Meditations of a christizen (christian-citizen)upon today's topics.
|I, Brother James, cultivated through my imagination and birthed via writing instruments (pen, laptop, etc) 'The Word Courier's Journal'. It is one of several literary efforts so conceived to include the "word", the mind altering, eye opening, life saving gospel of Jesus Christ into the every day conversation on those things deemed relevant to those readers who stumble upon this column. I and all other followers of the Lord are called to witness this message across the globe or at the very least to those around us. Jesus did say "Go therefore and teach all nations..." (see Matthew 28:19 KJV Holy Bible) Here lies a modest attempt to introduce the unknowing people to the Lord and immerse they who know Him in discussion with respect to His outlook on all that matters.|
|A special person in my life celbrates her __th birthday today.(I know the number but have chosen not to reveal it) She displayed a heart and willingness to minister to youth while she herself was still a teenager. Furthermore, the attitude formed back then remains to this day. The titles minister, reverend, youth pastor, prophet and missionary do not attach themselves to the front of her name. However, it is she who introduced me to the church, the Gospel message and by extension to the Lord. The special somebody that I speak of is my mother.
I first encountered the concepts of precept and example during my earlier sessions of Tuesday teachable moments. Precept and example are the means by which the believer, he or she who has submitted self to Jesus as Lord and Savior, can lead others particularly those in their charge (such as parents with children) to know the Lord. I look back at this discovery and see how my mom's use of this standard (along with my dad) helped lead me to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord.
She firmly believed (and still does) in the value of Sunday school for her children. The offspring I speak of includes three brothers, two sisters and myself. Also, this belief was enforced. I recall Sunday school being a k-12 experience. I did not have the option to drop out of Sunday School any more than I had the option to drop out of grade school or high school. I can not speak of my sisters' experience as they were (and still are) 8 & 10 years senior. However, I do remember that as my brothers and I grew older we would drive ourselves to Sunday school and morning church services.
I must confess to a certain backwards approach to Sunday school. I did not care for it much as a grade school kid.However, as I got older, 7th/8th grade onward, it became a more enjoyable experience. I suspect the opposite is true for most youth. I remember having the responsibility of a paper route as a high school student. And of course, I would get up on Sunday morning pass the papers and then head off to Sunday school and morning church services.The time came when I would drive gladly drive myself there.
It helps very much when someone shows you what they tell you. The old saints would say that such a person talks the talk and walks the walk. Mom did the homemaker gig. But, she didn't stop there. She chose to work 2nd shift at her job, which by the way was represented by the I.B.E.W. (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) so that she could be there in the morning during our younger years. It may be said she brought home the bacon and cooked it. She and my dad's efforts (see "Godly Fatherhood" entry 6/14/2013 ) assured us a comfortable lifestyle.
Mom would host some of the church ladies at our house on occasion. I also recall her chaperoning on field trips the church had taken us on via bus. Again, she did not leave it at simply sending us to Sunday school. She was a part of it at one time. She was my Sunday school teacher for one year of that educational journey.
The teaching bug passed down to my mother. Gramma, my maternal grandmother taught Sunday school at my original church home for years. I know that my brothers, myself and at least one cousin were her students at some point. I pride myself on having carried the Sunday school teaching torch to at least a third generation. The tradition here calls to mind the scripture in which the Apostle Paul speaks to Timothy with regard to legacy of faith that stretched back at the least two previous generations. (see 2 Timothy 1:5)
I declare Jesus as my Lord and the person most responsible for that decision besides myself is my mother. I don't want the few readers who see this blog to believe in the notion of "coat tail" salvation. The fact is the decision to go with the Lord is yours and yours alone. You will stand before God by ourselves for ourselves. Still, it helps that someone brings Him to your knowledge at an early age by both word and deed. It definitely helped my cause that someone (and someones) I loved and trusted thought enough of Him to make sure the foundation,education and a revelation of the glory of the Lord would be mine throughout childhood.
