Prison

~Spiritual Contentment is found through the spirit only~

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What Is the Secret to Contentment?

Discontentment is trying to penetrate my armor this morning. Trying to steal my worship and thankfulness to God and His wonderful son for delivering me from the spirit of greed and selfishness. When I acquired fame and fortune in this world I never imagined how destructive I became in my inner man. Seventeen cars, 9 houses and 3 companies grossing well over what I could have ever imagined. Time shares and plenty cognac and women. Cocaine and money and of course clothes and 600 pairs of shoes in different homes. Prison and God’s providence showed up to place me in a crucible of restoration and now I am learning what contentment is…

If you belong to Christ, like the apostle Paul you can and should learn the secret of a contented life. When Paul wrote “godliness with contentment is great gain” he wasn’t just speaking philosophically (1 Tim. 6:6). He had learned the secret to contentment in every circumstance of life (Phil 4:11-2). While that secret eludes most people, it need not elude any true believer. For those who are willing to learn, here are six steps to a contented life from the life and teaching of Paul.

First, learn to give thanks in all things. Paul had learned to give thanks in every circumstance and he exhorted all believers to do the same. Thankfulness is first of all a matter of obedience (1 Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:18), but it is also a characteristic of a Spirit-filled believer (Eph. 5:18-20).

Second, learn to rest in God’s providence. If we truly know God, we know that He is unfolding His agenda and purpose in our lives. He has sovereignly determined each part of His plan for us so that we’ll be benefited and He’ll be glorified (cf. Rom. 8:28). We should not be surprised or ungrateful when we experience trials because we know that God sees perfectly the end result (cf.1 Pet. 4:12-13).

Third, learn to be satisfied with little. Paul had learned to make the choice to be satisfied with little, and he knew it was important for others to learn to make that same choice. In 1 Timothy 6:6Paul exhorted a young pastor with these words: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” Paul understood that covetousness and contentment are mutually exclusive.

Fourth, learn to live above life’s circumstances. That’s how Paul lived. In 2 Cor. 12:9-10 he wrote, “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.”

Paul didn’t take pleasure in the pain itself, but in the power of Christ manifested through him in times of infirmity, reproach, persecution, and distress. We also should learn to take pleasure in the power of Christ in times of distress.

Fifth, learn to rely on God’s power and provision. The apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”; and Jesus said He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Like Paul, we can learn to rely on Christ’s promise. He faithfully infuses every believer with His own strength and sustains them in their time of need until they receive provision from His hand (Eph. 3:16).

Finally, become preoccupied with the well-being of others. Paul summarized this mindset inPhilippians 2:3-4, where he wrote: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

A self-centered man is a discontented man. But the soul of the generous man, the man who lives for the interests and benefit of others, will find blessing upon blessing in his life (see Prov. 11:24-5;19:17; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6).

The Secret of Contentment

~The Apostle Paul Accepted His Calling, No Matter What It Entailed~

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Whenever prisons or prisoners are portrayed by the media or the entertainment industry or even just discussed by ordinary people often the expression, “doing hard time” is used. I have served many years in just these type of places – like the ADX in Florence, CO – that are sometimes used as examples of “hard time.” And to be honest, I did not and do not think of those years as “hard time” or the rest of them as “easy time.” It was just “doing time…”

When prisoners say, “doing time,” we mean it literally. How we deal with or mitigate the damage of those units of time we are serving, whether it’s  years, decades, or forever. Some of us also consider self-improvement and attempting to gain our freedom part of doing time. There s an opposite to that, of course. We refer to it as, “time doing you.” That is when you allow your conditions to define you and fall into negative or self-destructive behaviors like drugs, gangs, or unnecessary violence.

“The coldest, most inhumane time I have done were the years that I spent at the ADX, or Administrative Maximum in Florence, Colorado. Among other labels it has been described as, “The Alcatraz of the Rockies,” and the most secure prison in the world.”

I was taken there right after it opened. I was there with Tim McVeigh, the Unabomber, and some of the first World Trade Center bombers, and various gang and mob leaders. I m often asked what it was like being there and it is a hard question. This is because your circumstances change there over the years. Also, there is no common ground to start from, nothing to compare it to. My standard answer is, “Imagine being locked behind two steel doors into a very small bathroom, and three times a day, large, angry men bring food to you. Five times a week, three of those large, angry men chain you up and escort you with sticks to a slightly larger room for an hour of court-mandated recreation. That s an incomplete answer, but it usually ends the conversation, which is the point. For the purposes of this conversation, I will try and be more detailed. One primary aspect I remember is that in the ADX, for the first time in my life, I was truly alone. Of course, it was solitary confinement, but this is the modern version with soundproofing and baffles in the vents, etc. We did have intermittent contact with a few people on the range in rec periods, but that was a few hours a week.

And he took him aside from the multitude (Mark 7:33).

Paul not only stood the tests in Christian activity, but in the solitude of captivity. You may stand the strain of the most intense labor, coupled with severe suffering, and yet break down utterly when laid aside from all religious activities; when forced into close confinement in some prison house.

That noble bird, soaring the highest above the clouds and enduring the longest flights, sinks into despair when in a cage where it is forced to beat its helpless wings against its prison bars. You have seen the great eagle languish in its narrow cell with bowed head and drooping wings. What a picture of the sorrow of inactivity.

Paul in prison. That was another side of life. Do you want to see how he takes it? I see him looking out over the top of his prison wall and over the heads of his enemies. I see him write a document and sign his name–not the prisoner of Festus, nor of Caesar; not the victim of the Sanhedrin; but the–“prisoner of the Lord.” He saw only the hand of God in it all. To him the prison becomes a palace. Its corridors ring with shouts of triumphant praise and joy.

Restrained from the missionary work he loved so well, he now built a new pulpit–a new witness stand–and from that place of bondage come some of the sweetest and most helpful ministries of Christian liberty. What precious messages of light come from those dark shadows of captivity.

Think of the long train of imprisoned saints who have followed in Paul’s wake. For twelve long years Bunyan’s lips were silenced in Bedford jail. It was there that he did the greatest and best work of his life. There he wrote the book that has been read next to the Bible. He says, “I was at home in prison and I sat me down and wrote, and wrote, for joy did make me write.” The wonderful dream of that long night has lighted the pathway of millions of weary pilgrims.

That sweet-spirited French lady, Madam Guyon, lay long between prison walls. Like some caged birds that sing the sweeter for their confinement, the music of her soul has gone out far beyond the dungeon walls and scattered the desolation of many drooping hearts.

Oh, the heavenly consolation that has poured forth from places of solitude!

Taken aside by Jesus,
To feel the touch of His hand;
To rest for a while in the shadow
Of the Rock in a weary land.
Taken aside by Jesus,
In the loneliness dark and drear,
Where no other comfort may reach me,
Than His voice to my heart so dear.
Taken aside by Jesus,
To be quite alone with Him,
To hear His wonderful tones of love
‘Mid the silence and shadows dim.
Taken aside by Jesus,
Shall I shrink from the desert place;
When I hear as I never heard before,
And see Him ‘face to face’?

Another African American Experience

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President Obama Joins the “I Am Trayvon Martin” Chorus

President Obama reminded the world that he is a black man in America. Who knew? At a surprise appearance on Friday at the White House, Obama spoke for the first time on the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder trial. Obama reminded the world that the African-American experience in America, particularly for men, creates a set of circumstances where black men are used to being feared and accustomed to the disparity with which they are treated by the law.

Obama personalized the experience of the black man in America by saying he too knows what it is like to have drivers lock their doors and women clutch their purses in his presence. Obama echoed the experiences of Eric Holder who recently said that he too had experienced what it was like to be a target simply because you are a black man.

Obama brought the bully pulpit to bear in describing the imbalance of justice afforded black men in America. In so many ways, he gave America a taste of the “conversation” that Holder spoke about having with his 15-year-old son and that Geraldo Rivera talked about having with his sons.

It is that conversation that fathers of minority children have when explaining how to deal with a biased criminal justice system in a day-to-day existence. It is a conversation with a goal of providing pragmatic advice to combat a system that targets and arrests black men at higher rates than any other ethnicity in America.

In Obama’s speech he basically recounted what we know already. The rules of the game, based on past and current history, are stacked against black men. We already know the statistics. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that one in 15 African-Americans are incarcerated and one in three can expect to be incarcerated in their lifetime. Black men are profiled at alarmingly higher rates than others in America. They receive longer sentences for similar crimes holding constant for age, criminal history, and location. Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Project, notes that a Department of Justice report on racial profiling found that “black people are three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop, twice as likely to be arrested, and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.” The Sentencing Project found that African-American youth have higher rates of juvenile incarceration and are more likely to be sentenced to adult prisons. The Department of Education found that African-American students are arrested more than white classmates. Black men are arrested at four times the rate of white men for possession of marijuana, even though usage rates among blacks and whites are numerically equivalent.

Scott Rasmussen wrote, “There’s a reason most black Americans believe our justice system is out to get them.”

When, Trayvon Martin was murdered, Obama gave a speech where he said if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon. Today he reminded the world that he looks like Trayvon too.
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A recent article on PolicyMic in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict sparked my interest, not because of the contents of the article itself, but because of the comments that followed. The young white woman in the video that the article linked to claimed that middle-class whites who take up the “I am Trayvon Martin” rallying cry are, in fact, deluding themselves if they believe the cultural education that they have received doesn’t teach fear of black people. Most of the white commenters responded angrily, denouncing the video and claiming that they were never taught to be racist. I could not adequately respond in the comments so I decided to write a letter and publish it here.

Dear White People of America,

I know you weren’t taught to be racists. Your parents were/are good people who worked hard and never hated anyone. You went to decent schools and have lived in diverse places. You publicly espouse tolerance for everyone. I know you weren’t taught to be racists. But somehow many of you have absorbed, if not racist attitudes, then certainly prejudiced ones.

Though I know that it will be viewed as such in many quarters, I don’t intend this opening to be inflammatory. What I want is to spark a real conversation around race, privilege, and perception, a conversation that has been sorely lacking in America and which is not happening in any meaningful way even in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict. Whites, blacks, and other minorities keep talking past each other regarding race. If we are to prevent the tragic deaths of more children, then this has to stop.

America’s current issue with race is not the problem of old. The KKK doesn’t roam the streets looking for people to lynch anymore. Nooses no longer adorn trees, dangling “strange fruit” as a warning to black people to stay in their place. Governors don’t stand in school house doors proclaiming the never-ending reign of segregation. Our current problems are deeper and much harder to talk about. They are as deep as our thoughts, and few alive today were taught by any authority figure in our formative years to actively hate. But somehow, we have absorbed the lesson that we should actively fear.

That’s what George Zimmerman did. He actively feared a young black kid walking home from the store in the dark. Why? Zimmerman’s father was a judge, someone dedicated to upholding a colorblind law. I seriously doubt that he taught his soon that black people were a threat. So who did? Why did George Zimmerman, and why do so many of you, so actively distrust and fear black youth that laws that could justify the killing of such youth are allowed?

How did this irrational fear creep into our national culture and indoctrinate us? I have no real answers to that question. I suspect that it has something to do with media portrayals of black people coupled with the realities of minority poverty. Shows that portray white criminals tend to do so in a sort of fantasy of storytelling. Who is likely to meet an Italian mobster in their everyday life? Conversely, shows like The Wire and Oz purport to portray a “slice of life” in black neighborhoods. We are much more likely to meet people like those characters, black men with a violent streak. Hip-hop has, for years, been one-dimensionally viewed as violent and disruptive. And who makes hip-hop? Black males. The murder statistics out of Chicago are appalling and splashed all over the news. Black kids are shown as dropouts and dope dealers, gang-bangers and thugs. With so many violent and negative portrayals, it’s no wonder that many of you unconsciously think of black men as a threat.

Here is a painful admission. I, a black man, harbor much of this fear as well. I too have been indoctrinated to fear black males. My heart rate quickens and I begin to look for possible avenues of escape when I see an unknown black man approaching on the street, especially if he is wearing “thug clothes.” I roll up my windows when a black person pulls up next to me in a jacked-up Cadillac blasting rap.

If I can own up to the fear, white people, I think you should too. Let’s all stop hiding behind the “I’m not a racist” excuse and admit that we do fear the Other, especially if the Other is a black male. Let’s look at what we consume in the media and how our culture shapes us and admit that it just might be affecting how we think about minority males.

White people, I know you weren’t taught to be racist. But if the effects are the same — if innocent kids can be gunned down and the killers can get off and even be defended by whites as “being within their rights,” if you can still pass laws that disenfranchise and impoverish minorities without protest, if you can carry on as if everything is OK when black people are dying in the streets of our cities — then how am I to tell the difference? I’ll take you at your word that you’re not racist and weren’t taught to be so. But until you can admit that many of you harbor an irrational fear of black men, then we can’t really begin the process of making all of us safer.

Sincerely,

A Black Man

FELONY DISENFRANCHISEMENT

Nationally, an estimated 5.85 million Americans are denied the right to vote because of laws that prohibit voting by people with felony convictions. Felony disenfranchisement is an obstacle to participation in democratic life which is exacerbated by racial disparities in the criminal justice system, resulting in 1 of every 13 African Americans unable to vote.

Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.

The court divided along ideological lines, and the two sides drew sharply different lessons from the history of the civil rights movement and the nation’s progress in rooting out racial discrimination in voting. At the core of the disagreement was whether racial minorities continued to face barriers to voting in states with a history of discrimination.

“Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

The decision will have immediate practical consequences. Texas announced shortly after the decision that a voter identification law that had been blocked would go into effect immediately, and that redistricting maps there would no longer need federal approval. Changes in voting procedures in the places that had been covered by the law, including ones concerning restrictions on early voting, will now be subject only to after-the-fact litigation.

President Obama, whose election as the nation’s first black president was cited by critics of the law as evidence that it was no longer needed, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg summarized her dissent from the bench, an unusual move and a sign of deep disagreement. She cited the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and said his legacy and the nation’s commitment to justice had been “disserved by today’s decision.”

She said the focus of the Voting Rights Act had properly changed from “first-generation barriers to ballot access” to “second-generation barriers” like racial gerrymandering and laws requiring at-large voting in places with a sizable black minority. She said the law had been effective in thwarting such efforts.

The law had applied to nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states, including Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Congress remained free to try to impose federal oversight on states where voting rights were at risk, but must do so based on contemporary data. But the chances that the current Congress could reach agreement on where federal oversight is required are small, most analysts say.

http://nyti.ms/148VK31

Is sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole constitutional?

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We’ve all done something bad. But imagine doing something bad, so bad that you go to jail for the rest of your life, with no chance of parole. Would this be considered a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which protects us from “cruel and unusual punishment”?

That is the heart of the issue of the Supreme Court cases Sullivan v. Florida and Graham v. Florida. In both cases, the juveniles were found guilty of offenses in which no one was killed, and they received life sentences without the chance of release. These two are among the over one hundred cases across the country in which a juvenile was sentenced to life in prison without parole for non-homicide offenses.
In Sullivan, Joe Sullivan was sent away for life for raping an elderly woman when he was 13. The case of Graham focuses on Terrance Graham, who was implicated in armed robberies when he was 16 and 17. In both cases, the judge ruled against the advice of the Department of Corrections and gave the stiffest punishment allowable by law.

In Sullivan, the judge said that he was “beyond help,” and the judge who sentenced Graham to life without parole stated during sentencing: “If I can’t do anything to help you, then I have to . . . protect the community from your actions.”

These cases come after the 2005 Supreme Court case Roper v. Simmons, where the court ruled 5 to 4 that it is unconstitutional to execute anyone convicted of a crime when he or she was a juvenile.

Now the issue is whether letting a juvenile spend the rest of his or her life in prison is constitutional. Furthermore, the issue of whether prisons are meant to rehabilitate criminals or keep them away from society is being raised.

Bryan Stevenson, who represents Joe Sullivan, concedes that there is a difference between the death penalty and life without parole. But he says that a life term is different from other prison sentences because it denies the prisoner any hope for a future. “They’re just two different kinds of death sentences,” he said before the court. “One is death by execution, the other death by incarceration.”

Nineteen states, including Louisiana, have filed a brief supporting life sentences without parole for juveniles in non-homicide cases. “I disagree that the juvenile crimes are any less culpable than the adult crimes,” said Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell in an NPR interview. “These are young criminals. That’s what they are, and the ones who are getting these sentences are the worst of those.”

The court seemed divided on the issue. Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, “The confusion and uncertainty about the moral responsibility of a 13-year-old is such that it is a cruel thing to do to remove from that individual his entire life. You see, we are at the extreme.”

Justice Samuel Alito disagreed with Breyer, remarking, “You are saying that, no matter what this person does, commits the most horrible series of non-homicide offenses that you can imagine, a whole series of brutal rapes, assaults that render the victim paraplegic but not dead, no matter what, the person is sentenced, shows no remorse whatsoever, the worst case you can possibly imagine, that person must at some point be made eligible for parole?”

In a victory for the rights for juveniles, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that a sentence of life without parole is unconstitutional for anyone under 18. The majority opinion, which follows a 2005 ruling that executing minors is unconstitutional, said the punishment must be interpreted in light of the country’s “evolving standards of decency.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, went on to say, “By denying the defendant the right to enter the community, the state makes an irrevocable judgment about that person’s value and place in society.” Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a dissenting opinion, said that interpreting the Eighth Amendment with the changing societal standards is “entirely the court’s creation.” He argued that the “question of what acts are ‘deserving’ of what punishments is bound so tightly with questions of morality and social conditions as to make it, almost by definition, a question for legislative resolution.”

Please let me hear from you on what you think about this issue. I have two young adults sentenced to life one in Maryland and one in California. I lost my daughter at the age of 18 and my son at the age of 19 and it haunts me every day. I can’t Imagine losing a younger child at the age of 13 to 14 years old.

‘Fruitvale Station’: The Angry Life and Death of Young, Black Oscar Grant

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A man stands next to a photo of Oscar Grant during a protest against Grant’s killing in Oakland, California, June 12, 2011.

Ryan Coogler’s film ‘Fruitvale Station’ strips the polemics from the news story of Oscar Grant, a man shot to death by police while handcuffed, and presents the victim’s 22-year struggle warts and all.

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, 2009, 22-year-old Oakland resident Oscar Grant was handcuffed and shot in the back at point blank range on a subway platform by Bay Area Transit Police officer Johannes Mehserle.

Shocked onlookers captured the entire incident on video. Oscar Grant, who is African-American, succumbed to his injuries the next day at a local hospital, and the video of his killing went viral. The images of the cuffed young man being shot set off a wake of protests and riots in Oakland—and drew a degree of national attention to the issue of police brutality that hadn’t been as intense since the beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers in 1992.

In the days and weeks that followed, Grant’s story devolved into a shouting match in the national media. To some he became a saint who died standing up against police mistreatment. To others, the victim was a scourge whose previous crimes (Oscar Grant served multiple prison stints) somehow justified his killing.

The reality of Oscar Grant’s life and the tragic shooting that ended it is far more complicated than either polarized view—and is the subject of a new feature film, Fruitvale Station, by rookie director Ryan Coogler. The winner of both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and opening in select theaters July 12, Fruitvale Station strips Grant’s story of its polemics and focuses on the man himself.

“I wanted to take all the politics out of this film,” Coogler recently told an audience gathered to see a screening of Fruitvale Station at the University of Southern California. “He was 22 when he was shot. I was 22. His friends could have been my friends. That could have been me.”

In 2009, Coogler was a USC film-school student spending his winter break back in Oakland. Oscar Grant’s shooting, he says, was a “gut punch” for both him and his community. Coogler immediately knew he wanted to tackle the issue in some capacity. Through a friend, he was able to land a job with the lawyers in Grant’s civil trial. He worked as an archivist for the cell phone footage taken the night police shot Grant.

