Martin Luther King Jr., 50 Years Beyond the Dream

Fifty years beyond the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., America is in stage four denial.

 

“I Have a Dream . . . Nightmare.”

“I Have a Dream!” Such pathos and poetry! Such eloquent inflections! Such skillful blending of patriotic themes that celebrate the past and provide hope for the future!

Why would anyone kill a man over a dream like that? Or, was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s demise due to the nightmare he shared in a May 8, 1967 NBC interview?

“I must confess that dream I had that day has in many points turned into a nightmare. . . Some of the old optimism was a little superficial and now it must be tempered with a solid realism.”

What realities were tempering King’s optimism? How did the dream devolve into a nightmare in 3 ½ years? And what led 72% of whites and 55% of blacks to view him unfavorably by the end of his life?

Can I Get a Second Opinion? Yeah, you’re ugly too.

On April 4, 1967, Dr. King diagnosed America with three interrelated, terminal diseases: racism, extreme materialism, and militarism. His speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” argued that the war in Vietnam had undermined the War on Poverty, and subverted the nonviolent means of problem solving he had been advocating for a dozen years. One of the most shocking soundbites the audience of 3,000 took home that day was when King described the U.S. government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

That exercise of dissident patriotism at the Riverside Church in New York doesn’t get much attention today. However, the nation whose soul he sought to save took its diagnosis very hard and even exhibited some common grief symptoms: shock, denial, and anger. Many civil rights advocates abandoned him. President Lyndon Johnson reportedly called him that “g-dd–n ni**er preacher,” and over 100 newspapers published scathing rebukes of their formerly preferred civil rights spokesperson. It is truly a sick person that seeks remedy through killing his physician, but that’s what Uncle Sam did one year later. To. The. Day.

Are the triplets still alive?

So where are we 50 years after the death of King? Especially given how modern public opinion polls have virtually granted him sainthood? Is American approval of him due to the nation having achieved the dream? Or is it because we have “sterilized,” “deodorized,” and as Cornel West terms in Black Prophetic Fire, “Santaclausified,” Dr. King by burying his diagnosis along with his body? Are “the giant triplets” (as he referred to them) of racism, materialism, and militarism still stalking the globe?

Militarism? The U.S. has spent over $4 trillion on Post-911 wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan. Most of the monetary costs for the conflicts have been financed by debt. The debt alone is scheduled to reach $7.9 trillion by 2053.

United States war spending since 911. What does that kind of money look like anyway? https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/clip_image001.gif

What about the human cost? Approximately 2.7 million U.S. service members have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan conflicts since 2001, leaving nearly 7,000 dead. Additionally, 970,000 of those veterans have an officially recognized disability. As tragic as those numbers are, they are dwarfed by the 218,000 dead civilians; over 81,000 wounded civilians; along with 10.1 million refugees and internally displaced civilians of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. Do we really want to see what that looks like? Maybe we should all have to see it, feel it—so we can stop it.

The military-industrial complex: In addition to U.S. military presence in countries with major conflicts, there are presently 686 American bases in 74 foreign countries. America accounts for 36% of the world’s military spending. The U.S. military annually outspends the next 8 countries (including China and Russia) combined. Doesn’t seem like we’ve taken President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning about the military-industrial complex seriously, let alone the more radical demands of Dr. King.

What about racism and economic exploitation? We could investigate the militarized police use of attack dogs, water cannons, sonic cannons, tear gas, and other brutal tactics against Native Americans in North Dakota—because of oil. We could expose the resegregation of schools and gentrification of communities. We could examine the disparities in our criminal justice system with its Wall Street traded, privatized prisons. We could explore the sophisticated means of syphoning money from urban public schools to fund suburban, private schools. We can continue to shake our heads that Arizona’s concentration camp commandant, Joe Arpaio, got pardoned despite his contempt for humanity and the rule of law. We could catalog the list of insults toward the first black president—including the ascent of his successor, whose political career was founded on “birtherism.” Or we could just renew W.E.B. Dubois’s statement to say that the problem of the twenty-first century is still the problem of the color line.

Are the triplets invincible?

The triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are about to meet their match. Revelation 14:6-12 depicts three angels screaming through mid-air on a collision course with the triplets. Their message is diametrically opposed to racism and brings good news to the disinherited. They remind us that as children of the Creator, we are sisters and brothers who must resist any nationalistic fervor that degrades the human family. These triplet slayers announce that The Judgment has begun and this Judge shows no partiality, regardless of any individual’s or nation’s exceptionalism. Your only hope is to meet Him at the foot of the cross for a plea deal.

Another angel in Revelation 18 adds his force to the chapter 14 trio, and is more explicit about the dramatic fall of Babylon’s worldwide reach. She’ll be forced to drink a figurative cup of the wrath of God—double strength. All the misery caused through materialism and militarism, so the privileged can bask in luxury on the backs of the masses, will be her double portion. No ice. No lemon. No chaser. Nobody does payback like God.

So where do we go from here?

Join the spirit of prophetic resistance—break silence when the image of God is being desecrated by the inhuman treatment of one group to another. Pray that God will transform your life into a sample of the coming Kingdom. Be the change you want to see. Break the cycle of consumerism in your own life: stop buying things you don’t need to impress people who don’t like you with money you don’t have. Seek to share, serve, recycle. Remember that if God is for you, no one can prevail against you. The promise is, “He who is within you is greater than he that is in the world.” The question is, have you invited the Spirit of God to abide within you?

 




Why Pastors Took a Knee for the NFL Blackout

Long before Debleaire Snell became a pastor, he was a football fan. He played in a Pop Warner league as a child and intramural football in college.

“I grew up as a Florida State fan,” Snell said. As for the NFL, he was a full-time fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But during the Jimmy Johnson-era when Florida players such as Michael Irvin were being drafted, he became a part-time Dallas Cowboy fan. “Part-time,” he stressed.

But Snell, senior pastor of the 2000-plus member First SDA Church in Huntsville, Alabama, is punting his interest in the NFL to the sidelines this season. Like many, he believes former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been blacklisted by the NFL for taking a knee during the national anthem last season. And he also agrees with the reason for the quarterback’s protest: opposition to police brutality that disproportionately affects people of color.

So Snell created Black0ut NFL, a social media video campaign and community project designed to encourage others to withhold their support of the league unless Kaepernick is signed to a team. He said he was hoping to create a local grassroots movement, so he reached out to other influential pastors in Huntsville.

