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A Preacher’s Position - 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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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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