Speaking from the heart…

The need to write these words has been coming on for awhile.   Too much is happening to hold it in.   I am going to speak straight from my heart.

First understand something about me.  I don’t condone wrong, whether it comes in the guise of racism, or violence or whatever and regardless of whomever is the perpetrator of such, family, friends, acquaintances and so on.  Also I am a people watcher.  From as young as I can remember I have been fascinated by people.  How they act, what they do, what they say.   I read all the time.   I read articles and blog posts from all sides of an issue and the comments that are made to them.  The things I write here have become obvious to me over the last year or so in the comments and writings of others.  ‘Others’  refers to people of every color, nationality and gender as does ‘we’ in the rest of this piece.

We live in an fallen and broken world.   It is filled with the schemes and plans of the evil one and humans all too willing to follow him straight into hell.

My heart is breaking right now for our country, for the people who live here.   People filled with despair and no hope, people who have a responsibility to protect and serve, people who want whats right and want the deep divisions to be healed.

There are deeply deluded people, mentally ill people, misguided people and people filled with evil in every walk of life and of every race and color.   Evil is no respecter of persons.  It doesn’t pick and choose by race, country, gender or creed.    We are all susceptible to it.

With this being said, I can’t keep silent another moment.    I have friend, coworkers and acquaintances from countries all over the world.   For many of them I know their hearts.  These words are not directed to them.

#BlackLivesMatter, this is directed to you and those who espouse your views.

You have a serious perception problem.   A huge one.   I understand what you are trying to get across, but you are failing miserably.   If you want to capture the hearts and minds of those around you, you have to live and believe your message and change how you are presenting it.

First, STOP the violence.   Distance yourselves publicly from anyone who would perpetrate violence in your name.   Distance yourselves publicly from those who would pervert your message for their own gain or agenda.  Do your best to stop the destruction, burning and looting.  Be the voice of reason and calm.  You can’t afford not to.  As long as you do not speak loud and strong against the violence and those who are doing it,  and against those who would pervert your message for their own agendas, the people you are trying to reach are going to reject you and your message and even actively work against you!

Second, even though it may be a ‘tired old cliche’ actions really do speak louder than words.   We can’t trust that you really believe that #BlackLivesMatter.  It is turned on and off like a faucet.   You turn it on any time Law enforcement is involved in the death of a black person, but you can’t be bothered to speak out against black on black violence.   Either #BlackLivesMatter or they don’t.  You don’t get to pick and choose when they matter.   They either matter all the time or not at all.  They are inextricably intertwined and can’t be separated.  They have to matter in the inner city, when little girls and little boys are killed by stray bullets that go into their homes and kill them.  They have to matter when young black males shoot it out in the streets.  They have to matter when fathers and mothers, daughters and sons are killed in drive by shootings.  They have to matter when young black people die because they are addicted to drugs. They have to matter when the young black women are at the abortion clinic terminating the life of a black infant who doesn’t even have a chance to matter.  They have to matter ALL the time!  Not just when you can make a story out of it.   You are losing the support of your neighbors and friend and all those watching from afar because they don’t believe that Black Lives really do matter to you.  I have even been told direct to my face that I don’t need to worry or care about those black folks who live in the inner cities of Chicago, Detroit, Louisiana and other places because they will take care of their own.    I see how well that is working and it seems that someone surely does need to worry about it.

Third, we are all the same under the skin.  We have the same body parts, our circulatory system works the same, our DNA works the same, we all have a beating heart.  We are all humans and we are all connected.   You can’t separate your life from my life and the police lives and the military lives and the politician lives and the hispanic lives and the asian lives and the native lives and the white lives.  If one life matters, #AllLivesMatter.   You will have more people willing to support you and not turning their backs on you if you approach this as a solution we can only achieve by working together rather than beating people over the head that #BlackLivesMatter is more important than #AllLivesMatter.   #BlackLivesMatter BECAUSE #AllLivesMatter.  You can’t have one without the other.  This has to be part of your message.  It’s not inconsistent to acknowledge that.

Fourth, it’s going to take all of us working together to forge new relationships and understandings and to solve the issues that are plaguing us today.   We have to set aside biases and hatred and all the other prejudices that keep us from coming together to solve these issues.    Working together mighty things can be accomplished.   This is made very clear in the story of the Tower of Babel from the Bible.  Even God himself said so.

Genesis 11:1-9New International Version (NIV)

The Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Fifth, stop letting the media be your mouthpiece.   They will come and they will report, but call them out when they misreport, don’t let them spin your message.   They are out for dollars and if stirring up trouble will help that, then that’s what they will do. The media thrives when there is strife.   Normal, everyday nice life is boring and doesn’t sell.  So it’s in their best interest to foster violence and strife.

