Archive | July, 2013

How to Discourage Young Adults from Attending Your Church . . .

29 Jul

I know you all realized I was being ironic with the title of this post . . .

However, sometimes we older adults need to be reminded of how hard it was to be a young adult member of a congregation.  Sometimes you just wish to be taken seriously and don’t seem to find that happening . . .

And . . . I can remember some things I did as a young Christian and a young adult (I was both at the same time) that would have caused the older adults to not take me seriously.  Honestly.   

Like the time I seriously stood before our pastor’s wife, as she was pregnant with their fourth child, and stated that I believed it was irresponsible to the planet for anyone to have any more than two children.  I thought I was giving my political views.  How could I have missed the part where I was mentally stabbing her in the back.  Really!

That aside, though, I weathered my youth and so will today’s young adults.  But will they weather it within the church or as an outsider?

The first point I have found myself making a lot in recent days is that young adults, like everyone else, like to be encouraged in the good things they are doing, not discouraged about their (sometimes) obvious need for growth.

They are no different from the rest of us.  If you would find a remark discouraging if it were directed at you, so would that young adult who is facing you at the moment. 

That should not be so hard to understand (a little empathy goes a long way), but sometimes it just is.

It is far too easy for some of us older adults to assume we have a parental/scolder role in the life of every young adult we meet.  And we fail to see that we eventually cause them to stop listening to us and then, perhaps, to even leave the church to get away from us.

I must say that my pastor of my youth, and his wife, exercised remarkable graciousness in just letting my silly remarks about population control slide!!!  Sure, the pastor could have written a sermon about silly, non-Biblical thoughts that students pick up in college, but he did not.  Neither of them argued with me.  They simply didn’t respond to my remarks.  I learned later on how very ungracious my remarks had been.  But no one embarrassed me about them at the time.  I figured it all out for myself later.

My companion point to my first one is that young parents need to observe that their children are welcomed in the church!!!  That does not include overhearing nursery workers debating about who is going to get “stuck” in the nursery that night!!!

I was once headed to a major exercise at my base where I would be working outside all day, perhaps without a break.  I stopped at a local McDonalds at 6 AM to get a takeout breakfast and latte.  It was a newly remodeled facility, so I was excited to see how clean and pretty it was inside.  Until . . .

There had been a worker who had not shown up for work due to illness or something.  As I arrived, second in line, the two workers there were openly quarreling about who was going to wait on the person in front of me.  As I stood there, embarrassed, four more people joined the line behind me.  

After almost five minutes of hearing them quarrel while their customers just stood there, I looked at the two employees and said, “Let me make your life easier for you.  You don’t need to wait on me.”  I headed for the door.

The two people immediately behind me said, “Nor us” and they left, too.

Now, lest you think I just let it slide (because those employees ultimately got what they wanted–less work to do–as they are not paid bonuses for waiting on more customers), I did contact their corporate office about their behavior, offering corporate a chance to apologize.  When they did not respond, I never went back (but at least they were informed about why they lost my business).  

That business model shows pretty pointedly why people won’t come back to church if they see nursery workers quarreling about who has to be stuck in the nursery with the children.  No one wants to think that their children are a burden or that anyone feels “stuck” with them.

We need to show a loving representation of Christ in how we care for the smallest churchmembers.  It is the way to the heart of their parents!!!

Bring It: A Review of “A Step of Faith”

27 Jul


“A Step of Faith” is only available from private sellers on eBay and Amazon, but is worth seeking out.

It is the true story of Ernie and Gail Mills, who founded the Durham Rescue Mission and have run it for almost forty years.

It is a paragon of private investment, with the Mills couple turning down all federal aid due to their desire to freely preach the gospel at the mission.

The book includes numerous interviews with those whose lives have been changed or even saved by the ministry of the mission.

Ernie and Gail believe in treating homeless people and addicted people like family. That love shines through on every page.

“As you do unto the least of these, so you do unto Me . . .”

