Month: April 2013

Living to Die & Dying to Live

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Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish.

Barbara Smith

A chicken and a pig came upon a church building and read the advertisement on the billboard out front, which read, “Help Us Feed the Poor.” Immediately the chicken suggested they help feed the poor with bacon and eggs. The pig thought for a moment and said, “There is one thing wrong with feeding bacon and eggs to the poor. For you it only requires a contribution, but for me it requires total commitment.”

Many in the church today do not want to be totally committed to the Lord because it demands too much of them.

Webster’s Dictionary says “To commit oneself says one is to speak or act in such a manner as to bind oneself to a certain line of conduct.”

Commitment to Jesus Christ is more than a definition: it requires my life, my soul, and my all. But too often find ourselves lingering between being committed and uncommitted.

In the following scripture passages the life of the uncommitted and the committed are presented to us.

1. Are you Uncommitted?

Matthew 19:16-22
16 “Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, ” ’You shall not murder,’ ’You shall not commit adultery,’ ’You shall not steal,’ ’You shall not bear false witness,’
19 ’Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Those that are Uncommitted focus on Self rather than the ways and work of God. (vs.16)

“What good thing shall I do that I may have…”

Self-centeredness is the hallmark of our society today. The only thing that people seem to care about is their own desires, their own wishes, their own satisfaction no matter what the cost or the consequences.

Most marriages dissolve because of the self-centered attitude of the married couple. Neither is willing to give themselves completely to the other, but each wants to live their own lives as a single but still be married. Marriage still requires surrendering our own desires and wants to the will of God and to make the relationship work at all costs.

Our self-centered attitudes have spilled over into every realm of life:

Our children are disrespectful of parents or any form of authority because they have been told that whatever they want they can have and no one has the right to stop them or to punish them.

Our Representatives and Senators have become so self-centered concerning their own jobs and popularity that they will sell out the security of our nation if it is necessary to win a few votes.

Our leaders are so wrapped up in their own plans and desires for political and financial gain that they no longer seem to be concerned about our nation and rush headlong into making decisions that fly into the face of God as if to say we want no part of you anymore.
Those that are Uncommitted focus on Keeping laws and legalistic works rather than the Word of God.

“All these things I have kept …”

Its not about keeping a bunch of do’s and don’ts. Its about keeping the laws of grace and mercy and obeying the commandments to live a holy life.

We get so caught up in judging others that we forget about the sin in our own lives.

Those that are Uncommitted focus on Riches of the here and now rather than the riches of Heaven.

“Go and sell and follow Me.” – Treasure and heart issues

The Bible tells us that where our treasure is, that’s where our heart will be also. In a world that is so caught up in materialism and self-gratification, it’s no wonder that people don’t have a heart after God.
It has been my experience that it does not matter whether you are rich or poor, whether you have a lot or very little of this world’s goods, you can still be materialistic.

If you get more upset over your car getting scratched, or your new carpet getting stained, or you new clothes being ruined than you do over the sin in your life then you are materialistic.

If we set our hearts on the things of God and lay up our treasures in Heaven, those little situations won’t mean nearly as much to us.

Those that are Uncommitted focus on Keeping rather than giving.

“He had great possessions”

Mark 8:36 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
What good will houses and lands and all the possessions of this world do you when this life is over.

I have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul! You can’t take it with you. You came into this world with nothing and you will go out of it with nothing.
The only things that will follow you are the souls that you have won to Jesus and the good works that you did for the Lord with the right heart. Everything else will be burned away.

How about you and I?

Are we part of the uncommitted always focusing on self rather than God?

This man who came to Jesus was looking for a better method of getting what he wanted rather than wanting God to make him a better man.

We are prone to look to God for greater ways and means to accomplish our goals … whereas God is looking for us to surrender our lives and give our soul to accomplish His goals.

Jeremiah 7:3-8
3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
4 “Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ’The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.’
5 “For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,
6 “if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt,
7 “then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. 8 “Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit.
God never gives up on the uncommitted.

He is always calling and challenging the uncommitted to commit to Him.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself

2. Are you Committed?

Matthew 10:34-39
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
35 “For I have come to ’set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;
36 “and ’a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
37 “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
39 “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

1)Those who are Committed focus on Inner Peace rather than a temporal peace of man. (vs.34)

Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

This is peace that no amount of troubles can take away. This is peace that will be with you in the middle of every storm.

I don’t know how people who don’t know the Lord can survive in this world. It is no wonder than so many are committing suicide or end up in a mental institution. Without Jesus there is no real peace.

2)Those who are Committed focus on Relationship with Christ rather than with family and friends. (vs.35-36)

Certainly, family and friends are important and must have a high priority in your life, but nothing must come before your relationship with God.

Jesus still holds us to the commandment that says thou shalt have no other God’s before me. Anything and anyone who separates us from God or who stands in the way of our relationship with God becomes an idol to us.

If we focus first on a relationship with Jesus, then all of our other relationships will be far greater because of the Love of God that will be made manifest in us.

3)Those who are Committed focus on Love worth finding rather than selfish love of man. (vs.37)

What is real love anyway? Most people confuse lust with love, or physical attraction with love, or the feeling that this is right with love. None of those these have anything to do with love. They only have to do with two people with an uncontrollable lust.
Love is really found when we still care about someone after we have seen them at their worst.

When the dirty clothes are stacked to the ceiling, the dirty dishes beg for your attention, the sick babies are crying in you ears and pulling on your leg, the creditors are ringing your phone every 20 minutes and we haven’t even had time to brush our teeth or comb our hair. If you can still look at one another after all of that and feel love, then you can say we truly have love one for another.

Love is also giving without expecting anything in return.

Love is doing all you can do for someone else, and when you are feeling totally exhausted and can’t seem to take another step, love will get up and go another mile if asked to do so.

4) Those who are Committed focus on Discovering the Source of Life rather than being the source. (vs.39)
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.

We are to be Committed to God first of all.

Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus said to him, ” ’you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the first and great commandment.

Those who are committed to God will not have trouble meeting any of their other commitments. The pure love of God and our pure love for Him will keep us on the right path.

Secondly we should be Committed to Church.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

How can we say that we love the Lord and yet fail to attend the services where God can speak to us and through us?

No man is an island. We need each other to grow, to have strength for the battle.

How can we say we love God and yet fail time and again to come together to meet with Him and to be around the people of God?

How long would your marriage last if there was no togetherness and no communication?

How can we say we love God when we don’t even care what goes on at God’s house?

Is your commitment to Jesus Christ and the truth that leads you into a loving peaceful relationship with Him?

Are you willing to die to the things of this life that you may live in Christ and obtain a life that is far more peaceful and fulfilling than the life the world offers?

Conclusion:

An African Pastor was threatened by rebels who demanded that he renounce his faith or die. He refused. The night before they took his life, he wrote the following lines on a scrap of paper:

I am part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.” I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I’ve stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of His. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals!

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, or burn up till I’ve preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops.

And when He comes to get His own, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear.
How about you?

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Are you living to die? Or, are you dying to live?

If we will live this life in search of the truth of the Gospel, in search for the true love of God, in search of the peace that passes all understanding and in search of commitment to Jesus as Lord, then we will be ready for that life which is yet to come. At the moment of our death we will enter into the Glories of Heaven.

If we live this life in our own way, forgetting God, forsaking and rejecting His great salvation, then we are already walking dead in our sin. The end of this life is only a step down into a deep dark and terrible eternal death where we will be always dying but never really die.

Come to Jesus – ONLY THEN CAN YOU REALLY EXPERIENCE WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT.

Chained to His Chariot

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This was as good of an Anniversary I could ask for. I spent it serving my God and worshiping with family and friends. I don’t have a lot of anything except a burning submission to serve my God and love as He did.

Indignation is a submission of our thoughts, but not of our desires.

Bertrand Russell


Pascal, one of the greatest and most influential scientific minds of all time, wrote these meaningful words: “The greatest of the proofs of Jesus Christ are the prophecies. [They are also what God has most provided for, for the event which has fulfilled them is a miracle of God.]” The observation of Pascal is definitively true. The fact of the Messiah’s extreme physical and spiritual suffering have been plainly prophesied. Yet, the Suffering Servant humbly endures them as God’s will for the sake of those who will be justified, or have their sins paid for, by Him. So the Servant voluntarily assumes the role given Him by God and bears man’s injustice and iniquity victoriously in noble silence. The Servant did not rebel against evil man’s oppression or God devastating assignment with His words or with His heart.
The Servant though is not a helpless victim of circumstance, but One who in His submissiveness and innocence fulfills the greater purposes of God. Thus in the end He will prosper and be victorious, for His vicarious suffering is God’s plan to accomplish His purpose (CIT). The destiny of servanthood to God is triumph even though its short-run experience may look like defeat. God’s ways are not man’s way. God is the God of eternity, and He is enacting an eternal plan according to His wisdom and power.

I. THE TRIAL, 7.
II. THE TRAGEDY, 8.
III. THE TOMB, 9.

Man’s judgment against the Innocent One begins in verse 7. He was oppressed and He was afflicted (or humbling Himself), Yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.

There is no uncertainty as to who is described in these verses for it was made crystal clear to us in the book of Acts. For when Philip by divine appointment encountered the Ethiopian Eunuch on the road to Jerusalem in Acts 8, the Eunuch was reading these very verses. Then the Eunuch point blank asked Philip about whom the prophet was speaking. Philip then from these very Scriptures preached Jesus to him (Acts 8:35).

As we continue to study Jesus’ meekness and self-surrender and the astounding physical sufferings, let us never forget that the greatest suffering came form bearing the shameful burden of our sins which caused His Father to turn away from His Son.
First, the Servant’s patience in suffering is stressed. Not a word of complaint, not a whimper of protest was heard from the Savior’s mouth once the ordeal had begun. Neither the dreadful treatment by men nor the terrifying judgment of YAHWEH upon Him for our sins brought a word of protest from His smashed and bleeding lips. He was oppressed and He was humbling Himself, Yet He did not open His mouth. He completely surrendered to the will of the Father. He was willing to undergo such treatment and suffering because it was part of the Father’s plan.

We too need to learn this lesson. When we hurt, when we are experiencing affliction we need to endure it in silence also. If not our pain and hurt will cause us to say things that are hurtful, not only to others and ourselves, but to the cause of Christ.

Jesus was oppressed while humbling Himself. Although falsely accused by the chief priests and elders, Jesus held His peace (Mt. 26:63). When they spit on face and smacked Him, He said nothing. When others beat Him and cried, “Prophesy to us who hit You if You are the Christ?” He uttered not a word. A few hours later He stood before Pilate, who said, “Don’t You hear how many things they testify against You?” But the innocent Servant “did not answer him so that the governor marveled greatly” (Mt. 27: 13-14). His innocence and the conviction of His Spirit said and say sufficient to any listening heart.
If you have ever been to a MEAT PACKING PLANT it is an experience you will not soon forget. Cattle moan and moo as they are lead to the slaughter house. Pig and hogs squeal loudly as they are lead to slaughter. But sheep and lambs are different. They are silent as death as they go to slaughter. Even as the man cuts their jugular vein they utter not a sound or cry.
“Opened not His mouth” is a Hebrew idiom for silence and submission. Why did He submit? What motive caused Him to remain silent before His accusers? Why did allow such treatment and offer no word of protest? Listen my friend and listen with gratitude. Jesus was willing to die for sinners. John 10:17-18 says, “For this reason the Father loves Me because I lay down My life so that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me but I lay it down of Myself.”

Patiently, silently, God’s Lamb allowed Himself be led to death. As a lamb brought to the slaughter, a sheep to the shearers, so Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame.” Jesus did not fight against His fate rather He willingly submits to it. The Lamb who was slain for sinners was not driven or forced to go but went of His own free will. He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Verse 7 of Isaiah 53 trumpets the truth that He voluntarily submitted Himself. On the day of Pentecost, Peter said, “Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have Crucified and slain (Acts 2: 23).

The Lord Jesus submitted Himself to the eternal plan of the Godhead. When you ponder the treatment He received in the halls of Justice your sense of justice is violated This meek Person, modest and humble in nature, was stripped by rough Roman soldiers. Then mocked and robe in scarlet. Crowned with sharp thorns. A cane thrust in his hand, only to be snatched away and used as a rod to beat Him. Mocking voices taunted Him, “Hail King of the Jews.” But not a retort did the Lamb of God hurl back at the rude, crude tormentors. Peter wrote of Him, “Who when He was reviled, reviled ( 1 Pet. 2:23).
Any time we are afflicted, justly or unjustly, we cry out. Jesus too could have cried out to the authorities or the people that this was unjust. He could have cried out to God and the afflicted could have become the afflictor. Yet He did not. What a lesson he teach those who suffer unjustly according to the will of God (Pet. 1 Pet. 3:17-18 ).

II. THE TRAGEDY, 8.

Verse 8 describes the unjust treatment of the Servant. By oppression and judgment He was taken away. And as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of My people, to whom the stroke was due?

Having stressed the humble endurance of the Servant in His suffering, the Isaiah gives even more details of the suffering. Neither Jesus friends or enemies, not even Satan himself had the faintest concept of what His death was intended to accomplish. This very ignorance was also prophesied centuries before. The enemies of the Servant used the manipulation of their justice system to work out their hatred of God’s Servant. It is clear that His death would be a judicially approved murder. But human will had no real power over the Servant, as Jesus testified to Pilate.
His unjust death by illegal legalized violence was misunderstood. The expression, “And as for His generation, who considered” means that not only did those who crucified Him not understand the reason for His suffering neither did His followers comprehend what was to be accomplished by His death upon the cross.

Shortly before His death, Christ told His disciples that they were going to Jerusalem, and the He would be delivered to the Gentiles, mocked, spitefully mistreated, spit on scourged and put to death. Luke 18:34 tells us that “they understood none of this things.” Understanding of such a marvel would only come after the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Years later, long after the coming of the Holy Spirit, Simeon Peter wrote, “For Christ also died the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…” (1 Pet. 3:18).
God allowed it that He might punish His Servant for the sins of the people. (Jer. 1:16; Ezek. 5:8; Ps. 143:2). Dying in the place of the guilty, our Lord was “cut off” (nigzar) as if He had been a criminal. The blind violence that cut Him off from the land of the living became the instrument of God’s power. God being holy must judge sin. When our transgressions were laid upon Christ, God the Father judge them and cut off the sin-bear from life.

So that it would not be thought that He died for His own sins, Isaiah wrote, for the transgression of My people, to whom the stroke was due? The concept of substitutionary atonement is again proclaimed. That blow (nega) that was due us caused the Servant to be utterly forsaken by God (Ps. 22:2. The servant then experienced “the Second Death” (Rev. 2:11) for us [Oswalt, Isaiah, 396]. Praise His precious name! For all eternity! Verse 8 spoke of the Servant’s death. Verse 9 speaks of His burial.

III. THE TOMB, 9.

The prophesies of verse 9 were an enigma until Christ fulfilled them. His grave was assigned with wicked men. Yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

Men nailed Him to the Cross with common criminals and “He was numbered with the transgressors.” They would have thrown that blessed body that had been used to do so much good for man into the valley of Hinnom to be burned with the refuse of the city or eaten by dogs. But God permits man to go only so far for it was with a rich man in His death. The Father touched the heart of the believing Pharisee Joseph of Arimathea who in Matthew 27:57 is call a “rich man.” Joseph took the holy body and put it into an expensive tomb he’d had carved for himself. He who came from a virgin’s womb was laid in a virgin tomb.
Jesus who had died like a criminal would be expected to be buried like one, but that would not have fulfilled God’s Word. The prophecy was fulfilled in that He died with the wicked yet He was with a rich man in His death.

No deceit was found in Jesus. He made no false claim, nor spoke no false word. Sin was not found in Him in though, word or deed. He not only did not deserve punishment for the sins of His people, He did not deserve any punishment. He was completely and perfectly innocent.

Some may point with scorn and accuse Christ’s modern day followers of inconsistencies. Let them consider our Savior. They will find no hypocrisy in Him. Thus the Servant was given a honorable burial after His dishonorable death, because God chose to honor His perfect innocence.

CONCLUSION / I remind you friend that the Savior endured the agony of the cross because of your transgressions. To refuse God’s provision is bear the penalty of your own sins. To reject grace and continue in your sins means that God must turn away from you, just like He did His own Son Jesus Christ on the Cross. Don’t turn your back on Jesus. Think of what He has done for you.

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In you place He stood;
Sealed your pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah what a Savior!

My fervent hope is that you have trusted Him as you Savior and Lord. “He was pierced through for our rebellions, crushed for our iniquities.” By believing in the One who was made sin for you, you become the righteousness of God in Him. Amazing Grace how sweet the sound!

[When the Ethiopian read this passage hundreds of years later and learned to understand it, his life was changed, because he came to realize the Servant suffered for him. Acts 8:35-39.

You like the Ethiopian have heard the message. You also need to reflect on the fact and let that the suffering of Jesus have a profound effect upon your life. He died for you! Because of Jesus’ death we need never fear death.
When the Ethiopian learned the meaning of this passage He immediately obeyed Christ by pronouncing Him as Lord and being baptized. Is there a need for this kind of obedience in your life?

If so just bow your head and tell God something like this: Heavenly Father I’m a sinner. I ask for forgiveness and cleansing in Your shed blood. I believe you died for me on the Cross, paying the penalty I deserve. The best I know how I right now place my trust in Jesus. Save me.

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, you’re now a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Your sins are forgiven and you’re on your way to Heaven. Come and let us rejoice with you in your decision.

Haters of God

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Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.

Buddha

2 Timothy 2:23-26

New International Version (NIV)

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Romans 1:28

New International Version (NIV)

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

What an amazing time of study and enrichment I have had today. Looking into word studies associated with gossip, and haters of a Loving God as ours and lets not forget the study on Elijah. I have been blessed to dine with the liberty of eating at my Savior banquet feast. I hope you enjoy these topics and that they render you something in the lines of conviction to get that self improvement I have received just by sharing.

Rcently I listened to an audiobook by a militant advocate for atheisim. As the author read his own work with spiteful sarcasm and contempt, it made me wonder why he was so angry. The Bible tells us that a rejection of God can actually lead to a more hateful attitude towards Him: “Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind…[to become] haters of God”(Romans 1:28-30).

Turning one’s back on God does not lead to secular neutrality. Indeed, recent militant atheist trying to remove crosses or the Ten Commandments from society, it’s easy to respon to their hatred of God with our own hatred. But we’re exhorted to defend the truth with an attitude of love, “humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth”.

The next time you see the works or hear the words of a hater of God, do an attitude check. Then ask God for spirit of humility and pray that the offender might come to the knowledge of the truth.

Lord, help us not respond in kind
To those who hate and turn from you;
Instead, help us to love and pray
That someday they’ll accept what’s true.

This awesome God knows how to defend himself in His power, but do we know how to stand as the instructions of what our word that became flesh says. Prayer is not an empty act, just a fact that it changes things.

Whispering Gallery

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Gossipst-pauls-cathedral

Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Miguel Angel Ruiz

Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
but love covers over all wrongs.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.

14 The wise store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

16 The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips
and spreads slander is a fool.

19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.

23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.

London’s domed St. Paul’s Cathedral has an interesting architectural phenomenon called the “whispering gallery.” One Web site explains it this way: “The name comes from the fact that a person who whispers facing the wall on one side can be clearly heard on the other, since the sound is carried perfectly around the vast curve of the Dome.” In other words, you and a friend could sit on opposite sides of architect Sir Christopher Wren’s great cathedral and carry on a conversation without having to speak above a whisper.

While that may be a fascinating feature of St. Paul’s Cathedral, it can also be a warning to us. What we say about others in secret can travel just as easily as whispers travel around that gallery. And not only can our gossip travel far and wide, but it often does great harm along the way. Perhaps this is why the Bible frequently challenges us about the ways we use words. The wise King Solomon wrote, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise”(Proverbs 10:19).


Instead of using whispers and gossip that can cause hurt and pain while serving no good purpose, we would do better to restrain ourselves and practice silence. It would serve us to usher ourselves into our Father’s presence and confess the thoughts and feelings of pain and hurt, because I am daily giving things over that plague my peace. Please brothers don’t speak words that hurt each other. Sisters love us who have not grown up as of yet, but want to love you.

Lord, help us bridle what we say
And tend our conversations,
Avoiding careless gossiping
That murders reputations
Gossip ends at a wise person’s ears.

I Thank God for Prayer

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Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired.

Martin Luther

I praise God for being real to me. I thank God for every mountain He brought me over, for every trial He has seen me through. I woke up this un-promised day by the ruler of the universe with purpose and good health. I thank God for not allowing death to grace my life today nor any of the gifts of individuals aligned with my life, I praise Elohim for watching over my enemies associated with my life and this country. I thank God for prayer and His attentative ear that I trust hears my evey prayer. I thank God for being fair, firm , and just when it comes to loving His creation.

