Character – Our Nation Needs it More Than Ever

Let me start out by saying that ‘character’ is the foundation for which if absent, the world falls into utter chaos! Wow, how’s that for an opener! At the surface you may think this is overly dramatizing the importance of ‘character’, but I assure you I am not.

To better convey this point, let me first make a few important points. Lately, we have seen a barrage of images  in the news about the shooting of Michael Brown, of Ferguson MO.

Unless you live in a complete vacuum, you are familiar with this tragedy. Also, we now know the police office, Darryl Wilson (and his wife) are leaving the police department and most likely the general area for their safety.

We also have seen weeks of rioting occurring all over the United States as a result of the reaction of the grand jury to move to not indict offer Wilson. And so the result of all this has led to an increase in tension and chaos!

At the center of this issue is character!

Why?

Because it was character or the lack of good character that allowed a young man to think he could strong-arm rob a store for cigars, and later disregard the attempt of a police officer to stop and question him for a robbery (that he had just committed). It was also an issue of character that allowed this same young man to resist arrest and make a grab for his gun…

If all these events are true (and the robbery has been confirmed on video); then Michael Brown’s actions stemmed from a lack of good character! Lets not make excuses, it was bad character…

And what about the officer’s judgement and character?

Why did he try to stop and physically detain a young man who the officer described was clearly stronger, defiant and apparently not inclined to be physically detained? If he  had backed off and waited for back up to arrive, Michael Brown might have been arrested without injury.

Did the officer use good judgement? Or should he have waited for his back up to arrive before trying to arrest Brown? Was the officer’s attempt to grab Brown from his car door an example of trying to be ‘Macho Man’.

What was present in the officer’s judgement and character that allowed him to think that he should attempt to wrestle with someone who was un-cooperative, obviously stronger and indifferent to his initial attempt to be questioned?

Was the officer emboldened because he had a badge and a gun?

Was it a matter of duty or ego?

Who really knows?

To be honest, I am not sure what I would have done if I were in officer Wilson’s situation…

Now lets switch gears for a minute.

What about the rioters who decided that they were going to riot as a means to express their anger?

What made them think it was okay to rob and burn down local businesses?

How does hurting one’s own local business community help the matter?

Does the ‘ends justify the means’? Meaning: Is it okay to engage in utter chaos – burn and loot – just to make a point?

So now everyone that disagrees with a judicial outcome can just destroy their community?

Or were other more serious character issues present…that allowed so many to engage in criminal activities?

And what about the news reporter who published officer Wilson’s home address?

She thought she was on the right side of the issue…because from her perspective the officer showed no regard for Brown’s safety…

Do you see how this cycle of un-ending, self feeding  rationalizations  can be used to justify wrongful conduct?

It’s essentially the same state of mind that drives much of the violence in the world. And it is this mindset (to rationalize one’s wrongful behavior) that is such a pervasive character issue today. By now you see the point I made at the beginning of this post was not and is not ‘over dramatizing’ the importance of ‘character’ because the absence of good character is central to all these events.

Any time people act in ways that intentionally cause harm, hurt, and create mayhem; these are all problems that have character deficiency as a root cause. And if we don’t get a handle on ‘replenishing’ our nation’s character deficiency we are sure to see more civil unrest, fear, litigious action and soon more racially charged accusations.

Our nation watches the events of Ferguson, and yes – people do have a right to express their dissatisfaction with our judicial system but they have an obligation to do so within the confines of the law. Otherwise we have no order, we have a disorganized society of mayhem and chaos.

And keep in mind our kids are watching Ferguson and they are receiving messages from the events they see on TV and on the Internet. We have a responsibility to lead them in the paths they should go. Good character is vital to a nation, to a city and to individuals. In my next post I will speak to the issue of character as it relates to kids and what they learn from each other!

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

The Way to Cope Is by Grace.

How do we cope with those who would rob us of our joy?..

