A Conversation with Malcolm X and Dr. King

“It seems to me,” said Dr. King,

“That one can fight with words of strife and call it civil rights,

Especially when a people must live in fear of the violent white knight.

But Justice cannot be enforced with unified national pride,

Justice is enforced with peaceful national stride.”

 

“That’s to no affect,” said Malcolm X.,

“The White Man has conditioned us to fear his knight,

We must condition his knight to fear our approach to civil rights.

If it is in word or deed, we will attack with variety.

So while you stride, though I do not oblige,

I will stand with pride, and address our soulful cries.

Unity begins in the mind.

So until the whites are willing to unify,

We stand together.

In a country that needs Black Pride…”

 

“It seems to me,” said Dr. King,

“That where there is division, there will always be intolerance;

Where there is intolerance, there will always be violence;

Where there is violence, there will be war,

And where there is war, peace cannot be a present force.

So let us not desert our country for our own racial good,

But rather rally together, black and white,

To create a country that speaks to human rights.

For injustice against one people is a battle for all to fight.

 

“That’s to no affect,” said Malcolm X,

“I speak not for intolerance, violence or war,

And I agree that human rights are a fight worth fighting for.

But here and now there is a voice that should be heard,

The voice of a race that was dumbed liked a caged bird,

Blinded by ignorance,

Maimed by hate.

Paralyzed by the legislation of our racist Southern States.

This voice can no longer remain silent,

This voice can no longer sit,

This voice can no longer walk,

And this voice needs more than a simple boycott.

We must remember that the White Man has made himself our adversary,

So as for me and my house, we will act ‘by any means necessary.’”

 

“It seems to me,” said Dr. King —

 

“That’s to no affect,” said Malcolm X




“When Peace Becomes Obnoxious”

A Reflection on the Siege of the U.S. Capitol by Domestic Terrorists

Lord, public shame belongs to us, our kings, our leaders, and our fathers, because we have sinned against you. – Daniel 9:8 (CSB)

On January 6, 2021 Democracy was attacked. While Senators and House Representatives debated the electoral votes from the state of Arizona, domestic terrorists scaled the walls of the U.S. Capitol. Shattering windows and breaking doors, insurrectionists entered the offices of elected officials and even illegally entered the Senate floor. A most egregious act was to see an anarchist standing from the very podium only moments earlier Vice President Mike Pence and Madam Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood.

Framed as a “March for Trump” with self-proclaimed protestors decrying voter fraud and mistrust in the electoral process, the nation could not help but compare the treatment of Black Lives Matter protestors to how police dealt with the anarchists who only yesterday lived to tell of how they illegally broke into a federal building vandalizing the edifice and the private property of elected officials.

America Has Not Changed

This was not a display of liberty. This was not a display of justice. The concern of these terrorists was not national peace nor the integrity of our electoral process. Yesterday’s violence was a result of eight years of a Black president, four years of a Trump presidency, and the election of the country’s first Black and Indian, female Vice President. The anger, vitriol, and ignorance espoused from these terrorists is an outgrowth of the racist, bigoted rhetoric exemplified by the President of these yet to be United States.

This siege of the U.S. Capitol revealed to the world that White nationalism remains the greatest threat to democracy and political progress here in America. It further solidifies that White supremacist terror is not a figment of the American imagination, a memory of the country of old. This mutiny may have been incited by President Trump, but it was fueled by the wounds of a lost Civil War exactly 160 years ago.

As a White nationalist walked the Confederate flag through the halls of the U.S. Capitol it became clear to me that some Americans are still reeling over the loss of the Civil War. White supremacists and the descendants of the confederate leaders of the American South are still grieved over the federal mandate of the emancipation of enslaved Africans. They are still enraged over decades of society’s attempt to embrace and acknowledge the humanity of Blacks, the Indigenous, and other people of color.

“When Peace Becomes Obnoxious”

How American leaders and citizens respond to this moment will either show our courage or our cowardice. Now, is not the time to cry aloud for a peace that longs for the absence of tension. Exactly 8 days before the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 11 days before his national holiday, I am reminded of a sermon he delivered in Montgomery, AL on March 18, 1956 entitled, “When Peace Becomes Obnoxious.”

Delivered the day before his trial for violating Alabama’s anti-boycott law, King declared, “peace is not merely the absence of…tension, but the presence of justice.” As he continues, his words seem to resound as the courageous reminder we all need to hear: “And even if we didn’t have this tension, we still wouldn’t have positive peace. Yes, it is true that if the Negro accept this place, accepts exploitation, and injustice, there will be peace. But it would be an obnoxious peace. It would be a peace that boiled down to stagnant complacity, deadening passivity. And if peace means this, I don’t want peace.”

I can’t help but agree. For if peace means the objection of a Biden-Harris administration, then I don’t want peace. If peace means the rejection of Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, then I don’t want peace. If peace means the acceptance of government corruption, then I don’t want peace. If peace means turning a blind eye to White supremacist terror, then I don’t want peace. If peace means four more years of Donald Trump as President of the United States, then I don’t want peace.

True Peace

The peace I long for my country is the peace Jesus speaks of John 14:27 when he says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” The peace of Jesus is a security in Him, His power, His presence, His just kingdom. It is not a peace that seeks to escape or avoid tension. But instead, it is, as Dr. King wrote a “peace [that] is the presence of positive good.”

So, as we reflect upon the events of yesterday some in shock, horror, dismay, and others a numb nonchalance accustom to such violence, my lament for us is that we do not run from these moment. “Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” Now is not the time to backdown on the work of justice. Now, more than ever do we need a peace that does not shrink in cowardice, but stands in the face of aggression; stands in the face of racism; stands in the face of anarchy; stands though the heavens fall and remains steadfast to the work of producing “the presence of positive good.”

My Prayer

I close with the final words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon: “Our Father God, who dost overarch our fleeting years with thine eternity and dost undergird our weakness with thy strength, in the midst of the pressures of another day, as we face its vast concerns. Above all else save us from succumbing to the tragic temptation of becoming cynical.”

This is my prayer…in Jesus name,

Amen.




“The Greatest Gift of All” by George Powell

It is with immense joy, pride, and excitement that we at Message present to you, again, George Powell singing his original song, “The Greatest Gift of All.” Powell wrote the verses and Chester Baldwin wrote the chorus. This song is going to make you feel warm, worship, cry, and want nothing more than be able to download this gem on all your music platforms. May this song remind you that this season, Jesus truly is the greatest gift of all. Be blessed.




What’s the Message Clip #9 with Just John & April

Check out clip #9 that made it in our Top 10 Countdown of greatest moments from #WhatsTheMessage. In episode 21 entitled, Black Love, @justjohnandapril talk to us about politics in relationships. Click on the following link to watch the full episode: https://youtu.be/zTLWrDD4QX0

https://www.facebook.com/Messagemagazine/videos/833668927204991




Gingerbread Pancakes by Cooking with Jacob

Today, we are so excited to partner with Jacob Case, a 9 year-old who, according to his @cookingwithjacob9 instagram account, loves “cooking and eating.” We are here to tell you that this original and creative recipe is one you absolutely want to try with your family for the holiday season. For many of us celebrating Christmas in quarantine, this Gingerbread Pancakes recipe will certainly brighten up your holiday season. Check out Jacob’s cooking tutorial and the recipe below. But keep your eyes out for Jacob’s forthcoming book Cooking with Jacob: A Quarantine Inspired Recipe Book. 

Combine the following dry Ingredients in a mixing bowl

1.5 cup All-Purpose flour

½ tsp allspice

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbs baking powder

3 tsp ground ginger

 

Whisk the following wet Ingredients in a separate bowl

¼ cup melted butter

2 eggs

2 tbs molasses

2 tbs brown sugar

1.5 cup butter milk or 1 cup of regular milk

Cooking spray or butter

 

Toppings: Blueberries, Raspberries Maple Syrup

Pour wet ingredients unto dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until fully blended in and no evidence of dry flour. On medium or low heat coat skillet with butter or cooking spray and pour ¼ cup batter onto the skillet/pan. Cook pancakes on each side for about 2 minutes on medium heat or until cooked (these pancakes are thick and fluffy). Cut with gingerbread man shape and top with the berries mixed with maple syrup then dust with powdered sugar.




The Truth About Religious Liberty

In this sense, any religious organization seeking legal recourse to resist and reverse stay-at-home orders for the purpose of “religious liberty”; any religious leader endangering thousands by promoting large gatherings for the purpose of worship and spreading a religious message; or any religious movement explicitly aligning itself with one political party and rejecting the central characteristic of Democracy in its belief in a peaceful transition of power, is not advocating “religious liberty” or the freedom of religion, but is actually advocating a more sinister agenda rooted int he exercise of religious authoritarianism.