James 5:17

New International Version (NIV)

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.

Thank God Elijah was “just like us”! He sat under a tree, complained to God, and expressed his belief–just as we have often done. Yet this was not the case at all when he was truly in touch with God. “Elijah was a man just like us,” yet “he prayed earnestly.” The literal meaning of this in the greek is magnificent: instead of saying, “earnestly,” It says, “He prayed in prayer.” My God I am feeling this and His presence this morning: In other words, “He kept on praying.” The lesson here is that you must keep praying.

Climb to the top of Mount Carmel and see that great story of faith and sight. After Elijah had called down fire from heaven to defeat the prophets of Baal, rain was needed for God’s prophecy to be fulfilled. And the man who could command fire from heaven could bring rain using the same methods. We are told, “Elijah…bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees”(1Kings 18:42), shutting out all sights and sounds. He put himself in a position, beneath his robe, to meither see nor hear what was happening.

Elijah then said to his servant,”Go and look towards the sea”. Upon returning, the servant replied, “There is nothing there.” How brief his response must have seemed! “Nothing!” Can you imagine what we would do under the same circumstances? We would say,”just as I expected!” and then would stop praying. But did Elijah give up? No. In fact, six times he told his servant,”Go back,” Each time the servant returned saying, “Nothing!”

Yet “the seventh time the servant reported,’A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea'”. What a fitting description, for a man’s hand had been raised in prayer to God before the rains came. And the rains came so fast and furiously that Elijah warned Ahab to “go down before the rain stops you.”

My faith says what Elijah faith said. I can see the breaking of day in my life. The system of this world would winn if I didn’t have God in me who is greater than “Me” that used to be world centered. I have faith that sooner or later it will turn around for me as it did for the Man of God. Felonies, convictions, lack of materialisim, lack of hope, fear of the uncertain is turning around for me, I can see the hand in the clouds of doubt and dispair forming in mu behalf. “Yes” my God is in love with “Me” and His promises are for “Me” and I will have what I have need of in this life because He is in control.

This story of faith and sight–faith cutting itself off from everything except God, with sight that looks and yet sees nothing. Yes, in-spite of utterly hopeless reports received from sight, this story of faith that continues “praying in prayer.” Willie Ashley my brother in the faith, I encourage you in Jesus name to be this way. Shut off your incarceration and focus on ‘ABBA” let Him soothe your natural appearances and see yourself from a faith perspective. We agree with the will of God for your life.

Do you know how to pray in that way–how to prevail in prayer? Let your sight bring you reports of discouraging as possible, but pay no attention to them. Our heavenly Father lives, and even the delays of answers to our prayers are part of His goodness. Each of three young boys once gave a definition of faith that illustrates the important aspect of tenacity. The first boy defined faith as “taking hold of Christ,” the second as “keeping our hold on Him,” and the third as “not letting go of Him.”

Equality in Higher Education

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Does race have a place in University Admissions? Consider two cases.

In 1946, an African American man, Heman Marion Sweatt, believed he should be allowed to attend Law School in his home state of Texas – which prohibited integrated education at the time. He took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in Sweatt v. Painter, challenging the “separate but equal” doctrine of racial segregation and laying a foundation to end segregation at universities across the country – especially the South.

Over sixty years later, in 2008, Abigail Fisher said the same thing, but from a slightly different vantage point: She was white. She too argued that race should not play a factor in admissions policies – in this case, focusing on affirmative action policies designed to increase diversity on The University of Texas at Austin’s campus. Her case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 and now has the potential to end admissions policies that consider race at public universities across the country.

Both cases argue for fairness and equality in education. Both ask for race not to be considered as a factor for admission. So then – what should fairness in education look like today? Are there societal factors that cannot be ignored in the pursuit of equality at the individual level? Watch a clip from KLRU-TV’s new journalism project that is examining a issue that has become one of the most-watched US Supreme Court cases of this term.

So, what do you think? What does equality in education look like today? I would like to hear your thoughts below. Be honest. Be bold. Be you. However, I also ask that you be courteous and stick to the issues.

Silent Enemies

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During my tour of service I could not imagine seeing something like this take place, let alone me taking part in it. My horror experienced while serving has given me issues of depression and coupled with my life horrific experiences while separated from service has made me passionate about others who endure these attacks from the enemy of our soul. My wife and I are preparing ourselves for this type of work. With her almost completion of her studies in psychology and us both getting certified for drug and alcohol counselors, we will have the anointing and life experience to get us through to be affective in shock absorbing our clients pain.

If you want enemies, excel others; if you want friends, let others excel you.

CHARLES CALEB COLTON, Lacon

At 21, Jacinda considered her male coworkers in the Navy to be her brothers. That was before she awoke in a drunken haze, bleeding from being anally raped after a party at the barracks.

She couldn’t find her shirt; so she wrapped a blanket around herself and walked directly across the street to the military police. They told Jacinda she shouldn’t have been drinking among so many men, and that she should chalk up the consequences to poor judgment and go home. The military police also intimidated her with threats of imprisonment if her report were judged to be false.

Frightened, Jacinda lied about her injuries when she went to the infirmary.

That was 15 years ago. Today, Jacinda says, “I’m unable to maintain relationships. I don’t trust men. I have no children. I also have OCD behaviors, such as checking and rechecking locked doors. I pull out my hair sometimes, one strand at a time. I chew my nails to the bone, and I suffer from panic attacks and generalized anxiety.”

It took many years and four denials before the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) finally granted Jacinda resources to help treat her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Jacinda says she doesn’t regret her military service, but she wouldn’t do it again.

Jacinda’s story is far from unique. In 2012, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that, while the number of military sexual assaults reported the previous year totaled around 3,000, the actual number of rapes was likelier to be 19,000. And as the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Invisible War demonstrated, military sexual assault (MST) is a veritable epidemic across the armed forces.

TakePart spoke to a handful of survivors about their personal experiences with MST. Their names have all been changed.

Jessica Hinves (her real name) came from a military family. Joining the Air Force at age 24 seemed a natural choice. She was in her room at an Air Force base when an airman she knew broke in through the bathroom and raped her. She went to the hospital, hoping desperately that no one at work would find out.

Hinves failed to receive the privacy she wanted. A girl in the next room found out that Hinves had requested a forensic kit (rape kit) and promptly told Hinves’s supervisor. Hinves was terrified.

She tells TakePart of the man who raped her: “I knew the type of guy he appeared to be. If it hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. He just didn’t seem capable of something like this. I feared I would be ostracized. I needed others to do some of my duties as a jet mechanic. I feared no one would work with me for fear that I would get them in trouble. Sexual harassment was a common thing and accepted throughout my squadron. I knew people would be leery of me and afraid that I might report them as well.”

Treatment proved to be difficult. She tells TakePart, “I thought I was going crazy after this happened. I wanted to be institutionalized to get a handle on my life again, but the only place available had all males on the floor and wouldn’t allow me to lock my door at night. I couldn’t bear it; so I was put in an outpatient facility with combat vets. I was relieved to know someone else was going through what I was, and I wasn’t going crazy. I was sleeping with knives and had weapons hid in my locker at work, in my house, and in my car. I couldn’t sleep because of the dreams. I couldn’t go out of my house for fear of what people were capable of.”

Now 31, Hinves says, “I regret I didn’t know rape was a hazard to military service.… I loved the military. I wish this never happened so I could still be doing what I loved.”

Sienna was 31 when she joined the Navy. She hoped to secure an education and to travel the world. She invited a coworker, who had recently returned from a yearlong deployment, out for beers with her friends. She drank a couple of beers, but he drank far more, and ended up vomiting in the parking lot. She offered to let him crash on her couch.

“He came into my room after I went to bed,” she tells TakePart. “I said no repeatedly and did fight him off. I thought it was over, but after I fell asleep he came back in my room. He pinned me while I was asleep.” She awoke to find the man on top of her, raping her.

Sienna didn’t report the rape: She would have been required to admit that she’d driven a vehicle after having a few beers. She feared being charged with an alcohol-related incident. She also felt that as a female mechanic, it would have ruined her career.

Her PTSD began with sleep problems and progressed to crippling panic attacks. She eventually left work for two months to seek psychiatric help. She also sought treatment in a military PTSD program.

Today, she’s a 40-year-old college student studying to be a trauma counselor. She tells TakePart, “Everything that happened to me has made me stronger. My experiences will help me help others.”

Iron Man – The Learning Curve

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When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.

Tecumseh

I love superheroes.
My mom once told of the times I’d go out into the yard with a bath towel tied around my neck and would “fly” around the yard. And when I was a kid I read comic books about superheroes, watched TV shows and cartoons and went to the movies to watch them battle for truth, justice and the American way. In fact, I still do.

So, when a new movie comes out that retells one of those stories, I often buy a ticket, some popcorn, and sit down to enjoy myself.
This past month, there was a movie about a superhero in the theatres. Does anybody know who it was about? That’s right: Iron Man II. And ever since the release of the first of these two movies, I saw some Biblical themes that I wanted to explore for a sermon series.

For those of you not familiar with the “story” about Iron Man, it was a comic book series started by Stan Lee for Marvel Comics back in the 60’s. It was the story of a technological genius who’d been making weapons for the military but who began to realize that some of his weapons were being sold to bad guys.

Iron man’s suit wasn’t made of iron, but the image of an iron suit symbolized the virtual invulnerability of this hero to bullets, rockets and bombs big enough to level New York City. In his suit, Iron Man could fly, generate beams of energy and shoot his own array of bullets and rockets at the bad guys.

But, as with all movies about superheroes, one of the fun things is to watch how they go through the process of learning about their powers. There’s a learning curve they have go through to reach their full potential.

(Video of Iron Man I where he learns to use his suit. We began the presentation about an hour into the movie, where “Stark” suits up for his first flight, and ends where he crashes through 3 floors of his home onto one of his prized vehicles. It last about 3 or 4 minutes).

In Scripture, God uses Iron for a number of images. And amongst those images are the ideas that iron represents strength and endurance. As in our passage this morning:
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

When we became Christians God placed within us the power of iron. Romans 8:11 tells us “… the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you”
The power the Spirit of God revealed when it raised Jesus from the dead is the very same power that lies inside of each of us who belong to Christ. God’s Spirit has placed iron in our souls. And that Spirit gives us the ability to be strong and endure many of the difficulties of life.

But Proverbs 27:17 implies that (even as God’s people) we don’t start out that way. We don’t automatically begin our walk with Christ knowing exactly how to utilize the power His Spirit places within us. We have a learning curve that we need to go thru…
… so that we can be sharpened
… so that we can be honed
… so that we can have all the qualities of iron we need in our lives.

So how do we do that?
How do we take that quality of iron God has placed inside us and make it all that it can be?

Proverbs 27 says that as iron sharpens iron… SO ONE MAN SHARPENS ANOTHER
As Christians we need someone to help us grow in our faith

And God teaches that to us from the outset of our Christianity.

In the Great Commission Jesus commands us to “… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” Matthew 28:19-20

Even when we become Christians, God set things up so that we would need another Christian there to guide us through the beginnings of our faith.

ILLUS: Our Southern Gospel Quartet took part in a gospel sing in another part of the state and we headlined for an excellent professional group from Ohio. This group did an excellent job of involving the audience in their singing and then they took a break. The lead singer began to talk to them about salvation and he asked them to all close their eyes and bow their heads and he asked for a show of hands of those who wanted to become Christians. One man raised his hand. The singer then informed the man that he should “ask Jesus into His heart” and led him in a “sinner’s prayer.” It was all very well done and very moving.
But there was one problem with all that.
There’s no sinner’s prayer in the Bible. Nowhere in God’s Word is anyone ever told to “ask Jesus into your heart.” It’s just not there.
I know it’s a popular thing to do in religious circles, and it has some significant advantages (for one thing, it’s easy and simple in its appeal). But if it’s not what the early church did, then there’s a problem here. And I can think of one grave disadvantage this sinner’s prayer has.

How many people does it take to “ask Jesus into your heart” (not biblical by the way)
JUST ONE = the pray-er.
How many people does it take to be baptized?
TWO – one to baptize, one to BE baptized.

The unbiblical practice of praying the prayer of salvation presumes converts will always have somebody there to teach them. But that doesn’t always happen! People who are led to believe praying to receive Jesus is Biblical often do so in their cars and homes where there is no Christian there to disciple them.
By contrast – the Biblical practice of baptism requires that the new Christian have someone else there with them – the person who baptizes them. And that person who baptizes them is expected by Christ to take responsibility for them & to teach them the basics of the faith. That’s what we’re taught in the Great Commission.

But even after baptism, God involves us with one another. That’s why Christ established the church. Ephesians 5:25-27 says it this way
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

Jesus died for the church.
Jesus died to establish the body of believers you belong to.
Part of the reason He went to the cross was create an atmosphere where we could sharpen the iron in those who worship with us.

So, it’s not true that you can be just as good a Christian without going to church
You can’t simply say “Well, I’m there in Spirit… but I don’t have to be there in body and soul. ILLUS: It’s kind of like the true story of an incident that took place at a University. This university had a policy that if the professor was 10 minutes late for class… it was cancelled. But one day a professor put his hat on his desk and then went to the faculty room. He apparently lost track of time and when he arrived back at the class he was 10 minutes late and found it room empty.
He was furious.
When the class next met, he informed his students “When my hat is here, I’m here!”
His class learned their lesson well. The following day, the professor arrived at 9 a.m. and he was met by the sight of 25 hats on the desks – but no students. (Albert I. Raizman, Reader’s Digest 1/05 p. 54)

Their hats were there!
They were there in spirit… but not in body.
But they weren’t really in class.
They weren’t behaving as true students should.
They weren’t going to learn anything… because THEY WEREN’T there.

AND – as Christians – we’re not going to gain anything if we’re not together with the church!

So we need to BE in church. But even that’s not enough.
Have you ever known of a student who goes to class and doesn’t learn anything?
Of course you have. And similarly, a Christian can be in a church building but not get anything out of worship. That’s because Jesus designed the church to be a place…
… NOT where we GET something out of it
… but where PUT something into it.

Heb 10:24-25 instructs us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

You see – the purpose of church is to sharpen the iron that God has placed within us.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
That means that your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ NEED you.

The Bible repeatedly drives home the fact that we need to BE THERE for each other.
· 1Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “… encourage one another and build each other up…”
· Romans 15:1 says “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.”
· Romans 12:15 says we should “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
· And Galatians 6:1-2 says “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”

We need to be there for each other, because we NEED each other.
We’ll never attain the fullness of Christ until we understand that significant fact.

Years ago, when I read the King James Version of 2 Corinthians 3:18 I gained an interesting insight: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Glory to glory.
When I first read that verse an image came into my mind. I visualized a person on a staircase, climbing up into God’s presence… glory unto glory. Every step they took was an accomplishment. Every step they took brought them up higher… closer to God.

But that image also told me something about our responsibilities to each other.
· Some people are a several steps up the staircase.
· Some are on the first step or two.

Unfortunately there are those who look down on those on the lower steps and they wonder why all those other folks aren’t as spiritual as they are, or attend Sunday School as often as they do, or understand how to tithe like they do.

But that’s not how God wants us to look at other in the church. If others are lower down on the staircase than you are… your job is to help them up the stairs. God expects you and I to reach down and take them by the hand and encourage them. To urge them on to greater deeds of love and good works. God expects us to sharpen each other… to bring out the quality of iron that God has placed inside us.

In fact, this is so important to God… that’s He’s watching.
Hebrews 6:10 tells us “God… will not forget … the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

God’s watching… He takes this seriously
Back when He made a covenant with Abraham, He told him “I will bless those who bless you… and I will curse those who curse you.”

He was telling Abraham “I’m watching. I’m paying attention if others treat you well, or if they don’t.

And in the New Testament, God repeated this promise
In Matthew 10:42 Jesus said “if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
What’s that mean? = I will bless those who bless My people

In 2 Thessalonians 1:6 Paul writes “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.”
What’s that mean? = I will curse those who curse you

And that’s easy to understand.
If you are nice to my kids… I’m inclined to be nice to you
But if you hurt one of my kids… you better look out!

Now that brings me to my last point. God expects us to be nice to each other, to build each other up. But that’s not always easy to do.
As one person said: “It’s easy to be an angel when nobody is ruffling your feathers.

It’s easy to be kind to other Christians when they’re doing things I agree with. When they’re not offending me. When they haven’t sinned against me… etc, etc.

But Jesus has a couple of rules about that

1. What if I’ve sinned against a brother/sister? What should I do? (go to them)
Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Don’t even bother trying to offer a gift to God if your brother/ sister in Christ has been offended by you. Go make it right.

Now, what if a brother/sister sins against me?
What if they tick me off?
What does Jesus say I have to do?

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
You are to GO to them.
Not to argue with them/or beat them over the head with your Bible.
Your objective should be to win them over.

So, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve sinned against them – or they’ve sinned against you – YOU have to go to them and get things right.
WHY?
Because God wants us to sharpen each other… He wants us to help each other.

Now… how many of you agree with Jesus on this? (ask for a show of hands).
I’m glad you do.
But it’s one thing to SAY you agree with Jesus, it’s quite another to commit yourself to obeying Him in matters such as this. So what I’m going to ask you to do today is to make a vow before God. A vow is a very serious thing, and God will hold you accountable if you break it.
The vow I’m asking you to make today is that if another Christian offends you (preacher, elders, Sunday School teachers, fellow Christians of any stripe) that you will go to them and try to make it right. You’ll be vowing not to talk about them behind their backs or to convince others of how badly this person has mistreated you. You will go to them and try to win them over.
If you’re willing to make this vow today, I ask you to stand up where you are.
Make the heros confession and join the team that never will die, but live eternally.

Resilience

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Empower A Felon

You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined.

Elizabeth Edwards

Have you heard the tale of the aloe plant,
Away in the sunny clime?
By humble growth of a hundred years
It reaches its blooming time;
And then a wondrous bud at its crown
Breaks into a thousand flowers;
This floral queen, in its blooming seen,
Is the pride of the tropical bowers,
But the flower to the plant is sacrifice,
For it blooms but once, and it dies.

Have you further heard of the aloe plant,
That grows in the sunny clime;
How every one of its thousand flowers,
As they drop in the blooming time,
Is an infant plant that fastens its roots
In the place where it falls on the ground,
And as fast as they drop from the dying stem,
Grow lively and lovely all ’round?
By dying, it liveth a thousandfold
In the young that spring from the death of the old.

Have you heard the tale of the pelican,
The Arabs’ Gimel el Bahr,
That lives in the African solitudes,
Where the birds that live lonely are?
Have you heard how it loves its tender young,
And cares and toils for their good,
It brings them water from mountains far,
And fishes the seas for their food.
In famine it feeds them–what love can devise!
The blood of its bosom–and, feeding them, dies.

Have you heard this tale–the best of them all–
The tale of the Holy and True,
He dies, but His life, in unfold souls
Lives on in the world anew;
His seed prevails, and is filling the earth,
As stars fill the sky above.
He taught us to yield up the love of life,
For the sake of the life of love.
His death is our life, His loss is our gain;
The joy for the tear, the peace for the pain.

Philippians 3:8

New International Version (NIV)
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ

Light is always costly and comes at the expense of that which produces it. An unlit candle does not shine, for burning must come before the light. And we can be of little use to others with-out a cost to ourselves. Burning suggest suffering, and we try to avoid pain.

We tend to feel we are doing the greatest good in the world when we are strong and fit for active duty and when our hearts and hands are busy with kind acts of service. Therefore when we set aside to suffer, when we are sick, when we are consumed with pain, and when all our activities have been stopped, we feel we are no longer of any use and are accomplishing nothing.

Yes if we will be patient and submissive, it is almost certain we will be a greater blessing to the world around us during our time of suffering and pain than we were when we thought we were doing our greatest work. Then we are burning, and shinning brightly as a result of the fire. The glory of tomorrow is rooted in the drudgery of today.

Many people want the glory without the cross, and the shinning light without the burning fire, but crucifixion comes before coronation.

Felony Disenfranchisement: A Holdover from the Jim Crow Era

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From the 1880s into the 1960s, a majority of American states enforced segregation through “Jim Crow” laws (so called after a black character in minstrel shows). From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated. Here is a sampling of laws from various states.

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Nurses: No person or corporation shall require any white female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms in hospitals, either public or private, in which negro men are placed. Alabama

Buses: All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored races. Alabama

Railroads: The conductor of each passenger train is authorized and required to assign each passenger to the car or the division of the car, when it is divided by a partition, designated for the race to which such passenger belongs. Alabama

Restaurants: It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectually separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided for each compartment. Alabama

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Pool and Billiard Rooms: It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other at any game of pool or billiards. Alabama

Toilet Facilities, Male: Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities. Alabama

Intermarriage: The marriage of a person of Caucasian blood with a Negro, Mongolian, Malay, or Hindu shall be null and void. Arizona

Intermarriage: All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a person of negro descent to the fourth generation inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited. Florida

Cohabitation: Any negro man and white woman, or any white man and negro woman, who are not married to each other, who shall habitually live in and occupy in the nighttime the same room shall each be punished by imprisonment not exceeding twelve (12) months, or by fine not exceeding five hundred ($500.00) dollars. Florida

Education: The schools for white children and the schools for negro children shall be conducted separately. Florida

It was the biggest suppression of voting rights in our country’s history since Jim Crow. And the thread of race runs from the beginning to the end of my book.

