Humility and Race

In the last few months, I think we have all experienced new things. 2020 has been a tough year for most of us, if not all of us. First, with Covid-19 and now the racial tension that culminated with the brutal death of George Floyd. For this blog, I want to focus not on his death specifically, but instead on aftermath and response to his death.

 First of all, I must say that for the last couple of weeks I have been grieving. Perhaps not in the way you might think, but still grieving nonetheless. When I saw the video of the murder of George Floyd, I felt sick. In my gut, I could feel it was wrong. I could feel that it was an attack on the fact that he was made in the Image of God. I have grieved his death, but I have also grieved as a man who had no answers, and as someone who felt hopeless. Not long after these feelings, the protests started and then the riots. As a result, I saw many strong opinions from people on social media who were fighting with one another over who was right. I saw division and continue to see division like I never have in my lifetime. The division is heartbreaking, and I continue to lament the fact that our nation is so divided.  

 

Self Reflection

In the midst of this, I have found myself reflecting as well as praying that God would help me to know how to respond. I could stay silent and act like nothing is happening, but that did not seem right. I could blast other people for having a differing opinion than me, but I have never seen someone adopt my opinion simply because I told them how wrong they were. The only thing I could do was repent of my sin, evaluate the situation for myself, and speak to these issues theologically and from my own experience. 

As I reflected, I knew that killing anyone of any race was wrong. That was an easy one. People are created in the Image of God; therefore, every life is sacred. For anyone promoting the fact that all lives matter, I agree, and I think the vast majority of people would agree. However, I do not feel this is the point of contention for people who claim “black lives matter.” The point of contention is people who claim black lives matter believe that black lives do not matter (in the opinion of too many people), and they would like that to change. So much so that they are willing to protest and even riot.

Now, I want to be clear. I do not agree with rioting or violence. This is sinful, and it must be addressed as such. But when many of us see the rioting, we lose focus on the point of contention because we are against riots. When many of us see “black lives matter”, we lose focus on the point of contention because we believe “all lives matter.” This is what we must recognize if we are ever going to understand each other and stop talking past one another. 

 

Our Debating Flaws

For this reason, I want to address what I think are two major flaws in our debates:

1. The “you too” fallacy

2. The negative inference fallacy

 

The “You Too” Fallacy

The “you too” fallacy means that the point of contention is not addressed, but the one responding to the point of contention simply finds something wrong with the other side and addresses that instead. This takes the focus off the one having to defend their argument and instead shifts the focus back to the one making the criticism. 

For example, I may say to my son, “Your room is a mess! Can you clean it, please?” To which he would respond, “Your room is also a mess. How come you don’t have to clean yours?”  

In this example, my son does not address the issue at hand; he deflects and tells me I have the same problem. Now, I might have the same problem (and probably do!), but the point of contention (my son’s room is a mess) goes ignored because now the focus is shifted to my room instead. If the emphasis continues being deflected, the room never gets clean.  

I have seen a similar response from many people when they hear or see “black lives matter.” When people say that there is a racism problem in America, and black people are being treated differently by police as well as others, people might respond with “Yeah but how many black people have killed police officers?” or “how many black people have killed other black people?” or “Rioting is also killing innocent people”. We could pull statistics all day and see what the numbers are, but the truth of the matter is that when we respond with the “you too” fallacy, we fail to address the point of contention. If we do that, we will never understand each other, and our nation will never heal. In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” So if someone is hurting, hurt with them. If someone is grieving, grieve with them. Ask them why they feel the way they do. Enter in with them and feel deeply with them. Maybe you won’t agree with everything they say, but I bet you will have a better understanding of them after you do this. There is always a reason why someone feels and acts the way they do. Find out why and empathize with them as Christ has empathized with you.  

 

The Negative Inference Fallacy

This fallacy teaches that if proposition A is true, it must automatically mean that the opposite or opposing proposition (B) is not true. But that cannot be a true statement. Proposition A being true does not necessarily mean that Proposition B is false. For example, If I say that I love chocolate pie, it does not mean that I do not love pecan pie. I might not like pecan pie, but the fact that I love chocolate pie does not equal hate or dislike for pecan pie.