“We speak more powerfully with a collective voice than with an individual voice,” he explained.

The Blackout NFL video that features him, other Huntsville pastors and Dr. Leslie Pollard, president of the Huntsville-based Oakwood University, became a social media sensation. One of the YouTube postings of the video had been viewed more than 8 million times by mid-September, 2017.

God just put the wind underneath it, and caused it to really take flight, Snell said.

San Francisco 49ers Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick, and Eric Reid assuming postures of protest before a 2016 game. Their silent, peaceful protest against police brutality inspired pastors to follow suit: “Essentially, it created a grief in my soul. Brothers gunned down in the street look like me, when I’m not in a suit and tie,” said Debleaire Snell. “[In] Isaiah, God calls Israel to speak for them that don’t have a voice. That’s a very strong Biblical motif, speaking for those who have been marginalized, been shut out in society. That is the righteous cause at hand.”

Of course, believing the NFL owners have colluded to blacklist Kaepernick and proving it are two different things. But many believe it because Kaepernick once was one of the League’s hottest quarterbacks. Over his six years with the 49ers, he made it to three post-seasons, including appearances in two NFC championship games and one Super Bowl.

Additionally, analysis done by the Undefeated website shows that Kaepernick’s career statistics far exceed most of the 37 quarterbacks who have signed with teams since he left the 49ers earlier this year. In fact, 21 of those quarterbacks literally have no statistical data at all from last season. They are unproven commodities, something that can’t be said about Kaepernick.

Dr. Carlton Byrd, senior pastor of the 2,000-plus members of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, agrees. So when Snell called him to participate in the NFL Blackout video, he was more than willing to participate.

“You’re telling me of the nearly 30 NFL franchises, that he can’t even get on as a third-string quarterback?” Byrd asked rhetorically.

Juxtapose the NFL’s cold shoulder to Kaepernick with the NBA’s reaction to protests by its players. In 2010 for example, the Phoenix Suns donned “Los Suns” jerseys to protest Arizona’s controversial HB 1070 anti-immigration law.

Robert Sarver, the Suns’ managing partner, made the decision with unanimous support from the players. “The frustration with the federal government’s failure to deal with the issue of illegal immigration resulted in passage of a flawed state law,” Sarver said in a statement issued by the Suns. “However intended, the result of passing this law is that our basic principles of equal rights and protection under the law are being called into question, and Arizona’s already struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the state can ill-afford them.”

  Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, then the Suns’ general manager, compared one provision of the now failed law to “images of Nazi Germany.” All of that—pointed political statements from an owner, players and a team executive—and not a peep from the NBA. No sanctions or fines. And no blacklisting.

Snell and others believe that the NFL is guilty of a blatant disregard for the people of color who comprise a significant portion of its fan base and team rosters. In fact, only 27.4 percent of NFL players were white in 2016—which means that most of the league’s players arguably have very personal reasons to be concerned about police brutality.

We’re not satisfied, but again, our protest is process driven, not outcome driven. This is something we have to do for ourselves to communicate to them. You cannot show loyalties to institutions or systems that disregard your values and issues that have meaning and relevance to your community and you.–NFL Blackout protest organizer Debleaire Snell. (Second from left, with group of Huntsville, Alabama pastors)

“We’ve been living with this tension of black and brown people being shot, killed, (and) brutalized while unarmed at the hands of police and law enforcement, without any repercussions, for several years,” Snell said.

Consider Michael Bennett’s encounter with police this past August. While the Seattle Seahawk was not shot, killed or brutalized, he certainly was traumatized by Las Vegas police officers. Apparently Bennett was Black at the wrong place and time—coming out of a boxing match when shots were fired—which resulted in Bennett being handcuffed, forced to lay face-first on the ground, and a gun placed to his head.

Later, when the officers realized who he was, he was released. Bennett recounted the incident in a Twitter post that included this blunt and raw assessment: “No matter how much money you make, what job title you have, or how much you give, when you are seen as a “N—ger,” you will be treated that way.”

Snell’s Black0ut NFL movement is more than viral social media videos. He and his church have launched a mentoring program that he says will continue whether or not Kaepernick gets picked up by a team. But there’s no question that 

the quarterback’s decision to take a knee inspired Snell’s decision to extend the protest to churches and other people of conscience.

“When we see Colin Kaepernick take a knee in one of the largest venues in the United States, that resonates with us,” he said.

 

 

 

…......…………………………………………………………………

DAVID PERSON is the owner of DavidPersonMedia, LLC. Since 1986, he has been working as a broadcaster, journalist, documentary director, and media consultant.




How to Take a Stand

Former Public Official Denounced for Sermons Found More Faith in the Fight

It was never my intention to preach, but the pastor who influenced my decision to study at Oakwood University, prophesied that one day I would. It was there that I learned that my first profession must always be my profession of faith.

After I completed medical school, two residencies, a masters and doctorate in public health, God opened doors. I landed my dream job running the health department in Pasadena, California.

As Director/Health Officer for the health department, our initiatives succeeded. We passed ordinances banning smoking in apartment buildings to protect neighbors from drifting second hand smoke. We instituted policy that required vending machines to meet certain nutritional standards while I promoted a whole-food, plant-based (animal product free) diet.

I am most proud of our work providing services for lower income individuals living with HIV/AIDS. We built a dental clinic for HIV patients and expanded services for HIV care by millions of dollars as well as adding dozens of jobs. Care for this population is personal, as a childhood friend succumbed to this terrible disease.

Anchor in Soon-Coming Storm

While working in Pasadena, I helped pastor a church in Altadena. It kept me anchored, though success had me slipping away from Christ. God, however, allows storms in our lives to remind us that he is our only true anchor.

My faith became an issue when I was asked to be the commencement speaker for a local college. I had no idea of the controversy with the initial speaker who was disinvited over his alleged misconduct on the Internet. That speaker was a renowned, Hollywood-acclaimed alumnus. He was a prominent member of the LGBTQ community and a few students rallied to his defense. Had I known all this, I would have stepped aside to avoid drama, especially since they determined to destroy whomever the replacement speaker would be.