The 'Word Courier's Journal', tracts and other literature have their place in the endeavor to shed light on the Gospel. However, relationships with people in which one can see the love of God demonstrated by those who encourage us to live right, love right, and learn right ultimately draws the world to the Lord. I have said to the few 'Word Courier readers what need be said on the matter. As for Mom; happy birthday and wishing you many more such blessed days.
|It seems to me that somehow the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act's Supreme Court victory anniversary was somehow ignored by the media this summer. The anniversary of the landmark decision occurred this past June 28th. And yes, somehow,even I, the 'Word Courier', forgot. I wrote about Paula Deen and her mishaps on the anniversary date. (see Southern In-hospitality June 28th ) I then followed that up with two entries concerning the cold blooded killer, George Zimmerman. (see Guilty as Charged 7/16 and The Color of Evil 7/23)
It appears alot of bad news made us forget the good news. I will partially remedy this by a reprint of "Law of the Lord; Law of the Land –Shared Responsibility" for today. It was originally published on the now partially inactive Just-Us blog. Here it is:
The Hyksos rulers of ancient Egypt introduced a system that saved it during a terrible famine. Joseph, a Jewish immigrant, instructed the Pharaoh to order grain producers to contribute 20% of their harvest during the seven good years to provide for the expected seven bad years. As a result, Egypt was ready when the famine took place. (Holy Bible, Genesis 41st chapter)
The concept of collective contributions during good times to prepare for catastrophe still survives today. Insurance works off of this same model. It makes available whereby individuals protect their fiscal viability against otherwise insurmountable economic cost brought upon by horrific events-such as a drought induced famine. The Egyptians of old pooled their grain whereas contemporary people pool their cash. The cash payments referred to as premiums added together enable an insurance provider to pay out in the event of disaster.
The principle of risk sharing applies to insurance regardless of what is at risk. An insured, one who is covered by an insurance provider via mutual agreement, pays the premium to offset the financial distress that calamity can bring upon property, family and self. The insurance provider is unable to protect people from these risks when premiums fall short of the needed amount.
The Affordable Care Act sought to address the concept of shared responsibility with its individual responsibility requirement. The mandate requires those who can contribute to health insurance funds do pay so as to enable the public to receive coverage. The individual responsibility mandate acknowledges the unique aspect of health care in these United States. Law and customs demand that those in dire need of health care treatment must receive treatment regardless of ability to pay.
The U.S. Supreme Court did refute the constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act. However, the majority still failed to see why congress had the authority to make people pay their fair share. Justice Sonia Sotomayor remarked upon this issue during oral arguments. She simply stated “that is how insurance works.” It is the only way insurance works when all people of all risk categories must be covered.
The Egyptians fared well thanks to the advice given by their foreign guest. The Pharaoh simply had to issue the edict to bring the needed results. He was not hindered by separation of powers and a court who could strike him down. He was not viewed simply as a government official but rather as a deity. The question begs: What would have happened if a significant number of Egyptian farmers withheld their grain from the collective fund? The answer; A whole lot of people would have starved.
It is most ironic that Edward Snowden would get asylum from Russia, a nation that has zero history or association with transparency or democracy. The neo soviet government in place today holds on to the communist legacy established by the likes of Nikita Kruschev and Joseph Stalin and their kind. However, the National Security Agency (N.S.A.) whistle blower Edward Snowden has found refuge in the land of Siberian labor camps.
Pardon this 'Word Courier' pundit (me) of his ignorance, but isn't the point of American security to defend us from undemocratic forces such as those who advocate the violent overthrow of the government and dare I say it, the type of governments inclined to spy on all of their citizens? With that in mind, I try to untangle the whole spygate mess.
I must admit that I don't have all the answers or for that matter all the information. Still, in the wake of the President's sudden cancellation of a planned meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, some things have become clear. Among these are the following:
- Edward Snowden exposed certain practices with regard to the N.S.A. that proved embarrassing to our government.
- It appears that he violated his employment contract as concerning matters of confidentiality.
- He may or may not have endangered American security. I admit this is still not clear to me even as I take on the role as word courier.
- Although Edward Snowden doesn't quite reach heroic status, he did something that somewhere along the way, had to be done.
The desire or mere tendency for the Government to violate the privacy of all Americans, even those who are not suspected of wrong doing, is somewhat frightening to me. This displays a characteristic that is endemic of totalitarian societies. We must be careful not to become what we are fighting against. It's unfortunate about Nietzsche's ( Friedrich) ignorance of God as alive and still living. He would then know that the Lord knows better than any that "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster."
Jesus instructed us to " bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" (see Matthew 5:44 KJV) He said that in this way people will show they are the sons of the Holy Father. Of course, this doesn't mean we do not defend ourselves but it does indicate that we don't stoop to the enemies tactics. We must be careful lest we become the enemy.
|Today is Friday. I see that in terms of the 'The Word Courier' this is significant. Friday, next to Tuesday is the busiest publishing day for word courier entries. Tuesday has 16 Word Courier entries to its credit whereas Friday is second with nine selections. Tuesday and Fridays are also the days I fast most often.However, when it comes to fasting the instances are reversed. I am much more faithful with Friday fasting than with Tuesdays. I'm not sure why that is but it is.
Today is also the 2nd Friday of the 2013 edition of my Birthday Fast.* This year in particular, my focus is on breaking the yoke. The yoke in biblical terms refer to an instrument of restraint. It has been used figuratively to describe a situation in which something or someone is bound and needs to be freed. We all have our particular yokes. I know what mine are and hopefully we all have some ideal of the yokes that bind us. If not seek the Lord for answers that this would be revealed. As the old saying goes "different yokes for different folks." (and no I don't consider an affinity for corny puns and stale jokes a yoke)
I understand that as long as the "yoke" whatever it is keeps a hold on me (or you or he or she) it slows my progress to be what God what have me to be. But, of course freeing oneself of one's yoke is easier said than done.The bondage of sin and death is overcome by faith in Jesus Christ for what he did overcoming the cross and death, yet yokelike things can remain with us.
I have started and continue to this day to list "Destroy the Yoke" as number 1 among my goals. I have learned (and been burned) that this thing that prevents my growth as a Christian and for that matter a christizen (Christian-citizen) also puts a road block to me reaching my other goals.As such, I participate in this year's Birthday Fast with an intent to destroy the yoke and put it away for good.
* Previous entries with regard to the Birthday Fast were published on the following dates: 9/3/2012 my 50th birthday
8/7/2012, 7/31/2012 and 7/25/2012.
The killing of an unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by self-proclaimed neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has sparked considerable debate. The backdrop of race relations is considered to play a large role in the tragedy. People continue to argue over the degree to which race played a part in the murder of the 17 year old victim and his offender’s not guilty verdict coming from a nearly all white jury.
The racial element to this story is significant. The fact is the killer saw a young black male and immediately assumed that the teenage boy was doing something wrong. This is an integral part of the narrative as told by George Zimmerman himself. The race debate hinges on whether Zimmerman’s perception takes place if the young man he sees is not a black male. Therefore, the race component is significant and cannot be summarily brushed aside.
The race debate however doesn’t address every aspect of this crime. It is not necessary to perceive George Zimmerman as a card carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazis or skinheads to see the evil in what he has done. He may simply be a “Hispanic” Archie Bunker* who isn’t part of any hate groups but who shares the same biases. He may have had a black friend at some time in his life and thereby claim this black friend makes him incapable of racism.
The fact remains that he shot someone in a confrontation that he chose to start. It was the firing of a loaded gun that killed the young man. And, that shooting occurred because the killer chose to initiate a confrontation with Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman had the option of simply watching him. Upon doing so, he likely would have seen the young man walk back to his family’s house if Zimmerman could see the distance to the house.
The killer could have as believing in the boy’s guilt, called 911 and left it at that. The likely result then is a a police officer who stops Trayvon Martin and simply delays his return to the house to watch the 2nd half of the N.B.A. all-star game** due to the obligatory questioning. This of course assumes Trayvon Martin hasn’t already walked back home unmolested before any police arrive. Regardless of George Zimmerman’s inherent racial bias or lack thereof, the situation did not have to result in the end of an innocent child’s life.
There lies a considerable leap between one’s perception of all young black males as perpetrator s of crime and the eventual taking of this young life. George Zimmerman had the ill will and deadly weapon readied for use. Here, we have the combined mix of a soul with a murderous heart armed with a lethal weapon who chose to engage in conflict with another who threatened neither he, anyone else or anything else.
This is evil no matter the race, color or ethnicity of the perpetrator. And, in civilized society we are supposed to put people like that away. Evil is as evil does.
*Carrrol O’ Conner portrayed Archie Bunker, television’s prototype racist reactionary bigot on the 1970’s era sitcom “All in the Family.”
LeBron James the 2 time NBA champion and face of the league spoke out on behalf of Trayvon Martin. He and his Miami Heat teammates tweeted a picture of themselves wearing hoodies.
|The recent not guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin killing was a sham. It was not just not by the laws of this land nor and more importantly was it just in the Lord’s sight. Jesus declared George Zimmerman a murderer in His court before the so called neighborhood watch captain fired his gun and killed Trayvon Martin. According to our Lord, Zimmerman’s all-consuming hatred of a teenager that he never before encountered (and any who resembled him) made him guilty in his heart of the commandment “Thou shall not kill.” (see Matthew 5:21-22)
Zimmerman’s brewing obsession and hate towards black males led to the murder of a child who was simply walking back to his father’s house from the store. The ultimate irony is this would take place in the kind of place (a well-heeled gated community) that is expected to be safe. This just goes to show how evil that begins in our hearts can evolve into a very real terrible result.
So those among you that want to paint everyone who doesn’t look, talk or think like you as evil incarnate need to take a lesson from this. Those among you who are of the eternally frustrated fraternity who allow some evil seed to germinate within your hearts should quit that mess -now. Lest we forget, events like 9-11 take place within an imagination before the destruction hit upon American soil. The Oklahoma bombings tragedy that took place in the late ‘90’s too was thought before it was wrought.
Wrath, which is unholy rage, is listed as one among the fruit of the flesh that I earlier referenced as a product of the ‘I want’ gene. (see Word Courier entry Uncommon Sense 6/21/13…) All evil begins in the heart. And, even when the evil is not acted upon it doesn’t simply stay there. Nor does it always result in the actual killing of people. But, as we see with George Zimmerman’s homicidal rampage it too often does as witnessed by the death of Trayvon Martin.
|I enjoyed watching ‘The Lone Ranger’ at the show this past weekend. It was a nice way to follow up the Independence Day festivities. It was a well written movie with great action scenes, its iconic theme music, and the age old literary ploy where by the main character evolves throughout the story. I currently look at this movie as a superstar in the class of theatrical experiences such as Sherlock Holmes and Planet of the Apes* .Time will tell whether I am ready to include it in the megastar category in which Platoon resides.
I mentioned the action, writing and music as elements that made this a good movie. However, it is the Tonto subplot that I found most intriguing .Tonto’s biography was beautifully weaved into the context of the movie. It drove the story and made everything in it make sense. It also cast an allegorical mirror upon the experience indigenous North American people** had with their European visitors. This involved similar greed, deception, murder and above all betrayal that the European invaders hoisted upon their host. And, of course it provided gist for today’s “Word Courier” entry.
America has vocally uplifted God and salvation through the blood of Christ since her birth. Also, it is plain that same God has blessed her. Still, for too long America’s Christian doctrine has not been matched evenly with her Christian deeds. Slave owners held church services, the Klan carried crosses and even the man esteemed as our greatest president was forced to address slavery by circumstances beyond his control. The covenant continuum between Christ doctrine and Christ deed has undoubtedly fallen short of the mark.
America has failed fulfillment of the Christian covenant as concerning the indigenous folk as shown by her renege on treaties that she made with them. This is far from being her only sin. However, as President Obama has remarked she has demonstrated that ability to look at herself and seek redemption. As such, it is good for the doctrine to be foremost in our hearts because it is here that redemption is possible.
I don’t know that Tonto’s story can have a happy ending because what’s done is done. However, his descendants and those of other among the first Americans certainly may find a new and “happy” beginning if only America can look into her heart and continue to grow into a new creature, one who is redeemed.
