Telling the Truth

NOTE: I wrote this on Saturday, January 9, in response to the desecration of the Capital building. In it I try to tell the truth about myself. If we can’t tell the truth about ourselves, how can we tell it about others?

Today we see the devastation caused by the lie. I do not speak of the lie that the president won the election though certainly that lie has wreaked devastation, but the ancient lie of Satan that God is not good and can’t be trusted.

It is possible to grasp cutting-edge political truth while remaining ignorant. This ancient lie is the real cause of the devastation at our capital, the devastations in your life and the devastations through mankind’s history.

To expose, and condemn political lies without exposing and condemning the Lie-beneath-the-lies, is like arranging the chairs on the Titanic as she sinks or placing a fresh band aid on the arm of a cancer patient and saying “that will do.”

This is of the utmost relevance today because only the person who is confident that God is good, that God’s word can be trusted and that he or she is loved by God can dare to witness to the truth and not tell lies and shift blame.

Since that moment when our first parents acted on Satan’s lie and lost trusting intimacy with God, mankind has told each other lies about God (that we could hide from God and cover our shame) and attacked and blamed each other. We do not tell the truth about ourselves.

The truth is that just as our capital was vandalized and desecrated, you and I have desecrated and vandalized a much more sacred and holy thing: people made in his image, immortal souls: “Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals who we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.” (C.S. Lewis)

The truth is by my words and by my deeds, by my actions and inactions, by my lust and gossip and greed and selfishness and jealousy and cowardice and pride and bitterness and anger and deceit, I am responsible for great devastations done to others and myself.

The truth is that even my most righteous acts and my most zealous witness to truth – whether that truth is religious our irreligious, political or pious – became strongholds of self-righteousness and pride from which vantage point I hold others in contempt.

The truth is that I am self-centered. Instead of laying down my life for others, I use them for my own purpose and pleasure. The truth is that you are self-centered too.

The truth is that no political victory, political leader, or political ideology can cover your shame or hide you from God. You and I are accountable.

The truth is that that we hate God and each other.

I can only bear witness to the truth about myself by the cross of Jesus. On the cross, Jesus Christ exposed the lie of the devil. He trusted God’s word and clung to God’s goodness even as he became the sin bearer. In the devastation of the cross, I see the full reality of my wickedness.

Jesus Christ exposes that we are all people of the lie. He exposes the lie of the irreligious that there is no God and that we do not need God to live a fully human life. His undeniably beautiful life was by trust in God’s word and dependence on God’s love and goodness. And he exposes the lie of the religious that we can cover our shame and atone our evil apart from the sacrificial death of Christ.

Jesus Christ also exposes the political lies that might makes right and that a political leader, party, ideology, media platform or even a nation can be trusted. Only God is worthy of the trust of an immortal soul.

At the cross of Jesus, I see the truth about my evil. But I also see the truth of God’s word, goodness and love. At the cross of Jesus, the promise of God to our first parents to send a Savior is fulfilled. At the cross of Jesus, God demonstrates his love for me and I receive the gift of his loving presence, his Spirit of truth that dwells in me.

Now by the Spirit who assures me of God’s love, I name and repent of the ways I desecrate and vandalize others and myself. Now by the Spirit, I bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control confessing that this fruit comes from God and not self.

Now by the Spirit who opens my heart to God’s word, I trust in God and not any man or woman, political party or nation, not even myself. I am calm and fearless in times of chaos, national upheaval and the unknowns of the future, because God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Now, by the Spirit who calls me to responsible action, I boldly witness to the ultimate truth of God in Jesus, discern and speak proximate truth to power, and forgive and love the other, even my enemies, as God forgave and loved me the great vandal and desecrater of his sacred image bearers.

Jehovah Jireh

A story from your family’s past can define your family. It may be from the distant past, like the story of how your grandparents immigrated to America or from recent history, like your parent’s divorce and the devastation that brought. Our move to Camano Island in 1969 for Dad to be a full-time artist was defining for our family in terms of where we were from (Camano Island, WA) and what we do (art).

Genesis 22 tells the story of God’s test of Abraham. God tells Abraham to take his only son, his beloved son Isaac, to Mt. Moriah and to offer him there as a burnt sacrifice. Abraham knew that God had the right to require Isaac bear God’s judgment for his family’s sin. And Abraham knew that God had promised to bless the world through Isaac. He believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard describes the anguished obedience of Abraham as fear and trembling and every parent who reads the story enters that anguish to some degree.

When they come to the place of sacrifice, Isaac said, “My Father.” “Here I am, my son.” “Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” And there alone with his son before the face of God, Abraham built the altar, put the wood, raised the knife. Then the angel of the LORD called out “Abraham, Abraham, do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.” Abraham lifted up his eyes and “behold, behind him was a ram, caught in the thicket by his thorns. And Abraham…offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.” So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The LORD will provide.’

Rembrandts painting of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac

The story of God’s holy demand, Abraham’s anguished obedience, and God’s gracious provision defined Abraham’s family from then on. God was “the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac” (Genesis 31:42, 53) and “Jehovah Jireh” the LORD will provide. (Jehovah, or Yahweh, is a translation of the Old Testament’s primary, personal name for God: LORD). For the Jews, Abraham’s faith was the touchstone of faith, allegiance, and obedience to Jehovah. Until Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, God paid the debt of sin owed by all the families of the world. Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac foreshadowed God’s ultimate sacrifice. As a Christian your heavenly Father’s sacrifice of his beloved son Jesus, IS THE DEFINING STORY of your life. If God will PROVIDE for you in this ultimate way, can’t you trust him for your daily needs?

Walk today knowing that God is Jehovah Jireh who has and will provide for you.

But God remembered

When I was a boy I would listen for my dad’s feet on the stairs to my attic bedroom. I hoped he would remember to tuck me in and kiss me and say goodnight. I wanted to be remembered.

Deep in our hearts is the longing to be remembered. We want to be on the mind and in the heart of someone, somewhere. We want to be loved, valued, treasure: remembered.

Genesis 6-8 recounts the story of God’s judgment of the world, and his salvation of the world through his servant Noah. In Genesis 8:1 is the turning point: “But God remembered Noah.” God’s remembering Noah combines the idea of faithful love and timely intervention notes Derek Kidner. Old Testament scholar Brevard Child says that “God’s remembering always implies his movement toward the object of his memory.”God wasn’t absent minded or too busy. Nor had he abandoned Noah in any way. No, God’s remembering Noah means that he moved towards Noah in love and help.

Do you long for someone to remember you? Do you long to be treasured and cherished and thought of? You are. God asks his people, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb.” Of course not, the answer is. “Even these may forget,” the LORD God continues, “yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me” (Isaiah 49:15).

Live today as one who is remembered by God.

Father Hunger…sought, lost, reconciled by Art Cosgrove

Imagine for a moment that you’re at an airport waiting for a friend’s plane to arrive. You can’t help overhearing the conversation of two young men standing right behind you. One says to the other, “My Dad is just about the best Dad a guy could ever have. He was always there for me when I needed him. He encouraged me, came to nearly all of my athletic games, and took us on adventuresome family vacations every year. Family holidays were some of the best times of my life. I can’t wait until he gets here and we can spend some more time with one another!”

You can tell by the young man’s voice that he feels genuinely excited about his father’s visit. His comments automatically set into motion memories of your relationship with your own father. How might hearing such comments make you feel?

  • Warm……… “I wish my Dad was coming and I could give him a big hug!”
  • Depressed“I wish I could start the relationship with my Dad all over again.”
  • Angry……… “My Dad wasn’t there for me. He missed all of my events.”
  • Confused…. “No Dad can be that great.”
  • Jealous……. “Why couldn’t I have gotten a Dad like that?”
  • Skeptical…. “Obviously this guy is making all these great things up.”

Most young boys growing up do not have an in-depth understanding of their emotional needs, but various interactions with their father will cause the feelings mentioned above to surface. On the other hand, most young boys growing up into manhood do need to experience basic emotional connections. These emotional connections play an important part in relationship satisfaction. If they are fulfilled, the person might feel contented, excited, or joyful, similar to the person in the story above. But when the emotional connection needs go unmet, the person might feel frustrated, depressed, confused, or even angry.

The following story is about a boy who grew up in Indiana. His father was an All-American college basketball player known for his defensive skills, that went on to become a successful basketball coach and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Since all boys desire their father’s affection, acceptance, and validation, this young boy determined early in his life that playing basketball at a skilled level would get what he needed from his father.

Enter the first hurdle that would complicate this young boy’s quest to be that skilled basketball player. At age seven, he was diagnosed with having flat feet. The doctors decided that he needed to wear braces in his shoes to elevate his arches. Braces in the late 40’s were made of metal and he had to wear them in his tennis shoes. The problem was that they would cut into his ankles every time he had to make a sharp move to one side or the other. Of course this made him a “step slow” in trying to defend anyone on the court. Nevertheless, he started on his elementary school basketball B-team in the second grade and became proficient at other parts of basketball like dribbling and shooting. Most of his spare time was spent on practicing his basketball skills. By the time he was in the fifth grade he was good enough to play and start on the seventh and eighth grade A-team. He led the team in scoring, and won his first trophy for free throw accuracy.

His Dad didn’t get the chance to be at many of his basketball games because he was busy coaching the high school team. Therefore, it was his mother who saw most of his games and could only report to her husband how well their son had done in the game.

After the young man graduated from elementary school, his Dad took a coaching position at a high school in the central part of the state. The young man played basketball on the high school’s freshman team, but decided that it was too much pressure being the coach’s son and didn’t play basketball in his sophomore and junior years. When the young man was a senior in high school his Dad accepted a coaching position in northern Indiana at a school that had fallen on hard times. He decided to go out again for basketball in his senior year at this new school and made the starting five.

In his first varsity game at this new school, he scored 14 points and flashed his ball handling skills that included behind-the-back dribbling that he had learned and practiced in elementary school. He started in fifteen straight games, and averaged over 12 points, and handled the point guard responsibilities of bringing the ball up the court and starting the offensive sets.

Then came the next hurdle in playing for a Dad. At a holiday basketball tournament, many of the players from his Dad’s former Indiana State Catholic championship team of 1941 were in attendance. (Note: This was before Catholic teams were allowed to play in the Indiana State tournament) Hoping to impress both his Dad and the former team players of that tournament team, he got off to a terrific start—scoring 12 points in the first eight-minute quarter. Early in the second quarter he stole a pass in front of his Dad’s bench. He immediately turned to start dribbling for another break-a-way bucket, but ran over the defender and was called for a charging foul. His Dad jumped off the bench and yelled at him, “Watch before you dribble!”…to which he shouted to his Dad, “Shut up and sit down!” Yes–you guessed it–he was immediately the one who sat down! At half time he had to ask for forgiveness in front of his teammates and his Dad’s ex-players.

After the fifteenth start of the season, his Dad benched him without any reason given as to why he was doing this. And he didn’t start or play in any of the remaining 5 games of the season. Then came the Indiana sectionals and the team was playing its archrival on their home floor. They were leading by three points with only eight seconds to go. The ball was out in front of our bench, but one of the guards had fouled out, and the coach had to replace him. The coach looked up and down the bench, and then overlooking the young man, his son, he put in another player that had not played very much that year. This player promptly turned the ball over twice, and to make a long story short—the team’s archrivals scored four points in eight seconds and won the game!

To say the least, there was anger on the son’s part as well as his mother’s. She almost divorced her husband because he didn’t put their son in the game to handle the ball resulting in the loss of the game. For the son, the anger was that his Dad didn’t trust him at this critical point in the game. To say that this caused a break in the father-son relationship would be an understatement. The father’s caustic remarks about his son being a “step slow,” the decision to take him out of the starting five, and not put him in a sectional game, when ball-handling was important, built up an anger beneath the surface that would last well into adulthood.

I am the young boy in this story. Fast-forward to my adult years. I could never put my finger on why I had a quick anger response in my life. It would reveal itself in various ways. It showed up in athletic endeavors when I felt the referee had made a bad call. It was so bad that I even hit a referee in one basketball game. And in one softball game when I was catching and tried to make a sweep tag from our outfielder to home plate—the player that I was trying to tag out threw a forearm at me and then laughed when I couldn‘t make the tag. That set me off and as I went after him, he ducked and I tumbled over him. An all-out bench clearing brawl lasted 15-20 minutes and ended with the state police having to intervene. 

Picture of Art Cosgrove in his 30s after winning a Stamford, CT YMCA Tournament

My unresolved anger also affected my life after I got married. And to make matters worse, I had been ordained as a pastor. My wife and I went to get professional counseling help for relationship issues. During the year of counseling, the Christian counselor listened to my part of the story and suggested that I needed to go and reconcile unresolved anger issues with my father. 

I called my sister in Indiana and told her I was coming home to visit, but that I needed to spend time with my Dad. She didn’t quite understand what the need was, because she always thought I was the “golden one!” In our growing up years she had been spared the ongoing struggle with my Dad, but she graciously allowed me to spend extended time with my Dad.

After arriving home, I decided to take Dad on a “road trip” to visit all the places of my childhood. After the car was all packed, we drove to every place where we had lived and found all of our former homes, the schools I had attended, and enjoyed the towns we had lived in as well as the schools where Dad had coached. It was good to tell old stories and see how many of my vivid memories were correct. 

Art Cosgrove (Jr) and his dad after his reconciliation trip

I remembered that the distances between places in my story were quite far, but during my revisit I found out they were much shorter. I also discovered something about the school gymnasium several of us broke into to practice shooting baskets one evening.  When we heard the priest come in to find out why the lights were on we ran and hid in the restroom toilet. I thought that the toilet must have had room to see us under the stall—when in actuality it was solid concrete block. Never sure how the priest figured out we were in the stall!

