Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against obtaining knowledge through books, bible college and any other source. I tried that during the early years of my saved life, but circumstances prevented me from having the money to pay for bible college. So, God taught me on the streets.
I dropped out of high school physically in the 11th grade, but mentally I dropped out in the 5th grade. There is a long story behind the reasons why, but my point is I had a difficult journey getting where I am today. At the time I tested reading at an 8th grade reading level and math was basic math.
Today I have over 3 dozen certifications in techology, 3 bachelors degrees, 1 masters and a honorary doctrate degree. College in the technology world is not easy. It was more challenging for me because of my past experiences with education. It was a challenge obtaining them, but because of how God taught me on the streets, what was once hard to do, through Jesus Christ learning became easy. I trust in Christ more than my weaknesses and every single time, through him, I exceeded my own expections.
When I got saved
When I got saved I carried all of these things with me. The struggles of my childhood. Lack of finances. Lack of maturity and common sense. I struggled with racism. I remember when they started packing black people in buses to take them to all white schools and send the white kids to black schools. Living in the city of Detroit during the 60's and 70's at the height of the recent riots that burnt down parts of the city was hard on black people. Cops would literally pull over and snatch hats and things off the heads of black men; or put fear in us to prevent us from looking and acting a certain way. I experienced white flight and living in a neighborhood where I wasn't wanted. I remember walking home from elementary school and white people would make noises and sounds at me. A elderly neighbor two doors from me would constantly point at me and try to get their domesticated over weight dogs to attack me. We even witnessing them poisioning our dog. I've had numerous police experiences and physcal attacks from white people.
I carried all of these experiences with me when I came to the Lord. My greatest desire from God is to please him and to be blessed. I wanted to overcome and learn his ways so I could get out of my crisis.
When I approached problems I observed and dealt with them from what I knew. Because my knowledge of God was limited I depended heavily on listening to preaching, music and attending bible classes as my way of being educated about God. Don't get me wrong, they did give me substance, but they didn't answer my problems. I didn't grow spiritually because I heard preaching or teaching. My spiritual grow came from the streets dealing with my own problems and learning the best ways to answer them.
I knew I was different than other preachers. I remember one time sitting next to Elder Gibson while Bishop Bonner was preaching. Elder Gibson glanced at the notes I was taking while Bishop was preaching. He turned to me and said:
Wow! where did you hear that?
Referring to the notes I took from the preaching.
I don't remember exactly what I wrote that day but my response was this:
I'm writing what I hear the Lord says out of Bishop's mouth.
that's not what I'm hearing.
But this is what the Lord is telling me and showing me. This is what I see.
that is deep! I want to learn.
What was I doing different?
Jesus ask that we be careful how we hear. He continues by saying, how you hear affects what you hear. Let me break it down, then I will tell you what I was doing different from Elder Gibson.
- The natural man judge things from a single vantage point, self.
- The natural man cannot see, hear or comprehend the things of God.
- The natural man learns through expanding his current knowledge. If the knowledge he is building on is flawed then the outcomes from his actions will not create stability.
- The natural man is capable of knowing right, but not capable of performing it in a way that pleases God.
- The natural man's wisdom is in his experiences. If he lacks a particular experience to answer a problem he can usually find it somewhere in a person, book, media such as tv, radio, internet and etc.
- When we read a book. To understand the book (comprehend) education in some form is required. If the bible you read is in a foreign language you won't be able to understand it.
- The spirit man judges all things from a single vantage point, Jesus Christ's.
- The spiritual man discerns through the Holy Ghost. If he abides in the Holy Ghost, then his actions and responses to crisis are not the same as those who walk in the flesh.
- The Holy Ghost is his teacher, not books.
- The spiritual man learns by proving himself, not proving a thing like doctrine.
Just a side note: It bothered me to hear people quote Paul when he was writing to Timothy saying:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.
Preachers continue to say Paul was telling Timothy to study the book, whatever that book was and that somehow studying a book in a way that shows focus will somehow cause God to approve of you or they would say to prove his calling.
I have to disagree for several historical reasons.
- The Printing Press was not invented until the 15th century.