Sidney Blumenthal

Last week, the Delaware State legislature approved a constitutional amendment to all but remove the last Jim Crow-era voter suppression law from its books.

The amendment, passed at the urging of the Delaware NAACP, allows people with nonviolent felony convictions to vote after their release from prison. This is a major victory for voting rights and a strike against the practice of “felony disenfranchisement.” But it is also a major step forward for a nation still struggling to heal old racial wounds.

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Felony disenfranchisement has direct roots in the Jim Crow Era. In the late 19th century, states above and below the Mason-Dixon Line began to find new and creative ways to keep black voters away from the polls. Banning people with felony convictions was one of the solutions.

For example, in 1901 the Commonwealth of Virginia had 147,000 black voters on the rolls. But many lawmakers saw this growing political block as a threat. At that year’s Constitutional Convention, they hatched a plan to disenfranchise African Americans through a combination of black codes and felony disenfranchisement. One legislator said on the record that the plan would “eliminate the darkey as a political factor.”

Ninety years later, Kemba Smith-Pradia was an undergraduate student at Hampton University. She got involved with the wrong crowd and found herself behind bars as an accessory to a nonviolent drug offense. President Clinton granted Kemba executive clemency in 2000, six years into her 24-year sentence. She went on to become a college graduate, law student, mother and foundation president — but until 2012, when her rights were finally restored, not a voter.

Kemba’s story is just one example of how the legacy of the 1901 Convention lives on. In today’s Virginia, 350,000 people are still disenfranchised by the 1901 law, and many of them are African Americans. Nationwide, 48 states allow some form of felony disenfranchisement, and one out of every 13 voting-age African Americans is affected. In four states — Virginia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Florida — disenfranchisement can be permanent.

When Virginia introduced felony disenfranchisement in 1901, they also expanded the list of felony crimes. By raising the penalty for a number of minor offenses, they planned to lock African Americans in the prison system — and out of the political system. A century later, our drug laws have the same amplifying effect. African Americans are far more likely to be arrested for minor drug crimes, and therefore more likely to have their vote taken away.

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The good news is that Delaware and other states are beginning to turn the tide. In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell has sped up the review process for those who have finished the terms of their sentence. So far he has restored the votes of more than 4,000 citizens. And Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who callously eliminated automatic restoration of voting rights early in his term, is now taking steps toward restoring those rights.

These are certainly steps in the right direction, but there is more work to do. Virginia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Florida still allow permanent disenfranchisement, and 44 other states permit some level of felony disenfranchisement.

You can learn about the law in your state at http://www.restorethevotes.org. If you or someone in your community is affected, you can use that information to educate your family, your community and your elected officials about why this is an important issue.

Felony disenfranchisement is an affront to our democracy. Millions of people like Kemba Smith-Pradia — parents, workers, and community leaders — pay taxes, raise families and contribute to society. But they cannot fully participate in our democracy.

If poll taxes, literacy tests, and gumball-counting tests could be outlawed because of their racist intent, then felony disenfranchisement laws from the same era should be overturned today.

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What Does the Resurrection have to do with me?

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Emmanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor.

Author: Charles Spurgeon

The cross is God’s gracious response to our own sinful and willful irresponsibility, choices, and actions. We sin. We are perpetrators of evil—and this separates us from God. It is this aspect of sin that has been dealt with by the vicarious sacrifice of the atonement.

But we are also victims of sin. We have enemies who harm us. We are victims who have been sinned against in numerous ways. Because of sins done to us, we are also captive, held in bondage by powers in some sense external to us and greater than we are. Or we may be held in bondage to our own desires or fears, our self-centeredness or despair. Sometimes the Bible describes the human problem as suffering, being in bondage, slavery, or captivity, each and all of which separate us from God.

What we need in this regard is for God to fight on our behalf, against our enemy, for our freedom from bondage. This is what God did in the Exodus for his people. The clearest and most powerful manifestation of God doing this for us is Christ’s victory over death in the resurrection (Eph. 1:19–20). In this victory over principalities, powers, and death, the Son reclaims creation for the Father and freedom for you. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:15)

In answering the question, “How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?” the Heidelberg Catechismanswers: “First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he won for us by his death. Second, by his power we too are already now resurrected to a new life. Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.”

God accomplished redemption in Christ’s victory over sin and death, but the effects of that victory have yet to be fully realized. So while the ultimate outcome has been assured (Rom. 8:18–21; 1 Cor. 15:51–57; Revelation 21), the struggle between life and death, good and evil, continues. However, the shalom (i.e. peace in its fullest sense), freedom, and rest of redemption will one day be fully realized when Jesus returns.

Jesus was physically raised from death as “the firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18), securing a future resurrection like his own for all those who are united to him through faith. Through his triumphant resurrection, Jesus opened the way for us to experience resurrection and eternal life in the new earth when he returns instead of the death we deserve.

Christ’s victory gives us back our identity and restores our meaning. We recognize, and may truly know for the first time, that we have a future that ends in peace, as well as a past that can be healed and forgiven, and now live in the hope of the gospel. Christ opens up for us a new identity because he himself remained always true to his identity, a share of which he offers to us.

In Christ’s victory, fear and shame are banished, to be replaced by profound joy that we are no longer strangers to God and to one another, that we are no longer so utterly isolated and alone.

42-Michael Jordan- Martin Luther King Jr. Courage in Adversity

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America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

Barack Obama

Not so long ago, black athletes were segregated from participating with white athletes due to the Jim Crow Laws established after the Plessy V. Ferguson (1896) Supreme Court case.

Black athletes, as were their non-athletic brothers and sisters, were seen as racially inferior and not worthy of socially mixing with whites.

However, these purely promoted brave athletes slowly but positive social change against the racism and later racial prejudice in this country by their heroic example both in and out of the athletic arena.

Jackie Robinson didn’t choose baseball. Baseball chose him — and in more ways than the mere fact that Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey plucked Robinson from obscurity in the mid-’40s, making him the first African American major league baseball player.

Robinson tried his hand at several sports before eventually stumbling upon an opportunity to play pro baseball.
Robinson met a former player for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League as his military tour was coming to an end. (After he refused to sit at the back of an Army bus, Robinson was transferred to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, where he became an athletics coach. Shortly thereafter he was honorably discharged.) Robinson was convinced by the former pro athlete to try out and wrote to Monarchs’ co-owner Thomas Baird. A few months later, in early 1945,

Robinson accepted a contract, paying him $400 per month — a good amount of money for him at that time.
“He just happened to be playing for the Monarchs when the Dodgers just happened to be looking for a guy,” Dodgers team historian Mark Langill told Yahoo! Movies of Robinson’s good fortune. “It’s not like he dreamed of being in the majors. They found him instead of the other way around,” Langill added.
Langill contends Robinson chose that contract with the Monarchs because he was about to get married and simply needed the money. And when he got recruited to the Brooklyn Dodgers soon afterward, Negro league players grumbled: Robinson wasn’t considered as good as Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, who were deemed the best pure ball players of the time.

In the United States since World War II, the world of sport has undergone dramatic changes. The first decade after the war witnessed the resurgence of baseball as the national sport, particularly with the return of hero-athletes, the formation and development of the National Basketball Association, and the transformation of professional football into a powerhouse organization vying with baseball as the national sport. That competition continues to this day, with the profound irony that in some quarters the Black athlete is now seen as “saving” baseball1.* In the pre-World War II years, the Black athlete was restricted from competition in all the professional sports. Only in the Olympics, because of its international nature, were Black athletes allowed to compete unrestricted.

This situation reversed the mores of the later 19th and early 20th centuries, where in football, basketball, and horse racing, for example, black and white athletes competed against each other. But as Black athletes increasingly began to dominate their sports, as was clearly the case in bicycling and horse racing, white athletes and managers decided to ban interracial competition. The contemptuous posture and defiance of superb Black heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson only fanned the flames of fear and resentment among whites. After his defeat in 1915, white champion boxers refused to fight a Black man until 1936 when Joe Louis defeated Jimmy Braddock to become boxing’s world champion.

To mask the real fear of loss to Black competitors in sports and elsewhere, the white population fabricated a number of myths about Black people, claiming Blacks suffered from low intelligence, criminal tendencies, and inferior physicality. These sick myths that served white skin privilege began to explode when Eddie Tolan and Ralph Metcalfe, distinguished themselves in the 1932 Olympics, as did Jesse Owens (most famously), and Metcalfe, among other Black athletes were to in the 1936 Berlin games, where Nazis were, like many White Americans, claiming to be of a superior race.

It was bitterly ironic, perhaps even farcical, that these Negroes should disprove abroad the very theories that confined and oppressed them at home. Yet nothing at home changed upon their return — except that no longer could the myth of Black people’s laziness and lack of ambition be promoted unimpeachably, since the historical record was clear internationally.

Consequently, when Joe Louis defeated Primo Carnera in 1935, a reporter wrote, “Something sly and sinister and, perhaps, not quite human, came out of the African jungle, last night, to strike down and utterly demolish the huge hulk that had been Primo Carnera, the giant.”.2*

In addition, the New York Sun noted that the “American Negro was “a natural athlete.”.3*

It is perhaps symptomatic of the times that a syndicated newspaper columnist, Hugh S. Johnson wrote, in 1938 , “The average of white intelligence is above the average of Black intelligence, probably because the white race, is several thousand years farther away from jungle savagery. But, for the same reason, the average of white physical equipment, is lower. .4*

Similarly, in the Atlanta Journal, commenting on Jessie Owens’ exploits at the Berlin Olympics, O.B. Keeler wrote, “Our fastest runners are colored boys, and our longest jumpers and highest leapers. And now, our champion fighting men with the fists is Joseph Louis Barrow.”.5*

It is testimony to the pervasive view of the Black athlete as somehow subhuman, that both Northern and Southern U.S. newspapers and commentators shared the view that the “new” strong Black athlete was now so because of his jungle ancestry. That view is still largely held, but perhaps better concealed amidst intonations that Black athletes are simply, naturally “athletic,” as opposed to being intelligent, critically astute practitioners of an intense work ethic which makes possible their excellence in the aesthetics of athletic play and competition.

Even as recently as September, 1995, Roger Bannister, the first man to break the four minute mile barrier, was reported to have said that Black sprinters “have certain natural anatomical advantages.”.6*

While the position of Black athletes at the college ranks is not as well studied and documented as that of professional athletes, the most cursory inspection shows that all colleges and universities, except for marginal, and perhaps, denominational schools have to some degree integrated since 1960. In all these areas, Black college athletes have excelled in tandem with their counterparts in professional sports. There are more Black quarterbacks in college football than ever before. Although there is a prejudice in the professional ranks against Black quarterbacks, many argue that the greater numbers of them in the National Football league draft will increase pressure to change the current, fearful attitude toward Black men in leadership roles. Significantly then, in this year’s championships of college basketball, the majority of the players there who reached the Sweet Sixteen and the Final Four, were overwhelmingly Black. The Most Outstanding Player in the final game between the University of Kentucky and Syracuse University, Tony Delk, is a Black player. In track and field, particularly in the coming Olympics, the overwhelming number of Black American athletes in proportion to white Olympians is radically disproportionate to the Black population in overall U.S. society.

Apart from numbers in the professional leagues, one index of the changing status of Black professional athletes is their income. In the 60s and 70s, the case could be argued that the Black athlete was financially and otherwise undervalued to a point that made arbitration and serious salary negotiations impossible. The dean of American sports writers, Sam Lacy, sports editor of the Baltimore Afro-American, noted in 1967 that “the African American player was much quicker to sign a contract than white players, and in comparison, was woefully under paid.”.14*. During the 1980s and 1990s, the situation changed dramatically. In 1991, for example, Sports Illustrated noted that Eric Dickerson of football’s Indianapolis Colts had just signed a $10.65 million dollar contract over a four year period, making him one of the highest paid players in football..15*In 1990, the twelve highest paid players in National Basketball Association were all Black. In baseball another story has unfolded in the 1980s and 90s.

In 1990, the number of Black professional baseball players continued to decline, reaching only 17% in 1992 while Black attendance also declined. But of the remaining Black players, a significant number commanded more than ordinary salaries. In 1991, Dwight Gooden signed a contract with the New York Mets for three years and $15.4 million to become baseball’s second-highest paid player. Since 1991, at least 4 Black players have exceeded Gooden’s salaries. For example, Cecil Fielder, Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, and now Ken Griffey, Jr. all earn in excess of $7 million annually in multi-year contracts. The average of Griffey’s salary earnings, spread over his 4 year current contract, is $8.5 million per year, making him the single highest paid baseball player in history..16*

Salaries alone do not tell the entire story. Increasingly, an expanding group of African American athletes receive additional income far in excess of their salaries for endorsing products from breakfast cereals to automobiles. This was not always the case. In fact, the first Black athlete of the football Chicago Bears, Walter Payton, did not appear on the Wheaties box until 1986. Now, in 1996, Michael Jordan of basketball’s Chicago Bulls and sports’ highest paid athlete is expected to earn 90% of his $40 million through endorsements. While this situation does not characterize the majority of Black athletes, it does include a significant number, and is in happy contrast to the 1960s and before, when the picture of an African American on a breakfast cereal box was simply unthinkable.

Today the United States observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to honour the life and work of the great civil rights leader.

King is most famously remembered for his legendary “I have a dream” speech, and his leadership in the non-violent civil disobedience for civil rights for African Americans.
And rightly so. King was a transformative figure and a once-in-a-generation kind of leader. King deservingly holds the distinction of being the only individual American with a current U.S. holiday named after him.
But what’s often forgotten when most think of King — and certainly isn’t taught to my generation or portrayed in the mainstream media’s depiction of him — is that he was a champion not only of civil rights and racial equality, but also of labour rights and economic equality.

By the end of his life, King came to the belief that mere legal equality between black and white Americans was inadequate.

The crimes of the system and the reform we need; Wake up People!!!

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Second Chance Alliance Reentry Program

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One ever feels his twoness – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

W. E. B. Du Bois

I contemplate often the choices I made that are so in my past, but I fall daily to the harassment of the enemy of my soul due to the social and economic challenges that face so many of my people. There are many new and innovative practices to disqualify you as an individual and race of people. It is my hope that someone reads between the lines and gets motivated to continue to fight with their minds and not their hands.

I hope as you take a look at this post it synergize you into getting clean of all drugs and ill behavior to position yourself for success. We have so many achievers and over-comers who strived through  much more hideous acts of racism and oppression…

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America’s history is a weapon

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Second Chance Alliance Reentry Program

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

John F. Kennedy

History

America; the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”  A nation that guarantees “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  A “shining city” set on a hill with “equal justice under law.”  A “beacon of light” to all mankind.  The bastion of “freedom and democracy.”  “wind swept and God blessed” from “sea to shining sea.”

For over four centuries Americans have  professed and lived these values.  We’re a nation founded by people of virtue, honor, integrity and a deep and abiding love of God and appreciation for the sanctity of human life.  On the base of the Statue of Liberty are the words:
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to…

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A Family in Trouble

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If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.

Abdul Kalam

Malachi 4:4-6

New International Version (NIV)

4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.

5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

Matthew 1:1-2

New International Version (NIV)The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

1 This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

Luke 1:16

New International Version (NIV)
16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.

Many of America’s thirty million white-tailed deer find themselves endangered not by guns, but by the cars of our expanding suburbs. I was reminded of their plight when a mature doe dashed through traffic just ahead of me. As I watched, I wondered what had driven her to take such a chance, and why she then stopped on the other side and gazed and saw two small fawns looking helplessly at their mother across the busy street. Instead of following, they turned and walked back into the woods.

This family is not alone. We too can find ourselves in circumstances of separation and danger we did not anticipate. Reading Malachi and Matthew reminds us that we are troubled children of troubled parents who desperately need the help of our Father in heaven. Sometimes we need His help to see and avoid repeating the sins of our fathers( Nehemiah 9:2-3). Sometimes we need His help to turn back to the example and care of loving parents (Luke15:18).

Only from our heavenly Father can we find the perfect forgiveness, example, and inner grace we need. He knows we are fallen children of fallen parents, and even now He offers us the help of His Spirit and the rescue of His Son.

Each day we learn from yesterday
of God’s great love and care;
And every burden we must face
He’ll surely help us bear.

It’s never too soon to turn back to God.

Following Orders

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Jesus arrestfollowing orders

our time masterminding the future, but recognize our marching orders: to do the best we can for history and the planet.

Huston Smith

I am very thankful for today. I have my story and before I share a favorite story of mines I want to tell you about the motivation I have to be successful in “This Life” of today. I am a convicted felon, disenfranchised from employment and housing and the contract of living in America. But I found something out this morning about motivation. I have to keep moving inspite of my challenges that plague my life. I found out how to see myself. I looked into the scriptures by the leading of the holy spirit and found a snap shot how to look at Aaron.

I looked at Romans 8:27 and then my inner man began to speak crystal clear about that text. He said Aaron, if you want to be a conqueror, you must first be conquered. I said to myself that I am only experiencing as much victory in Jesus as Jesus is experiencing in me. If there is an area of repeated failure in me, that’s a good sign there is an area of my life over which Jesus Christ is not yet Lord. If you want to to be conquerors, you must first be conquered. Today I was “arrested” in a unique way other than I have been accustomed too. It was at this moment I recognized being “arrested” by Jesus and given comfort to stand in-spite of my challenges.

One of my favorite stories of Arturo Toscannini, the great symphony conductor, was this:

Proverbs 14:29
New International Version (NIV)
29 Whoever is patient has great understanding,
but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.

An orchestra was playing Beethoven's Leonore Overture, which has two great musical climaxes. Each of these musical high points is followed by a trumpet passage, which the composer intended to be played offstage. The first climax arrived, but no sound came from the trumpet oFfstage. The conductor, annoyed, went on to the second musical high point. But again, no trumpet was heard.

This time, the conductor rushed, fuming, into the wings, with every intention of demanding a full explanation. There he found the trumpet player struggling with the house security guard who was insisting as he held on to the man's trumpet for dear life, "I tell you, you can't play that trumpet back here! You'll disturb the rehearsal!" Like the security guard, we often jump to conclusions when we try to judge the actions of others. The trumpet player knew what the conductor had directed him to do; the security guard didn't. We are called to obey the conductor, and allow–even help–others to do so as well. Ignorance is always swift to speak.

The Greatest Problem facing Black America Today

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“The New Jim Crow,”

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Under Jim Crow laws, black Americans were relegated to a subordinate status for decades. Things like literacy tests for voters and laws designed to prevent blacks from serving on juries were commonplace in nearly a dozen Southern states.

In her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, legal scholar Michelle Alexander writes that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of black Americans in the war on drugs. She says that although Jim Crow laws are now off the books, millions of blacks arrested for minor crimes remain marginalized and disfranchised, trapped by a criminal justice system that has forever branded them as felons and denied them basic rights and opportunities that would allow them to become productive, law-abiding citizens.

Much has been made in the manosphere of the ongoing rise of negative social indicators in the United States and the general societal decline that they seem to be predicting, particularly as they relate to gender relations. Many guys are worried sick about this, and rightfully so.

In the midst of this concern, however, I would like to present some information that could shed some more light on what may come of all this: we have actually been here before. In fact, there exists within our society a model for the outcome of all the ongoing negative trends we are seeing, a culture that has already felt the impact of those trends and suffered their consequences.

That model or “prototype” for our future is Black America.

The manosphere is a predominantly white corner of the net, but many of the problems discussed there are quite familiar to the relatively few blacks who frequent it. Almost every social problem guys in the manosphere cite as a growing concern within the general population has already played itself out within the Black American community.

Let us examine some of them individually.

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1. Concerned about growing obesity rates? Black American women already lead the nation here. 41% of those over 18 are obese, compared to just under a quarter of White American women in the same age range. African-American women are 70% more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white women.

You think white girls are getting fat? You’ve got a long way to go.

 

 

 

 

images (1)2.Concerned about illegitimacy and rampant out of wedlock births? Black America has already been there and done that. The illegitimacy rate within that community has long been close to 70%. The nightmare scenarios being predicted in much of the manosphere regarding increased out of wedlock births and the complete breakdown of the family have already been played out there. Everyone else is playing catch-up.

There is great concern about the potential for the young men of the future to grow up without a father in the picture. For most black men (including myself), this is simply routine.

 

 

 

download (1)3. Concerned about the spread unchecked hypergamy is having on the dating market? Worried that it could lead to unrestrained bad-boy worship? Want to see where all of this is going?

