Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Was Isaiah a Southern Baptist?

Was Isaiah a Southern Baptist? The obvious answer is no. But a better question is: would he be welcomed as a Southern Baptist leader? Or would he be marginalized as old school; out of touch; and the reason our churches aren’t growing? I get the impression from some pastors, bloggers and church growth authors that many would feel uneasy about Isaiah as a leader in the SBC. His messages were two negative, his lifestyle was counter-cultural, he didn’t speak about love enough, and he wasn’t a “statesman.”

While some eschew the prophetic voice, I would assert that it is the loss of the prophetic voice that is the problem. When I was a YOUNG Southern Baptist, it was the prophetic voice, which inspired me to repent of my sins and follow hard after God. What was it that energized the convention when Bailey Smith, Jerry Vines, Adrian Rogers, and W.A. Criswell spoke? The prophetic voice!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard “We don’t need to be known for what we stand against, we need to be known for what we stand for” than I would give a small fortune to Lottie this Christmas. Yes, we are to be known for what we stand for but we are ALSO to be known for what we stand against!!!

We are known for being one of the first emergency responders during natural disasters (at times more numerous than the American Red Cross). We are known for financing the greatest missionary force ever. We are known as “people of the book.” But we are also known for standing against the ills of society. We are known for standing against homosexuality, we are known for opposing the consumption of ethanol, barbiturates or other mind-altering drugs for the purpose of neurological pleasure, we are known for our stance against abortion. And I ask: Is this a problem?

It seems to me some would have us look and sound more like Oprah Winfrey than the Apostle Paul: that the ideal pastor is one who cusses or imbibes of alcohol; that he models his dress after the world and dances around sin. Yes, we are to love those who are in sin, however, refusing to boldly call sin sin is not love.

When we quote John 3:16 let us not forget John 3:19. We would be wise to remember that Romans 1 lays the foundation for Romans 6:23. May we never forget that the following verses are quick and powerful and INSPIRED: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” Now lest anyone think I am on some sort of crusade against homosexuality, I am not. In fact, gossip has split far more churches than homosexuality ever will.

What I am saying is: when we give a lost person the book of Romans let’s not apologize for chapter 1. Let’s not even insinuate to the world that we are somehow embarrassed by any part of the Word of God. Let’s proclaim it in all of its glory and power and life. Let the prophetic voice ring loud and clear in the pulpits of our churches again!!! A person in sin should feel uncomfortable in our church services…there should be a conviction of sin when one is in the presence of God.

The early church grew not because she looked like her culture but precisely because she didn’t; and she was persecuted for it. Perhaps our problem in the SBC (and evangelicalism as a whole) is not the prophetic voice but rather the loss of it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Living Flower

I am one who believes in giving flowers while someone is living. I have officiated many funerals and too often have shared things about individuals at funerals that I should have shared while they were living.

My wife is truly an incredible woman and I want the world to know of her virtue while she lives - she is an example to all and a testimony to her Lord. Thus, I share with the world the incredible woman who is my wife. There is not enough time nor words to express all she is, so I will try and be concise.

Perhaps there is no greater pain in the life of a mother than the loss of a child. And when we lost Jace Matthew in her womb she was the supreme example of faith and trust. While I struggled and still have dark times, she, through her tears and pain, taught me faith. She held on to Jesus and His Word with a tenacity that pit-bulls would admire. She not only had faith for herself but she gave faith to her husband.

I love my wife very much: I love both who she is and what she does.

I love what she does
As mother and as wife
I love how she offers
To others of her life
I love the gifts given
And the sacrifices made
I love her devotion
That never seems to fade

I love who she is
her heart and her soul
I love every part
That makes up the whole

I love her but I also admire her. Take the word of a man who lives with her, if ever there was a woman who is an example of Christian character, my wife is she.

Well, hopefully everyone who reads this will have another HERO in this Shadowland. And another example of Christian virtue, a testimony not shared at her funeral but told so others may see a living flower now.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Hulk or Batman?

The Hulk or Batman? Which superhero describes you when it comes to the environment? The Hulk is Big and Green. Batman has all sorts of gas-guzzling vehicles, which makes his responsibilities easier to accomplish. In the past 6 months Fox News has carried quite a few articles on global warming. Two that I found interesting are here and here. Both imply that global warming is not taking place to the degree some claim. Further, this article here implies even if it is, it is not the result of man’s actions.

Now before I am stoned with GREEN tomatoes let me be clear. I believe man has a God-given responsibility to care for our Creator’s creation. However, I do not believe the solution is to be found in the philosophy of Big and Green. In other words, I do not believe the government implementing policy on the environment is going to do much, other than expand government (BIG) in the name of GREEN. I am not much on expanding government.

EPA regulations seem to cost more than they are worth, and honestly I have been taxed enough. This past week our President mandated more governmental regulations on automobiles. Now our vehicles will cost more as government grows. The Hulk is getting bigger. And the sad part: the HULK usually left a mess in the name of Green.

I guess you could say I am more of a Batman when it comes to the environment. While Batman never littered he also didn’t let “global-warming hysteria” limit him in fulfilling his responsibilities.

Which superhero are you?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I have always been amazed by the sheer force of storms. The destruction that is left from the path of a tornado or the devastation from the force of a Hurricane. Storms have a way of destroying and devastating everything in their paths. Storms of life are no different.

Have you ever been abused or raped? Have you ever lost a loved one? A child? A parent? A sibling? A Spouse? Oh, the destructive pain of storms: the way they peel away the layers of protection around our souls; leaving our hearts vulnerable, broken and bleeding.

What hope do we cling to when we go through a storm? What do you say to someone going through one. We usually have no clue what God is doing in our lives through the storm. In fact, most storms I have been through have produced more questions than answers. So what are we to say when “bad things happen to good people.”

Honestly, I don’t know, sure I understand theological answers to the question of evil: 1) God has in view a larger picture than my world; 2) God will use physical suffering to bring about spiritual healing; 3) What seems bad may actually be for my benefit (a Tetanus shot seems bad but is beneficial); 4) We live in a sin infected world; etc. But honestly, I can’t say specifically WHY God allowed a certain trial, but two truths I know. And they both come from the storms Jesus went through.

The first we see in Matt 8 where a storm had brewed upon the Sea of Galilee. The disciples and Jesus were in a boat and Jesus was asleep. The storm was so intense that these seasoned fishermen were scared for their lives. They woke Jesus who proceeded to speak the words: “PEACE BE STILL” and the storm stopped. Miraculously, JESUS stopped the STORM. Truth 1 – Jesus can stop it.

And yet, in Matt 14 the disciples were out at sea again, this time without Jesus and a storm was brewing (vs. 24). And they saw what they thought to be a Ghost, but it was Jesus walking on water. Peter, spoke these words “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you.” And so it was and Peter began walking on the water to Jesus. Then he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the storm and began to sink. What happens next is most interesting. Notice what Jesus didn’t do. Jesus didn’t stop the storm, instead he reached out and pulled Peter up and walked with him through the storm. Truth 2 – Jesus will walk with us through the storm.

The obvious question arises: Why does God stop storms some days but not others? Why do some Christians live in luxury and others in poverty? Why are some healed and others are not? Why? I don’t know, other than to say – He is a good GOD!!! By Faith we Trust that!!!

Like everyone I have faced Storms and my Jesus has never let me down. NEVER. He can be trusted. Jesus cannot lie…He cannot do wrong…He cannot be evil. He is good and whether he miraculously stops our trial or walks with us through it – He will NEVER EVER LEAVE US. Hold on to Jesus – there will be times He is all you have and He will Always be all you need.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The True Prosperity Gospel

“Health, Wealth, Fame and Pleasure.” “Name it, Claim it.” “If you have enough faith God will heal you.”