But what about those who do not believe that Jesus Christ is God? Do they have rights that protect their religious beliefs also? Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” In essence, at the very center of the Judeo-Christian God’s being is that of freedom of choice. All of humanity has the right to choose or not to choose God. Therefore, any expression of Christianity that seeks to force all persons to accept Jesus Christ as God ministers outside of the scope and example given in the Bible.

While enforced Christianity has been the global historical practice, the personhood of God has not been in favor of it. From the Garden of Eden in Genesis to the New Jerusalem of Revelation, the Bible reveals that the Judeo-Christian God is intent on creating space for humanity to choose who they believe is God, and how they will worship that God.

This is the true heart of religious liberty and the freedom of religion. It is the idea that all men have the right to exercise their understanding of spirituality and faith to the God of their choosing under the dictates of their own conscious. And this space of choice, while deeply uncomfortable for Christians, is at the heart of the character of their God. The God of the Bible that I read is one that desires that Jesus’s character be revealed in the actions and speech of His believers so persuasively that any who do not believe choose to believe because they are attracted to the lifestyle, character, and service of His believers. Not by the legislated or culturally coerced enactments of religious leaders.




What’s the Message Clip #10

I’m sure you’re still getting use to not joining us for #WhatsTheMessage on Thursdays at 11am. Well, check out this clip from episode 5: Trump and Evangelicals with Orlan Johnson. Click on the link to watch the full episode https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsRpgILr9Aw

https://www.facebook.com/Messagemagazine/videos/219434533065649




Christmas in Quarantine with Committed

We are so excited to kick off our “Christmas in Quarantine” with Committed. You’ll love this acapella group’s rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear” arranged by Armand Hutton. Thank you to Roberto Burton for allowing us to share this music with our audience. And thank you to Committed for being supporters of and contributors to Message Magazine.

Be sure to check out Committed’s YouTube Channel for more amazing music, and download their Christmas Album “Home For Christmas” to listen to this song and more.

Like Message Magazine on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and Twitter @Message1898, and subscribe to our YouTube Channel by clicking on the link below.




5 Ways to Enjoy a Socially Distanced Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is Very Different

Coronavirus COVID-19 has taken a lot from us this year. Seniors lost the joys of graduation. Grandparents lost the intimacy of family visits. Children lost the normalcy of playing with friends. And millions lost jobs and loved ones due to the potency of the virus.

But as I woke up on this Thanksgiving Day, I couldn’t help but realize that we’ve lost something else. A day based on a troubling past for Native peoples, Thanksgiving is very different this year. Typically, American families gather together with those whom they haven’t seen all year to eat a huge feast and celebrate what they’re thankful for. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the CDC recommends that we celebrate the day exclusively with those who live in our immediate households. They report that:

more than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States in the last 7 days. As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with. Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.

In other words, COVID-19 has even taken Thanksgiving for many. But in spite of disappoint surrounding this the day is meant for giving thanks. How can we remain cheerful and not dwell on the immense grief and loss?

5 Ways to Enjoy a Socially Distanced Thanksgiving

1. Zoom or FaceTime with your friends and family

One of the hardest things to do is be away from family that you typically see on Thanksgiving. But sometimes it’s best to prioritize your family member’s health, than your desire to physically be in their presence. Because of this, while it might not be advantageous for you to gather around the table you can always call. Technology has come to the point where you can video chat family from anywhere around the world. Find some time for everyone to hop on a zoom call and laugh and talk together.

2. Spend the day mourning

The truth is this is tough. There’s no getting around it. Particularly for many of you who lost family members due to COVID-19. Coming to a holiday and now having to reflect on how your dad use to cut the turkey, or how your mom made the best dish, or your brother cracked the best jokes, or your cousin brought the best desserts is not easy. While today is about giving thanks, it’s also important to feel your feelings. Don’t pretend. If today is emotionally difficult for you, that’s ok. It is perfectly normal and even healthy to mourn on Thanksgiving. Particularly when you’re in the middle of a pandemic.

3. Cook all your favorite dishes

Listen, cooking makes me happy. Eating makes me happy. So one of the best ways I am going to enjoy this day is to eat all my favorites. Whatever you love to eat with all your family make that today. Especially for those of you who are single and may live alone. If you can’t get around a table of friends or family, who says you can’t eat and enjoy yourself! Make yourself a personal feast, call your friends and family, and enjoy relaxing and reflecting today.

4. Watch some of your favorite shows or movies

Another Thanksgiving great is to watch amazing shows or movies. Every year my family kicks off the holidays with movies on Thanksgiving. We start with the Sound of Music and end on December 25th with White Christmas. Today is a great day to tune in to some awesome old movie classics and start your holiday film marathon. Great music and laughter always make a difficult day better.

