The sin of partiality and reactionary responses
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, It is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13)
A grave problem that the COVID-19 crisis has brought out is our poor listening skills. Another issue the crisis is elucidating is our quickness to answer and comment, even with righteous indignation, on issues in which we lack expert knowledge.
The internet (Google and YouTube, in particular) has made just about everyone an expert in just about everything. Mind you, even the functionally illiterate is now a scholar.
We have also created two new religious institutions to back up many of our positions—the Church of YouTubers, as well as the Temple of Google Searchers. In these churches everyone is a pastor. And these pastors support each other only as they agree with each other. Otherwise, they (we) bicker and fight, slander and verbally murder each other.
But Scripture has a high standard for sharing and for responding to information. Wait and think. Think hard. Weigh all sides. Don’t be lopsided. Weigh it again. Then we can attempt to answer. But this still doesn’t mean we have to answer or comment. For the Scripture also says this—
“He that hath knowledge spareth his words: And a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: And he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:27-28).
May we ever let our lips be portals of blessings to humanity.
What Godly Men Can Do About Abortion
OK: I have committed fornication and adultery many times round in my life, but not mostly in ways others think–it’s the biggest area of personal TESTIMONY that God is freeing me from the chains of this! For this has much more to do with what happens in a bed; it’s the heart! And a bed or another human isn’t even needed in sight for this sin to take place!
The power of the cross includes the ability of God to give us a mind that enjoys Phil. 4:8. And repentance must precede the purity of mind/heart. Pretense of moral rigidity won’t do.
If we as men of God arise, and only if God is giving us repentance and freeing us from former shackles, and lead among our sisters, we could contribute meaningfully to the bit by bit pull that abortion has on women.
For me, as a man of God, it starts simply with allowing the Holy Spirit access to my mind. So that He may keep me from fornication, even in the following sense–
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:27-29).
Let’s pluck out our lustful eyes so that we can create scenarios in which less women will be pushed, after our lust-feast materializes, and the feel forced to pluck out unfortunate fetuses, unfortunate human beings. For without our sperms ending up where they should not, so many women would not be having abortions.
Dear Liberal America, Please Stop Weaponizing My Skin Color
A simple perusal of a white country singer’s bio (not that I am interested in country music or in secular music, in general) led me to some issue this country singer had. He used a word, some unknown word, wrongly. Whatever the word, he used it wrongly because it was not his to use. No humans own any word, by the way. Probably Noah Webster forgot to include that word in his dictionary.
Now, I am no fan of using derogatory words or curse words. They just tick me off, badly. Use a curse word to me, and I am infuriated. They bring back the trauma of childhood ears bathed in sailor-type adjectives of a frustrated, yet loving, grandmother whom we affectionately monikered “Mama”. She largely replaced my mother who died way before her time at age twenty-nine. So, I have a reason to hate profanity. Profanity for me is something that is laced with death, and suffering. And I have not even discussed my Christian beliefs–a true basis of my verbal astuteness.
Fast forward to the 1990’s, over eleven years after my mother’s death. I am a newly-minted New Yorker, transfixed in a newfound identity: I am no longer just a Jamaican, I am now an oppressed Black man (I prefer “brown”, though) in an oppressor’s world. Everything is suspect. Don’t mind the killing in Brownsville, or East New York. Don’t mind me being held up at gunpoint, by a fellow-black man, while trying to earn a minimum wage living in these tumultuous 90’s. A UPS fellow-worker loses his life while traveling to work on a train I normally take. We work the graveyard shift. Don’t mind that the violence in the inner-city are executed and promulgated by my misguided and desperate, mentally unstable and distressed, even hurting, and yes, oppressed fellow-black men. Yet, only two of the adjectives, “black” and “oppressed”, make the conversation in which I am frequently embroiled in my afflicted, often racially-misguided soul (I no longer subscribe to the social ideology of race). This is the 1990’s and many years beyond.
