The Most Dangerous Kind Of Racism

All racism is dangerous. But there is one particular strain that is even more deadly than the rest. It does more damage than the Klansman in a white hooded sheet could ever dream of. It’s deadlier than the rich, young college student fighting over a statue.

The most dangerous kind of racist is the one who has convinced himself that he is not a racist. After all, he doesn’t like the Klan. He’s never showed up to a white supremacist rally. She loves that black running back on her favorite football team. She even likes a few Outkast songs.

But deep down in her heart, there is hatred. And it feels perfectly normal. As a result, her kids grow up never really being taught what it means to love their neighbor. In word and in deed, they are taught to look the other way when an entire race of people suffers. Even worse, they’re taught to blame that entire race of people for the suffering they endure. So the racist jokes told in the church parking lot aren’t really all that bad. It’s just humor. And the segregation of the last century is most certainly condemned but it’s replaced with a much more acceptable variety of segregation.

And it all feels perfectly normal.

I’m 42 years old. To put it another way, I’ve been sinning for over four decades. Sure, I’ve been a Christian for most of those years but that doesn’t change the fact that I desperately need the gospel. Without it, my heart is bent toward selfishness, pride, envy, lust, murder, and yes, even racism.

Not one person on the earth can truly say, “God, I thank you that I am not like that racist over there” (Luke 18:11).

Rather, we must prayerfully and honestly address our sin and repent. The answer is not found in self-righteousness or life-long, low-grade guilt.

Only when we pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” will we truly know what it’s like to be reconciled to God and one another (Luke 18:13-14).

In the book of Acts, we are given two examples to help us as we try to live this out in our day to day lives. The first example shows us the importance of repentance and the second the importance of discernment or critical thinking.

The early church was growing by the thousands. And they did it without giving out free iPads to the first 100 people to show up or by mailing out risqué flyers about how the next sermon series is going to be on sex. Imagine that! Their growth was the result of God’s work but everything wasn’t perfect.

Church leaders had to care for hundreds of widows without any assistance from a government welfare program, the Internet or even phones. They failed. But they didn’t just fail. They failed in a way that looked like racism.

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. Acts 6:1 (ESV)

Here’s a translation of the complaint that was made by the Hellenists or Greek-speaking Jews.

“Hey, Peter and John. I know it’s hard to feed everyone but why is it that our people are always the ones getting left out?”

The response of Peter and John and the rest of the church leaders is one that we would do well to follow today.

“It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, who we will appoint to this duty.” Acts 6:2 (ESV)

Notice what they did not say. They didn’t say, “Oh, you don’t understand, we have plenty of friends who are Hellenists.” And they didn’t tell the Hellenist widows to, “Pull themselves up by the bootstraps.”

Instead, they changed their system. For them, loving others was more important than saving face or doing it the way they’ve always done it. I pray that the same could be said of today’s church. May we be a people who are quicker to repent than we are to defend an old human system that hurts others.

This requires critical thinking. It means that the thoughtful Christian will not jump on every bandwagon just so he can be, “on the right side of history.” We need more discernment and less Group Think. We need to follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17.

Paul had just been kicked out of Thessalonica for preaching the gospel and he found himself in Berea. The biblical description of these people is noteworthy.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11 (ESV)

God used Paul to write a majority of what would later come to be known as the New Testament. But when he preached to the Bereans, they still wanted to measure everything he said against the Scriptures.

Such wisdom and discernment isn’t only unusual these days, it’s not allowed.

Some on the right would have us to believe that daring to question a Republican president when he is wrong means that you are a “snowflake” who hates America.

And some progressives would have us to believe that if we question Colin Kaepernick’s affinity for Fidel Castro, we are somehow blind to the injustices of the world.

Both assessments are wrong and are the result of misplaced worship and a lack of critical thinking. Many Christian leaders have soiled their garments because they worship the idea of having a seat at President Trump’s table. They have forgotten that it’s more important to have a seat at the table of their neighbor who has a different skin tone than they do. Many Progressives care more about Colin Kaepernick’s next job after he walked away from millions from his former employer than they do their neighbor’s next job after he was laid off with nothing more than best wishes.

