Community or Chaos

This Thursday, October 19th, I’ve been invited to American Baptist College to speak, and be on a panel, titled, “Community or Chaos.” It’s an interesting topic for today’s environment. If you are in the Nashville area, I would love to see you there at 1pm. Lunch will be served.

It has been almost 50 years since Dr. King was assassinated, and right now, race relations in the United States are at historic lows. By all sociological standards, African-Americans are worse off today then before the Civil Rights movement. Just last month, The Washington Post, reported that African-Americans are the only racial group in the United States making less in 2016 then they did in 2000. The unemployment rate of Black Americans is double that of White Americans. Add to this, the number of African-American males incarcerated, the number of African-American males killed by police, the number of African-American males killed by other African-American males, and the increase in white supremacy and white nationalism, one can only conclude that it is difficult, and dangerous, being a black male in our society. Continue reading

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Point, Kaepernick

Last year, when Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem, I thought it was a bad stunt; n unwise PR move. I also thought it would go away soon. But one thing I never thought was that he was disrespecting the flag, our country, or the military. Why? Because he has made it clear from day one that he is trying to bring attention to the inequality he sees in our country, especially the inequality in mass incarceration and police brutality toward people of color.

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A Follow-Up

A week ago I wrote about people contacting me out of frustration and disillusionment with the Evangelical Church. (Here is a link to that blog.) A couple days after that blog, someone sent me a letter they wanted to me to read. The letter was addressed to Dr. Charles Stanley. The author of the letter attended Dr. Stanley’s church, up until the time he/she moved out of state. The letter was hand delivered to Dr. Stanley. With the writer’s permission, I have included the letter below. Continue reading

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It’s a Story

I’ve been reading the book, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, by Brian Zahnd. Mr. Zahnd made an impression on me a few years ago with his book, A Farewell to Mars. That book helped me tremendously along my journey of being a struggling pacifist.

I’m about half-way through, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. It’s a play on words to Jonathan Edward’s classic sermon, preached in the 1700s, titled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It’s required reading for every pastor who has ever taken a homiletics course. Continue reading

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Frustration and Disillusionment

Over the last couple of days, I have had more than a few people seek me out to discuss their frustrations and disillusionment with the Evangelical Church in the United States. These people are neither part of my church, nor are they pastors/ministers. Some, I had never met before. All claimed to be Christians and faithful attenders to evangelical churches. At least one, was from a mega-mega church, in another state then where I pastor. They all had the same concern: “Kevin, I am fed up with evangelicalism and can’t take it anymore. Their unbridled support of President Trump, and now, their refusal to speak out against white supremacy, white nationalism, hatred and bigotry. I don’t know how much more I can take.” Continue reading

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Identity Crisis

(NOTE: This is a sermon I preached on Thursday, July 27, 2017 for Empowerment Church during their Summer Revival Series. It is a sermon to the Church in the United States).

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In her book, The Great Emergence (2008), religion expert Phyllis Tickle[1] writes, “About every five hundred years the Church feels compelled to hold a giant rummage sale.”[2] In other words, every 500 years or so, the Church goes through a time of significant change and reinvents herself. Ms. Tickle argues that we are “living in and through one of those five-hundred-year sales.”[3] Approximately 500 years ago (the 1500s) the Church went through The Great Reformation. Five-hundred years before that (1000 years ago), the Church went through The Great Schism. Five-hundred years before that (1,500 years ago, the 6th century) was the Fall of the Roman Empire and The Dark Ages. Go back another 500 years, and you are in the time of Christ and the birth of the Church.

Here argument is compelling, but I do not share her optimism! Ms. Tickle believed that out of the dizzying upheaval, we are presently in, would emerge a stronger, and healthier, Church. I hope she is right. I have my doubts. But the verdict is still out. However, I do find comfort in Jesus’ words to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:17-18). Continue reading

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Civility

Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17)

That’s a simple, straightforward verse, is it not!

It is really easy to read.

It is not really easy to follow.

Our society has become progressively less civil to one another. Does anyone disagree with that statement? If so, explain your reasoning.

Like so many things, Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said, “Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.”

Well, maybe Jesus said it better then Mr. Franklin. Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).

Since the 2016 elections, it seems we have lost all civility with one another, especially with people with which we disagree.

All of this incivility came to a head (bad choice of words) when comedian Kathy Griffin held a bloody head of President Trump. Most people, including conservatives and liberals, believed she went to far. Ms. Griffin has paid a hefty price for her error in judgment. (In the picture below, I have chosen to blot out the image of President Trump.)

It should be pointed out, however, that Kathy Griffin is not the first person to “kill” a president.

During the last episode of the first season of HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones, the severed head of President George W. Bush was on a spike in a row of heads of people executed by King Joffrey. The creators of Game of Thrones were forced to apologized and the scene was edited for future viewings. (I chose not to blot out President Bush’s head because it is a profile and not a complete image.)

Then, in 2014, the producers of the hit miniseries, The Bible, depicted a character of Satan that looked a lot like President Obama. (See Picture below.) Likewise, they were forced to remove that scene from the final version. (And the producers of that miniseries claimed to be evangelicals! I believed the entire miniseries should have been pulled because of this.)

 

Below (and to the right) is a cartoon from 1840, depicting President Van Buren as a kangaroo. I have no idea the point being made in the cartoon, but I assume, in that day, it was controversial.

We have always had a love / hate relationship with our politicians. But, since President Clinton was in office, three things have occurred to me:

  1. In each election cycle since President Clinton, incivility has gotten worse. I didn’t think any president could be treated worse than President Clinton, but then President Bush came along and he was treated worse then President Clinton. I thought after President Obama was elected things would get better. But nope! President Obama was treated worse then President Bush. Now we have President Trump. I hate to admit it, but he is being treated even worse. This brings me to my second observation.
  2. Our incivility toward our leaders has bled over into how we treat each other. The hatred, and the hostility, and the down-right meanness I have witnessed, is unbelievable to me. We no longer know how to debate honorably and agree to disagree. We are now, officially, an angry people. (Maybe not you personally, but our society as a whole has become angry.) This brings up a third thing I have observed, and this is the most troubling to me.
  3. Those who claim to follow Jesus, have been some of the most uncivil people I know. (Again, not you personally, but as a whole.) As Christians, we should know better. We should be known for our love and compassion, not our hateful, judgmental attitudes. We can do better than that. We must do better than that!

Now, more than ever, we, followers of Jesus Christ, need to lead by example and Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17).

 

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