Bring It: A Review of “Raven Queen”

27 Jul


“Raven Queen” is a readable, fast-moving account of the life of Lady Jane Grey, targeted to a teen audience. Teen audience novels are often exactly right for me, at age 55.

It is more historical fiction than most novels, introducing a fictional boy named Ned whose voice alternates with Jane’s in telling the story. He is of the nobility but remains Catholic in England after King Henry VIII has outlawed most Catholic practices. Nevertheless, Ned and the staunchly Protestant Lady Jane fall in love.

As Jane is forced by her parents into a politically advantageous marriage to Guildford Dudley, then forced to reign as Queen of England for nine days, Ned’s voice remains behind the scenes, narrating the approach of the Catholic Lady Mary, coming to London to reclaim her rightful throne and to eventually execute her cousin, the former Queen Jane.

This book is a quick and entertaining summer read.


Maintenance of my Weight Loss: Life in the Real World Seven Months Later

26 Jul

Maintenance of my Weight Loss:  Life in the Real World Seven Months Later

This photo is of me, having my piece of mile-high cheesecake that I have gotten every month since embarking on my weight loss of over a hundred pounds in January 2012.

I now eat the cheesecake approximately every three weeks. But it is about the only sweet I eat. So it is the best of both worlds, motivating me to stay away from sugary substances most of the time . . .

That is where the rubber hits the road. I am now on my eighth month of maintenance after my weight loss. Maintenance will last the rest of my life, because if I decide to leave maintenance, I will regain at least some of the weight I lost.

I know myself well enough to know that is the case.

But I also am overjoyed that I am able to do this with just as much enthusiasm now as when I started in January of 2012. It just feels good to do something that is healthy for me and that allows me to move so freely now, unencumbered by extra pounds.

Praise God!

Cliqueishness and Racism

25 Jul

Our biggest sin as human beings may be desiring to control others and tell them what to do.

That may also be our biggest cover-up and self-deception, because, in doing that, we have to convince ourselves that we are not only okay, but that we are experts whose advice everyone else needs.

Except . . . if we are Christians, our theology declares that we are not okay.  In fact, that is the whole point of why Jesus came . . . to make us alive from the dead.

Anything we have learned from life in Him should make us more humble and teachable, not less so. 

So none of us can claim to be the wise man or woman to whom everyone else in Christianity must look for sage advice on every situation.  

Because we all are going to be in situations sometimes where we not only need others to help us, but where we need to listen to them and learn from them, too.

The above truths underline what is wrong with any groups that practice exclusion.

One such group is an ethnic group, often referred to as a tribe.  If I am in a tribe and am being tribal, I am acting as though my ethnic group is superior to everyone else’s ethnic group.  I am acting as though my group possesses every possible skill that is in existence and has no need for those other tribes at all. 

That is the basis for racism.  Assuming that my tribe (in my case, Caucasians) was created by God to be independent of all other ethnic groups and is perfectly capable of surviving without them.

The Bible shows quite a different picture.  The first century church was clearly made up of many ethnic groups.  Paul even gives names and ethnicities of specific people, which underlines this fact.  And first century teaching clearly pointed out that the church is a body of many parts, all of which have need of one another.

Cliques are a subset within tribes.  A clique is a group that is formed with the express purpose of allowing people to feel special about belonging to that group when others do not.  It is exclusionary by definition.  

There are tons of cliques in middle school but not everyone grows up and leaves them behind.  Every once in a while, there will still be a clique around in adulthood. 

Cliques exercise control by having one or more leaders at the top who more or less dictate to everyone else what they can say or do.  Sometimes the leaders even try to control how their underlings think and feel.  

Remember our greatest sin as humans is desiring to control others and tell them what to do. Clique leaders exemplify this.

Clique members are kept in line by being reminded, explicitly or not, that they are only allowed to belong to the clique and to feel special  if they toe the party line, doing and saying what their leaders want.

Human beings exercising control over each other . . .

Sometimes racism can use the techniques of cliqueishness to control others.  This is subtle when it happens.  

