Tag Archives: Racism

Five Years Later: Are We STILL Strong? (Remembering terror in Chattanooga)

Five years ago, today, a man drove around in his convertible Mustang and shot up my hometown. His goal was to kill as many servicemen as possible, so first he drove by the recruiting office on Lee Highway and unleashed a hail of bullets into the glass-fronted building. The “No Weapons” sticker applied to both serviceman and citizen alike, so no one was able to stop him before he drove off.

Photo credit: The Telegraph, UK

I stood here and wept as I took this picture. Note the green marks where spent shell casings lay.

The next place he went to was the Marine Corp/Navy Reserve training facility on Amnicola Highway, right between the community college so many of us have attended (where my youngest daughter will attend this year) and the riverfront bike trails and pavilions so many of us have enjoyed.

There the Muslim terrorist – for that is what he was, and that is what he intended on being – once again began firing on unarmed Marines and sailors with his high-powered semi-automatic rifle. At least one Marine had unofficially brought his personal sidearm with him that day and tried to stop the terrorist, but to no avail. Before long four Marines lay dead.

(Left to Right) Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, and Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells

A Navy sailor would later succumb to his wounds.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith

The local police in Chattanooga sped to the location where the terrorist was committing murder and engaged him with their own weapons.

Bullets from the conflict left holes in buildings as far away as the Coca-Cola offices across the highway and not even in view of the firefight. But before long, the self-proclaimed jihadist lay dead, too.

But Chattanooga survived.

Within the hour my city was the focus of world-wide attention. Terrorism had come to the South, and it was worth noting.

But what was also worth noting was the righteous indignation of our citizens, and the flickering flames that dared the enemy of freedom to fan us into a raging fire! We were shocked by what happened, but we were far from terrorized; we Tennesseans aren’t the type to retreat from a fight!

It wasn’t long before the first American flags started appearing at the two places where gunfire was exchanged.

In no time there were hundreds, and then there were thousands. Flags and mementos too numerable to count turned into defiant monuments to those who died protecting our freedom.

Tents were erected to shelter the thousands upon thousands of flags, letters, and memorabilia from the weather.

It wasn’t long before black, white, and every other color and faith united arm-in-arm as family, as Chattanoogans… as Americans.

In short, terror didn’t have it’s desired effect; it had the opposite!

……………………..

Skip forward 5 years. What happened to the unity?

Unfortunately, we are now divided more than ever. What the terrorist couldn’t do with his guns, politicians and the media, with weapons of jealousy, anger, lies, and hate, are succeeding.

Racism and accusations of racism, the erasing of our history by those with no understanding of history, and constant fear and suspicion over the spread of a virus are shattering our Union. Unconquerable from without, we are being destroyed from within.

Chattanooga, are you still strong?

Then let us come together once again as Americans, or else the “fallen five” will have fallen in vain.

#Noogastrong, #Chattanoogastrong

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Time to Exercise My 1st Amendment Right: I Will Tell You What I Believe

Unacceptable Fear

This morning, after I typed the name of the title and the heading just above, I took the picture you see: that of my laptop, a “Keep America Great” hat, and a painting called “Blue Tears” (one I did in honor of fallen police officers – just those who died in the line of duty by gunfire last year).

On this day, the day we celebrate the birth of this great nation, The United States of America, I decided to lay all my patriotic cards on the table, and then some. Hence, the picture of a pro-Trump (and pro-America) hat, along with an artistic statement of support for Law Enforcement (Police).

Unfortunately, because of the incredible threats of intimidation and backlash, along with the literal danger of physical harm, I have never posted a picture of this hat. But today, because I do not want to live in shame or fear, I will claim my right to tell you exactly what I believe with regard to this country.

Fear is unacceptable. Silence in the face of intimidation is cowardice.

What I Believe About . . .

Jesus

He was a literal, historic figure who was God incarnate, yet with a human nature. After being born of a virgin, He lived a sinless life as the “second Adam” and Lamb of God who would be crucified for the sins of mankind.  He is alive, today, after resurrecting from the dead in accordance with prophesy and His own promises. According to John 14:6, there is no other way to eternal life than through Him: the historically verifiable person who walked the shores of Galilee 2000 years ago and shed His own blood as a ransom and for an atonement that no other man past, present, or future could accomplish.

The cross of Christ is the answer for every problem in the world today. The gospel is the most important message we can share with every man, woman, boy, and girl in the world. And it is this gospel of Jesus Christ, as displayed in the inerrant, infallible Word of God, which is the same “good news” to every culture, every tribe, and ever person on earth, regardless of color or country.

