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A Path with Lights

A Path with Lights

I needed a path with lights!  Spiraling out of control was easy.  The illuminated road toward destruction grew dark quickly.  Finding the pathway back was arduous.  It would take years.

Having the best of friends, I thought my solace would come from them.  Perhaps, like me, you met a great friend at a summer camp and eventually they ended up being a roommate in college.  Another longtime friend was the first person I was introduced to when arriving at a boarding academy.  At any time and in any situation, I could pick up the phone and enjoy uplifting conversation. Well, perhaps not.  The condemning emptiness was always present.  “Alone in a crowded room” is the best phrase to describe my existence.

Those Times

There were those times.  Times when I could not explain what the need was.  I just needed.  Was I the only one in the world?  How could it be that I had no one who would understand? Could it be?  No!  It couldn’t be.  There was always that one friend.  He loved me so.  He even loved me during those times I did not acknowledge His love.  I spoke to Him in my inner soul.  He answered, “I am here, and will always be.”

A Path with Lights

Living in this world, so many are in distress.  Utterly alone.  I was not, in verity, in that state.  My constant companion had kept His word, “I am here, and will always be.”  Turning to my friends had its place; this friend, He went beyond and above.  I must open up about Him.  Consider this thought:

“Sometimes we pour our troubles into human ears, and tell our afflictions to those who cannot help us, and neglect to confide all to Jesus, who is able to change the sorrowful way to paths of joy and peace. . . .

He proposes to be our friend, to walk with us through all the rough pathways of life.  He says to us, I am the Lord thy God; walk with me, and I will fill thy path with light.  Jesus, the Majesty of Heaven, proposes to elevate to companionship with Himself those who come to Him with their burdens, their weaknesses, and their cares.”— Our Higher Calling, p. 97.

In Need of a Friend

In need of a friend?  I must recommend Jesus!  There’s a simple way to get to know Him.  Of course, there is prayer.  Maybe you are not quite there yet!  I know, you are expecting me to rush you into the Bible.  It is a good place to start, especially the books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Nevertheless, if you just want simplicity, I started with two books:  Steps to Christ and Desire of Ages. (Priority Code: 1971-1285).

Today, Jesus leads me in the path of righteousness.  A path with lights!

Not a Piece of Cake

Not a Piece of Cake

I am so glad marriage is not a piece of cake.  Thirty-two years ago, July 28, 1985, at the Mt. Vernon SDA Church in NY, Alice and I said, “I Do” and then we did.  We did enjoy a wonderful reception at the New Rochelle SDA Church.  We did delight in a most awesome scrumptious meal. We did feed each other the tastiest slice of wedding cake. The cake was made by my very own Godmother, Rose Barnwell, and decorated by Christine Wells.  We did save the top-tier for our 1st anniversary.

It would be that during the early summer of 1986, we would move to North Carolina. I drove the U-haul and Alice, pregnant with Danielle, drove the Toyota Tercel.  Leslie, our son, would alternate as co-pilot from car to U-haul.  The trip, for lack of a better way to state it, was a trip.  Many disastrous events occurred; I will not relay them all now.  Nevertheless, if my mind serves me right, our bird got away and our cake melted and got all smashed up.  We had no idea of how to save a precious slice of cake for the trip.   I am so glad marriage is not a piece of cake.

Let’s face it!  You and I both know that there are more reasons to make such a declaration.   It is more fitting to state that marriage is a piece of work. The voice of experience, as well as, many marriage counselors would stand firmly behind this view.  Recently, I read a tweet stating “fight for your marriage.”  (Young couples, please to do not misread this as “fight in your marriage.”)  It will take enduring effort to keep your eyes on a much higher prize than wedding bliss experiences.

God has been so good to us I am literally in tears sharing this.  There are many that thought we shouldn’t have married.  There were times we truly struggled.  There were countless good times and so much laughter.  For example, we still laugh over the yellow, beat-up single-wide we spent $500 on.  “Now that was laughter!”  There are precious times, also.  We were married long enough to sit hand in hand at our Danielle’s marriage to Abdel Salek.  Our marriage, well in tact, recently welcomed into this world our first grandchild, Julian Alexander Salek, born on June 12 of this year.

