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If The Heartbeat Matters – A Preacher’s Position on Abortion

We live in a country with numerous rights. We do have a need to discuss what makes a right, a right, but that’s a topic for another day. With so many rights, there are often times when rights conflict with one another. One such conflict that has been in the news lately is an individual’s right to life and a woman’s right to choose. The abortion debate has heated up due to two factors. First, Ohio lawmakers have passed the Heartbeat Bill that will make abortions illegal once an unborn heartbeat is detectable. This bill sits on the governor’s desk awaiting action. Second, President Elect Donald Trump has appointed noted pro-life advocate Tom Price as director of Health and Human Services and has published a list of judges for possible appointment to the Supreme Court.

These two events have the pro-life movement as excited about the future as I have ever witnessed, but before we start our touch down celebration, as a pro-life individual, I want to give a warning and a challenge. If all we do for the pro-life movement is sign petitions, vote republican, and yell, then, the pro-life movement will fail.

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Not Up To Us – A Preacher’s Position on Facts and Truth

This is not a political post, Please, stay with me, but recently President Elect Donald Trump tweeted that millions of people voted illegally. That claim has no veracity and has widely been proven false. This hasn’t stopped Trump supporters from defending this claim. Enter Scottie Nell Hughes defending Trump on tv.  She began to discuss the malleable nature of the truth, and concludes her comments with the bombshell statement, “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore, [as] facts.” People have made fun of her and this statement. Amid the backlash, Hughes has even clarified what she meant, but this statement is no laughing matter. It is astounding at how many people live according to Hughes’s claim, including Christians. The belief that the truth is relative, malleable, and individualistic is wide spread in our country and is damaging the very fabric of our society.

Philosophic arguments against the absolute nature of truth can be traced all the way back to certain Sophists in the 5th Century B.C.E., but boy, have they gained popularity in America. Postmodernism, Relativism, and Subjectivism are three branches of philosophy containing a variety of systems that all question truth and the validity of truth. Barna conducted a poll, in 2002, discovering that 64% of adults in the U.S. and a whopping 83% of teenagers in the U.S. believe that truth is always relative. The vast majority of Americans do not believe in absolute moral truths and absolute right and wrong. Barna concluded that Americans determine the truth most often by their “feelings.”  Americans believe facts and truth can be determined by their feelings.

That is truly terrifying.

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The Church’s Opportunity – A Preacher’s Position on the Election Results

I stayed up later with the presidential election results last night than I did with any of the games of the Chicago Cub’s amazing playoff run. I was flipping between the various news channels into the early hours of November 9th. I haven’t stayed up that late since I was cramming for Dr. Hill’s Greek final in Seminary 14 years ago. I watched each news channel stunned by Donald Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton. Easily the most asked question was…how. How did President Elect Trump accomplish this? How was he the first candidate since the Reagan sweep to flip the Rust Belt to the Republican ticket? How, How, How. Upon reflecting on this question, I have learned one very important truth.

How did Donald Trump pull the political upset of our lifetime? I think the answer is rather simple. He promised change. He promised that he would change Washington to work for you. He promised that he would employ policies and trade agreements to change your life for the better. He promised that he would repeal specific legislation to change your life. He promise change, after change, after change.

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Wasted or Worthy – A Preacher’s Position on Voting 3rd Party

In this election cycle, I have been asked one question more than any other due to many people being disillusioned by the two major party candidates. Is voting for a third party candidate throwing my vote away? I have read numerous articles that say that it is. Common arguments are “they can’t win,” and “a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Clinton/Trump.” If there is one issue that both sides of the aisle agree on, it is a combined effort to limit third parties’ viability and making people believe third party votes are wasteful. This article is not trying to tell you how to vote, but instead, is answering the question is a third party vote thrown away. Let me give you three reasons why a third party vote is absolutely not a wasted vote.

First, your conscience, integrity, beliefs, and personal political platform matter when you vote. In my very first article on “voting Christian,” I spoke to the importance of developing your own political beliefs and their importance in voting. Check it out. Here I want to speak to your conscience and integrity in voting. Southern Baptists, to which I belong, have historically and presently emphasize each individual’s soul competency and the priesthood of all believers, teaching that your personal relationship with the Lord is essential in guiding your daily decisions. Southern Baptists believe “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it.” This means if the Bible does not directly speak to a decision, you make that decision led by God alone.