Coogler’s access to the specific details of Grant’s case allowed him to piece together the moment-to-moment details of Grant’s last day on Earth—and fleshed out his feelings for Grant as a human being, beyond the black-and-white sketches he’d seen in the media.

After penning an initial script for Fruitvale Station, Coogler, through the lawyers he worked for, convinced Oscar Grant’s family to participate in the film. They provided the filmmaker with achingly intimate memories of Grant, including some they might have choosen to forget if they could.

The result, instead of a hagiography, or a trumped up ode to a soldier martyred in the struggle for social justice, is that Coogler’s film plays like a meditation on the consequences of anger.

Despite a well-intentioned attempt to reboot his life in the wake of a prison sentence, Oscar Grant on the screen in Fruitvale Station is an angry man. His short trigger alienates him from his family, compromises his job prospects and, ultimately, paves the way for the incident that left him dead at the hands of police.

No, he did not deserve the fate he was dealt on that subway platform, but when you put as much anger into the world as Grant did, Coogler seems to be saying, it shouldn’t be suprising when something comes back.

The man who most of us have seen bleeding on a subway platform on YouTube is human. He is neither a martyr, nor a scourge, and he was far from being an aberration.

Oscar Grant was not alone in his anger, and his anger did not emanate from a vacuum. The world has no shortage of young people whose furious dissatisfaction is fueled by and based upon the circumstances they have been born into.

The fact that American audiences cannot help but identify with Oscar Grant is the deep reality that gives this movie its award-winning power, a “gut punch” that is felt long after the screening has finished.

“The Reason why the colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition,”

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In spite of the progress that has been made in the United States since the Civil Rights Movement toward achieving racial justice, racism remains the single most destructive force in American society. Social problems such as poverty, unemployment, urban decay, deteriorating educational opportunities, crime and violence are all elevated by the persistence of racism in our society.

To reduce all forms of discrimination including racism, it is important that we keep moving forward with the necessary legal reforms. But past history reveals that we cannot legislate an end to racism. People must address racism in personal relationships and in their daily lives. Racism must be challenged in our workplace, schools, the media, and in every institution of our society.
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Do standardized achievement tests unfairly advantage white and Asian students and disadvantage the rest? According to a group of educational organizations and civil rights groups the answer is yes. The recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education pointing out that black and Latino students in New York score below whites and Asians on standardized tests so consistently that although they are almost 70% of the overall student body, they are only 11% of students enrolled at elite public schools. As a result, the complaint argues that New York City is in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because schools rely on a test that advantages one racial group over another.

This is not the only instance where race has become an important factor for how standardized tests are used in public education. Just last month public schools in both Virginia and Washington D.C. announced targets for how many students in each racial group must pass for schools to remain in good standing. For example, in Virginia only 45% of black students in each school must pass standardized math tests while 68% of whites, and 82% of Asians must do the same. Officials say that these plans are not discriminatory because students who are the farthest behind must progress the most, but critics reason that if one expects less from some students, those lower educational expectations will become a self-fulfilling prophecy for school districts and those students will fall even farther behind.

The Convict Lease System and Lynch Law are twin infamies which flourish hand in hand in many of the United States. They are the two great outgrowths and results of the class legislation under which our people suffer to-day. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington claim to be too poor to maintain state convicts within prison walls. Hence the convicts are leased out to work for railway contractors, mining companies and those who farm large plantations. These companies assume charge of the convicts, work them as cheap labor and pay the states a handsome revenue for their labor. Ninetenths of these convicts are Negroes. There are two reasons for this.

(1) The religious, moral and philanthropic forces of the country — all the agencies which tend to uplift and reclaim the degraded and ignorant, are in the hands of the Anglo-Saxon. Not only has very little effort been made by these forces to reclaim the Negro from the ignorance, immorality and shiftlessness with which he is charged, but he has always been and is now rigidly excluded from the enjoyment of those elevating influences toward which he felt voluntarily drawn. In communities where Negro population is largest and these counteracting influences most needed, the doors of churches, schools, concert halls, lecture rooms, Young Men’s Christian Associations, and Women’s Christian Temperance Unions, have always been and are now closed to the Negro who enters on his own responsibility. Only as a servant or inferior being placed in one corner is he admitted. The white Christian and moral influences have not only done little to prevent the Negro becoming a criminal, but they have deliberately shut him out of everything which tends to make for good citizenship.

To have Negro blood in the veins makes one unworthy of consideration, a social outcast, a leper, even in the church. Two Negro Baptist Ministers, Rev. John Frank, the pastor of the largest colored church in Louisville, Ky., and Rev. C. H. Parish, President of Extein Norton University at Cane Spring, Ky., were in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, in May when the Southern Baptist Convention was in session. They visited the meeting and took seats in the body of the church. At the request of the Association, a policeman was called and escorted these men out because they would not take the seats set apart for colored persons in the back part of the Tabernacle. Both these men are scholarly, of good moral character, and members of the Baptist denomination. But they were Negroes, and that eclipsed everything else. This spirit is even more rampant in the more remote, densely populated plantation districts. The Negro is shut out and ignored, left to grow up in ignorance and vice. Only in the gambling dens and saloons does he meet any sort of welcome. What wonder that he falls into crime?

(2) The second reason our race furnishes so large a share of the convicts is that the judges, juries and other officials of the courts are white men who share these prejudices. They also make the laws. It is wholly in their power to extend clemency to white criminals and mete severe punishment to black criminals for the same or lesser crimes. The Negro criminals are mostly ignorant, poor and friendless. Possessing neither money to employ lawyers nor influential friends, they are sentenced in large numbers to long terms of imprisonment for petty crimes. The People’s Advocate, a Negro journal, of Atlanta, Georgia, has the following observation on the prison showing of that state for 1892. “It is an astounding fact that 90 per cent of the state’s convicts are colored; 194 white males and 2 white females; 1,710 colored males and 44 colored females. Is it possible that Georgia is so color prejudiced that she won’t convict her white law-breakers. Yes, it is just so, but we hope for a better day.”

George W. Cable, author of The Grandissimes, Dr. Sevier, etc., in a paper on “The Convict Lease System,” read before a Prison Congress in Kentucky says: “In the Georgia penitentiary in 1880, in a total of nearly 1200 convicts, only 22 prisoners were serving as low a term as one year, only 52 others as low as two years, only 76 others as low a term as three years; while those who were under sentences of ten years and over numbered 538, although ten years, as the rolls show, is the utmost length of time that a convict can be expected to remain alive in a Georgia penitentiary. Six men were under sentence for simple assault and battery — mere fisticuffing — one of two years, two of five years, one of six years, one of seven and one of eight. For larceny, three men were serving under sentence of twenty years, five were sentenced each for fifteen years; one for fourteen years, six for twelve years; thirty-five for ten years, and 172 from one year up to nine years. In other words, a large majority of these 1200 convicts had for simple stealing, without breaking in or violence, been virtually condemned to be worked and misused to death. One man was under a twenty years’ sentence for hog-stealing. Twelve men were sentenced to the South Carolina penitentiary on no other finding but a misdemeanor commonly atoned for by a fine of a few dollars, and which thousands of the state’s inhabitants (white) are constantly committing with impunity — the carrying of concealed weapons. Fifteen others were sentenced for mere assault and battery. In Louisiana a man was sentenced to the penitentiary for 12 months for stealing five dollars worth of gunnysacks! Out of 2378 convicts in the Texas prison in 1882, only two were under sentence of less than two years length, and 509 of these were under twenty years of age. Mississippi’s penitentiary roll for the same year showed 70 convicts between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age serving long terms. Tennessee showed 12 boys under 18 years of age, under sentences of more than a year; and the North Carolina penitentiary had 234 convicts under 20 years of age serving long terms.”

Mr. Cable goes on to say in another part of his admirable paper: “In the Georgia convict force only 15 were whites among 215 who were under sentences of more than ten years.” What is true of Georgia is true of the convict lease system everywhere. The details of vice, cruelty and death thus fostered by the states whose treasuries are enriched thereby, equals anything from Siberia. Men, women and children are herded together like cattle in the filthiest quarters and chained together while at work. The Chicago Inter-Ocean recently printed an interview with a young colored woman who was sentenced six months to the convict farm in Mississippi for fighting. The costs, etc., lengthened the time to 18 months. During her imprisonment she gave birth to two children, but lost the first one from premature confinement, caused by being tied up by the thumbs and punished for failure to do a full day’s work. She and other women testified that they were forced to criminal intimacy with the guards and cook to get food to eat.

Correspondence to the Washington D.C. Evening Star dated Sept. 27, 1892, on this same subject has the following:

The fact that the system puts a large number of criminals afloat in the community from the numerous escapes is not its worst feature. The same report shows that the mortality is fearful in the camps. In one camp it is stated that the mortality is 10 per cent per month, and in another even more than that. In these camps men and women are found chained together, and from twenty to twenty-five children have been born in captivity in the convicts’ camps.

Some further facts are cited with reference to the system in use in Tennessee. The testimony of a guard at the Coal Creek prison in Tennessee shows that prisoners, black and dirty from their work in the mines, were put into their rooms in the stockades without an opportunity to change their clothing or sufficient opportunity for cleanliness. Convicts were whipped, a man standing at the head and another at the feet, while a third applied the lash with both hands. Men who failed to perform their task of mining from two to four tons of coal per day were fastened to planks by the feet, then bent over a barrel and fastened by the hands on the other side, stripped and beaten with a strap. Out of the fifty convicts worked in the mines from one to eight were whipped per day in this manner. There was scarcely a day, according to the testimony of the witness, James Frazier, in which one or more were not flogged in this manner for failure to perform their day’s task. The work in the mines was difficult and the air sometimes so bad that the men fell insensible and had to be hauled out. Their beds he described as “dirty, black and nasty looking.” One of the convicts, testifying as to the kind of food given them, said that the pea soup was made from peas containing weevils and added: “I have got a spoonful of weevils off a cup of soup.” In many cases convicts were forced to work in water six inches deep for weeks at a time getting out coal with one-fourth of the air necessary for a healthy man to live in, forced to drink water from stagnant pools when mountain springs were just outside of the stockades, and the reports of the prison officials showing large numbers killed in attempting to escape.

The defense of this prison is based wholly upon its economy to the state. It is argued that it would cost large sums of money to build penitentiaries in which to confine and work the prisoners as is done in the Northern States, while the lease system brings the state a revenue and relieves it of the cost of building and maintaining prisons. The fact that the convicts labor is in this way brought into direct competition with free labor does not seem to be taken into account. The contractors, who get these laborers for 30 or 40 cents per day, can drive out of the market the man who employs free labor at $1 a day.

This condition of affairs briefly alluded to in detail in Tennessee and Georgia exists in other Southern States. In North Carolina the same system exists, except that only able-bodied convicts are farmed out. The death rates among the convicts is reported as greater than the death rate of New Orleans in the greatest yellow fever epidemic ever known. In Alabama a new warden with his natural instincts unblunted by familiarity with the situation wrote of it: “The system is a better training school for criminals than any of the dens of iniquity in our large cities. The system is a disgrace to the state and the reproach of the civilization and Christian sentiment of the age.”

Every Negro so sentenced not only means able-bodied men to swell the state’s number of slaves, but every Negro so convicted is thereby disfranchised.

It has been shown that numbers of Negro youths are sentenced to these penitentiaries every year and there mingle with the hardened criminals of all ages and both sexes. The execution of law does not cease with the incarceration of those of tender years for petty crimes. In the state of South Carolina last year Mildred Brown, a little thirteen year old colored girl was found guilty of murder in the first degree on the charge of poisoning a little white infant that she nursed. She was sentenced to be hanged. The Governor refused to commute her sentence, and on October 7th, 1892, at Columbia, South Carolina, she was hanged on the gallows. This made the second colored female hanged in that state within one month. Although tried, and in rare cases convicted for murder and other crimes, no white girl in this country ever met the same fate. The state of Alabama in the same year hanged a ten year old Negro boy. He was charged with the murder of a peddler.

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“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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Controversy Of The Cross

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the CrossRun But Can't Hide

1 Corinthians 1:17-25 (New International Version)
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

A case before the US Supreme Court focused on whether a religious symbol, specifically a cross, should be allowed on public land. Mark Sherman, writing for Associated Press, said that although the cross in question was erected in 1934 as a memorial to soldiers who died in World War 1, one veteran’s group that opposed it called the cross “a powerful Christian symbol” and “not a symbol of any other religion.”

The cross has always been controversial. In the first century, the apostle Paul said that Christ had sent him “to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”. As followers of Christ, we see the cross as more than a powerful Christian symbol. It is the evidence of God’s power to free us from the tyranny of our sin.

In a diverse and pluralistic society, the controversy over religious symbols will continue. Whether a cross can be displayed on public property will likely be determined by the courts. But displaying the power of the cross through our lives will be decided in our hearts.

Christ takes each sin, each pain, each loss,
And by the power of His cross
Transforms our brokenness and shame
So that our lives exalt His name.

Nothing speaks more clearly of God’s love than the cross…..

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Warning Signs That We Should Prepare For The Worst

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I am seriously looking at the affairs of state and even my life in retrospect of the legal system and our government. Major pieces of the story are unfolding before my eyes. Even while on my bed of meditation “My God” is
still on the throne performing His will in the lives of those consecrated to Him. Position yourself first in The Living God and then prepare accordingly.

The warning signs are all around us. All we have to do is open up our eyes and look at them. Almost every single day there are more prominent voices in the financial world telling us that a massive economic crisis is coming and that we need to prepare for the worst. On Wednesday, it was the World Bank itself that issued a very chilling warning. In an absolutely startling report, the World Bank revised GDP growth estimates for 2012 downward very sharply, warned that Europe could be on the verge of a devastating financial crisis, and declared that the rest of the world better “prepare for the worst.” You would expect to hear this kind of thing on The Economic Collapse Blog, but this is not the kind of language that you would normally expect to hear from the stuffed suits at the World Bank. Obviously things have gotten bad enough that nobody is even really trying to deny it anymore. Andrew Burns, the lead author of the report, said that if the sovereign debt crisis gets even worse we could be looking at an economic crisis that could be even worse than the last one: “An escalation of the crisis would spare no-one. Developed- and developing-country growth rates could fall by as much or more than in 2008/09.” Burns also stated that the “importance of contingency planning cannot be stressed enough.” In other words, Burns is saying that it is time to prepare for the worst. So are you ready?

NationalDebt1-1024x765
Our Prosperity Is An Illusion

That being said, I do believe America is in for some tough times ahead. I still believe America is the greatest country on earth, but we’ve had it too good for too long and, as a result, our nation has become sadly complacent with its finances. So much so that I believe we’ve crossed the Rubicon.

Our government is now so massive, and its obligations — both present and future — are so large that, barring a remarkable and sudden change of attitude by our politicians, a systemic economic collapse is inevitable.

The US National Debt is currently more than $16 trillion. Unfortunately, the US currently owes, depending on who you believe, somewhere between $50 and $100 trillion more in unfunded liabilities for things like Social Security, Medicare and public employee pensions.

America has been able to run up these huge debts because it broke away from the gold standard in 1971. The gold standard imposed at least a modicum of fiscal responsibility and faith in the US dollar because the world’s central banks were allowed to exchange their greenbacks for the gold sitting in Fort Knox.

But once the gold standard was abandoned, our politicians were freed from the constraints that had previously forced them to be fiscally accountable. Pandora’s box was opened.

Since then, lawmakers have been borrowing an unlimited quantity of freshly-printed money to fund their spending sprees — courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank — thereby eliminating the need to worry about tax hikes.

As you can see by the chart below, government spending — and the inherent money printing that is ultimately required to finance it — is now completely out of control; the National Debt is expected to reach $20 trillion by the end of this decade.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Every new dollar that is printed by the Fed increases the money supply, which in turn reduces the value of the dollars already existence — including the ones in your wallet and retirement account.

As you can see from the chart below, soon after the United States abandoned the gold standard in 1971 — and our politicians began to greatly expand the size and scope of the government — cumulative price increases embarked upon an exponential trajectory. Those price increases are the result of the declining purchasing power of the US dollar. In fact, the buck’s purchasing power has been decimated since 1971; so much so that today you would need $559 to buy something that cost $100 back then.

Inflation-in-the-United-States-Since-18001
Clearly, abandoning the gold standard was a fiscally reckless decision, akin to giving a teenager a credit card without a credit limit. To illustrate, let’s first look at the current impacts of America’s spending addiction:

2012 Federal revenue: $2,468,000,000,000
2012 Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
2012 New debt: $1,352,000,000,000
National debt: $16,350,000,000,000
Interest paid on National Debt in 2012: $220,000,000,000
Proposed 2013 sequestration spending cuts: $ 85,000,000,000
Next, let’s drop a whole bunch of zeros from those figures to make the federal government’s ledger look at least little more like a typical household’s finances:

2012 Household income: $24,680
2012 Household expenditures: $38,200
2012 Credit card debt: $13,520
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $163,500
Annual interest on credit card debt: $2,200
Proposed 2013 spending cuts: $850
The figures reveal a dire situation. A financially responsible individual who found himself in a similar situation would drastically cut his spending while looking for ways to increase revenue.

Our politicians insist that’s exactly what they’re doing but, as you can see from the proposed spending cuts, they’re really just going through the motions, financing the nation’s obligations in the same way any financially irresponsible individual would — by taking on even more debt through the selling of US Treasury bonds.

It’s a practice that’s essentially no different than using a VISA card to pay the MasterCard bill.

The Illusion Is Unraveling

The problem is, using one credit card to pay another credit card bill only works for so long. As long as a debt addict can continue to find lenders who are willing to extend additional credit, the game can continue. But once the pool of lenders dries up, the game is over.

No, I can’t say exactly when this will happen. But it’s coming, folks — and when it does, middle-class America’s way of life will undergo a catastrophic change that will dramatically drop their standard of living forever more.

Until recently, the United States’ profligate spending wasn’t much of an issue. For years, plenty of investors — both foreign and domestic — have willingly parked a portion of their money into the perceived safety of America’s bonds. But over the long march of time, the dollar’s standing has seriously deteriorated and, as a result, foreign nations are becoming increasingly reluctant to buy US Treasury bonds because, thanks to the Fed’s near-zero interest rate policy, the risks are no longer worth the reward.

Normally, depressed demand for bonds results in higher interest rates, but so far the Fed has managed to keep bond demand artificially inflated via their quantitative easing campaigns. And the Fed is keeping US Treasury bond rates as low as possible now because interest payments on the National Debt already consume roughly 10% of annual revenue. If US Treasury bond rates increased to merely 5%, America would be forking over one-third of its annual revenue just to satisfy the interest on its $16.5 trillion National Debt; it would also be increasing its annual deficit by more than $800 billion.

The Beginning of “the End”

Although they won’t admit it, the Fed backed itself into a corner with its reckless easy-money policy. They know that once the money-printing party stops, interest rates will have to rise — and then the bond market will almost certainly crash. If that happens, things are going to get very interesting. For example:

As bond rates rise, mortgage interest rates will naturally follow them upwards. And since higher mortgage rates ultimately result in higher house payments for a given size loan, it follows that home prices will have to drop in order to keep them affordable — and the decline could be devastating.
The cost of borrowing will also go up for everyone else including small businesses, corporations, and state and local governments.
The stock market should fall as higher interest rates hurt economic growth and hurt stocks’ value.
Once interest rates start rising, a vicious cycle can ensue as higher interest rates beget larger deficits, which in turn lead to still higher interest rates. As the debt piles up, and the faith in the US dollar continues to diminish, the US will eventually reach its day of reckoning. The US will then be faced with two very unpleasant choices for solving the crisis: print away the debt or default.

