Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What if there were no black, brown, red, yellow or white people, only human

Racism is incredibly successful, despite having no basis at all in fact. There is only one race – the human race. —Deborah Orr

In the wake of the Charleston church massacre and police shootings of unarmed blacks, a cry has once again gone out for an end to racism in America (#ENDRACISMNOW). Americans will never rid themselves of racism until they put an end to the idea of racial groups. Without race, there would be no basis for racism. You'd have to hate me for some other reason like I dress funny or talk with food in my mouth for instance. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but not as ridiculous as this whole pretense of race.

As much as America tries to justify using race to socially stratify, identify and classify groups of people, it cannot. Clearly, I'm not black and you're not white, yellow, red or any of the other colors we've all been conditioned to paint our fellow human beings. Everything about race is false, contrived, misleading, controlling, divisive, debasing concept meant to control some and elevate others. God created one race—the human race; and we're all equally a part of it.

The notion that human beings belong to distinctly different racial groupings is simply untrue. Anthropologists, geneticists, biologists have proven this. But for reasons previously stated, societies have been culturally programmed to believe otherwise. We've been falsely lead into believing that we have no genetic or biological antecedent. The problem is this view can't be supported by scientific evidence.
Science has proven that all living humans belong to the same species, Homo sapiens, and subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens. There is a wide consensus that the racial categories that are common in everyday usage are socially constructed, and that racial groups cannot be biologically defined.
According to historian John Henrik Clark says race is a means of dividing and controlling groups of people:
The idea of "race" was developed as a direct response to the exploitation of other peoples, to provide both a pretext and a justification for the most unjustifiable conduct, the enslavement, murder, and degradation of millions of human beings.
and author Paul R. Spickard writes,
Race is primarily a sociopolitical construct. The sorting of people into this race or that in the modern era has generally been done by powerful groups for the purposes of maintaining and extending their own power.
The seeds of race and racism in America are traceable back to slavery. Race coding originated with light-skinned Europeans who forged a system to enslave their darker-skinned African-born captives.
The issue of race and racism has been at the center of American culture, politics and capital development since European colonialists first set foot on land they claimed as theirs.—Malik Miah
Slavery reinforced a belief of light-skinned Americans that they were somehow superior to the darker-skinned Africans under their control. They used their dominance to justify the cruel and inhuman treatment imposed upon these darker-skinned humans, and the racism that continues to this day.
Thus was created the only slave system in the world that became exclusively "racial." By limiting perpetual servitude to Africans and their descendants, colonists were proclaiming that blacks would forever be at the bottom of the social hierarchy.—Audrey Smedley
Racism is a horrible part of America's history, but it's a history that all Americans share. And when they travel to other countries, Americans import their racist thinking and behaviors to other cultures where it never before existed. The only way race and racism will ever be eradicated from American life is by the collective will of future generations. The old ways of thinking have to die out as well as those who maintain them. Quite frankly, we're not there yet. People are still dying in America—both black and white—victims of racially motivated killings. Last week, it was Charleston, 52 years ago it was Birmingham, not to mention all the other incidents in-between. At what point is the price we are paying to keep race and racism alive is too high.

Who in America has not had his or her whole life existence defined or marred in some way by race or racism? The U.S. government and many of public institutions knowingly or unknowingly encourage race coding by forcing people into racial categories on official forms —primarily, whether the applicant is white or black. It's an open invitation to use this information to discriminate, segregate, exclude from consideration or to give preferential treatment. Despite laws against it, discrimination still happens.

So what can we as individuals do about it in our everyday dealings with others of different origins? We can elect to de-institutionalize race and eliminate putting others in racial categories altogether. No more black, brown, red, yellow or white, just American, European, Asian and the like based on people origin, not colors. The new categories for Americans in the U.S. might be:
  • Native American
  • American
  • Other (Specify country of origin or citizenship if other than U.S.)
It's not a perfect solution, but it's a start toward changing attitudes about race and toward reversing the damage it has caused. Just imagine if race were a non-issue, think of how much time we'd have to explore new ways of relating to each other.
This is the list of the descendants of Adam. When God created human beings, he made them like himself. He created them male and female, blessed them, and named them “Human Beings.” —Genesis 5:1-2 GNT

