Hate Didn’t Kill Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday we paused to recognize one of the greatest men that ever lived. He was not a great politician, though he had a great impact on the laws of our land. He was not a famous celebrity, though he is known by most of the people in America. In fact, many cities in our country have streets named after him. This man was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King made it his life’s work to improve the plight of black people in America. While there is still much work to be done, our country took a great step forward through the work of Dr. King.

Then someone killed him.

It’s natural to say that his death was the result of hate. Perhaps, for some it was an act of hate. It’s certain that there were people that hated Dr. King. In spite of his education and influence, here was a man that many would have thought to be of less value, a lower class citizen, simply because of the color of his skin and he was shaking things up. He was questioning the status quo and had a lot of others doing the same. People don’t like change. The sort of change that challenges their comfortably existence they like even less. This sort of change might even cause some people to hate him.

But, hate didn’t kill Dr. King.

You see, while there were a lot of people who DID hate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr there were many who loved him. There were others  that may have thought that what Dr. King was doing was good and right, but were unwilling or scared to stand beside him. Ultimately, they were indifferent and apathetic towards Dr. King and his mission.

They killed Dr. King.

Good Christian men and women. Pastors and church members. People like me. These are the people that killed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They didn’t kill him directly, but they still held some responsibility. In April of last year I was at a conference in Atlanta. During one of the main sessions I had the surprise pleasure of hearing Dr. Bernice A. King speak. She is the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As she spoke she said something that shook me and brought me to tears.

“Hate didn’t kill my father. Indifference and apathy did.”

That’s a bold statement, but it just made sense. Dr. King stood up against things that many people were willing to fight to keep. Certainly there were other’s that stood with him, but there were a great many Christian men and women who did nothing. This is what his daughter meant when she said that indifference and apathy killed her father. We can not know for sure that standing with Dr. King would have prevented his assassination, but if he was doing what was good and right shouldn’t good, Christian men and women have stood with him.

Maybe he would still be here today.

Our country has made so much progress since the time that Dr. King started working to improve the lives of people like him. Still, we have a long way to go. Let’s not make the mistake that our brothers made all those years ago. Let’s stand beside other believers that are working to make lives better. Let’s stand beside and stand up for people who look different from us.

50 years have passes since Dr. King was killed, at least in partly due to indifference and apathy. 50 years from now, let us not be known as indifferent and apathetic, too.

Matt Norman

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3 Things I Learn From The Death of a Young Coworker  

Recently I received news that a woman I had worked with for several years passed away. Her death was unexpected. It’s always shocking to hear that someone you know has died. In this case it was even more shocking cause she was only 39 years old. In a couple months I’ll be 43. She was younger than me and now she is gone.

As is often the case in times like this I found myself reflecting on a variety of things. I thought about my own life, my career, my family, and my relationships. As I did, there were three things that really stood out. Here are 3 things I learned from the death of a young coworker.

1.) Make sure the people you love know it. One thing that we hear over and over again when anyone under the age of about 70, or maybe even 80 dies is that you never know how much time you have. There are people that you care about, people you love. Take time to make sure that they KNOW you love them. Tell them. That’s important. They need to hear it. But, don’t stop there. Your actions will speak love much louder than your words can. When you are gone, it is too late to let those people know you love them. So, make sure they know NOW.

“…we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.” 1 John 3:18

2.) Make time to spend time with people you enjoy being around. After the passing of this young friend and coworker, many of us were left wanting to express our feelings for her and to mourn with others. The family had decided not to have open memorial service, but to keep whatever services they did  have just within the family. I completely respect this decision. However, this left many others that were effected by her death with no outlet for their feelings. This prompted one of our former coworkers to organize a dinner. Nothing fancy, or formal, just an open invitation to a local restaurant to gather and share memories. As I looked forward to this dinner, and while there, I was reminded of just how much I actually enjoyed being with many of these people. Sure, I had left the organization that we had all worked for together, but not because I didn’t want to be with these people. I actually really like these people.

I think we all have people like that in our lives. People that we got to know through work, school, or maybe even through the activities that our children are involved in. People that we genuinely enjoy being around. Chances are some of those people actually enjoy being around you as well. Social media has made it really easy to stay connected with these people. Reach out to them. Plan a time to meet at a local restaurant. Plan a BBQ at your house. Plan to meet at a local park. Whatever it is, make time to spend time with the people you enjoy being around.

