Tag Archives: Folks

“Do you believe that Jesus is worth abandoning everything for?”

What is Jesus Worth to You?

In his recently published book entitled: “Radical David Platt invites us to encounter what Jesus actually said about being his disciple, and then obey what we’ve heard. He challenges us to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated a God-centered gospel to fit our human-centered preferences. (ouch)

Platt calls into question a host of comfortable notions that are common among followers of Christ in modern culture, then he proposes a radical response, in that we live the gospel in ways that are true, filled with promise, and ultimately world changing.

I love the idea, but how achievable really is this? How many people do you know that are willing to Abandon Everything for Jesus?

What part of the Gospel is optional?

It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily… But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?

Do you understand the scripture to suggest that we should be ready to give everything up?
Would You?

COLOR BLIND

As you know, we launched this particular Blog series several months ago, entitled: “HOT TOPIX!” as an opportunity to address issues that in many cases, have become very difficult for people to deal with and may even find embarrassing,

By the way: This information was compiled from the Pastor’s notes on the recently concluded Message Series entitled: “Hot Topics” as it was taught by Mid Lakes Christian Church Senior Pastor; Doug Dykstra. See what you have been missing? Let’s begin with HOT TOPIX #7,

“COLOR BLIND”

For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (I Cor 14:8)
Armies in the ancient world were trained to respond to trumpeted signals, If the trumpeter blew one sound, they would charge – if he blew a different sound, they would retreat, but, if his tune was garbled, or if he didn’t pipe it clearly, then the army would be thrown into confusion

Today, the church is God’s trumpet.
We’re responsible to set the moral tone, but on the issue of Racism, the church has failed – miserably.
If the church had been playing God’s music to our society for the 230 years of our nation’s existence, all the confusion on all the subjects we have discussed could have been avoided, instead the Trumpet of God – the church – has wimped out and failed to take a stand on each of these issues. And if the church isn’t blowing a clear signal, what will come of our world?

UNFORTUNATELY, NON-BELIEVERS HAVE LED THE WAY IN OVERCOMING RACISM
Conservative, Bible-believing churches have largely stayed out of the whole issue of racism. Sadly, I’ve never to my recollection, heard a sermon on the subject, but in keeping our head low (so we can stay out of the fight) we have become silent co-conspirators in the ugly things that have happened in our nation’s history. Even worse, some churches have used tradition, or convenience, or even misused the scripture to justify racism, oppression, and prejudice. Take our worship services for example, many, are still the most segregated public place in our nation.
But here’s the most disgusting thing of it all: In the matter of racism, the church was more like a car’s taillight – merely trailing behind America’s Supreme Court and other secular agencies, when we should have been a headlight, leading the way.
~ It took the Supreme Court to handle a problem that the church should have
straightened out 230 years ago!

Tony Compolo is Italian descent, but he loves to preach in black churches because they are so expressive in their worship.
It’s true! I got the chance to preach to a black church once and it was a blast!
They never asked me back, though.
When whites go to church, they just sit there with their arms crossed and body language says: “Go ahead, say something interesting.”

Getting back to Tony’s story: When you preach, they amen you – like saying “sick‘em to a dog.” But one time, Tony wasn’t getting any affirmation from the crowd. He could tell that he was laying an egg that day. The crowd got quieter, and body language was telling him that he wasn’t ringing their bell. It got even quieter. Finally, there was a pause, and a brother from the back stood up and said: “Help him, Jesus! Help him, Jesus!”

RACISM
A. RACISM – is the attitude that says one human being is superior to another because
of the color of his skin – or his national origin.
Great comment written by a black man in Texas
When I was born – I was black
When I grew up – I was black
When I go in the sun – I am black
When I am cold – I am black
When I am bruised – I am black
When I am sick – I am black
When I die – I am black

Now, you white folks….
When you were born – you were pink
When you grew up – you were white
When you went in the sun – you got red
When you are cold – you’re blue
When you are bruised – you’re purple
When you are sick – you are green
When you die – you are gray
• So, who you calling “colored”?

