She’s Old, Blind And Slow But We Shouldn’t Want Her To Be Any Other Way

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There’s one thing we know about what happened in Ferguson, Missouri.

We don’t know what happened in Ferguson, Missouri.

Just under 100 percent of the population has no clue in regards to the events that day when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown. Almost that many people want justice to be served. Well, at least that’s what we say. But a lot of times, we’d rather justice be our errand boy than our standard. We want justice to work for us. For our circle. For our movement. We’re not so concerned with her working for those who happen to be outside of our circle or our movement. Especially when it turns out that our circle or movement is in the wrong.

Here are a few questions for you to consider that should help you to see if it’s justice that you want or just blood.

What if it turns out that Darren Wilson was defending himself? What if Michael Brown really was coming at him with intent to kill after having already beaten him? And what if there was undeniable evidence to support this? Would you want justice or blood?

What if Darren Wilson yelled a racial slur at Michael Brown upon meeting him in the middle of the road? What if Darren Wilson really was out to get a black guy that day and planned on hiding behind his badge during the fallout. And what if there was undeniable evidence to support this? Would you want justice or blood?

What about the store owner who was allegedly bullied and robbed by Michael Brown? Do you care about him getting justice or is it okay for him to be forgotten about in all of this?

These are all what ifs. And like I said, none of us has the answers to what really happened that day. Eventually, we’ll have more. But it takes time.

In the meantime, it’s good to take your questions, concerns and even frustrations before the media. It’s fine to have peaceful protests in the street. But there’s one thing that can’t happen right now through the media and in the streets.

Court.

If it’s justice that we really want, we’ll resist the urge to find her by listening to media outlets that are, at best, speculative. If it’s justice that we want, we won’t go looking for her to make an appearance right this second in the streets.

No, that doesn’t mean that you are to sit back and do nothing while you watch things get bogged down in the court system. You should hold officials accountable. You should question the narrative that is being fed to you from both sides. And you should prepare yourself for the possibility that the guy you’ve supported through all of this is in the wrong.

Lady justice is slow. That’s frustrating but it’s also how she does some of her best work. She rarely serves us well when she is forced to make her decision right this second nor does she do us any favors by getting tangled up in red tape and corruption. So, by all means, question those who claim to work on her behalf. Hold them accountable so that they will do their job with integrity. Carry signs and march around their buildings. Just remember to be patient.

Since the 15th century, Lady Justice has been depicted in statues and paintings wearing a blindfold. This small symbol reminds us that when she is working correctly, Lady Justice makes no decision based on color, income or social standing. Truth, not public opinion or even sympathy, is her guide.

Lady Justice is blindfolded.

But she’s not wearing earplugs.

If an accurate depiction of Lady Justice were done today, the blindfolded lady would have Fox News, MSNBC, angry mobs and those with long held prejudices whispering in her ear.

But in the end, Lady Justice won’t listen to those voices. It’s only the truth that she cares about.

And if it’s truth and not blood that we’re after, we’ll respond to those voices just like that old, blind and slow lady.

Are You Sure That You Want The Separation Of Church And State?

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A Georgia high school football coach is in hot water. He didn’t punch one of his players. He wasn’t having an inappropriate relationship with a student.

He was praying.

With his football team.

There were also Bible verses on several team documents.

In an absolutely non-shocking development, the American Humanist Association is threatening to sue the school district. They are demanding that the coaching staff at Chestatee High School stop participating in team prayers and that they no longer include Bible verses or other religious materials on team documents.

In cases like this one, groups such as the American Humanist Association always use the same phrase. The separation of church and state. And the state usually always goes along with the separating. But it’s not a total separation that the state really wants.

I never hear anything about the separation of church and state when the state wants to use a church building so that people in the community can get a shower and a warm meal after a tornado wipes out an entire neighborhood. Can you imagine that one?

“Sorry, folks. Can’t go in there. I know you’re tired and hungry but it’s a church! Run away!”

I wonder how the people in my voting district would respond this November if they found out that they had to drive out of their district to vote, all in an effort to avoid casting their ballot inside of a church building. Gasp!

