I Am Not Afraid

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

13 years later, I still can not believe some people took some airplanes and did what they did. They day after 9-11 I wrote this poem and emailed it to some friends. Somehow a Christian radio station in Dallas Texas got a hold of it and read it on the air. In memory of 9-11 I am sharing it again here.

On 9-11-01 Satan manifested himself in the terrorists who were glad to die if they could destroy someone else. On that same day God was manifested in the rescue workers, who were glad to die if they could just save someone else.

               I Am Not Afraid

I am not afraid of bigotry and hate in the terrorists’ hearts.

I am afraid of the bigotry and hate in MY heart.

I am not afraid to die as a Christian in a terrorist attack.

I am afraid to live without Jesus even in times of peace.

I am not afraid to die at the hand of a terrorist tomorrow, having shared God’s love with someone today.

I am afraid to live to be a hundred and ten, never having shared God’s love.

I am not afraid to walk through the valley of death with my Jesus.

I am afraid to walk over the highest mountain without Jesus.

I am not afraid of my loved ones dying in an explosion tomorrow.

I am afraid of my loved ones living without Jesus.

I am not afraid of a terrorist taking my life away from me.

I am afraid of me taking my life away from Jesus.

I am not afraid of terrorists exhibiting hatred.

I am afraid of Christians not exhibiting love.

1 John 4:4   Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

1 John 4:18 -21 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

John 16:33   These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Psalms 91:5 tells us if we love God we do not need to fear terror. There were some that day who died, knowing they were saved and would see Jesus. For these precious souls the would be terrorists totally failed to terrorize.

Donald Sterling and the Human Race

I am writing today from my beautifully multi-cultural church in the Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from my beautifully multi-cultural church in the Tampa Bay area.

Donald Sterling’s phone call has brought back some memories.

The spring of 2003 found me driving from my Fort Worth home to see my sister in Tennessee. I stopped for the night in Monroe, Louisiana. The next morning I stopped at a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop in Vicksburg, Mississippi. As I walked in, all eyes were glued to me, and were staring me down. I checked my zipper. Everything seemed to be okay. I walked up to the counter and smiled at the lady at the cash register, but she only glared back at me. I wiped my face. I must not have rinsed well after shaving.  I cheerfully ordered my two chocolate cream filled doughnuts just like I did back home. I love Krispy Kreme’s  cream filled doughnuts. Its actually cream, like all doughnut shops used when I was a kid, instead of that yellow junk they call cream now.  Only a few of you will even know what I am talking about. But I digress. My cheerful order was not met with a cheerful smile. The lady very matter of factly gave me my donuts, made change and glared at me as I smiled back and said “Thank you!”

As I turned around, I saw all the customers were still glaring at me. I smiled back at them and they only glared back at me. That is when I finally noticed something I had not noticed before. I was the only white person in the store. Everyone else was black. My first reaction to that realization was, “You’ve got to be kidding me! This is so 1964! It’s 2003 people!” I came within an eyelash of making a grand speech but thought better of it. My church back in Fort Worth was a multi cultural church with several different nationalities. (Notice I did not say races and I will tell you later why.) Not only at church, but also at UPS where I worked, I have black friends, white friends, Hispanic friends, and everything in between. And I don’t know if Donald Sterling would approve or not, but I took a black friend to several Dallas Maverick basketball games. Wait, or did he take me? I don’t remember. All I remember is we would go and have a great time, eating at the Spaghetti Warehouse in the West End and then making our way a few blocks down to Reunion arena to see the game.  One time we were watching warm-ups and I noticed a new guy I did not recognize. He had his warm-up suit on so I could not see his number. I had no other way to identify him, so I asked my black friend, “Hey who is the white guy?” My friend replied, “That is Scott Brooks. He just joined the team.” Then my friend laughed and said, “Wow I have never heard anyone say “who is the white guy before?”

So there I stood being stared down by the black customers and workers at Krispy Kreme, in Vicksburg Mississippi. As I said earlier, I came within an eyelash of stopping and announcing to them that “It is not 1964 anymore. It is 2003, and back in Fort Worth Texas we are all friends now,  and we can all be friends here too if you want.” However I would have been very willing to be friends with them back in 1964 too! Well, wait a minute. I was not born until 1965. But you get my point.

A friend explained to me later how deep the pain of racism goes with the black people in the south. After all, Mississippi is where you had terrible things happen to Emmitt Till and others. This is what divides the blacks from the whites. Well I have something that is just going to blow your mind then. While Emmit Till was black and I am white, I am the same race as Emmitt Till! That’s right! I am the same race as Emmit Till. That is why I can relate and identify with him and his pain. This is why his story crushes my heart and makes me angry! I am the same race as Emmitt Till. Emmitt was a member of the human race and so am I. The Bible only recognizes one race, the human race. We may have different colors and different cultures but we are all one race. What happened to Emmitt Till was not a crime against black people, it was a crime against humanity.  I share Emmitt’s humanity and I share his pain.