 

 

Once again, look no further than black America. There may be no female more hypergamous than the average black american girl and, interestingly, there is no female with a lower rate of marriage. The culture places a tremendous emphasis for men on the possession of traits matching those of urban masculine culture (read: “swag”, aggression, edgy appearance, etc).

In no culture are decent guys and more academically inclined males more marginalized and insulted than they are in Black American culture.download (4)

 

You think the sexual market value of the average white or Asian nerd is low? Try being their black equivalent and having your entire culture essentially disown you and claim that your intellect makes you an insult to the culture/race.

 

Bad-boy love and the extreme form of hypergamy that comes with it has ruled the black community for a couple of generations now. That nightmare is reality there.

 

 

4. What happens when men in a certain culture are marginalized and their households become largely matriarchal?

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Long Answer: Men will have high unemployment and incarceration rates, and young boys will be prone to violence, academic reticence, and poor performance in school. Nearly 70% of undergraduate and graduate degrees will be earned by females, while their men practically disappear from the higher echelons of the professional world and leave those women without suitable mates. These women will then proceed to ponder where all the good black men went.

A culture hostile to academia will arise, excessive male posturing (see modern urban gang culture and the media that imitates it) will become the norm to compensate for the lack of productive pursuits among the men and the next generation will live out a cycle characterized by generally dysfunctional behavior.

 

 

 

 

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5. Are you concerned about the rise of anti-male attitudes among women? You’d likely already know the end game were you a black American male. The manosphere’s archetype for the worst-case scenario of western womanhood is already normal in Black America.

“Backbreaker”, an African-American male who posts on the SoSuave.net forums, broke this down quite well (emphasis is mine):

“The thing is, and this isn’t race bating or racism in the least bit, but because African Americans in the 70′s and 80′s were more single parent house holds than their Caucasian counterparts, most African American women today were raised not only without 2 parents around, but are fully convinced they don’t need a man. we kinda like have a 20 year head start on this whole feminism thing.

Black women have been telling black men they aren’t s**t, weren’t s**t and never will be S**T well before their Caucasian counterparts thought it was cool.“

…and well before any white woman decided to crow about “The End of Men”.

 

Continuing (emphasis is again mine):

“black women are the manosphere punch line /archetype of women who are too demanding and unrealistic and they all end up single. the only people who get got by black women are guys who want to get got. the only guy who was stupid enough to put a ring on my mom’s finger (who is the ultimate alpha widow) was the beta male who bought into the church hype.. and we all know better. and in 2 years she had rented her own apartment to get away from him. my mom has dated a school district superintendent, an engineer, a lawyer and a bishop of a church, and none of them were good enough for her independent ass lol“

In short, the multiple nuclear bombs of societal decline that concern the manosphere have already went off in Black America. The end game is already on display.download (6)

It wasn’t always like this. Black Americans used to have more stable families and much lower illegitimacy rates (on par with or somewhat lower than those of modern white Americans). They had thinner women and lower crime rates. Their men were valued once, less marginalized and expendable than they are now considered to be and not as frequently incarcerated either.

In other words, there was a time in which Black America was a much closer parallel to the White America we know.
White Americans still hold on to pieces of this old reality, and now sound alarms throughout the manosphere of decline as more negative trends come closer and closer to home. Meanwhile, Black Americans have no room left for decline-the destruction is already complete.

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If current trends are any indication, others may be soon to follow. Perhaps the numerous misfortunes that have befallen the Black American community could serve to warn others of what to do next and how to proceed into this more disconcerting future.

God’s Got His Eye On You

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The first pictures were featured on NASA’s Website as an Astronomy Picture of the Day in May 2003 and thereafter posted on a number of Websites under the title “The Eye of God” (though I couldn’t find evidence that NASA has ever referred to it as such). The awe-inspiring image has also been featured on magazine covers and in articles about space imagery.

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There are many other wonders about what makes God so complex but reachable and Known: Laminin is His signature on His creation. His eye roam to and fro looking for whose heart is towards Him. He never slumbers, He watches His own.


Last month, a report on the use of CCTV was published in Washington Post. It seems as though there is a spreading of CCTV cameras throughout North America, so ZeroPaid spoke to the Open Rights Group for their interpretation of the CCTV camera.

The generic security camera has been around for years now. The private sector has made use of these cameras – namely stores that sell products – to stop activities like shop-lifting, vandalism and other forms of crime within the store setting. Today in North America, the security camera on the premises of a store or a house can be an acceptable thing – yet, what about in public places?

One of the first countries in the North Western hemisphere has made use of the CCTV camera in public places on a wide scale is Britain. The idea is to reduce crime, but some might say that the use of such cameras on a large scale encroaches on privacy. It has left many to wonder why now, every movement must be monitored. It is impossible to go from one end of London to the other without being seen in these cameras. For some, the thought of that type of society can send a chill down the spinal chord. So has the use of CCTV cameras spread? Yes, These cameras helped with the Boston bombing and countless other crimes in America. But there is an all seeing “Eye” I would like to speak of, and That’s God.

“I’ve got my eye on you!” Those words can be intimidating can’t they? Especially if they come from someone in authority like a school principal or the boss at work. If people like that say they have their eye on you, be careful! If you do something they don’t like, you’ll be in big trouble. On the other hand if someone you’re attracted to says, “I’ve got my eye on you!” that’s a reason to rejoice for you are the object of that person’s love and care.

In our topic of text today God says to us, “I’ve got my eye on you.” Is that good news or bad news? It’s both. When God says he has his eye on us it’s a reason to be both careful and joyful. Let’s find out more.

Our text begins like this: “13 From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; 14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth— 15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do” (Psalm 33:13-15). There’s nothing difficult about these opening verses. They simply illustrate how God has his eye on the whole world. God, however, doesn’t view the world the way we view a crowd. When we look at a crowd, we see a group not individuals. Sure, we may pick out distinguishing features of individuals here and there but we can’t focus on everyone’s individual traits at once. God can and does. As God views the world he sees how each one of us is dressed, he sees whether we’re smiling or frowning, and he knows what we do in private as well as in public.

Isn’t that a bit disconcerting? Sure it is. How many of us like it when a clerk follows us around as we browse a clothing store? When people hover like that we feel that our personal space violated. Well God not only hovers, watching everything we do, he looks into our hearts to see what the motivation is behind the things we think, say, and do. For example he knows how we did the dishes last night because we didn’t want to lose any part of our allowance, not because we we’re happy to serve. He sees how we came to church this morning because our parents made us, not because we were eager to hear God’s Word. He perceives how we made that hospital visit more for our sake, to show others what a kind person we are, than for the sake of the person we visited. Friends, God doesn’t just see us; he sees through us.

Since God’s eye is on us, we better be careful. We shouldn’t foolishly think that, because our parents or the pastor don’t know about the sinful things we are doing, we are going to get away with them. God knows. That ought to scare each and everyone of us because if God knows about the things that I’m doing, things which the world may say is OK but God clearly says is not, I’m in big trouble. I’m in trouble because God says: “…the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Revelation 21:8b).

So what can we do to escape God’s wrath over our sins? There is nothing we can do. Our text makes that clear when it says: “16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save” (Psalm 33:16, 17). We are no match for God when he flexes his muscles. What good was America’s military might in the face of Hurricane Katrina? What good was the sinewy strength of the Kashmiri mountain-man against earthquake? And what good will our computers, cell phones, and X-Boxes be in keeping us from getting avian influenza?

So far Psalm 33 is proving to be pretty depressing isn’t it? But wait! There’s hope. The psalmist goes on to say: “18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you” (Psalm 33:18-22). God’s eye is indeed on us but the psalmist wants us to know that God has his eye on us to save us, not destroy us. That’s a reason to rejoice!

Although there is nothing we can do to escape God’s wrath over our sins, in his love God provided the escape. The psalmist calls God “our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20b). Think of what a shield does. It deflects and absorbs the blows from swords and arrows so that the person standing behind the shield remains safe. God sent us such a shield in the person of Jesus. Jesus shields us from God’s anger over our sins by deflecting and absorbing God’s wrath. He did this when he died on the cross. How big of a shield is Jesus? Because he wasn’t just human but also God’s Son from eternity, Jesus is a shield large enough to cover the whole world. In other words, Jesus died to pay for the sins of all people. So put your hope, your trust in Jesus. Don’t put your trust anywhere else. If you do, then you are taking a step out from behind Jesus and you will have to face God’s wrath on your own.

Standing behind the shield of Jesus not only assures us of the forgiveness of sins, it guarantees that God will keep a loving and caring eye on us throughout life. As you await the results of the latest medical check-up, trust that God’s loving eye is watching over you. As you wonder how absent loved ones are doing, know that God’s caring eye is on them. But is God’s loving eye always on us? I mean doesn’t it sometimes feel like God has turned his loving eye from us and replaced it with his eye of justice – an eye that sees all of our sins and burns against us, just as the eye of Sauron burned against Frodo in The Lord of the Rings? What should we do when we feel this way? Well everyone knows that if you look at the sun without a special filter, you’ll damage your eyes. In the same way, when we look at God without the filter of Christ, we do great damage to our faith. Without Jesus we can only see God as an angry judge. We can only surmise that God is out to get us. While that’s the kind of treatment we deserve, it’s the not the treatment God wants us to experience. God has made that clear by sending Jesus. So when you feel as if God is out to get you, look at him through Jesus and you will see clearly his love, his compassion, and his continuing care for you.

“I’ve got my eye on you!” That’s what God says to us this morning. It’s a statement that causes our heart to pound when we consider how we can’t fool God. He sees all of our sins. But it’s also a statement that causes our heart to beat faster with excitement, for through Jesus, God has forgiven all of our sins and sees us as his children. And through Jesus we see God as our loving Father. It’s no wonder the psalmist concluded: “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you” (Psalm 33:22). Yes, Lord, keep your eye on us, for in Jesus we trust it’s a loving and caring eye. Amen.

Stay Connected

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I do believe we’re all connected. I do believe in positive energy. I do believe in the power of prayer. I do believe in putting good out into the world. And I believe in taking care of each other.

Harvey Fierstein

connection

Plagued with a desire to be continuously connected to the “Bread of Heaven” is my thought life this morning. I found myself getting anxious about a particular matter of importance. It was robbing me of my position in Jesus. I began to quite myself so I could hear from within and suddenly It came to me. I am connected as long as I remember my calling and election to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is in his last days, and he’s giving his disciples instructions on how they can stay connected with him, even after he’s absent from the flesh. He’s about to depart and take on his eternal glory, and return to be with his Father for a period of time.

In the gospel according to St John Chapters 13 – 17, Jesus spends his last few days personally with his disciples, preparing them for the upcoming task of spreading the gospel.

Chapter 13; teaches us humbleness toward one another.
Chapter 14; teaches us that he will not leave us comfortless.
Chapter 16; teaches us about the promise of an eternal comforter.
Chapter 17; Christ prays for the entire church, present and future.

Agriculture was greatly depended on by the Israelites, because much of their theology were centered around agricultural concepts. They also considered themselves in partnership with God, each farmer was doing his best for his crops, yet knowing that its success or failure was in God’s hands. The Jewish involvement with the land was reflected in the teachings of Jesus Christ. His imagery and illustrations gave vivid pictures, such as a sower, with a pouch at his side, flinging seed across a newly plowed field. Jesus frequently used metaphors about rich ripe grapes and fruitful vines.

Chapter 15; Jesus makes a very bold statement. Comparing himself to the grapevine.

Scripture: John 15:1-8 I Am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Any branch in me that bears not fruit he take it away; and every branch that bears fruit he purges it, that it bring forth more fruit. Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken to you.

His proclamation

I Am; is a self nominated proclamation, that denotes the presence of the first person.

12 times in John alone, it is recorded Christ proclaiming openly his existence.
I Am the Messiah; 4:6
I Am the Bread of Life; 6:35
I Am from above; 8:23
I Am the Eternal One; 8:58
I Am the Light of the world; 9:5
I Am the door; 10:7
I Am the Good shepherd; 10:11, 14
I Am the Son of God; 10:36
I Am the Resurrection & Life; 11:25
I Am the Lord & Master 13:13
I Am the Way, Truth, & Life; 14:6
I Am the True Vine; 15:1

Also we all know that he spoke to John in a vision, making the ultimate proclamation in Rev. 1st chapter, Alpha & Omega, beginning & ending, First & last.
And even though he proclaimed his deity openly, we can only know that he is the great I Am, only through a divine relationship with him.

My Father is the husbandman. God is the gardener of the vineyard. Pruning would guarantee maximum yields of fruit. Jesus and the Father have an inseparable relationship, that they cannot be divided. When you have a true relationship with Jesus you cannot be disconnected, no matter how hard the enemy tries. Jesus said; no man can pluck you out of his hands; John 10:28.

Jesus proclaims his Lordship, but also proclaims God’s headship, 1 Cor. 11:3, for the head Christ is God!

Your proclamation must depend on His connection

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without me, ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

The vine carries all the life providing nutrients that flows to the branches. Your strength to bear the fruit comes directly from the vine.

You can have good works, but if you are not connected to the vine which supplies the strength, your good works will only last but for a short time. Righteousness is being transformed beyond the conformity with moral law, Romans 12:2, be not conformed to this world but…
Jesus said; except our righteousness, exceed the righteousness of the Scribes & Pharisees, we won’t make it into the Kingdom of Heaven, Matt. 5:20.

When you have a connection with Jesus, your witness is so smooth, you won’t even break a sweat. You’ll just be a natural Christian. People can tell a fake, from a natural. Fake fruit, from real fruit!

Supernatural blessings come only through the connection

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

The “If” here requires a certain condition. God has promised un-conditional as well as conditional blessings. God told Abram to go and number the grains of sand by the sea, and so shall thy seed be, and that in him shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. This is an un-conditional blessing. But when there is an “if” there’s got to be a “then”. Depending on the condition of “if” will bring the result of “then”. If the requirements are met. 2 Chronicles 7:14 which requires the believer to meet certain conditions.

Personal relationship with Jesus is essential, for a spiritual life with God.

Ask what ye will;
The will here is past would meaning determination, volition, necessity, obligation or acquiescence, which is the binding legal agreement, or moral responsibility. Simply saying “if you would, then I will”.

Its only through the connection that when you ask God for something, or to do something on your behalf, that no man can do for you, God will do the supernatural. Superman is a fairy tale, he’s not real. He’s faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a local motive, can leap over tall buildings.

But God is reality. When in the beginning, He said let there be light, and instantaneously the universe lit-up, Gen. 3:3.

His anointing is so powerful that when Solomon completed the temple, God’s presence was so powerful, that the priest could not minister because of the glory of God. 1 Kings 8:11.
When Jesus ascended on high, what is it that he fist descended into the lower parts first, He that descended is the same also that ascended far above the heavens, that he might fulfill all things. Eph. 4:8-10

Lets stay connected!

Build Up Not Tear Down with Our Words!

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positive words

I have been blessed today to meet a humble blogger. His position of humility touched me to the core of my being. A child of God who I have never had the opportunity of meeting in person. His kind words and positive attitude to be a vessel of honor made me confident that God is working in this space & time. We are space and time people that require submission to God’s plan for our life. Stewardship of the blessing of ministry and blood bought humans need to love on each other as He loved us.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.

Audrey Hepburn

I am sure you have heard someone say, “You are going to eat those words.” It may sound like a mere phrase to us, but in reality we do eat our words. What we say not only affects others, but it also affects us.

Words are wonderful when used in a proper way. They can encourage, edify and give confidence to the hearer. A right word spoken at the right time can actually be life-changing. (See Proverbs 15:23.)

We can literally increase our own joy by speaking right words. We can also upset ourselves by talking unnecessarily about our problems or things that have hurt us in relationships.

Not too long ago I had a disappointing situation take place with someone I considered to be a close friend. I noticed that each time I talked about it, I would have a difficult time getting it off of my mind for the remainder of the day. I finally realized that if I wanted to get over it, I was going to have to stop mentally and verbally going over it again and again. People kept asking me about the situation out of genuine concern, but I ultimately realized that I had to answer, “It is better for me if I just don’t talk about it.”

What Happens When We Speak?

The words that come out of our mouth go into our own ears as well as other people’s, and then they drop down into our soul where they give us either joy or sadness, peace or upset, depending on the types of words we have spoken.

“ When we understand the power of words and realize that we can choose what we think and speak, our lives can be transformed. ”

God desires that our spirit be light and free so it can function properly, not heavy and oppressed. We can learn to choose our thoughts, to resist wrong ones and think on good, healthy, and right ones. I have often said, “Where the mind goes, the man follows.” And it could also be said that where the mind goes, the mouth follows!

When we understand the power of words and realize that we can choose what we think and speak, our lives can be transformed.

Plan to Say Something Positive

God has given His children a new nature, and we are taught to daily renew our mind and attitude. Having a positive outlook on life and speaking positive words based on God’s Word is one of the most wholesome things we can do.

When you get up in the morning, if there is something you need to attend to that day that you’re not looking forward to, you can say, “I dread this day,” or you can say, “God will give me strength today to do whatever I need to do and to do it with joy.” Which of these two statements do you think would better prepare you for the day?

As we have seen, we eat our words, and we can rightfully say that they are food for our souls. Anyone who wants to be healthy is careful to choose quality food that will provide good nutrition. If we want to be healthy in our soul and spirit, we should also choose to take in words that will build us up and increase our peace and joy.

Draw Attention to the Positive

I believe there are many good things happening in the world and probably there is more good than bad. But the evil is magnified in a way that often seems overwhelming. Turn on any news station or buy any newspaper or news magazine and you will find it filled with reports of murder, theft, wars, famine and all kinds of horribly tragic events.

We want to be well informed of what is going on, but to talk about world problems excessively or with no purpose merely creates a gloomy atmosphere that nobody will enjoy.

I recently walked into a room and heard a group of people talking about several businesses that had recently filed bankruptcy. Then they mentioned two others that they had heard were going to file bankruptcy. I felt a gloom hanging in the atmosphere so I said, “Well, God is not bankrupt and He is on our side.” Everyone agreed with me and immediately, the atmosphere changed.

I am not suggesting at all that we deny reality, but we can choose what we talk about. Instead of feeding ourselves a steady diet of “bad news,” we should choose to read, watch and talk about good things.

What Are You Talking About?

We talk a lot and quite often pay no attention to what we are saying, let alone think seriously about the impact of our words.

If we are honest with ourselves, we may find that some of our bad moods are directly linked to our conversation. Even some of our problems can be linked to bad choices we make about what we say.

I want to encourage you to take some time and think about the types of things you usually talk about. What kind of conversation do you enjoy and participate in?

How to Get More Joy Out of Life

Your words may not be the cause all of your problems, but they can cause a lot of them and they should be given a good deal of consideration when we are looking for answers to the problems we encounter in life.

We all have challenges in life, but we can make them better or worse by the way we talk about them. I don’t believe we can change all of our circumstances into pleasant ones by making positive confessions, but I do believe many of them will change according to God’s will. I simply want to teach you to be in agreement with God and learn to say what He says.

One thing is for sure, speaking negatively could hurt you and speaking positively never will, so why not go with the positive and see what kind of results you get?

The Hand of God is not Limited to Building Leaders

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Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.
Author: Jim Elliot

Being connected to Christ and His spirit feels so liberating. I thank God that today he has unleashed some quality understanding to me about exuding leadership. I thank you heavenly Father for the time to study and apply what “You” have given. Make me ready for “Your” return in Jesus name Amen!

Introduction: ‘We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ (Ephesians 2: 10)

God can use people with or without the natural ability and proper background. God can, and often chooses to, work with raw material. God prepares and empowers those He chooses to do His work so He does not need to call people into leadership who have the natural drive, training, or good models of leadership in their background. He does not need to use people who took the part or who are already popular. “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1: 26 – 27) The disciples, who went on to be founding leaders of the church, were fishermen and tax-collectors by trade. They were not highly educated or from influential families. Some had strong, driven personalities but others did not.

* Be careful not to limit God. Take Him at His word when He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12: 9).

God prepares those He calls. The disciples spent three years with Jesus to prepare them to be the early leaders of the church but even still, before they were to go out on their own, they had to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them in power. God uses life experiences to mold and shape leaders. God uses life experiences to develop perspectives and passions essential to the capacity of leadership to which He calls.

* Be careful not to short-circuit this preparation time due to impatience. God’s ways and timing are best.

God equips those He calls. God will use the way He designed people and their spiritual gifting to steer them into what type of leader they should be.

What is leadership?
Leadership is exercising true authority (in Christ)

• Expertise, facility, capacity – insight in to the things of God
• A consequence of obedience and integrity
• Used to build people up, to mend them, to serve them
• Evidenced by the conditions of the disciples

What are the characteristics of Christian leadership?

