Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Elections

Haven't blogged in a long time. Not much to say that has come to mind that might be helpful or impactful in people's lives, so no need to put more words out there (as if there weren't already enough). Maybe we should start worrying about word overpopulation instead of world overpopulation.

But with the elections coming up, maybe just a few things. Not really deep thoughts (plenty of wiser men have already written), not just political bullying, and not just bemoaning, just things that I think that we should think about as believers WHEN we vote.


  1. We are not of this world, we have another home and another kingdom, which is far more valuable. It's King and it's advance is our first priority.
  2. We are given the privilege to vote for our representatives and governmental leaders in this country. Even if we don't like our choices, realize the blessing. I'll stop short of saying it is a Christian duty to vote, but I think you should.
  3. God is the one who raises up kings and kingdoms, and he also removes them, and he does it all for his purposes. Sometimes we are not to know those purposes.
  4. Vote your conscience! There are not only two choices. Refuse to be bullied into doing something that goes against your convictions. Know the candidates, and the likelihood of the ramifications of your vote. It does count.
  5. There are some issues which candidates hold that are deal-breakers, such as abortion. There are some that really important. Then there are some that are preferential. 
  6. Realize that thoughtful, wise, believers may come to different conclusions, especially as it relates to the last two of the previous categories. This is okay. We can still love each other, and especially in the public sphere, we must resist the urge to respond in anger.
  7. Realize that the candidates are substantially different on many issues, but people thought that Obama was the anti-Christ and would bring the destruction of the country, and people thought that about Bush before that. America will be here after Clinton, Trump, or whoever the House of Representatives chooses if nobody reaches 270 electoral votes. Research your constitution, too. Know what happens "if..." So stop decrying the end of civilization as we know it. Politics are corrupt, shouldn't be a surprise to you.
  8. Trust Jesus Christ, fixing your eyes on the things above, pressing on toward the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ!
Just my thoughts. Thanks for both of you who read it :-) 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Building Bridges

I know it's not a new idea, it's just something new to us at The Road. With all the tension in our country right now related to race, we are trying to take steps to demonstrate our commitment to the gospel. It shows no partiality to any ethnicity, nationality, nor skin color. This week The Road is going to worship with a church that is predominantly African American. The language and the situation that I just described betrays our view of American Christianity and race; and also our theology of "race," which is probably the worse of the two. In thinking about this piece, and knowing that Answers in Genesis has some of the best teaching that there is no such thing as race, I went to their site, and they have a tremendous article on the topic on their home page because of the urgency of the issue. These are the best quotes from that article.

"The church is right to reject secular answers that ignore the problem’s spiritual dimension. However, the church is wrong when it refuses to demonstrate biblical answers to the same problems. While we proclaim that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people, our relationships and friendships, especially within the church, too often expose our lack of efforts to achieve this biblical diversity. The Apostle Paul eloquently summarizes a proper passion to reach all humanity (“all men”) when he writes of his desire “to become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19–22; see also Galatians 3:26–28)."
"We need to recognize that our problem is not skin color but sin division. A biblical perspective on sin and the gospel is not a trite answer; it’s the answer. No other answer will work.
May God grant us the loving wisdom to pursue “grace relations” rather than race relations. Grace relations affirm the truths clearly taught in Genesis 1–11. We are one race, Adam’s race. But we are a sinful race because of Adam’s disobedience to God’s Word. The source of injustice and dysfunctional relationship today is an outworking of our sinful hearts."
So, I don't have time or wisdom to put all my thoughts down about this issue especially as it relates to gospel-oriented reconciliation and love among diverse peoples, but as for The Road, we don't want to be among the category of churches that this writer describes in that first paragraph that talk equality and diversity and yet "make no effort to achieve biblical diversity." This is a small step, but I think an important one, especially in the southern, rural context in which we live. Hopefully, there will be many steps to follow, and biblical diversity will begin to be achieved in our congregation.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

She's A Maneater

Great song from Hall & Oates from the '80s (yes, I still love '80s music). It warns of a woman who only comes out at night; one who's beauty is present, but a beast is in her heart; and causes men to think they can have her for themselves. They warn that she will "chew you up" and they tell the listener, "I wouldn't, if I were you..."

Their version was released in 1982, but Solomon released a version in about 900 BC. In Proverbs 7:1-27, he warns of a woman dressed as a prostitute (fully-colored, not-so fully covered, gold and jewels, things that catch passing men's attention) who seduced a young man. He said that he saw the woman outside in the open square, on the street corners (the actions of the typical prostitute of that time in Israel) looking for prey. He says that he saw her with a touch and a kiss put a leash on him, leading him right into her bed which was prepared for him with fine linens and sweet perfumes. She assures him of her husband's absence, far away on business, not to return for days. With smooth words and voice, she invites him to enjoy her to his fullest desires till morning.

Solomon described him as one who was devoid of understanding, and as one rushing headlong as an ox to the slaughter. He describes his fall as an arrow through the liver, and a bird caught in a snare. He says the man did not know this would cost him his life. We don't know whether Solomon was speaking of physical life, or his soul, or the many other facets of life that adultery destroys.

So he cries out to other men not to let their hearts be seduced. Solomon, if anyone, knew the power of sexual temptation. He said that it has wounded or destroyed many wise and many strong men. As if he wasn't clear enough, in the final verse, he says that women like these are the doors to hell itself.

Our culture is completely inundated with sex. Sex in movies, sex in shows, sexual innuendos in commercials, books promoted to glorify adultery and immorality. Sex trafficking is a menace upon the world. Pornography is an addiction for millions. The "hook up" cultural as well as the LGBT movement and further damaged the intent of sex. Sex, which was meant as a good gift for a man and a woman to share as a bonding agent in their monogamous marriage, and beautiful picture of the relationship of God and his people, Christ and his church, has been belittled, twisted, and exploited.

So, please heed the warning of a song from 1982, "I wouldn't, if I were you." Heed the warning of Solomon, "her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death," Proverbs 7:27. Guard your heart, "make a covenant with your eyes," Job 31:1, and plead with God to "turn your eyes away from looking at worthless things," Ps 119:37. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, Jesus said in Mark 14:38. Remember the strongest man in the bible (Samson) fell to sexual sin, and it cost him his life. The godliest man in the bible (David) fell to sexual sin, and it cost him the lives of his sons and daughters, and his kingdom for a time. The wisest man in the bible (Solomon) fell to sexual sin, and his heart was led away from the God of Israel to follow after the idols of his wives and concubines, leading Israel astray, splitting it down the middle.

Flee from sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:18), or it will cost you your life, family, job, reputation, testimony, home, respect, dignity, integrity, trustworthiness, and so on. Culture, technology, and our sinfulness has made it an easy destruction.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Apologetics

I watched an intriguing debate yesterday which was held at Bowling Green University. The topic was abortion, and the participants were a man named James Croft and Scott Klusendorf. Croft is a brilliant British humanist/ethicist with a Cambridge/Harvard educational background. Klusendorf is the writer of A Case For Life (which I highly commend to you), a graduate of UCLA and Biola University, and one of the best apologists for a pro-life position.

I really, really encourage you to watch the debate for two reasons.

First, the issues of life are discussed in great detail. Personhood, which is the crux of any argument dealing with abortion is approached from two angles by men attempting to maintain civility and focused positions based on science, logic, and philosophy. Many analogies are given to attempt to bring clarity to the subject matter, which are helpful as we think through the abortion debate. However, as with all analogies and illustrations, they usually break down at some point. Errors and assumptions are pointed out between the presenters that can help you and I not to make the same ones. Viewing it from outside will also help you see places that a position for life can be solidified by paying attention to the actual arguments and not the emotional words, ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments, and illogical conclusions. Additionally, we are able to be enlightened to the opposing position's thoughts and logic. Understanding is good, it helps us stay on target with the actual issue. This debate also points out related issues, such as women's rights, government overreach, and others.

Secondly, and the main reason I wrote this piece, you should watch this debate because it will equip you apologetically. You may say that much of it would be "over my head" because of the caliber of these men and their arguments. This is not a reason, but an excuse, and willful ignorance. Remember that this debate was before an audience of 18-22 year old college students. My conviction is that the church, by and large, is very unequipped to argue for crucial positions of ethics, morality, government, and theology (even though this debate avoided theology intentionally). One of the reasons that we are losing a cultural war is that we are leaving the apologetics up to a few rather than accepting the responsibility to be apologists for the faith and related issues. Peter articulates this responsibility in 1 Peter 3:15 (although I realize that the call to be defenders of faith in context usually deals with our faith).