Default would lead to the loss of the US dollar’s standing as the world’s reserve currency which would, among other things, cause the price of imports to skyrocket. Consumers’ purchasing power would plummet, and the government would be forced to severely cut back on its spending since it would no longer be able to finance its deficits. However, this is politically untenable.

So the more-likely alternative is that the Fed will simply print away the debt. That would result in hyperinflation as the last vestiges of the dollar’s utility as a reliable store-of-wealth all but disappeared.

What Will Economic Collapse Look Like?

While I don’t expect a Zombie Apocalypse resulting from either scenario, temporary supply disruptions caused by market uncertainties will be inevitable — and that will lead to empty supermarket shelves, fuel shortages and, possibly, utility failures that will almost certainly result in civil unrest and increased crime in more densely populated areas.

The good news is a new (hopefully gold-backed) currency will be issued and society will slowly recover. Eventually. I’m hoping it will take no more than six months before the supply chain recovers enough to eliminate most shortages.

Thankfully, tangible assets won’t go up in smoke after the economy resets; your home, automobile, and other possessions will be unaffected.

More good news: Any long-term debt you hold in old US dollars will essentially be wiped out because you should be able to retire it with worthless currency. It’s why I no longer bother trying to pay down my mortgage early.

Even so, things will never be the same for most people.

Although it’s anybody’s guess, I believe Americans will be lucky if their post-collapse standard-of-living will be equivalent to half of what it is now; worst case, one-third. That isn’t so bad if you earn $1 million per year but, if my assumption is correct, and you earn $60,000 annually, then your post-collapse standard-of-living will be between $20,000 and $30,000 today.

The ensuing economic collapse won’t be the end of the world, but it’s going to be a wild ride. Next, I’ll share some tips on how to survive an economic collapse, and get out relatively unharmed.

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Implementing Change While Being Within The Struggle

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ban the box
From: Magana, Marisela
Date: Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 9:22 AM
Subject: Ban The Box
To: May Chandler

Greetings,

In case you have not heard, there is a meeting addressing Ban the Box which you might find instructive. Our office has pushed your concern to the Congressman’s DC office.

Best,

Marisela Magaña

Office of Congressman Mark Takano

3403 10th Street, Suite 610

Riverside, CA 92501

Phone No: (951) 204-6315
I sincerely solicit your prayer abroad in behalf of this movement to set order and opportunity in place of a broken system. Thank you for your faithfulness and support of “Fresh Oil” and this cause. We are prepared to take this wherever struggles of this type are being practiced.

Through the mid-nineteenth century, the vast majority of blacks in America were slaves, human chattel imported from Africa beginning before the United States existed. Ironically, at the time the Declaration of Independence was written–which, of course, declared all men to be created equal and inspired the American colonies to separate themselves from their oppressive English rulers–African slaves in the territory were bought and sold like property.

More than eighty years later, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s infamous 1857 opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford gave judicial endorsement to what had long been practical reality: black people possessed no rights which the white man was bound to respect. They were not, and could not be, national citizens entitled to the rights and recognition accorded the title.

The Reconstruction period that followed President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War in 1865 seemed to mark a new era. Congressional advocates of emancipation and further reform of the South expressed a sense of legislative duty; to these representatives, the North that had freed the slaves and preserved the Union had a responsibility to ensure blacks’ legal protection through permanent, federally enforced constitutional action. Within five years of the war’s end, and less than fifteen years after Taney’s pronouncement in Dred Scott, constitutional amendments were ratified to abolish slavery, extend citizenship to all native-born blacks and voting rights to black men over the age of twenty-one, and explicitly outlaw racially discriminatory voting laws.

However, this grant of freedom and rights was not without qualification. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. . .. Similarly, the Fourteenth Amendment declared that no state could abridge the voting rights of male citizens over age twenty-one, except [as punishment] for participation in rebellion, or other crime . . . . Later hailed as proud historical achievements that finally blanketed all the nation’s citizens in freedom and democracy, these constitutional amendments actually left–and still leave–an entire category of citizens unprotected and vulnerable.

The consequences of this incomplete grant of rights became apparent soon after the end of Reconstruction. Southern state governments fully regained control of their courts and legislatures when federal troops pulled out of the South less than fifteen years after the war’s end. The Constitution’s new promise of black political and legal equality was an obstacle to the reinstitution of the region’s traditional power structure: white supremacy. No longer able to rely on the institution of slavery to maintain the racial hierarchy, and faced with federal laws limiting preferred alternatives, creative laws were devised to ensure whites’ social, political, and economic dominance.

In this context, the constitutionally codified civil rights exception for the criminally convicted became an instruction on how to legally deprive blacks of their freedom and political rights for centuries to come. Modern prison slavery and felon disenfranchisement are lingering remnants of post-Civil War laws that deliberately manipulated the criminal law for the purpose of relegating blacks to a constitutionally permissible state of second-class citizenship.

Born of Southern efforts to reestablish white supremacy by depriving black Americans of their civil rights under the guise of criminal justice, these laws, and the criminal justice system as a whole, continue to disproportionately impact black people and other minority groups. These consequences illustrate the danger inherent in exempting–as the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments do–whole categories of individuals from the constitutional protections most needed by marginalized minorities. The resulting policies expose the ease with which these exceptions have been, and continue to be, manipulated to undermine the purported national goals of freedom, equality, and democracy.

freedomfree
On May 4, 1961, a group of 13 African-American and white civil rights activists launched the Freedom Rides, a series of bus trips through the American South to protest segregation in interstate bus terminals. The Freedom Riders, who were recruited by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a U.S. civil rights group, departed from Washington, D.C., and attempted to integrate facilities at bus terminals along the way into the Deep South. African-American Freedom Riders tried to use “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters, and vice versa. The group encountered tremendous violence from white protestors along the route, but also drew international attention to their cause. Over the next few months, several hundred Freedom Riders engaged in similar actions. In September 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations prohibiting segregation in bus and train stations nationwide.

As these events took time to materialize Imagine how intense their waiting must have been. Uncertainty plagued peoples minds as it does ours today. My wife and I are on the move of pursuing reformation for 12 million felon’s around the world. God has blessed us with hope in that we have met with another willing vessel to help us carry our passion to the powers that be. This struggle to the disadvantaged group is no different than those aforementioned. Here is a bill constructed by my wife an “Argosy Psychology Major”.

Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination Act
****************************************************************************** SENATE OR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES) OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2013 Session

Introduced by: Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination
Primary Sponsor: Maymie Chandler-Pratt
Secondary Sponsor: Aaron D. Pratt

*****************************************************************************************
1. The purpose of this bill is to stop the employment discrimination of felons throughout the United States.

2. The (Senate or House of Representatives) of the United States of America hereby enacts as follows:

3. SECTION 1:

4. This act shall be known as the Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination Act

5. SECTION 2:

6. Reinstate people with felonies their right to work, and modify the hiring requirements in
7. companies from the unrealistic term of 7 to 10 years to 2 to 5 years for felons who are willing 8. and able to earn an honest living wage and are skilled in those areas of work.

9. SECTION 3:

10. Require companies to hire people with felonies after a period of 2 to 5 years after said
11. person(s) have finished parole, have successfully complied with terms of release as presented 12. by the parole board; (Drug Rehabilitation, boarding house residency, random drug testing)
13. and have demonstrated a desire to work by enrolling in classes to improve their work skills 14. and moral turpitude.
15. SECTION 4:
16. Require companies to at least have bonding agents and resources within the HR department 17. which will allow companies to be compensated with tax write offs as an incentive to hire felons.

18. SECTION 5: Funding

19. The cost of the implications of this proposal should not exceed the amount of $1,000,000.00 20. dollars. Funding for this bill will come partly from the Advocates against Felon Employment
21. Discrimination Act fundraising committee and participating government programs.

22. SECTION 6: Regulations

23. The EEOC has historically taken the position that an employer’s policy or practice of
24. excluding individuals from employment because they have criminal conviction record is
25. unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 unless the policy or practice is
26. justified by a business necessity. If the information was
27. erroneous or the conviction was not job-related, employees and applicants have a right to file 28. a discrimination claim with their state equal employment opportunity agency.
29. The government will impose sanctions on companies which are offering employment that
30. have no direct correlation with the crime that was committed by person’s applying for a job if 31. they don’t hire a person with a felony on their background that is older than 2 to 5 years
32. All offenders:
33. For most offenders it is difficult to prove that a possible employer illegally discriminated 34.against them even with an expungement. In California an individual’s criminal history is never 35. erased, but rather erases the word “Conviction” and replaces it with “Dismissed in Furtherance 36. of Justice” in the disposition.
37. Constitutional issues:
38. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution explicitly permits felon 39.disenfranchisement, but it has been pointed out that constitutional approval of felons’ political 40. powerlessness is not the same as constitutional approval of government prejudice toward the 41. politically powerless. Such prejudice may violate the Equal Protection Clause, which contains 42. no provision authorizing discrimination against felons. A “discrete and insular” minority 42. 43. subject to prejudice, in particular, may be considered particularly vulnerable to oppression by 44. the majority, and thus a suspect class worthy of protection by the judiciary.
45. SECTION 7: Penalties
46. The penalties for not hiring a person with felonies older than 2 to 5 years on their background 47. and who are willing to work and are skilled in that field or position will be a fine of $5000.00 48. dollars and or if the information was erroneous or the conviction was not job-related, 49.employees and applicants information was erroneous or the conviction was not job-related, 50.employees and applicants have a right to file a discrimination claim with their state equal

51. employment opportunity agency. If a felon is bonded by a company and hired on, and is later found to not be in compliance with the bonding agreement he/she shall be terminated.

52. SECTION 8: Definitions
53. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

54. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal law
55. enforcement agency that enforces laws against job discrimination. The EEOC investigates 56.discrimination complaints based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, 57. age, disability, genetic information and retaliation for reporting, participating in and/or 58.opposing a discriminatory practice. The EEOC also mediates and settles thousands of 59.discrimination complaints each year prior to their investigation. The EEOC is also 60.empowered to file discrimination suits against employers on behalf of alleged victims and to 61.adjudicate 58.claims of discrimination brought against federal agencies.
62. Moral turpitude: A legal concept in the United States that refers to “conduct that is 63.considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.” As of 1998, 64. seven states absolutely barred felons from public employment. Other states had more narrow 65. restrictions for instance, only covering infamous crimes or felonies involving moral turpitude.
66. Over inclusive: Relating to legislation that burdens more people than necessary to accomplish 67. the legislation’s goal. Some laws have been criticized for being over inclusive; for instance, a 68. law banning all ex-offenders from working in health care jobs could prevent a person 69.convicted of bribery or shoplifting from sweeping the halls of a hospital. The law in Texas 70. requires that employers consider things like the nature and seriousness of the crime, the 71.amount of time since the person’s committed the crime, and letters of recommendation all be 72. taken into account even when the applicant has a felony.
73. SECTION 9: Effective Date

74. This bill shall take effect approximately and at a minimum of 1 year after passage before the 75. law is implemented.

ban the box</a

From: Magana, Marisela
Date: Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 9:22 AM
Subject: Ban The Box
To: May Chandler

Greetings,

In case you have not heard, there is a meeting addressing Ban the Box which you might find instructive. Our office has pushed your concern to the Congressman’s DC office.

Best,

Marisela Magaña

Office of Congressman Mark Takano

3403 10th Street, Suite 610

Riverside, CA 92501

Phone No: (951) 204-6315
I sincerely solicit your prayer abroad in behalf of this movement to set order and opportunity in place of a broken system. Thank you for your faithfulness and support of “Fresh Oil” and this cause. We are prepared to take this wherever struggles of this type are being practiced.

Through the mid-nineteenth century, the vast majority of blacks in America were slaves, human chattel imported from Africa beginning before the United States existed. Ironically, at the time the Declaration of Independence was written–which, of course, declared all men to be created equal and inspired the American colonies to separate themselves from their oppressive English rulers–African slaves in the territory were bought and sold like property.

More than eighty years later, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s infamous 1857 opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford gave judicial endorsement to what had long been practical reality: black people possessed no rights which the white man was bound to respect. They were not, and could not be, national citizens entitled to the rights and recognition accorded the title.

The Reconstruction period that followed President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War in 1865 seemed to mark a new era. Congressional advocates of emancipation and further reform of the South expressed a sense of legislative duty; to these representatives, the North that had freed the slaves and preserved the Union had a responsibility to ensure blacks’ legal protection through permanent, federally enforced constitutional action. Within five years of the war’s end, and less than fifteen years after Taney’s pronouncement in Dred Scott, constitutional amendments were ratified to abolish slavery, extend citizenship to all native-born blacks and voting rights to black men over the age of twenty-one, and explicitly outlaw racially discriminatory voting laws.

However, this grant of freedom and rights was not without qualification. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. . .. Similarly, the Fourteenth Amendment declared that no state could abridge the voting rights of male citizens over age twenty-one, except [as punishment] for participation in rebellion, or other crime . . . . Later hailed as proud historical achievements that finally blanketed all the nation’s citizens in freedom and democracy, these constitutional amendments actually left–and still leave–an entire category of citizens unprotected and vulnerable.

The consequences of this incomplete grant of rights became apparent soon after the end of Reconstruction. Southern state governments fully regained control of their courts and legislatures when federal troops pulled out of the South less than fifteen years after the war’s end. The Constitution’s new promise of black political and legal equality was an obstacle to the reinstitution of the region’s traditional power structure: white supremacy. No longer able to rely on the institution of slavery to maintain the racial hierarchy, and faced with federal laws limiting preferred alternatives, creative laws were devised to ensure whites’ social, political, and economic dominance.

In this context, the constitutionally codified civil rights exception for the criminally convicted became an instruction on how to legally deprive blacks of their freedom and political rights for centuries to come. Modern prison slavery and felon disenfranchisement are lingering remnants of post-Civil War laws that deliberately manipulated the criminal law for the purpose of relegating blacks to a constitutionally permissible state of second-class citizenship.

Born of Southern efforts to reestablish white supremacy by depriving black Americans of their civil rights under the guise of criminal justice, these laws, and the criminal justice system as a whole, continue to disproportionately impact black people and other minority groups. These consequences illustrate the danger inherent in exempting–as the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments do–whole categories of individuals from the constitutional protections most needed by marginalized minorities. The resulting policies expose the ease with which these exceptions have been, and continue to be, manipulated to undermine the purported national goals of freedom, equality, and democracy.

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Believe In Yourself “Don’t Quit”

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While being skeptical can be a healthy way to avoid getting taken advantage of, being pessimistic – that is, always assuming the worst – can have major negative consequences on your life. Seeing only the negative aspects of any situation can cause you to miss opportunities, neglect problems that need to be solved, and fail to take action that would otherwise improve your relationships and quality of life. In fact, studies show that pessimists are more likely to develop chronic illnesses later on in life than optimists.[1] Optimists look for the light at the end of the tunnel. If you’ve always had a pessimistic worldview, it can be difficult to shift your focus, but it is possible to start seeing the glass as half full, not half empty. In fact you may come to realize that glasses are generally full – it’s just that gravity attracts the more dense liquid material towards the bottom.

This world is always devising ways to sift people, whether by talent or caste status, belief system, color, race, ethnicity or origins the world and complex people in the world will try to make you quit. My wife and I are faced with a insurmountable obstacle, we are no longer the “It” of society, but the “Felon” and as such we are not expected to live nor continue to exist among the regulars in this world. If you are in this plight of life I want to encourage you to continue to believe in Jesus and what He has said, because we’re moving forward by His grace and so can you. Refuse to be redeemed by California or any state prison systems for 40,000 dollars and another extended stay in confinement. A plastic or glass bottle is given better chances than a human life. I solicit anyone that is challenged by life whether by past mistakes or any addictions or broken family and disappointed dreams to press onward with a plan and stand with the Word in your mouth and heart.

Many of us quit, half way through with what we have started and we have enough reasons why we do it. Years ago I owed a Engineering firm in California. Inflation and economics gave me a reason to compromise on how I did business and it cost me 5 years of my life and my company and 300 people their jobs . I had to quit. The reason seems genuine. Had I admitted to my dual addictions and faced them I would not have suffered those loses. I still face the consequences of quitting today due to the stigma’s placed on me by a unforgiving society. I failed as a minister of a large body of believers due to my compromising spirit of conduct. My dual addiction to money and cocaine and pride took me to an all time low. I lost material goods and very close family and friends. Recently I recalled the incident and this blog is a result of such introspection. What does the Bible talk about in terms of giving up? Does the Bible recommend us to quit or does it urge us not to give up.

Galatians 6:9 “…for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

What does it mean? The scripture tells us that if we do not give up on we will surely see the reward of it. For example the farmer sows his seed and takes the little grown stuff and plants it in the properly ploughed field. He does not see the grains immediately, he waits for the rain and the shine at the proper times and then a harvest, during harvest it is not what he sowed but several measures more than what he had sown. If this is true for a farmer I am sure the same principle applies for us too. The only thing is to wait patiently until we see results.

Before getting into the principles of how not to quit, let us examine a few reasons why we quit.
The reasons can be so many; I have tried listing a few of them…

1. Fear of failure.
2. Skepticism I am not the one.
3. I am not trained enough.
4. Someone can do it better than me.
5. I don’t want to be the first, let someone do it and then I will follow.
6. I have a bitter past experience.
7. This is not my cup of tea.
8. I don’t want to be embarrassed.
9. I am too sensitive to handle failures.
10. My support system is poor.
11. I don’t prefer to risk when all is fine.
12. Why get into a mess?

Some of the reasons are overlapping but still this is how we feel and reason out to quit and remain a bit satisfied though we know we can do it more than we have tried.

I want to drive home just two aspects for not giving up but before that I want to quote a few people and their views on never giving up…

Marilyn von Savant – being defeated is often temporary, giving up makes it permanent.

Thomas Edison – many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

King Solomon – for an upright man, after falling seven times, will get up again. (Proverbs 24:16)

The first aspect to consider if we decide not to give up is:
I. Making the most of every opportunity. (Ephesians 5: 15,16)
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

The wise person makes the most of the opportunity but the foolish ones miss out on every opportunity and grumble about their failures. Grab every chance that you get, never mind whether you fail or win – the result is secondary what is primary is the attempt. There is nothing wrong in giving it a try, it might click and we can become experts so I urge you not to miss a chance. Peter toiled all night at the sea but was willing to give it a try when Jesus told him to do so. He made the second time more than what if would have done the first time. He knew he had God on his side. That was blessed assurance. If we have such confidence we too can try and we will surely make it by not letting a chance go by. Therefore make the most of every opportunity and be wise. The second aspect is…

II. Marching Forward. (Philippians 3:13)
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.

If you have to march forward, you have to forget about what happened in the past, if we brood over the past more either success or failure it can ruin us. If we brag about the past success it will makes us complacent and would never make new attempts at the same time if we brood over our failures it will diminish the morale and the potential we possess. Therefore it is important to be moving and not stagnating.

Paul understood this and that is why he is going ahead with the goal and not worried over the past. If Paul had to think of his past as wretched man he will have be ashamed for the rest of his life not doing anything. He overcame the shame and guilt of destroying so many good Christians and began to be a blessing. He never gave up but carried on.

Dear friends, how about you? Better wise up, make the most of every opportunity. Never leave room for compromise, March forward don’t retreat. I think of Henry ford, his first car was not able to even go faster than the horse chariot, he never gave up and today these cars do well. The Wright brothers first flying machine fell and broke after it took off to a few feet but they never gave up and today we see planes that fly at a phenomenal speed at great altitudes. We have Jesus on our side we will surely be conquerors, not just conquerors but more than conquerors. God bless you.

