Tag Archives: forgiveness

All Lives Matter. Period. Including Police.

A Re-Post

The following is a re-post of something I wrote not long ago. The reason for re-posting it should be obvious – multiple Dallas, Texas police officers shot and killed tonight (July 7th, 2016) at a Black Lives Matter demonstration.

From NBCnews.com. Dallas Police swarm city looking for snipers.

More deaths of blacks have happened at the hands of police in the last day or two, and that is horrible. It’s horrible on several levels, not just that cops killed blacks, but that people, whatever the color, were killed. It’s horrible because even if the police did something wrong, activist groups are rising up and calling for civil chaos and blaming ALL police for atrocities. It’s horrible because we don’t know the whole story behind any of these deaths, because even when information is available, the hate in the black community has already assumed to be judge, jury, and now…from roof tops in Dallas…some have become executioner.

Folks, hate the police all you want, but try to go a week without any on the streets and see what happens. Go to the places where cops fear to tread and look at the quality of life. BLUE LIVES MATTER, too!

Because ALL LIVES MATTER!

So, here’s my previous post, and it’s never been more timely. You might also like to go to the sermon archives page and listen to a message I preached back in September of 2015. The idea there was that all lives matter, and the proof is John 3:16.


A Prayer

Lord, please help me. Help me, dear God, to say, or rather write, something profitable, something worth reading on this most difficult topic of race.

I need wisdom. I need guidance. May my words contribute to healing, not hate.

My Thoughts

I have not been writing as much as I would like, but I felt it necessary to take a few moments to address the whole idea around the rallying cry of “Black Lives Matter.”

Folks, being that I am not black, brown, or transgender (somehow gender has been added to the mix – just check out the website), I admit there are things I don’t understand. But there is one thing I do understand, and my race has nothing to do with this truth: ALL lives matter, not just ones with a particular color or sexual preference.

Let me reiterate. ALL LIVES MATTER.

Yes, I said it, and I will not back down. Why? Because to do so would be un-biblical and un-Christlike. Regardless how one might want to politicize the issue, as a follower of Jesus, as one who believes God made all mankind in His image, I must stand firmly on Truth, not catchphrases.

Racism is wrong. Bigotry is wrong. And taking a statement that excludes the inherent value of all human life as your mantra is also wrong.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I would not have agreed on several things, particularly in areas of theology and what is called the “social gospel.” Nevertheless, I believe Dr. King and I would have seen eye-to-eye regarding the “Black Lives Matter” thing. He would have said, “NO! NO! NO!” to all the violence and hatred. I believe he would be heartbroken at all the calls for unrest. He would certainly be ashamed of those who have used race as a tool for their own gain. Was it not Dr. King who envisioned a “color-blind” society?

If a person can’t say that “all lives matter” in public without being condemned, without being forced to apologize, then what does that say about the lives of others? What about my family? What about the Asian family down the road? Or the Indian woman that walks down the street with her husband and son? What about the Native American?

I guess one could argue the phrase is only meant to bring attention to the plight of the black community in America. One could also argue that by saying “all lives matter” one is, in a way, saying racism in America doesn’t exist. Possibly. But that’s a matter of opinion.

The truth is that black lives do matter, but so do white lives, brown lives, yellow lives, and red lives; “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” The proof was when Jesus offered Himself as a ransom so that every tribe and nation could be reconciled with God.

All lives matter. Period.

 

 

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Filed under America, current events, General Observations, Life/Death

Crimson-Colored Mercy

Don’t ask me why He loved me so; I’ll never understand.

He picked me up and held me close with a gentle nail-scarred hand.

He suffered what was meant for me and after all I put Him through,

Told His Father I was “worth the nails“!

It’s amazing, but it’s true!

With crimson-colored mercy He washed away my shame.

Worthless and unworthy, a broken life He made brand new.

But before He changed a think, He loved me anyway!

It’s amazing, but it’s true!

 

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

 

 – adapted from “It’s Amazing, But It’s True,” by Anthony C. Baker

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, God, Love of God

From Regret to Radiance

No Regrets

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say of life, “I have no regrets.” It amazes me, for I don’t see how it’s possible. How can one look back on one’s life and find nothing regretful?