B. RACISISM IS A PROBLEM ALL OVER THE WORLD
1. Neo-Nazi’s – Skinheads
2. Apartheid
3. Africa’s ethnic cleansing Hutus killing Tutsis, or is it the other way around?
4. Croats, Serbs
5. Japanese and Koreans
6. In Iraq, we seek the Shiites killing the Sunnis, and they both want to kill
the Kurds

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE UNDERLYING CAUSES OF RACISM?
I.e; Why does one person feel superior to another because of the color of his sin

A. PARENTAL INSTRUCTION
1. For many, our parents taught us to resent those who didn’t look just like us
Often prejudice is simply learned behavior.
a. Kids aren’t born prejudiced – They have to be taught to hate – very carefully taught
b. But, if you grew up with parents who had condescending attitudes toward blacks, or toward whites, or Orientals – whatever – then, you’ll probably carry those thoughts the rest of your life.
3. If you were carefully taught by statement or example to think that way, this is an area the Lord would have you reprogram your mind.

B. IGNORANCE
1. If we don’t know people from other races, we question their motives, or intelligence
We somehow diminish other races…find ways to think less of them as people
At a U.N. dinner, an Oriental fellow was seated next to a typical blowhard type. The blowhard, attempting to make conversation, leaned over and said: “You like soupee?”
The Oriental nodded
When the main course came, the guy said: “You like steakee?”
Oriental nodded
Then, they introduced the speaker for the evening, and it was the Oriental guy, who got up and gave an excellent speech, lasting 40 minutes — in perfect Oxford English.
When he came down and took his seat again, he looked at the blowhard and said: “You like speechee?”

C. FEAR
1. “They’re taking over. They’re taking our jobs.”
2. ‘They’re taking over our neighborhood – property values may suffer.”
3. “My daughter may marry one of them”
4. “There’s getting to be more of them than there is of us”
5. Cultural stereotyping. Prejudging = prejudice

D. OUR SINFUL NATURE
1. Because we have inherited the sinful nature, we have a desire to feel superior to other people. We want to exclude, demean, humiliate other people because it makes us feel better about ourselves.
2. We feel better about ourselves if we can look down on others
3. Racism is arrogance, and ignorance….but the bottom line: it is sinful

1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show
favoritism. …..
8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as
yourself, you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers (Jas 2:1, 8-9)

III. IS GOD A RACIST?
A. GOD TAUGHT MIRIAM A LESSON
1 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.
9 The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them.
10 When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam—leprous, like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy;
(Numbers 12:1, 9-10)
1. Moses’ wife was “Cushite” = Ethiopian
2. But, the interracial marriage was dividing the family, as they do to this very day
3. God’s response: The Lord’s anger…Miriam got leprous…Moses pleaded for her healing, which the Lord granted – after 7 days

B. GOD TAUGHT PETER A LESSON
1. Peter was the poster-boy for racism in the first century
2. But God sent visions to him about that – and insisted that he go to a Gentile’s
house, which he did – begrudgingly
3. Now, this former racist made a remarkable statement
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:34-35)

C. GOD TAUGHT THE DISCIPLES A LESSON
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20)

D. GOD TEACHES THE CHURCH A LESSON
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.” (Rev 7:9-10)
Shouldn’t the church on earth look the way it will look in heaven?

OUR RESPONSE TO RACISM MUST BE…..

#1 CONFESS OUR SIN
Tony Evans, a nationally known preacher says: “Racism is not a bad habit. It is not a mistake. It is sin. And therefore, the answer is not sociology – it is theology.”
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-9)

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as racist, but sadly, most of us are racist – at some level, just as we all have some measure of pride, greed, etc. We can’t get away with justifying ourselves by saying: “That’s how my parents taught me,” or…. “I had bad experiences with people from this or that race.”

