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Monday July 23, 2007


Day 50 - Dublin to Reidville GA 70.5 miles, 4:50

The first day of Week 8 was underway. With Chris and Frankie heading home to Tampa, it was just Winston and me and the rolling pine forests of central Georgia.

The Georgia clay is turning to Florida sand and the Atlantic Ocean is two days away.

I have wanted for days to write about today's "thought for the day" and the opportunity couldn't have presented itself any clearer to me.

First of all, let's get this straight. I didn't see a black person in one of my convenient store stops until I was in central Illinois. That's a long way from the northwest coast west of Seattle.

That's not to say there isn't racial diversity out west, but let's face it, where I was, it was just not very evident.

Today, in a state where you see as many black people as any other race, the testimony we heard sounded unreal.

We pulled into a convenient store 30-miles southeast of Dublin in Soperton, GA. We were outside when Winston, who is black, struck up a conversation with a lifelong resident (above).

"We still have slavery here in Soperton," the silver-haired, sun dried man said through his car window. "This town is still backwards."

Slavery? Come on?

We don't really know what he meant by that and didn't really press him on it, as he continued to tell Winston some crazy stuff. Apparently the town recently voted into office for the first time an elected official who is black, according to this source. And, the powers that be are making it very tough on any person town who is known to be a supporter of that elected official.

Sounds like the pre-Doctor King south. And it's 2007?

My friend Jim Lucier, who drove through our campsite earlier this evening on his way to Atlanta, said that he was aware of towns in southern Georgia where there are still black high school proms and white high school proms. It's legal and encouraged by both sides, he said.

The discussion is unbelievable, and I'll leave it to you to search your heart on it.

Jesus's heart was clear in Matthew 22:

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." when He told us the greatest commandment: to Love the Lord with all your heart. Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)

A key phrase in that verse is "Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus didn't say your white, or black or purple neighbor, did he? No.

To hate your neighbor, you have to hate yourself first. And, that's impossible when you allow your "self" to die on the cross with Christ. When you do, He will replace your old, hateful heart with His own.

Paul tells a lot of what we need to know about the heart of Christ, as he instructs us to be like Christ in Philippians 2.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
 but made himself nothing,
      taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
         even death on a cross!
 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
      and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV)

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 J. Boe Ellis - 813.732.0619