Roy Exum: A Thanksgiving Opener

Monday, November 19, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Ever so often my dear friend Dale Brown, the former LSU basketball coach, will include me as he shares his wonderful thoughts, occasional devotions, and glittering ideas how we should be our best every day. Dale is an expert at motivation yet he’s got a friend whose insight I’ve grown to adore. When Dale was at LSU, he signed a stunning basketball player named Johnny O’Bryant III from the soil-rich Mississippi Delta country and, when the kid got to Baton Rouge, he immediately lit things up.

Johnny, who still holds scoring and rebounding records at LSU, was a second-round draft choice of the Bucks in the 2014 draft but once you play hoops for Dale Brown, a player and his family become part of Dale’s “family.” I’m in that group because Dale has been a deep friend for years.

Johnny’s dad, who was raised both black and poor in rural Mississippi, is a man of deep faith and sends a blog around the South to his friends. Over the weekend Dale sent one of Mr. O’Bryant’s best and, as I read it, I wondered what might happen if instead of our devotions at the end of the day this Thursday or the end of the week, we opened our Week of Thanks with the idea of loving each other a little bit more as we pause to give Thanks to not just our Savior but to those whose kindness and love we find every day.

* * *

“IT TAKES LOVE, NOT HATE” by Johnny O’Bryant Jr.

Have you wondered what you will say to your Creator after your time here on earth has expired?

We are born into this world under all types of circumstances, events and situations. We are not given a choice of who our parents will be, or country or culture we will have to grow up in.

I was born in an old raggedy shotgun shack surrounded by cotton fields. My parents were chronic alcoholics. I experienced lots of childhood abuse and witnessed a lot of violence between parents. Watched my siblings and I go into foster care and adoption.

That's all in my past, I'm sharing it to say... I could not choose my parents. It's not an excuse to misbehave and dislike anyone because of my unfortunate childhood. My past is the catalyst that makes me want to make a difference in the world today.

Our world today is filled with so much hate, anger, bitterness and divisiveness. It is so sad to witness the fall of humanity. People can't choose their parents, but they can choose how they respond to the hand that life dealt them.

1. Some people are born with gold and silver spoons in their mouths. It's not the child's fault that their parents had money, and how they acquired it. Stop hating the offspring, they are innocent. They couldn't choose their parents, God ordained the birth.

2. Some babies are born addicted to drugs because their parent is a drug addict. It's not the child's fault. Stop hating on the child born with disabilities and abnormalities. It's not the child's fault their biological parent is an addict. Pray for the child who had no choice, instead of hating on someone that's different.

3. Some children are born in war-torn countries. Bombs falling all around them every day. It's not the child's fault that their country is at war. Hate the war but not the descendants. It's not their fault the leaders do not value human life.

4.  Some children are born into famine, confronted with life threatening diseases. Most will probably die from the diseases and starvation. They couldn't choose their parents, or country at birth, they had no say in the matter. Why hate on someone that's poor, different and will probably die because no one cares enough to provide humanitarian aide? Hate the famine and diseases, but not the people. Did you lift a finger to ease their burden? All they want is a chance to survive, and live and have a chance at life, but considering their circumstances, most will not.

5. Why hate on another's man religion. Every religion was written by men, and each religion states, that their way of worship, is the correct way to worship, and everybody else's religion is wrong. No man is really able to categorize and define God, if they were able to, they themselves would be as wise as God. Although all religions are different, most have the same objectives, worship of a power greater than themselves. 

6. The lust for power, money and greed has caused mankind to turn its back on God focus morals, values and principles. People build walls of differences, and hide behind ideologies, convictions, and secret agendas, concealing the truth of their real motives. Which is gain an upper hand by oppressing the less fortunate. There's enough wealth in the world to cure all diseases and eliminate poverty.

We must face reality that a supernatural evil spiritual stronghold has grown in power upon this earth and taken possession of the hearts, mind and souls of many.

Mankind has cast aside the fundamental belief that God is in charge of this world. Instead the lust for money, power and greed has become God to many. Slowly over a period of time when God and prayer was removed from our schools, textbooks and lives. In it place we now have hate, divisiveness and immorality as never before.

Today we can no longer have a difference of opinion or an objection. If you do, you instantly become an enemy to someone, and you and your differences must be eliminated.

All is not lost, there is still hope, and that hope is in the power of the righteousness. We can no longer sit on the sidelines of life and do nothing. The word of God worked in days past and it is still at work today. We have to utilize and implement the message of hope, and that is, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?”

We are at a critical time in history where we must summon the power and strength of God to fight for us. If we are to bring about the desired changes we seek, then we must be prepared to go to spiritual war. Not with guns and violence but with our faith and belief in God. God is always available and ready to aide those who believe in Him.

So, when I stand before my Creator. I want to be remembered for being a champion for righteousness and justice: When asked each these questions I want my answer to be yes:

A. Did you take care of the widows and orphans?

B. Did you visit those that are incarcerated?

C. Did you feed the hungry, and give water to the thirsty?

D. Did you love thy neighbor as thyself?

E. Did you honor thy mother and father?

F. Did you advocate for injustices?

G. Did you love Thy God with all your heart, mind, soul and body?

God is always waiting to give us the strength, spirit and support we need to do His will. God is not going to fight our battles that we can fight for ourselves, but he will fight our battles that we aren't able to fight.

Fear is the enemy that separates us all. Replace fear with love and watch the difference that it will make in the world.

* * *

Let’s remember to give Thanks that each of us holds within us a spirit to make a difference. This week be the thanks that comes from a stranger’s lips.

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