When we reached the town in which I was born, I measured the distance from our home to the high school where Dad coached. When I was about four I walked over to the school where he was teaching and climbed up on the window ledge and starting waving at him. His students saw me and let me in the window. I thought the distance I walked was a very long way from our home, but it turned out to be only about a hundred yards! This particular visit gave my Dad a chance to talk with one of his buddies who use to drive his State Championship team to games in his paneled bread truck.

Our last visit was to a town where Dad coached college basketball for four years before he decided to return to high school basketball. During this visit we recalled several stories. The first was when my Dad had stopped his car and got out to talk to a friend, but left me, as well as my sister in the car with the motor running. After he got out of the car, I got into the drivers seat, put the car in gear and stepped on the gas. Thankfully, Dad was able to run us down before we crashed. And another story involved my younger sister who I was chasing one day. She ran into a corner of the house and got a severe cut above her eye, and she had to be rushed to the hospital to get 15 stiches above her eye. Maybe these are reasons why my Dad didn’t think he could trust me! 

It was also in this same town, when we used to visit friends for Thanksgiving, that I would play my Dad ping-pong. At first, he would give me points and beat me. Eventually I got better, and I finally was able to beat him. When I beat him for the first time, he didn’t even give me credit, but walked out angrily. Did I say that my Dad was competitive? In a few more years, I started to give him points and still beat him. I don’t think this set too well with him!

Finally we arrived back where we had started—to the northern Indiana town where Dad had coached, and where I played for him for fifteen games before he sat me on the bench. It was at this point that I needed to confess why we had taken this road trip. So slowly I got up the courage to say to my Dad. “Dad, ever since I was a senior in high school and played B-ball for you, and you sat me on the bench after fifteen games and never played me again, I have had resentment and anger toward you. You knew that I was the best ball handler that you had, and you still did not put me in that last sectional game against our archrival.” And then I paused and said, “Why did you not put me in? Why didn’t you trust me?” 

With tears in his eyes, my Dad responded, “You’re right I should have put you in the game.” Then he told me the rest of the story. The year before we moved to this Northern Indiana town the son of one of the teachers at the High School had been a starter on the school’s basketball team. The teacher’s son made the team when my father took over as coach but didn’t get to play much. Since he was a senior that year his father, the teacher, had been pressuring my Dad to get his son some more playing time. My Dad told me that he caved into the pressure, and decided in this important part of the game to give this teacher’s son a chance. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for anyone. It didn’t work out for my Dad because we lost. It didn’t work out for this teacher’s son, because he turned the ball over twice. And it didn’t work out for me because I had harbored all of this resentment and anger for so many years.

At this point, I asked my Dad to forgive me for all the anger I had held against him. At this point, as an adult, I could understand peer pressure quite a bit more than when I was a high school student. And as I gave him a hug, he asked me to forgive him for not having enough guts to stand up and do what he knew was right at the moment. This is what is called total reconciliation—something that doesn’t always happen. From that day forward my Dad and I were able to get back on track with a loving relationship, so much so, that later in his life before he died, I was able to lead him to the Lord. 

Now I wish I could say that everything from that point on was even-keeled and peaceful. But as my Dad got closer to passing, he got a little cantankerous and we had a few discussions that were not pleasant as my sister and I tried to take care of him in his last years. There were times that I wasn’t nice to him and I was even angry that I had to deal with role reversal and act as a father to him. But after I did his funeral service, there was an extreme sense of loss of not being able to talk to him anymore. But I know deep in my heart that his decreased mental capacity would have prevented us from having meaningful discussions, so I will have to wait until our heavenly reunion to have those talks!

Taking Steps

Taking steps to forgive another person who you perceive has wronged you is painful and difficult. Knowing that God will “go before and prepare the way,” helps us as Christians to follow through in this area of our lives. These are the steps that my Christian counselor helped me to find peace in my life and which I now follow as a pastoral counselor to help others find the same peace.

  • Identify the people who have offended you and identify the specific wrong (ie. rejection, injustice, unfairness, physical or emotional abuse, betrayal, abandonment, neglect, deprivation of love, etc.)
  • Face the hurt, pain, anger, bitterness associated with the person and the specific wrongs. If you bury them, you also bury your chances of forgiveness.
  • Face the cross. It is the cross of Christ that makes forgiveness legal and morally right. Jesus “died once for all” when he took upon Himself all the sins of the world.
  • Decide that you will ”bear the burden of their sin.” As Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers transgressions seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.”
  • Decide if you will forgive nor not. It is your choice. Forgiveness is an act of the will, a choice to let the other person off the hook and free yourself from the past. Your feelings will follow in time, but you need to release the desire to hate, to be angry, and to seek revenge.
  • Find a trusted Christian counselor/pastor/friend who will pray with and for you.  James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed.”
  • Do not expect your choice to forgive to result in major changes in someone else. Instead pray for them as Matthew 5:44 says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And as you pray for them you will find a freedom in that forgiveness through Christ as Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
  • Try to understand those you have forgiven. They are victims also. Their past situations have also included instances of rejection that they have not been able to deal with in a healing way.
  • Remember that forgiveness is a choice of the will in obedience to God. Some positive emotional results will come with time and include the following: a) the ability to think about the person without feeling hurt, anger and resentment; b) The ability to revisit people and places without resentment, or other negative responses.
  • Thank God for the lessons learned and the maturity gained as a result of the experience. As Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son”
  • Accept your part of the blame for what happened and confess it to God and others. For 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

My closing thoughts about my story are as follows:

*I wish that my Dad had understood my need for affection, acceptance, and validation

   His statements (which were true because of my braces) about being  “one step slow,” hurt me, and made me feel that I could never live up to my Dad’s expectation, no   matter how hard I tried. This feeling probably contributed to me sitting out my sophomore and junior years.

*I wish that my Dad had talked to me as to why he sat me on the bench after 15 games.

I’m not sure it would have helped matters, but not knowing what Dad thought of me caused a lot of doubt in my own ability at the time, and whether  I would ever be good enough to get his validation.

*I wish that my Dad had enough faith in me to put me in that last sectional game.

I’m not sure that the game outcome would have been different, but it would have shown me personal acceptance at the time.

*I am glad that I got good Christian counseling for my underlying anger issues.

This helped to turn my entire life around and set me on the correct path of forgiveness.

*I am so thankful that I was able to go through this experience and come out the other side, by God’s grace, so that I am able to help others with the same issues.

Spiritual growth is not easy, and often painful. But the end result is a “closer walk with the Lord”, as well as a deeper understanding of what others are facing so that you can counsel them with compassion and mercy.

These are the final words of the St. Francis of Assisi Peace Prayer. They are fitting in that I chose Francis as my confirmation name. The Lord foreknew, before I was born, that one day these words would become an important part of my reconciled life!

