Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Outrageous Nonsense Of Misplaced Faith

Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? James 2:14-17 (The Message)

John MacArthur tells the story of a queen that went to the theater to see a drama and wept her way through the entire drama. From beginning to end it was pure emotion. This was in the time of the carriages in years past. And she went out to get in her carriage and it was a very cold and wintry night and she had left her coachman out there where he belonged. He didn't belong with her class. She found him frozen to death and according to her biographer she shed not a single tear over his death.

That is just like us. We get all emotional at a movie or a TV story. Dramas are supposed to fill us with emotions. Back when Top Gun first came out, the US Navy set up a recruiting booth right outside of the theater. I went to see a Movie with Patty a few years ago, and it was just pathos laden. I won’t tell you the name of the movie. It was what we would call a chick-flick. Every woman came out just boo-hooing. I had to wring the estrogen out my shirt. It’s fine to go see movies. I’m not preaching against movies!  But do movies and TV and the theater inoculate us from the crisis and desperation all around us? Yesterday I saw a commercial for Christian Children’s Fund. How many of us see the little kid in Africa, who needs a sponsor, and we become incensed or even angry at their plight, but we don’t give a second thought about the plight of our own neighbors. WHEN, church; when are we going to care more about the lost living within 5 miles of the church than we do about our wayward nephews and nieces, sons and daughters, and cousins living three counties over!? When are we going to stop playing acting at being a live, breathing, and faith filled Christ follower? When are we going to stop living in our fanciful, self deceiving, self centered, fantasy world, and come back to reality? How long are we going to pine away over our lost relatives? Do we ever stop praying? NO! Not until it’s everlasting too late. But Jesus said (not what I SAY , what Jesus SAID) if they won’t heed the truth when they know the truth, give them over to the Satan and use that energy; shed those tears; invest that kingdom resource into someone who will respond to the Gospel of our Lord and Savor! Let us stop with the in-ward focus, and let us start focusing on the reachable.

Listen; if we want to see the Spirit of God fall in power, we have to act like the church that desires to see Him. We have to be like the churches that have experienced Holy Spirit revival. We have to take our resources and our money and make them subject to the task of reaching lost souls. So what say, ye? Will we be like the queen, or will we be like the Apostle Paul and say, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Abe Lincoln


“The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to discern whether or not they are genuine.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Baptism TKO


My standard line before walking anyone into the baptistery has always been, "Don't worry. I haven't dropped anybody yet."

Well I still haven't dropped anybody, but Paul was about as close to knocking someone out as I've ever come. I usually take a step to my left before baptizing someone that's my own height. But after four baptisms in a row I forgot! It's a good thing he doesn't have much hair, cause it would have scraped the wall.

More Things I Ponder While The Ushers Are Taking Up The Offering


If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would it be called Fed Up?

Do Lipton Tea employees take coffee breaks?

What hair color do they put on the drivers licenses of bald men?

If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?

Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you
know the batteries are dead?

If the professor on Gilligan’s Island can make a nuclear reactor out of a coconut shell and some palm fronds, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?

What happens if someone loses a lost and found box?

How do you throw away a garbage can?

If Americans throw rice at weddings, do the Chinese throw hamburgers?

Do illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup?

Aren't all generalizations false?

Could someone ever get addicted to counseling?  If so, how could you treat them?

How come Superman could stop bullets with his chest, but always ducked when someone threw a gun at him?

How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn't grow in it?

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out"?

Herding Cats In Nashville; The Great Name Change Debate

So the muckity-mucks at the home office have decided—again—that we Southern Baptists should consider changing the name of our convention. For several years there has been talk about "Southern" hindering the Gospel, slowing the growth of churches not located in the Southern parts of the United States, etc, etc. blah, blah, blah.

Look, I’m not about hindering growth, evangelism, or even perception. But I do take offence at certain things that are being thrown around out there about WHY we need to change our name. 

1) I, nor any Southern Baptist I have ever known, has ever owned a slave. No Southern Baptist I have ever known has been a slave. Seriously, it’s 2012! It’s time to get over it. If we are forever and always, Amen, going to associate the term Southern with slavery, then we need to change the title of everything Southern. The SEC? I know, let’s call it the Not Northeast Conference. The NNC. How about Southern Bell? Let’s change the name to Irrelevant In A Digital Age Bell.  IIADAB (pronounced Eye-A-Dabs) Or Southwest Airlines? They can be the Nonracist Operators of Planes and Excursions. NOPE for short.

