Archive for May, 2015

Our tax dollars at work

May 28, 2015

Co-worker Tammy Harris sent me an interesting link today about  a Marine who was court-martialed in 2014 for  — get this — daring to display a verse of Scripture.

Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling has recently filed an appeal of the guilty verdict to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. She was demoted to the rank of private and dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps after being found guilty of not following orders to remove Scripture taped to her computer.

Apparently another Marine was offended to see the Scripture “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” posted for display on Lance Corporal Sterling’s computer.

I can’t help but wonder what the offended person would have done had he or she been in a foxhole with Lance Corporal Sterling with rounds of ammunition being fired over their heads. Would the individual have stopped her from saying a prayer of protection? I kind of doubt it.

It’s just a another example of our religious freedoms slowly eroding away.

Just as appalling is the amount of taxpayers dollars that were used for the trial and now the appeal.

Evangelist Franklin Graham summed it up well in this Twitter post on May 27. “A Marine being prosecuted for posting a Bible verse? Today our culture tolerates everything — except for God’s Word.”

Pray for God’s will in this issue and for a Marine who dared to display her faith. We need more men and women serving our country who have such courage.

 

Are Christians caving to culture?

May 20, 2015

Baptist Press reported  May 12 on findings from a Pew Research Center study that indicate the number of Christians in America has declined by almost 8 percentage points since 2007.

The story also indicated that the number of religiously unaffiliated adults (commonly referred to as “nones) increased by almost 7 percentage points over the same time frame.

That begs the question, “Why?”

I’m not a math major (that’s why I became a journalist; didn’t have to take as many math courses in college) but 8 percentage points reflects a huge number of people within the Christian community.

There are probably several reasons for the decline. Among them are a natural decline by death, a lack of evangelism, and what I fear the most, apathy, along with a fear of standing up for one’s beliefs in a culture that looks down upon Christianity.

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, does not believe that Christianity is dying but he did note in the Baptist Press article that it is becoming “less nominal, more defined, and more outside the mainstream of American culture.”

He wrote in a recent blog, “For example, the cultural cost of calling yourself ‘Christian’ is starting to outweigh the cultural benefit, so those who do not identify as ‘Christian’ according to their convictions are starting to identify as ‘nones’ because it’s more culturally savvy.”

We are living in a day and age where Christians are afraid to speak up and stand boldly for their convictions. Christians are caving to culture. And, we are paying the price.

The numbers will continue to decline unless we, as Christians and Tennessee Baptists, get out of the pews and into the marketplace. We must live our faith so people see a difference and be willing to build relationships so we can earn the right to share the gospel.

Tennessee Baptists adopted Five Objectives during their annual meeting last November. The first one is to see at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship by the year 2024.

I encourage Tennessee Baptists to embrace that goal. It will go a long way in reversing the decline in those identifying as Christians. If we are seeing people saved, baptized, and then discipled to be followers of Christ, they will remain faithful and help win others to faith in Christ.

The disturbing trend cited by the Pew Research can be reversed. Are we up to the challenge?

 

Some facts about alcohol

May 6, 2015

Besides being consumer products, what do pizza, appliances, furniture, and alcohol have in common?

Nothing yet, but beginning July 1, alcohol joins the list of products that can be delivered to your home.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law last week a bill that will allow third-party restaurant delivery services to purchase alcohol and deliver it to the homes of consumers. According to The Tennessean, packaged liquor stores are already allowed to deliver directly to consumers after legislation passed last year, but many retailers opted not to provide that service.

Let’s hope the added cost of delivery will make those home deliveries few and far between.

Am I a prude? No, but I am not for anything that makes alcohol easier for people, especially those with addictive tendencies, to obtain. I have seen alcohol destroy the life of one of the best friends I ever had and almost destroy others I love and care about.

Over the years I have seen alcohol gain more acceptance even among Christians. When I was younger, pastors actually railed against the evils of alcohol. Now, we have pastors who give tacit approval of alcohol use.

Let me be clear so no one misunderstands. I know the Bible does not say it is a sin to drink alcohol.  I do not think a person will go to hell if he or she has an occasional alcoholic beverage. The Bible, however, does have a lot to say about the misuse of alcohol (drunkenness).

Therein lies the problem. Hundreds of thousands of people can’t stop at one drink. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., (NCADD) reports that alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States and that 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.

Some will argue that we can’t legislate morality. True, to come extent. But it depends on the substance. We have no problem passing laws that prohibit smoking in restaurants and we extol the dangers of smoking. Smoking is on the “out” list while alcohol is for the “in” crowd. Yet, both can do damage to the body, God’s temple.

Here are some facts about alcohol from  the NCADD.

• 88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use.

• Alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.

• Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost or each death.

• Up to 40 percent of all hospital beds in the United States (except for those being used by maternity and intensive care patients) are being used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol consumption. That list of health conditions is extensive.

Ultimately, the decision to drink or not to drink must be made by individuals. And while the Bible doesn’t specifically call alcohol a sin, it does warn against engaging in any action that could cause “a weaker brother to stumble.” Read Romans 14:14-21 as a reminder.

Choose wisely and remember that the non-Christian world watches what we do.