Your People–The Dead Give-Away

Your People–The Dead Give-Away

Behind this story — https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2020/09/12/freedom-georgia-initiative-wilkinson-county-blackwell-pkg-wknd-vpx.cnn a comment was made on Facebook that was a blatant put down of these families seeking to do something they thought was important to them.

So a bunch of black people bought some land to build a place for only black people???

Sounds like they want segregation back. Why did Civil Rights become such a big thing to end segregation just to have it brought back? I’m pretty sure all those people that fought for civil rights are rolling in their graves.

And if white people did this, we would be called racist and we would not be allowed to do that. Why the double standard???

And yes, I know that white people who are pro-African can live there. . .

My Response: Why does this upset you?

Her Response: Because your people fought for desegregation years ago just to have it thrown back into their face. And if white people did this we would be called racists. Don’t think I can say it any simpler than that. Those people want to keep the racism going.

And I don’t have to explain to anyone why I feel the way I do!!

She’s right of course, she doesn’t have to explain herself to anyone. Her response did all the explaining anyone needed to have.

Now, I have to admit, some other things this person has said in the past let me know that she was one of those people who simply tolerates black people, not really accepting them. I make the distinction between a person being tolerant, accepting, or racist based upon their conversations about black people. She is tolerant, but her public views, when guarded attempt to make her appear to be accepting.

Now, here’s the rub for me. She and some of her “friends” apparently begrudge this group of people having the ability to buy land to develop for a safe haven for black families and the group that bought the land has made it clear, they will welcome others whether black or not. My thoughts are: Has she not heard of the impact of slavery and the fact that black folks didn’t have access to property or land. Has she not heard of the Jim Crow laws in the south that cheated black people out of land? Has she not heard of the difficulty black folks had in renting in certain communities and they certainly had a hard time buying property in some of those same communities. So to blatantly begrudge (actually get angry about) a group of black families buying land is really puzzling to me. Perhaps, I didn’t put her in the right category — maybe she is a covert racist and doesn’t want to claim it. There are many people out there who truly are racist — covertly — the undercover, sneaky kind. The ones who’ll smile in your face and stab in the back the minute they get the chance. We’ll see.

But let’s get back to the families buying property to start up a town. That has happened once or twice before — in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Rosewood, Florida. The black families that once lived in these cities were massacred by angry white people, not black people. What were they angry about? I can imagine, the same thing — begrudging a group of people having the ability to start a town. My biggest concern for this family/friends group is that they aren’t overcome with hatred by white people and end up massacred, like those who came before them.

One would think, in 2020, almost a century later — that people would be able to get along and not begrudge another group anything they could accomplish. But here’s what I’ve discovered — there are some white people — not all — who resent a black person having a degree, having a profession, driving a decent car and living amongst them. That is the sad reality of the situation. Like I said, it’s not all, but we can see from the news — every medium — that the posturing exists across the nation. “We’ll put up with you, but we don’t like it,” comes across very clearly.

Well, you know, like the lady on Facebook who didn’t feel she needed to explain herself to anyone, I feel the same way. I don’t have to explain why I feel the comment was a tad racist, because it is. Whenever someone begins a statement with “your people” I’m inclined to ask, “what people would that be?” I don’t own any people so none of them can be mine (taking a literal view of the situation). My ethic make-up encompasses more than being black and I have the DNA tests to prove it, but then — I don’t have to prove a damn thing to anyone. So exactly, “who are my people?”

Another common complaint (the same lady has) is the attention the Black Lives Matter gets. She hates the attention because she really doesn’t understand and her common, default narrative is — what about the Native Americans? Why doesn’t anyone care about them? I’m guessing she really doesn’t know history or she’d know — it has been the white people in this country who have — massacred, disparaged, humiliated, belittled and enslaved other groups of people. We see that with “the border” and the ban on immigrants — God forbid more people of color came into this land. The Native Inhabitants of this land have been treated monstrously — had the land stolen from them and then those who survived the inhuman treatment at the hands of white men, were forced to live in restricted areas in which it was apparently thought they would not survive, in dry, desert-like environments. They did and many tribes are being compensated for the treatment they received at the hands of white men — history tells it better than I can or would even try. I have always had compassion for the Native Inhabitants because everything they had — the land, their language, their religion, and their right to educate their children was restricted by greedy, hateful white people. I do not refer to them as Native Americans because they were in this land before any of the Europeans ever got here and decided to call this land, America.

Another narrative that is a false one is that black people are lazy and don’t care about anything. This one person claims (sounds like repeat racist rhetoric by trump) that all the black people is make property value go down. From what I’ve been told in the city where I live, black people aren’t the ones not taking care of property, but realistically, it’s the white corporations who buy up the property to rent to black people seeking a better life who won’t take care of the infrastructure of the houses they rent, but they want their rent on time.

I really wish people would do some serious research (other than in a Confederate Bible) to understand the inequities forced upon people — especially those who are not white.

I’ve been working my butt off — trying to steer off racial unrest and ease the racial tensions, but I’ve come to realize, unless people are willing to see themselves and who they really are, nothing I do will matter. So, rather than spend time trying to convince the “toleraters” of anything, I’ll be seeking opportunities to work with those who are accepting of us to see what we can do make living in our community a better place for all.

So, the next time, someone uses the phrase with me, “your people,” I’m going to peel back my nice self and let loose on them, guaranteeing they’ll never want to speak to me again.

Robber-Barons!

Robber-Barons!

Dear Congressional GOP:

After you voted to pass the tax bill that no one had read this morning, I think we can safely conclude you are indeed–21st Century Robber Barons–along with your wealthy donors and lobbyists.

Robber-Baron–an American capitalist of the latter part of the 19th century who became wealthy through exploitation (as of natural resources, governmental influence, or low wage scales) (Merriam-Webster definition).

You have decided that appeasing your donors was more important that representing your constituents (60% of whom were against this bill) which means among other things, you cannot claim to represent your constituents and we can claim “taxation without representation” since you ignored the calls and letters submitted by Americans. That means, a tax revolt–the foundation on which this country was founded–revolting against evil.

Before you attempt to take the high road, let me remind all of the hypocrites who claim to be Christians, yet know not Christ. How do I know you don’t know Christ? Because Christ would not promote or support–ever–abandoning the poor and needy. In fact, we are told in The Word of God to defend the rights of the poor and needy. “Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:9) But I guess the only time you open your bible is to just read, not understand or to lift a scripture out to quote to those gullible enough to believe you belong to Christ. If you cannot do Christianity, don’t wear the label–it makes you a hypocrite.

Would Christ concern Himself with providing tax relief for those who own private airplanes or golf courses?

Would Christ tax scholarships for students trying to further their education so they can be more productive in society?

Would Christ eliminate funding sources that inhibit access to affordable healthcare for the poor and leave those without health insurance to die from inability to continue treatment for terminal illnesses?

Would Christ ignore the very basic principle or tenet of Christianity–loving all–unconditionally?

Would Christ eat in abundance and live lavishly while others went hungry?

Would Christ build a wall to hinder those seeking shelter and safety from doing so?

I suggest, strongly, dear Republican Hypocrites that you have never read what Jesus said in Matthew 25:33-45 in any version of a bible. Therefore, let me remind you by publishing it in this letter and perhaps you and your staffers (hope they make more than $75K a year or you may see a revolt) can meditate upon the meaning and then read from a version of your choosing.

He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:33-45 NIV

When you stand before God on Judgment Day, what will you hear Him say? “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:23 or ““His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” Matthew 25:23

I live my life as a Christian–doing the label and not just wearing it–and I know when I stand before Him I shall hear, “Well done!”

You have time to change your course, but since you are arrogant and believe you’re right, you won’t. I would say, I would pray for you, but then, that would dishonor God’s Word when He told Jeremiah–“So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.” Jeremiah 7:16 NIV You might want to read the first 15 verses for context and understanding. Fits all of you!

