The Power of Giving the Love You Need

Have you heard the expression, “you can’t love someone else until you first love yourself?” This saying can mean a lot of things depending on who you ask. Thinking on this saying recently, in context of scripture, and spiritual truth, I see its validity. Until you can honestly deal with who you are, and why you act and think as you do, you are ill prepared to truly love and know someone else. Remember, I am talking about love from a scriptural and spiritual sense. This is different than the strong emotional attachments that people often refer to as love. Emotional attachments are often based on a perceived need for another person. The spiritual love I am referring to is based on a desire to assist in fulfilling someone else whether they reciprocate it or not. Though you hope they appreciate it, this isn’t a dependency. In the case of intimate love, it is the desire to know someone in context of their life experiences to better communicate with them.

If you have not begun to understand your own faults, desires, likes and dislikes, interest and concerns, values and beliefs, as they relate to your own experiences, how capable will you really be at understanding someone else. Until you have contemplated your own humanity with its frailness, limitations, and dependencies, you are ill prepared to show someone else the compassion and empathy required to embrace them equally as human and worthy of love just as you have need. The second, of the two great commandments, is to love our neighbor as our self. This is the second commandment because it is impossible without the first one. The first commandment is to love GOD with all our heart, mind, and strength. This love for GOD comes after we experience GOD pouring out all of His blessings upon us, loving us in our current condition just as we are, thus receiving grace to be just who we are until we are capable of change. We learn that GOD is the source of all love and it is our connection to Him that enables us to love others. The stronger the connection to Him, the greater our capacity to love. GOD knows the love which flows from Him is the world’s greatest need. The Lord knows that at the least, we should all be able to acknowledge that our fellow humans have the same needs as we have, with that first need being grace and empathy.

It can be uncomfortable, even painful, looking into the things we have experienced that shaped the person we are today, and it is natural to be reluctant to take that conscious walk through our soul. GOD enables us to take this journey by walking with us in an atmosphere of grace, mercy, and tender love. He informs us that our truest nature is that of a super-natural being, thus motivating us to push beyond natural tendencies and limits to realize our true potential. Through loving, we assist GOD in the act of fulfilling others. To “full-fill” correctly, you have to take the time to know what is needed. Someone else may have different needs than what we have but because of the universal need we all have for continued grace and mercy, we are compelled to show them the same concern.

One of the greatest needs in the world today is the overall ability to recognize one another as equally human. The prerequisite for taking the next step forward is every man first taking a sober look at themselves in light of mercy and truth. Once you are familiar with your own humanity you will find you are part of a great family mutually dependent on one another to realize our fullest potential. We really do deserve the treatment we give others because we are in effect doing it to ourselves. If we could get a glimpse of what our society would look like if we empowered everyone to be their best self with equal opportunity and support, we would realize just how much we have been robbed by the evils of deception, fear, and hate. The change needed in the world begins with addressing the changes we need individually. We must first love ourselves enough to hear our own hearts cry and work with GOD in freeing ourselves. After that, we will be more cable of giving a love which makes life better for all.

Owning Your New Day

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You cannot change by holding on to the past in a way that doesn’t promote newness. The Creator has given us the process of time to accept what already is. Though we live in time, there are universal laws that are eternal and exist outside of time. I am referring to the truth of GOD and the life sustaining order He has established. YESHUA proclaims, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6 KJV) The preponderance of truth teaches us that the knowledge of the Father is eternal life. My point, there is truth that spans beyond time and creation as we know it. When we choose to believe the report or testimony of Christ regarding eternal truth, the influence of that belief causes us to experience new life. I say new life because He is new to us though He has been around eternally.

So, what on earth does that have to do with your new day. You have been given the power of belief. What YOU choose to believe has a direct influence on the life YOU live. I emphasized “you” because unfortunately many people empower outside influences to dictate the life they live. I am not talking about actual oppression here; I am talking about blame. When you blame others for the quality of your life instead of analyzing what you have chosen to believe and how your belief has influenced your life, you break your ability to usher in new days by making them subject to others. When unfortunate things happen, own what is yours and release what you have no power over. Trust GOD with things you cannot control but pray for the virtue and integrity to change your beliefs if it is reasonable that they were the primary cause.

We cannot and shouldn’t try to change people around us. If that sounds anti-evangelical to you, it is because you don’t understand how redemption works. Just because you change someone’s behavior doesn’t mean their heart has changed. Laws conform people’s behavior, but they don’t change people’s heart. The redemption of Christ involves changing people’s heart, the core of who they are, only the power of GOD can do that as each individual submits to Him of their own free will. Our obligation or duty, as a mandate of love, is to express the truth of GOD in word and in deed.

