Challenge 20: Show Biblical Love

Christopher Brooks, senior pastor of Evangel Ministries in Detroit, speaks at the Christianity Today This is Our City party at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Christopher W. Brooks, senior pastor of Evangel Ministries in Detroit, speaks at the Christianity Today This is Our City party at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“Biblical love is doing whatever it takes to show someone the glory of God.”—Pastor Christopher W. Brooks during part 3 of his sermon series Encountering Jesus (February 24, 2013)

Take a Risk Challenge: While interacting with others this week, do whatever it takes to show others the glory of God. Expressing biblical love truly is displaying a radical act of love.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Finishing my blog post before my children arose, giving me time to plan for engaging them
God giving me the Finding Treasures activity for the boys
God giving me a new meal to cook that was delicious
Kamil calling to see if Nate was available to go to the zoo
Going to bed before 11 p.m.
God waking me up at 4:15 a.m. and giving me chapter content for Satisfying God, my discipleship lesson focus, more children’s activities ideas and parenting column ideas
Being able to complete two months’ of minutes for the LSCO
Discovering the God’s Eye craft is a ritual tool and magical tool
Joshua asking me to pray for him because he was frustrated about having to throw away his God’s Eye and me being able to share with him the things I had to discard that represented false gods
A quiet car on the way to pick up Joshua

Challenge 19: Sacrifice Your Life

Abolitionist William Still

Abolitionist William Still

    There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)

This month, like many of us, I have had a more concentrated focus on black history. I’ve told my boys stories, read them books, and we’ve watched documentaries and other special broadcasts. The theme that is constant in each is sacrifice. In the negative way, white people and others complicit with them sacrificed the lives of African Americans so the culprits could viciously and selfishly gain materially, financially and socially. Blacks died in the inhumane conditions of the Middle Passage, slavery and Jim Crow and have experienced and continue to struggle through redlining, the very real though often unwritten practice of discrimination against blacks.

In the positive way, many, many people—blacks, whites and others—sacrificed their lives for the health, social and financial welfare and dignity of black Americans. Enslaved black mothers and fathers took punishment and went hungry and cold so their children could have a semblance of a better life than they had. People like William Still, a free black man who was a conductor of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, gave up their comfortable lives so others could be free. They wrote; they spoke; they legislated; they rallied; they marched; they sacrificed whatever was necessary, their very lives even, to fight injustices, inhumanity, so others could be free.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!—Philippians 3:3-8

So we, like Jesus Christ and our ancestors, must sacrifice our lives so others can be free. We must work for people’s physical, financial, social, political and spiritual freedom. No one should be idle but should work in the way God leads them to lead others to freedom.

Take a Risk Challenge: Who will you risk your life for this week? I’m not necessarily saying take a bullet for someone, but we can all sacrifice our lives, the way we do things, what we are comfortable with, to show our love for others. Perhaps we will arise an hour earlier so we can give a ride to someone who doesn’t have a car and normally catches the bus in this cold weather. Maybe we can skip going out to lunch and give the money we would have spent to someone in financial need. Or maybe we could stop buying things we just don’t need and buy something that we know someone else could use. There is much we can do if we decide to sacrifice our lives for others. I mentioned some above. Below are some other ways. Of course you could come up with your own and please share in the comments section the ways you have or plan to sacrifice your life to perform a radical act of love.

  • Start a petition drive.
  • Organize a march.
  • Write letters.
  • Boycott businesses.
  • Post demands on social media.
  • Make your home a safe haven.

My One Thousand Gifts List

My husband initiating prayer this evening when he was dog tired
Joshua saying, “This house is so much fun” after I joked with him in a playful manner
Shakara, a young woman who accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior, not wanting to let me go from our hug because she was so happy and felt “so much better”
For clothes that don’t wear out
Water that flows from faucets
Being safe after a plastic bowl melted in the oven
Being firm, not harsh, with Nate though he challenged me all day and didn’t take a nap
Talking with a representative at Logos about the company possibly publishing my book
Nichole Christian for being such a great friend
Nate sleeping through the night

Challenge 18: Celebrate Blackness

Oscar Micheaux

Words have power. That we all know. But the real power, most times, is the action that backs up those words. In last week’s post I challenged us to renounce black hate, turning away from any way that we “told black to get back,” our way of distancing ourselves from the blackness God created: the people, characteristics and other areas associated with black peopl I hope that you searched your heart for God to show you what black hatred was there and you renounced what He showed you. Today I challenge you to take the next step.

You can celebrate Black History Month in your own space by this week creating new black history in your own life. I want you to replace whatever you renounced with some healthy action without being condescending, going overboard or in some other way being extreme. For instance, don’t approach the only black person that you work with that you rarely speak to and say something like “I just think all black people are beautiful, especially their kinky hair” or redecorating your house with all black artifacts or replacing your wardrobe with Afrocentric clothing. You know what God had you to renounce. He will show you what to reasonably do instead.