Well, it is true, you learn something new every day.  After thirty-two years, I do declare, marriage is not a piece of cake, nor a piece of work.  It is a piece of faith.  The more I see what righteousness by faith is, the more I see that an enduring marriage parallels.  Two people made in the image of God can only truly glorify God–by faith.  Male and female made He them.  Male and female, He living in them.

Husband and Wife, crucified in Christ.  They no longer live, but Christ lives in them.  The life that they live in this “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone” they live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us. (Galatians 2:20)

Today we celebrate 32 years of the awesome piece of faith called marriage!  Hallelujah!

Hampering the Message

Hampering The Message

More than anything shared, the import hampering the message was paramount.  The pointed phrase actually voiced, “…the double-mindedness is hampering your message.” The email spoke of the perusal of all my blog post on my ministry site since I started the 52-Week Writing Challenge.

The message for my ministry, Adam Restored Ministries, Inc., is simple.   “The mission is to promote gender, marital, and sexual wholeness, with a focus on how each contributes to the glory of God, through education, motivation, and collaboration.”  The idea of hampering my message with material on social justice certainly concerns me.

Halting Between Two Positions

I accept that my writings may have betrayed my singleness of position.  Halting between two positions is not the reality.  Jesus Christ and the Word of God epitomizes social justice.  Linker, the author used in many of my challenge submissions, is just a voice concerning “critical thinking” as it relates to social justice.

My choice to write during the 52-Week Writing Challenge on social justice was simply a tool to increase my acumen on the subject—yea, both subjects, social justice and critical thinking.  It was never my purpose to juxtapose them with the mission of Adam Restored Ministries, Inc.  Never would I want to cloud my personal aim to “do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

What Should I Do?

The question to be raised is “What should I do?”  Should the post used in the 52-Week Writing Challenge be posted on the ministry blog?  I admit I had already questioned this in my mind.   Often praying for wisdom, I was not expecting the answer to come from an email.  There are some social justice issues that would be germane to the ministry purpose.  Of course, some not.

Hampering the Message

I am now confronted with an absolute new challenge.  Even if all my challenge posts are not placed in my ministry blog, I still want to remain committed to writing with clear purpose.  The purpose would be, as quoted from the email of my new Medium friend, and critic,  “to affirm or uplift those who read my work.”

Unhampered, the message of the Everlasting Gospel is about God’s loving-kindness: His unfailing love, His relational faithfulness, His unbroken patterned of other-centeredness.

 

Linker, M. (2015). Intellectual Empathy – Critical Thinking for Social Justice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Sanctimonious Attitudes Toward Sexual Sinners

Sanctimonious Attitudes Toward Sexual Sinners

Today’s society provides an overabundance of subject matter for the Christian that thrives on sanctimonious attitudes toward sexual sinners.  One saint will hold great disdain for one sexual sin.   Someone else will abhor another.  More times than not, one saint will hold great disdain for one sexual sinner.   Someone else will abhor another–sexual sinner.

Just what constitutes sexual sin, despite what the Bible states, is argued amongst the masses. Still, human “omniscient” condemnation abounds. The contradiction of terms is intended.

I bespeak you, my reader, to not move to the far left or right on the matter.  I understand there are those who have experienced various forms of satanic cruelty.  And if your experience has been such, I digress to empathize and desire your restorative process.  God restores!

Great Intentions

With great intentions of presenting a devoted Christian, it is sadly possible for the avid believer to greatly betray the sacred trust of following.  The aim may be to sow normality, but chaos is reaped.  Despite the ground being equal at the foot of the Cross, inequality is elevated.  Violence is chosen to establish order.  Hate for a man to present love for God.  The world now sees Jesus, in you, and hates Him.