When we are able to accept that our belief is the power used by GOD to usher in our newness every day, we have to stop blaming others for the ruts we are stuck in. We must stop blaming others for our lack of joy, our lack of peace, our lack of growth, our lack of newness every day. GOD Himself has made the knowledge of Life and eternal truth available to us but it is our decision or not to learn of Him and heed the wisdom of His Life-giving WORD. While it is true that there is a great many things around us which needs to change, how you hold this present reality is based upon your belief, and that belief of yours will be reflected in the present state of your soul. Is your soul at peace? Is your soul at rest? Is your soul filled with joy? Is your soul depressed? Is your soul bitter? Is your soul anxious? You have to take the time to be introspective and examine yourself because therein lies the mechanism to change YOU and the quality of your life. How can you influence change in the world if you have not taken the time to understand how the world has influenced your belief, and the condition of your own soul? We must look inward to clear the path for a new outlook. This is why YESHUA emphasizes forgiveness. You have to give yourself and others space for new life ahead of the change unseen. You will never see the new growth in a person when it buds if you confine them to who they were yesterday. I’m not saying you shouldn’t distance yourself safely away from hurtful people, but you should pray for them and believe in GOD’s ability to change them just as He has changed you. That belief sustains positive hope and keeps the ground fertile for budding new life.

“Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4 KJV) This is just one verse from Psalm 37 affirming that receiving the desires of your heart is between you and the Lord. If you believe obtaining the desires of your heart has anything to do with you and anyone else, that belief could be the cause of a lot of anguish in your life. That is just one example of how your belief determines the forecast of your day. You will have good conditions or bad conditions based on your belief. Psalms 37 is packed with truths to keep your life new and fresh. Stoke your belief with the truths of GOD’s word and your days will begin with newness and joyful expectation.

Reminded of The State of The Union

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Yesterday, I went out cycling for some exercise at a nearby park. Upon finishing and returning to the parking lot, I entered a conversation with a fellow biker unloading his bike. He came over to my car as I racked my bike to continue the conversation.  He was an older white guy in his mid-sixties. The conversation quickly shifted from cycling talk to the impact of COVID-19. I listened to him for about 2 minutes and then I realized, in my free loving just talk with anyone ways, this person was rimming over with information he had been gathering from his news sources and the circles he travels in, and I had provided him an opportunity to pour out his opinions. I understand the propensity of older people to share their views to enlighten those who will follow them, so I let him finish expressing his thoughts. When he was done, he had given me his explanation of why the corona virus had been particularly hard on New York. In a nut shell, he stated it was due to the illegal immigrants living ten deep in apartments infecting one another. He made sure to make a distinction from undocumented immigrants to illegal immigrants. He also stated the illegal immigrants were most likely “dogs” from their homeland. I am not exaggerating this or embellishing his words in any way.

This wasn’t provocative to me because after living in America and seeing how the mythology of American history is taught and perpetuated, I understood perfectly how he could have these viewpoints. It is no different from labeling native Americans as savages to justify the profits from taking their land. It is no different from labeling African abductees as incapable monkeys, only two-thirds human to justify profits made through their enslavement. The labeling of humans that seek asylum in America is another way of justifying the profits made from government contracts in privately run prisons and holding facilities.

So, I calmly shared with this older citizen that these were not undocumented immigrants or illegal immigrants, these people were first and foremost humans, just like he and I. As humans, they deserved to have their humanity protected and preserved with the same rights and dignities as every other human. I told him that at a minimum, that is what the law of the land should provide to all humans. I explained to him that they were not just human, they were also individuals and deserved to be treated on the merits of their individual selves and we should care about their individual stories. Well, the tone of the conversation changed after that, and he went on to tell me he was exercising and on meds because he had an ailment that was causing his arteries to harden. I hoped our conversation had at least softened his heart.

I drove away pondering the level of continued blindness in what is now the twenty-first century. I don’t think he stopped for moment to consider that he was speaking to someone who has ancestors, which only a generation ago, had to sit in the back of buses and in the rear of trains and barely could vote in the south, due to them being unjustly stigmatized. I don’t think he is aware that this blight is still impacting the lives of many people of color through the criminal justice system in higher incarceration rates and longer sentencing, as well as the financial sector through higher interest loans and higher insurance premiums and lower property value assessments.