But beyond that…

Police

There are far more good cops that bad ones. More people die every day from medical malpractice than all police acts of violence combined. Anyone marching in the streets calling for the end of hospitals? Every man and woman who put on an the uniform and shield (badge) deserve respect and honor until they do something to deserve otherwise. I #backtheblue.

Defunding Police.

I personally think this is one of the most ignorant and stupid suggestions of all time. Those who support this idea are about as bright and mature as the 4-year-old who thinks he’d be better off on his own without parents to keep him out of the cookie jar.

Black Lives Matter

Of course they do! And, to make it clear, I understand that for many what this means is that “black lives matter, TOO,” just as much as everyone else.

But when it comes to the Black Lives Matter organization founded by self-proclaimed “radicals” Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, I believe it is an anti-American, anti-nuclear family, danger to American and Western society, particularly the very freedoms every color of American fought and died for. I also believe the whole premise of this organization is built on the false narrative of “systematic and institutionally-sanctioned racism.”

President Donald J. Trump 

I didn’t vote for him in the primary election – I voted for Ted Cruz. However, I did vote for him over Hillary Clinton in the general election. Faced with the choice between what each promised they would do if elected, I knew I could not support Clinton.

President Donald Trump is NOT the greatest danger to American civilization and the safety of the world. For that honor all you need to do is look at those who topple monuments to historic figures who fought against slavery while supposedly protesting those who supported slavery.

Uninformed fools will cut off the very branch of the tree that supports them.

Hating 45 (Trump Derangement Syndrome)

Let’s be honest, folks. If you hate President Trump, it’s probably because you are either pro-abortion, hate any restriction to your sexual autonomy, want to silence any religious voice who disagrees with your sexual proclivities, or you simply believe the constant twisting by the main-stream media and radical-left celebrities who fear their sexual autonomy might be limited.  On the other hand, maybe you were so invested in electing the first woman president that the shock of losing broke your brain.

Grand Funerals

Being buried in a Bronze Promethean casket from Batesville ($24,000 min.) doesn’t make you a good person or erase the fact that poor decisions can have catastrophic consequences.

Confederate Monuments

Ironically, those who call for the removal of these monument are supported by the very Democrat party to which those who supported segregation and racism belonged. If they insist on tearing down Confederate monuments, then they should certainly include Democrat icons such as Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who interned Japanese Americans in camps), Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson (who used the n-word more often than “Jesus Christ”), and Sen. Robert C. Byrd (form Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan).

But truth be told, it’s not about racism or trying to erase a painful past; it’s about erasing and eradicating who we are as a nation and replacing it with something radical, oppressive, atheistic, and Marxist.

Racism

How do I define racism? Well, I believe racism is the belief that one particular “race” is either superior or inferior to another. What racism is NOT is the preference of one ethnic culture over another. It is NOT racist to be inclined to the characteristics of one ethnicity over another. Racial profiling is NOT racist if it is based on statistics, especially when the overall benefit to the profiling will positively affect every ethnicity.

Racism is sinful, unbiblical, and an affront to the very nature of our Creator God. Having “prejudices” for or against particular cultural norms is NOT being racist; it’s showing preference. However, you can be a racist and be prejudiced at the same time, but it should not be assumed that one is automatically a racist if he/she has certain prejudices. For example, I married a white woman because I am white and preferred (had a prejudice toward) women who have the same skin color and cultural customs as myself. That was not a “racist” choice.

It is NOT racist to note our physical differences, either. Just as long as our physical differences are not used as an argument to suggest that one “race” is inherently better than another. God has designed each of us, and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging the fact that we are not all physically the same. It is wrong, however, to suggest that one color of human should be subjugated to another, for we are ALL equal before God.

Gun Violence and Guns

The old adage is still true: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Anti-gun laws (which are in opposition to our 2nd amendment to the Constitution) do nothing to change the heart that pulls the trigger. That same heart can thrust a blade or swing a club.

“When was America ever great?”

When it acknowledged the right you have to publicly ask a stupid and uninformed question without fear of government retribution.

“America, America, God shed His grace on thee! And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”

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Social Lockjaw and the Need for Cleansing Truth

Image may contain: Anthony C. Baker, sitting, eating and outdoor

Discussing the wonders of an ice cream cone with my granddaughter, Emma Louise.

Can We Talk? 

Do you remember Joan Rivers? That’s what she used to ask in her comedy routines. “Can we talk?” was her way of segueing into something off-color (can I say that?), a little risque, or otherwise uncomfortable.

Can we talk?

