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Archive for the ‘freedom’ Category

obama

How often in life do you get to know you are experiencing profound change in history.  Yesterday was that day.

I’ve been somewhat muted about the political landscape, offering who I was voting for and a profile on leadership but not much else.  I’m not enamored by politics as a mechanism for change in the traditional sense.  I’m not looking for the politics to change my world.  But yesterday was different.  And here’s why.

Yesterday was about freedom.  It was about releasing people from oppression that has been the legacy of this country for far too long.  When the United States was created more than two hundred years ago, the founders chose not to address the issue of slavery.  They didn’t want to take on too much too soon.  But over the history that choice has haunted us.  True change, which is always best expressed in releasing people from some form of oppression, has been slow in this area.  My own parents got to see the deep segregation and lynchings of the South.  That legacy has lingered.

Yesterday was not about ending all oppression. Obama will not be the end all to be all as President.  It was about planting the seed that cannot be removed.  This was a moment we can forever look to in the future and say, “It is possible.”  We as a nation have always led the world in this regard.  In retrospect, it was inevitable that we would be the first, first world power to do this.

Richard Dreyfuss was interviewed by Mike Huckabee and he captured what yesterday was about for me.  He said,

“There’s a curse that mankind has lived with for 12,000 years. And it’s known so well that nobody ever has to talk about it.  And the curse is that you and yours will never rise.  You are a serf and your children and your grandchildren will be serfs.  And my heal will always be on your neck.  Until America said, “Wait a minute.  If you can get here, if you can take the stuff that life throws at you, if you work hard, and are lucky, you might rise.”

Yesterday we saw a barrier broken that has never happened before.  For the first time we saw the hard ceiling of oppression that has followed the African American community, (and minorities in general) be broken.  The most powerful image for me last night was not Obama’s speech but the weeping of those in the crowd.  They knew that we were part of history.

Yesterday was about speaking deeply into the dignity of everyone who has ever felt stepped on and pushed down by “the man”.  It was and will be that moment in history that people will be able to look at and say, “Yes We Can.”  And like Richard said, it has always been what made our nation great.  Yesterday we reiterated that so loudly.  This is a large reason why I have chosen to stand behind Barack Obama.  I chose to side with healing and restoration as opposed to a single issue.

My hope for the next four years lies not in changed policy.  It lies in the possibility of new dreams and new opportunities that will suddenly be available simply because someone has now already tread that ground.  Roland Martin on CNN said last night for the first time he could look at his daughter and say, “Yes you can be President.”  That is a release from oppression.

Colin Powell had a great interview and said, (Obama) wanted to be a transformational figure and bridge the gap between generations.” I would also add that he will become a symbol for racial reconciliation.  I think it’s easy to forget that Barack is half white.  We miss that when we look at him.  He is the bridge to restoring our racial relationships because neither side can claim him exclusively as their own.  He’s both.  This bridge will help us come together.

And I know there are those who will say, “but politics is not the answer to our problems.”  And I agree with that statement.  Jesus was the first reformer.  But his mission was about restoring the dignity of human beings and restoring relationship.  Yesterday that happened. It just happened on the political stage.

There will also be those who say, “Obama is not the answer to our problems.”  I also agree with that statement.  But history happens through people.  It happens through our social construct.  And God works through humanity to fulfill His purposes.  My hope is that those who chose not to vote for Obama will begin to see the bigger picture of what this election accomplished from a restorative standpoint.

I appreciated Obama’s own words that started it all, and which became a symbol for unity. “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America.    There is not a black America, and a white America, and a latino America, and Asian America. There is the United States of America.”  That symbol of unity requires sacrifice and thinking outside of ourselves.  This call to responsibility, to work with Obama to create change has been what captured America.

Some have assumed Obama has captured everyone into some kind of spell. I would offer that this misses the larger response that happens in revolutions, which almost always happen at the grass roots level.  This was an election that allowed people to find the soul of what made America great.  We have always been about the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden.  We just expressed that in a very big way yesterday.

As a follower of Jesus I have chosen to participate in the end of any form of oppression.  I have chosen to follow in the footsteps of the man who actively identified and stood with the lowly, the poor, and the outsider.  Yesterday was one of those days when I got to cast my vote and say, “I stand with you.”

As a side note: Some guy created a font for Obama.  It’s quite interesting.  Check it out.

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Sometimes we need the space to be honest. I’ve said before, one of the real values of having people we can truly trust is the ability to be honest when we really, really need to.

John Mayer wrote on of my favorite songs.  It’s call “Say”.  My favorite line is the little bridge to the chorus

“If you could only…Say what you need to say.”