Sixth, stop with the race-baiting garbage and childish antics.   We are all adults here.  We don’t need ‘safe spaces’ to be protected from ideas and speech that is different from ours.   We don’t need to bash people over the head about things they had no control over, such as being born white or black or hispanic or whatever.  Is there disparity in life and the workplace and so on? sure there is, that’s reality.  The world has been largely a patriarchy since time began.   The fact that God designed it that way sort of comes into play here.   There is disparity for women, minorities etc.   Not just here in the U.S.   Go to any other country and see if they don’t favor their own countrymen and women for jobs and such.  Go to a whole lot of other countries and see that woman don’t even have the same basic rights that women in American have.   Go to Asia and see the total disparity between men and women to the point that girl babies are aborted and killed in early infancy at a horrible rate even today in favor of boys.   If you don’t like what someone else is saying or talking about, don’t listen.  You aren’t any more special than anyone else and you have the same freedom of speech and such that the rest of us do.

Seventh, stop taking every little handout from the Government.  The more you are dependent on them, the more they own you.  The more they run your lives and determine your future.  They are using you to further their political agenda.  A free phone isn’t worth selling your soul for.  Work together, support each other.  Learn how to do things, plant a garden for food, work with the boys and girls clubs to help your children, GET INVOLVED.

Eighth, stop acting like black people have been the only victims of slavery.  Stop accusing white people of changing history to suit their purposes while willfully hiding and refusing to accept the fact that the slave trade to Britain and America could not have happened without black tribes and groups of people being willing to round up and sell their own people and because of that bear some responsibility for what happened. Every person group in the world has been a victim of slavery at one time or another and in some countries still are.  You cannot deny and hide this history and the history of Black folks owning slaves right here in America and being part of the problem and expect that anyone is going to be willing to agree with your view of this.  Refusing to acknowledge any history that proves other groups were slaves (even though it was called by another name) right here in America only serves to divide further and drive people away. It IS true what they say.  There is nothing new under the sun.  It’s all happened before in one way, shape or form.

Ninth, when deaths happen involving law enforcement, wait for ALL the facts to come in and be willing to accept that what you see and hear in the beginning isn’t going to be the whole story.  There are always multiple sides to every story, the victims side, the offenders side, the evidence side and the truth is somewhere in the middle of all that.  Remember that the media is only going to tell you what will sell the story.  In the meantime STOP trying to convince the world that a victim who was a career criminal and has an arrest record as long as your arm, was a law abiding, upstanding citizen who was a pillar of the community.   We know better!  It comes out in a matter of hours.  Be honest about who they were.   This will not change the facts.  It will not change the ultimate outcome.  Not being honest only gives the rest of the people another reason to believe that #BlackLivesMatter is a just another group with an agenda that condones and perpetrates violence and distorts facts to get their own way.

and finally Ten!   There are thousands upon thousands of people who want to resolve the issues, who want to stop the violence, all of it.   Who want to come together as one country, one people, who can work side by side, who can live side by side and do life together.  Who can work together to keep our neighborhoods safe and keep our children safe.  Who want to feel safe in a world of people who look different but are the same underneath.  Who want to live in a world of ‘Wondrous variety’.  Not only in the color of our skin but in the richness of our differences.

You are driving them away.  You are losing your audience, because you can’t see the forest for the trees.   Change is only going to come if we work together.   I don’t believe that any of us want an all out war, but that is where we are headed, if change doesn’t happen and happen soon.

 

To Speed Or Not to Speed?

I am sure many of you are thinking that the answer is obvious, but is it?

I would like to give you something to think about.

We have to start with a few basic premises, so let’s take this for a spin, shall we.

  Premise:

  1. The posted speed limit is the law.  As such you can be ticketed and fined for not obeying it.
  2. We should obey the law
  3. This probably doesn’t apply in smaller cities and towns or rural areas.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s break this down.  Buckle your seat belts because the ride is about to get a little bumpy and there are a few twists and turns.

Driving here in Georgia has gotten quite a bit more complicated, at least on the freeways,  with the passing of a new law.   Called the ‘Slowpoke Law’, it mandates that if you are driving in the left lane on any highway, interstate or expressway, you must get out of the way of faster traffic.   Most of us who have been driving for any length of time should remember the signs on the freeways that read ‘Slow Traffic Keep right’.   In times past most states had a law that the the left lane was a ‘Passing Only’ lane.  You couldn’t just stay in it.  You had to move back over as soon as you passed the traffic in front of you. This law if still on the books is no longer enforced in many states.  ‘Slow Traffic Keep Right’ was designed so those people driving less than the posted speed limit were to stay in the right hand lane(s).

