Monday, January 18, 2016

Why Martin Luther King's words are still so utterly relevant.

Or... When My Want of Comfort "Trumps" God's Call for Love and Freedom....

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I just cannot fathom this university's choice in a speaker on this day!? This infuriates me, but then this has been happening for years and years and years and years... (Click HERE to see why this Pastor is choosing to protest his alma mater's choice in a speaker to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.)

This is what breaks my heart over and over again. That our want of a comfortable and discord free life Trumps the call of Christ to stand for freedom, justice for the oppressed, and above all LOVE for ALL people.

Our privilege to choose comfort and peace through willful ignorance is a travesty. The way we continue to tell ourselves that racism is over and gone…

 That is a lie "we" continue to play on repeat because "we" can, but not because it's true.

Friends please today of all days take some time to actually re-examine the facts of racism in today's world.

Even better? Speak with someone who is a different shade or ethnicity than you and humbly ask them to share their personal life experiences with racism and then listen... Please, I beg of you to really listen with your whole heart… With God's heart that cries out for love and justice.

(Seriously my friends, please go do this because you will not understand what I am writing about or why Martin Luther King's words are still poignantly relevant right now, today, until you do. Or at the very least watch the first 6 minutes of this video. Please consider watching the whole thing. Click HERE

You may find it surprising and even shocking to hear the things your friend, neighbor, or co-worker has experienced, but please do not just stop there with your reactions. I beg of you do not choose take the luxury again of stopping there.  Let these feelings of shock and indignation take root. Let them grow in you a compassion for others who are still daily experiencing racism. Let these experiences that your friend shares, develop in you a passion that exceeds your empathy, moves you beyond complacency and emboldens you to say,

"I will not ignore this anymore. I will not choose my plush comfort and want of a discord free life over another's right to equality and a life without fear. I will no longer afford myself the luxury of choosing to shut my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears, and hum a tune of willful ignorance to this evil.”

My friends, will you stand with the greatest of God’s commands and say,

 “Yes, I will love my neighbor as myself. “

Therefore, since I do not want to be judged by the color of my skin, but as Martin Luther King Jr. requested, “By the quality of my character.” I will stand against those who continue to let the color of another’s skin to dominate their reactions and actions.

Every time I hear Martin Luther King Jr. speak it brings me to tears because his words are still so relevant today and that is a very grievous reality for me. It should be a very grave reflection of our land of the free and home of the brave... Well, as long as it doesn't make me uncomfortable that is. One would think by now this dream might be a reality, but it's still a work in progress and it will continue to be because…

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
-Edmund Burke
My friends, if I love God with my whole heart as the beginning of that command asks then I should cry out with Him against this injustice. 
Church… I fear we are too close to this passage in Isaiah 58, where we cry out for God to move and ask Him why He isn’t showing up, but ignore our very own culpability to these travesties.

Please God, let us awake. Let us answer your call.
Will you pray for racism to end? 
Will you take a step forward in understanding what so many are facing in our very own nation right now, today? 
Will you stand? 
Will you step forward? 
Will you be the change you wish to see in the world? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tipping Sacred Cows and Learning from Birdfeeders...

Hi Friends!
This post has been a long time in coming. It was written months ago. Seriously, I know you did not even have a clue that there was a part two to the first Bird feeder saga. “Sigh”

I will just say that in order to understand this post I ask that you go back and read the first one. (Hint, click here.) Please take the time to read the comments that follow the post.  I honestly believe the people who shared there brought in more wisdom and food for thought than my little post.  You could even stick around and read more of the Bibledude's awesome site. You will not regret it. ;)

My question is, will you join in on the conversation?

Because my friends this is where we have been for a few years now. Asking questions and seeking answers in something as radical and simple as…

 His Word. 

(Gasp, I know right?!)

We are following God on a new adventure down an old path.

Asking questions and tipping sacred cows is not for the faint of heart. Honestly, it can be freakishly uncomfortable.

