typically relates to economic concerns or relational pressures,” explained Barna’s researchers. Americans continue to compartmentalize their faith away from other aspects of life, becoming “practical to a fault.”

4.  Increased interest in community service and social justice for its own sake. Christians are more interested in community service projects and participating in social justice activities than in the past, largely driven by young adults. But the good works and services performed have little spiritual basis; rather, they are engaged because it is “the socially esteemed choice at the moment.” The report urges churches and Christians to instead support such action with a biblical perspective and be “recognized as people doing good deeds out of geniune love and compassion” in the name of Christ and as a display of the value of the Christian life to others.

5.  Increased tolerance. “Our biblical illiteracy and lack of spiritual confidence has caused Americans to avoid making discerning choices for fear of being labeled judgmental,” researchers explained. “The result is a Church that has become tolerant of a vast array of morally and spiritually dubious behaviors and philosophies.” Barna research shows there are fewer and fewer subjects about which Christians feel they should be morally absolute, and many equate “love” with “lack of conflict.” The challenge for the future will be balancing truth and love while understanding which tenets of their faith are non-negotiable and worth defending.

6.  Little visible impact of Christianity on culture and individual lives. Researchers say Americans today have a difficult time specifically identifying any particular value Christianity has added to the country’s culture; they can quickly name its faults, however. “The Christian Church is in desperate need of a more positive and accessible image,” says the report. In other words, Christians must display the fruit of their faith more often and more vividly, in public and in private, especially in the face of vast amounts of competing ideas and rapid communication available in today’s world. Only then will people’s observations of Christianity in action help them see the faith accurately and shape their perceptions of the faith in a positive way.

‘If it Ain’t about Jesus’

Back in the African American churches of the early nineties we had a saying, “if it ain’t about Jesus, it ain’t about nothin.” During the announcements, a silence; somewhat of a hush would come over the church, I took it as a rest from an active worship service. Slowly the pastor’s wife, we called her the first lady would begin to say, “welcome everyone, and an extra special welcome to our visitors we are glad you are here but more importantly God is glad you’re here.”

She would then continue to read the bulletin for that particular Sunday; she would run down the list of upcoming events and meetings.

After the list was completed she would usually put her two cents in and add some incouraging word. Most days she would offer a quote, a familiar chours of a good ole gospel song, but today it was different, it was a bold, stern, yet compassionate statement that she seemed oh so clear about, “if it ain’t about Jesus, it ain’t about nothin.”

In a time where we are concerned more about labels than what is lacking on the tables of 1.2 billion underfed people around the world. The world is looking at the church to see how it will move.

So we move, we write, we film, but not to eliminate hunger but to defend our beliefs. 30 percent of the books that came out last year had topics that defended the faith among other Christians. We are spending our time arguing about postmodernism, fundamentalism and every “ism” in between. News media did a lot of major broadcast about Christianity; most of it was turned to questions about the divisions of Christians over the war, Bush, and a pastor’s salary. These are the issues the world see’s us focusing on. How embarrassing for us, no how embarrassed for Jesus. 5% of kids in your city will sleep on the street, 11 % of adults will, but still church meetings are concerning themselves with the new sound system, the $700.00 graphic software or the new padded chairs. Somehow I don’t think this is what Jesus meant when he said it will cost a lot to follow him.

I still hear that echo, “if it ain’t about Jesus, then it ain’t about nothin.” Everytime I hear a theological argument, I hear, “if it ain’t about Jesus.”

The church today would rather stand behind a policy rather than a people, a conservative rather than a community.

I just say to myself, “if it ain’t about Jesus, it ain’t about nothing.”

My Desire

My desire is to approach these portions of Scripture, etc in a manner which the Jewish men and women call “Midrash.” Midrash can be defined as an ancient approach to Scripture interpretation that employs imaginative tools such as story, metaphor, argument and wordplay to search out the meaning of the text. It is a hermeneutic that understands that God gave us His Word not just as a text to be studied like a history book or a science text, but it is meant to be interacted with as one would face-to-face with another person. In that thought we search and find, we get to know bits and pieces and something will be revealed.

A REminder who we are

I want to share a teaching  of mine that I’ve been blessed to share with more people than i can count , and see an awesome reaction every time. On one special occasion I shared at a church I have been to only once, nobody but the leadership new me, I started and said how Jesus began to teach to a group about the Kingdom of God, and I pull out a bag of Mustard seeds and place one seed in each person’s hand directly in the center. I wait and let them observe the size of it, then I tell them, “Jesus said this mustard seed is a visual way to understand the men and women in the kingdom of God, the Greek word he used to describe this mustard seed is sinapi which is defined as being hurt, this is Jesus understanding us and letting us know the Kingdom of God isn’t full of perfect people, that’s what heaven is for, he understands we hurt and go through real life issues. The mustard seed has a protective shell on it that helps strengthen it to sustain itself during wind, rain, and drought. That seed is me, that seed is you, it is all of us.”

After I shared this, a young man came up to me and began to tell me how he’d gone to that church only three weeks and this was the only thing he understood. He said he’s heard of God speaking to other but in those three weeks he had heard nothing, until he heard this teaching, he thanked me and as I was walking away he said to me, “Now I know that God cares.” Some people just need a visual, physical, tangible love.

I offer a bag of mustard seeds FREE on my website store at rickymaye.com stop by and pick some up!