Tag Archive | police

For Baton Rouge

  

Having served in ministry in Louisiana several years ago, that area of the country has always been like a second home. My heart goes out to the people of Baton Rouge, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends, and co-workers of the brave officers who were killed by a cowardly act yesterday, July 17. We pray that the God of all comfort will make His presence real to you all during this time of grief and tragedy. We pray for a speedy recovery for the officers who were injured, and for their soon return to health, and their families and friends.

Having just been reminded of the terror attack that took place in Chattanooga one year ago this past Saturday (July 16), and the brave servicemen who were killed in that attack, I am reminded we must all remain diligent in lifting up, in prayer, our brave first-responders — police, firemen, and military personnel — who put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis so that we can live our lives in freedom and safety. In the lives of those who are willing to lay down their lives for our safety and security, we see a reflection of the One who laid down His life for our eternal “safety and security”… the One through whom we can come into the presence of God during these times of uncertainty, pain, loss, and confusion. During these difficult times, I am reminded of His words of invitation and promise…

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬ 

May God bless and protect our First Responders.

Words Matter.

MLK1“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last week, we all witnessed the horrific slaughter of five American heroes on the streets of Dallas, TX. When Micah Johnson opened fire on police at a protest on July 7, it became the deadliest day for American police since September 11, 2001.
Yet, in spite of the horror of an “active shooter” environment, witnesses testified to the fact that the heroes of the Dallas police ran toward  the gunfire when the shooting started. Blue Line
In the end, Officers Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, Brent Thompson, Sgt. Michael Smith, and Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens were killed, seven other officers were wounded, as well as two bystanders. Ironically, these policemen were at the protest to protect protestors who were, in essence, protesting THEM.

Now, I want to start off by making a bold statement that some may or may not agree with…

America is NOT a racist nation.

IMG_1904Does some racism exist in our nation? Sadly, yes. However, to call America racist because of the actions of a minority of its citizens is simply wrong… misleading at best. It appears that when you are a politician, calling someone “racist” is far easier than logically explaining your position, or why you may disagree with someone. In my opinion, the misuse of the word “racist” is, in many cases, racist in and of itself. It is a word with significant meaning that is bandied about far too often and far too carelessly.

Statistics speak volumes. Most of what we see in the media, in polls and news stories, is based on statistical information. With that being said, let me share a few stats with you…

There are approximately 765,000 law enforcement officers in the United States who carry “arrest power” (the authority to arrest an individual). All total, there are over 1.1 million people who work in some capacity of law enforcement. An October 2015 article in The Washington Post confirmed the following…

… “Only a small number of the shootings — roughly 5 percent — occurred under the kind of circumstances that raise doubt and draw public outcry, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. The vast majority of individuals shot and killed by police officers were…armed with guns and killed after attacking police officers or civilians or making other direct threats.”

… “Of the 800 people killed by police this year, almost half have been white, a quarter have been black and one-sixth have been Hispanic.”

Now, statistically speaking, what one can surmise from this article is that…

  • Out of 765,000 officers, only 800 (total) have been involved in a fatal confrontation.
  • According to this statistic, .1% of police were involved in a shooting the year this article was written (2015).
  • Of the 800 people killed, the majority were white, and only a quarter were black.
  • Based on these approximations, and assuming that EVERY killing was unjustified (which we are not, except for the purpose of this example), that leaves approximately .03% of all police officers as being involved in the killing of African-Americans.

And please remember, these statistics come from The Washington Post, not what many would consider a “right-wing news outlet”.

Let’s look at another statistic…

According to research done around 1999 by Capitol Hill Blue, an online publication that covers federal politics, after researching public records, newspaper articles, civil court transcripts, and criminal records, CHB uncovered the following:

  •  29 members of Congress had been accused of spousal abuse.
  •  7 had been arrested for fraud.
  • 19 had been accused of writing bad checks.
  • 117 had bankrupted at least two businesses.
  • 3 had been arrested for assault.
  • 71 had credit reports so bad they couldn’t qualify for a credit card.
  • 14 had been arrested on drug-related charges.
  • 8 had been arrested for shoplifting.
  • 21 were current defendants in lawsuits.
  • In one year (1998), 84 were stopped for drunk driving, but released after they claimed Congressional immunity.

There are no more than 435 members of Congress, and 100 members of the Senate. So, assuming no person has been guilty of more than one of the charges listed…

  • Out of 535 members of the two houses of Congress, 164 have been accused of crimes… 31%.
  • In one year, 16% were stopped for drunk driving.
  • 5% are accused of spousal abuse.
  • 3% were arrested on drug charges.

The point I am making is that, while ANY loss of life is tragic, a little perspective would be in order before we start making reckless generalizations. Saying that police are a bunch of “racist thugs just out to kill blacks” because of a few questionable incidents is as irresponsible as saying that all politicians are “drunks, wife-beaters, and drug addicts” because of the actions of a few. Honestly, statistically speaking, you would have more evidence to support those claims than saying “all cops are racist killers”.

Many in our current leadership are trying to divide our nation along racial, gender, and other socio-economic lines. With the recent shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rogue, people in positions of authority began making accusations of racism before hardly any of the facts were in. Such rhetoric, although common during election years, is not at all constructive, and only succeeds to divide us further. When those in authority speak irresponsibly, it only serves to feed and fuel the misguided passions of those who would use such words as justification for acts of evil and hatred.

