A Glimpse Through A Hole

Sole Hole

I took a walk for a season in my neighbor’s shoes,

The holes in the bottom nearly gave me the blues,

My socks got wet whenever I walked in the rain,

The constant pebbles inside almost drove me insane,

I became more conscience of the things on the ground,

A necessity for new paths is also what I found,

In my own shoes I could travel with much more ease,

My soles were in great shape I could go where I please,

But now I know why my neighbor travels different ways,

And whenever he’s late I am more compassionate these days.

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Revelations from the Eye of the Storm

The Exercise

I had a discussion recently with a white male friend of mine about the different perspectives people can have based on their life experiences. The conversation led to him sharing how he knew he was a beneficiary of white male privilege in America and how that privilege has led to a disconnect sometimes when it comes to him understanding the Black perspective. The next day he sent me a couple of different links to videos of Jane Elliot’s “Brown Eyed/ Blued Eyed” exercises. Some of you may be familiar with the work of Jane Elliot but in case you are not, she is an educator that has done some good work on exposing the racism innate in American culture. Her work began the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. She did an exercise with her primary school students, who were all white, to help them understand the struggle Dr. King was involved in, which ultimately cost him his life.

In her exercise, she poses two groups against the other; one group represents people of color (brown-eyed participants) and one group represents white people (blued-eyed participants). Jane Elliot then has the brown-eyed group partner with her as she subjects the blue-eyed group to the reality of American racism as experienced historically by America’s non-white citizens. It was very surprising to see the level of anger and frustration exhibited by the Blue eyed participants as Jane treated them with contempt and disrespect, even though they had been forewarned and knew it was a staged exercise. For me, it had the effect of validating my own experiences in a new way. The experiment showed me how mentally disruptive even small doses of racism could be on its victims in less than 30 minutes, not to mention its potential impact when endured for over 400 plus years. I always knew that Black people were strong, but it was illuminated in a whole new way as I watched people buckle under weights I carried as a child; weights that only got heavier with the increased gravity that comes with age and the responsibilities of life. It reinforced the belief I have that if all men are created equal, then there are external forces creating the large disparities seen throughout American society.

The impetus of racism is the need to justify a system of oppression. Ta-Nehisi Coates in an article from “The Atlantic” quotes David Blight, A Yale Professor, on the subject of The Civil War and Reconstruction. Blight says that at the maturation of Slavery in America it was the largest financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth upwards of $3.5 billion, exceeding the profits of all manufacturing and railroads combined. The bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. This would explain America’s wicked obsession with oppression as a means to profit. See Ava Duvernay’s “13th” production for a well-documented illustration of this point. Racism is perpetuated in America because oppression is still government policy. How can the poor and oppressed gain equality in a society where law and law enforcement favors the rich? Bryan Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. He is also an American lawyer and Social Justice Activist. Bryan states that in the USA you are treated better if you are wealthy and guilty, than if you are poor and innocent.

If equality in the pursuit of happiness is to become a realization, the epidemic heart disease of greed must be dealt with. Greed is incubated and hatched through selfishness and nourished by fear. Desire infected with greed distorts perception and perverts judgment. The only cure is Love. Love breaks the power of selfishness and eliminates fear. The kind of Love as taught through biblical principles. The love that gives at the expense of self for the benefit of all, contrary to selfishness which takes for the benefit of self without consideration for anyone else. The false dearth created through racism will continue to ravish society, until we all learn to love one another as ourselves. There is but one race, the human race.

[Image is from janeelliott.com]

 

Where Do We Go from Here?

GOP 2016 Trump

When trying to reach a destination, knowing where you are is just as essential as knowing where you are going. For those who were unsure, as well as for those who were disillusioned, it has become very apparent where we are in America; divided. America is so divided that her history is told differently by her native-born people based on their race, gender, or religion. The different accounts of history do not result from just varied opinions but is rather the result of how the American government has chosen to unequally extend rights and privileges to its diverse population. The disparities created by this inequality have subjected the people of America to distinctly different experiences based on their race, gender, and in some cases their religion. This discrimination also accounts for the different levels of patriotism visible in America today. America’s division is directly due to the inequalities created and sustained by government policies that were never intended to provide equal opportunity to all people in their pursuit of happiness. This is where we are in America and it is where we will remain, until all of its people are ready to accept the liberating truth. I say liberating because we will be stuck in this divided state until we acknowledge that we are here and acknowledge that the founders of this country were racist and sexist, and enacted governing policies reflective of that.

