Chattanooga: Strong in the Lord

“Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:10-13
Mere words cannot accurately portray what I felt Thursday as the news began to present a clearer picture of exactly what happened just a few miles down the road from my place of employment. The words “Chattanooga” and “terrorist attack” just don’t go together. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined my city undergoing such an horrific event.
Chattanooga, the city that I’ve called home my entire life (even though I’ve lived on the tip of northwest Georgia about a mile from Chattanooga for most of my 33 years), is not supposed to experience this type of thing. A cocktail of emotions like shock, grief, pain, fear, and anger was suddenly thrust upon the city that I love. 
As I sit here still trying to process the reality of what took place in my hometown, nearly 24 hours after the cowardly attack that killed four U.S. Marine soldiers, my mind turns to the scripture at the opening of this blog post. 
We’re going to hear plenty of flesh & blood reactions in the coming hours and days. The investigation will likely reveal more things that make us cringe. There will likely be a massive politicization of the events that took place on 7/16/15. Folks will blame everything from gun laws to Obama to all Muslims. But I will never forget the response of the Church in my city on this day. 
I’ve never been prouder to be a part of the body of Christ in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There were prayer vigils, old fashioned pentecostal prayer meetings, and worship services across the city just hours after the gunman opened fire in two separate parts of our fine city. 
The Church rallied together and said “not in our city.” And really, that’s the biggest story of the day for me. I’ve been a part of the Church in Chattanooga my whole life. I know many Church leaders in our fine city who lead strong, vibrant churches. There are countless men and women who I have always counted on to get a hold of God. Chattanooga is home to many prayer warrirors. So it’s with that background that I understand Thursday’s attack as more than simply a terrorist attack by what appears to be a young Islamic radical. 
Thursday’s attack was not just a strike on our military. It was an attack on a city with a thriving body of Christ. It was an attack on a city that was recently named as one of the most bible conscious cities in America for the second straight year (Barna Group). And we, the Church in Chattanooga, will not take it lying down. 
The Church, one writer of Scripture called it “the pillar and foundation of the truth”. The Church, strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. The Church, this army of prayer warriors who go to battle not with weapons and ammunition, but who fight on our knees pushing back against the evil forces that influence those who pull the trigger. The Church, this triumphant band of men and women who take a stand in this evil day. The Church, this entity that will not allow our citizens to be overrun with fear and intimidation. 
We grieve with those who grieve. We mourn the loss of these incredible soldiers and we pray for the continued recovery of the injured like Chattanooga Police Sergeant Dennis Pedigo who’s heroic actions on Thursday likely saved many more lives.
The Church of Jesus Christ is activated and ready for a fight. The enemy will not take Chattanooga. His cohorts will not cause fear and terror to reign in our streets. Chattanooga belongs to Jesus and we, the Church, will go to battle on our knees to ensure it stays that way.

Planned Parenthood Video: Grieved but not Hopeless

I’m not really sure what to say about the undercover video of a Planned Parenthood senior director discussing the selling of body parts and tissues from aborted babies in between bites of salad and sips of wine.

The only thing that comes to the surface after watching that horrific video is grief. 
I’m grieved that a human being would utter these words in such a nonchalant manner. I’m grieved that our President has lauded the efforts of such a barbaric organization in the past. I am grieved over the U.S. national media’s non-existent response to the story nearly 24 hours after the video surfaced. 
I’m grieved that there are still some Christians, ministers even, who will not speak out about this issue. I’m grieved that there are still some who believe this is more of a political problem rather than a spiritual problem. 

I’m grieved that taxpayer dollars support an organization whose founder, Margaret Sanger, once wrote, “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

I’m grieved that anyone with a working brain would defend the barbaric practice of selling any body part or organ of an aborted child for profit. 
I’m grieved that this culture has so quickly fallen into such wicked and selfish behavior. I am grieved over the fact that some still believe electing a Republican for president in 2016 will suddenly fix everything that ills this once great nation. 
I am grieved over the lack of revival in our churches. I am grieved that church attendance has been reduced to 45 minutes to an hour, once a week for many American congregations. 
I am grieved that this wake-up call may only last a few days before we go back to business as usual. 
Yes, I am grieved. But I’m not hopeless. 
Even in my grief, I see the hand of God moving. Even in my grief, I still expect a mighty outpouring of the Spirit on my generation. Even in my grief, I see God raising up prophetic voices to proclaim His name among the heathen. 
Even in my grief over the lostness of humanity, I still believe awakening is coming.