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Healing the Hate

Kim Anderson says there are three steps to healing racism, and it begins with intent. ?We need to be intentional about our desire to learn, intentional about broadening our horizons, intentional about our positive interactions with one another. If we work hard to build relationships with people who are different from us, and demonstrate through our positive interactions that we?re doing it just because they?re a person of value, this begins to break the cycle of ignorance.

?Then we have to model that for our children and grandchildren.

?And finally, we can use media to respond to inequalities when we see them. Everybody has the power of the pen these days on the internet. Speak up! If we don?t lovingly challenge our friends or the people with whom we go to church, school, church, or work, ignorance perpetuates itself.?

And so does the sickness it generates. Future generations of unborn children will be given the chance to develop normally and arrive in this world better prepared to carry on the work of acceptance of those who come later.

Practicing Christians have been given the opportunity to join in a heaven-ordained healing ministry by expressing the full intent of Christ?s powerful invitation found in John 13:34: ?A new command I give you: Love one another.?

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Family Worship

Quick Quiz!

  1. The world?s most popular fruit is: __________.
  2. A fresh egg will __________, but a stale one won?t.
  3. Approximately three jars of __________ are sold every second.
  4. More than 5 million __________ are made for kids every year.

Have you ever thought what the world would be like without color? If all the crayons in your box were gray? It would be very boring without bright-red tomatoes, blue skies, or colorful sunsets. Color is a special gift from God that makes our world a happier place.

Once a little girl began to worry because her mother had become very sick. What would she do if her mother didn?t get well? When a nurse came to see her mother, the little girl slipped from her mother?s bed to the windowsill. There she saw a perfect rainbow arching across the sky and remembered that God had made the rainbow. It?s His promise to everyone, she thought. If He can make the colors exactly the same in all the rainbows in the world, He can heal my mother?that?s His promise, and I accept His promises by faith. And with that thought, the little girl felt better. And in a very short time, so did her mother!

The rainbow is our reminder that God will never flood the entire world again. What a colorful way to say, I love you. You can trust Me for everything!


Quiz answers: (1) tomato, (2) sink in water, (3) peanut butter, (4) crayons

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A Synthesis

Science doesn?t deal with absolute truth. Science can only show us which of our theories best fits the evidence available now. I love science, seeking to discover something worthwhile, but I also value truth. I see the Bible is the best source of truth, even the best source for understanding geology. I can see that as the scientific search has progressed, it has found more and more evidence that agrees with the biblical concept of earth history, as long as we don?t hold onto assumptions that keep us from seeing what is being discovered right in front of us. . . .

My friends and I don?t worry whether we can prove our worldview or our interpretation of geological history. We have confidence that revelation has given us a trustworthy understanding of that history, and it is not up to us to prove that. Actually, that confidence in Scripture gives us a sense of liberating freedom, since it is not up to us to prove anything. If we take an honest approach to research, truth will defend itself. We just seek to be honest with the evidence and open to new insights that our study can bring us to. . . .

I have never heard God speaking any words in my ear. We don?t have access to any private information that is not available to anyone else. I guess it is just that our openness to new ideas, with awareness of both the biblical worldview and the conventional thinking in our fields, causes us to notice things that we would otherwise not notice. We don?t always get it all correct, but we have confidence that a biblical worldview will ultimately lead us in the right direction.


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The Token Christian

We think being Christlike is a piece of cake until no one saves us a slice of the cake: no one acknowledges what a great person we are, no one mentions our name at the Wednesday prayer meeting, and no one favorites our humble brag. I want to be a real Christian. One who serves silently but loves loudly. I don?t need to be your token Christian friend. I want to be your real friend; one that you don?t have to crop the edges of your life with. I want people to tell me when they mess up. I want them to know that my love isn?t conditional; that their sins won?t change the value I see in their humanity. I want to love people as Christ loves me.

I?ve been a hypocrite. I?ve played up my religiosity and downplayed my struggles. My idea of sacrifice has been letting someone cut in line at Starbucks without me pulling their hair. I want to start being satisfied with just being kind and actually start seeking opportunities where I can make sacrifices for other people, regardless of whether they deserve it.

PS: God loves you. And I assure you, you don?t deserve it.

I am resigning as the token Christian. I wasn?t all that good at it anyway. I need my life to say more about God and his compassion than it says about me and mine.

?Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight reign on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless? (James 1:26).


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Just Teaching

The love of one's neighbor, which Jesus championed, was affirmed as an equally great commandment in Luke 10:27. This recognition led to the telling of the well known story of the good Samaritan verses 30-37, which urges that the responsibility to those in need transcends national boundaries and ethnic prejudices, even when these are carefully maintained in religious garb. Jesus also emphasized that arguing about how far our responsibility to others may extend is not as important as acting as a neighbor would.

Jesus' harshest characterization in this story is of the priest and the Levite; two religious men who should have known and responded better. Too often, this parable has been used to portray an opportunistic good deed or random act of kindness. But in the context of His recurring criticism of the religious
establishment and because the story was told in response to a religious lawyer's question, it is better read as unmasking, by creative subversion, the oppressive system that would leave someone on the side of the road rather than cause a religious official to inconvenience, pollute, or risk himself. As such, Jesus was calling out a religious attitude of systemic injustice.


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Jesus and Those in Need

As John's disciples stood wondering at His silence, the ...diseased ones of all classes, some urging their own way, some borne by their friends, were eagerly pressing into the presence of Jesus. The voice of the mighty Healer penetrated the deaf ear. A word, a touch of His hand, opened the blind eyes to behold the light of day, the scenes of nature, the faces of friends, and the face of the Deliverer. Jesus rebuked disease and banished fever. His voice reached the ears of the dying, and they arose in health and vigor. Paralyzed demoniacs obeyed His word, their madness left them, and they worshiped Him. While He healed their diseases, He taught the people. The poor peasants and laborers, who were shunned by the rabbis as unclean, gathered close about Him, and He spoke to them the words of eternal life...

The disciples bore the message, and it was enough. John recalled the prophecy concerning the Messiah, "The Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."   Isaiah 61:1, 2. The works of Christ not only declared Him to be the Messiah, but showed in what manner His kingdom was to be established.   -The Desire of Ages, pp. 216, 217.



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Learning Through Serving

The purpose of the church is to reach our communities for the glory of God, so we can make disciples who will join with us in this missional movement. God does not merely send the church on a mission. God is already on a mission, and the church must join God.

Unfortunately, most Christians have divorced the teachings of Jesus from the methods of Jesus, and yet they expect the results of Jesus. Life-on-life relationship building was the method of Jesus. He dealt with each person as a precious soul belonging to God, Jesus himself, and loved them, cared for them, and showed them how to follow in His footsteps. We must live life as He lived.

?Looking at the man, Jesus felt a genuine love for him? (Mark 10:21, NLT). . . . Jesus? ability to build connections with people led to relationships rooted in love and trust. His ability to do this was remarkable because individual diversity can be one of the biggest challenges that any leader may encounter. Each individual has his or her own way of learning, adopting, processing, and applying new ideas and information. Acquiring skills that help individuals adapt to new learning strategies is necessary for leaders. Leaders must intentionally focus on learning how others process, what their values are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what their challenges and opportunities are. Understanding these components will nurture trusting relationships between leaders and those they lead and will make them more effective teachers and mentors.


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The Problem of Failure

Our salvation comes only by grace through faith. We don?t deserve it, we cannot earn it, and we have no merit through which to acquire it. Just as salvation obtained through grace brings blessings, obedience also brings blessings.

There are many biblical examples of the connection that exists between obedience and blessings. The Bible also shows the connection between disobedience and failure. Not everyone who disconnects from God feels immediately, but the majority of people who have experienced failure did so due to living disconnected from God at some point in their lives.

In fact, it could be that your life is not as marvelous as you would like it to be. Plan A, plan B, and plan C didn?t work out. It could be that everything you touch turns into dust, not gold. ?Crisis? is your middle name; problems and difficulties are your constant companions. If you are experiencing failure in this moment, I invite you to make examining your relationship with God your priority. The further you are from God, the closer you are to failure. The reason Moses failed was his tendency to depend on himself and not God. I?m not saying that proximity to God eliminates all our problems, but his presence in our lives makes a positive difference.

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Go Home

If God isn?t our Judge, what exactly is He? I?d like to suggest a much more accurate title.

