Changing the World, Travel Adventures

Under Our Skin Forum | A Recap

Last week I was in Tampa, FL (who quickly reminded me that I’m cool without humidity) for the Under Our Skin Forum. Based off of Benjamin Watson’s book of the same name and put on by Tyndale (excellent job friends!), it was a night with big names, but all together for a bigger purpose. As you can imagine, it’s a hard topic, but everyone shared openly and honestly and what an encouraging night.

I left the night filled with hope. These past weeks (months really) have grieved my soul, but while it won’t be an easy road and battle, our hope is in Jesus and His power to change lives. And that gives me hope. To keep fighting for justice and to keep shinning light in the darkness.

The Church, this is our time. We can make an impact on culture and show the way unity looks. We don’t have to pick sides and corners, as Benjamin pointed out, we can be in the middle. We can live in the tension of both sides. Things don’t have to be either/or in what grieves us, what we support, etc. We can support things on each side. More importantly, it needs to be that way.

There were so many excellent points, wisdom and thoughts shared. I’m thankful for Twitter, so I could stalk what other people posted since I didn’t take notes. Here’s a few quotes:

“In so many ways it seems like the American Church has slowly white-washed the Gospel. Case in point, you’d be hard-pressed to find a nativity scene around Christmas where Mary isn’t a Caucasian woman with silky brown hair. There are going to be an incredible number of Jesus-worshipping, faith-filled individuals who are going to be SHOCKED when they step into the Kingdom of Heaven and realize the man seated at the right hand of God the Father is a homeless middle eastern refugee. The one we worship is a man of color. The Gospel is a rich narrative of color, race, social class, ages, and demographics invited into the same story and redeemed fully at the same cross. Our commissioning is to bring Heaven to Earth in our time here, and we can’t effectively do that if we don’t understand that Heaven is a deeply colorful, language-saturated, diverse and beautiful place where we all stand before the same King as equal creatures made in His image and unified in His grace.” Mo Isom

“If one member suffers, every single members suffers…we see our country right now, we see the pain going on, whether that’s particular demographic, a particular place. If you wake up with a splitting headache or if you’ve ever slammed your finger in a door, the first thing your body does, your physical body, is it rallies to that point of pain. It doesn’t pontificate, it doesn’t rationalize, it doesn’t say, I’m waiting for more facts. It simply says, I’m going to respond. When we weep with those who weep, I think that’s a sign of a highly functioning body. We’re spending too much time rationalizing. It’s Jesus weeping at the tomb.” Ben Sciacca

“Lord help me chose the harder right, not the easier wrong.” West Point Cadet Prayer

“The game plan for racism is in Bible- James 2:14. We need to break the huddle and run the play.” James Brown

“Just do what the Lord says to do, it’s simple, but it’s not always easy.” Tony Dungy

“Christ in you can destroy both the myth of superiority & the myth of inferiority.” Benjamin Watson

There’s so much more and the video is available to watch, if you want to find out more. Just go here.

Also, here’s a list of the panel, if you want to follow them.
Benjamin Watson
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
James Brown
Website | Facebook | Twitter
J. Kevin Butcher
WebsiteTwitter
Tony Dungy
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Charlie Strong
Warrick Dunn
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Mo Isom
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Ben Sciacca
Website | Twitter
Danny Wuerffel
Website | Twitter | Instagram
Sage Steele (Moderator)
Twitter | Instagram

Coach!

With Benjamin Watson (and yes, I’m still sad he doesn’t play for the Saints)
If y’all don’t know Mo Isom, change that quickly!
Unity is possible internet! Warrick Dunn played for the Falcons (and Bucs) and is part owner of the Falcons. Did I mention my loyalties lie with the Saints? OF COURSE I DID. 🙂
Changing the World

Why I Won’t Remain Silent About Racial Reconciliation

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Benjamin Franklin

I believe we are called, as believers, to reach out and fight for the marginalized and against injustice. Not only from around the world, but also those in our own society and culture. I know it can be touchy, it makes many defensive and is a hard topic, but we absolutely need to continue to educate ourselves on these topics and examine our hearts and continue to be the voice (and peace) of Jesus. When we stay silent, I believe we lose some of our witness and miss out on seeing God work in incredible ways.

It will come as no surprise that I’ve been burdened by what is happening in America right now. It’s a dark time for many people.

A couple months back there was a video that went viral and I decided to post it on Facebook (when it’s something closely connected to political views, I always pray before posting. It’s far too easy to post in anger and I don’t ever want to do that). It’s disturbing for lots of reasons, including this one quote that received a standing ovation and the Nazi salute: “America was, until this past generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance and it belongs to us.” (You can see the full video here), but I was surprised by some of the reactions. Instead of denouncing the video (which most people did), there was the “well this has been around forever, so…” as if that was enough reason not to call it out and stand against it. There were also comments that I was spreading hate by posting the video. I was genuinely confused as to how calling out hate was instead inciting hate.

Another recent news story was that of the hung jury from the Walter Scott Case. The trial for the officer who was caught on tape shooting an unarmed man running away ended in a hung jury. Sometimes I don’t even have the words, so I’ll steal them from this article written by Steven Hale of the Washington Post.

