Friday, June 27, 2014



Where is the cry of the poor?
Where do you hear it?
How does that sound travel,
How far can their voice carry,
How loud must it be?

Where is the cry of the poor?
When does their articulation
Resolve in recognition?
Where do you know it?
Will you discern its need,
Will you receive its truth,
Will you own its claim?

Where is the cry of the poor?
Where do you feel it?
When you see its clothes
When you meet its face
When you touch its pain?

One man is running
To outdistance that sound
One man makes noises
So it cannot be heard
Another wears dark glasses
So what he sees we cannot know
And gloves so he will not feel
While many wear hardness for hearts
And apathy for souls.

We posit some supposition
A caveat of inquisition:
Does it take
A walk past Lazarus,
Or a separation from Abraham’s bosom?

Some can see another’s sores
That the dogs lick
Those that won’t will only feel the heat
And wish those they used to command
Would assuage them.
Sound waves of the poor
Which elicit compassion
Come not through the ears
But through the heart!

Is it days of hunger
You need
Lean stomach
And your belly distended
Rags and disassembled shoes
Shopping carts with plastic sheeting
For your home and bed?

Does it require a disease
Which could be cured
Except for the fee
You cannot afford?

Is it the loss of a job
Or eviction
Impoundment or prison
Some circumstantial wrench
To get your attention?

They cry now
And you aren’t disturbed
You’ll cry then
But you won’t be heard.

Randy Nabors, June 27, 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014


  I had the privilege of being at a wedding this last weekend.  It was a wedding toward a marriage of a young white man and a young lady who is racially mixed.  I had the opportunity to say something to them at the wedding rehearsal as I felt I should speak to the issue of their impending inter-racial marriage.

   Now it may be in this "post-racial" society that everyone thought I shouldn't have brought it up.  Certainly they won't have to put up with many of the things such couples put up with years and years ago.  For their sake, and for the peace of our society I certainly hope not.

    Yet even as I spoke I realized that one of the things that has happened to my wife and I over the years has actually turned out to be something in which I take pride.  One of the little irritations of being married inter-racially is to be at a counter of a store, a hotel, the airlines, etc and to be standing together, (and here I speak of the marriage distance together, that  physical proximity that gives a pretty strong clue of a relationship) and to hear the inevitable question.

    It goes something like this, after serving one or the other of us first, "And may I help you sir,"  or "May I help you maam?"  Now I realize of course that this sometimes happens to every married couple as the clerk or server may not realize you are actually standing together.  For those of us in these mixed relationships it happens all the time.

    There are of course those times when people have known we were together and my wife has been openly flirted with, this especially in inner city neighborhoods when we were young.  I mean, I'm standing right there, or walking in lock step with her.  Usually that was a typical flirtation of fun, with bantering and laughter.  I mean, I couldn't fight everybody all the time.

    There have been other annoyances, some more threatening.  The stares we used to get on entering a place of business, a rude remark here or there when you could almost feel the animosity in the air.  There are lots of prejudices people used to have about such couples (as us) while actually knowing nothing about us.  We used to really get it in high school going to school on a bus filled with guys wanting to become Black Muslims.  

    Without a doubt our married life has been filled with blessing, the support of friends and family, the same respect and kindness shown to other married folks.  The warnings and suspicions of disaster for our children have not come to pass, as far as I can see, but rather a great pride in our family, our faith, and love.

    I get a kick out of telling people how many years we have been married when they ask, as that seems to be a cause of national significance these days (43 years at this writing).  But back to my point, and that is what I told this newly wedded couple the other night.  When people have asked, incessantly, "may I help you?" assuming we were seperate customers or individuals one of us or both always say, "we're together!"  Or, my wife might say, "he's with me!"  Yes, I am!

    So enjoy it and take pride in it, all your life long.  It is what marriage means, so don't be weary of the affirmation.  "We're together!"  So blessed that this be so, and so proud to say it.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


   I think we need to get ready for the next president of the United States, the one that comes after the one we have now.  Let  us suppose that the next president will be a Republican, just maybe.  I think it would be good right now to agree on some rules about how we will write about him (or her) and talk about him (or her).  

    I will have to admit that these rules would be for Christians as it is hard to put anything binding on non-Christians.  They might talk about the need for "civility" but who decides what that might be?   

   We Christians have the Bible, which is supposed to govern and guide everything we do or say, if we actually believe it to be true and the Word of God.  So, this concept of "rules" guiding our behavior when it comes to political figures should actually have some Sovereign, Divine, Revelatory weight behind it, one might think.  

    Here is one verse quoting another verse, so we get to hear it twice, "Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people."  (Acts 23:5, Paul quoting Exodus 22:28).  NIV  I am not sure if a New Testament apostle quoting the Old Testament law is actually binding but just so you know.
    Here is another text, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men; whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.  For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.  Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.  Show proper respect to everyone:  Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the King."  (I Peter 2:13-17) NIV

    So, for the next president, if he or she is a Republican, maybe we can start using the Bible as some kind of guide as to how we should treat them.  Here are some suggestions:

