Monthly Archives: April 2014

We’re Talking About Sterling For The Wrong Reason


It’s still there.  Racism is. It’s still in the NBA, the NFL, the MLB and even the NHL.  It’s still in the United States. It’s just less overt. And because it is less overt, it is harder to deal with. What Sterling said in the privacy of his home, with his mistress (why aren’t we talking about this?), offended me.  I think it offended most Americans.  Really smart people with battle out the implications of his ban from the NBA on racism in the country.  And I am not minimizing his racist remarks or actions, but…

I am more concerned with what we aren’t talking about.

From what I gather from all the news reports I’ve read and the ESPN coverage I watched, is that Donald Sterling, an incredibly powerful white racist, was telling his mistress (i.e. they’re not married) who she could and could not hang with, particularly at the games.  He didn’t want her bringing any black people to the games.

Let me break it down a little differently.  Old, powerful white man with lots of money wants to control the behavior of the young lady he sleeps with.  Let me say it a little more boldly:  sugar daddy with money seeks to control the actions of the woman who meets his physical needs.  That isn’t love.

Sexism and the abuse of power.

Why aren’t we talking about the fact that an 80 year old married man has a mistress who financially benefited from their arrangement?

Why aren’t we asking deeper questions about why an 80 year old man with a lot of money believes it is alright to try and control her behavior?

Sterlings racism has been publicly obvious for years.  It is offensive.  The double standard of his racism (his mistress is of mixed race – whatever that means) is offensive.  His sexism, however, has subtly gone unchecked.

Are we ignoring the implications of an 80 year old married man sitting court side with his lover who is less than half his age?  What signal does that communicate to the young ladies in our culture today? When watching the games on tv and they zoom in on the owner with his girlfriend, do we with our sons about why unfaithfulness in marriage isn’t something to be celebrated? Do we remind our daughters in that moment of how beautiful they are?

Are we ignoring the fact that he wants to control her interactions with others?  Are we ignoring the fact that in any other setting we would call that sexism and an abuse of power? What a great opportunity to have a conversation about how we can use the resources God has given us to bring restoration to our world rather than pursuing our never ending appetites.

All over the world there are men who are trying, and are too often successful, to control the behavior of women.  When the tapes of Sterling’s conversation became public, what struck me most wasn’t the racist remarks. It was the fact that he thought that because she was his mistress he should be in control of her behavior. 

I don’t want this for my daughter.  I don’t want this for my sons.

Why aren’t we talking about this?


Heaven Is For Real, that’s why i won’t see the movie

Abrasive Alert!  Let me say this right away up front, some of you will read this and won’t like it.  I’m ok with that; but I don’t know you are. Most of us want others to think the same way we do about things and then get a little perturbed when they don’t…  But don’t let that stop you – read on!

When the book Heaven is for Real came out several years ago, I had a discerning movement in the pit of my stomach.  I believe that is God’s gift to me when His Spirit is telling my spirit that something isn’t quite right.  It happens often enough that I have learned to pay attention to two things: what is happening in the world around me and what does Scripture have to say?

Around me in the world, especially in the world of evangelicalism, this book is receiving a lot of attention.  A young boy and his family are receiving a lot of attention! That thing that happens in my stomach was happening.  So I looked to Scripture.  

Interestingly, in the Bible, nobody goes to heaven, comes back, and tells about it.  What about Jesus, you ask?  Well, technically, Jesus came from the Father’s side in heaven and has now returned back to the Father’s side.  We are still waiting for his return, when the Kingdom will be fully manifested. Even Lazarus, after several days in the tomb, doesn’t have anything to say.  I have always wondered about that…

Jesus does tell a parable about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus in Luke 16.  The rich man dies and goes to hell and the beggar, Lazarus, goes to heaven near Abraham.  In the parable the rich man, in his hellish misery, begs Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his family.  The funny thing is this – in the parable Abraham is abundantly clear that even if Lazarus was to come back from the dead his family wouldn’t believe.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down? The is the question of the author of Proverbs 30:4. This question doesn’t get answered until John 3:13: No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man.  In Scripture there are only 4 accounts of visions of heaven.  Over the course of thousands of years – only four accounts recorded in the Bible.  Isaiah, Ezekial, Paul in 2 Corinthians, and John’s vision in Revelation.

In all four accounts recorded in Scripture, there is also only one common denominator – a complete preoccupation with the magnificent glory of God.  

The book, Heaven is for Real, was sitting around our house.  So I picked it up.  This was years after it had come out.  It is well written.  But, the book, it is focused on the boy’s experience.  He even describes not liking the wings he was given (didn’t know we were getting wings in resurrection – that would’ve freaked out the disciples when Jesus walked through the wall!).  The book is not biblical.  But we like it, and others, anyway.  Why?

In our North American evangelical sub-culture, we have an unhealthy pre-occupation with end-times, heaven and hell.  It’s become popular.  Actually, our whole North American culture has become very distracted by apocalyptic themes.  This is why zombies are now showing up everywhere in media. I believe we, as a culture, are profoundly dissatisfied with our lives.  So we cling to those things that talk about something, somewhere else, being better or worse than our own experiences.  This way we have something euphoric to look forward to, or we can say at least lives aren’t as bad as that!  We have forgotten that Jesus came from heaven to give us a life, a full life – a life of abundant purpose.  Jesus wants us to live exciting lives.  Here.  Now. You can read about that in John 10.

But, what isn’t popular, is actually reading the Bible, believing God (different than believing in God, btw), and working hard in partnership with the Spirit for the transformation of ourselves and our world.

Getting pumped as the Newsboys sing God’s Not Dead at the end of the movie with the same title or after seeing Heaven is for Real, doesn’t make for lasting change. In many ways we have become like those who kept asking Jesus, after his many miracles, for a sign.  Jesus had some interesting things to say about that in Matthew 12:38ff.  

I love going to movies, you could even call it a habit – err… I mean a hobby! But movies don’t transform. Deep change comes in our lives when we partner deeply with God’s Spirit in working out our salvation “with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12)  We have to do the hard work of discipleship.  As we slowly begin to grow up and mature in Christ, we slowly begin to live lives that reflect the image of Christ in us.  We begin to slowly make a significant impact where we live, work and play.