Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Can I Get a Witness??

Scurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..let me slide on in here running top speed and gliding across the stage with a big smile on my face. With my coordination (or lack thereof), I’d probably slide right past the podium and end up falling off the stage and crashing into the cymbals section of the orchestra pit.

But like every determined superhero, of the likes of Maxwell Smart and the legendary Super Dave Osborne, I’d ease my way back up to microphone, still smiling and ready to perform my task while bandaged and bleeding. It’s all good. I’m alright. God prepared me for this, even before I was formed in my mother’s womb.

When I pass one of my business cards to people I meet in the street and tell them to check out the website, a lot of them look at me funny. Women try to figure out if I’m trying to ‘hook up’ with them on the cool.

“Naww baby, it ain’t like that. I already have a beautiful and talented leading lady in my life that I love to come home to and the God that I serve that forbids adultery..I ain’t trying to get down like that, not even for a couple of minutes. Just check out the website and if you like it, pass the link along to others in your email group.”

Then my wife would probably say something like, "What the hell are you doing calling some other woman 'baby'???"

When I give my cards out to dudes, they're a lot more visual. The women focus on the name and the title on the card. The dudes are trying to see if it's one of those naked picture sites, they're looking for pictures and they tend to notice the cross first..

“Whatchu sellin? Bibles or something?”

“It’s a publishing company. We sell printed materials.”

“Chief Executive Writer’?? write books?”

“Among other things.”

“What kind of books?”

“Whateva you want we got it, either soft or solid.”

Writing is an exercise that has caused me to reach down deep inside and truly realize what it means to be D.E. Washington, Southside Christian Writer.

I had to figure out what it meant to be able to go out and come in. Some of the things I write ‘undercover’. People can read it and have no idea what God I believe in, because it never comes up.

There’s an infinite range of topics to cover on a blank page. You can talk about the supernatural, you can talk about how to make Quick and Easy Abbeville Etouffee, you can talk about the male prostate in Fingerwaves or even examining how gasoline prices are set in Prices At the Pump. But I realized that if I really wanted to help people, the best thing I could do is tell them what I know about Jesus.

If you ain't telling people that Jesus is real..what iz you sayin???

It wasn’t too long before I realized I had to get focused on a purpose, because I knew that I’m too crazy to freestyle all the time. I’d end up writing mindless drivel and making people think that I’m a certified whacko that needs to be locked up in a rubber room somewhere. My wife tells me that people already think I’m nuts, but I prefer to think that I have ya'll fooled.

You DO think I’m ‘normal’..right?.

No? I didn’t fool you? Oh…how odd..oh well..back to the story.

Our Sunday School lesson this past week (Acts 6:8 – 7:60) was on Stephen. Stephen has the distinction of being the first martyr of the early church. He was stoned to death for preaching the gospel of Christ. He wasn’t stoned by a band of street thugs, but rather by an angry mob of church folks. Folks who felt like they were God's only chosen people and that they had the inside track to the one true God and they didn’t want to hear anyone preach anything different. Pharisees and Saduccees. The Sanhedrin Council.

Stephen’s sermon before his execution is an inspiring exposition on the history of the nation of Israel; from Abraham’s act of faith all the way to the crucifixion and resurrection of the promised Messiah. Stephen was telling that story straight from the Word and the haters were so frustrated with Stephen’s words of truth, that they had to start lying on him and eventually killed him, just to silence his voice.

The final aim of the lesson was for us to DETERMNE to remain loyal to Christ despite opposition and persecution that we may face because of our faith.

That’s not mine, I copied that from our Young Adult Sunday School Book published by Urban Ministries. ( I think they do a very good job in writing lessons that are very informative, Bible based and encouraging. The past editor, Katara Washington (no relation, that we know of) has been a visitor to and I think the new editor, Aja Carr, is doing a fantastic job with her pen skills.

I know most servinemup readers probably rarely (if ever) attend Sunday School. Everyone has their own reasons why they do not study the Word, to show themselves approved unto God. But in the end, they’re really just excuses. Because there is no plausible reason for refusing to study the Word for yourself that does not reek of disobedience.

God’s children are just like our children today, spoiled and hard headed. Spoiled children don’t think about what their parents have to go through to get them the desires of their heart. Spoiled children are only concerned about themselves. How can they get more? I want it, and I want it RIGHT NOW!

Combine these spoiled and selfish kids with all the hard heads, who have to be constantly told the same things over and over and over. Pretty soon that hard head will cause bumps and bruises to start showing up. The world avoids no one, if you keep running out there in those streets, you’re bound to get hit by a car at some time or another.

That’s where I come into the picture. I’m one of those Hardheads that God protected and saved even when I didn’t want to be saved. My early recollections of going to church weren’t happy thoughts. I hated it.

I hated having to get up early on a weekend day. I hated having to comb my hair and put on some uncomfortable clothes that I couldn’t wrestle in the dirt in. I hated having to sit still in the church pew. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t laugh, I couldn’t play, I couldn’t was much like being in hell as far as I was concerned.

I even thought that if Heaven was like being in church all the time, I didn’t want to go.

