Double Standard

A statement written by Pastor Dennis Solis for a community action group committed to racial justice | January 11, 2021

This past Wednesday, January 6, 2021, we all watched in shock as an angry mob stormed the United States Capitol with the intent to intimidate our elected officials into overturning the results of our 2020 presidential election.  By the time they were done occupying the “people’s house” many parts of the building had been ransacked or damaged, and at least five individuals are now dead.  Whatever your persuasion politically, this act of insurrection should be completely rejected by all citizens of the United States!  

Our prayers are with all those who lost loved ones and we also must recognize Capitol Police Officer, Brian D. Sicknick, who lost his life defending our Capitol.  This should never have happened, especially when you consider the parties responsible for it, starting with President Donald J. Trump.  This was a monumental failure by the President and those who joined him in inciting people to violently overtake the Capitol Building. 

Americans have many questions about what transpired on that day.  Why was the Capitol Police Force taken by surprise? Where was the National Guard?  Why weren’t they deployed sooner?  How could intelligence miss or ignore the glaring red flags all over social media sites?  And what we saw in real time begs another question… Why the double standard?  Over the past year we have witnessed the tension between law enforcement and protesters across the country.  Americans have observed hours of footage that captured the clash between police and Black Lives Matter protestors.  What is so striking is the difference of force used against people of color compared to the predominately white mob that rushed the Capitol.

You just had to have eyes to see.  I wasn’t looking for it in my initial shock, but there it was.  This hostile mob was allowed to break in and stroll through the halls of the Capitol.  With each breach they were empowered to the point of attempting to break down the Chamber doors where our congress men and women were in session.  By now all of us have seen the images of rogue individuals sitting in Chamber seats where, just moments before, Vice President Pence and other officials had been sitting. Our congress people have stated that they feared for their very lives and believed that they might not live to see tomorrow.

Does anyone honestly believe if this mob had been black the treatment would have been the same?!  In some instances Capitol Police were filmed posing for selfies with the perpetrators!  At times you can see some of them treating the rioters like tourists.  Why?  Where does this come from?  What is this double standard?   

America, every storm, every crisis, presents us with an opportunity to see who we really are and the work we still need to do.  From the embers of this moment we can, if we will look and see, become better by becoming honest with ourselves.  Equality is still only an ideal for us, and until we make it

reality for all, we are living off the rails of true freedom and democracy.  We must address our past with frankness, with humility, and with an unflinching commitment to do what is decent and consistent with our ideals.  None of us are free from responsibility. All of us have a part to play in this grand experiment called Democracy.   Until we have eyes to see this and find the will to live up to our ideal, peace will elude us, and sadly, shock will become the new normal. 

This is one of those times when reality has been on display for all of us.  We’ve been exposed.  It’s time to see what is plainly before us. We at STAND Up for Black Lives + call upon every community, city and  state, and those entrusted to represent the good will of our people, to end this double standard; confront the reality of racial bias and systemic injustice, make the changes necessary, and help America fulfill its aspirational vision. 

Sermon for December 9, 2018

CrossPoint Community Church

Pastor Dennis Solis

Theme: The Advent Season- The Gift of Others

Scripture:  Phil 1:3-6 (and various texts)


Phil 1:3-6

It seems to me that one of the goals of a church/fellowship, is to nurture relationships in such a way that it would make it hard for any of us to imagine life without each other. 

When a congregation of people is living well in God, the bond it shares will be strong and hard to break.

And I think it’s because, when we are interacting in the right spirit and state of mind, we will see each other not as burdens, but as gifts.

I am here to be a help to you, you are here to be a help to me.  We all help each other.

I kind of liken it to a pitcher and a catcher.  If you have ever watched an MLB baseball game…you will notice how the catcher works with the pitcher’s pitches.  They call it framing the pitch.  A pitcher will throw the ball and when a pitch lands outside the supposed strike zone, the catcher will subtly move his mitt and position his body to help the pitch look like it’s in the strike zone.  In other words he tries to help his pitcher succeed, accomplish his goal.

