Rules For Radicals: Things That Should Be Required Before Burning The Flag


Have you heard about the latest fad in our country? It has nothing to do with hairstyles or clothing. This fad that seems to be sweeping the country actually has something to do with our country. More specifically, the flag.

At Louisiana State University, a few students planned on burning an American flag until their display was interrupted by several hundred cajuns who made them think better of their plans. Students at LSU haven’t had anything to scream about, other than firing their football coach, in years so they had no problem yelling down a few protestors. America 1, Flag Haters 0.

At a school in South Carolina, a student was told to remove the American flag that was flying from the back of his truck. School administrators thought better of their decision when several parents showed up with flags of their own. If you’re a principal and you want more community involvement in your South Carolina high school, make a kid take down the American flag from the back of his truck. America 2, Flag Haters 0.

And at Valdosta State University, a student organized a flag burning on campus but, again, had a change of heart when a female Air Force veteran stopped the insanity. I’m not sure how you explain that one back at terrorist headquarters.

“How was the flag burning, Che?”

“Not good, comrade.”

“What happened?”

“It got busted up by some part-time model who used to be in the Air Force.”

I must have missed something. Maybe it’s because I’ve given up on talk radio and televised news. But at what point did it become fashionable for people to walk all over the flag and burn it and make high school kids take them down from their trucks?

Look, I know that America isn’t perfect. We certainly have our share of problems. You might even say that we get a new set of problems with each new day. But what exactly does hating the flag do to help all of that?

If you don’t like the flag, why can’t you just ignore it and move on? Why create a scene? There’s a classroom in my church where a Georgia Tech mug is on display for all to see. Well, I hate Georgia Tech. Any God-fearing man should. But I’m not planning on burning that mug anytime soon. I am however still searching for Bible verses to support my theological position that Georgia Tech and the Philistines were somehow related. I’ll get back to you on that one.

As much as I hate it, people in our country have a right to walk on the flag or burn it. But before they fire up the protest, here are a few steps that I think should be required before the big event.

1. Exactly one week before the flag burning, the angry protestor is required to inform the nearest gang of Vietnam and Gulf War veteran bikers where and when the festivities will take place.

I’m all for the angry protestor’s right to free speech, even if that means he’s burning the flag.

I’m also all for the angry biker gang’s right to free speech, even if that means that they have to use a few Old Testament tactics on the flag burner.

By my estimation, this would reduce the amount of flag burnings in this country by 93%.

2. Anyone wishing to burn or desecrate the American flag must also burn and desecrate any benefits or handouts they are receiving from the government.

If you hate America enough to burn the flag, you should hate her enough to not receive the free money that she so loves to hand out. When you have to burn the flag to prove your point, most rationale people tune you out. When you decide to burn the flag while talking on your government provided smart phone and munching on WIC approved Ramen Noodles, you really lose the rationale crowd.

Now our flag burnings are down by about 98%. We’re on our way.

3. All flag burnings must take place at the National Guard Armory during professional wrestling matches.

Preferably this will happen somewhere within a 100 mile radius of Thomaston, Georgia. And preferably it will all go down just after an aging Rock and Roll Express loses their Mid-Atlantic Cruiser Weight Tag Team Title to Southside Trash and somewhere around the time that Tommy Rich has to shave his head because he lost to Arn Anderson due to the fact that Tully Blanchard hit him from behind with a folding chair.

I only saw my sister lose it one time in my life. That was when Stan Hansen beat Tommy Wildfire Rich and got to shave his head. My sister threw her bowl of boiled peanuts at the TV. My mom wouldn’t let her watch wrestling for a month after that. Somehow, I don’t think that kids in other parts of the world get in trouble for that sort of thing. Ah, the south.

Anyway, I don’t think that there will be much flag burning happening at the Armory when a bunch of disgruntled 40 somethings file out into the parking lot only to find out that some disgruntled hipster in skinny jeans is trying to make it even more difficult to get to the Huddle House. Those wrestling fans may not ever be able to get even with the ones who assaulted Tommy Rich’s hair but they’d be more than happy to take out their frustrations on a flag burner.

It sure is hard to burn a flag when a couple of hundred people are throwing bowls of boiled peanuts at you.

So that brings our flag burnings down 100%.

America 3, Flag Haters 0.

America wins again.

And somehow, so does Tommy Wildfire Rich.

image credit

News From The Future

Local Terror Cell Busted, Children Rescued

April 1, 2016

Several members of an Atlanta terrorist organization were arrested Thursday afternoon at their home on Spring Street which was also doubling as headquarters for the operation.

John David Stutts, 36, and Kara Lee Stutts, 34, both residents of Atlanta are said to be the leaders of the organization known as New Life. Police were first tipped off about the organization in January when the Stutts’ two children did not return to school after Winter Yule Lore Break due to a disagreement with the school’s administration.

When the state’s mandatory tolerance classes known as Government Union of Legislators Advancing Growth (GULAG) were announced earlier in the year, the Stutts children were not allowed to attend because of their parent’s beliefs. Stutts had filed a formal complaint with the school system to keep his children out of the classes, citing troublesome passages from archaic texts. GULAG classes became the law in all 50 states at the beginning of the 2015/2016 school year. The law prohibits religious expression of any kind and mandates that all pre-K through sixth grade children take a weekly series of sensitivity training courses that includes lectures from area feminists, memorizing Indigo Girls songs and binge watching Will and Grace reruns.

Kris Waterspoon, a well respected transgendered member of the community and the principal of Frank Marshall Elementary School, the school the Stutts children attended, immediately sent John David Stutts’ complaint the the federal government’s Bureau Overseeing Worship (BOW). Several months later, when John David Stutts refused to allow his children to receive the state’s mandatory hate vaccine and did not return them to educational care following Winter Yule Lore Break, Principal Waterspoon immediately contacted the local authorities, fearing that the Stutts children were being homeschooled, an activity that is not outlawed in 19 states, including Georgia.

For the following three months, the city of Atlanta’s Task Force Overseeing Religion (ACT FOR) monitored the activities of the Stutts family. Johnny Tyler oversaw the investigation.

“After just a few nights of surveillance, we discovered the the Stutts residence was more than just a home. Two nights a week it was doubling as some sort of church. We knew then that our work was close to being done. All we had to do was watch the church for a few weeks to see how the people were acting. Several of our agents went undercover to join the church. We’ve done this at other locations but, thankfully, the churches were no different than other community meetings. We had no evidence, other than the name or the fact that they met on Sundays, to prove that they were a church. New Life was different. They seemed to take the Bible seriously. That’s when we knew that it was time to make our move.”

Just before making their move, ACT FOR agents discovered one other piece of evidence that helped their case even more. John David Stutts owned a company that had several government contracts. This was a clear violation of the nearly unanimously approved House Bill 180 which prohibits government contractors from having any religious affiliation.

Early Thursday afternoon, a joint task force of city police, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security raided the home during a weekly lunch meeting where members of New Life met to allegedly discuss how to serve the community. John David Stutts and his wife Kara Lee Stutts were arrested along with three other church leaders, John Leggit Hunter, Jerry Pontosious White and Donald Ray White.

But according to officer Johnny Tyler, the case is not over.

“There were 20 to 30 people attending New Life services each week. These are people who did more than attend. They carried their beliefs out into society with them. If you have any information on these people, please contact ACT FOR immediately. Members of New Life are intolerant and should therefore be considered extremely dangerous.”

The three Stutts children were taken back into state custody where they are said to be safe in the GULAG.


Gayle Tucker ~ Ithaca, New York

It’s good to see our government officials finally make these intolerant hate mongers shut up.

Eric Best ~ Greenville, Oregon

I’m a Christian and I’m all for free speech and freedom of religion but Sutts and his kind have taken it too far.

Sean Perry ~ Dunwoody, Georgia

IT’S ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Geoff Ferrell ~ Charleston, South Carolina

Comment deleted by The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Web Management. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Mr. Ferrell, please contact us immediately.

Comments section closed.

A Better Test Of Your Southernicity

Last weekend I took an online test that was supposed to tell me if I was a real southerner. I passed with flying colors. But I still didn’t feel good about my accomplishment. Most of the questions had to do with Elvis and Gone With the Wind. There are people who live in Iceland who know an awful lot about Elvis and Gone With the Wind but that doesn’t make them true southerners. In an effort to keep people from developing a false sense of security regarding their southernicity, I developed a better test.

1. What do you do when your cat has a whole bunch of kittens and you don’t want any of them?

a.) Contact the proper authorities and have them come and pick up the precious bundles of joy.

b.) Make a cardboard sign that reads, Free Baby Kittens, take it to a Wal-Mart parking lot on a Saturday afternoon with said “baby kittens” and sit in a folding chair next to your Pontiac. The problem should take care of itself from there.

If you answered b, you are a true southerner.

2. How would you respond to the following question. “Would you like to come over to my house this weekend? We’re having a barbecue.”

a.) “Splendid! I’ll bring the clam chowder.”

b.) “How exactly does one have a barbecue? I think I’ll pass, stay at my house and eat some barbecue.”

If you chose b, you are a true southerner.

3. Suppose that you are brewing some tea when you suddenly realize that there is no sugar in your house. Which of the following options seems most appropriate to you?

a.) No big deal. Besides, there’s probably a packet of Sweet’N Low somewhere around the house.

b.) You quickly run to Piggly Wiggly to buy a few 5 pound bags of sugar.

c.) You quickly run to Piggly Wiggly’s to buy a few 5 pound bags of sugar.

d.) No sugar in the house?! Not while I’m alive.

If you chose a, you are not a true southerner.

If you chose b, you are a true southerner.

If you chose c, you are a certified, genuine, real deal southerner.

If you chose d, you get to be the governor of the south for a week.

4. Someone asks you if you like country music. When you respond in the affirmative, they offer you four free tickets to see Luke Bryan and Rascal Flatts. How do you respond?

a.) “Splendid! I’ll bring the clam chowder.”

b.) You shake your head and walk away while mumbling something to yourself about Hank Williams never wearing skinny jeans and guy-liner.

Unless you are a girl under the age of 18 who for some reason has a passion for clam chowder, you are not a true southerner if you chose a.

5. When is it appropriate for a man to remove his hat?

a.) Whenever it quits snowing.

b.) Indoors, during prayer, during the national anthem and during a meal.

c.) Indoors, during prayer, during the national anthem, during a meal and during the playing of Free Bird.

If you answered a, you are not a true southerner.

If you answered b, you are a true southern gentleman.

If you answered c and you play your cards right, you just might get a few votes in the next presidential election.

6. Your kid comes home from school to tell you that he learned about King George. What do you say?

a.) “King George was a deeply misunderstood man. We need more like him.”

b.) “Amarillo by morning. Amarillo’s where I’ll be.”

If you answered a, you are likely employed by the NSA.

If you answered b, even if you got every other question wrong, you are a true southerner. So make yourself at home, enjoy a nice glass of sweet tea, some of King George’s music and our southern hospitality. Just don’t offer us any clam chowder or Rascal Flatts tickets or we’ll throw our hat at you.

Southern hospitality does have its limits.

Is Suicide The Unpardonable Sin?

It’s always interesting to hear people talk about things in the Bible that aren’t actually in the Bible. Like that time when Moses told us that cleanliness is next to godliness. Or Jesus’ parable about Johnny beating up the devil with a fiddle. 

But there’s another statement from the Bible that isn’t actually in the Bible. And this one is much more painful.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of suicides in the news. Celebrities have killed themselves. Even pastors of large churches have done it. And it forces many people to ask a familiar question.

Will Christians who kill themselves still go to heaven? Doesn’t the Bible say that suicide is the unpardonable sin?

To be fair, the Bible does speak of what some call an unpardonable sin.

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:22-30 (ESV)

This passage disturbs a lot of people. And it should. But the problem is that most people get disturbed for the wrong reasons. They fear that something they said about or to God 20 years ago will keep them from Heaven, even though they have repented and lived under the lordship of Christ for all of these years. Others think that Jesus is saying that suicide is the one sin that will keep people from inheriting eternal life.

To get a better grasp on this passage we need to understand that Jesus isn’t talking about one particular word or even one action that can keep us from him, as if a sin like suicide is somehow beyond the reach of the cross. Instead, Jesus is saying that it is possible for someone to reject the Holy Spirit’s call to repentance so many times that he has exhausted God’s patience and saving grace. That’s the danger the religious leaders were playing with as they continued to reject Jesus and categorize him with Satan.

God is infinite in his wisdom and power. His patience, on the other hand, does have limits. That is what Jesus is driving at in this passage.

Suicide is a sin. It is a person’s attempt to take his own life out of God’s hands, thinking that he knows better than the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Suicide wrecks families. It multiplies the already painful sting of death for those who are left behind.

But it is not the unpardonable sin.

