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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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discrimination

Wednesday Wind Down: Check Your Work

Hi, Family!

How’s your side of the planet? How was/is your day? I snatched a nap under a pretty tree that made me smile, so that’s a win. We made it to another week, so that’s a win too. 🙂

This week’s wind down may sting a bit, OK? Cool.

Remember when you finally completed a math problem only to hear “Check your work” from the teacher? Math wasn’t my strong subject, so I checked my work repeatedly to the point of obsession. As for the “check your work” mantra, it’s applicable in more than academic arenas. I believe God is encouraging us to do that very thing during this pandemic season.

What do I mean? I’m glad you asked. 🙂

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Sunday is a fellowship day for many Christians. We sing songs of praise, ask the love of Jesus to saturate our lives, and pray for expedited miracles. We exhort, cry, and pledge to be more like the One who saved us. We review teachings of Christ, catch up with fellow church members, and proceed into the week after a hearty Sunday dinner (which really happens at lunch time, but I digress). Unfortunately, the rest of that week brings a slew of words that do not exemplify the very thing we commemorated on Sunday. I’ve heard the following commentary while frolicking in the public on a Sunday afternoon or during a workday:

“That’s what’s wrong with America… they just let anybody in.”
“The Mexicans are taking over.”
“They need to go back to their own country.”
“They come here illegally and get away with it.”
“Well, I did it and so can they. We got to stop giving handouts.”

Sidebar: That’s one of my pet peeves when discussing social issues. Say who you mean instead of shooting “they’s” and “them’s” around folks like stray bullets.

Now, I could dissect those statements better than a frog in a high school biology class, but I won’t. My point is that we have ethereal (or ritual) experiences on Sunday and barrage a group of people with the same tongue that blessed God. We can’t possibly think that is OK.

Here’s how God sounds in my creative mind –

“So, you don’t like them, huh? You don’t want them to live next to you? They’re fine until they date your son or daughter? That’s right… you don’t see color and love everybody. Yeah, I heard that line last week. Prove it. Love them like you love yourself.”

You know I believe the Word of God applies to real life, so check out James 1:26.

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”

James 1:26, The Holy Bible, New Living Translation

That’s straight from the brother and former mocker of Jesus. James, who saw his resurrected brother, says your claims of faith are worthless if you don’t control your tongue. Since the tongue expresses what it is in the heart, there lies the reason to “check your work.” To check the work of your hands and make sure it matches the beat of your heart… the heart that celebrates Christ on Sundays.

Photo by Shelagh Murphy on Pexels.com

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month and I’ve been reflecting on the grit it takes to be Hispanic and Latinx in America. To be born here and assumed to be born elsewhere. To be bilingual or to speak broken English the best you can. To navigate homogeneous spaces where you may not be welcome. To be stereotyped as being less than a contributing member to society. To be mislabeled as a non-citizen when you have your credentials. To serve in this country’s military while waiting on citizenship approval. Remember that commentary up there? Does that sound like Sunday? Does that sound like the love of Jesus?

If you need a starting point, here are three quick items that may need a checked.

  1. Everyone that “looks Mexican” is not Mexican. Beware of this assumption.
  2. Everyone that “looks Mexican” is not beneath your social class.
  3. If you can appropriate it, you can learn about it and honor it properly (food, music, holidays, etc.).

When we say we want Jesus to be in our lives, that means all of it… especially our habits. I know they’re comfortable, but they aren’t traits of Who we worship.

Check your words. Check your work. Check your heart.

I love you and I’m praying for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Transfiguration

Hi, Sweethearts.

I hope you’re doing well out there. I’ll pick up on the birthday shenanigans next week, but first, I have a confession to make. It’s a little lengthy, but it’s what we need to hear.

I’ve been in an unapologetic thuggish mode lately. In a good way, I believe. For example, I was in the grocery store with an arm full of items (the I won’t need a cart/basket phenomenon got me) and I paused to the side to let a tall man pass me. He was on his phone and didn’t look at his path. He headed straight toward me and almost knocked me down. I firmly said “Excuse you.” He kept going. Under usual circumstances, I would have shrugged it off, but I wasn’t game for being invisible and disrespected simultaneously that day, so I spoke up.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

In another instance, I wanted to tell a fellow Christian to change Saviors because she obviously wasn’t interested in serving the one she chose. I wanted to abruptly end the conversation because I saw no point in continuing it. I was annoyed that she professed Christ’s Love over her life but was missing the beams of bias in her eyes. I listened and nodded and let the conversation naturally dissolve. This leads me to the “For Real” meaning of the blog post title… and the conviction behind my spiritually thuggish season.

We can’t say we love Jesus and desire be like Him but not allow Him to change us for the better. Remember that Vouchers post? We can’t sing songs like “Fill Me Up” and “Reckless Love” then cement the door on the parts of our hearts that need that prayer, e.g. bias, bigotry, addiction, abuse, etc. We can’t raise our hands to the heavens, but then mow over the hurt of our brothers and sisters? For some reason, we can let the Holy Spirit work on areas of disbelief, pornography addiction, drug recovery, and even murderous thoughts but if the flashlight of the Lord hit in the other dark corners we stand in front of it and say “That doesn’t apply.” Let’s take a brief look into our faith-filled fishbowl.

We are still telling brothers and sisters in Christ that racism and discrimination are not real and all they have to do is love Jesus to transcend it all.

I’ve watched Christians be more loyal to their political affiliations than to the Word of God.

