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Mental Health

~Is Conformity a Issue for You?~

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Conformity involves developing attitudes, opinions, and behaviors to match the attitudes of a specific group. Most people conform to the standard values,also called norms, of many groups without stress and often without even knowing that they are doing so. By itself conformity is neither good nor bad.

Some degree of conformity is necessary for societies to function. For example, when you stop at a red light, you are conforming to the law and to the general agreement that for the good and safety of society, a red light means stop. You stop, even though most of the time there is not a police officer on the scene to enforce the law.

Different societies and different organizations put higher or lower values on conformity. The United States is often said to have been settled by non-conformists. Many of the early colonists were people who did not fit in, for religious, philosophical, economic, or social reasons, with the expectations of society in their native countries. They sought a place to live where the levelof conformity and norms of society were more comfortable for them. In the United States often some degree of non-conformity is still admired today. The ideal of the “rugged individualist” who does things his or her own way is partof American culture.

Other societies put a higher value on fitting in or conforming. There is a Japanese proverb that roughly translates into the saying, “The nail that sticksup gets hammered down,” meaning that it is better not to stand out in a group but to conform. Military organizations are an example of a group that expects a high level of conformity in the behavior of their members and punishes those who do not conform.

All people balance the need to conform and fit in with the need to express their individuality throughout their lives. Some research into birth order suggests that the oldest child in a family is more likely to conform, while laterchildren are more likely to become non-conformists. However, these studies are open to different interpretations and, although interesting, should not beconsidered conclusively true.

Young children tend to be the least aware of the group and society values andare the least influenced by the need to conform. However, with more social interactions and more awareness of others, the need to conform grows. Pre-teens and teenagers face many issues related to conformity. They are pulled between the desire to be seen as individuals of unique value and the desire to belong to a group where they feel secure and accepted. The result is that oftenteens reject conforming to family or general society values, while conformingrigidly to the norms or values of their peer group. An example of this phenomenon is seen when young people join gangs. In joining the gang they are rejecting the community’s way of dressing and behaving. Yet to belong to the gang, they must conform to the gang’s own style of dress, behavior, and speech.

Conformity is tied closely to the issue of peer pressure. Although people feel peer pressure their entire lives, young people who are seeking to define themselves are generally most influenced by the values and attitudes of their peers. Adolescents often encourage friends to do or try things that they themselves are doing in order to fit into to a group. The encouragement can be positive (studying hard to get good grades) or negative (drinking beer after thefootball game).

Deciding how much and which group’s values to conform to are one of the majorstresses of adolescence. Trying to conform to the behaviors of a group thatgo against one’s own beliefs in order to be accepted creates a great deal ofinternal conflict and sometimes external conflict with family members and friends from an earlier time. Defining oneself as an individual and developing aconstant value system forces young people to confront issues of conformity and non-conformity. This is a major challenge of adolescence.

Many studies of young people show that if a person’s friends engage in a behavior – everything from cigarette smoking to drinking alcohol to shoplifting to sexual activity – an adolescent is highly likely to conform to his or her friends’ behaviors and try these activities. The alternative is for the youngperson to seek different friends with values more in line with his own. Often, however, the desire to be part of a group and the fear of social isolationmakes it more appealing to change behaviors than to seek other friends.

Attitudes toward conformity are of particular interest in community health, where conformity may influence the willingness of people to engage in activities such as illicit drug use or high-risk sexual activities, or prompt them toavoid drug rehabilitation programs.

The tendency to conform to a group’s values is of interest to outreach workers because social networks may provide a link to reaching and influencing thebehavior of a wide range of people involved in drug abuse and high-risk sexual activity. If key members of a group accept messages about how to change behavior to reduce risky activities such as needle sharing, drinking and driving, and unsafe sexual behavior, other group members often follow their lead andchange their behavior also.

Although society tends to focus on teenagers’ needs to conform and follow fads, and many parents worry about how the desire to conform will influence thedecisions their children must make, issues surrounding conformity continue into adult life. They may be as trivial as choosing the proper clothes to wearto the office so as not to stand out or as serious as choosing whether to have one’s children vaccinated against diseases. Finding a rational balance between belonging and being an individual is a challenge for everyone. Many people who feel as if this area of their lives is out of balance benefit from seeking professional counseling to help them find a level of conformity that is more comfortable for them.

 

 

~What Fashions “Your” Beliefs and Thinking?

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In an attempt to improve ourselves and our calling to perform ministry May & I have embarked upon volunteering three days a week at a local church/substance abuse center. We are also performing phase 2 of peer-counseling to enhance our adapting skills to the mission we have been called to perform in our community. Association with many groups has opened our eyes to Social Psychology and how it is used to fashion and shape peoples behavior.

We have ceased to think theologically about the ministry. Instead, we characterize it almost exclusively in functional or institutional terms. There are at least two reasons for this shift in emphasis. On the one hand there are the new developments in clinical psychology and counseling procedures, and on the other the requests of parishioners, the denominational programs, and the culture of the local community.

 

How is it that so many people started saying “Awesome!”, or started wearing Uggs?

These are examples of how individuals’ behavior is shaped by what people around them consider appropriate, correct or desirable. Researchers are investigating how human behavioral norms are established in groups and how they evolve over time, in hopes of learning how to exert more influence when it comes to promoting health, marketing products or reducing prejudice.

Psychologists are studying how social norms, the often-unspoken rules of a group, shape not just our behavior but also our attitudes. Social norms influence even those preferences considered private, such as what music we like or what policies we support or even what beliefs we entertain as it relates to denominational choices of churchs. Interventions that take advantage of already-existing group pressures, the thinking goes, should be able to shift attitudes and change behaviors at less cost in effort and resources.

Norms serve a basic human social function, helping us distinguish who is in the group and who is an outsider. Behaving in ways the group considers appropriate is a way of demonstrating to others, and to oneself, that one belongs to the group.

But surprisingly little is known about how attitudinal norms are established in groups. Why do some people in a group become trendsetters when it comes to ideas and objects?

“The questions are among the most challenging” in the field, said H. Peyton Young, a professor at the University of Oxford in the U.K. and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Dr. Young studies how norms influence economic behavior. “It’s definitely a big open research area where there’s a certain amount of dispute.”

One question is whether there is always a leader that sets or changes the norm, or whether norm change occurs organically over time, even in the absence of a strong leader.

What is Christian Counseling?

What is Christian Counseling?

Christian counseling focuses on intertwining the disciplines of faith and psychology to provide an approach to mental and emotional health that pulls from biblical teachings. Practitioners of this style of counseling incorporate religious scripture and teachings to guide you through challenging life issues. When facing turbulent life events, incorporating and strengthening your faith may be the missing piece in finding proper treatment.

Origins of Christian Counseling

Rooted deep within biblical accounts, this form of therapy places an emphasis on fundamental values and beliefs that comprise the framework of modern Christianity. Ministers, Reverends, and other religious figures must seek licensed training and accreditation to provide this service to you, much like a secular clinician. In 1968, Christian counselors officially formed the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation to provide a model for current and future counselors. These counselors are bound not only to religious code, but secular standards of ethical practice as well.

Social psychology is “the study of the ways in which the imagined, implied or actual presence of others affects our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. As an African American growing up in Washington D.C. (at the time one of most diverse cities in America), My first brush with social psychology was on my neighborhood streets. “On my block alone, there were nine different nationalities represented. “I was used to growing up with all sorts of different kids, dealing with cultural conflicts, celebrating everyone’s different holidays and special occasions—that was the norm for me.”

When I was in third grade, My mom took us to a  multiethnic church comprising four equally proportioned groups: African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and whites. There, I listened to songs and prayers in languages far beyond English. We also had racial slurs hurled at us in a local church’s Vacation Bible School. These and other experiences piqued my interest early on about fundamental questions of social psychology, such as, “Why don’t groups get along?” and “Why do they perceive each other inaccurately?”

Much has been written about various aspects of pastoral theology, but there is a remarkable scarcity of literature that explores the theological issues that lie behind it. The doyen of modern pastoral methods, Seward Hiltner, has said:

Most American ministers—scholars though they may be—are functionalists at heart… . We think and feel or work our way into even the most recondite of theoretical matters only by first exploring them in relation to our functions of ministry.

Much of modern pastoral psychology is an abandonment to this American pragmatism. It is an aping of American scholarship as it demonstrates its pragmatic motivation. There seems to be a disdain for a careful study of the biblical view of the ministry.

Such is the minister’s dilemma. He is faced on the one hand with the traditional biblical definitions (though often poorly developed and frequently caricatured) and on the other with the set of functional expectations by which his service is judged. In addition he is strongly influenced by the attractiveness of new developments in clinical psychology and counseling procedures. Therefore he faces basic ambiguities in performing his task.

The minister serving in today’s secular culture is also confronted with an eroded image of the pastor. He is no longer the most educated man in the community or the one who elicits the mental image of a paragon of virtue. One is more likely to think about Elmer Gantry(Elmer Gantry is a novel written by Sinclair Lewis in 1926 that satirically represents aspects of the religious activity of America within fundamentalist and evangelistic circles and the attitudes of the 1920s public toward it) or to recognize that a recent Gallup poll showed that only eight percent of the population recommended the role of the clergyman as the preferred profession, far behind the doctor, engineer-builder.

Today , May and I are diligently looking for the reconciling benefits of social psychology, working with groups to raise our awareness of their social mis-perceptions and bringing conflicting groups together to find ways to collaborate. We are reading( Disunity in Christ) Christena Cleveland, a social psychologist, is helping churches and faith-based groups transcend deep-seated divisions. it explores how social psychology reveals fragmentation in the body of Christ. Filled with many personal stories, the book highlights, among other things, how differences become divisions, and how the prevailing marketing culture feeds unhealthy competition between groups.

“The cognitive processes that drive categorization are most powerful when they are hidden from sight we have found this to be true within various church communities we frequent. “Once individuals become consciously aware of these processes . . . the processes begin to lose their power.” May and I had the opportunity to witness another facet of cognitive processes helping groups to recognize those assumptions. It was practiced  while working with a Young Life group in a, low-income, mostly African American neighborhood in Riverside Ca., after noticing the divisive ways that the group (8 to 10 African American girls) talked about Somali girls at their school. The facilitator began asking the girls questions that helped them see their assumptions. “When you give people the opportunity to see how others misperceive them, “it makes them more interested in seeing how they misperceive others.”

More Than ‘Unity Events’

As May and I launched our campaign to perform outreach we scheduled several meetings to obtain buy in from various denominations. The joint venture began well, we had gained support to utilize one pastors 501c3 to obtain the needed resources and another pastor support to allow us the use of his church to process the recipients.  “The joint venture began well but soon ended quite poorly, leaving behind a trail of distrust, negative emotions, and bruised egos.”

We shifted our focus of  work with the pastors to explore what happened:

After hearing each pastor’s side of the story, it became clear to me that . . . each pastor had very different ideals about what a leader does and does not do, and each pastor projected his ideals onto the other pastor and negatively evaluated him based on criteria that pertained to those ideals. Essentially, each pastor gave the other a failing grade on leadership because they had very different criteria for evaluating leadership.

By working with us, the pastors uncovered their differing concepts of leadership and how that had led to misunderstanding and failed collaboration.

reconciliation books to read 2014

These are the ten books we plan to read along with an intense daily devotional for 2015.

Cleveland’s work awakens us to the language we use, particularly the ways in which we draw boundaries between us and them. “We must take active steps to expand our category of us, “so that they are now included in us. We’ve learned that the mere act of categorizing Christian groups into smaller, homogeneous groups leads us to devalue, misperceive, and distance ourselves from them.”

Once a divide goes up between groups,  they tend to exaggerate each other’s differences—and cause further division in the body of Christ. Churches, “tend to rely most on our smaller, cultural identities and ignore our larger, common identity as members of the body of Christ. . . . Christianity has been turned into a marketplace in which you can make money off your brand.” Pastors and churches are pressured to distinguish themselves from others, as we compete for the loyalty of members and seemingly scarce resources. We need a theology, deeply rooted in our essential unity in Christ that acts and speaks accordingly, seeking commonality and emphasizing shared characteristics between groups.

Instead of deepening the chasms between groups, we need sustained conversation. I would like to go one  one step further, noting that one-time cross-cultural unity events are “not the way to go.” Although well-intentioned,  such events tend to squeeze minority groups into the majority culture. Rather, healing and witness to unity in Christ comes from the long, messy work of naming issues of power and privilege. What we need are “long-term, ongoing partnerships that are proximal and mutually engaging.”

Alongside sustained conversations, we need ministries on which our groups can collaborate. I recall how many churches in Washington D.C. ran VBS programs with the exact same curriculum at different times. “It’s our empire approach to doing church,”  that fuels such redundant behavior. I also maintain that it’s better for a church to pick a single church of a differing social group (race, ethnicity, or even political inclination) and to deeply partner with that church rather than to host sporadic events with many churches. My experience has shown that churches who immerse themselves in this kind of cross-cultural partnerships never regret it. “Yes, it’s hard,”  “but it’s so much richer.”

The call to follow Jesus, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminded us, is a costly one. The way of Christ is undoubtedly difficult as we lose ourselves, but as we follow in it, we find the abundant shared riches of God’s kingdom. Cleveland’s work rouses us from the patterns of speech and action that we mindlessly fall into within the confines of a homogenous social group. It points us toward healing: the healing of the church, the healing of our neighborhoods, and ultimately the healing of our own fragmented souls. May we have the courage to follow her lead.

~My More In Life Is Found Only In Jesus~

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Romans 5:1-11New International Version (NIV)

Peace and Hope

My cable company sent a postcard inviting me to check out its latest improvements in TV channels. The card indicated that I needed to contact the company to get the necessary new digital equipment and explained how to hook it up and activate it. After that, the ad said I was just to “sit back and enjoy the World of More.”

The card made me think of the “World of More” that Christians are privileged to live in. When God transports people from the darkness of sin “into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9), a whole new life opens up.

Romans 5 tells us some of the more that we have in Christ: We have been “reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (v.10) and therefore have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.1). We have access to God and His grace (v.2). Rejoicing in trouble is now possible because we understand that it’s an opportunity to grow in our character through trusting Him (vv.3-4). Additionally, the Holy Spirit, who has been given to live in us, pours the love of God into our hearts (v.5). And sin no longer has the same hold on us (6:18).

As Christians, we have unlimited access to a real “World of More.” Wouldn’t it be selfish not to invite others to join us in that special world?

The world seeks fulfillment in The pleasures they adore; But those who follow Jesus Christ Are given so much more.
Belonging to God brings boundless blessings.

 

~I’ve Seen Him Work In My Life~

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While serving my country in a hostile land I saw God answer my prayers. Held against my will after being in pursuit of the ”mad dog of the Middle East” in 1987, Muammar el-Qaddafi and his family I prayed for a blessing to make it home. I saw God work while serving several prison terms on level four yards and being the focus of antagonism due to the color of my skin, I’ve seen God work in my life when death was not just a scene, but a smell, I’ve seen God heal and work when I lost my kids and I wanted to give up on Him.

 

As I have reflected over the events of the past few days and months and years of my life I was drawn to the first chapter of James. In the first 13 verses we are given some understanding of the purpose of trials that come our way.

No one has suffered more than our Father in heaven. No one has paid more dearly for the allowance of sin into the world. No one has so continuously grieved over the pain of a race gone bad. No one has suffered like the One who paid for our sin in the crucified body of His own Son. No one has suffered more than the One who, when He stretched out His arms and died, showed us how much He loved us. It is this God who, in drawing us to Himself, asks us to trust Him when we are suffering and when our own loved ones cry out in our presence ( 1 Peter 2:21;  3:18;  4:1 ).

The apostle Paul pleaded with the Lord to take away an unidentified source of suffering. But the Lord declined saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” “Therefore,” said Paul, “most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong”  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Paul learned that he would rather be with Christ in suffering than without Christ in good health and pleasant circumstances.

Natural disasters. Terrorist acts. Injustice. Incurable disease. All these experiences point to suffering, and can cause people to question the love and goodness of a God who would let such things occur. In this publication, we seek to consider who God is, and why we can trust Him even when life hurts—and we don’t know why.

Loving parents long to protect their children from unnecessary pain. But wise parents know the danger of over-protection. They know that the freedom to choose is at the heart of what it means to be human, and that a world without choice would be worse than a world without pain. Worse yet would be a world populated by people who could make wrong choices without feeling any pain. No one is more dangerous than the liar, thief, or killer who doesn’t feel the harm he is doing to himself and to others (Genesis 2:15-17).

We hate pain, especially in those we love. Yet without discomfort, the sick wouldn’t go to a doctor. Worn-out bodies would get no rest. Criminals wouldn’t fear the law. Children would laugh at correction. Without pangs of conscience, the daily dissatisfaction of boredom, or the empty longing for significance, people who are made to find satisfaction in an eternal Father would settle for far less. The example of Solomon, lured by pleasure and taught by his pain, shows us that even the wisest among us tend to drift from good and from God until arrested by the resulting pain of their own shortsighted choices (Ecclesiastes 1-12Psalms 78:34-35Romans 3:10-18).

Suffering often occurs at the hand of others. But it has a way of revealing what is in our own hearts. Capacities for love, mercy, anger, envy, and pride can lie dormant until awakened by circumstances. Strength and weakness of heart is found not when everything is going our way but when flames of suffering and temptation test the mettle of our character. As gold and silver are refined by fire, and as coal needs time and pressure to become a diamond, the human heart is revealed and developed by enduring the pressure and heat of time and circumstance. Strength of character is shown not when all is well with our world but in the presence of human pain and suffering (Job 42:1-17Romans 5:3-5James 1:2-51 Peter 1:6-8).

If death is the end of everything, then a life filled with suffering isn’t fair. But if the end of this life brings us to the threshold of eternity, then the most fortunate people in the universe are those who discover, through suffering, that this life is not all we have to live for. Those who find themselves and their eternal God through suffering have not wasted their pain. They have let their poverty, grief, and hunger drive them to the Lord of eternity. They are the ones who will discover to their own unending joy why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:1-12; Romans 8:18-19).

~Let’s Fight The Policies and Change Our Culture on Drugs and Humanity~

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BESIDES choosing lawmakers, on November 4th voters in three American states and the District of Columbia considered measures to liberalise the cannabis trade. Alaska and Oregon, where it is legal to provide “medical marijuana” to registered patients, voted to go further and let the drug be sold and taken for recreational purposes, as Colorado and Washington state already allow. In DC, a measure to legalise the possession of small amounts for personal use was passed. A majority of voters in Florida opted to join the lengthening list of places where people can seek a doctor’s note that lets them take the drug. However, the measure fell just short of the 60% needed to change the state constitution. Even so, that such a big state in the conservative South came so close to liberalising shows how America’s attitude to criminalising pot has changed.

All that imprisoning millions of people for nonviolent drug offenses has done is bankrupt us financially and morally, turning people with debilitating addictions into people with debilitating convictions.
The United States imprisons more people than any other nation in the world, largely due to misguided drug laws and mandatory sentencing requirements. Since the 1970s, drug war practices have led to the conviction and marginalization of millions of Americans – disproportionately poor people and people of color – while failing utterly to reduce problematic drug use, drug-related disease transmission or overdose deaths. The Drug Policy Alliance is committed to identifying and promoting health-centered alternatives to harmful, punitive drug laws. We are working to stem the tide of low-level drug arrests, to reverse draconian sentencing practices that cultivate discrimination, and to eliminate life-long barriers faced by people with even a minor drug conviction.
If we want to solve our nation’s drug problems, we need to focus less on obtaining convictions and more on preventing addictions. We should be treating people with addictions, not handcuffing them.
The United States is home to less than 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly 25 percent of its prisoners, in part because of the overly harsh consequences of a drug conviction. Many of the 2.3 million people behind bars (and 5 million under criminal justice supervision) in this country are being punished for a drug offense. If every American who has ever possessed illicit drugs were punished for it, nearly half of the U.S. population would have drug violations on their records.
Over 1.6 million people are arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated, placed under criminal justice supervision and/or deported each year for a drug law violation. Yet instead of reducing problematic drug use, drug-related disease transmission or overdose deaths, the drug war has actually done more harm than problematic drug use itself, by breaking up families, putting millions of people behind bars, burdening even more people with a life-long criminal record, worsening the health prospects for people who use drugs and significantly compromising public health.
The consequences of any drug conviction are life-long and severe, and are not experienced equally. Despite comparable drug use and selling rates across racial groups, African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately punished for drug law violations. Drug violations are an easy solution for police officers pressed for high arrest quotas, resulting in thousands of wrongful arrests that overwhelmingly victimize communities of color.
The Drug Policy Alliance is focused on reducing the number of people swept into the criminal justice system (or deported) for drug law violations, while promoting policies that improve individual and public health. We are guided by the principle that no one should be punished for what they put in their own body, absent harm to others.
Exposing and combating the racism of the drug war is an important part of DPA’s agenda. We work with civil rights and social justice organizations, formerly incarcerated people and other allies to end discriminatory policies and practices that unjustly target and penalize people of color and to advance an equitable health-centered approach to drugs.

The drug war has produced profoundly unequal outcomes across racial groups, manifested through racial discrimination by law enforcement and disproportionate drug war misery suffered by communities of color. Although rates of drug use and selling are comparable across racial lines, people of color are far more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated for drug law violations than are whites. Higher arrest and incarceration rates for African Americans and Latinos are not reflective of increased prevalence of drug use or sales in these communities, but rather of a law enforcement focus on urban areas, on lower-income communities and on communities of color as well as inequitable treatment by the criminal justice system. We believe that the mass criminalization of people of color, particularly young African American men, is as profound a system of racial control as the Jim Crow laws were in this country until the mid-1960s.

The Drug Policy Alliance is committed to exposing disproportionate arrest rates and the systems that perpetuate them. We work to eliminate policies that result in disproportionate incarceration rates by rolling back harsh mandatory minimum sentences that unfairly affect urban populations and by repealing sentencing disparities. Crack cocaine sentencing presents a particularly egregious case. Since the 1980s, federal penalties for crack were 100 times harsher than those for powder cocaine, with African Americans disproportionately sentenced to much lengthier terms. But, in 2010, DPA played a key role in reducing the crack/powder sentencing disparity from 100:1 to 18:1, and we are committed to passing legislation that would eliminate the disparity entirely.

The life-long penalties and exclusions that follow a drug conviction have created a permanent second-class status for millions of Americans, who may be prohibited from voting, being licensed, accessing public assistance and any number of other activities and opportunities. The drug war’s racist enforcement means that all of these exclusions fall more heavily on people and communities of color. DPA is committed to ending these highly discriminatory policies and to combating the stigma attached to drug use and drug convictions.

Two-thirds of women doing time in federal prison are behind bars for nonviolent drug offenses, and the vast majority of them have children they can’t even see.  That’s not family values.
The perceived targets of drug law enforcement are men, but many of its victims are women. Women, and particularly women of color, are disproportionately affected by social stigma, by laws that punish  those unable or unwilling to inform on others, by regulations that bar people with a drug conviction from obtaining (or that require a drug test to receive) public assistance, and by a drug treatment system designed for men.
Largely as a result of draconian drug laws, women are now a fast growing segment of the U.S. prison population.  More than three quarters of women behind bars are mothers, many of them sole caregivers.
Conspiracy offenses represent one of the most egregious examples of the drug war’s inequitable treatment of women. Although conspiracy laws were designed to target members of illicit drug organizations, they have swept up many women for being guilty of nothing more than living with a husband or boyfriend involved in some level of drug sales. Harsh mandatory minimum sentencing may keep them behind bars for 20 years, 30 years, or even life.
The drug war punishes women, particularly mothers, not just for drug law violations but also, it appears, for failing to be “good” women. This translates into a system whereby women who are responsible for childrearing are too readily separated from their children, temporarily or permanently. Even women who do not use drugs may be punished, for example, by welfare regulations that require recipients to submit to invasive and embarrassing monitored drug testing in order to obtain public assistance.
Removing a parent (perhaps the only parent) from the household is immediately destabilizing, and over the long-term it’s devastating. Parents, once released from prison, may be barred from public assistance and housing and face significantly diminished employment opportunities. Children with a parent in prison are several times more likely than other children to end up in foster care, to drop out of school and to become involved in the criminal justice system.
Pregnant women are uniquely vulnerable to criminal justice involvement. Prosecutors across the country have targeted pregnant women accused of drug use, supposedly in the interest of protecting their fetuses. The criminalization of pregnant women is not only an affront to women’s rights; it puts both mother and fetus at greater risk by erecting barriers to drug treatment and prenatal care.
The Drug Policy Alliance is committed to safeguarding a woman’s right to sovereignty over her own body, and we have been involved in several legal challenges in cases in which women were charged with child abuse, assault, homicide or other offenses because they allegedly used drugs while pregnant. We are also working to increase opportunities for families to remain together while parents (or children) address problematic drug use and to reform draconian conspiracy laws that result in harsh prison sentences for women.
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~His Work Is Continuous In Us: He’s A Good Parent~

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Lately, there has been a passage of scripture that has been echoing in my mind.  I can’t think of any reason at all for this except to say that perhaps God is wanting me to focus on it.  The passage of scripture is Phil. 1:1-6 which says, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (KJV).  I am drawn to the final verse; and as I think about it, I am encouraged.