Thankfully for Christians, our eternal destination is not determined by the last thing that we do here on earth. Consider the following illustration.

A married Christian man is sitting on a bench at the mall while he waits for his wife to finish shopping. He notices a woman walking by. The woman is woefully underdressed. It’s clear that her agenda that day was to draw attention to herself. And this married Christian man was more than willing to help that woman with her agenda. Rather than quickly turning away, his eyes lock in on her. Rather than seeing her as a human being in need of the gospel, he treats her like a piece of meat behind the glass at the grocery store. Without question, this man is lusting. He is breaking the seventh commandment (Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:27-30).

And then his heart stops beating. Right there in the mall, on the bench, while his wife shops. This Christian married man dies and immediately enters the presence of God.

If you hold to another so-called biblical teaching that’s not actually in the Bible – the one that says you can lose your salvation, this man is in real trouble. We all are.

But thankfully, God keeps who he saves (Romans 8:29-39; 1 Peter 1:3-7; Luke 22:31-28; John 10:22-42; John 17:9-12). 

That’s no license to pray some kind of a sinner’s prayer and go about living as we please until we get to Heaven. That’s not genuine salvation. Saving faith is fruit-producing faith (James 2:14-26). Instead, it is a reminder of the saving and keeping grace of the Lord Jesus. It’s a reminder of his grace that is greater than all our sin. It is motivation to carry on in our fight against sin.

Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.

That one’s not in the Bible either. But it is true. Many times our imperfections can be quite dark. But because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross and because Jesus Christ is alive today, when imperfect Christians die and stand before their Master, they will be recognized with just one word.


Asleep At The Post

The world is on fire. And one of the groups that can do the most to put out those fires isn’t doing too much. Many of them are asleep at their post.

There are two types of evil children.

One is what we might call Cute Evil. This is the evil that less cautious parents laugh at. It’s the rolled eye at a young age that makes the witless father say, “See there, she’s like her mother already.” It’s the laziness that doesn’t go unnoticed by parents, just uncorrected. It’s the embarrassing temper tantrum that only draws attention but never draws discipline. All because it looks cute.

And then there is the other evil. This is the Your Kid Just Might Grow Up To Be Charlie Manson type of evil. This is the rebellion that is bold and daring. It’s the hurtful word that is used with deadly precision. 

I’ve seen both types. I’ve seen it in shopping centers and I’ve seen it during jailhouse visits. I’m no statistician or sociologist. I’m just a husband and a pastor trying my best to train my children up the right way. But there’s something that I’ve noticed in my encounters with these two types of evils. Something that children from both categories seem to be missing. 

A father.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of kids who are raised by single mothers who turn out to be solid adults. And there are just as many kids who grow up with a father in the home but who still make regular appearances on your late local news for all of the wrong reasons. But a dad can be at home and still not be on the job. It’s possible for a man to be at his post but not really at his post.

My grandfather fought in the South Pacific during World War II. He brought a lot of stories back with him. He would share some of them with me when I was a kid. My favorite one involved one of those men who was at his post but not really at his post.

My grandfather was spending the night in a hole in the ground. Two other men were with him. The plan was to take turns sleeping while one man pulled guard duty. After his shift was over my grandfather refused to go to sleep. It’s not that he wasn’t tired. It’s just that he didn’t trust the man who was taking his place. He knew that having him on duty meant having no one on duty. So my grandfather slept with one eye opened. That is to say, he didn’t really sleep.

I’m glad.

Early into the shift, the man charged with keeping watch fell asleep. Out of his one eye that was opened, my grandfather noticed an enemy soldier slowly crawling up to the hole that he was sharing with his friends.

Seeing as how you’re reading this today, you can probably guess how my grandfather reacted. 

Like I said, it’s possible for a man to be at his post but not really at his post. It’s true on a battlefield and it’s true in the home. The only difference is that in the home, my grandfather isn’t there to play back up for the scores of so-called fathers who are asleep at their post while countless enemies come creeping for their children.

Politicians and community activists tell us that it takes a village to raise a child. Feminists and trend setters in the world of education would like to convince us that Heather and her two mommies are doing just fine, thank you.

But reality is telling us something completely different. 

Kids need fathers. They don’t need couch dwellers. They don’t need dictators. They don’t need overaged buddies. And they certainly don’t need some guy who is asleep at his post.

Kids need fathers.

