The occasional thoughts of an ordinary man serving an extraordinary God. Come with me as we learn, teach, and laugh along the way.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Southern Baptist Convention Part 2
First, a quick primer. The annual meeting consists of business sessions interspersed between "Theme Interpretations" and sermons. The sermons are obvious. The "Theme Interpretations" are basically sermons, but topically driven based on the year's theme. Also, there are various music points, either of congregational singing or special presentation.
The business is of 4 types: agency reports, committee reports, officer elections, and open mic motions. We'll take each of these in turn.
Agency reports: This is where each SBC entity reports on what it's been up to the past year. Generally the president of the agency delivers it, such as Dr. Al Mohler for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary or Dr. Thom Rainer for Lifeway Christian Resources. These reports come in two parts. The first is a printed report in the paperback "Book of Reports" and contains such things as the numbers from audits and official legalese. The other part is the live report, and is usually an upbeat presentation. These run 15-20 minutes, and may include video or an additional individual at the discretion of the agency reporting. At the close of their own presentation, the agency representative is expected to accept any questions from the floor. This is a time that individual messengers can express concerns or ask about the direction of an agency. There were some questions for Dr. Danny Akin of Southeastern Baptist Seminary, regarding the individuals that had been involved in a conference at the school.
The longest item in agency reports is the presentation from the Executive Committee. They have 2 time slots, one for an hour and one for 30 minutes. The Executive Committee is the central point of contact for the SBC, they are the day-to-day mangers of convention actions between conventions. As such, they are also responsible for the promotion of the Cooperative Program, and a large part of their report shows how and where that money goes, and what it is used for once it gets there. That was the highlight of their report. I'm a big fan of the Cooperative Program. In fact, it's one of the main reasons I have remained a Southern Baptist as an adult. There are other groups with similar theology and a firm stand for Scripture, but I've never found a better way to meet the needs of churches and missions as the CP. There was some frustration that Morris Chapman, who is president of the Executive Committee, seemed to be blaming Calvinism for the issues of decline in the SBC. Given that the theology he was describing does not match the Calvinists I know, since he was speaking of an anti-missionary, anti-evangelistic theology, I can't see he was blaming the Founder's Society, Al Mohler, or even John Calvin. Further thoughts are also findable here on my blog. While there were vicarious apologies later, I'm still not sure they were necessary. Chapman's right, that any theology that removes our responsibility to obey Christ's command in Matthew 28:19-20 is bad for us.
The other portion of the Executive Committee report was a recommendation related to Broadway Baptist Church in Texas. As an organization, SBC churches have determined that a church which endorses homosexuality cannot be considered as a partnering church. There has been some question about what can be considered "endorsing" homosexuality. The recommendation was made to break ties with Broadway Baptist over this issue. The primary evidence of "endorsement" was that Broadway chose not to picture families together in their church directory so as not to have to allow or disallow the open homosexual couples to be pictured as couples, as well as allowing openly homosexual members of the church to serve on committees. While there was no controversy about this during the meeting, there is some criticism from within SBC and from other Christian groups. The questions to be answered are these: Is homosexuality a worse sin than others? Why do we break ties with a church over homosexuality and not other sins? Do we not want homosexuals to be in church? Where else will they hear the Gospel? How much open sin should a church tolerate? How much open sin in a neighboring church should we tolerate before we quit hanging out together? The decision here was that the tolerance of open sin, by placing people openly living a sinful lifestyle, was enough to end the relationship.
Note that there is a legitimate question about why we single out this one sin. We have churches that one could argue "endorse" divorce, adultery, theft, and a myriad of other sins, but we take no such action. We also have churches that will employ ministers that have left prior churches over allegations of child abuse, yet we take no action there. Why? It seems we've found one thing to elevate above others, and probably shouldn't have. Was the action regarding Broadway legitimate? I think so. I think the legitimate question is not "Why are Southern Baptists so critical of homosexual sin?" but instead "Why are Southern Baptists so uncritical of open sin except homosexual sin?"
This is getting long, so part 3 will cover more of the business.
Blog Tour: Latayne C. Scott's The Mormon Mirage
The Mormon Church is certainly a force to be reckoned with in America today. From the efforts of Mitt Romney to run for President, to the Mormon efforts to see Proposition 8 pass in California, there has been no shortage of discussion of Mormon beliefs in America. But what do Mormons believe? Mike Huckabee caught criticism in the Presidential Primaries for calling Mormonism a cult, and Mitt Romney made a speech defending his religion, which was not unlike then-Senator Obama's speech defending his church involvement. Yet many remain convinced that Romney's failure at the polls was somehow related to American misunderstanding of Mormonism.
So, what do Mormons believe? Are they simply family-oriented Christians, or are they a different group altogether? This is the question many American Christians have of Mormonism. Mormons may have questions about the differences between their beliefs and history and the viewpoints of mainstream Christianity. The real question between us all: are Mormons just a branch of the Christian family?
Scott's answer, from personal involvement and research, is a resounding "no." Throughout her book The Mormon Mirage, she details both the differences in theological issues between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity, and the inconsistencies across Mormon history. At the end of the book, one cannot help but wonder how anyone remains involved in Mormonism. However, that's a question this book cannot completely answer. Part of the answer has to do with how the Mormon Church has handled criticism over the years: deny it exists, then remind the faithful that there will always be attempts to lead them astray, then change the subject. It's how many groups actually handles criticism, and it works until people start to truly examine the information.
However, The Mormon Mirage is not an attack book. Neither is it a dry, academic read, like the information on Mormonism in such books as Martin's Kingdom of the Cults (not to run-down Martin. It's a reference work, it should be dry and academic.) Instead, Scott has struck the middle ground of a passionate writing that is based on facts. You can read her passion to persuade, and her broken heart over those still involved in Mormonism. You can also see the footnotes, the research, and the facts to check for yourself.
Is this a book to simply drop off at your Mormon friend's house? No, probably not. As a prominent ex-Mormon, most church members have likely heard of her, and will drop this book off a cliff somewhere. It is a good read for a Christian seeking to understand Mormonism, and then one to share through a relationship with Mormons you know. Scott highlights at the beginning that her departure from the Mormon church was not driven by broad appeals to leave Mormonism, but rather by relationships with Christians. From those relationships, she examined information from people she trusted. If we as Christians would persuade Mormons, we would be wise to follow that example.
All in all, this is a book worth reading. For more blogs reviewing this book today, check the link here at Zondervan.
June 30 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
June 29 2008
Proverbs 29:11 ->Restrain some of those natural passions.
Proverbs 29:12 ->Who influences the ruler?
Proverbs 29:15 ->Children do not know what is best for them?
Proverbs 29:19 ->Action causes action.
1 Peter 1:13 ->"sober in spirit" ->our hearts & spirits under control, being directed by the Word as our minds are renewed (Romans 12:2)
Galatians 6:1 ->Make sure you aren't tempted to be judgmental or legalistic.
Galatians 6:12 ->Don't blend into the culture for the sake of ease!
No thought today: I forgot my planner! I got it all together, and forgot where I put it!
Pray for UAM/Journey mission team to Poland: Day 1. Travel day. Pray for smooth nerves, long battery life, and all connections made!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
June 28 2009
Do we need a task force?
So, what do I think?
