Archive for the ‘Responsible Christianity’ Category

When you meet Jesus it changes your destination.

That changes the way you think about life.

That changes how you perceive other people.

That changes the way you act and behave.

That changes the way people view you.

That changes the way others perceive Christ.

That changes their willingness to address Christ.

That changes their destination.

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Urban Ministries is the largest independent, African American-owned and operated Christian media company. They publish Christian resources, including Sunday School and Vacation Bible School curricula, books, movies, and websites designed for African American churches and others seeking a diverse, Christ-centered perspective on faith and life issues.

http://www.urbanministries.com/

Dismanling Racism by Joseph Barndt, Author.  Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Books, 1991.Here is a book about racism in America, written “for white people and about white people . . . by a white person.”Joseph Barndt, defining racism as “prejudice plus power,” asserts that efforts against racism have often been incorrectly focused on minority populations rather than the majority. “The cause of racism is in the white society. The effects are felt in the communities of color,” he writes. Rather than attempting to soften the effects, we need to attack the cause.

The book examines individual, institutional, and cultural racism, and includes a section on racism and the church—with particular attention to the European American traditions inherited by white congregations, which Barndt refers to provocatively as a contemporary “circumcision crowd.” The author asks congregations to incorporate multicultural aspects in its worship before the congregation becomes multicultural and to work to achieve a pluralistic, not racist, witness to the world.

and consider that…

 “At the center of the Christian faith is the reminder that the time is
always right to do the right thing,” Turner said. “The church can and must
provide moral leadership that helps move the world’s nations into people of
transformation. The church has the capacity to transform itself to be an
agent of change, but this only happens when the church is engaged in the
struggle for justice.”

                                                                                                            -Rev. Otis Turner, 1996

 

Here is a wonderful program in Hoffman Estates that serves homeless and at-risk moms and their.  These are moms in need of need of housing, support, serving, and most importantly, hope. Its a very worthwhile program in need of both moral and financial support. You can find further information at the following website.

http://www.fhcmoms.org/

A story about getting a second chance in the Chicago area. We believe in fresh coffee and fresh starts. We roast our Specialty Grade coffee fresh daily in small batches so you can enjoy the natural flavor and aroma of each bean. And we help ex-offenders get a fresh start by providing gainful employment, job training and a nurturing community of acceptance. Passion + purpose. It’s a beautiful thing.

See their website at:

http://www.ihaveabean.com/

See the Tribune story at:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-second-chance-coffee-w-zone-oct14,0,6010009.story

A great story about using soccer to fight gang violence in South Africa. Go to:

Also go the following ABC Nightline link:

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/soccer-bars-south-african-prison-soccer-team-turns/story?id=11064441

 Each year the Lake County Jail releases approximately 1,000 women back into our community.  Ninety percent are single moms; 59% do not have high school diplomas, 47% are homeless (or have no positive, crime free place to return to) and only 20% had minimum wage jobs prior to incarceration.   Without positive intervention many of these ladies will return to the street economy drugs and prostitution to survive.  

The House That Grace Built provides intervention for these women at the critical time of being released from jail and provides them with options that include a safe place to live, job and office skills training, personal and spiritual growth and development, parenting skills, financial management and coping skills that will allow them to become self-sufficient and independent of the welfare system. See the website at:
  

http://www.thehousethatgracebuilt.com/

Here is a list of resources for men and women who are in jail, facing release, trying to find a job, and/or looking for vocational training.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Billy Graham Center Institute for Prison Ministries: http://www.bgcprisonministries.com

Jewish Vocational Serviceshttp://www.jvschicago.org/ 

Prison Fellowship: http://prisonfellowship.org/pf_resources

Wayside Cross Ministries (transitional housing): http://www.waysidecross.org

Administer Justice (legal,tax, and reconciliation services): http://www.administerjustice.org/

Adonai House (housing): timlindquistwwjd@yahoo.com or phone 630.479.1612

Safer Foundation (employment): http://www.saferfoundation.org

Hey Gs-

I know from the many hits on the Crossfire/Gang Life Chicago site (and from all the searches) that a lot of Gs are looking at this site. I wish I could talk with all of you and personally share the message that I’m trying to get across in this blog site. That might be possible if you’re willing to give me an invitation to meet with you somewhere for coffee and a talk. I have God-given connections with a variety of sets, but its only a small percentage of the sets in Chicago. I want Crossfire, its message, and it’s resources to be available to all the sets in Chicago. It’s a tall order because there are so many Gs out there, so many sets. I’m letting you know that this ministry is not about sitting behind a desk and sending off blog notes to whoever may come across the site. It’s about people and being there for them. Its about being out on the streets where the Gs are. It’s about making a difference, one life at a time. Just wanted to let you know that I’m willing to talk if your willing to listen. Holler at me.