* Sherlock Holmes has inspired more than one movie franchise. The one I write of stars Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law and Rachel McAdams.(2009)
Planet of the Apes (2011) like Sherlock Holmes enjoys more than one movie copy. I wrote of the one starring James Franco, Freida Pinto and John Lithgow.
** It is PC to refer to indigenous people of the Americas as Native Americans. However, some among them prefer the term ITIN. This stands for indigenous Turtle Island Nation.
|The recent controversy regarding down home girl food queen Paula Deen’s past utterance of the despised “N” word reminds us christizens (Christian-citizens) that we should remain vigilant about rising above the norm. The “Word Courier’s Journal” recently informed its scant viewership that normal doesn’t necessarily mean good. (see ‘Uncommon Sense’ Friday June 21,2013) The issues spoken of here involve speech, action and attitudes that once openly prevailed in America.
The same conduct and mindset is deemed unacceptable today. As a result, this debacle has hurt her business. The Food Network decided to forego renewal of her contract with them. Wal-Mart, a corporate entity that is deservedly not known for its social conscious, discarded its ties with her. Caesars Entertainment, the owners of Harrah’s Casinos, ditched her as well. Home Depot, Target, and Smithfield Foods have also cut ties with Paula Deen.
Paula Deen admitted during a legal deposition that she once said the unspeakable word. I find it ironic that her past use of this much despised label generates controversy but the fact that she is currently being sued for racial and sexual discrimination is simply looked upon as the backdrop to the main subject.
Paula Deen’s handlers issued a statement that explained that she grew up during the time of overt, legal segregation and in a place (the South) that practiced it with abandon. According to the statement “She was born 60 years ago when America’s South had schools that were segregated, different bathrooms, different restaurants and Americans rode in different parts of the bus.” The defense basically said she is a product of her environment forgive her.
The argument presented illuminates the problem of going along with the crowd and the “everyone else is doing it” defense. The fact is wrong is wrong. The ‘Word Courier’ referred to the ugly history of segregation in America (see ‘Cultural Contamination of the Christ Covenant’ July 13,2012) as an example of illicit behavior committed and/or condoned by christizens who failed to rise above the cultural norm of the day. The “Word Courier” then published ‘The Dangers of Creeping Cultural Contamination’ on the following Tuesday. It concluded with the admonition that “ It is for us to Christianize culture rather than culture our Christianity.”
We as believers are called to “…be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” This is what we are called to do. Indeed, the church body to which I belong took root in the late 19th, early 20th century in the segregated South , yet still integrated worship and other aspects of life then dominated by Jim Crow. Our predecessors did this under those circumstances motivated by the commission to spread the Word to all people everywhere.
Koinonia Farm continued the pace of integration via the Gospel that we ( the Church of God in Christ) helped set. It began an integrated community in Ms Deen’s native Georgia five years before she was born. Its fame derives from two sources. The first is the obvious against the grain decision to be integrated in a segregated society. The other is for serving as the origins for Habitat for Humanity, the Christian organization renowned for providing affordable housing. So no excuses for Paula Deen or anyone else that comes from that era, particularly those who profess devotion to Jesus Christ.
Finally,I say this to Paula Deen: You can’t meet the Lord in that Day of Judgment with something as lame as “well everyone else was doing it.”
Strife dominates our politics as Washington cannot accomplish anything. Fornication rules as cohabitation and out of wedlock births proliferate. Heresy, belief contrary to the word of God, enables the state sanctioned acceptance of same sex marriage. Hatred fuels both domestic and international acts of terrorism. Wrath displays itself via increasing episodes of road rage incidents. Murder is on the news on a daily basis.
Strife, fornication, heresy, hatred, wrath and murder are all part of today’s norm. These acts are “normal” behavior not only here in the U.S. A. but throughout the world. So hey kids answer me this: Who wants to be normal?
