Race. What’s next?

mlk-let-freedom-ringSo on this MILK Jr.  Day 2017, I still wonder about race.

With the inauguration of Barak Obama as President of the United States, in some ways, “we are more divided now than before.” What happened? What are we? What’s next?

What happened? Our nation has a lot of baggage racially. That is not news. We have minorities who are have been marginalized for a long time. The racial problem is often held in abeyance. We have been asleep. Getting along. Better but unresolved.

Where are we? When President Obama was elected the main thing I just knew would get better was the matter of race. The opposite has happened. After 8 years, we have a worse problem than we have had in my lifetime.  I don’t blame all this on President Obama, but he is the leader and owns it. We do have some racial problems; that’s obvious. We now have movements to state #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter. I understand the reasons for both. But these only make people takes sides. They divide. The real reconciliation happens when the Police Officer is shown playing basketball with the kids in the black neighborhood.  The real reconciliation happens when the black teenager is shown hugging Police Officers at a protest.

What President Obama chose to do when he was elected was use his political capital. He chose to govern. That’s his job, but … but he left a lot of people behind in his policies. There was immediate separation and division. It’s was over quick. Race got left out as an issue. It was only spoken of when shootings happened of Black men and Police Officers.

The President and the Democratic Party left 40%-50% of the country behind. Racial issues and civil rights were mainstreamed culturally by the President’s leadership with same-sex marriage. So, any criticism of the President and his policies led to charges of racism or racial attitudes. While some of this could be true, it was not true of everyone.

We are in a bad spot. We have the perfect storm. For 8 years a large portion of the nation is ignored. Trump is elected in an uncomfortable election partly based on a “we have been ignored” momentum. Race and division have been added. Then President Elect Trump has not helped himself with his brashness. We are in a bad spot.

whats-nextWhat’s next? We cannot move forward doing the same ole thing. It’s not working. Just take a look at the homicides in Chicago: 700+. Watch the political animosity and it’s racial tone. We must change.

Dr. King was a voice crying in the wilderness. I sometimes wonder what he would be saying today. Not that I question his message but the contextualization of his message for the culture of 2017.  We need to have a contextualized message for race. How can that happen? Are we operating on the methods and attitudes of the past? It’s complicated.

What do we need to do next? That is what is most important.

  1. Pastors must not grow weary in preaching a biblical view of ethnicity.  They need to actually call out race issues specifically to help minorities, but also know when to challenge all people of every race to live in light of the Imago Dei.
  2. Christians need to realize we are different than the world on race.
  3. To more forward we must admit the past issues on race.
  4. Christians must realize a “Hunger Games” style approach to law and order in all matters may be inevitable in the end times from a worldly standpoint, but it unconscionable to us as Christians to live like our culture.
  5. We need a President who will seize the initiative on talking about race, healing the nation, and bringing economic change to minority neighborhoods.
  6. If I were Trump, I would seek to enlist Obama and Bush (GW) to aggressively lead the nation in racial reconciliation.
  7. Realize everyone will not get on board with racial reconciliation. Heaven on Earth should be our pursuit, but the difference between Romans 7 and Romans 8 is Jesus, by choice. We still have sinful natures and a fallen world and deliverance from it is choosing Jesus and living His ethic of ethnicity.

The list could go on. A couple of things here are radical. You may read them as ridiculous. But I’m committed to not seeing us stay where we are. That has not worked. Things have gotten worse.

We the church can see a better day. We can experience what the world groans for. The world? The world is subject to the things of the world and does not have victory in this matter. And many other matters. Followers of Christ do not have to be subject to living the ways of the world. We are counter culture.

Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You left a great legacy for us to live forward.

Why the Global Leadership Summit.

I’ve attended 7 Global Leadership Summits. I can’t believe it. This event has helped me more than any other event when it comes to pure leadership learning and development. It a speciality event. Willowcreek Church has an amazing niche going. They have matched Christianity with the business world in an evangelistic way that is appealing yet tender. You should make the Summit a priority in your life, and that of your church. Here’s why.

The Summit is the gift that keeps on giving. 
  • Bill Hybels has taken leadership and inspired the church to be better. He says “everyone wins when a leader gets better.” There are some people who get favor on something and should get your ear. Hybels is that Pastor. He has the gift of leadership. And he passes it on in many ways, but the Summit stands at the top.
  • The Summit makes teams better. Individuals attend and are fed top shelf information. Even when the information is too much, it’s so good that you can’t help but say, “that was good. Amazing research.” The content even when directly unrelated, is indirectly related to a problem I’m having with my own leadership or within our team.
The Summit is the gift that keeps on giving even when it hurts. 

Hybels talk is usually my favorite because he is a pastor and I hear is pastoral voice in his talks. So this year he really gut punched me. He said something like, “how many Summits do you have to attend before you fix the culture of your team?” That hurt. I’ve come to at least three Summits where leadership team culture has been addressed, and I had intentions, but I never leveraged the Summit deep enough into our system to see things change. This is the year that changes. I’m making the move next week. Our staff meetings are doing to be filled with material and discussions that center around the health of our team.

The Summit is the gift that needs to keep on giving through you. 

Even if you didn’t attend the Summit this year, you should engage the Summit. Get the sessions. Listen to what is available on YouTube. I’m making changes now. Simplicity helped me greatly. One thing we will do is bi monthly leadership lunches in 45 minutes that reinforce the Summit content for those in our community who have attended in the last three years we hosted. This will not only extend the Summit better in “land in between” yet will also let us know if we can harness more momentum for the Summit next year (August 10-11, 2017).

Why the Global Leadership Summit? The Summit is the gift that keeps on giving that you can’t afford to not leverage in your life and ministry. The Summit is not my only leadership development source. It is one I value.

How Satan works.

How does Satan work?

Something I state fairly often is “I don’t know the technical interaction of how Satan, Demons, the sinful nature of man, fallen creation, free will and evil; I’m not sure how they work.” What I can say without a doubt is they do work. There is evil. Satan is a fallen angel who is condemned already to hell forever. He knows where he is going. So what does he want to do? How does he work? What’s his purpose? I’ve learned there are four things the enemy wants to do.

1. Satan the Separator – Judas Iscariot was able to be a part of The Twelve. He had he same power the other eleven had. He went out on the same mission trips the others did. He at some point chose to follow Jesus. He experienced Jesus healing, feeding 5000, teaching, and living out the gospel. Yet, at some point in time, Satan put it in Judas mind, his heart to live a life separated from God and the other eleven.

Scripture says, “Now by the time of supper, the Devil has already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Him [Jesus] ~ John 13:2

We can be so close to the things of God and God Himself, yet we can live a compartmentalized life. We can all be Judas. Satan wants to separate us. Satan hates the people of God. Satan is evil because he chose to be and he cannot be changed now. It’s too late for him. So Satan’s one purpose is to work against God. Satan can’t touch God, so he often goes for the next best thing: God’s people.

Jesus prayed His desired purpose for unity because He knows the church is strongest when it’s together. Jesus said, “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one is Us so the world may believe You sent Me” ~ John 17:21.

Satan is a separator. He wants to separate the people of God. If you see separation in the church where you live and serve, you can know Satan is behind it. He wants to separate your friends, family and faith family. If Satan can separate, he is well on his way to messing up our families, our churches.

Do you see God wants unity and Satan wants separation? The next time you have relational separation happening, remember Satan is behind it (Matt 16:23). And remember it may not just be you who are viewing the situation from the outside angle. Satan will use anyone to bring division in his people. I’ve learned to be careful at every angle. God deserves it.

2. Satan the Isolator – Peter the Son of Jonah became the mouthpiece of the church in Acts 1-12. He was a fisherman before Jesus called him to join up. Peter, never scared to jump up with a bold proclamation, said, ” …. I will lay my life down for You” (John 13:37). We all know Peter ended up denying Jesus around the fire barrel and left weeping and broken (Mark 14:72). Peter left disappointed and demoralized. That’s what happens when Satan isolates a Christian. He wants to isolate because he works in isolation. He will talk a person out of church, of out fellowship, away from accountability in community, away, away, away, from everything God, etc.

The next time you find yourself isolated? Remember who wants you there. It’s not God (Psalm 133)

3. Satan the Demoralizer – Judas. Peter. Both got demoralized after Satan worked in their lives. Once separated, then isolated, Satan works on our emotions. Our souls. He gets us alone and makes us forget God, forget Jesus work on the cross, he makes us have mental conversations that are time wasters and hate breeders. He gets us alone and make it rain. Judas committed suicide. Peter left weeping. Jesus knew Peter was hurting to the extent that He gave news of the resurrection specifically to Peter (Mark 16:5). Satan can depress us. He desires to suck the spiritual life from us like a new vacuum on a dusty floor. But Jesus, he restored Peter to the ministry as Peter repented and made himself available to God again (John 21).

The next time you feel demoralized, look back to see how Satan is working. Get your identity from the cross of Jesus Christ. Claim Gal 2:20 as you run forward for God.

4. Satan the Decimator – Peter knew this better than anyone.  He experienced the works of Satan, the influence of evil and the restoration and healing of God. Peter blew it, lived with it, came back from it and learned from it. He knew what Satan did to Judas. Satan decimated Judas life. Satan doesn’t just want to sideline or sidetrack God’s people . He want to take us out. That is scary, but it’s true. Peter said in his letter, “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil  is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour” (1 Pet 5:8). He wants to take believers out of action. He wants to get us unprotected, separated, demoralized so he can decimate us in isolation.

Does seeing Satan’s activity as a decimator put urgency in you to walk close to Jesus?

What can we do to protect ourselves, our families and our church families?

  • Stay in the word and live from it; take a Bible everywhere you go – Matt 4:1-11
  • Pray at all times, especially with a few other passionate praying people – Acts 4:31;         1 Thess 5:17; Col 4:2
  • Remain humble no matter what – 1 Peter 5:6-7 

I heard a great quote somewhere. It this, “Obedience brings the presence of God; humility keeps the presence of God.”