A Letter To Us, Grace Midtown Church

To Grace Midtown Church, to my beloved brothers and sisters who I care for tremendously. From Housefires worship night to CONNECT Team to softball games, we are family now and forever. I write to you with a heavy heart that has been increasing in weight for two years now. It is important to note that this letter comes after talking with the three main church pastors (two of whom I met with twice) and ultimately informing them that I will be telling others.

There is no perfect church or person. My fear of the Lord causes me to love the people of Grace, the pastors of Grace, and the LGBTQ community so much that I cannot be selfishly silent on this any longer. It does not bring me joy to write this letter about what is occurring in our church. The tearful wrestle to write this comes after continual unfortunate instances of sin and false teaching from some of our church people.

I do not write this while pridefully standing on a mountaintop, but I write this while kneeling in a valley crying next to a cross.

This is not a letter of judgment or condemnation. It is an informative, cautionary letter to us all. Let us remember James 5:16, 1 Corinthians 5:12, Proverbs 27:17, and especially Luke 17:1-4. God doesn’t want modified behavior. He wants to transform the heart so that the out-coming behavior is different. He does this via the Holy Spirit AND Gospel community.

 

What is happening?

For summation sake this will focus on homosexuality (although sexual sin, drunkenness, universalism, and a lack of qualified leadership are all serious worries that have been brought up to the church staff by myself and others over time).

Note: The universalism piece is huge but will not be addressed. However, we have several people in church claiming that Jesus is not the only way. Some others claiming that there isn’t a Hell. But I digress. 

As we may or may not know, our church, for various reasons, has no “official stated stance” on homosexuality. But silence alone can be enabling. For example, to not speak against racism is indeed allowing racism. It is sin from omission. This passive avoidance on the topic (coupled with sexual sin and a lack of accountability) has caused many damaged hearts and frustrated souls over the years. With there being silence on this topic you’d assume the pendulum to be in the middle “neutral” zone. To the contrary, there are MANY examples where people in our church aired on the side of embracing acts of homosexuality and same-sex relationships. Here is a major one:

  • There was an unofficial Housechurch formed months ago that calls themselves “Open Table Housechurch”. It is explicitly stated to be open to gay, lesbian, transgender, straight people, married and singles. At one point the gatherings were held at a pastor’s house. At surface level, it is may seem innocent. I mean, how great is it for people to get together who share a similar struggle and form community together to overcome it? Unfortunately, this is far from the case. There is a strong, unbiblical agenda being pushed.

One of its leaders is an openly gay male who is a staunch advocate for the acceptance of the active homosexual lifestyle in the Church. He is both a blogger and podcaster on the matter. He has, to quote him directly, “been blogging for over three years, with an emphasis on the intersections of faith, sexuality, and American Culture”.

This “Open Table Housechurch” has people that volunteer at Grace Midtown events AND are involved in other “official” Housechurches with an intent to invite others to come check out theirs. Or simply just believe what they believe … in some ways it is working. They are recruiting. The goal of this Housechurch is not to unify under Christ to conquer sin. No, there is no wrestle with whether practicing a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. Instead, there is strong advocacy on an emotional and intellectual level that embraces these lifestyles. That is drastically different. As the Apostle Paul would say, ‘they have plausible sounding arguments’ that are leading our potential/current brothers and sisters astray.

This is not analogous to the biblical practice of repentance of what the Bible clearly lists as sin. Is this really our millennial generation? Would we rather be deceived and think well of ourselves? An essential part of the Gospel is repentance – without it, it is an incomplete Gospel. Sometimes repentance isn’t just repenting of things I know are wrong. Sometimes it is also repenting of things I thought were my virtue.

What have been some of the outcomes?

Acts of heresy and false teaching are repeatedly warned against in scripture. In my two years at Grace Midtown I have watched spiritually mature Christians leave most times due to either the lack of addressed sin or the skewed leanings of the biblical understanding of homosexual sin. This past summer some of them saw online two women get engaged to one another. At the engagement celebration one of Grace Midtown’s pastors was seen/tagged in multiple photos on Facebook and Instagram joyously celebrating with them. They have seen or heard as a few Housechurches have said that homosexuality is not a sin. They saw many things over time until it was too much to handle.

I know a solid chunk of people who have left. These are warm-hearted, doctrinally/spiritually sharp believers who now must find community somewhere else. This makes things tougher for us at Grace Midtown because we could have used them for discipling others and in leadership roles. They had awesome communities at Grace but, at the same time, had deep, biblical convictions that begrudgingly caused them to leave. And this is continuing – even people in my own Housechurch because of this ongoing matter in our church. This directly makes it hard for me to lead my own people.

