Category Archives: Culture

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.

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.

My thoughts on the West Louisville Walmart…

The planned West End Walmart (Courtesy Walmart)

The planned West End Walmart (Courtesy Walmart)

Conflicted.

Most likely you are reading this and know the situation those of us in West Louisville are dealing with. Church leaders have began praying for Walmart while others have pulled out the picket signs and stood in strong protest.

Living in and knowing the lack of resources in our community, I have been torn about this issue. I have been surprised that many have taken this as a holy war considering that Walmart is no hero in my opinion.

I don’t want to paint them as being the evil empire that has come to suck the resources of the community dry. But I also don’t want to act blind towards the reality that they are a business that some find having questionable ethics. You have to be curious when one business produces 4 of the countries ten richest people(Sam Walton’s 4 children, if their money was put together it would be worth almost twice of Bill Gates). All of that money within one family. One last name. That alone shows a type of power that is scary.

When considering Walmart, let’s begin with the Good.

*In 2013 Walmart and it’s foundation gave 1.3 Billion dollars in cash and kind contributions around the world.

*They bring multiple products at the lowest cost to people in one facility.

*The constructing of a Walmart can help bring other businesses into an area because of the guaranteed traffic that will coincide with it.

*With a Walmart will inevitably be plenty of jobs. Not just jobs for people who will work directly for Walmart but as well companies that Walmart partners with.

So what is the bad with Walmart?

*Yes, Walmart will bring plenty of Jobs but they have been blasted in the past for primarily having low wages for their employees.

*Lowering the Cost has been noted as also lowering the quality.

*Walmart has been noted to kill local businesses in the community.

(I understand that there is plenty that could be added to both of those lists for positive and negative impacts a Walmart can make in a community.)

My Thoughts
With all of this in play, I struggle to say that I fully endorse the local Walmart that will go up in West Louisville. Living in West Louisville, I know that we don’t have many businesses. We don’t have many resources within arms reach. To go shopping, if Walgreens doesn’t have it, we have to drive to Indiana to get what we want. That’s frustrating and very inconvenient. To have a Walmart close would help in those extents. But there are costs that leave me very concerned.

My hope for our community is to see more businesses come and to see more entrepreneurs thriving. I’d love to see better jobs within arms reach that aren’t temp jobs on the Riverport. I’d love to see local businesses owned and operated by people living locally and hiring locally with the intent on being a healthy business for the community. That dream is one that Walmart would not be able to coexist with.

I fear that Walmart will just add to the problem that our community continues to deal with, money and resources being outsourced to companies that won’t do a single thing to help West Louisville. I hope I am wrong but that is my fear.

Why Ale 8?

screen-shot-2011-10-28-at-6_07_17-am.pngI like Ale 8.

I drink it a lot.

My wedding rehearsal dinner was Ale 8 themed. My blog references Ale 8. For one of our baby announcements we used Ale 8. So do you get the picture? I like it.

But the question you and even I am wondering is why?

Is it the taste? To be honest, the taste is good but even I know and agree that it is an acquired taste.

Is it because I like carbonated drinks? I really don’t. My preference would be for a tea or non-carbonated drink.

Is it because of any other materialistic feature of Ale 8? Nope.

Multifaceted Answer

I used to love McDonalds. I used to love Walmart. In time though I realized that I loved them only because they are cheap. But what I didn’t think through was that the price I was paying was the value of the product. They are cheap firstly because the products many times aren’t good. Secondly, they are cheap because they undershoot their competitors which ends in eventually family owned businesses being closed down.

After a while I realized how horrible this was and the need to support local businesses. There were several books that helped give clarity to me. One being “Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life” by Robert Lupton.

My Reasoning

Ale 8 is a family owned business that employs Kentucky people and takes good care of its employees. When you spend a dollar on Ale 8 compared to Coca Cola or Sprite, it’s going to support Kentucky families and Kentucky companies. But if you buy from big corporations, the money goes to CEO’s, and all kinds of random businesses they use that are whatever is cheapest.

So Firstly, I support Local Businesses.

My second reason is because I have great memories from my childhood that involve Ale 8. It is a drink that is common all over Eastern Kentucky. When I would go to Eastern Kentucky to see my grandfather and the area he was a Pastor at, I would always see Ale 8 signage and drink machines. It reminds me of being in Eastern Kentucky as a child.