3.) Make up with that loved one you’ve been struggling with. I get it, family is tough. Family has a unique ability to hurt us so much deeper than anyone else. The pain is made even worse by the fact that these people are supposed to love us. These are the people we are supposed to be able to count on more than any others. I get all that. BUT, life is simply too short to hold a grudge against a family member. Forgive them. Seek to reconcile that relationship. Try to move on and rebuild that relationship. Make the most of the time you have, because you never know how much time you have left.

I know that your efforts at forgiveness, reconciliation, and rebuilding of these relationships may not be returned or appreciated by that loved one. There is nothing you can do about that. Do your part to salvage and restore that relationship. If they were gone tomorrow you don’t want to have to deal with the weight of knowing that you didn’t do what you could to fix it. When that loved one is no longer around you want to be able to assure yourself that you did what could. You may still mourn the missed opportunities, but at least you tried.

At the end of the day, make sure the people you love know that you love them. Make time to spend time with the people you enjoying being with. Make up with that loved one you’ve been struggling with. None of us knows how much time we have left, or how much time they have left. You will never regret time spent with the people you love and enjoy being with, but you could end up regretting not having done it.

Matt Norman

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Hope For a New Year

One of my favorite songs is an old hymn called “Because He Lives”. This is a song that I just can’t get out of my head for the past few months. Maybe it’s because of this crazy journey of starting a new church and all the uncertainty, stress, and even fear that comes with that. Whatever it is, I think that this is a great song to really connect with as we move into a new year.

I know that for many people the beginning of a new year is often more about relief that the previous year is coming to an end. It seems like every year around this time my social media feeds are fill with people talking about how bad this year has been and how they are going to really kill it in the new year. Often times the same people boasting about how good the new year is going to be will be cursing the year as it ends.

Where does your hope come from? All to often our hope is placed in our own ability to “get things done”. We are created in the image of God. In the very image of the one that created everything. So, we certainly do have a great potential to effect the course of our lives. However, there is one much greater that we can put our hope in.

Because He lives., I can face tomorrow. As the title of the song I mentioned above says, I can have hope because Jesus lives. You see, I have worked very hard in my life and still have often found things not working out as I had planned, hoped, or thought they would. In those moments it can be easy to lose hope. You see, we often place our hope on our own ability to “pull ourselves up by our boot straps” or to “get it done”. So, when this fails, what are we left with?

That’s why I take such comfort in this song. You see, my hope for tomorrow is not based on my own ability to fix things or to make things happen. Rather, my hope is based on the fact that the creator of the universe, Jesus, is ALIVE.

 Because He lives, all fear is gone. Many people will look at what I’ve said here and ask how they can KNOW that tomorrow will be better. The truth is, no matter what you do you can never know for certain what tomorrow will bring. We see instances all the time of people who have done everything right and still find their lives falling apart.

Hope is not about KNOWING that tomorrow is going to be better. Hope is about knowing that tomorrow CAN be better. You see, fear is not removed only when all the dangers are removed. Rather fear is removed when one has trust enough that the person in control will keep you safe. Think about riding in the car with someone you trust. Now, if you are a complete control freak, then you may experience anxiety no matter who is driving. But, suppose for a moment that you truly trust the person driving. When you do, you climb into the car without fear. This is not because every danger has been removed. No, your fear is gone because you trust the person that is in control to keep you safe.

That’s why trust in Jesus can remove fear for tomorrow. It is not because we KNOW that nothing bad is going to happen. It’s because we know that Jesus is in control and we trust that even when bad things do happen that Jesus is still in control and has a plan for us, even in the bad times.

Because I know He holds MY future.  Ok, this line from the song actually says, “Because I know He holds THE future”, but I have always liked to substitute “MY” where “THE” is supposed to be. This serves as a reminder that not only does Jesus hold THE future, He holds MY future. He loves me and wants to see my future be awesome. This is not a “name it and claim it”, “God will give you a new car” kinda thing. But, Jesus did say that He came that we could have life and that we could have it to the full.

As you face tomorrow and 2018, it might help to consider this line and put “MY” in place of “THE” when you sing it. Heck, you could even put your own name in there. “Because I know He holds Matt’s future.” Wow, that has a nice ring to it.

And life is worth the living, just because He lives. Listen, life will not always go the way you planned or wanted it to go. You may invest years in a company, only to find that they care no more about you than they might a piece of equipment. You may invest years into a person, only to find that they are more interested in a moment of physical pleasure with someone else than a life with you. You may invest countless hours in your kids only to have them do things and make choices that you taught them not to make. You may invest blood, sweat, tears, and a TON of time into your own business only to have it crumble.

