Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right

Why is it so hard for people to admit wrong?  Pride I guess.  We perceive it as weakness.  We convince ourselves we're immune to making mistakes.  Oh, sure, we can readily see faults in others but we're blind to our own "log" (Mt. 7:3).  That's where I've found myself lately.

I have always been outspoken.  (Everyone reading this that knows me has just uttered a "no crap" or " think?" or "And the winner of the award for Understatement of the Year goes to...")  Yeah, well shut it.  This is my blog. 

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, Outspoken.  Passionate.  Opinionated.  Bold.  Even controversial at times.  And I don't in any shape or form apologize for it.  That's who I am.  I think the world would be a much better place if more people would call "a spade a spade" so to speak.  But that's not what this blog is about.

I recently posted a comment on social media that I wish I could take back.  (Don't bother looking - I removed the post almost immediately.)  It had to do with one of the many "hot button" issues our culture finds itself facing.  I won't re-state it here for apparent reasons.  First of all, posting it again would require another apology.  And if you read it and were offended, you know what it said.  No need to see it again.  This blog is for you, and hopefully will serve as a friendly word of warning to the rest of you.

What I posted was wrong.  It was crude.  It was written in jest, but the subject is no laughing matter.  Paul instructs us in Ephesians 4:15 to "speak the truth IN LOVE."  Any words we say (or text, or type), no matter how true, apart from love have no place in a Christian's vocabulary.

I grow weary of today's Christians, in an effort to not offend at all costs - even if it means denying the truth.  We tiptoe around controversial issues.  In our effort to make Christianity more appealing, more tolerant, more palatable, more inclusive, we end up with a tepid, vomit-inducing version of the Gospel that benefits no one (Rev. 3:16).  But the solution to this "limp-wristed" approach is not a "clenched fist."  Christ offers an open hand...a nail-pierced one.

I read once of a pastor who was approached by a woman who had spread hurtful words about him and his family, causing much grief and destruction to his ministry.  She admitted she had wronged him and sought his forgiveness.  The pastor forgave her but made one request.  He asked that she take a down-filled pillow to the town's busiest intersection, pour out all the feathers from the pillow, then gather them all back up.  Of course the task is next to impossible.  The wind carries the feathers in all directions.  So it is with our words.  Especially with today's technology, our words can travel the globe in moments like so many feathers. 

Proverbs 21:23 states, "The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble."  Words to live by. 

Now excuse me while I go chase some feathers.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You Can't Multiply Wealth By Dividing It

“Friend, you cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. And what one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government can’t give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody. And when half of the people get the idea they don’t have to work because the other half’s going to take care of them, and when the other half get the idea it does no good to work because somebody’s going to get what I work for. That, dear friend, is about the end of any nation.  You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

This quote is from a man known in our generation as "the prince of preachers," the late Dr. Adrian Rogers.  Dr. Rogers was a Southern Baptist pastor and conservative author who served as a two-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention. This quotation is part of God’s Way to Health, Wealth and Wisdom, a sermon series preached by Dr. Rogers in 1984.  Dr. Rogers went to be with the Lord on November 15, 2005, yet his words are timeless.  Application of the principles he passionately believed in are needed today more than ever before.

But Dr. Rogers' conservative philosophy is rapidly becoming the exception rather than the rule.  Our culture is being indoctrinated by socialism on multiple fronts.  Appealing to the emotions, this new generation of Marxist peddles the same mind-numbing mush that brought down the Soviet empire.  Thankfully, there are those who aren't buying it.  Here's one example:  

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class. 
That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”.
All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

I don't think it could be put any plainer.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Dangers of a Christian Education

There is a dominating, yet troubling opinion among many in ministry today:  a Christian education qualifies you for ministry.  In contrast, this same group would argue that the absence of a Christian education would therefore deem a person unqualified for ministry.  Quite frankly, I find this viewpoint flawed and damaging to the work of the church.  Here's a few reasons why:

1.  Was a religious education dominant among the Apostles?  Maybe the answer is obvious, but for the sake of argument, indulge me.  Scripture portrays Peter and John, two key players in the birth of the New Testament church in Jerusalem, as "ignorant and unlearned men" (Acts 4:13).  Unless I'm mistaken, the only two New Testament writers we know to have had any formal training were Luke (I'm assuming a physician, even in the 1st century, had some sort of advanced study requirements) and the apostle Paul. 

2.  Wasn't Paul the receipient of a religious education?  Absolutely.  The apostle Paul was arguably the most educated of all the New Testament writers.  By his own admission, he had received the best education from the best teacher, "at the feet of Gamaliel and educated according to the strict view of our patriarchal law." (Acts 22:3)  Yet Paul saw his ancestry as a circumcised Hebrew, and his entire life's accomplishments - membership in the Pharisee Club, scrict law-keeper, and best religious education as...essential?  Vitally important?  Of marginal value?  Not even close.