We need the confidence of knowing that the Lord is working in us, that He has not left us alone, and that He is very concerned about us.  Sometimes we experience that stale and dry season where we seem to have reached a stone wall in our spiritual development.  Of course, this could be true for many due to sin or rebellion of some sort.  But, for those who simply seek God and desire to experience Him more and more and yet find themselves wondering and waiting, this verse is for you.  It has three main parts:

First, the work that was begun in you was regeneration.  When you trusted in Christ and were born again, you were changed.  This is the beginning of the work of God in your hearts.  God saves us as we are, but He does not leave us as we are.  He changes us.  Initially, when we are saved, we are justified; that is, we are declared righteous in God’s eyes.  That is the easy part because it is all done by the Lord.  The hard part is the changing part.  It is called sanctification and is the process God puts us through to conform us more and more into the image of His Son, Jesus.  It is this second part, this sanctification, that is hidden in the phrase of Phil. 1:6 where it says, ” . . . will perform it . . . ” In other words, the Lord is “performing” (KJV), “perfecting” (NASB) us.  This perfecting will proceed until ” . . . the day of Jesus Christ.”  This is a reference to the return of Christ.  By design, the Bible leaves us with the impression that the return of Jesus can be accomplished at any time.  This work will continue in all Christians in all places and in all times until the return of Jesus.  Once He has been revealed, we will all be with Him (1 Thess. 4:16-5:2); and we will no longer as a whole church or as individuals need to be perfected since the full manifestation of our salvation has been realized in the resurrection and/or change of our bodies to the incorruptible state.

So, Phil. 1:6 carries with it the past, present, and future work of God in us and for us because of what Jesus has done on the cross.  Remember, it is because of Jesus and only because of Jesus that the Lord will and is working in us.  If you are having problems of some sort, doubting your salvation, unsure about your growth, let the Lord speak to your heart by spending time in prayer and reading His word.  He uses these things to “perfect” the work that He has begun in you.  Remember that the Lord will never forsake you or leave you.  He cannot be unfaithful, and His love for you cannot fail.  To the Lord be the glory.

~Pray For Us: Re-Entry Candidates~

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p2sTM

Prisoner Reentry

As California Releases Prisoners, It Must Confront the Public Health Consequences

The confluence of three events has dramatically broadened the public health implications of prisoner reentry into California communities. First, the state is in the midst of a deep and persistent recession, which has severely strained the resources available for the health care safety net upon which ex-prisoners rely. Second, the state is implementing its 2011 public safety realignment plan, which shifts responsibility for low-level offenders from the state to counties; this will aid the state’s efforts to abide by a U.S. Supreme Court order to reduce the prison population. Third, federal health care reform will expand Medicaid eligibility and coverage for some important services, removing a key access-to-care barrier for the prisoner reentry population.

These events argue for assessing the health needs of California’s reentry population, the related public health challenges, and the policy options for improving access to safety net services. In a study sponsored by The California Endowment, a research team at RAND conducted such an assessment and concluded the following:

  • The health care needs of California prisoners are high, but their mental health and drug treatment needs are even higher.
  • Certain California counties and communities are particularly affected by reentry.
  • Ex-prisoners’ access to California’s health care safety net varies across counties, within counties, and by race and ethnicity.
  • Public safety realignment and federal health care reform present challenges and opportunities for improving access to services for this population, all requiring the state and counties to coordinate their efforts.

Parolees Are Concentrated in 11 Counties, Mostly in the South

Numerous Unmet Needs Reported

With respect to physical health conditions, California state prisoners reported a high burden of chronic diseases, such as asthma and hypertension, and infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and tuberculosis. Ex-prisoners face a number of barriers to accessing health care, including lack of health insurance. As a result, ex-prisoners returning to communities will largely have to rely on counties’ health care safety nets for the uninsured to meet their health needs.

Self-reported mental health and drug treatment needs are especially high. More than half of California inmates reported a recent mental health problem, but only about half of those reported having received treatment in prison. Nearly 60 percent of California inmates reported having a drug abuse or dependence problem. Given the high prevalence of these reported conditions, the need for county mental health services may be particularly high.

When we interviewed health care providers who deal with the reentry population, their observations confirmed that this population has substantial mental health and drug treatment needs and other health problems — needs exacerbated by neglect or reduced access to care. Providers also noted a range of social services needs — such as transportation, employment, housing, and family reunification — that make treating ex-prisoners for such health conditions even more resource-intensive. For example, if an individual has a wound that requires periodic cleaning and dressing, would there be a hygienic place to do it?

Inadequate discharge planning for prisoners can be another major barrier to continuity of care. Upon release, many ex-prisoners lack medical records to give health care providers; thus, providers have little information about their medical history. For individuals with infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, providers felt it was critical to know what kind of care and education a patient had received while incarcerated. Ex-prisoners without health insurance have limited treatment options. Difficulties navigating the health care and social services systems complicate referrals. Discharge planning needs to take such factors into account.

Budget cuts present further barriers to care. Providers report that they have had to eliminate or curtail HIV, dental, mental health, or alcohol and drug treatment programs. Because of state-level cuts in funding for community-based treatment programs, one provider we interviewed had to close a sober living facility.

Parolees Are Concentrated in 11 Counties, Mostly in the South

SOURCE: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation parolee data, 2005–2006.

Ex-Prisoners Concentrated Primarily in 11 Counties

To understand where ex-prisoners go upon release and which counties and communities are especially affected by reentry, we used parolee data to examine their geographic distribution following release, illustrated here in the map of California. The map shows that certain counties are particularly affected by reentry. Tiny dots represent each of the nearly 140,000 parolees released in 2005 and 2006, with major clusters shown as yellow ellipses. Darker shades of blue indicate counties with higher numbers of returnees per 1,000 residents; lighter shades indicate lower numbers of returnees. As shown, parolees tend to cluster in certain communities and neighborhoods, with implications for targeting resources.

Eleven counties, concentrated around the Bay Area and in the southern part of the state, had the highest rates of return. By far the highest rates were in Southern California, especially Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. Also, African-American and Latino parolees tended to return to disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities, defined by high poverty rates, high unemployment rates, and low educational attainment.

We focused on four counties — Alameda, Kern, Los Angeles, and San Diego — that received a third of the state’s total parolees. In Alameda County, almost 45 percent of the returning population was concentrated in five clusters, primarily around Oakland and the northern section of the county. Four clusters within Kern County accounted for almost 58 percent of its parolees, while in San Diego County there were eight clusters accounting for nearly half the parolee population, with the largest in downtown and Southeast San Diego. Unlike the other counties, Los Angeles County had 23 clusters covering a large geographic area but accounting for only 35 percent of the total number of returnees.

Unequal Access to Care

We also wanted to know where ex-prisoners were located relative to communities’ health care safety nets: the hospitals, clinics, and mental health and substance abuse treatment providers that would serve the reentry population. So we overlaid such facilities on our county-level maps and found that the capacity of the health care safety net varies within counties. Many ex-prisoners in the three large urban counties — Alameda, Los Angeles, and San Diego — returned to areas with lower levels of accessibility to safety net facilities than found elsewhere in those counties.

In Los Angeles County, for example, some county supervisorial districts with high concentrations of ex-prisoners tended to have fewer hospital and primary care clinics than did other districts. In District 2, which covers South Los Angeles and has a relatively high concentration of ex-prisoners, there are relatively few clinics. And there is only one hospital affiliated with the Medically Indigent Services Program, which is the county-provided program of last resort for those who are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California), or private health insurance and who meet socioeconomic eligibility standards.

To understand how much access ex-prisoners had to these facilities, we created accessibility measures for each facility based on its capacity, demand, and travel distance. In Los Angeles County, more than half of parolees (53 percent) returned to areas with lower levels of accessibility to hospitals. More African-American parolees (60 percent) lived in areas with lower accessibility than did Latino or white parolees (51 percent and 47 percent, respectively). Alameda County had a similar pattern, but in Kern and San Diego counties, more Latino parolees lived in areas with lower accessibility to hospitals than did white and African-American parolees.

Realignment and Reform

California’s public safety realignment plan and the U.S. federal health care reform represent important opportunities to improve services to the reentry population, and the stakeholders involved in preparing for both policy measures overlap. For realignment, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation must coordinate with counties to shift responsibility for low-level offenders; for health care reform, California’s Department of Health Care Services must coordinate with counties to prepare for full implementation and for expanding Medicaid.

Both policy measures present opportunities and challenges for addressing ex-prisoners’ health care and reentry needs. As an opportunity, realignment focuses attention on the need to improve pre release planning for the transition of care from correctional health to safety net providers. As a challenge, realignment dramatically changes how low-level offenders will obtain health care and social services, shifting attention from state parole to county-level supervision.

As an opportunity, health care reform opens up the possibility for many ex-prisoners and others in the criminal justice system to become eligible for Medicaid and to have drug treatment services, prevention services, and wellness programs covered more fully. As a challenge, expanding Medicaid eligibility could lead to increased demand for health care safety net services that are already stretched thin.

There are many steps the state and counties can take. They can develop better estimates of the percentage of the Medicaid expansion population that the reentry population represents. Because the Medicaid expansion population is expected to include individuals with multiple comorbidities and a high demand for mental health care and alcohol and drug treatment, investing in “health homes” (teams of providers) and other integrated case management systems for this population will be an important way to manage their complex care needs.
8k7la86586Expanding pre release planning to more fully include those with chronic medical, mental health, and substance abuse problems makes sense, as does having the state assess options, such as electronic medical records, for easing the transition of care to community health care systems. Also important will be developing strategies to enroll the reentry population in Medicaid or reinstate their Medicaid benefits and to improve the needed expertise and capacity of treatment providers, especially in localities with higher numbers of ex-prisoners, so providers can better meet the expected increase in demand for services.

Both public safety realignment and federal health reform come with funding streams. Some of this money could leverage existing investments in planning for health care reform for the reentry population. For example, some funds could be used to develop “health homes” or other case management systems. Investing in treatment for this population now may help offset criminal justice costs later on, and expanding access to primary care and integrated care may help avoid more expensive and intensive care down the road.

 

~Our Dream; The Worlds Benefit- Eclectic Leadership at Second Chance Alliance~

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If it is not in the interest of the public it is not in the interest of business.

When you start a small business, you are instantly the leader, whether you have had any training in leadership or not. However, there is help. Leadership theories abound, and you can choose the approach, or combination of approaches, that will suit your personal style and your business needs. Being eclectic in choosing what parts of theories to use does not mean improvising. It means studying various theories and combining them into a thoughtful approach.

Trait Theories

Early leadership theories focused on the traits leaders need. These include physical and mental stamina, action-oriented judgment, need for achievement, ability to motivate people and adaptability. You can use a trait approach to determine your starting place. Find what leadership traits you already possess, and focus on ones you want to acquire. This can give you a foundation for leading your workforce while exploring other aspects of leadership you may want to incorporate.

Behavioral Theories

Some leadership theories focus not on traits of leaders, but behaviors they engage in. Under this approach, you will find that emphasizing working toward concrete objectives makes for a strong leader. In addition, showing concern for people, having the ability to issue directives and involving others in decision making help a leader excel. The advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to concern yourself with whether you have specific traits; you only have to learn behaviors that make good leaders. You can use this approach of acquiring behaviors to expand upon your skills as a leader.

Contingency Theories

Contingency theories state that leadership emerges under certain conditions. For example, if followers respect the leader, the goals are clear and the organization has conferred power on the leader, that leader is more likely to be affective. This approach allows you to look at the structure of your company and the culture you encourage among employees. You can establish your authority by demonstrating that you have power as the owner, have set achievable goals and have earned the respect of your workforce based on your treatment of employees and the quality of your decisions. The focus here is on the work environment.

Transformational Theories

Many recent theories encourage leaders to make employees better people, appeal to their higher natures and inspire them to achieve more than they thought they could. This leadership approach tends toward inspiration and positive reinforcement of strong character traits in others. To be this kind of leader, you must emphasize values and encourage others to embrace those values.

Methods for Combining Theories

To use an eclectic approach to leadership theory, you should choose elements from all four approaches and join them together as a cohesive whole. For example, you can begin by finding a trait in yourself, such as mental stamina; combine it with a behavior you embrace, such as working toward concrete objectives; add an emphasis on your authority as company founder; and demonstrate your strong values around a work ethic. This technique of choosing one element from among each of the four approaches gives you a single approach in the end

Great leaders make their teams feel safe.  Nowhere is this more critical than with ambitious growth and innovation initiatives, where a key to team success is comfort with ambiguity.

“In the military they give medals to people who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may gain. In business, we give bonuses to people who are willing to sacrifice others so that they may gain.”

Every great growth story is framed by a movement.  This brief, entertaining talk shares how they are started.

“It’s important to focus on not just the leader, but the followers, because you will find that new followers emulate the followers, not the leader.”

Is your company killing creativity?  The points Ken makes apply equally as well to the board room as they do to the class room.

“What we do know is this; if you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original. We run our companies like this. We stigmatize mistakes.”

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Second Chance Alliance a resilient, innovative, pro-social  creative and thriving community for all organization. We inspire, lead and unite an eclectic community of faith, professionals and including disenfranchised individuals, nonprofits, business, and government to overcome barriers to economic opportunities and ensure Hemet, Riverside and Moreno Valley communities continues to thrive. Our history is being made all the while we develop and gain exposure in the eyes of our targeted communities and cities and professionals associated with human empowerment and political legislators.  Second Chance Alliance will be launching The Volunteer Project Leader program, it is a national training initiative that aims to transform casual volunteers into active community leaders by equipping them with the leadership skills and tools they need to make meaningful and lasting change in their communities.

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~#HealSTL,#ISIS, #HealAmerica, #StopRacism,Paul Ran His Race During Difficulty~

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Taking my rest in the Lord today is paramount because I am angry about the injustice we as Americans of all races are suffering. I served this devil for 14 years, I became a prisoner of war and can’t get veteran benefits. I sit and seize in anger in my flesh but my spirit constrains the HATE my flesh feels for this conundrum of politics and injustice I wish I had an army to combat. An army of believers that have gotten tired of fighting among-est themselves. An army that really walks and is willing to draw the line in the sand of racism, hatred and injustice. We as a nation of suppose to be free bodied individuals won’t assume our rightful positions in the struggle together crossing all color and ethnic background.

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Darren Wilson people massed together to move in his behalf in a monetary and solidarity fashion. The church and our communities are not massing together in prayer or to support visions of God or His righteousness. Our government has been moving toward it’s plans for years. In yet another astonishingly treasonous act the U.S. administration has eliminated yet another key check to control out of control government, the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act.  The Posse Comitatus Act abolished the use of the U.S. military against our own citizens and eliminated the ability of the U.S. government to eliminate the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights by declaring Martial Law. ISIS The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) used to have a different name: al Qaeda in Iraq. Has massed to kill steal and destroy fueled by hate, but together.

In early 2006 Congress passed bill H.R.5122 granting the President the right to commandeer Federal and State National Guard Troops for use against citizens.  The bill is entitled the John Warner Defense Appropriation Act for Fiscal Year 2007 .

Section 1076 of H.R. 5122.ENR allows the President to:

“…employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service,torestore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States…, where the President determines that,…domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order; suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy…”

This act attempts to nullify the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C. 331-335) and gives the President the legal ability to declare Martial Law under any condition he so chooses. This very equipment was aimed at innocent babies of all colors on American soil. I used this very equipment in nine campaigns serving this country only to see more injustice like it being used on my own people. I am hurting tonight and struggling with PEACE…

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And the rest, some on boards, some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass that they escaped all safe to land (Acts 27:44). 

The marvelous story of Paul’s voyage to Rome, with its trials and triumphs, is a fine pattern of the lights and shades of the way of faith all through the story of human life. The remarkable feature of it is the hard and narrow places which we find intermingled with God’s most extraordinary interpositions and providences.

It is the common idea that the pathway of faith is strewn with flowers, and that when God interposes in the life of His people, He does it on a scale so grand that He lifts us quite out of the plane of difficulties. The actual fact, however, is that the real experience is quite contrary. The story of the Bible is one of alternate trial and triumph in the case of everyone of the cloud of witnesses from Abel down to the latest martyr.

Paul, more than anyone else, was an example of how much a child of God can suffer without being crushed or broken in spirit. On account of his testifying in Damascus, he was hunted down by persecutors and obliged to fly for his life. but we behold no heavenly chariot transporting the holy apostle amid thunderbolts of flame from the reach of his foes, but “through a window in a basket,” was he let down over the walls of Damascus and so escaped their hands. In an old clothes basket, like a bundle of laundry, or groceries, the servant of Jesus Christ was dropped from the window and ignominiously fled from the hate of his foes.

Again we find him left for months in the lonely dungeons; we find him telling of his watchings, his fastings, and his desertion by friends, of his brutal and shameful beatings, and here even after God has promised to deliver him, we see him for days left to toss upon a stormy sea, obliged to stand guard over the treacherous seaman, and at last when the deliverance comes, there is no heavenly galley sailing from the skies to take off the noble prisoner; there is no angel form walking along the waters and stilling the raging breakers; there is no supernatural sign of the transcendent miracle that is being wrought; but one is compelled to seize a spar, another a floating plank, another to climb on a fragment of the wreck, another to strike out and swim for his life.

Here is God’s pattern for our own lives. Here is a Gospel of help for people that have to live in this every day world with real and ordinary surroundings, and a thousand practical conditions which have to be met in a thoroughly practical way.

God’s promises and God’s providences do not lift us out of the plane of common sense and commonplace trial, but it is through these very things that faith is perfected, and that God loves to interweave the golden threads of His love along the warp and woof of our every day experience.

I am praying that I will stand until the end as Paul, because I am very angry at this SIN in this world and the corruption within our political and justice system. Please pray for us all and especially me. If you look at this spiritual forecast and CAN STILL HAVE FUN AND GO ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS IF ALL IS WELL PLEASE LET ME KNOW HOW TO ACHIEVE THAT!!!!!!!

Rich Society-Too Big To Jail: How Did We Get Here?

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Crime is a social concept based upon social structure (organization of society) and social norms (ideas, customs, habits, attitudes of people).  As such, crime is considered to be an offense against society.  This concept of crime as an offense against society evolved from English tradition.

Common law was an offense against the country that, as such, was to be prosecuted by the King.  It was based on custom and tradition as interpreted by the judges.  It was not written down in a code that one could easily consult; rather it took its form from the collected opinions of English judges who actually created law when they ruled on specific cases.  As new situations arose and more opinions were formed, the common law grew.

Criminal law defines forbidden offenses against society  – by formalizing the common law – and specifies conditions for enforcing and punishing offenders.

New ‘too rich to jail’ case sparks outrage:
A rich father – a Du Pont family heir – served no jail time after raping his three year old daughter. How could a convicted child rapist end up with only probation and treatment? A legal panel discusses the case.

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

John F. Kennedy

To summarize, beginning in the 1400s, the English, and later the Americans, defined crime by:

  • the dominant morality expressed in  society – the common law;
  • the rules articulated by the most powerful members in  society; and
  • the sense of threat perceived by the most dominant, powerful members of society.

And they dealt with such crime through a criminal justice system which

  • defines crime by identifying the boundaries between right and wrong,  moral and immoral, legal and illegal;
  • patrols and enforces such boundaries;
  • judges those who fail to honor the boundaries; and
  • punishes those who have been judged guilty of a crime.

Categories of Colonial Law1. Crimes involving sexual acts.  Any sexual act other than traditional intercourse between man and wife was a crime in all colonies.  Sex-related crimes were the most frequent of all criminal offenses during the first 100 years of colonization – between 10 – 22% of all court business. Most common were �fornication before marriage;� bearing illegitimate children; and beastiality.  Sex crimes remained on the books in the 18th Century but were prosecuted less often – except for fornication which was prosecuted not because extramarital sex was immoral, but mainly because of the �practical considerations� of colonial society – adultery threatened family integrity and created the possibility of private violence/disorder; fornication among servants that resulted in childbirth left the new mother less valuable as a servant and society was left to support a bastard.

2. Crimes perceived as socially harmful misconduct.  Almost any act that contributed to public and personal disorder was considered a crime – drunkenness, blasphemy, lying, idleness, Sabbath violations.  Suchvictimless crimes appear more often in 17th Century court records than any other except sex-related crimes. Sabbath violations among the most prevalent crimes during both 17th and 18th centuries.

3. Crimes against the person – both criminal (dealing with public wrongs which involves social harm and violates the norms of the community) and civil  (dealing with private conflicts with violate relationships between individuals).  According to recent historical examinations of surviving court records in most of the colonies, the most common crimes against the person were slander -approximately 17% of all court business in all colonies; assault – approximately 6% of all court business; homocide –  almost always directed at servants and slaves, or related to domestic and inter-familial disputes; and witchcraft.

In the South, crimes against the person were punished the least of any other category.  Citizens of substance often felt it was their duty to defend themselves, their property, their family, or their honor against any real or imagined threat.  Often, when given a clear choice between observing the law or defending their honor – they choose to defend their honor.  These lawbreakers were treated with dignity and respect.  Juries were reluctant to convict a man of murder or assault if he had committed the crime to defend his honor – and action that was, at best, loosely defined.  Often, those convicted of assault were fined less than a dollar.

4. Crimes against property.   Crimes against property were rare – petty theft was uncommon and grand theft almost never occurred. Why?  Stealing property violated both the sanctity of private property and the code of honor that included a strong sense of economic morality.  People convicted of crimes against property received the most serious punishment which was designed to deter other would-be offenders and shame the culprit in the eyes of the community.

In the 18th Century, crimes against property increased as towns became bigger with more diversity and wealth.  Designating crimes became a way to protect property during the 18th Century.  For instance, in Virginia, hogs were a vital part of a family�s economy – more valuable than sheep.  Its laws made stealing hogs a more serious crime than stealing sheep.  In the late 18th Century, this changed even more.  Crimes against property increased, and in so doing, the concept of crime as a product of sin was challenged by a new social concept – crime was the product of idleness.

The Bible contains so many verses that address greed and oppression of the poor that I will not analyze them all, but I will relate as many of them as possible to modern-day scenarios. I have divided these verses by subject and will begin with a brief analysis of immigration. I will then follow with an examination of every verse that addresses greed, greed of the poor, interest, oppression, God’s judgment of the oppressors, and taxes.

Immigration

Exodus 22:21, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Context: Included in a listing of various laws.

Exodus 23:9, “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Leviticus 19:33-34, “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Greed

Deuteronomy 17:17, “And he [the king of Israel] must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantity for himself.”

Context: God provides guidelines for future kings of Israel.

Analysis: Even the king of Israel was to avoid materialism.

Proverbs 23:4, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; be wise enough to desist.”

Interest

Exodus 22:25, “If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them.”

Leviticus 25:36-37, “Do not take interest in advance or otherwise make a profit from them, but fear your God; let them live with you. You shall not lend them money at interest taken in advance, or provide them food at a profit.”

Oppression

Exodus 22: 22-24, “You shall not abuse any widow or orphan.”

Context: Various laws are listed in this section on Exodus.