        “For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life”

St. Francis of Assissi

2021 Winter/Spring Identity Mapping Cohorts

Would you like to know yourself and God better? Do you want more clarity on your calling? Would you like to set goals for 2021 (and beyond) that reflect God’s design of you and calling for you? Do you want to bring God glory by becoming more fully who he redeemed you to be? Would you enjoy taking a discipleship journey in community?

If your answer to these questions is yes, then you may be interested in joining one of the two 2021 Winter/Spring Identity Mapping cohorts that are being led by my wife, Jenny Dorsey and I, via Zoom on Tuesday evenings, beginning Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

Identity Mapping is a discipleship journey designed to help you embrace your unique identity in Jesus and step boldly into the calling he gave you. Jenny and I have been leading Identity Mapping cohorts together for years. We look forward to using Zoom which will enable people from (almost) anywhere to participate!

The two cohorts run through the end of April. The sessions last 1.5 hours. Cohort #1 meets from 4:00-5:30pm Pacific Standard Time (7:00-8:30pm EST). Cohort #2 meets from 7:00-8:30pm Pacific Standard Time (10:00-11:30pm EST).

The first meeting on Tuesday, January 5th, will be an orientation to the curriculum and a chance to get to know members of the cohort. Besides this first meeting, we will meet sixteen times on Tuesday evenings over the course of nine months:

  • January 5 (orientation), 12, 19 & 26
  • February 2, 9, 16 & 23
  • March 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30
  • April 6, 13, 20 & 27

The cost is $125 per person which covers the cost of The Name, the basic discipleship curriculum of Identity Mapping.

The Name is designed to help you embrace your unique identity in Christ and boldly step into your calling. It as 14 chapters plus a prelude and postlude. Each chapter is followed by a tool to help you apply its teaching to your life. There are over fifty illustrations. We encourage you to color these “theological illustrations” to help you process the content of each chapter. There is room on each page to take notes, and places throughout the handbook to make journal entries. By the end of the journey, you will have mapped your identity, applied the gospel to your heart, and written goals for each sphere of your life. And, we think, have had a lot of fun in the process!

You can reserve a spot in the cohort at our store here.

JENNY AND I LOOK FORWARD TO SHARING THE IDENTITY MAPPING DISCIPLESHIP JOURNEY WITH YOU.

Faith of a Mustard Seed Project Report

On September 12, 2020, a team from Redeemer Redmond Church (Me, Pastor Jason Dorsey, Jim Gibons, Jordon Lewis, Dismas Smith, and Dave Lane, who joined them a few days later) and some friends (Jed, Renae and Willow Dorsey and Tiffany Clark) traveled to Indianapolis, IN to help restore a house owned by a good friend of Pastor Jason, Donteau Gladney, and to help launch a social purpose business, Faith of a Mustard Seed or F.o.M.

The purpose of F.o.M. is to create relationships across racial divides by bringing people together for a common cause of restoring homes to empower the African American community in Indianapolis through home and business ownership.

Here’s a YouTube video that gives you a picture of our project.

The team arrived on Saturday night and the first thing we did after picking up our rental car, was to go shopping for food.

Shout out to Shawn Collins who left mats and sleeping bags and pillows for us at Redeemer and for Rev. Charles Anderson and Sarah and Nathan Partain who supplemented those with pillows and some extra luxury mats.

We enjoyed Mass Ave on Saturday night with a delicious dinner at Bazbeau’s pizza, and thankfully picked up the pillows at the Partain’s home after dinner.

We worshipped on Sunday morning. It was great to worship at the church where I served as senior pastor for 13 years.

Sunday afternoon, we headed to the work site. Here is a little picture of the house that we were about to work on.

Donteau has many friends and connections in Indianapolis who came by to help in the project beginning that Sunday. It was great to meet them and built relationships with them as we worked on a common cause.

A few friends of Pastor Jason and Jed Dorsey from Indianapolis jumped on board the team to help work including Michael Jones, and a young man named Landon who turned out to be quite talented in construction projects, and a mom and her son who heard about the project on Sunday morning at Redeemer Presbyterian, Indy.

We worked from 9am-6pm, then “broke bread” sharing in a dinner and time of conversation and friendship over meals provided by Redeemer congregation members. Sunday’s dinner was provided by Erin and Jackie Hall and their community group. Mondays dinner was provided by the Nathan and Sarah Partain family. Tuesday’s dinner was provided by Rev. Charles Anderson, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian, Indy. And Donteau Gladney provided a delicious feast for our last dinner on Wednesday.

Each evening a member of the Indy community shared. On Sunday night, Donteau Gladney shared his story of growing up in the hood in Indy, his time in Federal University (Prison), friendship with Jason, and hopes and dreams to give back to his community and mentor young people through F.o.M. On Monday, Wildstyle Pascal shared about the history of redlining and systemic racism in Indianapolis. On Tuesday, Brian Parks shared how through God’s help he was on a good track, including being a first time home owner. Each talk with informative and inspiring.

We were able to get lots of work done including: restoring the front porch, painting many of the inside rooms, prepping the kitchen floor for flooring, digging four drainage ditches for gutter runoff, and many other jobs. It was lots of fun to work together on these projects and the team worked with gusto. We laughed a lot too! We’re so thankful for all who gave to the Indy Justice Trip offering. Through your generous gifts we were able to purchase paint, flooring, tools, and many other supplies. We also were able to help purchase a new laptop computer which will help Donteau and his son Jai’Onn run their website and business. https://www.ourfomfamily.com/

If you would like to see more detail, here are a couple of videos by my friend Dismas sharing a little bit of what we did from his perspective.

Finally, I want to give a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came alongside this house project with us and Donteau. We got a lot done, and we had a lot of fun sharing meals and stories. We couldn’t have done it without the incredible support we got from so many people who gave money. We got the inside of the house painted, we cleaned up the front and back yards, did some dry wall work, got the floors ready for installation, purchased all the flooring, and restored the front porch, including some concrete repair and new railing. We had amazing people come help work, and we had incredible people provide food for each of the dinners. I know there is still more to do, but I couldn’t be more thankful for all that happened. And I’m super thankful and proud of Donteau and his son, Onnie, who worked hard on multiple fronts all week – getting tools and materials, making connections, physically putting in lots of work, and also moving forward with business related things. So, thank you everyone for helping make al this good stuff happen – I appreciate you!!

If you would be interested in joining a team working on a FOM house project in Indy in 2020 please contact me at j.dorsey23@gmail.com.

Intersectionality is a dead end…but there is another way

Intersectionality is a dead end

Intersectionality is an ideological dead end. This doesn’t mean that the concept of intersectionality is devoid of truth or that the practice of intersectionality can’t do good. Studying and practicing intersectionality can broaden your mind and better your interactions. By saying that intersectionality is a dead end, I mean that it can’t get you where its proponents want you to go. You can enjoy glorious vistas on a road that stops short of your destination. And if you are on a road that won’t get you to where you want to go, the sooner that you realize it and turn around and get on the right road the better.

