Monday, March 31, 2008

Young Blogger

Racial Profiling

Is it wrong for the police to profile people based on race? Is it ever an acceptable practice?

I was with some friends last night and we discussed a number of topics. All of us in the group are followers of Jesus. We all are involved in ministering to others through teaching, mentoring, service, etc.

One topic that came up was fighting crime. We were talking specifically about our neighborhoods on the west side of Chicago. Two of the brothers suggested that they have no problem with the police profiling people based on race.

For example, a white person walking or driving through a neighborhood that is known for selling drugs and predominately African-American in make-up. They thought it would be OK for the police to stop them and ask questions simply based on race. The assumption would be that the person was there to buy drugs. They also suggested that it was OK to stop a young black male in a car or walking in a predominately white neighborhood. The assumption would be that the person was up to no good - theft, drug dealing, etc.

They made very clear that they do not approve of the way the police often treat people in these situations, but that their profiling based on race, if done in a respectful and polite manner, would not be a problem to them. For instance if the situation ended like this - "Sorry for the inconvenience, hope that you have a nice evening".

I strongly disagreed with them personally.

But I want you to know that these are not uninformed individuals. Both of them grew up in Chicago. Both of them live on the west side of Chicago. Both of them are faithful followers of Christ. Both of them have had negative interactions with law inforcement for doing nothing, but "looking suspicious".

This does not give you the whole discussion or every side of the reasoning, but I want to know what you think about this issue.

Is it ever right for law enforcement to stop and question people based on race? White, Black, Arab, Mexican - there can be assumptions that come with each depending on the context. Is there a better way to fight crime, terrorism, drug dealing, etc.?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Where are you going?

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re likely to end up someplace else.”


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Knowing Jesus

In Philippians 3:7-11 Paul states:
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

We are going through Philippians as a church and are getting into chapter 3 this week. As I read Paul's feelings, I am convicted.

Paul longed to know Christ. Paul considered everything else as loss in comparison. He called them rubbish or a more literal translation: dung, manure, or excrement

Paul also stated that righteousness only comes through faith in Christ. No other way. This is not a popular opinion today. People want you to believe that one can be accepted by God through many different means.

How have you been lately? Do you long to know Christ? Is everything else rubbish in comparison?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The body at work

Have you ever been frustrated with the church not working together? Does it ever seem like denominations are not connected or urban churches are not connected to suburban churches?

Today, a good friend of mine (Pete Sutton) brought some of his middle school youth group on a work project here in Chicago. They did painting and cleaning work for Inner City Impact where I used to be employed. What a blessing to see these junior high age young people from Christ Church in St. Charles serve the urban church.

Later in the afternoon, we joined up Pete's group with a group of high students involved in a group called Youth Leaders In Action, led by two other friends. (Everett Gutierrez and Amber Harvey) We were bowling as a part of a fundraiser. This group of young urban leaders connected well with their younger Christian brothers and sisters from the suburbs. It was great to see these teenagers being positive Christian role models for the younger youth.

Pete connects with Everett and Amber. Contacts are made and relationships are established.

This is the church as it is meant to be. Relational. Connected. Urban to Suburban. Brown to yellow to white to black. People of all races, locations, and economic classes all in agreement for the purpose of the kingdom.

The church in America has a long way to go, but it is encouraging to see glimpses of progress.

How can the church do more to facilitate these type of connections? How can we continue to grow on uniting the church for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jury Duty

For the last two days, I have honored my responsibility as a citizen and served on a jury. Although somewhat inconvenient to be summoned, the whole process is quite interesting. From jury selection, to the trial, to jury deliberation, it was a memorable experience to be a part of our justice system at work.

I have many thoughts from the experience so I will just share a couple.

One thing that I found interesting is the whole idea that average citizens have a say in the outcome of the rule of law in our society. It is interesting to think that any of us can be chosen to represent our justice system in such a way that can decide criminal cases and civil cases. This is not only a responsibility, but also a privilege. People from all walks of life are trusted with this duty.
For example, on the 12 member jury that I was on, there were: women and men (mostly women), people of a number of races (5 Hispanic, 2 Black, 5 white), a number of social or economic classes (including a convicted felon on house arrest currently), and many other sub categories.

Another thing that I found interesting is the whole jury deliberation concept. The idea of getting twelve complete strangers into a room to reach a consensus is quite a feat by itself. It takes communication. (talking and listening) It takes courtesy. It takes compromise. In some ways, it is a good place to practice community.

I am thankful for the experience and the people that I met along the way.

What do you think about the jury system? Should the average citizen be given so much say in the outcomes of the enforcement of our laws?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The power of the resurrection

I Corinthians 15:12-17, 21-22

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

...since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Wondrous Cross

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Talking Heads

I am conservative. Conservative theologically. Conservative socially. Conservative politcally for the most part.

In my post on Monday, I expressed my frustration with conservatives especially in their inability to talk candidly about race.

Barack Obama, in his incredible speech on Tuesday, pointed this out when he said:

Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
They are now doing it again with his speech. Instead of gleaning from its wisdom, they are simply playing politics. "Dismissing any legitimate discussions of racial injustice and in inequality" as Barack said.