Analysis: Why are widows and orphans so special? Because, along with aliens, they had no inheritance in the land. In Israel, men inherited land from their fathers as they became adults (they did not have to wait for their fathers to die like we do today). As women reached adulthood, they left their fathers’ lands to live on their husbands’ lands. On these lands, people grew their food and built their homes with the resources of the land. So this inheritance of land gave young Israelite families what they needed to survive. It’s quite different from our society in which young people venture out on their own lacking both food and shelter and having to earn enough money to obtain it.

Widows, orphans, and aliens, however, could not share in Israel’s inheritance, and therefore, lacked proper food and shelter. That’s why God so frequently calls the Israelites to look out for their interests.

Exodus 23:8, “You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.”

God’s Judgment of the Oppressors

Isaiah 3:14-15, “The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of His people: ‘It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?’ says the Lord God of hosts.”

Similarly, in Jesus’ day the Pharisees and Sadducees were feuding religious parties. The Sadducees held only the first five books of the Bible to be the word of God and denied belief in the afterlife, while the Pharisees believed in the entire Old Testament and in the afterlife, too. Jesus also believed in the entire Old Testament and the afterlife. So did He support the Pharisees? No, He didn’t! In Matthew 16:6, “Jesus said to them [His disciples], ‘Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.’” He went on to explain that He opposed not their “yeast,” but their teachings.

Despite the fact that Jesus had more beliefs in common with the Pharisees than He did the Sadducees, He opposed both sides, because both sides opposed God’s will. To support either party would have been the equivalent of supporting that party’s oppression of others and its promotion of man-made religious teachings over those of the Bible. Jesus protected His disciples from making the mistake of believing that one of two opposing parties must align with righteousness.

The way I see it, Jesus is neither a Democrat nor a Republican (but Satan is a Libertarian). The Democrats sin by promoting individual freedom to the point where we do what we want with our bodies at the expense of and to the neglect of others, while the Republicans sin by promoting individual freedom to the point where we do what we want with our money at the expense of and to the neglect of others.

I don’t mean to say that we sin by belonging to either the Democrats or the Republicans, or by supporting capitalism or socialism. But I do mean to stress that we must not let these establishments teach us right and wrong. For us Christians, right and wrong must come from the Bible alone. God’s teachings must take precedence over those of our political parties, social groups, and even our nation. Those who claimed Jesus’ name during His ministry and the days of the early church did so because they believed Jesus’ teachings, and they obeyed His teachings above all else. Today many Christians call upon His name, but promote and obey teachings contrary to His, such as the promotion of the interests of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poor. If we don’t believe and obey Jesus’ teachings (and the Old Testament teachings He supported), then we really don’t believe in Him.

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~ Partnering With God To Restore His People~

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The day started off with a great sign of hope. We had a pilgrimage burning in our inner man for sometime, but it wasn’t ordained as this day began to unfold. May and I received a follow-up phone call from 3ABN- Jason Bradley this morning before we went out on this pilgrimage. Jason spoke very candidly about should his superiors agree to give us air time we would need to raise air fair, but they would provide transportation and lodging.  Watching all of this unfold is somewhat intriguing but also strenuous on the mind and body. We feel sometime like we are making a fool of ourselves. This dream is in it’s 24th month of pregnancy and we still have faith that this vision will come to past.

Life is a pilgrimage. The wise man does not rest by the roadside inns. He marches direct to the illimitable domain of eternal bliss, his ultimate destination.

Swami Sivananda

It is the heart of God to restore. That’s the good news. The other news is that Israel had made a mess of things and, as a result, they had lost all the marvelous privileges God had lavished upon them. Constant, unremitting disobedience to God had brought about Israel’s loss of nation, city, and heritage.Characteristically God had met His people with the promise of deliverance even before their captivity. The Prophet Jeremiah had informed them that they would be enslaved for 70 years in order to make up for the neglected Sabbaths; but then God would begin the process of restoring His people.

God is firmly in control of history, of kings, and He works all things together to accomplish “the counsel of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11) In fact, this verse declares that God’s will is predestined. He will have His children with Him! Isaiah had predicted that a heathen king by the name of Cyrus would order the rebuilding of the temple and the city of Jerusalem! (Isaiah 44:28) Imagine the shock waves that must have gone through the demons when King Cyrus actually said, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem…” (Ezra 1:2)

The book of Ezra tells the incredible story of God rescuing people from their captivity and restoring them to the place of knowing and worshipping God! It illustrates the way God sent His Spirit to restore the doctrine of salvation by faith during the Reformation. But the walls of Jerusalem had not been rebuilt and the city lay in ruins, bringing dishonor upon both God and His people. This is Nehemiah’s story, and it illustrates the rebuilding process by which God restores His Bride (His people) to their intended beauty.

May & I began our day with devotion and prayer seeking God’s direction for our life. We asked Him to lead us to paths that would link us with like minded ministries and He spoke loud and clear. We made several alliances within this pilgrimage today.

Contacts are needed to perform this type of grass root movement. Networking is essential to production and success. We are setting the stage for bigger outreach. In Hemet Ca. where God has planted us and given us this commission we are now desiring to partner with three churches God willing to Hand out backpacks containing basic necessities to ex-offenders and disenfranchised individuals. We feel it is a great way to help them physically as they adjust to life outside of jail and to put our brand in their spirit . We are hoping that Hemet Seven Day Adventist church on Girard St. Pastor David and Cornerstone church on Girard St. Associate Pastor Bob Meisel and The Dwelling Place Family Church also located in Hemet Ca. on Girard St. will join us in linking up as one team and organize  to use this opportunity to help those targeted individuals spiritually.

It is our hope that as we raise funds and collaborate with those that have a mind to work as Nehemiah did in pursuit of his vision coming to past will see our vision as theirs also and lay denominational titles down and put a rock in one hand and sword in the other and help build this new wall called “Ministry”.

In the Basic Backpack and New Life Supportive Care Network and Second Chance Alliance, ex-offenders and disenfranchised from County Correctional Facilities Southwest and Indio and State Prisons that release 28,000 inmates a year, could pick up backpacks filled with items such as food vouchers, bus tickets, and phone cards from these distribution sites, most of which are these churches. We saw great things within the scope of food banks and clothing being already dispersed. We also shared great testimony of how these ministries are taking off. We are also setting up radio time with radio station KPRO to discuss the times of all this taking place. If you are still reading and have been touched please pray our strength to see this to the end although it looks so far off.

Second Chance Alliance

 

 

Prison ministries are created to provide spiritual guidance to inmates who may already have a relationship with God, and to reach inmates who do not have a religious foundation. Many churches establish prison ministries as part of their outreach services to the local community, but there are also individual pastors, preachers and religious instructors who start ministries without the association or support of a church.

Just to inform you of others who have been successful in this endeavor I am going to share this:

Mission: Launch, a social enterprise startup founded last summer to help ex-offenders with reentry, was one of six projects chosen for the first crowdfunding class on girltank, a crowdfunding website for female social entrepreneurs worldwide.

Mission: Launch founder Laurin Hodge is now raising $25,000 through girltank to build the Returning Citizens Project, a web platform ex-offenders can use to track each step in their reentry process.

Case managers and ex-offenders themselves can use the dashboard to input metrics that are data-proven to be relevant to avoiding recidivism — job skills, work-life preparedness, clothing and housing basics — and track individual risk factors within certain counties and heavily populated areas of arrest.

Mission: Launch offers job training and placement for former prisoners by pairing them with business mentors in a variety of occupations. To help returning ex-offenders find relevant information, Hodge also set up i-Launch, an online Wiki cataloging reentry and job assistance programs in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

“In the beginning we thought Wiki style technology would be best, but we discovered people really needed more of a knowledge-management tool that gave the right information at the right time,” said Hodge in a follow-up e-mail.

After speaking with operators of halfway houses and ex-offenders in Washington, D.C., and the Baltimore region, Hodge discovered that former prisoners going through reentry needed something more than a Wiki in order to organize the reentry process — to keep job applications separate from rental applications, for instance — and measure personal progress against where other ex-offenders are in their reentry.

“Things like housing, transportation, clothing, community/relationship building, health/wellness all must be managed holistically,” Hodge said. “Yet without the resources to build an actionable plan and receive push notifications to help track progress or setbacks, individuals are left rebuilding in isolation.”

The $25,000 crowdfunding campaign with girltank officially begins today and goes through the end of July. Hodge estimates Mission: Launch has commitments for about 10 percent of the funding needed to complete the Returning Citizens Project, one of the two U.S.-based projects in girltank’s inaugural crowdfunding class.

Here is our cause, please click the link to view:

8k7la86586

 

 

Behavior-Nothing New Under The Sun

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Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Ecclesiastes 1:9

The Message (MSG)

 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.]
    There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke.
What’s there to show for a lifetime of work,
    a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
    but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old
        planet earth.

mandrake


And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest

Leah’s eldest son, who is supposed to be at this time about four or five years of age F5, who went out from the tent to the field, to play there perhaps; and this was at the time of wheat harvest, in the month Sivan, as the Targum of Jonathan, which answers to part of our May; a time of the year when the earth is covered with flowers: and found mandrakes in the field;
the flowers or fruit of mandrakes, mandrake apples, as the Septuagint. This plant is said to excite love, provoke lust, dispose for, and help conception; for which reasons it is thought Rachel was so desirous of these “mandrakes”, which seem to have their name “dudaim” from love: the word is only used here and in ( Song of Solomon 7:13 ) ; where they are commended for their good smell, and therefore cannot be the plant which goes now by that name; since they neither give a good smell, nor bear good fruit, and are of a cold quality, and so not likely to produce the above effects ascribed unto them. It is very probable they were lovely and delightful flowers the boy picked up in the field, such as children delight in; some think the “jessamin”, others lilies, and others violets F6; it is not easy to determine what they were; (See Gill on Song of Solomon 7:13); and brought them unto his mother Leah;
as children are apt to do, to show what line flowers or fruit they have gathered: then Rachel said to Leah, give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s
mandrakes;
being taken with the color or smell of them; for as for the notion of helping conception, or removing barrenness and the like, there is no foundation for it; for Rachel, who had them, did not conceive upon having them; and the conception both of her and Leah afterwards is ascribed to the Lord’s remembering and hearkening to them.

 

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Looking back on the rich, colorful history of sexual stimulants, it is interesting to note, in light of the medical advances we have enjoyed, that many ofthese substances worked to promote sexual interest just by correcting a nutritional imbalance. It makes sense that a person suffering from a mineral deficiency would find his or her interest in sex returning after ingesting a mineral-rich substance touted as an aphrodisiac. After all, a healthy person is much more likely to have the desire and energy for sex.

In ancient times, the pursuit of sexual stimulants was governed by the “law of similarity.” According to this rule, whose erroneous precepts still commandcredence in some parts of the world, any item that looks like aroused male or female genitalia will be powerful aphrodisiacs. One example of the principle, the oyster, is as popular among sensation seekers today as it was hundredsof years ago. The root of the mandrake, which resembles a human male, was also much sought after in biblical times. A testimonial to the enduring urgencyof our search for these stimulants is the fact that many of the animals whose parts were and are used as sexual aids under the law of similarity are nowextinct or nearly so.

For instance, the law of similarity is the basis of the continuing popularityin Asia of powdered rhinoceros horn. Often publicized in the news when customs officials confiscate and burn huge quantities of the illegally obtained horn, the fallacy continues that the horn will work as an aphrodisiac. Frequently, poachers will kill rhinoceroses and leave their bodies to rot after usingchain saws to take off the massive protrusions. As a result of this longtimehunt of the animals, all five species of rhinoceros are now endangered. China banned sales of the horn in 1993, but it continues on the black market, fetching prices of up to $27,000 per pound in Taiwan in 1990.

Chemical analysis of rhino horn reveals that it contains ethanolamine, phosphorous, and sugar, along with the free amino acids threonine, aspartic acid, lysine, histidine, ornithine, and arginine. This last ingredient has a reputation for raising the intensity of sexual sensation, although there is little evidence to support this assertion. In general, rhino horn is made of keratin–the same material of which our nails and hair is made. Originally, the penis of the rhinoceros was what men sought to restore their sex drives and potency. Under the law of similarity, this portion of the animal’s anatomy must surely have represented a persuasive argument that it would serve their purpose.

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Genesis 30:14-21

The Message (MSG)

14 One day during the wheat harvest Reuben found some mandrakes in the field and brought them home to his mother Leah. Rachel asked Leah, “Could I please have some of your son’s mandrakes?”

15 Leah said, “Wasn’t it enough that you got my husband away from me? And now you also want my son’s mandrakes?”

Rachel said, “All right. I’ll let him sleep with you tonight in exchange for your son’s love-apples.”

16-21 When Jacob came home that evening from the fields, Leah was there to meet him: “Sleep with me tonight; I’ve bartered my son’s mandrakes for a night with you.” So he slept with her that night. God listened to Leah; she became pregnant and gave Jacob a fifth son. She said, “God rewarded me for giving my maid to my husband.” She named him Issachar (Bartered). Leah became pregnant yet again and gave Jacob a sixth son, saying, “God has given me a great gift. This time my husband will honor me with gifts—I’ve given him six sons!” She named him Zebulun (Honor). Last of all she had a daughter and named her Dinah.

Perhaps Leah is already worried that Reuben’s birthright would be stolen. He finds some MANDRAKES:
1. Thought of as an aphrodisiac and aid to fertility.
2. Mentioned only Song of Solomon 7:13 “The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my lover.” (Song of Solomon 7:13)
3. The Arabs called it the “devil’s apples” and the Greeks nicknamed it “love apple” because of its legendary reputation as an aphrodisiac.
4. Mandrakes are part of SHAKESPEARE PLAYS where they are given mystical or occultic powers.
5. Spoken of in HARRY POTTER –
6. JOSEPHUS – reflects the first century idea that digging when you dig up the root of a mandrake, a demon like character lets out a scream that kills anyone who hears it. Josephus recommended securing a rope around the mandrake and tying it around a dog’s neck. When the dog follows his master, the mandrake will be removed and if the screech is heard, it will kill the dog while saving the master. (Josephus, B. J. vii. 6, § 3), quoted in http://www.theodora.com/encyclopedia/m/mandrake.html.
RACHEL thought the MANDRAKES would help her get pregnant.
RACHEL embraces CULTURAL VALUES over God’s Word. This is not the only time that Rachel embraces cultural ideas over confidence in God. In Genesis 31:34 she takes the “household gods.” when leaving for BerSheba
Rachel trusts in good luck charms but NOT in God.
LEAH’S ACCUSATION: Gen 30:15. “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband, will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”
YEARS of frustration and anger
RACHEL controlled the bedroom rights.
LEAH is angry and manipulates Jacob’s love.
JUST LIKE US, RACHEL – trusting in her own ways.
LEAH – Waiting for an opportunity and lashing out.
LEAH unleashes her POISON BOX
Reuben is now a young boy or teenager
Leah has not forgotten that she is not loved
She has STORED UP her anger and it comes out when provoked. I call the place in our hearts where we store the hurts and pains of the past our POISON BOX.
THINGS WE PUT IN OUR POISON BOX
Past Hurts
Insults
Wounded Pride
Theft
Injustice
“Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.” (Proverbs 26:18–21) “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.” (James 1:9)
and  Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20)
The Danger of Keeping a POISON BOX:
The darts that we store away will eventually be used
When you throw your poison arrows you cannot control where they land or how much damage they cause. “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6) Once thrown, you cannot take them back. Ben Franklin is attributed with saying, “A slip of the foot you will soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.”The longer you hold your poison, the more it takes control of your life.

But we don’t have to keep a poison box! Here are some God Honoring alternatives to storing up past offenses.
1. Overlook Offenses
Proverbs 19:11 A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 20:3 It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Things that should NOT be overlooked (Ken Sande)
Is it (the offense) dishonoring to God?
Is it damaging your relationship? Matt 18:15-20
Is it hurting others? 2 Tim 2:24-26
Is it hurting the offender? Gal 6:1-2; James 5:19-20
Reconciliation. Matt 5:21-24 (you and your brother/ sister)
Negotiation. “A mutually agreed upon third party or method.”

When the two in the dispute attempt to work things out themselves.
Proverbs 18:17–19 The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. 18 Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart. 19 An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

2. Mediation. Intervention counseling is a form of mediation. An example of this is the The Jerusalem Counsel. Acts 15:1-5

3. Arbitration. (Example, OT PRIESTS, NT Jerusalem Counsel, An example of arbitration can be found in Deuteronomy 17:8–13 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the LORD your God will choose. 9 Go to the priests, who are Levites, and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. 10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the LORD will choose. Be careful to do everything they direct you to do. 11 Act according to the law they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. 12 The man who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God must be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.

4. Accountability. In serious conflict ask that a third party ensure that everything is being fulfilled according to the agreed upon plan.

There are great Benefits of Restoring Relationships
The most GOD HONORING thing we can do when we are hurt is to show grace to the one who hurt us.
James 3:18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Hebrews 12:14 (NKJV) “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”
Ephesians 4:3 (NKJV) “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

What do we do with our poison box?
Give it to the Lord.
Forgive what can be biblically forgiven
Commit to a God honoring way to resolve other differences
Release those who refuse to be reconciled from any personal desire for revenge or vindication. Leave it in the Lord’s Hands.

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There’s nothing new on this earth.
    Year after year it’s the same old thing.
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
    Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
    And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody’ll remember them either.
    Don’t count on being remembered.

Does your Language forge Productive Behavior?

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Does the language we speak determine how healthy and rich we will be? New research by Keith Chen of Yale Business School suggests so. The structure of languages affects our judgments and decisions about the future and this might have dramatic long-term consequences.

There has been a lot of research into how we deal with the future. For example, the famous marshmallow studies of Walter Mischel and colleagues showed that being able to resist temptation is predictive of future success. Four-year-old kids were given a marshmallow and were told that if they do not eat that marshmallow and wait for the experimenter to come back, they will get two marshmallows instead of one. Follow-up studies showed that the kids who were able to wait for the bigger future reward became more successful young adults.

Resisting our impulses for immediate pleasure is often the only way to attain the outcomes that are important to us. We want to keep a slim figure but we also want that last slice of pizza. We want a comfortable retirement, but we also want to drive that dazzling car, go on that dream vacation, or get those gorgeous shoes. Some people are better at delaying gratification than others. Those people have a better chance of accumulating wealth and keeping a healthy life style. They are less likely to be impulse buyers or smokers, or to engage in unsafe sex.

Chen’s recent findings suggest that an unlikely factor, language, strongly affects our future-oriented behavior. Some languages strongly distinguish the present and the future. Other languages only weakly distinguish the present and the future. Chen’s recent research suggests that people who speak languages that weakly distinguish the present and the future are better prepared for the future. They accumulate more wealth and they are better able to maintain their health. The way these people conceptualize the future is similar to the way they conceptualize the present. As a result, the future does not feel very distant and it is easier for them to act in accordance with their future interests.

Different languages have different ways of talking about the future. Some languages, such as English, Korean, and Russian, require their speakers to refer to the future explicitly. Every time English-speakers talk about the future, they have to use future markers such as “will” or “going to.” In other languages, such as Mandarin, Japanese, and German, future markers are not obligatory. The future is often talked about similar to the way present is talked about and the meaning is understood from the context. A Mandarin speaker who is going to go to a seminar might say “Wo qu ting jiangzuo,” which translates to “I go listen seminar.” Languages such as English constantly remind their speakers that future events are distant. For speakers of languages such as Mandarin future feels closer. As a consequence, resisting immediate impulses and investing for the future is easier for Mandarin speakers.

Chen analyzed individual-level data from 76 developed and developing countries. This data includes people’s economic decisions, such as whether they saved any money last year, the languages they speak at home, demographics, and cultural factors such as   “saving is an important cultural value for me.” He also analyzed individual-level data on people’s retirement assets, smoking and exercising habits, and general health in older age. Lastly, he analyzed national-level data that includes national savings rates, country GDP and GDP growth rates, country demographics, and proportions of people speaking different languages.

People’s savings rates are affected by various factors such as their income, education level, age, religious affiliation, their countries’ legal systems, and their cultural values. After those factors were accounted for, the effect of language on people’s savings rates turned out to be big. Speaking a language that has obligatory future markers, such as English, makes people 30 percent less likely to save money for the future. This effect is as large as the effect of unemployment. Being unemployed decreases the likelihood of saving by about 30 percent as well.

 

Similar analyses showed that speaking a language that does not have obligatory future markers, such as Mandarin, makes people accumulate more retirement assets, smoke less, exercise more, and generally be healthier in older age. Countries’ national savings rates are also affected by language. Having a larger proportion of people speaking languages that does not have obligatory future markers makes national savings rates higher.

This is an unconventional way of explaining people’s consumption-saving decisions and health-related behavior. More conventional factors include dispositional, situational, motivational, and cultural factors. The marshmallow studies focus on dispositional factors—being able to delay gratification is an innate ability. Other research has looked at situational factors. For example, researchers have shown that simply rearranging the placement of food and beverages in a cafeteria can improve sales of healthy items. Other research focused on motivational factors. People often need to curb their current desire to consume in order to reach their future goal of getting out of debt. Researchers have shown that closing smaller debt accounts first gives a sense of accomplishment early on, boosts motivation, and increases the likelihood of completely getting rid of debt. The motivational effect is beneficial even if closing off smaller debt accounts does not make economic sense, for instance when the bigger debt accounts have higher interest rates attached to them. Other research has investigated cultural factors. It has been argued that Americans spend more than they need to because they want to emulate the lifestyles and spending patterns of people who are much richer than themselves. Chen’s findings suggest that maybe we should focus more on how we talk about the future in order to improve our intertemporal decision making.

These results also provide evidence for the language-cognition link, which has stirred some controversy among researchers. Early 20th century thinkers such as Ferdinand de Saussure and Ludwig Wittgenstein were among the first who argued that language can impact the way people think and act. More recently Steven Pinker argued that we think in a universal grammar and languages do not significantly shape our thinking. The issue is still hotly debated.

At a more practical level, researchers have been looking for ways to help people act in accordance with their long-term interests. Recent findings suggest that making the future feel closer to the present might improve future-oriented behavior. For instance, researchers recently presented people with renderings of their future selves made using age-progression algorithms that forecast how physical appearances would change over time. One group of participants saw a digital representation of their current selves in a virtual mirror, and the other group saw an age-morphed version of their future selves. Those participants who saw the age-morphed version of their future selves allocated more money toward a hypothetical savings account. The intervention brought people’s future to the present and as a result they saved more for the future.

Chen’s research shows that language structures our future-related thoughts. Language has been used before to alter time perception with surprising effects. Ellen Langer and colleagues famously improved older people’s physical health by simple interventions including asking them to talk about the events of twenty years ago as if it they were happening now. Talking about the past as if it were the present changed people’s mindsets and their mindsets affected their physical states. Chen’s research points at the possibility that the way we talk about the future can shape our mindsets. Language can move the future back and forth in our mental space and this might have dramatic influences on our judgments and decisions.

This is Why! Have You Ever Had A family Member Show The Mental Melt Down To Disparity?

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A bottle thought of as worthless by appearance, full of dust and decrepit laying in a sewer drain when searched for is redeemed for a profit. Please help us fight the erosion of our economy and capitalist gain and the endangered  species known to America as a “Felon” Click the GofundMe link below to view our desire to help our community of human beings to get re-entry skills to join society and this cause to help drive change.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

The American prison system is massive. So massive that its estimated turnover of $74 billion eclipses the GDP of 133 nations. What is perhaps most unsettling about this fun fact is that it is the American taxpayer who foots the bill, and is increasingly padding the pockets of publicly traded corporations like Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group. Combined both companies generated over $2.53 billion in revenue in 2012, and represent more than half of the private prison business. So what exactly makes the business of incarcerating Americans so lucrative?

The American Prison System

prison tower The Economics of the American Prison System

Most of it has to do with the way the American legal system works, and how it has changed over the last 40 years. In the 1970’s, lawmakers were dealing with a nationwide rash of drug-use and crime. By declaring a nation-wide war on drugs in 1971, President Richard Nixon set a precedent for hard-line policies towards drug-related crime.  New York governor Nelson Rockefeller followed suit declaring “For drug pushing, life sentence, no parole, no probation.”  His policies once put into action promised 15 years to life in prison for drug users and dealers. His policies catalyzed the growth of a colossal corrections system that currently houses an estimated 2.2 million inmates.