A group, perhaps a political group or even a church, will include members of other races but will put implied conditions on participation.  

“You are only allowed here as long as you toe our party line, including our beliefs on race.  You have to stay in your place and act really grateful that we Caucasians are allowing you a place at the table.”

There is no true Biblical equality there.

The leaders of such a group will, by their actions, show that they still believe that Caucasians are a superior race that really doesn’t need the input of any other ethnic groups.  They will act as though they are merely tolerating the presence of the minority members in their group, instead of embracing them as the unique individuals God has created them to be.

The minority members of that group will seem, from the outside, to be warmly welcomed, yet there will be a strong undercurrent that Caucasians are running the place and anyone opposing the group leaders (almost all Caucasians, no surprise there) will be exiled.

See the difference?  God teaches racial equality in the Bible–that no one race or country has all the cookies and does not need the others.  

Man perverts that doctrine and tries to either teach that Caucasians don’t need the other races at all or that Caucasians are naturally superior to the other races and only need them a little bit.

This racism, and control of people of other races by acting condescending to them as Caucasians, exists in groups on all possible sides of the political spectrum.  

It arises from man’s innate desire to control others and tell them what to do.

And it is sin.

KJV War (and Casualties)

24 Jul

Let me say right up front that I prefer the King James Version of the English Scriptures (KJV)  to any other translation.

But  I also used the New International Version (NIV) for study for around 25 of my first 30 years as a Christian.  

Life works out like that sometimes.  

I understand that there are some deep dividing lines between those who use the KJV Bible for study and the rest of the church, who tended to use the NIV back in the day when I used it, but who tend to use the English Standard Version (ESV) now.

You see, the KJV, being Elizabethan English, never goes out of style for certain folks, while other translations are made and replace each other with regularity in other parts of the church.  

I am not going to weigh in on either side of the issue since they don’t call it a war for nothing!  I have friends whom I regard as mature Christians on both sides of that divide.  

That said, I have a story to share.  You see, our son has high functioning autism, so he didn’t mature as quickly as other children did when it came to preferences, especially in the world of television shows.  

One that he liked to see on video, and really still does at age 21, is Psalty the Singing Songbook.  It is a heartwarming show filled with Christian music.

When we had first come back to the faith of my youth, fundamental Baptist, Joey was shopping with me in the local Christian bookstore when he saw a Bible he liked.  

Now, until this point, Joey had only used Bible storybooks he had gotten as a baby.  So wanting a Bible of his own was a significant step.  He was now turning eight years old.

We left the store, agreeing that he would use his birthday money to purchase the Bible within the next month or so.  

When we returned to get the Bible a couple of weeks later, I have never seen Joey make such a beeline for a display.  He proudly picked up his Bible, a Psalty the Singing Songbook Bible with illustrations from the television show.  

He began to proudly carry it to church.  I was ecstatic to see him so excited over God’s Word.

Until . . .

One day he told me he couldn’t carry the Psalty Bible to church anymore.  My heart hurt, as I envisioned that someone had teased him for having a children’s Bible at age 8.

That wasn’t it, though.  

No, my son had been told that the Psalty Bible was NIV, not KJV, and not only would not pass muster at our church but also was not really the Word of God.


What kind of Christian philosophy prides itself on knocking the wind out of an excited child like that?  He was so proud to carry that Bible.  Who destroys that kind of happiness and why?

Fast forward thirteen years.  Joey is now going off to college to a special needs school that has the requirement that everyone use the NIV as a study Bible with their curriculum.  


I looked through our things and, sure enough, found one of my old NIV’s from my college years. My big one eventually fell apart.  But the small one that my Dad gave me when I went off to college, with his handwritten note in it, is still here.  Joey will take that one to college like his mother before him!

He has a small KJV, too, that his very loving Sunday school teacher gave him when he graduated from high school.

My boy is going to be just fine.  

And God’s Word will never return to Him void. 


Are All Opinions Equally Valid?

