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How White Privilege Inhibits Christian Perfection

This morning I read these words, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. The context of this text is not referring to the day of worship we keep, or the style of worship we embrace, or the way we dress. In context, it’s talking about each of us growing in our love for our fellow man. We are emulating the perfection of Jesus “only when we love with an ALL embracing love.” (John Stott) My heart is broken because I have seen much less than perfection in three recent events, the killing of #AhmadArbery, the killing of #GeorgeFloyd, and the racist display towards #ChristianCooper. And one cannot ignore the obvious commonality in all three of these events—white people using their privilege to physically harm (in two of these cases) or potentially harm black Americans. 

While this privilege cost two of them their lives, and there is nothing more horrific than that, it was the incident in Central Park that illustrates why the other two events can happen. 

Amy Cooper said to Christian Cooper (no relation), “I’m going to tell them an African-American man is threatening my life.” She, however, did not say these words because she genuinely felt threatened. If she had, why would she approach him and take her eyes off of him to make the phone call? Why was she not screaming like she was in trouble until she was far away from Mr. Cooper and until the police were already on the phone? In my heart, I believe that Ms. Cooper said what she said because she understood something clearly. She understood the same thing that the police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd understood. She understood the same thing that the men chasing down Ahmad Arbery understood, which is; if there is a dispute between people of different skin colors, the individual with the lower levels of melanin is likely going to be believed over those with higher melanin. Regardless of who is right and who is wrong! In other words, and I’m speaking to my white brothers and sisters here, we hold privileges that our black brothers and sisters do not have! 

In addition to her shared understanding with the police officers in Minnesota, and the men who chased Ahmad Arbery in Georgia, Amy Cooper correctly expressed the core problem in modern society. Namely, that “racism is real, and I can use it to my advantage.”

The saddest part about each of these incidents is that any semblance of justice was likely only brought about because there was a camera present. In the case of Arbery, the men who ended his life were finally arrested because a video recording of the incident surfaced more than a month after his killing. In the case of Floyd, we know that when cameras are not present, there has been no justice for victims of similar incidents. If we go back far enough, even when I was a kid, we know that even with cameras present, sometimes justice is not done (remember Rodney King?). Finally, I want you to ponder how the incident with Amy and Christian Cooper (again, no relation) might have turned out if the police HAD shown-up? What if they heard the account of a white woman who said an African-American man was threatening her. Who ends up in handcuffs in that scenario? The frantic, screaming, white woman claiming to be attacked? Or an African-American man standing his ground? 

Folks, we have a problem. It’s called white privilege. And while most of us don’t take advantage of this privilege in egregious ways, many of us remain part of the problem. It’s a problem because we only allow our privilege to confront us when we have horrific, unspeakable video evidence placed before our eyes—which is the reason I’m writing this post—and that, my friends, is not enough! We have not done enough.

Until we acknowledge our racist and prejudiced feelings—even our potential for those feelings—we will not change. Until we acknowledge the existence of white privilege, it cannot change.

“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. 

We begin emulating the perfection of Jesus “…only when we love with an ALL (red, yellow, black, and white) embracing love.” 

Let us begin the process of perfection today by acknowledging there is a problem in our world, in our nation, in our church, in us.

Build Your Library Part 1

So over the last two+ years, I have been pursuing my Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis on church revitalization at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Inevitably such a pursuit requires a lot of reading, and because I have a moment of quiet and it is better than Netflix and Chill, I decided to share with you the books I have enjoyed reading for my DMin thus far. There are numerous books I have not appreciated, so I won’t recommend those to you. Now please note most of these are not casual reading books, so unless reading church and theology books are your jam, don’t run out and buy all of these.

Sojourners and Strangers:  The Doctrine of the Church, by Gregg Allison

The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love, by Jonathan Leeman

Reclaiming Glory: Revitalizing Dying Churches, by Mark Clifton

Our Iceberg is Melting, by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber

There’s Hope for Your Church, by Gary McIntosh

Repentance:  The First Word of the Gospel, by Richard Owen Roberts

Comeback Churches, by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson

Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches, by John Hammett

Can These Bones Live? A Practice Guide to Church Revitalization, by Bill Henard

Prayer: Experiencing the Awe and Intimacy with God, by Timothy Keller

Re:Vision: The Key to Transforming Your Church, by Aubrey Malphurs and Gordon Penfold

On Being a Pastor: Understanding Our Call and Work, by Derek Prime and Alistair Begg

We Cannot Be Silent, by Albert Mohler

 Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition, by Hershael York and Bert Decker

What is the Mission of the Church?, by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert

Breakout Churches, by Thom Rainer

I’ve read some other great books during this time as well, but these are the books from my DMin program I enjoyed thus far.