It will probably take months, if not years, to get the facts on who has been most impacted by COVID-19. A lack of thorough testing and no country wide standards enforced on documenting and reporting related deaths during the first weeks of the outbreak, will impact the accuracy of statistics. This pandemic reveals yet how far we are from the ideals of The Pledge of Allegiance, “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

“Just Mercy” …A Nice Peep

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I saw the movie “Just Mercy” yesterday. It is the story of Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative organization. There is a scripture that says, the Lord is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. GOD is Truth and Light, and this movie does a great job of telling how Mr. Stevenson has spent his life in pursuit of truth to bring liberation to those held captive by darkness. The movie is set in Alabama. A state that has historically depicted the heart of Jim Crow segregation and racism. The movie brings to light the true stories of horror which black people have experienced, being subjected to a judicial system which considers them unworthy of justice; equal protection under the law. Justice, equal protection under the law, is a right of all citizens of the United States. The fact that black people of color currently and historically have been denied that right demonstrates an unwillingness to grant us full citizenship. The evidence is not in the exception of the few but in the status quo of the millions.

A PEW study revealed that in 2017, blacks represented 12% of the U.S. adult population but 33% of the sentenced prison population. Whites accounted for 64% of adults but 30% of prisoners. Another way to represent these numbers is there were 1,549 black prisoners for every 100,000 black adults – nearly six times the imprisonment rate for whites (272 per 100,000) and nearly double the rate for Hispanics (823 per 100,000). Over the past couple of years, the disparity in these numbers has shrunk. It has been suggested by a few studies that this is due to a decline in the use of crack in the black community, curtailing incarceration in connection with drugs. Another contributor to the gap closing is the incarceration of white males has starkly increased due to methamphetamine, prescription opioid and heroin use, combined with the prosecution of white males doubling for sex crimes.

I was moved by the number of white movie goers in the theater to see this film. It stirred hope in me that there is growing interest in understanding the root causes of the disparities seen across this nation in the quality of life between the masses of blacks and whites. I also hope that more of my white sisters and brothers will venture beyond regular news sources to documentaries, films, and articles that publish truth not aired in the mainstream, which go a long way in explaining the catalyst for protest carried out by black people. Instead of seeing the protesting of blacks as unpatriotic, maybe people will begin to see it as a reasonable response to the hypocrisy displayed by a country that boast one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Some films and documentaries I would recommend are “13th” by Ava DuVernay, “Black In Latin America” by Henry Louis Gates Jr., “The Way They See Us” by Ava DuVernay, and of course “Just Mercy” by Destin Daniel Cretton.

Making The Choice To Be Human

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To treat someone humane means to treat someone as you would want to be treated. It means to show others the same sympathy, consideration, and regard you desire for yourself. Any time you fail to show this to another person, in that moment, you are being inhumane. I know what it is like to be treated inhumanely; to have someone look toward you but never actually see you, because they have projected on you an image conjured from ingrained ignorance and misinformation; to have your voice deflected by a belief that it is inherently missing a tone of relevance. These examples may not seem significant, however, they identify the underlying darkness which enables one person to mistreat another or for one part of society to abuse another. This includes all forms of injustice rooted in inequality and hate, for example, the enslavement of humans, the general marginalization of humans, and all forms of human exploitation.

I said earlier that I know what it is like to be treated inhumanely, but I also know what it is like to be inhumane. I grew up in a culture where the dehumanization of others has been normalized. I grew up watching the genocide of the indigenous people of North America as entertainment in “Cowboy and Indian” movies. I watched sporting events which debased the humanity of Native Americans like the “Red Skins” and the “Braves”. As a kid, at a Braves game, I would watch “Chief Knock-a-Homer” arrayed in eagle’s feathers and beads do a dance on top of the Braves dugout to summon a home-run. It doesn’t matter if “Chief Knock-a-Homer” was Native American or not, it was unconscionable. As a child I watched “Looney Tune” and “Warner Brothers” cartoons objectify female characters as sex symbols and stigmatize them as helpless nagging dim wits. In these same cartoons, Mexicans were often portrayed as lazy, slow speaking people, often surrounded by flies. These inhumane images, as a form of entertainment, was an attack on my own humanity in the form of desensitization. The destruction of Black humanity has been so prevalent and obvious I don’t think it’s necessary to site an example, but just in case there is an extraordinary chance that someone is scratching their head over this, let’s take the U.S. Government. It should be unnecessary for there to be constitutional amendments and Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Acts and Anti-Lynching laws to ensure the obvious, that all men are created equal and should have equal citizenship, but that is not the case. There must be authoritative monitoring and enforcement of individual’s civil rights or people get destroyed. We wouldn’t need big government if the majority of Americans didn’t have such small hearts.

