Success Stories | Draft of Chapter 15 from "Biblical & Social Justice: What Is It?"



©2020 BRYAN HUDSON, D.Min.


CHAPTER 15
Success Stories

There have been many sobering discussions over the course of this book. I am aware that there is a general fatigue as a relates to discussions about race, injustice, and unpleasant aspects about history. There are times when people who are engaged in difficult conversations drop out. It's not unlike the old arcade games that would stop working and display the word “TILT” if the machine was jarred or jostled by a frustrated gamer. People often reach a point at which one does not want to hear "any more bad news." The hard fact is this: One person’s bad news is another persons daily reality.

As a pastor for four decades, I've lived on the edge of people’s pain, joys, sorrows, sicknesses, death, and even anger and disrespect directed towards me. Pastors, like all first responders, have a high threshold of handling bad news. Everyone in the business of serving people, must practice self-care. We see that Jesus took his own disciples aside to rest and eat. (Mark 6:31) David, the Psalmist, spoke about being led along “still waters” and causing the flock to lie down in “green pastures.” (Psalms 23)

We've taken on some difficult topics and have taken a hard look at some important issues in contemporary life and from history. Challenges and struggles have a fruitful side. Because our labors are never in vain, we sometimes get to see good outcomes. Following are a few stories that reflect good outcomes of social justice and good works born out of biblical justice which is God’s righteousness. 

Jesus Inside Prison Ministry

There's no organization closer to the front lines of the good and bad outcomes of civil justice than a prison ministry. The success story of Jesus inside Prison Ministry is well worth sharing.1 This ministry is one of the best examples of biblical justice working within a Christ-centered organization, resulting in the effective outworking of righteousness in social justice.

In Chapter Eight, we talked about incarceration, emotional trauma, and disturbing statistics regarding crime and African-Americans. Our criminal justice system is overburdened with cases and many of our prisons are overcrowded. The United States leads the world in the number of persons incarcerated. We’ve already addressed concerns about mass incarceration and sentencing.

There is another very important phase with the area of Corrections. That important phase is called re-entry. What happens with men and women when they finish serving their time and come back out into the world? The hope is that people will leave prison, forsake a life of crime, and become productive persons and taxpayers. This is the hope, but unfortunately the reality is much different. In the field of Corrections there is a word called recidivism. It is the phenomenon of people who leave prison that end up re-offending, being re-arrested, and charged with another crime. There's also something called the rate of recidivism which is represented as a percentage. In 2019 violent offenders recidivated at a rate of 63.8 percent compared to non-violent offenders who recidivated at a rate of 39.8 percent. That is an alarming rate of human failure. 2

One of the most remarkable stories in corrections is the work of Jesus Inside Prison Ministry and their aftercare facility called, Jesus House. This ministry was founded by a friend and colleague, Pastor William Bumphus 40 years ago from this writing. He turned to Christ while incarcerated and accepted a call to ministry. The success of the work can be objectively measured by one astounding metric. In a nation, where the rate of recidivism hovers between 45 and 70%, the Jesus Inside Prison Ministry aftercare program and facility called Jesus House has reduced the recidivism rate to 9 to 10% for men who complete their program.

In an interview with Pastor Bumphus, we discussed the causes of the high rate of recidivism. Two primary factors were cited: 1) A lack of safe housing for men leaving prison. Returning to the same neighborhood often becomes a trap, since it represents a return to the same environment that contributed to criminal behavior. 2) An unprepared mindset and lifestyle. Prison is a controlled environment in which inmates do not make many decisions for themselves. They are told when to wake, sleep, eat, work, go to the restroom, or go outdoors for recreation. Months and years of living in a controlled environment disables the ability to make quality decisions. Of course, some persons never developed good decision making, which is a reason that one ends up in prison.

Pastor Bumphus also explained that incarceration is not about reformation and rebuilding lives. It is about warehousing people for as long as their prison sentence has dictated. Making any improvement comes from the initiative of the prisoner himself. Most prisons have education programs such as GED which is a high school equivalent diploma. There are other programs in some prisons of which inmates may take advantage. Pastor Bumphus and his team have visited over 560 prisons in the USA and Africa. The ministry has distributed hundreds of thousands of Gospel books. He has eight books in print.

As measured by the success of reducing recidivism, the most effective program for reforming men released from prison is the model used by the Jesus inside Prison Ministry. Pastor Bumphus calls their methodology, “A strong discipleship program.” The objective is to help men complete their two year parole––which they call, “getting off paper.” As communicated by Pastor Bumphus, the specific features of their Jesus House discipleship program include:

1. Before release from prison, inmates must request an application to the Jesus House from the prison Chaplain. They do not accept men with backgrounds of sex crimes.