Something I have noticed in the culture of Atlanta churches, including our church, is the awareness of sin and accountability being a somewhat foreign concept when it comes to living out. Hence, the increasing occurrences of sexual sin, lack of Biblical accountability, and allowing of heretic teaching. This will cause various types of backsliding for our church as this continues to gain momentum … unless we act. (This is one of the reasons the average age at Grace Midtown may likely remain predominantly young.)

Image result for open door to field

There is a stark difference between having an open door church policy versus an open philosophically/theologically subjective church policy. Interesting how the latter ends up forcing some people out.

Aren’t the pastors supposed to correct this, not us?

That is a complex question with complex answers. It’s funny, in today’s churches the role preachers are expected to play for their congregation is teacher, babysitter, spiritual EMT, Holy Spirit, and chef all-in-one. Though the church staff is required to play a major role in shepherding the flock & equipping us (Ephesians 4:12-16, 1 Peter 5:2), they cannot physically do everything for us. We play a part. Biblically speaking church is a group of people walking together, coveting with one another to do life together for the glory of God, for the sanctification of their souls, and the fullness of Him. The involved communion, worship, teaching, sometimes discipline and sometimes rebuke (both receiving and giving). Churches are sometimes a joke because we live like the world. We are to be counter-cultural when it comes to our approach to money, power, and sex.

What does the Bible say would happen if we do not act?

We must act against false teaching (unknowingly or knowingly) of any kind or, as Revelation 2 would forecast, our church could be in danger of having its lampstand removed (i.e. The Holy Spirit).  We must learn from one another and be honest with where we are. Our great church staff are truthfully a busy bunch. But what the church staff has shown through the course of time is that their concern for the matters of sin is partly reactionary. What they care about consequently depends on how much we care about those matters (ex. porn addiction, letting anyone become Housechurch leaders without vetting in the past, etc.). They tend to be more reactive than proactive.

Thus, the foundation of our church is on emotion. Unfortunately, reason is increasingly losing ground and emotion happens to also be the primary weapon being used in the world in favor of homosexuality. Emotion is the familiar language in both camps. No one wants to be viewed as hateful or a bigot. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it. Once emotion is the controlling factor over reason, societal chaos ensues.” 

How did this happen in our Church?

Image result for pendulumEvery church has different niches. One of ours is that we are openly organic. An issue which arises from a very organic methodology of church is that it opens the door for anything thing to come inside without the ability to push people toward correction or truth. Now on the opposite far side of the pendulum you have some overly structured churches that shut the door people who don’t initially follow their rules. Both are wickedly damming and unbiblical. The answer is in the middle. 

Why write this letter?

A primary goal of this writing is not only to inform people but to also make you aware enough to talk to one another and the church in the context of biblical truth. Please be watchful. Be on guard. We will always be at war with Satan and our flesh. Fight for our brothers and sisters. Fight for the souls of those teaching falsely because we ALL need grace. What we do not only matters today and next year, but we are to always operate with reality of eternity in mind. We can say some of the right things in church but not act on them. “For many on the final day will say Lord Lord and he will say ‘depart from me for I never knew you’ (Matthew 7).

In life when we air toward passivity we give family, church, city, and life over to destruction. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty. Let this one day be one of our finest hours.

So I say what the Apostle Paul says, in Acts 20:26-31, that my heart and conscience are innocent by telling you; that I have done my part. I have nothing to personally gain from writing this letter. I risk being vilified, accused of causing disunity, or being misinterpreted. In the end those possibilities are light and momentary in comparison to the eternal weight of God.

I love you, I love you, I love you all.

Advertisements

The Answer: Why do Black People Tend to Think Whites Are Racist Or Hateful Toward Blacks?

Image result for racism
First things first, the goal in answering is NOT to bring about anyone’s emotion. This isn’t about morality therefore in this discussion it doesn’t matter if anyone thinks a particular treatment is tragic or justified. A psychologist or economist limits their emotion and opinion in their analyses. Yes, they consider it in their notes. But in order for them to see more clearly and objectively they leave as much out as possible. Too much emotion may cloud and control our reasoning, as C.S. Lewis once framed it. So this “answer” is not about justification of riots, protests, cop killing, slavery, buying candy, or talking back to parents.

How am I somewhat objective and qualified?

If you follow me on social media you may notice that I have never talked about race issues. This is because (1) I’d rather write about Jesus; (2) honestly, I’ve grown to feel ashamed and embarrassed that I am black (something that applies to this topic but may be elaborated on in a future post) and (3) it always seemed pointless coming from me. That is, people would think I’m biased because I am black. I would NOT get upset at that either. I can’t really blame others for that natural reaction. If a Boston resident tries to tell me how great Tom Brady is…I’m naturally going to be skeptical because of course that guy loves Brady and The Patriots. However, I am opening up now because I realize much of the stuff I know isn’t known by many whites and what I can say isn’t being articulated by many blacks.