If you pick one of them up I hope you enjoy them too.

Practice Verbal Distancing from These Terms

As our nation and our world continue to battle Covid-19, maybe battle is the wrong word, as we learn to survive in the world of Covid-19, there are terms that are becoming part of our everyday vocabulary.

Two of those terms are “social distancing” and “new normal.”

I’d like to propose that we practice verbal distancing from both of those terms.

I know that another name for social distancing is physical distancing and that is the term I am trying to use more and more. The reason for this is that why we need to maintain physical space to keep the virus from spreading, we should still seek every opportunity to engage socially.

In the very first book of the Bible and the second chapter we are told very directly,

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. . .

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 2:18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Genesis 2:18 is most often referenced regarding the topic of marriage; but we can’t limit it to marriage otherwise when Paul instructs people later in the Bible to stay unmarried if they are able in 1st Corinthians 7 he would be counseling against God’s direct feeling. So while Genesis 2:18 fully encompasses the union of a man and a woman in marriage it also encompasses the need for humans to have social interaction with other humans.

For the vast majority of history, one would need to have physical proximity to another person to also have social proximity to them. This would have been the reality in 1918 during the great influenza pandemic. I have heard a lot of comparisons to that horrific pandemic in our world’s history. I think there are many dissimilarities with that pandemic and what we are facing now, but one of the key differences is that this is not 1918, it is 2020 and 2020 has a multitude of ways to socially engage while keeping physical distance.

So I want to encourage all of us to stop speaking of social distancing and instead practice physical distancing while drawing near socially.

I am back on Facebook in a limit format, for this very purpose, so I can draw nearer to our church members and others that may wish to engage in the midst of this crisis.

I am making more phone calls. I spoke to my dad for forty-five minutes on the phone two Sabbath’s ago. I have not talked on the phone to my dad for forty-five minutes at one time in the five years since I moved to Maryland.

We can text. We can FaceTime. We can email. We can send a card through snail mail. Rain, shine, or Covid-19 the United States Post Office still runs strong. This last Sabbath while our family was out on a walk some church members drove by, they pulled their car over and while we stayed on the sidewalk and they in their car we had a 30+ minute Sabbath afternoon conversation. Practice physical distancing but draw near socially to someone every day!

The second phrase the “new normal” I didn’t realize how much I dislike it until today. I was looking at the news and they had a clip of Hoda Kotb breaking down in tears on NBC’s Today Show. She had just interviewed Drew Brees, the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints who was sharing what he was doing to help Louisiana to fight Covid-19. When the interview ended and Hoda tried to speak she couldn’t . . . her voice broke and tears started to come. Savannah Guthrie her co-host who is in another studio, because they are practicing physical distancing (do you like how I didn’t say social distancing? :)) had to step in and read the tease into the next segment of the show. Later when Hoda had collected herself she said one aspect of her losing it, is that she looked around to hug someone, and no one is there, and then she said, “I guess that is part of it too. Our new normal and we’ll just get used to it.” And that is when I realized I don’t like the term “new normal” either.

I understand by actual definition “new normal” is acknowledging that it isn’t normal. But when Hoda said, “I’ll get used to it.” I thought, “NO!” Because we live in a world where “new normals” those things which seem odd because they have never been this way before. Those things which have never been accepted practices of society before and were previously considered odd or out of place are suddenly accepted, and people say, “I guess this is just the new normal.” And then one day they aren’t the “new normal” any longer, they are just “normal.”

Odd — > New Normal — > Normal

And getting comfortable with not having a friend to hug, should never become normal–so let’s not even think of getting used to this, “new normal.” Let’s just keep calling this physical distancing what it is = odd!

Lessons from Acts 8 in the Time of Covid-19

As we enter into another week of being the church scattered rather than the church gathered, due to Covid-19,  the first verses of Acts, chapter 8, are ringing in my ears.  Acts chapter 8 for those of you that may not recall tells the story of when the church went from a work primarily focused in Jerusalem, to a church scattered around the then known world. The scattering came about through persecution, Stephen, a leader in the early church, was stoned to death for his faith, and then the Bible states, 

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.[1] (Acts 8:1)

If there was no further explanation after verse one, a reader could deduce this scattering destroyed the church, but then we read verse 4, 

“Now, those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”[2] (Acts 8:4)

When the church could no longer be in one place due to the circumstances of their world, the church began to spread and grow.

