Thursday, December 02, 2010

Heal Our Land

To view our culture with unfiltered eyes is to understand that the USA is in deep trouble. From the White House to the Court house to the church house to the ‘family house’, problems are more serious than at any time in this nation’s brief history.


People are asking many questions. “What is happening to this great nation?” “Where are the leaders of principle?” “Why are we debating right and wrong?” The question even comes, “Where is the church in this melee?” These questions will be addressed in one form or another in the days and years ahead.

Most people think that times are so bad because our economy is bad. Others think times are bad because crime is bad. Still others think times are bad because of our moral free fall. Sadly, all three (and more) of these are both true and bad, but sadder still is the truth that these are NOT the root of our problems; they are only symptoms from the problem.

My favorite chapter in the Bible is Acts 2. This chapter tells us about one of the most exciting and life changing spiritual awakenings in all of history. After the resurrection Jesus had returned to heaven, the disciples returned to prayer, and God came in such power that an entire community was changed.

In 2 Chronicles 7 we read the words of Jehovah God which say, “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from Heaven, Forgive their sin, and HEAL THEIR LAND.”

Our land needs divine healing, but how exactly does this happen? The responsibility for healing our land does not rest in the court-house but in the church house with the people of God. This nation was founded on Biblical principles and became the strongest nation on earth. The further we move from our foundation the weaker we become. Moving away from our foundation is only possible if “God’s people” move away from Him and refuse to humble, turn, pray, and seek.

Think about our communities and ask, “If God’s people respond to God’s call to be light, salt, and life in this place, what could be changed for the better?” Revival is needed. No one who has authentically connected with Jehovah God through Jesus His Son, has ever regretted it. Dear God, PLEASE heal our land!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Kind of Horn Blast

As I drove to the office today, I pulled through and bought that very nutritious meal for breakfast called “A sausage biscuit.” Now you will understand that this food cannot ride in your car to the office. In fact, I submit that if the biscuit arrives at the office with you, you have been very ‘neglectful.’
As I pulled out of the “What-a-burger” immediately I was stopped by a traffic light with cars both behind me, in front of me, and still attempting to get on the road beside me. When the traffic light changed to green (I was taking a big bite out of that mmmmm….mmmm biscuit) I took off only to hear the “honk, honk” (use your imagination) of the horn from the car behind me. Like most of us, I thought, “Why are they honking at me? What did I do?” Looking in the mirror, I discovered the car behind me was ‘waving’ at some friends who were going into What-A-Biscuit (GRIN) and was motioning for a car to get into traffic in front of them. In other words, the sound of that horn was a friendly horn and this spurred my mind (which rarely works right) into a thinking about the ‘sound of the horn and what it really means.’ Here is my disclaimer; these are only my general observations. There are exceptions & other interpretations, but what follows is worth giving some thought.
When you hear a ‘car horn’, what do you think and how do you respond? Aren’t you like me? We snap our heads around like “how dare you” and yet, the type of horn sound seems to mean a lot.
The “Loud & Long blast (LLB)” may mean many things including that the driver got up on the wrong side of the bed or it may mean that he/she is angry because you are breathing their ‘air’ driving on ‘their’ road or taking up space in their world. All of us have seen people who seem to think like this, the question is, ‘have we ever BEEN such a person.’ However, that long blast can also serve as a sound of “warning.” That LLB may be that we are pulling out in front of someone or backing into someone or even that we are going the wrong way on the road and about to cause an accident. Warnings serve to protect us.
The “Short & Repeated blast (SRB)” may indicate that the other driver had a fight with his wife before leaving home so he is irritated with whomever he encountered all day long. Sometimes this demonstrates a quality of impatience with others. You’ve seen them; no one is driving fast enough to suit them so they spend their day tapping the horn and ‘talking’ (putting it nicely) to fellow drivers who are inconsiderate of their schedule. However the SRB can simply be intended as a ‘reminder’. You are checking your email, talking on the phone, or dealing with the little ones at a Red light and the light turns green. The driver behind you has no intent of being mean-spirited about it so he ‘taps on the horn’ just so you will notice. When this happens to me, my head turns around (like I’m in Junior High and my manhood has been threatened) looking to see who it is who would ‘dare’ blow their horn at me (don’t look so ‘spiritual’ because I bet you do it too). Most of the time I am quickly embarrassed because the only thing that driver wanted to do was just remind me to look up.
Can you see the parallel between the horn blasts and our spiritual life? When people are attempting to speak warning, reminder, or even grace in our life, how do we respond? Do we always react by taking an offense (only to be embarrassed at our carnal response) or do we hear with our spiritual ears, learn, and respond?
In Revelation 2-3, our Lord repeated said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says…” May we hear the horn and respond correctly, making our Lord pleased.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

What is this country ‘coming to?’