2) If we want to change the name, can we at least not call it something as cheesy as the Great Commission Baptist Convention? If I were a Methodist, I’d be pretty offended at the connotation that I could no longer practice the Great Commission with-out changing denominations. Honestly, what happened to the International Baptist Convention? At least that aligned with what the “changers” say about why we should change the name.

3) If we are offending SOME people who don’t like to be called Southern, (As if that were a bad thing. Again, I mention the SEC, and will add boiled peanuts and grits to the list) how many are we offending? I am so sick and tired of being told that because I hail from the Southern part of the United States that I am an ignorant racist, and that those from the left coast are so culturally and intellectually superior. So, in order not to offend a minority, we will offend a majority. Yeah, that makes sense. 

4) If we change from Southern Baptist, we will offend Baptists from South Korea? What about Southern Manchuria; or Baptists at the South Pole? Dare I ask it???? What about Baptists from Southern California? What about Baptists from Southern North Dakota? HAS ANYONE ASKED BAPTISTS FROM SOUTHERN NORTH DAKOTA ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS? Huh? Have you, Task Force!?

5) Speaking of which…What is the big deal, Task Force? I thought we were already autonomous?  Soooooo…now you are giving us permission to call ourselves whatever we want, but you have already purchased website domain names? ****Ummmm…just in case. ***** Can’t the offended churches in the offended regions just call themselves whatever they want already? The biggest church in our convention, Saddleback, already does not use the term Southern Baptist in their name, correct? 

6) Marketingly speaking, why not pull a Kentucky Fried Chicken move here. When some people thought “Kentucky Fried” sounded unhealthy, they rebranded to KFC. What’s wrong with SBC as our official moniker? 

7) My real concern here is that it seems to me the ones who are fussing the most about “Southern,” also don’t like "Baptist." What’s next? I’m afraid to know. Will we be afraid to call ourselves Christians? Remember back in the late 80’s: there was a coalition formed called RAD? Rockers Against Drugs. An oxymoron of the 80’s if ever there was one. I’m afraid the next step will be a similar coalition; we’ll call this one CAC, Christians Against Christ. Or BASS. Baptists Against Seeming Southern.

All-in-all, this is a big to-do about nothing. I hate to go using Southern speak and all, but to quote my pappy,
 “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

(Great Commission Baptist Convention translation: “If the opportunity for improvement is not strategically aligned in a manner that proliferates the paradigm shift sought out by the focus group’s core competency for a bandwidth of change, consider empowering the static traditional approach to synergize the industry standard. Otherwise, you’re just herding cats.”)

The Jesus We Missed


Many of the reviews for The Jesus We Missed seemed to be disappointed by the lack of surprise, as the subtitle indicates. Or, perhaps, they we just not that surprised by the fact that so many Believers do indeed miss the striking humanity of Jesus. I felt this book was wonderfully thought out and intellectually driven. I will readily admit that this book is not well suited for those simply looking for a devotional or easy reading “Christian Living” book. To truly appreciate this work, you must enjoy seeing the nuanced way in which the life of Christ blends divinity and humanity. Did Jesus have pimples? Did our Lord and Savior ever have the stomach flu? Are we repulsed by the idea of God having diarrhea? These and many more not-so-gross human attributes of Jesus are examined.

The wonderful facts of His humanity are that the God of heaven did not just become like us, He became one of us. Reardon has written a wonderful, and yes, even surprising look at the side of the superman we often want to forget—His humanity. 

* I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. TNP requires no expectations of a positive review. 

Monday, February 20, 2012


We baptized a total of five Sunday. Here are a few shots thanks to Tammy Jeffers!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Totally Depraved


Not many people would enjoy being called depraved; much less totally so. But the doctrine of Total Depravity is very freeing and liberating. It means that every essence of our being is tainted by sin. Everything that I can think or do is tainted by sin, and it will be so until I reach Glory.  In our fallen state, our very nature is oriented against God, and the bent of our will is evil from the beginning.

St Augustine said that the only reason we think a baby is good, is because he doesn’t have the power to show us just how evil he really is...yet. Augustine also said that, “If a baby had the strength when he emerged from the mother’s womb, he would seize the mother by the neck and demand his milk.”

I guess what I’m saying is that the doctrine of depravity is comforting to me because it shows me that sanctification is not up to me. Look, you may be surprised that you’re evil, but it is no revelation to God. All I can say to that is Hallelujah!

Paul says in Romans 7:24, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” In Romans 8:1 he answers his own question. “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those who are in Christ Jesus.” 

I am totally depraved, but thanks to God, I didn't stay that way. I think that's what Solomon meant when he wrote "I have always tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, 'I am determined to be wise.' But it didn’t work."

The only way any of us can be saved is through the power and grace of God. The power of Holy Spirit changes our nature by abiding with us, keeping us, sanctifying us, and raising us by His power.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Measuring Up

“When I get to heaven I will be amazed at three things. First, those who are not there that I thought would be. Second, those who are there that I thought would not be. Third, that I am even there at all.” ~ John Newton

I grew up in the Fundamental Independent Baptist Church of the Deep South. I even went to a Fundamental Independent Baptist School. Every Friday we would have preacher boys come in and have chapel at our little school. These were mostly youth guys at their respective churches who aspired to have their own little fiefdom one day. Every Friday we had to endure Sermonettes from these Christianettes.......usually about cigarettes.

They were really into soul winning and these boys did not sin. We knew they didn’t sin because they told us they didn’t sin. They would call all the guys drunkards and all the girls whores and it was their great pleasure to inform us that we were all going straight to Hell. I have to say that, even though these guys didn’t sin anymore, they looked suspiciously arrogant to me.  Especially since they all wore a blue suit, white shirt, and red tie.

In Ecclesiastics 7: 20 Solomon opines that “there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.” In James 2, the pragmatic James tells us that we should not be respecters of persons. I heard a story about a boy who walked for miles to get to church, passing by churches much closer to his house. When asked why he walked so far, the boy said, “They love a fella over there.” Another boy told his mom about how much he liked his new Sunday School teacher. She asked what made him better than the last teacher. The boy said, “He treats me like I’m a people.”

We may think of these as cute little stories, but would to God that more churches treated visitors like they were "a people." James says when someone visits the church we are not to “hold them up with partiality.” The Greek phrase there, Prosopolepsia, literally means to lay hands on someone’s face. In other words, don’t judge them on superficial, outward appearances. Don't just "lay hold of their face" and judge them on what they look like on the outside. The Message parapharse puts it like this, "If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, 'Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!' and either ignore the street person or say, 'Better sit here in the back row,' haven't you segregated God's children and proved that you are judges who can't be trusted?"

Here’s an idea. Instead of judging people, let’s look to Jesus and make Him our standard. When we can measure up to that Man, then we can compare ourselves to other men. 

Heating Up The Baptistery

No; literally, heating up the baptistery. A few weeks ago the pump that circulates the water and also acts as a water heater for the baptistery went out. After much debate on size, price, and installation crew, we finally found, ordered, and installed the pump this past week. Our humble building and grounds committee sweated the plumbing, phased the electricity, and turned the elbows, (and several other plumbing jargons that I just nodded my agreement and assent at,) and wallah, Thursday afternoon we had hot water!

Just another day in the life of a small church pastor—or was it? 

God certainly didn’t think so. During our Sunday service, five came forward to receive Christ (another joined by the most Baptist of ways…the moving of the LETTER.) So while we might say, “What convenient timing,” we can truly know that God is never taken by surprise. He knew that baptistery needed heating up...in more ways than one. Indeed I can say with the Apostle Paul, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever.”


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Things I Ponder When The Ushers Are Taking Up The Offering

Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds?

Why do fat chance and slim chance mean the same thing?

Do you need a silencer if you are going to shoot a mime?

Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?

If a cow laughed real hard, would milk come out her nose?

Why isn't "palindrome" spelled the same way backwards as it is forwards?

Why is it so hard to remember how to spell 'mnemonic'?

If someone invented instant water, what would they mix it with?

If there is no God, who pops up the next Kleenex in the box?

How do they get a deer to cross at that yellow road sign?

Why is there a 's' in lisp?

Why is abbreviated such a long word?

If you were scared half to death twice, would you be 3/4 dead or 100% dead?

If the cops arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

If you asked a librarian where the books on self-help were would she tell you, or would that defeat the purpose?

If you spin an Oriental person around and around, does he become disorientated?


I really have a lot of work to do on Promoting Awareness Regarding Legal and Ethical Issues in the Biblical Counseling Ministry of the Local Church

Back to work, now….

Lord, commandist what Thou wilst, and grant what thou commandest. ~ St Augustine