Every personality profile evaluation I have ever taken identifies a particular character trait that is confirmed by my wife, family, friends, everyone I’ve worked with and by everyone for whom I’ve served as their pastor. I am a “bottom line” kind of man.
The Lord has taught me how to temper that trait with patience and grace when appropriate; but to employ that trait when needed. Unfortunately, we live in “bottom line” days, and I am embracing my bottom line self.
It is a heavy blow when God determines to bring to light that which is hidden in the shadows. Sometimes the Body of Christ must bear the weight of His judgment when He does.
Such a blow was delivered yesterday morning in an article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle. The headline was, “Abuse of Faith.” The extremely thorough story reported 20 years of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches that affected at least 700 victims. Far and away the majority of the victims were children or youth; and far and away the perpetrators were ministers. Just in the past decade, at least 250 people who worked for or volunteered in a Southern Baptist church have been charged with sex crimes. Continue reading “The Heavy Hand of God’s Judgment”→
The most gut-wrenching and soul-devastating site in the world is seeing women militantly demanding the right to kill their unborn babies.
I was reminded of this last week when I saw a photo of women vociferously protesting for the right to “keep abortion legal.” How I pray to God that in my lifetime I’d see the end of the systematic killing of the precious babies God knits together in the wombs of their mothers. Unfortunately, the systematic killing of unborn children is a global epidemic of unimaginable proportion.
According to research done by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization founded 50 years ago and heavily supported by Planned Parenthood, more than 55 million unborn lives per year – 55 million per year – are terminated as a result of “induced abortion” as the report describes it.
Let me offer some perspective. That total is the equivalent of annually killing everyone in South Korea (population 50 million), Kenya (48 million), Colombia (48 million), Spain (46 million), Argentina (43 million) and Canada (36 million). In fact, more babies are murdered every year through induced abortion than the population of 198 of the 233 countries listed in the United Nations database. Let those figures sink in. Read this paragraph again. Every year it is like we terminate the people of entire nations.
I struggle to comprehend these numbers. The atrocity of such mass murder is a scourge on humanity and a tangible example of the inherent depravity vigorously alive in the heart of man.
I confess to feeling over-whelmed, and if not careful, I can find myself wringing my hands in despair. I sometimes feel helpless, wondering what one man can do against such a tsunami of death.
But then I remember Scripture like, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21); “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).
And there are so many more passages that call me – call us – to stand against such evil and fight for the unborn.
We are called by a loving Father to love these babies because He loves them.
I wish with one stroke we could end this global genocide, but that isn’t going to happen. We will have to chip away one opportunity at a time.
As a Tennessean and as a Tennessee Baptist, I am proud that nearly five years ago we fought back by voting for Amendment 1, the so-called “abortion amendment” that made it much more difficult to obtain an abortion in our state.
If you recall, Tennessee had become the “abortion destination” for the surrounding states because of how lax abortion laws were here compared to more stringent laws in neighboring states. Tennessee abortion providers even promoted in other states the ease with which someone could travel to Tennessee to obtain an abortion. It was big business. It was an embarrassing stain on a state that claimed to be the Buckle of the Bible Belt.
Fortunately, Christians along with other like-minded people rose up and together led a grassroots charge to change that stigma through the Yes On 1 movement.
Despite organizations like Planned Parenthood pumping millions of dollars into the campaign to defeat Yes On 1, Tennesseans cooperated together and voted in favor of the amendment by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.
Never one to accept defeat of their murderous practices, Planned Parenthood and others fought back. They appealed the vote through the Sixth Circuit Court then to the Supreme Court, which upheld the circuit court’s unanimous decision that Amendment 1 was legal and could stand.
In December, the Tennessean reported that the last remaining abortion clinic in Nashville was closing its doors. Cooperating together, we struck a blow against evil, but we must not become prideful, satisfied or complacent. Evil does not rest or quietly die in defeat. It fights back with a vengeance.
At the time of the Supreme Court’s decision last fall, Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life said, “Pro-life Tennesseans must be resolute not only in our commitment to defending this victory, but also to being measured in the introduction of new laws that can’t yet be held as constitutional under existing court precedent. Equally important is the election of a pro-life Governor and pro-life legislative super-majorities who understand where we’ve been as a movement, where we want to go, and how to best get there.”