While the title of this blog is not correct grammatically, it is an accurate question – PRACTICALLY! The news stories which we read and hear seem to strike at the very core of our existence. The courts (and some churches) in this land appear to have lost touch with reality and common sense.

For instance, I cannot imagine God sending HIS PEOPLE to a grave yard to belittle the parents of a young man who are attempting to bury their son killed on the battlefield. While it is true that America has and is taking the course of Sodom & Gomorrah and does need a course change; but does disrespecting and desecrating the internment of a fallen soldier accomplish this goal? It would seem to me that God is leveling judgment on America for many, many reason and in many, many ways, and God's people need to be the change 'agents' to right our course. That being said, we are also admonished to 'speak the truth in love.' This does not mean backing up from the truths which we are given in God's word, but neither does it mean to become 'mean spirited' to those who are hurting.

Another instance of the loss of 'common sense' is the story out of Tupelo, Mississippi. A lawyer 'refused' to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the USA (as is the custom) before court began. What gives? Ninth Grade "Civics" taught me that citizenship carries with it 'rights and responsibilities'. My rights are defined in the Constitution and my responsibility is to pledge my life to this nation. Honestly (and with common sense), you cannot have one without the other. Today, people seem "all about" their rights and really don't care to discuss the responsibilities which follow.

I asked "What is this country coming to?" If some old-fashioned loyalty to the founding principles, courage to go against the grain, and integrity to stand for 'RIGHT' (yes there is still a 'right' & a 'wrong'), then the grand ole lady we know as the UNITED STATES of AMERICA will pass off the historical scene like every other nation in history.

Sadly, this seems to be the desire of some in D.C. Right now, it would seem we are living the 'times' expressed in Judges, "everyone doing what is right in their own eyes." This will lead to decay, depression, and disintegration, before our very eyes.

May God's people rise up to become the 'Lights of Right' in our nation. May we illuminate the path so brightly that all can see the road we are on and the turn we need to make. "Lord Jesus, WE need a touch from you, TODAY."

Monday, September 13, 2010

We Noticed

While I don't necessarily consider myself to be a 'Political Mind', my mind has become increasingly focused on the adverse effects which the "Political Minds" of our day are having on this Nation which I dearly love. Recently I received an email with the following article being attributed to "Sherry Hackett", the widow of the late Buddy Hackett and a 'died in the wool' democrat. Reading this piece and its credited writer sent up my red flag so I checked it out.

It was actually written in August 2009 by Faye Parrish of Bunnell, Florida. Originally she is supposed to have sent it to several friends, but I am glad to say that it has NOW made the 'email run.' For anyone who has not received this small article, here it is. Thank you Faye, for reminding us!


 

"WE NOTICED"


President Obama:


Today I read of your administrations' plan to re-define September 11 as a National Service Day. Sir, it's time we had a talk.


During your campaign, Americans watched as you made mockery of our tradition of standing and crossing your heart when the Pledge of Allegiance
was spoken. You, out of four people on the stage, were the only one not honoring our tradition. YES, "We noticed."


During one of your many speeches, Americans heard you say that you intended to visit all 57 states. We all know that Islam, not America has 57 states.
YES, "We noticed."


When President Bush leaned over at Ground Zero and gently placed a flower on the memorial, while you nonchalantly tossed your flower onto
the pile without leaning over. YES, "We noticed."


Every time you apologized to other countries for America's position on an issue we have wondered why you don't share our pride in this great
country.. When you have heard foreign leaders berate our country and our beliefs, you have not defended us. In fact, you insulted the
British Crown beyond belief. YES, "We noticed."


When your pastor of 20 years, "God-damned America " and said that 9/11 was " America 's chickens coming home to roost" and you denied
having heard recriminations of that nature, we wondered how that could be. You later disassociated yourself from that church and Pastor
Wright because it was politically expedient to do so. YES, "We noticed."


