Monday, August 22, 2016

Can Dallas Be A Turning Point? - Part 3

Apologies for the delay in getting to part 3.  I've been dealing with some health issues.  To a degree, I still am.  But I also don't want to delay this part of the series any longer than absolutely necessary.  So, here we go.  As with the rest of the series, there's our exposed mango tree at the top.  And that's probably a good place to start.

Hugh Welchel's transcribed sermon brings out some interesting points.  But let's set a few guidelines, first.  There are certain realities that have to be foundational to any discussion like this. Particularly when they touch on reality.

  1. You, I, or anyone else can't possibly be responsible for events that occurred before we or our ancestors were on the playing field.  No matter how much our anger would like an easy target.
  2. Even if we could place blame on someone living today, that doesn't solve some real problems created in the past.  The past is unchangeable, but the future isn't.
  3. If we live in our anger, we're only going to hear what we think is being said instead of having real dialogue.  That solves nothing.
  4. Until we actually talk and listen to each other, any solutions will be by sheer chance.
  5. Despite any real or imagined reasons for all that pent up anger, there are some of us whose goal is to make things better.  So, we're looking for real dialogue.  Which may include some arguing and shoutinbg in disagreement.  But mutual respect can and will keep that discussion moving forward.
Since the Dallas shootings, there have been riots, statements to the media, and the Olympics. Some of that speaks directly to some of the issues at hand.  Let's look at a couple:
  • A gentleman involved in the rioting in Milwaukee has suggested that the root cause was white people not giving them monetary handouts.  I'm reminded of the National Park Service telling visitors not to give the animals handouts because the animals will never learn to fend for themselves.  That same principle applies to people, as well.  And, when the handouts dry up, there's been no learning process how to fend for themselves.  And they're as bad off or worse than when they started being given handouts.
  • Simone Manuel tied for the gold medal in one of her swimming events.  At which point, one of the broadcast announcers suggested her look of shock was because she was an African American swimmer who qualified for a gold medal.  That's just plain stupid.  Miss Manuel had been ranked 15th in a previous Olympics.  If her mindset centered around race, she'd still be 15th (or, perhaps, worse).  That kind of thinking negates the four years of hard work at training to become better than she had been.  Simone gave credit to God for her success. As a Christian, we tend to downplay what we put into it.  And, as a human being, we tend to surprise ourselves.  Yes, Simone Manuel now becomes an example of the possibilities for other African Americans, but as a human being willing to put in the time and effort to get there, not just as an African American.
With those thoughts in mind, let's get back to Hugh Welchel's sermon.  He makes some interesting points about the parable of the Talents.  We'll discuss them in this post.  But, if you want to read the original, that's HERE.

  1. It's clear in the parable that work is rewarded, slothfulness is not.
  2. Hugh points out that we are given everything we need to fulfill our call.  A call as seen by God, not our own distorted perception.  Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
  3. Finally, we're accountable for what we do with our time and talents.
That last point is important.  It says we're accountable for our own thoughts and actions.  Not those of some imaginary ancestor, not those of our parents, not those of our associates.  Just ours.  Yes, we have ways of making mistakes and becoming in need of an occasional  assist.  But we're not intended to live off handouts.

Do we  want Matthew 14:31  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"?  Or are we looking for Matthew 25:21  His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'?  The choice is ours.

In closing, Pastor Allkan Leitner had this to say, in a recent morning dwevotional:

I'm looking at this amazing passage this morning and marveling. The three phrases in the middle all start with a verb in the Hebrew... 
Bless LORD
Lift LORD 
Face and countenance are the same Hebrew word. The word is Paniym (Strongs H6440) and it is plural. The many facial expressions of God all shine grace. When His face is lifted toward us we have peace. We sense Him looking at us and we have peace. The LORD who blesses also keeps. 
God wants His 'name' to be upon His people. 
How do we bless people? Is it by making comparison? Is it by giving? Is it by remembering? Is kindness, as wonderful as it is, the same as blessing? 
God told Aaron to say this as a blessing and it is a profound blessing outside of man and his or her doings. 
Bless LORD and keep
Make Your divine face to shine in graciousness on us
Lift Your divine face on us and we will have Shalom

Isn't that how we want it to be?  Our life and work blessed by God's countenance?

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