Similarly, if I say “black lives matter,” it does not automatically mean that white lives or all lives do not matter. It does mean, however, that people feel that black lives do not seem to matter as much as the lives of others, and change is needed.

So, in this case, I think a proper response to “black lives matter” is actually humility and seeking to understand why someone would say “black lives matter.”

 

Conclusion

I do not pretend to have all of the answers to this. The more answers I have, the more questions I seem to have. I do know that our background and experiences weigh heavily in determining our worldviews.

Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to have many black friends, teammates, co-workers, and mentors. I am honored to know them and call them my brothers and sisters. I want them to know that I stand with them and seek to listen more than I talk. Perhaps humility can lead to healing and change in this nation and throughout this world.  

 

In Christ,
Jeremy

 

        

 

   

 

 

 

My Top Family Devotionals For Kids

The Jesus Storybook Bible
Sally Lloyd Jones

I don’t think I will ever be able to recommend this book enough.  This book is so special because it shows how all of Scripture points to Jesus.  Many times in the lives of Christians, we see parts of the Scriptures as disconnected from other parts which is not how God wants us to see it.  He has woven together his story that fits perfectly together and points directly to Jesus as Lord and Savior. If you do not have this book, this is a perfect gift to give your kids for Christmas this year.  I recommend this book even for adults.  Click here for an adult friendly version.

 

Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God and Science
Louie Giglio

This is the book that I am sure my son, Jace, recommends the most.  This book shows how science displays the glory of God. It includes Scripture, interesting scientific findings, captivating artwork, hands-on activities, and closing prayers for each devotion.  This book truly displays how incredible and “indescribable” is our God.

The Big Picture Interactive Bible Stroybook
B&H Editorial Team 

You might think this just another version of The Jesus Storybook Bible, but it’s much more than that.  It is actually longer and more in depth. It is 321 pages long, packed with 83 stories from the Old Testament and 63 stories from the New Testament. What’s unique about this Bible is that you can download a free app that makes the stories jump off the page and come to life!  It also has a letter to parents at the beginning of the book that explains how the book works.  Furthermore, If your church uses Lifeway’s The Gospel Project curriculum for Kids, this is a great supplement for it. The most important thing about this book is that is has a “Christ Connection” at the end of each story that shows how each story points to Christ.

Have a toddler?  Try the toddler version.

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden
Kevin DeYoung

This book also shows that the overarching theme of the Scriptures is God’s plan to redeem his people from what was lost in the Garden of Eden.  It’s subtitle is self explanatory as the entire book hints that the Snake Crusher is coming to make things right again.   

A unique aspect of this book is that the author speaks of 2 significant themes.
1. Jesus is the second Adam. What Adam failed to do, Jesus did perfectly.
2. The “garden”.  The biblical story starts in a garden in Genesis 1 and ends in a garden in Revelation 22. As rebels, we were all removed from the garden and we all long to return.  The return to is only possible through the second Adam, Jesus Christ.

I hope you will consider buying one or two of these books for your children this Christmas!   I know they will be a blessing to the entire family.

If you have books that you recommend for children’s devotionals, please leave a comment.

You are loved in Christ,

Jeremy  

Is Christ Central in Your Home This Christmas?

Sometimes, as parents, we scratch our heads over how we can truly allow Jesus to be the central figure of Christmas. It seems strange to even say that because in reality, Jesus is the central figure of Christmas whether we acknowledge it or not. But I just wonder how many of our Christian homes truly allow him to be. I use the word “allow” because it’s not just going to happen. Jesus is not going to barge into your home and force himself to be central to your Christmas. If we are going to allow him to be central, we must not be passive, but proactive.

 

Why are we so passive?

I don’t think Christian parents are passive because they want to be passive. Nor do I think they are simply apathetic toward Jesus being central to Christmas in their homes. As Christians we are passionate about Jesus. We know he is the promised Messiah who came to save his people from their sin and reconcile them back to God. Without Jesus we would be hopeless! Everything we would ever need in our lives was lying in that manger on that first Christmas night. We know this! We give our very lives for this message we call the gospel.  So perhaps we are passive not because we are apathetic, but because we do not know how to be proactive.

 

How does Jesus become central?

So the question is, how do we take that passion for Jesus and use it allow Jesus to be the central figure of Christmas in our homes? Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers to this question but I do think there are some small things we can do that will take little work on our part.

My Merry Christmas

In a previous blog post I recommended a book called “My Merry Christmas” by Sally Lloyd Jones. In this very short, but meaningful children’s book, the author ties familiar Christmas symbols to the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus Christ. This is helpful because this actually allows Jesus to become central in your home this Christmas. I have said “central” many times in this blog and this is why: Many Christians have a list of priorities that read something like this:
1. Jesus
2. Family
3. Work

Although this looks good, this is not keeping Jesus central. Keeping Jesus central means he is number 1 in everything, not simply number 1 on a list of other priorities.  He is the priority! He is number 1 in our families, our jobs, our hobbies…etc. So when it comes to Christmas, it is no different. Many people keep Jesus first during Christmas, but have not yet allowed him to become central. For example, we may read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke before we open presents on Christmas morning. But then little is said of Jesus for the rest of the day.

 

Jesus in everything

When Jesus is central to our Christmas, we see Jesus in everything. Everything we do or open points us to Jesus. The lights on the tree point us to Jesus as the light of the world. The green Christmas tree is a symbol of life that points us to Jesus being the one who gives us true life. The food we eat gives us satisfaction but ultimately points to the one who ultimately satisfies our souls, Jesus Christ. The gifts under the tree point us to Jesus as our ultimate gift given to us because God loves us so much. All other gifts will get old and go into the garbage one day, but the gift God has given us in Jesus will last forever.

For more examples of how to point your kids to Jesus using Christmas symbols, please click the image below to purchase “My Merry Christmas.” You can download the Kindle version for only $3.03 and use it tonight!

 

 

Making it Practical

Is your home Christ-centered this Christmas?  Are there some small adjustments you can make in order to allow Jesus to be central to your Christmas?  Perhaps before you open presents this year you will remind everyone of the true gift of Jesus Christ. Maybe when you are around your Christmas tree or looking at Christmas lights, you will remind your children that the lights represent Jesus being the light and he empowers us to be his light in such a dark world. None of this takes prep time, it only takes a commitment to be faithful in pointing your kids to Jesus.

 

God will use you!

I can almost guarantee you this will be awkward at first, but I promise God will bless your faithfulness as parents and empower you to do this.  He is not reluctant to work through you. He wants your home to be Christ-centered more than you do! So step out in faith and watch God go to work.  Think of the conversations you can have with your kids. Think of the legacy you can pass down to them when they have kids of their own. More than that, think of the impact you will have on God’s Kingdom as you point them to their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christ(centered)mas!

 

Jeremy

 

5 Books That Have Impacted My Christian Walk

5 Books That Have Impacted My Christian Walk

I have been serving in ministry for 10 years.  Throughout that time there have been a number of books that have been incredibly valuable to me and have shaped my ministry beyond what I could tell you.  During these 10 years I have served in a number of christian traditions and theological stances that I think you will find evident in the books I have chosen.  That is, if you are a theology nerd.  The truth is, I haven’t quite figured everything out!  As a result, I continue to try to read a wide scope of authors who I believe fall within Christian orthodoxy. Regardless of your church background, I know these books will be a blessing to you.

1. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

As a young man in college, I was constantly finding myself in situations where I needed to defend my faith.  I remember hearing all kinds of things about Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity that made me question my faith.  In this book, Lee Strobel writes in plain language as he asks tough questions to some of the worlds most influential and well known scholars.  I’ll never forget the first time I read through the gruesome details of a Roman crucifixion, and the overwhelming evidence supporting the resurrection of Jesus.