When you announced that you would transform America , we wondered why. With all her faults, America is the greatest country on earth.
Sir, KEEP THIS IN MIND, "if not for America and the people who built her, you wouldn't be sitting in the White House now." Prior to your election to the highest office in this Country, you were a senator from Illinois and from what we can glean from the records available, not a very remarkable one. YES, "We noticed."


All through your campaign and even now, you have surrounded yourself with individuals who are basically unqualified for the positions for which you appointed them. Worse than that, the majority of them are people who, like you, bear no special allegiance, respect, or affection for this country and her traditions. YES, "We noticed."


You are 14 months into your term and every morning millions of Americans wake up to a new horror heaped on us by you. You seek to saddle working Americans with a health care/insurance reform package that, along with cap and trade, will bankrupt this nation. YES, "We noticed."


We seek, by protesting, to let our representatives know that we are not in favor of these crippling expenditures and we are labeled "un-American","racist", "mob". We wonder how we are supposed to let you know how frustrated we are. You have attempted to make our protests seem isolated and insignificant. Until your appointment, Americans had the right to speak out. YES, "We noticed."


On September 11, 2001 there were no Republicans or Democrats, only Americans. And we all grieved together and helped each other in whatever way we could. The attack on 9/11 was carried out because we are Americans. And YES, "We noticed."


There were many of us who prayed that as a black president you could help unite this nation. In six months you have done more to destroy this nation than the attack on 9/11. You have failed us. YES, "We noticed."


September 11 is a day of remembrance for all Americans. You propose to make 9/11 a "National Service Day". While we know that you don't share our reverence for 9/11, we pray that history will report your proposal as what it is, a disgrace. YES, "We noticed."


You have made a mockery of our Constitution and the office that you hold. You have embarrassed and slighted us in foreign visits and policy.
YES, "We noticed."


We have noticed all these things. We will deal with you. When Americans come together again, it will be to remove you from office. Take notice.


If you agree with this, please pass it on. If not, I'm sorry!

 
 

Finally, the only statement with which I disagree with Faye is her last one. "If you agree with this, pass it on. If not WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?" And in the words of that famous theologian, "That's all I have to say about that."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Lesson from President Obama

Most of the time I am completely silent (in print) about our country's leaders, because I am not a columnist, a commentator, nor a reporter. However, having watched Mr. Obama for these 2 years (which seem like a lifetime) and having read the myriad of 'pros' and 'cons' about his presidency, I have discovered one lesson which we would do well to understand.

Since he stepped onto the national stage of politics there have been many questions presented about him and few answers have been offered. While this is sad in and of itself, there is a specific 'chink' in his armor that continually rises to the forefront and should speak to every authentic believer in Jesus.

The question is this: WHAT DOES HE BELIEVE? Although this question is framed differently in the public press (I.E. Is he a muslin, is he a Christian, or is he an American, etc), the bottom line is that there exists great confusion over his religious beliefs.

The reason Americans question his beliefs is because people know that "We do what we believe and the rest is just talk." Read some of these thoughts as reported by "Yahoo News":


 

Nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, said they think Obama is Muslim, up from the 11 percent who said so in March 2009, according to a poll released Thursday. The proportion who, correctly, say he is a Christian is down to just 34 percent.

The survey, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center and its affiliated Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, is based on interviews conducted before the controversy over whether Muslims should be permitted to construct a mosque near the World Trade Center site. Obama has said he believes Muslims have the right to build an Islamic center there, though he's also said he won't take a position on whether they should actually build it.

In a separate poll by Time magazine/ABT SRBI conducted Monday and Tuesday — after Obama's comments about the mosque — 24 percent said they think he is Muslim, 47 percent said they think he is Christian and 24 percent didn't know or didn't respond.


 

Now before I am accused of 'picking on the president' let me be clear about the lesson to find in this. It seems to me that, by and large, rank and file people in America could be confused about those who 'claim belief in Christ' because of the same reasons for the suspicions of Mr. Obama.

Maybe this would be a good time for us to demonstrate our faith by 'living out the beliefs which we say we have.' Jesus' is call is always to follow Him and following Him means 'self-denial', 'selfless giving', and 'deferring to the Father'. This is a difficult lesson for Americans who have come to think that 'it's all about me.'

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

David Jeremiah’s Turning Point

Very rarely do I openly recommend reading a blog or subscribing to a particular newsletter. However, in rare cases I do. Dr. David Jeremiah is, without a doubt, one of the most prolific speakers, teachers, and writers of our day. He always seems to have a fresh word for God for all who hear and read. This morning (Tuesday, August 03, 2010) he released a simply, yet impacting devotion on the Turning Points email so I offer it to all of us. To take this to heart is to make a change in our lives. Let us never forget, "God desires to change us every day."


