When the woke people go back to sleep…

When the woke people go back to sleep

Michelle Alexander’s, “The New Jim Crow”.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’, “Between the World and Me”.

Bryan Stevenson’s, “Just Mercy”.

All books that any woke person should have in their library. And this is just a sampling of the many books (not including music and film) that detail socially conscious issues.

It seems to be “in” to be woke in today’s world. It’s a cool thing.

It’s interesting to see the increasing popularity of socially conscious American’s. With the emergence of the presidency of Donald Trump and the unjust deaths of Trayvon Martin and many other African American’s, there has emerged a strong voice of American’s who desire to acknowledge racial injustice.

With such a strong interest in the cause for justice though, I’ve become more and more concerned with how much of this is tied to our current political climate. When Donald Trump is no longer president and the buzz around racial discrimination dies down in certain circles, what will happen with the folks who are willing to march and protest? What will happen when the woke people go back to sleep?

Will this for many people, just be a fad? Will this be chalked up to simply a phase in people’s lives when they knew a couple of people of color and desired to fight the system, only years later to contribute to the same old system that continues to rip apart the African American community?

I don’t know. I’m only thinking through this because I’ve noticed it’s become increasingly common to want to discuss the injustice of mass incarceration. Or to complain about gentrification (which half of us are inadvertently contributing to). Or to be able to elaborate on red lining. But when these issues lose their popularity, when it’s no longer trending, folks are still going to be dealing with injustice’s that are happening in their communities. The poor will still be in need. Systems that have oppressed African American’s for centuries will still be oppressing to some sort of degree.

I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade or discourage anyone from desiring to fight injustice. I worry though that we’ll allow the suffering of entire people groups to become the badge of honor we wear momentarily to make us feel good about ourselves. African American men are being incarcerated at alarming rates and we should be ashamed if we leverage this injustice to support our political or religious agenda.

My sphere is primarily in the church. What kind of role will we have played in all of this? Will our best case scenario be that we held conferences and spouted disdain for politicians that have no regard for the issues that hit home for us? Will we have tweeted against racism so much that people will look to us as the know it all on racial issues? Will we have expressed enough anger over immigration laws on facebook that we get to sit on a panel with other Christians who see the foreigner in scripture not as an enemy? Not that any of that is bad. But shouldn’t the church play a much larger role?

In 20 years I’ll be in my mid-50’s. I expect to live in a society that still marginalizes minorities. I hope not to. I hope to see massive progress. But after 400 years of slavery, the Jim and Jane Crow South and the continual degradation of people of color, I expect there to still be a hostile racial climate. I hope that in time though that many of the concerns raised by the books mentioned will be seen and progress will have been made. While I know some will go back to sleep, I’m hopeful that many of those who have woken will stay awake and try to wake other’s who can bring more change for the generations to come.


5 Action Steps Churches Can Make to Begin Working Towards Racial Justice

racial justice image 2•The Bride of Christ is a multi-ethnic community of people from all places.
• God is a just God. He hates injustice. He hates to see his people being marginalized.
• God, who created the races, loves and enjoys the diversity of the world he created. It reflects the diversity found in him (the trinity).
• As the bride of Christ, the church has a responsibility to stand for racial justice.

If we can agree with all of the above statements, why is it then that the church historically has struggled to stand on the right side of racial justice? There have been some who have stood against racism within the church but there has been a strong majority that has stood for racism. When looking into the history of racism in the US, many times a large contingent of the church has supported institutions like slavery, segregation and Jim Crow laws that obviously violate the belief that every man is created in God’s image and has intrinsic value.

Obviously we live in a different world then the previous 100 years. But the idea that we live in a post-racial America is both foolish and scary. It’s scary because many folks believe that there are no leftover stains in our country from previous institutions that tore apart our country.

The Church has great opportunities ahead of her. We can stand against racism. We can stand for truth and justice. The question though that most of us ask is how can we do that and what will that look like in our context. I’m not going to provide a “6 steps to being a woke church” piece that if you follow these steps you will be woke. But this is more so a list of action steps your church can take to start changing your paradigm.