2. The Soul Winner by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, writes a masterpiece for pastors in this book.  He stresses the importance of knowing how to “win souls” for Jesus and what it takes to do so. He shows his zeal and commitment to sharing the gospel to lost souls which cannot be done apart from holy living.

3. The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

This is quickly becoming a classic read for all Christians.  In this book, Tim Keller makes sound arguments with the skeptic in mind.  He answers tough questions such as “How could a good God allow suffering?”, “How can a loving God send people to hell?”.  He also speaks to objections to the Christian faith such as, “There can’t be just one true religion” and “You can’t take the Bible literally.”

4. Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby

This book is filled with jewels on every page.  I never understood how to hear from God until reading this book.  It is theologically sound as well as overwhelmingly practical. It teaches Christians how to listen to God and how to respond to him when he speaks.  If you are a Christian and you struggle with the reality of God actually speaking to you and being able to discern when it is his voice, this book will be a treasure to you as well.

5. The Way to Heaven: The Gospel According to John Wesley by Steve Harper

This selection shows my respect for genuine Wesleyans as well as the man John Wesley himself.  A few years ago, while employed by a Methodist church, I began to study John Wesley’s life and theology.  This was the first book of many that I read about him and I found it to be very helpful and inspiring.  I continue to find John Wesley’s story fascinating and strive to have the spiritual discipline of this man.  The book is written for everyday people.  So although it is theological, you are sure to understand what you are reading.  Even if you are not a Wesleyan, you can certainly benefit from this book.  

3 Ways to Help Disciple Your Kids

3 Ways to help you disciple your kids

As parents, sometimes it is difficult to know how to disciple our kids.  We try everything we can. We read Bible stories at night, we pray before meals, and we try to model for them what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. But sometimes we simply get bored doing the same things over and over.  Because of this, I want to offer a few ideas and resources that might be helpful in your journey of discipling your kids.

Tell them Bible stories

When I say “tell them” I do not mean “read them”.  My challenge to you is to be so familiar with Bible stories that you are able to tell them to your child.  As my son has grown up, I have told him several Bible stories from memory that he still asks me to tell him over and over again. 

When we tell Bible stories to our children there are a couple of things we can do that we would not be able to do if we were simply reading it.  

1.  We add a personal touch to the story.  When we tell stories, they connect much better than when we read them.  Have you ever heard a preacher read his entire sermon without looking up?  How much of it did you remember? Probably not much of it. But when a preacher looks at you and speaks, we are connected, we engage, and we remember much more.  

2.  We can tell them these stories wherever we go.  So even if you are driving in your car, you don’t have to read.  You don’t even have to turn on your radio.  You can simply tell them the story. This will take some work on your part, but it is totally worth it.

New City Catechism App

This is a free app designed to help children and adults learn the core Christian beliefs via 52 questions and answers.  What’s great for parents is this app has a children’s mode. In this mode, there are songs that go along with each question, as well as prayers and Scripture.  You can use this app at home, in the car, or at church. My only concern about the catechism is that parents will simply use the questions and songs without using the Scripture provided.  Do not let this happen.

Jesus Kids by Shai Linne  

Christian rap artist, Shai Linne released his first Children’s album this year.  It is filled with songs for kids that are all Christ-Centered.  This is a fun way to for you and your kids to learn Bible stories, how the Bible points to Jesus, and why Jesus loves children so much!  It even has 3 tracks of kids reciting the catechism. The song “Jesus Kids” brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it because it’s a great reminder of how much Jesus loves children and how much he wants to use them for his glory. 

I hope these suggestions will be helpful to you!  I am praying for you as you train your children to be more like Jesus every day.  Sometimes it is difficult, but it is such an honor to point our children to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our Savior, our very Life, Jesus Christ.  What an opportunity we have! Remember you are not alone, for He is with you each step of the way.

 

You are deeply loved by the Father in Christ Jesus,

 

Jeremy

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