This year, 2020, has been one tumultuous year. Brother has been turned against brother. Vitriol has been created by the media and lies have become the order of the day. Our cities have been looted and burned over partial and inaccurate information. Now, there are threats of violence if the wrong person wins the election.
With this, I must issue a rare admonishment. No matter who wins this election violence will not change the results. It is time we returned to civility. The name-calling because of different points of view has gotten way out of hand. Threats of harm have risen to levels I have never seen in my life. All this is unnecessary, sophomoric, and does little to promote healing and reconciliation.
It is not my role to tell anyone how to vote and I will not come close to doing that. Each person should, however, lay aside personal subjective feelings and examine the facts. Vote in accordance with the Constitution. Vote for the one who will support and defend the Constitution. Look at the facts objectively without regard to feelings and innuendo.
Moreover, this is a country founded on the premise of freedom and is highlighted in our founding documents. Use that freedom to vote. Use the freedom to properly redress the government. Use that freedom to lift each other rather than giving way to repugnant vitriolic rhetoric which serves only to increase division. If your candidate wins it would do well to shake the hand of your opponent. If your candidate loses it would do well to shake the hand of your opponent. More importantly, we would all do well to be thankful to the Almighty who has allowed us to live in a land where we can openly adore Him. Let us keep it that way.
Please, if you are willing and able to help in this project your kindness is absolutely appreciated. Please share with any you will. And, if you have a business that you could a tax deduction, this could be that avenue.
Again, thank you in advance.
I have been told by some that I should not take certain things personally. Yes, I have been told that I should not be moved by compassion, well in so many words. The problem is that I can’t help but take certain things personally. This is especially true with those things that directly impact me. When it impacts me it’s real personal. To say otherwise is disingenuous at best.
Let’s look at the idea of Blacks supporting “Black” businesses. There are many that suggest that Blacks should support such businesses. And, while I have no problem with the free flow of business it bothers me when they are yelling that we should support Black business refuse to support my work. They have refused to help me in business and won’t buy my books. While I am called Black by ethnicity it seems strange that my “Black” business is not worthy of being supported. They say I should not take it personally when I reach out to those who might benefit from my services and who are also Black by ethnicity ignore me or say they will “pray” about it and never get back to me I have to wonder if it is personal. No, I don’t have to wonder. It’s real personal.
There is more. Let us look a little closer at this Black Lives Matter movement. I could argue this is more a political movement than one concerned with the lives of Blacks, but that argument is for another day. Still, it appears that Black lives only matter when it is thought the Blacks are killed by police. Hence, we now have a movement to defund and dismantle police departments. And this they say I should not take personally. Well, I do take police work personally. I have worked in and around law enforcement much of my adult life. I have worked for two police departments and two departments of corrections. I have family members active in law enforcement. But I am told not to take this personally. Well, it’s real personal. I fought this nation on a number of fronts and I am told not to take it personally. I take it personally because when I put my life on the line with my family it’s real personal.
Speaking of Black Lives Matter, I am not so sure this group is truly concerned with Black lives. You see, I recall a few years ago when a young man I knew very well was shot. He was Black. That did not matter to me. He was a human being. So, I paid a clergy visit to him in the hospital. He did not know I was there. I prayed for him and that God would give him the opportunity to turn his heart to God. That young man eventually succumbed to the injuries. There was no rioting. There was no demand this his killer be caught. No one marched in the street. He died. He was younger than me and yet I should not take it personally. I stood next to a young man killed by presumably another young Black man. He was not killed by a police officer. He was killed by a criminal and I remember vividly standing by his bedside. Still, the suggestion is that I should not take it personally. Well, I had a personal relationship with that young man. I had known him throughout my life yet I am told I should not take it personally. Well, I take it personally because it’s real personal.
Many continue to raise their fists with the mantra “Black lives matter” echoing down the streets and from the walls of nearby buildings. Yes, there are some police who need to be off the force. There are also some Blacks (and others) who need to be incarnated. Still, It becomes very personal when a narrative is made to be true and if you don’t fall in lockstep with the narrative your life is not worth it. I have not fallen in lockstep and will not. The reason is that many Black lives really don’t matter if those lives don’t meet the political agenda. Take for instance the lives lost in Chicago just this past weekend. There were over one hundred people shot and at least fourteen killed. Where is the outrage? Where is Al Sharpton? Where are the leaders of Black Lives Matter?
It’s real personal and I take it as such. The lies are unbearable. The false narratives are deafening. The lives lost might not have made it into the Kingdom of God. Yet, the screaming is not concerning those who have not only lost their lives but that also missed salvation. This is the real tragedy and why I take this so personally. You see, just as I chose to defend this nation I also chose to fight for the Gospel. What would happen if we lay aside insignificant political rhetoric in favour of life-changing words of hope? What if we gave people (even Black people) a reason to live rather than a reason to kill?
I take it personally because it is personal. I have the passion to preach the Gospel without apology and have the compassion to stand on the bedside of one in certain distress. Yes, it is personal because much of the yelling and screaming does little to further the cause of unity and without unity we will continue to devolve into a land of Godless, murderous, and hardened malcontents. Yes, it is personal; it’s real personal.
The Civil War is a war worth remembering. It pitted brother against brother. Some declare the war was the north against the south. I might suggest the war was much greater than that. It was a war that sought to bring about the most innate idea of man. This war, the Civil War, was a war about freedom. It was a war wherein some thought it OK to enslave others while others were beholden in the idea that all men were created equal. As such, equal men have no right or authority to enslave other men.
So, the Civil War would be fought. President Abraham Lincoln would be the Commander-in-Chief during this time as some states decided they no longer wanted to be part of the union. President Lincoln struggled as the young nation fought for what some saw as states’ rights. Meanwhile, the torn President prepared the Emancipation Proclamation which was to free some slaves and would later be the impetus to the eradication of slavery in the United States. The war would be won by those seeking freedom but that the first Republican President would lose his life by way of an assassin’s bullet. Much blood was shed and that shed blood was for one reason; freedom.
It was the year 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation was put into effect. It would be about two years later when the Union soldiers would find their way to Galveston, Texas to bring word to the enslaved that they no longer had to live in the bondage of slave masters. As a result, we now have an unofficial holiday for most and a state holiday in Texas called Juneteenth. It is a day commemorating the word getting to the slaves who were free but did not realize their freedom.
When considering the events of this day of freedom it becomes impossible to ignore the fact of spiritual slavery and freedom. You see, Christ came into the world to free those held in the bondage of sin. Like those slaves in Galveston, many do not know they do not have to give in to and live under the tyrannical hand of the slave master, sin. With the idea of freedom in mind, Paul uses Galatians chapters four and five to bolster the basic concept of freedom. Galatians 5:1 is Paul’s encouragement to maintain certain freedom. His words, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
These same words could have easily been used in an expression to those in Galveston. They had been made free but that the bondage of slave masters would not allow the celebration of freedom. Still, that yoke of bondage remains today both theoretically and literally. Theoretically, many have the mindset of being enslaved by a slave master who has already released the yoke. That yoke was released yet some see themselves as still being under the tyrannical hand of the slave master. In a sense, they may be correct. As long as those in “bondage” see the slave masters ruling over them they will never be free.
The same concept holds true for those choosing to enslave themselves to the yoke of bondage, sin. Sin will keep you under its control as long as you allow it. Sin is a slave master that will not release its grip of its own accord. Yet, the Son has come that we might be free. That freedom means serving the tyrannical master of sin becomes a thing of the past. It means putting off the old man, that man of sin, and picking up the new man, the man of salvation. Salvation is the act and process of being delivered from the power of sin. Once delivered from sin that sin becomes as irrelevant as the slave masters of old.
With this in mind, we celebrate today because of certain freedom from the hands of slave masters. There is, however, a greater celebration. We must celebrate the liberty in Christ and that liberty is freedom from the power and influence of sin. The bottom line is that whom the Son sets free is free indeed. The spilled blood of those fighting for freedom should not be in vain. Neither should the spilled blood of Christ be in vain. Let us, therefore, walk in and celebrate this day of freedom.
For the past several days I have been troubled about what is taking place in this nation. My heart has been hurt and I struggled with how I should handle and address the matter of the disruption of peace and tranquility. I have thought how some might respond and considered that some will take my words out of context or simply tell me I am on the wrong side of the issues at hand. The struggle still continues as even some family members take issue with my stand. My stand is not for this group or that but the whole of mankind. Even so, some take issue with that.
So, I might as well get to it. If I lose friends, so be it. I am not in a popularity contest nor am I pretending to be politically correct for the moment. We are in a war and the enemy does not care about ethnicities. He does not care about culture. He does not care about families nor does the enemy care about socio-economic status or religion. Our common enemy cares only to steal, kill, and destroy and we are allowing him to do that by furthering divides which serve only to push his agenda and that is done through deception. Let me explain.
Much of the turmoil in this nation at this time is said to be centered around the death of George Floyd. Mr. Floyd, a Black man (I sure hate colour-coding people) was killed by a White police officer. I am not certain that anyone would argue that Mr. Floyd should be dead and that his killer should be free. Yet, the continual narrative is that police are targeting Blacks and that all Whites are somehow complicit in the wrongs of a few. Yes, there are some racist Whites. There are also some racist Blacks. The fact is that there are racists in every ethnicity, yet those racists do not speak for the whole.
Digressing to the killing, I am not fully convinced the murder was based on racism. This is where I get in trouble. You see, the news has largely ignored the fact that Mr. Floyd and his murderer were co-workers. This fact means that certain questions must be asked. How well did Mr. Floyd and his killer know each other? Was there a continuation of bad blood between the two? Is it possible this murder could have been more personal than racial? Why is the media hiding the fact of these long-lasting co-workers? Is there a political motivation to continuing the racist rhetoric associated with the death of Mr. Floyd?
It is also necessary to look at the ever-resounding mantra of Black Lives Matter. This is a movement that began in Baltimore after the death of Freddy Gray while in police custody. Mr. Gray was not killed by the police, yet the movement began. Not many will argue against the fact that Black lives matter. The strange dichotomy is that while the death of Mr. Gray was made political and caused rioting in the streets of Baltimore there were no voices raised for the many deaths of those dying in the streets of Baltimore at the hands of other Blacks. Specifically, there were 344 murders in Baltimore that year and no one took to the streets. There were no riots. Stores were not broken into and looted. Could it be that the deaths did not fit the political narrative? Were those 344 lives not precious? Is the lack of concern because those people primarily Black, did not matter because their lives were taken primarily by Blacks? It just seems to me that if Black lives matter these 344 in Baltimore should be counted as those that matter.
Now, Mr. Floyd’s death was also tragic and totally unnecessary. There is no doubt that his life mattered. The dichotomy is that the many other lives taken in Minneapolis do little to raise eyebrows. It almost appears the eyes are turned away even when the lives are taken from Blacks. Do their lives not matter? There is no marching in the street for those Blacks killed by other Blacks in Minneapolis. There were, undoubtedly, Whites killed as well. Are their lives less significant because they are not Black? I find it hard to believe that one’s value is predicated upon his ethnicity; a matter of which he holds no control.
When examining strange dichotomies, one has no choice but to consider Chicago. Chicago is a city long known for its crime. The “Windy City” has had the winds of lawless at least since the time of the show Good Times. It appears that not much has changed even in the face of a Black mayor, Miss Lightfoot. Mayor Lightfoot is obviously no fan of churches and that has become evident during this Coronavirus fiasco. Even while her venom for churches is spewed Blacks are being murdered in Chicago left and right. It could be that those nearly 250 people killed so far this year did not matter. Most were Black. Most were likely killed by Blacks. The problem is that they do not fit the convenient political narrative.
I could go on and on about the many Blacks killed at the hands of Blacks that never make the national or sometimes local news. Consider, the deaths in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, New Orleans, etc. Do these lives not matter? Many are Black. The problem is they were not killed by the police. It does not fit the narrative that police are exterminating Blacks. The fact is that police kill very few Blacks and most of those killings are justified. For instance, the associated footnote will show that this year there have been Blacks killed by police (research for details) more Whites were killed than Blacks. Other ethnicities were killed as well. It just seems that those other than Blacks do not have the political backing to get attention.
It has become politically correct to join the Black Lives Matter movement. To raise fists in solidarity with those lives fit the political rhetoric serves to further the political movement. It has become the norm to say that Black lives matter. However, the dichotomy is that one standing in solidarity with others is somehow offensive. To say “all lives matter” is sufficient to cause maltreatment and maligning of the one standing for all. For me, this is a difficult pill to swallow. In fact, I do not want the pill. I stand for each and every life no matter the ethnicity. I stand with right no matter where there right falls. I stand against wrong no matter where that wrong falls.
I find it necessary to stretch this discussion just a bit further. You see, many that purport to be Christians are among those ready to fight at the suggestion that all lives matter. This is problematic when one considers the fact that God so loved the world (the entirety of mankind) that He sent his only begotten Son John 3:16). God’s love is not concerned with ethnicity. It is not concerned with national origin nor is it concerned with language or political correctness. God’s love is concerned with the individual as he is placed in the world. The world encompasses all of mankind is a type of what we will find in Heaven.
Revelation chapter five points to the contingent of people that will be giving God praises in Heaven. They include people of every kindred, nation, and tongue. No group is excluded. All are included. To God, all lives matter yet the dichotomy would suggest otherwise. Even so, to be people of God we would do well to remember the principle of love. If we but love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we would do well to lay aside this strange dichotomy.
Over the past several weeks I have been watching the people of the United States being destroyed piece by piece. Some may not see this as destruction. However, a careful examination of Scripture shows that God’s people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). That lack of knowledge is significant in spiritual matters as well as natural matters. Let’s do a brief examination of the lockdown this country has been subjected to over the past weeks.
A first thing to note is that this taking away of the freedoms of the people began of misinformation and hyperbole. This misinformation was the projections that COVID 19 was set to kill many people over a short period of time. This was not only false information but that it seems to have played a major role in pulling from facts and introducing fear to a people that have failed to seek information for themselves. This lack of knowledge has caused people to bend to the whims of dictatorial despot wannabes whose sole desire is to impose a false authority on an unlearned people.
Another thing needing a little examination is the matter of fear. Among other mediums, the media at large became a useful tool in introducing fear to millions of people. That was done in part with the regular use of the term “social distancing.” There is hardly a news segment from the mainstream media wherein the idea is not introduced. One might argue that this is a form of indoctrination as it is the repeated mantra of an idea that has yet to have a clear scientific basis. In fact, social distancing is very harmful to individuals as humans are communal by nature. Yet, the fear-induced propaganda has sought to lead the uninformed to believe that this virus is so dangerous that we cannot even touch our faces even in the absence of anyone that may have the slightest chance of being infected. Fear is most effective in the absence of knowledge and so the fear of being close to someone has made many angry and rude. This goes to the oxymoronic idea of social distancing.
The list of destructive ideas is long. There is the closing of parks by some jurisdictions when it is proven this virus lives a very short time in the sun. People have been giving citations for attending church services while sitting in their cars. Pastors have been arrested for holding church services. Beaches have been closed. Businesses have been lost. Millions are sitting home waiting for the government to send them money not realizing the government does not care and cannot care about the individual. The list of atrocities goes on as the governmental agencies seem to mandate the people kowtow to authoritarian rule. However, to be subjugated to the government is indicative of the fact the government controls you. This ignorance of people causes them not to realize that when the government controls you there is no freedom.
With this contemporary look at the destruction of a people, it is reasonable that a biblical examination be employed. John 10:10 highlights the motivations of the thief. The text, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” Said differently, the thief (the devil) has but one purpose: the destruction of a people.
The thief is no friend to the people of God. He comes to destroy you by any means that will cause that destruction. This is much like what is going on in the United States today. The enemy has stolen the peace of many. There is little trust in our fellow men. Brother has been turned against brother. The truth has been stolen by reason of an abundance of lies and hyperbole. One lie the enemy will tell you is that you are worthy and that you deserve to die. Well, let me tell you, you are worthy, and you deserve to live. Christ came so that you could have life and that life is one free from the destruction of peace
This thief, this enemy, has also come to steal. While that may seem obvious, these dictatorial restrictions of heavy-handed despot types have stolen lives by reason of suicides directly linked to the restrictions. Moreover, some have died because they were not able to get necessary medical care because of the restrictions placed on hospitals. Peace of mind has also been stolen. Joy has been stolen. Careers have been stolen. Yet, Jesus came that our life would be more abundant. For those of us that trust God we know that what the cankerworm has eaten God will restore (Joel 2:25). And, while that text is specific to certain people the principle of God remains strong. God is a restorative God.
There has also been a lot of destruction of the past weeks. Families have been destroyed. Some lives will never be the same. All of this has happened because of the lack of knowledge and understanding of what is going on in the natural and spiritual worlds. It is high time we stopped the destruction of a people and stood on our founding principles. Those principles are outlined in the Word of God and that is where we find life. The destruction will be abated once we come to the knowledge of truth and begin to rest in that. And, while the Word of God is our founding principle we need also to rest in the knowledge of the law of this land, the Constitution. Once both are properly employed the destruction of a people will be abated.
Finally, think not that this essay is to make light of those seriously impacted by COVID-19. It is not. The intention of this is to remove the blinders of fear as we stand steadfast in truth.
I must admit, the coronavirus has gotten many worked up and in a frenzy. Some are afraid to leave their homes and others are even more afraid of coming in contact with other people. The media and politicians have ramped this virus to the point that you would have thought this virus would be the downfall of mankind and the end of the world. Fear has crippled the world at large and this country in particular. Fear has caused people to wear face masks and if one person in some communities contract the virus people run around as though the sky is falling.
Look, it is not my intention to make light of this virus. For some it is lethal. Being sick is no desire for anyone. Hence, certain precautions are necessary for any viral disorder. Even so, this same panic was not prevalent during the time of the Swine Flu. In perspective, the Swine Flu was contracted by about 61 million people in the United States. This resulted in about 13 thousand deaths. There was no widespread panic. There was not the closing down of cities, states, nor the workforce. As I recall, the mentions of it on media did little to instill fear and panic. And, I would argue, rightly so.
As I pen these words, the confirmed cases of the coronavirus are about 77 thousand and about one thousand deaths. Yes, this is tragic. Every life is precious. Still, comparatively speaking, this is a very small number. With a nation of about 350 million people, the number of people contracting the virus is about .00022%. This means that most people will not contract this virus and most do not know anyone infected. So, why all this panic? Why all the fear? What is going on causing panic where all that is needed is good basic care?
While I am not a medical doctor and don’t pretend to understand all such matters. I can say of certainty that Satan comes but to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). The question must be asked as to how Satan (the thief) performs these most nefarious actions. Simply put, if the thief desires to kill who you are in God, he will dangle fear in front of you so that you do not do what God has ordained you to do. You may become fearful of failure so that you will not step out in faith and do what the Almighty has for you.
The thief will also steal your future and motivations from you. He will cause fear to settle on you so that your God-given motivations are snatched from you before you realize what is going on. Before you know it, the gifts that God has given you to build His Kingdom have been lost because the enemy took them by reason of unjustified fear. He will also destroy you with fear. Now, this is not talking about the fear of God which is a reverence to Him. This fear is the unmitigated distortion of facts and truth in order to hold you hostage to the lie. Fear is the most destructive enemy and if allowed will stop the strongest man in his footsteps.
I repeat I am not saying don’t take care of yourselves. Wash your hands. If you are sick stay home. Take care of yourself and others. In doing this, don’t let the greats enemy, fear overwhelm you. Don’t allow and temporary moment in time to impact the rest of your life. So, stand strong. The winds of adversity come but for a moment. Don’t let this fear determine your future and don’t let it snatch from you the very thing God has created you for. You are more than that and the enemy knows it. So, stand.
Remember, the thief comes to steal kill and destroy but that Jesus came that you might have life and that more abundantly. So, go for the abundance and kick fear out of your life.
It is not common practice for me to write book reviews. While I have written a few academically I have never written one outside the purview of academic scrutiny. Still, I must put forth some insight concerning the work of Mark and Rebecca Johnston called The Last Breakup.
Pianos are very sophisticated instruments. They can be played in any key with any genre of music. A skilled pianist has the ability to make the instrument talk or hum, whatever his desire. This is despite the fact of the opposing black and white keys. The keys represent not only different notes but also different octaves. Played wrongly, the piano can sound like a wild cat screeching in the night. Yet, skillfully played the piano keys work in perfect harmony. This is also the case with marriage – rightly played marriage is the most beautiful relationship on earth. Wrongfully played the diametrically opposed keys are sufficient to cause severe pain.
Mark and Rebecca have chosen to share the pain of their marriage in this eye-catching work. It is not a book of marital counseling. It is a work that shows the emotional ups and downs of a marriage doomed to destruction because it was being played without regard to the wisdom of one who knows well the skill it takes to rightly play a marriage. The emotional roller coaster not only nearly caused the breakup of a marriage but could have destroyed not only those in the marriage but also those closely linked to the marriage.
But then, because of the brokenness of Mark and Rebecca there came unexpected players in the picture. While the emotive aspects of a badly played marriage sought to destroy what God joined together the unexpected inevitable master of teaching became paramount in the lives of those knowing nowhere else to turn. But for the grace of God, the last breakup would not be permanent. Instead, it would be the impetus for planting the foundation for a lovely union.
As you read The last Breakup turn off the TV and get in a quiet place. The transparency and vulnerability are refreshing as Mark and Rebecca reflect on their last breakup and what caused healing in the face of brokenness.