Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trust In His Holy Name

"Our soul waiteth for the Lord: He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee."

-- Psalm 33:20-22

Saturday, August 22, 2009

SBC Concerns

Having been in the Southern Baptist Convention my entire life, having been born and bred in a SBC pastor's home, educated in SBC schools, and now a pastor myself in SBC churches I feel that I can comment with some (not infinite, not perfect - just some) insight.

1. I ask where are the pastors and lay people?
It seems more and more we look to the seminaries for our leadership. Just recently Dr Mohler spoke concerning the future of the SBC and we were all instructed in the blogosphere to listen and heed. Dr Akin delivers the GCR message and sits at the wheel of leading that charge.
Perhaps this is because it is in the seminaries where the energy (i.e. youthfulness) and spare time lies. It is in the student ranks (and recently graduated) that movements are normally born. They look to and buy into their professors' ideals and goals. Their professors (and presidents) become real heroes and guiding lights. If the professors and presidents get behind and start pushing, it is not long before the students get behind and then force the issue -- via, in the present age, blogs and other forms of new media. Professors and presidents, though very busy, are usually around and can kick around ideas and theories and find a willing audience with which to dialogue.
Pastors are usually surrounded with people who are older and do not care too much about the machinations of the SBC, ideas or even theology very much (they do, they just don't know it). Pastors are usually with sick people, hurting people, lost people, miserable people, hungry people. In the off time, they are with a dutiful wife who seeks to make ends meet living on a pastor's salary and does not have a lot of energy to discuss Mark Driscoll and our involvement with Acts 29 or the rise of Calvinists in the SBC.
Maybe we need seminary presidents and professors and students and mega-church CEOs (I mean pastors) to dream the big dreams, scheme the big schemes.

Which leads me to my second concern,
2. If it is not happening in the local, no-name church, will it happen at all?
Right now the big push is the GCR. If one looks at the names of the folks that have officially signed on, we see a lot of pastors, students, professors, bureaucrats, staff people, etc. The SBC is made up of some 14 million people. Where are they? Would they sign the page if their pastor told them to go to the website and sign it? Perhaps. The signatories might swell. They might read about it in the SBC ghetto journalism outlets (ie, state papers, homelife, mature living, open windows). But most probably will go through their daily lives and to their graves and never realize that a GCR even exists or existed -- and they'll be OK with this.
We (pastors, presidents, bureaucrats, ghetto journalists) will go to the SBC next year, we'll sit on the edge of our seats waiting for the report of the GCR Study Committee, we'll see BIG, over-the-top banners and slogans promoting the GCR and so forth and so on. Then we'll come back to the hungry, hurting people we see everyday. And little (in the big picture) will have changed.

UNLESS (and this is where I think if anything REAL is going to happen this is where it has to happen ------) people, the 14 million nameless and faceless Christians that make up the SBC, get serious about following and loving the Lord Jesus Christ. BIG plans, BIG thrusts, BIG resurgences can be promoted until the cows come home, but will not accomplish much until Christians get seriously in love with Jesus. Jesus says that if we love Him we will follow His commands. We are not seeing the Great Commission carried out with much fervency because so-called Christians don't really love Jesus with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. Until this happens, in the 40,000 local, nameless, un-MEGA churches filled with everyday people we will continue to spin our wheels.

Seminaries, teach the men to go out to these churches and to focus NOT on themselves, NOT on the convention, NOT on style,
BUT to model and live before the 14 million - - -passionate, red-hot LOVE for Jesus, and because of LOVE for Jesus, we will follow His commands and carry out the GC.

I pray everyday that our local church, all 330 members, here in this corner of Rockingham County, NC will bring glory to God, by sharing the love of Jesus Christ with Monroeton and the world. I also realize that I must lead, have been called by God to lead, these 330 Southern Baptists -- they do not know seminary presidents, Ed Stetzer or Mark Driscoll, they don't know where the SBC will meet next year and probably do not care. But I pray they love Jesus, and because they love Him they/we will be faithful to carry out His Great Commission.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Michael Vick & Us

Trust me, I have never been a real Michael Vick fan. I detest Virginia Tech football, and when the highly-touted Vick chose to go there to college, it just gave me more reason. I thought that Vick was a pampered athlete, probably all through his athletic life - always praised, never corrected, never disciplined. I imagine when he went off to Tech he was given star treatment. Do we really think that super-stud athletes are held to the same standards (academic and otherwise) as every other student?

When he went off to the NFL, now, in my thinking, he became a rich thug. Flipping off the fans, going through airports with stash pot and being let go, but hey everyone was buying his jersey and the Georgia Dome was packed on Sundays -- whose gonna mess that up with accountability?

Then, as always, one's sin finds you out. (Just ask Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.) He was convicted of the horrible crime of cruelty, systematic cruelty, to animals. This time he would pay for his actions.

Now he has served his time. He has apologized. He has re-signed to play again in the NFL. Many are outraged, saying he should not be allowed to play. That the Eagles are sick to sign him and so forth and so on. No, I do not relish seeing him play football again in the NFL - but not because of his crime. He will have it hard -- especially when he goes to a rival stadium -- and with the media. I wouldn't want to be him.

This has me thinking -- what about when folks come into our church, folks with a past. Especially in a small community where everybody knows everybody, and all that everybody has done. When they come in, we stare and talk and whisper and get on the phone and talk some more -- "you wouldn't believe WHO was in church yesterday!"

What if that person is really sorry for what they have done in the past and they are trying to start over? What if they have repented and trusted Christ for forgiveness? Why do we make it hard on them? Where would ANY of US be were it not for Jesus? Where is the humility in the body of Christ? Don't WE ALL deserve hell? Where would we be if not for God's amazing grace that saves wretches like me?

I pray that the Christian church, including my own, will be a place of refuge for sinners needing forgiveness and life. It is the sick that need healing, not the well.

I think instead of condemning Michael Vick, I will pray for him. I will pray for Tony Dungy who continues to work with Vick. And I will pray that Michael Vick will be surrounded by Christians - you know, "little Christs" who will love him.

I will also pray for churches, that we will love sinners the way Jesus has loved us.

Monday, August 03, 2009

A Rebellious Wretch

I stand amazed and wonder how a perfect, holy God could love a sinful, rebellious, wretch like me -- and love me enough to send His only begotten Son to take my place on the cross, to endure the judgement of sin, as God poured out His wrath - not on me, but on Christ Jesus, that the likes of me might have fellowship with Him.

Thank You God for saving me.

I have nothing in which to boast.

All glory to God.