Should We Give up on gay marriage?

Do you remember the good ‘ole days?  Those heady days in the summer of 2015? The Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell vs. Hodges that states had to recognize same sex marriage.  If you’re interested, you can read the majority opinion here:  Obergefell vs. Hodges Opinion

Remember where you were on September 8, 2015 when Mike Huckabee emerged from a Kentucky jail raising the hand of Kim Davis who had been jailed for refusing to sign a marriage liscense for a gay couple?  Do you remember the times? We were all young and carefree, but the times, they are a changin’.

We have a new president who says he’s fine with gay marriage being legal:  Donald Trump gay marriage story

This begs three questions:  What happened?  Have we given up the fight on same sex marriage?  Should we give up the fight on same sex marriage?

1). What happened–We, and by we I mean social conservatives, put considerable resources behind the fight against gay marriage.  Social conservatives were responsible for the passage of marriage protection amendments in many states.  What do we have now?  We have some of the same leaders who led the fight against gay marriage parading around with a candidate who’s “fine with the legalization of gay marriage”.  There were 18 candidates to choose from, and we couldn’t do any better in this issue.  Did we just choose to look away from an issue we were fighting so hard against just a year and a half ago?  

2.  Have we given up the fight against gay marriage:  The actions of these leaders seem to indicate that social conservatives have given up the fight on this issue.

3.  Should we give up the fight against same sex marriage:  This answer might surprise, but I tend to think we should give up.  The statistics show that my generation, the milenials, are far less insterested than past generations in legislating morality.  The fight has lost all its steam, and we’ve lost any kind of leverage or Biblical high ground we had. When our leaders enthusiastically support a president who has no problem with gay marriage, we can longer complain when the homosexual political agenda is forced on us. We helped elect a President who will not offer any support in this fight.  There were even some of our leaders who prayed at his inauguration, and made remarks about rain being a symbol of blessing on the Trump administration.  

This post is not meant to be a polemic against homosexuals.  I have always thought evangelicals had much bigger fish to fry than fighting against same sex marriage, but I do have a problem with evangelical leaders who seem to have sold out their position just to have someone who can barely quote scripture in the Oval Office.  I hope we don’t look back in 4 to 8 years and ask “was it all worth it?”

What do you guys think about this sudden turnaround?  Have we given up?  Should we have given up sooner than we did?

What I Expect from President Trump

Today, at noon, Donald Trump became the 45th President of The United States. It’s safe to assume that not even Mr. Trump foresaw taking the oath this afternoon. This was a bitterly divisive election between Democrats and Republicans, and between different segments of the Republican Party. The Republican divide was often seen along generational lines as the older generation tended to enthusiastically support President Trump while the younger generation may have voted for President Trump, but we held our noses.Now that Mr. Trump is officially sworn in, I have a few expectations.

1) I expect President Trump to win: President Trump is a winner. President Trump has always been a winner even when he seems to have lost, and I expect nothing less while he is occupying the Oval Office. President Trump will win for himself. He has always shown the remarkable capacity to win for himself. When he wins for himself while President, I hope the rest of America gets swept along in the victory parade.

2) I expect President Trump to keep tweeting: The headline, “Trump team rushes to correct tweet” will be popular in the next four years.

3) I expect President Trump to appoint conservative Supreme Court Justices: This point is serious. He said repeatedly that he would appoint justices who would reflect the beliefs of evangelical Christians. He already has one opportunity, and I believe he will have another opportunity in the next four years. Many evangelicals voted for President Trump only because of the generational impact he could have on the court. If he does not appoint conservatives to the bench, he will lose the next election.

4) I expect President Trump to shake things up: He shook up the establishment, he took down two political dynasties and he won in an unconventional style. I and many others expect the next four years to be anything but business as usual. This may not cost him the next election, but he will narrow his potential path to a second term if Washington returns to the same old town.

5) I expect President Trump to be a roadblock against the liberal progressive agenda: I have no allusions that President Trump is the conservative president we have all been waiting for. I voted for him on the mere possibility that he would be at best a roadblock in the way of the liberal agenda, but that is all I expect from his presidency. He is not a Savior. He is not a bastion of conservative ideals. He may not even be a Republican.

That’s what I expect from President Trump. I speak for myself, but I wonder if I speak for my millennial generation? Is there anything else you expect from President Trump? Do you agree with what I expect? Are you going to move to Canada?

We Need Less Revival

I wrote a post last week, “What I’ve Learned about church life in four years of pastoring.”Item #3 generated some comments and a request from the venerable Dave Miller to flesh out my thoughts. Point #3 was “We need less revival.” I want to explore that statement in this post.

First, I was in no way implying that we need less of The Holy Spirit, less of the God who was present at Mt. Carmel, and at Pentecost. We want God to move and we would welcome the movement of God in that way if He chose to do so. Are we prepared for such a movement? That’s another question for another post.

