Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Racial Reconciliation

A good post from Alan Cross, former pastor of Gateway Baptist Church and an advocate for Christians going beyond their comfort zones when it comes to race and reconciliation.
Please prayerfully read.

How are you living out your faith when it comes to racial reconciliation? Are you living a biblical life where you not just pray for peace and justice, but you live it out in your every day life. Are you living a life of justice for all? All eyes have been on Montgomery this week. If you are Caucasian, are you a part of truly trying to understand where a person of color is coming from or are you ignoring their cries for understanding?
Pray on this......a good word from the Lord for ALL followers in the Greater Montgomery area.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

 Alan's Post 
Something is happening in Montgomery. It has been decades in the making. Will the churches here see it? What role can we play in this? Montgomery is becoming a city where the nation will visit to remember and yes, repent, of its sins of racism, oppression, and violence. But, will hope and redemption be offered? Or, will it be a hopeless repentance? For so long, the church in Montgomery has been divided racially and, in many cases, has been a bystander and even, at times, a perpetrator of separation and oppression. When these past things were brought up, especially in predominately white churches, the response ranged from indifference to, "why are you bringing up the past," to "this doesn't matter anymore," to "why can't THEY get over it," to "you don't understand," to "be quiet" to "get out." But now, the stake has been driven into the ground. We are here. Will we listen? Will we say anything? Or, will we pretend it never happened?
The best way that the church in Montgomery can be a part of bringing healing and redemption to our nation is to live under the Cross of Christ, to love sacrificially, to listen to one another, to stop hearing everyone else through our own opinions of how we think things should be, to lay down our lives for one another, and to model for the nation what it looks like for "beloved community" in Christ to actually exist - all of this across races, ethnic, and economic groups and lines. There is no better time than now. Our nation is coming apart over these issues and it will just grow worse. This is not an accidental moment in history. This is a Kairos moment. We have to stop "taking it slow" for fear of offending people who are now in their 70s when the events of the Civil Rights Movement saw them in the teens and 20s. Time heals nothing. It just makes the infection grow worse and deeper. The Cross of Christ is the only thing that heals and we must all stand under it. Together.
This memorial exists to make us uncomfortable. To make us angry. To cause us to turn away because we don't want to think that the past was like that. Good. We're starting to see things rightly. But, we need to reconsider. And, listen. And then hear what voices through the ages have been saying. Our nation needs a church in Montgomery that can stare into this and join with the Montgomery Advertiser and say "We were wrong," but then say, "Jesus is right and we cling to Him. Together. And, you can too."
Behold, He is making all things new. This "cross" has been planted on a hill overlooking Montgomery, right "outside the camp," beyond the downtown revitalization where millions of dollars have been invested so people can gather and enjoy entertainment. It is a stark reminder of pain, torture, rejection, and oppression. But, if we look hard enough and remember in our own souls and Scripture, we realize that Jesus was crucified outside the camp too, and that the healing of the world runs through Golgotha. It was the greatest act of injustice in the history of the world when the Son of God was hoisted and hung up on a tree. It was the Hinge of History and all of time is delineated by that tragic event. I pray that this lynching memorial will spur us to lift up Christ as the only healer for the pain and sins of the past as they have shaped the present and that for the future we will all cling to His Cross together, as He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was laid upon HIM, and by HIS stripes we are all healed.
As for me, I'm not turning away from this hill. Through many tribulations will we enter the Kingdom of God. If Montgomery has a message of redemption for the world, it will go over this hill, where heaven and earth almost collide, but are suspended by a gap, swinging in the Southern wind. But, it is in that gap of death and agony where Jesus also hung to defeat death and sin and the grave and make all things new. That is my prayer for Montgomery and the church here. May we take this message of true, deep reconciliation to the world. Together.

Link to Montgomery Advertiser post

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Word Became Flesh

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood." John 1:14 The Message

This is one of my favorite scripture because it reminds me that Jesus, in all he did, went where the people were. Whether it was near or far, He went there. God chose to come to earth and be with us. So what does that say to us, as followers of Christ?

 Here are a few prayer thoughts for us this week.....

1. Pray that followers of Christ in the Greater Montgomery area will continue to be strong and courageous and step out of comfort zones to reach people who are hurting.
2. The Montgomery Baptist Association identified 5 core needs in the greater Montgomery area: Crime, Poverty, Race, Schools and Consumer Religion. There are exciting things going on in each of those areas to draw people to Christ. Ask Lisa Rose for more information on how to get involved.
3. Pray for ourselves. Each of us reading this, I know, has a heart for people to come to Jesus but we must be actively sharing that Good News we have received. It is not the type of news we keep to ourselves.

So, Jesus went to where we were...."to the neighborhood" and "dwelt among us"(in another translation). Will we do the same? We are His representatives on this earth. We are called to do what He was doing. (Re-read John 17).