Well, I voted for the task force idea because, like Dr. Mohler said in the motion, there's no harm in asking questions about whether or not we're really doing all we can. Any organization should occasionally study itself to determine whether or not the organization is accomplishing its goals. Educational entities are required to do that for accreditation. It won't hurt us to do so.
However, I think we are in serious danger as Southern Baptists if we think that a committee will solve our problems. Why?
First: Many people are heralding this vote as a sign that younger leaders in the SBC are finally having a voice. Really? How so? Younger leaders in the SBC supposedly dislike the levels of structure in the SBC, the politics, the run around, and want to get to work reaching the world. And we think that allowing the President of the SBC to pick a new committee to make recommendations, a year from now, to the other committees that run the various entities of the SBC shows the influence of young leaders? Somewhere I'm missing the connection there. When you consider that any recommendations will be considered next year, and if they are by-law or constitution changes, will have to be considered the next year as well, this isn't a fast process.
Second: There are some legitimate questions about the makeup of the committee formed. There are plenty of representatives from the upper echelon of the SBC life. There aren't many from the bulk of SB churches, the ones that run 100 on Sundays. Now, the first response to that will be "little churches are little because they aren't obeying the Great Commission, so why should they be included." That's an unnecessary broad-brush of all small churches. Churches like Joiner Baptist Church in Joiner, Arkansas, run 100 or less. They give to the CP to fund mission work, they do VBS every summer and connect 100 or more kids with the Gospel. And they do all this with an annual church budget less than, well, any of the full-time pastors or convention employees on the committee. Some churches are small because they don't hold on to evangelism. Other churches are small because times change. Joiner, Arkansas, has less than 1000 people these days, even counting outlying areas. That 3 Southern Baptist churches in the area have nearly 250 in attendance is a ratio of effectiveness in the community that is remarkable. So, will a committee made up of people that don't live their lives, including their church lives, where most Southern Baptists live going to come up with universally helpful recommendations? We'll have to see.
Third, and finally, a committee isn't really the answer. While a committee will be helpful to study convention entities, the hope of Baptist churches remains that we will faithfully preach the Word, and that the people of our churches will go out and tell the world about Jesus. This is our hope. Obedience to Christ. The hope of our convention may be that this task force makes recommendations that enhance our ability to work together to reach the places we aren't reaching now. The hope for our churches is the people of God living in obedience.
Currently, the main justification for the Great Commission task force is that our numbers are down. We baptize fewer, we're short on funding, our influence is waning, and so on. This committee cannot fix that. Only our faithfulness in our everyday lives will fix it.
Ultimately, it is my prayer that we will see a Great Commission explosion in our churches over the next year, so that the committee formed this week can focus on what they can do: recommend structural adjustments that help efficiency. If we, as the people of God, will do what we ought, if we preachers will uphold God's word and preach Christ, then there will be no need for anything else.
Let's do the Great Commission, so the Great Commission committee can do something useful.
Let's do the Great Commission, even more, so that the Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The Great Commission Task Force and the SBC
When I first saw the list, including the headline that Dr. Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Springdale, Arkansas, First Baptist, was the chairman, I cringed. Over the years, I have seen Dr. Floyd as a part of what is going wrong in the SBC, when churches start growing and start doing more missions funding of themselves and less of the Cooperative Program. However, Frank Turk pointed me to this blog post of Dr. Floyd's, and I must admit that my criticism must now be set aside. The fact that he has led one of the churches he is involved with to increase their Cooperative Program giving even in trying financial times shows that he is, apparently, more committed to the cooperative efforts of Southern Baptists than I have given him credit for.
So, I acknoweldge I was wrong in my initial assessment of appointing Dr. Floyd as chairman of this group. For having a critical spirit towards him, I ask forgiveness of the One who we both answer to as pastors.
On to the rest of the task force: (copied and pasted from Arkansas Baptist News
Other members are Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention; Frank Page, former SBC president and pastor of First Baptist Church of Taylors, S.C.; David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.; Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Bob White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention; Donna Gaines, wife of Steve Gaines who pastors Bellevue Baptist Church of Cordova, Tenn.; Simon Tsoi, IMB trustee from Arizona; Tom Biles, Tampa Bay Baptist Association missionary; John Drummond, a layman from Florida; Harry Lewis of the North American Mission Board, and the following pastors: Al Gilbert of Winston-Salem, N.C.; J.D. Greer of Durham, N.C.; Mike Orr of Chipley, Fla., Roger Spradlin of California, Ken Whitten of Tampa, Fla., and Ted Traylor of Pensacola, Fla.
Now, a few quick comments:
1. I hope Dr. Hunt left open the possibility of adding a few more. Especially an additional lady or two. I know Donna Gaines can hold her own, but to be the only lady in a group of 18? Also, given the rich history of women being the glue that holds Baptist churches together, there are probably several others that have a great deal to offer.
2. Glad to see a few state execs. We'll see how that goes.
3. I am concerned that it appears to be a collection of 'great ones' while the Southern Baptist Convention is made up of a lot of ordinary people. Hopefully the suggestions brought to us by this group will take into consideration how things work in and the resources that churches with Sunday School averages of under 100 have. That's what the bulk of Southern Baptist churches are. And it's not that those churches don't care about the Great Commission.
4. I'm actually glad to see Ed Stetzer not on this list. Stetzer is jointly employed by IMB and Lifeway, and is on NAMB's group to study their own efforts. With his recent weight loss and healthy living focus, Guidestone will probably use him as a poster child soon. He's not a bad guy, from what I've seen, but one person other than the Lord Jesus Christ is not the solution to Southern Baptist life. Don't worry, I'm sure he will have some influence through his books and very public platform. But he's not indispensible.
5. We'll see how this turns out. I'm hopeful for some good suggestions and recommendations. However, this isn't the be-all and end-all of the future of the SBC. The future is the people of God serving Him with all their heart.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Southern Baptist Convention Part 1
1.) For various reasons, we continue to feel that it's necessary to get together in person to have this annual meeting. I understand that. I don't agree that it's as necessary as some people think, but, ok, we do it. Fine. But I didn't travel 600 miles to watch videos, half of which I've already seen on your website. Get up there, make your report, and be done. If you have video you'd like people to see, webcast it. Pass out a DVD. Make a video podcast. Something, but don't have people sit there and watch a canned video. Eliminating video presentations might be impossible, but limit them. No more than 10% of the total time of the Convention. If you really only have 20 minutes worth of report, don't use up the balance of an hour showing us video clips and automated powerpoints. Shorten the meeting time. It would be welcomed by families.
2.) On the family note: the childcare workers and children's conference people were excellent. Being a one-vehicle family, I don't travel to out-of-town, overnight conferences or conventions without my family. However, most conferences would have me leaving my wife in a hotel room with 3 bored kids. Instead, the SBC allows she and I both to participate. That's a good thing.
3.) Let's rethink the schedule. First, think about the time savings by giving out a DVD will all of the pre-canned presentations. Second, why do we not meet Wednesday afternoon? It would seem better to meet Wednesday afternoon, and eliminate a night session. I'd welcome it, as would many parents that bring the whole family to the Convention. Unless we wanted to move to all of the business being handled in the 2 night sessions, allowing for more local laypeople to be involved. This would be balanced by the moving of Convention locations. But, I don't see that. So, let's think about the Wednesday afternoons, ok?