So, believe this: I will do everything in my power to persuade, cajole, encourage, convince voters across the country to stop believing the Republican lies and to turn the country Blue in 2018 elections and 2020 elections! You see because in the Word of God, the Democrats are the righteous since we do what The Word says do and you are on the goats on the left–defying His Word to support your greed and corruption.  You are indeed–the epitome of a Robber Baron operating in the 21st Century as an appendage of your lobbyists.  Never again!

Sincerely,

Mary Hall-Rayford

#Resisting and Deterring the evil of the Republican Tribalism

do no harm public policyPolitical philos2

Hypocrites!

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck of your eye,’ when all the all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5 NIV)

Why is it that the very people who can always see wrong with others, can never see wrong with themselves?

Always and never–absolutes that are seldom true for any person for any reason. None of us are always right and to say “never” is a pie-in-the-sky-dream that exists only in the minds of those who are so self-righteous they forget they, too, are mere human beings.

When people think they’re the only ones who do things right–they usually do the very thing for which they criticize others–setting up a domino effect–because doing one stupid thing, leads to other stupid things being done.

When adults cannot listen or hear others who warn and speak truth, they open the door for all sorts of things to happen and then they want to blame everyone but themselves. Communication is key to any and every situation but when people refuse to talk–to confront issues–and instead allow anger to direct their thoughts, those thoughts lead to doing other things–injustices for others (especially kids), and then that injustice leads to provocation–provoking others to do even more stupid things until finally, the only thing left is a puddle of stupid–with footprints leading to disaster–all because people don’t want to confront issues.

So, where does hypocrisy come into the picture? For adults who think they’re above reproach and can only mete out unjust punishments, and then claim they are being led by Holy Spirit–they lie and when they lie about being led by Holy Spirit–we know which spirit is actually leading them. Holy Spirit does not provoke people into doing stupid; He does not unfairly judge a matter and mete out inappropriate consequences; nor is He afraid to confront a situation that needs resolution. Holy Spirit does not promote anger that seethes and increases into more stupid acts, but He reminds us of The Word and then when we hear Him, He guides what we say and do.

If we allow our emotions to guide us–Holy Spirit will not overrule them, but when we get the results of our actions–more stupid, then we should recognize that we didn’t know what we were doing in the first place.

The simple solution to most problems is simply this–hear Holy Spirit or those who have been observant and see trouble and warned us about impending danger. Listening–avoids the subsequent stupid things that happen that could lead to serious consequences that cannot be reversed. We should all learn to think before we do and then we won’t have time to focus on others–pointing out their faults when we refuse to see our own–being hypocrites.

Lord, help us to see ourselves before we ruin the lives of others in our quest to be more than we are. In our imperfections and flaws we have hope because of Your perfect love.  Give us a heart to love as You do, without blame or fault-finding.

Exercising Wisdom in The Spirit!

“This is what we speak, not in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:13-16 NIV)

For all the critics of Believers–the atheists, the unbelieving, the judgmental Christian-haters–know this: There is no way anyone who does not have the Spirit of God living within them can ever understand those who do! Therefore, criticisms of those operating in the Spirit and exercising wisdom that only comes from the Spirit are vain and have no value at all.

However, those who exercise spiritual wisdom, based upon what the Spirit of God speaks to them can and do judge all matters–with spiritual criteria–not understood by those who deliberately reject the work on the Cross. And this is why, there are those who continually ridicule and denigrate those of us who understand spiritual matters–they feel left out.

When people don’t understand things–they make fun of it and are derisive–because they hate not knowing. Though many claim that Christians are judgmental, they are far more judgmental and hypocritical since many attempt to use “scripted” rebuttals from the Bible when they have no knowledge of the intent of the Bible.