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."                                              Philippians 3:7-9 (NIV)

He continues his approach of dependency on Christ alone, intentionally suppressing his religious education, for fear it be a distraction to the cause of the gospel with the church at Corinth: 

"When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom.  For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power."
                                                                              1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (HCSB)

3.  The priesthood of all believers must be defended.  As Baptists, we claim to believe in this foundational doctrine.  According to the SBC's Position Statement on the subject:  "Laypersons have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, interpret Scripture, and minister in Christ's name."  The idea that only the educated elite can adequately engage in ministry would make Martin Luther role over in his grave.  Maybe we need to re-nail his Theses to the door of the Church!  Luther, the great reformer, rightly argued for the priesthood of all believers, challenging the Catholic idea that life as a monk or nun was a special, holy calling, and therefore superior to the life of an average citizen.

Precious blood has been shed by martyred saints to overthrow the concept of spiritual superiority.  Men and women were burned alive, beaten, skinned, torn into, beheaded...all the while standing in righteous resolve against the idea of an elite, educated few acting as the Gatekeepers of Grace.  

I am a strong proponent of a religious education.  I wouldn't be enrolled as a student otherwise.  I think Williams Baptist College employs some of the finest educators in the nation.  Some of my dearest friends and fellow servants of Christ have received doctorates in the field of religion, and yet recognize their calling and qualification for ministry comes not from a diploma on the wall, but from the equipping of the Holy Spirit.  I also know many men and women who have served God faithfully, impacting the Kingdom of God in a profound way, without the benefit of formal religious training.  Heaven will be filled with those who accepted the Good News of redemption through the message of ordinary men and women with no religious education, yet fully equipped to carry forth the message of the Cross.

Remember, God doesn't call the qualified.  He qualifies the called.  Jesus Himself left the enormous task of the Great Commission in the hands of untrained commoners.  Do we dare to attempt to subvert His plan?

May the Church unleash the ordinary to do the extraordinary work Christ intended. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why I Choose to Vote

There is an undeniable and legitimate disgust with today's political system.  Corruption has infected every area of government.  But is the answer found in withdrawal?  Should Christian people retreat from the political arena completely?  I leave you to answer that yourself.  I choose to participate in the privilege of voting.  Here's some reasons why:

1.  I vote for the unborn.  There were approximately 1.21 million abortions performed in the U.S. in 2008 (source:  That's 3,315 murders per day - equivalent to the annihilation of every man, woman, boy, and girl who are residents of Hoxie, AR.  By the time you finish reading this blog, 12 babies, created in the image of God, will be procedurally put to death...without a voice.  They will never vote.  But I will.  I personally believe it is my responsibility to vote. There are no perfect candidates. There are no perfect parents, perfect drivers, perfect students, either. That doesn't keep us from raising kids, driving our cars, and striving for an education. Proverbs 31:8 instructs us, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute."  Voting is not the only way to speak up, but it is certainly one way.

2.  I vote for the family.  I am not homophobic.  I believe, however, the future of any society rests in the preservation of God's design for the family.  Call me naive and out-of-touch, but I believe there are forces at work in society, hellbent on the destruction of traditional family.  The unacceptable by God's standards has become acceptable in today's culture.  Will my vote alone stem the tide?  Not a chance.  But I will not lie down and surrender.  I will not bury my head in the sand and pray it "all goes away."

3.  I vote for less government.  I don't see government as the solution.  Government quite often is the problem.  Just in the last 20 years, government has spread with pandemic aggression, usurping its tentacles into virtually every area of our life:  the rearing of our children, our religious freedoms, even the food we eat.  Under the current administration, the dependence on government has grown 23%.  Today, more people than ever before—67.3 million Americans, depend on the federal government for assistance.  Yet, for the first time in history, half the population pays no federal income tax. (source:  Like a drug dealer, Uncle Sam keeps handing out the "free samples," creating an addiction to his wares.  Government has a role to play, but it should be a small role.  I vote toward that goal.

4.  I vote because people bled and died to ensure me the right.  My grandfather, like so many others, fought in World War II against the tyrannical empires of Germany and Japan.  Their sacrifice preserved our freedom.  Billions of people everyday suffer oppression and persecution around the globe.  They have no rights.  They have no opportunity to voice their opinion in the voting booth.  They would gladly trade places with the disgruntled and disenfranchised who abnegate their rights to vote.

5. I vote because some things are worth fighting forI am not a pacifist.  If you threaten my family or my property, I will resist with force.  As a Christian, I feel my role certainly encompasses the demonstration of love.  I grew up in a loving home.  Hence, it was an environment with parameters.  My parents' discipline was a demonstration of their love.  It was active, not passive.  We are called to be salt and light:  sometimes stinging to an open wound, but healing nonetheless; offensive to dwellers of darkness, but revealing the path that leads to life. 

The registration deadline to vote in Arkansas' May 22nd Primary is April 23rd.  The registration deadline for the November general election is October 8th. 

