Chicago: City of Scapegoats

EmanuelThe headline news coming out of Chicago can be summarized in three words that begin with the letter “M”—Murder, Mobs, and the Mayor.

To refresh your memory, Jason Van Dyke is facing first-degree murder charges for shooting 17 year old Laquan McDonald 16 times.  While I don’t know all the facts surrounding this case, it does appear that Van Dyke should be prosecuted.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to step down because the “trust and the leadership of the department have been shaken and eroded.”  If Emmanuel thinks throwing the police superintendent under the bus is a good example of leadership, he’s delusional.

In reality, Mayor Emanuel has played the scapegoat card, and he has sacrificed McCarthy to win public approval and save his own hide.

The scapegoat analogy finds its roots in an Old Testament practice recorded n Leviticus 16:22:  “The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness (ESV).”

The scapegoat of Leviticus symbolized what Jesus would do thousands of years later: He would suffer for our sins on the cross and by taking them away, His death would free us from the guilt of sin.

The story of Leviticus involved the High Priest of Israel and the focus was on forgiveness. The story of Chicago involves a politician and his low brow, pass-the-buck manipulating shenanigans.  If a person is truly known by his works, is easy to recognize the old goat in this story.

R.I.P. #23: Death In The Line of Duty

R.I.P. Deputy Goforth

R.I.P. Deputy Goforth

You shouldn’t have to worry when you stop to fill your tank that you’ll be shanked or shot.  Sadly though, Darren Goforth was ambushed and shot multiple times while pumping gas into his patrol car.

This violent and inhumane act has saddened the heart of law enforcement officers (LEO) across the nation, and it has left many in Harris County Texas stunned.  Goforth is the 23rd officer that has been shot and died as a result of his injuries in the first 8 months of this year.

Please pray for any LEO you know, and all of them in your community.  Also pray for Goforth’s family.  He is survived by his wife and two children, ages 5 and 12.

First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people, for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way. This is good and pleases God our Savior. ~I Timothy 2:1-3

I encourage you to visit, and leave a comment supporting them in their time of grief.

Assault on Aurora

I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on the tragedy of the Colorado shooting.  One verse that has kept coming to mind is Jeremiah 17:9:  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

I’m not going to dignify the shooter by using his name—I’ll just use the initials jh.  The premeditated acts of jh are as old as the first murder committed by Cain.  This son of Adam and Eve was angry at God and jealous of his brother Abel, so he killed him.

As I said in church yesterday, I am capable of committing the same transgressions perpetrated by jh.  Given the right circumstances and faulty reasoning, I have the same sinful potential.  Whether you will admit it or not, so do you.

It is doubtful that I or you will ever commit the act of murder; it is very likely, however, that we will be tempted to stray from the straight and narrow.  Like Odysseus, we need to take the necessary steps to resist the Siren’s call of temptation.

According to Paul, we do this by taking our thoughts into captivity (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). When the first murderous thought entered the mind of jh, he should have taken it captive.  Instead, he dwelled on it until it became an obsession that became an act.

The lesson is this:  If we do not exercise the discipline of taking our thoughts captive, we will be captivated by our thoughts.  Either we control our thoughts and emotions or they control us.

I challenge you to keep a diary for the next week.  Every time you are aware of a new thought or some mental message that is floating around inside of your head, write it down.   I think you will be surprised at the frequency of the thoughts and the way they influence your life.

By all accounts jh was a brilliant person.  The flaw in his life was that he had the power of knowledge, but he lacked the freedom of the truth.  This freedom is found in Jesus, and He said:  You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

In his letter to Timothy, Paul warned of people who were always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.  Without truth we are susceptible to the passions that reside within us, and gullible to the chicanery of the world.

Perhaps an old Chinese proverb will be enough to keep you thinking:  Better to light a candle, than curse the darkness.

Enough said about jh and his deeds.  The focus now needs to be JC and His healing.

The Power of the Human Spirit

There is a contrast as wide as the Grand Canyon on display in Ohio.  On one side of the canyon wall is the murderous act of  T.J. Lane in which he took the lives of his fellow students.  Far away on the other side of the canyon, are distraught families who are overcome with grief.

There is a bridge that joins the two sides.  It is an amazing act of forgiveness that reaches out  from a heart full of anguish and agony.  Phyllis Ferguson, mother of 16 year old Demetrius Hewlin, has issued a statement saying she has already forgiven Lane’s murderous act.

Mrs. Ferguson has said:  You have to forgive everything. God’s grace is new each and every day. Until you’ve walked in another person’s shoes, you don’t know what made him come to this point.

When I read stories like this, I’m reminded of the words Jesus spoke from the cross:  Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.

Whenever there are discussions of T.J. Lane, I hope the repercussions of Mrs. Ferguson’s forgiveness will also be remembered.