Category Archives: Social Issues

A Presidential Prayer Request…

(Deep sigh) IMG_1319

Never, ever…ever…in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined having to tack the word “President” in front of Donald Trump’s name.

Never.

He doesn’t exactly fit the typical “presidential mold”. I don’t detect any trace of political correctness in him…which is actually refreshing…except that he doesn’t appear to have any tact or diplomacy to balance that out. He’s not very careful with his words…whether by mouth or by tweet. Some of his decisions don’t appear to be well thought out, being made out of impulse, or in retaliation to criticism (much of which is warranted). He also appears to be completely out of tune with the plight of minorities in America…and I could write an entire blog on that point by itself.

(Deep sigh) IMG_1320

Okay…now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me get to the point of this post.

Despite all of these strikes against him (and I’m sure there are more), President Donald Trump is a human being, created in the image of God, loved by that same God…and in desperate need of prayer.

I’m not writing this as an attempt to correct anyone…this is therapeutic for me.

It’s gotten to the point now where our government as a whole has become a reality TV show…with our President in the starring role. And I can’t stand reality TV. So, as you can imagine, it’s getting really hard to think nice thoughts and say nice things about our President.

But, there’s this person that I have a relationship with…named Jesus…who is making it really hard for me to completely write off President Trump. Because, when I really think about it…I’m no better than he is. The truth is, the same Jesus that died for me died for Donald Trump.

That’s not to say that following Jesus means I can never be critical of our President…quite the contrary. Jesus was very vocal against the unjust religious and political leaders of His day. For nearly an entire chapter in the book of Matthew, Jesus calls the Pharisees “hypocrites” to their faces, and points out the error of their ways in detail. He referred to King Herod as “a fox” (Luke 13:32)…and if you understand what that means from a Hebrew perspective, it was actually pretty gangster.

But underneath Jesus’ seemingly harsh words was an unconditional love…a love that didn’t ignore the wrongdoings of those corrupt leaders, but actually drove Him to accept the death penalty for their corruption.

That’s the guy I surrendered my life to.

And so…as much as part of me just wants to go on a total rant about how much I dislike President Trump, the love of Jesus compels me to sincerely pray for the man, and his family. Not just because the Bible calls us to pray for those in authority…

…but because Jesus loves him just as much as He loves me.

IMG_1321

 

(Deep sigh)

 

Advertisements

Does God Care About Justice?

Injustice.

That seems to be a recurring theme lately.

One of the latest examples is in the case of Walter Scott, a young black man who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Charleston, SC by a white police officer. According to multiple reports, the judge declared a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury.

Many are angrily shaking their heads at this, seeing it as just another example of racial oppression and inequality within our justice system. And it’s not an isolated case; several related trials over the last few years have ended in the same way, with the officer going scot-free, and the family being left to pick up the pieces.

But injustice is not limited by race.

Injustice infiltrates every aspect of society…race/ethnicity, gender, personality, religion, social/financial status, geographical location…none of these factors are void of injustice. Actually, I think it’s safe to say that anyone reading this has experienced injustice on some level.

It makes you wonder at times why injustice is so widespread. It makes you wonder if we’ll ever see a time where there will be “justice for all.”

And it also makes some ask whether or not God even cares.

Because in the eyes of many angry and hurting people, if an all-powerful and all-knowing God really cared about justice, then He would make sure that justice is swiftly served in every instance of wrongdoing.

But…wouldn’t that apply when we do wrong too?

This is a pill that most of us are not willing to swallow, because we are inclined to prefer our own standard of justice…a standard that is much stricter on people other than ourselves. In contrast, God’s standard of justice demands personal accountability above all else…which is why I believe His standard is largely rejected in our society today.

The Bible makes it painstakingly clear that God cares about justice.

Leviticus 19:15 –Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

Psalm 33:5 – The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

Ecclesiastes 3:17 – I said to myself, “God will bring into judgement both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”

Romans 12:9 – Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

To make it even clearer, God the Father orchestrated the brutal death of Jesus, His only Son, in order to execute judgement on the sins of the entire world.

Does God care about justice?  Maybe we’re asking the wrong question here. I think the real question is…do we care about justice?

Because if we did, we’d take our cues from Him. After all, justice was His idea to begin with.

Live Free!

When will it end?

That’s what a lot of African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities seem to be wondering.

It appears that racism is still alive and well in these United States of America. Police brutality…national anthem protest drama…and now the icing on the cake…

President Elect Donald Trump.

That’s right…Mr. Trump, whom many claim to be especially bigoted and racist, has been elected as our next president. Sadly, there are many minorities, especially blacks, who view this as a sign that America as a whole is dead set on keeping us oppressed…which would explain why I’ve heard so many threatening to move to Canada, or even back to Africa.

You’ve got many angry people still protesting in the streets, signing petitions, and blasting Trump supporters on social media, making the blanket statement that anyone who voted for Trump is racist, and doesn’t care about the plight of blacks and other minorities in America.

Okay.

So now that I’ve laid out where many of my fellow African-Americans are at this moment, let me tell you why I’m not there myself.

No, it’s not because I’m “woke”, and have gained some ethnic mental ascension that gives me permission to look down my nose at those who are less informed. Nor is it because I’m in denial of the issue of racism.

It’s because I am a child of God, a follower of Jesus Christ…and regardless of how oppressive society may appear to be, I myself am not oppressed.

I’m FREE.

And because Jesus has freed me, I don’t have to respond and react to racism like someone who is still a victim of it. Nor do I have to exclusively view everyone and everything around me through the narrow lens of my own ethnicity. I can resist the urge to make unfair assumptions about others based on their race, political party, and who they may have voted for. I’m empowered now to love my enemies, and to even pray for and do good to those who mistreat me based on the color of my skin.

On another note, I’m fully aware that there are those who make the false claim that God and the Bible support racial oppression and slavery…I’ll deal with that at length in another blog.

But even if you do feel that way, let me give you food for thought. Jesus gave the solution to racism in one simple statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. If everyone followed that one command, do you think that racism would still exist?

The bottom line is this…to all of you who may be feeling the weight of oppression, you don’t have be crushed under this weight.

Jesus can take that weight off your shoulders…and you can live free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking Sides…

Donald or Hillary?

Republican or Democrat?

Pro-life or  Pro-choice?

For LGBT or against LGBT?

#blacklivesmatter or #bluelivesmatter?

I can’t recall a time when our society has been bombarded with this many divisive issues at one time.

Turn on the news…glance at social media…in some cities, just peek out of your window and look at the campaign and/or protest signs being carried down the streets. Listen to some of the “shots”, whether coming from mouths or from guns, that are being fired off from each opposing side. It’s blatantly obvious that many people are passionate about the stances that they’ve taken, and they’re doing all they can to pull neutral parties to their cause.

And I have to say, they are really doing a number on the church.

There are enough internal struggles within the body of Christ as it is, but this toxic sociopolitical climate has only magnified them, and really exposed an even bigger issue: a lot of Christians are taking the wrong side.

Let me clear this up before you misunderstand me: I’m not telling you who to vote for, which political party to be affiliated with, or whether or not you are wrong for supporting any of the #livesmatter movements. I’m not trying to make myself out to be some authority on any of these matters either.

But I do believe that many Christians are dedicating themselves to these causes at the expense of their relationship with God. I believe that many are blurring the lines between biblical standards and the agendas of their political parties or social crusades.

And I also believe that somewhere, Satan is laughing his head off.

Laughing, because many preachers now won’t touch certain subjects in their sermons for fear of political backlash. Laughing, because whole churches will split apart over who is voting for who. Laughing, because many angry black Christians allow themselves to become so embittered that they reject any efforts from their white Christian brothers and sisters to understand their plight, and to help bear their burden.

Laughing, because in doing all of this, we’re playing right into his grimy hands…

…at least, that’s what he thinks.

I believe that, despite how incredibly murky and clouded things have gotten, God’s light can and will shine in the midst of all this darkness. But we have to keep in mind that God is not obligated to fit into our man-made partisanship. He is neither Democrat nor Republican, black nor white…actually, He supersedes any side-taking. He isn’t just pro-life, He is life. And the LGBT debate really isn’t even a debate; it is God who created marriage and gender in the first place, and as such, He’s the only one who can legitimately define both…period.

My main point here is this: if we are going to be true followers of Jesus Christ, then our allegiances to any worldly affiliations can only go so far. Yes, I believe we’re to be active and involved in these tumultuous issues…but not to the point where your affiliations compromise your Christianity.

So be careful when taking sides…because there’s really only one.

 

 

 

 

The Real Culprit…

Disbelief…horror…anger…outrage…frustration…fear…heartbreak…

I really can’t fully capture all of the emotions I felt when I saw video footage of Alton Sterling’s brutal and senseless death. I was equally overwhelmed by the many thoughts that ran through my head, all seemingly at the same time:

Not again…WHY DID YOU HAVE TO KILL HIM?!! He’s wasn’t a threat to you!!! Is this cop going to get off too?!! Here we go again!!!

Manthat could have been me.

And as if that weren’t bad enough, I had to relive the nightmare all over again less than 24 hours later, when I found out that Philando Castile had also been gunned down. Then, the day after that, throw in the deaths of 5 Dallas police officers in retaliation…God help us!

