The Beauty & Power of Expectation

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

There is something beautiful and powerful about expectation! There is also something wonderful in knowing who you are in God. In this text, Paul reminds us that nothing in this present world can be compared to the "glory" or God's character/power/presence that is within us. Said another way, "Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

In Romans 8:19, Paul uses a wonderful word for "earnest expectation" (apokaradokia). It describes the attitude of a man who scans the horizon with head thrust forward, eagerly searching the distance for the first signs of the break of dawn.

When you face challenges in life or need fresh direction, having hope and expectation are especially important. God designed us to dream and to see realities greater than our present circumstances. This is part of what it means to be made in God's "image and likeness."

All of creation, including ourselves, are experiencing the beauty and power of expectation! We are leaning forward, pressing into brighter days and possibilities. God is revealing His sons and daughters to this world as agents of change and redemption through Jesus Christ!

Expect it! Live in it! Reveal the glory!

Below is an excerpt from a poem by Maya Angelou, On the Pulse of the Morning:

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day

Subscribe to the Firm Foundation Podcast to hear message on "The Beauty and Power of Expectation"


Ten Suggestions For Better Race Relations and Less Black Stereotyping

Saturday, July 27, 2013 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Every few years, the subject of race, and black-white racial concerns in particular, come into focus and debate in the United States.

People seem to either feel indignation or are dismissive of racial concerns. For some, a sense of indignation stems from perceived or real slights and injustices which are too often racial in nature, to varying degrees. Those who are dismissive do not believe that race could be a significant factor in 21st century America, and therefore conclude that race issues are manufactured, or caused by the same people (Uusually African Americans) who express grievance based on slights and injustices experienced. Still others have a posture of trying to hover "above the fray" regarding all things racial and ethnic--displaying a kind of racial utopian worldview. 

Whether one is Indignant, Dismissive, Utopian, or something else, race in America can never be ignored because racial factors are part of the fabric of our nation. Many of our national symbols carry the Latin statement, E Pluribus Unum, meaning "Out of many, one." This national fabric was woven by the Founders and by the decisions and actions of early Americans. We have a strong constitutional foundation. Good and bad threads comprise our social fabric, and there is no denying history or the effects of history on every generation. What we need to do is continue to better ourselves. We need to weave new and better fabric, in order to change "future" history.

Of the three states: Indignant, Dismissive, and Utopian, history has proved that indignation is the most useful catalyst to social change. (On a different level, spiritual awakening and revival brings moral change to the heart) From the Declaration of Independence in 1776, to anti-slavery abolitionists, to the Underground Railroad, to the woman's suffrage (voting rights) movement, to the civil rights movement in Dr. King's day, to 911 inspired counter-terrorism, to national reactions to mass shootings and bombings, to anti-abortion protests, and even Trayvon Martin's "justified" killing by George Zimmerman (as representative of perceptions about black males), indignation can provide a starting point in a pluralistic society. In the end, what must prevail is civil debate, clear thinking, better laws, just treatment, Godly influences, and a willingness to work together to find solutions.

Unfortunately, dismissive and utopian attitudes are not helpful to the process of change/justice and is antithetical to our American concept of social progress. It's actually better to "mix it up" so long as we do not become rude and intransigent. There are believers who will insist that our whole nation and government should be run based on the Holy Scriptures, but this is another utopian idea that is impractical in a sinful world and nation. Biblical government and civil government are not the same. The Founders understood this principle. The Kingdom of God is spiritual in nature and is expressed through the lives, actions, and witness of followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we had "biblical" civil government, all non-Christian religions could be deemed illegal.  However, as "salt and light" Christians in the USA have had, and should continue to have, the greatest influence on our nation, so long as our own sins don't undermine our moral authority. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

My 10 "Commandments" (Suggestions) for Better Race Relations and Overcoming Black Stereotypes

Of course, these "commandments" carry no divine authority! In reality, anyone still living under the Law of Moses (or anyone's religious "law") has missed the essential fulfillment and realization of God's character through Jesus Christ. These statements represent my personal insights and measured expression of indignation So let's "mix it up!" Let's arrive at better personal convictions, leading to better actions, improve the fabric of our national discourse, and change future history.

1. You shall not lecture persons or offer commentary on an entire ethnic/racial group to which you neither belong nor deeply serve. (Romans 14:4)

2. You shall not pretend to understand people you do not know. Economic status and social "class" are not reliable indicators of a person's character and lifestyle.

3. You shall not assume that the actions of one or some members of an ethnic/racial group indicates anything significant about that whole group of people.

4. You shall neither believe nor promote the lie that black people operate under any kind of biblical "curse." Note: Noah's "curse" was pronounced on Canaan not Ham (Gen. 9:25)*, whose descendants long ago died off. Most importantly, Genesis 9:1, states, "God blessed Noah and his sons…" Ham was blessed by God and could not be cursed, not even by (a drunken) Noah.

5. You shall not highlight and share negative statistics about black people** while overlooking the overwhelming, and under-reported, amount of good, godly deeds and heroic contributions of African American persons. There's more to talk about than black crime (which has actually declined in the past ten years, but will always be unacceptable). "Non-black" crimes such as insider trading and mass murder are no less unacceptable. We must focus on improving ourselves and helping others around us!

6You shall not be "color blind," nor selectively render people's lives and circumstances "invisible," but recognize, celebrate, and engage with people who are different than yourself.

7. You shall believe there is one "race"-- which is the "human" race, which is comprised of many ethnicities and nationalities. (Revelation 7:9). The whole concept of race, or people as "species," is a divisive concept. There is no such thing as "black blood" or "white blood."

8. You shall celebrate difference, uniqueness, and seek unity within diversity, not conformity through uniformity.

9. You shall admonish and pray for people who exhibit behaviors of racial superiority, paternalism, or engage in stereotypical portrayals of individuals who should rather be viewed as made in the image and likeness of God.

10. You shall keep your heart clear of presumption, judgment, hatred, xenophobia (fear/loathing of "other" people) and qualify your love for God by how you love people. (1 John 4:20)

*Read article by Dr. Tony Evans, "Are Black People Cursed?"

**Why Statistics Don’t Justify Our Prejudice or Our Profiling


Your Inheritance in Christ: Receive It! Share It!

Friday, July 26, 2013 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Psalm 16:5, (NKJV) You, O LORD, are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. 6] The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.

Psalm 16:5, (NLT) Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. 6 The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!

We are heirs of God. We have an inheritance, even if no wealthy family member left us material things in a will. Jesus gained our provision through His life, self-sacrifice, and blood covenant. Since an inheritance can only be transferred after the death of the benefactor, Jesus died in order to transfer the provisions of His inheritance to us. He then rose from the dead to oversee the distribution of those new covenant provisions and responsibilities!

Romans 8:16, The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Eph 1:18, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

God has given all believers an inheritance through Jesus Christ. We receive it through our godly family heritage, through our understanding of God's kingdom, and through our personal faith in God. We should be focused on receiving and living within the benefits and responsibilities all that God has given us. We receive our inheritance, not only for personal benefit, but for the benefit of others and for those who follow us.

There is no good reason to live below our inheritance and privileges in Christ. Why should your inheritance go unclaimed and unrealized? You need your inheritance because it is designed to be shared and passed along. The Lord is your inheritance. He maintains your lot, or your part of the inheritance.

We live under the Abrahamic Blessing

Galatians 3:14, He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Genesis, 12:1, Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. 2]  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3] I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Look at what God promised Abram (who became Abraham, "Father of nations"):

1. Bless your family
2. Bless you
3. Bless others through you
4. Bless those who bless you
5. Curse those who curse you

Through our faith in Christ, we are also heirs of Abraham's inheritance and blessings. We carry forward these same blessings and responsibilities, through Christ, to bless our generation.

Note that these blessings were not activated until Abraham's obedience was fulfilled. Obedience to God is always an important factor to how God fulfills His purposes through human instruments.

Inheritance is created and transferred within the framework of key people, places and principles. Walking in this blessing of God is not a mystery and it is not elusive. Every believer in Jesus Christ is entitled (yes, "entitled") to walk in the blessings of God. We only have to exercise our faith in God's word and allow our actions to follow our faith.


Are African-Americans and Black Males "Problem People?"

Monday, July 15, 2013 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

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.


Shake Off the Dust & Stay Filled

Friday, July 05, 2013 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Acts 13:49, And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Like Paul and Barnabas, learn to "shake off the dust" of opposition to God's plan and purpose. Let the Word spread and the disciples of Christ be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit!

There will be challenge or opposition to doing God's will, but this is actually NO BARRIER to doing what He has planned for you! The key is to stay filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.