We all need help in our quest to know and follow God. Its part of God design that we would be helpful to one another, that we would hit the target like a pitcher and a catcher work together to do.

In our hearts, when we are understanding this we will see each other as gifts and each one of us will make it our objective to be a gift to my family in Christ.

So this morning I want to share a few Scriptures that will help us, if we apply them, to be the kind of gifts we are meant to be to each other.

I asked that Philippians 1:3-6 be read because I think we hear in Paul’s words an attitude that sees others as  a gift when he says-  “I think my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel…”  No doubt Paul was a missionary evangelist and so he is giving thanks that they have responded to the call of God to believe in and follow Jesus, but Paul also understood the need for long term investment that believers are to make toward one another if they are to fulfill this partnership in the gospel. So from Paul and other Scriptures here are 4 key things we have to understand and excel in to help each other realize the goal of God for each one of us

All of these things are important, so just know I ‘m not trying to communicate anything by the order in which I give them.

The first thing we must do to be a gift to each other comes from Proverbs 27:17-( Read Text) I hear it saying- Be a part of each other’s Critical Growth

By critical, I mean, important, I mean, the hard complicated areas of maturity that must be reached and transformed in us.  This text communicates friction and a measure of pain when it comes to our growth.  If we truly want to help each other we must be willing to experience and go through moments, even seasons , of discomfort as we try to understand the will of God for his people.  In God’s plan we are supposed to love each other enough to submit ourselves not only to the affirmation we give each other, but also to the challenge we present to one another through dialogue and through the tensions and conflict we can sometimes create for one another.  Some people run away from this.  They think that real fellowship is a place of constant comfort and peace, but that’s not real, you might create a personal world where that is all you will accept as long as it’s in your power to do, but that’s not where critical growth happens. It happens where we are sometimes pushed and exposed and corrected and made to have to forgive and/or change our actions and even our views.    You see, a well-informed Christian understands that we all come to this place as “sinners on the mend”.  Yes, God forgives us and starts the change process, but even in the cleansing Jesus does, there is so much dirt and residue and so many opportunities to let the dirt, off thinking and living, seep back in, so no wise Christian would think they bring only purity to the dynamics of fellowship or life.   Recently I watched a western movie that had a scene with a prospector.  Have you ever watched a prospector pan for gold?   What do they do?  They scoop up the mud in water…and swirl it around and around in their pan, and slowly the dirt disappears, to reveal any gold that may be on the bottom.  That is a picture, I believe, of our life in God, he is getting the mud out, no doubt, but it’s a process, go too fast and you won’t get to the gold.  So in the big picture, God gives us each other to be a part of the process.  I grow in the deepest parts of me by being committed to you so that through the ups and downs of life and through the give and take of learning from one another….we grow in our deepest places.  We help each other change through the joyful, painful experience of relationship building.       We all know that change is painful, so let’s not hold it against each other when we perceive each other to be accomplices to the change that God may be trying to make in us.  Few churches have taken the path that we find ourselves on CrossPoint.  I don’t say this to say “aren’t we something”, I say it to say to you who have felt uncomfortable and maybe at times have questioned your place here; part of what we give each other is both the struggle and the space to struggle with the things and ways of God.  None of us are experts in this, but all of us are here to help one another grow up, grow mature in Christ.   You my brothers and sisters have made me at times look in the mirror and see something I’ve not wanted to see….that was a gift from you….

The second thing we must do to be a gift to each other comes from Ecclesiastes 4:12- (Read text) I hear it saying- We must make every effort to be there for one another.

This text speaks of protection and support.

None of us want to feel alone.  I’m not talking about the desire to be alone, all of us have that to various degrees. I’m talking about that deep sense of wanting to belong.  All of us want to belong somewhere and to someone.  In Christ we belong to God and in God we are meant to belong to one another, to address that deep complicated desire to feel connected to others.

One of the ways we gift each other is by demonstrating that we do belong to each other.

It’s not about living off of each other, but living with each other.  It’s that sense a conscience-ness we have toward one another. It’s a commitment to be there when one of us needs the presence of others.  We won’t always bat a 1000 on this.   But we must keep mindful of our need to give support to each other.  Sometimes it may be material support, but often it is support for the troubles and tragedies of life.

Henry Nouwen,   a very influential Christian writer once wrote –

“When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend (Brother/Sister in Christ) who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend ( Brother/sister) who cares.”

Never underestimate how important your support of someone is in this fellowship.  I love the image of the text….try to break a lone strand and you might be able to do it, but gather around that strand, one, or two more, and the strength of the one triples.  And so it won’t be easily overpowered by what it is facing.    A support will be found that at a minimum gives a ray hope to someone, and at the most will help raise that person to new heights.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said an interesting things in his writing about Christian fellowship called – “Life Together.”  He said-

“It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated.”    Dietrich Bonhoeffer   P.100   Life Together.

I think he’s saying, unless we choose to share some of each other’s burdens I will merely evaluate our relationship by what I get out of it.   We all recognize the problem with that.

Keep working at it, CrossPoint.  Let us be there more and more for each other.

This may mean, help through a financial storm, it may mean trying to be present in some way when one of us is going through something… it may mean, valuing something someone else is doing in ministry by supporting them with your presence when they do it.  Whatever it is, see yourself as a strand that can braid itself around a fellow Christ-follower when support is needed. 

The third thing we must do to be a gift to one another comes from I Thess 5:11 (Read it) I hear it saying- Our words have the power to lift one another

We can apply this in various ways, but I want to concentrate on the power of our verbal encouragement.

You have a tool that allows you to give something important to people every day, without diminishing yourself in the least.  Many of us may have limited resources when it comes to income or even material goods, but all of us can use our words without fear of bankruptcy to encourage one another.  I’m pretty sure we don’t’ use them as much as we should.

But if we did, we would all be different.

I remember hearing Tony Bennett being interviewed on the radio And he was being asked about his success and the longevity of his career, and he said,    “When I was young, someone said to me, ‘ I love the way you sing.’ And that has motivated me to this day.” 

I was driving to the church a month or so ago, and I was admittedly pretty down.  I knew I was and I was trying to deal with it.  Just like some of you do.  And as I was driving I saw on the front lawn of a house some Halloween floats, I think it was a day or two after Halloween, and they were just a pile of plastic deflated on the grass….and I thought, wow that’s exactly how I feel!   And like some of you I survived that episode of down.

But hear me believer, when you make it a point to speak encouragement to someone, God uses you to breathe air back into their souls!   Sometimes you will, maybe without knowing it, lift them from a deep low and be a part of their strength to carry on , and sometimes without knowing it,  your kind, encouraging, positive, words may stay with them for years, and be a part of the motivation and inspiration that helps them accomplish good things. 

Some of us, maybe many of us struggle to speak positive/encouraging words into others because we don’t know how.  It didn’t happen to us when it should have.

I think this deficit can have two effects on us

  1. It can make us have a very low self-esteem.  The negative words (or lack of positive words) poured into us, stay with us and we are afraid to try because we don’t see our worth
  2. If we didn’t receive it or if what we received was bad, it can cause us to withhold from others, somehow believing we are preserving our own importance by not acknowledging the value, giftedness and good in someone else.  We may think since no one seems to trust me or value who I am, why should I trust anyone else or believe in them? The result being a hard heart, a harshness of spirit or a inability to praise someone else.

Jesus came to crush these attitudes in our lives.  He came to set us free by telling us that we are highly esteemed in the eyes of God.   Listen to the choruses we sing, maybe to a fault they express this….”O how he loves”….”You dance over me”, I am a friend of God” for example.

But this understanding is meant to free our tongues so we can build up our brothers and sisters and all those  we come in contact with!

Tell people you appreciate them. 

Express your thankfulness for what they contribute to your life

Remind those who are hurting of how much they mean to you

When someone does something good, thank them.

When someone does something not good, remind them of who they are and the great potential they have in the Lord

Find ways, daily, weekly to give people a lift.  Call them, write them, email them, Text them, visit them, greet them with words that encourage.  When you’re with them, be aware of the good they do and acknowledge it with thanksgiving.