You are not dehumanized until you replicate the cold-hearted acts of the inhumane. The power to be human and remain humane is yours. Preserve your humanity through the wisdom of GOD shared in 2 Peter 1:2-8 (KJV):

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

January has been cited as Human Trafficking Awareness month. Many people aren’t aware of how prevalent and close to us human trafficking is. It is like a raging sewer of human rights violations happening right beneath our feet. February has been cited as Black History month. This observance is necessary because many of the vital contributions Black people have made to the establishment and development of America, at great sacrifice, go unheralded and uncelebrated. These are two of many socially conscious observances that occur throughout the calendar year. Below, I have listed several similar observances recognized in America. Don’t allow yourself to be alienated from these ethnic and social observances which serve to bring us all closer through the eradication of ignorance and the disruption of ingrained unconscious bias. The more we learn about each other and the events that have shaped this world, the more it is affirmed that the human race is the only race, and all our lives are connected.

 

January

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

February

National Black History Month

March

Greek-American Heritage Month

Irish-American Heritage Month

Women’s History Month

May

Asian Pacific American History Month

Jewish-American Heritage Month

September

National Hispanic Heritage Month

October

German-American Heritage Month

National Italian-American Heritage Month

Polish-American Heritage Month

November

National American Indian Heritage Month

 

The Value of Human Life

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As I look at the public policy practiced by the United States throughout history, I see a consistent pattern of mass dehumanization. This practice of dehumanization isn’t just an American characteristic, it is the spirit of this current world system. Due to the extreme human right violations that were tolerated in the 20th century and earlier, like the atrocities of ethnic cleansing and chattel slavery, the conscience of many have become seared. We have seen improvement but the core defect which produces inhumane activity is just as strong as ever. This is why in the 21st century we see human trafficking, mass murders, the monetizing of injustice through the criminal justice system, brutal immigration policy, and a total disregard of the eco-system that sustains natural life. What is this core defect? It is the inability to see the humanity in one another. You can’t love another human as yourself, until you can see yourself in another human. This fatal human condition is brought on through the absence of real Love. I don’t mean absent from the universe, I mean absent from the inner-space of the heart of man. Love is all around us constantly, just unrecognizable to the uncivilized masses. I say uncivilized because ethically speaking, mankind today is just as primitive as ever.

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Instead of being filled with Love, man is filled with the spirit of this world. The spirit of this world erases humanity so that you see females as sexual objects, a young black man as a burden on society, an immigrant from Mexico as a criminal invader, a young black woman as a whore, a protester looking for equality and justice as an enemy of the state, an employee as an expendable asset, anyone in a thobe or hijab as a terrorist, and the white man as a non-redeemable devil.

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Love makes us ethical beings. Love causes us to remain ethical through self-governing, even when society legally permits unethical behavior. Every American should ask themselves, why those that practiced chattel slavery and ethnic cleansing are still celebrated as great men, and what values does this adoration promote. Eight of Americas Presidents were human rights violators as owners of enslaved humans while in office, to include Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Grant. Every follower of Christ should ask themselves why many churches laud America as a Christian nation when its policies, both foreign and domestic, have not reflected the doctrine of Christ. Here is why; through known or unconscious bias, the majority of U.S. Citizens only register full humans when they see white skin, and the majority of confessing Christians love this corrupt world more than they do Yeshua the Christ, aka Jesus the Savior.

Now, I can’t expect any more from the worldly than the characteristics of this world. It is natural to be a product of your environment, especially when formal education and news outlets are filled with worldly propaganda. However, the church of the lamb of GOD, the bride of the one who became a ransom for ALL humans, the church of the Immaculate One who rose again, SHOULD KNOW BETTER! The church should be warning the wicked, but instead, they are selling the blood of the Lamb like a cheap pharmaceutical for sin. You should be trembling, because judgement will start with you first.

Every human has the same value, regardless of their sex or national origin, because the blood of Christ was shed to redeem all humans. Christ has established the value of every human life, so every man out there creating debts will have to settle up with Him.

 

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Art is by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992

To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated”

site, http://www.revelationillustrated.com

 

Empathy: The Power of Greater Vision

 

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I wrote a piece recently about hoping empathy will rise in this New Year, looks like it is beginning with my own heart. Due to all the exposure of racially motivated violence in the past couple of years, I have heard many white people saying they didn’t realize black people still had it so bad. I have also had many white men say to me that they are just realizing that male white privilege is not just a mythical politically motivated assertion. Initially, my reaction to those having these epiphanies was – C’mon really.

I am beginning to see how when you are immersed in something from birth, it is hard to recognize it as unnatural, foreign, or harmfully infectious. I have advocated for the better treatment of women through writing and through speaking directly to men. I have spoken to women about their immeasurable value, above and beyond physical beauty. However in all that I have come to understand, I know that I have not fully grasped the depth and scope of the mental and physical impact centuries of oppression has had on women. By accepting that fact, hopefully I have increased my ability to hear and understand my sisters unto deeper and more fulfilling relationships.

When you consider that from the founding of America, most of the information propagated in this society from the imagery, writings, entertainment, public policy, education, and so forth has been generated out the oppressive source. Our social environment is so thoroughly contaminated with certain biases and prejudice ideologies that it is almost impossible not to normalize some of it in your psyche. That goes for those who are oppressed, as well as the oppressors. This is true in every instance where America has historically practiced injustice and inequality.

Our moral compass has to align with an influence higher than just the survival instinct, if we are to reach the promise land of liberty and justice for all. Creatures like jackals and snakes know how to survive, but it has been ordained for man to have Life. To “have”, is defined as to hold or maintain as a possession, privilege, or entitlement. Every person is entitled to the freedom and means to realize the potential of their being. Anytime someone purposely hinders another person’s progression in this sacred right it is reprehensible. We have to respect everyone else’s entitlement to live as we do our own. That is why the golden rule is so vital to humanity. The commandment of GOD, to love our neighbor as ourselves, invokes the power of empathy. The power of empathy gives us the ability of greater vision through the use of many lenses. This why hate blinds us but love shows us the way.

Learning the lesson of Jonah

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Yahweh gave Jonah a commission to go to Nineveh and call the people there to repentance before He punished them. Jonah wasn’t willing to carry the message of reconciliation to Nineveh because he had judged them as being unworthy of mercy and grace. Without delving into the history of the people of Nineveh and all they had done, our merciful GOD Yahweh decided to reach out and offer them a path to reconciliation. Jonah was very reluctant to carry out the commission he had been given. Jonah had no concern for Nineveh and just wanted GOD to destroy them and be done with it.

Jonah called himself a prophet of the Most High GOD, and a descendant of GOD’s chosen people. He obviously felt that he and his people were the only ones worthy of the deep riches of GOD’s mercy and grace. I see Christians today with this same disregard for others and the same mindset of privilege. These Christians want as many chances as it takes to avoid the wrath of GOD, however when it comes to people of other beliefs they want swift judgment. Like Jonah, these Christians have somehow mistaken the grace they have received in this world as something they have earned. When I see the lack of empathy and compassion in many Christians today, I realize they have not learned the lesson of Jonah. Living on the welfare of GOD, some Christians have the nerve to want to hoard the grace of GOD for themselves. They want to create standards and make others earn what they have received freely. “Send in the troops, squash the uprising, unleash the police, harder sentencing, they are disturbing my peace,” is what these hypocritical Christians call for who are saved only by grace.

At the conclusion of the book of Jonah, we see our Lord asking Jonah if it is right that he wanted Him to come running to his aid when something disrupted his comfort, but when it came to saving the very lives of others who were lost,  Jonah was indifferent. I don’t expect the unbeliever to care about someone other than themselves, but those that confess to have been saved by GOD’s amazing grace, those who have asked for the innocent blood of the Lamb of GOD to cover their transgressions and have been granted redemption, I expect more.

There is a parable Yeshua taught about a servant that had been forgiven a great debt by his King but turned and would not show compassion to a fellow servant that owed him much less. Here is how the parable ended:

“Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.” (Matt 18:32-34)

We should not be like the wicked servant in this parable or Jonah, and allow our hearts to become hardened from too much focus on the debts and wrong doings of others. We have to stay sober-minded and remember the debt Christ paid for us.

It is easy to begin harboring ill feelings for a particular religious group or ethnic group if you just believe information circulating in popular media outlets or popular culture. There is a lot of propaganda in mainstream media circulated to form views that serve special interest. News is often reported without disclosing all the facts and it leaves people with misconceptions. We have to care enough to want to know the whole story and be willing to seek out the truth.

Yeshua says if you are not with Him then you are against Him, and if you aren’t gathering with Him then you are scattering abroad. If you proclaim that you are with Him, then let your conversation and witness be seasoned with compassion, understanding, empathy, humility, mercy, grace, and thanksgiving toward drawing people unto Christ. You will not be able to do this if you are feeding on the news more than the Word of GOD. You will not be able to do this if you have chosen, like so many people, to turn a blind eye to the facts of history which reveal that all people have committed wickedness. None of us are better and have greater value than the other. This is a key message in the testimony of Christ since He paid one price as a ransom for ALL people.

Through a grateful heart for the redemption that has been shared with us, we too should be eager to carry the same gospel of reconciliation to the rest of the world.

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:19-21)