Have you ever had a road rage moment? I recently ran into a situation that made me glad not to have a “Jesus is my Co-Pilot” bumper sticker on my car.
Someone pulled out in front of me on a busy street. Which is annoying by itself, but then the person continued down the road 20 miles an hour below the speed limit with no sign of speeding up in sight. I am not proud of what I did next, but sometimes life gives you a reason to want to smack back. Instead of slowing down for them, I kept going and waited until the last second to go around the driver. When I passed him, he gave me the one-finger salute.
In my book, I think you get one “off.” You can have the cut-off or the flip-off, but you don’t get both. To cut someone off and then flip them off seems a little greedy. So when that person got behind me, I slowed down to the same speed he was when he cut me off. I know. That took it too far.
Immediately after doing this, I felt horrible. I realized that I had let a wrong done to me produce a wrong response from me. I cannot control other people, but why did I lose control of myself?
The next day, I was praying and believe God gave me a phrase to use in situations like this to help keep calm. Here it is:
“I have too much to lose to sweat the small stuff and too much to gain from moving on to more important things.”
We all experience annoyances, disrespect, and people not doing the right thing, negatively impacting us. Most of these situations are resolved by just moving on. It is a mark of wisdom to overlook a fault, according to Proverbs 19:11:
If you are like me, then you can sometimes become easily frustrated. Life’s agitations can be sandpaper that smooths out your character or sand in your shoes that irritate your journey. What I feel like I learned from my situation is that minor frustrations become big problems when we do not let them go. It is best to remember that we have more to gain from overlooking an offense than we can hope to achieve by trying to smack back.
What Christians Can Learn From Jesus’ Political Problems
In John 18, we see two approaches to the unfair removal of a person of influence and a government’s unjust rule. Before we get into that, let’s look at what led to this controversial overstep of the ruling elite.
They Never Gave Him A Chance
Those in power resisted Jesus from the moment he came onto the political stage. He was a threat to leaders with influence on all sides. They tried to trap him, manipulate the narrative about him, and denied the legitimacy of his good works. Then came the awful day when they would finally have their chance to remove him from his perch of popularity with the masses. Does any of this sound familiar?
Protesting a Just Cause
How did his followers respond to this corruption and oppression of their message? They took out the sword. Peter slashed with all his might. He resisted the injustice with force – attacking the crooked power-hungry political agents that had come against him, ahem, I mean, God’s ways. He sliced off the high priest’s servant’s ear. Is this not unlike many of the responses we see on social media from Christians reacting to the current political climate? Could it be this is also symbolic of how we remove people’s ability to hear the gospel message from us when we attack them because of their political differences?
Maybe There Is Another Way
Jesus’ response was different. He said to put away the sword. Instead of dividing, he healed. In fact, Jesus restoring Malchus’s ear was his final miracle before the resurrection. This causes me to consider that maybe we gain more influence by being a part of the healing than we do by taking up the sword.
Instead of fighting back against outsiders, Jesus surrendered by allowing himself to be unjustly arrested. Being both the Lion and the Lamb, he did not go to slaughter silently. He spoke truth to power without sparing those who most protected his people’s interest. He did not brush their ungodly behavior under the political rug. How often we make excuses for leaders who offer us political refuge but live contrary to all we hold sacred. Jesus did not prop up these types of leaders in unrighteous reverence. He contended for the Kingdom of Heaven instead of compromising with those who could grant him favor with governing leaders.
What Is The Difference?
What caused the disparity between the response of Jesus and that of his disciples? We can find the answer in John 16. This is where Jesus confronts the worldly perspective of his followers. Even then, as they approached the end of their time with Jesus, they still did not view their current predicament with spiritual eyes. They lacked a heavenly perspective on their earthly situation, but why did they not see things correctly?
