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All posts by Jesse - 3. page

Eenie Meenie Miney Mo – A Preacher’s Position on Voting “Christian”

IMG_7154With election season heating up, I was asked the other day how do we vote “Christian?”   I think this is a fear by many Christians who do not want to vote in a way that displeases God.  I also think this is a weapon that other Christians use to swing to get people  to vote how they want.  I thought I would take some time and address this issue, and my hope above hopes for this piece is that it will get you excited and interested enough in politics that you will first and foremost get out and vote.  Our lack of voter turn out in this country is appalling, so I want to encourage you to get involved and vote.  It is a awesome power that we are able to wield, so go wield it.

There are two extremes I hope you will avoid in politics.  The first extreme is neutrality.  There are plenty of Christians that do not get involved in any way in politics like politics and religion cannot cross paths at all.  These Christians do not vote, do not campaign, do not debate politics in any way.  Just know, Jesus was quite politically active.  He discussed taxes on a least two ocossians, political loyalty, temple politics, marriage and divorce (which were matters of law even back then), and more.  In the gospels, when Jesus is questioned by a religious leader or a scribe, it is often more of a political question than a religious one.  Who is my neighbor? What is the greatest commandment?  Do we pay taxes to Rome?  What do we do with people caught breaking religious law?  Questions regarding Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath?  All of these questions had political implications, involving Roman/Jewish relations along side the religious ones, and Jesus did not shy away from them.  He was politically active.

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Why I’m Southern Baptist 2 – It’s About The Shoes

IMG_7154A few weeks ago, I shared about all the different religious choices around us every day, and I gave one reason that my family chooses to be Southern Baptist in the larger Christian faith.  I am back to share another reason my wife and I choose to be Southern Baptist, and it has to do with writing. I like books.  I like to read, and one of my favorite pastimes is talking with authors.  I am fascinating with how story is created.

In my passionate enjoyment of stories and their creation, I have gotten to speak to some amazing authors.  Spending time in writing and reading circles, I have, also, met a peculiar type of person.  I have met some quirky people that introduce themselves as “a writer.”  Myself being immediately intrigued by that claim begins to ask questions, and I am shocked by their answers.  What have you published?  Nothing yet.  Who have you submitted your story too?  No one yet.   Can I read your story?  It’s not finished. I’m busy with my other job.  What genre are you exploring?  I haven’t narrowed it down yet.  What do you have?  I have a great title!  After a few questions, I realize that they are actually an “aspiring” writers, not an actual writer, and many are actually aspiring to be an aspiring writer!  Then, I have a chuckle.  They claim to be a writer, but they do not do what a writer does, namely write and complete stories.

Isn’t this one of the major world complaints toward Christians?  Christians do not act like Christ.  Christian do not live what they preach.  Christians like to put on the title of Christian more than they want to put in the work and service of being a Christian just like those so called writers do not want to put in the incredible effort to craft a captivating story.  Just like I said in my latest article on why I am a Southern Baptist, you can tell a lot about a church by how they spend their money, you also can tell a lot about a church by how they spend their time.  Do they just say they are Chrsitians or do they put in the great effort to live it?  I believe Southern Baptist churches work hard to live out their faith.  They claim to be Christian, and they do what Christians should be doing.

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Monopoly of Lies – A Preacher’s Position the Lottery

Pastor Perry Noble recently posted an article on buying a lottery ticket.  Well, not A lottery ticket; he bought ten.  Then, he spends his time in the piece defending his purchase of the lottery tickets because, hey, sombody’s got to win.  He may be technically right; somebody will win the jackpot, but millions and millions of people lose with every ping pong ball pulled.  You can read his piece here.  This defense of the lottery is uniformed and completely ignorant of who the lottery attacks and damages.  Also, his metaphors and illustration are appalling.

Pastor Noble does ask that we spare him the gambling lectures, so I will.  First, he says is “Is gambling bad. Yep, but sex can be well!! Do we get rid of that too?”  The answer to that Pastor Noble is yes!  The bible gives clear guidlines and has a design for the celebration and enjoyment of sex.  Sex done in God’s design is wonderful.  Read Song of Songs.  Sex done outside of God’s design is damaging, and yes, people would be blessed by getting rid of sex outside of God’s design.  I am off point, but I am always bothered by manipulative metaphors which is all that is.

