The Answer: Why do Black People Tend to Think Whites Are Racist Or Hateful Toward Blacks?

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First things first, the goal in answering is NOT to bring about anyone’s emotion. This isn’t about morality therefore in this discussion it doesn’t matter if anyone thinks a particular treatment is tragic or justified. A psychologist or economist limits their emotion and opinion in their analyses. Yes, they consider it in their notes. But in order for them to see more clearly and objectively they leave as much out as possible. Too much emotion may cloud and control our reasoning, as C.S. Lewis once framed it. So this “answer” is not about justification of riots, protests, cop killing, slavery, buying candy, or talking back to parents.

How am I somewhat objective and qualified?

If you follow me on social media you may notice that I have never talked about race issues. This is because (1) I’d rather write about Jesus; (2) honestly, I’ve grown to feel ashamed and embarrassed that I am black (something that applies to this topic but may be elaborated on in a future post) and (3) it always seemed pointless coming from me. That is, people would think I’m biased because I am black. I would NOT get upset at that either. I can’t really blame others for that natural reaction. If a Boston resident tries to tell me how great Tom Brady is…I’m naturally going to be skeptical because of course that guy loves Brady and The Patriots. However, I am opening up now because I realize much of the stuff I know isn’t known by many whites and what I can say isn’t being articulated by many blacks.

In today’s world, many people on both sides are not good with listening and being OBJECTIVE. In my experience black people get too emotional inside their bubble that they can’t have an objective discussion with white people. There has grown an innate level of distrust. Many whites, whether they care or not, have a hard time as well because they have natural blinders and historical privileges that prevent them from seeing objective as well. There is nothing inherently wrong with either side in their reasons because it’s not really a conscious effort. It’s naturally subconscious. For the past 50 years, most of this is due to the economic and sociological effects of our society.

What do I mean by sociological and economic effects? I’ll explain. This answer will be in 5 different phases: Micro, Macro, Familiarity of Stereotypes, Indifference, and Dr. King’s Frustration.

We’ve got to do a little ground work before we start though:

My professional career is in community and economic development. This is the process and policies by which a nation, state, county or city improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people. So what my company does is try to bring companies, large and small, to our state. Jobs, capital investment, and revenue are the goal. And darnit we will sell this state the best we can. With statistics, innovation, and persuasion, and more.

Various KEY factors come into play, such as transportation, quality of life, location, money, branding, etc. If you look it up, you’ll see that your own city and county has its own economic development department, chamber of commerce, and other affiliates that are focused on this initiative together. Economic development directly affects the current generation AND the generations long after it. 

Ok now, do we understand that? If so, we can move on.

1. The Micro

Now let’s begin to answer the question of why many black people see whites as responsible AND what is the reason of how much of the black community is where it is today.

We’ve got to go to history of course.

Set race aside and just view it in an Economic development lens. Let’s go back to Tulsa – however, not 2016, but 1921. There was an area in Tulsa that was booming! It was a black community. It was rare because of course the odds weren’t in their favor but they just luckily rolled a 7 with the dice multiple times. As one of the most successful and wealthiest black communities in the United States during the early 20th Century, it was popularly known as America’s “Black Wall Street” until the Tulsa race riot of 1921. They had black lawyers, doctors, teachers, black-owners, entertainment, oil, etc. (Now again, ignore the race factor for now…it doesn’t matter for this analysis piece). Then one night the outside white people grew too jealous, came in and killed many of the successful people and burned down their businesses and streets. It was horrific. They even punished the few white people around for not doing it sooner.

Then the white political and business leaders proactively prevented that community from reconstruction or picking themselves up. This wasn’t hard because due to rights back then black people didn’t have much of that ability anyways.

