Archive for the ‘power’ Category

If you want to know how Chicago got to be the way it is, these are two books you must read:

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Now and then a book comes along that might in time touch the public and educate social commentators, policymakers, and politicians about a glaring wrong that we have been living with that we also somehow don’t know how to face. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander is such a work”
The New York Review of Books

Family Properties by Beryl Satter

“How the struggle over race and real estate transformed Chicago and urban America.”

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This is a great website for those who want to know more about the gang lifestyle and how to resist it as an individual and as a community. The site is based in the Washington DC/Virginia area but has links that are valuable to those confronted by the gang culture nationwide. For more information go to :

http://hidtagangs.org/

This site will also allow you to get a free download of Henry Pachero’s book  Gangs 101: Understanding the Culture of Youth Violence. Here is the link:

http://hidtagangs.org/Downloads/Prevention/Gangs%20101%20-%20Understanding%20the%20Culture%20of%20Youth%20Violence.pdf

Need Power?

Posted: June 7, 2011 in Getting Out, power

Hey Gs-

I’ve talked to a lot of  guys who say that can’t change, can’t quit drugs, can’t quit the gang, can’t get a job, and can’t change the many ills existing around them. They say that they don’t have the power to do it.  They’ve tried and just can’t do it. Well, they’re partially right. They can’t do those things own their own because they don’t have the power. They’re trying to change things all right, but that’s the problem.  THEY’RE trying to change things and they are right, none of them have the power to do that on their own. Well, you might ask, if  we  don’t have the power, why even try. And better yet, who does have the power? Where does power to change come from? Does it even exist?  So, I’ll tell you, straight up that the Bible tells us where that power can be found. In Romans 8:11 the Apostle Paul assures us that, as Christians, we should understand that the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in you once you give your life to Christ. So, visualize, if you can, being in that cold dark empty tomb when,  all of a sudden, the darkness is emblazoned with a light and energy that injects life back into the body of Jesus and brings him back to life, not just as some weakened version of  a man he had  swooned and crawled haltingly out of the tomb, but of  a powerful conquering individual who strode from the tomb as if to lay claim to his patrimony, a saviour whose appearance was so commanding that he convinced the disciples and all who saw him, that he was, indeed, risen in power and the conqueror of death.  It was so convincing that they themselves became bold witnesses of the resurrection and all but one (John) went on to be killed for what they saw in the resurrected Jesus. That astounding turn of events was accomplished by the Spirit of God. That Spirit is the source of all power in the universe and the Spirit that God says will  “give life” to our own mortal bodies. That same Spirit is in you if you are a believer and that same Spirit is more than able to help YOU overcome any needs, addictions, or problems you may face. Can anyone out there testify to this?

When I was a kid we learned this little poem in Sunday School that was accented by hand movements.  One’s hands would be locked together with the interlocked fingers facing the speaker and the two index fingers pushed together pointing skyward like a church steeple. The poem goes:

Here’s the church,

this is the steeple;

open the doors

and see all the people!

As we said the last verse we would fling open our hands and wiggle all the fingers, a representation of all the lively people in the church. Cute, but i’m not sure just how lively the church is these days.

I just came home from driving through the South Side of Chicago this evening.  It was only 8:30 and the streets were filled with Gs, everywhere.  A perfectly refreshing night to be out and about. The sights, however, were not so perfect. The police were rousting out a big group of Gs  (maybe Blue Fin Black Disciples, but I couldn’t be sure) gathered at the southeastern corner of Washington Park. A little further on there was a fist fight going on between two 9-10 year old kids with 30 people egging them on. There were prostitutes on one corner and guys slinging drugs on the other. Oh, and there were lots of people who appeared to have already had too much to drink. Everywhere I looked there were people who were headed into eternity without Christ. I tried to do my thing but it was so little and so weak in contrast to the forces gathering out in the streets for the summer. It all seemed a little surreal and I wasn’t quite sure why I was feeling so sad.  Then, I passed a group of guys gathered in front of a church and it struck me.  Where’s all the people, the church people, that is!!!

I started looking past the gathering crowds and what I saw astounded me. Every block had a church building or two safely ensconced on the block, but they were all closed and not a light to be seen.  How ironic, I thought, that if Christians are the light of the world and the local church is the hope of the world, that each church was dark as the night, and whatever hope the building might claim to possess on Sunday was locked away for the night, just when those in the hood needed it most. How sad it seemed that in nearly every case, there were groups of men and women gathering in front of those churches who were without Christ and without hope. I guess they knew that after the Sunday services,  the church took Monday off. maybe the rest of the week too. Sin could sit at the doorstep of the church without even being challenged.

What struck me was that Christians are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but they were nowhere to be seen. What I saw, however, were the hands and feet of another, a more sinister and demanding master who was sending his cohorts out to enlist even more people to his cause. And everywhere, he was unchallenged! How can that be with Christians inhabiting every one of those blocks. How can it be with buildings everywhere that are dedicated to taking the Gospel (i.e. Good News) to the lost? I’m not trying to be overly critical and I am speaking to myself just as much as I am to all of you, but its time to open the doors of those buildings and start a procession of people going both in and out. There should be people going in who have questions about God and problems He can solve. There should be people going out to proclaim that there is a place where Gs can go to find real life and that there is a person who can give them  a living water that will refresh them and give them hope for the future. That living water will not dry up nor will it run out. If tonight seemed like a perfectly refreshing night, think what it will be like for that G who finds God because someone brought him that living water.

