Let the Kneeing Begin, or End?

Once again, we are faced with the start of the NFL season and the controversy of kneeing for the nation anthem has once again being magnified. To all of you that have responded with your support or disdain for the NFL athletes protest of the national anthem, respectfully they have the right to protest in this manner. Before this blog gets under you skin, I am fully aware of their intent not to disrespect our flag, the military and those who have served our country.

I am a veteran of the protests during the civil rights movement, I was privileged to be part of a small group that desegregated the schools in GA in 1964. I witnessed Dr King during marches as a youth and heard him speak in public. I participated in the marches and protects and even through my college years was beaten by police and arrested for peaceful protests thought I was merely carrying a sign.

For the past years the anthem protest has had a primary goal of bringing awareness of the stain on our nation of social injustice. Unfortunately, the prevailing thought in our culture is that this is a black thing, and these men are spoiled millionaires. Their cry for help has cost them their careers, in many instances, in the prime of their life.

My response is there must be another means of addressing the plight of social and racial injustice in America. Conversely, there has been little dialogue or action to address the existing injustices in our criminal justice system which could take years. As a pastor and social activist, I have engaged leaders on both aspects of the political spectrum. Culture and racial climate cannot be resolve by merely changing laws; it has to come from the heart. America, we need a heart change and a blood transfusion with the Blood of Christ.

Amid the turmoil of the 1960s civil rights struggle there was a strong undercurrent of prayer. That’s right, prayer changes things. We prayed into the night in the churches and meeting places before after days of marching, boycotts and other social action.

There is a part of America that may never understand this struggle and will literally hate and despise these players; many who are out of jobs and losing millions of dollars each year they are not signed. The racial divide is unfortunately getting wider given we too often will merely cut each other off and fail to hear. This reminds me of a line in an old movie, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

As one who has traveled the world, I am proud to call America my home and will defend her any day of the week. We have our faults and issues that are embroidered deep in a dark past that we cannot undo. Racism – racial intensively may not be our fault but it is and remains our problem.

My question during this era of protest is how do we measure achievement of the ultimate goal in this endeavor and level of protest. How does success look, and when will the kneeing stop? How do we ascertain when the goal has finally been achieved and equal justice for all is truly guaranteed? Until we can answer this question the protests will continue even amid the existing results of support, racial misunderstanding and even anger.

At the end of the day, who will make the clarion call (to say) rise up from a knee! History proves that to affect social change it requires intervention within our culture through a fruitful dialogue that is both sincere and focused on specific goals and objectives for social justice.

There is hope in Christ to heal our nation, so we all can take a knee or two in prayer and worship to Christ our Lord.

This is the Voice of the Overseer

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The Resilience of Racism

Perhaps you are reading this blog just because you noted the title. It appears that the word racism or in some areas racial insensitivity still are alive and well in the twenty first century.

Just a few days ago I heard a man speak words that I had not heard in over fifty years. The sting of those words cut and hurt just as deep as they did then as they did when I first heard them as a teenager.

Yes, if you check the calendar it is 2018; however, the hearts and minds of many have not changed in this country for more than a generation. Laws, policies, candidates cannot change the culture of racism that continues to stain our land. Yes, racism is resilient as long as it is fed and nourished.

As a child of the sixties I witnessed the Vietnam War, the divisiveness of school desegregation, busing along with legislation such as the Voters Rights and Civil Rights laws. Rest assured, one thing we have learned is that we have not learned anything.

The ideology of being superior to another race has continues to be relegated throughout the culture and yes, even the church. Progressive revelation is still needed. Because the ideology of inferiority is embraced by so many both black and white it holds them in bondage. As an African-American pastor I see many instances where my people will follow and join majority white congregations, but it is still rare for whites to have a black pastor.

So, you ask the question what the answer for America’s woes is. To address this scenario let’s go back a generation. I was reminded that I was mentally inferior to any white person as a youth. As part of a small group to desegregate schools in Georgia in 1965 I was reminded that the smartest black person was only on the level of a trained animal. Shockingly this was what they believed and who many whites were raised and instructed by their parents. As we prepared for school desegregation only a few handpicked young people were selected to undergo rigorous training to catch up with two years of academic inferiority that was part of the system of Jim Crow.

I recall going into the room on the first day of class and sitting in the last chair. My first grade from an examination was a B-; this was the lowest grade I had ever send in my lifetime up to this point. My classmates were stunned and could not believe I scored higher than them. It was as though their entire paradigm and worldview of the American negro was scattered. Moreover, when I attempted to join the chess club they questioned if I knew the pieces. Little did they know I learned to play chess at the age of eight and had never lost a match in years. I learned from playing with the old masters who literally beat me for years. They taught me how to play three moves ahead of my opponent.

This was over fifty years ago! The laws and times have changed but the people and our culture are still trapped in a web of prejudice and hate. We refuse to move forward and consequently mindsets and ideologies never progress. My answer to this dilemma and the woes of our culture is for people to come together with the love of Christ.

I am reminded of the Word of God; how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It’s amazing to me that all the years we claimed to be a Christian nation, yet we refused to walk in the true love of God and obedience to his Word.
This is how the world will know we are his disciples indeed, by our love for one another.

This is the Voice of the Overseer

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Acting like the Book of Acts

I recently had the opportunity to view the movie, “Paul Apostle of Christ.”

I must admit my spirit was truly touched by this movie. Today’s culture and the church have forgotten and failed to realize the many sacrifices of the early church. We have become individualized and embrace a service more than a relationship. “That I may know him, in the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

Not since the movie, The Passion of Christ, have I been so moved in such a setting as I recently viewed the movie. Too often we forget about the aftermath of the Resurrection and the plight of the early church. There were struggles but internally and externally. There was oppression from the Roman government with Nero and the Jews as Christians were hunted down, used as human candles to light the streets of Roman and fed to the Lions.

The early church was not perfect by any means, as the church today is experiencing similar issues regarding our relationship to our culture and impact to society. Despite the persecution and suffering they remained relevant and committed to spreading the gospel.

They were ostracized by the society of the day and relegated to ministering in the trenches; hidden away, feeding the poor and widows even when they had little themselves. This is the real church, these were the true Christians who exhibited and demonstrated the love of Christ and one another. It exemplifies what Jesus said, this is how you will know my disciples for their love one for another.

This brings me to today. As a Bishop and one who has labored in the field for over 43 years I see a people focused solely on their spiritual journey and development with no desire to serve, witness, speak out or take any type of stand against sin. I see a church that has become a sub-culture that fights from within and looks to the next service or emotional experience as we take our seats in comfort as the world goes to hell.

Beloved, it’s time for the church to be the church and not merely a building we attend on Sunday mornings. The church of ACTS was a discipled movement. Let’s move from our pews to bring the gospel to every creature as Jesus commanded us.

This is the Voice of the Overseer!

 

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When Will the Shooting Stop?

Once again, we are awakened to the sound of gun fire in the land of the free and home of the brave. Once again, we are greeted by the screens of parents and children embraced in hugs and relief that they are safe. Once again, the debate goes on for the next fifteen minutes of frame regarding what can be done to prevent the next incident.

It would be insensitive to make such statements as, “guns don’t kill people, people do.” Guns have been prevalent throughout American and Western culture for the past two hundred years. If weapons are the problem, when why hasn’t there been shootings in schools since the beginning? Why is this a recent phenomenon of the past quarter century and not a consistent problem throughout our history?

As a child our schools inculcated the virtues of Christianity, moral rectitude and American exceptionalism into students. It was foundational to our entire educational system, and all of this was based on the value of Judeo-Christian ethic. In the twenty-first century this is not taught. In fact, it is being repudiated daily in favor of Progressive values that eschew patriotism, mock traditional morality, and repudiate the value of American leadership.

It never ceases to amaze me that the same schools where we are no longer allowed to pray or read the bible openly are now conducting prayer assemblies on these very grounds. What’s even more unsettling is the school board officials, law enforcement, our elected representatives and yes, even our Presidents call on us to pray after each tragic event. Is something perplexing with this picture?

I won’t get into the gun control issue, but I will say this; killers and murderers will find a way to do harm. Fertilizer was used to kill hundreds and planes were used to kill thousands. We don’t just have a gun problem or a lack of law problem we have a people and moral problem in our country. As one of the most advanced societies in history we have become a godless, self-absorbed, narcissistic and violent culture. We can cry gun control until there are no more tears, but laws do not change hearts.

I was raised up in a house filled with guns; shot guns, rifles, and pistols but rarely if ever was there a killing in our neighbors or amongst our people. While I firmly believe in gun rights, I see no reason to have a weapon that fires over 45 rounds a minute for hunting.

By the way, if you need that type of weapon for hunting you need to improve your aim!

This is the Voice of the Overseer

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Is Church Really Relevant Anymore?

One of the major challenges facing the church today is relevance. Is the church relevant in our “enlightened world?” The average church today is in decline.