We have defined revival according to those two Biblical events. That is not revival. That is God displaying His power for a specific result. I don’t know what technical term we could use for it, but not revival. Biblically, when the hearts of God’s people have been turned towards Him, it has happened during a period of consistent obedience. For example, the good kings in Israel’s history and the churches at Philippi and Thessalonica. Those two churches did not experience a turning back to God, but I contend they were healthy churches because of consistent obedience.

Based on those brief observations, I believe we should do the following:

1) Preach, teach, and model consistent Biblical obedience: We should preach more sermons encouraging Biblical obedience, but we can’t preach and teach what we don’t model. We need more leaders whose lives draw a picture of consistency than whose skills can draw a crowd.

2) Stop acting like an emotional religious experience will solve the problems with the church: Do we need to experience God in an emotional way? Do we need to be broken? Do we need to grieve over our sin? Yes, yes, and yes. Those emotional experiences are useless if they don’t produce the desire to be a consistent disciple. For example, if I take 40 people to a conference where we have a great emotional experience with God, but no one becomes a consistent disciple, what have we accomplished? Would more have been accomplished with 10 people at a discipleship event?

3) Disciple, disciple, disciple: We should always be looking to disciple others in a one on one relationship. Every pastor should ask themselves, who am I discipling? Is there anyone I spend one on one time with each week? Men, is there a young man whom you disciple? I help teach Sunday School at a facility for young men who have ended up on the wrong side of the law. Every one of those boys would welcome a relationship with an older man. If you are discipling in this way, are you teaching and encouraging others to do the same?

4) Pray, pray, pray: Instead of praying for revival fire to fall on our churches, how about we pray for more of our members to walk consistently?

5) Redefine revival: I wrote about this above, but a warm fuzzy religious experience does not a revival make. True revival only occurs when God’s people turn and follow Him in consistent obedience. True revival occurs when lives are changed, not parts of lives, but entire lives are changed.

These are just my opinions, but I know what I see. I see young people searching for a life changing walk with Christ, and I see at times, a church that is more concerned with their experience than with their discipleship. I see young men who would welcome guidance from an older, Godly man, but I see churches who seem more concerned with drawing a crowd. I see older Christians with a desire to finish well, but a church that isn’t teaching them how to finish well.

What do you think? What do you see? Are we in danger of “reviving the church” only to watch her slip into a perpetual pattern of revival and disobedience? Does true revival only occur with the consistent obedience of God’s people? I hope this post generates some much needed discussion.

Mike Tomlin Video

The Chiefs lost last night. This was a blue Monday in Kansas City. The finger pointing was in full swing on Sports Radio this morning. The defense didn’t give up a touchdown yet the Chiefs still lost. Does that mean the offense was at fault? You may want to answer in the affirmative on the last question, but the defense did give up 170 plus yards to Levian Bell which led to a 10 minute time of possession difference in favor of the Steelers. Was it Andy Reid’s fault? Does he need to give away the play calling duties? Did the referees involve themselves unnecessarily? Those questions and more are being batted about today, but the headline from last might’s game involves something that happened after the game. Steelers receiver, Antonio Brown, live streamed Head coach Mike Tomlin’s post game speach on Facebook. The speech was not intended to be heard by anyone outside of the locker room.I have three observations from that post game speach.

1) I lost some respect for Tomlin: I’m not a Steelers fan, but I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Tomlin. He followed a legend who followed a legend in that coaching job and he’s more than held his own. The majority of that speech was unnecessary.

I’ve also always had a lot of respect for the Steelers organization. They win the right way. They keep their coaches around, and they don’t have a plethora of negative press. This video did nothing to help the Steeler brand, not to mention the whole Joey Porter flap, which was handled appropriately, but still bad press for a pretty clean and respected organization.  

2) The cursing is not necessary: Google the speech, listen to it and then repeat it to yourself without the expletives. Did the absence of cursing change the tone and the message of the speach? I don’t think it does. The insult to the Patriots is also unnecessary.

3) This does nothing for the perception of coaches: The public perception of coaches is that they’re good at what they do but not very bright when it comes to anything else. This is not a correct assumption, but this video just gives ammunition to anyone who wants to say that coaches are just dumb jocks.

4) Tomlin was not being ignored: Many are pointing to the noise in the background and saying that Tomlin was being ignored. I think the noise is just an outgrowth of what happens when you get a bunch of people in a room. There’s always noise, and there are always those who don’t listen to the speaker. The Steelers know what was said and they know what their coach instructed them to do.

5) Tomlin deserves a pass: Mike Tomlin does deserve a pass on this one, but if this happens again, the egg is on his face. What happens in the locker room should stay in the locker room. This should never happen to Tomlin again.

