Uncle Robert’s Prayer (A Story for Those Who Are Seeking)

As my sister Jacquita and my wife Alicia can probably attest, out of all the blogs I’ve written so far, I took the time to especially print this particular one, as this one is not only my personal favorite, but because it has so much meaning to our family and to our faith in Christ. This blog has ministered to thousands around the world, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to let it minister to many more!

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“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for ALL to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

One thing I have always appreciated about my walk with Jesus is the way He dealt with people: when He was with His close friends, He shared with them intimate details about Himself, and about the Kingdom of God, even though they didn’t always understand. To the crowds, however, he always told stories to express a point. Following His example, I want to tell you a story about my late uncle, Robert “Rock” Young, and the prayer he wrote that still reaches people around the world today.

My Uncle Robert graduated high school at the age of 16, and soon after enlisted in the U.S. Army to go fight in Vietnam. He lied about his age to enlist, and by the time the Army found out the truth, he was already a sergeant in the Army at the age of 18. He was highly decorated for combat, including being awarded the Purple Heart for being injured in the line of combat. But as everyone knows, Vietnam took its toll on its combatants, and my uncle was no exception; by the time he was Honorably Discharged in 1972, he was already hooked on marijuana and heroin, demons that would plague him for the rest of his life.

He worked in the daytime as a gifted aircraft mechanic, especially working on small aircraft and helicopters. But at night, his other “hustle” was on: dealing and using drugs, and pimping women. Needless to say, he was arrested on several occasions, and spent quite a bit of time in prison. He had one daughter, but never married her mother due to the fear in his mind that if one of his rivals were out to kill him, they would kill his fiancee’ and daughter too, so he did not marry her for her protection. The woman he did marry ended up going to jail with him on drug charges. When he did get out of prison for the last time, he started to go back to church on occasion, but never really on a regular basis, stating (to my mother and grandmother’s displeasure, but it WAS the truth,) that there were more hustlers, whores, and crooks inside the four walls of the church pretending to be saved and godly, but he knew the truth about them. He decided he really did not want to play with the Lord like that…

During the last couple of years of his life, he and I became rather close, seeing as how I was finally grown and could understand a lot of what he was going through, and he and I were at one time both living with my grandmother in her house. Even though he knew I didn’t approve of some of the things he was doing, (my mom and I really felt he was putting my grandmother in jeopardy,) he and I looked out for each other, more like brothers than uncle and nephew. He was one of my biggest supporters when I finally stopped running from my call to preach the Gospel and began in May of 1993. He and I talked about it at length, and the last Sunday in October, 1993, I preached my second sermon in our home church, at which service he attended. Neither of us knew it at that time, but it would be the first and last time he would ever hear me preach… The title of my message that day was “There is Hope for the Lost Generation,” and it was based on the parable of the prodigal son in Luke. My message was, no matter how far down the road you think you’ve traveled, there was no distance too great for God not to make it up if you but turned around, said “I’m sorry” to Him, and accept His love and forgiveness. If this present generation were to do that, there was indeed hope for a “lost generation”. Uncle Robert came down and hugged me and told me he enjoyed the message, and we walked home together following the service, but I had no idea that to this day, that message would be the most impactful I’ve ever preached…

My uncle Robert died on February 1, 1994, his body finally giving up its fight to recover from all the drug abuse. He was only 44. Because of his previous lifestyle there were questions as to whether or not he had everything right with God. And then, we found the letter… It was handwritten by him, and it answered beyond the shadow of a doubt all of our questions. It ministered to all of us so much, we used it as a key part of his obituary, which we still use today to bring others into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When I read it in his handwriting, I broke down and cried because I realized that it was directly after I had preached my message that he had written it, and it was the last time he attended church services there. As you read it, it is my sincere prayer and hope that YOU will take a good look at your life, and if it’s not what you were hoping it would be, today is YOUR chance to say “I’m sorry, God, I messed up, and I want to be right with you. Please forgive me…” Jesus invites you, I invite you, and “Rock” from Heaven invites you to come and make peace with God.