Defining Intersectionality and its hoped for destination

Ijeoma Oluo explains intersectionality in her New York Times Bestseller, so you want to talk about race (Seal Press, 2019). It is a well written book. And Ijeoma is a thoughtful and respected proponent of intersectionality. In Chapter Five she covers “What is intersectionality and why do I need it?” She begins with a story that highlights that black womanhood is not valued and concludes: “nobody marches for us when we are raped, when we are killed, when we are denied work and equal pay. Nobody marches for us” (p. 74). I join Ijeoma in her grief and anger at that fact. And I share with her a longing for a just society where every person would be valued as having inestimable worth and irrevocable status. We share that goal. We both want to get to that destination.

Ijeoma goes on to define Intersectionality and its importance in her work: “Intersectionality, the belief that our social justice movements must consider all the intersections of identity, privilege, and oppression that people face in order to be just and effective, is the number one requirement of all of the work that I do” (p. 74).

Ijeoma notes the various identities each person has, and that we aren’t capable of cutting ourselves to pieces. Each part of our identity makes up the fabric of the whole of us: “Each of us has a myriad of identities – our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more – that inform our experiences in life and our interactions with the world” (p. 75). These parts of us can’t be erased or denied: “I’m a black woman, each and every minute of every day – and I need you to march for me, too” (p. 75).  

Ijeoma’s says that the many identities that make up you need to be seen, recognized, respected, and affirmed, for justice to be done.

“I’m a black, queer woman. If I’m harassed on the street, I don’t know if it is because I’m black, if it’s because I’m a woman, or if it’s because I’m queer. In fact, it may be all three reasons at once. But many of our social justice movements would fail to consider the ways in which our multiple identities interact or intersect…As a black, queer, middle class woman, my queer identity may often be overlooked by anti-racist or feminist movements; my female identity may be overlooked by anti-racist or feminist or queer movements; and my middle-class identity may well cause me to overlook poor people in all movements. And when that happens, none of them can really help me or many others.”

For Ijeoma, a just and inclusive society, is one where each person’s many identities are seen, respected and valued. These include race, gender, class, ability and sexuality. Consequently, intersectionality should be applied to more than just our social justice efforts. “Our government, education system, economic system and social systems all should consider intersectionality if they have any hope of effectively serving the public” (p. 77). Intersectionality should be the lens through which every person and every institution view and interact with the world.

Ijeoma acknowledges the challenges to make intersectionality a prominent part of our interactions. Intersectionality slows things down, brings people face to face with their privilege, decentralizes people who are used to being the primary focus of their movements, and forces people to interact with, listen to, and consider people they don’t usually interact with, listen to, or consider. If you don’t make intersectionality your lens, she warns that though you may make progress in helping some people, you will become the oppressor of others (78-79).

In sum, Ijeoma contends that intersectionality should be the ideological perspective by which we live as individual people and as institutions. Its goal is a just society. To use my metaphor of a road, intersectionality is the road that leads to the destination of a just society.  

Thesis

I share the same goal, I long for the same destination, as Ijeoma: a just society, where every person is valued as one who has inestimable worth and irrevocable status. We want to get to the same place. Still I am convinced that intersectionality is a dead end. It just can’t get us to the destination.

Intersectionality is a dead end for two reasons: first, it stops short of affirming individual particularity and consequently gets mired in collectivism.  Second, it misses the right road of affirming inalienable personhood.

Only Christianity offers a view of identity that affirms and empowers both individual particularity and inalienable personhood.

Intersectionality falls short of affirming individual particularity and consequently gets mired in collectivism. It can’t take you to the desired destination.

Intersectionality rightly recognizes that each person has multiple identities or many parts to their identity. But it doesn’t go far enough in affirming every person’s radical particularity, their unique individuality. It gets you going in the right direction. It gives you the impression that it can take you all the way to the goal. But it stops far short. Let me explain.

Proponents of intersectionality are right to point out that our identities have many parts: we are differentiated by our gender. Our race and culture are identity markers. Our physical, mental and relational ability are integral to our identity, as does our economic class and sexual orientation. To this list we should include personality, one’s family of origin and history as important threads that weave together to make a person’s identity. Intersectionality rightly encouraged us to see, recognize and affirm these different parts of a person’s identity. However, it stops short of seeing and recognizing a person’s individual particularity. It gets stuck in collectivism. For all its attempt to affirm the intersections of identity, it actually misses the person.

Consider just how hard it is to see and affirm the identity intersections of just one person. Let’s start with gender. Women possess an XX chromosome and men have an XY chromosome. For centuries society differentiated children as boys and girls, men and women. Today there is a strong movement to affirm “gender fluidity” and recognize and celebrate the gender a person identifies with, even if that gender is different than the biological chromosome they possess. Whatever you think and feel about gender fluidity, most people recognize that within the categories of male and female, there are as many expressions of gender as there are people. Add to this the complication of seeing and affirming a person’s sexual orientation, and you can see how easy it is to miss a person on the relatively simple categories of gender and sexual orientation.

Well, you say, this is the point. Intersectionality takes time and hard work. You have to slow down, really listen to and see a person. True. Let’s consider another part and shaper of identity: personality. Personality is less visible than gender. It is below the surface. It takes a while to discover if a person is an extrovert or introvert (Myers Briggs personality profile, a high D or a high I or a high S or a high C (Disc personality profile), Melancholic, Phlegmatic, Chloric or Sanguine. Though less visible, personality flavors every part of who we are. It matters in how we receive and communicate information, and it definitely should be a factor in how we interact with each other. It too is an intersection.

How about race? Race is a significant part of our identity. But race isn’t monochromatic. Even within race, there is incredible diversity. In their public school my kids learned to distinguish light skinned and dark skinned African Americans. You could be a black man from the hood or from the burbs. Both contexts influence identity. We can’t stop there. What about the intersection of a person’s culture? Culture includes one’s mother tongue, religion, economic status, and ethnic history. Think of the diversity of identity even within a shared culture. Take America for example. A twelve-year old white girl from Appalachia will have a very different cultural identity than a privileged daughter of Manhattan socialites or Hasidic Jews in Queens. The cultural piece of identity is significant and should be affirmed.

Still we can’t stop there. How can we minimize the place that one’s family of origin has in identity formation? The quip that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and the chip doesn’t fall far from the block are common ways of asserting that our identities are profoundly formed by our families of origin, including the invisible wounds of the heart that we all carry. If we minimize the family tree of a person we miss important parts of that person. You can’t really see or know a person without knowing their history, their story. I could go on. I think you get my point. Each person has a singularity – a radical particularity – a unique individuality that is theirs alone.

While Intersectionality takes steps in affirming this particularity, it stops short of declaring that each individual is distinct, marked by their name. Their name is the sign and symbol of their particularity. It stands for them. A named person is not fully seen until all the threads that make up their identity are recognized. But this is impossible. No one – not even the person themselves – can fully grasp their complex individuality. I’ll argue later that only God can. Nor can we, apart from the love of God, dare to stand alone in the singularity of identity, fragile as we are. Instead we group ourselves in collective units to find security for our fragile self.  

