Daunting Options that Led to Courage

FDBackgroundGrowing up in Greene County, Alabama, I learned early on that the concept of pro-black didn’t mean anti-white or anti any race or culture. It meant having a mind to promote a people who struggled to overcome—a people—who still struggles to overcome injustices. Oftentimes, the idea is misrepresented because of a lack in understanding the historical context. It is essential to remember that many valuable figures throughout history were white men and women who stood with blacks—then and now—in the struggle.

emma_rev_gimore3In recognition of Black History Month, I would be remiss not to recognize an individual whom I considered a friend and mentor, the late Rev. Dr. Thomas E. Gilmore. Rev. Gilmore was the second black sheriff in the state of Alabama and the first black sheriff elected in Greene County. The movie, This Man Stands Alone [a.k.a. Lawman Without A Gun] (1978), portrays Rev. Gilmore’s road to becoming a sheriff in the deep south. Today, the court house square in Eutaw, Alabama is named in his honor.

During my tenure in divinity school, Rev. Gilmore and I discussed much theological dogma, which often led to conversations about Black History. I enjoyed listening to Rev. Gilmore, lift up brave men and women that he knew from the struggle. One such individual was Rev. Frederick Lee “Fred” Shuttlesworth .

Rev. Shuttlesworth led the fight against segregation and other forms of racism as a Baptist minister in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This summer I visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute while back home in Alabama. It was humbling to stand beneath the statue of a man who was such a giant among men.

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No one need ever have to apologize for the greatness of who they are. To be uniquely oneself is powerful. Genesis 1:27 affirm that we are created “in God’s image”. As God’s image. . . we should be an official, visible, and comprehensible representation of who God is and what He is really like. Therefore, we should treat others as we wish to be treated (Luke 6:31).

For there are many men and women of great character who have dreamed and practiced what is good. Yet the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned and the dream that we envision for ourselves—our world—has yet to be fully realized.  Harriet Tubman said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Living in Alabama, there were things you knew… about the dream… by the time you got to third grade. Even if you weren’t sure whether you learned it at school, church, home or from Uncle Bob. Things like (Oh and yes you knew the dates too)…

  • the first slaves were brought to the New World in 1619
  • people of color fueled the cotton industry of 1793
  • abolitionism and the underground Railroad started around 1831
  • civil war and emancipation 1861
  • post–slavery south began in 1865
  • separate but equal 1896
  • NAACP founded in 1909
  • Harlem Renaissance started in 1920
  • Brown v. Board Of Education May 17, 1954
  • Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, December 1955,
  • Freedom Rides of 1961
  • Birmingham church bombed, 1963
  • “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Coretta Scott King is from Heiberger, Alabama
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Selma to Montgomery March in March 1965
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • rise of Black Power Movement late 1960’s & and early 70’s
  • Shirley Chisholm runs for president, 1972,
  • Jesse Jackson runs for president, 1984

I’ll stop here… but there’s much more that could be said about Black History through the eyes of a black person who grew up in the 70’s & 80’s in the South. Today… we might have trouble remembering our children’s birthdates—but I bet—we know the assassination dates of John F. Kennedy (Nov. 22, 1963), Malcolm X (Feb. 21, 1965), and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968).

As an African-American, I love Black History! It’s a legacy. It’s the love of a people who faced daunting options so that others may have choices. It’s the hope of the past, present and future generations. It’s the gift of brave men, women, and children who remind me of the words of Dr. Maya Angelou. . . “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

God Bless. . . I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Don’t Worry—God’s Got This

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. ~ Matthew 6:24

I’d been trying to grasp the unsettling idea for months. A faint, vague notion floating in and out of my mind. It felt like trying to separate oil droplets from water with a toothpick. Or struggling to recall a dream that I no longer remembered. But today, the idea came into sharp focus. And it caused me to search the Scriptures. Grappling with the question, Why do Christians seem to seek the devil for their blessings?

Continue reading “Don’t Worry—God’s Got This”

Living Water Refreshes the Soul

For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. ~ Jeremiah 31:25

When weather conditions are just right. Each blade of grass sparkles with tiny droplets of water that seems to come from out of nowhere. Seeing dew in the early morning sunshine, reminds me of the refreshing power of God. That unmerited favor—from living water—that can refresh our exhausted souls.

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Embraced in God’s Love

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.~2 Peter 3:18

God reveals himself in ways that defy set patterns, customs or denominational boundaries. He shows up and shows out at His will. There are days when His presence overflows in our lives. It’s as though our spirit leaps for joy inside our physical body. And we feel invincible—connected to the true vine (John 15:1). That’s when we know… that it’s God and He’s making His presence known. This can be expressed through a supernatural event, a quiet personal experience, or a confirmation from others. It’s that place in time… where we flow in harmony with the cosmos and everything seems to work for our good.

Continue reading “Embraced in God’s Love”

Trusting God that I Shall Lack Nothing

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. ~ Psalm 23:1

One of my favorite books, God is More Than Enough by Dr. Tony Evans, describes explicitly why we need not be afraid… when we trust God. The scriptures referenced below are from Psalm 23:1-6 (NIV).

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. In this verse… David, the Psalmist, uses the Hebrew word for Lord, which is Yahweh—God’s formal name. Declaring that God is right now present as his shepherd… the One who cares for him and provides everything that he needs.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. This describes the normal nature of David as a member of Yahweh’s flock. Safe and protected in His care, forgiven from all anxieties. David is confident of the freedom to enjoy all the simple pleasures that makes up his life—the freshness of the meadow, the coolness of the stream—he feels satisfied beyond his own capacity. Continue reading “Trusting God that I Shall Lack Nothing”