Rev. Dr. King’s Concept of Justice and the Role of the Church – Commentary on his ”Letter from the Birmingham Jail” (From Biblical and Social Justice: What Is It?)

Sunday, July 25, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments


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


CHAPTER 7
Rev. Dr. King’s Concept of Justice and the Role of the Church - Commentary on his ”Letter from the Birmingham Jail”

Don Cravens / The Life Images Collection / Getty; Bettmann / Getty

©2020 Bryan Hudson, D.Min.
(Note: Taken from a draft of the book. Book contains final, corrected content)

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Many of the answers we seek do not come from new places. Some of the best concepts and insights come from an old place. 

"In April 1963, Martin Luther King was jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, after he defied a state court’s injunction and led a march of black protesters without a permit, urging an Easter boycott of white-owned stores. A statement published in The Birmingham News, written by eight moderate white clergymen, criticized the march and other demonstrations. This prompted King to write a lengthy response, begun in the margins of the newspaper. He smuggled it out with the help of his lawyer, and the nearly 7,000 words were transcribed." (from The Atlantic Magazine)1  

Read the entire letter on the Atlantic website: archive/2018/02/letter-from-a-birmingham-jail/552461/

At 34 years of age, his words were a masterpiece of making an argument in favor of a cause. This letter shows Dr. King’s clarity about injustice, understanding of equal justice, love of country, powers of logic, grasp of Scripture, boldness, humility, and much more. In this chapter I will highlight passages that continue to be relevant and instructive to our 21st Century challenges. This is not an analysis or exposition of the letter. These are my reflections on portions of the words and concepts written by Dr. King.

PREPARING TO RESPOND

I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas…But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

Opponents of equal justice have reasoned their way to justifications for what they do. Whether slave owners of the 19th Century, segregationists of the 20th Century, or white supremacists of the 21st Century, opponents to justice have an intellectual basis for their actions. Too often, that basis is informed by bigotry and bad theology. Dr. King stated “I want to try to answer your statement.” In reality, he didn’t “try.” His words were a “tour de force” of reason and logic. 

In our day of protests lacking discipline and clear purpose, Dr. King and the activists of his era used their intellect to overcome the reasoning of opponents to equal justice. He believed that people of “good will” could be persuaded by sound arguments. We should believe the same. When people of good will know better, they can do better. 

NOT ONE MAN, AN INEVITABLE FORCE FOR CHANGE

We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

Dr. King showed that he was not acting alone. He was part of a large and highly organized organism of capable, like-minded persons. Putting him in jail did not stop the movement. It didn’t even slow it down. He presented a case of inevitability to his fellow ministers. He made them understand that they were dealing with a force for inevitable change not just the actions of a young preacher and a few angry people. 

In the spring of 2020, during the wake of the murder of George Floyd, protests happened all across the nation and world. Unfortunately, too many peaceful protests ended in rioting, which hurt the credibility of the protests. We also know that many of the rioters were outsiders coming into cities. Many of these actions contributed to a narrative that protests were essentially riots caused by Black Lives Matter participants and African Americans. While this was mostly untrue, the lack of planning, purpose, and organization of some protests contributed to chaos, not constructive action. Sadly, many of the effective, organized, peaceful protests were overlooked by the media in favor of more “newsworthy” violent acts. 

One of the persons and movements in the United States who has followed the model of the successful Civil Rights Movement era is Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and the Repairers of the Breach organization (www.breachrepairers.org) based in Goldsboro, North Carolina. 

PRINCIPLES OF ACTION

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation.

Dr. King made it known that they were governed by principles, not emotions. He demonstrated rational action in the face of irrational treatment.

He listed four steps to a non-violent campaign:

1. Collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist
2. Negotiation
3. Self purification
4. Direct action

The item “self-purification” is interesting. The King Center published a “Glossary of Non-Violence” on their website.2 “Purification” is defined as “The cleansing of anger, selfishness and violent attitudes from the heart and soul in preparation for a nonviolent struggle.” This is another indication of the depth of preparation that was built into their actions. This is a far cry from many of today’s mostly unorganized protests, howbeit well meaning.

A NETWORK OF MUTUALITY

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

Dr. King tied the actions of himself and the movement to “an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” In this, he showed how his audience of clergymen were either part of the answer or part of the problem. In addressing the accusation of his being an “outsider,” King appealed to their sense of nationalism and patriotism with the words, “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” He probably caused many to reach for their dictionaries to understand the words he used!

PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATION

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" …Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. 

