What is Institutional Racism? A Preacher’s Response to his own Ignorance

I want to address the racial tension in our country, but this will be a different article than I usually write because I am not going to share my opinion.   Today, I am going to define a term.  We need good, clear definitions, so we can understand each other.  Let me begin with two disclaimers.  First, I am not trying to ignite a heated back and forth between anyone.  Lord knows we need more conversations and less angry debate.  And second, I am going to admit my ignorance.  With all the race discussion around us, I heard the term “institutional racism” or “systemic racism” over and over.  I have to admit.  I did not know with any depth what was meant by the terms, institutional racism or systemic racism.  I only had vague impressions.  In my research, I even found out that institutional racism and systemic racism are synonyms, so I am going to use the term institutional racism throughout this article for clarity’s sake. Today, I want to share what I have learned about institutional racism, just so you can know what this term means.  

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I Was Pulled Over at 2:00 am.: A Preacher’s Response to George Floyd

I could share a bible verse about all people are created in the image of God, or how Jesus showed compassion to the Samaritan minority or James saying God does not play favorites, but to be honest, I am too heartbroken for a Sunday School response right now, and you do not need biblical proof that the death of George Floyd was tragic because of course it was. Instead, I have a story.

A couple of years ago my wife and I attended a dinner and party, which was a fund raiser for the poultry industry of Georgia.  This party was in Atlanta which is about two hours from where we live in North East Georgia.  We left this party around midnight, and it was about 2:00 am. when we rolled into our home county, and when we were no more than 5 minutes from our home, blue lights flashed behind our SUV.  

I wasn’t speeding, nor did I partake of an alcoholic beverage at the party we attended.  Since I wasn’t speeding, I thought this was a basic sobriety stop where the officer was checking to see if I was drinking and driving.  I even joked to my wife, as we were gathering together license and registration, that the officer may make me walk a line or hop on one foot.  Ended up, we had a headlight out.  We had a nice conversation with the officer.  We discussed him having the night shift.  I invited him to our church.  In ten minutes, we were home.  

Never at any point was I scared or even worried.  Obviously, I am a white man.  It was 2:00 am., pitch dark, on a lonely Georgia highway.  No other person in sight.  I was not even nervous.  I even made a joke…made a joke…that the officer may make me take a sobriety test.  It is a completely foreign concept that I cannot even imagine being in the shoes of a black man being afraid during a routine traffic stop.  But as foreign as it is for me to be afraid during a traffic stop, we have multiple minorities who cannot imagine making a joke and not being anxious at a police officer walking to their car door.  How on earth can that be true in America? 

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10 Stories to Know From Genesis Week 5 – Dinner Time Devotions

It is tough to find the time to spend in God’s Word.  Dinner Time Devotion is designed to get you and whoever you share meals with, reading, learning, thinking, and growing Scriptures.  

For just three meals a week with your family, your friends (great lunch activity at work), or just by yourself, dive into the Word of God.  Grow as you grub.   

Weekly Passage: The Birth and Offer of Isaac Read Genesis Chapters 21:1-7 and 22:1-19

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What does “The Way of Women” mean in Genesis 18:11? – Language Lightbulbs

The Old Testament was not only written in Hebrew.  It was written a long time ago.  It was written a long way from Georgia, and it was written in a very different culture.  What does all of that mean?  Translating the Bible can be a difficult task.  One particular kind of phrase that is tough for our brave men and women translators, whom I applaud for tackling this task, are colloquialisms.  Just think about all the local phrases we have here in the south. 

“I am fine as frog hair.”  “He is like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” “He’s got a burr in his saddle.” “Happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.”  “He’s only got one oar in the water.”  I had a college roommate who loved hockey who said while watching a game, “look at him standing on his head.”  How would these phrases sound to someone outside the South?  How would you explain these phrases to people outside of your culture?  On top of that, could you imagine trying to translate, “Bless his heart,” with the dozens of possible ways we use that phrase.  

Colloquialisms offer a unique translation difficulty for Bible translators.  To use an above example, would you translate the exact colloquialism and leave it, “he is like a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” or would you write, “he is nervous, worried, and scared.”  

Today let’s look at a colloquialism from Genesis 18:11, and what it says about God and His promises.  

Genesis 18:11 says, “Abraham and Sarah were old and getting on in years. Sarah had passed the age of childbearing.” HCSB 

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10 Stories to Know From Genesis Week 4 – Dinner Time Devotions

It is tough to find the time to spend in God’s Word.  Dinner Time Devotion is designed to get you and whoever you share meals with, reading, learning, thinking, and growing Scriptures.  

For just three meals a week with your family, your friends (great lunch activity at work), or just by yourself, dive into the Word of God.  Grow as you grub.   

Weekly Passage: Call, Covenant, and Doubt of Abraham Read Genesis Chapters 12:1-9, 15:1-21, and 18:9-15 

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Five Facts on the Sailors in Jonah

Jonah is one of the more well known Bible Stories.  God tells Jonah to go and preach to Nineveh a foreign city.  Jonah instead tries to run away from his call, and finds himself in a belly of a fish.  During his flight, Jonah meets a group of sailors. These sailors are often overshadowed by a big fish and a silly prophet, but they are crucial in helping us recognize the hypocrisy in Jonah and hopefully excising hypocrisy from our own lives.  Let’s not miss the message of the Sailors by focusing on the big fish. 

Number One:  They are pagan (Jonah 1:5).  They do not worship or follow Yahweh, the God of the Bible.  We know this because when the storm comes, each sailor cried out to his god.  A clear indicator that their gods were not Yahweh.  This is contrasted to Jonah, who is a prophet of Yahweh, so in the first chapter of Jonah, you are introduced to two characters.  Jonah a prophet of Yahweh, and these pagan, unbelieving sailors.  What unfolds in this chapter is a comedic tale of comparison between Jonah who should know how to live and serve the true God Yahweh, and the pagan sailors who should not know how to live as God wills.  

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10 Stories to Know From Genesis Week 3 – Dinner Time Devotions

It is tough to find the time to spend in God’s Word.  Dinner Time Devotion is designed to get you and whoever you share meals with, reading, learning, thinking, and growing Scriptures.  

For just three meals a week with your family, your friends (great lunch activity at work), or just by yourself, dive into the Word of God.  Grow as you grub.   

Weekly Passage: The Flood Read Genesis Chapters 6:5-7:10, 8:15-22, and 9:12-15

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10 Stories to Know From Genesis Week 2 – Dinner Time Devotions

It is tough to find the time to spend in God’s Word.  Dinner Time Devotion is designed to get you and whoever you share meals with, reading, learning, thinking, and growing Scriptures.  

For just three meals a week with your family, your friends (great lunch activity at work), or just by yourself, dive into the Word of God.  Grow as you grub.   

Weekly Passage: The Fall and it’s Results Read Genesis Chapters 3 and 4-4:16

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Five Facts on the Twelve Disciples

Quick, can you name the twelve disciples?  Come on, shout them out.  There‘s Peter, Matthew, the one with the funny name, the guy that doubted.  And, uh.  Well, if you did just rattle off the twelve disciples without hesitation, I am betting you had an awesome children’s teacher that taught you a real cool song. 

The Disciples were the twelve men that Jesus called personally to follow Him and be leaders in His ministry.  There are thirteen names if you count Matthias who was added to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:12-21), and you should, but there were never more than twelve Disciples at one time.  These men can tell us great deal about Jesus, and Jesus’ heart and character, so today, here are 5 facts on Jesus disciples.

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Five Old Testament Historical Facts to Help You Keep the Story Straight

Have you ever watched a movie series out of order?  You jump from the second story to the fifth story, and wonder how on earth did the good guys get trapped in this snow, weren’t they in a rocky desert? Why is this army coming after them?  Weren’t those guys in white good guys, and now they are shooting at the good guys? What is going on?  Then you feel really lost.  I have.  Well, this can happen when you bounce around reading the Old Testament whether it is your daily reading plan, or your pastor’s sermon series.  There are major events that occur throughout the Old Testament, and if you are not familiar with them.  You can be lost reading certain passages.  

Here are 5 historical events that are crucial for following the Old Testament Story.  

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