You see, one of the deadliest viruses going around these days has nothing to do with COVID-19. It’s a virus that could be called “Social Lockjaw.”

People are too afraid to have honest and open conversations. People are afraid, regardless their opinions, to open their mouths.

Interestingly, the causes and symptoms of Social Lockjaw are eerily similar to actual Lockjaw (i.e., Tetanus).

Tetanus (Lockjaw) is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition brought about when spores from a particular bacteria inter the bloodstream after some form of intrusive injury. The bacteria is most common in rich soil and can enter the body and the nervous system through a puncture wound or cut (like stepping on a nail or getting dirt in an open wound).

Penicillin will kill the bacteria, but one of the most effective actions one can initially take to stave off infection is to immediately clean and rinse the wound with clean water.

Interestingly, there is a vaccine, but it only lasts so long. Therefore, a booster shot is needed every 10 years.

When Tetanus takes control of a body, one of the main symptoms is a tightening of the muscles in the neck and lower jaw, causing a person to be unable to open his mouth.

When people are harmed, and when the dirt of the world is left in a wound that is covered and never cleansed by the pure water of Truth, death is likely to occur, if not silence.

And, ironically, those who have been inoculated in the past and have dealt successfully with past wounds, even they must be re-inoculated with the vaccine of Truth on a regular basis.

Bullying and Intimidation

Wounds come from all kinds of sources. The wounds of racism (personal and institutional) have lingered for generations, and the spores of the bacteria that kills will always linger in the soil. Those wounds must be opened in order to be cleansed, and some of that, unfortunately, is happening right now.

But other wounds come about by blunt force trauma, such as with bullying and intimidation, allowing the bacteria resentment and bitterness to be mixed with fear, thereby making it more difficult to cleanse. But the washing of the wound with Truth is desperately needed. Without it, the wounded will never open their mouths and the disease will win.

The absolute worse thing that any side of any argument can do is be allowed to be beaten down and silenced. Social Lockjaw is not the answer: it’s the symptom of a deadly illness.

The now normal bullying and intimidation by those of the Left-wing are shaming the rest of society into timidity and Lockjaw as they accomplish their goals through forced compliance. And the more we allow the pokes, the jabs, the unchecked piercing accusations, and the raised-fisted blows to all things civil, the more severe the symptoms of Social Lockjaw will become.

Unless we cleanse our wounds with Truth… unless we wash away the bacteria of fear and self-loathing from the puncture wounds of the past, the life of our society will be suffocated by our own closed mouths.

If you know the Truth, then you have every right and responsibility to speak it.  Or, die in silence.

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Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

It’s Time for Boldness

Dear friends, now, maybe more now than ever, it is time for those who know the Truth to be bold as lions.

I will not argue over perspectives, for each has his own. I will not sit here and pontificate over another’s life experiences and what fears they have, for each has their own.

However, it is my RESPONSIBILITY to speak out when doctrine, theology, especially the doctrines of Jesus Christ are being attacked and polluted without rebuttal. Folks, the words of Paul to Timothy are just as true today as they were 2,000 years ago.

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” – 1 Timothy 4:16

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” – 2 Timothy 4:2

So, when the head of the BLM of Greater New York says on national television that Jesus was “…the most famous black radical revolutionary in history…” and uses that false teaching to justify violence, it’s time we say condemn the torpedoes and go full speed ahead.

Bad Theology/Bad Praxeology 

Praxeology is the “study of human action and conduct.” What we see being carried out in the streets of America is conduct based on bad theology and fueled by bad Christology (theological interpretation of the person and work of Christ).

I am firmly convinced that our actions as humans, especially how we treat others or respond to their actions towards us, can be traced back to our theological, especially our Christological beliefs – whether we think we have any or not.

As pastors, there can be no greater responsibility than to boldly and unapologetically proclaim the biblical and historical Jesus Christ of Nazareth, His true mission, and our dependency on His atoning work on the Cross.

“Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am?” 

That’s the question asked by Jesus of his disciples. The answer Peter gave was, “Thou are the the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

That is what the following sermon I delivered this past Sunday morning was about. I would encourage you to watch and share.

“Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?”

I do apologize for the less-than-HD quality. The internet where we are is so slow that we have to upload at 520p in order to get anything done the same day. We pray for fiber optics!

 

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Filed under America, Bethlehem Baptist Church, General Observations, Jesus, Preaching, Southern Baptist

I Was Keeping a Covenant Before BLM Was Cool

24-plus Year Ago…

I was a new pastor. I hadn’t even been ordained a year. Yet, I had the opportunity to attend a once-in-a-lifetime historical event, the 1996 Promise Keepers Clergy Conference held in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Maybe you remember when Promise Keepers was a big thing. There were a lot of positive aspects with the organization and goals, and certainly some negatives. But this conference was specifically held for pastors, and over 39,000 came from all over the country, even the world, to attend this 3-day event.

I still remember the breaks in between sessions when men would do one of two things: go to the bathroom or stand in line to call home on a pay phone. I was one of only a few that actually had a cell phone! The lines to the phones were longer than the ones to go pee!

Confession and Forgiveness

Nearly 25 years ago, there I was with pastors of every skin color and from all kinds of Christian denominations. For many like me, it was the first time ever attending an event of this magnitude. But it was also the first time I’d ever interacted with people who weren’t Baptist, or at least Church of God. And, above all, it was the first time for me to be around that many black preachers!

Oh, but there were pastors there, like I said, from every “race.” Literally, it was like “every tribe and nation” was represented at some point. There were even 200 Native American pastors present who’d – no joke – walked from reservations in the West just to attend this conference!

But one of the highlights of the conference was when an unscripted time of tearful, heartfelt confession was begun by Dr. Jack Hayford. At one point, while standing on stage weeping in front of these 40,000 men, he preceded to say the following (to the best of my memory):

“I want to confess my own sin of racism and soft bigotry. Yes, I am guilty. No, I never treated anyone of color differently in public, but there were times when in my heart I did. There were times when I could have driven through your parts of town, but I chose to take a different route. Did I think I was too good to drive through your communities? Down your street? I don’t know. But I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to face it. I wanted to ignore you and pretend you weren’t there.” [paraphrased from memory]

It’s been over 24 years, and there is no video and only a few pictures still around of this event. Therefore my memory of the details of when what happened is foggy. But what I do remember very distinctly is WHAT happened, even if I can’t remember in what order.

But I believe it happened like this…

After Jack Hayford had bravely stood on stage confessing his sin of soft racism, Rev. Raleigh Washington walked on stage to comfort Dr. Hayford. It was then that Rev. Washington said something like the following:

My brothers, you have just heard the heart of a dear man of God. He just confessed his sin before you and God, and asked us to forgive him. But let me just say, it’s time to do more than accept the white man’s apology; it’s time we confess our own sin of bitterness! Of unforgiveness! It’s about time we start FORGIVING!” [paraphrased from memory]

What happened next was chilling. I am serious when I say that what happened next was not normal, not natural, and totally of the Holy Spirit. Literally, like every African-American black man in the Georgia Dome had been cued by some heavenly angel, a single, deep-throated, rumble of a voice spoke out in unison,

“WE FORGIVE!”

For a split second you could sense the shock and awe of what had just happened. Everyone instinctively knew what had just happened was of God. It was a miracle!

Then the dam broke.

Beginning with Jack Hayford, then Raleigh Washington, a representative of each people group came up on stage to confess and ask forgiveness for their own sins. To each one the auditorium replied with a rumbling “We forgive!”

Rev. Tom Claus, founder of Chief.org

Finally, wearing a the full headdress, Rev. Tom Claus walked onto the stage. The crowd of 40,000 drew quiet. Rev. Claus, a literal Mohawk Indian, began to spell out a grocery list of crimes and atrocities: the stolen land, broken treaties, and the bloodshed inflicted by the American government during the 1800’s.

He said, “If anybody in here has a right to be bitter, or to hate the white man, it is my people.” Who could argue?

But then, in what became the most emotional, so-thick-you-could-cut-it-with-a-knife moment, Rev. Tom Claus spoke words that would drive the modern Left completely off the cliff these days. He said,

“But, I forgive the white man. Because if it had not been for the white man, I would not know Jesus.[Yes, he really said that!]

Folks, nearly 25 years ago in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, I confessed and repented of any and every racist part of my life. I asked forgiveness. I was given forgiveness. And I, along with nearly 40,000 other pastors, covenanted with God and each other, with God’s grace, to never be the same.

How Much Is Enough?

Now, unfortunately, those who love to stir up contention and hate, for that is what they thrive on, are back at it. It doesn’t matter what one generation has done, they want to hold each and every consecutive generation guilty for the sins of their forefathers. Forgiveness is NOT an option.

They can say what they want to say about me, but despite what I used to be, God’s grace and the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed me. On top of that, He opened my eyes and my heart and gave me a love for my fellow man, regardless our differences.