23 Jul

In short, no.

Some opinions are based on reading and research.  

Some opinions are pulled from . . . um . . . the air.

I have a young, liberal friend who reads like a fiend and watches CSPAN as a hobby.  He has often fact-checked my posts.  Where he has proven me wrong, I have either changed them or apologized.

He is a valuable friend, even though our politics do not agree. 

I know many other liberals, and conservatives, whose opinions have not been proven to be worth a plugged nickel.  They only repeat what they hear others say, without inserting any of their own gray matter into the process.  That is a tragedy.  God gave us our brains so we could use them to think.  I am not talking about mentally challenged people here.  I am talking about mentally lazy people.

I have come to a decision that it is okay to push back just a little when people start ignorant quarrels on Facebook, or even in person.  Again, if they are mentally challenged people, mercy would suggest that no one would publicly shoot holes in their opinions (because most people will know they are mentally challenged anyway and take their opinions with a grain of salt).  But when they are fully intelligent people who are not using their brains, I believe it is okay to challenge them to read and think a bit more . . .

Especially when they post those ignorant opinions on my Facebook page.  I believe it is okay to ask for a citation of their sources.  When someone leaves the discussion or defriends me after being asked to cite sources, that action probably speaks for itself.

One instance that will certainly cause me to push back in the future is when I post a status on Facebook with a link that supports it, and someone loudly disagrees with the status while saying things that make it obvious they have not read the link.  Pushing back against that is just common sense.  

“You are entitled to your opinion but you are not entitled to paste it on my page when it is totally detached from the discussion at hand.  And if you haven’t bothered to read the link provided, your opinion is totally detached from the discussion at hand . . .” 

Conspiracy theories are a whole other category here.

I have recently had a local friend unfriend me on Facebook after I called him out, publicly, for publicly putting forth a conspiracy theory calling for whites to “take back their streets” following the George Zimmerman verdict.  

His post, and his source, were racist.  That was obvious because the streets in America have never solely belonged to the white race, nor should they.  Ironically, my friend and his girlfriend both identify with races other than Caucasian.  

Pray for my friend, okay?  I did not disagree with him in order to cause him embarrassment or pain.  I disagreed because the things he was saying could easily lead to blood in the streets, stirring racial warfare from the right.  Just as easily as Al Sharpton could stir up violence from the left.  It is wrong to stir up violence from either side.  That sort of tactic has to be answered quickly and decisively.  And publicly. 

I believe a real friend tells you when you are in error like that.  

And I believe when my friend cools down, he will see that for himself.  

We all need to read (and think) a lot more than we do before we open our mouths.  If not, we will come across as the proverbial fool (from the book of Proverbs!!!). 

The Bible was not just written to help the other guy, ya know?

“It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer . . .”


When Food Tastes Delicious . . .

22 Jul

When Food Tastes Delicious . . .

I have noticed something as I have embarked on my journey to maintain a lower, more healthy weight for the rest of my life.

We who live in the U.S. are in a food-rich country, so the idea of denying ourselves the pleasure of good food is not a common one.

But what about the idea of reserving some delicious foods as very occasional treats?

I can resonate with that. In fact, the way I enabled myself to not eat sweets at all initially during my Weight Watchers loss was to promise myself a piece of mile-high cheesecake from my favorite deli once a month. I still have that custom going on!!!

But there are other foods being added to my list of “very occasional treats.”

For one, I noticed at a recent cookout where we all brought our own meat that the 85% lean ground beef patties I had purchased at Food Lion were turned into the most delicious medium rare cheeseburgers ever by my Pastor’s skillful hand on the grill. I can still taste that burger, if I close my eyes. And I have to say it was among the five best burgers I have ever had.

I only eat burgers perhaps half a dozen times a year right now. Nothing wrong with them (if I count the Weight Watchers points). It is just that they have gone from being an everyday food, consumed two or three times a week, to being a huge treat.

I wonder whether my Pastor’s cheeseburger would have tasted quite so delectable if I were still in the habit of having burgers 2-3 times a week!

