Hear the Roar

I have sat at the feet of white evangelical men my whole life.  Most have pointed me to Jesus. Many have not.  I have given my entire life for the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  My silencers and accusers have never been angry outlaws or the gay or transgender, the drug addicted or alcoholic, the homeless, the prisoners, black neighborhood gang members.

My harshest critics have been you, my white evangelical male pastor friends.

I have been shamed and silenced for raising my voice to speak about injustice toward women and the oppressed countless times.  Always, by my white evangelical pastor man friends.  Their words cut like a knife through my soul. Sliced away my dignity until I felt I didn’t have any left.

I am a white middle class woman of white privilege.  My pain is nothing, hardly worth noting when I consider the black men, black women, brown men and women, the boys and girls of the united states of America that are anything other than straight and white.-But I know hurt. I know rejection. I know what it is to be dismissed and treated like a pet, adored for being cute and funny…until they heard me roar.

The nation now, is roaring with pain. Roaring with rage. On fire with the sting of oppression’s angry, bottled voice exploded.

So, my white evangelical man friends, listen to me roar, listen to the voice of your nation roar with rage. Listen to those who look, act and talk nothing like you. You’ve had your voice. You’ve had your applause, affection and admiration.  You’ve had pay raises and funded trips and funded books. Your backyards are a refuge you can run to when you are tired. You aren’t hungry. You can talk and know your voice will be not only heard, but recorded and shared! These are good things when you use them well. And you have.

But your nation is roaring.

Stop.  Just stop it all and be still.  Be quiet. Quiet your Facebook banter and chatter.  Stop your posturing and pivoting to meet the crowds of white admirers where they are at.  Stop looting dialogue from your black friends to make it sound like you get them.  That you ARE them.  You’re not.  I’m not.

White evangelical men, it’s time to step back.  Step down, step aside, make room and make way for other people that don’t look and act like you.

Your pulpit doesn’t need you to for it to stand. The church walls do not need you to hold them up. Your people have left that building and have been gone a few months.  God’s grace is holding his body together. His might is going ahead of Him. He has made a way for new voices to rise.  See it, take a chance, and allow for radical change.

Black women need to speak. You don’t.

Prisoners, the homeless, the ineligible unfit and afraid need to step up as you step away.

Jesus was always found in the lowest places. He had a reputation for trouble.   He made way for women. He turned the tables, told his friends to stop arguing. Told the waves to be still.

Just.  Stop.  Stop talking and listen.

If you must lead, lead to the lowest places.  Bow your heart and hand your microphone to the thirsty.  Cup your hands so they can drink. Be not afraid. God is in the center, you never were.

You’ve grown in honor. You’ve stood high on the applause of men, front and center

You’ve  orated, sung, wept, prayed, gave and gave…It’s enough. You have done well.  Now, give it away.

Let women lead. Let black and brown people lead. Find Jesus in a whole new way when you humble yourself and pray, far from your board meeting walls.

Look around, Jesus has left the building.  Go with Him. Go to the streets, the neighborhoods where he’s knocking on the doors of the hearts of His own. You’ve owned the stage a long, long time.  Bow out.  Hand over the keys. Sit down. Pull up a seat.  Listen with love to black, brown, women, the uneducated, the poor, the least of these.

The poor, the marginalized, the least of your brothers and sisters is where you will find the weeping Christ.  Follow them.  Follow Jesus.

White People. It’s time to Reflect and Repent.

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I grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago.  My neighborhood and schools were made up of black, white, and brown people.  Some black people were violent, some white people were violent, and some brown people were violent. I witnessed with my own eyes a white male teacher physically assaults a young black woman in the hallway. “Go to the principal,” the teacher said, “Who will he believe, Me, or you.”  I saw that girl crumble into herself with fear and shame.  She never told.

Some black people were good and wonderful people, some white people were good and wonderful people, and some brown people were good and wonderful people.  I witnessed countless acts of love and unity between races in our community.

I grew up not judging someone based upon the color of their skin, what car they drove, or where their house was.  I got to know people as individuals.  I had white, black and brown friends.  It was normal for me and the people around me.  There were racists, no doubt.  White people infuriated by the black and brown people moving into their white neighborhoods.  Their prejudice left when they all moved away, which was good in a way.  It was sad to see how many of the people I had known my whole life, seemingly with good character and morals, run for their lives to all white communities to hide. It sickened me.  It made me realize how deep the racial divide was in the hearts and minds of white men and women.

Our church split because a majority of white people did not want to invite their new black and brown neighbors to worship with them.  They wanted to uproot the entire body of believers and move to an all-white neighborhood mile away from the changing one.

I was again, dumbstruck at the atrocious behavior of “Jesus Followers” I had looked up to and admired my entire life.  Men stood up and shook angry fists during church services and business meetings.  Harsh angry words, unrepeatable and unforgiveable. I remember being 17, completely speechless at the behavior of these adults.  What was amazing in the midst of all of this was our pastor. He was an unshakable, unmovable pillar of strength. He stood strong and true to the real Jesus.  The Jesus that loves all the children of the world, Red, Yellow, Black and White.  The bad guys left.  The church flung open its doors to the community, and quickly became a truly multi-ethnic place of worship, one of the only ones I’ve ever seen.

The racial divide in our country is unacceptable. Thank God for cell phone videos and pictures to record the horrific acts of violence that have marked our country since it’s birth. Our nation was built on the backs of black slavery. Never, ever forget that.  George Washinton himself owned hundreds of slaves. He didn’t regard them as equal. The sin of racism is as deep as the roots of our great nation.

