The Carjacking of the American Church

She just wasn’t having it. It might happen to someone else, somewhere else. But not here and not now.

Surveillance footage showed two carjackers running to a car where a woman was pumping gas. Somehow, that woman was able to jump in her car and lock herself in. Score one for the good guys.

The bad guys weren’t done. They just moved to the next available car at the Hialeah, Florida gas station. But as soon as one of them jumped into the driver’s seat, the female owner of the car pulled him out and tore off his mask. Although the two men were armed, they were no match for the mother of the one-year-old and the seven-year-old who were in the backseat.

Carjackers are lurking around the American church. In many cases, they have already taken control of the wheel and made it back to the chop shop. But such is not the case for every church. It is with the same ferocity of that young mother that we must fight off those wishing to take control of the body of Christ for their own evil purposes.

Hucksters, politicians, racists, and sometimes combinations of all three wrapped up in one have tried to carjack the church over the years. We can’t let it happen.

But that requires some sacrifices.

We have to denounce white supremacy when it rears its ugly head, whether it be at a Virginia rally or out in the church parking lot.

No longer can we prostitute ourselves out to whatever politician will tell us what we want to hear.

We have to take the time to actually know the gospel so that we can know the fake gospels when they come running up on us. For example, when we hear a white supremacist like Thomas Robb tell us that the Great Commandment just meant that you’re supposed to love your own kind, not those of another race, we should be so familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan that we can chase off such evil like that mother who just wasn’t having it that day.

And we must remember what it means to love God and love our neighbor. If we’re honest, we don’t love like we’re supposed to. We cry for justice when a black person fails to meet our standards but we turn our nose up at the Philando Castilles of the world. We talk a mighty fine game about our Second Amendment rights but not so much when it comes to our neighbor and his Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights.

The conservative church in America is much like the church in Ephesus. For the most part, we hold to the truth. We resist false teaching. We do good works.

But we’ve forgotten how to love.

Jesus’ indictment of the Ephesus church two thousand years ago could just as easily apply today to the First Baptist Church of Bible Belt County. 

I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Revelation 2:3-4 (ESV)

We have learned how to build great cathedrals and programs. We know how to draw a crowd. We can fight against the Progressives with the best of them.

But we have forgotten how to love.

If you showed up to your church next Sunday and the air conditioner was broken, your church would manage. If your building burned down in the early hours of Sunday morning and you showed up to a pile of ashes, your church would still be just fine. But if you remove the love from the church, you no longer have the body of Christ but rather a slightly more moral version of the Church of Satan.

Paul told his young understudy, Timothy, that, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5 (ESV) I’m afraid that the same cannot be said for many American churches. They have been carjacked and control has been handed over to talk radio hosts, political pundits, and angry social media ranters who tithe well.

And we wonder why we’ve lost our influence.

Maybe it’s not all the fault of the godless and radical left. Maybe some of it has to do with the godless church folks who love the morality and sentimentalism of Christianity more than they do the Man from whom the movement originates. And as a result, we riot over the removal of a statue and we let the band play on at the news of another black life lost.

Thankfully, it’s not all like this. In my small town and small church, I know dozens of people who are fighting off the carjackers. They are having necessary conversations, inviting people into their homes, and crossing borders to share the love of Jesus.

Carl Zogby, speaking on behalf of the Hialeah Police Department about the mom who fought off those carjackers was straight to the point.

“She was a mom, and what that bad guy didn’t know, in the backseat of that car were two kids. She wasn’t gonna let them be taken, so she fought, she dragged the guy out of the car, and they both ran away like cowards.”

Cowards.

There’s a fine line between cowardice and courage. The coward often starts out boldly but withers away when the fight gets tough. And many times the courageous person is consumed with fear but does what needs to be done anyway.

The American church is at a bit of a crossroads. Will we hand our keys over to the cowards and hope for the best for those under our care? Or will we stand and fight against both the evil trying to get in and the evil that already is in our hearts?

Time will tell.

