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But I don’t feel privileged !!

I’m pushing a noisy old lawnmower around my backyard trying to avoid dog poo and sweating like a pig when the thought occurred to me – “I don’t feel privileged!”

Nearly two weeks after the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police there have been protests nationwide calling for reform. Reforms in the way the police department interact with people of color. Reforms in centuries old racism. Reforms in how we see ourselves and others.

White Silence! Silence is violence! White privilege!

These terms have been in the news as the nationwide mourning of George Floyd continues. Just to be clear I am referring to the peaceful protest that have swept the nation and even the globe. I am not referring to the opportunistic thugs that have looted, burned and assaulted our cities.

These terms which have been part of the discussion will have one of two effects among the white community. One reaction, sadly my first reaction, was to dismiss this as rhetorical and not at all relevant to me or anyone I know. This knee-jerk reaction, I have come to see, is an insult to a community different from mine and serves as a barrier to both any real conversation and lasting change. The other reaction to these terms and others like them used recently is self-evaluation. This is the reaction which hit me as I mowed my lawn yesterday.

But I don’t feel privileged !

I continued pushing that mower as I took a quick look over my life. Especially the early years. Born into a large family which struggled to survive at or just above the poverty line only to later be shattered by alcoholism and domestic violence we weren’t the typical white American family. Raised by elderly grandparents whose passing left me emancipated way too soon. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol as I made my way into adulthood I grew up angry and without any real direction.

Where in those years did I benefit from being a privileged white boy?

Later, as I grew, I enrolled in and dropped out of college, wandered from one construction job to another, in and out of relationships. The aimless wandering continued for years. Eventually I met someone, dated, married, looked into buying a home, etc. Still not feeling privileged my historical search continued.

Then it hit me! How can I know what I don’t know?

What I mean by that is how can I know what awful incidents that I have not suffered because I am white. I have been pulled over by police and sometimes been let go with a warning and others times received a ticket but nothing else. I have never been refused service or turned away because of my skin color. I have been hired for jobs that I applied for but never, until yesterday, considered if I would have been hired were I black.

Throughout all of my 60 plus years I was unaware of what difficulties I had not experienced simply by being white. In looking back I can see how my life got better over time because of the help I found along the way. I can easily say that had it not been for certain individuals at different times in my life I would not be where I am today. I have no way of knowing for certain but I do suspect that these opportunities may not have been made available to a person of color.

If this means that I am a privileged white man I can only say that I never asked for it.

I have never had a problem with color. I know many white people say that but I don’t. I’m more likely to judge you by your behavior, character or cleanliness but not color. Yes, I said I judge. We all do. Let’s not pretend we don’t. My sociology professor gave the class an amazing statistic years ago. He said that 90% of who we are is based on outward influences (the people and world around us as we grow) and that 10% is from our own personality within us. Nature versus Nurture may be a never-ending debate but for me I side with my professor. Racism is genetic. You get it from your parents.

I can’t say how or when we as a people will bring racism to an end but I do know what will not help to bring about change. The violence and retaliation we have seen these past two weeks will not bring about change. I know people are hurt, angry, fed up and frustrated but burning buildings and beating each other up will not work.

We have a heart problem! A type of heart disease that has only one cure!

Jesus!

Jesus is the answer to any and all of our problems.

Until a person gives their life and heart over to Jesus they will be unable to love, accept or understand how another person feels. In our own limited ability we will only thrash about in this pool we call life and never safely reach the shore. Bigotry, hatred, envy, racism, superiority, privilege are not from God. He Loves everyone equally and so should we.

This is my only thought. My only hope for the people around me in my community and for the nation or world wide. I apparently am a privileged white man even if I am stepping in dog poo as I push this mower around my yard. I didn’t ask for preferential treatment. I won’t apologize for it either because it is not what I wanted. What I will do is all that I can do – stand up for what is right. Speak out against hatred and bigotry. Pray for peace and an end to the inequality that has plagued our nation for far too long. I ask anyone and everyone who reads these words to do the same.

Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock got pulled over and it was very insightful. God has a way of getting His point across. In scripture when we see the same thing repeated several times it is God’s way of emphasizing that point. Last night after my revelation while mowing the lawn I watched an episode of Comedians in cars getting coffee. Near the end of the show Jerry Seinfeld is driving very fast in a sports car with his guest Chris Rock beside him. They get pulled over and Jerry thinks it’s the funniest thing considering he is filming a show but Chris Rock is nervous. Chris expresses his nervousness by instructing jerry on what he should do and says that his first thought is “where’s my license, even?” The situation exemplifies the difference between us. One man, white, and laughing at the situation and the other, black, and obviously worried about the possible outcome. It left me feeling sad.

It’s Time For Change!!

Seriously people it is time for things to change!

Is this really how you want to memorialize the tragic death of George Floyd? As of this morning (Sunday May 31, 2020) there are reportedly 111 major cities that have experienced riots, looting and firebombing. No I did not say protesting! I said rioting, looting and firebombing. People block the street and throw rocks at a police car so the driver plows through the group of people blocking his path. Two wrongs never equal one right. People are frustrated and angry. In their anger they loot and burn down businesses which are owned by minorities who have spent a lifetime building that business. Seriously people!!

Mr. George Floyd was needlessly killed while in handcuffs during a routine police call in Minneapolis for allegedly passing a bogus $20. He was unarmed and in police custody when several arresting officers held him down. One officer had Floyd pinned at the neck and ignored please that he could not breath. Officer Derek Chavin has since then been arrested and the other officers involved have been fired. There may be further charges filed against the officers as the investigation continues.

Injustice, racial tensions, bigotry, hypocrisy, profiling, and other instances of mans’ inhumanity to man have been and will likely be a part of our world as long as we walk this earth. That does not mean there can not be a change. But change can only come when someone is willing to act rather than react!

This world is seeing an unprecedented event because of the cover-19 pandemic. People have died. Resources are strained. Stress levels are high and patience is wearing thin everywhere. The straw that broke the camels back during this time is yet another senseless murder of a black man. Black Lives Matter is an organization whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities. BLM seeks to use resources already in place to speak out, stand up and shine a light on the racial imbalances that occurs far too often. This is one of the paths to change. The path to change can not be found in the ashes of burnt out buildings.

The rallying cry of “No Justice No Peace” isn’t a call for change but rather a threat of violence. Holding an entire city hostage to destruction in order to bring about a desired result is nothing short of kidnapping and terrorism. Likewise walking out of a looted Walmart with a shopping cart full of items will not bring about change. If anything it will fuel the fire of unrest as it exemplifies the mob mentality of opportunistic thugs.

Confusion, disillusion, fear and hopelessness are the cordwood foundations to this fire. The deluded “right” who feel they need to treat other people with disregard and disdain are just as wrong as those who set fire to a police car. Fear and hopelessness that exists in communities of color is a type of heart diseases. When a person has nothing to loose they can do anything. Being backed into a corner by the confusion and despair of poverty, inequality and violence will make a person lash out without restraint.

I recall the Rodney King riots in Los Angles in 1992. Rodney King led police on a high speed chase. When they eventually caught up to him they arrested the other two occupants of the vehicle and proceeded to brutally beat, tase, stomp on and kick Mr. King. In spite of a video tape of the event the officers were acquitted. What followed was days of rioting and unrest that left 63 people dead and 2,383 injured, 12,000 arrested and $1 Billion in property damage. What I recall most (other then the sight of the beating of Mr. King) was the beating of the truck driver (Reginald Denny) who was dragged from his cab at a stop light and beaten by and angry mob. Both of these events are seared into my mind and I feel both are equally horrific and senseless.

Los Angeles 1992.

Minneapolis 2020!

Where next?

Miami? Philadelphia? New York?

Your Town? Your Neighborhood?

When and where will it stop?

