Friday, November 11, 2016

The Differences Don’t Matter

Coach Christopher G. Green

Opinion Editorial

Many years ago, in the early days of our community outreach, there was a particular Sunday on which our family went out to eat at one of those all-you-can-eat-smorgasbord restaurants. People from other churches, fellowships and assemblies were scattered around the room, all sitting at their tables laughing and talking.
Suddenly I heard the awful sound of someone gagging and choking. Children began to scream and without hesitating, I jumped up and ran over to that table across the room. When I got there, a woman leaned back in her chair, her eyes bulging and a horrible noise, like a gargle, was coming from her throat. The people at the table were yelling and the children were crying. I quickly got behind her and tried to lift her up to perform the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge whatever was stuck in her throat. My effort was futile as fear and despair began to fill my heart. 

Then, out of nowhere, a rather tall and husky young man was standing next to me and helping me to lift the woman. Once we got her to her feet, he got behind her, wrapping his arms around her, and with a couple of powerful thrust, dislodged the food. She began to breathe and burst into grateful tears. 

There are no words to describe the tears of joy that came to everyone at that table. The young man and I just shook hands. Eventually, the paramedics arrived and we all returned to our tables, gathering with our various families, where we rehearsed the event over and over again.

It occurred to me as I rejoined my family, that in that moment of crisis, that none of our differences mattered. It did not matter what church the woman attended. The young man did not stop and ask me about my religious or political beliefs. We did not ask the woman her religious or political beliefs. All that mattered was that her life was slipping away before our eyes, and we could not just stand there and watch it happen. 

I remember how my wife hugged me and told me how proud she was, and even though that did a lot for my confidence as a man, even that was not the reason for trying to help the woman. All that mattered was the saving of that life. An actual crisis changed our lives forever. It changed the very reason we’re working in the urban community today.

That day in that restaurant, it became clear that this is the way we are to see life. People are choking and dying all around us, yet those of us who have the power to change things, are spending our time fighting over our differences instead of saving the lives of those who are choking on injustice, poverty, strife and division. My wife and I work with the homeless and the unemployed, so we’re always around people who are choking on despair, disappointment, and discouragement. Wouldn't it have been ridiculous for me and the young man to have gotten into a fight with each other instead of working together to help the choking woman?

I tell you this true-life event from my life because I felt you needed to understand a little more about what it means to CARE. You see, when we say we really don’t focus on the division and strife amongst people, we really mean it. We realize there are people who won’t agree with all of our religious beliefs, our core values and our strategies for connecting with people in the urban world. We won’t agree with all of theirs. But it doesn’t matter when we hear that choking sound coming from hearts and homes. 

We realize there are people groups who have had negative clashes and personal conflicts in their history with one another, but we’re working for the time to come when we can lay down the social, economic and political weapons that are pointed at one another and start responding to the choking people all around us.

I feel the same way now as I did that day when I ran over and tried to help the woman. The key was that I couldn’t do it all by myself.  I needed the help of another man, who was most likely from another religious or political background, who probably did not agree with all of my beliefs or all of my core values. We didn’t even ask each other any questions after saving the woman’s life.  It just didn’t matter.

Christopher G. Green
Lead Instructor
Fruitful Life Learning Community

World Civility Ambassador, Dr. Clyde Rivers calls Coaches Chris and Carol Green the leading skilled experts in rebuilding, restoring and renewing hearts and homes. The Greens are certified master life coaches who founded the Fruitful Life Network, Inc. an innovative community care and coaching outreach.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Called to Reconciliation

Christopher G. Green
Fruitful Life Learning Community

Opinion Editorial

The unimaginable has happened and Donald Trump has been elected as the next President of the United States of America.  While millions are rejoicing, rebellions and protests are breaking out all over the country.

As I have written and warned in previous blogs, many in the American Christian Church were choosing sides. Millions of Believers were voting based on issues of liberty (religious, civil, moral, etc.). On the other hand, millions were voting based on issues of justice (economical, social, political, etc.). 

Please don't be duped. Get out of your feelings and emotions and really listen to what I’m saying. We cannot win this battle by seeking victory for only one side or the other (liberty or justice).  In our pledge of allegiance, the quote is "liberty AND justice" for ALL.  If you fight for liberty at the expense of justice, there will be an uprising from those who are not getting justice. If you fight for justice at the expense of liberty, the entire country will pay the price, falling under the tyranny of the vocal majority.

So how do we get both liberty and justice for all?

I believe both are found only in one government and that is the Kingdom (Government) of God.  I'm talking about the governance of God in every heart and home.

Now let me make it practical for what is happening in America today. The ugly giants of racism and class-ism are rising and Christian Believers will not be able to ignore them any longer.  In today’s world, silence is approval of the suppression of liberty or justice.  We must recognize it in our own hearts and expose it in our own Churches. We must deal with the -isms, but joining with or simply ignoring the protests, even in your own heart, is not the way.

The slumbering giant (the True Church) is waking up. It is waking to its mission to win and disciple the nations, to take care of the poor and widows, and to walk and live in unity and love. 

