America, Life

Don’t Be So Quick to Judge

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My heart breaks for the lives of people that are treated unfair. Everyone deserves a chance. Everyone has struggles and battles. Everyone has a story and for a brief moment, I want you to hear a quick story from my life.

Many people see the work I do now and celebrate what has transpired over the course of my life, but check this out… If my coaches in high school/college would have done a background check on my teenage years, they would have discovered I had 3 MIP’s, sold weed, smoked weed, skipped school, had poor grades at some point (1.2 gpa) and got drunk; they would not have wanted me to a part of their program.

Back in high school at 16 years old.
Back in high school at 16 years old.
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A 17 yr old trying to find his way

It was very easy to find faults in my character, to display my weaknesses, and hold me to the standard of my choices. However, my coaches were able to see that I was just a hurting, lost, and broken teen being influenced by my surroundings, and making decisions based off of my broken emotions. My coaches saw that I was a teen in need of guidance, love, support, and encouragement.

I needed someone to believe in me!

If I was always pushed down, punished and given up on for the wrongs I committed and the poor choices I made, then I would not been able to have the opportunity to learn, grow, overcome my mistakes, earn a high school degree, two college degrees, soon to be master’s degree, become an All – American basketball player, get married and eventually become a pastor.

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I share this because when tragedy strikes, people are quick to point out the wrong someone has done, as a means to justify that an individual deserves poor treatment. Before you go and label someone a thug, gangster, low-life and a nobody, first learn their story and understand why they are making/made poor decisions.

Here is what you can do:

You have to believe you can make a difference. Change starts with you stepping up to do your part in society, in your household, and in your community. There are people out there that need to be heard, teenagers that need someone to listen to them, and love them. Will you be that person?

I should have been another statistic–lost to the system. I should be dead or in prison. I shouldn’t be where I am today. But God!

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P.S. Be the change the world needs to see and as you do this; one day you will look up and realize, you influenced a lost teen to turn their life around to be a difference maker in this world.

In love,

Pastor J. Scott Samarco

*Orginally posted on Smiley Speaks. *

 

America, Black America, Forgiveness, History, Life, Moving Forward, United States

Confessing the Sins of Our Nation

THE BEST VIEW

Let’s be honest here. Thanksgiving Day is not a celebration for everyone. There is a people group that is forgotten during this time of the year. We call them Native Americans. The Natives, from our understanding, were the first people group to live on this land we call America.

Our nation is guilty of the greatest tragedies this world has ever seen.

Before our nation was officially established, there was the shedding of thousand and thousands, if not millions, of innocent blood and lives. To this day, we still suffer from the atrocities and the decisions of the so call leaders of the “free world.”

It was not until the last two years, or so, I began to grieve during this holiday season. Call it an awakening or having a better understanding of history, I now can see and somewhat feel what my ancestors faced. Being bi-racial (half white and half black) I have somewhat experienced both sides. What I mean by this, I have been on both sides of the fence, where I have been mistreated poorly, and I have been treated with privileged. Either way, I grieve for both sides of my ancestry.

Turn on the news, and you will see, we are a nation struggling to know what it means to live out justice and equality, especially toward people of color. So many leaders have fought for change, yet and still, here we are in 2015, and it seems like we still haven’t got anywhere. People of color are still mistreated, protesting, marching, losing lives and wanting fair treatment. When will America wake up?

#BlackLivesMatter – What is it?

The ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter movement is not a violent movement. The media constantly tries to portray negative images of blacks. There is nothing new there. #BlackLivesMatter is a movement about peace, equality, fair treatment and justice. This movement brings awareness to this world about the unfair treatment blacks have to continue to face. Saying #BlackLivesMatter and supporting this movement does not mean other lives do not matter. All lives matter, this we know, but we cannot dismiss or try to downplay what’s happening towards blacks.

This is a battle blacks, and people of color have been facing since white Europeans took over someone else land and began in their quest to destroy every other person of color. May we not forget our terrible history and discover the truths our school systems did not reveal to us.

While we are in a season of thankfulness, this should also be a season of forgiveness. America we owe an apology first to Native Americans, then to blacks, and then to Latinos.

Racism, prejudice, greed, hate, evil all still exist. Until we begin to forgive and move forward as a nation, we will continue to kill those of color and those of color will continue to march on until something changes. #BlackLivesMatter! Don’t be afraid to say it and support the movement!

What can you and I do?

  • Begin to create relationships with those who are mistreated.
  • Love hard
  • Forgive often
  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Join the movement of peace, justice and equality
  • Understand life is bigger than your problems
  • Have compassion for those who continue to be mistreated

As a nation, we have to admit to our poor history. We may say we were found on Christian principles, but I think you and I know, from our history we were and still are far off from living out Godly principles. Call it misinterpretations or Bible gone wrong, we have to come to an agreement that something needs to change. I believe change starts with you and me, doing what we can to bring change and to influence those we have a relationship with to do the same.

Let’s be people of action. First start with confessing!

America, Christianity, Moving Forward

Race and the Church

Scotty-Prayer

If racism did not exist, we would not have so many segregated churches. It is because of racism we have white churches, black churches, Latino churches, etc. We can add in things like greed, power, control, money, etc. I believe at the core, is racism. I do not believe that racism, segregation, and separation is God’s heart. Love brings forth unity.

The Gospel Paul preached throughout the New Testament was a Gospel of reconciliation between Jews, Gentiles and Greeks which meant, the bringing together of different ethnic nations.

There is a reason Paul suffered the way he did. He was fighting against the cultural norm, which was fighting against Roman rule (a dominant culture/race) who wanted everything separated and segregated. Sounds familiar?

If you call yourself a Christian, you no longer have the right to be separated and segregated from other ethnic races. It is time for the church to be the most unified and colorful place on Sunday, instead of the church being the most segregated place on a Sunday.

A Call to Action:

It is time for you and I to begin to live intentional on doing life with people of other race and ethnic backgrounds. If you live in a diverse area, and your church is all one color, my friend, there is something to be said and something to be done. Join in the conversation, join in prayer, join the community of other believers and begin to challenge leaders and congregants at your church to begin seeking God’s heart for a unified and diverse church.

Remember, first it begins with you seeking God’s heart for the church and this should begin to lead to helpful, challenging and necessary conversations with others. This may not be easy but it is vital as we move forward as a body of believers. As the church we have to be leaders in this conversation and not continue to take the back seat.

“Every member of the body of Christ is needed and has a role to play. God values diversity, which is why he made such a variety of people.” – Derwin Gray #HDLeader

P.S. If you have any questions or would like to talk more about race and the church feel free to leave your email in a comment below.