Sunday, May 31, 2020

Big Floyd Left A Gospel Legacy In Houston, Or Did He?



 

AS A PERSON OF PEACE, “Big Floyd” opened up ministry opportunities in the Third Ward housing projects.

The rest of the country knows George Floyd from several minutes of cell phone footage captured during his final hours. But in Houston’s Third Ward, they know Floyd for how he lived for decades—a mentor to a generation of young men and a “person of peace” ushering ministries into the area.

Before moving to Minneapolis for a job opportunity through a Christian work program, the 46-year-old spent almost his entire life in the historically black Third Ward, where he was called “Big Floyd” and regarded as an “OG,” a de-facto community leader and elder statesmen, his ministry partners say
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Floyd spoke of breaking the cycle of violence he saw among young people and used his influence to bring outside ministries to the area to do discipleship and outreach, particularly in the Cuney Homes housing project, locally known as “the Bricks.”

“George Floyd was a person of peace sent from the Lord that helped the gospel go forward in a place that I never lived in,” said Patrick PT Ngwolo, pastor of Resurrection Houston, which held services at Cuney.

“The platform for us to reach that neighborhood and the hundreds of people we reached through that time and up to now was built on the backs of people like Floyd,” he told Christianity Today.
Ngwolo and fellow leaders met Floyd in 2010.

 He was a towering 6-foot-6 guest who showed up at a benefit concert they put on for the Third Ward. From the start, Big Floyd made his priorities clear.
“He said, ‘I love what you’re doing. The neighborhood need it, the community need it, and if y’all about God’s business, then that’s my business,’” said Corey Paul Davis, a Christian hip-hop artist who attended Resurrection Houston. “He said, ‘Whatever y’all need, wherever y’all need to go, tell ’em Floyd said y’all good. I got y’all.’”

The church expanded its involvement in the area, holding Bible studies and helping out with groceries and rides to doctor’s appointments. Floyd didn’t just provide access and protection; he lent a helping hand as the church put on services, three-on-three basketball tournaments, barbecues, and community baptisms.

“He helped push the baptism tub over, understanding that people were going to make a decision of faith and get baptized right there in the middle of the projects. He thought that was amazing,” said Ronnie Lillard, who performs under the name Reconcile. “The things that he would say to young men always referenced that God trumps street culture. I think he wanted to see young men put guns down and have Jesus instead of the streets.”

More than 50 people have been killed over the past several years in what authorities describe as a gang war spreading from the Third Ward and southeast Houston.

“His faith was a heart for the Third Ward that was radically changed by the gospel, and his mission was empowering other believers to be able to come in and push that gospel forth,” said Nijalon Dunn, who was baptized at Cuney. “There are things that Floyd did for us that we’ll never know until the other side of eternity. There were times where we’d have Church at the Bricks until 3 p.m., and by 4:30, they’re firing shots right at the basketball courts.”

Dunn shared pictures of Floyd at his baptism and basketball games. Floyd’s handle included the name “BigFloyd4God.”

Tributes and prayers of lament from fellow Christians rolled in over social media as the news of Floyd’s death spread this week. On Twitter, Davis described Floyd as “the definition of ‘Be the change you want to see’” and shared a video tribute that has been viewed 1.1 million times. Popular Christian hip-hop artist Propaganda reposted the reflections from fellow artists who knew Floyd saying, “He was a friend of my friends.”

Floyd moved to Minnesota around 2018, his family told the Houston Chronicle. He was there for a discipleship program including a job placement, according to pastor Ngwolo. “A ‘Bricks boy’ doesn’t just leave the Third Ward and go to Minnesota!” he said. Floyd told Dunn he had plans to return this summer.

Though he never made it home, he’ll be “immortalized in the Third Ward community forever,” Lillard said. “His mural will be on the walls. Every youth and young man growing up will know George Floyd. The people who knew him personally will remember him as a positive light. Guys from the streets look to him like, ‘Man, if he can change his life, I can change mine.’”