4.) I think maybe we should require all motions to be twittered in to the chair. Would force some serious brevity. Except we would have had : "moveth that we doth not use any translations save that which @jamesvi approveth" Instead of a second, the chair would ask "is there anyone who will retweet?"
5.) I don't think, even when renominating for a second term, that any officer nominations should be made from the platform. Or, barring that, all officer nominations should come from the platform. Dr. Hunt got re-elected, no opposition. No big deal, but an officer nomination from the platform seems to be "official" versus an "unofficial" nomination. Perceivable as favoritism or good ol' boy networking.
6.) I'm glad the Great Commission task force is approved. I think we need to examine things in how the SBC operates. I am struggling, though, that it seems Dr. Hunt had already picked out his task force before it was approved. I know you need to move quickly, but we shouldn't be picking out committees that aren't approved until they are approved.
7.) A motion that was ruled "out of order" did raise a valid question. One of the (unnecessary) videos shown used The Who's song Baba O'reilly (theme from CSI:NY). Can we not write music in Christian circles? I'm not just trying to knock secular music, but do we, with the Holy Spirit of the Creator in us, not have any creativity? We used secular music, copied secular advertising methods, and have this tendency to borrow the world's ideas. Shouldn't we be the creative ones?
8.) I'm a little troubled that we have to re-invent other wheels, while borrowing wheels that should be re-invented. We pulled out of the BWA, so that we could try and fund a complete new global network on our own? I'm not convinced that the BWA theological issues were of depth enough to pull out and to spend Cooperative Program money to rebuild a global network.
9.) I'd like to see the reason behind why resolutions are "declined." And yes, it's because my resolution was declined. I'd like to know if they thought it was unnecessary, redundant, stupid, or if it was declined because I'm a nobody in the SBC, and only important people get to write resolutions. I am curious why we'll talk about strengthening missions work, but won't even ask churches to strengthen their funding of our current system while we try to figure out how to fix it. Perhaps it would be too uncomfortable for the 'great ones' of the SBC to have a spotlight pointed towards their comparative lack of support of our cooperative efforts? We'll never know.
10.) All in all, it wasn't a bad convention. I'll share a few more thoughts in a different post, including one about the Great Commission Resurgence idea and where it goes next. I do think that we remain a personality driven operation instead of a Word-driven group of churches. May that change soon.
Yes, many of those are complaints. Sorry about that. I would say I can't say enough good about the volunteers that made the childcare stuff happen, but I can't say enough good about them. Our kids were safe and secure, and had a good time. I'd like to see better childcare options during the minister's wives luncheon, since trying to keep up with all 3 kids and stand in line to get lunch would have been impossible. Otherwise, it's one thing the SBC was better about than the ABSC, where childcare was only available for up to age 5. We'll have 6 and 8 at the ABSC this year, and if there's no childcare for children that age, I'll have to either keep them entertained through the whole convention or leave them at home. Which means me staying home too.
The Evil Calvinist Conspiracy
Here is my question: Why would Calvinists want to take over the Southern Baptist Convention? We exist as the SBC for the sole purpose of funding and sending missionaries. A portion of that includes supporting education for pastors and missionaries. If Calvinists are anti-evangelism, anti-missions, then why take over the SBC?
I can't think of a good reason. Unless it's that the SBC has become evil, and Calvinists want to destroy it. But the Calvinist detractors seem to equate Calvinism with fatalistic determinism. If Calvinists really believed that whatever happens, happens, without any human involvement, we could just sit back and watch the SBC explode while we get a pizza!
Perhaps the Calvinism isn't the problem. Perhaps that some of us preach Christ because we know that God uses preachers and missionaries and believers to proclaim His word, to proclaim The Word, Jesus Christ, and that God then acts to bring some to repentance, isn't really a problem. And if the man who stated that 30% of our seminary grads and pastors are Calvinists is right, why a 95% vote in favor of the task force? Why continued support of missions and evangelism? Because, perhaps, Calvinism isn't the problem. Does it make that big of a difference in how one preaches the Gospel? Do we not recognize that God has a hand in salvation some way, and that man has a responsibility to go and tell?
After all, Calvinism would be a great comfort to one who is plowing a rough field, who toils preaching and teaching day after day, and sees little results to report. Comfort, that God is working even though human eyes can't see it.
If Calvinists are taking over the SBC, I can't figure out why. Unless Calvinism is also a motivator for missions, evangelism, and a passion to see the world hear the Gospel.
Then, we just might be in the right place.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
At the SBC
I'll do my best, though, to cover everything I know, from the chicken-suited protester to managing to sit down right by Bart Barber when the motion was made to replace him as a SWBTS Trustee.
And I'll try and catch up on all the motions, resolutions, and everything else.
2 real thoughts:
1.)I understand the early deadline for resolutions. Really. I've seen the Resolutions Committees at state levels go insane trying to process everything. This year, though, it hurt us. A resolution is the best tool we have to speak about situations, such as Iran and the crisis there of brutal, anti-freedom government oppression. Problem being, it developed less than 15 days before the convention. Not sure how to fix that.
2.)Motions should be submitted by twitter. That way, they would only be 140 characters. Short, sweet, to the point. And you could look and what you submitted before anyone else saw it.
Friday, June 19, 2009
So, if Chuck's scared, I'm scared. After all, Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.
All the more reason we should have elected Mike Huckabee. What? you say? Three great reasons:
1. The whole world would have learn: Ouachita=wash-it-aw!
2. He's a kickin' bass player. What does our President have? Basketball? Puh-leeze. Aren't Guitar Hero and Rock Band outselling NBA Live these days? Just sayin...
3. Chuck wasn't scared of Huck. And if Chuck was on our side, we wouldn't be dealin' with no-nonsense from Kim Jong-Il or anyone else. Because they're all scared of Chuck.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
June 18 2009
Proverbs 18:4 ->both talking and wisdom have a long supply. I'd rather drink, though, from a clear brook than a deep lake.
Proverbs 18:6 ->don't answer the invite.
Proverbs 18:14 ->seek encouragement!!
Psalm 143:8 ->Do you want to hear anything in the morning? I don't always!
Revelation 12:11 ->How much do I love my life?
1 Peter 1:11 ->1)True prophecy comes from the Spirit of Christ. 2)Even with all the inquiring, people still missed Him. Hard hearts can miss a lot!
Quote: "I define leadership as leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and motivations--the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations--of both leaders and followers." --James McGregor Burns
Thought: That would be leadership with integrity. Too many times leadership is exercised the wrong way!
June 17 2009
Proverbs 17:1 ->So get away from the SBC to eat lunch!
Proverbs 17:3 ->All things can be tested and refined. Including me.
Proverbs 17:15 ->Real justice is truth oriented.
Proverbs 17:22 ->Take times to refresh your soul!
1 Peter 1:10 ->1. Christ was foretold and longed for. 2. There is a seeking of the grace of God. 3. Prophets don't know everything.
Quote: "Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery." Matthew Arnold
Thought #1: You can't be someone else. Besides, half the time, the person you're copying doesn't know who they are either.
I'm not sure
As Mark Twain is reputed to have said, "Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
And, yes, when I went to double check the reality here: Congress's web server is out. So, please, let this be a hoax that I need to apologize for publicizing. Please.