Intersectionality leaves us in the dead end of collectivism. Let’s go back to Ijeoma’s self-designation of the intersections that make up her: “I’m a black, queer, woman.” Black refers to her race, queer to her sexual orientation, and woman to her gender.” But even within these three groupings, there is vast diversity. She doesn’t mention that she is a middle-class American who lives in the twenty first century and who was raised in Seattle, although in other parts of the book she mentions these facts. She doesn’t indicate what her personality type is. And while in her book she does share some her traumas caused by micro-aggressions and her mom’s inability to understand and affirm her blackness, she doesn’t include this in her descriptor of herself. Rather, Ijeoma notes the intersections of her identity by mass groupings: Black. Queer. Woman. But to really see her is to know her full complexity, her story and her wounds, her history and personality, her great strengths and struggle as a named person: as Ijeoma Oluo. She can’t even fully know herself. Neither can you or I.  As Nietzsche said, we are hidden even from ourselves. Only God can fully see her and know her

Grouping people into collectives and securing our own identity in a collective is our default because we are insecure. We are too insecure to stand alone and apart from all others in our radical particularity. And we are not God; it is impossible for us to fully see, recognize, value and affirm the radical particularity of each person we come into contact with. Our mind naturally puts people into collective categories. While this is a natural and necessary act due to the number of people we interact with daily, at best it reduces unique individuals to generic groupings, at worst it becomes a prelude for exclusion and oppression. Intersectionality fails to affirm the glorious diversity of each person. The road of intersectionality stops short of the destination.

Intersectionality neglects personhood. It is the wrong road altogether.

My first critique of intersectionality is that it doesn’t go far enough in affirming the unique individuality of each person. My second critique of intersectionality is that it fails to affirm personhood and so misses the right road altogether.

If our end goal, our destination is a just society where every person is valued as one who has inestimable worth and irrevocable status, and if Intersectionality can’t get us all the way to that destination because it stops short in collective identities, we should ask if there may be another road we could take. There is. That road is the affirmation of personhood. The framers of the Declaration of Independence put this road this way: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Rather than dissecting the varied identities that compromise a person, the authors of the declaration affirmed the status of all, regardless of whether they were male or female, black or white, rich or poor, etc. When they said “men” they did not mean just males, but all men and women. When they said that the status of personhood was “self-evident”, they asserted that every person had inalienable rights. Affirming the inalienable status of personhood, is the right road to valuing every human.

Affirming personhood has the advantage of simplicity. When you relate to another person as a person, you look beyond their skin color, sex, social status, personality, history, wounds, family and culture.  You can see them as a responsible person, and treat them with honor and dignity, respect and worth based on the personhood God confers on them. That personhood conferred by God can’t be erased by anything they have done, anything done to them, or any default in them. If God their Creator endows them with the inalienable rights of Life and Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, who are you to take away their rights? If their status of personhood is irrevocable, who are you to revoke it?

But that is precisely what we do. The road of particularity may not go all the way to the destination.  The road of affirming personhood may go to the destination. But that is no good if it is not traveled. It may be the right road, but what good is the right road if none, or only a few take it. The tragic history of humanity bears this out.  Just consider the way that racial groups – Native Americans, blacks, Japanese during WWII – have been treated in America. Consider your own practice: instead of seeing each person you interact with as having irrevocable status and inestimable worth, you probably notice the things that make him or her different, you focus on the things that make him or her an outsider from your group or acceptable to your group. You include people like you and exclude people different than you.

Why?

While personhood is the foundation of identity, it is just that, the foundation. It is not what we see. We see what makes a person different, what sets them apart. We gravitate towards people who are like us. We move away from, take advantage of, or attack people different from us, whether that difference is moral, political, religious, social or ideological. One advantage that the road of Intersectionality has over the path of personhood is that it encourages us to see distinctions and affirm collective groupings. But as we have already observed, that road stops short of affirming the full particularity of the other, and those collective identities become the basis of exclusion, rejection and alienation. The road of personhood may go to our desired destination. But that doesn’t help if we don’t take it.

Personhood is a road that can take to get to our destination of a just society. But if no one walks it, what good is that road? There is an ancient, proven road that millions and millions of people have walked that affirms both inalienable personhood and individual particularity. It is a road that can lead to a just society.  The road of Christian identity affirms both personhood and particularity. It is the only road to a just society that values each person as having inestimable worth and irrevocable status and empowers its pilgrims to dare to be the particular person they are.  

The ancient and well-traveled road of Christian Identity

I will keep this section short. I have written extensively about Christian Identity in my book The Name. The salient points are as follows:

  1. First, Christian identity affirms both individual particularity and conferred personhood. It celebrates that God hand crafts each person using the threads of gender, sexuality, personality, culture, family, history and even our traumas to make each of us a distinct, one-of-a-kind original. It also affirms that God confers personhood. We are all made in his image. No one can erase or revoke our status as persons before God. And nothing we do can compromise that status either. Only Christianity holds both personhood and particularity as essential elements of every person. Our identity is received from the hand of God.
  2. Second, Christian identity empowers us to embrace our particularity and accept our personhood. If God confers personhood, it can’t be revoked. We have solidarity with every other person as image bearers, as sinners, and as those who are loved by God. Every person deserves to be treated with inestimable worth and irrevocable value as a person made and loved by God. We can dare to be the unique individuals we are because God knows us and still loves us. He knows every thread, every part, of our identity. There is nothing hidden from him. And through Christ he has proven his love for us by sending his son to redeem us, not the pretend us but the real us, warts and all. Being loved by God through Jesus Christ, frees us to be the originals that God intends us to be.
  3. Grace is the foundation of Christian identity. Grace is the act of God. It is not a human possibility. The practice of intersectionality is a human possibility. It is a new moralism, an ethical path with rules and transgressions, guilt and shame. But God’s grace creates a new identity that smashes our pride and removes our guilt and heals our shame. We are not saved by who we are or by what we do but by God’s gracious act in Jesus Christ. The Christian is a person who has bottomed out and come to the end of himself or herself and owned his or her need for salvation and trusted in a Savior. The deconstruction of pride by faith in Christ as Savior, creates an identity that is freed from pride based in self-salvation through moral performance, the guilt of failing to keep the law, and the shame of being seen as one who has fallen short. Intersectionality can only bind and condemn the conscience of those who try to keep its ethical path but fail; or it fills those with hubris who imagine that they are keeping its commandments, leaving them to hold in contempt those who fail. But God’s grace humbles the heart and makes one a recipient of unconditional love. From this foundation, a person can now love their neighbor and even their enemy as they have been loved.
  4. Christian identity is a universal way. It is God’s yes to all people. You don’t have to be smart or rich or of a certain ethnicity to have faith. You don’t earn grace by moral performance. You can’t buy it or lose it. It is received by faith, by dependence on a Savior. The door of faith is open to all. Millions and millions of people have found in grace an identity secure in God. They have experienced the joy of receiving their personhood and particularity as a gift from his hand.
  5. The Christian way leads to a just society. Christians are learning to treat every person as an image bearer, worthy of dignity and honor. And Christians are beginning to take the long road of really seeing, knowing and affirming the radical particularity of the other person, as one who displays a splinter of the glory of God that no one else can. By this I do not mean that Christians are doing this perfectly or constantly. No! We regularly fall short. But in halting and faltering steps we are walking in the way of justice: of relating to every person as one of inestimable worth and irrevocable status. One way this is lived out is by the grace of forgiveness. There is no act more humanely impossible and more necessary to treat another person with seriousness and dignity than the act of forgiveness. The command to forgive those who sin against us is laid upon every Christian as a solemn duty. To shirk it is to reject our Savior and leave the way itself.

