Victorious faith

1 John 5:1-5

The Reverend Adam T. Carrington died on January 26, 2023. He was a faithful witness to the Corpus Christi community. He won’t go down in church history as an internationally-known preacher.

But he made an impact here.

He impacted me, for sure.

Unfortunately, I can’t say we were friends. I only met him a couple of times. He and I should’ve been friends. I would’ve been better for it. Our interactions were short, but I could tell there was a passion within his soul. We said we’d touch base later, but you know how that can go.

We never did.

I admired his ministry. No, he wasn’t flashy or innovating. The conversations we had were mostly about how to reenergize ministry post-Covid. How to keep connections strong since people were still at home and not out as before. As far as digital ministry, he wasn’t doing anything exceptional. He seemed interested in a few of the tips I mentioned to him.

What he lacked in technological know-how he made up for a million times over with love for his people. That’s what came across in our interactions. His community was in trouble, and not just his church. They had been facing outside pressures for a long time and he stood as a defender of their rights as best he could.

He was a blessing.

And I know it was his faith that moved him forward. Not just a faith that says, “Jesus loves me.” That’s powerful enough. Knowing we’re loved is essential to understanding our place before God. But Brother Carrington knew Jesus loved all us little children of the world. Coupled with an assurance of God’s love, he had  a victorious faith that knew God has conquered the world.

Because of his strong faith, it didn’t make sense to watch people suffer. It wasn’t God’s will for people to be taken advantage of. So, he worked and he believed. I don’t know how far his ministry stretched. But I can tell you it inspired mine. Before you can have a faithful ministry, you have to have a victorious faith.

God uses the faith, the victorious faith of not-so-flashy, ordinary Christians like you and me to bring light and life to the world. Thank you, Brother Carrington, for witnessing that to us.

Stay blessed…john

Time to party

Deuteronomy 16:18-20

I had the joy of speaking at an MLK event last week. We joined a march from City Hall to a local church. Those who stayed at the church joined in song, prayer and reflection. The event leader introduced me, among things, as an Eagles fan. I had an uphill climb!

But I’m confident I won the crowd over with my message “Late to the party.”

When it comes to justice, some people will be late to the party. To be sure, some people don’t want to come to the justice party. They like the old party. 

Even so, we keep celebrating God’s justice. In a sense, we party when we see glimpses of justice rolling on like a river (Amos 5:24). We thank God when justice reigns and cry out when it does not. My point was that as we continue to pursue justice, others will finally join the effort. 

Thanks be to God!

And I also wanted to emphasize how much the Lord desires justice among us. This isn’t a random idea we created. It has always been a vision of God for how we live as God’s people.

Moses taught the Israelites in the wilderness what it meant to be faithful to God. Can you guess one of the things he taught them? They were to practice justice. He reiterates what he wants the people to know: Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue (Deuteronomy 16:20). 

Only justice?

What about love, compassion and truthfulness? What of holiness? Well, is not justice fulfilled a form of them all? How can we say we love our neighbor if we can’t be bothered with the reality of the injustices they face? How holy are we if injustice doesn’t bother us enough to do something about it?

Speaking of MLK, I read an article yesterday that mentioned a plaque in Dallas dedicated to him. Apparently, the plaque quotes Micah 6:8 but attributes the words of the prophet to MLK. 

But they are God’s words of justice. God’s desire for our connected lives.

This is always going to matter to God. So, it’s time to get to the justice party! 

Stay blessed…john

What Jesus did

Luke 1:67-79

I was listening to a preacher yesterday. He had a lot to say, but something he said about the Apostle’s Creed came to mind today as I read from Luke 1. The Apostle’s Creed does not quote Jesus. It does not highlight any of his teaching. Rather, it’s emphasis is on what Jesus did.

He suffered. He was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead, he rose and ascended to heaven. And our final hope is he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Focusing on what Jesus did helps us appreciate more who he was. Not only a rabbi. Not just a moral teacher or miracle worker. But the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Luke 1 tells of the birth of John the Baptist. On the eighth day, his parents took him to the temple for his circumcision and naming. Tradition would have led his parents to name him Zechariah, after his father. The angel Gabriel, though, had already told him to name the child John.

Zechariah had been mute since Gabriel’s vision. At the temple, he is able to speak again and begins with a prophecy about John. Zechariah speaks of what John will do. He will be a prophet and go before the Lord to prepare his ways. John will give his people knowledge of salvation.

Will he use words to do so? Sure. But we recognize what his ministry meant by recalling what he did. Jesus said “among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). Why? Because of what he did.

As Christians, we speak often of the things we say we believe. Naming our beliefs is helpful, no doubt. What we do with our lives, however, speaks more clearly what Jesus means to us. Do actions speak louder than words? Not always, but often enough.

Enough that in Zechariah’s prophecy we see much more of what God did than hear of what God said. Even the oath God made with Abraham included the charge for God’s people to serve God without fear. 

Do we do that with words? Sometimes, we do. Still, we should pay closer attention to what we actually do as a result of what we say we believe. 

Stay blessed…john