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Peace of Mind: Where's the app for that

You may have seen the television commercial featuring a character by the name of "Mayhem" who goes about creating all kinds of trouble for his innocent, unsuspecting victims. After each disaster he causes, Mayhem is heard to say,
"If you had [blank] insurance you'd be protected from mayhem like me."
Most people buy insurance to protect them from the unexpected—a sudden illness, car accident, house fire, travel mishap, and even death. People live each day with the element of surprise hanging over their heads. They leave home each day, drive to work, drop the kids off at school, board buses, trains and planes to go about routine activities— all without any certainty or guarantee of how their day will end.

Like mayhem, there is a real life character who also preys upon the lives of people for no other reason than to harm or defeat us. His name is Satan. You may be familiar with his other names—the devil, the accuser, thief and the father of lies. The bible calls Satan "the god of this world" because he rules earth and is responsible for all the evil and wickedness in the world (2 Corinthians 4:4). You see his influence in people who steal, lie, cheat, quarrel, murder, bully and inflict harm on others (Romans 1:29-32). In the bible Satan is depicted as a roaring lion on the prowl looking for someone to attack (1 Peter 5:8).

Satan could care less whether you are a Christian, some other religion or no religion at all. He's an equal opportunity destroyer who hates God, and wants to destroy everything that God has created. But here's the Good News. the God of the bible provides an insurance policy against Satan's attacks backed by faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. The bible says that Jesus came into the world to destroy the power of the devil over humankind.

God's insurance policy comes with an ironclad guarantee that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). The only stipulation is that you accept the salvation that Jesus' death and resurrection provides. God's insurance policy is activated by saying a simple prayer like this:
Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I believe you died on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins, come into my heart and help me live the rest of my life for you.  
If you recited the prayer and meant it with all your heart, starting now whenever mayhem strikes, you'll have peace of mind knowing God's got you covered.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

God with us

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.—Psalm 18:6 KJV

It should be a comfort, if you are a Christian, to know that God hears you. The question is—do you have faith enough to believe it? I encounter people all the time who say they are Christians but who are weak in the knees when it comes to believing God for what they need. They don't have confidence to approach God's throne of grace themselves so they ask others to do it for them— "Please pray for me." No question intercessory prayer is a powerful ally, but our personal prayers are what's needed to move God to act on our behalf. The Bible clearly states in James 5:16—
The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].—AMP
With that kind of power right at our fingertips, prayer should be automatic in every situation we face. Nevertheless, God is gracious to answer our unspoken prayers as well as the prayers of others for us. Sometimes, when someone experiences an instant or miraculous answer to prayer, you know without a doubt that it came from God. At other times, He may delay the answer or give a partial answer so that we might labor in prayer until the answer comes.

God knows everything about us before we even open our mouths to tell him. He wouldn't be God if He didn't. He's the omniscient, omnipotent (all-knowing, all powerful) God, nothing is hidden from His sight. David wrote in Psalm 139:2—
Im an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.
So, you ask, why pray if God knows everything? One reason is because God commands us to "pray without ceasing"... because this is the way God wants those who belong to Christ Jesus to live (1 Thessalonians 5:16). The other reason is our prayers unleash God's power into the situation. Angels spring into action at God's command to rescue believing Christians who cry out to Him. That's what prayer does. Here's a simple analogy: You have a car at your disposal to take you anywhere you want to go, at anytime. You have the keys to the car. But if you don't put them in the ignition and start the car, it will never do what it's suppose to do. It's the same with prayer—it works best when you use it.

A final thought, if God is ever present in a believer's life, then the reverse must also be true—the believer is always in God's presence. Now that's reason to rejoice and pray.

Note: If you are unsure of or want a closer relationship with the God of the Bible, you'll find help at Peace with God.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Jesus' resurrection takes the fear out of dying

Death is not a blind alley that leads the human race into a state of nothingness, but an open door which leads man into life eternal.— Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Several years ago, I was talking with a friend, and just happened to mention that a famous Broadway producer we met on a cruise had died. My friend looked straight at me and said, "I'm ready." I didn't realize what she meant until a few days later when I received a call that my friend had died. As shocking as the news was, I took comfort in the fact that she didn't fear death. You might say she looked forward to it because she was a Christian.

