SEEING MY BLIND SPOTS THAT HINDERS RACIAL HEALING AND CHANGE

I was growing up in East Tennessee in 1974. A new Christ follower and College Student very involved in Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU). We had several concerts hosting the Pat Terry Group from Atlanta. I became a fan!!

I am now 66 and Pat is 68 and has made a successful career as a song writer. I am still a fan!!

I listened to a new song and realized Pat was telling his life story and journey in understanding racial reconcilation. His song is helping me make sense of my own journey.

May it help my black friends to understand I cannot go back and change my past but with their patience and grace and truth we can move into healing and walk the journey together.

LINK TO THE SONG ON YOUTUBE

Are you black? Sit down and share your story with a white friend.

Are you white? Sit down and share your story with a black friend.

Know God is big enough to redeem our pasts and make us more like Jesus —- Filled with love and willing to go to bat for those different from us to be treated justly.

My Country of Birth Is Now a Foreign Cross-Cultural place. Help me!!

I am turning 66 in a few days. It seems my homeland, The United States of America, no longer feels like a safe place. My wife and I have traveled to several countries to live for short periods of time. And we have many friends from the States who live long term in these other countries. These friends have shared openly with us the challenge of being the outsiders and walking with humility in order to build bridges of love with the people around them. They are constantly asking questions, welcoming advice that is very contrary to their opinions and it touches every aspect of how they live.

  • A wife rides in the back seat of the car and also walks several feet behind her husband.
  • You never put ice in a drink — even though it is tropical hot….
  • You must not let your children play outside in the rain
  • You must only drink after you finish eating.
  • There is no special foods for breakfast… you eat leftovers from supper.
  • How to greet someone.

I BELIEVE I UNDERSTAND MY ROLE AS A FOLLOWER OF JESUS BETTER WHEN I VIEW THE USA AS A NEW AND VERY DIFFERENT PLACE TO LIVE. THIS BLOG FROM — lhttps://www.alifeoverseas.com/strangers-in-covidland/

Strangers in Covidland

by EDITOR on JUNE 10, 2020

by Katie Hoffmann

Blurry-eyed after 36 hours of flying with kids, we handed over our passports. The customs official returned a hearty, “Welcome Home.” 

Those words felt almost digestible as we entered the Seattle International Airport after years overseas working for a Christian non-profit. Although we were grieving all the goodbyes, I felt ready to embrace my country of origin once again. 

Despite my best intentions, reverse culture shock struck in a big way. We had little to no training in re-entry. This left me feeling paralyzed by stuff that should be easy like trying to keep kids quiet in the library or driving on the right side of the road. 

After three years stateside, I’ve gladly regained those skills, but occasionally, I fall flat and feel overwhelmed by culture shock again. 

Recently, we moved again to a new country, except this time our passport wasn’t stamped. It was a sudden departure without glamour and thankfully no cobras. Here’s the funny part: We haven’t even left our house except for one of us who is deemed an “essential worker.” 

Covidland is my new country and once again I must reorient. 

Actions I once thought were normal like talking to a person nearby now have both different implications and results. The way people greet each other is foreign. Elbows? A curtsy? This feels awkward. Can I just use a southeast Asian greeting? 

Classes are now on new platforms of technology. My kids are expected to learn technical culture, as we parents wade through murky waters of Internet security with youngsters. But, unlike with Zoom we can’t mute all the static, conspiracy theories, rude language and stuff that hits us on all ends during this unique time. Divisive warfare is erupting all around me. To relate in this new country is requiring deflecting skills, because the arrows of mindless attack are piercing our community. 

I’m dumbfounded as I find myself jerked between a polarized nation offering two heated sides of opinion and the irony of 40 different cereal choices. Sides have been drawn without healthy nuance, and I’d like to bury my head in my cereal but I can’t. 

I’m exhausted. 

I’m regretting not getting more pre-field training, but some moves happen too fast and necessitate learning on the job. 

As I pull my face out of my Coco Puffs, I remind myself that I must not become complacent no matter which country I reside in. We as the church can never stop being a student of the culture around us. We don’t get a free pass on cultural understanding just because we have a right to act a certain way. 

