Forward Thinkers every Sunday and Wednesday this month I’ve stood before you encouraging you to remain optimistic and expect something great to happen to you this season. Optimism means hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something and we must continue to remain optimistic at all times. On last Sunday we even discussed operating with unbridled optimism meaning we would not allow Satan or any situation to rob us of our confidence.
Forward Thinkers it’s amazing we decided to use the new football season as the backdrop of this series of teaching not knowing at the time a national story would be unfolding on the sidelines of a football field in San Francisco, California. Colin Kaepernick, a Black quarterback, refused to stand during the National Anthem because he had become sick and tired of the unfair treatment in America of Black, Brown, and poor people.
Forward Thinkers this is not the first time someone refused to bow down to a symbol that didn’t represent their core belief system. Before I move forward let’s take personal inventory and ask ourselves this important question do you even know your core beliefs or do you just go along to get along.
13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Forward Thinkers these three Hebrew boys refused to bow down and like Colin Kaepernick they were courageous enough to remain optimistic while staying true to their core beliefs. Forward Thinkers they knew there could be some major negative consequences but they did not allow fear to break their faith. Forward Thinkers many claim to have faith and say they believe God did not give us the spirit of fear yet under social pressure they fold and become silent in the face of fear of the unknown.
Forward Thinkers since we last met most of us have seen the video of Keith Scott, a Black man in Charlotte, North Carolina shot and killed by police as he posed no threat to them walking backwards with hands by his side. This is after we saw Terence T. Crutcher, with hands up in Tulsa, Oklahoma shot and killed by police officer who panicked under pressure. Forward Thinkers the amazing thing is Mr. Crutcher had committed no crime but was having car trouble when police arrived and the police first assessment was he looked like a big bad guy. The list is growing weekly in America of unarmed Black, Brown, and poor people being killed by law enforcement.
Forward Thinkers why is the church so silent, both the Black and White church, seem too busy to notice a war has been declared on a certain population of their congregation. Did the bible not say we were created for lead in such a time as this?
Proverbs 31:8-10 Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all, speak out in order to defend the needy and poor.
Forward Thinkers I was on a Town Hall panel two weeks ago at Kingwood Community College to discuss the current relationship of law enforcement and the African American community. Forward Thinkers I was not surprised that both young Black men and police officers stated there is an increased amount of fear in the community on both sides of the fence. But, the alarming thing is only Black people especially Black men are being killed as a result of this fear.
Forward Thinkers if we go back and study history we will find it’s no coincidence that the killing of Black men out of fear is acceptable is America. Yes, all Lives matter but when one group of people have been labeled as less than their journey becomes even more difficult. Forward Thinkers these three Hebrew boys lives were not placed on the same value scale as the other boys and to make matters worse they refused to bow down like puppets therefore they became expendable. Forward Thinkers it often appears someone somewhere made an executive decision and declared Black men in America as being expendable this season.
Forward Thinkers on Sunday I picked a group of young people out of my congregation and showed them two pictures one of a butterfly and one of a black caterpillar. They were asked to stand behind the one they thought appeared scary looking and then they were asked which one they would kill first if they had to kill one. Forward Thinkers the results were just as I assumed the mass majority considered the black caterpillar scary and it would be the one they choose to kill. Think about this for a second the black caterpillar and the butterfly are really the same creature but we have labeled the black caterpillar as worthless simply based on its appearance.
Forward Thinkers yes, all lives matter but at some point we must ensure that Black lives are recognized as real lives too.
Forward Thinkers I would have never thought in a million years I would be quoting former President George W. Bush but he made one of the best statements I heard over the weekend at the opening of the African American Smithsonian, “a great nation does not hide its history it faces its flaws and corrects them”
Forward Thinkers let’s look at some more history: If I asked you to become a member of a group of Black men whose purpose was to protect our communities and empower our people would you be interested? Forward Thinkers if you research the origins of the group called Community Resources for Independent People (CRIPS) you will probably be amazed to know that one of the most dangerous gangs in America started out as a positive group of young Black men.
Let’s jump back to the three Hebrew boys for a minute because remember they had committed to doing good and other members from their community decided to turn on them to gain favor from the king. We can’t overlook throughout history how this spirit of selling-out has caused severe damage in our community.
Forward Thinkers is it a coincidence that after the CRIPS started improving and protecting their community that a rivalry group (some believe planted by racist members of law enforcement) called the BLOODS comes into the community and the entire culture changes from positivity to negativity. Forward Thinkers also keep in mind at this same time millions of dollars start being invested in Gansta-rap promoting Black on Black crime and making a criminal lifestyle popular with Black youth. Forward Thinkers don’t stop connecting the dots there because like magic this new drug called crack comes into our neighborhoods and turf-gang wars become deadly.
Forward Thinkers at this point the United States government declares a War on Drugs (funny thing is they started the problem in the first place) and that war has produced a nation of felons but has done little to stop drug addictions.
Black on Black crime: Forward Thinkers notice they took the best of the boys out and left the others to fight over very limited resources and opportunities in the story of the three Hebrew boys. Forward Thinkers this strategy has remained in place today because they inner-city has limited resources and opportunities resulting in the people turning on each other to survive producing what they call Black on Black crime.
Forward Thinkers they also created division among the people to weaken the power base because the enemy realizes the potential of our collected unity. Forward Thinkers think about this we are the only group of people in America so divided: House slave vs. Field slave, Light skin vs. Dark skin, Christian vs. Muslim. Forward Thinkers our collected reality is we are all Black and we would be better together.
In conclusion Forward Thinkers the three Hebrew boys were courageous enough to remain optimistic and continued to believe that God was with them in the battle and I encourage you to keep the faith and stay courageous.
Pastor E. A. Deckard is the Senior Pastor/Founder of the Green House International Church located, in both Houston, Texas, and the Woodlands, Texas. Pastor Deckard is also the Co-Founder of the No More Bloodshed Movement. To contact Pastor Deckard for speaking engagements contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Periscope @ Pastor E A Deckard or the church website www.ghic.net