Students found some of my sermons online, and labeled me based on my messages. A prominent LGBTQ magazine published quotes from them, quotes taken out of context. That went viral, and a storm ensued. I was labeled a hater, unfit for scientific jobs as a creationist, and foolish for preferring my children pray to God than to “wish upon a star”. My creationist beliefs and statements against spiritualism in modern entertainment, even garnered an editorial in the Los Angeles Times. The Pasadena paper that gave me accolades for the success of the HIV dental clinic, now painted me as a brutish, bigoted monster.

When Your Convictions, Preaching and Teaching Get You In Trouble

The sermons were from youth programs and purity retreats. I have never preached a sermon on homosexuality. Yet teaching simple Bible truths will cause many to seek to quiet or destroy the messenger.

Daniel could have closed his window after the king’s edict became law to avoid the lion’s den. The three Hebrew boys could have justified bowing before the golden image to avoid the fiery furnace. Jesus could have stopped performing miracles and kept quiet to avoid death on a Roman cross. Yet, in the lion’s den Daniel showed the king who the true God is; in the fiery furnace the three Hebrew boys met Jesus, and at the cross Christ paid the ultimate price for humanity granting us the opportunity for eternal life. It takes courage not to cower from sure persecution but to hide truth to escape punishment is to fear our enemies more than we trust our God.

Though they invited me to recant my beliefs and restore my position, I couldn’t do that. In Matthew 5:9-12 Christ speaks to the trouble that will come to followers of Christ, but He promised blessings to the persecuted. I knew that what God has in store is far greater than anything man can offer or take.

It is when we feel the burn of difficulty that we are driven to our knees and rely more completely on Christ.

Blacklisted

Instead of recanting, I resigned my position. I had done nothing wrong, but as a public servant, it’s difficult to work when the media is destroying your reputation and thus the public’s trust in you. But, God had a plan.

Months earlier I applied for a job with the state of Georgia. After two successful interviews by FaceTime, I was invited to interview in person. The interview was about a week after the scandal exploded in Pasadena. I interviewed successfully and was quickly offered the position. I believed God had paved a way out of the storm. I didn’t know my trials were just beginning. Forces in California, determined I not work in public health, contacted Georgia. Soon I was on the news in Atlanta, as a “controversial” hire. A voice message from Georgia officials informed me I no longer had the position. When they failed to hang up properly I could hear them laughing at my demise. At that point I wept.

Just When You Think You’re Left Alone

Unlikely as it is, 1 Kings 19:4 became my comfort verse. Elijah the prophet, “requested for himself that he might die; and said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.’”

Some closest to me went furthest, and released a statement that distanced the denomination from me. That hurt because no one even called to hear my side of the story. I survived that dark time because many prayed for me and buoyed me with their prayers. The book of Psalms became my antidepressant and personal prayer my anxiolytic.

When news outlets called for interviews I never spoke up for myself. Many felt I was foolish and should vigorously defend my reputation and career. A voice whispered, “Like a lamb led to the slaughter is dumb, so said He not a word”. God told me to keep quiet. God would have to fight for me, fighting for myself was futile.

Pastors from other churches anointed me and prayed over me. God sent an incredible religious liberty law firm, First Liberty, to take my case and the lawyers were simply amazing.

Faith Muscles

I may be blackballed from Public Health—years of training and experience seemingly wasted—but, God has never left me. I increased my hours at a clinic where I moonlighted, as God illuminated my next steps. After the door opened for me to do missionary work in Guam, I worked there for 11 months, and considered it a great blessing.

As always, God showed up! The law firm took the initiative of restoring my reputation. Lawyers filed against the state of Georgia, and the case ultimately settled in my favor. Hopefully bi-vocational Pastors of all denominations will be protected if someone finds their sermons objectionable.

Like the muscles in our bodies that develop under resistance, so should our faith be. When everything goes smoothly, there is no stimulus to grow faith. It is when we feel the burn of difficulty that we are driven to our knees and rely more completely on Christ.

Will You Be Able to Stand?

No matter what is said of me, I worked to improve the health of many, especially patients with HIV. As a Christian physician, it is my duty to serve others as Christ did.

God allowed this trial to show that He guards His own, to set precedence protecting religious freedoms, and to grow me as a Christian. Every follower of Christ will face persecution (II Timothy 3:12). There will be no way to placate our way out of what is coming upon the commandment-keeping people of God. I pray we are able to stand. 

…......………………………………………..

ERIC WALSH, MD, MPH, DrPH., had his most important educational experience at Oakwood University. He is a practicing physician and seeks to serve the Lord through the preaching and healing ministries.




Jesus: The Priest For Whom There Are No Substitutes

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, September 25, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 09.25.2017” on Spreaker.

Devotional 12 in our series, “Removing the Veil: Sanctuary Living in the 21st Century.” Our subject is: Sanctification

Here’s the question for consideration: What are some of the differences between the Old Testament priests and our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ?

“And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them” (Exodus 19:22).

Clear Line of Difference

We have to know our limits! Don’t let this startle you, though. Even those hand picked by God to do a special, Holy work must realize our limitations. In the case of the Old Testament priests, their sin and human flesh were what made it necessary for them to be abundantly clear on their roles. Willful ignorance in that regard would have proven disastrous and fatal.

Let me demonstrate with a couple of contrasting passages from Scripture. Here’s the first: “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19). Notice the difference between the reason Jesus sanctified Himself and why the priests of old needed to be sanctified. Jesus sanctified Himself so all of His people could be sanctified through the truth. He never sinned, and thus His sanctification had nothing to do with turning away from sinful ways. God’s people’s sanctification is wrapped up, tied up, and tangled up in Jesus Christ’s victory. Our holiness comes from Him. Got it.

The priests of old were to be sanctified by God as a safeguard against His effulgent holiness destroying them instantly. If the priests were to stumble into proximity of God in the mount, let alone upon the top where He shrouded Himself in a divine cloud, their sinfulness would have made them immediate casualties. But, God was loving enough to counsel them to confess and forsake their sins. He was merciful enough to advise them to invest some time in soul searching. He was wonderful enough to teach them that appearing before Almighty God (blessed be His name) is no light matter, and that they must be fully set aside as holy before they have close contact with Him.

A Better Way. The Only Way.

This wondrous contrast between Jesus Christ, the epitome of sanctuary (our resting place), and all of the rites, ceremonies, materials, configurations, and priests of old, is what makes the plan of salvation so great! God was showing us, through the frailty of our humanity, that He is able to save to the uttermost all who will trust in Him completely.