Hey all-

I’d like to let the reader know, whether gangbanger, church member, street worker, or family member, that you can comment on Crossfire/Gang Life Chicago postings and give us some feedback on your thoughts, as well as what you’d like to see included in this website. I hope that some of you who are reading these postings (and there are a lot of you) will get back to us and voice your thoughts, ideas, issues, or general  frustrations.  Every post or page has a place to send us a response from, so don’t be shy. We may not agree with your point of view but it’s still important to us and deserves a hearing. This site is for you and is intended to help us all, Gs and those of us committed to them, to find ways of addressing the issues that lead to gangbanging and the generally destructive gang lifestyle. There are people who care and programs that can help. Get in touch.

No One Left Behind

The phrase “no one left behind” was popularized in the movie Blackhawk Down where US Army Rangers were called on to rescue brothers-in-arms left behind in Mogadishu, Somalia. The concept is pregnant with ideas of loyalty, brotherhood, and self-sacrifice. In essence, it says that the military will never leave anyone behind to face the indignities of capture, torture or abuse at the hands of enemy combatants.  It’s meant to provide confidence, hope, and maybe even valor on the part of those facing the dangers of battle on a daily basis. The original concept may well go back to the very first battles when those engaged in warfare were more than likely brothers and relatives. It would have been unthinkable to leave behind a family member, whether dead or alive, to suffer the indignities that captivity would bring. As the movie Band of Brothers shows, the concept of family and brotherhood remain an important part of the military relationship up to the present time.

The Bible often describes believers as soldiers or men in a battle. We’re inspired to “put on the whole armor of God” and to” fight the good fight.” Then there is the old-time Christian anthem “Onward Christian Soldiers,” a hymn that has inspired Christian service and devotion for decades. The struggle to live an overcoming Christian life is described as being at war. Believers are said to be battling not only for their own souls, but for the souls of men everywhere. While some could debate the political correctness, appropriateness, or even the utility of using a military theme to describe of the Christian lifestyle, most Christians would not debate the fact that we are clearly and certainly opposed in our ministry to a battered world by Satan, the enemy of our souls. The use of these images work because they make us understand the daily struggles we face and that living a successful Christian life, like that of a victorious soldier, boils down to being prepared for struggle, being in shape, having a thorough training, having a well-conceived battle plan, and being confident in our leadership. Despite the hesitancy some of us have to look on ourselves as soldiers and warriors, there may not be more appropriate imagery for a Christian than that of a soldier prepared to go into battle because, like it or not, a war for our souls is one certainty all believers have to face.

The use of the military metaphor to invoke images of the Christian lifestyle is particularly productive on various levels, but I want to discuss the concept of “no one left behind” in terms of the Hood and those of you Gs who have become Christians or followers of Jesus.  As a gang member, you had a particular “Band of Brothers” to which you belonged, a group of friends that you said were like brothers. When you became a follower of Jesus, you were rescued from the gang life and set on a new course. Does that new course, however, necessitate a removal of yourself from the scene or an abandonment of those men you saw as brothers? Not at all. When you become a believer, it was not so you could take up residence in a nice church building, admire the stained-glass, and enjoy weekly buffets of food in the church basement. You were saved so that your skills, your knowledge, and your talents could be unleashed to rescue other Gs from the bonds of Satan. You were saved to go back into the Hood and rescue your brother Gs who remain in captivity to Satan. You were saved so that none of your friends and relatives would be left behind to suffer the indignities, cruelties, and eventual judgement of Satan. Now, with your eyes opened,  look around the Hood and see the toll of the gangster lifestyle in the Hood, things like the insanity of drug addiction, the indignation of sexual perversion, and the widespread abuse of power. The torture and abuse of those you know and love is well under way. The question is, how much of this are you willing to endure? What will it take to make you go back into the Hood with a purpose? What will it take to inspire you to action so that “no one will be left behind” in your Hood, that those who matter to God will be rescued and allowed to share in the promise of a full and abundant life. Think of your friends and relatives still held in the Hood. Wouldn’t you want them to be rescued? Think of yourself. If that was you still stuck in the Hood, wouldn’t you want someone to come back and rescue you? Think about it, and then do something. The captives are waiting to be freed.

