Happy Resurrection Sunday 2010

He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Matthew 28:6

Today is an international holiday for people of the Christian faith. It is the day that we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today is meaningful for so many reasons, but the most significant reason is that it gives the Christian the basis for our belief that, as part of our salvation, God the Father can literally allow us to die to our former disbelieving selves and be reborn into a new creation, one who can believe in the heart and declare with the mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He died for our sins and was reborn as we must necessarily be.

For years I have taught my kids that today is not about rabbits, eggs, candy or baskets. While the holiday that most of us know as Easter has been historically wrapped up in all of these things – much like Christmas has become about gift giving and wrapping paper and trees and lights – I think it is important to know that for Christians, today is about one thing: the rebirth of our Lord after death and entombment.

Yes, the colorful aspects of today are fun. By all means, enjoy that time. Get your kids Easter baskets. Color some eggs together. Get fatted up on chocolate bunnies and Peeps. But if are a Christian, I would encourage you today to consider the sacrifice made on Calvary for you and I, and the subsequent victory ensured us by the happenings of today all those years ago.

He endured punishment of the worst kind so we wouldn’t have to. He died in the flesh so we could die to the flesh. And He rose so that we might, in Him, have victory even over death. Because of today, we have an open door to God the Father and eternity in heaven.

If you are a Christian, today is a big day for you and you should celebrate it as such. If you are not a Christian, enjoy the bunnies and eggs and the family time. Either way, enjoy your day today. Because regardless of your spiritual beliefs, if what the Bible says is really true – which I believe it is – Christ didn’t just die for me. He died for all of us. And He rose for all of us, too.

Corraling Christians, Twitter style

Earlier today I ran across a tweet from Jon Brodkin (@JBrodkin) on Twitter that I thought was unusual, odd and somewhat counter to what Christianity teaches Christians:

are you Christian? Do you think Twitter has too many heathens? It’s time to start posting on Christian Chirp! http://www.christianchirp.com/
11:15 AM Nov 3rd from TweetDeck

Now I have no idea if Jon is a Christian, if he has something to do with the site or anything at all about him. I just want to make sure that I am clear about that in this post. Whatever I say here has nothing to do with him, his beliefs or anything at all related to him.

In looking at that site my first thought was “why would Christians want to further alienate and segregate themselves in a society in which few people see them in a positive light?”. Seriously, Christians have taken a bad rap for a lot of stuff over time and have given many people a lot of reasons for thinking the way they do about them. As a Christian I struggle sometimes with the call on me and the way that those that I look to for leadership represent that call. I wrote about that a few days ago and the struggle that I feel with how complacent Christians have become – in my opinion – and how far off the mark it seems that we have become in doing what we have been commanded to do.

In looking at ChristianChirp.com I can’t help but see that all over again. I can understand why Christians would want an environment for themselves. I mean, after all, churches have been doing that for ages. But why would Christians choose to run from “heathens” when there is a huge potential for ministry in social media? Hanging around a social site filled with other Christians seems totally counter to “going out into all the world and preaching the gospel”. I mean, Christians should be going into the dark places and pulling down strongholds, reaching out to those in need regardless of whether there might be heathens there, stepping into those areas where those that need the gospel the most are lurking.

The more I see things like this crop up the more I think that Christians are losing their collective minds as it relates to the great commission. I can’t save a single soul if I am trapped in a room full of saved Christians. And while I appreciate the need for Christians to have a place to mingle amongst themselves for a time, I still think that church should be that time and the rest of the time we have should be spent ministering first to our families then to those immediately around us.

And I can’t see at all how we can do that when we are only mingling with and interacting with Christians.

Christianity: ur doin it wrong

Our family got back to church today for the first time in a long time. Part of me missed the community of the church. Another part of me was just plain pissed off.

What I believe about Christianity
I believe the bible. I believe it is the divinely inspired word of God. I believe the God of the Bible is my God, my heavenly Father, and that His son Jesus is the Christ, that He was sent to Earth to redeem us from sin and to allow us to fellowship with the Father in heaven after our death.

I believe that as Christians we have been given an enormous responsibility to love and serve our Lord, love and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ and to profess the gospel of our Lord Jesus to the entire world.

