Monday, November 19, 2012

The Last Election???

The day after this National  Election, I posted this - kind of musing about the election & the implications - on Facebook....Candidly, I did receive a sharp rebuke - but that was expected and did not change my convictions - I still stand behind my words.  Actually these words are indeed moderated compared to my deep convictions.  Now, its weeks later and already we are seeing the fallout begin....My prayer is still, "God, save this nation from herself."

On Election night, Deb & I were driving back from a Revival meeting in the Bay St. Louis/Waveland area of Mississippi. We thought the trip was going well until about 7:50pm when our right rear tire decided to ‘blow-out.’ Not to worry, we’re fine but the tire was mush. After changing the tire, we thought about checking on the election results (we had cast our absentee ballot some 14 days earlier). 
Deb fired up the Ipad and we were stunned at the results which were coming in. Not wanting to believe the decision this country seemed to be making, I turned on the radio only to discover that we were indeed granting a second term to a President who supports everything which I believe this land was founded to oppose. While I may lose some friends over this assessment, like Martin Luther, “Here I stand, I can do no other."
Our President supports; Killing unborn children, government sanctioned immorality through homosexual marriage, socialism over a democratic republic, by-passing the Constitution when it pleases Him, as well as turning our back on the Nation of Israel. While there are many more issues which I could name, these are the ones which happen to come to mind.
Today my mind has been swirling as I have read literally dozens of Bible-believing, God-fearing preachers who have attempted to put the best leadership foot forward and remind us that while “A man named Obama is President a ‘god-man’ named Jesus is the King.” You’ll get no argument from me on that statement, because this is the only truth which gives me hope.
That said, we almost certainly have some difficult days ahead of us. God was still on the throne and Jesus was still King when God’s chosen people, the Jewish nation, couldn’t get along and divided into two nations. God was still on the throne when the Northern Kingdom & then the Southern Kingdom were soundly defeated and carried off into captivity. He was watching & ruling when Solomon’s temple & Jerusalem were destroyed & looted. 
It is one thing to recognize God is on the throne, but the call now is to step up to the cultural battle which threatens our very existence.
Today I read the following which speaks to the slide of our country & I believe it to be worth our time to digest:
In 1787 Scottish lawyer, writer, and Professor Alexander Tyler wrote what is referred to as The Seven Steps of Democracy. Each step follows a sequence that begins with bondage and ultimately ends right back where it started.
1. From Bondage to spiritual faith: The English colonists of the United States felt they were being oppressed, and began to inspire a spiritual and political awakening.
2. From spiritual faith to great courage: The religiously and politically oppressed colonists finally decided to rebel against England and take their independence.
3. From courage to liberty: The courage to start a rebellion led to a revolution against England, and ultimately a victory.
4. From liberty to abundance: After victory, we grew as a nation. We experienced an industrial revolution, and soon our country sat in abundance.
5. From abundance to complacency: As a country, we became complacent in our wealth and comfort.
6. From complacency to apathy: Following that, we began to lose our ability to care about what happened in the country, particularly in politics. We began to accept larger government in our lives, without much thought as to how it would later effect us.
7. From apathy to dependence: As the government grew, we began to rely on the government to take care of us and provide for us. We began to rely on social security, welfare, food-stamps, and other programs.
8. From dependence back into bondage: Out of this growing dependency, we will fall farther and farther down the rabbit hole, and find ourselves in Greece (I.E. Financial collapse, riots, social decline, and ultimately bondage). Then we are back where we started.
Up until now, we were at the tipping point; balancing on the edge of dependency versus independence. This was the defining election that would decide whether we stayed on the edge or slipped off the cliff. With the Obama win, we have now slipped of the cliff. Personally, I am afraid that the Professor is ‘right on point.
’On Tuesday evening as we drove toward home I thought about my tire ‘blowing out’ and felt as it our country had finally blown out. Candidly as a nation we have long been running on tires with no tread. As I continued to listen to the radio, I finally felt myself beginning to get physically sick so I turned the radio off. Arriving home around 1:30am, I didn’t turn on the TV or check on the Ipad for the election results as I was in hopes that it was all a bad dream. Waking up this morning, my bad dream was indeed a nightmare. 
Here we are; with the American hope – all but gone.“Dear God, Please help us find the strength in your word to stand for YOU and YOUR word. Help us not stand for our preference, but for the principles You give us in You Holy Word. Help us never let up, back up, or give up, in our desire to point people to You. Help us to humble ourselves, pray, seek Your face, and TURN from our wicked ways. Our friends may ridicule us, our families may turn against us, and our government may attempt to control us; but help us (no help ME) be YOUR voice in this world. We call evil good, good evil, and expect Your blessing. Forgive us of our complacency, our apathy, and our dependency on anyone but You. Restore the fire of Your Spirit in our hearts, Remake us in Your likeness, and Reinvigorate us to show this world Your heart.”
In her history, God has richly blessed this nation (or we wouldn’t be here). I pray that God has not changed His approach to dealing with this Nation; from “blessing America” to “Judging America.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Where's The Pig

A close friend of mine has expressed my sentiments exactly; "I'm Southern Baptist born and bred, one day when I die I'll be Southern Baptist dead.  When you cut me, I bleed the Cooperative Program."  This qualifier is placed at the beginning of this piece because it is important to me for any reader to know that I have been, am, and continue to be committed to the SBC.  While we are not truly a 'denomination', we are a collection of independent Baptist Church voluntarily bonded to each other for the purpose of sharing the gospel of Christ with all nations.  Arguably, the Cooperative Program has proven to be the greatest mission sending 'mechanism' ever created by mankind.  We have and can support more personnel on the mission field than any other body, group, or denomination.  My commitment to the Southern Baptist Convention runs deep as for over 35 years I have served in active, full-time vocational ministry.

Over the years we have had our share of problems.  (What follows is not nearly as much of a history lesson as it is my personal recollections)  Back in the late 60's and early 70's we were seemingly paralyzed about the debate over the "Pentecostals" with their 'emotional' approach to worship and "T" problem. (That'd be tongues).  Candidly, it was our fear of 'them' which caused us to not only miss the opportunity for genuine revival (I.E. Jesus People and similar such groups) but also caused, in large measure a form of worship which all but denied the pure emotion which accompanies an authentic encounter with Almighty God.  In many instances, we almost became, 'the frozen chosen' because even though we Worshiped Creator God, we did it with little personal response to Him.  This was a far cry from David, Isaiah, and others.

Toward the end of the 70's the huge issue about the Bible and it's inspired-divine nature came to a climax.  Fortunately, this theological ship was righted and the Holy Scripture was reaffirmed as God's Holy Word around which we can be saved and should build our lives.

With respect, when this battle was won the next struggle, as I perceived it, was a 'power play' to gain control of the convention.  Before this time, the elected leaders, as best I can tell and remember, were servants who happened to be pastors, church staff and lay-people (and not denominational workers).  These were elected to "serve' and they did so without self-promotion nor 'agenda' promotion.  This was before the days of  'pre-meeting - meetings' - you know the ones - the meetings to determine candidates, votes, strategies, and the like.  (It became 'kind of like' a "Party's Political Convention" and I'm already tired just thinking through these issues.)

Today the struggle we face, to put it mildly, seems to be what is called "Reformed Theology" and to put it directly, goes by the name, Calvinism.  Even as I write these words I know that responses (if anyone reads these words) will be swift, probably harsh, or possibly condescending. I will be called ignorant of history, the Bible, God, and even Jesus because, after all, it seems to me that John Calvin and his writings have almost replaced one of the epistles and maybe has taken the place of one members of the Holy Trinity and the very 'thought' that he didn't get it all right is beyond comprehension..  Make no mistake, I do view him as 'one' of many church fathers who deserves to be read, studied, and from whom we can learn SOME things.  While some of his teachings 'might' be good - he (like all men) makes a terrible God.  No one human that I am aware of should be raised to the heights to which he has been raise.

To be clear, I am not a follower of Calvin or Arminius, I am also not a non-Calvinist or Anti-Calvinist, and also I am not a non-Arminianist or anti-Arminianist.  Additionally, (with the recent designations) I am not a 'semi-pelagianist' or a full-fledged pelanianist. (The name-calling among Southern Baptist would be laughable, if not so sad.) I classify myself as a Biblicist and a Believer in Christ Jesus.  One of the questions to be answered  is this: If it is true that both groups preach there is only one way to be saved and that way is through the shed blood of Jesus, His death, burial, and resurrection, and that a person responds in faith to Jesus" - then what is the deal?  The Bible says, "With the mouth you confess and with the heart you believe" and 'Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'  John the Baptist spoke words about 'doing work in accordance with your repentance.  So am I to understand from my Calvinist friends that the people who have been led to faith using God's word are NOT SAVED because the witness does not ascribe to Calvin's Doctrines of Grace?  I could ask this same question about the theology of Jacob Arminius, but in point of fact, I don't know anyone who wholeheartedly follows his teachings.  But it seems to me this none of these are the real, underlying issues of our struggles as Southern Baptist.

Recently, with much publicity, pomp, and circumstance, the history channel showed what they considered to be a documentary on the well-known feud between the "Hatfields and McCoys."  The three night series was tough, hard, and vulgar; depicting these men as those who would pray in one breath, curse in the next, and in the next, without a second thought pull the trigger to end someone's life for little or no reason.  Folk-lore was played out on the movie screen as it depicts one of the main reasons for the harsh feud being a disagreement about a 'pig.' Sadly, 'Hatfields and McCoys' are not simply folk-lore and legend, they were real people going to court over a real 'pig,' and many were kill just because of the name they bore.
It seems to me, as a no-name, small-time, largely unsuccessful, pastor that it's always going to be 'something' among us.  The 'pig' keeps changing, but at least to me, the quasi-leaders of the SBC have determined to keep something stirred up among us.  Quite honestly, the average church member doesn't care about this debate until someone walks in and says, "God's grace is not for everyone."  Even in this age of Biblical illiteracy, most church members know John 3, Romans 5, Ephesians 2, and 2 Peter 3.  I understand that we can 'explain away' the 'whosoever's' in scripture, but somehow to do so troubles my spirit.

All of this debate, at least it seems to me, is not truly of the Lord.  And now the "Traditionalists" document has arrived.  Candidly, I signed the document because my personal beliefs are generally in line with the principles set forth therein (and yes, this document is only a starting point) but I also think the term 'Traditionalist' is not a good choice of terms.  This blog was begun before the document came out and is now completed in the shadow of its release.  Frankly, I once had a 4-point Calvinist as my Student Minister and did not attempt to change his doctrine (couldn't have any way, because he had a much more intellectual mind than I did) and frankly, he didn't attempt to change mine and yet we co-labored  together for several years and saw God do a great work.  By the way, I would be glad to have him back on my staff or, if the opportunity arose, I would be glad to work on his staff- if God called.

Having now read the blogs entitled, "What Traditionalists want from Calvinist" and "What Calvinist want from Traditionalists", my heart hurts.  From recent history and ongoing writings, the thought that these two groups will ever co-labor in peace is suspect if not a pipe-dream.  The real reason is this: "They don't want to."  If these two extremes were to ever get together, what would there be to blog about?  Can you imagine a blogosphere where the majority of blogs were positive, affirming, and reporting the grace of God?  What a thought.

Not that anyone (except me and maybe the Lord) actually cares, but - I'm officially DONE with this pointless debate.  Too much time and energy is given to an online discussion which will resolve nothing.  The Bible is clear enough for us.  We can be givers of the grace, the gospel, and our God without any "Institutes, Codes, Principles, or 'other' such documents."  But we won't.  The pig which is the cause of our division is our 'depravity' (yea I know, I can't believe I wrote that word either), we seem destined to argue with each other as if we have it all figured out, and no one does because we still see in a glass darkly.  The bottom line is not who is right and who is wrong, the bottom line is the 'salvation of souls' and the 'discipling of those transformed lives.'  But I do know who is right and who is wrong: Men are wrong and God is right.

As far as I'm concerned - THE PIG IS DEAD!!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

What Will It Take

Even though it has been several weeks ago, I am still reeling from the pronouncement by President Obama that 'same-sex' marriage should be legal.  His continued leadership away from Jehovah God is not at all surprising.  With every decision and word the President distances himself from the foundations of this nation.  There are those who attempt to refute that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, but those arguments fall short when anyone arrives at any of the national monuments constructed by our nation's fathers. 