5. Spend time in prayer and God’s Word

A critical practice for today is time in prayer and God’s Word. Like I said before, Thanksgiving is very different, the times in which we live are very different, and so time in the presence of God is critical. Listen for His voice. Talk to Him about what you’re disappointed about, but also praise Him for what you’re thankful for. Situations like this are always hard because we believe that God is distant. But God is only distant in these moments when we fail to bring Him close. Bring God into the close, intimate places in your heart today as you navigate a very different Thanksgiving.




Saving Lives

What the Bible Has to Say About Suicide

Depression is subtle. It has a way of sneaking up on you. You’re not quite sure when, how, or why it comes, but you can’t seem to get from under it. It’s more than sadness. More than disappointment. Depression is a shroud of darkness around you, even though the sun is shinning. It’s a thousand weighted blankets on top of you holding you captive to your thoughts. It’s quicksand. The moment you step in you feel trapped, and the more you move the deeper you sink.

Matt Adler, a successful attorney, husband, and father of two young children found himself sinking in the sands of depression. The winter of 2011 was plagued with great economic peril causing Matt great anxiety, sleepless nights, and reportedly, a “crumbling loss of self-esteem.” Seeking help from both a psychologist and a psychiatrist, his wife Dr. Jennifer Stuber, a public health expert at the University of Washington, recalls how “No one took the signs seriously. The psychiatrist seemed almost annoyed.”

Matt drove himself to a local gun shop. He’d never owned or fired a gun in his life. With no record of criminal or violent behavior, Matt passed the legal background check. A couple of hours later, Matt used that gun to kill himself. He was 40 years old.

The Morning News

On Tuesday, November 17th Roni Caryn Rabin’s article “‘How Did We Not Know?’ Gun Owners Confront a Suicide Epidemic” was published in The New York Times. Rabin reports how “according to national health statistics, 24,432 Americans used guns to kill themselves in 2018, up from 19,392 in 2010.” In fact, while statistics estimate that gun violence kills approximately 40,000 Americans, causing us to focus on issues like murder, mass shootings, and accidental deaths, Rabin writes that “these account for little more than one-third of the nation’s firearms fatalities. The majority of gun deaths are suicides — and just over half of suicides involve guns.”

While researchers are adamant about the fact that suicide attempts and completion have not increased during the pandemic, particularly in response to Jake Tapper’s recent error in tweeting an inaccurate report claiming “suicide figures are up 200% since lockdown, they do acknowledge that there has been an increase in the number of Americans reporting symptoms of depression. Julia Musto reports in an article for the New York Post that “Forty-seven percent of people with a household income of less than $20,000 and 41 percent of people with household savings under $5,000 said they had experienced symptoms of depression.” In addition, the FBI, according to NPR, reports of “a new record of 3.9 million background checks to purchase or possess firearms in June. That eclipsed the previous record set in March of 3.7 million background checks.”

With a steady rise in gun sales, coronavirus deaths, unemployment, and the disappointment around not seeing family for the holidays due to travel restrictions or death, we must be more aware of those around us struggling with suicide. Rabin reports of how researchers like Dr. Stuber and former Marine, gun owners like Brett Bass, are teaming up to save lives. Bass and Stuber believe that everything from gun retailers asking more questions of first-time gun buyers to gun owners putting locks on their firearms could give someone “enough time to maybe change [their] mind.”

What Does the Bible Say About Suicide?

After reading these news reports, the question that came to my mind is: what does the Bible have to say about suicide? Public Health researchers like Dr. Stuber and gun owners like Brett Bass are doing everything they can to disrupt the link between gun ownership and suicide. But, does the Bible have anything to say about it? Can the Bible help save a life contemplating suicide?

The Seven Suicides

There are seven accounts of suicide or attempted suicide in the Bible. The first is found in Judges 9:54 where Abimelech, after wounded by a woman who crushed his skull by dropping a millstone on his head, cried out saying, “draw your sword and kill me, or they’ll say about me, ‘a woman killed him.’” So, Abimelech’s armor-bearer killed him.

King Abimelech was not the only leader in the book of Judges that displayed suicidal thoughts. In Judges 16:21–31 we find the story of Israel’s strongest Judge Samson. After being deceived by Delilah, Samson is captured by the Philistines, they gouge out his eyes, bind him with bronze shackles, and force him to grind grain in prison. While worshiping their god Dagon, the Philistines bring Samson out to mock and taunt him. Standing between two pillars, Samson prays, “Lord, God, please remember me. Strengthen me, God, just once more. With one act of vengeance, let me pay back the Philistines for my two eyes.” Pushing against the pillars of the temple Samson concludes declaring, “let me die with the Philistines.” And the judge dies with his oppressors.