Social Justice

A friend spoke of social justice in a Biblical quote:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind,” (Luke 4:18 NKJV)

Will bias give birth to fairness?  Can bigotry stimulate impartiality?  Can hate and love walk together?

Jesus On Tolerance

If you ever want to experience a walk with Jesus as He personally portrays tolerance versus intolerance, here is an opportunity.  In Luke 9:51-56, Jesus, the Saviour of the world, was refused entrance.  The disciples, in a great display of dedication, seek to clean house. Expecting kudos for their heroism, the disciples are met with rebuke.  Jesus presents tolerance.  To James and John, he speaks, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of” (Verse 55). To the hasty stone throwers of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus speaks, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:1-12).

Sanctimonious Attitudes Toward Sexual Sinners

In conclusion, a sanctimonious attitude toward sexual sinners is anti-salvific.   Hear Jesus. “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:55, 56).  Of course, it is of value to call sin by its right name.  Jesus, to the woman, “go and sin no more.” (John 8:11).  Yet, hear the first part of His statement, “Neither do I condemn you.” It is of great value to be a true follower.

Read 1 Corinthians 6:11 aloud with salvific eyes, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

Jesus came to save, not condemn (John 3:16, 17).

One Steadfast Look to the Saviour

One Steadfast Look to the Saviour
The purity, the holiness, of the life of Jesus as presented from the Word of God, possess more power to reform and transform the character than do all the efforts put forth in picturing the sins and crimes of men and the sure results. One steadfast look to the Saviour uplifted upon the cross will do more to purify the mind and heart from every defilement than will all the scientific explanations by the ablest tongue. – EGWHITE

Did He Call for a Color-blind Society?

Did He Call for a Color-blind Society

Did He Call for a color-blind society?  Didn’t Martin Luther King, Jr. call for a color-blind society?  This was the lead sentence in a response to my blog post, Would That We Be Racially Color-blind.  The original post gave credence to the fact that God created variety throughout all creation. It was very good.  To solve the woes racism would call for a heart adjustment rather than a visual.

The Content of Their Character

Nevertheless, what did the noted minister and activist, spokesperson and leader of the Civil Rights Movement say? A search on the internet using the phrase “Martin Luther King, Jr. color-blind” provided several links.  I should not have to fully elucidate all the information from these links.  Let’s quote the MLK line used and often misused as color-blind flavored.

“I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

How was Usain Bolt Judged?

The Olympics races may provide a very simple illustration of the meaning of “not being judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  When Usain Bolt crosses the finish line, does his skin color play a role in his obtaining an Olympic medal?  How was he judged?  He was judged of being the first to cross the finish line.

When Usain Bolt received his gold medal, with what flag does he enrobe?  Yes, the Jamaican flag.  Do we ignore what country he is from?  Do we ignore the green, yellow, and black colors? We embrace his distinct national pride.

Did He Call for a Color-blind Society?

It is so simple. The call of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for equality is shamefully being twisted for the very reason he spoke these words–racism.  Yes, we are alike in that we were made in the image of One God and of one blood. Yet God did make distinctions.  We differ in fingerprints.  The proverbial number of hairs upon our head differ by count (Luke 12:7).  I am sure Cain was distinct from Abel in more ways than spirituality.

Concerning spiritual laws, God even had laws for Israel to help the poor (Leviticus 23:22). Why shouldn’t the country’s laws reflect the desire for impartiality?

 

Would That We Be Racially Color-blind?

Would That We Be Racially Color-blind

The gist of the question presented to the main guest speaker of a panel discussion was “Would that we be racially color-blind?”  The setting was a gathering of approximately 5 or 6 churches for a special day. It was Unity Day.  All the same denomination, some churches were predominately Black, some well-mixed.  A few were mixed with the largest percentage being white.

