What the Covington kids taught me

If Jesus were preaching the Beatitudes today I have a hunch he might change it up a bit, adding,

Blessed are those without social media, for they shall be pure in heart.

Unless you are so blessed, you no doubt have been privy to the viral uproar around a group of high school kids from Covington Catholic School who seemingly taunted a Native American.    This picture was all over my Facebook feed Saturday and Sunday:

Image result for covington catholic kid

I’m ashamed to admit that my gut reaction upon seeing this, along with the few minutes of video clip first shared by so many on social media, was one of anger and disgust.  Truthfully, I wanted to punch the smirk off of this young man’s face.   Reading the comments of many of my friends, it seems I wasn’t alone.

It was, I suppose, easy to get caught up in the hype around the story.   It did, after all, confirm (or uncover) certain biases I have towards a whole host of people based solely on whom they voted for President.   And if you are wearing a MAGA hat?   Well then, you get no mercy or consideration.   This news story did an excellent job at revealing my own prejudices.

Ironically, as the social media mob gained steam decrying the prejudice we perceived these white kids expressed towards Native Americans, I was guilty of my own prejudice against anyone wearing a MAGA hat.   I couldn’t see anything but red.

As more and more of the story was revealed, along with longer video clips and statements from those involved, it would appear that the above picture does not tell the whole story.   If you haven’t read it, I invite you to read the statement of Nick Sandmann, the boy in the picture above:  Nick Sandmann’s Statement.

I’m not writing this post, however, to convince you that any particular party to this event is innocent or guilty.   Instead, I’m writing to confess what this event revealed in my own heart, which I would argue is every bit as bad if not worse than whatever wrongs I imagine were committed by a group of strangers to me.

The brother of Jesus wrote this:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19)

As this story was getting shared and commented upon on my news feed, I got angry quickly.   It is only because I heard a sermon on this text just last week that I paused and decided against sharing the story myself.   However, that did not stop me from reading every juicy thing I could find about it and allow my heart to be carried away with anger and judgment.    James goes on to say that “human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires” (1:20).   The Spirit reminded me that God does not want me swimming in a tidal wave of judgment and anger but to instead be merciful (Matt. 9:13).    Not only that, but even if I perceive someone in a MAGA hat as my enemy, am I not called to love them?  Jesus’ words are worth reading again, as they are quite clear:

44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5).

At the end of the day, I have no idea what is in the heart of Nick Sandmann or Nathan Phillips or any of those in attendance at that rally.   I only know what is in my heart and I didn’t like what I saw this weekend.

  • I learned that I can easily be swept up in a mob mentality when something confirms a bias I already hold.
  • I learned that I can be quick to judge and too quickly become angry.
  • I learned that I hold prejudices in my heart that are as wrong and sinful as those of the racists and bigots I condemn.
  • I learned that I have a long way to go to be perfected in love of God and neighbor.
  • I learned that I do not always extend to others the mercy and grace God has so freely lavished upon me, while I was yet his enemy.

When the religious rulers brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus and asked him what should be done, they were right about their law.   But when Jesus revealed what was in each of their hearts, and showed mercy to the adulteress, he revealed that God’s arm of love and mercy is longer than the arm of truth or law.   Whatever the truth may be in this latest news cycle story, it should never trump the rule of love and mercy.

Perhaps, if John 8:1-11 were written today, it might happen differently, replacing the woman caught in adultery with a 17 year old boy wearing a MAGA hat.

“Chad,” Jesus gently whispers to me, “if you are without sin, go ahead and cast the first stone.”

 

 

Advertisements

Calling all men

This is an email I am sending out to men I know locally.   I’m sharing it here in case I don’t have your email and you are a local reader.   Or, perhaps you are a guy seeking some of these same sort of connections where you live.  I’ll be praying that this might stir something in each of us and we would run with it wherever the Lord leads…

 

“Which of your friends will you name as the pallbearers at your funeral?”

I was asked this question the other day by a friend of mine who leads a group of men in a weekly bible study they call a “Fire Team.” When he first heard it asked to a group of men at his church he could only think of two who might fit the bill of people he would want to eulogize him. It prompted him to step out in faith and start a weekly study of God’s Word with men he didn’t really know at the start but over the last few years these are now men who would run into any fire for him, and he for them.

I was reading a book this week called “Man Alive,” and the author asked this question: How many men know your children’s names? Granted I have 5, and I sometimes forget their names myself, but this question stopped me in my tracks. I can think of maybe 3 men who know my kid’s names. And what about the number of men who I know are praying for my kids? Or praying that I be a wise father to them? Or whom I can ask for guidance on how to lead them spiritually? Less than 3.

I want to change this. I want to be known by a group of guys and they be known by me. I want to know that they are praying for my wife and my kids on a daily basis, that they are with me in the every day battles of temptation that I face and they celebrate my victories. I want to be that for them, too.

I want to be reawakened to the power of God found on the pages of scripture and be held accountable to the truths found there. I want to be with men eager to grow in their faith. I want to be sharpened by you, as you are by me. I want to explore the deeper things of life which truly feed our souls as opposed to living on the surface of sports, news and weather.

I want to have no shortage of men who will one day stand up at my funeral and say that their life has been impacted for the better because they knew me, and most importantly, that they are closer to Jesus because we walked this road together. I want to stand up at your funeral and say the same.

