Tag Archive | Alabama

Free At Last

Truth

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe, with all of my heart, the quote above. The logical converse of this truth is that, without the truth, we cannot be free. Today, I am writing to you in the interest of truth and freedom.

First of all, I would like to begin by saying that we, the American people, are the victims of fraud on an astronomical scale. Over the past 6 years, we have witnessed…

  • The national debt increase from 7 trillion to 18 trillion dollars (and rising);
  • An absolute debacle in foreign affairs, leaving us to restart a war that had already been won;
  • The murder of our Ambassador in Benghazi;
  • The beheading of American citizens by ISIS;
  • The unprecedented betrayal of Israel, one of our greatest allies;
  • The dismissal of 12 of our nation’s top military leaders;
  • The unemployment rate of African-American youth skyrocket to its highest point in history;
  • The elevation of street thugs to heroes. While my generation witnessed men of character like Jackie Robinson, Medgar Evers, and Martin Luther King, Jr., this current generation has been subjected to the toxic ramblings of race-peddlers, always quick to show up at the site of any potential racial tension, always quick to throw gasoline on the fire.
  • Narrative being elevated above real news. The “media elite” and left-wing press in this nation regularly editorializes what it wants a story to be, instead of the reality of the event in question;
  • A Congress that refuses to hold the President accountable for unlawfully acting against the Constitution;
  • A former Secretary of State who says that we should “empathize with our enemies”.

To empathize means to “think as they think”.

WRONG!

Jesus said “love your enemies”, meaning that love works in order to change them. If our government is going to empathize with anyone, it needs to empathize with…

  • The American middle-class that is being taxed to death while losing income;
  • Those without jobs who are desperately looking;
  • Our underpaid, under-appreciated, and under-supported military;
  • The African-American community that needs jobs, encouragement, and hope instead of empty rhetoric, violence, and death in their communities.

While America has its fair share of problems, America is NOT a racist nation. As someone who grew up in the segregated South during the 50’s and 60’s, I am personally sick and tired of allegations that portray our great nation and our fine people as being something less than what they are. I have witnessed the sweeping changes that have taken place over the last 60 years. I have been a long-time supporter of civil rights, and was present on the streets of Montgomery, Alabama when Dr. King spoke to the crowds there during the Selma-to-Montgomery march. I heard the story of how my father took a stand for a colored friend (and veteran) who could not get a driver’s license simply because he was black. I was there when it cost something to take a stand, and know first-hand what that looks like, so I am deeply troubled when race-hustlers and religious phonies take isolated incidents and try to use them to divide our great nation. I’ve grown weary of a biased news media and White House leadership that are trying to invent crises as a way of grabbing more money and power. Our military as a whole was held up to scorn and ridicule by the media because of the actions of a few renegade soldiers at Abu-Ghraib. Now, we are witnessing those in the highest seats of power attacking our first-responders… the police and national guard. To watch New York City Mayor DeBlasio throw the NYPD “under the bus” was sickening. While there are officers who do things that are questionable or wrong, the vast majority of law-enforcement personnel are men and women of integrity, and I have known, been friends with, and presided over the funerals of such brave public servants. The same criticism can be said of any occupation, including politicians. If I could, I would say to the good mayor, “Mr. DeBlasio, should the people of New York City judge you based on the lack of integrity (or criminal activity) of other politicians around our nation? With no evidence to support an assertion of guilt on your part, would it be fair to lump you in with such names as Boss Tweed, Spiro Agnew, and Rod Blagojevich?”

What I have found is this…

Praying2America is still a great country. A recent study of racism in the world revealed that, out of the 50 participating nations, the United States is one of the least racist nations in the world. In Alabama — the center of the Civil Rights movement in the ’60’s — the Crimson Tide is being quarterbacked by Blake Sims, an African-American. I have followed the career of Dr. Ben Carson, a brilliant neurosurgeon and author. According to Forbes, 7 of the 8 most powerful celebrities in entertainment and sports are African-American, including Beyonce, LeBron James, and Oprah. In our own city (which has had its fair share of racial tension in the past), I’ve watched our children’s sports leagues operate, not on the basis of race, but ability. The church I have pastored for over 35 years is racially integrated. In fact, I have been told by people of color that they do not want to be referred to as “African-American members”, but simply “members”.

Yet, many questions trouble us all these days, and the recent deaths of men such as Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin —and subsequent violence and racial division — do not represent the best of America. Certainly, these men were all too young to die, yet I am troubled by the narrative in the public arena.

In the case of Michael Brown, a young man is dead, and a young police officer has lost his career and the life he would have had. Yet, the narrative in the media seeks to make a hero out of someone who was not, and tries to give meaning to a story that is, quite honestly, a tragic moment in time. And now, we have the symbolic gesture of “hands up – don’t shoot” being parrotted by news personalities, sports figures, and politicians… a gesture that has become a rallying point, based on a false narrative (proven false by autopsy reports and witness testimony).

So, while Ferguson, Missouri burns, and the race-hustlers attempt to extend their 15 minutes of fame, spreading their poisonous ideology to other cities to incite more unrest, a darker, more sinister question is hiding in the shadows: Why are the news cameras not rolling on the streets of Chicago, Detroit, and other large urban areas in which blacks are killing blacks, whites are killing whites, Hispanic youth are losing their way, and suicide is reaching epidemic proportions? Where is the concern by the American media for the native Americans living in squalor on neglected reservations?