“Still, this case had video footage of a police officer calmly raising his gun, carefully taking aim and firing multiple rounds into the back of a fleeing, unarmed man and then handcuffing him as he lay on the ground. Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager claimed that he was in “total fear” during a struggle between the two men and that Scott had grabbed his Taser. But he was captured on video placing his Taser next to Scott’s lifeless body after the shooting.

One must wonder: What detail could be added to make Slager look more guilty of Scott’s murder — or at the very least, of manslaughter, an option that was available to the jury?”

My parents were in town visiting for Thanksgiving and we had many conversations about this (We also watched 13th, which I highly recommend). I asked my Dad about his experiences when he was in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s and how did he not lose hope? (He had to sit in the back of the bus, use “Colored Only” entrances and all the things you hear about. This isn’t something from the distant past. This is my Dad, only one generation before me). As MLK Jr. once said, it’s not the blatant racists who impede progress of moving forward, but instead those who are indifferent. My Dad shared about continuing to fight for what’s right and now that he is a Christian, also praying for the hearts of people and justice. It’s both.

I do not understand the justification, the brush off and the complete denial that our racial history doesn’t have deep impacts on our society today. I don’t get a lot of things about this, but most especially the silence. If we’re not talking about it in a loving manner, then the opposite side is only going to get louder. (Also, please read Just Mercy. Please.)

“Love is the motive, but justice is the instrument.” Reinhold Niebuhr

But as always, the Lord is good and He gave me a word.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

God doesn’t ask us to sit back and be silent about the things that matter. He did not make me timid (I don’t have to rely on my own strength. Yes and amen. “He makes us strong, brave, and unafraid”*) He gave me power (The Greek word dunamis means “miraculous power, might, strength”*), He gave me self-discipline (so I don’t become a loud unhelpful voice) and most importantly He gave me love, which covers all things.

And that is what I’ll continue to move forward in. The Gospel is true and God promises His Word won’t return empty, so I hold onto that and keep on fighting for justice. As Walter Brueggemann once said, Justice is “the re-ordering of social life and social power so that the weak may live a life of dignity, security, and well-being.”

Ann Voskamp (in a podcast with Jamie Ivey that y’all should definitely listen to it here) said something that stuck with me as she was talking about the Church and her new book, The Broken Way. She said that “we are the Esther generation.” An oh how we are – we are called for such a time as this. To care for the orphans, the widows, the refugee, our brothers and sisters who fear for their lives.

We can and need to be the light in this darkness.

“And [God] has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:19‬

“We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’ll end with this:

*From Liz Curtis Higgs’ 31 Verses To Write On Your Heart, page 43.

Book Reviews

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin | Book Review

“If a white man became a Negro in the Deep South, what adjustments would he have to make? What is it like to experience discrimination based on skin color, something over which one has no control?”

So began the journey of John Howard Griffin and story in what would become a classic in America non fiction and racial history. Griffin served in the Air Corps, studied in France (where he helped smuggle Austrian Jews to safety) and was blinded for 10 years from a war accident at which time he started writing and would soon take on this life altering project. Such a life and such a story.

In the Deep South of the 1950s, journalist John Howard Griffin decided to cross the color line. Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a Southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man. His audacious, still chillingly relevant eyewitness history is a work about race and humanity-that in this new millennium still has something important to say to every American.

Where to start with this book? We’ll go with the writing – it’s incredible. He keeps you captivated and so many sentences or insights were beautifully written and profound. He cuts straight to the reader’s heart and soul. You’ll go through all of your emotions with this book. There are so many insightful quotes that I thought about including, but I vote you read the book instead. So much of what he observed can (sadly) be applied today.

“Surely in America a whole segment of decent souls could not stand by and allow such massive crimes to be committed.” – John Howard Griffin

You know those times you read about some period in history and it leaves you completely dumbfounded and speechless? There were many times I felt that way while reading this book – reading stories (ones I’ve read so many times before) of such pure hatred for no other reason than the color of one’s skin. What in the living heck humanity? I simply cannot comprehend that person’s heart or soul.

His honesty throughout the pages is profound. He doesn’t hold back his feelings. He is vulnerable and that is what makes the book the classic that it is. Here’s one of his thoughts:

“The laughter had to be gross or it would turn to sobs, and to sob would be to realize, and to realize would be to despair. So the noise poured forth like a jazzed-up figure, louder and louder to cover the whisper in every man’s soul. “You are black. You are condemned.”

This was made into a movie in the 1964, but I think it’s time for a remake. We still need to hear and see these stories.

Some of the people he encountered were amazing too. Like the old man preacher he met first in Mobile. He understood loving the enemy. “When we stop loving them, that’s when they win.”

I cannot say enough how vital and important this book still is. I’ve read this before, yet reading it a decade later is still so impactful. If you only read one nonfiction book this year, may this one be it.

“Where racism is practiced, it damages the whole community, not just the victim group.”

Is there a book that has recently rocked your world? I’d love to hear about it!

Where to Buy: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads