Romans 5: A Prophet's Responsibility

Somehow, I had never seen it…quite that way…
Somehow, the scales fell from my eyes, as Ananias laid hands on me and said, “Brother Saul…”
I had been groping in darkness for quite some time as evening and morning appeared the same to me, and I stumbled down the dirty, clay-laden road to Damascus…
Ow was it Carolina…?
I couldn’t tell…
Usually those indicators that are so helpful for telling where you are weren’t so helpful…
I was rudely refusing to see what was written, given my vision had been impaired from years of 
But while in the shower, a flood of revelation cascaded into my spirit, and Father would not shut up…
And even though I am 37 years old, the revelation still comes after 8:30 at night and I am still waxing Theo-illogical as the day begins with the first fruits of the first fruits…EVENING before morning, the first day. For that has been the rhythm of my life the last 20 years or so, since David began praying, and things began happening, and I began to figure out how to fight.
And I am glad He doesn’t shut up.  He loves talking to me late at night, and I am always eager to hear what He has to say. 
The moment was on Facebook, and the post came from rap artist Lecrae, who said:
“My momma grew up in tough, unfair, unjust circumstances like her parents before her. She struggled. She was treated like a second class citizen in her own country. She never quit. She kept going and pushed me. Most of my closest childhood friends have seen prison life. We survived physical & sexual abuse, survived the war on drugs taking our fathers, and I should have lost my mind or life many times. Still I rose up. I read, I worked, I scrapped, I fought. I went to college. I graduated. I built a business. I relied on God. I invested in others. None of it perfectly. I’ve poured my heart out and been shunned and reduced to whatever online gossip chooses to call me at any moment. I’ve seen too much, we’ve seen too much and fought too hard to give up.”
Well-versed in writing and composing, his thoughts are part of the foreground to what is happening in the backdrop. As usual, racial relations have their own rhythm in this country.
And then the punchline came:
“Endurance builds character, character hope, and hope doesn’t fail. ”
It took me the usual half-second flat to identify the address.  He pulled from Romans 5, around verse 5. 
Actually, now that I am turned there this early, I see that it is 5:4.

No, I am not going to pull context, because that would be the entertainment of too many religious spirits and familiar hermeneutical principles that, taken in the wrong spirit, lead to religion.
This turn of phrase is a little bit different.
Consider the following.  Hope does not fail.  In the King James it saith that “hope maketh not ashamed. In another translation “does not disappoint”.  Disappointment, especially repeated disappointment, can lead to failure, which is a breeding ground for the enemy to bring us to shame.
And the opposite of shame is not honor, but dignity.
Concerning hope, I have always repeatedly preached that hope is the fuel in a Prophet’s gas tank.  Hope is the fuel of the prophetic.  Whether a comfort, a reproof, an exhortation, an edification (which includes correction, I will get to that later), a warning, or a consolation, every single prophecy uttered is meant to have some dynamic of hope that shows up somewhere. 
Now, why does edification include correction?  Very simple illustration. If I build a building–an edifice, in English fallen into disuse–and at some point I don’t build with an aligned foundation, that misalignment is going to show throughout the misaligned building, and the only way to move forward correctly is to admit something is wrong with my structure, take down every single piece to the bad part of the foundation, and correct the foundation.
If a prophet does not speak up, or speaks up but is not listened to, when an issue needs to be corrected, then misalignment is the result.
The only way forward in this is to speak correction, for the audience to receive the correction, and to move forward with it.  And as uncomfortable as that makes an audience, the alternative is a major deviation that can lead to destruction.
Sometimes, to edify someone means you are offering correction, because you want to build them up rightly.
This is why hope is so critical in the operation of the prophetic. And this is why Prophets must, Must, MUST!, engage in being more than a critic or an analyst. They must get involved in the work of building and rebuilding.  If the church does not see Prophets helping out, and being the first ones to speak hope mixed in with their correction of courses (pun intended), and then engaged in the process of rebuilding once the error has been fixed, then the church will ultimately become disenfranchised.
Hope does not bring us to shame, but rather breeds dignity.

Concerning Pain and Its Uses

Semi-provocative Thoughts For the Evening
 
This is probably one of the more important things I am going to write for some time.
 
Pain…
 
Plenty has been written about it.
 
But I am not sure a lot of people grasp the L-rd’s use of it in the His processes of shaping and molding us.
 
So, with that in mind, I would like to throw out the following for your consideration, follower of Jesus.
 
G-d provides us with a package of things that are incessantly good, gifts that are comprehensively good.  The seasons that we go through which are painful are also seasons that are used by G-d; he wastes nothing.  Pain, regardless of what you believe about its origins, is often used by G-d in the shaping process.
 
He causes all things to work for good to his kids.
 
And if we will work with his processes, then something useful and productive can result.
 
But many times, we want to escape the pain, not realizing that there may be a purpose, not necessarily FOR the pain, but a purpose IN the pain.
 
G-d will use painful times to work some depth and dimension in us.
 
It is not just about thinking we are exempt from pain, and putting up with the pain, or waiting out the pain, or even escaping the pain.  Rather, it is a matter of asking G-d if there is anything he wants to accomplish through the pain, and then, as long as he wants to use the pain, to allow Him to do so.
 
Pain, as a critical part of the dynamic of sowing and reaping, and as a critical part of this thing we call reality, can cause a specific season in our lives to become fraught with poignant meaning.  It can also be used to temper us, or to work self-control in us, or even perseverance.

We also grow through pain, and in mourning, and tears.  In some way, we grow, even if that growth is in negative ways like growing bitter or offended.
So, rather than developing a potentially shallow response to pain, and so risking becoming shallow ourselves, perhaps it is in our best interest to embrace the necessary and productive pain, knowing that Christ also embraced that pain, and learning the lesson of perseverance, self-control, patience, et al., thus permitting the depth of those virtues to be worked out in us, so that they can be worked out through us in the lives of others.
 
Just some thoughts that are late-night, dense, and probably philosophical or theological.
 
He surely loves and blesses y’all.
So much so, that he lets nothing that comes our way go to waste.
Can you think of other ways he might use pain in our lives?