The Opposite of Racism

The idea of the question seemed to suggest that the opposite of racism must be to not acknowledge color at all.  Would that solve America’s racial woes?  We live in a world, with an array of flowers, beautifully colored.  They often delight the travels along several interstates.  Some yellow, some orange, occasionally a batch of all different colors.  Standing on my deck, I can quickly identify the cardinal and its mate, the peregrine falcon, and various species of owls.  “The point is that there is nothing inherently racist or biased about identifying groups as having a race or ethnicity. (Linker, 2015)

The Garden of Races and Ethnicity

Growing up in Mount Vernon, NY, I never experienced racism as I did when going to college or living in the south.  I enjoyed the garden of races and ethnicities.  I loved the dialects. Trying to learn patois from my Jamaican friends was fun.  The plethora of variety in the food department was delectable.  I love rice.  Peas and rice, rice and beans, Spanish rice, or fried rice.  I remember my stepmom making a delicious vegetarian curry chicken casserole over yellow rice.  Wow!

Would That We Be Racially Color-blind?

Would that we be racially color-blind? No! There is a solution!  God’s Way.  Consequently, when God created this world, he made everything with variety.  When He finished, he called it, “VERY GOOD.” (Genesis 1:31)  If you were desperately in need of blood, whether you are willing to admit or not, you could receive blood from almost anywhere in the world and live.  The perspective needed will involve “intellectual empathy” …cognitive-affective elements of thinking about identity and social difference. (Linker, 2015).

Linker, M. (2015). Intellectual Empathy – Critical Thinking for Social Justice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Impotent Social Justice Beliefs

Impotent Social Justice Beliefs

Do you suffer from impotent social justice beliefs?  I believe it is easy to detect. Exam whether you have a voice when it comes to discussions about self-identity and social differences.  Are you reluctant to share your thoughts?  Ask yourself about the last time you were involved in a dialogue about inequality.  An anonymous comment in an online forum is a possible first step.  What public forum on the subject interest you?

A Continuum of Beliefs

A male, age 16, brought to the United States 11 years ago by undocumented parents, now suffers from a chronic disease.  Consider what possible circumstances of inequality he may have to face. You could be his advocate for care.  Where do you stand?  Certainly, you have beliefs.  They may be strong beliefs.  After all, a continuum of beliefs exists concerning inequality.

Decisions and Actions

Is there an aspect of your life where you scrutinized an issue with maximum intent?  The desire was to be well informed.  The decision or action required utmost wisdom.  Research engendered objectivity.  Your perspective presented well-roundedness. How would you classify your actions and decisions, based on settled beliefs?  Pathos—power to pity? Or Apathy?  Most likely, your actions and decisions were pointed.

Critical Thinking

“Critical thinking is the process of exposing our beliefs to the standards of good reasoning, airing them out through examination and justification, and giving them the kind of attention that will make them more consistent and flexible.  Because beliefs motivate our actions and decisions, examining our beliefs can promote actions and decisions that are more coherent and morally justifiable and are in our best interest.  Beliefs that we withhold from critical thinking fail to benefit from this process and can lead to decisions and actions that are inconsistent, morally irresponsible, and self-defeating.” (Linker, 2015)

Impotent Social Justice Beliefs

Consequently, the time has come for each of us living in this great America to individually evaluate our beliefs.  Do we suffer from impotent social justice beliefs?  Be willing to expose your beliefs.  Truly our country needs “beliefs that promote actions and decisions … more coherent and morally justifiable and are in our best interest.”

 

Linker, M. (2015). Intellectual Empathy – Critical Thinking for Social Justice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Effectively Engage with Social Issues Such as Pornography

Effectively Engage with Social Issues Such as Pornography

Consider two short responses on how to more effectively engage with social issues such as pornography — ‘Know thyself’ and ‘Listen responsibly!’  Of course, it is not that simple.  To know thyself “requires self-awareness, self-understanding, and self-reflexivity.  It also requires understanding the institutions and social systems that contribute to shaping our beliefs and our languages.” (Linker, 2015)

A Provocative Social Issue: Pastors and Porn

Let’s just say you will be participating in a roundtable given the statistics, 50% of pastors regularly look at porn.  Considering the two short responses mentioned above, how will you prepare? Being aware of your initial emotion as you read the statistics would be a good place to start.  Sadness?  Anger?  Bewilderment?