I’ve observed Christians respect the American flag and the President more than their neighbor.

I’ve witnessed Christians speak vile things to each other, but separately speak kindness to their like-minded/similar-faced friends.

Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) on Pexels.com

If we proclaim to be the children of God, we should look alike even we don’t agree. We shouldn’t have so much sibling rivalry where entire classes of people feel outnumbered. Right now, we don’t look alike and frankly, it makes the name of Jesus look bad to those seeking refuge from the chaos.

I have a prickly question for you Sweethearts — Are you allowing God’s Word to examine your heart in this season of quarantine? The hideaway coves. The cozy places. The rock-hard political stances. The back porch rhetoric. The no-holds-barred approaches to changes… are you letting the mirror of God’s Word create transfiguration in you? If not, why did you say Yes?

That’s where I am. It’s where I’ve been for a while.

I have a holy annoyance with members of my faith community because we’re arguing over simple topics and opposing the very thing God sent His Son to die for — equal access to Him. But we set His pillars on an isolated hill like the one in the featured photo, never to touch again. We go to church. We do the things. But we don’t let the transformative power of Jesus into our lives. We let the Cross stay there as a relic on the lawns of our hearts. We rant on social media, sip and talk smack at the water cooler at work, and all the while remain indignant about what God said about brotherhood, loving your neighbor as yourself, exercising the greatest commandment of Love, being a whole body made up of many parts, doing good unto others, bearing one another’s burdens, etc. It’s like something my mother said one day — there’s something wrong when a supervisor is eating steak and the employee has to eat bologna everyday and better be happy about it. In other words, we profess Christ’s Love for all, but we don’t exercise it as we should. We live in a culture where the norm is to maintain a gap of intangibility. Are there opportunities for all, sure! We see it every time another minority group breaks a ceiling to be the first to do something. Nevertheless, there is a pressured thumb on certain individuals while others reap the benefits of their labor. And it doesn’t take an expert to see it. Let’s take another dip in the fishbowl one more time.

What is the rationale of having a minimum wage that barely taps the poverty line for the basic standard of living?

Where is the recompense when journalists, humanitarian workers, and missionaries are captured and/or killed overseas?

How can we boast in providing the best opportunities in the world yet not provide adequate resources for the homeless/transient community?

Why were we accepting of athletes receiving a season off with pay to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but government officials strong armed educational workers to teach in person?

Photo by Chait Goli on Pexels.com

Some things simply do not make sense, Family, and we can’t lay a blanket of faith on it and call it well. We have to acknowledge, accept, and acquiesce to His Way. The problems have been here; we were finally still enough to see and feel it. This year brought the mirror and we can’t let it go to waste.

As I exit, I want you to reassess why you accepted Jesus as your Savior and if you are allowing Him to do what needs to be done in you. We can’t ask for His likeness if we aren’t ready for it. When we accepted Jesus into our hearts, that wasn’t a period. It was just the beginning. It was the starting point to transfiguration. If you think that the only thing the Holy Spirit was sent to work on was your patience and hope, think again. He works on it all and it’s our season to get out of the way and let Him do it. For the better.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and Love well too!

Wednesday Wind Down: Bypass

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts.

I have a little example for us, but it will still be a shortstop (500 words or less). Are you ready? Great!

Imagine a neighborhood where Love walks around like a 6-foot model wearing a floor-length silk robe. Every step is like art walking. She’s majesty in human form. She smiles with the warmth of a soft spring sun, and as she walks down each street, life spreads. Grass is green. Flowers are in bloom. She’s beautiful and free. Her light flows into every house, on every block, and into every heart.

Now, let’s talk about the heart, more specifically a damaged one. If a heart’s function is impaired and a person’s life is at risk, a doctor may suggest coronary bypass surgery. This requires a healthy blood vessel to be taken from one part of the body and transplanted to the heart in order to create an alternate (and more efficient) route for blood to flow. If this is difficult for you to visualize, just think of your nearest interstate. The bypass was created to alleviate traffic congestion. Not sure if your commute includes one? Here’s a clue: it usually has 3 digits.

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Photo courtesy of AARoads

One of the realities about the heart is that a damaged one can only be repaired to a certain extent; otherwise, it must be replaced. A bypass is designed to create a new pathway for blood to bring life to the rest of the body, but it is not a transplant.

With that said, let’s tie up the loose ends.

Right now, there are formerly covert ideologies that are showing like a woman’s white slip at a country church. Why? Because there is toxic congestion where the Blood of Jesus should be flowing. Everyone might as well be honking each other during rush hour. You may hear racist comments at the store or made to feel that you are incompetent at work. Perhaps you even heard some of those comments at church. No place seems to be safe except the heart and it’s difficult to love people who view you as inferior. Here’s a reminder that I have to constantly tell myself; they aren’t the problem — their hearts are. I know it seems they will forever be saturated in ignorant privilege, but trust me. It’s a heart thing. Wherever Blood flows, there is Life.

So, wouldn’t it be great to create a bypass for Love to walk freely like that model up there? For Life to grow and bloom wherever she goes? Guess what… you can. Every time you arm yourself with facts instead of sensationalism, you create a bypass. When you perform in excellence, that’s a bypass.

It is imperative that keep your vessel as clear as possible. Create a bypass. Make it a quadruple one if you have to. The down lookers will get over it.

Peace & Thanks for listening! By the way — yes, this post made it in the shortstop category. 🙂

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Photo courtesy of YouVersion – The Bible App

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