And we can be sure that Jesus is watching.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place unless you repent. Revelation 2:5 (ESV)

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A Terribly Offensive Quote From Martin Luther King Jr.

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The original quote on the wall at the University of Oregon was taken down because it used the word men. My guess is that the offended party would rather it said people or womyn or anything other than the generic men.

So the school took it down. But they had a great idea for a replacement. It was a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. Unless you like to spend your time wearing white hoods and sheets, you can’t find much to disagree with in these words.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Well, some students at the University of Oregon did.

While the school was remodeling the campus building in which the words of Dr. King reside, some brought up the idea replacing the quote. And no, the members of the offended party did not like to spend their time wearing white hoods and sheets. They were more into rainbow colors.

Some students wondered aloud if the quote accurately represented them today seeing as how Dr. King had the nerve to not mention the LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ community in his stirring speech.

In the end, something unusual for a college campus happened. Common sense prevailed. The quote from Dr. King remained. But, according to those in the know, there was quite a battle to keep it there.

This little dust up can teach us a lot. Members of the LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ like to compare their movement to the one that Dr. King led all those years ago. Those who were offended by this quote did us a favor by showing us all just how different these two movements are.

Martin Luther King Jr. wanted his people treated fairly. The perpetually offended sexual progressives want to be treated as masters.

Dr. King taught that character matters. To the sexual progressives, nothing matters more than being treated as normal when acting on your feelings, no matter how bizarre those feelings might be.

Dr. King was willing to go to jail so that his children could live in a just world. The sexual progressives want everyone else to go to jail for not agreeing with them.

The line has to be drawn somewhere. You may be the most tolerant person alive, but at some point you have to say no. A friend was telling me of a conversation with a young student who had no problem with homosexuality. When he asked the student about transgenderism, the response was the same. No problem.

And then he asked the student about men being allowed to use women’s rest rooms.

The student, a female, suddenly had a problem.

What an intolerant, bigot she was.

Or maybe she was just a hypocrite.

Eventually, everything becomes too offensive and all statues and quotes have to be taken down, all books have to be burned and all speech must be policed. This is no way for a free people to live. Free people train themselves to deal with something that they may passionately disagree with but which does not directly harm them.

Dr. King fought so that all people could be judged by the content of their character.

But that’s not enough for today’s sexual progressive. They would rather be judged by their feelings and judge others by their own hurt feelings.

But this shouldn’t surprise us.

Being offended by a quote about character is quite natural for a people with no character.

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Deport Racism May Win Against Donald Trump But They’re Losing Their Own Kids

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What does it profit a man to achieve his political goals and forfeit his children?

The people who make up the group Deport Racism are sure to find out the answer to that question.

A lot of people do not like Donald Trump. The folks in Deport Racism count themselves among that group. In case you question their opposition to Trump, they made a video detailing their hatred. A very disturbing video. One that is too disturbing for me to link here.

In that video, Latino children flip birds at the camera and use language that would make Richard Pryor blush. I really do mean children. My guess is that the youngest kid in the video is around six. The oldest is maybe ten or twelve. Regardless of your political persuasions and passions, would you allow your small children to give the finger and curse at your political opponent?

For pretty much their entire lives, my kids have had a president who is opposed to their way of life. He mocks the Bible they learn from. He uses any opportunity he can to take the guns that they shoot. He takes their parent’s money to fund abortions. I could go on. And while I do take the time to point out to my kids where our president is wrong and why, I don’t make videos of them flipping him off and cussing him out.

That’s because I’ve got bigger things to teach them.

I want them to know that encountering people with opposing views, no matter how wrong those views may be, is no a excuse to put integrity and character to the side. Rather, it’s a time for that integrity and character to be strengthened.

I don’t like where our country is or where it is headed. The federal government is growing more tyrannical. Individual liberties are under attack. The family structure is being grossly redefined. And every four years, we’re told that if we don’t like it, vote it out. Sadly, it’s not that easy. Too often, the only alternative option to tyranny is diet tyranny. So in most federal elections, freedom loving people have nothing to vote for.

