We Continue to Dream

MLK Video 2015 from NWLifeChurch on Vimeo.

Today we’re reminded to continue to dream.

Here is the entirety of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech:

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 one hundred 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 languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have 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 which 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. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the 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 quick sands 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. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope 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. 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 the 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, 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 when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers 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. 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 snowcapped 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, when we allow freedom to 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!”

My prayer is that we’d continue the work for which Dr. King gave his life.

Multitudes

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

–Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Does this sound familiar to you?

It reminds me of this quote from the Apostle Paul:

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7.15, NLT

How very human and honest of both of these celebrated authors.

There’s something honest and freeing about these passages.

Honest because we can all relate. These passages are best illustrated in the cartoon with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. We’ve all been there.

It’s freeing because it’s nice to know other people experience the same things we do.

The struggle is real.

A movement I’ve enjoyed recently is a shift in story telling in movies and on TV.

Have you noticed is harder to figure out who the bad guy is?

It’s fun to go back and watch old detective shows. It’s so easy to spot the real culprit. He’s always shifty-eyed and sweaty.

In Westerns, the villain is always wearing the black hat.

Life isn’t always so simple. We’re complicated. Capable of tremendous good and unspeakable evil.

Sometimes it’s unsettling to think about it.

I’m thankful God loves me even though I’m not good all the time. In fact, sometimes I’m just plain rotten.

I’m glad his grace isn’t reserved for the most deserving.

His love and grace is for all who willingly receive from him.

Sweaty. Shifty-eyed. Smooth talkers.

It doesn’t matter.

Jesus died once for all. (1 Peter 3.18)

He created you and me.

He knows us better than we know ourselves.

He loves us. Multitudes and all.

The Toughest Step is the First One

It’s a great place to live.

There are no problems there… or at least it seems that way.

The only feeling experienced here is one of numbness.

Nothing is felt when you live here because you’re insulated.

Progressing and moving forward doesn’t happen anymore because in this place you’re living growth and positive change are not possible.

It’s lonely here. Not many friends, none who really get you.
Continue reading

Top 12 of 2014

Here’s a great post from Tyler Sollie.

He is our network Youth Ministry leader.

Basically he keeps youth pastors like me in line.

He is a great husband, father, leader, but most importantly to me, he’s a great friend.

I’m thankful that he and his wife Amber are part of our lives.

Here’s one of his best from 2014:

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http://www.tylersollie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/order-important.jpg

 

Having things in the correct order makes a difference.

If you’ve ever tried to put a piece of furniture together from Ikea you understand exactly what I am talking about. I remember putting some bookshelves together and neglected to notice in the instructions which way a specific piece of the shelf was supposed to be facing. After I was done building the shelf I realized that I missed it. Instead of being done I now had to tear it down and build it the correct way.

Life can be like that.

I’m learning more all the time about the importance of having things in the correct order in life.

In John 21 we see Jesus having a conversation with Peter after he had made some choices that he regretted. What I love about Jesus in how he addresses Peter’s failures is it all starts with Jesus feeding Peter breakfast! Talk about grace!

After breakfast, Jesus asks Peter a series of questions that are important for each of us to consider.

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

John 21:15 (emphasis added)

Did you see it?

Look again at the conversation that Jesus has with Peter.

Do you love me? RELATIONSHIP

Then feed my lambs. RESPONSIBILITY

In ministry and in faith it is vital to get this order correct.

My responsibility from Jesus flows from my relationship with Jesus.

It is easy to get this mixed around. It is easy to become so focused on the responsibility that He has entrusted to our care that we neglect the very thing that will fuel and enable us to fulfill it: relationship with Him. He doesn’t call us to do things before first calling us to Himself.

But lets be honest…things are easier to measure. They are concrete. We end up with a nice little check list at the end of the day of all the things we have done for Jesus.

But could it be that if we approach Jesus in this way, we are missing the very point?

There have been seasons in my life where I’ve missed it. There are still moments where I am tempted to pursue having relationship with Jesus only  because of the responsibility He has given to me.

It’s time to evaluate the order.

He calls us first to relationship. Then from that relationship flows responsibility.

What I do FOR Jesus will never replace the necessity for being WITH Jesus.

The order is important.

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The best part about posting one of Tyler’s best from 2014 is now he’ll text and offer to take me to coffee…

I’m sitting by my phone Tyler.

Read more from him here on his website: www.tylersollie.com