So here is where it starts to get bumpy.   If you are driving on the freeway whether you get ticketed for speeding tends to depend on if you are driving ‘with the flow’ of traffic or not.

So now we have this thing called ‘flow of traffic’  which is code for ‘the posted speed limit doesn’t apply anymore’  and which can vary from lane to lane.  Now remember the posted speed limit is the law, except……..when it isn’t!

And we have what is called a ‘Super Speeder Law’ which means significantly higher fines (hundreds of dollars higher) if you are ticketed for going more than 75mph on any 2 lane road or more than 85mph on any road or highway .  Which also doesn’t seem to apply when the ‘flow of traffic’ is in play on highways, interstates or expressways where the posted speed limit is 75mph. Because of course if the posted speed limit is 75mph most of the people are going to be driving at least 80 or 85.

UNLESS……… you are driving in the left lane on any highway, interstate or expressway.   Then you must move over if a vehicle driving faster than you are comes up behind you.

So let’s think about this a minute.  If I am driving along with the ‘flow of traffic’, which is moving between 10 and 15 mph over the posted speed limit, in the left lane, and someone zooms up behind me (meaning they are exceeding the posted speed limit by a significant amount) I, and everyone in front of me, have to get over and let them pass or I will get a ticket and presumably they are going to tack a speeding ticket on top of that.

So not only have we said that in certain situations the posted speed limit (which we have already stated is the law) is nullified, but we are now going to penalize people who are abiding by the ‘effective law’ (flow of traffic) in favor of someone who is going so fast that they are a serious danger to everyone around them rather than stopping that person and giving them the ticket.

Am I the only one who sees a serious problem with this?   First I don’t think you are going to find any highways, interstates or freeways where the flow of traffic isn’t higher than the posted speed limit.  It’s just where we are now.  Experts now tell us that signs of road rage include driving at a high rate of speed, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating etc.

With the flow of traffic already being normally 10-15 mph over the posted speed limit, are we seriously going to enable those who show the signs of road rage by requiring everyone else to get out of their way or get ticketed?  Shouldn’t we be targeting the person who is endangering everyone else?

So you tell me, is the posted speed limit the law or isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

What difference does it make?

What difference does what make?   That is the question of the day.

Daily, sometimes multiple times a day, we are presented with posts or emails asking us to share information (mis-information most of the time).   This information runs the gamut from being the ‘Let’s do something nice’ to posts about what someone supposedly said or did.     Why is this an issue you may ask and what difference does it make if you share it without verifying?

How often do we stop to ask ourselves if what we are about to share is really true and what the possible effects of sharing it might be?   Up until recently I only really thought about it if it was a claim that was either too good to be true, something I wanted to get involved in or something that didn’t quite measure up.

When we do stop to think about it do we check it out and see if it’s really true or do we just blindly share and not spare another thought?

Here is something for you to think about.   Words and pictures once shared can never be taken back.   They spread like wildfire, going out of control so fast your head won’t have time to spin.    So what’s the big deal you may ask.

Let’s start by looking at some relatively minor effects.  Everything that is shared takes up space.  It resides on a server somewhere for posterity.   Space is not free, someone somewhere (Advertising anyone?) is paying for that space.  It clutters up inboxes and newsfeeds, sometimes to the point you can’t read the stuff you are really interested in.  Ok, I can see where that might be a problem, but is that a really big deal?

That might not be a ‘really’ big deal, but other things are.   First and foremost, how is it going to affect the person, organization or group that is the subject of the email or post?   The effects on these range from the positive to the absolutely horrible.  Sometimes it gets a business or group noticed which can be a good thing.   However this is typically not the most common outcome.  In cases of ‘Let’s do something Good’, here is an example.   There is a post going around about sending cards to ‘Any Wounded Soldier’ at Walter Reed hospital.   This program was discontinued in 2006 for administrative and security concerns.   These cards and gifts are returned to the sender and of course Walter Reed has to pay for the shipping.   Plus the costs to pay someone to deal with all of this.   At a time when the medical care our soldiers are receiving is suspect, we can’t afford for hospitals to have to spend precious dollars on paying staff and postage to handle this.

What about posts about individuals?   Recognition can be great but in appropriate doses.   Just ask celebrities what happens when they become ‘famous’.   Think stalkers, over agressive fans, etc.   It can take people living a normal life and put them into a spotlight they don’t want and that can jeopardize them and their family.