In the heat of war, 1 Samuel 31:4-6 records how King Saul was losing to the Philistine army. So he turned to his armor-bearer and said, “draw your sword and run me through with it, or these uncircumcised men will come and run me through and torture me!” The Bible says that Saul’s armor-bearer was too afraid to complete the request. So “Saul took his sword and fell on it.” After seeing that his leader was dead, the amor-bearer also fell on his sword killing himself.

In 2 Samuel 17:23 we read the story of Ahithophel, an advisor to King David’s son Absalom, who once Absalom rejected any more of his counsel “set his house in order” and hanged himself.

Even King Zimri, a man who was king for seven days in Tirzah, once realizing the Philistines would soon over power him, set his palace on fire with himself inside dying amidst the flames.

There is only one clear example of suicide in the New Testament found in Matthew 27:3–10. There, the writer shares the story of how Judas hanged himself over the immense grief and remorse felt for cooperating in Jesus’ execution.

Jonah’s Suicide Attempt

If you were counting, that’s only six stories. The last I’d like to draw your attention to is found in Jonah 1:11–15. In these verses we read about a prophet who God has given the command to go and preach to the people in Nineveh so that they may repent and turn away from their evil practices. Jonah refuses and flees to the city of Tarshish.

While on a ship to Tarshish God sends a storm on the sea with great winds that almost break the boat. Upon realizing that he is to blame for this great storm, Jonah asks the men to throw him overboard. Initially, the men refuse and simply keep trying to row to dry land. With no reprieve, the men prayed, “Lord, don’t let us perish because of this man’s life, and don’t charge us with innocent blood! For you, Lord, have done just as you pleased.” And they threw Jonah overboard.

Some Bible scholars count this story in Jonah as a suicide attempt. For example, Geoffrey Bromiley’s International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines suicide as “The taking of one’s own life, or causing it to be taken by another, regardless of motive, circumstances, or method used.” Based on this definition he cites the six examples I mentioned above, along with Jonah.

In the story of Jonah’s suicide attempt, though, what is encouraging for us to know is that God intervened and prevented the completion of Jonah’s attempt. In fact, the Bible says in Jonah 1:17, “The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” In other words, Jonah attempted to reject God’s will for his life either by detour or death. But Jonah’s suicide attempt did not anger God. Instead, it caused God to step in and save him.

Live For God

I believe God saved Jonah because in the Bible we learn that God does not desire His followers to die for Him. On the contrary, He wants them to live for Him. Paul writes in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.” During the time of antiquity many of the cultural religions taught that the gods required a blood sacrifice. So, many sacrificed women, children, anyone deemed necessary killing them on an altar as a sacrifice to the gods. Paul is countering this by declaring that the God who made the Heavens and the Earth, He does not require a blood sacrifice. He is not wanting you to die for Him. He actually wants you to live for Him.

It is in living for God that your life is a daily act of sacrifice and worship. In this sense, suicidal ideation and even suicidal attempts do not anger God. What God sees is someone who is overwhelmed like Jonah; someone who is filled with guilt like Judas; someone who is overcome with fear like Saul; even someone who is overcome by purpose like Samson. And when God sees this in us He is not angered He is moved to compassion.

In the story of Jonah we see God send a big fish to save Jonah, but in the story of Jesus we see God Himself walking amongst humanity seeking to heal and restore. See, when God sees broken people, He seeks to save. When God sees broken people, He seeks to restore. When God sees broken people, He seeks to make them whole. God wants to save and heal you so that you have the strength and courage to live for Him. That is God’s response to suicide.

The Takeaway

And so no matter what is going on in the world. No matter what has you feeling overwhelmed, afraid, filled with guilt, grief, or worthlessness, know that God desires nothing more than that you live and as Jesus says in John 10:10 “have life more abundantly.” Please don’t take your life. Know that there is a God in Heaven who loves you in all of your uniqueness. He believes that the greatest gift you could ever give Him is to live and live more abundantly.

*If you or someone who know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, depression, or anxiety encourage them to get the help they need. Be with them. Talk with them. Love them. Recommend a counselor. And always share the Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, where a counselor is available 24/7 to help: 800–273–8255. Also check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to learn more about how you can help save a life. Click here for the link.