Tag Archive | Eric Garner

Putting Things Into Perspective: #Baltimore

Flag half-mastOver the last couple of years, we have seen a rise in acts of rioting and rebellion in the name of “social justice”.

We hear the cries of “police brutality”.

We are barraged with uneven media coverage and biased commentary.

We see the acts of “civil disobedience” perpetrated in “honor” of people like Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner.

We witness brave first-responders being maligned, attacked, and assaulted for simply doing their jobs.

You get the picture. You’ve seen the stories. But before I go on, let’s put this into perspective…

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 318,857,056 people living in the United States as of 2014.
  • According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there are approximately 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States.
  • According to FBI statistics for 2013, law enforcement made an estimated 11,302,102 arrests (including 480,360 for violent crimes and 1,559,284 for property crimes). The highest number of arrests were for drug abuse violations (estimated at 1,501,043), larceny-theft (estimated at 1,231,580), and driving under the influence (estimated at 1,166,824).
  • Some other 2013 statistics from the FBI include:
    • An estimated 14,196 murders.
    • Approximately 724,149 aggravated assaults.
    • An estimated 79,770 reported rapes.
    • Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.5 billion in property losses.
    • About 699,594 motor vehicles were reported stolen.

I cited these statistics, in part, to call for a little perspective. With over 300 million people in our nation, and almost 1 million law enforcement personnel, while any loss of life is tragic, a response of chaos on the scale we have seen is far out of proportion. Now, before anyone says that these statistics do not justify bad behavior on the part of law enforcement, let me just say that you are exactly right. When those in authority abuse their power, they should be held to account, and dealt with appropriately in a just and fair way. Those individuals deserve the same due-process that every American citizen accused of a crime is afforded by law. But to assume all policemen are bad because of a handful of questionable incidents is unfair to the nearly 1 million officers serving today.

Think about this…

There are approximately 1,696 players in the NFL, with an average salary of $1.9 million (2010-2011). During the off-season of 2013 (February to June), 27 players were arrested for a variety of crimes including child abuse, assault, drug possession, DUI, and murder.

So with a rate of less than 2% of players being arrested for questionable behavior, should we demand a ban on pro football in America? Should there be rioting in the streets because one of America’s favorite pasttimes and institutions has been tainted by “the criminal element”?

In the three high-profile police cases I mentioned, let’s assume (for the sake of argument) there were 20 police officers involved. That is 20 out of 900,000… or .002%.

If 2% of all law enforcement in our nation were “bad”, that would be around 18,000 “crooked” officers.

When it comes to police violence, the rule seems to be “guilty until proven innocent”, with a free-pass given to anyone who wants to riot in the meantime. Honestly, I fail to see what destroying cars, assaulting individuals, looting and burning businesses, and laying waste to American communities has to do with social justice.

Growing up in the South during the ’50’s and ’60’s, I am familiar with the lasting impression and power of peaceful protests. Back then, it was about taking a stand for something other than a sound-bite or false narrative. People peacefully and courageously stood their ground, and didn’t resort to looting and vandalism while hiding behind masks and bandanas. Protesting was about seeing real change come to an unjust social landscape that included legalized racism and segregation. It was about brave men and women standing up in the face of violence with non-violence.

But how can we accomplish this today? How can we stop the kind of violence and chaos we have witnessed in places like Baltimore and Ferguson?

  • Parents can start being parents again. By now, most of us have seen the video of Toya Graham, the mother who pulled her son out of a crowd of rioters in Baltimore. While some may criticize her methods, no one can fault her motivation. She did not want her child to end up as another statistic — she wants better for her only son than the life of a street thug and criminal. It’s time for more parents to stop trying to be buddies with their kids and start being the loving voice of wisdom, experience, and (if necessary) correction that their children need. The Bible says…

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

  Parents, your children have plenty of friends, but only two parents. As I heard someone say, regarding the riots… “Send the police home, and just put a bunch of angry moms out there on the streets. They’ll get things straightened up!”

  • We must have a culture of accountability. While the focus in these incidents is centered on the police — and in some cases justifiably so — we must also demand accountability from media outlets and elected officials. Sensationalizing the news, making offhand comments based on conjecture and hearsay, and pronouncing judgement before all of the facts are in is irresponsible at best, and in most cases, serves to throw gasoline on the fires of racism, hatred, and distrust of police and other authority figures. In the Michael Brown case, many people from elected officials to celebrities to sports teams advanced the “hands up – don’t shoot” narrative, which turned out to be a complete fabrication. In their attempt to be first on the scene, first to report, and first with a “soundbite for the ages”, the apparent attitude of media personalities and publicity hounds flies in the face of the Apostle James who said…

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~ James 1:19-20

  Advancing a false narrative in an age of technology such as we have is beyond irresponsible and dangerous. Those who do such things should be held to account for their actions and words.

  • Get back to the Bible. We MUST return to the principles that our country was founded on — the principles and truths of the Word of God. The prevailing thought in many circles today (political circles, for one) is that people can believe what they want to believe, and there are no absolutes. There is little in society today that is as wrong, as dangerous, or as insane as that belief. We cannot pick and choose our morality, or cherry-pick what principles in the Bible are “relevant”, and what ideas are outdated. If the Bible is irrelevant and there are no absolutes, what makes it wrong for a person to walk into a school and start shooting children? If the measure of right and wrong is a person’s personal belief system, then what made it wrong for Hitler to kills 6 million Jews because his “belief” was that the world would be better off without them?

  In our nation today, we have laws on the book that state that, if a person kills a pregnant woman, and her unborn baby dies as well, that person can be charged with two murders. Yet, an unborn baby can be killed by the cruel act of abortion, and that is deemed by society as “acceptable’. What kind of “crazy” logic is that?

And more recently, we are seeing the hypocrisy of those trying to advance the LGBT agenda who are attacking Christians for standing up for their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs that same-sex marriage is wrong, and exhibiting rabid intolerance for Christians in the name of “tolerance”.

My friend… God sent Jesus into this world to die for our sins, but we must come to Him on HIS terms; by admitting our need for Him, confessing our sins for what they are, and coming to Him in repentance of our sins, and acceptance of His free gift of salvation. Until we are willing to turn to Him, as individuals and as a nation, we will continue down the slippery slope of narcissistic self-destruction.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

All Lives MatterIt’s time for sanity to take its rightful place in the public discourse, for good and honest people to speak the truth in love, stand their ground, and make a difference in all of our communities… red, yellow, black, or white. It’s time to do the right thing, one neighborhood at a time, and show the love of Jesus every step along the way.

It’s time to get God’s perspective, and follow His leading.

Hope for a “Lost” Generation

MLK Lives QuoteOne has only to watch the news for a few minutes to realize we, as a “civilized people”, are in great peril. As the world focuses on the threats facing our world on a broad scale (terrorism, radical Islam, North Korea, Russia, etc.), the unravelling of the fabric of our society on a local level flies “under the radar.” The seeming collusion of a left-wing media and liberal Hollywood have created the “talking points” of what is acceptable and politically correct, and what will not be tolerated.

While cities like Detroit, St. Louis, and Memphis are besieged by violence, we are told that the greatest threat facing us is “climate change”.

While escalating terror attacks against our allies across the globe are marginalized by our leaders, accusations of racism and anti-police rhetoric are carelessly bandied about by those in authority – with deadly consequences.

While more and more over-reaching regulations are proposed in the name of “public safety,” common sense and “unpopular” laws have become the casualties of those who would try to fundamentally change the core Judeo-Christian values of our nation.

LL ArmThese actions do not take place without consequences — intentional or not. The underlying message being sent is that lives (black, white, or otherwise) don’t matter, that morality is subjective, and that, if one disagrees with certain laws, it is acceptable to ignore and/or violate those laws as long as “diversity” is the goal.

I – for one – have not given up on America. However, in order for us to see a brighter future, we must return to the faith of our past. The Church must draw a “line in the sand” and take a stand for truth and righteousness. It is time that we stop living cowed in the corner of society, and honestly, passionately, and intelligently speak life into this culture of decay and death. Here are a few common-sense ways we can start that conversation…

Stop mis-labeling the problem.

If a person goes into the hospital with all of the symptoms of appendicitis, referring to that person’s condition as an ear infection will do little to treat the problem, and could possibly cost them their life. When we fail to properly label what is wrong with society, we do nothing to cure its ills, and run the risk of doing irreparable damage to the conscience of our Nation. As believers, we stand on the unchangeable, living Word of God. In 1 Peter 3:14-16, the apostle Peter admonishes us…

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

Calling “sin” by its proper name is not politically correct in our society, but is necessary in diagnosing what is ailing us.

Abortion is not a “woman’s choice”… it’s sin.
Homosexuality is not an “alternate lifestyle”… it’s sin.
Adultery is not an “open lifestyle”… it’s sin.
Pornography is not “adult entertainment”… it’s sin.
Political corruption is not “the price of doing business”… it’s sin.

It’s not my label, or your label… it’s God’s definition. He made the rules, and He set the standards. As believers in Christ, we must be honest and faithful to His Word. However, we must also be sure to go beyond just pointing out the problems; we must share the reason for our hope, and offer a solution… the love of Jesus that has the power to change hearts, heal minds, and save souls.

Parents: Anyone can be your child’s friend; only YOU can be your child’s parent.

We have a generation rising that has the potential for either great good or great harm. While I do see good and decent young people being raised up, I also see a lot who are reckless, thoughtless, and out-of-control. There was recently a case in Texas of a 16-year old young man who got drunk, got behind the wheel of a pickup truck, and killed four people (also injuring two others). During his trial, a witness was put on the stand who testified that the boy was the victim of affluenza — which could be defined as “being the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits or boundaries.” This tragic story can be repeated over and over again… parents who set no boundaries for children who grow into young people with no concern for right and wrong, and no regard for the consequences of their thoughtless and careless acts.

Family mealIn Proverbs 22:6, we read…

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

That’s pretty good advice from the person considered to be the wisest man who ever lived. Parents need to stop delegating God-given responsibility of raising their children to schools, recreation centers, and churches, and start being the voices of wisdom, protection, instruction, and discipline that God intended them to be.

Church: Start being salt and light again.

Over these past many decades, the Church has become known more for what we are against than what we are for. In the ’50’s and ’60’s, we took stands against things like technology, only to later discover it was neither good nor evil, but actually had great value in the spreading of the Gospel. While the Cold War raged in the ’70’s, and we seemed on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, the Church was more concerned about the length of men’s hair, the length of women’s skirts, the “Ju-ju beat” in contemporary Christian music, and a plethora of other things that did little to bring souls into the Kingdom, and even less to open up a dialogue with a world on the fast-track to Hell. One thing (of many) I respect about Rev. Billy Graham, and now his son Franklin, is that, when confronted with a question about a social issue, political controversy, or cultural hot-topic, he always steers the conversation back to the Cross of Christ, and mankind’s need for a Savior.

Jesus called us to be salt and light in Matthew 5:13-16…

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Do I think we should be like the world, and participate in sin for the sake of getting along and finding common ground? By no means. But we must be very careful in rightly-dividing the Word of God so as not to turn our personal preferences into God’s providence. We must let the world see the love of Christ in us, and be known for the God we love, Who changes lives, and not just be known for the petty and insignificant things we are against. Being a Christian will always put us at odds with a world that hates Him. However, the love of Christ in us — shown in practical ways — is what will silence the critics, bring healing and love to those who have lost all hope, and open the ears and hearts of the hungry, hurting, and desperate.

Remember that All Lives Matter.

All Lives MatterIn the wake of the tragic stories of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the mantra “Black Lives Matter” spread like wildfire. The fact is that ALL lives matter. But how can we say with any conviction that any lives matter when we have allowed the wholesale slaughter of the innocent in our nation? How can we be so hypocritical as to bemoan the tragic deaths of a handful of individuals when, from 1973 to January of 2014, estimates of the number of aborted children have topped 50 million? To put it into perspective, this would be the equivalent of wiping out the populations of the following states combined: Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Utah, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming.

We must stop sending these mixed messages. If all lives matter, then we must put an end to this hypocrisy by putting an end to the holocaust of abortion in our nation. Then, and only then, can we put a serious emphasis on the value of ALL lives, and begin to heal the racial and gender rifts that are tearing our nation apart.

 There was a popular show on television called “Lost“, in which the characters were survivors of a plane crash on a remote island. As the series progressed, however, the level of danger and peril grew, and the island was more than it appeared to be on the surface. As I look into our society, I see a generation that is lost in the deception of self-interest, unaware of an enemy that is operating below the surface, feeding the fires of an ideology and mindset that are putting us as a nation more and more at odds with a Holy God. It’s time for the Church to step up and be the voice of truth, compassion, and hope that our world is crying out for.Blessed