In today’s world, many people on both sides are not good with listening and being OBJECTIVE. In my experience black people get too emotional inside their bubble that they can’t have an objective discussion with white people. There has grown an innate level of distrust. Many whites, whether they care or not, have a hard time as well because they have natural blinders and historical privileges that prevent them from seeing objective as well. There is nothing inherently wrong with either side in their reasons because it’s not really a conscious effort. It’s naturally subconscious. For the past 50 years, most of this is due to the economic and sociological effects of our society.

What do I mean by sociological and economic effects? I’ll explain. This answer will be in 5 different phases: Micro, Macro, Familiarity of Stereotypes, Indifference, and Dr. King’s Frustration.

We’ve got to do a little ground work before we start though:

My professional career is in community and economic development. This is the process and policies by which a nation, state, county or city improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people. So what my company does is try to bring companies, large and small, to our state. Jobs, capital investment, and revenue are the goal. And darnit we will sell this state the best we can. With statistics, innovation, and persuasion, and more.

Various KEY factors come into play, such as transportation, quality of life, location, money, branding, etc. If you look it up, you’ll see that your own city and county has its own economic development department, chamber of commerce, and other affiliates that are focused on this initiative together. Economic development directly affects the current generation AND the generations long after it. 

Ok now, do we understand that? If so, we can move on.

1. The Micro

Now let’s begin to answer the question of why many black people see whites as responsible AND what is the reason of how much of the black community is where it is today.

We’ve got to go to history of course.

Set race aside and just view it in an Economic development lens. Let’s go back to Tulsa – however, not 2016, but 1921. There was an area in Tulsa that was booming! It was a black community. It was rare because of course the odds weren’t in their favor but they just luckily rolled a 7 with the dice multiple times. As one of the most successful and wealthiest black communities in the United States during the early 20th Century, it was popularly known as America’s “Black Wall Street” until the Tulsa race riot of 1921. They had black lawyers, doctors, teachers, black-owners, entertainment, oil, etc. (Now again, ignore the race factor for now…it doesn’t matter for this analysis piece). Then one night the outside white people grew too jealous, came in and killed many of the successful people and burned down their businesses and streets. It was horrific. They even punished the few white people around for not doing it sooner.

Then the white political and business leaders proactively prevented that community from reconstruction or picking themselves up. This wasn’t hard because due to rights back then black people didn’t have much of that ability anyways.

So think economic development: They are SCREWED for about the next 100 YEARS. For the next 60 years those blacks won’t know about diving into the community and economic development process. How could they? Their schools are IMMEDIATELY affected. Their job structure is shattered. Their families destroyed. They are currently crippled as a society. Not only that but also their kids’, kids’, kids’ are also now crippled. It becomes a generational snowball effect due to that initial occurrence and the laws established for years to come. There was no hope for them and it becomes too hard to thrive. Therefore, poverty in Tulsa. Therefore, violence because that’s all you have and know due to having to survive from being poor and having no good education or possibly/knowledge of escaping. (Although, poverty doesn’t correlate to violence). What happened doesn’t just end in a year…..it resonates within the fabric of a society for years to come in the form of both emotional distress AND economic instability (incorporating education, companies, businesses, families, crime, etc).

In my job, bringing in 1 company positively affects that entire community – their family benefit, the nearby retail and restaurants benefits, the schools benefit, tourism boosts, more companies follow suit, and more. This occurs positively for the next generations in that area as well. Black Wall Street had the opposite case. And it was not a single company. It was ALL of it.

That is  an objective analysis of cause and effect. Again, it doesn’t matter if what happened was bad or good in this analysis. FYI, this happened in other places as well. We must understand this “momentum effect” in this micro example in order to understand the answer in its fullness.

2. The Macro

To keep low with word-count I’m going to bypass the macro. It has similar cadence to the micro piece but without the violence and is, of course, on a larger scale. Please ask me in person or on Facebook if you want that piece as well.

3. Familiarity Of Stereotypes

I grew up around Blacks and Hispanics, but over the past 10 years of my life at least 95% of my friends and acquaintances are white. So it is extremely hard for me to stereotype people in either group because I have lived life with so many different types and I know their souls and hearts. The way society is laid out (because of white flight, economic structure, convenience, and family history) black people have been left to live amongst one another. So those black people naturally HAVE to CATEGORIZE all whites into the same group. That is how a human brain works.  This doesn’t happen to me because I have lived among others.

White people can easily get categorized by what is seen on television, social media, oImage result for racismr in stories told by the older generations. For example, I’m sure none of us know any native Cambodians personally because we don’t live around them. So we naturally group Cambodians into one category of people. Now we know people in Cambodia are all different with various opinions, personalities, languages, and subcultures. However, in our minds we have tendencies to group them together don’t we?