There was a time in my young life when I asked a legitimate, however uninformed question: “Why did God make black people different?” I never got a good answer, so I believed the bad answers.

Yes, I used to be a racist. Yes, I used to think I was better than other people. Yes, I even tended to think that blacks needed whites to be pulled out of poverty, out of the jungles, and into civilized society. Yes, I stupidly used to think black people were that way because of the curse God put on Ham.

But NO MORE! 

Over 30 years ago, when I started attending my first classes in college, I started to see the flaws in my earlier thinking about race. But that only came when I started being around people who looked different from me. It was only then that it became clear that we were all the same.

By the time I went to the 1996 Clergy Conference, I had already determined to combat bigotry and racism (I had even invited a black professor of mine – Dr. Jay P. Trimble – to speak before my wedding). The Clergy Conference and the Atlanta Covenant only sealed the deal.

That is why I sorta seriously resent modern attempts by Marxists disguised as BLM to punish me for my “white privilege.” This is why I resent being bullied into confessing I’ve been a racist all along and now need to support activist groups and give them money to pass laws to silence my voice.

I AM NOT A RACIST, and I’VE ALREADY BEEN FORGIVEN! 

After the ’96 conference was over, everyone who was there who actually signed their name to the Atlanta Covenant, we all received a small copy of the original – the one signed by those who spoke at the conference.

I still have that copy framed and hanging on my office wall.

I have typed it out so you can read it for yourself.

 


Atlanta Covenant
Clergy ’96 Conference

Our great and awesome God, in Your sovereignty You have brought us as clergy to Atlanta. You have met and dealt with us in powerful ways, You have been faithful with all of Your promises and loving toward us in all ways. We now stand before You broken and humbled, called to shepherd and pastor Your Church, believing that You are willing and ready to give a fresh outpouring of Your Holy Spirit on Your Church. Our eyes are focused on Your only Son, Jesus Chris, the perfector and finisher of our faith.

We acknowledge, confess and repent before You, that although we may not be guilty of all that is stated below, we are prompted by godly sorrow to repent because we as clergy have sinned against You (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).

Therefore, we enter into this Atlanta Covenant with You and with each other.

  1. We covenant by God’s grace to honor Jesus Christ through worship, prayer and obedience to Your Word though the power of the Holy Spirit.
    • Where we have grown cold and distant in our communion with You, we wholeheartedly commit to pursue an ever-deepening relationship with You through worship and prayer. As You lead, we commit to fast and pray for revival or our own hearts, for our churches, and for the Church of Jesus Christ.
    • Where we have disobeyed you, we commit to be obedient to Your Word, regardless of the cost.
    • Where we have quenched Your Holy Spirit, we commit by God’s grace to keep in step with Your daily activity and leading.
  1. We covenant by God’s grace to pursue vital relationships with a few other clergymen, understanding that we need our brothers in ministry to help us keep this covenant.
    • Where we have resisted affirming, accountable relationships with other brothers, we commit to pray intentionally for these relationships and seek this support, never again to be a loner in ministry.
  1. We covenant by God’s grace to practice spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.
    • Where we have conformed to the world, we commit to place other gods before You no longer, the one true God.
    • Where we have excused our moral and sexual sin and been neither repentant nor broken, we now offer our bodies to You as living sacrifices and ask that You transform our minds and hearts by your Word and Your Spirit.
  1. We covenant by God’s grace to build strong marriages and families through love, protection, and biblical values.
    • Where we have neglected our homefronts as the first place of ministry, we covenant to recapture the hearts of our wives and children, by giving them the first priority in our prayers and schedules.
  1. We covenant and commit by God’s grace to Your calling to pastor Your people and to lead Your Church faithfully in fulfilling Your mission.
    • Where we have neglected our call, we wholeheartedly recommit ourselves to the ministry of prayer and the study of Your Word.
    • Where we have driven our people rather than led them, acting as if being a pastor was simply a job and not a holy calling, we commit and pray ardently and regularly with love for our flock, recognizing that You have called and place us in the church that we serve.
    • Where we have used our ministry as a platform for our personal gain, we repent and recommit ourselves to serving Your kingdom and the growth of Your people.
    • Where we have trusted yourselves and the programs of men, rather than seeking You and Your way, we commit to seek Your heart and direction for our churches.
    • Where we have lost confidence and passion in our preaching, we commit to feed Your people with Your Word faithfully and passionately.
  1. We covenant by God’s grace to reach beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity.
    • Where we ignored praying and working with fellow pastors of differing denominations and race, we commit to seek out clergy of differing denominations and races, intentionally pursuing relationships with them, praying and working together for the building of the Kingdom of God.
    • Where we who are Anglo have enjoyed the advantages that have come to us as a result of the teaching of white superiority against people of color, we confess this is as sin. With Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel, we confess the sins of our forefathers, who disobeyed Your Word and at times stole, killed, enslaved, broke treaties, demeaned and lied to people of color, we now acknowledge and confess this as sin against You and repent of our sin, trusting that it will lead us to reconciliation and restoration with our brothers in Christ. We now want to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before You; and we commit to learn so that we might teach and lead our people in the area of racial reconciliation.
    • Where we who are the clergy of color have become bitter and nonforgiving of our Anglo brothers, entertaining a spirit of retaliation and guarding our ministry against Anglo partnership, we acknowledge and confess our sin before You. Where we have not applied the principles of biblical reconciliation to other racial groups, we now acknowledge that this is sin against You and repent of our sin, trusting that it will lead us to reconciliation and restoration with our brothers in Christ. We now want to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before You; and we commit to learn, so that we might teach our people in the area of racial reconciliation.
  1. We covenant by God’s grace to influence our world, being obedient to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
    • Where Your church has lost its saltiness and light in our nation, we covenant to lead Your people to seek God’s face for the healing of our land.
    • Where we have lost Your vision to reach all people groups with Your amazing, saving grace, we covenant to give to others freely what You have given us.
    • Where we have strayed from the Gospel of Christ, we covenant to preach with renewed passion and conviction the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In total devotion to Christ as the Chief Shepherd of the Church, we commit ourselves to these things by the power of the Holy Spirit. To that end, we give our lives as clergy to pray, to prepare, and to minister for nothing less than a spiritual revival in Your Church, that Your body might increasingly become a bride without spot or wrinkle. We pray that together we might be brought to complete unity in You so that the world may know that You sent Your son, Jesus Christ, and that You love them as You love us (John 17:20-23). This this we pledge ourselves.