Everyone who is a part of this fellowship should feel encouraged/supported and challenged with love to grow deep in God.  But hear me Christ-follower, your first priority must be to do these things for and to your brother and sister in Christ…be it for them!  Your first aim can’t be to have everyone else be it for you! That’s not how it works in the kingdom of God, faith in God understands the truth of “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  When that is our attitude, all, that is, more and more of us will look at our lives and each other and say,

“I can’t imagine my life without you!”


Statement On Separating Children From Their Families At The Border

Dennis Solis, Pastor
CrossPoint Community Church

24 June 2018 

As your pastor, as a Mexican American, as an American, and first and foremost as a Christian, I feel I must make a statement on the issue of Children being taken away from their parents.  For me to be silent would be to neglect my responsibility as a pastor, and honestly, I have been silent in the past when I should have spoken up about other things going on in our nation.  The danger, of course, in speaking up, is that those among us who might disagree with what I will say may label it as political propaganda.  As your pastor, I am going to ask you not to do that. But let me say a couple of related things first.

We are all political.  It’s time that our circles of faith admit and accept that.  Politics are about life and people, and as with all things human, they are moral.  So some policies created by politics are good and some are bad.  We know that.   Second, my first desire and priority, as I believe it is yours, is to let the Lord guide my views on all things moral and political.  So if you are upset by my statement, please remember I am trying to do what I believe pastors should do.  Nurture congregations to live like Christ in our world, which includes the volatile world of politics.

I believe as Christians, we should speak against any policy that separates children from their parents at our southern border.   Yes, I understand that there are people who will abuse the genuine concern that some have about this.  Yes, I understand that some people crossing our borders are abusing people from Central America, and will be a threat to American Citizens.  I am not advocating for them.  I agree we need to vet/screen people to determine as best we can someone’s purpose for crossing our border.

That being said, to have any policy that treats all people the same way is immoral.  We as Christians cannot lose sight of the fact that many of the people trying to cross our borders are desperate.  They, like all of us, want a better life.  They come to America, as did our ancestors, because they are trying to escape oppressive leaders and systems.  When our ancestors came to North America, they did not ask the millions of Native Americans (who by the way were called “Americans” by the Europeans that first came here) permission to come.

I know the answers are not easy, especially in our climate of division, but let us at least recognize the rottenness and cruelty of a policy that wants to punish desperate people alongside people with ulterior motives.  We can argue politically about whose action or inaction has created this result of separating kids from their parents or guardians.  But let us agree that it must stop.  If 1000, if 100, if 10 children have been taken from their parents because of a desire to teach adults crossing the border a lesson, or to make one’s political adversaries bend to a particular policy, or to enforce the law, then in this case to enforce is immoral.

I remind every “Christian” here.  You were not saved by the law, you were saved by grace.  That truth should influence every viewpoint we take.  Scripture teaches us that being merciful doesn’t come from a place of moral superiority, it comes from a place of awareness that I, like others, need mercy every day.

I end with a text from last week’s message.   Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father in heaven is merciful.”

In Christ,
Pastor Dennis

Intentional Diversity in Church Life: Optics versus Substance

A friend of mine attended a church where the pastor, from the pulpit, declared how glad he was that their large church was so diverse!  As the pastor spoke on, this friend, who happens to be African American, exchanged a look of bewilderment with his wife, also African American, as they continued to listen to the pastor exalt in the fact that a person of color sang the special before his sermon.

My friend and his wife no longer attend that church, and that congregation is currently going through a crisis.  They are wrestling with the fact that a number of the few minority families they had, have left their congregation.  How did this happen?  How could the pastor of this church be so mistaken about the diversity in his church?

To live in true diversity a church and its leadership must answer with a few key questions.  The first question is WHY?  Why do you want diversity in your church?  Once upon a time the rule was “be homogeneous!”  In other words, target a single cultural group if you want to grow your church.  No doubt some still live by this creed, but today the trend is toward diversity.  To be “politically correct” an institution must be diverse.  More of us want to appear sensitive, and dare I say it, not racist or xenophobic.  Besides that, we all know that every good Christian and pastor wants their church to grow, so if an emphasis on diversity will help my church grow, “I’m for it!”

