The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in Culture Notes belong solely to the author. They are not and do not necessarily reflect the opinion(s) or position(s) of the organization, board of directors and/or any other individual(s) or entity (ies) affiliated or unaffiliated with Christians in Public Service, Inc. 


 

The Problem With America? The Body Of Christ Has Lost Its Way And The Blind Now Leads The Blind
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 10:05 AM

The Problem With America? The Body Of Christ Has Lost Its Way And The Blind Now Leads The Blind

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 10:05 AM
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 10:05 AM

We have a problem in this country and I don't know how many ways God can show us. Not being at all being critical but observant.

I get to speak at a number of venues. Many are faith-based while others are secular or a mix of both. Without exception, the secular audiences are always more diverse than Christian audiences.

The Christian audiences will either be all white or all black. If all white - Republican, Tea Party, right-wing - few if any moderates. Obama haters. Trump lovers.

If all black - Democratic. Liberal. Obama lovers. Trump haters.

Both audiences would identify as Christian, claim to love God (with conservative audiences putting their love for country on par with their love for God - God and country).

May I ask a question? How is it that the American flag is now part of the American experience of worship? But I digress.

I don't doubt anyone's profession of faith. But I doubt all day long some's commitment to the faith.

One day Jesus was walking with his disciples. The Bible says he was hungry and he saw a fig tree in full bloom. The blooms indicated the tree should have been filled with figs. It wasn't. It only looked like it was bearing fruit but it was barren. Jesus said to it, "may no one ever eat fruit from you again!" (Mark 11:12)

The fig tree, filled with leaves but no fruit, represented the nation of Israel. Israel was filled with religious leaders, religious leaders schooled in the law, religious leaders in the synagogues. Israel was full of religion, but spiritually barren.

This describes the church in America. America is filled with religious leaders; religious leaders schooled at the best seminaries; religious leaders that can exegesis and homiletic you into heaven; religious leaders leading mega ministries.

America is full of religion, but America is increasingly spiritually barren.

The declining numbers of those identifying as Christian prove it. 

The problem is not the NRA. The problem is not Donald John Trump. The problem is not Black Lives Matter. The problem is not the Republican Party. The problem is not the Democratic Party. The problem is not Antifa. The problem is not immigration. The problem is not the KKK. The problem is not Bob Mueller. The problem is not a do nothing Congress. The problem is not abortion. The problem is not same-sex marriage. The problem is not fake news. These are symptoms. The problem is not...

The biggest problems we have in America - name one - homelessness, the breakdown of the family, abortion, you name it --- ALL could be resolved IF the body of Christ were healthy.

I don't want to sound all "religiousy" so let me make this real simple. The body of Christ is "the church."

When you hear people talk about "the church," they're talking about the parts that make up the body... i.e., the people.

The church is not a building. Not a preacher. Not a denomination. The church is the body of Christ. And the body of Christ in America is sick!

There would not be the plethora of social problems in America if the body of Christ were healthy.

It looks healthy -- look at the beautiful mega buildings, the impressive mega ministries, the star power preachers and worship leaders; mega-watt Christian radio and Christian TV stations and best selling Christian books and Christian this and that .... fig trees.

Glamorous on the outside. Looking fertile on the outside, but its fruit is rotten.. separatism, racism, worldly politics, greed and hate permeate the innards of the American church body.

Jesus told us... left us with this, taught us this. We are the light of the world. But our light is dim and getting dimmer by the day.

The exponential darkness in the world can be tied to the exponential dimness of the church.

I'm not condemning. I'm not hating. I am just stating the obvious and saying what few are too afraid to say. I have no such fear.

Jesus said that the world will know we are His by our love for one another. We are so far from Jesus' standard of measurement.

Many in the body hate other parts of the body. When the body turns on itself it creates fatal diseases such as cancer and autoimmune diseases.

The body of Christ is no different. Why do you think Apostle Paul used the analogy of the body and body parts to describe the church?

Go to most any church on Sunday morning. I dare you. The body will either be all white. All black. All Hispanic. OR, mostly white. Mostly black. Mostly Hispanic.

Then look up in the pulpit. God help us.. the pulpit. When the pulpit has a cold, the body gets pneumonia. Well the pulpit in America has progressed from a cold to it having pneumonia and the body now has emphysema.

Just take a look the next time you're in any church. Every one of those preachers will either be all white. All black. All Hispanic. Or, there will be a window dresser.