Christians die like everybody else, and often from all the bad things in this world that kill everybody else. The difference is when Christians die, they know they won't stay dead forever. According to Christian belief, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ will never really die. This truth is rooted in God's unshakable promise of eternal life to anyone who accepts his Christ.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT
I haven't faced the moment of death personally, but I have been present when others have. You can tell a lot about a person by how they face the moment of death. Their last words, the look on their face say a lot about the kind of life they lived. For instance, some people curse God as they are dying, others make last-minute pleas for forgiveness, which God does honor.

And then, there are the true Christians. You can tell by the radiant look on their faces, as they lay dying, that they must see heaven open up and angels descending to take them home. When my mother died from MS at age 83, she had that look. I was happy for her, and I admit a little envious because I knew without a doubt she was heading for a place where she'd be more alive than she'd ever been in life. For the believer in Christ, death is the fulfillment of this scripture:
And we are not afraid but are quite content to die, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8 TLB
Easter marks a sacred time on the Christian calendar because it symbolizes Christ's victory over death, and by association, the victory of every believing Christian. Essentially, that's what Jesus' resurrection means in a world of believers and non-believers. Refusing to believe doesn't change or negate the reality of what Jesus accomplished. The Scriptures tell his story:
Jesus died a physical death on the cross and was raised by God's spirit from the dead. Christ's resurrection is evidenced by the empty tomb in Jerusalem, by the written testimony of his disciples in the Gospels, and by the more than 500 sightings of others who encountered  Jesus after his resurrection prior to his ascension into heaven.
What Jesus did made death merely an event, not a dead end. Christ's resurrection took the sting out of death. No wonder Christians don't view death in the same way others do. Christians see death as a home-going. Christian songwriters write songs like Soon and Very Soon and I Can Only Imagine that celebrate the certainty of an afterlife. Christians know that one day they will see this Jesus, who died not only for their sins, but also for the sins of everyone. No one needs to hold onto a fear of death because Jesus is alive.
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  Romans 5:1 NLT

This post is dedicated to the family and friends of the 150 people who died tragically in the Germanwings airliner crash (March, 2015), the Christians who were massacred at the Kenyan School in Kenya (April, 2015), and every innocent civilian and bystander mercilessly killed by Isis terrorists.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Persecuted Christians winning the battle against their haters

Getty Photos
Jesus said it, so that settles it. Indeed, the Bible predicts that Christians will be persecuted for their faith. Since the time of Christ, followers of Jesus have been killed or threatened with death by anti-Christian extremist groups. And that has not changed. Recent efforts by Islamic extremists, ISIS, Boko Haram and others, to eradicate Christians from places like Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Nigeria will fail like all the attempts before them. 

There are about 50 countries on Open Doors USA's World Watch List  that actively persecute Christians. Sadly, the United States government, once a staunch defender of religious freedom around the world, now sits silently by and does little to help stem the tide of religious persecution against Christians. Some suggest that this country's inaction may be fanning the flames of religious persecution abroad.

Whatever the reason, the result is that Christians are suffering and dying for their faith. Even so, Christians believe that in the end, they will win. Bible prophesy is on their side. All Christians should find strength and courage in this at a time in history when things are likely to get worse before they get better. Jesus forewarned his followers:
They’ll arrest you, hunt you down, and drag you to court and jail. It will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You’ll end up on the witness stand, called to testify. Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. I’ll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters.
You’ll even be turned in by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. Some of you will be killed. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me. Even so, every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.  Luke 21:12-19 MSG
Look around, it's happening right now. And although the scenes played out in the media are gruesome and sad to see, Christians should take courage from the greater good your sacrifice will eventually bring about. Meanwhile, every Christian should protest and continue to pray for those persecuted Christians, as well as, for those who are persecuting them. After all, this is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions ---the fact that we are commanded to love our enemies. Good Christians pray for those who persecute them, just as Jesus did for those who crucified him.