We must be diligent and participate in the process of protecting life. However, this battle is ultimately not won in the court system but in the hearts of people. The greatest way to see abortion die is to see lives changed by the saving power of the gospel. The greatest way we can love Tennessee’s unborn children is to share the love of Jesus with their mommas.
It is a challenging road at times, but it is a joy to be on the journey with you.
I grew up on the Alabama Gulf Coast and love it. But it’s a little more than just loving it, it’s in my blood. The majority of my earliest memories are of water skiing up and down the canal, fishing off the coast of Orange Beach, shrimping in Perdido Bay, and sitting at the end of our pier drinking coffee and watching beautiful sunsets with my family.
I’ve got an old black and white photo of my father-in-law, Wilkerson V. Jones, standing next to Babe Ruth, one of baseball’s greatest players. Ruth of course, went on to baseball immortality and is among the sport’s pantheon of stars.
But in my book, Wilkerson went on to immortality too. His legacy is revealed in the lives he positively affected, including me. The interesting connection between Ruth and Wilkerson is that they both grew up in boys’ homes. Both had rough starts to life and it was effectively at a boys home where their lives took a turn for the better. It was people investing in them that made a difference. Continue reading “Don’t Forget Tennessee’s ‘Least of These’”→
On Feb. 18, 1952, the S.S. Pendleton was caught in a brutal winter storm generating 60-foot waves that slammed into the 500-foot tanker. The seas became so intense that it split the ship in two. The captain and six others were in the forward part of the ship; the other 32 in the aft as the two sections began drifting apart.
When the distress call came into the Coast Guard station, the station’s commander turned to a 24-year-old Bernie Webber and told him to take a boat out and attempt a rescue. Webber asked for volunteers who would go. Three other men, all younger than Webber, quickly stepped forward. Continue reading “This Could Be Our Finest Hour”→
Wilkerson V. Jones would’ve turned 100 this coming July 4th. He was well known all over Mobile, Ala. It seemed as if he knew everybody and everybody knew him.
He is a member of the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame, was active in his church, and was tall, handsome and distinguished. A southern gentleman in every way, married to the same woman for well over half a century, and together with Ms. Juanita, they raised nine children.
I had few personal encouragers like Mr. Jones. It seemed as if no one was more interested in the church I was pastoring in Tennessee than this man in Alabama. He read everything I wrote and provided feedback, whether I asked for it or not. He examined every word of the church newsletter and even called me one day and asked what “bulk rate” meant. Continue reading “The Impact of an Orphan”→
The 2016 U.S. presidential election was quite a spectacle! During the primaries, the Republicans seemed to get a new candidate every day. Then there was the general election campaign to elect the new President!
You don’t want your process of selecting Sunday school leaders to look like that!
Sunday school leaders should be enlisted not elected. Nominating committees work diligently to enlist volunteers for various positions of leadership in the church. A few Sunday school classes actually elect their teacher. The teacher of these classes often accept the task of teaching, but will they cooperate with church leaders to understand Sunday school as a strategy for growing the church? Continue reading “Seven Steps to Enlisting Sunday School Leaders”→
Tony Evans told a story about lying in bed and noticing a crack in the ceiling. He calls a painter and the painter repairs the crack and repaints. A few months later, Tony looks up and notices the crack had reappeared. A little annoyed, he calls the painter and he once again repairs the crack and repaints. A few more months go by and the crack again reappears. This time Tony calls a different painter. The painter observes the damaged ceiling and says he can’t help. Tony asks him, “What do you mean? You’re a painter!” The painter replies that, of course, he could repair the crack and repaint, but that isn’t the problem. The problem is that the house’s foundations are shifting. Continue reading “Four Foundations to Grow a Great Sunday School”→
Imagine the scene as the Farr family arrives at church. Mr. Farr goes to a men’s Sunday school class on the third floor of the building. Mrs. Farr says, “I’ll meet you in the worship center after Sunday school” and turns down the preschool hallway, where she teaches a class of 3-year-olds. Molly, 14, heads to the second floor for the youth class, and Joseph, the third-grade son, runs in a different direction for his class. And this is a church that promotes itself as being a family-friendly church. Continue reading “15 Steps to Becoming a Family-Friendly Church”→