Book Tour! Day 7 – Racial Reconciliation

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

booktour8
I received a copy of The Gospel Life Series- Racial Reconciliation from B&H Publishers for the purpose of reviewing.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is a big topic right now.  Some topics are really hard, complex, uncomfortable, and we may even try to avoid them.

If you want to have a voice in the conversation, you have to be willing to hear some hard truths.  Your eyes have to be open to see what may have been hidden from your life.  Your ears need to be open to hear the experiences of others, that differ from your own.  You also need to be prepared for what is going to come your way.

When you pray for the Lord to break your heart for what breaks His, expect to be deeply broken.  Invest in tissues, because you won’t be able to unsee or unhear.

It was in a recently interview, I heard a Pastor state that he believed that the Lord is bringing this issue forward, that we can no longer ignore it.  Another Pastor said the church needs to be on the front line on this issue, not hiding behind the pews.

The Gospel for Life Series – The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation is a great book to start your journey on this complex topic.  It’s a small book, which means it gets right to the point.  It’s also a collection of voices, with chapters contributed by J. Daniel Hays, Thabiti Anyabwile, Trillia Newbell, Eric Mason, Matthew J. Hall, and D.A. Horton.  There is also a list at the end of the book for additional reading to continue learning.

What I have learned in regard to this discussion, is that first I need to listen.  I need to read.  I need to watch.  I need to lean into those who have experience, not opinions.  I need to feel for those who hurt, not try to justify the how or why things happened.  I need to open my eyes, ears, and heart to what the Lord would say.  This book is certainly a great tool in that process.

We explore what the Bible says from our creation in His image (all of us), what the Lord purposed us for, how the Bible would have us interact with one another, how things went wrong, inter-ethnic marriage, how to get to know those who don’t look like us or come from a different background, how the church should engage, and what does the culture around us say (and how do we respond to that).

In Chapter 4, Pastor Eric Mason states:

“Churches need to recognize that one of the Enemy’s devices is to fight against reconciliation between God’s people (2 Cor. 2:11).”

When we recognize this, we know that we can’t stay silent.  It’s US versus the Enemy.

Advertisements

Because, It IS Important – #Write31Days

 

racialrecon.jpg

I requested a copy of The Gospel for Life Series:  The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation for review on this blog, from B&H Publishing Group.  I requested it, because this is an important issue.  In the New Year, the Women’s Ministry Council will be discussing this issue in regards to how we build up diversity and unity within our local Women’s Ministries.  I requested this book to help us prepare for this important conversation.

In 2016, the topic of race has been a hot button topic.   Deep generational woulds have been festering as the bandaids put in place are no longer working.  We are faced with truths that things are not that much better, at least not as much as we have convinced ourselves they had gotten.

I’ve listened to men and women recount their stories.  My eyes are opened to realize that something I perceived as a small percentage problem is much greater than that.  I’ve also witnessed people, who I have great respect and love for, say things that shocked me and made me question how well I know the hearts of those I include in my circle of friends.

When put on the spot, it is very interesting how our hearts will often be betrayed by our mouths.  We will say things that reveal who we are on a deeper level.  We also seem to allow a few bad apples to spoil the bunch, and use that excuse to dismiss that there is a real problem.  We accuse the media of creating something, I would challenge the media is simply exposing the festering wound that has been there all along.

As Christians, if we believe that we are all made in the image of God… if we believe the scriptures that in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, man or women, servant or master but that we are all ONE… then how can we turn a blind eye to racial injustice in our world?  How can we not demand better for our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Lord take these scales from our eyes!  Let us see, truly see, what is happening and compel us to action!

In the book, The Gospel Life Series: The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation, the editors and contributing authors, begin at the beginning.

racialrecon1

The truth is beautiful.  Man and woman created in God’s image.  Not some men, or some women.  All of us.  Crafted in the likeness of our God.  Then man fell and we were distorted, but through Christ the old self died and we were a new creation.  A new creation in God, in His image.  All of us, regardless of the country we come from… the tint to our skin… the sound of our voice… the language we speak… the texture of our hair… the traditions of our culture… the food we eat… etc.   One people, united in the family of God. Sons and daughter of the Most High.

These first chapters explore the biblical truths of who we are, what we were created for, how ethnic and cultural differences were viewed in the scriptures, and how Christ would have us respond.  The latter chapters walk us through our personal response, in how we live out our lives, as well as how the church should respond.  Chapter 5 caps us off by looking at our modern culture and how racism exists today and what we can do about it.

This book is an excellent read, at five chapters it is one you could get through on a weekend.  I would challenge you to pray as you read through this book that the Lord would open your eyes, convict your heart if needed, and guide you to reconciliation when needed.  However, I would also challenge you to share this with your Pastors and ministry leaders.  As the church needs to be willing to stand up, united, to bring it’s family back together.

