Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have. — H. Jackson Brown Jr.
The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. — Stephen Ambrose
I can endure my own despair, but not another's hope. — William Walsh
"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by
people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."
— Dale Carnegie
February 7, 2009 at 7:08 pm (Christian, Music, Song of the Week)
Tags: Bible, Christ, Christian, faith, God, grace, hope, Jerry Bridges, Jesus, Jesus Christ, legalism, legalist, legalistic, lyrics, merits, Music, neil diamond, pretty amazing grace, Transforming Grace, truth, works
I don’t think Neil Diamond is a Christian — as far as I know, he’s still Jewish — but he wrote a song called “Pretty Amazing Grace,” which blows my mind because it has some strong Christian concepts behind it. Maybe he’s resolved things between him and God? Who knows?
I’m currently reading a book called Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges. The book focuses on reminding Christians that God draws people to him based on his grace and mercy and not based on our merits or works. The Bible teaches there is nothing people can do to get to heaven. (Ephesians 2:8-9) I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and became a Baptist 16 years after being a Roman Catholic. Coming from a Roman Catholic background, I’d view my standing with God based on a “points” system. For example, let’s start at zero. If I was nice to or complimented someone, I’d give myself a +1. But later on, if I told a white lie to my parents, I’d give myself a -1 putting me right back where I started. So I’d go back and forth on this points system trying not to reach a deficit. The new church I joined taught that there was no points system, people couldn’t earn their way to heaven, and that one had to rely solely on God’s grace — the gift he gives the people who believe in Jesus Christ.
After a few years though, being a Christian became burdensome — not because of God — but because of the rules the church I attended would begin to impose in my life:
- you’re in sin if you don’t wear a skirt past your knees
- if you don’t go knocking on doors and proselytizing to people, you’re in sin
- if you’re not in church every time the doors are open, you’re in sin
- working on Sundays is a sin unless you’re a doctor or a nurse (it’s OK to heal people on the Sabbath)
The church taught one thing but did another. I began to feel as though I was never doing enough for God no matter how hard I tried. I was back on the points system.
Transforming Grace is a book intended to blow legalism out of the water. It takes legalistic concepts and casts them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19) or puts them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). It reminds Christians that any blessings they receive or any favor they find in God’s sight is not based on what they do, how good they are, or how many “points” they’ve racked up. After years of bashing myself as a bad Christian, this book reminds me that in and of myself, I’m a pretty bad person. (Romans 3:10-12) But with a belief in Christ, God doesn’t see me as bad; he sees Christ’s righteousness. So there’s no more points to earn. There’s nothing I can do to make God love me any less or any more.
And this is where Neil Diamond’s song “Pretty Amazing Grace” steps in. I don’t know what Neil Diamond’s spiritual belief is but somehow, he’s grasped the concept of God’s grace quite well. As a result, I’ve chosen “Pretty Amazing Grace” for the song of the week as I continue my studies in learning more about Transforming Grace. You can listen to the full song here, and the lyrics are behind the cut.
Read the rest of this entry »
March 13, 2008 at 5:54 pm (News, Personal)
Tags: accomplishments, affirmative action, African American, America, American, Americans, black, black America, black man, black president, change, Clinton, color, Democrat, Democratic, Democratic nominee, electable, election, elections, ethnicity, experience, Ferraro, gender, Hannity, hope, Jesse Jackson, McCain, media, nationality, News, nomination, nominee, Obama, political experience, political party, politics, president, presidential election, primary, race, racial, racial criticism, racist, sellout, success, Uncle Tom, voters, votes, voting, white, white man, woman
Politics is a dangerous territory to discuss. Especially since there’s much emotion and fervor regarding this presidential race. I don’t normally discuss politics on this blog but this is something that has been bugging me as of late. I’d like to share my view with my readers so people can get a black woman’s perspective on this issue. By the way, I said “black” intentionally.
At this time, Senator John McCain is (pretty much) the Republican nominee. The Democratic nomination could go to either Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Barack Obama. (I personally think Obama will end up winning the Democratic nomination, but that’s beside my point.)
