It blesses my heart to see my children grow up and stand against injustice. To see them not live in fear or be limited by it….to see them choose to stand for the oppressed rather than view this evil world with apathy…..my son Jordan has always been a determined fellow. He is maturing into a wonderfully determined, godly man. Check out his blog here on WordPress, Natively Foreign. Critical thought will be summoned.
Originally posted on Natively Foreign:
Here qouted is a first hand account I received from a new friend of mine recounting her experience in a protest in Long Island, New York. The author of this account is Stefani Cruz (On twitter she’s @stefffcruuz). It is published here in original form. I hope you appreciate it as much as I did. I also hope that it encourages you to share and publish your experiences during these protests. Though what is here quoted was originally a response to specific questions, I felt the writing could stand alone apart from those questions.
When I arrived at the protest I was alone. I arrived to a big group waiting to march in the parking lot of Amityville Trainstation. I grabbed my protest sign that on one side said “Black Lives Matter” in red paint with small red handprints around it. The other side said, “Why is MY life worth…
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Bursting the bubble of the ‘post racial society’ illusion: An open letter to my white brothers and sisters in Christ Part 1
AN OPEN LETTER TO MY WHITE BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST
“The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.” Genesis 9:18-19
The 1st people group that I ever identified with was that of African Americans. Years later, after growing up in America and experiencing the joy and pride of my 1st community as well as a mixture of love, acceptance, prejudice and racism from those of the majority culture, I became a follower of Christ, and I was now identified with another people group. Both my original identifier and my newfound one were groups of people who had experienced extreme persecution and oppression historically, and had been victimized by others worldwide. My now identifying with Christ and all of his followers, as well as praying for them and grieving with them as believers faced persecution in my life time, did not cancel out my being a part of the people group that I was born into. My joining in the fight for equal treatment under the law for African Americans, and bringing to light injustice in this country does not cancel out my being a follower of Christ. But I have found that in the eyes and hearts of many, that’s exactly what it does.
I have shared news recently that greatly impacts the body of Christ and I have also shared news that greatly impacts the African American community, and I am realizing more and more that these two can be treated as if they are totally unrelated. They are not, as we are not. Where my white brothers and sisters in Christ, for the most part, can sympathize with the persecution of other believers and even empathize and grieve with/for them, many either cannot, or choose not to empathize or grieve with their African America Christian counterparts when given the opportunity. And if any grief is momentarily shared, it has a time limit attached to it. That being said, I am a believer who is black. Go figure.
(almost totally unrelated sidebar; the historic account of the Ethiopian Eunuch found in Acts 8 points out that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was not unknown to the people of Africa. We will come back to this later.) “And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.” Pagans and savages did not do that.)
As such, I share a lot about news stories that stand out to me in the hopes of making people think, and to challenge world views that are held that do not line up with what Christ taught. I share posts voicing my opposition to abortion and the fact that Margaret Sanger designed Planned Parenthood to get rid of black people….to kill them before they were ever born… but I do not hate those who are pro-choice. I share posts standing for the Biblical definition of marriage, but I do not hate homosexuals. I share posts exposing racism and hatred based on skin color and exposing the evil of the justice system in this country, and the systemic criminalization of Black people, but I do not hate white people. As a result of my many posts exposing and challenging views about racism (and there have been many), there are those among my white brothers and sisters who have now labeled my family racists, and do not want to see my family at church anymore. There are those who say that the recent (3 months) worth of posts have been exclusively “Black this and black that” and they are sick of it. They are tired of seeing it in their newsfeed. There are those who believe that all I have shared is negativity. There are those who have unfriended my family and labeled us as now preachers of hate and not preachers of the Gospel. All of this and more because of news stories shared on Facebook. Does anyone other than me see a problem here? We have not changed as a family. The current issue that we happen to be confronting is simply a more difficult one for people to come to terms with. As Christians, for the most part, we can agree on the issue of abortion. For the most part we can agree on the danger of ISIS and the need to pray and stand against that. But sadly, we do not agree on issues of racism. My life experience has given me a different perspective