2. Inmates must indicate on the form that they are believers in Jesus Christ. Whether their confession is genuine or not, Pastor Bumphus states that their predisposition towards faith in Christ is an important first step. Everyone learns that the facility is 100% Christian. As a privately funded program, they are free to mandate biblical principles.

3. When “Returning Citizens” (the term they used rather than ex-offenders) are released from prison, they must come straight to the Jesus House to become a resident.

4. Residents don’t need to bring anything with them. Everything is provided including lodging, food, and clothing. This reduces concerns about needs and allows residents to focus on the program

5. Attendance to Bible study is required twice every weekday. Prayer is taught and practiced daily.

6. Sunday church attendance is mandatory. The philosophy is that men lived within a negative controlled environment in prison. Jesus House is also a positive controlled environment. Daily Bible study is necessary to help men change their mindsets through the biblical process of “renewing the mind.” And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2) Also during this time, if men entered Jesus House without a genuine conversion to Christ, the opportunity is presented during the discipleship period. As an authentic biblical ministry, the truths of the Word of God become real in the lives of men. One key Scripture is 2 Corinthians 5:17 that reads, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Another key scripture for discipleship is: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

7. Work is not mandatory, but guys who get jobs are asked to pay a nominal amount for weekly rent. The work schedule cannot interfere with Bible Study to Sunday church services.

8. Random drugs tests (called “drops”) are conducted by “Resident Directors,” who are men (usually former residents) who live at Jesus House to provide leadership and administration.

9. In addition to Bible Study, other teaching takes place such as biblical finance and personal development. Additionally, for guys who are ready, lessons on how to repair their credit and learn how to own real estate.

From my long experience with Jesus Inside Prison Ministry as a supporter, and a speaker from time to time, I have witnessed many changed lives. Hundreds of men have passed through the program. The vast majority have landed on their feet, becoming godly men, taxpayers, and productive citizens. Many have become business owners, excellent employees, leaders within other organizations, pastors, and more. Many men have been restored to their families. Others have become married and have started families. There have been some heartbreaking situations over the course of decades of service, but JIPM has been the best example effective ministry within a community. 

Freetown Village

History has been described as “His Story.” Freetown Village is a “living history” museum founded in 1982 based in Indianapolis.3 The mission is to educate the public about African American lives, arts, and culture in Indiana through living history, exhibits, allied programs, and the collection and preservation of artifacts. The Founding Director, Ophelia Wellington is an educator, historian, and story teller. Freetown Village portrays a fictional settlement (based on actual research) at Indianapolis in 1870. In the portrayals, faith in God was central to the community, consistent with narratives from that time. During the era called “Reconstruction” following the Civil War, Black people exercised their new freedoms and found their way forward. Given the evidence that Christianity was used to justify evils such as slavery and segregation, it is remarkable that African Americans managed to navigate around disingenuous religion to discover the genuine Christ. There is the mistaken view that Africans only discovered Christ when they were brought to America as slaves. As far back as the First Century, the African continent was touched by the message of the Gospel of Jesus as told in Acts 8:26-38.

Freetown Village has reached hundreds of thousands of people through performances before various audiences digital media, events, schools, and full stage plays. The Black history stories they portray show principles of biblical justice through the faith of the people as well as their concerns about civil justice as recently emancipated former slaves. This was the era when the 13th Amendment had been ratified, which did more than the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. The Constitutional amendment brought freedom to four million people. While Black people initially flourished as federal troops protected newly freed Americans in southern states, the white backlash was swift and brutal after the death of Abraham Lincoln. Vice President Andrew Johnson became president, who put the interests of former slave over newly freed Black people.

Freetown Village performances puts a sharp focus on the progress and positive dynamics of African American life during 1870. 

Tabernacle Presbyterian Church


(The information below is from the church website. www.tabpres.org)

In the heart of Indianapolis is a church that has exemplified the principles of biblical justice and social justice for more than 169 years.

Tabernacle Presbyterian Church was founded on September 23, 1851.4 The “tabernacle movement,” an international movement led by Charles Spurgeon at Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, was a strategy to reach and welcome unchurched people in urban areas through a less formal approach to worship as a means to make church more accessible. The church moved to its current site at the corner of 34th and Central in 1921. In 1924, the Tab Recreation program was established to meet the recreational and athletic needs of the children in the church and community. Tab was one of the first churches in the country to establish a recreation program as part of its outreach and ministry.