Last night, I had a piece of dark chocolate cake, celebrating my son’s departure for college. It was a big piece, very moist, with creamy frosting. Delicious.

I counted my 14 points and savored every mouthful. It seemed to be the best chocolate cake I have ever had.

Again, I wondered whether that was due to the fact that I have had cake about four times since the beginning of 2012. I assumed that was the case.

If I still ate cake at least once a week, even chowing down on lesser storebought cakes, I doubt that I would be able to appreciate the superior quality of the bakery version I had last night.

I think I may have the best of all possible worlds and I am extremely grateful for where I am in my new healthy lifestyle.

I live in a country with lots of food choices. I have enough money to afford the food I wish to eat. But I voluntarily have set aside certain things that I used to eat regularly, putting them into the category of occasional special treats. And that seems to be working out very well for me. My food, when I have it, tastes delicious. When I don’t have it, I never feel as though I am missing out on anything . . .

Does that make sense? Anyone else forming a similar conclusion with their lifestyle choices?

There are Only Five Original Thoughts . . .

22 Jul

We live life at 100mph.  

At that speed, we hardly have time to think, let alone read.

Yet we want to be seen as thinkers so we constantly look for sources of material to use.  As long as we can read and “digest” it in three seconds or less.

I have become convinced that almost all posts on Facebook can be boiled down to five main thoughts, none of them original to us.  Especially since about 60% of Facebook appears to be “shares” from other sources.

So it is in the church and in the field of theology.

Much of what is written, published, taught, and shared one-on-one appears to derive from about five original sermons located somewhere on this planet . . .

As a Christian teacher, I am tired of being that stale.  So I am going to devote myself to some heavy reading for the next several months to try to recover my ability to think and to actively interact with written material, rather than just “digesting” it (then turning  around and passing it on to someone else . . .).  

Pray for me . . . I believe God has given me the gift of teaching and I believe He has more for me than living life at 100mph, never stopping to think about  anything for more than three seconds.  

Is Trayvon Martin another Emmett Till or Medgar Evers?

21 Jul

The reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict continues apace.

After five days the President weighed in with a statement that seemed as though it was based on opinion polls demanding that the president say something.  Here is one quote from our local paper:  “The president said that distrust shadows African-American men: They sometimes are closely followed when they shop at department stores; they can draw nervous stares on elevators and hear car locks clicking when they walk down the street — experiences that he said he personally felt before becoming a well-known figure.”

Three points from that quote for discussion:

1) How many of us have been followed by store detectives more than once? I have. I am a slow shopper. I compare prices, read tags, and check seams. I have been followed while comparison shopping so many times that I prefer to shop online now (that is not the only reason, but a minor one). I could claim I am being profiled as a slow shopper, but I won’t go there. Sometimes it can be the patterns of what we are doing that cause people to pay attention to us. 

2) The unease on elevators. I have that almost every time I am alone with a man on an elevator, whatever his age or race. Do African-American teens not realize that? Does the President not realize that?  African-American teens are not alone in evoking a bit of caution among women who are on an elevator.  In most altercations that take place between a man and a woman, the woman comes out on the short end of the stick due to our physical strength being, on average, less than a man’s.  We learn to be cautious when in a situation where we are alone with a male stranger.  Like on elevators.   

3) When there is the clicking car lock. I actually feel guilty when I do that to an African-American man. I don’t feel guilty when I do it to a Caucasian. But . . . I do it to both of them. When I am alone and getting into my car, I am not going to leave the door unlocked just to prove to someone that I trust him. That would be stupid. There are too many carjackings nowadays.  I am not going to leave my door unlocked just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.  Nor are most women.

So, back to my original question.  Is Trayvon Martin another Medgar Evers?  

No.  Medgar Evers is a hero of the civil rights movement who died for his beliefs and for his actions on behalf of African-American citizens.  Trayvon Martin, whatever he was, is not a civil rights hero.  He did not take risks on behalf of anyone but himself.  That is not to negate him as a person, but just to point out the stature of Mr. Evers, who lived a much longer life and achieved a lot more.