I ask my sparse “Word Courier’s Journal” audience to take note that normal in this instance doesn’t suggest good or acceptable but rather its standard definition “constituting conforming to not deviating or differing from the common type or standard.” (Oxford English Dictionary) The unruly behavior spoken of along with other similarly bad activity share the same source: the flesh
The word flesh often refers to our natural bodies when mentioned in scriptures. However, in this context, the word flesh takes on a spiritual element as it does in Romans 8:8-9 and Ephesians 2:3. Here it refers to the innate tendency of us human beings to want what we want to such an extent that we will defy the almighty Creator so as to fulfill our desires.
I, for the sake of the readers unfamiliar with biblical vernacular refer to this use of the term flesh as the ‘I want’ gene. The ‘I want’ gene goes beyond simple self-interest that is required to survive. In fact, it actually threatens both individual and community survival. Its seed germinates and then grows into a plant that provides poisonous produce. The Bible use the term flesh to refer to the fruit of this seed. (Galatians 5:19-21) Strife, fornication, heresy, hatred, wrath and murder are but a sampling of the berries that sprout from the stalks of this nefarious weed. And, yes this is normal.
The alternative to this kind of normal is a preferable abnormal. The alternative to a bad common is a good uncommon. Fortunately, the opposite to the “norm” is available. The disciple Peter describes the Christian brother/sister hood as a peculiar people. (see 1 Peter 2:9 KJV) The esteemed Matthew Henry, a noted biblical scholar, commented on this verse with the remark that Peter described “people distinct from the common world.”
We are uncommon (or we should be so) because the Spirit of God allows us to rise above the inherent destructive bent of the “flesh” that which I have referred to as the ‘I want’ gene. The sweet berries that spring forth from the Spirit include love, joy, peace and goodness among other similarly noble traits. (see Galatians 5;22-23) The abnormal, uncommon alternatives appear much better. Again kids, answer me this: Who wants to be normal?
|The approaching Fathers’ Day this weekend will be my first one since my own father passed away in August of last year. I first thank God that He allowed my dad 90 years on this earth. Also, I am so very glad that our Lord enabled my dad to see virtually all who were close family to him shortly before his death. This included two great grand babies that he saw for the first time. Yet most of all, I am glad that my dad modeled his fatherhood from the Holy Father.
How does one model his paternity from of the Lord? Simply look to His example. God as Father provides, protects, and procreates. And, as such provides human fathers with the blueprint to fatherhood.
The Hebrews called God by many names. One among this assortment of titles is El Shaddai. It is said that ‘he who provides’ is an oft used interpretation of this name. Jesus said of His heavenly Father “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: …” (see Luke 12:24) This he does for all creation.
The Lord defends those who are his. David, the first God anointed king of Israel, once proclaimed “Ye though, I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for though art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”(Psalms 23:4) He also repeatedly calls upon defending the widows and the fatherless throughout scripture. (see "The Word Courier Journal" entry 'Others Keepers' from June 2012)
The Holy Bible begins with “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The Lord did not simply make this world and let it go. He still raises the sun in the morning, replenishes the world with the water rotation that brings rain from above and return moisture to the atmosphere, and continues the life cycle that remains to this day.
I am happy about the recall of a providing, protecting, procreating father. He and my mother (who is still among us generously distributing love towards family) enabled 3 brothers, two sisters and myself to enjoy a middle class upbringing replete with music lessons, sports and scouts. It isn’t just what was provided but how. He always had a second job. He did not quit working a second job until he was 60 + years of age. Did I mention that he provided a pretty good example?
I am so proud of an act my dad carried out of which I heard but did not witness. We moved into a virtually all Caucasian (white) neighborhood in the 1960’s. It is said that as a result of threats or perceived threats that he occasioned to sit upon the front porch bearing rifle in hand to warn those who might decide to lawlessly exercise their jim crow preference via destruction of our persons and/or property. I beam even as I write this now.
Procreation in a Godly manner is more than keeping the gene pool alive. The scriptures state that “a good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children:…” (Proverbs 13:22 KJV) Inheritance is not merely money, property and things. It also includes character and love that bless those born after one’s earthly demise. The scriptures speak of this when Jesus gives the parable of the mustard seed. (See Luke 13:19) An entire forest can rise from among a long gone seed.
Finally, with regard to my heavenly Father and his earthly counterpart (my dad), I say this: It aint boasting if it’s true.