Maybe you’re already a multi-ethnic church and you are wanting to be better at being engaged on these issues. Or you’re a upper class white church in Manhattan. Or even a white church in Wisconsin. Whatever the case, the hope is to see the members of your church becoming more aware of where God’s heart is on these issues.

1. Read God’s word.

I am unapologetically in love with the word of God. I love reading and studying it. It brings me joy to learn more about it. It is refreshing to see consistently as I read it how God consistently stands for the oppressed and on the side of justice. And I’m not specifically saying 1 or 2 verses. Read the books of the law. Read the prophets. Read Psalms. Read Proverbs. Read the Gospels. Read the Epistles. The entire bible has woven in it a consistent truth of God’s love for justice. He loves the people in the margins. He hates injustice and especially racial injustice. He hates partiality.

As you read his word more and more, you’ll see that this isn’t simply a theme that politically minded people try to hijack for their agendas. God’s character is for justice. And when we understand that more, it helps us deal with people who are pushing their own agendas. Read God’s word!

2. Pray for your church and pray for the racial injustices in YOUR community.

Prayer is not simply a call to fall before God. Ask him to show you the injustices in your community. Ask him to give you ears to hear and eyes to see how people are suffering. Pray for your heart not to be closed. Your community has specific situations and stories of people who have been dealing with injustice. Pray for them.

As well, pray for your church. Pray and ask God how you can intercede for these people. Pray and ask God what your church can do in this community. Pray and ask God to be at work in the hearts of your congregation on how your church can glorify God with it’s love for it’s neighbors.

3. LEARN from the minorities in your church and/or community on what injustices they face or see.

Seek out the minorities in your congregation. Go and ask to hear what ways they have felt or seen discrimination in your community and/or church. These may not be easy conversations but ask what has happened in your church and ask them what can be done to help these issues.

As well, talk to minorities in your community. Ask them what they have experienced in the past in your community and what injustices are currently happening in the community. As well, ask what ways the church could bring change in these areas. Everyone will have different opinions but by simply asking, it shows that you care about them and that they matter. The key word here is LEARN. Be a learner.

4. Preach against injustice.

If you are or are not a pastor, this applies to you. Preach against injustice. If you’re a preacher, like I said above, read the word! As you read the word, you’ll see much of what God says about injustice. Learn about the injustices of the community and challenge the people to stand with the church against injustice.

If you’re not a pastor, you can still use your influence. Talk to others. If you facebook, tweet or whatever you can use that platform. Regardless, the point isn’t about your platform. It’s about informing others on what you’re learning and helping see conversations happening more often.

5. Just Do Something. Start a small group. Host a conference. Have a panel discussion.
In the words of the homie, Kevin Deyoung, Just Do Something.

Start a small group of people at your church that are going to meet and talk about a book. Maybe it’s The Next Evangelicalism by Soong Chan Rah. Or Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans. Whatever it is, read it and discuss it as a group and how it applies to your community. Maybe if you’re a all white church intentionally invite a pastor of an African American church to come and lead the discussion with your people.

Or you could host a mini-conference.

Or you could have a Sunday night panel discussion. Whatever it is you decide, just do something.

Just a start…
While this is helpful, I know that this is just a nudge into helping your church become more aware of racial issues.

Please use this as a spring board. This may not give you all the answers but this will help you to get started as a church in engaging racial issues.


Murders at the Juice Bowl, What’s the Church to do?

Downtown via:Courier JournalOn Thanksgiving day, Shawnee Park is known to be a place of celebration. The Juice Bowl is an event that has a long history of the community coming together to watch some football and to have a good, family friendly time. It’s always been a place of fun and excitement that your family would go to prior to having thanksgiving dinner.

November 24th 2016, the Juice Bowl brought national attention because of an incident that really had nothing to do with the Juice Bowl. An incident escalated that resulted in 7 people being shot, and 2 of those being murdered within the park. The incident though unrelated to the Juice Bowl tainted the name of the Juice Bowl on a national stage.

