Podcast about Racism with Benjamin Lee – Part 2

This will be the last post for the Men’s Daily Briefing. Thanks again for all your support and encouragement!

Please check out my new website, ShepherdingTalk.Com

Make sure to listen to our podcasts with Benjamin Lee on Racism, part 1 and 2.

Racism and prejudice are real and they still exist. We discuss how we as Christians and leaders can help move forward toward healing.

Benjamin’s books, coaching resources, and podcasts can all be found on benjaminlee.blog.

Check out Benjamin Lee’s “Nehemiah Effect” section of his website that has a great collection of videos, audio and articles on racism. Here is a short description of the “Nehemiah Effect” work that Benjamin is doing:

“After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis I decided to create the Nehemiah Effect. I had a lot of people asking me, “What can I do.” “What should I say?” The idea behind the Nehemiah Effect comes from the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. Nehemiah was a man of action. He saw a problem and took action. His faith was in God. Like Nehemiah, we all can do something to help others. We can do something for good. My newsletter and information on my website provides different ideas we can do to do good to others. I also provide articles dealing with racism, along with book recommendations for people who are looking to learn more about racism.”

The Nehemiah Effect by Benjamin Lee

Podcast about Racism with Benjamin Lee – Part 1

Racism and prejudice are real and they still exist. Today’s podcast is part 1 of a discussion I had with Benjamin Lee about racism. We discuss how we as Christians and leaders can help move forward toward healing.

Click here to listen to Part 1 of the Shepherding Talk podcast on Racism with Benjamin Lee.

Benjamin’s books, coaching resources, and podcasts can all be found on benjaminlee.blog.

Check out Benjamin Lee’s “Nehemiah Effect” section of his website that has a great collection of videos, audio and articles on racism. Here is a short description of the “Nehemiah Effect” work that Benjamin is doing:

“After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis I decided to create the Nehemiah Effect. I had a lot of people asking me, “What can I do.” “What should I say?” The idea behind the Nehemiah Effect comes from the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. Nehemiah was a man of action. He saw a problem and took action. His faith was in God. Like Nehemiah, we all can do something to help others. We can do something for good. My newsletter and information on my website provides different ideas we can do to do good to others. I also provide articles dealing with racism, along with book recommendations for people who are looking to learn more about racism.”

The Nehemiah Effect by Benjamin Lee

They Had All Things in Common

Acts 2:44 – And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

Acts 2 gives us an account of the beginnings of the church, God’s kingdom as prophesied for thousands of years. At the end of chapter 2, we see this new church gathering together, praying together and worshipping together. Then we see them freely and gladly sharing their possessions with one another.

They had “all things in common,” Luke wrote.

I want to consider this phrase and connect it to other things that are said in this context in Acts 2. They certainly had a mindset that all things they owned were to be shared with their brothers and sisters. But where did that mindset come from? What brought such an attitude in people that led them to freely and gladly share anything they had with the others?

Because they had all things in common! Let’s look at the context around that phrase to see that this new congregation shared more than possessions.

They Had All Things in Common.

  • They had in common their brokenness before God (Acts 2:36). Each one of them had crucified the Savior and Messiah. The sin, guilt and shame before a holy and just God was shared by each person.
  • They had a common need for a Savior (Acts 2:37). They all were cut to the heart. Each one of them recognized the need for salvation and turned to Jesus. Every person in this group knew that Jesus was the only way.
  • They had a common entry into the kingdom (Acts 2:38,41). Each one had gladly received the word, repented of his or her sins, and was baptized into Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of those sins. Young or old, rich or poor, male or female, they had all obeyed the same gospel.
  • They had a common practice (Acts 2:42). This new congregation of saved people “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Each person in this group had committed to doing it God’s way. He or she had also committed to be with those who were like-minded. They spent time together and prayed together. They sang together and took the Lord’s Supper together. As a group they committed to following the apostles’ teaching because it came straight from their Savior, Jesus Christ. An intimacy developed in this group, didn’t it?
  • They had a common attitude (Acts 2:46). Collectively, this group was glad and generous in their hearts. Each person stood in awe of the power of God as it was displayed through the miraculous working of the apostles (Acts 2:43). As a church their hearts were full of praise for God (Acts 2:47).

So, why did the church lovingly and willingly share possessions with each other? Because they shared the same heart. They truly had all things in common.

The Issue Isn’t the Issue

James 3:16 – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 

James 4:1-2 – What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 

A husband and a wife get into a big bruhaha over how and where to spend the holidays. Each is convinced he or she is right and the other is outside his or her mind. The line is drawn in the sand, feet are firmly planted in his or her position, and it turns into a knockdown-drag-out fight.

Let me ask this, was the real problem for that couple where to spend the holidays? Was the “issue” over which that couple fought really the issue? Can you see that there is another problem that has nothing to do with where to go for Christmas? In the Scriptures above, James tells us that if there is disorder and fighting, then something is underlying the current “issue” we are fighting about.

The nation is always divided, we just have a  new issue that comes across the scene over which we can fight. And the same goes for families, churches, organizations and businesses. You have a meeting at work that goes sideways, and tempers flare as you discuss a new project or declining sales projections. Was the “issue” the issue, or are there underlying attitudes that are clearly the problem?