If a baby is born with all legs, a leg where the head should be, but the brain is a leg. A leg where the heart should be, but the heart is a leg. The world of science would look at that body as deformed, sick and not able to live a full and effective life.

Don't you know Christians that millions in America look at us the same? Deformed, sick and ineffective.

We can't fool people anymore. Social media is putting all of our fig trees on display and while we look "Christianly," act "Christianly," sing "Christianly," and speak Christianese - many are as barren as that fig tree in Mark 11.

When the world looks at the body of Christ it sees a sick, deformed body.

Christians, our body is sick. And God will continue to show us how sick we are through calamity, natural disasters, societal upheaval, the innocent being slaughtered and unrest.

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men." - Matthew 5:13

"You are the light of the world... Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:14

The world looks at the body of Christ and laughs. It looks at its preachers and leaders and laughs even harder.

You, me , we are being trampled under foot and no one but God can save America and no one but God can make America great.

Obama was here, now off the scene. How is that hope and change working for us?

Trump is here and too will be off the scene. Will America be any greater?

Church people who have bowed to their politics and made it their God; this President their savior; and, again it seems their race as superior.... what are you going to do when you see a Barack Obama or an Al Sharpton standing next to you in heaven?

Or those who abhor Donald Trump, what are you going to do when you see him standing next to you in heaven?

No one knows a man's or woman's heart but God. If the vilest of sinners accepted Christ on his or her death bed and you lived a holy life all your life, guess what? That vile person is going to be just as accepted in eternity as you or me.

Think on that a minute.

We ought to quit, church folks, and instead of trying to remove the speck of wood in everyone else's eye who don't agree with our politics; or, are not of our tribe, we need to first remove the plank from our own.

The litmus test is no longer if we love the LORD with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind and our neighbor as our self - it is now whether we love the Republican or Democratic Party with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind... and those who look like us as our self.

As much as I love God; as educated as I am in theology; as much as I love all people, as strong as my walk is with God, I wouldn't any more be welcomed with open arms in a predominately white, conservative church than anything. Why? Because my politics don't line up with their pulpit and the people in the pews.

I have had white Christians, who I thought were friends, unfriend me on Facebook the moment I criticized Donald Trump.

Conversely, I have had black Christians who don't even know me take a strong dislike to me because I dared criticize Barack Obama.

My allegiance is to the God I serve and to the Jesus who died on the cross for me. I don't live my life on the likes of people but on the grace and love of God. And my freedom, confidence and resourcefulness is in Him.

The problem with America? The body of Christ has lost its way and the blind is now leading the blind.... right over the cliff.


Dorothy Burton is an author, conference and keynote speaker for various organizations and governments across the country. She is the author of the new book, Why We Fall: The Power of Self-Awareness.

Interested in having Dorothy speak at your event? Please complete the SPEAKING REQUEST below.

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How Long Oh God, How Long? Another Innocent Life Taken at the Hands of One Sworn to Protect and Serve
Saturday, September 8, 2018 6:53 AM

How Long Oh God, How Long? Another Innocent Life Taken at the Hands of One Sworn to Protect and Serve

Saturday, September 8, 2018 6:53 AM
Saturday, September 8, 2018 6:53 AM

Botham Shem Jean: Photo: Jeff Montgomery/Harding University

Went to bed late. My heart and mind on Botham Jean. As a mother...Another mother grieving the loss of her innocent son at the hands of a police officer. Shot dead in his home by an off-duty Dallas police officer who "thought" he was an intruder in "her apartment." It doesn't make sense and her story stinks to high heaven and beyond.

How do you not know when you open the door to your apartment that something is amiss and that YOU, not the occupant are in the wrong place. This female officer's story is just that - a story. A tale of her own making to try and cover her tail. 

I am blue through and through but Houston. DALLAS. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA...WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM.

When America turned its back on God, He is showing us a glimpse of what it looks like as He turns His face from us.

His church for the most part is weak, some of his leaders have sold out to Baal and leading millions that way. I see more and more each day why Jesus said the way is narrow.

Few will find it and when they do the devil makes them THINK it's not only narrow but way too restrictive and jump on the broader path to appease, please and live as they please....only to discover later that the glitter was only fool's gold.

So we weep. We mourn. We call press conferences. We rally. We hold candlelight vigils. All good. But until God's church rise up, takes its rightful (not Republican right) place as He meant it to be...we will continue to experience what it looks like when God turns his face.

When America turned its back on God, He is showing us a glimpse of what it looks like as He turns His face from us.

And please don't miss the fact that He is using not thugs, not bad guys but good ones. Those who publicly identify with him. Jordan. Now Botham.

So many men, good men, good black men who the world CAN'T scorn and curse and dismiss. He is not taking the best, he is BRINGING home the best in ways that should drive home... Houston. Dallas. America...we've got a problem.

May the God of ALL COMFORT, comfort this grieving mother and family and may JUSTICE FOR BOTHAM be swift and sure.


Dorothy Burton is an author, conference and keynote speaker for various organizations and governments across the country. She is the author of the new book, Why We Fall: The Power of Self-Awareness.

Interested in having Dorothy speak at your event? Please complete the SPEAKING REQUEST below.

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The Reality of Conviction and Leadership
Tuesday, September 4, 2018 9:46 AM

The Reality of Conviction and Leadership

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 9:46 AM
Tuesday, September 4, 2018 9:46 AM

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt,” Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback posted on Twitter Labor Day afternoon.

Nike has caused a firestorm by its corporate decision to use Kaepernick as the face of its 30th anniversary campaign.

Kaepernick in 2016 began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem prior to NFL games to protest police shootings and racial injustices against African Americans. The act was and is cursed by some, hailed by others, but nonetheless influenced players across the NFL to do the same.

"The movement also caught the attention of President Trump, who lambasted Kaepernick and other players who participated in the pregame protests. Last September, the president called on NFL owners to fire any player who kneeled during the national anthem." - FOXBusiness.com | 9.3.2018

MY TAKE ON KAEP

Every major cultural shift and change began with the courage of one person who had a conviction, rightly or wrongly so strong that nothing, not criticism, not loss of money, status, position or possessions, even the possibility of death couldn't deter them.

History is replete with them. Jesus himself had that kind of conviction. The founders of what would be America had that kind of conviction. Martin, Mandela, Hitler, Cassius Clay, had that kind of conviction.

More hated these men than loved them. Yet, they left their indelible mark on history and changed it. So will this man in this slice of culture. And there's nothing anybody can do about it.

Stop buying tickets, stop watching the games...even his conviction caused that and his place in history becomes even more solidified because his conviction caused YOU to change YOUR behavior.

That's what people with conviction do. Those who stopped buying tickets, watching the game...it was a decision made because of the actions of a person with this kind of conviction. Bending to the will of the convictor by forcing an unplanned change in personal behavior. Bringing even more attention to their cause. It's what people of conviction cause people to do.

Nobody ever knows, let alone remembers the names of the masses but history always records and remembers the name of the one who greatly impacted the masses.

MY TAKE ON THE PRESIDENT'S RESPONSE

Leaders by nature are problem solvers.

Leaders don't see a fire and run for the nearest can of gasoline.

For every man or woman of conviction who initiated a shift in culture, there was a leader to bring order to the pursuant chaos.

This unfortunately is not part of President Trump's DNA. He is an antagonist who thrives on chaos and where there is none, he creates it. The opposite historically has not been the case.

Imagine an MLK without an LBJ; a Hitler without a Churchill or a Roosevelt.

A leader understands that both sides are both right and both sides are both wrong and has the strength of character, temperament, wisdom, courage and moral compass to work with both sides, taking neither side; for the good of the whole.

True leaders don't lambast, they lead.

The culture is shifting on both sides. The tragedy is instead of leaders reaching for solutions they keep running for more gas cans.


Dorothy Burton is an author, conference and keynote speaker for various organizations and governments across the country. She is the author of the new book, Why We Fall: The Power of Self-Awareness.

Interested in having Dorothy speak at your event? Please complete the SPEAKING REQUEST below.

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Don't Let Benjamin Fool You - All Money Ain't Good Money
Monday, August 20, 2018 4:55 PM

Don't Let Benjamin Fool You - All Money Ain't Good Money

Monday, August 20, 2018 4:55 PM
Monday, August 20, 2018 4:55 PM

For the consumer if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.  For the public official if a deal is too good to be true, it’s probably illegal.

Kickbacks, bribery, extortion, graft – as a former elected leader and now as one who writes about public sector leadership and teaches it, it saddens me to see the increasing number of public officials across the country and here at home being stung by stings; duped then dumped, while naively being swept away by the fleeting pleasure of temporary power. Self-absorbed in a system they know well but not nearly well enough to absolutely beat. 

One of the first lessons we learn in driver education is never try to outrun the train because the train will likely win. One of the first lessons public servant leaders should learn is never try to outsmart the system because the odds of beating it are not in your favor

People campaign to serve people, not serve time.  Moreover, none of them run for office with the goal of being run out of office, do they?  What happens?  Three words; greed, influence and money.