Scrolling endlessly on Facebook didn’t help at allMy newsfeed looked like a nuclear war zone…understandably angry blacks on one end, a few incredibly insensitive whites on the other…some well-meaning whites trying to understand and empathize, only to be mercilessly shut down by said angry blacks…many Christians calling for prayer, and other Christians criticizing those Christians and claiming that we’ve done enough praying.

So much anger…so much divisiveness…so much finger-pointing…so much confusion…so many unanswered questions…all of these factors make it difficult to focus. And the ability to focus is crucial in times like this, because if we’re not careful, we’ll lose sight of who’s really behind it all.

I know I take the risk of losing some of you at this point, particularly those who don’t really believe in the God of the Bible, but I’m going to say this anyway. The real culprits behind these senseless deaths are not racist white policemen…nor are they white people in general. The real culprits are not vengeful blacks who retaliate in rage and desperation. Truthfully, the real culprit has no race at all…nor is He even human.

The real culprit is Satan…a fallen angel who, because of his own pride and rebellion against God, has declared all-out war on humanity. And any human being, whether they’re the one holding the gun or taking the bullet, is on his hit list.

And those of us who make up the body of Christ, particularly black believers, cannot afford to lose sight of this. I believe that one of Satan’s main tactics in his destructive endeavor is to create as much dissension and chaos as possible, and he’s succeeded to a large degree in light of the fallout from all of these police shootings. The killings are bad enough, but the absence of justice adds insult to injury, and only serves to embitter the black community to the point where any efforts at reconciliation or understanding are being rejected more and more.

I pray that the church as a whole would not lose sight of what’s really going on here. I pray that black believers (myself included) would not allow Satan to plant a “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15) within our hearts. I pray that my white brothers and sisters in Christ, along with all other races and nationalities, would reach out in a spirit of gentleness to help us bear this burden.

And I pray most of all that the church would recognize Satan’s handiwork, and in turn use these tragedies to point everyone to the only one who offers real hope…

Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Where Was God?

This is a question often asked in relationship to our pain.

We ask this question when a loved one dies, when we get a devastating doctor’s report, when our best friend gets involved in a car wreck that leaves them paralyzed, when we lose a job unfairly or unexpectedly, when we lose a home to foreclosure.

Or, perhaps we ask this question in light of tragic events that happen around us…natural disasters, sex trafficking, rape, murder, suicide, school shootings, gang violence, police brutality…the list seems endless.

The shooting in Orlando is obviously fresh on everyone’s mind at the moment, and my heart certainly goes out to the families of the victims…but my aim in writing this is not to draw more attention to that specific event.

Instead, I want to try and tackle the question referenced in the title.

Not an easy task, because most of the time this question is asked in anger and frustration. And it’s directly connected to an older and even more difficult question:

Why does God allow evil?

As much as we would like to, believers can’t shirk away from this kind of stuff either…because whether we like it or not, it is a fair question. I obviously can’t answer either of these questions completely, but I want to at least offer a few points that can serve as food for thought. I’ll be borrowing heavily from an awesome book that I recommend to every parent by author Natasha Crain, entitled “Keeping Your Kids On God’s Side”.

The fact that evil exists is one of the biggest arguments that atheists attempt to use against God. Their basic premise is, “If there is a God, and He’s completely good, then He wouldn’t allow evil“. This seems logical at first glance, but there’s a huge catch: doing away with evil would also do away with free will. If God made everyone do good, no one would be have the freedom to chose otherwise.

Well, that still doesn’t explain natural disasters.

The typical Christian answer to this is the fall of man, and that Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden corrupted not only humanity, but all of creation as well. Granted, that is the correct answer, but to a non-believer with little to no faith in the Bible, it really doesn’t mean much.

In her book, Crain states this very effectively, and gives an interesting take on the issue of natural disasters. She points out that natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes, are actually “the byproduct of good processes”. For example, earthquakes come about as a result of the shifting of the Earth’s tectonic plates, a process that is necessary for our survival, but also a process that, unfortunately, does hurt and kill innocent people at times.

These are amongst a long list of answers that make sense logically, but let’s be honest: anyone who has just experienced a traumatic event in their life will not be comforted by logic. What can we as believers do when hurting people are overcome by their emotions and angry with God?

The answer is simple: we demonstrate the love of Jesus.

You see, we may never answer the question of where God was to a hurting person’s satisfaction, no matter how right or logical our answer may be. But no one can argue against genuine, Godly love.

Who knows? Maybe your loving presence could be the very tool that God uses to explain His “absence”.