When a few kids at a Georgia high school get killed in a car wreck, church and state separation always seems to take a break. For some reason, your son’s old principal saying, “We’re thinking about you and sending good thoughts your way during this difficult time” doesn’t carry as much weight as your son’s old football coach saying, wait for it, an actual prayer. Oh the humanity!

The state isn’t really interested in the separation of church and state. They want the two to work together just so long as it’s the church working for and in total submission to the state.

In that sense, I’m all for a separation of church and state.

When bakers, wedding planners and pastors decide not to perform a marriage for a gay couple because homosexual marriage violates their beliefs, will the state and the American Humanist Association come to the defense of those bakers, wedding planners and pastors? Will they stand in his defense, referencing their favorite separation of church and state arguments? Not likely.

You can legislate prayer out of school. You can bully prayer out of school. But you can never really take prayer out of school.

For those who truly belong to Jesus, prayer is more than a political statement or a freedom issue. It’s communion with their Master. And that Master happens not to be the state. That Master is the One who gives the state its power and the One who can just as easily take it away. That’s the One we pray to. And that’s why a law will never keep us from praying or obeying Scripture.

Neither will a bully.

Neither will a den of hungry lions.

What Every Kid Needs To Hear At The End Of A Bad Day

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Bad days are inevitable. You have them. And if they haven’t already, your kids will too.

Here’s what they’re going to need to hear from you.

1. “What happened?”

At some point your kid is going to need to process what went wrong. There’s no one better for him to do that processing with than you. This isn’t the time for you to give advice on how to throw a better curve ball. It isn’t the time for you to flip out over the grade on his math test. This is the part where you listen.

At the end of one of those days where it seems like everything went wrong, your kid is looking for more than an expert. He’s looking for someone who will listen. So if you must be an expert in something, be an expert in listening to your kid.

2. “I fail too.”

Have you ever noticed how rare it is for the children of highly successful people to be successful in the same field as their parent? Growing up in the shadow of greatness can be harder than it looks. If you’re any kind of a parent, your daughter is going to think that you’re great. Perfect, even. She’s going to think that you never blew it like she did today.

You need to tell her that she’s wrong. You need to tell her about that time when you got a 13 on your history test. Or the one where you struck out. In softball. Slow pitch church league softball.

Just don’t stop there. Tell her how you moved on. Any good fall down story ends with getting back up. Remind her that you still fall down. But be sure to tell her how you keep getting up. Encourage her to do the same.

3. “You don’t have to be the best but you better try your best.”

This is where parents get sidetracked. We think that our kid being the 12th best player on his team of 15 is somehow an indictment against us. So we push him harder. We demand that he be the best. But we forget something very important. Being the best at a young age is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a kid.

When he’s number 12 out of 15, he only has two options if he wants to keep up and not get run over. He can either work hard or he can give up. Since giving up isn’t an option, being around a dozen or so people who are better than him will force your kid to work harder. During all of that hard work, something is happening. He’s getting better.

Your son may never be the best kid on his team. But, if he keeps giving his best effort, he’ll be better than he was yesterday. And the benefits of that kind of growth will stay with him for the rest of his life.

4. “What do you think that you need to work on.”

This is the advice stage. This is the part where you find a tutor. It’s the part where you spend some time in the backyard working on that curve ball. And it’s the part where your child learns the value of hard work and the patience that comes with trying to master a skill. There is a lot of growth happening here. You’ll want to be around for it.

Just be careful.

Make sure that this skill development and hard work isn’t happening for your benefit. There’s nothing wrong with helping your kid get better at something. There’s a lot wrong with using your kid to help you look better. Never confuse the two.

5. “I’m proud of you.”

It’s possible for a parent to be lying when he says this. That’s because he’s really not proud of his daughter. He’s proud of what she’s accomplished. It may not seem like much but there is a big difference here.

If you truly are proud of your daughter, and not just some number on a page, you’ll be proud when she finishes the semester with an 84 in Chemistry. You’ll be proud, not because she was at the top of her class but because you saw how hard she worked to bring her grade up after a rough start to the semester. You saw her late nights spent studying. You saw her early morning tutorial sessions.

And when you see her, you may not see the best Chemistry student in the class but you do see a girl who tried her best.

