Thursday, June 18, 2015

There are Prejudice people that are alive and well in the world today!

           
I started this blog post about three weeks ago, prior to the events that recently occurred in Charleston, South Carolina where a lone white male attends a church prayer meeting of a Black congregation, kills nine.  I will wait patiently for the investigation to hear what was said as he stood to his feet and with Prejudice, Malice, and Hatred began to shoot. There is no doubt this is the worst kind of Prejudice and the worst crime when one kills out of hat for the one’s skin color, religion, or even sexual orientation, which shows that we really haven’t moved beyond the story of Cain and Able over the past 6,000 years.

Ironically, we these events and we scream, cry, and demand justice. However, prejudice behavior is going on around us every day.

Before we begin let’s define the word Prejudice from the dictionary …

” 1) An unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.  2) Any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.  3) an unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.”

I’m amazed today how that we throw this word “Prejudice” around, and accuse others of being prejudice.  The conservatives accuse the liberals and vice versa, whites of blacks, rich of the poor, and the list will be a mile long if we continue.   We allow experience, perception, and fear to dictate how we respond to individuals that look different, have a different belief system, different religion, or simply a different skin color. 

We allow the events of our personal history or an attack or even a perceived attack by a group of individuals of a different ethnic group years ago, either to us personally or someone we know sets the stage for us to be prejudice against an individual or the group throughout our lives.  We can be prejudiced of an individual due to their faith, because not of something the individual has done to us but because of something some else of the same faith or religious group has done.  I have even begun to notice prejudice response within our own community. I recently spoke with an individual that stated conservative black Politian’s where not worthy of respect because they don’t really support the cause of Black America.  An individual was recently accused of having homophobia, because she didn’t support gay marriage.

I personally grew up with prejudice tenses; I think we all have some.  Throughout my teens my dad was a retired Air Force Sergeant, and had gone to work for General Motor.  It was often hard to watch things happen like individuals with fewer skills are get promoted over this man that had so many skills. It was hard to accept the two list system of the 70’s where two minorities where promoted within the local police and fire department, over others that had scored much higher on the test.  Or as a student watching others getting accepted to college with the same grade point average as mine, and other things in the name of Affirmative Action.  Now some would immediately say he isn’t prejudice, he is a racist.  However, the reality is very far from the truth, I accept and love that scripture verse found in the Holman Christian Standard Bible version that reads: There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 

How do we take America and the world back to being able to accept the writing of the Apostle Paul and make prejudice or racism a distant cry in America?  I think that there are four major, however, simple steps to accomplish this goal.

1)     We need to quite attempting to rewrite history:  Sadly, in my family legacy there are things I’m not proud of some of it so ancient that I’m not sure I know the whole story, and some more recent.  Whatever the event or legacy that dosen’t define me.  We talk about accountability. I’m only accountable for my words, actions, and opinions not what my grandfather said 50 years ago.

2)     We tell the radical on all side TO SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP, this goes for the media, to actors/actress, religious extremist on all sides to. We learn to speak for ourselves, or feeling, beliefs, and desires. We don’t allow organization to define us; we share our heart, emotions, and feelings. We don’t allow extremist and activists to tell who to like or not like.

3)     We quit demanding everybody believe what we believe.  This includes allowing individuals to have their personal religious beliefs. Just because I don’t agree in your life style choices such as, gay marriage, and marijuana should be legal, polemic, or many other beliefs that individuals have. These don’t make me prejudice, my beliefs are based on a well thought beliefs based on my understanding of my Christian beliefs.

4)     Time to sit down and have Breakfast, my best friend is Robert.  Now let me explain Robert is an African American pastor here in Cincinnati that I have known for over 24 years.  And it all started with having breakfast at a Perkins Restaurant all those years ago.  Do we always agree? NO,  do we always see things the same no. However, one thing is for certain we always talk about it.

When is prejudice going to be eradicated in America, to me it is very simple … When America is willing to sit down at the Breakfast table and talk about feeling, beliefs, and acceptance of others. 
Or better yet, when we are ready to sit down at the Lord’s Table and pray, and have communion together. I learned a long time ago, I can’t be prejudice, angry or talking about someone if I’m praying for them and with them.

            My heart breaks over the events in Charleston, S.C. I don’t attempt to understand the mind of the attacker, and I believe justice needs to be done. I believe the conversation has to begin, not with the extremist on both side, but at the breakfast table learning to know, love, and compare with each other.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Remembering the Fallen:



Memorial Day is a day of remembering the fallen hero’s that have touched our lives.  My father served in the United States Air Force from 1953 – 1973, and retired at the rank of Tech Sargent. He would then go on to work for General Motor for 25 years, and retire from there as well.

