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Bishop Here’s My Head!
by Ralph Castillo

So David defeated the Philistine with only a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. He did not even have a sword in his hand. Then David ran and stood beside him. He took Goliath’s sword out of its holder and killed him by cutting off his head. 1 Samuel 17:50-51

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction................................................................................. 7 Genesis 14:17 – 15:6................................................................ 12 Act I: Deal Or No Deal?.............................................................. 15 Act II: After This…...................................................................... 21 Act III: Heir To Breathe............................................................... 25 About The Author...................................................................... 29

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INTRODUCTION

I

was afforded the unique and incredible opportunity to attend

Project Gideon 2013 hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes. Project Gideon was established in 2010 as a mentoring conference for young leaders under the age of 40. While I have pages of notes as proof of my time at Project Gideon, there are no words to describe how profoundly impactful the experience was for me. Bishop’s honesty and candor was shockingly refreshing. I already had a great admiration and respect from his ministry publicly, but nothing prepared me for what I experienced privately over those 48 hours. Project Gideon 2013 will go down as one of the defining moments of my life. It was a privilege to be in the room with 300 fantastic leaders from all over the country. Webster defines an “aha moment” as a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension. My “aha moment” came during one of our sessions when Bishop Jakes moved off the program and began to exhort:
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“You’re late.” I felt the urgency and loving hands of a Dad slapping his son over the head. Bishop continued, “Get your thumb out of your mouth. We’re dying waiting for you. They keep calling us because they can’t find you. You’ve left me in my job too long. It’s dangerous for David to keep killing giants. You’re stuck in adolescence and I’m trying to wake you up. What are you waiting for?” Those words have haunted me everyday since. I was instantly convicted and moved to tears. Like a one-two punch, his words were both motherly tender and fatherly firm. In short, I realized I was letting opportunity pass me by because of fear and insecurity. I felt an overwhelming sense I was getting in the way of what God wanted for me. God was clearly moving and speaking into my life. I symbolically built an altar to the Lord knowing everything was about to change. In his closing comments, like a Dad expecting a return on his investment, Bishop Jakes gave us a challenge: “Next year, bring me back your head!” – a symbolic reference to David’s complete victory over Goliath. 1 Samuel 17:50-51 One intimidating giant in my life was in the area of writing. Two years of fear and procrastination had kept me from following
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thorough on an inquiry I’d received from a notable publisher. With a newly found vigor, inspiration and courage, I returned home from Dallas and completed the proposal within days. My big hairy audacious goal was to be a published author by February 2014 in time for next years Project Gideon. To my surprise, the publisher responded to my proposal immediately. In the days that followed our phone call topics included book titles, a two-book deal option, endorsement lists, contracts, book signings and the like. I honestly could not believe how fast things were moving since my return from Project Gideon. After a few months or back and forth conversations, my final call was with the Chief Marketing Officer. I was certain that we were nearing the finish line and close to sealing the deal. Unfortunately, during the final stage the acquisition, the book proposal was tabled. They graciously communicated their desire to work with me but on a different idea. “We want you but would like to pursue some of your other book ideas.” Ouch! The wind was completely knocked out of my sails. I could not believe it. If I’m honest, this was the rejection I feared. My insecurities had received confirmation and the giant resumed his taunting with one exception. Over the months, Bishop’s exhortation continued to haunt me and I knew I could not return to Project Gideon empty handed.

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Dear Bishop T.D. Jakes, My spiritual dad, Pastor Michael Durso taught me “when you go to someone else’s house, you should have to knock with your elbows because your hands are full with something.” Sir, I’m knocking with my elbows, because I’ve got something in my hands for you. Although, I’m not a published author –YET, because of you and Project Gideon, I was inspired to face my fear and do the work. I’m writing and I’ll keep on writing until something happens. Thank you for your leadership and investment into the now generation! Bishop, Here’s My Head! Ralph Castillo

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GENESIS 14:17 – 15:6
After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing (no deal) but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share.” After this the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? ” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. ” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars —if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

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ACT I: DEAL OR NO DEAL?

