Tag Archive | racism

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

Unleash The Greatness Within YOU!

 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them:
because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. ~ 1 John 4:4

  • Born into privilege, “Copperknob” (as he came to be nicknamed because of his red hair) was born into British aristocracy. Spending much of his childhood being raised by people other than his parents, he was independent and rebellious, and although an obviously smart child, made poor grades in school. Suffering from a speech impediment he worked hard to overcome, his life was a series of successes and setbacks.

Sir_Winston_S_ChurchillAfter years of public service, and suffering from a severely damaged reputation, he went into exile. However, with a world in crisis, he returned to the public eye, and became Prime Minister of Great Britain at the age of 65, leading his nation through its darkest hours and on to victory against the Nazi regime. He famously said…

…We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

He was Winston Churchill.

  • In 1919, while segregation was alive and well in the South, a boy was born to the daughter of a former slave. After the boy’s father left when he was just a few months old, the boy’s mother Mallie moved, with her five children, to California.

Jackie_Robinson_1945As Mallie’s boy grew, he experienced the racial hatred still aflame, even in California, in the 1920’s. However, Mallie’s example of diligence, hard work, and kindness, as well as her faith, lighted the way for her son. Overcoming the hurdles of a racially divided nation, Mallie’s boy worked hard to become a fine athlete, excelling in multiple sports including football, track, basketball, and baseball. Although he had minor brushes with authorities, the Christian values instilled in him by a good mother and other Godly adult role models kept him on the (fairly) “straight and narrow”.

After a period of playing semipro football, as well as serving honorably in the United States Army, “Jackrabbit” — as he came to be nicknamed — accepted an offer to play baseball in the Negro National League. His exceptional ability on the diamond attracted the attention of an older gentleman…

Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

“Jackrabbit” Jackie Roosevelt Robinson overcame the obstacles of hatred and racism to become the first African-American to play major league baseball, receiving awards and accolades, a world championship, and the Medal of Freedom (posthumously awarded to him in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan).

We all have untapped potential. We all have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. It doesn’t matter if you are born into wealth and prestige, or come from humble beginnings — we all have the potential for greatness.

“How is that?” you say.

It just stands to reason that, if He is great and greatly to be praised, and we are made in His image, we have the potential for greatness as well. So what does it take to unleash that greatness? What does it take to tap into that untapped potential?

It takes courage. Venturing into the unknown takes courage. It is no small thing to go into uncharted territory, personally or professionally. Churchill had the weight and fate of Britain on his shoulders. Jackie Robinson was breaking down the wall of racism in professional sports at a time when vitriol and hate against people of color were in full swing. It takes courage to go down a path no one has traveled, where the path is neither clear nor well-lit.

It takes commitment. Although he faced criticism and opposition, Churchill was committed to his nation, and the principles of freedom that Britain stood for. Jackie Robinson had to be committed enough to, not just baseball, but the vision that Branch Rickey had, that he was willing to look beyond the physical and emotional abuse, threats, and ridicule he incurred for the sake of an ideal bigger than he was. Being committed to your calling is vital to see your vision through to the end.

It takes Christ. Sure, there are plenty of people out there with lots of success who do not believe the tenants of Christ. But in the end, only what is done for Christ will last. Only what is done for God will stand the test beyond time, and still matter when the hands of time have stopped.

We are put on this earth for but a moment, compared with the eternity that awaits us… it’s best that we don’t waste that moment. God has called you to something bigger than yourself, but you’ve got to make the decision to get into the game if you are going to make a difference. In the words of Jackie Robinson…

Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.

In 1997, amidst much fanfare, Jackie Robinson’s number 42 was retired from major league baseball.

When eternity looks back on the race you have run, will your number be retired?

Will you fight the good fight of faith?

Will the sound of your accomplishments echo through eternity?

Will you hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant“?

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.

Radicals, Racism, or Righteousness: The Choice is Yours

Society is being turned on it’s ear, and we are being given a front-row seat.

I could sit here for days and decry the many ways in which our culture is losing it’s soul. I could catalogue the multiple symptoms that are evidence of the demise of towns and cities all over America.

I mean, think about this…

To steal an eagle’s egg in the U.S. carries a $10,000.00 fine, yet killing an unborn human is perfectly legal. Since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, if the same fine was imposed for the nearly 55 million abortions that have taken place since then, the cumulative monetary fine would be more than $545,596,150,000.00

Staying sexually pure is mocked, while sexual promiscuity is lauded as normal. While the acceptable age for “sex education” in our schools goes younger and younger, “abstinence education” is frowned upon and virtually ignored. Meanwhile, the out-of-wedlock birthrate in our nation is at a disastrous 40.7%.

To speak out against homosexual activity is viewed as more reprehensible than the activity itself.

Time and time again, the national media is caught in the act of “creating news” instead of “reporting news”.

The city of Detroit is now in the process of filing bankruptcy. Political corruption and out-of-control crime are being blamed as two of the contributing factors in the city’s demise.

While the country was focused on the George Zimmerman trial in Florida, the murder statistics in cities like Chicago continued to skyrocket — virtually ignored.

So what do we do? How do we as Christians respond to such overwhelming bad news? How do we stand against the forces of dishonesty, corruption, and division that would tear our country apart?

Righteousness.

Now you say, “Pastor, that sounds a little simplistic and naive.” Maybe it does, but the fact is that truth is not a difficult concept. Regardless of how complicated we try to make things, the best way is, in most cases, the simplest. Throughout history, the most popular ideas and inventions are often the most practical ones. The problems that most people have with Scripture are not based on the doctrines of Scripture, but on our own personal hangups…

  • We have an aversion to calling sin by its proper name: SIN. Because of political correctness and fear of the “thought police”, we suffer from a lost consciousness of evil, and confusion over right and wrong. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that…

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

So the question becomes: Are you eating the wholesome and delectable fruit of righteousness and truth, or the poisonous, rancid, spoiled fruit of “conventional wisdom” and “popular opinion”.

  • There’s an old saying: “If you don’t stand for anything, you’ll fall for everything”. Truth is not subjective. Truth does not change. The consequence of standing in front of a speeding train is certain death, regardless of how much you disagree with the laws of physics. The consequence of breaking the laws of God is spiritual death, regardless of how much man ignores, defies, or denies Him.
  • There is an immutable fact in nature: “You reap what you sow”. The Bible is very clear in Galatians 6:7-8:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

No society can long survive lawlessness and corruption. Any civilization that forsakes righteousness and truth is not long for the world. As President Ronald Reagan once said..

“If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be one nation gone under.”

  • God didn’t call us to be a “white church” or a “black church” — He called us to be “THE Church”. We cannot begin to expect to change a culture that is (sadly) so racially divided until we break down the walls that divide us in within the family of God. In the Bible, the primary racial divide was between the Jew and the Gentile. Paul addressed that divide in Ephesians when he said:

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:14-18

We don’t need a culture of more “open-mindedness”… we need a culture of Godly righteousness.

We don’t need more “gun control”… we need more “self control”.

We don’t need leaders who will prove themselves once they get into public office… we need servants who have already proven themselves in order to get into public office.

We don’t need more programs for fatherless children… we need more “real men” who will honor women, and make them wives before they make them mothers.

If we are still bound and determined to be a “colored church”, then let’s be the “Crimson Church” — covered by the crimson blood of the One who died to make us all one in Him.

Join me at Abba’s House this Sunday as I talk about Righteousness as I continue my series “Seven Words that Work Wonders”. If you can’t be there, click here to watch us online.