Mr. Rodney King asked the question – “Can’t we all just get along?” The resounding answer over these years has been a loud “NO!” apparently. But we must get along. Change must come.

Change Must Come. Change Can Come. Change will come when we look at ourselves in the mirror and look at others through the eyes of God. Jesus told us that we should love God with all our heart and LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS as we love ourselves.

LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS AS WE LOVE OURSELVES!

There is the key. I believe that many biases and bigotry and violence begins with of the the insecurity of the heart. Whether that insecurity leads to egotistical overcompensation and bullying or if it leads to violent anger against authority and property under the cover of darkness within a mob. It’s a matter of the heart.

Jesus said that it is what comes out of the heart that defiles a man. So we need to guard our hearts against hatred, bigotry, anger that leads to violence. We are told that out the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks so listen to your words and see what is in your heart. If your words are filled with hatred then your heart needs change. That is the only way that lasting change can and will come.

And Change must come.

“Well, are you ready?”

   The silence of the bedroom was suddenly broken as he started coughing violently. Throwing back the covers he jumped to his feet and headed out of the room down the hall and into the living room. Both he and his wife had been sick for days now but she was on the mend and he didn’t want to disturb her sleep. By the time he reached the living room the spasms of coughs subsided but his head hurt and his eyes were burning. A growing pressure in the center of his chest made taking a deep breath impossible. It concerned him that this constriction might not be related to the bronchitis that he was diagnosed with yesterday.

   With head in hands he sat on the edge of the couch and prayed for relief as his mind raced. The pain in his chest was growing and expanding in all directions increasing his concern and causing him to fear the next spasm of coughs. “Dear God, what is going on?”He prayed,” Could this be it? I am nearly 60 and Dad didn’t even live to this age. My heart was supposed to be in good shape. Regular visits to the cardiologist and exercise were meant to thwart off any heart problems – right? Maybe this is it in spite of all my efforts!”
Although the living room lights were off there were a few beams of brightness that irritated his aching eyes. The glow of charging devices and the light from his neighbors back yard acted like tiny needles.  Unplugging the devices and drawing the blinds removed the brightness of those little offenders. But, as a car drove past the house it activated the motion-detector porch light which shone threw the front door like a floodlight into the living room. Blindly stumbling over to the door he flipped off the switch for the porch light and glanced out the window. His eyes, offended by the incident, squinted out to see a shadowy figure at the end of the walk in the driveway. Looking again, after his eyes adjusted, there clearly wasn’t anything there. Shrugging it off he headed back to the couch still praying that his chest pain would subside.
But now, inside the darkened living room, seemed to be that same tall slender figure he saw in the driveway, right there in front of him. He stood breathless and in pain staring at the form thinking to himself that he either had died or was about to die. Before he could speak he heard an inaudible voice ask him “Well, are you ready?” and then it was gone.

   Nothing about his circumstances changed after that brief encounter. He could barely take a full breath. His chest was still suffering from a growing sharp pain/pressure and his eyes were burning so badly that they helped him to dismiss what he thought he saw. His burning eyes had to be due to a high fever and that too would explain the delusion.
He returned to the couch only this time he prayed with a new found purpose. Was he ready? Well, if he wasn’t he would be. He fell asleep there, on the couch, praying to Jesus, without realizing that the pain went away and the coughing stopped.

    The next thing he knew she was waking him up and asking him if he was alright? “Yes”, he said. “Yes, I am okay. Now.”

Money Money Money $$$

Now that I have your attention!

       I read something today on a blog that got me thinking. It was a post, or rather an ad on a post, for a “Biblical system” to amass wealth and retire early. Hmmm…sounds interesting.