For many getting elected to public office is the biggest thing ever to happen to them, no matter how small the city. They get invited as special guests to special events where they sit in special seats reserved for special people. 

They get to rub shoulders with dignitaries and VIPs whom otherwise would not give them the time of day.

For the economically challenged that translates into having nice suits, cars or jewelry, things long desired but for the bribe would never have been able to afford. 

The icing on the cake is making the A-list of the big ballers and shot callers. Sweet.

As sweet as all of this can be, what makes it still sweeter for some is the influence – the power to hold sway over people, projects and programs.  And like bees to honey, influence always attracts money. 

But as we say in my neck of the woods, all money ain’t good money – especially for those who oversee the public’s money.

Admittedly, it can all be pretty heady. People recognize elected leaders from social media, news media and from community events. They want to stop and chat when they see them out in public and can get one-on-one face time. Some politicians and public servants have become virtual celebrities - especially in minority communities where this has been a long tradition.

They may not have money but they sure dress nice and drive nice cars. Politicians and preachers particularly in black communities are put on pedestals. And recent events, particularly in Dallas, have shown that it only takes a few dollars to knock some off their vaulted position of importance.

When Dallas City Councilman and longtime African American leader, Dwaine Caraway abruptly resigned his council seat earlier this month after pleading guilty to public corruption charges, many were saddened but not surprised. 

There have been a number of Dallas officials busted for corruption with only one beating the system. This is in no way an indictment of Mr. Caraway, that is the job of the feds.

It nonetheless angered some and disappointed others when Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, only a day following Mr. Caraway's resignation, had this to say to a group of business leaders at an event for the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

“Too often public servants that come from poor parts of our city are caught in and let themselves be caught in a trap around money, around economic inclusion, because they don’t have any money,” Rawlings said.

He went on to say that financial upbringing isn't an excuse for corruption, but still the damaging and to some the devastating statement relating poverty (and veiled being black and poor) to corruption had already caused for some, hurt feelings and for others disgust and anger.

But observation will tell us the Mayor was somewhat right. Of the elected leaders in Dallas and Dallas County accused and convicted of corruption all but one has been white. The others, black from and representing economically depressed areas of the city.

Are poorer representatives more likely to be corrupted? In Dallas that has been the case but certainly not around the country. What those in Dallas have been found guilty of, many non-minority officials have been accused and convicted of taking much more.

“Too often public servants that come from poor parts of our city are caught in and let themselves be caught in a trap around money, around economic inclusion, because they don’t have any money.” - Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

Corruption has less to do with economic poverty than it does moral conviction. At the core of corruption is greed. The desire for the material to compensate for what is lacking in other areas of life.

Even still, as a keeper of the public's trust I teach those looking to run for leadership positions to make up in their mind and decide in the core of their being what lines they will not cross - and stick to it! 

Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan once stated, " You need a core inside you. A core that directs everything you do. You confer with it for guidance. It is not negotiable. No amount of money will make you violate the core. If you don't have that, then forget about elective politics. If you do, then it will guide you well."

Some would argue that money is neither good nor bad – depending upon how it is used.  Not so with public officials – it doesn’t depend so much on how they use it, but how they obtain it.

And if they use the particularities of their public positions (i.e., influence, access, clout, connections, etc.) to surreptitiously obtain it for personal benefit rather than for the public’s benefit, then that money becomes bad money the moment they get it in their greedy hands. 

Bad money is always bad news for any public official, no matter how “bad” they think they've become.

So, where do you draw the line?  How do you know when you’re headed for a train wreck, about to take a kamikaze hit to your career or are being set up in a sting? 

 " You need a core inside you. A core that directs everything you do. You confer with it for guidance. It is not negotiable. No amount of money will make you violate the core. If you don't have that, then forget about elective politics. If you do, then it will guide you well." - Barbara Jordan

Look below. Though presented lightheartedly, don’t take them lightly because they have been the death of many careers. 

Know that if you are taking any of these, you had better look over your shoulder because someone is gaining on you. It will only be a matter of time before you are caught red-handed.  

