Archive for August, 2015

Just a little common sense

August 26, 2015

Over the years I have bemoaned the fact that plain common sense is on the verge of extinction.

I keep hoping it will be revived, but a lack of common sense actually seems to be getting worse. And it’s no respecter of age, race, education, etc. The most intelligent of human beings can literally have no common sense.

The latest example is a judge who ruled that the band at Brandon High School  in Mississippi could not participate in their high school’s Friday night games because their performance included the song “How Great Thou Art.”

Keep in mind the band plays music only, no words.

I can’t help but wonder how many people at the game would know what was being played, much less its significance. I confess. I am a music illiterate. If I played the old game “Name that Tune,” I would be embarrassed. I would like to think I would pick out “How Great Thou Art” because I was reared in church, but I am not 100 percent sure I would get it right on the first guess. If I had trouble, I can’t help but think those who aren’t as familiar with Christian songs would have trouble as well.

Here’s where some good old-fashioned common sense would have been useful. The judge ruled that the band couldn’t play “How Great Thou Art” because administrators, teachers, and staff in Brandon County are prohibited from sponsoring prayer and religious activities.

A song without words that most people likely would not identify hardly counts as a “religious activity” in my book.

Click on the link above to read some of the comments people have written.

One is the standard argument that is always used against Christians. If the band had been playing a Muslim song the Christian community would have been in an uproar. This Christian would not have been because I would not have had a clue of the song’s origination.

Here’s another example to illustrate the difficulty of identifying music without words. If I asked how many of you are familiar with Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” you probably would look at me with a blank stare. If I asked you if you have heard the theme song of the TV Show, “The Lone Ranger,” you probably would answer in the affirmative. The two are the one and the same.

Now, the story has garnered national attention and people are talking about it. Had the judge exercised some common sense and allowed the band to perform, I doubt it would have been a blip on the radar screen.

It’s yet another growing example of our freedoms slowly eroding.

Some good out of a bad situation actually took place at that first game. I applaud the parents of the band and probably others who stood up spontaneously at half-time and began singing “How Great Thou Art.” Watch the video  on YouTube. It is a blessing to see Christians unashamed to take a stand. The judge didn’t want the music played, yet God won as He always does. The words of “How Great Thou Art” are a powerful witness.

May we all be so bold!



Taking a stand

August 19, 2015

In today’s society taking a stand for what’s right involves risk, whether it be for an individual, church, or organization.

Taking a stand today for Christian values and beliefs more than likely will pit you against culture or what’s popular.

Taking a stand often means you will become a target for those who want to label you as a bigot or hypocrite.

Christians today, however, need to step to the plate and take a stand regardless of the consequences.

It was refreshing to see one of our Tennessee Baptist institutions take such a stand just last week. Union University announced that it is withdrawing from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).

The CCCU apparently failed to take action against two member institutions that “are going along with the crowd” by endorsing same-sex marriage.

Membership in organizations such as the CCCU is voluntary. Let Union University President Dub Oliver and others on staff there know that you applaud them for taking a stand when some in the educational community no doubt will be critical.

May their tribe increase.



Much sooner than later

August 12, 2015

It was only a matter of time. And it came much sooner than later.

When the United States Supreme Court ruled in June that same-sex marriage is protected under the Constitution and is legal in all 50 states, concerns were expressed that religious liberty would come under attack.

Questions arose as to whether ministers could speak freely against homosexuality and call it what it is — sin.

At least in Kentucky the answer is no. Fox News reported Aug. 11 that volunteer chaplains had to sign a document promising not to tell inmates that homosexuality is “sinful.”

When Chaplain David Wells said he could not sign such a document, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice revoked his credentials.

Wells, who spent 13 years ministering to troubled juveniles, had to give up a labor of love.

If anyone is really surprised this has happened, then your head has been in the sand.

And, if you think this won’t happen again and again you are sadly mistaken. And, it will eventually find its way to Tennessee — probably much sooner than later.

Two freedoms that Americans hold dear — speech and religion — are under attack.

We have to be diligent and pray more fervently than ever. And we all need to be able to answer this question: Will we stand boldly for Christ?

That question will eventually come — much sooner than later.


Bad things happen when we lose focus

August 5, 2015

Have you ever driven down the highway and taken your eyes off the road for just a split second?

And, no you don’t have to admit you were texting or reading an e-mail or almost spilled your coffee. It may be you caught a glimpse of a deer or other animal out of the corner of your eye. Whatever the case, you took your eyes off the road and let them wander elsewhere.

If you were extremely blessed during that moment, nothing bad happened to you or anyone else.

But when we lose our focus for an extended period of time, bad things can happen.

My daughter Joanna sent me a link to a story in The Greenville News about a church that has lost its focus. It’s a sad story because of the history and tradition of First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C.

Pastor William B. Johnson, who organized the church, would later become the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention. According to the church website, the church once housed Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in its infancy. Now, First Baptist Church is no longer even affiliated with the SBC.

The church has just announced that it will allow same-sex couples to marry in the church, that it will ordain gay ministers, and that it will allow gays to hold leadership positions in the church. In my book, that’s a good indication that the church “has taken its eyes off the road.”

Let me be clear. I understand church autonomy. First Baptist had every right to do what it did. I don’t dispute it. I just disagree with it.

One might ask how such a historic Southern Baptist church can abandon its roots.

Lest we be too harsh on First Baptist, it can happen to any church that takes its eyes off God and looks at things from the world’s perspective. You become more concerned about what the world says than what God’s Word says.

As someone who grew up in Greenville County I am saddened by what this church has done.

I imagine God is too.