Ellen G. White in the book Acts of the Apostles sheds further light on the importance of this occasion, 

The persecution that came upon the church in Jerusalem resulted in giving a great impetus to the work of the gospel. Success had attended the ministry of the word in that place, and there was danger that the disciples would linger there too long, unmindful of the Saviour’s commission to go to all the world. Forgetting that strength to resist evil is best gained by aggressive service, they began to think that they had no work so important as that of shielding the church in Jerusalem from the attacks of the enemy. Instead of educating the new converts to carry the gospel to those who had not heard it, they were in danger of taking a course that would lead all to be satisfied with what had been accomplished. To scatter His representatives abroad, where they could work for others, God permitted persecution to come upon them. Driven from Jerusalem, the believers “went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts of the Apostles,105)

Notice some critical points in that paragraph:

  • The persecution resulted in a great impetus to share the gospel.
  • The success, the comfort of what was happening in Jerusalem, caused the people to forget Jesus’ commission to “Go.”
  • The people were losing strength by no longer serving Jesus aggressively.
  • God used the trouble of their day to get his people back on mission.

Does any of this sound familiar to your local church context? Maybe even you personally? 

I love the previous paragraph, but it is the following paragraph in Acts of the Apostles that hits me like a club over the head,

Among those to whom the Saviour had given the commission, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19), were many from the humbler walks of life—men and women who had learned to love their Lord and who had determined to follow His example of unselfish service. To these lowly ones, as well as to the disciples who had been with the Saviour during His earthly ministry, had been given a precious trust. They were to carry to the world the glad tidings of salvation through Christ. (Acts of the Apostles, 105).

The above paragraph, along with the last phrase of verse 1, “except the apostles,” tells us one of the reasons why the gospel began to spread the way it did. The “laity” went out to spread the gospel, not the apostles. People that learned to love Jesus and decided to follow Him along with some of the people who followed Jesus while He was still walking the earth, excluding the apostles, went out to share the message. The “members,” as we may call them, did not see it as the role of the “clergy,” as we may call them to establish the ways and means by which to share Jesus in this time of scattering. They just went out and, in unselfish service, carried the love of Jesus to their world.  

And the kingdom of God grew each day. 

Sometimes it takes a crisis to remind us of the role each one of us has played in becoming the “satisfied church of Jerusalem.” Covid-19 has served as just such a reminder to me. It has awakened me to my failures as a member of the “professional clergy.” I have allowed there to be too much priority on programming and “come to us” type of events, which are pointless in this crisis. I have called people to many committees, but not to training. I have inadvertently taught people that attending worship one day of the week is the primary role of their Christian walk, rather than teaching them that the purpose of the gathering is to be refreshed for the sending the other six days of the week. We occupy members’ lives with so much busyness at church (school) that they don’t have time to be ministers in their neighborhoods and to their co-workers.

I pray this crisis has also helped our members to reflect on their role in surrendering their God-given call to ministry over to the paid professionals. That would start to call us to and hold us accountable for training them to go out and do the work of ministry rather than doing the work of ministry for them.

I pray our members when they have an idea of how they can help their neighbors, won’t make that suggestion to the church, but they will just do it. That if they feel a Bible verse can comfort someone in need, they will share it, not ask the pastor to come over and share it. That if someone around them requires prayer, they will pray, not call the pastor to come and pray.

Hundreds, yea, thousands, who have heard the message of salvation are still idlers in the market place, when they might be engaged in some line of active service. To these Christ is saying, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” and He adds, “Go ye also into the vineyard.” Matthew 20:6, 7. Why is it that many more do not respond to the call? Is it because they think themselves excused in that they do not stand in the pulpit? Let them understand that there is a large work to be done outside the pulpit by thousands of consecrated lay members. Long has God waited for the spirit of service to take possession of the whole church so that everyone shall be working for Him according to his ability. When the members of the church of God do their appointed work in the needy fields at home and abroad, in fulfillment of the gospel commission, the whole world will soon be warned and the Lord Jesus will return to this earth with power and great glory. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14. (Acts of the Apostles, 110)

No one wants to go through a crisis, but a crisis offers opportunities to learn and come out better on the other side. I pray myself as a leader, and our church comes out on the other side better—better workers for Jesus.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 8:1). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 8:4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

January 21, 2020, Genesis 21

Tim Keller once stated,

the reason people disbelieve in the gospel is not because it promises too little but because it promises too much. If you don’t understand that, you don’t even know what you’re rejecting. To reject the gospel with tears, to say, “I can’t believe in it,” with tears, that has integrity, and that shows you know what you’re rejecting. To reject it with laughter, to scoff at it, “People like that who believe things like that,” that shows ignorance.”

 Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

Sarah and Abraham both laughed at God when He promised them a child. They laughed because they could not understand.

If someone laughs at what your Christian beliefs and convictions do not be offended, pray for them.

Laughter is a sign of ignorance not a sign of true rejection.

So don’t reject those that laugh, teach them, show them, help them to understand.

January 17, 2020, Genesis 17

The focus of this chapter is the covenant of circumcision.

But what jumped out at me, were the names.