WHEN

we arrive to the scene of the crime in Genesis,

Abram has just returned with 318 of his trained men from a mission to rescue his nephew Lot. Abram’s humility is dully noted. Earlier in the text, his arrogant, ungrateful and narcissistic nephew Lot snatched the opportunity to pick the better land instead of deferring to his elder kin. Since there is no life outside the will of God, it is no surprise to us that Lot finds himself in a situation that requires rescue. Rebellion now will always require rescue later. There is no mention of reluctance on the part of uncle Abram. He taps 318 of his trained men who are ready and qualified to rescue. Abram is ready. He doesn’t wait for the problem in order to prepare the solution. When the problem arises, the solution was already in place. But, it is what transpired after this rescue operation that has captivated my heart and our next few reading moments together. Upon their return, the text tells us that two kings approached Abram: The King of Sodom and The King of Salem. Sodom and Salem. From the brief interaction described in the narrative, we get a glimpse
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into the motives of each king. First up, we are introduced to Melchizedek, the king of Salem. Melchizedek approached Abram with bread and wine in his hand. As a priest of the Most High God, he declared a blessing over Abram and glorified God. At face value, we infer the motive of the King of Salem was to bless Abram. Enter stage left, the King of Sodom, whose name is not given. Unlike the King of Salem, the king of Sodom didn’t want to give and bless. Instead, the King of Sodom wanted to negotiate. “Give me the people, and keep the goods for yourself.” One king wants to bless and the other king wants to negotiate. How many people today are in contractual negotiations with the wrong king? Instead of enjoying the reciprocal relationship with a King who comes with bread and wine, we negotiate with the other king whose offers are transactional because he doesn’t give without taking. “Give me the people, and keep the goods for yourself.” “I’ll give you this, if you give me that!” Even Jesus, was confronted by the “other” offer in the desert.

doms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will be all yours.” Luke 4:5-7
Satan promised Jesus the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship. Can I be counterfactual? If Jesus accepted the offer without his death, burial and resurrection, there would be no eternal life for us. We needed an “heir to breathe.” Fueled by the Holy Spirit and because he was fasting, Jesus pushed off the table and declared, “thanks, but no thanks.” For Jesus, the offer wasn’t even an option. No Deal! Whether you are already in contractual negotiations with the wrong king or secretly contemplating a deal that will cost you more than you can afford, the text proposes another option. The next few reading moments may prove to be a game changer for you. If we get “free time” in heaven, one of my bucket list items will be to interview Abram turned Father Abraham on this particular episode in the scriptures. I’m a native New Yorker, born and raised in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, NY also affectionately known as “do or die Bed Stuy!” So, the events that transpired in the text lead me to believe that Abram was from Brooklyn – a baller, shot caller with a
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“The devil led him to a high place and showed him in an instant all the king16

crazy hustle! Back to the narrative, Abram responded to the King of Sodom’s offer, in Beyonce like fashion, “you must not know about me, you must not know about me! Maybe it’s best I just quote the text:

“Make the decision before you face the decision” will look different for everyone. Regardless of the temptations we’re confronted with on a daily basis, the power to honor our God publicly is rooted in the consecrations we’ve made privately. Abram had already decided that God was going to be the author and source of all his provision – not even a thread or a thong of a sandal was an option for him. But Abram’s tenacity to pass up on this first offer is actually rooted in a much deeper desire.

“I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, “I made Abram rich…’”
From Abram’s response, it appeared that Abram had already given this decision some thought, which begs the question: How did he know? May I suggest that Abram made the decision before he faced the decision! Abram decided his response before he was ever confronted with an option. While we may not be privy to the specific nature of a particular offer or temptation, we can decide “in advance”, like Joshua “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Many of us are caught off guard when confronted by the other king simply because we’ve not anticipated his coming. Until Christ’s return or our departure, we will always have to navigate the offers that are contrary to the one who wants to bless us.