He would never have accepted the term hero, and in fact sadly he served during a time of our history where it was forgotten what military heroes were. The Vietnam War brought out the best in men as they served our country and the worse in reaction to the war. I remember as a kid watching the horror of war unfolding on T.V. nightly, I remember watching the protest on T.V. and even being in the store and watching men and women in uniform being disrespected by individuals and groups.

Sadly, thousands lost their lives in war after war defending our freedom. Whether we agree with the politics or not, it is essential and important that we stand side by side with our heroes. Dad is not here anymore, he has been promoted to the place in heaven with the real King. Dad wasn’t’ only my hero because of his service to our military, he was my hero because of his encouragement and support in my life.


I will always remember by hero TSgt Donald E. Allen, Sr.

Who is your hero?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Praise Report and Prayer Request ...


With our current web ministry which we established in 2003 we have seen God bless @ Through HIM Ministries!


·        
       We currently maintain two blogs
With over 10,500 views
With People viewing from 72 countries
      
    We have established
  Through HIM School of Ministry 
with four courses currently online.  

 We have published

  64 workbooks/study-guides
With a conservative estimate of over 67,000 download, views, and reads. (Keeping in mind that several of our sites that we have downloaded the material to do not keep records, and we have found several sites that have chosen to download our material to their sites without our permission which ironically includes Nook, which we just say thank you for helping us get the material out there.)

We have received e-mails as well as comments on Facebook and LinkedIn from pastors in United States, South America, Africa, India, Pakistan, Philippines, and other places as well thanking us for the material.

Can you please pray with us and help us expand our web presents by going to our GoFundMe account ... at




www.throughhimministries.org 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Getting over the delusion

Getting over the delusion that our kids are immune from drugs at a Christian college and even our own church!


               The delusional thinking by parents, pastors, and educators needs to stop, immediately. What is this delusional thinking I’m referring to?  The drug and alcohol epidemic that is running ramped throughout the United States is somehow not affecting our young people and their friends. The attached link above shows us that even conservative, highly respected Christian colleges can and most often do have and drug and alcohol problem.

               The difference between non-Christian Colleges and generally Christian colleges are the rules. However, in many kids’ minds, rules are meant to be BROKEN and alcohol and drugs are no exception.

               The drug epidemic has evolved over the years and the goal of using drugs remains the same: to get high, buzzed, and feel good. However, the results in many cases are just the opposite as the students at the Wesleyan College have found out.  The synthetic drug also known as MDMA is in high demand especially among College students. The drug is generally referred to as: “Ecstasy or, more recently, as Molly. It is a synthetic psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others, and distortions in sensory and time perception.”[1]

               As an Alcohol and Drug Counselor for over 23 years, I have worked with a number of MDMA users, and have found that the drug, despite the perception in the community, movies, and other settings has the same negative impact on individuals.  When discussing drugs use I ask all my clients/patients the four same questions:

1. Has the drug had a negative impact on your finances?  Include the money you spend for the product, the medical expenses for recovery, legal fees, etc.

2. Has the drug caused you legal issues? Have you been arrested, or narrowly escaped out the back door when the cop’s arrived?

3. Has the drug caused you problems with your family and friends?  This could include not showing up for family or planned functions with friends because of using or recovering from a recent use.  Family and friends continue to express concern about the use of alcohol or drugs.

4. Are you experiencing problems either physically or mentally?  There is a lot of research that alcohol and drugs have a negative impact on the body. Depending on the drug, it could affect the heart, lungs, blood pressure, liver, kidneys, and every organ in the body in some way. There is also evidence that the alcohol and drugs have a major effect on the brain, the mood, depression, anxiety, cognitive function, perception, and the neurological development of individual.

Parents, pastors, educators, and student support groups, let’s not be like the ostrich, the big bird that sticks his head in the sand and believes that problems don’t exist. The reality is that the problem is “TOO REAL” and young people are getting hurt, sick, and dying!

While the student is told and chooses to believe the Ecstasy/Molly’s will help improve their party experience, others are told it will help them focus and study.  Some are seeking a great buzz and others are seeking a sexual stimulant. Whatever the reason for using this drug the outcome is always destructive.  

