Why I Worship: JESUS
God is the single most important thing for me. I have had a 20-year journey with God. I thank God that I was given mercy and time to grow in my love for God. Which is why I’m thankful for seminary. More importantly than seminary though was the fact that since I was a young man, I have been in love with Jesus. I have had a relationship with God since I was a little kid. But it was when I was 17 in Newburgh, NY that it began and it sustained me in prison and saved me after release.
Why I worship God? Because He is faithful and just. The bible is the book of God. I found that I could change anything in my life, through the application of this book. God is faithful, his purpose and plans are accomplished regardless of the directions I choose. In the end, he is a loving father and he is the one who runs to us. I worship God because I’m lost without him. I need God like a recovering alcoholic needs the rooms of alcoholic anonymous.
The first time I heard Kirk Franklin’s, “The Storm Is Over Now” I felt the pain leaking out of my eyes and covering my face, I felt the confusion and pain, leaving my body, leaving me empty and open to receive a new lexicon. A lexicon of mercy and grace. I worship God because I see results. Many years later now, if I didn’t see another sign I would still worship him, because He gave me that peace in prison, and after that peace, he’s still God, He’s in love with us, He’s the God of the universe and I’m lavished in his love.
I worship because there is no other source of salvation in the entire galaxy. There is no other hope. I tried Alcohol, drugs, sex, being a workaholic, the music scene, the art scene, engaging in every form of social justice there is, fighting for the rights of animals, spending hours and hours with the poor and the destitute. Fighting for the rights of the oppressed in prison. All this for what, I spent hours in class and in the library, I spent hours in bars arguing for the existence of God. I spent time reading numerous text on salvation outside of God, but there is no one who can melt my heart, there is no one that when I hear his name, I instantaneously experience healing, peace, comfort, joy, hope, salvation, change, and confidence. In Jesus, I can do anything and outside of him, it just doesn’t feel right.
This world is obsessed with finding a salvation outside of the God of Israel, but there is no other name in which we are saved, no other name but Jesus! No other name but Yeshua, Adonai, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Nisei, El Shaddai, Mighty King, King of Kings, Alpha and Omega, Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father… Jesus is the salvation for the world. I respect and trust people of other faiths. I know that for other people their religion’s help them in life, but as a pastor of Christian tradition, I believe in the gospel of Jesus, there is no other name.
I believe that worship should lead us into harmony with our neighbors. We don’t need to be at war. Why are we at war? Is it over God, or is it over oil? It’s oil. Jesus, is salvation. For so many who don’t take the time to understand what this faith means, there is push back because we have not given them authenticity. I worship God because this is my passion, my sustenance. I really don’t have anything else. I’m not super good looking, I don’t have great business acumen, I don’t have a steller academic history, I didn’t even finish high school, but I believe in the God of heaven.
By believing in the God of Heaven. The one we read recorded in the “book” the bible, we learn about a God that was committed to a people with no home or land. We see a God committed to a people that continually left God, we see a people that continuously without fail went back to the culture they were called out from. We see a people choosing empire over a savior. We see a people so helplessly in love with themselves that they ask the God of Heaven for a king to rule them, because trusting God just isn’t working. I worship because it was God and God alone.
I preach Christ crucified but I also preach life and possibility. In the past, few months I have seen my life change so radically. Let me share just briefly what God has done since January.
In January, my grandfather passed away. He was a mighty man of God a pastor in Upstate New York from the Wesleyan tradition. Around that same time, I came back to NJ from Florida. While with my family I mourned the final stage of my divorce, and I embraced a new journey. I began to pay tithes and offering to a church I wasn’t even completely sure about but their pastor was speaking into my life. I began a transition from Vegan to eating meat again. I began a class called Preaching and Worship with Rev. Dr. Edward Hunt. This class would be the final piece to God’s wonderful message in my life.
I was learning how to eat again, I had vitamin deficiencies, anemia, I felt like I would break in half. See, the previous year I was drinking every day all day, I would stop for work and then go back to it when I got home to Jersey. But, in it I knew that there was more for me. I know now that I was simply grieving the loss of my exwife that it was normal. I thank God for professionals who can help us understand this. But, I was forging toward a new life. I began to attend Hillsong Church NYC regularly and joined there StreetTEAMS ministry encouraging our friends on the street (homeless, incarcerated, addicted etc). I found my faith rise. But it started with worship…
See in May of that previous year, I attended my first service at Hillsong. I was skeptical and doubted but I needed to sing, I needed to hear good worship music, I needed God, I was involved in some things and it was doing nothing for me. I just wanted my exwife back. I was in the service, and we sang a song called, “broken vessels (amazing grace)” This song moved me, and I found myself saying, JESUS you’re here. You’re in this place, you’re in a mega church, how is that possible. But I joined the church in January and I gotta say it was amazing and it’s been amazing to be a part. I recently was moved into leadership of the StreetTEAMS ministry where I mentor a couple captains and inspire them to inspire the volunteers. It’s amazing, we call this “Occupy All Streets” it’s a blessing, to see the world beyond politics and activism into a real-life work of God.
It’s May 22, 2017 I have grown so much. Thank to that class in January I know that I’m called and that I will be equipped. I’m not supposed to be perfect or so good, but to be reliant on God. I know that the health, sustenance and belief of people is contingent on my health, belief and sustenance. I know that I worship a God that can change the courts, he can turn a judge in your favor, he can give you a career helping folks that you were told you will never work with, he is the God of Israel and the Bible is where I can learn about him and the Holy Spirit is how I know God never leaves me!!!
I’d like to end this with a couple bars from Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace),
“All these pieces
broken and scattered
in mercy gathered
mended and whole
but not forsaken
I’ve been set free”
“You take our failure
You take our weakness
You set your treasure
in jars of clay
so, take this heart, Lord
I’ll be your vessel
the world to see
your life in me”.