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]

 

Advertisements

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.

Are You Watching

What does it mean to watch as the Lord commands in Matthew 24:42?
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
We are cautioned to watch so that the coming of the Lord does not take us as a thief in the night. It says in scripture that no man knows the day or the hour that the Lord will return but it is given to those who watch to know the season. If you know the season then you can be like the 5 wise virgins of Matthew chapter 25 that had their lamps trimmed and filled with oil and found their way into the marriage supper when they heard the cry. Now the night is symbolic of dark times when evil pervades, not the middle of the night, and the marriage supper is the catching away of Christ’s bride, the church, and the cry is when the Archangel will ascend from heaven with a trump.
The book of Matthew chapter 24 gives a good account of Christ teaching about His eventual return and the rapture of the church. Since Christ teaches this, it is clear that it is something that we should be mindful of however, He also teaches that we should take up our cross daily and follow Him which ensures that whenever He calls for us we will be ready. In fact, many have and will continue to be called home before He returns. So it is imperative that we “watch” every day so that we are ready if we are called together with the rest of the saints or if we are called individually.
In the book of Genesis our Lord tells us that He created the lights in heaven that separates day and night (the sun and the moon) for signs, seasons and times. So we are not to ignore the blood moons and eclipses and holy days because the Lord does use all of these to communicate to us. I do believe that we are living in the culmination of the church age however nothing takes precedence over the sign of waking up in the morning and realizing we have been blessed with the present of the current day. So while I am excited about the signs of heaven I am most occupied with the moment at hand and what the Holy Spirit is saying about right now. So here in is the secret of watching for the Lord.
To watch for the Lord means to stay alert, living consciously in the reality that the Lord is always WATCHING US. So we should always be about doing the things we are appointed to do that whenever we meet Him we can have our conscious clear knowing we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. Awake in comparison to unconscious. Unconscious, living as though God is not watching us always with an intent to hold us accountable to our actions. Asleep, in the dreamland of over indulgence: too much TV, movies, sports, video games, eating, sexual pleasures, wealth seeking. Walking as one drunken from the intoxicating effect of sensory overload in carnal pleasures to the extent that you are numb to the prodding and convicting of the spirit. As a drunk person unable to walk on a straight path stumbling often from the path of righteousness or just lights out unconscious.

I know there is a lot of pain and suffering in this world but we have to stop self-medicating with the spirit dulling drugs of this world. We have to seek the comfort given by God through the Holy Spirit that strengthens us to endure the pain in soberness of mind. When we suffer in the flesh righteously, it generates spiritual life.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reads,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
The Holy Spirit comforts us through giving us assurance in the knowledge of truth which gives us hope and inspiration to endure these temporal sufferings as we look forward to the rewards to come. Watching means we are focused on the eternal as we live through the temporal. To watch is to maintain a vigilance over our lives to ensure we are living our faith out in a real and tangible way evidenced through what we do each day. By the grace of God, if we live in this way we can be confident that whenever we meet the Lord it will be an anticipated and joyous occasion.

Love me…Love me not

Have you ever picked petals from a flower and did the “love me-love me not” silly ritual. Though that is a silly game played as children it is a reflection of an actual question we carry in our hearts that requires serious attention. I am convinced that in many ways this question governs our life more than any other influence. Some may think that as long as you love yourself you are good but that is not true, at least not for humans. If you were an insect, born of a larvae from under a leaf somewhere the self-love argument might have some credence. As humans, we need love from others. We need tender love and care from the moment we are born and from then on.It is unfortunate that many of us have had beginnings not that much different from insects. Born with no one present to really care for our hearts properly. The difference is the insect just goes about its life span of 10 days or less without ever thinking about if it was ever loved, on the other hand humans have hearts that crave love daily for their entire life span of 25,000 plus days or more. If our human hearts have been deprived of love at any point, it has left a wound that needs healing. Becoming callous to the need to be loved only changes the appearance of things on the outside however there is no real peace or rest on the inside. The callous heart is consumed with seeking supplements to satisfy the deficiency created by the lack of real love. Some of the common supplements sought are sex, wealth, fame, status, and control. Each of those things or even a combination of them are insufficient because they are temporary and also empty if not accompanied by real love.

The love we need and the love we truly crave comes from the Heavenly Father and He truly loves us with an everlasting love. We just have to learn to recognize, receive, and appreciate the abundant love that flows from God as a mighty river of life. Sometimes it is just a matter of focus and perspective that keeps us from seeing the love that is around us. Those that have hated us and mistreated us did so because they were bankrupt of love themselves. Those who have loved us have done so out of the wealth of love deposited in their hearts from God. Instead of remembering the many that have mistreated us we need focus on those who have reached out to us to share their wealth of love. Sometimes we have missed it because our focus has been on the false supplements promoted in a world filled with people who have broken hearts.