But lastly, it’s because I like the under dog.

It’s a ginger ale drink that can only(for the most part) be bought in my state. It’s still served in a green glass bottle.

I like hole-in-the-wall restaurants. If a team seems inferior, I will most likely cheer for them. This is just who I am. So with all of that being said, this seldom known ginger ale drink that I can’t find when I drive ten minutes into Indiana has my affection. It’s the underdog.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why I like Ale 8.

All Our Children

My wife as a little girl.

My wife as a little girl.

I have always tried to look at life through a lens of preparing the way for the future. I want to serve God to the fullest but in the same token, I want to see those who come after me to do greater things than I ever did.

My blog, my writings, so many things that I spend time doing are really for the benefit of my wife and children. I want them to have my writings long after I am gone or if they just want to step inside of my mind for a bit. I want to equip them well to make a great change for future generations.

10612801_4582630100131_5332414023468100520_n[1]There was a song I used to listen to while I was in High School. It was called History Maker and it was by a Christian band called Deliriou5. The song really set my mind towards making a difference with my life. Not living my life with the typical American Dream but instead having the hope and the vision to become a missionary or minister for God’s kingdom. I was in high school with the determination that my life would be lived to serve and love others towards the Kingdom of God. This is my hope for my children.

Life throws curve balls. We all sin and make horrible decisions at times. But regardless, I really believe that the Christian life, when lived out in the way described by Jesus, is a radical unexplainable but beautiful life. It doesn’t compromise for the sake of comfort and ease. It brings with it tons of sacrifice. But it is beautiful and well worth it.

Photo 143For all of my sons and daughters(adopted, biological or anyone who comes along the way), I want to use my life to help them see what they can do for the kingdom of God. I want them to know that they could live to grow up as missionaries and ministers. They could live their lives on the brink of excitement and what some deem as crazy by having their minds set on a cause for God.

I have seen that many fathers go through this. Of course Solomon wrote a large book to his children, Proverbs. As well though there have been other great books by fathers to their children.

1483275_3665745338585_1468255940_n[1]I think a lot of it is that, as a parent, you want to do everything possible to see your child one notch higher on the ladder (whatever your ladder may be) then you ever make it to. You want to see them build off what you do, not tear it down or completely walk away from it.

The difficult reality for many is that there are plenty of ministers who will not have children who walk with the Lord. It’s a tough reality. ‘Raise the children in the way they should go, when they are old they won’t depart from it’ is not a promise but a principle. Maybe they won’t go in the direction of righteousness and instead seek to live life differently. As one who believes in a sovereign God, if that happens, it happens. I have no control. I don’t know what will happen with my kids. But I love them and want great things for them. I want them to take what my wife and I have done and to do way more for God. But if they don’t desire to have anything to do with God, then that’s their decision. It will hurt of course. I would be lying to act as if it won’t, but that’s the reality of a fallen world.

So that leads me to a new series I will be doing with my blog. Letters to my sons and Letters to my daughters.

They will be letters on certain topics that I feel it’s important to guide them in. I will not have an end date to this and may be writing on this until my grave.

And these are letters that I will attach with other handwritten letters for them to have. These are public but my children will receive private letters as well.

So this is the intro to the Letters to my children series.

Goals For 2015 (includes Book List)

Wow. 2015.

Well, there are many things that I always want to do every year. But in the same token I always know that it seems those things don’t all happen.

I have decided to make a list of a couple things I am hoping for 2015.

1) Improve in my walk with God. 
How this will happen:
-Spending more time in prayer.
-Spending more time in God’s word.
-Reading more about God.
-Serve others more.

2) Improve as a husband.
How this will happen:
-Pray for my wife daily.
-Pray with just my wife daily.
-Serve my wife daily.
-Listen to my wife daily.
-Date my wife better then 2014.
-Read on marriage.

3) Improve as a father.
How this will happen:
-Pray for my children daily.
-Pray with my children daily.
-Listen to my children daily.
-Seek individual time with my children.

4) Improve as a leader.
How this will happen:
-Pray that God would shape me and give me opportunities.
-Pray for my people daily.
-Spend more time with my church family.
-Listen to those in our community well.
-Serve our members well.
-Study the word more intently.