BOOK REVIEW – United by Trillia Newbell & GIVE AWAY!

newbell

*Giveaway information at the end!

I have had the pleasure of hearing Trillia Newbell speak live twice before reading her book, United.  I admit, that was part of the reason I selected her book.  I really enjoyed hearing her speak, her perspective, her approachability, and her genuine concern for women & diversity in the church.

Regarding the Author:  Trillia Newbell

Having the opportunity to hear Newbell speak live, gives me a unique perspective on her writing.  She writes exactly as she speaks, and she speaks like you are having a personal conversation with her.  She is comfortable with her thoughts and what she is expressing.  Her writing style is authentic, easy to follow and from the heart.   While this is not a small book, it is a quick read that reflects more than just her life, but more importantly the call to be sisters in Christ regardless of our skin color.

Regarding the Book:  United

When I read the first personal accounts from Newbell on her negative experiences regarding race, I sat back my chair shocked.   I saw her in person, I couldn’t believe she was actually older than I.  Surely that would be the case, for her to have the experiences she shared.  Yet, as I continued reading, I would find that in fact my first assumptions were correct.  Trillia is younger than me.  Then, I was saddened.  Racism is a subject that I can not wrap my head around, and  I find myself ever grateful for the family and community I grew up in.

As I continued to read through the book, I stopped at a familiar story.  Newbell shares how she would face criticism from other black classmates for being “too white” due to how she presented herself.  This story brought me back to a conversation I had with a fellow classmate, Tasha, in high school.  In our honors classes, Tasha was always very articulate and spoke with far better grammar and articulation than most of our class.  Yet, I would notice that when she would get around her friends, there would be a change in her speech patterns and word choices.  When I asked her about it, she shared that she couldn’t speak the same way to her friends as she did in class.  She would be criticized for it.  Apparently, while a lot has changed, a lot still hasn’t when it comes to how we perceive each other in this world.

Which means, this book is very important.  Newbell references other great authors and scripture to support her case for the need of diversity within the church.  She provides thought provoking questions, challenges the readers to get out of their comfort zone, and encourages us all to be united as brothers and sisters in Christ while embracing our differences.

I went into this book with a mental road block, that I carried from hearing her speak live.  The idea of diversity in the church is great, and I support it entirely.  In fact, I have been blessed to live in communities that are culturally diverse.  Of my friends I can account just about every country and ethnic background.  Yet, in our church, there is not the diversity I would wish.  Part of the problem we face is a language barrier.  We have a lot of immigration into our communities in South Florida.  Churches that can accommodate those foreign languages are not just something that is desirable, but rather a necessity.  Many will come upon our shores without knowing a single word of English.  It is natural for them to find a church that speaks their language in order to find community, friendships and the Word.  Our neighborhoods and circles of friendships are diversified, but our churches are not.  In a recent conversation, I found my daughter’s friend was going to a Spanish speaking church.  Although he, and his parents, are fluent in English.  When talking with his parents I found out they sought out the Spanish speaking church to specifically engage him back in to their culture and help him to become more fluent in Spanish (he has relatives that are no English speakers).  It is the “use it, or lose it” mindset.  Our second problem with diversification in our churches comes from a place where our immigrants feel they are losing connection to their roots.

So, how do we begin to diversify our church when our differences go beyond the color of our skin or the type of music we prefer… and to something much deeper, more cultural, and more committed to preserving their traditions?  I didn’t expect that Newbell would answer that question, coming from a town that may be rich in color but not facing the same language and culture barriers that would be found in my community.  Yet, Newbell came through.  From the most obvious solution, prayer… to the suggestions of intentionally looking at our staff and leadership in the church.  And, the most difficult, being authentic with the leadership of the church your heart for diversity in the pews.

Highlights from the Text:

While I can’t quote the whole thing here, in the appendix of United, Trillia Campbell includes a transcript of an interview with Thabiti Anyabwile on the subject of race, and his desire to rid the world of the notion of race, as well some of his recommended readings on the subject or race in the church.

I’ll leave you with this compelling quote from United, as some food for thought:

“How can we fulfill the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations if we all seek only churches in which we are comfortable?”      (United, Trillia Newbell)

giveawayj

Leave a comment about diversity in your church,  and you will be entered to win your own copy of Trillia Newbell’s book “UNITED”.
Comments can be related to diversification programs working in your church, hurdles your church faces in diversifying or even a solution to another commenter’s question.  As a community we can learn from each other.  Comments here or on my facebook page count, and will be put into a drawing.  One drawing winner will be randomly chosen.  Entry deadline is July 21, 2014.  Winner announced on July 22, 2014.
Good luck and lets start talking about diversification in the church!