Some Great Advice

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Mark 6:31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

This morning I thought about some of the advice I have received over the years. We all enjoy great tips and insights that are simple, but profound.

One great bit of advice I received came in a ministers' conference meeting. The speaker set up what he wanted to say by promising to share a secret with us.  Then he gave us the secret:

"Get some rest and you will hear from God."

Rest does wonders for your spirit, soul, and body. Whether that rest is nightly, or weekly personal Sabbath day, or a vacation where you actually "vacate."

Even Jesus saw the need to pull his disciples aside for some rest and quiet. He still sees that need in us.

There is also the daily principle of "resting in the Lord." (Heb. 4:3) This is where we trust God to empower us moment by moment. I once heard a person define this type of rest as, "Using the power of another."

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African American Males in Authentic Context

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Author Note: This article has been re-published in light of recent concerns about African American males as well as an emphasis on problems related to black people. There are also racial profiling concerns rising from the case of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

It was originally published February 21, 2013

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As it concerns African-Americans, and African-American males in particular (of which I am one), there are a lot of assumptions and stereotypes that shape the public's perceptions of black males. These assumptions about the group usually garner more interest and attention than learning about the individuals, apart from group identity.

Black males seem to be taken more as a monolith than most other ethnic groups of people. Not even the 44th President of the United States is beyond inclusion in these perceptions––and not all the perceptions are negative. There seems to be more of a willingness to review statistical studies on negative trends regarding black males, than to focus on individuals whose experiences are usually at odds with the statistics.

As Christians, we deal with individuals in a manner consistent with the theology of personal redemption. When we draw conclusions about an ethnic group, such as African American males, we tread on the shaky ground of group identity and stereotypical viewpoints such as, "Black males are _____________"

There seems to be an ethos in American culture that is comfortable with classifying people groups, more than getting to know individuals. This ethos is also sometimes reflected in the church.

I remember being one of a relatively few number of African Americans present at a Promise Keepers event, where the emphasis was racial reconciliation. The white guys were told that they needed to apologize to the black guys as representative of historic sins and mistreatment. While they got the historical part right, the solution was wrongheaded. A bunch of white guys in my section of a football stadium, whom I did not know, descended on me because I was black to offer their apologies, to ask my forgiveness and to get a “redemptive” hug. Of course I complied, even against my sense of reason and decorum. If I had refused, that would have put them (and myself!) in an awkward situation. So I became the object of their catharsis. In that moment, I did not want to be there. I did not need to be there. I was not interested in being the “BLACK GUY” who assuaged the guilt or filled the needs of white folk. (This same principle would apply regardless of race and ethnicity). I don't want my race to be a reason for my presence or utility. This was not the first occasion of an experience such as this. Many black folks are very familiar with this scenario.

This end of the spectrum can be described as, "I-need-you-because-you-are-black.”

That said, I’ve had many other experiences where relations with whites and others were normal, authentic, and where my race was not a factor. There are minorities who are comfortable being ethnically identified and are pleased to fulfill their role in representing diversity, but this should not be assumed of all minorities. Many of us hardly think of ourselves as “minorities,” which is only a status related to population, location, or a state of mind. 

The other end of this spectrum is best described as follows:

The liberal notion that more government programs can solve racial problems is simplistic—precisely because it focuses solely on the economic dimension. And the conservative idea that what is needed is a change in the moral behavior of poor black urban dwellers (especially poor black men, who, they say, should stay married, support their children, and stop committing so much crime) highlights immoral actions while ignoring public responsibility for the immoral circumstances that haunt our fellow citizens. The common denominator of these views of race is that each still sees black people as “problem people,” in the words of Dorothy I. Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women, rather than as fellow American citizens with problems. Her words echo the poignant “un-asked question” of W. E. B. Du Bois, who, in The Souls of Black Folk (1903), wrote:

They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then instead of saying directly, "How does it feel to be a problem?" They say, "I know an excellent colored man in my town.…" Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.

Nearly a century later, we confine discussions about race in America to the “problems” black people pose for whites rather than consider what this way of viewing black people reveals about us as a nation. This paralyzing framework encourages liberals to relieve their guilty consciences by supporting public funds directed at “the problems”; but at the same time, reluctant to exercise principled criticism of black people, liberals deny them the freedom to err. Similarly, conservatives blame the “problems” on black people themselves—and thereby render black social misery invisible or unworthy of public attention. Hence, for liberals, black people are to be “included” and “integrated” into “our” society and culture, while for conservatives they are to be “well behaved” and “worthy of acceptance” by “our” way of life. Both fail to see that the presence and predicaments of black people are neither additions to nor defections from American life, but rather constitutive elements of that life.

To engage in a serious discussion of race in America, we must begin not with the problems of black people but with the flaws of American society—flaws rooted in historic inequalities and longstanding cultural stereotypes. How we set up the terms for discussing racial issues shapes our perception and response to these issues. As long as black people are viewed as a “them,” the burden falls on blacks to do all the “cultural” and “moral” work necessary for healthy race relations. The implication is that only certain Americans can define what it means to be American—and the rest must simply “fit in."

(From Race Matters by Dr. Cornell West, Page 2)

This end of the spectrum can be described as "What's-wrong-with-black-people?”

African Americans as “problem people" is a long standing perception. It is a stereotype reinforced in the echo chambers of the news media, public service organizations, politics, and among some Christian organizations.