The church needs to respond to the needs of our world in a relevant way, while caring out its Biblical mandate to make disciples for Christ. As we reach out to the next generation we cannot sacrifice sanctification and holiness on the altar of tolerance.
People of our time need to understand how the Gospel of Jesus Christ will make a difference in their lives, how following a faith that is so counter to today’s society can bring peace and joy to someone, and how placing our trust in God is wiser then trusting ourselves.

The church needs to do a better job of communicating the Gospel and its relevance. However, communication is a two-way street. In our what-can-you-do-for-me-now society, the onus has been placed on the church to convince society that following Christ is the preferred path for living, and that attending church and getting involved in ministry beyond worship is what we are called to do as children of God. And to some extent the church has this responsibility.

Our congregations need to understand we cannot grow in Christ by simply being pew potatoes, or by avoiding church all together. Sheep beget sheep. If church is to be relevant than the members must be willing to do their part to make it relevant. How o
One of the major challenges facing the church today is relevance. Is the church relevant in our “enlightened world?” The average church today is in decline.

The church needs to respond to the needs of our world in a relevant way, while caring out its Biblical mandate to make disciples for Christ. As we reach out to the next generation we cannot sacrifice sanctification and holiness on the altar of tolerance.
People of our time need to understand how the Gospel of Jesus Christ will make a difference in their lives, how following a faith that is so counter to today’s society can bring peace and joy to someone, and how placing our trust in God is wiser then trusting ourselves.

The church needs to do a better job of communicating the Gospel and its relevance. However, communication is a two-way street. In our what-can-you-do-for-me-now society, the onus has been placed on the church to convince society that following Christ is the preferred path for living, and that attending church and getting involved in ministry beyond worship is what we are called to do as children of God. And to some extent the church has this responsibility.

Our congregations need to understand we cannot grow in Christ by simply being pew potatoes, or by avoiding church all together. Sheep beget sheep. If church is to be relevant than the members must be willing to do their part to make it relevant. How often do we read the Bible, study its contents, or pray?

One of the problems we have as Christians is that we expect the church to awaken us, to get us excited about Jesus, and to motivate us to a new way of life. Well the truth is our faith does not work that way.

Following Jesus requires us to be active participants in our spiritual growth by taking part in the spiritual disciplines listed above.

A Relevant church is VERTICALLY-ORIENTED.
1. A relevant church serves an audience of one – God.
2. A church in which people passionately worship God with all that they have: Their hearts, their intellects, their words, their bodies, their money – everything
3. A church that is characterized by individual and corporate prayer.
4. A church that seeks to honor God by having every endeavor marked by excellence, integrity, and love.

A relevant church believes that God’s kingdom comes when we work TOGETHER.
1. A church in which individuals are connected to each other through a small group.
2. A church that welcomes people from racially diverse backgrounds and is committed to becoming increasingly multicultural.
3. A church that seeks to love and practice unity with the whole body of Christ.

How relevant is your church? What have we done to make church more relevant in your life, or in the lives of others? The body of Christ must come to realization that the church is not merely the building but it’s every one of us.

This is the Voice of the Overseer

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I NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT

It hard to believe how little things have changed racially in America in over fifty years. As a child of the sixties I would have never thought that beliefs and ideologies would still exist after over fifty years after the civil rights bill was passed.

I was part of a group of ten of my friends who were selected to participate in the integration of the schools in Macon, GA in 1965. A year prior to this decision one young negro young man attended Willingham Senior High school and graduated with the class of 1965. He came in his senior year and endured unimaginable hardships for that one year. Now we were to attend this same school for four years. During this period, I would experience being called the “N” word everyday year after year.

The word “nigger” would still be considered as common slang among blacks but received as a severe offense when used by anyone other than themselves. This word has its roots in the country Niger and black and was used to degrade our ancestors. Now our younger generation has embraced a word that many in my age group would rather go away.

Although many years have passed we have come so little in race relations in our country. The welfare system of the 1960’s and the so-called Great Society has nearly destroyed black society and our culture as we know. Men were replaced by a government check and many believed and lost their purpose as women began to adopt the role that they could be both father and the mother. It has been commonly accepted to have children out of wedlock and spill our seed without any responsibility.

We are in the initial level of the feminization and emasculation of black males. The sagging of pants is an invitation to homosexuality. As you step out of the pants you will step into a dress. When the black man is destroyed the black culture is decimated and our family unit is destroyed.