Just one 'for instance' is the Supreme Court.  Go back a few years ago when these men and ladies, dress in black, told State Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore that he had to remove the Ten Commandments from His court house.  These Federal Judges issued this edict as they sat in front of a wall on which those same "TEN COMMANDMENTS" were chiseled in stone by our Fore-Father.  It seems that those men, our Fore-Fathers had an idea that, one day, this country would attempt to move away from God - and to them, this was unacceptable.  This is just one example but many illustration like this exist all around our Nation's Capital.

Back to the 'opinion' of President Obama;  again, no surprise that he is leading us away from God because His words, influence, and life seems to be directly opposite of what God's word teaches.  Here is the thing:  With him being a Muslim, how can he say such words?  The last information I have is that 7 countries still have the death penalty for homosexuality and all of these are predominantly Muslim.  It is not for me to say whether these laws are right or wrong as it is not for 'me' to say whether homosexuality is right or wrong.  These are not MY PERSONAL DECISIONS OR RULES.

When it comes to same-sex marriages, my opinion doesn't matter because God has already spoke to the issue.  Like it or not, "God said it - that settles it."  Oh I know, we may believe we are smarter than God, can make our own rules, and develop our own standards, but there will be a price to pay and God gets the last word.  No president, potentate, or person is smarter than God or can change God's principles for life and living.  We can only obey or disobey.

With respect to the President, what will it take for Americans to face up to the fact that his leadership is not good for this country.  We may not have liked 'past presidents' but, as Americans, our evaluations should not be given based on someone else's performance or someone we do or don't like, but rather on the individual's 'service' to our country.  This country is in dire need of good and godly leadership.  We need a true "Statesman" and not a "Politician".  (A statesman stands "for what is right no matter the personal cost" while a politician seems to 'stick his finger in the air, figure out which way the political wind is blowing and goes along to keep his power base.)

What is it going to take for us, as Christian voters, to wake up and step up.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wake Up, Believing America

The sad days in America continue to come. This time the place is in Cranston, Rhode Island. The topic: a prayer written by a student back in 1963 which has been hanging on the wall of the school since then. The objection: a 16 year girl who makes two claims. First, she’s an atheist and next, she’s offended by a prayer. The judge: Ronald R. Lagueux who, not surprisingly, ruled that the prayer must be taken down. The “REAL” players: The ACLU, who’s charter reads (paraphrase) “To protect the Bill of Rights” and probably should be amended to read, “To rid this country of any hint of the God of our Forefathers.”

Once again, an unelected (that means appointed) judge chooses to legislate from the bench and do it behind the veiled words of ‘protecting the constitution.’ Yet, it takes no legal scholar to recognize that the motivation is not to protect the constitution but to amend it, without proper procedure, to negate some of the very principles upon which our founding fathers ‘framed’ this document.

The weak argument exists that ‘Our framers were not Christian and they never intended to force people into any religion.’ It’s just me, but I wonder, in the last almost 50 years how, how many students has this 8’ long banner forced to trust God?

From his written opinion, the judge seemed to ‘observe’ that this community is decidedly in favor of keeping up this banner. So at what point, does “we the people” trump ‘me the judge?’ Certainly, this banner did NOT ‘make any law respecting an establishment of religion’ and to say it does is to question one’s ability to be reasonable.

I suggest that “we the people” read this First Amendment, commit it to memory, and then act on it collectively. Here’s the deal; the first phrase of this amendment is the ‘religion’ clause, but it may be time to act on and in conjunction with the last clause written in this “Right.”

The last clause gives us the right to wake up when something is amiss in our government and to “Petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

To all Americans, but specifically to those who are believer in God through Jesus, here it the question; “Do we really want a country with Jehovah God left out?” This is a very apropos question because it is happening before our eyes, on our watch, and while we watch. If we love our country, our children, and/or God’s church, it may serve us well to hear and heed the words of Romans 11.

Picking up in verse 13, it says in part, “It is high time that we awake out of our sleep, discard the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light.”

My eight grade science teacher taught us that you can drop a frog in a pot of water at room temperature, slowly heat up the water, and he will remain in the water until he perishes because he is unaware of the danger he is in because of the change in his environment (I.E. water to a boil). If you drop him in hot water, he will jump out, but the gradual nature of the heating water overtakes him before he realizes his situation.

My prayer is that we, as believers and citizens, will wake up and seeing the situation, will take action. The hour is late.

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