In 1961, the church integrated its ministry and programs during a time of racial division, prior to civil rights legislation. In 1965 a decision was taken to stay at its current location and not move out to the suburbs as many other churches begin to do at that time. With full recognition of the changes in the neighborhood, increasing racial tension and violence, the migration of church members, as well as many other churches and businesses moving to the suburbs, Tabernacle Presbyterian Church made the decision to stay in order to be “A force for Christ in the Heart of the City.”

In 2009 the church recommitted itself to continued ministry at its location by adopting a new mission statement:

“Tabernacle Presbyterian Church is called by God, led by faith in Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the Kingdom of God through worship, discipleship and outreach. Honoring our heritage at 34th and Central, we will faithfully serve our community, city and world in the present and prepare expectantly for the future.”5

Tabernacle Presbyterian Church has always been committed to a “two-legged Gospel,” a balance of evangelical witness from the pulpit and social involvement in the community. One without the other is insufficient in living out the whole Gospel. This was modeled in Jesus’ ministry, in His preaching/teaching, as well as His healing/feeding, His care for the body as well as the soul.

In 1994 the church provided land and resources to establish an independent health center called Raphael Health Center.6 The mission of Raphael (meaning “God Heals”) was to provide a community centered, quality, affordable health care and related services in order to improve the health status of neighborhood residents and lessen sickness.

The word “tabernacle” means “the dwelling place of God among His people.” Since 2007, Rev. L. John Gable has served as Senior Pastor. 

Multimedia in Focus Media Camp

Since the year 2000, Multimedia In Focus, comprised of a team of mentors, digital artists, and myself have been inspiring and educating youth in the area of the media arts.7 Having been educated in the media arts and instructional design (B.A. and M.S.) and working as a designer and producer for over 20 years (20 years ago), we recognized a void that needed to be filled. Reflecting on knowledge possessed today, we knew that media created a kind of injustice for young people. As a pastor and community leader (Th.B. and D.Min), we always look for ways to reach underserved populations and challenge any tide of injustice. We found that exposure to bad media influences, such as extreme violence or exploitation of women, caused negative effects. On the other hand, a void in understanding media and a lack of skills in using media created barriers for them. At that time we did not used the language of justice and injustice. We simply thought that something was “wrong” with the status quo.

The story of how we began to make a difference initiated with a conversation I had with a pastor friend. In that conversation, I complained about the negative effects of media on young people. At the time, I was leading a church, doing traditional youth ministry, and all the things that churches do. My professional media work was not something that was fully integrated into the church, even though we operated from the church and primarily served other churches as a non-profit service.

In the same moment that I complained to my friend about the negative impact of media on youth, it was as if the Lord said, “What are you going to do about that?” Looking back on that moment with today’s understanding, I can see that the God of Justice was concerned about youth and the unrighteous, unjust, impact of media on them. During the same conversation, I told my pastor friend what had happened in my heart and mind. I committed to start a training program for youth, not knowing how we would do it. Not soon after that decision we became aware of a funding opportunity by Lilly Endowment, based in Indianapolis, called the Summer Youth Program Fund (SYPF). We put our vision to empower youth in writing for a media arts summer day camp. To my surprise, we received funding with our first application. In 2001, we held off first six week media camp called Multimedia In Focus. We had about 10 youth to participate. We struggled to find enough computers, cameras, other equipment, and skilled teaching staff, but in the end it came together!

From 2001 to 2017, with exception of one year, we held the Multimedia In Focus Summer Media and Arts Camp with funding provided each year. For many of those years through 2019, we also held weekend single day events called “Mini Camps.” In addition to teaching youth how to do storytelling, produce videos, create various types of graphics–from 2D to animated 3D, and learn photography. We allowed our youth to use the same professional equipment that we used in our business. We reasoned that if we provided the best equipment and instruction, youth would give us the best work, and they did!

We invited media professionals to join us for “VisionTime” talks. Guests came from the fields of audio/video/animation production, recording engineers, news anchors from local television stations, reporters, photographers, visual artists, and educators from universities. We made trips to production houses and local universities allow young people to get a grasp on media degree programs. The training took place at our church and every day began with prayer. Again, looking back and applying today's understanding, we were doing social justice from the foundation of biblical justice. Over the past 20 years, many of those young people have become working professionals in many fields including media arts, documentary producers, music, accounting, education, and other fruitful careers unrelated to media. They not only learned about media production, they learned about team building, personal organization, respect for authority, and gained appreciation that God provides the gifts that we are responsible to use for His glory.

We had “Crew Members” from all walks of life and from various religions and non-religion, including Islam. We served a large number of so-called “at risk” youth. In our program we never saw a young person as “at risk,” we viewed them as “At Promise,” in the words of Dr. Victor Rios, professor of sociology at University of California, Santa Barbara. Multimedia In Focus was our expression of social justice.

Reflection Questions


1. Why does practicing biblical justice within our lives/churches produce social justice towards others?

2. What are some of my success stories?

3. What have I learned from social justices and righteous engagement with others?

4. Why is “at promise” better than “at risk?

___________________________

1 Jesus House. (2020). Jesus Inside Prison Ministry. https://www.jipm.org/jesus-house ↩︎
2 Recidivism Among Federal Violent Offenders. (2019). United States Sentencing Commission. https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/research-publications/2019/20190124RecidivismViolence.pdf ↩︎
3 Our Mission & History. (2020). Freetown Village. https://www.freetown.org ↩︎
4 The Tab Creation Story. (2020). Tabernacle Presbyterian Church. www.tabpres.org/ ↩︎
5 Ibid. ↩︎
6 About Raphael Health Center. (2020). Raphael Health Center. https://raphaelhc.org ↩︎
7 About Us. (2017). Multimedia In Focus. https://www.visionmultimedia.org/index.html ↩︎

Justice, What Is It? An Everyday Person's Guide to Understanding Justice and the Role of the Church (Book Introduction Draft)







NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Friends, welcome to this draft preview of my book project currently in progress. As a minister and community servant for 41 years, and an African American citizen of the United States for 63 years, we've come to a season where clarity and understanding are more important than ever. That need became clear when I found it necessary to apologize to one of my children after a discussion about dealing with racial ignorance on the job within the culture of a major corporation. 
My apology addressed the fact that their generation has to face the same ignorance and dissonance that we faced in my generation. It was my hope that my four children would come of age in a country that had outgrown foolish, ignorant, and racist mindsets. Before a reader says "Well Bryan, things are so much better today," allow me to state that our standards should be higher than settling for "better."  
This draft sample provided here will be publicly shared for a limited time to allow you to read and invite your comments. What you read here is by no means an indication of the full breath of the book. Remember this is a draft posted for a limited amount of time and errors may be present. 

Thank You and God Bless! 
Bryan Hudson



***DRAFT***

Justice, What Is It? An Everyday Person's Guide to Understanding Justice and the Role of the Church


©2020 Bryan Hudson, D.Min.


Introduction
(Listen to This Chapter Read by a Digital Voice)



The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:13–14, Everything exposed by the light is made visible, for what makes everything visible is light. Therefore, it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Justice is both a reality and a dream. It is a source of hope and of frustration. Justice, like a mountain, affords many perspectives depending upon which side one is viewing. 

For persons who are well-established in life, justice is a wall of protection. For persons struggling with obstacles or battling mistreatment, justice is a door through a wall. The appropriate interaction between biblical justice and civil justice is difficult to define. On one end is full separation between church and state. On the other end is extremist dominion theology or Christian nationalism that proposes full integration of the Christian church into the affairs of the state. 

Within a democratic republic such as the United States of America, there is a two centuries old tension between viewpoints and applications of justice. On balance, the nation has been well served by our Bill of Rights and Constitution. Freedom of religion has flourished under a philosophy of government that has not made the Bible our law. Christianity, the predominant faith in the nation, has not suppressed other religions such as Judaism, Islam, and variants of the orthodox historic Christian faith such as the Church of Latter Day Saints and Seventh Day Adventists. 

As a nation founded in rebellion to the King of England, George III, and the state Church of England, the Constitution has proved itself as a successful model of governance and foundation for civil justice— notwithstanding notable failures and gross injustices such as American slavery as well as the mistreatment of Native Americans in forced migration from their lands. 

What is not as clear is the success of the church as it relates to doing biblical justice. The terms “biblical justice” and “civil justice” will be highlighted throughout this book as separate, but complimentary concepts. There is also the term “social justice” which is controversial due to narratives, some intentionally false, that social justice is a rejection of the Word of God and an embrace of some form of Marxism. This is little more than guilt by association. This tactic is not unlike denigrating every form of the statement, “Black Lives Matter” when most of us are not talking about the organization, but the human reality, “Black lives matter.” For the purposes of this book, social justice will represent the practical application of biblical justice in society. 

The goal of this book is to bring light in challenging false narratives and educate by increasing understanding of both scriptural mandates as well as civil justice systems. It is also the aim of this book to bring matters related to racial minorities out of the historical shadows. 

About the writing style of this book

The title of this book is Justice, What Is It? An Everyday Person's Guide to Understanding Justice and the Role of the Church.The term "everyday person" is not intended to offend the status or intellect of any person. The intent is to present material in a manner that is useful and concise. The writing style is informal and conversational. Many resources have been read and researched. These are available in the bibliography of this book. 

There are two books I want to highly recommend as foundational to understanding justice and the role of the church. The role of the church in society has not been entirely positive and unfortunately has too often been highly detrimental to the cause of Christ and equal justice. 

The first book: White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert P Jones1

This is the most substantial and well researched book I've ever read on the subject of race, white supremacy, and the documented role of the church in North America. By it's honest telling of history, Robert P. Jones provides an immense level of hope for our future progress. No telling of American history or presentation of a “Christian worldview,” is complete without a resource such as this book. 

The other book: Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice by Eric Mason2

As an African-American pastor and scholar, Dr. Mason brings a high level of practical understanding and insight into how today's church can effectively serve God’s purposes and our communities. These two books have provided substantial insight through the research and documentation provided by the authors. 

In a world of opinions and low information, it is essential that we have a firm grasp of facts, both historical and contemporary. The best opinions and concepts are formed from deep understanding. There are portions of this book that are difficult to read. It is important to accept those portions, not as incentive for guilty feelings, but as food for thought and motivation for change. This book will present many insights and opinions, which I will offer as one man's perspective. I trust you will find these insights relevant, reliable, valid, and useful to your life and our times. I welcome reader perspectives and challenges to recommendations and points of view presented in this book.
"The Difficulty Lies Not So Much In Developing New Ideas As In Escaping From Old Ones."
           – John Maynard Keynes





©2020  Bryan Hudson

May 25, 2020 - George Floyd | Draft Chapter Eight from "Biblical & Social Justice: What Is It?"




©2020 BRYAN HUDSON, D.Min.

Listen to this article read by a digital voice


CHAPTER 8

May 25, 2020 ~ George Floyd 

"Racism is not getting worse, it's getting filmed.” ~ Will Smith

The slow, torturous killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 by police officer Derek Chauvin, was a nightmare for George Floyd, his family, and for anyone who later watched the video.

Floyd’s death was no less tragic than Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Terence Crutcher, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Oscar Grant, Freddie Gray, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Bettie Jones, Trayvon Martin, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and too many other people made in the image and likeness of God. These disrespected persons highlight the importance of the phrase, "Black lives matter." 

At the moment when this statement of human concern (not the promotion of an organization), should have received unanimous adoption, there were people saying, “No, ALL lives matter!” This is an intentional insult towards Black people and trivializing of unjust conditions that affect too many African Americans. We have the capacity to focus on people, nations, police officers, our military, government officials, and others. 
As Hurricane Sally tracked towards Mississippi and Louisiana in September 2020, prayers went out for the people and preparations were made. No one said, “all states matter.” A Facebook post highlighted the statement, “All lives matter” followed by a photograph of a MAGA Trump hat. Who matters? Willful ignorance and duplicity are among of the hypocrisies of our culture.

This was another backward triumph of small mindedness over the acknowledgment of facts and compassionate action. I have read discussions that moved entirely away from George Floyd’s murder toward discussions that Black Lives Matter was a marxist organization that organized all the riots. This is unhelpful at a time when working together is needed.

The Tragedy of Public Opinion

African Americans have long navigated through attitudes of persons whose pre-conceived notions inform reasoning that filter out logic, facts, and compassion. The excerpts below represent sentiments expressed in anonymous public forums like Facebook and Parlia.
1

George Floyd’s killing was justified - The role of the police is to prevent crime and to protect society from dangerous individuals. The police were responding to a call from a concerned shopkeeper when they dealt with George Floyd. While the situation might have spiraled out of control, Derek Chauvin was doing his job. Unfortunately, accidental deaths stemming from police intervention are part and parcel of American society. This is a necessary sacrifice for social stability and functioning democracy.”  (Author Note: The phrase “necessary sacrifice” justifies killing “dangerous” people? At the time of his death, Floyd was seven years removed from his time of incarceration. Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes was far from accidental.) 
George Floyd was a criminal - “George Floyd was a convicted criminal. He had spent five years in jail for robbery and assault, as well as facing court countless other times for crimes ranging from drug handling to theft with a firearm. He was not the innocent victim that mainstream media reports suggest. It is hardly surprising given this long criminal history, that he was treated with suspicion by police.”   
The black community has unleashed an anti-white campaign of violence - “Wherever you stand on whether George Floyd's murder was justified is irrelevant. The chaos that has unfolded in its wake is where we should be focusing our attention. Black communities have instigated an anti-white movement under the guise of 'equality and justice'. They are destroying (mostly) white businesses in nightly rampages that leave communities terrified and broken. At the heart of the riots is racist hatred towards whites, which is now playing out in this national campaign.”  (Author Note: This is not an uncommon racist false narrative that should be countered by persons in a position to do so.)

Of course, we do not overreact to anonymous commenters, but opinions such as these indicate a current flowing through the fabric of the citizenry of the United States. Disdain for Black people comes from well known factors such as bad child training, mis-education, cultures that foster disrespect, false narratives, and erroneous Christian doctrine, such as Black people being “cursed.” These factors shape the outlook of people, and the force of one’s training defines what is normal, until it is shown to be abnormal.

All the more reason for Christ Followers to stand up against injustice and practice the disciplines of biblical justice among themselves in order to empower social justice in our communities. It is no longer acceptable to simply believe that racism is wrong, we must become anti-racist. We must commit to change the culture, not just “lament.”

How to Change a Culture

An article from Harvard Business Review, Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate, was intended for business leaders, but it speaks to the larger culture of our communities and circles of influence.

But culture change can’t be achieved through top-down mandate. It lives in the collective hearts and habits of people and their shared perception of “how things are done around here.” Someone with authority can demand compliance, but they can’t dictate optimism, trust, conviction, or creativity.
The dominant culture and structure of today’s organizations are perfectly designed to produce their current behaviors and outcomes, regardless of whether those outcomes are the ones you want. If your hope is for individuals to act differently, it helps to change their surrounding conditions to be more supportive of the new behaviors, particularly when they are antithetical to the dominant culture.
At IDEO, we believe that the most significant change often comes through social movements, and that despite the differences between private enterprises and society, leaders can learn from how these initiators engage and mobilize the masses to institutionalize new societal norms.2

The writer suggests a company that desires to change its culture must challenge the “natural behaviors” by the “dominant culture.” The writer goes on to suggest that we should “Change their surrounding conditions to be more supportive of the new behaviors.”

Being Salt (Influence) and Light (Dispel Darkness)

The idea of changing conditions fits within the concept of influence and change articulated by Jesus,

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

Salt represents influence. Light dispels darkness. Before we can change the world (social justice), we must change ourselves (biblical justice). In too many ways, the failures we see in the larger society reflect failures on the part of those of us who should have been instrumental in bringing godly influence and light. As Jesus said, when the salt loses its flavor (or potency), it becomes “good for nothing.”

The deafening silence on the part of too many Christians in the wake of injustice, over many decades, is a reflection of a loss of focus on our responsibilities as influencers and light bearers. The phenomenon of “white fragility” prevents some persons from engaging on matters dealing with racial injustice,

In 2011, Robin DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” to describe the disbelieving defensiveness that some white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged—and particularly when they feel implicated in white supremacy. She writes, "It’s the defensive reactions so many white people have when our racial worldviews, positions, or advantages are questioned or challenged. For a lot of white people, just suggesting that being white has meaning will trigger a deep, defensive response. And that defensiveness serves to maintain both our comfort and our positions in a racially inequitable society from which we benefit."3 

The video of the public murder of George Floyd captivated the attention of the entire nation and world. It even moved the “silent majority” to speak up. Christianity Today reported on responses by Evangelical Christians in June, 2020. The messages were earnest, howbeit largely weak, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. As of this writing (October, 2020) it seems the moment has been lost to “business as usual.” What was missed was specific challenges to the culture of disdain and hatred against Black people. Those messages and responses included:4

"The church has a responsibility to denounce racism"
"The church should support peaceful protests occurring in response to Floyd’s killing"
"There are a couple of indications that pastors are 'as open as they’ve ever been'" (Some have never been open to addressing racism, so nothing has changed.)
"We need an honest conversation about race." (Actually, we don’t need another conversation. We need to be actively anti-racist)
"It is important for church leadership to publicly show support for people of color." (A better choice would be to condemn white supremacist attitudes and hold people accountable)
"Offer sermons that address political topics like 'race relations.'"
"Church leaders are going to have to 'lead with humility and with being connected to the thoughts and perceptions” of others.'"