So think economic development: They are SCREWED for about the next 100 YEARS. For the next 60 years those blacks won’t know about diving into the community and economic development process. How could they? Their schools are IMMEDIATELY affected. Their job structure is shattered. Their families destroyed. They are currently crippled as a society. Not only that but also their kids’, kids’, kids’ are also now crippled. It becomes a generational snowball effect due to that initial occurrence and the laws established for years to come. There was no hope for them and it becomes too hard to thrive. Therefore, poverty in Tulsa. Therefore, violence because that’s all you have and know due to having to survive from being poor and having no good education or possibly/knowledge of escaping. (Although, poverty doesn’t correlate to violence). What happened doesn’t just end in a year…..it resonates within the fabric of a society for years to come in the form of both emotional distress AND economic instability (incorporating education, companies, businesses, families, crime, etc).

In my job, bringing in 1 company positively affects that entire community – their family benefit, the nearby retail and restaurants benefits, the schools benefit, tourism boosts, more companies follow suit, and more. This occurs positively for the next generations in that area as well. Black Wall Street had the opposite case. And it was not a single company. It was ALL of it.

That is  an objective analysis of cause and effect. Again, it doesn’t matter if what happened was bad or good in this analysis. FYI, this happened in other places as well. We must understand this “momentum effect” in this micro example in order to understand the answer in its fullness.

2. The Macro

To keep low with word-count I’m going to bypass the macro. It has similar cadence to the micro piece but without the violence and is, of course, on a larger scale. Please ask me in person or on Facebook if you want that piece as well.

3. Familiarity Of Stereotypes

I grew up around Blacks and Hispanics, but over the past 10 years of my life at least 95% of my friends and acquaintances are white. So it is extremely hard for me to stereotype people in either group because I have lived life with so many different types and I know their souls and hearts. The way society is laid out (because of white flight, economic structure, convenience, and family history) black people have been left to live amongst one another. So those black people naturally HAVE to CATEGORIZE all whites into the same group. That is how a human brain works.  This doesn’t happen to me because I have lived among others.

White people can easily get categorized by what is seen on television, social media, oImage result for racismr in stories told by the older generations. For example, I’m sure none of us know any native Cambodians personally because we don’t live around them. So we naturally group Cambodians into one category of people. Now we know people in Cambodia are all different with various opinions, personalities, languages, and subcultures. However, in our minds we have tendencies to group them together don’t we?

4. Indifference

The disbelief from much of the black community that a shooting or possible wrong-doing
will gather positive help from the white community is from past years of “neglect” from that side and their current state of “emotionlessness”. That continual reaction from many white people makes it hard for many black people to listen/trust simply one white person with good intentions, when numerous other whites have failed that quota.
Let me explain.

If my mom had cancer and a stranger had cancer I’d show much more sympathy for my mother than the stranger. I naturally have a different level of connectivity and value for my mom.

One group continues to uniformly state “we should wait for the facts after these shootings before doing anything”. I agree, in theory. In a perfect world we should always wait and diagnose a situation. However, this isn’t a perfect world. Those same people flip-flop depending on what the crime is and who did the crime.

There is no objectivity in our reactions. We all react different and with different poise depending on what it is. The less subjective empathy I have, the more ability I have to refrain and diagnose the situation and wait for the facts. But when it’s my mom or a friend it becomes tough to control.

For the bomber “suspect” at the Boston Marathon – we wanted his head immediately. With a man “accused” of child molestation we want to give him the death penalty once he’s caught. When a college athlete is “accused” of rape we want him immediately kicked off the team before the trial begins. All the while, many in the black people continually watch a black person killed (justifiably or not) and those same people show unwavering objectivity and poise the entire time. That shows a different level of respect and love.

Black people see the immediate reaction of emotionlessness and interpret it as white people not caring.

In Romans 1 we see that God’s indifference is a very scary form of wrath; different from violence. Hate is NOT just someone spitting on another person. Hate isn’t only the KKK hanging someone. Hate can also be passive. Even Satan knows that. Indifference OVER TIME can be interpreted as unloving and hatred. That’s what happens psychologically in the minds of a people. So we can’t blame them that much, can we?

5. When Dr. King was Frustrated

MLK Jr. led protests in a manner that would “shame” those who were discriminating. People like to say his method was non-violence. Not really –  his method was shame and he used nonviolence to achieve it. His tactic was that if he could have people feel ashamed for how they thought and acted, it’ll force them to change. Read his writings.