The following is a partial list of some of the major effects:

Sharp increase in body temperature
Good probability of liver, kidney, and heart failure
Dehydration
Hallucinations
Increase motor activity
Alertness
Increase heart rate
Muscle tension
Tremors
Muscle cramps
Nausea
Faintness
Chills
Sweating
Blurred vision

This drug is synthetic and frequently manufactured in abandoned warehouses, barns, and even bathtubs in your neighborhood.  You don’t who made it, their degree of cleanliness, what ingredients were used, or what safety precautions they took.  The only thing you know is it is DEADLY!
My challenge to parents, pastors, educators, and friends is to please stop ignoring the problem of addiction.  Take the challenge to:

Learn what drugs the kids you know are using.

Ask questions
Become informed
Get them help
Hold people accountable for their use
Hold the school accountable for providing education and treatment for addictions.






[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly) Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly on February 24, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine’s Day


            St. Valentine’s Day is a day of celebration throughout the United States and many other countries, as well as a part of the traditional worship of many denominations throughout the world today. Over the years I have read many accounts of who Saint Valentine was, what he accomplished, how he died as a martyr for his beliefs, and how we ended up with religious and secular holiday’s honoring him.

            One those noted and recorded traditions is that in the 4th century A.D.   Valentine was a Priest, that felt loving and healthy relationships where essentials to one’s wellbeing.  Tradition talks of Priest Valentine preforming marriages for soldiers in the Roman Army that by decree of the Emperor Claudius where forbidden to marry. There is no record of such a degree.  However, this has remained the focus of the story. He also performed weddings for the persecuted Christian throughout the region that where denied the right to marry in the church due to their beliefs.  Sadly, the legends and myths of this man of God have overshadowed the truth and reality of who he was.

            Today Valentine’s Day is a holiday that makes millions (if not billions) for businesses around the world from, cookies, candies, cards, teddy bears, and hundreds of other items.  The fact there is word Saint in front of his name is lost, with most people not even realizing the importance of the religious connection of this day.

            Maybe it is time we return to traditional roots of St. Valentine’s Day.  As I read the legends, myths, and historical accounts I see three things that stand out to me about the man and this concept of love and his ministryHe had a compassion and love for the Lord he served, and encouraged others to share their love and faith about Christ not only with their loved ones, but with friends around the world.

  1. He had a strong sense of traditional marriage, to the point that if the legends are correct he would defy the very law of the land and preform traditional Christian weddings for Men and Women that government deemed inappropriate.  
  2. He would stand upon the conviction of the scripture that marriage was between a man and women, and be willing to be persecuted and martyrd for his conviction.
  3.  He would have disagreed with what St. Valentine’s Day has become the holiday of mega-money. However, he would have most likely been pleased that the tradition of expressing love and kindness for someone you love has continued throughout history. Of course he would tell us we should do that every day.
For me in 1986 Valentine’s Day took on a very special meeting, that is the day I said I LOVE YOU and I DO to a very special lady, which has remained my Valentine/Sweetheart and Best Friend for 29 years.  So I thank St. Valentine for his contribution to my life, and for the example he set in establishing the values, teaching, and understanding of LOVE within the context of marriage.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Suicide … How many more lives will be lost?

Again and again I hear of pastors and Christian leaders that have choose to end their own lives. I remember an incident that happened when I was a young preacher in the town where I grew up. A pastor shot himself in the head in his office holding his Bible. This happened only a few hours after he was confronted by the church leadership over an affair that they had discovered he was having with one of his parishioners. Believing that his ministry and marriage were over, he chose to take his own life instead of coping with the shame and guilt. Some would say that his action was honorable; others would call him a coward.

However, we don’t know what this pastor was thinking about that gave him permission to take his own life. And just like today, as we continue to hear the news of pastors/ministers committing suicide, we really don’t know what they are thinking. Sadly, the culture of the church not has created a way for clergy to share the fears and hardships they are struggling with.  Many pastors who have been put on a pedestal fall, and then do not know how to properly address the shame, guilt, or humiliation they have caused, with the very people that had elevated them.

Over the years I have heard dozens of stories by Pastors, Ministers, and Lay people in the church that have expressed the thought of giving up or quitting; some of them have even said they had considered suicide. However, they were able to find an alternative to the permeant solution that they had considered. They used the steps of the acrostic: TALK

Tell someone what you are thinking
Ask someone for help
Listen to what people share to help you
Keep focused on the positive

And Choose Life

            Today we should be encouraging our pastors/ministers to choose life by providing a safe place for them to TALK where they may engage openly within a fellowship of caring pastors who encourage and help them walk through traumatic experiences.