My Personal Prayer and Confession of My Sins

Dear Lord,

I ask of you this day (10/29/93) to please hear my prayer, listen to my heart cry to you for help. I confess my sins to you one by one and beg for your forgiveness.

Lord, I’ve cursed other people for their shortcomings, I ask forgiveness.

Lord, I’ve hustled for “things” and women, I’ve committed adultery.

Lord, I’ve not been working in my belief that Jesus died to forgive us of our sins.

Lord, I’ve not taken care of your temple within my body.

Lord, I’ve backslided and become weak.

Lord, my mind has become confused, my will power gone. I need you Lord, and ask for your forgiveness this day.

Please, Lord, help me grow stronger to You. I know You never left me.

Please heal my sickly body, mind, and soul. Feel the voidness I feel with Your love.

Jesus, Jesus, help me to turn around my life today. Guide me, protect me, show me the right things to do. Give me the strength to fight off evil, and knowledge to know the courage and the will power to avoid things that aren’t good. Bless my family, my church people, the people who care for You and me. Help me to be understood, loved, and respected, to find the right mate in life so I won’t be lonely, to be successful and helpful.

Thank You, Jesus, for everything You’ve done.

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life.

AMEN

(In memory of Robert Oree “Rock” Young: June 26, 1949 – February 1, 1994)

Identity: Do We KNOW Who We REALLY Are?

If I were to introduce myself to you and asked you who YOU were, how would you respond? You’d start off by giving me your name, but from that point, how would you or I further identify ourselves? Would we use a title, would we use our professional status, would we use a relational status, or would we use something else entirely different to further define who we are? How we see ourselves is truly how we define ourselves, and also sheds a light on how we wish the world to see us… Well, as a Christian, or more specifically, as a Christ-follower, how do we identify ourselves in relationship to God? What if I were to tell you that your way of thinking of yourself in relationship with God may be all wrong, and that’s NOT how God Himself sees you, in fact, it’s even better than you think? 

 Out of all the definitions in the dictionary for the word “identity”, the ones I like most are: 1) the condition of being oneself and NOT another, and 2) the condition or character as to who or what a person or thing is, or the qualities, beliefs, and other things that distinguish or identify a person or a thing. Since our very appearance on this earth, we have asked ourselves (or others) several questions that strongly suggest our eternal quest for identity, such as, “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Why was I born in such-and-such a place, such-and-such a time?” Why was I born this color or race, this sex, this nationality or ethnicity?” “Why was I born into this family?” and, “What is my purpose for being here?” You see? IDENTITY: something that is so valuable to an individual, there’s even a certain class of crime that has arisen within the last several years called identity theft, where unscrupulous individuals can take your identity and use it for whatever purposes they see fit, mostly to your own detriment; in other words, they get the pleasure of pretending to be you, while you have to pay the price of the negative ramifications, oftentimes having to fight two to three times harder to clear and get back your good name… Well, reading what I’ve just written, would it surprise you if I said that the majority of us who say we are Christians, or Christ-followers, are victims of spiritual identity theft? And the two main identity thieves have been so masterful, they’ve succeeded in deliberately hiding our true identity from us for the last 2000+ years! One is so scared of us finding out the truth of who we are, because once we do, he can’t scare us anymore and loses all power we have allowed him to have in our lives… that, of course, would be our eternal enemy of our souls, Satan, the devil himself. The other, however, has really been the main catalyst behind misrepresenting, misinterpreting, and finally miseducating us as to who we really are in God, and that would be religion. Now before you get ready to throw stones at me, hear me out: religion, as defined by the dictionary, is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. Let me simplify: in other words, religion is nothing more that man’s attempts, by his own self-efforts, to please and get back to God and how God originally created us to be.  And, in this case, religion in the church, even though it correctly teaches us that, according to Ephesians 2:8-9, we are “saved by grace through faith, and then, not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, lest any man should boast,” it has not been as forthcoming in teaching us how that forms our identity and relationship in God through Jesus. In this next section, I’ll show you how most who have been brought up in and through the church have been taught how to identify ourselves, and how the religious traditions in our churches don’t always exactly line up with God’s Word, and we’ll look into God’s Word to see how God, and more specifically, Jesus, teaches us how to identify who we truly are in Him… But first, how many of us are like what James wrote in the first chapter of his letter, verses 23 & 24, about hearing and doing the Word of God, in that “if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was?”

Now, remember what I said a moment ago about our being religiously miseducated about who we truly are according to God through Jesus? Let me see if I can explain it to you by bouncing off of a question David asks in Psalm 8:4: “What is Man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you consider him?” The problem starts with the King James translation of verse 5, where we read, “…Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels…” STOP!!! This is exactly what I mean when I say that religion, (even if it is Christian religion,) has miseducated us…

Before you start throwing the rocks, hear me out again: the translators of the King James Version were very humble, very God-fearing men, a little bit too God-fearing, if you ask me… the reason I say that is, if you were to look up a Hebrew transliteration of that particular verse, the word they translated as “the angels” is actually the Hebrew word “Elohim”, the same word used in Genesis 1:1, where “In the beginning, God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.” Now, the question I ask, and the question you should also be asking, is, “Why is the same word translated “God” in so many different occurrences, but yet in this one verse, it is translated “the angels” in Psalm 8:5, yet no other places in the KJV? The reason is that those dear men were so humble, devout, and God-fearing that the very thought of our being “a little lower than God Himself” literally blew their minds, and how could they possibly measure up to that standard? Moreover, how would the King (James,) react if they translated that verse in that manner? The one thing you have to remember, dear Brother, dear Sister, dear Friend, (because if you’re reading this, you are one of the three,) is that Christian religion, for all intensive purposes, has the desire to bring others under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of the entire world, and you do have to understand that they were under the reign of an earthly king who commissioned them to the task of making the Bible understandable to the common people. So, the king as lord over all his domain they easily understood, and the master-servant relationship they easily understood, but how has that translated into how most modern-day church-going people see themselves in relationship to God through Jesus? Well, I hear it in many prayers, liturgies, and songs in the church and outside of “the four walls”: “Lord, here we are, just a few of your handmade servants…” “All I want to hear God say when I enter into Heaven is, ‘Servant of God, well done…’” “We are not worthy of all Your goodness and lovingkindness toward us…” “We are not worthy to gather up the crumbs under Thy table…” Sometimes, I truly wonder if the way we pray, talk, and sing about ourselves and relationship to God doesn’t make God gag and say to Jesus, “Have I missed something here, Son?” and Jesus answers, “You’re right, Abba… I certainly didn’t die for this…” Now while the Word of God does say for us “not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought,” (Romans 12:3) and to “humble ourselves in the presence of the LORD,” (James 4:10) I believe that the opposite of Romans 12:3 is also true, that we do not think more lowly of ourselves than we ought, and that true humility in the presence of the Lord is to simply agree with what HE says about us, whether it be our Heavenly Father, Jesus, or Holy Spirit, because they ALL are One, and say the same thing! So, what DOES God say about us in relationship to Him?

You’ve stuck with me this far, and I thank you for that, I truly do! So far, we’ve talked about what identity is, how the identity thieves of Satan and religion have pulled the wool over all of our eyes about our identity in God through Jesus and caused us to think more lowly of ourselves, rather than accept the TRUTH about who we really are… So, are you finally ready for the Good News? What DOES Jesus (and God the Father) say about us, so we can call ourselves what They do? For those who would say that we are nothing but servants to the Lord, consider what Jesus said to His disciples on the night He was betrayed to be killed in John 15, verses 13-16: “This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” So, at the very least, Jesus Himself calls us Friends! He has elevated us from the Master/Servant relationship to at least the Friend level… But, wait, there’s more, and we get a clue at the end of that last thought: toward the beginning of Jesus’ first public speech, known as the Sermon on the Mount, listen to what He tells us in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your…” God? (No!) Lord? (No!) Master? (No!) Savior? (Are you starting to get the point?) “…and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”