And yet the story is even more complex that this. More complex than I have time to discuss here.
Fast forward twenty-five years. I have suffered a lot from my willing brainwashing of my views on the American people–a people whoever imperfect, among whom I live. I am even a US citizen, now. I have been one for almost two decades. Yet, I have seen too much division and negativity in discussions on so-called race. To unsustainable levels. There is a persistent bifurcation. Confusion. Subjection to- and inner turmoil over- the dominant narrative that I’ve allowed to play out in my mind. Persistently kind run-ins with conscientious officers (police or state troopers) have not sat well with me, though these is my usual experience. Still I often I allow myself to be overcome by the dominant narrative, the one that paints all white people as either oppressors or people complicit with a nationwide or worldwide system of oppression. People who cooperate willingly or even unconsciously with an oppressive system. But any rational person can see that human interaction is not that simple. Such a simplistic view is extremely unhelpful and very damaging to the psyche. There are thousands of variables affecting human behavior. And they cannot all be reduced to skin color, social privileges, or even ideologies that rightly admit the reality of oppression, including racism.
To reduce the human daily living reality to a mere concomitance of race and racial interactions is to, in effect, devalue the human being. No one is truly helped. It is the equivalent of seeking to find a “Theory of Everything” to govern social and human interaction. There is none. Humans are too complex for that.
So, let me again underscore make my pitch: liberal America, please stop pimping my color. I do not appreciate it. You are not helping me. Stop building more trauma into words than they should have. It does not help me or my children or my wife. We are also Americans. Americans who happen to be brown, not brown Americans. We are humans who happen to be brown, not brown humans. There is nothing special in our brown-ness that makes us more or less human. Stop it.
So, yes, a curse word is traumatic to me, because it evokes my childhood trauma which includes my mother being murdered, delay murdered. Dying. Leaving six children behind. I was only six. I don’t need to be bathed in the pity evoked by someone seeking to mute everything that reminds me of my childhood. I need skills to cope. I am no longer a child. I need to learn to cope so that I may live in my chronological development period. It is puerile at best, and dismissive and misguided at worst, to always walk ahead of brown people with a banner heralding a command to white people to not speak what they are feeling at the moment or even permanently. Is it bad to use words, in the presence of oppressed people, that evoke traumatic experiences? Yes; but it is not the unforgivable sin. Do we not experience the same thing in our families? Don’t we learn to forgive and have honest discussions, without cordoning off the hurting ones from the instigators of hurt? How else will they family cohere?
Please, stop weaponizing my color. A word is no worse when it’s said that when it is in a person’s mind, affecting their behavior. In fact, it would be better to hear a bad word that offends or even traumatize than to have the same word, unsaid, motivate the actions of those who only pretend to see me as fully human.
Jesus says it best when he refers to the defilement of what is in the heart. We get it wrong. Though hurtful and uncouth words used by some may affect black or brown people traumatically, it affects those who also use these words. Further alienating them and not forgiving them does no good to either the offending person or to the offended.
One final word: empowerment. The empowerment we need as brown people is not the weaponizing of our color against those who stand to cast stones or words at us, or even think evil of us. The latter evil-thinking is hard to identify in the broader society, because of people’s lack of discernment, because of people’s susceptibility to the pretentiousness of the part of people who hold back their true thoughts. Recall the story in John 8, of the Bible. The story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus could have spent much time calling out the sins of the men who brought her in. But He simply stooped down, wrote (possible the accusers’ sins) on the ground, telling the would be stoners to cast a stone if they had no sin. Incidentally, I say to Liberals who seek to draw the cordon between themselves and their openly erring brothers and sisters, “Cast a stone of criticism, only if you have never sinned in thought or word, in the same respect of disparaging a human who happens to be brown or female or …” And please know that in your casting of stones, you’re leaving the hurt or offended brown person stooping and seeking for help with the same trauma that people with your attitude failed to help them with in the era evoked by the words you now obsess about. Please stop weaponizing our color. Encourage our healing from trauma, which starts with loving those who hated or abused us because of the color of our skin. Underscore the importance of forgiveness by first forgiving those who do what you consider uncouth. We too think these words are uncouth and shameful and hurtful. And, please know that the use of words doesn’t have the same traumatic effect on all brown people. We are all at different stages in the healing of wounds caused by racism. But racism is not the only issue we face. Stop putting us in boxes. Stop tying us to our past traumas; we are seeking to grow away from their grip. Stop encouraging self-pity.