But this is worth it, this lovely journey to better understand God and His church.

For each person this expedition could lead to different places, different ministries, and different conclusions, but it is better when we journey this adventure together. We can pool our collected wisdom and different experiences and compare it to His word.

Will you join me? Would you like to share?

And now…

The $5 dollar bird feeder that is a metaphor for our life in the church.        

Winter Reflections on the Bird Feeder and the Church part 2.

It hit me today as I looked out the window,  I could see and hear the Birds again. They were on our new $5 bird feeder that our kids wanted to get. Our old one was pretty, but had some serious issues that kept reoccurring. (Read here, Winter Reflections)

So this winter with a dysfunctional bird feeder and a budget tightened by our resignations, medical bills, and appliances failing after the lovely power outages, I have found myself walking outside every couple of days to feed our birds. 

Nothing spectacular, mind you, just sprinkling the seed on the ground and branches where it’s hidden by tree cover and safe for our little feathered friends to eat.

The other day though, we saw a clearance “cheapo” bird feeder and the kids were excited. (Yep, we get excited about these kinds of things.) So we binged and bought it.

The lovely $5 bird feeder has been out for a few days now.

Birds are happily alighting on it and they do not seem to care that it is not as pretty or grand as the last one.  Maybe the birds know something we don’t?

They are after all leaving it with bellies full of good nourishing seed again.

This is lovely.

So once again I hear my heavenly Father nudging me to listen, to pause…

To lean in and learn from Him...

Sometimes we try to repeatedly fix things that just continue to break.

You see we can keep on trying to fix something that is remaining broken or we can find a simple solution.

Like a $5 dollar bird feeder or just grabbing some seed and heading out daily to feed those hungry cold little ones.

Sort of like the church. Sort of like our faith…

We can hold so tightly to our beautiful buildings, to our precious methods and sacred traditions and in doing so we sometimes forget what God and His word actually have to say about them. 

So maybe we don’t need a big flashy building?

Maybe we can just use our homes, our hands, and our feet to go out and feed the cold and hungry.

Maybe, just maybe there is more than one way to do this church thing.

Even more importantly we can actually decide to be the church.

What are your thoughts friends? 

Both churches within buildings and those that reside outside the traditional brick and mortar can serve a purpose.

Do you believe it's possible to "do" church more effectively inside or outside of a building? Why or why not?
(P.S. What is your definition of "doing" church?)

What are your experiences good or bad with this?

What might happen if the body of Christ was more active outside of it's buildings than it was inside? 

Whether it's a church that meets in a cathedral, movie theater, homeless shelter, or someone's home what do you personally view as the most effective venue?

What pluses and downfalls do you see for either side of this spectrum? 

We cannot truly learn when we are only surrounded by people who think the same as we do. I encourage you to all share your differing ideas, what you have found in God's Word, your personal experiences, and heart in a respectful manner so that all of us can learn from each other.

If you are unsure of what the purpose is for this series than please click here and read the "Let's Talk Church" intro.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When Human Trafficking shows up on your door step...

Hi my friends,

Please share this post with as many people as you can. Please read this and read some of the links. The more knowledge we have the better we can help kids like these. And please never ever let your kid join one of these crews. Just remember, If this was your kid... Wouldn't you want someone to look out for their welfare? 

    There was a knock on the door and I saw the silhouettes of two kids standing out there. I opened the door to their friendly greeting and shook hands with them. The girl immediately went into her up-beat speech on the contest she was in trying to sell magazines for earning points towards a European trip. I chatted with the two kids about the contest because frankly it sounded a bit off. 

She handed me her pamphlet and as I scanned through the actual magazine selections I found I could not find a website or number to call for the business. I decided to ask more about what they were doing and to ask where they were from.

She quickly explained that they were on a traveling sales crew.

Wait… What? Traveling Sales crew? These kids were young. I mean the girl looked anywhere between 14-16 and the boy looked somewhere between 11-13 years old. 