And that makes you proud.

Be sure to let her know.

6. “I’ll have two cookies and cream milkshakes.”

Talk is good. Advice is too. But sometimes, at the end of a bad day, your son just needs to sit down with his dad and drink a milkshake. Maybe you talk about your favorite movies. Maybe you talk about places you’d like to travel to. Talk about anything. Anything but that missed shot, that bad grade and that broken relationship. Or, perhaps, you could even talk about nothing.

There’s a time for talk.

But, every now and then, there are those times when the only sound a kid needs to hear is that noise his dad makes when he’s trying to get the last drop of a cookies and cream milkshake through a straw.

Bad days are inevitable. You have them. Your kids will too.

But they should never have them alone.

Mercy And Judgment On The Side Of The Road

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I pulled over to the side of the road. My friend was in the passenger’s seat. He didn’t know what I was doing. It’s not his fault. He’s didn’t grow up in the south.

A funeral procession was coming by. In the south, that means that you pull over to the side of the road. The south isn’t perfect. No place on earth is. But it’s home for me. And pulling over on the side of the road during a funeral procession is one of the things I like about my home.

Last weekend I was on the other side of the funeral procession. I was the one who preached the funeral. I was the one driving in the car directly behind the hearse. I was the one watching everyone else pull over.

It was a Saturday afternoon in one of the more highly populated counties in Georgia. There was business to be done and places to get to. But for a few minutes at least, none of that mattered. For a few minutes, everyone stopped.

All for a man they never knew.

Black kids stopped.

Older white women stopped.

Men in loaded down work trucks stopped.

Women in convertibles stopped.

We drove by two different men who were cutting their grass. Both of them stopped.

All for a man they never knew.

No one asked the political persuasion of the deceased. No one asked what color he was. No one asked about his views on immigration or Iraq. They just stopped. Everyone stopped.

I was proud of my home while I was driving behind that hearse. People say that things are slower down here. Maybe they’re right. Pulling over to the side of the road and stopping everything has a way of slowing you down. Slow isn’t always so bad.

Slow makes it easier for you to think.

And nothing makes you think quite like a funeral procession.

For all of the differences between conservatives and progressives, whites and blacks, old and young, we all have one thing in common. We’re all going to die. We may even take a ride in a hearse. Hopefully people will pull over for us.

There is another certainty.

After we die, we will be judged. We will all stand before our Creator to give an account for our life. He won’t ask us if we forwarded that picture of Jesus to ten friends. He won’t ask us if we did a good enough job of getting our point across. He won’t ask us how many followers we had. In his own way, he’ll ask us whose righteousness we had.

There are only two possible answers.

My righteousness, which comes through pride and effort and leads to eternal punishment or Jesus’ righteousness which comes through faith and repentance and leads to eternal life.

If you have Jesus’ righteousness, you know mercy.

And if you really know mercy, you’ll show it to others.

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13 (ESV)

Why What’s Happening In Ferguson, Missouri Matters To All Of Us

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Ferguson, Missouri has been on fire since earlier this week when police shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black male. You probably don’t live in Ferguson, Missouri so you think that this isn’t your problem. You’re not a black male youth so you convince yourself that none of this has anything to do with you. And you certainly don’t want to be associated with Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and all of the looters so you convince yourself that the riots in Ferguson really don’t matter to you.

You couldn’t be more wrong.

What’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri should matter to all of us because justice should matter to all of us.

If police shoot an unarmed person, whether it’s your homecoming queen daughter or a black male youth in a hoodie, we should all want justice. And here’s the thing about those more and more frequent miscarriages of justice that we are seeing in our neighborhoods. If you enjoy the bliss of ignorance while the injustice is happening in someone else’s neighborhood, it’ll be too late to do anything when it comes to yours.

Oppression and tyranny are not bound by race. Justice and compassion shouldn’t be either.

What’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri should matter to all of us because it forces us to come to grips with our own hypocrisy.

On Thursday, the president and other members of his party called for the police to scale back in Ferguson. President Obama called it “excessive force.” “Excessive force” is another word for too much government. It’s always interesting to see the proponents of large government suddenly get uncomfortable when the fruits of their labors spill out into the streets.

