War on Drugs and Freddie Gray

May 1st, 2015 lindarae No comments

During the Baltimore demonstrations over the death of Freddie Gray, a bail bondsman on Sean Hannity’s show said the war on drugs has reached too far and has become harmful and self-defeating. He said that the last time Freddie Gray was arrested the police had seen him selling drugs on video, but when they picked him up, he wasn’t selling drugs, so the police planted drugs on him.

To Freddie and the bail bondsman, that was an injustice even though the police were right that he had been selling drugs earlier. Framing a person who was guilty is wrong even though that person was a drug dealer. The police have to catch him in the act.

If the police use illegal methods in trying to stop crime, they become part of the problem and incense the community. Still, some in the community are probably happy to get drug dealers off of the street, but two wrongs do not make a right. Legal procedures must be followed by law enforcement or the whole justice systems crumbles. Police framing people is probably only one of many questionable ways the police in Baltimore have used to clean up the streets.

Of course, improving policing is not the complete answer. Inner city crime has become so complex that personal commitment and sacrifice of God-loving people is required to make positive changes. Politicians are more of the problem than the police. They allow poverty to continue in order to keep the status quo that keeps them in power. Justice is postponed as a convenience for political trading. For example, teachers’ unions that donate and work for campaigns lobby politicians to prevent students from having a choice for better schools. School choice becomes bogged down in political bargaining, ignoring the needs of the people.

Education is the way out of poverty. It gives people knowledge of the opportunities available, shows people how to take advantage of the opportunity and gives them the training and knowledge to take advantage of the opportunity. Knowledge gives people power, and it is disturbing to me to see people denied the power to change their lives. They are being denied hope, and hope denied makes the heart sick.

The police are caught in a trap as well as the poor because politicians use police to keep order, which makes it possible for politicians to postpone providing the means to raise people out of poverty. Just thinking about it is frustrating and makes me feel powerless. There are so many wrongs that could be made right with genuine efforts to provide the poor with the education, hope and citizen training that could give them a choice and opportunity to rise to the middle class and higher and become contributing members of society.

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Is There an Answer on How to Improve Race Relations?

April 28th, 2015 lindarae No comments

I am so disappointed by the deterioration of race relations. It is difficult to understand why racial tension would increase while we have an African American president. You would think President Obama’s election would have improved racial relationships.

I have no answer to why this is happening. Sometimes I think President Obama could do more to provide calming leadership. I know he has the speaking ability, but I do not know if he possesses the sociological viewpoint to provide the balanced leadership to unite the nation. Any tinge of bitterness on his part becomes an excuse for the black agitators. Self-pity breeds violence and self-destruction. It seems like the President could be able to counteract those feelings by using his accomplishments as an example of hope for those living in poverty.

Still, I cannot claim to understand the complexities of racial tension. My former husband of 29 years is black and my four children are bi-racial. We were very poor for the first 14 years of our marriage, but gradually through hard work and ingenuity we rose to the middle class. We thought we could do better, and so we worked hard to make that happen. I think there are those in the poor black communities who think there is no way out. Their perception is that the system is working against them.

I also had experience when I fostered two black teenagers for two years. They were drug dealers before coming to my home, and while living with me, they did not deal drugs. They succeeded in high school and found part time jobs. However, when they left my home, they immediately returned to their past behavior and ended up in dealing drugs again, going to jail and one of them being shot. They had the experience and the example of how to succeed, but they chose past behavior. I don’t understand why they went that way, but it is possible I failed in some way to provide sufficient tools for future success. I would like to know more about what I could have done to have provided a better foundation for success in their lives.

However, at the same time, it takes effort on both sides to reach what will work to unite the country. We cannot listen to those who have personal ambitions and incite riots by their blaming others or to the people who think poor African Americans should be able to take hold of opportunities when their education system has failed them; instead, we must listen to both sides to find the heart of the problem and begin to mend and improve relationships. There is always something to learn that makes it possible to reach agreement. Somewhere in the conversation the truth can be found to bring unity.

How will this communication be accomplished? Only through insightful and wise leadership. Mature and unselfish leadership is the answer. We are waiting for unbiased leaders to surface who will put into action the justice required to provide opportunity for poor blacks and, at the same time, insist that there are no excuses for following the lawless fast and easy path. All citizens have a responsibility to contribute to their nation and make it better. We are not here to live for ourselves.

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Defeating Terrorism

April 28th, 2015 lindarae No comments

It takes years to accurately evaluate some national decisions. History records many interpretations of a political or policy decision before the final judgment is accurately passed. For example, World War I was believed to be the war to end all wars until it was finally seen as the war that was instrumental in causing World War II. I think the war with Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein is one of those events that will take many years to discover its effect on the world, rather good or bad.

The war with Iraq was motivated by a genuine fear that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could be used by Al Qaeda to attack sights in the US. At the same time, there were those in the Bush administration who wanted to use this opportunity to overthrow Saddam and set up a democracy in the Middle East as an example that would trigger other Middle Eastern countries to throw off dictators. A more democratic Middle East would provide freedom for millions of people and provide more peace loving nations.

No one thought this strategy was successful until the Arab Spring. Then it appeared many Middle Eastern people were reaching for freedom. However, those behind the democratic strategy did not have any control over the Pandora’s Box that was opened. The people wanted more freedom and rose up against their dictators, but those who had the strategy and political structure in place were the radical extremists who were religious fanatics, more dictatorial than their predecessors. They took advantage of the idealistic demonstrators and killed many of their leaders once they took control of the government. Egypt was an example of that method. Only the Muslim Brotherhood had the political knowhow to win the election, but they became more oppressive than Mubarak and, as a result, 32 million Egyptians went into the streets to demand that the military remove Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from government.

Now, much of the Middle East is in chaos, with revolutions resulting in no governments. What will be the result? Will the strategy for a democratic Middle East be successful after many years of disruption or will it result in radical Muslim groups enforcing Sharia Law?

It is well known that freedom is not free. It costs many lives to establish and to maintain it. Will history judge this effort to bring more freedom to the Middle East a failure or will the human longing for freedom turn this strategy for democracy into a success? It took forty years for the Cold War to run its course and the weaknesses of communism to be exposed and challenged. Besides internal weaknesses, it was also defeated by a firm and unrelenting strategy by the West to resist communism’s expansion. Now, this war on terrorism will take the same determination and ongoing adjustments of political and military strategy, and it may take forty years or more.

My generation fought politically and militarily and won the Cold War; the war on terror is this generation’s war. I know it is tough, but you can do it. Stay determined and educate yourself with the truth. If you are ignorant, you will be deceived into supporting your enemy. You can win this war if you are willing to fight to remain free.

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Christian Business Owners and Homosexual Marriage

April 14th, 2015 lindarae No comments

What should be a Christian business owner’s response to gay marriage (different from an attack on pastors and churches)? It is most important to find God’s mind on this social issue. The laws are unclear, and even more so if the Supreme Court hands down the decision that homosexual marriage is protected by the Constitution. I suggest we view the struggle from a spiritual perspective while the legal aspects are being clarified. What are the spiritual guidelines?

At this time homosexuals have brought lawsuits against some Christian businesses for refusing to provide a service for their weddings. It hasn’t happened on a large scale, but Christians are afraid and trying to pass state laws to bolster their rights. You could say that Christians and Christian business owners feel threatened by growing homosexual demands. Christians are feeling that homosexuals are their enemies.

The Scriptures are clear about Christians’ responses to their enemies. We have Jesus Sermon on the Mount in which He said, “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” (Matthew 5: 39, 40). “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5: 43, 44).

What is the answer? I think if homosexuals persist in demanding some Christian businesses participate in their marriages and laws support them, they should give the gospel message in love to a homosexual couple who want to purchase their business services. They should explain that they would be uncomfortable and morally conflicted to provide a service at a gay marriage because they do not approve of homosexuals marrying.

Christian business owners could tell the couple that even though God does not approve of their sexual relationship, He does love them and that the Son, Jesus, died so they could be forgiven. After explaining their position, the business owners could explain that not only would they feel uncomfortable but that the couple might feel the same way. They could encourage the couple to go to other florists, bakers or marriage planners.

If the homosexual couple still wants the Christian business owner to plan their wedding, bake their wedding cake, etc. after they have witnessed to them, they should proceed to provide for their marriage in love, asking the Holy Spirit to show them how to reveal Jesus’ love to the couple as they have further contact with them.

These are my first thoughts on this dilemma. As further analysis is made over the next few years, our nation, secularists and Christian, will hopefully find an agreeable resolution for both groups. It is a very complicated social issue, and I am not certain if my conclusions are correct, portraying God’s mind on the matter. My recommendations do not apply to any Christian institutions, churches, non-profits, and organizations. They have a different legal standing and protection.

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Love Is

February 17th, 2015 lindarae No comments

Love is a mystery that often lacks feelings until it is threatened to be extinguished. Then it surfaces with a ferocity and anxiety ready to grab and hold it, surprised by its power and boldness when you thought it was dead. Somehow long love burrows down past consciousness into heart memories that are permanently sustained unless the beloved evaporates love with constant, repetitive evil. Then the love only remains in the outer shell but has lost all substance.

Love is God in us since God is Love. The best love is God. Human love has value, but it lacks longevity and selfless sacrifice without God. With God, it glues together two or more in an embrace of faithful commitment into eternal life.

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Power of Prayer

February 17th, 2015 lindarae No comments

Many times Our prayers of faith have greater power than our spoken words. Often when we are struggling because of the problems being faced by someone we love or our nation or our church, we can think we must say or do something that will solve the problem. If what we say or do is led by the Spirit, our words and actions will be helpful and life changing. However, many times our fear and need to control drive us to say and do things that God may use and anoint, but it is not always His first choice. Many times He would prefer that we enter into Spirit-directed and inspired prayers.

When the Holy Spirit guides us to pray with faith informed by God’s will, that kind of prayer can make greater changes than our words and actions. When we place the object of our prayers-a person, situation, church, nation-into God’s care with trust in His love and power, He can actively speak into the hearts, minds and thoughts of those that are caught up in a personal or larger struggle.

When we give up our efforts, when those efforts arise from fear and control, God can do more by us trusting in His goodness and love than we can by trying to do or say something. He can place wisdom and healing into a person’s heart and soul and give wisdom and knowledge to leaders. We know evil spirits regularly speak into our minds or move our hearts and emotions, so how much more powerfully and effectively is God able to speak into the minds, hearts, and emotions of those for whom we are praying.

Our Father asks us to trust Him and His loving and good nature to ask how He wants us to pray before we jump into action. Sometimes prayer is sufficient.

Example: Recently the Lord showed me how to pray for the radical Islamist problems in our world. He had me pray what I wrote in the last article, about depending on moderate Muslims to increase their participation to defeat ISIS and Al-Qaida. I believe He will define that strategy more clearly to our leaders and prayer warriors as time passes, and moderate Muslims will play some part in the world’s overall strategy against radical Islamists because He wants to move Muslims into an even more moderate religious position in the modern world.

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HOW TO DEFEAT RADICAL ISLAM

February 17th, 2015 lindarae No comments

Many conservative and Christian leaders are trying to explain how the Qur’an supports the extreme Jihad of ISIS. They point to the teachings of Islam as the source of the radical Islamists. However, making that distinction will not lead to a solution. The only way we will see Al-Qaida and Isis defeated is to pressure moderate Muslims to become more moderate and to dominate Islam. They have to totally reject the extremists’ interpretation of the Qur’an and Hadith.
For centuries most Muslims have followed a moderate version of Mohammed’s teachings; ones that developed after Islam became the main religion of the Middle East. The present Muslim Extremists are reaching back to earlier more violent practices. Since Islam is accepted as a legitimate religion worldwide, there is no reason for the present violent, fanatical Jihad.

Moderate Muslims need to lead Islam into the modern world to adapt its teachings and practices to the realities of centuries of political and social changes. This moderate strain will need to broaden and add further practices of moderation. Egypt, Jordan and some other Muslim leaders and nations have recently taken military steps in that direction. Just as Christianity yielded to a broader acceptance of freedom, so now Islam needs to make that transition. They can find support for these changes in their holy books and previous historical practices.

They need not accept all modern, secular practices but look to the adjustments made by Christians who disagree with much of modern culture but have learned to live in it while not being of it. Christians work within the system to influence and morally improve it; a large majority of the time they influence their nations without violence. Christians learned through the American practices and Constitution how to preserve freedom of religion by keeping government secular and separate but still influenced by Judea-Christian principles. They learned to focus on their spiritual mission and not let politics corrupt that primary goal.

There is no utopia on this earth, secular or religious. We must always live in a tension between these two in order to prevent one group from becoming tyrannical, and, at the same time learn to benefit from some of the contributions of each.

In giving the above strategy does not exclude what will become necessary: military action against radical Islamists. Any military action should include military forces from moderate Islamic states, although the US will most likely have to organize and provide some support for military action.

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American Christian Dilemma

December 6th, 2014 lindarae No comments

How is the body of Christ doing in America? Are believers impacting and influencing the culture by their contributions in education, the news and entertainment institutions, labor unions, politics, and the arts? Do the majority of born again Christians vote for candidates who represent Christian principles? Do the majority of Christians vote? The answer to these questions is, “No.”

In America, believers have a responsibility to guide society with Judeo Christian principles. The Puritans entered into a covenant with God that specified certain requirements in order for God to bless it rather than have it fall under judgment. Puritan prophets gave directions, just as happened in the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. Through Puritan prophets, God directed the Puritans to establish colonies in New England to fulfill His purpose. His purpose was to establish a new society built on His principles to be an example to the world of what a just society looked like.

Once in New England, the Puritans faced the same dilemma American Christians face today, whether to separate from the world or participate in it and guide it. The Pilgrims arrived with the goal to separate from the world in order to create the perfect society, but the Puritans understood that they could not make a perfect society; they had to find a way to influence society with Christian values in a firm but sensible and flexible manner. What they created in Massachusetts was balanced for the times and can be used as a model with modern adjustments. What is important for Christians in our times is the choice to participate, not separate from American culture and society.

The body of Christ, believers and churches, have the responsibility to preach the gospel, to help the poor, support racial equality, promote obedience, and protect the unborn and traditional marriagea. They have the responsibility to be salt and light by promoting and establishing Christian principles as the guiding social values without expecting everyone to follow them. However, those goals can only be accomplished by churches and believers committing to enter institutions-careers-in which they will experience persecution. A person graduating from a Christian college or university will not be hired as a journalist for the New York Times or most newspapers in the nation. They will not be hired by the major networks. Christians have to attend secular universities of high standing to be respected and hired by the institutions mentioned above.

Christians cannot hide from persecution and still impact our culture for God’s glory. Hiding from influencing the culture for fear of persecution and rejection violates our national covenant. God’s founding of our nation to be a city on a hill was an intervention in history to carry forward His plan for the nations. The covenant continues to this day and beyond because God’s callings are irrevocable. Therefore, it is incumbent on believers and churches in our nation to follow the example of the Puritans to guide the nation with godly principles while accepting the fact that society will never be perfect. We have to step up our participation and influence by sacrificing our comfort for a higher calling to fulfill God’s plan for our nation as the time of the end draws near.

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Ferguson Tragedy

December 1st, 2014 lindarae No comments

The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri is tragic. It is sad to see the life taken of any young person, especially if the police officer, Darren Wilson, could have found another way to protect himself. This tragic event has been used to focus on the relationship between police and people of color, especially African Americans, in the U.S. I understand the need for dialogue and change, but I question whether this is the best example of police brutality on which to focus on police practices in minority communities. A more provable case against the police and a more compliant black youth would gain more support from the majority in the nation.

The majority of Americans want justice for all races, or they would not have elected President Obama. However, the majority are able to size up the character of most people who become the focus in national crime stories. Michael Brown, because of his actions on video from the convenience store, gives the impression of being arrogant and lawless. If Officer Wilson shot Brown out of racial prejudice, Brown’s attitude muddies the water for making the case against Wilson. I’m certain there are many other examples of police brutality from racial prejudice than this one that would win over the support of more Americans.

On the other hand, maybe this is tragic killing can lead to the majority coming to conclusions that will improve relationships between the police and minorities. The military reaction of the Ferguson police in the beginning and the lack of minority police recruits reveals weaknesses in the department and probably in police departments throughout the country. Also, the media’s coverage of this tragedy has revealed that many policemen assigned to minority and poor communities become hardened by the repetitive killings and challenges by gang members in those communities. It is understandable that they can become hardened, but unacceptable. Training must be initiated to counter that tendency.

Besides the responsibility of the police, the poor, minority communities also bear some responsibility. Michael Brown’s arrogance and lawlessness is not an anomaly in minority youth. Many societal circumstances and human nature tendencies lead to this chip on the shoulder attitudes for poor, minority youth. Weak family structures, poverty, drugs, anti-education attitudes, and victim beliefs encourage irreverent and violent behavior. It is not only necessary for the police to do some soul searching but also the minority communities. Perceptions are not always reality. You can perceive you are trapped in poverty and injustice when there are ways out that many minority individuals have taken, our President being one of them. It requires a change of perception, which means a search for truth, and the courage to face up to personal faults and not only look at the faults of others.

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What Is Christs’s Life?

September 2nd, 2014 lindarae No comments

What is the life of Christ that we live once we are crucified with Christ at spiritual rebirth? It is multifaceted. We have access to all of the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5-22). We have access to Jesus’ knowledge of and trust in His Father. Every day while on this earth, Jesus awoke each morning with the Father on His mind, and He followed whatever the Father directed Him for the day. He trusted His Father in every situation, no matter how dangerous. He knew that whatever His Father ordained to happen that day was right and good, no matter how it appeared. He trusted people would be healed and delivered when He prayed because the Spirit showed Him His Father’s will in each situation. Jesus thanked His Father in the good and bad times. His life in us gives us access to these same qualities.

The life we receive from Jesus is also obedient: “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him . . . .” (Hebrews 5:9-9). We have the power in us to desire and be obedient. Once we choose to be obedient, the Holy Spirit provides the grace or life of Christ to obey. All of the positive character qualities described in the Bible are available to us through Christ’s life. We can truly be Christians or little Christ’s.

Because we are drawn to the world and to worrying and doubting, it often takes us some time of prayer, Bible reading, friend’s prayers and fasting to move into Christ’s life and out of our fleshly life, but with persistence it will always be achieved. Never give up until you succeed. God may take you on a personal journey; however, every part of the journey is God ordained in order to provide you with success.

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