How Jesus prepared for this moment shows us why He trusted His Father’s plans while his disciples tried to take matter matters into their own hands. In the first verse of John 18, we see Jesus “had finished praying” right before the confrontation over the White House. Oops. There I go, again. I mean before the confrontation in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We know the disciples failed to pray with Jesus even though he asked them to join him in doing so. Right before his arrest, Jesus corrected Peter about his lack of prayer in Matthew 26:39:
“And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?”
Where Is Your Hope?
Our political loyalties should not overshadow our role in Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven. We, as the church, should not be slashing around like Peter. Instead, we should be a source of healing like Jesus. The actions we take in times like these are directly connected to where our hope resides, or rather in whose presence we draw security. Prayer is not just a precaution or a response to persecution. It is where we find the power to bring healing to those who are hurting and the perspective to be a light in confusing times.
When Doing Everything Right Is Not Enough to be Treated Equally
By: Bryant Turner
*Bryant is a friend of mine. After the death of George Floyd he shared parts of his story with me I had never heard before. I broke down in tears. Before talking to him I thought things like being pulled over by the police is something we all have to deal with. I was wrong. This is much different. Other things he shared with me were ugly parts of our culture that I know exist but did not want to face. The kind of man that Bryant is, the best of the best, forced me to realize these painful realities are hurting good people. I could no longer ignore the problem because I was not directly part of it. He originally shared what is posted below on his Facebook page. It has been shared and liked thousands of times. I thought it was a very important post so I asked for his permission to also share it on my blog. I know you will enjoy his story.
Still Not Enough
Have you ever had the exhausting feeling of doing all you can to make someone happy, but they still are not satisfied? Maybe you work with someone, that no matter what you do, they already have their mind made up about you. There is nothing you can do to change it.
What if that feeling didn’t come from one person or one situation, but was something you had to live with all of the time? What if you were black and did everything right, but continued to run into the wall of your best not being good enough simply because of your skin color?
This is not something I usually do. I typically do not speak up about my daily reality. However, when it comes to the issues of police brutality and systematic racism, I can no longer be silent. If you allow me to show you a little bit of what it is like in my world maybe you can understand why I have to say something now.
The Color of my World
My world is white. For the most part, this world has been good to me. I have always lived in the suburbs. All of my schools have been predominately white. I currently work at an office where less than 10% of the over 250 employees are black. My current community and church are predominately white. My wife is white.
I have done everything I can to live up to the expectation of being a black man in a white world. It is a weight I carry every day. I have never done drugs or been arrested. I stay silent on controversial issues. I do not speak up on politics. I smile and nod even when what you are saying is ignorant and hurts my feelings.
But what am I supposed to do when that is not good enough? How am I supposed to respond when I have done everything you want me to do, but it is still not enough to be treated equally?
Enough to Be Suspicious
Police have stopped me and searched my car just for driving down the street. This has happened more than once. That is what happens when being black is also enough to be suspicious.
Recently, I was pulled over five minutes from where I live. I was only a couple of songs on the radio from the home where my two beautiful daughters and wife live with me. You may be wondering what I did to get pulled over. I’ll tell you – I waved.
A police officer saw me drive by his house. I waved when I drove by. After that, I turned around to head home. Then, from my rearview mirror, I saw him get in the police car parked in his driveway and follow me. I tried to wave. You know, be friendly when I first saw him. That was not good enough, and we all know why.
Eventually, he stopped me. He asked for my license. He read my address out loud. Then he questioned what I was doing in his neighborhood. Really? I live in the same small town as you. Actually, I was doing my job as a real estate agent. I was showing a home. So now I can be stopped from even doing my job – the thing that feeds my family because the face God gave me is suspicious to some.
Not There Yet
How am I supposed to tell my little girls they are safe in this world when I have tried to do everything I can to live by your rules, and it is not enough? How can you expect me to continue to experience this horrific pain from simply being black, and not at some point get angry?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr dreamed of a world where people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. If that is the standard of equality, I can tell you by experience, we are not there yet.