Help us launch a social purpose business that creates relationships across racial divides

In Identity Mapping terminology, a “collaboration project” is when you are stepping into your calling but need others to help you do it. Here is a big collaboration project that I’m stepping into and need help accomplishing. Already many people have stepped up to help. My church, Redeemer Redmond, has given $2,500 through our deacon fund and Mercy, Outreach and Justice department. Redeemer’s deacons are also taking a special offering for this project. My brother Jed raised 3K through a Kickstarter campaign. A friend (and her daughter) donated $1,500 for a new computer, and each team member is doing what they can to raise funds as well. So we’re off to a good start!

On September 12, 2020 a team from my church in Redmond and a few other friends will travel to Indy to launch a social purpose business called Faith of a Mustard Seed, or F.o.M. The business owner of F.o.M. is my friend, Donteau Gladney.

The mission of F.o.M. is to create relationships across racial divides by (1) mobilizing volunteers to renovate homes and (2) empowering African Americans by home and business ownership. Our first project is to finish restoring a house owned by Donteau on the near west side of Indianapolis that will be used as the home base of operations for F.o.M. It is 90% done. We hope to finish the last 10%.

We can’t plant this seed without the help of others. Here are some very specific ways that you can collaborate with us.

Support our Team on the worksite

The following our some specific ways that you could help our team on the worksite:

  • Provide dinner for 20 people on Tuesday 6pm at worksite.
  • Donate or loan tools (contact Jason 317.209.6768 for more info).
  • Provide (1) air mattresses, (2) sleeping bags, and (3) pillows for team members who will be sleeping at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Indy.
  • Jump in for a day or two to help on the worksite: Sunday afternoon (Sept 13); Monday (Sept 14), Tuesday (Sept 15); Wednesday (Sept 16); Thursday (Sept 17).

Help us Raise 10K $8,500 for business startup funds

We are seeking to raise 10K to build a solid business foundation. Those monies will be used for the following things:

  • Purchase Quickbooks financial recording and reporting
  • Hire Accountant
  • Purchase domain and one year subscription to Square Space, a website platform
  • Purchase quality camera for photographing and video footage of work crews and for high quality images and videos for other promotion and marketing
  • Purchase laptop computer to run web site, communication, marketing, etc.
  • Hire emerging Indianapolis filmmaker, Tremayne Reed, to tell story of Donteau and F.o.M. for marketing and fundraising

Help Us Raise 30K $25,500 to complete renovations of F.o.M.’s Home Base

These monies will be used to complete the following renovations:

  • Replacing exterior siding and painting the north side of house.
  • Repairing retaining wall and basement foundation
  • Installing flooring
  • Installing appliances in two bathrooms
  • Installing trim and painting inside the house
  • Landscaping back and front yard
  • Purchase of tools
  • Install lighting
  • Hire a professional contractor to oversee job

How to Give

I’m very thankful that the deacons at the church I pastor, Redeemer Redmond, are supporting this trip financially as well as taking an offering to help us raise money for the business start-up costs and to finish home renovations listed above. You can give to the F.o.M. project by writing a check to Redeemer Redmond, or giving online. These gifts are tax deductible. Every penny will go towards the launch of F.o.M.:

Write a Check to Redeemer Redmond, the church sending the team, by check:

  • Write check to Redeemer Redmond. In memo line put “Indy Project”
  • Mail check to PO Box 1482, Woodinville, WA 98072

Give to Redeemer Redmond, the church sending the work team, online:

  • Go to Redeemer’s web site: http://www.redeemerredmond.org/
  • On home page of web site choose “Online Giving button”
  • Or you can go directly to our subsplash giving app here: https://secure.subsplash.com/ui/access/2FBHJM#/
  • Input the amount of money you would like to give and press “next”
  • If will ask for your credit card information, enter that
  • After entering your credit card information, the next bar down says “Fund”. Press that bar. You will be given three options. Do not choose “general fund” or “deacon fund”. Choose “Justice Indy Trip”
  • Please designate this as a one time gift.

If you’d prefer to give directly to F.o.M. you can do so here: https://www.ourfomfamily.com/

You can also give through my brother Jed Dorsey’s fundraiser for this same project on facebook go here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/307322680359319/

Meet Tiffany Clark: Faith of a Mustard Seed Launch Team Member #7+

We are super excited to have Tiffany Clark joining us in Indy. I met Tiffany when I served as a pastor at Green Lake Presbyterian Church and she was a college student at the University of Washington. We reconnected a couple of weeks ago when she bought a painting at Jackie’s Big Art Sale and had a great talk on the phone. As she shared her gifts and passions I went out on a limb and invited her to join the team going to Indy to launch Faith of a Mustard Seed. She’ll provide business and economic questions for this new social purpose business. As you read this interview, I think you will understand why!

Tell us something about yourself? What do you do? What are you passionate about?good at?

Let’s start with the easy question – as far as skills: I can still throw a frisbee with both hands and nearly always have one with me.  My superpower is sitting with people and listening to their stories. There are very few people whose stories don’t fascinate me and I am fortunate that most of my adult worklife has been about listening to people’s stories and finding places of connection. I am currently both an MBA student and have been in my industry for 18 years. As far as passion, I believe in understanding that each of us reflects a different piece of God’s infinity. We ought to be curious about people in our path because they reflect pieces of God that are foreign to us. I don’t care how well you know a person, if you can’t be awed by the way they are uniquely created, you are missing out.  We each bear God’s image differently So, unless we are curious about each other, we miss an opportunity that is bigger than just this moment. We miss that small piece of eternity in our path. We miss that piece of our Creator. To borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis – each of us is ultimately an immortal horror or everlasting splendour and it is a gift to walk together.

How did you get connected to the F.O.M. project? What do you hope to bring to the project?

I am still learning about the project but Jason and I were visiting after Jackie’s art show and the project reminds me of other projects I’ve gotten to be a part of over the years. I have ended up with different connections to Indy over the years – some of them surprising! And I look forward to having a better answer to this in the future.