The runaway growth of US corrections did not come overnight, and did not come from the government alone. Since the 1970’s federal and state correction agencies have consistently struggled to meet the increased demands brought on by the US Department of Justice and strict drug laws. In 1982, three Texas businessmen, Tom Beasley, John Ferguson, and Don Hutto saw an opportunity in the shortcomings of the Texas corrections system’s inability to deal with this influx of incarcerations. They devised and executed a plan to secure the first government contract to design, build, and operate a corrections facility from the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Texas Department of Justice.

Contract in hand, the trio was given 90 days to open a detention center for undocumented aliens. As their January 28 deadline neared, Hutto, Ferguson, and Beasley had no facility, no staff, and their experiment seemed doomed to fail. On New Year’s Eve, 1983, Beasley decided to get crafty, “Well, we’ll just go to Houston and find a place,” he told Ferguson. Incredulous, Ferguson replied, “Tom, you’re crazy. There’s no possible way. This is New Year’s Day. There is no possible way we can find a place today.” Beasley simply responded, “We have to.”

The three men immediately got on a plane and began their search. After a litany of rejections they came upon the Olympic Motel at 1am on New Year’s Day and immediately began negotiations that lasted for three days. After hiring motel owner’s family and promising to return the motel to its original condition, the group was in business. They then converted all of the motel rooms to secure cells, procured secure transportation and opened shop on January 28, 1983 when 87 inmates were brought in.  Hutto, Ferguson and Beasley formed Corrrections Corporation of America, the largest prison private prison network in the United States.

With the precedent it set with the first private detention center, CCA changed the face of US corrections for good. The private sector came to be seen as a quick-fix to the problem of overcrowded, understaffed public prisons. Today, privatized prisons make up over 10% of the corrections market—turning over $7.4 billion per year.

The American Prison Business

prison 20130611 021 The Economics of the American Prison System

The average cost of incarcerating an American prisoner varies from state to state. Some states, like Indiana have managed to keep prices low at around $14,000 per inmate. While states like New York pay around $60,000 to keep its citizens behind bars. The costs of running the American prison system is expensive and has become increasingly so despite public opposition.

According to a 2012 Vera Institute of Justice study, the number of those incarcerated has increased by over 700% over the last four decades. The cost to the taxpayer? $39 billion.

Where is all of this money going? The Vera institute study contends that that many corrections-related costs, such as employee benefits and taxes, pension contributions, retiree health care contributions, legal judgments and claims are deemed central administrative costs. Moreover, many states fund inmate services—such as hospital care in 8 states, and education and training in 12 states—outside of their corrections departments.  It’s a nice accounting trick but this amounts to a $5.4 billion gap between the reported corrections budgets of the 40 states examined by the study—$33.5 billion—and the actual cost to taxpayer of $39 billion.

The ideology behind this peculiar industry is that private companies, forced to compete with state government prices and one another for contracts, will provide correctional services more efficiently than the government itself can. Moreover, these private companies offer a correctional solution that prevents the government from having to sink capital into the brick-and-mortar of new prisons and other long term costs such as pensions, salaries, and health-care for new prison staff. Private Prisons like CCA not only provide states, and the federal government with lower “per-diem” costs, but they also provide a means for them to balance their budgets by buying off and refurbishing state-owned prisons.

Related Article: Four People Who Single-Handedly Caused Economic Crises

The best corrections corporation in America 

prison cca patch The Economics of the American Prison System

CCA operates the fifth largest prison system, public or private, in the  system in the US. Under its control include 51 owned-and-operated facilities in 16 states and contracted management of 18 more state-owned facilities in 7 states. This network allows CCA to maintain a 44% stake in the $7.4 billion private corrections market for a market cap of$3.53 billion. All of this equates to a massively profitable operation for CCA who recorded$1.64 billion in revenue, $883.1 million of which came from state governments  in 2012.

Studies mostly agree that privatized prisons save money on the balance sheet—with short run savings averaging about 19.25% and long run savings averaging about 28.82%. In fact, many states have statutes that require a certain percentage of savings—Florida 7%Texas 10%,Kentucky 10%Mississippi 10% –in contracts with private corrections providers. On paper, private corrections facilities are almost always more efficient than public ones. CCA reports savings of 68-74% vs. various government agencies for 1000 new beds added. Astonishingly, CCA was able to generate these savings while also recording a 29.6% operating margin of $17.53 per man, per day in 2012. Are private prisons really that much more efficient or are we missing something?

Let’s break this down further. In 2012 CCA received $59.14 in revenue per compensated man-day from the government. Of this $59.14, CCA committed $41.61 to operating expenses per man-day. This effectively means CCA commits $41.61 to each prisoner each day. According to CCA’s SEC filings 65% of these operating expenses, or $27.05 goes to employee salaries and benefits. This leaves $14.56 per man-day for the combined costs of food, medical care, and contracted drug rehabilitation and education programs.

Considering that this is the area private prisons choose to cut costs, it is little wonder they come with hidden costs unaccounted for by their reported savings. For instance, a study on recidivism performed in Oklahoma between 1997 and 2008 showed that prisoners released from private prisons had almost a 4% higher rate of recidivism (returning to prison). This means, that for every 1000 prisoners released, private prisons have the additional annual cost to the Oklahoma taxpayer of $554,010 (based on average annual cost per inmate). If you extrapolate this recidivism gap to a state like New Jersey that spends more per prisoner, the hidden cost of releasing 1000 inmates jumps to $1,645,950.

Private problems become public issues

Prison chino The Economics of the American Prison System

In recent years, private prisons have also come under fire for failing to successfully fulfill their contracts. In 2010 alone, US private prisons were the subject of four major scandals. An Arizona prison operated by the Management and Training Corporation allowed three inmates—two convicted of murder and one convicted of attempted murder—to escape. Before being captured the escapees murdered a couple in New Mexico. The family filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against MTC and the state of Arizona.

In 2010, a nationally released video showed an inmate at the Idaho Correctional Center thrown to the ground, beaten, and kicked. ICC guards made no attempt to intervene, and were later charged with “routinely failing to protect inmates” and deliberately exposing inmates to “prison gangs and violent culture.” In Kentucky, a sex scandal involving female prisoners and guards forced a CCA prison to relocate several hundred women 377 miles away to a state-run prison. Also in 2010, the GEO group was forced to reach a $2.9 million settlement to provide up to $400 to inmates at six facilities for illegal and unnecessary strip searches.

Incidents such as these occur frequently and the money doled out by private prisons, and the government in lawsuits, retributions, and relocation are is not reflected in the per-diem costs cited by private companies to highlight savings. When one considers the $156,800,000 net income of a company like CCA, it becomes easy to understand why such incidents occur. Operators of private prisons are given a sum in government contract. It is their duty to then carry out the terms and provide the conditions specified in the contract.

As it turns out the best way to turn a profit from this sum is to strive for the absolute minimum requirements that these contracts allow. By slashing costs related to crucial aspects of operating facilities such as training and hiring of personnel and maintaining safe facilities companies like CCA turn a greater profit for their shareholders and create more enticing cost-reduction statistics to draw in more government contracts.

Furthermore, the statistics used to measure the success of all prisons in cutting costs—usually total taxpayer cost per inmate—are generally considered to be unreliable in assessing real cost. These same statistics are often used to validate private contracting of corrections operations.  In today’s fiscally anxious political climate, government officials and private prison employees are hyper-aware of the impact of these statistics on measuring success of budget slashing strategies. They are often incentivized to bring down these numbers and employ several strategies that skew cost statistics to make them more palatable to the taxpayer.

The Vera Institute study identifies several factors that tend to these alter cost-per-prisoner numbers. The first is overcrowding of prisons. By overcrowding prisons and allowing the inmate population to exceed the capacity of a facility, the price-per-inmate figure of that facility is driven downward at the cost of safety, reliability, and increased recidivism. States and private prisons with greater incarceration of low-level offenders will also report lower per-prisoner costs though their total cost to the tax payer is actually greater.

Low-level offenders can be placed in minimum and medium security prisons which require fewer staff, and generally have much lower incarceration costs. Therefore, by incarcerating a greater number of persons who commit less-serious offenses, corrections systems can present themselves as more efficient despite the increase in total cost they create. Finally state corrections systems often reimburse local jails to house state-sentenced offenders. These costs are often set by statute and not updated in accordance with rising costs.

The cost of corrections to the American taxpayer 

prison cca america The Economics of the American Prison System

So what does all of this mean for American citizens. Let’s take a look at Joe Taxpayer from Arizona to see what it costs to run and maintain American prisons. Joe is a pretty average guy, a single man making a living in Scottsdale. The state of Arizona allocates just over 10% of its budget to corrections each year in the name of public safety. Joe, who works as a middle school principal, brings home $75,000 a year and pays $2,309 annually in state taxes.

Some simple math reveals that Joe gives pays $230.90 every year towards the incarceration, monitoring, and rehabilitation of prisoners. Now, 13% (and growing) of Arizona’s prisoners are housed and managed by private corrections facilities. If Arizona is spending equally on private and public prisoners Joe is giving $30 every year to private corporations to house prisoners. If we account for the savings offered by Arizona prisons, reconciling the -1.0% of medium security prisons and 8.0% savings to 7.0% for the sake of simplicity, Joe forks over a final sum somewhere around $28 for the services of private prisons every year out of his state taxes alone. Joe Taxpayer is not pleased.

The business of prisons is deeply intertwined with a number of issues ranging from accounting shady accounting practices, to recidivism and other hidden social costs. However it is difficult to discern whether private prisons are a better use of taxpayer dollars especially if they serve to government interests ahead of civil liberties and transparency. What is abundantly clear is that prisons system is a lucrative business for those uniquely positioned to service the growing needs of the federal and state judicial systems.

Psychology, Gospel, Theology: What Is The Parallel?

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The church today is anemic spiritually for many reasons, but one of the major reasons has to be the loss of biblical content in so much of contemporary preaching. Pop psychology substitutes for the Word of God. Feel-good messages on “Five Ways to Be Happy” and “Three Ways to Love Your Mother” have become the steady cotton candy diet fed to the average church. Today’s sermonic focus therefore is on application. But application, without textual warrant for such, does not “stick;” it needs the glue of textual meaning. Biblical content accordingly must precede application; how else can we possibly know what to apply? Thus, in the headlong rush to be relevant, People magazine and popular television shows have replaced Scripture as sermonic resources. There are other signs of this anemia: In some churches, the music portion of the worship service has lengthened while the sermon time has diminished. No wonder so many spiritual teeth are decaying in our churches.

Biblical preaching, especially when it is done in a creative way, will always meet the needs of people, felt or otherwise.

Eloquent nonsense abounds in many pulpits today; sometimes it is not even eloquent. The conjuring adroitness of many preachers who keep producing fat rabbit after fat rabbit out of an obviously empty hat is the marvel of much contemporary preaching. There is mounting evidence that people are beginning to grow weary of these trite pop-psychology sermons. Biblical preaching, especially when it is done in a creative way, will always meet the needs of people, felt or otherwise. Only biblical preaching can meet the ultimate spiritual needs of people.

Preach the Word … in a text-driven way!

As I prepare to look into the medicine cabinet of my bible I have this question, how is psychology and the gospel  relevant?  Many people are now interested in the relationship between religion and science, but links between Christian belief and psychology have been relatively neglected.

Psychology is sometimes rejected altogether by evangelical Christians on the basis that it is a flawed discipline. Evangelicals are threatened by what they might call spirituality hiding behind the veil of science. But psychology must be viewed properly, as must theology, in order to interpret and apply its claims correctly. The Bible may be considered revealed truth, but it is not the only truth God has revealed to humans. The Bible is God’s revelation to man in written form, and is reliable as long as it is interpreted and applied properly. God has also given man truth
which is outside of, and consistent with, His written revelation. This truth is discoverable through observing creation and through scientific experimentation. It is through this general revelation that the social sciences have discovered truths about man which have enabled man to better understand himself and his relationships with others

The nature of integration in science is to work together two fields. Both theology and psychology are sciences, and therefore must be treated as such. Just as hermeneutics is not God’s Word itself, neither is theology. They both fall under the scientific heading of the study of God’s Word. The sciences of theology and psychology can be integrated just as any other sciences can. The difference is that special consideration must be given to theology due to the subject it is treating. Any discussion of the integration of Biblical principles and the principles of psychology also necessitates a proper understanding of what is at stake. The issue is not just theology and just psychology. It comes down to philosophy and world view. The struggle of integration was already taking place in early church days, mostly through the work of Greek philosophers. The debate about where to draw the line is a long-standing one.

 

                                                                                                     Classical Greek Dualism

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In classical Greek dualism there is a physical realm and a spiritual realm, a separation of the body and the soul . Philosophers created only two categories for people to use in approaching humanity. This poses many problems. If this is the case, then in physical matters such as medicine, one does not have to bother himself with morality: “One of the attractions of the dualist view appeared to be the notion of the soul as a detachable spiritual entity, associated with the body but not identified with it” . The spiritual dimension was reserved for things other than the material and the mental. Social sciences such as psychology would be classified in the spiritual dimension.

This separation has crept imperceptibly into modem thought, and since psychology is made out to somehow be a part of the spiritual dimension, it is often critiqued by Christians as if it were. Psychology could never pass a test of doctrine, it could never hold up if it were passed off as inerrant and true. Christians, then, are apt to reject psychology altogether in favor of the higher thing in the spiritual dimension, the Bible itself. But psychology is not in the spiritual dimension. The two overlap, but are not the same.

Psychology is a separate discipline, not a subset of theology. If a man went into a church and claimed to know a great deal about group dynamics, he would not automatically be considered a theologian.

His findings might supplement the theologian, whose primary job it is to remind people that what God has said is right and what God has said is wrong. When religion adopts a dichotomous reasoning, polarizing itself from other disciplines in the same way Greek philosophy would polarize spirit and matter, it also breaks down relationships between God and the world. “Such a view of the sacred as completely separate from the mite world parallels the compartmentalized epistemology that sees religion as completely separate from science” . Certainly the divine has a special nature, but it is not cut off from the rest of life.

On the contrary, it should permeate the rest of life. Although psychology is not synonymous with theology, it also cannot be separated from it.

                                                                             

                                                                                 Written and Spoken Revelation
The Bible is primarily about two issues: one’s relationship with God and one’s relationship with people. But the Bible never claims to have all the truth of God when it comes to relationships with people. For example, there is no group theory there. Dr. Lawson in the counseling department at Liberty University called this the two book theory. He said God has a written revelation and a spoken revelation, the world. These two should never conflict, and if they do it is only in human understanding. “All truth is God’s truth,”  whether found in the Bible or in nature. Whether a Christian discovered 2+2=4 or not, it is still true. Paul wrote on this subject to the church at Rome two thousand years ago. The King James translation of Romans 1 :20 says, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” God has revealed Himself to us, therefore making men accountable to Him for truth, whether they had a copy of the Bible or not. Everything that is true is from God, and gives glory to God.

 

 

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                                                                                       Types of Spoken Revelation
In addition to the Bible, God also allows His truth to be revealed through science, and even psychology. The Bible does not claim to contain everything that we need to know about plumbing or about schizophrenia. Technical things about the brain and the hypothalamus are not in the Bible. In fact, Wallace Clift asserts that for religion to be able to “meet the needs of its day it must be in accord with, and understandable in the language of, the scientific knowledge of the time” .

We cannot assist the people living in our culture if we are not keeping up to date with their needs and how best to meet them. We have no excuse when the Lord has put psychology at our disposal. It is laziness to avoid it altogether simply because it takes work to evaluate what aspects of psychology are useful and what are not.

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Bible never intended to contain all truth. The Bible does have a lot to say about counseling and how to speak with people. Psychology expounds on those things to develop how we can apply them to people in a counseling setting. Many of the foundational aspects of psychology are in the Bible. However, it does not, and God never intended it to, contain all the truth there is in the world. John 21 :25 even says that Jesus did more while He was on earth that was not recorded because books could not contain all of the information!

It is dangerous ground to walk upon when one is speaking of the Bible. It is true that ”the Bible stands alone as God’s only perfect guide to life and growth” . The Bible is absolutely complete and dependable. The fact that psychology can be helpful in counseling does not mean that the Bible is lacking in some way. It only means that psychological theories should not be thrown out altogether. They do hold value in the specific application of principles that are found in the Word of God.
We have established that truth can be found outside the Bible itself, and also that psychology provides years of experience and research that can be filtered through Scripture and applied in practice. What truth is found there at the end can and should be used. Theologians Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart (1982) say, “Wisdom is the discipline of applying truth to one’s life in the light of experience” . Applying psychological truth to the foundation of Biblical truth wisely meets the needs of man.

God’s Word is always accurate, but unfortunately, man’s interpretation of it can be inaccurate. For example, in our country’s early history pastors were saying that God condoned slavery. On the other hand, psychology can also be incorrect in its scientific interpretation of a matter. So when theology and psychology conflict, we must look at
everything, remembering of course that the answer could be that it is so complex we do not even have an answer.

Human error is not limited to interpretation, but also extends to application. In Romans 1: 18 Paul says that there are men that “hold the truth in unrighteousness.” He is talking to the Romans, who were highly intelligent people. He is saying that there is truth but people are suppressing it from them by explaining it incorrectly. These Romans are people that have only thus far had natural revelation, and Paul tells them they can know the truth and are without excuse. God judges people and He does it on the basis of natural revelation because that genuinely and sufficiently reveals Him.

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They should have honored God because they looked to nature and gave Him credit for what He created.

On any given Sunday in today’s preaching pantheon, one can observe a diverse group of devotees, some paying homage to the chapel of “creativity,” others sitting at the feet of the “culturally relevant.” Some are transfixed at the nave marked “narrative,” while others have their hearts strangely warmed at the chasse of “pop-psychology.” There is never a shortage of worshipers at the “new homiletic” altar, and the “topical” shrine always receives its share of Sunday patrons. Fearful that some as of yet undiscovered homiletical “method” might be missed, the gatekeepers of the pantheon have installed an altar inscribed “to the unknown preaching method.” It is that method which I declare unto you. Actually, the method itself is not “unknown” at all, and like the true church on earth, it has always had its practitioners in every era of church history.In fact, it is the oldest method in the preaching pantheon, having been used by the earliest preachers as far back as the apostolic era of the church. It is called “expository preaching.

”Fearful that some as of yet undiscovered homiletical “method” might be missed, the gatekeepers of the pantheon have installed an altar inscribed “to the unknown preaching method.”

 

 

 

Free Compliments

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Complimenting is attractive for many people. Most people prefer to and view it as more constructive to say something positive than to say something negative. After all, who does not want to be appreciated for what he does? Although everybody makes mistakes now and then, most people mean well, don’t they? This way of reasoning is surely plausible which may explain why I frequently hear people saying that is good and important to compliment frequently. They claim that this is the best way to motivate people. It is correct that complimenting can be useful. An adequate compliment provides us with the type of feedback that can help us become aware of which of our behaviors are effective. Furthermore, a compliment can make you realize that there is someone who is paying attention to you and who feels involved with what you do. This is why complimenting effectively can be useful in different contexts like parenting, education, management and co-operation.

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But is complimenting really always so pleasant and motivating? There are also people who are skeptical about the use and value of complimenting. Some say that they often see compliments as insincere and exaggerated as if it were some kind of trick. Others say they often get suspicious when they are complimented (“What does he want from me?”). Still others say they don’t like to be complimented because it gives them the impression that the other person looks down on them (“Who does he think he is to judge me?).

What’s the deal with compliments? Are the advocates right or the skeptics? My answer is that both the advocates and the skeptics are right. Complimenting can be valuable but only in certain circumstances and when done skillfully. In those cases the advantages can be achieved while negative side effects can be prevented.

Read:Proverbs 16:20-30
The Message (MSG)

Proverbs 16:24-Gracious speech is like clover honey—
good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.
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During a time of economic crisis and depressing news, Me and a cohort at Syracuse University decided to lift the spirits of people on campus with some encouraging words. For two hours every Wednesday afternoon, we stood along a busy walkway holding large “Free Compliments” sign and saying nice things to everyone who passed by. “I like your red coat.” “Cool snow boots.” “Very nice smile.” Some students said they deliberately walked past “the compliment guys” every Wednesday just to hear a kind word.

I was struck by the increase of traffic that had began to flow by us as well as the people expectancy of the people with the soul goal of commending us, rather than finding fault or being critical. Is that how I, as a follower of Christ, view others each day?

Instead of being like the person who is focused on evil and whose speech is “like a burning fire” (Proverbs 16:27), we can take a different approach, knowing that what we say begins deep inside us. “The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones”(vv.23-24).

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Kind words may be free, but they give a priceless lift of spirit. Why not encourage someone today?

The power in words can build up or tear down–
Create a big smile or produce a sad frown;
So in all your contacts with people each day,
Be sure to encourage in all that you say.

A gentle word of compliment falls lightly but it carries great weight. n whatever situation you are in, you can show your respect, support and love by consciously choosing your words and speaking them with a kind and loving attitude. Yes, it takes diligence and restraint, but if you choose to be careful about what you say and how you say it, you can succeed, even in the toughest situation.

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Kind communication is other-centered and honest. Using “І” statements instead of the accusatory “You” statements is a simple way to communicate well.

Instead of saying, “You never clean the counter,” you can say, “I feel unappreciated when I have to always clean the kitchen counter.” It’s a simple twist with a big reward. The listener feels empathy for you, instead of feeling accused by you. These little examples are choice nuggets for anyone that is in the positions that deal with the public or who have suffered with abusive behavior.

One Seed of Hope That Linkedin with Someone’s Faith Equaled a New Life

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“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress …” (James 1:27, NIV).

Scripture clearly and repeatedly exhorts Christians to care for the fatherless. And, with 127,000 children waiting for a mother and father in the U.S. foster care system and numerous infants needing loving homes, answering the biblical call to care for orphans is no small task.

In 2007, Ke’onte was just eight years old, News 8’s Gloria Campos featured him as a Wednesday’s Child in hopes of finding a family to adopt him.

Following a failed adoption and disappointment, Gloria did another report on Ke’onte two years later, in hopes the second time would be the charm.

Now 14, Ke’onte returned to WFAA to surprise Gloria Campos, live, during the News 8 at 10 broadcast.

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Having a passion to serve and treat others as you would want to be treated is equal to self respect and having a compassionate heart. Seeds like that grow into viable organisms. Gloria Campos had purposed in her heart to let her difference make a difference in this young man’s life and now he is restored with hope that will help his parents have joy and those of whom he will touch in his school environment as well as community at home.

There are several touching stories like this. Adoption can be risky business for both parties but restoration of discarded human beings as well as animals is the work of a Powerful God. Only He can soothe pain and fill voids and create clean hearts.

Adoption has been gaining attention as a national priority in the United States. More than 150,000 adoptions take place each year, but there are still 127,000 children waiting for adoption in the U.S. foster care system, as well as infants born to birthmothers not ready to parent. In light of Christ’s command to care for orphans, the number of children without loving homes is more than just another social issue; adoption is a Christian concern.

Defined as the permanent, legal transfer of parental rights over a child from biological parents to adoptive parents, adoption is an important social practice that promotes the well-being of children, families and society. Though there are several different categories of adoption, every adoption scenario gives adoptive parents the same rights, responsibilities and joys as biological parents, and gives adopted children the same legal, social and emotional benefits of birth children.

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Adoption positively impacts all those involved with the process. It gives birthmothers the assurance that their children will be raised in stable families, gives adoptive parents the joy of parenting, and gives children the opportunity to join a permanent family and grow up in a loving home. Adoption also promotes the social and economic well-being of our nation because an adopted child is less likely (than the child of a single mother) to grow up in poverty, more likely to obtain an education, and more likely to have an involved father.

Adoption is also connected to important social issues, such as the sanctity of human life and the definition of family. Adoption upholds the sanctity of human life by providing a positive alternative to abortion for birthmothers who feel unable to parent. Adoption contributes positively to family formation by creating the opportunity for children waiting in foster care to have a loving mother and father—replacing what the child has lost.

