Reminded of The State of The Union

flags

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.”

Answering The Call to Life

Call to life

If you can go days without praying or you don’t pray at all, you are most likely not fully engaged with the most important facets of your life. I say this because there is a spiritual war going on for your soul, and for control of the masses. Every moment of this current age is filled with deviant intentionality, so we too have to be intentional every moment about combating their influences, as well as being on the offensive for what is true and righteous.

I focused on prayer being key to this engagement, because once your eyes are opened to this battle, you will see it is bigger than any one individually. You will see that it is on a scale that requires allies and support from a power greater than yourself. Once you engage in works like facing the things that make you feel unhappy, to remove its negative influence, or advocating for fairness and justice, or filling your time with things that benefit others as well as yourself, or speaking up for the oppressed and down trodden, the weight of these issues will demand a strength greater than what you can muster alone. The heart of the Creator is close to all of these issues, and when you open your heart to them, there is an opportunity for a communion which gives hope, strength, and vitality.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Dealing constructively with these weighty issues of life will reward you greatly, and they will certainly cause you to draw closer to your Heavenly Father. The deviant forces at work, which I spoke of earlier, would have you be unconscious and inactive in this conflict for life, but you were born for this. We are all present to perpetuate life, for those here with us and for those who follow. We can only accomplish this through connecting with other humans through the love of GOD. Through these connections we establish conduits of living waters to the greater human community, which thirst for Life. We must guard against evil influences that would have us be divided through hate, racism, and xenophobia.

There is a belief that religion is one of the biggest dividers of people in the world today. This belief is not far from the truth, but the problem is not with “true” religion, the problem is with “false” religion. How do you tell the difference? Any religion claiming divine authority will be built on the pillars of faith:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. ‘This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Being devoted to love, with all your heart, soul, and mind, strengthens community. Loving you neighbor as yourself also strengthens community. These are the pillars of “true” religion. True religion does require some division, but it is a separation from things that are not life producing and sustainable. Healthy division is a part of life. For example, pruning in a garden to make the plants more fruitful. A religion that won’t identify and reject things which produce death or minimizes life is false. The idea that love embraces everything is complete foolishness. Love is always dedicated to that which sustains and propagates life. If it is intent on restricting life or causing death, love will sever its connection to it. That is the only impetus behind any division true religion is responsible for.

False religion causes division as a result of being complicit with hate, greed, perversions, inequality, lies, and any other evil. This is the reason the cross is the doorway to true religion. The cross is where man surrenders self-interest for the universal and life sustaining interest of the Creator. Don’t reject the idea of seeking fulfillment in true religion because of the preponderance of false religions. Yeshua came to make of all humans, one people in Him. He gave His body on the cross that He might raise from the dead another body, which consist of all people willing to lay down their divisive self-interest for the pillars of faith.

So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. (John 2:18-22)

This is why those born again through the cross of Christ are called the “Body of Christ”. It is time for us all to start living the life we were meant to live, through becoming the people we were meant to be: the children of the Most High GOD. It is our true heritage. A languishing world is waiting.

 

 

 

Making The Choice To Be Human

humans

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

 

A Glimpse at Real Marriage

threefold

People live together, have sex, share finances, have monogamous relationships, and even have children together but do not consider themselves to be married. People go to work dutifully at corporations and places of employment for upwards of 40 and 50 years, but do not consider themselves married to their jobs. So being loyal to the work in a relationship doesn’t make you married. What then sets marriage apart from these other relationships? The terms of the covenant. In the first example, people enter relationships all the time with no real expressed covenant. It’s often understood, even if not spoken, that either of them can split or go their separate way at any time they feel the need. In the second example of employment, there is a covenant, but it is based on work and some form of compensation and normally doesn’t require ordination by a higher authority like GOD, clergy, or a justice of the peace.  Also, who has ever heard of someone taking a vacation from their marriage, or clocking out from being a spouse until the next day? We probably all have, but I would question if those relationships qualify as marriage at all.  Another important difference to recognize is that everyone needs to work, but everyone does not need to be married. People should only enter a marriage covenant as a result of desiring to be joined to another, not because they need food or shelter, or some other necessity of life.

old couple

People are often praised and esteemed highly if they have been in marriage for many years. Many years of marriage used to be 20 or more years, but due to the pervasion of selfishness in recent times, this has been reduced to ten or more. The principle of quality over quantity has never had a more necessary application than that of marriage. One of my early mentors once said, “Marriage can be the closest thing you experience to either heaven or hell, while still on earth.” How many people have lived unhappily, unfulfilled, or miserably in a marriage relationship for many years, but stayed because divorce was considered a worse option? I have found that many people considering divorce really need to be considering remarriage, because the divorce has actually already taken place; it just has not been formalized. True marriage involves pursuing an intimate knowing of one another, but there are people who consider themselves to be married but are actually strangers, because they never share their true heart with one another. True marriage involves unity or becoming one, but there are couples who consider themselves to be married and they can’t agree or unite on hardly anything. True marriage involves sharing an expression of love for one another, which means each seeks to joyfully fulfill the other at the expense of self, but there are those who consider themselves to be married yet perform the necessities of marriage life grudgingly and painstakingly, only because they feel they have too.

