Monthly Archives: November 2016

I’m Just Getting Started

I am just some guy who has seen some things.  I have very little power or influence relative to the enormity of what we face.  I have never, and with my history never will, entered the arena of politics or law enforcement.  I lack the training of a lawyer and the connections of a celebrity.  So do I sit idly by and watch my people: my generation, my government, my Church and my nation fail?  It would seem easier and smarter to just “look on the bright side”.  Why not?  “Find the silver lining, you’re really good at that”, they say. After all, it makes people feel better and doesn’t generally offend anyone, but…

How can I not be horrified?

As I watch a replay of all of the most sinister kinds of injustice I know to have happened in the modern world.

How can I not be terrified?

As everything I thought made me who I am is made less and less valuable in the nation I call home.

How can I be silent?

As my heart breaks every time I dare to look beyond my little world.

I follow Jesus.  I try to act, to think, to be as much like Him as I can.  What does that mean?  It means I care more about others than I do myself.  It means that being comfortable in this world is not my greatest priority.  It means that I am a radical with very little respect for institutional authority.  It means I see things differently then those who are “successful” in the world I inhabit.  I don’t look to my career, my bank account or even my family (whom I adore) to weigh the value of my time on this Earth.  And it means, in no uncertain terms, that things may end badly for me in this life, so…

When my fellow countryman have elected a man who (whether he wanted to or not) has inspired and emboldened people to hate their neighbor, because we have decided that our needs are more important than our values I cannot just “get on board.”

When I see my government engaged in what can only be described as barbaric treatment of a people group whose land we stole to begin with I cannot just trust that it will all work out.

When my Church looks so much more like an exclusive members only club than a movement of people who were meant to be different in all the ways that matter I cannot just fit in.

When my nation refuses to accept that there is an unbalanced, racially slanted system of injustice that has merely changed it’s mask I won’t stay ignorant of its existence or tolerant of its perpetrators.

So I start with speaking my heart, instead of my mind.

I continue by educating myself, not only by learning from sources that agree with me, but by engaging all sides of the coin.  The truth will always be the truth, and I usually find it somewhere in the tension between  the “facts”.  My education, however, cannot stop with facts.  I will become a student of my fellow man.  I will care when it is inconvenient and get involved where I don’t have to or probably shouldn’t.  When I see injustice I will stand with those who are suffering, even if it knocks me down a peg.  And MOST IMPORTANTLY, I will live a life, rather than just write a blog or article, that my children will read.  One that tells them that putting others before themselves may or may not put them at a disadvantage in this world, but that this world is not what it has ever been about.

Can I Please Get a Witness!?

witness
I get paid, primarily, to talk. My words are meant to be used to inspire, teach and encourage. I have also found passion in writing. Blogs, articles, even a book. (Maybe more, who knows.). But can we be real for a minute?  Words are a dime a dozen. For every catchy phrase or inspiring story there are a thousand more that head in any number of opposing directions. That’s why Jesus didn’t call the church to be His great communicators, He called us to be His witnesses.
Witnesses may or may not persuade, but that’s not up to them. Their only real job is to oathshare what they saw, heard, felt; what they experienced. And let me tell you what makes an effective witness: credibility.  An effective  witness isn’t necessarily one that can articulate what they experienced, it’s the one you believe.  In a day and age when everyone has an agenda words are cheap.  But show me someone who has been changed by what they witnessed; a person who came out the other side different? That is credibility.  Let me see that your experience affected you beyond the immediate circumstances and then I’ll listen.  Anything less is suspect.
So, Church, this one’s for you. You say that Jesus died so that you might make the crossimpossible journey from your sinful self to a redeemed child of God. That because of what He did you are no longer assured damnation for your sins but have in fact been saved from your fate and instead been grafted in to the family of God.  You claim that you are the beneficiary of the atrocity of the cross.  Basically, you enjoy the gifts that came from someone else’s unjust pain and suffering.
How could you not spend your life in service to those who are suffering as you should have?  
How can your heart not break when you see others beaten down by injustice?  
I was having breakfast with a great friend and colleague this morning.  It has been some time since we had a chance to see each other so we crammed everything in from “How are the wife and kids?” to “How about that election?”  In the course of our conversation this idea came up.  We both work in full time ministry and have come to the same conclusion.  Your words are not what will inspire people, what will make a difference; only your life can do that.  Do you actually care for others when it isn’t convenient or even smart?  Do you sacrifice your own comfort or happiness to help others find the joy that supposedly changed you? Do you live your life like someone who has actually been a witness to the most incredible event to ever take place?
If so, then let me remind you that right now in our country there are men,  women and injustice-1children who are suffering injustice that they don’t deserve.  Even as we prepare to sit down and celebrate, or hopefully solemnly remember that EVERY AMERICAN CITIZEN (who is not indigenous) benefits from an atrocity that we had nothing to do with, but we benefit from just the same.  Let me remind you that there are men, women and children that are not enjoying the free gift that came at the labor of someone who didn’t need to lift a finger to help them.  So, Church, can I please get a witness!?