I believe there are rules that we have to live by and there are commands that we must obey. And I believe, at this moment, that most Christians are screwing this up.

The commandments
Pretty much everyone in any advanced nation has heard the ten commandments. Some people may have had to memorize them at one point. Some people may even know them off the top of their head.

Every Christian should know these commandments, or at the very least, know where to find them. These instructions form the basis for any Christian’s religious beliefs. But regardless of your religious background, there is a pretty good chance you have run across this list before:

  1. Have no other gods before God the Father.
  2. Do not make for yourself any idol in any form.
  3. Do not take the name of your Lord God in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your mother and your father.
  6. Do not kill.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. Do not covet that which belongs to your neighbor.

For Christians what is required of us does not stop at these ten commandments. Jesus Himself gave us two more (Matt 22):

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

So in addition to what we were told by God the Father, we also have two more, very important, instructions given to us by our Savior Jesus. And while this post is not at all the post where I discuss love and the type of love God has called us to, it is important to understand that after loving God with everything you have, your next great instruction is to love your neighbor even as you love yourself.

The great commission
After Christ was resurrected He revealed himself to several people. At the end of the book of Mark, He again gave us a command that is often referred to as the Great Commission (Mark 16:15):

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Now the stage is set for how Christians are really supposed to live. First of all, we are to love our God with all we have. Then we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Then we are to go into all the world and tell everyone about the good new of the Lord Jesus. Yes, the entire world.

Christians, where you at?
One of the things that has bothered me the last few years within the Christian church is how complacent the church seems to be. I have not ever received a call from my pastor just to check on me. Now in his defense, our church is very large, so it is not necessarily practical for him to call everyone in his church. Still, there are a lot of staff members that could reach out to the congregation, yet it seems like they all wait for the member to contact them.

I have also noticed what seems like a complete lack of outreach in our church. It appears that no one wants to go out and reach out to “the lost”. Seriously, it looks like throughout the Christian church that the prevalent attitude is “if you are hurting, if you’re in need, come to the house of the Lord and be taken care of”. That is so not how Christ did things.

It also seems like we are very quick to help people in other areas, other countries, other situations while at the same time neglecting those people that are closest to us. This can be your immediate family, your extended family or even your next door neighbor. Regardless, why is it that some Christians are totally fine with traveling to Africa or India or South America to minister while passing by their neighbor’s house without ever asking how they are doing? Why does it seem like Christians just don’t care about anyone?

If we are supposed to be Christ-like it would make sense to me that there would be some localized motion in the church. Christ took the good news to the masses, but he didn’t pass by His own folks. He talked to everyone, not with judgment or anger or condemnation, but with conviction and love. He didn’t wait for people to come to Him – though they did come to Him – but rather went out and sought out those that He could love into the kingdom. And he didn’t pass people by.

I am hungry to see this type of ministry presented in the Christian church. And I am more than a little hesitant to step out to do this on my own, seeing as I am pretty sour at the church right now and I am afraid I would only minister anger and discontentment if I were to reach out to anyone right now.

Still, in this midst of what I see as total confusion surrounding the call on Christians, my prayer is that someday the true commission of Christ to His church will be fulfilled, that Christians will start to care about everyone, not just the sick children in Africa or the persecuted church in China or the polytheists in India. I pray that someday a Christian in my church, or even in my neighborhood, would listen to what was commanded him and actually step out, in love, and pursue his neighbor, ask me how I’m doing or if he can pray for me and actually love me, for who I am, how I am and where I am.

On the third day

On the first day He was betrayed, brought before the religious leaders of the day and stood before those that hated him, accused of committing crimes that He did not commit. He did not defend himself against His accusers and did not hold them in contempt. He knew what He had to do and what He had to endure to bring to completion His mission. For His resolve He was forsaken, lied about, teased, mocked, beaten, humiliated, spat on, cursed, laughed and murdered. On the first day He died.

On the second day, while in the tomb prepared for Him, He battled against the enemies of God, taking back those that had gone before He had come. On a mission, He didn’t waver and kept the commandment given Him by His father. On the second day He battled.

On the third He did something He promised He would do yet none gave Him the slightest chance of accomplishing – He conquered death, rose from the grave and took back the dominion man had given Satan over us. He took His place as the resurrected son of the most high God and began the last events in His ministry that would ever see Him in person. On the third day, He rose again, conquered death and brought victory to all those that would call Him savior.