Navigating our way through these complexities requires less group think and more of the wisdom of Christ. It requires more repentance and less self-righteousness.

Before I see that they are the problem, I must see how I am the problem.

Before I condemn their hatred, I must carefully examine my heart for my hatred.

Otherwise, I’m much more dangerous than I think I am.

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Benevolent Dictators, The Gospel And Georgia’s Burqa Ban

Update: Jason Spencer has decided to withdraw House Bill 3.

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You might have a hard time believing this but there’s a really bad bill scheduled to come before the Georgia Legislature. This one has nothing to do with raising taxes or making grits the official breakfast food of Georgia. House Bill 3, if passed as written, would prohibit the wearing of any device that would hide a person’s face while taking a photo for a driver’s license, driving a car or, get this, while on, “any public way or public property.” 

To be clear, the bill’s sponsor, Jason Spencer, isn’t trying to crack down on young suburbanite women at the Mall of Georgia who wear their scarfs too high up on their face. This is a ban on burqas.

I can understand the problems of a concealed face during a driver’s license photo but using the power of the sate to prohibit the wearing of a burqa while driving a car or “on public property” is very problematic.

It matters how Christians respond to this.

We must be firm in our theological disagreement with our fellow Americans who are Muslims. No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24) and it is clear that the God of Christianity and the god of Islam are not the same. However, we must be just as firm in defending the rights of our Muslim neighbors. Believe it or not, this can be done without compromising the faith.

There’s something very troubling about so-called conservative evangelicals. As I’ve always understood it, conservatism referred to limited government. Recent history reveals that conservatism really means government that’s just as big as the kind that progressives prefer, only with conservatives instead of liberals reaching into our lives. Simply put, many conservatives have abandoned the concept of liberty in favor of a benevolent dictatorship.

And make no mistake, a government that can tell people what they can and cannot wear on “public property” is a dictatorship. I guess it depends on who you ask as to whether or not it’s benevolent. And a government that can tell Muslim women that they have to put their faith in the backseat while driving or in the public square can just as easily tell Christian families that they can’t homeschool their children and tell Christian churches that they can’t refuse someone for baptism or membership.

This bill is rooted in fear. Spencer reasons, “This bill is simply a response to constituents that do have concerns of the rise of Islamic terrorism, and we in the State of Georgia do not want our laws used against us.”

But we must remember that fear is the enemy of liberty. When we allow ourselves to be ruled by fear, we can be sure that there will be scores of benevolent dictators eager to fix the problem. And we can be just as sure that the fix will be worse than the problem.

A while back I was driving my family to a soccer tournament that my son would be playing in. It was a trip like most others but this time we had an extra passenger. My son’s teammate came along for the ride because his parents had to work. My son’s teammate was Muslim.

Now, we could have performed our own stop and frisk on this young boy before letting him into our car. We wouldn’t want him setting off a bomb in the back seat of our Camry, now would we? Call me a bad parent, but we didn’t screen this young man. And somehow, no bomb went off.

But something else happened.

For the entire hour of our drive, I played the music of Lecrae. He’s a rapper who frequently references the gospel. And while Lecrae’s music was playing, I was praying. I was praying that the light of Christ would shine through our family as we interacted with one another and through Lecrae’s lyrics as they blew through our speakers.

When we got to the soccer fields, my son’s friend didn’t get out of the car and pray to make Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior. He did something very different from that.

He threw up.

Now, I don’t know what that has to say about me and my family but I think that it was an answer to prayer. While I was cleaning up vomit, my wife was comforting this young Muslim boy as if he was her own. The light of Christ shone through her that afternoon. And I’m still praying that it penetrates the heart of that young man.

Muslim’s suffer. Sometimes their suffering comes from being car sick. Sometimes it comes from ridiculous laws. Either way, it is the job of followers of Christ to be there for them, with love and truth, when that suffering comes.

It’s the sacrificial love and truth of God and his people that removes burqas.

Not ridiculous laws from benevolent dictators.

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Pastor, Do The World A Favor This Sunday

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Pastor, do the world a favor this Sunday.

Preach the gospel.

