Posts Tagged ‘hope’

boxing gloves

Many boxing fans can remember the epic fight on February 11, 1990 in Tokyo Japan, between Mike Tyson and James “Buster” Douglas.  Like many, I know right where I was when watching that great fight that night.  Tyson was the unbeaten World Champion.

In the eighth round Tyson knocked Douglas down. Douglas was being given a ten count by the referee, but got back up before he was counted out.  Later in the fight, he went on to knock out “Iron” Mike and became the new heavy weight champion of the world.

From my life experience, I think God sometimes has His own way of giving us a ten count, and at nine if you’re not back up, his grace starts patiently counting over again UNTIL YOU GET BACK UP!

I have often heard success defined as getting up one more time than you have been knocked down. What a great definition?!  Life is difficult…  So, what do you do when life knocks you down?  When a dream is shattered?  A hope is deferred?  A business venture sputters or fails?  

You do what you have always done, get back up one more time!

Written by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: the Spirit Ranch Blog; http://spiritranch.us/feelingdownforthecount

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perfecttion sign

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the men of old gained approval.” -Hebrews 11:1-2

Imagine a group of people gathered before you.  You must select from among them those most likely to play a pivotal role in God’s plans for humanity.  They are so at ease with you that they open up and share their darkest secrets.

One tells you that after a night of heavy drinking he was sexually abused by one of his own sons.  Another confesses that he gave his wife to another man to sleep with.  Another plotted with his mistress to kill her husband.  Another one murdered a man and is still on the run from the law.  One is a prostitute.  Another has a lifestyle marked by violence, killing people to impress a girlfriend and his prospective father-in-law. Yet another confesses that he cheated his brother out of his inheritance.

Could you use them?  I hope so, for they are the heroes of faith described in Hebrews chapter 11.  Noah is the man who got drunk and was sexually abused; Abraham is the man who gave his wife to sleep with another; David is the one who plotted to have his mistress’ husband killed.  Moses is the one who murdered an Egyptian and was never brought to account for it.  Rahab was the prostitute.  Samson’s life was marked by violence and who killed to impress his girlfriend.  Jacob is the person who cheated his own brother out of his inheritance.

We often have the thought that a person of faith is a person untouched by sin.  These examples show us that it is far from the case.  Faithful people are also flawed people, people who can easily bounce from great acts of faith to great acts of evil and disobedience.

Scripture shows that God uses very flawed people!  Have you experienced a time when God used your imperfections to glorify Himself?

Author Unknown, Submitted by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: The Spirit Ranch Blog: http://spiritranch.us/flawedpeople

Pike with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a pre...

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a press conference after the march to Selma, Alabama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., my mind easily goes to the topic of leadership.  On this day we pay tribute to the life and work of one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.

In what is often referred to as the “I Have a Dream” speech, there are some profound insights into what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Great leaders refuse to accept the status quo: In fact, I would say that this is the defining characteristic of real leaders.  They are not indifferent; they are active and unwilling to agree to their status and circumstance.

Great leaders do not sugar-coat reality: This speech came at a critical point in the civil rights movement.  Dr. King did not pull any punches.  He faced the most brutal facts of his current reality.

Great leaders engage the heart: While logic may require the mind, stories and metaphors move the heart.  This is the difference between sharing information and inspiration.  Dr. King was a master of captivating hearts.

Great leaders call people to act with their highest values: It would have been easy for the civil rights movement to change strategy and resort to violence as some did.  However, just like Nelson Mandela when he became president of South Africa, Dr. King called people to a higher ground.

Great leaders refuse to settle: It would have been easy for Dr. King to surrender his principles and to have settled for less than his vision, but he was stubborn in a good way.  He was persistent and called people to persevere.

Great leaders cast vision and hope for a better tomorrow: Leaders can never grow tired of sharing their clear and relevant vision.  They have to help their followers see a vivid picture of hope as Dr. King did so effectively.

The “I Have a Dream” speech is full of lessons in leadership. 

In the spirit of this holiday, take time to sit down with your family and read or watch the entire speech.  You may find it on YouTube.

It will change forever the way you understand Martin Luther King Day.

written by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: the Spirit Ranch Blog; http://spiritranch.us/reflectiononagreatleader

Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy (an all-male charter school) just pulled a THREE-PEAT announcing that ALL of their graduating seniors have been accepted into four-year colleges!