If we could just stop for a moment and tell the little child in us that it is well and we did not deserve to have our hearts neglected by those who were responsible to love us. Sometimes we come from generations of the brokenhearted and the cycle is just sadly perpetuated, but it can end today. If we will release those indebted to us because they were poor in the first place and turn the focus of our heart toward God who is reaching out us constantly through all the things He has created for us to enjoy. There are often people who truly love us that we don’t appreciate and take for granted (I have at least two phone calls I need to return as I write this.) There are children we have been giving to love that have hearts asking the same questions as our own. These are in addition to the beauty that God has placed around us to remind us of His love like the sunrises and sunsets, the birds singing in the morning, the flowers and the lush trees that provide shade from the heat. You never have to question the Father’s love for you. Imagine yourself in a field of flowers, acres wide. Each petal on each flower is an affirmation that He loves you, He loves you, He loves you, He loves you, He loves you……

Love Supreme

What do you think of when you think of your first love? Do you think of your first serious crush or perhaps the first person you gave yourself to. Now think…does that love still inspire you, fulfill you, strengthen you, protect you, give you peace, give you joy, give you life. Jesus says, if you drink of the water He offers you will thirst no more, as a matter of fact He says His love will be as living waters springing up inside of you. This is the message He gave to a woman who met Him while she was trying to draw water from a well. She had several husbands and obviously was still searching, still thirsting, for true love. We all have a thirst for love, a deep desire to be truly known yet still accepted, appreciated, and valued. If you have never been totally open and honest in a relationship then you have never been truly open to receive love in its fullness. The fact that Jesus gave His life for you while knowing all that you are capable of, the good as well the bad, is a testimony of His enduring love. Truth is, until you have experienced the love of Jesus you are yet to have your first love. I pray that you will open your heart to Jesus, that you might receive peace that surpasses understanding, joy unspeakable, and love that gives life abundantly. A Love supreme!

The Crossing

Time races like a raging river, moving from east to west, from sunrise to sunset, dragging everything in its grasp along its course,

However in this mighty river there are monuments as great stones that stand immovable,

Stones that stand as memorials in time of momentous events that were life changing,

When we learn from those life changing events, we are able to build structures on these monuments that transcend time,

Through wise counsel we can connect these structures across this mighty river from its southern side to its northern banks,

This structure can serve as a transport that carries us and generations after us to our higher purposes for living,

So that we are not just lost drifts in the river, drug to our sunsets without fulfilling the purposes for our day in life,

Let us learn from the past and be open to wise counsel, endeavoring always to move toward our higher purposes for living,

Then time will no longer dominate us but instead serve as a reminder to stay on our own God given course.

Who You Gone Call?

Most friends and acquaintances prefer to be around us when we are celebrating or have good news to share and that is understandable. I find it extremely comforting though to know that the Almighty desires to be around us MOST when we are hurting and discouraged. When we are AT our worse or IN our worse, most people we know would probably prefer we go (like someplace other than where they are) somewhere and get ourselves together or hurry up and get over it.  We may have a rare friend that wants to stay near and listen, empathize and support, but even they have their moments when they have issues of their own and just don’t have the strength to support us and deal effectively with their own circumstances. However, The Wonderful Counselor, as He is also called, inexhaustibly calls us near to take our burdens and to give us joy and peace. Isn’t that uplifting to know! The question is, do we take advantage of that? When we are going through something, do we go to our quiet place and call upon His name? Do we open up our bibles and search for the Bread of Life? Or…..Do we turn to our relationships and look for a person to console us? Do we throw comfort food at our appetites that seem to invigorate during times of duress? Do we escape reality altogether with a movie or some other form of fiction?  It is natural to do all those things but we have to cultivate a habit of going to God first. Instead of the quick and temporary gratification natural remedies offer, God restores us and in process spiritually vaccinate us from future injurious effects of what ever was ailing us. We become stronger. He is calling us to do this. He is calling you when you are burdened and heavy laden and when you have a broken spirit and contrite heart. He welcomes us to come as we are but He has not intentions of leaving us that way. The Lord will renew your strength and you will feel as if you could soar as if you had wings life the eagles.This experience is not a mere high but a deliverance that elevates your life, bringing you to another level of freedom. Don’t misunderstand me, friends and loved ones are a definite blessing but there is one that sticks closer than any other and He truly is the Prince of Peace and He should be our first love in every way.