Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Removing Racist Logs

A black man working as a therapist at a group home watching an autistic man was shot by police in Florida while trying to get the autistic man back to the group home.  You can hear his story here.

This story hits home for a few reasons.  One is that my sister does a very similar thing as this man does.  And two is that this is yet another incident that fits into the surging storyline of blacks being treated unfairly by police.

I want to begin by saying a few things.  First, I am not anti-police at all.  I respect the men and women who put on bullet-proof vests daily in the service of their communities.  These men and women deserve respect and honor.  Secondly, the murder of police officers that we've seen lately is abhorrent. Thirdly, I am not going to claim to understand all that is going on in this storyline nor will I pretend to know all the answers.  There are a lot of factors conflating this issue from lack of respect for authority to blatant racism.  Policemen and women are generally honorable but the profession, like all professions is not free of sin.  And certainly not every black man shot by police has been an innocent victim, but more than a few have.

I believe that these situations are causing us to have a good discussion about racism.

Everyone seems to be offering their opinion about racism in this country.  For better or for worse, recently our dialog has been about black men getting shot by police, police getting shot by madmen or Pokemon Go (because we desire one meaningless topic in a dark world).

This discussion reminds me of a story told about the great Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton.  According to the story, the London Times ask influential authors to answer the question "What is wrong with the world today?"  A variety of answers were given but Chesterton is alleged to have responded, "Dear Sirs, I am.  Sincerely, G. K. Chesterton."

I feel that needs to be my response for who's responsible for the racism in the world today.

"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Matthew 7:5

Of course, there needs to be actions taken on a grand scale to end racism in our world and specifically in our country, but I need to remove the racist log from my own eye.  See, I'm not a Klansman but I've got prejudices in my eye that must be removed.  For instance, ashamedly I admit that I react differently internally to a young white man walking by me in the dark with a hoodie on than I do a young black man in the same outfit.  I have prejudicial tendencies in my own heart that need to be extricated.  I need to mortify the sin in my own life first.  I hate that I have this sin in me and I must fight it to the death.

Gandhi famously said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  Too often we don't do this.  We instead take to removing the speck from our brother's eye while explaining away the log in ours.  This does not mean that we are to be OK with sin that exists outside of ourselves, but the first sin that needs to die is our own!  George W. Bush recently said in Dallas, "Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions."

I long for a New Heaven and New Earth where racism is a memory and police work is a non-necessity in a sinless society.  I long for the day when Jesus eliminates all sin, but until then I must face the ugliness that exists in me and I must purge it from me.

Hate racism, remove the racist log from your own eye today.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

God Keeps His Promises

Tuesday was my grandma's (Mimi's) funeral, so almost all of the family was in town for the days surrounding the funeral.

My cousin Ashley said that Saturday night she was praying.  She prayed that God would give her a sign that Mimi was in Heaven.  She asked for a sign and then decided that she'd better ask for a specific sign, so she asked that God would send her a rainbow as a sign that Mimi was in Heaven.

Sunday morning came and there was rain, but no rainbow.

The whole family went to the church that my grandparents attend.  The adults worshipped while Harper, Ashley's two and a half year old daughter, went to the children's programming.

When Harper was let out of class she ran up to her mother and said, "Look what I made for Mimi!"

This is what she made.

God had answered my cousin's prayer in a more direct way than she could have imagined.  Harper didn't know her mother's prayer, but God did.  The picture was soon copied and given to everyone in the family who wanted one and one was placed in Mimi's casket during the visitation and funeral.

God keep's His promises.

The picture was such an obvious answer to Ashley's prayer.  She was given a sign like Gideon in the book of Judges.  Now we aren't instructed to ask God for signs, but He was gracious and gave one.  But He has given us all very clear messages.  See, "God Keeps His Promises" is more than something on Harper's picture, it is one of the best truths in the Bible.

From cover to cover there are, as the Apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 1:4, "great and precious promises" in the Bible for believers.  Often times the easiest truths to say are the most precious.  God keeps His promises is one of these priceless truths.  You don't need a seminary degree to have a faith that can buoy you in a storm, much of the time it's the truths we learn as children that keep us afloat.

My grandma is in Heaven because God promised her she would be.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.'

Thomas said, 'Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?'

Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.'"  John 14:1-6

Children's ministry workers, be encouraged.  What you are teaching the little ones makes a world of difference, more than you will ever know at times.  Stay faithful to your calling knowing that the Word of God never returns void.

Those of us holding on to faith, remember that God keeps ALL His promises.  Take time to read and think about the many promises God has made to you, today.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

See You Later

My grandma Frances Jean McCullough died last night.  She was 72.  To her friends she was Jean, to us she was Mimi.

My grandma did not always have an easy life, but she had a strong faith.

She was orphaned and adopted by age 3.

She and another girl were raped at knife point by an intruder at age 9.  The intruder proceeded to threaten my grandma's blind and deaf grandma to which my grandma offered to exchange her life for her grandma's.  The rapist was never caught.

Her adoptive parents divorced when she was a young teen which confused her and she jumped into a relationship of her own.

She was married at 15 and had her first child at 16.

Her first husband was an abusive, alcoholic, adulterer who left her.

She had many reasons to be a hopeless person by the time that I was born, but she wasn't.  Mimi was always whistling and singing hymns without skipping a verse.  She understood very deeply what it meant to sing "It is Well."  My grandma put her hope and trust in Jesus and found her joy there despite some of the dark circumstances of her life.

While she had reasons not to hope, she was also very blessed.  She had children.  She was a grandma by age 37 and my grandma by age 42.  She is a great-grandma many times over.  In fact, when people ask how many grandchildren and children she had it was difficult to answer.  She and my grandpa did foster care and treated each child that entered their home as their own and taught us to view them as our cousins, which we gladly did.  She was a proud mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.  I only wish that I could have given her another great-grandchild before she died.

I love my grandma very much.  She was there when I was born and for a few years her house was where I was dropped off by the school bus.  She was, as my brother has said, a grandPARENT.

She called me her Precious Angel my whole life.

Today some will say that Heaven has another angel, but that isn't true.  God didn't take Mimi because there was an angel shortage.  She is not an angel today... she's something so much better.

My grandma was an orphan at age three and was adopted by my great-grandparents, but that wasn't the most important adoption of my grandma's life.  Her most important adoption was when she was adopted as a daughter of the King of Kings.

Mimi is in Heaven today not because she was good or because she went to church or because God needed another angel.  No, Mimi is in Heaven because she was adopted.  She is in Heaven because when God said, "my child" she replied "Abba, Father."  She is in Heaven because she is with her Heavenly Father.

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs... heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.'

'I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Romans 8:15-18

Today Mimi is in glory but not as an angel but as something so much better.  She is a daughter of the King in the presence of her Father enjoying the privilege and glory that goes with that.

And because of the hope in Jesus I share with Mimi, last night wasn't goodbye but see you later.  I miss her but I will see my grandma again and will be with her, Jesus and all the saints for eternity.

I want you to have this hope, too.  It is God's will to adopt you.  It is His will to adopt us and treat us as His sons and daughters with all that comes with it.  I pray that you will accept His adoption.  I also ask that you would pray for my family today.