Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Blind Side

I recently saw the very popular movie The Blind Side.  I must admit that it was a very intriguing story.  But the whole thing left me a bit unsettled.

In summary, the movie is about a family who takes in a young man who is a ward of the state.  They offer him a home and eventually adopt him into their family.  The compassion that is modeled is compelling.  Their actions are portrayed as flowing from their faith since faith is shown as central to the family and their kids attend a Christian school.  The young man eventually gets a college scholarship to play football and is now in the NFL.

But the movie also left me asking a lot of questions that are still quite unsettling to me.

Was this man's dignity stripped of him in showing his story on the big screen?
Why was the movie's  portrayal of the mom in the story as the type of white woman that makes black people not trust white people?
Why does Micheal Oher, who the movie is about, say that he has no interest in seeing the movie?
Does this really model loving one's neighbor?

I also thought:   If I was black....
Would I have any interest in seeing this movie?
Would this movie seem insulting to me?
Would this movie give me a negative feeling about white people?

I'm not saying that the family who opened their home to Micheal did something wrong, but making a movie about this young man's story really unsettled me.

Any one else see the movie?  Thoughts?  Reactions?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


On December 26th, Reach Records released the debut album of DJ Official.  The album contains a compilation of original songs by over 20 artists including- Lecrae, Flame, J-son, Trip Lee and many more.  Fish, as he is affectionately called, is a master DJ and producer and this album is a must have for every fan of Christian hip hop.  Pick up yours today or go online to REACH RECORDS.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pack the house

Yesterday was a good day. It was one of the reasons that I love our church. Relational. Laid back. Family like. We all gathered at our house for a game, children's story, singing, and a word about the importance of God's gift. The house was packed. Now I remember why we have two house groups.

Then everyone headed to another families home. We packed gift boxes for everyone to take and give to their neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc. It was great to see everyone working together. Then we ate and played games.

The day was full. The house was full. Really full. The shoes by the door told it all. Shoes, shoes, and more shoes.
As we all left with boxes to share the good news of God's gift, I thought of Romans 10:15.

"How beautiful are the feet of them who bring good news".

Monday, December 14, 2009

Disney's first black princess

Welcome Tiana! Disney now has a black princess. My wife and daughter got to be a part of a big celebration. 5th 3rd Bank donated a princess party to the after school program that they are a part of for over 50 mothers and daughters. Tiarra's and make-up. Red carpet and stretch limos. They made a big deal of it for them. Three different local news channels covered the story.

So is this a big deal? I mean the Obama's are in the White House. I believe it is for young African-American girls who have never quite seen themselves in Cinderella or Jasmine.

I read an article today in the Chicago Tribune which talked about why this is meaningful to African-Americans.

I was actually suprised that co-director John Musker said "he never knew African-American women may have been waiting for decades for a black princess". This is how disconnected we often are from the experience of others.

I have not seen the movie. I have already heard some of the criticisms, but I am glad that in 2009 Disney is now offering a princess story that features a princess with black skin.

Do you think this is a significant event?

David Warren

Another person in my life who has been a tremendous influence is David Warren. Dr. Warren was a professor of mine at Cedarville College. He stood out to me. One thing I noticed was his ability to answer almost all questions with verses from the Bible that applied to the situation. During my junior year, I asked him to take time to disciple me. He agreed. He said that to him that meant that we could get together once a week and grab a Coke and talk. That was what I had in mind.

Over the next two years of school, I came to treasure this hour each week. At the time, Dr. Warren was the only faculty in the Bible department that did not have his Ph.D. He lacked the academic credentials that often mark a person with knowledge, but he was(is)a man of great wisdom.

We would talk about theology. We would talk about life. We would talk about relationships. Mostly, I would asked questions and then listen.

When Lisa and I married, we asked Dr. Warren to speak at our wedding. We rarely keep in contact any more, but as I consider people who lead me today I still think of David Warren.

Much of who I am and seek to be as a leader comes from things that I learned and admired about Dr. Warren. I desire to be a person of sound practical wisdom. I desire to be a person who is willing to sit and discuss life with people. I desire to know the scriptures and use them to impact real life. I desire to make an impact on people that lasts beyond the time and proximity of our earthly relationship.

Dr. David Warren is a leader and he has marked my life. Thank you David Warren for taking time with a young college student who was seeking wisdom.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ruth Brown

I have been reflecting on ways that the sovereign God has used people to help allow me to be who I am today. One such person is Ruth Brown.

My maternal grandmother, Venita Misner, met Ruth as a young adult living in Chicago. Ruth was renting a room from my grandma's family and they became friends. Ruth was a committed follower of Christ and began to share her faith with my grandma. My grandma came to a faith in Christ as well. My grandma married and moved back to Grand Rapids, MI.

Ruth never married. She took on my grandma's family as her own. She was "Aunt Brownie" to us growing up. She prayed for our family as her own. Although Ruth lived her life in relative obscurity to most, she was a warrior for the kingdom. She was very involved in her local church in Chicago. She was close friends with many leaders of long time ministries based out of Chicago including the founders of AWANA and Sunshine Gospel Ministries. She had a passion for Christ and a passion for Chicago.

Fast forward many years. God was calling me as a college student to explore a life of full time ministry. During my sophomore year, I made a decision to spend the summer in Chicago serving with Inner City Impact. No one was more excited than "Aunt Brownie". She dropped me off at the beginning of the summer. Her health was so bad, that she could hardly climb the stairs to the third floor of the building. That summer God began to prepare my heart for His calling me back to Chicago after graduation.

Ruth Brown died in the fall of that year.

In March of the next year, I was struggling financially and contemplating dropping out of college until I could find a way to pay for it all. I got a call informing me that Ruth's unsaved sister Marge, felt that God wanted her to use what earthly possessions she had to pass on to help me pay for college. Ruth had no real wealth of her own, butshe had convince her sister Marge to invest what she had in me. Marge said that Ruth was so excited that God was calling me to Chicago and it was only right for her money to help make it happen.

Over the next three years, I was given $30,000 towards finishing my college degree. I took no loans after that point and ended college with only the debt from my first two years of school.

Jehovah-Jireh- God our provider!

God used a faithful servant of God who lived life unnoticed by the world to begin a spiritual heritage in my family many years ago. And then in her death, He used her again to help make it possible for me to be who I am today.

It is only by the grace of God that I now lead a scholarship program called PURSUE to help support other Christian young people as they go to college. Without this faithful women, I don't know that I would serve Lighthouse Christian Fellowship in shepherding our young community of faith on the west side of Chicago.

Aunt Brownie, thank you for being a part of my great cloud of witnesses. (Hebrews 12:1,2)