I hear Rush Limbaugh do this all the time. Last night, it was Shawn Hannity that I heard doing the same: not listening to people on his show who think differently, cutting them off in mid sentence and then misrepresenting what they were saying, more concerned with winning arguments than on coming to a common understanding. Ignorance. Pure ignorance.

It is no wonder that people think of conservatives as arrogant, stuck on themselves, and know it alls who don't listen to anyone. That is how these guys act. It makes me cringe at the idea of being conservative.

I think that good leadership is a person with good idealogy who is humble enough to learn from others and listen to others.

Have you observed these same attitudes from conservative people? What will it take for people to get past winning arguments to building coalitions? How do we get people to learn together from people who are different from them?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barack Obama's speech on race

WOW! That is the first word that comes to mind. I hope that everyone takes the time to listen to or read the speech given today in Philadelphia by Barack Obama. Not for political reasons, but because of the incredible explanation and insight that he offers on race relations in America. It is an amazing speech and I believe historic.

I know that many will choose not to listen to it and continue to push the issue of race into the closet. I am going to paste a few segments of the speech here to offer food for thought.

"...But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America - to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality. The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through - a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American".

It is time for America to talk about and deal with race and not walk away once again.

"The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races".

This is what I was talking about in my previous post. Not trying to understand why this anger exists.

I believe that Obama's speech today is a speech for the ages. But I wonder if America will respond. Will it be ignored? Will it be argued away? Or will it help to facilitate real dialogue?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Barack Obama - It seems that Race Matters

Dr. Cornel West, the Harvard University professor, got it right then when he authored the book "Race Matters". I mean that he got it right when in the 1990's he pointed out in his book that race did matter. As we are finding out, race still matters in America.

Geraldine Ferraro said that the only reason that Barack is where he is today is because he is a black man. SHE WAS SAYING THAT RACE MATTERS.
Barack is being condemned for something his pastor said six years ago, partially because RACE MATTERS. If you can, tell me the name of any previous presidential candidates pastor. You probably can't, because no one was ever concerned about what someones pastor was saying before.
I personally disagree with many of the conclusions that Dr. Jeremiah Wright draws from things, but I also understand that his viewpoint comes from a personal history and experience that is much different then mine.
Dr. Wright said what he said from his perspective. Why would his perspective cause him to see things that way?
Michelle Obama also said things from her perspective. Why would she feel the way that she does?
One thing that many people like about Barack is that he is running on a platform of substance and not on race. But RACE MATTERS. So race keeps coming up, even though Barack does not bring it up. Why? Barack is still a black man in America. And in America, RACE MATTERS.
Personally, I am glad that we as a nation are continuing to dialogue about race. We need to talk to each other. We need to listen to each other. We need to try to understand each other instead of immediately reacting and disagreeing.
I am constantly amazed by the number of intelligent white Americans (most often conservatives) who are so ignorant about the issue of race.
One reason that RACE MATTERS is that for our nations entire history we have practiced injustice against certain of our citizens based on race. Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, and most everyone who is not European has been treated unfairly throughout our history because of race. And we don't want to talk about that fact.
My hope is that Americans would seek to understand each other. That they would listen to people of different races when they talk and try to understand why they are saying what they are saying. That white Americans would quit talking only to other white Americans about race. No wonder so many don't get it. That people of color in our country would be listened to and then in turn seek to dialogue on issues of race.
What do you think? Is race still an issue in America? Do you think Barack has a chance of winning the presidency? How do you motivate people to talk and listen and discuss race with people who are not like them? How can the church encourage this dialogue and true justice?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pledge of Allegiance

Today, I received an e-mail from someone who I will leave nameless about the importance of the pledge of allegiance. It had a story by John McCain from when he was a prisoner of war. It was a nice story.

I wrestle with the idea of "pledging allegiance" to a country. I try to be patriotic. I am thankful that I live in the USA. In many ways, our nation has been blessed by God.

We are not a Christian nation.
We have never been a Christian nation.

As a follower of Jesus, I pledge my allegiance to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I will be committed to my country except when that commitment is in opposition to the higher authority of Jesus Christ. My allegiance is first and foremost to Jesus.

I think that to often in American Christianity, we have confused allegiance to country with allegiance to the KING. As a result, we often follow the empire of freedom, democracy, individualism, hedonism, and materialism. We need to follow the path that leads to suffering, self denial, loving your neighbor as yourself, and taking up your cross daily.

I relate to those in chapter 11 of Hebrews. In verses 13-16 they are described as:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive
the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And
they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on
. People who say such things show that they are looking for a
country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left,
they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they
were longing for a better country
—a heavenly one. Therefore God is
not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

As a Christian, do you ever feel this kingdoms in conflict tension? How do you feel about pledging allegiance to America?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Is this what God wanted?

This week, I read the book Pagan Christianity by George Barna and Frank Viola. The basic premise of the book is to offer research that shows that many of our church practices have roots in paganism.

I would not agree with all of the books conclusions. I also felt that many of the "facts" were presented with this viewpoint being emphasized.

That being said, the book offered a lot of great questions and I would recommend reading it. Many of the questions asked, we asked ourselves more than five years ago when we were beginning to come together as the church that is now called Lighthouse Christian Fellowship.

Here are some sample questions that the book addresses:

Why do we dress up for church?
Are we expected to tithe?
Why do we build or buy buildings to meet as a church?
Should there be a "head" pastor or primary leader?
When we say "church" today, why do we mean a building or a place?

I continue to wrestle with my doctrine of the church. What should it look like? What should it not be? What things have we made it, that are a barrier to it being what God intended it to be?

Let me know some of your thoughts about what the church is supposed to look like. I want to hear from people who love the church as I do, not those who hate church and want to dismiss it as irrelevent.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Urban Prophets

I have been encouraged by the music of Lecrae, Tedashi, the 116 Clique as well as their predecessors in their genre, Cross Movement. What is most exciting to me about these men of God is that their lives are about ministry. Music is just one of the outlets of expression of that lifestyle.

Reach Life Ministries recently produced a gospel tract that is relevant in style to the urban culture, but with the same timeless truth of the gospel. You can find an on-line interactive version here:

What new resources have you found useful for the gospel?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A national tragedy

There is a tragic issue in our country that is not even mentioned in this election time dialogue.

The US of A leads the world in incarceration rates. I checked several sources just to confirm this.

Something is broken.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a friend, Matt Harris, about this very issue. It was on his mind because of an opinion article in the Chicago Tribune by Clarence Page.,0,6389297.column

The article states that more than one in 100 adults in the U.S. is in jail or prison. That number is shocking to me. But of course it gets worse.

The article goes on to state that one in every nine black men ages 20 to 34 is incarcerated. So this tragedy has a racial component to it.

Doesn't it make you wonder if the reason that this tragedy in our country is not even being mentioned is because many people are not to concerned with the fact that so many black men are locked in a cage. Maybe we have not progressed as far as a nation when it comes to "justice for all" as we think we have.

I know that the issue is complex and multifaceted, but some questions still need to be asked. I am not naive enough to think this is the only reason for this crisis, but I am also perceptive enough to see that this issue is in someway related to race.

I am a person who doesn't mind identifying problems (obviously), but I get much more excited about working towards solutions.

Anyone have any thoughts on this national tragedy?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A beautiful bride

I love the church.

The Bible refers to the church as the bride of Christ

I once heard Don Davis say "if the church ain't your momma, then God ain't your daddy"

So many today, claim to love God, but they are always upset with the church. I feel that often Satan gets our focus on the fallen nature of the people in the church and takes our eyes off of the beauty of God's grace in those individuals. God bringing his chosen people together is a beautiful thing. We should not miss the beauty of the bride.

I admit it is not always easy to be the church, or live out church, or even to live with the church. We need to focus on the beauty of this bride instead of always wanting to spotlight all it's faults.

I thank God for allowing me to be a part of Lighthouse Christian Fellowship. We are far from perfect, but we are a reflection of the far reaching grace of God. And I'm sure that in His sight we are beautiful.

How do you feel about church?

It matters how you live

As a church, we are going through Philippians. I was challenged by Paul's challenge to the church in verse 27 of chapter 1:
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
To live worthy of the gospel of Christ.

This is our calling as a follower of Jesus. But working it out on a day to day basis is the challenge.

What does living worthy of the gospel of Christ look like to you?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Love and Respect

Someone once taught me that women have a need to know that they are loved and men have a need to know that they are respected.

I have observed a lot of marital trouble in my time that is centered around this issue.

A man who feels disrespected. A woman who feels that she is not loved.

In Ephesians 5, Paul offers us some instructions on a healthy marraige. He knew that men and women are not the same. So his instructions for a husband were different than his instructions for a wife. The section ends with verse 33 where Paul says:

each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Love and respect

I am slowly learning how to love my wife after ten years of marraige. I still have a long way to go, but knowing what she needs helps a lot.

Anyone else still learning things about marraige?


Proverbs 22:6
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Last night I was sitting with my children, explaining to them some things about the Bible and who God is. My older children had a comment and a question for everything I said, but my youngest son Matthew, who is not yet three, kept standing up, climbing on them, and trying to get our attention.

I was holding a Bible and asked him "What is this book?"

He said "God's Word".

He knew what we had been talking about. Maybe not every detail, but a lot.
Training our children starts early. Children are learning things from a very early age and we need to take seriously the responsibility of teaching them and also the life that we model for them.

What are some ways that we can teach our children?

Saturday, March 1, 2008


For the last several years I have coached a 5th-6th grade boys basketball team in our neighborhood. Today was the last day of the season and we did not win the championship. We had talent and size (important in basketball), but one thing was missing that is a key for success.


The boys were always on each other for simple mistakes. Always trying to do things on their own. Always seeing the faults of others and never taking responsibility for their own mistakes. Not all of them were like this, but most of them.

Basketball is just a game, but life requires teamwork as well.

Marriages are in trouble when a spouse sees every little mistake in their spouse. A business won't last if each employee tries to accomplish everything by themself. A church will be in trouble if it's people are always pointing out each others faults and too prideful to face up to their own failures.

How do you see teamwork as important?