So, is Trayvon Martin another Emmett Till?

I would say “no.”  Emmett Till was savagely murdered for whistling at a white girl.  He was stalked by people who identified him and went after him later.  

Trayvon Martin died in the midst of an altercation.  His death is sad and unfortunate, but he was not stalked in the same way as Emmett Till.  In fact, as someone somewhere has written, “Who calls 911 before stalking someone?”  It is obvious George Zimmerman did not initially intend to kill Trayvon Martin or he would not have called 911.

What went wrong after that is under dispute.  We don’t know who struck the first blow in the altercation.  Given that, I believe the jury did what they had to do in acquitting George Zimmerman.

A guilty man may have walked.  But that is the risk we run under our system of justice.  We would rather take that risk than risk incarcerating an innocent man.

Trayvon Martin had a sad, unfortunate death.  My heart hurts for his parents.  

But I disagree about him being a civil rights icon like Emmett Till or Medgar Evers.  


This Teen is a Hero! But, Like George Zimmerman, He Made the Decision to Follow Someone . . .

20 Jul

This Teen is a Hero! But, Like George Zimmerman, He Made the Decision to Follow Someone . . .

The problem is . . . it is just too easy to be an armchair quarterback after someone else has taken action. The young man in this post made a decision to follow an older man with a child and . . . it turns out he had the right older man and the right child.

So his mission met with success.

George Zimmerman, concerned about a string of burglaries, followed a young man he didn’t recognize in his neighborhood on a dark, rainy night and . . . we know how unsuccessful that mission was.

It is so easy for us to see which person was right to follow someone and which one was not.

But can we grant that sometimes it is not so easy to see that at the time?

Now that we are calling for “stand your ground” laws to be rescinded, will it have the unintended consequence of criminalizing people who intervene in crimes or potential crimes? Will it force us into inactivity, leaving all crime-solving to the police, though they are stretched thin, lest we get in trouble for intervening?

Think about this. Think hard about it.


This Brother in Christ Says it Much Better than I Ever Could!

18 Jul

This Brother in Christ Says it Much Better than I Ever Could!

Driving-while-black really does exist. Racial profiling, I mean.

Our church is pretty well balanced racially, so my son grew up with fellow youth group members who were black, Asian, and Hispanic. Our church’s academy won the state basketball championship several years ago with a team that had only one white member (the rest were black or Filipino). The academy’s valedictorian has been a black person for two of the last five years and a Filipino person for two more of those years. In other words, our Baptist kids are raised with racial balance.

And . . . I have held my breath as several of my son’s black male friends have grown up and learned to drive. I know the approximate income level of their parents and the fact that their cars are well cared for and nice. And . . . I wondered whether those nice Christian young men would ever be pulled over on suspicion that they had stolen a car.

Thankfully, that never happened.

And things do seem to be getting better. When I pass people who have been pulled over on the Interstate nowadays, the ratio seems to be about 50% black to 50% white. When we first moved to Virginia over 20 years ago, almost all of the traffic stops seemed to involve black people. In our city, about 20% of our inhabitants are black, so that ratio didn’t work out well, did it? It actually still doesn’t.

There is a need for a dialogue on race in our country. The mere fact that some of my fellow whites dismiss the call for a dialogue as “throwing the race card” shows that we need to have the conversation. Our hearts can be pretty hard against each other.

Tribalism is a natural part of the human condition. However, in Christ, we claim to be born again, with a supernatural aspect to our existence, as the Holy Spirit leads us to grow to be more like Christ. If we are not shedding our tribalism as we grow, we are not fulfilling our Lord’s commands and desires.

Read John 17 and the book of Ephesians. God intended for our unity with our Christian brothers and sisters everywhere to be the supernatural mark of the Holy Spirit in us. He said the world will know we are Christians by our love (I John).