The problem rests in our homes, churches, and communities. It doesn’t take a village to raise a child… it takes a mother and a father investing their time and their lives in their children. It takes parents who will raise up their children to honor God, love others, respect authority, and do what is right.

Are today’s heroes to be poor street kids involved in petty crimes whose lives end far too soon?

No. Life and death must have more meaning. I think of Medgar Evers, who fought for civil rights, and believed the Gospel of Jesus. Here was a hero who was assassinated in his own driveway, but, by his death, affected civil rights around the world.

What about Rosa Parks?

What about Martin Luther King, Jr., and his belief in non-violence?

What about the courage exhibited in the life of baseball great Jackie Robinson?

Girls2There are thousands of young people of all races whose names are never called. One such young lady was Shirley Martin, the first African-American student in my high school in Alabama. She faced enormous odds, yet won a small victory for equal rights. Shirley gave up her head-cheerleader, homecoming queen status for the cause of racial integration and equality. Books will not be written about her. You won’t find her listed in Wikipedia. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will never invoke her name. Yet she, and so many like her, are true heroes.

As sad as their stories may be, those who break the law and disrupt society are not heroes, whether they are young, old, law enforcement, civilians, famous ministers, or notorious personalities. A person who incites others to riot based on false pretense and a manufactured narrative is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, a charlatan, and a coward. Heroes do real work, make real sacrifices, inspire real promise and hope, and champion real progress.

It is time to join hands and take a stand for truth. It is time for us to lower our hands in surrender, and reach out to help someone different than ourselves. It is time that we reject the shrill voices of hate and division, and allow the words of Dr. King to resonate in our hearts…

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

It is time to be free at last.

Lessons I Learned from The Iron Bowl… #RollTide

Being a life-long Alabama Crimson Tide fan, watching last weekend’s Iron Bowl between Alabama’s Tide and Auburn’s War Eagles was both exasperating and exhilarating. For those of you who didn’t see it, let me recap…

RTR ShirtAlabama led early, but after two quarters and two interceptions thrown by Alabama quarterback Blake Sims, the #1 ranked Crimson Tide was behind going into halftime. At the beginning of the third quarter, Sims threw yet another interception right out of the gate, which Auburn soon after turned into another touchdown.

At this point in the game, Crimson Tide fans all around the country were screaming at their TV sets for Coach Nick Saban to replace Sims with backup quarterback Jake Coker. Enough is enough! Let’s get some fresh blood in there and get something going before the game is hopelessly lost!

However, to the chagrin of many watching the spectacle, when Alabama once again got the ball, Sims ran out onto the field, ready to take his spot behind the center.

Tide fans everywhere were befuddled. Had Coach Saban lost it? Was he purposely trying to lose the game? Was this going to be a remake of Iron Bowl 2013, and the famous “Kick Six“?

Three minutes later, Sims threw a touchdown pass, closing the score gap to six points. Auburn kicked another field goal a few minutes later, and Auburn’s score began to inch up once again.

Then it happened…

Bear BryantWith a new-found confidence fostered by a coach who believed in his ability, Sims began to connect with his receivers. Over the next 15 minutes of play, the Crimson Tide scored four unanswered touchdowns, and went on to win what would be the highest-scoring Iron Bowl in the history of that rivalry… 55-44.

Now, you might be saying, “Well Pastor, congrats on your team winning, but what in the world does that have to do with anything in my life? I don’t even like football.” Bear with me a minute…

What if Coach Saban had pulled Blake Sims out of the game after his third interception, or even his second? What if Blake Sims had lost all confidence because his coach and teammates lost faith in him? What if they had switched to another plan in the middle of the game?

The fact is that Coach Saban saw something in Sims that eluded the rest of us (and probably Sims himself). He probably knew that replacing Sims would mean deviating from a plan he believed in — a plan he believed would make them the winning team at the end of the night. Trusting his instincts and what he knew and believed about Sims, he defied “reason” and the mob mentality, and chose not to throw Sims under the bus, but to show him he still believed in him.

And it paid off. At the end of the night, Alabama fans everywhere had 55 reasons they were thankful for Blake Sims.

YOU are on a team, and you have a coach named Jesus Christ. You’ve had some victories, but you’ve stumbled, slipped, thrown bad passes, interceptions, and fumbled the ball on more than one occasion. You are bruised, bloody, and beaten down. Honestly… you’re not much to look at, and people around you have serious doubts in your abilities and worth.

But you have a Coach who believes in YOU. You have someone on your side who, over and over again, will pick you up, dust you off, and send you back out there into the fray.

“Why? Is Coach Jesus just sadistic? Does He enjoy watching me get beat up every time I turn around?”

Not at all. Sure, He knows you. He sees your flaws, knows your failures, and sympathizes with your struggles.

But He also knows what you are capable of. He has a plan in which you are an integral part. Paul said in Romans…

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. ~ Romans 11:29

That means God’s call on your life is not dependent upon your fumbles and missteps. His calling is irrevocable, and He makes no apologies for keeping you in the game. When we think it is difficult or impossible to trust our faithfulness, He reminds us that our relationship with Him is about trusting His grace. What we have to do is trust Him, and believe in His call and His wisdom for our lives and destiny.

So cheer up! You may be bruised and banged-up, but if you are reading this now, it means you are still breathing, still full of life, and still IN THE GAME! It’s time to start believing in the One who called you, for His calling is sure, and He’s never going to be sorry He did. Game ON!

Oh, and… ROLL TIDE!

Pastor Ron