What we say does matter

April 3, 2014

Christians who may not think it matters what comes out of their their mouths may want to take a quick look at Matthew 12:36 which reminds us, “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak” (Holman Christian Standard Bible).

What we say does matter.

Baptist Press ran an article entitled “Former atheist: ‘Life is better serving God’ on March 31.

The article, written by Rudy Gray, editor of the Baptist Courier in South Carolina, tells the story of Mike Rushton, a former atheist.

Rushton was taken to church by his mother as a youngster but his father saw no value in going to church and eventually Rushton followed the direction of his dad and stopped attending church as a teenager. At the age of 16 he went to work in a local cotton mill. At that point he noted that he “believed there was a God but I didn’t have any place in my life for Him.”

While working at the cotton mill, Rushton had a bad encounter with a woman who had taught his fourth grade Sunday School class. “I have been cussed out before, but I don’t believe any worse than she did,” Rushton said. “That had an impact on my life, and I remember it like it happened yesterday.”

He noted that he began to believe there was no difference between those who professed to be Christian and those who didn’t.

The words of that Sunday School teacher did matter.

While it was ultimately Rushton’s decision to drift from God, that Sunday School teacher was not a good witness.

The good news is that Rushton later gave his life to God and is now living for Him.

His story is a reminder that we, as Christians, must be constantly be on guard and choose wisely the words we use.

What we say does matter.

Christians beware

March 20, 2014

We all know that America is the home of the free and land of the brave and that we don’t discriminate on the basis of religion.

Well maybe, maybe not.

In Michigan, Christians may be able to worship as they please, but they might not get that promotion they want if an equally qualified non-Christian wants the job.

Nothing should surprise me anymore, but this story posted by Tom Gantert at CAPCON Michigan Capitol Confidential is pretty amazing.

In essence, there is a provision in the teachers union contract in Ferndale Public Schools in Oakland County which gives “special consideration” to applicants who, among other criteria, are of “the non-Christian faith.”

It apparently doesn’t matter that the statement breaks state and federal laws which prohibit discrimination in employment and public services on the basis of religion.

Funny, I have not yet seen members of the ACLU lining up to yell “that’s not fair” to Christians. Maybe they will but I am not going to hold my breath.

While school board officials are denying discrimination ever takes place, the language apparently is in the contract.

This story needs to serve as a reminder to Christians that we must constantly be on guard to protect our religious freedom. We must never take that freedom for granted.

Thank You Judge Bogaard

March 5, 2014

When it comes to our judicial system in the United States, I am as cynical as they come. After all, someone once sued McDonald’s and won because McDonald’s had the audacity not to warn people that hot coffee would burn if you spill it on yourself.

Now, one of this week’s top headlines is an 18-year-old student in New Jersey who has sued her parents because they will not pay her college tuition (among other things).

I usually don’t praise judges but I am extremely thankful for Judge Peter Bogaard of Morris County (N.J.) Superior Court’s Family Division who wisely ruled against teenager Rachel Canning’s initial requests. He did, however, grant another hearing next month to consider some of her other charges.

While it appears to be a “her word versus their word” case, in essence the 18-year-old did not want to live in her parents’ house by their rules. She says they threw her out. They say she left.

The bottom line is this. Parents have every right to make rules for their house. Once a child reaches the legal adult age of 18 and does not want to abide by their parents’ rules, then he or she should leave.

Also, where does it say that parents “owe” their children a college education. Hopefully, most parents will want to help their children as much as possible, but sometimes they simply do not have the financial means to pay for college. I lived with my mother and grandparents when I graduated from high school. They could not afford to send me to college, but they allowed me to live in their house while I worked, saved my money, and attended college. By the same token, I was expected to adhere to certain rules while I lived in their house. And you know what, I didn’t think it should have been any other way. In the 1970s, that was to be expected.

We have raised a generation of young people who think they are entitled to the best that life has to offer. Many young people today (not all) expect things to be given to them on a silver platter. They need to awaken to reality or they will be disappointed the rest of their lives.

Often times we, as parents, bring trouble on ourselves when we don’t discipline our children or we give in to their “demands.” If children learn the meaning of the word “no” early in life, they will remember what it means the rest of their lives.

C.H. Spurgeon once said, “If we never have headaches through rebuking our children, we shall have plenty of heartaches when they grow up.”

