April 16, 2012

SBC Name Change

Once again the question of whether or not to change the Southern Baptist Convention name has come to the forefront of Convention discussion. It’s happened many times. The first was in 1903, and perhaps the most notable was in the 70’s on a recommendation of W.A. Criswell. Always the name has remained, and always there have been lingering debates about changing it. The issue primarily surrounds the word “Southern.” The origin of the title “Southern” has roughly the same origin as the Confederate States of America. Confederate states wanted the right to own slaves and Southern Baptists wanted to be able to send out missionaries who owned slaves. Many argue today that this ceased to be an issue 150 years ago and needs to be forgotten. The problem with that is though the Civil War ended in the 1860’s, the racism that caused it persisted into the 1960’s. I would argue that the last battle of the Civil War was fought in 1968 over the Civil Rights Act. Only then did Blacks begin to get the rights Abraham Lincoln envisioned for them. So the issue of the word “Southern” being a title of racial oppression is not 150 years old, it is much more recent, at least from the perspective of many African Americans.

However, Racial issues are not the only reason to consider a change. “Southern” is a geographically limiting name. Long ago Southern Baptists ceased to be only in the South as the name implies. Not only are we nationwide, we are worldwide. Another consideration to ponder is the global appeal of our name. Many businesses consider name change just for this reason, to be more successful on the global stage. A recommendation will be made at this year’s Convention in New Orleans to keep the legal name Southern Baptist, but to also adopt the informal name “Great Commission Baptists.” I like it because “Great Commission” is not a regionally oriented name, but a name associated with our calling and purpose. It speaks ‘who we are’ far better than the word “Southern.”

Honestly, I thought it was a milk-toast solution at first, but the idea has grown on me. Changing the legal name of the Convention would present a plethora of legal issues for all the varying organizations connected to the SBC including Seminaries, State conventions, associations, and even local churches who would then be compelled to change their bylaws to keep up. I support the adoption of this informal name and am anxious to see all the ways it is slowly applied to our convention. At first we’ll be Southern Baptists who now call themselves Great Commission Baptists. Then it will be SBC also known as GCB. Then will come GCB formerly known as SBC. Eventually, hopefully we will just be Great Commission Baptists.

October 1, 2011


August 2011 was the costliest month for America in Afghanistan since the war began: 67 US troops were killed. I find it very unsettling that we are still fighting in Afghanistan ten years after the war began. This is the longest war in American history and there’s no end in sight. There is no doubt that attacking the Taliban and Al Qaeda had to be done. America has the bravest, most skilled, most compassionate military in history. But at what point do we bring them home? Osama bin Laden is dead. Al Qaeda has been expelled. I fear we are sending our soldiers to fight a war that cannot be won through military encounters. The Taliban has been repeatedly beaten militarily. The problem is Taliban ideology still dominates the region. You cannot defeat ideology with weaponology. In World War II we defeated Germany, but did not end fascism.

The War on Terror is different than any other war we have fought. It is most similar, however, to the Cold War. The Cold War wasn’t won on the battlefield. It was won with technology and intelligence. It’s time to stop putting our brave soldiers in the line of fire. If we leave Afghanistan, even if the Taliban rises to power again, they will be no more of a threat to us than many other hostile nations with weak governments including Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. I have grown so tired of American soldiers coming home to be buried. Let’s stop giving our enemies a target and win the war on terror like we won the Cold war, through technology and intelligence.

March 15, 2011

The Supreme Court and Westboro Baptist

As a pastor I am particularly offended at the vitriol of Westboro Baptist Church. Their actions demean the title “Baptist,” and worse their hate hinders the work of Christ. Their bitterness against homosexuality builds walls between those in a homosexual lifestyle and Christian faith. I’ve been present at a funeral where they demonstrated and confronted one on their leaders about the unbiblical nature of their actions. The bitter anger of her response and the glare of her eyes reminded me of a demonic encounter I had years earlier. I think Paul describes them well in Titus 1:16 (NET) They profess to know God but with their deeds they deny him, since they are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good deed. Last week the Supreme Court ruled in Westboro’s favor in a case against them. I obviously hate the fact that Westboro’s hate-filled words have not been extinguished, however, the Supreme Court was right. The damage Westboro has done to the cause of Christ is deep, but if the Supreme Court had ruled that speaking out publicly regarding your religious convictions was illegal, Christianity in America would have been permanently damaged. Think of the repercussions that could have. I hate what Westboro does, but shutting them up with the legal system is not the best approach. The best strategy I’ve seen is the Patriot Guard. Veterans and Bikers who’s presence at a veteran’s funeral belittles the bitterness and hate speech of Westboro. Their wimpy little hate signs are completely overpowered by the statement so many bikers make riding in support of the fallen. Way to go Patriot Guard! You make us proud!

January 17, 2011

Tucon Shooting

Tragedies such as this stir deep emotions and fears. Rightfully so. Unfortunately, many lack the emotional resources and spiritual depth to personally deal with the pain an event such as this creates. When the news first broke, many jumped to rash conclusions blaming this group or that. This is sign of one of two things: either a political agenda willing to use even the most tragic of events as political amunition, or a person without the spiritual an emotional resources to appropriately process the pain this event causes them. Who does not feel pain as they learn of a 9 year old killed by a stray bullet fired by a mindless killer? What does one do with that pain? All too many this week have lashed out at others trying to pin blame on opposing political convictions, or the availablility of guns, or some other aspect of our world they dislike. The blame lies with one person: The murderer. He is mentally defective. We all wish there to be something we can do to prevent such a mindless event. But until we are willing to arrest a person with no criminal history for having deep mental problems, there is little that can be done to prevent a tragedy such as this. Blaming Sarah Palin, the gun industry, the TEA party, the media, or video games gets us no where. The best thing we can do is to pray for the grieving, share their pain, and show our support in any way possible.

January 10, 2011

Pharisee Hypocrisy

In Matthew 23 Jesus gives his most scathing rebuke of the Pharisees. Seven times in this passage he calls them hypocrites. Three are illustrations of their hypocrisy, A garden v.23, a dish v.25, and a white-washed tomb in v.25. The other four references are descriptions of their hypocrisy: 'You're a hypocrite because...' Of these four descriptions, one stands out as a great risk for believers today. Its found in v.13, "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men..." (NAS) By their rules, regulations and strict oversight they made the kingdom of heaven unreachable. Impossible to attain. Totally absent from their teaching was anything about grace. Law and consequences ruled the day. Their hypocrisy was clear in that not even they themselves could maintain obedience to all of their regulations, yet they showed no grace. Christ shows grace to sinners throughout the gospels. Forgiveness is abundant in his words. What he could not tolerate was self-righteous hypocrisy. This is a wise lessor for believers to remember today as we take stands in the public square on issues of morality. One hypocrite can do a world of damage to the cause of Christ when he/she is exposed. 1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (NAS)

December 27, 2010

Joseph: Protector of Christ

Joseph gets little attention in the Bible. But this is a man God chose to perform a task very close to His heart: Protect and nurture God's Son. A task not entrusted to just anyone. Joseph had high expectations to live up to, and he delivered. Joseph became the protector of Christ. He first protected Christ before he was born by not divorcing Mary for being pregnant. Then after Jesus' birth as he followed the angel's directions moving to Egypt and back. Joseph became very skilled at hearing and following God's instructions. But to me the most significant action Joseph took to protect and defend Christ is seen his decision to move back to Nazareth. In Matthew 2 Joseph is warned in a dream for the third time. Warned about the danger that still lurks in Judea for God's son. In considering this, Joseph makes an executive, fatherly decision to move his family back to Nazareth to raise Jesus away from Judea and in a safe, obscure place. No angel told him this. No dream, no revelation. Joseph came to this decision on his own through his own wisdom and experience. And it was perfect! This is a notable achievement for Joseph who has had his steps all but dictated to him previously. Through his own discernment and love for God's son he reached this decision. Here Joseph displays for us an example of the place where we all need to be in our relationship with Christ. We are His protectors now. We are his defenders. It is our place now to make wise discerning decisions about how we are to live, who we associate with and what we do as it relates to Christ. Does your lifestyle endanger Christ's lordship in your life? The things you do, the places you go, the people you associate with? Joseph changed his life to honor and protect God's son in his home. We should do the same for God's son in our our heart. Be Christ's protector today.

October 19, 2010

Trumpets of Judgment

We began a new series at Southside a few weeks ago, The Trumpets of God. Last Sunday we looked at the Trumpet of War. Initially, the trumpet’s primary purpose was to warn people of an approaching army, or to lead the army into battle against the enemy. This was what Joshua did at Jericho, Gideon did against the Midianites, And Saul against the Philistines. The trumpet became a part of leading an attack against the enemy much like the bugle often was used to call the army to “Charge!” in the 19th century. This imagery of the trumpet sounding the call to battle is used in one of the most famous trumpet passages in the Bible, Revelation 8 the Seven trumpets of Judgment. These trumpets announce the coming of seven judgments launched against evil people on the earth in much the same way an army would announce their attack against the enemy with a trumpet. However, we would be wise not to assume these trumpets are reserved for some time in the future. We are given no hints in God’s word about the duration of these trumpets, or whether they are successive or concurrent. This begs the question: Can we see evidence of these judgments already occurring in our world around us? I think we can. The most notable to me is the second trumpet which announces a third of the sea will become blood. Just a few months ago we had a hole punched in the bottom of the ocean spewing forth oil uncontrollably. As that oil reached the surface it was red and stretched for miles destroying the fishing industry for months. I think these trumpets will be devastating and obvious “acts of God.” But that’s not to say we can’t see echo’s of them already at work around us. John, the author of Revelation, said in 1 John 2 that many antichrist’s are already at work and from this we know it is the last hour. That was written in the first century. How much more should we be watchful for end time judgments 19 centuries later? Jesus told believers in Matthew 24 of many perils and tribulations that will befall the earth. Then in v.33 said “…when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” (NAS)