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

Confessing the Sins of Our Nation

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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!

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Having Your Faith Challenged

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Recently I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine. We were talking about how hard it can be to be a Christian in the day and age we live in. We shared how our faith, what we believe, and the history of Christianity is being challenged like never before. Well, at least it seems this way. The children and grand children of a group of people who had such strong faith in God, today, seems to be the opposite.

With the events of injustice happening all around the world, in America and most recent as Baltimore, I found myself in a mental battle. I, too had questions, thoughts and concerns about the church and Christianity. As I seen hateful comments, attacks towards the church, pastors and leaders my heart broke. I thought to myself, “people have lost hope in the church.” I was discouraged. I even questioned the work I do on a day to day basis. “Am I really making a difference?” “Will people come to Christ and so on…”

I was reminded that we are not the first generation of Christians to be attacked. I was reminded of the battles and attacks Dr. Martin Luther King had to face. I was reminded of other leaders, even biblical leaders that had to face persecution. I then begin to think to myself, “If the churches, congregants and pastors continue to get attacked/persecuted will the body of Christ stand up? Will those who follow after God continue to be bold in their faith?”

Other thoughts I had were: “Did the generation of leaders before us, fail us? Did they not prepare us for social injustice and how the church can have a voice?” I believe many people are against the church today because of the lack of participation in unjust social events. The church preaches love, peace and justice but yet at times seem to be quiet when they are needed the most. People want to see action, people want to see changes being made and growth in our government and social systems.

So as I reflected, I found myself asking the question, “what role can you and I play in breaking stereotypes of today’s church?” While I have no easy answer to this question, I do know we have a role to play. I do know God wants to use people like you and me to help create change, to be peace makers and bring justice to this world.

As I continue to read through the Psalms and study David in the Bible, I see how he faced similar emotions I found myself facing. In these moments of asking questions, God brings clarity, God brings hope, and God helps me see how I can be used to be a catalyst for His work to be done on earth. I hope you can see how God wants to use you. There is a lot of work to be done in this world. First, it starts with allowing God to first work on our hearts!

Questions for you: What do you do when you find yourself discouraged by injustice? How do you keep hope alive in your life? What keeps you going in your faith?

P.S. Share this with a friend and let’s create some great dialogue. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Daily Solitude

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Daily I believe each of us long to have a bit of silence and peace. It seems as the older I get the more I enjoy having quiet time each day. Whether my quiet time comes in the morning, mid day or at night I need a moment to myself. I need time to close my eyes, reflect and meditate. Usually my best time of silence is in the morning before my busy, hopefully productive day gets started. 🙂

Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline,  talks about having an inner solitude. Often times when we think of solitude, we think of going to a quiet place, with no distractions, no people around and no noises. He describes solitude in this way: “Solitude is more of a state of mind and heart than it is a place.” Basically, solitude comes from spending time with God, yourself, praying, meditating, reflecting, journaling and thinking through your day.

Usually what happens with us in the morning is we create enough time to get out the bed, brush our teeth, shower, get dress and make a quick breakfast before we rush out the door to our jobs/meetings leaving us with no time for solitude. As we repeat this same each day throughout the week, we will find ourselves running on empty. We start on Monday and by Wednesday we are ready to tap out and cannot wait until Friday. The weekend comes and we enjoy our weekend playing catch up on rest, all to start the same routine over on Monday.

I am sure you are thinking, yeah this sounds quite familiar. I am here to say a change is needed as soon as possible. You do not want to continue in this routine. What’s waiting for you if you do not make the necessary changes in your life are,  emotional, physical, mental and spiritual burnout. Laziness, bad attitudes, lack of effort and joy will follow as well. So what are some practical steps you can do to begin to live in solitude? Here are 5 tools you can implement into your daily life:

1) Read something light before you go to bed. Reading allows your mind to sleep better and process through the night.

2) Write down your tasks you need to get done the next day before you go to bed. This will allow you to wake up knowing the direction you need to go in for the day.

3) Try waking up a few minutes early to read, pray and listen to music. This can set the tone for the day.

4) Write down your thoughts. Keep a journal where you can express your emotions through words.