If the stupidity doesn't stop, and, yes, my liberal friends, much of it has been going on for years, not months, we'll make more money charging people to get out than to get in. What have we become?
Edit: apparently the link is out. The proposal is to fund a government effort to encourage international tourists to come to the US, as tourism has fallen post 9-11. The plan is to pay for this, at least partially, by charging international tourists an additional $10 to come into the US. How does that work?
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Worth a read
Original Post at First Things link is here.
Justin Taylor link to the post is here.
Frank's link to Justin's link and to the post is here. (Frank also copied the post to a PDF file on his website, if the other links don't work.)
Why all the links? Just giving credit where credit is due.
On calling stuff heresy
Now, if you get down into the comments, the discussion went off-topic onto whether or not the book The Shack is heresy, and whether or not a church in Nashville is endorsing it, and how Lifeway sells it, which is bad, since it's heresy. Also, the commenter is upset that his church won't let him go to the SBC as a messenger and decry this heresy and condemn Lifeway's selling of this book.
Here's one of the problems: I think calling the book The Shack heresy is a bit much. Now, several prominent and intelligent Christian leaders have called The Shack heretical, such as Albert Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, and Tim Challies, a Christian author and blogger. I'm fairly certain there are others, but those two are some good links. Challies, in particular, is extremely thorough in his treatment.
On the other hand, there are others who find the book to be lovely and inspirational. Among these are Wade Burleson, pastor and blogger in Oklahoma; Eugene Peterson, author of The Message paraphrase of the Bible; and several other bloggers.
Here's the situation, in my mind, having never read that book. It's a work of fiction. If you derive your theology from fictional writings, you are in trouble. Probably with a capital T. I've read the criticisms and the supports, the prevailing opinion is this: For the book: "It's a fictional story showing God's love for us." Against the book: "It doesn't present an accurate picture of who God is." Both are probably right.
I'm not wanting to rail on The Shack or denounce. When I've read it, I'll do that. Instead, I want to look at our tendency to class every disagreement we have among churches and within Christian authorship and preaching as heresy. But what is heresy?
I see heresy as one end of a spectrum of error in theology. First, let's run down that spectrum:
1. Non-Christian religion: based on John 14:6, there is no salvation apart from Christ. So, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other non-Christian religions aren't heresy or any of the other levels I'll list. These groups flat out don't accept Christ as the Son of God in an Orthodox Biblical concept. To be Southern Baptist-y about it: they're wrong, end of story.
2. Annoyance: this where Christians peck at each other over things not at all Scripturally based, and, in truth, need to just get over it. There's no reason to form separate churches or even leave the one you're in. For example, Sunday School or Small Groups? Neither are either explicitly Scriptural or un-Scriptural. Get over it, get along with your church family. Likewise would one find some music disputes here, while other music disputes are in the next group:
3. Disagreement: this is where differing Christians understand the explanation of Scripture in an unreconcilable way. For example, Presbyterians see church government as being a function only of elders. Congregationalists, including most Baptists, see it as a function of the whole local body. Both sides have some Scriptures they point to, and some they gloss over. These disagreements are enough to have a separate church, but are no reason to cast stones or doubt anyone's salvation. Calvinism is another one in Baptist life. Calvinists think Arminians are wrong, Arminians that Calvinists are wrong. While the two often don't reconcile in a church, it is possible to work together between churches.
4. Error: this is where one group cannot accept another's handling of Scripture, and find that it is just wrong. Major debates along error lines: Baptism. We as Baptists, for example, hold firmly to the idea that Baptism is for those who have believed, and is by immersion. Other Christians hold Baptism as being for infants, and by sprinkling or pouring. The difference is so wide it's an error on someone's part. This is disagreement amplified by both sides using the same Scriptures and finding different, mutually exclusive meanings there. Again, you'll create separate churches from it, and you'll find that one group feels their obedience is better than the other groups, as Baptists think that immersion of believers is better than pouring water on infants. Nobody is going to hell over an error but they not be living a proper Biblical life.
5. Heresy: this is where someone claims to be teaching a "Christian" doctrine, but they have twisted it to the point it does not reflect the God of the Bible or true Christianity. For example, a church that denies Jesus dying for your sins, is teaching heresy. A church teaching there is no God, that's heresy. Heresy is the type of thing that believing indicates you are not a follower of Christ. Churches that discover a heretic, one who teaches heresy are duty bound to remove that person from leadership and to treat them as an unbeliever, with the aim towards bringing to the Faith. Churches that espouse heresy ought not be considered churches and should not be involved in religious affiliation with Christian churches. Also, heresy is, by its nature, generally acknowledgable. That is, you'll find major agreement that something is a heresy.
6. Blasphemy: this is an outright lie against God.
(Note: these apply to ideas and arguments as they crop up. I would say there's a section I'd label a drift heresy where, over time, a church slowly drifts away from Scripture. Due to inattentiveness, someday a person wakes up and says "STOP! We're committing heresy!" and is saying something so new they are met with no agreement. This ought to harder and harder to come by with our increasing access to the Word.)
Now, my point is that calling "HERESY!" at every disagreement is counterproductive. Moreover, that calling "HERESY" at even major disagreements is unhelpful. First of all, you need to support that call with Scripture. Second, you need to show that you are not twisting a person's words away from their intentional meaning. For example, one should not accuse C.S. Lewis of heresy for the words of some of his fictional charcters when they speak against Aslan. You should recognize the context, that those words are blasphemous, but they are not the author's viewpoint. Third, one should examine what the accused has said in explanation of their apparent heretical remarks. Does the explanation make sense? Is it a matter where they have just poorly explained themselves? Are we calling it heresy because some people will twist it the wrong way? Next, consult with others. Even Luther quickly found allies in his fight with Rome, and he was also building on the foundations of prior attempts at reform. Do any other Christian leaders see the same problem you do? Do your church leaders (if they're not the ones doing it)? Have other mature believers examine your evidence and consult with you. You are not the only one the Spirit guides, and are not the only one with a Bible. (If you are, share it!)
Finally, be prepared to act based on your charge. You will need to take it to people that can do something with it. In most Baptist churches, if it's the pastor, there's not much you can do in that church. Share it with deacons, perhaps, or what ever structure your church has for that, but your best bet is to go to a different Baptist church, show your maturity through commitment, and then consult with that church's leadership. You can also talk to the people at your association or state convention for guidance. Hierarchal churches should have someone in the next level you can talk to about it. If you're Catholic and it's the Pope, it might be time to move on from Catholicism. Unless you know some good thinking and risk-willing Cardinals that will go talk to him. No matter what group you're in, expect opposition. Lots of it. The more pervasive the heresy, the more influential the heretic, the more defenders they'll have.
You'll have to be willing to separate yourself from the 'heretics.' After all, if you accuse someone of leading people to hell, you shouldn't intend to stick around them, especially as church leaders.