The truth is that none of us knows what tomorrow holds. None of us knows what 2018 will bring. But, what I DO know is that Jesus holds my future, and He is real and alive. For this reason, I know that life is worth the living. I know that, no matter how bad today gets, tomorrow can be better, because He lives.

Below is a link to this song. Take some time to listen to it. Replace “because I know He holds the future” with “because I know He holds MY future”. Even better put your name in there.

What to know more about how to get this hope? This hope starts with a relationship with Jesus. If you’d like to know more about how to start a relationship with Jesus, feel free to use the email link above to contact me. You can also find me on Facebook HERE.

Matt Norman

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Would Jesus Drink Starbucks?

This time last year there was much discussion over the Starbucks cups. They had committed the most grievous of since by making their holiday cups just plain, red cups. As it approached time for Starbucks to reveal this year’s cup design it had me thinking, what would Jesus do? Ok, just kidding. I wasn’t really into the WWJD movement back in the day. But I really have been thinking about what all the hype over the Starbucks cups is really all about.

Here are a few thoughts on the topic:

  • No Christmas Trees: Starbucks Christmas coffee cup has no Christmas trees on it. Well guess what. Jesus never had a Christmas tree either. So, I doubt He’s offended because they left a tree off the cup.
  • No Reindeer: Unless I’m mistake, there were no reindeer in Bethlehem. So, by not putting reindeer on their Christmas cups they are actually MORE inline with the story of Jesus birth.
  • No Santa: Santa didn’t visit baby Jesus. Again, it would seem that by leaving Santa off of their cups they are actually closer to what we, as Christians’ celebrate at Christmas time.

Ok, these are a little tongue in cheek. Here are some serious thoughts about the issue.

Starbucks sells coffee.

At the end of the day Starbucks sells coffee. They will do what they think will help them sell more coffee. If that means a plain red cup, then they will use a plain red cup.

When you complain, Starbucks still wins. There is an old saying that even “bad” publicity is good publicity. When you fill up your social media feed with talk about Starbucks and their evil cups, you keep them on people’s minds. When those people want coffee, they are MORE likely to go to Starbucks because it is on the to of their mind.

Jesus never spoke out against such things. In fact the only people that Jesus ever spoke out against were the “church people”. Whenever we read of Jesus interacting with other people he did so with love.

Jesus probably WOULD drink Starbucks. Jesus turned water into wine, AFTER PEOPLE HAD ALREADY HAD MUCH TO DRINK. He had dinner with tax collectors, societal outcasts. He let a woman known for her sinful lifestyle wash his feet, because the “church people” wouldn’t. If He thought that there were lost people inside Starbucks I think He would walk right up in there and order a latte. I also don’t think He would have them put “Merry Christmas” on the cup as His name. He might say, “I Am”, or “Son of God” or “Son of Man” or “Savior of the world” or maybe “Messiah”, but probably not Merry Christmas.

God doesn’t need us to defend Him. If you are a Christian then you believe in the God of the Bible. This is the God that wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from the sky. This is the same God that flooded the entire earth because it had become so wicked. IF God is truly offended by Starbucks and their new cups, I think He can handle Himself.

The bottom line is this. It’s just a cup. The symbols that are missing from last years Christmas cups have nothing to do with Jesus anyways. So what if there are no snowflakes, Christmas trees, or jolly fat men. Christians need to stop complaining about such things.

I have a challenge for all these Christians that would have us not shop at Starbucks because of these cups. Try this and see how it works out for you: Go to Starbucks. Be polite and friendly to the barista and other customers. Smile and show them the love of Jesus.

Pay for the person behind you and maybe even the person behind them. In fact, just give the barista a $20 and pay for as many people as that will cover. Take it a step further and give her a $50 or $100 and buy as much coffee as that will buy.
Every time you want to complain about such things stop and think about it. Instead, go out and tell someone about the great things that Jesus has done for you. Share the gospel with them. In fact, anytime you feel the urge to complain about these types of things throughout your day, share the gospel with someone.

At the end of the day it is just a cup. Nobody is protesting red Solo cups and they have lead to more sin than a red Starbucks cup ever could. But, even if these cups were somehow sinful, the answer is not protest or boycott. Rather the answer is love and the sharing of the gospel. No one is going to come to Christ because they like the way Christians complain or fight. However, when they see how we love EVERYONE and they hear about the hope that is possible through Jesus Christ, then they just might be willing to give this Jesus person some thought.

Matt Norman

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