I have experienced the pain of hate by people who should love me, but do not, simply because of the color of my skin. Who I am was never given a chance. My skin color said all they needed to know before I was given a chance to speak for myself. How would you feel if this was your daily reality in America? Would you still say racism doesn’t exist?
Stop and Listen
The issue is real. George Floyd was just the latest tragedy. We are currently seeing an explosion of pain bottled up from as far back as Emmett Till.
I am not looking for an apology. You do not owe me anything because you are white and I am black. Please do not feel bad for being born white.
Here is something I would like you to do after hearing this from me. Please stop and listen to what people are saying. Let your guard down for one second. Acknowledgment is key. I personally believe the ultimate goal is to bring awareness. This is where the church needs to step in. I pray all these actions start real conversations that create real change. This is not a legislative thing. John Gray said it best “you can’t pass a law to change someone’s heart.”
Love and Hate
I am filled with both love and hate right now. I HATE what is going on in our nation. However, my phone has been blowing up from my white friends and family with real deal conversations. That part, I LOVE. I am hearing how people really do care. They want to know if they have missed the mark or have a blind spot. I have faith that God is working in our country like never before. If you have made it this far, I want you to know I am still the same Bryant you know and love. Please feel free to contact me anytime if you would like to discuss any issues. I love each and every one of you!
Bryant Turner Jr. is a former Canadian football defensive lineman. He made his professional debut with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2011. He played college football at UAB. You can follow him on social Instagram @blitz_turner.
Here is a great book by Benjamin Watson. It offers a Christ-centered perspective on the racial divide we are facing in our country.
How to Connect with Your Church Online During Social Distancing
Some churches are adjusting to holding services online for the first time now that social distancing guidelines are in place across the country. How can we help pastors live streaming for the first time avoid mistakes and interruptions to their broadcast? Here is a list of tips and insights to help make the transition smoother.
Avoid being kicked off of Facebook and Youtube by not playing copyrighted music in your pre-service buffer video.
For example: if you are playing Hillsong on your pre-service countdown video you can get kicked off for copyright infringement.
Live music is fine, but playing tracks could cause the music to be picked up as copyrighted.
Combine your efforts. If you do not have a permanent location or equipment team up with other churches that do.
Maybe one person has the equipment and the other has the permanent space. Or maybe you have team members that can do worship that will be used by all on the team-up. What a witness this could be for your community.
Encourage people to share the premier instead of hosting multiple watch parties for greater interaction.
“For greater interaction on Facebook live (both live or pre-recorded)… watch parties and multiple services actually hurt interactions. Doing just one 10am service allowed us to exceed all my expectations with interactions online. Watch parties took people away from the momentum of numbers in our primary group chat and viewers.” Contributed by Brad Hampton, Soco Church, Bentonville, AR.
“Designate someone to run and man the stream chat as there were questions and comments in real-time that needed to be addressed and or deleted.” Contributed by Michael Matthew, Eternal Rock Church, Houston TX
The benefits of pre-recording vs live streaming.
“Higher resolution on broadcasting prerecorded. Post-production editing. Adding text, videos, slides in post-production editing, for churches that are unable to steam that content in real-time. Broadcasting prerecorded overall decreases the room for error. We have the ability to live stream. But just pre-recorded last night for this weekend. And they’re going to pre-record for the next two or three weekends Starting tomorrow.” Contributed by John Pomeroy, New Anthem Church, Mount Clemens, MI
Free live streaming is available. Church Online Platform from Open Church (Life.Church and the Bible App) is totally free and will always be free. You can find out more here: https://churchonlineplatform.com.
“At Life.Church, one of our core values is irrational generosity. We’re committed to equipping the “capital C” Church in every way we can. That’s why the Church Online Platform is available completely free of charge. Our definition of “free” extends to support and updates, too. You’ll get personalized customer service, software upgrades, and new features for the life of the tool.”
Free tech to support any disruptions ministries may experience as part of Coronavirus. Please, let us know if your church could use the following by emailing CareTeam@ministrybrands.com.