It is true that a great number of black males struggle in one way or another, but their spiritual struggles owe nothing to their blackness or maleness. These males who struggle drive downward the averages of statistical studies representing all black men. There are men who struggle in less statistically significant, but more impactful, ways. For example, the systemic greed of some white men on Wall Street resulted in the 2008 collapse of our national, and world, economy. However, we do not assign this behavior to white males using the same standard of concern applied to black males. We rightly reflect on the great work of white men in America and in the church.

The error in this approach of reasoning is that we ignore the individual work and accomplishments of motivated, hard-working, successful, and high achieving African American males, who have emerged from the same circumstances, schools, and neighborhoods as their struggling counterparts. Statistics and metrics cannot define individual success. This data can only marginalize and diminish members of a group whose statistics may lag behind others.

I see the motivation and the “success-against-all-odds” demonstrated by black males all the time! Why do we not focus on these successful black males? Why are they not celebrated? It seems to me that one would learn more talking to African Americans who have succeeded. We are more focused mainly on negative factors related to race and ethnicity, and especially of black males. Much of the focus on the struggles of black males, rather than the successes, provides a basis for funding studies and programs. (Read the thought provoking article, "Who Gets the Money?"). We already know the negative forces and factors that adversely affect "at risk" people––and they are not all black folks or poor folks in urban settings. 

The best solution is to serve everyone, all the time! We should work hardest where we live and are vested. We must love and serve our “neighbors” as Jesus instructed us. We are our “brothers’ keeper.”

When race and ethnicity issues need to be addressed, let the elders and leaders in a given culture lead the way. Everyone else should follow and support. This is the reality in almost every other culture from Native American, to Jewish American, to Latino American. Should a study of African Americans or black males be conducted without the blessing and guidance of people within the community, especially the elders? A published study that reports on the nature and character of a people needs the moral authority afforded by engagement with stakeholders, participants, and their cultural fathers/mothers.

If one wanted to understand the effects of space travel on the human body, the people who can best provide an accurate perspective are those who have traveled into space, and those responsible for space travel. No amount of research by an urban dweller, such as myself, could rival the insights and conclusions of space travelers reporting on space travelers.

It seems that divine justice requires an approach to interpersonal and intercultural understanding that places a premium on learning about individuals, not groups, and that insists on authentic contexts.

Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.

~ Rev. Bryan Hudson. Th.B., B.S., M.S.


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Living on Purpose

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 Bryan Hudson 1 Comments

Ephesians 5:17(Message), "Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants." 

People are motivated by a lot of conditions, forces, and philosophies. We are all driven by something.

Like a hot air balloon, too many people can only find direction by riding the current "hottest" thing or going where ever the winds of society take them. Even the great Boeing 747 airplane cannot take off or turn quickly.

Living on purpose looks less like a hot air balloon or a huge jet liner, and more like a F22 Raptor fighter jet. F22 pilots live on purpose, flying in a machine that can go anywhere at supersonic speed, perform any maneuver or challenge any opponent.

Living on purpose gives meaning to your life.
Living on purpose simplifies your life.
Living on purpose focuses your life

Don't be carried away by the conditions, forces, and philosophies of this world. Daily decide to follow Christ and follow your own heart. LIVE ON PURPOSE!

John 15:16 (NKJV), You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

1 Peter 4:10-11, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God... If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ...”

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The Best Freedom

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

There are two very powerful forces at work in this world and in your life. The first force or "bad law" is what the Apostle Paul called the "law of sin and death."

Like gravity, the law of sin and death,  introduced into the earth by Adam,  affects everyone. This is a law, or principle, that no one can escape or overcome in one's own strength. Even "nice" people have sinned and  experienced a spiritual death.

The second powerful force or "good law" at work in the earth is what the Apostle Paul called "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ." This force, power, or principle is something that God had to introduce into the earth through Jesus Christ to counteract the law of sin and death.

As the wording suggests, this law is all about life. It's all about Jesus Christ. It's all about freedom. It is a kind of freedom for a person's spirit, soul and body are that can come no other way.

Read Roman's Chapter eight to learn more.

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Who Receives Your Finest?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Leviticus 2:1 When anyone brings a grain offering to the LORD, their offering is to be of the finest flour. 
v. 4 If you bring a grain offering baked in an oven, it is to consist of the finest flour:
v. 5 If your grain offering is prepared on a griddle, it is to be made of the finest flour mixed with oil, and without yeast.

Leviticus  3:1 If your offering is a fellowship offering…you are to present before the LORD an animal without defect. 

Exodus 25:2, Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.

2 Corinthians 9:7, So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

People are often misinformed about offerings and sacrifices. An offering is not a "leftover" or whatever you may have on hand at the time of giving. A sacrifice is not forcing yourself to give something that you would not otherwise give.

An offering to the Lord is a pre-planned participation in His plan and purpose. The idea is to bring God your "finest" or best. A sacrifice is a substantial offering of something personally important made willingly and joyfully.

People who love the Lord in "deed and truth" always strive to honor Him with the best of their time, treasure and talents. How can we do anything less for our Father, Creator, Savior, and Giver of life?

Participation with God's purposes brings tremendous blessing and inward satisfaction!

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The Problem with "Nice" People

Thursday, February 02, 2012 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Matthew 21:28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.

The moral to this story is a lesson for us to remember: Always end up at the right place.

The world, and the church, is full of people who make promises and commitments, but who end up doing nothing. Like the second son in this story, "nice" people often want to outwardly impress, yet their words and commitments are empty. Like the first son, it is better for people to be honest, and then willing to change when God brings conviction.

We have enough "nice" people who do nothing. I'd rather deal with an honest "hard-headed" person who does not deceive himself, changes his heart, and ends up at the right place.

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