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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.

When One Hurts…We All Hurt…#Charleston

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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.

 

 

NEXT

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Here we are again…

Another inciting incident.
Opinions flow like a river at flood stage.

“You don’t know the facts?” “You missed the point” “You’re ignorant”

As our nation labors under the weight of serious systemic issues  we choose to herald our cyber-bullhorns, which are more about shouting than listening and resolving.

Broad-brushed soundbites of polarized rhetoric.

And then…

NEXT

We saunter off to the next thing showing that we really don’t care at a deep level about the current thing, it’s just the popular outrage. Sure, it seems important enough to flame and shout out loudly what we think (as if we have perfect-objective reality firmly in our grasp), but not important enough to get off the couch and actually DO Something…DO justice.

It amazes me that so many of us think a perfectly worded tweet is the final word on an incident that results in lost lives, lost income, lost values and even lost humanity.

“Surely my Facebook rebuttal is enough to end generations of racism”

“Surely my #hashtag is enough to end corporate greed”

“Surely my instagram picture will be enough to prove a 911 conspiracy”

and then…NEXT…

Have we become the NEXT generation? Have we become a NEXT culture?

In other words, is our current outrage more about entertainment and consumerism than it is about the actual tragedy or incident?

I think they way we respond and then quickly disengage moving onto the NEXT thing reveals an apathy and a narcissism that perpetuates systemic issues.

We live at the surface, and the problems we face are much deeper than the “facts.” And I know someone will more than likely cry out against that last statement.

Courts have to deal with facts, we as a society must deal with truths that lead to justice acknowledging the facts.

Today, consider how fast you move onto the NEXT thing.

Today consider how fast you move on from the LAST thing.

Today consider whether or not an incident will incite you to use your bullhorn only, or actually get off the couch and enter into the pain and brokeness as a healer and helper.

A closing thought to ponder from Martin Luther King Jr.:

“The Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice.”

In light of the current #ferguson battlefield, consider the deeper conversation that is needed before you go NEXT.

 

 

The Revelation part seven: Sardis, dead or alive?

Jesus did so much more than die for my sins. If my understanding of the Gospel stops there, I am missing the point of why Jesus came. He didn’t give His life so I could fulfill my dreams, become a more moral person or live unaffectedly. The cross is a lightning rod of choice…a choice of living or dying…it cries out: ‘come die that you might live.’

The church in Sardis was a church that had a reputation for being a happening place…but even though they seemed successful, Jesus’ diagnosis was that they were dead. Sometimes www think we have it so dialed in that we don’t need anything, and we don’t think that anything bad can happen. We start believing our own press, fall asleep at the wheel and then disaster hits. Jesus definition of an alive church is very different from the definition we have…let’s become a church that makes God smile.

revelation 7 sardis teaching notes

revelation 7 journey group notes

 

Revelation Week 7 from Snoqualmie Valley Alliance on Vimeo.

The Revelation part six: Thyatira, the tolerance test

“Truth cannot be sacrificed at the altar of pretended tolerance…Real tolerance, is deference for all ideas, not indifference to the truth.” – Ravi Zacharias

To the church at Thyatira Jesus said that they were more tolerant than He was…that’s something that got my attention! God loves His church too much to let her slouch her way from His presence.

revelation 6 thyatira teaching notes

revelation 6 journey group notes

 

Revelation Week 6 from Snoqualmie Valley Alliance on Vimeo.