God’s Blessing To His Kids “Laughter”

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Two good old boys bought a couple of horses during the summer. But when winter came, they found it cost too much to board them. So they turned the horses loose in a pasture where there was plenty to eat.
One said to the other: “How will we tell yours from mine when we pick them up?”
“Oh that’s easy,” replied the second. “We’ll cut the mane off my horse and the tail off yours.”
By spring tho’, the mane and tail had grown back to normal length.
“Now what are we going to do?” asked the first.

“Why don’t you just take the black horse?” said the second man, “and I’ll take the white one.”

Now that’s silly. Nobody would overlook anything THAT obvious. But there are Christians that do it all the time. And, one of the most unfortunate topics some Christians tend to overlook is the importance and value of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Jesus taught that He was going to send us a powerful force – His Holy Spirit.
We were promised this Spirit if we repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins(Acts 2:38).
According to Ephesians 1:13-14 the Holy Spirit is the mark of our salvation.
And Rom 8:9 tells us that without that Holy Spirit within us, we wouldn’t belong to Jesus.

If the Holy Spirit is that critical to our lives – why would we overlook it?

I. One of the reasons is that some Christians just take the Spirit for granted. These Christians are a little like the woman who told her friend that she had gotten in her car one day, started it up and saw the “Check engine” light blinking on and off on the dash. She told her friend, that she looked under the hood, but she didn’t know what the problem was – the engine was still there.

In Galatians, Paul tells us that you can’t take your connection with God’s Spirit for granted. Paul gave a warning to the Galatians: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” (Galatians 5:16-17)

In other words, it is critical for us to know if walking with the Spirit and if He is within us, filling us with His strength to help us contend against the power of the sinful nature. This is a serious matter. How do we know if we have the fullness of the Holy Spirit within us?

It would be SO much easier if we had a simple way to gauge the Spirit’s presence. Kind of like a gas gauge in our cars. A gauge that would helps us to know how much of God’s Spirit we had within us.

Now, in the Early Church, people had all kinds of “showy gifts” – like prophecy, speaking in tongues, healings and so on – that would have helped in assuring them that the Spirit was there. That’s why Charismatic churches have such wide appeal to so many today. With all their emphasis on “prayer languages” and “ecstatic” experiences of the Holy Spirit – they (at least) think they have the Holy Spirit. It serves as a “gauge.” It meets a very critical psychological need. And it can be a very deceptive and very appealing experience.

Just as an example of how appealing this type of experience can be – back in 1995, Newsweek (Feb. 20, 1995) reported something called the “Toronto Blessing,” so named because it started out in a charismatic congregation called the Vineyard Christian Church in Toronto, Canada. As Newsweek reported it: “It began when a dozen pilgrims from Oregon got up to introduce themselves and then began to fall to the floor, laughing uncontrollably. An hour later, the huge new church looked like a field hospital. Dozens of men and women of all ages were lying on the floor: some were jerking spasmodically; others closed their eyes in silent ecstasy. A middle aged woman kicked off her pumps and began whooping and trilling in a delicate dance. Scores of others proclaimed deliverance from emotional and physical pains. ’I’ve been living in my spirit,’ said a woman from Long Island, N.Y., still giggling after 20 minutes on the floor.

“In all, more than 100,000 people have experienced the ’Toronto Blessing,’ which believers interpret as an experience of the Holy Spirit much like the ’speaking in tongues’ mentioned in the New Testament…. ’It’s a gusher of the Holy Spirit,’ says pastor John Arnott of the Toronto Vineyard, who now travels around the world spreading the hilarity of the Lord.”
Newsweek finished its report by noting that some worshippers had developed a “beastly” twist on this phenomena: some in their congregations were now “roaring” like animals.

Now why would they do this? Why would they behave like this? NOT BECAUSE OF GOD. No this isn’t of God. They who did this did it BECAUSE (in an emotionally charged atmosphere like the one in Toronto) there was a powerful motivation to be able to “show off” what they thought was the Spirit’s presence.

For various reasons I reject the Charismatic teachings on tongues & prayer languages. BUT in the early church it would have been easy for every Christian to have such outward manifestations. ALL you would have needed (in those days)was for an Apostle to come and lay hands on you and you could have had any of the miraculous gifts listed in Scripture.

You can find Apostles laying hands on believers several times in Book of Acts, resulting in miraculous outpourings of God’s Spirit.

In Romans 1, Paul wrote saying that he wished to come to them so that he might impart spiritual gift (1:11).
In 2Tim 1:6 Paul wrote to Timothy saying: “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

So Paul, or any of the other early Apostles, could have laid hands on any Christian and that believer would have a legitimate sign of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

II. But now, wait a minute! If that’s true (that any Christian of that day could have had miraculous gifts as a result of an Apostle’s hands) then, some of Galatians should have had those kinds of gifts as well. Paul founded the Galatian congregations, and no doubt would have laid hands on them, just as he did on others in the other churches he began. There would have been “obvious” gifts in the churches of Galatia, just like there were in Corinth.

BUT Paul doesn’t tell the Galatians that they can tell whether or not they have the Spirit by their ability to speak in tongues or to prophecy, or anything else like that. Oh no.

Reread Galatians 5:22-26. It says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Paul didn’t want early Christians to measure their spirituality by how well they could “show the Spirit off.” Paul wanted the Galatians to measure their spirituality based on how well they treated each other.

Bear in mind, the letter to the Galatians was not a theological dissertation for a Bible Seminary to study. This was a real letter written to a real church, struggling with some real problems. AND the church in Galatia had a serious problem (a problem even churches today have) Look again at vs. 15 “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

I see gang-banging in churches all over today that I get to preach at and even my own church- for which I am very sadden. I’ve seen churches embroiled in just that type of self destructiveness. But Paul is telling them (AND any church that will listen)- you can tell if you are a Spirit led church. You can tell if you are a group of Christians under the Spirit’s control. You can tell if YOU are filled with God’s Spirit by what kind of fruit you bear.

Jesus said: “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. Matthew 12:33

In other words, you can tell whether or not you are really in touch with the Spirit by your fruit. In order to contrast good fruit to bad, Paul explains what the “sinful nature” is like: The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-23).

What Paul is saying is that there is a contrast behind how we’d naturally like to do things vs. how God’s Spirit would have us do things.
For example: in the Galatian churches there were apparently a lot of people mad at each other. They were biting each other, devouring each other. They were bearing fruit God was going to condemn – acting according to flesh.

I ran into that once. The church I was serving was boiling with anger – some of it towards me and some of it towards other members. Now I’m not going to go into great detail on the specifics, but suffice it to say I was convinced that the congregation was on the edge of splitting wide open. I believe God led me to preach this specific passage (Galatians 5) to them. After spanking them from the pulpit for some very bad behavior, I proceeded to read Galatian 5:19-26. Then I said “I know there are people in this congregation that don’t like me very much. Some people are on ’my side’ and some are not. I want you to know I don’t really care about that right now. I don’t care if you like me or not. BUT I do care about the condition of your hearts and HOW you behave as children of God in this situation.

“I want to ask you to evaluate how you have behaved in this matter, in light of this passage of Scripture. Have you behaved with love towards each other? Have you sought to create an atmosphere of joy in this congregation? Have you worked to create peace? Have you been patient with one another? Have you been kind towards one another? Good? Gentle? (and so I went through each of the 9 fruit of the Spirit).
“Or, have you been behaving in accordance with the works of the flesh? (laying special stress on “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions – Gal. 5:20). I want you to notice that Paul considered it necessary to repeat a warning that he’d apparently given these Christians at an earlier time: ’”I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (Galatians 5:21b).
“Now, I don’t care whose side your on. I don’t care if you like me or if you don’t. BUT, if you continue to behave according the acts of the flesh – you’re going to hell. And I don’t want you to end up there. You need to repent.”
Then I gave the invitation. Three women came forward to repent – and they were some of the ones who liked me. But the evil in that situation had spread so far that it contaminated these 3 very gentle women and caused them to be entrapped in the hatred that was consuming others. And they knew it.

The best gauge – that the Spirit is in control of your life – is discovered when you’re upset, angry, and frustrated… when you have to deal with people that cause your blood to boil. IF, in those situations, you can react with an attitude of love, a desire to create an atmosphere of joy, a longing to promote a peaceful solution, an attitude of patience, etc. THEN, you are controlled by the Spirit. If not – you’re in trouble.

I Thank God For Freeing Me From Depression – Climbing Out of the Valley of Gloom

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Christ was continually receiving from the Father that He might communicate to us. “The word which ye hear,” He said, “is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.” John 14:24. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Matt. 20:28. Not for Himself, but for others, He lived and thought and prayed. From hours spent with God He came forth morning by morning, to bring the light of heaven to men. Daily He received a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the early hours of the new day the Lord awakened Him from His slumbers, and His soul and His lips were anointed with grace, that He might impart to others. His words were given Him fresh from the heavenly courts, words that He might speak in season to the weary and oppressed. “The Lord God hath given Me,” He said, “the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned.” Isa. 50:4.

Matthew 26:36-46

The Message (MSG)
36-38 Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”
39 Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”
40-41 When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”
42 He then left them a second time. Again he prayed, “My Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way.”
43-44 When he came back, he again found them sound asleep. They simply couldn’t keep their eyes open. This time he let them sleep on, and went back a third time to pray, going over the same ground one last time.
45-46 When he came back the next time, he said, “Are you going to sleep on and make a night of it? My time is up, the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the hands of sinners. Get up! Let’s get going! My betrayer is here.”

Being confronted with life challenges in regards to an unforgiving nation and mistakes that try to plague my peace I suffer depression some days beyond measure. It is amazing how after God blesses us with a new day of new mercies and plenty of grace for the blessed day how we still get caught up in ourselves. I am at this moment thankful for His grace getting me to this portion of the closing hours of this day. I am dedicated to speak and write this post in hopes to sprinkle some hope and knowledge into someone else’s life. Be magnified my Lord through my hands tonight I pray In Jesus name.

I hope this doesn’t depress you but here are some interesting facts about depression:
o Nearly 19 million Americans or about 10 percent of the US populations age 18 or over will suffer some form of depression each year.
o Everyone will at some time in their life be affected by depression—either their own or someone else’s.
o PRESCHOOLERS are the fastest market for antidepressants! Over 1 million preschoolers are clinically depressed. The annual rate of increase for depression among children is 23%
o Depression results in more absenteeism than almost any other physical disorder and costs employers more than US$51 billion per year in absenteeism and lost productivity, not including high medical and pharmaceutical bills.
o Antidepressants work for 35 to 45% of the depressed population, while more recent figures suggest as low as 30%.
o Standard antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, have recently been revealed to have serious risks, and are linked to suicide, violence, psychosis, abnormal bleeding and brain tumors.
o Antidepressants medications work only as well (or less) than placebos.
Depression Facts and Stats By Bob Murray, PhD and Alicia Fortinberry, MS http://www.upliftprogram.com/depression_stats.html

ILLUSTRATION: The story is told how the great preacher and reformer Martin Luther once spent three days in a black depression over something that had gone wrong. On the third day his wife brought him mourning clothes to put on.
“Who’s dead?” Luther asked her.
“God,” she replied.

Luther rebuked her, saying, “What do you mean, God is dead? God cannot die.”
“Well,” she replied, “the way you’ve been acting I was sure He had!”
How can we find freedom from depression? What does it take to climb out of the valley of gloom? This morning we are going to discover six practical steps we can take to find freedom from depression, and we are going to find these steps out of the valley of gloom in an unlikely place—the life of Jesus.
But first before we look at the six steps to finding freedom from depression, let’s start by looking at six general causes of depression-
I. Causes of Depression
1. PHYSICAL Many times our depression is the result of physical causes.
a) Sometimes we just get caught up in the maddening pace of life. Things that are supposed to make our lives easier sometimes only add to our ‘to do’ list, and when the computer or other gadgets don’t work like they are supposed to it just adds to our stress.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATION: Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 18-19 is an example of depression brought on by physical exhaustion. Elijah had won the battle with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Then when he was threatened by Jezebel, Elijah ran for his life over 100 miles from Jezreel to Beersheba. There Elijah sat down and just wanted to die; his prayer was simple; “Lord I’ve had enough, just kill me because I’m no better than my ancestors. What did Elijah need? Food and rest, God sent an angel to minister to Elijah and, then God took Elijah on a 40 day journey to Mount Sinai. When Elijah got there he again sat down depressed and full of self-pity, “Lord I’m the only one left who is faithful to you.” A major part of Elijah’s depression was brought on by physical causes. If you are familiar with Elijah’s story then you may recognize some other causes of his depression as we continue.

b) Illness can be another physical cause of depression. How often when we are sick do we find ourselves feeling depressed and wanting to isolate ourselves from others?
• Psalm 88:15, 18 (NIV)
From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair . . . You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.

c) Sometimes we make the mistake of searching for an emotional or spiritual cause for our depression. What we may need to do is first look for a physical cause. Are we just exhausted? Are we eating right? Are we getting some exercise? If we take the necessary steps needed to keep our bodies physically healthy we may also alleviate our depression as well.

2. SENSE OF LOSS Depression can also be cause by a sense of loss.
a) The aging process can bring both physical pains and a sense of loss for the missed opportunities and regrets that can flood your mind. By just about anyone’s standards Solomon had it made; he had everything. Yet as he closes the book of Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 we find venting some of his depression caused by his sense of loss as he reflected upon his life. “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

ILLUSTRATION: As I stopped to think about this message and my life I realized that I have been depressed off and on for the last year and it all started with my sense of loss as a dad with Audrey passing on and taking the great sleep; daddy missed his little girl. But my loss was magnified because as a aspiring pastor I also lost her giftedness and ability as a pianist and worship leader—does anyone remember those first months worshiping with CD’s as the new worship team was being developed?

I also lost a great secretary. This loss brought on a lingering depression that caused me to have days that I was lethargic and unmotivated to do anything; like Elijah I just wanted to quit. Now there were other causes for my depression; some of it was physical. I had times when I was doing too much and was not getting enough rest. Some of my depression was a result of a spiritual battle. Pastors are sometimes like the kid in grade school with the kick me sign on his/her back, and the devil loves to kick at us in lots of different ways.

b) Loss comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and happens in lots of different ways. My loss seems rather small compared to those experienced by others.
o a mother and father who lost a child to cancer, as I did
o the husband who stands at the grave of his wife having been killed by a unknown sickness as I was
o the employee who is let go due to downsizing just months before his retirement
o the husband or wife who just found out their spouse has been having an affair
o the individual looking at a pile of bills with an empty checkbook
o the empty nest when the last child leaves home.

c) The list of losses goes on and on. Whether big or small in comparison to what others may have lost your loss is personal and causes you pain. What loss have you experienced that may be causing you to be depressed? Maybe your loss isn’t even tangible; maybe it’s just the loss of a dream.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATION: Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, is grieved by the loss of Israel’s homeland through their captivity and exile into the nation of Babylon. Jeremiah’s overwhelming depression, sadness and tears are poured out in the book of Lamentations. The book has 5 chapters; the first two and the last two all have 22 verses. The Hebrew alphabet also has 22 letters and each verse of these opening and closing chapters of Lamentations begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Chapter 3 of Lamentations is 66 verses long and Jeremiah repeats his alphabetical pattern 3 times in this middle chapter. So all together Jeremiah goes through the Hebrew alphabet seven times! It is Jeremiah’s way of mourning his loss—from A to Z—over and over again.

3. ENVIRONMENT AND CIRCUMSTANCES Your environment and circumstances can be another cause of depression.
a) Some people have a hard time living with clutter; they would sometimes find themselves being depressed living at our house. My wife says the whole house feels different if the bed gets made! At those times when the clutter is piling up we will sometimes have a 10 minute clean up (it’s really amazing how much you can get done when 7 people go to work for 10 minutes putting things away). When we are all done the house looks and feels better.

b) Job is an example of how depression can overwhelm us because of our environment and circumstances. In a single day his 10 children are killed in a terrible accident and all of his wealth is taken away from him. Then the next day Job gets sick; he develops boils on his skin that he scrapes with broken pottery. His wife tells him to curse God and die, and his three friends and a smart-mouthed youngster have nothing but bad things to say about him. It’s no wonder that Job says, “Why did I not perish at birth and die as I cam from the womb?” (Job 3:11 EMTV)

4. POOR SELF CONCEPT Another common cause of depression is having a poor self concept.
a) Some people suffer from stink’n think’n! They are unhappy about everything, but if you can get them to be honest for just a minute they are probably most unhappy with themselves; they have a poor self concept or self esteem.
b) A healthy self concept is made up of three things:

o Your sense of IDENTITY. We are satisfied with who we are as a person.
o Your sense of WORTH. Without being boastful or proud we know that we are valuable to God and other people.
o Your sense of COMPETENCE. We have the self confidence to know we can succeed and do what is asked of us.

c) Many people struggle with one or more of these aspects of self esteem. They may be somewhat satisfied with their identity as an individual, but lack any sense of worth or confidence. Some people have competence but lack worth or identity because they have associated this with their job and the things they can do, but are not happy with that.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATION: Naomi is a perfect example of how a poor self concept breeds depression. In the opening chapter of Ruth, Naomi gives up on life and on God. Her identity was stripped from her through the loss of her husbands and sons. She feels utterly worthless and feels helpless to do anything to make things better. When Naomi returns home to Bethlehem she asks her relatives and friends to start calling her MARA (bitter) instead of Naomi (pleasant, lovely, delightful). (Ruth 1:20)
d) Maybe you would like to change your name too. Perhaps you would like to be known as Brother (or Sister) Bitter. Life has thrown you a curve ball and you no longer feel that you are worth anything. Such a perspective is a breeding ground for depression.
5. SPIRITUAL FAILURE Sin or spiritual failure can make us depressed.
a) Another name for this kind of depression is guilt. As we saw last week the depression associated with guilt can be good when it is caused by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I failed to mention last week that some people never sense a freedom from sin because they have never let themselves grieve over their sin with a godly sorrow. Such godly sorrow or depression leads to repentance that brings God’s forgivingness and a renewal of joy. Unfortunately, too may of us run from anything that feels bad and we never grieve over our sin.
b) Remember what David said in Psalm 32 that describes the depth of his depression brought on by his sin with Bathsheba?
• Psalm 32:3-4 (MsgB)
[3] When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. [4] The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.
c) If your depression is brought on by lingering guilt then you need to get a copy of last week’s sermon Freedom From Guilt. Don’t let your guilt drive a wedge between you and God; that’s Satan’s purpose for guilt to separate you from God. Run to God and find freedom from your guilt and the depression that comes with it.
6. SPIRITUAL WARFARE Perhaps the most overlooked cause of depression is spiritual warfare.

ILLUSTRATION: Personally I know that the greatest cause of the depression that I have battled over the last year has been a direct result of spiritual warfare. As a fallen minister of the faith I am plagued by not being good enough. Therefore, Satan continues to try to pick me off as contender of the faith. There have been many times that I have wanted to quit in the last year, but I stuck it out. (I’ve learned that as a minister you never resign on a Monday or in the summer because those are times the enemy will beat you down the most.) I’m thankful that God has used many of you to pray for me—even when I didn’t know it. God has heard your prayers and is helping me to overcome the depression Satan has tried to use to cripple me. I’m not going to let the devil win! How many of you would like to help me make this year even better than last year? Let’s take it to the devil this fall and see God do even greater things in and through our church. Let’s not give up.

a) Many doctors and psychologists won’t think of spiritual warfare as a cause for your depression. However I’m here to tell you that spiritual warfare may be the primary cause of your depression. It is not the only cause; Satan will use these other causes to try to beat you down. However, when we know the cause of our depression and recognize how the devil will try to use these things against us, then God can give us wisdom to know how to break free from depression. God want to show us how to climb out of the Valley of Gloom.

b) We discover freedom from depression by learning to follow the footsteps and example of Jesus. Some of you might say, “But Jesus was never depressed!” In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was engaged in perhaps His greatest spiritual battles with Satan. Jesus’ struggle with the devil in Gethsemane was greater than His temptation following the forty days in the wilderness. This was the deciding moment for Jesus. Would he be obedient to the will of the Father and go to the cross or would Jesus try to find a way to escape death? In His struggle Jesus was depressed.
• Mark 14:33 (NIV)
He [Jesus] began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. (The Message)
Jesus began to be horror-stricken and desperately depressed. (JB Phillips)
• Matthew 26:37 (Dar)
He began to be sorrowful and deeply depressed.
c) In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus not only battled depression, but He also shows us how to climb out of the Valley of Gloom. Jesus show us how we can be free from depression.
II. Jesus’ path to freedom from depression. Six steps to climb out of the Valley of Gloom.
1. Jesus did not isolate Himself.
• Matthew 26:36-37 (NIV)

[36] Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane . . . [37] He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
a) Jesus did not try to win His battle with depression all by Himself. Jesus let others in on the sorrow and grief that filled His heart that night. Jesus surrounded Himself with friends.
b) How often do we do the exact opposite? Too often Christians are imprisoned by themselves because they believe the lie that their depression should be kept as a secret—a deep dark shameful secret that we hide from everyone. When we get depressed we isolate ourselves from other people and try to ‘pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.’

• Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
c) Paul’s primary focus was for us to reach out to others and help them in their time of need, but there is a flip side to this verse. Those in need must be willing to share their pain with others! We are not encouraged to go it alone or to be strong and make it in our own strength. We are to join hands with a friend and share our difficulties with each other.
d) Jesus was open and honest about the trial He was facing; He did not let His depression isolate Him from others. Will we follow His example and not isolate ourselves from others? Sharing our depression with someone else is the first step out of the Valley of Gloom.

2. Jesus did not put on a mask and pretend everything was okay.
• Matthew 26:38 (NIV)
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

a) Jesus not only was with His disciples, but He let them in on the struggle He was going through. Jesus avoided the temptation to put on a mask and say, “I’m the Son of God. I can’t let anyone know I’m hurting because they all look up to me. The disciples just can’t know the truth.”
b) Jesus didn’t just put on a happy face. He did not say He was fine when His heart was being broken in two. Jesus simply shared with His disciples His need.
c) Notice too that Jesus didn’t just tell everyone about His need. Jesus used wisdom about who He shared His need with. Jesus asked His disciples to pray, but then He pulled Peter, James and John aside and shared more openly with them. It was Peter James and John who went with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and saw Jesus in all of His glory and heard the voice of the Father say, “This is my Son; listen to Him.” Now Peter, James and John are the ones brought into Jesus’ Valley of Gloom. It was the disciples who knew Jesus best that He shared more of the details of His depression and the hardship He faced there in Gethsemane.
d) Use wisdom as you share your depression and heartache with others. That doesn’t mean you put on a mask and tell folks who don’t know you as well that you are just fine. Ask them to pray for you; tell them you are in need of God’s strength. But find a trusted friend that you can be open with who will really pray with you about your need.

3. Jesus prayed and was honest with God.

• Matthew 26:39 (NIV)
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

a) Jesus told the Father about His heartache. Understand that Jesus did not come to God with just a two sentence prayer. Jesus spent an hour in prayer pouring out His heart to God. Jesus didn’t hid anything from the Father; instead Jesus was honest and let the Father know exactly what caused His heart to be heavy.
b) I am amazed how some Christians want to try to keep a secret from God! They go through the motions of a worship service, singing songs, offering up lukewarm prayers, and sleeping through a sermon, only to leave with the same problems and difficulties that they came to church with. And their personal prayer closet is no different; if they even bother to take time to pray at all. Be honest with God

• Psalm 51:16-17 (MsgB)
[16] Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. [17] I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

• Psalm 18:6 (NIV)
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
c) Jesus showed us how to climb out of the Valley of Gloom by [1] not isolating himself from others; [2] by resisting the temptation to put on a mask, [3] by being honest with the Father in prayer and,

4. Jesus did not get trapped by bitterness or blame.

• Matthew 26:40-41 (NIV)
[40] Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. [41] “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

• Matthew 26:43-44 (NIV)

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. [44] So he left them . . .
a) The failure of His closest friends to stay away and pray with Him did not keep Jesus from climbing out of the Valley of Gloom. Jesus did not become bitter with His disciples; He didn’t hold a grudge or push them away. Jesus let them sleep and He continued to pray! He not only continued to pray about His need for strength, but He also prayed for His disciples. John 17 is Jesus longest recorded prayer; it is filled with His desire for His disciples and it is prayed in the midst of Jesus depression and sorrow. Jesus didn’t blame the disciples for His problems. Instead He prayed that God would help them!

Lets come together on this attack of our family and body of believers and stand in the gap for them in prayer. I made it this far by the prayers of church family and friends. I made it by the grace of God and you can too. I know there is someone reading this and going through some trial that makes you say I give up, but stand my friend and see the salvation of the Lord. You are at the breaking point of it all being over. Just when you give in your change is just as close. Have faith my friend until your faith has faith and materialized into your purpose. Your circumstance isn’t beyond our God’s abilities.

Be Happy About Where You Are Going And What It Will Take To Get There!!!

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Most people don’t enjoy life; they just endure it.
• They think that life must be perfect for them to be happy.
• So they are always looking for a change for the better. If I could just change my situation life would be great. If I could just get rid of all my problems, life would be fine.
• But there’s no such thing as a problem free life.

If you’re going to learn to be happy, joyful, you must learn to be joyful in the situation, in the problems, in the very experiences of life.
• “Happiness” comes from the root word that we get “happening”, from the circumstances.
• Joy is internal. Happiness is external. You have a happy time at Disneyland, you leave and you lose your happiness. Joy can be constant.
• How do you have joy in spite of what is going on in your life?

We are going to learn from Paul. From this passage (that he wrote to believers in Philippi), he seemed positive and happy with his lot, despite being locked up in prison and facing an uncertain future.
• The last 4 years of Paul’s life were miserable. He spent 2 years in prison in Caesarea, and then he was put on a ship to go to Rome to appear before Nero (known for his cruelty against Christians).
• On the way he’s shipwrecked, stranded on an island, bitten by a poisonous snake, survived the winter there, continued on to Rome and spent another 2 years in prison awaiting trial to be executed.
• During this 2 year period in Rome he is chained to a guard for 24 hours a day. He has absolutely no privacy. Every four hours he gets a new guard.

Yet in spite of all of these situations, Paul says in Phil. 1:18b “…I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.”
• What’s Paul’s secret? How does he stay so positive in prison, riding above his troubles, and being joyful in spite of the fact that everything has not turned out the way he planned it.
• His words here reveal FOUR ESSENTIALS for a joyful life:

(1) I NEED A PERSPECTIVE TO LIVE FROM

Every one has problems. When you step in today, you just brought them in here with you.
• Your problems are not so important as how you are looking at those problems.
• The way you look at that problem is much more important than the problem.
• Your perspective makes the difference.

1:12 “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
• I can see the best even in the worst. I can see God at work in the problems even when they don’t go my way. If you really believe God is sovereign, you’ve got to believe this.
• This is almost an identical echo of Joseph’s words to his brothers, who sold him to Egypt.
• Gen 50:19-20 Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

1:13 “As a result it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”
• Paul had always wanted to go to Rome. He meant to have a crusade.
• Instead, God put him in prison where he would write the New Testament. He was chained to the palace guard – the elite troops of the Roman Empire. He was able to influence lives from within the palace.
• And outside, things were moving. 1:14 “Because of my chains most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

Amazing, everything that is considered bad (from the human perspective) and turned out to be good (in God’s perspective)!
• This is the attitude we must adopt. This is the perspective you need to live from, if you are going to have joy in your life.
• Roman 8:28 sums up this principle: “And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him…”
• LESSON: God has a purpose behind every one of my problems. Get this and let joy fills your heart.

A mother was doing embroidering and her little boy comes by her side. He looked up from the floor and asked what she was doing. She informed him that she was making a beautiful flower. “It looked like a mess to me,” he said. Looking from the underside, that what you’d see. Everything looked so jumbled up with loose thread here and there.
The mom says, “Son, go a play for a while, and when I’m finished, I will let you see it from my side.”
Finally the boy saw it – from the right side – and he saw a beautiful flower by a sunset. He could not believe it, because from underneath it looked so messy.
God has a design. We cannot fully see everything in its beauty from this side of heaven. But one day we will, when we see it from His perspective.

(2) I NEED A PRIORITY TO LIVE BY

When things get tough, I need to be clear what is really important and what is not.
I want to distinguish the trivial from the significant.
• It’s like the famous Bible commentator Matthew Henry, who said after he was robbed, “Thank God, though they took my money, they did not take my life!”
• You can live your life bored down by trivial matters (usually the problems), or be driven by the significant things of life (the matters of great priority).
• Either you decide what’s important in your life or you let other people decide what’s important.
• If you don’t choose your priorities, you’ll go around putting out one fire after another, living your life simply from problem to problem, to problem and not choosing what’s important.

Look at 1:15-17. Paul says there are “competitors” outside criticizing him and attacking his ministry.
• They are doing it out of envy and rivalry, out of selfish ambition, wanting to stir up trouble for me.
• If you want something to steal your joy quicker than anything else, just listen to all the criticism people are throwing up against you.

1:18 “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

Paul says he is not going to let anyone steal his joy; not circumstances nor critics.
• He said their motives may be wrong, their style may be wrong, but if the message is getting out, so what?
• 1:18 “But what does it matter?” This is the only question in this whole book. It is a question of priority. We do not want to major on the minor. Some things are just not worth quarrelling about or losing sleep over. There’ll be differences but so let them be.
• Paul had set his priorities clear, and will not let criticisms or rivalry steal his joy.

Learn this, don’t let petty things ruin your day and rob you of joy. It’s not worth it. Don’t have to lose sleep over them.
• Differences will always exist. LESSON: Don’t major on the minor things of life. Let them go.
• Focus on what really counts. Know what is important.

(3) I NEED A POWER TO LIVE ON

I need strength to make it and to keep on going.
• Problems can wear you out, and drain you completely. One crisis after another can really cripple you, if you have no outside help.
• You need a fresh power supply.

1:19-20 “I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body…”

Paul says I have two things that give me strength and kept me going in this harsh environment: (1) The prayers of the people; and (2) the help of the Holy Spirit.

He says he eagerly expect and hope that he will have sufficient courage to face the challenges.
• Circle the words “expect and hope”. That’s where he has placed his expectation and hope – in God!
• You can’t live without hope. But you can pin your hope in people or circumstances. Both will change. We need God’s help.

During the American Revolution, when the Army had experienced several setbacks, a farmer who lived near the battlefield approached General Washington’s camp unheard. Suddenly his ears caught an earnest voice raised in agonizing prayer. On coming nearer he saw it was the great General, down on his knees in the snow, his cheeks wet with tears. He was asking God for assistance and guidance.
The farmer crept away and returned home. He said to his family, “It’s going to be all right. We are going to win!”
“What makes you think so?” his wife asked.
“Well,” said the farmer, “I heard General Washington pray such passionate prayer I have never heard before. And God will surely hear and answer that kind of praying.”
The farmer was right! It happened because man is willing to put his hope in God.

• Paul says later in Phil 4:13 “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
• LESSON: Pray and pin your hope in God!

To sum up so far, we need (1) to see things from God’s perspective, (2) major on the important things in life, and not let the trivial things rob us of joy and focus, and (3) lean on God’s strength through prayers. And finally:

(4) I NEED A PURPOSE TO LIVE FOR

1:21 “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
• This is Paul’s purpose of living. He lives to preach the Gospel. This goal provides him the fulfillment of life. He is a happy man because he is fully satisfied with what he is doing.
• You may be able to take away his freedom, his privacy, his comfort, his fellowship with Christians, or everything else, but you cannot take away the joy of doing God’s will.
• Not even the joy of ‘leaving this world and my number one partner and returning home to be with the Lord.

To die is a gain. It’s a blessing. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far (v.23). That’s the ultimate fulfillment for every Christian.

Phil 1:22-26 “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.”

Even if he stays, it would be for the sake of the believers – for your progress and joy.
• This is Paul’s purpose of living. It is for the sake of others.
• The best use of your life is to invest it in something that will outlast it. How? Invest in His church, the Body of Christ. The things you do for one another, for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, will be remembered.

The director of the Institute of Child Behavior Research, Bernard Rimland, did a study about happiness.
Each person involved in the study was asked to list 10 people he knew best and to label them as happy or not happy. Then they were to go through the list again and label each one as selfish or unselfish, using the following definition of selfishness – a stable tendency to devote one’s time and resources to one’s own interests and welfare – an unwillingness to inconvenience one’s self for others.
In categorizing the results, Rimland found that all of the people labeled happy were also labeled unselfish. He wrote that those “whose activities are devoted to bringing themselves happiness… are far less likely to be happy than those whose efforts are devoted to making others happy.” The research concludes, “The happiest people are those who help others.”

This is the secret of joy – J O Y – Jesus first, Others second and Yourself third.
• The reason why there is so much unhappiness and discouragement in our society is because we’ve reversed that order to me first, others second and God last (or not even recognized).
• It is a preoccupation with self. What’s best for me? What will make me happy? The ME generation.
• No wonder there is little joy in our society today, but many heartaches and pain.

When you learn to have a greater purpose in your life than just yourself, you will experience joy more than you ever imagine.

There is no such thing as problem-free living.
• When you live by these biblical principles, then problems just aren’t as significant. So what if things haven’t worked out as I’ve planned, God has a purpose that is bigger than my problems.
• God wants you to enjoy the rest of your life. But we need to do it His way.

LET’S PRAY.
(1) Are you looking at the problem from God’s viewpoint or just your own? God has a purpose behind every problem. You need to pray, “Lord, help me to see this problem from Your viewpoint.”
(2) You need a priority to live by. Have you settled the issue of what is really important in your life? Ask God for the wisdom to distinguish what is significant and what is not. Focus on what is important.
(3) You need a power to live on. Have you been trying to solve your own problems? God says, relax. You are carrying a burden that was never intended for you to carry. Come to God and give it all to Him, and ask Him to recharge you – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
(4) You need a purpose to live for. Everybody wants to live a long time, but why? Life is not judged by its duration. We want to invest in things significant and eternal. Whose lives have you invested in and whose lives do you want to invest in, in the coming days?

Can you say, “For me to live is Christ!”

America’s New Slavery: Black Men in Prison

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We have two evils to fight, capitalism and racism. We must destroy both racism and capitalism.

Huey Newton


A new American slave trade is booming, warn prison activists, following the release of a report that again outlines outrageous numbers of young Black men in prison and increasing numbers of adults undergoing incarceration. That slave trade is connected to money states spend to keep people locked up, profits made through cheap prison labor and for-profit prisons, excessive charges inmates and families may pay for everything from tube socks to phone calls, and lucrative cross country shipping of inmates to relieve overcrowding and rent cells in faraway states and counties.

Advocates note that the constitution’s 13th amendment, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery in the United States, but provided an exception—in cases where persons have been “duly convicted” in the United States and territory it controls, slavery or involuntary servitude can be reimposed as a punishment, they add. The majority of prisoners are Black and Latino, though they are minorities in terms of their numbers in the population.

According to “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008,” published by the Pew Center on the States, one in nine Black men between the ages of 20-34 are incarcerated compared to one in 30 other men of the same age. Like the overall adult ratio, one in 100 Black women in their mid-to-late 30s is imprisoned.

“Everyone is feeding off of our down-trodden condition to feed their capitalism, greed and lust for money. They are buying prison stock on the market and this is why they want to silence the restorative voice of many who are authority spokes men and women of this hideous monopoly, because they want to repair those who fill and would support the prison system as slaves. The report states that the rising trend stems from more than a parallel increase in crime or surge in the population at large, but it is driven by policies that put more criminals in prison, extending their stay through measures like California’s Three Strikes Law. Of course we have over-criminalization to warn America of also.

Atty. Barbara Ratliff, a L.A.-based reparations activist, said the prison industrial complex’s extension of the slave plantation plays out in a pattern of behavior that Black people must study in order to survive. “I’m not talking about behavior of the individual incarcerate, but the pattern of treatment that digs into institutional racism. Corporate profit from prisons is no different than how slave owners received benefit from their labor, and that impact remained even after slavery. For instance, freed Blacks were arrested and put on chain gangs for their labor which continued to benefit slave owners, so this is no accident,” she said.

Inmates produce items or perform services for almost every major industry. They sew clothes, fight fires and build furniture, but they are paid little or no wages, somewhere between five cents and almost $2.

Phone companies charge high amounts for collect calls and inmate care packages can no longer be sent from families directly. Inmates must purchase products from companies to be sent in, which feeds capitalism, activists charge.

Although the costs of prisons is skyrocketing and consuming state budgets, money continues to be spent to push more Black youth into prison, activists assert. Many education and prison advocates charge there is a plot to populate U.S. prisons based on the dumbing down of America’s youth. Figures show those most likely to be incarcerated and to return generally have the lowest level of education. The report said, “While states don’t necessarily choose between higher education and corrections, a dollar spent in one area is unavailable for another.”

U.S. spending on prisons last year topped $49 billion, compared to $12 billion in 1987. California spent $8.8 billion on prisons last year and 13 states spend more than $1 billion a year on corrections.

Disenfranchisement Of Black America: The New It- Felon Not Negro(G80964)

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About 371,000 German soldiers were held in American prisons until 1946. That they, above all in the southern states, were treated better than black workers, gave the growing civil rights movement a powerful weapon.
http://youtu.be/8vZzFwR4rVE

In contrast, American soldiers and civilians often described the German POWs as “magnificent physical specimens,” “physically supreme, muscular types” or “fine specimens of physical manhood.” The prisoners from Africa especially attracted attention and admiration. For a man from Texas, the Germans were “just the best bunch of boys you ever saw,” while a reporter who visited Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, confessed that he found them “uniformly neat, excessively polite, splendidly disciplined, these young men are – frankly – hard to dislike.”

Americans who employed POWs often shared this feeling. Most Germans worked in agriculture, canning, logging and lumber where the war had created a shortage of reliable unskilled labor. Many of these jobs had been traditionally performed by black Americans who were no longer available in sufficient numbers, despite substantial efforts to restrict their mobility or defer their induction. The German POWs filled this gap and grateful employers often showed their appreciation in various forms. Some even invited them to restaurants or into their own homes. The Inspector General’s Department was not pleased and wrote in a March 1945 report: “The average employer and his foremen, learning that the German prisoner of war, except for ideological concepts, is in general little different from the rank and file of our own soldiers, are apt to become overly friendly and solicitous of the prisoner of war’s welfare.”

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The vast majority of POWs were interned in the South or border States where they often worked next to black Americans in the fields and factories. The availability of POW labor kept the wages for blacks at a low level and also had “rather a good effect on some of our sorry Negro labor by tending to keep them on the job better,” as one employer from Alabama put it.

Nevertheless, the German POWs reported almost uniformly that the African Americans treated them friendly and regarded them as “prisoners like us.”

“We were their fellow-sufferers,” one former POW recalled. “Bad time, prisoner time.” For the moment, the joint “underdog” status was more important than the racial divide. POWs and black Americans shared stories, songs, food and drink, and many Germans came to regard the blacks as the anti-thesis of white, soulless, capitalist America – the “land without a heart.”

While black Americans frequently clashed with Italian prisoners of war who enjoyed greater freedom than their former German allies, there is little evidence of direct tension between Germans and black Americans. However, black American soldiers frequently contrasted the treatment of German POWs with their own treatment and reported in countless letters that “there are German prisoners here and they live better than we do.”