   “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
                                    ---Dietrich Bonhoeffer    

Monday, January 16, 2012

Trusting in Oneself

"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else..."    Luke 18:9 (HCSB)
I grow weary of the extreme analyzing, the prying scrutiny, the suspicious scoffing that has become the norm in our Christian culture. Let me explain: a video is released, or a book comes out, and suddenly the "Doctrine Police" come out in full force. Don't get me wrong: I believe in "testing the spirits" (1 John4:1) to determine what is true. But in our effort to appear theologically superior, ...we end up eating our own. And to a world cartwheeling head-over-heels to an eternity without God, we have to appear petty and trivial.
I dare say that if you take one sermon from any Bible-teaching, doctrinally grounded man of God, pick and pry at it, look at his words and mannerisms under a microscope, and you will find something to take issue with. Why? Because you can't gain insight into a person's doctrinal core fully through one sermon. It is by this same approach that cults are formed: by plucking a biblical passage out of context.
I grew up in the home of an uneducated, yet Spirit-called man of God. In the days before Internet and the deluge of resources at our disposal today, he managed to preach and teach God's Word without beating up everyone who believed a little different than he did. His approach was simple: eat the meat and spit out the bones. Thanks, Dad, for showing me how to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
I pray this generation will some day see the value in this approach.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Blank Piece of Paper...

I sit here alone on New Year's Day 2012, staring at a blank piece of paper.  But what does that mean?  What does that represent?  Is it somehow a reflection of what I feel like?  So I began to fill the blank page with random thoughts...finding as many questions as answers, seeking to articulate the uncertainty of another new year, and the certainty of an unchanging Lord.

Emptiness.  I have nothing.  I recognize anew that the Source is found somewhere other than within me.  Yet if I'm honest, much of 2011 was spent scavenging on some leftover morsel of hope and direction I had tucked away for a rainy day.  Don't we all do that?  A song that ministers to us, a message that moves us, even a passage of Scripture that became a lifeline in a moment of desperation.  All these and so many more are tools God uses to speak to us, to help us and heal us when we find our ship slamming into the breakers of life.  But they were meant by God to minister at that particular point in time...for that crisis.  Like the nomadic Israelites wandering in the wilderness, our nature is to stockpile the manna of God's goodness - to trust in my ability to take what God has given me and distribute it into my life as the need arises, meanwhile ignoring the provision of God.  The result is at best a stale version of what He intended, while the fresh Bread of Life goes ignored.  Emptiness acknowledges my inability.

Hunger.  I need something.  Why is it so hard to admit our hunger?  We have created a spiritual facade in American Christianity where everything's good...hands in the air and a smile on our face...but most of what we're peddling won't sustain us to the parking lot.  Our people are hungry, but not for professionally-packaged fluff.  What few times I've fasted, something unforeseen happened.  As hours turned into days, the gnawing of my stomach subsided.  I thought at first I'd never make it, but sticking to a fast gets easier the farther into it you get.  Unfortunately, it's the same way with God's Fresh Presence.  The longer we go without feeding on Him, the less of an appetite we have.  While we grow weaker, we also grow complacent.  Lethargic.  Dead.  Paralyzed.  Hunger is a sign of life.  Craving God's Fresh Presence motivates.  Longing for more than spiritual junk food will compel us to action.  Like the four starving lepers in 2 Kings 7, someone needs to speak the truth today:  "Why are we sitting here until we die?"  

Anticipation.  God has everything.  There is an Answer available.  But we won't find it in books, at conferences, or last year's sermons.  Our friends don't hold it.  Mentors can't deliver it.  Pastors can't provide it.  The God of all goodness...The King of New Beginnings...The Creator and Sustainer of 2012 says clearly, "Come unto Me...Call unto Me...Cry out to Me." Anticipation is hope.  Anticipation is confidence.  It is contagious.  It is refreshing and satisfying. 

He holds 2012.  He also holds me.  My purpose, my peace, my opportunities of being used in Kingdom work are found in Him alone. 

Bring on 2012.  He's got it covered.

So much for a blank piece of paper...

Friday, August 26, 2011

I'm Tired

Blogs are supposed to be uplifting.  Especially in the Christian community, we use blogs to promote our ministries, proclaim our message, maybe even brag a little.  Not this one.  I just don't have it in me.  I'm just too tired.

I'm tired of pretending everything is going good.
I'm tired of painting on a smile.
I'm tired of being lonely, with no one to talk to.
I'm tired of my family's sacrifice.
I'm tired of waiting for a breakthrough.
I'm tired of people asking me how things are going, when most really don't want to know the truth about how things are going..
I'm tired of giving rehearsed responses to rehearsed questions.
I'm tired of being in a bad mood.
I'm tired of snapping at my wife, when it's not her fault.
I'm tired of being expected to give when I have nothing left.
I'm tired of trying to lead when I don't know where I'm going.
I'm tired of not living up to other's expectations.
I'm tired of not living up to my own expectations.
I'm tired of sowing and no reaping.

I'm tired. 
Maybe I need a nap.
If I could just find a juniper tree...