At a time where faith in the traditional educational system is beginning to waiver for many, Urban Prep Academy on Chicago’s south side must be doing something right.   Once again, 100% of its 2012 graduating seniors are heading off to college in the fall.  And by the way, this school is the only all-Black, all-male public prep school in Chicago!

This is the third year in a row that the school has achieved the feat thanks to hard-working teachers, parents and of course…the amazing students.

The school started with students whose futures had been left for dead by their public schools: Only four percent of the school’s incoming freshmen were reading at grade level when they arrived on campus.

The young men at this incredible school are reason for hope and celebration as they continue to break barriers and defy the odds!  What an inspiration!?

See Chicago Tribune Letter to the Editor: Success stories

Educational Leadership:Poverty and Learning:The Myth of the Culture of Poverty.

The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy.  He is even more delighted when we turn inward and destroy ourselves.  Heighten those facts with the victim being a person in leadership with the ability to transform others.  I have become aware of at least three tactics used to destroy the leader within.

The first way to destroy our leadership potential is when we begin to think those we lead exist to serve us.  As a servant leader, we exists to serve those we lead.  As Transformational Leaders, we want to demonstrate extraordinary and passionate servant leadership focused on helping every member of the group succeed.  Being a transformative leader is not about telling people what to do; it’s about exemplifying what we are asking our followers to do.

The second way to destroy our leadership potential is to surround ourselves with weak “yes” people.  If we don’t have someone on our leadership team with authority to correct or challenge us, we can easily become a self-absorbed, authoritative leader.  Our leadership teams must be composed of strong, courageous, gifted, humble leaders who will speak the truth to us.

The third way to destroy our leadership potential is to stop learning and developing as a leader.  As leaders, we are in a role to reproduce who we are in those we lead.   If we don’t like the culture of our company, organization, or school we should not look around at others to blame.  

As the leader, we often have created, through our leadership, what we perceive as a problem.  As we grow and develop as healthy leaders, our influence will go viral throughout the organization we lead.  

The opposite is true as well.  Unhealthy leadership can go viral throughout the organization just as easily.  The title and hook from one of my favorite Ice Cube rap songs is very good counsel for leaders, “You better check yo self before you wreck yo self.”  As transformational leaders, let us replenish ourselves regularly with the same hope, compassion and justice we need to reproduce in those we serve.

By Christopher Linder July 30, 2009 -www.urbanfaith.com

President Obama reads letters from the public, as he sits at his desk in the Treaty Room Office in the Private Residence. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza, 2009.)

Now that we’ve all had a chance to settle down and let this most recent and unfortunate situation fade into the mists of past news cycles, I just wanted to humbly offer a few words of advice. In the future, please refrain from telling the truth about racial situations when asked. Clearly some of us in America aren’t quite ready for it yet. In fact, many are still trying to come to grips with the fact that you got elected in the first place.

Now, between you and me, we both know that the existence of your presidency doesn’t erase the centuries-long tradition of racism in America. Many of us — or our parents and grandparents — can still remember the days when segregation was an institution and a daily fact of life … not just a word waved around in the month of February.

You ran on the promises of hope, change, and a unified America. When I saw you speak at the Democratic Convention in 2004, I thought to myself, there’s the man who should be leading the country … and the thought was so incredibly far-fetched at the time. Even after you announced your candidacy, it seemed impossible to even dream that it would actually result in having you as our President. When Joe Biden uttered those ill-chosen words, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy …” we knew what he was trying to say, but it underscored the delicacy of the racial situation these days.

But you have to admit that we’ve certainly come a long way in these past few years, though I know we’re not there yet. However, in these critical early months of your administration, it’s important that you recognize the need for the masses to hold on to their warm, fuzzy feelings about your victory last November — not to mention their need to keep their racial blinders firmly in place. Is the danger of being stopped for “driving while Black” still a reality in 2009? Of course not! And do young Black men and women still get watched more closely in the store than their White counterparts? No! That is all completely behind us! Let’s move on; after all, slavery was a long time ago. We’re equal now!