On the other side we have so-called conservative commentators who question every aspect about President Obama’s agenda. Nothing is off limits. Every word from the White House is met with skepticism. All of this is done in the name of fighting against big government. But when big government comes crashing down on the other side of the tracks, residents of Ferguson are told not to question their local police.

Both extremes are examples of what happens when we value systems of political thought over concepts like justice and compassion. Both extremes are reminders of just how deep our hypocrisy runs.

What’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri should matter to all of us because we need to be reminded of our stereotypes and how the media fuels them.

Remember when Tony Stewart was driving his race car and ran over that guy who was running toward him. Common sense would tell us that you should never pick a fight with a man who is driving toward you in a race car. But our stereotypes often trump common sense. So Tony Stewart suddenly becomes a rich, raging, murderous redneck.

The same force is at play here. Don’t let Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and all of the looters fool you. They are the bottom feeders in this situation and the media loves to shine a light on the bottom feeders. That’s why you never see a television station interview a chemical engineer after a tornado comes through and wipes out his neighborhood. They’d rather get a soundbite from the toothless guy in his pajamas.

Whenever something like this happens, knuckleheads and professional instigators will always show up. It’s what they do. But don’t let them doing what they do distract you from what’s really happening. I’m a white male who strongly supports limited government but I certainly don’t want Sean Hannity or the Klan representing me. There are a lot of black people in Ferguson right now who feel the same way about Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the looters.

Focus on the issue, not the media’s go to pitchmen and knuckleheads.

What’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri should matter to all of us because when the local police start acting like the military, it’s never a good thing.

Police are like preachers and bloggers. There are a lot of good ones. But you better be on the lookout for the bad ones because they’re around too. Even the police chief for the city of St. Louis encouraged skepticism among citizens in this case. It’s just too bad that the police in Ferguson don’t feel the same way.

Allowing citizens and the press to ask questions might get in the way of what seems to be a totalitarian agenda in Ferguson. That’s why you see police driving around in an armored vehicle, arresting city leaders and journalists for using camera phones and, for no reason and without constitutional support, clearing out local businesses and thus having almost the same impact on those businesses as the looters did. It’s also why you saw local business owners having to defend themselves against looters while the police were nowhere to be found.

To those in power who pervert justice, a man with a camera and a microphone is much more threatening than a mob looking for free TVs.

What’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri should matter to all of us because we are all carriers of God’s image. Oppression, totalitarianism, government bullying and murder all do damage to God’s image bearers. That’s why nothing ever really is “a black issue” or “a white issue.” It’s a we issue. And right now we are watching justice hang in the balance in Ferguson.

If justice doesn’t matter to us all, may God have mercy on us.

Because we can be sure that our oppressors will not.

23 Cents

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It was one of the only restaurants in town.

And then it closed down.

In a way, it was my fault.

We used to meet there every Sunday morning. I was teaching a Sunday School class for teenagers. When I first started teaching, they would beg me to take them out for some breakfast. I usually said no. More and more, I started to give in. Eventually, we were meeting there every week.

That restaurant was a funny place.

If you looked behind the counter you could see buckets full of grease sitting on the floor. Well, it looked like grease. I hope it was grease. I think.

And they were usually out of stuff. At least two Sunday mornings a month, we’d hear, “We ain’t got no more” when we ordered a biscuit or some eggs. How can you not have “no more” sausage? It’s 9 in the morning. You’ve been open for two hours. How do you run out of sausage in just two hours? Were you looted just before we came in? But we never asked those questions. We just turned and walked to our tables and enjoyed our sausage and biscuit without the sausage.

My favorite thing about that restaurant was paying for our food. I wish that the NSA was recording everything back then so that I could pull it up on YouTube and show you how this all went down.

Restaurant Worker: “What you want?”

Me: “I’ll have a biscuit, eggs and a large orange juice.”

Restaurant worker: “That’ll be 23 cents.”

Me: “Sorry?”

Restaurant worker: “23 cents.”

Eventually, I stopped saying sorry and just paid the 23 cents. Coincidentally, I also started ordering a lot more food.