Abram to Abraham.

Sarai to Sarah.

The name of the unborn Isaac, to remind Abraham that he laughed at God’s promise.

And my favorite of all, El Shaddai. Our English Bibles translate this, “God almighty,” but it is the name God gives to Himself,

“I am El Shaddai”

El is the term for God and Shaddai is often viewed as a translation for all powerful —

but there is also “the suggestion that Shaddai is a composite term of sha (“the one who”) and dai (“is sufficient”). The later Greek versions have adopted this meaning.”

Van Groningen, G. (1988). God, Names Of. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 882). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

 Sarai and Abram who could not have children, became,

Sarah and Abraham because God is sufficient to make a great nation out of the infertile–where there is nothing, God is sufficient to make something.


January 16, 2020, Genesis 16

Proverbs 30:21-23 states,

21  Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up:  22  a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food; 23  an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 30:21–23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


We see Abram’s earth begin to tremble when the latter of the above becomes Hagar and Sarai’s reality.

Abram has shown moments of great faith and he will continue to, but he has also shown moments of great timidity and he will continue to do this also.

It is evidence that overcoming our character flaws is not the work of single moment, but the work of a lifetime . . .

As one with greater insight than I wrote,

Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime.

White, E. G. (1911). The Acts of the Apostles. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 560.

Abram let’s Sarai rule the day in every part of this chapter. She recommends he sleep with her servant to get a child. He acquiesces–it might have been a little more intentional than acquiescing.

Sarai then gets mad at Hagar and when she asks Abram to do something about it, his response,

“Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 16:6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

“Hey, I only slept with her and now she’s carrying my child, but what business is it of mine.”

Actually sounds like too many modern men that impregnate women.

It’s your body, I don’t want anything to do with it . . . it is not my problem.

Abram still a work in progress . . .

Praise God for grace!

January 15, 2020, Genesis 15

For all few of the readers of this blog, you might have noticed I missed January 14. I apologize, I started to write last night, got a major headache and shut-it-down for the night.

Rather than going back. I’m just picking-up with the next day.

In this chapter the big idea that caught my attention, was one of politics . . . please don’t tune out just yet 🙂

On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 15:18–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

This verse would indicate to me that a two-state solution in the Middle East would be a viable position.

For those who may not know what the two-state position is, here is an oversimplified explanation of the two-state concept from the New York Times,

The two-state solution would establish an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel — two states for two peoples. In theory, this would win Israel security and allow it to retain a Jewish demographic majority (letting the country remain Jewish and democratic) while granting the Palestinians a state.

Fisher, Max. (2016, December 29). The Two-State Solution: What It Is and Why It Hasn’t Happened. Retrieved January 15, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/29/world/middleeast/israel-palestinians-two-state-solution.html

The Bible states that the land would be to Abram offspring, as we will see in future chapters that includes Ishmael. Ishmael is seen as the ancestor from Abram over many Arab people. And God states,

Now there is definitely a Biblical point of view that sees the promise being transferred exclusively to Isaac’s line . . .

And I am probably wading into waters I don’t fully understand. But this blog is representative of my thoughts . . . and I see a Bible passage that leads me to perceive that a two-state position would be copasetic.

Even the end of the passage I quoted above, speaks of those being removed from the land as nations that predate the children of Abraham, not the nations from Ishmael.

My thoughts on Genesis 15 . . .

What say you?

January 13, 2020, Genesis 13

In Genesis 13 Abram returns to the place we first saw him worship in Genesis 12,

And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord.

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 13:3–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

And just as in chapter 12 immediately after worshiping Abram is confronted with a dilemma. The confrontation in chapter 12 led to failure.

In chapter 13 Abram now faces conflict with his nephew and his nephew’s supporters.

But could it be that Abram remembers the last time he worshiped between Bethel and Ai how quickly he lost faith?

In this confrontation, Abram resembles the generosity and humble spirit of God.

What do we see?

Abram learning and growing from his past mistakes.

Isn’t that all that we are called to do–to learn from our past–to come again to worship God and to grow . . . to be better next time?

I Need Your Social Media​

Greetings faithful readers and new readers.

I made a choice two years ago to leave the Facebook world, you can read about that here

A little over a year ago I left Twitter.

And this past February I left Instagram, you can read about that here

Unfortunately no longer being on any social media platforms has hurt the traffic on this blog now that I have returned to writing.

Now maybe this is wanting my cake (having the advertisement of social media) and eating it too (being off of social media), but I would like to ask you the reader, if you read something on this blog that you think would be helpful, interesting, encouraging, challenging to others will you please click on the buttons to the left and share these posts in your social media environs.

I would also like to encourage you to subscribe to this blog at the bottom of the page.

Thank you for your help.

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