4 Years Later. 1 Year Later. Jesus.

4 Years Later. 1 Year Later. Jesus.

Prepare yourself for the blender that has been my mind over the past week. The Lord has been so good. He has poured out so much grace. I wanted to share those things with you, but it is going to be like putting several different ingredients in a blender. I pray that the Spirit turns it on and mixes them up for you as He has done for me this week.

Four years ago | Ferguson

I read a Facebook post. I met Mike and Renee Higgins several years ago. Renee serves as a Precept Bible Study Leader at South City Bible Church in the heart of St. Louis. Two weeks ago, Renee was at Precept's campus in Chattanooga, Tennessee to go through Precept's Coach Training. Mike, her husband, is the pastor and also serves as one of the Deans at Covenant Theological Seminary. I didn't realize this until meeting them, but I spent a year in my undergrad alongside their daughters - Michelle and Mary. I read this post from Renee.


For those of you that are reading this in your blog feed or email, you probably won't be able to see the Facebook post and picture, so let me type it out for you. Renee shared one of those Facebook Memories, a post from last year from Jay Simmons, which included these words:

Hard to believe it was three years ago. I was preaching at South City Church that Sunday to a group of Godly saints who didn’t know what was about to happen all around them, but were made ready by the Holy Spirit. Michael Brown was killed on the streets not too far from our church the day before. And as we went home from worship that day we began to hear more about the tragedy on the radio. And within hours the whole city of St. Louis began to erupt. I’ve never been so aware of the world’s need for the Gospel on that Sabbath day. And never so proud of God’s people - in our little church - who responded and continue to respond with righteous love for the city we love. In that one day I learned more about the Gospel than ever before. And I’m so grateful for the Saints who taught me. Mike Higgins, Renee Higgins, Sean Loftin, Michelle Higgins, Phil Brownlee, and so many others. My life will never be the same after August 9, 2014. Thank you for leading this blind white dude through it.

I also saw the following post from Brother Mike:

mike higgins.JPG

Though I wasn't at South City Church that day. I remember sitting on my couch, how fitting, and discovering this crazy thing called Periscope. I was able to watch live feed from people that were at ground zero in Ferguson. I didn't know Pastor Mike at the time, but I can agree with Jay Simmons' statement - "Thank you for leading this blind white dude through it."  The Higgins family have done just that, they've faithfully led folks at South City, yes. However, they've led hundreds and thousands of Christians to wrestle. think, pray, and act because of Jesus. I wrote more about Mike's impact on my life after my first meeting with him here - Confessions of a Racist Heart.

Four years ago. So much has happened since then. Yet, so much has remained the same.

1 Year Later | Charlottesville

I was sitting in the auto body shop waiting room. I was watching the events of Charlottesville unfold on my phone, again through the power of in the moment live video reporting. I was shocked. Charlottesville was a town I frequented on the weekends while I was in college. Familiar sights. Unfamiliar hate. Yet, it was a hate that has lived under the surface. It shocked us all to see young, clean-cut men under the cover of night carrying torches in front of a statue of General Robert E. Lee. The next day, it was even more shocking to see the violence. 

This past week, countless Christians were praying for Charlottesville. Countless more people were thinking and hoping that violence didn't erupt again. The Nation was thinking about where we've come in a year. NBC News documented the story of two African American men who were seeking to understand, to get under the violence. Though Stone Ghosts in the South: America's Legacy of Heritage and Hate is a longer video, it is well worth your time to watch (included below).

The two men's journey led them to Montgomery, Alabama. Across from the statehouse, there is a newly erected memorial - The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. It harrowingly allows visitors to press into a dark part of our history as a nation. When asked about it, the director said, "People had been very intentional about denying that part of our history. This memorial is a very intentional response to our silence." 

During this past year since Charlottesville, I read a NY Times article about the opening of this memorial. I also had the opportunity to preach on Grace for Every Race at my church, Sojourn Chattanooga. I referenced both the article and memorial as I preached from Acts 10. You can read and listen to that here - Grace for Every Race.

Ferguson and Charlottesville - The Power of Change

Now, some may shy away from this topic.

Yes, it may seem  easier to just be silent.

As the director of the memorial said, "The memorial is a very intentional response to our silence." It isn't something that one can ignore as a child of God. Through leaning into the story, seeking to understand, we can allow the hope of Christ to inform and to heal. One more story from this past week.

The Exchange of Robes

What does it look like when a KKK member has the great exchange of Christ take place in his life? NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt beautifully depicted the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ this week. The transformation of Jesus, that Jesus changes everything, was on full display across televisions, tablets, and Facebook feeds this past week. Before I show it to you, let me show you what God's Word says about this very thing:

For he himself {Jesus} is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Ephesians 2:14-16

Check out this story of Jesus tearing down this wall through an African American pastor that shared the gospel with a KKK neo-Nazi that was at Charlottesville last year.

Friends, just like Jesus changed Paul, Jesus changed this man. Jesus changed the pastor, who could have trembled with fear or could have allowed bitterness to rise up against this man. However, the pastor and this family of faith have demonstrated to the world Ephesians 2:14-16. This man exchanged his KKK robes for the robes of righteousness in Christ. 

Jesus changes everything!

Special thanks to Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash for the cover photo.

A Pastor, Precept, and Philippians!

A Pastor, Precept, and Philippians!

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