Next, he states that the impoverished people that get into financial trouble with the lottery have a deeper issue, and if they did not blow their money on the lottery, they would blow their money on something else.  My answer is yes, like bread, milk, and diapers.  People are not going to buy comic books and board games when their kids are starving.  They buy escape through drugs, alcohol, and lottery tickets.  I have never had a person in my office at church asking for financial aid because they blew their pay check on baseball cards.  I have with alcohol, drugs, gambling including lottery tickets.

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Why I’m Southern Baptist – It’s About the Money

With all of the spiritual and religious choices that permeate our society, It can be hard to choose which faith, which church, which denomination, which variety, will speak to you and your family. I want to take a moment and share the direction my wife and I chose for our family. I also, want to share the reasons why we chose this particular direction for our family. My wife and I are Christians, and we choose to be a part of the Southern Baptist, a denomination of Christianity. The Southern Baptist are a collection of like minded baptist congregations that pool our resources to cooperate in mission and ministry for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Currently, I am the pastor and we attend Sunnyside Baptist Church in Toccoa Georgia.

Have you ever watched a big time free agent athlete sign the one hundred million dollar contract? The athlete attends a news conference to be handed a jersey where fifty cameras take hundreds of pictures. The athlete then sits in front of multiple video cameras as says, “This is not about the money. I love this city, this team, these coaches…yada, yada, yada.” While the athlete is speaking everyone in the room is thinking, it’s one hundred million dollars…it is most certainly about the money. I always hope one of these athletes will one day be honest and say, “Did you count all those zeroes? I’d play on the moon for that many zeroes.”

Well let me share freely and honestly, the first reason why we choose to be a part of the Southern Baptist is all about the money. When I say it is about the money, I do not mean the salary that I make; although, I am very grateful for my church that pays me to do what I love. The money I am talking about is the money we give to our denominational leadership that they in turn use for ministry.

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Hit and Miss – A Preacher’s Position on Gun Control Executive Order

IMG_7154I watched President Obama’s speech regarding his impending Executive Order(s) dealing with Gun Control. There were aspects that I thought were powerful and other moments where I felt he was missing the target.  Now, before all the anti-gun control folks start patting me on the back, hold on just a minute. I have to apply and reapply for a license to drive a car. I have to go through comprehensive testing to drive a bus or motorcycle. I have to show my drivers license and sign my name at the pharmacy to purchase an over the counter medicine for my stuffy head. I cannot even buy prescription glasses for myself without a recent eye exam. I think all of those restrictions are reasonable, by the way. I think it is absolutely nuts that I can anonymously purchase a firearm at a gun show or online! Not to mention some of the ridiculous weaponry available that are far beyond hunting and self defense. I am not for taking away all guns, but I am for being reasonble.  Anyway, I am now a little off point.

Let me begin by what the President got right. In his speech, he promised more money for Mental Healthcare. I think this was great. Not only do we need Mental Healthcare more available for individuals and families, we need to remove the stigma of Mental Healthcare from our society. Mental Health issues should not be viewed any different than Physical Health issues. A person suffering from an anxiety disorder should not have a different stigma attached to him or her than a person suffering from Parkinson’s. I hope the President’s support of Mental Healthcare will be a big step toward bringing Mental Health from the shadows of the medical profession and into the mainstream. I hope that visiting your psychiatrist will be no more shocking than visiting your podiatrist.

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Are We Fruit Farmers? – A Preacher’s Position on Ignoring Bible Commands by Christians

A church member recently sent me an article by Reece Roper, who among many projects and jobs is probably most known as a singer in the Christian band Five Iron Frenzy. You can read this article here. It is an intense personal look at his struggle with the biblical view and majority Christian treatment of homosexuality. He shares how he has struggled and wrestled with this issue, and how he came to hold the position he now holds. I want to begin by thanking him for his personal story. I believe conversation is a powerful tool for communal growth. We do too much yelling and not enough talking, and I want to thank him for sharing his deeply personal story.

Let me begin with what he got right. The Christian treatment of homosexuals and the homosexual discussion has be downright appalling at times. Christians have attacked homosexuals and homosexuality with venom and anger and hate that Jesus never would. In the article Roper, share his personal disgust over hateful lyrics he wrote about Freddie Mercury. We need more Christians repenting of our hateful behavior toward not just homosexuals, but many other lifestyles.

I have written on this horrible treatment of the LGBT community by Christians multiple times.  Check out my articles on: Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, Caytlin Jenner, and A Cancelled Funeral.

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Reaction or Rhetoric – A Preacher’s Position on Mass Shootings

IMG_7154San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, Roseburg, Chattanooga, Charleston, Isla Vista, Ft. Hood, Washington D.C., Santa Monica, Sandy Hook, just hearing these names breaks my heart every time. These names stir deeply my emotional pool, and it is time to issue a call. The latest mass shooting in San Bernardino has me, along with the rest of the country and the world, saddened, but the national discussion that has followed this shooting has me angry, very, very angry.

Politicians, news media, social media, conversations with folks at the local coffee shop has me sick to my stomach. I now realize that most involved in the national discussion do not even really care about victims in these mass shootings, and very few, actually care about preventing mass shootings in the future. Politicians and pundits and media and average joes just use mass shootings to further their own agendas rather that addressing this problem that is costing lives and ripping families and communities a part.

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Money Goggles – A Preacher’s Position on Sunday Alcohol Sales in Toccoa

IMG_7154This month, the city of Toccoa voted to approve the sale of alcohol on Sundays by 18 votes. Toccoa was not the first city to lax the laws of the sale of alcohol on Sundays. It is following a trend. The laws are coming down all across the South as “antiquated,” and damaging to restaurants that give people jobs. I want to point out a few facts that will hopefully show you that our attitude toward alcohol needs a radical adjustment.

Before I give you my opinion of this law, I want to say up front. I do not think you are evil if you have a glass of wine with dinner or a cold one after work. I am not saying we need to go back to the days of prohibition, but as a society, our attitude toward alcohol needs to change.

Alcohol statistics are absolutely shocking, but no one, talks about it. You will see goofy drunk driving commercials where police are painted into the background or a vehicle is filled will alcohol sloshing all over the place, but these commercials, do not even come close to addressing the significant issue that alcohol is in our country. There not even serious commercials. They are jokes. I think these stats in the United States will blow your mind and you will never see these or beer commercials the same again.

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Money and Cost – A Preacher’s Position on a Judge’s Statement

IMG_7154Jared Fogle, the ex-spokesperson for Subway, was sentenced for his heinous crimes against children. I did not think that I could be shocked farther by this situation after I read about the crimes in which he was accused and later confessed to, but I was mistaken. This article is not going to be about Fogle and his crimes. You do not need me to tell you how horrific they are. I want to focus on one phrase the judge uttered to Fogle that should score on all of our immorality meters as well, but sadly, I doubted if it even raised eyebrows. This phrase speaks to our culture and leads to many of its ills.

Fogle gave a statement during his sentence hearing. He showed remorse, said he was sorry, and probably whatever else his lawyer(s) instructed him to say to gain sympathy from the judge. At one point, Fogle laments what his crimes has done to his family. He discussed how he hates what his two children will have to face because of him, and how he hates that his wife will now be a single mother. Then the judge steps in and says, “You gave your wife $7 million though, so she’ll be fine.”

“You gave your wife $7 million though, so she’ll be fine.” That statement defines one of the major issues and major flaws facing our culture. We focus so much on money, we often misunderstand the cost. Money is everything in society. This woman has money, so she will be ok. It doesn’t matter what has occurred or will occur in her life because of the acts of her husband. She has money.

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The Danger of Responsibility – A Preacher’s Position on Syrian Refugees


Like most in the world, I mourn over the terrorist attacks in Paris.  Also, I mourn over the war Syria.  I mourn over the unrest in the Middle East that has given rise to terrorists groups and individuals.  The hatred, the violence, the war, breaks my heart.  Out of this complicated and horrific war in Syria that has spilled across multiple nations in the Middle East and involved other countires around the world, we in the United States and around the world have another complex question…what should be our response to Syrian refugees?

I have been torn over this issue.  I have wrestled with thoughts of safety and thoughts of compassion.  I have prayed.  I have spent time in God’s word.  Here are the simple thoughts of a simple pastor on a very complex issue.

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