 

Tuesday, August 3

Twelve Feet of Criticism

Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because of the Cushite woman he married.
Numbers 12:1 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Recommended Reading
Numbers 12:1-9

In May of 1922, when the famous rescue mission in Chicago, the Pacific Garden Mission, had to relocate from Van Buren Street to 650 South State Street, a firestorm of criticism erupted. Some who had been converted at the old location refused to move. "Do you see that plank right there on the platform?" asked one converted alcoholic. "Twelve years ago my tears fell there when Jesus saved me." The reaction was so emotional that mission leaders wisely hired carpenters to take out a twelve-foot square from the platform and move it to the new location.

In church life and in our personal relationships, we can react strongly and critically at something we don't like. Often our response is more emotional than thoughtful, and we sometimes heap criticism on people who are themselves under pressure. We make their work harder.

When someone is leading or when they're struggling, why do people add to their burden by second-guessing their decisions? Our goal should be to encourage others at all costs. Get hold of your critical reactions, and prayerfully try to be an encourager.

Fault-finding is dreadfully catching; one dog will set a whole kennel howling.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Jeremiah 10:1-13:27

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How I Wished!

It is almost a daily occurance for me. Being subscribed to several 'blogging groups' within the Christian community delivers blogs to my email box. While I enjoy reading the thoughts of other, it seems that a common theme weaves its way through many blogs. Quite honestly, I am about to unsubscribe because of this theme. In writing these words, I understand that some of my 'friendships' might be stressed, strained, or separated. If this is the case, as much as it pains me, 'so be it.' The issue is Calvinism.
First, my objection begins with the name. Quite honestly, reading the blogs of the Calvinists semms to almost deitize a man. Admittedly, a deeply intellectual man who deserves study along side of the other 'church' fathers, however, his name presents no reason to 'bow' and possesses no special power.
My next objection is found in the premise that "if I'm not a Calvinist, then I do not believe in the sovereignty of God." Next, someone will say this; 'if you're not a Calvinist, then you're not saved.' How ridiculous. (If I sound angry, I'm not really angry, but I am highly frustrated.) Calvin has nothhing to do with salvation or the establishment of the truth of the gospel. He only interpreted what each of us interprets every day.
I'll end my diatribe with the Biblical thought about 'debating over debatable matters' -- as the Bible says, "DON'T"...When the doctrine of man (whether John Calvin, John Stott, John McArthur, or any other John) is lifted to being used as a 'point of fellowship' then we have misplaced our focus, faith, and followship.
Today the 'Gospel' is facing such challenging times that we do not need to created stumbling blocks which do not exist. My heart, my hope, and my prayer, is that the name of Jesus will replace John (Calvin) in communicae which are spread world wide because it is only at the name of Jesus salvation is found!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

‘I’ am still unsure

For the past year I have been diligently praying for the GCR Task Force. On this team of people are several whom I value as personal friends and I have a great deal of respect for those that I haven't had the privilege of knowing. Additionally, The concepts of 'great respect and admiration' pale in comparison of my feelings for our SBC President. He was a leader in Kingdom work long before he was elected to serve as SBC President. Additionally, Dr. Hunt continues to be a spiritual force for God and good in the world.

These words begin this blog (which few people will actually read) because "I" happen to be one that 'clearly understands' that we need a refocus and recommitment to the Great Commission but, at the same time, am unsure and unconvinced that the way to accomplish this is by simply adopting the GCR report. Proponents will counter that they are proposing more than just 'adopting the report' and that adoption will only be the first step. Hearing these words, it seems to this pastor that we can follow the guidelines of this report to the letter and spirit and find ourselves weaker than we have ever been. Honestly, I KNOW this is NOT the desire of the Task Force because their heart, one and all, is to see a Spiritual Awakening on the order of "The Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th Centuries" or the "Jeremiah Lanphier's Prayer Movement" of the mid-19th century. Certainly, the landscape of America and the world is in need of such a move of God.

All this being said, I remain 'respectfully unconvinced' that the recommendations before us will have their desired impact. For the past month I have received daily emails from men, who have been my models and mentors for much of my ministry life, stating their whole-hearted embrace of this report so I realize that my small opinion will not carry much weight or impact.

