Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Change, current events, History, Justice, Patriotism, Politics, Taking Responsibility, Uncategorized, Working together

Forever chasing nothing

As a nation, we pride ourselves as being an advanced culture with highly intelligent people and as having the best of everything — pound for pound — the world has to offer. Sadly, I struggle to find anything we do as signficant to mankind.

Now this is not a bash America blog! I used to say I love America but like many I could not tell you why. It was my only frame of reference so I loved what I knew. I assumed that people in government were looking out for the little man — looking out as defined as making laws and provisions for the little man to grow and develop into something more, not throw him a bone and keep him dumb.

There was a study done in the 90s with 21k people across 7 nations to test there literacy. The study covered more than 30 tasks over a 45 minute span. The test takers were between the ages of 16 to 25 and the specific items on the test dealt with reading comprehension, following directions, reading maps, completing job applications etc. — things you would need to function and thrive in every day life. The results were astonishing (see table below). There were level grades from 1 to 5 where a 4 or 5 was pretty high functioning and of course a 1 was struggling. Sweden’s population of that age group were the brightest with more than 40 percent functioning at the highest levels. Only 18 percent of Americans at that age range preformed as well as the Swedes.

What does that mean you ask? Well other than the obvious, it seems that the study has also proven that higher functioning was related to higher wages. When France talks about job creation and the US talks about it, those are two totally different conversations. France is only talking about a living wage where you can take care of a family with a modest living. In the US, we say a job is a job — better than not having one.

Today we are in a literacy crisis. No one should be surprised about this but I don’t think we understand the effects.

 

  • More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or complete basic math above a third-grade level. —  Proliteracy
  • Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. — National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
  • 75 percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. — Rand Report: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education
  • Low literacy is said to be connected to over $230 billion a year in health care costs because almost half of Americans cannot read well enough to comprehend health information, incurring higher costs. — American Journal of Public Health

Our problem: Politics. We constantly elect people who can not relate to the problems of the average American and they could care less about those problems. It doesn’t even matter what political party you belong to — both parties have failed the little man.

It seems that we have disfellowshipped the word demand because we don’t demand anything — nothing of ourselves and nothing from those who rule the world. So we sit and take it — you live your life paycheck to paycheck and die in a sea of debt. In our country they tell you that you have the right to pursue happiness, they just forgot to tell you it was nearly impossible to catch.

Posted in Accountability, Change, Death, Determination, Fear, Free Will, freedom, friend, Generosity, Giving, Happiness, Health, helping, History, judgment, Life, Progress, Relationships, Self, Sharing, significance, society, Success, Time, Truth

We were robbed!

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Happy New Year!

This is the time for reflection and change in our lives and hopefully life’s lessons have taught us well enough that we are heeding the call and understanding what we must do to be better. By heeding the call I mean you are actually listening to your inner reflections on your past and adjusting accordingly.

It seems that for some of us our inner voice is “spot on” with reality and helps us out greatly in our decision making. Then there are others who’s inner voice is wounded and we need a little help to make sure what is said is correct and not detrimental to us.

This is all important because we live among thieves. Thieves are all over the place and we all have a little thievery in us. We all don’t loot or rob people at gunpoint, but what I mean is we steal another persons time, energy and space. We rob people of their joy and happiness and we steal ideas and concepts, friends and lovers and items of clothing like there is no tomorrow. It’s hard to be angry with someone when at some level you are doing the same thing. However, as we mature our thievery should subside. We should not be as taxing on our friends and families and we should be more giving with our own resources.

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So when you evaluate the people in your life, this tends to be a common denominator when deciding who should stay and who should go. As we get older it becomes more difficult to deal with theft. So we excomunicate them from our lives.

To help you with this task of elimination, I submit four categories of thieves. The first is called commensalism and these are the thieves that are like suckerfish who ride along with the shark to grab his leftovers. These fish do not bother the Shark, but they exist and thrive because of the shark. These would be your family, particularly your kids (17 and under) and older parents. There is such an obligation to help this bunch that this really becomes a labor of love. In addtion, you may have brothers or sisters in Christ who you have helped them get out of foolishness in the past and since they continue to get better, you continue to help them progress in anyway you can. This group will burn a lot of your energy but the results are priceless.

The next group is parasitism and these are the folks are flat out selfish. Family is not excluded from this category. These folks do almost everything at your expense. It is their consistent selfish behavior that makes them so toxic that you have to decide how much more you can take. With this group, over 90 percent is them taking from you. It is even possible for you to be in denial of this and allow them to continue.