I beg you to repent if you are inclined to view one race higher or lower than another.  Repent and find the true Jesus, the one who loves all men and women, all the races with equality.

The real Jesus doesn’t use racial slurs or roll His eyes at black men and women demonstrating and marching for peace. The real Jesus stands among them, because He too, was forcefully and unjustly maligned and killed. The real Jesus marches on, spreading joy and light and peace.  Join the real Jesus.  Be free from the ties that bind our hands and hearts to the ties that bind us and have bound us since our nation’s inception.

Be free to love. Be free.  Let freedom ring.

The Very Best Friday

Beloved

This side of Heaven, we will encounter many hardships. We will experience the ravages of sin, the aftershocks of Eden. We will hurt with gaping wounds, inflicted by those we love, betrayed by the ones that know us best.

We will worry the world onto our wobbling shoulders, convinced that we can save it by taking it upon ourselves, us, being made in the image and likeness of God.

We sow seeds of insolence and reap harvests of regret.

We obsess, malign and worry God-sized fears, obnoxious in our own false grandeur.

All the while, God, on the cross is looking at us in our own foolishness and taking the weight of the world back upon Himself, where it belongs, so our way is easy, and our burden made light. Even with all of our inconsistencies and intolerance, He looks to us and calls us Beloved.

Jesus knows our hearts. He knows we long for what is wrong in the world to be made right. He has made a way for us. His way. He is a ‘Man of Sorrows’, acquainted with grief. Don’t push the sadness of the death of Jesus on the cross away. Don’t push your own sadness or sorrow away. Grief is never wasted.

Grief knows grief, and standing at the foot of the cross, robed in sadness, we are equal, united in our desperation for wholeness and healing, for an upside-down world to be made right. We seek the Messiah’s face and hear Him say the words since Eden we have been waiting to hear, “It is Finished.”

And it is. Jesus holds the victory in the secret of the cross. Let’s meet him there today together.

Be The Light

I don’t cry easily.  Really, I don’t.  But this week, I have. The overwhelming sadness  that sits right outside our doors is hard to fathom.  Every morning I get pulled from a deep sleep into a waking up, and my thoughts go like this, “It’s light. It’s morning…. oh, we are still in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.  I then pick up my phone to check the time and it is blowing up with updates and information from around the world.  Every day the numbers get higher, every day more people die.  Really healthy, young people. Babies.  Healthy adults, the elderly, the poor, the needy, the rich…it does not much matter.  This virus is wreaking absolute havoc on humanity.

It’s sunny and warm out here in Kansas City today. The Robins are singing, the bluebirds are back, fluttering from tree to tree gathering little berries off trees to bring back to their nests.  They have really been my only companions besides Rob and Belle. They are so funny to watch. Ive gotten several photos of them, their little head tilts make me laugh. One was listening to a cardinal sing yesterday, and it tilted it’s head toward the song, seeming to like it. 8561BBFB-0034-4240-A0D6-24676ECC1049

Everything in my yard feels very, very safe.

But “out there” …wow.  It’s dark, even on the sunniest of days with the bluest of skies.  I suppose it’s appropriate, considering it is Holy Week.  The week Jesus was betrayed. The week leading up to his end. The completion of his job on earth in body form. Jesus wept.  He did, and we can too.

We need each other more than ever.  You have the power to be the light in someone’s day today.  Shine bright friends, we can overcome this darkness together.

 

When We Suffer…

0B84E5C8-7E37-4A00-956A-080E2B22FE97But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.”

~Amy Carmichael

 Amy Carmichael was a young single woman alive to the love of Jesus and the mission she was called to at the turn of the last century.  She served Him in Southern India, rescuing very young girls from the evil practice of prostitution at the Hindu temples. Eventually she rescued boys, growing her little family to over a thousand children.

One night while walking in the dark, she tripped over a hole in the ground and severely injured her leg. Her injury was not fixable with the medical treatment that was available to her.  She was bedridden for the last twenty years of her life- quarantined.

Despite her injury and constant agony and pain, she ran the orphanage and published around 35 books, without the internet, computer or even a typewriter.

God used Amy in amazing ways.  Her work in Southern India continues to this day.

She chose Jesus when all else looked helpless.  She served God and the people around her wholeheartedly. She said often that her missionary work was nothing else but a chance to die– die to self and be alive in Jesus.

I think of Amy often, I have studied her life for years.  I cannot count the number of times I have said to myself, “Amy did it. So can I.” Her life is a symbol to me of Jesus’ love and wholehearted devotion in the midst of extreme suffering.  It wasn’t difficult for her to talk to others about the love and grace of Jesus, she saw him in her suffering, because of her suffering, and the suffering of the women and children around her.

Often in difficult times, we see God moving more; People’s hearts are more open.  Hardship breeds longing for assurance and hope. There is a commonality in the face of suffering that does not happen in any other way.

You have the best message in the world! God is real! Jesus is alive! The Holy Spirit is Hope!

God the Father will take care of you.  Jesus is your friend, forever with you, and the Holy Spirit alive in you will give you the wisdom and strength you need for each new day.

We struggle, but we press on.  We are cast down, but we will not be destroyed. God will take care of you.

“Look at the birds of the air. They don’t plant or gather crops. They don’t put away crops in storerooms. But your Father who is in heaven feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Can you add even one hour to your life by worrying” ~Jesus