* * * * *

For a musical presentation of this same theme, listen to this rap: Urban Missionary by Thi’sl:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F3S3rsUhKk&feature=related

You are More

When a G sits down and takes a look at his/her life, what does he see? What lies below the cocky smile and tilted cap? What does a G feel once all the bravado is stripped away? It’s an important question because, sooner or later, the G gets slowed down and has to confront himself in prison.  It’s a good time to reflect on what is and what might be.  From talking to Gs that I’ve known, several things come to mind when thinking about this down-time. In the first place, there is insecurity founded on the fact that outside of his organization, he has little or nothing to fall back on as far as contributing to the world around him. And when he gets out, he may not have his old position and street cred. Others may have supplanted him.  Most Gs have minimal or no education so there is no hope of earning a legitimate spot in society by means of a normative lifestyle. They fall behind quickly and are hindered from making up ground through alternative high school or, GED programs. Even if they do, their rap sheet becomes impairment when they are out looking for a job. Even the most sincere attempts to transform are met with resistance from those with the jobs.  Their street appearance and lack of normal social skills, of course, do not help. That suspicion makes him small in the eyes of contemporaries and leads to an embarrassment over who he is beneath the bling and his tilted cap. Secondly, there is fear that they will never be able to change things. They look around and see few, if any, guys that have made it out of the hood. There is a sense of, “Why should I be any different?”  And finally, the G feels a cloud of negativity in the form of anger, pain, and embarrassment, feelings that tell them they are a” nobody” and always will be.  This combination of negative feelings usually results in attempts to prove one’s manliness and to prove to the world they are something, that they are somebody. Unfortunately, the G feels like a marked man, a man with a record that is destined to block any attempt he might make to improve himself.

I would submit, however, that the G is more than a man with a record. I would suggest that a G is more than even he believes. A G is more than a drug slinger, more than a shooter, more than a sex player, more than a soldier, more than a piece of flesh, more than a target, more than an angry voice, more than an inmate, more than a felon, more than a man with a record.  Instead, each G is a man with a history and that history is written, not by a punitive judge, but by God himself. Every G is a person that God loved before time began. God has pursued every rebellious G into the framework of time because of that love for him. Every G is a person that God gave his life for in the person of his son Jesus Christ. Each G is a person that was empowered by the resurrection of Jesus to do great things.  A G needs to realize that he/she is made in the image of God, that he/she has a heart and a mind that was created for more than dealing goods in the hood.  It was made for doing “good in the Hood.”  A G is someone that Jesus not only wants to spend eternity with in Heaven, but someone He wants to walk through the Hood with right now. Every G was known by God from before time began. Every G was given talents to use for good in the Hood. Gs are smart. Gs are leaders. Gs are people that matter to God. A G, however, is also a person that God presented with a choice. A G can acknowledge God’s pursuit of his heart and mind, or he can turn your back on God and continue along the path to oblivion.

So what’s it going to be? You’re a G. What are YOU going to do with God’s opportunity to make a new life for yourself?  I know that nothing has been easy for you. You may wish you could change a lot of details in the story of your life, but you cannot. What’s done is done. However, you can still change the story’s ending. God provided the final chapter to your story when he conquered death on the cross. By acknowledging his right to govern your life, you will be allowing him to place that chapter into your life story and, in so doing, give you all the benefits of heaven, regardless of all the low points that came before. And even more, if you are young when this transaction takes place, you will have a lot of years lift and there are a lot of great chapters that can still be written in your life story.  Does that sound like a book you’d be interested in buying? You have the right to decide if you want that chapter included in your life story. If not, there will be an alternative ending and it will not be pretty.

 

For more on the question of who you are, listen to this song:

You are More by Tenth Avenue North – http://www.tenthavenuenorth.com/videos/All%20Videos/273

I am New by Jason Gray – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w6YG2NZguc

and

For more on this topic read “Murder Forgiven” in the link below:

http://www.thugexposed.com/murderforgiven.html

The Church in the Hood and the “Great Violation”

 

“Here (in Christ) there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian Scythian, slave or free (and we might add, no Latin Kings or Maniac Latin Disciples, no Vice Lords or Gangster Disciples, no Folks and no People), but Christ is all, and is in all.”

