Category: Advocacy

Working to Be Heavenly Minded & Earthly Good…

By Larrell L. Wilkinson

Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

Many have heard the Bible verse, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV). So being real for a moment, many of us do become distracted and/or challenged in the action of first seeking His kingdom and righteousness. We are challenged in making Him the priority over things of the world. So often our troubles in and of the world take precedent in our daily lives. Whether personal or social, a person may wake up thinking about their troubles or literally “yell angry expressions through typing” on Twitter to express their opinion about a particular topic that irks them. Let’s not forget our instinctive reaction to people who cut us off on the freeway! These first thoughts, instinctive reactions and/or expressions on social media may occur before we have once prayed to God about the problem or meditated on the “trouble” given God’s instruction to us from His Word.

Let me be clear, there are many serious trials and tribulations that we may encounter in life. For James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, NIV). Consider it “pure joy…”, REALLY? It tough dealing with challenges like hate through racism. Lord, I really rather not have to deal with the stresses of racism or concern myself with how racism may impact my children. And what about other hardships? What if a couple is going through a rough patch in their marriage; a person is battling with serious illness; and/or coping with other inequities within society…I mean who really desires to be faced with these other difficult life circumstances.

Still, I want to encourage us to press into God (& His kingdom) more! Practicing patience, finding joy in hope, and being consistent in prayer (Romans 12:12) may help us to resolve our personal troubles. The book of Isaiah suggest that we do right; seek (require or demand) justice; defend the oppressed; take up the cause of the fatherless; and plead the case of the widow (Isaiah 1:17) within society. This is how we can work to address some major issues impacting our local communities. For the last part of Matthew 6:33 says, “…and all these things will be given to you as well.” Thus, God is telling us that racial reconciliation, health and recovery, a flourishing society, a better marriage, overcoming our personal challenges…can occur when we seek His kingdom and His righteousness.

No one is saying it will be easy, at least I’m not. As a matter of fact, or my opinion, I believe it may be extremely difficult to address challenging areas in our personal lives and socially. Plus, we must consider God’s timing and that His ideas may be different than our expectations. Still, working to seek God and His kingdom FIRST, is our FIRST step to addressing problems in our lives. Second, I believe it is important to change our own attitudes positively about the challenges that we experience. This is why James says, “consider it pure joy” and I am sharing with you that I am a “work in progress.” To help me, I am intentional about keeping positive and healthy family/friends/mentors around me from whom I can seek good advice and social-emotional-mental-physical-financial support. A church can be helpful in this endeavor as well. Finally, I also work to accomplish small tasks around me, challenging myself to take on bigger issues as I build momentum (confidence) with smaller successes.

So what about you? How do you address challenges in your life? What concerns can PHAME-US Life help to encourage you through from the “test” to the “testimony” for others to see? Feel free to share in the comments section or join us on social media. May God Bless You and Yours.

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021

I can remember hot Sundays and weekdays sitting in the pews of hot Mississippi churches listening to my grandmothers sing:

“This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine, (Ohhh!)

I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine

I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…”

If you have never heard a deep, southern gospel group of adults or even children sing this song, well, run to YouTube quickly and find some videos or download the music at Apple, Amazon, Google, etc. The song can be an uplift, whenever you need it most. I can still hear both of my grandmother’s voices in my inner ear, singing this song among the other church choir members. At one of my home churches in Mississippi, I can hear the choir singing under the direction of my aunt playing the piano and keying up the verses. I am telling you; the church was hot with the bright sun beams coming down on both of my family churches (in different parts of the State of Mississippi), but the song was “SANG” the same. I can still hear the passion in the voices of the choir, most of them older women: mothers, grandmothers, aunties, cousins, sisters, family…instructing us in the audience to let our light shine.

Most of the church was much older than me. My grandparents’ generation lived through World War II, Jim Crow Laws of the South, and the Civil Rights struggle and gains of the 20th Century. They combatted the ugliness of racism: burned down African American owned stores, fire bombed churches, challenges to perform the guaranteed civic duty of voting, discrimination, and racial bias in the Armed Services while fighting for the United States of America, inability to get farm loans, etc. because of the color of their skin. But through it all, they “let their light shine.” By law, it was determined that they would live as second-class citizens in the South, segregated as “separate and unequal” and through it all they “let their light shine.”

It didn’t matter if you were an older adult, adult, teenager, or child…in the church, listeners were told:

“Everywhere I go

I’m gonna let it shine

Everywhere I go

I’m gonna let it shine

Everywhere I go

I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

And why? Why did (do) we have to shine the light? It is true that the Bible reads, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NIV). But I tell you more practically, my grandmothers and the leaders of their generation were singing more practically. They were teaching and encouraging, saying to combat White Citizen’s Council policies, redlining, Jim Crow Laws, lynching, unlawful arrests, racial profiling, and other violations of African Americans (& People of Color) civil rights, we must let our light shine. They did GOOD when faced with EVIL, demonstrated LOVE when given HATE, and offered FORGIVENESS (not forgetfulness) when presented MEANNESS, OPPRESSION, and OFFENSE. The choir knew what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Let’s choose to love today and every day, loving our neighbor (others) as we do ourselves (Mark 12:31, NIV). Love to all of you and thank you for your leadership Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. May we continue to let our light shine!