Another point: when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray as John taught his disciples, (Luke 11:1-2) He said, “When you pray, say ‘Our Father, who is in Heaven…” So, can you see it? Really see it? The last time I checked, a father isn’t a father without children, and this is the relationship Jesus came to earth to reveal to all of us, and to restore us to… We read these words in John 1: “But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God [Himself].” This isn’t anything to just glance by, my Brother, my Sister, embrace the ramifications of this: if we have truly trusted in Jesus’ finished work of living the model life (free of sin), His sacrificial death on our behalf on the cross (to free us from our penalty of sin), and His resurrection from the dead, then we are truly children of the Most High God, and Jesus is not just our Savior and Lord, He is our Elder Brother, which means as He is, so are we! Now, I want you to truly embrace what we’ve said here: your true identity is “Child of the Living God”, with His spiritual DNA flowing on the inside of you…

Reading this, aren’t you beginning to feel more empowered already? That’s good, because I’ll share one last secret with you: this is what God, our Father intended for us all the time! Don’t believe me? Let’s go all the way back to the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1:26-29: “Let US make Man in OUR image, after OUR likeness, and let them rule… so God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule…” So, Child of God, let’s grow into who we are, in relationship to our Heavenly Father, our Elder Brother Jesus, and our precious Helper, Holy Spirit, and be prepared to rule and reign with Him!

If you’ve been reading this blog, and you have not made a decision to enter into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but desire to do so now, let me lead you in a prayer; if you don’t understand all the words now, please feel free to rewrite it and pray it in your own words: Lord Jesus, I thank You for revealing to me that I am a sinner, born into sin, and that sin is what separates me from a relationship with God. I agree with what You say, and I thank You for dying on the cross to pay for my sin. I invite You into my heart, I accept You as Savior and Lord, and according to Your Word, I enter into a relationship with God as my Father. I ask this in Your Name, AMEN! If you’ve prayed this prayer, I want to welcome you as my new Brother, my new Sister, and welcome to the first day of your eternal life in God! 

 

Hello (Again), World!

What in the world do I mean, “Hello Again?” Well, some of you have been following me since I made my initial debut on a social network that preceded Facebook called Yuwie! (where it allegedly paid to socialize…) I was never paid a dime for socializing, but it opened up two important worlds to me: blogging, and then Internet radio.  You see, the one great thing about Yuwie! was that it had its own radio network, and that’s where a conceptual show called “The Praise Party w/Pastor Ced” was born. That particular show introduced the world to me and me to the world, and by the time of Yuwie’s demise, it was the second-longest running show on their network. By that time, I had transitioned on to Ustream.tv, where I kept “The Praise Party” going until 2012, where I put the show on hiatus to assume my current positions at the church where I grew up as assistant pastor and minister of music.

Some of you may remember me from a sports talk show and blog I used to do called “The Sports Kennel”, where alongside my tag-team partner and frat brother “Rude Dog” Rick Hall, we broadcast first locally, and then via Internet, but blogged on Facebook.

Ah, yes, FACEBOOK! This is where most of you know me from, especially if we haven’t met in person… Through FarmVille, FarmVille 2, Poker, Mafia Wars, Candy Crush, and other games ad nauseum, this is where most of you discovered me, and then, you started reading my inspirational posts: some tied in with my radio show, others tied in with past messages I’ve preached and taught, still others reactions to other inspiration writings.

Well, I’m happy to announce that THIS is the NEW home for my writings, musings, and meditations, and it gives me an opportunity to be more consistent and persistent with inspiring you to higher heights in our belief in Christ, but, like my radio show, gives an opportunity for the non-Believer in Christ to ask questions, hold intelligent (non-shouting or accusing) conversation over exactly just who this Jesus is, and just generally lift your spirit up. My hope is that I’ll do what I do and say what I say in such a way to where it makes God the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit look and sound so attractive to you that you want to fall in love with them!

We definitely look forward to having you subscribe to us, join us on our journey, ask your questions, leave your comments (non-offensive ones, Please!), and generally be inspired to do great things! If you like it, recommend it to a friend! Look forward to interacting with you, and until next time, CONTINUE TO BE BLESSED, and continue to be a BLESSING, for the Lord does NOT bless us, except He intends for us to be a Blessing to someone else! I’m OUT!