4. Indifference

The disbelief from much of the black community that a shooting or possible wrong-doing will gather positive help from the white community is from past years of “neglect” from that side and their current state of “emotionlessness”. That continual reaction from many white people makes it hard for many black people to listen/trust simply one white person with good intentions, when numerous other whites have failed that quota.
Let me explain.

If my mom had cancer and a stranger had cancer I’d show much more sympathy for my mother than the stranger. I naturally have a different level of connectivity and value for my mom.

One group continues to uniformly state “we should wait for the facts after these shootings before doing anything”. I agree, in theory. In a perfect world we should always wait and diagnose a situation. However, this isn’t a perfect world. Those same people flip-flop depending on what the crime is and who did the crime.

There is no objectivity in our reactions. We all react different and with different poise depending on what it is. The less subjective empathy I have, the more ability I have to refrain and diagnose the situation and wait for the facts. But when it’s my mom or a friend it becomes tough to control.

For the bomber “suspect” at the Boston Marathon – we wanted his head immediately. With a man “accused” of child molestation we want to give him the death penalty once he’s caught. When a college athlete is “accused” of rape we want him immediately kicked off the team before the trial begins. All the while, many in the black people continually watch a black person killed (justifiably or not) and those same people show unwavering objectivity and poise the entire time. That shows a different level of respect and love.

Black people see the immediate reaction of emotionlessness and interpret it as white people not caring.

In Romans 1 we see that God’s indifference is a very scary form of wrath; different from violence. Hate is NOT just someone spitting on another person. Hate isn’t only the KKK hanging someone. Hate can also be passive. Even Satan knows that. Indifference OVER TIME can be interpreted as unloving and hatred. That’s what happens psychologically in the minds of a people. So we can’t blame them that much, can we?

5. When Dr. King was Frustrated

MLK Jr. led protests in a manner that would “shame” those who were discriminating. People like to say his method was non-violence. Not really –  his method was shame and he used nonviolence to achieve it. His tactic was that if he could have people feel ashamed for how they thought and acted, it’ll force them to change. Read his writings.

What’s interesting is that in his later years when King went to Chicago, he tried his same tactics but the white people beating them didn’t feel ashamed at all. It was different from the South. And it scared MLK. When a people aren’t aware enough to have the ability or respect to feel shame toward the treatment of someone else, then that is when something is off. Which begs the question of what the next step would be.

One friend I debated correctly claimed that ‘King’s tactic did work in the South though, because it was more saturated with Christians’. If that is true then it still proves my point: We, as a nation, are less Christian today. Therefore, King’s tactics of shame won’t work as effectively here anymore. That said, our nation is more like Chicago in that King was scared because it was seemingly and hopelessly in a state of chaotic reasoning that shocked him. It left Martin Luther King afraid and scrabbling for a new tactic. That’s where many in the black society would say we have been growing in subconsciously [through the eyes of blacks and whites]. Even in the past 50 years, before social media.

As scripture says, in the last days nations will turn their backs from Christ. America is doing that. Hence my friend’s point flows into this – shame isn’t working here anymore. hat’s why there are frustrated protests (good or bad) and riots (good or bad). That’s the only next step people can think of on the fly. We all have the same natural tendencies when trapped into a corner for so long.

In conclusion, we cannot just look at “today’s” knee jerk reaction of the black community. We must look holistically. This is similar to chaos theory. It’s ALL connected. This isn’t about black on black crime BUT black on black crime is a subset of the results of history. It’s not about Charlotte. Charlotte can be 99% wrong…but it doesn’t matter. The deep damage was already done.

This isn’t out of the blue. It’s a past 300-400 years thing. It’s a 1920s and 1980s thing. Look at old Richard Pryor or Dave Chappelle stand-up and old low budget black films from the 1970s-1990s. They are screaming and crying about the same killings. And no one cared. Listen to R&B songs from that time period. They were constantly crying about it and asking for help and America turned it’s head. They didn’t have Facebook Live to make it public. I’m not making this stuff up. So little by little day by day that people group grew to a particular view of white people. Skepticism. Distrust.

The solution is another story, but when a black person tells a white person they don’t understand or aren’t qualified – They are really saying that you don’t know how they got there and why. Therefore they are not truly known and loved. But if the black person knows that the white person objectively knows this stuff and still wants to love on them…..goodness gracious the effect that will have.

Image result for racism

Dating: 3 Reasons Why Women CAN Make the First Move

Well well well, here we are again – Dating. In the comments section of an older blog post, a woman recently asked me the infamous question: “Is It Alright For A Girl To Ask Out A Guy?”  It’s an age old question that has become increasingly popular alongside the rise of women in 21st Century America. Women are surpassing men in education and excelling in the workplace, financially, gender equity, and leadership. These cultural changes bring rise to variations of this dating question.

As a man, I prefer to make the first move AND ask out the woman. As a cocky, hopeless romantic … it thrills me to do so. That is just me.

To avoid “personal preferences” or “semantics” as much as possible – instead of addressing the topic of women directly “asking out” men – I will address why it may be alright for the woman to make the “first move” or upfront “initiate interest” in the man.

While conventional wisdom has us generally believing it is ideal for a man to make that first move,  we still should ask [on any matter] what type of investigation was previously done for us to come to such a conclusion.

Does it make sense?

Is there a line? Has that line changed?

Are we robotically following a rule because it is all we’ve ever known?

Was the notion modeled during an historical/traditional outdated set up of society/culture during a particular time period?

I mean, historically, how could a woman ask a man out without herself having a job, money, education, or any status of power?

Here are 3 reasons why it may be alright for a girl to make the first move:
  1. Just Because You Make The First Move Does Not Mean He Cannot Lead

There has been this notion that if a woman initiates first, it subtracts from the man’s opportunity of leadership. However, does this reasoning add up? After you tell him you are interested, it can still be the man’s job to agree and maybe pick out the date spot. It can still be the man’s job to pick you up on time, grab your coat, and pay for the date. It can still be the man’s job to guide, protect and cultivate the woman for the duration of the relationship.

Over time, as you define the relationship, you can make clear to him in what you’re looking for in a man as a leader. Tell him what you expect EARLY on. If he continually doesn’t meet that criteria then stop and move on.

Dating with marriage in mind is important, regardless of who makes the first move. We all know relationships where the man asked out first, but turned out to be a sub-par leader to the woman. This must mean that the first move has no direct correlation to the man’s leadership ability or leadership potential.

  1. The Romantic Challenge Versus The Proactive Challenger Fairy-tale

There is a difference between actively pursuing someone and initially engaging someone. The former is over an extended time period while the latter is at a particular time. With both phrases, the person on the receiving end is the “challenge”. It is said that in the initial stage of a relationship, the lady needs to wait patiently and be the challenge sought out by a man rather than being the challenger.

To actively pursue someone takes time and effort in cultivating. Biblically it should be done by the man, with the woman hopefully being receptive to that man’s servitude toward her. This is correct and does not change. Conversely, to initially engage someone is to show that there is simply interest in that person.

Disney movies taught us that it is romantic for the woman to always be the challenge for a man to find and love. Any seasoned married couple would say that Life teaches a very different story. The true challenge of is in Month 2 of dating after you’ve ran out of small talk. The true challenge is loving one another through the numerous faults and weaknesses. The true challenge is liking one another after the euphoria of physical attraction wears off. The true challenge is loving one another after your children appear and your sex life becomes a part-time job.

Doing life together is the true challenge. The true challenge is where the solid, sustaining love is found. That is what matters most. Disney leaves that part out. A relationship should be looked at more holistically, not just the first 2 minutes of, “Hey, I’m interested in you”.

So the woman does not lose her title of the Romantic Challenge just by making the first move. She possibly gains a  lifetime of true love.

3. Relationships Are About You Too

Maybe the woman has a Type A personality and the man has Type B. The social sciences domain have written many articles on men becoming increasingly more passive. Waiting for the passive guy, the oblivious guy, or the Type B guy could take a long while. For Type A women, it seems like eternity. What’s the worst that can happen if you tell him you are interested? You’ll stop over-analyzing and finally get answers, that is what. Some guys say they wouldn’t mind if you did so anyways. 

The situation plays a factor as well. Are you already friends? Is he your sidekick?  Are you strangers? Can you or a friend to invite him to a group event? How much of a “nudge” is needed for the guy to get the hint? It is a case by case basis.

It is natural to like a guy. You aren’t wrong for wanting to ask him out. Whatever you do, be confident not clingy. Be assertive not aggressive. Read the signs: Is he shy, does he remember the details of what you say, does he keep momentum going? In the end, God will provide in His timing no matter what we do or how foolish we do it. Waiting isn’t a bad thing at all, and sometimes that first nudge wouldn’t hurt either.

Donald Trump, Political Correctness, and the Sexiest Woman

trump two

Do you feel that? The emotional anticipation in your bones as you are wondering how something positive could be said about silly ol’ Donald Trump. Impossible, right? Or could it be that a figure as polarizing as he causes your emotion to have a presuppositions on one side or the other?

This was the case when I commented on a friend’s Facebook post a compliment of how Donald Trump may “inadvertently” bring something positive to our country, in terms of political correctness. The feedback from others was quick disregard of anything I brought up. They jumped the gun to assume I was a die-hard Trump supporter of hatred, when that simply is not the case. Just because I say that one musical group has a particular virtue doesn’t mean that they are my favorite. Neither does it mean that there are not many other artists out there who are better.