We are Ambassadors of Christ, called to the Ministry of Reconciliation. We are not called to merely fight for liberty, but we must join the fight for justice as well. We can no longer leave these battles to the government or radical activist groups.

A violent overthrow of President-elect Trump and the White Supremacy mindset that is often attached to many of his supporters, will not bring peace, liberty or justice.  If that were to occur, people would not unite. Instead, such action would only release another set of protests; perhaps a major revolt. 

I'm not a Republican. I'm not a conservative (many people's code word for racist).  I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a progressive (many people's code word for atheist). I’m another one of those registered Independents who has, through the years, sometimes voted for write-ins at the Presidential level, while voting according to my understanding of Biblical priorities at the state and local levels of government. So I have no allegiance to any earthly parties. I ‘m not writing from those perspectives.

The problem is that now, at least half of America sees the majority of the Christian Church as being on the same side as the racist groups who are unsympathetic to the issues of justice. That's a huge problem.

Let me start here. 

My government is within me: Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost. On the earth, I can vote for a president, but in reality, I have a king. He is the God of the universe. He told Pontius Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world."  

So our role, in this emerging racial and class war, is to promote reconciliation. That's what the Word of God declares. It’s not an opinion. It's the command of God.

Reconciliation is about bringing opposing forces and enemies together. Every one of us, in the True Church, is called to THIS. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. His word declares that He now pleads to the world through us. 

Over the last week I’ve had to tell myself to get back in focus. Get back to the reason God saved me. Get back to the place where I kept my eyes on the Lord our God.  Let’s seek first the Kingdom of God and get His strategy to reconcile the fight for liberty with the fight for justice. He will do amazing things in the hearts of people.

God says in His word: “Why do the nations rage, imagining a vain thing?” God laughs from the heaven because He has already installed His king. His king is installed in the hearts of His people and they already have a government. They already have a purpose because GOD already has a plan.  His plan is Reconciliation. He desires to reconcile people to Himself and people to one another. 

So, before we try to fix America, let’s allow God to work IN us, so He can speak THROUGH us to bring reconciliation.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It's Still a Matter of the Heart


Prior to the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, we offered no political opinions. We simply presented the spiritual and moral issues that are identified in the Bible. Unfortunately, the issues and interpretations of morality, justice and equality have fallen on two different sides of the dominant political parties in America.

This dilemma causes many Believers to vote for a president who is a Democrat and then vote for Senators and Congressmen who are Republicans in order to balance the scales. Or they vote for a Republican president and then vote for Senators and Congressmen who are Democrats. This is why it’s so difficult to navigate through the political process in our country. It’s also the reason it’s so difficult to explain one’s choices to family, friends and colleagues.

Here is what we wrote nearly eight years ago and it is incredibly amazing how it still applies to us today:

After we sent an email on the day of President Obama’s inauguration and quoted from the Bible that we are to pray for him, several pastors and leaders in this community, who opposed Obama, discontinued support and communication with this ministry and us. On the other side, friends and family who supported the new president took our email to mean that we were merely offering some form of insincere political patronizing.

We thought we were (and our intentions were) fulfilling our Pastoral leadership responsibility to bring our divided congregations together and to focus on the things that God desires to do in our nation. Our email had nothing to do with either endorsing or rejecting the President.

Here is what we sent out on January 21, 2009:

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers and intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone---for kings, and for all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior." 

---1 Timothy 2:1-3

Make no mistake about it; yesterday (the inauguration) was a profoundly significant day. We still don’t agree with many of President Obama’s policies and agendas. Many of them conflict with Biblical teachings. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that God will use anybody to accomplish what HE wants to do in a nation.

Where did we get the idea that a political leader MUST be someone who follows all of the principles of the Bible in order for God to use that person to accomplish His purpose and plan? 

Again, I’m not ignoring the agenda of the President. We’re actually acknowledging the sovereignty of God. As flawed as we are as human beings, it’s amazing that God chooses us to do anything in this life. 

God called Nebuchadnezzar His servant even though he was the emperor that destroyed Jerusalem, killing thousands of people, and carried their best and brightest into exile. God chose him to execute judgment; therefore he was God’s servant even though he wasn’t a Godly man. 

Presidential elections are about more than trying to get a scripture-quoting, Bible-toting candidate in the Oval Office. This is about getting synchronized with what God is doing in our lifetime in America. If America is under judgment, (and many Christian leaders believe it is) then God will set the person in place that needs to be there at the time of judgment, repentance, recovery or rebuilding.

So we’re going to stay focused on the bigger picture. It doesn’t matter so much who sits in the Oval Office of the White House. It still comes down to who is sitting in the Oval Office of MY house.

We'll close this week's newsletter with the lyrics of a song written by a dear mentor and friend more than 30 years ago.

If you want a brand new world, you gotta have brand new people.

If you want brand new people, we've gotta have a brand new life.
If you want a brand new life, you gotta have a brand new spirit.
If you want a brand new spirit, you gotta come to Jesus Christ!  
- Dr. Myles Munroe

We encourage you to cast your vote, but do not cast your cares on a human being. A potential candidate will get our votes, but only GOD gets all our confidence.

Christopher G. Green (D.Hon.Causa)