I love the outdoors. Living right near Shawnee Park is amazing for me because the park is huge and absolutely beautiful. Living outside of the west end for most of my life, taught me a false perception of Shawnee Park. I always assumed it to be a place of murder, violence and hate. Since living in west Louisville, I have come to know it as a beautiful, tranquil place within the city of Louisville. Amazing open fields, Baseball fields, basketball courts and an amazing loop that can be driven or ran to see some of the beauty that the park has to offer.

On this day though, Shawnee Park became known once againto be a place of violence. And with all of the murder and violence our city has seen this year, the church needs to ask ourselves what can we do?

I am writing an appeal to Christians, churches and specifically pastors.

Our community needs us.

They don’t need us to be on the television making our names known. They don’t need us to hijack the deaths of others to build our own platforms and legacies. They need to know that we are here to seek to see REAL change. They want to know that the gospel we preach on Sundays from the pulpits brings real change. They want to know that this Jesus who preached radical teachings about selling all we have and giving to the poor, turning the other cheek and loving our neighbors as ourselves, is not something isolated to the other neighborhoods in the city, but applies in all neighborhoods.

They want to know that the church can fill the void that is seen by seeking to belong. So many people are seeking to belong. They are seeking to find that belonging through membership in gangs, masons, social clubs and biker gangs. But they don’t know if joining a church will fill that void of belonging. They don’t know if they are seeing that from the church. People joining churches and finding true family. Finding real community.

The question we have to ask ourselves though is, do we really believe that? Do we believe that the church is what people are searching for when they seek to belong to something? When we watch movies like Goodfellas and see the closeness that these guys had for each other and for the family, do we believe that the church can be that close? We should. The Bible says that we have been given the keys to the kingdom. We have Jesus who prays on our behalf. We have the Holy Spirit indwelling all believers. We have angels, God’s warriors working on God’s behalf. The Church is well equipped. And we are a part of something as great as anyone can imagine. Being on the front lines of the work of the Kingdom of God.

Our city needs to see the love that the Bible says that we have for one another. The city needs to see the amount of heart ache and compassion that we have on others. Living in communities that live and die by the bullet, we need to show that we are willing to turn the other cheek. The city needs us badly. And our prayer must be that in the moments that people turn to us for answers, that they will see the active Gospel that we preach. They will feel the love that the bible says we have for one another. They will realize that all of the searching for community in gangs, clubs and other avenues is found better and more real in the church, then any where else.

I am devastated by the violence that our city continues to act on. I am crushed to think of the bodies of teenage brothers who were dumped down the street from me. I am torn up to think of the baby girl shot dead a block from me. And once again, I am hurt to see the lives taken at my favorite park in the world.

I do believe though with all of the violence that there is a groaning that is going on inside of our community. A groaning for more. And I believe that the church has what our community is crying out for.

What to Do About Louisville’s Murder Rate

Downtown via:Courier JournalAs 2015 comes to a close, we will take time to remember all that the Lord has done this year. We will remember the mountain tops as well as the valleys.

There is one aspect of 2015 that I am thankful to say goodbye to though, and that is the most violent and murderous year the city of Louisville has seen in decades.

81 people have been murdered this year (over half are unsolved) at the time I am writing this. 81 people. Stop and think about that. 81 people who should have lived to see 2016 but because of someone’s decisions, they are no longer here.

As Christians, we should not just shrug our shoulders and hope that “at least it’s not our kids or family”. The biggest thing we can do is something that every Christian can do, Pray.

Why Prayer?

I already hear the haters. People are quick to down play the power of prayer. But in the words of a great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, “… [The] power of prayer can never be overrated.… If a man can but pray he can do anything. He who knows how to overcome with God in prayer has Heaven and earth at his disposal.”

Prayer is powerful!

In the same token though, I remember the words of Frederick Douglass when he desired freedom from the bondage of slavery. He said, “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” What the world wants to see is not just Christians who will say that they are praying for this or that person. That comes across as a cop-out for why we as Christians don’t want to be involved. We need to BE praying and also BE proactive with seeking to find solutions to this violence.

I am calling on all Christians in Louisville, Kentucky to pray for our city.