Dr. King appealed to the formal training of the ministers, many of whom were highly educated. By citing Socrates, he used the art of Philosophy to present the philosophical underpinnings of their strategy. He revealed to them that creating “tension” was part of their plan to “open the door” to negotiation. In this, Dr. King showed transparency. He gave people of “good will” every reason to support his efforts. It was a remarkable strategy! It seems that we have much to learn today from the movement 57 years later.

WHY WE WON’T WAIT

For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children…

Regarding the assertion that Black people should “wait” for a better time for action or wait for conditions to improve, Dr. King offered impassioned words and personally challenged the clergyman to view Black people as neglected “brothers” – a common term among followers of Christ. He wrote, “You see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty.” At this point in the letter, he used the words “you” and “yours” to engage and implicate the clergymen in his arguments. He made injustice and brutality an experience for the readers.

TWO KINDS OF LAWS

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

Dr. King addressed legal mandates and explained his philosophy of civil disobedience. He answered the question: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" King outlined two types of laws: “just and unjust.” He advocated the importance of being law abiding citizens in affirmation of the conscience of his “law and order” readers. He also subtly reminded them that many whites disobeyed the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education that mandated the desegregation of schools––a “just” law that many whites disobeyed. 

King made a powerful argument, “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all.”

UNJUST LAWS DAMAGE THE SOUL

All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. 

In addition to addressing the Injustice of segregation, he also highlighted the psychological damage caused by it. Not only damage to the person being segregated, but damage to the person perpetrating the injustice through a false sense of superiority. it doesn't make sense to feel superior to any person when God has made us all people in his image and likeness.

DISMANTLING INJUSTICE ARGUMENTS

Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

In his letter, Dr. King continued to dismantle arguments favoring injustice against Black people. He pointed our that some counties in Alabama had majority Black populations and none were registered to vote, which was a clear outcome of racist injustice. He continued to appeal to the conscience and sense of fairness on the part of the white clergy. Again, he appealed to those of “good will.”

GENUINE LAW AND ORDER

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Dr. King fully understood the importance of a society based on law and order in guarding against anarchy. He expressed his understanding and respect for the law and taking responsibility for actions against “unjust laws.” After all, he was sitting in a jail writing a letter as personal proof of that concept!

EXAMPLES OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

He appealed to the clergymen using Scriptural and historical examples of civil disobedience by the Hebrews and Christians. Dr. King then “dropped the mic” with reminding the white clergymen that the United States itself was founded on acts of civil disobedience such as the Boston Tea Party. This was a political protest that occurred on December 16, 1773, at Griffin's Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts. American colonists, frustrated and angry at Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” (illegally) dumped 342 chests of tea imported by the British East India Company into the harbor. 3

THE SACRIFICES OF LEADERS 

Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. 

Dr. King wrote about the sacrifices of people who dedicated their lives to making other lives better. He cited the Apostle Paul, the reformer Martin Luther (his own namesake), John Bunyan, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and the Lord Jesus Christ! It was a powerful flourish by a preacher communicating to preachers.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, THE PASTOR

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

Martin Luther King, the Pastor, issued an indictment against the church. I cannot envision how a pastor could have read those words and not have been moved. This part of the letter are among the most emotional words of the text. He wrote, “In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”

This was a clear expression of a follower and servant of Christ looking at the broken state of the church in his day. It seems that brokenness is present to this day.

USING CHRIST TO HINDER FELLOW CHRISTIANS

I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth."

It was quite audacious for someone to send a letter justifying the delay of justice to people and believers in Christ using Christ to argue against receiving His blessing. Whatever this person’s reasoning, he certainly showed no respect to the teachings of the Bible and of Christ. I'm reminded of Hebrews 11 which reads, “Now faith is the substance of things hope for and the evidence of things not seen.”

From Matthew 4:17, The scripture reads, ”From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 

“Now faith” and “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” is not something one has to wait 2000 years to receive, or receive "eventually."

LOSS OF AUTHENTICITY FOR THE AMERICAN CHURCH

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Dr. King possessed the insight, and foresight, to know that the actions of the church in his era damage the church’s credibility with unchurched young people. His words were prophetic. The same loss of authenticity is occurring with millennials today who observe ministers compromising with political power brokers.

LOOKING FOR THE “CHURCH WITHIN THE CHURCH”

Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant

In this part of the letter, Dr. King provided examples where other white ministers were taking a godly stand against injustice and racism. This would seem to be a challenge to the clergy readers of his letter. The courage of many white Americans is not in question. We have seen them have sacrifice as much as Black people for a cause that was not to their personal benefit.  Many of the Freedom Riders, marchers, and protesters were courageous white and Jewish men and women.