bible 2

I am speaking here about basic biblical marriage. If you are either unfamiliar with biblical teaching or do not believe the holy bible has authority, then your idea of marriage can be what ever you imagine. On the other hand, if you want your marriage to have the life-giving blessings of The Creator, The Most High, YAHWEH (the self-existent one), then there are some specific criteria that must be part of the covenant. For the body of Christ, the Church, one of the main misunderstandings leading to missing the mark and unfulfillment, is not understanding their own heart and coming to terms with what they really value. A drug addict looking to remain drug free, focuses on not doing drugs. They are still in bondage to drugs because it is still their main focus. A person not wanting to be a sinner, focuses on not committing sin. They are still in bondage to sin because sin remains their main focus. A person looking to remain married, focuses on avoiding problems and disagreements, to avoid divorce. They are not free to journey into the joyful depths of real marriage because they are focused on the minimums to avoid divorce. This is also bondage. The Apostle Paul talks about being a bondservant to Christ. This means every day, he lives his life thinking, “How can I get closer to Christ? How can I know Christ more? How can I please and be more of a blessing to Christ? How can I love Christ more? This form of bondage leads to indescribable freedom!

So, what is the key to entering real marriage? It is the same key to a fulfilling life with GOD.

SURRENDER, as a result of experiencing TRUE LOVE.

To be clear, I am not speaking of true love with your spouse, I am speaking of true love between a person and GOD. I am also not speaking of surrendering to your spouse but surrendering to GOD. There is a certain amount of mutual submission required between married couples to find harmony, but it will not happen joyfully if surrender to GOD does not come first. GOD is love, so you need union with Him before you can love anyone, including yourself. GOD must be your FIRST love. That is my desire for every human, whether you are considering true marriage or not. It is from the spring of love that flows from GOD that we have the hope, strength, desire, and knowledge to fulfill the covenant of the joyful marriage He has ordained. Only GOD is good. If you want to be a good husband or a good wife, and have a good marriage, don’t focus on your spouse, focus on GOD, and His goodness will permeate your life. It is this same spring that feeds a true civilized society. So then, what is true marriage? It is individuals expressing their relationship with GOD through physical and social intimacy, bound by a covenant, which He has authorized.

A Message for American Church Folk

Church Fans

Recently, one of my brother’s in Christ posted a message on Facebook regarding the ongoing segregation witnessed in churches across America. He cited the 1960s quote by Dr. King, “the most segregated hour in this nation is Sunday at 11:00 am.” This whole topic of the church being segregated is due to social engineering, which many are still controlled by. The devil’s way of keeping control of the masses is through keeping them divided. He knows there is power in agreement and unity. His strategy is working. The question is, why is this social engineering controlling people who confess to love and serve Christ. It is because it is reinforced from the pulpits. Many church leaders are presenting an American version of the gospel, one that is politically correct and culturally compliant. Any minister that calls America a Christian nation has not seen nor heard Christ.

Many white Americans have the perspective of America being of Christian origin, a godly country. This view of America has a polarizing effect on all those who have been terrorized and dehumanized by her from the beginning. Many white people have not been able to grasp how looking over America’s destruction of people of color is the same as saying their lives do not matter. If a person were to tell you that someone they understood was guilty of killing many of your relatives in the past and is still killing and hurting them today is really a good person, how would you feel about that person. Every time someone says America just needs to get back to its founding values, that is what people of color face. I had a white brother tell me in a bible study that the “Black Lives Matter” movement should be “All Lives Matter” …he doesn’t get it. I had a white sister tell me that for her, America lost its innocents and Camelot fell, when Kennedy was assassinated…she was unconscious.

Let’s look at some of the issues with my people of color. You were once forbidden to read in America and now that you can, many of you still won’t. Many black people haven’t cultivated the habit of studying. I mention this one because it is the biggest problem in the Black community. Please stop talking about what your pastor said, PLEASE read for yourself what thus saith the spirit of GOD. We have some deep wounds in the Black community that constantly get poked, but we must stop turning to sex, drugs, food, and entertainment to medicate, but instead look to the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of GOD. Lastly, though the culture of white supremacy is formidable, greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world. We must get free from the spirit of the ni–er, and it has nothing to do with your address or bank account, whether you believe yourself to be wealthy or poor. Remember, Joseph was in prison and then a servant in Pharaoh’s house, but GOD used him to deliver Egypt and the children of Israel. If you haven’t read about it, you should go find it in the bible.

What has all this to do with church segregation? People need their minds renewed. You can’t truly see who you are until you can see the GOD in who’s image you were made. You can’t see who I am until you understand who you are. Once you recognize yourself as a child in the family of GOD, you will begin to recognize your kinfolk. It will then be much easier to see yourself in other Hue-mans. This will enable you to love others as you love yourself.

People are in church for too many different reasons. Ministers, if you are serving in church to make people’s lives better, you have missed it. Parishioner, if you are going to church to make your life better, you have missed it. Those that seek GOD must do so because He alone is LIFE.