To be honest, the only people I’ve encountered who actually said that were people who were unwilling to admit they’ve ever done anything wrong. They are the type of people who, when confronted with some wrongdoing which caused pain in others, refuse to accept any responsibility. Therefore, I believe the person who says he has “no regrets” is either lying or in denial.

Many Regrets

Look, I’m not perfect. I’ve done a lot of things I regret. I’ve broken things, lost things, wasted things, and hurt things. I’ve wounded hearts, scarred lives, and wasted ungodly amounts of irreplaceable time.

Photo credit: Katie Baker

Photo credit: Katie Baker

Besides the things I’ve done, there’s also the things I didn’t do. For example, I could have told my dad I loved him the day he died instead of storming out of the house and speeding away.

I could have walked away from that relationship before our hearts were broken and our innocence lost.

And speaking of lost, I could shared Jesus with those people before they went out into eternity. But I didn’t, and I regret it.

Moving On

Every once in awhile my past creeps back into my mind, bringing with it the pain of regret. There has even been times when I could echo the words of David when he said:

“I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.” – Psalm 6:6 NLT

But like King David, I’ve had to move on. After being judged by God for his sin, David wrote in Psalm 51:8, “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice!” (ESV). He begged God for forgiveness, then he accepted it. We must learn to to do the same.

When we fail to accept God’s unmerited grace, we not only waste away (2 Corinthians 7:10), but we open ourselves up to the Enemy’s attacks (1 Peter 5:8). And in case you haven’t noticed, Satan is always ready to attack where we are weak.

Press On

I know it’s hard to do, but we must do even more than move on – we must “press on.”

“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

When those painful regrets come to mind, don’t let depression hold you back and weigh you down – press on! Be tough, push the past aside, be disciplined, and press on toward what lies ahead.

Be Radiant

God saw our future, along with our past, when He purchased us with His blood. Therefore, what He has forgiven we must also forgive, and that includes forgiving ourselves. Accept that the past happened, but learn from it and rest in the grace of God.

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” – Psalm 34:4-5 ESV

Turn your regrets over to the God of mercy and grace and quit living in shame. He can work miracles with broken things, including your past. You survived for a reason.

You have a hope this darkened world needs to see, so don’t be regretful; be RADIANT! 

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Filed under Depression, self-worth

Is Your Christianity a Sham?

Adorable Sin

It may come as a shock to some, but many who claim to be Christians are not, actually. It is obvious because of their unrepentant love of sin.

For example, I know a person who willfully admits his failures and flaws (which is a good thing), but happily continues to do the very things he knows are wrong. He says, “I know I have a problem with (blank), but I know I’ll never change, so I’ll just have to keep asking for forgiveness.” In reality, the problem is that he loves his sin, and therefore refuses to truly repent and “turn from his wicked ways.” His particular sin is his claim to fame, his identity. Without it, he wouldn’t be noticed.

Am I suggesting that Christians NEVER sin? Of course not! The Bible plainly tells us that if we say we never sin, “we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Furthermore, just two verses later the Apostle John declares that if we say have have no sin we make God a liar!

But what about 1 John 5:18? Does it not clearly state that “whosoever is born of God sinneth not?” Yes, in the Authorized Version it does. However, the NIV renders the first part of 1 John 5:18 as: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin [emphasis added]…” Similarly, the NLT says that someone who is born of God (a Christian) does not “make a practice of sinning…

No, I’m not saying Christians never sin. What I am saying is that if you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, sin may happen, but it’s not what you’re known for. What is being expressed here is the idea of continual, habitual sin – the kind one has no desire to change and even brags about it.

Advice for the Soul

depressorsMy advice to you, dear reader, is that you take a moment and conduct a spiritual self-examination.

David prayed, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart” (Psalm 26:2). The Apostle Paul even urged church members to “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine” (2 Corinthians 13:5a NLT).

The hard, cold truth is that when one claims to be a believer, a Christian, yet habitually, characteristically, and proudly continues in the practice of a particular, obvious sin, his salvation/conversion/Christianity is most likely a sham.

Christianity is not just a label one wears, but a change that is made, both initially and on-going, in the life of the believer. Sin may happen, but when it does, a sorrowful and repentant heart is the result.