What do we need most when we?re lost? Someone to shake his or her finger at us and shout, ?You?re lost?? Do we need to know exactly how foolish we?ve been or how stupid our mistakes were? Do we need to study deeply into our past transgressions and, at long last, conclude that, yes indeed, we are totally lost? Or do we need someone to step up to us, extend a hand, and invite us to a life-altering meal? Do we need someone to say, ?Hey, friend, I?m not condemning you. Go out there and try again.? Perhaps we need our God to look over at us from the position of painful experience and say, ?You know what? There?s hope. No matter how dark the night, no matter how far you may have wandered, no matter how dire your situation, there is a way out. There?s a plan. Don?t be afraid.?

Those aren?t the words of a judge. Those are the words of a loving, understanding guide.

Life isn?t for the faint of heart. Sin makes sure that each step the Christian takes has the potential for pain and suffering. But when we prayerfully press our ?Go Home? button, we find our way highlighted by easy-to-understand commandments, the red flags of guilt, and the gentle leading of Someone who?s made the journey before us. Soon things begin to look familiar again, and we know that the road we are on will take us to that one place we long to be. The heavenly satellites have found us. We?re going home.

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Setting Boundaries in Families

God wants to help us be in control of our emotional lives. This means we must guard against trying to control others, and at the same time, not let others control us. Here are some specific ways that we can do this:

First, learn how to set boundaries for yourself so that you can make a conscious decision about how to act respectfully toward someone rather than reacting impulsively. If you are having trouble in this area, seek professional counseling to learn how to set boundaries so you can become everything God meant you to be.

Second, teach your children how to set boundaries to protect themselves from abuse. An easy boundary to remember is the basic threefold rule of discipline: ?You may not hurt yourself. You may not hurt others. You may not hurt things.? Use these rules to teach your children how to make decisions about whether an action is appropriate or not. . . .

Third, allow others the freedom to make their own decisions and take responsibility for those decisions. When you do this, you will keep yourself from crossing the line and abusing others with control. You must watch your anger, criticism, looks of disappointment, nagging, and pouting. These control techniques can harm others, and they definitely fall outside the lines of healthy interactions. . . . Children learn valuable lessons when they are allowed to experience the consequences of their decisions?both good and bad! As children mature, true love sets them free to become the people God designed them to be.

Fourth, live by the golden rule, treating others as you would like to be treated: with care, respect, acceptance, forgiveness, and trust.

Life is a long, narrow road, where crossing the lines can be dangerous and deadly to your family. Don?t destroy the people you care about by overstepping healthy emotional boundaries and using anger, criticism, withdrawal, force, or manipulation to control others. Keep it between the lines!

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Paul's Olive Tree and Abraham's Expanding Family Tree

If you believe in Christ, the Messiah, you are the seed of Abraham and an heir of the covenant promise. Paul was speaking to a primarily Gentile church when he said, ?If you are Christ?s, then you are Abraham?s seed, and heirs? of the promise made to Abraham. The Messiah was at the heart of God?s promises and His covenant with Abraham, so by being Abraham?s seed, we are heirs. The Gentile believers were grafted into the olive tree of God along with the Jewish believers that pre-dated them. They grew along with them and will be a part of them until Christ comes again. . . .

So who is ?Israel?? Who is a prince with God who prevails? Jesus. . . . He is the true Israel. Jacob, his twelve sons, and the nation of Israel were all foreshadows of the real Israel, the Messiah. . . . If we define Israel (at least as it applies to Romans 11:26) as Jesus, then all those from the time of Adam until Jesus returns who ?worship the Father in spirit and in truth? (John 4:23), whether Jews or Gentiles, will be saved. We can say with Paul, Yes, ?all Israel will be saved.?

The Power of a Promise, by Ralph L. Ringer

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God With Them

As He is introduced to us in Matthew 1;23, "God with us" is a wonderful and comforting truth. But the risk comes with how we define and limit that "us."  Our temptation is that "us" is about people like us, or only people we like. But it must also include those we don't like, those who make us  uncomfortable or even afraid.

To a degree, perhaps as an interim step, it might be useful to reframe this beautiful truth as "God with them."  For those of us who need reminding, this offers us glimpses of what it can mean to be marginalized and allows us to admire the with-ness of God from a fresh perspective. From this vantage point, caring for and serving the world and those around us is one way to experience the reality of "God with us  -see Matthew 25:31-46.

Musician and activist Bono put it like this: "God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunities and lives, and God is with us if we are with them."


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