Walk This Way

What if you were walking on a dirt road, going from one destination to another, all the while deep in thought as to all that is transpiring in our country? Maybe deep in contemplative prayer or reflecting on a past experience you had with God. At some point, a man walks with you. He seems to know your very thoughts, as if you’ve shared them with him, but that’s impossible as you’ve never seen him before. He starts to relate scripture to your every experience. It’s not just this person’s familiarity with the bible that captures you, but it’s as if his experience is from firsthand knowledge. You find it a bit unsettling but realize you can’t pull yourself away. Your heart burns within you. Time seems to stop and all that matters in life is walking with you. Peace seems to rest on you in a way you’ve always hoped it would. You’ve just had an encounter like the disciples did in Luke 24 on the road to Emmaus just outside of Jerusalem. He who is everything just opened your eyes and your mind. Do not ever discount that this could happen.

Just as Cleopas, a follower of Jesus, experienced his redeemer in a way that was unexpected, so might you. Maybe it might be an angel that appears to you as a minister of the Lord. Maybe you’ll just be confused like the Apostle John was in Revelation 22. He started to fall and worship someone he’d mistaken. The one he presumed to worship told him not to do that. He said he was a servant just as John and his brothers the prophets were. He may have just been a redeemed man sent to provide John with information. Someone like that could walk with us, too.

Hebrews 13 tells us to continue with brotherly love and not to forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. I’d hate to miss that. Even those on the road to Emmaus would have missed it if Jesus hadn’t opened their eyes. Can you imagine treating Jesus in a way that would basically say you’re not welcome in my company? We do it all the time.

Jesus was an iconoclast. What if He walked into church with you and started to turn over a few tables. You might step away and say, “I don’t know this guy.” Or He may appear as He actually looked those 2000 or so years ago in Jerusalem. A very Semitic looking man. Not too tall. Bearded. He may not have had time to wash the dirt off from all His travels. Would your first instinct be to call ICE? Do you think he’s an undocumented Mexican? Or, maybe the Semitic look has you wondering. Maybe call Homeland Security? He was known as an agitator. Maybe some of what He’s saying doesn’t jive with what you consistently hear from a lot of current evangelical teaching. Yeah, there’s no way you can actually do all He’s telling you to do. Maybe you’ll stick with what many in power in the church are saying right now and consider those commandments more like suggestions. Yeah, that’s the ticket. How in heck can you truly follow all those Red-Letter teachings of Jesus in the gospels?

We need to consider we may have encountered things we are unaware of.  It’ll be shown to us one day though. In the meantime, we need to do our best to show love for one another. The love He shows us. By this we’ll be known as His followers. No other way. Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and gave Himself for us. He may be walking beside you. Blessings.

Disguised in Hate

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I’m posting a picture of a scene of part of a regiment of Confederate soldiers posing before two southern mansions. One in that group is a relative of mine from the maternal side of my father. He was my great, great grandfather. His name was Samuel Claiborne Turner. A private in the 12th Regiment of the Virginia Infantry. He enlisted on March 25, 1862 in Patrick County. That regiment fought in such well-known battles as Second Manassas, Maryland Campaign, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. We found these pictures when going through my grandmother’s and her daughters’ estate. This scene reminds me of a particular house I frequently drive by that has an American flag flying outside and two Confederate flags. I’d love to ask the owner why he’s flying the Confederate flags, and why two. But I know others who still have a distorted allegiance to this flag. I despise what it stands for. This relative of mine in the picture represents someone wearing a uniform and following a flag that just disguises hate. And the hate is still alive and flourishing today. People just wear different disguises, but it can’t hide what’s beneath the trappings of their so poorly hidden malevolence. And multitudes are emboldened enough to wear their evil on clothes reminiscent of the KKK and the Nazi party.

Jefferson Davis, after the defeat of the Confederate States, said “The principle for which we contended is bound to reassert itself, though it may be at another time and in another form.” The lie of states’ rights and the right to govern oneself without excessive federal oversight has been inserted as the reason for our civil war rather than freeing slaves and restoring the union. I heard that growing up while living in the south. The war never ended. The 1960s brought legislation for civil rights and voting rights, but one would have thought that losing hundreds of thousands in our civil war would have guaranteed those same rights immediately. In his book, The Lost Cause, the Virginia Confederate and journalist, Edward Alfred Pollard wrote, that he was “profoundly convinced that the true cause fought for in the war has not been lost immeasurably or irrevocably but is yet in a condition to be regained by the South on ultimate issues of the political contest.” The true cause of the war, Pollard described, and the true hope of the South, was white supremacy. This distorted and ugly hope lives on. Not just in the South, but throughout our country. It’s gaining momentum. The problem is, for the majority, the more you hate someone, the more they hate you back. Spiritually, we have the means within us to diffuse this, but we don’t.

The history of our country is filled with stories of wonder and heroism ~ founded on principles that all the world would look to as unique and God mandated. Even countries who profess to hate us and work to destroy us from within and without, have so many citizens that long to come to our shores. But we also have shameful periods in our country. So many nationalities were treated poorly. I’ve written before of how my relatives of Italian descent were looked down upon. So were the Irish, the Jewish, and eastern Europeans. But the main injustice was always reserved for people of color. Something about the color of one’s skin that causes an immediate judgement as to their decency and worth. Too many have been programmed to be suspect of people who look different from us, to the point, that even those who claim not to harbor this view, know there is a part where this is true within them. If we’re in a situation when a person of color is positioned where white is the majority, we may easily find ourselves free of outward prejudice and quite accepting as equals. But when that situation is reversed, and we are alone with others of color, we can easily become suspect and even fearful. We are used to being the majority.

I recently reacted to a post by someone I’ve known for years. The post said I’m proud to be white. The post wondered if you’d share it without fear of being seen as racist. Even though the person stated that they were proud of their heritage, I responded by saying it was seen as white supremacy. I have no problem with people who are proud of their ethnicity. But, ethnicity is not the same as the color of one’s skin. I’ve never said I’m proud to be white. I was born that way. Basically, into privilege. I also have no problem with those who have stood up and proclaimed black is beautiful or I’m black and I’m proud. The same with the American Indian. When people have judged you and classified you according to your skin color you must stand up. The color of one’s skin does not denote inferiority, intellect, ability, or decency. But that has been taught so long that many still quote those evil and wrong “facts” and still use them to judge. The people who still promulgate these vicious lies are not hiding. They are standing amongst us. They are running for office. That means those of us that know better must stand taller. We need to be a voice no matter the consequences. My response to the post I disagreed with cost me a friendship. I was unfriended. Told to F*** off. I used scripture to explain my feelings. But maybe I could have worked harder to explain more gently. But Christ does not look at color. He looks at hearts. And if we believe in Him, we become sons and daughters of the Most High God. That makes us brothers and sisters. That is not just a nice saying. That is scriptural fact.

We need to realize that throughout time people have been treated poorly. Sometimes savagely. But for a large percentage of people, you’ve not had this country discriminate against you because the color of your skin is white. We do not know what that is like. We may sympathize and even empathize, but we cannot truly know. You’ve not been told you were owned. And if you escaped to freedom, then returned because you were property. Beaten for the slightest infraction, again because you were property. Be classified as inferior or worthless. Separated from family for a profit. And when finally, you become free, new laws are put in place to control you. Some of these laws just “understood.” They still exist. In our all loving inclusiveness, we’ve added new ways to show disdain to the brown skinned. Or find new ways to go back on past forked-tongued treaties with American Indians. Still working to crush spirits.

We need to be extra vigilant as Christians today. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 that we were not to be deceived. Evil company corrupts good morals and character. This includes what we allow to be spoken and acted on in our company. To go further, even following that which is morally wrong. If someone calls themselves a believer, yet that which they teach or profess is contrary to what Christ taught, reject it. We must come to a point where we are mature in the spirit, taking in solid food, so that our powers of discernment are trained to allow us to discern between good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14) Those who truly are Christians must not allow false teachings to be presented without a challenge. But, do everything in His love. Sometimes that’s hard. Proverbs 18:19 says, “It’s harder to conquer a strong city than to win back a brother who you’ve offended.” So sometimes we need to check our emotions. We are all called as believers to show who He is in us in all we do. Don’t get caught up in the vitriol of those who will say anything for a reaction or to increase poll numbers. Be separate from those worldly actions. Remember, we will be judged on how we treated others. How we loved. Proverbs 13:12 says, “When hope’s dream seem to drag on and on, the delay can be depressing.” (Passion Translation) But that desire, when realized, can bring new life to your soul. We see people every day who’ve had their dreams shattered or who must fight extra hard for what they get. Do not be a stumbling block. Be a blessing. If not in person, then in prayer.

I wait for the day when all flags of hate come down. When only His standard rises above us. When we have seen that every spirit not of God is no longer allowed to whisper evil to us and when those lies are no longer followed. Test every spirit to see if it is from God. Even with all the terrible things befalling the prophet, Jeremiah, embrace he wrote in Lamentations 3. He says with all that has happened, he still has hope. The Lord’s mercies are new each morning and because of them we are not consumed. He is my portion. I hope in Him. He is good to those who wait for Him. Hope and wait for the salvation of the Lord. Embrace this. And as the Apostle John said in 1 John, “he who loves his brother abides in light and he who hates his brother walks in darkness.” It’s that simple and direct. Blessings.