All that to say: calling something heresy is a pretty serious charge. And it ought to stay that way. There are times to use it, and times to put that sword back in its sheath.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The resolution I sent to the SBC Resolutions Committee
ON ENCOURAGING INCREASED COOPERATIVE PROGRAM PARTICIPATION
Whereas, we are commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19); AND
Whereas, we as Southern Baptists are blessed to cooperatively support over 11,000 missionaries through the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board; AND
Whereas, we have seen some missionary appointments delayed due to budget constraints; AND
Whereas some of our North American Missionaries are faced with the risk of shortfalls in their individual fund-raising; AND
Whereas, our international missionaries are faced with a weakened dollar; AND
Whereas the number of people and people groups that need the Gospel is not shrinking; AND
Whereas, even in our weakened economy, we cannot abandon the Great Commission; Be it
RESOLVED, that the Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, June 23-24, 2009, express their appreciation for the faithfulness of churches have supported missions through the Cooperative Program since 1925; Be it further
RESOLVED, that we ask each Southern Baptist church to consider increasing their support of the Cooperative Program by 1 percent of the total annual church budget; be it further
RESOLVED, that we encourage each Southern Baptist to prayerfully and actively increase their individual participation in spreading the Gospel to all people.
I also know one objection will be that throwing more money into the CP without adjusting the formula isn't the answer. It's not a long-term answer, that's certain. Each SBC agency that is CP funded needs to determine if they are using those funds to the fullest extent they can. And then they should report back to the churches of the SBC what they're doing. Then, the messengers of the SBC can utilize their votes on trustees and directors to make sure the leadership of these agencies is doing what they should, either as endorsement or correction, whichever is needed.
But, in the meantime, we have missionaries on the field, and missionaries to get to the field. Based on what was reported in the 2008 ACP information, 1% of total giving would have been approximately $111 million dollars. Based on the general complaint that only 20 cents of every dollar gets to the IMB, that would have been a $22.2 million increase over what the IMB did receive last year, which would have covered the estimated $10 million rise in the cost of supporting those already on the field.
So what will we do? Will we take up the challenge to at least consider it? Many of our convention leaders also lead churches that give less than 5% of their budget to Cooperative Program ministries, while smaller churches give higher portions of their budgets. Will those leaders undertake the challenge of committing at the same level? Or are they prepared for those of us who lead the smaller churches to follow their lead? To move the bulk of our missions giving to other programs and reduce our support of the CP?
June 16, 2009
Proverbs 16:21 ->Learn to speak sweetly.
Proverbs 16:25 ->Be careful of your natural inclinations.
Proverbs 16:31 ->Respect maturity!
Psalm 143:5 -> The past works of God shouldn't be ignored.
1 Peter 1:9 ->Faith's outcome is eternity, not prosperity.
Quote: "I'm slowly becoming a convert to the principle that you can't motivate people to do things, you can only demotivate them. The primary job of the manager is not to empower but to remove obstacles." -Scott Adams
Thought: He's got a point. It is easier to demotivate than to motivate, to the point that some might find the one impossible. You have a responsibility to do both things, though. People can be motivated and encouraged, and they can be demotivated. I think the best motivation is to remove the obstacles and let people follow God to the fullest of their ability. But Scott Adams would disagree, giving his tendency towards atheism.
For my part, I think that's a lousy idea. Better to ask each entity to study and report, and request each church to consider what they can do. Same for each state. There is some call that we need to establish "accountability" for this.
Here's the problem:
It is not the place of the national level to "hold accountable" the states. Period. It is the place of the messengers to each state to hold their state accountable. If the national doesn't like a state, break off the relationship. But we are structured that no state goes about bossing another state around, because the authority belongs to the messengers, not the levels of hierarchy we're creating. If the 'great ones' of Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida don't like what we in Arkansas are doing, then get over it, or vote us out of fellowship. But perhaps you should take the planks from your own states first? Each state sets what it passes on, and this should remain that way. I do not think I would continue to lead an SBC church if we were instructed to mail all CP dollars to Nashville and they'll give back to each state what that state gets. You want us to mail two checks, one to each place, I'll think about it, we'll talk about it. We already mail one to the Association and the other to the state to breakdown. We could do 3. Right now we do 5 % of budget to the CP. I'd do 3% to the ABSC and 2% to Nashville. And I'd keep the same ratio as we follow our plan to get to 10% CP. (My goal is 10% CP, 5% Association, and 10% other, like direct support of missionaries and outreach groups, like our local crisis pregnancy center. I think a fourth of the budget is a good amount. This would not include our own church activities, like mission trips. We're not there, and it may take years to get there, but we're trying to be on the road.)
The point is this: we're in a situation that can draw some wisdom from Nehemiah. Nehemiah 3 shows how the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt. They weren't rebuilt by Nehemiah allocating all of the resources where he saw best fit. They were rebuilt by each doing what was in front of their own part of town. We can rebuild the SBC to massive force of missions and evangelism if we will each rebuild what's in front of our own house. Dr. Hunt can re-examine his church, I'll lead mine through the same process. The messengers, including me this year, should look at the national operations, and when we Arkansans get together in Benton this year, we'll look at our state. As we do so, let's rebuild what's in front of us. It may need a little, it may need a lot, but start there.
And then let's look at Nehemiah 5 and think about how our own churches are spending money, compared with our brothers and sisters in other churches. Just a wonderment, but how many churches have one more staff person than they need, while other churches have to struggle to support a bi-vocational pastor? And how many churches can spend on all kinds of luxuries, while we have widows of retired pastors of the preceding generations living in poverty?
But that's another story for another day. Still, have we compared how we're going about this to Scripture? Or are we taking our cue from American politics and business? Because one works. The other's an ever expanding nightmare.
Headlines and such
Amtrak Stop Coming To Hope, Ark.
Now, if you click through to the article, you'll see that Amtrak is adding a train stop in Hope. You know, a place to get on or off the train.
I read it as a grammar mistake that Amtrak wasn't coming to Hope anymore. I just misread it and jumped to the conclusion that, once again, somebody mistyped a headline. I was thinking it was 'Amtrak stops coming' or 'Amtrak is going to stop coming to Hope'
Somebody commented on THV's website that they read it as a request: Amtrak, stop coming to Hope.
Just goes to show how we can read into things sometimes, doesn't it?
Monday, June 15, 2009
Thought from NASCAR yesterday
Anyway, as the race is winding to a close, about 10 laps left, I started to actually pay attention. First of all, it was one of the rare times in the race that Jimmy Johnson wasn't in the lead. Second, I heard the announcers talking about the race leader, Greg Biffle, being short on gas. That caught my attention.
Why? Well, because it adds drama. Too many times I've had NASCAR on because it makes great nap TV. Think about it, you watch, they're all turning left, you close your eyes, you open your eyes, everyone's still going in circles to the left. It's like Congress, but I digress. Then, you get to the end of a 400-mile race, a 500-mile race, and in the last 20 miles, people decide to start racing each other. Sometimes, at least. I watched the last 10 laps of one race where a guy with a faster car tried to pass the leader, and would have done it. He was about 2 seconds back, and was a half second faster than the leader per lap. Problem was, he laid back until there were 3 laps left. 3 times one-half equals one and one-half, he came in second, one-half second back. If he had tried 2 laps earlier, he would have won the race. So, sometimes the end is good, sometimes it's bad.
This Sunday was good. The race leader is running low on gas. By extension, lots of cars are starting to run short, because this has not been a slowed down wreck-fest with lots of time for pit-stops. So, race leader Greg Biffle is trying to conserve fuel, while Jimmy Johnson is trying to pass Biffle. Of course, at the same time, Johnson's got to conserve fuel.