Their reaction is understandable – so is much of our nation’s reaction to Trump and with any topic or person so polarizing. Just bring up abortion and watch people’s head explode.

But for a second, can we dive deeper? We have to go deeper than Donald Trump and the other candidates. Deeper than the election. Past our feels and past our self. Not that those are bad things, bu to take a second and reflect on whether there may be trend happening that we are a little too blind to see at the moment?

Three points:

1.What is the New Age of Political Correctness?

One may suggest that if I were to say some of what Donald Trump says in my own workplace, I’d be fired. That is correct. Although, that is not the issue; the issue is that I can say something far less controversial at work and still get fired in Today’s society. A celebrity almost can’t almost anything on Instagram or Twitter without getting verbally attacked by millions of people. Most stand up comedians now avoid performing at college campuses because the college students boo them at the first offensive joke

Political correctness at its core has good merit, but we are increasingly abusing it to the point of chaos. Our society has turned the action of “political correcting” from a transitive verb into an intransitive verb. That is, it should be applied to a direct object, but in Today’s world it doesn’t need an object anymore. Political Correctness is now a means to an end – You start with the end that you want, and then you work it backwards to fit what you want inside. It is a person without a set principle. As the 1800’s government reformer Samuel Smiles said,  “A man without principles and will is like a ship without compass; it changes direction with every change of mind.”  

This new age political correctness is like a powerful, untamed snake. Who can comfortably live around snakes?

 

2. Why is the new age political correctness dangerous?

If being politically correct has changed to an intransitive verb AND we’re working a means to an end…then any goal that we’re working towards is no longer an actual goal we’re trying to attain because there is no standard since the standard is always changing. Progression is effective only unless it eventually finishes on some known objectivity which it is destined for. Otherwise we are left with an open-ended path that leads people into a bottomless pit of insane, never-ending bickering.

Lets put it this way: Historically, successful societies would base their standards toward what they saw as perfection. Whether it be God, gods, a king, a famous warrior, a hierarchical  governmental system, or some other large historical figure – a morally perfect being or system. They had an end goal to march toward and this kept their sanity intact. Today, the perfect being is bodiless because it has no standard behind it anymore. His every purpose in life is purposeless. Therefore, our guide that we’re marching toward is empty.

When a man secretly adores a picture in the Sexiest Woman Alive magazine, he subconsciously seeks for his wife to look similar to that standard. The man who dislikes his wife for not looking like ANY woman, would be considered foolish and even asexual. Our nation’s thinking is not asexual, but it could be leading to infinite irrationality.

Our desire for growth and improvement may be deceiving us in a way. Our desire for altruism slowly turns into a subconscious desire of egoism. In that, we are wanting everyone to satisfy something at one end and then contradicting ourselves in another end:

The extreme feminist claims that she should be treated just like every man, then she expects for a man to pay for her dinner on the first date.

The atheist and scientific materialist claims that the Bible is false because the Holy Trinity does not make sense, but then they claim to adore the unseeable astrophysics theory of event horizons and black holes.

One ethnic group claims that police are unfairly killing their innocent, then they turn their
head as people in their own ethic group kill one another.

Another ethnic group claims not to be racist, then actively moves far away to areas where they are the only ethnic group around.

As Chesterton famously said, “In an author’s book about politics, he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book about ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men.”

Not having an end standard could lead to a society of never-ending contradictions. Madness. Insanity. People in an insane asylum swear that someone is out to get them, though they have no proof to back it up.

 

3. Is  Donald Trump inadvertently good for America’s future?

The ongoing reaction of Trump highlights our increased emotional sensitivity as a nation. Maybe if elected he could miraculously swing the pendulum of political correctness back toward the middle. Wishful thinking, huh? haha.

He is in NO way our nation’s savior. Neither is any other candidate. Trump has said some foolish, horrible things. There is never going to be a candidate, democrat nor republican, who can save us. Everyone can agree that Trump’s style and credentials, or lack there of,  could make him the riskiest presidential choice of all time. However, there are two sides to a risk.


At the same time, lets be honest with ourselves and admit the climate our nation is in right now and not ignore the depth of
SOME of what he’s saying. Lets not let our feelings cloud reasoning and create biases that could potentially hold back our thinking. Let’s investigate what he is saying and truly see if it is plausible or not.

contradictionWe already have uber low attention spans (especially millennials) and limited knowledge of what is going on around us. In today’s world, we are becoming more and more limited in objectivity.  Additionally, most of us are not aware of the geopolitical ramifications of what been going on in the world the past 20, 50, 100 years. Who can say they know about the root of the Syrian conflict going back to 1916? Who claims understanding of the complexities of ethnic, cultural, religious, linguistic and economic realities all over the world and how they tie back into our life? We are very limited in scope and knowledge.

There is only one Savior we can cling to who actually comes through for us. He, my lovely friends, is Jesus. The perfect standard.