What challenges do you see as a business leader thinking through economic development and biblical perspective?

Before I answer this, let me just say that along with the challenges I see a hope for waste places to be rebuilt in families and communities. I see a hope that conversations about economic identity and community development can happen without fear or apathy. We are not in those times and that challenge is huge but let me explain a little more.

Often when we start talking about the Bible and economics, people shutdown. So much of the decay and fear we see in our cities and in our culture revolves around economic identity. Historically, those with resources and power have been the ones to write history, to build cities, to decide whose voice matters. The ideals that are upheld outside the church are of wealth, power and privilege. In the church, you see a lot of confusion. We fund and run our churches through those things but aren’t those things bad? As a church, we repent of racial injustice. We repent for condoning abuse. We repent for not loving our brothers and sisters as we ought. But do we repent of our economic sin? The way we use our resources in our communities against our brothers and sisters and stir up strife? The way we use resources to hold family members hostage or to win people to our side?

As a business leader, I long for the day when communities are built because we see the different gifts that individuals bring and we form business and community to rebuild cities and families by knowing each other’s gifts in a way that allows glory to shine through the work of their hands. I long for a day when rather than seeing each other as threats, we can see an opportunity to build fuller and more vibrant businesses because we have been built up and encouraged by the gifts of others. I long for a day when businesses in our cities are woven into the fabric of our communities in ways that stick – reflecting the hands and feet of Jesus and pulling each other along by loving each other well.


Tell us more about how you hope to change business in the future.

This is a really fun time to be in business. There are conversations being had that have been decades if not centuries in the making. When I started my MBA my goal was to change the way economic identity is discussed today. Eighteen years into a career I never could have imagined, I find myself believing that business can be done differently. Through my studies, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to the stories for quite a few start-ups and companies that are working to develop their identity and change business. I’ve met founders who changed the ways they did business by acknowledging the humanity in their people after decades and I’ve seen really powerful people lose their privilege overnight. My hope for the future is to enable people to have better conversations about the fears and burdens of economic identity so that they can make better decisions. Ultimately if we are driven solely by our fears or limitations, it will be impossible to thrive. More than anything, it is living in a way that allows others to thrive which I hope to bring to business in the future.

SEVEN…The team going to Indy and God’s answer of my prayer

A couple days ago I wrote this on facebook:

“A month from today, on September 12 seven men will join me in Indy to plant a mustard seed to build friendship across racial divides by working on a common cause: to empower African Americans through home and business ownership.

Our pilot project is the restoration of the house owned by Donteau Gladney to be the base camp of the social purpose business he and I are starting called Faith of a Mustard Seed, or F.O.M. I wrote about that here and about the genesis of this dream here.

I want to introduce the men who are planting the seed to you. And I want to invite YOU to join us as the seventh man (for the Saturday-Thursday work project) or just join us for one day of that project.

Jed Dorsey

My younger brother Jed has been at my side as a brother, friend and follower of Christ from the beginning. Back in about 2010 Donteau worked with Jed on some house painting jobs. Besides being a professional artist, Jed has 20+ years of experience as a professional house painter. His wife Renae and daughter will be visiting Indy that week too but probably not helping on the work project. I’m super thankful to have Jed on the team planting this first seed.

Jim Gibons

Jim is the Director of Mercy, Outreach and Justice at Redeemer Redmond. He has three great kids and works at Nintendo. Jim has a warm and winsome personality, a deep love for people, and a heart for doing mercy and justice. Jim tells me that in his past life he was a house painter. It’s awesome to my good friend Jim on the team.

Dave Lane

Dave is an elder at Redeemer Redmond. Dave works at Microsoft. He and Cheryl have three children. Dave is very good at fixing pretty much anything, as a Jack-of-all-trades, so he is going to be put on jobs where we have no idea what to do. He plans to join us after he drops his daughter off at college. I’m super excited to have Dave with us!

Jordon Lewis

Jordon is the Youth Coordinator at Redeemer Redmond. He recently graduated from the University of Washington with a Political Science degree. I don’t know what Jordon’s construction skills are but I do know that he is a hard worker and a great guy. Super glad to have him joining us. I’m looking forward to introducing Jordon to Indy!

Dismas Smith

Dismas is a long-time friend and member of the Redeemer Redmond congregation. He and I have been doing ministry together since 1988. Dismas is an international coffee figure, is a terrific cook, has a heart for God and people and is a wonderful conversationalist. I’m sure some of those skills will come in handy on our trip. It’s so great to have my faithful old friend, brother and fellow warrior strapping on the sword with me once again.

Kourntey Zahn

Kourtney lives in Indianapolis with Faith and two or is it three beautiful children (I’ve lost track). He is also the owner of Masonry Outfitters. I got to know Kourtney when I served as pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Indy. At that time, Kourtney was transitioning from being a youth pastor to starting a new masonry business. That business has taken off. Kourtney’s team will be working on some foundation issues in the house, pro bono, as a gift!”

[Please keep Kourtney in your prayers. Yesterday he had a bad bike accident and shattered his elbow. So we’ll see what Kourtney will be able to do.]

Then I wrote, “You?

I am praying that God would raise up one more man to join us on this trip. It’s a big commitment of time and money. We’re asking these men to pay for their travel to Indy. Once there we’ll provide them with housing and food 😊.

It’s also a big commitment of time to take almost a week out of your life to serve in this way (Saturday, September 12-Thursday, September 17). But the cause is good, the potential is great, and the friendships forged worth all the blood, sweat and tears.Would you join us for the week?

Or if you can’t give a whole week, would you come by for a day to put your shoulder to the plow and work with us? We would love to have your help for a day or two. Anything will help.If you have any questions email me (j.dorsey23@gmail.com) or message me.I look forward to seeing who my God will raise up to join us.”

God’s Answer

When I wrote this I did not know how God would answer my prayer. I didn’t know that Kourtney Zahn would get in a bike accident and shatter his elbow. And I didn’t know that the SEVENTH PERSON would not be a GUY but a GAL and that she was already

Renae Dorsey (and Willow!)

I knew that Renae was going to accompany Jed to Indy and visit with friends. But I didn’t think of her as part of the team since she wasn’t going to be a part of the work party. But today we talked and it sounds like her, Jed and Willow will be staying with us at Redeemer and she said that she would help us with laying out breakfast, and the food to make our lunches. I’m also going to see if I could talk her into an hour or two of mentoring Jai’Onn, Donteau’s son, in setting up the business since she has so much experience with her and Jed’s art business. That would be amazing!

You?

If you are interested in joining Donteau and I and this team of SEVEN work on Project #1 in Indy (Sept 12-17) we have room for you. Just reach out to me and let me know how you can help (j.dorsey23@gmail.com; 317.209.6768). Next week I’ll be putting out some practical ways people can collaborate with us on this project.

Donteau and I look forward to creating and building friendships as we work together on a common cause!