I alluded this a few days ago regarding a comment I made about Kim Davis. Here’s the comment to a news article: “When one person’s beliefs are not honored, none should be. She should not be in jail for standing up for her beliefs.”

What followed was a torrent of venom from those who don’t have a clue, but these are some of the responses:

Samantha Swol YOU DO NOT GET TO PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH PARTS TO FOLLOW AND JESUS WOULD BE APPALLED WITH YOUR SORRY A** FOR PREACHING HATE WHICH HE NEVER WOULD

Jeska Taylor Mary do you have children, and if so did you murder them after they disobeyed?

Jeska Taylor Mary do you ever speak in church??

Jeska Taylor Speaking in church is a sin for you. “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.”

Mary Hall-Rayford Jeska Taylor, I’ve heard this argument before and I would encourage people to seek God and if you’re going to say any part of the Bible is right–then all of it is right. The difference is–I understand who was talking to whom and when and why Jesus had to come to get us reconciled to God. Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior? If so, you should understand that if those of us who have are ambassadors for Christ, we can say or do nothing that He didn’t say or do. And before you try to convince anyone He didn’t say anything about homosexuality, I’d encourage you to understand all of the Gospel of John, pray for reading and seeking His Wisdom. He only taught what His Father–God taught. “Go and sin no more” not go and commit no more sins. There is a difference–all is included in what He said, not just adultery. No speaking in a church is not sin for me since Paul was referencing those women who were interrupting services to ask their husbands question. If you’re going to do Bible with me, you might want to get an understanding about what was going on at the time things were said. Another verse of scripture proclaims in Galatians 5–there is no male or female In Christ; underscoring we all have the same rights and privileges. Check it out or get someone you respect to explain it to you.

And this went on and on for over an hour with over 179 comments. The best one was from Crystal Williams:

Crystal Williams Mary, MEN wrote the Bible. GOD wrote the Ten Commandments. Do you know what would happen TODAY if a person (man or woman) said they spoke to God and He actually told them things? They would have a one way ticket to the asylum. The “Christians” would be calling them false prophets, and the rational people would be calling them crazy. How do you KNOW the men that claimed to have Gods ear weren’t a bubble off dead center and just trying to push their wants onto their fellow men?

It is clear that most of the commenters–and some of whom were really nasty, resorting to using profanity, do not understand the Spirit of God and cannot understand those of us who do. Therefore, their only recourse is to attack.

This is how I determined that the only thing I can say to them is to let them know–God loves them and so do I–and pray for them to receive the finished work of the Cross.

Watch Your Conduct!

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27 NIV)

I’ve seen on more than one occasion a Tweet or poster on Facebook that people would rather see a sermon than hear one. Now, this doesn’t mean that we should not hear The Gospel, but when we see people living the Gospel, it is far more effective in convincing others to hear what we have to say. And then there are those who know how to “talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk.”

One of the reasons that we are unable to convince people that God is real and salvation is ours, is the fact that what they hear from us and what they see us do is contradictory. We become hypocrites–doing what we urge others not to do.

Most of us–disdain the use of profanity when we hear it from others and are quick to correct or show our disdain, but when we’re upset–are we using the same language we abhor hearing from others? Are they hearing us, too?

We talk about sin and how our lives should be sin-free, but are we living sin-free lives? If we attempt to justify our own sinful behavior, or won’t recognize our behavior is sinful, are we not hypocrites?

Sometimes, if we cannot live the life we proclaim has been given to us–as new creations in Christ Jesus, we should just be quiet and work on ourselves, before we try to work on others. If we were honest with ourselves, the world–those unbelieving and hating Christians, would be thrilled since none of us have reached perfection.

But God would not want us to be silent (even if we aren’t perfect), He would want us to be aware of what we do and make every effort to represent Him in a way that draws others to Him, not drive them away.

Can we do it? We can if our goal is to please Him and not man (family, friends, co-workers, etc.). Watch your conduct--language and behavior–and remember, it is not just what we do in the presence of others that matter, God hears and sees it all.