We are human beings who happen to be brown, not brown human beings. Please stop weaponizing our skin color, it is only skin. We are more than our skins. We are more than our trauma. Thank you.
Seeking the Mind of Christ: For People Like Me with Anxiety Issues
Seeking the Mind of Christ
My family and I were so blessed to be in church yesterday. The fellowship was great; and the sermon was poignant. It asked a very important question: What shall we do with this Jesus? That question is based on Pilate’s question to the Jews in Matthew 27:22.
In order to know what to do with Jesus, we might want to learn how Jesus thought. What drove Him. What motivated Him. What was and still is His mission. What was and still is His interest in us. I hope you may join me as I seek to explore the topic “Seeking the Mind of Christ” in a serious of short videos (about 5-7 minutes in length).
Here is video 2. You may seek video 1 by the same name on my YouTube channel, associated with the posted video.
Seemingly innocuous deviations
Oh the joy of having God show us lessons in our morning devotions! This post is on some thoughts on Saul. I hope we’re blessed by this reflection.
When Saul decided to serve God on Saul’s terms, it might have seemed harmless. But such apparent harmlessness destroyed him, his family, and cost many other lives in Israel. Most sadly, Saul seemed to have traded his spot in the New Jerusalem for his immediate gratification. A trade that soon led to death in this life and will result in such in the life to come. More than that, Saul painted a poor picture of God to the heathen.
There are great lessons in all of this for us Christians today. There is great need that we seek God to keep us ever faithful, opening our hearts for Him to know us. The alternative to this doesn’t lead to any good—in fact, the alternative leads to death and to our enemies blaspheming God.
“So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it” (1 Chronicles 10:13).
“And when they had stripped him, they took his head, and his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to carry tidings unto their idols, and to the people. And they put his armour in the house of their gods, and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon” (1 Chronicles 10:9-10).
Let’s be careful about what we pray for
“In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.”
2 Kings 20:1, 5-6 KJV
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzi-bah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.”
2 Kings 21:1-3 KJV
It is a great injustice to the work of God in our lives when we seek to use Him to achieve personal goals instead of submitting entirely to His foreknowledge and wisdom. This was the case of Hezekiah.
God must have looked down the portals of time and viewed the apostasy of Judah and wanted His faithful servant King Hezekiah to have nothing to do with it, even indirectly. So He sent Hezekiah a message: You’re going to die; get your house in order. Hezekiah had already done a great work for God. He had led his people, God’s people, in righteousness. But Hezekiah wanted more. Friend beware of the lure of more. Even more life when God has made it clear that our days and purpose have been fulfilled in Him.
So, sick Hezekiah decided that his desire was penultimate—give me more years, please! I want to live and not die. Had he submitted to providence and slept when God was putting him to sleep, all would have been better for him and perhaps Judah. Like a child negotiating to stay up a little later than their bedtime, Hezekiah negotiated with God. He told God how faithful he had been. In that moment, focusing on His own faithfulness instead of God’s providence, Hezekiah moaned his way into God’s heart. Our compassionate LORD, like a great father, couldn’t ignore the cry of his faithful child. He gave him 15 more years to live.
Then came the Babylonians. Then the exuding of Hezekiah’s kingly pride: look at my glory. He could have learned from Solomon’s fall, but that’s another story. Then came the warning. Captivity loomed over Judah because of Hez’s choice. Hez accepted the prophecy. Seemed like that’s all there was to the story—all the above. That was 2 Kings 20. But then God showed me more. Turn to 2 Kings 21.