Here’s a situation that may help:

The other day I was upset..And the thing that upset me had to do with family relationships and a person who’s ‘humanity’ doesn’t allow them to understand what is the right thing to do in what is a very difficult situation..

Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee a person will do the right thing. We know that from Peter’s account (“Lord I will never deny you”)…Okay so much for good intentions! So we know  that Christians are still subject to temptation as we are all. When we know the right thing to do and we willing do the wrong thing…well to him who knows better…its sin!

I was upset because this ‘person’ selfishly decided to allow their ‘issues’ to supersede the needs above the well being of other family members…So you see those that are closest to you can do the most  harm…

And yet through it all God is in control! He holds the hearts of men and women and the Holy Spirit’s job is to convict,  not ours! So we pray for that ‘person’ to have their eyes opened. We pray for righteous conviction and for a changed heart. We  pray the Lord will be the one who reveals their wrong doing…

And we extend grace, mercy and over look their trespasses. Because just like Jesus said to those who crucified Him: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”…

We must  have that same heart towards even those who are close to us and who offend us. And  this is the extension of Grace. It is what they do not deserve (none of us do). And God gives us the ability to do this if we are willing to ‘do the right thing’…

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Made in His Image

The other day I was thinking about how incredible it is that we have the ability to travel so freely about this world. In the last two months, I’ve been on a few airplanes and landed in a different state (and a different continent).

I know it’s common, to see planes and or even just get in a car and drive several miles to a location that one would not consider walking to. You might say ‘well that’s nothing to get excited about’ because driving and flying are every day occurrences.

I think about how we have used our brains and hands to make mechanical devices that we then get aboard and fly through the air! Or we ride in contraptions that go far faster than we could ever hope to run! And we do this every day without a second thought.

It’s a trip! Literally and figuratively, to think that a human should be able to defy the laws of gravity and transport themselves over thousands of miles and to do so with little or no real concern (other than the cost to do so).

Our not to distant ancestors could not even think about such a thing. To have lived in the early 1800s meant if you wanted to go somewhere of significant distance, you were riding on an animal. It wasn’t until the steam engine and steam trains that mass transportation became a reality in Western society.

And through advances in technology, we now get into space ships and fly out of the atmosphere to other planets! Just think about all the moving parts in a car or better yet, a passenger jet that must move and spin, turn and twist so that propulsion and speed are possible.

How did this happen? After all, are we not just mere human beings? We don’t have wings on our backs or the ability to run like a cheetah! What or rather Who gives us the right to fly through the air? And what will we be able to do tomorrow?

In Genesis, Chapter 1 Verse 26 it says:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” – NIV

We know that God is a creator because He made the Earth and everything in it. He placed all the natural resources that He knew would be needed to refine the materials necessary to build our cars, planes, cell phones, boats, etc. He also made us to be inventors and use our creative minds to dream, conceive, design and construct these things.

We are creators of these incredible inventions and devices because He made us in His image. He is the ultimate Creator of all Heaven and Earth, and we inherited our God given creative abilities to have dominion over the Earth. It is for this same reason that animals such as lions and tigers, bears and sharks, no matter their physical size or power, will ever stand a chance against the devices of man.

We were made to be rulers over this planet and we do so by our abilities to create and invent. So the next time you get in your car, or aboard a plane, take a moment to realize we are able to do such things only because we are made in His image.

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

The Answer

I was watching the news today and saw a shocking story about 3 teens who shot to death, a young man who was visiting the US from Australia. The story said the young man was out jogging and the teens drove up from behind and shot him for the ‘fun’ of it and they just wanted to see someone die…

This story is just about as senseless an event as there could ever be. Senseless in terms of the reason these teens committed this act. And it occurred to me that our country and its youth have reached a new low. We have degraded to the point where innocent people cannot walk out the door with out concern for some unstable idiot with a vendetta against society who has access to a gun.