The Value of Human Life

the cross

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.

thailand

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.

problems

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.

 

king returning

Art is by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992

To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated”

site, http://www.revelationillustrated.com

 

When Loving Gets Difficult

roses in the trash

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].  It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. (1st Corinthians 13:4-8/Amplified Bible classic edition)

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening] (1st Corinthians 13:4-8/ Amplified bible).

It should be effortless to love our spouses this way, after all, we are to love them as we love our selves. If we have entered the covenant of marriage with them, then we should already be convinced that they always, or at least the majority of the time, have our best interest at heart. Yet there are wars and fighting’s among the married in Christ. What is the problem…Division! Everything about marriage is toward unity and oneness, yet division is permeating in marriage. What does it mean to be divided? Here is the definition from Merriam Webster: “Separated into parts or pieces,”

also “directed or moved toward conflicting interests, states, or objects.”

The word “Divorce” mean to sever or separate. When couples get legally divorced, it is simply the manifestation of their disunity.

One of the definitions above states that divided means, “directed or moved toward conflicting interest, states, or objects.” The key word in the definition above is “conflicting.”  Conflicting means opposed to one another or resisting one another. So, becoming divided happens when a force, either from without or within, moves or directs a couple to interest that are opposed to one another, or this force is causing a couple to be moved into opposing states of mind or being, or the things or objects that they each desire are opposed to one another.

The conditioning of the world causes people to celebrate quantity over quality. People talk about themselves or other couples being married for 30, 40, or 50 years, and it is assumed that these are great unions, or good marriages. Not necessarily so. We seldom know the inner workings of other people’s relationships. We are not always privy to how much compromise or pain was endured. Furthermore, just because a couple never gets a legal divorce doesn’t mean that they have remained married in the true sense of biblical marriage. Christ taught in Matthew 5:27-28, that if a man looks at another woman to lust after her, he has already committed adultery in his heart. Many people who are legally married have actually divorced in their hearts, because they are no longer submitted to one another in unity. They live lives of opposition, in disunity, but still live together and have occasional sex. Some married couples are in such disunity that they no longer have sex, or they may even sleep in separate beds. All this while legally still married. Some couples are divided, but they stay in marriage for the children, or due to financial dependency. These are all very sad and unfortunate circumstances, and do not come close to our Father’s vision for marriage or becoming ONE.

Many people get married having no idea what it really means, or what it will require. Marriage is just one of many things that people get involved in without research, or fully reading the manual (BIBLE- Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth). Existence is the result of biological circumstance, but to live is to answer a call to a vision given by GOD. Being married is just a legal matter, but becoming ONE is a supernatural act only realized through the power of GOD. Unity comes to fruition as a couple submits to His vision for their lives, while living moment to moment by faith. It is impossible to fulfill the requirements of life’s callings without GOD. That which we accomplish in our own strength award us the praise and approval of men, but it is what we accomplish by faith  that please GOD.

There are no 10 steps to a happy marriage, or 20 steps to a successful life; only seeking life through faith in GOD, moment by moment, and day by day. Anything else is manmade and falls short of GOD’s glory. This is what Romans 3:23 is referring too; the sum of our lives when lived in our own strength. On the contrary, the life we live through faith in GOD’s ability is glorious. In the second year of my marriage, I realized it was beyond me. This was even before having children. I fell on my face and cried out for GOD’s anointing to fulfill His vision for me as a husband, and a father.

The “Love” spoken of in 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 is impossible to embody without abiding in GOD, because He is “Love.” We will never be the husband, wife, father, mother, or person we were called to be until we surrender to the governance of GOD’s love, by faith.  Husband, do you think it is impossible to love your wife in sacrificial love the way Christ loves the church…It is unless you surrender to the Word and the Spirit, and allow GOD to do it through you. Wife, do you believe it is impossible to love your husband with sacrificial love as the church loves Christ…It is unless you surrender to the Word and the Spirit, and allow GOD to do it through you. The cost is the same for all…It will cost you everything you have and then some…but you were made for this and the reward is beautiful beyond description.

Stop trying to figure it all out and start focusing on just being in GOD. The rest will work itself out. Through being born again in Christ, we have 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 within us. We just need to work it out, moment by moment, through the awareness given by the Holy Spirit. The motivation to do the work comes from the joy of the vision that GOD sets before us. If the work seems to difficult, then the vision needs to be restored. To have the vision restored, it is necessary to spend some time with GOD in solitude, so you can hear Him. The just shall live by faith, and faith comes from “hearing” the Word of GOD. You will not see clearly, until you hear clearly. In marriage, the husband and wife must have intimate time with GOD, not just with one another, if they are to succeed in fulfilling the vision of GOD for their union. This is the part that is most neglected. A couple can date each other, and have all the intimacy with each other that they can handle, but the love of 1st Corinthians 3 will only come from intimacy with GOD. The Love that never fails is the Love that is sourced from faith in GOD.

holding hands

 

Empathy: The Power of Greater Vision

 

greater vision

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.

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.”