Sure, we’ll hear the reports of the occasional group of school kids turned away from a swimming pool in the Philly suburbs … but that wasn’t a racial issue, that pool was simply too crowded. And we know that the situation with Professor Gates had nothing to do with race (not in this day and age). If Professor Gates would’ve just taken a deep breath and showed the proper respect to Sergeant Crowley, understanding that police officers seldomly treat people differently based on the color of their skin, there would be no need for your beer summit today.

Let us continue to believe that racism is dead in America, and that racial profiling is no longer an issue in our cities. Be patient with us, Mr. President … perhaps in a few years we’ll be able to engage in open, honest dialogues about race and racism. But for now, let’s just keep it our little secret. Give my best to Michelle and the kids.

Sincerely, Christopher Linder, Color-Blind in Atlanta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, CHRISTOPHER LINDER

Christopher Linder lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife Rozlyn and their two daughters. A graduate of Judson University, he divides his time between writing, computer programming, and procrastinating. He is a professional web developer for churches, small businesses, and individuals. Says Chris, “I am a child of God who realizes that now, 30 years after being born again, I am still just beginning to learn how to walk.” He can be reached at Chris@iLinder.com.

Because a Large Population of People Live There

Our inner-cities are a diverse, active and exciting part of modern society.  Some things about the city are easy to celebrate and enjoy – the cultural, educational and social opportunities.  But at the same time, our cities are also permeated with their share of difficulties such as poverty, hopelessness, crime, drug abuse, illiteracy and other tragedies.  Those that inhabit our inner-cities have in many cases fallen victim to years of urban decay, neglect, oppression and limited opportunities.

In most of the large cities in the United States approximately one half of the geographic area in those cities is now considered urban. This is typical in most of our larger cities; New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles and even in many medium size cities.

Note: the word “urban” can carry with it a great deal of baggage.  The reference here is not intended to identify various groups of people, whether by income level or by racial or ethnic background, but to only identify the neglected and oppressed areas of our cities that are often diverse and multicultural.

A disproportionate percentage of our country’s ethnic minorities live in urban areas.  Overall, 29 percent of U.S. families live in the city.  Yet, 58 percent of African-American families and 54 percent of Hispanic families live in the inner-city.  As you can see, ethnic minorities are really ethnic majorities in many of our cities.

We are talking about a large percentage of the population in the United States.  On an international scale we are talking about a large percentage of the world’s population.  It was Jesus who said to “go into all the world” with the Gospel.  Since our inner-cities are a large part of that world, Christians should be deeply concerned for reaching the inner-city as well as other parts of the world.

Because the People There are Poor

Most U.S. ministry resources target our middle to upper middle class population.  In contrast, the resources of Jesus (His time and energy) prioritized going to the poor.  Jesus preached to the poor, (Luke 4:18).  The scriptures prove this over and over.  Just look in a concordance for all the references to the poor.

You will see that God truly emphasizes going to the poor and ministering to the oppressed.  Obviously, a majority of poor people today are found in our inner-cities.  Therefore, from what we see in the scriptures, these areas are very precious to the heart of God and a top priority in His view of things.  And they should also be a priority in the view of Godly Christians who are following His Word.

Because There’s an Open Door.

In I Corinthians 16:9, the Bible talks about an open door.  This indicates that we should look around to observe where God is already at work and has already opened doors for our ministries to serve Him.  There is no place where the doors are more open than in the inner-city.  People are looking for help; they will accept help from spiritual sources.  There are no problems getting building permits or occupancy permits for ministries or churches.  The government, businesses, neighbors; everyone is happy for you to do anything that will help people in need.  There are very few restrictions.  We should not take this for granted.  For now the door is open, let us walk through it while we can.

God emphasizes by means of His instruction and example – that ministry to the poor and oppressed are high on His priority list.  A majority of poor people today are found in the urban areas of our cities.  Ray Bakke has said, “We must keep the urban poor high in our priorities.  The poor are no less sinners than the rich are, but they have also been sinned against.  They are the victims of other people’s sins and injustices.  Our ministries must be accompanied by a struggle for justice and righteousness.  Many Christians are missing the point that social action is not done in order to communicate the gospel, but as a sign or evidence that the gospel has already been received and acted upon.”