So don't duck the Jehovah's Witnesses at your door because they might ask you questions you don't know answers to. Don't avoid the topic of abortion because the shame of the lack of understanding. Don't cower in fear when someone brings up the subject of creation and evolution. Don't flee from a person challenging your trust in the bible. Research, think, speak carefully, convince others of truth.

This does not mean that we all must become great apologists, just that must be willing to learn, and purpose to do so. The evidence is there. Science does not refute our positions as evangelical, bible-believing Christians. Nor does archaeology, history, philosophy, or logic. If we have truth, it is perfectly reasonable, in fact, necessary that we investigate, even question it. The temporary result may be that you must ask for time to research a question, but there is no shame in that (if there is, it may be a pride issue within your own heart); you have not lost. You may be ridiculed, but if they did it to Jesus, we should expect no less, John 15:18. Do as the apostles, and rejoice that you are counted worthy suffer rejection, Acts 5:41. Take courage, you can do this. Start with this video.

Friday, August 5, 2016

What is a Covenant?


This week is a special week at The Road. We are going to covenant together as a body officially. People will step up and make this promise below to each other in Christian brotherhood. A covenant is an OT idea stronger than an agreement or a contract; more like a blood oath, a solemn vow, or a three-way promise which we enter into with each other. We will still worship with all the family of Christ who joins us on Sundays, but this group will have a promised commitment to one another, with a desire to be accountable to it, as they follow Christ themselves. Baptists have always been a covenant people, with many churches designing their own in order to capture the important points for their congregation. Here is ours


Having, as we trust, been brought by divine grace to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to give up ourselves to him, and having been baptized upon our profession of faith, in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, we do now, relying on His gracious aid, solemnly and joyfully covenant with each other.
We will work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We will walk together in brotherly love, as becomes the members of a Christian Church, exercise an affectionate care and watchfulness over each other and faithfully admonish and entreat one another as occasion may require.

We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, nor neglect to pray for ourselves and others.

We will endeavor to bring up such as may at any time be under our care, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example to seek the salvation of our family and friends.

We will rejoice at each other’s happiness and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each other’s burdens and sorrows. 
We will seek, by Divine aid, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and remembering that, as we have been voluntarily buried by baptism and raised again from the symbolic grave, so there is on us a special obligation now to lead a new and holy life. 
We will work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines. We will contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations. 
We will, when we move from this place, as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word. 
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.
So excited for this Sunday, and for the body of Christ known as The Road!


Friday, July 22, 2016

Can My Worldview Not Affect My Judgment?

Can one truly get unbiased opinions, even about facts (things true that correspond to reality, which is the definition of a Correspondence view of Truth)

I read an article this morning that affirmed a principle that would be helpful for us all to remember as we evaluate our decisions in life, especially those that related to pressing issues. This article deals specifically with an attempt by a homeschool curriculum producer to give an unbiased "worldview friendly" curriculum. The article was written by Dr. Georgia Purdom of the Answers in Genesis ministry, so it dealt with creation science worldviews, and whether or not one could truly be unbiased related to science, because science, according to the publisher of the curriculum is only based on "observable" facts.

I also had a conversation on Twitter last week with a woman with a passionate agenda, who after some obvious evidence simply refused to evaluate words. It was a simple question I asked. I was willing to be persuaded. However, she just did not offer an opinion regarding the accuracy of primary source documentation on a particular website regarding statements and quotations that were made in some of Margaret Sanger's (early eugenics activist, population control, racist, and founder of what would become Planned Parenthood) books and biographies. She just refused to look, claiming she already knew, because she had read Sanger years ago. Her decision was made before ever entering the exchange.

I went on an archaeological dig in Israel in seminary, and the organization that orchestrated that dig was the Associates of Biblical Research, they believed the bible was historically accurate, even down to dates. While there, we were exposed to various interpretations of archaeological data that led to other conclusions by other reseachers. Same evidence, different conclusion.

Many issues face us today: politics (most front and center right now), free speech, right to bear arms, legalization of drugs and gay marriage, education, science (especially creation science, as the previous mentioned article points out), racism, police use of force, and within Christianity theological issues abound, even the Supreme Court is usually divided on major cases down what we could call "conservative" and "liberal" interpretations. The words in the Constitution are clear, previous decisions are clear, but their interpretations are different. One cannot get away from the fact that all people have their biases, from which they start their interpretations of facts; they have a worldview that acts as their filter for ideas and information. We must make sure that ours is informed and accurate.