The next group I refer to as spitefulism. I may have invented this word but the meaning is real. This is when two people are together and their brain’s pleasure center allows them to be so taxing on eachother that both are suffering from the interaction. I have seen these couples in counseling. They have come to me and neither party wants to give up anything. This proves that some people should have never hooked up. How do you stay in a relationship where both people are miserable and neither wants to get help. This behavior leds to eventual self-distruction.

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The final group is mutualism and this is exactly what it sounds like: Both parties benefit from eachother. In this relation you don’t mind giving so that there is no thievery. This can be with a spouse, sibling or friend.

So now you have been blessed to see another year. The longer we live, the better life should get. If life is not getting better, this is the first indicator that something is wrong. Choose this day who will be in your life. Part of our free will is having the choice to chose our circles. Choose wisely my friend. Because although there is not a precise measure of your stress to life ratio, what is certain is that stress is killing you. Not only is stress killing you, but there are already people plotting for your stuff.

Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Change, Discipleship, Free Will, Giving, Guarantor, History, Jesus Christ, Life, Love, Mind Power, Relationships, Religion, society, Truth

The Culture of Christ

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I recently attended a symposium and a question came up about culture to which some answered that the “scriptures transcend culture” and that when it comes to Christ “there is no culture.”

Many arguments were made using scripture and culture was not taken into consideration. Imagine something as important as culture being taken out of the interpretation of scriptures…say it ain’t so.

For the culturally challenged I offer this discord: Jesus gave a great commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We would never be effective or even clear in our learning if we attempt to disect cultural understanding from scripture.

Culture is simply defined as the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively. There is a pop culture in America that is demonstrated collectively in music, fashion, food and arts. We have culture in religion as the Nation of Islam has several distinctive characteristics that have become their culture.

In the Lord’s church there are many things that have become the cultural norm for the body. These, like other elements of culture, have been intellectual achievements by the masses.

Christ dictates the culture of his people. He said that love would be a definitive way that people will know his people. Unconditional love is an intellectual achievement regarded collectively. We learned the principle of love from the love that God showed toward us. We understand this love and we immulate it to eachother. Forgiveness is another cultural item that defines God’s people. The world has their own reasons for forgiveness and God’s people only have one: We forgive because we are forgiven.

Serving one another, peace keeping, what we eat, how we treat our bodies, or collective feelings about salvation and sin are all the collective achievements as exercised by our intellectual capacity to understand.

I thank God for the culture of the church. Because of it I feel so comfortable with the collective true brotherhood who elevate Christ more than mankind.

I am thankful of the many brothers and sisters in Christ I have who have loved me unconditional, even when I made it difficult to do. I am grateful for all the mature members of the church who treated me like a grandchild and corrected me in love when I was wrong. I am indebted to the teachers of the word who have instructed me in righteousness and taught me the very doctrine of Christ I stand on today.

Culture is where doctrine and application harmonize for the world to see and for God to be glorified.

Comments are welcomed!

Posted in Accountability, Bigotry, Change, Death, Fear, guilt, History, judgment, Justice, Politics, Racism, Religion, Religious Freedom, Self, slave, Truth, Worship

Our hypocrisy

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I struggle with the evils of this world. But I’m struggling more with the hypocrisy of America.

Only in America does it matter how you were killed and the circumstances around your death play a factor in who even gets involved.

Yesterday’s shooting was a huge tragedy and I can relate in so many ways. I can relate as a member and as a pastor. I have thought about what I would have done as the pastor. I attempt to change shoes with the deceased. I’m thankful that no one ran background checks on the victims or attempted to somehow blame them for what happen.

Think I’m crazy? Is this going too far?!?

I watched the press conference at noon today and heard how many government agencies came together to assist in this tragedy. I watched as Charleston’s Mayor, police chief and the Governor of the state got choked up over what happened. They spoke of bringing everyone together to heal.

Then I thought about Walter “Lamar” Scott who was gunned down by a police officer in the same city. Someone please tell me what is the difference in these two incidents?

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Are we to believe that it matters who pulls the trigger? In each shooting, those who died won’t come home. Are my feelings supposed to understand the difference?

I can relate to Mr. Scott as a Black man who has been pulled over by police. I share his same fear whether or not I will survive the encounter. I have to consider if I have fostered enough respect, credentials and support in my life to withstand the criticism left for my family to hear. The criticism that argues what I may have done wrong to justify my murder or how it could somehow be my fault that I was gunned down.

There were lots of prayer vigils tonight and not nearly the amount for Mr. Scott. I’m  saddened that this is our reality. My heart goes out to ALL who have suffered loss. I repent for my part in the hypocrisy and I pray that God heals our land.

Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Change, Confidence, Determination, Free Will, freedom, History, judgment, Life, Opinions, Perseverance, Progress, Self, slave, Truth, Willpower

Life was meant to be led

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So God gave us all one life and that was for the purpose of us growing and developing into a state where we would function in our right minds, and make decisions for our well being.

There are so many things in this world to get us off this task. This world is all about influence and control. We fight each day to keep our righteous minds.

Look at your life and the forces around you. Your home life, your job, your friends, the products you buy, the services that you use, everywhere you turn someone is trying to get you to do something. Buy this thing, support that cause, help him out — there is no end.

From the time you wake up and even in your sleep, life is getting away from you. The status quo says eat, drink, buy, spend, take, push, struggle, force, aggression, die trying and too late. These words belong to the world and they are used far too often.

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So you my friend must take control. We don’t often consider it but for many the word sale means you need to buy. Did you need the item? It doesn’t matter because it’s on sale.

For some, hearing the words happy hour means it’s time to drink. Why, are you thirsty? No, it’s happy hour.

Look at the control these simple words have on us. Our words have the same effect as controlled substances — and we are hooked.

So how is this fixed? We must take control of our own lives. Life was meant to be led. You have to get out in front of yours and lead it. Guide it. Control it. Treat it as precious as it is. Critical thinking is paramount to your success.

In the words of the late great rapper Heavy D, “In this life I strive for improvement. Be your own guide, follow your own movement.”

Make no mistake: this isn’t about surviving, it’s all about flourishing.

Posted in Accountability, Change, Discipleship, Faith, freedom, God, Happiness, History, Jesus Christ, Life, Love, Obey, Relationships, Religious Freedom, Sharing, significance, society, Taking Responsibility, Worship

Why do you worship God?

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Worshipping is woven into the fabric of our very being. Without instruction we will worship anything. Some are worshipping people, animals and things.

It’s not hard to understand exactly why we were given the intellect and the ability to worship. Worship is paying homage to a worthy object of affection. It is an expression of the gratitude we feel for that object based on our understanding.

God, then, would be worshipped because of what we understand about him. Our father’s grace, mercy, longsuffering, love, faithfulness and forgiveness are just a few things in a long list of attributes that should stimulate our desire to show our gratitude and worship him.

True worship, then, would be worshipping God in spirit (that’s your spirit) and in truth (the revealed understanding of who he is). I can attempt to worship God in my flesh. This is when I respond to God based on my senses. So if it stimulates me, I will use it to worship him. Worship before Christ was done this way. There were things to touch, taste, smell, hear and see in worship. The burnt offerings, use of incense and the shewbread were all a part of the ceremonial worship. I can also attempt to worship him mentally which would be based on my own understanding — it will appear zealous, but not according to knowledge. I can attempt to worship him based on my emotions. The philosophy is that it makes me feel good so it should make God feel good.
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Today, God calls us to a much higher worship. One that requires the use of my intellect and understanding of who he is. It requires the submission of the heart of the person worshipping and the sole use of things God created and nothing we created with our own hands.

God now wants the sacrifice of praise, which the bible defines as the fruit of our lips praising him. Christ left us a feast to participate in and unconditional love is to be shared throughout. God wants us to have a consuming worship that pays homage to him and stimulates his love between us. It is also the start of a week that should be filled with the true worshippers offering themselves as a living sacrifice for him all week until we are united again together on the first day of the week. We are the lively stones that come together to form a spiritual house where he joins us.

Simple, natural and authorized. God should dictate how you worship if your worship is about honoring him. The father is seeking such to worship him — now what about your worship?

Posted in Giving, History, Life, Relationships, Sharing, society, Uncategorized

A Real Thanksgiving

We need a national week of appreciation!

It seems that with all the different things going on in our lives, we miss some opportunities to tell those who matter the most, how much we appreciate them.

It’s easy to forget. But there are just too many unsung heroes who make the intangibles happen every day.

And these folks do it without throwing it up in our faces or broadcasting it to the world. These folks really make us look good. They help us to fake being organized; appear to be really thoughtful instead of forgetful; they say things we either forgot or wouldn’t say, but we should have said; and they keep use sharp and on top of our game.

The very best thing about these folks is that they see us at our worst and still help us. These folks are clearly in our corner and need to be recognized.

So I deem the week of November 24th as National Appreciation and Thanksgiving week. On this week instead of celebrating a very horrible time in America’s past when many Native Americans were massacred, let’s appreciate the folks in our corner and thank the almighty God for putting them in our lives.