We the People…

president-elect

I am going to just be frank with you: I woke up with a sick feeling in my stomach this morning.  And yes, it was because Donald Trump won the election.  And yes, that is a problem for me because I believe him to be a man of poor temperament who actively perpetuates ideas that are ethnocentric, xenophobic and misogynistic.  Bottom line: he seems hateful and bigoted. My initial gut level reaction has been to rely on the reality, and it IS a reality, that my hope lies in God not man.  This truth has moved the immovable, changed the unchangeable, redeemed the non-redeemable.  Not the least of which was me.  And because I know that so deeply, I want to share that truth with all of those who are hurting and scared about the idea of  what a Trump presidency will mean.

In my earnest desire to help the hurting heal I want to remind people of that reality.  But my reality isn’t the same as that of the children who are afraid their parents will be taken away from them.  It isn’t the same as that of the mother of two girls who spent her whole life fighting to be treated as equal.  And it isn’t the same as that of the father who simply cannot afford to insure his family because his son has a “pre-existing condition”  and subsequently lives in fear that anything will happen.  I am a white, middle class, heterosexual man which doesn’t mean life is never hard for me, believe me.  However, there are men, women and children who woke up afraid this morning.  Not because they don’t know what the future holds, but because they believe they do.  If I really want to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are hurting and scared, those who are weeping, I simply need to weep with them; sit with them; be present and listen.

In our culture there is almost nothing more effective and more powerful than listening.  Not listening so that we know how to respond; not waiting the respectful amount of time praying1before we “drop some knowledge”.  I mean to listen intentionally.  The kind of listening that has me watching the faces of those who are speaking and see the emotions that are swirling around behind their eyes.  When I allow my self to become so totally engrossed in what they are saying that I imagine what it would be like to be them.  I have seen this play out in all different relationships in my life.  With folks that are different from me.  I have had the chance to really listen to the homeless and come to sittingunderstand that they are not what I assume them to be.  I have had the chance to listen to the African American community on issues of racial injustice and have moved my heart closer to their struggle.  I have had the chance to listen to the LGBTQ community and feel a deep and personal sense of remorse and repentance surrounding how the Church has treated them.  It is these type of connections that make us the UNITED States of America, ONE nation under God.  And it is this very thing that I fault Donald Trump for failing to do.

I need to admit that I don’t actually know what kind of man he is.  I know what I have read and seen in my research (yes, I did research) but I recognize that almost everything written now-a-days is biased or slanted in one way or another.  But that isn’t the point of this post.  Here comes the really uncomfortable part. I need to apologize to Donald Trump’s supporters.  I have seen your posts and read your articles and I will be honest, some of them were absurd.  But to assume that someone either practices or condones the things I believe he is guilty of simply because they support him for president is hypocritical of me.  I have listened to folks who support him. I have some very close friends who are happy that he won. They see this election as a victory for everyday people.  They are feeling disenfranchised and oppressed by the very wealthy in our country, by those with more power than them.  I still believe that his campaign was driven by fear. But I cannot fault people for being afraid; for feeling like something, anything, needed to change.

So where do we go from here? Nowhere.  We stay right where we are and take responsibility for our nation.  Whether you think that Donald Trump will be the worst downloadpresident in history and the government is no longer of any use to us, or you think that Donald Trump’s victory is a celebration of the everyday people of America finally having a say in our country, the outcome should be the same: We the People of the United Sates need to take personal responsibility in making this nation the greatest version of itself and we need to do it together!  How do we take personal responsibility together?  I’d be lying if I said I knew exactly how, but I promise you it starts with listening.