Let me close by saying that the pastors of my church have begun a series of messages where the theme is to “Go Outside,” sort of like the old Nike theme, “Just Do It.” That’s what we all need to do. Go outside, each day of the week, all summer long, and address those kids sitting on your steps with love, hope, and the gospel of  Jesus Christ. What if every church in every Chicago neighborhood found a way to turn the lights of their churches on at night and have people sitting on the steps of their church with a smile, a handshake, and maybe some fresh apple pie. What if every church in every neighborhood took up the challenge to Go Outside for these kids each day of  the summer. One need not go farther than the block your church was built on. In doing that, you’ll probably cross paths with Christians on the next block doing the same thing as you are. Link arms, love each other and pray for the kids you’ve both gone outside to help. Then let the Holy Spirit do his thing and watch what God does this summer. Just “Go Outside” and watch God work. Who knows what stories that will spawned, what ministries will be born, and what lives will be changed…forever. Well, God knows, so when it happens, write to us here at Crossfire. Let us know the miracles you see so that God’s work in one neighborhood will inspire His people in another neighborhood. Just “Go outside.” God will do the rest. Then, maybe some of you will write back something like:

We opened the church.

We turned on the light.

We went outside 

and God lit up the night.

You’ll probably do better with the verse, so don’t hesitate to outdo me on that! In the meantime,

JUST GO OUTSIDE!

David Wilkerson impacted the life of Nicky Cruz and the gangs of New York, but he did much more, all because he was obedient to God’s whisper. If you want to change the world for the better, you might want to read this story about David Wilkerson’s journey of faith:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/aprilweb-only/rememberingdavidwilkerson.html

Dismanling Racism by Joseph Barndt, Author.  Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Books, 1991.Here is a book about racism in America, written “for white people and about white people . . . by a white person.”Joseph Barndt, defining racism as “prejudice plus power,” asserts that efforts against racism have often been incorrectly focused on minority populations rather than the majority. “The cause of racism is in the white society. The effects are felt in the communities of color,” he writes. Rather than attempting to soften the effects, we need to attack the cause.

The book examines individual, institutional, and cultural racism, and includes a section on racism and the church—with particular attention to the European American traditions inherited by white congregations, which Barndt refers to provocatively as a contemporary “circumcision crowd.” The author asks congregations to incorporate multicultural aspects in its worship before the congregation becomes multicultural and to work to achieve a pluralistic, not racist, witness to the world.

and consider that…

 “At the center of the Christian faith is the reminder that the time is
always right to do the right thing,” Turner said. “The church can and must
provide moral leadership that helps move the world’s nations into people of
transformation. The church has the capacity to transform itself to be an
agent of change, but this only happens when the church is engaged in the
struggle for justice.”

                                                                                                            -Rev. Otis Turner, 1996

 

As many of you know, the first week in march is traditionally known among the Latin Kings as King Week. Its a time of celebrating the power, history, and lore of the ALKQN.  As I was thinking about this and talking to people I know in the Kings, I was reminded that the real author of power,  as well as  of freedom and basic human rights, is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. It’s to him that ALL power is given, that ALL respect is due. That’s because he took “the great violation” for all gangbangers when he was nailed to the Cross. When gangbangers talk about power, that talk contains only a small hint of what real power is all about. Let me give you a description of what real power looks like. In two passages of the Bible we get a description of God handing over power to his Son Jesus Christ, the one who will return to collect his own and to judge the rest of the world.

In the Old Testament we find the Prophet Daniel giving us this description of power being handed to Christ (Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14):
9″As I looked, thrones were set in place,  and the Ancient of Days took his seat.  His clothing was as white as snow;  the hair of his head was white like wool.  His throne was flaming with fire,  and its wheels were all ablaze.  A river of fire was flowing,  coming out from before him.  Thousands upon thousands attended him;  ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.  The court was seated,  and the books were opened.

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

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A similar portrayal of Christ is found in the New Testament (I Thessalonians 4: 16-17):

 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.

In both cases, we see Jesus as a coming king, the ruler of all things and the judge of all men. This is all made possible because Jesus was “violated,” not for what he did, but for what you did. Because he was blameless and took that “violation” for you, God has made him the sovereign king of all creation and the final judge of all men.  It doesn’t matter if you are ALKQN, NAACP, WASP, all of us must answer to Christ for the life we lived and ultimately answer the question, “How did you respond to my Son’s invitation to open your heart to My eternal plan of forgiveness?” For those who can respond that they accepted the grace of God, repented of their sins, and followed Christ, there is eternal life with the one who saved us from our sins. If our trust is in the nacion, the country, the President, or some organization, then we will have failed to put our trust in the right place and the cost is eternal separation from God. So, my brothers and sisters in the nacion, please spend some time this week reflection on what the Word of God, the Bible, has to say about God, love, truth, and forgiveness. Kingism is one of many philosophies that try to address the issue of man’s relationship to God, but only the Bible has the full truth of God’s love and of the King of Kings, the one who gave himself to not only set us free from sin and its results, but to give us the abundant life that God always planned for us to enjoy. This is all summed up in four short words, TRUST IN THE CROSS.