Reconciliation

As God often does, topics seem to ‘fall in line.’¬† Today’s lesson was largely about racial reconciliation in the church. Jackson teaches that without ‘learning to walk in humility and love, lasting racial reconciliation is not really possible.’ (127) Many times believers try to force the issue of diversity and instead of true acceptance we often create tokens within the body, people who do not feel valued and loved. I liked that Jackson points out that the spiritual body of Christ is already unified. Yet, we have to be taught to recognize and celebrate this unity.

We spent a great deal of time talking about Paul’s description of himself in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Paul says that he adapts himself to the people he wants to win for Christ. He sized people up and worked to reach them right where they were – as equals. From Jackson’s writings we glean four ways that, like Paul, we can minister.

1. We reach out to those who think their race, job, ethnicity, material goods, position – whatever – is the real source. These folk take undue pride in who they are to the point that they devalue anyone who is not like them. It’s fine to be proud to be an African American, Caucasion, Doctor, Lawyer- yet it is not okay to take that pride to the point that you look down upon those who are not like you.

2. We reach out to those who are steeped in a legalistic faith. These are the folk that say if you weren’t baptised in the name of …. you couldn’t possibly be saved. These folk have strict rules about what to wear, where to go, who to associate with, what to eat. Like Paul, we need to reach these folk for Christ.

3. We reach out to those who are Biblically illiterate. Not everyone reads or knows the word. Therefore, we can’t use the word to beat folk upside the head. We can share Christ without ever saying ‘the Bible says…’ before the person is really ready to hear it.

4. We reach out to those that we dislike or fear. This includes those for whom we would normally have disdain.

Using Paul as an example we realize that ‘understanding the worldview of others is critical to heart communication and connection.’ (130)

Finally, Jackson teaches that there were five dimensions of training that David took men through on their journey to reconciliation with God and man. The steps are:

– Prayer (and praise) -Believers can never take a vacation from prayer and devotion to God. Prayer and praise are daily disciplines if we want to be successful.

– Protection -We live under God’s protective cover. Bishop Charles Blake, my pastor from my California days, used to say it like this – ‘God best protects where God directs.’ Living under God’s protection is a choice we make.

– Provision – Everything we have and all we are is dependent upon God. We must never lose sight of this. God is our source. Everything else is one of the vehicles God uses to meet our needs.

– Positive proclamations – We must recall the power of our words which have creative power. What we say is what we get! (135)

– Probity – I loved this word once I looked it up so I’d understand it ūüôā¬† Probity means complete integrity, strong moral principles, PROVEN honesty/integrity. In other words, probity speaks to consistently doing the right thing, even when no one is looking and in such a way that people can trust your integrity. Most of us have integrity, fall down and have to get back on the road. That’s ok. God always allows u-turns. But there is a special anointing on the one whose integrity is so important that they are willing to go the extra mile to do what God says do and be where God says be. That’s what I’m striving for.

Be blessed!

Lesson 8

Last week we studied a simple, yet critical concept for living the warrior’s lifestyle: what we accomplish in life, the mark we make for God is directly related to our outlook and attitude. As discussed lesson, rather than concentrate on those things that we have no control over we DO have control over how we think and act.¬† Rev. Jackson teaches that character virtue or blemishes will define our unique personal fingerprints and the marks we leave in history. (109) Often we allow the enemy to gain an inroad in our lives in a number of ways. There is a formula that I intuited from Jackson’s writings.

PRIDE (believing that you can/must/should handle your situation on your own, without any help or acting like God needs your help)

+ a fundamental LACK OF TRUST in God’s ability to provide

= ANXIETY OR FEAR

Anytime we rely on our own abilities we, in effect, say to God that we don’t think God is capable of taking care of what is bothering us or that God needs our help. And ‘leaning to our own understanding’ is always a recipe for fear and anxiety. There is something deep within each believer that understands our need for God and other believers. Left to our own devices, we can make a real mess of things. I know I am hearing an amen from somebody!¬† And we keep a crazy cycle going. We operate out of fear and anxiety which drives us to try to work things out on our own.¬† When we recognize that this formula is at work in our lives we need to immediately stop and apply the following three steps.

  • 1. Apply God’s word to the situation.
  • 2. Repent of our sin. Yes, pride IS a sin!¬† Repent of the sin of ignoring Godly wisdom – from whatever source it has come. Most of the time our spouses, coworkers, pastors, friends, are speaking words of wisdom to us. Yet just as often we don’t listen because we may not like the speaker or may not appreciate the way the words were spoken. That, too, is sin. Repent!
  • 3. Change your outlook/attitude.
  • 4. Stick with it. Change takes time, sacrifice and commitment to stay the course.

With God’s help, you will come out of the situation victoriously!

The latter part of the chapter details how warriors use the beattitudes as counter-cultural attitudes. If you’ve not really read them, I encourage you to do so. (111-120). I am personally convinced that God is calling all believers in the 21st Century to commit to living a counter-cultural life. We are being swept along in a tide that is destroying our families. And when families are destroyed, a nation falls!


Open Letter from Alice Walker to President-Elect Obama

Though this letter was written to Obama, the wisdom in it is for each of us. As I read it, I found myself reflecting on my own life and the ease with which the temporal so often upstages the eternal. Ms. Walker’s words contain an indictment for each of us AND hope that we can return to the one who makes life worth living.¬† Naturally, she does not say it in this way. Yet this minister can discern a sermon when one is being preached. The writer of 1 Corinthians 13 says it clearly ‘Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance……Three things will last forever‚ÄĒfaith, hope, and love‚ÄĒand the greatest of these is love.’ And the demonstration of that love starts with our families, the ones often on the chopping block in the pursuit of fame, position, and power! Let us today hear the truth in Ms. Walker’s words and apply them to our lives.

http://www.theroot.com/id/48726
Nov. 5, 2008

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people’s enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people’s spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to “work with the enemy” internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

Ten Ways to Ensure that Your Spouse Feels Loved

This is from Family Dynamics Institute.

1.     Pray with your spouse every day.
2. ¬†¬† ¬†Enjoy a “date” every week with your spouse.
3.     Spend 10 minutes each day listening to your spouse share his or her day.
4.     Discover & fulfill four ways your spouse likes you to receive affection.
5.     While at home wear only what the other desires you to wear, as long as you feelcomfortable doing so.

6.     Give your spouse 15 minutes per week to ask you any question and answer each question honestly.

7.     Spend 5 un-interrupted minutes each week telling your spouse what you specifically appreciate about him or her.
8.     Ask your spouse what domestic chore he or she would like you to do for him or her, and do it.

9.     Save up to $25 this next month that you would normally spend pampering yourself and put it into your retirement fund.

10.     Spend at least two hours every week for the next month doing something enriching for your entire family.

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