White Like Me

I remember picking up the book Black Like Me at a friend’s house sometime in 1964 as an eighth grade student. Published in 1961 it was the account of a white journalist’s travels in the Deep South disguised as a black man at a time when racial tensions in our country were strained. His objective was to experience life from the other side.

To say the least it was an eye-opening read for a young white boy. Although I was raised in California, my contacts with people who were not like me were limited. In all of my formative years I had one Asian friend, Wesley and one black friend, Leonard. In addition there were a handful of children of Hispanic immigrant workers, who came in and out of school. Many of them never stayed long; their parents were following the crops.

The vast majority of people I knew were White. Like. Me.

That situation leads to a very narrow perspective. When you only know people like you, you don’t learn that differences exist. You think, especially at a young age, that the world is filled with people who are exactly like you. People who look like you. People who think like you. People who have the same values and outlook on life as you.

That first exposure to the real world where differences exist, even through a book, can be a upsetting to your little world. That was what happened to me as I read the story of John Howard Griffin’s journey into another world. A world that I knew little about.

We have a similar problem today.

Not that we don’t know about the others, but that we don’t want to know. We want to live with blinders on. To act like they aren’t there – if we ignore them they might go away. If we oppose them they will run. If we shout loud enough we won’t hear what they are saying.

We want people to be like us, especially if we’re from a European descent. It’s just easier that way.

The problem that many people have is that the immigrants who are ruining America aren’t like us. The LGBT crowd that is destroying the morals of our country isn’t like us.

And it’s true – they’re not.

But that’s not the most crucial factor, especially for Christians.

What’s important is that they are people. And for the Christian – at least for those who really care what God thinks and what the Bible says – that’s more important than what they look like, or where they came from or even what they believe or how they act.

They are people who are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). People God loves (John 3:16). People who can be reached with the gospel (Matthew 28:19). People who have an eternal destiny (Hebrews 9:27).

We need to stop wishing that the world (or our country) was different – that people were like us, and begin to see people with the eyes of God.

If we did, we wouldn’t care if they were White. Like. Me.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

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What Will You Do With Another Year?

A year has ended and a new year is here. Some people, especially the young, look forward to a new year with all of its possibilities and potential. Others, mostly older people, aren’t so enthusiastic about another year with its trials and hardships.

Whichever group you fit into, the reality is the same for everyone – it’s here! You can’t stop it; you can’t change it; you can’t avoid it.

It is a set reality that the old year has gone and a new year has come. And that means several things.

It means that you are a year older and have one year less on your personal calendar.

It means that some opportunities have been lost to the past, never to be recovered.

It means that for some things in your life that you messed up there are no “do-overs”.

It means that certain things are now in the dust bin of history.

But a new year is here and that too is significant.

It means that you are a year wiser and can achieve more in a year’s time than before.

It means that you will have new, unexpected opportunities.

It means that you can determine to do things right the first time this time.

It means that you can live so that at the end of this year, when the actions of your life are relegated to the dust bin of history, they will be seen as achievements not as failures.

The question for all of us is: What will you do with another year?

Will it just be another year, like so many past years, that comes and goes? Or will it be unlike any other year of your life?

Will you live it to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

Will you achieve great things for the kingdom of God (John 9:4)?

Will you influence someone’s life for eternity (Matthew 5:14-16)?

Will you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)?

A typical year has 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months. It’s the same for all of us. No one gets an advantage.

The success or failure of a new year is not in the advantage of time, it’s in how you use the time that is the same for all of us.

Use it wisely (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

Spirituality by Osmosis

We all know it’s not possible. You can’t become spiritual by osmosis – the process of unconsciously assimilating something while you sleep. You won’t wake up one morning more spiritual than you went to bed the night before.

It just doesn’t work that way – but we act like it does.

Growing in spirituality is a process. But it’s more than simply a process – it’s an intentional process. You have to choose to be godly and then take the proper steps to move in that direction.

And that’s where so many Christians today come up short. They want to be more godly but they don’t want to do what it takes to be more godly. There is a spiritual neglect evident in the church today. Call it spiritual laziness.

Some people blame it on our culture. We live in a culture that wants instant access to everything. So we have fast food. We have same day delivery. We have apps that eliminate the need to wait for a cab, a date, a table at your favorite restaurant or the latest movie.

When was the last time you were upset with your computer because it didn’t load fast enough?

And we want our spirituality to be served up the same way. Easy and fast.

But blaming the culture is too easy. And it eliminates personal responsibility. Your responsibility for your own godliness.

Yes, it’s true that without God’s work in our lives none of us would ever be spiritual (Psalm 127:1, John 15:4-5, Philippians 2:13, 4:13). But every command of scripture tells us that we also have a part in God’s plan and a responsibility to grow in grace (Ephesians 4:15, Hebrews 12:14, 1 Peter 2:1-2, 2 Peter 3:18). You have a responsibility for the level of your spirituality. It won’t happen by osmosis.

Here’s how scripture describes it.

Reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

Pursue peace with all people, and [pursue] holiness; without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

From a human perspective it’s up to you.

Fortunately God has provided the means to godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). God has given us everything we need to become spiritual people. The old theologians called them the spiritual disciplines. They were talking about things found in the Bible that, if practiced on a consistent basis, would promote holiness of life. Included among the spiritual disciplines are bible reading and study, prayer, fasting, worship, meditation, and service. There are others and depending on who you read the lists will verily slightly. The point is that there are specific things that you can do – that you need to do to promote holiness in your life.

Practiced on a consistent basis with a humble heart, the result of the spiritual disciplines will be spiritual growth. Ignore them consistently and you will be a spiritual pygmy. Or as scripture says, a spiritual infant (Hebrews 5:12-13).

If you would like to know more about the spiritual disciplines we’re teaching on them in our Adult Bible Fellowship at SVBC or you can read Donald Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, published by NavPress.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve