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All posts by Jesse - 2. page

Oh, My Stars and Bars and Garters – A Preacher’s Position on the Confederate Flag Resolution

I will always remember where I was and what I felt on June 14th, 2016 as I learned the denomination in which I pastor, the Southern Baptist Convention, voted overwhelmingly to repudiate the Confederate Battle Flag and to call all Southern Baptist to cease displaying this flag. A incredible mixture of shock and gratefulness and amazement and sheer determination swirled and is still swirling inside of me. I was glad to see this resolution being passed made national news, but let me tell you, unless you are a Southern Baptist, you will have a hard time grasping what this step means.

First, it reveals our unwavering commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As stated at our 2016 Annual Meeting, where this resolution was passed, the Confederate Battle Flag is viewed as a symbol of racism and worse, to African Americas, many other ethnicities, including whites, and by wide geography of peoples. Since this flag has such negative connotations to these people, we must remove it, so we can build relationships with these groups and share the gospel of Jesus Christ without hindrance. This vote proves that the Gospel going forth is vastly more important that so many of our Southern Baptist member’s and pastor’s heritage in the past.

Second, it shows that “they” have a priority over “us.” We told ourselves, we don’t care what that flag means or symbolizes to some of us. What matter is what it means to them because again we are trying to impact them. So get over yourself, take the flag down, and reach others with the gospel unhindered by a symbol that closes so many ears.

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My Gun Control Conversion – A Preacher’s Position on the Orlando Mass Shooting

The massacre in Orlando at the gay nightclub over the weekend has left me, like so many, on an emotional roller coaster. I am heart broken one second and enraged the next. It has taken me some time to gather myself on even where to begin to discuss this situation. There is so much to say. First, I want to say how proud I am of my church, Sunnyside Baptist Church in Toccoa Georgia.

Entering church on Sunday, I was unaware of the shooting. It happened after I was asleep on Saturday, and getting the family ready for church, we did not turn on the tv on Sunday. In our morning worship service, we have a time where people can share prayer concerns, and we had a church member announce we needed to pray for the victims in Orlando. I pastor a theologically conservative church believing that homosexuality is against God’s word, but last Sunday, we knelt together to pray and lift up the LGBT community in Orlando and the loved ones affected by this horrific shooting. Disagreeing on moral issues does not have to equal hatred or bigotry. It doesn’t at Sunnyside and most other churches. I was proud to see my church show compassion and love to those in need, regardless of lifestyle.

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A Dangerous Lie – A Preacher’s Position on Humanity

IMG_7154While channel surfing recently an interesting coalescing of several stories all struck the same note causing me to realize there is a grand lie that society has quietly accepted leading us toward disaster. First, a political commercial had a gentleman sharing his political platform of free choice for the people saying, “my platform will work because people are by nature good.” Second, on a news debate a group of people, not the ones you imagine, were defending their way of life by saying we were “born this way,” and lastly, I flipped over to listen for a moment to an impassioned preacher exhorting his flock to “be you” and let the power of “I” help you reach new heights in your life. These three ideas are all fruit of a rotten tree. Each of these ideas affirm people are by nature fundamentally good.

The idea that people are inherently good is a devious and dastardly lie preventing us from personal and societal transformation and growth.

I know what some of you are thinking. How dare this self righteous preacher tell me or anyone else that they are not good! How dare he declare someone is a sinner! It must be nice for him to be perfect! Let me counter by saying, I was a broken, horrific sinner that needed salvation and to be repaired. I am still a man that struggles with sin and temptation, and I am still in need of personal growth. I am not even remotely close to o.k. with who I am. I want and need to be better.

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The Wrong Target – A Preacher’s Position on Georgia’s RFRA Bill

IMG_7154With all of the politcal debate raging, I have reached the point where I hate the term “right(s)” with the rage of a hundred erupting volcanos. We have a “right” to refuse service. We have a “right” to marry. We have a “right” to tuition money. We have a “right” to healthcare. We have a “right” to practice our faith. It has become the word to scream when you want to get your way. I want to live this way, so I just yell, “This choice is my RIGHT!” It is played like a trump card to win the argument, but it has become a wall that has killed all profitable discussion. When I hear someone state, “We have a right,” it is like my toddler who throws himself to the ground screaming and crying because he didn’t get a second cookie. It has become nothing more than frustrating noise.

We are so engroseed in getting our way that we are ignoring the political and social discussion we desperately need to be having. Take my home state of Gerogia for example. I love my state. There are numerous reasons why Ray Charles had Georgia and not Michigan on his mind, and currently, we are in the national news for the politcal debate regarding Senate Bill 129, Georgia’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. You can read the current bill here that has passed and is awaiting the Govenror’s signature or veto. The bill’s purpose, according to those that passed it, is to protect people from having to compromise their personal faith. According to it’s detractors, it is legalized discrimination.

Both sides are throwing around the term “right,” right and left. Churches are saying we have a right to say no to outside groups wanting to use our facilities based on our beliefs. Individuals are saying we have a right of access to a business services. Businesses are saying they have a right to refuse service, and basically, we are ignoring the discussion we need to have.

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I Am A Moron – A Preacher’s Position on Refugees 2

imageI saw this meme with a picture of Jeff Foxworthy saying, “If you think it’s a good idea to bring in refugees who hate your country, your religion, and your culture…you might be a moron!”  This meme made me feel the need to address this mindset and discuss Syrian refugees again.  First, there is absolutely zero evidence that Jeff Foxworthy ever made this statement, and I doubt he did esspecially since he didn’t say what has been attributed to him about Muslims.  Now, as a lover of history, let’s allow some facts to help shape our opinions.

First, there are many Muslims in Syria.  That is true, but are you aware that Syria is one of the most ancient seats of Christianity.  Much of the foundation of Christianity was laid in what is modern day Syria and the surounding area.  They have loved Christ for a millennia and a half before America was discovered.

The Syriac Orthodox Church has been active from the earliest stages of Christianity.  There is evidence that several books of the bible were written in and around modern day Syria such as Matthew and Luke.  The Apostle Paul gave his life to Jesus in Syria.  Also, there are other early significant Christian writings from the Syrian area such as the Didache, Gospel of Thomas, and the Diatessaron.  In fact, the Diatessaron is quite possibly the earliest translation of the Gospels (that were written in Greek) into the common language of the people, Syriac, in the 2nd century.  To put that into some context, the Western Church strangled William Tyndale to death and then burned his body for translating the bible into English, the language of his people, in the 16th century because they did not want commoners to be reading the bible.

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Unignorable 4 – The Father: Holy

IMG_7154Unignorable: A Path to Revival

The Father: Holy

This is our series on how to experience personal revival and bring revival to your church and beyond. We  begin our journey toward revival by learning about the Reviver.  We begin by examining the Father’s holiness.

Verses:  Exodus 15:11, Hosea 11:9, 1 Samuel 2:2, Habakkuk 1:13, James 1:13, Job 34:12, Matthew 5:48, Psalms 99:3, Psalms 71:22, Psalms 78:41, Psalms 89:18, Exodus 3, Exodus 19, Exodus 40:34, 1 Kings 8:10-11, Exodus 19:6, Isaiah 6

Unignorable 3 – The Enemies of Revival: Adversaries

IMG_7154Unignorable: A Path to Revival

The Enemies of Revival: Adversaries

This is our series on how to experience personal revival and bring revival to your church and beyond. We continue to examine the enemies of revival as we look at our adversaries.  We have adversaries that attack us in an attempt to cause us to sin and disrupt our relationship with God.  This prevents revival from coming in our life and prevents us from bringing revival into the lives of others.  We must fight our adversaries.

Verses: Ephesians 6:10-17, John 10:10, Genesis 3:1-7, Daniel 3, Acts 21:27-35, Matthew 4:1-11, Psalms 91:11-12, Job

Unignorable 2 – The Enemies of Revival: The World

IMG_7154Unignorable: A Path to Revival

The Enemies of Revival: The World

This is our series on how to experience personal revival and bring revival to your church and beyond. We continue to examine the enemies of revival as we look at the world.  We examine how the world teaches a law contrary to that of the good moral law of God.  Then, exerts pressure to get us to abandon God’s word.

Verses: 1 John 2:15, John 17:14, John 18:36, Romans 12:2, John 15:18-23, James 4:4, 1 John 2:17, Revelation 21:1, John 17:16, 1 John 4:4

Unignorable 1 – The Enemies of Revival: Sin

IMG_7154Unignorable: A Path to Revival

The Enemies of Revival: Sin

This begins a series on how to experience personal revival and bring revival to your church and beyond.  We begin by examining our need for revival.  Then we discuss the enemies of revival beginning with sin.  We examine how sin prevents revival and brings destruction into our own lives and the lives of others.

Verses: 1 John 3:4, 1 Timothy 1:8, Romans 7:12, Psalms 19:7, Romans 5:12, Genesis 3, Isaiah 59:2, John 8:34, Matthew 7:13-14, Matthew 24:41, Romans 6:12-13