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Complete.

What a simple word. Two syllables, and yet the sum is greater than the parts. What does it mean to be complete? How do we know when we ourselves are complete? We strive for it. We look to everything we can to bring completion. We look to significant others. We look to family. We hope and dream of completion.

It never comes in those, does it?

Completion cannot be found within ourselves, nor in the material world. True completion, true peace is found in a being and power outside of ourselves. Our existence. Our conscience. Our ideals. Our humanity is tied to the one we run after. Christ finds us and beckons us.

In the moments when life isn’t complete, when the reality of a broken, unfair, and horrendous world bears down, he stands. Arms open wide. Like children, he calls us to grab hold. He completes what we cannot. He fills the cracks, the chasms, the gaping holes that this world makes.

His love covers us. His peace sustains us. His mercy, so joyous, is new everyday. To those hurting and to those in prosperous seasons he calls you the same – come, follow me, life abundant is waiting. Old and young, sick and well – he is here. He longs for you to chase him. Your heart does the same.

E.

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Ok, moment of honesty here – prophetic worship music is hard for me to get into.  Singing and praying something over not only me but other people knowing that it’s not true in that moment is hard for me to buy into.  There’s a song called “The Healing is Here” and it’s a prophetic song.  The bridge says –

Sickness can’t stay any longer
Your perfect love is casting out fear.
You are the God of all power
And it is Your will that my life is healed.

Whether you buy into that last line fully, there is a powerful prophesy in it. There is a healing that comes. There’s always a healing, it just may not be how we envision it. I struggle with this. Being brutally honest – I struggle with the idea that anyone can actually be healed. I buy the lie that cancer is bigger than us. That AIDS is bigger than us. That leukemia is bigger than us. And not only that it’s bigger than us, but that it’s bigger than our God.

Shame on me.

How can I allow the curses of this world, the pains, the hurts, the brokenness of this world to reign over me? I’m like the Israelites seeing the power of Jehovah displayed in his full power then worrying about the manna. I don’t understand how all of this works. I don’t understand
why some are ‘healed’ according to man’s standard and why some aren’t. I know that the separation of life and death hurts. I know that in those moments we need more than a kind word. That sometimes the pain hurts too much. That sometimes the chasm is too wide. And in those moments we have two options – fear/anger or love. One leads to further pain. One leads to hope.

There are few men that have impacted me more than Hank Murphy. I don’t know if he ever knew that. His strength, his hope in the midst of cancer, was and is beyond anything I’ve seen. The hope he had did not come from within him. It came from outside of him, in a powerful way that only the Spirit can move. There are very few weeks that go by that I don’t think of Hank and his love for everyone up until the end. He showed grace and peace and love and every fruit of the Spirit one can show. His life was well lived. His life was impactful in spite of the pain. To quote him, he was “blessed and highly favored.”

So I have much to learn. I have to learn that just because something is not true in the moment doesn’t mean I cannot pray that it become true. Faith of a mustard seed. Faith of a child. Mountains moving. Lives changing. Hope marching on.

Til the end.

On the anniversary of this historic day, I have nothing to add. Dr. King’s words are still beautifully powerful today.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check that has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end but a beginning. Those who hoped that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today my friends — so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

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.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi — from every mountainside.

Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring — when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children — black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics — will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

 

 

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/08/27/transcript-martin-luther-king-jr-have-dream-speech/#ixzz2dGbS2YTO

Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.

I’m late to the party – I’m quoting a U2 lyrics that’s now seven or eight years old, but man if it didn’t wreck me this morning. I’m an American, a Texan, a white male, a Christian. The total blessed package. I’ve never wanted for food. I’ve never wanted for shelter. I’ve never wanted for clothing.

The things I’ve always wanted for are things that I don’t need.

This is all of us though, right? If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably not homeless on the street, and this is why the song brought me to tears. There are an estimated 143 to 210 MILLION orphans in the world and everyday 5,760 MORE children become orphans. Let that settle in for a moment. This is just orphans. This does not include the millions and billions born into extreme poverty. The millions and billions that will never be given the same chance you and I have.

What’s worse is that in our own country, in our neighborhoods are children and families suffering. Children born to illegal immigrants, children born to teenage mothers. There is pain, there is suffering here in America. This isn’t just the plight of Africa, or India. This is plight of all mankind. This is the plight of a country that feeds on its young through commercialism. We cannot sit, I cannot sit, and watch the world turn its back on people because of how they look or where they’re born.

We are not beholden to who we were and we cannot hold people to who they were. Christ demands love through all. Christ demands we treat all as we want to be treated. We must take hold of the underprivileged. This is not politics. This is not socialism. This is doing the gospel. This is the gospel – that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Christ saw us as his own, as people in need of redemption. So why do we find it so hard to offer the same to those around us?

Why am I more concerned with my cracked cell phone screen than the hurting kids at my son’s elementary school? We’re all guilty of wrapping ourselves in the American flag and ideals that say – more is better, more is good. We cannot allow this perverse thought to permeate how we live and affect our souls. We must view people as Christ. We must do more for each other or we lose ourselves in the end.

This week is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and I cannot help but think Dr. Martin Luther King understood this aspect of the gospel. He knew that just because he was a black man in the South did not mean he deserved the treatment given to him by the government and fellow men. The Million Man March was a clear and beautiful picture of people demanding equality for all, not the few, not the privileged, all.. This same hope, this same power must translate to all of us so that we give a voice to all. A hope to all. A life to all.

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What is America?

During political seasons we hear talk of the “real” America. You can turn on 24 hour news channels and find stories about the “real” America. So what is it?

People want to argue that this is the greatest country on earth. Fine. Go ahead. I think about how divided we are. How the words liberal or conservative are dirty words to people. Or I think about our economy’s issues, or our healthcare, education, deficit, etc. How we all think that our version of how America should be is the best version.

You and I won’t agree on how this country should be. Nor what makes it a good country. Nor what laws should be or should not be in place. But we can agree on this –

America, “real” America is found in the cemeteries containing our servicemen throughout the world. That’s where the hopes and dreams of America lie. Where the young lives of our men and women were extinguished fighting on behalf of their country.

Is every war easily answerable and explained? No. I’ll never grasp the reality of war. I’ll never grasp the mindset of the 18 year old on the way to Hanoi. I will say that as long as citizens put their lives on the line for our country, America will continue to exist. You can look back on the 20th century and find darkness everywhere. America was involved in countless wars – Spanish American, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Gulf War. Each can be argued a thousand different ways, each can be made just or in-just. But the one thing remains throughout – the heart of the serviceman/woman remains strong. The choice to lay down their own hopes and dreams for a time or perhaps forever was and is continually made. For this there is no thanks strong enough from the average citizen.

Today is the 69th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Not every person on the beach that day knew why they were there. They only knew the country called and they responded. This idea, this hope is what keeps America moving forward despite our differences. Eighteen-year old boys off the farm for the first time cut down seconds after hitting the water. Desperate cries for mothers, fathers, family made. The anguish of so many families was made real that day, on both sides. The Germans themselves nearly lost a generation during 1939-1945. No one alive then was untouched by that day. June 6th is a watershed moment in our history. A moment when you can argue “good” overcame “evil.” With that said though – war is ugly, war is never “good.” War only tears apart. But in the fire of war, countries are forged. Look at the middle east in the past two years. The oppressed are shaking off constraints, and it’s messy, but freedom is being found. This is the same thing in 1944. This is where America is found.

The blood of our young, laid down in sacrifice for millions in the future. This is America

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