Please understand, I only wrote these things “that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:4). 

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Filed under Christian Living, salvation

All Lives Matter. Period.

A Prayer

Lord, please help me. Help me, dear God, to say, or rather write, something profitable, something worth reading on this most difficult topic of race.

I need wisdom. I need guidance. May my words contribute to healing, not hate.

 

My Thoughts

I have not been writing as much as I would like, but I felt it necessary to take a few moments to address the whole idea around the rallying cry of “Black Lives Matter.”

Folks, being that I am not black, brown, or transgender (somehow gender has been added to the mix – just check out the website), I admit there are things I don’t understand. But there is one thing I do understand, and my race has nothing to do with this truth: ALL lives matter, not just ones with a particular color or sexual preference.

Let me reiterate. ALL LIVES MATTER.

Yes, I said it, and I will not back down. Why? Because to do so would be un-biblical and un-Christlike. Regardless how one might want to politicize the issue, as a follower of Jesus, as one who believes God made all mankind in His image, I must stand firmly on Truth, not catchphrases.

Racism is wrong. Bigotry is wrong. And taking a statement that excludes the inherent value of all human life as your mantra is also wrong.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I would not have agreed on several things, particularly in areas of theology and what is called the “social gospel.” Nevertheless, I believe Dr. King and I would have seen eye-to-eye regarding the “Black Lives Matter” thing. He would have said, “NO! NO! NO!” to all the violence and hatred. I believe he would be heartbroken at all the calls for unrest. He would certainly be ashamed of those who have used race as a tool for their own gain. Was it not Dr. King who envisioned a “color-blind” society?

If a person can’t say that “all lives matter” in public without being condemned, without being forced to apologize, then what does that say about the lives of others? What about my family? What about the Asian family down the road? Or the Indian woman that walks down the street with her husband and son? What about the Native American?

I guess one could argue the phrase is only meant to bring attention to the plight of the black community in America. One could also argue that by saying “all lives matter” one is, in a way, saying racism in America doesn’t exist. Possibly. But that’s a matter of opinion.

The truth is that black lives do matter, but so do white lives, brown lives, yellow lives, and red lives; red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. The proof was when Jesus offered Himself as a ransom so that every tribe and nation could be reconciled with God.

By the way, the majority of aborted babies are black. Do their lives matter? Jesus loves them, too.

All lives matter. Period.


UPDATE: This post has done nothing but depress me.  I regret writing it. 

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Charleston On My Mind

As I sit down to write this, I don’t really know what I am going to say, other than what is on my heart. If I can get it out into words that make sense and don’t confuse anyone, that’s all I can hope for.

First of all, one of my daughters and her husband live in Charleston, South Carolina. As a matter of fact, I was just there last week and plan to return not too long from now. It is a beautiful, historic city. It is certainly worth a long visit.

Secondly, I want to visit Emanuel AME Church when I return to Charleston in a week or so. I want to go to the place where so much attention is being directed and pray for peace.

What is truly disheartening is all the hate I continue to read on Facebook. The hate is coming from from all directions, but much is being aimed at white people, like Dylann Roof is supposed to be the spokesman (and gunman) for Caucasians everywhere. Where do people get all this nonsense? One common suggestion from angry blacks is that they should arm themselves and rise up against white America. Like THAT is the answer! It’s a wrong answer to a false perception that is perpetuated in the minds of those who are as racist as the killer being condemned!

The fact is that what Dylann Roof did was horrible, but it wasn’t the first time people were killed in a church – and it won’t be the last. It wasn’t the first time a white man killed black people – and it won’t be the last. It wasn’t the first time a deranged and evil-filled tool of Satan murdered innocent people – and it won’t be the last. But to suggest that an entire race hates another and that the evidence is the actions of one man? Well, that is nothing more than an excuse for perpetuating existing hatred and racism from a different direction.

The best and most disarming response I have heard, so far, came from Anthony Thompson, the son of slain Myra Thompson (59), as he spoke to the killer himself…

“I forgive you. But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent, confess, give your life to the one who matters most: Christ. So that he can change it, can change your ways no matter what happened to you and you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than what you are right now.”

Some have jumped into the fray and asked, “Where was God in all this?” Those who ask that question evidently know little about the God Anthony Thompson worships. They know little about eternal things, and ways higher than their own. They assume that if God was real He must stop all acts of violence; all crimes; any and all sin. They forget that it is by God’s grace they live and breathe, even when they commit murder in their own hearts when they hate. They ignore the fact that love is never more on display than when back-dropped by hatred.

What we saw in Charleston was the result of hatred and ignorance, of evil, blinding the heart and mind of one who was deceived and used by the Enemy of righteousness, and he acted of his own free will. But what we are also seeing are those whose faith is more than words; those whose love is more than a feeling; and evidence of lives truly changed by a God who was there all the time, able to take what was meant for evil and turn it into good.

Now, while I am still putting my thoughts out here for the world to see, let me say something else. Had someone else in that church been armed, Dylann Roof may not have had the opportunity to do as much damage, at least not reload multiple times. I am all for having individuals in my church who are armed and ready for any such threat. We have to be, for things like this have happened before – in white churches, too – and they will continue to happen as long as men hate righteousness.

You may be asking, “But Pastor, how could you endorse carrying a weapon and possibly killing someone?” The answer is really very simple, I think. You see, I am a shepherd of sheep, and a shepherd is charged with the sheep’s protection. If a wolf were to walk into the fold and try to harm my sheep, I would dispatch it. Should a man walk into my church and try to kill my people, my flock, then that man forfeits his status as a human and becomes an animal – I will dispatch him as I would the wolf. Forgiveness comes after the fight.

So, those are my thoughts for the moment. May God’s grace be with those affected by this tragedy in Charleston.

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Filed under America, current events, Faith, Life/Death, Struggles and Trials

Powerful Mercy

“The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.” – Proverbs 11:17

“I Pardon You”

As I thought about this verse, a scene from a movie came to mind. In Schindler’s List, the 1993 masterpiece by Steven Spielburg, two characters, Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth, discuss what should be done with Jewish prisoners.

Seeing that Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) was a cruel and sadistic concentration camp commander, Schindler (Liam Neeson) tries to convince him that the greatest exhibition of power is not in killing people, but pardoning them.

Schindler:  They fear us because we have the power to kill arbitrarily. A man commits a crime, he should know better. We have him killed and we feel pretty good about it. Or we kill him ourselves and we feel even better. That’s not power, though, that’s justice. That’s different than power. Power is when we have every justification to kill – and we don’t.

Goeth: You think that’s power.

Schindler: That’s what the emperors had. A man stole something, he’s brought in before the emperor, he throws himself down on the ground, he begs for mercy, he knows he’s going to die. And the emperor pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.

Goeth: I think you are drunk.

Schindler: That’s power, Amon. That is power. (Schindler gestures toward Goeth as a merciful emperor) Amon, the Good.

Later in the film, Goeth almost decides to not punish a young boy for not cleaning his bath tub well enough. Instead of beating him, he looks at the boy (remembering Schindler’s words), and says, “I pardon you.” The boy then runs outside as Goeth begings to stare into the mirror, pointing to himself like a Michelangelo painting, and repeating the words, “I pardon you.”

It was only a moment later that Goeth notices a stain on the bath tub. His anger boiled as he picked up his rifle and shot the boy who was now walking to his barracks.

Mercy is Medicine

Just the other day, even though I was broke, I gave the last $20 I had to a man and his wife who had nothing. I am not writing this in order to get a pat on the back, but in order to make a point. The point is that I had no problem sleeping that night. My kindness was a small sacrifice.

However, to show mercy to someone who has wronged you, to someone who has hurt you, can be a tremendous sacrifice. Showing mercy means you give up something, like justice, payback, and revenge. But, there is no greater salve to the soul than showing mercy to the one who least deserves it.

The cruel person feels justified for his actions. But cruelty, no matter how it is rationalized, whether it be towards man or beast, is an acid that eats away at the soul.

Are you suffering from the effects of bitterness? Are you troubled by your anger? There is a cure. It’s called mercy.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

I pray that those who are protesting and rioting would keep this in mind.

– from Proverbial Thought

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons