The tragedy of Ferguson, MO

Caveat
I know that this is on my about page but just so you know. This is the opinion of JC, the owner of this website. Not the church that I love so dearly. I’m not an expert or learned enough in this area. I’m a white guy who hates what I’m seeing. I’m a youth pastor and have to find a way to talk through these issues with my students and help them find hope in Jesus. I grew up in Memphis and am well aware of racial divides but also have no idea what it feels like to be a minority other than the growing awareness that being a true, real follower of Christ that costs me reputation and resources is becoming, but isn’t quite, a minority.

 

I don’t desire to be a voice that people follow, because I don’t know enough and care more about reform in the issues of race than my website hits, so I will delete this post tomorrow at noon.

This Ferguson thing has frustrated me to no end. It’s frustrating for reasons that both “sides” (funny how we use words to describe things, huh.) seem to share.

But the thing that is the saddest is that we can’t find some common ground in all of this. It’s the thing that is the most frustrating.

 

Here are some  of my observations:

One side is taking the particular situation and one side is taking the system approach

Both are true. Every situation is both an individual circumstance and also a symptom of a system. It cannot be either/or. It is both/and and this is the problem with racial issues. There are realities on both sides of the fence and there aren’t a ton of people that are willing to approach issues with humility.
A broken education system is causing major problems in major urban areas. The amount of crime in these areas with low educational achievement is way higher than other areas.

Growing up in Memphis, I know that racism is alive. It is terrible and ridiculous and if you know me there are few things that irk me more than this.

Just a few things here…

There are systematic problems and issues. Poverty and lack of education create real issues that need to be solved. It’s a problem with a broken system. The government is terrible at fixing it for much of the same reasons that this situation is so fiery. Little humility and little middle/common ground.

While there is clearly a problem with the system, you have to be ok to hold individuals accountable. My reputation matters and I should be held responsible for my individual choices. (This isn’t a condemnation of Mr. Brown, it is about the undercurrent of the race issue.) This doesn’t excuse us from trying to fix a system that is broken, but the sooner we can all own our individual junk, we can try to reach solutions.

There are crazy people that are white and crazy people that are of various other ethnicities and there are awesome, unbelievable incredible cops and there are a few (usually very few) detestable, bad cops. I personally don’t know either parties (Michael Brown or Darren Wilson) and just hurt for them and their families being used as pawns in a dialogue that is only helping newspapers and television personalities and politicians.

Few people know the whole story and it will be written by so many different people that we will not find the truth. Plus the truth is skewed by our biases and experiences. Which is an issue that might just be lost in other conversations.

 

We are flawed, we hate others and we do evil things.

If your perspective of God is based on yours or other’s “goodness”, I hope this will help you to re-evaluate.

 

The greater good is being sacrificed because of hurt and anger

There are two families that because of our culture and media are being affected in ways that few think are possible. Based on responses by others there are many other families being hurt as well. Their value as people are being leveraged for political gain by both sides of the issue.

It also makes me hurt for police officers across the country as they are being painted as evil. Even my words could cause them personal hurt. Their job is dangerous and someone coming at them is incredibly difficult to understand from my perspective.

There are now communities being destroyed. There are families being ripped apart.

It’s unbearable to watch.

I want my son to grow up knowing that we can affect change. I don’t desire to feel helpless. My call is to minister to the hurting. There are people that have nothing to do with this conflict that are being hurt and they feel helpless.

It’s sad.

But this is why the church exists. And more importantly there is hope found in Jesus Christ.

 

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35

 

It’s time for us to begin living this out in conflict and put our reputation on the line for Jesus, less with words and more with obedience to God. Hopefully not our feelings of God but based on what God’s word tells us to do.

 

Opportunity for growth

It sucks that this is what it takes to cause us to reflect. It’s ridiculous. But I’m hopeful that we can begin finding common ground and seeking to find common ground with an area of so much hurt and anger.

It sucks knowing that sermons will be filled with political bias on Sunday rather than the gospel of Jesus. It sucks that are children afraid and confused as they see their community and neighborhood being destroyed in front of their eyes.

There are places to pray for the community of Ferguson. I hope that you will join me in teaching your children about injustice in the world and doing something about it, about caring for people that need to be cared about and ultimately that you would find satisfaction in knowing that Jesus is where we find our hope and can truly heal people and communities.

I pray that there are churches that embrace multi ethinicity. I’m thankful that I attend one.

We don’t do it perfectly or maybe even we don’t do a “good” job, but we are trying and there is a real desire to bridge racial divides for the good of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m so thankful to be a part of a church that ministers to all groups of people and doesn’t do “Simple Church” type of ministry.

This situation should show us that people are complex and so are the issues that we deal with. I hope and pray that we will find a way to grow and teach our children that there is a better way.

I will not tolerate hate in the comments. It’s my website and I get to determine that. You can read my comment policy if you need help knowing if your comment will be acceptable or not.

 

 

 

 

Desk – Write more, better

It’s finally here!!

I’ve been using an app called Desk for the last few months as a Beta tester and I’ve been loving it!!

Yes, it’s awesome for bloggers. Yes it’s amazing for social media. But the absolute best thing about the app is that for some magical reason, it gets me to write more.

As a pastor or a leader in ministry, writing is an essential part of my job. I’ve had to learn this skill and find ways to improve my efficiency and effectiveness in this craft and Desk is now a necessary part of my workflow.

