Tag Archives: Christianity

Where Division Begins and Ends

I watched the children at their play
Left to their own devices
Selfishness and pride ruled the day
They seemed to forget what nice is

I saw the ones who had no toys
Longingly eye the others
The rich, the privileged girls and boys
Ignored by their busy mothers

On each small innocent face
I saw a measure of pain
What they needed was a helping of grace
So abundant love might reign

The poor kids think they’re missing out
The rich kids equate love with things
What both need I have no doubt
Is the love of the King of kings

But who will teach them how to love
And receive love in return
You and I must show grace from above
To create peace for which we all yearn

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Assumptions of Bias

During the past week watching the news and reading Facebook posts about the violence and racial tensions in this country, I was struck by the assumptions made by some who protested the loudest. One such assumption—a  statement I read more than once—was that white people are afraid of the big black man, and that’s the problem.

I would argue that this assumption contributes to the problem of racial tension and is not true because it is an over generalization. All white people cannot be lumped into one set of beliefs or viewpoints any more than all black people can. Many white people, as well as many black people, would prefer to be part of the solution.

As I pondered all of this, I was reminded of something that happened to me just a month or so ago. We were having mandatory “Implicit Bias” training at work. It’s not the first time we’ve had this training, but this time something happened that made me think about how sometimes our assumptions about implicit bias can be part of the problem. We focus on and assume bias where diversity and camaraderie might flourish if we didn’t try so hard to see the negative.

The presenter was talking about the online Harvard Implicit Bias Project tests. I’ve taken several of these tests before so I raised my hand to offer my unique experience.

“I’ve taken the race Implicit Bias test three times,” I said, “and each time it has revealed I have a strong preference for African Americans. I have no explanation for why that is because I really only know a few African Americans.”

The presenter thanked me for chiming in and started talking about how we don’t always know where these biases come from. Then she said,” That was very brave of you to admit that.”

”Wait,” I replied, “I think you misunderstood me. Why would it be brave for me to say I had a bias in favor of, strongly in favor of, blacks?”

“Oh,” she said,” you said against.”

My boss, who was sitting at the same table as me, replied,” No she didn’t, she said in favor of.”

Later I talked to several people who were on the other side of the room and they all said they clearly heard me say what I actually said. But the presenter—who spends much her time talking, thinking, and studying about implicit bias—heard what she assumed any white woman would say, that she was biased against blacks.

I share this because I think it is so important not to assume we know what others think about difficult issues like this. We have to stop making broad general assumptions about whole groups of people whose only thing in common might be the color of their skin. Human beings—and each individual human being—is so much more complex than that.

The second presenter at this training had commented at the beginning that we didn’t need to talk about religion or spirituality, because that isn’t really very important for people in Oregon. I found this comment odd because it was another inaccurate assumption. For me, my faith is very important and it is the teachings of Jesus that inform much of my belief about others. It is my understanding that we are all created in God’s image, no matter what color our skin, that helps me in dealing with and accepting those who are different from me.

D.C. Talk does a great song called Colored People that I want to end with. I’m linking to YouTube because often embedded videos don’t work on this free blog. I encourage you to follow the link and give it a listen.

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Seeking Truth

Words matter. Our choice of words, whether speaking or writing, makes a difference.

And words have meaning. That’s what dictionaries are for—to tell us what words mean. When we try to use words to mean something other than what they really mean, it causes confusion.

Sometimes people do this on purpose. One such misuse of a word that I have encountered lately is the use of the word “true” to substitute for “believe.” A person will say “such and such is true for me” when what they really mean is “I believe such and such.”

According to the dictionary, the word “true” means “being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact.” Truth is not relative and is not affected by what any one person believes. Truth is external, and belief is internal, in origin.

Many years ago, when I was suffering from major clinical depression, there were a number of things I believed about myself. I believed I would always be depressed based on how long I had been depressed already and my doctor telling me I would always have bouts of major depression for the rest of my life. I also believed I would never be able to hold down a full-time job. I believed no one liked me and that I was worthless. In the parlance of relativism, these things were true for me.

But they weren’t true. They aren’t true and they never were, no matter how deeply I believed them.

And trust me, I deeply believed these things about myself.

But here I am, 18 years later, and I haven’t had a bout of major depression since God showed me how to be free. I’ve had the same good-paying full-time job for almost 12 years, and I had a different full-time job that paved the way for this one for 5 1/2 years before that. On top of my full-time job, I’m actively involved in my church and Bible Study Fellowship, have self-published two poetry books, and take care of my family. And I have a lot of friends, people who like me (and some who even love me).

As I look back over the past 20 years, I see God’s hand in my life, lifting me up and leading me to see the truth. I believe that. But it’s not my belief that makes it true. In fact, I could be dead wrong, but I don’t believe I am.

Whether God is real and cares about His creation enough to do all I believe He has for us is either true or not. It can’t be true for me and not for you, or vice versa. Truth is. As humans, our greatest purpose is to seek the truth. To say that truth is relative—that what is objectively true for me is different from what is objectively true for you—negates that essential human drive to know truth, to know our Creator, to know where we come from, and to know our reason for being.

At any rate, that’s what I believe.

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Choices

Life is a series of choices

Some seem insignificant
but have life-changing impact

Others we agonize over
but are insignificant
in the grand scheme of things

Some choices
appear to be the only option
We can’t see the consequences to come
or alternatives before us

I’ve spent many long hours
pondering the” what ifs” of choices
that turned out bad.
If only I hadn’t…
then maybe everything would be better.

But ultimately
there is but one choice that truly matters
It is a choice we all face

Do I trust God or do I go it alone?

All is not rainbows and roses
if one chooses to trust
Hardship and regret don’t instantly
melt away

Life is still a series of choices
including the choice
to trust God with my mistakes

Including the choice
to share my story
my series of choices
with the world
in the hopes of encouraging another

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I’m a Finalist!

I’m so excited! One of my poems is one of three finalists in the Published Poetry category of the Cascade Writing Contest put on by Oregon Christian Writers. I entered three poems as individual entries. I look forward to receiving the feedback on all three, but am also looking forward to the Oregon Christian Writers Conference in August when I will find out if I win.

The poem that is a finalist was published on this blog and is titled The Philosophy of Choice. The other two that I entered were more overtly “Christian” but this is the one that made it through to the final round. This supports what I’ve been learning lately about my writing—when I write honestly from the heart about hard subjects, people respond.

And a special thanks to Brian Miller, whose prompt led to the writing of this poem.

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Heaven

All things new, peace abounds
Singing is an awesome sound
The glory of our God is great
Every need of mine He’ll sate

River of life eternal flows
Tree of life beside it grows
No more sorrow, no more pain
Calf beside the lion has lain

Seraphim and cherubim fly
Nevermore will anyone die
Heaven is a most wonderful place
Promised to all by Jesus’s grace
______

Last night with my BSF class of 4th & 5th graders, we drew or wrote our visions of heaven. Since my drawing skills don’t go much beyond stick figures I decided to write this poem.

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Nothin’ But the Blood – An Elfje

Crimson
Jesus’ blood
Trustworthy and true
Mercy to my soul
Salvation

_____________________________

A little elfje for NaPoWriMo Day 15, and while you’re at it check out Jars of Clay and The Blind Boys of Alabama singing Nothin’ But the Blood of Jesus.

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My Soul Feels Peace

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My soul feels lean
flying bird by bird
like I’m falling up
or whistling in the dark

Yet walking with God day by day
under the banner of heaven
I still believe
in peace like a river

_______________________________

The prompt at NaPoWriMo today is to write a “book spine” poem, or what I’ve always heard called a stack poem. They are fun to “write” and do require a little creativity. Someday I’m going to do this in a bookstore or library where the titles to choose from are endless, but for today I pulled from my own little library. (As I was thinking about writing this, it occurred to me that as more and more people read on Kindles and other e-readers, the stack poem may become a thing of the past, but hopefully not for a long, long time.)

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The Wild Blue Yonder

Today the sun is shining bright
The sky is cerulean blue
Spring flowers bloom ev’rywhere

I see that God is ev’rywhere
Because of His countenance bright
My spirit is sunny, not blue

Honesty of the heavens blue
Reveals God’s mercy ev’rywhere
Hope of a future so bright

Yonder bright, deepest blue is ev’rywhere

______________________________________

The NaPoWriMo optional prompt today is to write a Tritina, which is like half a Sestina. Well, I love the Sestina, but writing one can take the better part of a day or two. The Tritina is much more manageable.

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Celebrate Christ Is Risen

Yesterday in despair we wept
Friday last the veil was riven
Oh to know His promises kept
Celebrate that Christ has risen

Today Christ has risen indeed
Grace and mercy to us given
Because we know our deepest need
Celebrate that Christ has risen

Jesus who’s called Faithful and True
Celebrates that we’re forgiven
By His wounds we have life anew
Hallelujah Christ is risen

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