Perhaps you are white and are led to send a note of encouragement to a black person you know who’s having a rough season; perhaps you’re a black mother who decides not to straighten your daughter’s hair; or you have moved from the ghetto but God is leading you to pour back into that neighborhood by spending time with some of the people or consistently helping to physically rehabilitate that area. Perhaps you have to take a black history course or watch Oscar Micheaux movies and share what you learn with others or maybe God wants you to be prayer partners with someone you would not choose to be close with.

Take a Risk Challenge: Get before the Lord and let Him show you how to celebrate blackness in a sincere way.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Nate styling my hair to make me a “princess” and standing back to examine his work
Popping up out of sleep and knowing that God had me awake with a sense of urgency to have time to commune with Him before my day of ministry
An unexpected and edifying call from Latitia
The EACH resource fair (my presenting a poem there and interviewing people to chronicle the EACH story)
Hanging at the tennis courts seeing Joshua with lessons, Nathaniel and Justus play and Flynn hitting balls
Flynn offering and going to take Jan food for me
Waking up early enough to not feel rushed to get to church
Getting to church on time
Reading most of my Google parenting alerts
Sunny blue skies with an occasional breeze
Dianna Hobbs’ blog post on spiritual rest
Justus climbing on the couch to sit next to me while eating his apple and occasionally sighing satisfied
Having a grand outlook for the day
Not being fretful about working 6 ½ hours on my blog, running late to pick up Joshua, not getting a shower, not finding Nate’s shoes and my post not being delivered
An acquisitions editor from Logos Digital Publishing contacting me about being interested in possibly publishing my book
A publicist from Moody Publishers contacting me to review on my blog one of their books
God sparing Justus’ life after he fell in the bathtub of water
My friend getting a job developing programming for a television station and considering having me do some work with him

Challenge 17: Renounce Black Hate

alek wek

Before I reverted my hair back to its natural state 21 years ago, I had been going to the hairdresser every two weeks for almost 20 years; my mom began taking me when I was 4, saying she couldn’t do anything with my thick hair. So for the next 18 years I got my hair straightened with a hot comb, the blow dryer and finally relaxers and each of these methods changed the structure of my hair and even caused a thinning of my left edges which lasts until this day. My mom was only doing what she knew to do. When, still at 4, she had to wash my hair at home because my hairdresser was sick and she had to let it air dry because we didn’t own a dryer, I begged her to let me keep the afro my drying hair was becoming. She quickly told me she was going to press that “nappy _____.” Her declaration, an attack on my hair, began my struggle to embrace my natural hair, which I have always thought was beautiful. She thought differently, had been taught differently, but over the years she embraced her own natural hair, now having worn a short afro for about the last 10 years.

I had to wait until I was physically grown to embrace my hair, and my mom was really grown—60—when she embraced her hair. This may have been a long time for us, but it should be expected. Our culture has privileged whiteness over blackness for centuries, really pronounced when slave masters pitted house slaves against field slaves. The house slaves more often than not were the mulattos and the field slaves were the dark-skinned blacks. The house slaves didn’t have to work in the heat performing extreme physical labor. Their white skin, the result of a white slave master impregnating a black slave, allowed them the “privilege” to work closely with the slave master. In general during black American slavery, whites embraced that blacks were less than human, even years after slavery legalizing this twisted view with Jim Crow laws. And we still have laws written upon men’s hearts that manifest themselves with redlining, which is in full effect. When people constantly tell you that, treat you like and legalize you to be less of a person, it is hard not to believe it. We believe the old cultural saying “If you’re white, you’re all right; if you’re brown, stick around; it you’re black, get back.” And we all have told someone or some aspect of black to “get back” in one way or another.

Black women straighten their hair because they hate it “nappy.” Some of us won’t shop black businesses; we won’t hire black people; we won’t seek black expertise; we ignore black expertise when it’s given; we assume black shoppers and professionals are sales clerks, janitors or some other form of help; we think dark skin is ugly; we think dark people are mean, violent, dirty and other negatives associated with being dark. Some black folks bleach their skin and have surgery to slenderize their noses and lips in an effort to become privileged, to be accepted by the privileged, to get the benefits of white privilege. We hate blackness, but that’s not biblical.

From one man (God) created all the nations throughout the whole earth.—Acts 17:26 (NLT)

When God created everything, including humankind, He saw that it was good (Genesis 1:31). That didn’t change when He created other ethnic groups from the blood of the original man, Adam. So when we decide to see someone or some inherent aspect of someone as bad that God sees as good, we are not only violating the person but we are violating God. We are challenging God’s wisdom in creating black people the way He created them and are seeking to destroy what He made. He calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and the only way we can do that is if we remember that God loves them just as much as He loves us. We must model our lives after Him; we must exhibit that we are children of the Most High God. We must cease hating blackness and begin to love.

Take a Risk Challenge: So this week, to help us celebrate Black History Month here on the blog, I want you to think of the way or ways you have told black to get back and renounce that. This is the first step to being able to love blackness and is a radical act of love.