Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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.

5 Thoughts from the Oscar’s

My wife and I didn’t plan on watching the Oscar’s, but it was on and wasn’t nearly as provocative as the Grammy’s so we watched to see what was up. While watching, here are 5 thoughts I had throughout the awards show:

1) The Racial Tensions are undeniable and MUST be dealt with before next year.
I never have watched this awards show and seldom will again. It’s just not my cup of tea. While I love film and love a good, thought-provoking movie, the style of the awards show doesn’t fit me, and that’s fine. Needless to say, the racial tensions I saw throughout the night must be dealt with. Not only the fact that they are being protested outside of the arena, but as well the fact that the jokes and statements of the night seemed to degrade people of color.

From Neil Patrick Harris’ attempt to say the Oscars were “the brightest and the whitest” to Sean Penn asking for the Director’s green card. It was cringe worthy and needs to be addressed. And to top it off, the power of the movie Selma was the movie that represented the most minorities and only won for Best Song. It’s a disappointment that with the attempts to highlight many other minorities, the plight for People of Color is still lost in the background of American History.

2) I never thought I’d say it, Lady Gaga did an incredible job.
To be fair, I have not listened to much of Lady Gaga and can’t name a song. I always assume her to be crazy and outlandish. But I couldn’t believe how great of a singer she is. She did a tribute to “The Sound of Music” and honestly gave it justice with her performance.

3) John Legend and Common stole the show.
As a fan of Common, I regretfully hadn’t heard his song, “Glory”. But that performance combined with the racial tensions of the night truly stole the show. I was honestly impressed with the power of the performance. There were tears in the crowd from all sorts of people.

The difficult thing with Selma is that people attribute the time period to be so long ago that it’s beyond memory, but like Common attributed, Selma is still being played out in America through Ferguson and like John Legend said, Mass Incarceration.

4) Terrence Howard was better off not having done that little speech.
Terrence Howard is a great actor. I’ll give him his props. He’s doing his thing with Empire. He’s won his share of awards. But that speech he gave was all rough. The pauses and problem with the mic. It was rough to see. Luckily, everyone will forget about it in the next year or so as I’m sure Empire will be on deck to win some awards in Television.

5) This awards show seemed owned by 5 or 6 movies, and all seemed to have an Indie/Artsy feel to them.
I was disappointed to see that a select few movies pretty much owned every category. I love Indie, Artsy(and foreign) movies. I really do. Those are usually my favs. But as a dad and husband, my family isn’t as in to them so I don’t get to watch as many as I used to and that’s fine.

I was disappointed with the lack of diversity in the films getting consideration. I have heard people take issue with American Sniper, but if the general public liked it, I am curious why it wouldn’t be more considered for more awards. As well with Gone Girl and some other movies. It seems that these awards are held for the upper class of society. They are reserved for a select few. I guess my issue is that why isn’t the selection of films more diverse? I don’t know.

Sensationalized

We can't save ourselves and we can't jump ship.Throughout my life God has taught me lessons while in seasons.

I’ve wrestled with many desires in ministry and as well writing. My desires in and of themselves aren’t bad but to obtain these desires I have had to consistently check my heart with regards to my methods to obtaining these desires.

The seasons God has brought me through have been seasons to remind myself who has ultimate control in my life.

A lot of these seasons I have seen in my life have been centered on purpose and fulfillment. So in my ministry I have had desires to expand my platform. To have numerous people reading my writings. To be respected as a voice in certain arenas of life.

While desiring these things, God has sent me different people in my life to remind me some essential truths.

Trust God through the season.

The first one was a guy named Doug. I was living in Indianapolis, ministering among Urban youth in a job I loved so much, I always thought I’d die doing it.

While there, I wanted to be married. I wanted a wife. I wanted kids. I wanted to rush this season of singleness to become the man. Doug took me back to reality.

Doug opened his life up to me to learn about being a good dad and good husband. He didn’t give me a class. No seminar. He isn’t a guy who has sought to make much of his name. But in the same token he taught me by his example.

In that season of my singleness, he taught me the simple act of trusting God through the season I’m in. In the words of my pastor TC Taylor, “bloom where you’re planted”. This has been a big and important part of my life is learning to make the most of each season. Cherish its uniqueness and beauty. Don’t wish away its difficulties, learn from them.

Faithfulness must be the goal.

Several years later came a great brother named Jamaal Williams. Jamaal and I became great friends while he was my pastor at Forest Baptist Church. Jamaal reiterated one simple thing that has shaped my life in a huge way. Faithfulness.

The measure of success in ministry and life can be shaped by a lot of distractions that have little to do with God. We can get distracted by numbers, titles/positions, networks, recognition and other things. Our minds must shift towards being faithful to God. I’m thankful to Jamaal for shining light on this need in my life. Be faithful. Through this season of being under his leadership, this was a theme God taught me while in this season to shape my life.

Truth and Integrity honor God above sensationalism.

Another theme came while talking with a friend named Curtis, recently. While I have been getting more and more into writing and hoping to use my words to make a difference for the kingdom of God, I have been confronted with a truth about our time; the internet has brought us to becoming a very sensationalized culture. We have little regard for truth yet high regard for attention catching.

You know what I’m talking about. How many articles have you seen that are pure click bait? Think about news outlets. Satire is huge and is almost undistinguishable from legit, real news networks. You rarely see most of these articles citing sources for their information. There is rarely accountability for most of these online articles.

It’s ridiculous. Yet you’d think this would be absent within the Christian stream but as said on the Lord of the Rings, “the hearts of men are easily corrupted.”

I have noticed within many conversations being had in the Christian sphere, and especially the race conversation, there seems to be a lot of information passed to and from yet little real conversation dealing with explicit truth. I am guilty of this myself. Passing information on without confirming credibility. It happens so much and the danger is that our words begin carrying less weight and God is not honored in lying.

I have also seen this out of people who desire platforms. They will take extreme positions because they want a reaction out of others. They have little desire for a balanced approach and more desire to stir the pot.

For myself I can easily gravitate towards this position. I can easily want to sensationalize things consistently because I love reactions. But I realized that if that is my desire to gain a platform by any means necessary, then that is an idol. I need to remember the beauty and value of truth.

Honestly, there are many great Godly men and women with huge platforms. As well, there are many people who have huge platforms surrounding their consistent exaggerations with their opinions.

My heart needs to remember to value truth and seek to honor God with having an honest and balanced approach in my writing. I don’t need to sensationalize my writing by exaggerating or making my opinions overtly blatant for attention. I need to allow my opinions to be honest and as biblically sound as I can.

5 Barriers to your Writing

Have you ever wanted to become a writer but were afraid to cross into that threshold? Maybe you write some on and off but are too scared to look at yourself as a writer.

Whatever the case may be, each one of us have struggled at some point with doubts in our writing. There may be a few out there who knew they were golden from the start but the rest of us are human and need some encouragement.

Well, here are five statements that may float around in your head. This is your time to attack each of these statements and to move forward as the writer you can be.

1) “I don’t have the time.”

Obviously, different people have different schedules. Some really have a jam-packed schedule and can’t necessarily add much to it, while others may be in a season of life where they have a lot more time they can spend.

I read an interesting book on writing called the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. One thing I really got out of that book was the need for me to make time to write, if I say I want to write. If you really want to write, you have to look at your schedule and figure out what can be cut out or shifted so that you can schedule writing.

Maybe it would be good to make a realistic goal of writing a certain number of articles a week or month. But this can’t be an excuse anymore if you want to be a writer.

2) “No one will care to hear my opinion.”

Hog wash!

There has to be a point where lies like this come across your mind and you can simply throw them to the wind. Your opinion has value for one simple reason, you have value. You were created in the image of God and have intrinsic value. Your opinion does matter.

As well, know that you may be robbing people of having the benefit of reading your thoughts on whichever topic you feel led to write. Your opinion matters and is needed!

Next!

3) “My grammar and English aren’t great and I know I’ll be embarrassed.” This has been me for a while.

Sometimes we can stay in fear about the opinions of others. Here are two pieces of advice I’d give regarding these thoughts:

I. Don’t allow the fear of man to be a hurdle to create beautiful art.
II. Remember the gospel in all areas, including your writing.
Just because you don’t know the difference in a verb and adverb or tend to use their/there/they’re in the wrong circumstances, it doesn’t mean that you are less valued, loved and needed to be used by God. God prides himself in using people of all gifting’s to do great things. Many times he likes to show off by using those of us who feel weak in certain areas to do a great work.

Look at everyone he used in the scriptures. You can’t write good; Well, Moses wasn’t a good public speaker yet became the voice for God’s people when they needed a voice. You feel insecure about your grammar; think of the liars, prostitutes, murderers and other sinners God used to do his will.

2 Corinthians 12:10(emphasis added)
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Three walls down. Two more to go.

4) “I don’t know where to start.”

Grab your laptop. Or if you’re old school grab the old pen and pad.

Sit down. Start writing.

Now if you are considering blogging, wordpress is a great site that can host your blog. As well, there are many other sites that can host your blog. But whichever way you want to do it, you have to just sit down and start doing it.

5) “I don’t have any friends that are writers, I need help.”

I can understand this sentiment. It is tough and scary to start doing something that no one in your immediate circles is really doing. Writing is one of those scary things. But that is why the internet is so helpful for this. You can use social media to plugin with other writers via Twitter, facebook or other forms of it.

Maybe you are an Urban Christian writers. Well, I have just the place for you, right here! One of the big proponents to launching the Writers Table was to be a place to connect with other writers and to gain resources. Well, now you have friends that are writers.


With all of these statements defeated, you now have nothing to wait for. Every wall that you felt that was between you and becoming a writer is gone. Now go, become that writer. Enjoy the freedom to express your self with your pen or your fingertips.