I know that such a claim sounds politically incorrect. It’s not my aim to pit one parent against the other. Fathers are not more important than mothers. Both matter. Both are needed. Both must work together.

But in our rush to prove our forward thinking, it seems as though we’ve gotten too advanced for the concept of fatherhood. Dads have gone the way of MC Hammer’s pants – so last century. 

And would you just look at what that’s gotten us. Generations of cute little evil kids. And thousands more who are sure to find their names in the paper, not for achievements in athletics or academics but police blotter.

There are two types of evil for a small child.

There are also two types of fathers for a small child.

One father is asleep at his post. The other is engaged. He’s active. He’s kneeling in prayer for his kid. He’s standing up for his kid when predators come. He’s standing up to his kid when evil rears its ugly head. 

If you’re the dad who’s trying to do it the right way, keep it up. None of us are perfect. Don’t get discouraged. Stay the course. If you’re the woman married to that man, pray for him, love him and encourage him. He’s more of a blessing to your family than you realize.

Perhaps you’re the dad who is asleep at his post and someone sent this your way to read and to consider. You need to thank that person. More than that, you need to wake up. Whether you realize it or not, no matter how small, cute and intelligent your child may be, he’s evil. Just like the rest of us. And that evil carries with it consequences that he will have to give an account for. 

Your kid’s behavior has nothing to do with President Obama, radical Islam, “times getting bad” or “the wrong crowd.” It has a lot more to do with you being asleep at your post.

In Ephesians 6:4, Paul tells fathers to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. It’s interesting that he doesn’t just say for us to bring our children up in discipline and instruction. That’s because all fathers are bringing their children up in the discipline and instruction of something. The sleeping father brings his child up in the discipline of demons and the instruction of insanity.

Is it any wonder that the world is on fire? 

USA! America!

Unless you just hate America, you’re going to want to include this little video in your 4th of July festivities.

Also, I think that we can all pretty much agree that had this video been played right before our soccer match with Belgium things would have turned out much differently.

0:15 – If I’m following this right, there’s supposed to be some kind of a terrorist attack happening in the sky. And on this guy’s Dream Team jersey.

0:33 – Ghosts on the beach!

0:44 – This is how the USA does oil spills!

0:52 – Can we possibly get some more Photoshopped imagery in this shot? Even one of the clouds looks like a mouse. A mouse from the USA no doubt.

0:57 – “Hey, do we have a pole to put the flag on?”

“No. Just put it on the side of that cliff. It’s what the founders would want.”

1:10 – Weird guy on the playground in 3, 2, 1…

“Teachers, we are going into lockdown mode. There is a man in a Dream Team jersey walking around the playground singing about the USA and throwing magic light on kids. Please remain under your desks with your students until further notice. The chair is against the wall.”

1:28 – Why isn’t Tim Howard’s face on that mountain? I want answers!

1:34 – I think that we’re supposed to assume that this woman’s husband died in a war. By the looks of that tombstone, it must have been the Civil War.

1:56 – This video is patriotic and all but what it really needs is a random cameo from a sea nymph.

2:05 – Goosed by an angel.

2:34 – The look on his face can double as the You-Boys-Are-Being-Silly-Face that your mom used to give you as well as the Man-I-Love-This-Country-And-If-You-Don’t-You’re-Just-Gonna-Have-To-Deal-With-It-Face.

This video lasted for a little over three minutes. The closing credits also last for three minutes. The closing credits for Saving Private Ryan didn’t last for three minutes.



Questions My Grandfather Never Had To Answer


The guy on TV looked like a man.

But he talked like a woman.


I’m pretty sure that my grandfather never got that question from one of his sons.

I did.

Our culture is currently falling all over itself to convince us that it is perfectly normal for a man to act like a woman, a man to marry another man, two women to raise a child together, so on and so forth. A lot of the dirty work in the battle to normalize gender confusion is done through the entertainment industry. That’s why ESPN makes a big deal about a late round pick in the NFL Draft. It’s why many shows feature gay characters. And it’s why the man in one of the commercials that comes on during your kid’s favorite television show likes to act like a woman.

If you grow up seeing something every day while being told that it’s normal you’ll eventually believe that it is. That seems to be the strategy these days at least. And it seems to be working. Sometimes it can even be intimidating when a parent considers the world kids are growing up in and being influenced by. Can we really expect Romans 1 to compete with the media and the government?