Me: “I’d like a biscuit, eggs, a large orange juice, two hamburgers, a milkshake, one of those hats they make you wear and the drive-thru intercom.”

Restaurant worker: “That’ll be 23 cents. But we ain’t got no more hats.”

I was amazed. This was quickly becoming my favorite restaurant. Sure, the food was questionable, the grease buckets were full, the roaches were active and there weren’t usually any eggs for the omelet you ordered but it was cheap. Dirt cheap.

But how?

I found out that one of the workers was friends with the mother of one of the guys in my Sunday School class. Apparently they were really good friends. I’m guessing that this guy’s mother must have saved the restaurant worker’s life at some point. But who cares? Just give me my 23 cent breakfast.

I did wonder from time to time how this restaurant afforded to give us these bargain prices. It turns out that they couldn’t. Which explains why we arrived one Sunday morning to discover that our Sunday School class had been boarded up.

The worker thought that she was doing us a favor. And I guess that she was. We got to eat a lot of food without paying a lot of money. But she wasn’t doing herself any favors. She certainly wasn’t doing her boss any favors.

That lady that gave us all of those deals wasn’t the owner of our Sunday School restaurant. She just worked there. It was her job to provide quality service to the customer while generating revenue for the business. Instead, she just gave stuff away. Until the place where she worked went out of business.

There’s a fine line between compassion and stealing. Compassion is an act of self-sacrifice to help another in need. Stealing is what you do when you act as though someone else’s money is yours.

I wish that old restaurant would open back up for just one day. I’d like to have a meal there with a few of our leaders up in Washington D.C. You know, the ones who think that the answer to every problem is just to spend more money that doesn’t belong to them. I’d like to see the look on their faces when they walk up to the counter to place their order.

Politician: “I’d like sausage and eggs.”

Restaurant Worker: “We ain’t got no more.”

At some point, if things don’t change, that’s a phrase that those politicians will have to say to their hand-out seeking constituents. But, although there will be nothing more to give, those politicians will still want all of us to pay up.

And it will be a lot more than 23 cents.

Those Who Weep

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Here’s something that you can count on in life. Tragedy.

Here’s something else that you can count on. Someone saying or writing something stupid after that tragedy.

I found out about the death of Robin Williams on Monday night. My wife told me from the other room. She said that it was all over the Internet. I told her that I had the sudden urge to watch Good Will Hunting. She said that some of my other friends were saying the same thing on Facebook.

It wasn’t long before other things were being said on Facebook. That’s the way it always works. Whenever a celebrity dies, we can count on someone being there to make us feel guilty for being sad. Those reminders usually come about 7.221 seconds after the tragedy itself goes public. And they’re usually said by the same people who remind us of how many people starved to death around the globe while we were watching the Super Bowl. But in this case, I didn’t hear the reminders until the following morning.

They go a little something like this.

Why is everyone upset about Robin Williams when so many Christians are being persecuted in China?

You posted a Robin Williams clip from YouTube but did you do anything about Mike Brown?

And on and on and on. And on some more.

Where does it all end? Should we condemn a grieving father for crying at his daughter’s funeral because there were so many more deaths in other parts of the world that day?

Should we only respond with grief to the really horrific events and with indifference to the sort of horrific events?

I get it. We live in a celebrity obsessed culture. It’s a culture where the famous seem larger than life and many of the regular folks tend to worship them. And not everything we know about those celebrities is real. Some of them don’t really look the way they do in movies. Others aren’t nearly as nice as they seem on TV.

I get it.

But while celebrities have been known to have fake body parts and fake personalities, they have very real problems. Robin Williams is a reminder of that. In spite of all of his success, he suffered. And he left behind family and friends who are now suffering in his absence. That’s one of the few common links between celebrities and the rest of us. We all suffer.

The alleviation of that suffering is never found in an angry, guilt-inducing tweet about all of the suffering people in the world that we’re forgetting about. As Christians, we know that the only real hope for a suffering world is found in the person of Jesus Christ.

And yes, there is a time to talk about that hope.

But there’s also a time to just be quiet. A time to say nothing. A time to weep with those who weep.

Remember that time when that atheist drove by a church sign that said, “God wants full custody. Not just weekend visits” and dropped everything to repent of his sins, right there in the middle of the road?