The world is crumbling. People are hurting. Many are scared. And the last thing any of us needs to hear is part three of your four part sermon series entitled American Christian Warrior: Climbing the Salmon Ladder of Success. Or yet another plea to give more money for some building project. People need to hear the gospel.

I can remember when President Obama was elected. People told us that it was the end of racism in this country. By all accounts, race relations have gotten worse. Not all of that is the president’s fault. But the past eight years have reminded us that his proposed solutions to the problem are insufficient. More government isn’t the answer. In a lot of ways, it makes the problem worse.

Pastor, please don’t be ashamed to preach the gospel this Sunday. And I don’t mean during the final few minutes of your sermon when you try to get people to raise a hand and walk an aisle. Find a passage from the Bible. Pray over it. And explain it to your people. They need to hear it. It will do them much more good than you simply regurgitating what you heard on Fox News earlier in the week.

Don’t underestimate the power of the gospel to bring change, hope, healing and salvation. The gospel is big enough. It’s big enough for the exceptional police officer who is scared to death to go to work the next morning. It’s big enough for the black man who’s a little more nervous about getting pulled over.

The gospel is big enough.

Use it.

But don’t hide behind it.

It’s common for Christians to tritely say things like, “We have a heart problem and our greatest need is the gospel.” That is a true statement but many of us use it to free us from taking any sort of action. Every week I counsel people in my office. The guy who can’t stop watching porn has a heart problem and his greatest need is the gospel. But that doesn’t keep me from telling him to cancel his movie channel subscription. The gospel does not relieve us of our responsibility to take action, it inspires us.

So preach the gospel this Sunday.

And live the gospel this Monday. Find a way to be an encouragement to the police officers in your community. Make a move across the railroad tracks and have a meal with the people whose skin is a different color than yours. Better yet, invite the police to that meal. Don’t just sit around watching the news and mumbling about how bad things are getting. Do something about it.

The gospel is a message of reconciliation. It is the story of God sending his only Son to save his enemies. What a shame it would be if now, of all times, we failed to proclaim that message because we were too busy picking sides. Or building our own kingdoms.

So pastor, do the world a favor this Sunday.

Preach the gospel.

And do the world a favor on Monday too.

Live the gospel.

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Church, Stop Saying All Lives Matter

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There are several words and phrases in our language that need to be retired. Some are overused. Some are misleading. Some are ignorant. And a few are all of those things wrapped up in one.

Take for example the phrase All Lives Matter.

All lives really do matter. From the womb to the deathbed, every life matters because every life carries the image of God. But when we splash the All Lives Matter phrase all over the Internet, we do more harm than good. It’s best to deal in specifics.

Here’s a good example.

Philando Castile’s life matters. Well, it mattered that is, until he was gunned down by police Wednesday during a traffic stop in St. Paul, Minnesota. According to Castile’s girlfriend, who live streamed the moments immediately following the shooting, Castile informed officers that he was carrying a licensed, concealed weapon. He was shot for obeying an officer’s command to produce his license.

The response of social media users has and will be predictable as this case plays out. Some news organization or website will produce a picture of Castile from a few years back where he’s wearing a hoodie or a bandana or something else not deemed socially acceptable in order to prove that he was a thug who had it coming. Others, under the banner of All Lives Matter, will pledge their undying support for all law enforcement, Philando Castile be damned.

If you are a Christian who cares about loving God and your neighbor, it is very important that you do not fall into these traps. We would do well to take a deep breath and evaluate ourselves for our hypocrisy.

Christian churches, at least the ones that have not yet sold themselves out in order to fit in with the culture, do a lot of work to stop abortion in this country. And that’s a good thing. But if we do not care just as much for the 30-year-old black man as we do for the black baby in the first trimester, we’re only kidding ourselves. Sure, all lives matter but I’m afraid that some of us like to use the word all just to keep us from dealing with the individual. Philando Castile’s life mattered. We can get away with simply talking about the baby but we have to figure out a way to actually live with and love the adult.

There is a big debate going on in our country right now over gun rights. Some want every gun confiscated. Others, like myself, strongly support the second amendment. But unless we come to grips with he fact that the second amendment applies just as much to my right to target practice with an AR-15 as it does to Philando Castile’s right to carry while in his car without the threat of losing his life at the hands of law enforcement, again, we kid ourselves. Philando Castile’s second amendment right mattered because Philando Castile’s life mattered.

I’m blessed to live where I do. The law enforcement in my community is very good. I do not know every officer but every officer I know in my community sincerely cares about life and justice. Sadly, that’s not the case in every community. So when we speak as though no police officer could ever be in the wrong, we spit in the faces of those who suffer under corrupt leaders.

Earlier this week, when the FBI announced that it would not be going after Hillary Clinton, even after announcing all of the things that she did wrong, many of us were outraged. We cried for justice. But if we cry for justice in D.C. and ignore injustice in St. Paul, yet again, we kid ourselves. In order for justice to be legitimate, it must be total.

I am a pastor but you’ll never hear me say that we need to support all pastors because, after all, “they have a tough job.” No. Some pastors need to be loved and appreciated and listened to and others need to be in jail. Police officers are no different. Blind support and all out rage are never the answers. If we really are a people of love and justice, we will be a people who care to look at issues on an individual basis.

But we must remember that two people can look at the same thing and reach a different conclusion. Like it or not, there are two Americas. There is the black America and the white America. When I was a kid, running around town doing pranks, I got pulled over by the police. I knew I was caught. I could already picture me and all my friends calling our parents from jail. But the officer let us off. “Y’all get on home and drive safe. We’re looking for a bunch of black kids.” White privilege is another phrase that gets overused and misused but it was alive and kicking that night in my friend’s Honda.

Meanwhile there are black fathers who have to have conversations with their kids that I likely never will. “Son, keep your concealed carry license and ID wrapped around your neck. Don’t ever put them in your console. Don’t ever go reaching for something when you get pulled over.”

There are two Americas and I don’t have all of the answers for how that can be fixed. But I do know that there are not two gospels. There are not two bodies of Christ. That means that those of us who feel a million miles away from the pain that Philando Castile’s girlfriend experienced on Wednesday need to do better than Facebook rants and tired, worn out phrases.

If all lives really do matter, then Philando Castile’s life mattered.

And the fact that Philando Castile’s life didn’t mater enough during a traffic stop in St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday should really bother us.

If all lives really do matter, then the burden of Philando Castile’s family and friends must be our burden too.

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What We Can Learn From Duke Lacrosse

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Sunday was the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Duke lacrosse rape case. On the evening of March 13, 2006, a house where some players on the team lived was the scene of a party involving a female dancer. Shortly after leaving the party, the dancer, Crystal Mangum alleged that three members of the team raped her.

Those three players, their families and Duke’s head lacrosse coach would spend the next year defending themselves in the court of public opinion. There were rallies on campus calling for the team to be disbanded. There were mobs protesting outside the home of the incident. There were even signs calling for the accused to be castrated. Due process did not matter. Innocent until proven guilty did not matter. All that mattered was the narrative. And boy, did this story fit the narrative.

The Duke players were white and came from families that were relatively well off. In the court of public opinion, that’s about the same as showing up in a real courtroom with the murder victim’s blood on your hands. Crystal Mangum was black and lacked the financial resources of the Duke lacrosse players.

Eventually, the truth came out. Crystal Magnum was lying. The prosecutor, Mike Nifong, was disbarred and spent a day in jail for tampering with evidence. The media and the scores of people they had influenced had all been had.

Sunday night’s episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series was devoted to the Duke Lacrosse case. As I watched it, two things came to mind. These are two very important things that we either need to learn or be reminded of ten years after the fact.

First, you can’t trust the media. In my part of the world, such a statement will get you a hearty amen. But it’s not just the talking heads at ABC or MSNBC that you can’t trust. You can’t trust Breitbart and Drudge either. Whether right or left of the political spectrum, every form of media in the country has an agenda. Everyone is biased. If you look hard enough, you might find one or two media outlets that are biased toward the truth but for the most part all you’ll find is one news outlet pushing for more government control of something and another one trying to get their candidate, who also happens to be their biggest financial backer, elected as president.

There was a time in this country when news outlets cared about truth. Editors would walk around their bureaus repeating, “Truth! Truth! Truth!” to their reporters. Not anymore. Now I think that they say something like, “Narrative! Narrative! Narrative!” or “Money! Money! Money!”