And what about those posts that say negative things about an organization, group or individual?   The backlash is horrendous and many times goes way beyond what is appropriate for the ‘crime’.  But what if it’s not true?   People lose their jobs, family and sometimes their lives.

Are you willing to contribute to this?   Think about it and put yourself in their shoes?

I ask all of my readers, verify before you share,  you very well could be saving someones job, family or life.

What about

Christianity, what’s in it for me?

I see so many posts and hear so many people asking the question why should anyone become a Christian.   They aren’t asking because they don’t understand the message of what Jesus did for them, they aren’t asking because they don’t understand what it might  mean for them.

They are asking if it’s worthwhile because what they see in other Christians does not give them any hope for anything better.   If we as Christians do not live like we are Christians, if we don’t live like we have the eternal promise of Salvation, if we don’t live like we believe that Jesus is our Rock, our comforter and our provider, why would anyone want to live like us.

If our lives do not reflect the joy and promise of eternal salvation, why would anyone give up what they perceive as the only pleasure they can attain to become a Christian?

We are called to be in the world, but not OF the world.   You cannot behave like everyone else, have the same standards as everyone else, not be discerning in the type of music and entertainment you watch or listen to, not be modest in your dress and still claim that you have Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your heart and soul guiding you.   It’s not that you are forced to give up what you have, it’s that with Jesus and the Holy Spirit acting in your life, your desires change,  you want different things.

You MUST live with an external, visible difference from the rest of the world.

Does this mean we won’t go through suffering and difficulty?   Not at all, Christians are not promised an easy road, as a matter of fact the road to heaven is narrow and hard.   We will have suffering the same as any man.   The difference is we have a comforter, a rock to cling to, a tower of strength outside of ourselves that support us as we navigate troubled waters.

We have a Heavenly Father who listens to us.   Whether his answer to our prayer is to heal, or ease our circumstances or allow us to go through the deep waters and bring us out on the other side stronger and with wisdom, he hears our prayers.   He never leaves us, nor forsakes us.

Brothers and Sisters, let us live with the promise of tomorrow shining in our attitudes and behaviors.   Let us be a light to a darkened world.

Going ‘Postal’

Today a new tragedy.   2 news persons where shot dead on live tv, the result of a disgruntled employee.    The news is full of these anymore, unhappy employees, family members, students deciding that they no longer want to live this life, and are determined to take out all those who they feel were the cause of their unhappiness, depression etc.

This increasing number of incidents tells me that we are in serious trouble.   Who is next, who will be collateral damage in some self-righteous person’s rage against those who have ‘wronged’ them?

I see 3 major issues in our society today that have lead up to this happening.

  • The ‘it’s all about me’ attitude
  • The unwillingness to accept any responsibility for anything in their life
  • Blaming it all on mental illness

I know that I am not going to make any friends with that last statement but I will forge ahead.   Yes, there are many mentally ill people in this world and it’s a horrible problem that needs much attention.   Is it possible that some of these are directly related to mental illness?  Absolutely.    But I firmly believe that the majority of these are not mentally ill people.   I believe that they are selfish, self-centered people who have never been required to take responsibility for anything.   They were never taught that their happiness, livelihood, friendships, lifestyle etc. are their responsibility and require effort and work.   They believe that it’s up to their employer to provide their dream job, their spouse to fulfill their emotional needs, their friends to fill their other emotional needs and that the world owes them a living.  They believe that they should be treated like the best and the smartest and that no one can dislike them or even have a harsh word for them regardless of the effort they put towards being the best, smartest, friendliest etc.   They have never been taught the lesson that how people perceive you is 99% your responsibility.

We live in a society that is increasingly in favor of allowing anyone who isn’t ‘happy’ with their life to end it by killing themselves.  It has become a cause to be celebrated.   Life has no intrinsic value anymore unless you want it to have value.   If you have decided that your life has no value, we will celebrate you instead of trying to convince you otherwise.

We have also created a culture where people think they are entitled to be lauded at every opportunity (participation trophies anyone?) and if they aren’t something is wrong and we need to do something about it.  We have implied that everyone is entitled to praise where it is not warranted, happiness when we haven’t done anything to work for it, acknowledgement for showing up and on and on.   We have told people that unless these things happen they can’t be happy.   We have told them that if they aren’t happy then life isn’t worth living. We have told them that fame is what matters and that living an ordinary day to day existence with the peaks and valleys and joys and sorrows that are a part of life aren’t enough.

So we must extend this to the person who has decided that they no longer want to live and if their life has no value then the lives of the people who have ‘wronged’ them also have no value.    With this mentality it is easy to see why someone who has decided that they can no longer live would decide that ‘if they have to die’ then why should those who have caused them so much unhappiness live either.  They are going to ‘get their 15 minutes of fame’.