And yet, the adoption process has been recently burdened by initiatives that ignore its purpose and promote unrelated goals. Anti-life forces rarely mention adoption as a positive alternative to abortion, and same-sex advocates reject mother-father family structures as the model for adoptive families. It is no wonder then that the fundamental purposes of adoption have come under attack and that adoption has become a topic of political controversy.

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Recognizing the importance of adoption and current political threats to the practice, Focus on the Family is passionately committed to not only promoting adoption among churches and families, but also to advocating adoption policies that promote and defend the well-being of children, parents and families.

While orphan care is clearly a biblical mandate for churches and families, adoption is also an important policy concern that impacts other efforts to defend life and family. The option of adoption allows pregnant women who do not think they are ready or able to parent to confidently choose life. Also, adoption provides orphans the filial relationships that God intended for all mankind to have. In other words, it grants children who are waiting for homes the hope of receiving loving families.

Children’s Needs Lost to an Agenda

Along with the sheer challenge of finding loving homes for all children who need them, the current political climate – particularly movements to redefine the family – makes child placement even more difficult. While adoption is meant to provide children with a mother and a father when the original family is broken, unfortunately, the adoption process is now used as an avenue to advance homosexual rights. Efforts to advance rights and protections for homosexuals often place a higher priority on an individual desire to parent, rather than a child’s need for a mother and a father. Today, it is not enough to promote the practice of adoption; we must also defend adoption against initiatives that would distort its purpose.

As evidenced by the fight for adoption rights by same-sex couples, the current movement to protect and promote homosexual rights threatens the adoption arena and children’s best interests. Though they might push for it, homosexual couples—and all couples for that matter—possess no right to adopt. Rather, children have a right to grow up with the love that only a mother and a father can jointly provide. Adoption placements should acknowledge that placing a child in a family structure with a married mother and father is in the child’s best interest. Unfortunately, current anti-discrimination policies and judicial decisions often negate the best interest of children in the name of tolerance and equality.

One conflict has already risen to the surface. The movement to promote individuals with same-sex attraction as a legally protected class threatens the work of adoption agencies that hold moral convictions against same-sex adoption. Certain anti-discrimination laws in the U.S. ultimately mandate that adoption agencies allow same-sex couples to adopt children. These acts stifle the freedom of independent adoption agencies to decide that concern for a child’s best interests requires them to make placements in married mother and father homes rather than with gay or lesbian-identified couples, or cohabiting heterosexual couples. Ultimately, sexual orientation laws that were meant to prevent discrimination actually violate the freedom of adoption agencies that hold religious or moral convictions against certain adoption placements, and deprive a child of either a father or mother. Adoption agencies are forced to decide between closing their doors and violating their deeply held beliefs.

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This has already happened. In 2006, Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination laws pushed Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the nation’s oldest adoption agencies, to leave the adoption business in order to uphold its religious convictions about marriage and family. More recently, an Arizona-based Internet adoption registry was forced to stop providing adoption services to Californians after the company was sued for refusing to provide services to a same-sex couple.

Clearly, laws should be passed protecting the moral and religious rights of adoption agencies, which should be able to help children find the loving homes they need without violating their deeply-held religious convictions about marriage and family

In summary, adoption is an important Christian concern. If we as believers are to fulfill our biblical mandate to care for orphans, we must support initiatives that: encourage adoption; advocate policies that promote the well-being of children, parents, and families; and reject measures that negate the best interest of children, deny God’s design for the family or threaten the moral rights of adoption services.

How many Martyr’s are required to just Live?

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‘This Is Going to Ruin My Entire Life’: 18-Year-Old Aspiring Firefighter Charged With Felony for Pocket Knife

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Some of the most important decisions we face in life involve ethical or moral questions. As individuals, we all face life-shaping ethical choices such as: What kind of person do I want to be? What values should I live by? How should I treat others? and What should my priorities in life be? As a society, we also confront fundamental and inescapable moral choices: When, if ever, is war morally justifiable? Should the death penalty be legal? Should all citizens have the same basic rights? When is it legitimate for government to restrict individual liberty? What is a just society?

Law also raises issues of fundamental importance: Does the U.S. Constitution guarantee a right to abortion? Does the death penalty violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments”? Should preferential treatment in employment and university admissions decisions be legal? Do bans on gay marriage violate the Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws”? Does the CIA’s rough handling (some would say torture) of suspected terrorists constitute a “war crime” under international law?

Because law and morality play such crucial roles in human affairs, it’s important to be able to think critically about them. A branch of philosophy that seeks to clarify moral concepts and answer questions about what is right or wrong, or morally good or bad. Our main focus will be on moral arguments. A moral argument is an argument that includes at least one moral statement. A moral statement is a claim that asserts that something is good or bad, right or wrong, or has some other ethical quality (e.g., being just, admirable, or blameworthy). Moral statements are normative statements, that is, statements that claim that something has or lacks a certain value, or should or should not be done. Not all normative statements are moral statements. If I say, for example, that Paris is a more beautiful city than London, I am not saying anything about the comparative moral qualities of the two cities.

If I say that it’s a shame that the law has propelled to a level that makes “martyrs” of its citizens that is a moral statement and that is what I feel is happening in our society in reference to the laws that are making all our youths become in jeopardy of living a quality life.

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Eighteen year-old Jordan Wiser is training to be a firefighter. He’s a certified emergency vehicle operator who works as a first responder when he’s not attending high school. And, after just spending 13 days in jail, he’s now facing felony charges for weapons possession.

The weapon? A pocketknife. It was in his EMT vest, and he uses it to cut through seatbelts when he’s practicing saving lives.

How did this happen? According to The Huffington Post, administrators at Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus in Jefferson, Ohio, where Wiser is enrolled, approached the student after someone informed them about videos Wiser had uploaded to YouTube. The videos include reviews of video games and merchandise, demonstrations on home-defense tactics, and an interview with a local police officer. Officials searched Wiser’s car in the school parking lot and found an assortment of items, including a pocketknife, a stun gun, and two Airsoft pellet guns. Wiser said the Airsoft guns were in his trunk because he planned to participate in the sport after school. The stun gun was locked in his glove compartment for self-defense. The pocketknife was inside his EMT medical vest.

For the possession of the pocketknife alone, police arrested and jailed Wiser for 13 days for conveying a weapon onto school grounds—a felony under Ohio law.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time anyone has written about teenagers victimized by weapons ordinances. Last year, Cobb County, Georgia police arrested and charged 17-year-old Cody Chitwood with a felony for bringing weapons into a school zone. The weapons were fishing knives, and they were in his truck, in a tackle box.

At first glance, such weapons ordinances sound sensible. But the criminal law contains the harshest punishments the state metes out, and it should be applied in a proportionate manner. Simply put, it’s absurd to ruin a kid’s life over a pocketknife that he uses to save lives.

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Perhaps additional facts will come to light. But, as it stands, this incident looks like a shameful exercise of prosecutorial discretion—something of which residents of Ashtabula County should take note come November, when the county’s prosecutor, Nicholas Iarocci, is up for re-election. Unless Iarocci’s office is saving some damning revelation for Wiser’s trial, the charges against this young man are unjustified, and should be dropped before they cause him any more suffering.

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The results of any person getting a felony today are equal to becoming a martyr of a new sought designed by the corrupt politicians and socialist of America. From California to New York, Texas to Michigan, a record number of convicted criminals are either being released from cells or serving time in community-based programs as states, under pressure to cut costs, adopt new philosophies on how to handle nonviolent offenders and many inmates incarcerated in the 1970s and ’80s near the end of their terms. In some cases, lawsuits designed to reduce overcrowding are forcing authorities to open prison doors as well.

These days roughly 700,000 ex-cons are hitting US streets each year – a new high, according to Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based advocacy group. While the vast majority of the inmates are nonviolent, some, like Corralez, served sentences for serious crimes and are now winning parole in higher numbers.

The result is an unprecedented test – of authorities’ ability to monitor the newly released prisoners, of social service groups’ capacity to help them forge new lives, of the inmates’ willingness to start over, of communities’ tolerance to let them do so.

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Jason Corralez donned a freshly pressed collared shirt. He had shaved neatly around his salt-and-pepper goatee. He looked like a man about to go on a job interview, which he was. It was a job he desperately wanted, but one question gnawed at him: Would they be willing to hire a convicted murderer?

Mr. Corralez had one advantage as he applied for the position at Trader Joe’s in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Both his brother-in-law and nephew worked at the grocery store. But as his wife drove him to the interview, Corralez was worried about that question on the application that asked if he had ever been convicted of a felony. He had written: “Will discuss during interview.”

When he arrived at the store, the manager queried him about his résumé. Corralez went through his work experience, which all happened to be from his time in prison, where he had been since he was 17: upholstery work, yard maintenance, small engine repair, clerical tasks. “I explained my job experience,” he says. “All the courses I took – anger management, morals and values.”

Corralez didn’t leave out why he went to prison, either. “I’m an ex-felon for the offense of second-degree murder,” he told the manager. A former member of The Mob Crew, an East Los Angeles gang, he served 24 years for killing a member of the rival MS-13 gang in a drive-by shooting. “This is the person I was,” he said, “and this is the person I am now.”

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According to Corralez, the manager stepped back, stunned. “Thank you for being honest,” Corralez recalls him saying. As the ex-prisoner walked to the bus stop, he knew what it meant. “I took everything that I had accomplished, everything that I had to do to get a second chance,” he says. “But I could see it in his reaction. It was like the nail in the coffin.”

Corralez’s struggle to transition from prisoner to free member of society is one that thousands of inmates across the country are going through as states trim their prison populations on a scale unseen in American history.

God’s Way or Man’s Way: Comments That Will Shock Today’s Young Women

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President Obama presents Presidential Medals of Freedom

President Barack Obama and feminist Gloria Steinem before Steinem received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

Liberal feminist icon Gloria Steinem turns 80 today. She once said that “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

Yet for all her talk about equality and rights, one right she worked diligently to deny millions of both sexes was the right to be born and celebrate birthdays of their own. Once again, in her view, a “woman’s right” trumped the rights of another—in this case, an unborn child.

The fact the Supreme Court is hearing a case today about employers being forced to include abortion-inducing drugs in their health plans—even if it violates an employer’s conscience—is in many respects a testament to the work of Steinem and others. It’s a good example of how the “equal rights” she championed result in stepping on the rights of others.

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The liberal sisterhood railed against a society they said encouraged women to stay at home and raise children. They demanded the marketplace open up more opportunities for women and pay them the same as men. Fine. But what about women who choose differently?

Today’s young women are empowered to choose career, family, and all sorts of combinations of both. But the words of Steinem and other liberal feminists revealed what they believed about American women…

Steinem: “[Housewives] are dependent creatures who are still children…parasites.”

Simone DE Beauvoir: “No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”

Betty Friedan: “[Housewives] are mindless and thing-hungry…not people. [Housework] is peculiarly suited to the capacities of feeble-minded girls. [It] arrests their development at an infantile level, short of personal identity with an inevitably weak core of self…. [Housewives] are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps. [The] conditions which destroyed the human identity of so many prisoners were not the torture and brutality, but conditions similar to those which destroy the identity of the American housewife.”

Steinem has never been a fan of women who didn’t think like her or buy in to her radical feminist political agenda. “Having someone who looks like us but thinks like them (meaning men) is worse than having no one at all.”
So much for tolerance—and the belief that women are individuals who should be free to think and make choices for themselves.

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The administration says a victory for the companies would prevent women who work for them from making decisions about birth control based on what’s best for their health, not whether they can afford it. The government’s supporters point to research showing that nearly one-third of women would change their contraceptive if cost were not an issue; a very effective means of birth control, the intrauterine device, can cost up to $1,000.

“Women already have an income gap. If these companies prevail, they’ll have a health insurance gap, too,” said Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center.

The Game of Life

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Romans 12:2
The Message (MSG)
Place Your Life Before God

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

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Life is a game just like all of the other games. The only difference is that life is the only game that we don’t realize is a game. Each of us has made up, largely unconsciously, a set of rules (our values)–based on our worldview and our beliefs–and we think our rules are right and inherently true. And everyone else’s is wrong. Well, sorry to break the bad news to you but, our rules aren’t right and theirs aren’t wrong.

I’m not suggesting that we do anything different than what we are already doing, all I’m suggesting is that we acknowledge that what we think is real, is actually a game. We made up the rules and now we can play the “game of life” full out; we can be happy when we “win” and dissatisfied when we “lose.” But realize it is only because we said so> And here’s the bottom line; It is always possible to remember that we made up the rules, even if they were made up unconsciously and adopted largely by osmosis form our culture and our parents. And when we do that, we can also remember that events have no inherent meaning, at which point the pain and suffering result from”losing at the game of life” can be dissolved on the spot.

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All of us have a story. Many of the chapters have already been written by choices that we have made, situations that we have encountered and by people that we have met. Our story is filled with challenges that attempt to stretch us to our limit; pressures that pull the energy right out of our soul. We grope around looking for direction and at times the only voice we hear is the negative voice calling us back into our painful past.

So we have to make a decision. Do we risk going into a future filled with more uncertainty or do we retreat into the painful past just because it’s familiar?

The Old Testament contains a story of a group of people who were oppressed, mistreated, and demoralized. At one point in their lives they were enjoying peace and success, but circumstances changes and they found themselves enslaved to a foreign government. Their days were filled with hard labor and unrealistic expectations. In their despair, they cried out to God for help.

God heard their cry and sent a deliverer. His name was Moses. Through a series of miraculous events, Moses led this group of slaves out of Egypt. They were headed to a new land filled with new opportunity, but something happened in the process. Their road to success took an unexpected turn.

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Exodus 14:8-16
The Message (MSG)
8-9 God made Pharaoh king of Egypt stubborn, determined to chase the Israelites as they walked out on him without even looking back. The Egyptians gave chase and caught up with them where they had made camp by the sea—all Pharaoh’s horse-drawn chariots and their riders, all his foot soldiers there at Pi Hahiroth opposite Baal Zephon.

10-12 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them—Egyptians! Coming at them!

They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.’”

13 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.

14 God will fight the battle for you.
And you? You keep your mouths shut!”
15-16 God said to Moses: “Why cry out to me? Speak to the Israelites. Order them to get moving. Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea: Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground.

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Are You Experiencing Narcissism As A Christian?

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So, In my examination of self this morning I am looking at the topic called Christian Narcissism. The bible strongly admonishes us to examine oneself ( 2 Corinthians 13:5). In this examination I found key discrepancies within my own temple. There are several point of views within this topic, especially related to Christianity. Instead of taking the critics standpoint I will take the optimistic and see what I can do to change myself from the erosion of my personality and witness to the world.

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Narcissism , Freudian term, drawn from the Greek myth of Narcissus, indicating an exclusive self-absorption. In psychoanalysis, narcissism is considered a normal stage in the development of children. It is known as secondary narcissism when it occurs after puberty, and is said to indicate a libidinal energy directed exclusively toward oneself. A degree of narcissism is considered normal, where an individual has a healthy self-regard and realistic aspirations. The condition becomes pathological, and diagnosable as a personality disorder, when it significantly impairs social functioning. An individual with narcissistic personality disorder tends to harbor an exaggerated sense of his own self-importance and uniqueness. He is often excessively occupied with fantasies about his own attributes and potential for success, and usually depends upon others for reinforcement of his self-image. A narcissist tends to have difficulties maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships, stemming largely from a lack of empathy and a propensity for taking advantage of others in the interest of self-aggrandizement. It is often found in combination with antisocial personality disorder.


Narcissism describes the trait of excessive self-love, based on self-image or ego.
The term is derived from the Greek mythology of Narcissus. Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.

In psychology and psychiatry, excessive narcissism is recognized as a severe personality dysfunction or personality disorder, most characteristically Narcissistic personality disorder, also referred to as NPD.

Sigmund Freud believed that some narcissism is an essential part of all of us from birth and was the first to use the term in the reference to psychology.

Andrew Morrison claims that, in adults, a reasonable amount of healthy narcissism allows the individual’s perception of his needs to be balanced in relation to others.

The terms narcissism , narcissistic, and narcissist are often used as pejoratives, denoting vanity, conceit, egotism or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.

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Celebrating narcissism
Dandyism
A dandy is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and the cultivation of leisurely hobbies. Some dandies, especially in Britain in the late 18th and 19th century, strove to affect aristocratic values even though many came from common backgrounds. Thus, a dandy could be considered a kind of snob.

“A Dandy is a clothes-wearing Man, a Man whose trade, office and existence consists in the wearing of Clothes. Every faculty of his soul, spirit, purse, and person is heroically consecrated to this one object, the wearing of Clothes wisely and well: so that the others dress to live, he lives to dress…And now, for all this perennial Martyrdom, and Poesy, and even Prophecy, what is it that the Dandy asks in return? Solely, we may say, that you would recognise his existence; would admit him to be a living object; or even failing this, a visual object, or thing that will reflect rays of light…”

Narcissism is the term used in psychology to describe a preoccupation with self. It is a Greek term taken from the name of the mythological Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image and was doomed to die because he would not turn away from it. A narcissist is a person who displays a high level of selfishness, vanity, and pride. He sees everything from a “how does this affect me?” perspective. Empathy is impossible for the narcissist because his only perspective is the one centered on self. In psychology, narcissism is seen as a broad spectrum of conditions ranging from normal to pathological.

The Bible says that we are born sinful since the fall (Romans 5:12). This means that we are born with only sinful tendencies and no ability to be “good” or righteous on our own. What we call “human nature” the Bible calls “the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21). Part of our sin nature is a total focus on self. This focus, also called “egocentrism,” is how babies see and experience the world. Narcissism is like egocentrism in that the adult still relates to the world like an infant, a perspective that impedes personal growth and relationships.

Psychological theories about narcissism suggest that the narcissistic person uses defense mechanisms to idealize self so that he does not have to face his own mistakes (sin) or flaws (fallen state). The diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder outlines the behavior patterns of a narcissistic person as being haughty, non-empathetic, manipulative, and envious; he also possesses a sense of entitlement and grandiosity. From a biblical perspective, it is clear that these heart conditions are due to pride, which is sin (Proverbs 16:18). The Bible tells us to “look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). The narcissist routinely disobeys this command.

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Pride is a reason people do not feel they need a savior or forgiveness. Pride tells them they are “good” people or have a “good” heart. Pride also blinds people to their own personal responsibility and accountability for sin. Narcissism (pride) masks sin, whereas the gospel reveals the truth that leads to remorse for sin. Narcissistic traits can be dangerous because, at their worst, they will lead a person to destroy others to satisfy the lust of the flesh (2 Timothy 3:2-8).

The Bible addresses the issues related to narcissism as part of our sinful natural self (Romans 7:5). We are slaves to the flesh until we place our faith in Jesus, who sets the captives free (Romans 7:14-25; John 8:34-36). Believers are then slaves to righteousness as the Holy Spirit begins the transforming work of sanctification in their lives. However, believers must surrender to the Lord and humble themselves in order to have God’s perspective rather than a selfish one (Mark 8:34). The process of sanctification is turning away from self (narcissism) and turning toward Jesus.

All people are narcissists until they either learn how to cover it and get along in the world or until they recognize their own flesh and repent of their sin. The Lord helps people to grow out of narcissism when they receive Jesus as their savior (Romans 3:19-26). The believer is empowered to begin loving others as himself (Mark 12:31).

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I am inclined to believe that there is an epidemic of narcissism taking place as we speak in the world in Hollywood, churches, home and communities alike. I see from my perspective a prevalent outbreak within my community of interest “gangbangers” and the “disenfranchised” families and their children.

The narcissism epidemic involves two related processes. The first is the rise in narcissism among individuals, and the second is the change in the larger culture’s values, beliefs, and practices. I hope to address the cultural-level change one day soon as I further study and evaluate myself.

An epidemic is usually declared when more individuals are affected than would be expected in a population. If we use the recent past to formulate those expectations, there is clearly an epidemic of narcissism.

We know that narcissism has increased over time among individuals based on several datasets. College students now endorse more narcissistic traits than college students did in the 1980s and 1990s; in one large sample the change seemed to be accelerating after 2002. An Internet sample of the general population also showed higher narcissism scores among younger people than older people. Perhaps most disturbing, a 2005 study using a large, randomly selected sample of Americans found that nearly 1 out of 10 people in their twenties had experienced NPD — the more severe, clinical-level form of the trait. Only 1 out of 30 people over 64 had experienced NPD in their lifetime — even though they had lived 40 more years than the people in their twenties and thus had that much more time to experience the disorder. This suggests a large increase in NPD over time.

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How did we get here?

There is no single cause of the narcissism epidemic; instead we point to several contributing factors in life. Admiring oneself is now considered crucial to success in life. This began in earnest in the 1970s, became more influential with the self-esteem movement in the 1980s and 1990s, and today is taken for granted in American culture. We see this in slogans like “You have to love yourself before you can love others” and at preschools with young children singing, “I am special/Look at me.”

At the core of narcissism is the fantasy that you are better than you really are (and better than those around you). Any process that allows that fantasy to exist despite the less glamorous reality is an opportunity for narcissism to thrive. For example, the Internet allows people to create phony images of themselves and seek fame and attention. Easy credit has allowed average Americans to pretend they are wealthy and successful (at least until the foreclosure sign went up). The inflation of grades and other feedback in schools has lets kids believe they are better students than they really are. And the list goes on.

Finally, the explosion of shallow celebrity culture promotes narcissism as not just acceptable but desirable. Celebrity gossip and happenings are now found on mainstream news channels. The social models we see are often advertisements for a narcissistic lifestyle.

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Has the narcissism epidemic affected everyone?

Yes and no. No, not everyone is narcissistic. But the epidemic has sucked in non-narcissistic people too. At one time, only Hollywood types did things like get plastic surgery, whiten their teeth, and shape their eyebrows; now these appearance enhancers have trickled down to ordinary people. And many humble people have had to deal with the consequences of working with, dating, or otherwise associating with a narcissist at one time or another.

The epidemic has reached most groups in society. The trend appears in poor neighborhoods and rich ones, in all regions of the U.S., and across many different ethnic groups. As I continue my search for truth I will read the book called, the epidemic — now strongest in North America — also appears to be spreading to many cultures around the world.

There was one difference by group: Most data shows that the increase in narcissism is larger among girls and women. Males still score higher on narcissistic traits than females on average, but girls and women are catching up. This is not entirely surprising in an era of pedicure parties for 5-year-olds and breast implants for high school graduation. As parents of girls, we’re scared too.

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Isn’t narcissism necessary in an increasingly competitive world?

Some degree of self-promotion is more necessary now than it was in the past. However, there is a big difference between being able to talk about your strengths at a job interview and talking about how great you are to your wife, kids, co-workers and anyone else who will listen. Not only is this kind of pervasive narcissism not necessary, but it will hurt you in the long run. Narcissists also tend to be overconfident and take too many risks. This works great during boom times but causes spectacular failure when things turn south. (If you remember 2008, this might sound familiar.)

A California measure to reduce prison overcrowding reveals how America is, once again, failing some of its most vulnerable.

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I am impregnating myself with the faith required to see Second Chance Alliance, The business God has given my wife and I visions of to come alive for the reason of this article. So many people who are not affected by veterans who are denied mental health and felons who are in need of housing and health care they don’t find compassion for these people. But my wife and I having had to suffer on both ends of this spectrum find it necessary to open a place that will empower disenfranchised people and homeless vets. We find it most imperative to help society help these people.

Please pray for us to get the funding and people who have skills to help us encourage, empower, develop and guide to hope that is everlasting and not just shubbing a pill down their throat without a support system of professionals and recovered individuals who have beaten the odds. That’s what we want Second Chance Alliance for.

When Lockinvar Jacobs stepped off the bus at L.A.’s Union Station last summer, he wasn’t quite sure where to go. The 49-year-old schizophrenic had just been released from state prison, where he’d done a five-year bid for felony drug sales. It wasn’t his first time getting out of the big house; he told me, when we spoke recently, that he’s spent between 16 and 20 years of his life behind bars for drugs and other nonviolent felonies, such as burglary. He couldn’t be sure of the exact number, he said, because the Haldol and other meds have clouded his memory. What he was sure about was that this last time, he was released without his medication.