I have watched documentaries on the History Channel about white supremacist groups that have split up because the members could not get along with each other. So in the end, they did not hate just black people. They hated everybody. Their issue was racial alright. Their issue was with the entire human race.  Hate is just as unconditional as love. You can learn to love everyone or you can learn to hate everyone. I choose love. Its a lot more fun.

Two thousand years ago God took on flesh. See John 1:14. He did not just take on Jewish flesh. He took on human flesh. Jesus represented the entire human race when He went to the cross to crucify human flesh.

 He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Romans 8:3 NLT

Christ represented the entire human race. ‘Red and yellow black and white all are precious in His sight.”

 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile….. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28 NLT

Yep so there you have it. When I heard Donald Sterling say, “Don’t bring that black guy to my games” What I heard was “Don’t bring that human being to my games.” If you don’t want humans going to your games then what do you want? If I separate myself by race from black people then I am separating myself from the human race, and even more fatal, I am separating myself from Jesus!

If I have it my way, we can all ( red, yellow black and white) go to Krispy Kreme together, and basketball games together.  Oh, and lets all go to heaven together too! I think our only Father would love that!

And hey Darwin, I know you are busy after moving your practice from Dallas to Orlando, but give me a call. I would love to take you to a Mavericks game in Orlando and hang out again. I know we are far now from the West End in Dallas, but Chuys will work just fine.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

Health and Healing, Lesson 1

I wrote this devotional about 9 years ago from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Do you recognize this historic Dallas building?

While I like to keep my blogs current here is a devotional I wrote about 9 years ago but it seemed to go good with this week’s SS lesson on praising God, so here it is again.

Ruin Satan’s Day

Has Satan ever ruined your day? Well let me tell you about when I ruined his day! I was driving in the middle of the night across country to see my sister. I had just quit a job that was not working out and had no idea what the future held. I was headed to my sister’s to see about a job. I had no job, no money no future as far as I could see, and then to make matters worse I look in my rear view mirror and see lights flashing! Just what I needed, a speeding ticket while I was broke without a job.  I honestly had no idea I was speeding (enough to warrant a ticket), but the officer was not the least bit sympathetic.

Needles to say I was very frustrated. I was already feeling down before I got the ticket. Now I was in despair and gloom, as I asked God how He was going to take care of this ticket for me, since He knew I had no money when He allowed this to happen. ( Never mind the fact that it was my foot and not His on the gas pedal!) 

As I was complaining to God about the situation He had just placed me in ( Never my fault you know) and asking Him in despair and not faith  how in the world He was going to provide the money for  the ticket, I suddenly realized the obvious. God does not have to provide for this ticket.  God does not have to do anything for me! God does not owe me anything!  Then it hit me what I was doing. After creating me and dying for me, I was withholding my praise from Jesus until He took care of this ticket for me! All at once it dawned on me, if God never provided the money for this ticket, and stopped giving me any more blessings from this day forward, He still has already given me way more than I deserve! As a matter of fact, Calvary alone warrants all of my thankfulness, praise and devotion, without God ever giving me anything else!

There in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, I changed my attitude from gloom and despair to joy and praise! I decided not to ask God to help me pay for the ticket, but instead just thank Him and praise Him for everything else He has already done for me. I then remembered reading a passage from inspiration about how Satan can not stand to be in our presence when we praise God,  “When the evil one begins to settle his gloom about you, sing praise to God. … strike up a song about the matchless charms of the Son of God, and I tell you, when you touch this strain, Satan will leave you. You can drive out the enemy with his gloom; . . . and you can see, oh, so much clearer, the love and compassion of your heavenly Father.  {HP 95.4}”

Considering the above passage, I thought to myself, “ Hey if Satan is going to try to ruin my day by giving me this ticket (Remember it’s never my fault when I get a ticket) then I am going to ruin his day by singing praises to my God. I started singing praises at the top of my lungs. I was traveling in the middle of the night hundreds of miles away from my friends or family but I felt the presence of angels as they sang with me. I wasn’t worried about the ticket anymore. I was worried about making sure God knew I appreciated His sacrifice at Calvary. By the way, God did take care of the ticket for me. My sister also happens to be an angel. But even more impressive were the two lessons I learned that night. One: God owes me nothing and I owe Him everything. After Calvary if He never gave me another gift I still have cause to praise Him for the rest of my life! Lesson number two: If Satan tries to ruin your day, instead of murmuring and complaining start singing songs of praise and ruin his day instead!