As we enjoy the festivities on this day – the candy, the bunnies, the eggs, the color, the food, the family, the friendship and the fellowship – I pray that we remember that today is a celebration of life, rebirth, grace and victory. Christ died for all.

Yes, all, the whole of humanity. Saint and sinner alike. Actually, mostly for the sinner since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. He died for the murderer, the cheater, the adulterer, the fornicator, the liar, the thief, the blasphemer, the rapist. He died for the man that cannot control his eye or his mouth. He died for the woman that has sexual inclination for another woman. He died for the disobedient child and the rebellious parent. He died for mankind, so that through His shed blood we could be cleansed of our sin and once again be able to fellowship directly with God the father.

Through grace we have been saved by faith. Faith that Christ was born of a virgin as the only begotten son of the living God. Faith that He walked the Earth as a man. Faith that He was betrayed and crucified. And faith that He ultimately rose again on the third day.

There is no earning salvation. There are no prerequisites to it either. The person that you are right now, the success or the failure, the dirty or the clean, the broken or the complete… you are exactly who Christ died for. Because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.

Even if you are not a Christian or are resistant to the message of love that embodies who Christ is, my prayer today is that you remember why we celebrate the day we celebrate today. May God bless you, whoever and wherever you are.

Christianity and the church

Since when has Christ been about getting people to church?
This morning at church my pastor showed a video he had put together as a pitch for his newest series that he is teaching. The series is about making church relevant and the pitch basically asked the question “What can we as Christians do to get those from the culture of the world… the unsaved, the student, the businessman, the Muslim (or other religion), the educated, etc … to church?”. As I sat and thought about that question for a minute the answer hit me like a ton of bibles. Stop trying to get people to church and start trying to take church to those people.

When did the focus of the gospel become about getting people to church? I understand the concept… get people to church where they can be fed, be led and be released into ministry. But even in that I am left wondering where the commandment was that Christ gave us to get people into a building.

If a church, as in a building, were so important don’t you think there would have been mention of the synagogue Christ attended in the bible? Or any temple for that matter? The Word does mention they attended, but the importance of the building seems to wane right there.

There is no mention of a specific synagogue or specific temple, and I think that this is because the church, as it is referred to in the bible is not about a building but about the community of believers that are inspired by the Word of God. When Paul wrote letters to the church at Ephesus, Corinth, Phillipi, etc, he wasn’t writing to the members of the First Assembly of God in Christ in that city, or the First Presbyterian Church in that city. No, he was writing to the body of Christ in that city, the community of believers that were gathered there. Somehow church has moved away from being the community of believers it used to be to now being a building where you can worship, pray, cry, hug and do all the things one does when they are “in church”.

I am not part of the Christian church because on Sundays and Wednesdays I go to Jubilee Christian Center. I attend that church, but I am a Christian, a member of the Christian community, the collective body that calls itself by the name of the Son of God. I don’t need a building to tell me that I am Christian. And neither do new believers.

In our zeal and zest to win souls for Christ I think us Christians are losing the breadth of the greatest commandments we were given by Christ: Love God, love your neighbors, love yourself, preach the gospel.

Why should we have to convince anyone of the love of God?
When is the last time someone had to convince you to go to the grocery store to get food so you and your family could eat? It seems stupid to even ask that question. We already know that if we need to get something to feed ourselves we go to where the supply is and get some.

Yet we as Christians are constantly trying to convince people that they need to stop living the way they are living and they need to go to church so they can be saved. Or we constantly try to get people to attend a church service with the hope or prayer that by attending that one service they will miraculously and immediately give their hearts to God and become a Christian. If we preach the gospel, the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ, why would there be a need for convincing? It is the good news.

If someone is hungry spiritually they will find food. If they are yearning for love, real love, they will seek it out and eventually they will find it. They don’t need to be convinced that they need love or that they are hungry. They just need to be shown where the source of the supply is.

Imagine if a Christian actually did what Christ commanded and loved someone, regardless of their skin color, political affiliation, sexual orientation, lifestyle, age or cultural heritage. What could happen if we showed someone the love of Christ? And if they see it, and get hungrier for the blessings of God, what are the chances that they will seek a source of replenishment? Do you think you would need to convince them to go to the store to get the resource they’d need to be fed?