Jacobs had less than 48 hours to report to a county probation officer; if he failed to appear, he could face “flash incarceration,” meaning he’d get tossed into L.A. County Jail for a week or two. California prisons provide up to $200 gate money for release-es, but Jacobs needed clothes before he left the prison, for which the state had charged him $43. With $157 left over, his first stop would be a Skid Row shelter he knew well. There, he was told the probation office was several miles and city bus rides away. His cash didn’t last long. “I wasn’t very smart at handling my money,” he told me, a coy smile lighting up an otherwise hangdog expression. But he was able to report on time.

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At the probation office, an on-site Department of Mental Health worker gave him a referral to a doctor but no medication. Like approximately half of those who get a mental health referral from DMH, Jacobs didn’t make it to his appointment. Without his meds, he had one of the “nervous breakdowns” he’s been experiencing since the 10th grade, some of which have required long-term hospitalization. Wandering Skid Row for hours in a speechless stupor, taunted by voices in his head, dehydrated by Southern California’s hot autumn sun, Jacobs collapsed to the sidewalk and sat against a wall, nearly catatonic, until someone finally called the cops.

California holds the distinction of having more prisoners than any other state and is sixth per capita (Louisiana tops the list). Even that is no small feat when you consider that the U.S. has the highest per capita incarceration rate of any country in the world, with more than 1.5 million inside state or federal prison walls at any given time. The Golden State, as people like Jacobs have learned, is more like the Gulag State.

Most of California’s prisoners, on whom it spends at least four times as much as it does on its K–12 students, are caged near outposts like Lompoc or Fresno or facilities far enough away from population and media centers that it’s easy to forget they exist. The number of prisoners reached such levels that by 2006, California was embroiled in two class action suits alleging that the overcrowded conditions in which the state was housing its convicts prevented the Department of Corrections from providing adequate health care. This, the suits alleged, violated the ban on cruel and unusual punishment in the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Brown v. Plata, the case consolidated from the two class actions, went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered the state to thin the ranks of its prisoners to a still-crowded but barely acceptable 137.5 percent of total capacity.

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That was in the summer of 2011. In October of the same year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 109, the intent of which was to reduce the state’s burden by shifting responsibility for many prisoners to California’s 58 counties. Contrary to popular belief, A.B. 109 did not call for the early release of prisoners. Rather, state prisoners whose most recent crimes—the ones for which they were doing time—were nonviolent, nonsexual, and nonserious felonies (called N3 crimes) are now turned over to the counties that prosecuted them. (To be sure, this includes N3s who have committed past crimes that were more serious. This glitch in the law has been widely criticized, especially in light of a murder committed by a homeless man on the streets of Hollywood not long after his release.)

Some 18,000 ex-cons have come back to Los Angeles County since the passage of A.B. 109. Of those 18,000, an astonishing 8,300 are in the county’s Department of Mental Health database because of some history of mental illness, be it garden-variety depression or anxiety, PTSD, personality disorders, or schizophrenia.

As A.B. 109ers have surged into L.A. County in the last couple of years, the law has revealed a dirty secret that most in the United States, including its elected officials, would rather not confront: The prison system has become the mental health system. Funding for rehabilitation programs was cut in recent decades amid a frenzy of law-and-order vindictiveness and with little regard for how it might affect recidivism, crime rates, or costs. Meanwhile, mental health treatment is valued less by the health care system than treatment for maladies occurring below the neck. So it should be no surprise that mentally ill criminal offenders, sometimes referred to by the acronym “MICOs,” aren’t getting very good treatment either in prison or after they’ve done their time.

Former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy is the author of 2008’s Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which sought to force health insurance companies to offer better coverage of mental health. “While the old model of warehousing the mentally ill [in psych wards] might seem like ancient history,” he says, “history has in fact repeated itself in the context of prison.”

Had someone like Lockinvar Jacobs committed a crime in certain other countries, things would have been different. In England, for example, he’d have been sent to one of many new “diversion sites,” where proper treatment is available. In a country such as Finland or Denmark, a mentally ill offender would have received a different sentence in the first place, or no sentence at all, and been sent to a treatment center.

Jacobs was lucky enough to be taken to a hospital after he collapsed on Skid Row, where he got his prescription filled and received IV nutrition during a 15-day stay for observation. On release, he could have wound up in any number of scenarios: the street, a shelter, a halfway house with full services for the mentally ill (called a step-down facility), or, if things had really spiraled, a lockdown psychiatric ward. The Department of Mental Health referred him to the Amity Foundation, which houses and feeds some 50 A.B. 109ers among its clientele of 200 other destitute individuals.

Four days a week, Jacobs makes the hour-long round-trip bus-and-foot journey to Project 180, a treatment center that receives funding through A.B. 109 and provides programs in basic life skills such as hygiene and use of public transportation, as well as individual and group therapy.

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Janet, who’s spent half her life in prison, hears voices in her head when she’s off her medication. How could she be expected to show up for appointments, stick to her meds, and stay out of trouble without regular therapy and guidance?

While Amity can be lenient with time limits, other providers have to send clients away after six months. Jacobs could soon be on the street, where he’s less likely to get his meds, more prone to schizophrenic episodes, and more likely to re-offend. If he slips up, he’ll be sent to L.A. County Jail. There, he’d get his meds, but on release he’d be out on the streets again, this time with nothing but the clothes on his back and a paper prescription, which he’d then need to have filled.

Amity Foundation’s California vice president, Mark Faucette, arranged for me to interview half a dozen mentally ill A.B. 109ers. Gathered around a boardroom table, they told me their criminal and mental health histories. There was Janet, a 45-year-old Latina who’d spent half her life in prison, serving six terms for drug possession or sales charges. She told me she hears voices in her head when she’s off her medication, and by her vacant stare, I didn’t doubt it. We spoke about her many transgressions, which had earned her a term in prison, followed by a recent stint in L.A. County Jail for selling dope to feed her habit. (She certainly wasn’t feeding herself; Janet looked life-threateningly thin.) “When I got out of jail this time I still didn’t have no medication,” she said. “I [couldn’t] see a psych doctor until a month later. I don’t think that shouldn’t be like that.”

It may be easy to dismiss the claims of a mentally ill drug addict who’s spent so much time in prison, but even if Janet was bending the truth, it was clear that the odds were against her. Getting out of prison can be a challenge for the most able-minded among us. Marginalized or locked up long ago, many have no family, no resources, and no home.

Troy Vaughn, chief program officer at Lamp Community, a homeless-services provider, explained it to me this way: “If I’ve been incarcerated for a period of time, even if it was a year, I come out and society looks different,” he said. “That’s one barrier that I have to address.” Making things more difficult, A.B. 109ers must now navigate county red tape, rather than state agencies they’ve grown accustomed to while cycling through the system. Mental illness compounds these challenges, says Vaughn, a former Marine who was homeless and addicted to drugs and spent nearly a year in L.A. County Jail in the early 1990s. Anyone whose sanity has been challenged by a trip to the DMV can relate to that idea.

Hearing Janet talk underscored what Vaughn had told me. She seemed to barely understand the difference between state parole and county probation, and without help from Faucette, her explanation of how she’d navigated various state bureaucracies would have been incomprehensible. How, I wondered, could someone like Janet be expected to show up for appointments, stick to a regimen of meds, and stay out of trouble without regular, maybe even daily, therapy and guidance?

Antoinette had a slightly easier time. As instructed, she went straight to the probation office after her release; she told me she was put on a two-week waiting list to get an appointment to re-up her meds. With nowhere to go, she managed to find housing through a friend until she was referred to Amity.

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Troy Vaughn, himself an ex-con with mental health and substance abuse disorders, now directs programs at a community advocacy organization. He says he’s “living proof” that rehabilitation and treatment are preferable to incarceration for the mentally ill.

I also met Anthony, a schizophrenic with a history of crack addiction who had a hard time remembering the most basic recent events of his life.

So old and co-occurring were George’s disorders that he wasn’t sure if the meth caused the voices in his head or if he used the drug to quiet them.

As recently as the early 1960s, MICOs like the ones Amity is trying to help would have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward, the type of place that was famously, and accurately, portrayed in the book and film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. That began to change in 1963, when John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act, the intent of which was to fund local services so those in need could avoid such a fate. The mentally ill, JFK memorably said, had for too long been “alien to our affections.”

Similar congressional measures followed, but funding didn’t, leaving few resources for the mentally ill. With the best intentions, California in the late 1960s passed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which practically did away with involuntary commitment in the state. Trouble was, it left many vulnerable Californians to depend on a disintegrating mental health care system. Suddenly, the streets became a de facto mental hospital—with no staff. What happened next is no surprise. As the psychiatrist Marc Abramson wrote, law enforcement began to “regard arrest and booking into jail as a more reliable way of securing involuntary detention of mentally disordered persons.”

Under President Reagan, federal funding for mental hospitals dwindled and the cycle continued. With fewer community services in place, mentally ill criminal offenders began finding themselves on the street and then behind bars, where a culture of chaos, stigmatization, and abuse by prisoners and guards would exacerbate their afflictions.

When God Cleans House

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Jonah 1

New International Version (NIV)

Jonah Flees From the Lord

1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

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Ephesians 4:31

New International Version (NIV)

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

God did some fall housecleaning this week. He sent a mighty wind through our neighborhood that made the trees tremble and shake loose their deed branches. When it finished, I had a mess to clean up.

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In my own life, God sometimes works in a similar way. He will send or allow stormy circumstances that shake loose the “lifeless branches” I’ve been refusing to release. Sometimes it’s something that once was good, like an area of ministry, but is no longer bearing fruit. More often it’s something that’s not good, like a bad habit I’ve slid into or a stubborn attitude that prevents new growth.

The old Testament prophet Jonah discovered what can happen when one refuses to get rid of a stubborn attitude. His hatred for the Ninevites was stronger than his love for God, so God sent a great storm that landed Jonah in a giant fish. God preserved the reluctant prophet in that unlikely place and gave him a second chance to obey.

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The lifeless limbs in my yard caused me to think of attitudes that God expects me to dispose of. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians list some of them: bitterness, anger, and evil speech. When God shakes things up, we need to get rid of what shakes loose.

Lord, In the name of Jesus, give me a listening heart and help me to cooperate with you when you point out changes that need to be made in my life. I want to honor you and please you.

Christ’s cleansing power can remove the most stubborn stain of sin…..

Christians need to be more than just consumers

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Three months after my house arrest sabbatical, I realized I had a problem. I was stomach down on my living room floor with my laptop sprawled in front of my face, and I was desperate for something to read.

The problem was, I’d already read 14 articles, and it wasn’t even 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

I had to ask myself in that moment: what is so alluring about reading six different articles about Miley Cyrus and her downward spiral? Why am I reading a film review of Fast and Furious 6 when I decided at age 13, after seeing 2 Fast, 2 Furious, that I was too old for anything involving Paul Walker?

I realized after a little introspection that I was doing it for a number of complex reasons. It wasn’t so much about the content in these articles, video clips and GIF-addled lists, but the feeling of being in the know about something. It was about feeling smart and separate from the nonsense, as if reading about the vanities of artists and the vacuity Hollywood made me, in some way, above it all. All the information made me feel like I had a little more control of my place in a culture that’s becoming more confusing and disheartening every day.
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And yet, where was I? On the floor, my nose buried in my newsfeed.

Please, don’t misunderstand this as a critique of technology, or of our excess of information. The problem is not that we have too many ways to waste time, but that we choose to waste it. When a glutton gorges himself on a pound of chocolate in a half- hour, you don’t blame the chocolate. You blame the glutton.

The problem is that our new excess of information and the infinite ways to access it makes consumption feel like action. And as Christians who are called to be “in the world but not of the world,” the pull is just as strong, if not stronger.
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Our ability to critique secular culture from an arm’s lengths makes it easy to feel like we know absolutely everything about “that world out there”—that secular world—to know every bit of its brokenness, and just leave it there to fester.

This may seem hypocritical, since admittedly I’m adding yet another article to the swarm of online information, and I’m asking you to read it. My only hope is that these words inspire exactly what I think is the solution to our consumption epidemic: creativity.

Of course, the real solution is, and always will be, Christ. With any arising cultural conundrum, it’s of the utmost—no—it’s of eternal importance that our faith in God and His promises is the foundation of our solution. And it seems to me that this conundrum in particular—this tendency among young, social media-savvy evangelicals to consume information about the depravity of our culture like Cookie Monster at an Oreo Factory, only to belch out the same tired critiques—comes down to our understanding of the Kingdom of God and how it’s made.

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As long as we’re standing in the space between Christ’s resurrection and His return, when his Kingdom will come fully, we have some responsibilities. While there is infinite cause for lament and for desperate cries of Christ’s return, Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God as something that is cultivated through our faithful, persistent work. Though we’re not responsible for its ultimate arrival, we are responsible for what N.T. Wright calls “building for God’s Kingdom:”

“What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future.”

You might have noticed that “tweeting” is suspiciously absent from that list. What we should note, however, is that Wright also leaves out “criticizing,” which is precisely what the saturation of information, and of ways to access it, welcomes and encourages.

Isn’t there more to building for God’s Kingdom than merely articulating what’s wrong with the crumbling shanty-town that is Pop Culture? Pointing out ugliness is easy. Making beauty is the hard part.

I think “building for God’s Kingdom,” if you’ll grant me the liberty of redefining our terms, is synonymous with what you could call creating a culture that reflects God’s Kingdom. And I believe people, both on an individual and a communal level, play a fundamental role in determining the presiding culture.

People make the choice to either to respond negatively to the images put out by the media, or decide to create, build and work toward better ones. And if the Holy Spirit and our knowledge of a loving, redeeming Creator drives us, how much greater is our power to influence the culture around us?

Yes, we should be wary of the dominating culture’s depravity, but what if we were so focused on creating and cultivating our own culture of goodness and beauty that we could finally see the riff raff for what it is, and no longer felt so threatened by it?

This isn’t about taking a social media fast or turning a blind eye to the sad things about our culture that need to change. It’s about reversing the flow of what media excess encourages so that we can more effectively build for God’s Kingdom. We need to create first and consume second.

We need people who know that making is always better than taking.
Our access to a million different viewpoints, images, and snippets of information threatens to turn us all into quasi-critics of everything and creators of nothing. And while there is a place for critics (see: Prophets), the last thing the Kingdom needs is a million not-so-good ones.

We need poets who write good poems, engineers who build sound bridges, bakers who make delicious bread. We need people who approach their work, play, and relationships like a fresco painter approaches the freshly erected walls of a sanctuary: with the care, passion and joy that comes with knowing his work will last into the coming of the Kingdom. We need people who know that making is always better than taking.

It’s easier than ever to devour every piece of insight and information on the Internet and mistake the feeling of oversaturation for satisfaction. But in the end, the only things that bring satisfaction are things where the sole purpose is the active worship of God.

So, if reading 15 articles a day is what it takes for you to get up and praise God with your mind and hands and words, then by all means, do that. But in my experience, gorging myself on data and online criticism never makes me want to love more or build anything at all. It just makes me a pseudo-expert in how and why things fall apart.

And if we’re truly “building for the Kingdom,” we should be far more concerned with how we can make things come together.

Pressed, but Not Crushed

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2 Corinthians 12:10

The Message (MSG)

7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
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Bathyspheres are amazing inventions. Operating like miniature submarines, they have been used to explore the ocean in places so deep the water pressure would crush a conventional submarine as easily as if it were an aluminum can, Bathyspheres compensate for the intense water pressure with plates of steel several inches thick. The steel keeps the water out, but it also makes a bathysphere heavy and difficult to maneuver. The space inside is cramped, allowing for only one or two people to survey the ocean floor by looking through a tiny plate-glass window.

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What divers invariably find at every depth of the ocean are fish and other sea creatures. Some of these creatures are quite small and appear to have fairly normal skin. They look flexible and supple as they swim through the inky waters. How can they live at these depths without steel plating? They compensate for the outside pressure through equal and opposite pressure on the inside.

Spiritual fortitude works in the same way. The more negative the circumstances around us, the more we need to allow God’s power to work within us to exert an equal and opposite pressure from the inside. With God on the inside, no pressure on earth can crush us!

It is not enough to begin; continuance is necessary. Success depends upon staying power. Abiding in the word and prayer is the way to have strength to deal with the pressures of life.

How Culturally Sound Is America On This Issue?

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Although Gosnell was charged with eight counts of murder, witnesses have testified he murdered over 100 babies over three decades. If true, this would rank Gosnell as one of the top five known serial killers worldwide of the 20th and 21st Centuries by victim count.

But if you only tune in to broadcast t.v. news, you will have never even heard the name “Gosnell.” According to an April 4 open letter demanding coverage of the Gosnell trial from 20 conservative leaders:

Since the Gosnell trial began three weeks ago, ABC, CBS, and NBC have given the story ZERO seconds of coverage on either their morning or evening news shows. They have not covered Gosnell once since his arrest in January 2011, and even then, only CBS did so.

Massof, who, like other witnesses, has himself pleaded guilty to serious crimes, testified “It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.” Here is the headline the Associated Press put on a story about his testimony that he saw 100 babies born and then snipped: “Staffer describes chaos at PA abortion clinic.”

The Washington Post has not published original reporting on this during the trial and The New York Times saw fit to run one original story on A-17 on the trial’s first day. They’ve been silent ever since, despite headline-worthy testimony.

And about that AP story Newsbusters’ Tom Blumer noted something peculiar:

AP has not applied the “abortion” tag to any of its 19 “Big Stories” about Kermit Gosnell.

Thus, anyone who attempts to do a tag search on the AP’s web site looking for uses of “abortion” won’t see anything about Gosnell – but they’ll see all kinds of reports about how mean social conservatives, supposedly backward states, and GOP presidential candidates are trying to curb “reproductive rights.”

If there’s an explanation for this practice other than to deliberately minimize readers’ potential exposure to the horrific practitioners, practices, and procedures in the abortion industry as it really operates, I can’t imagine what it would be.


The verdict is in: the jury found Dr. Kermit Gosnell guilty of first-degree murder – murder of three babies born alive while under his care in a so-called clinic he ran in Philadelphia. Abortionists like Gosnell – and the hypocrites at Planned Parenthood who turned a blind eye to his heinous crimes – are united against the sanctity of life.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday to block a new Alabama law that would force three of the state’s five abortion clinics to shut down. The law, like measures passed in Mississippi and North Dakota that are under challenge, would require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Proponents say it will protect patients in emergencies, but the clinics and prominent medical groups call it medically unnecessary and an unconstitutional effort to force the closing of the clinics in Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery, which rely on visiting doctors.

GAO opens investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayer money

The non-partisan Government Accountability Office confirmed Thursday it is launching an investigation into how the country’s largest abortion provider spent millions of taxpayer dollars.

Planned Parenthood received more than a half billion dollars in federal funding last year. The GAO’s investigation is in response to a request made by more than 50 members of Congress in February who asked for a detailed report on how money is being used by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers across the country.

Specifically, lawmakers want to know what procedures and services they provided and the number of people who were served and how much it cost.

The GAO’s investigation comes on the heels of a settlement involving a Texas affiliate of the organization, which paid $4.3 million in July to settle allegations of fraud in billing to a health program for the poor. The settlement was $3 million more than what had been announced earlier by the Texas Attorney General.

The charges were they falsified patient records, fabricated records and billed for services not even provided.

$4.3 million is a drop in the bucket. The reason they settled is they knew they’d be found guilty and didn’t want the negative publicity.

But even if none of this happened, this is NOT something that tax-payers should have to foot the bill for. The government should not be using tax-payer dollars to subsidize baby murder.
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Jesus on Current Events

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Luke 13

Repent or Perish

1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?

3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?

5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.

7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.

9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

Romans 2

God’s Righteous Judgment

1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.

3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a]

Did you hear about the Marine who declared he is a conscientious objector to the war in Iraq and went AWOL? He went to a press conference and said he did not believe in “peace through violence” and went on to blame his recruiter because his recruiter knew about his pacifist beliefs but failed to warn him of the violent nature of his training.

I don’t really want to talk with you about that Marine. I do want to talk about the nature of what I’ve just told you.

We like to have discussions like these. We like to talk about the things people do that don’t click with us. When I asked you if you heard about this “conscientious objector,” what was the real meaning of my question? Was I asking you to an open discussion about the validity of this guy’s actions? No. I’ve made up my mind. When you’re standing around the water cooler at work or out in the yard in the neighborhood and someone asks you if you heard about this thing or that on the news, they are most likely expressing their condemnation or bewilderment over what they’ve heard. Most often, it’s not that we’re looking for some honest dialogue to assess the situation. There is another meaning to our questions.

Most of the time, we bring up the outrageous or strange or fascinating or stupid things people do to shed light on them and take the spotlight off of us. We know the foolish things we do. Even more, we know the foolish things we think. So there is a sense, whether it be consciously or subconsciously, in which we are justifying ourselves by keeping before us and others the more outlandish things that other people do.

Why do people like Rush Limbaugh? Because he tends to say things they agree with. Why are Hollywood gossip columns and magazines so popular? Because the stars have everything in the world but still can’t make a relationship work. Doesn’t that make you feel better? The popularity of talk radio and sports radio and shows like Jerry Springer all point to the fact that we like to keep our eyes and divert everyone else’s attention to the people we think are a little more strange or a little more immoral than we are. It is a poor but popular means of self-justification.

I like the fact that the Holy Spirit saw fit to ensure that Luke was inspired to include the account in chapter 13. Someone in the crowd asked him about events that were happening in the world around him. It allows us to hear from Jesus about current events, tragedies, and evil dictators today.

Think about what questions we would ask him today? Is Operation Iraqi Freedom God’s way of judging Saddam Hussein for his tyranny? A militant Muslim would ask God the same about judgment on the United States. Was September 11 a warning of judgment against the United States, the city of New York, or capitalism? Can we look into the eyes of a camera with any kind of confidence and say, as Jerry Falwell did, “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen?” Can we say that? Is AIDS a plague from God to punish those who practice homosexuality? If so, what’s up with SARS, the new Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome? Does God want to punish the Asian people now?

Let’s make it more personal: “God, who’s right, me or my wife? Did you hear what she said to me? Did you see what he did to me?” Have you ever had that discussion?

When we ask these questions, are we really trying to submit to God’s will and sovereignty, or are we just trying to justify ourselves? Aren’t we just asking God to take sides or at least to condemn the actions of those whose behavior does not meet with our approval?

This all makes me think of all those times that the kids would come anxious to tell me what their brother or sister has done. “Dad, do you know what so-and-so did?” “Dad, you wouldn’t believe what she said to me!” You parents have any experience with this? Sometimes it happens when you’re a pastor too. “Pastor Jim, have you heard what brother so-and-so has been doing?”

I like to just look at my kids and say, “Really! How ‘bout if I beat ‘em? Would that make you feel better? You wanna watch?”

Sometimes I wonder if people would feel better if we bring back the stocks and put ‘em right up here in front of the church. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is cell leader Bob, and he failed to turn in his cell group report this week.” Then everyone else can sit in the church and feel better about themselves, thinking, “Whooooo, I’ve done some bad things but I’d never do that!”

It seems that someone in the crowd was looking for some self-justification when they caught Jesus’ attention in Luke 13:1. “Did you hear about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices?” Jesus saw right through their question. It may have sounded like they wanted to know if he knew about it and what he thought about it. His answer tells me he knew that they were looking for some condemnation—a little something that would divert his attention from their wickedness and on to the wickedness of others. They figured if Jesus would take a side, he would be on theirs.

But Jesus didn’t take a side. Instead, he answered the real meaning of their question. Notice what Jesus didn’t do. He didn’t condemn one side over another. He also didn’t comment on whether or not the tragedies were part of God’s judgment. Instead, he went straight to the heart of their question.

Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them– do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Lk 13:2-5, NIV)

Jesus was saying, “I know what you are trying to get me to say. You want me to condemn those Galileans as though the ones that died were picked out for judgment. You want me to tell you that those people crushed by the tower in Siloam were deserving of their fate. I’m not going to comment on them. Let’s talk about you. Unless you repent, all of you will also perish.”

That was not what they wanted to hear. He turned it around and addressed the real meaning of their question. He may very well have said, “whatever they’ve done will not justify you.”

What does Jesus’ answer say about you? First of all, it says that you are likewise sinful and guilty. You and I can point to all the Saddam Husseins in the world, but it would not make the stain of our sin any smaller. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” So, the truth is, we’re all lawbreakers in the eyes of God. Saddam is a lawbreaker. And likewise, so am I a lawbreaker. In that regard, we are no different. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”

Jesus’ answer also points out that we will likewise perish. The original language Luke used here to describe what Jesus said is “you will similarly perish.” Jesus makes a link between death and unrepentance. But does Jesus mean all death is punishment for not repenting? Is all violent deaths like those Galileans and the victims of the tower tragedy the result of punishment? What does Jesus mean when he says we will likewise perish?

Death sometimes comes slowly. Sometimes it sneaks up on us. Death can be cruel, as it was for the Galileans at the hands of Pilate, or it can be tragic, as in the deaths of those who were crushed under the weight of the tower. When Jesus said we will all similarly perish, he was not talking about the manner of death but the finality of it. It is destined for man to die once, and after that to face judgment.

Consider Paul’s words in Romans 2:

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” (Rom 2:1-6, NIV)

Unless we repent, the finality of death will surprise us.

There is also a lesson for triumphant living in Jesus’ answer and in what Paul has written. His answer warns us not to compare ourselves to other people. We can never justify ourselves by comparing. We can only condemn ourselves. If I condemn sin in you, then the sin in me is likewise condemned. Worse yet, when we make ourselves out to be better than others, we show contempt for God’s kindness and love, which was poured out so generously on us in his Son Jesus.

Jesus’ answer seemed to bring condemnation. But like a doctor’s diagnosis opens the door for healing, Jesus turned the question back on them to open the door to his magnificent grace. That is why he immediately told them the parable of the fig tree.

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ’For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “’Sir,’ the man replied, ’leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9, NIV)

I want to quickly summarize for you the lessons of grace we learn from the fig tree.

First of all, you were planted in God’s world to bear fruit for him. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8, NIV) We are here to live purposeful lives, showing ourselves to be followers of Christ.

Second, God has endured our barrenness for quite a while. “For three years now,” said the man who planted the tree, “I have not found any fruit.” We can be thankful that God is slow to anger and abounding in love.

Third, we learn that we deserve to be cut down. If we are not bearing the fruit we were created to bear, why should we use up the soil?

It’s at this point that Jesus wanted all who could hear him understand that he has come to offer another chance. “One more year” says the caregiver. “One more chance” says Jesus. We deserve to be cut off, but Jesus pleads before the Father to give us another chance at life. Jesus shed his blood to serve as a plea before the Father for you to be restored. He gives us another chance. Do we deserve that chance? No, we deserve to be cut off. But in his mercy he spares us and by his grace he secures for us another chance.

Which leads me to the fifth lesson from the fig tree. We must bear fruit or die. “Repent or perish.” Jesus said. Bear fruit or die.

But Jesus also teaches us that he will do what it takes to make us fruitful. There are two conditions on this incredible grace, and Jesus takes responsibility for them both. We cooperate with him by our repentance.

The first condition requires that Jesus dig around the roots of our belief. We cannot let Jesus dig around those roots until we lay them down and give him lordship over them all. Whatever beliefs, whatever prejudices, whatever biases we come to him with must become fair game for him to dig up and pull out so he can replace them with a better root system.

The second condition is that we have to allow Jesus to fertilize our soil. Do you understand what that means? Are you ready for this? First of all, it means that we have to be willing for Jesus to surround us with all sorts of poop. It is often in the fires of adversity that God is able to refine us into fruit-bearing followers. If we are anything other than open to God to work through the ugly circumstances surrounding our life, we will never bear fruit.

But the main purpose of fertilizer is to pass on nutrients. If we do not let God feed us through his word, we will never become fruitful for him.

Repentance means turning to Jesus to lay a new foundation of belief by weeding out the old attitudes and allowing his word to shape his worldview in us.

It is very tempting for us to say that the United States is acting as God’s agent for bringing punishment on Iraq. It may be true. But when we put our trust in Jesus Christ, we gave up our right to be American citizens before being citizens of God’s kingdom. Viewing the conflict in Iraq as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven gives us a different perspective than if we view it as an American. How can we apply what Jesus taught in these times?

1. Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are no more sinners than any of us.
2. If this war is God’s judgment, then we too are under God’s wrath. Likewise, if September 11 is part of God’s judgment on America, then so are all men subject to God’s wrath.
3. If God uses us to exact punishment or discipline, it does not justify us. God often used kingdoms like Assyria or Babylon to topple the nation of Israel, and then later brought justice on those nations through Israel.
4. If justice is good for Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden (and don’t we all want to see justice done?), then it is good for us too.
5. Our only hope is repentance.
6. God’s response to repentance is grace.

Can you believe after all we’ve seen—after coming to the unfortunate conclusion that you and I are no better than Saddam Hussein—Jesus still pleads with the Father for another chance? Another chance to become one of his followers. Another chance to show ourselves faithful. Another chance to be reconciled to the One who created us and planted us in this world with a purpose. Another chance to do and be everything God created us to do and be.

Jesus has pleaded for another year. Jesus wants permission to dig up your roots and fertilize the soil of your heart. Are you willing? Unless you repent, you too will perish. If you repent, you too will live!

HANDLING ANXIETY IN A TIME OF ECONOMIC CRISIS

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This past week’s release of China’s second quarter GDP growth number – at 7.6% – was viewed as an ominous sign of the future direction of the global economy by some pundits, while others see the Chinese government’s stimulus measures as a hopeful sign that its economic growth will be higher in the second half of the year. It is important to understand that the root cause of the decline in China’s economic growth this year is not the trouble in Europe or funk of the global economy, but rather the unsustainable economic bubbles that have been created by the government, and the collapsing demand that has accompanied it. The central bank’s latest tap dance won’t fix that.

Central banking maneuvering can at best serve to sustain the over-leveraged economy and avoid a systematic short-circuit of debt financing for now. There won’t be much liquidity invested in lending capacity or job creating projects, since there is insufficient demand, so the economic return on credit will deteriorate. If these structural deficiencies aren’t properly addressed by the central government – and soon – the longer term deterioration of the Chinese economy can only continue. The inevitable chain reaction will accelerate, and China will face its economic end game.

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To gauge just how far the health of China’s economy has deteriorated, look no further than how aggressive China’s central bank – the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) – has been acting of late. On 5th July, the Bank cut benchmark interest rates for the second time in less than a month. In December 2011, the PBOC cut the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) by 50 basis points (bp), to 21%, followed by a further 50 bp cut in February and another 50 bp cut in May – to the current 20%. Apart from all the rate cuts, the PBOC also made its biggest injection of funds into the money markets in nearly six months, injecting a net 225 billion yuan (US$34.5 billion) through the reverse-repurchase operations (repo) last week, which followed a combined injection of 291 billion yuan in the previous four weeks.
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Matthew 6:19-34
How many of you still buy and read a daily newspaper?
Most of us keep up with the news one way or the other – either by listening to the radio or watching television news and in-depth reports. Also, increasing numbers of people access the news through the Internet.
It is a pity that it appears that it is bad news that sells newspapers. I wonder if anyone has ever measured the psychological impact of being bombarded with bad news stories from day to day at the expense of the good. How does it affect us and form our world view?

QUESTION How do you handle bad news?
Growing world population will cause a “perfect storm” of food, energy and water shortages by 2030, the UK government chief scientist is warning.
By 2030 the demand for resources will create a crisis with dire consequences, Prof John Beddington predicts.
Demand for food and energy will jump 50% by 2030 and for fresh water by 30%, as the population tops 8.3 billion, he is due to tell a conference in London.
Climate change will exacerbate matters in unpredictable ways, he will add.
“It’s a perfect storm,” Prof Beddington will tell the Sustainable Development UK 09 conference.
This ’Perfect storm’ poses a global threat, says Professor Beddington
“There’s not going to be a complete collapse, but things will start getting really worrying if we don’t tackle these problems.
POINT
This is something our resident scientist Paul Farrant was warning us about in an evening service a few months ago – but with a different timescale.
QUESTION
How do you respond to news like this?
• Some of us will be concerned for the welfare of our sons or daughters or grandchildren.
• Some of us will be concerned about ourselves and the security of our future.
• All of us will to some degree be concerned for the poor who will be effected most by the coming storm and respond appropriately.
• At some time in the future a crisis of one form or another will certainly take place. What kind of a crisis and when and how it will take place remains to be seen.

QUESTION
How would God have us respond to news like this?
READING Matthew 6:19-34
Don’t worry. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. All these things will be yours as well.

THESIS God’s word to us is this:
FOCUS YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE KINGDOM RATHER THAN THE CALAMITY

POINT
It’s amazing counsel. Philosophers, personal trainers, therapists and gurus could not come with anything better.
Nor could they offer anything better. Because all they could offer is a coping strategy – Jesus reveals to us a right way of living that has the backing and substance of truth and spiritual reality behind it.
POINT
Thanks be to God – The Bible offers us a story with a happy ending. The drama of Scripture moves towards an ending in which all things are made new and sin and evil is finally defeated. What is more, the good news is that none need perish in the process – all who put their trust in Jesus as Saviour and Lord will be saved.
QUESTION
What does it mean to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness?
It is simply WHAT WE FOCUS OUR LIVES UPON
ILLUSTR
Liz has a digital camera that focuses automatically on the object she want to photograph. But one day it went faulty and the automatic focus mechanism began to drift every time, leaving everything in a blur.

POINT
Our Christian lives can be like this. GOD DIRECTS US TO FOCUS ON THE KINGDOM. But we all too easily drift from focusing on God’s kingdom in our lives, and when we do so everything turns into a blur.
We will always have the tendency to drift. But we CAN ALWAYS REFOCUS and fix the direction of our lives on the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

HOW DO WE DO THIS?

1. THE KINGDOM
John Stott in his commentary on Matthew states that to seek is first to desire = to desire more than anything else to see in everything the Kingdom rule of Christ.

The Kingdom of God is a description of the God’s rule – partially in this present, earthly life, and fully in the future.

Examples
• It is to desire justice for the poor – whether the nations or the poor, powerless and marginalized in society.
• It is to seek to make Jesus Christ known to those who might receive him as Saviour and Lord in a personal response of faith.
• It is to seek each day to ‘take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ’
• It is desire, and to make our goal, the fulfillment of what we pray for: ‘your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.
APPLIC/CHALLENGE
• What is the focus of your life this morning?
• Is your concern for your personal well-being greater than our concern for the Kingdom?
• What is first in our list of priorities? The Kingdom or our personal need?

MOTIVE
The better we know ourselves the more aware we may be that our concerns for our wellbeing are often greater than our concerns for the Kingdom.

We may even decide to seek first God’s Kingdom and righteousness because our main concern is for our own personal security, well-being and freedom from worry!

APPLICATION
• Are we more concerned with what the Lord might do for us? Or with what we might do for the Lord?
Seeking first the kingdom means to do so with pure motive.

2. HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
Again, John Stott says:
To seek his righteousness refers to our social responsibilities because God hates injustice.

SHARING
Let’s not forget the plural; that there is a community dimension to what Jesus is saying.
POINT
Jesus addressed the people as a community = a group of disciples.
They were expected to share not only with one another but also with the poor. The early church put this into practice.

Jesus was explicit. He gave a list of do’s and don’ts.
19-21 DON’T store up treasure on earth,
DO store up treasure in heaven
22-23 DON’T focus on the things that worry you;
DO focus on God’s priorities instead
24 DON’T be controlled by a drive to be wealthy
DO focus your life on pleasing God first
25-34 DON’T focus on your fears, doubts and issues of
financial security
DO seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness

APPLICATION: Faith states that God will take care of his own interests, and if we make God’s interests our interests then God will take care of us too. But only as we seek to take care of others.
QUESTION
Some committed Christians might today be asking the question, ‘Why is it that we still have material needs that are not being met when we have made it our priority to seek first the Kingdom of God?’
Sometimes it is an issue of faith
ILLUSTRATION
George Muller, by the end of his life, built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans. The entire
time, he depended on God’s response to his prayer of faith to supply the needs of the orphans in his care. Through faith he raised thousands of pounds to meet their needs.

He described faith in these terms: Faith is the assurance that the thing which God has said in His Word is true, and that God will act according to what He has said in His Word. This assurance, this reliance on God’s Word, this confidence is FAITH.

ii. There is a place for sharing our resources.
ILLUSTRATION
In the early church there were widows in need. Their needs were provided by the church. Also, churches that could assisted other churches in times of famine.
POINT
God promises to meet our NEED as God sees it and we understand it.
The statement ‘My God shall supply all your need’ Phil 4:19 is in the context of Paul telling his readers of how he had learned to be content, whatever his financial circumstances – much of which depended on generous or otherwise his fellow-Christians were to him.
There were times when he had suffered financial hardship and gone hungry. But his needs had always been met.

Application:It can be the most difficult of learning curves to be content with less that we are used to and less than we had hoped for. And at some time in the future it is a learning curve many will go through. But ‘godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN’, and as we focus first on the Kingdom of God, not only shall we enjoy greater contentment but be satisfied with the way God meets our needs.

3. SEEK FIRST
i. It is PERSONAL – Repent and Believe
To seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness involves personal repentance and faith in Christ.
John the Baptist announced ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’.
Seeking first the kingdom means first of all surrendering our lives to the King – to Jesus as Saviour and Lord

Application:To seek first the kingdom means to get right with God
[GOSPEL]

ii. It is GLOBAL – Remember the Poor
When we pray ‘ Your kingdom come’ we follow up with the parallel statement ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.
To seek first God’s kingdom is to embrace our Lord’s mandate found in Luke 4
Luke 4:18-19
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
[19] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Application:To seek first the kingdom means to remember the poor.
It DOES include the implications of climate change and growing world population and the strains on the earth’s resources and its impact on the poor both now and on into the future.

iii. It is EVANGELISTIC – Be Witnesses
Reading Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15-16 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. [16] Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Application:There is a mandate on us to preach the gospel to others. Seeking first the kingdom means that we are not going to be complacent about this, but that we will make it our priority to be witnesses for Jesus.

iv. It is FUTURISTIC – Be Prepared
It is astonishing to read the bold statements of Jesus and of Scripture spoken over 2000 years ago in which we find predicted wars, earthquakes, famines, the increase of knowledge, the increase of wickedness, the rise of antichrists, false prophets and imposters claiming to be Christ and the statement:
Matthew 24:14
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

POINT
Jesus followed up by saying:
Matthew 24:44
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

APPLICATION
To seek first the Kingdom means to be ready for his coming.
CONCL/APPLICATION
In a world where it pays newspaper companies to focus on the bad news;
In a world where, even as Christians, our focus will always tend to drift to the issues that cause us anxiety;
We have God’s word today directing us to focus our thoughts elsewhere and to keep them there:

Do not be anxious. Seek first his kingdom.

A Most American Way to Die

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Happy African American family. Father with three teenage daughters together having a good time. Stock Photo - 5947172

 

If you’re an unarmed black teen in Florida, someone can gun you down – and they might get away with it

This was some battle going on in that car, a cage match of warring colognes. Tevin Thompson, tall and soft-cheeked, had basted himself in Curve, swiped from the back of his parents’ dresser, where the old man kept his more expensive smell-goods. Leland Brunson, small and snarky, the runt of the four-kid crew, was bumping Chanel and a couple of clashing lotions and smelled like mixed inserts from three men’s mags. Jordan Davis, the prince – he of the red-hot girlfriend and every fly snapback sold online – was drenched in Armani and looking right. And Tommie Stornes, at the wheel of his Durango – well, who ever knew what Tommie was wearing? He kept the whole scent counter at Macy’s in his car. True, he’d taken hours to get coifed and dressed to go girl-hunting at the mall, but as these boys liked to say, you can’t rush greatness.

They hit the Town Center mall around 5 p.m. and found it hip-to-hip with Christmas shoppers. On this, the first evening after Thanksgiving, all of Jacksonville was out and about, walking of the torpor of candied yams at the fanciest galleria in northern Florida. The boys did their best impression of premium shoppers, four well-raised black teens from middle-class homes trying hard to stand out by blending in. They talked to – but whiffed with – a few of the upscale “honeys,” browsed the stores for high-priced sneakers that they mostly owned already (Tevin bought a new pair every payday; Jordan, who’d just landed his first after-school job, was breaking his father’s wallet with his shoe game) and began to make their way toward the exits. Then Jordan spotted Aliyah, his beautiful, on-off girlfriend, who was finishing up her shift at Urban Outfitters. They’d been on the rocks for weeks over the silliest teenage nonsense – he’d bought roses on her birthday but wouldn’t bring them to school, convinced his friends would clown him till graduation. Now, though, she smiled at him, and Jordan’s heart went clattering around his rib cage. “They needed to get back together so he’d stop talking about her,” says Tevin. “Every . . . …single . . . …day, it was Aliyah this, Aliyah that. We’re all like, ‘Damn it, dude: Just call her already.'”

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And so now it was 7:00, and they were driving back to Jordan’s to play Xbox on his father’s big TV. A couple of miles away, they stopped at a Gate gas station so Tommie could run in for a pack of Newports. They were blasting Chief Keef through the half-down windows and busting on Jordan about Aliyah when a black Jetta pulled into the spot beside them. A woman got out and ducked into the store; the driver, a crew-cut moose of a white man named Michael David Dunn, cracked his window and told them to turn the noise down. “I hate that thug music,” he had griped to his girlfriend before he sent her in to buy some wine and chips; Rhonda Rouer would tell detectives the next day that that was a “common” complaint of Dunn’s. They had just come from the wedding of Dunn’s only son and had left the reception early to get back to the hotel so he could walk their newly bought puppy.

The Gun Industry’s Nine Most Outrageous Marketing Ploys

Tevin, in the front passenger seat, dialed the music down, but Jordan, sitting behind him, wouldn’t have it. Unbelting himself, he reached across the console to crank the volume up. He and Dunn went at it, peppering f-bombs at each other. “You’re not gonna talk to me like that!” yelled Dunn, reaching across the dash to his glove compartment. Tommie had come back and was strapping himself in when he saw a gun through the window of Dunn’s car. “Duck!” he yelled and grabbed for the shifter when the first three shots hit his car. Several more rounds whacked the car as Tommie floored it backward and peeled out. He broke left, past the gas pumps, while bullets winged by. Dunn, half out of his Jetta and firing two-fisted, kept shooting at the fleeing Durango; one bullet pierced the liftgate and another clipped the visor, missing Tommie’s skull by an inch.

He drove a hundred yards into the adjacent shopping plaza, stopped in front of a sandwich shop and jumped out to check on his friends. Tevin was somehow fine – his door had stopped the slugs. Leland, sitting behind Tommie, was OK too, though his hands and sleeves were wet with fresh blood. Jordan, however, was slumped in his lap. The first three shots had gone through his door; two of them lodged in his chest and groin. His eyes rolling back, he gasped for air as the three friends shrieked for help. “Jordan was making that rattle people make when they’re dying,” says Tevin. “That’s when Leland started to cry. I hugged him and tried to tell him it’d be OK.”

Tevin dialed 911, but someone had beaten him to it: The strip mall was packed with stunned bystanders. Two of them jotted down the Jetta’s plate number as Dunn tore of, speeding up Southside Boulevard. Soon, the Gate gas station bristled with sirens: cops securing the crime scene and taking statements, collecting a dozen firsthand accounts; medics working feverishly to keep Jordan breathing as they loaded him into the ambulance; and detectives comforting his stricken friends, particularly Leland, who couldn’t stop sobbing. Jordan was his best friend; they all but lived at each other’s houses. “Jordan was my third son – I loved that boy,” says Tanya Booth-Brunson, Leland’s mother. “He had this shine on him that lit up the room. He was a star, and everyone knew it.”

Shortly before noon the following day, deputies knocked on a door in Satellite Beach, three hours south down 95. Dunn, a computer programmer and gun enthusiast who’d fired his first rifle at three, stepped out onto the stoop of his beachfront condo. Fully six four and 280 pounds, he greeted the cops with the convivial air of a long-lost beer-league pal. In the interview box at the downtown precinct, he sloughed off the reading of his Miranda rights. According to Jordan’s father, Dunn said he didn’t need a lawyer, telling the detectives: They defied my orders. What was I supposed to do if they wouldn’t listen? Appalled, the cops booked him on the spot, and he was eventually charged with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder.

But several days after the shooting, Dunn told the world through his hastily hired lawyer, Robin Lemonidis, that he fired 10 shots in a crowded shopping plaza because he felt threatened by the boys. They were gang members calling their gang buddies, said Lemonidis; Dunn had to act fast, before they did. Also, they were men piling out of the car, not high school boys cringing in terror. And third, there was this, thrown in for good measure: Dunn was sure he saw a shotgun aimed at him through the right rear window of the boys’ car. (Damningly, though, he didn’t tell his girlfriend about a gun before his arrest.) And with that, nine months after the killing of Trayvon Martin, the Gunshine State of Florida had spawned a second grotesque fraud: the killing of a defenseless black kid by an armed, angry white man invoking the worst law in America – the Stand Your Ground statute of self-defense.

The Soapbox: Correcting the sins of our fathers

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“We still commit murder because of greed, spite, jealousy. And we still visit all of our sins upon our children. … We refuse to accept the responsibility for anything we’ve done. … You cannot play God and then wash your hands of the things you’ve created. Sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things you’ve done anymore.” — Edward James Olmos as Cdr. William Adama, Battlestar Galactica

North America was built on the backs of slaves and the disenfranchised, brought to this continent by its European forefathers to work the land.

It is a difficult reality to face, but it’s the truth, and something that most people have owned up to in one sense or another in the centuries since.

Slavery has been condemned, its practitioners for the most part chastised, and the practice abandoned. But the grim fact remains that settlers from England, France and other nations abducted men and women from their homes in Africa and the Caribbean and moved them here against their will to work without compensation.

It is one of this content’s darkest moments. Coupled with the treatment of the First Nations people in Canada and south of the border, it paints a very clear picture of the horrors of colonialism in a time when the rights of human beings had not fully been established or acknowledged.

But times have changed. The bulk of the Western world now lives in nations built on the tradition of a constitution, in which the rights of every man, woman and child are protected.

The same cannot be said for many of the nations from which those slaves were taken.

This is the assertion of Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

According to the Huffington Post, Gonsalves has been spearheading an effort by more than a dozen Caribbean nations to demand recompense and apologies from the three European nations responsible for much of the Atlantic slave trade: Britain, France and the Netherlands.

Though constitutions and promises and other measures exist to curb the impact of slavery at home, and there have been some efforts to restore nations whose economies were jeopardized by the practice, it holds true that the actions of those men who first settled North America — the slave traders who abducted innocent individuals — have echoed through the centuries.

The economic disparity, discrimination and disenfranchisement that entire segments of populations in the Caribbean and even within our own countries feel is a direct result of the practice.

“The apology is important but that is wholly insufficient … we have to have the appropriate recompense,” Gonsalves told the Associated Press.

He’s absolutely correct. No amount of money will fix the intangible damages done by the slave trade, but it could go a long way to helping these nations.

And a genuine apology just might reverberate within those European nations — and across the world.

The alternative? Let the disparity, discrimination and disenfranchisement continue.

Which seems the better option to you?

The Manosphere’s Largest Political Influence

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It is typically assumed that The Manosphere, as it evolves and gains steam, will somehow “counteract” feminism. But the truth is we don’t have such grandiose hopes or dreams of it bringing the universe “back to balance” in some kind of Jedi Knight sort of way. Matter of fact we have no dreams at all, truthfully. It is really just more of a visceral and self-respecting backlash against the communist tyranny cowardly and hypocritically disguised under the cloak of “women’s rights.” Men don’t carry out “crusades” of a political sort. We just fight back our enemies till they don’t bother us again and get back to enjoying our lives (feminists should take note of that).

However, I did realize something and was able to connect two VERY FAR apart dots. And this connection made me realize just how much of a threat The Manosphere is NOT to feminism, but to the general trend and political movement of socialism, communism and tyranny. A threat most liberals and leftists are completely unaware of.

Most of you right now are thinking that this must go through the eye of “feminism=socialism veiled for women’s rights attack destroy” sort of thing. While that is true AND The Manosphere does fight against socialism in that way, the two dots I connected are much further apart, completely different, AND much more significant.