We have heard the slogans and they call out to our hungering souls. Yet when we drink of this pseudo prosperity Gospel our thirst is starved. Nearly as dangerous as this pseudo gospel is the philosophy that God desires his children to live in misery. As Christians, we are tempted to polarize either toward ascetic masochism or the philosophy of physical merriment. Paradoxically, the true Gospel is one of prosperity: it fulfills our deepest desires, it fuels the flames of life, and satisfies the soul.

I have come to realize that sharing the gospel is as life giving as hearing the gospel. Living a gospel-centered life (God’s Perfect Will) is a life which FREES – a life which is LIFE – a life which is more than we can imagine. In dying we live. In emptying ourselves we are filled. In giving all we are, we receive more than we could desire.

Oh, the beauty of the paradox of the gospel-centered life.

At the bottom of a Philippian prison cell sat Paul and Silas. With mangled bodies and emotional torment they began to pray. Soon their spirits were raptured into the presence of the Ancient of Days. The joy of their spirits conquered the agony of their bodies and weariness of their souls. Before long they broke into a symphony of praise.

In the darkness of their trial Paul and Silas praised God. And their gospel-centered lives experienced LIFE. Their bonds were loosed – doors were opened - and morning was soon to dawn on a very dark night. As we live the gospel-centered life we are prosperous. And in our darkest hours, we can praise God for the coming morn.

While the pseudo prosperity gospel has nothing to offer those in trials, the true gospel ushers in the morning simply by praising God (James 1).

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing, fresh from His Word
(Words by Eleanor Farjeon, made popular by Cat Stevens)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

YOU LEGALIST: Name-Calling for Jesus

When I was in college I was told that viewing R-rated movies was wrong: "true Christians wouldn’t do such." I had some gentle:) discussions and sadly used the denigratory term “legalists” to describe those with whom I disagreed. I was wrong to use ad hominem tactics: doing such dishonored God and hurt the kingdom. Regrettably, such ploys are utilized in our SB disagreements today. Some choose to use the terms “legalist” and “fundamentalist” in an errant and pejorative manner when referring to sincere brothers who view Scripture differently.

I believe cussing is sin (even from the pulpit), I believe using ethanol or barbiturates for pleasure is sin, and I believe sodomy, even within the marriage bed, is sin. I don’t believe these truths because I am Southern Baptist or a Fundamentalist or one who thinks salvation is found in following the law (Legalist). Rather, I believe the Bible teaches such.

However, when I proclaim that I believe the Bible teaches these things, there may be some who feel "free in Christ” to castigate me as a legalist and/or fundamentalist responsible for the current problems in the SBC. Such name-calling tactics do nothing to bring glory to God. Further, I contend it is not the disagreements we have in the SBC that turns off the younger generation, rather it is the unwholesome way some choose to disagree.

If I were to assume that it is impossible for me to be wrong concerning ethanol I would display both an ignorance of human depravity and the arrogance such ignorance seeds. And yet, at this point in my diligent study I feel the Bible teaches abstinence; thus I teach it, hopefully with both a pastoral gentleness and a faithfulness to Scripture. For those who disagree, and believe drinking ethanol for pleasure is permitted by Scripture, I would stipulate the same: to assume that it is impossible to be wrong on this issue displays both an ignorance and arrogance. And yet, even if one were to display such, I would hope it would be done while refraining from name-calling.

NOTE: For those interested in the issue of alcohol let me recommend Peter Lumpkins “Alcohol Today: Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence” to be released by Hannibal Books on June 1. I have read it and WOW. Or you may review the numerous posts on this site during July 2006 – some of which are here, here, and here. Concerning it being a tertiary issue please read my previous post "My Thoughts on the SBC."

While we may disagree on this or other hot topics, let us do so in Christian love and intellectual integrity.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kudos to the GCR framers

This morning the GCR has added a FAQ section ( Kudos to the the framers of the GCR. This is Helpful.