As researcher Robert P. Jones pointed out, responses on the part of too many Evangelicals are often limited to “lament” without concrete action.

White Christians, and even my own childhood home denomination, are gradually beginning to face the bare fact that white supremacy has played a role in shaping American Christianity. But they have been too quick to see laments and apologies as the end, rather than the beginning, of a process. They also remain full of contradictions and too quickly avert their gaze when the weighty implications of history require concrete, sustained action in the present. (Robert P. Jones) 5

A Barna Research report confirmed the long-standing lack of recognition of that America’s history of slavery and racism has effects to the present day.

According to Barna data published last year, 42 percent of white Christians said they believe America’s history of slavery and racism continues to impact African Americans, and about 1 in 5 pastors (19%) across all ethnic groups said there’s nothing the church should do to respond to America’s history of racism.6

What is often missing with these studies is the recognition that the “effects” of slavery on Black people has nothing to do within the DNA or psyche
of Black folks (i.e. no “slave mentality”). The effect of America’s history of slavery and racism is largely seen in the attitudes and actions of too many White people towards Black people (as well as self-loathing by some Black people who publicly chastise one another). My life experience (as anecdotal evidence) shows that a lot of White people are oblivious to their own attitudes about Black people, until something happens like the video of George Floyd’s murder by a police officer or public protests that demand their attention. At that point, education (or mis-education) training, and pre-conceived notions inform one’s reactions. 

Today is the day to live the principles of biblical justice and practice social justice. Again, justice is doing righteousness.

That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:14-16)

Reflection Questions:

1. Why did George Floyd’s killing spark outrage like no other, besides the video footage?

2. What drives public opinion against Black people?

3. How can a culture be changed?

4. Why is there a pattern of concern about injustice/disrespect against African Americans rising and falling over time?

5. What Scriptural and social justice action can we employ to help in the above issue?

__________________

1 George Floyd’s murder was justified - Parlia. (2020). Parlia. https://www.parlia.com/a/george-floyds-murder-justified
2 Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate. (2017,). Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2017/06/changing-company-culture-requires-a-movement-not-a-mandate
3 Waldman, K. (2018, July 23). A Sociologist Examines the “White Fragility” That Prevents White Americans from Confronting Racism. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/a-sociologist-examines-the-white-fragility-that-prevents-white-americans-from-confronting-racism
4 Roach, D. (2020,). Most US Pastors Speak Out in Response to George Floyd’s Death. Christianity Today. https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/june/pastors-george-floyd-racism-church-barna-research.html
5 Jones, Robert P.. White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (pp. 53-54). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
6 Half of Practicing Christians Say History of Slavery Still Impacts the U.S. (2019). Barna Group. https://www.barna.com/research/slavery-still-impacts/


©2020 Bryan Hudson



Pray at All Times, On Every Occasion, In Every Season

 

Pray at all times—on every occasion, in every season—in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God's consecrated people).” Ephesians  6:18 Amplified (Also read  Timothy 2:1-4)


The Apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesians believers to pray with “all prayers" or "all manner of prayer." Prayer is certainly not a technical issue, so we don't have to fret about how we pray, so long as we are earnestly praying to God.

That said, it is helpful to examine and practice all types prayers so that we may  be more focused and motivated to pray. The scriptures show various types of prayers. Below is brief overview of common types of prayer.

1. Prayer of supplication. 1 Kings 8: 37-40, 54 - 55, Luke 11: 9 - 13, James 5: 17-18
Supplication is a specific request. Theses three scriptures show people were seeking (or asked to seek) for something specific. When you know what is needed, you can offer a prayer of supplication.

2. Prayer of intercession. Genesis 18: 22-33 (Abraham) 1 Kings 18: 41-46 (Elijah) 2 Kings 4: 32-36 (Elisha) Acts 12:1-18 (The early church)
To intercede means to plead or mediate on behalf of another person. Jesus intercedes for us (Hebrews 7: 25). The Holy Spirit prays for us and through us as we pray in the Spirit (Romans 8: 26 - 27).

When we pray earnestly for other people, we enter into the realm of intercession, in which we present people and their needs to God. There is also a dimension to intercession where we "stand in the gap" for people for special blessing or protection. (Eze. 22:30)

3. Prayer of faith. Mark 11:12-14, Mark 11:20-25, Luke 7: 1-10, James 5:13-18, Matthew 9:18-26
The prayer of faith is a supernaturally confident type of prayer, that is absent of doubt. The woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9) knew that touching Jesus would get her healed. Her faith gave her the strength to press through the crowd. Strong faith and boldness accompany the prayer of faith. This manner of faith releases special blessings and miracles.