So what happened? 3 laps left, Johnson passes Biffle, and a lap later, Johnson runs out of gas! So, Biffle passes him as he sputters to a stop. Then, not too many seconds later, Biffle runs out of gas! So, Mark Martin passes him to win. Jeff Gordon comes in second. Biffle's momentum kept him in the top 10, but Johnson had to stop for gas to finish the race! What did I learn from this?
1. Jimmy Johnson: Don't quit. Do what you need to do to finish what you start. He stopped for gas, got enough to get back out, and complete all the laps. It had, according to the announcers, no effect on where he finished, only that he was able to claim he finished all 400 miles. Seem silly? It's not. It is not always easy to follow-through your commitments, but do it. Lately, I'm feeling like I'm low on gas, but I was reminded that, while it may not matter that much, it shows what type of person I am if I will gas up and go finish anyway.
2. Greg Biffle: Don't let somebody push you around. Biffle's crew knew Johnson was as low on gas as he was. But, Biffle got into the contest with Johnson over speed, which burned up both of their tanks. Neither won. If Biffle had let Johnson go by a lap or two earlier, Johnson would have run out, and Biffle wouldn't have. Life's not quite a car race, but the principle is this: Don't waste your energy competing in someone else's game. Do what you know you should do.
3. Jeff Gordon: Came in second. Finished the race with gas in his tank. Why? Because he was trying to conserve resources. He probably could have passed Mark Martin, but didn't. He brought fuel back to the truck. Why? You have a limited amount of resources, yes, but you can't take any of them with you. Use them to do what you're there for.
4. Mark Martin: Stick with the plan, and do the best you can. Sometimes you can do something about the opposition, and sometimes it will do itself in.
5. All of the drivers: there were some post-race interviewees that talked like Johnson shouldn't have pushed Biffle. I think he did the right thing. People don't go to races to see amazing fuel mileage. They go to see cars race, and if fuel comes into play, so be it. Race the car, and see what happens.
In life, we have a certain amount of time and energy. Some of us have limited physical resources, like money, fame, good looks, and talent. Use what you have. I want to use my time, energy, and what I have of the other 4 to accomplish the strengthening of God's kingdom. I don't want to run out now, and putter through the rest of life, but I also don't want to get to heaven and hand over to my Lord all the fuel He gave me instead of giving Him the trophy from winning, or at least finishing the race.
(and I won't smash it at the awards ceremony either, Kyle, but that's another post for another day)
June 15 2009
Proverbs 15:1 ->Be wise in your responses.
Proverbs 15:8 ->If your heart isn't right and your life is opposed by God, then no amount of stuff will buy his favor.
Proverbs 15:28 ->Don't be in a rush to answer quickly.
1 Peter 1:8 ->Tangible proof is not the key to the Christian life. Love for One we do not see, belief in the One do not see lead to inexpressible joy!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
June 13 2009
Proverbs 13:22 ->Not about leaving wealth, but how sinfulness undoes planning
Proverbs 13:8 ->It's nice to live un-threatened!
1 Peter 1:7 ->Life that shows our faithfulness is better than any wealth.
Proverbs 13:15 ->Or "an enduring rut." So, enduring ruts are not good. How many do we have?
Quote: "Don't argue for other people's weaknesses. Don't argue for your own. When you make a mistake, admit it, correct it, and learn from it--immediately."---Stephen R. Covey
Thought: Move forward. You will obtain little benefit from constantly arguing over the past.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
June 11 2009
Proverbs 11:5 ->Evil actions are their own snare.
Proverbs 11:22 -> Hollywood!
Proverbs 11:31 ->Hmm...we will get what we have coming? That could hurt!
Revelation 11:13 -> "Giving glory" is not the same as true worship.
Galatians 2:21 ->Legalism isn't the answer. It's not even a footnote.
1 Peter 1:6 ->Our salvation is cause to rejoice! even though we have to face trials--Peter calls them necessary. Not optional.
Quote: "How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things but by how well we are understood." -Andrew S. Grove
Thought #1: Communication is the transmission of message. If the message doesn't get there, you didn't communicate.
Thought #2: This demands understanding your audience.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Sam Rainer on 10 Bad Church Work Habits
This merits thought and discussion!
Link to DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed
DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed: Who Do You Say That I Am?
What's your answer?
June 10 2009
Proverbs 10:2 ->Which is why the government and many huge industries are in such trouble.
Proverbs 10:12 ->Stirs up new strife, unnecessary conflict. It's not hatred to respond or to deal with evil.
Galatians 2:11 ->Correcting others can be for their benefit, and should be. Peter was condemned for his actions, he was wrong. Paul did right be correcting him.
1 Peter 1:5 ->Protected, not by our strength, nor our combined efforts, nor politics, but by God!
Quote: "A man would do well to carry a pencil in his pocket, and write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable, and should be secured, because they seldom return." -Francis Bacon
Thought #1: "If you don't write it down, it never happened." -Caroline Ryan, Tom Clancy's novels.
Thought #2: "I wrote them down so I wouldn't have to remember." -Henry Jones, Sr. from one of the greatest movie trilogies known. (nuke the fridge doesn't count)
Thought #3: Elton Trueblood, one of the better preachers of the 20th Century, made it a habit to carry 3x5 index cards around for this purpose. He was able through this method to write a book a year, using only a few dedicated weeks to sort through the cards and connect the thoughts.
Thought #4: I'm going to work on this.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
People on the fringe
Case in point: Shooting an abortionist, even if it closes down his clinic, is no solution. Neither is his death something to have looked for or even sought in prayer. His repentance was something to be sought. Now it will not happen. However, we've spent a lot of ink in pro-life and conservative Christian circles beating that horse. Fruitcakes with guns do not represent me. This also the claim that many Muslims make. I'm getting a little irritated that the media and the government buys that fruitcakes with guns don't represent Muslims, but they don't agree that they don't represent Christians. And if you're keeping score, the fruitcakes claiming to be Muslims have killed a lot more in the last 10 years than the ones claiming to be Evangelical Christians. Since 2000, I think they're up in the several thousands range. So far, we've got the guy in Kansas killing one, the guy in East Tennessee that shot up the liberal church, but I still think we're under 10. So, even if pseudo-Christians with guns are closer to Christianity than pseudo-Muslims with guns are to Islam, who's more dangerous?
Case in point: It is perfect expected that when you pray, you be honest with God. After all, if God's worth praying to, He already knows what's in your heart and mind. So if you wish bad things to happen, you should tell God that. And then you should ask God for the strength to show the same love that Christ had: that you would suffer and die to see that person brought to repentance. Not that someone would shoot your enemy or anything else. But now, we're having to distance ourselves as Baptists from a Baptist pastor who expressed a desire to see the President dead if he doesn't repent. Now, I'm sure truly persecuted Christians would like to see something happen to end their persecution, but in all the reports I read of Chinese Christians being persecuted, of Christians in Muslim countries being persecuted, of historical persecutions, I don't see them praying for their persecutors to die. So where do we American Christians who have it so easy get the right to pray for Tiller or President Obama to die? We don't get that right. We get the right to pray they get right before God before God's judgment comes on them. However, some of us will do anything to get in the media.