He was showing that He was willing to condescend for the purpose of elevating us. I hope this truth is not lost on you, friends. God loves you and has called you out of darkness, into His marvelous light. He has made provisions to usher you into His presence, but you must be willing to follow His instructions as He makes you holy everyday.

Before I close, I’d like to show another contrast. This one is even more obvious than the first. Let’s break in, midway through a serious teaching in the book of Hebrews. “Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” (Hebrews 7:16).

Of Jesus, Paul taught that His priesthood is eternal, unlike the priests of old. They died and stayed dead. Jesus is the life and light of men. When His divine essence allowed His human form to die for our sins, He took up His life again. The priests died because of sin. Jesus died for our sins. The priests participated in the sacrifices of the people and needed to make sacrifices for themselves. Jesus was our sacrifice, slain from the foundations of the world. The priests sinned and needed the gift of repentance. Jesus is the sinless giver of repentance. The priesthood of old was nullified when Jesus gave His life for the ungodly. Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us.

While I am thankful for the lessons YHWH has taught us through the Old Testament perspective on salvation, I am more appreciative of the fulness, which is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.




What Happens When God Speaks, and You Actually Listen

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, September 24, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 09.24.2017” on Spreaker.

Devotional thought 11 in “Removing the Veil: Sanctuary Living in the 21st Century.” Our subject is: When God Speaks

Here’s the question for consideration: When God has something to say and we are willing to listen, what’s next?

The Lord Came Down. Moses Went Up.

“And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up” (Exodus 19:19–20).

The journey continues. The trumpets are sounding; the mountain is engulfed and smoking; the earth is quaking; thunders are clapping; lightning is flashing; the people are trembling, and now, YHWH is speaking. Are God’s people ready to listen? Moses spoke. What might He have said? I think this Scripture gives us an idea: “In fact, so awful and terrifying was the [phenomenal] sight that Moses said, I am terrified (aghast and trembling with fear)” (Hebrews 12:21, AMP). Now what?

Your Attention, Please

This is the question we must all ask ourselves. When God is speaking and everything around us and within our lives suggests that He is trying to get our attention, what do we do next? If we even tell Him of our fear, awe, trembling, uncertainty, or wonderment, where do we go from there?

The Bible says that God took this encounter a step further and welcomed Moses into His presence. Even this is awe inspiring because the Bible says that God came down and personally welcomed Moses up. Does that remind you of anything? Generally, we can see this as the condescension of God. However, we can also apply this to life events facilitating prayer encounters with God.

Real Communion

Think about it. Jesus said that when we pray, we recognize that our Father is in heaven. The One whose name is Holy, whose kingdom is coming, and prepares to accomplish His will on earth as it is done in heaven, abides in heavenly places. This means that when we pray as the Holy Spirit welcomes us into communion with God, He welcomes us up to His throne of grace.

While the privilege of prayer, in many ways, is God condescending to give us access, His purpose is to immediately elevate us, spiritually, to where He is.

In His presence we find victory over sin. There’s no sin in His throne room. In His presence, we find relief from worry and doubt. There’s no worry in His throne room. In His presence we find peace. There is no discord or strife in His throne room. Thus it is that prayer elevates us to heavenly places.

Sitting Pretty

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:3–4). “

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:6–10).

Immediate Elevation

When God has something to say and we are willing to listen, what’s next? When we listen keenly to God’s will for our lives, He immediately begins to elevate us to personal communion with Him where we will receive power to live according to Jesus Christ’s example. As long as we continue to breathe in His atmosphere and commune with Him daily, we will be well on our way to the fulness of sanctuary living.




Kaepernick’s Protest: American As The Boston Tea Party, and the Boston Massacre

Biblical admonition reaches both citizens and authorities who must treat them fairly.

Editor’s Note: This is a repost from the archives, October 11, 2016.

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback takes a knee on the cover of October’s TIME magazine. His peaceful protest of the national anthem to draw attention to racial injustice–particularly in light of the police shootings of unarmed black men–created a ripple effect.

His fans chant “we want Kaep” and some fellow NFL, college and high school football, women’s soccer, and WNBA players adopted the protest. National Basketball Association two-time MVP, Steph Curry, and L.A. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers both support the protest also.

However the growing number of athletes and school bands kneeling, raising fists or staging die-ins during the the national anthem hasn’t stemmed the criticism. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg called the protest “dumb,”  and Kaepernick and others have received death threats.  Denver Broncos’ Brandon Marshall lost a lucrative endorsement.

Former players, turned-sports-analysts such as Trent Dilfer and Rodney Harrison sold Kaepernick out. To summarize Dilfer: focus on becoming the starter (Kaepernick was named starter October 11) so you can entertain us, or just sit down and shut up. To paraphrase Rodney Harrison: Colin’s not black enough to speak out. He should be quiet and write a check to organizations that make a difference.

Problems? What Problems?

Then there’s the thoughtful and articulate, former Chicago Bears coach, Mike Ditka, who offered this commentary:

“I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on. I see opportunities if people want to look for opportunities. Now, if they don’t want to look for them, then you can find problems with anything.”

Few would disagree that there are opportunities awaiting those who diligently search for them. But in what way do these problems indicate people are not looking for opportunities? Wasn’t Sandra Bland about to enjoy a new employment opportunity before meeting Texas State Trooper, Brian Encinia? Wasn’t Dr. Ersula Ore already fulfilling an opportunity? The English professor at Arizona State University was slammed to the ground, arrested, and jailed by campus policeman, Stewart Ferrin, for jaywalking.

Was bikini-clad, 15-year-old Dajerria Becton overlooking her opportunities when she was slammed to the ground and mounted by Officer Eric Casebolt?  What about Ramarley Graham, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, and Terence Crutcher?

Kaepernick’s critics echo Ditka’s sentiment as they charge him for being unpatriotic and un-American. They condemn Kaepernick for being disrespectful of the military, in spite of Twitter support at #veteransforkaepernick. One of the veterans of notoriety featured there is former Navy SEAL and former Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura:

“I served my country, so that you have the freedom to protest,” Ventura wrote. “I salute Colin Kaepernick. I fully support him. . . governments should not mandate patriotism. Governments earn patriotism. You earn that. Who mandated patriotism? The Germans in the 1930s. They mandated patriotism. That’s what we want to be? We want to build walls now and be East Berlin? That’s the direction of the United States today?”

