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Please don’t ignore it. Five ways that Christians and churches must engage Ferguson and Michael Brown’s death.

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I have so much emotions and thoughts in my mind, heart, and body – in light of the oh-so-much that is going on all around the world – including the utterly tragic, brutal, and unnecessary “death” of Michael Brown.

But I thought it would be helpful to share a few thoughts how churches, Christians, and leaders can be engaging the events of this past week in their respective churches – not just for this weekend but for the future. I’m not suggesting that pastors have to completely alter their sermons but to altogether ignore the injustice of Michael Brown’s death would be altogether foolish.

To be blunt and I say this respectfully,

The integrity of the church is at stake because when it’s all said and done, it’s not a race issue for me, it’s a Gospel issue. It’s a Kingdom issue. We shouldn’t even let isolated issues in themselves hijack the purpose of the church. The Gospel of Christ is so extraordinary that it begins to inform (and we pray, transform) all aspects of our lives. So, in other words, we talk about race and racism because we believe in the Gospel

So, here are five suggestions for Christians, leaders, and churches:

1. Don’t ignore.

Silence, it itself, is a statement.

In some cases, it may be a powerful expression of wisdom but this is not that case. To say nothing, to pray nothing…is to communicate that it’s not a big deal. To say nothing, to pray nothing…is to tell your congregants – especially your black congregants and others of color, “C’mon. You’re taking this too seriously. Suck it up. Let’s just worship Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.”

Continue reading “Please don’t ignore it. Five ways that Christians and churches must engage Ferguson and Michael Brown’s death.”

Never stop learning. Go deep. Be deep. Have more depth than 140 characters.

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There are many beautiful aspects of our larger culture … and then they are broken things. There are also things that are incredibly encouraging and of course, disconcerting.

One of my concerns in our larger culture – including the Church:

We’re
lacking
d  e  p  t  h  .

In my first book – Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World? (set to release on September 1 but available for pre-order now),  there’s a chapter entitled, “Have More Depth than 140 Characters.”

I am the first to tell you that I don’t know everything about everything. But when it comes to my core pursuits, my passions, the issues that inspire me and drive me to serve, I try to learn as much as I can.

Over the past few years, I have met many people who are not only interested in serving the world in various ways but who are engaged in their convictions and passions. But I am often surprised to find out that they do not know the basic history and background of their chosen interest.

I remember one time in particular, at a conference, when a woman came up to me and told me she was very grateful and appreciative of a talk I had just given. We chitchatted, and eventually I asked her what she did as her vocation.

She said she worked at an NGO, serving the poor in Central America. We were having a polite conversation. She asked for advice, and I tried my best to encourage her in our short conversation. As I shared one of my favorite quotes from Óscar Romero, I asked her if she had read much of his works or about him.

“Aspire not to have more but to be more.” – Óscar Romero

She had this blank look on her face.

“No, I haven’t met him yet, but I’d love to. Can you connect me? How can I contact him?” Continue reading “Never stop learning. Go deep. Be deep. Have more depth than 140 characters.”

Remember that our lives matter. Remember to be more human – to loved ones, neighbors, and strangers alike.

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It feels awkward and even a bit inappropriate to be talking about ‘celebrity news’ when so much is going on around the world: Iraq, refugees in Syria, children stranded at borders, Michael Brown’s death and Ferguson, Ebola, Ukraine, and the list tragically goes on.

But then again, it feels appropriate because it’s another reminder of the fragility of our humanity.

By now, most of you know that Robin Williams past away today (August 11). His life ended way too short at the young age of 63 – apparently because of suicide. While this was news to me, Robin had been struggling with intense depression – especially as of late.

To be honest, I don’t get caught up too much on celebrity happenings mainly because there’s not much genuine connection. I don’t really know them personally. Make sense? Robin Williams’ death – on the other hand – just felt like a painful punch in the gut. Perhaps, it’s because Mork and Mindy (Nano Nano) was the first TV show I watched (along with Buck Rodgers) after immigrating to the United States. I deeply resonated with Mork – this ‘alien’ or ‘foreigner’ from another land trying to fit in. Continue reading “Remember that our lives matter. Remember to be more human – to loved ones, neighbors, and strangers alike.”

I covet your prayers for wisdom, for humility, and for courage to boldly preach the whole Gospel.

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First, let me dispense with some information for those that may be interested.

God’s been gracious in allowing me to visit a few churches and events over the next six weeks as part of a mini book tour for Overrated. Folks can pre-order the book now at your favorite online store and at stores on September 1 but if you’re anywhere around these cities, please be my guest. It’ll be a joy to meet you and to encourage one another in Christ:

August 10 – New Life Fellowship, NYC (Queens)
August 17 – Overlake Church 9am/11am
August 31 – Antioch Church (Bend, Oregon)
September 7 – Engedi Church, (Holland, MI)
September 13-14 – Ecclesia Church (Houston, TX)
September 19 – Collyde Conference (Rockaway, NJ)
September 21 – Metro Church (Englewood/Fort Lee, NJ)
September 28 – The Meeting House (Toronto) *
*still discussing content

Some of you may know but I’m currently on a three month sabbatical. I so deeply appreciate my church, my congregation, my leadership, and my fellow staff – for allowing me to take this time to rest, retreat, and in the middle of this, to prepare for the release of my first book, Overrated.

Since the launch of my sabbatical (since July 1), I’ve been retreating, hiking, resting, fishing, disconnecting and spending much time with trees. It’s been refreshing to say the least. This is also good because I’ll need to do a little juggling as the book releases on September 1 and I’ll soon be traveling (just on weekends) to visit some churches to share the message that I feel God has placed upon my heart in authoring this book.

As a first time publisher, this is all new to me. And I suspect that – by God’s grace – as I write future books, this will always feel a little strange to me.

Which is why I’d really appreciate your prayers. Continue reading “I covet your prayers for wisdom, for humility, and for courage to boldly preach the whole Gospel.”

We have to see justice as part of discipleship and ultimately…our worship of God.

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Over the years, I’ve been given by some the mini-reputation as a leader in the field of justice. At first, I took it as a compliment and  of course, I still do because I care a lot about justice. I know that people mean well. But I care about justice not  just for the sake of justice. I care about justice…because I care much about the Gospel.

And sometimes, when I hear folks talk about justice in the church, I cringe…

I cringe because if we’re not careful, we’re again compartmentalizing justice rather than seeing it as part of the whole Gospel; We need to see justice as a critical part of God’s character and thus, our discipleship and worship.

Just like we shouldn’t extract the character of “love” or “grace” or “holiness” from God’s character, such must be the case with justice.

People often ask me, “What’s the most critical part about seeking justice.”

My answer:

We must not just seek justice but live justly. Justice work and just living are part of our discipleship. Justice contributes to our worship of God. Justice is worship.
Continue reading “We have to see justice as part of discipleship and ultimately…our worship of God.”

Great news: I’ve finished writing my first book, “OVERRATED”. Here’s the official cover and what it’s about.

Well, I have some exciting news to share with you all.

My first book, Overrated, is done. Manuscripts. Revisions. Edits. Rewrites. Edits. Copyedits. More edits. Copyedits. Then I thought I was finished. And then I wasn’t. More edits. Copyedits.

And ready or not, finally…the book is finished. The book is at the printers right now.

So, here’s some info about the book: Continue reading “Great news: I’ve finished writing my first book, “OVERRATED”. Here’s the official cover and what it’s about.”