1. Intimacy with Christ

The first and most important thing Christian leaders need to do is develop a strong and intimate relationship with God. In an article by Gordon MacDonald he says, “the forming of the soul that it might be a dwelling place for God is the primary work of the Christian leader”. Developing this intimate relationship with God through daily prayer and reflective Bible study is vital if Christian leaders are going to be all they can be in God.

We see that Jesus modeled this drawing away to a solitary place to connect with His heavenly Father in prayer. In Mark 1:35 we see that He did this alone and in Mark 6:35 he called the disciples to draw away from the pressing crowds. As Christian leaders we need to follow Jesus example to make sure we come aside from the business of life and ministry to make our connection with the Father. As we do, we find that our relationship with God grows and we allow Him to speak to us. We can also learn from Scripture and receive guidance on how He wants us to lead the people we are overseeing. I believe this time alone with God is vital for our growth, seeking direction and for our long term survival of the pressures of ministry brings.

2. Spirit-Driven and Passionate

Jesus lived his life and did everything he did with a clear sense of purpose and thus was Spirit-driven (Mark 1: 35-39; Luke 4: 43; 5: 32). He was preoccupied with the purpose with which his Father had sent him into the world – that was his passion or top priority (John 4: 31-34). His vision was sharp (not blurred), goal was clear and he never allowed anything to distract him from the goal (Luke 12: 13-14; 13: 31-32). He was very clear in communicating the purpose with which he chose his disciples (Matt. 4: 18-19; Mark 1: 16-17; 3: 13-14). He reiterated his purpose even before he ascended into heaven after his resurrection (Matt. 28: 16-20; Acts 1: 7-8). When they received the Holy Spirit and began their ministry, we notice that they followed the example of their master and lived a focused and Spirit-driven life. They did not allow anything, including the good things in the ministry to distract them from the main thing, which was their top priority (see Acts 2: 32-41, 47b; 3: 11-16 and 19-20; 4: 1-12; 5: 41-6: 7). The apostles did not deviate from their priorities – they learnt from their master the principle of keeping the main thing(s), the main thing(s). Paul also demonstrates for us that this is a key ingredient in successful Christian leadership. He was very sharply focused, was driven by a clear sense of purpose, both in life and ministry, pursued his goal with perseverance, and finished his race (see 1 Cor. 9: 15-27; Gal. 2: 1-10; Phil. 3: 7-14; 2 Tim. 3: 10-11; 4: 1-8). This is the pattern we should follow and inspire others to emulate us.

3. Servant-Leaders

To learn of what truly is servant leadership, it is important that we follow Christ’s command and example. In Matthew 20 and 23, Christ tells us that we need, first of all, to lead in an attitude of servant hood.

Matt 20:26-28 Yet it shall be not so among you but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desire t be first among you, let him be your servant, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Matt 23:11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

In the gospels, we notice that Jesus’ disciples were involved in dispute over who would be the greatest among them (Luke 9: 46-50; 22: 24-30; Mark 9: 33-37; 10: 35-45; Matt. 20: 20-28). They were preoccupied with themselves and their positions of power and authority. They were measuring greatness in positional terms and that led to a sort of ‘power struggle’. However, Jesus teaches them that they should not be like the leaders of the Gentiles who lord it over them, but be like Himself and learn to lead by serving (1 Peter 5: 1-4). This is what is called ‘servant leadership’. Jesus offers Himself as a paradigm or model for them to follow. It is in this context that we should consider the example of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet (John 13: 1-17). In a Jewish household, this was the job of the lowest servant and so none of Jesus’ disciples wanted to do that. Thus, they came in with dusty and dirty feet. It was then that Jesus, who knew who he was under God, got up and began to wash their feet, giving them a practical demonstration of ‘servant leadership’.

It has, of late, become fashionable to talk or teach about this. However, what we need now is not just more teaching, but more leaders that practice this style of leadership.

True servant leaders know their strengths and weaknesses and surround themselves with those who have complementary abilities and can offset their weaknesses. Servant leaders invest themselves in enabling others to do their best, allowing teamwork to move their ministry. A true servant leader allows those alongside to grow into a great servant leader as well. True servant leaders invest in their team, empowering them to serve others in the same humility they display to others. They are committed to serving with humility and concern, having a forgiving and giving heart. They are willing to sacrifice personally for the well being of others. They are willing to do humble tasks, but as their leader, they always have in mind a larger vision.

A serving attitude does not imply willingness to be abused by others or the toleration of exploitation. Servant leaders are not enablers to those who should be helping themselves. A true servant leader is disciplined in all areas of life, knowing their first responsibility is to serve God and then to others. Servant leaders must first of all please God; they are not moved solely by the need to please others.

4. Character and Integrity

One of the keys to successful long Christian leadership is the desire to live with character and integrity. In 1 Timothy 3:8-12 and Titus 1:5-9 it lists 24 characteristics that should be seen in Christian leadership. Some of these include being of good behavior, not greedy for money, not given to excessive drinking, not quick tempered, but being self controlled, a responsible steward, one that holds fast to the Word of God and has a good reputation outside the church. It tells us that these qualities should be evident in the lives of those who are called to Christian leadership. In saying this though, it does not say that one has to be perfect to be in Christian leadership. That is not possible as we are all human and fall short at times. However, it is saying that these things must be evident most of the time.

Integrity is “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle, uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.” In the world today, ‘integrity’ is not valued as the most important thing in life and business. Paul says that saying, “Yes, yes” and “No, no” in the same breath is the world’s way (2 Cor. 1: 17). In saying this, Paul is following the teaching of Jesus Himself, who says, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matt. 5: 37). We have to be like this, because our God is like this. We all know this theoretically. However, in practice it appears that Christians and Christian leaders are no different from others. It is very painfully true of many top leaders even in the Church and Para-Church organizations today. We cannot be sure if what a Christian leader is saying is true or not and so we cannot trust them. They are not proving to be people of their word who can be taken at their word. What they say and what they have inside and what they say and what they do, do not match often. This lack of integrity in a leader breeds mistrust, pretense or even hypocrisy among the people and such a leader does not enjoy respect and ceases to lead in a Christian manner. Jesus spoke very harshly against ‘the Pharisaical piety,’ which lacked integrity and warned his disciples to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (see Luke 11: 37-43; 12: 1-3). Jesus highlighted the lack of integrity between their teaching or preaching and practice, when he said, “So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matt. 23: 1-3). Even Paul exhorts Titus, a young leader saying, “In your teaching show integrity . . .” (Titus 2: 6-8). When a leader’s character is marked by integrity, then respect and cooperation follow and he or she has a positive godly influence on others and this is real leadership.

I firmly believe that as Christian leaders we need to have this same commitment to living with character and integrity the Bible talks about. We need to have a good testimony both in and outside the church and before God and man. Billy Graham put it perfectly when he said “If I were ever to do anything dishonoring to Christ, I would rather He take me home to heaven before I did it”.

5. Risk-Takers

The concept of risk is a challenging one for many Christian leaders. On the one hand, many churches and Christian organizations are conservative in their target setting. Leaders may feel that if their church or organization doesn’t hit the targets of vision that it has set itself, then the church has not only failed, but that God is not blessing them. This is a dangerous paradigm to take.

On the other hand, God is a God who understands and uses weakness to achieve His purpose. Achieving the salvation of the world through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was the ultimate in using weakness. It was also risky. The very heart of the sacrifice of the cross was that Jesus chose to go through with it. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36). It had to be a real choice, with the inherent risk that Jesus could not go through with it. If there was no choice, there was no sacrifice. The Father chose to make Christ fully human, with the risk that he could be fall to the temptation of Satan, that he could succumb to the corrupting influence of power, or that he could sidestep the ultimate sacrifice. The fact that Jesus resisted all temptation, maintained his integrity with the spiritual power with which he was entrusted, and surrendered himself to the cross does not take away any of that risk.

In the selection of His twelve disciples, Jesus also took significant risk. Those who have hired people to fulfill roles where the job will expand significantly know the difficulty of selecting people who will make the transition successfully. Jesus took the risk of calling a group that would probably not make the short list of most current-day executive search teams!

Setting too simple a goal can severely limit the organization’s ability to achieve great things for the Kingdom of God. Michelangelo said “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” If we set small-step, incremental goals, there is a tendency that we do what we used to, only better. If we challenge ourselves with large goals, then we need to take risks in redefining our strategy.

6. Team-Worker Jesus could have for sure done a lot more and better, if he had not had his disciples with him. However, he chose to work together with them and to build the team of his disciples, the first leaders of the Church. He taught them, gave them OJT (On the Job Training), heard their reports, prayed with them, corrected them, gave them opportunities to see him in action, and ended up investing most of his time and effort on them. This is what we find in the Gospels and Acts 1: 1-8). From Jesus’ teaching and model, we learn that there is no place for ‘lone rangers’ in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, I believe, all Christian leaders would be team players, team builders that are committed to the discipline of working with and for a team and make themselves accountable to others in the team. Without neglecting their personal tasks and goals, they give adequate attention and priority to the collective tasks and goals and invest in empowering others. Otherwise, Christian leaders become carnal, worldly, and selfish and cease to be Christian leaders.

7. Committed to Making Disciples

The last words of Christ before returning to heaven are recorded in Matthew chapter 28:19-20. It says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you”. This verse is a clear command to reach people with the love and saving message of Jesus and to teach them how to follow Jesus and His teachings.

As Christian leaders I believe the core of what we do is to love God, love people and to make disciples. We need to focus our energies on loving and bringing people into the Kingdom and teaching them how to continue to grow in their faith and service of God. The early church understood this and as a result many thousands of people came to faith in a short time. In Acts chapter 2:42 we see that, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer”. In committing themselves to these things, the early church members were able to grow to maturity and be sent out in their community to reach others for Christ.

Conclusion: Christian leadership begins with God’s calling, and that call comes in two parts. First, he gives you a desire to serve him, and second, the church recognizes in you those elements of character and those gifts which qualify you to serve in leadership. In those qualifications, character is much more prominent than gifts. The first qualification for Christian leadership is Christ-like character. If we are to lead Christ’s people in Christ’s way, we must ourselves be men who have walked with Christ—on the Calvary road. May God help us to be such men as we lead his church. Amen!

Remember Your Faith While In Hostile WorkPlace

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In America, courts have interpreted harassment in the workplace to mean speech or conduct based on “race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or, in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation, political affiliation, citizenship status, marital status, or personal appearance” of the person complaining or of a reasonable person.

Policies are many, Principles are few, Policies will change, Principles never do.

John C. Maxwell

stock-photo-16548756-twin-businessman-pointing

In today’s society it is more than likely that we are going to be faced with working in a hostile environment, that is not conducive with our Christian walk. Fortunately God has given us examples in his word of how to overcome these hostile environments and continue to do His work. One particular story that I would like us to look at today is the life’s of Joseph and David. We will be looking at several different points on how to overcome these situations.

READ: Genesis 39:1-12

First we see that God Anoints You in Trouble. Joseph had been thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery. From this God was able to raise Him up and make him a great man of worth to Potiphar (Verse 4). He was liked and trusted so much as a slave that he was given free rein around the house to do what he saw fit. We can see that through times of trouble and trial that we will face while working, God will be able to bless us and strengthen us as we work for Him. We must remember that God never leaves our side and is always there for His children.

Second, we need to remember to Do Your Job Well, But Remember the Mission and don’t expect to be Appreciated.

If we READ Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”

We are called to win souls and fight the spiritual battle over darkness. We are not to go to work looking for: Friendship, Emotional Support, Social Activities, or Counseling. If we seek to be appreciated by the world and co-workers we will only be let down time and time again. We need to go to work for two reasons only: Work and Pay. We should look to Christ and our fellow Christians for the things that work doesn’t supply. We are to look to God for our riches and blessings.

Third, Don’t Let Your Environment Get Inside of You. Daily we need to set our feet on the foundation of Christ and equip ourselves with the armor of God to protect ourselves from the world. Joseph was surrounded by temptation and idolatrous ways, but He had remembered how God had carried him through the rougher times and was going to do only the things that would please Him. If, Joseph would have failed to the temptations of Potiphar’s wife he would have been no better then the other slaves. We must remember though, that just letting a leak of water into our boat and not paying attention to it, will eventually lead to flooding our boat and sinking it. Just a little sin of the world getting into our lives will slowly start to pull us away from God’s will.

Fourth, to overcome this hostile environment we must increase Our Capacity to Work With Different Personalities. We must not enter into the work place with a closed mind on personalities. God will bless you through people that you don’t ever like. Don’t limit yourself to certain people you work with. God didn’t limit his ministry to the devote Jews, but walked among the tax collectors and prostitutes to minister to them. Every area is full of honest and dishonest people; we must be diverse enough to overcome it.

Fifth, we must know that Where You Are Doesn’t Define Where You Are Going. “Send me your son David who is tending to the flock.”

READ 2 Samuel 2:4, “Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David King over the house of Judah.”

David went from being a sheepherder to being the King of God’s promised land. We must have HOPE and keep our eye on the final prize. Remember that we are alive, because He is not done using us yet. Saul was trying to kill David, but God did not let it happen, because God had our plans for David. Do not roll over and play dead.

Sixth, Don’t Pledge Allegiance with the Cliches in Your Work Environment. You can’t be in the cliche and lead them toward a Christ like life, while being in the cliche. Christ did not limit himself to any one cliche in order to minister to them all. God wants to rescue us from worldly people, and have us cling to Him. God cannot enlarge our spiritual life, if we limit ourselves to one particular area. God has specifically told us that we are not going to separate from the world.

Seventh, Always Keep Your Song Near You. This is that intimate place in your soul that you have solely devoted to God.

READ – Psalm 146:2, “I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”

As long as your focus is on God and you are constantly worshiping Him in all that we do, you will not be able to be broken down. As the day goes on from start to finish, keep your song in your soul, and allow God to brighten your environment. Nothing will be able to take from this spiritual high place.

We too often look for resources to solve and fight our spiritual battles in the world and forget that all the resources we need are already in us and provided by God.

The greatest witness on the job is to be personally pleasant and undeniably productive. Unfortunately, we grow up feeling obligated to share our faith rather than to allow people to observe it by our professional integrity.

Christians should not use the workplace for vocal and blatant evangelism—as happens so much in the name of God, from politics to picketing. (If God were so inclined, I believe He could sue most Christians for false representation.) The real witness to Christ is love, peace, contentment, etc. These inaudible attributes—coupled with excellent work ethics and fulfilled promises to staff members, employees, or consumers—speak volumes. Maturity require it to be exuded coupled with discipline. Be graceful and remember to have a devoted prayer life and devotion time.

An example of the United Scams of America

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While corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and mail fraud.; it is not restricted to these activities. In this country, corruption is so common that it is expected when ordinary businesses or citizens interact with government officials. The end-point of political corruption is a kleptocracy, literally “rule by thieves”.

 


Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

George Washington

Reading the story on coal miners facing the disappearance of their contracted health and retirement benefits (“Miners are making a stand here,” Jan. 29) made me angry enough to cry. Once again we see an entire class of people taken by industry titans who made promises of future benefits in return for immediate work but who aren’t to be found now that the bill comes due.

Said titans long ago lived in the mansions, drank the cognac, smoked the cigars, etc., and — now protected by death and modern contracts — seem beyond accountability.

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case, but instead, it’s the “new norm.”

The list of “easy pickins” continues to grow: Pensioners who invested in Enron; Vietnam veterans; college students going into debt; and please don’t get me started on the federal deficit.

We have evolved to a country where “leaders” have carte blanche to benefit from putting current obligations on a credit card, but are nowhere to be found when the bill comes due. Meanwhile, their successors get away with, “but I didn’t do it” … “not my fault” … “not on my watch.”

Welcome to the successor to the USA: the United Scams of America, where our slogan is “I’m getting mine any way I can and to hell with anyone else.”

Where has our sense of decency gone, or the simple ability to discern right from wrong? I wish I could blame one political party, or one modern titan, one union leader, or even one media outlet, but it’s not possible.

It makes me angry enough to cry.


John Howard Griffin, the author and main character of Black Like Me, is a middle-aged white man living in Mansfield, Texas in 1959. Deeply committed to the cause of racial justice and frustrated by his inability as a white man to understand the black experience, Griffin decides to take a radical step: he decides to undergo medical treatment to change the color of his skin and temporarily become a black man. After securing the support of his wife and of George Levitan, the editor of a black-oriented magazine called Sepia which will fund Griffin’s experience in return for an article about it, Griffin sets out for New Orleans to begin his life as a black man. He finds a contact in the black community, a soft-spoken, articulate shoe-shiner named Sterling Williams, and begins a dermatological regimen of exposure to ultraviolet light, oral medication, and skin dyes. Eventually, Griffin looks in the mirror and sees a black man looking back. He briefly panics, feeling that he has lost his identity, and then he sets out to explore the black community. Griffin expects to find prejudice, oppression, and hardship, but he is shocked at the extent of it: everywhere he goes, he experiences difficulties and insults. The word “nigger” seems to echo from every street corner.

It is impossible to find a job, or even a restroom that blacks are allowed to use. Clerks refuse to cash his checks, and a white bully nearly attacks him before he chases the man away. After several traumatic days in New Orleans, Griffin decides to travel into the Deep South of Mississippi and Alabama, which are reputed to be even worse for blacks. (In Mississippi, a grand jury has just refused to indict a lynch mob that murdered a black man before he could stand trial.) In Mississippi, he is disheartened and exhausted, so he calls a white friend named P.D. East, a newspaperman who is ferociously opposed to racism. He spends a day with East, during which time they discuss the way racial prejudice has been incorporated into the South’s legal code by bigoted writers and politicians. Eventually, a rejuvenated Griffin leaves for a long hitchhiking trip throughout Alabama and Mississippi.

In general, Griffin finds that conditions for blacks are appalling, and that black communities seem run-down and defeated. He even notices a look of defeat and hopelessness on his own face, after only a few weeks as a black man. In Montgomery, however, the black community is charged with determination and energy by the example of one of its leaders, a preacher named Marin Luther King, Jr. Blacks in Montgomery have begun practicing passive resistance, a nonviolent form of refusing to comply with racist laws and rules. Griffin, again depressed and weary of life as a black man, briefly stops taking his medication and lightens his skin back to his normal color. He begins alternating back and forth between races, visiting a place first as a black man and then as a white man. He notices immediately that when he is a white man, whites treat him with respect and blacks treat him with suspicious fear; when he is a black man, blacks treat him with generosity and warmth, while whites treat him with hostility and contempt. Griffin concludes that the races do not understand one another at all, and that a tolerant dialogue is needed to bridge the terrible gap separating them.

In Atlanta, Griffin conducts a long series of interviews with black leaders before returning to New Orleans to make a photographic record of his time there. He then goes off his medication entirely, permanently returning his skin color to white. He returns home to his family and writes his article, which is published in March 1960. After the article appears, Griffin is called on to do interviews with prominent television shows and newsmagazines. The story of his amazing experience quickly spreads around the world, and he receives a flood of congratulatory mail. In Mansfield, however, the prevalent attitude is that of racism, and Griffin and his family become the subject of hateful reprisals. An effigy of Griffin, painted half white and half black, is burned on Main Street; a cross is burned in a Negro schoolyard; threats are made against Griffin, including one to castrate him. By August, things are so bad that he has decided to move his family to Mexico. Before he goes, he has a talk with a little black boy, to whom he explains that racism is a result of social conditioning, not any inherent quality within blacks or whites. He issues a plea for tolerance and understanding between the races, fearing that, if the current conflict is sustained, it will explode in an outbreak of terrible violence.

Equality before the law, like universal suffrage, holds a privileged place in our political system, and to deny equality before the law delegitimizes that system. . . . when these rights are denied, the expectation that the affronted parties should continue to respect the political system . . . that they should continue to treat it as a legitimate political system–has no basis.

 

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

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fish policticalpolitical correctness

I wish the wide spread of denomonations would teach on the essential Jesus appose to the historical Jesus. The essential Jesus is not bogged down to anything. He is liberty and power. I wish that being “Politically Correct” was not in exsistance in His church. I feel it dilutes the gospel from being inserted in the vessals of His choice. God can use anyone and doesn’t need man’s validation or methods to do so.

Matthew 13:47-50

For those of you who starsign is Pisces (the FISH). I don’t read the stars so relax, but it has always interested me that the sign of the fish was used by early Christians as a secret symbol. During times of persecution, if a Christian met a stranger in his travels, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they could speak freely about their faith.

I guess it’s because when Jesus spoke to some fishermen and called them to be His disciples He said “Follow Me and I will make you FISHERMEN OF MEN”. I know He should have been POLITICALLY CORRECT and said “fisherpeople of people”, nevertheless I have to admit, I was caught well and truly by the message of Christ. I came under the NET of His authority and I am part of the network of His kingdom, the Church, along with millions of others across the earth.

But the net that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 13:47 is DIFFERENT. It speaks about the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of God’s authority exercised in the FUTURE. It is spoken of as a NET that sweeps us toward eternity and JUDGMENT. ” Hebrews 9:27 (NLT) says “And just as EACH PERSON is destined to die once and after that comes JUDGMENT”.

A SWEEP NET is one huge net intentionally cast to collect everything in it’s way. Jesus says “the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught FISH OF EVERY KIND. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away.”

Even though this kind of fishing is now spoken of as the rape of the sea, Jesus speaks about a huge net that catches “EVERY KIND OF FISH.” The Kingdom net He speaks of is cast over people of every race, colour and creed. It is cast over men and women, married and single, young and old, hearing and deaf, sighted and blind, speaking and mute (For those who want to be POLITICALLY CORRECT that’s matrimonially, chronologically, aurally, visually and vocally challenged).

The net is cast over those who are attractive and those who are just plain ugly (aesthetically challenged), thin and fat (gravitationally challenged), those who are well adjusted and those who are total psychopathic misfits (socially misaligned), those with hair and those who are bald (follicularly challenged), religious and atheist (spiritually impoverished).

It is cast over the good and the bad, walking and crippled, musical and tone deaf, educated or not, Australian or not, and no matter what language, religion, customs, tastes, sexuality, eye colour or blood type they may have. Somewhere in all of that I am included, especially in the follicularly challenged category. In other words JESUS DIED FOR US ALL.

But coming under the all encompassing authority of God’s sweep net is only HALF THE STORY. His Kingdom authority is very inclusive, but not politically correct because NOT ALL will be saved. This is not EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. Yes, ALL are caught in the net of Christ’s authority as a JUDGE. Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT) prophesies that “… that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, …” but that doesn’t mean that everyone who bows will somehow automatically be swept into heaven.

You may not even be aware but you are being pulled inexorably into the shore of eternity, and there is no avoiding the inevitability of being caught in this net and it’s relentless movement towards a VERDICT.

Jesus doesn’t seem to realise that it is POLITICALLY INCORRECT, discriminatory and disrespectful to speak of some people being REJECTED because they are “WICKED” (or should I say people with a “spiritually alternative lifestyle”).

Jesus just says “The angels will come and separate the WICKED people from the RIGHTEOUS, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50 NLT).

It is so horrific that Jesus doesn’t want to water it down to sounding like it is simply an alternative eternity for the religiously challenged, some kind of spiritual waiting room for heaven.

Hell is terrifying and permanent! Jesus speaks of Hell as a FURNACE. It was originally prepared for the devil and his angels, a place of inconceivable MISERY AND TORMENT. Jesus loves you enough to warn you about it because many people are headed towards a Christless eternity. He’s the only one who has come to save you.

The invitation He gives is encapsulated in the Greek word for “fish” – “Ichthus”. It is an ancient Word of Life, an acrostic used to spell out the meaning of the good news in one of it’s simplest forms. It stands for “Içsous Christos, Theou Huios, Sôtçr” and translates into English as “JESUS CHRIST GOD’S SON SAVIOUR”

God bless you as you give your life to Christ perhaps for the first time today, come under His authority, accept His death on the Cross for your sins, and get to know Christ personally, the fisherman of men, (sorry, fisherperson of people).

God Deserves our Praise for He alone is “Good”

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“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”
Brian Tracy quotes

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

I thank God for the rising of my family and myself today. I thank God for not allowing death to grace my door today, I thank God for His presence and powerful spirit that I believe is in full control of this life. I thank God for controlling all the elements of creation. I thank God for harmony and favor with man. I thank God for His word that became flesh and dwelled among man and is active and alive and is truth. I praise His holy name for calling me out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Please let the fruits of your lips give honor to Him who is the only wise God. He is in control of what He created.

I want to start this message by prophesying to somebody: God is in control, it doesn’t matter what is happening in the economy, and it doesn’t matter what is happening on a political level, or whose in the white house.
It doesn’t matter what they do to social security, healthcare, or anything else.
God is in control.

It’s not the government or the president or anybody else. As a child of God your destiny is secure, God is your source and Heaven never has a shortage or needs a bail out.

Read Ex 1:13-17 Lets start with Moses, the deliverer of Gods people (He was destined to bring Gods people out of Egyptian bondage).

But from his birth the enemy was set on his destruction.
That which the enemy had marked for destruction, God had marked for life, Moses grew up in the pharaoh’s house, he had the best of everything in the land, (and the enemy paid the bill).
(God has it under control)

Ex 13:17-18
17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.

*There are many times in life that from our natural perspective there are easier and faster ways to do things, but God has a better viewpoint, plus God has a higher purpose. Too many times our only initiative is to get through it, ( go through it) but Gods intention is that we grow through it.

Ex 14:1-3
14:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pi-Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-Zephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.
3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.

Here are the children of God from all visible evidence they are trapped, there is no way back, and there is no way forward, they are in that place no one ever wants to be.

* The thing we have to fight is agreeing with the enemy, (We must not agree with the Devil, God has us in his control.
The devil knows the power of words, and he wants you to line up your confession with your circumstances,

But God wants you to line up your confession with his word.

Fear says: It’s over there’s no way out, bury me with my boots on.

Faith says: I don’t know what God is going to do and I don’t know how, but I know God has it all under control.
Ex 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honored upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.
Ex 14:13
13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

There is an enemy in your life, a battle that has been going on, it seems like you’ve got it under control, but you turn around and it’s there again, You pray and pray and you felt like you’ve got the victory but just when you start to make some progress there it is again.

God said: The Egyptians whom you have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

You’ve done everything you know to do, your exhausted, your at the point of giving up, what’s the use,
it’s hopeless, I can’t do it.

Your finally in position for a miracle, for God almighty to do what you could never do, he’s just been waiting for you to recognize Your weakness, and his strength.

You’ll never know his strength till you recognize your weakness
*The Lord told the Apostle Paul: My grace is sufficient for thee and my strength is made perfect in weakness.

The Lord saw the disciples out on the sea fighting a violent storm, but he waited till the forth watch of the night to come to them on the water
why?
#1 Because they didn’t need him yet,
Because they still had strength, and as long as they had strength they didn’t need his
#2 More than likely had they still had strength they wouldn’t have received him in the way that he came to them.

God may be wanting to do something new and fresh in your life, but he can’t get it through to you until he gets you in a place where you can’t do anymore.

God is wanting to do something in your life he has never done before, and to do that he has to bring you to a place you have never been before.

Ex 14:21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; (Moses acted on Faith and God Moved. Notice it was Moses Hand outstretched not God’s)and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

Here is a lesson that will change your life:

God works the night shift, The greatest miracle of your life may be one hour away, It always gets the darkest just before the dawn.

When they closed their eyes that night, there was a red sea in front of them, when they opened their eyes in the morning there was an eight lane highway.

(Exo 14:29 ) But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

Here was the most awesome thing, Through the midst of the red sea with dry feet,
Not only can God bring you out but he will bring you out in such a way that you will never look like you what you been in.

The 3 Hebrew children came out of the fire without the smell of smoke on them and their hair wasn’t even singed.

I don’t know what you may be facing today, but the Lord told me to tell you, He’s got it all under control, And if you’ll just quit worrying, and complaining, and fretting, and fuming, and start praising him he’s going to turn it around, and there are some enemies that you have been fighting that you are not going to have to fight anymore.

(Exo 14:30 KJV) Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord
This is the word of the Lord today: God has it all under control.

It’s time to move over and let him fight your battles.
If you’ll just stand there right where you are and you’ll lift your voice right now and begin to praise him, God almighty is going to step in front of you and your enemies, and he is going to fight for you.

Paul and Silas were locked up in prison, backs beaten and bleeding, cast into the inner prison, their feet held fast in stocks, couldn’t go left, or right, couldn’t go forward or backward, but they knew a secret (God has it all under control, and God works the night shift, ( At midnight they prayed and sang praises unto God).
God sent an earthquake, shook the doors off their hinges, and Got the jailers entire household saved.
Because God has it all under control.

The Issues Facing our Future ” The Youths of America”

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In these troubled, uncertain times, we don’t need more command and control; we need better means to engage everyone’s intelligence in solving challenges and crises as they arise.

Margaret J. Wheatley

troubled youth

I am an old school believer that if you write the laws of God on your door post and Model being a child that is responsible with your reverent fear of the God you introduce your children too, It will protect our future adults. This is not say that some rebellion will not happen, but correct with Godly principle worked for me. I strayed , but I always remembered as I do now my up bringing.

The church and Its people really need to heed to the call of becoming a tribe in our families and communities to help raise our children. I wish I would be scared of a child wearing a “blue” or “red” rag signifying that I am a banger and you can not say anything to me. God didn’t give me the spirit of fear. We need to help each other in this predicament that is taking over our economy and homes. We have new drugs and new ways of getting our way as kids. With the perversion of this world we as the church need to fight and pray and get more involved. I for one plan to implement some ideas to my men’s group and pastors for mentoring programs and early detection sign counseling.

Now that we are well into the new Millennium society has begun to recognize serious concerns with issues that kids have to deal with today. Some issues have always been there but are now coming to the eyes of the public to find solutions. Other issues are new trends as society begins to adapt to a faster pace of life. Below are the top 10 issues facing our youth today.

1. Erosion of National Pride/Identity
erosion-of-national-pride

If every year the Olympics were held, this probably wouldn’t be a problem. This list is indicative of the fact that America (like any nation) has problems. The issue at hand is collective though amongst the people affected about how to deal with them. Unfortunately most folks tend to focus on their self and not the whole. We see these problems as affecting “them” and not “me/us” When we hear that America’s children are the fattest among Western nations, this doesn’t sting. When we learn that America’s children lay educationally behind other industrialized nations, we don’t cringe. There is very little sense of collective identity of people, as Americans. This is a result of our children not being properly educated and guided. There was a time when every child would begin the school day by standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Children were taught the significance of the 4th of July (besides fireworks). These practices are long gone and so is our sense of common destiny. With so many diverse nationalities, races, and ethnic groups that comprise America, the one common bond we all have with one another is that we are Americans.

2. Poverty
poverty

The federal poverty level is $22,050 for a family of four. This equates to 21% of all children (15 million children) are considered in poverty. Just to cover basic expenses for a family of four you would need to have a salary of $45,000. This means that nearly 50% of our children are living in poverty. Half of those kids receive no government assistance because their parents earned more than $22,050 that year. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), that poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being. Poverty impedes learning and contributes to social and behavioral problems. And guess what? There is no income to counteract these problems. Mommy cannot afford a tutor or Daddy cannot afford a counselor. There is a huge opportunity for society to stop being so materialistic and in turn poverty wouldn’t be such an issue because most children will all have the same things –things they need instead of what they want. This would decrease violence in schools because fewer kids would be teased

3. Shifting Economy
shifting-economy

America used to sustain itself with making its own products through manufacturing and then turning around and selling those products. The economy is shifting to more of a service industry versus a manufacturing industry. In order to cut costs and keep product prices down companies are forced to outsource manufacturing to other countries. Other countries can produce products at much lower labor costs. Some companies have even begun to outsource call center jobs to keep labor costs down. Not only is America now having lower paying service jobs than the average blue-collar job with a sustainable income but our economy is now a global economy. For example, what happens in Japan or Iraq can drastically alter prices for our stock exchanges, gas/oil, and many other products. What exactly does this mean for our youth? The youth cannot graduate or even dropout of school without going through the pains of a low-income job. The jobs offered with no experience pay very little with very little room for pay increases. In fact, the competition to get a promotion can be fierce. In the past, your high school senior could graduate and go work at the local factory for the rest of his or her life and make a good living. They would not necessarily need to have a college education to survive. In fact, youth today will graduate from college with multiple degrees and still cannot find work that pays enough to sustain a decent lifestyle.

4. Education Disparity
empty-school-desk-489x400

Education is important. Few people would dispute this well regarded fact. A good education (in comparison with a bad one) will provide a child with an increased chance of taking advantage of opportunities to be successful in life. Unfortunately, some people have it better than other. This is not an issue of just one school being better than another school. Rather we are talking about whole classes of American children being denied a proper education that will prepare them to compete in a job market with their peers and have the same access to the American Dream. Disparity in educational quality is delineated by race and financial status. If you live in a poor neighborhood or are a minority, there is a good chance that the schools you attend are lacking many necessities. While Asians and Whites enjoy high graduating rates, African American and Latinos continue to lag behind. Not surprisingly, because job opportunities are lessen for dropouts, these two groups have the highest incarceration rates.

5. Obesity
childhood-obesity

Our kids are fat and getting fatter. Recent numbers show that 20% of American children are obese. Not chubby –OBESE! Video games, TV, the internet and fast food are partly to blame. Kids are spending more time sitting in front of a TV/computer screen than running around outside. This sedentary lifestyle has consequences. Socially, it’s no secret that overweight kids are going to be subject to ridicule from their peers – it’s sad, but nevertheless true. This can result in such issues as low self-esteem, depression, etc. Then there are the health concerns. High blood pressure, diabetes and other maladies that is associated with obesity. Psychologically and physically, obesity is an issue that can be resolved with a simple increase in activity and awareness.

6. Materialism
Toddler with shopping bags.

We live in a society that promotes materialism and so we perpetuate this particular malady by instilling bad habits into our children. We teach our children that the measure of success and happiness in life is how much stuff you have. Kids naturally want things –especially if their friends have something similar. Unfortunately, there seems to be little restraint on accompanying guidance as we go about this. Essentially, we provide our kids with whatever they want that is within our financial ability to do so. The concept of “earning” what you get or the idea that something “you don’t need” seem to have been lost and discarded. Is there really any wonder why the average adult is $15,000 in debt at any given time? We have a mentality of getting what we want and when we want it that has been ingrained in us since childhood. The unfortunate result is that there are devastating consequences for such continued behavior later in life.

7. Violence in Schools
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A child’s education is the foundation from which he or she will be able to go forth out into the world and build a life. Schools play a major role in this endeavor, and therefore it is reasonable to expect that these places of learning would be safe havens for the children while they are preparing for adulthood. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In many instances, especially in low income, urban settings, schools can be a war zone. We are not talking about minor bullying, but rather serious violence. Consider that in the last decade 284 kids were murdered due to school violence – these were shootings, stabbings, fighting and suicides. Growing up is tough enough without having to be worried about being killed while going to math class.

8. Growing up too Fast
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There was a time when kids enjoyed being kids. Today, even at the earliest of ages, children are partaking in adult activities with serious consequences. Similar to what we see with alcohol and drugs, sex is a very popular and portrayed subject matter. The movies, TV, the internet, essentially everywhere a kid turns he or she is bombarded with sexual suggestions. In fact, there are entire TV series marketed directly to kids dealing with sex – the egregious being The Secret Lives of an American Teenager and Teen Mom, to name two. Music is a culprit as well. Songs have always had sexual innuendos, but at least “back in the day” you had to be old enough to understand them. Today, it’s all about “How low can you go” and “baby let me sex you up.” Kids are having sex as early as 10 and 11, with teen pregnancies increasingly on the rise. The concept of childhood is literally being wiped out.

9. Drug/Alcohol Abuse
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There was a time in cinematic history where virtually every actor/actress was portrayed on screen with a cigarette in hand. Smoking, it was implied, was cool. As a result everyone was doing it, including kids. Well, as awareness to the danger of smoking increased, “cool” images of smoking disappeared. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about drugs and alcohol. These vices are staples in everyday media. Simply, drinking and using drugs is shown as being cool. The numbers bear the tale. 21% of high school seniors say they get high and 41% of the same group report drinking alcohol. Our kids are literally moving around in an intoxicated daze. Immature behavior is then amplified due to being under the influence. Drunk driving, poor grades and attendance, anti-social and violent behavior and the list goes on.

10. Single Parent Households
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The problems begin at home. Since the 1950s, the number of single parent homes has consistently increased to the point of catastrophe. Today, 14 million single parents are responsible for 28 million children. Raising a child is difficult enough in a two parent home, especially in tough economic conditions. The situation is even direr when there is only one parent. Economically, a single parent is likely to bring less income home. This equates to fewer opportunities for such vital necessities as education. Trying to make ends meet also takes time – time that is spent away from children who need a parent’s guiding/influence. Absent a parent’s diligent guidance, children become subject to higher dropout rates, higher risk of dangerous sexual behaviors and pregnancies, higher chances of drug and alcohol abuse –etc. It truly takes a village to raise a child.

Evil has Its Purpose

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Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

When tragedy strikes, when chaos reins, when calamity turns lives upside down, people ask questions. In their anger and their grief some of the most common questions are about God, even from people who otherwise ignore or even claim to disbelieve in Him.

“Why does God let bad things happen?” “If God is loving and fair, why does He allow hateful and unfair things happen to good people?” In some cases they’re even blaming God for the tragedy.

Now as a Christian it is easy to become upset with people who ask these kinds of questions and call God’s character into doubt with their insinuations and their faithlessness.

But then we have to remind ourselves that they are asking in ignorance, and it is we, as believers in Christ, who are supposed to have some sort of answer for them. Not that we always have the answers ourselves, but the fact is, if they are asking they deserve some kind of response.

With that in mind we must be careful that we give them a proper and helpful response, and in order to be in position to do that we must think things through for ourselves first.

But in the wake of the events of the past week in our own country, and with the memories of the collapsed bridge in Baghdad, the multiple suicides by out teens, and the terror being advocated by North Korea, and the tsunami in Indonesia being so fresh in all of our minds, I felt that I should address this issue to some degree at least.

I know there will be a lot of good sermons out there in these upcoming weeks about grief and tragedy and how to deal with horrible times and I know many of them will give comfort.

Here, I want to come in a slightly different door and hopefully give the reader some food for thought, and perhaps a word or two to share with inquiring minds.

When Adam sinned in the garden, and by saying Adam I mean both he and Eve, they died spiritually, they began to die physically, and if they rejected God’s promise of a Redeemer they died eternally. I personally believe there is ample evidence that they did believe in that promise, but that’s another discussion.

The point is, since all of mankind was in Adam’s loins when he sinned, therefore all of mankind inherited a sin nature (or a ‘fallen nature’) from Adam. (Romans 5:12-15)

That fallen nature in us is diametrically opposed to anything Godly, since it is the nature of the flesh and contrary to God.

This is not meant to be a sermon on basic Bible doctrine, but this point must be understood so that the reader will know what I mean when I say that our natural thinking is backwards in relation to God and everything about Him.

It is only when we are given spiritual life by the Holy Spirit and He begins to lead us into truth that we begin to think rightly at all about spiritual truth; it is only then that we begin to any degree to think like God.

Therefore, when people, sometimes even Christians, ask questions like what purpose does evil serve? The first thing we need to realize is that the question itself is backwards.

Instead of rambling all over the intellectual countryside trying to formulate an acceptable response to these questions, we could save ourselves a great deal of stress and discomfort and more than a little looking foolish, if we recognize that the whole ‘who’s to blame’ approach is backwards, as it comes from the fallen nature which is fundamentally ignorant of the truth of God.

I believe the only proper response to faithless questions, whether they be from someone else or floating around in our own mind, is to go to the Bible, see what the Bible says about God, and evaluate the circumstances in light of what the Bible says He is like, rather than evaluating God in light of the visible and temporal circumstances.

The next thing we must do then, is to determine what our own response and reaction is going to be to the circumstances in light of what we have learned about God.

So I want to take a brief look at two people in the Bible and their reactions to adversity, and the outcome of their reactions. Then I want us to go to just a couple of places that talk about the nature of God and what our response should be to that information, and then I’ll be done.

Here is Daniel 1:1-8
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, 4 youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. 6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego. 8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.

Judea, the southern Kingdom, had finally filled up her cup of iniquity with her idolatry and ungodly living, so God gave her into the hands of her enemy for a time of discipline and cleansing. Even then He promised His nation would once more be restored.

In the meantime however, here was Daniel, a young man at the time, forcibly taken into captivity and removed from his homeland. In all of it though, Daniel was faithful to his God, and obedient and prayerful.
Why? Because Daniel was prepared for adversity by his faithfulness and obedience to God in times of relative peace and comfort.

Daniel was blessed and protected by God and to make a long story short, the Bible does not record one fault of Daniel. It does not record one instance in which Daniel wavered in his faith and God used him greatly.
Next let’s go to Genesis 19:1, 2
1 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.”

Peter, in his second letter, called Lot ‘righteous’. In a seeming contrast we see Lot here, sitting in the gates of Sodom. Now that means he was doing business with the inhabitants of the city, perhaps exchanging philosophies with them, maybe politicking a little. The city gate was where these things took place.
So Lot might have been righteous in that he was religious and did all the right religious stuff, but he was living in tandem with an evil society and being affected by its evil thinking and its evil world view.

Verse 29 of Genesis 19 tells us that it was because God remembered Abraham’s request that He saved Lot and his family out of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But what we see of Lot is that he had become so embedded in the lifestyle of Sodom that the angels preferred to sleep in the city square than to come into his house.
In addition, His thinking was so tainted that when the men of the city came banging at the door wanting to have sexual relations with Lot’s visitors, he thought that giving them his two virgin daughters would be the solution to the problem.

As if that is not bad enough, when he escapes to the mountains with his daughters he gets drunk and commits incest with them, generating the Moabites and the Ammonites.
Why? Because Lot wasn’t prepared to face adversity and handle it properly and in a Godly way, because instead of staying near to God and pursuing holiness he pitched his tents toward Sodom, (first step) and eventually found himself in the city gates (second step) and even living amongst them in the city (third step).

What about God destroying the cities with fire? Well, He was willing, at Abraham’s request, to spare them all if He could only find 5 righteous men there. That I think is where our focus should be.

Instead of blaming God for the evil that men do, and then blaming Him when He acts against evil, we need to take note that He is patient and loving and not willing that any should perish.
Read Matthew 5:43-48 and remember this is Jesus speaking:
Matthew 5:43-48 (NASB95)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Two things to note from this portion. One, God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He shows no favoritism; He is fair and just in all He does.
Second, and backing up a step in the passage, note that Jesus said, “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven” The point being, that is what God is like. Loving, interceding, even for His enemies. We are to be like Him in that respect.

One final passage:
1 John 4:15-19
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us.

God is love, says John, and then he says that as God is so are we in this world. Read this passage several times. Let it sink in.
Then, having the truth about God freshly in mind, go back and look at the circumstances of Katrina, or the Baghdad bridge, or the Indonesian tsunami, or 9/11 or the Columbine shooting and all the other ‘Columbines’, or just the adverse circumstances of your own life, and assess them in the light of what the Bible says about who God is.
If you can do this honestly, if the people you talk to who have these questions can do this honestly, perhaps you can begin to see the times of trouble with a different perspective, knowing that everything about God’s plan for the ages has as its result the end of evil, and the conforming of men to the image of His Son Jesus if only they will come to His cross for forgiveness and to His empty tomb for life eternal.

Instead of trying to second-guess God and instead of trying to answer questions that come from a faithless heart, we should all be more concerned with whether we are close enough to Him, and desiring holiness and justice and righteousness so that when adversity comes we will respond with Godliness and Christ-likeness instead of faithlessness and failure.

The Winds of Fate

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the self-same winds that blow;
’Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That tells them the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the winds of fate
As we voyage along through life;
’Tis the set of the soul
That decides its goal
And not the calm or the strife.

— Ella Wheeler Wilcox

God’s hand is enough for “Me”

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I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.

Martin Luther

How refreshing it is to be in the hands of a loving God. He is all knowing and intimately aquinted with the requirements to propel us into His hidding place for us to share in His plan for our life. Better is one day in His courts or His house than a thousand else where. Famine, disolation, uncertainty are all ingredients used to purge us while on the journey, but how good is the ending of a thing than the start of a matter.

Job 12:9

New International Version (NIV)
9 Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?

A number of years ago the most magnificent diamond in the history of the world was found in an African mine. It was then presented to the king of England to embellish his crown of state. The King sent it to Amsterdam to be cut by an expert stonecutter. Can you imagine what he did with it?

He took this gem of priceless value and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it one hard time with his hammer, and the majestic jewel fell into his hand, broken in two. What recklessness! What wastefulness! What criminal carelessness! Actually, that is not the case at all. For you see, that one blow with the hammer had been studied and planned for days, and even weeks. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, defects, and possible lines along which it would split had all been studied to the smallest detail. And the man to whom it was entrusted was one of the most skilled stonecutters in the world.

Now do you believe that that blow was a mistake? No, it was the capstone and the culmination of the stonecutter’s skill> When he struck that blow, he did the one thing that would bring that gem to its most perfect shape, radiance, and jeweled splendor. The blow that seemed to be the ruin of the majestic precious stone was actually its perfect redemption, for from the halves were fashioned two magnificent gems. Only the skilled eye of the expert stonecutter could have seen the beauty of two diamonds hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.

Sometimes, in the same way, God lets a stinging blow fall on our life. You bleed, feeling the pain and your soul cries out in agony. At first you think the blow is an appalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most precious jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled stonecutter in the universe. Some day you are to be jeweled adorning the crown of The King. As you lie on His hand now, He knows just how to deal with you. Not one blow will be permitted to fall on your apprehensive soul except what the love of God allows. And you may be assured that from the depths of the experience, you will see untold blessings, and spiritual enrichment you have never before imagined..

In one of George Mac Donald’s books, one of the characters make this bitter statement:”I wonder why God why God made me. I certainly don’t see any purpose in It!” Another of the characters resosponds, “Perhaps you don’t see any purpose yet, but then, He isn’t finished making you. And besides, you are arguing with the process.”

If people would only believe they are still in the process of creation, submit to the Master, allowing Him to handle them as the potter handles clay, and yield themselves in one shinning, deliberate action to the turning of His wheel, they would soon find themselves able to welcome every pressure from His hand on them, even if it results in pain. And sometimes they should not only believe but also have God’s purpose in sight: “bringing many sons to glory” ( Heb.2:10).

Not a single blow can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.

The Truth about Being Black in America

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Effects of Slavery

African Americans or Black decedents of Slaves are one of two groups of unique minorities in the United States of America–the other being the American Aborigine or Native American.

The peculiarity of African Americans has nothing to do with the origin of this minority constituting about 13 to 15 percent of the US population–even though the origins of this group in general is myopic–or the physical characteristics that identify Blacks.

What distinguishes the Blacks of America from other groups who immigrated to the United States of America? Blacks did not enter the US by choice. Every other group of America can reverence the memory of pioneer ancestors who traveled bravely across the ocean or the plains willing to forge a new life and build something unique–putting aside old culture and adapting to new. Other heritages that made the US great gave up their language to become Americans.

Irish immigrants spread across Pennsylvania and Italians dominated New York creating new American versions of the old country. What of the African?

The fact that African Americans are called African at all is an indication of the limited explanation of this group’s history. The nationalities of Black American ancestors are a mystery for the great majority of the group. Slavery stripped this group of the choice to decide to merge with American culture. Slaves were cattle to the slavers, and treated as such.

There would be no Walimi Americans or Bangelima Americans, just African because the tribes and nations were intermixed preventing camaraderie through language. There would be no melting pot of exotic names because the tribes people were renamed and branded as nonhuman and soulless.

There would be no unique motherland identity. There would be no mingling of heritages other than the rape of tribes-women and breeding of tribes-people to make them bigger and stronger.

What is Black Heritage in America? Slavery. No identity other than a vast continent and no heritage other than what the slavers provided their ancestors and what little enslaved forebears etched out of the residue of similarities they could put together following the emancipation up until the Civil Rights Movement.

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Second Class Heritage

Following slavery, there existed about 20 years of prosperity for the newly free people of color before the new form of slavery became social law–racism. The social idea that any person of mixed slave ancestry constituted a Colored person created a singular class of people regardless of differing ethnic identity, Black–no matter the color of skin.

This concept survived from slavery where it was used to prevent mixed race people from claiming freedom based on European heritage or gaining a foothold after slavery as a more preferred class–though that occurred anyway.

After many generations of slavery and second-class citizenship, the sociological impact on this group created a people with no past to glorify as other Americans and little reason to love a country that did not guarantee constitutional rights. Generation X may be the first group of Blacks that actually experienced a more level social experience since slavery.

The psychosocial impact on African American cultural developed into what I call Collective Social Regard or CSR. No matter where a Black person originates in the country and above all political and social ties race is the definition of this group. CSR is based in the humanistic approach of Carl Rogers, specifically unconditional positive regard in reference to the client-center approach to therapy. Black Americans in general may not accept the action of those claiming Black heritage; however, this group tends to regard others within the group, owning the fellow members racial sameness without accepting necessarily the individuality. This provides a default group of identity for all Black Americans.

CSR is the perspective of African American social interaction derived from a shared ethnic experience based on heritage and race. Black people accept other Black people regarding them as brothers or sisters–due to the cattle like breeding during slavery–no matter the percentage of tribal ancestry. All an individual needs is to claim African heritage to be included as Black.

During slavery the slaver could trade away slave offspring at-will creating the need among these mixed tribes-people to form non-genetic connections of familial relationships that continue in Black tradition presently where many Blacks consider relatives removed by many degrees of separation or family friends close kin. .

Generally Blacks have not integrated into the main stream culture because most stand out due to physical differences and subjective distrust of Whites due to past dealings as a group–viewing attacks on any Black person irrespective of circumstance as evidence that there exists some institutionalized conspiracy that targets minorities secretly while publicly assuring equal protection and felicity under the law.

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Implications

As a community of Blacks without a specific African cultural heritage beyond slavery and having to depend on MOSTLY each other socially for many years until recently, it must purge the idea of Black against White.

It must not disregard the shared heritage as the descendants of slaves and second class citizens with attempts to convert to the majority culture and pretend color does not matter.

White America is a choice purposely forged with the benefit of continuity of culture from homelands. Blacks have no choice but to accept the ambiguity of connections to Africa and the reality of livestock-like breeding in America.

The breeding of American slaves allows for the exploration of promiscuity among present-day Blacks and a possible connection between high percentages of single mothers with large families due to father absenteeism The suggestion that there may be a link is only that, a suggestion based on little evidence and no facts–more a philosophical reasoning than a sociologically assumption.

Many descendants of American slaves are attributed stereotypical physical characteristics of tall, large muscular men and thick wide-hipped women. At one point in history, the description could describe the humans slavers used to breed the other slaves. There may be some connection to the assumption that Blacks excel at sports at a higher rate than not.

This would also justify the stereotype that American slaves’ descendants are inherently intellectually inferior–a premise that most would not accept in modern psychology. No scientific justification for such a view is forthcoming, but culturally the idea was considered and is slowly diminishing along with the physical stereotypes.

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Racial Disparity: Why can’t Blacks Just Get Over it?

Because of the cultural effects of slavery and persecution for many generations in any given situation, a Black individual must cycle through introspection that few other groups tend to consider.

For instance, a White man may experience a bad day at work and speak rudely to a Black store clerk who may think, “Did that person behave curtly because I am Black?” Because of the implication of his or her culture handed down from generations of oppressed Black people, those thoughts flash through the minds of many Blacks and are filed away by rationalization.

The same applies to women–especially minority women who must add to the mental reflection the question of their gender.

This introspection is applicable to anyone that does not identify with the majority culture completely including homosexuals, obscure religious groups, etc, but mostly for Blacks because Black culture is uniquely tied to America since that group is alone being forced to the states and forced to give up culture.

This all translates that as a group, Blacks think that the prisons are full of Black men and women because Blacks have no choice but to fight through the American system even if they have a more level playing field in today’s society.

it means, Obama is the president because “THEY”(WHITE PEOPLE) want Blacks to stop using the excuse that Blacks cannot get ahead in society because of racism–the hidden kind, conspiracy.

Blacks who think differently may deny heritage, or are denying heritage unawares–hurting themselves by disassociating with the social aspects of most African American culture. Whites do not need a race to identify with, but Blacks seem to need race collectively and not individually–to account for those of whose cultural experience has allowed them to adjust to mainstream American society, which is growing number.

Not enough time has passed since the Civil Rights Movement. Possibly, in three to five generations Blacks will think about race as do most Caucasians –meaning race does not define their heritage. Yet, it is also intriguing that a entire ethnic group of Americans exist whose only identity stems from American origins, a uniquely American creation.

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Moving Beyond The Past

It is not the purpose of this article to persuade Americans of African heritage to forget the struggles of the American slave. Contrarily, Black Americans must remember and embrace the shared American heritage of struggle. All Americans have struggled to some degree for the right to be in America. The United States of America is culturally diverse with groups that successfully etched a place in the American landscape. Whether the struggle began with a fight for equality or a fight for independence, all Americans share the same single trait to persevere until the work has completed and the situation controlled.

American descendants of the African slave are distinguished as captives and slaves in the nation, but share the glory of overcoming with other groups. Granted, the descendants of slaves may have a greater deal to overcome because of the oppressive past; however, such a past does not constitute a handicap. The determination of the change-makers of the past has diffused in the genetic core of all Americans. As diverse as America is, it is the common heritage that makes it great, and not the diversity alone.

The Importance of Agreement

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Of all that is good, sublimity is supreme. Succeeding is the coming together of all that is beautiful. Furtherance is the agreement of all that is just. Perseverance is the foundation of all actions.

Lao Tzu

As train 8017 made its way through Salerno, Italy, on March 2, 1944, it gave no sign that disaster was in the making. The chugging train didn’t collide with anything on that rainsoaked evening. It didn’t derail or burn. But shortly after 1:00 A.M., the train loaded with six hundred passengers lumbered into the Galleria delle Armi.

When the two locamotives pulling the train reached mid-tunnel, the drive wheels began to slip. Sand was sprayed on the tracks but to no avail. The wheels lost traction, and the train stopped. Any other details are pure speculation since both engineers died. Carbon monoxide snuffed out the lives of nearly five hundred people.

As analysts surveyed the wreckage, they found that the leading locomotive was unbraked, its controls set in reverse. The second locomotive was also unbraked, but its throttle was positioned “full ahead.” The two locomotives had pulled and pushed against each other, their engineers obviously having fatally different ideas about what to do! Some have speculated that no lives would have been lost if the engineers had only been in agreement about which direction to go.

Today, make a decision with your spouse or mate that you will both move your thought life in the direction of God–then stay ready by the controls of your minds. Any plant growing in the wrong place is a “weed.”

Unforgiveness in American Society

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The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Mahatma Gandhi


Today I am perplexed beyond measure about the unforgiveness of America’s society. A felon has paid his dues and expects to return to society with full pledge opportunity to reintegrate into the community. My wife and I have found this to be not so true as countless others are experiencing in our culture. We have been given grace to not harbor ill feelings to these unjust practices, we have strength to forgive those who are not forgiven knowing our fate is in “The Almighty God.”

World hunger and save the whales and all other advocacy for inhumane treatment are taking on real momentum while the plight of the “felon” is not related to being just as valuable. To not be allowed to get employment is a slow death designed to keep the individual oppressed.

People who commit a crime and are brought before a court to be sentenced expect to face a prison term or at least probation, and perhaps a fine. If this is their first brush with the justice system, they have a general sense that they will experience a degree of social opprobrium, the so-called stigma of conviction. But it is an article of faith for most Americans that people who violate the law will in time pay their debt to society and be welcomed back to its good graces.

President George W. Bush called us the “land of second chance,” and President Barack Obama famously congratulated the Philadelphia Eagles for letting Michael Vick walk from prison back into the team’s starting line-up. But the reality for people of ordinary abilities is very different. The following story (drawn from an article in the spring 2011 Howard Law Journal) illustrates the new normal in American punishment, in which the so-called collateral consequences of conviction are numerous, severe, and very hard to avoid or mitigate.
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/an-UDsAbuutuhbbnY/despicable_me_2010_background_ch

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A Second-Chance Story
At the time Darrell Langdon came to public attention in the summer of 2010, he had just been turned down for a job as a boiler-room engineer with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) under a state law barring anyone with a drug conviction from working in the public school system. Langdon’s conviction for drug possession was minor and dated, and he had gotten a court order relieving the legal impediment. Still, CPS refused to give him a chance. It was Langdon’s good fortune that a reporter from the Chicago Tribune took an interest in his story: “Darrell Langdon made a mistake more than two decades ago. A Cook County judge believes Langdon deserves a second chance. Until Monday, Chicago Public Schools officials didn’t—but, in response to my questions, they’re taking a second look.” Dawn Turner Trice, CPS: Good Conduct Certificate Not Good Enough, Chi. Trib., July 29, 2010, at 10.

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What made Darrell Langdon’s case unusual was that he had worked successfully for CPS years before. In fact, he had been employed by CPS in 1985 when he was caught with a half gram of cocaine and sentenced to six months’ probation. He had kept his job then but struggled with his addiction. Finally, in 1988, CPS sent him to its employee assistance program for drug treatment. It was a turning point. Langdon later reported, “I did so well that I was eventually called on to tell my story and help others with their addictions.”

Langdon’s recovery was remarkable, and he became a responsible family man and well-respected member of his community. In 1995, he left CPS to work in real estate, but thirteen years later the market downturn led him to reapply for his old job with the school system. By that time he had been sober for two decades, raised two sons as a single parent, and mentored many others through Alcoholics Anonymous. CPS interviewed him three times over a sixteen-month period, gave him various tests to determine his engineering aptitude and skills, and finally offered him the job. Then came the background check. There would be no possibility of hiring him with his record.

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Determined to get his old job back, Langdon sought help from Cabrini Green Legal Aid, where he found an advocate who was familiar with various relief provisions in Illinois law. Beth Johnson advised him against trying for a governor’s pardon because it would take too long to get his request considered. While he was eligible to have his record sealed, that would not benefit him in applying for school employment. But the Illinois courts had recently been authorized to issue a Certificate of Good Conduct that lifted statutory barriers to employment, including those applicable to employment at CPS, for someone determined by a court to be “a law-abiding citizen and . . . fully rehabilitated.” With only one conviction so long ago and a strong record of rehabilitation, Langdon was an excellent candidate for this relief.

Johnson filed a petition in Cook County Circuit Court, attaching letters attesting to Langdon’s two decades of sobriety and dedicated service to others in recovery, his steadfast commitment as a parent despite many difficulties, the respect and affection of his neighbors and business associates, and even his talents as a cook. At a hearing before Judge Paul Biebel, Langdon spoke movingly about his journey to sobriety in the 1980s, and how he had maintained his sobriety over the years. Judge Biebel, satisfied that he met the statutory standard, issued him the certificate.

This should have been the end of Langdon’s story because CPS was no longer legally barred from hiring him. But he ran into that bureaucratic aversion to risk that people with a criminal record frequently encounter. A CPS official explained to the Chicago Tribune: “We have to ensure we’re hiring people who won’t put our children in jeopardy.” A policy of blanket rejection was safe and easy to administer. But the media attention provided the necessary encouragement for CPS to consider Langdon’s application more seriously, and eventually he was offered his old job back under a new hiring policy developed with his case in mind.

In many ways, Darrell Langdon’s story is fairly typical in terms of the difficulties faced by people with a criminal record seeking employment: Even where there are no disqualifying legal barriers, and even with convincing evidence of ability and good character, they may be excluded without rational explanation. In other ways, Langdon’s story is happily atypical: He had a skilled advocate for his cause, a legal system that was well-suited to his particular need, and a sympathetic and determined reporter to tell his story and to shame a risk-averse employer into doing the right thing. Most people are not so lucky.

Langdon’s fight to regain his old job with CPS shows how hard it is these days to overcome a criminal record, even one that is dated and minor. And if the law poses no obstacle to advancement, there remains the fear and loathing that a criminal record inspires. But Langdon’s story also shows that the system is capable of change. The following discussion puts the story into a larger context.
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50139876n
Modern Civil Death
From colonial times, the American legal system has recognized the reduced status of a convicted criminal, derived from the ancient Greek concept of “infamia,” or “outlawry,” among the Germanic tribes. The idea that criminals should be separated from the rest of society led to “civil death” in the Middle Ages, and to exile by transportation in the Enlightenment. A half century ago, Chief Justice Earl Warren observed that “[c]onviction of a felony imposes a status upon a person which not only makes him vulnerable to future sanctions through new civil disability statutes, but which also seriously affects his reputation and economic opportunities.” It is this semi-outlaw status more than any prison term or fine that is frequently a criminal defendant’s most serious punishment.

In 1960, the phenomenon that Nora Demleitner has described as “internal exile” had a limited impact on American society because conviction was comparatively rare, criminal records were hard to access, and official forgiveness was relatively easy to obtain. Chief executives still treated pardoning as an integral part of their job, and the Model Penal Code reflected the new fascination with judicial restoration of rights through vacatur or expungement. The reformers of the era thought permanent branding inhumane and inefficient.

In 1967, the President’s Crime Commission called for the wholesale reform of “the system of disabilities and disqualifications that has grown up” because it interfered with rehabilitative efforts. Other reform groups, including the American Bar Association (ABA), called for the abolition of mandatory status-generated sanctions, favoring “an informed and restrained exercise of discretion.” As late as 1981, the ABA confidently predicted that “collateral consequences” were on their way to extinction: “As the number of disabilities diminishes and their imposition becomes more rationally based and restricted in coverage, the need for expungement and nullification statutes decreases.” We will see just how wrong that prediction was.

The modern era of escalating prison populations that began in the mid-1980s saw a retreat from the forgiving spirit of the earlier period. In the past two decades, the status imposed by conviction has become increasingly public, the sanctions generated by it have become ever more severe and hard to mitigate, and the number of people trapped in that status—usually for life—has ballooned. Promulgated indiscriminately over three decades in the War on Crime, and administered rigidly in the risk-averse post-9/11 environment, collateral sanctions now mandate exclusion of people with a criminal record from a wide range of benefits and opportunities.

