Five Minute Friday: Speak

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

On one thing we can all agree: What a week it’s been.

Linking up with Kate and my buddies. We: speak.

Go.

There are many things I could write tonight. Many things I could say.

Only a few need to be shared in this moment.

One: To my brothers and sisters of color, I am sorry. For the times I shrugged off an inappropriate joke. For the times I’ve been afraid of you because you are different from me. For the times I didn’t seek to understand. For the times I didn’t listen. I want to be better, to do better. This is not about politics; not about left or right. Not about looking good for anyone. It’s about publicly owning what I need to own. From here on out, I wish to be more aware and more sensitive. I want to build bridges instead of walls.

Two: White supremacy isn’t just hating people of other races. The groups that converged in Charlottesville last weekend would gladly do away with me – whether that means kicking me out of the country or killing me. Because I’m ill. Because I can’t have children. Because I struggle with depression and anxiety. White supremacists seek “purity,” whatever that means, and I’m certainly not that. There’s a good chance that you aren’t, either.

Three (I shared the following on Facebook earlier today): Many speak of the Civil War as being fought over state’s rights. For the sake of argument, let’s say that’s true. I need someone to explain to me why anyone is angry that the state governments are choosing to remove Confederate symbols from public display.

Think about it.

Finally: I follow several African-American Christian leaders online. They are all asking the same questions – Why can’t our white brothers and sisters see how this hurts us? How these things stoke the fires of hatred and prejudice?

We should listen to the people who have to deal with what these things stand for every single day.

Stop.

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Also linking up with Suzanne Eller and the Ra-Ra Writers

More information:

 

The Myth of the Kindly General Lee

 

What Would Jesus Say About Confederate Symbols?

 

On Trump and Repentance

 

The 1850s Response to the Racism of 2017

 

Social Conservatism vs. Tribal Nationalism

 

Lost Cause of the Confederacy (this is from Wikipedia, so use it as a jumping off point)

 

Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Antifa: a Glossary of Extremist Language

 

Charlottesville: Race and Terror (a must-watch 22-minute video)

Five Minute Friday: Place

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

“…you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

– Matthew 24:6-8 (NKJV)

See that you are not troubled.

How, Jesus? How do we erase the feeling of trepidation as leaders in Pyongyang and Washington, D.C., continue to breathe fire at each other, uncaring who is singed in the process? We pray, but the fear remains.

God, forgive us in our frail, simple humanity.

As usual, linking up with Kate and all. We seek: place.

Go.

I can’t remember a time without war.

Operation Desert Storm happened when I was in Kindergarten and first grade. Clinton authorized the bombing of Kosovo during middle school. The planes crashed and the towers fell at the start of my senior year of high school. Now I watch the news with an anxious knot in my chest, wondering if we’re really about to go along with Kim Jong-un and reignite the Korean War, a war that never really ended, a war that accomplished nothing. A war that will inevitably escalate until the nations gather once again to slaughter each other across continents.

One set of human beings seeking to strip the other of their humanity.

Will the government reinstate the draft? My husband only has two-and-a-half more years before he is free of being enlisted against his will.

Why should more people die? People caught in the crossfire, people who will suffer because of inflated egos and short tempers.

Gaily, recklessly, arrogantly marching off to war. Just as so many before.

Mothers and fathers, widows and widowers, sons and daughters – left to mourn.

To what end?

No end. Evil is never satiated. Violence is a great, gaping, black mouth, ever-hungry for more victims. It is the mouth of the Devil, that ancient father of lies.

I don’t understand this place, this world. I preach the grace of the Gospel, the solidness of God’s presence. I seek to be a minister of peace. Of reconciliation. My quiet voice – can it, does it make a difference in this place of noise and chaos and boiling blood?

God promises that He will finish what He started. The words He speaks fall to the ground, taking root in the fertile soil of hearts responsive to mercy. A great harvest will result. Nothing returns to Him void. His plans are not thwarted by missiles, His purposes not wrecked by tirades.

That – I must hold to in this place. Though fear pounds in my chest and frustration runs through my mind. He is good and pure and true.

So I, and you with me, must speak the words of truth in this place until we arrive at the other Place, where war and sin are no more.

Stop.

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Photo credit: Thomas Tucker

Five Minute Friday: Try

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

I’ve been about a 97% vegetarian for the last year-and-a-half. At first, I craved meat, sure that I wasn’t getting enough protein. Slowly but surely, my body adjusted. Liver function improved. I pushed back against the bad cholesterol that runs in my family. I’ve tried around 100 different recipes, give or take, mostly found on Pinterest. Every two weeks, I stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

This does not mean, however, that I’ve morphed into some “oh, I could never eat junk food again” kind of person. I continue to love junk food. My palette may have been forced to expand, but, at heart, I still want to eat like a teenager.

Today, I ate the biggest Arby’s sandwich I could get.

It was glorious.

Red meat is the biggest “no-no” when you’ve got a crappy liver, but, once a year (on my birthday) from now on, I will throw caution to the wind and have the roast beef (and, let’s get real, the curly fries). There’s enough struggle and striving in life. I believe that God encourages us to find bright spots of enjoyment as often as possible.

For me, it’s the roast beef.

And now all my ethical vegetarian and vegan friends/followers have fainted in horror.

Linking up with Kate and the authors (that sounds like a band name). We:

Go

“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

Wisdom from a galaxy far, far away.

We like to hedge our bets – try to do better, try to be there, try to commit, try to pray. What we really mean – I probably won’t, but I want to give off the impression that I will. Because we don’t want to disappoint anyone, ourselves included. We want to say “no” without actually saying “no.”

I’ve experienced this recently in the context of exercise. Having battled extreme fatigue and other ailments all year long, there are nights when I go to bed and promise myself, “I’ll try to exercise tomorrow.” Instead of just being honest – “I am too tired to do anything intense, but I can do gentle things and make time for rest” – I played mind games with myself. I rationalized and justified.

There’s only “do” and “don’t”, “yes” and “no,” sometimes “maybe,” if we really, honestly don’t know if we’ll be able to do something.

But there is no “try.”

You don’t try to write a book, you just write it.

You don’t try to build a business, you put in hours of hard work.

You don’t try to have a good marriage, you commit to your spouse.

You don’t try to love the Lord, you ask Him to give you a new heart.

It’s making choices and taking responsibility.

It’s that whole,

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”

– Matthew 5:37 (NKJV)

And it’s knowing that the “yes” and the “no” are sufficient.

Stop

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Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo

Also linking up with the Ra-Ra Writers.

Five Minute Friday: Inspire

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (1)

Gentle Reader,

Fatigue drags me down. I am one with the couch. This is okay; everything that needed to be done today is done. The sun just begins to dip in West, filling the trees with golden light.

Linking up with Kate and all the peeps. We: inspire.

Go.

Inspire. A transitive verb, according to Merriam-Webster, “to influence, move, or guide.” The sigh that rises from deep within upon gazing at a sunset or arriving at the the top of a mountain. The pounding heart as the ears bask in the playfulness of Mozart’s “A Little Night Music.” The peace that descends as the eyes sweep across the serene beauty of Monet’s “Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies.” The creativity of God first, then others, pulls at something within and moves us to create.

Yet there is more.

The archaic definition, “to breathe or blow into or uponto infuse (something, such as life) by breathing.”

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 

– Genesis 1:1-2 (NKJV)

Ruach Elohim. 

The Breath of the Creator.

All that breathes, all that lives, finds its source and sustenance in the Breath.

 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

– Colossians 1:15-17

He is the inspiration. He holds us together. Nobody taught Him how. Nobody instructed Him in the ways of air and lungs. Nobody gave Him an example of wind rustling prairie grasses, something He could copy or perfect.

Ruach Yahweh.

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

– Isaiah 11:1-2 (NKJV)

The Breath of the I AM.

The mystery of the Incarnation. The Man’s nose inhaled the air. His mouth exhaled the mind and heart of God.

The same Breath clears away the dust and the cobwebs that threaten to overtake our souls. The same Spirit now dwells in us.

It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

– John 16:7b (NKJV)

Never leaving, never forsaking.

Always inspiring.

Stop.

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