Money and religion have always made a controversial combination. Some equate poverty with Godliness referring to the humble birth and life of Jesus. Others use the commonly misquoted verse that money is the root of all evil as a way of accepting their lot in life while judging those more fortunate. In actuality the quote is found in 1Tim 6:10 – For the love of money is the root of all evil; and while some have coveted after it, they have erred from the faith. Yet it is true that Jesus overturned the table on the money changers in the temple it wasn’t just because of the money. But that’s a discussion for another time. Still others have taken the approach that wealth is our right as Children of the King and that God is just waiting to shower money down on us if we just exercise our faith and claim it. The pendulum swings too far both ways unfortunately and the truth is often found after it comes to rest.

Funny Money

There are many things said about money in both the old and the new testaments. Time does not allow me to list them all but I would like to share enough on the subject to kindle a fire in you to search the Word and find the truth for yourselves. God has no problem with a person being wealthy. From the beginning He gave great wealth graciously. To  Adam and Eve he gave dominion over the Garden and everything in it. To Noah He gave salvation from His judgement and the new world after the flood. To Abraham He gave the new land and the promise of children innumerable.

Moses records in Deuteronomy 8:18  “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Wait! What? Did I read that right? Yes, you did. God gives us the power to get wealth and He does to confirm that we are His!
To Solomon, God gave treasures untold ( the Bible records that Solomon was and is and always will be the richest man in the world – move over Bill Gates!) 2 Chron 1:11-12 Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.” But, did you see the reason why? yes, Solomon was given all that wealth because he didn’t ask for it. God saw that his heart was more concerned with the responsibility of governing Gads people rather then personal gain. So, clearly God has no problem with a person being wealthy. It the why and what of it that concerns Him. Why do you want wealth? What will you do with it when you get it. For that matter what do you do with the money you have now?

The Word of God expresses God’s hatred of unequal scales (unfair trading), excessive usury (excessive interest rates on loans), and the covetousness of being dissatisfied with what you have now while wanting more money, cars, and stuff like that guy over there! I could go on and on but will bring this to a close by reminding us of the woman with two mites. She gave to God all that she had and she drew Jesus’ attention more then those who gave a small portion of their great wealth. So, it’s not the MONEY that concerns God, after all, its all His anyway its just passing threw our hands today. More importantly it’s how we feel about it (Jesus said you can not serve two masters [both God and money] because you will love one and hate the other). It’s what we do to gain the wealth – lie, cheat, steal, rob God and our families of our time with them, etc. It’s what we do with it once we have it. Do we give back to the church so that the ministry can continue and expand? Do we give to the poor and widows? Do we save for our children? If we do not consider the thoughts and intent of our hearts concerning money we will only deceive ourselves into thinking that we are in control of our finances.

Did you know that the only time God actually tells us to test Him is in the area of Money and giving? Read it for yourself – Malachi 3:10  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Looks like a challenge to me. What’s the matter – you chicken?!?!?

Happy New Year

Hey we’re back! Did you miss us?urban-sunburst.jpg
Well, Dell stood by their product and sent out a new (refurbished) PC after several failed attempts to get the nearly 3 year old back up and running. Once all the old info is placed into the knew system and I become better acquainted with Windows 8, I can get back to the business of sharing with all of you. It is my hope that as we go forward with this blog, that others will join the conversation. I have asked some of my respected friends to contribute their thoughts and welcome all comments from any and all of you out there. Until then, our hopes and prayers go out to you all for a good new year in the Lord. Let 2014 be your best year yet!!

What Child is this?

      What Child is this? What Child indeed. A child, born into humble circumstances yet the Creator of all. Born a fragile baby destined to conquer the grave. One Child born to die that many may live. 

        Tonight, as many people celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I am reminded of so many Christmas Eves and Christmas Days gone by, each one different yet one thing remains constant – Jesus Christ was born to die that we might live. What Love. What sacrifice. What a Divine plan to save a world lost. 

       Simply put, we celebrate the birth of a Baby with all the fanfare He deserves. Let remember that it is this Child Who will freely give His life so that we do not have to die. 

        FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE – John 3:16

       What Child is this? He is the giver of the best Christmas present anyone could ever receive – Eternal Life

     Merry Christmas to all!