OPPRESSION CANNOT CONTINUE

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.

King showed the humanity and equal value of Black Americans. King expounded on the innate yearning for freedom that all humans possess, something they had in common with their white brethren, including the ministers who read the letter.

CONFIDENCE IN THE PROMISE OF AMERICA

We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail.

Dr. King had confidence in the promise of America. He understood that the nation was founded on principles of personal freedom, even though that freedom was denied to enslaved Americans. The people of that era kept their eyes on the prize of the Bill of Rights and US Constitution. They determined to claim benefits denied to their ancestors.  Black Americans were, and are, far more patriotic than people realize. Not by superficial acts like waving flags or wearing flag print t-shirts. A patriot maintains confidence in his country to do the right thing. In hindsight, looking back 57 years, we see that the people of the civil rights movement were correct, “the goal of America is freedom.”

Freedom is not a privilege for African-Americans, it is our birthright and we have earned it as well. Free black labor helped make the country wealthy. King expressed confidence to his fellow clergyman that opposition to freedom would fail.

OPTIMISM IN THE FACE OF DESPAIR

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

This marvelous closing, written from a jail, Pauline in tone, and reflected the heart of a follower of Christ and a lover of God's church. In spite of the abuse and neglect on the part of some fellow clergy members, Dr. King was not bitter but hopeful. This letter would have certainly captivated the hearts and minds of ministers of good will.



1. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’ https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/02/letter-from-a-birmingham-jail/552461/ ↩︎
2. https://thekingcenter.org/glossary-of-nonviolence/ ↩︎
3. https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/boston-tea-party ↩︎


____________________

Book information and purchase: https://www.biblicaljusticebook.com







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Hope – What Is It? How Does It Come?" (Podcast and YouTube Video)

Monday, July 19, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments


Colossians 1:26 (NKJV)
The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:26-27 (PHILLIPS)
They are those to whom God has planned to give a vision of the full wonder and splendour of his secret plan for the sons of men. And the secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come.

WHAT IS HOPE?
1. A picture of something good that can happen 
2. Confident expectation 
3. Anticipation of good
4. Belief that something is obtainable

WHERE DOES HOPE COME FROM?
1. From God - Imago Dei (Image of God) 
Psalm 119:49, “Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope”
2. From Your Parents
3. From Significant Others in Your Life

Reflection Questions:

1. How does hope motivate people to do extraordinary things?
__________________________________________________________________

2. What is your hope?
___________________________________________________________


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Source vs. Resource: How to Receive the Things You Need (Podcast and YouTube video)

Monday, July 12, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments



Philippians 4:11-13, Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

LISTEN TO PODCAST 



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Independence Day in Historical Context - A Promise Made

Monday, July 05, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

 


Enjoy this brief video presentation, "July 4 Independence Day History in Context - A Promise Made"
Content from my book, Biblical & Social Justice: What Is It? www.BiblicalJusticeBook.com

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Cause & Effect: God’s Promises and Mercy at Work (Podcast Audio & Video)

Sunday, June 27, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments




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Psalm 37:3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

”Cause and Effect" is a relationship between events or things, where one is the result of the other or others. This is a combination of action and reaction. Something happens (a cause) that leads to an effect.

Five things are true:

1. We have everything to do with outcomes.

2. We have much to do with outcomes.

3. We have nothing to do with outcomes.

4. Things are not always as they appear. Losing is winning.

5. We need MERCY & FAVOR

It is important to keep yourself in a healthy perspective.

Being diligent is essential, but understand that you are not the “master of your fate” or the “captain of your soul.”

Your are neither helpless nor all powerful

Mercy is the gift before and after faith. We think we’re “working it,” but the mercy of God is helping us more than we realize!

Favor is a product of mercy

Some Keys:
1. Have no fear, pray without ceasing
2. Don’t “Spiritualize” (COVID made that real)
3. Mercy and favor surround you
4. Pay attention to details
5. Don’t be a sign holder, be a doer of the Word
6. Have or revise your relationship with winning
7. What did you learn?

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Imago Dei: Qualities of a Man and Father

Monday, June 21, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

 

Listen to Firm Foundation Podcast

1 Corinthians 16:12, (TLB), I begged Apollos to visit you along with the others, but he thought that it was not at all God’s will for him to go now; he will be seeing you later on when he has the opportunity. 13 Keep your eyes open for spiritual danger; stand true to the Lord; act like men; be strong; 14 and whatever you do, do it with kindness and love 

1 Corinthians 16:13-14, (KJV) Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. 14 Let all your things be done with charity.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14, (NKJV) Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.

