I cannot pledge my allegiance

I love my country. Let me make that clear. If you know me in the least you are more than aware I am not part of the hate America or blame America wing of the political spectrum. On the contrary, I am a patriot. I love my country.

Should we take the pledge?I love its flag. Our flag. I love how it represents men who fought that I might be free. I love how it represents men who died to set other people free. And if you want to get silly, attach the flag to any sporting event and the chances of me getting interested increase exponentially. I love that Superman’s outfit deliberately includes American colors. Captain America is even my favorite Avenger.

I love my country. I love the flag.

I just can’t pledge allegiance to it any longer.

Some Christians do not say the Pledge because, as Paul writes in Philippians 3:20, our citizenship is in heaven. I understand that point of view and, to a degree, sympathize with it. However, I also understand that as Christians, while we are on this earth, we have a dual-citizenship. We are not to have friendship with the world, for that is enmity with God (Jas 4:4). We are not of the world, but we are in it (at least for now). My home is with Christ and that is much to be desired, but for now I am also an American. So that’s not why I can no longer say the pledge. Continue reading I cannot pledge my allegiance

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Esse quam videri: Why Southern Baptists’ declining numbers isn’t all a bad thing

ncsealcolorAs a child matriculating my way through the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, I learned the motto of my beloved home state was Esse quam videri, which is Latin for To be rather than to seem. It seems to be a good choice for a state which grew up situated between our big bad, powerful colonial neighbor to the north — Virginia — and our uppity neighbor to the south with a (pardon the anachronism here) Napoleon complex — South Carolina. North Carolina was the humble colony (then state) in the middle, content to be what it is rather than seem more than it is. Whether that remains true today is a matter of opinion, but the state motto does seem fitting. To steal an oft-used phrase from a former head coach of the Carolina Panthers, when it comes to North Carolina, “It is what it is.”

SBC LogoWhat the Southern Baptist Convention is remains a matter of opinion as well. Numbers released the week before our Convention’s Annual Meeting, concluding in Columbus, Ohio, as I write this, have received a great deal of virtual ink from bloggers and pundits. And while I haven’t been able to watch or listen in to all of the goings on in the Buckeye State (We are first in flight!), I’m sure the numbers have been discussed from the podium and in the convention and exhibit halls as well. I know because I’ve been to those meetings before. Continue reading Esse quam videri: Why Southern Baptists’ declining numbers isn’t all a bad thing

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Observations from A.D. The Bible Continues – Ep. 1, “The Tomb Is Open”

Capitalizing on Christians’ celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the culture’s acknowledgement at large of Easter, NBC premiered the new mini-series A.D. The Bible Continues on Sunday night with episode 1, titled “The Tomb Is Open.”

A.D. The Bible ContinuesA.D. is the sequel (of sorts) to The Bible mini-series a couple of years ago. Like its predecessor, A.D. is produced by Survivor creator Mark Burnett and his wife, Touched By an Angel actress Roma Downey.

I approach A.D. with significant skepticism based upon the content and presentation of The Bible two years ago. While The Bible had some good things in it, I felt like the overall message of the real Bible got lost. Jesus did not come to “change the world,” as the actor portraying Him said in the miniseries. He came to save His people from their sins. And, by the way, if there was a mention of sin in the first miniseries I don’t remember it. Jesus’ message was love and compassion and so on, and He upset the people in charge and so He was killed. Of course, the previous sentence has truth in it, but it’s not the whole story, and any attempt to present The Bible, or A.D. as it were, should attempt to tell as much of the whole story as is possible, and certainly be faithful to the gospel. That didn’t happen with The Bible, I’m not expecting it with A.D.

What follows, then, are just a few observations from the first episode.  Continue reading Observations from A.D. The Bible Continues – Ep. 1, “The Tomb Is Open”

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The indispensable doctrine

Outside of the church, Muslims are killing people, American taxpayers are giving over a half-billion dollars a year to Planned Parenthood so they can murder babies, and judges nationwide are giving a middle finger to God and Christians by forcing “same-sex marriage” down our throats, and there is so much more I could say.

Inside of the (professing) church, Joel Osteen still has clean teeth and is making his millions peddling fortune cookie wisdom, Christian bookstores are bowing the knee to the dollar by peddling his heresy and the unbiblical and antibiblical teachers of others, the largest Southern Baptist Church in the world is led by a man who has redefined the Ten Commandments as promises, and oh, there is here also so much more I could say.

sola scriptura - the indispensable doctrineWhy is all of this happening? Why are there so many problems both inside and outside of churches? Why is the world the way it is?

The easy answer, of course, is sin. And it’s the correct answer, too. Rebellion against God. A dissatisfaction with His provision and His command and a lust for the idol of self, the idol of more, the idol of my way.

But let’s dig a little deeper. Where does sin come from? Well, not so ironically, the same place we find out what sin is.

The first sin of man, resulting in the fall of man, occurred in the Garden of Eden. You know the story, but you should read it again anyway to be reminded. God told Adam, He “commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die'” (Gen 2:16-17, emphasis mine).

So God spoke. Continue reading The indispensable doctrine

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For the love of God, read your Bible in 2015

Once upon a time Basil Manly, Jr. said,

If we are to be mighty in God’s work, we must be mighty in God’s word.

He was right.

MalachiChristianity divorced from not merely a casual reading, but a thoughtful study of the word of God is empty. Why? Because man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matt 4:4). We cannot honestly claim to love of God if we so carelessly neglect His revelation to us.

Now we don’t live and die by the Gregorian calendar, but the dawn of the new year is an excellent time to evaluate your own Bible reading and make any necessary changes/improvements to the way you approach the text.

I’ve encouraged my church with what I call the RPM approach to Scripture — reading the text, pursuing the meaning, memorizing the word. This involves a systematic approach to all three.

R – Reading the text is adopting a systematic plan for reading the Bible and sticking to it, preferably daily. This is the reading plan I’ve given my church for 2015. It goes through the whole Bible, and with the Old Testament it uses the book order of the Hebrew Bible. HT to Jim Hamilton. This plan is adapted from his site.

P – Pursuing the meaning involves picking a book and spending a chunk of the year, or even the whole year, digging into that book. Last year we did this quarterly, but admittedly, not very well on a church-wide level. This year I want to do better — with one book. Since I’m preaching through Luke on Sundays, and will be throughout this year and more, God willing, I picked an Old Testament book for me/us, the oft-neglected Chronicles.

M – Memorizing the word is what it sounds like — systematically memorizing verses. It could be an assortment of verses or a chunk, like a chapter or more. I’ve got some of the young men in the church working on Ephesians 1:3-14. I’ve been working on 2 Timothy for some time and am not going to quit until I’m done. I encourage you to set out to purposefully memorize some Scripture this year.

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