90 days of free live streaming: Reach those who choose not to attend services and events, or in the case of cancellations, with Church Streaming. Our team is here to help new churches get set up and running ASAP.
Strategies for Church Planters Adjusting to COVID-19 and Social Distancing
What do you do if you are a church planter preparing for a launch day later in 2020 or 2021? The landscape is changing day-by-day right now. Things may look different a week or two weeks from now. Even so, I wanted to share some things that can help church planters move forward in a time where social distancing is the rule and there is a pandemic impacting people’s live like we have not seen in recent memory.
If you are a church planter here are 15 things you can do right now:
That the spread of this virus would be contained and that we will see a turnaround in the number of people being infected and dying from this disease.
For healthcare workers.
For wisdom for leaders.
For those impacted by the virus.
For people to place their trust in God.
Follow Community guidelines regarding social distancing. Educate yourself on what others are doing to implement these guidelines and learn from their messaging.
Have contingency plans for launch day. Have three timelines. For example:
Plan for your September Launch Day.
Have a backup plan to launch in October
What would it look like to launch at the beginning of November or in 2021?
Website – Make sure to have a landing page if not a recruiting website up as soon as possible.
Giving – Make giving easy by having online options available. Some platforms will offer free use of their giving platform for church planters for an introductory period.
Go online with your message now. Don’t wait for Launch Day or Sunday to start offering hope and prayer. Take advantage of social media platforms to offer messages of hope, pointing people to God, encouragement, and prayer.
Offer online prayer meetings.
Offer daily short encouragement.
Offer a listening ear. One of the greatest gifts we can give someone is the time to hear them out. FaceTime or call people and just check-in, ask questions, listen, and offer to pray with them.
Stay informed. Be in touch with what is happening in our nation, your state, and your local community. What guidelines are being given and what needs are being presented that can be prayed for?
Be Others Focused – Make everything you do and say is about the people you are serving and not about you and your church or your unique needs in this uncharted landscape of church planting.
Prepare the things now that don’t involve meeting with people or will take away from your time focusing on people once some of the meeting guidelines are lifted.
Look for the opportunities to serve that are being presented that may not be available if circumstances were different. Serving local business and medical professionals For example:
Offering free coffee in the drive-through at a local coffee shop to medical professionals.
Support for families at home with kids.
Stay connected to your church network and other ministry leaders for encouragement, resources, and new ideas to continue moving forward.
Broadcast – Learn how to use live streaming platforms for online presentations. For example:
I am not one that goes to the movies for my life lessons and principles. Even so, I couldn’t help but notice some incredible advice while watching Avengers: Endgame.
You won’t need to have seen the movie to catch the point of this powerful moment in the film. A minor spoiler is included though, so read on with caution.
Throughout the story, we see how the loss to Thanos affects each of the team members differently. Thor becomes depressed and racked with guilt. Then, while still cowering from being the man he was meant to be, as well as who his team needs him to be, he gets some advice from his mother that becomes a turning point for him:
“Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be… A measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.”
The only thing I would change about this would be to say it is how well we succeed at being who God made us to be. I wonder how many of us are running from that person, “who we are,” with the best intentions in one hand, and reasonable excuses in the other.
The reality is, we need more authentic leaders. We need you to be the real you, and not who you think others want you to be. It’s too easy to burn out and become discouraged trying to wear Saul’s Armor. There is also the bitterness that comes when we blame others for pressuring us to be something we weren’t designed to be. Sometimes this outside pressure even comes from a good place. It doesn’t mean it is best for us though. We have to have the courage to speak up.
Many of us keep striving for “who we were supposed to be” instead of who “God meant us to be” because we want to avoid failing at the thing that most reveals our authentic-self. Sometimes it’s easier to fail at something that doesn’t mean that much to us than it to risk failing at what we really want.
A life spent avoiding failure will eventually be one defined by it. Having courage doesn’t mean you are confident you will not fail, but that you are determined to get back up if you do.