In looking at these three simple answers to the question, “Why Go to the City,” it is easy for some of us to feel some emotions of conviction and guilt.  That is not the intention here at all, however do not ignore those feelings either.  Ask God to help you see where they come from and what it is He would like to teach you, or have you do about those feelings.

Renewing the City with Hope, Compassion and Justice

Do you feel compassion for those who are less fortunate?  Do you want to really make a difference in the lives of others?  Do you feel called to serve the poor or teach in an urban school?  Are you sensing a prodding to invest yourself in an under-served community?  Do you have a driving compulsion to reach at-risk youth and/or young adults in need?  If you feel the tug of these questions, you may be hearing your calling to serve.

Recently I was digging through some old files I used previously for training in youth outreach and educational settings.  I found an old document, titled “What Being a Youth Worker Ought to Do for You.” This one page of ought to statements have been passed around youth ministry circles for years.  When I worked for Young Life these words repeatedly helped challenge and encourage myself and others to serve.

These ought to statements are such a realistic, powerful and challenging set of truths.  I have used this piece and adapted it to fit many different scenarios; whether it has been working with privileged youth, under-served youth, schools, or whole communities.

Instructions: Read, allow time to marinate, and digest slowly.

WHAT SERVING THE POOR OUGHT TO DO FOR YOU

  • Ought to seem so unreachable and big that you can only see it through the eyes of Christ by faith.
  • Ought to be harder than you can handle on your own, to make you more dependent on God.
  • Ought to give you enough disappointments to make you humble and break your spiritual pride.
  • Ought to be difficult enough to make you weep for others, that you might become more compassionate.
  • Ought to have enough demanding, insensitive, ungrateful people in it to make you love like Jesus loves.
  • Ought to have enough impossible, insurmountable obstacles in it to teach you the goodness and power of God.
  • Ought to teach you how to love when you are tired, give when you are spent, and pray when you are weary.
  • Ought to teach you the power and truth of His word, the strength of His voice and the might of His commands.
  • Ought to teach you how to turn your mourning into dancing, your sadness into joy and your sorrow into laughter.
  • Ought to teach you to love the only One worthy of all our love – the One who became poor that you might become rich and unjust so that you might become just.

I offer these challenging reflections to any who feel called to be in service to the poor.  I offer them as a way to know the power of God, and hoping that this knowledge will lead us to move forward in renewing the city with compassion, hope, and justice.

Proverbs 29:7 NIV – The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

In close-knit societies, people are willing to help each other.  I have found this to be especially true in rural settings.  A perfect example of this happened in 1955 when my father was in his sophomore year at Texas Tech University.  He grew up on a farm and was the first of his immediate family to go to college. It was that year when my grandfather passed away from unexpected heart trouble.

It was very near to harvest time and my father knew he had no choice but to leave school and go back to the farm.  As he drove up the road leading to the farm, he saw unfamiliar images surrounding their two-story house.  As he arrived, he was greeted by 20 of their neighbor farmers and their tractors.  These neighbors understood the immediate challenge facing my dad’s family, and through their sense of community, they worked alongside my father and harvested over 150 acres in one day.  I have always remembered that inspiring experience my father shared with me.

Today, in our fast paced information age, we don’t often hear of our lives affecting others in this way.  We’ve alienated ourselves and tend to live in “little boxes” knowing little of our neighbors around us.  Inside the box called home we watch other boxes we call TV sets and computer monitors.  Seeing tragedy and bad news every day, we tend to become immune to suffering and need.  It is easy to not even be aware of our neighbors hurts or needs.

When we leave the box called home, we get into another box called an automobile and isolate ourselves once again as we speed through one neighborhood to another.  Rushing through an unfamiliar neighborhood, we check to make sure that our box is secure by locking the doors.

Arriving at work, we park our box next to all the others and walk briskly into yet another box, our office or work place.  At night we simply reverse the process.  Most days we move quickly from one box to another, feeling insecure and unsure when we are outside our normal confines.

Bringing hope to our cities and under-served communities for most of us means we have to venture outside of our “boxes” in which we feel so familiar and secure.  It is worth it… there are so many that are near & dear to the heart of God outside of our boxes.  Let’s break out of these boxes and look for places and people who need compassion, hope and justice!

Thanks to my friend Cori Leigh whom I affectionately call “sister-missionary” with the Across the Street Outreach for encouraging me to begin this blog!