A minor drug conviction like Darrell Langdon’s, for instance, can make a person ineligible for welfare benefits, public housing, a driver’s license, student loans, insurance, voting, government employment, and hundreds of different types of jobs requiring a license. It can also lead to mandatory deportation for a noncitizen. Sex offenders may be effectively barred from living in urban areas because they cannot reside near schools, playgrounds, or even bus stops where children congregate. Repeat offenses can result in designation as a “career criminal” and harsh recidivist or three-strikes sentences. In August 2010, as part of a federally funded study, the ABA Criminal Justice Section identified 38,000 laws and regulations imposing collateral penalties.

Beyond legal obstacles, there is social stigma. A recent study of online job ads posted on Craigslist in five major cities noted widespread use of blanket policies excluding from consideration anyone with any type of conviction in entry-level jobs such as warehouse workers, delivery drivers, and sales clerks. People of means are not exempt from this chill, as government procurement officials and private insurance companies steer clear of businesses that employ people with a record. Law firms and human resource consultants counsel their clients (“just to be safe”) against hiring anyone whose background includes any brush with the law.

As collateral penalties have proliferated in legal codes and administrative rules, the mechanisms for overcoming them (such as executive pardon) have atrophied. Background checks are routine even for volunteer jobs in the community, and criminal records are available online for as little as $15. (It is now surprisingly easy to delve anonymously into someone’s past: A Google name search may bring up an unsolicited offer from a private screening company to do a criminal background check on a neighbor, coworker, or teacher for a nominal fee.)

And, of course, more and more people are caught up in the dragnet of the criminal justice system. Most don’t go to prison, but all face a modern civil death, in law and in fact. That people of color are disproportionately branded and ostracized is particular cause for alarm. That was the new reality facing Darrell Langdon when he tried to get his old job back.

Today there are more than 90 million Americans with a criminal record who cannot hope to pay their debt to society. If we still like to imagine our country as the “land of second chance,” and rejoice at Michael Vick’s redemption, as a practical matter, our laws and attitudes point in the opposite direction.

Countervailing Trends and Influences
There are the beginnings of resistance to a regime of exclusionary laws and policies, as policymakers understand that degraded status and lost opportunities exact a high price in public safety and taxpayer burden, quite apart from considerations of fair play for the individuals affected. When people returning from prison are barred from jobs and housing, they are more likely to slip back into a life of crime. It is the goal of reentry programs to see that this doesn’t happen. When people like Darrell Langdon continue to experience discrimination decades after their rehabilitation is secure, they may reasonably ask what the point was in trying.

The Supreme Court has been an unexpected change agent, giving lawyers and judges new reason to concern themselves with how collateral sanctions are imposed and how they may be avoided. In its groundbreaking decision in Padilla v. Kentucky (130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010)), the Court held that a criminal defense lawyer was constitutionally required to advise his noncitizen client considering a guilty plea that he was almost certain to be deported as a result. Characterized by the concurring justices as a “major upheaval in Sixth Amendment law,” Padilla’s rationale is hard to confine to deportation consequences alone but potentially extends to other status-generated penalties that are sufficiently important to a criminal defendant to influence his willingness to plead guilty.

Because of Padilla, competent defense lawyers will now advise their clients about collateral penalties and incorporate them into negotiations over the disposition of criminal charges. Judicious prosecutors will take steps to protect against post-conviction challenges based on consequences no one was aware of and may be more open to alternative dispositions that do not result in a conviction record. And courts will no longer declare collateral consequences to be “none of our business” just because they do not control their imposition.

The Padilla decision suggests that forgiveness has a constitutional dimension as well. In finding a constitutional obligation to warn, the Court emphasized that deportation is a “virtually inevitable” consequence of a guilty plea because Congress has eliminated judicial and administrative mechanisms for discretionary relief. Lower courts have held that the availability of relief from collateral sanctions in post-conviction proceedings is relevant in constitutional challenges to the imposition of these sanctions in the first instance, under the ex post facto and due process clauses.

Reinventing Pardon
In The Federalist No. 74, Alexander Hamilton argued that “humanity and good policy conspire to dictate that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed.” He spoke of the “necessary severity” of the criminal code that required “an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt.” As Hamilton expected, pardon functioned as a fully operational part of the justice system from the earliest days of the Republic. Pardon was useful not only to cut short mandatory prison sentences, but also to remove legal disabilities and signify an individual’s good character. Until quite recently, the routine availability of pardon after service of sentence meant that a convicted person could look forward to a full and early reintegration into free society—with the same benefits and opportunities available to any other member of the general public—free of unwarranted collateral penalties and the stigma of conviction. Expungement and set-aside statutes, enacted as a substitute for pardon, relieved minor offenders of the need to report their convictions.

In the past thirty years, the old routes to official forgiveness have become impassable. Pardon has come to be regarded as a bothersome and politically dangerous anachronism. Relief premised on concealment has become increasingly unreliable and unpopular in the face of technological advances and a public appetite for full disclosure. Systemic efforts to avoid threshold rejection, like “ban-the-box” legislation or limits on pre-employment inquiries, have driven discretion underground.

Yet, as we have seen, the idea of official forgiveness finds new policy support in efforts to reduce recidivism through reentry programming and new legal support in the reasoning of the Padilla decision. If the pardon power cannot be reinvigorated, as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy urged at the 2003 ABA Annual Meeting, perhaps it can be reinvented.

It happened that just two days after Justice Kennedy delivered his now-iconic speech, the ABA House adopted a set of standards that proposed a new template for limiting and rationalizing the collateral consequences of conviction. Among other things, the Criminal Justice Standards on Collateral Sanctions and Discretionary Disqualification proposed that forgiveness should be an important responsibility of the court that imposes punishment. Borrowing the framework proposed some forty years earlier in § 306.6 of the Model Penal Code, the ABA Standards provided that “timely and effective” relief from mandatory collateral sanctions should be available as early as sentencing itself, to alleviate impediments to successful rehabilitation.

Conclusion
Collateral sanctions have been recognized as an impediment to successful reentry and reintegration of persons with a conviction record, but very few jurisdictions have developed an effective way of avoiding or mitigating them. Many years after conviction, these legal barriers frequently serve only as irrational punishment, not reasonable regulation. Even if a convicted person is not legally barred from eligibility for some benefit or opportunity, decision makers are frequently reluctant to take a chance on someone with a criminal record, even with evidence that conviction is a poor predictor of future criminality after an extended period of law-abiding conduct.

The law provides little by way of encouragement or support for those otherwise willing to recognize redemption. This is as systemically short-sighted as it is unfair to the individuals involved. That is why, so many years later, Hamilton’s observation about the conspiracy of humanity and good policy still rings true. Unless we as a society are comfortable living with a growing class of “internal exiles” who have no way to pay their debt to society and return to its good graces, with its attendant public safety risks and moral dilemmas, we should be looking for a more effective way of giving convicted individuals a fair chance to become fully productive members of society. As lawyers, it is our job to make the law forgiving.

Surrender

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DMX

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

C. S. Lewis

As one of the most controversial rappers in hip hop history, DMX has really had it tough.

In the last 5 years he has been in and out of jail, and been in news headline after news headline.

EXCLUSIVE: DMX: “I Just Been Made Deacon Of A Church!”

He’s had a lot of making up to do with his family members in the last couple of years, including with his wife and children, and now Iyanla is putting him to the test.

Last night, the DMX episode aired of Iyanla’s “Fix My Life”, and it was one of the most stirring and emotional episodes she will probably ever do.

DETAILS: DMX Not Playing Big Meech In Movie

From crying over his mother and the love he has for multiple women in his life, to cursing Iyanla out, it’s an unmissable episode.

You know who how you know the episode was really real? Hours before it aired, DMX gave an exclusive statement to AllHipHop denouncing the show.

Through his representative Domenick Nati of Nati Celebrity Services, here’s what he
said:

“DMX agreed to be a guest on ‘Iyanla: Fix My Life’ with the understanding that she would be helping his relationships with his 10 children,” the statement says. “When he arrived for the taping, most of the content was focused on his struggles with drugs and poor parenting. Iyanla did not ‘fix’ DMX’s life just made his image worse, and does not have DMX’s personal written consent to use the footage.“

OUCH!

Well we captured some of the top 10 most memorable moments from the episode that you shouldn’t have missed, so check out our list below!

1. He cries while talking with Iyanla about his mother and how it’s hard to love just one woman.

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2. His reaction when Iyanla asks boldly if he’s high during the interview.

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3. Iyanla tells him that his friends and family might be waiting for the call any day that he’s dead.

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4. He tells her to “shut the f*ck up” while having a discussion with his first son Xavier.

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5. He admits to smoking crack.
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6. His wife says they haven’t spoken in months, despite being together for 24 years.

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7. His son has been afraid to tell him how he feels for fear of the backlash. He also admits that they have “no relationship” as of today.

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8. Despite the bad treatment, Xavier admits that he can forgive DMX as a father.

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9. DMX and his son Xavier reunite for the first time after not having seen each other in a year and a half.

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10. DMX walks out on Iyanla after claiming she keeps “running her mouth”.

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DMX and his son reunite after not speaking or seeing eachother for over a year:


The process to change is painful. It is work to do in-order to regain the trust of individuals after the destructive habits we acquire, but if you give the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ a chance He will do exceedingly abundantly above what you can ever ask or imagine. Truth is required and reality about the truth you are seeking, not the truth that fits my sickness. There is one truth and that is Jesus death, burial, and Resurrection.

I am a Man Veteran who know this O’ to Well!!!

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The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.

Confucius

I am going to let this video speak for me. I came home in this condition and “But God” I don’t know where I would be. We as Americans take the sacrifice that soldiers make.

Decorated, educated and experienced in warfare and life, but convicted as a felon and once addicted to cocaine and fabulous living I came home from nine campaigns with an expectation of entitlements because I served under adverse and stressful conditions. Faced with the reality that no one owed me nothing I tried to self diagnose and went self will run riot. I never taped a flag to a shopping cart and got a trusted dog for my companion, but I was sick and the VA said we can not help you. If It were not for praying people and a will to win and be something in life there go I.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50133122n

As the media pays more attention to the invisible scars soldiers can bring home from service, a common picture has emerged: that of the strong, battle-hardened young man who is susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But there is another face of mental illness in the U.S. Armed Forces, and it’s a female one.

Certainly, far fewer women than men join the armed forces. And until very recently, women were formally banned from combat. But plenty of women veterans are dealing with the unexpected aftereffects of military service.

Here are two women veterans’ stories. Each is coping with a different (but related) mental disorder while serving in the military.

After Mary, 40, was sexually assaulted by a fellow service member, the resultant post-traumatic stress symptoms combined to make her life hellish. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the trauma resulted in a psychiatric diagnosis—in her case, post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the National Center for PTSD at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like combat, assault, or disaster. Most people have some stress reactions after a trauma. If the reactions don’t go away over time or disrupt your life, you may have PTSD.

A person with PTSD may go into a fight-or-flight reaction in response to seemingly harmless stimuli like the sound of a car starting or the sight of a door opening. Mary is still in the military. She is stationed CONUS (within the continental United States), and she works in the field of health. She’s reticent about details: “I haven’t been terribly quiet about what happened to me, but I do not disclose that I have PTSD. If I did, I fear I would lose my current position within the service and ultimately, be removed from the service.”

She says, “PTSD is insidious; it creeps up on you. First, you may experience a moment of panic when you are in a crowded area. For most of ‘us,’ Wal-Mart is a PTSD nightmare. You may startle easy, way too easily. You’ll never be able to sit with your back to a door or respond in a ‘normal’ manner to someone who catches you off guard. If you don’t relive the experience during the day, your psyche ensures that you work through your issue at night in the form of sheet-tangling, sweat-soaked nightmares that no one should have to endure. These are the nightmares that wake you from the deepest sleep and cast a dark gloom over the whole of the next day.”

She says that for military service members like her (as well as for veterans), the best PTSD support groups are the ones that are closed to civilians. She adds, “Sometimes, there’s things only another service member can understand.”

When asked if she’d still join the military if she had the opportunity to do it all over again, Mary says, “Yes. I’m willing to bet the majority of us would all answer yes.”

What Trina remembers the most about her bout with severe depression was that nobody else in the Navy seemed to notice.

Trina joined up when she was 20 and spent nine years in the Navy. Among other things, she worked on diesel engines as part of her long-term goal to become a professional mechanic. But she tells Take Part that by the end of her service she was “sick of all the ruthless competition just to get promoted. You couldn’t trust anyone.”

She adds, “Also, it was destroying what little mental health I had left.”

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According to the Veterans Administration:

Many symptoms of depression overlap with the symptoms of PTSD. For example, with both depression and PTSD, you may have trouble sleeping or keeping your mind focused. You may not feel pleasure or interest in things you used to enjoy. You may not want to be with other people as much. Both PTSD and depression may involve greater irritability. It is quite possible to have both depression and PTSD at the same time.

As Trina tells it, the darkness crept up gradually, eventually affecting her military service. She says, “I went from doing my work, and always looking for more, to doing absolutely nothing and finding ways to not be around, including being gone for two afternoons because I couldn’t face anyone. I was a teacher at our tech school at the time and was known for always being there for the students and helping them out. Suddenly, I avoided all of them. When I did end up in the hospital, everyone was shocked. My Chief even told my parents that he had no idea.”

After a hospital stay to treat severe depression, Trina returned to work. She says she tried to educate her fellow troops about the reality of mental illness, but felt they didn’t listen. And at least one higher-up was particularly insensitive.

Trina tells Take Part, “About six months later, I heard someone very high in our chain of command talking loudly about how a student was faking wanting to kill himself so he could get out of the school.”

Are you watching your Community and the Bahavior of its Teens?

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Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Benjamin Franklin

With all the recent suicides over shadowing our teens in the world in the last two months our times of devotion and prayer meetings should be filled with breath prayers and on the ramparts of our church youths. I really feel for the families of these young girls. The people that made them victims are to be considered as sick and in need as well for spiritual prayers.


SARATOGA, California — Eight days after being sexually assaulted by friends while passed out at a party, and then humiliated by online photos, 15-year-old Audrie Pott posted on Facebook that her life was ruined, “worst day ever,” and hanged herself, the family’s lawyer said.

For the next eight months, her family struggled to figure out what happened to their soccer-loving, artistic, horse-crazy daughter, whose gentle smile, long dark hair and shining eyes belied a struggling soul.

And then on Thursday, a California sheriff’s office arrested three 16-year-old boys on suspicion of sexual battery. The arrests “reopened a wound” for family members of Pott, and they have gone into seclusion, family attorney Robert Allard said.

“The family has been trying to understand why their loving daughter would have taken her life at such a young age and to make sure that those responsible would be held accountable,” Allard said.

“After an extensive investigation that we have conducted on behalf of the family, there is no doubt in our minds that the victim, then only 15 years old, was savagely assaulted by her fellow high school students while she lay on a bed completely unconscious,” he said.

Matt was 14 years old when he was baptized at Second Life Baptist church, a one-room country church only a few miles from his house. A few months later, Matt dropped out of the church. The pastor and his wife visited him several times, but failed to persuade Matt to return to church. Everyone was concerned for him, but no one suspected the real reason for his absence. Matt was expecting a child. About a month before the baby was expected to deliver, Matt cleaned his room, emptied his school locker, and wrote a note to his mother:

“You kept asking me if I was OK and I kept telling you I was, but I wasn’t OK. I’m sorry, Mom. I’ve got too many problems. I am taking the easy way out.”

Matt left that day before his mother arrived home from work. He walked to the railroad tracks near his house, knelt between the rails, and folded his hands over his face as Amtrak 168 barreled down upon him. The train engineer, a man who had a fourteen-year-old daughter of his own, later said that when he saw Matt, it was too late to stop the train. He watched him cross himself before he died.

Suicide is not a funny thing. People everyday consider “ending it all.” In fact, Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens 15-24 year olds. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eighteen teenagers per day kill themselves in the United States. Every 80 minutes another teenagers commits suicide. Over a hundred teens per week, and the total come to a staggering 6,500 lives lost. Not only that, but over 1000 teens per day attempt to commit suicide. That’s almost 1 teen per minute. 73% of kids admit having thought about suicide. How many of you reading this blog know someone who has talked about or attempted suicide? The statistics show that at least 70% of you know someone who has attempted it.

Every suicide is an attempt to say, “I NEED HELP.” People will use faulty reasoning, and have a deep sense of hopelessness. They’ll say things like, “nobody cares about me,” “I wish I were dead,” “this world would better off without me.” I often wonder why someone would do something like this, but then I remember when I was in high school. On many occasions after a fight with my then girlfriend, I’d have visions of driving my car into a ditch at 90 mph. I guess I had those thoughts myself. I thought, “I’ll show her…she’ll admit she was wrong when I’m dead.” It was that faulty reasoning that made me have those thoughts. I guess as a teenager you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. There are so many things, and people vying for your attention, and sometimes you just can’t take it. Your parents are always doggin’ you, you just broke up with a boyfriend who cheated on you with your best friend, your heart hurts, you think it would just be better to not exist at all…then the pain will go away. So, what do you do? You cut your wrists. You don’t really know what’ll happen, but who cares. You want the pain to stop. You’re tired of feeling the way you do, and you just want to stop hurting. It’s easy.

The truth is that others have felt that way before you. Others have dealt with hurt, with pain. Others have wished they didn’t exist. Psalm 73:14, “all day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.” Those others are people from the Bible-God’s love letter. What!?! The Bible, a book of hope contains stories of suicide? Yes. Job 3:1-11, “ 1 After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. 2 He said: “May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, ’A boy is born!’ That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it. 5 May darkness and deep shadow [a] claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm its light. 6 That night—may thick darkness seize it;
may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months. 7 May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it. 8 May those who curse days [b] curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan. 9 May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn, 10 for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide trouble from my eyes. 11 “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?”

The same man, who only a chapter before this fell on his face and praised God after the Lord allowed Satan to take away everything from him, here is wishing he was dead. Then there were those who actually committed suicide—Samson- Judges 16:29-30, “Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, “let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.” Samson killed himself along with the Philistines in one final attempt at revenge. King Saul took his own life. 1 Chronicles 10:4-5 says, “Saul said to his armor-bearer, ‘draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and abuse me.’ but his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.” 2 Samuel 17:23, “When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.” 1 Kings 16:18, “When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died.” And then there was Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Matthew 27:3-5, “when Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ ‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”

Judas was so wrought with guilt that he decided to take his own life.

“Wait”

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Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering.

Paulo Coelho

Have you ever heard of anyone being greatly used by Christ who did not experience a special time of waiting, or a complete upset of his plans at first? From the apostle Paul’s being sent into the Arabian wilderness for three years–during which time he must have been overflowing with the Good News–down to the present day, it seems those who will be used will have a time of waiting.

Have you been looking forward to telling about trusting Jesus, but instead He is asking you to show what trust is, by waiting? My own experience is far less severe than Paul’s but reveals the same principle. Once when I thought the door was being thrown open for me to enter the Ministry field with a great opportunity, it was just as quickly shut. My demons stepped in and simply said, “Never! You must choose between pastoring and living, for you cannot do both.” The year was 1999, and I did not come out of my shell of isolation and torment until 2001 that was my first attempt to serve God in that facet. The calling was received in 1989 and all that time in between was when I saw the distinct wisdom of having been kept waiting for 10 years in the shade.

God’s love is unchangeable, and He is just as loving even when we do not see or feel it. And His love and HIs sovereignty are equal and universal. Therefore He often withholds our enjoyment and awareness of our progress, because He knows best what will actually ripen and further His work in us.

I laid it down in silence,
This work of mine,
And took what had been sent me–
A resting time.
The Master's voice had called me
To rest apart;
"Apart with Jesus only,"
Echoed my heart.

I took the rest and stillness
From His own hand,
And felt this present illness
Was what He planned.
How often we choose labor,
When He says "Rest"–
Our ways are blind and crooked;
His way is best.

Work He Himself has given,
He will complete.
There may be other duties
For tired hands,
The present, is obedience
To His commands.

Having been delivered by God from every attempt to break fellowship, I speak from experience and real encounters of Him in my God given life. Confused at times because I don't understand or can't see Him in a current or particular circumstance makes waiting very difficult. I realize we walk by faith and not by sight, so when you don't know what to do, "Wait."

There is a blessed resting
In lying still,
In letting His hand mold us,
Just as He will.
His work must be completed.
His work must be completed.
His lesson set;
He is the Master Workman:
Do not forget!

It is not "working."
We must be trained;
And Jesus "Learned" obedience,
Through suffering gained.
For us, His yoke is easy,
His burden light.
His discipline most needful,
And all is right.

We are to be His servants;
We never choose
If this tool or if that one
Our hands will use.
In working or in waiting
May we fulfill
Not ours at all, but only
The Master's will.

Ezekiel 3:22

New International Version (NIV)
22 The hand of the Lord was on me there, and he said to me, “Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.”