The Storm in the Delta
This past weekend I had the pleasure of being in Greenwood, MS where I was asked to present the matter of racism in the Church. Unbeknownst to me, the racism in the Church in the Mississippi Delta is more severe than I thought. Still, as if it makes a difference, this Black preacher was invited by a White preacher to face the storm in the Delta.
The problem is this storm of vitriol is not only raging in the Delta. It has gripped and blown apart many lives across this nation. It has pitted brother against brother for no other reason except to further divide a people already broken and in need of healing and reconciliation, Moreover, the vitriol stems from immutable qualities man has no ability to decide and had no say so as to his immutable qualities.
Let me go a bit further. While I was in the Delta an older Bishop (probably in his 80s) shared an experience that was not a good one. He shared how he was planning a tent revival and received permits from the landowners to have the event. Then, came the winds of the storm. The rains fell heavy and hard. The storm was vicious and angry and came because the Bishop sought to have an event that included all people. The good Bishop was forced to cancel that meeting because the storm of racism in the Delta is vicious and seeks to leave no victims sanding.
And, there was another incident shared with me by the Bishop who invited me to speak. He shared with me how that he was invited to oversee a local body in Mississippi. For a while, he did not see the bylaws. Once seeing them the Bishop learned this body had set the intention practice of keeping that body segregated. He did the right thing and left that assembly quick, fast, and in a hurry. The storm in that body blew out the love of God while ushering in the unfeigned hatred of people of differing ethnicities.
We need to make something very clear. This discussion is not emblematic of everyone in the Delta nor the country at large. Still, storms have a way of destroying everything in their paths. As such, many have been blown down and soaked in the storms which have done nothing but destroy and divide the Church. Well, I have had enough. I have had enough of ridiculous characterizations of people over conditions over which they have no control. Moreover, I believe I read that God’s people (remember context) are fearfully and wonderfully made. With that being the case, it is time to face this storm headstrong.
Well, I am storming mad. Not just because of the Delta but also what is going on across the country. While I was in Greenwood I started a storm. It is past time we blew out racist vitriol. It is time we soak hate-filled segregation with love. Christ died for the entirety of mankind and when He did that another storm was started that storm affected the healing and reconciliation of a people, no of all people. I will not relent. I will not give up. I am going to keep on fighting the false narratives of racism and attack racism where it sits.
Look here, if you need or want me to come to help you fight, let me know. We can work out the details. I am determined to bring healing and reconciliation to the Church. I have an outline for church leaders I will be glad to present as well as lessons geared toward the people at large. Where I have started a new storm in the Delta (well, with the help of others) I am willing to reasonably travel to quiet the storms of racism and division whilst taking the love of Christ and replacing unjust and unqualified hatred with the unbending love of Christ.
When We Turn Our Backs
If you have ever had anyone turn his back on you, you know how it makes you feel. It is disrespectful at best. When this happens there is no doubt certain feelings begin to rise. There often comes a desire to put the person in check. However, it may not be prudent to render disrespect for disrespect. That does little to pull from the utter feelings of disrespect and hurt caused by the back turning.
Even so, many in this country are turning their backs on truths. Up has become down, east has become west and right has become wrong. Many walk securely in lies even in the face of the ever-present truth. They have turned their backs on the truth. Little do they know there will come a time when the price must be paid. That price will be severe as the truth will not be lessened because of turned backs.
Backs are being turned everywhere under the guises of supposed offenses and equality. For instance, there is a new sexual revolution going on in our country. We (and I speak broadly) have turned our backs on the truth of God’s Word. We have welcomed all fornication as though there is no consequence. Fornication is the general term for any sex outside of God ordained marriage between one man and one woman. Fornication continues in spite of the fact that God’s Word has not changed. I Corinthians 6:18, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
One might ask how sexual sins directly affect the body. Well, there are sexually transmitted diseases but that we can’t talk about that because some might count that as being offensive. So, we will talk about the mutilation of one’s body to change from one gender to another. Wait, we have to turn our backs on that truth, too. We will move on to the identity crises and taught self-hate when we change the gender of young children. And, abortion; when we turn our backs on the murder of the unborn those bodies are hurt. Lest we forget, women’s sports are being eradicated by reason of transgenderism. Oh, we have to turn our backs to these truths as well.
Perhaps safer ground would be dealing with the matter of lies. We all know that lies have been counted as acceptable and normal. This is especially true as it pertains to “white” lies. Or maybe we can turn our back to truth in favour of lies? There is no doubt Scripture teaches the fact that all liars will have their place in the lake that burns with fire (Revelation 21:18). But, this too is offensive so we might as well turn our backs on the truth of Scripture. There will be a price and I might suggest the price is one most will not want to pay.
Case and point: recently a congressman publically stated that God effectively had no place in Congress. This congressman has turned his back on God. I might further suggest that such language stems from a reprobate mind. You see, when we turn our backs on God we will receive our just rewards. Romans 1:28 shows the result of such turning with these words, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”
When we turn our backs on God He will turn His back on us. Consider II Chronicles 7:19-22. God will not be mocked. He is sovereign. He is truth. It is time we turned back; turn back to the truths of the Word of God. We must turn back to righteousness. We must return as warned by Jeremiah; “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.”
When we turn our backs on unrighteousness we face righteousness. When we turn our backs on lies we walk in truth. When we turn our backs on the unholy we stand in holiness. When we turn our backs on backsliding God begins the healing process. He will heal the individual and heal the land. When we turn our backs on offending God Jesus will turn back to us. It is time we turned back.
Careful About Those Tables
There are some words we never forget. Parental warnings are among those words we hold on to for dear life. One such warning was against eating from everyone’s table. This is because we often don’t know how the food is prepared. We don’t know if animals have been sniffing around the food. Perhaps the preparer’s hands were dirty and good hygiene was no part of the equation. No matter the reasoning the warning stands against eating from everyone’s table. It could cost you your life.
The same is true of the Bride of Christ. The Bride can ill afford to eat from the table of the enemy. The Bride must eat from the table of the Groom. Eating from His table serves to bring about healing and reconciliation. This is the very point made by Tamika N. Mathis in her book Come Back Church: The Resuscitation of the Bride of Christ. Mrs. Mathis uses her pen to beckon the Bride of Christ away from tables of destruction to the table of healing. She beckons away from the tables of division and points to the table of unity.
With that, pour a cup of coffee and get your Bible. Come sit at the table and walk with Mrs. Mathis as she unpacks deceptions accepted in the Church. Get your pen and pad and take notes as the covers are pulled off tables and harmful foods are exposed. Come with your eyes opened and ears poised to receive what is set before you as the nutrition from the groom’s table breathes into you and revives your spirit. Come back, Church, to standards of the Groom.
A Call to Civility
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.
Day-Spring Youth Programs
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.
It’s Real Personal
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.
This Day of Freedom
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.
A Strange Dichotomy
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.