Those who were present and signed the Atlanta Covenant:

Bishop Phillip Porter, Bill McCartney, Randy Phillips, Henry Blackaby, David Bryant, Tom Claus, Tony Evans, Joseph Garlington, Jack Hayford, E.V. Hill, Max Lucado, John Maxwell, Bishop George McKinney, Jesse Miranda, James Ryle, Dale Schlafer, Joseph Stowell, Chuck Swindoll, Raleigh Washington, Glen Kehrein

 

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Racial Reconciliation: It Starts Like This – With Jesus

Today I had a beautiful and powerful conversation with a fellow pastor and fellow TBS (Temple Baptist Seminary) grad, Rev. Kenneth E. Ware of New Sholar Avenue Baptist Church, Chattanooga.

Below is a link to the conversation we had.

Your comments are welcome.

 

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Statements, Services, and Studies: A Whole Day’s Worth

It is Sunday evening in Georgia,

and all I can say is that I’m glad I’m not in Atlanta. However, I’ve got a daughter, a son-in-law, and a granddaughter in Charleston, SC, and it’s bad there, too.

Honestly, I’m furious and sickened by the senseless thuggery and domestic terrorism that’s spreading havoc across the country. There’s no excuse for it. None.

Well, I’ve written about the subject of the protests and riots, already. So, what I’m going to do tonight is share the video that was my day.

The first video is from Facebook. I hope you can view it. I went live this morning before the scheduled morning service that had been recorded earlier.

The second video is of the service prerecorded for airing at 11 a.m. Unfortunately, I got the date wrong! 😩

The last video is from tonight where I was live from Augusta, GA. Even though it was originally on Facebook Live, I uploaded it to YouTube.  In this study I taught from Acts 9 while sitting in a hotel lobby.

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Riots and Protests: My Opinion

Riots erupt in several US cities over Minnesota police killing of ...

Be forewarned, this is going to be a vent. 

What I am about to type out is not planned, nor will it be edited (except for obvious spelling and grammar – if I notice it). I’m just going to say what I believe and leave it at that.

What’s going on in Minneapolis is inexcusable. Was the death of George Floyd a tragedy that need not happen? Yes. Is there a culture of racial discrimination, targeting, and violence in the Minneapolis police department? I have no idea.

But let me tell you one thing, among others, that I DO know – and I know this from first-hand experience: Don’t trust the media to form your opinions for you by accepting their narrative as the gospel truth! If nothing else, try not to form an opinion anytime in the first few days after a news story. If you do, odds are you will find yourself walking back much of what you say.