Who lets their kids travel from state to state selling magazines with a company? My parent radar was going off...

“So where have you two been so far?”

There was a moment’s pause as they glanced nervously at each other. The boy finally chimed in revealing how they had been to Indiana and were heading to Ohio soon after their stint in Michigan was over. The girl then chimed in and gave an upbeat spin on how this was an adventure and great opportunity for them to see different areas.

I asked them if they were doing this for just the summer and they quickly dodged the question, instead, telling me more about their dreams of winning the competition with bright smiles on their faces. 

She even asked me if she was doing a good job with her speech because she wanted to work on her public speaking and better herself. I smiled and gave her some encouragement, but something wasn’t right…

My internal "scam" radar had been sounding off for a while now. What was worse though was my concern for these young teens. Too many things were not adding up.

I did not purchase a magazine with them, but as they left I immediately hopped online to try and find the company while calling two more neighbors to see if they would slow the kids down and ask more questions to find out as much as we could about their situation. I could not find the company, but what I did find caused me to call the Human Trafficking hotline immediately.

They immediately instructed me to call the police requesting a welfare check for the kids.

From there it was a tag team effort with another neighbor to talk with the kids and slow them down, but soon after my call their pick-up vehicle arrived. 

My neighbor asked the driver for identification or papers for the company they represented, but she grew angry and refused while quickly herding the kids into the SUV and rushing out our the subdivision.

My neighbor quickly shot a picture of the vehicle and license plate. A minute later the police arrived and we quickly relayed the information to them. 

One officer left in pursuit and after finishing with the first officer I left to check-in with the other neighbors to whom the kids had been seen speaking to.


I am so heartbroken my friends and this is why…   

Most traveling magazine sales crews are a scam. This was obvious to me and my neighbors. Their talk was good, they were clean cut, and sweet faced kids, but the lack of a website and contact number for the company tipped most of us off. The outlandish prices deterred the rest.
My deep issue with this scam is that it involved two under age kids. After researching the articles and information on Traveling Sales Crews and learning about the way they operate it was beyond disturbing.

Hopeful kids signing up for a job promising great pay, adventure, and fun, that may leave them as little more than indentured servants.

Ads similar to this one lure students to call...

Some of these crew managers hook them on drugs and alcohol. They refuse to pay them. They may even beat and abuse them when their sales fall short. There are multiple reports of rape and molestation and quite a few of these kids, as well as, adults are listed as missing people. Some have even been killed.

To put it simply my friends, 
it was 
Human Trafficking 
showing up on my door step. 

These stories have been covered by news groups such as NY Times, ABC, FoxNews, NBC, and more...

So no, I have not lost my mind.

Most of all, please, the next time one of these kids from a traveling sales group shows up at your door do not purchase from them unless you know the student. 
If you do not know them and they appear under eighteen then call the police and ask for a welfare check for them. (Or follow the BBB's guides and suggestions below.) If they look older ask for their solicitors license and if they refuse to show it call the police.

Here are some quick suggestions from the Better Business Bureau

Please don't hesitate to call the National Human Trafficking line they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at:


This guy captures one of their typical sales pitches on video. This kid's pitch was very close to the young girl who came to our door. (To watch a pitch click here.)

This site shares stories from teens and young adults that have escaped the traveling magazine crew lifestyle. (Click Here)

Here is the deal. If this was your kid... Wouldn't you want someone to look out for their welfare? 

This quick thinking lawyer in Wisconsin did just that.(Click Here

Again, I ask for you to share this post with your friends, family, facebook, twitter, and get the word out. Sadly, some of the smaller police forces do not know about this form of child exploitation and trafficking. This can slow down the process when they do not take it seriously.

Please help get the word out to your community and maybe just maybe, we can save a few people from being scammed, but more importantly save some kids as well.

As a friend of mine pointed out. " If these were my kids, I would hope to God, someone out there would go the extra mile to make sure they were okay."