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.[1] 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.

[1] https://chicago.suntimes.com/crime/2020/6/20/21297470/chicago-fathers-day-weekend-shootings-homicide-gun-violence-june-19-22-104-shot?fbclid=IwAR3RwUxg1-f7XxrBSjo_NQv6itJKnPefAOdlMTRlTKB3V_5KlVc7JAxpHEQ

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] Even while her venom for churches is spewed Blacks are being murdered in Chicago left and right.[5] 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.[6] 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.


[1] http://salonedaily.com/2020/05/30/shocking-late-george-floyd-his-killer-derek-chauvin-were-co-workers-at-a-club/

[2] http://archive.bluelivesmatter.blue/truth-behind-freddie-gray/

[3] https://chamspage.blogspot.com/2015/11/2015-baltimore-city-homicidesmurders.html

[4] https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/05/24/chicago-mayor-launches-police-raid-shut-down-black-church/

[5] https://graphics.suntimes.com/homicides/

[6] https://killedbypolice.net/kbp2020/

The Simplicity of Unity

Today is a day used to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There is no argument against his fight for civil liberties and that those liberties included the right of Blacks to be provided equal rights in every aspect of society. Among those rights was the right for Blacks to attend schools of their choice. This is to say that Dr. King fought against the ideology of Jim Crow. It was a tough fight, yet it was a fight worth fighting.

Dr. King was also laden with dreams. In one of his speeches, he expressed his dream of his children playing freely with White children. Said differently, King had a dream of unity. He had a dream that all men would walk side-by-side with the matter of ethnicity being non-existent. King’s dream led him to work for a nation more concerned with the content of one’s character rather than the complexion of one’s skin. And, in many cases the dream of King came to pass and, in some instances, there remains fighting for unity.

I, too, have a dream. My dream is much like that of Dr. King. My dream is a simple unification of people. Like King, I am sick and tired of racist activity and rhetoric that seeks only to cause unnecessary divides. I am weary of constant bickering of idiosyncratic stereotypical ideologies that seek only to further divide a people. Well, I have had enough. I have a dream and that dream starts with the Church taking its proper stand in this conversation. My dream is simple. My dream requires only that the people of God love each other, and that love can only unify. It cannot divide.

Psalm 133 paints a beautiful portrait of unity. Verse one states, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” It is good and it is pleasant for those of us that call in the Name of Jesus to have the lifestyle of godliness. That brotherhood is not concerned with ethnicity. It is not concerned with nationality. It is only concerned with the individual. Love seeks only to build. It does not seek to tear apart. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for the Church to rid itself of racist rancor and collect the words of life. Those words of life serve only to heal and reconcile. This is the work of the Christian – reconciliation.

Unity is a very simple matter. It means treating others the way you want to be treated. It means standing side-by-side with your brother in the good times and the bad times. The simplicity of unity is expressed in one simple word; love. So, let us love one another. Not because of ethnicity or other superficial means. Let us love one another, starting from the pulpit, as Christ loved us. Only then can the simplicity of unity be had. Please, Church, let us love. That is my dream.

 

 

 

Enough Divisiveness

I admit, in my lifetime I have not seen this country so divided. I lived through a portion of segregation and saw the end of Jim Crow. I recall when Martin Luther King was assassinated and can remember motorcycle gangs roaring down the streets of Baltimore following the assassination. Yet, somehow this country largely pulled together to stand for right. Petty differences were laid aside in hope of a uniting nation. King, in part, sought to draw people together by reason of a common thread. That thread was that we were, and remain, of the same substance. That substance remains in that we are all human beings made in the image of God. Because of that there is more to bind us than to divide us.

I clearly recall the time this nation was attacked. Our towers in New York were destroyed. The Pentagon was a target and another plane went down in Pennsylvania. All of a sudden there were United States flags everywhere. The people of this land began to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. A return to God began to be the mantra of the hour. We were all United States citizens and there would be no force to break that bond. Unfortunately, this bond of unity would not last. The ugliness of divisiveness would soon rear its ugly head. All of a sudden everyone was to blame except those perpetrating the most horrendous acts.

Now, not long after those tragic events we had an election. The election was legally won and our new President will soon take office. Yet, there are some that see reason to be divisive and call the soon to be Head of State illegitimate. Others have chosen not to attend the presidential inauguration by reason of the false rhetoric of an illegitimate election. These words and actions have only served to divide a nation that is already in the worst state of harmony that I can recall in my lifetime. Well, enough of this divisiveness already!

