Monthly Archives: November 2014

What went wrong in Ferguson, Missouri?

Over the past 40 + years of ministry, I’ve had more than a few difficult funerals.  Some were conducted for those families who had suffered the unexpected loss of a father or mother.  Others grieved the loss of a close friend, fellow worker or neighbor.  But, by far the deepest emotional wounds have always been suffered by those parents whose child has died.

Regardless of the child’s age or the circumstances surrounding their death, consolation for these suffering families did not come easy and always seemed wholly inadequate and often out of place.  ‘It’s not supposed to be this way’, the parents lament.  ‘Children outlive their parents, don’t they?’.  ‘Why did this have to happen’ or ‘why wasn’t it me instead of them’ were questions frequently voiced by the sorrowing families.  In most cases, though, the only thing that would come out of their broken hearts was tears.

Such is the grief suffered by the parents and family of Michael Brown.   Too soon, the days allotted for him by his Creator came to an end.  Abrupt, unexpected, unplanned and grimly irreversible were the events marking the waning moments of his earthly life.  Like the last few grains of sand rapidly trickling out of the top half of an hour glass, Michael’s life first flickered and then fleeted away.  And the stark reality of the truth of God’s words became clear:  ‘Why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes’.  James 4:14.

These words, like so many that I have attempted to share, may do little to assuage the biting pain of sorrow.  But, they can act as a catalyst that prompts us to respond in redemptive ways as we share in the national awareness of this tragic loss.

First, we can PRAY.  Only God knows the true depth of sorrow, so He alone knows the full extent of comfort that is needed.

Second, we can SHARE.  God has written much that can help heal a broken heart.  Look for ways to point to the Savior who ALONE can truly ‘…bind up the brokenhearted…’.

Third, we can LOVE WITHOUT LIMITS.  The fabric of Michael’s family’s life has been torn and tattered by his death, as the life of Darren Wilson’s family has been forever disruptively altered by this event.  But, the national debate about racism that has been sparked by emphasizing the skin color of Micheal and Darren has and will do little to help heal the hurt.  However, a genuine love that is expressed in dependable ways can.  But only if it is God’s type of love that we express:  ‘an energetic and beneficial good will that stops at nothing for the good of the beloved object’.

O how different the tragic events of August 9, 2014 would have been if EVERYONE would have been expressing God’s type of love!  And O how different today would be if I expressed that type of love to EVERYONE around me.

This IS the type of love that God poured out on us when He sent Jesus into this broken world.  Jesus didn’t come to run for Caesar.  He didn’t come to take over the Sanhedrin.  He didn’t come to start businesses.  He didn’t come to make a public stock offering.

He came to seek and save that which was lost and give His life as an atoning sacrifice for those who would be saved.  He did not come to be served, but to serve.

Especially at this season, let’s be a people who ask Jesus to love His type of love through us, allowing Him to use us to bring healing to fractured lives around us.  And let’s begin TODAY!






An open letter to Houston Mayor Parker…

Dear Madam Mayor,

Several weeks have passed since word first circulated that Houston city leaders were planning to force area pastors to submit their sermons and personal correspondence to your office.  Print headlines and radio alerts decried your attempts to unduly scrutinize and systematically silence their attempts to freely express their opinions on and objections to some of the political postures taken in Houston.

Being this far removed from the center of controversy, I am certain that at least some of the information that has filtered down to us is inaccurate.  But, the fact remains that at least some of the observations are, nonetheless, true.  Subtle attacks on Christian convictions are real and intimidation of Christian congregants is apparent.  Though this is true of the current situations in Houston, this is not the topic of this letter.

It has been widely reported that last week your office put out a news spot that reported your statement, ‘I DO NOT INTEND TO ALLOW ANYONE TO VOTE ON MY MORALITY’.  While I understand that statement and acknowledge your right to say it, it does prompt me to offer a few personal observations.

First, allow me to observe that currently most Americans are involved in a passionate pursuit of ‘POWER’, ‘POPULARITY’, ‘POSSESSIONS’ and/or ‘PLEASURE’.  Unbridled drive for these four goals marks the modern expression of American freedom.  Rarely will one find a community, family or other grouping of individuals that is not determined to reach these ends.  It seems likely that your administration in general and you in particular are ensnared in these same pursuits.

Second, admittedly, you have a certain level of authority commensurate with your elected office.  With that comes a certain measure of power that must be understood.  All authority has the same source:  God.  When Jesus, God’s Son, was being tried, Pilate, Procurator of Rome, sneered, “Don’t you know that I have power over you to either crucify you or set you free?”  To which Jesus replied, “You would have no power unless it was given you from above (from God).”  This truth includes you, Madam Mayor.  Your authority is not derived from the voting majority of the Houston constituency.  It comes from God.  And all authority derived FROM Him is accountable TO Him.   Sooner or later, we will ALL give an accounting to Him of how we lived here.  Extreme caution is called for as we live our lives before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.

Third, since God will judge each person impartially and equitably, we should live before Him expressing His morality:  ‘a serving attitude’, ‘humility’, ‘self-denial’  and self-control–virtues that are not only in stark  contrast to our common pursuits, but,  are also eternal in their scope.  Our nation is in serious need of leaders who exemplify these Godly values.

Fourth, one need not read The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire in order to understand the truth of the phrase: ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people’.

Finally, I implore you to pursue ‘faith and a good conscience’.  Some have rejected these and so have ruined their own lives.  Please seek the Lord while He may be found.


Chuck Gaston, a Wisconsin pastor