When you study American history, you find that after America won its independence, it took almost a century and a half before the basic freedoms of American citizenship were enjoyed by anyone other than white males. These basic freedoms still had to be fought for and gained by native-born Women, Blacks, and Native Americans. The aforementioned demographics were not included in the vision under the Constitution for liberty and justice for all. As such, they were excluded from the rights and privileges protected under the constitution. This exclusion of rights to some groups wasn’t an oversight; it was intentional. Bearing this in mind, we have to be careful when we say we want the Constitution interpreted in the same mind as the generation that drafted it. It is very clear that the men that drafted the Constitution didn’t consider women or people of other races as equals, hence unworthy of the same rights and privileges. When people refer to a point in history where America was considered to be great, it is false if the wealth and strength was not equally available for all to enjoy. The people of this land make up America, for America to be great ALL of its people must be great. When we look at American history from a perspective that takes into account the journey of ALL its citizens, we see there is nothing in the past to return to. If Americans continue to dismiss the inequalities permeated from its origins then we will never mend the divide and neither a house nor a nation divided can stand.

One factor that obscures American history from being seen in true light is the deception of America’s heritage as a Christian nation. If you define Christianity in terms of the teachings of Christ, then America’s historical treatment of people is not in line with Christianity. Were followers of Christ around at the founding of this country?…I am certain there were. Did the presence of these Christians have enough influence on American society for it to be called a Christian nation?… Absolutely not! One of the foundational principles of Christianity is that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. I don’t think I have to make an argument for how un-neighborly America has been to Native Americans or to Blacks or to minority immigrants. The other major tenant of Christianity is that Christians are to love GOD with all their heart, mind, and strength. Christ measures love for GOD in relation to obeying of His commandments…does America or has America ever put all her strength toward keeping GOD’s commandments?…Let us not even go there. The standards of a Christian nation should be set by their GOD not by comparison to how other countries treat their people. It’s time to awake!

Christians should be leading the charge in this country towards peace and unity. Based on our intimate knowledge of the love and teachings of Christ, we should be the best equipped for loving our neighbors as ourselves. We should be best equipped with the humility and compassion involved in putting ourselves in the place of others to understand their condition that we might know better how to relate to them, in order to pray for them and to offer them what they are missing of the life that Christ sacrificed for them to enjoy. Instead, I am seeing so-called soldiers of Christ immersed in secular skirmishes, slinging mud with the republican and democratic parties. Instead of aligning themselves with the Kingdom of GOD, I see Christians aligning themselves with political parties through promoting particular party viewpoints and echoing news articles reporting on all the political rubbish that is common place during election years. Regardless of who gets into the office of President, our foe remains the same. Our battle is against spiritual wickedness working to divide and conquer. Our enemies are not white people or black people or Democrats or Republicans or Muslims or Police. None of those groups are responsible for keeping us divided. The real enemies that keep us divided are the enemies of Love: they are hate, fear, greed, selfishness, lies, deception, despair, envy, unfaithfulness, and idolatry just to name a few. These are issues of the heart that can be present in any man regardless of race, gender, financial status, or party affiliation.

As Christians, we have to be in the battle to free hearts for the Kingdom of GOD. Christ taught,

“What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

These are the things that corrupt men and corrupt men spread corruption throughout countries.

The only way America will be great is by repenting of its evils. 2 Chronicles 7:14,

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

 

Scale Social Walls for a Better View

the wall

If you believe that all men are created equal, then you have to take a look at the outside influences that have shaped the differences we see between people in our society. It’s easy to just label people based on what you see today, however the current view of a person has to come from a perspective that takes their history into consideration. Once you begin to understand the historical socio-economic factors surrounding the different groups in our society, you get a better understanding of the disparities that exist today. You also get a better picture of who the people are. You may find that some of the people you thought were inferior are actually pretty tenacious and some of the people you thought were exceptional had unfair advantages.

Consider the fact that the police force in this country, from its inception, was established to sustain the viability of commerce. The interest of our law enforcement agencies has always been mercantile first. Once you understand this it becomes clear who the officers are on patrol to protect and serve. This also shines light on the police profiling that has taken place in our society since the formation of law enforcement agencies. Commerce has and still holds low-cost labor as the key to maximum profitability. The ability of businesses to control the workforce ensures a level of control over profitability. The demand for a low cost workforce in this country has always been filled systematically by Blacks and immigrants. As such, controls on this targeted population have always been the focal point of the police force. Any attempts by Blacks and immigrants to organize, protest, or riot as a result of unfair or unsafe work conditions have always been deterred forcibly by the police force. This relationship between the police departments and those that fit the profile of low-income earners has eroded to what we see today and it is all still backed by commerce with its great influence in our government and court systems.

Civility in a society is determined by the law that governs. When you live in a country that has a history of laws rooted in inequality for its people, then the civil treatment of people becomes relative to the subject. This explains why the court system in our country has scales that aren’t balanced in determining justice for all. Murder is defined as the deliberate killing of another person. When a country has historically dehumanized a particular ethnic group by racism, it follows that this country may not rule it murder when this dehumanized ethnic group is killed deliberately; especially when killed by government employees. This is what I believe Dr. King was referring to when he said, “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide”. He used Nazi Germany as the case study.