Protest As A Cherished American Tradition

boston-ship-copy
Sure, it looks peaceful now, but the Boston Harbor was the scene of the world-famous revolt against abusive and oppressive police tactics.

So what direction is America heading and how does it differ from where we came? Interestingly, protesting against police brutality, unreasonable search and seizure, and lack of accountability for law enforcement is an American tradition. One of the events that highlights the tension between the colonists and the police state under which they lived was the Boston Massacre.

On the evening of March 5, 1770, a young man named Edward Garrick accused a British Officer, Captain John Goldfinch of misconduct. Goldfinch didn’t pay his bill at the wig-making shop where Garrick worked, to be specific. While Goldfinch ignored the young man, nearby Private Hugh White did not. He confronted Garrick for insulting an officer and tempers escalated until White struck Garrick’s head with the butt of his musket.

Garrick cried out loudly and crowds started filling the street quickly. As word spread that a soldier had struck a civilian over something so trivial, the already resentful townspeople confronted White, and his backup.

What developed was far from an arm-in-arm singing of “We Shall Overcome.” The protest of these Patriots was as provocative as anything in American history. After the crowd lobbed insults and hurled objects hurled at them for a while, one soldier fired a shot, followed by a volley from his comrades. Five civilians dead. Three wounded.

Identifying With The Oppressed

Although this event occurred before the actual Revolutionary War, the civilians killed that day have been widely regarded as the first martyrs of the war that birthed this nation.

crispus2-1
Crispus Attucks, black man who ran away to escape his enslavement in the 1770s. He was a dock worker in Boston and was the first to lose his life for the cause of the American revolt against oppressive and invasive police tactics.

Crispus Attucks, an African American of mixed heritage, was the first to die. He was a runaway slave who experienced the reality that according to society’s accounting, one drop of “black blood” makes you black.

African-Americans fought on the forefront ever since, bravely serving in war after war. Many hoped their valor would be recognized and rewarded by finally becoming partakers of the promises penned in the nation’s founding documents. Unfortunately, the establishment of justice for all proved elusive over the centuries.

Changing Times and Changing Tactics

While fighting for the common defense of the nation, African Americans fought double duty for their own freedom. This, after the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, and numerous Civil Rights Acts beginning in 1866. Learning to fight Slavery By a New Name means continually forming overground railroads to rescue our children from the “School to Prison Pipeline” and “The New Jim Crow.”

Whatever  the form of protest, however, deflection and distortion meet it head-on. There is never an acceptable way for black people to protest racial injustice. Martin Luther King, Jr. was hated for advocating non-violent protests for integration. Malcolm X was hated for affirming the right of self-defense and advocating separation.

Although the colonists violently revolted against tyranny, they and their offspring have always demanded peaceful demonstrations for gradual solutions from those they oppressed.

Although the colonists violently revolted against tyranny, they and their offspring have always demanded peaceful demonstrations for gradual solutions from those they oppressed. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were hated for standing up. Rosa Parks and Colin Kaepernick are hated for sitting down. Black Lives Matter activists are even ridiculed when they lie down!

Law And Order Advocated Evenly

King preached peace, but warned America that many, especially younger generations, were becoming disillusioned with the lack of progress. Echoes of “By Any Means Necessary,” “Burn Baby Burn,” and “Black Power,” began to overwhelm his melodious “I Have a Dream” in the ears and hearts of the oppressed.

Thankfully, riots, which Dr. King referred to as “the language of the unheard” have been relatively restrained. This is because most African-Americans desire law and order. Anarchy does not beget accountability, lawlessness doesn’t lead to liberty, or rioting to righteous judgments.

die-in
Die-in staged by Black Lives Matter Protesters.

Yet, the cry for law and order must come with justice.  That means those who enforce the law should also be subject to the law. If  civilians must deescalate conflict or lose their liberties, so should those who “keep the peace.”  If lawyers must recuse themselves in certain situations and doctors shouldn’t treat themselves or immediate family members, then maybe police shouldn’t be the primary ones investigating themselves either.

As long as white officers escape meaningful consequences for killing unarmed black men, and beating black women and children, then our nation’s banner doesn’t represent one nation, or liberty, or justice for all. As long as these issues are swept under the flag, there will be those whose conscience objects to saluting the Star Spangled Banner. As the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther, stated when on trial in 1521 at the Diet of Worms, “to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

Kaepernick’s demonstration police brutality is as American as the Boston Massacre. If they were considered patriotic in 1770, why are today’s protestors maligned as unpatriotic? Peacefully protesting by refraining from a national ritual is not being anti-police, but anti-police brutality. These protestors are not anti-American, they are advocates of American ideals being upheld for all.

The Christian Tradition Of Protest

If we believe in the infallibility and inspiration of the Word of God, we know when one member of the body of Christ hurts, all hurt. Also consider this: “And the soldiers asked him, ‘And what are we to do?’ ‘Don’t bully people, don’t bring false charges, and be content with your pay,’ he replied” (Luke 3:14, J.B. Philips).

Protesting against police brutality is not just an American tradition, but a Christian one as well. Just as Christian faith instructs one to honor authorities (Romans 13:1-7), it also affirms the right to insist the authorities act justly (Acts 16:35-38; 22:25-29). Finally, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, taught that the Judgment will not be based on how we treat the powerful and privileged, but by how we treat “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40, 45). The poor, the sick, and yes, even those in prison.




DICK GREGORY PILGRIM IN SEARCH OF LIBERATION

From the Message Archives March April 1981 Issue:

Twenty years ago Dick Gregory was a stand-up comic on the nightclub circuit. By his own account he smoked and drank heavily. Gregory had an eye that saw through the games people and institutions play. He had a wit thatbroke up huge audiences while making them see truths about themselves. But that eye and that wit were teamed with a heart that was being led to the more important issues of life. Gregory’s priorities shifted. His concerns became oppression, manipulation, racism, and war. He discovered that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and is not to be defiled. He became a prophet to the secular world about the evils of bodily abuse, particularly through diet. When Gregory yells Foul! about an oppressive institution or agency or group of people or life style, he doesn’t make a case like a lawyer with a long list of proofs. No, Gregory thinks analogically. He looks for parallels. He’s not hung up trying to prove cause and effect. If a window breaks each time a guy waves his arm, Gregory doesn’t have to see him throw the stone. But enough—Gregory can speak for himself.