                                                                        ~Colossians 3:11

When God saves us, he does not intend for us to then get all warm and cozy in the confines of a four-walled building. The local church is the “hope of the world,” but not if its people settle themselves behind its walls and forget those left behind in the streets. The church is the people in action and the ”Church in the Hood” is the people of the hood retrieving those left in the streets of the hood. It’s G’s remembering G’s. It’s G’s for Jesus building the G’sus Nation in anticipation of Jesus’ return. We are saved to serve. As Paul the apostle writes in Ephesians 2:8-10:,

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

What does that mean for those who come to Christ in the Hood? In the first place, it means you are brought to salvation for a purpose and that purpose is not a nice fun-filled life of ease and privilege. Ask the early followers of Jesus who were killed by the scores as they went into their hood and proclaimed the salvation of Christ. Can we expect any more than what they experienced?  You are bought with a price and that price is the” Great Violation” of Jesus on the cross.

You all know what a violation is. It’s the beating of an individual to ascertain his/her worthiness, either for getting into, or for getting out of a set.   Jesus had to undergo a violation in order to secure his position as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It secured, however, not only his position as the ultimate judge of mankind, but opened up the Almighty Heaven Set for you and I. It’s the violation you and I deserved but were spared from because Jesus stepped up and took it for us.  If he had not taken that violation, there would be no way that any of us could have earned our way into the Almighty Heaven Set. We could not be beaten long enough and we could not do nearly enough of anything to get in. We were just not good enough, tough enough, or strong enough to earn a spot in heaven. Jesus changed all that when he took on that violation for everything bad that you and I have done (and we both know that there is a lot of that in our lives).

You know that when someone is violated out of a set, members turn their back on that individual and he is basically dead to them.  When Jesus took on himself all of our wrongdoings, God turned his back on Jesus for a moment while Jesus was tortured and violated for you and me.  Yet, because of his sinless life, God raised him from the dead to become the master of all in recognition of his victory on the cross. This is the story of real power, and that same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to help you change and live a new more meaningful life. So, when you see the picture or the statue of a torn, battered Jesus nailed to a cross, look a little closer and you should see visions of yourself, battered and bruised on that cross. That’s the violation that YOU and I deserved, but Jesus, who had done no wrong and possessed no sin, came from his throne in Heaven to take on that suffering so that we could be brought into His set.  It’s not because of who you are or what you’ve done, but simply because he loves you as his creation. It’s a matter of God’s grace, or his undeserved love, that you have been admitted.

In the second place, this verse means that God saved us from the ultimate violation of eternal suffering and separation from Christ so that we would share the miraculous pathway into the Almighty Heaven Set with others.  He wants us to be out in the Hood, making our presence felt in a positive way, so that others might join us in this set. These are things that God has planned for you to do from before the earth was created, things that only you can do, so get with it.  That action may manifest itself in many different ways, but will ultimately  include taking the message that saved you to others in your hood, as well as those in other hoods, because if you don’t tell them, who will? Nothing fancy about it. You’re just telling them your story and how Jesus made a difference in your life. God’s spirit will do the rest.

Thirdly, sharing in the hood is not an easy thing to do. As I mentioned earlier, becoming a Christian doesn’t buy you a ticket to the cushy land of good life. Rather, it takes you to a life of challenge, sacrifice, and maybe even death.  Being a Christian is not a cushy separatist lifestyle where everything is neat and every experience comes up smelling like a rose. It’s a down to earth get dirty job that someone has to do. If you’re living the cushy “churchstyle” life, you may not be walking the true Christian walk that Jesus described when he said “take up your cross and follow me.” In the streets you talk about a “smile now cry later” kind of life, but as a Christian it should be a “cry now, smile later” life where the “later” is an eternity with Jesus in heaven. Life is not about “feeling good” but about service and sacrifice. The” now” is doing the dirty work, getting down to the nitty-gritty of life and making a difference in the streets where it’s not so nice, not so clean, and not very cushy. That’s where Jesus went and that’s where we should follow. Take the story of your experience with Jesus to other Kings, to other Disciples, to the Stones, to the Lynch Mob, to the Albany Orchestra, and, in fact, to anyone else who has ears. In short, that’s what Jesus asks you to do.