6) The Patriots will beat the Steelers: I’m calling it right now, the Patriots will beat the Steelers next weekend. This kind of incident never happens with the Patriots. They won’t say anything this week. They’ll just hunker down, deflect the questions and win like they always do. The Steelers will have no one to blame but themselves.

It’s good there was something else to talk about because the game was terrible, but I hope we don’t have to see this on Facebook again.

The World’s Perception

Thom Rainer posted a few days ago about an informal twitter poll he conducted. His question was, “What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear Baptist?” The results can be found here:

The most frequent answer was legalism. That’s probably not surprising to most of us, but some questions should be asked.

1) Do we bear responsibility for the perception of being legalisms? We may not want to to ask ourselves this question, and we may not see the point. Where does scripture say that we should care about the perception of the world? Won’t the world always think ill of us?

My answer to the question is, It depends. There are some who unfairly perceive us as legalistic. The Holy Spirit can and will change their perception if it’s His will. There are those who were spurned by earlier religious experiences. Then, there are those who have very few preconceptions. 

2). What is our responsibility to the groups above? There are several non negotiable responsibilities. First and foremost, we should pray for all the lost, no matter their experiences or preconceptions. Second, we should always speak the truth in love. We should never compromise the gospel for the sake of acceptance. Should we evaluate the tone and content of our message? Yes we should and I’m afraid that’s something we preachers do not like to do. There’s a reason that legalism is the most popular word to come to mind when people think about Baptists. (Yes I know it was an informal poll, but Twitter has spoken). We preach grace and truth, not truth only and not grace only. We preach as sinners who are recipients of the mercy of God. We know the truth and the truth is not only that we are sinners, but that Jesus has lovingly offered us salvation.   

3). How do we evaluate our message? We ask the opinion of others. This is not easy, but it is necessary. A trusted evaluator can help keep us balanced.. When was the last time you asked for an opinion on your preaching, and not just one sermon, but your overall preaching?

We should also listen to ourselves. I’ve not developed this discipline. I currently have three of my sermons on my phone. My wife records them and airdrops them for me. I have some listening to do. 

Finally, we should never take God’s grace for granted. I’m afraid, among Baptist preachers, we tend to lean towards the more judgmental end of the spectrum. If we’re not careful we can find ourselves preaching only sin and judgment. That strain of preaching takes the grace of God for granted.

These are just my rambling thought for the evening. What do you guys think? Do you have any habits that help keep your preaching ministry balanced? What is our responsibility when it comes to the world’s perception?

What I’ve Learned About Church Life 

My friend asked me a great question Friday afternoon as we drove back from Kansas City. He asked, “Now that you’ve been a pastor for four years, what have you learned about church life that you didn’t know before?” I was a music minister in Arkansas for -3 years before I became a pastor. I have also been in church my whole life and I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of church life. I probably would have given him a better answer had I not felt like 10 miles of bad road, but I’ve had three days to reflect and here’s a more complete answer:

1) You really do have to depend on The Holy Spirit: this may read like a “duh” statement to most of my readers, but as an under staff member, I got used to depending on those in authority over me. The Holy Spirit was always there and always working, but I did not always see it that way. These last four years have taught me, like no other time in my ministry, how utterly dependent I am on The Holy Spirit. I’m grateful that I have to depend on The Holy Spirit because if I had to depend on myself, our church would be in some serious trouble.

2) Good Christians aren’t perfect and bad Christians ain’t demons: in my 13 years as a worship leader I heard the good and the bad about church members. I’ve learned that we tend to exaggerate in both directions. We tend to idolize those who we judge to be good Christians and demonized those whom we judge to be bad Christians. In reality, most Christians are somewhere in between. The good ones will hurt you and you might come to appreciate the difficult ones. I’m not denying the fact that there are some in leadership in our churches who aren’t Christian, but I like to think there aren’t as many of those.

3) We need less revival: let me try to explain this one. I can’t go to a preacher meeting without at least one speaker calling for the fire from heaven to come down and revive our dying churches. The longer I pastor, and the more I seek God personally, the more I realize that we don’t need revival experiences more than we just need people who are committed to consistently living out their faith on a daily basis. Passionate, worshipful experiences with God are a blessing but if they don’t produce a believer who consistently walks with God day after day, then what have they accomplished? That’s not a rhetorical question. I am interested in your opinion on that one.

4) Pastoring is really hard: I think I already knew this one, but I was a much better pastor when I wasn’t a pastor. There have been several days in the past four years when I’ve wanted to call my former pastors and apologize. Maybe I’ll have a young, sarcastic, arrogant, smart-alec Worship leader one day.

5) Jesus loves me: I’m more aware of the depth and the riches of Christ’s love.

I love pastoring. I love the people I pastor, and I hope I get to pastor for a long time, but I love Christ more and I know that nothing will separate me from The of God which is in Christ Jesus.

What would your answer to the question be? Would you add anything to my points?

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