Consider the myriad of factors that contributed to your emotion.  One factor may be how you first encountered the subject of pornography.  Another factor may be your understanding or your unseeing of clergy sexual misconduct.

What questions are relevant as you ponder self-understanding?  A man having 10 years of exposure to his father’s hidden stash of Playboy Magazine renders one perspective.  Hearing consistent sermons on Adultery during your formative years may still speak to the conscience.

Self-Reflexivity

Self-reflexivity may be a challenge.  Reflexive speaks of a verb where the subject and the object are identical.  An example would be, “Using porn, I negatively impacted myself.”  Perhaps your testimony reads, “I always guarded my mind!” How have self-initiated activities biased you on the subject?  If you are going to effectively engage with social issues such as pornography, certain you need to know thyself.

Listen Responsibly!

The real challenge, more than knowing thyself, will be your willingness to listen.  Responsible listening takes in more than just hearing words.   Be willing to patiently understanding the perspectives of others.  We may reflect on how others’ culture and beliefs are biased.  Nevertheless, consider more how your culture and beliefs may also be biased.

Effectively Engage with Social Issues Such as Pornography

In conclusion, I share the full quote,

“To more effectively engage with social issues, we need to critically assess our own beliefs and attitudes about social identities and then develop the skills to listen responsibly to the beliefs and attitudes of those whose social experiences are different from our own.” (Linker, 2015)

 

Linker, M. (2015). Intellectual Empathy – Critical Thinking for Social Justice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Compassion for Those Who Differ

Compassion for Those Who Differ

Do you have compassion for those who differ from you?  When is the last time you had a social justice discussion?  Was it race relations?  Sexual orientation?  The reality is not that easy to face.  Consider this quote:

“Some of the most challenging debates—and ones that are rife with faulty reasoning—are those where self-identity, social identity, and social relations come together as the primary focus.” (Linker, 2015)

Stay with me!

Pornography – A Social Justice Issue.  A search on the internet produced 5+ results.  Suppose, after reading the various articles, we decide to have a discussion.  Do you think the discussion would be a challenging debate?  Based on the quote, I would have to say, “Yes.”  First of all, the title reeks with thoughts of ideologies involving faulty reasoning.

Self-identity

A collection of beliefs about oneself” is an easy way to define self-identity.  One may say, “I do not look at pornography.”  Another, “I do; what’s wrong with that?”  There are those who stumbled across it and found themselves spiraling into a dark, crippling pattern of unwanted behavior.  Even some Hollywood stars never live down their early years of seeking fame by appearing on the pages of a magazine.

Social Identity

Born into wealth may be what provided your sense of social identity.  Perhaps, born poor.  As far as I remember, being a Church-goer was part of my social identity.  My sense of being a Christian came years later.  Nevertheless, something about my social identity warned me to hide the facts of my 11-year-old introduction to pornography.  My social identity peers were also warned.  What conversation did you have with your social identity about the issue?

Social Relations

“In social science, a social relation or social interaction is any relationship between two or more individuals.”  Let’s just say, despite being on this planet, you have not been exposed to porn.  Whom do you know that was?  Whatever your social relation, it is not worth keeping your head in the sand on the issue.

Compassion for Those Who Differ

Here is another quote for consideration,

“We have little empathy or compassion for those whose conclusions are so different from our own, and we withdraw from real analysis because we fear that we will offend someone, that we will not be believed, or that we will never change the other person’s mind.” (Linker, 2015)

Pornography is just one of the social justice subjects.  Racism and human trafficking are hot items.  So many are still afraid to speak up or speak out.

Do you suffer from unseeing the unjust reality?  Consider expanding your thinking.  Join the conversation.  Yes, be prepared for challenging debates.  Even faulty reasoning.  More than anything, practice intellectual empathy.  Sharpen your critical thinking.   Be compassionate!

 

Linker, M. (2015). Intellectual Empathy – Critical Thinking for Social Justice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.