- Reading and writing was not common amongst the people. Look what the witnesses said about the saints who where filled with the Holy Ghost in the book of Acts. "These are unlearned folks, yet we hear them speak in our language the wonderful works of God...."
- So what was Paul asking Timothy to study?
- Timothy's grandmother taught him the old ways throughout his childhood. Could it be that? But was it a book?
My take on Pauls meaning comes from my own experiences and proof.
"...Don't count that thing you are going through as some strange, happening only to you. It's a common occurence in human nature. What you need to be aware of is that this strange this is to try you"
This is me paraphrasing Paul's writing. You are going to have problems in life. They could come from you, from your past or your social network of family, co-workers and friends. How you respond to them will determine how you learn, what you learn, the seeds you plant and the harvest you experience.
Everything you go through is an opportunity to learn something new about Jesus Christ and his ways. You must always ask the question when approaching a problem. If you were in my situation Jesus, how would you respond.
My experience is if you ask Christ to teach you. A opportunity will present itself for you to learn and to prove you.
So, studying to shew yourself approved means.
- You have stuff in you.
- Stuff in your thoughts and memories that need change or transformation. Rom 12:1-2
- You need to separate yourself from the world.
- You carry the world inside your memories and you access them to make decisions. You can do bad all by yourself and you can say some of the most offending things to yourself without being influenced.
- Your goal is change. What you see, hear, think, act and experience.
When you continue in Jesus Christ and remain focused, abide in him, and he in you. Truth manifests itself as an outcome from this behavior. But here is where things get a little touchy for Jesus Christ and you.
How you hear, is how you respond.
If the natural man is engage in the decision making, then surely you cannot please God. The spiritual man would go to Jesus Christ and get clarity on how to best act to solve the issue. Sometimes it doesn't work itself out until later in life. How quickly you overcome depends on how much fruit in Christ you bear. How much bad you experience and feel depends on how much of it is cast to Jeeus Christ.
I will keep you in perfect peace - those whose mind remains on me.
Back to Elder Gibson
So, Elder Gibson wanted to see as I saw things. But back then I had no words that made clear how I was doing it. But I know now.
- When I hear preaching or teaching I see it. Not with my eyes closed - but opened.
- I see my own life in the message. In the back of my mind I seek answers.
- Meanwhile Jesus Christ is directing me and talks with me about His perspective, making corrections and adding clarity so that it was easily applied to my own life.
For line must be upon line and precept upon precept
- I am able to filter information through Jesus Christ and hear it from his perspectives and write what he tells me and have dialog with him while I'm in the situation.
Books have its place
Books have their place. But if you are a child of God relying on a book to answer your call or problems. Technically, from God's definition - that is not why Christ came. To die and suffer in the manner he did, just so we can read about him. There is something wrong with that thought.
Look at our churches today. The problems they face from a spiritual perspective has little to do with church doctrine or any other thing they implement as a spiritual instrument. In the Old Testament, God made it very clear that he is going to destroy the wisdom of the wise. He will not send us to men to teach us, that he will come to us, and teach us his ways and write his laws in our heart. That's the prophecy to Adam and Jesus fufilled it through his sacrifice and the giving of his spirit to teach us ALL THINGS.
While my brothren were marrying, working good jobs, was confident in their stature and persona. Using their resources to go to bible college. I was poor, homeless, and could not afford a wife, bible school or sometimes a meal or shower.
It was a requirement to attend bible college in order to get my ministers certificate. But I could not afford it. So I stayed a minister for a long time and with frustration and hurt, I'd watch my fellow preachers elevate to Elder, Pastors, Bishops and positions in The COOLJC. Meanwhile I was suffering on the streets of Detroit, walking miles to get to church faithfully in the deed of winter to the hot humit summers in Detroit. I'd watch saints drive right past me as they were heading to church. But I kept walking and remainging faithful.
While they learned about Christ through education and rose to high heights - I learned on the streets of Detroit how to engage Jesus Christ for change.
Today I continue to learn this way proving myself worthy unto the Lord. Always studying my ways, and checking them against the ways and thoughts of Christ.
I've made lots of mistakes, but that is what grace is for. I just repented and moved forward; leaving behind me the things that would easily upset me.
God bless you.