1.  If they confess Christ and say they are a Christians we should accept that and believe it.  If they do not confess Christ, though they use religious language we should not just assume they are Christians.  I think it is fair to watch their actions, life-style, and wonder if they are true to their statements.  I think it is fair to look at their policies and wonder if they are consistent with Biblical teaching.  Just like people look at us and wonder, but hopefully still show us some personal respect.
2.  We should never ascribe motives to them unless they have told us what they are and we have the evidence.  Our negative assumptions of the worst kind of motives for all their decisions just wouldn't be fair.
3.  If they make a decision we don't like, or institute a policy we don't agree with we should argue with the policy but keep ourselves from ad hominem arguments (calling them names and mocking them) as to bolster our case.
4.  It would be fair to look ahead and see what we think some of the  ramifications of their policies might be and we have a right to voice that concern.
5.  We should possibly treat them as we would like to be treated if we held that office, this is just a suggestion.  We probably want to give our next Republican president the benefit of the doubt.
6.  If someone is slandering them, ascribing the worst kind of motives to them personally, but has no evidence such as direct quotes from them but simply impugns their integrity we should not agree with them, we should not repeat it, and in fact rebuke those who do it.
7.  If other people give him (or her) too much honor, too much glory, we should not assume this is the way they think of themselves.  If they call themselves God, King, or Messiah then we have a right to boldy speak against any such aggrandizement.
8.  Even if we think they might be lying, we are still to honor the office by showing respect and honor to them especially in their presence, even if it makes us sad to think they might not be perfect.
9.  I think we have a right to wonder if all the opposition that might come to him, for every one of his policies and legislative initiatives, is based on actual principle or simply opposition politics to make him look weak and ineffective.  I think we have a right to look at the opposition and wonder if they are really for the country or for themselves.

    Again, these are suggestions for how to treat the next president, possibly a Republican, based on some Biblical concepts.  I would hate for anyone to think I am suggesting this is the way to treat the present incumbent Democrat since he is not our guy and it might be hard to see how these things could apply to him.  We just need to get ready to have new rules that can be applied to our guy, for the sake of his protection, ours, and maybe the country's.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


    I love being part of the church, and I love going to church.  I love to worship God.  I love being part of the congregation that sings and gives glory to God.  I love hearing good sermons.  I love taking communion and celebrating the sacraments.  I love watching a new believer being baptized.  I love hearing the Scripture read out loud (especially when it is read well), and I love to hear someone pray with faith and passion.

    I love hearing a familiar hymn, and I love learning a new one, (especially when it is done well) and the melody is singable.  I love hearing great voices sing the truth of the Gospel, and a great Gospel choir can just blow the breath out of me.  I am amazed at the gifts God gives his church especially in our musicians.  I love being made to think about Jesus, and I yearn to be convicted, to hear the Word of God brought home to my heart and applied to my life.  I love seeing the Scriptures opened up and seeing new insights and being exposed to the wisdom of God that I had passed over and missed.

   I love to be reminded that God loves me, and I love hearing that God has power that I had forgotten to believe in and put my trust in.  I love hearing testimony and hearing about the a work of grace in someone's life.  I love watching my wife lift her hands in worship, and I love being in a pew with my family and swaying while we sing, lifting our hands, and realize this is the faith of our family and we mean it when we praise.

    I love the Lord's Table, and I love it when the suffering of Jesus is remembered, and we are reassured that our sins are paid for, that his blood and his righteousness covers me.  I am sobered when I am warned of my sins, and I am moved to confess once again, and glad to know that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my lord.  I love it when the table is administered in a fresh and sincere way, where it isn't just a perfunctory distribution, but where the joy of The Lord comes down and the saints sing in praise as we move toward the end of the celebration.

    I love to see the saints, to be hugged, to see someone else I'm glad to see be glad to see me.  I love it when I hear and see the church band and realize how much work they have put in to lead us on this day.  Oh how I love a good sermon, when the illustrations just make the Word explode in my understanding.  I love to be moved in my heart to believe God more than I do.  I love to see a preacher moved by his own sermon and I love to see his heart break in front of the congregation.

    I love to see elderly women who never seem to miss a Sunday and light up when I come over to get my hug and rejoice in their love of God, and to realize that coming to church is one of their great joys.  I love it when I see teen-agers stepping out in faith and learning how to put the Truth in their own words.  I love seeing families bringing their children to church, holding their babies, men holding the hands of their wives, sitting together and both holding Bibles.  I love seeing the church rise up to meet a challenge, whether to go out to throw a block party for a poor neighborhood, or to send a team to respond to a disaster, or to send out folks on a mission trip, or to put on a Vacation Bible School.  I love it when the people volunteer and respond and we realize more came in, or more stood up than we expected.

    I love it when someone we thought was lost, someone who was excommunicated, someone we thought hated us, comes back and is restored.  I love it when young men who used to run with gangs, sell drugs, and hurt people now worship and are hungry to learn more of God.  I love it when women who used to give away their bodies now live godly and circumspect lives and no one around them has any idea how wild their lives used to be.   Strange though this sounds, I love it when we have to watch somebody die of some wretched disease and see their constancy, their faith, their hope of everlasting life and though it destroys all of us, though the pain is almost overwhelming to watch their passing and the grief of their families, we stand together and celebrate in the moment of death the great victory of our God over death.  I love to see the saints united in hope.

    I love to hear the side stories, of someone paying a visit at just the right time.  I love hearing about how a bill was paid, a need was met, a sin confessed, a person forgiven, a friendship restored.  I love it when some sins are stood up to and not passed over, not simply accepted in the congregation but rebuked, and I love it when the church stands by its convictions though everyone is frightened and no one knows how things will turn out, except that we seek to obey God no matter the cost to ourselves. And I love it when God vindicates his people.  I love it when the saints reject self-righteousness, when they won't tolerate gossip, and when they pursue reconciliation.  I love it when God makes people honest, including myself, and makes us take the risk of loving each other through our faults.

   I love going to church, being part of the church, being loved by the church, being prayed for by the church, being watched by the church, being encouraged and cheered on by the church.  I love being a part of the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the Building of God, the Flock over which the Good Shepherd leads and watches, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the context of discipleship, the doer of good among the poor.  I love not being alone and looking forward to the City where nothing evil enters and the Lamb is its light and the leaves of the Tree of Life are for the healing of the nations.  I don't know what your experience has been like, but with all our mess I can say, I'm glad The Lord brought me in, into the house of God.