I was so disturbed by the racist, anti-Semitic comments Mel Gibson made recently when he was arrested for drunk driving. The terrible thing about this is that so many Jews were against his movie, “The Passion of the Christ” because they said it was anti-Semitic. The continual response was that it wasn’t at all anti-Semitic. But when Gibson had that meltdown at his arrest, and spewed anti-Semitic comments, he undercut the value of a great film!
Likewise, we undercut everything our Savior stands for when we are racist! So, we need to ask God to:
#1 Reveal to us our racist tendencies
#2 Work with His Spirit within us to transform our heart and mind.
#3 BE COMMITTED TO RECONCILIATION

Reconciliation is God’s will for us.
Now he had to go through Samaria. (John 4:4) Jesus was traveling north, between Judea and Galilee. All Jews would take the long way around, crossing the Jordan River and then coming back across again, once they were above Samaria. But Jesus HAD to go through Samaria because the Samaritans mattered to God.
Jesus came not only to reconcile man to God – but People to one another

Paul writes to the Ephesians: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility(Eph 2:13-14)

The Jews put up a 5’ high wall in the temple that Paul here calls the “dividing wall of hostility” On that very stone from that wall, found recently by archaeologists, it says that “no Gentile is to go beyond this point, for if he does, he will only have himself to blame for his death which will surely follow.”

Obviously, God intended the church to be a place of reconciliation.

Martin Luther King’s famous speech, “I Have a Dream” on the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial, said:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

Well, I have a dream of our church being a model of reconciliation to everyone we can touch. Here, people of every tribe, and language, and nation are unified under the banner of Jesus’ cross.
Our church is not a yuppie church, a baby boomer church, a DINKs (double income-no kids) church, a generation X church, a retirees church, a black church, a white church – – – Our church is all of these things! We are a Christian church, where Black/White, Asian/Hispanics rich/poor, young/old experience welcome hearts, where they feel wanted, needed, and appreciated.

The world isn’t much impressed with beautiful church buildings – but what captures their eye is a group of people who treat each other with respect and grace – across the board …. Where genuine love flows like a river. Where they see people living in peace and acceptance where elsewhere, there is hostility.
– – – That’s where Jesus is praised!

#2 BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEOPLE OF OTHER RACES
Jesus didn’t just say “Hi” to the Samaritan woman – he deliberately struck up a conversation with her. She was so impressed she went to her village and brought out the whole town (also Samaritans) to meet him. He stayed there for two days, teaching them
The first thing that we can do to someone who has sucked up all the courage they can find and come to our church is to look them in the eye and warmly greet them.

#3 FORGIVE PAST OFFENSES
Don’t get caught up in bitterness, holding grudges is like mixing poison for someone else and then drinking it yourself.
Everyone is bitter! Whites are bitter about affirmative action and reverse discrimination, Blacks are bitter when slighted by whites, or treated unfairly, etc. But we are supposed to respond differently than the world! Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph 4:31-32)

Keith Richburg is a Washington Post reporter who spent three and a half years in Africa as a reporter. After this, he wrote a book “Out of America,” in which he talks about the negative view of Africa that he developed in his time spent there; “I am not a hyphenated American. Though slavery was a terrible sin, I’m thankful to be living in America and not Africa today. Is there anything left of Africa in those slaves who made that torturous journey across the Atlantic. Is there anything left of Europe in the white Americans who sailed that same ocean – English Americans, or Dutch Americans?
I see the flaws in America, I curse the intolerance, but even with all that, I recognize that it is the only place I truly belong. It is home. And, I feel for Africa’s suffering and empathize with its pain, but most of all I thank God my ancestors got out. I thank God I’m an American.”

Reminds me of Joseph, in the O.T., sold as a slave into Egypt. When he had the chance to return vengeance on his brothers, he refused, saying he’s not bitter. “You meant it for evil, but God has used it for good.”

So, none of us should play the race card – we must play the grace card because the Bible says: “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

CONCLUSION: THE STORY OF JOHNNY LEE CLARY
Johnny Lee Clary was raised by a racist father who taught him to stick his head out the car window and shout racial slurs as they passed by blacks. Dad would pat him on the back and say: “That’s my boy!”
His mother was an alcoholic, who didn’t pay him any attention. His grandmother was a Christian who took him to Sunday School every week until one time he came home singing:
“Jesus loves the little children – All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
From that day on he wasn’t allowed to go to church.

When he was 11, he was in the room when his father put a gun to his head, and pulled the trigger. His mother couldn’t take care of him, so he was sent to California to live with his older sister and her ex-con boyfriend, whose only interest in him was the government check she got each month.