Pray for the families of those who have been murdered. The sons and daughters who will not have a mother or father. The parents who never got to see their child graduate high school and have to endure the nightmare of any parent, burying a child.

Pray for us who are missing on 81 gifted citizens of Louisville who could have been the next Councilwoman, Mayor, Pastors or teachers in our communities. We are missing out by not having these people here.

Pray for our leaders. These are trying times. We know that not all leaders have the common good of the community as their best interest but thankfully our city does have a lot of good leaders who want to see these numbers decrease, to see these murders solved and to see justice served. We gotta pray for our leaders that they would be given wisdom on how to deal with these problems instead of just having a bunch of meetings. We gotta pray that God would show them how to reach those most being influenced towards gun violence.

Pray for those who are doing the killing. We are all created in God’s image. Each one of us are tied together through our creator because we are created in his image. When someone easily and casually takes the life of another, they are becoming numb to the value of an image bearer. God created the person who was killed and the killer. The killer needs to know that God loves them and that he brings hope to the hopeless. He can change a heart of stone. He is a God who saves sinners, me being the worst of all.

Let our actions stem from our prayers. Let’s pray without ceasing by getting up and praying as we walk into our community. Let’s pray as we seek to mentor youth in our communities. Let’s pray as we strategize ways to eliminate the drug epidemic in our city. Let’s pray as we seek to have camera’s put in our alleys. Let’s pray as we seek to eliminate hazardous materials being shipped and sold in our community where children are playing in the streets. Let’s pray as we begin to hold parents accountable for their kids’ actions on our buses. Let’s pray as we demonstrate to gang members how retaliating with violence is going to affect their little brothers, little sisters and their future children.

As for now

Last night, as I was about to fall asleep, I heard the noises I dread hearing but hear daily, “pop pop pop”. After checking to see that all my family was safe, I thought about this blog post. I realized that one of the few things that I can do about all of this madness is the most powerful thing that I can do, that is pray.

Dear Katina Powell

Dear Katina Powell,

I am writing you an open letter for a simple reason. Because I want you to know who you are. I have seen the quotes and the different things you have said in your book Breaking Cardinal Rules. I know all about the situation that is going on with the University of Louisville, yet I won’t be addressing that right here. I simply want to write a letter to you.

You have mentioned unashamedly that you sent your daughters to strip and prostitute themselves. As well you have mentioned that you would go  to church on Sunday afterwards.

Most people read those things and were stunned. I read those things though and wanted to write you this letter to tell you something that is simple and true; You are valued and loved!

Your value is not found in your body. It is not found in your ability to pleasure someone sexually. It’s not even found in your looks or your ability to hustle. No, your value is deeper and intrinsic.

You have value because the God of this universe who created the sun, moon and stars created YOU in his very image! He spent time creating every detail of your being.

But not only did he create you with deep value, he loves and cherishes you. And his love for you is amazing because it’s not a love that is based on your circumstances or what you do for him. His love has no condition to it. It is a great love that swallows you up completely as you are.

That is amazing, isn’t it? God loves us in spite of our selves.

I write this to you because seeing the news and reading the stories about you and the other ladies who are considered escorts, are all loved and cherished by God. Each of you are special. And I want you to know that as the book has come out and it’s apparent that you were in need of money, which means you may be searching for something in your life, God is in the business of giving hope to the hopeless.

He saved me, a sinner from a life outside of him. My life of sin deserved to be punished. I was a wicked and evil person who deserved judgment for my life of sin. But he had shown grace on me. I found out that he loved me so much that he sacrificed his only son Jesus, to die a horrible death THAT I DESERVED! The cross was shaped for me and I deserved it. It should have been me suffering eternal death because I am the one who sinned. But Jesus died in my place! That is true love.

Now when God looks at my life, he sees the life of Jesus. That is GRACE. Getting something I didn’t deserve. Jesus took my penalty. Now I can live freely serving him. I am not chained down by sin any longer but I battle my sin. I learn to live my life in repentance. Repent means to turn away from(Go in opposite direction).

