For All Points-Of-The-View.
‘This is the season of expectation’
~ By Chinta Strausberg ~ Preaching from the theme, “Looking for Weight Watchers,” Father Michael L. Pfleger Sunday said while this is the season of expectation, we live in a world consumed by losing weight where people fail to realize the results of their intake leads to spiritual obesity which is a wake-up call needed to lead a healthier lifestyle while maintaining a better spiritual health due to the transformation of their minds.
But, before his message on the first Sunday of Advent, where gospel great Cinque Cullar and the Saint Sabina choir sang and danced to the song “Grateful,” during “Unity Sunday” service, Rickey Harris, who heads the “Spirit of David” praise dancers, held up a bowl containing a flame representing the fire of God’s burning in our lives…”like Jeremiah full of fire shut up in our bones…burning brightly…for we are the light of Christ in the world,” explained Pfleger.
Preaching on the first Sunday of Advent, Father Pfleger read from Hebrews 12:1-3. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
“We have been in a world consumed by losing weigh. We are in a world consumed by dieting, and there are hundreds of programs to get rid of unwanted weight. There are millions of dollars in programs and spent to get rid of unwanted weight….
“We’ve come to the conclusion what we’ve put in our bodies over these last 20-years have a negative affect on our health. We don’t eat the food grandma use to eat,” he said explaining what we eat “put us at risk for disease…
“We go to the doctor when we don’t feel well and he says If you stay on this path, you’re definitely going to have problems…,” Pfleger said including your blood pressure that will “go off the chart” leading to a “wake-up call” that will lead to a decision to make some choices…to continue he course or make some changes.
“It’s not just the diet. “It’s bigger than a diet. It’s really about a healthy life style. The same is true in the spirit. We have all engaged in behavior that is detrimental to our spiritual health. We’ve engaged in behavior that makes us spiritually out of shape.
“We get weighed down by our carnality…by our flesh…that we have and live in. If we’re to become the children of God he calls us to be there comes a time when we start counting our flesh calories. I know they put it on the food, but sometimes it’s got to be put on our behavior,” he said.
“We can become spiritually obese and sick and when that happens we find in our life there are things we should have accomplished but didn’t…things that we started but didn’t finish…slipping back to stuff we thought we walked away from…. We find ourselves putting the mon hold because we are spiritually obese. Just like our health of our bodies, if we are going to become the children of God, the disciples of the Lord, if we’re going to reap the potentials to which God calls us, we’re going to have to make some life style decisions.
“I believe that God is looking for some folk this advent. This ist he season of expectation. This is the season about expecting and you’d better get expected in the season or you are going to miss the things God has for you in 2014,” said Pfleger. “God is looking for some folk in this season of Advent and expectations who are ready to do what ever is necessary to live and reach the goals God has called me to reach.
“God is looking for some folk who are so determine to reach the dreams, the goals and the destiny and embrace the promises and the blessings God has for us. God is looking for some folk who are so engaged and determined that they are ready to get rid of some junk food relationships, some junk food thinking, some junk food decisions, some junk food behavior, some junk food stuff about their lives they want to get rid of because they want more for their life.
“It means coming to a point of realizing I want my best self. I’m sick of Christians who settle for mediocre. I am sick of Christians who settle for less than. “ Pfleger asked the church to say, “I want my Best Self” but quickly added, “best self demands best practices.” If we really want our best self, there are some best practices we got to have in our life.”
Going back to the bible, Pfleger referred to the chapter that talked about being surrounded by a big crowd of witnesses. “You got to understand there is a great crowd of witnesses that have gone through what you’re going through now.
“Sometimes the devil tells our head to think that we’re the only person in the world who is going through this. Get over you. You are not the first person going through what you’re going through.
“There is a whole crowd of witnesses who have gone through and made it. That is what all the great witnesses were…great witnesses who showed us how to run the race and win. God gives us witnesses….
“They showed us how to run the race and win…with tenacity…with endurance and victorious. There are folks who went through what you’re going through and they won so you can win, too,” he said.
“We have such a great crowd of witnesses” like December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks sat on a bus and said, ‘I ain’t moving…’ a cloud of witnesses, and in a few days celebrate the life of Fred Hampton…. They are witnesses who showed us how to go through and win the battle. “The crowd of witnesses have already done it and now they sit in the grandstands of the throne room of God.”
“You and I are on the field of right now,” said Pfleger. “We’re standing on the grandstand like great cheerleaders of generations past and they are shouting out to you and to me, ‘You can make it. ‘You can make it. He said those witnesses now sit in the grandstand and showing out to you and me ‘you can make it…God will pull you through this…You’re going to be all right. You will win.