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ACT II: AFTER THIS…

NO

sooner does the dust settle from Abram’s showdown

with the kings of Salem and Sodom, Genesis 15:1 says. ‘After This…” After the showdown… After the altercation… After Abram passed up on the deal… After Abram said, thanks, but no thanks… This is the part in the movie when the musical score increases in intensity notifying the viewing audience that something is about to happen. It’s about to go down! After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. God shows up!
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God always shows up on this side of heaven when our faith is publicly demonstrated in loyalty to Him. It would have been enough for God to show up but he came with a message. Abram, don’t be afraid. I am your shield and very great reward. Why would God tell Abram don’t be afraid? I’m not sure, but maybe it was because, …HE WAS AFRAID! Abram just publicly shut down a king and passed up on some material goods. God told Abram not to be afraid because he was afraid. We know, because we’re just like Abram. We make public decisions to honor God, but privately we sweat over the offers we pass up thinking we’re going to lose out. It is often in the moments of our greatest sacrifice that God shows up and gives us the greatest revelation of his character. In essence, God told Abram, “I got you!” I’ll protect you from the kings and I’ll be your reward. In my mind, this should be the end of the story. God showed up, spit a custom tailored promise and dropped the microphone, but that’s not what happened. The musical score continues to increase in intensity. Abram turned to God with a question: “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me…?”

Really Abram? God just showed up and gave you an incredibly generous promise. How about a thank you? How about an original song of praise? How about building an altar? What can you give me, really? Is that your best response to a vision from God? But for the second time, Abram graciously pushed off the table, “thanks, but no thanks.” When you know what you’re after, a good offer is the enemy to a great promise. This time, Abram seemingly declined God’s initial offer of provision and protection. If he was from Brooklyn, he may have reverently said, “that ain’t it!” Abram pushed the envelope with yet another inquiry.

“O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’”

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ACT III: HEIR TO BREATHE

FINALLY

we strike oil. Abram lets us in on the

deepest desire of his heart. If God blesses and protects Abram as promised, upon his death a servant named Eliezer would be the recipient of his inheritance because he didn’t have a son. Abram wanted a son. Abram needed a son. Abram needed an heir. We all needed a son – an heir to breathe. Why is Abram so tenacious and determined? I believe Abram was after the thing money can’t buy. He was thinking about the future. He had legacy on his mind. It all makes sense now. How many times have we been easily pleased with premature offers at the expense of full term promises from God? I’m humbled by the remainder of the text because “The Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” does not seem to be perturbed by Abram’s audacious envelope pushing. Based on the
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text, it is Abram’s relentless faith that leads us to one of the most famous episodes in all of scripture. God invites Abram for a walk and personal tour of his destiny. God asked him to count the stars in the sky and when Abram got tired of counting, God gave him the good news about the son he would receive as an heir. God promised him a son who would be his heir. This wouldn’t be the last time we hear about stars in the sky at night and good news about a son being born unto us. What if Abram wasn’t tenacious in his faith? What if he quit? What if he settled? What if he didn’t go after what he believed God had for him? What if? Why do we live in the land of mediocre settling for “less than” offers and negotiating with the wrong king to get what God has already decided for us on his terms. God’s promise for Abram came to pass. I can’t imagine a Sunday school class not singing:

comes with the bread and wine. Jesus’s body was broken and His blood shed, the firstborn among many brethren. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ… Romans 8:17 Because I live, you also will live. Life is impossible without air to breathe and our spiritual lives would be impossible if it wasn’t for an... Heir To Breathe.

“Father Abraham, had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham, I am one of them and so are you, so let just praise the Lord.”
Abram wasn’t the only one who needed a son. We all needed a son. Abram’s one and only son Isaac wasn’t sacrificed because “the Lord will provide.” God made a provision with His only son. John 3:16 Jesus is the son we all needed. He is our King who
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rafael Castillo is a Teaching Pastor at Christ Tabernacle. He is also the co-founder of Youth Explosion, now MISFIT NYC - a thriving youth and young adult ministry in New York City. He serves on the chaplain team for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets. He is a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Rafael was featured in Outreach Magazine (Sept/ Oct 2011) 30 Young Emerging Influencers and listed amongst 50 “catalyst leaders” in The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick. (April 2013) He and his wife, Elisa, live in New York City with their two children. @rafaelcastillo @ralph_castillo Email: ralph@christtabernacle.org

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Copyright © 2014 by Rafael Castillo