Segregation was the systematic deprivation where we purposefully were given a field to play on that was unfair. Our men today do not have the disciple to be a man. The men are being raised by women and they are being influenced by femininity and not a strong black man. Therefore, they have no problem walking away from their families and children because they don’t know the importance of their role as a man, a protector and a provider.

How far must go to eliminate racism in our culture today? I never would have thought that in the year 2017 we would still be disgusting racism and why we continue to use the “N-Word.” When will we move forward as a culture and a society? It starts with us! It starts in the churches and among our peers. No laws can change the hearts of men.

I say, it’s time to bury this word in all of its’ forms, even when used by the people it was targeted to belittle. Join me in getting your shovel out to bury this relic of hatred and bigotry of the past.

This is the Voice of the Overseer

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AFTERMATH!

Many have written me in the past days regarding my comments to what occurred over the past week in the city of Charlottesville. As a person, who has experience racism and hatred on the front line I was literally taken back by what I saw as the angry mob paraded through the University of Virginia’s campus.

Hate and intolerance has been normalized; as well as leadership dysfunctionality. Our President has lost his voice. In less than a year of taking the office of the highest office in the land he has brought nothing less than embarrassment to this position as the leader of the free world. How can you lead a free world and not lead your own country in such a dire time of need and healing?

Slavery was the most distinguishing reason for the civil war. I invite you to read the confederate constitution. These articles state clearly that the White man is superior to the black man and his sole purpose is to serve the superior race. This ideology continues to be perpetuated throughout the ages. These young people that were carrying the torches had to be taught the hate that rages in their heart.

As a part of the group who integrated schools in the state of Georgia in 1965. I have been arrested and beaten by police. I still have the marks on my face. Until America actually saw the pictures of bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Selma bridge did the country realize what was happening in the South under Jim Crow laws. Many of us today never have experience the level of arrogance and racism of the 1950’s and 60’s.

Religion is endlessly pliable. So long as pastors or priests (or in this case, televangelists) are willing to apply their theological creativity to serve political demands, religious institutions can be bent to advance any policy goal. With remarkably little prodding, Christian churches in Germany fanned the flames for Hitler. The Southern Baptist Church was organized specifically to protect slavery and white supremacy from the influence of their brethren in the North, a role that has never ceased to distort its identity, beliefs and practices.

Southern Baptists remained at the vanguard of the fight to preserve Jim Crow until the fight was lost. A generation later you might hear Southern Baptists mention that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Baptist minister. They are less likely to explain that King was not permitted to worship in a Southern Baptist Church. African-American Baptists had their own parallel institutions, a structure that continues today.

“The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire.” When I see the confederate flag, it reminds me of a dark time when those that waved it in my face were not historians but bigots as they spurred out words of hate as I was called the “N word” for over three years.

As a nation divided we have become a laughing stock to the world, as we argue whether a man that thinks he’s a woman can still use the woman’s restroom and should we stand or sit during the playing of the national anthem. These are the questions I face whenever traveling abound to Europe and Africa.

Years ago, President Obama stated we were not a Christian nation. This caused an uproar on many fronts; however, if you understand what Christianity is really about this there is a level of truism in this statement. You cannot be a Christian nation and ignore the right of any man to be loved, to be treated with dignity and equality. The uproar about Charlottesville must be so violently loud in White American, that it places fear in the hearts of every people group who dare to threaten the peace of our nation with any culturally divisive rhetoric or demonstration.

Men’s hearts have created this environment and what’s going on in the world today. By merely refining their rhetoric and activating evangelical congregations, a new generation of Southern conservatives grow ever closer to winning a fight their forebears once thought was lost.

So, you may ask what can I do to change this world, our county and community. You must first start.

• Become part of or develop a Racial Reconciliation Group in your church or community
• Elect Politicians that address the real issues of your heart and the Word of God
• Get involved in your schools, community and local government
• Teach history of African Americans in public schools as a part of the core curriculum- not an elective and should be regular history.

In the words of Denzel Washington, “Don’t confuse movement for progress, you can run in place all day and never get anywhere.” The church has a withered hand that needs to be stretched forth for it to be healed. We cannot pray in love and live in hate and still think we are worshipping God.

Relationships are built, we have a lot of fellowship but few really understand what a relationship is about. A relationship is significantly different than a friendship. The enemy’s job is to divide. Don’t fall into the trap the devil and the media has laid out. Don’t let them divide us as a people and as a church.

It is imperative that we find the moral compass for our country. When you think about it, we all came here in different ships but we are now in the same boat!

This is the Voice of the Overseer!

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Do you need to belong to a church to be a Christian?