Neither do I.

It never happens.

And posting our guilt-inducing tweets about starving children around the world every time people have their attention on some other tragedy is just as productive as those church signs that we all drive by.

So whenever that guy dies who was on that show that you’ve never heard of, try not to remind us all of how rotten we are for feeling a little down about it.

Tragedies are going to happen. Until Jesus comes back, there’s nothing we can do to avoid that.

But there’s plenty we can do to avoid saying something stupid after those tragedies.

We would do well, many times, to simply remain silent.

But if we must make a noise about a particular situation, perhaps we could just weep with those who weep.

If You Really Want To Support Israel

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Two very angry groups of people are fighting.

Their fight seems to have something to do with land, buildings and ancient, unresolved prejudices.

Religion is somehow involved too.

Ask the casual observer to give a summary of the dispute between Israel and Hamas and this is the response you’re likely to get.

Ask the casual observer to give a summary of the dispute at your church, and you’re likely to get the same response.

There were all kinds of church splits in the New Testament. Some split because greedy liars were exposed for theirs sins (Acts 5:1-11). Some split because impostors were seeking to pull people away with false teachings (1 John 2:19). These are good reasons for a church to split up.

Unlike what we see in the New Testament, most of the church splits that I hear about these days have nothing directly to do with theology. Most of the disputes, to a casual observer like me, center around things like land, buildings and ancient unresolved prejudices.

Sort of like that conflict between Israel and Hamas that you keep hearing about. In the Middle East, the fight involves groups of people fighting over what they both believe to be rightfully theirs.

Many churches are no different.

This is my pew.

This is my classroom.

This is my ministry.

And, most destructive of all, this is my church.

Man, I wish that I was making that up. I wish that someone could legitimately call me out for going overboard in my description of some church conflicts. But it’s hard to argue against reality.

Each my that we fight for in the church comes with an arsenal of verbal, spiritual and sometimes even physical firepower to support our long-held positions.

This is my pew and here’s a verbal roadside bombing to prove my point.

This is my classroom and I’ve got plenty of missiles of bitterness and mean-spiritedness to keep it that way.

This is my ministry and I’ll fight to keep it the way that I want it until the day I die.

This is my church and I’ll stop at nothing to hold on to it, even if it means the death of my church.

Sadly, that’s usually what ends up happening. That church dies.

To the casual observer of what’s happening around the globe, the Middle East has always been the way that it is and it always will be that way. Why bother trying to fix it or even paying attention to it? Next story please.

To the casual observer of what’s happening in your church, church people always fight about stupid things. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it always will be. Why bother trying to fix it or even paying attention to it. Meanwhile, the folks at the bar or in the hunting club never fight. Next story please.

I don’t know that anyone will ever win the constant fighting in the Middle East. Someone may quit before the other one does but both sides will suffer more than their share of casualties. There is no real victor is disputes like these.

The same is true with your church. Sure, some group of people may eventually leave while another stays behind to claim their victory but without repentance and forgiveness, both sides lose. There is no real victor in disputes like these.

Well, I guess that there is one victor.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

Satan loves using Christians as his weapons when he attacks other Christians. Double the destruction. It’s what he does.

Many Christians feel as though it is their God-given mandate to support Israel in any and everything that happens around the world. But isn’t it ironic how many of those same Christians will pledge their unyielding support to a nation while systematically destroying their church with their own verbal and spiritual missiles?

If Christians really understood what it meant to support Israel, they’d stop the fighting in their own churches. The local church after all is closer to the New Testament picture of Israel than any geographical location in the Middle East.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. Romans 9:6-8 (ESV)

If you’re a Christian, you are, spiritually speaking at least, Israel.

So if you really want to support Israel, love and support your church.

Stop lobbing your missiles.

Let go of your pew.

Let go of your classroom.

Let go of your ministry.

Let go of your church.

And surrender it all to your pastor – Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18).

Anything short of that, and the casual observers in your community will just keep on seeing the same old thing at your church.

Two very angry groups of people fighting.

The fight seems to have something to do with land, buildings and ancient, unresolved prejudices.

Religion is somehow involved too.

Next story please.