But there is a different option. In a very real sense, we can vote against tyranny and progressivism every single day. Fathers, you can do it by loving and leading your family. You can do it by training your kids to know and stand for what’s right, not with their middle finger raised but with their feet firmly planted on the truth of the Bible.

I specifically mention fathers, not because mothers aren’t important but because the Bible puts this responsibility on dads.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)

Teaching your six-year-old to lob F Bombs at your political opponents is not disciplined or instructive. It does however provoke him to anger.

Donald Trump probably will not be our next president. That’s a good thing. But what next for those kids who were used as Deport Racism’s pawns? Will they learn that getting your way is more important that developing your character?

Probably so.

And that’s about the time that their parents will realize that Donald Trump was the least of their problems.

A Prayer For Racial Peace

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Heavenly Father,

We are in a mess and we need your help. The blame can’t be cast on any one person, group, political stance or television show. None of us are smart enough to think our way out of this mess. None of us are strong enough to fight our way out of it. In fact, it seems as though sometimes the more we think and fight, the worse it gets.

Father, we need peace. Not the peace we hear about in songs. We don’t want anything to do with the token talks of peace we see on television and hear from some politicians. We need to be changed and that can only come from Your peace. I confess that change isn’t just something that other people need. It’s not just something that the guy down the street or the person on the news needs. I need to be changed too. Every day I, along with the rest of your Church, need your peace-producing change.

Father, I don’t expect the world to stop acting like the world. At least not until you return. I expect turmoil, corruption, violence, oppression and hate. It’s what the world does. But as the world does what it does, please protect your Church. I do not ask that you just protect us from the world but also that you protect us from acting like the world.

There seems to be some very powerful people who would love nothing more than a full-blown race war in this country. Protect us, both white and black, from being a part of that in our speech and social media presence. Protect us from trying to one up the other guy at all costs. Instead, help us to return truth where lies are spread and love where hate is prevailing. Equip us to show the world that in you, despite all of our differences, white and black Christians share a common hope and that in him, though unique, one race or person is not better than the other.

Shake us from our slumber. The world is on fire. The culture of death is growing. But Father, death was defeated when your Son, Jesus Christ, rose from the grave. We still live with the sting of death but it has no final say over us. Help us to live that out. Help us to promote your kingdom culture in the face of the culture of death we are living in.

Father, please help us to see people as you made them. Help us to take the time to get to know people who are different from us. Help us to establish friendships that go beyond what seems natural to us. Father, whether the other guy is a small baby that could fit in the palm of my hand or just someone from a different race, help us to see him for who he really is – a human being who You created in your image for Your glory. Help us to remember that life matters, not because it’s trendy to say so but because all human life comes from you and will one day return to you.

Father, help us to laugh. I do not ask for the laughter of foolish men who occupy themselves with nonsense while destruction awaits. Instead, give us the laughter of a people who find their joy in you even when things are far from perfect. Father, may the world look at us and not see a people who are immune from the world’s pain but a people who are immune from the world’s hopelessness.

Father, we all want our voice to be heard. We want the final say. We want our way. Please forgive us for this. In repentance, help us to seek your voice, to submit to your authority and to follow your way, even when it’s time for us to speak up about something. Help us to remember that, throughout history, things have gone so much better when you spoke through people instead of people trying to speak for you. Help us to put your authority over our own.

Father, the world is a mess. In a lot of ways, so is Your Church. But that’s nothing new. Father, no one creates beauty from messes like you. Clean us, Father. Clean us and use us.

In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ and for his glory,

Amen.

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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.

Happy Monday: I Never Got To Meet Martin Luther King Jr.

The world is on fire. Everyone is mad at someone. Riots are all the rage. Tensions are high. Wars are trendy. And it’s Monday.

With all of that, it’s hard to find a reason to be thankful. Unless you stop to take a look at the things you’ll never see on the news.

1. At dinner earlier this week my son said the blessing. He thanked God for Martin Luther King standing up for what’s right. While he was praying, George Strait was playing on our radio. I’m thankful for that small but significant piece of diversity and the conversation it produced.