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#NeverCompromise – A Preacher’s Positon on the Presidintial Election

I vividly remember, as a presidential candidate, Bill Clinton going on MTV. As a kid who definitely wanted his MTV, I thought this was amazing. This was a candidate who cared about us. My mother and I watched this together, and Clinton was asked simply, “Boxers or briefs?” He answered, and I thought my mother was going to faint. The channel was immediately changed. I was in utter confusion at what the big deal was. I thought it was neat that I and the presidential candidate shared an affinity for the same undergarments. I ask why she changed the channel, and I proceeded to receive a lecture on the importance of integrity, morality, and class. It is time that I share this wisdom from my mother, but not aimed at any politicians or our current presidential candidates, but aimed directly at us evangelical Christians. We must remember the importance of integrity, morality, and class, or we, not any politician, will lead our nation away from God and toward destruction.

Much of the nation is shocked and appalled, at the deeds and words of the two major party political candidates. It seems every week or so we learn of another lie told by Hilary Clinton and another disgusting comment made by Donald Trump, but what I find even more appalling is the morality limbo evangelical Christians are performing to support their favored candidate. We are bending lower and lower and lower.

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Uncomfortable Boots – A Preacher’s Position on Blue Lives Matter

Several weeks ago I wrote a piece on the Black Lives Matter movement and the questions, concerns, and statistics that I feel need to be acknowledged and studied. In that article, I was very intentional to not speak ill of the police force across this country, and today, I want to speak on the Blue Lives Matter movement, and the questions, concerns, and statistics that also desperately needs addressing in our country because you do not have to choose between black and blue lives. Each movement brings up valid concerns we should not ignore.

Let’s begin by admitting law enforcement is an incredibly dangerous pursuit. According to the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund, from 2006-2015 1,439 police officers died in the line of duty or as a result from the line of duty. There are a variety of causes of these deaths from felonious acts, accidents, disasters, and even job related illness. It was eye opening to see being shot by a criminal is not even close to the only danger police officers face. If you want a more detailed list of how many police officers were killed by crimes, you can search through the FBI statistics here. Besides from being killed in the line of duty, being assaulted is also a common occurrence. According to the FBI from 2010-2014, 8,617 officers were assaulted with 9 dying from the injuries from the assault. That number is not how many assaults occurred. It is how many different officers were assaulted.

I think the most dangerous aspect to my day as a pastor is the fast food garbage I grab to eat, so I can drive to make visits.

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Uncomfortable Shoes – A Preacher’s Position on Black Lives Matter

I have the utmost respect for law enforcement and the daily sacrifices they make for their respective communities. I have had the privilege to get to know our county sherif by serving with him on the Administrative Team of the Tugalo Baptist Association, and I am better for knowing him. I have friends who are police and many, many friends who have family and loved ones in the police force. The vast majority of law enforcement are amazing individuals who give so much to their communities. Nothing in this article is meant to disparage the police or discredit their service in anyway, but I do want to discuss Black Lives Matter.

When discussing Black Lives Matter, it is important to begin by stating what it is not. Black Lives Matters is not anti-law enforcement. This movement, along with any sane person, recognizes the vast majority of police officers are outstanding men and women of valor who work tirelessly to serve and to protect. Black Lives Matter is not against the fact that other lives matter. Saying Black Lives Matter, does not mean Blue Lives, Brown lives, White lives, Other lives do not matter. Black Lives Matter is about bringing attention to some serious issues within our legal system that is well past time for us to address. If you are like me and not black, let’s attempt to put on their shoes for a moment but allow me to warn you, this was not a pleasant piece to research.

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Open Boarder, Open Hearts – A Preacher’s Position on the Refugee Resolution

The Confederate Flag resolution has been the dominating take away from the Southern Baptist’s 2016 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, but there was another amazing resolution I hope does not get covered up by a flag.  This resolution was titled “On Refugee Ministry.”  Opening our nation to accept refugees has been a passion of mine for some time.  I have written twice on the support of accepting refugees.  One was our responsibility in Syria since we are directly involved in the conflict, and the second, was in praise of our government’s job of vetting refugees and our continued responsibility to minister to others.  I was overjoyed to learn that my denomination stood tall on this issue and cried with one voice to open our boarders, our churches, our homes, and our hearts to minister to the displaced in this world through war and tradgedy.

Again, this is an extradinary stand by denomination that I am still trying to process.  To help you to undestand my surprise, I must share that many, if not most of the resolutions, passed at the Southern Baptist Annual Meeting and the Goergia Mission Board Annual Meeting are boring.  We pass resolutions like, “Drugs are bad,” “Parents should be involved in children’s education and educate them in a Christian manner,” or “We should tell people about Jesus.”  The resolutions are often so obvious, avoiding controversy, that their passing is barely a blip on the schedule.  That is NOT so in 2016.

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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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