In a society that for too long has defined churches by buildings and programs, we can easily forget that God’s main directives have not changed and despite a lot of changes around us, we are not banned from loving our neighbor or even sharing the gospel. 

How I interact in my new country and culture will ultimately open or close doors to people’s receptiveness to the Gospel message. 

So I ask the hard questions… 

In a nation that is so often an either/or nation can we choose to be a both/and person? Can we bridge to people in many different groups? 

Can we care about American liberties and still choose to wear a face mask to a store no matter where we stand on the issue? Yes. Can we support small business and physically distance to show care for the more at-risk folks? Yes. Can we request our state government reassess our phases of local reopening and do it in a way that respects others? Yes. Can we both disagree with someone’s opinion and support their family? Yes. Can we do this all in a loving way? Yes! 

As believers we need to be keeping the main thing the main thing. Yes, I know, loving the multitude of neighbors can and will feel stretching and uncomfortable, because culture bridging is real. I’ve experienced that in my home state and overseas. Overseas, dressing in long pants and sleeves in 90-degree tropical weather felt horrid at times, but I knew my neighbors would disrespect me and it would not be loving to disrespect the people around me in conservative Muslim regions by wearing shorts and a tank top. I gladly sweated for the opportunity to connect with those in my community. 

Will we gladly wear a mask into a store and not tear apart the store clerks who are simply enforcing what they’ve been told to do? Just like in my experience overseas, clothes are contextual. In situations where others are uncomfortable it behooves me to be sensitive to that. In other cases where people don’t care, it then becomes my own choice based on research. 

Culture stretching and culture shock happen even when people look the same and own the same passport. It can be more difficult and blindsiding because when we look alike we expect to have the same internal wiring, but we often don’t. Might I be so bold as to say many of us are sliding into culture shock? 

If we aren’t careful culture shock will cause us to attack the neighbor instead of bridging the gap. Because let’s be frank, we’ve all moved to a new land and you are well past phase one of culture shock. The homemade bread- making and binge-watching Netflix is over. You have moved on and if you aren’t careful you won’t pull past it without a lot of destruction. 

Store workers and government officials will not forget your face if you, in a fit of rage, mock or tear them apart. If you reach out later to them to share the message of Christ’s redeeming love, good luck. 

I’ll never forget the day in Southeast Asia when another mother chastised me for letting my daughter play out in the rain. “Illness doesn’t come from dirt or germs! It comes from the rain and wind.” She scolded me. 

I was struggling with culture shock that week and I wanted to do things MY way. I took a deep breath and said, “Thank you for caring about my kids. I’m new here and still learning.” I knew at that moment I had a right to let my daughter play in the rain. I had a right to my own free speech. I hated to be chastised by another woman, but I swallowed my pride. My words needed to reflect our human connection and not a state of winning. 

Let us not forget our humanity. Let us be mindful of how we approach the ever-shifting cultures around us. No matter where you stand on how things are operating in Covidland, let your actions and words build bridges and not walls. 

We are all new here and we are all still learning.

Embrace the Biblical Tension

The Bible has many examples where God says there are two or more truths that must held in a tension. Often God’s truth is both/and nor either/or.

A journey with God begins when we fear God… A journey with God is discovering He is love.

No one comes to the Father unless drawn by the Father. We come to the Father as we believe in Jesus as our Lord who came to save us and offers us eternal life.

The Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts. I have a responsibility to steward and wisely invest all I have received. SO, where does my skills or talents begin and God’s gifting begins?

Here is a tension for everyone to reflect on and apply. I am personally responsible before God for my choices. God works in a life giving way to make my character more and more like Jesus. BOTH ARE TRUE.

Here is a quote for the personal responsibility side of this tension. Go back to the root of formation —- examining carefully your thoughts and beliefs.

“Watch your thoughts; for they become words.

Watch your words; for they become actions.

Watch your actions; for they become habits.

Watch your habits; for they become character.

Watch your character for it will become your destiny.” Frank Outlaw —

I welcome your comments!

God’s View on My Fear

YES — We are living in days of uncertainty and restrictions. YES — It is challenging to even know who or what our hindrances and challenges are around us. YES — There are many conversations and news stories that stimulate a spirit of anxiety.