Although not all of these reports were accurate, German POWs often did enjoy better treatment and more rights, such as access to “whites only” facilities. The fact that “Nazi prisoners” were given access to restaurants or railway compartments off-limits to black American soldiers provided the growing civil rights movement in the United States with a powerful weapon.

Racial discrimination also limited the effectiveness of the reeducation program for the German POWs. The program, which started in 1944, tried to turn the prisoners into democrats “by presenting to them in so far as is possible under the circumstances the best aspects of American life and institutions.” Some POWs responded by contrasting American values with the treatment of black Americans. However, the majority of them were more concerned with when they would be allowed to return home.

The Americans created the impression that participation in the reeducation program would lead to quicker repatriation but this was not true. The first to return to Germany were “useless” prisoners and “troublemakers,” i.e. unrepentant Nazis. The last regular shipment of German POWs left the United States on July 22, 1946 of which around 178,000 of the POWs were handed over to Great Britain and France as workers. For the prisoners, this was a “modern slave trade on the grandest scale.” Some of them had to endure over two more years of captivity and forced labor.

To “disenfranchise,” typically defined in any basic dictionary, is to deprive of civil privileges, rights of citizenship or constitutional rights, especially the right to vote. Within a colonial administrative or nation-state context, disenfranchisement is an active process by which the colonizing power, state or state-sanctioned institutions deny colonial subjects or citizens basic rights.

To borrow the title from John Gaventa’s book (1982),disenfranchisement includes dynamics of “Power and Powerlessness.” American ethnic minorities can tell a variety of stories about disenfranchisement and struggles against disenfranchisement for civil rights. This is especially true for Native Americans and Black Americans.

To what degree do the more recent experiences of black American felon’s resemble the historical experiences of actual slavery and Black Americans? In order for disenfranchisement to occur and then be maintained or sustained, the colonizer, enslaver, invader, or the usurping power has to create and disseminate a story or ideological justification. Renowned scholars like Pierre Bourdieu, Antonio Gramsci, and Edward Said have contributed to and inspired a vast literature on ideological hegemonic dynamics (Bourdieu and Johnson 1993, Gramsci 1971, Said 1994). This presentation borrows briefly from the work of Bourdieu but focuses more upon the claims of John Gaventa. Political Sociologist, John Gaventa, reveals how ideological justification is forged through a “mobilization of bias” during which the usurping power asserts, imposes, and legitimizes cultural hegemony (Gaventa 1982). Another way of looking at this may be through the concept of symbolic violence. Symbolic violence, as defined by Bourdieu , refers to the ability of a dominant group to impose it symbols upon
others not through physical violence but through cultural domination, the control of ideas, images,standards, icons, and so on (Bourdieu 1977, Wacquant 1993). This ideological control becomes so pervasive and taken-for-granted that both dominant and disenfranchised group members internalize or accept these symbols as legitimate. Organizations, corporations, colonial administrations,governments, government-based institutions (including school systems), are just a short list of the entities that often engage in symbolic violence. Over time, the control of ideas, images, and symbols may become so taken-for-granted that, as argued by Gaventa, inequities become non-issues. Allow me to repeat, grave inequities such as land dispossession, dehumanization, enslavement, and apartheid eventually become non-issues. Inequities become non-issues!

So, according to Gaventa (as well as Bourdieu), what are the procedural dimensions of power and powerlessness by which a dominant ideology is imposed and, then, grave inequities become nonissues? Well, disenfranchisement and other forms of disempowerment may involve the following three levels or dimensions of power (Gaventa 1982):

1. The ability of a powerful entity (e.g., organization, corporation, government, colonial administration, executive or congressional or parliamentary power) to force someone or some group to act against their will. This level of power often involves physical force and observable conflict.
2. The ability of a powerful entity to set the agenda or “rules of the game” and thereby mobilize bias in its favor in some political arena. At this level of power, a powerful entity constructs barriers that prevent a disempowered group from participating in a political process.
3. The ability of a powerful entity to shape individual and group consciousness through the control of ideals, information, ideologies, myths, and so on. It is at this level of symbolic power (also known as symbolic violence) that a powerful entity has legitimized its ideals, symbols, and ideologies and de-legitimized or destroyed those of disempowered groups.The concepts of “mobilization of bias” and “symbolic violence” illuminate the stages through which inequities become non-issues. Also, during processes of disenfranchisement, the powerful are able to successfully characterize and treat the disempowered as a “thing” or as an “it”, in other words, as a less than human object instead of a complex human subject.

♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫
“Doe,” deer, a female deer…
“Ray,” a drop of golden sun…
“Me,” a name I call myself…
“ME,” A NAME I CALL MYSELF!
♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫

“Me” to “It” Disenfranchisement has many consequences. In addition to issues becoming non-issues, another consequence is that an individual or group is de-evolved from a subject to an object, from a “’Me’ a name I call myself” to an “’It’ a thing I am called by others.” As mentioned above, disenfranchised groups become known not by what they call themselves but by what they are called by the colonizer, conqueror, or some other powerful entity.

Back to the ideological justification or the story created by powerful entities to justify disenfranchisement. For Native Americans, the story has changed over time as British colonizers, then U.S. state and federal governments have justified disenfranchisement. During pre- and early colonial times and prior to disenfranchisement, Native Americans appeared in romanticized Enlightenment stories as noble savages. This was also an image held by Thomas Jefferson in the late 1700s.

Also, prior to European contact, many Native Americans did not describe themselves as “Indians” who belonged to mere “tribes” but as “The People” who belonged to Nations, Bands & Clans, Pueblo City States, Confederacies, and so on.

This story would give way to stories about “Indians” as non-Christian “heathens” to stories about them as “wild animals,” “savage redmen” or “blood thirsty savages” to modern day stories of American Indians as “wards of the State” and “drunken Injuns/Indians”. For Black Americans the story has also changed overtime. Prior to enslavement, those West
Africans who would become victims of the slave trade included Arabic scholars, merchants, craftsmen, peasant farmers and cattle-tenders.

The reality that enslaved Africans were diverse and complex, would change to colonial American stories of Blacks as “uncivilized heathens” to early American stories about them as “childlike” beings that were more like chattel or property than human beings to stories about them as “pack animals,” “niggers,” and rapists of white women to more modern day stories of Blacks as “criminals,” “thugs,” and “welfare queens”.

In other words, the enslaver or colonizer creates dehumanizing stories to justify the inhumane treatment of disenfranchised peoples. Gaventa argues that ultimate power exists when the powerless are made to appear quiescent or apathetic despite their history of resistance and/or when the usurping power can manipulate policies, symbols, and ideologies to the extent that inequities experienced by the disenfranchised appear to be non-issues.

Grave Inequities Become Non-Issues It is important to understand that Native and Black Americans are not dehumanized into “objectified it-things” overnight but through processes of disenfranchisement and domination carried out from the first to the third levels of disempowerment listed above. At the first level of disempowerment Native and Black Americans were forced to act against their will through such events as colonization and/or enslavement, war, land dispossession,
forced migration, apartheid, and ghettoization.

Then, at the second level of disempowerment, colonial powers and then the U.S. government were able to mobilize bias against Native and Black Americans. It is during this second level that the powerful entities excluded Natives and Blacks from the political process and set the rules of the game through various types of discrimination institutionalized in Congressional Legislation, Supreme Court decisions, presidential practices, codes, and military actions.

Then, by the third level of disempowerment the control of ideals and information is so pervasive that Native and Black Americans are known more by the labels given them by dehumanizing entities than by the names they once called themselves. Even worse, some Native and Black Americans internalize dehumanizing labels. This is the level where symbolic violence is most pervasive and insidious. I here see the plight of credit checks, background checks, and all other planned criterions’ as sifting tools to disqualify a race of people. None of which is a new thing in and of itself, but it is unique in itself because of the mask and techniques implemented to set order for the new slaughter of underpowered people.

God Helped You Out Of Your Hole: Who Will You Help?

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While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.

Maya Angelou
I fell in a hole for the first time in 1993, and severed 6.5 years on an 8yrs sentence. If not for the grace of God and His submitted will people who knows where I would’ve wound up. Being in a hole in life requires devoted servants chained to Christ and His Gospel to help. Please desire to be His mouth, His eyes, His hands and feet to a perishing nation and world.
Luke 10:25-27

The Message (MSG)
Defining “Neighbor”

25 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

The story of the Good Samaritan. I just want to point out some historical elements. This parable is only included in the book of Luke. Luke was a Gentile in the Jewish religion. See, Christians were not viewed as separate from the Jews until the 2nd century. And all through the 1st century, a group of people known as the Judaizers was active. They believed that all these “Christians” that were being converted had to follow Jewish law and follow Jewish customs. They were not separated until the 2nd century when their influence on Christians began to fade. Now, that’s not quite the point. Why was he the only one who wrote this parable? Why is it that followers of Jesus such as Matthew and Mark, and John, one of Jesus’ closest companions did not include this parable? It is because none of them felt the same way about the Samaritans as Luke did. Luke was Greek. He had no beef with the Samaritans as did the other three authors of the gospels. He was a Gentile without a bias, and more importantly, he was a Christian without a bias. He was not influenced by the Judaizers to hate Samaritans, and in return, he was not a Jew to be hated by the Samaritans. He was writing this gospel intentionally to a wealthy gentile like himself named Theophilus, and I think that by including this parable in his gospel, he was attempting to show how a Christian is truly supposed to act: Helping everyone equally without a bias. Now, when I use that word “bias”, I’m not particularly focusing on the type that we usually think of which is racial, ethnic, or gender bias; but I’m focusing more the type that we don’t often recognize even within ourselves. I’m talking about the bias of not liking someone because of their attitude, or their political view, or maybe you disagree on the smallest thing and this is expanded in your own mind.

Let me give you an example from my own experience. I just finished my first semester at Houghton College and my first week there, I met a guy in my Pre-calculus class; I’ll call him Jeff. Jeff did not understand Pre-calc at all, he tried harder and studied more of it than anyone I knew, and his term project partner was worse off than he was. On the other hand, I picked it up rather easily and had the smartest person in class as my term project partner. Why is this relevant? Jeff is a Communications major, he has an incredibly lame sense of humor that no one seems to get, he hangs out in the radio station all day, and is seemingly always focused on politics. Jeff has a personality almost exactly like mine. For some reason, he turned to me for assistance in math whenever he needed help. I would show him a few things, but I wouldn’t really help him solve the problem. Little did I know that I was reflecting this type of bias I am speaking about to you this morning. I did not realize the cruelty of my actions until a couple weeks before finals, and when I realized my error, I immediately called Jeff and asked if he wanted to review the next afternoon. What I had done earlier in the semester was absolutely wrong, and I’m going to tell you a story now that I think will explain why and will also help us to better apply Luke’s lesson to our own lives.

One day a man was walking down the street and he fell into a hole. He cried out for help to everyone that passed his way. First to stop was a rich man. He threw some money down the hole, called down to the man, “Buy yourself a ladder!”, and moved on. Well, that didn’t get the man out and he continued to cry for help. Soon after the rich man passed by, a priest came along and stopped. He prayed a prayer for the man in the hole, called down, “See you in church!”, and went along his way. Well, that didn’t get the man out either, and so he continued to cry out. Well, eventually, his friend came along, heard his cry, saw him in the hole, and jumped down with him. Stunned, the man turned to his friend and said, “What did you do that for? Now we’re both stuck down here!” His friend replied, “Because I have been here before, and I know the way out.” Now, that’s a nice story, but it applies directly to our daily lives. Think to yourself how many times you’ve encountered someone having a problem. You know the solution, but all you do is give them money and let them figure it out for themselves.

Or maybe you tell them, “I’ll be praying for you.” That is the easy way out if we know how to solve the problem. The true friend (the Christian) shows them how to solve a problem that their friend is in, that their brother is in; that their neighbor is in. Now, let’s combine that parable with the one in Luke. Does it matter who it is down in the hole? Do we intentionally help some people and not others? Are we afraid of the extra effort it might take to help someone that is handicapped or in need of a little extra assistance? Let’s take this application deeper. When we willingly help a non-Christian, do we then in return expect them to start following our lifestyles, like Judaizers? Do we tell ourselves in our hearts that if we don’t see them at church after a while that we won’t help them anymore? Do we put conditions on our help?

Do we say to ourselves, “I’ve helped this person out of this situation fifteen times now, and if they get into it again, I’m not helping them?” Jesus certainly didn’t set that example in his life, and Luke wasn’t sending that message to Theophilus when he included that parable with the Samaritan. The message sent from Luke to Theophilus, the message conveyed by the parable of Jesus, our dearest friend, to us is this: Help everyone you can to the fullest extent. Do everything you can to solve their problem even if they can never return the favor, especially if they can never return the favor. God bless.

Mapping Fault Lines in America/Pt 1

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Gossip

I love America, and make no apology for doing so. I enjoy her freedoms, especially in being free to worship the true and living God. I would like to continue living here if at all possible. I still believe the United States is the greatest country on the face of the earth in terms of God’s blessing upon it. But I reserve the right to change my mind about the matter, just as our God does. I love America, but I don’t have to like the direction she is heading in. Might our country actually be facing God’s judgment for its offenses against him? If so, who is at fault?

I believe terrorism is a great threat to the USA. But it is not our greatest threat. I know we have powerful enemies around the world, but the most powerful are much closer by. Yes, evil exists and is growing rampantly. But it may not be concentrated in the part of the world we think it is. I believe America’s greatest threat is not from without but from within. We are our enemy and I am convinced that God is generally displeased with us as a nation. He is assigning blame for sin and we must answer.

In Micah 3, the prophet is concerned about something. He wants his nation to know that the God they serve is not only a God of love, mercy, and grace, but also a God of judgment…and though God would rather bless and demonstrate love, and continue to extend His grace and mercy, that there does indeed come a time when, because of sin and rebellion, God’s patience is exhausted.

Eventually God will give a nation [or an individual] what they are demanding. It happened in the pre-diluvian world of Noah’s time, and again at Sodom and Gomorrah. It even happened to God’s people, Israel. Will He make an exception for our nation?

How much influence do private networks of the rich and powerful have on government policies and international relations? One group, the Bilderberg, has often attracted speculation that it forms a shadowy global government. Every year since 1954 [they have brought] together about 120 leading business people and politicians. At this year’s meeting in Germany, the audience included the heads of the World Bank and European Central Bank, Chairmen or Chief Executives from Nokia, BP, Unilever, DaimlerChrysler and Pepsi … editors from five major newspapers, members of parliament, ministers, European commissioners … and the queen of the Netherlands. The chairman … is 73-year-old Viscount Etienne Davignon. In an extremely rare interview, he played down the importance of Bilderberg. “I don’t think (we are) a global ruling class because I don’t think a global ruling class exists.” Will Hutton … who attended a Bilderberg meeting in 1997, says people take part in these networks in order to influence the way the world works, to create what he calls “the international common sense”. And that “common sense” is one which supports the interests of Bilderberg’s main participants. For Bilderberg’s critics the fact that there is almost no publicity about the annual meetings is proof that they are up to no good. Bilderberg meetings often feature future political leaders shortly before they become household names. Bill Clinton went in 1991 while still governor of Arkansas, Tony Blair was there two years later while still an opposition MP. All the recent presidents of the European Commission attended Bilderberg meetings before they were appointed. Informal and private networks like Bilderberg have helped to oil the wheels of global politics and globalisation for the past half a century.

How can it be that you pay more to the IRS than General Electric?
Some of the world’s biggest, most profitable corporations enjoy a far lower tax rate than you do–that is, if they pay taxes at all. The most egregious example is General Electric. Last year the conglomerate generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion. How did this happen? It’s complicated. GE in effect consists of two divisions: General Electric Capital and everything else. The everything else–maker of engines, power plants, TV shows and the like–would have paid a 22% tax rate if it was a standalone company. It’s GE Capital that keeps the overall tax bill so low. Over the last two years, GE Capital has displayed an uncanny ability to lose lots of money in the U.S. (posting a $6.5 billion loss in 2009), and make lots of money overseas (a $4.3 billion gain). Not only do the U.S. losses balance out the overseas gains, but GE can defer taxes on that overseas income indefinitely. It’s the tax benefit of overseas operations that is the biggest reason why multinationals end up with lower tax rates than the rest of us.

Political ties to a secretive religious group
For more than 50 years, the National Prayer Breakfast has been a Washington institution. Every president has attended the breakfast since Eisenhower. Besides the presidents … the one constant presence at the National Prayer Breakfast has been Douglas Coe. Although he’s not an ordained minister, the 79-year-old Coe is the most important religious leader you’ve never seen or heard. Scores of senators in both parties … go to small weekly Senate prayer groups that Coe attends, [including] senators John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Observers who have investigated Coe’s group, called The Fellowship Foundation, [describe] a secretive organization. Coe repeatedly urges a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. It’s a commitment Coe compares to the blind devotion that Adolph Hitler demanded. “Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler. Think of the immense power these three men had.” Coe also quoted Jesus and said: “One of the things [Jesus] said is ‘If any man comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, brother, sister, his own life, he can’t be a disciple.’” Writer Jeff Sharlet … lived among Coe’s followers six years ago, and came out troubled by their secrecy and rhetoric. “We were being taught the leadership lessons of Hitler, Lenin and Mao. Hitler’s genocide wasn’t really an issue for them. It was the strength that he emulated,” said Sharlet, who … has now written about The Fellowship, also known to insiders as The Family, in [a] book called The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Please take a look at this link for more details:http://www.personalgrowthcourses.net/video/secret_societies/coe_douglas_msnbc_hitler
‘Bonesmen’ for president
Pres. Bush and John Kerry were both members of the secret organization. ‘Skull and Bones’ dates to 1832. It was in fact a reaction to a secret society, the Masons. Founder William Huntington Russell thought of his little enclave as sort of anti-Masons and as a home for the wealthy and the powerful … who would do anything for another Bonesman. Each year, 15 young undergraduate seniors are tapped for membership. Members of ‘Skull and Bones’ gather on High Street in the Yale campus at the tomb. New members, the neophytes, are expected to do things like lie in coffins, wrestle in mud, kiss a skull, and confess their sexual histories in front of the group to bond themselves together. Once you‘re in, you‘re in: ‘Skull and Bones’ is for life. There are a lot of [famous] Bonesmen … Henry Luce, who created “TIME” magazine; Harold Stanley, founder of Morgan Stanley; William F. Buckley; Averell Harriman, long-time governor of New York. And then there are the presidents: William Howard Taft, whose father, Alphonso, had helped found the group; George Herbert Walker Bush, whose father, Prescott, was a Bonesman and a senator; the current President Bush. [And there’s] John Kerry, Bonesman class of ‘66. His wife Teresa Kerry‘s first husband, John Heinz … was ‘Skull and Bones.’ Both Bush and Kerry refused to answer ‘Meet the Press’ host Tim Russert when asked about the organization. Alexandra Robbins, author of “Secrets of the Tombs” [said] “The sole purpose of Skull and Bones is to get members into positions of power and then to have those members hire other members to prominent positions, which is something that President Bush has done.”

Svali
Interview With Svali: Escaped Member of “The Family”

Note on Svali: This information can be highly disturbing. And though the Svali story fits what many serious researchers have found, it is difficult to verify. Thankfully, a few media have reported on “the family,” like the MSNBC articles available here and here. And for solid information on mind control programs used by this group which can be verified with government documents, click here. You are encouraged to open to your spiritual guidance as you explore here and take only what serves you.

Svali is the pseudonym used by a woman who claims she was born into a secret ruling bloodline. According to Svali, bloodline children are heavily conditioned to be obedient, self-controlled, and totally loyal to “the family.” In special activities carried out under extreme secrecy, they are subjected from a young age to sessions using drugs, hypnosis, and shock-reward conditioning which turn them into Manchurian Candidates with alter personalities. In their normal lives, they remember nothing of what is done to them in these sessions or of their being part of “the family.”

