Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thoughts on the Whole Duck Dynasty Uproar

  I have seen the flooding of social media where many have jumped on the band wagon of "I support Phil" over the past week since the indefinite suspension of Phil Robertson from A&E. Now let me first say that I like Phil Robertson and the rest of the crew. In fact I was a fan way back when they were putting out the old Duck Commander videos years ago and I own and use a few DC-100 duck calls myself. I have also had the opportunity to sit and visit with Phil and Mrs. Kay on a few occasions with Christian Hunters and Anglers Association but I have to say I am a bit concerned over the hype that has come about in the past week or so. Allow me to attempt to explain.

  Almost over night many changed profile pictures, posted and reposted, made angry comments, defended Phil and threatened boycott of A&E and Cracker Barrel. It is as if this was a huge surprise that someone or some organization would do such a thing so they boldly stand behind their facebook profile in anger. Here are a couple of issues I have noticed that kinda trouble me.

  First, who or what should you support? It has bothered me that so many say "I support Phil". Now I completely agree with Phil but here is the thing. The attack was not against Phil. It was against the Word of God. It was  direct assault on the Gospel. Phil Robertson, like many others, are simply heralds of the Gospel message. He is simply a man who like all other men can save no one but is obedient in sharing truth. The words he spoke are not our words but the words of God Himself which we as believers believe in and are sustained by.  Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. I pray that we not confuse the Duck Dynasty bandwagon with the Great Commission to share the Gospel.

  Secondly, Many act as though this came out of left field somewhere, completely unexpected. So many are appalled that something like this would happen.  The thing is it is supposed to happen. The Bible clearly teaches that persecution will come. In Matthew 10 Jesus tells us that He sends us out as sheep among wolves and we will be persecuted. Matthew 10:22 says "You will be hated by all for my name's sake". In the same chapter Jesus describes some of the persecution, such as flogging and being dragged before courts and even death. What has happened to the Robertsons is nothing like this. In fact I would bet to say that their stock has just gone through the roof, and Phil now has more time to hunt and fish without a camera in his face. This really is not much persecution at all but it upsets so many. What about Pastor Saeed who is being persecuted for real in Iran, or so many others that just recently lost their lives because of their faith in Christ? Where is the outrage and uproar for them? Often there is more outrage over a cancelled TV star than the hindering of the greatest news ever told. 

  So how should we respond to this? Here is what I suggest. We must realize that this is nothing new. The Bible teaches that things will get worse until Christ returns but we are to remain vigilant and obedient in sharing the truth just as Phil did.

 The passage that Phil spoke of is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

This passage addresses more that just homosexuality but also greed, idolatry, and revilers but look at what he says at the end. As such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of Jesus. Sin is sin and we all are in desperate need of a savior and Jesus is that savior. So I believe a correct response is pray and love. First pray for those this passage speaks of that are not washed. pray that God would save them. Pray for the homosexuals, swindlers, the greedy, the adulterers and the like. But also love them. Because we were there once too and someone saw sin in our lives and instead of pointing the shameful finger they pointed us the Jesus who washed us clean.

Also pray for those at A&E and Cracker Barrel and others. Now that's revolutionary right? That is the best battle tool we have against such persecution. Have you truly hit your knees and prayed for them? Prayed that God would open their eyes to saving truth and reveal His heart to theirs? 

As a pastor I welcome the homosexuals, drunkards, revilers and idolaters in our church. I pray that they come and see the truth of the Gospel and Jesus save them and equip them to battle the sin in their lives and live lives honoring to God. And from what I know of Phil Robertson and his family I bet they feel the same way.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What Are We Saved From?

Saved From What?