As long as we continue to celebrate this idea that the only value that life has is in the mind of the individual, it’s just going to get worse.

What’s missing in the Church today?

Ask people what’s missing in the church today and you will get a laundry list of things from Christians and Non-Christians alike,  ranging from compassion to inclusion.   When we listen to the non-christian tell us what is missing and what we should do to get more people into the church, it’s easy to fall into the trap of agreeing with many things we shouldn’t agree with.  The Non-Christian would tell us that they want to see the Church be more inclusive, more open minded, should ensure that sermons don’t talk about hell and so on.

Church, these are things we can’t agree with!    We are called to be ‘salt and light’, in other words to be candle in the darkness and a welcome addition.   We can’t be either one of these things if we are not any different from those around us.  If we are dwelling in the darkness along with the rest of the world how will our ‘candle’ shine the path to righteousness?

The Church as a whole has left it’s first love.   They no longer believe that the Bible is the true and inspired Word of God.  They have given up man as a beautiful being created in the very image of God and instead have bought the lie that is evolution.  That God gave us no more thought than a tiny speck of matter floating in an endless sea.   The Church accepts many different forms of perversion and says it’s ok and not only welcomes it, but celebrates it.

As we question why people are turning from the Church and as we move forward to face the persecutions that are come upon us we no longer have the weapons to shine truth into a lost and dying world.  We are no longer a light in the darkness, a candle in the wind   How is there hope in the Church when the church is embracing the same sin that people are dying from?

People might say the Church needs more compassion, fervency and urgency in prayer, more evangelism, but those are only symptoms of the real problem.   The Church cannot preach a saving, hope filled message when they are frolicking in the same morass of sin as the rest of the world.

If we look no different and act no different how can we expect anyone to accept that our message is one of hope and life?   The world sees the Church’s hypocrisy and calls it out and the Church has no defense for they have left their first love.

We draw people to our Savior by our actions in and out of the Church, by our character when no one is looking.  People no longer desire to be like us, because they are us and we are them.

Church,  I urge you, I beg you!  return to your first love!  Pray for forgiveness and return to the God who loves you and who has called you to be his people.   God has not changed nor moved away, WE have changed and we have changed the meaning of the Word of God as well.  The Bible must again be considered the True and Inspired Word of God.   We must first understand that the New Testament of Hope and Forgiveness cannot exist without the Old Testament Law.   We must understand the difference.    We must be able to proclaim to a lost and dying world that their hope isn’t found because they find a Church that welcomes and celebrates their sin, but instead it is found in a True and Right relationship with God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

We have to lead the way.   The Church must turn from it’s wicked ways or it will lead it’s people to hell on path filled with unrighteousness and sin glossed over by the acceptance it has granted.

White, Black and the case of Privilege in America

You have probably read about it or maybe even been accosted by someone telling you to ‘check your white privilege’.   This is the new rallying cry on campuses and institutions across the country.

If we are not black we are supposed to cower away in shame and feel guilty from gaining some ephemeral benefit from things that happened decades in the past.

So what exactly is privilege?  Merrian Websters dictionary describes it this way:

  • a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others
  • the advantage that wealthy and powerful people have over other people in a society
  • a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor
  • such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office

So right away we can see that historically white people have had many right’s or benefits given to them that were not given to blacks. White privilege definitely existed in a historical context.  Fast forward to today, legally none of these rights or privileges can be denied to anyone because of the color of their skin anymore.  We even have organizations and policies that exist to prevent it in certain institutions.  So continue down the list and see what other kinds of privileges are granted to people.  Now we see privilege based on money, position etc. Privilege exists everywhere you go.

Privilege will never go away.   There will always be people who are given an elevated level of privilege for whatever reason, be it money, family name, stardom, the color of your hair,  you name it.

What happened in the past was shameful, but it is the past. We can’t change it, we can’t make it go away.   If we are ever to become the nation that we claim to want, we have to put the past where it belongs and move forward.

The ‘check your white privilege’ movement (which is strangely mostly directed at white men), needs to be seen for the lie it is.   It is used to stop open and honest debate but more than that it is used increasingly by people who are desperately trying to hide from the truth.  The truth that our nation is broken and that it can’t be fixed if only a single group of people would ‘check their privilege’.  The truth that we all need to willingly accept a hand ‘up’ and not a handout.   We need to pick up our responsibility at the door and recognize that we all must work towards that future, where privilege is granted based on behavior and not on skin color.

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