Father, in the name of Jesus, I humbly ask forgiveness for every incident in which I did not represent You in the presence of others. Lead me by Your Spirit to know at every turn on a daily basis–to know what to say and what to do so others will want to come to know You. Thank You for hearing and answering prayer and loving us enough to give us chance after chance to get living right, for You!

Say What?

“What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ” (Mark 13:37 NIV)

What we say matters–in most cases, but we don’t just speak with our lips, our actions speak loudly, especially when they don’t line up with our lips.

This is why we are admonished to be “living letters” read of men because all who watch us, pay more attention to what we do, than what we say. If we are not saying what Jesus said, in the context in which He said it, then our lips lie and if our lips lie, our actions will also promote lying.

The difficulty most Believers have in convincing anyone that The Word is true is because they only live on Sunday morning, or during a midweek service. As soon as the service is over, the “real them” controls and makes everything they “said” a lie. How do we know? How many times have we heard testimonies about how they were driving beyond the posted speed limits and when pulled over, the police officer showed them mercy? If we really believed in obedience, we wouldn’t be speed-demons and if we have given Our Lord and Savior complete control over our lives, why won’t we allow Him to control our heavy foot? This is not a testimony of God’s goodness, it is a boast of our stupidity.

When we stand in lines and grumble, irritated beyond measure and cuss at everyone around us and people hear us cussing out folks on the phone, do we really think God doesn’t see or hear us? And some of these same people can be heard bragging, “I’m Baptist born, and Baptist raised, and I’ll be a Baptist all of my days.” Whenever I’ve heard this (and I’ve heard it on more than one occasion) I cringe–for all Baptists since this is how they’re being represented–loud and obnoxious.

But it’s not just Baptists, or Methodists, or any other “one” denomination” that has difficulty being “the letter read of men” that God wants us to be and saying what The Word says. Many of us have the same issues and I wonder are we paying attention to us–not other people?

The bottom line is this–make sure your actions line up with what we say–people are watching and if we say we belong to Jesus, we are held accountable for all we say and do that is not of Him.

Church Goers!

Why are we really going to church? Is it because we have nothing better to do or is it a social event? Do we think our attendance will reserve our place in heaven or is it just a status thing?

If we’re going to a building, just because it’s Sunday or to Mid-week services, and we’re simply going because it’s the thing to do, we’re wasting our time and taking up space better used for another purpose.

The body of believers of Jesus Christ—all of us—comprises The Church. For many, we assemble in one location to fellowship with other believers and to encourage one another to stay in the faith.

If we think that we have to go to church to worship God—we really don’t know Him.
If we think that we have to go to church to hear The Word—we really don’t know Him.
If we think that we have to go to church to praise Him—we really don’t know Him.

And at about this point—some might comment—Paul tells us “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together” and he does. But does he say when, or what time? Does he tell us which building to go to when we assemble ourselves together? No, he doesn’t and it doesn’t really matter which building we enter.

What matters the most is this—having a relationship with God, knowing and understanding His purposes for our lives, knowing and understanding His Word so we can increase our faith, every time we hear it. Knowing and understanding His Word is not just for the preachers or the deacons but for every born-again believer—who dares to get to know Him and stay in fellowship with Him.

I am absolutely amazed at the number of people who are involved in “church work” but have no relationship with God. They think only the pastors or church leaders need to know The Word and sit in service after service, getting nothing out of the event other than a time to meet up with folks and to brag about much they do in and for the church. This attitude then—is the result of religious affiliation, rather than being in relationship with God. Of course, before we can claim to have a relationship with God, we must understand and accept the work on the cross, by which we are made joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. And Jesus has said, “No man gets to the Father, but by Him.” He did not say “mother” or “it.” He was clear about God being our Father, but we cannot make this claim until we know Him.

How can we acknowledge someone having a love relationship with us, if we don’t know them? This love relationship is two-fold—God loving us and us loving Him. He said in His Word, that “if we love Him, we’ll keep His commandments.”Now, how can we say we love Him when we do not know what He has said or why he said it? David said it best, “Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You!”