But it can’t just be a passage that we reference in a political conversation. It, along with the rest of Scripture, has to be something that parents live out before their children. It’s not enough for our kids to hear us talk about what manhood is not. We have to show them what it is.

When a man works hard to provide for and serve his wife and kids, the ridiculous examples of manhood we see demonstrated in television and film will seem foolish.

A church where men boldly serve, pray and sing in public will be the training center in which our children learn to discern what true manhood really is.

Something just won’t seem right about gay marriage in our kid’s eyes when they’ve grown up with a mom and a dad who take the gospel seriously and apply it to their own marriage.

And when a dad is actively engaged first in the pursuit of his God, then in the pursuit of his wife and finally in the training up of his kids, his words will carry much more weight in the household that he leads. If all we ever do is simply point out what is wrong in our culture, our voice will be just one among many that our kids hear. But if we actually make the effort to live out what we preach, showing consistent examples of true manhood and womanhood, our message just might stick.

I still remember the first time that I saw two men holding hands. One of them had a ribbon in his hair. I had no idea what to think. My mom could see my confusion but she didn’t say much. Just don’t stare. Keep moving.

Those days are gone.

We can no longer get away with avoiding tough topics like this one with our kids. It’s been said that nature abhors a vacuum. The hearts and minds of our children are no exception. If we aren’t busy speaking truth to them, we can be sure that someone else with plenty of lies to sell will quickly take our place.

At some point, every parent will have to answer a question similar to the one that my kid asked me. We must be ready, at all times, to give them the answers they are looking for.

But our words can only go so far. Simply hearing what we are against is never enough.

Our kids need to actually see our pursuit of Truth.

And as they grow older, we pray that the pursuit of truth will just seem normal to them.

Even in a world where normal is no longer tolerated.

Pain And White Privilege


It’s one of the most disturbing sounds I’ve ever heard in my life and it came from the end of the hallway in the house where I grew up.

Our hallway was long. Back then it seemed a mile long. I’m sure that if I went back to that old house on Creekwood Drive today, the hallway would look a lot smaller. Everything seems bigger when you’re a kid. The carpet covering the floor was dirty brown. Not by design. The color was the result of years of pet stains, spilled drinks and dirty shoes. It’s funny how you remember the little things. Carpet color. Stains. Sounds.

I heard crying at the end of the hallway. It was coming from my mother’s room. She was sitting on her bed with her back toward me and the phone against her ear. Someone on the other end was calling about an overdue bill. It was a bill that my mother couldn’t pay. All she could do was cry and say, “I can’t pay it.” It was one of those uncontrollable cries. The kind that nobody likes to see. Or hear. Especially from their own mother.

I was worried.

But, somehow, we made it. All I can point to is the grace of God. But a growing number of people in this country would point to something else. They call it white privilege. The only reason why my mother managed to survive with her two kids in tact, some say, was because of our whiteness.

That’s why, for some, any opinion I share regarding race is tainted by my white privilege. As they see it, it’s also what lies beneath my opposition to President Obama, the Affordable Care Act and affirmative action.

I didn’t feel very privileged that night when I stood outside of my mother’s room, listening to her cry.

I didn’t feel very privileged the summer after I graduated high school when I walked around the woods contemplating joining the army because there was no way that my family could pay for the school I was accepted to.

My white privilege didn’t seem to help very much when I sat in an accountant’s office every year at that same college, wondering if I would have to drop out. I’m pretty sure that my supposed white privilege isn’t what got me all of those Stafford Loans. And it certainly was not what helped me to pay them off, almost 15 years after I graduated college.

My mother was no different. Her whiteness allowed her to live out her final days in a shared room in a small nursing home. One time I had to call the man in charge of running that nursing home because my mother’s sheets were soaked in who knows what kinds of fluids. Later, when my mother died, my family mourned her death and I preached her funeral, none of us ever thought, “This is really tough but hey, at least we’re white.”

My story is nothing unusual. My life was much easier than most. Much easier. And that’s my point. We all have pain. Every single one of us. Some of that pain is a result of race, some is a result of poverty and some is a result of sickness. Some of our pain comes through no direct fault of our own. Some is the result of our unbridled stupidity. But we all have pain.

And here’s the part that no one likes to talk about as much.

We all have privilege too.

I had the privilege of growing up with a mom who taught me what it means to endure hardships before she was finally set free from hers.