Frankly, the Church has not acted much better. Perhaps this is why the country is acting so untoward. It is high time the Church began to remove the ridiculous rhetoric of divisiveness and rancor and began to pull together according to the Word of God. There is no room in the House of God for division. There is much room for love. After all, men will know that we are brothers by our love. That love is not merely a purported love for God. No, it is action taken which shows that we love each other. This could mean helping a family in need of help. It may mean lending a shoulder to cry on. That love might also me demonstrated in helping to heal the hurts of the past. No matter how that love is demonstrated it serves not to divide. Instead, true love serves to unite. This is the ministry of those that love; reconciliation.

The example of love demonstrated by the Church is a love that is apt to spill into the world. Even so, the love the Church demonstrates is really a type of love provided by the Godhead. The fact is that God so loved the world that He gave His Son. The Son so loved that He gave His life. The Holy Spirit so loves that He dwells in man. Love is a reciprocal matter that has not time to entertain divisiveness. Love is not familiar with rancor. Instead, love seeks to reconcile broken people to those who have been hurt and damaged by the abomination of hate.

King was right. One’s pigmentation is not a matter that should be considered in any instance. Instead, we should look to the heart of man as God does. We live in a strong nation and ought not to be divided by the vitriolic and visceral verbiage of those that choose not love. The divisive nature of some in this country is only causing a divide that could bring about the downfall of this great nation. This is unacceptable and far from Christ-like. Enough of this divisiveness! It is time we broke the bands of this that binds us and remember the part of King’s dream that can and must be more than a dream. He looked forward to the day when we all can join together and not just sing the old Negro spiritual but actually walk in the words – Free at last, free at last. Thank God, almighty, we’re free at last!

The State of the Church

Last evening the President of the United States of America presented his sixth State of the Union address. During the address, a number of issues were raised. Some of those issues caused a collective scratching of heads with many across this great land. One such item was that the President touted financial success by reason of policies he has implemented and that the nation’s unemployment levels have steadily gone down over his tenure. Unfortunately, the only reason the unemployment levels appear to have fallen is that about ninety-three million people of fallen out of the employment picture and are not looking for work because of the lack of jobs and have exhausted all benefits. This is not to mention the fact that when the President took office the debt was about nine trillion dollars and now stands over eighteen trillion dollars.

There are many other items that can be addressed in the President’s speech however it might be more beneficial to discuss the State of the Church as the Church has had many successes over the past year. For instance, the Church is strong and growing. Despite the attacks on fundamental Christianity the Church has not folded. Instead, Christianity is beginning to stand its ground in favour of traditional Judeo-Christian values and refusing to relent to the boisterous cry of those that seek only the demise of the one entity that recognizes the one true and living God. Evangelical Christians are digging deeper into the trenches of holiness as it furthers the Great Commission.

Even so, there are problems in the Church. And problems are nothing new in the Church particular if one considers the issues Paul addressed concerning the Church at Corinth. This is evident in I Corinthians 3:3 where he states that “ye are yet carnal.” This carnality meant that the church was much like the world at large and that carnality was detrimental to the Church in a number of ways. The same is true with the Church today. There are many that cannot eat the meat of the Gospel as they are still on milk. Among many, there has been no growth so that some local bodies have become stagnant. This stagnation has led to frivolous programs called ministries which serve only to create social clubs in these Houses of Worship. These things ought not to be so.

Likewise, there has been a pulling away from the historical teaching of Christ in futile efforts to reach those presumed unreachable in traditional terms. Hence music has changed from worship to entertainment wherein in some localities it is becoming increasingly more difficult to determine if the churches are parts of the Church or clubs. This, in part, has caused a double standard with congregants wherein lives outside the local bodies are less godly and more carnal. This is to say that many of these in the Church are Sunday saints and often barely that. As such the State of the Church is weakening because the Great Commission has been changed from going to all the world and teaching the Gospel to bringing the world into the Church by compromising the Gospel.