This post addresses the highly popularized contest for the Democratic nomination between Clinton and Obama. In recent news, Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to ever run for vice president, said the following:
“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”
Here’s my brief disclaimer: If you are so passionate about politics that my opinion might cause you to stop reading this blog, I suggest you don’t read any further. I also don’t plan on engaging in long debates about politics either; it’s too much of a merry-go-round. But, since you’re human, you’re probably going to click the link below anyway.
“If a Christian is without hope and sees himself as helpless, it underscores that his thinking is out of alignment with God’s.” – Jeffrey S. Black
A hopeless Christian is a paradox considering that Christians should have reason to hope. But when faced with trials of life, “keeping hope alive” proves difficult.
Black defines hopelessness in three ways:
- A failure to recognize God’s wisdom.
- A failure to desire what God desires.
- An unwillingness to view time the way God does.
Important questions for a hopeless Christian to ask himself:
- Are my hopes in the situation getting better or in Christ?
- Are my hopes in me or in Christ?
- Are my hopes in other people or Christ?
A quote from Psalm 73:21-22:
“When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant.”
When a Christian’s focus isn’t on Christ, everything is hopeless. I struggle with answers how to get a Christian from a point of hopelessness to hopeful ness.
April 2, 2007 at 11:30 am (Christian, Suicide)
Tags: booklet, death, dry run, hope, hopeful, hopefulness, hopeless, hopelessness, irrational, need, pain, problem, self-hatred, self-loathing, substance abuse, suicidal, suicidal thoughts, Suicide, warning sign
Helping a suicidal person is a touchy subject. Black’s booklet is addressed to people who want to help a person who is suicidal. Black’s provides some tips to help a suicidal person:
- “Acknowledge the reality of [the person’s] pain.”
- “Help him see the connection between his pain and his felt need.” Get them to say, “Life without ___ [fill in the blank]___ will be unbearable because ___[fill in the blank]___.”
- “Challenge constricted options and irrational thoughts.”
- “Explore [the person’s] perceptions of hopelessness.” How hopeless is the person feeling? Can the situation be rectified or is it hopeless?
- “Help the person to separate pain and need.”
Black’s following guideline is a good way to assess whether a person is considering suicide:
1. Presenting problem – Assessment begins by evaluating the problem that triggered the downward spiral. This is difficult to do if the person can’t identify any triggers.
2. Background information – Analyze the person’s life and personality to gain a better understanding of how and why he is driven to a point where he considers taking his own life. A good warning sign: If someone says, "I can’t deal" repeatedly. "I can’t deal" really means, "I don’t have the appropriate coping skills to handle my situation."
3. Substance abuse – While a person who abuses drugs or alcohol may not be suicidal, the likelihood that a depressed person who abuses drugs or alcohol is.
4. Resources – Encourage the (potentially) suicidal individual to seek out a support network: family, friends, church, therapists, or social groups. If a person feels needed, he is more likely to realize that his death will have a significant impact. Perhaps he’ll think twice before making an attempt.
5. Suicidal thinking and intent
A. "Evaluate the person’s felt experience." Use a mood scale from 1-10 to gauge how good or bad a person is feeling. (Feel free to use mine on the right.)
B. "Determine how often the person has suicidal thoughts and how intense or compelling they are." Frequent "passing" thoughts are no longer passing thoughts.
C. Dry run. A person contemplating suicide might have “tried out” the way he plans on killing himself.
“Has she ever taken a few pills to see what it feels like, tied things around her neck, driven at high speed, or practiced with an unloaded gun? Dry runs help the person to resolve any ambivalence she might feel about suicide.”
If a person admits to attempting a “dry run,” the person likely is in extreme danger of following through.
6. Noble End – A person who is at the point of beautifying suicide as a glorious end to his life is completely disillusioned and should be seen as a high risk. Watch out for talk of "No one needs me anymore" or "Everyone would be better off without me."
An addendum: A person who says "I hate myself" may be a suicidal risk, but not always. An admission of self-hatred provides evidence that he may want to eliminate the hatred in some way.