But let me suggest, these can’t be the main reasons we seek diversity for our churches.  They are not the foundation on which healthy diversity will grow and take root in our communities of faith.  The reason we must seek diversity is because that is what love does.  As the human race, our past is one of estrangement, but now, in Christ, our present and future is to be one of re-engagement.  We call it “reconciliation.”  In fact, God says we have a “ministry of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:18).  God has made the extent of this reconciliation clear, “Love your neighbor.”  So to be a follower of Christ is to be reconciled to people, as well a reconciled to God!

Because love must be our motivating force, those seeking an authentic diversity will understand that it requires a commitment to relational and institutional change.  So, to be an authentically diverse family in God rather than a functioning / dysfunctional family we must seek diversity with justice!  Our problem is that we want diversity at a bargain price!  But true diversity is costly.  Short cuts around institutional change are not a part of the journey toward diversity, any more than diversity is a mostly white church that feels good about itself because it has an African American sister sing a special before the pastor preaches!

Justice means those who have sat in the seats of power and influence, whether that power is denominational or local church, will listen and hear the hard truths about our past failures and how those appointments to power were rigged through willful ignorance and flagrant racism.  It means they will not only listen and learn, they will also speak that learned message to God’s family.  They will lead God’s church to complete and sincere repentance, and they will make sure the whole family has sat in on the intervention of God so that we might be rid of our unacknowledged sin and be healed.

The healing means new voices at the table.  It means our Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American brothers and sisters will occupy those seats and they will help us experience a substantive diversity rather than a token one.  We keep looking for a way out of this.  But now, it’s time for our leaders to lead us out through the painful process that leads to diversity with justice.

This leads us to the second question.  Are you preparing for diversity?  Or, do you merely seek assimilation?  Our tendency is to think of diversity in terms of color rather than function and style.  We want the optics of diversity to be able to say, “Look how diverse we are!”, but not the shared power it demands.  When the church is truly diverse it will not only look diverse, it will reflect a rich cultural mix from top to bottom.  Why do we think diversity is the minority person doing, sounding and acting more and more like a white person?  That is not diversity, it is status quo America, and sadly, status quo Church!

A church that truly wants to be diverse doesn’t wake up one day and say, “Hey we need more diversity in the church, let’s put up a sign that says, “Everyone welcome”.  A church committed to diversity must stand at the mirror of critical reflection with open eyes and face its failures and ignorance, and ultimately own it.  It is a painful process, but it also leads us on a journey of holiness that deeply reflects the heart of God.  This first step of preparation is the hardest and most important.  It requires a significant amount of catch up education be given to God’s people.

This education must focus on our nation’s and the Church’s legacy of oppression and / or indifference when it comes to certain people groups, and it must also introduce our people to the many extraordinary role models and history particular to certain ethnicities which are often unknown in white communities.  This is the only way we can begin to change the toxic narrative ingrained in much of white culture–That narrative being a perspective that sees the problem existing within the other group.  Did I mention, this will be a painful journey?  I dare say, most of us settle for something less.

This leads to the final question.  How committed are you to creating diversity in your church?  When we started this journey as a church, we thought everyone would love it and want to take the journey with us.  But I find that most prefer to love it from a distance.  Very often, a church committed to diversity with justice will be loved from a distance.

Most Christians know that diversity is a good thing.  To know it, all you have to do is read the Bible!  Oh, you can do diversity without justice.  Many do.  In that model, you basically ignore the issues that keep flaring up in our society and you avoid the hurts and frustrations many people of color keep to themselves.  All this is done in the name of unity!  But honestly, that unity will only be for your white members and those of color who’ve gone through the process of assimilation, primarily through the conduit of middle class status.  So, let us seek a diversity with justice.  If not, we settle for a unity based on appearances.  Pastor, Christian, church, what kind of diversity are you nurturing in your fellowship?  Is it one of optics or substance?

Dennis Solis (CrossPoint Community Church)