Black on Black Crime

Today, I listened while someone read an editorial from Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe.  In it, Jacoby lists out the brutally convicting statistics about black on black crime.  In particular, I was struck by a quote made by Jesse Jackson in 1993, “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery–then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”  At the end Jacoby soberly states, “Americans overcame white racism; they can overcome black crime. But the first step, as always, is to face the facts.”

As we think about reaching the city, I sincerely hope that we will enlist the help of black leaders, and take both large and small steps toward revitalizing our neighborhoods.  I also sincerely hope that black leaders will step up to combat the problems of violent crimes in their own communities.  Consider what Martin Luther King Jr would think of the internal violence that was tearing the African American community apart.  What would he do?

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Singing!

I was having a conversation about some kids at church singing songs to God.  Most likely, the kids had very little idea what they were singing, but boy, were they having a ball!  “How cute!  Even though they don’t really get it, they still enjoy it.”  We were both very glad.

Now at church, we saw a lot of people singing.  While they understood what they were saying, there was the feeling that they did not really enjoy it. Or, that if they did, it was for the wrong reasons.  Perhaps they just like to hear their own voice and so on.

Are we just judgemental about adults?  Or is there some deeper truth that we can see in this situation?  I can imagine a lot of people think about it differently, but I’ll let you make the call!

“Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise” (Matt 21:16)

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3,4)

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Battle on the Homefront

Over Labor Day Weekend our nerves were worn ragged by the constant conflict between our next door neighbor and her boyfriend. We hid out in our bedroom with the AC on high just to drown out the sounds, but eventually the screaming, cursing, and breaking glass had us calling 911. If they didn’t need relief, we sure did. Honestly, we’d had a couple of our own conflicts over the weekend, and although ours were much quieter and more civilized, the tension from next door just wasn’t helping.

This morning I got an email from an old friend and spiritual mentor describing how she and her husband are going through a very messy divorce. I was shocked by the hurt these strong Christian leaders were capable of dealing out to each other. Even their friends had gotten in on the action–and this was all within the Church.

While I was replying to my friend’s email, I was interrupted by a piercing stream of mile-a-minute Spanish, coming from two women in a nearby alley who were talking over each other at maximum volume. I returned to my email while the women argued senselessly for another 15 minutes.

On my drive to work I contemplated how our enemy loves to sow the seeds of conflict all around us. One of his favorite strategies is to fan into flame little grievances until husband hates wife and mother hates son and neighbor hates neighbor. No wonder Juan and I struggle with conflict; we’re swimming in a sea of it!

Not to completely blame the devil, by any means–we contribute our fair share to the problem–but I just realized that our small but sometimes-too-frequent conflicts, our friends’ marital strife, and our neighbors’ shouting matches are part of a bigger scheme on the part of the Accuser himself; and I just want to say that I’M NOT BUYING IT ANYMORE. I’m not going to give in to the self pity and anger that come with my little grievances, because I see now that they’re part of a bigger war. I don’t want to give Satan the satisfaction of seeing the tide turn in his favor in yet another household, in yet another relationship.

Of course, I’ll probably fail at this resolution in a matter of days or hours, but my eyes have been opened, and I am calling on the Lord of Armies (Hosts) to help me win this battle.

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Everyone is Lonely

<strong>John</strong>, who organizes church socials, sees people come and go while the depth of relationships stays shallow.  <strong>Judy</strong> can’t seem to find people to hang out with at all.  <strong>Mike</strong> can’t seem to get past the cultural differences that he’s facing with the people around him.

<em>Everyone I know is looking to belong</em> and yet so few people have a solid community of friends.  You would think that with everyone wanting it, more of us would have it!  How have we as a generation lost all ability to form healthy relationships with the people around us?  Is it our amazing independence?  Do we all have these <a href=”http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&amp;rls=com.microsoft%3A*%3AIE-SearchBox&amp;rlz=1I7DKUS&amp;q=emotional+walls” title=”Google search on emotional walls”>thick walls</a> built around us?  Or does the global market move us around too often to get roots?

Perhaps part of the problem is that we want relationships on our own terms.  And, being that relationships are exactly <strong>not</strong> just on our own terms, we falter.  We can’t get prepackaged friendships!  <em>Real relationships take work and commitment</em>.  They require us to drop our perfectly planned agenda to help people move, to take them cookies, or to bear their burdens through the death of a loved one.  Not just occasionally, but <strong><em>consistently</em></strong>, so that we can be people who others rely on.

Even as I talk to people about being good friends to get good friends, no one seems willing to make the effort.  Or if they do, they don’t want to let people take anything from them.

So what will it be for us as a generation…

<p align=”center”><strong><em>community</em> or <em>independence</em>?</strong></p>

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Big Dreams vs Health Wealth

As I was thinking about dreaming great dreams, a friend of mine asked what the difference was between health and wealth and great dreams. I thought that was truly a great question.  While I believe on an emotional level the difference is clear, on a logical level they are indeed similar.  They both ask God with expectation, and wait for God to deliver.  Indeed, there have been a number of people I have counseled, who could not tell the difference between great dreams and a warped gospel.  This led to them being ever disappointed by God not pulling through when they were expecting what they saw as great things.