Here are a few things I’ve learned about the “issue”:

  • We will always have “issues.” There will always be things that we will disagree on, and will have the potential to turn into a major fight. Those “issues” are never going away.
  • The issues will change. This is probably the same as the previous point, but we may think we settled an issue, but then a different topic comes along and exposes the same underlying problems. New issues…same relationship and attitude problems.
  • We can agree on an issue, and still not be united. You can see this concept played out in Scripture, in politics, in the church, etc. Folks in a church may all agree on certain doctrinal stands, but are they united? We will find out when other issues hit the fan. You and I might find an issue upon which we can clearly rally. But when the “next issue” comes along it may expose that we were never really united.
  • We have to pray and calmly seek God’s guidance to look past the current issue. May God, the Great Physician, help us to see the real sickness and problem underneath instead of treating the symptoms. I may sneeze because I have allergies, you may sneeze because you have a virus. We have to understand the root problem, otherwise our treatment of the symptom may not work. In fact the treatment of the symptom could be dangerous.

For our meditation today, we can remember that when there are fights and quarrels, there is something underneath the surface that has nothing to do with the current issue.

For Now We Live

For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 3:8).

When you read 1 Thessalonians 3, you can see the heart of Paul was anxious as he thought about the brethren in Thessalonica. He was really concerned about them and how they were doing spiritually, now that he was gone.

Two times in chapter 3 the phrase, “When we could bear it no longer” is used. They couldn’t take it anymore. Paul sent Timothy over to Thessalonica to see how they were doing and bring back a report.

You can read chapter 3 to see a noticeable change in tone. Once Timothy came back with good news, Paul’s whole demeanor changed.

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
(1 Thessalonians 3:6-10)

Paul was in the middle of being persecuted for preaching the gospel, but now he could endure the trials and afflictions? Why? Because he heard good news about how his brethren the Thessalonians were doing. It gave him some more gas in his tank. His statement says it all, “for now we live if you are standing fast in the Lord.”

Grown kids need to remember this. Your stand for faith will give life to your parents. College students, remember this. When you stand for Jesus, even when your parents are not there, you cause your parents to live! You put gas in their tank. It’s amazing what we can endure when we know that others we love dearly are living strong for Jesus.

It was because of envy

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?(Proverbs 27:4)

Who can stand before jealousy? Great question. Here are several examples of great strife and pain caused by jealousy and envy.

  • The Roman governor Pilate knew that the Jewish leaders were envious of Jesus and that is why they delivered Jesus up (Matthew 27:18).
  • Joseph’s brothers were jealous of Joseph and sold him into slavery (Acts 7:9).
  • It was because of jealousy that the Jews in Galatia opposed and contradicted everything Paul and Barnabas tried to preach (Acts 13:45).
  • Jealousy led the Jews in Thessalonica to take wicked men and stir up the crowd against Paul and his companions (Acts 17:5).

James wrote in his letter that if we see disorder and every vile practice, we will find jealousy behind it.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
(James 3:14-16)

Family problems? Jealousy is somewhere close. Church problems? Look for jealousy. Problems at work. Envy is at work.

What is jealousy anyway? What is envy? Let’s look that tomorrow. If jealousy is such a source of strife, we ought to find out what it is, and how we can replace it in our hearts with godly qualities.

Saul was a King, David was a Leader

1 Chronicles 11:1-3 Then all Israel gathered together to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, even when Saul was king, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over my people Israel.'” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD by Samuel.

Look at what Israel said to David!

Even when Saul was king, it was you (David) who led out and brought in Israel.

Who was the king? Saul. Who was the real leader in Israel? David.

To whom did the people go to for leadership? David. Who was the person who understood the real enemy of Israel? David. Who was the one who had the courage to face the giant with God’s help? David. Who was the one who encouraged the hearts of Israel to trust God and take on the enemy? David. Who was the one who walked among the people and knew the people? David.

What was Saul doing? Hiding. Doubting. Cowering. His focus was his power, his image and keeping his throne. He was incredibly fearful and jealous of David and anyone who supported him. He devoted the rest of his life to chasing David all over Israel to eliminate him because he was a threat to Saul’s power. In fact, you can see that Saul lost focus of the real enemy, the Philistines, until they had completely surrounded him and it was too late.

You see, the people of Israel were smart enough to know who the real leader was. That is still true today. It is evident in churches, homes, businesses, sports teams, politics, etc. The people in charge are not necessarily the ones who are really leading. Sometimes it is a husband who likes to assert his authority all the time, while the wife and mother is the one really leading the kids. It might be in a sports team where the “captain” of the team is just bossy but another player is the one who inspires the team. We see it in businesses, where the CEO is a controlling, micro-managing type, and there are a few others who really make that business what it is.

So, what about you? Are you a boss, or a leader? Are you an elder, or a leader? Are you the “head of the home” or a leader? Leaders inspire, set examples, communicate and build relationships. There is an atmosphere of welcoming and safety around a leader. Leaders don’t have to go around asserting their authority all the time to do so. Look around, are people following you because they respect you or because you are in charge? Also take a look, are people continually going to someone else instead of you? It might be that you have asserted your authority way too much and they don’t feel safe coming to you. How do you respond when others get the praise and recognition, yet you are in charge? Do you encourage and welcome that or are you intimidated by that?