Yet we push on people as though they are some number, some statistic that would look good on a sheet of paper as we stand before the gates of heaven and the Judgment of God. “Look Father, I saved this many souls. See?”. Why do I see God looking on that and responding with “And how many of them did you love without cause, as I have commanded you?”.

Where is all this coming from?
I am really not sure why I have such an issue right now with Christianity as usual. I am just getting more and more turned off by how much of the bible we expect everyone else to learn while we choose to live outside of that covering. We are children of the most high. He is not only our God, he is our Father and our King. We don’t need to convince anyone they are royalty. We only need to show them that they are loved by the King like we are loved.

But in order to do that we need to come to grips with the fact that that we are loved. And not for our works or souls won or church days attended or offerings given. We are loved because it pleases God to love His creation. He wants fellowship with us and wants us to bask in the love and mercy and grace and abundance and blessing that only He can give.

God’s love is so much bigger than any person can imagine, it is bigger than words and bigger than anything we could ever even dream. But no one who doesn’t know this will ever learn this if we, His chosen generation, continue to focus on putting a warm body in a chair while we completely forget to show them what love is, and specifically what God’s love is all about.

It is my hope and prayer and desire to learn what it means to be loved by God. I struggle with this as much as the next guy. I know I am loved, but I sometimes wonder if the wretched person I am can separate me from that love. A part of me still wonders if God can really love a person like me. Most of me knows, however, that He loves me more than anything else in the world. I am the apple of His eye and He would willingly die for me.

In fact, He proved that He would on Calvary. Now if I could only wrap my head around how to show others that the same love God has for me he has for all I would so be able to put some feet to this disdain I have with “winning souls” and get to the business of loving my neighbor.

When Christians go crazy

This morning at church my pastor told us of a story about a pastor in Illinois that was shot dead in front of his entire congregation this morning. Very little news was offered about this at the time but more information surfaced later that has brought about a little more information:

Investigators have charged a 27-year-old man with first-degree murder in the shooting of a pastor at a church in Maryville, Illinois, authorities said Monday.

Fred Winters, the pastor of the First Baptist Church, was shot and killed during an 8 a.m. service Sunday, and the attacker and two members of the congregation suffered knife wounds in the attack, authorities said.

Incidents like these are very difficult for me to wrap my mind around. I know that times get tough. I know some people have mental issues which would make something like this make sense to them. But I still get so flabbergasted by things like this because they make absolutely no sense to me at all.

Truth is I don’t want to understand this. My heart goes out to the minister’s family, those that were hurt directly by the incident and those that were affected both directly and indirectly by the incident. For those Christians out there that might be reading this, this is not a call to hole yourself up in your home and stop going to church. This is indeed an opportunity for you to put your faith into practice and step boldly into the throneroom of you God. Fear cannot be allowed to take hold of anyone in this.

I would ask that you join me in praying for that church, the pastor’s family, the suspect, his family and everyone else that this has hit.

I do not like your Christians

Mohandas Ghandi is quoted as saying:

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

westboro baptist church and gandhiThis statement makes a lot of sense to me given the nature of the Christian church today. We have blown it so bad as a religious group that many people have no idea who Christ is because his ambassadors are so tore up.

But the most ironic part of Ghandi’s quote about Christians is that he made it some time before 1948, when he died. That means that in the last sixty years we, as Christians, have really not changed much. Please understand that this is not meant to be a blanket statement covering all Christians. Every religion has its wierdos and freaks. Christianity surely does. But isn’t it somewhat beneficial for the religious group to at least try to make its image a bit more, well, in line with its ideals?

Something I have noticed lately, even from the pulpit at times, is that in an effort to be a strong Christian we have sort of lost site of the fact that Christianity is about taking the message of the cross to all the world. We are not supposed to be bringing a message of stupidity to those we feel are in need of our salvation the most. We are not supposed to try to save the saved. The message is simple and unchanged: Love.

Love is the primary commandment of Christ. When Christians become judgemental fools the only message that is taken to anyone is foolishness. We cannot embody the image of love if we are broadcasting that we cannot love. And I am not talking about toleration, but true love, the love that can look right past the outwards appearance of sin (to a Christian) and look right into the heart of the person.

