Friday, September 7, 2012

The Great Christian Divide

You would be hard pressed to find anything more divisive in the work place, extended family gatherings and the American Church than the presidential election. Most Americans have strong emotional ties one way or the other. Some opinions have been formed over study, some through tradition, most probably a mix of both study and tradition.

Either way, it saddens me when Christians, who are united in Christ, allow themselves to be divided over a political party. I could hear the Apostle Paul, "For it has been reported to me that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. Each one of you says, 'I follow the party of the donkey,' or 'I follow the party of the elephant.' Is Christ divided? Was Obama crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Romney?" (1 Corinthians 1:11-13)

We live with a freedom to vote that most people throughout history have never experienced. This is a grace we have been given. Let's make our best determination and take advantage of the vote we have been given, but a believer should never put their hope in any king above the King of Kings.

When Israel called out for a king to rule them, God warned them of the dangers that would come as a result. "In that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day." (1 Kings 8:18) Human presidents and kings will always fail us. They are not perfect and actually should point us, in their imperfection, to the only One who will never fail us- Christ Jesus!

What I will endeavor to do in following blog posts is to share my thoughts on this upcoming presidential election. I do not claim to know every political talking point, or even to know perfectly how to manage my own household. Yet, these are thoughts I have chewed on for several years. I am friends with both Democrats and Republicans. I have close relatives that are both Democrats and Republicans. I minister the Gospel in partnership with both Democrats and Republicans. I see flaws in both parties (and their alternatives). Elections to me have always been settled with choosing the best of fallen options and resting in a God that controls the hearts of kings and presidents.

Know at the end of the day that God raises up leaders for His purposes, not always for your plans. Moses probably would not have voted for Pharaoh if he had the opportunity. Yet, he never disrespected him. Jesus probably would not have voted for Herod, yet He submitted to Him.

With that being said, I will write a series of blogs on various topics that I have wrestled with regarding this election. This is meant to spark a healthy discussion amongst the Church of the Living God. If you can't refrain from healthy dialogue, I ask that you refrain from making any posts on this blog. I definitely intend on writing posts on abortion, the poor and the role of the government. What other topics should I address?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Is Divorce Ever Permissable?

Get in a time machine with me and let’s travel back 100 years to 1911. Let’s crash a wedding of someone’s great grandparents, anyone’s great grandparents. It doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter if they were rich or poor. It doesn’t matter if it was in Chicago or Chattanooga. Nine out of 10 ten weddings we could have crashed would have ended the same way- with two individuals that have joined their lives together in holy matrimony who, given long life on the earth, would have grown old and gray together. They would have raised their sons and daughters together into adulthood and been together long enough to even usher their grandchildren into adulthood.

Yet if we go to a wedding today, there would be a five out of ten chance that the marriage will end in divorce. No longer are children growing up in the safety of a healthy family. Where has the shift come from? Can it be that the salt has lost its saltiness? Can it be that the light has grown dim? With the percentage of divorces being the same amongst self proclaimed believers as with unbelievers, can it be that the church has lost it’s distinction on the earth and has thus lost it’s effectiveness?

I will spend the next several weeks writing on my study from passages throughout Scripture dealing with marriage, divorce and remarriage. I will make the case that most evangelical churches have it wrong. We have allowed the sinfulness of our hearts to determine how we understand marriage & divorce. I will explain why I hold to the permanence view of marriage- that there is no grounds for divorce for a believer that has made a covenant with another. Covenants are life long. I ask that you take this journey with me and be open to prayerfully considering this view. Looking forward to the ride!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chicago Peace Campaign

Derrion Albert was walking home from school on Friday, September 25th when he got caught up in a gang mob fight. He would not make it home as he was beaten to death by fellow teens right in front of The Agape Community Center, a ministry that attends the Legacy Conference.

Read the following article written by Chris Butler of the Chicago Peace Campaign (a ministry of Vision Nehemiah).

Derrion Albert did not die because of a lack of jobs or social programs. He died because we expect more righteousness and leadership from our government and civil institutions than we do from each other.

As I watched the video of Derrion Albert's beating death, I couldn't help but notice the conspicuous absence of anger or passion. From the voice of the young person filming the mayhem on his camera phone to the faces of the perpetrators of the violence; there was no hatred, no rage. This was simply a leisure activity. Derrion's death was not the goal, just an unfortunate outcome.

Those young people were not doing something that they were forced to do; they were doing something they wanted to do.

As director of the Chicago Peace Campaign, an effort to fill the city with peace and drive out violence, I have worked in many neighborhoods across the city organizing and mobilizing churches and other Christian organizations. We have adopted schools, conducted all-night prayer-and-praise meetings on dangerous corners, beautified streets, and conducted activities for young people. But clearly we have not done enough.

I know that there are those who say the solution to our problems in America's inner cities is that we need more jobs and more afterschool programs. I say not so. We have in this city more afterschool programs and jobs available to youth than we did in 1959. But we did not see young people beating each other to death in the streets back then.

Derrion died just outside the doors of a faith-based community center that would not have turned a single member of that mob away if they were looking for afterschool recreation. As I watched, I realized that it's time for the church to come forth and lead. Allow me to explain.

In practically every generation prior to this one, the great problems in America had to do with civil rights. From the unjust system of taxation without representation which led to the Revolutionary War to the unjust Jim Crow laws that led to civil rights movement of the '50's and '60's, we have struggled as a nation to overcome problems that were a matter of public policy. Since those problems were emanating primarily from the halls of government, we struggled to shift public policy discussions, change laws, and elect men and women to national and local government who could make necessary changes and hold the line on previous victories. And as we did this, things improved.

