Archive for January, 2004

Why I’m Here

Posted: January 22, 2004 in Everything

Walking briskly through our church building, one of our members asked me a question that I used to be asked a lot. “Were you comfortable when you first came here?” You have to understand that I’m a young black man ministering to a mostly upper-middle class white church.

Before I moved here, I ministered in a mostly Hispanic city and was asked the same question. The answer to that question is simple. My father constantly ingrained into my brother and me the idea that black people should be represented everywhere.

Once we were watching the movie, The Lords of Discipline. The movie tells the story of an all white military school that enrolls it’s first African-American student. Needless to say, the students did not welcome him with open arms. I asked my dad, “why doesn’t he just leave, why would anyone stick around to be treated that way?” My dad told me, “because if he stays and makes it, he can prove that he’s not only as good as the other students, but that he’s better and he makes it easier for the next guy.”

Hide this story away in your heart.

Once a king built a great highway and invited his people to see who could travel the highway the best. On the first day, people who traveled the new road complained to the king that a large pile of rocks and debris had been left and the mess hindered their travel. One lone traveler, tired and dirty, handed the king a bag of gold, explaining that he had stopped to clear a pile of rocks that blocked the road and found the gold. The king gave the money to the man, saying, “You’ve earned this gold. He who travels the road the best is he who makes the road smoother for those who will follow.”

I think that’s one of the great aspects of my life. I get to break down barriers, plow through pre-conceived notions, and make the road smoother for those who will follow.

Out or Safe At Home?

Posted: January 6, 2004 in Everything

Pete Rose. Cheater? Maybe. Gambler? For sure! Charlie-hustler is back in the news. The entire sports nation is all ramped up about Pete’s confession that he bet on baseball. Is this news? Did we not all know that he bet on baseball? If he were innocent he would have fought Fay Vincent and the Dowd report 15 years ago. He didn’t. He knew he was guilty then. We all know he’s guilty now.

Did I mention that he owes Dowd an apology for 15 years of slanderous allegations of falsifying records? He also owes all of us who wasted an entire evening watching the Pete Rose mock trial starring Johnny Cochran on ESPN. That’s an hour and a half I’ll never get back.

Did I mention he owes reporter Jim Grey an apology for Pete’s ill-treatment of Grey at a World Series game (or All-Star game, I can’t remember) a few years ago when Pete was honored with some of the greats of the game? Sports fans went on ad nauseum about how “inappropriate” it was for Grey to ask Charlie-highstakes to admit his wrongdoings.

Well Pete’s come clean now! Oddly, just before today’s Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee announcements. Pete is hustling again! Only this time, he’s stealing the hall-of-fame spotlight from worthy honorees.

By the way, why has Dale Murphy not been inducted into the Hall of Fame. He played the game good and clean and with honor. He was everything Major League Baseball wants in a player–a two-time National League MVP! But still, no Hall of Fame.

I don’t think Pete Rose should EVER get to be in the Hall of Fame. And I think Dale Murphy should be inducted with much haste. Nevertheless, I don’t get to make that decision. In truth, I’m not qualified to make that decision. I only have my opinion (which, by the way, is extremely well informed).

Heaven is like that too. Luckily for all of us, I don’t get to make decisions on who’s in and who’s out. When confronted with issues like Pete Rose, I’m reminded of how narrow and unforgiving I can be. I’m sure that like Pete Rose I’ve called into question the integrity of the endeavor I consider most sacred–the salvation of my God.

It’s a good thing that Jesus died and lives for all us Charlie-hustlers. It’s the only way we will ever get in.

**P.S. Dale Murphy should be in the Hall.

Recaptured Hearts

Posted: January 5, 2004 in Everything

If you’re not having the greatest day, maybe these words from John Eldredge and Brent Curtis will help.

“God created us for intimacy with him. When we turned our back on him he promised to come for us. He sent personal messengers; he used beauty and affliction to recapture our hearts. After all else failed, he conceived the most daring of plans. Under the cover of night he stole into the enemy’s camp incognito, the Ancient of Days disguised as a newborn. The Incarnation, as Phil Yancey reminds us, was a daring raid into enemy territory. The whole world lay under the power of the evil one and we were held in the dungeons of darkness. God risked it all to rescue us. Why? What is it that he sees in us that causes him to act the jealous lover, to lay siege both on the kingdom of darkness and on or own idolatries as if on Troy–not to annihilate, but to win us once again for himself?…What he is after is us!”