Paul presents something common to his culture. Men were often idealized. We’ve seen this in our culture with television shows long ago such as, “Father Knows Best.”

That said, children raised in a home with a loving and caring father also have an idealized view of their father. This is an authentic reflection of Imago Dei, the image of God. Children from these homes will children most likely see God in a better light. How parents live and treat their children and others is the strongest witness to the living God.

Imago Dei is the image of God. It is not the image of self.

The thing that looks like a weakness is a doorway into strength. Paul discovered the principle:

2 Corinthians 12:10, Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul was not trying to do “mind over matter” or trying to drum up PMA, “A Positive Mental Attitude.’  He had already learned from God: 

2 Corinthians 12, And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

Encouragement for Men and Fathers

  1. Meet Every Need (M.E.N.) - Be willing, God will give strength
  2. Pray and expect good and God
  3. Provide the best example, even when you make a mistake
  4. Love your wife and children with everything inside you and in your hand
  5. Instill confidence that anything is possible
  6. Only accept the best according to ability
  7. Don’t expect anyone to give you anything, be prepared to earn it
  8. Give more than you receive
  9. Always bring your “A" game, even when you are the only one who sees it
  10. Benefit your family before all others
  11. Give space to flourish, fail, and recover
  12. odel how to recover from failure and disappointment 
  13. Surround your children with the values that you value
  14. Remember that love is unconditional

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Why Juneteenth Matters. Understanding the Context

Saturday, June 19, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments


The Emancipation Proclamation and General Order No. 3 issued by President Abraham Lincoln had no force of law in every state without the 13th Amendment. Juneteenth puts this all in context, also known as our country's second Independence Day. The Civil War ended in April of 1865. Texas kept people enslaved until of June 19, 1865 when the Union General Gordon Granger and army arrived. The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution was needed to overrule states that wanted to disregard the Proclamation and keep slavery in place. It was ratified on ratified on December 6, 1865.
Watch this brief YouTube presentation in which Ophelia Wellington, Founding Director of Freetown Village explains the celebration known to African Americans as "Juneteenth" that became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021.

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A New Way: From Pandemic to Promise (Podcast, Video and Keynote Slides)

Sunday, June 13, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments



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John 14:5
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Joshua 3:3 
And they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”

There are lessons to learn from the story of Israel under the leadership of Joshua as they faced another barrier of water, this time the Jordan River. There's was a pandemic, not in a medical sense, but the whole nation experienced a hardship together. And together they overcame it. That's the key word, “together.”

Key #1  |  Operate in Truth at Every Level
Key #2  |  Faithfulness to Small Things Leads to Greatness
Key #3  |  Prepare Well for Every Opportunity and Challenge
Key #4  |  Listen to Learn
Key #5  |  “Stand in the Water.” Put Yourself in Position Act
Key #6  |  When You Change, Your Circumstances Will Change
Key #7  | You Don’t Need to See or Understand Everything That Helps You

Application Questions:
1. What is your New Normal?
2. In what small things are you faithful?
3. What preparation do you need?
4. In what ways do you need to listen to learn?
5. What commitment(s) have you avoided?

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Love Your Own

Wednesday, June 02, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments



John 13:1, It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Jesus faced betrayal by Judas Iscariot. He knew it was coming, but His heart was filled with love. He knew he would leave the world through extreme suffering and death, but left His disciples an example of serving and humility. At the moment when he should have been the most concerned about Himself, He decided to wash His disciples’ dirty feet.

One of the great messages in this story (Read John 13) is to stay committed to "your own” — including family, friends, and covenant brothers and sisters in Christ at your local church. Stay humble and serve others “to the end."

In this broken and selfish world, Christ followers can model unconditional and committed love.




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You Know Jesus, And You Don’t Know Him

Saturday, May 29, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments



John 11:20, When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus that their brother, and His friend, Lazarus was sick, "Lord, the one you love is sick.” (John 11:1) When Jesus received the message, HE STAYED WHERE HE WAS two more days. He said to the disciples, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” However, Lazarus died.

Jesus had a clear objective: To show His friends that they did not know Him as they thought.

We know Jesus, but we don’t know everything He can do. It has been said, “Familiarity breads contempt.” It this case familiarity contributed a blindness of the power of God. Sometimes we don’t appreciate the capabilities and grace of God present within people we think we know. This familiarity prevented friends and family, who knew Jesus, from honoring Him in fulness; Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” (Mark 6:4)

A lack of honor did not create a condition of a lack of love for His friends.