One day while watching TV, he saw a guy talk about the Ku Klux Klan, and found out how to join. In essence, they adopted him and he counted the KKK as his only family. He rose rapidly through the ranks and ultimately became the Imperial Wizard of the KKK, then, one day, Johnny got the chance to do a radio debate with a state leader of the NAACP – a preacher named Wade Watts.

Preacher Watts completely shook up Johnny Clary. Instead of coming in with an angry spirit, preacher met him in the hallway, and put out his hand and said: “Hello there, Mr. Clary. I’m Wade Watts. I just want to tell you I love you and Jesus loves you.” Clary was so stunned he shook Wade Watts’ hand. Suddenly he realized he broke a major KKK rule, and Watts saw him looking at his hand with a stunned expression on his face. Watts laughed and said: “Don’t worry, Johnny. It don’t come off.”

Johnny started calling him names, and Preacher said: “God bless you, Johnny. You can’t do enough to me to make me hate you. I’m gonna love you and I’m gonna pray for you, whether you like it or not.” Clary says he didn’t know how to deal with that. He had never had that happen to me before.

After the radio debate, Wade Watts came running up to Clary, holding his baby. “Mr. Clary, this is my daughter Tia.” He held her out with her shining dark eyes looking straight at Clary and he said: “You say you hate all black people, Mr. Clary. Just tell me – how can you hate this child?”

As a result of this, the KKK set fire to Watts’ church, drove by his house calling him names, threw trash all over his lawn. Then they showed up wearing their sheets and hoods, and called out to him: “Get on out here, boy, we got something for you.” And he comes outside and he says, “Boys, Halloween’s four more months away. I got no trick or treat in here for you. Come back in October.” And he went back in the house.

They were running out of ideas, but one day they burned a cross across the street from his house. He came outside and asked us if they needed hotdogs or marshmallows for their barbeque. One day Clary called him up and disguised his voice and said, “Hey, boy, you’d better be afraid. We’re coming to get you, boy. You don’t know who we are but we know who you are.” Watts: “Hello, Johnny. Let me do something for you, and he began to pray: ‘Dear Lord, please forgive Johnny for being so stupid. He doesn’t mean to be so ornery, he has a good boy trying to get out somewhere in there.’”

One day they were watching Preacher Watts, when he went into a restaurant, so they gathered about 30 KKK member’s, went into the restaurant, surrounded his table and Clary said: “I’m gonna make you a promise,,, I promise we’re gonna do the same thing to you that you do to that chicken. So you think real hard before you touch that chicken.” So he looked at me and looked at the Klan, then he picked up the chicken and he kissed it. And when he kissed the chicken, the whole restaurant exploded in laughter. Even Johnny’s KKK buddies started laughing, so he got mad at them and told them they couldn’t wear their hood and sheets for 2 weeks.

Johnny Clary concludes this story by saying: “And that’s how one old black man defeated the entire Ku Klux Klan.”

Eventually Johnny left the KKK, drank himself half to death, put a gun to his head and said: “Well daddy, I’m following in your footsteps….”
Strangely though, the light coming through the grimy window of his apartment fell on an old Bible, gathering dust in the corner. Hoping for another way, he put down the gun, picked up the Bible and it fell open to Luke 15, the Prodigal Son. And that night another prodigal decided to come home

Johnny joined a multi-racial church, studied, and grew in his relationship with Christ. 2 years later, he picked up the phone and called Mr. Watts. When he came to the phone, Watts said: “Is this that Ku Klux Klansman? Hello, Johnny Lee.”

Johnny told of his conversion, and the interracial church he’s attending. Watts could hardly contain himself and insisted he come and preach at his pulpit, which he gladly did.

Now, Clary finds himself preaching to a mostly black church, where he tells his story. He told them that racism is a learned characteristic – but that love can be learned as well. When he was finished, a teenage girl got to her feet and ran down the aisle, threw her arms around him and hugged him. A weeping Preacher Watts leaned over and told Johnny: “That’s Tia, my baby.”

THE GROUND IS TRULY LEVEL AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS