We’re Ready to Listen.

I need to start here, in a plea for peace, please stop the violence. We need civility if we are to move forward with change. You have the attention of the world, it’s time to speak calmly, rationally, just about everyone is ready to listen. Continued violence is only going to cause an increase in reactionary measures that will turn good people into monsters, dilute your message, and deny you the audience that you need and require to begin the process of real change. Continued violence and destruction will continue to hurt good people, it will hurt already emotionally hurting people, and silence those whose voices need to be heard. Please end the violence.

The complexity of this situation is overwhelming and there is no easy answer, but what we are doing, what has been done in the past is not working.

Curtis Hayes was right in the above video. We need to end this cycle. We need to come up with a better way to get the message across. I need to emphasize and applaud how he handled himself. He has now been able to communicate to the world his message because amongst the chaos, he was reasonable, logical, calm, and precise, rarely does anyone get to share their grievances from a jail cell. Getting the message across effectively requires calm, peace and pressure.

Much like any wound, we need to apply constant pressure to stop the bleeding of our fellow americans, no change will happen if we go back to our previous lives once the fires are out and the protests are over. We need to apply pressure to our legislative branch to make adjustments, but ultimately this change will start in us. If we change our hearts, we change our future actions and decisions, the law only applies to things that have happened in the past, things that have already been done. This is not a law problem, this is a heart problem.

This is a spiritual post. It has to be. Without God there can be no positive change. As we get further and further away from Him, we will get more and more lost. God is everything that is good, He is the metric as to which we can measure what is right, and by following His guidance, what is wrong. Our society, culture has been moving away from God and the further away we get, the more lost we become. The more lost we are, the more wickedness and sinfulness will prevail which will push us further and further into civil unrest. We need God, now more than ever.

I want to draw your attention into Proverbs, written by King Solomon, who instead of riches, power, or long life asked God for discernment and an obedient heart, to understand justice. God granted his request by giving him a wise and understanding heart, to the point that there has never been or ever will be another like him to ever walk the Earth. ( 1 Kings 3:7-14 ) By some coincidence I had been reading through Proverbs when the riots hit, and it has a lot to say to everyone in the middle of this pain and unrest.

  • Change starts in your everyday behavior, and affects the world around you as your heart changes: seek righteousness and integrity.
    • Proverbs 20:7 – The one who lives with integrity is righteous; his children after him will be happy.
    • Proverbs 13:21 – Disaster pursues sinners, but good rewards the righteous.
  • Seek wisdom,
  • Seek the Lord and you will find peace
    • Proverbs 16:7 – When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

When we justify disorder, wickedness, evil and lawlessness because of something someone did to us it only leads to more wickedness, disorder evil and lawlessness, an infinite cycle that will never, ever end. Instead, we should uphold the law to the best of our abilities, which is to battle against wickedness, ( Proverbs 28:4 ) and even a step further; if you are able to show kindness back to those who would do you harm, your enemies, it’s like pouring burning coals on their head. ( Proverbs 25:21-22 )

To the ones that would say that they are avenging the death of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, or countless others with violence, looting, hurting others, destruction of property, I would point you to Proverbs 20:22:

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Don’t say, “I will avenge this evil! ” Wait on the Lord , and He will rescue you.

Proverbs 20:22

To those who are knowingly and blatantly racist, or discriminate over any group of people that you that have jurisdiction over, right after that in Proverbs 20:23, and Proverbs 20:10:

Differing weights are detestable to the Lord , and dishonest scales are unfair.

Proverbs 20:23 HCSB

To those applauding the riots, bailing out those who have committed legitimate crimes of hate, violence and destruction:

A person with great anger bears the penalty; if you rescue him, you’ll have to do it again.

Proverbs 19:19 HCSB

To my brothers and sisters in Christ we need to point people to Jesus, without Him, no change is possible, and we will be right back here again in a few years. We need to speak up, and speak out when we witness an injustice:

‘Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy. ‘

Proverbs 31:8-9

There is so much wrong right now, I am overwhelmed and saddened. I am overwhelmed by the sheer scale of this issue and the complexity of the solution. I am saddened by the continued pain my fellow americans endure.

We need to grab the wheel and steer it towards what is right, we need to point our world to Christ. We look to Him because we cannot always trust ourselves to make the best decisions. We need Jesus, or at the most basic level, even if you don’t want to be religious, we need to follow His example, if not for you, for your children, for future generations, for your fellow human beings. Curtis Hayes was worried about his children following in his footsteps, he didn’t want them to follow in his footsteps. Christ gives us an alternative way to walk, a better way to go. He has come so that we can have life in abundance ( John 10:10 ), that He works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose ( Romans 8:28 ). We need Jesus, who changes our hearts. As our hearts change, our lives change, our families change and our communities change.

Please stop the violence. We are ready to listen.

Stories of Hope – Week 2

This week, Danny talks about our expectations and when our reality doesn’t line up with what we thought was going to happen. As a UT fan, he is definitely familiar with disappointment and failed expectations but this can happen a lot in sports, moreso to UT, but as fans we go to a game, or we watch a game hoping for, wanting, desiring, EXPECTING, a win. Sometimes we are left empty, and disappointed because of those failed expectations.