I think when Christian begin to learn that there is a heart in everyone regardless of the actions of that person Christians will begin to understand how it is God loved humanity enough to send His Son to die for all of mankind.

National athiest day

A recent line of text caught my eye. It read FLORIDA COURT SETS ATHEIST HOLY DAY. Intrigued, I had to read more.

In Florida, an atheist created a case against the upcoming Easter and Passover holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians, Jews and observances of their holy days. The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days.

The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, “Case dismissed!”.

The lawyer immediately stood, objecting to the ruling saying, “Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my client and all other atheists have no such holidays.”

The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, “But you do. Your client, counsel, is woefully ignorant.”

The lawyer said, “Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists.”

The judge said, “The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day. Psalm 14:1 states, ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God.’ Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned.”

Of course, as I read this, in the form of an email, I couldn’t help but think about the disparity between the two sides of the house, if you will. On the one side you have a group of people that vehemently and adamantly deny the existence of God and attempt, at every turn, to dissolve any potential for anyone to believe there is a God. They tend to call those that believe in God fools, dependent and weak because of some cosmic need to have a higher power to lean on.

Then on the other hand you have a group of people that vehemently and adamantly declare belief that there is a God and, at every turn, attempt to convince everyone else that God is not only very real but loves them very much. These people often refer to atheists as fools or weak or rebellious.

So as cute as the little story was I am left with this odd feeling that it misses the point. At the end of the day will there be a place for name calling in heaven? Is there a place for it now? If you are an atheist and you have no God to pray and you do it all on your own what business is it of yours to place a label or judgement upon those that believe in their God?

And if you are a Christian then there is no place for judgement at all among you. Judgement is reserved for the Lord.

Yes, I know I let my tongue get the best of me from time to time. But I honestly can’t but think that God doesn’t want us to call those that do not believe like us “fools”. No, instead I think he wants for us to pray for everyone on their behalf. After all, if Christ is the son to God the father, and God is love, and Jesus’ message was a message of love, shouldn’t we show some of it? Just a thought, to chew on a little…

In honor of Dr. King – Marching ahead in difficult times

Few men have had the ability to capture the attention of the nation like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His natural ability to speak to men of all races and religions in a way that was relevant to the moment still has not been matched to this day. He used peace, knowledge, unity and the spoken word to reach out to and influence millions of people in the 50’s and 60’s.

He led the struggle for equality and freedom for black men and women with dignity, grace, strength and courage and he did it in a peaceful way. He embodied the essence of manliness, leadership, Christianity and selflessness throughout his time fighting against racial injustice. He was what all men should aspire to be.

In honor of Dr. King’s birthday I felt it appropriate to offer up two of the most memorable speeches he gave. The first, which is arguably my favorite of his speeches, was given the night before he was assassinated. You can tell by the words he spoke and the look on his face that he knew something was going to be going down soon. He knew that his life was in danger. Yet he did what he did. He did not waiver, he did not cower. He led. Up until his death he led.

I pray that all men would be able to have the fortitude and courage that Dr. King exudes in this clip. The text of the speech follows the video:

We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountain top. And I don’t mind.

Like anybody I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.

And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the promise land.

I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promise land.

So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The next speech is possibly the most famous of speeches he ever gave. One that has been quoted in pieces since the day it was given, August 28, 1963, in Washington DC. Oddly, this speech is about 15 minutes long and contains some of the most challenging and poignant statements I have ever heard from anyone, let alone a man leading a large group of people in a fight for racial equality. The words he spoke, the challenges he offered up, would still serve as a challenge today for many that would fight a fight of injustice.

Again, the text of the speech follows the video:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am not a black man. I am a man of color, but not in the traditional sense of a minority that has been wronged because of my heritage. However, I can still say thank you to a man that defined the premier method of fighting the good fight. Because of Dr. King many minorities has been afforded the right and freedom of equality. Our country owes a great debt to Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

California has spoken on marriage once again

There were probably no greater a controversial ballot proposition this past election than that of Proposition 8 in my home state of California. The erroneously named “Same-sex marriage ban” proposition had gotten the attention of just about every state in the nation along with just about every media outlet in the nation. It was one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive proposition campaign ever and it is likely to be far from over now that California has, for the second time, voted to recognize marriage as being between a man and a woman.