Some of these programmed children are groomed for the military or politics, while others are prepared to take on key business positions. Throughout their lives, most family members in these bloodlines have no conscious awareness of their dual lifestyle. To themselves, their neighbors, and others, they appear to be normal, upstanding citizens. Yet unknown to their own normal identity, their alter personalities are regularly accessed using code words and ordered to attend secret activities at designated times where they are programmed to forward the group’s hidden agenda.

Svali alleges that higher level political positions in all Western countries are heavily occupied or controlled by bloodline members of “the family,” also known as the Illuminati. She also says it is quite rare that members ever leave the fold. The pressures against this are great, including the need to abandon spouse, children, house, money, and more. Svali was only able to escape after it dawned on her that, because in her role as a trainer she was telling lies to young Illuminati children, she must have been lied to herself from the time she was quite young.

Svali has an abundance of intriguing information on the Illuminati and ritual abuse available here. Her rare audio interview with researcher Greg Szymanski in January 2006 is available at this link. For the written transcript of that interview, click here. The below contains 10-pages worth of excerpts collected largely by Dr. Henry Makow from an 50-page interview with her in 2000. To read the full, fascinating 50-page interview, click here. Svali stopped speaking on this topic in 2006. For information on how you can make a difference, see the “What you can do” box after this article.

Is Human Life Not Redeemable?

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Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.

Tennessee Williams

Men and women sentenced to death by the West Country’s assize courts were usually executed either at the county gaol or on traditional hanging grounds sited on the peripheries of the region’s county towns.By the 1790s, most of these executions were carried out on purpose-built scaffolds with trapdoor systems – a practice considered quicker, cleaner and more economically efficient than the older method of rough strangulation from the back of a cart.

If we are to read this development as an expression of the civilizing influence of modernity, or a humane relaxation of the Hanoverian ‘bloody code’, how are we to understand the continuance of the much older practice of processing certain convicts across miles of open country to relatively obscure rural parishes so that they could be dispatched at the scene of their crime? Despite the enormous costs, the logistical difficulties, the security issues and the archaic nature of the execution apparatus, crime-scene hangings were still taking place in the region as late as 1830. This talk seeks answers in local geography and in the customary principle of exemplary justice.

I feel that the system now in place is just another modern-day way to purge human life out of existence in a cleaner attempt to justify evil. Asking human being who have made mistakes to accept purging from society by way of non employment is a death sentence in itself. These practices are not humane and are creating devastating consequences in mental health issues and across the board deficits to all Americans who pay taxes.

This dialogue of  emails and transcripts are the real feelings of people across the states that feel we are not a forgiven nation to those who fall prey or will fall prey to the justice system in america. I will continue to pray for a change to bring these deceptive practices to a climatic end. Everyone deserves to be redeemed. The whole of existence is predicated on the principles of the bible. Forgiveness doesn’t stop at the word “Felon”.

Accountants warned: Felonies are forever:

 

As Helen Sharkey stepped to the lectern, it became clear what she was about to say would be no ordinary accounting lecture.

“Originally, I began writing this as a letter to  my sons to explain why mommy’s a felon,” she told the class of  undergraduate accounting students at the University of Houston Monday  night.

In 2006, Sharkey, who worked at Houston-based  Dynegy, served 30 days in prison after pleading guilty to one count of  conspiracy to commit securities fraud. An accountant with experience in risk management, she was assigned to the team creating the infamous  Project Alpha, a  $300 million scheme that inflated Dynegy’s cash flow.

Her story is a cautionary tale that aspiring  accountants – and other corporate employees – need to hear. For anyone  who thinks that following orders or being a team player offers any legal  protection, Sharkey’s story is a wakeup call. The line between loyalty  and criminality can be thinner than many employees realize.

“People’s perceptions of responsibility are skewed,” she told me in an interview last week. “Mine certainly were.”

She was the lowest-ranking of seven Dynegy employees involved in the deal and, at the age of 29, she was one of the youngest.

She said she did what she was told. She ignored what she knew was wrongdoing and as a result, she became an accomplice.

U.S. Prison Population Hits All-Time High: 2.3 Million Incarcerated
The Justice Department has released a new report showing the nation’s prison and jail population reached a record 2.3 million people last year.
The report notes that in the 10 largest states, prison populations increased “during 2006 at more than three times (3.2 percent) the average annual rate of growth (0.9 percent) from 2000 through 2005.”
The new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that in the first half of 2007 the growth rate slowed, but prison admissions growth outpaced the number of prison releases. The report provides a breakdown, noting “of the 2.3 million inmates in custody, 2.1 million were men and 208,300 were women. Black men represented the largest percentage (35.4 percent) of inmates held in custody, followed by white males (32.9 percent) and Hispanic males (17.9 percent).”
The United States leads the industrialized world in incarceration. In fact, the U.S. rate of incarceration (762 per 100,000) is five to eight times that of other highly developed countries, according to The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice think tank.
Letter: Why Should Felons Have An Easier Job Search?

I have several friends who are unemployed and actively are trying to find decent employment. These are people who have college degrees and no criminal records. City Council has recently passed legislation in an effort to make finding jobs easier for convicted felons. Shouldn’t our elected officials be worrying about making things easier for those of us who haven’t committed felonies?

I think it should be difficult for people with felony convictions on their records to find good jobs. That should serve as an incentive to not commit felonies. Common sense, right? Not exactly splitting the atom here! But not everybody sees it this crystal clear. One of these people is King Salim Khalfani, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He wants these changes to occur at the state level. According to him, “We’re going to hold these candidates accountable.” How about we hold the criminals accountable! Until the day comes when jobs are plentiful, let’s focus on helping those of us who aren’t felons.

The following statements are in response to The Letter:

I highly object to your prejudice against felons having an easier time finding a job. I have a son who is a felon, he was convicted at age 19. Now at age 28 he struggles to find a good job.He broke the law as being little more than a child. He did not hurt anyone, he did not commit armed robbery. He was a stupid young boy who was not thinking. Now he pays dearly for that label. It is not that he is not qualified for a job it is the box for felon that knocks him out of the running.

Please correct me if I’m wrong. When an individual gets out of jail one of the things he must do to meet the needs of a PO is being gainfully employed. This is a difficult task when you are passed by immediately when felon is checked in that box. Most times the individual is not even given a chance to explain the nature and why he has that label. You lump felons all  in one box. Are these people not allowed to be rehabilitated? Many of these ex-felons are not even given a chance. Maybe if they had a job they might not return to theft or deliberately commit another crime because they are unable to find housing or a job. It is just easier to give in and go back to where food and housing is free compliments of the tax payers dollar. They may commit another crime of theft  to feed themselves. Also they might not be a burden to the state while drawing welfare, food cards (stamps) and adjusted housing. Many have children that the state declares child support. How do you pay child support when you don’t have a job. Would the mother/father be happier to receive the weekly payment instead of nothing? Then you get into that vicious circle of jailing the mother/father for nonpayment of said child support?

Please forgive me but this issue seems to have a trickle down effect. Also just because they were a felon doesn’t mean that they don’t have a college education or a trade. I believe that they should be judged just like anyone else on who is the most qualified. The description of a felon does not mean a killer, child molester or woman beater. There are many, many levels of felon.

If you took the time and went into the City of Richmond you should talk to these many homeless people and ask how they ended up in this never-ending circle of poverty.

I believe that you the writer of this article have tunnel vision and little compassion for many of these people who are deserving of another chance in life. Step out of your middle to upper class box, open your eyes, live the life of these many people for a month. There is an old tried and true phrase. “Walk a mile in another mans shoes before you judge them”. Then I would like to hear what your “opinion” is of these people.

Mr Jewett’s Logic is impeccable but there is one problem. Some (not many,not most) of these folks convicted of felonies really don’t deserve the types of governmental and  social hurdles or stigmas placed in their path.

How many of them are felons for marijuana related crimes?

How many of them are convicted sex offenders for being 18 and having had loving, non-violent, consensual sex with an underage partner? Perhaps they were even underage too when the relationship started?

How many were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught up in an arguably appropriately aggressive anti-crime scheme in a conservative state such as ours?

How many of them are black and never had a chance from the word go?

How many of them are products of RVA’s broken education system? (We won’t educate you properly and we will make sure you never get gainful employment either!)

I could go on but I am sure you get my point – there are 6 classes of felonies in the Commonwealth of Virginia encompassing the spectrum from murder to running away from a police officer.

 If a person every breaks the law, regardless of the crime it will follow them forever.   That is wrong in many ways. There should be some system in place to forgive those that are non violent so that the person can become a productive member of our society. Imagine the young person that gets popped for smoking weed trying to get a job, never ever…. Change is needed.
Felons have paid their dues, no need to continue to punish them for the rest of their lives.  Honestly, unless you’re a sex offender, i don’t see why its an employers business anyway.
I agree, they should be aloud to purchase firearms.
I wrote the letter and would like to respond to some of the emails I’m seeing. Believe it or not I believe in redemption. I don’t think your son is a bad kid. I’m sure its extremely frustrating when it comes to finding decent employment. But think how frustrating it is for non-felons who cant find work. I was young and dumb myself at one time and think that if you’re under a certain age and get a felony conviction, that there SHOULD be some sort of process in place for those who stay clean to get that felony off their records. All I want is for the people with clean records to have an advantage over those of us who have bad records. That was all I meant by my letter. I do not think think people with felony convictions are necessarily bad people. But we have to hold them accountable somehow. It would be different if jobs were plentiful but they are not. Lets say someone robs a bank, goes to jail for a couple years and gets off probation. You people are saying that his next employer shouldn’t have access to that information? And for the person who said the thing about getting busted for pot and “never ever” being able to find a job…..Do you have any idea how much pot it takes to get a FELONY conviction? I’m not talking about misdemeanors here.

Felons ARE held accountable.  It’s called jail time. And why should someone with a clean legal record have a job advantage?  I don’t necessarily see how having made mistake in the past, and paying for it, affects job performance.  I think it’s safe to say that a criminal record doesn’t always reflect on the true character of a human being.  How many people with clean records do you think have committed felonies but just didn’t get caught?

Btw, employers can still run background checks, we just simply want it off the job app.  Not a lot to ask really.
Also, i am not a felon, i just believe in equal rights and treatment.

 These conversations were held between my wife who is attending Argosy University to obtain her BA in Psychology/Substance Abuse Counseling, and her fellow classmates.

Dear Maymie,

A lot of this is up for discussion as it relates to employment and former prisoners. I am all for giving a person an opportunity to rehabilitate and enter society again. However, what types of jobs are they looking for? Are they qualified? This is a very touchy subject recently due to so many killings we have had in the US… Davon Lawrence

Hello Davon,

Thank you for your response. In lite of the “killings” in the U.S. that you speak of, the most recent being the bombings in Boston, the Sandy Hook tragedy, and the Christopher Dorner fiasco, and to go even farther back than today, the 911 tragedy. If you look closely at these people none of them were felons, but look what they were moved to do to innocent people. They committed the ultimate crimes and most of them lost their lives in death. Ordinary felons however lose their lives without dying because they are being denied the right to life and the American dream because of a minor crime that they have paid for already. Just because they were not sentenced to a life sentence in court does not negate the fact that after they have completed their sentence they are doomed to the same fate as that of a man sentenced to life in prison. In regards to your question “what types of jobs are they looking for and are they qualified? Many of them who are released from prison are qualified for warehouse jobs, forklift drivers, and food service, but when they go and apply for these types of jobs and disclose the fact that they do have felonies they are denied even positions like that in which they are qualified for and it’s really funny that in prison felons can get a job making at the most $1.50 an hour and they faithfully get up at the crack of dawn and going to work because it gives them a sense of worth, once on the outside their worth is worth nothing. Davon, my husband graduated from Syracuse University and Berkley and has a BS in Chemical Engineering and an AA in Human Behavior and he has had 162 interviews for various types of jobs either in his field as well as others not in his field over a 14 month period, however once a background check is done and they see that 12 years ago he was convicted of a felony that doesn’t even have anything to do with the type of job applied for and he is still denied employment. It doesn’t matter what kind of job it is, what matters is that there is no forgiveness for people who have made mistakes in life. The Patriot Act was originally created for terrorist however it is used against those who just want to live and work in America…Land of the free, home of the brave, where every man is created equal. Davon do me a favor, take a look at this You Tube video called Uncle Sam Goddamn by Brother Ali and listen clearly to what he has to say, I’m sure you’ll be enlightened… Have a blessed day Davon, and good luck to you in your future and don’t compromise it for anything because once you get a felony or even a misdemeanor your life is over…May Pratt

Maymie,

I do like your choices that you found but it was a bit unclear as to the point that was being made. Maybe a little more explanation would have helped, but I got the jist of it. In relation to felons, I have to agree that it is very difficult for them to find work after they have served their time, but in a sense, that should be some type of deterrent from crime, knowing the one of many difficulties of committing a crime.

Susan

Hello Susan,

Thank you for your response. In regards to the statement that you made “it should be some type of a deterrent from crime” So should drinking and driving but people still do it and lives are lost every day. I guess I can’t expect someone who has never been in this type of a vulnerable state to understand that life in itself is a mistake for some but there is still room for improvement. Adam and Eve committed the worst kind of sin and then God sacrificed his only son for all of us, yet we still continue to do what we know is wrong in His eyes and according to His law, like same sex marriage for instance but there are people who have marched on Washington for this cause, then there are the advocates for the saving of whales and cats and dogs and everything else but human life unless we are speaking on abortion and elder abuse and even the elderly have a harder way to go than whales do. All I am saying is that if God can forgive us why can’t society??? Sure there are some that don’t deserve forgiving, murderer’s, child molesters, etc… But then you do know that they have places for child molesters to live when they get out of prison and certain jobs too, what’s the difference between them and the basic felon after-all a felon is a felon, what makes them so special??? I am no longer angry but I am advocating for ex-felons who are serious about life and want the opportunity to recreate themselves and I just can’t understand why a whale’s life is more important…May Pratt…..

Hi Davon and Class,

Very well spoken all of you, but we do have to look at the real truth here. If one of us had a corporation or organization, we too would be sure and try and make sure who we hire into our company. Everyone deserves a second chance ” If they want it and deserve it “There is an old saying ” One bad apple spoils the whole Bunch” One ex-con can make it difficult for many on the Trust issue and who really deserves the chance.

Hi Gloria,

Unfortunately that is exactly how society sees it, one bad apple spoils the whole bunch, and once a criminal always a criminal, and it’s really sad. What it really is, is stereotypical, not everyone has the same DNA, does anyone think alike, so why should everyone who commits a felony or misdemeanor be judged alike, people do change, some for the worst and some for the better…May Pratt

Calling All Felons

No ex-felon should be punished for life. Once ex-felons are released from prison they should be treated like any other citizen. Corporations who do not hire ex-felons based on their criminal records only, in my opinion should not be supported by the ex-felons or their families. In some recent research in which I surveyed 100 of the largest corporations in Texas, many of the HR Departments responded to the questions of Do your corporation hire ex-felons by saying that each decision is made on a case by case basis. That was a common response from employers. In my book “Why Are So Many Black Folks In Jail”, I constantly remind readers that if corporations refuse to hire qualified ex-felons solely based on the fact that they committed a crime in their past not taking into account that they have paid their debt to society, then “if they don’t hire we don’t buy”. The best way to get people’s attention is to affect their wallets and pocketbooks! Ex-felons have much more power than they think, if they harness and organize their power!

8k7la86586

MY Shoes!!!!!

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Well for one, the 13th amendment to the constitution of the US which abolished slavery – did not abolish slavery for those convicted of a crime.

Angela Davis
Writing about this is so painful. My wife and I walk in these shoes and thank God for His faithfulness toward us while enduring. Living this plight of life is like making bricks without the straw and still expected to produce the quota. How does one provide for themselves or their family if contingencies have been put into place to thwart any forward progress of positive living? My fellow “Felons” take my word for it God can deliver us in His time. Stay in position as Daniel and the three Hebrew Boys did. This is our journey not our destination. Get into the posture of faith and determination. Put God first and keep praying and submitting applications. Ask for leading and network positively. You will be successful!!!


Should convicted felons be given a second chance? Barack Obama thinks so, and he thinks the tax payers should have to foot the bill. He made his view on this issue more than evident during a town hall meeting in Elyria, Ohio on January 22nd. Here is a excerpt from this Ohio town hall meeting, where a 29 year old felon who has never had a job in his life asks Obama if he will help felons get a job:

Obama’s EEOC: We’ll Sue You If You Don’t Hire Criminals

The Obama administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says it should be a federal crime to refuse to hire ex-convicts — and threatens to sue businesses that don’t employ criminals.

In April the EEOC unveiled its “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records,” which declares that “criminal record exclusions have a disparate impact based on race and national origin.”

The impetus for this “guidance” is that black men are nearly seven times more likely than white men to serve time in prison, and therefore refusals to hire convicts disproportionally impact blacks, according to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by James Bovard, a libertarian author and lecturer whose books include “Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen.”

Most businesses perform background checks on potential employees, but the EEOC frowns on these checks and “creates legal tripwires that could spark federal lawsuits,” Bovard observes.

An EEOC commissioner who opposed the new policy, Constance Baker, said in April that the new guidelines will scare businesses from conducting background checks.

Reason: If a check does disclose a criminal offense, the EEOC expects a firm to do an “individual assessment” that will have to prove that the company has a “business necessity” not to hire the ex-convict. If the firm does not do the intricate assessment, it could be found guilty of “race discrimination” if it hires a law-abiding applicant over one with convictions.

Bovard points out that the “biggest bombshell” in the new guidelines is that businesses complying with state or local laws requiring background checks can still be sued by the EEOC.

That came to light when the EEOC took action against G4S Secure Solutions, which provides guards for nuclear power plants and other sensitive sites, for refusing to hire a twice-convicted thief as a security guard — even though Pennsylvania state law forbids hiring people with felony convictions as security officers.

Bovard quotes Todd McCracken of the National Small Business Association: “State and federal courts will allow potentially devastating tort lawsuits against businesses that hire felons who commit crimes at the workplace or in customers’ homes. Yet the EEOC is threatening to launch lawsuits if they do not hire those same felons.”

Bovard concludes: “Americans can treat ex-offenders humanely without giving them legal advantages over similar individuals without criminal records.”

49 months ago
Hello everyone – please don’t feel like you are going through this alone. I am a felon. It’s been 21 yrs since my conviction and I have been home 14 yrs coming in May. I had worked for a Fortune 500 company up until last month – when I was laid off with another 100 people due to the economy. I was making more money then my PO, but now I’m not making anything. I have filled out approximately 60+ applications – which I know I more then qualified but I haven’t rec’d not one call back. We all know why they don’t call back. It’s like OMG – they have been in prison – they are bad bad people. I hate we are judged by the felons who come home and screw up again. Not all of us are like that. There are a handful of us – who are really trying to make the best life we can for ourselves and our family. If we could only create an organization that would actually help us felons – that would be awesome, but we are talking about society – and we aren’t going to get any breaks regardless. If anyone hears of someone willing to take a chance, please drop me a line. I am a single mother, with mortgage, car note etc, and of course don’t qualify for state assistance because my house and vehicle appraises out too much…. Go figure… Thanks for reading and GOOD LUCK to everyone…..

55 months ago

I made a mistake and paid for it but im poor if I go fill out an app. im praying they call me to work.I have expereince in all kinds of trades but Im still on a computer searching for a good job why is that.

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bob in San Antonio, Texas

54 months ago
Hey your not alone.I’ve been trying to get a job for awhile now and they won’t hire an ex-felon,my offense happened over 30 years ago,most state have you EVER! been convicted of a felony.I don’t think it’s right,but,what can you do?

