The sermon on the Sunday after the Supreme Court legalized so-called “same-sex marriage” everywhere

The following is the audio and transcript of my sermon this morning from Romans 1:18-32, given the Lord’s Day after the Supreme Court made so-called “same-sex marriage” legal in all fifty states.

Father, You know the burden upon me this morning. I pray You might guard my heart, my mind, and my mouth right now. I want my words to be Your words, my thoughts Your thoughts, my heart Your heart. Help me to speak truth, and truth only. Help me shepherd Your people by turning our hearts toward You, the Good and Perfect Shepherd and Guardian of our Souls. Where repentance is needed, may it be. Where confession is necessary, may it be. Where a shake-up of the way we think has to happen, I pray it will. Above all, though, Father, I pray You might be glorified, and as a result, Your people be strengthened. May grace and truth win the day through Your Son Jesus, in whose holy name we ask this. Amen. Continue reading “The sermon on the Sunday after the Supreme Court legalized so-called “same-sex marriage” everywhere”

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.

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”

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.”

What 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”

Playing to win as disciples

I’m a college basketball fan and the national championship game was tonight and I didn’t watch a bit of it. I have no sanctified reason for doing so other than I’m a Carolina fan and I couldn’t stomach watching Duke in title game (especially since they won). That said, I got to thinking about our church, the Christian life in general, and some of the things we’ve been talking about regarding mission.

There are 68 teams that get to play in the NCAA Tournament and I guarantee you none of the head coaches tell their players before the tournament starts that their goal is to just win a game, or make it to the sweet sixteen. As a former NFL player and coach, Herm Edwards, once said in a press conference, “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!” And in the NCAA Tournament, you play so that you can play on the first Monday night in April and win the NCAA Championship. Sure, you might be satisfied with less, but you don’t go into the tournament wanting anything less.

Sadly, I get the sense many Christians in many churches live out their lives not just satisfied with less, but not desiring all that Christ as Lord has commanded. He has commissioned His church to be disciples who make disciples, and yet all too often we are content with the status quo. We all too often want a painless kind of discipleship which promises much but demands little, a kind of discipleship where our own Christianity and that of the church we worship in suits our preferences. In short, we are content to win a game, maybe two, but we aren’t prepared to make the kind of commitment it’s going to take to really fulfill our mission… to win the championship.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win,” writes Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:26. As Christians we ought to live the Christian life in a manner resembling the One for whom we are named: Jesus Christ. He was always about the mission for which His Father sent Him. Whatever advanced the mission is what He did, whether it was healing the sick, raising the dead, excoriating the Pharisees for their self-righteous hypocrisy, or calling His own disciples on the carpet for arguing over who would be the greatest.

Whoever wants to be first must be last. The implication being — to stretch the NCAA Tournament analogy probably further than it merits — that we must do all it takes to to win the title. And that takes spiritual disciplines, love for God and one another, an ever-increasing realization of the grace God has shown us through His Son, and an incessant compulsion to do what His apostles did when they were empowered and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. They proclaimed Him.

Many of us get frustrated by what we will is a stagnant church, a church not growing, a church stuck in neutral, when often times the answer to such frustrations is getting out of your own way… getting out of your comfort zone by being intentionally evangelistic. Not merely inviting people to church, but proclaiming to people a Savior.

That’s the kind of Christianity that wins the title. That’s the kind of living it takes to fulfill the mission Jesus has given us. And isn’t He worth that kind of selfless, full-self living? He who gave His life for ours is worth our living all of our lives for Him. Run the race to win, beloved, and the trophy you’ll receive in the end in Your Father in heaven saying, “This is My beloved son (or daughter), in whom I am well pleased.”

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. 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””

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.

Why 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”