Ministry leaders have heard from community members in the Third Ward who called Floyd their brother, uncle, or even their dad because they lacked older male figures to serve as a positive influence.
Mourners gathered Tuesday night for a prayer vigil in Emancipation Park, a historic Third Ward site that was once the only park open to African Americans in Houston during Jim Crow segregation. Ngwolo is meeting this week with area pastors to lament together

Ahmaud Arbery and the Trauma of Being a Black Runner

I wish the world saw me as a Christian first, not as a threat.

The viral video of Floyd pinned to the pavement by a Minnesota police officer joins a devastating canon of cell phone footage depicting police using force against black men. His friends in ministry said that when it turned up on the news they weren’t ready to watch another clip so soon after the recording of Ahmaud Arbery being shot while jogging in Georgia and the video of a woman calling 911 on a black man watching birds in New York’s Central Park. But then Lillard texted: It was Big Floyd.

There’s only so much disbelief they can muster from this kind of killing. They’re black men too. Despite their innocence, their faith, their good deeds, they have their own stories of being suspected, humiliated, and threatened by authorities, Lillard told CT.

And now they’re put in the position of rightly remembering a man they knew as a gentle giant, an inspiration to his neighborhood, and a positive force for change. But they also say that shouldn’t matter. He was a fellow image-bearer, and that should have been enough to keep him from the aggressive treatment they saw in the viral clip. Floyd’s family and supporters say the officers involved—who were fired from the department—should face murder charges.

Pastor Ngwolo is still trying to process the news, but one theme he keeps coming back to is the shedding of innocent blood. After Cain’s superiority and animosity drove him to kill Abel, Scripture tells us, “The Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground’” (Gen. 4:10).

“If you fast-forward 2,000 years, there’s another innocent sufferer whose blood spoke of better things than Abel’s. … Jesus’ blood says he can redeem us through these dark and perilous times,” Ngwolo said. “I have hope because just like Abel is a Christ figure, I see my brother [Floyd] as a Christ figure as well, pointing us to a greater reality. God does hear us. He hears his cry even from the ground now. Vengeance will either happen on the cross or will happen on Judgment Day.”

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Pentecost: Jesus Sends the Holy Spirit to Launch His Church To the Ends of the Earth


THE EARLY CHAPTERS OF ACTS @ THE BIBLE PROJECT ARE BELOW

Way to Go! Elon and NASA Lift Our Spirits Towards the Heavens and Space Again!

ROGER SIMON: LET ELON MUSK SHOW THE WAY, NOT THE RIOTERS
MAKING SPACE EXPLORATION GREAT AGAIN!  What a great accomplishment especially from the private sector.  Congratulations to Elon Musk, NASA and everyone who participated in today's sensational liftoff. We needed it after the past months and last few days.

Way to go!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Systemic Racism and Heavy Handedness in Our Country By Law Enforcement Has Got to Stop

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: OFFICER WHO MURDERERED GEORGE FLOYD ARRESTED
 
 12-Year-Old gospel singer Keedron Bryant plaintively singing a dirge for himself and his kind above.

THE TRAGIC MURDER OF MR. FLOYD IN MINNEAPOLIS SHOULD BRING ABOUT new  stringent protocols for apprehending black men---and all people actually---and new stronger punishments for law enforcement officers, active or retired, who violate anyone's right to life and  Constitutional Rights for due process of and equal protections under the laws of the United States of America. These kind of incidents MUST stop, for once and for all. And brutal murders no matter what the extenuating circumstances MUST be met with the harshest of consequences.

No question that Mr. Floyd's sadistic killer was a sick and unbalanced man.  But  police protocols need to find and ferret out these sickos before they do such damage to the 98% of good law enforcement men and women and to our country.

May God help and have mercy on us all.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Another Solid Joy: Test of Real Verses Phony Faith


PASTOR JOHN PIPER EXPLAINS HERE. 


Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)

Are you eagerly awaiting His return?  Do you pray that those you love to be saved in the meantime?  