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sam in San Antonio, Texas

54 months ago
i made a mistake as well, but i have made a complete turn around by going back to school and obtaining my bachelor’s degree this december(20080. All i need know is for someone to give me a chance to apply my skills and showcase the knowledge i have obtain. Any takers… respond at sammaldo100@yahoo.com

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Eric in San Antonio, Texas
53 months ago
I’M GOING THROUGH SAME THING AND I AM ON PROBATION I JUST FINISHED SCHOOLING FOR (HVAC) ALOT OF COMPANIES WON’T TAKE ME CAUSE I GUESS THE FACT OF THAT I WILL BE ENTERING HOMES AND IT WASNT EVEN FOR ROBBERY OR ANYTHING BUT I TELL YOU THIS MUCH PUT YOUR TRUST IN GOD AND READ BIBLE AND PRAY ASK GOD TO TRANSFORM YOUR WAYS AND TO COME IN TO YOUR HEART THEN THE REST WILL BE GIVEN UNTO YOU AND ALL IS GOD’S TIMING NOT OURS! EVEREYTHING IN OUR LIFE IS MEANT TO BUILD US NOT TO BREAK US GOD IS AWESOME LET HIM HAPPEN TO YOU!YOU COULD PROBABLY TRY SELF CONTRACTORS MAYBE THEY WILL GIVE YOU A SHOT.DON’T GIVE UP THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!
WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
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jh in San Antonio, Texas

53 months ago
[QUOTE who=I made a mistake 13 years ago got a break working with family doing home health care. I recieved two years experience . looking for another job even with two yrs. exp. has got me nowhere.No one will hire me due to my past. It brings me down. I tell myself the wonder alot people like me turn back to crime. they feel there is no other choice. wrong dont give up.I havnt I have children and living behind bars will really get me nowhere.Im still without work . freedom and my family is worth waiting and stuggling for a job .is worth it all. our day will happen and it will be worth it all.

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redsfn7576 in Columbus, Ohio

53 months ago
Well none of you are alone. I am a convicted felon. Its been tweleve years and it sill haunts me. I have over 8 years in the trucking industry no acc. no tickets. I’ve been out of work for a month and a half. I cant find a job anywhere because of my past mistakes. Its not fair and seems like no one gives a squat.

The above statements are from Indeed job search engine. The frustration is overwhelming for those who wear these shoes of disenfranchisement from earning a living.

The stigma associated with being an ex-felon in America is unlike anything a person can comprehend unless they walk in the shoes of ex-felons. People get ill everyday but they somehow recover and are able to seek opportunity and they are made whole. Ex-felons on the other hand suffer for a lifetime for decisions that they made in the spur of the moment. Some people understand the dynamics associated with persons who struggle daily to regain their respect and dignity in their communities because they were previously convicted of a felony. Then there are those who believe that once a person has been convicted of a felony they should be treated as felons and denied opportunities for the rest of their lives. We have programs in every state that offers assistance to ex-felons being released from prison, yet, every time ex-felons complete applications for employment, they are constantly reminded that some things never change.

In America ex-felons carry the stigma of being convicted for life. A conviction is like the metaphorical scarlet letter. When people see you they see your conviction because many folks in America will never let you forget that you committed a crime.

Today we are beginning to witness a paradigm shift in how ex-felons are treated. Unfortunately it is not because of the reasons that we would think. Ex-felons are treated different now because of the economy. Many states, counties and cities are receiving fewer funds for housing prisoners and have released prisoners who in times past they deemed posed threats to society. Decisions such as these makes rational people think about whether these people actually ever posed a threat to society in the first place.

According to the research, there are approximately 2.8 million ex-felons currently locked up in jails and prisons in the U.S. African American make up approximately 47% of the inmate population in the U.S. yet they account for only 12.7 % of the population in the U. S. African Americans are disproportionately represented in every state in the U.S. This means that their percentage in the prison population is greater than their percentage in the state’s general population. Sixty (60%) of the one million people who are released from prison return to prison within 3 years many of them much quicker!

Today Ex-felons are visible in every facet of life. America and Americans are becoming more tolerant of ex-felons in sports, media, education, military and areas in which felons benefit organizations but corporate America and political entities continue to maintain a strict stance against ex-felons. However, there are states such as Louisiana who allow ex-felons to run for public office after being released from probation or parole for fifteen years.

Ex-felons have a much lower rate of recidivating when they are released to stable living environment and caring families. Without these two safety nets most ex-felons are DOA-Doomed on Arrival. Ex-felons who are released from prison and acquire gainful employment, have the support of their love ones, and are connected to a higher power are much more likely to stay out of prison longer and in many cases never return.

No ex-felon should be punished for life. Once ex-felons are released from prison they should be treated like any other citizen. Corporations who do not hire ex-felons based on their criminal records only, in my opinion should not be supported by the ex-felons or their families. In some recent research in which I surveyed 100 of the largest corporations in Texas, many of the HR Departments responded to the questions of Do your corporation hire ex-felons by saying that each decision is made on a case by case basis. That was a common response from employers. In my book “Why Are So Many Black Folks In Jail”, I constantly remind readers that if corporations refuse to hire qualified ex-felons solely based on the fact that they committed a crime in their past not taking into account that they have paid their debt to society, then “if they don’t hire we don’t buy”. The best way to get people’s attention is to affect their wallets and pocketbooks! Ex-felons have much more power than they think, if they harness and organize their power!

One of the strongest predictors of ex-felon success on the streets lies with their religious beliefs while in the penitentiary. We know that many people believe that felons have nothing else to turn to when they are in jail so that try God. Many folks refer to this as jailhouse religion. In a survey of characteristics of successful ex-felons, 78% reported that they attended church and religious services on a weekly basis while in prison. Sixty-seven percent (67%) were serving a first or second sentence in a penal institution, (62%) were serving time for drug and property offenses. Many of these felons had previous charges but had come to the conclusion that they did not want to spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Most ex-felons say that their greatest desire upon release is to be given a fair chance to succeed in America. When businesses close their doors to ex-felons and private and public entities refuse to allow ex-felons a chance to work, what other recourse do they have other than selling dope, robbing folks, carjacking, burglary etc.? If we are going to hold ex-felons accountable for pulling themselves up by their own boot straps, we have to provide them with some boots and some straps. Ex-felons love their families, lives, children etc. and many of them want to live the American Dream but America in many cases have written them off as nobodies and relegated them to the back waters of society. The American Dream for many ex-felons has become the American Nightmare!

There are approximately 25, million ex-felons in the U.S. and every year approximately 1,000,000 new people are convicted of a felony. Ex-felons have power that they do not realize that they have. Ex-felons can decide the outcome of many local, state and national elections. Just like gays, women and African Americans united and wielded their power at the voting booth; ex-felons in the not too distant future will resolve to use their power also. When any group unite and go to the voting booth, politicians immediately recognize them and the power that they wield.

Until America is ready to bring all people to the table and find out what is needed in all communities to reduce crime, America will continue to build prisons and jails and incarcerate people for crimes which could really be avoided. The three greatest predictors of crime are one’s environment, economics and genetics. Yes, I said genetics. Unlike Lombroso, I do not believe that people have criminal genes but I do believe that some people from particular families and cultures are predisposed to a greater extent to commit certain types of crimes. In my theory “Enviroecogenetics” I explain the rationale for these statements. Until we address the education issues surrounding poor people and the extreme poverty faced by poor people, we are not even tapping the surface in regards to reducing crime and recidivism. A lack of education produces poverty and poverty breeds crime and criminals go to jail and so the cycle goes. Many of my colleagues might disagree with this statement, but I believe that the one greatest predictor of crime is education. As Horace Mann stated many year ago, Education is the great equalizer.

Finally, there are many ex-felons whose only wish is to be given another chance. A chance to get a good education, a chance to work, and a chance to have their voting rights restored a chance to learn a skill, a chance to get another opportunity. My message to ex-felons is to never give up. Just because you lose a battle in your life it doesn’t mean that you have lost the war.

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Living to Die & Dying to Live

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

Barbara Smith

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

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

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

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

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

1. Are you Uncommitted?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“All these things I have kept …”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those that are Uncommitted focus on Keeping rather than giving.

“He had great possessions”

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

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

How about you and I?

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Are you Committed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love is also giving without expecting anything in return.

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

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

We are to be Committed to God first of all.

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

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

Secondly we should be Committed to Church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Greatest Problem facing Black America Today

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“The New Jim Crow,”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let us examine some of them individually.

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Continuing (emphasis is again mine):

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

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

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

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

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

More Black Men May Be Taking Bar Exams Than Are Behind Bars

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All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.

Aristotle

The ‘myth’ that more African-American males are in prison than in college isn’t helping anyone who’s working toward a BA.

While running for president in summer 2007, Barack Obama told a crowd at an NAACP forum: “We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America.”

Last December, Charles Barkley, a broadcaster and former NBA player, told Bob Costas: “You know, we’ve got more black men in prison than we do in college, and crime in our neighborhoods is running rampant.”

Barkley and Obama are merely two among many prominent Americans, black and white, who, while arguing for creation of stronger opportunites for African-American males, have promulgated the idea that more black men are behind prison bars than on college campuses.

There’s just one problem in that plea for action: The assertion isn’t true.

New research shows there are now 600,000 more African-American men in colleges than in prison, contradicting a “myth” that some advocates believe is undermining progress in the black community.

These advocates argue that the false statistic feeds the “narrative around affirmative action” that says black men need help to achieve equality.

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case on affirmative action that could restrict use of race to determine enrollment at public universities, its time to conquer the myth once and for all, Ivory Toldson, a professor at Howard University School of Education, tells TakePart.

“Really what [young black men] need to get into colleges is college-level classes, guidance services, college fairs, college tours. But stats like that give the impression what they need to go to college is a violence prevention program or a gang abatement program.”

“It’s a line that was marketed very well,” says Toldson, who’s researched the statistic. “It’s what a lot of people think is true intuitively and has gotten repeated over and over. That’s one of the reasons why it persists.”

That statistic originated with a study by the Justice Policy Institute, a criminal-justice reform think tank, which calculated that 791,600 black men were in jail or prison in 2000, and 603,032 were enrolled in colleges or universities. Critics say the JPI study didn’t use accurate data.

“In the past, the numbers still appeared close enough to say, well, you know, maybe there’s something to it, even though you can’t really quantify it right now,” says Toldson. “Right now we’re at a point where they’re not even close.

“We’re at a good point for us to just move past that myth and start thinking about some real problems,” continues Toldson. “Really what [young black men] need to get into colleges is college-level classes, guidance services, college fairs, college tours. But stats like that give the impression what they really need to go to college is a violence prevention program or a gang abatement program.”

One government policy instituted in the 1960s that was designed to place more black men into college is affirmative action, a program that factors race into the university admissions process. But affirmative action might soon be alive only in history.

A Supreme Court ruling is pending in Fisher v. The University of Texas, a case that is being brought by Abigail Fisher, a white student who was denied acceptance by the University of Texas at Austin. Fisher’s lawyers argue that her grades and test scores were higher than those of some students who were admitted, and only the university’s policy of considering race led to her denial, which, according to the lawyers, was unconstitutional.

The college-versus-prison statistic has helped perpetuate the argument for supporting affirmative action, says Janks Morton, a Washington, D.C.-based filmmaker whose first documentary, 2007’s What Black Men Think, confronted persistent myths and fallacies about black men in American society.

“You come up with this thing that black men need a hand up, they need help, they’re not able to achieve on their own, and then that ties into the narrative around affirmative action,” Morton tells TakePart. “If you really look at the data right now, the majority of [black men] are making these strides without this kind of affirmative action narrative.

“It tends to highjack the conversation, and I think it distracts from the accomplishments of young black men.”

Affirmative action, he adds, “might need to be rethought and rescaled back.”

Morton says there’s resistance in the black community to abolishing the prison-versus-college myth because some advocates have a financial stake in it. “It’s a money extracting proposition for organizations that are vested in that kind of advocacy around black male identity.”

Morton says the faulty statistic imperils the progress of the next generation of African-American men.

“We have to think about what the internalization of this negative messaging has done to a generation of young black people,” he says. “There are so many positive achievements of this group right now that we can start to raise the bar of expectation. We can use the model of young black boys who are achieving and elevate that.”

Let God change things in His way & Time

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The real democratic American idea is, not that every man shall be on a level with every other man, but that every man shall have liberty to be what God made him, without hindrance.
Author: Henry Ward Beecher

storehouse

I am truly grateful for the things God has done in my life in- spite of the difficulties I have created along the way. I am grateful for the victories that we have won together in my life. I could go on & on about those things that seemed at the time as defeat that my God has brought me through. Family It would be too much for me to comprehend should God allow me to peak into my future. It would mean for me I feel I have no faith in His providential abilities to complete that good work in which He has begun. Family my life seems to be plagued with famine in the areas of natural resources & stability to press through this tumult we are now faced with. O’ but God, the future is great for all who go through the weather; whether they like it or not .

Family as I studied the wonderful gift of God this morning I found within it a nugget of hope. Did you know that the Egyptians were the first ones to began a prison system and that they were given the commission to prepare for the famine to come by the hand of God. I am amazed at how God allows even the evil to have the liberty to be used of Him.

“There is corn in Egypt.”- Genesis 42:2

Famine pinched all the nations, and it seemed inevitable that Jacob and his family should suffer great want; but the God of providence, who never forgets the objects of His affection & electing love, had stored a granary for His people by giving the Egyptians warning of the scarcity, and leading them to treasure up the grain of the years of plenty. Family who would expect deliverance from their enemies or a ungodly people? Little did Jacob know that the corn in which he sought was in Egypt, Jacob watched the hand of God began to wither the land with drought and fat calves went to slender calves and watering holes of plenty went to none but barren land. O’ my God, the natural of our whether forecast would make any of us stagger and become despaired. I see here a real man Named Israel, that sought I would imagine in great prayer for an answer for where was the corn in store for him and his people.

My beloved family, though all things are apparently against us, I beseech you to rest assured that our God has made a reservation on our behalf; in the roll of our grief’s there is a saving clause. Somehow He will deliver us, & somewhere He will provide for us. The quarter from which our rescue shall arise may be a very unexpected one, but help will assuredly come in our extremity, and we will began to magnify the name of the “ Lord.” Family of faith if we fail to do for each other as faith base children, Ravens shall; and if earth yields no wheat, heaven shall drop with manna. Therefore be of good courage, and rest quietly in The Lord. God can make the sun rise in the west if He pleases, and make the source of distress the channel of delight.

The corn in Egypt was all in the hands of Israelite made ruler of a pagan nation, exalted from an inmate to a prince. Please don’t miss that when you read this. Joseph had nothing to do with his imprisonment, but when he was given the opportunity he showed his brother the grace of God in what he taught them through how he endured his tumult of life by holding the scammer of the brothers until the others brought back Benjamin and then he told them after they ran out of corn, because Simeon would have been left there had they not ran out of food. He told them not to come back without their brother. My God this thing is powerful when you are going through and can see the finger prints of God within these pages. Family I am performing a “CSI” on my life today by sprinkling the dust of faith to reveal God’s hand in my life.

Joseph opened and closed the granaries at will. So I see here that the riches of providence are all in the absolute powerful hands of the Lord Jesus, who will dispense them liberally to His people. Joseph was abundantly ready to succor his own family; and Jesus is unceasing in His faithful care for His brethren. Our business is to go after the help which is provided for us: we must not sit still in despondency, but stir ourselves to movement that smells like faith. Prayer will bear us soon into the presence or our royal Brother: once we are before the throne we have only to ask and have; God’s store house is not exhausted; there is corn still: His heart is not hard, He will give the corn to us. Lord, forgive our unbelief, and this morning constrain us to draw largely from Thy fullness & receive grace for grace. Be blessed family today in Jesus name. May & I love you so..so.. much!!!!!

Thank You,

Aaron Pratt

If God would have wanted us to live in a permissive society He would have given us Ten Suggestions and not Ten Commandments. – Zig Ziglar

The Caging of America

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convicted felonPrison slavery, Jurors: Know your rights, Sleeping with undercover cops

There is no wisdom save in truth. Truth is everlasting, but our ideas about truth are changeable. Only a little of the first fruits of wisdom, only a few fragments of the boundless heights, breadths and depths of truth, have I been able to gather.

prison is a trap for catching time. Good reporting appears often about the inner life of the American prison, but the catch is that American prison life is mostly undramatic—the reported stories fail to grab us, because, for the most part, nothing happens. One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich is all you need to know about Ivan Denisovich, because the idea that anyone could live for a minute in such circumstances seems impossible; one day in the life of an American prison means much less, because the force of it is that one day typically stretches out for decades. It isn’t the horror of the time at hand but the unimaginable sameness of the time ahead that makes prisons unendurable for their inmates. The inmates on death row in Texas are called men in “timeless time,” because they alone aren’t serving time: they aren’t waiting out five years or a decade or a lifetime. The basic reality of American prisons is not that of the lock and key but that of the lock and clock.

That’s why no one who has been inside a prison, if only for a day, can ever forget the feeling. Time stops. A note of attenuated panic, of watchful paranoia—anxiety and boredom and fear mixed into a kind of enveloping fog, covering the guards as much as the guarded. “Sometimes I think this whole world is one big prison yard, / Some of us are prisoners, some of us are guards,” Dylan sings, and while it isn’t strictly true—just ask the prisoners—it contains a truth: the guards are doing time, too. As a smart man once wrote after being locked up, the thing about jail is that there are bars on the windows and they won’t let you out. This simple truth governs all the others. What prisoners try to convey to the free is how the presence of time as something being done to you, instead of something you do things with, alters the mind at every moment. For American prisoners, huge numbers of whom are serving sentences much longer than those given for similar crimes anywhere else in the civilized world—Texas alone has sentenced more than four hundred teen-agers to life imprisonment—time becomes in every sense this thing you serve.

For most privileged, professional people, the experience of confinement is a mere brush, encountered after a kid’s arrest, say. For a great many poor people in America, particularly poor black men, prison is a destination that braids through an ordinary life, much as high school and college do for rich white ones. More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives. Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today—perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system—in prison, on probation, or on parole—than were in slavery then. Over all, there are now more people under “correctional supervision” in America—more than six million—than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height. That city of the confined and the controlled, Lockuptown, is now the second largest in the United States.

The accelerating rate of incarceration over the past few decades is just as startling as the number of people jailed: in 1980, there were about two hundred and twenty people incarcerated for every hundred thousand Americans; by 2010, the number had more than tripled, to seven hundred and thirty-one. No other country even approaches that. In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education. Ours is, bottom to top, a “carceral state,” in the flat verdict of Conrad Black, the former conservative press lord and newly minted reformer, who right now finds himself imprisoned in Florida, thereby adding a new twist to an old joke: A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged; a liberal is a conservative who’s been indicted; and a passionate prison reformer is a conservative who’s in one.

The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life. Every day, at least fifty thousand men—a full house at Yankee Stadium—wake in solitary confinement, often in “supermax” prisons or prison wings, in which men are locked in small cells, where they see no one, cannot freely read and write, and are allowed out just once a day for an hour’s solo “exercise.” (Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience.) Prison rape is so endemic—more than seventy thousand prisoners are raped each year—that it is routinely held out as a threat, part of the punishment to be expected. The subject is standard fodder for comedy, and an uncoöperative suspect being threatened with rape in prison is now represented, every night on television, as an ordinary and rather lovable bit of policing. The normalization of prison rape—like eighteenth-century japery about watching men struggle as they die on the gallows—will surely strike our descendants as chillingly sadistic, incomprehensible on the part of people who thought themselves civilized. Though we avoid looking directly at prisons, they seep obliquely into our fashions and manners. Wealthy white teen-agers in baggy jeans and laceless shoes and multiple tattoos show, unconsciously, the reality of incarceration that acts as a hidden foundation for the country.

Jail joke