And we need to stop it. And I think we need to start ignoring it. Rather than denounce it or anything else, just ignore it. Every time we have to denounce something, we draw more attention to it. It's like reporting the names and methods of serial killers. They want to be known, so they do some evil deeds, and they get reported on, and so they get what they want. Which drives the next nut job to do the same thing, or even step it up a notch, to get more attention.
So, what happens next? Well, the next guy will try to bomb an abortion clinic (again) resulting in more accusations at the pro-life community, and the next preacher on the fringe will call it good, and we'll go through this whole mess again.
Of course, meanwhile a Muslim will murder Americans, possibly soldiers fresh home from boot camp, and it'll be ignored. The President will condemn the abortion shooter, but ignore the Army shooter. The one who made a living killing babies will be lauded as a hero, while the man serving his country will go down to his grave quietly, barely heralded. Federal marshals will protect abortion clinics while recruiters are open targets.
Oh, wait, we won't let that part happen again, will we?
For the record: I'm not part of the lunatic fringe, and neither are 98% of Americans. 1% wants to kill everybody less conservative than they are, the other 1% wants to kill those less liberal. The rest of us, honestly, could probably get along. If we could talk about something other than the ridiculous behavior of the other 2%.
June 9 2009
Proverbs 9:8-9 ->How I respond to rebuke and instruction reveals what type of person I am: wise or foolish.
Revelation 10:7 ->This is the conclusion, perhaps linked to Colossians 1:27 ->At this point, are we where no one else receives the hope of glory?
1 Peter 1:4 ->Rather than an earthly kingdom, Christ brought us the imperishable. Why do we keep wanting the perishable?
Quote: "There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. That little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative." -W. Clement Stone
Thought #1: What you think drives what you do.
Thought #2: Is attitude really the big difference maker? Or do some people just get lucky?
June 8 2009
Proverbs 8:25 ->Before the physical, God created wisdom, so that the physical world would have a structure.
Galatians 2:20 ->This verse is one of the foundations of decision making processes. All that is about me is pointless. After all, I'm dead.
Revelation 10:10 ->Somethings seem good to say, make us feel awful inside after doing so.
1 Peter 1:3 ->Our hope is "living" rather than static. It is capable, because He is capable, of meeting us at whatever point of need we have.
Quote: "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." -Henry David Thoreau
Thought #1: Perhaps one should also consider this counterpoint example.
Thought #2: If it weren't for people who live with the success brought on in common hours, Thoreau would have died in jail for tax evasion.
Thought #3: But, hey, if you've got nothing to lose, go for it.
Monday, June 8, 2009
What is the deal with a government that raises taxes on tobacco, because it's bad for you, yet the President smokes cigarettes?
What is the deal with a government that wants to raise fuel taxes, to make more roads, when they don't want you to drive in the first place?
What is the deal with people jetting around the world to global warming conferences in the first place?
What is the deal with the government planning on taxing health care plans to pay for health care plans? Can anyone explain that? Why should it cost me more to get health insurance to pay for affordable health care?
What is the deal with celebrities that whine about how we're destroying the earth, but keep making movies about the destruction of the earth? That include CGI graphics that take a lot of electricity to generate? And that people go sit in air-conditioned movie theaters to watch?
What is the deal with taxing the stew out of rich people? Aren't they the ones that own the businesses that most people work for? Why are they going to pay out more in taxes and keep hiring people?
What is the deal with the growing animosity towards large families? Is it that the government realizes that ordinary people are going to outnumber them by sheer population soon?
What is the deal with a Congress that wants to raise taxes and make Americans work for months just to pay their taxes, and then it's newsworthy that, for one whole month, they might actually have to work 5 days a week?
What is the deal with sticking a Buy American provision in the Stimulus package, then the government forcing the sale of Hummer to the Chinese and all of Chrysler to a European company in Fiat? How does that put Americans to work? And rather than $30 billion, why not just buy $30 billion worth of cars? Wouldn't that have helped? And then the President could have given them away to his supporters, instead of forcing non-supporters out of work ala Dealeargate?
This pictures shows it all, the great hypocrisy of America. I can't help but think that the President drives this one in his off-time:
see more Fail Blog
Just as an observation, everything at Fail isn't family friendly. So, be warned.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Of special days and freedoms
Please note other nations involved included many of those conquered by the Nazis, such as Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Also, New Zealand and Australia were technically part of the UK/British forces, though they contributed, as Canada did, intact units. Also, resistance units in France were strongly bolstered by as many as 50000 Poles and others from other conquered nations.
First of all, I learned something today about the place of D-Day in history. According to one show on the History Channel, this was the first successful opposed crossing of the English Channel in 900 years. Looking back, I think that puts William the Conqueror as the last success, although there was a crossing in the 1600s by William III. Both of those invasions, however, were into England.
I'm not a historical expert, so I'll leave all of the recounting of details to those who are. I just want to share my thoughts on the costs of freedom, and the call of it.
First of all, freedom has a price. The first price is paid when freedom is first one. We Americans celebrate July 4 as the day to remember the first blushes of freedom here, and others remember other days. We use July 4, because it's the day most obviously connected to our Declaration of Independence, with the great phrase that "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." While we've since had to elaborate that "all men" should be understood as "all humanity," it's still the best statement on freedom I've seen. All people should be allowed to live, to have liberty, which is freedom with responsibility, and the pursuit of happiness. Note, there is no guarantee of happiness.
Note also the source of rights:the Creator. Now, Jefferson, rightly I think, didn't link this to a particular religion, though I have one I think is right, but instead used an open concept of "Creator." This is important. We don't have rights because our government gives them to us. We have rights because our Creator gives them to us. We have a government to help protect those rights.
Unfortunately, it took the lives of men and women to secure those rights.
Another cost of freedom is the battle to preserve it. That battle, unlike the losses necessary to establish freedom, has a continual cost. It's the battles that have been fought since our freedom has been established.
It's the cost paid by the men and women of the 101st Airborne, among many others, that jumped into France in 1944. It's the cost paid by the regiments of the Civil War, the sailors of the US Navy, and the pilots and crewmen of the Air Force. It's first a price of blood to defend freedom, and secondly a price of lives lived, prepared to pay the price of blood. Both are sacrifices made with great honor.
Why does freedom demand sacrificial lives to obtain it and keep it? Because tyranny is easy. It's easy to be so self-absorbed that you don't notice tyranny sneaking in on you and your nation. It's easy to be so angered by things you deem evil that you will allow tyranny to defeat it. It's easy to decide that tyranny won't really affect you, so just leave it alone.
Yet tyranny, in all its forms, affects us all. June 5, 1989, a group of people that yearned for their Creator-endowed freedom were destroyed by the tyrants that dominated their land. The people of China remain under the yoke of tyranny to this day, despite the heroic efforts of the people in Tiananmen square. Why? Because tyranny is easier, because the bulk of the people, despite the many restrictions on their lives, have just enough stuff to get through the day. They have enough food, a roof over their head, and medical care. So, why risk it?
That's a question that is often asked in current Communist countries, and asked in the past tense in former ones. It's easy to forget the lessons, the bread lines, the oppression, when your country has gone from long bread lines to no bread to stand in line to receive. When basic things like garbage collection or hospitals no longer operate, since the government isn't taking all your wages to provide them.
