Reflecting on Life, Ferguson & the Gospel…

August 23, 2014 § 1 Comment

AP_FERGUSON_MARCH_140814_DG_16x9_992 “Pray for me, guys. The situation in Ferguson is bringing out the worst in me, and I don’t like what I’m seeing.”

A refreshingly honest friend

So some disclosure…

I’m a white guy who grew up in Miami in a mostly white world that was shaped by white tastes, white opinions and white culture. Everyone else had to fit in, and it never occurred to me that this could be wrong.

I can’t remember ever thinking that the streets, our neighborhood or my world, were anything other than perfectly safe. And because I was safe and happy, I just assumed everyone else was.

Injustice wasn’t even on my radar, until a friend in ministry opened my eyes. I’ve been catching up ever since, and am far from an authority.

When my studies floundered, I was still believed in and considered full of potential. Contrast this to Malcolm X, a bright-eyed, super-achieving high school student, whose joy was demolished when a teacher scoffed at the notion that he, an African-American, would aspire to a future that involved being anything other than a janitor.

Earlier this week a coworker and I conversed about issues unearthed by the events in Ferguson. He’s black and I’m white. It was good – we just talked. And we agreed on the need to take the conversation to another level.

Random Thoughts I Scratched throughout the Week…

I have to think that the symbolic, anecdotal, mass-media-driven vitriol takes us nowhere good – It has to be personal, because it is.

Sin is never excusable. Period. Figure out the rest, but if you put a color to your conclusions, you’re missing the point.

There are more civilly minded and community-loving people than not (don’t think color – think people).

There are more good cops than bad ones.

There are more bad politicians than good ones (hey, this is my blog – I can say what I want, but term limits would dramatically help).

Violence is almost never the answer, and victims abound when it occurs.

Not merely with words, but in communal life, will the Church make a difference…

There is no ‘Them’

Protest ≠ Destruction

Love > Fear

Right now I don’t like my world very much.

But God created it to be good. And the gospel informs me that everything that disturbs me is less about ‘it’ and ‘them,’ and more about what is in me.

The fact is that I have no idea what went down in Ferguson. But whatever it was, the images have excavated fears, preconceived notions, and prejudices that either I didn’t know existed – or worse, that I never before wanted to admit.

And I don’t know what to do with this other than to pray… and listen.

All the while holding on to the promise that Jesus, the One who entered into the mess that is our world, and actually loved it, is making everything new, until heaven and earth are one, and the nations gather at the throne, where lions and lambs and infants and cobras dwell safely together in peace.

It is the good news that sustains…


What Are You Waiting For?

January 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Obscured“All spiritualties are based on a story. You have to know the story of a particular religion to understand its spirituality.”

Robert E. Webber, the Divine Embrace

It is a new year and it is all there for the taking. What do you see before you?

If I am honest I have to admit that I sometimes cheat myself out of what is before me because of what lies behind. There are so many words I can’t un-speak, so many mistakes I can’t un-do, and so many people I can’t ‘un-hurt.’ We think we move on, but the deceiver loves dragging us into his warped version of the past, where grace is never has a part. It is all so personal and easily devolves into paralyzing guilt. Sometimes I’ll apologize to one of our children for something I did, or didn’t do when they were young, only to have them say that they don’t know what I’m talking about.

We can make ourselves prisoners of the past, even when the past isn’t holding on.

I think Robert Webber is right in saying that the story of any given religion shapes our spirituality (and therefore how we view life and perceive the world). And I see this all the more clearly when I am pressed to function and respond in the unknown. Because in the story we were born into the future is always terrifying and the ending is never good. The weight of failures and past injuries tend to find their way into our greatest hopes.

And this is what I love about the gospel. It is the new story – the story we have been invited into. And in this story, at the heart of the plot is Jesus, who entered into all that causes fear, dread and regret, to bring what we always dream we may have but never feel we can obtain – Redemption. In other words, that old narrative is only relevant so far as we allow it to be.

So here is the New Year. Only fear will make the future appear to be terrifying – a fear born of the story you were not meant to any longer be defined by.

Is this what you want?

But the new story beckons, and everything lovely that it represents is before you: reconciled relationships, forgiven sins, healed wounds, restored families, renewed passion, grace for all you can never ‘fix’ on your own – it is all there.

What are you waiting for?

It isn’t that we have overcome, but that Jesus has, and because of this, with Paul we can ‘forget what lies behind… straining forward to what lies ahead’ (Philippians 3), not because we know how things will go in the year, but because we know how the big story ends.

What good, mysterious, exciting news…

Happy New Year.



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