I’ll just go through a few of my highlights for Desk as an app.

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It’s Youth Pastor Appreciation Day

rick celebration

Yes, find a youth pastor and go encourage them today. I want to celebrate my youth pastors, JR Lee and Josh Laxton. I learned so much from you both and I’m thankful for the encouragement and challenge that you’ve given me over my life. Who I am as a leader is partly due to your investment in me, thank you!

We celebrate today, even though a lot of churches celebrate Sundays!

So go find a youth pastor and just tell them how much you appreciate them today!

Knowing God and Experiencing God

I was talking with Sam Luce yesterday and he mentioned something that I thought was incredible. He was talking about his intention of thinking through finding experiences for students where they can Know God but also things where they can Experience God.

My mind began to race with ideas of where our strategy is for our students to Know God and where we have strategies in place for students to Experience God.

Both are necessary.

But sometimes we get stuck in a “routine of normal” where we do what we’ve been doing, simply because it’s what we’ve been doing. We do what is normal because it is normal to us.

 

But I think it’s important for us to take a step back, look at our ministry calendars and ask where am I asking students to Know God and where am I asking students to Experience God.

They work in partnership with one another, but without one, there is no partnership.

Dragon Dictate Test post

Dragon Dictate Photo

I’m testing out a new piece of equipment called Dragon Dictate. I’m actually using a headset with a microphone to record my voice and in the words are transcribed into text. Dragon Dictate is the magic software that takes my voice and makes it into words! Don’t get me wrong I love to write, but sometimes I can work faster when I’m talking. Dragon Dictate gives me the ability to get more words on paper, faster.

What does this have to do with daily workflow?

Well let’s just pretend that I had a six hour car ride. During that car ride I use my phone to record my voice. Then, after the car ride I take the recordings of my voice and plug them into Dragon Dictate. The software will take my voice recordings and create text documents out of it! This allows me to work on the road and yet not have to type. Which means I will get even more work done than ever before.

But not only that, when I have constant streams of thought and I’m unable to process them immediately, I can record it and work out the details later.

I’m really excited about what Dragon Dictate is going to allow me to accomplish.

Have you had any experience with Dragon Dictate? If not, what is one tool that you absolutely could not live without.

Leave me a comment below with your number one tool.

This entire post was written with my Dragon Dictate software.

Seeds Family Worship: The Word of God

 

I recently was given the opportunity to review a copy of the Seeds Family Worship album called The Word of God. I was excited because I have a two-year-old son. I’m always looking for ways to get God’s word in front of him. Sometimes the stuff that’s produced by companies out there is not what I would call cool.

So you might be like me and have the problem of wanting to put scripture in front of your kids, but also not wanting to pull your hair out when they ask you to play that CD for the 8 millionth time. Finding good quality music that is a joy to listen to that teaches children the Bible is tough to find.

So it’s with great joy that I can present an album to you that accomplishes both. This album really is fun to listen to in addition to allowing my son and my wife and I to learn more of God’s word. If you’re looking for an album that is not hokey or corny, but it also teaches God’s word to your children then this album is for you. I would highly recommend checking out Seeds Family Worship and their new album entitled The Word of God.

Also, my favorite track is Impress Them which is based on Deut. 6. My wife and I love that track. Definitely a great reminder for us to hear in the car!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

5 ways to help your children live out the gospel

This is the goal for Cannon. To live everyday with a knowledge of the gospel and to approach life with the mission to fulfill the call on his life. After watching numerous parents at different age levels, there are a few things that I see in common of the parents that seem to have children that are living out the gospel.

Just to clarify, what I mean when I talk about living by the gospel:

  • Knowledge of the Redeeming work of Jesus Christ (creation, sin, fall, redemption, completion)
  • Changed life (looks different based on age)
  • Good works (fruits of the spirit, serving others)
  • Desire + Choices that match with living for Christ

This list of tips isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but it is meant to be helpful. I’ve listed a resource that I believe will help you figure out how to improve upon these areas of your life.

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Bullying video from the Mormon Church

I continue to be impressed by the way the Church or Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are using technology to fight against culture. I hope that there are some Christian filmmakers out there that take on the challenge to fight against culture with bravery and talent.

I pray that we challenge our students to make a difference in the world and not just let the world pass us by.

Adventure

Cannon jumpingYou know it’s something that as a kid, I longed for. Funny thing is that the desire for Adventure never goes away. It changes faces and destinations, but I’m always longing for an adventure. The more I’m in student ministry, the longer I realize that we don’t tell a very good story of what God is doing in the world. We don’t cast a vision large enough to challenge our students to walk into their schools and seek to change the world. It’s just a bunch of principle based, write this down, talk about this in small group going through the motions.

I think it’s one of the big reasons why manhood has taken such a turn for the worst in this country. It’s time that the leaders in youth ministry paint an accurate, yet incredibly big picture our of powerful God. And it’s time that we challenge our students to do good. In fact, to conquer evil by doing good.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite books,

‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ – Bilbo Baggins

I wonder what type of adventure we want our students to be “swept off to”?

The gospel is worthy of brave souls to live it faithfully in all walks of life. The only story worth dying for.

Mission

mauldin miracle league

It’s been interesting how being in the role of High School Pastor is changing me. I’m more interested in developing people (or students) that are interested in changing the world. It’s such a different goal than in Preteen Ministry. It’s just as important but the sense of mission in me is growing.

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