Let’s be honest, folks. Does the news media really want peace in the streets? Do they really desire everyone to “just get along.” Umm, no. Heck, when ol’ Rodney King said those very words decades ago – “Can’t we all just get along?”(or however he actually said it) – he was mocked.

So, when the media curiously shows us 6 minutes of a black man being choked out by a white cop, while other videos exist over the last several years of other instances involving white victims, videos that have never been plastered over every media platform, why do we fall in line with the predictable outrage?

Fact #1: Face it people, you’re being used. 

Now, again, should something be done about policemen and the use of excessive force? Yes! Absolutely!

But here’s something most people these days won’t do anything about: The way they conduct themselves and taking responsibility for their own actions.

Fact #2: When you act the fool, expect trouble from the law.

Fact #3: Police officers are people who want to get home alive to their families far more than they want to listen to your complaints of abuse when YOU are the one who either threw the first punch or resisted a simple command.

In the case of George Floyd, has anyone stopped to ask whether or not he would have been detained on the ground had he not been under the influence of something and had he not resisted? Notice how these things are linked?

But what do we have going on now? Cities burning. Literally, police stations are burning. Places of business that have nothing to do with what happened are being looted and destroyed. And this is supposed to help matters?

Oh, yeah, so now investigations into the Minneapolis government and the way they treat minorities. And, you could add that this would not have happened had people not protested… or, should we say, rioted and vented their frustration while taking advantage of the situation to fulfill their own lusts by stealing and breaking things?

Fact #4: Most rioters have no idea why they are rioting; they are more concerned about missing out on a “five-finger discount.”

Last night I went live on my personal Facebook page. I was on there for an hour discussing the whole idea of rioting. Specifically, was it biblical, was it Christian, for people to go around doing what they were/are doing?

My answer, plain and simple: NO.

Fact #5: Destructive protests and riots are not biblical; rather, they are antithetical to the cause of Christ and His commands.

“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21 

You cannot parse the above scripture enough . . . you can’t rationalize it away . . . there is nothing in the way riots are conducted that can be condoned by the above verses.

Fact #6: Rioters are being overcome by evil in their loose attempts at bringing about good.

In other words, if they are not overcoming the evil of racism and bigotry with good, then their intentions, however noble, are being overcome by the very evil for which they riot, therefore they only perpetuate the darkness in which they try to shine light.

Those are my thoughts and my opinions.

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Filed under America, Christian Maturity, community, current events

Less Labels; More Grace (Are You A Racist?)

First, a Dog Story

George and I in Walmart. He’s the world’s best conversation starter 😉

I have the sweetest, cutest, snuggliest, smartest, dog in the world. His name is George.

Before George came into my life, I had in mind the type of dog I wanted, and it wasn’t a big one; I wanted a Chorkie. I thought that’s what I got when I drove 2 hours into South Carolina to purchase him. At least that’s what I was told.

But this morning I was curious and did a little research. From what it appears, despite what the papers said, George looks a whole lot more like a long hair Chihuahua than a little boy dog who had a Yorkie daddy.  I think I was deceived.

So, through the course of conversation, one of our daughters asked me, “Are you OK with that?” With words of consolation, she then texted, “He has Yorkie coloring.” I replied, “Well, it’s not like I’m going to return him for a refund.”

Seriously, I have had this dog since August and have watched him grow, watched him learn, and felt my heart swell with affection. Do I get rid of him now because he might be a different breed than what I originally thought? Do I keep him because he might be the right color?

No! I love George! He’s part of our family.

Preference vs Prejudice

Folks, we show preferences all the time, and not only when it comes to selecting a particular dog bread we feel best meets our needs and desires. Preference is not a dirty word, nor a crime.

For example, I knew in advance of getting George that I did not want a German shepherd. I like German shepherds, but there’s no way I could keep one where we live – it would destroy the refinished hardwood floors! My preference was for a small, loyal, thinks-he’s-bigger-than-he-is little buddy, one that could meet me at the door without chewing it off the hinges.

Now, had I been offered a long-haired Chihuahua, I would have said “no.” Because of their typical “yappy” nature, their incessant shivering, and the whole “legally blond” thing, I preferred something more like a Yorkie (but Chorkies cost less). However, my prejudice (a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience) against owning a long hair Chihuahua proved unfounded. He is nothing like what I thought a long hair Chihuahua would be like.

“Breedism” and Racism

A pit bull bears it's teeth in this photo taken in New York City. A similar animal attacked a Michigan couple Sunday night, leaving them hospitalized with severe injuries.Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images

Credit: WHIO TV

But there are dogs I do not like – never have, never will. I do not like Dobermans, Rottweilers, or pit bulls. Actually, I can’t stand pit bulls. Frankly, I wouldn’t get too upset if you told me the whole breed had become extinct.

