Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thoughts of Gain and Loss in Life

This morning's adult Bible Study class left me with many sobering thoughts. We always have lively discussions and many varied experiences that we share from our daily life. It's a large class...perhaps forty people...and this allows for some solid give and take. As one of the newer members of the group and one whose Bible knowledge is dwarfed by everyone, I often feel inadequate

We are studying The Secrets of the Vine by Wilkinson and it is an outstanding study which is serving to make one think about their relationship with the Lord. Already I have found myself convicted by the Holy Spirit on many of the things that the workbook and the video have cited. This coupled with some reading that I've done lately (and I've not been a big reader in years!) have helped to shape a personal world view that is, well, sobering in is scope.

I realize just how little I have been doing to be the kind of Christian that Jesus asked us all to be. I realize that I have guilt feelings that have been embedded deep into my heart that I have yet to address. I realize that the precarious thread upon which I exist is more tenuous than I had imagined.

Often, during the study, I find my thoughts drifting off into some experience from my past, or something that I remember seeing which further hones the impact of what being a Christian is all about. Needless to say, it really is not easy to be a Christian. The standards by which He asks us to live are nigh impossible! I am not saying that it was easy for Him when He walked this earth in His human manifestation but He is the Christ and He knew His purpose far clearer than I have to-date.

I think of those saints in centuries gone by who gave up or who lost everything to serve Him and His Great Commission. What would it be like to lose everything; to start over again; to face the next morning with no idea of how I would exist?

As Minister Bob Hill preached today in Pastor Morris's stead while he and his wife are away, we have hope. This hope is not the common perception of a goal that one vaguely wishes could come true. No, we have the hope that says that we KNOW that God will keep His word to us and that we should never ever think that we are alone in this world.

I am reminded of the news story on CNN during the Katrina hurricane disaster. There was a story about a man with four or five children who had just lost his wife to the torrent. She was holding on to one of her children and the waters were rising. She lifted the baby into her husband's arms and as she was being taken away by the raging waters, her words were "take care of the children" and she was gone...

I find myself welling up when I recount this story, just as the CNN news reporter was when she was bringing the story to us. The man was so matter of fact about it but it was probably because of the overwhelming situation in which he now found himself that there was no time for excess emotion. He had to be about his children and what the rest of their life would look like.

As a Christian, it is this hope that gives me peace of mind. I have no doubt whatsoever that He will see to my needs. I find myself secretly wishing for a tangible recordable miracle to show people just how awesome He truly is but the miracle is already here: me.

Many people remember how I was before my conversion and they see the changes that have been wrought. For many, that is indeed a miracle. But, for nearly all of them, that hasn't been "miracle" enough. And, that is because I still have not reconciled myself with my sins and confessed them to Him for resolution. I have also realized that I am burdened by something that someone has done to me for which I have not yet released forgiveness to them.

In other words, the miracle that I want people to see through me has been blocked because I, in effect, have not totally surrendered to Him yet, and many of us suffer from this. As our study has shown, the fruit that everyone can see...the fruit which I so desperately want to be so apparent to glorify Him, has been withheld by my own reticence, or even refusal to deal with the sins of my life.

The reason I think this blog entry is coming from me is the Holy Spirit is telling me that my temporal audition for Heaven as it were... could be over at any moment, and that I could fail that audition! Just as Jesus healed people instantly, my end could come in an instant as could any of ours.

God is a loving God...He has shown this and as such I do not fear Him. As our Bible Study showed today, I do need to fear his punishment for disobedience! Life on His terms can be so abundant and the hope that is there for me and anyone else can be assured by being within the Body.

These will be thoughts that I will carry forward into the upcoming week. I hope that they will help you to frame your thought process in such a way that you can be convicted of something that really needs to be purged.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Proactive Avoidance

It is interesting that the average car on the road today has more electronics than the lunar module that first landed on the moon! Many of these systems are dedicated to the passenger's safety and to provide a quiet stress free ride. Car coming into your lane? The sensors detect this and move your car out of the way. In an accident anyway? Sensors activate airbags and inflate to keep us from devastating injury.

If only humans could have and utilize such things for their lives. We could have our sensory system just avoid catastrophes without needing to let us know. Just like the picture above which is part of something called the "blind spot information system," your car looks into its rearview mirror and sees danger that we cannot see and the car itself becomes an active and proactive accident avoidance mechanism.

So, we look at the state of affairs of people these days and wish for such devices to be in place to help us to not become statistics to the plights of human nature. Well, we do actually, and they are called "the old heads!" You know them...the ones who have gone on before and have experienced many of the pitfalls that await us and with gnarled hands and weathered faces tell us how to avoid them. Of course, we don't, but wow, if only we did!

So, since I am somewhat of an Old Head myself, I figure I have some wisdom to pass on.

Donfucious say:
  • Avoid the expectation of love from someone who does not have all of it to give to you.
  • Avoid any relationship that you are not able or prepared to be totally committed to. It just isn't fair.
  • Avoid the expectation that the criminal justice system is anything of the kind. Instead, avoid post-criminal "rehabilitation" by raising a child the right way so that incarceration, etc. are not necessary.
  • Avoid doing anything for which you have to apologize later.
  • Avoid empty sex.
  • Avoid those things which truly ARE too good to be true.
  • Avoid sharing your weaknesses with anyone who is not stronger than you.
  • Avoid the temptation to argue with a selfish person. They'll die before they admit they are wrong.
  • Avoid the temptations of someone who is really really good at tempting people.
  • Avoid the temporary pleasures which are by definition never going to last.
  • Avoid the temptation to try and change someone into your liking without seeing if you need to change first.
  • Avoid being the center of attention that you really don't need.
  • Avoid ANYTHING that is currently labeled as illegal because there is probably a pretty good reason why it is.
  • Avoid spending money you don't have, or anyone else's for that matter. You WILL need it later...count on it.
  • Avoid living beyond your sight. If your actions are not predicting or shaping the future, take a nap.
  • Avoid people who treat you as an accessory.
  • Avoid giving people any reason to EVER say, "I told you so."
  • Avoid any possibility of not being able to keep your word.
  • Avoid anyone who is "sexier" than you. They may sooner or later believe their hype and seek more accolades from everyone else but you and becoming obsolete is a slow and painful death in itself.
  • Avoid any situation that does not give honor and praise to God.
Feel free to be a "__fucious" yourself and add something to this list...just make it serious, please. Someone will read this and may find what you have to say very helpful, or even life-changing.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cause and Effect...the Black Conundrum

Some idle musings...

The permutations associated with Black people's lives are innumerable, as are most ethnic groups. However, as most anthropologists do, a look back from the current state of affairs can be quite revealing. Many of my friends and associates look at the situation in which most Black people find themselves and conclude that racism is often the root cause.

To be sure, it has been well documented what Jim Crow and racism and bigotry have wrought and there are many people who are still afflicted by those systems. But, after looking at the situation from my own limited view, I can conclude that the devil is in the details...rather, he's not.

Right now, Blacks lag behind Whites in many areas and the gaps are widening. Academic test scores, crime rates, illegitimate birth rates, HIV occurrences, and poverty statistics all out-pace White people and the situation is not improving when you look at it that way.

I say that because EVERY ethnic group seeks to compare themselves to White people and as such, none of us may ever catch up and the ingrained sense of inferiority will remain. Now, it's not a bad thing to shoot for that brass ring but with such disparities inherent in the system which will seemingly always paint a negative outlook, what does one do in the meantime?

So, one has to look backward from now to try to determine how we all got to this place.

Let me say at the outset that in my opinion no one is guaranteed equality. No one says that you and I or he and she must be equal. We're not going to be and no matter how one wants to jigger the system, equality of outcomes should not be guaranteed.

Guarantee of opportunity should be the goal and the end result. If you and I have the chance to succeed because the doors are open, it is up to us to walk through and make the best of our opportunity. We do, however, need to be equipped to seize this chance and optimize it whenever it presents itself.

So, a long look back, with a pre-natal view, should ask if a person was ever shown the importance of a nuclear family unit, a strong moral foundation, an honest appreciation of local law enforcement to keep our neighborhoods safe from crime, an aesthetic that keeps our neighborhoods clean and litter-free, an active insistence on quality educational resources, a worship of academic achievement, a vivid and ardent supporter of economic dynamics which edify the local small businessperson, an emphasis on courtesy, dignity, manners, and the social graces, and having all of these mold a productive and dignified Black citizen of this country?

All of the external negative influences combined, when identified and checked at the gate, could not stop any Black person with a willingness and ability to climb the ladder to success. Do we identify these prospects and nurture them to do so? We see this within other ethnic groups, why not ourselves?

Walter E. Williams, a noted Black conservative with whom I have often disagreed in his views, correctly pointed out that at one point in Washington, DC Black students at Dunbar High School had more graduates go to college at a rate higher than all of the "White" high schools in the District combined! Why was this? and, what happened?

Dr. Martin Luther King fought for the abolishing of legal barriers to integration. In time, those barriers did disintegrate but with the new found freedom to live as we wish, and where we can afford, Black people have chosen to live with each other in self-induced segregation. But, with this apartheid has come a distinctly liberal point of view that allows for aberrant behavior to be acceptable when it wasn't acceptable when we had no choice but to live with each other.

Dr. Frances Welsing, has postulated that Black people have given in to the notion that they are inferior by nature and that White people are superior and this mindset manifests itself in Black people being "undervalued, underestimated, and marginalized."

But, does it have to be this way? Who says so? Who do we blame for this? Are we THAT malleable?

We have adopted a live-and-let-live mentality that says that no one can comment on behavior which, when you really think about it, brings everyone of us down. We allow the thought that it is OK to just live together, create children out of wedlock, or worse, have children out of wedlock and penalize a father who wants to be there with his family because they wouldn't be "poor" any more, just not poor enough to escape the paternal influences of the welfare state.

When a man can be an in-home father and husband to his wife, the money they earn is kept in the house and is used to build a better life if possible. He and she are there to be good examples of how important it is to be mother and father AND husband and wife to their children's impressionable eyes.