One of my favorite bible verses comes to mind: (Rom 11:33-36)

“Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God,

How unsearchable his judgements,

and his ways beyond searching out.

For who has known the mind of the Lord?

And who has been his counselor?

Who has ever given to God that God should repay him?

For from him and through him and to him are all things,

To Him be the glory forever, Amen”

So how do we distinguish between a great dream and a lie?  How do we interpret verses like “and he will give you the desires of your heart” or “you have not because you ask not”?  I think the answer lies in the last line of the above verse… “to him be the glory forever.”  Are your dreams God-centered, or me-centered?  Some of the people who could not tell them apart tried to mix the two…

“It benefits me and God!  Can’t God see that this is a win-win!?”

A great dream is one in which God gets all the glory.  Not just a part, but every last bit.  For you see “from him and through him and to him are all things.  When God is the center, the dreamer is just as willing to be the recipient of blessing, as he is the recipient of martyrdom, as he is the recipient of a boring dead-end desk job.  The person who is looking for his own glory will forever live a life of disillusionment, because all the glory will go to God.

One last note… Did not Satan sin by seeking his own glory?  Aren’t people taking glory for themselves now? How will it end?  I guess we’ll see!

“Then I hear what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude,

like the roar of many waters

and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder,

crying out “Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and His Bride has made herself ready.”

~Revelation 19:6,7

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Dreaming a Great Dream

In my time with God I’ve been praying through Good to Great by Chip Ingram. This isn’t the classic by Jim Collins, but a sort of Christian version of the same thing.  On a chapter I read recently Chip Ingram talks about having God sized dreams, not little me sized dreams, but the big ones.  The ones I dare not admit because they sound audacious and arrogant.  Why wouldn’t God be able to do those?

Well, he can!  I imagine being able to grow a ministry that is consumed with the Glory of God!  Where every believer is unconcerned about their own life, but is caught up in a delicious sort of worship that nourishes our souls and gushes from all our pores to the world around us.  I believe that God can use me to build up that kind of ministry that is not only infinitely practical, but also explosive, reacting like a ton of C4 in a brush fire.  Where followers of Christ will devote themselves to good works because of their ardent devotion to God, and their lavish love of others.  I believe we can proclaim that this is not only possible but inevitable if we believe God, and trust him for the impossible.

Do you have a dream?

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Here’s Life Inner City

Our Mission

To serve and mobilize the church to live out God’s heart for the poor so that all can grow in Christ and multiply spiritually.

Guiding Values

As a part of Campus Crusade for Christ we strive to fulfill the Great Commission within our own cities. At same time, we seek to be a ministry that is sensitive to the needs of the poor. In light of this we try to minister from a wholistic standpoint. We believe that the Christian walk entails three aspects:

Holistic Ministry model

A personal walk with God: God desires that we have a vibrant personal relationship with Him.

A Ministry of Multiplication: God calls us light and salt; it’s what we are as Christians. We haven’t done anything worthy of it, it comes from our adoption. In light of this, we have adopted a certain Strategy.

A passionate Love: It’s easy to love those we like. It’s even easier to love those we like that are like us! However, God calls us to love the broken, weary, tired, alien, orphan, widow, and poor. Here’s Life Inner City seeks to love the Downcast.

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Portable Applications

Portable applications have been interesting me for a while.  Essentially, you can put them on your USB flash drive and carry them wherever you go, with all your settings, files, and preferences. If they’re well written they also won’t leave any traces on the host computer, nor will they require admin privileges.

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Black Flight

Black Flight is changing the way our cities look!
This has serious implications for those of us with Here’s Life Inner City, or for that matter, any inner city organization. I would hope that we take notice, because not only will it affect who we do ministry with, but also where we do it. If we stay in the cities, then we will be working with a largely upper middle class white post-modern. If we wish to remain working with the poor, we might find ourselves in the suburbs.

Another interesting speculation is that with some western rural towns having an unemplyment rate close to 2% there might be a slow, but steady shift away from poverty caused by unemployment. What then?”

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Overstimulated

Have you ever been overloaded by the information available to you?

Lately, it seems as if I’m on information overload and my brain needs to work double time to keep up. I find myself contemplating parapsychology and wondering if kick starting a lucid dream is biblical. When I go to the library and browse amongst the titles, I find that my minute has turned to 10 and my 10 to 30. If only I could process faster… Instead, I lay awake before I go to bed with my mind racing, wondering when it will all end so that I can simply go to sleep.

Is it good to be so mentally vibrant? Or is it just a way to foster what our society sees as a high level of ADHD? Either way, I find myself in need of self-control and discipline as I choose what to focus on in any given second. For I can think of great things or lousy ones, busy ones or contemplative ones, or even shut it all out and be still.

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