And you’re the one who pays for it. We have more news outlets today than ever. But now, more than ever, it’s your job to be the reporter. It’s not enough to simply consume the stories that fit your agenda. You have to look for the truth, even if the conclusions are uncomfortable for you or your favorite candidate. Otherwise, you’re worse off than the uninformed. You’re misinformed. Uninformed people are dangerous because they simply do not care. Misinformed people are even more dangerous because they care deeply and act passionately but without all of the facts. Don’t be either one.

The second lesson is more important because it has to do with our sons.

Use your imagination and put your son on the 2006 Duke lacrosse team. Sometime around March 20, you hear a report on the news about a Duke lacrosse party that led to the brutal sexual assault of a woman. The entire team is put on trial in the court of public opinion. This troubles you because the entire team includes your son. He assures you that you have nothing to worry about.

A short time after the incident, police have the alleged victim look at a photo line-up. Rather than showing her several of the usual suspects with Duke players mixed in, every photo they show her is a player on the Duke lacrosse team. No matter who Crystal Mangum chose, she was going to choose a Duke lacrosse player. At random, she chooses three. One of them is your son.

Within what seems like minutes, he and two of his teammates are on the cover of magazines being portrayed as rapists. The three players hold a press conference. You are standing behind them, with the other parents as the boys stand trial in the court of public opinion.

The first boy declares his innocence and talks about the unfairness of these false accusations. He tells the media that the truth will be revealed soon.

The second boy says essentially the same thing and thanks his family and teammates for standing by him.

And now it’s your son’s turn. As he steps to the microphone, your heart races. You wish that you could speak for him but you can’t. He steps to the microphone with more confidence than his teammates and calmly states his name.

“I am innocent of the charges brought against me. While I planned on attending the party that night I decided not to. I went to the movies instead. Here’s my ticket stub and receipt.”

Watching the Duke lacrosse story inspired me as a father. It inspired me to raise sons who decide to go to the movies once they hear about there being a stripper at the party they were going to. You may call that pie in the sky. It’s not. It should be a goal of ever parent.

Our kids will make dumb mistakes. And when they do, they need our discipline, grace, instruction and love. But the problem for many parents is that they wait until the mistake has already been made before they ever think about discipline, grace, instruction and love.

It’s not enough to raise great athletes who get into a good college and perhaps go pro. Rather than trying to build the next James, Curry or Manning, we should be more interested in developing the next Joseph.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. Genesis 39:6-10 (ESV)

Like the Duke lacrosse players, Joseph was falsely accused of sexual assault. However, justice was not served for him. He spent quite a bit of time in jail. But the truth didn’t stop being the truth. And Joseph didn’t stop being devoted to the truth.

Like any other parent, we would all be elated if we found out that our falsely accused sons were finally off the hook. But we should aim much higher than a mere not guilty verdict for our sons. We should aim for holiness.

When we do, like Joseph, things may not always work out the way that we would like in the court of public opinion. But there is a court that is much more important than that one. In the eyes of Jesus Christ, the righteous judge who knows no corruption, all that matters is truth and righteousness. Public opinion does not matter to him and it never will.

So as we go about the business of turning our sons into men, righteousness and truth should be what matters most to us.

There’s nothing you can do about a false accusation directed at your son. But there’s plenty you can do to disarm those false accusations. That work is done at the kitchen table where meals are eaten, at the bedside where prayers are given and on playing fields where instruction is given. Just make sure that how to effectively chase a ball isn’t the only instruction you ever give.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7 (ESV)

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When Disaster Strikes

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Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not the type to blame Hurricane Katrina on the sins of any particular group of people. I don’t go speaking for God whenever there is some calamity. “This is God’s punishment for…” You get the picture.

If some hurricane in some far away city is God’s punishment for sin, then we better be ready in our own cities.

That’s the reason why I’m writing this.

Not every tragedy is God’s punishment for something. But sometimes it is. And if we’ve ever done anything in this country to deserve God’s punishment, it is the killing of babies. I don’t know if disaster will strike us anytime soon. I haven’t received a special word from the Lord. All I know is that if God does decide to punish this country, he has every right to do so.

