At a Loss



At a Loss

I sit here this morning

in the dark

at a loss.


I don’t understand

how someone can

support abortion legislation

but not support gun control

while children are being gunned down

every day in our streets, in our schools, in our back yards.


I sit here this morning

in the dark

at a loss.


I don’t understand

how someone can

support family values

when they hate “those people”

who also have families to support

and don’t want “those people,” (whose children are dying)

to enter our borders when this country

was founded on “give me your tired, your poor,

your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,”

and you have fourteen guns locked away in your closet.


I sit here this morning

in the dark

at a loss.


I don’t understand,

and I shed tears

for what this country could be:

welcoming, loving, compassionate

and safe for all children, unborn and born,

whether my children, your children or “their” children.

If we divide safety for children, the unborn or born,

mine, yours or theirs, why don’t we simply

tear down the Statue of Liberty, because it’s a lie.

Or let’s do what it says. After all,

we’re America, land of the free.

How long, O Lord?


Nine students shot on an Oregon campus by a man who had 14 legally purchased firearms. (

An 11-year old boy shot and killed his 8-year old neighbor with a 12-gauge shotgun because she wouldn’t let him see her new puppy. (

When will Christ followers stand up and say, “Enough!” When will we stop bowing down to the NRA idol and take a stand for the peace of Jesus?

We cannot serve both.

Our citizens and children have become soldiers in an invisible war – one we are unintentionally fighting in our own streets, our own school yards, our own back yards.

We need to stand up and say, “I want the right to live in a culture of safety. I want the right to live in a society unafraid.

I want to take back the “unalienable rights” proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence:

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 – That to secure these rights… it is the Right of the people to alter or to abolish, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We are the only industrialized country that continues to make firearms available to its citizens. Other countries scoff at our rising murder rate and equivalent rising household gun rate. Our insistence on arming ourselves does not provide safety, yet we continue to turn a blind eye to the truth. How long will it take for us to figure this out? When will we have eyes to see and ears to hear? When will we ever learn?

your jesus / my JESUS



Don’t make my Jesus narrow, weak and small

when you define what makes me saved. Away!

My Jesus saves through love and grace – saves all!


Your focus on exclusion’s your downfall;

these biases you have lead folks astray.

Don’t make my Jesus narrow, weak and small.


His power is a mystery, his call

does widen and expand in shocking ways.

My Jesus saves through love and grace – saves all!


You warn of sin and hell; it’s fear’s cliché,

while love, grace and acceptance you downplay.

Don’t make my Jesus narrow, weak and small.


Let all doors open wide; do not forestall,

for Jesus has unequaled agape.

My Jesus saves through love and grace – saves all!


My Jesus offers peace through Spirit’s stay.

He brings the universe to His doorway.

Don’t make my Jesus narrow, weak and small.

My Jesus saves through love and grace – saves all!

Little Parable, Big Lessons

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus



There was this rich man who had everything—purple clothing of fine quality and high fashion, gourmet meals every day, and a large house. Just outside his front gate lay this poor homeless fellow named Lazarus. Lazarus was covered in ugly skin lesions. He was so hungry he wished he could scavenge scraps from the rich man’s trash. Dogs would come and lick the sores on his skin. The poor fellow died and was carried on the arms of the heavenly messengers to the embrace of Abraham. Then the rich fellow died and was buried and found himself in the place of the dead. In his torment, he looked up, and off in the distance he saw Abraham, with Lazarus in his embrace.

He shouted out, “Father Abraham! Please show me mercy! Would you send that beggar Lazarus to dip his fingertip in water and cool my tongue? These flames are hot, and I’m in agony!”

But Abraham said, “Son, you seem to be forgetting something: your life was full to overflowing with comforts and pleasures, and the life of Lazarus was just as full with suffering and pain. So now is his time of comfort, and now is your time of agony. Besides, a great canyon separates you and us. Nobody can cross over from our side to yours, or from your side to ours.”

“Please, Father Abraham, I beg you,” the formerly rich man continued, “send Lazarus to my father’s house.  I have five brothers there, and they’re on the same path I was on. If Lazarus warns them, they’ll choose another path and won’t end up here in torment.”

But Abraham said, “Why send Lazarus? They already have the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets to instruct them. Let your brothers hear them.”

“No, Father Abraham,” he said, “they’re already ignoring the law and the prophets. But if someone came back from the dead, then they’d listen for sure; then they’d change their way of life.”

Abraham answered, “If they’re not listening to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be convinced even if someone comes back from the dead.” Luke 16:19-31 (TheVoice)

Jesus told this parable to the religious self-righteous and elite. It was meant to shock and awaken and teach.

The Beggar Lazarus

Notice Lazarus is described as pitiable. He lies outside the front gate of a rich man. He is covered in open sores. He must find it difficult to move since dogs lick his wounds. He wishes he could collect scraps of food from the rich man’s trash, but he cannot; apparently he has been chased away. But in death, he has received grace. He has been “carried on the arms of heavenly messengers” to Abraham, where he is embraced.

He probably has not been touched for many years. As a beggar with a skin disease, his culture has deemed him unworthy. He must beg for food. He was likely tormented by children and ignored by the wealthy. They may not even have known his name. But now, he feels no more pain. His body is whole. He can rest easy  in the care of a man of great faith .