Manasseh. Oh Manasseh. Wicked son from a righteous dad. How? Go back to the added 15 years. What was Hezekiah doing in those years? We may never know all the details, but we know of the boasting and parading in front of the Babylonian visitors. This was a big distraction! Hezekiah was at least momentarily distracted. We don’t know when the Babylonian visitors stopped by. But we know that Manasseh was born 3 years into Hezekiah’s miraculous recovery. Deduction: Manasseh was only 12 years old when he became king. 15 – 12 = 3. Poor baby Manasseh. A possibly distracted dad, caught up in his godly favor more than in his fatherhood responsibilities, or distraught by the impending doom of his choice to showboat his wealth instead of his Savior. Whatever the state, Manasseh missed something. And that missing element might have led to the spiritually unscrupulous early reign of young King Manasseh.
But praise God! Manasseh later repented. Praise God, Hezekiah must have done something right. Not all was lost. Little Manasseh must have seen Hezekiah praying! For after Manasseh’s capture and humiliation before the captors, he humbled himself before God “and prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God” (2 Chronicles 33:13).
So dear Christian friends, let’s be careful of our prayers: what are their general focus and tenor. On what side of God’s will do the answers fall? On His divine providential will? On His permissive will? Let us learn from the Hezekiah story. God’s providence is best!
LEARNING WHILE IN PLAY MODE AND CHORES MODE AT HOME—a Major Part of the Beauty of Christian Homeschooling
I’ve been privilege to observe much learning taking place outside the formal school time.
Examples: The children have a lot to say about Bible lessons when in conversation away from the formal Bible lessons (which we consider a part of homeschooling—Bible/religion is listed as a course)…
Other examples: Most of this week is like off days/light days/play days, but my five-year-old daughter still wanted to do math this morning. So I gave her an arithmetic problem. And, 1/2-hour or so later, my eighth-year-old son was seeking me inquiring, “Daddy, is 1 + 2 + (-3) zero?” (Yes, he got it. 1 + 2 + (-3) = 0.)
Yes, formal school is good, but it’s not everything. Daily worship/devotion with the family, pushing individual devotion for the older kids (8 years or older), pushing regular childhood play above screens, and just giving the children time to process go a long way.
And with students at home with all that extra time, we can teach them to do chores. To prepare for Sabbath. “Six days shalt thou labor…” aid our children are in school most of the laboring hours of the week, how would this work out? BTW: God blessed my family to get chores accepted as a part of homeschooling (we have ways to go to institute that more though…, but it has started…)—by them accepting Home Economics as a course…
Finally, a comment on the length of the formal school day:
these days, I rarely have formal Homeschooling for more than 2 or 3 hours. The rest of the day is theirs to play or to explore and to learn on their own with some guidance. It may mean that they don’t get all of what the world seems important in schools. But learning is more than information-getting. And if they learn to get to know Jesus, and if they let Jesus get to know them in an intimate relationship with Him, then they will ultimately know more than enough! And their intelligence blossoms wonderfully, as God blesses their minds.
I encourage all parents to beware of the world’s system of education. Take what’s good and eschew the dangerous parts that may stunt our children morally and even intellectually. Let God lead. That’s the beauty of Christian homeschooling.
Parenting as Christians: Looking beyond today
This post may not be for everyone. But it may be for someone out there, as it is for me. If you’re struggling like I have been, if you’re looking to God to help you in this great investment of our lives to help guide the lives of our children, then let’s look beyond the present disappointments.
Let’s count the little accomplishments of our children and thank God for them. Let’s not seek glory vicariously through them (I’m preaching to myself first, with this point!).
Let’s not compare our children among themselves or with others outside the family circle.
Let’s look beyond what the child is now and see the child in the future. Present compliance may seem lacking, but if we continue training and nurturing them, what seems like it’s not happening today will come to fruition years in the future! That’s always my hope.
Onward, you mighty parents in the LORD! He’s helping us! He’s helping our children! He’ll help our children grow in His way. Let’s be patient—a quality or property of love (1 Corinthians 13).
Remember the promise concerning the effect of our work as parents is for “when he is old” (Proverbs 22:6). We will not always find immediate gratification in all aspects of parenting. But let us always be compassionate.
Our children are not here to make us happy. They are here to challenge us and to bring us into a closer walk with God—like what happened with Enoch.
“And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:22-24).
I can testify, like Enoch, that fathering has brought me closer to Jesus, to God. It has shown me my flaws. It causes me to seek God more and to embrace the leading of the Holy Spirit.
I know from experience that God is compassionate and I endeavor to follow His example of parenting me. I’m not there yet, but He is still working on me. He is working on you too, reader. Much of the following passage now comes to my mind—
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:8-14).
I endeavor to remember that my children “are dust”, to pity them, to have “mercy toward them”, all while seeking God to properly guide and discipline them. To bear in mind that discipline should be compassionate and merciful, even when it is firm. And this is the hard balance that only a perfect Father can pattern for me.
When I lay in that wooden box and my children come around to look on my still body, my silenced lips and my closed eyes, I don’t want their reflection to be on how much I restricted them from living, but on how much I helped them to see themselves as full human beings with ideas and thoughts to contribute. As full members of the household of faith. As full citizens of heaven. I want to be remembered more for how I listened to their simple little stories and exclamatory outbursts of the excitement of their little discoveries. How I was willing to be respectfully challenged when I was wrong. For portraying a loving but principled father like our Father in heaven.
I DO NOT want to be remembered as a parent who broke their will and controlled them, but as a father who inspired them to have a relationship with their Heavenly Father to whom they voluntarily submitted their wills.
And so I believe in the poignant advice below.
“The parent or teacher who by such instruction trains the child to self-control will be the most useful and permanently successful. To the superficial observer his work may not appear to the best advantage; it may not be valued so highly as that of the one who holds the mind and will of the child under absolute authority; but after years will show the result of the better method of training” (E G White, Child Guidance).
“To direct the child’s development without hindering it by undue control should be the study of both parent and teacher. Too much management is as bad as too little. The effort to “break the will” of a child is a terrible mistake. Minds are constituted differently; while force may secure outward submission, the result with many children is a more determined rebellion of the heart. Even should the parent or teacher succeed in gaining the control he seeks, the outcome may be no less harmful to the child” (E G White, Child Guidance).
I pray that God gives me balance. I pray the same for the reader. No method of cultural parenting is 100% perfect. To say, “I’m a West Indian parent” is not my goal. For West Indians are sinful mortals, like all humans. I already have a perfect model—a Heavenly Father. It’s not that I can’t learn from others. My wife is there to balance me. Other parents who have walked the path before are there also. Parents in my generations can influence me and advice me also. But I must listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him show me who to list me to.
What is good parenting? Who is a good parent? Well, it depends on the metric we’re using. If worldly success is the goal, many anti-Kingdom-of-God people may be praised and emulated. If preparation for the Kingdom of God and training to reach a lost world are our goals, then we can hardly humanly measure the full extent of success on this side. For only in heaven will the full story be known. This is not to deny that fruit will be rendered as per the Holy Spirit moving in the lives of our children. But that’s hardly of value among people in today’s world. So we must be careful of the praise of humans.
I’m the end, only a perfect parent can evaluate parents. He alone knows the highs and lows of experiences that He has with his unruly children, including this writer, and with every human who ever lived. And yet, He still believes in us! Why then would Jesus say, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)?
And lest we despair of the awesome responsibilities of being parents, we have help—
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
And lest we think it’s merely a transactional power from God to us to be left on our own to act and wield this power to our liking, we have the following reality check—
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). It’s all His working and so the credit for good is His and the blame for failure mine, ours.
May our Heavenly Father parent us to parent our children today.