When something bad happens, skeptics like to use it as ammo against Christians.

Where was your good and loving and all powerful God when that daycare caught on fire and all of those kids died?

Where was your holy God when that hurricane wiped out the lower half of Mississippi?

So is your God weak or did he just not care enough to stop that terrorist attack?

Be ready for questions like those when disaster strikes. Be ready to ask a few questions of your own.

Where was your sense of justice for small children when Planned Parenthood was delivering them alive and pulling out their brains?

Were you just too busy or did you just not care that millions of babies were put to death in this country while our leaders threw compliments and money at Planned Parenthood?

I pray for God to have mercy on us. But at the same time, I know that he is a just God. He is not apathetic or passive to the murder of people he created in his image. He has punished nations, even his own chosen nation, for sins before. We would be naive to believe that ours will be any different.

God destroyed Sodom and Gommorrah for their sins (Genesis 19:23-29).

It was the sins of God’s own people that caused them to lose the land that he had given to them and to live instead as slaves in a foreign land (Daniel 1:1-7).

Much later, God allowed Jerusalem, the holy city, to fall again.

God didn’t do these things because he has a short temper or because he is evil. He did them because he hates sin. And, contrary to public opinion, hatred of evil and love for what is good do go together. If you don’t believe me, watch how a loving mother acts when she sees an adult assault her small child. Are you prepared to call her unloving for pouring out her wrath on the man who is hurting her child?

The next time disaster strikes, there will be many who use it as an opportunity to chip away at God’s love, power and goodness. In reality, it could be that the disaster is simply his display of all three things, namely his love for the people he created in his image, his power over evil and his goodness to those who obey and love him.

The real disaster has already struck. For some 50 years now in this country, we have sanctioned the sacrifice of children to the gods of sex, comfort, money and power. That’s the disaster. If God chooses to shower our cities with sulfur and fire, he will be just in doing so.

Maybe he will do it while you read this.

Or maybe his mercy and patience will last even longer than it already has.

But we must be careful. While God’s holiness, goodness and love are limitless, his mercy and his patience are not. They do run out. And before they do, we must pay attention to the words of Jesus.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5 (ESV)

Repent.

Or perish.

Those are our options.

I pray that, before the next disaster strikes, our leaders would follow the example of the King of Nineveh.

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” Jonah 3:6-9 (ESV)

Who knows?

God may have mercy on us so that we do not perish.

Or he may just send disaster our way.

If he does, and you are tempted to wonder why, look no further than the remains of the babies we have sacrificed to our false gods.

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A Cop Gets Caught Doing Something Stupid

A cop gets caught doing something stupid. On camera. Thanks to the Internet, within days of the incident, the whole world knows about it. Millions have seen the video. Millions have shared it. And there’s no doubt about it. The police officer’s actions were out of line. Out of line is too light. They were evil. Almost everyone agrees. This man needs to pay for what he has done. If there is any shred of justice left in this country, he will.

It’s hard to argue with video evidence.

But someone will.

They will say that the eyewitness video, captured on an average citizen’s phone, is unreliable. They will say that the video didn’t show the whole story, only the part where the officer grabbed the small, unarmed and drug-free mother of three from her van, handcuffed her and kicked her in the back, sending her to the ground face first. All in front of the three sets of eyes in the back seat. They will say that the officer is being misrepresented because no one is talking about all of the good he has done for the community over his years of service. They will say that any outrage at this officer’s actions is somehow hatred of all police officers. They will say that, technically, he did nothing illegal.

It’s hard to argue with video evidence.

But people do it all of the time.

Especially when that video evidence eviscerates the lies that they have always believed to be true.

A doctor gets caught doing something stupid. On camera. Thanks to the Internet, after the incident, the whole world knows about it. Millions have seen it. Millions have shared it. And there’s no doubt about it. The doctor’s actions were out of line. Out of line is too light. They were evil. Almost everyone agrees. This doctor and the organization she represents needs to pay for what has been done. If there is any shred of justice left in this country, they will.

It’s hard to argue with video evidence.

But people will. In this case, those people are the ones who support the murder of babies.

They tell us that the undercover video is unreliable because the man holding the hidden camera was not a trained journalist like the ones at CNN. They tell us that the video didn’t show the whole story, only the part where the doctors laughed about bags full of dead babies while the remains from another baby sat on the counter next to them. They say that Planned Parenthood is being misrepresented because no one is talking about all of the good things that the organization does for people. They say that any outrage at Planned Parenthood’s actions is somehow hatred of all women and their health. They say that, technically, nothing illegal was done.

It’s hard to argue with video evidence.

But people do it all of the time.

Especially when that video evidence eviscerates the lies that they have always believed to be true.

And especially when that evidence is damning toward the mighty Planned Parenthood.

Justice is essential. No society can stand without it. But it is also total. That is to say, you can’t be selective about when you want justice. Justice does not come with an on and off switch.

So any society that numbly accepts injustice and disregard for human life and dignity in an abortionist’s office should not then be surprised when injustice and disregard for human life and dignity eventually spills out into the streets.

Either you want justice or you don’t.

The decision to turn justice off when it doesn’t fit one’s agenda rolls out the welcome mat for a host of injustices. It always does.

And that’s what is happening today. We have turned justice off in the abortion clinic. In so doing, we have rolled out the welcome mat for injustice to take over our neighborhoods. So what the politicians like to tell you is a private matter between a woman and her doctor has much more to do with the rest of the world than you have been led to believe.

What if our problem isn’t really race or police brutality or lack of respect for authority? Maybe all of the violence, hatred and tension we are seeing on our streets is just the next logical step after the approval and financial backing of the murder of babies.

As a nation, we cry for justice when a police officer does wrong to an innocent citizen. And we should.

As a nation, we cry for justice when someone guns down an innocent police officer. And we should.

But as a nation, we do absolutely nothing when millions of innocent children are murdered.

We should do something.

But we don’t.

Even when there is video evidence.

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God Bless America? No Thanks.

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When American presidents conclude their major speeches, they usually end with the same line. It goes something like this.

“God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.”

President Obama has gotten some heat from Christians for omitting that line from a few of his speeches. The line is a part of our history. It reminds us where we came from. It should be said, even if we know you don’t really mean it. Or so we are told.

As a Southern Baptist pastor who is a huge proponent of free speech, even the speech that I don’t like, I’m in favor of all of us retiring that phrase. No, I’m not calling for censorship. I just think that we should see the phrase for what it is.

Foolishness.

The foolishness has nothing to do with the mention of God or the belief that he blesses human endeavors. Instead, the foolishness is what exactly it is that we are asking him to bless.

You’ve probably already seen the undercover video of a Planned Parenthood executive discussing how her agency profits from the sell of body parts once belonging to the babies that they kill. At the time of this writing, members of our Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches have not been seen wearing sackcloth and ashes. My sincerest apologies if that happens between now and the publication of this post.

Also at the time of this writing, the mainstream news outlets have largely ignored the story. ABC News, for example, has stories on their website about a mom who is in trouble for making her twins hold sarcastic signs. There’s also a story about a transgendered teen struggling to cope with life in high school. So there’s that.

But nothing about your tax dollars being used to murder babies and sell their body parts. Again, forgive me if ABC News decides to do an exposé on Planned Parenthood between now and the time I publish this post.

Back to the main point.

God bless America.

Will you please bless our government sanctioned baby murdering?

Will you please bless us as we sell the livers and skulls of the babies we have killed so that we may live and not have to put up with taking care of another human life?

Will you please bless our total devotion to sex, even to the point that we will murder to avoid those pesky, ahem, mistakes that often come along as a result?

Please.

Here’s a better idea for a line the president can use when he finishes another one of is speeches.

“May God have mercy on America.”

Mercy, if you don’t know, is the withholding of what we rightfully deserve.

What would you say that we deserve for murdering millions of babies, selling their body parts and making Americans pay for it? You know, we’ve bombed other countries for much less and called it our patriotic duty. But we want God to somehow bless us?

Call me anti-American and please excuse me for sounding like the Bible thumper that I am but we deserve divine punishment.

Our country has murdered.

And profited from it.

And lied about it.

And then asked for God’s blessing on all of it.

That, it seems to me, is the American way. And the new American dream involves sexual climax at all costs while stopping at nothing to clean up the messy parts. So forgive me if I’m not jumping on the new American dream bandwagon.

You can tell a lot about people by what they get mad and fight about. In our country, people get mad about their so called rights to sex and marriage the way they want it and they fight when they’re not allowed to walk away from the responsibilities that come along with it. Many however, don’t do a whole lot of fighting when it comes time to speak up for those who have no voice.

But many are quick to speak up and ask for God’s blessing, even if they don’t much care for his standards.

Well, believe it or not, God hates murder. Even if you call it Planned Parenthood and give it a pretty logo and talk about all the good they allegedly do for the community. And God will not stand by as Americans continue to do all of it under the guise of his blessing.

God bless America? No thanks.

But God, please have mercy on America.

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Can We Please Stop Talking About Race?

Can we please stop talking about race? Probably not. But I think that we’d be better off if we did.

No, I’m not saying that we need to start ignoring the racism that obviously still exists in our culture. And I’m not telling victims of racism to get over it. I’m just saying that maybe it’s time for a new approach.

For years we’ve been told that we need to have a national conversation about race. So that’s what we’ve done. But the results have been less than stellar. Instead of harmony, this long conversation has left us confused, scared and even more angry than before.

Earlier this week I read an article that was a part of our long national conversation on race. The article was basically saying that everything from your choice of cupcakes at the bakery  to the names you give to your offspring can reveal your level of racism. Pardon my confusion, but how exactly does such a conversation help the fact that we just simply can’t get along in this country? Do we need a National Summit on Cupcake Buying?

Ironically, this so-called conversation has ruined our ability to talk. Shortly after the terror attacks in Paris I was watching a live television news report of the aftermath where two talking heads were giving play-by-play of what was happening on the screen. At one point, a black man stepped into the camera’s view. Here’s how it was described.

Talking Head #1: “The building in question is the one that the African American gentleman just walked out of.”

Talking Head #2: “We don’t know if he’s African. Or American. This is Paris, remember?”

Reports are still coming in but I believe that the man drove an African American car and had a Caucasian American tablecloth in his kitchen.

The end result of our constant conversing about race is that it’s all turned into a joke. Everything is racist. The Academy Awards are racist. The Grammy’s are racist. The guy who wasn’t a big fan of Selma is a racist. The girl who really does believe that Beyoncé’s album was better than Beck’s is a racist.

Everything is racist.

Well, except for the stuff that actually is.

But no one is talking about that. Who has the time with all of the Oscar and Grammy buzz along with that African American fellow in Paris who has probably never set foot in African or America?

If you really want to do something about racism in this country, stop listening to and participating in the conversation. Start examining your own heart. If you look hard enough, you’ll find some racism. And then repent. But remember, repentance doesn’t mean just saying that you’re sorry or feeling guilty.

Anyone can apologize for the racist actions of his forefathers hundreds of years ago.

Only the truly repentant can apologize for his own racist actions last Tuesday.

But it doesn’t stop there. True repentance will carry over into another conversation. A different one. One that is more sincere. One that does not involve Academy Awards, Al Sharpton or Beck. It’s one that just involves you. And the guy across the street with the different color skin. And maybe your kitchen table and a good home cooked meal.

Racism will never be stopped by some federal summit, confusing newspaper articles or guilt tripping national conversations. Before the return of Christ, racism will always be with us. But that doesn’t mean that we have to get used to it, learn to accept it or participate in it ourselves.

It just means that we need to come to grips with the fact that our long national conversation isn’t working.

What we really need is a long look into our own hearts.

And then a long meal, cup of coffee or talk at your kid’s practice with that guy down the street who looks different from you.

When you actually get to know that guy, he suddenly stops being, “the African American gentleman” or “the white guy in the big truck” and he starts being another human being created in the image of God and in need of a Savior. In other words, he’s just like you.

So can we please stop talking about race?

Instead, maybe we could just start talking to people of another race?

This kind of conversation may not get a lot of media attention.

But it’s likely to change our hearts.

And that just might change the world.

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.