But, no...this can't happen. The Welfare State will actually pay the woman to keep the man away but then cripple him with excessive (albeit necessary) child support payments as he is now forced to find a place to live on his own under this unnecessary burden. All of the lives involved are now diminished and marginalized.

One need not be a conservative or even a libertarian to see the damage that this brings to a community.

So, with this onerous poverty pervading their daily lives, the focus is on mere survival rather than advancement. The stress can be palpable and little time can be spent then on helping children to be better students, and proper citizens with an appreciation of their neighborhoods as worthy places to live and to raise a decent family.

You force people to be heroic when just being parents might be enough. You have children developing a street think which glorifies getting over but all too often at someone else's expense through burglary, larceny, or pushing vile and destructive drugs. To be sure, people choose to use drugs but what are we doing to make that choice one that is not an option?

There's no time for school. There's no time for extra-curricular activity because there's no time to do well enough in school to qualify for them. There's no time to develop life skills because there's no time to learn how to show grace and courtesy to other people while you're trying to get over on them because there's no time for school because your parents' attention is forced to be elsewhere. Profanity, sexually expressive dress, and the propensity to underachieve become the norms...and you don't care who hears, sees, or knows it.

Meanwhile, our poverty is masked in bling and the hottest overpriced clothing styles. We have, sadly, the best-dressed poverty in the world.

Also, meanwhile, people are so quick to point out the gross domestic product of the "Black" community if all of the dollars stay in house. And, we elevate drug dealers and criminals to cult hero status.

A conundrum exists because, given the chance, Black people with a strong work ethic and achievement focus, don't want to live around people who do not share this same thought process and who will often care little about their own neighborhood while blaming people who don't live there for its condition, and who they would would rather blame for what has been their own doing.

Not everything is the result of racism and not every one is racist and only cares about keeping a foot on your neck!

So, when one looks back to find out why today is what it is, must we always point to external causes or is a lot of what has happened a question of choice? For far too long, the cause of our conditions have been the result of our choosing to listen to people who may appear well-intentioned but who have seduced us into believing that we can't do anything on our own. We have chosen to move away from our moral centers towards relativism. We have chosen to live only in the moment and not live lives of thrift.

The devil may be in the details but the devil has became ourselves when we have developed a certain level of victim-think when we have enough internal resources and, hopefully, the resolve to lift ourselves from the mud of despair and into a position where advancement, achievement, and accountability are normal. This is not to say that there are no victims by any means but are ALL of us victims? We are not that homogeneous and this diversity can be to our overall advantage.

Today, we suffer from a poverty of the spirit that erases all sense of self-respect and self-esteem. We fall prey to the defining influences of people who do not have our best interests at heart. We listen as people try to show us that God is no longer necessary; only them when it comes to our improvement. The morals has evaporated as we seek to be gods and make Him in our image rather than the other way around.

The Causes and Effects of this nasty dilemma can only be addressed when we take a long and critical look at what we have chosen to be and hopefully decide that enough is enough.

Black people
Illegal Immigrants The Irish The Italians
The Arabs
The Muslims

The Great Unwashed...

And, on and on it goes.
The latest version is when the woman in Vancouver blamed a Black woman for splashing acid in her face only to admit later that she made it up.

Remember, Susan Smith when she drowned her boys? Who did she blame then?

Then, there is the infamous Rosewood episode. *sigh*

Now, as then, the subconscious of America creates boogeymen to blame for the perceived downfall of their society. America as a separate entity, read empire, is not what it used to be. The American ideal is now a global concept and many people are seeking to live what Americans have always put up as THE way to live.
Now that more economies around the world are growing, it is almost as if you look on with nostalgia at that first girl/boyfriend that you dumped as they are living well with someone new.

The America that we all once knew is still there but it needs to wake up from her own self-induced nightmare that always wants to blame someone else for every perceived evil that is in front of her.
The issue here is not race anymore as much as it is class.

The poor, for the most part, don't want to be poor. Many would love to be at least lower middle class and many make it there in spite of all of the barriers along the way. But, for a lot of poor people, the "system" has them locked in in such a way that they cannot see beyond their poverty to even start to get out.

The system is their "Matrix" and they are now immune to advancement.
Those who are nostalgic for the "good old days" know that the only differentiation between the privileged and those who were not, was the mechanism which kept the prosperous prosperous and those who weren't as unable to do so.

Within each ethnic group, this happens so there's no need to blame another group for consensual economic suicide.
There are of course many other mitigating reasons for poverty and discrimination but at some point, someone is going to have to correct their own circumstance by focusing on local concerns.

Keep your own house clean by not tolerating the criminal element, by INSISTING that your educational institutions are operated as boot camps for the ready-to-be educated, and that decency and courtesy are the hallmark of being who you are rather than the fringe depiction of cartoonish caricatures by videos and satire.

As I have said before, stop waiting for the racist/bigot to stop being racist or bigoted before you step up to take control of your life and to reclaim your identity. You do not need their permission!!!
The sad but true bottom line is that when it comes to boogeymen, one need only look in the mirror through your own distorted eyes to see who is truly the star of that nightmare.