5) Try exercising. Getting the blood flowing, breaking a good sweat can energize you for the day.

I share these tools and this blog to help increase emotional, spiritual, physical and mental awareness. We should not be a people that dread going to work, being around people and leaving the house. There is no fun and joy in this. Let’s work on making changes. You and I need to be the best we can be daily. I believe it starts in the morning with solitude.

P.S. I would love to hear how you experience daily solitude. Share some thoughts and comments on what you do to get going each day. Also share this blog with a friend. You can help someone find inner solitude and peace.

Thanks for taking the time out to read!

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The Voice of the Restless

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From the streets of America a voice cries out. A young kid is on their streets running around thinking, “is this what life is all about?” Destruction, murder, slander, division, hatred, anger are only a portion of words our nation is faced with. For decades and for generations there has been the cry and plea for justice. People wanting to be treated equally. People wanting the same respect as the next man and woman. In the heart of our urban cities there lies a lot of unheard voices. Whether it be troublesome youth, uneducated men and women, the poor, under privileged, under developed, under resourced, great grandmas and grandpas reliving out the 60’s again, these are the voices of inner city America.

The root of the matter is a system of people who misused their power, voice, minds and hands. A system that has destroyed a nation and a people for generations. Tracing back to America’s roots were a group of people coming from Europe to a new found land. A people who were being mistreated by the great Britain. A people who claimed to have great Christian values. Their cry at the time was to serve their God freely. But what happened to the good intentions of starting over? Of being free? Where did their hearts grow wrong?

Greed, selfish desires, wrong use of power, manipulation, building empires, mistreating people, taking what is not theirs, murder, drunkenness, poor communication, no communication and a dominant yet excessive mentality to build by force. To use groups of people (mainly blacks) to build a land that was not theirs in the first place. So where did it all go wrong? It was wrong when Europeans were still in Europe. It was wrong when they arrive to a new land. It was wrong when they forced the natives out of their land. It was wrong when they began slave trades. It was wrong when they began to murder. It has always been wrong.

But these are America’s roots. Here we are in 2015 and we are still asking the same questions we’ve been asking. Why are we so divided? Why is our nation still racists? Why are so many people upset, mad and angry? Why are a group of people still being treated as 1/3rd of a person? Looked down upon as animals? Why does it seem like their lives do not matter? Why is the justice system not fighting with them and for them?

These are not easy questions to answer but our people deserve some answers. Therefore, we see an uproar of the restless. A generation that says, “injustice, bad treatment is not going to continue to happen on our watch without doing something about it.” I certainly do not condone violence but I do see why certain individuals are rioting. It’s being done out of anger, out of hurt, out of rage and out of pain. I deeply hurt to sit by and watch this take place.

I likened the riots to a child who’s father that has been in and out of his child’s life. Mistreating their child, abusing them, running over, degrading them, not listening, telling them what to do and not do. One day that child will grow into a teenager and then into an adult. The once young child is going to stand up, speak up and act out against their father. They will not be able to take the treatment from their father.

America, these are your children. What you are seeing is years, decades and centuries of voices speaking out. Some in good ways and others in not so good ways.

I want to close this writing with a paragraph of writing from Dr. Martin Luther King. I broke it up into two paragraphs. I believe his writings sheds light on what’s happening today in America. He says from his speech, “The Other America:”

“Now I wanted to say something about the fact that we have lived over these last two or three summers with agony and we have seen our cities going up in flames. And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non­-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results.

But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

Dr. Martin Luther King 1967

No matter if you are black, white, hispanic, latino, jew or greek, everyone has to do a better job at racial reconciliation. We all have a role to play in this. Everyone has to own up and take responsibility. We have to do a better job at being proactive in our relationships. We need more people in positions of power with the hearts of peace, justice and hope. We need people that can build our inner cities. We need people that will listen. We need strategic planning. We need action. We need people to come together and not divide apart. We need faith. We need prayer. We need God. Most importantly… America, we need answers…

P.S. Here is the link to Dr. King’s full speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3H978KlR20

Please feel free to share your thoughts. Any inappropriate comments will be deleted. Please be respectful in your responses. I do understand this is a tough subject matter and has caused a lot of different emotions. Thank you.