I had the privilege of learning how to laugh when sometimes crying is all that makes sense.

I had the privilege of discovering what it means to work hard, stick to a budget and pay off student loans.

That’s the thing about pain. It has a way of shaping us and preparing us for unique privileges down the road. But not if we allow it to define us. When pain defines us, it becomes our identity and leaves us bitter and angry.

I’ve seen television personalities tell holocaust survivors that it was their white privilege that helped them to get back on their feet. I’ve seen policy makers blame their poor decisions on their own white privilege. None of this, no matter how well-intentioned, ever accomplishes anything other than leaving us with guilt and resentment.

Racism is very real. Before the return of Christ, it will probably never totally go away. But this much is true. It will only get worse if we continue to gripe about the presumed privileges of others while ignoring our own. We would be much better off if we figured out a way to delight in our shared accomplishments while mourning with and fighting for those who are mistreated.

I’ve come a long way since that night in the hallway when I heard my mother cry.

Some say it’s because of white privilege.

I attribute it to God’s grace.

And I think that we would all be much better off if we started modeling that grace toward one another.

A Warning To The Eye Rollers


The apartment was new. And it was clean. Much cleaner than our house. All my mother had to do was sign her name and we were moving in. But before she did that there was something else she wanted to do. She wanted to show me around the new place. She wanted to see what I thought.

Imagine Simon Cowell listening to Creed and Nickelback at the same time. That’s how critical I was. The rooms weren’t laid out right. The bathrooms were too small. And then there was the front door. The front door might as well have not even been there. There was just one little button on the doorknob to lock us in away from any evildoers wishing to do us harm.

“That looks real safe,” I said in my infinite teenage wisdom.

At first, my mother didn’t reply. She just looked at me. It was one of those looks that hurt much worse than any spanking because I could tell that she was the one who was hurt. Finally, she quietly responded.

“You know, I’m doing the best that I can here.”

I would have rather been beaten.

I was an eye roller. It seemed like every command my mother gave me served no other purpose than to get in my way. Most of the time I followed through with those commands. I obeyed. I was a good boy.

But I didn’t obey with the right heart. I didn’t honor my mother. I wasn’t such a good boy after all.

We eventually moved out of that apartment. It was in our next apartment where my mother found out that she was sick.

It was in the several other places that we lived afterwards where she would wake up screaming in the middle of the night because she was losing control of most of the muscles in her body. And it was in those places that her mind slowly started to go.

My aunt and my sister did the real work of caring for her. I tried my best. I drove her to the doctor occasionally. I carried her to her bed. I spent a few nights next to her in the hospital. And I tried to do it without rolling my eyes. I was learning how to honor my mother.

My wife and I were packing up our house one day. We weren’t moving. We were just going on vacation. Were. We were going on vacation.

My sister called and told me to get down to see my mom as fast as I could. By this time, my mom was living in a nursing home in middle Georgia. My wife and I sped to see her. We were about 20 minutes away when we got the call. She died.

I can’t remember the last words I said to her. But I’m glad that it wasn’t some critical comment about the house she did her best to provide for me.

A lot has been written and said about obedience. And that’s a good thing. But obedience is nothing more than camouflaged rebellion if it is not accompanied by honor. There will come a time when we no longer have to obey our parents. After my mom’s sickness got really bad and I was living on my own, she would call me and say some of the craziest things. I don’t know if it was the medicine or the disease but something was messing with her mind. She would tell me to do things that were impossible to obey.

I think that’s probably one of the toughest stages in life. The stage where you have to be the parent to your parent. The stage where you no longer have to obey. Where all you can do is honor.

Maybe I’m just getting too old. Or maybe some kids today really are getting bolder in how they talk to their parents. A while back I heard a kid talking to her mom like people talk about the bad guys on pro wrestling. And she was rolling her eyes. Just like I did.

I thought about my attitude towards my mother that day back in our new apartment. My mind jumped to my frantic drive to a middle Georgia nursing home only to miss saying goodbye to my mother by 20 minutes. I thought about how glad I was that, even though I didn’t get to say goodbye the way I wanted, at least we ended on good terms. Real good terms.

I interrupted that girl. I told her to watch the way that she talked to her mother because she never knew when her last goodbye would be. I hope it helped.

No matter how old you are, watch the way that you talk to and about your mom and dad. Last words don’t care about your calendar. You never know what or when those last words will be. But there is one thing that you can do between now and then, even if you happen to be passed the point of obeying.

