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Prayers For Belgium

belgium 2Le-Monde-654733 belgium

 

Another Isis Attack, this time in Belgium. There have been at least 7 other cities this week who also experienced the violent terror of these groups.

Today, I am praying for and with those in Belgium, and all the others who are the latest victims of the evil of ISIS…I’m also thankful for those in the Muslim community who are speaking out against the brutality of ISIS et al.

In the U.S we often wonder how someone becomes “radicalized” by these Jihadist groups. I read a well written article on why peaceful muslims are drawn into radical Islam. It sheds some light on the subject, although it leaves some very hard questions which need deeper conversation.

Check out the article here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/03/22/radicalization-isil-islam-sacred-texts-literal-interpretation-column/81808560/

Nabeel Qureshi, author of the article and former Muslim, has also written a book called “Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward” which also looks into this current global problem.

Dealing with ISIS, and other radical groups, requires a global response. Humility, grace and an unshakeable commitment to end terror, injustice, persecution and violence is the only way forward.

What I Like About Sanders And Trump

Bernie Sanders

It has definitely been an interesting launch into the election season. Some have called it weird, many seem speechless, but it has created an unusually high amount of interest.

One Huffington Post article noted that; according to a recent poll, Americans would like to have a presidential primary process that doesn’t suck. In the post, author Jason Linkins notes:

The process by which we elect presidents sucks canal water, and people hate it. One of the things that people really hate about it is the long and drawn-out primary process, in which a few states fight to the death to be the first to hold primaries, and then once those are done, everyone agrees to pretend for a while that it isn’t completely obvious who is going to eventually win.

While this primary season may not exactly be what some were hoping for, it has been anything but boring. Two reasons the bore-factor has been in remission can be attributed to candidate Donald Trump, who is running on the Republican ticket, and Bernie Sanders, who is running on the Democrat ticket.

Both Trump and Sanders chose their respective party platforms not because of a longstanding ideological alignment, but rather because they needed a major party platform in order to have a chance at winning the job of POTUS.

Or did they?

I’m not a Sanders or a Trump fan. I have animus for different reasons towards each candidate. But what I do like about them, is the reason this primary season has drawn more interest than primaries past.

In my opinion, they are not playing by the rules, and to me, that is refreshing. Even those who disagree with them have had positive things to say concerning their tenacity. Perhaps another way to say is that they are refusing the role of status quo politicians, pandering to a platform in order to get money and the endorsements. Both of these candidates actually believe in their ideas and are less concerned with Political Correctness.

The early success of Trump and Sanders has been met with loud concern.  In a nutshell, the concern is that their growing popularity over the party “regulars” or “expecteds” will divide the vote thus handing the election to the enemy.

Instead of touting fear about party divisions, a better plan would be for both sides to pause long enough to realize the American people are tired of their politics and long for a leader, not an entrenched “politician.” I would recommend they tap into the disruption beneath the waterline that Bernie and Donald have tapped into…it is getting traction.

Some of you are thinking “Hey Bernie is a politician as he has been in it for a long time.”  That is true, however, he has been an outsider whose voice seems to be breaking through because the party doesn’t own him. Trump is a businessman, brash and egotistical who also won’t be owned by a party.

The Republican and Democrat leadership are scratching their heads right now, and that is good for us.

This is why I like these two guys. They are creating a larger conversation because they simply don’t care about the politics on the Hill.

Would either of them be a great president? I’m not so sure, but perhaps the time has come for “We the people” to take back our political rights and the parties that are supposed to represent us.

The voice of the people has been lost as the desire for political power and longevity has taken the primary place.

While you may not like The Don and Bernie, they are striking a resonate chord with many because they refuse to play the political game.

 

 

When One Hurts…We All Hurt…#Charleston

charleston

I have just woke up after returning from a trip traversing Uganda. While there, I caught a breaking news report concerning the shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston South Carolina. It was a depressing and disturbing feeling watching the news report about more Black Americans being shot in the U.S.

My heart broke. “This is too much.”

As an obvious white American in a room of Ugandans, I thought,  “I wonder if he is a racist too?”

As of this moment I have not had to endure all the spin from the Left and the Right as you have. I have not had to wade through the polarizing news reports. It has been apparent that racism and a hatred of black people was the root of the problem.

I have prayed; repented for our nation; confessed my own “isms.” I have struggled with the moral temperature of our nation; I have tried to enter the pain of my African-American brothers and sisters in Christ in a very insufficient way as I will never fully understand the pain they experience.

As a follower of Jesus, I am spiritually and soul-ularly connected to every other follower of Jesus regardless of race, gender, color of skin, ideology, social status etc.

As a follower of Jesus, I am called to stand in the gap for my brothers and sisters who are hurting, suffering, and have lost their voice.

As a follower of Jesus, I -do- feel the pain and enter into the journey of suffering with those who suffer.

Paul the Apostle said is this way:

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

So I weep those who weep…I grieve with those who grieve…I cry with those who cry.

But, as a follower of Christ I also denounce the violence in our country that continues to be directed towards the Black community. I am amazed that we are actually arguing  whether or not the Confederate flag (a symbol of racism) should be allowed to fly. I wonder (not really) if Germany would argue similarly about reviving the Nazi Swastika; I’m sure (or I would hope) it would be rejected out of hand.

Until we recognize and deal with our national racism the violence will continue.

The lives represented by the list of victims matters:

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74
Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41
Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45
Rev. DePayne Doctor, 49
Sharonda Singleton, 45
Myra Thompson, 59
Tywanza Sanders, 26
Ethel Lance, 70
Cynthia Hurd, 54
Susie Jackson, 87 

The problem with lists and statistics is that they don’t cry. Each name represents a significant larger story. Each person matters. Each life was intended by God.

If you are a white Christian in the U.S you need to begin reading the stories and articles that are pouring out from the black community. Enter into their pain and feel their faith. It is no longer sufficient to say, “Well I didn’t cause this.” or “Things are way better than they used to be.” or “It’s not my problem.”

While this generation may not have caused the problem, we have inherited it and are called to do something about any and all injustice that we encounter.

While things are better than they once were, there are still miles to go until we reach true equality.

And this is all our problem…

It is time to get off the bench and into the game.

It is time to stand up against any and all forms of violence.

It is time to stand in solidarity with the Black community.

It is time to put people first above ideologies.

Choosing to disengage from the reality of violence in our midst is to join the side of the violence…no one is neutral when it comes to events that affect our nation.

Charleston, my heart and prayers are with you. May the grace and peace of God saturate you hearts and community.

 

 

Justice Begins In The Home

Check out my latest talk in the “Be The Change” series…

“We can change the world, by starting at home. When we honor and elevate women to their true biblical-equal-status in our culture, we will have the credibility to empower women in other cultures and other faiths where the gender-line of inequality remains so thickly drawn that death, devastation and poverty follow her cries.” – Monty

Be the Change – Week 5 from Snoqualmie Valley Alliance on Vimeo.