Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What Obama Should Say

I am a Christian first. This means that I willingly submit to the governing authorities (Rom 13) but I do not believe that the government can solve most human misery. The church is God's instrument for serving man's misery . The welfare state is a drain and massive bureaucracy is a burden.

I have voted republican all of my adult life. My decision to side with conservatives is that they presume to be for smaller government and traditionally have stood for values that confirm my world view.

The republicans have not followed the Reagan formula, in my opinion, and have not fulfilled my desires for what government should be.

All of this is a lead in to what I believe Barak Obama should say in regards to the Wright controversy. If he said this, and meant it- I might be persuaded to support him.

He won't say this- but it was fun typing it!

My Fellow Americans,

I’m standing before you today as I have throughout my campaign for President wanting to serve this country and lead.

My faith has been a foundational part of this quest and strengthens me even now. I know that I am in the exact place where God wants me. I wish the process were easy, but I also know that an easy process would not be a proper preparation for the office.

I addressed the nation some weeks back in an effort to make sense of the controversy surrounding my former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He calls me a member and a politician and I call him a mentor and friend.

My relationship with Christ compels me to bear with others and forgive. The message of the gospel is one of universal flaw and individual responsibility. The gospel message is Christ’s atonement that covers man’s sin. Christ himself spoke of the potential divisive applications of his message. A holy God and flawed men creates constant dilemmas. This current dilemma regarding my pastor actually foreshadows the dilemma of being the highest executive officer of a pluralistic and free nation.

I am a Christian, and yet I will lead the hopes and dreams of people of many faiths. I am an African American, but will have to make decisions with no regard to color. The political lobbyists will hope to assume their usual roles in drafting the game plan for their President for what they want him to be. I am under no compulsion from any special group.

When Rev. Wright’s statements first hit the media, I realized the difficulty of the position I was in. To distance myself outright would appear disloyal and political, the very ideals I want my presidency to escape. It also puts my relationship with the black community in jeopardy because Rev. Wright couches his views behind the curtain of the black church.
I used the last situation with Rev. Wright to make a commentary on the complex issues of race in our country today.

I recently reviewed what I have said in my response to my former pastor. The words I spoke were true and filled with a desire to bring healing to our land.

Then I heard Rev. Wright’s answers to the media yesterday and I am appalled. I held out an olive branch, and he stripped off the leaves and used it as a switch to brow beat the American people.

I now am fully convinced that part of my Presidency should be to bring an end of this race baiting- not from the white community, but, sadly, from the black community.

I now openly condemn the bitterness of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and many others who see America in the lens of hatred. I believe firmly in their right to proclaim their views, but I boldly accept my responsibility to condemn it. In this country we treat addictive behavior, but we have an equal problem with cynical hearts.

America is not a terrorist nation. America did not invent the aids virus to use against the poor. Any person who espouses some of these ridiculous conspiracies, including the self-demolition of the World Trade Center, should be silenced by objective evidence and civilized discourse.

It is my faith that had me bear with Rev. Wright. It is that same faith today that has me denounce his venomous, non-biblical message. I want to be a human being who spares coat and service to those in need. However, I have erred. My mistake was walking miles too long with a man who I love for pointing me to Christ. This man has now pushed Christ out of the spotlight and is enjoying it all to himself.

I want to lead this nation past the debate of race. Dr King’s dream of’ judging the content of the character’ instead of the color of the skin needs to be seen in my desire to lead.
I ask your forgiveness in waiting too long to carry the mantle well and, as President, I will make sure it is a mantle for all Americans.

Prayer for America- Re-post

originally in November 2004

Dear God Our Father,
In this time of great division and danger, we ask that you help us. Not that we deserve it, but we want to continue to be a beacon of hope and a model of success. This life is a mixed bag and a temporary host. May you allow us to continue being a preservative of the natural entropy of order.
Lord, the churches are dark in the old land and selfishness reigns. Intellectual imperialism tickles the ears but salve no wounds. Our churches are flickering. Please revive us- give us soft hearts of love and united hearts of courage. We wimper in our prosperity and hoard our greed.
Be gracious to our leaders and heal our land.
In the name and example of Christ,

What's Wrong About Wright?

