Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fire Starter Christians? What Spirit Are YOU of?

I came upon the following quote on the Charisma website the other day….spoken by Terry Bates, an Assemblies of God pastor.

'We need 'Fire Starters,' like Elijah, who will call fire down from heaven to confront the culture and false religions with undeniable, uncompromising truth and without political correctness. It was at this point that I began to see people getting up, walking out, shaking their heads." Terry Bates

Totally mirroring Jesus’ response when the disciples wanted to bring Elijah’s fire down on the Samaritan village for not welcoming them….

Samaritans Reject Jesus51 And it came to pass, in the completing of the days of his being taken up, that he fixed his face to go on to Jerusalem, 52 and he sent messengers before his face, and having gone on, they went into a village of Samaritans, to make ready for him, 53 and they did not receive him, because his face was going on to Jerusalem. 54 And his disciples James and John having seen, said, ‘Sir, wilt thou [that] we may command fire to come down from the heaven, and to consume them, as also Elijah did?’ 55 and having turned, he rebuked them, and said, ‘Ye have not known of what spirit ye are; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save;’ and they went on to another village.

And that just might be why people got up and walked out of his sermon. Jesus is our example, no? We need more peacemakers these days...not more firestarters.....

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Not Anti Cop. Not Anti Black.....

“You know, the hardest part of having a conversation surrounding police shootings in America, it always feels like in America, it’s like if you take a stand for something, you automatically are against something else. 

It’s either one or the other. With police shootings, it shouldn’t have to work that way. For instance, if you are pro black lives matter, you are assumed to be anti police. And if you are pro police, you surely hate black people.  

It seems like it's either pro-cop and anti-black, or pro-black and anti-cop, when in reality you can be pro-cop and pro-black, which is what we should all be. It is what we should be aiming for. You shouldn’t have to choose between the police and the citizens they are sworn to protect." Trevor Noah

Uh-huh, yes. That pretty much sums it up. I am not pro-black and anti-cop. I am not pro-cop and anti-black. I am anti perpetrators of violence.  I am pro black. I am pro cop.

To declare there is not an issue with the police abusing their power and authority….ever...or rarely..contradicts a shit load of evidence to the contrary. To declare all cops are corrupt and abusive equally misses the mark.

While I firmly believe that the majority of cops are good cops who deserve our support and admiration, there are bad ones too. And from what I’ve read, some of them are “swing votes.” Their behavior and ethics depend on their peers and the culture of their department.

On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with. Quote taken from a Vox article and attributed to K.L. Williams who trains police in the use of violence.

Does the problem stem from peer pressure, the desensitization of empathy caused by dealing with criminals and violence every day? I don’t know. There is a problem, though, and it seems that minorities get the brunt of it. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong color…wrong guy?

I’ve heard/read a lot of stuff about the shootings this past week or so. Conservatives vs liberals; both bandying about polar opposite views. Perhaps the single most impacting story of all for me emerged from the news conference with the medical team from Parkland Memorial Hospital. Particularly from an emotional Dr. Brian H. Williams. He was the trauma surgeon who tried to save the lives of the wounded Dallas police officers.

What makes his story unique is that he has one foot in both worlds. He is a respected doctor who deals with the police on a daily basis but also as an average everyday black guy in street clothes who fears the police.

"I will defend you and I will care for you," he said. "That doesn't mean that I do not fear you."

He's been stopped by police himself over the years and said he is mindful each time that he must act and speak in a way that doesn't seem threatening. He lives each time in fear that he could be killed. He sees the news about other black men killed by police.

In one traffic stop, he ended up "spread eagle" on the hood of the cruiser. In another, when he was stopped for speeding, he had to wait until a second officer arrived. Just a few years ago, he was stopped by an officer and questioned as he stood outside his apartment complex waiting for someone to pick him up and drive him to the airport.

He doesn't have such encounters every day but when he does, he's on his guard and, "I'm always just praying for the encounter to end."

He said this about the cops he couldn’t save…..

I think about it every day. That I was unable to save those cops when they came here that night," Williams said. "It weighs on my mind constantly. This killing. It has to stop. Black men dying and being forgotten. People retaliating against the people who were sworn to defend us. We have to come together and end all this.

Not anti cop. No anti black but rather anti perpetrators of violence.

Take a few minutes and watch the videos....HERE and HERE. They are very impacting.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mirror or Window? You Decide.....

This morning I followed a link on FB that led to an article on the Charisma website about Perry Noble, a prominent pastor of a Baptist megachurch, and his recent downfall/firing. He was fired for alcohol abuse and his posture toward his marriage…..whatever that means.

The parishioners of the megachurch heard the news on Sunday via Executive Pastor Shane Duffey. He also read Noble’s written statement explaining, among other things, that there was no sexual sin in his marriage, no porn, no cheating and no domestic abuse. The details of the marriage posture allegation is left to the imagination.  

So...the post on FB included a quote attributed to Noble stating that homosexuality was the sin that hung Jesus on a cross. That immediately pissed me off. What a pompous jerk. I went looking for the source of that quote to include in this blog post. Except that I can’t find it anywhere online. Oh to be sure, he thought homosexuality was a sin...a sexual sin...but that the church's preoccupation with homosexuality was out of proportion and unkind.  On his blog, I came across what I think is a particularly ballsy post where he compares the sin of homosexuality to a sin the church is reluctant to talk about….obesity aka gluttony.

Bring that up to an overweight brother or sister in Christ at the next covered dish pot luck and see how graciously your "truth in love" concern is received.

I was not familiar with Perry Noble until this morning. I've never heard his name. What I know now is the result of about an hour of clicking and reading here and there on the internet. I really have no idea what kind of a person he is, his opinions on total reconciliation, divorce, complementarianism, free will, women in leadership roles, etc. I can assume things from what I’ve read but I am not familiar with his preaching or writing. He doesn’t really come off as a pompous jerk in anything I’ve read this morning.

And anyway, similar to a stopped clock that is actually right twice a day, even a pompous jerk can say things that are profound, wise and true now and then. The old eat the meat/hay, spit out the bones/sticks theory works well for me. Like the proverbial diamond in a dung heap, I am on the lookout for truth no matter where I find it. Even if I have to distance it somewhat from the character and behavior of the source.  Today the following quote by Noble struck me as profound, wise and true….

“And it is way easier to use the Bible as a window in order to judge the lives of others rather than a mirror to examine ourselves.” Perry Noble