What’s interesting is that in his later years when King went to Chicago, he tried his same tactics but the white people beating them didn’t feel ashamed at all. It was different from the South. And it scared MLK. When a people aren’t aware enough to have the ability or respect to feel shame toward the treatment of someone else, then that is when something is off. Which begs the question of what the next step would be.

One friend I debated correctly claimed that ‘King’s tactic did work in the South though, because it was more saturated with Christians’. If that is true then it still proves my point: We, as a nation, are less Christian today. Therefore, King’s tactics of shame won’t work as effectively here anymore. That said, our nation is more like Chicago in that King was scared because it was seemingly and hopelessly in a state of chaotic reasoning that shocked him. It left Martin Luther King afraid and scrabbling for a new tactic. That’s where many in the black society would say we have been growing in subconsciously [through the eyes of blacks and whites]. Even in the past 50 years, before social media.

As scripture says, in the last days nations will turn their backs from Christ. America is doing that. Hence my friend’s point flows into this – shame isn’t working here anymore. hat’s why there are frustrated protests (good or bad) and riots (good or bad). That’s the only next step people can think of on the fly. We all have the same natural tendencies when trapped into a corner for so long.

In conclusion, we cannot just look at “today’s” knee jerk reaction of the black community. We must look holistically. This is similar to chaos theory. It’s ALL connected. This isn’t about black on black crime BUT black on black crime is a subset of the results of history. It’s not about Charlotte. Charlotte can be 99% wrong…but it doesn’t matter. The deep damage was already done.

This isn’t out of the blue. It’s a past 300-400 years thing. It’s a 1920s and 1980s thing. Look at old Richard Pryor or Dave Chappelle stand-up and old low budget black films from the 1970s-1990s. They are screaming and crying about the same killings. And no one cared. Listen to R&B songs from that time period. They were constantly crying about it and asking for help and America turned it’s head. They didn’t have Facebook Live to make it public. I’m not making this stuff up. So little by little day by day that people group grew to a particular view of white people. Skepticism. Distrust.

The solution is another story, but when a black person tells a white person they don’t understand or aren’t qualified – They are really saying that you don’t know how they got there and why. Therefore they are not truly known and loved. But if the black person knows that the white person objectively knows this stuff and still wants to love on them…..goodness gracious the effect that will have.

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Dating: 3 Reasons Why Women CAN Make the First Move

Well well well, here we are again – Dating. In the comments section of an older blog post, a woman recently asked me the infamous question: “Is It Alright For A Girl To Ask Out A Guy?”  It’s an age old question that has become increasingly popular alongside the rise of women in 21st Century America. Women are surpassing men in education and excelling in the workplace, financially, gender equity, and leadership. These cultural changes bring rise to variations of this dating question.

As a man, I prefer to make the first move AND ask out the woman. As a cocky, hopeless romantic … it thrills me to do so. That is just me.

To avoid “personal preferences” or “semantics” as much as possible – instead of addressing the topic of women directly “asking out” men – I will address why it may be alright for the woman to make the “first move” or upfront “initiate interest” in the man.

While conventional wisdom has us generally believing it is ideal for a man to make that first move,  we still should ask [on any matter] what type of investigation was previously done for us to come to such a conclusion.

Does it make sense?

Is there a line? Has that line changed?

Are we robotically following a rule because it is all we’ve ever known?

Was the notion modeled during an historical/traditional outdated set up of society/culture during a particular time period?

I mean, historically, how could a woman ask a man out without herself having a job, money, education, or any status of power?

Here are 3 reasons why it may be alright for a girl to make the first move:
  1. Just Because You Make The First Move Does Not Mean He Cannot Lead

There has been this notion that if a woman initiates first, it subtracts from the man’s opportunity of leadership. However, does this reasoning add up? After you tell him you are interested, it can still be the man’s job to agree and maybe pick out the date spot. It can still be the man’s job to pick you up on time, grab your coat, and pay for the date. It can still be the man’s job to guide, protect and cultivate the woman for the duration of the relationship.

Over time, as you define the relationship, you can make clear to him in what you’re looking for in a man as a leader. Tell him what you expect EARLY on. If he continually doesn’t meet that criteria then stop and move on.