II Timothy 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

I write this particular post with great sadness. After listening to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright over the last two days, I have felt my heart torn into when I see the disunity of our country and particularly the church.

At the National Press Club, yesterday, I saw this disunity personified in the comments of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I heard a man who is so off the mark of true, Biblical Christianity that I bristle when I hear men call him a ‘scholar’….( “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth”).

Where do you begin attacking such faulty theology and practice? His views are so outrageous. What is Rev Wrights source of truth? It can’t be the Scriptures. He spoke of being accountable to God, but He is dangerously accountable to no one and is a poor representative of the God he says he represents. He is enjoying his spotlight time so much. It almost seems he is enjoying taking his 'member' down. Great shepherd, huh?

He mangled the gospel of forgiveness by implying that if it is not asked for and proven in restitution, it is not given.

News agencies do not want to solve any conflict- they sell the controversy.

Some leading African American leaders profit from the controversy.

No white person will even dare touch it.

We are in trouble if this downward spiral is not brought under control. Our only hope is repentance and revival.

I will re-post my prayer for America.
And the call is now to the church- we have to stand on the truth of God’s word and boldly proclaim the true gospel.

Lord, please forgive us and save us. Turn our hearts back to You.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Wealth of Wisdom- Help When I'm Weary

This is a Monday.

This is one of those Mondays where my head is spinning. I have a lot going on right now and it all seems to be pressing in on me.

So in the quietness of the morning I will pray. It will be an earnest prayer.

Then I will get up and take it one step at a time, trusting my Savior to lead me in the paths of righteousness.... for His name.

Read the passage below from Job. Mankind does some amazing things. But there is only one place for wisdom. When I'm in over my head... I'm thankful that I don't have to trust in me.
Father, I need Your wisdom!

Job 28:1 "People know how to mine silver and refine gold. 2 They know how to dig iron from the earth and smelt copper from stone. 3 They know how to put light into darkness and explore the farthest, darkest regions of the earth as they search for ore. 4 They sink a mine shaft into the earth far from where anyone lives. They descend on ropes, swinging back and forth. 5 Bread comes from the earth, but below the surface the earth is melted as by fire. 6 "People know how to find sapphires and gold dust – 7 treasures that no bird of prey can see, no falcon's eye observe – 8 for they are deep within the mines. No wild animal has ever walked upon those treasures; no lion has set his paw there. 9 People know how to tear apart flinty rocks and overturn the roots of mountains. 10 They cut tunnels in the rocks and uncover precious stones. 11 They dam up the trickling streams and bring to light the hidden treasures. 12 "But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? 13 No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living.

14 'It is not here,' says the ocean. 'Nor is it here,' says the sea. 15 "It cannot be bought for gold or silver. 16 Its value is greater than all the gold of Ophir, greater than precious onyx stone or sapphires. 17 Wisdom is far more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold. 18 Coral and valuable rock crystal are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above pearls. 19 Topaz from Ethiopia cannot be exchanged for it. Its value is greater than the purest gold.

20 "But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? 21 For it is hidden from the eyes of all humanity. Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it. 22 But Destruction and Death say, 'We have heard a rumor of where wisdom can be found.' 23 "God surely knows where it can be found, 24 for he looks throughout the whole earth, under all the heavens. 25 He made the winds blow and determined how much rain should fall. 26 He made the laws of the rain and prepared a path for the lightning. 27 Then, when he had done all this, he saw wisdom and measured it. He established it and examined it thoroughly. 28 And this is what he says to all humanity: 'The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.'"

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pillars of Purpose

I will turn 44 this August. I keep thinking at some point I will get a mid-life crisis. I can't remember having one or if I did, it was such a mild case there wasn't even a blip. If it is still to come, it make me feel better about mid-life. I'll take 88 or better.

I want to take a few posts to ramble about 4 foundation stones that have supported me, so powerfully, that my life is filled with excitement and peace. The architect of these stones is God the Father and the cornerstone is Jesus Christ. May all the glory go to Him as I relate these pillars of Purpose.

Dedication- I begin with dedication. What is the source of the sustainable desire to live for God and practice His truth? My dedication is wholly due to the glorious providence of God. Before the very foundation of the world, He graciously chose to adopt me into His family. At the right time, His spirit called be with an irresistible draw to which I responded by repentance and faith in the death of Christ as the covering of my sins. I am now being sustained by the power and working of His spirit. It is a persevering power. When I was little, I would 'turn over new leaves' and be a good boy for a little while. I actually made my bed everyday for 2 whole weeks! But every endeavor always wore thin and fizzled out. Since God's spirit has been in my life I have endurance to live and love. So when I say, "I'm dedicated"- it is due to His preserving sustenance and nothing within me. Sometimes, when I think I am at the end of my rope, tired and doubting, He comes to the rescue and fluffs the sails. Praise and thanks to Him alone!

Preparation- This dedication leads to preparation. God has given me a voracious appetite for truth. It begins in His word, which is my only rule of life and faith. But He has also given beautiful blessings of music, preaching, writing of other Christians and non-believers to push and prod, teach and transform. The internet can be used for evil, but it is my favorite source of knowledge. My hats off to monergism.com for pulling together the greatest resource of reformed ideas on the web! I could spend the rest of my life there. But with that I enjoy Ravi Zacharius, tons of itunes music, and random news from Matt Drudge. The Bible study, understanding doctrine (especially the Westminster Confession of Faith) and church history, and outside sources has prepared me even though I have miles to go. I am especially indebted to Covenant Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary for putting some of their courses online. I especially recommend Dr David Calhoun's courses at Covenant (all free!).

Proclamation- Preparation leads to proclamation. I am growing more excited about sharing my faith. Not just in a teaching ministry, but one on one. The Lord is making me aware of people that I need to share the gospel with and I am getting where I truly love doing it. Evangelism is not an activity for me to earn brownie points with God, but it is a privilege to be my Father's ambassador in this world. I want my words and actions to proclaim Him at all times!

Celebration- Finally....worship. Why has it taken me so long to learn how to worship my Creator and Savior? I can't explain how.. but my worship has been transformed. It is not a 'style'- I can worship in any environment. It is not a building- I can worship in a garbage can Worship is where I come to cry out to my God in celebration of all He has done for me. It is prayer and praise! It is hearing the Word being preached. It is especially sweet in the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's table.

I still have a long way to go in these 4 pillars. But my prayer is that you would find the sweetness of Christ in just this same way!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reformation Men’s Club Travels to Princeton University

The Reformation Men’s Club (RMC) traveled to historic Princeton University April 18-20 with Covenant Seminary Professor, Dr. David Calhoun. The theme of the weekend retreat was "Grace to Eternity: A History and Vision of Service to Christ's Kingdom."

Dr. Calhoun has authored a two- volume history of the University and Seminary. He writes, “From 1812 – 1929, Princeton Theological Seminary presented a coherent, continual effort to teach and practice what the Princetonians believed was historic Reformed Christianity. In this they were, in my opinion, successful. They taught theology as they found it in the Bible and it honored the faith and findings of Augustine, Calvin, and the Westminster Standards. They not only taught it, they lived it. They may have made mistakes, but they stood squarely in the great stream of historic Christianity and orthodox Calvinism.”

The group of 15 men stayed at the historic Nassau Inn in the heart of Palmer’s Square and enjoyed ‘the best spring day of the entire year’ according to a local shop owner. The Cherry trees were in full bloom and showered the campus with snow.

Dr Calhoun began Saturday morning with a history of Princeton before leading the group on a campus tour. This tour included an inspiring lecture in the famous “Oratory” of Alexander Hall. The group also had a pleasant and unscheduled encounter with Dr. Bill Frist, a Princeton Alum and current guest teacher.