I humbly submit to you that those days are over. Public policy and government statute are not the great source of our problems, and the methods of previous movements have been and will continue to prove ineffectual in our time. It is time for a new approach. I do not mean to assert that every law in this nation -- or even in this city -- is now just; this is certainly not the case. But the law and public policy discussions of our time are not the cause of our problems as they have been in the past.

In the past the law dictated that people of color could not vote. The accepted public policy held that people of color were somehow less human than white people. The clear solution for that kind of injustice is to change that law, to shift that public policy to something more just and humane. This is the basic ethos and methodology of civil rights. Civil rights can be demanded and won from the government.

But today we have laws against drug sales, we have laws against illegal drug possession, we have laws against murder. There is not a respectable public policy professional or organization anywhere in this nation that would make an argument against those laws.
So, why is Derrion Albert not alive today?

Perhaps, the answer is demonstrated better than it can be articulated by the radio DJ who plays endless hours of violence and debauchery, by the policeman who drives 70 m.p.h. the wrong way down a neighborhood street, by the crowd of misguided teens who dispassionately beat one of their peers to death with a piece of wood and their bare hands.

Imagine the impact that we could make if every believer in Chicago truly began to pray for peace in our city, then allowed that prayer to motivate and strengthen us toward action. What if every school in Chicago was adopted by a handful of churches? What if believers in every neighborhood began to take responsibility for a block, a train station, a bus route, and went out to meet the people there, serve them, and act as a presence for peace? What if we turned the power of protest onto the drug dealers by coming to the hottest spots at the hottest times (usually nighttime) and exposing their activities done in darkness with bright lights, singing, and prayer? What if there were a prophetic voice coming out of the church that, through both its words and actions, could consistently afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted? That would be an appropriate movement for Chicago -- and for every urban community.

The great problems of our time -- and, as such, the violence problem in Chicago -- are not a matter of civil rights, but human rights. They are not caused by problems in our public policy and government structures; they are caused by great flaws in our values and cultural structures. The solutions cannot be demanded and won from the government; they must be demanded and won from one another. The challenge is not to turn an unjust government toward justice, but to turn an unrighteous culture toward righteousness.
And that's precisely why it's time for the church to come forth and lead.

Thi’sl will be ministering at the Agape Center (342 W. 111th St. Chicago, IL) on Friday, October 30th at 7:00pm. Please come and join us as we seek to pass on the message of peace that can only be found in Christ.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chicago Peace Campaign

The Chicago Peace Campaign is on the move! Friday Night Lights and Peace Projects are moving forward! Last Friday night we were on the corner of 59th and Normal, a corner filled with high volume drug trafficking, drinking, gun violence ,etc. Several churches were represented as we chanted, “Make peace happen!” We shined flash lights, car lights, generator lights, symbolic of shining the Light of Jesus Christ on the corner. Residents of the neighborhood came out and expressed heartfelt thanks for our concern and prayed and sang with us. We will be back again tonight and all summer! Friday Night Lights is going on in the Lawndale community, Humboldt Park and in West Garfield Park on the corner of Gladys and Kildare.
There are several service projects being implemented around the city! Let’s make peace happen!!!!


Join us next month for the PURSUE PRO-AM!

If you like to golf and want to support students going to college, then the PURSUE PRO-AM is for you.

Look for more info HERE!

Monday, April 20, 2009

PURSUE scholarships

Last Wednesday was the deadline for this years PURSUE scholarship applicants. I am excited to announce that we have sixteen applicants for this years scholarships. We plan to offer three new scholarships to go with our seven students who will continue to receive scholarships through the PURSUE program.

Please pray for us as we assess the many worthy candidates. We must make some tough decisions to decide how to best allocate our limited resources. Also pray that we can be a valuable resource to all sixteen of our applicants as they work hard to PURSUE God's plans for their future.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2020 Vision for schools

With the start of a new year, we at 2020 Vision are praising the Lord for his wondrous provision and his definitive movement in this city! It has been a whirlwind since September when we formed a working committee to bring this vision of partnering schools with neighborhood churches to Chicago. After one general meeting at Marshall in the fall with Vision 2020 founder, Mr. Jeremy Del Rio, we started a working committee that has since met weekly to bring that Vision to our city. Loosely based off of the concept that was so powerful and well received in New York, our Vision 2020 for Chicago included a call to end the violence that plagues the CPS.

We shared this vision and plan in an informational session at Sunshine Gospel Ministry and also at two luncheons for pastors and administrators of churches in Chicago. As a committee, we constructed an informational brochure outlining the premise of Vision 2020 and a suggested plan and sent those out to over 500 churches in Chicago! (Want to receive one? Email Chris@visionnehemiah to get on our mailing list!) We also launched a website that can be found by clicking the 2020 Vision on the Vision Nehemiah webpage. The fruit of our labor is being manifested as the Lord has steered 34 churches and organizations to partner with Vision 2020 for Schools!

This first quarter of 2009, we as a committee are looking forward to working on increasing our monetary support through a fundraiser and are excited to participate in a training event to sharpen our skills as organizers. Look for more information about this training and how you can join us for free at this event. Several churches have come forward and expressed desire to hold an event to increase awareness of Vision 2020 and we can’t wait to get the ball rolling on these and more events!

We also hope to increase our working committee...Are you interested in this project? Please, email for more information. We have a working committee consisting of 7 members with which we have reached all sides of Chicago with the vision, but with your help and partnership, WE CAN do more!