Of course, other than theology as a pastor, as referenced by the Twitter conversation above, abortion is one of the issues where our biases come through, a big one where we must be informed and accurate. An issue that represents about one million lives each year. As scientific knowledge of human development in utero increases every year due to advances in technology and science, challenges to case law on many levels and to worldview abound. Ultrasound in 3D/4D, surgery in the womb, DNA advancements, cameras, fetal pain studies, earlier viability of babies due to life saving technologies, better mental health assessments related to the damage done by abortion, further studies linking abortion to breast cancer, STDs, future reproductive health, depression, abuse, suicide and other long-term effects; and social media information transmission related to these advancements are changing minds. However, the same information, interpreted by a different worldview (one espousing a pro-abortion point of view) might continue to ignore objective facts, and argue that these things do not undermine choice. They may argue that a baby is not a baby until it is viable outside the womb, or they may say that the first breath is the time where one becomes human. Or they may say that the conditions of conception can justify the taking of life, or various other reasons. Different worldview.

Culture and anecdotal evidence such as illegal sale of "fetal tissue" and the heartless means of extraction and intentionality to make money quick from the business of human body part trafficking are changing hearts. Of course, we can say that changing "hearts" is simply switching biases, even though we may rejoice at the seeming national trend of revulsion against tearing babies limb from limb inside the womb.

So as you believe what you read on the internet (or in print, or the news media for that matter), consider biases. As you choose at the ballot box, consider biases. As you choose curriculum or schools for your children, consider biases. Consider not only the fact that others in these issues and fields have biases, but we all have them, only varying by degree; and most of us do not know it, because we are convinced we are right.

My bias, just in case you are wondering, is an evangelical, Southern Baptist view of biblical Christianity. One of the reasons that I espouse the Christian worldview (differences in flavor aside) is that there is a standard outside of me. And if I believe (bias alert) that the ultimate author of the Bible is God, he will not provide incorrect worldview boundaries. I think that I can make a good case with credible evidence for my view. However, if it were that easy, seemingly everyone would be evangelical (whatever that means right now) Christians.

Thanks for reading, I know this one was kinda long. I like to read relatively short blogs, so I have failed you if you share my preference.

Friday, July 8, 2016

No Respect


In the wake of shootings this week of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the five Dallas officers killed and six others wounded, our hearts are broken and our minds left wondering, "how we could come to this as a country?" Events similar in Fergusson, Baltimore, 62 other officers killed in the line of duty this year, or even things like the Orlando or San Bernardino shootings, they testify to the same: the value placed upon human life has been reduced nearly to nothing. There is definitely a racial element to it, but the underlying cause is that life has been eviscerated of its significance. Murders daily in our major cities, and even in the smallest towns of friends and neighbors, we hear of them everyday. Social media and the news media, have reported news, but I fear they've fanned the flames. Life means much less in our country than it ever has in many eyes.

Lots of reasons that we could speculate as causes; terrorism and war that we have been so much more close to than ever before; violence on TV and video games; the degeneration of the family; the declining influence of religion (and its general restraining morality); just to name a few. I definitely think it's an indicator, but maybe even a cause, maybe the most important cause in the last 50 years. The decision to allow abortion on demand, even though it seemed minor among the Vietnam War, racial integration/civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, and rise of the drug culture, was a defining point in our nation for the way that we evaluate a person's life. It said to our country that even the most defenseless of lives is expendable at another's will without repercussion.

Thousands of unborn children are killed in our country daily (75% from minority populations). Even when we are confronted with harvesting body parts for sale, the nation passes by in apathy, more concerned about the 2016 presidential election than the murder of children. God forms every human being, black or white, sick or well, embryo or senior citizen, democrat or republican, christian or muslim, man or woman, rich or poor, officer or welfare recipient, orphaned or widowed, American or European, in his image. We all represent God to creation. We are like him in special ways that all of creation is not. Therefore, since our lives have a unique display of his glory, our worth is inestimable. If only we saw it that way.

God, reveal your glory. Open our eyes to infinite worth, so that we may understand transferred worth. Let the mind of Christ be in us that humility will reign in us. Bring forth beauty from ashes in our land now...we beg you.