Katina, I don’t know you and I can’t assume to. You have had circumstances in your life that have brought you to where you are today. But what I do know is that Jesus does offer hope to new life. He sat daily and talked with all sinners like you and me. I wanna share a last story that I really believe encompasses how we have to come to God.

This is from the Bible. Luke 7:36-50

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

No matter our circumstance, God is a God who is ready to forgive and to give us new life that is in him. Katina, I pray that as I write these words, you would realize the hope in the Good news of Jesus. He can save you and give you a new life. A new slate. A new start.

That happens when you give your life to him. I hope and pray that this public letter makes it to you. I pray that this is received in love. I pray that you and the ladies you work with come to know the greatest lover of all. And I pray that like this woman and millions of others of people, you’d find new life in Jesus Christ.

God bless you Katina,
Mark Singleton

There are some great God honoring programs that reach in the adult entertainment business. One of them in Louisville is Scarlet Hope.

As well, if you want to follow Jesus, connect with a good, bible teaching church in your area. If you need help finding one, please message my wife and I and we would love to help you find that. In West Louisville there is a good one called New Breed Church that meets in Shawnee High School.

When Not Helping Hurts

10398604_75131031835_8299277_n[1]Listen, I am like you. I wanna help the poor. I wanna help the Urban poor specifically.

But I also read “When Helping Hurts” and “Toxic Charity”. While I loved those books and was extremely challenged after reading them, I felt somewhat how you feel afterwards.

1. I felt discouraged about the amount of work I have put into serving the poor.

And I also felt

2. Confused about the direction I should go now in my ministry, not desiring to have a toxic or hurtful ministry.

Listen friend, this is a short but sweet call to some of us who needed a kick in the butt from those books but also for grace that we need to continue on after we have found out that we weren’t doing it right.

1. I like you felt discouraged about thinking through on whether or not my past ministries among the poor had been hurtful or wasteful. When I say discouraged, I’m talking about a discouragement that kept me from wanting to strategize ever again on this stuff thinking that I was gonna screw up others lives.

But God has done a mighty work. In time of doing Urban ministry for some years and learning these lessons on the ground, I have submitted my past work under the hand of a sovereign God who works IN SPITE of us. I felt like I was the worst for a while. I was down and out. But God revealed to me through his scriptures that he has ultimate control and has had it the whole time.

The work done in the past he may have used to impact many people in ways I will never know until heaven. I don’t need to be discouraged about the things done in the past. While I learn my lesson in realizing that there are better ways to do it, I also acknowledge that there is a sovereign God who may have used those things for his glory, and I can peacefully move forward to a new stage of ministry.

2. Confused on where I should go now in my ministry.

I HATE screwing things up. There is a lot of psychology to all of that, but my initial reaction to WHH/TC was nothing. Doing nothing. Not wanting to mess up so not doing anything.

In time I have realized that that is the wrong reaction to all of this. Don’t be afraid to work among the poor. Don’t be afraid to reach out within an Urban community. Just do it with care. Take all that you have learned in thinking through these tough questions of concern for the poor, and let your work be intentional and well thought out. But by no means, Don’t quit working.

I have thoroughly enjoyed ministering within Urban communities. I have learned a million things and screwed up a million times, but as well, I have noticed how simply my being there can be good for the community. Don’t be discouraged but be ENCOURAGED that Gods hand may have worked in spite of strategy mistakes you made in the past but also in that you have learned from those mistakes and can minister in a more effective way.

Disclaimer: I LOVE the books, When Helping Hurts and Toxic Charity. PLEASE read both. Just afterwards, consider this article.

An apology of sorts…

Well, let me put it to you like this…

Things have been hectic. I’m sorry for you not seeing me lately. 😦

But I’m back! 🙂

We just welcomed our 4th child into this world. And there have been a lot of life shifts going on. Everything from preparing to go back to school, to ministry stuff,  and to other endeavors.

I didn’t have the $mulah$ to re-up my website domain. Because of that, I haven’t been able to write on here. But I’m back now. And with a little budgeting I will bring my domain back.

With coming back, there will be some changes made. So be ready young world, I’ll be back on my blogging game.