The paralysis of politics has made the Church pathetic instead of PROPHETIC

Please do yourself a favor and listen to a repeat of this live stream. I couldn’t fast forward through it, so it was necessary to listen carefully all the way through as evangelical/conservative leaders talked about race, racism, and justice.

The very first comments from a conservative black pastor caught me. He asked someone who had been in a conservative Christian college in 1968 when Dr. King was assassinated. The younger pastor asked the older pastor, “What did your college do that day? Did they stop to pray?”

The answer was, “We did nothing. We just went on our day.”

We have been caught in political arguments as conservative Christians. The trouble is we don’t want to recognize it. Because the “right” black men weren’t killed innocently, we are paralyzed from doing anything because it may look like we’re… um… LIBERALS…

When I mentioned on a forum what I did in my church to observe #BlackLivesMatter Sunday, I was met with opposition. One was angry because it was done to “honor” some “thugs” who were “in the wrong.” He then went on to say he wasn’t racist and any Church of God in Christ pastor could come any other day to his pulpit. I seriously doubt that pastor will arrange that day on his own.

We seem to want the precisely RIGHT conditions for us as conservatives to stand up and say, “We have a problem.”

On the conservative side and on the liberal side, our politics have made us pathetic when King Jesus needs us in this hour (and every hour) to be prophetic. 

Assemblies of God pastors vehemently disagreed with our general superintendent when he asked to support our COGIC brothers and sisters because it looked like we were supporting “thugs.” That’s a political motivation and we need to call it out.

In Dr. King’s day conservative churches did little or nothing. Today, I want it to be better. At least on my part. I want my congregation THINKING about justice. I want to be more engaged in these issues because the Church really has something to say in this matter and, quite frankly, it will get Democrats and Republicans upset.

We need a way forward and hiding behind political stances and calling them “theological” won’t cut it anymore.

Quite frankly, there will be some who won’t listen very long to that live stream repeat because of the theology of most pastors present. (There are a lot of Reformed pastors in this group.)

We need to take some time and simply shut up and listen.

I need to listen to the hurt and pain of my African American brothers and sisters, especially when they are in the church. I need to shut up and listen for possible ways through this mess, even if I don’t particularly like the Reformed theology of some of that panel and the moderator’s goatee scares the living daylights out of me. (Someone PLEASE give Ed Stetzer a beard trim!)

There are plenty of opportunities to hammer the foolishness of liberal theology/politics. Today, it’s my own house. Cut the political maneuvering and PLEASE find a way to listen.

Oh, and go make friends with people that don’t look like you and think like you. Please.

Believing in hell

There are days I want to believe in a hotter hell for those who perform such cowardly acts as killing school children in Pakistan.

No matter what my theology may finally find to be true, today there is weeping.

A voice is heard in Ramah,
    lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
    she refuses to be comforted for her children,
    because they are no more. (Jer. 31:15)

Longing for Messiah

May the earth be FILLED with the knowledge of the Lord!

Let Advent longing rise up in each of us!

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
    and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
    and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea. (Isa. 11:1-9)

Let’s Get This Done

From my message today:

Race divided the Pentecostal church. From the beginning. What was powerful at Azusa Street was ripped away by the racism of America. The Assemblies of God became white. Church of God in Christ became black.

The A/G had policies in place through the 1960s and even the 1970s in some places that would not allow blacks to be ordained in the A/G. We “encouraged” them to go to COGIC. For all the hollering I’ve watched some A/G pastors do in social media about Dr. Wood bowing to cultural pressure, it is not Dr. Wood who has bowed. It was the A/G for decades that bowed to white privilege pressure. WE were the ones in sin.

Why I join in the effort to pray this Sunday for #BlackLivesMatter

This Sunday has been a day set aside for prayer. The request has come from two significant places that affect my own ministry: the Church of God in Christ and then the General Council of the Assemblies of God. Together they are asking for churches to pray this Sunday for racial reconciliation and justice.

We will pray for justice. We will pray for peace. In our city, we will pray for the cultural diversity and for our law enforcement because both work hard to keep our city moving forward.

It has been heart breaking to read some comments from other ministers who think focusing on African American issues for one Sunday is “divisive.” In my view, there are times when someone hurts in the body of Christ… and we all hurt. I feel that hurt from my brothers and sisters in the Church of God in Christ, so as they hurt I hurt. 

After 9/11 some of my first contacts in the days following were with my Muslim friends because I needed them to know their lives mattered. I wasn’t blaming them for 9/11. I wanted to know they were safe.

In the past two weeks the racial injustices of our culture have come to a head once again and there are friends who hurt. As I am asked to pray from my friends, I will join in that effort.

This is a moment for the Church to step up once again and lead the way. I am going to need to ignore a lot of voices who want to simply say “Don’t all lives matter?” for a time as I try to show that the CHURCH should be leading the way in reconciliation.

This was Dr. George Wood’s statement:

Great strides have been made in civil rights and racial reconciliation over the past century, of course, but America still experiences racial divisions. If Spirit-filled Christians cannot find a way to work together to heal these divisions, what hope is there for the rest of the country?

I want to be a part of moving forward. It is my prayer those reading, and those joining us for worship on Sunday, will help with moving forward as well. I will be wearing black in some way this Sunday, as the Church of God in Christ leadership has asked. Perhaps you will join me.

I wish to weep with those who weep. I also wish to carry forward the conversation. I am praying we can do so in my city.