He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. YHWH gave and YHWH has taken away. Blessed be the name of the YHWH.” – Job 1:21
As some of you may know, this evening I was terminated as the Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. The immediate cause is a decision of the church back in July to do so if and when the balance in the general fund dropped to a certain point, a decision reaffirmed by the church two Sundays ago. That balance threshold was reached this week, as I suspected it would be, and was officially informed tonight.
There is more to the story, of course, but not stuff I will speak about in this forum.
The whole thing is a punch to the gut to be sure, but one softened by the fact my wife and I have seen it coming for quite some time. We are also convinced of and are comforted by the sovereignty and goodness of God in all of this, and confident He will both provide and place us exactly where He wants us, when He wants us.
Our desire is to stay in the area. We have come to love Moore County and the friendships we have made in the past four years. Liz loves her teaching assistant position and the kids enjoy their school (and having Mommy right there, too). If it is at all possible, then, we won’t be going too far away. That said, as I consider where God might place me next as a pastor, my search won’t be restricted to this area.
Please pray for us, that we might exhibit godliness in thought, word, and deed, and that we might be obedient to God’s call and mean it when we sing, “Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go.” Pray also for our children, that as there is some hurt associated with the idea of their Daddy losing his job — and as pastor’s kids they see and hear more than most kids — that God might guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and they might not lose hope or become embittered against the church.
For going on five weeks now I’ve pretty much been on a social media fast, signing on to Facebook only to post sermon links or manage the church page, and avoiding Twitter entirely. I have had the Facebook Messenger app on my phone open for messages, but that’s pretty much it, and even that’s been pretty dry.
I did this because I found myself spending way too much time (wasted time) on both. When I had an idle moment I would reflexively pull up Facebook, or watch the stream on the Twitter Mac app. It got to be mind numbing, discouraging, and affected my productivity.
Since then I’ve noticed a few things about myself…
I think I’ve been more joyful. I haven’t been drawn in by every controversy in evangelicalism, reading each post, liking and commenting and retweeting, and wasting energy on stuff that is ultimately fruitless. I haven’t been carrying around the baggage of a discouraged attitude about the state of the church at large because I’m always looking at it. I’ve stayed informed through podcast and my own reading, but it hasn’t always been in my face.
I’ve been much more productive. Sermon preparation has come easier, and I’ve read more, without the distraction of Facebook notifications and that never-ending Twitter stream in the background. There are enough distractions in the world as it is. It’s been nice to be without these two.
Perhaps most importantly of all, I feel I’ve been more engaged with and attuned to the needs of my wife and children. And it’s not like I wasn’t before, but I’ve come to believe social media creates a subtle drag on even our closest and most important relationships.
There will come a day when I re-engage with the world of Facebook and Twitter. I have no doubt about that. I want to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in both, though, and I know there’s a definitely place for that. But right now I feel I’m best glorifying Him apart from that. I’ll come back in time, but it will be on my terms and it will be more disciplined. Even so, as much as I have enjoyed social media in the past, I don’t yet have any desire to re-engage. So if you’re reading this and you miss me, know you can still send me a Facebook message, and my email address is easy enough to find. You can even find my phone number if you really want it. I’m not avoiding you. I’m avoiding the drag.
Yesterday Steve McKoy posted a very helpful blog entitled “Advice For Parenting Young Kids.” As a father of four, aged 9, 4, 3, 2, I found a lot of good stuff here. I was glad to see I was already doing some of these things, but was also convicted to know that as a parent, a Christian, a pastor, I also still wrestle with sin and thus fall short of my own ideal for what I want the father of my children to be.
I want to do a better job with my own children for the glory of God. I hope, especially if you parent young children like me, that you’ll check out the post and consider how you might do the same.
I did not help elect Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008. I did not vote for his chief opponent, Republican Senator John McCain (AZ). I couldn’t bring myself to vote for someone with whom I fundamentally disagreed with so much, and someone I thought would make a terrible President. Yet, even though I knew Obama would be worse, that doesn’t mean I helped elect him. The guilt trip put on voters, especially Christian voters, who by conscience refuse to vote for a given candidate or candidates because of their convictions, is spiritually harmful and encouraging something I believe Paul calls a sin. Not to mention extremely annoying. Citizenship, neither American nor heavenly, requires that we vote either/or, Republican or Democrat.
That said, I have decided to vote for Mitt Romney for President on November 6, and am increasingly comfortable with the notion of doing so. This decision has not been arrived at easily. For months, years even, I have said to others that I would never vote for him for President, but I have changed my mind.
My reticence to vote for Romney in the first place has been his sketchy position on abortion, both in the past and today. I adamantly oppose his position actually, that abortion should be okay in situations of rape, incest, or the health of the mother. This betrays a true pro-life position as it removes concern for the baby, and if I ever have a chance to tell the former Massachusetts Governor this I will. I have always maintained that abortion, and not the economy, is always the most important issue in a presidential election, and that has not changed, even if Romney and I aren’t lockstep.
So why give in and vote Romney in ’12? Well, quite frankly it is the fact that his opponent, incumbent President Barack Obama, is simply not qualified to be President on the basis of his complete disregard for human life. One of his first actions as President was to reverse the Mexico City policy which previously denied federal funding for foreign aid abortions. As a state senator in Illinois he voted repeatedly against a bill which would have guaranteed health care to babies that survived attempted abortions. This is the height of depravity on par with Pharaoh in Exodus 1. Now, in the absence of a economic record he can really run on, he has manufactured a “war on women” and has actually vigorously campaigned on his pro-abortion principles. Romney’s position is very wrong, but it’s just the fact that Obama is so much worse and is so proud of it that drive me to change my mind here and go ahead and vote Romney.
Of course, it’s not merely abortion that compels me to vote Romney. Religious liberty has been under attack since the President took office in 2009. The professing Christian who actually attended a gospel-less church that heavily promotes black liberation theology has shown enmity toward evangelicals and Catholics alike – the contraception mandate from his Department of Health and Human Services being just the most famous example.
On foreign policy, the attack on our embassy in Lybia is but the most recent abdication of presidential responsibility from the Obama Administration. Despite his assertion during the second debate that he called the 9/11 attack an “act of terror,” every statement from his administration for two weeks refused to say that, and actually blamed a YouTube video for what happened. His Ambassador to the United States went on five Sunday morning shows to make the case, which has seen been proven to be a farce, as could easily be seen from the start by a discerning citizen. Meanwhile, now he’s admitted that the attack on our embassy and resultant death of four Americans, including our Ambassador, was the work of al-Queda, all the while saying that al-Queda is in retreat around the world.
Beyond Lybia, he has not kept promises he made during the 2008 campaign. He said he would close Guantanamo Bay but didn’t (I’m actually glad he didn’t, but the fact he broke a promise he made so often during that campaign is striking). He said he would take troops out of Afghanistan and he hasn’t. They are still there (again, I’m glad). But he’s given exit dates to our enemies that serve no good purpose except to help them strategize against us. His Vice President, Joe Biden, said during the debate that troops would be out in 2014, even as the Obama State Department is negotiating with the Afghan government for our troops to remain longer. Quite simply, the man cannot be trusted with the protection of this nation, to say nothing of his treatment of our only historical ally in the Mideast, Israel.
Romney’s response to this debate question may have been the best two minutes of his entire campaign.
Then there’s the economy. Oh yes, the economy. And yes, the President entered office in tough times, but his policies have furthered our recession, not stopped it. He claims to have lowered taxes on middle class families eighteen times. That’s a blatant lie. Sometimes taxes haven’t been raised quite as much as they would have been. This does not qualify as a tax cut. He’s willing to see the Bush era tax cuts expire even in a weak economy, which is just stupid. His stimulus package did nothing to help the economy, except put some cash in the coffers of green cronies whose environmental businesses went bankrupt (see Solyndra, A123, Fister, et al). He took the unprecedented step of bailing out General Motors, which was in reality a gift to the unions which so eagerly support him. There are over eleven million more people on food stamps in this country than there were when he took office. Obama claims to have created five million jobs, but that number doesn’t include all of the jobs which have been lost. Overall, he’s still in the negative. In 2008, candidate Obama promised to lower unemployment to 5.4% and cut the deficit in half. Four years later unemployment is at 7.8%, which is itself an incredibly suspect number, and the debt has increased by over sixty percent to over 16 trillion dollars! In short, the Obama presidency is an economic disaster, and it should cause great concern to consider what we might look like four years from now should Obama be re-elected.
These are reasons why I will vote for Mitt Romney this year. Obama is just that bad, his policies that dangerous. As for Romney, he wants to lower taxes across the board. Rather than deliver guarded rhetoric about protecting big business, he has focused much attention on helping small businesses by lowering their tax rate and getting rid of over-regulation. He is a proven job creator as a businessman and a proven budget balancer as a governor. He is making energy independence a priority in his plans, because in addition to it being right, he knows it will create jobs in this country.
Plus, and this is a big one to me, he had the guts (yes, the guts), say that Detroit should be allowed to go through a managed bankruptcy, protecting pensions, so that they could come out stronger, rather than just give them a bailout, now with lots of government strings. And this says nothing of the fact that Obama’s GM takeover closed over a third of their car dealerships (killing jobs in the process). It takes guts for a guy from Michigan to write that, as he did in 2008. I respect that.
Overall, when comparing Mitt Romney to Barack Obama as to who would be a better President, it’s really no contest. President Obama has had four years, including two with a supermajority in Congress, and forced Obamacare down the throats of Americans, which, if not repealed and replaced, will kill more American businesses, and with it jobs, all the while taking away our freedoms.
He. Must. Be. Stopped.
Mitt Romney is a better choice. Not a perfect choice, but a much better choice. As believers we must remember that we are not choosing a national pastor. We’re choosing a President. And while Romney doesn’t know Christ, and while as Christians we must continue to call Mormonism what it is (a cult that will lead those in its web away from the saving gospel of Christ and straight to hell), he does have a basic sense of right and wrong that Obama has not exhibited in the last four years, in his political career before that, or in his plans for his next four years. Therefore, I’ve reconciled myself to do what my conscience will allow me to do, vote for Romney and pray that the one true God of biblical Christianity will turn his heart as it relates the Lord Jesus, the authority of Scripture, and to a real pro-life position.