Dividing and Conquering: the Sanford Jury

17 Jul

In the series “The Winds of War” Herman Wouk provides a heartbreaking look at the subtle ways Nazis would pit people against each other.  

As State Department employee Leslie Slote is trying to lead a group of Americans from Italy to safety through Fascist-controlled territory, they enter Germany by train, with guarantees for safe passage from the German government.

Unfortunately, the out-of-control SS “machine” gets hold of this group and a petty bureaucrat at the train station in Germany demands to know which members of their group are Jewish (“not for discriminatory reasons, since you are Americans and all, but just because we have to fill in a block on everybody’s form”).   

Heroically, Leslie Slote says, “Then just check Jewish on everybody’s form.”  He almost gets away with his heroism.  

A few members of the group, however, decide to distance themselves from the two Jewish people among them.

They loudly argue with Leslie Slote, “You can’t write Jewish for me.  I am not a stinking Jew.”

The SS men, at this point, have the group members right where they want them.  They proceed to divide and conquer, asking each of the very vocal people whether they will point out the Jews in the group.  They actually refuse to do that.  In the end, the SS men figure out who the two Jewish people are and try to detain them . . . 

Sound familiar?  Divide and conquer is still a technique that is used a lot because people are still as tribal as ever.  They will quickly proceed to slice and dice other people if it means saving their own skin.  This particularly works if they can create an “us vs. them” scenario in which they can portray people as members of a group that is different from their group.  

I was thinking about that this week as one of the jurors in the George Zimmerman trial tried to distance herself from the other jurors in an interview she gave anonymously.  

She mentioned how she and two other jury members supposedly voted for Zimmerman to be convicted, until the other three members convinced them to vote for acquittal.  

What was she thinking?  In fact, in response to her interview, four of the other jury members immediately signed an affidavit stating that their memory of the jury proceedings does  not match this juror’s memories at all.

United we stand, folks.

It is never sound policy to blab jury proceedings (or your selective memory of jury proceedings) in a case this controversial.  They are meant to remain quiet forever.  You don’t get fifteen minutes of fame and a book contract from them, despite the mistaken interpretation many people have made of that concept in the past.   

There have been threats made against these jurors already.  

Does the woman who spoke to the press believe that, by saying she initially voted to convict Zimmerman, she will be spared the wrath of any mobs that act on those threats?

Not likely.  

She may be testing the waters for a book contract.  

But her mouth is going to end up getting all six jurors into more danger than they are already in.

In a case like this, we should all claim to be Jewish and just move on with it . . . 

No, she will not.  In the end, all six voted for acquittal. 


A Frank Discussion on Race, “You Go First” (Part II)

15 Jul

A Frank Discussion on Race, “You Go First” (Part II)

Quick, tell me who struck the first blow, Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman.

If you gave me either of those names, you just showed me you are capable of selective hearing and selective judgment.

In truth, only two people ever knew the answer to that question. One of them is now dead.

All of the eyewitnesses to their altercation came out of their houses after the fighting ensued. So none of them saw the first blow being struck.

It is amazing to hear the rumors being put forth from both sides to justify their belief in a given outcome to the trial of George Zimmerman. Most of those rumors are not verifiable because they concern events that no one could have observed.

No one, including the person putting forth the rumor!

Given the lack of data, the jury did the only thing they could do. They acquitted George Zimmerman.

In the U.S., we do that. If there is reasonable doubt, we err on the side of possibly letting a guilty person walk free, rather than erring on the side of possibly incarcerating an innocent man. It is the American way.

Still, this case is heartbreaking, no matter how it is portrayed. One young man is dead; another young man will be a marked man for the rest of his life.

Two families have been changed forever.

The reason I am writing about this twice in one day is because I see the inflammatory remarks on both sides and understand that we need to have some voices of wisdom out there telling everyone to calm down.

My first post concerned the role of the church in getting the dialogue on race going (finally) instead of everyone waiting for someone else to start it. That is why we call it Christian leadership, folks!