than some of yours, and I share from that perspective partnered with what Gods Word teaches us, and many are increasingly, overwhelmingly uncomfortable. So I am called names. And my family members are called names. And I receive hate filled messages. Because somehow it is still not understood that we are the same. Now, understand that when I say that we have not changed, I am referring to our faith and commitment to Christ. It has not wavered or diminished. We have not changed. But what I am realizing is that many just never got to know us as well as they thought they did in those 2 hour a week services. We still love God. We still love people. We still stand and speak out against injustice, but we now realize that what we view as injustice is not what many of you view as injustice. What we feel passionately about speaking out against, you do not feel passionately about speaking out against. Our
goal as a family was to wake people up. Our goal was to raise awareness to what we viewed as the senseless murders of unarmed black men, and the systemic abuse of black people that has remained the status quo in America during and since slavery. Many hold to the belief that the Civil Rights Act did away with all of that, but as I have often said, you can’t legislate the heart. The Civil Rights Act simply gave the white citizens of America whose hearts overflowed with venom for the African American people, boundaries on how far they could go legally in their efforts to rid the “stain” of brown skin from this country. It did not remove the venom. Do you understand? I need you to see and know that horrible evils still take place in this country to the people who look like me, and you need me to see and know that things are not like they used to be, and you need me to understand this while I watch an unarmed black boys body lay in the street with part of his face blown off and his brains oozing out from gunfire by a police officer, for four hours. You need me to understand while I watch an unarmed, black, father of six and grandfather being choked to death, and then see the police walk away without penalty. I want you to stand and fight with me for things to continue to change, and you want me to acknowledge that there have been changes and IF progress is still needed, I just need to understand that it takes time. But how much time? Today marks the 59th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and a young black boy was found
hanging in NC a couple of months ago.How much time is still needed?
Life is about perspective, but perspectives change all of the time. We hear good movie reviews and decide to see it. Then we hear some really bad ones and decide to wait until it comes out on dvd. Our perspective on whether or not we should spend $54 (for our family) or $15 was impacted by information. How often have we lived to see our perspectives change? But in this area…racism and it’s lasting effects on this country, on the church, I have found that many of my conservative brothers and sisters hold their position. I don’t understand, but I do not harbor hatred. My perspective on the current events we are facing on this front are not what they were a year or two ago. They have continued to grow, and evolve. While I don’t blame you for holding to a perspective that I disagree with, I pray that yours will not remain the same in this crucial area. At the same time, I believe that the descendants of slaves have proven over and over again in this country, that we patiently wait and hope for change, understanding that some changes take more time than others.
I have always been a person who believed that prayer (our communication with God) and the sharing of perspectives and information (our communication with each other), changes things. Sin is a human condition. It knows no color and does not operate within the parameters that our flesh has established. It is not black, white, or brown. To continue to insist in word or deed, that one people group is inherently superior to another based on racist ideology is a huge fallacy that many who name Christ fall for daily. Following are just a couple of areas where perspectives of white and black Christians seem to differ substantially. I will be discussing these topics in upcoming posts.
The sanctity of the flag and US Constitution
The ‘sovereignty’ of American soil
The value of the descendants of slaves (human beings)
The presumed guilt of black people
I will also be covering, for the sake of sharing historical information, as well as assisting in the development of empathy and compassion, posts about the following subjects;
Brief historical overview of Black Economics
Brief historical overview of the Black Family
Brief historical overview of Black Education
Brief historical overview of Black Politics
Brief historical overview of Blacks in Prison
Gods word tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Let us begin to do this together in the area that is currently dividing our nation again. Remember, communicating about the issue is not what causes division. Ignoring the issue is.
In the current volatile, racially divided times that we are now in, my children are finding their voice. The following post filled my heart with joy and pride as their Mama when I read it this morning. Many have wondered where I have been. Helping them find their voice has been more important that building a bigger audience with mine. But I believe their growth and maturity just gave me my voice back. If you read nothing else from here, read this.