            I have been involved in ministry for over 35 years and have been hurt by a lot of people. Ironically, no one has hurt me more in the church than other pastors. There are probably a thousand reasons why pastors commit suicide, but I think the main reason is that other clergy did not or did not know how to support and encourage them daily. I can’t answer for you pastor, but I can ask myself:
Do I give others the freedom to tell me what they are thinking?

Am I willing to provide help when they ask, and do I hear/see the non-verbal cries for help?
Do I really listen to what they share with me, or I’m too busy focusing on the next sermon or big program at my church?
Am I tearing them down instead of building them up?

Pastors, it is time we focus on Life and help others in the ministry to do so today.

Three simple challenges!

Call a pastor and encourage him in his role as a minister!
Ask a pastor to how he is doing, and then really listen to what he says!
Commit to praying for 12 pastors in your area that you know personally. Ask God to encourage them and to allow you to influence them for LIFE!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Heroin use on the rise and destroying lives!


Having lived in the Greater Cincinnati/Tri-State area for the past 28 years, I have seen the challenges of our communities to combat the drug epidemics that have come through our region.  Over the 23 years I have been active in what I’m hoping is making an impact on the drug problems/epidemic throughout our region as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor.  A recent article in the Cincinnati Enquire I believe accurately tells the story of the Drug Epidemic in 2014.

In the past 23 years I have counseled thousands of individuals that are struggling daily with an addiction either to such things as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, diet pills, benzo’s (Xanax and Valium) and many other drugs. However, I have not seen a drug that has torn through the very fiber of our society as Heroin has over the past 5 to 7 years.  The following tragic re-wording Psalm 23 by an anonymous heroin addict set the reality for the current drug crisis today!

King Heroin
"King Heroin Is My Shepherd, I Shall Always Want."
"King Heroin is my shepherd, I shall always want.
He makes me to lie down in the gutters."
"He leads me beside the troubled waters.
He destroys my soul.
He leads me in the paths of wickedness."
"Yes, I shall walk through the valley of poverty and will fear no evil for you, heroin, are with me."
"Your needle and your capsule comfort me."
"You strip the table of groceries in the presence of my family."
"You rob my head of reason.
My cup of sorrow runs over."
"Surely heroin addiction shall stalk me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the damned forever."

            What has become even more ironic to me is the denial within the church today that drugs and especially heroin are a serious problem. This continual delusion that the young people and adults in our churches are not addicted and the fact that pastors honestly believe it. I sadly understand parents loving their children, or how they could, for a short time, be in denial. However, the reality is that it is time to wake up and smell the roses. The National Institute for Drug Abuse reports that over 1.6% or nearly 4 million people over the age of 12 reported using Heroin at least once.  Heroin being cheap has not helped with this national epidemic. However, if we add in the use of other opiates such as OxyContin, Vicodin, other drugs with an opiate/morphine base, the numbers become much higher

            There continues to be a high risk for overdose when an individual uses Heroin or other opiate substances, and the potential for dependency is very high.  Results or effects from using are generally slow and shallow breathing, blue lips and fingernails, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possibly death.

            What now … it is time for parents, church leaders, and the community to overcome the denial that has kept us from being a resource for success in recovery that are effected by the use of Heroin or other opiate drugs. What are the signs? Missing pills from prescription bottles in the home, behavioral changes, loss of interest in school, extracurricular activities and friends, often appears to have excessive sleepiness (because opiates are sedatives), requesting or spending money with nothing to show for it, needle marks or unseasonable long-sleeved shirts to cover them up (this is not an exhaustive list). Opiate users eventually build up tolerance to the drugs, so they need increasing amounts to achieve the same effects.

            As a parent: It is essential that we get over the mindset of what will be thought of me? It is time to intervene, ask questions, and find the truth. As a parent it is often times better to ask the tough questions and be wrong, than not ask any question and be totally right that they were using and find out too late. Recommend a treatment program for them, either inpatient or outpatient depending on the individual. Some will require short term help and make a great recovery plan, others will need ongoing support. Call your insurance company for recommendation, call the local hospital, and call Narcotic Anonymous. They all have great resources to help you find help.


            As a church: It is essential that we pull our head out of the sand, and provide as many resources as possible. Sadly, praying at the altar is not going to be enough for most Heroin/Opiate addicts. The ability to provide counseling (if you have some knowledge) or develop a great resource list is the key to helping them recover. It will also take realizing that it is going to take the addict, family, church, and community working together to help them find the tools to not use.