I defy anyone who has ever read His Word–with understanding–to claim they can support anyone living in opposition to God’s Word or that they have a relationship with God, but refuse to believe His Word!  And for those who want to debate the issue—do this first—read the Gospel of John and Romans—in their entirety, asking God while reading to reveal Himself. Then and only then can a rational discussion be held about being in relationship with God.

If our heart is open to hearing Him when He speaks, we won’t just go to church to be going, but we’ll be anxious to hear more of what has been spoken to the messenger in the building, and not just because he or she is there. Relationship with God, means we hear Him when He speaks and we know when others are not saying what He says.

So, we can go to our buildings whenever we go, but we need to allow Holy Spirit to establish us as part of—The Church—the Body of Believers who need no building before we go. And remember this—our service to God is not in going to the building, but in living the life we proclaim to have with Him and in serving one another as He leads us to do it.

Can I get an Amen? How about an “ouch?

Once Truth is spoken, whether we believe it or not, accept it or not, God knows all and we will be held accountable for responding to Truth or not as He determines.

Hypocrisy–The Bitter Pill!

“But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?” (Matthew 22:18 NKJV).

What is hypocrisy? One definition of hypocrisy is “a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.” (dictionary.com)

So then a hypocrite–would be “a person” who thinks they have a particular character or virtue, when they actually do not, and expect others to respect their pretense.

Wow! How many times do children see “hypocrisy” in the behavior of the adults around them? We demand certain behaviors from them, but we do not do what we want them to do or another way of saying is–“we’re talking loud and doing nothing.”

And we wonder why our society is in the shape it is in and why children have so little respect for adults. There is nothing to wonder about it. They see our true selves–when we cannot see us for looking at them.

Remember the commercial with the kid whose dad was jumping all over him about smoking weed. Finally, the kid just blurted out, “I got it from watching you” and the dad stood looking perplexed. Are we looking perplexed when our children do what they see us do when we tell them just the opposite?

The old adage–“do it because I said so,” just doesn’t work with kids today. If we want to see better kids, we must show them better modelling in our own behavior. And until we do, “we’re just hypocrites, living hypocrisy, and won’t admit it.”

But it is not just what we say to kids and don’t do that makes us hypocrites. It is criticizing others for behaviors in which we indulge ourselves.  We say, we don’t like to hear people bragging about their things, but whenever we get the chance, we brag about every new thing we do or obtain. We say, if that was me, I’d do things another way. And yet, if we were them, we’d do the same thing.

Admitting that most of the time we are hypocrites is a bitter pill to swallow. The bitterness is a reminder that we have not reached perfection “in anything” and until we do, we should not be so hard on others who are in the same boat we’re in–the luxury liner–called “Hypocrisy”.  The word “hypocrite” is mentioned 20 times in the bible–14 times in Matthew and we still do not get it. We apply the word to others, but not to ourselves because we refuse to see ourselves as hypocrites. Until we face the truth of the matter–we won’t be in a position to change anything–not in our homes, not in our churches, not in our communities and certainly not on a global level.

If the world is going to change–the change has to begin with us acknowledging just how much of a hypocrite we can be and the change must come now!

The Praising Dead!

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1 NIV).

Without belaboring any discussion about John’s vision, I would like to move forward to the last part of this verse–“God knows our deeds, we have a reputation of being “alive,” but are dead.”

There is absolutely nothing we can hide from God. He looks upon our hearts and knows our thoughts from afar, so our deeds–cannot escape Him. Whatever consumes our thoughts will dictate what we do–and God already knows what that will be.