For those unfamiliar to this proposition (have you been living under a rock?), the entire premise of the proposition is the adding of the following text to the California constitution:

“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.”

Somehow this has gotten the name of the “Same-sex marriage ban” proposition. The “OFFICIAL TITLE AND SUMMARY” as “PREPARED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL” in the California voter guide was “ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME–SEX COUPLES TO MARRY”. It was even referred to in some circles as the “Gay Marriage ban” proposition.

I have to tell you I was extremely disappointed with just about every aspect of Proposition 8 with the exception of it’s passing. The text of the proposed constitutional amendment was the exact same text that was proposed in the 2000 election under proposition 22. The text of the law specifically states “marriage between a man and woman”. Minor apologies to those of you who believe that this was a same-sex issue, but the reality of it is that this proposition was for people that believe marriage to be between a man and woman. This was not a “same-sex” issue, it was a “marriage between a man and woman” issue.

I found it ironic that so many people turned the desire of a group of people that want to protect marriage into something that was based on same-gender marriage or homosexual marriage. That is ludicrous. And to say it eliminated rights is just as ludicrous. In 2000 the people of the state of California voted to make marriage valid only when between a man and woman. 52 of 58 counties voted for Prop 22. It was passed overwhelmingly by the people of the state.

Eight years later four judges, four, on the California supreme court overruled the people’s decision stating the Prop 22 was unconstitutional because it discriminated against couples of the same gender that sought marriage. Since when have judges been given the right to overturn vote results? If they can do that, why vote at all? Why not just ask judges to pass all of our laws for us?

So they did. They overturned Prop 22 and for the last five and a half months marriages were being performed between couples of the same gender. They in effect handed the right of marriage to people that up until that time did not have the right to marry under that context. Keep in mind that people of the same gender that have sought to become united have been able to do so for some time now under California’s and America’s laws recognizing civil unions. The only difference is that the term “marriage” has not been recognized in California as marriage unless it was between a man and a woman. Until the judges got involved.

So their decision then gave the Attorney General the ability to label Proposition 8 as “Eliminates the rights of same-sex couples to marry”. Astonishing. Why not read the text of the proposed law and label the proposition as such? “Recognizes marriage as being between a man and a woman”. That sounds more like the proposed law to me.

For the record I want to say that I have no ill feelings toward anyone. I don’t hate homosexual people. I am not afraid of homosexual people. I am not mad at homosexual people. My opinions on marriage are not about the choices people make in their lifestyle. They are about what I believe marriage is. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Period.

I do, however, get bothered somewhat by folks that believe that because someone makes a choice they should be granted rights that they would not normally have had they not made that choice. These are the people that make statements associating homosexuality to ethnicity or gender. People that believe the struggle of the homosexual community is akin to the struggle of African-Americans that marched with Dr. Martin Luther King or Malcolm X. People that associate homosexuality to me being a male or me being Mexican. Thanks for trying to make your point but please do not place your sexual preference in the same category as my ethnic heritage or my gender. I didn’t choose to be a man nor did I choose to be Mexican. Homosexuality cannot be compared to these.

It can be compared to being a Christian. Or being a smoker. Or being a Republican. Those are all choices that are made. And not one of them carries with it a privilege afforded it simply because one aligns himself or herself with that particular group. A smoker that is told to smoke outside a restaurant because it is a non-smoking restaurant is not being discriminated against. The smoker chooses to smoke and must smoke according to the law.

A man that wants to marry has every right to marry. But if that man chooses to wed another man, according to the law, he cannot. He can unite with the other man in a civil union. But he cannot marry him. Simple. Understandable. Nondiscriminatory.

I am glad the political campaigning is over. I am glad the elections are over. And I am glad that Proposition 8 passed. I know this is not over yet. We live in a state where when certain people don’t get what they want they throw a fit and scream until someone bends. I can assure you there will still be noise on this matter for some time.

But I can also assure you that the state of California has spoken in a mighty voice and it has said clearly that marriage, regardless of your position on it, is supposed to be between a man and woman. It is clear. It is understandable. And now it is constitutional.