Selena….mother of these two young voices!
“Love makes no difference but shapes how we should see difference. Demanding that the discussion of race be upon the premise that there is no difference between White and Black is a cop out, and ignores the work of unification needed among our very other, yet complimentary, ethnic groups. Difference requires love, being at odds requires empathy, therefore any attempt to make difference invisible is an attempt to avoid the toil of love. In ignoring our complimentary parts, we try to force a union which only makes us clash. When we accept our difference and how that difference compliments each other, we will finally be able to unify in true love, acceptance, and cooperation.”
Originally posted on Natively Foreign:
The times are changing and America is going through a tumultuous time that many White and Black people hoped, wished, and prayed would not happen, but this movement is long overdue. I write this incredibly proud of the youth in this movement, the restraint of wrath, the intelligence of planning, and the dedication to truth that many of the youth and elders alike have exhibited. The youth of the LA riots 22 years ago ruined an opportunity for forward progress through senseless violence. Despite all of the White people threatening violence and calling the protestors “animals,” and other derogatory names, the protestors and activists in Ferguson and across the nation have shown incredible restraint against base taunts and wicked threats from police, not only compared to the LA riots but also White lead anti-Austerity protests and riots in Canada and Europe, all equally as legitimate as this movement we are…
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I remember when my youngest son, Jordan Christopher, was three years old he asked a very mature question one afternoon following an impromptu Bible Study. We were discussing the early followers of Christ and how so many of them were martyred. Then we began to talk about Luke, the physician, and how he was with the Apostle Paul on many of his missionary journeys, and that this is how he had the first hand information needed to write Paul’s story. Jordan had been relatively silent throughout our conversation but all of a sudden he had questions. His last question was the one that stuck with me all of these years. My little three-year old was asking more than just who would write our story. We had just finished talking about the amazing lives lived by those who had committed their lives to Christ. We were up to our eyeballs in the historic accounts found in John Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs!! These were real life stories filled with action and adventure, agonizing pain and torture, peace, joy unspeakable….and love never-ending! He was learning, they were all learning about the lives that we are called to as followers of Christ. Not of comfort and materialistic pleasure, but of discomfort and eternal sacrifice. They were learning about the call to follow Jesus…and the cost paid by those who chose to follow him. The men and women who had laid down their lives rather than deny their Lord were ancient heroes to them, alive only on the pages of Scripture and history books…and that day, when he was three years old, Jordan chose to follow them as they had followed Christ! That day, my son chose to take up his cross and walk the way of a Christian. It amazed me that at such a young age he understood what that meant. I am speechless as I look back on that day. I do not remember if the Sun was shining or if it was cold outside. The only thing I remember is the question he asked, and the answer that was given. The Word of God is just that, the Word of God. All of it inspired…breathed by the Holy Spirit. These men and women had lived a life worthy of recording. Not because of their wealth, but because of what they did with it. Not because of their poverty, but because of what they did in spite of it. Not because of their health but in spite of their illnesses. The people they learned about that day, and many days since, were believers whose faith transcended the pages of Holy Scripture and history books and whose love and genuine faith in our Lord had traveled through generations to communicate to four children, one of whom was only three….and he got it that day. By asking the question, “Who’s gonna write our story?”, Jordan was making the statement that his heart was set on living as they did, and even dying as many of them had done. He was affirming that his life was not worth living if it was not worth giving it to the One who had given all for him. I remember one of the verses talked about that day;
