highlights lowlights last week.
February 8-On a flight to Atlanta last week, a 60-year old man, Joe Rickey Hundley, got agitated with a child who was crying due to altitude change on the descent. He decided that he needed to take action and felt like he should let the mother know what she should do. So he said it: “Shut that N*%#er baby up”. And he slapped the child, leaving a mark around the kid’s eye. Reports stated that other passengers on board helped out and got the situation under control. My first impression was, “Wow, just another backwoods racist gentlemen who doesn’t understand the reality of the culture we live in!” I mean, his name is Joe Rickey. And he uses the classic three name system of most racists, right? Then I found out that this guy
is was the president of a company that manufactured aircraft parts. An executive? There were reports that he was a little inebriated at the time of the incident. But I also read somewhere: Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. I’m willing to bet that this wasn’t a momentary lapse on his part. He spoke what he felt. He has since been charged with simple assault and faces up to one year in prison.
February 14-Speaking of charges, my mouth dropped when I heard the news about South African runner Oscar Pistorius aka Blade Runner. An inspirational story last year, he captured the hearts of many around the world by competing in several Olympic track and field events with prosthetic legs. Last week, he reportedly murdered his girlfriend. I had to double-check and make sure it was the same guy they were arresting. Last summer, I sat in my living room after watching his story and told my wife about how his story would inspire others who faced challenges. And now this. I later found out that South Africa has one of the highest incidences of domestic violence in the world. Rape, physical abuse, and emotional abuse run rampant through the country. Needless to say, South Africa has been added to my prayer list this week—as has all involved in this tragic shooting.
February 15-Speaking of tragic, this last story is actually not surprising. Lil’ Wayne is apparently under some pressure to remove some controversial lyrics from a song he appears on. The lyrics are not worth repeating here, but he makes a poor comparison that makes light of the murder of Emmett Till. Although this is not without precedent—Kanye West did the same thing in his song “Through the Wire”—Till’s family wasn’t too happy with Weezy’s choice. And although record label apologized, Wayne has yet to apologize for the lyrics. Given his penchant for over-the-top lyrics, good luck with that.
Three separate events. All over the course of one week. And I could think of nothing but the fact that our world is in need of the redeeming power of the Gospel. Nothing else will do. Hundley was a company president. He’d climbed the ladder of success. But one bad decision sitting in coach next to a mother and her child cost him a job. And more than that, it cost him a reputation. He was also confronted with a reality that many of us refuse to acknowledge. We’re just one bad decision from being Hundley. He said what many people think (on both sides). He just so happened to be caught. Do we harbor any of this stuff in our hearts? The heart is both deceitful and wicked. Why do you think Scripture talks so much about God reforming our hearts. An unreformed heart is just waiting for a “Hundley” opportunity. But the Gospel changes everything. That’s where God takes our hearts of stones and makes them flesh, which results in compassion and reconciliation.
Pistorius seemed like a good guy, but good doesn’t transform. There are plenty of good people in prisons right now. That’s the amazing thing about the Gospel. Jesus isn’t looking for good people. The greatest amount of good that we do is utterly worthless when it comes to satisfying the righteous requirement set before us. God is holy. We are not. But Jesus provides an out. He fulfilled the righteous requirement so we may be called righteous IN HIM. And apart from Him, good just don’t cut it. In fact, as Pistorius may have proven, good might still lead you to dark places.
I don’t know if Lil’ Wayne is an Illuminati minion and I could care less. I do know that he needs to encounter the living Christ. He’s living an empty life, but thinks he has it all—which makes it hard to minister to celebrities. The deception of the enemy has always been about three things: desire of flesh, desire of the eyes, and pride of life. And Lil’ Wayne’s life is a prime example of all three. Sure he was disrespectful of his African American heritage in making light of Till’s death, but I’m more concerned about the fact that he could very well spend eternity separated from God—forever. And no, that’s not me judging him—that’s Jesus speaking through His Word.
Yet I still cling to hope. Hope that all involved in each incident will experience God’s transforming grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. Will you join me in prayer for our world?
What was your first impression when you heard about these stories? Feel free to share in comments.