Dating with marriage in mind is important, regardless of who makes the first move. We all know relationships where the man asked out first, but turned out to be a sub-par leader to the woman. This must mean that the first move has no direct correlation to the man’s leadership ability or leadership potential.

  1. The Romantic Challenge Versus The Proactive Challenger Fairy-tale

There is a difference between actively pursuing someone and initially engaging someone. The former is over an extended time period while the latter is at a particular time. With both phrases, the person on the receiving end is the “challenge”. It is said that in the initial stage of a relationship, the lady needs to wait patiently and be the challenge sought out by a man rather than being the challenger.

To actively pursue someone takes time and effort in cultivating. Biblically it should be done by the man, with the woman hopefully being receptive to that man’s servitude toward her. This is correct and does not change. Conversely, to initially engage someone is to show that there is simply interest in that person.

Disney movies taught us that it is romantic for the woman to always be the challenge for a man to find and love. Any seasoned married couple would say that Life teaches a very different story. The true challenge of is in Month 2 of dating after you’ve ran out of small talk. The true challenge is loving one another through the numerous faults and weaknesses. The true challenge is liking one another after the euphoria of physical attraction wears off. The true challenge is loving one another after your children appear and your sex life becomes a part-time job.

Doing life together is the true challenge. The true challenge is where the solid, sustaining love is found. That is what matters most. Disney leaves that part out. A relationship should be looked at more holistically, not just the first 2 minutes of, “Hey, I’m interested in you”.

So the woman does not lose her title of the Romantic Challenge just by making the first move. She possibly gains a  lifetime of true love.

3. Relationships Are About You Too

Maybe the woman has a Type A personality and the man has Type B. The social sciences domain have written many articles on men becoming increasingly more passive. Waiting for the passive guy, the oblivious guy, or the Type B guy could take a long while. For Type A women, it seems like eternity. What’s the worst that can happen if you tell him you are interested? You’ll stop over-analyzing and finally get answers, that is what. Some guys say they wouldn’t mind if you did so anyways. 

The situation plays a factor as well. Are you already friends? Is he your sidekick?  Are you strangers? Can you or a friend to invite him to a group event? How much of a “nudge” is needed for the guy to get the hint? It is a case by case basis.

It is natural to like a guy. You aren’t wrong for wanting to ask him out. Whatever you do, be confident not clingy. Be assertive not aggressive. Read the signs: Is he shy, does he remember the details of what you say, does he keep momentum going? In the end, God will provide in His timing no matter what we do or how foolish we do it. Waiting isn’t a bad thing at all, and sometimes that first nudge wouldn’t hurt either.

Don’t Cry For Me

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I am a dead man. Eventually, that is. If you’re very familiar with my blog, you’ll know that the book of Ecclesiastes is my favorite in the Bible. In his old age, King Solomon becomes the grandfather that I never had. One of my grandfathers died before I was born. The other died when I was young. Therefore, Solomon has become both my spirit animal and quasi-granddaddy.

Some of my favorite moments of Solomon’s wisdom writing are his uses of paradoxes. As when he says verses such as:

“The day of death is better than the day of birth”

“You learn more at a funeral than at a feast”

“Sorrow is better than laughter”

“A sad face is good for the heart”

(Verses above from Chapter 7:1-4).

Just those verses alone are enough to make you think King Solomon was in a loony bin. Who in their right mind would say, “Oh yeah, dying is way better than being born!”

However, looking deeper we will see that Solomon is saying that it is beneficial to look at our own lives and be introspective by paying attention with where we stand with God and with our life. He is saying that it gets tougher to do so when you’re laughing at a party or stuffing your face with a delicious food. Solomon, who loves to host parties with thousands of people and eat giant feasts (1 Kings 4), is claiming that in those joyous times….no one at that moment thinks deeply about their life. He and us are too busy laughing and having a good time. King Solomon is saying that times of sorrow are better because they make you think. They will slow you down and sometimes being slowed down in such a fast-paced world is a good thing. A funeral makes you realize that your day is coming sooner than you realize.