We hear the word integration a lot. This word comes from the Latin word integrare which means to make whole. By definition, it takes all parts coming together to comprise a whole. In America, we have always found our strength in our coming together. There is undeniable power in unity. The power of unity is a Scriptural principle…

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus promised that when we come together in unity in His name, He would show up…

“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

In spite of the hate and division we have seen, I have seen glimpses that have given me hope for our hurting nation. A popular picture being circulated on social media in recent days depicts a group of African-American men standing in solidarity with, and protecting, the police force on the streets of Baltimore. Images such as these should be plastered all over the news. Yet all too often, the media focuses on every negative story as it relates to the police. When the de facto bias of news outlets becomes one of anti-authority fear-mongering and hatred, it is no wonder that the citizens of our nation become cynical, skeptical, and suspicious of anyone wearing a police uniform. Yes, I will freely admit that there are “bad cops”. There are officers who have made regrettable mistakes that have cost lives. However, I refuse to take what is a vast majority of these brave, dedicated, and sacrificial public servants and lump them into a category of corruption and abuse of power exhibited by a microscopic minority.

Last week, in the aftermath of the death of Alton Sterling, several anti-police protests took place in Baton Rogue. According to reports, these protests were, for the most part, peaceful. It was not until out-of-town agitators arrived that the protests turned violent, with dozens of arrests taking place. We have seen this over and again in places like Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore, MD. But for those who would try to turn a horrible tragedy into an opportunity and excuse for lawlessness, I would echo the warning that the Apostle Paul issued in Romans 13…

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. ~ Romans 13:1-4

So what do we do now? Where do we go from here?

Well, a good starting point would be to take these words of advice, promise, and warning from the prophet Isaiah…


“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;

Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.”

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. ~ Isaiah 1:16-20

All Lives MatterWords matter.

We can choose to make those words of healing, restoration, unity, and life.

Or…

We can make those words drip with hatred, division, and death.

The choice is ours… all of ours.

Blessings,
Pastor Ron

The Consequences of a Random Act

Looking Glass

A friend of mine recently told me this story…

I was sitting in a restaurant when I noticed a couple of police officers enter. It was lunch time and, obviously taking a break, they were promptly seated across the busy room. I didn’t think much more about it, and went back to my meal and conversation. After a while, the officers finished eating and rose to leave. They passed by my table, but stopped before they reached the door to talk to the manager. I noticed the manager point back toward my table, at which point the two officers began walking back in my direction. Just before reaching me, they stopped at the table right next to mine. There was a family — dad, mom, and a couple of kids — sitting enjoying their meal, when I overheard one of the officers speak to the dad.

“Excuse me… I feel like maybe we weren’t supposed to know, but somehow that got lost in the translation,” the officer said to the father.

The father smiled knowingly and shook his head. “You weren’t.”

“Well, that was very kind, and we just wanted to come back and say thank you,” the officer replied.

“Yes… Thank you, sir. That was a very nice thing to do. We really appreciate it,” the other officer said.

“Well, I just wanted to say thanks to you guys for your service and for all you do,” the man said.

“Wow! If I’d have know you were buying, I would have gotten desert,” the first officer joked.

They all laughed, shook hands, the two officers exited, and the family went back to their meal. Several minutes later, I rose to leave and happened to find myself standing next to the man at the doorway.

“Excuse me for asking, but I overheard what you said back there to those officers. Do you know those guys?”

The man smiled at me and said, “Nope. Never met them before.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, why did you do that?” I asked.

“Those guys get a lot of bad press for doing a very, very difficult job,” he said. “I’ve had several friends who were policemen, and I have a great deal of respect for the job they do. I just figured buying their lunch was the least I could do to say ‘thank you for keeping us safe’. I wanted them to know that they are appreciated.”

He went on to tell me that, when he paid the manager, he told him he wanted it to be anonymous. However, it was a Asian restaurant, and the manager’s English was not very good, so his anonymity got “lost in translation” (as the officer said).

We hear a lot in the news about the negative stereotypes of “bad cops”. However, the overwhelming truth is that police officers are good men and women who have to carry out a tough job. In today’s media, deference is too often given to the perpetrator, and good officers are guilty until proven innocent — before facts are established, and before the truth can be ascertained.

In Romans 13, Paul writes…

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

When we show respect and honor to those in authority, we have no reason to fear. Godly authority is there for our protection, in order for us to be allowed to live our lives in relative peace and safety. In the vast majority of stories I hear about violence involving police officers, those two things are always missing — respect and honor. Does that justify unwarranted “excessive force”? Not at all. But sadly, in the age of hostile news media, unfiltered social media, and “instant everything”, images mocking violence against police are posted online at lightning speeds, and only exacerbates how police feel they are being unjustly perceived, and magnifies a culture that has lost its moral compass, respect for authority, and reverence for God.

With all of the negative things we hear about police these days, and the repercussions that officers are experiencing with recent random attacks and killings, I wanted to share this positive story of good will. Actions have consequences, and all too often, we hear about the consequences of a random act of violence, or of a sequence of events that ends tragically…

It could be that the consequences of this random act of kindness are that a couple of officers spent the rest of the day feeling appreciated, and a father set a good example for his children.

It could also be that this story inspires someone reading it to go out and commit a random act of kindness today.

Hope For America

On Sunday, I addressed the people of Abba’s House, the city of Chattanooga, and the nation regarding the terror attack in the City of Chattanooga on July 16, 2015. I invite you to join us in the worship center of Abba’s House as I share the Good News…

There is still Hope for America.

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.