I know what it is like to feel I don’t have permission from those around me to be who I am meant to be. I have been guilty of carrying the burden of who I think I am supposed to be for far too long as well.
That is why I like the motherly advice Thor received so much. And since I am being so cinematic with this post, I’ll go so far as to say it reminds me of what Elrond said to Aragorn in Lord of the Rings.
“Put aside the ranger. Become who you were born to be.”
Both are things we all need to hear from time-to-time. We need to be reminded to put aside the person who doesn’t want to be connected to anyone or tied down by responsibilities(Aragorn), as well as the person who is afraid to be the who they were meant to be because of past hurts, present expectations of others, or fear of future failure.
What did you think about Frigga’s advice to Thor? Did you think it was good or not? One of my friends said it was their least favorite parts in the movie. I would love to hear your thoughts!
If you are looking for some inspiration on becoming the best version of yourself, then I suggest taking a look at my book, Shipwrecked: A Journey to Discover Authentic Faith. In this allegorical short story, you will get a glimpse of the sometimes agonizing path between religious disappointment and discovering an authentic faith. Shipwrecked is about finding hope when you want to give up and taking the risk to follow your heart. It is an adventure filled with love, courage, and grace that will challenge you and encourage your faith. If you are not able to purchase a copy I would be happy to send you a digital version for free. Just make a request through the contact form on this site.
A mom’s post of her brave son speaking out against bullying has gone viral. More than 21 million people have watched the video of Keaton Jones weeping and is shaking as he describes the horror he faces at school in the midst of bullying. I admire his courage and strength. I appreciate the outpouring of support to him and his family. I am also left wondering what else can be done?
Here is the post from Everything Tennessee that I saw.
My first reaction is to be angry at the kids bullying him or maybe even the school for not doing more to protect him. As I thought about it more though I realized that Keaton represents many more people in various situations who face this kind of treatment everyday.
I hope Keaton continues to be rewarded for his bravery, but I hope things do not stop there. One of my favorite gestures is from Chris Evans, aka Captain America, who invited Keaton and his family out to the premiere of the Avengers movie in Los Angeles.
Stay strong, Keaton. Don’t let them make you turn cold. I promise it gets better. While those punks at your school are deciding what kind of people they want to be in this world, how would you and your mom like to come to the Avengers premiere in LA next year? https://t.co/s1QwCQ3toi
I hope the #StandwithKeaton movement continues to gain strength. I also hope it sheds light on the bigger picture of bullying. I hope others step up for their friends and stand up for those who can’t speak for themselves. I hope we realize that it is all of our responsibility, not just school administrators, to make sure children can learn in safe environments of mutual respect. I hope that we realize that bullying takes all kinds of forms throughout life and silence gives bullies more power than anything else.
So back to my original question. What else can be done? We can do more by breaking the silence and starting conversations. Ask your kids about bullying. You don’t have to know what to do. Just talk to them. Realize that in the case of children that a bully may be a victim themselves. Speak out against bullying of all kinds. No more college students need to die in pointless initiations. Harassment and abuse in all forms can be stopped when brave people speak up.
Some people wonder why victims in these situations don’t say something more often? Why do they sometimes wait so long to speak out? I have seen people react online by saying that kids just need to “toughen up” when bullied. I get why some would wonder that but that also misunderstands the conditions that create abuse, harassment, and bullying. These things happen when there is an imbalance of perceived power. Often times the victims feel powerless to defend themselves and hopeless that anyone else will help and can even feel the mistreatment is their fault.
What can you do? Support those who speak out. Speak out yourself. Don’t blame others. Find a way to take a small amount of responsibility in your own life for these types of situations.
I know this isn’t a normal blog for me. It is still kind of fresh and raw, but this video of Keaton hit me hard. Proud of you Keaton. And I am proud of anyone who finds the strength to stand up to the bullies in their lives. I pray you also find the peace and forgiveness that come through Christ.