Peaceful protests and prayer vigils have been staged by Christian groups in many countries around the world, including Canada, United States, Great Britain, Italy and Australia to name a few. While Christians are not silent on the issue, some Church leaders have been.
Many Christians know the stories about the early Christian martyrs being thrown to the lions in the Roman Coliseum, but today over 100,000 Christians are murdered every year for their faith, and pulpits are strangely silent. This silence, stemming from lack of awareness, or fear of criticism and reprisal, is the very intimidation that the enemies of Christ seek to impose. God has not given His Church a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 
In a letter sent to some 300 Catholic and Protestant church leaders, U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) wrote:
Every day around the world, men and women of faith are imprisoned, beaten, detained, tortured and even killed. . . . Have we in the West ceased to be salt and light? . . . Has our comfort led to complacency?  Can the church in the West be galvanized to act?
And act we must. Christians in the U.S. and other industrialized nations must not only wield their spiritual power, but also their economic power to  put pressure directly or indirectly on those governments that persecute Christians. A well publicized and coordinated boycott by Christians can make a difference. When Christians stop buying goods produced in countries that persecute Christians, the economies of these countries will suffer. Either way, persecuted Christians have nothing to fear. In the end, we win. 
I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The new sexual revolution and what it's doing to our teens

Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
If you believe what you see on television and in the movies, sex is the only thing that seems to matter these days. No wonder so many adults and teenagers are obsessed with it. They may not all be having sex, but they're thinking about it. Sex is implied almost everywhere you look nowadays. OMG, now it's even spread to "The Cloud," so says the new movie, Sex Tape. This not a review of that movie. Rather, it's about what our obsession with sex is doing to our kids, and to society, in general.

There are no boundaries anymore. Forget about what used to go on behind closed doors, sex is out in the open. Parents who are afraid to talk about sex at home, can rest easy. If your kids aren't hearing it from you, they can get it from "the streets." Like everything else that was considered topically "taboo" outside the home, sex has lost it's virginity and become fair game for anyone to exploit. And herein lies the problem. In relationships, sex has become the goal, rather than a destination along the ultimate path toward intimacy and love.

Sex isn't a substitute for real intimacy or love. Some people have sex hoping it will satisfy their need for a love connection, only to wake up the next morning feeling cheated, unfulfilled and confused. Dr. Henry Brandt explains why:
This syndrome is what I call the morning-after syndrome. We wake up and find that intimacy is not really there. The sexual relationship does not satisfy us anymore, and what we end up with is not what we really wanted in the first place. All you have is two self-centered people seeking self-satisfaction. The elements of genuine love and intimacy cannot be obtained "instantly," and you find yourself in an unbalanced state, searching for harmony.
Picture a little hummingbird fluttering from flower-to-flower searching for the sweet nectar that sustains it. Likewise, there are people who view sex in the same way. To them, it's not about intimacy or love, it's about the conquest --- to have as many sexual encounters as humanly possible without a commitment or a deeper relationship with one person. Hummingbirds die when they can't find nectar; human beings are less healthy when they lack love and intimacy. When two people have intimacy and love in their relationship, there are significant benefits.

Photo by Avery White
Photo by Avery White
Love lessons start in the home. At an early age, children need to see and experience love in action from their parents. They need to be taught the difference between sex and love so that they will recognize the one from the other later in life. They need to understand that their sexuality is God's gift to be reserved for marriage. It matters little that these views of intimacy and love are considered out of date compared with more modern views like Hollywood's scripted "one night stands and instant hook-ups."

