Daily Archives: September 23, 2010

Ascension: Mob rule or Kingdom Rule

As the violence in Mexico continues to escalate the sense of urgency, desperation and helplessness among the people rises. This helplessness in the face of evil for many has turn into rage and a deep thirst for revenge.

This week in the small farming town of Ascension about 120 miles southwest of Juarez a gang of kidnappers met their match. These young men, who had terrorized the town for weeks, attack a small diner at breakfast time and snatched a young teenage girl as a hostage.

Immediately a frantic chase ensued as the townspeople pursued the kidnappers on horse back and in trucks and cars. Meanwhile the federal and local police also responded. The kidnappers were in three cars. In the heat of the moment one of the vehicles turned over which caused a second escape vehicle to crash in a ditch. Two of the kidnappers took off on foot only to be apprehended by the townspeople.

When the police arrived and sought to take the young men into custody the townspeople demand that they participate in the transport of the suspected criminals.

The El Paso Times reported what happened next as follows:

Thirty minutes after the crash, about 9:30 a.m., people found two alleged kidnappers a mile from the crash scene. The people attacked them.

Ignacio Ramírez said he paused to observe what was going on.

“Everywhere I looked, I saw people whose family members had been kidnapped in the past,” he said. “The hate had been accumulating from months before.”

Finally, he said, the military and the federal police separated the alleged kidnappers from the mob.

But the crowd would not drop the matter so easily.

The crowd made federal police take the alleged kidnappers in a civilian truck supervised by residents.

Many more followed the truck carrying the two boys back to the military barracks.

At the barracks, one of the boys told the mob, “See you here in 15 days,” witnesses said.

The crowd, now grown to nearly 2,000 people, exploded again. Crowd members broke into the barracks with trucks, took the two boys outside and beat them, witnesses said.

Federal police agents tried to separate the disorderly crowd from the alleged kidnappers by putting the boys inside a police vehicle for several hours. The windows were closed.

People obstructed police from helping the two boys inside the vehicle and also blocked the area where a federal police helicopter was trying to land.

About 3 p.m., a man informed the crowds that the boys were dead.

As I read this story I must admit I was deeply disturbed by what unfolded. What alarmed me as a follower of Jesus was how the evil and violence had transformed good hard-working people into the very image of what they hated. The deep desire for revenge and vengeance poisons the soul and clouds one’s judgment. In the high emotion of the moment good people can be transformed into an angry mob lusting for blood.

If justice is to prevail–the rule of law must be upheld. God issued the sword to civil servants sworn to defend innocent life not to angry mobs. I commend the townspeople for risking their lives in pursuit of the innocent girl and rescuing her but when a mob of people beat to death two young men before justice can be rightfully and legally served–evil has won the day.

In a violent world like our own Paul wrote to Romans saying:

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d]says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e] 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:17-21

We must not be overcome by evil if we are to be the salt and the light of the world. We must determine to overcome evil with good. In the face of senseless violence and intimidation we cannot give in and become like the very evil we hate–if we do evil has won.



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A Big Inconsistent Brave Man–Lincoln

This week I was listening to a lecture about Abraham Lincoln by Yale Professor David Blight. During his lecture he referred to the following quote by W.E.B. Du Bois on his view of Lincoln–a figure in American history who is bigger than life. Du Bois wrote in the Crisis Magazine in 1922:

‘he was big enough to be inconsistent — cruel, merciful; peace-loving, a fighter; despising Negroes and letting them fight and vote; protecting slavery and freeing slaves. He was a man — a big, inconsistent, brave man.’..

As I reflected on this quote and my struggles of leadership in a complex complicated world which often offers the leader hard decisions among the various shades of gray rather than clear decisions between black and white. I could identify deeply with the man Lincoln–a man of passion, courage, self-doubt, insecurities, anger, compassion, humor and tears.

Rarely is inconsistency a hall mark of greatness, but when it comes to leadership one must navigate the changing tides with courage and flexibility to adapt and change. Clearly great leaders must have core values that do not waver even in the face of strong opposition and sacrifice, but many of the decisions of leadership demand the ability to be “big” enough to change, compromise at times, and to look for “win/win” solutions.

I think most of us could learn a great deal from Lincoln–with all of his weaknesses and inconsistencies. Greatness can often be found in surprising places.

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A “Life” Choice

During the Pregnancy Help Center fund-raising banquet in El Paso, I was sitting next to my wife Robyn and my youngest daughter Madison. One of the reasons I believe so strongly in the “pro-life” movement revolves around my wife and her story.

Robyn was conceived out of wedlock in the womb of a young single professional woman in Dallas. Robyn’s biological mom found herself struggling with a huge decision to make since she was having an affair with a married man.

Out of desperation she made an appointment for an abortion and showed up a little early. As she sat in the waiting room a voice deep inside of her told her to “leave.” At first she fought this urge, but then she made the fateful decision to leave and to give birth to a little baby girl who she would give up for adoption on the day of her birth.

During the program, the director shared about how incredibly important it is for young mothers to choose life. At this point, Robyn whispered to Madison “that is why I am here” and Madison whispered back “that is why I am here too!” With these words tears welled up in Robyn’s eyes as the weight of this truth hit home.

Over the years we have lost track with Robyn’s biological mother–but I am eternally indebted to her for choosing life and giving me my bride and the mother of my four beautiful daughters.

Psalm 139

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Praise be to the Giver of Life!

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Real Men Need to Step Up!

This week I attended a fund-raising banquet for the Pregnancy Help Center of El Paso. This pro-life ministry reaches out to young women and men who find themselves in the midst of a crisis caused by an “unplanned” pregnancy.

The director of the ministry shared a disturbing fact, she shared that the #1 reason women choose abortions is pressure from the father of the baby. When I heard this statistic I was deeply disturbed, especially as a father. God created men to protect and  to provide for their children. How could a man–a real man–pressure the mother of his son or daughter to abort the baby.

The sad reality about abortion is that on the dark day an abortion is performed there are really two deaths. The life of the baby ends, but also the mother begins to die a slow death of shame and sorrow within. Often this cycle of shame culminates with deep dark depression as the young woman ages and has future children.

In this battle for life men need to step up and be real men. Men need to stay sexually pure until marriage. When a child is conceive men need to be fathers and care for the mothers and their babies.

If our nation is going to change–it will start when men stop being boys, and grow up and stand up.

In Psalm 78, the Psalmist described a nation in rebellion against God as follows:

56 But they put God to the test
and rebelled against the Most High;
they did not keep his statutes.

57 Like their fathers they were disloyal and faithless,
as unreliable as a faulty bow.

I pray we will rewrite this charge in our day. I pray our fathers will be loyal, true, trustworthy, and faithful to God and to their children.

It is high time for men to be men.

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