Honestly, not all pit bulls are bad dogs; some are very sweet. But in my personal opinion, none can be trusted and each one is a potential killer waiting to snap. You could, quite literally, call me a “breedist.” I think any other dog breed is better, despite any statistic or evidence to the contrary.

Racists and breedists are very much alike: Both hold prejudiced opinions of entire groups; they believe one group is inherently better than another; and no amount of logic or evidence can change their opinions.

Let’s look at some examples of what could be considered racist or breedist statements:

  • Never leave your pit bull alone with your child, not unless you want your child to die.
  • Never let your white daughter date a black boy, not unless you want her to get raped.
  • All dogs may go to heaven, but let one of those Rottweilers come in my yard and I’ll send it there.
  • Yes, God made all men in His image and Jesus died so all men could be saved, but if you bring in those black kids, don’t be surprised when things wind up missing.
  • See that big Doberman with the studded collar? He’s probably mean as the devil.
  • See that colored boy in the hoodie? He’s probably up to no good.

But now let’s look at some examples of what is NOT racism or breedism:

  • Ms. Brown was bit by a friend’s German shepherd several years ago. So bad was the bite that she required stitches to close the wound. Now, anytime she sees a German shepherd, a cold chill runs down her spine as she fights the urge to panic.
  • While at the counter paying for gas, a young African-American male in a blue hoodie stormed through the door and hit Mr. Jones with a bat, then robbed the store clerk before shooting him. Now, anytime Mr. Jones is approached by a black man in a hoodie he feels threatened.
  • The neighbor’s dog, a brindle-colored bull dog mix, often comes to our front door begging to come in and play with George. He’s a sweet dog, and he means no harm, but he doesn’t belong to us – he’s not our dog – and it won’t be two minutes before he “marks his territory” on our furniture. So, we say, “No!”, you can’t come in!
  • We should require better security at our nation’s borders so that people from other homes don’t waltz in through our front door like it was their own. We like invited guests, not assuming ones.

I’m tired of everybody throwing around the word “racist” when racism is rarely at play. For example, I’m NOT a breedist because I wanted a small dog more than a big dog (even though I was originally prejudiced against long hair Chihuahuas).

Also, because I pastor a church that’s attended by white people, I’m no more a racist than the pastor down the road who leads a black congregation. Where and how we prefer to worship should not be a necessary indicator of anything.

For the record, I do not believe I’m superior to anyone for any reason, including my skin color, my nationality, my sex, or my faith. I’m not a racist.

Who’s to Blame?

Yet when it comes to the fears or misconceptions we may have of each other, it might be a good idea to determine where all those prejudices are getting their start! Who promotes the stereotypes? Maybe it used to be where we grew up, but America is much more diverse and cross-cultured than it was back in the 1860’s and 1960’s.

Who regularly portrays negative images to sell a product? How many movies have you seen with cuddly pit bulls or Dobermans?How many Hollywood films have you seen where an innocent victim is attacked in a dark alley by three white guys wearing pastel-colored Izod’s? Many of the stereotypes that perpetuate prejudice are actually fueled by the same Hollywood studios that preach to us about bigotry and racism.

Check out this report: “What Hollywood movies do to perpetuate racial stereotypes.”

There’s always going to be the one who thinks himself superior to others, whether consciously or subconsciously, and much of that is going to be due to ignorance, not hate. For example, many early European missionaries to Africa felt their race was inherently superior to the “descendants of Cain,” yet they lovingly gave their lives to reach them with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

But much of what is labeled as “racism” today is, I believe, a manufactured commodity of the media culture; they create the fear, keep people ignorant, and feed off the perpetual misconceptions. The rest is nothing more than name-calling in order to shame, silence, or intimidate one’s political or social opponent.

Racism is wrong. Racism is a sin! But calling something a sin that’s not, in order to bring about a desired response by shaming people into fitting your personal template, whatever that may be, is nothing less than manipulative, tyrannical, cultural legalism.

So, why don’t we forgo all the name-calling and honestly get to the root issues that generate fear, distrust, and division. I’ve got a strong feeling most of us care more about each other than the other knows.

Less labels; more Grace.

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Filed under animals, Culture Wars, grace, legalism

Just Being Honest On Facebook (and now WordPress)

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I had some things to say live on Facebook.

But I do look funny without my glasses.

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Filed under America, Christian Living, Christian Unity, current events, General Observations