 

What If My Nephew Was Sex Trafficked?

HUMAN-TRAFFICKING.jpg

Hate, Anger, and Helplessness…

would be my three predominant thoughts if my little nephew was taken from my family and put into the bondages of the sex trafficking world. A criminal prostitution enterprise that is prevalent throughout the world, holding 25 million people as slaves and earning $32 billion per year. Here in Atlanta we’re among one of the hubs. If my nephew were to be abducted, I can accurately envision how my life would ensue afterwards:

The world around me would feel as if it were in flames. Not a day would pass where I had not spent time searching for him. I would go from hotel to hotel and constantly search Craigslist for explicit listings as if I were a potential customer myself – hoping to find something that could potentially lead to my nephew. It would be disheartening to see how most people are unaware of what is going on right under their noses. On our streets. In our society.

My time spent with family and friends would gradually diminish. My family would remind me too much of my nephew so I would avoid them altogether. My friends would irritate me, as their continual attempts of consolation would fail to physically help bring my nephew back any sooner. My friends would only slow me down from my mission of finding him.

My mornings would be spent in silence in order to effectively plan where I’d go searching during my lunch break at work. There would be no more lunch with co-workers or going to the gym after work. Every single second of my day would have a predetermined purpose. My work productivity would decline. Matter of fact, I’d eventually have disdain for my male co-workers. Statistically, the most sex trafficking customers are middle and upper class males. The average victim receives 40-50 customers a night. I would reason, or what we call to be reason in this world, that statistically anyone around me could be my nephew’s customer.

There will be glimpses of hope though: some nights I will dream of him being saved and returning to our family. Yet, to the contrary, the majority of my nightly dreams would be of men on top of him. Electrocuting and cutting him whenever he disobeyed. Forcing him to perform hard labor during the day. I would wake up in sweat and tears many nights. Other nights I’d be too afraid to shut my eyes for the fear of what would be envisioned next. Nightmares would become a kind of ritual.

6389490_orig.jpegDuring the day I’d again dream of him returning. Then I would realize that could welcome other heaps of trouble. My loving nephew who loves playing the drums, wishes The Ninja Turtles were a real, and thought the movie Inside Out was simply “ok” at best…. would never be mentally nor emotionally the same kid again. His youthful vitality and zeal will be shattered by the evils of this world. He may likely have depression, guilt, shame, HIV/AIDS, sleeping disorders, PTSD, etc.

 

If my nephew were taken my spiritual faith could go either direction. Sure I may push in closer to God, rely fully in Him and sing hymns all day. However, if I’m honest, that would be extremely difficult. Most of my time I would likely go the opposite way (I am reminded of a dear friend who wrote a blog post a few years back of her mom being literally days away from dying of cancer. She was emotionally broken but her faith and thankfulness in God was somehow strong. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I want that strength, but I would be going completely insane if I were in her shoes.”) It would be very tough to focus on the goodness of God. At the same time, my prayer life would sky-rocket because I would understand how limited I am and the miraculous power God has in saving my nephew. 

If I were given the chance to be face to face with my nephews capturers, would I kill them? I honestly do not know. But physical harm and unforgiveness would be on my mind for sure. That is what makes Jesus dying on the cross so much more crazy. If Jesus is real – if Jesus did die on the cross – and He is real and, yes, he did die and resurrect this means that God watched as we beat His son senseless, cut him bloodied, and massacred his body continually as if He were a piece of trash. Those tears and blood were for us because we needed Jesus to die for the forgiveness of our sins. He”undeservingly” did so because He loves us; especially the children. Jesus also loves the child molesters and desperately wants them to truly follow Him as well. That is grace.

That type of love is supernatural and beyond my comprehension. I guess that is why He is God and I’m just an uncle. That said, if you do not think there are millions among millions of people being sexually abused everyday and sold then you are tremendously mistaken. What are we going to do about this monumental problem?

Hey, everything is alright though. My nephew is fine. Haha, forget about the other 25 million women, children, and men involved in human trafficking. I will sleep well tonight. So will you, right?

Again, seriously, what are we going to do about this?

IMG_2155.JPG

 

HALLOWEEN: Joel Osteen RETURNS

There I was, lazily sitting on my parent’s comfy sofa in their Atlanta home a few weeks ago. I was watching old NBA highlights on YouTube when, unexpectedly, my father’s brother walks in through the front door. My cool uncle. After greetings, he led our conversation through such topics as life, dating, and then he somehow switched to Joel Osteen. I was shocked! Apparently, he had read a blog post I wrote over a year ago on Osteen’s teaching and my uncle has had a few reservations since then.

Though my uncle does not fully agree with Joel Osteen’s ministry, he wanted me to understand that his teaching is not wrong because still does large amounts of good and gives purposeful drive in people’s lives. I then brought up many of the points that I wrote in my past blog post, here.

We continued on until he asked a certain question that I was unable to give a solid answer to at the time. That question is what I will now address: He asked me… how do I know that what I am saying IS correct and what Joel Osteen is saying is NOT correct?

Now there are two ways to hear his question. He was not “entirely” asking me to biblically show him proof for which preference gives a governing, correct version of God’s message – though that is possible and has been done numerous times before. His question is for the breakdown of a fundamental rule(s) of how a particular person can come to know that whatever he or she believes – within a particular society, system, doctrine or group – governs over a different belief, within the same context.

Well, to my handsomely cool uncle, the answer involves four aspects: facts, intuition, reasoning, and authority.

When you take what you believe and find that (1) the facts are clear and undisputed, (2) your basic intuition is undoubtedly intuition, (3) your reasoning which connects this intuition with the particular belief is strong, and (4) you are in agreement with humanly or divine authority; then there is a good chance that you are correct and you can trust in your warm blanket of thought. The more that each of these 4 factors is not met, the more you can conclude that your belief is probably wrong.

(There is much to say on this topic, but it will be greatly shortened for a low word-count, ha. Neither is this only limited to Osteen’s teaching)

As to the Facts. It is agreed among everyone that happiness, wealth, and health are beautiful gifts. Lets say that the prosperity gospel is true. If this is so, then overseas missionaries should be getting the best treatment from God. If belief in God were numerical then no one would have earned more points than a martyred missionary. But the fact that they are killed for their faith to begin with goes directly against the promise of prosperity teaching. That argument/teaching collapses. The same goes with most people in the Bible. Jesus called John the Baptist the greatest man alive. A few verses later we see John The Baptist being beheaded. It seems that any prosperity preaching is more so a rhetorical account of someone who is already in a prosperous position … likely a pastor. Therefore this teaching isn’t based on fact because it is barely an observable opinion.

As to Intuition.  Intuition would be the ability for our mind to perceive self-evident truth. If A equals B, then anytime you have A then you should have B as well. If being a Christian and fully trusting God to give you prosperity works, then it should always work. Since most Christians, historically and today, die without ever having prosperity then it seems that prosperity and Christianity do not go hand in hand. Such an opinion is highly improbable of being true.

As to Reasoning.  Proving the prosperity gospel is a means to an end. In order to give the teaching a firm and sustaining foundation its reasoning must always work backwards. You must start with the end that you want, and then you work it backwards to fit the Bible in. So you work in a few things Jesus said; but only a few. You’d omit his teachings on salvation, hell, sin, and even omit mentioning his death on the cross. Because you’d want more members and just mentioning a guy being beaten bloody and nailed onto a tree isn’t a crowd pleaser; catch my drift. Then you’d re-word a few of his verses to fit your style (something Joel Osteen has said that he does). No one starts fresh with the Bible and concludes with the Prosperity Gospel, you must start in reverse… because the end must always be the same. That is how you can have people speaking believable heresy; since the lines can be constantly moved to maintain their preferred end. Still, why can’t we keep prosperity teaching AND include the whole meta-narrative of the Bible? You cannot because the latter portion would directly interfere with sustaining the foundation of the end goal of the prosperity portion. Each book of the Bible rubs against prosperity teaching.

With this reasoning piece we must always be careful that we do not have a passion swaying our mind. We are always liable to be corrupted by our passions when we are considering truth and falsehood. When a popular sports athlete gets in trouble, sometimes we’ll side in their favor not because they are innocent but because they are on our favorite team. Do you read for yourself that Jesus wants you to have financial blessing? Or do YOU just want to have financial blessing? I think I remember verses cautioning on that.

This reasoning style is a game that only makes sense in the context of the end goal. A logical fallacy game. Admittedly, I use the same tactics to argue that Kobe Bryant is better than Michael Jordan  😉

As for Authority.  Since his question is not for the Biblical answer, we can leave out divine authority for now and just address human authority. The prosperity gospel has only been around in the past 70 years. Therefore, we’ve found something new under the sun that was not taught by any of the apostles nor by any of the old church writers. We would then have to say that we have found something that the Apostle Paul was not aware of. We would find that Augustine, Blaise Pascal, Charles Finney, John Calvin, Leonard Ravenhill, Thomas Aquinas, Jonathan Edwards, and the writings of many others are against us. We would not be able to find any literature to back us up that is dated before the 1960s. Whatever authority we find 2000 years prior to the 1960s would not mention the prosperity gospel. Surely we could not have been so far incorrect all those years. Somehow we were always intellectually off until this recent generation of fast cars and Facebook. That basic assumption is flawed in itself. With that said, human authority does not seem to line up with the prosperity gospel either.

So, Uncle. That is my answer to your question. I pray this helps. I love you.