Now my caution is to those on both sides who are stirring others up with calls for revenge. Revenge, once unleashed, is a bottomless pit.

If a black person kills a white person to avenge Trayvon Martin, that will never satisfy him. He could kill 50 white people and still feel just as much anger, if not more.

If a white person kills a black person because he has heard the racebaiters saying that black people are out to get him, he won’t stop with one person. That is the problem with the taste of blood. You get it in your mouth and you become a different person forever.

Meanwhile, people who should know better are throwing gasoline, and matches, on this fire. It is a fire that could consume a large number of our country’s young people this summer.

Don’t do that. Do not repost articles calling for avenging the death of Trayvon Martin. Do not repost conspiracy articles that say whites must take the streets back.

All of that is a recipe for disaster. We can’t bring people back after they die in a flood of overly wrought emotion.

Some of the older folks, like folks my age, who are publicizing the threats of violence being made by younger folks are going to be just as guilty as they are if violence erupts.

The Scriptures talked about loving our enemies. More than that, the Scriptures demonstrated turning enemies into friends.

That is where the racial dialogue in this country needs to head.

To the realization that God made us all in His image and we must honor that image in each other.

Amen and amen.

A Frank Discussion on Race: “You Go First!”

15 Jul

Quick, scholars, what was the cause of the only quarrel between Peter and Paul mentioned in the Scriptures?

Not to say there were not others, but we can only draw open a curtain on one of them–the one that God has seen fit to pass down to us over the ages on the pages of the book of Galatians.

So what was the cause of their quarrel? 

Additional clue:  pull up “withstood him to his face” in any search engine that utilizes the King James version of the Scriptures . . .

And see the following verse as further explanation:

Galatians 2:12, “For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.”

Yup, that’s right.  Paul withstood Peter publicly in front of all the other Christians in Antioch due to a matter of race relations.  Namely, Peter’s hypocrisy in interacting openly with Gentile Christians before the Jewish delegation arrived from Jerusalem, but then refusing to eat with those same Gentile Christians once the Jewish delegation was there.    

Instructive, isn’t it?  

Maybe when God tells us in John 17 that the world will be won to Christ when it sees the unity of His followers, He is dead serious about that, eh?

What I see in the wake of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case is the gaping need we have in the U.S. to have a humble, thoughtful conversation on race.  We have needed to do this for a long time.  

I think the church of Jesus Christ should lead out.  We constantly bemoan the fact that we don’t seem to have any cultural relevance anymore.  Maybe there is a good reason for that.  Maybe that reason is due to our own ability to put our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is okay when it is not. 

I have heard people who claim the name of Christ make ugly “jokes” about blacks in churches with black members, making sure they do this while they are away from those black members.  

And I have seen those who hear the “jokes” cringe but not say a word of rebuke, afraid of alienating a friend.

I have even been that person afraid to say something.  

Someone viciously verbally attacks a person made in the image of God and I stand silently by, wishing the floor would open and swallow me.

Well, Paul didn’t remain silent.  That is the one place in Scripture where he did not advocate a private conversation with an offender to straighten him out.  

Nope–he didn’t take Peter aside privately at all.  He went right in his face in front of everyone else.  I believe God included that in Scripture to show us that He values the unity of His children that much!!!  That anyone threatening it needs to be called out publicly and immediately.

Ya know?

I don’t know all of the answers about race relations, but I do know we need to start the conversation and really, humbly listen to each other.  

Nobody should have to lose a 17-year-old son to violence, whether it is white-on-black, black-on-white, or perpetrated by a member of one’s own race.  Too many parents have faced the funeral of their own child.

I don’t know who struck the first blow between Trayvon and George.  Neither do you.  We simply weren’t there.  And the jury did the only thing they could do, which was to acquit in the face of such doubt!

But if we learn anything from this trial, we should learn to honor both Trayvon and George by learning to talk to people of other races, from our heart and with sincerity.

Especially those of us who claim the name of Christ and are in His blood-bought church . . .

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