After watching Princeton defeat Penn in an afternoon baseball game, the group then joined Dr. Calhoun at the Princeton cemetery often called ‘the Westminster Abbey of America’. Dr Calhoun shared stories of heroes of our faith as the group visited the tombs of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, President Grover Cleveland, and others.

Sunday morning included worship at Nassau Inn with Dr. Calhoun preaching a sermon on applying lessons from Princeton to both CPA and Covenant Seminary and concluded with a time of prayer and meditation in Princeton’s beautiful chapel, the 3rd largest on-campus chapel in the world.

In the end, the trip allowed the group to see the fruit of Dr. John Witherspoon’s Vision to “produce consecrated Christian students with an integrated and thoroughly Biblical world view”. This vision produced 114 clergy, the founders of ten colleges, 13 college presidents, 1 president of US (James Madison), 1 VP, 9 cabinet officers, 21 US senators, 3 supreme court justices, 12 state governors and 39 judges during his administration of 26 years.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

RMC Goes to Princeton

We have 15 men leaving from Nashville tomorrow headed to Princeton for a weekend trip with Dr. David Calhoun of Covenant Seminary.

I am really excited to see history up close and meditate on what made Princeton one of the most stalwart institutions for the historic reformed faith in America and what may have led to the dimming of that light.

As a Christian educator, I want God to make our school in Nashville like that renowned place of old. We want to be in the historic stream of the gospel and see men and women prepared to impact culture for Christ.

Hope to give a good report soon!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pushing Past Apathy

We finished up this week in Biblical Principles class a unit called "A Life of Meaning, Purpose, and Service". It comes at an interesting time for seniors. We are far enough past 'spring break' that they are counting the days left in 'teens'- the sun is out, the flowers are in bloom, and they will lose enormous amounts of energy for work in the few days ahead.

Class will become somewhat of a torture chamber and I will be figuratively beating dead bodies in mere days.

This was one more good last shot at trying to push them out of the lull that permeates the post-modern world of personal peace and affluence.

My greatest frustration with the current crop of teens (and there will always be frustrations- them with me and I with them) is the 'casualness' that robs their zeal for living. Sometimes it is seen in "I'm too cool to care" or worse "I'm callous and do not want to feel inwardly at all".

I am not an emotional or flamboyant teacher- I wake up some mornings this time of year and pray, "Lord, make me interesting today" to no avail. (That is why I am definitely a believer in differentiated teaching techniques).

But we all have to WAKE UP. Our post-modern carnage has left us fractured from no consensus- shallow from endless sound bites and sloganeering (please- no more snappy mission statements)- disillusioned from no appeal to truth, and fatigued from microwave, fast paced activities, but no form to support the pressure.

My message is that it is never too late. A great joy it is to say, "I'm tired of this world and I will now worship God is spirit and truth. I will trust Christ alone for salvation and serve him. I serve him by loving others. I love others by serving them."

The great thing is that it doesn't mean we have to live in monasteries. We live in the world He created, we enjoy all of life as He intended, we have the most freedom with the least regret. And we have no fear because of Christ's love.

My goal is to work, and pray, and even fast for this type of revival among our young people and in the church.

Classic NFL films show a coach giving a famous half time speech "You men can do it- you can do it- you can do it, but what's more.... YOU HAVE TO DO IT"

That is my message- when you see the past civilizations who have tried other world views and philosophies to support a culture, they always crumble and fall. Only the Christian consensus can hold us together. It is literally... turn or burn.

No need to fear- the remnant is always cared for. Cling to the cross regardless, but Oh Lord... for our children's sake- Let us see revival again"

"...it has become abundantly clear in the second half of the twentieth century that Western Man has decided to abolish himself. Having wearied of the struggle to be himself, he has created his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, his own vulnerability out of his own strength; himself blowing the trumpet that brings the walls of his own city tumbling down, and, in a process of auto-genocide, convincing himself that he is too numerous, and labouring accordingly with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer in order to be an easier prey for his enemies; until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keels over a weary, battered old brontosaurus and becomes extinct.”

- Malcolm Muggeridge, Seeing Through the Eye: Malcolm Muggeridge on Faith