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September 2014

August 2014 entries

My Reaction to our New Mission Leader and What His Election Means

I wish to remain as objective as I can and choose my words carefully as I write. Only a few minutes ago did I learn the identity of the new prsident of the Southern Baptist's International Mision Board. He is David Platt, senior pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingaham, Al. David is an author, husband and devoted father. He has a heart for the underprivileged of the world and has made more than just shallow gestures and has shown intense concern followed by personal action. His book, Radical, has caused a lot of people to reconsider their materialistic lifestyles and look to get involved in caring for the hurting. His heart and his integrity are not what concern me.

What does concern me is that David is at the forefront of the Calvinistic reformation of the Southern Baptist Convention. His close association with men like Al Mohler, John Piper and Mark Dever place him squarely in the camp of those trying to shape SBC polity and doctrine. The fact that Pastor Platt was elected by the trustees of the IMB says that the weight of influence has now swung in the favor of those who teach God's predertimantion over the free election of man in salvation. This is not the same denomination I have been a part of for over 30 years. Gone are the days of Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, and W.A. Criswell. Gone soon will be  the days of pleading with men to accept the free offer of salvation. Fearful if they were to leave without making a decision to follow Christ they may be eternally lost without Him. My heart breaks for our denomination. My heart breaks for the lost.

I want to state as clearly as I know how that the God I serve would never condemn any man, woman, girl or boy to hell. I will preach that until my last breath regardless of the direction the SBC takes from this day forward. Lord, help us all!     


Oh, How Things Have Changed

Disclaimer: If you read this blog for deep spiritual insight only you should leave this page immediately. For those who are one day older today than you were yesterday; read on.

After two weeks of painful spasms and burning in my lower back my wife and I ventured out (slowly) Saturday to purchase a new mattress. Our old one is turning 8 years old and is only a shadow of its former self. Following my strict dogma of getting at least two prices for any major purchase we left the first store and headed toward another. The second was to be a mere formality to justify my legalistic rule mentioned above. We had already determined to buy a similar mattress as 8 years before and were surprised at the reasonable cost. We had found it at the first store and were pleased with the pleasant demeanor of the salesman.

Expecting to spend only a few moments in the second store before ordering our mattress from the first, I walked into the showroom already half bent over in pain. The short ride from one store to the next had sent my pain level into the red zone.

"Well hello ya'll I'll be with you in just a second" a resounding voice said from the back of the store. Withing seconds the sweet lady was extending her hand toward my wife and me. She introduced herself and quickly led us to a bed asking all the while about my back. She said "We'll start right here on this Cadillac. I don't expect you will buy this one but it's where I always start. Go on get up in that bed. Don't worry about taking your shoes off neither. That's what that thing right there's for" she said as she pointed at a cloth cover on the foot of the bed. Marilyn and I climbed in. It felt a lot like ours did before 8 years of wear and tear. Then she did it. Without knowing it my feet began to raise. Then my head. In just moments my feet were slightly above my heart and something miraculous took place. For the first time in more than two weeks my back no longer hurt.  

The saleslady smiled when she saw the relief on my face. She had been hiding a remote behind her back the whole time. This girl was good. Then she said, "Now I'm going to let the bed back down, honey." As the bed became more horizontal my pain began to return. I accused her of going beyond horizontal because now it felt awkward to lay there. "No, honey it's just like the bed you sleep on at home. It's not a hard mattress you need. You've just been sleeping in the wrong position." She returned the bed to it's position with my head and feet elevated. I handed the credit card to my wife. Sold!

Now I am anxiously awaiting the beds arrival on Wednesday. To say that I'm excited would be a gross understatement. I could not be more excited if I were being given a new Ferrari. Sad isn't it. My youngest son called it a nursing home bed. He asked would it also turn, elevate and help me ourt of bed. I clearly explained to him that we did not purchase that option. However, it could be added later. As we get older different things excite us than when we were younger. The mountains are more appealing than the beach. (It's a bathing suit thing.) Comfort is more exciting than speed. Men's waistbands get higher as women's hems get lower. And I'll opt for a good home cooked meal any day over a fancy restaurant because the conversation is more important than the food when you get my age.

So I'm counting the minutes until the bed arrives. Wednesday night heavens bells are going to chime..... Did I mention it vibrates too?        


Gravity

It is unsettling to see so many public figures spiraling out of control. Their lives are fodder for nightly entertainment programs, blogs and podcasts that prosper by exposing and  dispersing their unfortunate public exhibitions of stupidity. This is particularly true as it relates to young men and women whose gifts and talents position them to do so much good in this world if they were able to remain intact. I believe God has a unique purpose for each of  us. He gifts some with great personal attributes so that they may do great things according to His divine plans. This is why the enemy works overtime to destroy or discredit these young lives before their potential is ever realized. What happens to cause such senseless waste of potential?

I propose one way such a tragedy takes place. In God's economy He has created the irrefutable law of gravity. Things that have mass have gravity. The greater the mass the greater the gravity. This law not only relates to inanimate objects but to people as well. So as a person's life becomes increasingly large he or she will draw more people around themselves. Jesus said, "And I, If I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself." (John 12:32) Jesus was of course talking about His death. When we magnify Jesus by sharing His great love for us then people will be drawn to Him. As He becomes greater He draws multitudes as a gravitational pull to His side.

So, as these talented and promising young stars get more attention and fame their mass increases. In essence they are "lifted up" in the eyes of millions who live vicariously through their misadventures. With gravity comes influence. It is intriguing to consider that although the moon is much smaller than the earth it greatly affects the way the earth behaves. So it is with us as our lives become more publicly exploited. Before long, these gifted young talents are acting in ways contrary to their nature and resembling more of those who have been attracted by their fame. Parents are replaced by managers and high school friends are squeezed out in favor of admiring fans.

I have also seen this is my world. Christian leaders, in a much smaller way than the music or movie industry, increase in popularity and influence. As their mass increases (no fat preacher jokes here please, I know what you are thinking) so does the number of followers. Before long the temptation is to change one's behavior according to the expectations of their admirers. Gravity is not a bad thing at all. After all God created the concept so it must have purpose. I have found that a large church has mass. The larger the church the greater the gravity. There is literally not a week out of the year where we are not visited by people who have never walked in the doors of our church. Each week we are seen in dozens of countries and 40 states over the internet. Our mass draws people. The question I have to ask is, "Who are we drawing them to?" If I draw them to myself then I am setting my life to spiral downward and waste the precious gifts He has given me for His glory. Yet, some Christian leaders do just that. They are often at the pinnacle of their success when they suddenly self destruct.

When Christian leaders fail the results are catastrophic. How do we guard against such catastrophic failure? By following the example set by the John the Baptist. He knew of gravity and the danger of allowing people to be drawn into orbit around himself. That is why he declared, 


29 "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease."  John 3:29-30 (NKJV) 

 Paul knew the danger of gravity as well.

 
14 "I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.  1 Corinthians 1:14-17 (NKJV)

 So wherever God has placed you to excel, be careful to point others to Him. He is the one who prospers you so that you may be protected and that His name be exalted!