“The crowd of witnesses who went through their own struggles...who had their own haters just like…who had obstacles…and Jericho Walls and Red Seas just likey ou…a crowd of witnesses who had blood, sweat and tears just like you…a crowd of witnesses who had disappointments, betrayals just like you,” he said.
“But what made them a crowd of witnesses in the middle of their trials…but they had faith.” “It’s not that you go through…. It’s how you go through that makes a difference.
Turning to Hebrews 11, Pfleger said, “It was their faith that refused to buckle under the pressures of their life. Even though they had legitimate reasons to walk away….walk of the hall of faith. It’s not that you go through because every body goes through. It’s how you go through that makes a difference. This crowd of witnesses it was their faith that ….even though they had legitimate reasons to walk away just like you and me. They had legitimate reasons to quit…throw in the towel but they had faith.
Referring to a mother from the Montgomery Improvement Association and the Atlanta bus boycott, Pfleger asked her what did you do what you did…’ She told Pfleger, because it was just right. It was faith that made the crowd of witness declare, “In their spirit, “I will not have a breakdown. I will have a break through.
Pfleger added, “Faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted, We have this great crowd of witnesses…. “Faith is what keeps and sustains us. Faith is what holds us together…what take us through the mud and brings me out.
“A faith that cannot be tested, cannot be trusted,” said Pfleger. We have this great crowd of witnesses and stories of faith. The same God that did it for them is your God. The same God…that stood David before Goliath and took him down is your God. That’s my God,” bellowed Pfleger.
Going back to the bible, Pfleger read, “Now let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangle us so that we run with perseverance that faith marked out for us.
“Now that we understand we have great crowd of witnesses, now we have to lose the weight. That’s where the rubber meets the road. He says throw off everything that hinders you and sin that so easily entangles you.
“It’s not that you can’t run with the weight. It’s just that you can run so muchb etter without the weight….
“Did you ever see some folks, these 5 K fundraisers wheezing away because they’re out of shape? Well, there are so many they are so many church folks wheezing their way to their destiny.
“God is trying to tell us in Hebrew, you don’t have to go through all of that hell. Too many of us accept this obesity of the spirit as the norm of our lives. Too many of us accept this baggage and these things that we carry and the sin that so easily entangle us as it’s the norm of who we are… and we begin to justify it.”
“Not only do we justify it the people we find ourselves around begin to justify it.They accept us with that foolish behavior. They accept us with this nonsense that we carry around that craziness in our behavior and our attitude and now we gravitate towards people who don’t challenge it but accept it. They ain’t your friends.
“It’s so much the norm when people in the natural begin to lose weight, the first thing they ask is are you sick? Are you all right? You’re not keeping something from me? They don’t’ say nothing then you lose weight….”
“All of a sudden we start to throw off the negative stuff in our life…sin. People say, you think you’re a holyroller…. If you haven’t heard it, you’re in trouble. Folks say what’s wrong with you?
“There are some times when we have to get the wake up call…boardroom of our lives and said listen, I want to live, reach my goal, my purpose. I want what God has for me and if that means throwing off some relationships, I got to do it. If that means throwing off some freaky friends, I got to do it. If that means getting rid of some foolish fools …some negative people, do it. There are some spiritual areas I need to drop weight in.
“Thed evil gets us with the stuff we love. Sometimes we like to come to shout about stuff we got delivered from that you didn’t like anyway…like Castrol. Thank you Jesus from delivering me from prune juice. We come and shout about that but the real victory is when you can shout about stuff you love and walk away from it.
“The devil knows what you love and puts it right up near you. You decide to give up sweets, chocolate. You’re sitting at a restaurant and all of a sudden someone brings the desert tray next to you and you’re going ‘what’s that….. Well maybea little slice,' but the victory is when they can come with that desert tray and you say no and go right on with your conversation. It ain’t no victory when you walk away …but when you let go something you really love, that’s something to shout about.
“We sometimes think it is the major things that trap us…but it’s all the little stuff the devil comes and…pulls you away form your destiny. The devil comes at you like a junkyard dog messing at your mind…look when you were a drunk, a drug addict…and when he does that we embrace all of that guilt and shame. It’s one thing for God to forgive you and another thing you forgive yourself. You must come to a point where you forgive yourself.
“You will lower your goals and expectations for the future. The devil will …where you can’t function.
“For example, the last season DeRo had the surgery. The doctors released him to play again and a lot of people were mad because he wasn’t playing. Psychologically, he was not ready to come back to the court. Psychologically his mind was messed up and lacked the confidence…. It’s a mind thing now coming back wondering which leg will come next.