We sit a crossroads in America, and have to make choices to pay the final cost of liberty. The cost of inconvenience. Our liberty isn't threatened by outside armies today. The men and women from D-Day, through Inchon, Saigon, Baghdad and Afghanistan have secured that. Realistically, terrorists cannot take our liberty or overthrow our country, but they can cause us to surrender it. We have chosen, sometimes since September 11, 2001, to take the easy road to protect ourselves, surrendering our liberties and freedoms for protection. Yet that was footsteps on the road to tyranny. I understand that evil people use email, the internet, and airplanes, but to have the government read every email? To give the government authority to shutdown any internet segment they deem dangerous? To make a list of merely "suspicious" people that aren't allowed to fly? These things move us down a dangerous road.
Then we come forward to today, and again, inconvenience raises its ugly head to strike against our liberty. We find our banks, our industries, and, perhaps most frighteningly, our health care on the way to being directed by our government. Why? Because it's too difficult for us to find real solutions that fit the American way of life. Because we cannot risk that others may profit from things, and cut us out. Because we don't want people to have stuff we don't have.
This is where the problem hinges. We are now so enamored in our country of making everything and everyone equal, we've forgotten that liberty, inherently, allows for some people to rise above. Notice the three rights endowed by our Creator: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There's no guarantee that all will get happiness, nor anything else. Just life and liberty, to be free to pursue it. It's not a promise of easy opportunity, nor really even equal opportunity, but that some opportunity will exist.
And now, we're regressing, because we don't remember that liberty can be, at times, inconvenient. And that another aspect of this inconvenience is life with a conscience. Above, there's the date June 5, 1989, which is significant in our history. True, we imported many things from China, going back to President Nixon's normalization of relations with them. But since the early 1990s, I believe the rates of skyrocketed. (I am looking for a graph to substantiate it. If you have it or contrary evidence, post it in the comments.) Why? because it's good profit. Yet 1989 was also the year the Berlin Wall fell, and communism in Eastern Europe and Russia really began to come apart. Their economies needed a boost, and to this day could use one. Can you conceive what it might have done for us to import toys and electronics from Yugoslavia, instead of the Yugo? How about to have Russian workers making toasters? Our conscience should have driven us to deprive tyranny of our business, yet, instead, we chose convenience. We chose cheap, disposable electronics. Which put Americans out of work. Then we exported those jobs, not to developing free lands, but to a tyrannical government.
And now, we owe them so much that they are instructing our government what our national financial policy should be. We have lost that battle for our freedom.
We have depended on cars and oil for our convenience that we are tied, irrevocably, to nations that despise freedom. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, all are suppliers of our oil, yet they provide no freedom to their people. Well, Iran allows you freedom to be a Muslim or to be killed by Muslims, but that's hardly true freedom. It will be inconvenient to change our oil driven lives, but we must find a way. Or, we must find a way to meet our own needs. But it will be difficult. And we're fast losing our national will to deal with difficult.
What is so disturbing about this? The first price of liberty is always blood. It must be preserved through both blood and lifestyle, but it has to be won with blood.
Which means that, as we surrender our liberty, by considering letting the UN tell us how to raise our children, by allowing the government to make our health care decisions, by sitting at the table with those who slaughter dissidents and innocents, we are losing something we cannot get back just by voting. When we fund the UN Population fund, that finances forced abortion in China; when we buy oil from Saudi Arabia, that finances persecution of all non-Muslims; when we import cheap shirts from Vietnam, that finances a communist oppression of those people; when we ignore our conscience and the power of impacting the world with our dollars, just so we can make bigger profit, we are losing our freedom through financing tyranny.
When we take from those who do, just to fund those who don't. When we try to force people's behavior just through taxing to death their activities, when we seize people's property, not on conviction, but on arrest. When we disarm law-abiding citizens, when we break our promises to preceding generations and to our veterans, we are letting our convenience destroy our liberty.
And when it's gone, it won't come back through an internet petition. It won't come back with signs in the street or through whining on television. Glenn Beck won't be able to make it happen from his TV show, nor will Keith Olbermann. Rachel Maddow and Ann Coulter won't be the ones to bring it back. The ladies of the View nor the hosts of Sunday morning news shows will not be able to do it for us.
It will be that the men and women, both old and young, will have to pay the price of blood again to establish our freedom. Those of age enough will have to fight, and those who are too old or too young will suffer through the horrors of it. Our SUVs won't be strong enough, and our Prius's won't be efficient enough for it. Only our blood will buy it back.
Let us stop ignoring the lessons of July 4, 1776; June 6, 1944; June 5, 1989; and all the days that have shown that liberty is never easy to maintain. Hasn't enough blood been spent? Yet our lifestyle will force us to spend more.
To the men and women who have bled for freedom, we say thank you. To those who have lost their loved ones to wars for freedom, we say thank you. Yet I fear that thanks are not enough anymore. I'm afraid we're about to have to add to our statements the words "I'm sorry." "I'm sorry you lost your sons at D-day to secure the world from tyranny, and we gave it back." "I'm sorry you gave your life to defend America from communism, and we voted it in anyway." "I'm sorry you died trying to free your country, but buying from communists is just cheaper."
Thank you to those who have fought for freedom. As yet, it was not in vain. Let us stand together and make sure that it never becomes that way.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Randoms of the week
2. I like these new shirts from Despair.com. (no consideration for the link. Didn't even win one in the release drawing.)
3. Citrus Computers could make mp3 players. Call them Tangerines.
4. This headline: Developing News: Data Shows Crime Down In Little Rock. Now, since Little Rock is north of us, I read this one way. But if I were in Fayetteville, I'm thinking "Don't go to Little Rock! There's crime down in Little Rock."
5. I like twitter, but this is funny:
6.Looks like the Senate may have to actually work a whole month. Poor dears. They need a raise. Or better, just send them a cookie. No, send them half a cookie, with a note that you have withheld taxes from it. If your Senator is wealthy, as defined by the media, which means making more than $50,000, or by the President, which means more than $250,000, then tax them at Jimmy Carter levels: 70%.
7. Or just be mean, get an oreo, lick out the filling, and mail them the outsides. They'll get an envelope full of black crumbs, hopefully to contemplate as the USPS asks for a bailout.
8. Did you know most major TV broadcasts are available with Spanish audio? They are. There is a little pop-up at the beginning of things like the NBA Finals that says "This broadcast available in Spanish. Push the SAP button on your remote." And it says it in ENGLISH! If you can read it in English, why do you need to hear it in Spanish? Shouldn't it print the pop-up in Spanish?
9. One more:
After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.
Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, a California archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story in the LA Times read: "California archaeologists, finding traces of 200 year old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers."
One week later, The Coon Valley Journal, a local newspaper in Wisconsin, reported the following: After digging as deep as 30 feet in his pasture near Coon Valley, Wis., Ole Olson, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Ole has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Wisconsin had already gone wireless.
(Like that? Check out www.mikeysfunnies.com)
Sermon Recap for June 4
Good evening! Running late this week with civic responsibilities...here's the sermon recap from Sunday, June 4th!
Part I-Monday PM, sermon due for 3/8, PM Service First step should go without saying, but it will be mentioned, because it can't go with...
So I still, from time to time, get books to review. It works like this: I get a free book and agree to review it. Then I beg for an extensio...
Here are the sermons for this past month...I know, it's been a month. :)