MESSAGE: You say research indicating that the typical American diet has many harmful elements in it has not been made readily available to the masses. Instead, the interests of the rich and powerful are protected at almost any cost to the poor and the powerless. What does all this have to do with diet? And can you give us examples of manipulation of the masses?

GREGORY: You know, I do think much of the salvation of the planet is in diet. Another thing is how easy it is to get into it. You don’t have to change all of your eating habits. Here’s a little thing: just add bran to your diet in the morning and in the evening, and you can cancel out about 80 percent of the diseases in the lower digestive tract. And you know the way they got into that?

They got into Africa. They happened to meet this group of Africans whose systems were regular. They began checking and they found out that within 24 hours everything they had eaten had passed completely through their systems. From there it led to the roughage theory. This was already suspected, but for follow-up, researchers found some of this same group of Africans who had moved to Western society. This group was winding up with the same kinds of diseases as people in the West. So—when you cook string beans and take the strings off, your roughage is gone. The lesson for us: add some bran.

I usually tell people to go to a health-food store and get the pure bran. But it’s different in dealing with the masses, you know, because the minute you say that—”Go to the health food store”—it turns them off.” You mean you’re asking me to change my diet, and then what I’ve got to find is hidden somewhere? Plus, you know, I’m not all that upset bout the way I’m eatin’. I’m just trying this change out of respect and knowing where you’re coming from.” So I tell them to get bran or whole wheat cereal. Now I hate to send people to that commercial scene, but bran is bran. Some commercial preparations have sugar, but I’m saying that once they start on it, in about a two-week period, eating a bowl in the morning and a bowl in the evening will have a fantastic effect. I say eat a bowl of bran because people are not likely to believe it would only take a teaspoonful. They can’t see a teaspoon doin’ nothin’. They’d just say, “Later for the whole idea. I’ll just forget about it.”

MESSAGE: How did you start informing yourself on health issues?

GREGORY: I used to go to healthfood stores at first, or other places. I bought six or seven hundred dollars’ worth of books. I have researchers on my staff, and I use Harvard’s library. I also used my own common sense. I started asking myself, “If dead animals’ flesh is so good for you, why don’t cows eat it? If protein is so necessary in that form, why don’t the animals need it?” I began to realize you don’t have to eat hair to grow hair; you don’t have to eat fingernails to grow fingernails. If you put the right minerals and things into your body it will manufacture what you need. That’s the wonder of this body. When I was eating meat, the most I weighed was 134, but when I started a vegetarian diet I went to 288. This was from ignorance. I thought I needed a substitute, and that substitute was eating 5 or 6 times a day. But then I learned about fasting. In 1967 I went on my first 40-day fast, and I went from 288 to 95 pounds. My energy level was incredible, just so high!

Then I learned you must pray while fasting, and during my second fast, prayer made a difference. I’ve been trying to get people to fast from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and use that time to meditate and to pray that hungry people will be fed. But the important thing is the Government. They act as if they don’t have the research. The former Department of Health, Education and Welfare was really pushed with questions on why we don’t have serious research on vegetarianism. They said, “The only thing we have ever studied was from England.” But they have piles of it [research on vegetarianism]. There are piles of documents concerning what they have studied about your group [Seventh-day Adventists].

MESSAGE: In a sense you’re saying the Government is not making available the information it has. Is this what you mean by governmental manipulation and control?

GREGORY: We live in a country today that can ship tanks all the way around the world but cannot ship turnips to starving people. We have no business living on a planet where people are dying from starvation. There are enough folks with enough know-how to feed everybody. We are all born with certain God-given rights to drink water (clean water), the right to breathe air (fresh air), and the right to eat. And we’ve got to let people know that we are not dealing with any more trickery.

MESSAGE: Trickery?

GREGORY: Yes! Look at this Iran thing. The day I left Iran I bought this soft drink mix right in Iran. The boycott was on in Iran, yet I bought these grits—the same grits the President (former President Jimmy Carter) ate in the White House. I bought this Vaseline in Iran. Anything available in Iran before the boycott, I could still buy months later, and yet high anti-Iranian sentiment was developing even then. The Iranian people couldn’t understand it. They couldn’t understand how we were all so upset over the hostages’ being taken that we were jumping at everything Iranian, when they could go to the supermarket and find every American product they were ever able to find. It still must be emphasized that no one in his right mind—and no sane, honest people—could ever justify taking hostages, under any circumstances. But there are some circumstances. We need to know what led up to the hostage-taking so we can work to do the things in other countries that will prevent what happened in Iran. Look at this FBI thing, this Abscam. Eight Congressmen and one Senator. We should rise up and say, “Hey, how did you all choose them? What criteria did you use to pick all of them? And why has no one in the major press done a serious research job to find out what relationship these officials have with the FBI?”

Persistent rumors linking the CIA with the People’s Temple in Jonestown has been the subject of Congressional investigation, and I think we should really be concerned about the CIA, Jonestown, and mind-control drugs being tested. Because the next thing you know, they might be showing up in your hamburgers; they might be showing up in your breakfast cereal, and the next thing you know . ..! How are 900 people all going to commit suicide and neatly lie face down after drinking cyanide? There’s nothing on the planet that creates spasms and convulsions like cyanide. Then we were told that the dogs and the cats and the pets drank the grape too. You can’t get a
dog, even the dumbest dog you can find, to drink with anything in it, let alone cyanide—and there are
some dumb dogs.

Then there’s that P____! You know, they told F___ Motor Company that these gasoline tanks in the back were dangerous. If they were bumped from the rear the gas tank would explode, and with $14.00 we can
correct that. They said, “Wait a minute, let’s figure that up—$14.00 times . . . that will be 58 million dollars! Roll them like they are, because whatever lawsuit we get won’t cost us 58 million dollars.” Did you know that? It came out in a trial. And F___ Motor Company is still permitted to do business as usual. Not one person in F___ Motor Company has gone to jail. But I’ll bet if it had been some N who made such a car, and it was brought out in court that they knew it could kill you, they’d be lynched. But you ain’t gonna mess with nobody with no power that might mess with you back. That’s what the whole ball game is about. We all have got a big stake in this thing—in making this country, this planet, work right, because we’ve got no place to go; we’re stuck with this one. But don’t believe that a handful of crazies are going to tear this planet up. The same God that put this planet here will be the same God that will tear it up whenever He decides to tear it up, and that God does not need any of us to help Him do it.