“The devil will mess with your mind. That ‘s why you got to be free. The bible says lay aside, throw off, throw off everything that hinders you and the sin that entangles you, and throw it away.”
Reading verse two, Pfleger said, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the perfecter of our faith. The author and the finishers of our faith. Stop looking to man.S top looking to woman…and look to Jesus. We’ve got to learn how to learn from the winner.
“We got to learn how to learn from a winner. Don’t learn from another loser. Learn from a winner. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Jesus was an author and a finisher. He finished what he began. "That’s why on the cross he said, 'It is finished’ and if you are connected to Jesus you must be a finisher. The biggest challenge in most of our lives is to finish.
“We start out working out and then we don’t finish. We start out watching what we eat, and then we eat at the Cheesecake Factory. We start things but we don’t finish. We start out well but we end up stopping a long the way.
“I read something about weight watchers, the real victory and success is that a healthy body results from healthy living.
“It is about retraining the mind and the body so I can continue for life and the same is true with the spirit. That is why the bible says we have to renew our mind…. We have to change our mindset so we have a healthy spiritual lifestyle. It’s not about going through advent and make some changes but making life changes so” we can reach our destinies.
“Hebrews does not say what you lay aside. It doesn’t tell you. You already know the stuff you need to let go of. Everybody sitting here knows some stuff you need to get rid of. Everybody here knows some people you need to get rid of. Everybody here knows some habits you need to get rid of….
“We have this great crowd of witnesses who showed us how to win. We’re told to lay aside the hindrances and look to Jesus to give us the power to overcome and change, to finish what we started. The only thing that can keep us from our destiny is the stuff we keep holding onto that we need to let go of....
“Stop playing Flip Wilson and saying the devil made you do it. The devil does not have any influence over you….. He’s a loser….
“That is why Jesus came to redeem us to give us the power to lay aside the weights….
“I got to lay aside some stuff before 2014. I refuse to drag this stuff into a brand new year, into a brand new season, into a brand new beginning. I got to lay aside some stuff.
“Verse two tells us why because of the joy set before us. Jesus endured the cross because of the joy of looking at you and me. Jesus looked at my life and your life and had such joy he endured the cross. He realized your eternity was more joyous than Calvary's cross.
“Is the joy of reaching your destiny…is the joy of walking in the blessing God has for you…into the entering the life for him, is that enough for you to endure the journey and lay aside the stuff that is holding on to you? It doesn’t make any sense to keep coming to church and talking about you want the more of body, the blessing and power of God but you’re not willing to do what it takes to have them.
“It’s like going to the gym but never watch what you eat. Stop lying to yourself. You can’t keep saying you want the blessing of God and keep doing the things you’re doing…. …Is it worth letting go of stuff that seeming has attached itself to you to reach your destiny, and the blessings and the miracles that God has for you?
“Ephesians 2:6 says when we do lay aside, God elevates us and sits us next to Christ in heavenly places. When you let go and lay aside, throw stuff aside, God will raise you up in heavenly places next to Christ. When we learn how to eliminate, God will take care of the elevate. If you eliminate, God will elevate. “
Pfleger told them on the first Sunday of advent, if you’re willing to get rid of stuff in your life, you won’t have to go running around constantly begging, moaning and being mad, sad. If you’re willing to eliminate some stuff in your life, God says I’m ready to take you to another dimension to another level…in your life. You’re asking God to do something but God is waiting on you. You let go and I’ll take you to another place.”
Some years ago, I had to go to Augusta, Atlanta and I realized there was no plane from Chicago that went there.” He had to fly into Atlanta. They told Pfleger he had to take a little plane from Atlanta to Augusta. “When you look at some of thosel ittle planes, it’ll make you pray in tongues… We’re in this little gate…all 18 of us…and we’re getting ready to board the plane. The flight attendant comes over the speaker system and said there is no room in the cabin. “So all of yourl uggage and carry-on will have to be checked planeside.
“You can’t carry it with you. You’re going to have to check it planeside. If you want to fly to the altitude God has for you, you’re going to have to check some stuff planeside. You’re going to have to check some people…check some attitudes…check some behavior…. “You’re going to have to check it” including some friends. Check it planeside, and when you get to your destination you can get it there. There are some people in your life who can’t go with you…. I can’t go with you; I’m on my way somewhere. I am willing to check planeside what ever I need.
“Someone told me he was trying to have the excitement and expectation so I’m riding on your riding on your expectation. I’m checking you planeside. You might pull me back….
“In 2014, I intend to go to another place…to altitudes…I’m going to another dimension in my life…but I got to check some of you planeside because I am not going to let anybody hold me back…the question is will you do it too.”?
“Are there any weight watchers in here? If there are, then let’s fly together first class.”