The Rich Man

On the other hand, the rich man is not named by Jesus. He was clothed in a way that was symbolic of the Sanhedrin – the royal priesthood. When the rich man dies, he finds himself not with Abraham, but in the place of the dead. The term Jesus used was Gehenna, a valley where garbage and bodies of dead animals were cast. It was a graveyard where fire was burned all day long to keep the stench from reaching the city. (Jesus is recorded using this term in Matthew 5:22, 29-30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5)

The first thing the rich man does is feel fear when he recognizes that the beggar he used to walk past and ignore is with Abraham. The second thing he does is ask Abraham to send Lazarus to quench his thirst.

Really? Even in Gehenna, this Valley of the dead, the rich man still sees himself above Lazarus, who he wishes to send to do his bidding. But Abraham declines his request.

Again the rich man begs of Abraham to send Lazarus to his house to warn his brothers of their impending fate. He cannot fathom the tables are turned and Lazarus is the honored one. Even though it is in front of his face, his heart and mind have not changed one iota.

The rich man acknowledges his brothers ignore the prophets and suggest they might listen if someone returns from the dead to speak with them.

All of Us

Here’s the kicker: Abraham tells the rich man exactly what will occur in the near future.

They won’t be convinced even if someone comes back from the dead.”

Convinced of what?

That love and grace are the true Gospel.

And by the way, the beggar Lazarus is not named Lazarus by accident.

The brother of Martha and Mary will be the third person Jesus raises from the dead before he himself rises to conquer Death itself.

Will the religious leaders be convinced? Will Rome?

Will those who have concluded this is all mythology?

Will those who have determined they are right about Scripture and Law?

Will those who prefer accusation and division to love and grace?

Are you convinced enough to allow your heart and mind be transformed?


This post can also be seen at Church Set Free

Precious Prince



Patiently to me you beckoned

Years my soul distraught and burdened

You’ve become my daily anchor

Precious Prince, Beloved Savior


Day by day you lifted, lightened

Such relief has kept me heartened

Peace surrounds in utmost measure

Precious Prince, Beloved Savior


Dear to heart, grace is my viand

Everlasting love has pardoned

Anything which was my failure

Precious Prince, Beloved Savior


Transformation now has opened

Heart and eyes; my love has deepened

Grace and mercy no more meager

Precious Prince, Beloved Savior


Holding back has now been ruined

Giving love away has burgeoned

Seeing grace through your eyes eager

Precious Prince, Beloved Savior


Issues of Homosexuality and the Church

Susan Irene Fox:

Jarrett Banks writes truthfully of lavish grace, and of Christianity’s misguided attempt to disproportionately weigh sexual sin more heavily over others while blatantly disregarding the historical meaning of the word homosexual. This is a thoughtful, well-written, edifying piece calling for all of us to follow Jesus and “err on the side of grace.”

Comments have been disabled here. Please direct comments to Jarrett’s blog.

Originally posted on Downward, Upward, and Forward Behind Jesus:


I am a heterosexual male born in 1966 to Southern Baptist parents who raised me in a conservative farming community in northeastern North Carolina. I earned a Bachelor of Science degreefrom Wingate College, a North Carolina Baptist school, in 1988. I then attended The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky where Iearned a Master of Divinity Degree in 1992. After serving as a pastor for over ten years, I received my Doctor of Ministry degree from Gardner-Webb University in 2005. I was married to my wife of 26 years in 1988 and have two children. My son is 19 and my daughter is 17. I am currently ordained as a Disciples of Christ minister and am the senior pastor of First Christian Church in Farmville, North Carolina.

The only thing that sounds strange to me in the introductory paragraph above is the word “heterosexual.” This may be the first…

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Love and Fear



Like footprints in sand washed away by an incoming wave, fear, when allowed to be overcome by love, will be washed away completely.

God’s ocean of love, if allowed into the heart, will cleanse us of fear – the fear that cultivates hate, condemnation and division.

I am convinced God’s unfathomable, immeasurable, indiscriminate love and grace frightens some because it is uncontainable. I think the fearful know, once the free gift of unconditional love and grace is accepted, they must give away the overflow. And giving away love and grace and mercy and compassion to those considered sinners by the fearfully righteous is anathema to them.

You see, fear encourages fists. It fosters clenched jaws and closed minds. It sustains status quo. It deprives lungs of the Breath of Life and starves the soul of Living Water. It neglects the heart, letting it choke and wither. It incites a mindset of hostility.

“We must especially guard against simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil, or, if you will, only the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within.” Pope Francis

We must not be afraid of love. We must not be afraid of grace. We must not be afraid of mercy and compassion. These are ways of being which connect people, which place us in each others’ shoes, which allow us to know one another as individuals instead of groups.

Further, once the decision is made to surrender and accept this miraculous gift, the desire to bless others with the same becomes intrinsic. Hands open, jaws soften, minds become approachable, and the heart blooms. With the help of the Spirit, we see each other through the eyes of Jesus – the eyes of compassion.

Am I in that head- and heart-free space all the time? Heck, no. I’m human. I have days when I shake my head and roll my eyes at others humans who’ve been created by the same generous God who created me.

But getting up every morning and asking the Holy Spirit to arm me with the strength to produce His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) is the one of the most powerful prayers I can pray. It helps me get out of the way so God can use me for His purposes. It allows me to latch onto the peace He provides, and eagerly pass along His love, grace and mercy from His compassionate heart.

Also published on Church Set Free