If Faith is a personal thing, so why can’t you just have an individual relationship with God? Even as a Bishop and Pastor I am often asked this same question year after year.
Lots of people wonder about that, usually after a bad experience with Christians or so-called church hurt. If you never go to church can I be effective toward the expansion of the Kingdom of God.

• How can you learn to love if no one else is around?
• Can you learn humility living alone?
• Is it possible to learn patience, kindness or gentleness in isolation?

Developing spiritual fruit requires being around people. “To save souls, you must bring them together. Let me take it a step further. Building spiritual strength requires other people, but not just people you choose to hang with. God’s kind of love is best learned when we must be around people we haven’t specifically chosen as friends. Living around people we like is fairly easy.

Doing life with just anybody is more challenging and forces us to grow. We have no choice about who our parents or brothers or sisters will be; yet we are expected to love them. Neither can we choose who will or will not be in our spiritual family.

Anyone who professes “Jesus is Lord” is to be welcomed in the church, where we encourage and challenge each other to grow in the faith. Living in this challenging but rewarding environment helps us grow and learn about love, humility and the very fruits the Lord calls us to produce (Galatians 5:22-23).

The Bible says Christians are each a different member of a body (Romans 12:4-8). Can you be an eye without a neck, or a foot without a knee? I suppose it’s possible to be a disconnected member without a body, but that’s hardly what God had in mind for you (Hebrews 10:24-25). You won’t function right. Being a Christian means contributing to the body, letting it contribute to your life, and submitting to the teaching and correction of others.

Can you be a Christian without the church? I suppose so. But what kind of Christian would you be?

This is the Voice of the Overseer

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Welcome to the Radical Morality

Welcome to the Radical New Morality

A little over a year ago I posted a blog entitled we are in the “Twilight Zone.” This was in view of the changing social landscape of western culture as we continue our downslide into moral chaos. History has a way of repeating itself. The consequences of this brave new world of total tolerance; total license and total freedom make those of the 1960s seen almost tame by comparison.

How did we come to this? Let’s start by casting God out of the schools. A series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions beginning with the 1962 and 1963 bans on prayer and the Bible from schools virtually ordered God, the Bible and the Ten Commandments from our public schools. With the Judeo-Christian ethic effectively barred from the K-12 classroom, a generation further indoctrinated by the secular humanism of the college classroom has come to see religious beliefs and traditional values as no longer relevant to the advancement of society.

A nation obsessed with acceptance of every possible lifestyle has forgotten the stern warning of the God it claims to trust: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness,” Isaiah 50:20.

Consequently, the government has made the public schools laboratories for social experimentation. In May 2016 the Obama administration, through the Department of Education, issued a directive requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their “chosen sexual identity.”

In other words, a boy who thinks of himself as a girl can now legally enter a girl’s bathroom, and vice versa. But nothing in this ruling protects the rights of the vast majority of children who want privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms and who might be shocked by this behavior.

This is the new morality, and I ask you who is tolerate now?

This is the Voice of the Overseer

 

 

 

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God Still Needs Laborers

It’s the 11th hour, and God still seeks laborers to reap His harvest!

“Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us.  Matthew 20:5-7, KJV God is calling “11th Hour” Christians to get with the program. Are you an 11th hour Christian? Are you just tried of Church as usual?  I am!

In this parable about the kingdom of God, Jesus described the last generation before His return. He described a group of people who were standing around doing nothing, people who were idle and non-productive. Jesus revealed God’s plan for these kinds of people: get to work in the vineyard!

It’s still the 11th hour and God continues to look for laborers who will go after His harvest! Jesus is still seeking workers who will work the vineyard, fish for men and reach the lost. He’s looking for idle people who are willing to start using some elbow grease, get their hands dirty and break a sweat.

Are you an 11th hour idle Christian? Have you been standing around? Wasting time? Producing little or no fruit? Doing nothing? Complaining? Why not throw caution to the wind and get busy serving God? Why not go to work in God’s vineyard? Why not be bold and share the love of God and the good news of Jesus with the lost, weary and scattered sheep in your sphere of influence?

Listen to what Jesus said, “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.'” (Matthew 9:36-38, NKJV)

I don’t know about you, but I am stirred up! I’m fired up and more passionate than ever about reaching the lost and doing our part to work with Jesus to build His Church! I want to be a faithful 11th hour laborer. I want to give the Lord 100% and do everything I can to reap His harvest and reach the precious fruit of the earth—the lost and broken—in my sphere of influence. How about you?

This is the Voice of the Overseer

PASTORREID

The Voice of the Overseer

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