Honor your father and mother.

You’ll be glad you did.

In Defense Of Getting It Right


Bob Hartman never choked on his own vomit. John Schlitt’s lifeless body was never found in a hotel room with a needle stuck in his arm. Too many rock stars die like that. But Bob Hartman and John Schlitt were never rock stars.

They were theologians with amplifiers.

I was in the seventh grade when I first heard Petra, Bob and John’s band. I didn’t know it at the time but the message I was hearing from them is one that I would carry with me, over 20 years later, every time I preached. And it is one that I would share with my sons too.

It’s always interesting to grow up and learn a few things only to look back and see that some of the teachers you had as a kid actually knew what they were talking about. I did that with a preacher named Sam Cathey. It seemed like he came to my church every year when I was a kid. All I remember is being captivated by his stories.

Several years later I found a few cassette tapes of his sermons. I started listening to him when I drove to my seminary classes on Monday mornings. In a lot of ways, I got all the seminary I needed from those cassette tapes. Sam knew what he was talking about.

And so did Petra.

They weren’t content with songs about giving Satan a bloody nose or songs that replaced “she” from a love song with “Jesus” and made it a Christian song. Instead they took classes. Theology classes. It payed off.

Petra sang a lot of songs about spiritual warfare. Most of their albums had at least a slight battle theme. By the early 90s when arena rock gave way to grunge and modern rock, their music started to wear thin on a lot of listeners. I was one of them. I once had almost every one of their albums in cassette form. I have no idea where those cassettes are today.

I miss them.

I few months ago I sat in front of my computer with a card in one hand and a blank stare on my face. I spend most of my days wishing that I had a $500 iTunes gift card. When I get one for $20, I have no idea what to do with it.

For old time’s sake, I made the digital purchase of an album I owned over 20 years ago. It was Petra’s This Means War! As I listened to it, I had that same feeling that I had when I was listening to those old Sam Cathey tapes. These guys really knew what they were talking about.

“This means war – and the battle’s still raging.

This means war – and though both sides are waging.

The Victor is sure and the victory’s secure.

But ’til judgement we all must endure.

This means war.”

Like I said, I think about those lyrics almost every time I get up to preach. Or before I start a counseling session. In a lot of ways, those old cassette tapes made me the man that I am today.

I played those albums for my sons a few weeks back. They were hooked. Just like I was back in the seventh grade. There’s something funny about seeing your five-year-old listening to Petra on his mom’s iPhone.

The boys I’m raising know all about Duane Allman. He introduced them to the guitar solo. John Mayer and Jack Johnson taught them what a love song is. Rick Allen, and a host of others, taught them that the rock and roll lifestyle comes with a price. Sometimes you pay with your arm. Sometimes, like in the case of Duane Allman, you pay with your life.

But I’m glad that my boys also know about Bob Hartman and John Schlitt. Two guys who were okay with not being rock stars. Two guys who took the time to mix a good lyric with a good melody and drum solo. Two guys who had a message that kicked off my theological education way back in the seventh grade. Two guys who are giving that same theological education to my sons.

Petra doesn’t tour or record albums anymore. They never won an MTV Video Music Award. They aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Once, I saw a guitar from the band hanging on the wall at the Atlanta Hard Rock Cafe. That’s about it when it comes to public adoration for Petra.

And I don’t think that Sam Cathey preaches as much as he used to. He never started a movement. I never heard him described with words like entrepreneur or visionary. He was just a preacher. But he was a preacher who took the time to get it right, just like Petra did.

It’s easy to confuse our following with our faithfulness. The two don’t always go together. If it’s a following that you want, you have to always be on the move, ahead of the cultural curve. Faithfulness is different. When faithfulness is your primary concern you have to be okay with never really saying anything new. Just the same old gospel message. And you have to keep on saying it, even if you never really gain that great of a following.

Our aim is too low if all we care about are Twitter followers and bigger crowds. One way or another, those things will go away. If you don’t believe me, just ask M.C. Hammer. But faithfulness leaves a lasting impact, even 30 years later when you’re all grown up and trying to get it right yourself.

Some of God’s people will have their names in lights. Most of us will not. But whether we win a Grammy or just preach to a few dozen people every week, it’s our faithfulness that really matters.

And it keeps on mattering.

Long after our job is done.