And as I was listening to the song today I had the thought of people speaking honestly to their pastors about their own journey of faith.  (Don’t ask me why.)  And so I thought I would ask, if you could say something to your pastor or some person in spiritual authority, and really say what you need to say, what would it be?

If you need to use Anonymous, that’s okay.

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A Sign Of Truth

In this age of turmoil, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a sign that let us know we were encountering truth. Something so distinct that it just has to be from the divine side of things. And I’m wondering (out loud) if perhaps there is.

I was walking my dog the other night and just sharing my heart with Papa.  And I kept thinking about all the times I’ve come to a realization about the Kingdom of God. The more I follow Jesus the more I realize that His kingdom is one that is entirely bent towards freedom and love in the context of responsibility.  The more that I choose to participate in what He’s doing the more I sense a tremendous freedom in my heart.  Things are aligned.

What struck me was how often these realizations seem like “common sense” the moment I encounter them.  The kingdom just seems to make sense once I’ve experienced it.  I’m getting use to the word “brilliant” as a adjective to describe it.  But I am also struck by the notion that these realizations didn’t appear common the moment before I encountered them.  They were hidden to me.

And on that walk I began to realize that truth resonates at a very deep level of the soul.  It feels right in a global kind of way.  And it’s fruit is release from oppression.  The Spirit seems to move in a way that frees me from some kind of blindness that keeps me locked in a form of self-perpetuated brokenness.  But the moment I encounter truth, I am freed from that oppression.

Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

So I’m wondering if the sign of truth is not that we have all of our belief systems in order, or that our logic passes muster with the intellectual elite, or that our doctrine is perfect, but that truth releases us to freedom. Truth releases us to be whole people.  It has a distinct feeling of lifting, of a weight being taken off, of permission to be.  Freedom releases us from the past to be real people in the present.  It restores our dignity so we can restore those around us.  That was the feeling I encountered on my walk.  And it was good.

FYI: This post was inspired by a post from Monachus Bellator.  Check him out.

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The Lie Of Stuff

The more I follow Jesus, the more I begin to really see the wisdom in leaving the “stuff” behind.  What if the lie of stuff is that it leads to a subtle form of oppression?

There’s just something about getting stuff that just makes us immediately feel better.  We’re taught to buy stuff because for some reason the act of purchasing something releases endorphins that make us feel good.  I have actually caught myself buying something stupid and then the moment I walked out the door asking, “Why did I buy this?”  This is the subtle trap in our consumeristic world. It feels good to buy even what we don’t need.

When I bought my house there was an amazing feeling to being an owner.  In some ways I had taken part in the American dream.  I could now say I wanted a certain color on the walls and I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission.  And then after about six months I began to feel the weight of something called a mortgage.  I was now beholden to paying for this “dream” for the next thirty years.  It really made me ask if this was really a dream or somehow a twisted trick.  This dream was now requiring me to make a certain amount of money every month in order to pay for it.

And then something strange happened.  The American dream changed in mid-flight.  Someone invented the term “upward mobility.”  My house that was so cool was now supposed to be just a stepping stone to a better house.  But I liked my house.  I thought…  Why do I have to move?  But I did.  And as much as we try there is this expectation to keep up and have the next best thing.  We see the really cool things that we could have, the ones that come in the mail on a regular basis, the ones our friends have and are loving.  We are consumers.  It’s what we do.

But now I’m beginning to ask a different question.  What’s the real cost of my stuff?

When I buy something, say a new car, I get to enjoy the wonderful feeling that comes from owning something new.  There’s something about a new car smell, the look on your friends faces when they see you driving it, and the joy of not having to worry about it breaking down.  There’s also the fact that I can take care of certain concerns and needs when I have a car.  The idea is good…in principle.

But then what is the cost of that stuff.  First I have to pay for that stuff.  This in some cases a natural order of things.  Stuff has to be bought.  It’s not free.  But I often can’t afford to actually buy that stuff so I purchase it on credit, which means in the case of my house I will actually pay twice as much for the pleasure of taking part in the American dream.

I then began to realize that the stuff I buy has to have a place to be stored.  I need a new shelf, another closet, and a bigger garage. I have Christmas stuff, and Easter stuff and sports stuff, and linen stuff, all taking space in my house that is an American dream.  In some cases I actually have to park my car outside the garage because I have too much stuff, or not enough space, depending on how you look at it.