ALSO,   The Payout For Patience.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Sunday Devotional With Pastor John Piper: Five Digital Dangers


FOR ME,  THE FIRST AND SECOND ONES  can be issues and temptations though I have drastically cut back on my online time these days.

LISTEN HERE

1) The hook of constant curiosity

Personal computers offer a never-ending possibility for discovery. Even the basic environment of Windows can consume hours and days and weeks of curious punching and experimenting. Color schemes, layouts, screen-savers, short-cuts, icons, file-managing, calculators, clocks, calendars, etc. Then there are the endless software applications consuming weeks of your time as they lure you into their intricacies. All this is very deceptive, giving the illusion of power and effectiveness, but leaving you with a feeling of emptiness and nervousness at the end of the day. RESOLUTION: I will strictly limit my experimental time in the computer and devote myself more to the truth than to technique.

2) The empty world of virtual (un)reality

How sad to see brilliant, creative people pouring hours and days of their lives into creating cities and armies and adventures that have no connection with reality. We have one life to live. All our powers are given to us by the REAL God for the REAL world leading to a REAL heaven and REAL hell. RESOLUTION: I will spend my constructive, creative energy not in the unreality of “virtual reality” but in the reality of the real world.

3) "Personal" relations with PC

Like no other invention, the personal computer comes closest to being like a person. You can play games with it. There are programs that will dialogue with you about your personality. It will talk to you. It will always be there for you. It is smarter than your dog. The great danger here is that we really become comfortable with this manageable electronic “person,” and gradually drift away from the unpredictable, frustrating, sometimes painful dealings with humans persons. RESOLUTION: I will not replace the risk of personal relationships with impersonal electronic safety.

4) The risk of tryst

“Tryst \‘trist\ noun: An agreement (as between lovers) to meet." Sexual affairs begin in private time together, extended conversation, and the sharing of soul. It can now be done in the absolute seclusion of your private email screen name. It can be immediate and “live,” or delayed and “recorded.” You can think that “it’s just nothing”—until she shows up in town. RESOLUTION: I will not cultivate a one-on-one relationship with a person of the opposite sex other than my spouse. If I am single I will not cultivate such a relationship with another person’s spouse.

5) PC Porn

More insidious that X-rated videos, we can now not only watch but join the perversity in the privacy of our own den. Interactive porn will allow you to “do it” or make them “do it” with your mouse. I have never seen it. Nor do I ever intend to. It kills the spirit. It drives God away. It depersonalizes women. It quenches prayer. It blanks out the Bible. It cheapens the soul. It destroys spiritual power. It defiles everything. RESOLUTION: I will never open any program for sexual stimulation nor purchase or download anything pornographic.
On the alert with you and Jesus,
John Piper


Monday, May 11, 2020

Ask Pastor John: What Is Grace, Really?

 IT'S A SOFTBALL QUESTION TO PASTOR JOHN, but it's still worth defining again.

Audio Transcript
What is grace? It seems like a simple question, but the answer has a lot of different angles to it. It is a recent email from a podcast listener named Heather. “Hello, Pastor John! I’m shy to ask this question because I’m embarrassed to admit that I struggle to understand one of the most commonly used words in the church today. That word is ‘grace.’ I often hear it defined as ‘unmerited favor’ or ‘getting what you don’t deserve.’ And I do understand it this way in the context of Ephesians 2:8 NKJV: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.’
“But I don’t understand it in the context of texts like 2 Corinthians 12:9: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Or 1 Corinthians 15:10: ‘But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.’ I don’t understand ‘grace’ in these verses. Can you explain it to me?”

Well, one of the reasons I love this question — and I know I say that a lot because I love what we do here. I love all these questions. Actually, some of them are too hard to love. But this one is a softball to me because those verses that she is troubled by are some of my favorites.

But here’s one of the reasons I love this question: it gives me a chance to say to Heather and to everybody that we’re all really in this together, and I don’t have any special advantage over you in answering these questions except maybe that I’ve had a little more practice. In other words, what I do when I hear a question like this is something Heather could do or anybody could do.