BOOOO!! Church is BORING mane!!

Do we have any other alternatives? Is there a heaven for thug n’gaz??

It wasn’t until I started going through things in life that made me realize that I wasn’t in control of sh’t, that I began to seek God for direction. It’s hard for control freaks like me to put that pride aside and submit.

Sometimes we may even fool ourselves into thinking we’ve submitted,you might even be going to church a lil bit, but you really don’t know until God requires you to do something that you don’t want to do (like remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy). That’s when you realize if you’ve really submitted or you’re just paying Him that lip service. Don’t fool yourself.

I didn’t even fully realize that concept of submitting, until I was put in the position were I felt like my wife was refusing to submit to me.

“What do you mean you ain’t got to do what I tell you to do??!!”

My blood raged and my eyes watered. I got so angry that I wanted to shake her like a bobble head doll and impose my strength on her to MAKE her do what I told her to do. (Or not do, I can’t even remember)

But instead of strangling her and instead of withdrawing myself from her, I instead immersed myself in the Word. Because I knew it had that part in there about wives submitting to husbands, and I had to figure out how to make that Word work for me in my life.

I know it sounds devilish and manipulative, but that’s just the kind of control freak I am..or rather, I was. I no longer pick up the Bible looking for verses to prove others wrong, instead I study my Word now intent on learning more about following that path that God has laid down for me to follow.

It’s dark out there in them woods ya’ll and the trail to glory is not always easy to maneuver. I’m working on my salvation with fear and trembling just like the rest of the Believers in this world.

But what I discovered, was that as I studied that word, from ‘in the beginning’ to ‘may the grace of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen’, God spoke directly to me. And as I started lining up my walk to what thus saith the LORD, my wife fell in step right beside me and submission (or lack of) was no longer an issue.

I picked up the Bible as a skeptic, almost daring God to prove to me that it was really the complete and inerrant Word of God. By the time I had finished the Pentateuch, I was in awe and reverence and by the time I got to that 55th chapter of Isaiah, I was a believer. I accepted Christ’s invitation to abundant life and I have not looked back. Actually I can’t turn back, there is no other place for me to go. I’m leaning on those everlasting arms.

All those doubts I used to have about who REALLY knew God were erased. He gave me a peace of knowing and believing and it’s not something that I earned. Salvation is a gift from God that is extended to every living soul with an open heart.

But the sad fact that I had to come to grips with, is that everyone is not going to accept the invitation. Everyone is not going to believe. Everybody ain’t go make it to that other side. Some folks are going to keep dallying around, playing with God, putting off any true service to Him, waiting until they get older before they start lining up to His Word.

The problem with this, is that tomorrow is promised to no man. And you never want to go into that curve at a high speed, knowing that you weren’t going to live to see the next day and not have any fruit to bring to the table.

The ‘lick’ that Christianity promises is everlasting rest in the presence of the LORD. That’s what the Word says. We don’t get that lick by our works. To get access into the kingdom, you have to believe that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.. We are justified by faith and faith only.

So yes, you can believe ‘on the cool’ if you want to, but God has a dire warning for a lot of those procrastinators out there who take their time in coming into His house.

It seems in those last days, there will be a lot of ‘believers’ banging on the doors of heaven, trying to gain access, trying to flee from the torment and anguish behind them. And God is going to look through the peephole and shake His head as He turns away and says, “I never knew you.” (Luke 13:22-30)

You have to focus on your personal relationship with the LORD. You have to seek Him. You have to strive to know Him.

So the questions comes, “how do you really know that you know?”

A good litmus test, is to ask the question, "after you get through doing whatever it is you do..who gets the glory? Are you a fruitful servant? Are you spreading the Word?"

Witnessing can be an intimidating task.

“If I start telling people about Jesus, then they’re going to start bringing up all the dirt that I’ve done in my life.”

No one can change the past, but if not for anything else, witnessing to others about the goodness of Christ will strengthen your game. It will make you more cognizant of your walk. Are you stealing, robbing, lying and cheating like the pagan world? Or are you letting your light so shine before men?

No matter how scary it may seem, to open your mouth and profess Christ in an unbelieving world , when you read about real soldiers like Stephen, who refused to compromise or remain silent about his faith in Christ, even to the point of death? It will strengthen your walk and your determination.

As narrow and winding that Christian path may be, God made sure we had a guidebook to demonstrate and remind us that this path has been trodden by many Christian soldiers marching onward, single file throughout history. All the way back to the trail that Jesus left at Calvary.

Whether people laugh at you, or put you under closer scrutiny at work because you are proclaiming God’s name, are very small prices to pay, when you consider the torment, anguish and even death that others went through while spreading the gospel of Christ.

If you just can’t bring yourself to open your mouth. Even if you can’t find the courage to forward the link to others in your email groups, because you don’t want others to think you were down with a ‘Jesus freak’ like D.E. Washington, don’t give up.

Keep studying that Word and praying to the LORD for direction and purpose. He will lead you to where He wants you to be and what He wants you to do for His kingdom here on earth. To that, I am a living witness.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." - Romans 1:16 KJV