This brings up the whole issue of guns and their proliferation in America. I have no problem with guns because in the right hands, a gun is a tool for keeping the peace and for providing protection. Its when they fall into the wrong hands that we see the countless number of tragedies.

I’m sure there will be arguments about what the right measures need to be to ensure guns do not fall into the wrong hands…but I am concerned about another precipitating factor: the psyche of those who feel they must use a gun against society or the public for personal or private reasons.

Regardless of how a gun gets into the wrong hands…there seems to be an emergence of crazies who feel no sense of moral regard for innocent people or lives. Doesn’t matter if the victims are senior citizens or elementary grade school children. The crazies seem to feel that everyone is fair game and the only thing that seems to matter is they have unleashed their vengeance on the public.

I don’t ever recall a time in my life time where there was so much blatant disregard for human life or such callous attitudes for those who commit such actions. Its like we are living in ‘Thunderdome’ and I fully expect ‘Mad Max’ to appear out on the streets.

I am reminded of a scripture in the book of Matthew (24:12) that says “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” And I think about this generation. I think about how cold  some have become and how devoid of love their hearts have to be take out their rage on innocent lives.

More stringent gun control legislation may help but it is not the real answer. Love is the answer. Love your neighbor as your self is part of the real answer. Embracing the love of Christ with the understanding He gave His life to be a ransom for you and I, to redeem us; that is the real answer.

We will see real change when hearts and minds are won over to Christ. The forgiveness and grace of God, that says He knows how depraved we are… yet He still loves, forgives and accepts us as His own, that is what changes lives.

So when we see another story on TV that horrifies us…just know that there are many people who need to know that God cares about them…that we have a responsibility to communicate this to our world and that if they only realized this before they became so desperate…perhaps we could have saved some lives.

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

Trust- Why is it so Difficult?

When I examine my life, I find I have had an abiding conviction that Jesus is the son of God, but that is very different as compared to trusting God. Trust requires more than belief, it requires a willingness to demonstrate one’s belief. Trust requires you put skin in the game and not just mentally ascent to a belief or notion.

When you trust, you take action. For example, every morning during the week, we awake and go off to work. We commute several miles because we trust that our actions and efforts will lead to a pay check. We expect and trust that a direct deposit will be placed in our checking account. Such actions are in fact, expressions of trust because they are accompanied by action and not mere belief. Belief requires no action but merely agreement. Trust requires a demonstration of action that is predicated on one’s belief.

So I know how to demonstrate actions that constitute trust for the belief I will have a pay check every two weeks… even though there are any number of interventions that could potentially interfere with that becoming a reality (I could croak in my sleep, or have an accident on the freeway, or simply get fired for performance reasons, etc).

And yet non of those potential possibilities deter my belief that leads to my actions to get up and go to work because I trust in the outcome of receiving my bi-weekly compensation. I’m pretty sure you do the same thing and the point is we take action based on our trust our actions will result in a future outcome (even though we have no real assurance that it will).

We trust in our money, guns, democracy, military capabilities, technology, etc… Notice that all these things are tangible (IE, they are easily seen, felt, heard, expressed or other wise experienced by our senses).

But then there is this invisible God…who says that He is a rewarder of those believe He is, and who diligently seek after Him…We are told we can access Him through the measure of faith in His son; Jesus Christ and through believing what He died for us on the cross for our sins, and has risen from the grave.

We want to trust in God but why is that so hard for some of us? What does it mean to trust? What are some inhibitors that make it difficult for us to trust God? And is this not our responsibility to resolve? I don’t presume to have all the answers for this dilemma (and to be sure there are many more inhibitors). I thought I would offer a few to explore, analyze and propose solutions to:

1) We find it hard to trust because we are fearful.
2) We find it hard because we listen to the voice of doubt.
3) We don’t practice activities that instill or build our trust in Him.

1) We find it hard to trust because we are fearful.
Researchers say babies are born with only two fears (1) the fear of loud noises and (2) the fear of falling. All other fears are therefore presumed to be learned. An acrostic for FEAR is: False Evidence Appearing Real. I don’t know who originally coined this acrostic (nor is that important) but the implications of it are very significant. Many people in the bible were fearful and they either failed to attain what God had desired for them, or they simply missed the mark of what they otherwise could have attained.

2) We find it hard because we listen to the voice of doubt.

I don’t know why God developed a system that requires faith in Him and that Jesus is His Son, but that is the way it is structured. When you are the boss, you don’t really have to explain your rules (not that our tiny minds could really understand them). When you are the boss, you explain your policies and rules and that communicates the expectation for the employees to follow. So much of what the bible states is counter intuitive to our minds because our minds are naturally carnal or worldly. We doubt things that don’t make sense to our frame of reference. So when we read about God becoming a man and dying on the cross for our sins, our minds struggle with trying to understand…and we doubt. We doubt that we can accept such an explanation for how the world came to be and it makes no sense to pray or have telepathic communication with an invisible being in hopes that our thoughts, hopes and aspirations would be heard and understood…and yet this is the system God established for us to access Him.

We doubt the things we don’t understand, even if those things are true. Some of us struggle to come to a place where we accept what the definition of ‘truth’ is. Some think its subjective; what is true for you is fine and what is true for me (while it may be different) is fine too. So we rationalize that we can have different ‘truths’ as it pertains the the same subject. This is the basis for ‘all roads lead to the same place’ argument. The notion of a single and absolute truth is intuitive up to the point that it does not fit our desired opinion of what we want the truth to be…the bible tells us that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him and those that would worship Him must do so in Spirit and in Truth. This means in order to know God, you must believe and accept there is one version of the truth.

3) We don’t practice activities that instill or build our trust in Him.

Have you noticed that even the greatest sports athletes must practice in order to stay on top of their game? They will often practice the fundamentals of their sport until it is second nature and from there, they can improvise having already internalized what they need to do from a foundational standpoint. This allows a basket ball player to step up to the foul line and have greater confidence, or trust that he or she will sink those clutch free throws and win the game. It also allows for their teammates to share that same trust for the game’s outcome. You see, it is the practice of free throws that builds the trust that when one needs to make them in a game setting, those shots will be made. I believe there is a correlation between practicing activities that build confidence in sports and doing the same in the ‘game of life’. And when it comes to trusting God, we have an opportunity to perform or practice activities that will build our confidence or trust in Him as well. The bible states ‘faith without works is dead’ which implies that one must perform works to accompany one’s stated faith. The works, or the action is the ‘active’ ingredient that becomes the building blocks upon which greater trust and confidence can be derived.

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing

The Issue of Identity

We all want to be accepted, loved and assured that we belong and have value in someone else’s eyes (if not our own). My parents were of different ethnic, cultural and racial backgrounds. They met in what I can only describe as the most unusual of circumstances and married at a time when marrying outside of one’s race was still considered taboo. I am a product of the 60’s and 70’s in terms of social influence and survived through living in inner city, sub-standard housing including some pretty ghetto (oxymoron I know) housing projects.

I grew up in some of the rough areas of Los Angeles in what was once known as South Central L.A. and my parents frequently moved from and to various neighborhoods in an effort to find a safer home for us. Through this transitory experience of constant moving, we were frequently faced with curious, often well meaning but sometimes cruel inquiries as to what we were. ‘What are you’? was a frequent question we encountered? Our father was African American and our mother Japanese. So we looked as if we could be Pacific Asian Islanders (Samoans, Hawaiians, etc), Hispanic, and often we were ostracized with slurs and other derogatory labels.

As a child, this had a negative impact on my self perception and although I viewed my self as an African American, I was always acutely aware that I was biracial. Being biracial means you are neither one nor the other but equally both. So after much soul searching (when I was in my late teens) I allowed my childhood experiences in the African American community to shape my views and perspectives on society, American culture and politics. This was a form of self indoctrination that heavily influenced my relational interaction with others. And while I thought I had this together then, I was in fact still growing in maturity and understanding. It was when I entered my early twenties I was again challenged to re-explore or re-assess what I felt was my sense of identity.

I worked at a factory in the late 70s and met a guy who was a Christian. This guy was about 4 or 5 years older than me and he was actually very cool. We worked in a two man set up making resistors (it was an electronics manufacturing company). It was boring and monotonous work, I mean really…making resistors all day, 5 days a week. The highlight of the day was when you had filled the bag and could stop long enough to take a batch to another department for testing.

So this guy, I will call him ‘Joe’ would work really hard! I mean he put allot of effort into what I thought was a job that, well I couldn’t understand why? Like I said, it was really boring so most people would feel compelled to cruise and just get by. Not Joe, he worked hard and on his breaks he read the bible! Now I was no stranger to the bible, I just didn’t know why he chose to read it on his break. This combination of bible reading and hard work caught my attention.

One day, I asked him ‘Joe why do you read the bible’ so much? He said ‘I believe in God’ (or something like that…keep in mind its been a long time since this conversation so much of this is anecdotal recollection on my part). I then asked him ‘Why do you believe in God’? He smiled and said ‘Well, when I think about who I know myself to be…how complicated I am as a person…my thoughts and emotions…I just cannot believe that I evolved from a lower life form (like a monkey)…

Now this blew me away because up to this point, I had looked to society to provide me the criteria for what I would use to define who I was and I viewed my identity through the filters of race and cultural heritage. This seemed quite natural as I was a product of the 60’s in an inner city environment. During the 60s there was a desperate need in my community (and within myself) to find something positive to identify with. We were fighting allot of negative self imagery, but I never thought about this on a spiritual level because my mind was still very carnal and everything was judged based on appearances sake.

In the 60s and 70s, we were expressing ourselves through our appearance and it was cool to look as if you were a revolutionary! There was only one problem; I was only looking at the external and attempting to use that as a means to define myself. I realize in retrospect that was naive and not unlike so many teens experience today. You have but to look around today and see teens with the ‘gothic’ look… they are saying ‘we are different’ and this image is what we want to represent who we are. They hope their appearance will define them to society… but this too is vanity and superficial because it cannot address the deeper aspects of one’s identity and being.

So after thinking about Joe’s comments, I must admit it forced me to rethink everything I thought about who I was and whether a God was the reason for my existence. And if this was true, how would I process this in terms of my identity? So yes, Joe lead me to question myself and my lack of relationship with this God that he knew so well…and he lead me in the sinner’s pray to accept Jesus Christ (right there on one of our breaks)!

So, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and Jesus changed everything. He changed my views on my identity and I learned that God is not a respecter of persons. I realized that I had become a ‘new creature’ in Christ and that in fact, I had become born again. I realized that the exterior or the outside appearance of a person is nothing more than a shell or a tent and that we are in fact truly spirits. We are spirits (our essence), we have a soul (our mind and emotions) and we have a body (our physical body). We are in fact a tri-part being (three parts make the totality of what we are).

When I learned that we were made in God’s image and that we have his DNA, I began to think about the superficial trappings that society uses to define identity (race, ethnicity, outside appearances, cultural differences, etc) and it dawned on me that Satan uses this to divide mankind. Satan uses tools of race, racial bigotry, racial hatred and racial shame as tools to divide man and to keep him confused as to his true identity. You are not what your parents ethnic and or racial make up would suggest.

You are in fact a spirit and in this sense, we are truly all the same. The only question is do you know that? Or are you still thinking the external superficial appearances define who you are? If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are a child of God and you are not defined by externalities, but rather through your relationship with Him. You are royalty, you are an heir of the most High God, you are destined for greatness because you are a child of God!

If you wish to learn more about us please stop by our site: http://www.wagpub.com

Be blessed and have a great day!

WAG Publishing