Jordan is now 15 years old, and he still pursues the One who has proven to be the answer to the question he asked when he was three. He, as well as his three siblings, have a very different view of what it means to be a follower of Christ than many of their peers seem to. Somewhere during the years of our family reading God’s Word together, and diligently, with the help of the Holy Spirit, their father and I seeking to live out that Word, they grabbed a hold to something real….something True….aomething Authentic! They are not without mistake or fault just as none of us are, but they have a perspective that causes them to draw on the Lord’s strength when they are weak, and to hold tighter to His Word should they fall. The story of their face to face meeting with The Lord is different for each one of them. For Kayla it was in a Sunday School classroom when she was four years old. We were not thoroughly convinced of childhood conversions until we saw the fruit of repentance and the fruit of righteousness in her young life, and we see it still. For Isaiah it was when his big sister sat across the kitchen table with him one day over lunch when she was six and he was five and shared the gospel with him and helped him find his way to the Lord, while mom listened on the other side of the wall. For Leah, it was at a Secret Keeper Girls event that she made her faith known to me and a room full of Princesses….and for Jordan, it was the day he looked at me while sitting on the big blue couch in the family room and asked so sincerely, “Who’s gonna write our story?.” The house is long gone, but that old couch is the same one I am sitting on as I type this. I couldn’t bear to part with it. Not just because of its comfort, but because of its comfort…The pages of Scripture are filled with more than just words…they are filled with life…the Bread of Life…and water…the Living Water…And when served up tp our children for the delicacies that they are they will give them life!!! Since that day I have watched my sons and daughters grow in God’s grace and learn to ‘walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This is the hearts desire of every parent who loves the Lord with everything in them; for their children to love him too. If I could offer you some encouragement, READ God’s word with them daily. Discuss the Scriptures as easily as you discuss whats going on in their lives. When they bring situations that they are dealing with to you, take them to the Word of God and see what God says about it. Give them His perspective as they face the sin sick world that awaited them at their birth. Your opinion will change, but His will not. Your views and advice will mature and vary with age and circumstance. His will not. Show them through the Living Word how to live a life worth being written about. Not for their material things, but for their faith without or in spite of those things. Not for their intelligence and book smarts, but for their unalterable faith despite what the genius of men says. Teach them to love God with all their heart, soul and strength….and to live their lives in such a way that the Spirit of the Lord will write their story in His Book.
God Bless You….Selena
My last personally written post on this blog was June 25, 2013. My life was in a state of upheaval. I was grieving on a level I had no idea even existed. My family was safe. We were intact. But we were not OK. And I had a choice. Let go of everything and trust God, or keep trying to hold it all together and ultimately end up losing everything. Multitasking was not working. Neither was pretending everything was fine. I felt helpless…broken hearted…and I could not write one thing. Writing for me had always been like praying. It was my way of pouring my heart out to the Lord on paper, and of seeing for myself what was in there. And during this period of my life I had no words….and for the first time in my life, I did not want any. I could not connect with others, read the latest blog, or even read my own. Reading my own words sounded hollow to me, and made my heart ache even more. I did not want to visit or receive visitors. I went places begrudgingly and did not stay long. We were struggling with something that had taken place right up under our nose…in our home…we had no idea…and we were devastated!!! So, I could not even write a post saying goodbye for a time. I had no warning that I would awake and the lifetime of words that I had taken for granted would be gone. They just left. Exiting stage right. And what remained, standing center stage, spotlight on and nowhere to hide was my heartbeat. And for about seven months it was the only steady reminder that I was alive.
When I sat down today and opened my computer I had no idea if this day would be like any other…like so many others where the words had failed to come…failed to be given…or given and I failed to receive. I brought my hands up to type out something…anything…and this time…the words began to flow. My silence was broken! And not only my mind was screaming this but my heart seemed to be aware also!! I have sat here often over the past nine months. Looking at this computer with no words coursing through my fingertips. I have looked back over blog posts and comments. I have examined myself…my heart for many things, this blog included. I have reevaluated my love and committment to Christ and what He has created me to do. I have witnessed myself taking the easy way out on here and posting recipes and how-to posts instead of the State of Emergency Posts that scream from within. (Nothing is wrong with those posts. I love reading and learning from them. They are just not what he has given me to do.) I have come to realize that it took a state of emergency within my own family to open my eyes to how gracious God really is…and how fleeting time really is. I know I may not be making much sense, but I am simply typing as it comes and praying someone is blessed by this.