God’s encouragement for you today is to be a leader like David, not a king like Saul.

Called to Bless

We are called by God to bless others. Multiple passages in the Bible talk about how we are to bless others with our mouths. But what does that mean?

Psalm 20 – This is a Psalm of Blessing. Read this Psalm and consider David’s desire and prayer for those he is “blessing.” His desire is for the best things to happen to others. Notice verse 5, when David writes, “May we shout for joy over your salvation.” David’s blessing included the salvation of their souls.

This is the emphasis of God’s blessing that He brought through Abraham. He promised Abraham that through him all nations would be “blessed.” Peter’s commentary on this blessing tell us that God’s blessing was intended for us to “turn away from our sins” (Acts 3:25-26). We are only truly blessed when we are in a right relationship with God. And by by blessing others, including our enemies, our hope and prayer is for them to be turned away from their sins as well.

When the priesthood was set up by Moses, God through Moses gave the priests a blessing that they were to say to the people. Reading this blessing will help us to see what it means to bless people and what kinds of things we are hoping for those we are blessing.

Numbers 6:23-27
“Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

This “blessing” of others especially includes our enemies. Do we only wish good for those who are kind to us? Do we only speak well of those who speak well of us? Do we only want the people we like to go to heaven? Let’s read a few passages about blessing our enemies.

Romans 12:14 – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Luke 6:27-28
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

1 Peter 3:8-11
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it (Peter is quoting Psalm 34:12-16 here).”

1 Corinthians 4:11-14
To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.

In fact, God tells us that when blessings and curses come out of our mouths, we are living a contradiction.

James 3:7-12
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Today, let us use our mouths to bless others. That means in our hearts we are wishing the absolute best for them. If we are praying and wishing for the very best for others, that will be reflected in how we talk to them and about them.

The Work Is Great

1 Chronicles 29:1-2
And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the LORD God. So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones and marble.

David saw the building of the temple as God’s “great work.”

  • Just because David couldn’t directly oversee the building of the temple, this work did not lose any value or importance in his eyes. David got even more involved because what was important was the glory of God’s house, not who got to be in charge. God’s work is great, the workers are only great if they are humbly seeking God’s glory as servants. We are only servants. Greatness is not in being in charge, it is doing what is best for the great work of God.
  • David recognized the immense need to prepare the next generation for leadership in God’s great work. King David didn’t live at the end of his nose; he looked down the road and planned for future leadership of God’s people. He organized the priesthood, prepared his own son as king, arranged all the workers to build the temple, put the military in order, arranged the finances, etc. Sometimes leaders just find themselves reacting to current problems instead looking to the future and preparing.
  • He gave his all for this great work. At first, David thought his “great work” was to build a temple for God (1 Chronicles 22). But God wanted Solomon to build the temple. So, David’s “great work” was to prepare Solomon and all Israel to build the temple. Look at 1 Chronicles 17-22! Look at all the work David did to prepare for the building of the temple. His great work was to prepare the next generation, and he spent every ounce of his energy doing it!

But As For You

In Paul’s letters to Timothy, the apostle warns and instructs the young evangelist about many things regarding the church, including those in the church who are behaving badly. As he teaches Timothy about those things, he repeatedly turned to Timothy, and said something like, “But as for you…”

Timothy, people around you who claim to be followers of Jesus are going to behave in ungodly ways, but as for you, this is how you are to speak, think and act. Below are just a few examples of how Paul turns the attention to encourage Timothy to watch his own behavior.

Timothy people are going to love money and it is going to destroy them. But you flee these things and follow righteousness and other godly qualities!

1 Timothy 6:10-11
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

Timothy, some will bring great trouble upon the church, and eventually their folly will be known to all. But you keep following my teaching and my conduct.

2 Timothy 3:9-10
But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,

Timothy, you will be persecuted because you want to live for God in Christ. Others around you will go from bad to worse. But as for you…keep doing what you have learned.

2 Timothy 3:12-14
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

Timothy, times are coming when it will be hard to find folks who want to listen to the truth. But as for you, be clear-minded and do your job, even if you have to suffer.

2 Timothy 4:3-5
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Let’s ask ourselves…how many times have we allowed the bad behavior of others to influence how we think, speak and behave? Be honest.

How often do we excuse our own poor behavior on how others are acting? It happens all the time, doesn’t it. We say things like, “Well, if they wouldn’t have done this, then I wouldn’t have said what I did.” As if God is going to give us a grace pass for behaving sinfully just because others are being sinful. Cussing out someone because they treated you badly is not how it works – at least that’s what Paul is telling Timothy.

If Paul were talking to us today, I believe he would be saying the same things to us. But as for you…this is how you behave. It doesn’t matter how others are talking…this is how you talk. If others are treating you in a sinful way…this is how you behave. When others go down the wide path of loose living…you have your own path to follow. If others are being a bad example, you be a good example.

But as for you…