What we are witnessing in this country is a continuation of what has been practiced from its founding. The insinuation that the US was once great and that this country has strayed from the virtue that was present at its founding is a sentiment lodged in the heart of the privileged and reflects the intrinsic inequality in our society that divides the “US” from them. The solution is a government with a true intent to establish equality for all and federal enforcement of the laws and policies to make it real for all people.

Fire is difficult to produce where there is no friction. The social practices that spark rioting in our society must be condemned in the same fervor at which rioting itself is condemned. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” I don’t condone rioting any more than I condone the marginalizing of the lives of one group to promote the wellbeing of another. Until all the people of this world come to the understanding that we all collectively make up one body, we will remain divided to the endangerment of human life as a whole.

Correcting Sons, Correcting Fathers

correction

A prerequisite to becoming a good father is learning to be a good son. I am specifically talking about being a son to a father. There is purpose and design to a husband and wife conceiving and raising children that many have irreverently dismissed. The dismissing of purpose is always a precursor to abuse. Due to various circumstances, many fathers in our society were never sons to fathers themselves. Having never walked the path of a son to a father, there will be some inherent challenges in the relationship. Challenges in the area of disciplining tend to be the most impacted. If disciplining and correcting the son becomes ineffective, then the son doesn’t become mature and the flaws persist. This scenario has created a cycle of parenting that has produced generations of immature men. However there is a fix and the cycle can be broken. Yeshua gives us the opportunity to becomes sons to the Heavenly Father. The scripture reads in  John 1:12, ” But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of GOD, even to them that believe on His name”. What is this power that He gives… it is the power to obey. As the first-born son of GOD, Yeshua walked in perfect obedience and so abides in the love of GOD the Father. This same power Yeshua exercised over the pride of life, as an obedient son, is made available to us through His cross that we may also abide in the Father’s love and reach maturity.

Again, the challenge comes when we have to be corrected or chastised for our own good. When chastised do we buck up and rebel, or do we submit like a good son? The traits of a good son is that of being humble, teachable, faithful, and receptive to correction. This comes from trusting the Father and an eagerness to please the Father. We must be convinced of the Father’s love for us and then render Him our trust. Our faith and trust will justify all that He ask. The thing that makes disobedience sinister is not the failing, it is the self-justification and reasoning that foils the attempt from the beginning; the mindset that considers the command too hard and unreasonable in the first place, due to the pride of selfishness. It is all the abominable reasoning that is the result of pride exalting personal opinion to personal truth. Personal truth equals personal reality which essentially makes a person the deity in their own world. This is why the scripture says in 1 Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” The disobedient son conjures up something of his own, instead of trusting and submitting to divine authority. Yeshua, of whom GOD said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him ” (Matthew 17:5) operated from “not my will Father but yours be done”.

The good son accepts correction because he realizes if he failed it is on his own part and it is the just response of a loving Father. The good son realizes that if he is punished for disobedience, it is because he didn’t humble himself when he should have. Hebrews 12:6-8 reads, “ For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline? Now if you are exempt from correction and left without discipline in which all [of God’s children] share, then you are illegitimate offspring and not true sons [at all].”

When men resist correction from divine authority, it demonstrates that they are not being matured in the son-ship offered by Yeshua. On a deeper level it shows that they have not yet given control of their lives over to GOD. We must consider the gospel of Yeshua the Savior until there is nothing in us that contends with the call to the cross. Through this process we will find the approval we seek as sons from GOD the Father and the anointing to serve as Father’s ourselves.

 

Only God Is Good

Crown in the sky

The truth that only God is good does not disqualify the goodness we could have inside as some purport. The truth that God is good defines the source of all goodness. We don’t have to be bread in order to share bread with someone who is hungry, we just need to have bread. We don’t have to be water to share water with someone who thirst, we just need to have water. We don’t have to be God to share goodness with another soul, we just need to have God in us.

There are many situation we encounter in life that calls for the goodness of God, however what is often applied in those situations is a counterfeit of good. This counterfeit is what we have been oriented through our senses to believe is good. There is a humanitarian spirit in the world that has an intent to do good but instead of looking to God it draws from an imagination  based in human feeling. In application, humanitarian efforts feel good but afterwards we find the power of the spirit unto life was not imparted. You can give someone bread and water so that there stomach is full but there soul can still be famished in what it needs  because life is of the spirit. Our flesh does need bread and water to be nourished but our souls needs the goodness that comes from the spirit of God to be nourished.

I have found in my own life when I have faced the depravity of man, there are times when my mind conjures a solution that would feel good to all but in the end would only serve as a sedative and not address the underlying need for the spirit of life that comes from God through His goodness. There are times when people need to feel the pain of a bad decision so that they will learn to change their thinking however when they are simply bailed out by the humanitarian spirit the learning is aborted. Often times the goodness of God does not appeal to the senses therefore it is not attractive and that is where faith is needed. We have to trust in the goodness of God even when we can’t sense the good. We have to learn to walk in the spirit by abasing the carnal and worldly instincts.

The mandates of Love for human behavior exceeds the rudimentary acts of being humane.  Loving involves complying with universal spiritual laws which is a lot different from just doing what you feel or just fulfilling basic human needs. It has somehow been forgotten that we are sojourners here in these bodies of flesh and that we are spiritual in origin. God is the source of all life, so if we are going to have life in order to minister life to others then God has to be our source. As good can be the enemy of the best, so is the good imagined by man often opposed to the goodness of God. The good ordained of God through His Word is best.

In Book of Matthew Chapter 19, there is an account of a man running up to Jesus calling him “Good Master” and inquiring what good he could do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good, for there is none good but one, that is God.”  Jesus instructed the man to keep the commandments to inherit eternal life. The man stated that he had kept the commandments from his youth and wanted to know if there was more he should do. Jesus replied, if you will be perfect (spiritually mature) go and sell all that you have and give the money to the poor and then come follow me. The scriptures tell us the man went away grieved because he had many possessions.  The man failed to see the “good” in what the “Good master” had advised. It is evident that the man had some preconceived notions about “good” that got checked.  We need to humble ourselves in order to source our solutions from the spirit of God which is one with His word. You can always check your “good” by how it lines up with Holy scripture inspired by the spirit of God.  

Here is 2 Timothy 3:16-18,

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

God is love, so everything He does is an expression of love but God’s love is not always received or acknowledged by man. Man is often like a rebellious child despising the standards, guidance, and correction handed down by their parents. If we truly want to be good and virtuous to benefit those we have affection and concern for then we have to lay our intent in the hands of God and except His love and guidance.

Open to Promotion

Are you currently or have you ever been in a relationship that seemed to sputter out or that reached a point of complacency, still well but obviously lacking a zest that was once present? This is often due to the lack of promotion. Promotion is the process of transitioning closer to God’s ideal’s for us. Promotion comes from testing, which happens through adversity, which is the born out of conflict, and conflict is necessary for change because the “new” has to confront the “old”. The carnal nature is more in favor of complacency because change can often come with the cost of work and pain, heated with a degree of uncertainty. Is promotion worth the trouble? Can we even arrive at God’s best for us? We must firmly believe that whatever God has planned for us is worth the effort it takes to realize it and we must firmly believe that God has made His promises obtainable. We have to keep hold on God’s vision for our lives.

 

As uncomfortable as it can be at times, we must bring all things pertaining to our lives into the light of Truth and look at them soberly after the spirit with a willingness to strive for whatever changes are needed to bring us closer to God’s will.

 

God is merciful in that He gives us liberty to work out our change based on His guidelines.  The Lord compels us through scripture to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Salvation is the process by which we are changed from our current state to a place where we are in the likeness of God. We should be employing all that we know of God to methodically bring every aspect of our lives in to submission to God so that He can transform it. I am not saying we should be focused on what is wrong but that we should be pursuing what we know to be right whole heartedly, without reservation. In relationships, this means asking the tough questions when we have reason to ask them, also revealing the things that have been hid in darkness. It means exposure. The tendency to want to hide can be traced all the way back to the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden, but by the grace of God we have to overcome the shame and fear and be bathed in light. Relationships sputter because the truth that ignites change is seldom sparked in conversation. The tendency to avoid conflict keeps us from the tough talks that create the adversity which leads to testing and promotion.  We have to live and love courageously. It is written that we should love one another “fervently” with a “pure heart”. Love on fire and in truth!

There is a thirst in the soul that will only be satisfied by waters purified through the fire of Holy adversity. Jesus didn’t sugar coat it. We enter the kingdom through much tribulation. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy. God wants to bring our entire lives into His Kingdom. If we will have righteousness, peace, and joy in our relationships then we must subject them to tribulation; tribulation born from suffering the old to be transformed into the new. The “new” is the things God has resurrected in our lives from those things we have sacrificed to Him by faith. Let us move forward in full acceptance of the fact that we will have suffering in this life but let us make sure it is the suffering that Jesus is referring to which comes from bringing forth new life and not the suffering that comes from the afflictions of fear or the stagnancy of complacency. Let’s take the promise land in full confidence knowing that an enemy will not arise that we can’t conquer with the Lord that fight’s for us.