Namely:

Black men, and by extension, minority men.

Anecdotal evidence started piling up as I entered The Manosphere. Houseboy was an ounce of ingredient. My readership being disproportionately black/Hispanic/minority was another ounce of ingredient. And it wasn’t until I saw some traffic coming from this that I realized I was genuinely onto something and my observation was most likely true.

In short, black men are pissed.

Pissed at what?

How black women treat them.

And it is here that I must take the liberty of consolidating an infinite amount socio-political observations of millions of black men and hope that I don’t miss the mark too much.

In short, black American men are further down the feminist rabbit hole than any other American male racial group. Specifically, government feminist policies that, in short, replace the father and men with a government check. Please point to me a community where government check replacing a man has been more successful than in the black community. Single motherhood is the standard with 70% of black births being out of wedlock. Politicians at the state, federal and local levels are all too eager to show how much they care for not just “heroic” single mothers, but single MINORITY mothers to garnish more votes and bribery money. The results to anybody who has been paying attention is obvious. Black men have literally been replaced by the government. They have been discarded, they have been outsourced, they have been replaced by society.

But what is the cost?

Frankly, MULTIPLE lost AND ALIENATED generations of black males.

With generation after generation of black males brought up without fathers, who are taught they are nothing, who have nothing to look up to or mold themselves after, and can simply be replaced with a government check, can you imagine the psychological destitution and torment this wreaks upon a male psychology?

Furthermore, how do you compete?

“Compete against what?” you might ask?

Compete against the politician who uses the trillions of dollars of taxpayer money to pose as the ultra-wealthy bachelor suitor you can never beat. No one single man (again, regardless of skin color) can beat the politician who has access to trillions of dollars of taxpayer money and promises it to you and your children (as long as you vote for him). No strings attached, no discipline or “father is the head of the household” necessary. No, just “here’s the money sweetheart, vote for me!”

Meanwhile black males are relegated (sadly, and I don’t mean this to sound derogatory, but to point out the truth and sadness of it all) to sperm donors with nothing much else to live for.

And you wonder why crime is higher amongst black males.

The reason is there’s nothing left to live for. There’s nothing great or better than themselves. No wife, no family, no children, no future. Thank you politician douchebag for stealing my woman, stealing my family, stealing my children and stealing my future. What else do I have to pursue in my life?

Now, I’m not socio-psychologist. But in my philosophizing and mental meandering I have realized that it is other people that matter the most. Have the most advanced X-Box 360 game, nothing is more engaging, entertaining and mentally stimulating than another human. Humans are dynamic, they are not finite or programmed like an X-Box and they conscientiously CHOOSE to spend their time with you IF they deem you WORTHY enough to hang out with. And that is the TRUE proof or “reward” to another human being that they are worth something. That somebody else “confirms” or “corroborates” that you are a worthwhile human being in the fact they spend their time with you.

Now ask yourself.

What kind of message do we send to the average black man (or any man, I guess) when we tell him that his intellect, his persona, his soul and his personality doesn’t even compare to a government check. That a piece of paper that warrants purchase of other goods is better than him himself.

Well I’ll tell you what that tells him. “You’re a worthless and COMPLETELY unnecessary POS.”

We getting anywhere here now? We starting to realize the situation here?

Now, my political conclusion or “epiphany” should be pretty obvious by now.

Black (and minority men, as well as all men) have been completely screwed over by feminism. However, in the fact that for all men a wife and (maybe) family is the ultimate, darwinistically programmed goal into their genetic DNA, many of them are waking up to the fact that modern day feminism is a bunch of bullshit. Feminism is against a male father figure, it is against men simply being men, and it PREFERS to replace men with the government. However – and this is where the VERY INTERESTING political ramifications come in – NO OTHER RACIAL GROUP has suffered MORE THAN BLACKS under FEMINISM which is NOTHING MORE THAN SOCIALISM DISGUISED UNDER THE RUSE OF “WOMEN’S RIGHTS.”

So what do you think black males are going to do?

My humble opinion is that black males will wake up, if not (by evidence of the links above) they already have. And the primary reason is because political socialism, under the guise of feminism, has destroyed anything for them to live for. Socialists/democrats have taken away their would-be wives, and thus, their would-be children. Socialism under the guise of “feminism” have taken away their families and thus taken away any sort of future for them. And it is here that The Manosphere I believe has it largest potential.

Forget fighting feminism

Forget fighting against single motherhood.

Forget whatever feminist goal post we wish to destroy.

The true political influence of The Manosphere is that we delivered the red pill to black males (as well as all other minority males).

And can you imagine what would happen to the political dynamics of the US if all of the sudden all black American males started to man up and started voting republican?

It is here I believe that political bonds are stronger via gender than race. If push comes to shove EVERY man wishes to have the same thing. If the Chinese were to invade, a whole lot of racist blacks and a whole lot of racist whites would set aside their differences and repel the red horde.

I ask why can’t we unite to fight the much more serious, realistic and present communist feminist horde?

O.B. Markers

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Jeremiah 5:21-31 (The Message)
21 Listen to this, you scatterbrains, airheads, With eyes that see but don’t really look, and ears that hear but don’t really listen. 22 Why don’t you honor me? Why aren’t you in awe before me? Yes, me, who made the shorelines to contain the ocean waters. I drew a line in the sand that cannot be crossed. Waves roll in but cannot get through; breakers crash but that’s the end of them. 23 But this people – what a people! Uncontrollable, untamable runaways. 24 It never occurs to them to say, ‘How can we honor our God with our lives, The God who gives rain in both spring and autumn and maintains the rhythm of the seasons, Who sets aside time each year for harvest and keeps everything running smoothly for us?’ 25 Of course you don’t! Your bad behavior blinds you to all this. Your sins keep my blessings at a distance. To Stand for Nothing and Stand Up for No One 26 “My people are infiltrated by wicked men, unscrupulous men on the hunt. They set traps for the unsuspecting. Their victims are innocent men and women. 27 Their houses are stuffed with ill-gotten gain, like a hunter’s bag full of birds. Pretentious and powerful and rich, 28 hugely obese, oily with rolls of fat. Worse, they have no conscience. Right and wrong mean nothing to them. They stand for nothing, stand up for no one, throw orphans to the wolves, exploit the poor. 29 Do you think I’ll stand by and do nothing about this?” God’s Decree. “Don’t you think I’ll take serious measures against a people like this? 30 “Unspeakable! Sickening! What’s happened in this country? 31 Prophets preach lies and priests hire on as their assistants. And my people love it. They eat it up! But what will you do when it’s time to pick up the pieces?

Psalm 119:75

The Message (MSG)

With your very own hands you formed me;
now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.
When they see me waiting, expecting your Word,
those who fear you will take heart and be glad.
I can see now, God, that your decisions are right;
your testing has taught me what’s true and right.
Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight!
just the way you promised.
Now comfort me so I can live, really live;
your revelation is the tune I dance to.
Let the fast-talking tricksters be exposed as frauds;
they tried to sell me a bill of goods,
but I kept my mind fixed on your counsel.
Let those who fear you turn to me
for evidence of your wise guidance.
And let me live whole and holy, soul and body,
so I can always walk with my head held high.

Tonight I need to be reminded that everything is being watched by God, even how I accept what He allows. In watching this George Zimmerman verdict, I am appalled, but I need to resolve my inner man to trust God to protect and strengthen us as a people to trust in Him to vindicate us when we feel or are unjustly accused or not given a righteous judgment by “man”. I am soliciting anyone and everyone to pray for us as a nation or tribe that seems to be not considered worthy of honor. I want you to honor yourselves and those of the same spirit to “Trusting” God as so many of our forefathers had to do.

In the game od golf, out-of-bounds or O.B. makers designate when a ball has gone out of play. If a player’s ball goes out-of-bounds, a one stroke penalty is imposed. The prophet Jeremiah warned the southern kingdom of Judah about their persistent rejection of God’s boundaries for them. He said that even the sea knows that the sand on the seashore is its O.B. marker, “an everlasting barrier it cannot cross”(Jeremiah 5:22). Yet the Lord’s people had defiant and rebellious hearts(v.23). They grew rich on deceit(V.27) and ignored the pleas of the disadvantaged(v.28).

God has given moral boundaries in His word for us to live within. He gave them not to frustrate us but so that by keeping within them we may enjoy His blessings. David wrote: “I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right”(Psalms 119:75). God told Israel through Moses, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursing; therefore choose life”(Deuteronomy 30:19).

Don’t test God’s boundaries and invite His correction. Make wise choices to live within His O.B. markers in His Word.

The Lord has given us commands,
And told us to obey;
Our own designs are sure to fail,
If we neglect His way!

A small step of obedience is a giant step to blessings.

Deception The Number One Device Of The Enemy

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When someone has every material gain the world has to offer, when you are somewhat happy in the pursuit of happiness associated with life. If you are successful in establishing yourself to share a future of comfort. Why do you leave out the need for Christ in the equation?

Rev 20:3
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

Rev 20:7-8
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth,

The greatest power that Satan possesses is the power of deception. He is the great deceiver.

Deceive – To cause to believe what is not true;
If Satan can make you believe something that is not true, then he can control you.

I am afraid that today many of us govern our lives through the deception of evil people in high places who are under the control of Satan, and the deceptions are so subtle that we are not even aware of them.

As I have said before, we come to conclusions and form our beliefs based on what we are fed.

Other than the Word of God I don’t know what is true anymore.

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Deception:

I talk to people who say that you don’t have to go to church, I can worship God at home.
I believe I’m going to heaven because I don’t cuss, or drink, or run around on my spouse. I am a pretty good person.

What Satan does not tell you is that salvation is not based on how good you are, but on what Jesus did on the cross and you placing your faith and trust in Him as your savior and Lord.

2 Cor 11:3
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

John 8:44
When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Luke 15:11-24
11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

Luke 15:30
30 thy son hath devoured thy living with harlots,

14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Imagine living in an environment where fear controlled your life, constantly insecure, what you ate was determined by what you could scrounge up, clothed with what you could find that was thrown out by someone else, where hate and selfishness filled your environment, where joy and happiness is only a distant memory.

But also imagine living in an environment where there was no reason to fear, and there was always plenty to eat, clothes to wear, always a loving and caring environment and a happy atmosphere.

Why would this boy make such a terrible choice?

What was he thinking?
James 1:14-15
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

He was deceived in thinking that the grass was greener somewhere else.

Deception causes people to throw their lives away.
Other examples;

David and Bath-sheba (2 Sam 11:2)
What was he thinking? I am king and answer to no one, no one will know, just one little fling, that’s all,
Now he finds out that she is expecting. Bring home her husband to sleep with her. He wouldn’t, so cleverly have him killed. He marries her.
What was the deception? I can do this and not get caught.

Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1)
What were they thinking? We want to look as religious as all the other givers.
What was the deception? We can do this, look good, and have money to blow.

Isa 14:12
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

It was deception that he used and is still very successful at it today.

Today, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, and divorce are become a norm in our society and are accepted in many religious organizations.

You have got to recognize the voice speaking to you.
John 10:27
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

If you commit any sin, it was because of a deception.
Every sin is the fruit of a deception.
1. I won’t get caught. (no one will know about this, or see me)
2. This will gratify me. (Temporary gratification is not worth the pain)
3. This will make me happy.
4. This will make me rich.
5. I can be my on boss.
6. I don’t have to obey. (rebellion)

If we can believe that we can provide sustenance, better health, a better lifestyle, better entertainment, than God can provide, feel that we have no spiritual need, we have been deceived.

John 14:6
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

1 John 1:7
walk in the light, (Truth, know your Bible and you won’t be deceived)

“Better safe than sorry.”

We use this cliché often when dealing with worldly issues when buying or not buying things, taking medicines, but how about in matters that involve eternal choices? We try to make careful choices in the area of health, safety, finances, etc: because we would rather be safe than sorry, but do we become careless in decisions that matter most?

We want our salvation safe and secure. Safe is good, sorry is bad.

We sense a place of safety in all the promises of God if all the conditions are met.

Ps 4:8
8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

Prov 18:10
10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

Deut 11:26-28
26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
27 A blessing(safe and secure), if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:
28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God,

Josh 24:15
choose you this day whom ye will serve; (make the right choice).

Heb 11:7
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Luke 17:26-30
26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

1 Cor 15:30
30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

2 Cor 1:22
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Eph 1:13
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Eph 4:30
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

“A Black Holocaust in America.”

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“Eugenics is the study of the agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally.”
– Francis Galton, first cousin and associate of Charles Darwin, circa 1883

“Natural selection must be replaced by eugenical artificial selection. This idea constitutes the sound core of eugenics, the applied science of human betterment.”
– Theodosius Dobzhansky. Heredity and the Nature of Man. 1964



If you are still drinking yourself to death, stop! If you are still using the poison made to kill you, like cocaine and all other drugs, stop! If you are committing constant crimes and you have no desistance to eradicate the madness you find yourself participating in, let this post be enough to synergize desistance and change the way you view television, food, habits and activities. Please pass this education on to your family because It’s still happening in America today and it is called “Eugenics”.

Ron Wallace: co-author of Black Wallstreet: A Lost Dream Chronicles a little-known chapter of African-American History in Oklahoma as told to Ronald E. Childs. If anyone truly believes that 9/11 attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was the most tragic bombing ever to take place on United States soil, as the media has been widely reported, they’re wrong,plain and simple. That’s because an even deadlier bomb occurred in that same state nearly 75 years ago.

Many people in high places would like to forget that it ever happened. Searching under the heading of “riots,” “Oklahoma” and “Tulsa” in current editions of the World Book Encyclopedia, there is conspicuously no mention whatsoever of the Tulsa race riot of 1921, and this omission is by no means a surprise, or a rare case. The fact is, one would also be hard-pressed to find documentation of the incident, let alone an accurate accounting of it, in any other “scholarly” reference or American history book.

That’s precisely the point that noted author, publisher and orator Ron Wallace, a Tulsa native, sought to make nearly five years ago when he began researching this riot, one of the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. Ultimately joined on the project by colleague Jay Jay Wilson of Los Angeles, the duo found and compiled indisputable evidence of what they now describe as “A Black Holocaust in America.”

The date was June 1, 1921, when “Black Wallstreet,” the name fittingly given to one of the most affluent all-black communities in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving 36-black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering-A model community destroyed, and a major Africa-American economic movement resoundingly defused.

The night’s carnage left some 3,000 African Americans dead, and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among these were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and even a bus system. As could be expected, the impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with ranking city officials, and many other sympathizers. In their self-published book, Black Wall street: A lost Dream, and its companion video documentary, Black Wall street: A Black Holocaust in America!, the authors have chronicled for the very first time in the words of area historians and elderly survivors what really happened there on that fateful summer day in 1921 and why it happened. Wallace similarly explained to Black Elegance why this bloody event from the turn of the century seems to have had a recurring effect that is being felt in predominately Black neighborhoods even to this day. The best description of Black Wall street, or Little Africa as it was also known, would be to liken it to a mini-Beverly Hills. It was the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900s, and it proved that African Americans had successful infrastructure. That’s what Black Wall street was about.

The dollar circulated 36 to 1000 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Now in 1995, a dollar leaves the Black community in 15 minutes. As far as resources, there were Ph.D’s residing in Little Africa, Black attorneys and doctors. One doctor was Dr. Berry who also owned the bus system. His average income was $500 a day, a hefty pocket of change in 1910. During that era, physicians owned medical schools. There were also pawn shops everywhere, brothels, jewelry stores, 21 churches, 21 restaurants and two movie theaters. It was a time when the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six blacks owned their own planes. It was a very fascinating community. The area encompassed over 600 businesses and 36 square blocks with a population of 15,000 African Americans. And when the lower-economic Europeans looked over and saw what the Black community created, many of them were jealous. When the average student went to school on Black Wall street, he wore a suit and tie because of the morals and respect they were taught at a young age.

The mainstay of the community was to educate every child. Nepotism was the one word they believed in. And that’s what we need to get back to in 1995. The main thoroughfare was Greenwood Avenue, and it was intersected by Archer and Pine Streets. From the first letters in each of those names, you get G.A.P., and that’s where the renowned R&B music group The GAP Band got its name. They’re from Tulsa. Black Wall street was a prime example of the typical Black community in America that did business, but it was in an unusual location. You see, at the time, Oklahoma was set aside to be a Black and Indian state. There were over 28 Black townships there. One third of the people who traveled in the terrifying “Trail of Tears” along side the Indians between 1830 to 1842 were Black people. The citizens of this proposed Indian and Black state chose a Black governor, a treasurer from Kansas named McDade. But the Ku Klux Klan said that if he assumed office that they would kill him within 48 hours. A lot of Blacks owned farmland, and many of them had gone into the oil business. The community was so tight and wealthy because they traded dollars hand-to-hand, and because they were dependent upon one another as a result of the Jim Crow laws.

It was not unusual that if a resident’s home accidentally burned down, it could be rebuilt within a few weeks by neighbors. This was the type of scenario that was going on day-to-day on Black Wall street. When Blacks intermarried into the Indian culture, some of them received their promised ’40 acres and a Mule,’ and with that came whatever oil was later found on the properties.

Just to show you how wealthy a lot of Black people were, there was a banker in a neighboring town who had a wife named California Taylor. Her father owned the largest cotton gin west of the Mississippi [River]. When California shopped, she would take a cruise to Paris every three months to have her clothes made. There was also a man named Mason in nearby Wagner County who had the largest potato farm west of the Mississippi. When he harvested, he would fill 100 boxcars a day. Another brother not far away had the same thing with a spinach farm. The typical family then was five children or more, though the typical farm family would have 10 kids or more who made up the nucleus of the labor.

On Black Wall street, a lot of global business was conducted. The community flourished from the early 1900s until June 1, 1921. That’s when the largest massacre of non-military Americans in the history of this country took place, and it was lead by the Ku Klux Klan. Imagine walking out of your front door and seeing 1,500 homes being burned. It must have been amazing.

Survivors we interviewed think that the whole thing was planned because during the time that all of this was going on, white families with their children stood around on the borders of the community and watched the massacre, the looting and everything—much in the same manner they would watch a lynching.

In my lectures I ask people if they understand where the word “picnic” comes from. It was typical to have a picnic on a Friday evening in Oklahoma. The word was short for “pick a nigger” to lynch. They would lynch a Black male and cut off body parts as souvenirs. This went on every weekend in this country. That’s where the term really came from. The riots weren’t caused by anything Black or white. It was caused by jealousy. A lot of white folks had come back from World War I and they were poor. When they looked over into the Black communities and realized that Black men who fought in the war had come home heroes that helped trigger the destruction. It cost the Black community everything, and not a single dime of restitution—no insurance claims-has been awarded to the victims to this day.

Nonetheless, they rebuilt. We estimate that 1,500 to 3,000 people were killed, and we know that a lot of them were buried in mass graves all around the city. Some were thrown in the river. As a matter of fact, at 21st Street and Yale Avenue, where there now stands a Sears parking lot, that corner used to be a coal mine. They threw a lot of the bodies into the shafts. Black Americans don’t know about this story because we don’t apply the word holocaust to our struggle. Jewish people use the word holocaust all the time. White people use the word holocaust. It’s politically correct to use it. But when we Black folks use the word, people think we’re being cry babies or that we’re trying to bring up old issues. No one comes to our support. In 1910, our forefathers and mothers owned 13 million acres of land at the height of racism in this country, so the Black Wall street book and videotape prove to the naysayers and revisionists that we had our act together. Our mandate now is to begin to teach our children about our own, ongoing Black holocaust. They have to know when they look at our communities today that we don’t come from this.

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One-Size-Fits-All Prison Sentencing Fits No One: End Mandatory Minimums!

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Demand reform of mandatory minimum sentencing, draconian predetermined prison sentences based solely on the weight of the drug and not on the individual case, which creates a one-size-fits-all punishment for nonviolent drug offenders.

Dear Aaron,

Big things have happened because of YOU! By signing our petition to end mandatory minimum sentencing you made a difference for thousands of prisoners otherwise serving decades of unjust sentences. Now, for the first time since 2010 a sentencing reform bill has bipartisan support in both houses of Congress!

The Justice Safety Valve Act would create a brand-new, broad “safety valve” that would apply to all federal crimes carrying mandatory minimum sentences. If it becomes law, it would give judges flexibility to end the injustices caused by mandatory minimum sentences!

Tell Your Representatives to Support Ending Mandatory Minimum Laws Take Action Families Against Mandatory Minimums, is persistent in presenting this issue to Congress, and the petition you took was critical in demonstrating the publics support of changing the system.

But the fight isn’t over! Write to your members of Congress today and tell them to support H.R. 1695, the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013!

Today a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in United States v. Blewett, held that the Fair Sentencing Act’s modification of mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine must be applied retroactively. Judge Merritt, joined by Judge Martin, wrote for the panel. Judge Gilman dissented.

Judge Merritt’s opinion for the court begins:

This is a crack cocaine case brought by two currently incarcerated defendants seeking retroactive relief from racially discriminatory mandatory minimum sentences imposed on them in 2005. The Fair Sentencing Act was passed in August 2010 to “restore fairness to Federal cocaine sentencing” laws that had unfairly impacted blacks for almost 25 years. The Fair Sentencing Act repealed portions of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 that instituted a 100-to-1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine, treating one gram of crack as equivalent to 100 grams of powder cocaine for sentencing purposes. The 100-to-1 ratio had long been acknowledged by many in the legal system to be unjustified and adopted without empirical support. The Fair Sentencing Act lowered the ratio to a more lenient 18-to-1 ratio. However, thousands of inmates, most black, languish in prison under the old, discredited ratio because the Fair Sentencing Act was not made explicitly retroactive by Congress.

In this case, we hold, inter alia, that the federal judicial perpetuation of the racially discriminatory mandatory minimum crack sentences for those defendants sentenced under the old crack sentencing law, as the government advocates, would violate the Equal Protection Clause, as incorporated into the Fifth Amendment by the doctrine of Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497 (1954) (Fifth Amendment forbids federal racial discrimination in the same way as the Fourteenth Amendment forbids state racial discrimination). As Professor William J. Stuntz, the late Harvard criminal law professor, has observed, “persistent bias occurred with respect to the contemporary enforcement of drug laws where, in the 1990s and early 2000s, blacks constituted a minority of regular users of crack cocaine but more than 80 percent of crack defendants.” The Collapse of American Criminal Justice 184 (2011). He recommended that we “redress that discrimination” with “the underused concept of ‘equal protection of the laws.’” Id. at 297.

In this opinion, we will set out both the constitutional and statutory reasons the old, racially discriminatory crack sentencing law must now be set aside in favor of the new sentencing law enacted by Congress as the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The Act should apply to all defendants, including those sentenced prior to its passage. We therefore reverse the judgment of the district court and remand for resentencing.

Judge Gilman’s dissent begins:

I fear that my panel colleagues have sua sponte set sail into the constitutional sea of equal protection without any legal ballast to keep their analysis afloat. To start with, they “readily acknowledge that no party challenges the constitutionality of denying retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act to people who were sentenced under the old regime.” Maj. Op. 6. Opining on this unbriefed and unargued issue is thus fraught with the likelihood of running aground on the shoals of uncharted territory.

They further concede that the law establishing the 100-to-1 ratio between powder cocaine and crack cocaine for sentencing purposes was constitutional when enacted . . . So far, so good. But then the majority veers off into the abyss . . .

The majority reaches [its] conclusion without citing a single case in support. This is not due to a lack of diligent research; it is due to the lack of any such cases. The best the majority can do is try to distinguish two Supreme Court decisions (McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279 (1987), and Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256 (1979)) that even the majority concedes “on first glance might appear to sanction the discrimination at issue here.” Maj. Op. 9. Those efforts at distinguishing McCleskey and Feeney are in vain, however, because binding Sixth Circuit precedent has already foreclosed the majority’s constitutional argument.

Reducing the sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine was certainly good policy, whether or not it was constitutionally required. Whatever one thinks of the merits, and the propriety of the court’s decision to reach out for the constitutional question, the issue is certainly cert worthy. And given the Sixth Circuit’s recent record in the Supreme Court, I would think a grant is reasonably likely — unless this opinion were to be overturned en banc.

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