Three things I have learned about the FBI and federal government; 1) they have a lot of time 2) they have a lot of patience; and, 3) they will provide a lot of rope for officials to hang themselves. Take a look then examine yourself:

  • Play Money – The private sector is growing increasingly resentful of having to “pay to play” in the government game.   If you are charging a price for admission, be careful.  The count is 3-2 and it’s the bottom of the ninth.  The next pitch could be a strike from a pitcher who is a sub for the men in black.
  • Lunch Money – there is no free lunch.  In public office, “free” is rarely free. Wine and dine at your own expense and regardless of what your mother taught you while in office, always look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • Blood Money – using the power of your office to profit off the backs of the most vulnerable and least suspecting.  Don’t keep what you are supposed to allocate.
  • Milk Money – you can only milk a cow for so long.  Pigs are not the only ones that squeal. 
  • Hush Money – if you must hide it to keep it quiet, you shouldn’t take it. Hush money will eventually speak volumes.
  • Funny Money – if it makes you feel “funny” when you take it, give it back. That’s your conscience talking to you.  Listen to it – otherwise, the last laugh will be on you.
  • Bonus Money – reporting it is a lot smarter than hoarding it. List it or leave it.
  • Easy Money – getting paid to look the other way while others do their dirty work; or worse, having others do your dirty work while you rake in the cash.
  • Mad Moneyskimming money off the top because you’ve come to resent a system that doesn’t pay you what you think you deserve or appreciates your perceived value. You deserve it, right?  Wrong. Get a second job.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, just elemental.  These have been the downfall of many and if you have skated by, be thankful.

But if you depend on either of these to fund your lifestyle and feed your ego, be careful.

There will be the eventual knock at your door and it will not be girl scouts selling cookies, but officers serving a warrant. 

One of the simple lessons I learned during my many years in public service is that it is never too late to get right, but you have to get right before it is too late.

Don’t exchange for chump change that which you have worked so hard to accomplish because in the end, that is all to which it will amount. Your integrity is priceless, so is your name. 

Once you sell them you can never buy them back. Redeemable yes, restored, not hardly.

No matter if you represent a hundred people or hundreds of thousands of people as a public official, in the public eye, be assured of two things – someone is always watching and someone will always tell – always.

Take these to the bank. Just don't take those Benjamins with you.

"Nothing is hidden except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. If anyone hears let him hear." - Jesus
(Mark 4:22-23)


Dorothy Burton is an author, conference and keynote speaker for various organizations and governments across the country. She is the author of the new book, Why We Fall: The Power of Self-Awareness.

Interested in having Dorothy speak at your event? Please complete the SPEAKING REQUEST below.

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Compass or Weather Vane: Which Type Leader Are You?
Friday, August 3, 2018 3:29 PM

Compass or Weather Vane: Which Type Leader Are You?

Friday, August 3, 2018 3:29 PM
Friday, August 3, 2018 3:29 PM

I'm not a Republican or a Democrat or even an Independent. I've finally found the term that describes me best politically... Pragmatic. I am a Pragmatist.

Admittedly pragmatism like common sense and statesmanship have waned considerably, but I've never been one to lick my finger and stick up in the air to see which way the wind is blowing before I move or take action.

That's a weather vane leader. I'm a compass. Which are you? A weather vane, blowing with the winds of popularity; or, a compass with clear principles always in the direction true north?

True leaders stand for something. They stand on rock-solid principles. Politicians on the shifting sands of politics, blowing back and forth with the changing winds of party platform. It's why I'm not a politician and don't aspire to be ever again.

Principles are timeless and rock solid, not so with politics. It's why politicians with principles are compasses not weather vanes and are not just rare, but extremely rare and becoming extinct.

While weather vane politicians are a dime a dozen and appear to be flourishing, they are short-lived. They will serve and die with hardly anyone remembering they even lived. Or, perhaps reduced to merely a name etched on the side of a building or monument erected somewhere in their honor; which according to weather vane politics, may be subject to someday be razed.

One thing about the weather, it can be raining today and sunshine tomorrow. Everyone will enjoy the sun, having forgotten it ever even rained.

It's how easily and quickly people forget weather vane leaders - as if they never even served. 


Dorothy Burton is a conference and keynote speaker; and, workshop leader for various organizations across the country. As a author and speaker, Dorothy writes, speaks and teaches to inspire, encourage and enlighten in the areas of leadership, purpose, faith and culture. She uses her gift of communication, principled and pragmatic approach to leadership to help leaders and those aspiring to lead, learn and discover more effective ways to lead, communicate, work and serve.

Interested in having Dorothy speak at your event? Please complete the SPEAKING REQUEST below.

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Personal and Essential Leadership Qualities for Public Servant Leaders

Bouncing Back From Defeat: What To Do When You Run For Office But Lose