  • “Have you ever had expectations for something that went nothing like you had hoped or expected? “

This unfortunately also happens to us in life, when we have expectations about certain things that don’t go our way, maybe you never hoped or expected that the last part of your senior year would be spent at home, that you’d miss out on sports, prom, or graduation. Maybe you never hoped or expected that your parents would get a divorce, that your best friend would pass away in a car accident. You had different expectations.

I bet Jesus’ disciples had different expectations than when and how He was led to the cross to die. I have heard that people were expecting the Messiah, the Savior to conquer the roman empire who had overtaken Israel to free them from the oppression of Rome. They even argue at one point over who was going to sit at the right and the left hand of Jesus when He takes the throne. ( Mark 10:35-45 ) When He had come for something so much bigger than what they expected. Jesus said in John 16:33,

‘ “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”’

John 16:33

Jesus was trying to prepare them for what was going to happen, because He knew what was going to happen, what was required of Him to not just free Israel, but free the world. After His death, the disciples were afraid, because their expectations were totally destroyed. They ran and hid because they were scared that the roman empire was going to do the same to them because they associated with Jesus. Their collective world came crashing down when their expectations did not meet their reality.

In that darkest moment, God was still doing something: Christ had risen. When all hope was lost, God was still doing something. Matthew 28:2-7

John 20:19-23 – When Jesus appeared to them, they were overjoyed. This is what Jesus said He was going to do, but they did not expect it to go this way, they did not see Him being killed to complete the work He started. They did not know in the midst of all this that Jesus was working.

  • Has there been a time when you can remember when something did not go the way you had hoped or expected?
    • How did God work through that time?
    • What good came from that, which wouldn’t have otherwise?

Just because things don’t work out the way you envisioned, doesn’t mean that God isn’t working. When you don’t feel it, when you don’t see it, He is working. We have that promise. Maybe that’s where you are reading this, maybe there are things going on now that aren’t going the way you expected; be encouraged because He has overcome the world, Have courage because He has overcome the world, have hope because He has made a way to have eternal life with Him, and now this is not our home.

‘weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. ‘

Psalms 30:5

This is the promise that we have. That sadness and despair only lasts a moment, but that our joy, peace, and life with Him will last forever. Just because things don’t go the way you expect doesn’t mean He doesn’t love you, just because you don’t see Him working, doesn’t mean He doesn’t love you, just because you don’t feel it doesn’t mean He doesn’t love you. Sometimes you will feel lonely, but scripture says that if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you ( James 4:8 ) and He is faithful to do that.

Just because things don’t work out the way you envisioned, doesn’t mean that God isn’t working.

If you are looking for this hope and peace, and don’t have a relationship with Jesus, or just want to explore more, please leave a comment, I’d love to connect with you or connect you with one of the pastors I am covering in my notes.

Why is Easter such a big deal?

Known for the Easter Bunny, chocolate eggs and the first opportunity of the year to wear white without it being a fashion fopaux, Easter is one of two Sunday services that the most christians feel obligated and convicted to attend. I mean after all, this was the christening of the christian religion, of the church; Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. With all that Easter didn’t seem to matter that much to me for some reason.

I’m not sure I fully understood Easter growing up.

Easter was a somewhat confusing set of events with Passover, Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Maybe it was the sudden bombardment of Christianisms, religious jargon and complete inundation of holy days and rituals that made me glaze over. Maybe I just didn’t care to be drug to church after strategically locating 10 pounds of candy in the backyard conveniently wrapped up in multi-colored plastic egg-shaped containers.

So why is Easter such a big deal?

Easter, like I said earlier, is the day we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead but I have read something recently that made it more clear than that. As if coming back to life after being dead wasn’t good enough, but I want to also point out that Jesus predicted it. (Luke 9:21-22)

So Jesus predicted what would happen to Him, and pulled it off. Not only that, He predicted other people’s actions. Jesus predicted Judas’ betrayal (Luke 22:21-22), Peter’s denial (Luke 22:34), He predicted the Roman destruction of the temple (Matthew 24:1-2).

In Math there is a concept called the transitive property which I have used to reaffirm my faith and my belief in what the Bible says as fact instead of a wild-conspiracy-concoction-of-fiction somehow compiled across several millennia by different authors. The transitive property basically says if a =b and b=c then a=c. I use this mathematical idea to convey to you, that if Jesus said, “I am the Son of God, I will die and rise again on the third day” we can then in fact surmise that since He died and rose again on the third day, that the former must also be true. Resurrection Sunday, Easter Sunday, gives Jesus’ whole claim that He was the Son of God, and His entire ministry complete validity.

Here’s another excuse to throw a party on Easter:

When we can say with confidence that Jesus is who He said He is, then we can also say with confidence that what He said must be true as well. Who would have better credentials than the Son of God? John 3 gives us our reason for celebration, specifically John 3:16, Jesus said that God loved the world so much, that He sent his only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

Eternal Life! If we believe that Jesus is who He said He is, then we’re going to live forever and more than that, Paul writes that in Christ we then become children of God, (Galatians 3:26-29) with an inheritance to His Kingdom. I’ve got a spot in Heaven that God has reserved for me, that Jesus is personally preparing for me (John 14:1-3) and that is enough to get me excited. THAT is why Easter Sunday is such a big deal.