4. Prayer of agreement.  Genesis 11:1-9, Matthew 18: 19-20, Exodus 17: 8-13, Psalm 133: 1-3, Acts 4:23, Hebrews 10: 24-25
The prayer of agreement occurs when two or a few people come together (the fewer the better), in agreement with one another and with the Word of God on something God wants to do. The prayer of agreement is connected the authority of God has vested in His church. Prayers of agreement can multiply the effects of God blessings beyond what one can do by oneself.

5. Prayer of praise, worship and thanksgivingPsalm 100, Acts 16:16-34, Psalm 149:4-9
Praise, worship and thanksgiving can be a form a prayer that brings us into the presence of God. When we praise and thank God, we are affirming our faith in Him. This pleases God and helps our faith. Praise and thanksgiving disarm two of the most deadly enemies to our Christian walk, doubt and fear. No wonder the scriptures call praise a two edged sword (Psalm 149: 4-9)

6. Prayer of Dedication. 1 Kings 8:62-64, Mark 14:36, Acts 7:59, 9:6, 13:3, 14:23
The prayer of dedication is used to consecrate or dedicate someone or something to God. In the Old Testament, priests, altars, and tabernacles were dedicated by prayer. In the New Testament, Jesus and others dedicated (or ordained) disciples, apostles, elders deacons to the work of God.

Rebellion: What Is It? Is it Always Wrong?




LESSON NOTES
Isaiah 30:1 “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, That they may add sin to sin;

Proverbs 18:1, A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.

The simple definition of rebellion is: “The action or process of resisting authority...”

Rebellion is a major program in every area of life and society. There are also instances were rebellion is warranted. We'll touch on that later.

Rebellion is an artifact of human nature. It naturally occurs in all people, including you and me. In fact, we were born with rebellious tendencies because people are born and shaped in iniquity.  

Psalm 51:5, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
One of the most important features of child training is to check the rebellious spirit. A child who's allowed to be rebellious will grow up as a rebellious adult. A child who grows up resisting the guidance and authority of his parents will become an adult carrying that same attribute. Rebellious people always wind up in trouble or worse.

Some quotes on rebellion:
“A creature revolting against a creator is revolting against the source of his own powers–including even his power to revolt. It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower.”  C.S. Lewis
“For there is no one so great or mighty that he can avoid the misery that will rise up against him when he resists and strives against God.”  John Calvin
“The beginning of men’s rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart.” Francis Schaeffer

The Bible is very clear about rebellion.
1 Samuel 15:23, For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king. (Speaking to Saul who defied the instructions of the prophet Samuel)
Divination or witchcraft is wicked because it entertains spirits other than the Spirit of God. Presumption is assuming something as true when it is not. Presumption is self-deception.
These behaviors reject the word and instructions of God.

Proverbs 17:11, Evil people are eager for rebellion, but they will be severely punished.

Romans 13:1-2 Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. (This is also used in wrong ways)

In our country, peaceful protest is acceptable. However, rioting is illegal and destructive. It is clearly rebellious and it undermines credibility and achieving justice.

Dr. King and the people of the Civil Rights were correct in their approach. They practiced "civil disobedience" which many called rebellion. They were not rebellious because they remained submitted to authority in other areas of their lives.

There is the story of a wife who was married to an unsaved man. He told her that she could not go to Wednesday evening Bible Study, and that if she went he would lock her out of the house. She went and he locked her out. She came home. When he opened the door the next morning, she fell in because she fell asleep sitting against the door.  She got up, said "good morning" and asked him what he wanted for breakfast.

Notice she rebelled against him telling her that she could not go to church, but she remained submitted as a wife. The man got saved and became the great evangelist named Smith Wigglesworth.

A rebellious person is consistently out of order in their lives, not submitted to authority, and not accountable to anyone but themselves. A lack of accountability and being answerable is the soil of a rebellious spirit.

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

Isaiah 63:10 But they rebelled against him and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he became their enemy and fought against them.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Hebrews 12:5-6  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

You have a duty to rebel against ungodly authority like Hezekiah.
2 Kings 18:1, Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign.  4 He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. 5 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. 6 For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. 7 The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And HE REBELLED against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. 8 He subdued the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.