And there are hosts of other matters in the Church that need to be addressed just as they were addressed by Paul. Schisms in the Church caused unnecessary divides just as they do today. With this, the Church needs to lay aside petty differences in order to further the Gospel while using the love of Christ to embrace each other so that the world can see the love we have one for another and be positively affected by it. This love means that there is no fornication it the Church. Lies will become a thing of the past as the truth becomes all the more paramount with the true and living God at the helm. This will result in respect for the people of God as pastors and ministers work tirelessly to hone their prophetic skill thereby pointing men to the foot of the cross.

It is absolutely true that the State of the Church is strong and that many are being brought into the fold. Likewise, there are problems that need to be addressed in that strong things, even the church, need to be maintained so that the strengths do not become weaknesses. Let us, then, lay aside the carnality which seeks only to uproot that which is holy and pick up the ways of righteousness which serves to bolster and undergird a strong a prospering Church.

Some of My Story

Here of late there has been much rhetoric against police departments. It has been said in various ways that the police have certain animus against a particular people group and that they seek to find ways to kill those for which they have no love. Often overlooked is the crime in certain areas and that crime is blamed on ideas such as unemployment and lack of education. Well, I dare say that the police are not the enemies of any community and that unemployment and lack of education are not synonymous with crime.

I know; I can already hear some naysayers debunking just the few words that show above. However in order to make my points clear I must discuss some of my story. You see I was born during a time in when Jim Crow was coming to an end. The part of Baltimore wherein I was raised was far from the best place in town and after a short marriage my parents divorced when I was in early elementary school. Yet somehow I did not fall to the pull of crime. I have no children save those from my wife and all of whom were conceived during marital bliss. Still somehow I have not been reduced to the level of a criminal and have never had a negative experience with law enforcement.

The fact of the matter is that if one does not do anything to draw the attention there is a very good chance they will not be stopped by the police. I can say this of a certainty not only personally but also professionally. I can count on one had the number of times I have been stopped by police and, surprisingly, none of those two times was in Baltimore. I was not disrespected and neither did I disrespect the police. After a couple minutes conversation the police learned that I was not a problem child and they went about their way. Moreover I can say that as a police dispatcher in Baltimore and Chesapeake, Virginia that the police are usually so busy handling calls for service that there is simply no time to pick on people merely because of skin colour.

Now, I have not always enjoyed the academic success I have. This lack of college education did not cause me to fall to crime and to raise a voice against law enforcement. Instead when the opportunity arose I found reason to better myself and to work diligently in order to obtain the education needed in order to be a success. Even more I never took a job so that I would not turn to crime nor did I study for years in academia to lift a voice of hate. Instead I worked and continue to work to pull me and mine from what could be dismal failure. This is not to say that I have had an easy life and that I enjoy a life of luxury now. Neither is the case. Yet my background does not lend reason for me to lash out against those who protect not me alone but also all those that have need of protection.

My point is that I am tired of the police bashing that has been going on in this nation. Scripture teaches that we should honour those that deserving of honour. Police officers deserve absolute honour in that they do a job that most do not want to do. They work in the face of sudden danger and death yet they uphold their oaths defending not only the defenseless but also upholding the Constitution. If the powers that be will not call for peace with the police then I will. I will stand with them because they stand for law and order. I will raise the banner of unity because a divided nation will only fall. I will say thank you to those police who work daily to prevent the chaos of an unlawful mob.
It is important to note that I have been on a number of police ride-a-longs. Some were by choice and others job related. I have seen people hurt by the hands of criminals and police work to bring some healing. And while it is true that the police are not social workers and most certainly not members of the clergy they are human beings with a love for fellow man. The era of Jim Crow is over so it is time we came out of the past. The Klu Klux Klan is no longer serving as the enforcement arm of the Democratic Party and if any members are in our police departments they are well hidden. So let us lay down the destructive banner of hate and raise the restorative banner of love in order to bridge a divide created by lies and false narratives.

Love, this is why so many work at an often thankless job in law enforcement. Love is what causes so many to put their lives on the line for the sake of other lives. Love is why Christ became incarnate in order to reconcile broken man with a loving Father. It is this love that can reconcile man with man in order to present a type of the relationship we should enjoy with our Father. With that I urge some to look at some of my story and see that there is truly no reason to bemoan those that work hard to protect us and stand with them that stand daily in harm’s way just to make sure we are not harmed.

This new year let us not allow the broken rhetoric of a few determine the fate of many. Let us bridge the gap and work side-by-side with those that work with us.

Happy New Year!