If you are still reading this and want this too, I hope you’ll respond. I want to initiate a weekly time of getting together for an hour to an hour and a half where we seek to be disciples of Christ through the study of Scripture, sharing our stories, praying for each other and sharpening one another as iron sharpens iron.

If that sounds like something you want, respond to this email (cjwh74@gmail.com) and begin praying with me that God would prepare each of us for this journey. We will work out the details soon.

Grace and peace,
Chad

Broken, Surrendered and Holy

I just finished reading this excellent trilogy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.   If you are needing a reminder about the simplicity of the gospel and it’s promise to transform a person from the inside out and make us new again, you’ll want to read this book.    T

 

Image may contain: text

These words – brokenness, surrender, holiness – have been the words pressing in on me these last few weeks.    The enemy wants us to forget or even deny that there is power to be found in the blood of Christ.   But the truth is we are not saved to be slaves to our sin but to be freed from every trapping it has on us.   As DeMoss writes,

Jesus didn’t shed his blood so that you and I can have a passport to happiness and Heaven, while continuing to indulge our lust, anger, and jealousy; our addictions and critical, competitive spirits; our selfishness and pride.  His death provides the motivation and the power to say no to sin and yes to holiness in every area of our lives.

Do you believe that today?  I have been praying daily for fresh eyes and a broken heart to be able to see my sin as God sees it and the desire to live by His power to overcome.   God doesn’t want you and I to live mediocre lives where we just barely get through the day unscathed or labor under habitual sins that sap us spiritual vitality.   Jesus said he came to give us life and life abundantly.  He can and will deliver on that promise if we will allow ourselves to be broken, surrender our will and our lives to him, and seek after holiness in heart and life.

Grace and peace.

Words of life

When it comes to Scripture, I find myself relating to it in one of four ways:

1. Avoiding it because I’m not ready or willing to change.
2. Ignoring it because I think I know it already
3. Reading it for the purpose of learning something in order to teach others.
4. Devouring it because I’m hungry for God and desperate to change my heart and renew my mind.
scripture

I have spent time in each of these camps over the last year but happily find myself spending more time in #4 as of late and I’m seeing the difference that makes in my life.

It is my experience that nothing compares to opening up the words of scripture and trusting that these words are true and are there for the purpose of restoring what has been broken, healing what is wounded, and making new that which has faded or died.

When people were walking away from Jesus to trust in other pursuits or ways of doing life, Jesus asked those around him if they were going to leave as well.  Peter responded with,

Where can we go?  You have the words that give life.”   (John 6:68)

I echo Peter.  I confess that I often wander off the path and think that life can be found in other places.   But these words of God always call me back home, ready to mend whatever is broken in me.

Where would you put yourself in the 4 camps I mentioned above?   I continue to pray each day that I would have a deeper, renewed hunger for the words of God that give me, and you, life.

grace and peace.

The Mercy Prayer

I’ve been praying this prayer a lot this new year. If you have never practiced the Mercy Prayer, I invite you to do so.

Desire Mercy

I have touched on this prayer before in a post about putting on Christ but felt it deserved some attention of it’s own (I would recommend checking out the series that link will take you to if you are struggling with self-gratification).    The Mercy Prayer is a prayer I learned while at Pure Life, developed and taught by Rex Andrews.   This prayer, I believe, was one of the biggest contributing factors to the freedom I have experienced.   Why?  Because it helps to transform one’s mind from one of being consumed with self to one that is consumed with the thoughts of God – and God’s thoughts towards others are driven by mercy (see Hosea 6:6 and Matt. 9:13).   God’s will for you and I is mercy.

What is mercy?  Rex Andrews defines it as the following:

MERCY is God’s supply system for every need everywhere. Mercy is that…

View original post 682 more words

How Psalm 119 Saved My Life (and can do the same for you)

Reposting this from years ago as I begin going through Psalm 119 once more this year. It has done so much for me in years past and I believe it will again. If you need a plan to read this new year, join me in this.

Desire Mercy

To those who desire to distance themselves from a life of bondage to habitual sin, who cannot seem to muster up enough faith to make it through the day (let alone move a mountain), and/or have lost or never had an abiding love for God’s word nor the discipline of reading it much and often, I offer the following discipline which, by the grace and power of God, helped to save my life (and can do the same for you, too).

My counselor at Pure Life gave me an exercise to do which I thought very little of at first.   He told me to read a portion of Psalm 119 every night for the entire time I was there (7 months).   Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible.  It is broken down into 22 stanzas, each one a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.   My task was to read…

View original post 559 more words

Resolution Wisdom

This is still good advice, I think. Blessings to you and yours this new year!

Desire Mercy

The text for my sermon yesterday was James 3:13-18, which is about seeking wisdom that comes from above rather than the wisdom of this world.  The wisdom of this world is full of “selfish ambition,” James says.   What could be more true of our resolutions for a new year? Are they not motivated by selfish ambition? This might be why so many resolutions fizzle out after just a few weeks.   When our motives are selfish, when we choose resolutions based on what seems right to us versus what God calls us to do, we disconnect ourselves from the power of God available to assist us in our weakness.  So how can we make wise, godly resolutions? Below are seven things I encouraged my church to consider as they go about making any resolutions, this week or any time.

newyear

Resolution Wisdom

 “For physical training is of some value, but…

View original post 850 more words

Learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' ~ Jesus