MESSAGE: Seventh-day Adventists have been advocates of healthful living with attention called to the vegetarian diet since our early days. We’re interested in reaching the man on the street. What are your suggestions?

GREGORY: You have to exhibit it, and you have to leave leeway. It’s very important to leave leeway for the horror of coming through grade school, high school, and college. Mothers and Fathers—you know, the people that love us—never told us that meat was bad. It’s very difficult for a stranger to tell us, when we’re believing all the teachings of the people that love us. If you go around to a Black person’s house, and you don’t eat meat, they feel sorry for you. I mean, when I first turned vegetarian, it seemed to attract women. Women just wanted to be with me because they felt sorry for me. You know, “Oh, my soul, you don’t eat meat?” If you’d go to their houses, they’d pile your plate up. It was just the most incredible thing in the world. They never looked at it as a strength. Mothers are the same way. And then you get grandmothers trying to slip stuff to your children. The same things happened to ours [the Gregorys’ ten children]. I had started out with the candy. The kids were off candy. We would come into the house and we wouldn’t accept candy and cookies. “0 my soul,” folks would say, “Gregory is so mean.” But I think what has to happen is that we document on a very unsophisticated level that we don’t have to eat it. I think my next book will deal with the spiritual side of things.

Your material would need to go out on two levels. Write a column for the adult and then write a column for the child—something like coloring a page or a coloring book. The important thing is to get them introduced to what a carrot is …. You see, out of all the ways to commit suicide, even brutal ones, no one’s gonna drink iodine, because of the skull and crossbones. You’ve seen it as a child. That’s the level you have to work on. I tell you what would be interesting in your church, a study on the sexual temperament. That’s where Ghandi really got into his movements, you know. He was trying to cut back his sexual urge and control diet. I just wonder what it’s like for people who go without all the toxins in the body.

What is the strength of the family, and what is the temperament of the church, of your church? Are you losing? Are you having problems?

MESSAGE: What is your advice to our readers, mostly Black people in America?

GREGORY: Decide! Decide you’re going to have an integrity about your body. Decide you’re not going to put any soda pop, or beer, or reefers, or booze, or cocaine—none of that craziness—in your body. And see how good you feel. You may decide you want to feel that way all day. I’ve gone the whole route. I’ve been up to 288 pounds, smoked four packs of cigarettes a day, and drunk a fifth of Scotch every day and I can tell you there’s nothing in it. You’re playing a game on yourself. If you see the way we disrespect our bodies, then you can see why the people who manipulate us can get by with what they can get by with. I beg you to please, please, start checking out your food.

Some run around saying, “I’m into soul food, baby. Whitey can’t cook.” Whitey don’t want no soul food! Anybody can cook that old grease that we be cooking! But do you realize two out of every three Black folks in this country have a serious problem with high blood pressure, sugar diabetes, hypertension; and we’re sitting there eating all that old crazy stuff saying, “Yeah, man, I bet white folk can’t eat like this.” Any old fool can cook corn bread. White folk raised the hogs and the chickens, and you expect they can’t cook them if they wanted to? Anybody can cook a chicken. A chicken can cook itself!

When you go to the store, just play a game with yourself. Read the ingredients, and you’ll see five or six words you can’t even pronounce. Why eat it? What I’m fixin’ to do now is go 12 years with no sex, no talking, no eating solid food. I’m going the whole route to dramatize my protest against racism, against wars, and to gain moral power. I am calling for no war ever! If your son is 6 years old, and my son is 7 years old, when I come off of this thing they’ll be 18 or 19. At first people will laugh, but then every time they think about sex, they’ll think about me and this whole thing. There’ll be joking and laughing.—” Ha, ha, ha.” But then the jokes will stop.

View the full magazine below.




Warning: This Warning May Go Unheeded

My hurricane experience taught me a few lessons.

My neighborhood sits against a levee, and as the rain saturated our city, the levee started to fill. When the sheriff and police officers came to talk to us about evacuating, they shared information about that levee and how the rain would force the levee to flood our subdivision.

They insisted on a mandatory evacuation for the homes in the rear of our subdivision. As we listened to them explain the details, I looked around the room at the angry faces of my neighbors. Then, the officers struck a rather intolerant tone: “either you leave, or don’t bother to call us if and when the levee breaks.”

Many of my neighbors were upset. They didn’t want to leave their homes and definitely didn’t appreciate the tone of the officials. The next day, when the police returned, they shut down power to those homes which might be in danger. And, officers then forced residents to leave.

Here is what’s interesting; many of us are just like my neighbors. God has given us his love and yet many of us refuse to take it. He has given us warnings, and yet we ignore those warnings. The Bible has given us example after example of people who went against God’s word. Yet we ignore that still small voice, and forge full speed ahead in the wrong direction.

Do we think we know more than God? Why do we jump into relationships when many times we know the person is completely wrong for us? Why do we buy something the Spirit tells us not to buy?

My neighbors fought the very people who were trying to help them. But many of us do the same thing. We fight God for our way instead of asking Him which way to go.

While I understand this was inconvenient, I also understand that this was for protection. The blessing is that I had everybody I know praying that water away. God protected my neighborhood, and not a drop of water has come out that levee.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

 

 




Relief After Hurricane Harvey “Is the Lord’s Doing”

Watch God work in the wildest of circumstances. When the theology is rightly understood, you’ll find He has prepared a way out of the disaster.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the World Harvest Outreach Seventh-day Adventist Church (WHO) has been designated as an official donation drop-off point and distribution center for the City of Houston, Texas.

Three generations committed to Community Service. Cynthia Ferdinand, right, her daughter Angela Jerez, center, and granddaughter Amaya Jerez help World Harvest Outreach prepare clothes for families in need after Hurricane Harvey.

We are operating both a community services center that serves an average of 300 to 400 families a day as well as a distribution center to other churches, mosques, and community organizations who are also seeking to assist survivors. In this beehive of activity teeming with volunteers and survivors, we receive and redistribute everything from non-perishable and easy-to-make foods to bottled water, to diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, and diaper rash cream, to cleaning supplies, and bedding after this unprecedented hurricane and tropical storm.

The natural question is how did all of this come together? And the simple and honest answer is that God put it together. Psalm 118:23 says it better than I could: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (KJV).

Help In the Hurricane

“God’s footsteps are already where you are going,” evangelist Walter Pearson said in a message years ago. God knew what team He needed to be in place before the storm hit.

God put a passion in the pastor to lead ministries that serve Him by serving His people (Matthew 25:40.) He chose members within World Harvest with a similar gifts, skills, and dedication to plan and execute the logistics. God’s Holy Spirit unified pastors and churches in the area resulting in a multiplication of volunteers. God connected us to decision-makers who see the potential of our facilities, and have confidence in our integrity and willingness to roll up our sleeves to do the work of assisting survivors. God has touched the hearts of his people everywhere so that they are generously sharing both of their time and resources to help ease the suffering of others.

It is the Lord’s doing! The story of Balaam tells me that God can use a jackass if need be, but He prefers to utilize willing vessels. If you would not be a willing vessel to serve Him in a crisis or disaster, I would suggest you consider your theology.

Disaster Theology

What do you think about God?

Is He good? I believe that He is good and that we ought to trust His heart even when we cannot trace His movements. I believe Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (KJV).

What do you think about His people?

I mean, all of His people. It’s hard to serve people if you don’t see their value. Some think that God only has a few people. But when I read Matthew 1:21, I see “…thou shalt call his name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” They are sinners. They need salvation. But they are “His people.” His people are the fourth generation members, or the charter members, or the on the Board of Trustees people. And His people also means the single, young mother of three whose parents never brought her to church. Believers lose everything in storms and natural disasters. And those who do not yet know Christ lose everything in storms and natural disasters.

What do you think about sin and suffering?

If you believe there is always a direct correlation between an individual’s sins, and their suffering, it will impact ministry to those most adversely affected by a catastrophe. We may indeed serve them, but we may lack compassion as we do so. We witness that mindset in the disciples when with Jesus they passed by a man who was blind from birth. They asked him, “…Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2)

Jesus gave them a key that I believe is helpful to us as we seek to minister to survivors of catastrophes. “Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3).

We don’t try to answer questions that are above our proverbial “pay grade.” The New Testament reports that faithful James was beheaded; faithful Peter was released from prison. God is good all the time. We don’t know why a survivor lost all of her earthly possessions. We don’t know why all of the houses on one’s street were flooded, and all of the houses on the next one remained dry. But, we are at Airport Road and Scott Street to walk with God’s children, to wrap our arms around them, to treat them with love, dignity and respect.

Grace and Glory

God put the team together. God has moved upon the hearts of others to provide resources. And we are determined, by His grace, to do our little part to make sure that He gets the glory out of it all.  After all, “it is the Lord’s doing,” and it is marvelous in our eyes.

 

 

 




7 Ways to Help You Get Along With Church Folk

Conflict creates a very real and present threat to believers, not just with various denominations but within a single church as well. Though our faith alone should be enough to unite us, often it’s not. Rightly handled, conflict does not have to cause division, and can actually cause God’s people to come into greater unity. And what the enemy meant for evil, God will use for good.

Skilled conflict resolution doesn’t come naturally, however. It requires commitment to relationship, persistence in seeking a solution, and a willingness to forgive and love in spite of differences.

In order to walk in unity we must have the proper spiritual attire on. Colossians 3:12 says that we are to, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering[.]” Without these things, conflict will reign.

God-Honoring Ways to Facilitate Unity

Go to God first. Before you speak out rashly or in anger, go to God and get His perspective on the issue. Much conflict could quickly be snuffed out if we didn’t speak or act immediately. During one moment of conflict, Moses erupted and he lost access to the Promised Land. However, when Moses did manage to keep his cool and get God’s perspective on situations, he was able to resolve these situations and restore unity.

Think before you speak. Conflict often escalates when something is said in a harsh or accusing manner. Proverbs 25:11 reminds us that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Anything that we say, especially in moments of conflict, should be clear, kind, true, and appropriate. There is a right time and a right way to say everything that needs to be said.

Notice the “needs to be said” above. Not everything needs to be said. Part of thinking before you speak is knowing when not to speak at all.

When conflict arises, do a heart check and think about the goal for saying a particular thing—is it to put someone in their right place or to prove ourselves right? These are very good reasons to not speak at all. Before speaking be sure the Spirit directs and you speak in love.

Seek peace. When conflict surfaces, peacemakers are needed . Romans 12:18 reminds us that if it is at all possible, we are to “live peaceably with all men.” That requires that we are proactive about seeking peace in the midst of conflict.

A very effective way to do that is to act in the opposite. Return love for hate, prayers for persecution, kind words for insults. In other words, don’t play into the enemy’s hand, our real source of conflict. (See Ephesians 6:12.) Instead, overcome evil—in this case, conflict—with good.

Be gentle. We never know what another person is going through, and sometimes personal situations can spill over into other relationships causing conflict.

Make every effort to understand where the other person is coming from. Be willing to hear them out without judging or presuming to know their heart motives. Choose to lay aside your own feelings and opinions in order to listen to someone else’s.

No matter how frustrated or angry you feel, be gentle. Even in the midst of conflict, be willing to demonstrate that you still love and care for the other person. We all need grace; be the one to extend it.

Practice humility. Conflict should never be about who wins and who loses. It’s not a game, because when conflict is resolved, we all win; when conflict persists, we all lose.

Pride is the downfall of many relationships. Unity requires humility. Refuse to assign blame, gossip, or otherwise contribute to the conflict. Admit that you could be wrong and take responsibility for your part in the issue. Stay humble before God and others, and seek resolution that doesn’t include personal gain.

Go for the molehill, not the mountain. Conflict often escalates into a huge mountain when we build up layer after layer of hurt and offense. Any conflict should be dealt with immediately so it doesn’t grow out of control.

Involve only those that need to be involved, which is very rarely everybody. “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16). Act quickly and keep it small to avoid having a molehill turn into a mountain.

Persevere. If the conflict isn’t resolved during the first attempt, don’t give up. Ask God to give you the strength to continue seeking resolution, even when your attempts don’t seem to yield any results.

Be lovingly consistent in your efforts and pray for the Holy Spirit’s intervention. Never forget that God is bigger than the conflict. Walk by faith and not by sight and you’ll soon realize that the conflict is just a small pebble in the hand of a mighty God.

While these are by no means the only ways that we can resolve conflict with other believers, they are some of the most effective, especially when combined. As we learn to stand united we will grow together in love. 

…......……………………………………………………………….

Tammy Darling writes from her home in Three Springs, Pennsylvania. She is the author of 1,300 published articles, and two books.