I am starting a private group to read and discuss Jemar Tisby’s newest book, “How to Fight Racism.” The purpose of this group is to provide a safe place for people who are committed to fighting racial injustice with other like-minded individuals. This is not a group for people who have it all figured out. Many of you, like me, are often weighed down with a sense of, “What can I possibly do?” and, “What next?” This book will help us work through these questions to move toward concrete actions we can take together.

Here are a few logistics of the group:

  1. This group is not affiliated with my church. All are welcome, regardless of your faith beliefs or background. While Jemar Tisby writes as a Christian, the book is not only for Christians. In Jemar’s words, he draws on universally applicable principles such as dignity, love, and justice. This is a group for those who can be sensitive to varying beliefs among group members.
  2. I will facilitate questions every week, but I will not be producing much, if any, content for the group. The goal is discussion, not simply to absorb information.
  3. The purpose of this group is not to discuss/debate whether systemic racism exists or to what extent it exists, but concrete actions to take to address systemic racism. If you’re looking for a group to address the former, this may not be the group for you.
  4. The group will be a combination of a private Facebook group and 2-3 Zoom meetings. These groups/meetings are by invite only, and you must submit an application to me with the questions below.
  5. The group will begin on January 18th and run for 10 weeks, with one chapter per week. This gives you enough time to order the book now and possibly get a head start on reading it! Questions will be posted in the Facebook group each Monday for you to discuss with one another. The Zoom meetings will take place 2 or 3 times throughout the 10 weeks.

If you’re interested, please send me a message by Messenger/Email with a short (2-3 sentences) answer to these questions. You can also apply to the group directly here.

  1. Why do you want to join this group? What do you hope to get out of it?
  2. Can you realistically commit to reading one chapter per week and participating in the Facebook or Zoom discussions?
  3. Have you changed your mind in any way in the last few years about racial injustice? How so?
  4. Do you think systemic racism is a real problem in our country? Why or why not?

A few weeks ago, I met up with a friend to catch up and discuss some things on his heart which he wanted to share with me. After sharing how each of us were coping with the unique challenges of COVID and quarantine, my friend said that he wanted to share some encouragement with me. I was deeply moved by his willingness to do so. In fact, one of the things that I’ve appreciated most about this friend is how concrete and specific he has often been when giving encouragement. He does not give vague “Thank you” or “You did great” handouts. In this instance, he highlighted some specific elements of my ministry he benefited from and told me how much he greatly appreciated them. He took the time to specifically and intentionally strengthen my soul with his words, and for that I was grateful.

However, after his encouragement he transitioned to a new topic with this sentence: “I have some other things I need to share with you, and I suspect you won’t be as pleased hearing what I have to say next.” He proceeded to give some very specific critical feedback of my ministry he believed he had observed as a pattern in me. Now I’ll be honest – it didn’t matter how much he had just encouraged me, of course it still stung to receive this critical feedback! Yet I received it in love, and I felt no urge to defend myself or protest his criticism. Why? Because I knew he loved me, and he had proven it over a two-year relationship that was filled with constant, specific encouragements.

Scripture is packed with exhortations for Christians to be regularly filling one another with encouragement. There are many examples in the book of Acts which should be instructive for us. One such example can be found in Acts 14, where we read that Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. There, they “strengthened the souls of the disciples, and encouraged them to continue in their faith.” I love this language used to describe encouragement: it strengthens the souls of others. What a wonderful image that conveys the importance of encouragement for Christians. Our desire to strengthen the souls of one another ought to be very great! Continue Reading

Can you recall a time in your life where you were compelled toward someone or something in a deep, perhaps even unexplainable or inescapable way? Maybe you’ve made a life decision about a job, or a house, or a move, and it was a choice that was motivated from somewhere deep inside of you, a choice where in that moment you knew it wasn’t really a choice because you were so compelled toward this decision that it was impossible for you to do otherwise.

Maybe that’s how you felt, and have felt, about a spouse, or loved one. Maybe it’s how you’ve felt about a child. Maybe you can recall a time seeing someone in need and you felt so drawn to help that you were willing to go to the end of your own resources to aid them.

I trust and I hope that each of us can recall such a moment in our lives, although I’m sure we could admit such moments are rarer than we would like.

I had one such moment myself the other night. It has been our recent practice to leave the light on in our sons’ bedroom at night so our oldest can read until he falls asleep. When I went in to turn out the light, I was overtaken with a sense of awe as I watched my boys sleep. I stood and watched them sleeping for a few minutes. I knew from deep down in my gut that I would do anything for them.

Such moments in my life are characterized by a magnetic force from deep down inside of me that drew me toward a person or action in a way I could not resist.

This is the level of compassion which is characteristic of our Lord. However, unlike our fleeting desires and convictions, the deep well of Christ’s compassion never runs dry. Continue Reading

The earliest Christians were known for their deep, sacrificial compassion toward all people. Is this what Christians in the US are known for today?

We must be careful when drawing application from the early church (first few centuries after the death of Christ) not to romanticize them. They were not perfect, nor are we. But if you study early church history, one thing seems clear: they were known for their overwhelming compassion for all people. Despite every trial and persecution that came their way, they were known for showing deep compassion to everyone in their city. Continue Reading