I have been to about 12 weddings in the past 3 years and I never had a moment when I thought about the deep parts of my soul. It is at the funerals where I stopped and became honest with myself. See I could be wrong, but people don’t usually question life during a Super Bowl party. On the other hand, anytime there is a terrorist bombing or natural disaster, people then realize how precious their time on earth is. It is in the deserts when we realize we need God. Maybe Solomon and the Word know a little something.

As Matt Chandler put it, “birth” is about the potential of what can be done. For the Christian, “death” is about the fulfillment of ALL that Christ had planned for us here on earth. It is finished and now it is finally time for the Promised Land.

But wouldn’t I be upset if I died so young? What about getting married with a family and kids? Wouldn’t I be sad to miss Kobe Bryant make an NBA comeback at the age of 42? Don’t I want to one day see N’Sync perform their 30-year reunion tour? Well yes, I would absolutely love to experience all of that. Still, when compared to the glory of Christ, none of that matters. Any other elevated view is idolatry.

By faith, if I were to suddenly die today, no worries. I have had a life lived well. The opportunity of life given to me was a glorious gift in itself. But on top of that, let’s forget about focusing on what we didn’t get to do. How about what we DID get to do?! Here is a snippet of an ongoing list I have that, if I died, can be read at my funeral. Anytime something stirs my soul I try to add something to it. Especially the little things.

So if I die, don’t cry for me.

Don’t cry for me:

– I have laughed until my abs started hurting and I started crying.

– I have already made my family proud.

– I have eaten enough potato chips to feed a small country. Seriously.

– My eldest nephew has cried every time I’ve left his house. So he’s cried for me enough. He has taught me unconditional love better than anyone else in this world. And for that lesson, I owe him more than I can ever repay.

– I have seen people worship the Lord and get saved.

– I have seen someone get prayed over and healed before my very eyes.

– I have been in fist fights and won.

– I have been in fist fights and lost. And learned from them.

– I have watched some beautiful YouTube videos and cried my eyes out with joy.

– I once took a 4th of July vacation to Selma, AL that was more fun than my 4th of July vacation to New York City.

– I got over my fear of dogs….just to impress a girl. But I got over the fear, nonetheless.

– I have been dancing a few times until my legs went numb. And I danced some more.

– I have made friends that I can call family.

– I have been to Vegas and won $128 on the first night.

– I watched the Notebook movie over 60 times.

– I have won a sports championship. Softball. Twice baby!

– I have traveled.

– My mom and dad have become more than just my parents.

– Twice, I have been loudly cheered for onstage in front of hundreds of people for poetry.

– I have been booed offstage in front of hundreds of people doing poetry. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not even getting cheered again.

– I have seen all the Harry Potter movies.

– I have intellectually debated atheists for the faith and not backed down.

– I have discipled and seen.

– I have read a good book.

– I have been to some extremely hippie towns and had a great time.

– I have been involved in 11 car accidents and lived.

– I have witnessed people truly love on one another.

-Some of my favorite memories were playing baseball for hours in the back yard with my brothers.

– I have played soccer in the front yard for hours with my little nephews. Or at least, the odd variation of the game they call soccer.

– I have had times of doing absolutely nothing during hangouts with friends and had a blast.

-I did a summer internship in Vicksburg, MS and….well actually you can cry for me about that. Good gosh that was a very boring time!

– I spent some amazing summers at Clemson University.

– Don’t cry for me…Jesus Christ saved me. I am dining with Him now.

– Don’t cry for me….I am home sweet home.

 

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4 Reasons To Take Spiritual Breaks From Facebook

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 7.48.55 PMIt was only a two-month hiatus from Facebook. The plan was to take a break and relax at the [metaphorical] beach. I would sip on pina coladas while my mind was cleared from all the cutter Facebook brings. Everything was fine the first week. Soon enough, to my shock, I began to notice that I was not quite at the beach, as I presumed. I then realized that the beach and pina coladas were a mirage. And so, for the next 8 weeks, it turned out that God had me in a dry desert so that he could wrestle with me about some deep things in my life that I had not noticed beforehand.

Sure, God could have told me what he wanted without leading me off Facebook and into a lonely desert. Still, sometimes the volume of distraction is too loud for us to hear Him. Sometimes we need silence. Sometimes we need to be led out into a dry season. No one enjoys the desert, and rightly so. There are times in the desert when all you hear is your own darkness, Satan’s calling, or worse…nothing at all. However, it is in those places that God can work on us and mold us into better soil. God did a good work on me in the desert. I did not enjoy it for a second, ha. But I was humbled and it was good.

In that time of silence He also allowed me to take a step back so that my eyes would be a little further opened into the subtle nuance of toxicity that Facebook and social media carry. Funny, because we almost need it just to survive in the modern world. But remember, Satan is always at work accomplishing his goals. Through both small and large means:

1) Facebook Can Give You an “I am God” Complex

Since society can date back, three components have had the largest impact on connecting and shrinking the world: Communication, Travel, and Technology. There is much good that streams from these three avenues. Facebook, although while yielding similar positive outcomes, gives us so much knowledge of others and a more holistic view of our surroundings that it makes us feel “bigger” than we are. Facebook gives us a false sense of omniscience and omnipresence.

This directly clashes with what we’ve known historically and even today. Our bodies, the natural world, and the Bible have constantly shown us how small and finite we truly are. All the while Facebook puts everything at our fingertips. I can find out where the grandparents of my friends live and who my old high school girlfriend is dating now. What was defined as stalking 25 years ago is now a regular stint on a cell phone app. We can find out almost anything about anyone anywhere. Do you not think this sense of power has crept into our spirit or Spirit? It is hard to worship God when you have an elevated opinion of yourself. Humility is steadily becoming a foreign concept. Soon we’ll have to visit museums just to see it.

Our confidence should be in the Lord not in ourselves (Hebrews 4:16, Psalm 44:6).

2) Facebook Gives a False Sense of Meaning

The human heart always searches for fullness and meaning. It’s a natural progression that we continually strive for no matter the obstacle. Even someone who commits suicide is looking for fullness because they believe that there is a state they can be in that is better than their current state. We search for fullness everywhere but can never seem to achieve that satisfaction so we always go on to the next best thing in line.

You can try to find fullness in something or someone, but it will ultimately fail you. Luckily most of the time there will eventually be clear evidence of this case.

The deadly thing about Facebook is that its failure to satisfy is extremely unclear. Facebook has an infinite amount of sectors to possibly make us happy for a while. With so many options we’ll continually go from page to page, video to video, event to event looking for the “next thing”. The scary realization is that we can literally go on and on surfing through Facebook without ever hitting a dead-end. “Hmm, ok I didn’t reach 100+ Facebook likes with that picture, lets try another one that I’ll post at this particular time when most people are active.” We believe that if we could get a few more likes then what doesn’t satisfy us will finally satisfy us. Weird.

We have become a society who, instead of viewing meaning outwardly, has turned into finding meaning within ourselves and our own abilities and what we achieved and in doing so we have slowly forgotten that we do not stand as Ultimate.

This ends in weakening our view of friendship and love. There is a serious lack of depth and root. Thus our framework of how God carries out His love for us and how our relationship with Him should look is weakened as well.

3) Facebook Draws An Aroma of Negativity

From political posts to social posts … Darkness lingers via different sources. It is tiring and exhausting to see debates and arguments carried out online. With an increase in societal issues and political shifts, we are constantly bombarded with hot topics that many people who suddenly think they have PhD’s on the matter feel the need to comment on. Your Facebook feed sadly becomes a wall of illogical reasoning that is filled with emotional bias and slander.

From jealous whispers to pictures of superficiality … On a daily basis we are called into a world of discontentment. Social media has traces of a popularity contest which ostracizes and cause depression. Comparison robs us of joy. That negativity can build if we do not take a break and treat those thoughts. Otherwise we can end up in an emotional prison robbed of purity.

4) Worst of All, Facebook Can Hinder God From Speaking to You.