When Jesus arrived after the death of Lazarus, Martha came out to meet Him, but Mary “stayed in the house” — indicating her heartbreak and offense. When she came to the burial site, we read, "When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32)

This was the reason Jesus delayed. He needed to show his friends that they did not know Him fully. As far as they knew, Jesus could do anything, including healing any sickness. However, He couldn't heal after death.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:23-24)

Then came the words that represented a new level of knowledge about Jesus Christ and relationship with Him: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life." (v. 25) Jesus then raised Lazarus from the dead –– a capability of Jesus that Martha and Mary did not know.

What challenge do you and I need to allow and endure to learn more about Jesus and transition to a more full relationship?

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Principles of Insight | Firm Foundation Bible Study

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments


2 Timothy 2:3, You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things

Insight defined
• The power or act of seeing into a situation
• The act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively
• The capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing.
• A clear, deep, and sometimes sudden understanding of a complicated problem or situation:


Insight is inherently subjective. Insight comes from one's own knowledge and lived experience. We only learn the value of an insight after we have time to reflect on it and view the outcomes.

Insight springs from a wellspring of knowledge, lived experience, and understanding spiritual principles.  You have insight within your spheres of knowledge and expertise

The Danger of Blindness
John 9:24, A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” 26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” 28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

• Religious authoritarianism (“because I said so”)
• Go from bad to worse (continue to dig when in a hole)
• Blind to God while talking about God (religious arrogance)
• Unwilling to acknowledge the obvious, empirical works of Jesus
• Disrespecting people who won’t “fall in line”
• Tone deaf (won’t “listen” to others)
• Hanging on to dead people and old things

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A Place Called Forward: Commence & Invoke (Special Message for Graduates and Persons Advancing)

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments




LISTEN TO TEACHING ON FIRM FOUNDATION PODCAST

Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is the season for graduation and commencement. It is also the time to honor educators who taught and nurtured students to prepare them for the next level of their education.

God has a lot to say about beginnings, new beginnings, dedications, commencements and invocations.
 Graduation and commencement are the beginning of a new era or season for your life. We most often recognize this with graduation from high school and college. This truth is also connected to Imago Dei, the image of God within you. Only people, who are made in the image and likeness of God, have the power to commence, begin, or invoke.

We also have commencements, beginnings, and new beginnings in items such as marriage, new jobs, relocation, military training, becoming a registered voter, ministry licensing and ordination, and many other milestones that change your trajectory.

Commence and Invoke
1. Stand in your space. Earn and demand respect
1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

2. Commit Yourself to God 
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

3. Trust the Lord more than your own understanding. Honor the Lord
Proverbs 3:5-10 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

4. Work for God, not only for people
Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

5. You were built for purpose
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

2021 College Graduates - Congratulations!

Your college degree is evidence of knowledge, personal organization for learning (no one FORCED YOU to do anything), as well as a commitment to inquiry, excellence, and lifelong learning. Your degree is neither a shortcut in life nor an emblem of privilege. You still have to become skillful in your field and earn the professional respect of people who know and do more than you.Don’t settle. #GoForward

To high school graduates: Good job, but THEY MADE you do it! You've just finished learning how to learn. Don't settle. #GoForward

Reflection Questions:
1. Why commencement more than the ceremony?
2. It what ways have you commenced?
3. How has your life changed in ways that prevent you from going backwards?
4. What does "Go Forward" mean to you?


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A Place Called Forward: From Crisis to Courage (Audio Podcast and YouTube Video)

Sunday, May 16, 2021 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments




LISTEN TO PODCAST

Exodus 14:15  And the LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. 16] But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

There comes a time in any challenging situation, crisis, or pandemic, when you must choose courage over fear, wisdom over feelings, and facts over fantasies.
Israel faced that moment at the Red Sea which blocked their physical advance. In this moment, God instructed Moses to tell the people to, "Go forward!"
This remains God's instruction for us today!

Israel was in a crisis on different levels:
1. There was the original crisis of being held in bondage
2. There was the crisis of having a bondage mindset, after being delivered
3. There was the crisis of being pursued by the Egyptian's from behind and facing the barrier of the Red Sea before them

The most significant difference between you, your lived experience, and a crisis is what you think about it. 

The most important thought to have in a crisis is the thought and feeling of being victorious in Christ and being willing to take action. It takes courage to not wait on others.

Reflection Questions:
1. Why did "go forward" not refer to a physical destination? What did it mean?
2. What forces try to hinder your progress?
3. What did you learn from Gideon?


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