Wise words, as is this admonition from Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

It can happen here

February 19, 2014

By now, most people have heard about the tragedy at Union University in Jackson last week.

Olivia Greenlee, a senior at Union, was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound in her car on the Union campus. See story in the Feb. 19 issue of the Baptist and Reflector.

Three days later (Feb. 15), Jackson police arrested another Union student (Charles Pittman) in connection with Greenlee’s death. He has been charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence, according to news reports. Pittman also served a Tennessee Baptist church in Alamo as a youth pastor and children’s minister.

It’s the kind of story you would expect to hear at a major state university in New York or California, not on a high profile, private Christian university campus in the South. Too often we think a major tragedy only happens far away. That simply is not true. It can, it does, and it will happen again in our own back yards. The only question is “when?” The events of last week at Union are just another reminder that “bad things do happen to good people” regardless of where they are. Christians aren’t immune from a sinful world.

Union President David S. Dockery and the entire university community Union have handled this tragedy as well as or even better than could be expected. No matter how much “crisis” training you receive, nothing prepares you for something of this magnitude.

I encourage Tennessee Baptists to continue to pray for the families affected and everyone on the Union campus in the weeks and months ahead. This tragedy is not something you will “get over” soon, if ever.

The only thing we can hold to is the promise found in John 16:33 (KJV), “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

A refreshing attitude

February 6, 2014

Bryson Allen-Williams is one of my favorite players at the University of South Carolina and he has never played a down.

What’s more, he may or may not become a great player, but I have the utmost respect for this young high school football player from Georgia.

Allen-Williams officially signed with South Carolina on National Signing Day on Feb. 5. He had been committed to the Gamecocks since last April.

For those who follow college football recruiting, a commitment a year ago means absolutely nothing until the player actually signs with the school on National Signing Day.

So naturally, players change their minds all the time. South Carolina had several players who committed to other schools who changed their minds and switched to USC at the last minute.

Allen-Williams had numerous opportunities to change his mind. He was recruited by the University of Alabama, which had the number one recruiting class in the nation according to most sources, but turned them down.

He was strongly pursued by his home state school, the University of Georgia. In fact, it appeared that as recently as Monday, Feb. 3, he might change his mind and commit to the Bulldogs. He watched the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 at the home of Mark Richt, the head coach at Georgia. They made a strong push for the high school linebacker.

But on signing day, Allen-Williams committed to the Gamecocks.

His rationale? He told The State newspaper in Columbia, “I gave my word.”

Wow, how often do you hear those words today from mature adults, much less a teenager who hasn’t even graduated high school?

Allen-Williams’ decision and statement should be an example for us as Christians. As Christians, our word should be as good as any signed contract. Scripture reminds us in Matthew 5:37 that our “yes should be yes and our no, no.”

Bryson Allen-Williams may become a superstar in college or he may be a total flop. Regardless, he will have my respect for remaining true to his word. May his tribe increase.

Sad comments

January 22, 2014

It is a sad commentary on society when the president of the United States publicly states that an illegal drug (at least in 48 states) is no worse than alcohol.

President Barack Obama’s comments about marijuana were published in the Jan. 27 issue of The New Yorker and were released this week. He admitted to using marijuana as a “kid” and said he views it as “a bad habit and a vice.”

I view it as illegal. And until it is made legal in all 50 states, no political leader, regardless of party, should dismiss it simply as a vice.

We live in such a hypocritical society. Society, in general, condemns smoking cigarettes. But, it’s okay to smoke marijuana? It’s no wonder that morals are on a decline in our nation. Our younger generation is confused by the mixed signals.

As to whether marijuana is “no worse than alcohol,” that’s up to debate. If you use too much of either item, it impairs your thinking and potentially endangers others.

One Tweet from Jim Richards in Texas summed it up well: “I would say rattlesnakes are no worse than copperheads.”

The best solution is to keep marijuana illegal.

Can’t go wrong with prayer

January 8, 2014

No matter what you do in your personal life, you simply can’t go wrong if you start with prayer.

The same holds true for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. TBC Executive Director Randy C. Davis had a vision of “Praying Across Tennessee” in 2014.

The trek across the state was supposed to have started on Monday, Jan. 6, but dire predictions of bad weather forced the postponement of the first rally that was to have been held in Sevier County at First Baptist Church.

But the next two rallies on Jan. 7 in Dickson and Montgomery Counties were well attended by people genuinely interested in praying for their communities and state. Approximately 100 people attended the rallies at the Courthouse in Charlotte and at First Baptist Church, Clarksville.

Rallies also were held on Jan. 8 in Stewart, Houston, and Humphreys Counties.

What a great way for the state convention to begin the year. By year’s end, a prayer rally will have been held in every county in the state.

Bro. Randy has a heart and passion for the lost in Tennessee. Nearly 3.65 million of the estimated 6.2 million who live in the Volunteer State have no relationship with Jesus Christ. That has to change and the prayer rallies are an attempt to turn the tide.

Each rally began with the ringing of the Salvation Bell, a church bell on loan to the TBC from First Baptist Church, Sevierville. The Salvation Bell is “a constant reminder” for Davis that for the tide to be turned, it has to start with local churches. He noted the bell will be rung in every county in 2014.

Pray for these rallies throughout the year. See next week’s Baptist and Reflector for complete coverage of the first week of “Praying Across Tennessee.”

Downward spiral continues

December 17, 2013

Baptist Press published an article Dec. 16 that is a further reminder that morality is continuing a downward spiral in our nation.

A federal court judge in Utah invalidated a portion of the state law in Utah which prohibits bigamy. Essentially this means that polygamy is now legal as it is practiced in the state by those who are members of fundamentalist spinoffs of the Mormon religion, according to the BP article.

In essence, it appears anything goes as it relates to marriage.

Just six months ago the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a section of the law defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Russell Moore of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said it well in the Baptist Press article:

“Sadly, when marriage is elastic enough to mean anything, in due time it comes to mean nothing.”

As Christians, we can’t get discouraged and crawl into a hole. We must continue to sound the trumpet of what marriage truly is, as defined in God’s Holy Word.

Society may be in the process of redefining marriage, but ultimately, the only definition that matters for eternity is God’s definition of one man and one woman.

Continue to pray for our nation and our leaders.

Surviving Thanksgiving

December 2, 2013

Surviving Thanksgiving used to mean not gaining 10 pounds after a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and three days of leftovers.

Today, however, surviving Thanksgiving has taken on new meaning. Unfortunately, it’s a sad commentary on society.

There were several stories in the national media last week regarding actual fights taking place in malls and national chains such as Walmart. There were reports of people being stabbed or shot in addition to the actual fist fights. One of the saddest reports was that of a mother spitting on another woman’s child while fighting over baby clothes.

It seems to get worse every year. I remember going to a store when my children were much younger and almost getting run over by a shopping buggy pushed by a woman wearing a Christian T-shirt. I thought that was bad, but that was minor compared to today.

Greed has surpassed common sense in our society. A $99 32-inch television is just not worth risking your life over or going to jail.

Sadly, nothing will change until we stop focusing on the season itself and return our focus to the Reason for the season.

In the meantime it might be wise to “survive” Thanksgiving by simply staying out of the stores.

Allowing values to erode

October 2, 2013

Todd Stinnett, a pastor friend in East Tennessee, sent a link to a story about Moody Bible Institute yesterday. The article was surprising to say the least.

Trustees of Moody Bible Institute, a traditionally conservative Christian school in Chicago, voted to lift a provision which bans faculty and staff from drinking alcohol. Previously, any staff or faculty member (and student for that matter) had to agree not to drink alcohol, smoke, or have extramarital sex. The no drinking ban still applies to students.

The reason for lifting the drinking ban for faculty and staff only? The article said the “old, restrictive rules made it more difficult to recruit faculty members and staff.”

Here is yet another example of Christians “caving in” to cultural demands and allowing our values to continue to erode.

The trustees should be ashamed of themselves. I wonder how they can look students on that campus in the eye and defend what they did. It’s the old “do as I say, not as I do” rationale parents have given to their children for years. Children don’t understand it and neither will the students at Moody Bible Institute. If it is worth being a value for some of the folks, it’s worth being a value for everyone.

When Todd sent out the link, he posed this question, “Are Christians transforming the culture, or is the culture transforming Christians?” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that culture is indeed transforming Christians.

Christians are supposed to be “salt and light” in the world today. Actions like this make the salt lose its flavor and the light go dim.


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