5) Improve as a writer.
How this will happen:
-Write More.
-Read More.
-Find my areas that need growth.
-Spend more time getting critiqued and guided with more experienced and adapt writers.
-Figure out my lane and stay within it.
Material Goals:
-Buy a minivan for my family of 6.
-Finish our basement.
-Reconstruct the shed.

With all of this I felt the need to include a book list. These are books I would like to read for 2015. Others may come but these have to be a priority.

(Sorry the Book List looks a little chaotic.)

Here are books I want to finish:

Church Elders: How to Sheph... Church Elders: How to Shepherd God’s People Like Jesus
by Jeramie Rinne
Letters to a Birmingham Jai... Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Bryan Loritts (Editor)
The Heart of the Cross The Heart of the Cross
by James Montgomery Boice
What Is a Healthy Church Member?
title

author

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
title

author

Being a Dad Who Leads Being a Dad Who Leads
by John MacArthur

And here are a list of Books I plan on tackling in 2015.(I will add some as time goes)

Here are some for theological and spiritual growth:

Mere Christianity Mere Christianity
by C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce The Great Divorce
by C.S. Lewis
Knowing God Knowing God
by J.I. Packer
Prayer: Experiencing Awe an... Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
by Timothy Keller
The Cross of Christ The Cross of Christ
by John R.W. Stott,
Strange Fire: The Danger of... Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship
by John MacArthur
Orthodoxy Orthodoxy
by G.K. Chesterton

For my Marriage:

This Momentary Marriage: A ... This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence
by John Piper
Catching Foxes: A Gospel-Gu... Catching Foxes: A Gospel-Guided Journey to Marriage
by John Henderson

For my Parenting(Finish being a dad who leads by John Macarthur):

Stepparent to Stepparent: A... Stepparent to Stepparent: Answers to Fifty Common Questions Stepparents Ask
by Margaret Smith-Broersma

For my writing:

The Writing Life The Writing Life
by Annie Dillard
Bird by Bird: Some Instruct... Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott

Here are some general reads(secular)

Change Anything: The New Sc... Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success
by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
by Peter Matthiessen,
Bud, Not Buddy Bud, Not Buddy
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area
title

author

The Anatomy of Peace: Resol... The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict
by Arbinger Institute
Lady Sings the Blues
title

author

The History of Jazz
title

author

Why I could never be a Politician…

Wife and I chillin on the couch, watching a little TV. Typical Political Ad comes on.

“(Politician A) is the devil”.

Next commercial:

“I, (Politician A), am not the devil. (Politician B) is the devil and they want you to be poorer then you already are.”

Following Commercial:

“I, (Politician B), am not the devil. I enjoy doing (cultural activity relevant to local region). (Politician A) wants to make it illegal to do (Previous cultural activity).”

After this made several rounds on the TV, wife and I look at each other in disgust at another ugly campaign season where Gossip and Slander become paid TV commercial time slots.

I began to think, what if I was to run for an office? How would that turn out…

Welp,

I know I would not win. Here is why:

* My campaign ads would most likely have nothing to do with my competitor. What should stick out about me is not another’s weaknesses but my policies and stances as a person. Why promote someone’s weaknesses instead of your strengths?

* I would shy away from pressing Party Affiliations and stand firm on the positions I stand for. I understand why we have a two party system but some people gotta act like Frozen and LET IT GO. Just because someone is a Democrat or Republican isn’t good enough reason to vote for them. Find out who they are and what they stand for.

* I’d use a portion of the campaign Ad money to go towards something positive (Charity, Nonprofit instead of running hate filled commercials). Why use all of that money and blow it for TV commercials. Show the rationale of utilizing that money to do something good in this world.

* I’d encourage my campaigners to really try to not litter neighborhoods with my ads. Crazy when people are saying they want to help the environment when they are in office and in the process try to destroy it.

* I’d try to tell the truth. If someone asks if they will get this or that wish that I know won’t be able to happen, I’ll break the news to them. “I’m a politician, not a genie.”

Back to reality, wife and I back in our living room chilling on the couch. We know that things will probably stay how they are with all of this. Every couple of years, we’ll see some new and some old politicians playing the same old game. It’s nice to dream though.