There's clear evidence that following after Hollywood has eroded the very moral fabric of our society; and eaten away at any hope we have of raising a generation that knows what genuine intimacy and real love are all about. Real intimacy, love's natural outgrowth, between two people needs time to develop. It just doesn't happen overnight. From his article, "Sex and the Search for Intimacy, " Dick Purnell writes:
On campuses all across America I see men and women searching for intimacy, going from one relationship to another hoping, 'This time will be it. This time I am going to find a relationship that will last.'
I believe that what we really want is not sex. What we really want is intimacy. Today, the word intimacy has taken on sexual connotations. But it is much more than that.  It includes all the different dimensions of our lives -- yes, the physical, but also the social, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects as well. Intimacy really means total life sharing. And haven't we all had the desire at one time or another for closeness, for oneness, for sharing our life with someone totally?
Less we forget, this is what God intended for us from the beginning ---oneness with Him and oneness with our chosen life partner  in an intimate and loving union. Most of society's ills ---poverty, drugs, crime, juvenile delinquency, school dropout rate, anti-social behavior, sexual promiscuity, and moral depravity --- can be traced to society's rejection of God's plan for us.
Throughout the Bible, God's attitude toward sex is very clear. God has reserved sex for marriage and marriage only. Not because He wants to make us miserable, but because He wants to protect our hearts. He wants to build a security base for us, so that when we enter into a marriage, its intimacy can be based upon the security of God's love and wisdom. -- Dick Purnell
God showed us what love looks like by doing the most intimate thing a person could do for another. Surely, we can trust him to meet our need for love and intimacy?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Are Christians responsible for a rise in atheism

"Believers can have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion" --- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2125

Recently, I had a conversation with a person who considers himself an atheist. He was telling me about a bad experience he'd had with a relative who considers herself a Christian. The encounter left him so shaken that he said to me: "If this is what Christians are like, then I want no part of them." While his may be an unfair generalization, it is undeniably true that the bad behavior of some Christians is damaging to the faith. Christians could learn a lot by listening to what atheists have to say about them.
Many nonbelievers are wrongly judging our God by our actions, words, and deeds – and when they see some Christians behaving very badly in their marriages, in their work places, and in their social environments, they will shy away from checking what our faith is really all about. --Michael Bradley, Bible
Badly behaving Christians often steal the spotlight from the majority of Christians who are true to the faith and diligently follow Christ's example. Unfortunately, perception is often more important than reality to the extent that the actions of a few can have a direct bearing on how Christians are perceived, positively or negatively; and by association, how God is perceived. It only takes being hurt one time by a badly behaving Christian to turn a person away from religion. No doubt some atheists have been hurt by Christians; and so have some Christians who became atheists because of church hurt.
Christians need to start behaving better.  There’s so much misinformation about Christians from non-believers in the media, entertainment industry, etc, that we’ll never be able to combat it.  But we can STOP feeding their perceptions with some of our ugly behavior.  If we truly want to impact the culture for Christ than we need to start acting like disciples and stop acting like Pharisees.  We need to point people – through our word and deeds – to a risen Savior --Author Bill Renje
On his blog, What do Atheists think of Christians, Renje posed this question to atheists: "If Christians would listen, what would you say to them?" Typical among the responses from atheists were that Christians...
  • are hypocritical
  • are judgmental
  • are narrow-minded
  • have been brainwashed into believing something that makes
    them intolerant and hateful
  • have not read the Bible
  • think that moral behavior is impossible without
    belief in God
  • hold modern beliefs which aren’t Christ-like
  • tell others how to live their lives
  • limit their understanding of the whole
    wide universe to the Bible
  • think that atheists are ignorant, angry or abused
  • fear atheists
Without admitting that I know any Christians who are like this, it goes without saying that if even one of these characterizations is true of anyone who calls himself a Christian that person is a detriment to the faith and the cause of Christ. Instead of becoming defensive, Renje suggests Christians do some soul searching. Ask yourself, "Am I like this? And if so, "What needs to change in the way I treat people to repair this perception?"

As Christians, we must examine ourselves  daily to make sure our walk fits our talk. We can't go around professing to love Jesus and, at the same time, mistreat other people because they don't believe as we do. That's what hypocrites do. It gives atheists another reason to point the finger at us. I'm not saying that they're right, but it's what people in this society tend to do ---that is, ascribe the behavior of one or a few individuals to an entire group. It cuts both ways. Perhaps, I should add "prejudiced" to the list of complaints against Christians?

Naturally, I'm exaggerating a bit but here's my point --- if you're a Christian who is giving a bad name to the faith, clean up your act or face eternal consequences down the road. Finally, Christian, be true to who you are. You were called to be a follower and an imitator of Christ. Mind how you represent Him. Christ gave us the greatest gift known to man --- love. That's what the world needs to see in us, even if they don't yet believe in Him.