Try this for a response to your fear filled heart.

Psalm 2 — YES — there are enemies and rebellion against God alive and well in the world — but the call is to humble surrender and trust before the King

Psalm 131 — YES — there many decisions we face that feel overwhelming but we can talk to our soul and invite it to be with trust and hope in God like a weaned child with his/her Mom.

My Grandson – Abel – a weaned child! Can I rest in God’s arms like this!

Philippians 4: 6-7 — Be deeply aware of our anxiety and inability to make plans for just a few weeks out — can bring bring me to a place of calling out to and naming all of our concerns to our God. One can only really recognizes a suddenly calming in the air when we have been walking in a strong wind. One only recognizes an inner peace from God’s touch when we have been in a very anxious unsettled place.

1 Peter 2:11-12 — We are not the first to be in days of challenge, loss and uncertainty. There is a vision of how God is our safe place in these two verses which stirs up quiet hope. Here are a few phrases from The Message New Testament.

'Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles (WHERE IS OUR TRUE HOME ADDRESS?  THERE IS NO CV19 VIRUS IN THE KINGDOM) to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (IF YOU ARE HOME AND AWAY FROM A NORMAL RHYTHM AND ACCOUNTABILITY -- BE ON GUARD WITH WHAT YOU SET BEFORE YOURSELF.) Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds (EVEN IN THIS CLIMATE THERE ARE GOOD DEEDS THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL PROMPT US TO SEE AND CREATIVE IDEAS ON HOW TO STEP OUT AND BE THE HANDS OF A LOVING GOD) and glorify God on the day of visitation. ' 

What helps you see fearful stuff from God’s perspective? Share your best thoughts.

How To Respond to Problems In A Church – sermon by Roy King

DrRoyKing_6I am sure the churches you are part of never face conflicts, divisions, or confusion. Well, the ones I have been a part of sure have some of these challenges.

I believe Jesus is not surprised when the church he is building encounters and creates problems. I also believe the Spirit placed some hope for how to move through these problems.

Here is a sermon where I attempt to look at First Corinthians as a guide given by Paul, the church planter, to a church now four years old and struggling with painful divisions and struggles.

There is HOPE. But like going to a doctor when we are in pain the path of healing requires getting beyond the symptoms to the root cause and then addressing this source.

I WOULD WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS

 

Be Gentle With Your Soul, God is…

Jerome Daley is my life coach. He trained and certified me in life coaching in 2012. We have become good friends and here is my response to his most recent blog .

Dear Jerome, I often hold anything from you until I have time to read it slowly and savor it.  Your post on Gentle was a refreshing moment with Jesus this morning.  Thank you. 

My new thought was to take 1 Cor 13:4-8 — here they are from the Message

So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,

”Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,But keeps going to the end.8-10

Love never dies.  

The new thought for me was to reflect on how God loves me — He models and gives this kind of love to me…. Enduring, humble, not keeping score on my sins, doesn’t play win/lose, takes all my rejection and betrayals with my idols, sees me in my best — dressed in Jesus righteousness, doesn’t drag my past up to me, keeps nudging me ahead to the end goal for the reward he has for me — Life. I need to receive His love for me every day.

I am going to share the daily examen you shared by pdf with a coaching client I will meet via video chat at 30 minutes.  Better get off and get ready — what a gift you are to me.

Hurricane Florence -Embracing Uncertainty

I just returned from spending most of August overseas with Pandora.  We served the church in the North Africa region working with children, youth and adults from Egypt and Sudan.

We experienced delay on our flights home that resulted with arriving in Myrtle Beach a day late.  Just a few days later I left for Tennessee to assist my parents who are living in daily uncertainty in a nursing home.  Near the end of the visit news of hurricane Florence came out and I rushed home (8 hour drive) to help Pandora prepare our home for the storm. Now we are evacuated with our two dogs to be sit out the storm with our family in Columbia.

I struggle with uncertainty and not being sure when we will be back on a normal schedule for a few days.  And yet I just came from a region of the world where everyone I walked with lived with much greater uncertainty than I ever encounter.

Some live in a war zone and hate to hear a gunshot or a plane fly overhead.

Some live in an area of contamination of the water and a shortage of food.

Many live with only have a paying job one day at a time.

Everyone lived with currency devaluation and extreme price increases.  It is not unusual for prices to go up 3 to 4x the starting price in less than a year.

And yet — they sing.  They worship.  They serve with great energy and passion.  They keep moving forward with the Gospel.  They are filled with joy and peace most of the time.  They struggle but do not focus on it.  They expect this life to be a struggle and live for the hope in Christ.

UNCERTAINTY HUMBLES ME — AND I FIND MOST OF THE TIME I STRUGGLE WITH BENDING MY KNEES AND TRUSTING IN MY GOD.  THANK GOD FOR HIS MERCY!

 

 

THE Essential of Disciple Making

In June I celebrated  the 46 year anniversary since my spiritual birth which God did at a conference of 85,000 people in Dallas TX — known as Explo 72.Picture1

I will use my story to seek to underline the ESSENTIAL and SIMPLE core of making disciples.  How did God take a teen who thought he was a Christian because he occasionally attended a church and change his life forever?

#1 — Bud and Peggy Pettigrew acted on what seemed like a good idea at the time to help the youth group in the church they attended in Tennessee, raise funds to go to a conference in Texas.  Out of that conference several of us became Christians and gave our lives to Jesus to “Come Help Change the World”.

#2 — About a month later two young adults, Esther Cowan and Billy McCoy,  made a 2 hour drive to encourage us with the Bible and prayer to go to a follow up conference for those who had attended Explo.  Several of the youth and leaders went and many of us began a consistent daily journey of walking with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I will stop here with these two examples.  As I have been giving thanks over what happened 46 years ago there are many, many more stories.

How do these actions focus us on the ESSENTIAL CORE of making disciples?

People who were Jesus followers:

  • Were aware God had entrusted them with some life changing truth in Jesus.
  • Opened letters and read about an opportunity to give what God had entrusted with them.
    • A letter sent in 1971 described a conference in Dallas and it became a dream, a goal burning in Bud and Peggy’s heart.
    • A letter sent in June 1972, right after the conference, contained the addresses of some of the Explo attendees.  It was delivered to the Campus Crusade workers asking them to make a visit.
  • Stepped out by faith, invested some of their time taking what God had given to them, and offered it to us. 
  • Filled with the love of Jesus, they planted seeds into the soil of others’ hearts.
  • God gave the growth!

Let’s not make disciple making too complex. Here are some questions to revisit continually as you go through a day.

What has God entrusted to me?  What can I say, “I cannot imagine facing life without this grace, this truth, THIS life I have received through Jesus.” NAME some of the specific blessings.

What is God doing around me right now?  What hearts has God given me some access to, some influence over, some opportunity, so I may offer to share what has given me life.

Ask God for the faith to step over any fear, the hope to endure, and the love of generous sacrifice to sow the seed.

Know that your God will give the growth.

You may or may not get to see the fruit that comes from your seed but sow it anyway.

It may not seem to be warmly valued and received in the moment but sow it anyway.

You may feel very uncertain where this step will lead to tomorrow but sow it anyway.

You may feel unqualified, and can think of others who would be better suited for the task, but sow it anyway.

SOW THE SEED GOD HAS GIVEN TO YOU AND LET HIM GIVE THE GROWTH! 

It is a glorious freeing, joyful and scary way to live but you will see the final result of the work of God, that included your small seed, when you are with Jesus.

I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS.

 

 

 

Do We Operate Out of Who God Declares Us to Be in Christ?

The life as a Jesus follower is a journey from being declared with right standing before God to experiencing the reality of our new identity in Christ.  Anxiety about the past failures, or the future unknowns, fear of the present challenges, a sense of weakness and uncertainty are all rooted in a lack of living in our identity in Christ.

Suggestion:  CLICK HERE AND DOWNLOAD A PDF.  This is a list of statements and Bible passages on Who We Are In Christ by John Stumbo.  Take the first statement.  Read the passage 3 times very slowly.  Then, in your journal record your answer to this question.  “If this truth was guiding my life today how would I see differently?”

Let me know your thoughts.  Let’s live out of what we believe in 2018!