Stuff also needs other stuff to go with it.  It needs it’s friends.  The duvet needs a better bed.   The shoes needs a different shirt.  That couch could never go with that carpet. And my house needs a different backyard.  Who cares if I can’t afford it?  I’ve got a 725 credit score to take care of that problem.

Stuff also has a way of hanging out when we don’t really need it.  It needs to be put up in the attic because we somehow think we’ll need it…some day.  So we set it next to the stuff that we bought twenty years ago, that we thought we would need…someday.  And all of this stuff has a way of piling up, filling the spaces in our closets.  Yes it has memories and potential but that’s for…someday, when we’ll use it.

Looking at it now I think I get what Jesus was saying when he said, “Sell all that you have.”  The more we buy the more we have to manage and take care. And what once was something to serve us becomes something to serve on a regular basis. And that is not a life I really want to live.

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My Rub With Freedom

What if I’m afraid of my freedom?  This is a question I asked myself some time ago.

The story in the Bible is humanity moving from freedom to bondage and back to freedom again.  The first part was easy and unfortunately had a deeply profound affects on us.  We’re born into a bondage and oppression, not of our own making.  In fact, the story reveals that we seek out oppression and bondage as a way of living.  We’re broken.

And to follow in the footsteps of Jesus calls us back to freedom. As I’ve said before, this is a staggering concept.  But true freedom is only possible by stepping out of my own prison.  It is only possible with maturity and growing up. The door is open but I have to walk out of my cell.

Jesus transformed culture by fulfilling the law, thus releasing us from it.  Paul spoke volumes about that freedom when he said,

“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. (1 Cor 10:23)

Every morning when I wake up I am faced with the possibility of doing anything.  And nothing will separate me from the love of God if I do.  This is a wild concept, one that I hold strikes directly at what happened in the Garden.  My actions don’t define His love for me.

So then what do my actions do?  They produce consequences.  And as Paul says, some of the consequences harm me.  And when Jesus said come follow me, he was asking me if I wanted to participate with him in my own restoration.  This is a provocative question.  Because if I follow it means giving up my own bullshit.  It means giving up my own excuses as a victim or my anger as a perpetrator.  It calls me to discover a new way of living, a Jesus way that responds in love.

Freedom means growing up.  And the reality is that it is just easier for me to remain a child.  As a child I get to whine and complain.  I get to rant and scream when things aren’t right.  And I don’t really have to participate in creating something new because, hey, I’m not old enough right?

It took me 25 years to come to the same conclusion Josh Garrels speaks in his song Freedom, when he says:

“we shine like lights
exposing what lies underneath decomposing
unearthed old chains that are rusted
oh my God, is that what I trusted in?
that sin, that tom-foolery?
what it is is mental jewelry
that I adorned myself with
The enemy’s gifts, the man-made myths,
the ignorant bliss of marijuana splifs and alcoholic fifths
and I got really sick and tired of it”

The reality is that its just easier to live the lie.  It’s just easier not to remain tired but not sick of it, to not participate.  When someone harms me, its just easier to run or strike back. To step into love means leaving punitive justice by the wayside and instead seek restorative justice, one that seeks the dignity of the person over what they have done.  And I love this when its applied to me, but its a rub when I am called to apply it to others. Freedom brings a fear of living an entirely new way, one that calls me to suffer on behalf of other people, which then restores me. Who said following Jesus was easy.

This post is inspired by Josh’s song Freedom.

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Martin had a dream. (ht) Dreams inspire.  They lead us forward, not backwards.  They give us courage, not despair.  They give us vision, not blindness.  They give us a picture of a better future, not a torn reflection of what has always been.

In college I had the profound pleasure to study Martin’s life.  His oratory skills were his first gift.  But his prophetic imagination, his ability to inspire people to dream and see a future outside of oppression and subjugation was what made him an icon.

Here’s an excerpt:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

What’s your?

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A couple of weeks ago, my sons “graduated” from kindergarten. I know.  But it was fun being there and I took all kinds of pictures. What can I say. I’m just like that. And as my son was being praised by his teacher I noticed the four little signs above him.  I took the picture above.

The sign in red say, “We respect the rights of others.”

The sign in yellow says, “It’s intelligent to ask for help.”

The sign in blue says, “We are free to make mistakes.”

The sign in green says, “It takes courage to take a risk.”

And when I read them something inside of me said, “What would happen if we hung those in our local church?” Respect for others, asking for help, freedom to make mistakes, and my favorite, the courage to take a risk. I love it. And something in me also wondered if someone would take them down. Yet these were likely fundamental to the early church.

What would happen if you hung those signs in your church on Sunday?

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