47% of all Internet users are solely on Facebook. Entertainment is one of Satan’s favorite substitutes for joy. With quietness and alone time God is better able to speak to you. It is not a simple a + b = c equation just to get God on your personal Snapchat. But if we put ourselves under the umbrella of His presence and His Word then it allows us the opportunity to truly hear from Him. Facebook is a loud tool that has the ability to keep the volume on high if we allow it the power. It is not hard for Satan, once he grabs a foothold, to keep that volume increasing until you quirt God altogether.

We all have struggles, fears, addictions, pride, idolatry, doubts, depression and stress; we are all broken … but we need quality time with God for Him to be able to clean some of that “junk” out. As an old pastor once said, “Many people want to be good but no one wants to be holy. The holy live in eternity… all others live in time.”

Let us be watchful. Some of you may not even relate to the desert. Some of you relate and have been in the desert for months. Some for years. John the Baptist was in a lonely desert for 20 years with God, then preached from 6 months, and Jesus called him the greatest man to ever live! This concept of Facebook is very easy to miss. I had to learn the hard way until God shook me. I speak as a dying person speaking to other dying people. There is a partial element to Facebook that is a silent, life-sucking toxic environment that will trap you in boredom and, in turn, limit the potential that God desires you to have. Let us be watchful.

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Hebrews 12:1b – Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

A Short Story of Lying

A young man had been hiking through a forest until sunset when he began to realize that he was lost. The constant unfamiliar scenery led him to presume that he was not heading toward the trail’s exit.

Suddenly, he saw another hiker approaching him. When the figure reached him, it turned out to be himself! Confused, but too focused on being lost, the young man did not take serious notice of this identity puzzle and asked the twin which direction to head. The twin responded, “You should head East.”

So the young man headed East for almost an hour until he realized he was more lost than in his previous state. Straightaway, another twin version of himself then approached. When the young man asked for directions, the twin responded, “I’m not sure. I’m lost myself.” The young man and the twin laughed and talked for about an hour.

Still lost, the young man headed onward. A third twin approached: “You should go North. The North Star is a compass you fool!” The young man obliged, only to get further lost since he did not know the location of the exit in relation to the North Star.

The sky grew dark. A fourth twin approached: “This is a great workout, isn’t it? The women love leg muscles, aye-aye.” Though tired, the young man reasoned that since he’d gone this far he might work out a little more.

After climbing more hills, the very first twin who had approached him earlier, returned. “Still lost? Friend, the answer was inside of you all along. You are intelligent enough to do this on your own!”

This spiked the young man with motivation. A light bulb popped in his head as he realized he now knew where to go. He sprinted towards that direction.

The young man collapsed as he saw that he’d just ended up at a dead end waterfall.

Suddenly, another hiker approached him. However, this hiker was different. He walked with a limp and was not even dressed for hiking. When the hiker came near, the young man realized that he did look like a twin – only a much older version.

The elderly twin spoke, “Young man, here is why you’ve gotten so lost: If there is one thing you can be sure of, it is that you should not be the main guide of your life. In your life, you have lied to yourself more than anyone else has ever lied to you. The more you try to be your own leader, the more you will end up lost. You cannot save yourself. When a man understands more and more clearly the evil that is in him and how limited he is, then he’s learning. A moderately bad man knows he is NOT very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is ALL right. Man is flawed. As for God, He makes the way perfect. He lights the lamp in the darkness in order for you to see. Listen to Him.

The young man arose. His heart realigned. He mind set straight. His humbled soul ready to listen. Ready for the light.

Abortion, Cancer, and Netflix Marathons

With arthritis-ridden knees and a cancer-stricken body, the older gentleman laid there in his hospital bed. Being in his last stage of life, Brian’s body was barely functional and his lowly speech was almost undetectable. Neither was his vision as clear as it once had been. Nevertheless, through all the chemotherapy he was blessed to still have a sharp brain in his last few days of life. This came in handy, as the only two things he had left in his life were his relationship with Christ and family.

Brian’s granddaughter, Alex, walks into the hospital room. They say it is not right to have “favorites” amongst family members – however, the old man adored Alex. Not only was she his favorite but she also was following in his footsteps by attending his college Alma mater, Clemson University. She was entering into her junior year majoring in history and sociology. She’d visit him regularly during his early stages of cancer. A hint of jealousy would sometimes flow through his veins as he noticed the energetically familiar gleam in his granddaughter’s eyes as he listened to her tell stories of her adventures in Clemson.

Today is different. She is different. Brian noticed, through his blurry vision, an unfamiliar facial expression on Alex’s face as she walked in. Her footsteps slow and purposeful. Her posture tense. She avoided eye contact. “Oh gosh, this can’t be good” Brian joked aloud in a whisper, attempting to put a smile on Alex’s face.

“Morning, Grandpa,” Alex began, “you’re probably wondering why I haven’t visited you in a while. I’ve been wanting to ask you something about your past.”

Those words naturally developed nervousness in the elderly gentleman. He immediately began thinking of every wrong he may have done in the past. “Go ahead Sweetheart,” Brian managed to reply in a soft voice.

Alex continued, “As I’ve gotten deeper into history courses I’ve noticed some things that worry me. We’ve studied the horrific atrocities of the Holocaust and how people stood around and did nothing. We’ve studied the amazing neglect of the treatment of blacks before and during the Civil Rights Movement. In your time, abortion was a hot, problematic issue. It was a brutal, disgusting ordeal. The sophistication of science grew during your time to undoubtedly prove that you were taking lives.”

Alex paused for a few seconds in order to regain emotional composure. She glanced away, nervously avoiding eye contact, and then continued, “The death toll of Joseph Stalin’s regime was 40 million. Hitler’s was 30 million. From 1973-2015 alone, America murdered 56 million babies. What on earth were you all thinking and what did you do to try to stop it?”

Silence ensued. Memories of Netflix marathons, Super Bowl parties, YouTube videos, innumerable hours at the gym, and girls flooded the old man’s mind as the remembered the things he focused on during that time period.

He sluggishly responded, “But … back then … science was cloudy on that topic. With limited technology anyone was able to back either side with science. “ Brian hoped that answer would be sufficient and she’d move on.

“What about the fact that the Bible already gave you the truth?” Asked Alex.

“Sweetheart…” the old man pleaded; as to again insinuate the desire for a topic change.

Noticeably unsatisfied with that response, Alex leaned further into his bedside. She looked into Brian’s eyes as if she was begging to hear something more satisfactory. “Grandpa, please tell me I’m wrong. See, it seems that you and America were just as apathetic and indifferent on abortion as Hitler was with the killing of Jews. As if you were killing babies and loving it. What is worse is that the babies had no chance of even defending themselves. Did you at least stay up at night worrying about the large number of children that died in the womb that day? Most of the abortions had nothing to do with difficult circumstances but rather a means of convenience.”

Finally calming down, Alex’s speaking pace slowed, “Sorry … for randomly throwing all this at you. It’s just frustrating … to know all the horrendous things that happened during your time, namely to unborn children, and knowing that you were there. That you claimed to love Jesus. To love people. But you sat idle, as millions upon millions of helpless lives were loss. It is embarrassing to know that my grandfather was a part of that generation and did not stand up for the murder of babies.”

Vexed with shame, the old man laid still in his bed. The pain of his granddaughter’s disgust outweighed the physical pain of his cancer. Expectantly, his heart could take no more. His heartbeat grew uncontrollably fast into a cardiac arrest. Alex yelled for a doctor. Tears feared her eyes.

“I’m sorry Grandpa!” she exclaimed.

“No. No. No, I’m sorry … Alex” he exhaled – his final breath.

Suddenly, Brian awoke from his deep sleep. He was young again, sitting on the couch with his laptop in his lap. He realized it was all a dream. He glanced at his laptop to see an internet article on abortion. Presumably, he concluded that the article must have put that nightmarish dream in his mind when he read it before his nap.

Brian turns on the television. “Ha, weird dream there”, he thinks to himself. “At least I got a good nap out of it.” He opens Netflix. “Now it’s time to continue Season 5 of Friends. Ross just found out that Chandler and Monica are dating now!”

 The hand of an 8-week old. Aborted after 8 weeks.