Putting the Pieces Together

I open my Bible and I get my concordance, and I look up all occurrences of grace in the Bible. There are 131 uses of grace in the ESV — 124 in the New Testament, 86 of which are from the apostle Paul, which means two-thirds of all the uses of the word grace in the Bible are in one author: Paul. No wonder he’s called “the apostle of grace.”

So, I say that to encourage Heather (not that she shouldn’t have written in; I’m glad to have the question) and everyone else that there’s nothing magical about holding an office in the church, like pastor, and there’s nothing magical about having a degree and doing scholarship in the academy. We all go about answering questions pretty much the same way. Look at all the Bible has to say, and then do your best to see how it all fits together, all the while being humble and submitting your mind to what the Bible teaches.

You are always bracketing your preconceptions and trying to build your conceptions out of all the pieces of the Bible. It’s like a puzzle, where you’re trying to put the picture together with all the pieces. And you know, because it’s God’s word, that these pieces are going to fit. If they don’t fit in this life, they’re going to fit in the next. But we work on it as much as we can.

Grace as Undeserved Favor

So, to answer her question, let’s just limit ourselves to Paul, whom she quoted, and to the two uses of grace that she saw. On the one hand, grace is called — and I think it’s an absolutely wonderful phrase — undeserved favor.
  • Romans 3:24: “[We] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Grace is what inclines God to give gifts that are free and undeserved by sinners.
  • Romans 5:15: “If many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” So, grace is that quality in God that produces free gifts for guilty sinners in salvation.
  • Romans 11:5–6: “At the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” So, you can’t work to earn grace. It is free and undeserved.
Now, that’s what most of us have in our minds when we say God is a God of grace. And that’s true. It’s wonderful. Our eternal lives depend on it. None of us would be saved if grace were not undeserved favor, and were not a quality in the mind of God, in the heart of God, in the nature of God.

Grace as Power for Living

But then Heather rightly notices another group of passages, also in Paul, where he comes at grace a little differently.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” Now, that seems to picture grace as a power or an influence for obedience.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9: Jesus says to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder [that was the effect of grace] than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
In all three of those texts — and they’re not the only ones — grace is not only a disposition or a quality or an inclination in the nature of God, but is an influence or a force or a power or an acting of God that works in us to change our capacities for work and suffering and obedience.

Adjusting Our Categories

So, what I do when I see things like this in the Bible is to adjust my categories in my head. I won’t say, “Oh, well that can’t be, because I’ve got this category in my head.” No, no, no. You fix the categories in your head.

If once I thought of grace only as a character trait or a disposition or an inclination in the nature of God, which moved him to treat sinners better than they deserve — if that was my only conception, once upon a time — now, having seen all the texts, I broaden my understanding of grace as the Bible uses the term. Now I say, “Well, it appears that the word grace in Paul’s use not only refers to God’s character trait or disposition or inclination to treat people better than we deserve, but the word grace also refers to the action or the power or the influence or the force of this disposition, which produces real, practical outcomes in people’s lives, like being sufficient for good deeds or enduring the thorn in the flesh or working harder than everybody else, which Paul says about his own apostolic work.”

Now, that does not mean you have to give up that simple definition of undeserved favor. That’s true. That’s a good definition. It just means that the word also embraces the encouraging truth — at least I love the truth; that’s why these verses are so precious to me — that this favor overflows in powerful, practical helpfulness from God in your daily life where you most need it. That help is also called grace because it’s free and it’s undeserved.

Draw Near with Confidence

So, let me end with a precious verse that we all know and love and maybe have never thought about in this term of grace. Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace.” That’s a throne with the quality and the character and the inclination to treat people better than they deserve. That’s the kind of throne we’re coming to. But then it says, “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Or a more literal translation: “that we may find mercy and grace for a well-timed help.”

It is incredibly encouraging that God’s grace is both the inclination of the divine heart to treat us better than we deserve and is the extension of that inclination in practical help.