So the next time you read about or are involved in a gang violation, remember Christ and the cross and what that violation means to you. That was the Mother of all Violations and it opened the door to heaven for you and me. It actually opened the doors to the “Church in the Hood.” That church is not in a building or bound be four walls. It’s not a cushy place where people take refuge and hide from the world. Rather, it’s a community of people who understand the significance of what Jesus did for them and take that message to those both near and far, they take it to friends and they take it to those in opposition sets. God’s love is not bound by borders and boundaries, but transcends every hood and every set. The “Church in the Hood” represents the hands and feet of Jesus. It speaks on behalf of the risen Lord and loves with a passion that only God can give. YOU are the “Church in the Hood” and God asks you to go into that hood and be an example of what he can do in a G’s life. He asks you to stalk the streets and alleys of the hood in search of the lost and dying. He asks you to soothe the hurt of those in pain. He asks you to walk across the park to share Christ with the opposition before gang violence keeps him from the Kingdom of God.  You need to remember that in Christ, when you join the “Church in the Hood,” there is no opposition because we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  We become ONE in Jesus. And because of that oneness, he wants you to follow him, wherever he may lead, even if it’s into opposition turf. You have a message to deliver, the message of God’s grace, the message of hope that you must now share with others who have no hope. Of course, its not easy, but in doing so, you will be building the “Church in the Hood” into the G’sus Nation and you will be preparing the way for Jesus to return and lay claim to all the Gs who have walked out of the hood and into Heaven. That’s a task worthy of eternity.

Music:  Gangstaz Pain by Preachas in the Hood

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9hm84LZkts

The G’sus Manifesto: 

 The guide to a better life in the hood 

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:

The Beatitudes

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, 
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, 
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, 
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, 
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, 
for they will be called children of God. 
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Fulfillment of the Law

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Murder

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca (you fool),’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.  Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Adultery

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Divorce

It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’  But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;  or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Eye for Eye

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Giving to the Needy

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Prayer

 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from the evil one.’

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Fasting

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Treasures in Heaven

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Do Not Worry

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Ask, Seek, Knock

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The Narrow and Wide Gates

 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

True and False Prophets

 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

True and False Disciples

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The Wise and Foolish Builders

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,  because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

* * * * *

You’ve just finished reading the G’sus Manifesto, better known as the Sermon on the Mount. You can find it in Matthew 5-7 of the Bible. These thoughts are summed up in another Biblical passage where some religious people asked Jesus to tell them which was the greatest commandment. He responded by saying:

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

If you are a gangster and want to follow Jesus, this is the best guide for how to live a God-honoring life. It goes to the heart of how you are to live. Love, obey and honor God while you love, respect, and serve those around you. Join the G’sus Nation by giving your life to Jesus, asking him to forgive you of your sins, and using the G’sus Manifesto as a guide to life. In doing this you will discover a new world of grace, purpose, hope, and excitement you never dreamed possible.

I hope there’s a few gangbanging followers of Jesus who read this. I’m posting this message because God is sending His Spirtit to transform the lives of gangbangers all across Chicago and throughout the country, and he wants to do it through YOU. Just like the ragamuffin disciples of  the early church (in the book of Acts), God has chosen you, not to get happy and be comfy in some local group of believers, but to serve by taking the gospel with you to gangbangers everywhere. You know enough to do this:  acknowledge Him in all your ways, read the WORD, pray, fast, and seek his guidance. He has promised that if you do that, he will lead you in everything you do. He wants you to go. In the early 60s there was a movement of the Spirit, the “Jesus People” movement,  that spread across the country and transformed the lives of street people everywhere. It was started by hippies, druggies, and homeless people, but shook the walls of the established church. It was a most unlikely group of people to begin a spiritual movement, but it was God who chose to spread the knowledge of Jesus in this way and he honored their efforts by starting the most significant spiritual awakening of the century. Now he is doing the same thing through gangbangers and mobsters. There are many of you out there who have experienced the grace (undeserved love and forgiveness) of Jesus in your lives. Don’t bottle it up inside the walls of a church. Take it to your friends and neighbors. That’s what jesus did himself. There are other gangbangers all around you who need Jesus in their lives. Be the one to give them Jesus. Be the one to offer them the same grace you’ve found. Just go and do it. There is a movement of the spirit among the gangs and you can be part of an amazing awakening of God’s Spirit. It’s moving so just go with the flow of God’s Spirit and you will be amazed at how God works through you. He will lead. Go to the hood.  Go to your buddies in the jails. Go to the opposition. Cross borders and go where God needs you.  Be His feet for carrying the Gospel of grace. Be His hands for showing kindness. Be his voice for speaking love. Be Jesus to gangbangers and mobsters everywhere. Get up and start moving. Focus on Jesus and he will lead. I’m not sure where He will lead, but it will be amazing. You will see lives transformed, families reunited, and neighborhoods revitalized. Take your Bible. Pray. Jesus has your back.  JUST GO!

Ron