2. A friend at church is a retired cop from a major American city. When he was on the force he answered to a sergeant who did not like him. My friend is white. His boss was black. Both assumed that the other was a racist. One day my friend waited outside of his boss’ office. He wanted to make things right. His boss finally came in wearing only half of his uniform. His plan that day was to get dressed in his office. Instead, he had to deal with my friend, the man he didn’t like.

“How can I make things right so that we can get along?” my friend asked his sergeant.

“We’re okay,” the sergeant replied. And then he hugged my friend.

My friend was worried what people might think if they walked by and saw him hugging his partially clothed boss.

But those worries were no match for the peace that came with that small reconciliation between the races.

We could use another Martin Luther King Jr. these days. Until someone like him comes along, we can celebrate the seemingly insignificant.

I’ll probably never give a memorable speech from Washington D.C. But, at my kitchen table, I can teach my sons about men who stood up for justice.

I never got to meet Martin Luther King Jr. but I’m glad that I know a former cop who has been so impacted by the gospel that he can’t settle for the same old racial tensions that King stood against.

I’m thankful for Dr. King.

But I’m also thankful for the thousands of others who are seeking to live out his dream – one seemingly insignificant moment at a time.

Happy Monday!

I Predict, 2015

Here’s what’s going to happen in 2015. Trust me on this.

Politics

Through the cutting edge research of one of its top donors, Cobra Industries, the Democratic Party will develop a way to bring back an old hero to run for president in 2016. Joseph Stalin.

In typical fashion, the Republican Party will follow suit. But they won’t have to bring anyone back from the dead. They’ll just give us one of the Bush brothers. Jeb, to be exact.

Before the year is over, Stalin and Bush will emerge as the two likely candidates for 2016. Conservatives will encourage us to vote for the lesser of two evils. It’ll take most of us the better part of the year to figure out which one that is. By the time November of 2016 rolls around, only 300 people will care enough to vote. Twenty-five people will vote for Stalin. Fifty people will vote for W’s brother. 225 people vote for one of the Kardashians. If we’re still around, let me know how that works out. You can write me at the following address.

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Race Relations

Race relations in this country will actually improve after people finally get fed up and decide to start obeying the following self-imposed rules.

1. We shall no longer listen to what someone has to say about race if that someone calls himself a reverend but does not actually go to or pastor a church or if that someone is the host of a show on Fox News, MSNBC or CNN.

2. We shall make every effort to enjoy a nice meal with people who do not look or think like us. At said meal we will discuss what troubles us. We will be free to disagree but only under the condition that we have another meal together real soon.

3. I’ll bring the sweet tea and gluten-free brownies.

Freedom

A police department in the northwest will confess to buying a tank so that they can use it to fight against people who own guns and believe in the Constitution. Oh, sorry. That happened in 2014.

Sports

The Atlanta Falcons will make history by becoming the first team to make it to the Super Bowl with a losing record, get beaten by more than 75 points in that Super Bowl, fire their coach and general manager and continue to make their fans pay for a new stadium all in a two month time span. Somebody’s got to do it. Why not the Falcons?

Music

Florida/Georgia Line will win the award for Best Musical Act or Performance to be Used for Interrogating Terrorists. They’ll have to give the award back a few weeks later after Diane Feinstein decides that such torture is simply too inhumane.

Also at the Grammy’s, someone will sing something that involves a gospel choir in the background.

Nickelback will have the number one album in the country for a few weeks but you won’t be able to find anyone who will confess to owning one.

Movies

Someone will make a movie about a disgruntled Atlanta Falcons fan who tries to blow up North Korea after his team gets embarrassed in the Super Bowl and he finds out how much he’s going to have to pay for tickets and taxes because of his team’s new stadium. Florida/Georgia Line and Nickelback will team up to provide the soundtrack for the movie.

And then the world will end.

Unless President Kardashian can do something to save us.

Again, let me know how that works out.

You’ve got my new address.

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.

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.

Pain And White Privilege

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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.