I discovered something as my life began to balance out; My crisis was not about me. It was not about my family or my children. It was about Him. It was about you. You see, I was born with words as my gift. The ability to communicate using them…to convey feeling and stir emotions…to paint beautiful works of art that communicate the heart of, while simultaneously speaking to, the spirit and soul of women everywhere…that is my gift. I was hardwired with words within my heart that flowed from my soul. I have been writing since I was nine years old, and I have alway, and I mean alway, taken this gift for granted. I discovered that I have kept it buried much like the unwise steward did in Luke 19:20-26;
“But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’ “‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ “‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten pounds!” “‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”
I rediscovered volumes and volumes, boxes and boxes of things I had written over the years. From poems to stories to study guides…it’s all there…BURIED! Is this making sense to you? It was because I was in a deep dark place in my life that the words dried up, and it was because the words dried up that I had to search for what I had already written, and it was because I searched for what was written and buried through the years that my soul and my spirit were revived upon finding them, and it was because my soul and my spirit were revived that I sat down today and the words that I had taken for granted,buried
and reused to share with the world…returned. But it began with a crisis!!! If God had not allowed it…if he had not allowed me to become stranded in a dark place…if he had not left me there at center stage with the heat of the spotlight on and no relief in sight and only the sound of my own heart beating to let me know that I was alive…If he had never allowed the words that have always been there for comfort in my mind and in my heart to dry up then I would have never searched for them…I would have never searched for Him! And I would not have found Him.
Can I ask you a question? What crisis do you find yourself in today? What pit of despair, what valley, what deep darkness are you experiencing right now? What have you hidden there, in that place??? What treasure has God given to you…what glory has he woven into your DNA…what is the fruit that he intended for your life to bear that you have buried deep within your soul where the only way that you could ever retrieve it is if the Lord allowed you to become stuck there with no way out other than it be revealed to Him???? Whatever your crisis, it is not to kill you. It is to make you more like Him. It is to show you the value the Lord placed on your life before you were even born. This crisis is designed to bring out the best of Him through you.
During the past nine months life has gone on. It seemed to come to a stop longer for me than it did for anyone else in our home. I know that our nightmare is one that has been faced by many throughout the years. We are not the only ones. But in those moments last Summer, I felt like we were. Like I was. Like they were. I want you to know that I am being deliberately vague with the details here. Even if I were to share them, I fear that the sharing of the details could cause some to miss the point that I want to convey. At the same time, deliberate vagueness has been known to lead others to speculate, gossip and/or spread lies. I hope that it leads not one of you to do any of the above. My prayer is that we would all learn to look at our crisis differently…that we would begin to see them for what they really are: The way to becoming more like him.
So no more hiding. No more taking the easy way out. In one of my darkest places I discovered a lifetime of buried gifts…buried words, and I plan to clean them off and put them to good use…lest the words be taken and given to someone else….
I pray someone found encouragement through these words. I will see you soon.
While it has been ages since I have posted here, I could not resist the urging to share this. Let those who have ears to hear…..
Originally posted on The Last Hiker:
Last year the History Channel featured the epic television event, “The Bible Series,” which was produced by Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett. This show captivated audiences and became the talk of many churches. Churches even purchased pre-written sermons to go along with the show, which according to outreach.com made it into 180,000 churches.
Roma and Mark were endlessly interviewed in Christian magazines, and on Christian radio. All along saying that they were sold out Christians and believers filled with the Holy Spirit.
And the churches bought it.
They promoted it.
And yet, as I watched “The Bible Series,” I personally became furious at how much they twisted the word of God. Not just omitting things for the sake of time–but changing the theme, the message, and the nature of Bible characters, and the nature of God Himself.
That is unforgivable.
God will judge that.
I was furious.
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