Just the other day I had a great conversation with a young man that is half my age. It is amazing to see how God speaks in such a way that humbles us and God truly spoke to me through this young man. Our conversation was of the culture of the American Church today and the fact that it is common or accepted to be a “Christian” where we live and is all but taboo if you are not. We discussed the fact that many people who profess to be a “Christian” claim that identity because they simply go to church, they attend a gathering and their name may be on a roll.
When you look at the truth in scripture there is much more to it than that. The word Christian in and of itself shows the identity that believers are supposed to have. That is identity in Christ, hence the name Christ-ian. We see in Acts 11:28 that the New Testament believers were called “Christians” at Antioch. Why, because they were disciples- followers of Christ.  I like how the pre-conversion Paul called “Christians” Those of the “Way” in Acts 9:2. This shows the identity that believers have in Christ and is just what Jesus meant in John 15:6 when He said “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  Through Christ! Identity in Him.
The simple truth of the Gospel is that Jesus is THE WAY. There is no other way to salvation but the Way Jesus provides. So here is where I get back to that conversation I had with this young man. It was centered around salvation. This young man made this profound statement regarding the American Christian culture. “Many Christians do not realize what they are saved from.”  So the question is what are believers saved from? Simple answer is that we are saved from ourselves because there is nothing in us that is truly good and seeks righteousness on our own. We see this in  Romans 3:10-12 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
So in essence God saves us from our destructive nature that condemns us to Hell eternally. It is the sin of man that condemns him to hell and only the grace of God through the blood of Christ that one is saved from that condemnation. I pray that sinks into our hearts and that we cherish this grace God gives even more. When we begin to understand and comprehend the magnitude of that Grace, the identity of being of The Way should be much more than simply attending a service or being on a roll but that He saved us from our destructive nature here and now.
Are we living like we know what we were saved from?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why do we believe what we believe?

  The question of why we believe is a very intriguing question to attempt to answer. For each person the answer varies and there are several influences that affect what each individual person, believer and non believer hold as the truth.  Fundamentally we believe what we are taught and I will attempt to explain my reasoning for this in how I came to believe what I believe.
   The first influence that had the most effect on me is what I was taught by my family. Parents are tasked with the paramount responsibility to teach their children as they grow and the parents adversely teach their children what to believe. For me I was raised in a God fearing home and was faithfully made to attend a strict Church of Christ local body. My parents instilled into me the basic theology of that denomination and because my parents taught me that as the truth I believed it.  I was taught that I was not “saved “ until I was physically immersed in water and to fear God as though he was going to punish me when I sinned. Such beliefs I regarded as the truth because I had the upmost respect for my parents and trusted that what they taught was the truth. Although I no longer hold to the theology of the Church of Christ I do not completely discredit the teachings of my parents. It was my dad who first introduced me to the Lord and savior Jesus and instilled in me the need to study God’s Word.
   The second influence that has had a great effect on my belief is our culture. I have lived most of my life in deep east Texas and if anywhere is considered the Bible belt it is here. In the area where we live it is the norm to get up every Sunday and put on your best and drive to a building where others have done the same and attend a service, then drive to a local restaurant or back home for the Sunday meal. This is expected in our culture. It is largely the norm to “attend” a church rather than be church. I too believed this. I thought that because everyone around me was attending a weekly meeting and hearing a pastor speak of God’s Word and at times were briefly emotionally moved but by noon the hunger pains had subdued that emotion and left shaking hands and patting the pastor on the back, we were doing what was right. I am not insinuating that all local bodies of believers see corporate worship this way but what I was taughtwas that’s all you had to do was just show up and do church. It was expected of me. I was not to go too far outside of my comfort zone and as long as I did not miss too many Sundays in a row I was ok. I was not taught directly that this was what to believe but it was what the culture around me was doing and I therefore looked at it as what to believe.
   The last influence I will address has had the greatest impact on my life and has drastically affected the first two influences I mentioned. This would be the personal reading, praying through and study of God’s Word. Although I was taught what to believe by my parents and shown by the culture I live in, when I stopped relying solely on others to tell or show me what to believe my eyes were opened. When I began to seek God and his will for me in His Word I found complete truth to believe in.  2 Timothy3:16-17 says “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training up in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good deed”.  I saw that God’s Word is perfect and if we dig into it we discover truth. I discovered that not all that what my parents held as the truth was not what I saw in God’s Word. Through studying I saw that issues such as baptism and fearing God that I was taught conflicted with what I read in the Bible. By simply reading and seeking God in His word I discovered also that the culture I was immersed in was in conflict with God’s Word. This culture is weighted in evangelism but severely lacking in discipleship. This culture taught me to admit, believe and confess but left out the go. It was not until I read over the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:38, Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23 where he says we must pick up our cross and follow Him. It was as though I had never heard this before. No one told me to go, only admit, believe and confess. These words of the Savior completely changed what I believe.
 There are many influences that effect what we believe, but when we allow the Holy Spirit to take the scales off of our eyes to see truth in God’s Word we see clearly what to believe.