In spite of the fact that God knows all, we attempt to fool people with acts of holiness and piety, when in reality, we are living what we want others to think we are living. Other people think we are such spiritual Christians–when we: constantly quote scripture (but no idea what they mean), always have a word of prophecy for others (but never hear God’s voice), sing louder, pray louder, and dance longer than others (moved by our emotions rather than guidance by Holy Spirit), and always quick to tell others what they need to do to be saved (but living saved has not been accomplished)–Oh yes, we have a reputation of being alive, but are dead. People think we are “all that,” because of what “they see” not what they know. God knows!

When given an opportunity to show compassion, the response is anything but compassionate and often more judgmental. When given an opportunity to show mercy, we instead condemn others for the same things from which we have yet to be delivered. When given an opportunity to show the love of Jesus Christ, we attempt to show our superiority over others in knowledge and in holiness. God knows, which is why He showed these things to John in the vision. Not everyone is guilty, but so many are.

We are not righteous of our own accord or by what we do. We have been declared righteous because of His righteousness when we are living in right relationship with God. That right-relationship involves hearing God’s voice, following His directions, and living before all men as God would have us to live–even when they cannot see us–God can. Having a right relationship with God brings humility–total submission and awe about His love and leaves no room for superiority, judgment, or condemnation of others. Being religious and not having a relationship with God brings us no closer to Him and will actually widen the gap of understanding.

Our God is an awesome God! He gives us chance after chance to get it right before Him and others. He loved us enough to come down from glory in the person and likeness of Jesus Christ, showed us how to live, then showed us what real love will do–sacrifice self–so others can be saved. That’s the God I serve! I pray every day that my life (how I live) is a praise unto Him and I will not need to expect to hear anything other than, “well done” on that day. I do not want to be, the praising (loud but saying nothing) dead!

Lord Jesus, help us to be all that You would have us to be and to do all things well in Your sight.

Provoking Others!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV)

How can we provoke others in loving others or doing good deeds, if we are not doing them?

The most powerful method to getting someone to do what we want them to do, is to show them by example how things should be done. We must remember that most people may hear what we say and forget what was said almost as quickly as we said it. But they will remember what they see us do–good or bad--so let’s do what we want others to do, rather than talk about it.

When we want others to live a life that’s pleasing to God, we must first consider how we live our own lives and make whatever adjustments are needed. We cannot convince others of anything that we are not doing. We cannot afford to be the kind of Christians who want others to “do as we say, not as we do.”

The “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy never works. It didn’t work with parents, the religious leaders of yesteryear, or anyone else in authority. People–especially children–are more inclined to do what they see us do. And when we don’t do what we expect others to do, we become hypocrites. This is why Jesus called out the religious leaders (Luke 11:44–KJV; 12:56 and 13:15 NIV)--they expected the people to just do what they were told, even though they were not doing what was right.

Get a notebook and write down everything you have ever told someone else to do (that’s right) and then write down what you do. Don’t cheat yourself–God knows! When you have completed your list, what changes need to be made–by you; not  others? When we are honest with ourselves in correcting those things  that we need to correct, then we can expect different results from the people we try to influence.

We cannot preach or teach love and forgiveness and then judge and condemn others. Our job is not to judge or condemn people; but to love them and pray for them when we see them going astray. But then, what do they see us doing?

We cannot just talk about sin–all of them–and then live any way we want to live in front of others and expect them to change what they do. They are watching us and doing what we do.

We cannot just tell children how to act when they don’t see us doing what we’re telling them to do. Remember the Public Service Announcement when a dad asked his son how he learned to do drugs? His son responded by saying, “I learned it from watching you.” What do your children or grandchildren see you do? Is it contrary to what you say?

I am many things, but I have never aspired to being a hypocrite. I try always to watch what I say and do because I want to be able to provoke others to living the best life they can as a Christian, a parent, a student, a spouse and a child. I am still a child–in my Father’s eyes–so I must demonstrate my obedience in the presence of others if I expect them to obey Him.

Let us provoke others–to obey, to love, to forgive and to pray–at all times for all things and people. We can pray for peace, for justice, for mercy, for healing, and anything else that aligns with God’s Word and expect Him to respond to our prayers.