I am not one of the "Younger Pastors" who, at least it seems, have gripped a vision for a 'Great Commission resurgence'; rather, I am a 'not so young' pastor who, for years, has been praying and longing to see the church (and our denomination) return to the Great Commission vision of "Making Disciples." Additionally, this is the vision and the heartbeat which will carry me (and other 'not so young pastors') to their grave. Candidly, making quality changes which have been adequately thought and prayed through doesn't bother us, "not so young" types. Personally, the suggestion that to have questions about such sweeping changes in the SBC structure, Cooperative Program giving, and the like, categorizes me as one who doesn't want to win and disciple the lost is, at best, an insult and at worst, an affront. While this may sound harsh, God knows my heart, the only truth I am attempting to convey is this; it is not only the younger pastors who have the heart for Great Commission or Kingdom work, those who have given 25+ years in ministry have the same desire. Now hear my heart, this is NOT the time for us to fight but rather the time to listen to each other and discover God's plan for us. I submit that "Older Pastors" like "Younger Pastors" have indeed gripped the need for a Great Commission Refocus and yet see it from different vantage points. Sadly, it seems the discussion has been held by a few and dominated by fewer.

The bottom line for me is this; "We need a clearer understanding of what we ARE doing before we chart a new course to what we WILL do." Cooperative Agreements serve as "Exhibit A" of what I am attempting to communicate. I fear that many do not understand "cooperative agreements," their nature, and function. Yet, to vote to affirm this Report will mean the phasing out instruments which will be helpful in carrying out the Great Commission. Admittedly, these agreements may need to be revised that we can meet today's need as well as they may be renamed, but it would seem to me that to phase these agreements out without knowing what will replace them borders on irresponsible. With respect to the great men and women at the NAMB, most agree that since the "Covenant for the New Century" this Agency has struggled to fulfill all the responsibilities handed it. Yet, this agency still remains one which can make a difference for today and tomorrow in all sections of our country. Another question which, in passing, comes to my mind is this; if we release IMB from geographical limits will we do the same for the NAMB? Just a thought.

For me, the best thing about the GCR Report will be that conversations and debates, which we need to have, will be on the table for consideration. However, the convention floor will not accommodate the needed time for adequate debate. While I thank the GCR Task Force for their time and energy, it seems to me that we are moving too quickly to get it right. My prayer for us is that we learn from my 'grand-dad' who was a carpenter. He taught us to 'measure twice' and 'cut once.' May we walk slowly, measure our actions twice so we will only cut once. This will be a great beginning for the Kingdom.

Monday, April 26, 2010

GCR – From My Seat

It has been many days since I have written a blog. Quite likely, it is because my writing get into so few hands that what I write (or think for that matter) makes little difference. However, as I continue to watch, read, and listen to the debate over the GCR in Southern Baptist life, it would seem to me that we are about to box ourselves in.

Recently I read a message by the late Vance Havner and grinned at his words that sometimes we are like "an elephant with a blow torch in a room full of dynamite" and yet, it seems this is quickly becoming our position with the GCR. I, like 30,000 other Baptist pastors have listened to, downloaded, and printed out, the 'progress report' of the GCR task force given to the SBC Executive Committee. As I have digested the material, it seems to me that the focus on this report is to 'fixate' that which is not broken as oppose to 'fix' that which is in need of repair.

My prayer is that TODAY (Monday, April 26, 2010), as the task force meets in Nashville to finish the verbiage on the 'Final Report' that God will speak to this fine group of people to see the SBC from the eyes of the "rank & file" church. May God give intervene and give clear and concise direction to all of us.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's Going on

Today, one of my friends called me to tell me that something was going wrong on my blogger page. It seems that the link to my "Twitter" on this page was displaying all kinds of 'foul' language. Candidly, I went to my twitter account and checked out to block whoever was doing this. Come to find out, only the Twitter feed to my blog account was affected. So for now, I have deleted that feed to my blog page.
I wish someone could give me the 'thought-processes' of someone who gets their kicks in life by making things difficult for other people. During this week of spending time with my family, many-many good people have been encouragers, providers, and even helpers for our family as we morn the passing of mom. Yet, it seems there is always one in every crowd who feels the needs to be mean-spirited to someone for no apparent reason.
To whoever did this; I hope and pray that you will let your hack of my page be the last one. This was a distraction which I did not need today. My family deserves my full attention (as does other people with their families), and I hope you will become more considerate of others.

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